"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


“The Masonic system represents a stupendous and beautiful fabric, founded on universal purity, to rule and direct our passions, to have faith and love in God, and charity toward man.”
— William Howard Taft

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Decline of Men, and What Freemasons Need To Do About it


On Wednesday of last week, United States Marine Corps Commandant General Robert B. Neller told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense: "It's a strategic issue that less than 30 percent of the young men and women of our nation are qualified just to join the military, either because of physical, mental or moral issues."

Think about that for a minute. 

It means that  7 out of 10 young Americans between roughly 17 and say 30 are NOT qualified to serve in the military for "physical, mental or moral issues."

It's part of a much, much larger matter, particularly involving men in America. I despise people that hang "crisis" around the neck of the topic de jour, but when looked at in the aggregate, the statistics involving American men by almost every measure are alarming, and have been for quite some time. Economics, crime, job losses and wage stagnation, drug use, suicide, illiteracy and education failures, illegitimacy rates, government dependence, homelessness — pick any of them, or pick your own.

Coincidentally to the General's statement Wednesday, last Thursday Tucker Carlson on Fox News began a month-long series of reports on the decline of men in America. The video of his long introduction can be seen above. I recommend a viewing of it.

This blog site is a deliberately myopic one. I focus on Freemasonry and topics and events in the world that affect the fraternity going forward. That's why I feel so strongly that this report from Carlson is an important one that brings up issues that are having profound effects upon American society at this very moment. And because they specifically revolve around men, they are vital to understand for the leaders of the Masonic fraternity, too. Because we have a job to do, and we're failing at it.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the show:
"The signs are everywhere. If you’re a middle aged man, you probably know a peer who has killed himself in recent years. At least one. If you’re a parent, you may have noticed that your daughter’s friends seem a little more on the ball than your son’s. They get better grades. They smoke less weed. They go to more prestigious colleges. If you’re an employer, you may have noticed that your female employees show up on time, whereas the young men often don’t. And of course if you live in this country, you’ve just seen a horrifying series of mass shootings, far more than we’ve ever had. Women didn’t do that. In every case, the shooter was a man...
[snip]
"The average American man will die five years before the average American woman. One of the reasons for this is addiction. Men are more than twice as likely as women to become alcoholics. They’re also twice as likely to die of a drug OD. In New Hampshire, one of the states hit hardest by the opioid crisis, 73 percent of overdose deaths were men.

"But the saddest reason for shortened life spans is suicide. Seventy-seven percent of all suicides are committed by men. The overall rate is increasing at a dramatic pace. Between 1997 and 2014, there was a 43 percent rise in suicide deaths among middle aged American men. The rates are highest among American Indian and white men, who kill themselves at about ten times the rate of Hispanic and black women.

"You often hear of America’s incarceration crisis. That’s almost exclusively a male problem too. Over 90 percent of inmates are male.

"These problems are complex, and they start young. Relative to girls, boys are failing in school. More girls than boys graduate high school. Considerably more go to and graduate from college. Boys account for the overwhelming majority of school discipline cases. One study found that fully one in five high school boys had been diagnosed with hyperactivity disorder, compared with just one in 11 girls. Many were medicated for it. The long term health effects of those medications aren’t fully understood, but they appear to include depression in later life...
[snip]
"For men, the consequences of failing in school are profound. Between 1979-2010, working age men with only high school degrees saw their real hourly wages drop about 20 percent. Over the same period, high school educated women saw their wages rise. The decline of the industrial economy disproportionately hurt men.

"There are now seven million working age American men who are no longer in the labor force. They’ve dropped out. Nearly half of them take pain medication on any given day. That’s the highest rate in the world.
"Far fewer young men get married than did just a few decades ago, and fewer stay married. About one in five American children live with only their mothers. That’s double the rate in 1970. Millions more boys are growing up without fathers. Young adult men are now more likely to live with a parent than with a spouse or partner. That is not the case for young women. Single women buy their own homes at more than twice the rate of single men. More women than men now have drivers licenses.
[snip]

"One study using census data found that single women in their 20s living in metropolitan areas now earn eight percent more on average than their male counterparts. By the way, the majority of managers are now women. Women on average are scoring higher on IQ tests than men are.

"Men are even falling behind physically. A recent study found that almost half of young men failed the Army's entry-level physical fitness test during basic training. Fully seventy percent of American men are overweight or obese, as compared to 59 percent of American women.
"Perhaps most terrifyingly, men seem to be becoming less male. Sperm counts across the west have plummeted, down almost 60 percent since the early 1970s. Scientists don’t know why. Testosterone levels in men have also fallen precipitously. One study found that the average levels of male testosterone dropped by one percent every year after 1987. This is unrelated to age. The average 40-year-old-man in 2017 would have testosterone levels 30 percent lower than the average 40-year-old man in 1987.
"There is no upside to this. Lower testosterone levels in men are associated with depression, lethargy, weight gain and decreased cognitive ability. Nothing like this has ever happened. You’d think we’d want to know what exactly is going on and how to fix it. But the media ignore the story. It’s considered a fringe topic..."
Pick it apart, take issue with this stat or that one, obsess over some point where you think Carlson overstated all you like. If you don't like him or you don't like Fox News, then pretend it's Rachel Maddow or Edward R. Murrow if you like. The point is, something grim is happening to the American man in society today at almost every sociio-economic and racial level, and it bodes ill for all of us. 

This is far from a whole new controversy or topic, and Carlson is by no means alone in sounding this alarm bell. He's just the latest to highlight it, and he's got a big platform from which to spread the word. After the clip above ended, he interviewed Jordan Peterson, a Canadian clinical psychologist, cultural critic, and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. Peterson is hated in many circles for bringing issues like this up at all, but he's one voice among many now. It's been going on for quite some time.

Recall the specifically Christian-centric "Promise Keepers" movement in the 1990s, which was partially organized to attempt to halt the decline of masculine character in America. It too was publicly excoriated at the time in some quarters for fighting against the accepted cultural norms, and for celebrating what were seen as old fashioned, pseudo-Neanderthal morals and attitudes about men and women, and the very real, very serious, very honest, biological, physical, and mental differences between the sexes. But Promise Keepers, as large and as successful as they were at the time, was just a drop in the bucket, and they have largely faded from the landscape today.


Freemasonry has been around for at least three centuries, and we long ago adopted the catch phrase that we "make good men better." So, do we? Do we really? Maybe the bigger point is that there seem to be less and less good men out there to start with, however you define "good." That's because the society and the culture aren't even preparing them for the future anymore. While Freemasonry is not, and never has been, a home for wayward boys or a rehabilitation program, it has always been a philosophy and institution to encourage self-improvement through association with other men who are worth emulating. We are needed now more than ever before in a society that has left vast swaths of men unprepared to deal with life, men who are simply giving up. We can and must fill a void that exists by doing our part in helping to fix society at this critical moment in time. But we must also come to grips with the fact that the men who are joining the fraternity today (and who are already members) are NOT the men who joined 50 or 100 years ago, by any measure you may choose: in temperament, stability, knowledge, motivation, competence, competitiveness, faith, morality, education, and personal responsibility. 

That's just a plain fact. And it's not a pretty one.

Civilization is a long game, not easily analyzed in ten year spurts, much less in five minute news reports. But these stats have been trending this way since as far back as the 1970s, as traditional male roles have been made more and more diminished, and even obsolete, by almost everything, everywhere you look. On the family side of the equation, there was Dr. Pincus' invention of the birth control pill, followed by the legalization of abortion on demand, no-fault divorce, combined with the huge expansion of the social safety net that encouraged the destruction of the extended family. On the morality and virtue side of the equation, there has been the complete dismantling of any and all religious considerations, or even gentle guidance, in the public square, along with the plummeting rates of those who will even acknowledge a belief in a Higher Power, however that power may be conceived. Laws and regulations have completely replaced what people used to do or not do because it just wasn't right before, or the neighbors would talk. Now, the neighbors don't know who you are, don't care, and they don't dare talk about you anyway. Judges and legislators used to discuss crimes that were "an affront to God and Man." Now, neither can even be mentioned, if only as an abstract construct, in a public policy statement or ruling, or much of anywhere else outside of a church, synagogue, temple, or mosque. 

Meanwhile, consider the huge shift in attitudes about adolescence and adulthood itself. As recently as World War II, it was not an uncommon story to hear about men lying about their age to join the military as young as 16 or 17. In the 1960s, there was an insistent clamor to reduce the age of consent lower, and the drinking and voting ages were dropped from 21 down to 18 to coincide with the draft age (and in time for the 1972 presidential election) — the 26th Amendment giving 18 year olds the vote was passed by the states faster than any other Constitutional amendment in history. But in the last decade, something quite bizarre has happened. Smoking ages and drinking ages have been almost uniformly increased by state laws back UP to 21, and now states are attempting to raise the age of various gun purchases to that higher age, as well. It seems that 18 year olds are deemed less trustworthy or less responsible than they were in 1970 in the public perception. Likewise, when the Obamacare laws were enacted, the age of child dependents permitted to stay on their parents' insurance plans rose all the way up to age 26 — further reinforcing the social acceptance that the age of childhood could now be prolonged beyond a quarter of a century — nearly a full third of the average lifespan today. Indeed, more 25 year olds today are still living with — and off the labors of — their parents (or even grandparents) than at any time in recorded history. And a substantially higher percentage of these 25 year old, at-home children are men than women. 

Substantially. 

Then there is the matter of men in the workforce. Automation has rendered the natural physical strength advantage of men over women unimportant now. Jobs once reserved exclusively for men that were considered too strenuous or too dangerous for women are overwhelmingly being replaced by machinery or technologically advanced tools. Wage stagnation has driven far more women out of domestic life and into the workplace than any sense of 'liberation' or 'empowerment' has. Until the 1980s, it was absolutely possible and probable that a mature, responsible man could support a wife and two or more children on his salary alone. Two-income households have become a basic necessity now, regardless of family size, and not just a decision based on some sense of personal fulfillment. But automation is not just robbing men of jobs anymore. Women are being supplanted too, putting even further downward strain on households and on earnings. Tens of thousands of formerly middle class Americans are now living in second hand trailers and motor homes, traveling the countryside like nomads, chasing low-paying, seasonal jobs just to survive. Amazon even has a program for these people, calling them their CamperForce. We seem to be living through a modern-day Grapes Of Wrath period. But these aren't just Okies fleeing the Dustbowl anymore. They used to be our neighbors, and they're from everywhere.

Stir all of that soup together, and the result has been an almost complete transformation in five decades of men from the supporters and protectors of their families and society into what is today obsolescence. In a world where all gender roles (and even genders themselves) are interchangeable, men have been rendered, as the British so chillingly refer to it, "redundant." This hasn't been a gradual evolution over centuries or epochs, but of just a few recent decades or less. What was most admirable and successful about men vs. women for tens of thousands of years that enabled the human species to endure and flourish has been pushed overboard in less than half a century by America and much of Western civilization. To quote Ned Beatty in the movie Network, we have "meddled with the primal forces of Nature."

Good, bad, or something in between, it doesn't matter. This is where we are right at this moment in time.

We're fifty years away from the pivotal year of 1968 (the "Summer of Love") that became 1969 (the "Summer of Regret"), and that gives enough distance to compare what we were before with what we are now. In the world of Freemasonry, grand masters everywhere are currently obsessing single-mindedly on how to appeal to "the Millenials," and starting to sniff around about the generation coming after them, too. The reason young men are coming to us is because they are searching for something. They want to fill an emptiness at the center of their lives. 

Often, these young men have been raised without moral or religious instruction, or any sort of fraternal bonding at all. In that regard, an increasing number of them equate Bible passages that make up the very foundation of Masonic rituals as being no more or less significant than both ancient and new age mystical manifestations or charlatanism; who learn their own moral code because nobody from their mom to their schoolteachers to the cop on the corner wants to impose upon their own sense of self-discovery and self-esteem. They are seeking something that the culture used to provide but lost the keys to the car for a couple of decades ago. Often, they don't know WHY they want to join the fraternity themselves, they just know that SOMETHING IS MISSING FROM THEIR LIVES. And distracted parents, shrinking families, unstable jobs, nonexistent friendships, and churches they've never been in haven't provided that 'something' to them.


This is not mere evolution going on today. Evolution takes time. But we are experiencing a terrible rending of society itself right now, a society that no longer trains the very people who will soon inherit it, run our governments and our corporations, and decide whether to shut off your life support machine on some not too distant morning. A society that DEPENDS on the passing of knowledge and culture and ideas and history and moral and spiritual values, or it will implode when its own people who have the control panel in their hands don’t know how or why the damn thing doesn’t work anymore. Wikipedia has become our national memory and replaced the need for anyone to have one of their own anymore, and the collective consciousness of internet groupthink, of Facebook likes or Reddit upvotes, has replaced our own conscience and moral compass. As Masons, self-improvement has always been a cornerstone of improving the society around us. That’s supposed to be our mission. But we can’t improve the world if we can’t even improve our own members, or keep them long enough to even try. Or just simply attract those men "who can best work and best agree" that we are all supposed to be emulating in the first place. Society isn't like a faulty iPhone that can be fixed by just tossing it out and getting a new one.

We once either attracted men who were the pillars of the communities, or we taught the ones who would become those leaders. Masons didn’t need to beg those men to join, or provide one day classes or reduced proficiency, or form study groups to “peer into their mindset.” They were attracted to us because of our reputation — a reputation we’ve been living off of for well over half a century now, that we don’t earn or even deserve any more. Where are our Masonic mayors and councilmen and school principals, and sheriffs and judges and business leaders and shop owners and congressmen and presidents today? Much less, our philosophers who debated the issues of the Enlightenment that we were living out within the walls of our lodge meetings before any nation put them into practice? Not many of them can be found in our lodges now. 


The Lodge of the Nine Muses that Benjamin Franklin shared with Rousseau in Paris was studied by an academic historian in the 1960s, and he called it the United Nations of its era. Do we have any lodges like it anywhere the U.S. today? The truth is that when we circulate lists of famous Freemasons now, we’re lying. Those lists are like a phantom limb that our brain remembers from before it got blown off in our more recent past.

We once demanded the very best in our membership, but we also CREATED the very best, too. The most admired men in any society don't often start out that way. But they became the best over time, in their family, their little towns, their states, their fraternity. Masons didn’t hunt for them, they hunted out Masonry.

Of course we are all on the level. But there’s a flip side to that, of our responsibility to lead and improve society around us every day, in ways large and small, regardless of how we start out. That’s what George Washington meant when as a teenager he wrote down the aphorism in his copybook, “Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.”


Children in single-parent families now make up 40% of the kids born in the U.S. today, and in the African American community, that percentage soars to 67%. They have been raised by daycare centers, drugged to be calmer and more manageable, staring into TV sets and smartphones, isolated behind backyard privacy fences or closed up in apartment cubicles, and never even knowing their who next door neighbors are (even the ones who don't move away after a year's lease expires). A growing handful are now home schooled, and never physically interact with other students until they reach high school, or even college. They have more virtual friends online than real, flesh and blood ones. Teenagers have lost the desire to learn to drive a car or be independent of their parents. They're even giving up the most basic concept of the mating ritual: dating.

And yet, young men today are looking for a mystic tie to other men. They are looking for enlightenment. And undeniably, they are looking for a connection to the past that maybe their parents, friends or other institutions were never able to give them. Most of all, they are seeking a connection to something larger than themselves. They come looking for the Masonic lodges of Washington and Franklin and Hancock, of Mozart and Goethe, of Thurgood Marshall and Rudyard Kipling. Of festive boards and philosophical discussions and toasting to the King, the Queen, or the President. Lodges of the world's oldest, largest and most legendary gentleman's fraternity the world has ever known. They’ve read all about it. But if what they find instead is peeling plaster, foul smelling furniture from the Coolidge Administration that should be cleaned and then burned, suspicious meat sandwiches, generic pop, and three hour business meetings about when to hold the fish fry or bitching about who's going to fix the toilet, followed by a bunch of guys stabbing each other in the back out in the parking lot, they won’t be back.

Like it or not, we’ve suddenly had a big fat awesome responsibility shoved onto our shoulders as Masons, and especially as Masonic leaders, that have never existed before. That’s now on your head and mine, because we’re still here and we keep coming back every week as these men cycle through our lodges. You can bitch about “kids these days” like your own parents used to, but like it or not, they are ours to raise now. We’re stuck with the job because society won’t do it anymore. Countless of them are moral and spiritual ciphers, hunting something they can sink their teeth into that reaches into their heads and hearts, without understanding why they need it. They just know that they do. But they won’t find what they need and we won’t have the opportunity to help them find it if they flee the building before anybody has the chance to help them discover that ‘I’m spiritual but not religious’ vacuum they recognize they lack.


The current wave in sociology, in education, and even in government is to attempt to completely deny basic human nature, and basic biological wants and desires that are baked into our cakes since childhood, and to instead alter them by fiat and by passing laws and constantly repeating theoretical utopianism that is just not true. The current state of the American Man and society at large shows that these attempts have taken a horrible toll. When human beings no longer have anything to strive for, no greater purpose to live up to, no horizon to conquer, no common belief or shared sense of mission, no sense of duty for even the children they give birth to, nothing to defend or protect or provide for, and no worth of any kind because they have no responsibility to succeed at anything anymore, they are capable of doing tragic and even horrible things, if only for revenge or out of despair. Or that most horrible of all dragons: sheer boredom.

History is something that happens when you aren’t paying attention. But we ignore this growing crisis of the decline of men in society at our peril, and at the peril of our communities and nation as well. As Masons, as citizens, as fellow creatures, it's long past time that we rolled up our sleeves and start fixing each other before there's nothing left to fix.

25 comments:

  1. Brother, your article was a good read thank you. Have you ever read about the concept of “toxic masculinity’ this could be the reason for many of the male problems you have described. We do have a responsibility to our younger brethren and also to the wider community.

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    1. Yes, of course I'm well aware of it as the latest fad in sociology, pseudo-psychology, and media puffery. Until a few years ago, it was considered to be simple human nature in men who couldn't subdue their passions. And when a "toxic masculine" man, say, pressed himself on a woman in a brutish or ill-mannered way, women were likewise fully within their rights to haul off and slap his face, slug him in the mouth, or knee him in the groin, just as all of those Barbara Stanwyck and Bette Davis movies amply demonstrated. Now it seems that begrudging compliance, followed by delayed regret and shame, lawsuits, and a furious hashtag campaign have replaced what used to be solved privately between two human beings in a matter of seconds.

      Again, another artificial attempt to replace what was considered basic human interaction governed by morality and unspoken rules of civilized behavior that was once reinforced by society, with laws, regulations, policies, and public caterwauling.

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    2. While I in many respects agree with you Chris (women slugging gross dudes in the jaw is a beautiful mental image), we also know that, as a man, you've not been in the uncomfortable, intimidating position.

      and neither have I.

      What i do know though, is that I've seen enough of modern mans behaviour to know that i should believe women when they tell us that the kind of aggressive sexual behaviour we see filter into the public eye through bars and clubs, is just as possible in private.

      Additionally i don't like the seeming dismissive reference to "furious hashtag campaigns". It suggests that the current trend of people who have routinely behaved appallingly for years finally get called out on their garbage, and finally seeing what looks like an end to the entertainment industries systemic issue of quietly accepting sexual harassment and assault as "part of the gig", is to be thought of as a bad thing.

      There are huge volumes of good ideas and consideration in the article you've written. You're reply comment here, feels derisive and much less thoughtful.

      I apologise for the critical nature of this comment, but I just think theres more to what you're discussing than how your response frames it.

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    3. You're probably right. It was late and I was tired, so it was unduly dismissive.

      That said, I will admit to learning all I need to know about the limits of boorish behavior toward women when I was 14 years old. A female classmate and I were engaging in friendly taunting back and forth when I went decidedly too far in responding. Her answer was to, yes, bust me across the chops, just like Barbara Stanwyck. I never forgot it, and the two of us remained great friends for many years until we lost track of each other.

      So anecdotally, yes, a properly administered rap in the mouth was the effective teaching tool at the time in my case. But it was the 1970s, which seems like a galaxy away from now.

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  2. I’m impressed with the effort in developing and the coherence of your message. I don’t disagree with the facts or the cause and effect relationship you argue in decrying the status of men in (as I understand it), Western Society. I don’t argue that the importance of our meetings has dwindled to that of getting a meal at the diner. Many of our meeting places are open ndeed shabby.
    My thoughts aren’t as crystalized or honed as yours, but yours have helped provide some structure to mine. It is my sense that in decades past, men came to us with, generally, an intact religious identity; core; background; experience. Freemasonry did not provide that foundation. We provided an outlet for the expression of that foundation. There was a greater likelihood of a familiarity with Old Testsment scriptures used in the ritual. While I embrace the First Amendment strictures on prayers in public schools, it still provided an experience with institutional prayer. Indeed, that opitbis only one example of ritual in public life no longer amply evident: reciting a pledge, learning the American’s Creed, even an expectation of a particular mode of dress at events of significance. Today, there is no such expectation, and a suggestion of such requirements in a Masonic internet group is decried as reflective of the outer, not the inner man, without an understanding of either the concept of dress reflecting the perceived significance of the event, or that sometimes the outer really does reflect the inner. My lodge performed the degrees in white tie and tails when I joined. I now see men, experienced Masons, who couldn’t be bothered to put on a shirt with a collar. For a century, this was found to be within the means if men of thst lodge. I’m sure it still is. They just don’t appreciate the significance.

    To return to my earlier point on religious preparation, a source which I cannot recollect, made the observation that we will have Masons in Lodges when we have Masons in church pews. Whilst I don’t disagree that men may well be searching for a source of spirituality, I cannot agree that our fraternity was ever expected to be such a source or that it should be such. I urge that to do so moves us from an adjunct to a man’s faith, to supplanting his faith. I cannot accept that notion.

    Freemasonry is growing in Africa and South America. Is there a correlation between this growth and the comparative greater religious identity in those regions? The English speaking world is now largely areligious. This is where we see the decrease in Freemasonry.

    The role I understand you to propose for our fraternity is to reverse the social mores of a group that I do not sense desires a change and does not wish to adopt “ a humble, reverent, child like attitude “ in seeking membership.

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  3. Of use might be what I authored with Professor Guillermo De Los Reyes and published by McFarland, "Upstaging the Masons: The Promise Keepers and Fraternal Orders"https://books.google.com/books?id=sYc2dfSbwXMC&pg=PA29&lpg=PA29&dq=promise+keepers+paul+rich&source=bl&ots=JZ0_8qpKWO&sig=NJOisxjmx9-TpNktRYh7VGOZhjY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiguMH7hObZAhVhplkKHbU5CKAQ6AEILjAB#v=onepage&q=promise%20keepers%20paul%20rich&f=false

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  4. Great article brother. I would love to see lodges and grand lodges jump on this. We could put well our motto of "making good men better".

    DeWayne
    Washington Daylight Lodge No. 14

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  5. This is an incredible article... one of my favorite on this site so far. Thank you for writing this!

    Incidentally, Brother Robert G Davis wrote a book on this very topic titled, "Understanding Manhood In America: Freemasonry's Enduring Path to the Mature Masculine." I've read it once, but I think I need to go back and read it again. He hits on a lot of the same points as you.

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    1. That was a really good book and I need to read it again too.

      My Lodge's Esoteric Research Group is bringing RW Davis to give a presentation,
      “the Quests of the Initiate in the Rites of Freemasonry— a Journey to the Mature Masculine Soul”

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  6. Mansplaining in action here. No, things were not “solved privately between two human beings in a matter of seconds” by a Betty Davis movie slap. Women were, and are, regularly degraded and abused by men. They will continue to be with the attitude shown here. Whatever else your post may conjecture at, this is not “making good men better”.

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  7. Brother Bob is right. The effect of male fraternalism on women continues to be negative.

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  8. I believe wholeheartedly that when we as a fraternity decided that somehow doing what Greek fraternities do by aiding our members in business opportunities was somehow not part of our membership benefits we screwed up severely.

    We can't help hungry men, cold men, or thirsty men. Talk won't work & talk isn't how brotherhood works. If we want to fix this in any meaningful way we need to get back to giving our members a hand up & watch how strong new business leaders with values and fairness change this country for the better.

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  9. Freemasonry evolved and adapted in the 18th century, and accepted Freemasons who didn't work with actual stones... What about adapting again to the 21st century, and accepting atheist and women? It seems as they're going to be very relevant in the future, and maybe it's about time... Or maybe just going extinct because of failing to adapt to societal changes.

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    1. I myself cannot take this comment seriously. What lodge do you hail from?

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    2. Honestly Orlando is right, but watching my own lodge slip away, I know they will sooner keep their oath the same and let the order die off than let it become like the "Continental Freemasons". I know women too (who I have no told any secret, they look them up) who are very interested in the ritual, the various tenets of the craft. The state of freemasonry is what it is.

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  10. The decline of Men is an agenda first laid out by Herbert Marcuse, Teodor Adorno and other members of the Frankfurt School ( Institute for Social Research at the Goethe University Frankfurt). It's Cultural Marxism, Critical Theory, Repressive Tolerance. It with the book, "The Authoritarian Personality" by Adorno. The book opened the door for the decline of men's roles in the family and society by questioning the necessity of the hierarchical, authoritarian male parent-child relationship. It's Cultural Marxism 101. Chris Devins

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  11. "They come looking for the Masonic lodges of Washington and Franklin and Hancock, of Mozart and Goethe, of Thurgood Marshall and Rudyard Kipling. Of festive boards and philosophical discussions and toasting to the King, the Queen, or the President. Lodges of the world's oldest, largest and most legendary gentleman's fraternity the world has ever known. They’ve read all about it. But if what they find instead is peeling plaster, foul smelling furniture from the Coolidge Administration that should be cleaned and then burned, suspicious meat sandwiches, generic pop, and three hour business meetings about when to hold the fish fry or bitching about who's going to fix the toilet, followed by a bunch of guys stabbing each other in the back out in the parking lot, they won’t be back". Let us not forget the "good ole boy club." Plenty of younger Brothers leave when they see completely unqualified Brothers get appointed District Instructor or worse District Deputy Grand Master. We have a leadership problem, not a membership problem!

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    1. That hasn’t changed since I wrote that paragraph in 2005. There’s no shortage of blame to go around and culprits to identify. But self-loathing doesn’t fix anything. This is the fraternity we have right now. To quote Sean Connery in ‘The Untouchsbles,’ “What are you prepared to do?” Don’t know about you, but I’m fed up with wags on barstools saying “Ya know what’s wrong with Freemasonry?” Yep, I know, you know, we all know.

      So what are you doing about it right now? Somebody hands you a shovel today, so what do you do with it? Shovel coal, or bullshit? Dig a grave, or a foundation?

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  12. Something of value out of Fox News. A great article by Carson.

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  13. Excellent article! Thank you, Bro. Hodapp!

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  14. I think men are quite emotional beings, but are not articulate about their feelings and that has a lot to do with feeling the need to suppress such talk due to it being regarded as weak. Showing compassion is regarded as weakness. Even today, look at the state of the world. We will literally need to back that rabid dog into the corner and kill it if we want to get beyond the confusion and chaos of what people think is strong. We govern ourselves according to the lowest common denominator all too often and it is really starting to show.

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  15. I am sorry to have missed this when it first was published. I have been reading your blog since 2006. You have written many fine blog posts. This is the best one I have ever read.

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  16. I have read all of these comments with great interest. For years I have studied Freemasonry from both the mundane and esoteric perspectives. I have marveled at how an institution has managed to stay afloat for so long. However, to me it is not something I want to be a part of, and I'll tell you why, and I make no apologies for it. I’m not trying to troll here – but if you are looking for an honest answer as to why I and so many like me won’t join, here goes:

    1. Not admitting atheists. The decline of Masonry has roughly been parallel to the decline of churches and organized religion as well. The rise of the Internet has created an interesting phenomenon around young people researching (and ultimately leaving) religion, church, and anything that smacks of religion, because they come to understand just how bigoted and sexist and hateful these groups can be. Freemasons can scream all they want that they are *not* a religious organization - yet the very first landmark that is thrown in a potential candidate's face is that they MUST believe in a supreme being. And we all know that while some Freemasons have stretched out the definition of "supreme being" to fit their otherwise atheistic worldviews, the vast majority of lodges and members hold this "supreme being" to be Yahweh, or the Old Testament god. And that's okay - but if you are looking for reasons why members don't join or quit very soon after joining, this is a huge one. In addition, the idea of “Grand Master” and all of the other lofty but baggage-laden titles are enough to make the younger set cringe in a huge way. If religion has no place in the lodge, why does the ritual and “sacred law” look like Sunday school for grown-ups?

    2. Not admitting women. If my first point didn't get the old Freemasons ire up, this one surely will. Today's family doesn't want to be excluded. Men in the patriarchal world of the 1950's and previous times used Freemasonry as a way to escape their wife and kids while they did "manly things". Yeah, those days are soooo long gone. Young people/families want activities that are INCLUSIVE, not exclusive. The fights over this one landmark within Freemasonry are so entrenched and stubborn that it necessitated an entirely new class of Freemasonry to include women, one which still is not recognized by the Grand Lodge, if I am not mistaken. The days of declarations of this type of rule being enforced are exactly why young people do not want any part of this - it is really a sexist rule from a bygone age, and in today's society it is laid bare for all to see, understand, and ultimately reject.

    3. Attitudes of existing membership. As I researched whether I should become a Mason, I kept running into articles written by, and even in person meetings with, Freemasons that just seemed angry and bitter. Angry toward declining membership, angry toward society that has made them out to be bad or the enemy, and angry toward ANY type of changes that might actually improve the situation.

    Overall there is just too much baggage in Freemasonry that keeps today's families from participating. As fear-based religion is slowly replaced with more rational and inclusive systems of human interaction that aren't based on forced belief in some sky god, so will Freemasonry be replaced - and it is sad, because Freemasons have, in the past, been a relatively safe space for freethinkers. Maybe Freemasonry can adapt. Maybe they can become more inclusive while still maintaining an aura of an exclusive club. I highly doubt it, considering the level of vitriol leveled at anyone daring to challenge the landmarks, or even to bring up these painful truths that so many Masons will get angry and defensive about.

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    1. Interesting that you cite all three of these points as ‘problems’ holding Freemasonry back. Yet NONE of them actually have been found to be significant in the reams of research that have been done over the last three years by independent Masons and the Scottish Rite NMJ. They may very well be your personal gripes and gut feelings, but that isn’t borne out by large polling samples of Masons and non-Masons.

      You seem to want to take special delight in deriding religious faith, which is a particularly troubling snark phenomenon that has dominated the Internet in the last decade. I do not understand why self-proclaimed atheists so enjoy attempting to smear people who have religious conviction as being simpleminded idiots who bow down to our imaginary Sky God. I had thought that sort of sneering dismissal of others was outgrown after college, but obviously its gone mainstream these days.

      Of course, the creeping rise of irreligious attitudes among Americans (and indeed most Westerners) has diminished the potential membership pool. But take note of the fact that, even in the current cultural circumstances of 2018, the equally male-only fraternal organization of the Knights of Columbus, which demands not only a religious belief, but an adherence to specifically Catholic doctrine, has increased in membership steadily since 1960 - from just over 1 million at the time of the election of John F. Kennedy, up to 1,967,585 in 2018. They make all of the perceived transgressions you cite for Freemasonry - no women, faith-based, arcane and bilious-titled hierarchy - and even more. Yet they are flourishing.

      Grand Orient-style ‘Continental’ Freemasonry isn’t exactly tearing up the world with heightened membership numbers, despite their openness to admitting atheists and women. Interestingly, it is in South America where Freemasonry is currently seeing growth numbers, along with DeMolay chapters. That part of the world hasn’t been overtaken with the current wave of social antagonism to religion (especially Christianity). It seems that Masonry’s success there has more to do with retaining its exclusivity, silence, and perceived secrecy. But then, that’s my perception of that trend, not based on anything but my own drive-by observations.

      Finally, Masonic ritual is not some sort of “forced conversion” to a “hate-based religion”, and if you think it is, you’ve been hanging with the wrong crowd. Merely referencing Old Testament passages upon which the very foundational symbolism of the organization has been centered around for four centuries (which, by the way, are also referenced in atheist-welcoming Continental Masonry) does not equate to any sort of forced conversion of any kind. If an atheist can’t even withstand being subjected to Biblical references without rushing to decompress in their safe spaces, the future bodes ill for Western civilization as a whole.

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  17. Thank you for your response, and I assume for your allowing my post to be posted. In response to your post I'd like to make a few additional observations. First, your tone in your response is, in a word, the type of tone I would expect, and even mention in my original post. You can't possibly sit there on your throne (literal if you are one of the upper in your group) and call me out for deriding religion when religion (including Masons) have been deriding atheists literally for thousands of years. It may not be a statistical reason given your research, but many, many people won't even publicly admit they are non-believers, for exactly the type of reasons and accusations you make. So while you may think that Masonry's embrace of religion/God/scripture isn't the case, I assure you that it is more common than you want to believe. Also, the KoC are an offshoot of a religious organization, the Catholic church - so you can't hold them up as an example of growing membership in the context of declining religious belief, because overall the numbers are still declining in huge numbers, especially in this country. I would assume in countries where religion is bucking the trend and growing, so would other quasi-religious organizations. You still didn't address how Masonry says they are not a religion though they require a belief in a GAOTU. Sounds like faith without evidence to me, and many others. More than your organization will ever know of or want to admit. If my comments sounded "snarky" then maybe I should be more cautious in my tone if I'm trying to win a case (which I'm not). I'm just telling you what I know based on me, and others I know like me who have also declined to join. You can argue your points as much as you want, but your numbers are still going down and you really can't argue that you ARE a religious organization.

    As for Continental Masonry, I only even mentioned it because it was/is relevant to the discussion of accepting women - not to promote them or hold them as an example. But not admitting women is, and has been, a problem with Freemasonry for quite some time now, and will continue to be. Don't blame me. Blame your (outdated and yes, sexist) rules.

    Finally, I don't believe that Masonry is some pathway to a hate-based religion at all. I am sure there are lots of Masons who don't attend any church and really aren't religious other than stating they believe in a GAOTU. But it is this very admission that is the core of ALL religious belief - and is the core of belief in all things unprovable and unseen. But you simply can't expect a non-religious person who just believes in one less god than you to want to join a Fraternity that demands a belief, quotes scripture, and has rituals that are quasi-religious and have a religious morality attached to them that many non-believers would find not only uncomfortable, but unacceptable.

    My Grandfather was a Freemason and I started my journey in deciding whether to be one because of him. I cannot (literally) in "good faith" join for the reasons I have stated - and while you may ignore my post or want to argue against my thoughts or the way in which I express them, Freemasonry is the real loser here. It could be a great social organization again. But it is not. It clings to very outdated notions of sex, patriarchal power, religious belief (or judgment for lack thereof) and is strangling itself from the inside because of it in a world which has changed dramatically around those topics. Freemasonry has not aged well in the last 75 years, and it continues to lose ground. I do not wish bad things to happen to Freemasonry - but they are doing a great job of shooting themselves in the foot, and then screaming that they weren't the ones who were holding the gun and loading the bullets.

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