Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Grand Lodge of Louisiana withdraws recognition from Knights of Columbus

Red Stick, LA -- The Masonic world was in a state of agitation this week after Most Worshipful Martin J. Reinschmidt, Grand Master of Louisiana, issued an edict in which the Grand Lodge of Louisiana withdrew recognition from the Grand Convocation of the Knights of Columbus.

Although the details are sketchy, rumors on Masonic social media suggest that the issue originated with Supreme Grand Commander, Sir Knight Francesco "Fat Frankie" DiBennodetto, who MW Reischmidt accused of conduct unbecoming a Mason earlier this year. 

Adding to the confusion in the online temple is the fact that the Grand Lodge of Louisiana does not, in fact, recognize the Knights of Columbus. The mixup seems to originate from the similarity of the name and dress to the Masonic Grand Encampment of the Knights Templar.

(see this article from The Past Bastard on the Knights of Columbus).

"Well, dadgum it, all those guys look the same, you know what I mean?" said MW Reinschmidt when asked about the withdrawal of recognition. "All those buttons and plumes and everything,. You'd think they got all those uniforms from the same place or something."

The Past Bastard reached out to the Grand Lodge of Louisiana to see if the Grand Master would rescind his withdrawal, since under the circumstances, there was no recognition between them in the first place.

"Absolutely not," was the answer from a Grand Lodge spokes person. "Just like the Pope, the Grand Master's decision are infallible."

The Past Bastard will continue to report as more information becomes available.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Amity proving useful for travelers seeking friendly lodges

Little Rock, AK -- Frustration with trying to find a lodge while traveling on business, and tired of the constant questions on social media of which lodge is good, recommended, or possibly unrecognized or clandestine, gave some brothers the initiative to develop Amity, an app that lists mainstream, recognized lodges in North America and Canada.

User support has been strong, and the list of recognized lodges has been growing. However, there's been some support from an unusual source: Freemasons from Arkansas.

"Oh, gosh, no, our Grand Lodge can barely use the fax machine; our Grand Secretary would never use this," said a brother who would only be identified as "Hiram." He explained "Our Grand Lodge has had so much infighting and arguing that lodges in neighboring states pretty much stopped letting us traveling men in to visit."

"Hiram" told The Past Bastard that a small number of the "normal" Arkansas brothers use Amity to find out which lodges in Oklahoma, Texas, or Missouri still allow Arkansas Masons into their lodges.

"It's been great for us, because a lot of times we get to a lodge just before it opens, meet a few guys, and then they hear where we're from, and you see the look on their faces. We just want to travel, like other Masons, you know? Why should we have to suffer just because our Grand Officers are a bunch of... well, you get the idea," he told us.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Masonic Social Media Movement Highlights Member Disappointment

A small but growing movement in Masonic social media is calling attention to a problem that Freemasons have long swept under the tessellated carpet. Under the hashtag #MMeToo, writers on Twitter, Facebook, Gab, and other sites have been detailing their disappointment in having been recruited simply to keep the membership numbers up, either in their lodges, or in the other bodies. 

The Past Bastard has been following these for the last few months. Here are some of the more heart-wrenching examples.
"He was like an uncle & I looked up to him. The night I was raised, he gave me a pin and a petition for the YR "to get the true word." I went right into Chapter but never saw him after that." #MMeToo
"The old timers are always talking about how they need "fresh blood" for the lodge. I used to think vampires were fiction, but now I know better. I'm 26 and they're all in their 70s. I was recruited for my youth." #MMeToo
"I remember thinking he was so cool, with his stories of top secret clearance and those crazy card tricks. At first I was proud to feel like he had taken me under his wing. But then he started pushing me to join his Scottish Rite Consistory. I spent two years chasing down degrees all over my state, but now he's got some new guys to impress. Haven't talked to him in years."
"I used to go to events at the lodge when I was a kid, so I trusted those guys. But after a few years in the line, I felt like all they wanted me for was to do the heavy work of moving the fish fryer and pancake grill."
"Joined for the Wisdom of the Ancients. Got stuck with the Bitching of the Old Guys." #MMeToo
"I thought the OES ladies that met in my lodge building were just being helpful by trying to fix me up with one of the younger girls. We started getting serious, and before I knew it, I was being drafted as a Worthy Patron to her Worthy Matron. We went to every stupid function that year, and it cost me a fortune in travel expenses. She broke up with me after that year was over." 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Grand Lodge announces policy of "inclusivity"

Alexandria, LA - In today's volatile and polarized world, one Grand Lodge is making a stand for greater diversity and inclusion within Freemasonry. Earlier today, the Grand Lodge of Louisiana announced its new "policy of inclusivity" that will govern Lodge business dealings across the jurisdiction to ensure the widest participation in Louisiana Freemasonry possible. The Past Bastard caught up with Bro. Joe Snow, spokesperson for the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, to get his thoughts on this groundbreaking new policy. "We here at the Grand Lodge have looked carefully at how Freemasonry has changed over the past several years. With all of these younger Masons, everyone is starting to communicate electronically over e-mail and social media and the like, and we're concerned that this move to electronic communication stands to greatly disadvantage our older members who don't have access to computers or e-mail. That's why, starting today, all electronic Lodge communications--whether they be trestle boards, e-mails from the Master, facebook event invites, and the like--must be mailed as hard copies to all members. We can't risk alienating our older members who might not have access to this new technology. They're the backbone of our organization, after all, and they need to be just as informed as their more technologically-minded brethren."

When The Past Bastard cited the sheer cost associated with such a policy, Bro. Joe shrugged it off: "We know it'll add an expense, but that's what bulk mailing services are for. If lodges are really concerned about the added expense, we have a number of fundraising best practices listed on the Grand Lodge website that lodges can use to offset the costs. A Master could also choose to save postage by mailing out event invitations on postcards. That way, our brethren can put them on their refrigerators to jog their memories, making them more likely to attend lodge functions. Otherwise, we would encourage the Masters of our lodges to consolidate their lodge communications instead of sending out scattershot updates whenever they feel like it. This will make it easier for everyone to find out what's happening in their respective lodges without the burden of searching through weekly e-mail updates and social media sites."

Thus far, it appears the Grand Lodge of Louisiana's push for inclusivity is limited to ensuring its Luddism-predisposed members remain well-informed. When The Past Bastard asked Bro. Joe about the Grand Lodge's willingness to advocate for other forms of inclusivity, to include expanding the organizations racial demographics and acceptance of LGBT persons, Bro. Joe responded: "I don't know if our older members would appreciate adding those demographics into the organization. I mean, that's what Prince Hall Masonry is for, right? And as far as those 'alternative lifestyle' people are concerned, well the Bible's very clear on that. I'm sure we'd be happy to have them join if they ever choose to reject their lifestyle and live a moral life consistent with our organization's values instead. For now, let's just focus on making sure the bedrock of our organization stays plugged into what we're doing so they can continue to guide us into the Freemasonry of the future!"

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Masonic accolades to be given out solely based on attendance

Springfield, IL - One Grand Lodge is streamlining its awards process to focus on what really matters: attendance. The Grand Lodge of Illinois issued a statement earlier this week stating "...As the antient institution of Freemasonry is suffering from declining membership and member participation, and the Grand Lodge wishes to encourage increased member participation at all levels of Freemasonry, let it be known that all Grand Lodge awards and accolades from thenceforth will hereby be awarded strictly based on the attendance record of the recipient without respect to other member qualifications, moral or otherwise." 

The Past Bastard caught up with Bro. Joe Snow, spokesperson for the Grand Lodge of Illinois, for his comments on the new Grand Lodge policy: "The fact of the matter is Freemasonry's in a right bad state if you ask me. We don't have enough members, or at least enough members who are willing to show up, to fill the seats at the Grand Master's dinners, special events we've arranged to raise money for the Grand Master's charity, or the Grand Master's special 'Ladies Nights' events. It just makes us all look bad when we're trying to raise money for a good cause and we can't fill the chairs. That's why we decided to take a hard look at what we really need from our members, and award them accordingly. From here on out, we don't care about how you conduct yourself as a Mason, how you've furthered the Craft, or how you've used your leadership abilities to better the organization. We care about how much you show up." 

Bro. Joe Snow continued, stating that the Grand Lodge has been passively implementing this policy in other areas for years: "We've been doing this with our District Deputy selection process for years, and it has worked quite well. GAOTU knows we need those guys to show up to everything, so why not just give the District Deputy title only to the guys who show up in the first place?"

When The Past Bastard cited concerns that the new policy might lead to the Grand Lodge honoring those whose behavior or conduct might otherwise preclude them from honorifics, leading to further decreased morale and member participation, Bro. Joe seemed confident that this new policy would be successful at increasing participation across the jurisdiction: "Look, the fact of the matter is we need more people to show up. You want an award or a District Deputy slot? Start showing up. I don't want to hear some newly raised brother whining about 'Oh, Bill's crass demeanor and bad attitude is the reason why I don't come to lodge anymore, and they made him District Deputy and gave him an award!' If you stop showing up to events because you don't like how another brother is acting, you're the one being unmasonic."

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Freemasons have a difficult time transitioning to summer schedules

Lodi, CA -- In a holdover from bygone days before air conditioning, many Masonic lodges in the US close, or "go dark" for the summer, as some jurisdictions refer to the practice. In the pre-modern times, many men used this time for maintenance work on their farms or homes: repairing loose boards, fixing leaky roofs, digging wells, or other labors that kept them physically occupied. However, as modern Freemasons tend to have office jobs and do the same thing year round, the transition to a "summer mindset" can be difficult.

Masonic wives around the US have been writing into The Past Bastard to share their stories.

Susan Blackboard writes: "My husband Charles is the, I don't know, the Deacon's Warden or something like that. Do they change titles every year? Anyhow, dinner time is the worst. Whenever me or one of the kids says something, he raps the table with a spoon and tells us to make a sign or something. It's really getting on my nerves."

That sentiment was echoed by Gloria Birdseye, whose husband is a member of Widow's Peak Lodge. "My Carl is some kind of sheriff or marshal or deputy or something. He's never home, even on weekends. When summer comes, he really has no idea what to do with himself. I've caught him staring out the window, mumbling to himself. He'll be like this until August."

Some Freemasons are unable to cope with the free
time over the summer, and create lodge-styled
man caves for themselves. 
Not all Freemasons have a difficult time leaving the lodge, though. Some, like Juan Nieves, manage to bring their lodge home with them. His wife, Maria, explains. "Oh, he built himself this 'man cave,' except that he calls it his 'summer lodge.' I'm not exactly sure what he's got in there, since he covered up the windows, but he told me that no girls are allowed inside because it destroys the sacred tranquility, or some nonsense, as if I really care. And if the kids want him to do something, they have to knock three times on the door. He even found some old, rusty knocker thing at a barn sale and hung it up."

For some Freemasons, the summer becomes a way to re-connect with their family.

"It takes my husband almost the entire month of July to stop saying 'Fire all cannons' at the dinner table," said Janet Hammersmith, whose husband Jason is the Worshipful Master of Ungunquit Lodge. "Oh sure, I get it. he's out four or five nights a week, so being home every night all summer takes some getting used to. But after six years of this it's annoying as hell."

"I can't wait until summer is over, and he goes back to lodge, again," she added.

Friday, June 29, 2018

COGMNA committee urges Grand Lodges to stop using family men for leadership spots

Topeka, KS - Speaking at a small gathering after the recent Conference of Grand Masters of North America and Canada (COGNMA) Subcommittee on Increasing Masonic Service, Wil Hosmer, Past Associate Grand Master of Arkansas shocked some of his colleagues by suggesting that the best way to get more involved Masonic leadership was to recruit from the ranks of divorced men.

"I know it's not politically correct to mention this, but hell, we've all been thinking it, so it's about time that we finally admit to it. Going after family men hasn't panned out for us," Hosmer said to a crowd composed of past and present officers and Grand Lodge officers from various jurisdictions around North America and Canada. "Those guys are always needing to take time off to spend with their wives or families. It's always 'Oh, but it's my wife's birthday,' or 'I can't go, it's our umpteenth anniversary,' or 'I gotta watch my kid's soccer game.' Like anybody needs to watch another kid's soccer game, right?"

"That's why I'm proposing that we drop the pretense of looking for good family men, and instead, let's start encouraging masonic leadership -- hell, Freemason membership, in general -- as a good place for divorced guys with a lot of free time on their hands."

WB Hosmer's remarks were surprisingly well received by the crowd.

"There's a lot of sense in what he says," remarked John Tyler, Past Grand Senior Steward of Idaho. "I can't tell you how many times one of our guys has said that he's been out four or five nights a week, and that his wife keeps complaining that she feels like a widow."

Jim Stewards, Past Associate Grand Marshal from Georgia agreed. "I guess I had been afraid to say anything like that out loud, but it's true. I been divorced for the last six years, and my own Masonic career took off; I tend to think it's 'cause I got a lot more free time to spend on committees and stuff now."

Jesse Marshal, Grand Junior Warden of Alaska offered his opinion. "Back in granddad's time, we didn't like divorced guys because we didn't want anyone who might be tainted with a morality issue, of you know what I mean. But now, seems like half the guys have had at least one marriage, so maybe it's a good idea to keep an eye on the guys with, you know, ongoing marital problems and get them into a committee or put them up for a Grand Lodge spot as soon as they're separated."

"Well, I don't think Worshipful Brother Hosmer has gone far enough. Our fraternity needs guys who can make a commitment to the time and energy it takes to be in a leadership position," said Jacques Wardens, Past Grand Junior Steward of Manitoba. "Instead of sitting around hoping to grab some guy who might happen to get divorced, maybe we need to start, you know, quietly start encouraging guys, if you know what I mean. Like, you know, start pressing his wife to join Eastern Star. If that doesn't push them over the edge, I don't know what else would."