Welcome to my blog. Here you'll find posts about Freemasonry with a focus on Centralia Lodge.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Worshipful Master's Remarks

Worshipful Master's Remarks on the occasion of the 125th Installation of Officers for Centralia Lodge No. 63, Free and Accepted Masons of Washington.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Centralia Masonic Temple, Centralia Washington

Cameron M. Bailey W. M.

On behalf of myself, the officers, and the members of Centralia Lodge I want to thank everyone for coming here today.  Your presence at this ceremony is appreciated by each and every of us.

At our last installation Lou brought Elvis himself to you.  Today I fear that you are stuck with me, but I hope that you will find something of value in what I have to say.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to specifically thank two groups of men here today.

First I would like to pass along my sincere thanks to the brothers who drove down from Snohomish County to participate today.  Each of you, in your own way welcomed me into Freemasonry, and through your words and actions, you taught me the meaning of Masonry.  You didn't just teach me what Masonry is however, much more importantly you taught me what Masonry should be.  For that I am eternally grateful.  I fondly remember sitting in Andre's living room, drinking his expensive Scotch on many occasions as we discussed and debated the fine points of Masonic philosophy.  Likewise I well remember sitting down with our Grand Master, then a District Deputy, trying to learn the words of our Posting Lecture.

Secondly I would like to thank the brothers from Thurston and Lewis counties, most especially the members of Centralia Lodge.  It wasn't very long ago that I showed up down here with little more than a brief and second hand introduction.  I didn't know any of you, and certainly none of you knew who this guy from Snohomish, with his own ideas about Freemasonry might be.  I thank you for welcoming me into your fellowship, for listening to me with minds open, and today, for trusting me with the future of this old and venerable lodge.

What is Freemasonry, and what should it be?

These are, I think, questions of vital importance, not just to our lodges, but to the world at large.  These questions deserve to be contemplated, and should be discussed.  That is my aim here today.

Freemasonry is exceedingly difficult to define.  Unquestionably, it is a fraternity that holds a unique philosophy.  Beyond that however, things tend to get a bit muddy.  The greatest students and authors of Masonry can't even agree on what exactly it may be.  Albert Pike saw in Freemasonry a great an all encompassing political philosophy, yet others claim that politics has no place in a Masonic Lodge.  Albert Mackey quite openly defined it as a religion, but it has never been accepted as such by any lawful Masonic authority.

When contemplating it, I think that we can best define Freemasonry by looking back in history to a time in which Freemasonry did not exist.  To a time commonly known as the dark ages.  Since its founding Freemasonry has had an extraordinary impact upon the thoughts of man.  Prior to its founding men spent their lives huddled in fear, living in darkness.  The few rich, who owned everything on the land, including the people, could and would kill those subject to their whims at any time, and for any reason.  If the secular lord didn't get you, the church wasn't far behind, gleefully torturing and burning anyone who dared to disagree.  Knowledge itself was deemed evil and everyone from King to lowest peasant lived lives of ignorance and superstition.

The details and dates of the founding of the first Masonic Lodges are lost to the mists of time.  We do however know that they were existing, underground during the reign of the Tudors in England.  These Tudor monarchs are perhaps the very best example of why our world needs Freemasonry, and of the positive impact Freemasonry has had upon it. 

King Henry the 8th was certainly an interesting guy.  When he came to power there were Protestants within his realm.  He however was a great supporter of the Roman Catholic Church, so he dealt with these thought crimes as any good tyrant would.  He tortured and murdered the Protestants in an effort to ensure that everyone thought about spiritual matters in exactly the same way he did.  The big trouble for his realm however came about when he decided to become a Protestant himself.  Now he had to torture and murder all those with whom he had previously agreed.  This problem didn't end with his death, for he was eventually succeeded by a daughter, affectionately known to history as Bloody Mary.  Queen Mary was a Catholic.  She felt it necessary to murder all those pesky Protestants.  That would have been fine, but her successor was Queen Elizabeth and Elizabeth considered herself a good Protestant.  You can guess where that led.

In England under the Tudors, perhaps it was best to be a Protestant on Monday and a Catholic on Tuesday for admitting to any conviction was certainly a death sentence.  The trouble was of course, who could know, from day to day whether or not this was the day he was to be Catholic or Protestant.  The earth reeked with the blood of innocents.

Meanwhile, while Kings and nobles were gleefully massacring the very people they were sworn to protect, Masonic Lodges were working, underground, in secret, spreading the philosophy that would eventually change the world.

That philosophy, at its most basic level is:

"The Brotherhood of Man."

Just what do we mean by that term, The Brotherhood of Man? 

We mean that we are to treat every man, under the canopy of heaven, as a brother.  As a man deserving of our respect, our charity, and our love.

We, as men, and as Freemasons are to regard every man as our brother, irrespective of his spiritual or political beliefs.

Eventually, as time passed, and our philosophy became more and more accepted, Freemasons would no longer be considered enemy's of the state subject to execution, in England anyway, and a group of the old lodges in London came out of hiding and publicly proclaimed their existence in 1717.

Freemasonry has spread throughout the world, existing in every country and holding devoted adherents among every nation.  While some ignorant people still consider Freemasons to be somehow evil, no government or church has systematically murdered Masons in the name of God or of the State since the 1940's when Germany attempted to exterminate all of the Freemasons within Nazi borders.

While tremendous progress has been made throughout our world, under the influence of our gentle philosophy and craft, much more remains to be done. 

In the Middle East, Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, and in parts of Asia people continue to be murdered by the thousands, by fanatics claiming to be somehow committing these crimes against humanity in the name of God.  War, fanaticism, blood, and death are the norm in our world instead of the peace and prosperity that all men should enjoy.

Freemasonry recognizes and teaches that God seeks the murder of no man.  Contrary to the beliefs of those fanatics who murder in the name of God or of the State, God chokes upon the blood of man, weeps at seeing the slaughterhouse we have made of our world.

Freemasonry is the great peace society of the world.  It is older and more honorable than any government upon the face of the earth and unlike every government that has ever existed Freemasonry never achieves its aims through violence and death, it achieves its goals through gentle persuasion and the good example of its votaries.

Freemasonry is the only institution in the world where one altar of God can hold the Hebrew Scriptures, both Catholic and Protestant versions of the Holy Bible, the Noble Koran, and any other Scripture, without rancor and with equal reverence.  That in which elsewhere in time, and elsewhere in the world is cause of the death of millions is an acknowledgement of spiritual unity within the protective confines of the Masonic Lodge.

None of this is to say that Freemasonry is without problem.  It certainly faces a major crisis today as membership is falling, and lodge doors are closing.

That crisis has come about because Freemasonry has forgotten how to dream.

Freemasonry is the oldest, largest, richest, most powerful, organized body of men existing upon the face of the earth.

For most of a century however, we have done little to nothing with that power.  We do little because we dream little.  It wasn't always that way, and it certainly doesn't have to be that way, we simply have to recognize our power for good within the world, and exercise that power for the good of humanity.

During Western Europe's Dark Ages brilliant men dreamed of a time and a place in which men of all faiths and all creeds could join together as brothers with the goal of working together to improve the lot of man.  These men formed the first Masonic lodges, taking the building of King Solomon’s temple as the basis for our allegories, and reviving the teachings of the Ancient Mysteries as our philosophy.

Later men dreamed of a time in which Freemasonry and its philosophy could be accepted by the world at large and through their efforts a time did come in which Masonry could publicly announce itself and in which Royalty would even embrace it.  Through their diligent efforts they succeeded, and even to this day the Masonic Order in the United Kingdom is headed by a Royal.

In 1717, when Freemasonry made its public appearance society the world over was stratified.  Lords and commoners, rich and poor, society was divided into castes and the classes didn't mix.  Didn't mix anywhere but within the Masonic Lodge that is.  There every man was considered equal to every other, and men met upon the level.  Even sitting President Theodore Roosevelt sat in Lodge as a brother while his gardener served as Master.

Taking the lesson of equality learned within the Masonic Lodge, men the world over began to chafe under the strict class system within society, and grew to object to the tyranny of Kings.  Around the world Freemasons dreamed of a new kind of society, a society that would be based upon merit instead of birthright, a society that would offer everyone liberty and equal opportunity.

Eventually these dreams would be carried forward by Freemasons throughout the world who would rise up, throwing despotic rule aside to become the very fathers of nations.  Freemason George Washington became the father of the United States.  Freemason Benito Juarez threw off European rule becoming the father of a new and free Mexico.  Freemason Giuseppe Garibaldi founded the State of Italy.  Freemason Emilio Aguinaldo became the first President of the Philippines after throwing off Spanish Rule.  Simon Bolivar was an extremely busy Freemason, and an extremely big dreamer.  He threw off European rule from Venezuela, Columbia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, and of course Bolivia, ensuring freedom from European tyranny throughout Central and South America.

Throughout the world Freemasons fought for independence, home rule, equality, and democracy.  A review of the Masonic membership of signers of the Declaration of Independence, and our nation's Constitution clearly shows just how great an impact Freemasonry had on the founding of this nation, but that massive impact was felt everywhere that men struggled to be free.

Perhaps Emilio Aguinaldo said it best when he opined:

"The successful revolution of 1896 was Masonically inspired, Masonically led, and Masonically executed, and I would venture to say that the first Philippine Republic of which I was its humble President was an achievement which we owe largely to Masonry and the Masons."

We, the men in this room, and in rooms like it throughout the world truly are The High Priests of Democracy.

Freemasonry's big dreams did now however end with governance.  They extended further to encompass all aspects of life.

For example, when Freemasons saw a need for free health care for the children of North America they didn't just sit around complaining about it, or run off and lobby the government to do something about it.  No.  Freemasons, through the Shrine and the Scottish Rite founded a chain of hospitals throughout America, Canada, and Mexico.  Hospitals that provide the very highest quality, and totally free services to every child who can benefit from them.

Let's consider the Shriner's Hospital for Children just down the road in Portland.  No child or child's family has ever been asked to pay a nickel for health care received there.  If a child's life is saved in that Shrine hospital Alan pays the bill, Ray pays the bill, Lou pays the bill.  They do this out of their own sweat and their own treasure and they do so without ever mentioning it.  That is real charity, that is Masonic charity.

On a very local scale, in the 1920's the Freemasons of Centralia had a dream.  It wasn't an overwhelming dream like Freemason George Washington's dream of founding a new nation, but it was a big dream nevertheless.  They dreamed of building a Masonic Temple. 

They dreamed of building a Masonic Temple large enough and beautiful enough so as to properly reflect the importance of Freemasonry and bring good feelings toward our gentle craft throughout our community.  They dreamed this building and they built it.

Our world today needs Freemasonry just as badly as it was needed in times past.  Today the earth remains a slaughterhouse filled with destruction, murder and war.  Instead of face-to-face combat we have terrorism and death from the sky, but the result is the same.  No one today can look around the world and claim that we are on the right track, that freedom and liberty are on the rise.  Even in America's own back yard children are walking, thousands of miles to escape unbelievable violence within their homelands of Guatemala and Honduras.

Freemasonry is needed today, and Freemasons everywhere must work for the betterment of humanity.

We don't seem to be doing that with much energy though.

Today it seems that our world is being ruled by the bloodthirsty and the incompetent.  We do not see Freemasonic statesmen like Washington and Juarez; instead glorified warlords like Putin take center stage.  Why do we as Masons allow it?

Freemasonry isn't really founding new hospital chains or other massive charities today.  Rather we are re-trenching, hoping to hold on to that which our ancestors created for as long as we possibly can.  Why are we as Masons allowing this to be the case?

Even right here in Centralia where those who came before us built this beautiful building.  We can't even afford to properly maintain that which those who came prior to us built.  How can we, as Masons, tolerate this?

I've got to tell you.  The challenge Freemasonry faces today is not financial.  Our fraternity, around the world, controls vast wealth.  This building alone is worth a small fortune.  The challenge we face is not manpower.  Freemasonry has as many adherents today as it did when this building was erected. 

The challenge Freemasonry faces today is a lack of vision, a lack of dreams.  Sometime over the last 100 years Masonry surveyed all the good it had done since the renaissance and decided to rest.  It had brought freedom and equality to men, it had instilled within man a love of knowledge and a support for education.  It had founded charities, it had founded nations, and its reach extended deeply into every city and hamlet not only in this country, but around the world.  The fraternity saw the good it had done and rested.

Decades have passed, and Freemasonry is still resting.

It is time to wake up.

It is time to revitalize our lodges as centers of equality, of learning, of philosophy, of light.  It is time to seize that which we have been given and use it for the good of our world, for the positive progress of humanity.

It is time for this fraternity, for our lodges to dream again, great dreams, world changing dreams, and to pursue those dreams with an unmatched will, just as the Freemasons who came before us did.  Working together, we can, fulfill the promise of Freemasonry.

I want to state here today that I am humbled and honored to have been selected to lead this lodge into the future.  Each and every member of this lodge is a good man whom I am proud to call a brother and I will do my very best to make everyone of you proud.

I am blessed with an amazing line of officers, men who will come after me and assure that this lodge will continue its great and positive momentum for years and years to come.

I am also blessed with my friends throughout this great Masonic jurisdiction, men whom I know will help and support me as we move forward.  That has been clearly shown by your willingness to install me into office today.

Centralia lodge has had some good years, and it will continue to get better and better.  The sun has truly risen, in the east, over this lodge and we will face an ever-brighter future together.

Centralia lodge will dream big dreams.  It will help this community in countless ways over the years to come, building upon all that has been done in the past.

This lodge will not sit around once a month over some bad food, bitching about paying the bills.  This lodge is active, creative, growing, and working for the betterment of our world.  We may stumble often, but as our newest Entered Apprentice Mason reminded me recently, when something doesn't work out as we expect, it is an opportunity to learn from our mistake and redouble our efforts.  We will never stop striving to make ourselves better Freemasons and our lodge the finest lodge within this great jurisdiction.

To steal a phrase from our Most Worshipful Brother, the Freemasons of Centralia will work everyday, and in every way to better themselves, their families, their community, and thus humanity.

Thank you everyone for being here today.  Your support means more to me than words could ever express.

At this time I would like to invite our Most Worshipful Brother to the East to say a few words.

Thank you.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Past Grand Master's Dinner

As it traditionally does every other year, Centralia Lodge will be hosting our Past Grand Masters for dinner next month. We hope that you can attend.

This will prove to be an excellent evening of fellowship, and is a great opportunity for us to thank those men who gave so much of themselves while leading our Fraternity.

Sunday, October 19
Centralia Masonic Temple
218 North Pearl Street, Centralia WA, 98531

The cost is $20 per person, and must be paid in advance to ensure that we have an accurate count for dinner.

Reserve your spot by mailing a check to our Lodge Secretary at:

Ray Berrian, Secretary
11 Langabeer Road
Oakville WA 98568

Ladies are welcome and encouraged to attend this event, but seating is extremely limited given the size constraints of our formal dining room. Please purchase your 'ticket' soon to ensure availability.

Unlike in previous years, we will not retire to the lodge room following dinner. Therefore, the only way to attend this event is through advance payment as outlined above.

All members of Centralia Lodge must have a 'ticket' to attend, and are especially encouraged to mail a check to the Secretary ASAP.

This will prove to be a great dinner, and a great event. I hope to see you there!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Some Light Thoughts On Hats

I've got to say that I'm very pleased to see more and more Masters, and even Grand Masters replacing the Top Hat with a western style hat.

There is no question but that the Top Hat makes our fraternity seem totally out of date and completely out of touch with the modern world.  Besides, it is a false tradition anyway, having itself come into existence long after our lodges were publicly operating.

The western hat, in the United States is a distinct and recognizable part of our culture and I think that it sends a much more appropriate message regarding our fraternity and its relevance to modern life.

Maybe someday soon we'll be lucky enough to see all those old Toppers relegated to artifact display cases in our lodges.

In our own lodge, Centralia 63, WB Lou has done more to break the old false tradition than anyone.  Thanks WB Lou!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Lesser Of Two Evils

The lesser of two evils is evil. 

It presents us with an impossible choice, a choice in which the only moral action can be to refuse to choose.

I've been thinking about this recently because of a recent election in Snohomish County in which both candidates weren't just bad, they were both crooks.  I know them both, they both had tremendous potential before they destroyed their own lives, but I guess that has become irrelevant at this point.

Alas, as always happens in such situations, one of the candidates won and assumed office, the only good news in his case is that as his crookedness continued to be exposed he was eventually forced to resign.

The loosing candidate, also a crook, was running for a new office while still holding on to his former position.  He too was forced to resign from elective office when more of his misdeeds were exposed.

Both men sought Snohomish County's highest-ranking position, both won the support of their respective political parties despite the fact that in both of their cases, their improper activities were exposed prior to the election, and both remain under investigation.  Hopefully justice will be done and a steep fine or jail time will be in each of their futures.

We do not discuss partisan politics as Freemasons.  We do however discuss morality and justice as Freemasons, and from time to time, as in this instance, morality and justice are the overriding concerns in an election, not partisanship.

When it comes down to it we are the oldest, largest, richest, and best organized body of men in the world.  Huge lobbying groups from the left and the right, from the WEA to the NRA are dwarfed in comparison to us when it comes to sheer potential power.

The situation in Snohomish County recently was quite frankly intolerable.  It was truly a choice between two evils, two crooks, and no matter how one voted or who won, one would be governed by evil, governed by a crook.

In my view, we, as Masons, must again learn how to use our vast inherent power to prevent such situations from happening.  Learn how to force those who are demonstrated to be crooks out of an election.  The parties clearly will no do so and we clearly have the raw power to do so, if only we were to learn how to use it.

Washington, Franklyn, and all our other Masonic Founding Fathers used their power to destroy an entire government, and replace it with one of their own design.  Surely we, the Masons of the 21st century can at least figure out how to keep proven crooks out of high political office.

It is I think time for us, as Masons, to dream big dreams and make big plans once again.

Friday, May 16, 2014


It's often claimed that Masons don't discuss politics as Masons or within the Masonic Lodge.  Reading no further than the first few pages of the famous Masonic work 'Morals and Dogma' proves the lie of this claim.

What Masons don't discuss and shouldn't discuss as such is partisan politics for doing so can have no result but disharmony within the lodge.  Masons should, and in my experience do, shy away from discussion of political figures and specific political issues.  This is as it should be.

Masons may however, and many do, discuss broad political principals upon which all reasonable and truthful men can agree.  Examples of this abound, from the writings of Brother Pike, to the credit Freemasonry is due for our nation's public school systems, to the fact that our nation was founded in large part by Freemasons and based upon Masonic principals.

As individuals it is always easy to get carried away thinking about political candidates and the political issues of the day.  This is especially easy perhaps for me, given the fact that my vocation is openly political and openly partisan.  It is however always helpful to step back and forget about the candidates and the current issues for a time and instead focus upon those broad Masonic political ideas that have been with us since time immemorial.

The ideas of individual liberty, opposition to tyranny, the political belief in the importance of education, the right and duty of man to stand in opposition to that which is harmful to the good, and so many more.

When we take some time to consider the principals of our fraternity we gain great perspective on the events of the day and the people who shape those events.  This brings us wisdom, which must be a goal of every Freemason.

Friday, May 9, 2014

To Subdue My Passions

"...To Subdue My Passions..."

It seems like this is an easy little phrase, but I think that perhaps it can be misunderstood as easily as understood.

'To Subdue' does not mean 'To Eradicate.'  We, as Freemasons are not seeking to eradicate our passions or to remove them from our lives, for without passion life is without color and vibrancy, it becomes nothing but a dull emotionless grey.  We are seeking to master and control our passions so that they are ruled by our will, and not allowed to control us.

This mastery or control sets us apart from those masses of men who like the animals are driven by little else than base need and passion.  We seek to rule our desires and passions with our reason.  When we succeed in this we have mastery over ourselves.

'My Passions' is not limited to those things that society considers to be bad somehow, or that we consider to be bad.  Our passions are things that are both good and bad.  In turn, we must master and control both the good and the bad for even a passion for a good, if taken too far can become a negative.

The old adage is true, too much of a good thing can turn that good thing bad.  Moderation in even our positive passions is a goal that should be striven for, as is called for in our shared ritual.

Our positive passions drive us towards excellence and greatness when properly controlled by our will and directed by our reason.  Without this direction and control they must either loose their power to positively change us or rebound to harm instead of help.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Promise of Freemasonry

When I am all alone, in the dead of night, with nothing to occupy myself but my own thoughts, if I am completely honest with myself and critically review every facet of my life, then I must admit to myself that Freemasonry has fulfilled its promise to me.  Freemasonry has improved my life, it has taken this good man and through its teachings has made him a better man.

It is for that reason alone that I am willing to devote so much of myself to it.  Freemasonry takes up a great deal of my time.  It demands much thought and attention each and every day.  If I add it all up it is clear that Freemasonry claims a good deal of my income as well.  I do all of this for the furtherance of Freemasonry, to do my best to ensure that it remains a vital and vibrant part of my community, so that other men may experience its promise just as I have.  To further its mission of improving our world by improving individual men, one at a time.

To experience the promise of Freemasonry and initiate must spend his time, and do work.  Mental work, but work nonetheless.  He must study, consider, and learn the truths of Masonry himself, and then apply those truths to his own life.  If he does this he will improve his life, he will make himself into a better man.

Some men do this after their initiation, others do not.  Like all things in life it is decided by the individual's free choice.  Just as membership in the Masonic Fraternity must be sought out by he who desires it, so too must the lessons of Masonry be sought out and found by he who wants to learn them.

Those of us who have come before can help the new initiate on his quest for 'Light' by encouraging him to seek it out, and by providing him with a vibrant, active, welcoming, and supportive lodge of men from within which he can pursue his own personal search for that treasure which Freemasonry freely offers to its initiates.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Thoughts On The Proper Dress Of Masons While In Lodge

"The Brethren Will Be Clothed"

Perhaps I differ from many Freemasons, but in my view dress codes within our lodges are important and wholly positive.  Lodge dress is certainly a topic often discussed and I've heard views ranging from 'come as you are' to 'tuxedos are the only appropriate dress for lodge.'  This latter view seems to be most often expressed by those supportive of the Traditional Observance style of Masonry.

I'm a member of four lodges.  Three of those are without a dress code per se, but the men who attend seem to have informally adopted the dark suit as the appropriate dress.  These three lodges incidentally, while not failing, are also not smashingly successful.  They are getting by, quietly.

The fourth lodge I belong to does have a dress code.  Men show up for lodge in blue jeans, a very specific '1950's Television Cowboy Shirt' with the Square and Compasses embroidered upon the breast, and the Master dons a cap appropriate to the rest of the outfit and the theme of the lodge.

This fourth lodge is extremely successful, holding tremendous numbers of active members, many of whom must drive hours from their homes to the temple.  I believe the lodge is so successful that it currently has more members than the entire population of the tiny mountain town in which it is located.

In my view, one of the reasons this particular lodge is so successful is because of its dress code.  Masons want to feel a strong sense of belonging, a true fraternity with their brothers.  By dressing the same, the bonds of brotherhood are made stronger, both in feel and in fact.  The brethren active in this particular lodge understand the importance of dress and take steps to ensure that they are all dressed appropriately to this lodge.  Much like our brothers advocating for the Traditional Observance style do.

Where I differ from the Traditional Observance movement is in the fact that I don't believe the tuxedo to be the only, or even the preferred form of dress.  Rather, I believe that the form of dress adopted by a lodge needs to be reflective of the wider community around that specific lodge.  Otherwise we are not creating a positive dress code that will strengthen the bonds of brotherhood, we are creating a caricature.

These past few months I have had the honor of leading my local lodge while its Master has been away wintering in sunny Florida.  From day one I have tried to replace the dark suit and tie traditionally worn by the members of this lodge with a unique looking workman's shirt called a Hickory shirt.


Because the Hickory Shirt is appropriate to the community in which our lodge exists.  It is appropriate to the men who make up the membership of our lodge, and importantly, it is appropriate to the men we want to attract to Masonry.

I must say that before I moved to this small city from a much more urbanized part of our state, I'd never even seen a Hickory Shirt.  In this city however, when I shop where this community's men shop (the work-wear store, the big hardware/outdoors store) these shirts are abundant, displayed on huge racks with a multitude of brands and styles.  My wife and I even saw them for infants. This shirt symbolizes the outdoor living and hardworking nature of this community and the men who call it home.  It is a symbol of the community, just like the 'TV Cowboy' shirt worn by the very successful lodge I discussed earlier is a symbol of the community in which that lodge is based (a community built around railroading.)

I, along with a few other Masons, and our wives went to a play in our community last night.  It was a great play and we had a wonderful time.  Despite the fact that this is a small city, we are blessed with wonderful live theater here.  The thing is though, when I looked around the playhouse, there was not a single man, anywhere in the audience, wearing a suit and tie.  Men, every man in the place except for the actors was in blue jeans and casual shirts.

My wife and I though don't only go to the theater in this city, we also travel north to a much more metropolitan city and attend the theater there.  When I go to that theater I wear a nice suit and tie, as does almost every other man in the audience.  A suit and tie for the theater is expected and appropriate in that much larger city.  In the small city I now call home wearing a suit and tie to the theater would mark one as out of place.

It should be much the same in our lodges.  We should dress appropriately.  Maybe that appropriate dress is the formal tuxedo or at the other end of the spectrum, maybe it is the Hickory shirt.  It will differ from lodge to lodge, from community to community.  Whatever it is, it should be appropriate to that community, otherwise it is not a positive dress code that enhances the lodge; it is a caricature that marks the lodge as odd and an object of derision instead of an institution to be admired.

A lodge of men, ill at ease in ill fitting suits, in a community that does not even embrace the suit for the theater is not a lodge that other men in the community, even the best men in the community will want to join.  However, a lodge of men, dressed appropriately for their community and obviously having fun while doing good within that community will attract other men, including the very best of men.

I also think it proper to touch upon tradition.  As I've discussed, it is the tradition of the lodge in my city to wear suits, just as it is tradition within this lodge for the Master to don a top hat.  A Master in a battered and poorly fitting top hat is a poor sight indeed, yet it seems so important to some that the Master wear the hat due to 'tradition.'

What tradition I must wonder?

The top hat is not a truly traditional hat for the Master of a lodge to wear.  It cannot be so, because it was not invented until Masonry had already existed for hundreds of years.  I do not know what particular hat may have been worn by the Masters of the London lodges who formed the first Grand Lodge, but I know full well that it was not a top hat because the first top hat was made when the Grand Lodge system was well out of its infancy.

Masonic traditions are those things, which we hold dear that have existed within our noble institution from time immemorial.  The top hat, and the modern man's suit, are not such, rather they are newer creations that have simply taken on the form of tradition.  They can be dispensed with without harming our institution or its legitimate traditions in any way.  Indeed, in some situations and in some lodges they should be done away with in order to keep Masonry and its true traditions alive and vibrant.

I am not anti-suit, anti-tuxedo, or even anti-top hat.  I believe that all have their place, and that for a great many lodges they form the basis of a perfect dress code.  I do however recognize that this is not true in all locations, all communities, or all lodges.  I believe that an appropriate dress code can do more to strengthen the bonds of brotherhood, and strengthen a lodge than almost any other action that can be taken.  The key is appropriateness, for without it the opposite will occur and weakness will be the result instead of strength.

My lodge can continue to be perceived as a dusty old institution composed of dusty old men wearing dusty old suits and doing dull things, or it can stop fighting the community in which it exists and present a fun and vibrant front to that community and thereby attract other good men who desire to become better men.

For my lodge this is a choice between vital life and decay & death.  This issue, that seems so trivial, is in fact of tremendous import.  My lodge, given its own unique circumstances is best served with a Hickory shirt.  Another lodge, with its own unique circumstances will be best served by tuxedo and tails.  The fundamental question is:  Given the unique circumstances of your lodge, what best serves it?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Upcoming Centralia 63 Events

Friday, April 4
Blues and Gospel Night
At the Washington Center for the Performing Arts

Brother Franklyn will be leading members of Centralia 63 up to Olympia for an evening of culture and music.

More Information

Monday, April 7
Ritual practice and informal lodge discussion
Centralia Masonic Temple

These practice evenings are always fun, offering fellowship and a great opportunity to talk about all things Masonic.  I encourage everyone to attend.

Coast Wenatchee Center Hotel

The phone number provided in the Grand Lodge Annual Communication packet for the host hotel (Coast Wenatchee Center) is incorrect.  The correct number is:


Coast Wenatchee Center Hotel