The King Arthur Effect

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Ken JP Stuczynski

*Editors Note* This was to be published in 2017, just before The Grand Lodge of New York's annual communication. The local Masonic paper went out of business before its next issue and so was never published.

Last year, it was proposed to amend the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of New York to require that Elected Grand Lodge Officers must be Past Masters. Currently, someone who is "merely" a Brother may become Grand Master, at least in theory. The likelihood of such a nomination and election seems infinitesimal, and the potential chaos that might ensue would be great if such did happen. So maybe we should ask ourselves why it was not written that way, to begin with. Perhaps there is another reason.

One legend of King Arthur begins with "the sword in the stone." Anyone who can pull the sword from the stone proves himself to be the rightful heir to the throne. Anyone may try, and hypothetically anyone could succeed. All myth intends a purpose, be it a moral lesson or a deeper message that resonates such with the human heart that it becomes timeless and endures. Surely no well-regulated kingdom would choose someone with no pedigree or experience as a leader. So what is the message?

Such a thing is not a matter of jurisprudence, but a principle. It is not that this or that particular man is qualified, but that any man, in general, can be noble and worthy of even the highest honor. It is not simply a childish fantasy or hope, but the most potent way to pronounce belief in a true meritocracy. This timeless sentiment, refined over the years into a political virtue, was transmitted through Freemasonry to the very founding of our nation. You need not have held office to be President.

This is a very similar argument to the question of [lowering] lawful age in our Fraternity. Are we so afraid of our own bad judgment that we would accept someone unworthy that we must maintain a law that equally rejects all younger worthy gentlemen amidst our ranks? If we cannot be trusted in our judgment to allow younger adults or allegedly less qualified Masons to join or sit in the Grand East, how can we claim to trust ourselves to discern the merits of older adults or Right Worshipfuls? At what point do years and titles supersede character and merit?

These questions may be answered with cold logic, as a matter of law and order. But perhaps the answer will be different if we see it for something more noble and glorious -- a statement of principle and equal opportunity that will sort itself out by our own good judgment and the providence of the Great Architect. It will be interesting to see which view will have prevailed by the time you read this.

{The decision was made to require anyone aspiring to be Grand Master to have served as Master of a Lodge in New York State. It would have been unanimous except for one vote.}


Bro. Ken JP Stuczynski is a member of West Seneca Lodge No.1111 and recently served as Master of Ken-Ton Lodge No.1186. As webmaster for NYMasons.Org he is on the Communications and Technology Committees for the Grand Lodge of the State of New York. He is also a Royal Arch Mason and 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, serving his second term as Sovereign Prince of Palmoni Council in the Valley of Buffalo, NMJ. He also coordinates a Downtown Square Club monthly lunch in Buffalo, NY. He and his wife served as Patron and Matron of Pond Chapter No.853 Order of the Eastern Star and considered himself a “Masonic Feminist”.

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