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Why I Am (Considering) Leaving Masonry

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Topic: Why I Am (Considering) Leaving Masonry
Posted By: dmcauliffe
Subject: Why I Am (Considering) Leaving Masonry
Date Posted: February/09/2015 at 3:02am
Peace everyone.

I was initiated in August 2014, and passed recently, on the 19th of January. A lot of people seem to think such a length of time between degrees is a bad thing, but personally I liked sitting on the EA degree and reflecting upon it.

But I digress. I'm considering calling it quits. As I reflect on the situation more and more, I'm coming to realize I joined for the wrong reasons. I'm an avid reader of philosophy, religion, etc., and when I joined I hoped the discussion of these topics would take center stage. Instead what I have found is that most of the time it's about this cookout or that social event. I've also noticed that there is a huge amount of politicking involved; titles seem more important at times than building "that House not made..." you know the rest.

Furthermore, literally all of the Brothers of my lodge are either active duty or retired military. Literally everyone...except me. This is very evident in our interactions. The first time I was told to do an "about face, right face, etc." was when I was initiated. I didn't know what that meant, of course, and I could hear the annoyed grumblings of the Brothers (though I couldn't see them, of course). The rigid structure and hierarchy of the military is not something I am used to or particularly care for. This is by no means meant to insult the military (I'm an Air Force brat myself) or the Brothers, but I didn't expect my Masonic experience to be so bootcamp-esque. Coupled with personality conflicts between me and my cabletows, financial stress, and a "quarter life crisis," I'm not sure I want to continue.

I joined for four main reasons: one, to be a part of something greater than myself, to be a part of a Brotherhood. Two, to continue a family legacy. Three, to better myself. Four, and this is the most important reason, to gain and understand the ancient knowledge and wisdom of the Craft, to be amongst men who shared a similar interest in gauging these mysteries. Since I have joined, I have learned a lot about myself and what I want. Regarding my initial reasons for joining...I have found that one doesn't have to be a part of a Fraternity to be part of something greater. I've also found that I am really not that interested in being a part of a group. Two, one shouldn't feel compelled to do something because it is a family legacy. Three, one doesn't need Masonry to better one's Self. And four, while there are individual Brothers for whom the esoteric aspects of Masonry are important, modern Masonry as an institution is not the same as Enlightenment Era Masonry. In short, I've come to learn that my reasons for joining were not substantial enough.

I don't want to make it appear as though I have an issue with Masonry; contrarily, I believe the philosophy of Masonry itself is highly valuble, noble, and beautiful. This is why I had already researched for years before joining. I knew about the tools, the allegories, etc. I knew what constituted a "just and duly constituted lodge." I knew about Prince Hall, the schism between the Antients and Moderns, etc. I researched these things because I was interested in Masonry, but I wasn't really interested in becoming a Mason, because I've never been the type to join groups or live by the standards of other people or groups. But I decided to give it a shot after talking to a Masonic friend of mine (and a cousin who, dissapointingly, I later learned to be part of a clandestine lodge). What I have found is that while I enjoy the "inner" philosophy, the "outer" structure is not for me.

I don't want to do myself or the Craft of Masonry a disservice and go on when my heart isn't in it, but I'm not sure I want to just quit before I see the Light in its entirety. A good friend of mine, a Mason, urged me to continue and stressed that I haven't seen true Masonry yet. But I'm not sure I'm all that interested...and yet at the same time I feel I should at least get my 3rd before I make this decision. Perhaps if I were to join a non-Prince Hall lodge or a lodge with more civilians it would be different.

I'm not looking to this board to "tell me what to do," but I am interested in opinions and experiences.

Posted By: kev146g
Date Posted: February/09/2015 at 5:36am
have you thought about looking for a lodge that is more suited to you I.E less regimented 

Posted By: dmcauliffe
Date Posted: February/09/2015 at 7:07am
Somewhat. Before I considered leaving Masonry entirely, I considered the fact that perhaps it was just the particular lodge. The problem is, most (well, all) of the Prince Hall lodges here are military-affiliated. I could research a non-Prince Hall lodge, but honestly I'm not sure I want to go through the whole process of demitting, re-petitioning, etc. just to see if maybe it's different.

Posted By: edwmax
Date Posted: February/09/2015 at 11:44am
Look for and join a Research Lodge.    Your quitting will not change the character of the Lodge.  But there is a large amount of material available from the internet to meet your needs.   Use this to present a short talk to your Lodge.

Most Lodges have forgotten the need for Masonic education after Members have been raised and therefore act more like 'good old boy's clubs'.    IMO, this is a large part of the reason many members do not regularly attend their Lodge.

"He who would assume to govern others must first learn to govern himself."

Thomasville 369

Posted By: droche
Date Posted: February/09/2015 at 1:16pm
The way I read your post you are dealing with two issues: 1) The Masonry you have seen is not the Masonry you expected. 2) You have come to realize that you do not want to belong to a group or have realized that you do not need to belong to a group in order to learn the things you want to learn.

As far as number two goes, that is not something Masonry can do anything about. That is totally within you and under your own control.

As far as number one goes, you describe something that is becoming more and more of concern with newer members and even older members. I have been a Mason for 32 years and have come to observe that, very generally, people join Masonry for one of two reasons: 1) The are interested in the esoteric, the mysteries, the spirituality, the inner teaching,  enlightenment, whatever you want to call it. You seem to be of this group. 2) Others are attracted by the hierarchical, pomp, ceremonial etc. aspects of the organization. They like to hold titles, wear fancy jewels and collect awards, among other things. The military can be very much like that so it is not surprising that many (not all) military or former military members are attracted by these aspects. Nor is it only military/ex-military who are attracted by these aspects. Lodges who are dominated by these types tend to be "clique-y," divisive, and do not have many active members, in my experience.

So, what I am saying here is you are not alone. My advice to you is stay with your lodge for the time being. Like Ed said, join a research lodge if there is one nearby. Visit other lodges and you might find one more suitable for you and you could affiliate with it.

I would also caution that if you found a lodge that emphasized the so-called esoteric, do not expect "enlightenment" overnight. It is a long process. I would also not expect to find what some consider to be esoteric Masonry that some feel is related to astrology, numerology, alchemy, Kabbalah, or anything like that. In my experience, Freemasonry is not like that. The basic teachings of the three degrees are what it is all about in my opinion. Most people have a hard enough time learning and practicing these without delving into the so-called "mysterious."   

Posted By: Adept?
Date Posted: February/09/2015 at 3:50pm
Finish the blue lodge...become a master mason. Then pick up a copy of Esoterika: the symbolism of the blue degrees, by Albert Pike. I think you'll enjoy and appreciate it. If philosophical speculation, and esoteric enlightenment is what you seek, then the Scottish rite is where you belong, but you can't get into any of that unless you complete all three principle degrees in the blue lodge.

"It is humanity that creates god, and men think that god has made them in his image, because they make him in theirs."

Posted By: Caution1010
Date Posted: February/09/2015 at 10:45pm
It seems like you're the counterculture to your lodge.

I can relate. You do not know how many times I have thought about leaving the craft entirely.

I have learned to choose my battles. I have learned to focus on one or two things that interest me about the craft and hone in on them.

I have learned to teach those who are behind me and are willing to learn. I have learned not everyone in the craft is your brother. Some have their sights set on trivial things like titles that mean absolutely nothing outside the world of freemasonry.

So I know you said you didn't want any recommendations and what not, but I can tell you I can relate. It is all on your free-will what you want to do. But if you're seeking options or recommendations, feel free to ask me.

I: 10/1/10
P: 12/3/10
R: 12/31/10


"You can't trust those fellow-crafts...buncha rogues and murderers!"

Posted By: WBScott
Date Posted: February/11/2015 at 9:40am
This is going to be a repeat of some things already written, but...

There is the philosophical side of Freemasonry. Especially with the Internet, there is so much information out there that is readily available to anyone who will spend some quality time with their favorite search engine. To learn about that, you really don't even need to be a member of an actual lodge. But no matter how much you read and study, this still does not make you a Mason.

For example. my wife is a professional librarian. She is a voracious reader and quite skilled at doing research. Back when The Da Vinci Code came out, she did a lot of reading on the topic just out of curiosity. So one night, she asks me the significance of a certain word. The word she was asking about was the substitute Master's word. Of course that won't mean anything to you until (or unless) you become a Master Mason, but suffice it to say, it is (or is supposed to be) a strictly guarded Masonic secret that should only be passed from one brother to another in a very specific manner. So even though she knows one of the most secret of all Masonic secrets, she is still not a Mason!

But the other thing you mentioned were the social aspects of the lodge. This is actually a very important part of being a Mason. While you can read and study about Masonic philosophy and while this may go a long way to your own self-improvement, what does it do for your community? How does it help people who are in need of assistance? How does it help children who needs shoes and coats in the winter? How does this help local food pantries who are running low on food? The list goes on and on...

You say that you want to be part of something greater than yourself and be part of a Brotherhood. Of course you can study on your own, but it is participating in the activities of your local lodge that makes you a Mason. It is being part of an organization that has a positive presence in your community that makes you a Mason. Sometimes social activities serve no other purpose than to enjoy the fellowship of the membership, but other activities (like our Sweetheart's Breakfast this Saturday) is actually a fundraiser for our lodge.

As another example, our lodge raised almost $4000 to build new shower, bath and laundry facilities for a local battered women's shelter. These women honestly don't really care about the esoteric aspects of Freemasonry. It is projects like this that make me a part of something greater than myself.

As far as the "politicking", a lodge has a officers with specific responsibilities. Some jobs are elected and others are appointed. This is true of any social organization and the sad reality is that a Masonic lodge is no exception.

So now you have to decide... 

If the social aspects of being a member of a Masonic lodge is not something you want to be a part of, then maybe being a Mason is not for you. If the "politicking" is something you find objectionable, then perhaps being a part of a Masonic lodge is not for you.

Follow your heart and your own principles.

Wentzville (MO) Lodge #46 - PM
Pride of the West (MO) Lodge #179 - PM (twice)
Pauldingville (MO) Lodge #11 - Secretary
Warrenton (MO) Lodge #609 - Secretary
Past DDGM - 25th Masonic District

Posted By: NobleShabba
Date Posted: February/11/2015 at 10:52am
Originally posted by dmcauliffe dmcauliffe wrote:

I don't want to do myself or the Craft of Masonry a disservice and go on when my heart isn't in it, but I'm not sure I want to just quit before I see the Light in its entirety. A good friend of mine, a Mason, urged me to continue and stressed that I haven't seen true Masonry yet. But I'm not sure I'm all that interested...and yet at the same time I feel I should at least get my 3rd before I make this decision. Perhaps if I were to join a non-Prince Hall lodge or a lodge with more civilians it would be different.

I'm not looking to this board to "tell me what to do," but I am interested in opinions and experiences.

Only you will know if this is a journey you want to continue on. Whatever you decide, make sure its of YOUR OWN informed choice and free will - then commit to that.   If you know you are not going to be committed, don't waste the time of the brothers who are sacrificing of their time, effort and resources to bring you through.

If you do decide to continue, it may help to think of it like your first years in college. Most of what you are getting between 1st-3rd degree are "core courses" that you need as a good foundation.   I'm sorry that the particular lodge you joined is not one that leans heavy on the esoteric side.   That is however the beauty of our craft, you will find this variety even in the lodges themselves where another may not have enough "social" events but are studying all the time.

For now, work hard, try to enjoy the company of your Fellow Craftsmen if any, and continue your pursuit as you see fit.


DISCLAIMER: These are my comments, and mine alone - they do not necessarily apply to any group to which I belong!

Posted By: cemab4y
Date Posted: February/12/2015 at 7:08pm
I am deeply moved by your comments. I am in awe of the assistance that you have provided to the shelter. (I am a victim of spousal abuse myself). God bless your lodge.

Charles E. Martin

Alexandria, VA

Bowling Green Lodge 73, Bowling Green KY (GL of KY, F&AM)

Alexandria VA Scottish Rite Bodies (AASR, Southern Jurisdiction, USA)

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