As All Who Have Come this Way Before: Thoughts on One Day Classes
There are some Grand Lodges running a one-day classes to mass initiate a group of candidates. Essentially, they go through all three degrees in one day. There is only one actual candidate and the rest are viewing from the seats. There is very little if any memorization work involved.
Many of us when joining Freemasonry, don’t really know what we are getting ourselves in to. Sure, we’ve done preliminary reading, research, and talking with others. But at the end of the day, we can’t verify if what’s said is true until we embark on the journey ourselves.
One of the assurances given us is: as all have done who have gone this way before. This simple phrase has a lot of meaning. 1) That you know all the men in the lodge, as well as all the great men of history, have experienced the exact same thing you are about to go through. If if you are familiar of their character, should assuage some of the fears. This is not some degrading college fraternity. 2) You are about the experience the exact same thing that all Masons around the world have gone through.
When comparing any topic, I usually like to consider the extremes to find the issue at hand and take a middle ground. Let’s take this to the extreme: If going through the motions or viewing the ritual makes one a Mason, or if our motives is to initiate as many men due to time constraints, why not have an online video? Men can pay to view the video online then TADA! They are now masons (I’m saying this facetiously here.)
We CANNOT Cheapen the experience. We need to stop making Masons by title only.
Some arguments I have heard for the one day Classes include: “What if a brother in the military is being deployed? What if a lodge doesn’t have enough members to confer the degree.” You’ll hear me harp on this a lot. This should be the exception and NOT the rule.
If anything, I think these would be the only circumstances a candidate should go through such a class. Even then, there are ways to accommodate these situations. A military brother could simply wait. Nothing wrong with that. A visiting lodge, or even Grand Lodge Officers, could help the lodge put on the degree.
I would imagine the candidate being deployed would want to still have the full experience. President Abraham Lincoln submitted a petition to his local lodge but decided to postpone until after his election. As you know how the story goes, he never made it past his presidency.