How I Sat in the East and Changed Freemasonry Forever

Ok, that might be a little bit of an overstatement. I’m just a working class schlub, but something interesting did happen, and I wanted to share it.


My master’s hat for the evening… seriously.

I’ve sat in the East Chair twice before, both this past year, but for degrees. They were good degrees. I think I stumbled through the opening and closing during one of them, but for the most part I’ve not come too near leadership in the lodge, despite my swirling ascent through the chairs. And my brothers have noticed. I’m a joker. I’m a smoker. (I’ll stop there.) But despite never being shy to shout out an idea about every five seconds, I’ve never expressed a particular vision for my lodge. I’ve never displayed many measurable leadership qualities. I’ve mostly just been good for one-liners.

But for those who have been paying attention, and there have been some, I do take the Craft seriously, even if I don’t take myself seriously sometimes. And one thing I appreciate about the Craft is the traditions we have. I’m not looking to dazzle people with my particular notions of what masonry should be. I don’t care to express my will and pleasure that all brothers come in a jacket and tie. I don’t care to express that we have too many pancake breakfasts or not enough. I don’t see the Master’s chair as a way to express my personal tastes, even for just one year.

But I will try things. Because I’m not scared to try things.

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The Art of Manliness and the Craft of Masonry

The Art of Manliness is a website close the the heart of many Freemasons. For those who have never been there, it’s a guide that explores the lost traits and skills of being a man, and how we can get those aspects back into our live. I highly recommend How to Feel Like a Man, the first video of our Internet Lecture Series and a great primer on something freemasonry stresses in our Craft. It’s just one of many places where the art of manliness and the craft of masonry intersect, which is one reason why the site is so popular with masons.

I’ve been reflecting, recently, on the terminology used for the two concepts: the Art of Manliness, and the Craft, which is a synonymous term for Freemasonry in the lodge. Arts and Crafts. Kind of cute. Kind of weird. Why not the Craft of Manliness?
Half the posts are learning how to whittle a workbench with a pocket comb and things like that. It’s certainly pretty crafty. And why isn’t Freemasonry called The Art? A good deal of what we can do, in terms of the degrees, is practically performance art, anyway. Stonemasons made gorgeous works of architecture. Can we not be considered an art?

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Can males today no longer afford to grow up?

We’ve come out of one recession, possibly headlong into a second, but time keeps on ticking, and kids keep growing up. But as they hit the bottleneck of the  post-college job market, which hasn’t been great since the Tech Boom, and has been ridiculously terrible these last few years, where entry-level mailroom  jobs are requiring five years experience, and 40 hr per week, college-education-level gigs are being labeled “This is an internship – no pay,” Americas young men and women find themselves in a pretty strange position.

We just can’t afford to become adults.

In record-setting numbers, young adults struggling to find work are shunning long-distance moves to live with Mom and Dad, delaying marriage and buying fewer homes, often raising kids out of wedlock. They suffer from the highest unemployment since World War II and risk living in poverty more than others – nearly 1 in 5.

This is a particular problem for men. Women have been asserting themselves, successfully, for a generation, and while they are suffering the same employment troubles as their male counterparts, men had historically always defined themselves by what they do much more than women.

And when men aren’t doing anything, then what are they?

Put down the Xbox controller and slowly back away...

There’s a lot of reasons for the man-boy Peter Pan Syndrome that many of the 30-something generation are going through (and those in their 20s seem just as lost). It should really be know, however, that the inability to afford to grow up is not an excuse.

Yes, the job market is tough. Yes, it may not seem possible to get one’s own apartment out of college. Living with a half-dozen roommates or even going back home to one’s parents is a more appealing option. But just because you’re sleeping in your twin bed under your Buzz Lightyear comforter again, or you’re up at 3am with the rest of your roommates playing Call of Duty, it doesn’t let you off the hook for growing up and becoming a man.

You may have to live as a child for the time being, but you don’t have to act like one. Freemasonry is one affordable way to get a little focus and positive direction in your life, but it isn’t the only one. Finding interests is pretty easy for many men, so take the lead in those interests. Use your love of nerdery to carve out a leadership path. Organizing clubs and events is a surprisingly robust way of getting the only Experience Points that really matter. XPs for life.