by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson
I guess I'm a pretty new Mason. Thinking about it in terms of years in, I have only nine or ten. It sounds like a lot of time and yet, when compared to others, well, I'm new. In my short time however, I've done a lot. I've travelled all over the country presenting educational topics on Masonry, I do a podcast, and I write.
It seems likely that had I never become a Mason, I would have still been writing. I write for various magazines at times. But only here, in Freemasonry is the majority of my time spent. It's what keeps my mind moving. Sometimes I'm caught up on a bit of ritual. Sometimes it's how to fix something I feel is just completely backwards. Other times, it's like a tornado of process improvement stuff, as it relates to the fraternity.
I have recently been faced with a dilemma. I usually am inspired to write when something bothers me. When something needs to be addressed. When I first joined I had fresh eyes. I saw things that were interesting, I wrote about it. I saw something I thought needed some light shed on it and I wrote about it. I used to harp endlessly about the need for education in lodges. And now, "I got notthin."
I kind of hate it. But the truth is, I would never criticize anyone who's trying. We don't critique someones diet when their trying to lose weight. We don't critique the drop out who's back in school. We don't talk down to the person who's trying to do better. And in that same vein, Masonry has seemed in most respects to finally be on boarding education. Enough people have stepped up to the plate and have realized that Masonic education is the only item that can engage membership once the degrees are over.
I know some of you will say, social events and brotherhood and on and on. And whilst that's true, Masonic Education alone is the universal aspect, something we are supposed to provide which has a direct tie to engagement in our members. It's the point on which the active membership numbers balance. And you know what? Most Grand Lodges, subordinate lodges both small and large are beginning to provide this meaningful content.
And for once, this loud mouth has nothing to whine about. No soap box. Nothing to say except, keep up the good work. I feel like for the first time that there are enough resources like Masonic blogs and podcasts, that it's now okay to not stress about it. For the first time, I know when I'm done, the mission is in good hands. Today there are more than SIXTY reputable Masonic blogs out there. Sites run by everyday masons, with no tie to a Grand Lodge or an agenda other than informing the fraternity and the profane with quality information and opinion. On the other side of the coin there are literally THIRTY Masonic podcasts out today! When I started there were four. Scott Blasken of The Digital Freemason, WCY (thats me), and two defunct shows which were no longer on air.
You guys, we're killing it. Masonic Education, along with a focus on a quality Masonic experience that's more than frozen pizza and mundane business is the key. And we've discovered this. We're unlocking the doors. We're making a difference within. Fulfillment is the key. As Robert Herd once said, "When we fulfill our members, the members will fill the lodge." And before you think that this means twenty or more brothers is the goal here, it really isn't. The goal is a cadre of experienced, enlightened individuals working together to give each other the experience they've always wanted. To rejoice in the education and betterment of each other. If we have some fun along the way, so be it.
One day, historians may look back on this era of the Craft and think to themselves, "That's when it happened. That's when membership declined to a point, stabilized and we see an uptick in longevity, fraternal success and community works." This is the crest of the bowl, brothers. We dipped so low and we've been rising. We're right there. Earlier in the text I said, "For the first time I know that when I'm done, the mission is in good hands." And even though I know that, I cannot be caught asleep at the wheel. I cannot stop providing this content, and neither can YOU. Education is hard and it's easy to quit. It's an uphill road and if we lay off the gas now, we'll roll backward. Don't let it happen on our watch.
RWB, Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Waukegan Lodge No. 78 where he is a Past Master. He is also a Past District Deputy for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry and is also an avid home brewer. He is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.