A Focus on Masonic Research, News, and other Tidbits

Homo sum; humani nihil a me alienum puto.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Author’s Note: I have often stated my belief that Freemasonry goes through cycles, as does everything in society. It hit me this morning as I was drinking my coffee that it is not Freemasonry that really goes through the cycles. Freemasonry is a slow moving entity that changes very little. Something else has to be influencing Freemasonry. That thought prompted me to write this piece. On the subject of cycles; some studies suggest that Generation Y folks have more in common with the Greatest Generation, the grandparents and great grandparents of Gen Y, than any other generation. If this is true, then it bodes well for Freemasonry’s future.

The Decline of Civil Society and the Rise of Freemasonry

The signs of a real potential for the decline of civil society abound for all to see – even for those with the most optimistic of outlooks. Many of the doom and gloom signs are in direct contradiction to what the Founding Fathers of the United States, who were so heavily influenced by Freemasonry, seemed to have had in mind during the birth of this nation.

In the governmental arena, hard working Americans are forced into participating in mass charity on a larger and larger scale via a tax system run amuck. Many Americans seem content to vote away their rights and their tax dollars in return for promises of being cared for by government – a big, centralized government that the Founders, with their Masonic influences, specifically warned against.

Some elected leaders publicly decry the nation’s policies – policies that they often helped to create - and even her soldiers in ways that have not been seen since the War Between the States. Some of their public comments actually could be interpreted as providing comfort to the enemies of the country.

The great equalizer, the court system, steadily pumps out more and more decisions that defy common sense and logic. There are many examples of court decisions that seem to attack some of the very foundations – such as the First and Second Amendments - of what the United States was founded upon. Meanwhile, the courts are seemingly doing little to stem the crimes that cause many to live in real fear. Even in the rural areas of the United States; hard working and honest people are locking their doors, buying alarm systems, and demonstrating genuine fear for the safety of their property, their loved ones, and even themselves.

Despite more and more tax money being thrown at the issue, the value of education – a traditional favorite cause of Freemasonry - continues to shrink in many parts of the country as schools graduate many barely literate young people. This assumes, of course, that they graduate at all since the drop out rate continues to grow. The problem has reached the point that many – if not most – high school graduates can no longer pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), thus reducing the pool of qualified applicants for the nation’s military forces. There are even people walking around with four-year degrees that are incapable of passing this most basic of knowledge exams.

Traditionally, Americans have turned to their places of worship to find some common sense and relief from the chaos of society. Though this is still true for many people, there is also a habit amongst some churches to become more of a center for political activism rather than a place of worship. There are even churches in the United States – some of them with large congregations and high visibility – that openly degrade the nation and actually seem to be calling for the Almighty’s destruction of it. Even if not involved in political activism, many large churches have turned themselves into lucrative businesses where - from outside appearances - they are more concerned with growing their holdings and their congregations than they are with worship.

Added to these negative signs are indications that civility between men has taken a drastic turn for the worse. Handshake deals are no longer accepted or honored as they used to be. Simple, unintentional mistakes that cause no real harm often turn into frivolous but costly lawsuits. Even family members often look upon each other with distrust.

Meanwhile, as these and other negative trends continue to develop, Freemasonry is waiting in the wings and men are starting to take notice of her in ways that have not been seen in decades. Maybe they are seeking a refuge from a society that is making less and less sense to them. Possibly, they are seeking an education that they missed out on in school. Some men are obviously looking for those age old answers to their questions – answers that, for whatever reason, they are not getting in their religious endeavors and their houses of worship, though Freemasonry replaces neither. They may be simply looking for a place that still has the trappings of civility and the traits of a gentlemen society.

The statistics suggest that the downward spiral of Freemasonry’s membership is slowing. A large part of this can reasonably be attributed to the new interest being shown by men in the Fraternity. Freemasonry is not, however, doing anything drastically different from what it has done for hundreds of years. Freemasonry hasn’t changed – civil society has changed and it has not changed in a positive way for many people. It is felt by this author that, as society goes through this negative cycle – and it is a cycle with better days ahead, Freemasonry will experience a positive cycle.


Frederic L. Milliken said...

Right on!! There is much tought we have in common.

As I have written the Y and Millenial Generations are seekers, searching for purpose and meaning in their lives outside the strict construction of organized religion.

Freemasonry is the best non Sectarian, non controlling philosophical Body or society in the USA and is thus poised for a real renewal if it plays its cards right.

The problem is much of American Freemasonry is drawing to an inside straight. While we have the philosophy, the system to satisfy the wants of these seekers we have watered down and dumbed down Freemasonry so much in many areas that what the searchers are looking for is no longer widely practiced or believed in the ranks of present Freemasons.

What is especially appealing to the younger generations is the fact that Freemasonry is non controlling, that it allows free expression, that no one person speaks for Freemasonry and that the interpretation is left to the individual to internalize as it fits him personally. It is a model for a do it your way self help society.

Furthemore Freemasonry does not seek to brain wash nor does it seek its own aggrandizement. And it isn't or shouldn't be a money grabber after all it can talk you into giving to the cause.

Yet 21st century Freemasonry with this wonderful philosophy so enticing to the youngsters of today is ignoring its own philosophy and becoming a social club or a service club just at the time in the cyclical movemnts of generations coming full circle back to traditional values. The hippie generation of free love, free sex, drugs, acid rock and drop out, drop out of society, has been supplanted by a more caring, community orientated, treasuring personal values and virtues people.

What is happening as we speak is many of these seekers are joining Freemasonry only to demit after a year or so totally disallusioned. Our PR hype is not matching our performance.

The Millennial Freemason said...

I agree with what Bro. Fred has said. The problem is that Masonry celebrates its symbolic origin but once the new brother is in, the concern for many Lodges is minutes and "business". I think it comes down to Lodges needing to be more organized. Once the business aspects can be voted on in about five minutes, the rest of the time can be used for Masonic teaching.


Frederic L. Milliken said...

If we empowered Lodges to appoint an executive committee to conduct all Lodge business under $1000 in an executive meeting held outside the tyled Lodge meeting, to print out and hand out the minutes of the previous meeting and the transactions of this executive committee held between Communications and all coresspondence, then we could save the meeting for the big stuff - all 15 minutes - and maybe have some time left for a good speaker and then some pub time afterwards.

The Palmetto Bug said...

Fred: If a Lodge is not not meeting the needs of the new member then either that member should have never been initiated or the individuals in the Lodge need to step up to the plate. Nothing can be done about the first, except to guard the gate closer. As for the second...notice that I used the word "individuals" and not "Lodge."

Nick: Though I am a firm believer in education in the Lodge, most education occurs outside of the Lodge due to time limitations and the fact that all are not interested in the same subjects. See my note, above, to Fred.

Y'all have both given me another idea for an article. Thanks.

The Palmetto Bug said...

Fred: The By-laws of my Lodge already allow the Treasurer to pay all routine bills under a certain dollar amount with no discussion in Lodge. We almost never discuss bills except in the case of unusual or large purchases. Most all financial business occurs behind the scenes between the Secretary and Treasurer - with good record keeping to cover our butts, of course.

As for the minutes: As Secretary, I read the minutes. If I go over 2 minutes it is only because I developed a coughing fit. I don't completely dislike your printed minutes idea, however, since I actually don't like reading the minutes. Reading the minutes is much worse than listening to them. Besides, I sometimes have trouble reading my own handwriting.

Frederic L. Milliken said...

We are glad we give you ides!

How about yopu give us some solutions. :)

The Palmetto Bug said...

Fred: Don't tell me they made you a two time WM for nothing. I think you know the solutions, if any are needed.

But, I will discuss one topic that has already been mentioned in these comments and, hopefully, provide a possible solution. Education. Even if you get rid of almost all the business and minute reading, there is very little time during the Lodge Communication for Masonic Education. Yes, a little speech or reading can be conducted (which we do in my Lodge) - but that is not really quality education. There is too little time and the subject may not interest all present. Education needs to be encouraged outside of the Lodge meetings. Study groups, educational conversations between individual Brothers, and participation in research societies/lodges are all good ideas. Education needs to be strongly pushed, but the Lodge meeting itself is not the ideal place for it.