The Black Cube of Harmony

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The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby Paterson Burns » Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:07 pm

To improve Masonry, it needs to be a lot more difficult to become a Mason. People only value what takes effort to accomplish. Make it harder to become a Mason, make folks wait in line awhile, or see a few get turned away, and things will improve quickly.
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Re: The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby Trouillogan » Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:21 pm

Oh, how I absolutely, totally and completely agree to the utmost extent - is that clear enough?!

One of the ways I try in that direction is to 'interview' the proposers of prospective candidates in the Lodge committee just before interviewing the candidate, in order that we all can decide whether or not the proposer really knows the chap. Things like name of wife, how may kids, his hobbies and interests, what's the dog's/cat's name - you get the drift. It seems to have its effect on future proposers too.

How do others address this issue?
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Re: The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby Peter Taylor » Mon Feb 10, 2014 8:11 pm

Trouillogan wrote:Oh, how I absolutely, totally and completely agree to the utmost extent - is that clear enough?!

One of the ways I try in that direction is to 'interview' the proposers of prospective candidates in the Lodge committee just before interviewing the candidate, in order that we all can decide whether or not the proposer really knows the chap. Things like name of wife, how may kids, his hobbies and interests, what's the dog's/cat's name - you get the drift. It seems to have its effect on future proposers too.

How do others address this issue?

We are obliged to interview the Candidate's Proposer and Seconder. My Lodge has black-balled a Candidate when it became obviuos that his Proposer didn't know the guys as well as he should have!
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Re: The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby Trouillogan » Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:11 pm

Whenever I've suggested this to brethren in other UGLE Lodges, they've never heard of such a thing and I'm sure that's why so long as the candidate is breathing, he gets in. And that, I believe, may be why we have Lodges where there are lots of 'drones' but only a few older members prepared to put in the work. Then the 'drones' leave, having found little of interest for them.
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Re: The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby Paterson Burns » Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:55 am

It only takes two for darkness to cloud the prospects of the petition.

People, for whatever reason, have the notion that their duty is to let every curious passerby into our midst.

The reality is that our duty is to be selective. It is not our mandate to concern ourselves with appealing to the status quo.

In north america at least, its been 100 years since Masonic lodges have been aspirations of ideal candidates and as we struggle to be relevant today, those candidates who would be excellent Worshipful Masters one day, pass by the lodge because we have become synonymous with the local service club.

And that is not what above average folks with big thoughts and far looking vision are looking for.
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Re: The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby Mark Master » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:34 am

Paterson Burns wrote:To improve Masonry, it needs to be a lot more difficult to become a Mason. People only value what takes effort to accomplish. Make it harder to become a Mason, make folks wait in line awhile, or see a few get turned away, and things will improve quickly.


We live in a world whereby Freemasonry is increasingly becoming less attractive to younger generations. What you propose flies in the face of efforts across the globe to promote and sustain new membership. I don't know anything about you Brother, but I have reached the biblical years of 'Three Score Years and Ten' . Alas I am not entirely rusted onto idea that some moderate changes are not required to permit the growth of our unique fraternity.To turn back the proverbial clock would be , in my humble opinion would constitute an act of extreme folly.

I would have joined Freemasonry many years earlier , but for the sentiments that you have seen fit to express. Providing that one meets the criteria of acceptance, to a large extent one's personal life have absolutely nothing to do with the Craft. I won't elaborate here. If you wish to know the nitty gritty of my experiences over 30 years ago , kindly PM me. Please bear that we are ALL flawed human beings: by what definition are we to accept 'Good Men' with the goal of making them 'Better'? Think on , Brother, just think on.
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Re: The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby Trouillogan » Tue Feb 11, 2014 1:44 pm

But is it about numbers? I rather think it is more about quality and so we need to be selective, more so than in recent years.

Yes, promoting Freemasonry is good but in the way that each of us behaves in his public and private life according to the precepts we learn within the Lodge. Not by active proselytising, though I do believe informational web sites and booths at some public events have a significant place in dispelling common myths. We certainly need to retain our members, or such as are worthy of the honour of Freemasonry. We do this by nurturing their strengths:

Suffice it to say that what you observe praiseworthy in others you should carefully imitate, and what in them may appear defective, you should in yourselves amend. You ought to be examples of good order and regularity, for it is only by paying due obedience to the laws in our own conduct that we can reasonably expect compliance with them from others.

Gaining their interest in helping them to discover for themselves the ideas that are hidden in plain view for their contemplation, undoubtedly sustains the right kind of member. Therein lies the 'secret' of Freemasonry and it is for each one of us to discover what that is, for it is not the same for all. So, one's personal life must be a very large factor in this.

(Slips and falls off soap box!)
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Re: The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby Mark Master » Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:48 am

Afternoon Brother Bill,
Hopefully no injuries were sustained when you dismounted your soap box! Actually, I didn't consider your post to be in the least sermonical. Your first statement concerning membership numbers I found to be a little discombobulating. I can only relate the Australian scene and my State of Queensland in particular where there has been a substantial decrease in active Craft membership over the past few decades. A multiplicity of reasons account for this situation. As we older Brethren have a nasty habit of falling off the perch not being, statistically replaced by suitable younger men, we are effectively just about marking time. Regrettably, some Lodges have had no other option to hand in their warrants amalgamate with others. Perhaps the most worrying feature is the inability of Lodges to retain newly raised Master Masons. From personal experience, there is pressure placed upon newcomers to progress through the Lodge offices which may deter some people. Another distraction is blatant promotion of the Red Lodge on young chaps.

Our Grand Lodge has gone though the exercise of opening the GL to the public while courting the media to promote the Fraternity as many GL's have done likewise. What , if any impact this has had in terms of new candidates is difficult to assess. As would be expected there are elements of the 'Old Guard' that see this move to partial transparency nothing short of heresy! While I have some misgivings about the 'demystification 'of Freemasonry one must give credit to the UGLQ for making an effort.

As others have alluded to , the selection criteria for candidates which is also a troublesome issue. If members of investigating committees do not go about their task in a diligent manner then there is little one can do unless un-Masonic behaviour is manifested at some point. At best the pre-ballot interview should, in my view be an objective exercise not given to influences of subjectivity. Another thing that perturbs me is there are very few Brothers who would black ball a potential initiate for fear of upsetting senior Lodge officers.

Some would argue that the influence of the Internet has had a negative impact on Craft Freemasonry, but I am not entirely sure that this is true. Sure the 'Secrets', Words Grips ans Tokens are in the public domain , but that does not affect my affection for our way of thinking or behaving as a Master Mason is expected to.

As to what may be the future of the Craft , I hold the view that it will prevail albeit with reduced membership. Having witnessed a Malaysian Scottish Rite in action, I can assure you that 'exclusivity' is alive and kicking in that neck of the woods. There is zero chance that anyone heralding from a non professional background there would ever be accepted! Rant over. Soap Box Dismantled. Time for a frosty beer! I'll be in the UK [Cornwall] in May. Should I pack my Wellies?
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Re: The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby Paterson Burns » Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:45 am

Masonic membership for the sake of having membership, isn't worth much to the generations (X & Y) that all grand lodges are trying to appeal to. They, we just don't have the same perspective as those seasoned and senior Brethren, cuz we're knocking on the door of the lodge because we want to find something that is not on the Internet.

Masonry is supposed to be esoteric. Thats the pitch we hear and see from history, but... when you get to the lodge, the doors are flung wide open and those present are desperate to get petitions signed. Where's the mystery? Where is the esoteric?

Sadly our fraternity struggles to maintain many corporate charities that our policy makers are not willing to let go of, so... it becomes all about numbers, dues and semi - annual returns....

As a result, there will be a great many more Masonic funerals before things get to the point that there is no other choice but to abandon publicity drives and media friendly campaigns.

Masonry was never meant for every man.
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Re: The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby Mark Master » Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:24 am

Paterson Burns wrote:Masonic membership for the sake of having membership, isn't worth much to the generations (X & Y) that all grand lodges are trying to appeal to. They, we just don't have the same perspective as those seasoned and senior Brethren, cuz we're knocking on the door of the lodge because we want to find something that is not on the Internet.

Masonry is supposed to be esoteric. Thats the pitch we hear and see from history, but... when you get to the lodge, the doors are flung wide open and those present are desperate to get petitions signed. Where's the mystery? Where is the esoteric?

Sadly our fraternity struggles to maintain many corporate charities that our policy makers are not willing to let go of, so... it becomes all about numbers, dues and semi - annual returns....

As a result, there will be a great many more Masonic funerals before things get to the point that there is no other choice but to abandon publicity drives and media friendly campaigns.

Masonry was never meant for every man.


Sorry , but I fail to understand what you are trying to convey. your original post declared the [ paraphrased ] that in your view entry in Freemasonry should be made harder, however you leave no pearls of wisdom as to how this might be implemented. Then, in your last post you almost point the finger at Grand Lodge's attempts to address the problem of low membership. At no time do you present a solution to the situations at hand. Until you apply some cerebral effort to come up with alternatives , any further discussion is futile. I certainly don't have the answers and I suspect you don't either. Count me out of this debate and take note that 'Every man was not meant for Freemasonry'....Sadly
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Re: The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby Paterson Burns » Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:34 pm

Dear Brother, clearly you are as passionate about your Craft as I, and my comments do not take aim at any grand lodge, but rather the perspective of those who occupy some of them.

An example of what I am referring to would be the situation of an initiate who comes through his degrees with a requirement of proving himself with delivery and comprehension of the signs, words, grips and Posting Lecture, with a full moon having passed between each degree.... versus what we have here in north america now called the One Day Degree or Field day, whereby a man may be initiated after breakfast and be a Master Mason by lunch. Further that he is in receipt of the Order of the Temple by dinner.

Those concerned with membership and numbers don't care whether or not that man has understanding of what the message or value of the degrees are, just that there is now another dues-paying member on the books.

Please keep in mind that there differences in the culture of the Craft between the UK and North America. Your experiences are not the same as mine.
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Re: The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby Lloyd Wiebe » Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:44 pm

Is Saskatchewan doing the one day degrees? It is certainly not allowed in Ontario, at least not yet.
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Re: The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby gord_vokes » Wed Feb 12, 2014 11:41 pm

Lloyd Wiebe wrote:Is Saskatchewan doing the one day degrees? It is certainly not allowed in Ontario, at least not yet.


Nor in BC & Y. In fact I've never meet a one-day FM from either Canada or the US. It took me two and a half years for I,P & R by the calanadar for myself. Where now things run slightly quicker. The date of Installation to the next one is a 12 month period which can be from Sept-Sept; Dec-Dec or any other 12 month period. We also have an operating year of Sept until June, with July and August off due to the Summer; therefore a candidate can be I,P, & R in two operating years but under two calandar years.

I agree that the sponsor needs to spend more time with the potential individual before introducing him to a second mason and then the two masons sponsoring the man for membership.

In the first meeting answer any questions outside of S, G or T, and Ws concerning Freemasonry. Afterall the information is on the internet anyway. Send him home with a section of memory work to do, your phone number and then the ball is in his court. No one knows how they will respond to ceremony, protcol and ritual. That is a personal thing that no one can explain until it is experienced; but will the man do the work?
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Re: The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby Mark Master » Wed Feb 12, 2014 11:52 pm

Paterson Burns wrote:Dear Brother, clearly you are as passionate about your Craft as I, and my comments do not take aim at any grand lodge, but rather the perspective of those who occupy some of them.

An example of what I am referring to would be the situation of an initiate who comes through his degrees with a requirement of proving himself with delivery and comprehension of the signs, words, grips and Posting Lecture, with a full moon having passed between each degree.... versus what we have here in north america now called the One Day Degree or Field day, whereby a man may be initiated after breakfast and be a Master Mason by lunch. Further that he is in receipt of the Order of the Temple by dinner.

Those concerned with membership and numbers don't care whether or not that man has understanding of what the message or value of the degrees are, just that there is now another dues-paying member on the books.

Please keep in mind that there differences in the culture of the Craft between the UK and North America. Your experiences are not the same as mine.


Morning Brother,
You are quite right, I agree that we do share a mutual passion for the Craft. I must also concur with some aspects of Grand Lodge management in my jurisdiction too, although I try to desist from bashing the boys in dark blue at any given opportunity! From time to time we witness our GL making some strange decisions often regarding allocation of support to charities and Government appeals that many of us see as somewhat questionable, particularly when monies wind up in State Government coffers as 'Consolidated Revenue'!!!

Apropos Canada, as to the point Brother Lloyd has raised, I was under the impression that your model replicated the UK model; as in the case in Australia. I am well aware of the system that prevail in some American states, that being the 'McDonald's Drive in Degree' fiasco.Being an active poster on two US Masonic forums, I have long since realized that it is a waste of time making any critical comments about instant noodle degrees. If our American cousins wish to downgrade degree protocols, there is precious little that either you and I can do about it.

Of course there are variances between the way that different global Masonic jurisdictions conduct the workings and rituals of the Craft and Chapter for that matter. In my view that adds a little spice to the proceedings. Should you ever have the opportunity to visit an OZ lodge, I'm sure that you would find that we are a little different from your own, although we do adhere to strict dress codes. You won't find the WM sitting there with an Ákubra 'hat complete with corks and string to keep the flies at bay!! Unless you are fluent in 'Strain', there might be a few language issues for you as would be so for me in your country!
Enjoy your Freemasonry and keep well,
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Re: The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby Paterson Burns » Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:45 am

Lloyd Wiebe wrote:Is Saskatchewan doing the one day degrees? It is certainly not allowed in Ontario, at least not yet.


The Lodge I belong to will never consider it but the practice is underway in concordant bodies and continues to be a discussion topic brought up by those Lodges who can no longer manage their own degrees.
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Re: The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby MrBenn » Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:14 am

I do believe that good research and examination will prove that the 'one day mason' & mass I,P,R was a rare occurance within some US GL's only and some time ago - I believe around 5 years? In fact I believe it was so ill received by masonry in general that the GL's in question no longer practice it - I am happy to be presented with evidence to the contrary.

Freemasonry everywhere had a surge in membership post WW2, this continued with the baby boomers, and is now contracting in line with global population changes
The best thing for freemasonry's survival is to be adaptable to these changes, freemasonry at it's core is immutable, the periphery can and should change and reflect the time it is in
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Re: The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby Paterson Burns » Sun Feb 23, 2014 7:09 pm

The make-a-mason-in-a-minute degrees are not being overtly practiced in Saskatchewan at present.

We do however have those Lodges that are known for unashamedly churning out new Masons (whose qualifications and proficiency in the Craft are widely questioned) soley for the purpose of meeting the membership requirement for another organization, that at present can only draw its membership from Lodges.

These are members of our fraternity who know nothing about the Craft and after they are raised, they are never seen in lodge again.

It would be preferable if these other organizations could draw directly from the public so that the members of the same, did not refer to themselves as Masons.

Sadly, the Lodges in my area who are guilty of this ongoing activity, are known to those who could do something about it, but choose to maintain the status quo because GL still gets its slice from the dues paid to the Lodge, whether that member should be there or not.

Although the lodges are not doing one day degrees, some of our appendent and concordant bodies do, as they currently struggle for new members from the same pool of Master Masons and too many of these orgs have empty officer stations and cannot afford to wait for the traditional maturation process to run its course.
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Re: The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby Paterson Burns » Sun Feb 23, 2014 7:41 pm

As far as what can be done..... it is fair to say that we all have an ideal scenario to offer up, but consider what if the Lodge was not just the gateway to corporate Freemasonry but rather the apex of the journey?

What if the concordant and appendent bodies were free to offer their degrees directly to those so inclined, instead of cannibalizing Lodge membership for the other orgs?

Say for instance the SR starting doing the craft degrees that were and are offered elsewhere?

What if the RAM adopted their own I, F and MM degrees particular to the rest of the version offered therein?

What if the recreational branch with the funny hats and little cars could finally go to the source and draw from the public and bypass the lodge altogether?

If so, at the very least those seeking the Lodge would be there because they were looking for it specifically.

Just a thought.
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Re: The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby Lloyd Wiebe » Sun Feb 23, 2014 11:55 pm

Paterson Burns wrote:The make-a-mason-in-a-minute degrees are not being overtly practiced in Saskatchewan at present.

We do however have those Lodges that are known for unashamedly churning out new Masons (whose qualifications and proficiency in the Craft are widely questioned) soley for the purpose of meeting the membership requirement for another organization, that at present can only draw its membership from Lodges.

These are members of our fraternity who know nothing about the Craft and after they are raised, they are never seen in lodge again.

It would be preferable if these other organizations could draw directly from the public so that the members of the same, did not refer to themselves as Masons.

Sadly, the Lodges in my area who are guilty of this ongoing activity, are known to those who could do something about it, but choose to maintain the status quo because GL still gets its slice from the dues paid to the Lodge, whether that member should be there or not.

Although the lodges are not doing one day degrees, some of our appendent and concordant bodies do, as they currently struggle for new members from the same pool of Master Masons and too many of these orgs have empty officer stations and cannot afford to wait for the traditional maturation process to run its course.


I beg to differ with you on this posting. I am a member as you can see by my avatar of that other organization. I am also active in my Lodge. I tend to get a bit irritated when reading posts such as this. When I sit in Lodge most nights, I notice that if the Shrine members were to walk out there would not be a quorum. Something we also notice in the Shrine is that those same members missing at Lodge meetings are also missing at Shrine meetings. I joined Masonry in 1979 and did not join the Shrine until 2006 due to listening to brothers such as yourself who were not, nor ever had been Shriners. The long and short of it is that they did not know what the heck they were talking about. I have also discovered that those Masons who are Shriners tend to better understand the meaning of brotherly love, relief, and truth. The majority of the members in our local Shrine club are past masters and very active. One member is currently on the Grand Lodge board of general purpose, and four are past DDGM's.
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Re: The Black Cube of Harmony

Postby Paterson Burns » Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:47 am

It's interesting that you assume you know what org was being referred to.

As a matter of fact, I was a Shriner. My mentor was a Shriner and the very first meeting that had anything to do with Masonry in my life, was being a guest visitor to the Oriental Band. My mentor shaped my perspective on my journey in the Craft.

As well, little else irritates me more than any member, of any org that would presume to tell me that I am not entitled to my opinion, especially if my opinion is drawn from experience.

I am also a Past Master of my Lodge. I have traveled extensively in the Craft and beyond. I am a Mentor. I presently have several brothers whose Masonic journey I am party to and many more who are now Past Masters themselves.

I'm not bashing your organization. Just because I choose to focus on the Lodge, instead of the rest of the orgs, does not mean I think that my favorite part of Masonry is any better or worse than yours.

Why can't we have a hypothetical discussion on what the Masonic landscape would look like if the Craft, AASR, AAONMS, RAM, CR, KT etc... were to fend for themselves for membership?

What if our future requires us to rethink how we do business and how develop and or retain membership?
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