The Age of Masonry III

What do we do when we are not doing Masonry?

The easiest way to approach this point is to perhaps list some of the more dominant activities that tend to be the biggest draw away from the lodge.

  • Church – Church membership offers much of what a Masonic lodge promulgates by way of affinity and fellowship.  It also involves family intimately in its practice, allowing for more fellowship and familial bonding.
  • Charity/Volunteer – Opportunities abound in today’s society to give back. From the American Cancer Society to the YMCA.  At any point, the interested party can man a booth, wash a car, help sell cookies, deliver food, answer phones, rebuild trails, or ring a doorbell; they can give of themselves financially or in person fulfilling the desire to give back.
  • Hobby Clubs – These interest groups span the gamut from sports, politics, cooking, crafts, hobbies, etc…  If you have a particular interest a variety of clubs exists to meet that need.  Even within other organizations, multiple levels of clubs exist that offer an assortment of opportunities.  Often these, the interaction can be as frequent as desired or as sporadic, and dues are usually minimal if existent at all besides covering costs.
  • School groups – From the elementary PTA to social fraternities on college campus, there is a diverse range of opportunities to spend time and money on from baking cupcakes to manning a float in a parade.  Usually these endeavors are encouraged as they raise and bolster the spirit of the group to build connectivity to the institution.
  • Work – While not a club, the obligation of work is not to be ignored.  With a diverse society today, many work in fields that resemble the ethos of a club, in that ones profession is most likely closely allied to their passion, and their work obligation stretches beyond the 9-5 time clock.
square and compass, freemasonry

I have no doubt that this list could go no, but I think you can see all of the distractions that we all have before us.  When we have so little time to dedicate for in our interest areas, we are forced to be selective.  And in this age there are a lot of interest areas to go around. In fact, websites exist to link a volunteer with an interest, Hobbyists to local hobby clubs, School Booster resources. Many websites exist for both churches and employment, or even social interactions including Facebook and LinkedIn.

So why choose the Masonic meeting? Many have said that the detraction is that the meetings don’t accomplish much, that they are focused on past meetings minutes, paying bills or reading communications.  That very little work is passed down, let alone education.  There maybe a special interest in the history of the process of the meeting, with a special ceremony and in a special room, to get things done, but with so much competition, are new attendees very keen on the SAME activity EVERY month, year after year?  Are you satisfied with the same format of meeting month to month?

Does the monthly business meeting meet our needs today?  By changing it, does it forsake those that enjoy that type of activity?

With the degree to which our meetings repeat themselves is it the way we meet that makes us Freemasons?  Is it our ancient landmarks that dictate the way in which we meet, or is it more a long period of doing the same thing over and over that has trained us such that the practice has become a perpetual habit?  Do we meet and conduct meetings in our particular way because it is how we have done it since “Time Immemorial”?

If the way we meet is the measure of our success or failure then what exactly do we do in the meeting of a Masonic lodge?  What “should” a lodge meeting look like?  How can we do it better and what should we be doing in them?

That should be the next step we examine.

You can read Part I and Part II

How Freemasonry Is Missing The Boat

Once again in Masonic circles of discussion we hear the debate searching for the answers as to why the decline in Masonic membership continues.  All sorts of hypotheses have been advanced.  The ones I hear most often are the greater number of choices available in today’s world, the limits of time in a what has become a very high strung, stressed out overworked society and the rise of women to equal status in American society thus restructuring the male/female role which often results in couples doing everything together rather than each going their separate way.

These explanations are all well and good and certainly have some merit in the scheme of things. Often times when no explanation reaches out and knocks you in the head it is because there are multiple causes for the resulting effect.  But I believe that most are overlooking certainly the largest explanation for the continuing decline of American Freemasonry.

It is precisely Freemasonry’s interaction with civil society, its sympathetic response to what is troubling the nation that brings it into the focus of the uninitiated individual. When Freemasonry leads society into nobleness and righteousness, when it is society’s conscience it becomes a highly regarded institution upon which many will look with favor if not join.

That is not, however, to promote what American Grand Lodge’s of today have done to Freemasonry by turning the Craft into a giant Service Club where Freemasonry tries to use society for its own advantage and gain, where it tries to buy and bribe friends and recognition. There is a big difference between interacting with a nation and serving a nation.

It is often said that no one knows who we are as Freemasons. That’s because we are not interacting with society with the best interests of society at heart but rather merely concerned with ourselves and what’s in it for us.

American Freemasonry was never meant to be or destined to be a secretive monastic society, totally withdrawn from civil society and all its goings on. When Freemasonry actually rolled up its sleeves and became immersed in the “big play”, the overwhelming issue of the day, it was noticed, it garnered membership and it had influence.

When Freemasonry was concerned with civil society’s concerns it was able to LEAD society.  As a leader involved with the well being of society, it was an accepted institution. When Freemasonry hid in its own shadow and pushed toleration to the extreme of being “politically correct”, then “Masonically correct” Freemasonry started to whither and die.

Everybody today talks about Freemasonry staying out of religion and politics. Most, however, are neglecting to clarify that it is partisan politics and sectarian religion that Freemasonry prohibits. There is a big difference between broad moral and social issues that define the structure of civil society and specific policies advocated as a remedy.

Freemasonry was always at its height when it chose to lead society.  As a product of the Enlightenment it championed religious freedom, democratic government, public school education and separation of church and state. American colonial Freemasonry provided a system of networking in a society with no communication systems. It played a vital role in the formation of this nation. While one can point to the midnight ride of Paul Revere let’s not forget his and his Lodge’s possible involvement in the dumping of tea into Boston Harbor. Nor should we overlook the fact that at least 42% of the Generals commissioned by the Continental Congress were Masons. It was the values of Freemasonry that were drafted into the Constitution of the United States. Freemasons set up the government of this nation, authored the “noble experiment.”

As a new nation American Freemasonry was instrumental in the formation of public schools and universities.  Men of letters came to Freemasonry not for the arts and sciences taught in Lodge but because Freemasonry was a learning promoter.

“Brothers officially sponsored educational endeavors that reached beyond the fraternity. This encouragement of broader education seemed to link the fraternity to the post-Revolutionary vision of an enlightened society built around equality and openness, values that brothers came to see expressed even in their order’s structure.  By supporting learning and by teaching and embodying republican relationships, Masonry seemed to be upholding and advancing the Revolutionary experiment itself.”(1)

During the civil War Freemasonry was the only organization, society or institution that did not split in two.  Even churches became promoters of either the Union or the Confederacy. Freemasonry, as in the Revolutionary War, contained many military Lodges that had a great influence on holding the armies together.  But its greatest Civil War influence was ameliorating the harshness of the fighting and acting as a healer of society.

Post Civil War saw American Freemasonry usher in an age of great Masonic authorship and great Masonic building. Its ability to grow right along with the industrialization of the United States was a great asset to its continued influence.

Somewhere into the 20th century Freemasonry lost its leadership role. Oh it wasn’t evident right away. The nation was consumed with fighting two world wars and the post war push of returning soldiers who wished to continue the exhilarating uplift of camaraderie kept the numbers high and the coffers full. But by 1960 American Freemasonry was living on past laurels and fresh blood was nowhere to be seen. The plain fact is that American Freemasonry became SOCIALLY IRRELEVANT.

If Freemasonry had remained socially relevant it could have lead the nation into breaking the color barrier and busting Black discrimination in society. William Upton was the Jackie Robinson of Freemasonry.  As Grand Master of Washington State in 1898 he recognized Prince Hall and black/white fraternization.  If we had built on this start, even if ever so slowly, Freemasonry could have led the nation into integration thereby avoiding the confrontation of Rosa Parks and the marches of Martin Luther King.

As one of the only institutions worldwide to actually live peaceful, cooperative brotherhood among people of different races, religions, cultures and economic circumstances, American Freemasonry was in a unique position to encourage and promote world peace. People today looking back 50 years ago could have pointed out that the “peace movement” was Freemasonry.  The fact that Freemasonry refused to do so out of fear of offending and being politically incorrect caused it to lose esteem in the eyes of the general public.

If Freemasonry had led the nation in the 50s, if it had been the conscience and the moral compass of the nation in the area of Civil Rights and the peace movement then it would not have lost a whole generation to Masonic membership. Freemasonry would have been respected and revered and consequently flourished.  But instead we turned a blind eye to black lynching and the evil of the KKK and watched in silence from the sidelines while the Vietnam War tore this nation apart.  And then we have the audacity to ask why the generation of the day refused to join Freemasonry. Who was fighting for the soul of the American nation?  It sure wasn’t Freemasonry and we paid the price.

Today we are faced with a worldwide HOLY WAR.  Who better to promote ecumenical and religious tolerance in the world than Freemasonry? Who better to pave the way for a better understanding among different religious traditions than the institution that has actually accomplished that for centuries? This is not partisan politics or sectarian religion.  This is being the moral leader in a time of crisis.  This is spreading the values of Freemasonry just as our Masonic forefathers did in the formation of this nation.

But alas, American Freemasonry would rather withdraw within itself than risk the path of greatness. The result will be continued Masonic stagnation and a general misunderstanding of Freemasonry’s role and purpose by the general public.

(1) “Revolutionary Brotherhood” by Stephen C. Bullock, pg. 145

The Age of Masonry


Society vs. Sociological perceptions

From the last installment, the point I wanted to build on was the item covered by Br. Dafoe’s article in the Masonic Journal and the missing membership.  To touch on briefly what his article said, the most significant loss measured was in NPD’s and SNPD’s which made up the lion share of members who join our ranks, and then for a variety of reasons stop attending or paying dues.  That in these numbers could be found the reason for the decline.

But, there are certain problems with that measure.  When a member joins the organization the process can take several months, but when a member leaves, there is really very little process or paperwork, and consequently, no way to quantify why the member is leaving.  This is different from returning an item or requesting a refund from a store where there is a short form or question involved to explain “why” the item is being brought back.  In Masonry, that’s not the case, as there is no exit interview, no closure, to find the point of dissatisfaction.  Rather it is a phantom hole, members who were there and now who are not.

So, because of that vacuum, there is no way of knowing what happened.  Does the new member come in, stay a while, and then lose interest?  Do they make the decision to drop out because of other membership obligations (church, work, bowling leagues, etc), or is that there was a lack of an affinity with Masonry itself?  Did they just not find it relevant?  Once they’ve left, do they pursue other interest groups (civic, spiritual, or academic)?  What they do after Masonry is beyond the scope of our ability to know.  All we can quantify it as is that they are no longer on the roles.  Is it a society issue where there is a lack of resonance with the society, or is it sociological issue in that the ideas from the non masonic society is shaping their perception of what Masonry is supposed to be doing?

So this leads me to another question, are there other avenues to do what the lodge offers without having to meet to pay bills, or plan events?  Is the competition today different than what it was before (say 50-100 years ago)?

In the next post, let’s look at some of the competition.  What do you do when you’re not doing Masonry?

Is the Age of Masonry Over?


Often I wonder if the era of Freemasonry is over.

Not so much the physical age in years, but the age of its being.  What I mean by that is the age of a Masonic existence in light of the age in which we live in today.  The reason this seemed relevant to me was that as we examine the landscape of society, with its myriad of organization (both non profit and philanthropic) it seems that the age of the local community champion lodge has passed. I’ll admit that this is a generalization, that “what is in one place is not in all places” but in those areas that are diverse and developed, it would seem that the effectualness of the lodge, as it is presently configured, pales in comparison to the broader reach of the community in general.  So the question that arises in my mind is if the drop in membership is something more than merely a drop of knowledge in the fraternity?

Stephen Dafoe, in an article written for the Journal of the Masonic Society (issue 2 autumn 2008) indicated that the problem was not a matter of poor showing, that many men were coming to the doors of the lodges, but that the problem was retention.  Of those that did come, that the attrition rate was significant of those who returned, that the drop in membership was higher in Non Paid Dues and Suspensions for Not Paying Dues than in the completion of the degrees region wide.   The study was on a very narrow slice of North American Masonry, but I think you can extrapolate the data to suggest a wider, more endemic issue, that once new members come, only a very small portion return year after year.

Read: The Death of Freemasonry: When Change Changes You

In the past, I’ve talked about the various reasons that some attribute to this: the lack of openness, the disparity in age,  the degree of interest of those already in attendance, or the degree of which the aspirant to the west gate is prepared or ready to be made a mason, that those who petition are not of the right caliber or quality for the degrees and naturally leave of their doing.

But as much as those have been the problems, my question turned back to society in general: has something changed in the modern society that has shaped the aspirants’ idea (or perception) of what the Masonic lodge “should be”, and when they get there.  Is it not what they expected?  If the latter then it is a good lesson on expectations that seldom are they met, but underneath the surface of that expectation, is there something missing that society is pre-engineering into their consciousness that they are just not seeing when they enter into our chambers?

I plan to explore these ideas in upcoming posts to see if we can break down some of the ideas and formulate some new ideas to bring to the public forum.  But before we can do that, I’m curious to know what you think.  Is the drop of membership representative of something more?  Is there a societal or sociological change in modern day that is different than it was 6o years ago?

Next up – Society vs. Sociological perceptions

Freemasonry – Know Thyself

By Martin Faulks

UGLE, coat of arms, Freemasonry

Why did an organization founded in the Goose and Gridiron Tavern in St. Paul’s Churchyard in 1717, go on to spread over the entire face of the habitable earth, and become the largest fraternal society in the history of mankind? And why is Freemasonry dying, in England, the place of its birth? Freemasonry is one of history’s success stories. Under the Grand Lodges of England, Scotland and Ireland we have an estimated membership of over 500,000. But the universal appeal of Freemasonry is not limited to the British Isles; world-wide we have an estimated membership of over 5 million!

Even within Freemasonry it is not widely appreciated how rare and unusual a phenomenon this is.  No other fraternal organization has ever spread so quickly, spread so widely or grown so large. To have done this Freemasonry must contain some idea that exerts a firm grip upon the imaginations of a considerable body of humanity, regardless of race, language or upbringing. Something about Freemasonry appeals to the very basic nature of humanity. What is it?

Today all organizations are having problems retaining membership, many Masonic lodges are having to close. Perhaps it is time to look at what got us into our successful historical position and what attracted our present level of membership.  To recreate these achievements in the future, we need to understand what Freemasonry has that other organizations, founded at the same time did not. We must ask what distinguishes our Craft from superficially similar organizations.

Our society provides many and varied chances for social and fraternal intercourse amongst individuals who choose to split off into distinctive fraternities. It offers many chances for charity and friendship. But this is not exclusive to freemasonry. There are a huge number of societies that offer similar opportunities, but none boast even half our membership, and none attract such men of distinction as we. By a process of elimination,  we arrive at the only remaining raison d’etre for the spread and attractiveness of the Masonic system, namely, the significance and implications involved within our ceremonial rites. There is something very special about our rituals.

A wonderful thing about Masonic ritual is that it acts like an ink blot test on the human mind. Each Freemason sees something slightly different in the working of the Craft depending on his situation in life, his personal background and his level of development. Sometimes I wonder if lack of firm knowledge of our origins is one of the greatest gifts Freemasonry has. This ambiguity allows the ritual to speak directly to us all without preconceptions.

Masonic ritual is a system of moral and spiritual transformation.  It inspires men to look at themselves and change the way they interact with the world; and it always has.  Freemasonry is a system of mental control and self-development comparable to Buddhism, yoga and many other paths of self-improvement to be found around the world. But it is a unique western tradition.

The special thing about Freemasonry is that it is free of dogma or religious bigotry. It is truly open to all religious persuasions. Each ritual is progressive, building on the work that was set before the candidate in the previous ceremony. It was the effectiveness of our teachings that inspired men the world over to don the Masonic apron. The rituals of Freemasonry tap into the basic human urge to want to improve one’s self, and to make the world a better place for all. Our Masonic philosophy should direct and aid us in this quest.

ashlar in freemasonry

Freemasonry teaches us that our personal characteristics are neither random nor immutable. We are not stuck with the nature we are born with.  We can change ourselves just as a builder changes his surroundings. We are living stones to be reshaped by the Masonic tools of the ritual. This is a powerful lesson. I believe it is the idea that originally drove the success of freemasonry and made it appeal to so many people. We all want to be better. If Masonic membership is dwindling, could it be that we are no longer putting this message across.

The lessons of freemasonry could be summarized as follows, the first degree teaches the principles of morality, the second degree the importance of learning, and the third the discipline of self knowledge.

As a young Freemason looking at Freemasonry in the modern world, I believe that it is at this final step that we falter. Lack of self-recognition and self-knowledge is not just lacking in the membership but also in the organization itself.

Freemasonry as a collective has still to master its third degree. We know the principles of morality, we understand the outside world. But we still have not realized our Order’s own true nature. The value of self knowledge is immeasurable. A man or a society must know its vices and its failures before it can eliminate them. It must know its virtues and successes to build on them.

Everywhere I go I hear Brethren earnestly saying that “Freemasonry has no secrets!”

If this is true then it is no surprise that young men join and then leave.

We are misleading them, because Freemasonry does hold secrets. Its traditional secrets tell how to turn vice into virtue. We are a school of self-improvement and self-development. This is the point of Freemasonry. If we Freemasons lose this focus then only failure can result.  If we have no secrets, what’s the point in joining?  If a school has no lessons it will attract no pupils. We will only get more men into Freemasonry, if we get more Freemasonry into men. Our success in the past was due to men being inspired to join to learn how to improve themselves.  Freemasonry is about inspiration. If we do not practice our teachings we will fail to be attractive. A rose only becomes beautiful as it grows from a bud into a full flower.  We are only going to progress if we truly engage with our own teachings. I don’t mean doing “sincere” ritual, I mean applying the “peculiar system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols” to ourselves. No matter how many rituals or meetings you turn up to you can’t absorb the virtue of morality by osmosis (Though you may absorb extra weight as you eat your way through numerous festive boards.). To make a daily progress in Masonic knowledge you have got to work hard in your spare time. You need to contemplate the working tools, and apply their principles to your daily life until they become second nature. You need to study the ritual, slowly cultivate the control and progress it demands. When others see Masons on this path they will flock to join us, as they did in the past.

The task that Freemasonry puts before each one of us, is monumental, hard and painstaking.  It is easy for modern Freemasons to push their efforts and time into other matters, which though laudable can lead to them becoming distracted from the purpose of the Craft.

Many Freemasons become expert on the history of Freemasonry in general and their own Lodge in particular. Knowledge of Masonic history is interesting and fun, but it should always be second to the transformational work of Freemasonry.  Many Freemasons work hard to be charitable. Charity is commendable and is one of the virtues all Freemason should try to cultivate. But Charity should be a side effect of our personal development not its focus.  It is not, and should not, become the point in our organization.  If we are a charity then our ritual is of no purpose.  If we are a moral School the important thing is that our students are learning.  I believe it is time for Freemasonry to take a close, critical look at itself.

The United Grand Lodge of England is leading the way with the message of its pamphlet Freemasonry An Approach to Life which makes clear to the public that freemasonry is system of self-improvement. But the brethren need to get serious and back up this message by demonstrating its application by their actions.

If we are to regenerate Freemasonry from within, we need to look to the future not the past. We need to enjoy the solution, not suffer the problem. I opened this article by saying Freemasonry in England is Dying.  Our third degree teaches us that a wonderful thing about death is it can lead to a rebirth. Let is concentrate on putting this Masonic lesson at the center of our Freemasonry.

time, weeping, virgin, broken pillar

The Death of Freemasonry

monument05Freemasonry will never be extinguished by outside forces. Tyrants, religious zealots, conspiracy theorists, and the jealous have attempted to stamp out the oldest fraternity and have repeatedly failed. At times the Society of Freemasons has gone into ultra-secret mode when faced with attack and this simple defensive mechanism enabled it to survive until the storm passed. Freemasonry can be killed, however, in two ways – one of which is not realistically going to happen anytime soon.

Freemasonry can die simply because it is no longer needed. That would require, however, an unprecedented and unlikely — at least in the imaginable future — change in all of human society. All humans would have to actively seek enlightenment while dealing with each other on the level. Humankind is nowhere near this utopian ideal.

The other, more possible, cause of death would be as the result of Masonic suicide. Masonic suicide could come in many forms, but the very real potential scenario involves making the mistake of thinking that humankind has reached that utopian level previously mentioned. If a large segment of the Freemasonic fraternity  believing that all of mankind is ready for the teachings of Freemasonry — pushes for the inclusion of all people into the organization, an unraveling of the very fabric of the fraternity could easily occur. To understand how this could happen, an examination of what makes Freemasonry work is necessary.

Like any fraternity, Freemasonry is a collection of — despite some amount of diversity — a gathering of like-minded men. The Brethren of the Craft must have, by necessity, some common ground even before they became members of the Fraternity. Without this basic foundation there could be no way to keep the fraternity from crumbling into chaos. An easy example of a portion of this common ground is a belief in a Supreme Being. Without this belief — held by all the members of Freemasonry — there would be no starting point. There would be no foundation. There can certainly be organizations without this important building block but they just can not be classified as Freemasonic.

Another important aspect of why Freemasonry works and sustains herself is the existence of a structure – a government. Though there is no doubt that Freemasonry contains a philosophy, one would be remiss if he did not recognize that it is — first and foremost — a structured government. It is a society that has a philosophy. The rules, regulations, and diplomatic protocols drive the philosophy — not the other way around. The governmental side of Freemasonry is what keeps the philosophy from becoming fractured and it also ensures that the common ground, or foundation, remains intact. Without the governing structure, the philosophy of Freemasonry would quickly splinter into many different philosophies as individuals attempt to remake the Fraternity into their own images.

If large enough numbers of the Brethren start failing to recognize the importance of the governmental side of Freemasonry and its role in maintaining the foundation and the philosophy, fraternal suicide is imminent. Chaos will replace Freemasonry as she splinters and fractures herself to death. Those Masons of yesteryear that orchestrated the union between the Ancients and Moderns understood this concept, as well – to a certain extent – as did the ones that arranged the creation of the United Grand Lodges of Germany. Freemasons of the past worked hard to correct the fractures and splinters and Freemasons of today should not allow the fraternity to travel that road again. Correction may not be possible the second time around.

Do you agree with these sentiments, or are they a limiting factor in the growth of the fraternity?

You can find more from the Palmetto Bug at the Masonic Line.

Freemason Tim Bryce.

Are We Reading the Signs?

If there is anything constant in life, it is change.
– Bryce’s Law

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin – Father of Evolution

It is no secret that membership in Freemasonry is either stagnating or in decline in most jurisdictions. Some Grand Lodges pay attention to our membership numbers, others do not. But I contend there are other important indicators we should be paying attention to; namely, membership and participation in the allied and appendant bodies of Freemasonry.

Attendance in our youth organizations (DeMolay, Rainbow, Job’s Daughters) are deteriorating. In Florida for example, just 30 years ago we had vibrant youth organizations; today they are few and far between. The Order of the Eastern Star and clubs like the High Twelve are also diminishing. Their members are getting older, grayer, and are not being replaced by new people. The Scottish and York Rite bodies are still reeling from the Shrine’s decision a few years ago to bypass these groups in order to join the Shrine. True, they have organized many one-day classes, but their numbers continue to drop. And even the Shrine is still experiencing membership problems; so much so, there are whisperings to negate the prerequisite of being a Mason to join the Shrine.

We could look at the decline of these fine organizations and blame it on bad management, and perhaps we would be right, but I believe the problem is more fundamental than this; that the real problem is our failure to adapt to changing times.

Following World War II, Masonic institutions experienced considerable growth during the 1950’s and 1960’s, our ” go-go” years. But our growth was arrested in the 1980’s and began to decline thereafter. The “go-go” years may have been great for membership but I feel this is when the fraternity began to stagnate. We had our way so long that we didn’t see any need for change and developed an attitude that nothing was wrong. In short, we became complacent. This attitude is probably the single biggest reason for the declining state of the fraternity today.

The reality is that the interests of people today have changed; they are not the same as back in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

For example, I can’t begin to tell you how many people have observed the dress and ceremonies of groups like DeMolay, Job’s Daughters, Eastern Star, etc. and told me it was “old fashioned” and “cornball.” They giggle and say the costumes and dress are something out of the 1940’s, certainly not something they want to be associated with. Their activities appear trivial if not totally meaningless. The point is, regardless of the noble intentions of these fine organizations, people perceive them as archaic. What is needed is a face lift. There is nothing wrong with the purpose and lessons inculcated by these institutions, but rather, it is the facade that needs to be updated. For example, are the capes worn by some of our youth organizations really necessary? Couldn’t something more contemporary be devised?

Advertisers have long understood the need for maintaining a contemporary image to sell products. This is why we have seen subtle changes over the years in familiar icons such as Aunt Jemimah, Betty Crocker, and the woman in the Columbia Pictures logo. Either get with the times or fall into obscurity. Unfortunately, this is what is happening to our allied and appendant bodies; they need to either reinvent their image or fall behind.

And Blue Lodges, representing the bedrock of Freemasonry, better be paying attention to all of this as well, less they face the same fate.

I don’t know why, but the old-guard of the fraternity resists any form of change. Perhaps it is a sign of senility. Nonetheless, changes are in the offing if the fraternity and its satellite organizations are to survive. But the younger members are growing weary of fighting with the old-guard over changes. So much so, there is a clever movement underfoot not to even to try to change existing lodges but, instead, to create totally new Lodges who are unencumbered by change and chart a new and imaginative course for Freemasonry.

Understandably, these new Lodges are attracting the younger members. So much so, that the older Lodges are withering and dying on the vine. It is unfortunate that such an approach is necessary, but the reality is that our older members tend to resist any form of change, leaving no other choice for our younger members. Frankly, I cannot argue with the logic of this move.

Bottom-line: We either evolve or face extinction.

Keep the Faith.

Freemasonry From the Edge
Freemasonry From the Edge

by W:.Tim Bryce, PM, MPS
Palm Harbor, Florida, USA
“A Foot Soldier for Freemasonry”

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this essay are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of any Grand Masonic jurisdiction or any other Masonic related body. As with all of my Masonic articles herein, please feel free to reuse them in Masonic publications or re-post them on Masonic web sites (except Florida). When doing so, please add the following:

Article reprinted with permission of the author and

Please forward me a copy of the publication when it is produced.

Also be sure to check out Tim’s “Pet Peeve of the Week” (non-Masonic related).

Copyright © 2008 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Three Types of Freemasons

Three Types of Masons

The best things in life come in threes, like friends, dreams, and memories.

rules of three

I’ve always believed in the concept of threes and the power of the triangle. Being a management consultant specializing in Information Technology, I’ve encountered this phenomenon too many times to consider it to be nothing but a coincidence. Consequently I tend to see things in “threes,” such as looking for three reasons for something to occur, three fundamental stages of growth (such as the three degrees), or identifying three characteristics of something, such as Masons. In my travels through the fraternity, it has been my experience that there are three distinctly different types of Master Masons in the world: Anonymous, Amateur, and Professional.


These are the Masons who loyally pay their dues but are never seen in the Craft Lodge. They are either incapable of attending (due to a short cable-tow, they live out of town, or simply don’t care), or they joined for the notoriety of being a Mason in the hopes it might help their professional career, or they joined in order to advance to another Masonic related body, such as the Shrine, and never look back. Lodge Secretaries are familiar with the Brother’s name, but cannot place a face to it. The Anonymous Mason is also commonly referred to as the “M.I.A. Mason” (Missing In Action).

Read: 11 Persona Types of Freemasonry – Part 1, New Members


Perhaps a better adjective for this type of Mason is “casual” as they tend to dabble in the fraternity. For example, they may occasionally make an appearance in the Craft Lodge, send in a donation for a worthy Masonic cause, or read a book or article pertaining to the fraternity. They truly like being a Mason but balk at making a major commitment to it, such as becoming an officer or serving on a committee. They are also the first to complain when a dues increase is proposed or if the Lodge doesn’t look quite right. Instead of becoming more active and finding out the cause of the problems in the Lodge, they find it easier to grouse from the sidelines thereby disrupting harmony.


In every Lodge there is a handful of Brothers you can count on for leadership and to lend a hand when the chips are down. They are intimate with the mechanics of the Lodge and the fraternity and do not hesitate to step forward when needed, and help mentor younger and less experienced Brothers so they may grow and take their place in the Craft Lodge hierarchy. The Professional Mason is not a zealous control freak with a huge ego, but rather is unselfish and appreciates the power of teamwork and the tenets of Freemasonry. He rightfully understands that Freemasonry is more about the overall Brotherhood as opposed to the glory of a single individual.

Some time ago I described “The 80/20 Rule” (aka “Pareto’s Principle”) which is a management concept commonly found in business, whereby 80% of the work is performed by 20% of the workers. We see this not only in business but in any nonprofit organization, including Freemasonry. Do not be alarmed, this is natural. In the Craft Lodge, 80% of the work is performed by the Professional Masons, and the remaining 20% is squeezed out of the Amateur and Anonymous Masons. If this is true, the Craft Lodge becomes in danger if Professional Masons are eliminated. Another danger is when an Amateur Mason rises and is elected to the East. This type of person is more interested in obtaining a Past Master’s apron, than doing anything of substance.

So, the question arises, “What kind of Mason are you?” I guess it ultimately comes down to why you joined the fraternity. If you are truly seeking further light, then you are on the right path. If not, you will probably be nothing more than an Amateur or Anonymous Mason, and we have too many of them already.

Keep the Faith.

Freemasonry From the Edge
Freemasonry From the Edge

by W:.Tim Bryce, PM, MPS

Palm Harbor, Florida, USA
This is a republication of the article from this site.
A Foot Soldier for Freemasonry

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this essay are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of any Grand Masonic jurisdiction or any other Masonic related body. As with all of my Masonic articles herein, please feel free to reuse them in Masonic publications or re-post them on Masonic web sites (except Florida). When doing so, please add the following:

Article reprinted with permission of the author and

Please forward me a copy of the publication when it is produced.

Also be sure to check out Tim’s “Pet Peeve of the Week” (non-Masonic related).

Copyright © 2008 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Masonic Central Podcast

Tom Accuosti

Masonic Central podcast

Join Greg and Dean in this episode, originally recorded on July 6th, 2008, as we interview Tom Accuosti author of the Masonic blog the Masonic Tao. Tom takes us back to a Golden Age when blogging about Freemasonry was new, or at least new-ish.

This was a fun conversation and a nice glimpse of Freemasonry from “back in the day.” Tom was always good for a laugh, a jab at the orthodoxy and his fresh insight of Connecticut Freemasonry.

You can hear our newness in the podcast. It’s refreshing.

An early adopter of the Freemasons online world, today Tom spends most of his online masonic time as the moderator for the r/freemasonry subreddit.

We hit all the Masonic highlights:

  • Anti-Masonry
  • Jack Chick Comics
  • What brought Tom into Freemasonry
  • His expectations about joining
  • When and where the deeper meaning go masonry gets discussed
  • And lots more.

We even get into the shrinking ranks of the fraternity and the loss of history at the local lodge level.

More importantly, in the conversation we dig deep into the early days of Freemasonry on the web, many of the message boards we haunted—many of which have long since gone under. Re-listening to the conversation reminded me just how different Freemasonry was in the pre-social world. It makes me think how online masonry is done today “isn’t how we used to do it.”

Tim Bryce and Fred Milliken join in on the conversation, too. Tom has a great wit—I was surprised how many times I caught myself laughing during the conversation. I’m glad I was able to restore and clean this episode up to republish it.

I hope you enjoy it.

And, pardon the ringing phone.

More from Tom Accuosti: The Secret Lesson of Hiram and the Ruffians