What If We Actually Did Masonry?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RW Robert H. Johnson


We’ve all been there, a meeting where everyone has to put in their two cents regarding a charity event or a lodge repair. A discussion that lasts twenty minutes too long. Men informing the lodge that they “know a guy.”, who can do it cheaper, or perhaps raising the dues $5 a year is too expensive, or still yet, perhaps it's about how much money is going to be earmarked for the upcoming scholarships.

I commend these brothers who dig into the nitty-gritty of lodge minutia. It’s something I’ve just never cared much about or felt I needed to contribute to. These guys are into it though, they do it without being prompted, they take ownership and are made sure their voices are heard.

The title of this article alludes to the core mission of Freemasonry, to make good men better. Yes we’re charitable, yes we serve our communities, but what are we teaching our members about actually improving men? I addressed this concern in a previous piece which you can read HERE.

What if though?

What if, that same gusto for discussing these things--building maintenance and pancake breakfasts, was had when we introduced Masonic Education? What if Masonic Education wasn’t met with eye rolls from around the lodge? What if people cared as much for Masonic Education as they do about the minutia? What if Worshipful Masters didn’t buckle under the stress of the membership, requiring Masonic Education to be a mere five minutes or less? What if we did what we’re supposed to do, and fulfill the membership in the Masonic way, through improvement and education? What if instead of being told that we should start a study club on off nights for Masonic Education, we embraced the present opportunity to affect all present?

What would happen if we ALL changed the order of business, so that Masonic Education came right after the opening? What would happen if we spent twenty, thirty, dare I say an hour on a topical presentation complete with questions and answers with discussion from the brothers? Maybe we just change it so that it’s all education and only a couple bills? What would happen if these brothers were as engaged in the educational topic as they are about replacing the toilet seat, or procuring the free pancake mix from the local restaurant? Would the previous discussed minutia be then seen as the five minute bastard of the meeting? Relegated to the end, much like education is in too many lodges?

The chances are we would lose a lot of members by doing this. In fact, because Freemasonry is many different things to many different people, the least of which is an educational system. To do these things would require some sort of drastic change within the organization. Perhaps the way to experience this for those interested is to start a new lodge based on these principles.

Recently there’s been some great conversation about members who are unsatisfied, starting their own lodges. In some cases, a Grand Lodge has asked the members, “Rather than walk away, why not start a new lodge?” Members took that advice. Members across the USA are taking that advice.

Perhaps something that needs to be considered here is that Freemasonry should serve to fulfill its membership. Instead, what occurs is that the membership is largely guilted into not giving up on the current lodge, not walking away and actually to double and triple down and urged to join all the other appendant bodies. These extra organizations which are looking for anyone at all to convey the degrees upon, many times in an abbreviated form, just to get a warm body in a position. Bro. Scott S. Dueball made a case for this in his piece, “Blue Lodge First”, read it HERE.

Above I asked a whole lot of questions, and in my imagination, I thought about the response I would likely get online and the things which would be talked about, if at all. I just couldn’t help but think to myself, that the response would be something like, “I wouldn’t go to lodge anymore.” or perhaps, “By doing education first or by pushing hard for Masonic Education like this, you’re being unbrotherly.” I don’t know how that would be true, but that's basically what I think I’d hear.

I think those imaginary but prophetic responses I mentioned earlier are why the idea would never work. It’s why the membership that’s out there should just go ahead and start a new lodge if they want the educational kind of experience. Focus on what you want and leave the rest behind until they learn to attract you through additional fulfillment, not by begging you to show up. Have doubts about how this works? Check out Admiration Chapter of Royal Arch Masons in Eastern IL. Or ask Homer Lodge, also in Eastern IL about having education right after opening and letting it go for "...as long as it goes." according to Todd E. Creason, founder of the Midnight Freemasons. In fact recently, Todd had let me know that one of their chief detractors in the beginning of this effort, recently came to him and Greg Knott to tell them how much he now looks forward to the meetings.

While some reading this might belong to an education focused lodge and have no issues, I assure you, you are the minority.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. If Freemasonry is indeed a system which teaches good men to be better, then we better start having more education meetings than degrees and business combined. If we’re not doing this, we’re just lip service.

~RHJ

3 comments:

  1. I love Masonic Education and would love to see more meetings for the sole purpose of Masonic education and I’m happy to see some things like that on the calendar at the Pilot Lodge and I look forward to that meeting.

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  2. Loved it. Bro. Aman, Temple Lodge No. 324, Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario.

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  3. Thank you, Brother Johnson. I’m pleased to report that education has been central to our rebuilding of Alpha Lodge (www.alphalodge.org). Of course, we had already had a complete turnover prior to embarking on this journey, so we’ve had few obstacles. Our lodge is now growing based on this theme, and we have regular visitors. Fibonacci Lodge #112 has been a source of inspiration for our lodge. We don’t expect every lodge to be like ours, but the active members look forward to every meeting.

    Sincerely and Fraternally, Adam C. Marks, PM

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