Thursday, January 31, 2008

One Day Classes and My Two Cents

I would like to begin by stating that I am not in any way judging any Freemason that has or will (hopefully not) enter our Ancient organization by way of a "One Day Class", I would just like to add my two cents to the many diatribes against the faulty practice.

I understand how they came about.
"Modern man" after "modern man" telling the old guard of the craft that they would love to join the brotherhood, but three separate multi hour long arcane initiations is just too hard to fit in between work, going to the gym, and episodes of "24". My brethren caught between the ever pressing need of new members and the 300 year old enlightenment age traditions, deceided to take a page from the Scottish Rite's play book and fill large auditoriums with warm bodies to get as many dues paying members paying dues as quickly as possible. It was a short term solution to the problem of an entire generation of men who scorned their fathers and any traditional institution that they believed in or belonged to.
This was the generation that stopped going to church, hated our government, and lived in an selfish, love making, drug induced haze in the Id. Bodily pleasure was equated with happiness and the old men and women who saved the World from fascisim were thought to be stuck in a Beaver Cleaver fantasy world where women were forced into the slave lobor status of staying at home and caring for their family, while the men of the house wasted their free time holed up in smokey, boozed up clubs wearing weird hats. This traditional family was the antithesis to "free" living.
Skip forward a couple generations to the "x'ers". Some were raised by hippies, some by traditional hold outs, and most by families who were somewhere inbetween. Their grandparents were now being recognized as the "Greatest Generation" and their parents free living ways were reigned in by the necessity for paying bills and raising their families. This generation, of which I am a member of, were born into a world were there was an ever present looming evil of Communisim and nuclear war. We watched re runs on our black and white tv's when we were little, listened to our parents records on phonographs and later played games on those tv's where a line and dot represented the collest thing you have ever done (pong).
My family was more traditional with a little free living mixed in. I was raised never to judge someone on the basis of the color of their skin but the content of their character. We went to church on sunday but I was given the freedom to choose what I believed in, not told how. I never questioned that Lucy and Rickky Ricardo slept in separate beds or that June Cleaver was always baking cookies, I just loved the simple stories of families living their lives. My grandfather served in World War II and my father did two tours in Vietnam. They instilled in me a deep love for my country and an understanding of what it is to serve.
They were also both Knights of Columbus, so I kind of grew up around a fraternal world. As I became a man I had always knew I would join an organization like the Knights, but the Catholic exclusivity of the Knights never rang right in my heart. None the less, I still almost became one after my stint in the Navy due to the extremely cheap beer and my love of the sudsy beverage but I could never get myself to one of the introductory meetings.
As I matured and married and had kids I longed for an organization to belong to. After having read about Freemasonry in various books and seeing one too many History Channel programs I deceided that Freemasonry was what I was looking for. I then went into research mode and read everything I could click or get my hands on about the fraternity. The more I read the more I liked everything about what the order stood for. When I took that first step it was not blindly but it was certainly alone, because I did not know anyone who was in or had ever had any contact with Masonry.
I must admit that in my research I had read an expose that detailed the first degree before I went through it, and I have regretted it ever since I actually went through it. The initiation would have been all the more meaningful without the knowledge of what was going to happen next. I did not read about the last two degrees and would not trade in those experiences for anything, they were truely sublime. I took the whole initiation experience very seriously and paid strict attention to the brethren delivering the arcane knowledge and reflected upon the symbols afterward. It was the foundation that I have built my love for the craft on.
If, after all that research and reflection and the hard decision to petition for the mysteries of Freemasonry, I had been stuck in an audience watching an exemplar going through the initiation I wanted to be a part of, I would have been extremely dissapointed with my decision to join. It is the mystery and personal experience of the whole thing that forges the chain of union that holds together our brotherhood. If we all lived up to that brotherhood vow a little more, we would be in a entirely different place than we are now. We have to return the dignity and specialness that is the main difference of our order and other organizations out there.
I dont believe Connecticut is going to do anymore one day classes. If a man needs to be made a Mason in one day because of the time constraints of his life he needs to search for some other fraternity, we need men who want to spend time with their brothers, not just dues paying warm bodies never to be seen in lodge again.


Jim said...


I match pretty closely to your description (except my parents, not grandparents, are of the "Greatest Generation") and I also followed a similar path into Freemasonry. Waiting a time with patience is something that most don't want to do at the time, but in retrospect, I'd wager that it is almost always deemed more desirable to do so. Spreading my degrees over several months gave me excellent opportunities to learn more about Freemasonry and ponder what I had learned. It also required that I had to specifically decide to go forward one step at-a-time instead of taking it all in at once.

That said, I now am considering petitioning the York Rite. (I have some personal religious disagreements with some of the Scottish Rite content, but that is my own personal bias.) In my area, all of the York Rite degrees are conferred over two Saturdays. As I understand it, the York Rite differes from the Scottish Rite in that the candidates participate fully in the rituals as opposed to typically being spectators. I just hope that the participatory aspect of receiving the York Rite degrees will outweigh the fact that all are conferred over two days.

M.M.M. From the North Eastern Corner said...

I too thought about joing the York Rite but am holding off because I want to concentrate on my Blue Lodge. Unfortunately I believe the York Rite in Connecticut is now using exemplars! UGH! I dont know if its true but I heard someone say that they are.

J.L.M. from The North-East Corner said...

Great Commentary. In my opinion, I agree with your last paragraph. Also, for myself, I went through all three degrees by myself, it was a special night for me and every brother made me feel as if they were honoured to be there, for me. And I hope that I will always have the same attitude for any new brother that joins. I don't think you can really get those feelings from one day classes, and therefore a lot of what Freemasonry is, is lost. Its tenets are Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. These are truly taught in the degrees, but can they be taught fully in one day classes?
Again, great commentary!

King Lexo said...

I say "Stand up" and voice your view, the newage is upon us but if we sit by silent it will take over all we cherish, I have read alot about the "one day" class, Im from a 4 letter in Los Angeles, we just had a grand raising a few weeks back, and I was so excited my father would tell me to calm down and dont get in the way......I was all over the place making sure it was done right however long it took, the experiance of the "play" is what it's all about. To me "one day" classes a canidate wont get the deep love of ours, pass or fail ?, cause I cant gauge my 24 inch gauge correctly ?

Question can you fail in a one day class ?