Thursday, September 17, 2015

Project 353: Sharpening Our Knives



Bro. Matt has written our followup post answering questions and concerns some brothers have. Let's maintain a dialogue as we continue moving forward. You can also like our Agape Lodge Facebook page here.

Update


We've received a fantastic response to Agape Lodge from some very talented Minnesota Masons. We'll be announcing a planning meeting soon exclusively for those who have signed up, so if this is something you want to do, please fill out the survey HERE.


We've also received some confused, and even negative responses. This is okay. This is something new. Dare we say, this is even an *cue scary music* an innovation in Freemasonry!

New ideas get resistance. That's great. They should get resistance. You sharpen a knife against an
unyielding stone. I've written about this before on my own blog.

For those who are resistant to change, like our old pal, Brother George, we wanted to address some concerns that have come up.

Can a lodge move around? Don't they have to have a building?

Yes, a lodge can travel around. We have an extremely successful one in Minnesota already that operates in much the same way, Sir Winston Churchill Lodge. They mostly meet in brothers' homes.

Hmm...sounds clandy. Is it legit? 

Good question. Let's ask one of its members.



...seems legit.

Okay, but can you meet in restaurants? 

It's a hurdle, no doubt. There has always been resistance to meeting in public places, but we believe that a well-tyled lodge actually takes a little effort. If we can tyle a quarry, or a hotel ballroom each year, we can tyle a banquet room with one or two doors.

Will you be drinking during meetings?

We're not serving alcohol during meetings. We will adhere to all rules regarding alcohol set by the Minnesota Grand Lodge AF&AM.

So you don't think a building is important for Freemasons?

We don't think it's important for every Freemason, for sure. Both Nick and I love our temples, and having a hangout is important for masons, but what we're trying to do is normalize the option of having different types of lodges, because we don't believe in the one size fits all concept of freemasonry. We think that lodges could certainly meet downtown on people's lunch hours, in a meeting room. We think that lodges can meet in peoples' homes or bars.

My lodge needs dues from all two-hundred of our members to stay alive. How are you going to make it with just a few guys?

We think that lodges can exist that have purposely low membership. They can make easier, faster budget decisions, and essentially have the power and ability to be what the members want it to be, without having to worry about angering a hundred other brothers who don't show up, but whose dues you can't survive without.

I'm worried this lodge will fail and that will damage Minnesota Masonry.

We're in this for the long haul, but I can't hold your hand and promise that everything will last forever and ever. Lodges fail.

Right now, sadly, we have a situation in place where Masons feel shame for a lodge that shuts its doors, and that they have failed in some way. Brothers, a lodge only fails when its brothers fail to become better men, and that happens in some of the biggest, oldest lodges in the world. Why do we worry about this?

Our ancient brethren would travel to many places and receive a charter to organize for a specific purpose; for building a specific structure. When they were done, the charter was dissolved and they traveled to new lands, chartering new lodges. That's ok. That's actually how it's supposed to work.

We think lodges can be convened for specific, limited purposes. As long as they're doing the work of the craft, they're succeeding.

Will you meet in a different place every time, or will Agape meet in the same place or same places regularly?

Totally up in the air right now. This will necessarily be a group decision, which is why it's so important that you be part of the conversation.

Will you be initiating, passing, and raising new Masons?

It's definitely something we want to do. As we're going to mainly be an affiliate lodge, it's probably not going to come up a lot, though we may certainly be open to courtesy work for other lodges. Eventually, if successful, we may bring in new masons of our own who find this format appealing.

Can you do degree work at a dinner table. 

Absolutely.

Hmmm...sounds clandy.

Then our Grand Lodge is clandestine, because they actually have a First Degree Table Lodge that your own lodge can perform any time it wants, and you can read all about it HERE.

This sounds elitist and stuffy. Is this going to look like something out of Downton Abbey?

You know, the state doesn't really have a dearth of scotch and cigar lodges. We're feasters. Some of that is going to include education on table manners, both modern and archaic, but it's probably mostly going to look like a good old family dinner or Thanksgiving. It should be pretty working class and on the level.

Ok, but if you're not like the other lodges, and don't have buildings to take care of, what could you possibly be doing in these meetings?

Like all lodges, of course we will have bills and general business. We'll just be discussing them over appetizers. But mainly, we educate! In our mother lodges both me and Nick are pretty proficient at leading group discussions, Socrates cafe style, about masonic issues. When we need a well-directed,
productive discussion about masonic symbolism, we'll be at work with the worshipful master leading the group. When we need a more vibrant back and forth, we'll be at refreshment where it's more of a free-for-all.



Why have a lodge at all then? Why not just have a supper club with a bunch of smart-talking masons? 

We want to form a lodge for the same reason that our ancient brethren formed lodges. Benjamin Franklin could have stuck with his Leather Apron Club, discussing news, science, and philosophy over a pint at the local tavern, but he decided to become a mason, because ritual and structure is important. And that's the thing. There are a lot of rituals that we can inject into our lives that remind us to be mindful, and we're going to be exploring those, and the rest of freemasonry, around a dinner table.

Why start a new lodge? If you think meetings are dry, horrible affairs, why not fix your old lodges?

Let's be clear on this point. We find no flaws with our lodges (Braden Lodge and Corinthian Lodge). They are vibrant centers of ritual, education and fellowship. We have everything we need there. We want more of it. Sorry. I guess we're greedy. We want more great freemasonry.

Do you have other questions or concerns? Please ask them! Interested? Come and be a part of it.

Memento Mordere