Why Are We Always Talking About What We Can't Do?

by Midnight Freemason’s Founder 
Todd E. Creason, 33° 

The devastating fire in April 2019 was not the end of Notre Dame Cathedral, but the Cathedral will not rebuild itself.
“If you think you can do a thing, or think you can’t do a thing—you’re right.” 

~Henry Ford 

I just read another article about the impending death of Freemasonry. We’ve got to start closing our Lodges and pooling our resources because membership is falling and nobody wants to join us anymore. Sometimes I think when I read these articles that there are too many Freemasons out there rooting against their Fraternity instead of working to turn the ship.

Like Henry Ford suggested, it’s all about what you believe and what you actually do. One of the things that impressed me the most about Freemasonry was the big impact such a small group of men could have on their community. In my little lodge in the Midwest we started a Masonic Charity Trail Run, and we did it for several years. There were literally four of five members of my Lodge that did 90% of the work, and we raised tens of thousands of dollars for local charities, and most of that money was raised through private donations not through the entry fees. That money went a long way in helping those local charities, and providing services for those desperately in need in our own communities.

While several lodges around us failed, closed, and merged, a few of my Brothers and I formed a new chapter of the High Twelve several years ago—I was the charter President. We’ve used that club to introduce new Masons to the wider world of Freemasonry. We’ve encouraged our members to bring their Entered Apprentices and Fellow Crafts so they can get used to the idea that Freemasonry is bigger than just that Lodge up over the hardware store in their town. We’ve had many, many speakers over the years, including the President of the University of Illinois.

While other groups were busy dying, we’ve been building.

During this same period of time we managed to save one of the oldest Lodges in our area. We did so by improving the meetings and turning it into Lodge that was more education based. We have great meetings, we get guests from other Lodges that come for our programs, and a Lodge that was facing closure at least for the time being has come back alive in our community.

While other groups were busy dying, we’ve been building.

And in that same lodge building, we formed a brand new chapter of the Royal Arch—Admiration Chapter! I’ve talked about this group many times before. Again, it has a focus on education, and we get guests coming from all over the state. We’ve grown quickly, and in our last meeting we had guest from Bloomington (1 hour away) and Pekin (2 hours away) and elsewhere along with several members of the Grand Chapter . . . on a Thursday Night.

While other groups were busying dying, we’ve been building.  My first-hand experience is very different than what the conventional wisdom is on this subject.  We're too focused on the problems rather than the possibilities, and we give up far too easily.  And I'll be the first to admit that this is hard work.

Let’s look at the positives we could (and should) be building on. Self-Improvement has not gone out of style—it’s a multi-billion dollar a year industry. There are seminars and retreats and apps, etc. Look at the number of self-improvement books published every year on subjects that Freemasonry has historically done a much better job with teaching men for generations. Population is increasing so there’s plenty of men out there to recruit. There are fewer and fewer institutions teaching those values that men today are wanting to learn from all those books and seminars that are available . . . topics like leadership, and character, and integrity, etc. Freemasonry has been teaching men these fundamental principles for three centuries. We’ve just gotten away from doing that, and we’ve forgotten how. So that’s where you start.

But rather than going to work to build another generation of Freemasons, we sit on our thumbs in boring meetings and wonder why nobody joins our Fraternity anymore, and while the world around us expands, we shrink. Masons complain to me about these problems all the time, and when I ask what they're doing about it, I get these blank looks.  Instead of figuring out how they can save their lodge, they sit around waiting for the doors to close.

It’s been said that great nations die when they get away from the things that made them great to begin with. Fraternities work the same way. And that’s the real problem we’re facing today.  We can blame it on the changing world around us that lacks values and a desire to grow, but if you know your history, you'll know that this is the exact kind of environment in which Freemasonry was born.  And they thrived because they offered an alternative to the world around them.  There's no reason we can't do the same thing today.  


Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog, and an award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. Todd started the Midnight Freemason blog in 2006, and in 2012 he opened it up as a contributor blog The Midnight Freemasons (plural). Todd has written more than 1,000 pieces for the blog since it began. He is a Past Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) where he currently serves as Secretary. He is a Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research (FMLR). He is a charter member of the a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 and currently serves as EHP. You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

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