Monday, March 11, 2013

Shrine Questions

I'm not ready to join anything big (monthly meetings or more). Between working nonstop at Lodge and in the York Rite and having a family and a job, I have very little free time. Yet, during one of my mindless thought experimentation sessions on the bus to work today, I actually found myself thinking about Shrine.

As I'm sure many American and Canadian Masons will attest, if you are a Freemason, at least once in your lifetime, you will receive a petition to join the Shrine. I have received three. My maternal grandfather was a Shriner but my paternal grandfather stayed away from Shrine. Each made a conscious decision concerning whether to join Shrine.

I'm not yet convinced to join Shrine. I'm not looking for a scotch and cigar club as I drink very little and never smoke. I don't like circuses (I'm still scared of clowns at 30 years of age). And if you ask my wife, she'll tell you that I'm just not a parade guy (too many years in marching band killed any joy in them). So I have to ask, is there anything else? I donate to the hospitals and I appreciate the Legion of Honor Degree Team but is there anything besides parties, cigars, parades, and clowns?

I started to think about clubs that would interest me. During one of the many petition situations, I was told that clubs were "the thing" when it comes to Shrine but they can get expensive. As I looked through the lists, not a lot was popping out at me.

"Parade, parade, parade... clowns [shivers], parade, parade, parade, ham radio, hmm... [writes down on pad]... parade, cigars... wow, not much."

Then I thought, "why not a club for gamers?" Nah, I play video games at home.

"Why not a tabletop RPG or Magic club?" Again, I play these at home. (Well, not these anymore since I have no friends who play them. Perhaps a +1 to Charisma?)

"Hmm, a Shrine movie club?" Maybe but still, probably not.

Anything?

Every idea coming to me was something I did with my friends without requiring a "group" to organize them. We just did them.

I've been told that there's a lot of family activities, which is cool, but I really need more to jump in and join. I mean, are these family events something I could just do at my lodge? My lodge is already pretty open to family events as it is, what with family picnics, table lodges, and sweethearts' nights. Are the Shrine events that much better or significantly different?

And, I'm not trying to belittle Shrine. The hospitals are important and wonderful institutions dedicated to alleviating pain and suffering of kids. I just want to know if there's something for a guy like me outside of my yearly check to Shriners' Hospitals.

Help me out Shriners and non-Shriners. Why have you or haven't you joined Shrine? Comment below.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nick,

I also have not joined the Shrine (yet). I am currently the Junior Past Monarch of Selim Grotto. We meet in Anoka on the first Friday of the month. We have a small group of Prophets, maybe the size of a club, but we are family-first. We saw a need for a group of Masons that get together for fellowship, but also for our ladies and our children to meet each other. It makes for a great night. We get to see guys from other Lodges, but it is not a "night that Daddy is gone." The ladies all hang out and the kids all hang out.
We have our philanthropic endeavors, a quick business meeting, we do have a clown unit, and have a ceremonial, but those all take a distant second of sharing fellowship with all.

PM Todd Mayer
Selim Grotto

Luke says Moo! said...

It all depends on the culture of the various groups you're a member of. I like guys that get together to cause a little hell from time-to-time & the Lodge isn't the place for that while the Shrine will allow it.
Secondly, the Shrine came to exist to allow for socialization that usually included a drinking club (it was started at a lunchtime bar).
If your Lodge can handle whatever "extra" socializing you want to do then joining the Shrine isn't very valuable. At the same time, joining the Shrine may help jump start something you want to do. The longest running DnD group I was in was based off of guys from the Shrine (most of them I wouldn't have met otherwise event though Lodge due to geography).
Basically, do a ROI on anything you want to do: it may be easier to just add events to your blue Lodge.

Lee Love said...

I like scotch. At Cataract, we have an annual event at the Frozen Fore on Gull Lake that includes scotch tasting. It is not just getting snockered on booze, but being educated about the finer points of scotch. It is great to get together with brothers outside of ritual, business and officers meetings. These retreats are a good way to get to know each other better. Many shrine events are like this and allow a more relaxed fellowship.
I joined the Zuhrah Shrine to become a member of the Zuhrah Pipe and Drum Band. When I first moved back from 10 years in Japan, I looked into becoming a Mason and learning how to play the bagpipes (both inspired by experiences in Japan, too complex to mention here.)
I never thought I'd be doing both together! One day I was at the Scottish Rite temple, after passing all the degrees, and heard a bagpipe being played. I think I was at practice for a small part in the 29th degree, The Knights of St. Andrew Degree (it was on a Monday, not the "normal" Thursday degree night.) And a brother told me, "That is the Zhurah Pipe and Drum band practice. The practice here at the temple on Monday evening. I said, "Really!? I want to learn to play!" He said, "I am a member. You should come some Monday at 7pm and see if you want to join."
I did and I joined and went through the ceremonial in December for Zhurah. I am a 59 year old guy learning the bagpipes, being taught by band pipers. The band plays at parades and other events, including Blue Lodge, Grand lodge and Temple events. They play at officers installations and funerals. They raise money for good causes doing something they really love. They have to love it because practice is every week, have 17 parades and events already scheduled (there is talk of more.) You have to be willing to make a commitment. I am slowly making adjustments so I can put in the time. It isn't just smoking cigars and drinking Scotch, or playing D&D.
I only know what the Pipe and Drum Band does. I hope others will chime in about other units.
It is good men doing what they love to support great causes. Like the Scottish Rite, you meet folks who don't necessarily live near your Blue lodge, so you get to know a broader spectrum of brothers.
I think, like most of Masonry, the Shrine looks a lot different from the outside looking in, that it does from the inside.

Nick Johnson said...

I think all of you touch on the same thing, summed up in the words of Joseph Campbell, "Follow your bliss." If you find something in these extra-Masonic groups, then you are doing it right.

Nick

Lee Love said...

Ooops! I forgot to check the box to have future replies forwarded.

I've had a longtime interest in the work of Joseph Campbell and also MW Brother Carl Jung (who was Master of the Grand Lodge of Switzerland), because of their work on symbolism and metaphor. I've wondered how Jung's Masonic education helped him develop his universal reading of symbolism vs. Freud's perspective that was primarily focused on sexuality.
I agree "Follow Your Bliss." But don't judge the extra-Masonic groups from the outside.
Shriners do dress up and "have fun", but they do something outside of ritual and stated meetings, often of a practical bent (like being a musician) that raises money for good causes.

Jay Simser said...

As a former member of the Shrine I will tell you that I found nothing there for me. Even the fundraising events seem to be for "Shrine Activities" rather than the hospitals (which ARE a great charity) - I also strongly object to the Shrine Circus because of the treatment of elephants. I make a donation to the Elephant Sanctuary instead of paying Shrine Dues. Masonry is a "big tent" and Lodges can organize many activities around the needs and desires of its members. They can be family oriented or as in our case even to going to a movie or a play together. Whatever you want. Just take some leadership and organize it. We (all) need to put our efforts into our Lodges first and then enjoy the appendant bodies as we have time and money. Don't make the mistake of joining everything and forgetting your Lodge. Wait until you are retired to branch out. That said I have never been sorry that I joined the York and Scottish Rites. The additional light they shed on my first three degrees has been wonderful

Lee Love said...

Zuhrah Pipe and Drum Band are playing for the MV SR 29th degree. The band plays at many Grand Lodge and Blue Lodge events.