"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Friday, August 30, 2019

GM Edict Bans 'Exterior' Slovenliness: 'Interior' Masons Go Berserk


The comedian Jerry Seinfeld was once asked by a reporter why he wears a suit onstage every time he performs, since the whole world has decided that dressing down is the normal way to live these days. "It's a signal," he replied. "I'm not loafing up here."

I posted what became a notorious picture on this blog about six or seven years back. In it, a handful of brand new Master Masons were posing for a group photo after having all been raised to the Sublime Degree on the same day. A Grand Master from another state sent it to me to express his dismay over the lack of any sense of decorum in the unnamed lodge. All of the new Brethren were dressed in rumpled or torn tee shirts with a variety of logos and sayings on them. Some wore jeans, but others had baggy cargo shorts and sandals, while one prominent Brother in the front row sported ripped up pants with both knees torn apart. Aside from wearing white aprons, they might have been inducted into a local motorcycle club or posing for a group photo before getting to work laying floor tile. They certainly didn't look like anything special had gone on that day.

By the time the photo was sent to me, it had been fashioned into an early Internet meme style called a "de-motivator," which was a parody of the brief fad of motivational posters at the time. The headline read, "Standards. It's nice being reminded that you still have them." The goal was not to shame the new Brethren in the photo who had obviously just taken their degrees. It was really to call into question just what kind of standards the more seasoned members of their lodge were teaching them and to express a desire for higher expectations. That's what a mentor is partially supposed to be teaching new members - to remind new Masons who don't know any better that yes, we do indeed have standards in this fraternity. We're not loafing in here.

I blocked out the lads' faces, thinking I was being appropriately circumspect, while still making the point. And I can honestly say that less than 24 hours after I hit the send key, all hell broke loose.

The two angry groups of commentators immediately divided into their separate camps: those horrified over their slovenly appearance at such a solemn, once-in-a-lifetime event, versus those horrified that any Mason could under any circumstances possibly object to the way any other Mason would dress. The battle was waged with the sort of religious vehemence usually found only in Middle Eastern geopolitics or NFL playoffs. The aged canard was fully stuffed, inflated and flapped about like a sputtering zeppelin: "It is the INTERNAL, not the EXTERNAL qualifications that Masonry regards!" That wretched misapplication of a perfectly fine philosophical lesson got belabored, flogged, and dragged across the aether so many times that I was convinced hundreds of angry Masons had a speed key set to punch out the phrase with a single keystroke. Right next to the 'Fixed income!' key.

After three days, a member of the unidentified lodge in the photo contacted me and was dutifully apoplectic. That photo had pierced these new Brothers straight through the heart, he said. At least they had showed up, he said. And now they'd probably never be seen again, thanks to my cruel and un-Masonic post, he said. I should be ashamed of myself, he said. Someone should have me up on charges, he said. Plus, I didn't have anyone's permission to post the photo, so I was violating copyright laws, a Constitutional Amendment or three, and probably International Maritime Law. He said. 

Finally, like the compassionately craven milksop I was at the time, I licked my surgical scars and removed the post.

I was admittedly biased against slovenly appearance in lodge myself. I recalled in my first go round as a Master of a lodge we were called to perform a funeral service for a fallen Brother and pay our final respects to his family and friends. All of my officers and regular attendees arrived at the funeral home appropriately dressed in black or dark suits and ties, without being asked. But at the last minute, in loped a member none of us had ever seen or met before (or since), gave a grudging nod to the rest of us, and signed in to the minute book. He was dressed in sweat-stained yellow golf shirt and cargo shorts, a Nike swoosh cap, and his sock-less feet sported a ragged pair of Sperry topsiders. It appeared as though we had interrupted a hot afternoon of polishing his boat. I thanked him for coming, but told him he wasn't properly clothed for a Masonic funeral service. He immediately lunged for a white apron, but I told him that wasn't what I meant. His angry parting shot as he stormed out of the room was, "At least I showed up."

Well, just like everything else in life, there's more to Masonry than merely showing up. If there isn't, we're doing it wrong.

Grand Master Michael H. Wilson
Now it seems that someone else - no less than a grand master - has also lamented the plunging level of standards of decorum in Masonic lodges in his own jurisdiction, and he's decided to do something drastic about it. MW Michael H. Wilson, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Georgia F&AM, has just issued an edict, and it's a beaut. In it, he says that Brethren have been attending meetings, degrees and events "wearing attire much too informal to maintain the decorum of a Masonic Lodge." 





Click image to enlarge

His order is scarcely draconian or out of the realm of practicality. It's not some outlandish demand for sartorial extravagance. It's not even what any rational human being with any common sense (or standard upbringing in any other decade) would regard as remotely "snooty." Per his edict, henceforth all Georgia Masons of any degree are expected to be "properly attired" at all meetings and events, including cornerstone ceremonies and funerals. And then he lays out exactly what he means: No shorts, no un-collared shirts (i.e. tee shirts or sleeveless 'wife-beater' undershirts), no exercise clothes, open-toed shoes, sandals, or flip-flops (unless necessary for medical reasons). And don't even think of putting on an apron or an officer's collar if you show up that way.

What's astonishing is that this had to appear in print.

Here's what the edict DOESN'T demand. GM Wilson doesn't say Masons can't show up at lodge in jeans, or even overalls, in collared golf-shirts, or wearing a medically required piece of clothing. He doesn't say anywhere that Masons must wear a jacket, tie, and buttoned-down shirt. You'd never know it from the splenetic reactions online, but he also doesn't demand that they wear gloves, an Armani suit, a tailored tuxedo, a hand-tied bow tie, an English morning suit with striped pants and tails, Gucci alligator wingtips, spats, or anything else even remotely "formal." He leaves that entirely to the discretion of each Master over his own lodge and the taste and desires of the members. But he DOES demand that Masons come to lodge and events looking better than a day of spraying Roundup on the kudzu or skimming the leaves out of the pool.

It's interesting to note this development because it's related in a way to Nebraska raising its proficiency standards earlier this year. Dwight L. Smith wrote back in the early 1960s that he feared that the "era of the common man" in Freemasonry may have become too common. After almost 60 years of what really has been the "common era," perhaps some of our leaders are finally agreeing with Dwight after all.

So naturally the online shriekists are already blanketing Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and everywhere else electronic Masons lurk. According to the loudest howlers, Grand Master Wright is being elitist, dontcha know. I'm considering putting that 'controversial' lodge photo back up again. And the first joker who burbles out and misconstrues that "INTERNAL not EXTERNAL!" twaddle again will get a face full of overcooked green beans. Because it's bollocks.

If you travel outside of the U.S., or even just spend a little time looking at online photos of Masons in other countries, you'll quickly discover that Americans are just about the only Freemasons in the world who don't generally demand a dress code in lodge. Some are stricter than others, but it is only the U.S. and perhaps some Canadians who don't uniformly expect their Masons to show enough respect for each other and the higher standards of the institution to show up appropriately dressed for an important occasion. There's a whole raft of reasons why that has been so for three centuries just about everywhere but here. The most basic reason is exactly opposite what you might think it is. And it's not empty high-falootinism.

English Masons have had standards of dress all along.
Masons in the United Grand Lodge of England are required to wear a black suit or black jacket with grey trousers, a white shirt, and either a black or an officially approved Grand Lodge tie. In the U.S., most Prince Hall lodges demand the same sort of uniform look. Both do it for the same reason, and elitism has nothing to do with it. If twenty Masons show up dressed exactly alike, there's no outward way to determine whether the Mason next to you is a bank president, a surgeon, a lawyer, a transcendental odontologist, an expressway toll booth attendant, or a garbage collector. Some jurisdictions also require identical white gloves to hide the hands of everyone so you can't tell at a glance who's a rugged steelworker, a plump-fisted tax accountant, or a dilettante who never hit a lick in his entire pampered lifetime. Every last bit of it comes down to making sure that all Masons meet on the same level in the lodge. Uniformity of dress in lodge is done for the very same reason Catholic grade schools have demanded it for centuries. It actually STOPS the unintended envy of the well to do or scorn of the less advantaged. And in an age when you can pick up a suit at Kohl's for $69 or order a tuxedo online for $79 versus paying half that for a new pair of jeans and twice that for a new pair of cross-trainer shoes, the old caterwaul about extravagance just doesn't carry much weight anymore.

No, everybody doesn't have to look like Oklahoma's Lodge Veritas 556.
But more Masons around the world do than those who don't.
Lots of the bellyachers are comparing lodge to their very informal churches. Even if your church welcomes everyone on a come-as-you-are basis because God doesn't care how you look when you pester him over your lost car keys, that sentiment doesn't apply in a Masonic lodge. We're not God, we're men. And our stated purpose for being in lodge is to be BETTER men. And you don't become a BETTER man unless you have a certain level of expectation to live up to that's higher than what you're finding outside the lodge room doors. The lodge room itself is supposed to be a sanctuary from the outside world, and we do things differently in there on purpose. A BETTER man is a whole package - honor, behavior, manners, civility, deportment, language, temperament, and - yes - appearance. Because, while Masonry regards what's in a man's heart as far more important than how he looks, the rest of the world doesn't spin that way. The rest of the world cares very much how you look, and judges you accordingly - just as the world judges the craftsmanship of an operative Mason by the finished quality and appearance of his work. So there's no place better to start picking up better habits than right in lodge. Masonry is supposed to influence society by example, not be dragged down by ever-lowering societal expectations.

Unlike operative Brethren, we don't carve ashlars or statues. We chip away at our own personal ashlar and endeavor to achieve perfection in all ways. If we never achieve it, it's still a standard to reach for, and it's a higher standard than the run of the mill profane members of society live up or down to. We're supposed to be the whole package. If you look like an uncaring slob, that's an image you'll have to overcome in the eyes of most people. And if you're wearing a hat with a square and compass on it, do you really want to be seen in public wearing a tee shirt that says, "I really don't give a f—!" as I saw last month in a Hardees? Really?

There has always been an added side effect of uniformity and formality of dress that Masons have enjoyed when we are seen clustered together in a large clot out in public. It still happens today. When crowds of people are in a restaurant enjoying their dinner and in walk 25 Masons all dressed in black suits or tuxes who stroll through and close themselves up in the back room for their festive board, heads turn, people look, and they ask the waiters, "Who are those guys?"

"It's the Freemasons," comes the answer. And you can tell just by looking at us, we're not loafing in there.

36 comments:

  1. And with your dark suit, white dress shirt, lodge tie, white gloves, and shined oxfords, don't forget a briar pipe with latakia-heavy pipe mixture!

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    1. Briar or meerschaum, yes. But you can save your toxic waste monkey-poop laden Latakia for the great outdoors, far from the women, the children and the livestock.

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  2. While there are certain types of attire that absolutely have no place in Lodge, such as anything you might see in a gym setting, I can't say I'm thrilled when I see efforts to enforce conformity in an organization that's supposed to be limitless in it's universality. I think we look at this issue from the backside of the telescope. Maybe the issue isn't that folks are being lazy and dressing down for something of great importance, but rather Masonry isn't producing scenerios worthy of nice dress? Addressing the young Brothers seen dressed down in the picture after their MM....maybe the Master had to be told every other word the Degree? Maybe the Brethren on the sidelines were loudly talking about the meal to be served later while others laughed through the whole thing like it was silly. We have all seen these things happen in our Lodges and maybe these newly made MMs were perfectly dressed for the unprofessional environment they were in? If something is worthy of respect, it will get it. If not, put on your most comfortable pair of shorts and enjoy the show.

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    1. "I can't say I'm thrilled when I see efforts to enforce conformity in an organization that's supposed to be limitless in it's universality"

      No one ever said we are to be "limitless in universality", and Masonry is predicated on conformity.

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  3. In the Caribbean, South America and Europe this dress code is normal. When we get US Freemasons as visitors to the Caribbean we have a hard time explaining that suit and tie is our dress code. No suit and tie - no admittance. This is a step in the right direction.

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  4. Well said. I wholeheartedly agree.

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  5. As an aside: I thought we agreed - at 33st Illuminati Sartorial Extravaganza that we weren't ready to reveal transcendental ontology to the world? Did I not get the psychic memo?

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    1. Heh. Where have you been, good sir? Missed you at the 33st meeting. Keynote was "Practical Application of Transcendental Transvectional Direct-Dialing Odontology For the Enlightened - A Primer." I was brilliant, I might add.

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  6. Maybe it is not an elitist thing but an age and location thing? I do not have enough time to change out of my work attire before Lodge; ties look lousy with Carhartt work shirts, and as a site manager I banned my employees (including myself) from wearing neckties for safety reasons. The brothers at my rural lodge who do not wear suit and tie are those who are also showing up right after leaving work. The brothers who do wear ties are typically retired. From visiting other rural lodges, it seems that the most formal wear involved tends to be polo or dress shirts with square and compass and the lodge's name.

    Plus, I can see the appeal of not wearing multiple layers of shirts and jackets and ties and all of that stuff when going through degree work.

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    1. I also work in the trades, on lodge night I endeavour to get home a little early so I can shower and change. Honestly, it is kind of nice to have a reason to wear something other than attic crawling gear. As I was saying to another Brother, on the topic, if someone joins the Craft they know about the dress code; if they don't like it, they can hang out with their buddies in the back alley sipping beer and saying "yup" to their hearts content. The bigger question is, why would they join if they knew about the dress code and did not like it?

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  7. When I belonged to a Lodge in NJ, there was a dress code. Officers were in suits except for most degrees in tuxedos.
    I got to Oklahoma and the first meeting I was the best dressed! At an installation, only the master had a suit on, one of installing officers wore sandals, old jeans and t-shirt.
    Shame.

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  8. Many clubs require ties and jackets, and surely Masonry is just as deserving of respect. If this is actually such a big practical problem, which I doubt, there are practical solutions such as opening lodge later.

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    1. Actually, it is something of a practical problem. Walmart does not sell suits, so for rural lodges that means driving an hour or more each way and spending a non-insignificant amount of money even for a cheap off-the-rack suit from JC Penneys. For example, there is one formal wear place in Tucumcari. So if they didn't have a particular size, or if a person had a gripe with the store owner, that person would have to drive two hours to Las Vegas, or drive down to Clovis (although I do not think there are any places there that sell suits), or drive a few hours into Texas to find a suit. Or buy online and hope that it fits.

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    2. Are you seriously going to hold that out as a real consideration? Seriously? "It's a long drive to the Wal-Mart, and they don't sell Froot Of The Loom suits?" Moreover, you're trying to apply a pretty isolated (in the great scheme of the Masonic universe) situation to the fraternity as a big generalized whole.

      But if you're really going to go there, I suspect Tucumcari has a Goodwill store, where they have a constantly rotating stack of $10 suits. And I have bought my last five tuxedos and formal wear outfits via Uniformalwear online with absolutely no sizing issues ever. Over the last decade I went from 310lbs down to 155, so I've had fluctuation issues. Along wit the fact that if I wear an outfit more than twice, I'd rather own it than rent it and overpay to have nothing in the end. Just depends on the events you foresee attending in future.

      Be happy you aren't in Pennsylvania where ALL lodge officers are required to wear tuxedos, no exceptions.

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  9. Some of us who are bona fide motorcycle outlaws take umbrage with the slovenly stereotype lol. But putting other brothers and mothers aside, I could not agree more regarding dress. At some distant point in the future clever sociologists and historians will regard the loosening of dress codes and societal norms as the harbinger of decadence and overall flippancy that it is.

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    1. I am reminded of a great line from the Youtube series, "Ask a Slave", featuring real (and terrible) questions that people asked a living history employee at Mount Vernon. At one point, she scoffed at the "overdressed and underbathed white people", in contrast to her less formal clothing as a house slave. Quite frankly, I am glad that clothing has become more informal over the centuries. Fashionability goes out the window when I think about what the clothing really means. I turn into a bag of sweat when I wear a sports coat or blazer, combined with a dress shirt and tie. 100 years ago, people were polite enough not to mention the horrific stenches that emanated from others, and people would try to cover body odors with drenching applications of perfumes/colognes and heavy cigar smoke. But at the same time, it was considered rude to not wear a coat when out in public, and showing suspenders/braces was considered obscene. Waist coats were very popular, and wealthier people had a variety of indoor coats to wear, because just walking around in a shirt was considered a rude, low-class thing. Think about yourself when you are wearing anything more than a shirt. Unless it is cold out, you can't wear a shirt and a vest and a coat without sweating. And then you start to stink because sweat on certain parts of the body has an odor.

      Even better, think about Civil War reenactments and living history camps. The participants always shower and shave and use toothbrush and deodorant beforehand, and afterwards they immediately have to take a shower when they get home if their family will let them through the front door. In 1861 of course, soldiers bathed once a week if they were lucky, and wore wool coats and wool/cotton blend shirts and cotton undershirts and wool pants and cotton drawers and wool socks. Imagine the foulest-smelling homeless person you encountered, and make 20,000+ clones of that person, to form an infantry corps. Modern thin artificial fibers and modern hygiene products make society livable, especially when people dress sensibly.

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  10. I agree, in 35 years of Freemasonry I have witnessed the dress for lodge deteriorate. I had to send a brother home when he came to lodge to receive his 3rd degree in shorts and flip flops. "Sunday best" shows respect to our gentle craft. Internal not external is a tired excuse, well worn and long overused. Show respect for the organization, the members and our history. Dress appropriately.

    Joel D Ratliff Sr

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  11. Freemasonry is an elite organization. Complaining that an edict from the Grand Master is 'elitist' misunderstands the elite nature of the Fraternity.

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  12. Wait, I just read the article a little more closely. So the same Grand Lodge that refuses to recognize Prince Hall Masonry and at the same time cracks down on any Lodges that bring in black brothers. And now that Grand Lodge is requiring brothers to wear expensive clothing in Lodge. I wonder if it is just pure coincidence that it is the same state that 60 years ago had literacy tests and poll taxes for voting, to ensure that the right sort of people vote *nudge nudge wink wink*.

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    1. Not sure how you could "read the article a little more closely" and walk away saying the edict requires "expensive clothing." It does not. It bans shorts, tee shirts, sandals and flip flops. Period.

      The Prince Hall issue in Georgia is far more complex than a drive-by comment can address. But a grand lodge can and does walk and chew gum at the same time. PHA recognition has been fought over without resolution on either side in that state for 30 years. It has lots of conflicting and moving parts to it. Failure to solve it satisfactorily does not hamstring their GM from doing anything else.

      The attire question, on the other hand, can be handled with a simple letter or edict.

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    2. And no, there is no *nudge nudge wink wink* going on with this issue. At all.

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  13. The "Unknown" brother who commented at 4:44pm on the 30th, got it exactly right. One quote: "maybe Masonry isn't producing scenarios worthy of nice dress?"
    Brothers when we preform degrees for new brothers, it WE don't take it seriously, why should we expect the new brothers to???

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  14. There is nothing wrong in showing respect for one's lodge by dressing at least in business casual. Heck, in our lodge our officers dress in tuxedos - and it feels good to do so! It shows respect for the Lodge, for the Brethren and for the Great Architect of the Universe who guides us all.

    Showing up, just to show up, is a slap in the face to those of us who aspire to something higher in our lives.

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  15. In the quite literally REAMS of responses on Facebook and elsewhere to this tory, there appear numerous angry messages that say variations of this: "I showed up for the meetings, and if my lodge brothers don't like me dressed in shorts and shower shoes, that's too bad. I'll stay home."

    You see it in about 5% of the responses.

    Which begs the question: How many Masons were taught "You get out of Masonry what you put into it"? I'd venture a guess that 99.9% have heard that, and have said it a few times.

    So if the attitude is "I showed up, I had enough pulse to fog a mirror and occupy a seat, I pay my dues, and if you expect anything else outta me, I'll demit!", how much do you suppose he gets out of Masonry?

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  16. Perhaps some of those who commented did not read the edict in question. Nowhere did the GM say that ties, or even coats, had to be worn. Read it again, Brethren, especially the second page. It's about respect. And if a Mason wears shorts, sandals, wifebeaters or clothes with holes in them to a Masonic function, he is disrespecting not only the Lodge, his Brothers, and the Craft - he is disrespecting himself.
    Civility, Brethren. Civility. I applaud the GM for his insight, common sense, and courage in issuing the Edict.

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  17. man as much as you guys are whining about him wanting people to not wear raggedy clothing like a bum id hate to see you all die of the heart attack youd get if you moved to a pennsylvania lodge. this is the dress code for our casual events. things like barbecues, golf outings, and other events for members and their families in public. youd all drop dead of a coronary if you had to wear a suit and tie to every meeting, and a full tuxedo as any officer of the lodge. and oh my god, being required to wear a tophat as master instead of whatever ratty camo ball cap with a square and compass you can buy off ebay! grow up, realise that noone wants to look like a gang of losers because you want to dress like a hobo, and put on some clean clothes.

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  18. Brother Hodapp, you're missing the essential angle on this issue: That Freemason's must apply *Self-Control* to learn Craft work, and that this requires Reason and not Edicts to have any hope of success. This Edict is a well-meaning address to a popular complaint, but it seeks to substitute a Foundation of sand (Authoritarian Penalties and fear-based compliance) for the only true Foundation that Freemasonry can build upon: Freedom and Autonomy to voluntarily rule our own natures and thoughts as inculcated in our degrees: Decorum rooted in our own philosophy of self-improvement will successfully address both the inner and outer man, his thoughts AND behavior, whether inside the lodge or out of it. Edicts from on high cannot replace this and will ultimately fail. Considered action by Blue Lodges can, as it is their job to teach lessons rather than rule, and this is a teaching matter about the connection of Decorum to our Philosophy and Behaviors.

    Every blue lodge has all the power they need to establish their own, more perfect form of Dress Code, tailored to their own situation, so as to model the lessons of Freemasonry. This demonstrates a firm foundation of Self-Control and the application of the degree lessons. By adopting a unique but uniform dress code for official meetings (especially degree work), we honor the Craft and show respect to the candidates, and this can mean clean overalls and collared shirts in one place, Dark Suits in another (like my lodge) or fancy formal wear in other lodges as appropriate to that Lodge. This is no different than what the Edict says, yet the motivation is rooted in the PRIDE generated by the voluntary spirit of the "Gentle (as in Gentleman's) Craft" and this makes a material difference. The spirit of the Edict -- even when it attempts to decree the same approach -- is altogether different in outcome.

    There is a profound moral danger of replacing inner discipline with dictates and rules. Nazi Brown Shirts are the final state of the enthusiastic embrace of dictates over self-rule, and such groups and their members love the COMMAND approach to dress uniformly, first and foremost. 'Brown Shirts' eagerly weaponize such commands to intimidate everyone else to get in goose-step with the letter of the law, especially in situations where it isn't perfectly reasonable, like heat-waves etc. If you don't like being surrounded by slobs, you'll find the annoyance of those brethren who are always checking the lacing of your shoes for advantage, instead of engaging in friendly discourse, much worse.

    In (Georgia) degree work, we are admonished to remind a brother by a "gentle jog of the elbow," and "Whispered words of Counsel and Comfort in his ear." Nowhere does it say we should just abdicate this gentlemen's approach and instead prosecute, suspend and expel our Brethren into submission. Only lack of faith in our brethren makes such an approach sound enticing, as if our brethren are animals without hope of ruling or thinking for themselves and only capable of simple Obedience. This is NOT our philosophy. We must WORK to maintain the high philosophical character of our Craft by avoiding seductive Edicts that "command" us to do what we already do voluntarily and better anyway.

    As a matter of principle, we must decline this Edict for "coming from the wrong place" so we may champion the power to rule ourselves instead, from the Blue Lodge, as the natural seat for Decorum and other issues of Self-Control. Let's let this Edict go, as unnecessary to well-regulated lodges and the zealous masons who proudly look after them of their own Free Will and Accord.


    Sincerely and Fraternally,
    Michael S. Downs, P.M.
    Sandy Springs Lodge #124
    (i.e. A Georgia Mason)

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  19. Put that picture right back up! #### those plebs for wanting to join our august and fancy man society. Everything we need to know about those men - every single thing - we could tell by that one picture. They're just obligated brothers. What do we owe jokers like obligated brothers? Remember - blast that sweet counsel loud and with fingers pointed. You really should put it back up. It disgusts me. My goodness. Just thinking about their horrible, horrible clothes. Why did you do this to us, you lowlings? We were so fancy! We had it all. Champagne wishes and caviar dreams, fellow Fancylads!

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    1. That whooshing sound you hear was the whole point of this lengthy essay streaking right over your indignant head. As I said, that original photo I posted didn't show their faces and had practically nothing to do with them or their actions at all. That photo WAS about what the older members of that lodge and their purported mentors were teaching them by treating their degrees as some Saturday annoyance that wasn't special or out of the ordinary enough to put on un-ripped pants and something other than a beer logo tee shirt. And if you think that's snobby or elitist or treating brethren like lowly proles, then you seem to have missed the part about Masonry about improving ourselves through its mysteries and teachings.

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    2. And honestly, don't post anonymously. I like to know who I'm talking with.

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  20. A silly, insignificant thing like changing clothes makes you think even just a smidgen that you're doing something "different," that it's just a little bit higher on the rung of daily life's ladder. "Oh crap, I gotta change" makes you think that you need to care a tiny bit more. You'll think about where you are going instead of mindlessly thinking of lodge as one more base to tag this week. You'll feel out of place if you show up looking like you just came in from spreading manure on the tomato plants, because lodge isn't your personal, private basement rec room. Your refuge? Sure. But your man cave? Not so much, because you can stroll around in your socks and speedos there.

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  21. Have a look at the UGLE magazine Freemasonry Today article by John Hamill in 2015:

    https://www.freemasonrytoday.com/features/john-hamill-the-history-of-formal-dress-in-freemasonry-and-its-appeal-for-younger-masons

    "When Freemasonry began to look at ways of attracting younger men into the Craft 20 years ago, a regular comment was that formal dressing for lodge meetings would be seen as evidence of Freemasonry being somewhat ‘fuddy duddy’ and for older men. Surprisingly, the opposite has proved to be the case. Talking to many of those who have come into the organisation in the past few years, one of the attractions for them was the idea of formality both in meetings and dress, which is something they do not otherwise meet with in their daily lives."

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  22. There is a difference between uniformity and formality. "Dress codes" seek to impose uniformity, which means that everyone should look the same. The UGLE argument you quoted is based on uniformity. Formality, on the other hand, means wearing your "Sunday best"; the best clothes you have. That does not need to involve the uniform penguin-like look of tuxedos; it could involve Nehru jeckets, or barong tagalog or a kilt. Your dress is a symbol of your internal qualifications (I assume the concept of a symbol is familiar to everyone here), not a matter of external qualifications. You wear a uniform to show that you are exactly like everyone else, that you have no individuality. Since Masonry is all about improving the internal man, uniformity has nothing to do with Freemasonry. Formality, on the other hand, does. Wearing your spiffiest outfit is a symbol of your desire to be a better man, and of your respect for and pride in the organization to which you belong. This is an issue which has long needed addressing. Incidentally, like others who have posted, I am from a small rural lodge, and everyone takes the time and effort to clean themselves up and put on their best clothes before coming to Lodge. When, someone has no time to go home between work and Lodge he takes his best clothes to work, changes at the meeting and apologises profusely that under the circumstances this was the best he could do.

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  23. It certainly is interesting that the smaller things in life can trigger the most heated responses. Back in 1983 when I joined the lodge, I was told what day and time to arrive, and I was told to wear dress slacks, shirt and tie and if I had a suit coat to wear that as well. Currently I think we are afraid to let the candidate know our expectations in regards to time and dress. Back in the day options were not given, today we will reinvent the wheel to accommodate a man joining our fraternity. One Grand Master said that we need to remember that they are joining us we are not joining them. If they really want to belong then we need to educate them on our expectations. The series of comments giving excuses to not dress adequately are amazing. If a man or brother is truly serious about the fraternity they will find a way to dress appropriately.

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  24. Noah Schultz, WM Jefferson Co Lodge #9 (WI)October 15, 2019 2:13 AM

    My father had a catering business for many years. When it comes to food, he says that presentation is 90% of the taste. The most delicious dish, when just slopped on a plate will already have a poor / low expectation before it even is tasted. As a fraternity we have so much to offer and teach, but if we show up as slobs, we will already have the perception of luke warm canned green beans rather than filet mignon before a taste has evet been had.

    Case in point; I had been presenting a Lodge scholarship to a local school annually for near 10 years. I dressed nice, sometimes I read the pre-printed script, sometimes I added a few embellishments. I never once recieved anything more than the standard "thank you" from the recipient. In the last few year's the Lodge has been making the same presentation in Masonic garb, i.e. apron, jewel and gloves. After year's of not getting "boo" from anyone, now we get the school secretary, guidance counselor, principal and district administrator all making it a point to thank us. Same scholarship, same amount of money; what's the difference?... Presentation my brother's

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