Material objects convey culture and reflect shared experiences that span time and geography. Few organizations have as rich a material culture as Freemasonry. Brothers’ lodge attire, jewelry, Masonic gifts, lodge rooms, and ceremonial tools have a profound effect on the member experience – and they do so by design.
Creating a Culture That Unites
By Arthur H. Weiss
Junior Grand Warden
A key element of any successful lodge is its culture, and in particular, the material aspect of its culture. Material culture deals with the physical space and structure of your lodge; the tangible objects that you use to symbolize, relate to, and understand our teachings; and, perhaps most importantly, the relationships your brethren develop and value as a result of working with these material objects.
What we feel when we enter a lodge room or social hall – the peace and harmony, security, trust, or special memories – reinforces the relationships we have fostered with our brethren over time, which in turn make up the core of our culture.
Table lodges and festive boards are one element of material culture that I particularly enjoy. Growing out of European lodge traditions, these lively events combine ritualistic elements with food and drink. Whether they are formal lodge rituals or more casual occasions, they are an opportunity for building relationships and lasting memories – a living vehicle for growing lodge culture.
To reinvigorate brethren’s relationships in my own lodge, a wise past master suggested an informal festive board that included spouses and friends, music and singing, and obligatory toasts. It has been such a success that our lodge will soon host its 22nd! Over the years, this event has been cemented into the culture of our lodge – and we wouldn’t be the same without it.
From those that have continued for decades to those hosted by our lodges under dispensation, I have yet to see a lodge that did not benefit from a festive board. The relationships they strengthen and the memories they build can make your lodge a fun and exciting place to be. Consider slamming a cannon or two – while adding a new bit of material culture to your lodge!
Arthur H. Weiss
Junior Grand Warden
More from this issue:
Freemasonry’s material culture holds deep meaning for its members – and the same can be said for organizations throughout the world. Here, we look at examples of material culture within the fraternity and the wider world that convey emotional and experiential significance.