Whither are we Travelling
In 1963 a Past Grand Master of The Grand Lodge of Indiana published a little book titled “Whither are we Travelling” and somewhere along the line I have obtained a copy.
In this book he asks 10 Questions and proceeds to answer them from his perspective. In this issue I am sharing Question #10 with you. Please remember that this is written from an American Masonry perspective, but a lot is applicable to all of us.
Question #10 “Are there not too many well-meaning Brethren who are working overtime to make Freemasonry something other than Freemasonry”
In all the land there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. The Masonic Gimmick Manufacturing Company Unlimited is working overtime devising stunts to “modernize” Freemasonry, to put it in line with ten thousand other organizations that clamour for the attention of Society.
Among it many products we are urged to try are these:-
- Abandon the “Free will and Accord” rule which has placed our Craft far above the main line of societies & permit outright solicitation.
- Ape the Service Clubs and get busy on “projects”.
- Go into the organized “do good” business in a big way. Find an area of the human body that has not yet been exploited, and “Exploit It”. Set a quota, have a kick off dinner & get out ringing the doorbells.
- Subsidize other organizations right and left, and in the doing, ignore, neglect and starve the parent body.
- Feminize the Fraternity.
- Hire press agents to tell the World, like Little Jack Horner, what great boys we are. (“Masonry is not getting its proper share of publicity” complains one Grand Master.)
- Imitate Hollywood. Stage an extravaganza. Bring in all the groups that ever fancied themselves remotely related to Freemasonry. Form a parade, blow the bugle and beat the drums.
- Let Freemasonry “Take a Position” on the public issues of the day. Stand up and be counted.
- Go all out for materialism. Raise money; spend it. Build Temples & Institutions. Whatever can be done by the writing of a cheque
- Centralize, centralize, centralize
Why won’t someone suggest that “We Try Freemasonry”??
Certainly we haven’t been trying it these many years and we have experimented with just about everything the mind of man can imagine. Why not just get back to basics?????
Looking at the overall picture of Freemasonry it is my opinion that the greatest need is for the membership to have a better understanding of what our Fraternity is and especially of what it is NOT.
What is this Freemasonry to which I urge our Brethren to return??
What are its aims and objectives??
What does it do??
Perhaps the last place we would expect to find an answer would be in the First Book of Kings, and, even then, the answer will come as something of a disappointment, for it is all so different from the ways to which we have become accustomed.
Elijah was languishing in his cave on Mount Horeb in the conviction that of all God’s Children he alone had remained faithful to his trust. By divine command, Elijah went forth and stood upon the mountain, and the prophet tells us what happened:
“And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and break in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake: but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice”
What does this mean to us this day? It means that Freemasonry erects its Temples within the hearts of men. Even though we may not understand what we are saying, we sound forth our purpose in trumpet tones when, in our own Declaration of Principles, we proclaim,
“Through the improvement and strengthening of the character of the individual man, Freemasonry seeks to improve the Community”
And we tell the Candidate for the Degrees of Masonry the same thing in words striking in their simplicity. “The design of the Masonic Institution” we say to him, “is to make it members wiser, better and consequently happier”
Not a word here about mass action; no pressure groups, nor resolutions on matters of government policy.
No “Pro” this or “Anti” that.
No sales talk for any pet scheme.
No great undertakings to cure the ills of the world by making everyone over to fit a pattern of our own design.
No running around like chickens with their heads cut off in search of a do-good project which will gain favourable public notice.
No restless biting of the nails to compete with a service club or other such body.
No endless “busy-ness” which loses sight of the objective.
The Message of Freemasonry? Just This:
That God is not to be found in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in the still small voice.
The Purpose of Freemasonry?
Its purpose is the same as it has been since the day when the stones of King Solomon’s Temple were hewn, squared and numbered in the quarries where they were raised. It is to take an individual- just one man at a time, and as good a man as possible, and try to make a better man out of him. THAT IS ALL.
How desperately the World needs that!!!! And if the technique is outmoded, then the experience of two thousand years is all wrong and the Parable of the Mustard Seed is horse and buggy philosophy and the Leaven in the Loaf is a cruel hoax.
The mere fact that some men do not comprehend its purpose does not mean that Freemasonry has no purpose, nor that its purpose is outmoded; it only means that the stones are not being well hewn and squared in the quarries where they are raised.
Freemasonry has not been tried in the balance and found wanting: it has been found difficult and not tried.
More than anything else today, the world yearns for that same kind of gentle, healing influence in the hearts of men. The Masonic Institution, which sometimes is looked upon with scorn because it does not operate in the conventional manner, is prepared to bear witness to the fact that the conventional way of our age leaves much to be desired, and to stand upon its own majestic systems is to change human lives.
The message to the Brethren of the Craft is this:
“Freemasonry has more to offer the 21st Century than the 21st Century has to offer Freemasonry.”
In the past week alone, I have been approached by two young men enquiring when, following the degrees, they are going to be exposed to the mysteries of Freemasonry and possibly find themselves in an environment where the sharing of ideals; discussion and debate can take place. I am at a loss for an answer to this question as outside of Lodges of Education & Research which meet infrequently, I know of no such organized grouping. This speaks to me of the need for small “Masonic Circles” and if anyone knows of such bodies and has any information as to their size and structure I would be delighted to know.
Why does Freemasonry forbid Brethren to ask their friends to become Masons??
One of the fundamental concepts of Freemasonry is that application for Freemasonry must be wholly a voluntary act.
A man must seek for himself and join “of his own free will and accord”.
Under no other formula can men unite Brethren of a thousand religious and political beliefs.
Under no more constricting act could Freemasonry accomplish her only end, the building of character among men.
Men who become members of a Masonic Lodge for any other reason than their own desires can neither receive nor give to others the advantages of a wholly voluntary association.
Freemasonry is bigger than any man; the man must seek its blessings; it never seeks the man.
(Taken from One Hundred and One Questions about Freemasonry produced by the Masonic Service Assoc)