Thursday, May 1, 2014

Masonic Ritual And The Rude Intrusions Of The Modern World

Nothing irritates me more than having a cell phone go off during lodge.  When I was Master of my lodge, I reminded everyone before the meeting to turn them off, but inevitably, there was one that failed to do so.  That's common now, and even with the reminders, I've heard them go off during degree work, I've heard them go off during public installations, during the Annual Grand Lodge Convocation (which will cost you a $20 donation to the Masonic Charitable Fund in Illinois--which, by the way, I think is a great idea).  I've even seen Masons checking their email, texting, and playing games during lodge meetings--if you're going to do that, then why are you there?

Sadly, a phone rang at full volume during a Masonic Funeral Rite I attended not long ago--that's one of the most important rituals we do for the family of a departed Brother.  To say it was embarrassing for every Mason there is an understatement--and I'd be willing to bet that Mason with the phone never carries it during a Funeral service again.   But it's too late--as they say, you can't unring a bell.  The moment is forever lost.  The one thing that family is likely to remember about that ceremony was the phone ringing in the middle of it.

There is nothing that ruins the solemnity of the Craft so quickly as this annoying intrusion from the modern world--and it happens all too often.  We're supposed to care about this ritual, and Masons spend hours learning it and practicing it.  It's a beautiful part of our history and traditions.  And lets not forget that these degree rituals are supposed to leave a lasting impact on our candidates.  Would it be such a bad thing to leave your phone in the car if you can't seem to remember to turn it off?  What are we talking about--maybe an hour or two at the most?  

It wasn't that many years ago when we had no cell phones, and people actually survived!  Nobody is more addicted to the internet than I am, but I've taken to leaving that phone in the car.  It's too easy to forget to turn them off, or think you've got it off, only to learn when it rings that it's not.  But it's about time Masonic Lodges started getting serious about dealing with this rude intrusion into the beautiful traditions of Craft Masonry.

~TEC

6 comments:

  1. I'll check my phone when it comes to the reading of the minutes. How boring are they?! Degree work, no; boring administrivia? Heck yes!

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    1. I'd be willing to bet you're not the guy whose phone goes off during a degree lecture, or during the opening or closing. I'm a Lodge Secretary, so during the business portion of our meetings, I rely on my iPhone heavily to calendar events, take notes to remind me of things I'm supposed to do, etc. But it's sure not going to ring. It's not so much the usuage during a business or adminstrative meeting that bothers me, it's the disruption of ritual when they aren't shut off. They are part of our lives now, and they've replaced our wrist watches, our pocket calendars and pens, and help us stay organized in our always increasingly busy world. But as with any tool, we need to use them responsibly. First time I forget to shut off that ringer, will be the last time I take that phone inside--I'll be back to my pocket calendar.

      Thanks for the comment.

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    2. You're absolutely right! :)

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  2. During my term as Master I allowed phones to be on during business meetings for the purpose of programming events in one's calendar. During ceremonies I said to have all phones OFF, not on silent or vibrate, but OFF.

    I do like Illinois idea, particular since I'm on the Board for the Charitable Fund in Idaho ;)

    Bro. Barry

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  4. I agree that nothing can ruin the solemnity during degree work or a funeral service than hearing somebody's phone ringing. It's a time that should be set aside to get away from the grind & noise of everyday life. Using one for making notes of upcoming events is fine by me also. At Masonic functions that I've been to recently, they announce before hand to make sure that your phone is turned off. Next year as W.M., the $20 donation to the charity fund will be implemented for infractions!

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