Friendly Tips from Far East Lodge No. 1 F. & A. M.
May 1982 – Oct. 1982
FROM THE EAST
With this issue, I will conclude my second year in the East. A year that has seen no forward progress but no major retreats. The "ISSUE OF CONCERN" remains, and, except for those Brethren whose letters are reproduced below, no response from any responsible members of Grand Lodge or other lodge members has been forthcoming — much as I expected! Therefore, I have no reason to believe that my "ISSUE OF CONCERN" is of concern to anyone but myself and a very few others. So be it: From such message we should learn.
One petition, one degree, one Dual Member, six Restorations, three Demissions, and two deaths — these are the numbers thus far for 1982. Potential losses by non-payment of dues on 31 December 1982 is six. Local active membership probably will remain fairly stable at five always available; one available when in country; two to four occasionally available and 10 never available. Looking ahead into 1983, we will probably move into new permanent facilities. It is my understanding the the Board of Directors of Masonic Hall, Ltd. are close to a decision on the facilities to be purchased. Another bright spot for 1983 will be a reduction in the cost of dues for our overseas Brethren. Because of a predominantly favorable rate of exchange during 1982 and projected for 1983, I am setting the 1983 dues for our overseas members at $20.00. The enclosed dues notice indicates this new rate.
I have no further prognostications to make for 1983. I sincerely regret that 1982 was not a better year. With luck, and the continued dedication and active participation of our Japanese Brethren, this lodge may not have to close its doors in 1983; at least we pray so!
With love and continued concern, I am yours
Sincerely and fraternally.
THOMAS HODGES, PM
(and Acting Secretary, and Editor, FTs)
Responses to "Issue of Concern"
To date, the following responses to my "ISSUE OF CONCERN" have been received:
MWB Chester O. NIELSEN, PGM
POW! Right between the eyes! POW! Right in the Kisser! Are you still the WM of #1? Or has a group of American Brethren convinced our Grand Master to remove you for reasons of HERESY, SEPARATISM or whatever? But let's face it, you've got some damn good points in your 'Editorial' and I agree generally, altho I don't know exactly how one could put such revolutionary principles into effect. Obviously you have pondered long and delved deeply into your innermost thoughts and experiences before putting them down in black and white. If I took as long to draft this letter, it would be dated sometime in December; what year I don't know!
I would like to comment on your thought-provoking ideas. It would be interesting to compile and analyze statistics of other Lodges in our Jurisdiction based on your A, B & C at top of page 3. This would add emphasis on your ideas if stats came out somewhere near the same. I'm sure that there are Lodges in even worse condition; for the Monthly Bulletins on Petitions, Dimits and SPND's reflect little activities in such Lodges as #5, 6, 9, 17 and 21.
Later on in question #1 you ask regarding invitation to membership. This is now being encouraged in many stateside G.L.s but with specific reference to men of good character and respect. Also emphasized is the 'own free will & accord' bit. You can certainly tell a prospect that he will not be invited outright, but that you consider him to be above average and worthy of membership in our time-honored Fraternity.
On your question #2: Look at Star-in-the-East 640. All business is conducted in the EA degree. The restrictions to an EA or FC are: not being allowed to ballot, hold office or wear jewelry. But all MASONS are a part of the business of the Lodge!
Q #3 & #4: Good thinking! All you ever need when travelling in foreign countries is a knowledge of signs, grips and words, and a paid up dues card! Let those who aspire to higher offices learn the ritual! Put new members to work on committees, or the Lodge System of Education. Here they can research as much as they want and can even read their portions of lessons while in session. Have informal study groups among just a few Brethren in homes or places away from Lodge Halls. These last thoughts permit a member some independence as to time & effort he wants to put forth.
Q #5: The Ancient Landmarks and long-established traditions: all from western thinking minds, would be difficult to change because of our Cultural Foundations. If we 'Westerners' were to accept whatever develops out of such changes as you recommend without trying to understand the 'Oriental' approach, perhaps the Craft in Japan would benefit. Your thoughts from paragraph 1 on page 4 and on through page 5 cover this very well. Who knows, Tom, perhaps some day you and I will be ASSOCIATE MEMBERS of the G.L. of Japan!
You well know, I'm sure that if such a radical departure from TRADITION was to happen, 90% of the established Grand Lodges would withdraw recognition. But if it does happen I would be glad to become an 'Honorary Member' of the newly formed "'MAVERICK' G.L. of MASONRY in JAPAN for JAPANESE MASONS!"
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WB Jack C. BARRS PM
Received the Feb 82 to Apr 82 issue of the FTs today (and my 2nd notice for dues). It was very good to hear from the Lodge (even if it was only you). Sorry to be so late with my dues (please find enclosed).
The front of the FT's was labeled "Issue of Concern." I had no idea just how much concern. I was very sad to hear about your recent illness. I wish you the very best and wish for you a recovery which will enable you to see what you and I worked so hard for — a prosperous and thriving Lodge.
I hope that the new Lodge hall brings to Masonry in Japan what the old one did — in reverse. I hope that you will go from where you are now — very few Brethren and a new Lodge — to many Brethren and an old Lodge full of Fraternal unity. I think you have a lot of good ideas and your experience in Japan makes you eminently qualified to judge. I wish you the best in getting people to listen.
I can only wish you the best, as I do not foresee in the near future being able to return to Japan. My job is very pressing and I will be retiring in about 2 years so I must prepare for that. I leave the options open though and truly do hope to see you again. I never agreed with you about the property, but I was your Brother so I respected you — and you me I believe.
Before the FT's arrived, I fully had my mind made up to request a Dimit but I have changed my mind. Though I may never return to Japan, I will not be the second Past Master to Dimit. The FT's indicate that only WB Wolfe has dimitted. I don't know whether that is accurate or not, but symbolically it was significant to me. Therefore I remain with you in my thoughts.
But the thing that sealed my decision was the article on page 3 of the Shimbun entitled "Go Placidly" within which it is written:
'And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.'
It was not clear to me. But maybe one day it will be. I wish that for you also. I wish you success, prosperity and just reward for your labors.
(Editor's Note: WB WOLF, the Master of this lodge UD did, in fact, dimit many years ago BUT only because the Lodge wished to make him an Honorary Member not because WB WOLF desired to dimit from the lodge which he was most instrumental in establishing. WB WOLF was subsequently granted Honorary Membership by the lodge and as such was Honorary Life Member #001 on our rolls for many years. The only other PM of this Lodge to dimit is WB DeLUNA who, I believe,dimitted primarily over his differences with the decision to withdraw the court case over the property and his personal dislike for some of the members of this lodge still active.)
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Brother Earl A. HARRIS
I received your Friendly Tips today and it was a real pleasure. First, just to have something to holler about, my birth date is October 7, 1923, and not July 10, 1923, as stated in the Honor Roll. Enough said.
Worshipful, I agree 1000% with you on the way of gaining more Japanese Brethren. In your letter to the Brethren, From the East, you listed several things of which the stock answer is, 'Its never been done that way', which to me is another cop-out. On asking people to petition for degrees, I can see no reason why not. If the person asked is of good moral character. On the membership into the fraternity, is it not so that the Entered Apprentice Mason is still a mason and has been given certain signs and words which make him a Brother entitled to enter the lodge anytime the lodge is working within the 1st degree, and to be called Brother by all in attendance from the Worshipful Master to the youngest/newest entered apprentice? So why is a piece of paper entitling the Brother as a member of any lodge so important that one has to become a Master Mason before total acceptance. I think the ritual of all degrees would be more effective if the person receiving the degree observed it and the reason of its importance explained, granted only one portion of a degree would or should be participated in and that is the raising of an individual to the sublime degree of Master Mason. Of course there are many of the answers that can be given for the questions. But I am in total agreement with you.
Within the history of masonry in the U.S. our Grand Lodges made changes from the 'Laws' of the lodges in Europe and elsewhere. They were adapted to our way of thinking and belief.
So to me the most logical thing would be to let our lodges and brethren start to work. We have given them what we felt was necessary in masonry. It is time for them to go out on their own. Sometimes it appears to me that we as Americans try and force our wills on other people's thinkings and ways of life. This is wrong. I spent many years in Japan, had a lot of friends there and on some things we thought alike, but on others I could not understand nor could they on some specific ways of my thinking.
I feel that the guides or answers you gave at the end of your letter are part of the answer. All members of the Grand Lodge or officers should be Japanese citizens and if they request and at their will and pleasure, individuals other nationalities be used strictly as advisors.
I also feel that all lodges in Japan within the civilian boundary should have all Japanese officers. The only lodges not required to do this would be those on base military lodges. However, they would have to abide by and support the laws, regulations, etc., of the Grand Lodge of Japan.
And I will go even farther. In all but maybe two or three lodges, Blacks are excluded from becoming masons. when asked why, the standard stock answer is 'They weren't born free'. I disagree. Since the end of slavery every Black has been born free. And I have met some whom I know would have been good masons and I'd be proud to call Brother.
My love and prayers will always be with Far East Lodge #1. Many of my old friends have passed on thru this life, but, we have formed and nurtured the infant in masonry about as far as we can. It is now time for this infant, The Grand Lodge, to grow up and become truly the Grand Lodge of Japan.
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Brother Gilbert S. HOWE
Thanks for the FTs. This last one you really laid it on the line. You said a lot of what I have always thought, mainly that some masonic rules should be more bendable. We have lost a few would-be-brothers because they could not memorize the degrees. I used to coach a lot after I was raised and several I coached quit rather than try and memorize the degrees. The WM told me when I mentioned it that if they couldn't hack it, tough, and they were dropped. Of course with things the way they are over there now, getting candidates must be almost impossible. Good ones I mean. I am like you, moving from the old lodge was not exactly a holiday. Even tho I've been away over 18 years I still miss the little ole place. I must tell you that your article was excellent and I'm sure a lot of the Brothers will agree with you. I don't have any suggestions to make as I know the rules won't be changed and it should be up to the Grand Lodge to do something. We lost the Eastern Star and I suppose that other lodge (640) will close also. It's a mess no doubt.
I see I have been a member for over 30 years. Sure doesn't seem like it was that long ago, altho I well remember the day I was raised. About every thing that happened is clear to me. After putting in over 28 years in the Army and being a mason for over thirty years seems to make me an old man. Ha!
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Brother Richard B. ELDRIDGE
Your masterful, though sorrowful, description of the present status of our Lodge No. 1 in the Feb.-Apr. '82 'F.T.' has been a burden on my mind since it arrived. Also, I am particularly impressed by your forthrightness and courage in so clearly setting forth your own analysis of what appears to be the cultural block standing in the way of what should be the natural evolutionary development of Masonry in the great and progressive country, Japan.
More personally than the foregoing, may I congratulate you on your display of fortitude relative to your cardiac problem. Having myself survived two heart attacks, believe me I quite appreciate and understand and honor your philosophical conclusions. I am reminded of a prayer of profound comfort to me that was written long ago and included in the Book of Common Prayer
'O God, whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered: make us, we pray, deeply aware of the shortness and uncertainty of human life; and let your Holy Spirit lead us in holiness and righteousness all our days; that when we shall have served you in our generation, we may be gathered to our ancestors, having the testimony of a good conscience, in .... the confidence of a certain faith, in the comfort of a religious and holy hope, in favor with you, our God, and in perfect charity with the world. All this we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.'
I make bold to offer one suggestion that possibly may serve as an answer to your question No. 1 with reference to the matter of 'solicitation'. That book which is 'The Rule and Guide of (masonic) Faith' quotes Jesus in Matthew 5:13-16 saying something very pertinent to this matter. In effect what he said was, if you have something good that you'd like to share with your neighbors for heaven's sake! don't hide it; put it out where it can be seen, admired and sought after. ADVERTISE. No better example for us in this respect is the success of our wonderful Shriners' Hospitals. And where does that all begin? Right at the starting point — with a candidate for the 1st degree in Masonry. How many Buicks do you suppose have been sold by the slogan, 'Ask the man who owns one'? well, as an ex-adverting man I could go on & on, but you, in principle, have already raised the issue. Keep up the good work and more power to you.
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Brother Donelson B. POLING
Thank you... for the Friendly Tips and the warning about the future of our Far East Masons. I just wish I could be close to Yokohama and attend more of our Masonic Meetings. Again thanks.
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Brother Robert F. BOWERS
I received your most welcome letter and my 1982 dues card and I wish to thank you. I enjoy reading the Friendly Tips from our lodge and I wish there was something I could do about the problem of the lodge. When I took life membership out and we allowed Japanese personnel in and we believed we would always have a lodge there. If Lodge #1 F&AM closes, what happens to all our Brothers who have a life membership? Will the Grand Lodge transfer us to another lodge?"
(Editor's Note: what exactly would happen in the event this lodge were to go dark is not precisely known at this time. Several options would be available to Grand Lodge, one of which would be to combine this lodge with another lodge on the roll of the Grand Lodge. Regardless of what might be done, existing members of Far East Lodge No. 1, whether life members or not, would be permitted to remain members of the Masonic Fraternity in Japan so long as such a Fraternity may exist, and every one would be informed of exactly what the situation is and would likely continue to be. Have no fear that you will (or would) not have a Masonic Home. Such is not likely ever to happen.)
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Brother Garfield T. ROBERTS
Sometime ago I received the Feb 1982-Apr 1982 edition of the Friendly Tips. Needless to say, I have read your letter several times, and feel the sadness that you and the other active Brethren obviously feel concerning the lodge.
When a situation as this arises, there is no simple and easy solution as you already know. However, I am writing this letter to express my opinion and feelings. I have been a proud member of our lodge for over 23 years, and certainly would hate to change my membership to another lodge. However, when the inevitable is obvious, I cannot see any reason to delay the agony. Therefore, I suggest that we merge with another lodge.
Please give my fraternal greetings to the other good Brethren you see, but I am sure there are none there now who were in the lodge while I was there.
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WB Bruce A. RIFFLE, PM
Had hoped to repIy early on your letter of 23 June to RWB Johnston, DGM.
Chet Nielsen, PGM, stopped by 27 August from Seattle via Reno en route to San Francisco to visit Louis Vanvig. He mentioned your letter and that he had sent you his comments. This prompted me to put same on the front burner.
Must say you have made a valiant effort and much good common sense in what you have said! Have you had many replies?
Any worthwhile comments from the DGM?
Am amazed that a DGM is trying to get any Lodge in Japan to clear up, correct, restore or recover any of the members covered in enclosures (1), (2) and (3). The majority are in countries other than Japan.
I feel that the 'key' to lack of Japanese door knockers is in trying to impress a Western custom on an Eastern product. In fact, your research on Japanese candidate progress seems to bring out the old feeling: ' — and the twain shall never meet.'
If Masonic teachings could be rewritten to parallel Japanese history then perhaps it would have more meaning, otherwise nigh impossible.
But, check with MWB Nishiyama — he knows, for he wrote and rewrote the Japanese Masonic Monitor.
All's well here Tom, regards to all the Brethren who may remember me, two years in Dec since my partial laryngectomy surgery. Still active and Lodge Secretary hoping to close out eight years in December."
* * *
BROTHER JAMES MURPHY
BORN: 04 JULY 1910
RAISED: 27 FEBRUARY 1957
Brother James MURPHY was born in Fall River, Mass. member of this lodge more than 25 years.
Rest in Peace.
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MEMBERS WHO ARE PAST MASTERS OF OTHER LODGES
- CARLOS RODRIQUES-JIMINEZ, PGM
- 1944 — Loyalty Lodge No. 19, Caracas, Venzuela Constitution
- LEO L. NOEL
- 1950 — Solano Lodge No. 229, Vallejo, California Constitution
- CHARLES P. BISCHOFBERGER
- 1957 — Kansai Lodge No. 12, Kobe, Japan Constitution
- JOHN A. ALFORD
- 1957 — Sagamihara Lodge No. 13, Zama, Japan Constitution
- WILBERT H. ARNBERG
- 1958 — Munster Lodge No. 833, Ulm, German Constitution
- JAY E. WATT
- 1959 — Sagamihara Lodge No. 13, Zama, Japan Constitution
- KAZUYUKI KUNIOKA
- 1960 — Sagamihara Lodge No. 13, Zama, Japan Constitution
- STANLEY M. SAGARA
- 1960 — Kantō Lodge No. 143, Tōkyō, Philippine Constitution
- MYRON G. BETTENCOURT
- 1963 — Lodge Star in the East No. 640, Yokohama, Scottish Constitution
- ALEXANDER D. R. BLAKE
- 1968 — Security Lodge No. 581, Bakersfield, California Const.
- H. DEAN SHERRILL
- 1968 — MacArthur Lodge No. 153, Seoul, Philippine Constitution
- HAYAO ŌNISHI, DGM
- 1971 — Tōkyō Yūai Lodge No. 11, Tōkyō, Japan Constitution
- HISATERU NAKANO
- 1972 — Tōkyō Yūai Lodge No. 11, Tōkyō, Japan Constitution
- ROWLAND P. HUNT
- 1977 — Tōkyō Lodge No. 2, Tōkyō, Japan Constitution
- BYRON D. BROWN
- 1981 — Yokosuka Lodge No. 20, Yokosuka, Japan Constitution