Monday, July 07, 2008

My Thoughts on the GOUSA

Well, believe it or not, I am posting this from Iraq. Unexpectedly, the base on which I am stationed has excellent internet facilities, and I find myself with plenty of time to post. What an amazing world we live in!
Recently, a major event has happened in the American Masonic world, and surprisingly, I have seen very little written about it in the blogosphere or on the various fora I peruse regularly. According to their website , the Grand Orient of the United States of America has received a patent from the Grand Orient of France, thus establishing it as a legitimate Masonic body, with authority to work in North America. This patent gives the fledgling Grand Orient a direct line of descent from the original London Grand Lodge through the Grand Orient of France, with which it also has a treaty of amity. For the first time, there is now a liberal, European-style, male-only obedience in the United States.
While many Brethren may argue over the particulars of this patent, the fact is that the Grand Orient of the United States is now a legitimate, properly established Masonic body. Some may see this as a threat to the current system, but I view it as a positive development. In much of the country, Freemasonry has been in decline and has degenerated into nothing more than a social club for aging men. There are places where this is not true, and in recent years the Craft has seen an influx of younger men, however as a general rule it seems that American Freemasonry is in trouble. For a striking contrast, one need only look to our European Brethren, particularly in France. Freemasonry is flourishing there, and elsewhere, despite stricter entrance requirements, higher dues, and longer times between degrees. It is obvious that they are doing something right that we are not.
From my limited interactions with Grand Orient Brethren, it seems that they desire to follow this European model. I believe that there is a real demand for this style of Freemasonry here in the United States. Many American Masons feel that there is something missing in the Craft as it is practiced today here in the United States. Perhaps the new Grand Orient will help to restore this. Additionally, this style of Freemasonry will reach out to new segments of the populace, good men who may not have otherwise been drawn to our Fraternity. How can there being more men who practice the tenets of our Craft be a bad thing? f nothing else, perhaps the presence of this new obedience will cause the "mainstream" Grand Lodges to take a hard look at the way they are doing things, and possibly drive them to implement some of the reforms that are long overdue. All in all, our Craft can only benefit from this new American Masonic body. So mote it be!