Originally posted by gottago
Would you say then that Freemasonry has subsequently declined markedly in "worldly" influence and importance?
In my opinion, yes. Freemasonry's influence has long since waned, to be replaced in the world by the almighty dollar.
Putting aside the moral aspect for the moment, has it honestly subsided into little more than a private fraternity with some strange, abiding
Sadly, I must say that for the most part, it's mostly just another civic club these days. It still has the potential to be a life-changing tool of
enlightenment, but unfortunately, such a tool is rarely put to use.
And could anyone offer to explain the hierarchy of the lodges; the political structure if you will?
The following concerns my own jurisdiction: they differ.
Each Lodge has three officials, who are annually elected to one year terms by the majority of the membership. There is the Worshipful Master, who is
the presiding officer. The other two are the Senior and Junior Wardens, who sort of function as first and second vice presidents.
There are two other elected officers: the Secretary and Treasurer, whose duties are purely administrative.
The Master appoints the Senior Deacon, Chaplain, and Tyler. The Senior Warden appoints the Junior Dearcon, and the Junior Warden appoints two
The chief governing body of Masonry is called the Grand Lodge. Each year, there is an assembly that consists of the Master and Wardens of each Lodge.
This assembly is Grand Lodge. All Master Masons in good standing may attend, but only the current Master and Wardens of the various Lodges have a
vote. Masonry is therefore a representative democracy.
The Grand Officers are analogous to the Lodge officers, and are also elected to one year terms. The Grand Master is the highest ranking Masonic
official, and presides over Grand Lodge. In my jurisdiction, it is common for Grand Masters to serve two terms.
In the USA, there are 51 Grand Lodges, one in each state, and one in D.C. Each regular Grand Lodge in the US recognizes each other, although each is
sovereign within its own state. Therefore, Masonic law and procedure slightly vary from state to state.
In Canada, there are different Grand Lodges for the different provinces. In the UK, there is the United Grand Lodge of England, which is the successor
of the oldest Grand Lodge in the world. There are also Grand Lodges in Ireland and Scotland.