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


Sunday, August 15, 2021

Masks on! Masks off! Masks on! Masks off!

by Christopher Hodapp

Regardless of what your personal opinion may be concerning news about the resurgence of COVID infections and the controversies swirling around masks, lockdowns and vaccines, one thing is certain: if you're a Grand Master, anything you say or do (or choose to NOT do) concerning these topics will result in hellfire and brimstone raining down on your head from your membership. 

No matter what you say or do, there will be a great gnashing of teeth. (And fortunately, thanks to federal COVID funding, if you find yourself toothless, teeth will be provided.)

To wit:

Last Wednesday, August 11th, the Grand Master of Arkansas, MW William R. Frizzell, issued an official edict (Edict #3) requiring the Masons in his jurisdiction to return to wearing masks and distancing at lodge meetings, and recommending they get vaccinated against the virus. Irksome? Certainly. But probably prudent if you're the guy responsible for an organization with thousands of members, of which a substantial number are senior citizens who are more at risk than the rest of the population:

The edict was circulated electronically so it could be immediately disseminated to all members. And it's pretty obvious that the members' responses were immediate, too. One can only imagine the statewide caterwaul over the return to masking that poured into the Grand Master's email inbox, and the nonstop ringing of the office phones in Little Rock.

So, on Thursday morning, Grand Master Frizzell issued Edict #4, which was a clarification of Edict #3, explaining the difference between his requirements for in-person lodge meetings, his requests, and his recommendations:

To quote the Bard, "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown," or the lap that's covered by the purple apron, in this case. It's clear that the protests of the membership became a deluge. 

GM Frizzell's Edict #5 was issued that very same afternoon, rescinding #3 and #4, signing off with just two words, "Good luck!" 
I was reminded of a famous incident at Bastogne, Belgium in December 1944 when the Germans sent an ultimatum to the commander of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, demanding the immediate surrender of his woefully outnumbered forces. His reply to the German commander was simple and to the point: 



  1. That last edict certainly reminds me of Reverend Johnson's parting words to Bart from Blazing Saddles: "Son, you're on your own".

  2. Nothing to worry about! If a few Arkansas Brethren get sick and die, it's not a problem since the Fraternity in the state is in great shape, and is growing by leaps and bounds! They have so many new members that lodges are simply packed! Wait. Uh. Never mind. Rescind everything I just wrote. What a silly, silly mess. It says quite a bit about the state of Freemasonry in this benighted place. I live in Little Rock, so I know whereof I speak.

  3. I don’t agree with mandated mask wearing, I don’t believe they will prevent COVID. I do agree with encouragement of vaccination. It’s a fact, the current spike in the hospital’s ICU are coming from unvaccinated patients.

  4. I don’t agree with mandated mask wearing either. I do believe we should encourage vaccination. It’s a fact the hospital ICU beds are full because of unvaccinated Covid patients.

  5. A major challenge is that most of our lodge buildings lack the ventilation that is need to cope with the virus. Just as an example, the new requirements for elevators, hallways, bathrooms, are horrendously expensive -- not to mention lodge rooms themselves, preparation rooms, and other areas. Masks don't solve the problem of groups meeting in buildings that don't meet the public health codes. And the legal liabilities are enormous.

  6. Proving in three documents -- the last one in particular -- why MW Frizzell should never have been allowed to assume the East.

    I don't even have to know the brother to know that. I just have to read these three documents.

  7. Part of the genius of Freemasonry is the office of the Grand Master, and it is an "Ancient Landmark".

    My opinion, what the Grand Master proposed in his first Edict was reasonable, intelligent, and carefully considered. But I may have bias because I work as essential personnel and telework is not an option. In my line of work, if the U.S. President has to wear a mask at meetings, I do also, automatically. And with great pleasure, if I want to stay employed.

    But having said all that, when it comes to MASONICALLY informed decisions about living life, I only listen to the wise counsel of my fellow Masonic brethren and my Grand Master.

    Anyone outside the Fraternity of Freemasons (and that includes a U.S. President, unless he is a Mason) cannot tell me how Masons should "meet, act, and part".

    Think about that.

  8. Insisting the brethren wear masks during a pandemic is more reasonable than insisting on jackets and ties in the summer.

  9. The science of the spread of Covid in the beginning was as a rough road with a lot of guessing, refined as we went along & now it is the best we have, the future it will be better in the art of prevention. As the GM you are first interested in the health & well being of the fraternity and liabilities in this day & age also a concern. If a mask is an issue remember it is of your own free will to attend, it is the GM's job to consider the best interests of the craft. I have learned it is better to subdue a passion and take this moment to improve my self and be considerate of all and perhaps not exacerbate a problem.


Comments will not appear immediately, so be patient. I am forced to laboriously screen every post because I am constantly bombarded with spam. Anonymous postings on Masonic topics have the same status as cowans and eavesdroppers as far as I am concerned. If you post with an unknown or anonymous account, do not expect to see your comment appear.