Sadly, the following message has just been posted on the Living Stones magazine website today:
Masonic history is littered with the fallen bodies of noble publications, some lasting only a few issues, others longer lived. Very, very few have survived for multiple decades (most notably The Philalethes magazine, and the MSA's much tinier but regular as clockwork Short Talk Bulletin in the U.S., and Quatuor Coronati's annual Ars Quatuor Coronatorum in the U.K. come to mind). Even the lionized National Masonic Research Society's The Builder lasted just fifteen years. Few have actually prospered, let alone retained a high standard of quality.
It is a sad truth that the overwhelming majority of rank and file Freemasons just simply do not support them.
In 1875, the prolific Albert Mackey opined in an essay,
The Mason, who reads, however little, if only the pages of the monthly magazine to which he subscribes, will entertain higher views of the Institution and enjoy new delights in the possession of these views. The Masons who do not read will know nothing of the interior beauties of Speculative Masonry, but will be content to suppose it to be something like Odd Fellowship, or the Order of the Knights of Pythias - only, perhaps, a little older. Such a Mason must be an indifferent one. He has laid no foundation for zeal.
If this indifference, instead of being checked, becomes more widely spread, the result is too apparent. Freemasonry must step down from the elevated position which she has been struggling, through the efforts of her scholars, to maintain, and our lodges, instead of becoming resorts for speculative and philosophical thought, will deteriorate into social clubs or mere benefit societies. With so many rivals in that field, her struggle for a prosperous life will be a hard one.
The ultimate success of Masonry depends on the intelligence of her disciples.Now, it's entirely possible that Mackey was just simply bitching because no one bought his latest doorstop of a book. Masons certainly have snapped up works like Born In Blood, The Lost Symbol, The Hiram Key, and books labeled for Dummies and Complete Idiots. But Freemasonry has never required its members to be lettered scholars. The most unread book in Masonic history, Pike's Morals and Dogma, was given out for free by the Scottish Rite for over a century, and remained largely unviewed by its own members. Millions of our most talented, dedicated, brotherly, and competent leaders and workers in our quarries never picked up a Masonic book in their entire lifetimes. But there is nevertheless truth in what Mackey said.
No one gets rich publishing Masonic works. The regular production of an independent Masonic publication of any kind must be a true labor of personal dedication and commitment, because it is usually doomed to struggle without the backing of a large, well financed organization like a grand lodge or national appendant body. This is true even with quarterly and annual ones, much less the harrowing task of achieving monthly status. Back when we started the Masonic Society in 2008, we knew that the principal and most high-visibility accomplishment would have to be the Journal, and just getting enough high quality submissions for a quarterly periodical - along with attracting enough members to support it - was going to be a supreme challenge from the start.
What Brother Herd and his regular and occasional authors and artists achieved has been nothing short of amazing. Just putting together a stack of original printed material on a monthly basis that was interesting, thought-provoking, and useful to Freemasons would have been enough of an accomplishment, and even a lousy magazine that looks professional and has its monthly pages filled still takes days of work just to assemble. But Robert's has been a beautiful product since the beginning, and always contained something original and compelling. His was indeed a noble effort and a laudable pursuit.
The header above the announcement seems to indicate that they will publish through June 2017 to satisfy the commitment to subscribers. It will be missed.
Requiescat In Pace