The Small Town Texas Mason E-Magazine has an excellent article going out in the November 2010 edition. The publication comes from the heart of a brother who publishes it to “enlighten, educate, and entertain Masons and non Masons alike.” Like so much of Masonic publishing it is a free press to circulate Masonic thought and interest.
In the November issue, the publisher Corky Daunt asks the question:
Is Freemasonry’s reputation was being harmed by to many news stories in newspapers and being repeated on the internet about Freemason bringing Civil Lawsuits against Grand Lodges for Masonic reasons.
You can read the original here.
He reserves his conclusions and posts instead three responses sent in by readers on the subject, two from North America (one from our very own Fred Milliken) and one from Australia. The relevancy of the question is an important one and something this site has been charged with repeatedly as reporting (or editorializing) on the bad in the news.
At the end of his piece, Corky asks “Do you think bad publicity is harming Freemasonry’s image?”
To be honest, I would have to answer and say that it is. But, with the caveat that the press and editorializing is only so bad as the reality of the events taking place themselves. Because there is no system to mitigate these events that lead to the bad press they are left to spiral out of control in an increasingly close world.
In other words, there is no system to police the system itself, so a free press (as with Democracy) needs to exist so as to ensure that the system adheres to its own principles.
The question then becomes is the system of Freemasonry of such importance that it needs such a medium to keep watch of its practice, or is it merely a membership organization like an athletic club like the YMCA or a big box shopping warehouse like Costco or Sam’s Club, where the membership value we get comes in the commodities we take away from it.
Ask yourself this:
Is Freemasonry really a practice of some moral philosophy? And if so, how do we (the members) practice it? Or, is it just a membership club that we go to for some monthly dinner socializing and entertainment in the form of democratic practice in voting on paying for the phone bill.
Personally, I like to think that its a Moral Philosophy that needs to be kept on its toes so as not to fall into the morass of base society, that it has an elevated sense of upright moral rectitude (that’s what we were told right?). Why else would we be members?
So to answer Corky’s question, Yes, I think the bad publicity hurts us as a fraternity overall. But, I think what hurts us even more are the activities being reported upon which chip away at the larger structure of the craft. We need to know what goes on in our own house, our Masonic house, so as to be vigilant against it and the only way to do that is to know what is going on – good, bad, or indifferent.
Otherwise, we can keep our heads buried int he sand while lodges are left to falter, members expelled for bucking the system, or indiscretions allowed to continue in fear of reprisals – all of which seem very un-Masonic in my handbook. But, if those are acceptable in the great moral society, then we can each just look for the next discount coupon for a reduced cost dinner at the next lodge meeting and not give a thought to our role in supporting a greater moral philosophy.
What do you think? Is the bad press hurting Masonry?