From the Wise Master (December, 2011)

posted May 23, 2015, 2:19 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 23, 2015, 2:19 PM ]

John Unger
Brethren all, 

The following is an excerpt from an article by the Grand Lecturer of the Grand Lodge of Hawaii, published in the Fall 2011 edition of the Hawaii Freemason.
Should we rely on the Investigating Committee?
By Dennis A. Ing, PGM, Grand Lecturer
It used to be a lot more difficult to get into our fraternity. Lodges were full, applications were abundant and blackballs were common. Nowadays we suffer from dwindling rosters, and are ecstatic just to receive an application. Thus, we happily welcome almost anyone to receive the Degrees. and casting the dreaded black cube has become akin to an act of treason.
We've all heard the passionate declarations by one or more of our brethren that a black ball rejects not only the applicant, but the two recommenders and the investigating committee as well. Therefore, the argument continues, we should not be so quick to substitute our own judgment for those who supposedly know the applicant better than we, or who spent the time and effort to investigate and report on the application.
I am NOT advocating the black ball, and I do think it is un-Masonic to "cube" someone for no sound reason. However, I wish to point out that our faith in the recommenders is often misplaced. We see it all the time. Your close friend comes up to you before the stated meeting and says, “Brother Dennis, I want you to meet Joe Applicant. He's really a good guy. Can you sign his application as a recommender?”
Or how about the newbie who has come to several Lodge dinners, meets a bunch of the members, and even helps in the kitchen. You engage in a couple of conversations with him, and he seems like a “nice guy”. Just before the next stated meeting he comes to you with his application and asks you to recommend him for membership.
In either of the foregoing instances (or in similar circumstances) are you going to turn the request down? Probably not. So the argument that we should trust in the judgment of the recommenders does not always ring true. At most we are often relying on only one recommender, who has vouched for the applicant's character to the second recommender. And what if the top-line signer himself just met the applicant B over the phone?
Thus, the determination of the worthiness of the applicant will most often depend upon the judgment of the investigators. This is why a thorough investigation is essential to the welfare of the Lodge and to the Craft. Whenever we cast our ballots for an applicant whom we do not know (or whom we do not know well), we are trusting that the Master and the Investigating Committee have done their jobs properly.
I thought that this would get out to more Masons than something in any one Lodge’s Trestleboard.

John Unger
Wise Master