The Modern Cowan

                        THE MODERN COWAN
                         Floren L. Quick

     In Scotland, the operative Mason knew cowans to be ignorant
builders who put stones together without mortar. They piled rough
fieldstones into a wall without hewing them true, or squaring them.
They masqueraded as Masters, but they did not have the Word.

     Now and again, today - fortunately not too often - we find a
modern equivalent of the operative imposter. One such is the Mason
who manages a place in an officer's line with little or no effect
of his own to deserve it. With only that exertion that is necessary
to maintain his place, he continues to advance in line until he
receives the jewels and honours that he prizes so highly. But he
does not know the Constitution, and he does not understand the
traditions and dignity of the Craft. As a presiding officer, his
vocal ability is more noteworthy than his executive ability; and
when his term is ended, he is seldom seen until another honour or
prize appears to be within his grasp.

     He is a contemporary builder who works without the benefit of
the mortar of real enthusiasm or accomplishments. His structure is
liken unto the rough stone wall, having little beauty of value. He
is the cowans of modern speculative Masonry.

     He is to be pitied, for he is a Masonic failure. His honours
are shallow. Bringing no interest to his position, he received
little of the satisfaction and respect that belong to the real

     Masonry has failed to reach him with a clear understanding of
those marks of true devotion which she has to offer. He never knows
the opportunities that the Craft makes available to those who
diligently seek them. He misses the opportunities that the Craft
makes available to strive for a just and worthy cause. He misses
the opportunity for continuing fellowship and friendship. He misses
the opportunity for loyalty and devotion. He misses the opportunity
for development of his executive, intellectual and oratorical
abilities. And most of all, he misses the opportunity for service -
to God - to his community - and to his fellow man.

     These are the jewels that Masonry has to offer, but in his
quest for position and honours, the modern cowan misses them. Like 
the operative cowan, he does not have the Word.

-reprinted from the Masonic Shimbun in the GLBC Bulletin, Nov. '79