That Ashlar Ain't Going To Chip Itself: Part 1
by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason
I often hear grumbling from new Masons that education is not being provided in their lodges. Sadly, that's true in a great many places today. In fact, I was disappointed myself when I became a Master Mason and found the same thing true. I expected that what I had learned going through my degrees would be further explained and expanded upon. That wasn't the case. I joined the York Rite and found the same thing true. I joined the Scottish Rite and found the same thing true. It seemed to me that beyond the degrees, all those bodies at that time were offering their members were business meetings, long on business and completely devoid of any educational aspects.
However, it does no good to grumble about it and try and push your Lodge into doing education. The truth of the matter is that in many places, it's not that these bodies won't do education--it's because they can't. It's been so long since education has been a part of that culture that many in leadership of these bodies have never learned anything beyond what is contained within those degrees, and the ritual itself. There are no Masonic scholars or teachers there!
So what I'm encouraging you to do, is to do the same thing I did. Educate yourself! There is no shortage of material. There are libraries in many Lodges--sadly many unused, but on the bright side, you'll have the place to yourself. Many of the terrific books on Freemasonry are available at Barnes & Noble or can be ordered from Amazon. There are vast resources available through Masonic research organizations. See if your state has a Lodge of Research. There are great resources available like the Library at the House of the Temple with extremely knowledgable individuals like my friend Arturo de Hoyos there to assist you with your research topics. The more you explore the topics of Freemasonry, and the more you network, the more like-minded people you're going to encounter--Masons interested in bringing education back to Freemasonry.
Take personal responsibility for your education, and begin learning and researching. And then share what you're learning! Be the change! You be the one to bring that education back to your Lodge, to your Valley, to your Chapter. Travel to other Lodges. Speak. Write. Network with Brothers that share your interests.
That's what I've tried to do. And along the way I've run into a lot of Masons wanting to do the same thing--that's how this blog the Midnight Freemasons got started. I started pushing out pieces back in about 2006 or 2007, and then a few years ago I got the idea to turn it into a contributor blog--then there were two of us, then six, then ten, and now 12 (there have been as many as 14 Midnight Freemasons)--and I couldn't even guess at this point how many guest contributors we've had over the last few years, and how many more we've got coming. Our Editor Robert Johnson has the Whence Came You? Podcast. He's was also instrumental in creating and being a member of The Masonic Roundtable podcast. Just about all of the Midnight Freemasons have expanded into their own education projects. It's an amazing thing to see--the remarkable research that's being shared, and the creative ways that it is being done.
Fellow Midnight Freemason Greg Knott and I are very passionate about this subject, and have pushed hard on this topic for many years. And we've had great success at it. We've put together presentations, videos, and written numerous articles. As a result of our efforts, we've run across many other Brothers wanting to do the same thing, and they've helped us put together a new High 12 Club that meets each month--simple format, we have a meal in a local restaurant, and we have a speaker that teaches our members something new. And these Masons we've linked up with helped put together a new Royal Arch Chapter of the York Rite, Admiration Chapter, with a focus on Masonic education. Not even chartered yet, Admiration Chapter is already experiencing tremendous interest, and is already growing rapidly.
As I wrote in my first book, Freemasonry has always attracted industrious men. If you want education in your Lodge, and if you're reading this blog there is a good indication that you do, then don't wait for somebody else to do it. Take your education upon yourself, seek out others with those same interests, network with knowledgeable people within the Fraternity to assist you with finding materials relevant to your research interests. And when you feel comfortable that you've become knowledgeable enough to do so, by all means share it!
I'll tell you from experience--there are no limits to what you can accomplish in this Fraternity if you're willing to apply yourself. As you work on improving yourself through this process of learning, you'll be able to help improve others as well. And I think you'll discover as I have, that there is nothing more satisfying.
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.D. You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org