Carl H. Claudy 1924
Originally published in 1924 by The Masonic Service Association of the United State
Converted to text by Bro. Carl Johnson
"Well, what do you know about that!" exclaimed the Young Mason, as a dress-suited figure with a jewel on his coat stepped in front of the Altar. "That's Jamison, Past Master of Joppa-Henderson Lodge."
"I see it is," answered the Old Past Master. "But what is it that surprises you?"
"Why, that anyone from Joppa-Henderson should leave the sacred confines of his own lodge and come to a simple, democratic, every-day lodge like this one, let alone a Past Master. I never could get this 'silk- stocking' Masonic idea, anyhow. Of course, you know, they have two hundred dollar fees and forty dollar dues and you can't get in unless you have a bank account, an automobile, a wife with diamonds and a box at the opera."
"Is it as bad as all that?" asked the Old Past Master, smiling. "You didn't, by any chance, make application to Joppa-Henderson and get refused, did you?"
"I certainly did not. And I would not, under any circumstances. Why, you know it isn't Masonic. Here in this lodge- look along those benches. There is Branch, who lays bricks for a living, and Taggert, who is a bookkeeper, and sitting next to him is Wilson, who is a bank president, and there is Colton, street car conductor, and Dr. Baird, the X-ray specialist, and Hillyard, who sells ribbons down in the department store, and Ellsworth, who is a Senator-democratic, this lodge is! Here you find real Masonry. We really do not regard any man for his worldly distinctions here- but in Joppa-Henderson Lodge---"
"Have you ever heard of a man being refused in Joppa-Henderson because he isn't wealthy?" asked the Old Past Master.
"Certainly not! They never apply there," was the scornful answer.
"Ah! Now we are getting at the meat of the matter. My brother, you could travel about a bit to your advantage. You will find, if you look, there are many different kinds of lodges. For instance, in the metropolis is a French lodge; that is, almost entirely composed of Frenchmen, who are Americans, not French Masons. You wouldn't want to join that lodge, and perhaps they would rather you wouldn't. Yet it is a fine lodge of fine men. There is a Daylight Lodge in the city which meets in the afternoon. Its membership is almost wholly among theatrical and newspaper men who cannot meet at night. You wouldn't feel at home among them, perhaps, and yet they are good Masons. There are several lodges in this country composed almost wholly of Masonic students; you wouldn't feel at home with them, but that doesn't mean they are not good men and good Masons. And while it is true that the members of Joppa-Henderson Lodge are almost wholly well-to-do business and professional men, it happens so because the lodge was founded by fifty such, who naturally attracted to each other their own kind.
"If, indeed, what I may call a class lodge refuses an application because he doesn't belong to that class, that lodge is unMasonic. But I don't think it works that way. I think the class lodge attracts its own kind of people. I would call this a class lodge. It is a very democratic organization, with an intense pride in what you have just noted; that is, mixes all kinds of men in the Masonic cauldron and thus cooks a truly Masonic brew. You are attracted to this lodge for that reason, and so were the men you named. But men who are essentially aristocrats may not feel as much at home among the democrats as among their own kind; for such there is Joppa-Henderson Lodge.
"The ideal system of Masonry considers all men are alike and all lodges are alike, just as an ideal democracy is founded on the theory that all men are free and equal. This country is a republic, with democratic ideals, yet we all know that we are not all equal, and no words will make us so. The bricklayer isn't the financial equal of the banker, and the banker isn't the labor equal of the bricklayer. But don't get the idea that because two things are unequal, therefore one is better than the other. A circle and a triangle are not equal, but is one better than the other?
"Joppa-Henderson, and all so-called 'silk-stocking' lodges, newspaper lodges, class lodges of any kind, are not equal to each other; they are quite different. But that does not mean that one is any better or any worse than the other. And each attracts its own kind of men, to whom it gives a precious Masonic light, they all do their work. Without some of these class lodges, good men might not be attracted who now are; without Joppa-Henderson, for instance, we might not have visiting us tonight one of the finest Masons, most earnest Masonic workers and most brilliant Masonic officers this jurisdiction ever saw. So I say to you, my brother, beware how you judge the other fellow and his lodge, lest he, in turn misjudge you.
"I have known Joppa-Henderson Masons for years. I have visited their lodge many times. The way they do their work is an inspiration. And I have never known of a man rejected in that lodge that I couldn't guess why he was rejected; and it was never for anything else than his character. Money plays no part. They are as willing to take the hod-carrier or the chimney sweep as we, if he can live up to their schedule of finances. But the poor man isn't attracted to that lodge; he goes to a lodge where he finds the simple democracy we have here.
"All lodges who do honest and sincere work, my brother, have their places in the great system we call Masonry. There is room for all kinds; the high, the low, the rich, the poor, the democratic, the aristocratic. This lodge, with an income from dues of twenty-five hundred dollars last year, spend a few dollars more than a thousand for charity. Joppa- Henderson with an income from dues of sixteen thousand, spent ten thousand in charity. Charity is but one measuring stick, but by it, they measure up."
"Yet you," countered the Young Brother, "stick to this lodge, and don't demit to Joppa-Henderson."
"Perhaps I can do more real Masonic work here," smiled the Old Past Master, looking the younger brother full in the face.
The younger brother had the grace to blush.