OK, maybe I'm being a bit dramatic, but honestly when I read about this in Facebook groups or hear Brethren discuss this topic you would think the lodge room as we know it will cease to exist. (Yes I'm braced and ready for the comments when this piece is published.)
Since I became a Freemason I have heard the constant arguments amongst Brethren on many subjects. Most of these arguments are good natured and have been discussed by members for years: how to wear your ring, the pronunciation of certain words, how to hold your rod in lodge…etc. Most of these make good conversation while eating dinner. But there is one subject that will bring usually good natured brothers close to blows: one day classes. Nothing will throw peace and harmony out the window as the mere thought of participating in a one day class.
Both sides of the argument have plenty of ammunition to use. Each has their point of view, either Pro or Con...
The pro side says one day classes are a great way to bring in new members who under usual circumstances, couldn't or wouldn't become members of the Fraternity. These young men work odd hours or don't have the time to devote three evenings to go through the degrees “the usual way.” A man can walk into an auditorium in the morning, receive the three degrees of Freemasonry, have lunch, become a thirty second degree Scottish Rite Mason and finish off the day by donning the red fez of the Shriners and go home with the knowledge he now possesses within his heart the mysteries of Masonry and has started his journey to become a better man, just like he was promised.
The con side believes that one day classes are just a way for Grand Lodges to rake in new revenue from the dues of these unknowing young men who are blind to the fact that “they’re doing it wrong”, that their Grand lodge is just trying to bolster their membership numbers. “You might as well put in a drive-thru lane at the temple!” has often been heard in the Tyler's room of many lodges throughout the country. Thus, the term “McMasons” has been created. The con side believes a young man who wishes to receive further light must visit the lodge in which he petitioned and progress through the Masonic degrees as many of us have done since time immemorial. The con side also differs from their “pro” counterparts in the opinion that the man should advance through these degrees alone. Multiple candidates taking the same degrees should be discouraged, or outright prohibited. There seems to be no common ground between these two warring factions.
Most of us know that Masonry is a lifelong journey; if this is the case, then why does the way a new Brother is obligated matter? Whether he was on his knees in a small lodge room, or in a large auditorium with the assistance of a mentor, that man repeated the same obligation as you did: that vow to help, aid and assist. I don't remember repeating words such as “unless he was raised in a one day class” in my obligation. Most of us say Masonry needs new members to survive. If we need this influx of new men why are we alienating the ones we are getting?
We need to treat all of these men on the level, and help them take their first upright step on their path in Masonry. These men asked to join our fraternity, and went to the trouble of going through our petitioning process. They deserve our respect, and the title of “Brother”.
Let's put all of these silly differences behind us. In the end we are Brothers, and deserve to be treated as such. Let's get back to that noble emulation of “he who can best work or best agree”. It's time we turn these swords into trowels and restore peace and harmony to our Gentle Craft.