Okay, so I have to confess something, I'm a little intrigued by the new Dan Brown book about the Fraternity. Okay, I feel a whole lot better now. Obviously, I read many comments from brothers in newspapers, forums, and other fora who are not so happy nor appreciative of his book. Rumors and fearmongering seem to be the name of the game concerning our Craft's reaction to this book. I'd like to say just one, teensy-weensy little word, "STOP." Okay maybe a few more, "you're not helping."
This book is going to be huge, like five-million-copies-on-its-first-run huge. Obviously, if this book has any relation in topic or reference to Freemasonry, we are going to be affected for years. We won't know its actual impact until the novel hits the local mega-bookstore. Angered rhetoric might makes us feel better but it really doesn't matter in the aggregate, and here's why: we can complain about or fear the coming of this novel, but it's coming out, plain and simple.
Let's be frank: "The Lost Symbol" is being published, it's being published soon, and we're going to have to live with it. There will be a post-Dan Brown world and we, as Lodges and Masons, are going to have to live in that world. Sorry, we don't get to control the printing press, despite some Anti-Masonic belief to the contrary so we need to understand its impact and be ready for the deluge.
When I see or hear the annoyed comments from brothers, I feel like I've joined a tribe of sun-worshipers who are about to experience their first eclipse. There will be a sun once the excitement dies down and a new day will dawn. I can understand the frustration; we don't know what the story is about and we don't know how it will affect the Craft. Whether brothers want to accept it or not, it's coming.
For years, the numbers of brothers and relative interest in the Craft declined precipitously. We became irrelevant, a fixture of the past to be forgotten. Grand Lodges attempted anything to keep the numbers at a sustainable level through One-Day classes and simplified catechism but still the numbers dropped as Lodges were unable to find their groove. Then, through some miracle, the media began to take a second look at Freemasonry and we were once again in the spotlight.
Sadly, I think our collective response has been less than stellar. Interest was peeked but many Masons remained unable or unwilling to speak about the Craft leaving a hole to be filled by everyone else. This book offers us a second chance to be recognized and I'd like to not see us fail at this again. We need to be prepared for that day, and I believe we can, it's just going to take every Mason to do it.
My advice for everyone is that we plan for both the bad as well as the good press but most importantly, we need to prepare. Each brother needs to know how to explain what Masonry is, what Masonry means to them and what Masonry should mean to the general public. Each Master should be ready to have their local paper ask them a few questions. Each Lodge should be educating their members on what may and may not be discussed about Freemasonry. It won't matter how big or small the town is, this novel will affect everyone.
To sum up my advice, be prepared. We can all do this but we are going to need guidance and aforethought to give an effective and most importantly, coherent and cohesive answer to the questions and attention that we'll most likely endure because of this novel. If we play our cards correctly, Freemasonry may once again climb back to prominence.