Freemasonry Is Dying

Discussion in 'Masonic Blogs' started by Squire Bentley, Nov 29, 2018.

  1. Squire Bentley

    Squire Bentley Premium Member

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  2. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    Like many social institutions the GL form of Freemasonry is dying. The GL have spent 300 years waiting for time and circumstance to restore the genuine secrets.

    Yet, Freemasonry we are told is a science, and we know that science proceeds by observation, hypothesis and experiment. In 35 years I have met perhaps 2 brethren actively pursuing Masonic Science. The rest seem to be happy with ritual and socializing, while a few read what others have written about Freemasonry.

    The human race still however needs brethren that can operate in and manage the temple that extends from E to W and N to S and from the center of the Earth to the Heavens. They are gradually being developed by hard experience and open-minded seeking of knowledge and wisdom. I expect that they will progressively form their own institutions.
     
  3. Squire Bentley

    Squire Bentley Premium Member

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    The way I see it is that Freemasonry has become a Top Down Society. And there lies our problem. Because all Freemasonry is local and used to be that way and operated successfully that way.. But today Grand Lodge wants to micromanage the Fraternity.. Top Down Freemasonry creates conflict, too much conflict. It stifles creativity, it crushes enthusiasm and ruins pride in the Craft. One size does not fit all in Freemasonry. We have turned our beloved Craft into a copy of the US Army. It is time for the younger Masons, those thirsty FOR THE REAL THING to organize and start telling Grand Lodge NO!
     
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  4. David612

    David612 Registered User

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    Is it dying?
    Yes, I would say so.
    I guess the question is should it die?
    Is the bludgeoning of the craft to death by ruffians armed with ignorance and indifference a fitting death to protect the true secrets?
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2018
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  5. jermy Bell

    jermy Bell Registered User

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    Is masonry dying ? YES, should it be dying ? NO. I wish to not step on any toes, but there are issues with the old guard, and also with younger brethren coming in.

    Old guard
    We have been doing it this way for 100 years.

    Question old guard, if it has worked for you all this time, WHERE ARE ALL YOUR LODGE MEMBERS ?and why is your LODGE fading ?

    New members

    We want to change how things are ran, change tradition, bring young blood in and do it our way.

    Old guard

    Will you learn the ritual , keep the secrets of freemasonry, what do you offer freemasonry ? Can you and will you guard the West gate ? How will you pass on the light, and ritual and secrets if you are not willing to climb that stair case made of 3 , 5 and 7 ?

    New members

    Silent
     
  6. Glen Cook

    Glen Cook G A Cook Site Benefactor

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    You generalize. The GL of UT and many others don’t operate in that manner.

    More importantly, what are you doing to correct your GL’s perceived issues (PHA TX?)?
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
  7. Bro. David F. Hill

    Bro. David F. Hill David F. Hill Premium Member

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    May I ask why you are taking offense and directing negativity towards our Grand Lodge when all that was done was the posting of an interview to spark conversation? According to the Masonic Service Association website there was a net loss of 40,928 members for the 2016-17 period and a grand total of 1,076,626 from a US population of 325.7 million or about .33%. This is the lowest point in their records back to 1924. Only four states had a gain: Alabama (551), Hawaii (13), Kentucky (33), Utah (6). Why the decline?

    http://www.msana.com/msastats.asp
     
  8. Glen Cook

    Glen Cook G A Cook Site Benefactor

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    Br Hill: to whom are you putting your question?
     
  9. Bro. David F. Hill

    Bro. David F. Hill David F. Hill Premium Member

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    Everyone. We live or die if we can not find a way to raise the next generation of Masonic leaders. We are independent jurisdictions but one body. Kind of like the cell phone companies, we are churning members. One day the law of diminishing returns takes us past the tipping point and then we will go away.

    Brother David Hill
     
  10. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    In my observation the product delivered in Freemasonry is very far short of what most new brethren seek. They generally cannot articulate what they are looking for but it involves profound experience and few lodges deliver that.

    For various reasons including candidates that did not turn up, I was inducted into the 18th degree on 5 occasions. The 4th time worked. I was aware of a vortex in the center of the temple and the secretary later said he saw me surrounded by light.

    If we understood enough about Masonic Science to deliver such experiences quite often, then more of the new brethren would stay
     
  11. CLewey44

    CLewey44 Registered User

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    What, Masonic unions and strikes?
     
  12. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    1. Freemasons who organize are called a "Lodge".
    2. Lodges who organize are called a "Grand Lodge".
    3. Grand Lodges are organized Lodges of Freemasons who want to micromanage the Fraternity - in other words Freemasons are doing all that you wrote to themselves.
    You want change? You have to establish member autonomy and you'll not do that until you have lodges practice what they preach.

    That requires members actually "earn" their respective titles rather than have them bestowed upon members who memorize and regurgitate without strong foundations of understanding.
     
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  13. Winter

    Winter Premium Member

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    Brother Kennedy's article, while accurately detailing the numbers involved, does nothing to look at that raw data in the wider context and what they might mean. Freemasonry did reach a peak around 1959 and has been in steady decline since. This is a fact not in question but the statement does nothing to look at why this is happening.

    Freemasonry saw an unprecedented boom after both World Wars when young men returned home and joined the fraternal orders in droves. The majority of the industrial and manufacturing base throughout Europe had been devastated during the war. As a consequence, the United States picked up that slack and we became the primary exporter of goods needed around the world. This led to a huge boom in jobs and wages and the average American found himself with marked increase in quality of life and more disposable income that allowed them to entertain extra curricular activities and hobbies. For a variety of reasons many of these men found their way into the Masonic fraternities and the Appendant Bodies. I would posit that the proportion of men who were truly there for the Mysteries was likely not much different than today with most paying the same lip service to the ritual that we complain about today.

    The decline in American Freemasonry began in the 1960's with the sons of Masons who had joined after WWII not following in their father's footsteps. Two unpopular wars in Korea and Vietnam and the widespread protest culture meant that the old Fraternities were on the wrong side of history as symbols of the establishment that had caused the problems the young people were protesting against.

    A slight resurgence began maybe two decades ago when the following generations began to become interested in the fraternities their grandfathers belonged to and that they knew nothing about. Seriously, how many times have us veteran forum members seen a post began with someone saying their grandfather was a Mason or they have his ring and the started researching it and became interested enough to knock on the door? Many of these potential candidates had read old treatise on the Craft and saw a beautiful fraternal order with deep philosophical study and mystical rites performed in stunning halls that looked like the perfect thing to fill what was missing in their lives. And when they were allowed in, found only lackluster ritual, boiled hot dogs and constant arguments about how to keep the lights on in a crumbling building that can no longer be paid for, yet the old guard refuses to let go as they vote down any dues increase because it would be a hardship on the older Brothers living on a stipend. Of course these new brothers fled for the hills and nobody can blame them. And even though many new Brothers of the 1990's stayed with a determination to make Freemasonry the Order we knew it could be, myself included, the decline continued because the effort was not as widespread or as thorough as it probably could have been.

    I have said it many times before, and I will restate it here again, that the decline need not be a bad thing. How many men actually care about spending their time delving into the ancient mysteries with their noses in old esoteric tomes or memorizing ritual? Certainly not a full 1% of society. Our actual numbers should more likely be much smaller if we are attracting only the men who want that. This decline can be views as a correction as we return to a more realistically sized membership base. But that only happens if the decline is coupled with a better focus on meaningful ritual and education. Freemasonry is bloated and carrying around dead weight that needs to be excised as we transition to a leaner more healthy body.

    Brother Kennedy has compiled accurate numbers but at the end of the day, they are just that, numbers. With no glance whatsoever at what the cause or possible result of those numbers may be, they are ultimately meaningless and it becomes impossible to make a claim, as he does emphatically, that the declining membership unequivocally means that the craft is dying. We do need to decline, in my opinion, but that does need to be a bad thing.

    Edited for spelling
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018
  14. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    Lodges used to be the social center. Now that function happens at the Shrine center. It's an odd reversal that the philosophy which appeals to so few is at the base with the social which appeals to most is in an appendant order. I know the history of why that happened in the US but I find it strange anyways.
     
  15. chrmc

    chrmc Registered User

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    I think it's a bit errant conclusion only seen from a US perspective to he honest. It is true that Masonry is shrinking and becoming smaller, at least in the US, but does that mean that it's dying. If it was back in 1717, how large were lodges and Masonry then, and should we end with those sizes, does that mean that Masonry is dead? I think we can discuss that Masonry may be irrelevant in the Western world, but that is mainly the extent.
    If we look at many of the developing Worlds is my impression, based mainly on the reports of Tom Jackson that Masonry is growing and flourishing.

    The other view one can take is an esoteric one, where we can look at the Masonic truths that is embedded within the work. There's a whole discussion on whether they are a continuation of the Ancient Mysteries, but I would think that the truths that are in Freemasonry would prevail even though the present setup and structure of the Organization may change a lot.
     
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  16. CLewey44

    CLewey44 Registered User

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    Your Sistine Chapel. ;)
     
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  17. Winter

    Winter Premium Member

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    I believe that if they Lodge is Raising Brothers instead of making members, then the bond of fellowship develops naturally and the social interaction becomes a natural consequence. I don't think we need a separate appendant body to have the social aspect if our Craft Lodges are governed correctly. But in the United States all of our Lodges went dry during prohibition and never took that law off our books when the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment. As a consequence, organizations like the Shrine became the social hubs because you couldn't have a beer after Lodge with your Brothers. Why these outdated laws remain on our books has always been a mystery to me. We're Freemasons, not Puritans. Grand Lodges saying we must be teetotalers in a Lodge building are saying that we cannot be trusted with an adult beverage after we have closed.
     
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  18. CLewey44

    CLewey44 Registered User

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    We have a lodge nearby here that has a full functioning bar. They 'employee' a brother to tend it, we pay for drinks and tip the gent. Makes for a nice environment.
     
  19. Brother JC

    Brother JC Vigilant Staff Member

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    It varies by jurisdiction. In NM there is no prohibition to having alcohol in the building, just selling it. Individual lodges May have stricter rules (often based on what the fez club did to the building).
     
  20. hanzosbm

    hanzosbm Premium Member

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    Winter; I completely agree with everything you said.

    Rather than quote so many different people, I'll just add my thoughts.

    I think that young men (and I hesitantly identify as such) are looking for something deeper as others have said, and not finding it, or finding resistance to it, are leaving. And that is what is preventing the change we're looking for; they keep leaving. There is a large percentage of Masons who would like to see the kind of change we're talking about, but they're not sticking around long enough to build up the numbers needed to affect the votes. The actual number of men who want to see this kind of change, I believe are in the majority, but if they don't stick around and vote, nothing will ever change.
    The fact of the matter is, I think things ARE slowly changing. Those resistant to change continue to get older and we see fewer of them in lodge every year (and to be fair, I will miss their fellowship and experience). Of the younger men being initiated, at least a few of them stick around, and so the needle is starting to move. These numbers, in addition to the tenacity of the younger men is causing changes that we're starting to see. Every year there are more and more TO, European Concept, Strict Observance, and Research Lodges. More and more lodges are having discussions and Masonic education. More and more votes are going to Grand Lodge being put forth by younger Masons. They're not very successful at this point, but you can see the push. We haven't gotten to a tipping point, yet, where we are providing enough to satisfy when our candidates are seeking in large numbers, but we're moving in that direction.

    What I'll be very interested to see is, when we reach that point some day, will our missing brothers return in droves? If so, can you imagine what that would look like? We have initiated tons of young men who have left. If they all suddenly returned in a short period of time, that would really be something to see.

    Many young Masons are in favor of higher dues. Imagine the changes we would see if every lodge doubled the number of men on their roles and quadrupled their dues. Think about your own lodge and what you could do with 8x time revenue.

    I'm excited to see what the future brings.

    In closing, is Freemasonry dying? I guess that depends on what your definition of Freemasonry is. One could easily argue that it's finally coming back to life.
     

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