Discussions in a working lodge

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Discussions in a working lodge

Postby FrankMason » Thu Dec 06, 2012 4:59 pm

Hi brethren,

One thing that I feel could improve freemasonry for me, and perhaps for many others, is to have discussions and debates on masonic related subjects within open lodge.

We had a lecture from the provincial grand orator back in our January meeting when I was still in the chair. As we had a fellowcraft present he only covered the 1st & 2nd degrees, and then invited us to ask questions during his talk as well as at the end. It was a good session and many brethren joined in and discussed the responses. For me, this is more the reason I joined masonry and not just to perform ceremonies as is the usual case.

Of course it is essential to get new blood into the lodge and to progress brethren who are not MMs but I feel having talks, discussions can really benefit the newer or junior members. One particular interest is masonic symbolism and allegory, what does the 'G' mean? Why do we have a chequered carpet, who really was H.A? etc

S&F


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Re: Discussions in a working lodge

Postby allan0406 » Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:56 am

I think that is the way forward, the thirst for Masonic has to be quenched, especially from newer Brethren, and as not everyone can afford the cost of books, and having to be very careful in what we read on the internet, that is a very good idea. As soon as I class myself reasonably proficient in the ritual aspect, I want to press further in gaining the history of Freemasonry.....and getting answers to the type of question you have stated, and idea's like that would really help and be much more entertaaining as well.
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Re: Discussions in a working lodge

Postby Trouillogan » Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:58 pm

For that kind of information and for the material to enable you to have your own informed discussions and debates, have you considered joining any of the Masonic research circles? There are several about, e.g. Manchester Association for Masonic Research (MAMR), the well known Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle, Lodge of Research No. 2429, Leicester as well as others. Google them for more details.
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Re: Discussions in a working lodge

Postby russellholland » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:40 pm

It may be useful to point out the observation of Albert Mackey:

"But he who expects to arrive at a satisfactory solution of this inquiry must first—as a preliminary absolutely necessary to success—release himself from the influence of an error into which novices in Masonic philosophy are too apt to fall. He must not confound the doctrine of Freemasonry with its outward and extrinsic form. He must not suppose that certain usages and ceremonies, which exist at this day, but which, even now, are subject to extensive variations in different countries, constitute the sum and substance of Freemasonry..... But it must be always remembered that the ceremony is not the substance. It is but the outer garment which covers and perhaps adorns it" http://www.gutenberg.org/files/11937/11 ... 1937-h.htm

This may be Mackey's oblique way of telling us that the ritual is often quite far removed from the ancient practices being adapted in each age to the beliefs of the time and hence having multiple stages of insertion, deletion and transformation.
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Re: Discussions in a working lodge

Postby Vincell » Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:56 pm

One way we did this was introduced when I was in the chair of KS a couple of years ago and we used Harry Carr's book The Freemason at Work as the basis for a ceremony. For those who haven't come across this work, it answers many questions about freemasonry, and the format we used was as follows:
We decided to use about 15 questions from the book, where I, as WM, would ask a question, then a brother from the floor would stand, say "WM, I know the answer to that" and read out the answer as given in the book verbatim using a laminated sheet with the answer printed on it (apart from one or two judicious edits, such as when an answer used the words "see below"). We primed many of the past masters to provide comments and observations on some of the answers should they choose, so that the question was answered verbatim, but the comments provided added an additional and local flavour.
We cleared this with our mandating officer prior to performing this ceremony, and he was happy with this. We also made sure that all questions were fit for all to hear and did not divulge any secrets of any degree above the first degree, in which the session was held (although the book contains answers to questions relating to numerous degrees, including the Installation Board).
We rehearsed the session during our lodge of instruction, and then lodge of rehearsal. A range of brethren were used, including two who had not done any floor work because of nervousness but who were willing to read a passage of prose (and the practices were beneficial, as it's quite a skill to read out loud in public), and we ended up only using half the questions. It was a successful evening and repeated the exercise the following year.
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Discussions in a working lodge

Postby Lester » Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:26 am

In my Mother Lodge, Artes et Scientiae 8797, it was - and may well still be - traditional to set aside one of the meetings as a lecture.
Should it be necessary to work a degree at the meeting, the lecture was also included.


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Re: Discussions in a working lodge

Postby Hemlock » Thu Dec 11, 2014 4:29 pm

In Notts we have a team of brethren who give various odd lectures and talks on the different aspects of masonry. So if we have a free meeting instead of doing a "Practice" we can invite one of these chaps over. Very good they are too.
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Re: Discussions in a working lodge

Postby JulesTheBit » Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:36 pm

Some of us here are members of a London Lodge that occasionally confers degrees but usually concentrates on papers.

Meets on Saturday mornings at GQS. I'm secretary. No festive board, we go to the pub.

Visitors welcome, PM me for details.

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Re: Discussions in a working lodge

Postby Ardancour » Thu Dec 11, 2014 9:45 pm

Dear all,
I was interested to read your comments and reactions on this topic. In the brand of freemasonry that I belong to (I am currently affiliated to the Grand Orient of France), discussions between the brethren within the lodge forms the core of our masonic work. Of course we follow ritual, but it is unusual for a meeting to consist uniquely of ritual. In a typical meeting, one lodge member presents a "piece of architecture", which is then followed by a discussion in the lodge. The role of the ritual in these situations is to define how the brethren may request to speak and serves as a regulator and mental discipline, the concern being to guarantee respect and equality between all present.
The idea is to give freemasonry an inherently creative character, not limited to the performance of ritual per se, in keeping with its symbolic "builders'" vocation. No doubt this way of doing things will seem unusual to English masons, but it is actually standard masonic practice in many continental lodges.

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Re: Discussions in a working lodge

Postby Trouillogan » Fri Dec 12, 2014 11:40 am

Ardancour wrote:Dear all,
I was interested to read your comments and reactions on this topic. In the brand of freemasonry that I belong to (I am currently affiliated to the Grand Orient of France), discussions between the brethren within the lodge forms the core of our masonic work. Of course we follow ritual, but it is unusual for a meeting to consist uniquely of ritual. In a typical meeting, one lodge member presents a "piece of architecture", which is then followed by a discussion in the lodge. The role of the ritual in these situations is to define how the brethren may request to speak and serves as a regulator and mental discipline, the concern being to guarantee respect and equality between all present.
The idea is to give freemasonry an inherently creative character, not limited to the performance of ritual per se, in keeping with its symbolic "builders'" vocation. No doubt this way of doing things will seem unusual to English masons, but it is actually standard masonic practice in many continental lodges.

Fraternity,
Alex Ardancour
Lodge Freedom of Conscience, Grand Orient of France (English-speaking), London UK. ( [url]liberal-masonry.org[/url] )

That is very refreshing. Of course, there are many UGLE Lodges whose work is primarily to present authoritatively researched papers which are then routinely discussed and commented upon by those present and possibly later in correspondence. That is the normal process of peer review used in any scientific endeavour. Personally, I find that kind of meeting particularly interesting; away from the necessary 'grind' of degree work. Under our very sensible rules, though, subjects concerning the various merits of different faith systems or of political governance are prohibited in order to avoid disharmony.
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Re: Discussions in a working lodge

Postby Loewenstein » Tue Apr 07, 2015 3:01 pm

It is always interesting to see how different obediences estimate discussion in a working lodge.
In German lodges there is less (or none) discussion in a degree work, which normally takes place once in a month). In degree work most lodges have a speech called "Zeichnung" (similar to Ardancour's "piece of architecture") of 10 to 20 minutes (and hopefully not longer (28)), which is a lecture by the orator, sometimes of very high scholarly, philosophical or symbolic standard, but sometimes even hardly more than some crude ideas which better should not be heard outside the temple for not to embarrass freemasonry in public. However, in any case there is no discussion!
Discussion may happen afterwards, moderated by the WM (I experienced this sometimes when I visited other lodges, but not too often). And on the weekly meetings of the brethren, there is anything possible, either eating-smoking-boozing or to discuss serious philosophy or masonic symbols, though avoiding politics and religion. All this depends on the very tradition and custom of a lodge.
So when I first visited a lodge in the UK and in Ireland, I wondered that there was no speech or "Zeichnung" at all.
And in French lodges, I learned that a degree working lodge in its middle part is somewhat like a business meeting, including grand lodge correspondences, information about public affairs, charity, polls and other, just then to close down in the accustomed manner (which seems to be the nearly same all over the world).
So are German freemasons in between the different customs? I like it all, but when I read the topic, my first thought was: a "working lodge" does what? it works. And if you do not use a hammer or a gawwel or some machine for use, than you use your brain – and that means: to discuss, and to discuss with respect in the due manner as freemasons should discuss.
Hence I would feel fine also with discussion in a degree working lodge. Maybe it's a matter of exercise.
General disclaimer: Whenever you do not understand what I mean, or feel something offending in what I wrote, please first keep in mind that English is not my mother tongue and maybe I have expressed myself wrong or did not choose the correct words.
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Re: Discussions in a working lodge

Postby Ninth Arch » Wed Apr 08, 2015 8:37 am

In my Mother Lodge (UGLE, Emulation), when there wasn't a ceremony scheduled (a rare event in those days), it was common that a section or two of "The Lectures of the Three Degrees" (green book) was given. I found this extremely helpful in explaining why we did this or that and where this or that came from. I still read through a section or two every now and again. I would recommend them to anyone who may be interesting, I think they are still available on this site's book store. There is also a similar (virtually word for word) Taylor's version. I also have an earlier 1800's version which gives the full Masonic burial service among other things (officially 'forbidden' in the 1980's). And I have even managed to get a similar version for Scottish Masonry.

I also have an 1880 copy of the Lectures of the Holy Royal Arch, which are similarly enlightening for those in RA, of the way it used to be before the ritual was corrupted and butchered in 1989 (by those who should have known better for reasons of limp wristed PC - but don't get me started).

There is a wealth of information available but sadly many Lodges don't stop to consider or teach their members about the history or origins. And over the years so much is changed or done away with (the bit about "it is not in the power of any man or body of men to make innovation in the body of Masonry" apparently doesn't apply to our "high heeded yins" at Grand Lodge).
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Re: Discussions in a working lodge

Postby Loewenstein » Wed Apr 08, 2015 1:51 pm

please allow the question of a continental brother in between: what is the "green book"?
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Re: Discussions in a working lodge

Postby MrBenn » Wed Apr 08, 2015 1:53 pm

The green book is the Emulation Book of Lectures

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Re: Discussions in a working lodge

Postby Loewenstein » Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:41 pm

I see - but never seen nor read.
The description reads a little like the "Catechisms" or "Lehrgespräche" or "Unterweisungen" in German lodges. However, these never are read in lodge, as far as I know.
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Re: Discussions in a working lodge

Postby Ninth Arch » Wed Apr 08, 2015 4:01 pm

The lectures are indeed in catechism form. which I understand was more common in ceremonies in "antiquity". We retain a small part in our opening and closing in the Three Degrees. I regret I am ignorant as to German and Scandinavian protocol.

In times past a couple of Brethren would memorize one or more sections of the lectures and give them in open Lodge as the night's work but I don't know how common (or not) that is today. I have certainly never heard them in any Lodge I have visited, North or South of the Border in the last thirty odd years.
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Re: Discussions in a working lodge

Postby Richard George » Fri Apr 10, 2015 2:01 pm

Curiously, we did part of the First Degree Lecture at our last meeting!
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Re: Discussions in a working lodge

Postby Loewenstein » Tue Apr 14, 2015 12:51 pm

Ninth Arch wrote:The lectures are indeed in catechism form. which I understand was more common in ceremonies in "antiquity". We retain a small part in our opening and closing in the Three Degrees.
as it is in the German AFuAM-ritual - a trialogue inter WM, SW and JW when opening and when closing. It is almost the same text as in the "Catechism". But this is another thing than a lecture, the catechism will not be read out as lecture in a working lodge (at least not in Germany).
And of course this is nothing which is subject to discussion.

It seems that I should buy this "green book" - I am so clueless regarding English protocol.
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