Friendly Tips from Far East Lodge No. 1 F. & A. M.
Mar 1983 – Jun. 1983
FROM THE EAST
We here are all aware of what seems to be happening to Masonry in Japan. What to do? When Masonry first started in Japan well over 100 years ago, it was a "Gaijin" organization. After WWII, when the occupation forces were here, the Japanese citizen was welcome for the first time to join the fraternity and some of them did. Many of them have become outstanding members. These Japanese Brothers followed the ways of the Americans hoping to learn all that they could about Masonry.
When the Grand Lodge of Japan was formed in 1957, it was dominated by Americans, which was good, at that time. We had then, and still have now, many outstanding American Masons in Japan. As the years passed, the "Gaijin" has continued to dominate and the Japanese have followed without question. This is Japan and we have a Grand Lodge of Japan. The occupation forces have departed, removing the source of readily available "Gaijin" candidates. We should be removing ourselves from the coveted positions in the Blue Lodges and Grand Lodge and get more Japanese Brothers in these positions.
I don't by any means want to see the good "Gaijin" Brothers drop Masonry, but rather to see required changes made to better suit the Japanese Brothers and for the "Gaijins" to assist them in any manner they can. As long as the "Gaijin" continues to dominate Masonry in Japan, the Japanese Brothers will follow. We need more active Japanese Brothers and we should try to make them feel that it is a Japanese organization, not just for the "Gaijin"
If some changes have to be made to accomplish this, then let's do whatever is necessary within reason to make the Japanese Brothers comfortable in their own lodges. My intent as your Master this year is to do everything I can to make all the Brothers for Far East Lodge No. 1 enjoy their lodge and be proud to be called Masons.
Sincerely and fraternally,
WILLIAM J. LASALLE
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FROM THE EDITOR
The Feb-Apr 1982 edition of the Friendly Tips was the first issue of the FT's devoted entirely to my (at that time) "ISSUE OF CONCERN". Two subsequent issues have also been devoted almost entirely to this subject but unless directed otherwise by the Worshipful Master or unless my mail tells me otherwise, this will be the last issue devoted to this matter. I have received three more letters since the last edition which are set forth below. Other than the letters from you expressing your concern over this matter, nothing has been accomplished. The Grand Lodge killed the proposed amendment to the Constitution and Code submitted by WB Myron G. Bettencourt (published in the Nov 1982-Feb 1953 edition of the FTs.)
The fact that the proposed changes were killed by Grand Lodge comes as no surprise to this writer. After being literally torn to pieces by the Jurisprudence Committee, the members of Grand Lodge were left with little choice.
Too bad! It now appears that until we get a new Jurisprudence Committee little or no meaningful progress on solving some of our problems will be made. On the other hand, the article by WB Harry Carr at the close of this issue may be also part of the answer — it certainly is "Something To Think About"! One thing is certain, this writer does not intend to expend what little energy he has chasing rainbows or as they say in the Navy "Shoveling S—t Against the Tide". I will continue to publish your letters on this matter, Brethren, and as a final shot, I do intend to submit to the Grand Master copies of all articles and letters, both pro and con, written by you with the hope that he will appreciate the concern of the members of this lodge. What good it may do is probably little but you deserve to be heard. I can at least attempt to see that that happens.
Sincerely and fraternally,
Your friendly editor
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Dear Worshipful Brother Hodges,
I rec'd my 1983 dues card today along with your note. It was a pleasure hearing from you even though the note was short. I have not heard a word from Yokosuka 20 since I left. I had sincerely hoped that 20 would pitch in and lend a hand to #1 when the move took place but have had no indication that that was so.
This time of year has been particularly depressing for me and Dollie both in that we truly miss the many wonderful times in Japan during the Christmas season with all the installations and other activities. I have not yet been able to get very active in the lodge here since I am spending a considerable amount of time on the road. The travel is exciting and very enjoyable since this is my first time in this part of the world. But to tell you the truth, I would give a month's pay for one plate of sashimi, and a warm cup of sake.
I trust by the time you receive this letter you will have had elections for 1983. Please extend my congratulations to the officers of the lodge. My thoughts will be with them throughout the year.
You mentioned in your note that you were going to publish my last letter. Well, I ran across a little something that you also may want to print. I leave that decision entirely up to you but taken from a book I was reading which dealt with the history of Buddhism in the Far East. The portion labeled "note" was of particular interest to me. I believe that one of the basic problems surrounding the solicitation question is a lack of understanding of the Masonic use of the word itself. For instance, if you were to ask the members of the fraternity to draw a line between what would be considered solicitation and what would not, I doubt that two out of ten would draw that line at the same place. Therefore, I believe that the first step in bringing the Brethren together is simply defining the word "solicitation" as it applies to Masonic membership. Only after that definition is established with no leeway for misunderstanding can we determine if there is a conflict in belief or if there just appears to be a conflict.
I really didn't plan on rambling on about this subject but I thought you might at least enjoy the exerpt from the book. In closing, I would just like to wish each and every member of the lodge a very merry christmas and a happy new year.
WB "Butch" Brown
Editor's note: The following is the excerpt which WB Brown refers to in his letter. WB Brown notes that Mou Tzu was a Buddhist priest but did much of his preaching from Confucianism. Which makes an interesting combination!
The Conflict of Belief
Why does Mou Tzu support his contentions from secular rather than Buddhist literature?
The questioner said: You, sir, say that the scriptures are like the rivers and the sea, their phrases like brocade and embroidery. Why, then, do you not draw on Buddhist scripture to answer my questions? Why instead do you refer to the books of odes and history (Confucianism), joining together things that are different to make them appear the same?
Mou Tzu said: I have quoted those things, sir, which I knew you would understand. Had I preached the words of the Buddhist scriptures or discussed the essence of non-action. It would have been like speaking to a blind man of the five colors or playing the five sound to a deaf man.
Note: By preaching a belief that appears to be in conflict with a belief of another then the person to whom you preach is blinded and deafened to your words by the strength of his faith and in the defense of his belief. But if you concentrate on his belief and speak kindly of his faith you may find that many roads lead to all things that are good and decent, and that at no time is it necessary for the roads to cross but on th contrary they may be parallel yet achieving the same goal.
Mock no man because of his belief but look closely for similarity.
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Brother Edward L. Lawson, Jr.
Dear Wor Bro Hodges and Brothers.
Another year to look with nostalgia and pride upon my membership in Far East Lodge. My deepest & proudest fraternal moments were spent with you.
I enclose $150.00 to cover 1983 dues and an advance ($130.00) on my life membership. Please advise me if there is any change in the $275.00 fee. Due to change in the exchange rate, as was reflected in the 1983 yearly dues notice, dropping it to $20.00. Due to the expenses of major remodeling of our house, my cash flow has been a bit limited. I do, however, intend to pay the remainder of the fee early in 1983. Please excuse my last day of the year payment, yesterday was payday. I take this step despite (or perhaps because of) my concerns for the future of Far East #1. The lodge and all you brothers are in my thoughts and prayers.
Should this extra income help in any way, I shall be gladdened. If the feared darkness should fall upon the lodge, I want to have been a permanent part of the body. The nobility of your cause far outweighs any risks.
My entire life has been changed by association with Masonry in Japan. My personal feelings I have shared with you, especially the parallel of my experiences in Far East #1, and the poem "The Mother Lodge" by Bro. Rudyard Kipling. Brothers of different races, creeds, and countries cemented together by brotherly love spread by the trowel. It was through Bro. Roger L. Cadwell (Yokosuka #20) a fellow advisor to Dai-ichi chapter of Demolay) and his wife Peggy, that I met my wife Masako. We will be celebrating our 15th anniversary in May 83. Please advise me of proposed protections for life memberships, should our fears materialize. I would hope to be able to affiliate with what ever lodge Far East chose, and maintain life membership status in the Grand Lodge of Japan.
I received word from MWB Nishiyama that his health is poor, and that he faces major surgery (on his main artery in the chest area). This surgery is quite risky, and has significant morbidity and mortacity connected with it. This operation requires cardial bypass to allow repair and replace of the damaged arterial section near the heart. I wish that I could be present to assist with his anesthesia, or care, but there is too great affection in my relationship to allow me professional objectivity. I hope the brothers will keep him in the constant knowledge of our brotherly love and concern for him. He is a treasure to the Craft, and to all who call him "Brother."
I know that especially Bro. Katsuhiko Otani will keep me posted on MWB "Nishi's" status. But I would appreciate any word you or any of the brothers can send me on the subject. Especially Brother Dock Aoki, if he is still active.
I continue on as 'dad' advisor to Ephram Kirby chapter, Order of Demolay, for the third year. In order to give Demolay the support that it needs, I had to decline an appointment as senior deacon of my local lodge, Far East #56. It was a difficult thing to say 'no' to the most flattering honor. But the lodge is much stronger than the Demolay chapter, and if I were to take the office, its demands along with my professional dues as an anesthetist, would leave Demolay in a difficult position.
This year, however, there is a new office in our lodge: "Historian" and this will not be so time consuming, so I was delighted to accept this appointment. It involves Masonic historical research and reporting same to the lodge on occasion. If my efforts inspire any brothers to study our craft, this too will be a reward. This office is the best of both worlds: Receiving recognition for following my favorite activity — reading Masonic lore and history.
I expect to be able to send additional payment toward life membership shortly as our finances are straightening out rapidly.
My best to all brothers, especially any who may be so old as to remember me from 1967 & 68, as Chaplain under W.B. Bill Connors.
Itsu made mo anata no kyodai,
EDWARD L. LAWSON Jr.
Editor's Note: I just remembered that I have failed to answer Bro. Lawson's questions so will take this opportunity. First, the cost of Life Membership is 15 time the annual dues — our annual dues for this year being $20.00, life membership would then cost $300.00. The $150.00 you have paid so far can all be applied to the life membership fee providing the full amount is paid during the current calendar year. If the balance due is not paid until next year, then the current year's dues of $20.00 must be deducted and you would then owe $170.00. I am absolutely delighted to report that MWB Nishiyama is recovering very well from his operations. He now is able to sit with us in Lodge and each time we sit with him, we thank the Supreme Being for being so generous! As for "Doc Aoki", regretfully he dimitted several years back and we have had little news of him since then.
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Brother Wesley H.F. Ross
Please advise current life time membership dues. (Editor's note: Please see above). The "Friendly Tips" is received and read with much interest. I am of the opinion that if the Masonic order, all over the world, persists with its current policy of recruitment it will ultimately find itself closing its doors. Change must take place.
Perhaps a bi-lingual arrangement within the Grand Lodge should be considered. Blue lodges could use either Japanese or english and would be organized on this basis. The Grand Lodge itself should be bi-lingual.
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Brother Charles R. Burnaugh
Dear Bro. Hodges:
I have followed the articles about Freemasonry in Japan in the Friendly Tips which you have so faithfully sent to me and I have thought about how I might be able t0 contribute something towards resolution of the problems which beset our lodge — "Far East Lodge No. 1."
I just remembered that a couple of months ago, the enclosed article about Freemasonry was published by the Grand Lodge, F.&A.M. of Washington. My thought is that you may be able to get our lodge brothers who are Japanese to write something like this for general distribution throughout Japan. Such a publication, distributed with their most widely read and widest distributed newspaper could serve as an instrument to acquaint the general populace of Japan, and especially those who might be interested in joining the order, with what Freemasonry is and what it stands for.
Since the Grand Lodge here in the State of Washington published this article, I don't feel that this is "advertising" in the sense of "asking" someone individual to join a lodge. Further, it seems to me that there are some prominent public figures in the Grand Lodge of Japan who could be featured in such an article, as George Washington was featured here.
I realize that I have not been of much help in the past, and I hope that this is something you and our Japanese Brethren can develop and use to promote Freemasonry in Japan.
Editor's Note: Bro. Burnaugh, like I said in my article on page 2, I intend to forward a copy of all letters I have received on this subject to the Grand Master with the request that he at least read them and so far as circumstances will permit, act on as many of the recommendations submitted by the Brethren of this lodge as he may find worthy of consideration. It is worth trying — even though I am personally pessimistic.
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Other news: Have received information that on Saturday, 21 May 1983, Travelers Lodge No. 692, F.&A.M., in Sacramento, CA, had the privilege of presenting the Hiram Award to Worshipful Bruce A. Riffle who is one of the most outstanding pillars of Travelers Lodge. His service as secretary has preserved their lodge and kept it financially solvent. He maintains the books and knows just which one of the myriad of forms has to be filled out and when. This requires an enormous amount of time and dedication. So notes the Worshipful Master, WB Emil Schneider, in his most recent letter to the Brethren of Travelers Lodge. (Have you or has someone you know who is a member of this lodge been recognized recently for service to the order? If so, share your knowledge with the rest of the Brethren, write me a note and I shall be most happy to publish it in the FT's. I don't consider it bragging or unbecoming conduct — after all, Jesus Himself told us not to hide our light under a basket!)
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Something to think about — from the Winter 1982 The Freemason(Missouri):
MEMBERSHIP GAINS OR ATTENDANCE LOSSES?
W. Bro. Harry Carr, O.S.M., P.J.G.D.
About the Author: Harry Carr is one of the best known names in the world of Masonic scholarship. He is a Past Master of five English lodges and an Honorary Member of 20, including lodges and research lodges in Paris (France), New York, Ohio, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Texas, Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and New Zealand.
He was elected to full membership of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge, London, the Premier Lodge of Masonic Research, in 1953 and became Master in 1958. He has been Secretary of three English lodges including, most notably, his 12 years (1961-73) as Secretary of Quatuor Coronati Lodge and Editor of its "Transactions", during which time its Correspondence Circle membership was more than trebled in recognized Masonic jurisdictions throughout the world.
In 1957, he served as "Prestonian Lecturer" (Grand Lodge appoints only one brother each year). His subject was "The Transition from Operative to Speculative Masonry." Lecture duties took him all over England. Since then and in recent years especially, he has lectured to Masonic lodges and Grand Lodges in Belgium, France, Germany, Israel, with extensive lecture tours in South Africa, Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand.
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The "California Freemason" for Summer 1982 contains a page of statistics showing falling membership of roughly 1.7 percent to 2.5 percent and this may be taken as a fair sample of what is happening in most, if not all, the U.S.A. jurisdictions. It would be difficult to be certain of the reasons which contribute to this general and widespread decline. Television, inflation and unemployment are perhaps among the causes cited most frequently, and there may be several others.
One characteristic is common to all of them — none of them will be easy to overcome. The regular loss of 1 percent to 2.5 percent in any one year is sad, but it been going on for some 12 to 15 years! Reading the annual reports in the yearbooks and listening to numerous speakers on the subject, the suggested remedy may be summarized in a single word "leadership", but leadership with a special stress on 'the need for increased membership' as a cure for all ills.
To appreciate the real nature of the problem, it may be helpful to compare the relevant figures in the English Lodges with those in the U.S.A. Under the United Grand Lodge of England the average is 80 members per lodge, and we manage very well. The U.S.A. lodges are at least three or four times larger than ours, i.e., in the populous industrial states the average is 260, elsewhere, 300. At this stage, even a regular loss of 1 percent to 2% percent in any one year would not seem particularly worrying. Frankly, I am not satisfied that falling membership is the real problem. Indeed, I doubt whether a membership drive, however well conducted, could provide the solution because it takes no account of another aspect of the problem, an aspect which is infinitely more important, but all-too-rarely mentioned. I refer to falling attendances.
I believe that the real danger lies in the pitifully small attendances that have been going on for so long that the leaders have grown accustomed to them, and accept them as a matter of course! Let us compare figures again. In the days before inflation began to bite, we in England would expect a 40 percent attendance of members in the London lodges, with an even higher proportion in the Provinces. Nowadays, when annual dues and dining fees are so much dearer than they were, we still expect and get a 30 percent attendance. In the U.S.A. I gather that the average might run between 5 percent and 10 percent.
During my many visits to the U.S.A. I have attended several lodges on the days when I was not lecturing. Attendances were always small. In 1981, I was invited to a lodge to see a Third Degree, and there were some 30 Brethren present, including visitors. They murdered the ceremony because of insufficient members to make up a full team of officers. I was told later that the lodge had a membership of over 1,000, but less then 3 percent were present. That may have been worse than normal, but it shows where the real danger lies.
The decline in overall membership represents losses mainly beyond our control, disturbing, but not ruinous. The decline in lodge attendances is far more serious. Those missing members are paying their dues, but consc- iously or unconsciously, they are the worst advertisement for the Craft, because they have lost interest in their lodges, or they are too busy to give their lodges the support which is their due. What hope can there be for attracting and increasing the overall membership of the Craft if the present members cannot find enough in their lodges to encourage them to attend?
Watching the problems at close quarters and at a distance, I am more than ever convinced that these are the Brethren that must be won back if you aim to set your house in order, and the first step should be a diligent and critical inquiry into the root causes of these losses. In the 20 U.S.A. states in which I have lectured since 1970, I have always been deeply interested in those Craft practices that differ from ours in England, and a few of them may be of some value in your inquiry. I list those that may be relevant:
- The "Laws" or "Constitutions" of most U.S.A. Jurisdictions demand "Stated Meetings" once a month, i.e., 12 obligatory meetings regardless of whether there is any degree work or other worthwhile business to be done. I have heard of lodges which have 22 or 24 "Stated Meetings" a year! Is it not possible to arrange the program so that lodges can manage with only six or eight meetings?
- In the U.S.A. your lodges are permitted to confer a single degree on as many as five or seven candidates at one meeting, and for the major part of the ceremony each candidate is taken separately. No matter how well the work is performed, if the candidate has to listen to the same ceremony repeated five or seven times, he, with the rest of the Brethren, are being bored stiff!
In England, mass-production Masonry is anathema! We are only allowed to confer a degree on two candidates at most, and they go through the whole ceremony together.
- The lodge banquet? I gather that the U.S.A. lodges do not dine before (or after) every meeting, and I have been told that dinner meetings usually have larger attendances.
In England, our lodges usually meet at 4:00 or 4:30 p.m. and all degree work and "business" is generally finished by 7:00 p.m. We sit down to dine around 7:30 p.m. (an excellent banquet, approximately $20.00 in London, $8.00 in the Provinces), followed by Grace, and a lengthy Toast List, and we finish at 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. The "social hours" help to keep the Brethren together as a "family" and they are always an interesting part of the whole program.
In the U.S.A. a brother is not a Mason until he has taken his Third Degree (and passed his Proficiency Test). Since your lodge "business" is usually conducted in the Third Degree, your E.A.'s and F.C.'s play no part in lodge business, they have no vote and no knowledge of what is being done in their lodge. In England a Mason is a Mason when he has been initiated, and he has all the rights and privileges of membership from then on, except that he may not be in lodge during the other degrees. This is not an attack on the Baltimore Convention, but is it not possible to conduct "business" in the First Degree, so that your juniors may have some additional reason for attending their lodges? Why keep them away?
So my first suggestions for winning back your lost members are summarized briefly here:
- Abolish the Grand Lodge rule prescribing 12 "Stated Meetings." No brother would willingly ruin an evening at home to attend a meeting where the only "business" is to pass the Treasurer's accounts for that month, or to vote an increase in the Secretary's remuneration.
- Leave the dull "business" that requires much discussion to the experienced Brethren on the committees, so that the lodge needs only to vote on their proposals. This would give more time for degree work and for other matters of interest.
- Establish dinner meetings as a regular part of each Masonic evening and invite the ladies to some of them. In England, in addition to the usual "ladies night," many lodges arrange a "mixed dinner" to follow one of their regular meetings. On that night the lodge would Open at 4:00 or 4:30 p.m., confer the Second Degree (which can be timed to the minute) and the lodge is Closed at 6:00 p.m. At 6:15 the ladies arrive to join in a one-hour cocktail party. (Male guests must be FreeMasons, who would attend the lodge.) Plenty of tables and chairs for the midde-aged and elderly. At 7:30 p.m. an excellent dinner, followed by Grace, Toasts and light entertainment. There are no Masonic proceedings at table, and this is always one of the most popular meetings of the year.
- Make it possible for E.A.'s and F.C.'s to attend every part of lodge work except degrees that they may not witness.
I realize that to achieve some of the changes envisaged here, several Grand Lodge Laws or Regulations may have to be modified, and that is not always easy. If the changes are deemed advisable, they could be made by edict of the Grand Lodge (or Grand Master) for a limited period of perhaps one or two years, to be duly ratified if they prove practicable and satisfactory. Few would deny that changes are needed as a simple defence measure against further losses, and this is the stage where active leadership is required.
But I believe we have one further duty that overrides all these measures. In a word we must make the lodge proceedings more interesting to every level of the membership, from the youngsters through to the seniors. After more than 50 years largely devoted to Masonic education, I am totally convinced that the most effective means of regaining lost members and binding them with silken bonds of interest and pleasure to their lodges, will be found in the field of "Masonic Education." I use that term with great diffidence, because it seems to imply many hours spent on difficult or uninteresting subjects, with examinations and all the miseries of compulsory learning.
Not so! I am sure that we can imbue the Brethren with a love of Masonry that springs from a real appreciation of the meaning of all that we say and do in lodge, and a better understanding of how it all began and grew into the great organization that it is today. I suggest:
- At least one meeting a year for a lecture by the Grand Lecturer, or a prominent speaker of your choice.
- Adopt the rule (as a basic principle) that 15 minutes or more are devoted at every meeting to a talk or discussion on a topic of Masonic interest or instruction. It could be a passage in the ritual, e.g., "What is a just and duly constituted lodge?" or "What is your favorite passage in the ritual?" to be led by a competent senior and followed by questions and discussion.
- The Masonic Service Association publishes a splendid collection of small pamphlets on subjects of high Masonic interest. Select one suitable to your needs and send a copy to each of your members, fixing the date of the meeting at which it will be read and discussed. (Allow 1 hour.)
- Invite the Grand Master, or one of the "top-liners" to come and address the lodge on a subject of general importance, or on the progress of Masonry, or the Masonic charities in your state.
- Award Masonic book prizes to the best of your ritual workers — to encourage the youngsters.
- Award Masonic book prizes to the best "leader" in a discussion program. (Award winners to be chosen by the Lodge Committee.)
- Every Lodge Bulletin to contain one question and answer of high Masonic interest taken from my 'FreeMason at Work' or from the many similar publications (e.g., The M.S.A.).
- Start a "Team" to demonstrate an eighteenth century Masonic ceremony (First or Third Degree) in costume. Train several additional Brethren as "reserves," ready to take over an officer's job if he is ill or unable to serve. (In England several of these teams are doing splendid work, travelling to different parts of the country to the lodges that invite them, there is usually a charge for admission and they raise large sums for purely Masonic charities.)
Finally, I was invited by the editor of 'The Freemason' to submit a note on Masonic education. I make no apology for enlarging the subject and daring to criticize and suggest remedies. I can only plead that the U.S.A. has become almost my second Masonic home, and I pray that my notes may be accepted in the spirit in which they are submitted.
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Brethren! If you did not read the previous article, I urge you to do so! It is not only interesting, it probably contains the seeds of salvaging the Masonic fraternity not only in the U.S.A. But Japan, and perhaps other places as well. Read it, think about it and then write grand master of the Grand Lodge of Japan or drop me a line to forward to him and in your letters, urge those changes that seem to be needed to help us here in Japan!