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


Thursday, September 08, 2016

The End of 'The Living Stones'

In June of 2011, Brother Robert Herd and a handful of brethren embarked on a truly ambitious undertaking - the publication of a major, high quality, full color magazine dedicated to the subject of Freemasonry, and filled with original articles, photography and artwork - all amazingly published on a monthly basis. Outside of perhaps a handful of state and local, largely 'grip and grin' organs, and the notable exception of the Grand Commandary's Knight Templar Magazine, there is no other such major publication in the U.S. Even the Scottish Rite Journal and the NMJ's Northern Light do not attempt such a daunting schedule. And those three have tens of thousands of members supporting them. Robert's has been a private enterprise.

Sadly, the following message has just been posted on the Living Stones magazine website today:
Closing Our Doors 
Thank you to everyone who supported us for nearly 6 years as we strived to provide the best Masonic Magazine we could.  In the end we learned a lot of great Masonic education from so many around the world. 
We are no longer offering subscriptions or purchases. As we are closing our doors, we are only creating the few remaining issues to cover our obligation to current subsribers.  
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


  1. Ritual,Secrecy, and Civil Society is a Masonic journal that appears both in print and online open access: http://www.ipsonet.org/publications/open-access/ritual-secrecy-and-civil-society

    It complements the international congresses in Paris on Freemasonry and the books arising from that effort. Westphalia Press has an extensive catalogue of Masonic titles. The emphasis in all of this is academic and marketing concentrates on university libraries, as the masonic membership is not a large supporter of scholarly publications.

  2. Are any past issues publicly available, or is the content forever lost?

  3. Take these issues published and make a book


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