Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Exposure vs. Proselyting

Many Masonic jurisdictions seem to be toying with the idea of advertising the Fraternity in an attempt to gain more members. I have mixed feelings on this. I think one line that is useful to look at in considering this is Exposure vs. Proselyting. In the 1800's, Masonry was exposed. People knew about it, because their neighbor, their boss, and their father were Masons. To supplement this genuine exposure, which happens through due course of having wide membership, many lodges have turned towards being proactive to achieve publicity. That's not so bad. Its when we start proselyting - handing out tracts to people, that it becomes truly questionable in my mind. On the other hand, I believe that if you are a friend and have become acquainted with a person, and they have demonstrated some interest in Masonry, that it isn't altogether inappropriate to at least provide them with some information about the Fraternity. After all, a friend may feel that you are keeping distance from them, if they know something like Masonry is important to you, and yet you have not given them the courtesy of at least explaining to them what it is all about.

What is the answer that is in the best interests of the Fraternity? Increased membership isn't necessarily a good thing. We need high-quality Masons, it really doesn't matter how many there are, as long as there are enough to open a Lodge. On the other hand, what a delight it would be to have more worthy and well qualified Brethren to be initiated.

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