Note: Dinners will be held at 6:30pm
“We already have the first installment of $25,000 from the City of Las Vegas and will have the balance, another $25,000, by the time you read this”.
I was mistaken, we have in fact only received the first incentive payment of $25,000 from the City. The remaining $25,000 will be payable to the Lodge once the upgrades have been completed, which at this point means we need to repave the rear parking lot. This project is on the wish list at this stage but hopefully the Trustees will soon have a formalized proposal with hard numbers that can be presented to the membership at a future Stated Meeting for approval by the Brethren.
Trustee Harry Christopher is overseeing the proposed leasing of our parking spaces to our neighbor Hellfire Media, which is currently at an impasse. The Certificate of Insurance (COA) presented by the agents of Hellfire Insurance was deemed unsatisfactory by our attorney. Hellfire has agreed revise and present a satisfactory COA. So the ball is firmly in Hellfire’s court at this point and we await their next move. Of course, Hellfire will have no access to our property until all the documents are deemed satisfactory and authorized by both parties.
Defining the procedures and protocols to utilize our new infrastructure assets is still a work-in-process, hopefully we will soon have a concrete proposal to present for a vote by the Brethren.
We are seeing a drop-off in membership take effect this year. Last year we had 538 members on the roll, this year this has gone down to 491. There have been some deaths contributing to the decline, but nothing out of the ordinary from recent years. On the other hand, we have seen a significant jump in NPD’s. We can see no clear reason for this at present. Keep in mind that after a year of non-payment, another year’s grace period is provided combined with several follow-ups via phone and mail before a Brother is formally dropped from the roll. Any dropped member can restore their membership by bringing their account current by paying their dues in arrears.
The Birthday list was not published in the September 2016 Trestleboard, an oversight on my part. In this October edition I have made amends by publishing both the September and October birthday lists. Note: Since we do not publish the Trestleboard over the summer months the Birthday lists for June, July & August are never published. I shall produce these lists and post them on the dining room notice board. If any Brother needs to see the summer months birthday lists and cannot make it to Lodge give me a call.
I hope to see you all at Lodge now that the weather is cooling, if you have not been to the Lodge for a while, come and see the new and improved Vegas 32. It’s looking very spiffy these days.
Prior to being conducted into the Lodge, every Mason declared that his desire to join the Order was not for personal or material gain. In a newly published book (2007) entitled “Our Very Illustrious Brother, Abraham Lincoln,” the historian Larissa Watkins claims that Lincoln held off joining the Fraternity “until he left offce, so it would not appear he had petitioned the [Masonic] Lodge only for political advantage.” Such a revelation adds to Lincoln’s character as a man, and suggests the apparent political influence Masonry had at that time. We might muse on that in today’s politics.
For the month of October 2016 I will publish an article which grabbed my attention to meditate about my future in to the Lodge. Upon reading this article more often I found similarities in our Craft all over the Vegas valley.
The name of article is called: Kakistocracy, by Bro. Brother Dale Sabin and was published in: Knights of the North Masonic Dictionary and I would like to share it with you.
Before reading it, please accept my apologize for it is not meant to offend any of my Brothers. Let’s just call it a Wakeup Consciences article before the end of this year.
Definition: government by the least qualified, from the Greek kakistos; worst, superlative of kakos; bad. (American Heritage Dictionary, 4th edition.)
Post World War II Freemasonry has seen a de-evolution of the Fraternity from a grand Philosophical Order, to a pseudo-mystical public charity, under the management of men who not only misunderstand the philosophical and esoteric aspects of the Craft, but attempt to correct their irrelevance by increasing membership of like-minded individuals, and boosting public support by concentrating their efforts into charitable fund-raising, which it does poorly.
To the young Candidate, we promise Philosophy; what we actually deliver is politics, bad food, incredibly boring business meetings, and badly done Ritual. The new Mason, disappointed by this subterfuge, either fades into the background, quietly and individually studying and practicing Masonry as it was meant to be, or simply becomes inactive, if he doesn’t actually demit. The latter will never be seen again, the former makes himself a Master through his individual effort and study, but will never ask, or be asked, to serve in a managerial capacity.
Why? Like calls to like; incompetence breeds incompetence. In business we refer to this, usually with a chuckle, as “The Peter Principle:” an individual rises to his own level of incompetence. In Masonry, we refer to this, in all seriousness, as “advancement.” The only Mason who will be tapped to serve in a Grand Lodge capacity, or would even desire to do so, under these circumstances, is the Mason who probably shouldn’t have passed through our West Gate in the first place.
Of this type of Mason, Manly P. Hall says: “They can never do any harm to Freemasonry by joining, because they cannot get in... Watch fobs, lapel badges, and other insignia do not make Masons; neither does the ritual ordain them. Masons are evolved through the self-conscious effort to live up to the highest ideals within themselves ...”
Brother Hall, usually a fairly accurate and insightful commentator on Masonry, is dead wrong in this, at least as it applies to the physical body of Freemasonry in the last half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. They have done nothing but harm.
There is yet a second problem contributing to our current poor leadership: lack of Masonic education. This can take a potentially good Mason, and make him worse, through no fault of his own. A Brother once said “today’s inept DDGM is tomorrows incompetent Grand Master.”
I would add: today’s uneducated Master Mason is tomorrows inept DDGM.
Fortunately, the cure for this incompetence at the top is largely the same cure as for the rest of the problems in our Fraternity.
1. Guarding the West Gate.
We, as Masons, are all the primary Tylers of our Lodge. Forget about membership drives and recruiting techniques. Take the blank petitions out of your pocket, briefcase, and glove compartment. When a potential Candidate inquires after membership, YOU must conduct an investigation, make clear what we are and what we are not, and guarantee that an unsuitable Candidate never sets foot beyond our Pillars.
Study, closely, our Fellowcraft Degree. We are more than an Order; we are a School. Sadly, we are a school without a curriculum. We must get back to that basic function, by having ongoing Masonic Education at every meeting, and not just the usual “Famous Masons” rubbish. We need varied programs in the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences, Esoterica, Philosophy, and Masonic Jurisprudence.
Without it, we’re just a dysfunctional dinner club.
More fundamentally, we need to spend more time and effort educating our Entered Apprentices and Fellow crafts, beyond rote memorization. Some GL’s have put together educational programs for their young Brethren; one I am aware of requires the answering of essay questions based on the lessons of every Degree, for proficiency. We can take a lesson from the “Irregular” Jurisdictions, particularly those working the Ancient and Accepted Rite, who require written essays from their Brethren, before being advanced. They refer to these essays, with pride, as their “Work;” we use the same term to refer to our poorly done Ritual.
3. Quick advancement through the Chairs.
Often, and for a variety of reasons, a young MM is pressured to fill a Warden’s Chair, far before he is ready. This happens most frequently due to a lack of qualified or interested Brethren who regularly attend. While the “fix” for this is complex (more interesting meetings, better food, better education), the fact is, forcing a young MM into a Warden’s Chair, to become WM in a year or two, does a disservice to the Lodge, and especially does a disservice to the Brother being forced into this position. He is, through no fault of his own, tomorrow’s incompetent Grand Master.
4. The non-linear Line.
Simply, the WM sitting in the East should be the best Mason for the job. An incompetent SW is not only unqualified to be SW, he is certainly not qualified to be WM next time around. For that matter, last years bungling JD will be this years bungling SD, and a JS who can’t function will most likely have the same problem next year as SS. In theory, we require proffciency from Candidates; we should do the same when choosing Offcers.
Masonic kakistocracy is only one problem among many our Fraternity faces; fortunately, it shares the same cure: better quality, better-educated Masons. Not unlike physical abuse and alcoholism in a family, it is an ongoing cycle that must be stopped.
What a great Summer break! Unfortunately, it’s back to work. We still have lots of degree work to get to and time is short. Before you know it we will be changing guard and another new year will begin. Sadly, we will be losing some of our members due to them not paying their dues. This is something that I do not like to do, but the ball is always in their court.
I look forward to see you all in Lodge!
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