Yesterday was another evening in the welcoming arms of Lodge Academia, an excellent Lodge of Instruction, which also saw Grand Master of California, Melvyn B. Stein visiting. To recap, Academia is a young Traditional Observance lodge, and this night exemplified their philosophy: dresscode of tux or tails, candlelit lodge, demonstration quality ritual, interesting lectures, good dining and spirited discussion. Visiting speaker was John G. Shattuck who really tore into American freemasonry as he saw it today: hardly worthy of its name. He talked about his own experiences in Arizona revitalising a lodge, Adobe, not exactly as TO, but according to similar principles. It was some heavy stuff, particularly with the GM there, and it might have seemed confrontational or polemic. But as the words were so vividly brought to life by the brethren of Academia, it in no way came across as just empty talk. This was confirmed by the comments from several first-time visiters, such as “I have never in forty years of freemasonry seen anything like this”, “this is what freemasonry looks like in my mind”, “an aspect of freemasonry that I want to see more of” and “an eye-opener”. A few of the Grand Lodge line also clearly expressed that they liked what they saw. At the end of the day, as was also emphasised by Br. Shattuck, this is not a matter of “our way is better” – there are more ways than one to practise freemasonry, and it is something that has to happen in the individual lodge, as a collective decision, and over time. To be clear: The theme of the evening was not divisive, but words and ritual that struck a chord. But the ball has definitely been put into play. Kudos to Academia.
Finally, a few pics of the Oakland Scottish Rite Tempel where Academia meets that I took on arriving (clickable, as are all images on this blog):