Every month for almost a full century now, the Masonic Service Association of North America has published The Short Talk Bulletin, an informative, chatty discussion of some aspect of Freemasonry, be it ritual, symbols, allegories, history, individuals, lodge operation or practical applications, culture, and more. Over the years they were written by some of the wisest noggins in the Craft.
The STB is sent every month to all lodges of the constituent Grand Lodges that comprise the MSA, and are intended to be read in every single lodge. When your Secretary holds it up every month, waves it in the air, and blandly mutters, "The Short Talk Bulletin is up here on my desk if anybody wants to look at it," don't just sit there. Somebody go up and read it aloud, because that's what it's there for. It's a ready-made little hunk of Masonic education for YOUR lodge that takes no effort to impart to your members besides about 10 minutes of reading out loud.
The MSA has answered the call. Since March, they have presenting a past Short Talk Bulletin in an audible version as a podcast or downloadable audio file twice every week. It can also be found on iTunes. So far, each has been read by Brother Michael A. Smith from Maine, who is also an audio book producer in real life when he isn't playing with Masons. The Bulletins are currently being released at the rate of twice a week, so there's a substantial list already. And there are quite literally hundreds more already written where they came from. The bi-weekly podcasts are made possible by a grant from the Grand Lodge of Maine A. F. & A. M.
Aw, who am I kidding?
Few of you will actually do that. "Who reads brochures anyway?" goes the churlish Mason now. "Modern Men (insert registered trademark symbol here) are too impatient to sit here and listen to somebody talk for ten minutes." Possibly true, I suppose. But then those same men will walk to the parking lot, get in their cars, and on the drive home they'll listen to their favorite podcast of someone blathering away for 10, 15, 30, 60 and more minutes. Some will even sit parked in the garage when they get home just to listen to the end.
|Michael A. Smith|
This week I had the honor of narrating a relatively recent STB about the Grand Lodge of Nebraska's important decision this year to again raise their Masonic proficiency standards, bucking the national stampede to make Masonry simpler and painless for "Modern Man®" (whoever that is). Nebraska figured out that by reducing proficiency standards for new members many years ago, dumping memorization overboard, essentially making personal mentors obsolete, and creating a culture of dread for ritual, they have done more harm to the fraternity in their state than good.
I didn't write this STB, but I absolutely agree with its message and Nebraska's bold move to stand athwart conventional grand lodge wisdom and holler "HALT!"
If you didn't read this STB when it came out in the spring, click the link below, sit back for a few minutes, and listen to the dulcet tones of a Dummy soothe you into absently drifting into the next lane. Do it when you leave the lodge and you shouldn't even have to sit in the garage to hear the end.
By the way, the MSA has also collected all of the STBs created between 1923 and 2017 into a series of six freshly typeset, edited, indexed, hardbound volumes that you can use for research, or just as intended from the start as education pieces. Each volume is a goldmine, and you can literally walk into your lodge, open it to any page and start reading it aloud.
Who says basic Masonic Education has to be more complicated than that?