by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, 33°, FMLR
Congratulations to Very Much Most Worshipful Brother John Henry Doe, who has just been elected the Grand-Grand Master of all of Freemasonry. This is an opportunity he has long sought. He's been griping for years about the problems facing the Brotherhood and now he, and he alone, has the power to turn things around. So, now what?
VMMWB Doe: Well, first, I put on my gold jewel, gold apron, gold crown, grasp my gold baton of authority and sit in my gold chair in the East.
VMMWB Doe: Oh, you mean that isn't enough? Well, talk, as you know, is cheap. So all the griping I've been doing has pretty much been hot air. If I have real responsibilities here, I guess I'd better hire a consultant who has a track record of turning organizations around… someone from outside the fraternity who can take an objective look at Freemasonry and make recommendations in the unlikely event we're doing something wrong.
Accordingly, VMMWB Doe, after much consideration, hires the best business consultant around, Edsel P. Highpower III, MBA, to analyze the Craft and recommend actions for improvement. Highpower studies the fraternity and reports back to VMMWB Doe.
VMMWB Doe: Well, Highpower, what do you think?
Highpower: I think you're nuts.
VMMWB Doe: Excuse me?
Highpower: Everyone says you have a membership problem. Membership has been declining for decades and continues to decrease. I understand you don't just want anyone to join, but, still, you really do have a membership issue. YET YOU EXCLUDE HALF THE WORLD FROM BECOMING MEMBERS!
VMMWB Doe: Are you suggesting we should admit women? You just don't understand us. I can assure you we will never admit women. What other bright ideas do you have?
Highpower: You lack strong consistent leadership. Throughout the world Freemasonry is a conglomeration of separate Grand Lodges loosely connected, each making up its own rules. It's even worse in the US — Fifty or so separate Grand Lodges sharing territories with fifty or so other Grand Lodges, some not recognizing others for whatever reason; and, frankly, a couple of Grand Lodges going completely off the rails.
VMMWB Doe: You just don't understand us. Freemasonry is a grass-roots organization. We will never have a universal central leadership. All they would ever do is raise our per-capita.
Highpower: You missed the point. Where is your single voice for Freemasonry?
VMMWB Doe: What about me? I am, after all, the Grand-Grand Master.
Highpower: You know very well this is a fictional piece. Let's move on to the next issue. This is not your father's world; this is not your father's Freemasonry. We live in a world steeped in promotion and advertising. It's everywhere. Google isn't just a search engine, FaceBook isn't just a social network; their very essence is all about advertising. Freemasonry does little to promote itself in a world that increasingly only responds to hype. The public usually only sees stuff from places like the History Channel with overtones suggesting creepy things are going on behind Lodge doors. You need to consistently, regularly get the word out about your real purpose and activities. You need to do it in a classy way and not come off like a bunch of snake-oil salesmen. To put it succinctly, you need a public relations program, and it goes back to needing that single voice for the Fraternity.
VMMWB Doe: Highpower, you really don't understand us. Some of the stuff on TV and the Internet is such drivel it's not worth our response. And we certainly don't like people who blow their own horn. Advertising or, as you call it, promotion, is beneath us. You won't see that around here. Didn't you find anything I can use?
Highpower: I found this — most of your Lodge meetings are boring.
VMMWB Doe: How would you know? You're not a Mason and you're not allowed to attend our meetings.
Highpower: YOUR OWN MEMBERS SAY THEY ARE BORING.
VMMWB Doe: If our own members thought the meetings were boring attendance would be really low.
Highpower: I rest my case.
VMMWB Doe: Highpower, you're fired. I don't need you. I can come up with my own ideas to turn this Fraternity around. In fact, I'm planning to introduce one that will be great. I'm going to call it "Every Member Get A Member."
Epilog: After implementing his innovative "Every Member Get A Member" program, Very Much Most Worshipful Brother Doe continued to see membership decline, but at a slightly slower pace. He counts that as his greatest achievement as the Grand-Grand Master of all of Freemasonry.
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.