I am a Mason and I think I am a good Mason; I attend my lodge on a regular basis, take part in all of the Ritual work, participate in lodge activities of one form or another and try to live, as I understand a good Mason should.
And now you are asking me if I would be interested in joining the Shrine. Well, to be honest there are several things that bother me about Shriners and since you ask, I will list them, in no particular order, and let you respond to them. Maybe then I will give serious thought to your request.
Concern 1 – Shriners are “party people” and many do not know when to stop. They drink too much and become rowdy which projects a poor public image.
Response – I am a proud member of Shriners International and I do not drink, nor has anyone ever tried to press me to. Shriners are Masons and 99.9% of them are moderate in their habits and keenly aware of projecting a favorable image at all times. One does not lose his Masonic identity by becoming a Shriner, rather, he is provided with an opportunity to enhance it.
Concern 2 – I have heard that some people become Masons just so they can become Shriners and they give absolutely nothing to Masonry once they have joined the Shrine.
Response – Yes, perhaps there have been some who joined Freemasonry with the ultimate goal of joining the Shrine but it has been my experience, that the most active Shriners are also the men who are most active in their lodge, in their District and in other ancillary bodies. The ranks of Tunis Shrine include a Past Grand Master of this Jurisdiction (me), several Past and Present District Deputy Grand Masters, a Past Grand Registrar, Past Grand Stewards , Past Assistant Grand Chaplains and many Past Masters of Lodges. In addition you will find that many of the active members of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite and Royal Arch Masons of Ontario are also members of Tunis Temple. Active Shriners are Active Masons and these men are usually the backbones of their lodges, their Districts and other Masonic bodies.
And besides, I think you will agree that any man who has gone through the Degrees of Masonry will have benefited from exposure to our Ritual and the life lessons it provides. Does it really matter if these lessons are played out in one body or another as long as they have been internalized and are practiced?
Concern 3 – I have heard that you must have considerable wealth to become a Shriner.
Response – this is another misconception. The Initiation fee for becoming a Shriner is modest in comparison to other bodies, annual dues are certainly not extravagant and Charity, that cornerstone which all Masons profess to admire, is left up to the discretion of each individual. You may participate as your circumstances in life dictate, but I am certain that once you experience first-hand that it is that Shriners do for disadvantaged children, you will find the true meaning of Charity.
Concern 4 – I am already busy and I am afraid the Shrine will demand too much time.
Response – the nice thing about the Shrine is that you can be as involved as you want to be. Tunis Shrine meetings are held sporadically and while some Units meet on a regular basis, others do not meet as often. The Shrine offers a broad spectrum of activities so that you may participate in your interest area but we also recognize that time is a precious commodity and must be allocated according to individual circumstances.
Concern 5 – The Shrine is run by cliques
Response – I hate cliques and will have little to do with them. As I try to be a fairly active member of the Shrine, I believe my deeds speak louder than words. In simple terms, if your concern was concurred with I would not be writing this.
Concern 6 – What does the Shrine have to offer me?
Response – There are so many things – an opportunity to become a member of the greatest philanthropic organization in the World; an opportunity to enjoy the fellowship of good men in an atmosphere that is somewhat more relaxed than one usually finds in a lodge room; an opportunity to become involved in any number of clubs and units that provide entertainment, lasting friendships that permit you to use those innate talents with which you have been blessed; an opportunity to participate in activities with your wife/partner and an opportunity to grow in terms of civic character.
We want you to become a member of Shriners International but at the same time we want you to remain an active and committed member of your Lodge. We are fully cognizant of the fact that the Lodge is the Cornerstone of all Masonic activity and we know that by keeping strong, healthy and vibrant lodges, all Masonic related bodies will prosper. Thus we urge you to remain an active Mason, but at the same time, ask you to consider involvement in Shriners International. It is through your Shrine membership that you may assist in keeping Shriners Hospital for Children – Canada and Shriners Hospitals for Children – Boston alive so that we may be able to help those who cannot help themselves
If you are a Shriner, why not pass this to a friend, or better still, post it on the Lodge Room Bulletin Board so that all may get the message.
If you are interested and want more information please call either myself, M.W. Bro. Don Mumby or R.W. Bro. Perry McConnell, Recorder, or our Membership Chairman. Our telephone numbers and e-mail addresses are:
Perry McConnell, Recorder
Peter Rippstein, Membership Chairman