In this episode, I point out two attitudes that we should change in the Fraternity to lay the groundwork for turning things around.
One such attitude is the idea that ‘Freemasonry is no longer relevant for today’s man.’ According to this style of thinking, the decline of Freemasonry is the perfectly natural consequence of today’s man being interested in different things than men were a century ago and more.
This is balderdash.
There have been a few enduring concerns that most men have had since the dawn of recorded history if not before. One is fundamental, even primal: what does it mean to be a man? Another is closely related: how can we be better men?
In some sectors of the modern men's movement, we see the notion that to be a man is to be focused on themes like strength, courage, mastery, and honor, and that men function best when attached to each other by bonds of brotherhood (my reading of, for example, Jack Donovan's The Way of Men). Sound familiar?
Today’s man is hungry to learn about models for manhood, and Freemasonry provides an excellent model of manhood for today’s man.
It’s not that men are not interested in what Freemasonry has to offer. It’s that they have no bloody idea what Freemasonry is about to begin with--and the general public's ignorance is Masonry's own fault. But we can change that, and in future episodes I shall explain exactly how we can change that.
Another problematic attitude is that “We need to have fewer Masons.” This idea is based on a logical fallacy. The crowd that says “we ought to have fewer Masons,” seems to be under the impression that the brothers who leave are the people less interested in Masonry, the people who we’re better off without.
But I come away from my researches with a very different picture of the people who demit and NPD from Masonry.
The biggest issue that we should be concerned about is when men leave because they are not receiving what they should be getting from their lodges. Things like instruction in the meaning of our symbolism, learning about Masonic philosophy, learning how to apply that philosophy and the lessons of our symbolism to daily life, to the challenges of being a better man in the 21st century.
We should make learning these subjects the center of our Masonic meetings. In future episodes, I’ll describe exactly what we can do to deliver on what we implicitly promise to our candidates.
Saying that we’re better off with fewer Masons is just a self-serving way to try to get off the hook for failing so many of the men whom we initiate. That’s our fault, that’s our shame, and we can and should change it.
As I’ll explain in future episodes, Masonry has a mission, part of that mission is building society, and when it comes to that effort, the more qualified men we have, the better.
Amazon listing for Mark Koltko-Rivera’s book, The Resurgence of Freemasonry:
Music: “Dreamer,” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
Welcome to the masonic resurgence podcast. I'm your host, Mark Cultco Rivera, and I'm here to talk about how to bring about the masonic resurgence. Today's episode number two asks the question, why should we save freemasonry? In my last episode, I pointed out that American masonry is experiencing a serious membership crisis that calls the fraternity's very survival into question. In the United States, we have declined in membership by about 73% from 1959 to 2018 that just grim. In this episode, I'd like to point out a couple of attitudes that we need to change in the fraternity in order to lay the foundation for turning things around. This is a job for every one of us from the rank and file Joe Mason to the lodge officers to the district deputy, and I dare say to the most worshipful grandmaster himself. Here's an attitude that I've noticed here and there in the comments that people make on Facebook discussion groups and in person. As I've traveled around to different lodges to speak. It's the attitude that maybe free masonry is no longer relevant for today's man. According to this style of thinking, the decline of freemasonry is the perfectly natural consequence of today's man being interested in different things than men were a century ago and more. Heck, the technology is certainly different. The world is different in so many ways. Life itself is different, so of course tastes will change in this reality. The decline of freemasonry is like the closing of blockbuster video stores or the way that so many people don't have land line telephones anymore. So what do I think of it all? Balderdash meretricious fashionable boulder dash and here's why. Underneath all the high tech toys and social currents, there have always been a few enduring concerns that most men have had for centuries, for millennia, probably since the dawn of recorded history and before. Sure. One of them is how to connect up with women, but I'm not talking about that one today. I'm going to focus on to other issues. The first is fundamental, even primal. What does it mean to be a man? The second is closely related. How can we be better men? 3,800 years ago, the epic of Gilgamesh provided a model of manhood in the courageous figure of Gilgamesh, who braved many dangerous to try to bring his friend back to life. 3000 years ago, as King David neared the end of his life, he told his son, I go the way of all the earth, be thou strong and show thyself a man. Those ancient works of literature, the Iliad and the Odyssey composed about 28 centuries ago provided models for manhood for the culture of their time, such as the great hearted Odysseus. Now, do models of masculinity differ in different eras and different cultures? Of course they do. Same as models of femininity. Is there a dark side to any given model of masculinity? Of course, there is the same way that there's a dark side to any given model of femininity, but that's beside the point. My point is that men have been interested in models of masculinity and in how to be better men for a very long time. Indeed, and that curiosity has not died out. Now by any means. Yes. What it means to be a man. A good man is in flux. Gender roles are up for grabs, but men are still trying to find the essence of manhood. And you see this in the literature of the modern men's movement. There is a strain of the modern men's movement that I find a lot to admire in. I'm thinking of a book by Jack Donovan titled The way of men. He writes about what he calls the tactical virtues, the virtues that helped keep men alive from the time that men were hunting prehistoric mastodons all through the wars that men had been required to fight right up to the present day. And what are those tactical virtues? He lists them as strength, courage, mastery, and honor. And he specifically points out that men kept themselves alive by forming what he calls a gang, but what he calls a gang, he describes in a way that could just as easily be called a brotherhood. Even a fraternity. Donovan's book is rather popular in some sectors of the men's movement, even though it looks to be essentially self published. And it's about seven years old. As I write these words, it ranks number 14 on Amazon in books about men's studies. It ranks about 7,300 on Amazon against all books, which is a phenomenal ranking. If you consider the gazillions of books that Amazon sells, a book on, men grouped into a brotherhood built around strength, courage, mastery, and honor. Is anything starting to sound familiar to you here? I'll be blunt about this. I think that today's man is hungry to learn about models for manhood and freemasonry provides an excellent model of manhood for today's man. Think of just some of the basics here. The three chief tenets of our profession, the four cardinal virtues, the lessons of the working tools, the focus on lifelong learning and the Middle Chamber lecture, the Metaphor of the journey of the initiates from apprentice through journeymen to master. Oh, we've got strength, courage, mastery, and honor covered here and much more besides no folks. It's not that men's interests have changed all that much on the fundamental things. It's not that men are not interested in what freemasonry has to offer. It's that they have no bloody idea what free masonry is about to begin with. Yes, that's true. Brothers, for the most part, today's American men either knows nothing about freemasonry at all, or he thinks that masonry is a tool of the Illuminati reptilian demonic overlords bent on enslaving humanity. You can't make this up in a future episode. I'll go over the facts and figures about this, but you know what? You know why today's American man is so ignorant and misinformed about masonry. It's our bad folks and we need to own that all together. We can change that and in future episodes I shall explain exactly how we can change that, but in the meantime, don't give me an a Bosch about how masonry is supposedly out of touch with the interests of today's man. Masonry is more relevant to men today than it has ever been. There's another attitude that I'd like to take issue with an attitude that is surprisingly widespread, but before I do that, I'd like to share a word from our sponsor. This episode is sponsored by my book, the resurgence of freemasonry. Why Masonry must not just survive, but thrive and how masons and their lodges can make that happen. In this book I described the freemasonry that we could build, why masonry could research, why free masonry isn't a membership crisis and especially what we can do to turn this situation around and make free masonry the best and strongest fraternity it has ever been. The resurgence of freemasonry by Mark Cultco Rivera available right now on Amazon in paperback and kindle. See the link in the description, but we're not done yet with this episode. As I said, there's another attitude that I'd like to take issue with an attitude that is getting in the way of us rebuilding the fraternity. Perhaps you've heard of it. We need to have fewer masons. Different people phrase it differently, but the idea is always the same. We have too many mediocre masons and it would be better all around for the fraternity if they left to emitted NPD deed or simply died and then everybody else, the real committed ones could really fly. It almost sounds like it makes sense, doesn't it? If it's phrased just right, there's just one little problem though. It is all rot from beginning to end. It is all based on a fallacy, a logical gaps so big. You could drive a truck through it. Let's go over this. It is true that one of the reasons that masonry is declining is because we have an unacceptably high number of dimensions and dismissals for nonpayment of dues or npds the crowd that says we ought to have fewer masons. Now, they seem to be under the impression that the brothers who leave are the people less interested in masonry. The people who were were better off without, but that's not what my research tells me. I've looked at the comments people leave on discussion forums. I've listened to what people have said to me personally, and I come away with a very different picture of the people who Dimmit and NPD from masonry. Yes, there are some who really weren't interested in what free masonry was actually about to begin with. They thought they would get a gold bar or learn who killed the Kennedys and when they found out that we weren't like the stone cutters in the Simpsons after all they left and we really are better off without that sort. I agree, but there are other reasons why people leave as well. Reasons that we should be concerned about. The biggest reason that we should be concerned about is when men leave because they are not receiving what they should be getting from their lodges. Things like instruction in the meaning of our symbolism, learning about masonic philosophy, learning how to apply that philosophy and the lessons of our symbolism to daily life, to the challenges of being a better man in the 21st century. Guess what? This is all our bad too. We should make learning these subjects, the center of our masonic meetings when we don't, when we implicitly promised people in our initiations that they will learn the mysteries and then deliver business meetings with all the spiritual content of a foam bill. Yes, a lot of people will get up and leave and I certainly can't blame them. This too is something that we can do something about. In future episodes of this podcast. I'll describe exactly what we can do to deliver on what we implicitly promised to our candidates, but no one tells me anymore that we're better off with fewer free masons. I don't think that the brothers who say this realize it, but this idea is just a self serving way to try to get off the hook for failing so many of the men whom we initiate, that's our fault. That's our shame and we can and should change it. As I'll explain in future episodes, masonry has a mission. Part of that mission is building society and when it comes to that effort, the more qualified men we have, the better. Perhaps you have questions or comments about this episode. Maybe you have topics you want to hear me talk about. Maybe you just hate what I say. I'd love to hear it all. Send an email to masonic email@example.com I look forward to seeing what you have to tell me. If you like this kind of content, do subscribe, like and share. In my next episode, I'll talk about the kind of free mason that we should be building, the free masonry that is worth building up. Thanks for tuning in. You can check out some other things I am doing for the fraternity on my website, www.lodgeconsulting.com I release new episodes weekly on Tuesdays. My episodes usually run 12 to 20 minutes so you can listen on the road, on the treadmill, or during lunch without really cutting into your day. My podcast is or will soon be available on iTunes, Google play, Spotify, and Stitcher, and on Alexa devices through either the any pod or tune in apps. That wraps it up for this episode of the Masonic Resurgence podcast travel. Well, my brothers remember together we can do this.