Every traditional Aussie man will have sung it at least once or twice with his mates, perhaps late at night. It is all part of our real fair-dinkim Australian male culture – or used to be! It is sung to the tune Beautiful Dreamer:
“It's lonesome away from your kindred and all,
By the campfire at night where the wild dingoes call;
But there's nothing so lonesome, so morbid or drear,
Than to stand in a bar of a pub with no beer.”
The thought of a pub with no beer is depressing enough. But for a Freemason, how about a Lodge with no Candidates and no Degree ritual? I am referring of course to what seems to be the latest idea of having Fellowship Lodges. One could be forgiven if they were called “Castrated Lodges”.
Perhaps we will have Fellowship Lodges which I understand will be Warranted just so that we can meet fraternally – what a joke!! Would it mean that when our Brethren go down to the local pub after a meeting, the Carringbush, the meeting needs to be covered by a Warrant? If so, perhaps we should re-write those original lyrics for a new Lodge song as fundraiser starting with:
“It is lonesome away from your Brethren and all,
In the lodge room at night where the rules spoil it all,
But there’s nothing so lonesome, so morbid or drear,
Than to be in a Lodge with no work to give it some cheer.”
But it certainly raises a number of issues that need to be addressed. In Warranted Fellowship lodges, what would you do if somebody wants to become a Freemason? Would you say that you are not trusted to bring him in or someone else must do the ceremony? What impression of impotence would be left in his mind? How would the members retain their interest and skills if they are not permitted to do any of the Masonic Degree work? What will be the standing of Lodge Past Grand Lodge Officers – will they be promoted without effort or left in Limbo? Will we have no more new Grand Rank conferment's in “Castrated Lodges”? What happens to such a lodge if there is no input of new members? Do we not run the danger of creating classes of Freemason; those in fully Warranted Lodges and those in “Castrated Lodges” when one of our principal objectives is equality? These Lodges would, however, make a great “stage” and provide a captive audience for the performance of demonstrations by the ritual bores. No evidence of scientific method again, just guesswork.
Last time I suggested that The Vestibule was a likely destination – perhaps it will be in “Limbo Lodges”! But as the ritual tells us that we should try and excel in what is good and great, no second best. Has the time come to return to the old concept of Travelling Warrants – we could have something like a “Flying Squad” in each District, perhaps under he auspices of the District Coordinator? Strong lodges too could be authorized to travel and assist. Would this be considered too revolutionary; too hard to digest by the system?
Travelling Warrants were the way we started: Travelling Warrants of Regiments on duty in the new Colony of New South Wales. When sufficient members were attracted to Freemasonry a static Warrant for a new lodge could be issued. There are often vast distances between towns of small populations in the country but in these centers there are men who are now unaffiliated Freemasons, often because their small lodge has been closed or centralisation requiring unreasonable travelling distances. There are also others who would like to “take the step”, often their sons, grandsons, nephews and so on, but facilities are not locally available. Travelling Warrants would rejuvenate by supplementing numbers until the local membership was strong enough to be issued with a Static Warrant. We cannot afford to loose a nucleus of a lodge, let alone a Secretary – in the worst case could a Secretary be appointed a “Lodge Custodian” with authority to retain the Warrant in abeyance? Surely these measures would be more desirable a neutering policy.
Fraternal best wishes to all