Saturday, October 11, 2008
What Would You Do As Grand Master #2
Now here is an erudite Brother with a reply. He is even putting the finishing touches on a book!! I won't spill the beans and tell you what it is all about. The Wayfaring Man has a blog that always has me leaving with something I didn't know before, some new knowledge. His historical perspective is outstanding and he has proven himself to be a man of letters. I urge everyone to visit The Wayfaring Man's Blog at Audi, Vide, Tace In the meantime, Al Gore, watch out!!!
Masonic Global Warming Denied
The question the Good Squire puts to us is:
how to save Mainstream American Freemasonry from extinction
which assumes that we are indeed headed toward annihilation, or worse, irrelevance. I am not willing to accept this hypothesis and I do not see us headed toward extinction. At least not now. Masonic extinction, or an "Ice Age" of cultural misgivings in Masonry which could give rise to extinction, since 1717 only comes in two forms if history is any guide.
The first is extinction by political fiat. Franco, Hitler, Stalin, and Khomeini, to name a few of Masonry's detractors in the last 75 years, have extinguished our Order by simple decree. At the stroke of a pen, and with the concomitant cock of a pistol, Masonry became outlawry and every Mason -Caput gerat lupinum - a Wolf's Head. Yet even under the iron- shod heel of the most savage repression, did Masonry's flame go completely dark? Iran still holds some Masons yet, thirty years after the revolution, and although they cannot meet legally, they are still in quiet touch with one another. So too, living Masons emerged from the concentration camps in April 1945, and Masonry was never completely dead under the Nazi regime, a far more formidable apparatus than even the most repressive "Grand Lodge Tyranny" imagined by today's critics.
Other than repressive dictators, the other great wave of "climate change" that imperiled our Craft was the Anti-Masonry hysteria of the 1826-35. On one level less hazardous to life and limb, it can be seen as infinitely more dangerous in terms of its potential lethality to the Craft itself because where totalitarianism enkindled the bolder Masonic spirits to soldier on, the calumny of Anti-Masonry undermined the commitment of individual Masons to continue at all, and lodges nationwhide closed their doors, some of them forever. Had it not been for the political corruption of some prominent Anti-Mason political candidates, the gloss of Anti-Masonry may have gleamed just long enough to erase Freemasonry from the United States for good. And although purely speculation, had that occurred, would the UGLE and the European lodges have been able to withstand similar assaults if North American Masonry had succumbed? Thankfully, we will never know.
In contrast to these two greatly unfavorable climates, the woes of today's Masonry, and the shrill cries of its critics ring hollow indeed. Are there problems in Masonry? Of course.
Are we teetering on the brink of a total collapse? Certainly not.
The decline in membership that we witness today is the result of the end of the membership boom of the last century, and as such, it is totally understandable. Masonry responded to swollen rolls by expanding in those heady post-war years - new buildings, increased public visibility, more, better, bigger: the American way. But those days are over, and a leaner, more agile Masonry is required today.
Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble no longer.
Your new Grand Master should make a sharp turn in Masonry - a U-turn, to be precise - turning the Craft back in upon itself. 100 years ago, the Craft was more insular, less visible, less hyped, and less public than it is today, and it was that way for many reasons, some of them philosophical, but some of them quite practical: there simply weren't enough Masons to have a drill team, a clown squad and 30 minature cars. It's time to look to the English model, quiet, small, but still very much alive, to see us through until the next seasonal change is upon us.
Thus, I argue that a simple downsizing is what Masonry requires today - not because the polar icecaps are melting and the deluge is coming - but because this is normal seasonal change, and prudence requires that we dress accordingly.
Posted by Frederic L. Milliken at 6:18 PM