Do you consider Freemasonry service to God? According to the Masonic Service Association of North America (https://www.msana.com/religion.asp) :
“Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. It requires of its members a belief in God as part of the obligation of every responsible adult, but advocates no sectarian faith or practice. Masonic ceremonies include prayers, both traditional and extempore, to reaffirm each individual's dependence on God and to seek divine guidance. Freemasonry is open to men of any faith, but religion may not be discussed at Masonic meetings.”
“Freemasonry Supports Religion. Freemasonry is far from indifferent toward religion. Without interfering in religious practice, it expects each member to follow his own faith and to place his Duty to God above all other duties. Its moral teachings are acceptable to all religions.”
Do you consider service to a worthy distressed brother part of Freemasonry? Yes, of course it’s a large part of Freemasonry. However, in the Entered Apprentice Charge, you were taught about the duties that we owe to God, our neighbors and ourselves. The charge reminds you to act upon the square with your neighbor, rendering him every kind office that justice or mercy may require, relieving his distresses and soothing his afflictions, and by following the Golden Rule, doing to him as you would want him to do to you in a similar case. Therefore, your duty is not only to a worthy distressed brother, but rather to all of humanity. It’s obvious that serving all of humanity will take up a large part of the eight hours given for service to God and worthy distressed brothers. It’s pretty obvious that all of your Brothers that aren’t showing up for Masonic activities are busy performing that task.
Unless your vocation is Freemasonry, then you’re not going to be able to pursue Freemasonry during those eight hours you are at work. That then leaves the eight hours for refreshment and sleep. Are you able to attend lodge while you’re asleep? I mean I know a few grumpy Past Masters that I’ve seen doze off during meetings, but I don’t think that is what the explanation had in mind. What about during refreshment? If a lodge is at refreshment, then they are not performing Masonic labor, so one can only think that if you are refreshing yourself, that you are not performing it either.
You might remember that you were told in your Entered Apprentice degree that it was hoped and expected that you would apply yourself to the study of Masonry. You will recall from your Fellowcraft Charge, that the impressive ceremonies of that degree were calculated to inculcate in the mind of the novitiate the importance of the study of the liberal arts and sciences, especially of the noble science of Geometry, which forms the basis of Freemasonry. It is clear that while you’re wasting your time in lodge; your missing Brethren are hard at work learning this useful knowledge.
Stop wasting your time with Freemasonry and do something worthwhile with your free time! I’m serious. Yes, you read that correctly. You didn’t pay attention during your degrees! All of the brothers that aren’t showing up for stated meetings, degree work, and Lodge social events; they obviously are not showing up for the reasons given above. They’re managing their time according to the 24 inch gauge! They’re pursuing the study of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, especially Geometry! Why aren’t you? Why are you continuing to attend paralyzing business meetings? Why do you subject yourself to the same mundane experience meeting after meeting?
I hope by this point in the article, my attempt at satire isn’t lost on you. Maybe it is, and you’ve only read the title and not the article and you’re flaming me on social media. Let’s do some basic math. In most cases, out of the dues paying membership of your lodge, you have 90% - 95% that are not participating actively. Out of that percentage, there is maybe 5%-10% that might participate. Maybe they’ve not attended in a long time, and they’re embarrassed about forgetting the passwords. Maybe they’ve been ill, and no one from the lodge has checked in on them. Or maybe they just got tired of attending a two hour long business meeting without getting anything that improves them as men out of it?
If you’re not getting new members, or you’re failing to get members to show up, then our lodges leadership needs to take a good look in the mirror. There’s obviously something wrong with what some of us are currently doing. We're not going to figure it out by talking to the guys that still show up for lodge meetings, degree work, social events and the like. We need to engage those that are not showing up. We need to reach out to those members. Ask them what’s keeping them from attending, and work to correct that. Ask them to help turn things around. Engage them! Give them a role, and support them in it. Or stop wasting your time with Freemasonry and do something worthwhile with your free time. The choice is yours.
WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.