Thursday, November 14, 2019

Springfield, MA -- Massachusetts has always been on the forefront of innovation in Freemasonry, so it was no surprise when the Grand Lodge announced that they are ready to release a modernized second section, or "staircase" lecture for 2020.

"See, everybody knows that Masonic historian and lecturer Ezra Pound added the staircase lectures to the Fellowcraft degree as a way to add some educational material so the new merchant class members could have some idea of what the more educated brothers were talking about," said Grand Lecturer RW Jeff Kroger. "So he added some basics, like Architecture, Grammar, Astrology, things like that. Those might have been important in the old days, but now that everyone pretty much has the same liberal arts education, we've decided that it's time to make the educational staircase lecture more relevant. More high tech, you know?"

RW Kroger went on to explain that the entire lecture was not being changed. "No, see, it's just the really outdated stuff that we're changing," he told The Past Bastard. "For example, nobody needs any of that astrology stuff, since you could just look it up on Google sky view or whatever. So, we're going to take that out and replace it with this cool esoteric piece about computers. I mean, learning about computers is a lot more useful than learning about the stars and planets and stuff, isn't it?"

The Past Bastard asked how much of the old lecturers were going to remain.

"Oh, a lot of it's still there," RW Kroger told us. "I mean, like that grammar stuff is still there, 'cos it's pretty important to be able to speak right. Oh, and music is still there, although we snuck in a little bit about Elvis, mainly because the Custodians of the Work are fans. Let's see, we're keeping the Geography stuff in there, 'cos we Masons are totally about geography, right? But we decided to replace rhetoric with something about home economics, since we decided that it's more important to know how to grocery shop, cook, pay bills, things like that. "

"Oh, and we're not changing the classical architectural columns stuff," he told us. "But we're thinking about adding something about Bauhaus, since postmodernism is still a thing, and nobody uses Composite columns anymore. They're far too ornate for refined contemporary tastes."

Friday, November 8, 2019

Grand Lodge of PA to offer DIY insurance for lodge improvements

Altoona, PA - The proliferation of YouTube videos and other online tutorials have encouraged a growing number of Freemasons to take on basic and even some advanced building improvement in and around their lodges. However, noting the increasing numbers of mishaps in the last several years, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania has worked with a well known commercial insurance group to offer lodges coverage on what many are calling "Bro-bono Contractors."

Dressing up a room with some new woodwork is usually one
of the first things that brothers will try on their own.
"Just because YouTube says that you could," said WB Al Borland, of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania Financial Services Committee, "it doesn't mean that you should. No offense to many of my well meaning brothers, but some of these lodges get together for a work party, armed with a few cases of beer, some old tools, and an internet connection. It doesn't always end well."

"We've had stories about some of the lodge improvement projects that should have been easy, like painting or fixing a broken window, and turn into month-long projects as brothers with make-shift tools end up making things worse. Last week we  had some guys blending together some old paint that they had found in their basements. Naturally they ended up mixing oil based paint with latex, and the walls actually had to be town down and new sheetrock put up."

Many lodges give their kitchens an update with
some inexpensive cabinets from the home stores.
The Past Bastard asked if the Grand Lodge shouldn't try to discourage some of these brothers, instead of offering insurance. Doesn't that just encourage them?

"Well, nothing will discourage some of those guys. Their dues have been $65 a year since Jimmy Carter was president, and if they had to actually pay for an electrician or plumber, it would take a three month long argument, several dimits, and an attempt to have a car wash or bake sale to cover the cost. The more independent minded would just offer to do it themselves, and that's who we're looking out for."

WB Borland told The Past Bastard that for a small fee, the insurance policy will pay for a licensed, non-Mason contractor to finish or repair a job that the brothers start. "We're mainly concerned with things like electrical work, plumbing, and light remodeling," he told us, "But we also have a higher class of policy for those doing more physically dangerous things like replacing a roof."

Most members feel empowered if they can
modernize a light switch or outlet.
The Past Bastard asked why the policy coverage pays for non-Masons to do the work. "Oh, Masons are notoriously cheap when it comes to looking out for their own," WB Borland said. "If a lodge had a brother Mason coming by to do some contracting work, they would guilt him into doing pretty much the entire job at cost. And then they'll take six months to even pay the guy because some past mater will complain about some little detail, and then there will be some kind of feud. You know how they get."

Freemasons around the US should look for their own Grand Lodges to offer similar policies in the coming years.