Memorial Day - 156 Years Later

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

Photo Credit: Greg Knott

Memorial Day for most people marks the beginning of summer. Often celebrated by backyard BBQ parties, trips to the lake, or a day at the pool, it often seems that the original purpose of Memorial Day has been forgotten.

The history of the beginning of Memorial Day has several towns taking credit for holding the first celebration. One of the more interesting and compelling stories of the first Memorial Day took place after the Battle of Charleston in 1865 when a group of African Americans who had been freed from enslavement held a parade around the Charleston horse track. Newspaper accounts say that a crowd of 10,000 gathered to watch marches by the famed 54th Massachusetts Regiment and listen to bible verses read by Black ministers. You can read the entire story here:

Memorial Day was formerly known as Decoration Day, when General John A. Logan, the leader of the Grand Army of the Republic declared “The 30th of May 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.” Congress made this an official public holiday in 1971.

156 years later what does Memorial Day mean to us, the American people? Why does it still matter to remember those who fell and made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of freedom?

Memorial Day is a commemoration of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. They were young and were the sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives of our fellow Americans. Not coming home left a void in the lives of their family and friends. They did not get the chance to see their children grow up, attend the ball games, scout meetings, church events, family reunions. Missed seeing their daughter walk down the aisle or their son bringing home that special girl that would later become his wife. They did not know their grandchildren or perhaps great-grandchildren. This is what Memorial Day means to the American people.

Why should we still need to remember these fallen on Memorial Day? I urge you to simply look around at what their sacrifice provided to all of us. A magnificent nation based on ideals that make us the envy of the world. The freedom to raise our families and to accomplish our dreams and aspirations. The ability to worship as we choose. The chance to attend those ball games, scout meetings, etc.

It seems harder now for society to remember those who fell on our behalf. We are distracted by social media, politics, and just “being busy”. But I urge you to take one moment and think about all those who never returned home. Go visit your local cemetery and simply read the names of some of those who served. Volunteer to help make your community a better place. Conduct an act of kindness to someone that will make our society more civil. Tell someone "Thank You". Tell someone that you love them.

Take a moment to remember and be thankful and their sacrifice will not have been in vain.


WB Gregory J. Knott is a founding member and Senior Contributor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign-Urbana. He is also a member of ANSAR Shrine (IL) and the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. Greg serves on the Board of Directors of The Masonic Society and is a member of the Scottish Rite Research Society and The Philathes Society. He is a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. and serves as its Secretary. Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts—an Eagle Scout himself, he is a member of the National Association of Masonic Scouters. You can contact him at

Portable Temples

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Randy Sanders

While creating a presentation on Creating Sacred Spaces a few months ago, it came to me that we are our own portable sacred space. This was a bit of an epiphany in that several things came together, connecting a few more dots.

Freemasonry teaches representation of the Temple of Solomon, and esoteric anatomy points us down a more personal internal path where even Christianity teaches us that we should internalize and contemplate the same. Corinthians: "Don’t you know you are the temple of God?" Or for those who enjoy the King James version, this is from the year 1610 edition I found on the Internet: "Knowe yee not that yee are the Temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"

If you're a serious student, scholar, or even practitioner of Christianity, shouldn't you take that literally as well as allegorically?

The sacred space within us travels with us. We don't simply leave the sacred space of our home, temple, or lodge to mix again with the world. We live that whole "mixing again" with the outside world, and we might want to focus a bit more on how we use our portable temple. It may well be impractical to cleanse a supermarket with sage or carry a censer around with incense, but we have alternatives that don't have to involve banishing rituals. We are Masons. We learn to invoke! We invoke the blessings of Deity before any serious undertakings, right?

So to cut to the chase, talk to your angels, or saints, or higher self. Invoke the blessings of the divine in all your doings as prescribed by the Masonic ritual. Understand that anywhere you go can be sacred, but it's up to you to apply that lesson in your own life. The moral lessons we learn in Freemasonry create the lens, and it's our lens with which we can see.

Bro. Randy

Bro. Randy and his wife Elyana live in O'Fallon, MO just outside of St. Louis. Randy earned a
Bachelors in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry, and he works in telecom IT. He volunteers his time as a professional and personal mentor, is an NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer, and enjoys competitive tactical pistol. He has a 30+ year background teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and healing arts. Randy's Masonic bio includes lodge education officer of two blue lodges, running the Wentzville Lodge Book Club, active in York Rite AMD, Scottish Rite Valley of St. Louis co-librarian, Clerk of the Academy Of Reflection through the Valley of Guthrie, a trained facilitator for the Masonic Legacy Society. As a pre-COVID-19 pioneer in Masonic virtual education, Randy is an administrator of Refracted Light and an international presenter on esoteric topics. Randy enjoys facilitating and presenting Masonic esoteric education, and he hosts an open, weekly Masonic virtual Friday Happy Hour. Randy is an accomplished home chef, a certified barbecue judge, raises Great Pyrenees dogs, and enjoys travel and philosophy.

The Freemason Fact Check

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

It's said that there is no such thing as bad publicity.  That is, it seems unless you are a Freemason.  While we do not have to deal with this as much in The United States as they do in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, we still see it.  The latest incident of this was last evening's episode of America's Book of Secrets: The Freemason Factor which appeared on the "History" Channel.  

The facts given by Bros. Hodapp, Alias, and de Hoyos were accurate as you might expect.  However, there were facts that couldn't be further from the truth. The most elaborate of these false claims were centered around hearsay.  Some of the "facts" reported in the special which classify as such are (this is by no means a complete list of the inaccuracies of the episode):

The Knights Templar found the grave of King Solomon under Temple Mount.  Did the Templars find something under Temple Mount?  We will never know.  There's no evidence to discount this, however, finding the tomb of King Solomon probably would not have been suppressed by the Holy Church of Rome at that time.  You're talking about an organization in the form of the Vatican which has been notorious for collecting artifacts to legitimize its power and authority.  If the Templars had found his tomb, I highly doubt that this would not have come to light given the time period.  The Church of Rome would have used this as a political tool to garnish more support for the Crusades.    

Grain and Oil were used by George Washington during the laying of the Capital Cornerstone. Any Freemason would know that the wages of a Fellowcraft Mason would have been used. A quick google search of Washington Laying the Capitol Cornerstone would have correctly identified Corn, Wine, and Oil as being employed in the ceremony. 

Jesse James was a member of and Albert Pike was the head of the Knights of The Golden Circle.  This is complete drivel.  There has never been any credible evidence to show either.  On the contrary, the author of Jesse James and the Lost Templar treasure states in this article that he has not seen any evidence of either.
 Another claim combined with the above is that Jesse James was a Freemason and that Freemasonry was instrumental in founding the Knights of The Golden Circle.  Were there Freemasons that were members of the KGC?  Undoubtedly. Was Jesse James a Freemason?  There's no evidence of him ever taking the degrees of Freemasonry.  There were also claims that the KGC ritual was borrowed from Freemasonry, but that the oaths were much darker. I will admit that there are some similarities in the ritual (which are also found in other Fraternal Bodies such as the Oddfellows and Knights of Pythias),  but on the whole, I don't see a direct borrowing of the ritual. If you want to look at the KGC ritual yourself, feel free to inspect it yourself. to:  

Freemasonry is a secret society and Freemasonry doesn't leave records of secret meetings. Seriously? Ask any lodge secretary about this. We love to take minutes.  Many of the minutes of the various Grand Lodges are available on  Once again, a little bit of research would have revealed this.  Furthermore, because the Bilderberg Meetings have similar rules of secrecy, Freemasonry is somehow in cahoots with the Bilderbergs.  Have there been any Freemasons that have been invited to the Bildenberg Meetings?  Yes.  Gerald Ford and Prince Philip are confirmed as having been attendees.  

Does this mean that Freemasonry is a hidden hand guiding the world? Of course not.  Yes, it's well documented that Freemasonry had an influence on the founding of the United States.  The idea that the Motto: Ordo Ab Chao (Order Out of Chaos), which is associated with 33 Degree Freemasonry and is displayed on a stained glass window in the House of the Temple because it was the motto of the First Supreme Council of the Thirty Third Degree, means that it's a mission statement for world domination is absurd.  Of course, the portion of the window saying this was displayed, but there was no mention of Fiat Lux (Let There Be Light) being on the top of the very same window.  

Does this mean that we want to change the world?  WB Jeffrey Ballou states that: "There are many involved in current social movements that are going to be Freemasons, not because they are at the center of planning it all, but because they are drawn to making a better world."  This was followed by Illustrious Brother Arturo De Hoyos saying: "The New World Order? I would like to simply see some order in the world. I would like to see people respecting each other. I would like to see people stop hating for ridiculous reasons."  Lastly, MWB Akram Elias stated: "We don't want to keep repeating the past, the great American Experiment moves forward, we're making a leap. I don't call it an agenda, I call it a service to humanity."  I'll let you draw your own conclusions. 

I'd urge you to watch the episode itself and see what your impressions are.  Ultimately, if it piques someone's interest enough to join the Fraternity, then I guess that the statement I allude to above is correct.  I felt that it was a typical Freemason documentary that has to rely on sensational claims to keep the viewer interested.  At the end of the day, I guess bad publicity is still publicity right?  


WB Darin A. Lahners is our co-managing Editor.  He is a Past Master of and Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph. He is also a plural member of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL), where he is also a Past Master. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of 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). You can reach him by email at

Why I Became A Shriner

by Midnight Freemason Regular Contributor
WB Christopher Hathaway 

Did I join the Masons to become a Shriner? No. Did I become a Shriner to help the kids? Also no. Stick with me because I am 100% in it for the kids, but it’s not one of my top reasons for joining. 

I became a Freemason so I could follow in the footsteps of the best man I knew. A man of character, a man of faith, and a man that could not be outworked. He spent many nights at the lodge helping new men become Masons. It was important to him and I wanted to know why. 

The Blue Lodge or Symbolic Lodge teaches the fundamentals of the fraternity and gives a man everything he needs to know in order to walk and act like a Master Mason. The Scottish and York Rite expand on that knowledge of the craft degrees. The Shriners were created as a means to have fun and celebrate the hard work in the quarries. In fact, they had so much fun the Children’s Hospital system was created as a by-product of good fun and fraternal activity. I joined the Shrine to have fun and market the fraternity. I joined to drive a little car and tell people that in order to become a Shriner, you had to become Master Mason first. 

You see, the brotherhood is what binds us together and it is what will get us through the next 100 years. Anyone can support a charity. I could drop out of the Shriners today and support our hospitals without ever attending a stated meeting again. Why don’t I just do that? Because that’s not the reason I am here. I want to build relationships with good men. I want to navigate life with people that hold the same principles near and dear to their hearts as I do. I want to know when the going gets tough, I have people that have my back through the thick and the thin. You can’t get that by sending in $19.99 to a website. Yes, it’s important! Yes, we love our hospitals. Yes, Shriners are heroes to kids across the world. So, how do we help even more kids? We initiate and create new Shrine Masons. We turn thousands of good men into walking billboards in their communities. When we do that, we will know of every kid that needs our help. We will make sure that every eligible kid can receive our top-notch care regardless of the family’s ability to pay. 

We will continue to innovate and prosper through the growth of a fraternity built on fun. A place where hardworking Masons can channel their philanthropic nature without being deep into the weeds of moral philosophy. A place where laughter reigns and the worries of the world seem distant. A place where a kid’s smile will pay back your efforts in gold. 

Do you know a good man who could benefit from our fraternity? Send them to or If you light a fire under one good man, that return on investment will be tenfold for our fraternity and our hospitals. 

“Blood is thicker than water but nothing is thicker than brotherhood” –Not Just a Man, A Mason.


WB Christopher J. Hathaway was raised in Catlin Masonic Lodge #285 and is a plural member of Normal Masonic Lodge #673 as well as Bloomington Lodge #43, where he is a Past Master. He belongs to the Valley of Danville, AASR where he is the Most Wise Master of the George E. Burow Chapter of Rose Croix and Membership Chairman.  He is the Oriental Guide in the Divan for the Mohammed Shiners, and the 1st Vice President of the Bloomington Shrine Club. Other appendant bodies include the Gao Grotto and the Illinois Lodge of Research. Outside of the lodge, he enjoys spending time with his wife Taylor and cheering on the Fighting Illini and Chicago Cubs.   


To Win Big, Think Small

by Midnight Freemason Regular Contributor
WB Christopher Hathaway 

Photography by  Catherine Lee Balsamello-Rutledge

We have all been in a classroom that had this quote hanging up on the wall: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars.” While it’s catchy and has good intentions, when we try to execute that strategy, we often miss the moon, miss the stars, and come crashing down worse off than we ever were pre-takeoff. So how do we achieve our wildest dreams? Set expectations low and learn how to win.

Small calculated steps turn into winning big. Innovation, financial freedom, weight loss, all starts with intermediate achievable goals. In Freemasonry, we call this chipping away at our rough ashlar. Our rough ashlar represents our imperfect form. There is a reason we say chipping away. You can’t improve yourself overnight. Chipping away at your imperfections takes patience and persistence.

Many people think success is lucky or inherited, that a million-dollar idea comes out of nowhere. In reality, innovation and new ideas do not happen that way. Jeffrey Lowenstein, one of my professors at the University of Illinois, explained that creativity is a cognitive process that hinges on changing one’s perspective. In other words, the idea of the mad scientist coming up with a brilliant idea due to his sheer intellect is not correct. We can all be creative innovators if we start with the right perspective.

Having studied business and economics, I tend to see things through a financial lens. When trying to win with money, the first step people often choose is getting out of debt via the snowball effect made popular by Dave Ramsey. It is the most successful method because it allows people to get small wins, changing their attitudes and perspectives. Is it the best way mathematically? Not in theory. But it is the best way in practice because it yields the results people are seeking.

Think about your lodge. How many times have people said “we need more candidates” or “we need more help with the degree work.” Those are actually big goals that often lead to disappointment. Start with small wins that get people excited and motivated. How is the lodge doing on landscaping? What was the quality of the last meal? Is the lodge clean and professional? All three of those things are small wins that take little effort and manpower. You would be surprised by the kind of momentum you can gain by doing the small things correctly.

Take a look around your lodge and try to achieve small wins this month or year. Use the 15-minute rule to see what you can achieve in your Masonic activity. Take 15 minutes every day and do as much as you can. That could be studying rituals, sending out emails or phone calls, sweeping a dusty corner of the lodge, or writing down ideas for the next stated meeting. Your brethren will take notice and you can explain how easy it is to achieve your goals by breaking them down into small actionable items.

One of my favorite quotes from Hall of Fame Duke Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski is: “Having fun is doing hard things well.” Freemasonry is not easy. It is not for the faint of heart. But when we improve ourselves, our lodges, and our communities, we all benefit. When it’s done well, it’s a lot of fun.

The Bible, one of the great lights in Freemasonry, has this to say in Luke 16:10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much”. The words trusted and faithful are interchanged depending on translation but the meanings are the same. Do we have faith and trust in ourselves to do the small things right? Can we really expect a man to give his time, talents, and money to an organization that doesn’t pay attention to the details? Not in today’s world. There are too many options. Freemasonry is just one school of moral thought, just one form of social activity, just one branch of charity. I am confident if we go back to the basics and take care of the fundamentals, the best of what Freemasonry has to offer will satisfy our members for years to come.

Who’s with me? Who wants to win big by thinking small?


WB Christopher J. Hathaway was raised in Catlin Masonic Lodge #285 and is a plural member of Normal Masonic Lodge #673 as well as Bloomington Lodge #43, where he is a Past Master. He belongs to the Valley of Danville, AASR where he is the Most Wise Master of the George E. Burow Chapter of Rose Croix and Membership Chairman.  He is the Oriental Guide in the Divan for the Mohammed Shiners, and the 1st Vice President of the Bloomington Shrine Club. Other appendant bodies include the Gao Grotto and the Illinois Lodge of Research. Outside of the lodge, he enjoys spending time with his wife Taylor and cheering on the Fighting Illini and Chicago Cubs.   

Of Men and Landmarks

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Ken JP Stuczynski

The first thing I want you to know is that I'm okay with belonging to a men-only fraternity. The second thing I want you to know is that being men-only was incidental and not the reason I joined. When I heard about "making good men better" my brain translated it as making each good person better. This is not such a far stretch from "all men are created equal" having nothing to do with biological dimorphism. And yet my obligations take me farther than the term "men" (Brethren, fellows, etc..) and are very clear about not participating or communicating with a woman as a Mason.

This is where I get myself into trouble — I ask the question as to why this is so. "It's the way we've always done it" isn't good enough. Saying it's a Landmark isn't an answer either. WHY is it a Landmark? Are these timeless axioms arbitrary and without reason? Were they communicated to Preston and Webb's forbears directly by God and are therefore above contestation? Or is there some aspect of male psychology and spirituality embodied in Masonry that is unbefitting to be experienced by a female? Are there any Masonic virtues unique to the male of our species? There must be another answer.

There have been many, MANY enumerations of Masonic Landmarks over the centuries, from differing versions of the Old Charges to the myriad Constitutions of various jurisdictions. My Grand Lodge of the State of New York has no specific official list at all. They seem to be more than words, but understandings, and many of those understandings have either changed or been lost to time. There was a time someone lame or maimed would be excluded from the Craft, for example — something that was rethought and reworked after so many people returned "unwhole" from The Great War a century ago. On another note, Entered Apprentices no longer study for seven years. But these are reframing of the Landmarks from Operative to Speculative considerations.

More to the point, we find the term "free-born" has had to be interpreted and sometimes reworded in more recent times. The Prince Hall ritual I've seen uses the term "free man", and many jurisdictions across the world omit the word "born". This distinction has been used in early American Masonic history to justify racial exclusion and non-recognition. When taken literally, does the legal or social status of a baby truly have a bearing on their ability to do true Masonic work as a man? Or is there some other reason for the necessity of this declaration before receiving the Degrees?

The answer may be more obvious than we realize. A slave could not enter into a contract, and the son of a slave – according to many laws in older times – commonly bore a similar legal restriction. If you were too young, you could not enter into anything binding by yourself. If you were not of sound mind, or an old man in dotage, your promises were contestible or outright void.

Do you know what else precluded you at the time the ritual was written from choosing of your own free will and accord? Being a woman. If you were a woman in the Western World of the 18th Century (and well after), you simply could not be trusted any more than a slave to give consent over your own matters. Your obligations weren't binding. It would be like trusting the oath of an atheist swearing on the Bible, or the promise of a drunken libertine.

Yet we argue over whether or not women in women's jurisdictions are really Masons. We dole out Eastern Star, Amaranth, and other such groups like some sort of consolation prize. From experience (my wife and I were Matron and Patron of our local Star chapter) I can tell you some of the older ladies are alright with seeing themselves as part of an auxiliary to the men. To younger women, it's offensive, even if the unpredictable prohibitions against wearing slacks don't drive away new members. Needing a man present for women to meet was normal 150 years ago, and meeting at all in such a way was ahead of its time — today, not so much. Some jurisdictions even consider the OES clandestine and women's Lodges as regular. But none of these conversations address the actual thinking behind any of this.

I still think there is a place for men-only Lodges. I respect some people's needs to learn what it is to be a "man", even if I am not sure if I or anyone really knows what that's supposed to mean. But I don't think that was why Masonry was invented. And I would suggest it's not just possible, but necessary to learn to be a better man from more than just other men. The women in our lives can have an equally profound impact on our character and perceived social roles. And most importantly, men and Masonry cannot go into the future by themselves and expect to survive. Heck, we aren't even allowed to meet on college campuses because of Title IX considerations. What does this say about us? It took us TWO HUNDRED YEARS for most of us to come to grips with Prince Hall Masons. Are we to wait another hundred years before at least fully recognizing Women Lodges and Co-Masonry?

The question "why" isn't going away. The old answers aren't acceptable anymore, if they ever were. Traditional Masonry and women's and youth organizations in the Masonic Family must all play catch-up to ensure Freemasonry is pertinent to the realities of modern society. Like I always say about the future of the Craft — we're all going to get there together, or not at all. And that starts by asking "why" the Masonry we believe in so much is reserved for one half of humanity and not the other.


Bro. Ken JP Stuczynski is a member of West Seneca Lodge No.1111 and recently served as Master of Ken-Ton Lodge No.1186. As webmaster for NYMasons.Org he is on the Communications and Technology Committees for the Grand Lodge of the State of New York. He is also a Royal Arch Mason and 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, serving his second term as Sovereign Prince of Palmoni Council in the Valley of Buffalo, NMJ. He also coordinates a Downtown Square Club monthly lunch in Buffalo, NY. He and his wife served as Patron and Matron of Pond Chapter No.853 Order of the Eastern Star and considered himself a “Masonic Feminist”.

Sometimes we can’t see the message for the meme

   by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM

A few years ago, while mindlessly scrolling through social media I saw, what I thought was a funny meme. In the top panel, it showed the actors playing the couple from a recent blockbuster movie adapted by a book women bought in droves. The caption which was from a line in the film read: “I have a pleasure room; do you want to see it?” The panel below showed a garage full of muscle cars. Obviously being a guy, this made me chuckle. I decided to create one of my own. I took the first panel of the young couple and I replaced the garage with a photograph of the most beautiful lodge room Google could provide me. Pleased with myself, I posted my newly minted meme to my author Facebook page and on the Midnight Freemasons Instagram account.

Of course, many of the Brethren who viewed the meme got the joke and they replied with a “lol” or a laughing emoji. But many of the viewers lost their minds and a long discussion began on how this little meme of a couple and a lodge room was “Disgusting” and “Inappropriate” and even (wait for it) UNMASONIC!

Honestly, there isn’t much that surprises me anymore but I can say I was taken aback at the reaction of some of the Brethren who viewed this photo of a young couple, fully clothed, engaging in nothing scandalous, and the photo of a lodge room. They were basing their opinions on the knowledge that this photo came from a make-believe movie with a script that came from the author of the work of fiction the movie was based on.  (And from what I heard it was not even a good movie). If they did not know about that movie they would not have thought twice about those people. This got me thinking.

At first, I started thinking about how much symbolism we miss in our daily travels because of our biases and prejudices? Do we not see things that will make us better men or Masons because we refuse to look past the things, we think we have learned already? I realize symbolism is subjective and not everyone finds the same meaning from the same symbol, but is this why? Esoteric scholars can answer these questions much better than I can. I am a layman on the subject, so I will let others with much more experience pick up the mantle and take it from here.

I have also wondered how much we all would be different if we were stripped of our preconceived notions and prejudices. I admit I have some, I believe we all do to some extent. These days everyone’s minds automatically jump to the topic of race when they hear the word, prejudice. I believe these biases go much deeper than that.

I’m sure you have heard someone give their opinion on a political candidate or an election that may differ from yours and you may perceive them to be something they aren’t from that belief.  You may discover someone practices a religion (Or does not believe in religion at all) and you might think they are either on the wrong track or they can be harmful to society. They might have the best intentions in the world, but you might think they are a bad person because of your bias.  These are just examples, but it could be a bias on any topic, institution origin, or anything else someone else does that you don’t agree with or feel is wrong. Do you judge them for it?  If so, look in the mirror and r
emember the below from Matthew 7 1:3.

Judge not, that ye be not judged.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 


WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco, Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this, he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.


The Masonic Meat Grinder

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners   

I recently got into a discussion with my secretary about pushing a younger member into the progressive officer line.  He felt that we needed to push this member who is currently serving as our Chaplain into the officer line, and encourage him to sit in the Junior Deacon's chair.  I argued against it.  Unfortunately, Brother Secretaries' belief seems to be a pervasive one that I have encountered not only in Blue Lodge but in appendant bodies as well.  We need to stop forcing choices upon our members, especially when it comes to becoming an officer.  I call this sending them to the Masonic Meat Grinder.  I use this term because in forcing someone that has no desire to become an officer, we are essentially giving them the same choice that cattle have when lined up to go into the abattoir.  While we are not killing that member, essentially if they are not willing to serve as an officer, in forcing that upon them you will most likely never see that member again, and you will be lucky if that member continues to pay dues.  

While I believe that one of the many lessons that Freemasonry can teach you is leadership, not everyone is cut out to be a leader nor wants to be one. I understand that if you're an average lodge, maybe you're struggling to make a quorum, and therefore you feel that everyone needs to be in a chair.  In Illinois, a quorum is made up of seven members who are as our ritual explains: "The Worshipful Master, Senior and Junior Wardens, Treasurer, Secretary, Senior and Junior Deacons".  In my mind, those are the only chairs that need to be filled to conduct a stated business meeting. Everything else is superfluous.  

It's always puzzled me why we get a new member into the lodge and automatically assume he needs to go into the progressive officer line and put him into the Junior Wardens chair. I believe that being a Junior Deacon is a lot of responsibility for someone new to the Craft.  I feel that that chair requires not only ritual memorization but learning a lot of floor and rod work, which can be a bit overwhelming for a new brother.  Then after a brief explanation of what he needs to do (when I say my experience, it's lucky if the new brother gets more than 2-3 minutes of "On the Job Training").  Then inevitably another brother or maybe the same one, usually an older past master but not always, takes it upon himself to explain to this new brother everything he did wrong during the meeting.  If that brother shows up to another meeting, it's a miracle.  I was the rare exception to that rule.  Even though it angered me on so many levels, I decided early on that I wasn't going to let the grumpy past masters get the best of me.    

While many will argue that having a progressive line is detrimental to Freemasonry, as it allows men to serve as Worshipful Master that has no business in the chair, I point out that at least in my jurisdiction, the three main officers, as well as Treasurer and Secretary, are elected positions.  Unfortunately in our failure to properly guard the West Gate, we are also failing to guard the East.  We need to stop promoting members into positions that they are ill-suited for. The unpopular opinion that I am going to throw out here is that if you feel that the current officer is not ready to take on the responsibilities of his next position that you either have a discussion with this brother to see how he feels about staying in their current chair another year; or if that conversation is going to be impossible, that you find an alternative candidate and suggest that person for the office they will be moving into instead. In doing so, you are forcing every member to the ballot box; and there maybe other members that feel the same way as you do. Yes, it's probably going to cause disharmony in your lodge, but ultimately it might be saving your lodge from a potential disaster.  Nothing can damage a lodge faster than an elected officer that has no business being in that position, especially if that position is Worshipful Master, Treasurer or Secretary.  Let's stop promoting officers by nature progression and start electing them by their merits.  As much as I hate having to recycle officers, I feel that it's better than repairing the damage that can be caused by having the wrong man in a position of leadership.

I think that such disharmony can be avoided by mentoring the officers behind you in the line.  Case in point, at St. Joseph Lodge #970 in 2019, we had our Senior Warden leave due to health problems. This would have put moved our Junior Warden into the Senior Warden's chair, and into the Master's Chair a few months after that.  He was not ready for that responsibility.  I was serving as Junior Deacon at the time, and the secretary made an observation to the current master that he felt that the Junior Warden wasn't ready to move up and become Master in such a short time.  They had a honest discussion, and the Junior Warden agreed he wasn't ready to be Master, and would want to serve as Senior Warden for at least one year prior to becoming Master.  I was approached to sit in the Senior Warden chair for the remainder of the 2019 masonic year (Our year is from June to June at Saint Joseph #970), which would make Worshipful Master again in June of 2020.  Due to the pandemic, I made lodge history by becoming the only Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge to be installed virtually.  Let's hope that I continue to hold that distinction.  Of course this only works if the officers behind you are willing to be mentored or need mentoring.   

One of the main things I have been doing as Master is making sure that my Senior Warden is prepared for the East.  It will be his time serving as Worshipful Master. I have been mentoring him this past year.  The culmination of this preparedness was realized at our last stated meeting where had agreed that my Senior Warden would run the meeting.  I sat in the West, and he sat in the east.  I prepared the meeting agenda for him, but he did the opening, ran the meeting and handled the closing.  He did a fantastic job.  In allowing him to do this, I allowed him to have the confidence going into his year as Master because I gave him the opportunity to experience that position prior to being officially placed in it.  It is something that I wish would have happened to me when I was Senior Warden in 2016, prior to going into the East in June of 2017.

Returning to my original argument, not every member wants to be in the progressive officer line.  It's our duty as those that are in that line to not force them into the line before they are ready.  I would much rather have that member continue to show up at the stated meeting than to have him made to feel uncomfortable or even embarrassed by pressuring him into a chair that he has no desire to occupy for one meeting and see him never return.  While I understand that for a lodge on the verge of closing, this is a difficult thing to do and in some cases it might be an impossibility, but if you're in such dire straits you should be having a conversation regarding merging with another lodge.  A lodge should have enough members showing up to make quorum at their meetings that want to be in the progressive officer line to support those that do not.  While we also need to make sure that we are giving members a reason to show up for stated meetings by adding Masonic education and/or activities or opportunities for fellowship in the form of lodge dinners or festive boards; we need to make sure we are not forcing them to stay away by forcing an officer position upon them that they have no desire to hold.  


WB Darin A. Lahners is our co-managing Editor.  He is a Past Master of and Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph. He is also a plural member of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL), where he is also a Past Master. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of 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). You can reach him by email at

Why Your “Solutions” Aren’t Working: 2D Methods for a 3D World.

Part 4 in a series

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Mark St. Cyr

First, as we have been doing every time before we begin, let me make the following abundantly clear...

None of the following is to be interpreted as some offhanded cheap shot or ad hominem attack directed at any Grand Lodge, officers, members, appendant, concordant, or anything or anyone else in-between. There are many dedicated Brothers from white aprons to gold bullion’d working diligently to try and turn around what many believe is an inevitable outcome from coming to pass. And this entire series is to help enable those trying to figure out the best methods possible for doing just that. I stand in solidarity with every single one of them and offer my endearing support to that cause. Period, full stop.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program...

Back in October of 2020 WB Lahners wrote a piece posted on the Midnight Freemasons titled “Does Freemasonry Develop Talent?” It was both well said, as much as well needed.

It also was something which sent me to my keyboard as to possibly offer some insight because, I’ve seen so many throughout my career trying to do what they believe to be “The right thing” only to be left exhausted and disheartened from either poor results or, an acceleration of what they were trying to prevent or mitigate in the first place.

The implications to our fraternity at large via this premise are multifaceted. However, for this discussion, let’s look at just one that may have far broader implications in cause-and-effect than trying to address a multitude all at once.

So in that light, let’s define that underlying issue, yet more importantly, let’s discuss what are we to do about it. That issue is: Membership, both recruitment, as well as retention.

Here’s the issue: Many keep doing ‘something’ with a laudable pursuit to address an issue. However, most plans for attainment of the intended goal fall not only short but rather, end up turning once counted allies and followers into dejected spiritless bodies that do nothing more than go through the motions until they too, finally stop altogether.

It’s not something that’s isolated to Freemasonry. 
 It’s something that happens to any organization.

Any organization with some meaningful time and growth under its belt, fully past the developmental phase, this phenom occurs as if on rails and on schedule. i.e., Think when the startup or the entrepreneurial model crosses into what we would think of as the ‘developed corporate model,’ with strict corporate structure, titles, and responsibilities as our baseline.

It’s in this vein I’d like to offer the following as to not only help explain, but possibly help gain, willing advocates to what many describe as, “an overarching dilemma with existential consequences.

I’m not going to advocate ‘by force of will’ type scenarios. Rather, I’ll offer a tool for not only changing well-meaning perspectives but their relationship and strict adherence to them.

What I’ll also advocate, is at the root of our most current distress is this thing known as a ‘well-meaning perspective’ and what it entails. It can go by many other different names. One sounds eerily similar to “Doing something, anything is better than doing nothing!” Maybe, then again, maybe not--as we’ll discuss.

This issue resides in the category for one of the most fundamental challenges facing any organization. Again, this is not just a fraternity issue - it’s prevalent in all enterprises.

I will add to the above - it’s also fraught with unsuspecting consequences, such as...

Not understanding this single issue intuitively and earnestly, as I’ll demonstrate, allows for: clouded focus; impaired judgment; and/or the inability to implement any needed change to evolve, adapt or move forward. Subsequently, it can/will lead to irrelevancy and/or losing the fight for outright survival.

That’s not hyperbole.

So now with all the above said for context. Below is an adaptation of something I developed and use in my higher-end workshops to help business owners, CEO’s and other high achievers at the top of their markets or income strata, reignite that “breakthrough” thought process needed to develop and execute plans for market leader positioning.

The premise is to reintroduce and express the idea of perspective, and how the well-intentioned can believe they’re following “the right path,” yet can’t figure out why nothing is working out as planned.

In other words - It shows their path is not what they think, therefore, the planning and/or execution is fraught with misgivings.

And here’s the most important factor I’ll demonstrate for what we call “buy in...”

All while not telling or implying they are “wrong.” For as soon as you do, or they infer that’s what you’re driving at? It’s over before it began. There is also another possible consequence that can be even worse: Many will vehemently defend any or all prior bad decisions and processes, at all costs, out of saving one’s pride for ego’s sake.

Think about it.

Now onto the working example.

But before we begin, two points...

First: Please actually do the exercise. Trust me, you’ll be surprised in the end.

Second: This is quite a wordy or lengthy piece because it’s an adaptation of something done in a live setting, which reduces all this need for explanation through words down to a fraction of time. However, we don’t have that luxury here, so that’s that.

Let’s begin:

  • Take out a sheet of paper (preferably near the size of a sheet of copy paper) and place it in front of you, preferably on a desk or table.
  • Draw a large circle (pencil, pen, marker, doesn’t matter) that just about encompasses the entire sheet. i.e., not a tiny circle, but a large one that comes close to the edges.
  • Next, put a small arrowhead on the far right side, on top of your line, as to point in the up direction. Usually, it doesn’t matter where you place it, you can do it anywhere. But for this exercise, again, let’s put it on the right-hand side, on top of your line, pointing upward to show a counter-clockwise direction.
  • Stop there for the moment.

What you now have in front of you is what many so-called “business experts” will exclaim as, “A well-defined plan!”

(Remember, this is for example purposes and is meant to be overly simplistic)

In other words: Start here, do this, that, and another thing as to keep momentum up to go around for success – rinse, repeat.

Here’s a way I would like you to think about it using a different example...

Think about the construct of the Monopoly® board. Sure it’s square, but the same principle applies. In other words: you start here (e.g., where you placed your arrowhead), go completely around the board (i.e., circle) and collect $200 for passing “Go.” Or in our case, getting back to where we started to begin again.

Example: We advanced a petition; made a MM; did some other things (Line, etc.) with the MM to get back to “Go,” collect our “$200.” Rinse, repeat.

However, here’s what needs to be pointed out...

Collecting that $200 in regards to the board game was essentially to give a person that was all but out-of-the-game a lifeline to continue. Hence, we enter a ‘tread water’ aspect for an analogy.

Simple enough, correct? Good, now hold that thought...

Sticking with this simplistic construct, we can overlay most business plans when trouble shows up for they basically entail: Doing the above (i.e., go around and around, over and over again) where the presumption is to - ‘tread water’ - and just allow time to pass till they or someone else come up with something better.

It never works out that way though, does it?

Again, during a crisis of stagnation or turmoil, the thinking goes: If we can just do “this” (i.e., run our circle and collect $200, or in our case, get a petitioner, make a MM, etc., etc., etc.) we can pretty much tread water (membership wise) until we can come up with something better.

To reiterate, I’m being over-simplistic on purpose.

Now, how do we apply the above to the Fraternity and our current situation as far as membership roles?

Great question, let’s move on and see.

The dilemma that’s overtaking our fraternity in regards to membership and more, is that many are believing they are following the ‘right path’ – and – they’re reluctant to deviate.

Here’s a clue:

Look at the above example of Monopoly or our circle. That’s precisely what most are doing as they silently wish, hope, pray, ________(fill in your own here), that if things can’t get better in the very near future, at the very least, they won’t get worse.

That appears to make so much sense, right?

So round and round they go as circumstances produce the exact opposite, aka - get worse. (we’ll get into why later on.)

But hey, as the thinking goes, “They’re doing something!” And everyone will attest to that, correct?

Well yes, yes they are. However, what if I told you, or better yet show you, that what many are doing in a reaction to “doing something” is actually making what they’re trying to combat even worse?

Here lies the contentious issue to the above: In reality, not only will doing some of the measures explained not help tread water. Rather, they’ll get ever progressively worse (sometimes with gusto!) until - oblivion.

And we may be doing it to ourselves - and don’t even know it.

Now that’s a mouthful-and-a-half to back up. So the next question should be: How do I prove out what was just stated?

Again, great question, here’s the how...

Going back to our paper exercise with our drawn circle. What you have before you is the most simplified representation of why the best-laid plans usually never work. The reason?

Because most are working from a two-dimensional assumption for implementation (2D) to a problem that must be worked in a three-dimensional world (3D).

This is what our ‘circle on paper’ truly represents, as I’ll demonstrate.

What’s at issue here, is that far too many have never learned what I’ll explain in any real-time application processes.

But that’s not a problem in isolation. i.e., as to just not knowing. Let me explain...

Entrepreneurs combat this and overcome it, whether instinctively or intuitively. But, (and it’s a very big but) over time it atrophies, again, whether they’re cognizant of it or not, as the organization gains in time, size and structure.

Also for them (e.g., entrepreneurs) if or when they find themselves mired in this atrophy, for any reason, all they usually need for remediation is for it to be pointed out.

Or said differently: They only need to remember (or be shown) what they’re no longer doing, and they’ll take corrective measures with near immediacy.

This is a very easy mindset realignment for this set, for once they ‘get it,’ it begins to run with near immediacy back on autopilot.

For most others - they not only need to learn it, but to fully understand it, they’ll need real-time applicational processes. Usually, this needs to begin first with a sorting out process of who’s a ‘self-directed manager type’ vs ‘needs instructional guidance first type.’ Along with learning curve constraints, hesitancy analysis, and more. But those are more complicated issues and for another time.

So what we’re going to stick to here is broad and simple.

However, once you learn this simple example I’m now going to have you demonstrate – to yourself – not only is your thinking changed forever, rather, your approach to challenges (like changing perspectives) that once seemed insurmountable enter back into the reality of feasible. (Remember: nothing’s 100%)

Why is this a necessary tool for your toolbox?

Because overcoming a person’s perception of a change or task is much, much, much, much (did I say “much?”) harder than forcing someone to perform a task. Said differently...

You can order someone to do something and they’ll do it provided you have the right motivation. e.g., “Do this or you’re fired!”

Convincing them to do something via their own volition? Totally different animal.

In addition, here’s a bonus once you master it...

You’ll find it one of the most powerful processes to help gain needed allies. For once perspective is shifted from “That stuff doesn’t work, we’ve tried!” To more along the lines of, “Oh, we weren’t wrong, just our application and timing...” Things can move for the better, and in many cases, extraordinarily so.

So here’s the next step, back to our original paper...
  • Pick the paper up from the desk using both hands while keeping its orientation in the same plane as it was laying flat, holding it at about eye level. (Not hyper-extended in a death grip! Just straight out in front of you, loosely held between your fingers, like it was a serving tray.)
  • Now, lower your left hand about four or five inches while keeping your right stationery, so that the paper now forms a lazy S shape or a waterfall effect in middle. e.g., one end is now higher than the other. Remember, you’re not trying to hold the paper taught, just flat and allowing it to bend.
  • What you should now see in front of you, again, at about eye level, is just the closest edge of the paper making for all intents and purposes a lazy S shape or, small waterfall directly in the middle.
Here’s where we begin to examine the significance and implications of all this, which is...

The difference between two-dimensional (2D) planning and three-dimensional (3D) application.

Now, with your hands still holding the paper in front of you in this curved position: If we were to look down from the ceiling at this paper what we would see, is the same 2D representation of our original circle just as we drew it laying on our desk or table. i.e., a flat circle.

(This is a simple extrapolation for example purposes, not a ‘picture perfect.’ So no nitpicking! You know who you are.)

However, from the perspective you are currently viewing it (i.e., from the side at eye level): Does it still appear that to travel your circle our arrowhead is going to traverse a road to go round on a flat plane?

Or, are there now two plateaus, one higher than the other with two hills, one going up and one going down?

Here’s why this is so important...

Do you think there would be a different strategy and tactics needed to go around a flat circle as compared to one that has hills, a valley, and plateau as what you’re now holding?

Perspective suddenly matters, doesn’t it?

Don’t let this point be lost on you, truly consider the differences. Believe it or not - exercises such as this one is where competitive, market dominant edges reside when thought through properly. Here’s an example...

From a 2D perspective, basically, all that needs to be overcome is inertia. Other than that, once the inertia is broken, its momentum (even if it appears minuscule) will keep it moving along following Newton’s Law. e.g., As long as there’s no other opposing force applied to change it.

Simple enough, correct? 
So let’s apply this concept to a real example.

Using our original 2D circle (e.g., laying flat): This is pretty much how Freemasonry looks at the plan of a Lodge and MM, and it goes something like this...

Back to our circle, paper, and our arrowhead.

Start here; gain interest; gain a petition; vote and accept; quickly run through degrees; enter “the Line;” progress through chairs. Presumed result: a proficient, now solid dues-paying member of the fraternity with years left to participate in Lodge and more. Rinse, repeat.

Process time: approximately 5 – 7 years.

That is if it all goes according to the 2D plan. This pretty much sums up our ‘circle of life’ pretty accurately, does it not?

However, in the end, this so simple plan is destined to fail and fail miserably so, as I’ll demonstrate...

Playing a flat board game with strategies and tactics for that environment, rather than the complex strategies, tactics, and more that addresses the true issues needed in the real 3D world, where our fraternity resides, is not only a waste of time, but frustratingly so.

Back to our circle and paper...

I alluded prior to why doing the same thing will not only - not - keep us aligned with par. Rather, that strategy (e.g., 2D) may even quicken member loss through dissatisfaction resulting in increased demits; continued losses via attrition; less participation in all aspects of Masonry (the organization), and/or developing situations for even fewer petitions. i.e., No one’s interested in approaching or expelling the virtues of the Craft to anyone, when they themselves, are questioning why they remain.

Here’s another very important point that alludes most:

Even if you increase the number of those to ‘get on the circle,’ the results can not only still be the same, but to many’s chagrins - you can lose even more MMs in an accelerated proportion.

Think I’m off base?
Again, back to our circle exercise...

When we view our simple circle from a flat perspective, it hides what’s really happens in the real-world experience. Why is this process allowed to happen many may wonder? Here’s a clue...

Over time what takes place is that the thinking processes for addressing challenges relegate themselves more towards linear-based thinking and application. In other words: they self-gravitate towards ‘flattening out’ as I’ll demonstrate.

So this is not an issue as to the calling out of any or someone’s “fault” per se. It’s just one of those manifestations that moves itself into a default position if not carefully guarded against.

Let’s use a real example. e.g., “We’ve got a petition!” And place this person on our circle at our starting point we made with an arrowhead.

When we view this from the 3D model, rather than 2D perspective, we immediately speculate and reason (remember: in a 3D model our paper shows two hills, etc.) we’re now going to leave our highest plateau and go down our first hill, which we’ll equate to: the candidate is active, moves through the degrees. Momentum is on their side, interest and more are at their most self-fulfilling state.

In other words: The plan appears as working and progress is being made around our circle.

Now, from the 2D perspective: It will be assumed we are well on our way because it’ll be assumed, the momentum is strong. i.e., We’re progressing around our [flat] circle, Newton’s Law is in full force. And, we’ll falsely interpret we’re well on our way to getting back to “Go,” using the Monopoly analogy.

However, as we’ll see through our now 3D perspective - things are about to get a whole lot more difficult.

The candidate becomes a MM and is now sitting in what can be regarded as “The low valley.” i.e., He’s progressed from our original starting point (arrowhead) on our high plateau, and with reasonable speed and self-propelling momentum in our 3D model, has propelled down our hill and now sits at the polar opposite of our arrowhead in the lower plateau, or ‘valley.’

We’re now halfway around our circle and we’ve now produced in what many might believe is a MM in record time. All we have to do now is keep up the momentum (remember Newton’s Law?) and he’ll move around the remainder getting us back to “Go” where we can start again. Rinse, repeat.

But that’s not what happens, does it?

On a 2D scale, maybe. But we’re in a 3D world, remember? So now with that said - where does our newly crafted MM now sit again? Hint: at the base of an enormous-looking hill from his perspective.

Yet, while he’s looking and trying to gauge it, he’s also sitting in what many might call “The valley of confusion” where he’ll be greeted with business meeting after business meeting now that he’s become a MM.

Yes, boring, bland, repetitive business meetings capturing an unobstructed inside view of disgruntled PM’s and older members complaining about this, that, and every other thing, near if not completely non-existent masonic education, __________ (fill in your own list here).

And if he dares to ask questions or possibly assert that maybe there should be something “educational?” He’s told “We don’t have time for that stuff here. C’mon, we’d be here all night!”

Or how about the most over-abused deflections to any of his inquiries or suggestions...

“Join the line! You get out of Masonry what you put into it, blah, blah, blahhhhh.”

So he does, only to question very quickly his original intent on becoming a Freemason didn’t seem to include being responsible to serve the “green beans” and clean up after everyone.

This isn’t what he signed up for - and he knows it. Worse, it’s now beginning to eat at him every time he thinks about a Lodge meal.

He intuitively knows something’s not only missing, but something is terribly wrong with his original perspective and what his actual hindsight is telling him. i.e., “Maybe I made a mistake.”

We are currently fostering the above or similar far too often than many will admit.

Back to our exercise...

So now with the above as a backdrop: What’s the next phase to progress on our 2D circle plan?

Well, the thinking appears to go like this, to reiterate...

Get involved, get in the line! Masonry gives you what you put into it. You want more? Put in more! etc., etc., etc. For as the thinking goes – all we need to do is keep the Brother on “the path” (e.g., now represented by our 2D circle) and momentum will help take care of the rest.

So with that in mind. If we look at our circle we’re now halfway around, only another half left to go. Easy peasy, right?

Not so fast. What’s the issue again, if we look from his 3D perspective, rather than a 2D?

Hint: What we now can envision is what truly manifests in a real-world application. i.e., His path is far from one that’s on a flat trajectory.

He’s now facing, again, from his perspective, a long slog of a trek - all uphill.

However, there’s more to his (and our) problem using 3D manifestations.

This once enthusiastic candidate, more often than not, will be reduced to a disheartened and/or now disgruntled member once he spends any time in that lower plateau, aka “The valley of confusion.”

And the longer he remains there - the more apt he’ll be to not endure it. And yes, “endure” is a very fitting term for most. For if they’ve tried to suggest doing anything differently, or questioned current practices, they’re chastised in too numerous ways to list here.

And now they’re facing (in their minds) to supposedly “continue their journey” grows an ever-the-more insurmountable hill just to continue!

Now, putting yourself into his shoes (and for many of you it may mean back into your own) think of what will now be required, let alone, asked of them. And with what we’ve detailed above, just what do you think is going to be going through their minds even as they say “yes” to every request a Lodge may ask of them?

Hint: It ain’t good. Need I remind you to just look at the yearly membership roles? Or better yet, when’s the last time any of you saw the last PM or two of your Lodge - in Lodge?

So here’s the point...

Once you intuitively understand all the variable dynamics that may be inherent to what many will only see as a simple process to “Get the ball rolling!” in isolation. You quickly begin to correlate the reasons why the roles continue to fall as another well-intentioned plan to ‘stop the bleeding’ never seems to do just that.

Here’s another example for my argument:

This time let’s use the, “Replace yourself” program for this example.

(Note: Before any call for my expulsion, all I ask, please re-read the opening statement at the top of this. Then, do as you wish. Back to our discussion.)

The introduction of the program was (my conjecture) to help break the initial ‘inertia’ that is plaguing the fraternity. i.e., attracting new candidates.

Keeping this in mind (for example purposes only) the underlying premise was to help ‘stop the bleeding.’ Or, as I’ve stated prior, “tread water.”

Said differently: As long as everyone might try, or better yet, some actually fulfill its goal and brings in that new member or members – it keeps everything going along via its own momentum helping to at the least keep the roles at par.

That’s a fair assumption, however, it’s more than likely a wrong one.

Again, just look at the membership roles for proof. But here’s a plausible if not probable reason as to why...

As a matter of argument we postulated within our 3D example, not only may newer members become disgruntled once they get to that lower plateau. What we didn’t consider was there’s also another hidden and very real aspect most don’t, which is:

They (new members) can become a force multiplier, where they find other sympathetic Brothers of only a year or so - and - begin to commiserate their dissatisfaction to each other.

Sound familiar? Maybe a bit too familiar?

Let’s continue...

Maybe these few like-minded Brothers begin to congregate for camaraderie over drinks outside, after the meeting. Next thing you know, guess what starts to happen? Hint: misery loves company.

Let’s now put this example squarely into the month or two before most go dark. The possibility now rises that not only one may not return the next year – three don’t. Or worse.

This is the multiplier effect in action, and in a way most never anticipate.

Let’s see why this example might have legs, rather than being swept aside as just a bunch of silly conjecture, shall we?

Note: Again, before we continue, I want to implore that I am not taking ‘shots’ or trying to demean any program or anyone that may have participated in these programs. There are always (and I know a few) ‘exceptions to the rule.’ But what most fail to consider, is that those ‘exceptions’ do more to prove the rule, rather than disprove it. Not understanding this alone can be in and of itself, disastrous in many cases. So with that said, let’s continue.

Further enhancing this dilemma is the possibility that in the all-out rush to bolster the roles with “One day Masons” and other well-intentioned programs...

It is highly likely our exampled new member or group of new members, via a lax West Gate, may turn out to be the very catalysts enabling our above scenario. i.e., Creating a multiplier effect in the exact opposite direction of initial intent.

Again, truly ponder this, don’t let it just slip by into an afterthought. It’s too important as I’ll detail further.

Through just their dissatisfaction (or misunderstanding) under the guise of “This is it?” one feeds into the others to wonder “Yeah, I’ve been here now two years, is this it?!” All as they sit either at the foot of the hill we see on our 3D model or are just beginning the climb.

This group potentially may also constantly question themselves by thinking “Why am I doing this, again?” as another asks them “Is there any green beans left?”

Worse, no one seems to be able to supply any real answer they can latch onto. That is, except what they have been discussing with “the others” in what will appear to be an ever-strengthening meeting-of-the-minds in dissatisfaction.

Think about this very carefully, because this is where 2D plans to measure metrics for efficacy can make things even worse. Most don’t realize these very real possibilities.

Again, it’s quite possible, if not probable, that our current attempts to bring in more members to begin ‘the circle’ has the very real possibility as an exponential catalyst for demits.

Let me state that again for emphasis...

Not only is it quite possible, it may be more than probable, that our current attempts to bring in more members to begin has the very real possibility for acting as an exponential catalyst for demits.

Let me use an example that is not fraternal, yet we all can relate to-- Retail “Sales!”

Question: If doing bigger and deeper markdowns with “on sale!” promotions was the key to more customers and more sales – why is it these very stores are always the ones that seem to go out of business the fastest?

Hint: Eventually all that’s left to entice is “selling dollar bills for 99 cents” and the brainiac reasoning they’ll make up the difference in later sales. It does attract, but for what end?

At the beginning I stated that this is a process that happens to any organization over time, affecting the original entrepreneurial thinking, as a business moves from startup to more organizational constructs. So let me explain why that is...

Entrepreneurs, more often than not, don’t work by what we call “the standard business plan.” The reason is simple: either they’ve never been required to in past employment. Or, they know the fallacy of most of them via either watching them fail and fail over again through past employers. And/or they’re now killing their competition that is following one.

There’s also another possible hidden aspect...

Maybe they don’t know the reason why they’re not following “a business plan” but it doesn’t matter to them – they’re too busy taking market share to ponder it.

However, here’s the true fundamental reason or differentiator...

They think and execute in 3D – in real-time – adjusting, adding, dropping whatever they need to do to make it entirely back around our 2D circle example (or thought process) time and time again, learning what and what not to do, on the fly as they reach any plateau or hill, up or down.

Side note for context: People love to use Apple as an example, so I’ll use one that most don’t fully comprehend that fits into this whole “sale” idea. 

Apple, for all intents and purposes, has no sales or discounts in regards to their competitors and never has. Yet, Apple makes more profit, repeat, more profit on the sale of one iPhone® than the cumulative total profit of all its competitors. Again, combined. That is part of the true genius of Jobs. i.e., not just the product, but the idea and understanding of business. In other words: He concentrated on why the product was worth more and why people would not only pay more but wanted to “lick it” using his words. Not how cheap he had to be in the marketplace.

So what are the forces that draw or flatten out our 3D environment into a 2D representation?

Usually what happens goes something like this...

When any enterprise originally starts, the need to remember, know or contemplate the 3D model is near nonexistent if not totally so. i.e., It’s immaterial.

However, that doesn’t mean one is not being executed. In other words - it can be made manifest via intuition or just plain old trial and error, whether they are aware of it or not.

Or, said differently - they may not know why they’re doing something, but they know what’s working or what’s not through trial and experiment until either something does - rinse, repeat. Or, they go out of business.

Yet, when an enterprise begins to grow and expand, what happens to most companies is a process that quells their competitive edge, as well as their competent one.

What they’ll begin to do is - they allow their once intuitive picture and understanding as to plan, execute, and more (e.g., our 3D interpretation) and allow a process to begin as to squish it all down into the 2D model.

The reason for this, many times, is just the simple process of time. But why?

What happens over time is they look to prior models and/or results to help direct them, but all they see (and all they can extrapolate) is the ‘plan from above’ as we demonstrated with our circle and paper. (Remember the difference between your view of holding it and a view from the ceiling exercise?)

This is where the well-intentioned believe “they know the path!” and what to do to make it around, yet they are not fully cognizant of all the 3D model obstacles. All they’ll infer (and see) via extrapolation is our flat 2D circle. (This propensity is most prominent in the “managerial” strata.)

And if you’re possibly thinking, “Well, if we do the same things, regardless of the model, wouldn’t we see the same results?”

Great question, and here’s the answer: Absolutely not, as a matter of fact, the results of doing the exact same thing could prove disastrous.

How can we show this using just our simple circle? Easy...

Now that you are aware of all the above, let’s use the same process and the example I iterated for let’s say, “Replace yourself” program. All we’re going to change is one thing.


With your original version of the 2D circle paper model in front of you, on the desk or table. All I want you to do is move (or rotate) our starting point (e.g., arrowhead) from the right-hand side so that its now directly in front of you. e.g., 90˚.

Think there’s a difference in what is needed and what will manifest next? Let’s see, shall we?

Lift your paper back up as you did earlier doing the same exercise with dropping your left hand about four or five inches.

Notice a difference? Hint: not only do you not have any area for a running start, nor wind at your back momentum. Now, it’s all exertion to not only break inertia but also, even more, to even continue any momentum.

Our “candidate” is now starting their journey directly in the middle of a hill. And should they lose just a tad of traction, or run into any exhaustion? They will suddenly begin gaining momentum via Sir Issac’s observational genius. Only this time - it’s in the wrong direction.

See the other glaring issue here? For what does the view from above see?

Hint: No difference but for a moved starting location on the same path. i.e., Do the same thing as prior and we’ll get the same results. It does not anticipate his plight, because, from that vantage point, there is no hill. 2D, remember?

Again, using this simple model you can now see how one type of strategy and tactic for execution is going to run straight into a “dead before it even begins” reality-based world-of-hurt.

Said differently - it’s destined to fail as soon as it begins – often – miserably so.

As I implied earlier, over time what precipitates this is: The instinctive factor for intuitively understanding the difficulties of a 3D environment, even when expressed using a 2D plan, gets lost or forgotten, to where everyone begins viewing everything via the 2D plane in isolation.

Again, as I iterated prior, more often than not how this manifests is where people look back at past cause and effects and try to extrapolate as to either explain (or many so-called “business guru’s” just make up) and/or “connect the dots” as they say.

However, what usually transpires is nothing more than our “looking from above” scenario, yet it has all the appearances as if “they’ve found the path!” Yet, it’s not going to be anything like “their path” knowing now what we’ve experimented with here using our simple circle. Is it?

Let’s ponder a bit on what we’ve covered...

As we’ve just shown from a top-down approach, looking back: It can be very deceiving as to where many are convinced they’re following the right path. But more often than not, the pitfalls inherent as to how to plan and execute a 2D plan in a 3D world can dramatically show how doing repeating past measures, whether a reiteration of something before or a now “new and improved” etc., etc., etc. May not hold us at par.

Rather, stealthily contained within this model - it has an innate ability to self-accelerate itself into oblivion via the “hills and valleys” which are unavoidable.

For they are there, regardless if we want to pay heed to them - or not.

What happens when we don’t?

Disgruntled PMs, District lines or GL’s begin calling for even more action from even more despaired members. It begins to feed upon itself. “Do something, anything!”

That’s also when things such as ‘finger pointing’ and others begin to accelerate via momentum.

Of course, there are also the other declarations for doing nothing as doing something that sounds a bit like, “We need to do more!” Yet, when someone does suggest something “different” it gets answered with “Not on my watch!” or “That’s not the way we do things around here!” and worse.

It’s a self-fulfilling manifestation for demanding something be done while causing nothing to happen. It’s a classic.

Let me again remind you - this is not an issue isolated to Freemasonry as I’ve alluded – it’s inherent in all business.

It’s just all about knowing what you're actually trying to combat and why, with the right strategy or tactics, which are the key to battling it. And yes, this is a battle for survival, both for us, as well as any enterprise.

Now I know you’re asking, “OK, but now, even if one agreed with all this. Just how would they go about getting those others to buy in or get on board?”

Great question, let’s approach it this way...
The key to all of this is as simple as it is elegant of an exercise.

More often than not it’s all about perspective that changes things – not a reinvention of the wheel. Or in our case – circle.

Just think about all we’ve just described. Again, truly contemplate it, because this is basically what we are doing.

It’s not that people are doing the wrong things or following the wrong path because they’re not committed to trying to fulfill the best this fraternity has to offer, or out of any malice to change.

It’s just they're probably applying the wrong strategy and tactics - thinking or even believing - they’re following the correct path by conflating past models or successes looking both from afar, as well as above.

All most see is the 2D not understanding that 2D really is a flattened version of a 3D model that needs to be implemented.

It’s not a personal failure of leadership or the fault of anyone or anybody.

It’s a simple thing that happens to all businesses and others over time.

And here’s the key: If you “get this?” They will too, but it will be up to you to demonstrate it and allow them to “get it” too.

And once perception is changed - mountains once deemed insurmountable become molehills in comparison.

It’s about time we began reapplying many of the now-forgotten entrepreneurial spirit and thinking that allowed us to get here in the first place.

If we don’t?

We’re just going to keep attracting men, that in reality, belong in the _____________ (fill in your social organization of choice here).

Hope to see you in the next installment.

~ Mark St. Cyr
, Freemason

Bonus: Here’s a GIF that has a few more complex examples in structure, but the point is the same. i.e., See how simple something appears from the 2D perspective, then see how you’ll need to be prepared to handle traversing it in a 3D one.