Alright, wipe all that away...that's just me griping on the same old same old. I was chatting with my Sr. Warden, Spencer the other day and it came up again--setting the bar low from the get go. What does that top paragraph have to do with this short essay? Well, it's what leads up to the next part of the story. The Worshipful Master assigns the new candidate an Intender or a coach to learn his catechism. Let me stop here for a quick moment and address the readers. I know there are jurisdictions that do not have catechisms. The candidate simply waits a month in between degrees. You guys...you're all nuts, and this piece isn't for you. (I would insert an emoji of a face sticking his tongue out here if I could.)
So here we are, the coach comes to the new Entered Apprentice and says, "Here is what you need to memorize. I will work with you, don't worry." Awesome right? Then, in the same breath says, "But if you can't, there's a short form. And if you can't do that, I just need to make sure you understand it."
Whoa, buddy! Put on the breaks. Are we just assuming out of the gate our candidate isn't adept enough to memorize this thing? Isn't this the candidate that ran through the entire dialogue of the latest Marvel installment? Yes there are men who have legitimate issues. Let's not get hung up here.
Something else Spencer and I talked about was when before the man ever even petitions, we say things like, "Yeah, the meetings are once a month, but don't worry if you can't make it." Or one of Spencer's favorites, "Oh, the dues? Yeah don't worry, they're cheap."
Spencer told me, "We want good men right? You might just characterize a “good” man as someone engaged, bright, curious, dependable, and eager to work. In short, someone who values and understands hard work and investment leading to achievement and satisfaction. So why then do we make it a point to tell our new “good” men that in this Masonry thing, there’s really no challenge, no personal investment, and actually we’ll go out of our way to make it as simple and non-committal as possible?"
Spencer continued, "That will really have them knocking down our door, bic pen-filled glossy petition barely dry. If we’re actually honest with ourselves, we know what the proverbial membership riddle is and how to crack it, but we're either too proud to admit we jumped the shark from the initial candidate investigation, or too lethargic to change our practices and attitudes."
What in the world are we doing? Why are we always looking to cut the obligation of being a Freemason to the lowest possible difficulty?
This is my question. Let's start a dialogue. What have you witnessed? Why do we do this? Comment below!
In my opinion, this is done to ensure we don't lose a man. But honestly, when someone tells me how cool something is and then immediately follows it all up with how unimportant showing up is, how cheap it is and how easy it will be...I'm left asking myself, "Who the hell wants that?"
"What we attain too cheap, we esteem too lightly." - Thomas Paine
RWB, Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183 UD. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatrewhich focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry" and is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.