Why Men Need Fraternity

Our last post for No Chicks Week isn’t about women, but men. We’ve touched before on the notion that men need to spend time in the exclusive company of other men every once in a while, but we didn’t really touch on why, and why that’s so important to a marriage.

In this final post, I would like to give you excerpts from another piece on another very male-centric website, The Art of Manliness. This article is written by Wayne M. Levine of BetterMen.org.

Many men feel far more comfortable in the company of women. That’s to be expected in our feminized culture. Most men of the last couple of generations were raised by their mothers, or other women, while their fathers were barely present. These boys didn’t receive their fair share of masculine modeling, guidance, and nurturing. It stands to reason that these men would feel more comfortable sharing their feelings, time, and trust with women.

So what’s the problem with that? If you’re still young, you may not have bumped up against the issues that will undoubtedly arise as you find yourself facing the challenges of long-term relationships, career choices, child rearing, mid-life, addictions, fidelity, and mortality, to name just a few!

Those of us who are longer in the tooth have had to confront our doubts, fears, and limitations as men who have been taught to rely primarily on women for advice. Women can teach us many things, but they cannot initiate us into manhood. For that, we require other men, fathers, and mentors.

Men who have continued to rely on their female significant others as their sole source of guidance, their only sounding board, or for their psychotherapeutic interventions, have seen their long-term relationships deteriorate. These men are asking too much of the women they love.

I’ve seen this in many men I know personally. They have no male friends. They had little to no relationship with their father. They have their mothers. Then their girlfriends. Then their wives (and often all their ex-girlfriends at the same time). And that’s their circle.

When they need advice they’re cuddled and coddled and their told how important and valid their feelings are.

And their actions suffer.

Now, my own experiences are entirely anecdotal, but I suspect they’re not uncommon.

I think we all know what happens when a man has no positive male role-models.

This is especially tough on wives, because wives don’t have the luxury of being relatively unaffected by the poor choices of their husband, like a husband’s friends are, or even his mother. Wives must live, intimately, with every bad choice her husband makes. They must make up the difference for poor choices. And that wares thin.

By revealing themselves to other men, these courageous men have invited others in. They’ve learned to ask for help to become better fathers and husbands. They’ve owned up to their own fears and doubt, making it safe for others to do the same. And as they’ve come to know each other and help each other, the distance between them has diminished.

Now, rather than feeling all alone when a relationship has hit a speed bump, a business transaction has turned bad, or a child has become impossibly defiant, these men now have somewhere to turn, a man to call, and an opportunity to get the help they need to turn things around, sometimes very quickly. Though it may sound a bit dramatic, this kind of support is literally life changing.

A group of men offer a perspective that many men don’t get from their usual circle, and on top of that, Freemasons often offer something even more valuable: experience.

Whether a brother is in his 30s, 40s, 50s, or even 80s, what they have to offer is experience. They’ve been places. They’ve seen things. They’ve run those same races we find ourselves in, and that experience can be leveraged. At Braden I can get advice on pretty much everything from how to negotiate a raise to better blacksmithing techniques (seriously, we’ve got, like, three blacksmiths in lodge. How manly is that?!)

The entire article can be read HERE, and I highly recommend it.

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Co-Masonry From a Husband and Regular Mason’s View

Today’s guest post comes from our very own Otto Christienson. Otto is a long time Mason, and has watched Braden 168 transition from another dwindling lodge of veteran brothers, to a younger, vibrant lodge dedicated to esoteric discussion and excellent ritual work, which Otto is very glad to see.

My wife is a Co-Mason, and I’ve been asked to share what little I know of their tradition.  First of all, I’d like to point out I have never been in attendance at one of their meetings.  I know some of her Brothers and generally enjoy interacting with them.  With that said, I’ll launch into my perspective on the organization.

The organization I am acquainted with is called the AFHR – an acronym for the “American Federation of Human Rights”.  It is a spinoff of La Droit Humain which originated in France in the late 19th century.  The AFHR is headquartered in Larkspur, Colorado.  The Order is made up of the Blue Degrees, the York and Scottish Rites and an interesting collection of a few other degrees.   The Blue degrees follow the Emulation ritual fairly closely, but with the addition of the “American Style” second half of the Third Degree.  The York degrees have the Mark Master, Royal Ark Mariner, and Royal Arch degrees.  I’m not sure if the Scottish Rite part of the tradition has any other degrees than the traditional terminal degrees of the 14th, 18th, 30th, and 32nd.  I am aware that they confer/communicate the 33rd.  Unlike the A:.F:.& A:.M:. structure, they have a fairly elaborate set of requirements for advancement to the next degree.  Beyond the “posting lecture” there are requirements for attendance and time in degree.  They also require the submission of “architecture” – a symbolic term for a paper examining or exploring some facet of the work.  Also, at some point advancement is by invitation only.  You can’t petition for some of the degrees.

Another thing I’d like to point out is there is a strong connection between the Co-Masonic organizations, La Droit Humain and the AFHR among them, and the Theosophical Society.  Two of the principal actors in the Co-Masonic movement in the United States were Charles Leadbetter and Annie Besant.  They were also the motivating force behind the Liberal Catholic Church.  I am not aware of any requirement to be a member of the LCC to become a member of the AFHR, but a significant number of the people I’ve met from Colorado and Michigan are also clergy in that specific church.  This to me seems to be very similar to the close relationship between the African Methodist Church and the Prince Hall Lodges.

The lodge structure differs from what we as “regular” Masons are acquainted.  Given the numbers of co-masons is significantly smaller than the recognized fraternity; they have different designations to accommodate fewer human and monetary resources.  I am aware of three different classifications of groups: 1) Circle, 2) Triangle, and 3) Lodge.  They represent increasing abilities to do the work and to administer the day-to-day activities of the lodges.  Usually, it is my understanding the first two designations can only do degree work with the assistance of a Grand Lodge officer or other high degree individual.  The Lodges are capable of doing the Blue Degrees, but will often get assistance from the Grand Lodge.  With the difference in designation, there is also a difference in leadership.  Lodge Masters in many cases are appointed by the Grand Lodge in Colorado and the term is not specified.  I’m not sure if it is ad vitam, or dependent on the decisions made in council.

On discussing this with my wife, she informed me that regular Masons can attend their meetings with permission from the Grand Lodge in Larkspur.  Attendance at one of their meetings would be something an individual brother would have to reconcile for himself and would depend on your definition of “Masonic conversation”.  I’ll leave this with you and offer to answer any questions that could be reasonably address without violating any of my oaths or compromising the confidence I’ve earned from my “clandestine” friends.

Parting on the Square,

Otto C.

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A Masonic Primer for the Partners

Masonry is, perhaps naturally, enigmatic. This isn’t just due to its requirements of secrecy. Whenever a group of men get together behind closed doors, away from women, and particularly away from wives, girlfriends, and partners, it becomes a mystery. What the hell are these guys doing in there? What is my husband up to?

For today’s installment of No Chicks Week, Worshipful Master Jesse Williams addresses this particular mystery.

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My wife comes from a masonic family. Her grandfather was an active and accomplished Freemason in South Dakota. From the beginning of our relationship she respected my participation in the craft. She showed support of my participation and interest in my successes at lodge. But she was always understanding and respectful of the somewhat clandestine nature of our activities.

On the Thursdays I am not at home but she knows that I am with the guys. Some times she waits up for me to come home but not always. Nights at lodge which run until one or two in the morning are not uncommon and she does not worry about where I am or what I am doing because she knows the men I am with and is familiar with the schedule. Most Thursdays she enjoys as evenings to herself when she sows and watches her shows.
I suppose wives of masons or of perspective masons ought to be affirmed of a few things

  • When men are at lodge they are mostly chatting amongst themselves about daily life, interesting observations, and potential projects they may start which another brother at the lodge may have an interest.
  • If you were a fly on the wall you’d probably be disappointed by the utter lack of scandal and gossip which is passed around.
  • When we go to lodge we stay there. Some groups have an “outer lodge” a restaurant or bar they like to attend but these are well established and rarely change.
  • If you are interested in the ritual we perfomr and the nature of our secrets then read Joseph Campbell’s “A Hero with a Thousand Faces.” That book will explain the universal nature of male myth and offer an insight to what we do. Though it does not reveal any specific about our fraternity.

Thursday nights at Braden are events for the men involved. We look forward to the comradery and the repetition of our ritual. You can enjoy a care free night with yourself or with whomever you chose certain of where we are and what we are doing.

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