Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Grand Lodge of Florida removes symbols of mortality to appease aging boomers

The Villages, FL -- Faced with membership rolls full of post-war "boomers," most of whom are not happy to be finding themselves nearing the end of their natural life spans, the Grand Lodge of Florida is rolling out a re-tooled ritual that avoids references to death and dying, in an effort to make their aging members less uncomfortable during degree work.

"We came up with the idea a couple of years ago when we noticed that a lot of the sixty five to seventy year olds stopped coming to lodge," said RW Dick Johnson, Chairman for the Grand Lodge Committee on Aging and Retention. "Oh, sure, guys stop coming to lodge all the time, but generally, in the past, the older Masons tended to show up more often.  We started talking to them, and discovered that the degree work, especially the Master Mason degrees, were starting to scare the old timers from showing up."
Many aging baby boomers are uncomfortable with
symbols of mortality, so one Grand Lodge is removing
those images from the work.

RW Johnson explained to The Past Bastard that his interviews led him to believe that the boomer generation never felt like they had any obstacles, and had generally been happy to do what they wanted without repercussions, generating debt that they figured would just get paid off later, and enjoy their retirement years in the warm Florida sun. However, as their health began to fail, and as some watched their friends die off, they had little idea of how to handle the changes.

"As Boomers have been hitting retirement, images of death have become triggering for them," he told us. "It's gotten so bad for many of these guys that we've spent some time re-writing the rituals to remove such imagery, so they don't have to think about it."

The Past Bastard interviewed several anonymous Master Masons around Florida for some perspective.

"I never really thought about it before, you know?" said a 68 year old past master, originally from Tacoma, Washington. "I mean, yeah, you got all these death symbols, but I never took them seriously. I mean, 'Father Time' with a scythe? An hourglass? That's, like, so cliche, you know?"

"Our lodge never did those etching board things," said a 73 year old brother from Hackensack, New Jersey. "So I never got the old guy imagery thing. But looking back on it, that thing where the guy gets killed, and he doesn't come back to life? That's just like what happens in real life. That's scary when you think about it." He added, "Which I try not to."

"The part that really gets to me, is that you can't leverage your way out of it," said a 67 year old Past District Deputy Grand master from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. "I've always been able to get enough funds together to shore up some stock, or to tide me over until the next mutual fund flip. But no matter how much you pay the damn doctors, all the seem to do is give you some pills to make you feel better. They aren't actually slowing down the aging process, are they?"

RW Dick Johnson told The Past Bastard that these responses were pretty typical. "It's sad, when you step back and look at it. Those guys had no obstacles in their way, and now they don't know how to deal with this gracefully. That's why we're going to replace the hourglass with a digital watch, and the scythe with a Ginsu knife, and we're going to reword things to make the idea of mortality less threatening."

The Past Bastard asked about the Master Mason degree.

"Oh, yeah, that one was surprisingly easy to work out," he said. "In our version, Hiram is knocked unconscious, and has visions about the ruffians while he's out. In the raising ceremony we just wrote it so that he wakes up and realizes that it was all a dream, and that he's still a king. It's much less frightening or depressing that way."

3 comments:

  1. Yeah, and we should get rid of the gavels because it might remind them of their divorces and reefer cases in the 70's.

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  2. Baby Boomers?! Heck, the guys in my lodge made the Baby Boom, and I mean MADE.

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  3. One symbol stands alone as the most powerful, and not just because of its imagery. The Skull & Crossbones is a stark symbol. It stops you in your tracks and makes you notice it. It dares you to peruse it, to understand it. It does what it is supposed to do. It reminds you of your own mortality. Countless times,

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