What would you like to see changed in the Masonic experience?

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by cemab4y, Dec 11, 2010.

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  1. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    Has Masonry sunk to such a low level, that we must rely on the financial support of inactive members, just to keep the doors open?
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    Brother, it was designed this way in the USA... the (extremely reduced) dues, low degrees costs, bank deposit interest and random donations are what keeps the doors open. So, your assessment of it sinking is incorrect since it has been this way in the USA on purpose and it has done things this way for a very long time.

    ----I do not think I am getting you right. (this does not mean you are wrong, just that I am connecting). Do you really believe that Freemasonry/Masonry in the USA was designed to be financially supported by "(extremely reduced) dues, low degrees costs, bank deposit interest and random donations(sic)"?

    And I used the past tense "sunk" not the participle "sinking".

    And do you really suggest that Freemasonry in he USA was designed on purpose, to be financially supported in the manner you suggest?

    My home lodge is supported by dues (some of course from inactive members), and fund raisers. I may be totally wrong, but I just do not believe that Bowling Green lodge was set up to supported by "(extremely reduced) dues, low degrees costs, bank deposit interest and random donations(sic)".

    OF COURSE, I have no hard data, and I do not have access to the articles of incorporation of my lodge. (I am in Kuwait). So don't ask.

     
  2. pointwithinacircle2

    pointwithinacircle2 Rapscallion Premium Member

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    This sounds like the normal financial strategy of a national charity. The question is: Is that what we are?
     
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  3. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    Yes. And by random donations, I include the "fundraisers" that you mentioned. And bank deposit interest includes anything that provides interest income stream from funds already gathered and invested to create those streams.

    Yup. I was allowing for additional movement in your hyperbole.

    Once again, yes.
    There ya go! Bingo!
    Yet, you just confirmed that it is.

    Just follow the money. You'll see that what pays the bills are just what I stated. A Lodge that might have $30K in expenses, 150 members (of which maybe 30 are active) would have dues of $200 each, if that lodge didn't rely upon degree money, investment interest, and random donations (fundraisers included).

    If that Lodge got rid of its inactive dues contributors, that would raise its membership dues to $1000 each, if no other income streams were tapped.

    Inactive members provide what is called "residual" income streams for Lodges. USA Lodges for the most part rely heavily upon them to keep the doors open.
     
  4. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    According to the FL Digest it, Freemasonry as it is practiced in FL, is a charitable organization. That and a religious organization and an educational organization. Other jurisdictions may differ.
     
  5. pointwithinacircle2

    pointwithinacircle2 Rapscallion Premium Member

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    I'm looking at my dues statement as I write this. $78.50 in dues, $52.50 of which goes to Grand Lodge. That's $26 a year that goes to my home Lodge. If that ain't artificially low then I need to start complaining about the quality of the food!
     
  6. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    Yup. I factored in the per capita in the $30K figure. And that $30K figure is very low compared to the expenses of many lodges.
     
  7. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    On US Masonry having sunk to the level that it needs to dues of inactive members to function -

    I disagree that this equals sinking. For as far back as we have records officers have lamented the low turnout of members. I think using inactive members as cash cows is a realistic reaction to the actual situation. We're supposed to drop the superfluous, right? I suggest that inactive members are not superfluous for that exact reason. What is superfluous is resistance to this reality. It's real so use it as such.

    On US Masonry being designed to depend on low dues, low degree fees, donations and fund raisers -

    Some use the word "designed" as a shorthand for "evolved". Others use the word "designed" to imply a deliberate intent that was planned out in advance. What actually happened is dues and degree fees were high in an era when the currency was in gold. The gold was pulled from circulation triggering inflation and the Depression hit keeping many form being able to afford the high dues. In a time with many petitioners dues were not adjusted for inflation to deal with the social trends of the time. Over a period of decades the funding sources had to transition or lodges had to fail. Very many lodges did in fact fail during the Depression. I don't see how this could have been intended and it certainly was not widely discussed in the books of the time. Not even the transition from small lodges to large lodges that was required by the change appears in books of the era. To me calling the change "designed" is definitely a shorthand for "evolved".

    Many lodges are now dependent on fund raisers. As fund raisers increase the activity of the members I consider this trend to be a good thing. As long as we don't go the route of the Girl Scouts, start selling a product and end up subject to anti-discrimination laws because we allowed ourselves to become a business enterprise.
     
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  8. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    Brother Doug: Yes, it has "evolved" to be this way and in each stage of that evolution there were deliberate decisions that were made by members in an effort to keep Lodges open. And that is what I was making effort to communicate. The USA Lodge funding systems in place now are designed to keep lodges operating.
     
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  9. RyanC

    RyanC Registered User

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    Coach as you put it lodges needs to make dues high enough to pay for the lodges, if your dues are lower than lodge expanses you are doomed to fail.
     
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  10. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    Yup OR destined to rely, yea "depend", upon inactive memberships paying the way, along with the aforementioned revenue sources.

    The problem members don't realize is that the USA Lodge revenue model as a whole does not provide for anything that generates revenue as a direct result of the product its members produce, other than producing ritualistic plays for paying patrons who wish to join or experience more of the same. As a result, members pay to belong to this theatrical system and to keep the doors open because as a business it produces nothing of value to potential outside patrons, like the Stonecraft Lodges of yesteryear that each is "supposed" to be modeled after.

    But if any member realizes the truth, he realizes all too late that modern Freemasonic Lodges are NOT modeled after the Stonecraft Lodges. They are modeled after something utterly different and hence the revenue structure it has today. This also speaks to the problem of retaining members, which, if you think about it, for an organization that espouses truth, it has not come clean as to what it truly offers to its members.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2015
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  11. LAMason

    LAMason Premium Member

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    So true, if a man joins a Lodge thinking he is going to learn some secrets of alchemy, Kabbalah, the occult, or such is going to be disappointed and most likely will drop out.

    Also, why is it necessary to fictionalize the history of Freemasonry by claiming lineage to Egypt, the Knights Templars, and the Illuminati. But this tradition of making unfounded claims goes all the way back to James Anderson's history in the Constitutions he authored, so how do we proceed to clean it up?
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2015
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  12. pointwithinacircle2

    pointwithinacircle2 Rapscallion Premium Member

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    My Lodge has improved to the point where only 85% of the members are inactive. About 50% of the inactives are life members, so they pay no dues. The lodge however is still obligated to pay their per capita. This means that half of our inactive members have absolutely no interaction with the Lodge whatsoever, except that they cost the Lodge money. Dues currently contribute 60% of the operating expenses of the Lodge. If I wrote this up as a business plan do you think the bank would give us a loan?
     
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  13. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    The clean up is occurring with some pretty good masonic forensics being done by a hand full of authors. Unfortunately, not one GL shall support the findings because it ruins the fantasy being currently sold to current and future members up and down every leg of the organization.
     
  14. pointwithinacircle2

    pointwithinacircle2 Rapscallion Premium Member

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    Two things come rapidly to mind as I read this post. The first is a personal story. In the mid 70's I studied karate for a couple years. Along with the physical discipline we learned the history of our particular branch of the martial arts. Twenty five years later I had the opportunity to study that particular martial art again. The physical art was exactly the same, but the history they were teaching was completely different. Even the names of the katas had been changed. The reason was that China had opened up to the U.S. and scholars had discovered more correct information about the history of the art. My point here is that the history we have today is more accurate than the history that was written at the time.

    The second thing that comes to mind is that I never believed that Freemasonry could claim lineage to Egypt, the Knights Templars, and the Illuminati. What I do believe is that Freemasonry seeks to preserve the "intellectual lineage" (that's the best phrase I could come up with) of accurate thinking and understanding. It does this through an initiatory form of experiential learning. (again, that's the best phrase I could come up with) It is this intellectual inheritance that I find fascinating in Freemasonry. It guides me toward better and more enlightened thinking.

    I believe that there have always been those who elevated their thinking above that of the masses. I believe that these people have always sought each other out. I believe that this is the intellectual inheritance of Freemasonry.

    Disclaimer: No part of this post is based on verifiable facts or reliable information. (other than the karate stuff, which I experienced) It is based mostly on how I feel and how things seem to me. Any resemblance to actual reality is completely coincidental. :)
     
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  15. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    Whoa, careful now! Some people will wring their hands and call you an elitist for thinking like that.
     
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  16. pointwithinacircle2

    pointwithinacircle2 Rapscallion Premium Member

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    :) I should be OK as long as they don't figure out that I am also subversive. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2015
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  17. Glen Cook

    Glen Cook G A Cook Site Benefactor

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    Well, that's a a bit harsh. You'd be surprised at how well the smallest GL in the continental U.S. can adapt.
     
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  18. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    I look forward to the day when that surprise shall occur and I shall welcome it with open arms.
     
  19. LAMason

    LAMason Premium Member

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    So why is Freemasonry's “target market” the masses? If as CoachN said this system/strategy was designed or has evolved in response to Freemasonry’s financial model, why is it continuing to be followed. It is obviously failing due to shifts in culture and demography.

    Should Freemasonry continue to be “marketed” to “big box store” discount price average quality product customers (“the masses”), begin marketing to “boutique store” high price superior quality product customers (“those who elevate their thinking above the masses”), or some other strategy?

    ***DISCLAIMER***I am not proposing a particular change. In fact, I had never thought about it in these terms until I read CoachN’s posts, but they got my “little grey cells" to working.***
     
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  20. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    ... my work... it is done... ;-)
     
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