The Zeitgeist of Freemasonry

Is Freemasonry an expression of the zeitgeist, or merely a participant in it? A brief article from Martin E. Marty in “The Christian Post” writes a cautionary tale about the similarities between old churches and Masonic temples, both being moth-balled and sold off in the hinterlands of America.

I agree that the fraternity, as are many organizations, is retracting in present membership levels to numbers not seen in 100 years, but I don’t think that it signifies it’s demise. Instead I see it as a turning point from an over inflated institution that became haughty in it’s membership roles (and bank accounts) into a leaner organization that is newly competitive to television, sports, and other entertainments made to distract.

Freemasonry, in this new configuration, stands to recreate itself as an institution that matters, instead of a monthly supper club. But the work starts in the lodge, which is where the changes are already taking place.

The zeitgeist today is wants more answers, it wants more means to explore, and Freemasonry can offer that to society. That’s why Freemasonry isn’t a driver for the spirit of the age, it is instead a place to recharge the spirit and reawaken the curiosity of society.

What do you think?

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~ by Greg on July 26, 2006.

3 Responses to “The Zeitgeist of Freemasonry”

  1. Now I like this post.

    I didn’t join up to belong to a social club. I don’t see Freemasonry ever declining altogether. It will ebb and tide, as any numbers do, but not altogether.

    Because we don’t proselyte, it’s easy to say we’re dwindling. Not so. I see it as a filter. Those who wish to join up for whatever reason other than their own free will and accord won’t have the desire to continue when no one’s cheering them on. Granted, my brothers were happy to see me, but it wasn’t like joining a religion where people are overjoyed when a new member enters. I called people up, I asked a fellow Brother, and I was the one who made sure they conferred the degrees. If for every 10 passive/apathetic members we get one who cares, I’d say that’s growth.

  2. Here in Europe we also saw a massive loss in membership, but through forces outside the control of the members themselves. In 1945 the Masons started coming back together again and, under my Grand Lodge, we now have over two hundred and sixty Lodges.

    It is true that some Lodges tried to gain new Br as quickly as possible – within the required two years before the Light ceremony – and have suffered as a result. Several have closed through membership loss, many have found their feet in ways that were not expected.

    In my small Lodge – St. Alban zum Aechten Feuer – we have taken the position that slow growth with quality is far better than a massive bank balance through normal fees, but a total lack of ability to do anything through failing / falling attendence. This has proven to be a bonus for us, although we are facing our Light ceremony with a total of eight direct members and sixteen double or foundation members (who will officially move on in March 2007).

    Even as a brand new (re-awakened, since we were originally officially recognised as a Regular Lodge in 1786) Lodge, we have taken the whole seriously, and have turned several unsuitable people away from our doors. This has provoked talk amongst other Lodges who are, perhaps, more interested in quantity and cash. Added to which we take our Travelling period very seriously, and have made a name for ourselves by opening an Internet Forum for Freemasonry, and by being seen all over the country.

    If every Lodge followed the same, or an adapted ideal, Freemasonry might have lesser numbers, but the quality would be unassailable.

  3. we have starting making new changes in our lodge, raising dues and taking it more serious than the few elders still comming around. The demits rolled in and are still coming in. We do not want men just on the roster paying the dues to not show or just be active in other bodies. We wanted to clear the records and start fresh with no pre-concieved ideas/traditions that are not attractive to the young, inquiring minds that we are bringing in.
    Plus, make the lodge enticing to young men to want to hang out there. We bought a brand new 9′ pool table, 40″ plasma and wireless internet. Guys actually hang out there. The mood and attitude is great!

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