Whither directing our course
Every Mason should carefully read and
digest the speech to the Cornerstone Society
of the Pro Grand Master, the Marquess of
Northampton, reproduced on pages 41-45
of this issue.
It is a wake-up call to the Craft, and sets
out what needs to be done to make
Freemasonry relevant in the 21st century –
indeed, to survive. In essence, every Mason
has a duty to promote the tenets of the Craft
to non-Masons. Its future lies in our hands.
Lord Northampton underlines the
absolute essential of educating not only
Masons but the wider general public into
the meaning and substance of Freemasonry.
He writes: “If we all make the effort to
explain Masonry to laymen in suitable terms
we could really make a difference to the way
we are perceived. Above all, we must stress
how enjoyable it is. The brotherhood will
surely come to an end if it ceases to be fun.”
One problem is that too many Masons
are still reluctant to talk about the Craft –
even if they think they are competent
enough to do so. As Lord Northampton
explains: “The time has come to talk openly
and freely about our rituals with anyone
who is interested, as long as we take care
not to dilute the effect the ceremonies will
have on future candidates.”
Crucially, he points out that Masons need
to spend more time on why Freemasonry
was formed than on when. This is where,
first, the education of Masons themselves
comes in, and the proposal for Lodges to
appoint Orators to provide well-written
papers takes on added significance.
After all, if Masons cannot explain to
themselves the raison d’être of Masonry,
how can they tell the uninitiated wider
world? As Lord Northampton rightly
puts it, doing nothing is not an option.
This call to action from the Pro Grand
Master is in the light of some stark statistics
which he reveals in his article. English
Freemasonry has lost at least 40% of its
membership in 30 years, although that
decline has slowed in the past two years.
However, in the same period the number
of Lodges has increased, but far too many
have too few members. Candidates are raced
through the three Degrees without properly
understanding them, and into the various
offices right up to the Chair with barely a
pause for breath.
Meanwhile, the number of initiates has
fallen 30% in the past ten years, and in the
next 25 years English Freemasonry could
have shrunk by half – one Lodge in every
two will have disappeared.
So, while it is essential to bring more men
into Masonry, it is also essential to put more
Masonry into men. Every Lodge should
now discuss how it intends to improve that
education, every Province needs to have
a programme of education in hand – and
many are already hard at work in this area.
That “daily advancement in Masonic
knowledge” to which all Masons have
signed up now takes on added meaning
– and urgency.
Notice should be taken of the strong
advice from the Board of General Purposes
(see p12) about approaches to and from
the broadcast media about Freemasonry.
Basically, while it is not intended to
prevent Masons voicing their views, it is
best to contact either the Communications
Department at Freemasons’ Hall or the
Provincial Information Officer first.
In particular, brethren are asked not to
voluntarily approach the media to solicit
coverage. It is important that Masons who
do go on such programmes are experienced
and properly briefed beforehand.
This applies whether the programmes
are going out nationally or locally.
It is important that anyone taking part
in such programmes has received the
due authorisation to do so.
There has been a renewed interest in
Freemasonry by the broadcast media, so
never forget that, as Masons, we have all
been taught to be cautious.
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