Need to modernise
Masonry in the form we know it today was probably at its strongest during the 19th century up to the end of World War II. The English of our ritual dating from this time, with the word order and style, is out of keeping in modern Britain.
The social order at that time was much more rigid, with little movement from working class to middle class and beyond. Masonry offered an opportunity against this trend, although Lodges, by their very structure, tend to initiate like beings.
There was a weakening with a change in society, where money and education was breaking down the boundaries of the places in which people placed themselves and society expected them to be.
Early Masonry, through rites and its perambulations, ensured all members were male and that they had no physical disability to prevent the work undertaken from its completion.
The ritual aspect of early Masonry opened the door into philosophical thought of the day, with its unfolding enlightenment, reinforced by religious teaching.
Science has altered many people's perceptions, and the seeking after truth has now many more paths. It is probably less important to modern man. The allegorical interpretations are not taught and left for the individual to discover.
In today's society, the step from candidate to Past Master has little to commend it other than to reinforce the already established hierarchy. Today this could be proving too rigid to be accepted.
Two pressures are exerted within Lodges, that of candidate and Master. If the candidate is not given sufficient emphasis, the Lodge cannot grow. If the Master is not given importance, the Lodge will not grow.
A successful Lodge maintains the interest of the candidate, and encourages his and its progression. Candidates, when first joining a Lodge, do not feel involved. Much could be gained by repeating part of the previous degree, or even given a turn at a junior post for a meeting.
The government of the Craft is in the hands of an ever-increasing ageing membership, so little change can be expected. Many businesses succeed despite itself, and it is only when adverse conditions exist that it forces measures to be taken.
Most organisations see merit in increasingly making membership and advancement more difficult, and most professions have followed this philosophy.
The Masonic edifice to which we belong is held together by the mortar of ritual, the learning of which does not extend, in many instances, to its full appreciation.
With every initiate a new foundation is set in place, and with it the structure grows stronger. This enlarging edifice rests on the advancement of all our members, each of whom has the potential to reach the very pinnacle of the construction.
Some while ago I was given a book printed in 1939, and consisted of ritual followed by lectures in each degree. It is set out as if the instruction was all part of the rehearsal, making LOIs true Lodges of Instruction in the advancement, understanding and expansion of knowledge.
Philip Pike, Marsh Gibbon, Oxfordshire
Poor Lodge work
Like Raymond Hollins (MQ, Issue No. 10) I appreciate good work in Lodge but am dismayed as standards fall to an abysmal level in some Lodges.
I see Lodges of Instruction where in many cases the Master does not even bother to attend, nor do half the officers, leaving the DC to sort it out, while, sadly, he has little knowledge of stagecraft, presentation or diction, and has forgotten half the words in the "Blue Book" which never change.
If it was a theatre company, they would be sacked on the spot, yet they scorn actors who, like me, have had to learn three plays at once in weekly repertory, yet on we go - word perfect!
I came into the Craft expecting great things, but it has not happened as far as I can see, yet they all say how well it went, and how good you were, when you know it was a glorious mess and slowly looks like a bad version of another "Amateur Nite" at the Palace Dance.
Joe Marks, Shepperton, Middlesex
Macedonian Royal Arch
I read with interest the article on Cheshire Royal Arch Masonry in MQ (MQ, Issue No. 10). In September 2001, Egyptian Chapter No. 27, with some help from Freemasons' Hall, exalted six Masons from Macedonia.
In September 2002, a further seven were exalted, again with the help of Freemasons' Hall. We were also able to present both groups with their Supreme Grand Chapter Certificates.
K S Helps, Oxted, Surrey