Friday, November 28, 2008

The Doors are Open, Take a Peek

Are we becoming open and available or are we just revealing everything? I have been trawling Google News about Freemasonry and I have noticed a recurring theme: Masonic Lodges are opening their doors and letting the public see who we are. Here is my take: Good. No, no, that's not it, ahh... finally.

Why do I say this? It had been years upon years that Freemasons were the cornerstone of society, builders of great structures, laborers seeking to improve the world around them. For years, just doing the work was enough. Time has not been as kind to us as we had wished.

During the 1960's and 70's, Freemasonry was colored in a hue of dust. Baby Boomers did not join Freemasonry in the numbers that their fathers or grandfathers did. As such, Freemasonry entered a period of decline where there were only a few to mind the shop. Grand Lodges were scrambling to find ways to stop the hemorrhaging including One Day Classes, lowering the minimum age, etc. but these seem to have missed the mark as many men would demit or be dropped from the rolls. Perhaps opening the doors will give men a different and better reason to join: Social Status.

For every generation, a major reason to join Freemasonry was as a status symbol. Freemasons should be proud of their Masonic affiliation. I have always been open about my Masonic affiliation (one of my favorite Masonic moments is when I am on the train wearing my Masonic ring and receiving looks of astonishment.) and proud to explain what being a Freemason means to me. Masonry has never been secret and has never been quiet. We are loud, boisterous and proud to be an integral part of the community. We may have to take our lumps from Anti-Masons but it is better than the alternative, irrelevance.

For a list of the articles:
Worchester News

Birmingham Post

5 comments:

The Palmetto Bug said...

harrumph

The gate should be guarded against those solely seeking social status and not thrown open to them.

Justa Mason said...

Joining for social status = Mercenary or other Unworthy motives.

Nick, your first sentence reminded me of something.

When I joined DeMolay lo those many years ago, my grandmother mentioned the Masons to me. She used to go with friends (at least one of whom was a Mason) to the local Masonic hall in her area to play whist.

So what do you mean "finally"? It's been happening all along. And, certainly, in the U.S.A., Lodges have been dragging family members and friends into what was once a sacred and private sanctuary for Masons .. the Lodge room .. to hold public installations.

Justa

The Millennial Freemason said...

With regards to the idea of Social Status as a Mason, of course men join for the prestige of the Institution. If men didn't, no one would wear Masonic rings. It isn't the only reason but it is a factor in joining.

Justa,
I have always taken the precept of "Mercenary motives" to mean someone who joins to get our secrets and blab them out to everyone. It was put in place to prevent a would be eavesdropper from joining the Fraternity to broadcast our ritual.

Sadly, I think Masonry has become so insular that we have nearly become irrelevant. As I heard one brother say, "we drink our own water and that's it." Best example is a pancake breakfast. If you look into the crowd, I would venture a guess that all of those in attendance are Masons, their wives or children. Frankly, Lodges went from being a fixture in the community to being a forgotten house in a back alley.

Nick

Justa Mason said...

Let me make some random comments, Nick, because there's a fair bit in there.

People wear Masonic rings (and I don't) because they are proud of their organisation, not for prestige. At least the Masons I know.

"Mercenary," as I understand it, means someone is doing to solely to gain. One who joins to gain some kind of prestige is doing it for mercenary motives.

Of course Freemasonry is relevant. It is a character-building association. Human nature being imperfect, people will always need to improve themselves. Freemasonry is not a "go into the community organisation", despite attempts of people to make it such in order that we are seen to be "doing something." Character building is not enough for some.

We don't have such things as community fish frys and pancake breakfasts here. I'm not sure what the purpose would be for one.

If you back 200 years into Lodge minutes you don't see a Lodge trying to be an imitation of a service club. A Lodge certainly helped members and widows and their young children if need be.. financially or physically.. but it wasn't helping anyone and everyone. Word leaked out that the Masons helped Widow so-and-so and thus non-Masons knew of "what the Masons do." But the world's changed. Your Bro. Roosevelt created big government programmes to alleviate much of the need of this kind of assistance from a Lodge.

Justa

The Millennial Freemason said...

Justa,
You are starting to convince me about the idea of shrinking the focus of Masonry. You also have caused me to research the "Mercenary Motives" as I think you might be right. I guess that is the fun of Freemasonry, interpretation.

However, from a purely sociological standpoint, people identify themselves as members of group for a variety of reasons. Impression Management is the theory that an individual will affiliate with a group to create the impression that they would like convey to the public. A person joins a Masonic Lodge to be conspicuous member of society. I agree that a person should not join Freemasonry only for monetary or social gain but I don't think we can completely ignore the desire of humans to join a group for the impression it presents.

Nick