Mencius Moldbug, one of our favorites, once was heartened to see the rise of “tweed rides.” Similarly, I see hope for The Craft with the rise of Traditional Observance lodges. What could be better? White tie and tails, white gloves and an emphasis on ritual. How deliciously Anglo-Saxon. TO lodges, whose brethren make it a point to stand apart, also seem to have been taught in that dying school of ritual – the one in which getting the words just right is less important than delivery. We should still trouble ourselves to get the words right, but proper delivery also signals understanding. You can teach a parrot how to recite something, though that is probably a violation of your obligation(s). It takes a man, hopefully of some learning, to deliver beautiful ritual.
There are multiple appeals of Traditional Observance. It strikes me as being an homage to the past, to those who have gone this way before. It is a silent, perhaps subconscious, acknowledgement that something today is horribly awry. There’s no need to detail the several offences of modernity today; it is enough to notice the desire of Masons to reestablish the connexion to a more civilized age. If you doubt the veracity of that last statement, consider how many good men were killed in the last century to “make the world safe for democracy.”
TO lodges also stand apart from your standard issue blue lodges. How terribly elitist of them, insisting on standards of dress and comportment. Jeff Spicoli would not approve. I rather like the respect it shows, not only for the Lodge, the Master and officers, but that it makes the Lodge a special place, a sacred space, which is as it should be.
Does it not also confer a degree of respectability? Have you ever gone to your local watering hole after a degree, with 20 Masons dressed to the nines? I have. People regard you differently. They defer to you. Save the work wear for your volunteer days.
A jacket is too much? A proper suit would be better, and formal dress would be better than that. Honestly, I can’t even imagine walking into a lodge room, in which a tiled Lodge will be opened, without at least a blazer and tie. Is that so hard? I don’t care about the shoes; if you have trouble with them, due to advanced age, wear black, Velcro shoes. But put on a damned jacket. Not a windbreaker; a jacket.
Before my three readers rise up in bloody revolution, let me say that my rules most certainly do not apply to wearing your “gear” from other Masonic groups (yes, even your motorcycle club) or your dress uniform. A quick aside – guys, give up the salute during the Pledge. I am not a military man, but you look ridiculous, even to me, saluting the flag indoors, uncovered and out of uniform. If you must set yourselves apart, stand at attention. That you willingly depart from military tradition, saluting the flag at inappropriate times, tells me you are insecure about your other accomplishments and are falling back on your service. My dear brother, your measure will not be taken only by your service, for which we thank you, but by the degree to which you are willing to think (rationally) about the great issues of our day. And how you respond to them, whether by charity or Reaction.
Finally, the Lodge is, as I mentioned earlier, a sacred space. There should be no clock and no phones. Put on a jacket, an apron and govern yourselves accordingly.