Monday, March 9, 2015
So, this is going to get a little weird but that's cool. I'm going to defend Shrine. I know, I know, Hipster Mason Nick should be all, "nah, man, Shrine is like so not cool. Yeah." I am not a member of Shrine but I may join them one day. In fact, I donate to the hospitals every year. Why is there so much animosity towards Shrine? Here is my theory: they are the single biggest men's only organization within our Craft. They are the behemoth, the leviathan.
The Shrine does serve a purpose, not only through its charitable endeavors but also, and this is my frank opinion, they serve as the fraternal aspect that so many Lodges seem unable or worse yet, unwilling to take part. Freemasonry is, first and foremost, a fraternity. Yes, it's true that we teach our brothers lessons that are good to improve their moral character but without the brethren, a Mason can never truly be made.
Freemasonry can, at times, be quite dour with many brothers having a rather navel gazing view of our Craft, seeking to make Freemasonry only about its spiritual lessons. Could you imagine how boring that would be, how skull-crushingly dull that is (maybe some of you could after reading the minutes for the second time in two hours). We have to remember that our Craft was developed and formalized in taverns and pubs. Let's have some fun once in a while.
Sadly, our Lodge rooms filled with the stodginess and boredom, looking to drive any sense of fun from the practice of speculative Masonry. Even today, we see the effects of community pressure and internal "dullification" from more than a century still within our Fraternity, such as our outdated policies on alcohol and doing business only on the third degree (thankfully, not a Minnesota thing anymore). We needed an organization that sought to bring back some of that fraternal spirit that had been wrung dry from Freemasonry.
Frankly, Shrine has done more things to move forward into the new century than any of the other organizations, save the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite. The Shrine is on Twitter, it's on Facebook. It is highly engaged with its community.
So, what lessons can we pull from this? The most important one to me is that we, Freemasonry, need to allow for more festiveness within our Craft. Table lodges aren't enough. Some lodges get this. BBQs and the like. But so many lodges just come together, call the meeting open, blah, blah, blah for a couple of minutes, and then close and jump into cars to drive home. How about, instead, we actually enjoy each other's company?
We also need to be more engaging on social media. It's not that difficult. Start a Facebook page, start a Twitter. Become engaging.
I know that some of you will see this as a cop out. I see it as finding ways to improve our Craft using other examples within it. Get engaged and have some fun. I can't see anything wrong with that.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.