What Our Lodge Is - and Is Not
Every now and then we receive a request from a Master Mason for information about affiliating with our lodge as a dual or plural member. (Dual members hold membership in an out-of-state lodge. Plural members hold membership in another Ohio lodge.)
These brethren are motivated by their perception of the lodge as being one that can add to their masonic experience in positive ways. Sometimes these perceptions are inaccurate, e.g. that "we don't do any business in meetings," that "we are an 'education lodge'," that "we use a different ritual," or that we incorporate ritual components "not allowed in other lodges."
Arts & Sciences Lodge is chartered by the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ohio, and complies with the Code for the Government of Lodges, the edicts and decisions of the Grand Master, and all other requirements of Ohio masonic lodges generally. All ritual work we do is in compliance with the ritual. If we do something differently than your own lodge, it is because we have studied the Code and ritual and are either following their requirements or found that flexibility is permitted in a particular area.
We are not an "education lodge" in the way that phrase is commonly understood, which generally appears to mean lodges in which the LEO routinely reads a paper of some kind. Sometimes painfully so. Often as an afterthought.
So what is our lodge, exactly?
The answer to this question can be found in our vision statement: "As a lodge we are but one among equals. We carry the same charter, work the same ritual, practice the same principles. We strive for excellence in all we do." It is that last sentence where we try to focus our efforts.
In terms of education, this means we explore masonic education through discussion so that we may each improve in the practice of applied masonry.
Our idea is that masonry left at the lodge hall is no masonry at all, and that masons, like all men, really only learn by doing. While listening is important, and can be entertaining, it is insufficient by itself. Men learn by doing, not listening. God gave us a brain, and the use of human intellect is the only means by which the human race has ever advanced.
Master Masons wishing to affiliate with Arts & Sciences Lodge will not find their experience of any value if they come merely to listen. Everyone is a student, but all must be teachers. As our vision statement says, "An essential requirement for membership is the cultivation of a curious and receptive mind."
Likewise, the best foundation for membership in anything is a personal commitment to attend and participate. Membership in our lodge should be viewed the same way and seen as a commitment to participate---intellectually and in person.
Getting Up to Speed - Pre-Application Reading
We go over all of this with our petitioners and candidates as they proceed though the School for the Profane and the Lodges of Instruction for Entered Apprentices, Fellow Crafts, and Master Masons. Affiliating Master Masons should have these tools also, wherefore the following suggested basic reading list. These should be read before submitting an application for membership, after which an affiliating Master Mason should coordinate with the Lodge Education Officer to attend the Lodge of Instruction for Master Masons.
A good foundation in the basics of masonic symbolism as expressed in the three degrees is also essential. We expect that every member will have read Carl H. Claudy's Introduction to Freemasonry from cover to cover. This book is, in our opinion, required reading for every Freemason. It should also be read before submitting an application for membership.
Getting to Know Us - Pre-Application Attendance
Just as importantly, an affiliating Master Mason should consider whether he has the interest and resources for attending lodge on a regular basis. If the desire is simply to associate with our lodge and attend from time to time, then membership is probably not the best choice. Arts & Sciences encourages visitors, and no advance request to visit is required or even expected. But only by attending frequently and regularly (say, ~70% of the stated and special meetings) will you be able to justify being a dues-paying member.
We like to say, "There are no strangers among us; we are friends and brothers only." Non-masons are expected to attend about four to six months of our pre-meeting dinners before submitting a petition. We believe every initiate, when talking about his initiation, should be able to say "I knew pretty much everybody in the room." Affiliating Master Masons are likewise expected to know - and be known by - the majority of the lodge's officers and members before submitting an application for dual or plural membership, or on demit.
Getting to Know How We Do It - Pre-Application Conversations
A full buy-in to the lodge's traditions is also expected. As will be evident from the reading materials, we are men who love masonry. Our impetus to form the lodge, however, came out of frustration with meetings. Accordingly, we do not handle our meetings, or do anything else, in a particular way just because "other lodges do it that way." That rationale is, in fact, a "no no" in our lodge. We open the Code and do what the Code requires, and we listen to our assigned deputy and do what our assigned deputy requires.
We do not waste our time and irritate our membership by taking up matters in meetings which are not required to be done in meetings. Accordingly,
- We do not read bills in lodge.
- We do not read minutes in lodge.
- We do not vote on expenditures which have already been approved via the lodge's budget.
- We do not read correspondence in lodge except in rare circumstances (e.g., a note of gratitude from a surviving spouse or a sample from a set of thank-you letters from the children of Hilliard Horizon Elementary School).
- We do allow other masonic bodies to talk about their organizations in our lodge (or, for example, at pre-meeting dinners) when we can do so with an advance notice to the members and in association with the meeting's discussion topic.
We have been asked by secretaries of affiliated masonic organizations to explain these last two. The short answer is that all these things detract from our purpose. The business of a lodge and its purpose are two, very different things. The purpose of our lodge is to be a vehicle by which our members can leverage the power of Freemasonry in order improve themselves and, thus, be a positive force in their community. The less "business" in lodge, therefore, the better. Masonic correspondence will be forwarded to the lodge's email list. Affiliated organizations can solicit members in other, more appropriate venues, to include speaking at a pre-meeting dinner.
One Last Point
Membership in our lodge is not automatic. We must get to know you just as you must get to know us. If you cannot or do not make the effort to get to know us as individuals, it is quite possible that your membership will not be approved. This is not a moral judgment - just the simple fact that we take the ballot box seriously and need to know you first.
If all of this seems more like fun that work, well you'll fit right in. We are always interested in thoughtful, well-spoken members who like the give-and-take of exploring and exchanging ideas. Get to know us. We think you'll like us and we fully expect that we'll like you too, the result being that we will all be the better enabled to improve ourselves in Masonry.