Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Question Must be Asked: Is our Masons Learning?

Masonic Education is essential to a well-run Lodge. Sadly, Masonic Education becomes the last thought in a meeting which may have been hours in length after business has been discussed. Thankfully, in Minnesota, Lodges are encouraged to give LEO programs during business meetings. LEO programs don't have to be a protracted experience. In fact, five to ten minutes may be sufficient in a Lodge. Resources abound on the Internet for Masonic Educational programs.

For a litany of Masonic talks, visit The Digital Freemason. Brother Scott finds really good Masonic materials that can be read in around ten minutes. Also, Brother Scott posts the text versions of all of his shows. I would also suggest subscribing to the podcast as Brother Scott has put together a great presentation for these papers.

Pietre Stones Review of Freemasonry lists a great number of Masonic papers that could be presented in Lodge. Although these resources can range from very short to very long, there are a great number of these papers that can be presented in less than thirty minutes by some of the preeminent thinkers in Masonry today.

The Masonic Service Association of North America or MSANA has a great list of education publications for a small fee. These papers range from historical to the philosophical to symbols and symbolism. Lodges should make the investment to purchase these writings as they are very informative and incredibly inexpensive.

Also, for those who do not know, there has been a new Masonic Research Society known as the Masonic Society initiated for the study of Masonic themes. The Society will also be publishing a magazine focused on Masonic issues and research topics. It will be entitled the Journal of the Masonic Society. Brother Chris Hodapp, writer of the book Freemasons for Dummies, is serving as the Editor-in-Chief of this magazine. I would suggest that anyone who is eligible to join the Society should do so (Information is here). Even if you are not able to join the Society, you should at least subscribe to the Journal as it is a very enlightening publication.

Now, with all these resources, you should always give attribution to all the work that these brothers have written if presented in Lodge and respect copyright laws when applicable. Although some brothers disagree with me, I still think even a few minutes of Masonic Education can go a long way in giving brothers that intellectual spark to be active participants in the Lodge.


Anonymous said...

You know this, I'm sure, Nick, but the priorities are backward. It should be 5-10 minutes for business, not education.

A couple of my Lodges, where everyone was fed up with incredibly large amounts of wasted time and ramblings posing as discussions on lodge matters, did something about it. They decided to have our Board of General Purposes sift through all the routine business and make recommendations to the Lodge. Thus a Board report recommends the minutes be adopted, specific accounts be paid, petitions be received, correspondence be filed (or read in Lodge, usually if from Grand Lodge) and on general matters which require lodge approval. The report takes 30 seconds to read. It's voted on and that's it.

Anyone complaining they don't have a say in Lodge can easily attend the Board meeting or make their concerns known to the Representative to the Board, who is elected at the annual election of officers and attends on behalf of absent members.

Events are not organised at a Board meeting or in open Lodge. That means no ridiculous discussions about what kind of cheese to put on sandwiches after meetings (I've never heard that one, but you get the idea).

That leaves your Lodge meeting free for education, whether it be in the form of papers/presentations, discussions or debates. The only business you have to do is balloting, election of officers and any notices of motion (bylaw changes mainly).

More time for Masonic learning. More time for fellowship. Less time for boring stuff.


Millennial Freemason said...

I agree with you completely Justa. I am hopeful that this short 10-15 minute program of Masonic learning will push brothers to reevaluate what they would like to see in Lodge and ask for more rather than less. Just like Psychiatrist's advice from "What About Bob!": Baby steps. Steering Committees should be the norm and the current WM should have served on the Committee for at least two years prior to him taking the East so that when he sits in the Oriental Chair, he isn't surprised about how the business of the Lodge is conducted. Business should be done before meetings and findings presented to the Lodge. I am hopeful that if Lodges get used to the idea of Masonic discussions and slowly add these educational opportunities to what would be a usual business meeting.