Monday, March 02, 2009

Masonic mediocrity

This is going to be a bit of a rant, so if you don't want to indulge me, then I suggest you click the back button now....
Not too long ago, I decided that the time had come for me to take my York Rite degrees. Of course I would have preferred to take them old style, one at a time over several days, however I felt a bit pressed for time, and the one day option was all that was available to me. So, I reported to the local York Rite building bright and early on a Saturday morning. I was greeted with the standard fare of coffee and donuts, and after some socializing the time came to begin. First off was the Mark degree, for which I was chosen as the candidate. This seemed a fortuitous start, as I felt that I would only receive the full experience of the degrees if I was the candidate. A Past Grand Master served as my guide, and thus I expected to see top notch work. Unfortunately I was sorely disappointed. What ensued over the next several hours was the poorest display of ritual I have encountered in my ten years as a Mason. Not only did the Brethren not know their lines, they could not even read them properly from the book, and that was if they could even follow along. Floorwork was atrocious, and more often than not those serving as guides hardly knew where the candidates needed to be. Props were missing, as were Brethren to fill the various roles. Two of the degrees were not even exemplified, but rather shown on DVD. Yes, you heard me right, on DVD! And I may not have even objected to this had the production values on the DVDs been decent, however the ritual work thus portrayed was only a notch or two above what I was seeing live. I could go on, but I don't want to sound too bitter! At the end of the very long day, I felt cheated. I had given up an entire day off (which at the time was a very precious commodity) and a considerable sum of money only to receive very little Masonic light in return. As I drove home to a slightly put-out wife, I seriously questioned if i would ever return to this particular York Rite body.
Each branch of our Craft has valuable lessons to teach. However these lessons can be lost if we only make a half hearted effort in presenting the ritual. To-the-letter perfection is certainly not required, however we should always try to present the ritual in a manner consistent with the solemnity of the occasion. Often, brethren make sacrifices in terms of time and money to receive these degrees. What kind of message are we sending if we can't even be bothered to do a passable job of presenting them? Masonic mediocrity must be stamped out if our Craft is to prosper. By not taking the presentation of the various degrees seriously enough, we tell the candidates that we do not value these degrees, and thus they will not value them either.


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