The Challenge Of Building The Next Generation Of Masons

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

I’ve written a lot about famous Freemasons over the years. Our Fraternity has boasted a tremendous number of truly remarkable individuals over its long history. I’ve studied many of our Fraternity’s most notable men. Freemasonry can’t take full credit for the attributes of many of these remarkable men. Many of them were remarkable long before they knocked at the door of a Masonic Lodge, but the Masonic Lodge certainly focused many of these men, and gave them the skills they lacked to achieve the goals they set for themselves. Many men both famous and not-so-famous have learned valuable skills in leadership, character development, and morals and ethics. Freemasonry has served as a springboard for many to find our purpose and our true calling in life. That’s certainly been true for me.

Freemasonry has been a college of learning for me. Throughout my adult life, the Bible has always been my “text book” but Freemasonry has served me well as the “learning lab.” I’ve learned how to run a meeting. I’ve learned how to apply minimal resources for maximum impact. I’ve learned to network. I’ve gained leadership skills. I’ve gained speaking skills. Most importantly I’ve been able to take the sharp edges off aspects of my character and personality through the teachings of Freemasonry and by my association with men that possessed those skills I lacked. I’m not the same person that I was at all, and I don’t think I’m finished learning either. Masonry took me down a path I never thought I’d be on, and changed me in ways I never thought possible. Over the last year or two, that path has lead me to another fork in the road—another of life’s adventures I’m about to embark on and that I never would have found if not for the benefits I’ve gained through my Fraternity. Masonry has taught me what is possible. What is possible as individuals. What’s possible as a small group. What’s possible as a community.

And I feel like I’m just getting started. Like Masons learn, we are a project that’s never finished—an ashlar that is never truly perfected on Earth but we none-the-less continue to chip away at until our final day comes. I get it! I was taught well, I took well to the lessons offered, and I’ve applied them to my life. That’s what it’s all about.

And I know many of my Brothers have had this same experience because we’ve talked about it at length. And we all seem to have the same concern about the future as well. That the men we’re raising in our Lodge’s today aren’t getting that same quality of mentorship that we had when we joined. We’ve gotten away from teaching Freemasonry and applying Freemasonry. We’ve gotten away from building our new members into tomorrow’s leaders. And over the last decade, those men we’ve raised and failed to teach have risen in the ranks without the benefit of really understanding what the Fraternity is truly about.

I was talking to a Mason a few months ago, and he made an interesting remark. He said that Freemasonry is built on a set of moral and ethical principles, much like a church is built upon the Bible. Then he asked what would happen if you took the Bible out of the church. And we had a long and illuminating talk about what the results of that would be.

Well, you’d get together every week for a service. You’d probably run the service the same way you always have even though you’ve forgotten why you’re doing it that way. If you’re in a hurry you might skip parts of the service. You’d sing a little. You’d listen to announcements. Talk about people who are sick or are in need and take up a collection. You’d have lunch afterwards. Your membership would begin to drop because the congregation would realize they’re not getting much out of the service other than listening to announcements, and putting money in the plate every week. Some of the older members would find other places to go, because they remember what church used to be about. Next thing you know money is an issue and the pews are growing more sparse by the week. The church board would get very concerned. Some might suggest getting back to teaching that Bible again since that was what the church was original built upon, but the majority would say that the new members who have joined since they got away from teaching from the Bible don’t have any interest in learning those old scriptures—they joined for fellowship, and fund raising. So what would they do to attract new members? Maybe they’d plan a golf outing, or a movie night. And money? We’ve got that nice fellowship hall and kitchen. Maybe we ought to have a pancake breakfast . . . or a fish fry.

Sound familiar? That’s just an example—Freemasonry isn’t a church, but it would be the same story with any organization built with a core purpose. What if the Cancer Foundation was no longer funded cancer research. Or the Humane Society got away from running animal shelters.

Freemasonry is an organization built upon a purpose . . . a mission. But in too many places, we’ve gotten away from that purpose, which is to build strong men. Men of character. Men with strong moral and ethical values. When you take the core purpose out of an organization, all you’re left with is an empty meeting room full of empty chairs.

We must get back to what we’re truly about.

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog, and an award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. Todd started the Midnight Freemason blog in 2006, and in 2012 he opened it up as a contributor blog The Midnight Freemasons (plural). Todd has written more than 1,000 pieces for the blog since it began. He is a Past Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) where he currently serves as Secretary. He is a Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research (FMLR). He is a charter member of the a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 and currently serves as EHP. You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Freemasonry in Living Color

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, 33°, FMLR



Back in 2009, as social media was bursting its way onto the scene I met with the Missouri Lodge of Research to map out a plan and establish an official blessing for maintaining a Twitter and Facebook presence for the LOR.

With that, we started co-posting Masonic tidbits on each site. Most were historical in nature, something like, "Charles A. Lindbergh, pioneer aviator, first to fly the Atlantic, Keystone Lodge 243, St. Louis, was born this date in 1902." Others simply addressed the tenets and symbolism of the Craft such as, "The anchor and the ark are emblems of a well-grounded hope and a well-spent life." At the time Twitter had a 140 character limit which precluded much in the way of depth on any given post.

We never really promoted the site but followers trickled in. I have posted daily since the project started.

Late last year, I began adding a picture to every post. It's a well-known fact that posts with pictures garner more interest than those which are exclusively text. It increased my workload and the time I have to spend with the project, but I figured it would be worth it if the Lodge of Research got more exposure. And it worked. Almost immediately the Facebook site got many more likes and engagements. The new follower graph got much denser as we've been adding several new followers daily instead of the previous one or two a week. Twitter activity and likes increased as well.

Not long after I started posting the pictures I began doing something else – I've been doing everything I can to find or create a colorpicture to go with the post. While I really can't quantify its effect, there has definitely been an up-tick in interactions. Color brings things to life. It can make things fresh, new and exciting.

A lot of the things I post, especially about people, had been black and white, drab, old, lifeless. I don't think it's a stretch to think that such pictures could imply Freemasonry itself is drab, old, lifeless, a thing of the past. That's not a message I want to send.

Freemasonry has a rich history, but if we want to attract a new generation of members and energize current members we need to show them we are alive and well and relevant for today. My colorized posts aren't going to do that by themselves; they are merely symbolic for what we need to do.

I saw an incredible statistic this week. Twenty-two percent of millennials say they have no friends (https://tinyurl.com/FriendSurvey99). I know where they can get them. What we have to do, without changing our principles, is show them how the tenets of Freemasonry are relevant to them. Easier said than done, but we're not going to do that by staying on the path we've been on for years. And we're not going to do it by continuing to hide our light under a bushel. We simply have got to do more, much more, to promote the Craft. Let me repeat that: we have to do much more to promote Freemasonry in an exciting, relevant way – in living color, so to speak.

Unfortunately I'm not really optimistic we'll do that because… say it with me… we've never done things that way before.

~SLH

Bro. Steve Harrison, 33° , is Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is also a Fellow and Past Master of the Missouri Lodge of Research. Among his other Masonic memberships are the St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite bodies, and Moila Shrine. He is also a member and Past Dean of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. Brother Harrison is a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasons blog as well as several other Masonic publications. Brother Steve was Editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine for a decade and is a regular contributor to the Whence Came You podcast. Born in Indiana, he has a Master's Degree from Indiana University and is retired from a 35 year career in information technology. Steve and his wife Carolyn reside in northwest Missouri. He is the author of dozens of magazine articles and three books: Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, Freemasons — Tales From the Craft and Freemasons at Oak Island.

The Curious Case of Bro. Edgar Mitchell

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson


In my travels, I meet some amazing Brothers. Men with insane, almost unbelievable stories...except they are real. Recently this was the case when I spent the weekend with a Brother who was great friends with Brother Edgar Mitchel. For those who do not know, Bro. Mitchell was an Apollo Astronaut. His Wiki summary is worth posting below:
Edgar Dean "Ed" Mitchell (September 17, 1930 – February 4, 2016) was a United States Navy officer and aviator, test pilot, aeronautical engineer, ufologist and NASA astronaut. As the Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 14, he spent nine hours working on the lunar surface in the Fra Mauro Highlands region, making him the sixth person to walk on the Moon. The legacy of his post-NASA scientific work is carried on through the Institute of Noetic Sciences.
It's always a curious thing for me when I see someone of such stature, someone who is an authority, take an active interest in things most people think are a little "out there". What defines, "out there"? Well, for most it's things like, ghosts, UFOs, Metaphysics, and more. A curious position for sure when we consider what is "normal" in religious beliefs the world over...I digress.

I suppose, I am an "out there" kind of person. When I was conversing with my friend over the weekend he regaled me of the tales and stories that Edgar Mitchell had confided in him--that Mitchell had had an out of body experience while riding back to Earth and his visions of the Sacred Samahdi.

It sent my mind reeling with questions, questions I did have answered, but will remain with me due to the sensitive nature of them. What I wanted to drive home with this post was the curious nature of those men who are on top of the world, both literally and figuratively and who believe in things in a different way.

James Irwin was another Apollo Astronaut who had a curious fascination. He was aboard Apollo 15, and his life's work after returning home was to prove and find the literal Noah's Ark. He climbed Mount Ararat several times, and almost died. You can read an article on this HERE.

There are many cases of Astronauts believing in and taking positions which make many do a double take. 

Edgar Mitchell was a bit more scientific in his endeavors. You may have noticed at the end of the Wiki summary, Brother Edgar formed the Institute of Noetic Sciences. If that sounds familiar, you've likely read the book, The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. 

The word "Noetic" refers to the, "...theory in philosophy, as branch of metaphysical philosophy concerned with the study of mind as well as intellect. There is also a reference to the science of noetics, which covers the field of thinking and knowing, thought and knowledge, as well as mental operations, processes, states, and products through the data of the written word."

I don't know about you, but this sounds an awful lot like the Masonic practices...divesting our hearts and minds...Doing actual internal work on our characters and egos etc. Pretty curious indeed...

The actual Institutes description, which deals with a little more than just the basic description of what "Noetics" is, is as follows:

The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) is an American non-profit parapsychological[1] research institute. It was co-founded in 1973 by former astronaut Edgar Mitchell, along with investor Paul N. Temple, and others interested in purported paranormal phenomena,[1] in order to encourage and conduct research on noetic theory and human potentials. 
The Institute conducts research on topics such as spontaneous remission, meditation, consciousness, alternative healing practices, consciousness-based healthcare, spirituality, human potential, psychic abilities, psychokinesis and survival of consciousness after bodily death. The Institute maintains a free database, available on the Internet, with citations to more than 6,500 articles about whether physical and mental health benefits might be connected to meditation and yoga. 
Headquartered outside Petaluma, California, the IONS is situated on a 200-acre (81 ha) campus that includes offices, a research laboratory and a retreat center (originally the campus of World College West). Its current director is Cassandra Vieten. Other researchers associated with it include Dean Radin and Rupert Sheldrake.
I find these things fascinating because I believe in the inseparable union of Science and Religion or Spirituality. I find them to be interdependent on each other. It's the main area of my personal studies. To know that men like Bro. Mitchel had invested the time and money into studying these things sure is a bit reassuring, not that I need it, but it's a small comfort.

Bro, Mitchell died in 2016 and you can read a bit more about him in THIS LINK which is a piece Illustrious Bro. Hodapp penned when that occurred.

~RHJ

RWB, Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183 UD. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatrewhich focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry" and is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.

The Complete Transmission

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Erik A. Marks


In studying as an apprentice in any field, the teacher, or master, knows to give the student only the tasks for which they are ready. Further, to only give the hard-learned lessons to someone who has worked diligently, consistently, over time, showing both dedication and integrity. Over time, the apprentice will prove worthiness and will gain a complete transmission of all the teacher/masters secrets of the trade. If all goes well, the new adept will carry on the tradition and train subsequent apprentices in like fashion; perhaps adding lessons and updated knowledge for changing codes, new building techniques, etc.; keeping it a living tradition.

What areas of Freemasonry would be needed to be transmitted to a budding apprentice, like me, to give a complete transmission of the craft? We might disagree on the titles or groupings, though my guess would be we would end up covering much of the same territory, over time. To some extent, Brethren may get overly focused on one of these, seeing it as the only aspect of Freemasonry that matters. Though they may be content in this rarefied approach, they will not be getting a full transmission, nor will they propagate one to initiated or the general public.

I intentionally tried to narrow the complete transmission categories to seven:

History and thorough historical perspective: understanding the origins, innovations, adaptations, splitting and merging, and enacting a historically relevant presentation of the craft.

Fraternal engagement: meals, Scottish Rite family events, Royal Arch and Shrine functions, impromptu dinner conversations with brethren, etc. 

Charitable conduct or acts.

Freemasonic operation: The exoteric administrative. Ritual, protocol, jurisprudence; moving through line chairs/roles, running a lodge, grand lodge, investigation committees, delegation.

Universality and tolerance: Learning to live harmoniously in and out of lodge.

Symbolic meanings: Esoteric depth and spiritual breadth:

And what I will call Transformative experience: Through being in close contact with other men, becoming co-laborers and friends, we necessarily have experiences that meddle with our preconceived notions about life and being together in the world. By first in Lodge and then a masonic career, we agree to work together to keep things harmonious. This social contract aids in our development by helping everyone work to stay calm when things get heated. Sure, we don’t achieve this all the time, but our goal is to remain harmonious and charitable, even when vehemently disagreeing. I see this as one of masonry’s greatest gifts to its participants, and by extension, the world. When brethren engage fully in the tasks and take in the esoteric and exoteric lessons, we are transformed and made better as we work to implement seemingly opposite strategies: for instance, encouraging a sitting master and officers to implement more education (when that was never their plan) in the lodge without a coup d'├ętat. How? Turn to the trivium and make the most solid and effective argument you can. Coalition build with brethren and bring it into lodge yourself, during meal or petition the master for you to speak during a lodge meeting.

What constitutes a complete transmission of Freemasonry to you? What do you think is the most important aspect of Masonry? A handful of brothers have written with questions or opinions and its been wonderful getting to know them. Please consider dropping me a note with your thoughts.

~EAM

Brother Erik Marks is a clinical social worker whose usual vocation has been in the field of human services in a wide range of settings since 1990. He was raised in 2017 by his biologically younger Brother and then Worshipful Master in Alpha Lodge in Framingham, MA. You may contact brother Marks by email: erik@StrongGrip.org