Brethren and other Interested Parties, there has been much talk lately about the declining numbers in the craft. I am not so concerned about this as I am about the declining quality of the craft. As we make concession after concession to try to fix our membership problem we unavoidably mar the ancient beauty of our Order.
I would suggest that we take matters into our own hands, both individually and as the group of Internet-savvy Masons and friends that we are. Lets start by asking ourselves, what type of Fraternity are we looking for? What type of people do we want in it? What do *I* want to make Freemasonry into?
I've already started this in my life, by choosing to associate with and be open and informative to those people whom I think would make good Masons. I haven't even bent the rule concerning solicitation, which so many people feel is a necessary breach -- it isn't. And I've got five candidates in the pipeline already, currently, over whom I was a either a primary or supportive direct influence. This isn't about sharing Masonry with everyone. I personally think we could use more of certain types of people in the Fraternity, and I am sculpting my Lodge into that picture the best way I know how. But, I want to work on a larger scale... and that's where you come in.
I would like to open an informal discussion between all the Masonic bloggers who care to participate where we can develop those types of questions posed above on both individual and group levels. After we determine what we want, I would like to see how much Internet muscle we have as a group, and what specific projects we might be able to undertake to help "funnel" the right kind of people to the appropriate Grand Lodge or local Lodge websites or to our own email inboxes if necessary, to find those who have already been made Masons in the hearts and help them to make it official. If we work collectively, we must be able to achieve something more than what our individual efforts can accomplish.
When I Google "Masonic blog", KSL comes up third on the list. I consider this a success for Masonry, and it gives us a viable platform as bloggers, but we can probably pour our efforts into something even better. Are there areas that the current round-up of Masonic websites are lacking in? Or, are there areas that they excel in which are not being harnessed into situations where the reader asking for a petition becomes possible?
ScottishRite.org and YorkRite.org are both great sites for information, but they are still written towards people who are already Masons and are already familiar with the jargon of Masonry. I've attempted to assemble a Grand Lodge web directory on my Ancient Craft Masonry page at KSL.
I will be disappointed if I don't see either comments here, or posts at your own blogs outlining what you are doing or are prepared to do individually to improve the quality of the craft and the people in it, in your area, and what you think we should focus on as a group to help bring the most desirable types of people (not just the most people) from the web into a situation where they may eventually be able to petition a Lodge. So, get to work!
Steps to the Endowment.
6 years ago
I have been talking Masonry, and made sure that the work we do at my Lodge (the CHIP program), gets into the company newsletter.
Just today, I informed someone who did not know, that the Shriners were Masons.
For me, I would like a balanced Fraternity where discussions on science, philosophy, self improvement and esotericism are a part of each stated communication. I also think there is room for charity work and just plain fellowship. Not evry brother is going to be interested in discussing philosophy, not every brother is interested in charity, and not every brother is going to want to learn ritual. *But*, we can use the talents of every good man to make him, and by extension society better.
So, a balanced program that makes use of each member's talents. Let's "set the craft to work and give them good and wholesome instruction for their labor".
I think an important element of this is to focus on your role as craftsman in a holistic sense, so discuss how your masonry fits into our lives and interacts with our business, personal, and social lives and development.
Men, especially the new generation of masons, are accomplishing great things while still finding the time to 'be' masons. I think that speaks volumes about what kinds of men we want, and what kinds of men we will attract.
I've been taking a similar approach. Identify men that would make a positive contribution to the craft, and just start talking the 'big life issues' with them. Those kinds of discussions always open the door to talk masonry.
In my Lodge, the hard times came and went before me. I joined 5 years ago and was one of the vanguard of young men of high moral character to join the Lodge. Since my joining, many other good young men have joined. Most of the interest comes through family contacts but we also do civic charity events and things of that nature. We've been trying to keep up or community involvement while trying to reintegrate families back into the Craft.
While we are seeing a steady stream of new petitions from young men, their friends and families, we are sill suffering the same problem as all other fraternal orders: recognition. Very few ordinary citizens are aware of the existence and purpose of Masonry. Though I would not take this as a fault of ours. Most citizens are not aware of what Congress does, who their Senator is, what the Vice President does, or even how their local court system works. Many can't write properly in any language and don't seem to have any sense of social or civic responsibility. I think that Masonry suffers this along with all other groups of responsible, moral, upright citizens. In my opinion, the Fraternity itself is faring no worse than any other private-membership organization.
That's not to say we don't have our problems. As the current NY Times investigation of the Shrine's finances and the SJ/AASR's NASCAR fiascos demonstrate. I think that we can do much in our Lodges to get back into the public view as a force of good in the community. At our Grand Lodges, we can ensure that we are following proper procedure in all things and not letting proper procedure get in the way of our charitable obligations or our main purpose of making good men better.
I like the ideas of promoting balance and sharing our masonic experience in a holistic way. I also agree that many people are simply not educated as to how and by whom things work in the world. Is there a particular way you Brethren might suggest that we could together, and online, try to accomplish some of this education, beyond simply blogging about it? I am willing to head up any web design or development that might be needed, but I'm not sure what would be most effective or useful.
To improve Masonry, we must:
IDENTIFY potential good men
INVITE them to our social functions for familiarity
INITIATE them into the fraternity
INVOLVE them once they become Master Masons
PERFECT the art and make it as beautiful as a song.
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