What Do New Freemasons Really Want?

Discussion in 'Masonic Education' started by Blake Bowden, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member

    I have been a Master Mason for just three short years. I turned 40 this year, and by all demographics, can still be considered a younger Freemason. During the time I have have been a Freemason I have been told by many older experienced Freemasons that we have to make it easier for young guys to join. I’ve been told that the decline in membership is partially due to it being to hard for young men to find time from family and work to Freemasons. So, we have to make it easier.

    So, in the pursuit of making it easier we have offered One Day Classes. We have loosened the rules on proficiency in the first lecture. We’ve kept our dues low to accommodate men who may not have the funds to pay higher dues. In many lodges we have been less rigorous in our examination of new candidates by investigating committees. You seldom hear about a black cubed being dropped because, after all, don't we need the members?

    But, there has been one basic problem with all that I have been told by long experienced Masons about what younger men want. None of them seemed to have ever asked any younger Masons if easier Freemasonry is what they really want! And, in fact, I have come to believe that easier Freemasonry is not what younger men who want to join our fraternity are wanting at all! My own experience is echoed in the stories I hear from Masons under forty.

    I became a Freemason in great part because of the witness of my Grandfather to the value of Freemasonry. When he died I attended his Masonic service and was impressed by the men in dark suit, white gloves, and white aprons who paid tribute to my Grandfather. At that funeral, I promised myself that some day I would be a Mason if such a fraternity of honorable men would have me.

    More than a decade passed before I acted on that promise. during that time I read every web page, book, and article I could find on Freemasonry. I read about the history, philosophy, and ethics of the Craft. When I petitioned Phoenix Lodge, I was informed that I could receive my degrees in a One Day Class. But, I thought about my Grandfather and requested that I received my degrees in the usual way. I wanted to experience the full initiatory experience my Father, Grand Father, and Great-Grandfather had experienced. I wanted to memorize every word of the ciphers given to me. I did not want my mentor to cut me any slack.

    As I have seen young men come into the Craft I have seen that they want many of the the same things I wanted. Young Masons do not want anyone to make it easy for them. Younger Masons that I have talked to believe that we need to make it harder and not easier to receive the degrees. Younger Masons want to read and learn about the philosophy and teaching of Craft Masonry. They do not want Freemasonry handed to them. They want to earn it! In my own professional life I have made a study of young adults. While my study involved young adults in a church setting, I had opportunity to write some course material for use by churches for young adult ministries.

    Much of what I learned about young adults applies to Freemasonry as much as it does church. Young people are searching in our society. They are searching for meaning, depth, and focus to their lives. They are searching for a philosophy and ethic that will help them to live a better life. They are searching for growth and self-improvement. In short, they are searching for what Ancient Craft Freemasonry in its purest form offers them.

    If older Masons really ask young Masons what we really want, I believe you will find that we want the fundamentals of the ancient and honorable Craft of Freemasons. We want the freemasonry of Anderson’s constitutions. We want the freemasonry of our Fathers and Grand-fathers. We want to be challenged, stretched, educated, and trained. We want the opportunity to take our rough ashlars and begin to smooth them. We want to be Freemasons in the fullest sense of the word!

    Source: Timothy Bonney http://hiramtyre.squarespace.com/
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2015
  2. Bro Darren

    Bro Darren Premium Member

    I am being initiated into the Lodge Of Quest here in Melbourne Australia in a few short weeks. They DO NOT offer a short cut path to MM as they whole heartily believe that a mason needs to earn his degrees. Proficiency should be very important IMO as this reflects the effort one places on each step. A man should be rewarded with his degree based on his effort :)

    I'm 36

    My Freemasonry
  3. jmiluso

    jmiluso Registered User

    I agree, I just received my 3rd degree 2 months ago and for all 3 degrees I have done the long version. At my lodge in Moreno Valley CA there has been talk about doing the long or short versions. I know that I am glad that I did the long versions for all three of my degrees. I understand more from doing this.

    My Freemasonry
    kastonw, Warrior1256 and Bill Lins like this.
  4. usmcvet

    usmcvet Registered User

    I would not have wanted to do all three in one day. How the heck do you learn the degrees and the lectures? I can't see how you would. I was nervous when I was examined in open lodge but I was also excited and proud when I finished and received a round of applause.
  5. Roly Todd

    Roly Todd Registered User

    I agree...

    I am the youngest mason in my lodge (34) and I certainly didn't want an easy ride.
    I had my 3rd degree last week and there is a massive sense of achievement that comes with that.
    I am not sure how all could be done in a day considering what was needed to be learned/memorised/recited in my experience.

    I suppose it also depends on your reason for seeking this out.

    My Freemasonry
    Bill Lins likes this.
  6. broglover79

    broglover79 Registered User

    I agree I became cautious in February and have made suitable proficiency and will be brought home or will rid that goat after thanksgiving. I don't think I would no what I no if I had the one day course.

    My Freemasonry
    Bill Lins likes this.
  7. K3vin

    K3vin Registered User

    I was raised this year. I have a similar story to the initial post in this thread. My Grandfather and Great-Grandfathers before him were all Masons. I would never have felt right about taking "short cuts" around degrees, and after having been through them and earned my proficiency through hard work, I appreciate the labors of all Masons who have gone before.

    One thing, in my humble opinion, that is lacking in Masonry is visibility. I have talked with many people who have no idea what a Mason is, or have a completely wrong idea of what we are. I think the future of Masonry depends on us being visible, productive, and charitable members of our communities. I think at times we are too quiet about our contributions to our communities and simply go unnoticed.

    If we as Masons can become more visible with the necessary humility, I believe we will attract the right kind of men to become Great Masons.

    Kevin Magill

    My Freemasonry
    Bill Lins likes this.
  8. Browncoat

    Browncoat Registered User

    I'm brand new, having only been initiated last week, and will take my EA Exam on 11/20. I've been interested in joining ever since I can remember. I love reading about history and religion, and Freemasonry has come across my desk many times ever since I was a kid. There is no Masonic history in my family that I know of. My father-in-law (before his health deteriorated) was quite active in the Lodge and beyond (Commandery, Shriners, etc). I'm by far the youngest at my Lodge, at age 38.

    I disagree that Freemasonry needs a lower barrier to entry.

    I understand that membership is dwindling, and that dues are an important part of keeping the bills paid and the doors open. I think that as technology progresses, it's easier for men to stay "busy" in modern times with the internet and other distractions, and that the "need" for a fraternity has been diminished. While I haven't researched any numbers, I can say with a fair degree of certainty that other similar organizations must also experiencing a drop in membership: Moose, Elks, even VFW's. The idea of a social club for men just doesn't have the same appeal that it once did. There's much more to Freemasonry of course, but to the general public, Freemasonry is just that: secret handshakes and dues.

    One thing really hit home with me when I first met with the Lodge Education Officer, who would instruct me for my EA Exam. He said that he was obligated to tell me that there is a minimum proficiency exam available, which is much shorter and easier than the full exam. He would be disappointed if I chose that option, but he would teach it to me nonetheless. I politely declined, and asked to be taught the full version. Personally, I want to experience everything the Freemasons has to offer, not some abbreviated and watered down version.

    And that's what I'm really getting around to here. I think that a quantity over quality approach is the wrong way to go. The fraternity will continue to attract the right candidates without drastically altering its approach. Knowledge seekers aren't exactly shortcut seekers by their very nature, and I think it would be a mistake to dumb down the ritual and tradition in an attempt to grow the member base. If membership has no value because it was quickly obtained, there is no reason to pay dues and continue to participate.
    Bill Lins likes this.
  9. brother josh

    brother josh Registered User

    We can always go back to meeting in rooms above taverns with no markings

    My Freemasonry
    BroBook likes this.
  10. jwhoff

    jwhoff Premium Member

    There's a thought.

    STILL, I'm listening to all that these young brothers have to say.

    Believe it or not, these ARE words of encouragement to many of us old hatters. It's much too easy to become cynical and just give up.

    Thank you my young brethren. These words stir my soul and make me want to stay in the trenches and do my ever so little part in keeping this great light of civilization shining forever!

    May the GAOTU bless and keep you all.
    streeter, Warrior1256 and Bill Lins like this.
  11. Browncoat

    Browncoat Registered User

    I was with my mother at dinner this evening, and while we waited for our food, I stepped out for a smoke. On my way back in, I held the door open for an elderly couple and the little old lady smiled and thanked me. She turned to her husband and said, "See? Chivalry isn't dead after all." Opening the door for ladies and the elderly isn't even something I really think about. I was just raised that way.

    And now I'm looking to be raised again, an even better man.

    I'm very lucky to have a young family. At age 38, I still have two grandparents living...having lost my other grandparents in recent years. I greatly miss my grandfather. He was a WW2 veteran, and one of those old school guys that everyone loved. He had a story for everything. What little time I've spent at the Lodge so far reminds me spending time with my grandfather. They're good men. They're polite, play a mean hand of Euchre, and have great stories to tell. I have a huge amount of respect for the Greatest Generation, because I think a lot of their values have been lost.
    Bill Lins likes this.
  12. jfol

    jfol Registered User

    I agree, the journey should not be "watered down" to appease those who would want to join. If they really want to- no matter how difficult it may seem- they would tough it out.

    My Freemasonry
    streeter and Bill Lins like this.
  13. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

    Okay, other than the fact that most want the long form with a much smaller percentage going for the shortest path they can to get to full membership -

    What else is it y'all want out of lodge? I've seen brothers wanting everything from bowling clubs through mystical discussions. Everyone wants "value" but what's of value varies brother to brother.
  14. rhitland

    rhitland Founding Member Premium Member

    We want to be engaged in manner that makes us want to labor on our own reformation not Freemasonry's. This would certainly include philosophy but much more. Us young masons want to share and learn from older wisdom but not be judged by our own interpretations. By and large this is what masonry has but we do not promote like we should.

    My Freemasonry
  15. BroBook

    BroBook Premium Member

    New Freemasons should want what the original Freemasons wanted The Truth,The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth, so help us GOD and keep us steadfast to pursue the same!!!wwea

    Bro Book
    M.W.U.G.L. Of Fl: P.H.A.
    Excelsior # 43
    At pensacola
    Bill Lins, rebis and jjjjjggggg like this.
  16. Keith Carpenter

    Keith Carpenter Registered User

    I agree; things should not be made easier. I had to learn the Explanation of the Second Degree Tracing Board while learning my Deacons work; I gad to learn the Exhortation in the Third Degree while learning the Junior Wardens work and our newer members are only having to learn the work related directly to their office and yet the minute they become Worshipful Master they ask why they didn't have to learn the other stuff.
    Learning as much as you can teaches you your limitations and gives you humility. Once you have learned the work you grow in stature; not yo others but to yourself. This, in my opinion is what makes good men better.
    DPK42 and Bill Lins like this.
  17. Keith Carpenter

    Keith Carpenter Registered User

    Can I ask how many American Freemasons actually get to progress through the offices of the lodge?
  18. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

    It is unlikely there are good statistics already gathered to be able to give an accurate answer to that question. The only statistics I have seen are numbers of EA/FC/MM. If I had to make a wild guess it would be in the 10-40% range somewhere end up PMs.

    The words "get to" might carry meaning I missed. There are a lot of lodges who will put any brother who requests a chair into the line and then see who has the staying power to end up in the east. In those lodges every brother "gets to" start putting in the work but not every brother chooses to. I ended up a PM in my second jurisdiction because I affiliated at a time when there was a need for active members to become officers. There are a few lodges so busy there is a waiting list to enter the line - A brother who understands he can transfer or multiple affiliate to a less busy lodge still does "get to" try the chairs. In this sense of having access to being installed in his first chair the percentage is far higher. There is drop out while in the line plus not all that many brothers think of or are willing to transfer for a chair.
  19. Morris

    Morris Premium Member

    The "Millennials" are possibly the most inquisitive generation ever. With information always at their fingertips please don't short them anything.

    Sent From My Freemasonry Pro App
    streeter and cacarter like this.
  20. JamesMichael

    JamesMichael Premium Member

    I also joined because of my father. He told me to take my journey slow and don't move on until I feel that I have some understanding of what I experienced. He recommended that I remain in Blue Lodge for awhile and don't consider SR or YR until later. He was a SR 33rd. He felt that Freemasonry was being cheapened by one day classes and that memorization was no longer a requirement for entry. So I have been taking things slowly, but actively. I entered just over 5 years ago and I am still a steward at my own request. I am 40.

    Sent From My Freemasonry Pro App
    streeter and Raymond Walters like this.

Share My Freemasonry