Nevertheless Freemasonry Persisted
by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners
Last evening under a cloudy sky at Wrigley Field, I watched as thirty-one thousand six hundred and seventy-three fans stopped what they were doing and placed their hand over their heart and sing along to the National Anthem. Later, when the Cubs honored a veteran, the ballpark was filled with cheers of support and admiration. I became a little less cynical in those moments, and maybe perhaps a little hopeful.
What many people don't know, is that the Star-Spangled Banner has four stanzas. Yet, only the first of the four is sung as the National Anthem. The main theme of the Star-Spangled Banner is persistence, as Bro. Francis Scott Key witnessed the twenty-five-hour bombardment of Fort McHenry from a British troop ship that was anchored four miles away from the fort. Bro. Key had boarded the ship to negotiate the release of an American civilian imprisoned by the British and was detained as the bombardment began. On September 14, 1814, as the dawn's early light revealed the flag still flying over the fort, Bro. Key began jotting down the lines of the song that later became our national anthem.
At that moment last evening, I saw the spirit of Freemasonry come over all of those men and women, democrats and republicans, young and old, of different faiths, Chicago Cubs fans, and St. Louis Cardinal fans. I saw all of these people come on the level for about a minute and a half to pause to honor our great nation. Yes, our history is not without controversy, our history is not pure, just like my personal history or your personal history. We, individually, like our nation have made mistakes, and we as a nation and as individuals will continue to make them. Yet, what I saw at that moment last evening was that we still have the ability to come together in spite of all this. Maybe it is because of how much Masonic philosophy infiltrated its way into the formation of the documents that began and continue to hold together our nation, at least I like to think that is why.
While observing this with awe and reverence, I had a revelation. Freemasonry will persist. I have spent a lot of time writing articles for the blog about Freemasonry and giving my personal opinions on what can be done to "improve" Freemasonry. I've seen the projections, and I've watched the presentations showing how our numbers are dwindling. I've read social media posts where brethren are concerned that Freemasonry is going to eventually become another irrelevant fraternal society. Yet, we can look at the History of Freemasonry and see that, like our flag over Fort McHenry, it has persisted over centuries. Officially over 300 years, yet maybe further, the first mention of Freemasonry in a document is in Regius Poem from around 1390, and it is thought to be a copy of an earlier work.
Maybe we no longer have the millions of members in the United States that we once had, and maybe we will end up with only a tenth or even a fifth of that in the next twenty years. Maybe we will see the merging of various Grand Jurisdictions, maybe we will witness the demise of some of our appendant bodies, and maybe we won't be able to have a lodge in every county in the United States of America. I believe that Freemasonry will persist like it always has. There will always be a core group that will keep Freemasonry alive.
We need to perhaps stop looking at the decline in membership as something that is bad and instead look at it as an opportunity to reset. It's an opportunity to return to our traditional roots, and to prioritize those things such as Festive boards, Masonic Education, and reverence for the ritual. It's an opportunity for those of us that want these things to introduce legislation at the Grand Lodge level to allow these things to become the standard instead of the exception.
At some point, I believe that the pendulum will swing back to a place where there are a lot more men that are called by Freemasonry to reveal and manifest the full meaning of their individual mature masculinity, or their potential. While not all of the men I encountered last night in the right-field bleachers of Wrigley field are worthy of becoming Freemasons, I do believe that there were perhaps a few. If I extrapolate this to my own community, I have to believe that there are still a few men that are worthy and well qualified to be called by Freemasonry. If Freemasonry can continue to persist, then we who love Freemasonry must as well so that we can find these men and help them unlock their potential so that they might come to love Freemasonry as well to help it persist for the next generation, and generations to come.
WB Darin A. Lahners is our Co-Managing Editor. He is a host and producer of the "Meet, Act and Part" podcast. He is currently serving the Grand Lodge of Illinois Ancient Free and Accepted Masons as the Area Education Officer for the Eastern Masonic Area. He is a Past 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 also a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, Salt Fork Shrine Club under the Ansar Shrine, and a grade one (Zelator) in the S.C.R.I.F. Prairieland College in Illinois. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.