I haven’t attended Lodge in quite some time, at least a year and a half. This is quite unusual for someone who devoted his first fifteen years actively participating in Lodge affairs, not just my own, but at the district, zone, and state level. I stopped going when it became blatantly obvious Freemasonry was operating more as a good old boy’s club as opposed to the fraternity it was designed to be, where brotherhood was of paramount importance, not aprons or titles. I still believe in the tenants of Freemasonry, but I no longer find attendance at Lodge to be meaningful or rewarding, be it at my mother Lodge or another. I have been asked by many Brothers, of whom I have the utmost respect, to return to Lodge, but I now find it more burdensome than enjoyable. I actually find Freemasonry to be more interesting over the Internet or through chance encounters than in a Lodge building.
I am relatively well known in Masonic circles thereby becoming somewhat of an icon for those Masons who have abandoned the Craft for other pursuits. In my jurisdiction alone, we have lost over 18,000 members over the last twelve years, averaging an annual decline of approximately 1,500. Year after year we suspend members for non-payment of dues. One must ask, “Why?” Those members I personally know who have dropped out no longer find Lodge meaningful or fun, and fraught with politics and skullduggery. Again, this is not just my Lodge but many others in the area whose membership is shrinking and attendance dwindling. Some of the larger Lodges are so empty, you could play racquetball inside and nobody would know the difference.
It wasn’t always like this though. When I first started going to Lodge in the 90’s, people cared about each other, there were no personal domination issues, and certainly no politics. Masonic education was considered important for success, and our floor work was impeccable. In other words, you wanted to go to Lodge. You didn’t want to miss anything, as it was all meaningful to you. Unfortunately, not so anymore, which is why I am staying away.
I still contend Freemasonry is a beautiful logical concept that is poorly implemented physically. I also suspect this phenomenon is not unique to my jurisdiction, as I have visited many other Lodges. Perhaps the most innovative idea I have seen in recent times is the advent of the “Traditional Observance” Lodge (aka, “TO”) which takes the concept of fraternity much more seriously than regular Lodges and has fun in the process. In other words, they have made it meaningful.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company(M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
For Tim’s columns, see: timbryce.com
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