The Rough Ashlar

Thoughts from a Traveling Man

The Rough Ashlar - Thoughts from a Traveling Man

When to Join an Appendant Body




I am a big fan of the appendant and concordant bodies, as you can tell if you have been reading along thus far. However, they are not for everyone and often not appropriate for the new members. Too often the night a brother becomes a Master Mason he is encouraged to join an appendant organization. Somebody approaches him with a petition with the promise of even more light as a Mason, and the new brother signs up. in my opinion, this is bad for all three parties – the new brother, the symbolic lodge, and the appendant body.

The brother loses because now he has another organization to compete for his time, as well as another to pay dues to. He is inexperienced as a craftsman and thus does not yet have a clear idea what Masonry is about. the best place for him is his lodge, not another organization.

The symbolic lodge loses because it has just spent its valuable resources bringing a brother to the highest degree and is now at risk of losing his attention, even if it gets his dues. Dues are important but more important is a brother's involvement. Without the brothers' involvement, even if that means just attending meetings, the lodge will wither and die.

The appendant bodies lose because they are recruiting someone who is inexperienced and perhaps does not know what groups he will want to join. This can be a great way to boost membership rolls but is not a great way to get brothers who will be lifelong members.

When I joined my lodge, my brother, who is a Mason in North Carolina, advised me to not join any appendant body until I had been going to regular meetings for at least one year. It was great advice. Having a good foundation of how a lodge works and what it means to be a Mason is crucial in deciding what one's Masonic future might be. In other words, before you can build the temple, you first need a solid foundation.

I remember a few guys who joined my lodge around the time I did wanted to join the Scottish Rite together. They were more interested in the outward appearance of the organization, though, rather than through any investigation of its substance. One of the guys said a few times, "You get a ring when you join."

Great, I thought. I can buy a ring on my own, and likely for less money. What more do I get for my dues and initiation fee? I did not feel the need to join something whose main draw was a ring and a funny hat. I mean no disrespect here. They are funny hats if you know nothing about the order. What I wanted was something meaningful, not a ring and a hat. Unfortunately, none of my cohort at the time could tell me more about it, so I did not join for a few years.

The bottom line is that if you want to be able to find meaning in Masonry, your best bet is to wait a while and learn more about what you joined before taking the next step and seeking out another organization to write a check to.

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