Thursday, September 3, 2015

Project 353: Agape Lodge


This is a guest post from my good friend and brother, Bro. Matt Gallagher of Braden Lodge No. 168. He also blogs at Stones 'n Bones. This post is about the lodge he and I are putting together and need your help. Yes, you.

Freemasonry adapts. Before our warehouse/office complex masonic centers, before our once lush, now crumbling masonic temples, brothers would gather where they could, settling themselves on pickle barrels on the second floor of a Five and Dime, educating and bettering themselves. And before that, the tavern lodge, where brothers would meet in a well-tyled tavern or public house. These were as much social gatherings as stated meetings, and education continued well past the rap of the Master's gavel, into the late, late evening over dinner, drinks, and strong black coffee.


It is in the spirit of this tradition, perhaps not "traditional observance" in its modern usage, but in its colonial one, that we're launching an expedition to explore newer, more flexible, and more self-sustaining lodges.

Project 353: Agape Lodge

Agape is a concept lodge exploring the ritual of feasting. Meeting monthly, likely on a Saturday night, nine months out of the year (we'll be dark January, July, and August). The winter and summer feasts of St. John will be our mid and end-season finales. 

How is this different than my current lodge?

First, at this stage Agape should be a mason's affiliate lodge. While we would like to reserve the right to perform table lodge degrees, a fully armed and operational masonic lodge, as you probably think of it, is not something we can initially, or even want to be. So if you get a lot out of your current lodge, think of us as premium bonus. 

Second, all the work will happen around the dinner table. We're not the first in Minnesota to do this, but we hope to be the best. The lodge will open, do business, call to refreshment, eat, call again to labor, have education, and close, all around the table, and not necessarily in that order, all in compliance with Minnesota Grand Lodge requirements.

Third, this lodge will be small and flexible. We may choose a single location meet, or move around. We haven't decided yet, but that's the point. We don't need to put anything in stone, and we don't need to be tied to expensive buildings or restrictive leases. We will be serious and elegant, but everything we need should be able to fit in the back of a minivan.

How is this the same as my lodge? 

It's pretty much the same thing, just more personal and flexible. We'll have lodge furnishings and regalia, but adapted to our use. We'll have committees, and business to attend to. And we'll have education in the oldest classroom on Earth: the supper table. The master of the lodge will not just conduct rituals and degrees, he will conduct exciting and on-point conversations about the Craft. 

You have questions. Ask them. But what we need, in order to explore the best answers, are interested parties. Dues are expected to be easily manageable, and ideally all-inclusive. Easy-going conversationalists are a must!

If you are interested, please fill out this brief survey: PROJECT 353: AGAPE LODGE

We hope you can join us, and if you can't, we at least hope you can support us. Freemasonry isn't the building, it's the brothers, and the work we do.


Memento Mordere... Remember to chew!

I don't normally do this with guest articles but seeing as how I'm also extremely involved in this very cool project, I just wanted to drop a note. Agape Lodge is one lodge in a series of lodges that we (a certain unnamed Mason and I) are calling Lightweight or Micro Lodges. The goal is to think smaller and grow smarter. An article describing the principles and tenets of lightweight lodges will be forthcoming but please be patient. The specifics are still being designed and worked out.

Comments? Post them below.

9 comments:

Tom Accuosti said...

+1

For anyone not in your area who might be interested, I'd like to offer up a similar concept that we've been doing in Connecticut:

Quinta Essentia Lodge No. 500
http://www.quintaessentialodge500.org/

Good luck! I hope this takes off.

Angelo said...

What gap is this supper club intending to fill? What's missing in the local Masonic experience that is driving this need? Wouldn't it be easier to organize the same dinner after one of your lodge meetings each month? This idea seems like it's diluting the importance of the Craft by saying "come to dinner, maybe some Masonry will happen." Yes, our over-romanticized forebears met in taverns and dining halls, but most writings show they had the agape after the meeting, not the meeting at the table. All of the various and assorted lodges and appendant bodies have "outer lodge" gatherings. Why add yet another charter and over-complicate things? Brothers already gather for meetings and degrees. Is it that hard to organize a dinner, even if a separate night from lodge meeting? Why does this supper club need or warrant a charter. Personally, I hope this idea dies a quick death.

Ed Halpaus said...

Please remove Ed Halpaus' site from your list of sites. I have not used anything with Halpaus.net in years, and that site has obviously been taken over by a unwholesome group. Thank you Ed Halpaus

Raconteur said...

Angelo is the example of the logical fallacy so many make. They're eating and having a good time, so masonry must not be happening.

They're not in a musty old building listening to a dry educational paper so they must be complicating things.

Brother, this is masonry simplified down to its most valuable features, and is practiced seriously and dynamically, and freemasonry at its best.

Nick Johnson said...

I will remove very soon. Thanks for letting me know.

Angelo said...

Why have a lodge then? Why not just call it what it is, a supper club with some guys talking smart? Raconteur and these others involved with this are obviously of the "Masonry is primarily a social organization for fellowship," stuck on the idea that by simply hanging out and talking smart, good men become better by some sort of esoteric osmosis.

You show that you have blinders about what could happen in lodge. Yes, many (most?) meetings are dry dull affairs. So is the solution to give up the ship and have your "fellowship" elsewhere? Why not spend your limited time and Masonic energy to improve what you have, make meetings about improvement, thinking, challenging men, with time for self-reflection? Or is that too much for most Masons today, who just want the social, with just a small side of intellectual work? That seems to be what these guys want.

Nick Johnson said...

Removed.

Raconteur said...

Well, I don't really know what else to say, Angelo. Thanks for your input, I suppose, but frankly yours isn't the mind we're trying to convince.

You seem to think we're lacking these things in our home lodges. On the contrary, we have them and want more of them. Our education is Socratic and discussion based, hearkening back to the mystery schools, and I'd like to think people will come out of them with more practical and esoteric information to improve their own lives, and the brotherly love which will let them apply those lessons and succeed in their goals.

The education you seemed to have experienced has left you wishing for your brothers' failure. So I don't really know where that comes from.

Nick Johnson said...

I see you're using supper club to describe something that isn't a supper club. I get it. You want to minimize what this is. You want to make it sound like it's nothing more than a social club. But it's not.

Let's go with your vision of history. Would Voltaire have sat around a dinner table discussing the philosophical concepts of the day? (Yes...) Ben Franklin? (Yes... What are you getting at?)

Of course not. They sat around a non-food room, with lots and lots of mold to ensure that the building was old enough to have sustained that level of water damage, discussing the price of candles that they would need to buy because, "the lesser lights were cheaper during my year."

Also, this idea that we should only be in the business of saving existing lodges is the reason we are involved in this mess. Lodges should be different, they should experiment, try new things, and most importantly, form from whole cloth to meet existing demand. We don't always need to be in the business of saving some lodge because of some imagined duty to resurrecting the past.

As Raconteur mentions above, we are happy with our lodges. I love Corinthian. This is just +1 awesome. It's a different style. I want to do what I loved doing as a kid, discussing things around a dinner table. Some of the best conversations I've ever had have happened at the dinner table. This shouldn't shock anyone. Food and conversation has been a way to transmit information for millennia. We are social creatures that use food as a meeting place. Many religions continue to practice this, as do many other educational groups and settings.

So, with all this said, we are trying this experiment. We need to have all forms for all people. So, you can hope for us to fail or you can encourage us. Frankly, we have enough people cheering us.

-Nick