Subcommittee Report – Prepared by Larry Bradley
Over the past few months I have spoken to a number of Shriners, Masons and other people who have had some affiliation with the Shriners regarding the topic “Fun in the Shrine”. This report is a summary of some of the things I have heard. Let me first of all point out that the general public by far believe that the Shriners are a happy-go-lucky bunch who thrive on having fun. Nobles and their Ladies do not consistently believe this to be true. The feeling among some Nobles and Ladies is that the Shrine seems to be losing its fun side for a number of reasons. In this report I will summarize what I have heard and attempt to outline some of the recommendations that have been expressed to me.
When the Shrine was created in 1870 by Nobles Fleming and Florence, their intent was to create a fraternity for Masons stressing, “Fun and Fellowship”. Later the Shrine took on its philanthropical character as the fraternity adopted “helping sick and burnt children” as an outreach objective. In discussing fun in the Shrine with Nobles I heard a familiar theme many times, “I probably would not have stayed in the shrine except I know I am doing it for the children”. What is happening in the Shrine, to make Noble make a statement like that? Several Shriners told me that the Shrine has become all work (fundraising) and there doesn’t seem to be any fun anymore.
Other concerns I have heard expressed is that Shriners are first of all Masons and the decorum and dignity that Masons give each other in a Lodge far too often finds its absence in the Shrine. The tone in which Shriners at times address each other is at appears void of respect and would be difficult to accept as meeting each other on the “level”. Judgmental comments, resentment, and group criticism will not lend itself to being fun. Therefore to have fun, there needs to be a tone of fellowship in all of our activities and a recognition that we are volunteers. We are all Masons and Brothers cooperating and working together for our cause. We are all giving up of our personal and family time for the noble cause of Shrinedom.
Another area which appears to be a source of frustration to some Shriners is one common to all organizations and that is “it’s always the same half a dozen doing everything.” Fun is everyone doing their part to lighten the load. There may be some considerations here for the Camel herders when doing their recruitment.
To keep fun and to continue to develop fun in the Shrine today it appears evident that consideration will have to be given to our aging Nobles and their Ladies. As our members age, personal interests and schedules change. Our activities will need adjust to these changes that are aging population is experiencing.
Another concern that some Shriners felt was a conflict to having fun is the increasing cost to participate in Shrine activities as such as our quarterly meetings and our Ceremonials. Again our aging population consist of more and more retired Nobles who are now living on fixed incomes and pensions. Summer Ceremonials and quarterly meeting involve gas expense, hotels, meals etc. that add up to more than senior on pensioners are able to afford. Yet our province consists of a dispersed population and to involve everyone will involve cost. This problem is one that will need more consideration.
In conclusion to keep and grow the idea of Fun in the Shrine may come down to a few changes. The first being a new commitment of each Shriner to a renewed fellowship with fellow Nobles through strengthening our resolve of respect and dignity for each other. Show appreciation for the effort that each volunteer makes. Finally develop activities that consider our aging nobles and their financial challenges.