Progressive Line by The Relevant Mason

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by Frater Cliff Porter, May 19, 2011.

  1. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

    391
    30
    0
    http://www.therelevantmason.blogspot.com/

    Peace and harmony prevailing....a Masonic mantra if there ever was one. We say as part of our opening in Preston-Webb lodges that we would like to ensure that we not part unless things are harmonious.

    We quote from scripture and provide Master Masons that no contention should exist among Masons.

    Yet, we fail.

    I want to address what has become one of the greatest detriments in Masonry and is a common practice throughout the Craft, the largest body of Masons in the world being in the United States, even if were limited to the United States, it would still be a problem.

    The progressive line and our concern for saving the feelings of one Brother hurts an entire lodge or jurisdiction. No place, more than Masonry, allows for the unfit to seek power. You can do so with a frown, no force, and feigned hurt feelings.

    And it is our fault.

    We must keep in mind that the truly fit don’t mind the labor required to actually earn the spot, title, or position. In fact, the truly fit want to earn it. It is the slack of mind and lazy or ill suited that wish for something easy, most of all because they could never possibly earn it. They are undeserving and would fail to gain a spot just as they fail to fill the position with any quality once it is actually obtained.

    If we applied the idea of a progressive line in the world at large it would be immediately abhorred as it should be.

    Imagine that your child applies for a college and he is told that the medical school slots only go to those appointed by those already in charge. That many years ago a few ill suited men were appointed to the leadership and selection board. Nobody wanted to hurt their feelings and all voted to keep advancing them. There was also a belief that although they had never done a good job in a single position, they would rise to the occasion and do a good job in the highest positions. Unfortunately and quite shockingly this did not occur. Since this time the corpus ignoramus have surrounded themselves with ill suited men and use nepotism and foolish pandering to their egos as the general standard for admission.

    For this reason, your child can not be accepted to medical school, but we would like him to keep coming to the college and paying his tuition. There are not actually any programs, no education, and nothing really to keep him coming back because the corpus ignoramus keep voting down all programs that they don’t understand...which is most programs.

    Yet, allow for this system in Masonry.

    Masonry has within its halls teachings of courage, integrity and tenacity unto death. That great and celebrated son of the widow that is the archetype of the Master Mason died for his Word, which might be fittingly the lost word if we don’t find them within our halls.

    Masonry is filled with good men who have loving hearts and the unfit take advantage of the tolerance and desires to mentor of others.

    It is tough, sad, and frustrating to do the right thing, to be honest, to work at evaluating one another and advancing men into the leadership of the lodge that will be good for the lodge and the position will likewise be good for them.

    The common argument against statements, such as those contained in this paper, is that as Masons we must be tolerant and steer clear of judgement. In reality, it is easier to prove courage, honesty and making tough decisions from Masonic ritual than it is to argue harmony to the sake of detriment.

    Every time a Mason votes a man into a lodge when no background has been done and complains later that the committee never does a good job...needs to ask himself why he votes in the affirmative on a single petition until the practice changes.

    Every time a principle officer is voted in who doesn’t learn the ritual, doesn’t conduct himself like a Mason, or chases the title of “Past” before the present was ever obtained and we sit silently by while it happens...we promote this destructive practice as if we supported it.

    For those who will claim that as one man they can not do it...then I claim that one man is the image of one God, and that with faith we can move mountains. Good ideas are not an aerobic exercise. We need change and the change is only going to happen when we do something, not think something.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 19, 2011
  2. Beathard

    Beathard Premium Member

    1,627
    18
    0
    Great piece! Wish the old fogies in our lodges would read this. Trying to do my part. Guess that is why I am an outcast in lodge and considered to aggressive. I like the blog site as well.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2011
  3. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member

    5,678
    986
    113
    As always, excellent post Bro. Porter! Promoted to front page.
     
  4. Benton

    Benton Premium Member

    641
    10
    38
    It's ok to be an outcast if its for the right reasons.
     
  5. Beathard

    Beathard Premium Member

    1,627
    18
    0
    So mote it be.
     
  6. Reading Lodge

    Reading Lodge Registered User

    1
    0
    0
    While I agree with your post, there being no other association I have where, regardless of your ability to lead, you are promoted to a position of leadership. I have witnessed times where a Mason has never lead anything before, yet he is handed a Lodge to run.

    But, I ask two things..... Do you believe there should not be a reward when a man devotes his time and makes a seven + year commitment ( Jr Steward to Master ) to the Craft? I also ask what the alternative is? In a time where we already are 'recycling' Masters and seeing the same volunteers getting burned out. You are suggesting to not progress a weak leader ( which is always a good concept ). But if you have the support staff to surround him, you can still let a man complete what could be one of the most significant journeys of his life.

    Please don't get me wrong. You bring up a valuable point, but I believe the burden falls on the Past Masters and Leaders of the Lodge to guide and build a future Master away from what you describe as lacking. Isn't that what Masonry is all about? Making good men better.
     
  7. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

    391
    30
    0
    No, Brother I don't think so. I think that "hanging in there" isn't enough. I think we should thoughtfully appointment men to the line and unappointment them based on strengths and weaknesses.

    Keep officers where they are at for awhile if they do a good job. RWB Karl, the man who was Master of my lodge prior to me, was in the chair for three years. I have been in the chair for two.

    Also, stop looking at men serving multiple terms or staying in the line as a weakness. Keep men in for a few years and the competitive nature of good men takes over and they work to be recognized as a person deserving of a chance in line...instead of the guy who is left to serve.

    I think we have to change the paradigm completely.
     
  8. Beathard

    Beathard Premium Member

    1,627
    18
    0
    The problem with keeping men in the same position for several years is the fact the some lodges have a lot of young men capable and sometimes more capable that cannot break through the fence created by the older guys. I believe that NO PM should be master of the lodge when another nonPM that is qualified is waiting. The key here is qualified. A lot of the PMs are not qualified.
     
  9. Parafaxitas

    Parafaxitas Registered User

    5
    0
    0
    What is this about harmony to detriment, and why shouldnt we be tolerant of people? You speak as if those are bad things. Everything is in harmony brother, we just cant always see that. It's hard to recognize that especially when things dont happen the way we want them to. Dont get me wrong, I'm not defending blind progressive lines. I certaily agree that the model most lodges use, the model you are speaking against, is a bit silly. I'm sure we can come up with better alternatives.

    Yet we must not be too quick to throw the baby out with the bath water. One thing the progressive line does is create at least some sort of stand against the tyranny of someone taking over a lodge and being the master for the rest of his life. Granted, that's an extreme, but my experience say the 'corpus ignoramus' loves to push those extremes. That's how we got the blind progressive lines. In fact, I think it's better for a lodge to continue to suffer the weakness of unchecked progressive lines than to fall under the long term control of a dictator.Yes, they must be voted in, but it wouldnt be too hard to get together 5 or 10 of my friends to come vote me in while I bully and drive away anyone who doesnt agree with me.

    Perhaps individual lodges should clearly define the job of the officers and hold those officers to those responsibilities before progressing. I think that we should not be afraid of hurt feelings when they do not stand up to the clearly defined responsibilities that they agreed to. I think everyone could agree that doing your job is a requirement for promotion.

    Demanding that sort of responsibility isn't really being intolerant, and harmony will prevail because the people hold their leaders to the standards required to drive out nepotism. If the lodge does not demand their leaders to do their job then the lodge will fail to stand up to what masonry can offer. Likewise, if they allow someone to get in the east and stay there for too long, that lodge will suffer.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2011
  10. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

    4,311
    1,104
    183
    From the preface of our Lodge manual:

    "Secondly, remember that advancement in the Lodge is not automatic. The Brethren will be watching how you perform the duties which you are currently assigned and will decide whether or not you are worthy to be assigned additional responsibilities. Nobody in the Lodge wants you to fail- we are all willing to help you to be successful in your advancement. The Lodge cannot succeed unless all of the officers succeed.

    Thirdly, remember that, as you are performing the duties you are currently assigned, you are to be learning the duties of the officer next-in-line. If you advance, you must be prepared to immediately perform those new duties. If you are not properly prepared, the Lodge will suffer.

    Most importantly, remember that the Lodge always takes precedence over any one individual- if one fails, we all fail."
     
  11. Beathard

    Beathard Premium Member

    1,627
    18
    0
    Bill, I wish you were one of the old fogies in my lodge. You are too good!
     
  12. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

    4,311
    1,104
    183
    Momma always said "Be careful what you wish for- you just might get it! :wink:
     
  13. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

    391
    30
    0
    Prax I am not certain you read my post.

    I think it is a bit of read hearing to go from serving more than one term as Master to "dictator."

    There is still an election every year. Why is voting a unqualified man in because the custom is to remove the qualified man better?

    I think we will need to disagree.

    I have been a member of an unsuccessful lodge and I have been a member of one that works.

    You are looking at it from a perspective grounded in person experience...historically the progressive line was not the standard and multiple years for a master in lodges that strictly watched their numbers was normal. Throughout Europe men "run" for Master or make it known they would like to be considered for the vote and there might be three or four men running.

    Your arguments are respected by me as well stated, but I find the wrought with logical fallacies to include red herring and slippery slope. I also believe that you to look at something from a truly new perspective we must do so from a new position...in other words, try not applying the idea of merit based line from the idea that merit is the inherent system.

    Progression is efficient...but it is easily provable as detrimental.
     
  14. dwntwnsb

    dwntwnsb Registered User

    7
    0
    1
    Very well said!
     
  15. Parafaxitas

    Parafaxitas Registered User

    5
    0
    0
    Brother C,

    Regarding logical fallacies, you are mistaken. I did state an extreme case, but it was not a slippery slope since I did allow for a middle ground. In fact, I even suggested a middle way. There is a problem with extremes in general. Any organization, including masonry suffers from groupthink which often runs to extremes. Therefore, I suggested that your proposal, when abused, is much more damaging to the fraternity than the progressive line.

    We have to be careful not to exchange one system that's not working for another one that eventually wont work either. It is foolish to treat the symptoms instead of the disease. I would be more than happy to critically look at alternatives, but simply accepting any alternative without being critical of it is often worse than the way things are.

    But I have a further, deeper concern, and perhaps this is where you saw the red herring. You suggest that tolerance is bad, and I think that's a very dangerous position to take. In fact, I think it's at odds with the teachings of the Master's degree in specific. Tolerance does not imply weakness.

    This, however, is no red herring because I am calling into question one of the premises you presented for your argument. To debate a topic, it is important to debate the premises in which it stands. And as you are the one who made the proposition that tolerance is somehow a bad thing and that we should not seek "harmony to detriment", the burden of proof lies upon you when someone calls it into question. Otherwise, from a logical standpoint, your argument looses its footing.

    Here's an example of a red herring. I suggested an alternative to you in my first post. Your response was to accuse me of logical fallacies, instead of dealing with the issue head on. that is a diversion of attention from the real topic in order to discredit me. It is also an appeal to ridicule.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2011
  16. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

    1,145
    615
    113
    Lots of great ideas here. I've seen it several times where people seem to feel entitled to progress simply because they filled a position for a year.

    Bro. Bill hit the nail on the head. It may hurt some people's feelings but not everyone is a born leader and not everyone is WM, SW, or even JW material. We have progression for a reason, it gives members time to learn and grow so that, ideally, they'll be ready to take on the responsibilities of the next chair, that isn't the case always however.

    Some lodges can't really afford to have a 'bad year' just because someone that wasn't ready moved to the East.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2011
  17. jwhoff

    jwhoff Premium Member

    2,591
    142
    83
    Agreed. The line of progression is best served by trial and preparation. Honing the ashlar for greater service. For that noble contention of who can best serve and best agree.

    Sadly, the final lesson, that of obtaining and freely releasing control is all too often lost by the intoxication of power.

    Should not any man given the reigns be preparing himself to give up control as the next step in his growth as a mason?

    If you find yourself accepting accolades instead of preparing others to step up have YOU not missed the boat?

    sorry brethren, again I drift.
     
  18. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

    4,311
    1,104
    183
    Agreed. As the junior officers are to prepare themselves for greater responsibility, it is part of the job for the senior officers to teach them. It also seems very difficult for some of those, once having been to the East, to resume taking a seat among the Brethren.
     
  19. jwhoff

    jwhoff Premium Member

    2,591
    142
    83
    Yes, most assuredly the greatest challenge of them all. Those who do achieve the highest respect and love among their brethren. And, they truly deserve it.
     
  20. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

    4,311
    1,104
    183
    They would be those who abide by the following, also from our Lodge manual:

    "A few words of advice: first, understand that your job is to serve the Lodge, not rule it."

    Those who serve the Lodge, rather than themselves, to me typify what Masonry is supposed to be about.
     

Share My Freemasonry