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


Saturday, April 04, 2020

SRRS Posts 'Future of Freemasonry' Issue of Plumbline Online - Read It Now

by Christopher Hodapp

About a month ago I called attention to the Winter issue of the Scottish Rite Research Society publication, The Plumbline and the feature article by Angel Millar, The Future of Freemasonry and What We Have To Offer.  At the time, I said it was important enough that every Masonic leader today needs to get hold of a copy and read it - Worshipful Masters, Wardens, and absolutely every grand lodge officer of any jurisdiction.

It really is that important.

The SRRS normally doesn't post their publications for free online, but they've just done so with this particular issue. It is available in its entirety at the link below:

The nationwide COVID pandemic shutdown makes this the perfect time to read this issue and ponder on the issues it discusses. In six pages, Brother Millar encapsulates a whole raft of topics and articles I've been posting about for three years now concerning the current social, economic and emotional issues facing men in American (and Western) society, and the generational changes over the last decades that are all having a transformative effect on our fraternity. 

We don't exist in a vacuum, and what happens in the world around us has good and bad transformational effects on our lodges and the men in them. The longstanding bonds that passed the traditions of Freemasonry from one generation to the next have almost all been shattered in the last 50 years. Diminishing male role models, single mother households, fewer (if any) siblings, the decline of religious worship and its related group activities, and the rise of the nebulous "I'm spiritual, not religious" mindset are all having measurable repercussions for us. Angel covers a lot of ground in this essay, and especially cites recent, vital survey results by Jon Ruark about attitudes of our members.

For two decades I've been weary with Masons who only want to proclaim, "Ya know what's WRONG with this fraternity...?" Those types of articles and speeches have little more value than the average barstool philosopher. That's not what this is. Angel is not trying to do an autopsy on a dead organization. The rest of the article discusses the new wave of bottom-up changes being made in local lodges that are reinvigorating — and redefining — Masonic education, and driving the evolution of the fraternity at the grassroots level. He spends time especially discussing the MasonicCon concept pioneered by Ezekiel Bates Lodge in Attleboro, Massachusetts, and notes its growing numbers of imitators. He also discusses a New York program, 'Brothers For Brothers,' that teaches the basic life skills to new generations who haven't otherwise had the opportunity to learn them before: communication, public speaking, personal grooming and sartorial care, professional development — all are confidence-building skills that used to be passed from father to son, but rarely are anymore.

Freemasonry started out as a fraternity of gentleman with the aim of educating and improving a growing class of rough and rugged middle-class men - making those good men into better ones by example and education. We have that very same mission today, and society needs us just as much as it did in London in 1717, or western Kentucky in 1800, or California in 1849.

Most of us have just been given a long period of time away from our day to day grind at this bizarre moment in time. Don't waste it. Use it to study the past, contemplate the present, and plan for the future. Our fraternity needs all of us going forward, and we can't waste our efforts just doing the same things we've been doing that have been shrinking our membership rolls and our roles within our communities for decades. It's long past time to act for positive and constructive programs and changes. And this issue of the Plumbline is a good starting place.

Thanks to everyone at the SRRS for making this happen. 

If you're not a member of the Scottish Rite Research Societythe Plumbline is their excellent quarterly publication of papers and articles, edited by Adam Kendall. This is in addition to the annual collection of Heredom, AND their annual bonus book or publication. It's truly the greatest value in the entire Masonic research world.

Additional reading from this site on these topics:

Robert Putnam's seminal study of the decline in social capital since the 1950s that is cited in countless articles, Bowling Alone, was released twenty years ago, yet it seems that frustrated Masonic leaders just keep freshly discovering it year after year. 

Putnam is releasing a new, updated edition of the book in June of this year: Bowling Alone: Revised and Updated: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. 

It is available for pre-order now.

Two good starting references for recent examinations of the post-Bowling Alone era breakdown in social capital and the current results on U.S. society are Charles Murray's Coming Apart, and Timothy Carney's Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse. There are many more, but these are good beginnings.

And every Masonic leader needs to be conversant with the General Social Survey, taken since 1972, which is the baseline study for almost anyone with an interest in studying the attitudes and activities of Americans.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments will not appear immediately, so be patient. I am forced to laboriously screen every post because I am constantly bombarded with spam. Anonymous postings on Masonic topics have the same status as cowans and eavesdroppers as far as I am concerned. If you post with an unknown or anonymous account, do not expect to see your comment appear.