Freemasonry: The Next Generation - Revisited

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson, PM

I first wrote this back in 2012 and now my sons are much older, I've see their personalities develop and I think perhaps, just maybe if we as a craft can pull it together, there may still be a lodge for them to join. Time will tell. I also now have a daughter, which means...I can't let her get married to a non Mason ;) Reflecting on the words I wrote almost 5 years ago, I ask myself, "Do I still feel this way?" I don't know. I'm not sure I feel the same about the York Rite or letting my daughter get involved with the youth groups. What do you all think?


As a father of three boys, it is of course my deepest wish that they too become Freemasons. And even more important to me is that they go into the York Rite together and then become companions. If you are well versed in the York Rite you will remember that there is a heavy significance with the number three, which is why it's so important to me.

The question is, when the time comes, what do I say? Do I wait until they are all 18 or of legal age? Or do I approach them individually? What do I say? Can I "solicit" for lack of a better term?

As a Freemason who really adheres to the "old school" tradition, I would rather not solicit. An interesting paper I once read said that "A father may say to his son, 'If you ever decide to become a Mason, I’ll be proud to sign your petition.'" Another quote from that paper was "A darker shade of gray may be the classic story of a grandfather’s discussion with the grandson on his 21st birthday. He said, 'Son, now that you’re 21, whose lodge are you going to join - your father’s or mine?'" And finally this take on the situation from the same article "The final kind of solicitation may be by the indirect method. Mothers may be responsible for encouraging sons to petition lodges for membership."

My view is of course a man with sons, however if I had had daughters, I believe I would have the same yearning for her to join a Masonic group such as the Rainbow Girls or Jobs Daughters. And as I dive deeper that eventually I would ask she be married to a Freemason. Freemasonry is just that important to me, and so many others. My son regularly compliments me on my Masonic ring. He asks if he can put it on. I tell him that he can't--not yet anyway.

No matter what happens, it goes without saying I'll always be proud to be a father to my children. Perhaps the right decision is the easiest. This is to just be a positive influence, attend meetings and when your kids ask where you’re going and what you do there is to just say hopefully one day you’ll find out.

~RHJ

Bro. Robert Johnson 32° is a Freemason out of the First North-East District of Illinois. He belongs to Waukegan Lodge No. 78. He is also a member of the York Rite bodies Royal Arch, Cryptic Council and Knights Templar. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts a weekly Podcast (internet radio program) Whence Came You? which focuses on topics relating to Freemasonry. In addition, he produces video shorts focusing on driving interest in the Fraternity and writes original Masonic papers from time to time. He is a husband and father of three. He works full time in the safety industry and is also a photographer on the side as well as an avid home brewer. He is also working on two books, one is of a Masonic nature.

Todd's Mail Bag: The Masonic Conspiracy Theorists

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason

I posted this a couple years ago on From Labor To Refreshment.  This is why we moderate our comments at the Midnight Freemasons.  Lets just say there's a lot of interesting people in this world with a lot of interesting ideas--especially about Freemasonry.  We get interesting comments and emails almost daily.  I thought you might enjoy this one.  I decided to have a little fun with this one. 

I thought I'd share a random email. I just never know what I'm going to get from day to day.  Every once in awhile, I get one like this--from that group known to all as the "Masonic conspiracy theorists."  A friend of mine calls them "secret squirrels."
Dear Mr. Creason (if that is your real name),
I thought I would let you know that as a 33rd Degree Mason, and one of your Godless organization's most prolific and skilled disseminators of disinformation about Freemasonry, your act is transparent. Most people know that Freemasonry is really the public front of the Illuminati, which is an evil organization dedicated to the destruction of our society for the profit and power of an elite few. Like you. 
E.M.
I was truly shocked--I didn't know what to say. Finally I answered.

Dear E. M.
I can't believe what you just said to me. I'm a 33rd Degree Mason? I had no idea! All these years, I've been wearing this ring upside-down! I turned it over, and you're absolutely right--it does say "33".  All this time I thought I was an "EE." Thanks for clearing that up for me.
Sincerely,
Todd E. Creason
Oddly enough, I haven't heard anything back . . .

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33°, FMLR is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and is a regular contributor.  He is the award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog.  He is the Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754, where is currently serves as Secretary.  He is the Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research. (FMLR) and a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.DYou can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Cereal Box Freemasonry

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Bill Hosler, PM

When I was a kid, I would get up really early on the weekends to watch the cartoons that were on television on Saturday mornings. Between cartoons, I would watch the commercials that the network would play. There were commercials for dolls and action figures, various other toys, but the commercials I remember most were the advertisements selling breakfast cereals.

These commercials could span from Tony the Tiger telling me that I should want Frosted Flakes to Bruce Jenner telling me how Wheaties made it possible for him to win the gold at the Olympics. (Yes I'm that old). Each one of these commercials had a few things in common; 1, the product in the commercial tasted awesome and 2, each one of theses boxes of cereal had a prize laying at the bottom.

The prizes they showed in the commercial looked amazing! I could picture myself having a great time playing with these toys just like the kids in the commercial I was watching. I would fantasize about the fun I would have as long as I could convince my mother I needed and would eat this cereal. This was not an easy task. My father worked hard but Mom only had a limited amount she could spend on groceries. She tried to stretch every penny.

If I was lucky enough, I could convince my Mom that I really liked this particular product and she would pick it up for me at the grocery store. When I got home, I would rip open the box and dump the entire contents of the box into a mixing bowl until I heard the clink of the prize falling into the bowl. Giddy with excitement I ran outside to play with this amazing new toy (after trying to fit all of that cereal back into the box and set it in the cupboard stuffed with the other opened boxes of cereal I hadn't eaten yet).

Once I began to play with the toy, I realized the toy in the bottom of the box that I begged my mom to buy was a plastic piece of junk! The prize in the box was nothing like the toy I had seen on the television commercial. The toy was either flimsy and broke right away or it just didn't work. I felt cheated, and the only people that made out well were the owners of the cereal company.

Every year, Freemason membership numbers continue to shrink. Grand Lodges continue to wring their hands and try to come up with new ways to package the fraternity like a product, and peak mens curiosity enough to entice them to join our fraternity in order to swell our ranks. A Grand Lodge or appendant body will approach an advertising agency, and television commercials are created; these days, even a social media campaign is created.

These commercials offer friendship, networking which promises to help advance your career, a chance to “Make A Difference” and fulfill a need to give back to their community by participating in charity (or whatever the advertising agencies polling unit tells them what young men of a certain age group want). The agency then puts together a presentation to the Masonic body, and if the Grand Lodge Officers like what they see they purchase ad time which is targeted to a certain age group of young men, Freemasonry crosses its fingers and waits for the young men to come to us and ask for a petition.

After seeing the commercial, a young man gets excited. Maybe this group sounds like just the thing he has been looking for to complete his life or he remembers Freemasonry from a Dan Brown movie he had watched. He visits an open house at a Masonic Temple near him. Looking around this magnificent building from another era, he gets excited and fills out a petition. His Masonic career slowly starts to go forward. He cannot wait until he is told to report for his degree work.

After receiving a summons from his lodge to begin his Masonic journey he begins the degree work. For several months, the young brother spends his free time memorizing the proficiency he is told he needs to know in order to finally advance toward the goal he is seeking: to be a Master Mason, to learn all of the secrets he has been promised and start his journey of self enlightenment that the commercials and his new brethren have promised him. Finally, that magical day arrives and he has been raised. He can now sit in lodge, join other Masonic groups and finally wear that Masonic ring he had already purchased.

Now it's meeting night. The first stated meeting he can attend and participate in because he is now a full fledged Mason. The newly obligated Brother slowly puts on his best suit, making sure his tie is straight. He admires himself in the mirror thinking how he looks like a Freemason already. The excitement continues to build inside him. He gets to the lodge early so he can get a seat right up front. “I want to be able to get a good view of everything.” he thinks. Meeting time comes and the room isn't even half full. Counting he realizes there are only seven other Masons in the audience. “Must be a slow night,” he tells himself.

This brother sits on the edge of his seat waiting to be blown away with all of the secrets he was promised. He sits through the half hour of the Secretary reading minutes of last month's meeting and the minutes from all of the called meetings for his degree work. He chuckles to himself because he was there for all of that. He really didn't need to hear about it.

Once the minutes are read he listens to motions be made to give money to several Masonic youth groups for their Grand sessions. He votes to give them the money to seem like he knows what is going on even though he has no clue what he is voting for.

The manager of the temple stands before the group and informs the Brethren present that the old lawn mower the temple has owned for forty years is broken and the mechanic states it can no longer be repaired and a new mower needs to be purchased. Several men stand up to argue about the cost of buying a new lawn mower for their temple. The argument seems to last forever he thinks. Finally a committee is formed to approach a member of the lodge who never attends but owns a hardware store to see if he will provide a new mower free of charge or at a deep discount. Then the meeting ends and everyone dashes out of the building like it's on fire.

The young man just sits there in his seat, dumbfounded. He still doesn't understand how this is going to make him a better man. “Maybe it was just an off night.” He decides. After attending for several months, he becomes disillusioned with his lodge and with Freemasonry, and he ceases to attend. At the end of the year, he ignores the dues notices which the lodge sends him and allows his membership to be suspended for non payment. Sadly, nobody even noticed he wasn't there.

Just like the child who expects the toy at the bottom of the cereal box to be the greatest thing in his young life, he becomes disillusioned with this new toy and casts it aside as something cheap and not worthy of his time. Just a piece of junk. Like the owner of the cereal company the only one who benefits is his Grand Lodge who received his fees.

Brethren, those of us who decided to continue to pursue Freemasonry knows what this young man received wasn't junk. Freemasonry, when practiced correctly, is a beautiful and life changing experience. We have learned to “package” our fraternity to entice new members to join; what we need to learn now is what is called “service after the sale”. Masonically we can call it providing Brotherly love, relief and truth.

Brotherly love: Instead of just promising to be a positive force in a man's life, let’s actually be that positive force! Instead of an evening of minutes, treasurer's reports and bickering, maybe we can provide the feeling of Brotherhood and education. Make sure to include this new Brother in upcoming lodge events, invite him and his family to dinner or a cookout. Or even a “Brothers-only night” for an adult beverage and conversation. Even something as simple as inviting him to eat at your table in the lodge dining hall. Positive social interaction with a new member will make him feel wanted, and he will want to become a valuable lodge member.

Relief: Remember that part of the obligation that says “I will help, aid and assist all poor and distressed Master Masons, their widows and orphans”? Maybe we should try doing that. Instead of sending a sympathetic card to a brother who we have heard is sick and offer to pray for him at the next meeting, get several Brothers together and visit him. Take a bag of groceries with you. If he needs help getting to a doctor's appointment, give him a ride. Be there for a Brother who is laying on that darkened square and offer to take his hand and raise him to his feet.

Truth: When young men are asked why they joined Masonry, most will answer Masonic education. We tell them their pursuit is truly laudable but we never fulfill their request. Sadly, education is one of the most basic, easiest requests we can fulfill. Many lodges don't want to prolong the length of a stated meeting with education (or suffer the wagging finger of the Past Masters who want to vote on business then go home), so education is dropped to the wayside. Or worse yet, a Brother will stand up and read a piece he printed from the Internet about the Masonic membership of George Washington. With little substance, the “education box” can now be checked off on a Grand Lodge form so that the lodge can apply for a special award.

In order to receive the maximum benefit of education, pick a non meeting night and have a group of Brethren gather together to have an education night. This could be a group who decides to have a book club (yes, like Oprah) where a mutually chosen book is discussed. The discussion can be as deep or as shallow as the group wishes. Another idea would be for the Brethren to take turns writing research papers and discussing them in the group. The possibilities are endless!

I would even suggest education need not be limited to Masonic subjects. Invite a tailor to discuss the benefit of owning a custom suit, or an expert on manners. Young men have a lot of questions, and sometimes they have difficulty finding answers to their questions. Be their source of light which will help them become a better man. The best part is that informal education nights can be conducted anywhere, including locations where you can enjoy fellowship over an adult beverage.

Brethren, these are just a few ideas in which we can provide “service after the sale”. I'm sure you and the members of your lodge can come up with dozens more. Not only will Masonry not be a cheap prize at the bottom of a cereal box, but we will elevate it to the ultimate treasure that keeps on giving.

~BH

WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.

I Have a New (Old) Skill

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

Latin is a dead language
Dead as dead can be
First Latin killed the Romans
Now it's killing me.

There were times I felt as if that was my anthem during the four years of Latin I took in high school.  Latin?  Four years?  Why?  I had my reasons… beyond openly exhibiting the fact that I was a pathological masochist.  Even back then, however, I knew — and others did not hesitate to point out — I was studying a language no one had spoken for centuries.  

"Impractical," they said.

Maybe so, if I was looking for a functional language; but not if I was interested in the Roman history that went along with studying the language; not if I wanted to study a language that formed the basis of many others and led to a better understanding of English.  Besides, when I took my college entrance exam, I tested out of all language requirements.  Take that, ye naysayers.

Still, I would never have advocated Latin should be a required subject.  To some it was, and remains, unnecessary… irrelevant… maybe even useless.  Today, many high schools don't even offer it as an elective.  I think that's unfortunate but I guess it's a sign of our times… and school budgets.

So now, it seems a new subject is the target of those who think it's unnecessary, irrelevant or maybe even useless: call it cursive, longhand, script or, in my case, scribble.

"Irrelevant," they say again, "We're all typists… uh, make that keyboarders," as they toss it onto the junk heap of forgotten subjects along with music, art and God knows what else – maybe Freemasonry; lots of people think that's archaic, too.

This, too, I think is unfortunate.  There is something to be said for studying subjects beyond the "Three Rs" — to broaden our cultural backgrounds.  But, sigh, I understand.  We must be practical.

I spent the bulk of this past year transcribing the Masonic memoirs of Frederic L. Billon, a 19th century Grand Secretary in Missouri.  Written in fading longhand, this was a difficult task, but well within my capability — and probably yours, given the fact schools didn't ditch cursive before our time.

As I went through this exercise I realized, in years to come, what I was doing would be a specialized skill.  Without its use being universal I can see cursive becoming a prerequisite for someone wanting to study history, as long as history doesn't fall off the educational cliff, too.  Those Founding Fathers didn't use keyboards.  

I suppose I could be an old fogey and lament the passing of another "useless" subject, but I might as well accept it and take heart in the fact I have a new (old) skill: I am a cursive specialist.

Cursive is a useless thing;
I've other skills to hone.
They should have written the Bill of Rights
On an Android or iPhone. 

Bro. Steve Harrison, 33° is Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is the editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine, author of the book Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research and also its Worshipful Master. He is a dual member of Kearney Lodge #311, St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite, Moila Shrine and 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. His latest book, Freemasons: Tales From the Craft & Freemasons at Oak Island. Both are available on amazon.com.