by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
WB Bill Hosler
Recently I saw a photo of a lighthouse being hit with a giant tidal wave. Mother Nature hit this edifice with everything she had and it not only withstood the force of the wave but the lighthouse continued to stand and its beacon still shining it's light to the world.
Lighthouses are designed to warn ships of upcoming dangers; coral reefs, shoals, shallow water and harbor entrances. Anything that may cause a vessel to sink, incur damage or cause loss of life. Their light shines in order to make navigating the seas a better, safer place.
When constructing a lighthouse the builder would pick a solid, level area in which to lay a solid foundation using only the finest materials available to him in that area. Upon the foundation the more modern lighthouses were built using rocks or stones cemented together into one majestic edifice which, if properly maintained, can withstand the elements and continue to be at the benefit of man for an eternity.
I would like to think our gentle craft is much like that lighthouse. Our Fraternity was built upon a solid foundation of faith, hope and charity. Each stone of that lighthouse is emblematic of the Brethren which comprise the membership of our craft. Each one of us were once rough stones which, much like the Temple of King Solomon were chiseled and shaped by the builder with the working tools of Masonry until those stones, like us, were hewed, squared and leveled to the builders requirements.
These stones are united into one common mass and strengthened by the spreading of cement which, when hardened, allowed the builder to complete this collection of individual stones into a structure which produces light, and which when used properly can help us ward off all approaching danger and become a benefit to mankind for the ages to come.
The world will never know how many people throughout history were saved from an early, watery grave because the light from those lighthouses alerted the crews of those vessels and kept them on a safe path to their final destination. Much like we will never know how many men have been saved from a life of disrepute and dishonor because they were taught and learned to apply the teachings of our humble craft to their life and used the light of Freemasonry to help them subdue their passions.
Any man made structure requires constant maintenance to ensure its long time service. Preservationists must continue to inspect and repair parts of the building which have begun to weaken or fall apart. The light source which is the reason for the buildings existence must also be constantly maintained or the source replaced and perhaps upgraded to ensure the lighthouse’s relevance. If the lighthouse no longer produces light, chances are the edifice would be abandoned and the entire building would begin to crumble and eventually, cease to exist.
Many people contend Freemasonry has begun to follow down the path of that neglected lighthouse. In our zeal for greatness in numbers we have ceased to continue to maintain or upgrade our light source.
Dues which no longer cover the costs of running our lodges and the living stones have begun to crumble away. The cement which should merge us into one sacred band of friends and Brothers has begun to crack as our meetings which were once a source of enlightenment and friendship have degraded into a two hour long argument over the costs of basic supplies like toilet paper and light bulbs. Like pieces of dried mortar our members drop away never to be seen again.
Even when the Brethren want to maintain their symbolic lighthouse many times they aren't allowed to even try because of “building codes” of a far away Grand Lodge who micromanage and oversee everything. Many common and sensible solutions cannot be applied to fix their lighthouse because of the over regulations of Grand lodges and when the workers asked the reason for the rule they are told it's because “we've always done it that way.” All the while, the stones begin to fall away from our lighthouse and sadly can’t be replaced. These poor workmen have to stand by and watch in frustration as their beloved structure falls apart.
The light source itself may also become dim from lack of maintenance. A century ago the light was produced by a single source, provided by a candle or a lamp which was reflected into a large lens and then it was magnified, and could be seen for miles. Think about that: One spark from a small candle or lamp could provide lifesaving light for miles away. What if the fuel source for that light wasn't replenished on a regular basis? Without the fuel, there is no light and the entire shore would be cast into darkness and sadly vessels approaching the perils of the shore would not receive warning and their passengers would perish.
Sadly in the last half century our lodges have not been replacing the fuel of Masonic light, allowing many of the followers of King Solomon to be cast into the darkness. Lodge meetings have become a place to discuss fundraisers to supplement the deficit in the lodge treasury which unrealistically low dues and charity events which will get the lodge's name in the local newspaper in hopes of bringing more men to the door of the lodge. The source of light being Masonic Education and Charity have been extinguished in order to try to bring in new members.
The light of Masonry has been dimmed in our lodges because in the last half century our Fraternity has chosen bureaucracy and membership numbers over Masonic Education and Masonic Charity.
When the light of a lighthouse has been dimmed due to circumstances like fog the keeper will turn on a foghorn. A fog horn is a device which emits a loud sound to warn vessels when the lighthouse is too dim to be seen. A loud cry in the darkness to warn others in order they may ward off all approaching danger.
I hope this paper will be seen as a foghorn which warns others of the dangers of a dimmed light source. The Grand Edifice of Freemasonry may be in a state of disrepair, but it is far from being to the point it needs to be torn down. Our foundation is as solid and level as it was when it was first laid.
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.
Fortunately, Masonic Light shines brightly within those local Lodges which have clearly identified their mission and collectively developed and implemented plans for continued relevance and long-term success. Unless and until the basic tenets and the cardinal virtues are instilled in new members and adopted as the guiding principles of local Lodge leadership progressive lines, the Light will diminish and our once proud Masonic Structures will become increasingly shuttered.ReplyDelete
Quite simply: "Excellent"!ReplyDelete
Congratulations my Brother.
- Tim Bryce
Dunedin, FL, USA
"I hope this paper will be seen as a foghorn"ReplyDelete
A great line and hopefully others will hear the sound and share this paper so that others can see this point of view.
Thank you for writing this.
Years ago, I recall a paper by Jim Tresner talking about his father's philosophy in Masonry. Jim's dad summed it up simply by saying "sometimes, you need to put a little sand in the gears." His dad's comments were that when he came into the craft, the ByLaws of the Grand Lodge were a few pages in a notebook, and that "now" (later in life), they were a BOOK. As you note, GL's have actually devolved to hierarchical organizations focused on "doing things right" instead of "doing the right things." This is all too common in society today, and we are but a microcosm of the bigger society from which we get our members. We continue to SAY one thing, but DO something different - which is probably the leading cause why we are very good at getting men INTO the craft, but we stink at KEEPING them in the craft.ReplyDelete
I liked this concise text:ReplyDelete
"The light of Masonry has been dimmed in our lodges because in the last half century our Fraternity has chosen bureaucracy and membership numbers over Masonic Education and Masonic Charity. "
I couldn't agree more!
And.... should a continued "negotiation" with the Powers allows us only ONE goal... Education I feel is the most important of the two.
It's costs are much lower than charity, while the satisfaction for either might be quite similar!