Minding the West Gate?

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by JMartinez, Dec 20, 2013.

  1. JMartinez

    JMartinez Registered User

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    Brethren, I'm sure the majority of you have heard the expression "Minding the West Gate". How do you personally go about doing this? personally in my lodge each member (even those who don't visit often) has the right to express reasons why he would not want a candidate to be accepted into the Lodge (with a legitimate reason of course). We have a saying "A Bother Above Any other". please share your experiences, views, and opinions.
     
  2. crono782

    crono782 Premium Member

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    We use the phrase "guarding the west gate", but same topic. Masons have not been fully guarding the gate for some time and this is readily apparent when you see that so few members know nothing of the original aim or teachings of the Craft. Perhaps at some point Masons stopped guarding the west gate and slowly the process of enlightenment began to atrophy. My opinion is that Masonry is not for every man. It takes a certain mindset to mentally grasp what is being offered and it is not for everybody though we try to tell ourselves that it is for every man. We concern ourselves with guarding against men with criminal backgrounds and ill reputations, but why exactly? Is it because we believe that they will be a detriment to our Order or is it an artifact from the time when Masonry did all it could to save its own reputation and did everything to ward off even a hint of anything bad (questionable membership, no drinking, complete transparency to the public, charities taking over as priority #1, political scandals)? I'm not saying it is a bad thing that we regard the moral quality of a candidate in consideration of his entrance, but why do we not also regard his (perceived) capability to benefit from what we have to offer in the peculiar manner that we offer it? It seems like we seek to initiate anybody who just has the gumption to ask and has a clean record regardless of whether he will be a strong or weak link. We guard for the obvious reasons, sure, but we do not guard for all the reasons.
     
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  3. Bro Darren

    Bro Darren Premium Member

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    That saying I heard in a movie, but slightly different - A skull above any other - The Skulls.

    We should always be diligent about who we let through our doors and into our midst. There are those that pretend to be what they are not and for a whole range of reasons.
     
  4. BroBook

    BroBook Premium Member

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    As a rule if you don't want them around your wife and kids don't bring around your mother " unless you are sure she/we can help them!!!
     
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  5. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    But only if they are already good men. We take good men and make them better but we don't rehabilitate bad or ok men into good men.

    Guarding the west gate means that we make quality members a priority over quantity. We go about this at my lodge by being very thorough in our investigation process and requiring the petitioners to come eat dinner with us at our stated meetings at least three times so everyone gets a chance to know him.
     
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  6. cog41

    cog41 Premium Member

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    I agree we are not in the business of rehabilitation. That has been expressed many times around this forum and it is a statement we should adhere to.
    We use our tools to shape, modify and correct ourselves, and to remind us of what we should be. We may refer to this as our daily work because we use the tools as we go about our day.
    We take time to think about who we are and what we are doing. Where am I needed now and where am I needed the most. What can I do and How can I help?
    Sometimes it's just a word of encouragement or "Have a great Day."
    We shouldn't work to be seen but we should be seen working.

    Not everyone desires to work or provide charity and not everyone wishes to help others with their work. What I mean is work or charity of any kind.
    A couple of friendly honest and open discussions can often reveal this side of the man. An absence of either should raise a question about their admittance.
    The west is important indeed.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2013
  7. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    The phrase "guarding the West Gate", has many meanings and implications. Since admission to the Craft is by unanimous ballot, each man has an equal responsibility in determining admittance to our Craft. The newest MM, and the most senior man in the lodge have equal votes!

    Since we do not invite men (in most cases) to petition the Craft, we have to rely on random applications from men who might be interested based on what they have read on the internet, or seen in some "National treasure" film. Since we cannot invite quality men, men of character, men who would benefit the craft immensely, we have sacrificed quality long ago.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2013
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  8. Brother JC

    Brother JC Vigilant Staff Member

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    Thank you for insulting every man who has petitioned in the last several decades...
    NM has the selective use of invitation written into it's by-laws. I doubt it's the only jurisdiction to do so. Masons have "encouraged" their friends to join since before the glut; some get voted in, some don't.
     
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  9. jimbo

    jimbo Registered User

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    To not understand why one must NOT be invited, is to not understand Freemasonry, in my small and humble opinion.
     
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  10. Zack

    Zack Registered User

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    Thank you.
    Florida does not allow invitations. I read something a while back called "The 7 Blunders of the Masonic World".
    If you allow invitations, that would be "the 8th Blunder". IMO.
    Another article was called: "The Law of Magnetism". It ties in well with "The 7 blunders....." I'll see if I can find it.
     
  11. Zack

    Zack Registered User

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    Well said!
     
  12. crono782

    crono782 Premium Member

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    I think a lot of masons confuse initiating a mason by invitation with inviting them to come and learn more about masonry of their own accord. The former conflicts with several precepts and promotes cronyism while the latter is just plain smart for the successful growth of the craft IMO. Over-enforcing the ban against the former, I feel, discourages the latter as an unfortunate consequence.

    Seeing a man who lives masonry at heart in his daily life and him never becoming a mason because I never said a word to him and he didn't think to ask is just a shame. I don't have to "invite" him, but telling him that I see something in him and he could certainly be a great fit in our society I see as something to be encouraged. It would hardly be construed as a mercenary motive to join and he still has to ask and join on his own and not by outside pressure. My thoughts.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2013
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  13. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    The random candidates are a large part of why we need to guard the west gate. Notice the reaction to pointing out the problem of what happens when we rely on random candidates? Knee jerk reactions and rule citing.

    I have long figured the best way to guard the west gate is to invite and thus have a non-random source of candidates. Try saying that in lodge and see how it goes over. Knee jerk reactions and rule citing.
     
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  14. Brother JC

    Brother JC Vigilant Staff Member

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    They aren't a "candidate" until the petition is accepted and the initiation date is set. I have no problem guiding someone who I feel will be a good fit in the Craft to that point. But this isn't Rotary, and wholesale disbursement of petitions to every joker on the street will not help our Craft to prosper.
    As crono alluded; it is not against the rules to encourage someone to ask for a petition.
     
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  15. jwhoff

    jwhoff Premium Member

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    I see merit in your prospective Brother.

    A well-worded approach breaks no one's vow ... as pointed out by a past Grand Master of a few years back here in Texas.

    An invitation to a good and true man to explore the craft from a distance. Not a bad proposition in my book.

    True, we are seeing many come our way on a whim.
     
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  16. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    It is not my intention to "insult" anyone. I believe that you are missing the intent of my statement. Very few Grand Lodges permit or encourage inviting men to petition the Craft. My home state has even "banned" the '2B1 ASK1' bumper stickers. One state even forbids placing the square and compasses sticker on your vehicle.

    In far too many cases, we have taken the "free will" clause far too seriously, and over the top.

    If we cannot invite men of quality into the Craft, then we have sacrificed men of quality. Of course, good men have petitioned the Craft since the first Grand Lodge was formed in 1717. No one invited me to petition, and I consider myself a man of quality.

    But there are many good men, who would enrich our Craft, and benefit themselves, if they only knew about Masonry, and how to petition. I believe sincerely, that there are men of quality, who might be waiting for an invitation that will never come. The Craft has sacrificed these men, in the name of "Free will".
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2013
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  17. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    In most states, including my own state of Kentucky, it is very much against the rules to "encourage" a man to ask for a petition. Virginia (my state of residence) used to have a "You would make a good Mason" program, where Masons were encouraged to bring up Masonry in conversations with men who might possibly be interested in petitioning. The program was dropped when some traditionalist Masons complained.
     
  18. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    There are some things in Masonry, that I have a difficult time "latching on" to. I have a friend, who has been a Mason for over 50 years. He has held many high offices in the York Rite. He is always "bitching", about the low "quality" of men who are petitioning the craft. He talks about "scum" and "low-lifes", and "anyone with a pulse" .

    I believe he is correct in his assessment that the overall quality of men who are petitioning the craft has declined in his 50 years of Freemasonry. BUT- He does not show for meetings, and has never served on an Investigating Committee in his entire Masonic career. And since he does not show for meetings, he never votes.

    BUT- If you suggest that Masonry drops some of its antiquated rules, and we begin soliticing members from men of quality, and professional men, and community leaders, he gets all "ballistic". He will never countenance any change in the regulations to permit inviting men of quality into Freemasonry.

    How do you "square" the banning of inviting men to petition, with the low calibre of men who are petitioning? With masonry relying solely on men who become interested in Freemasonry "randomly", through a program on History channel, or a "National Treasure" film, or an internet search, how can we complain about the low echelon of men who are petitioning?
     
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  19. MoonlightMadness357

    MoonlightMadness357 Premium Member

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    Bro. Martin I understand your point, everything must evolve to adapt to its enviornment the same should go for Masonry. But I as a newly raised MM wouldn't want any change to diminish Masonry's time honored values. Saying that I feel that maybe a free thinking approach to "inviting" someone to join the craft is the best method. I personally ASKED but have known about freemasonry my whole life and had been reseaching it since prior to my coming of age, but for one who has never heard of Freemasons (didn't know those people existed until I became a Mason) want to be a part of our Fraternity. I think that bringing said person to open events and letting them see what we are all about will handle that and as far as the decrease in numbers goes the hardest thing to do is to find a mason to ask them to join it took me over 4 months to find my lodge in order to petition if you stay in a small area there are no giant temples sitting in the middle of no where with neon signs saying Masons here so not to go that far, If you are a Mason represent that you are a Mason so someone can ask what they need to do. Lastly as I finish my rambling, my lodge is a very small one and we focus on making good men better its not a cake walk to get in and you are tested the whole way thru and constantly after this is something everyone can't do so my lodge puts you to the test WE GUARD THE WEST GATE........ JAE #104 WE WANT MORE!!!
     
  20. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    When I encounter a man of quality who I wish were a Brother I tell him "Are you aware that there are generally no invitations to become a Mason? Anyone who waits for an invitation will never get one." At which point my wife says "He may be forbidden by his lodge's rules to invite you to become a Mason but I'm not. I invite you to join the Masons."

    What a bizzare attempt at changing the topic. How is the fact that Masonry without invitations depends on the quality of petitioners an insult to those good men who by random chance decided to ask? This is the sort of knee jerk reaction that happens when someone encounters the unknown and reacts in fear. "We've never done it that way before".

    There are entire jurisdictions in Europe who functioned by invitations. Please take a step back and consider that you just claimed that our brothers in those jurisdictions don't understand Masonry.

    Maybe "We've never done it that way before" in your jurisdictions or mine but Masonry is world wide so in Masonry "we" means the world. In the world "we" have absolutely done it that way before and it has worked very well.

    I suggest folks may be confusing what an invitation means. The principle has always been that a man must come to our doors without any pressure. I don't know what you think about invitations but to me the word has never included any hint of pressure. I invite people to my birthday party and if they fail to answer there's no punishment.

    A tale told by a Deputy Grand Master of California now long since MW PGM -

    There was a card club in his neighborhood and for years he had enjoyed the social company of one of his neighbor families at these games. The table discussions had long included mention of lodge events and events at other societies. At last the neighbor exclaimed "All of these stories of lodge events but you've never invited me to become a Mason!" The RW Brother answered "There are no invitations to become a Mason. Never. It's against our rules." He didn't say if his neighbor petitioned. Think of this my Brothers - A member of the progressive grand line in a state with a large Masonic population and he was losing petitioners for not knowing how to gracefully handle the rule that forbids invitations.

    My tales -

    I was at a family wedding. At our table was a man wearing a Masonic ring. I asked him about it. He was an Inspector (DDGM in the terminology of most jurisdictions). We chatted about Masonry for a while. The part I remember is when he said "Most men don't know that there are never any invitations to become a Mason. The only way to join is to go to lodge and ask for a petition".

    A couple of years later I told a friend that I was considering joining some fraternal order or service club. I knew my friend to be a 50 year Mason. He told me "I can invite you to join the Elks, but I can't invite you to become a Mason".

    It took me a while but I added those two conversations together and I went to lodge and asked for a petition.

    My conclusion remains - The best way to guard the West is to grow up out of the idea that an invitation in any way includes pressure. The result of our lack of invitations is the need for criminal background checks because we don't know who knocked on our door. The result of our lack of invitations is so many eminent men who never join because they were never invited.

    There are entire jurisdictions that have always worked by invitation and it has served them well. Invitations - WE have ALWAYS done it that way in those jurisdictions.
     
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