by Jason Eddy
One question that is not new to Masonic discussion is “What is wrong with our Lodges, and how can we fix it?” I have recently been involved in a few of these discussions and wanted to share some of what I have heard from others.
The majority of Brothers, when asked what is wrong with the Fraternity, seem to immediately bring up the decline in membership. Fortunately, many are now coming to share my own belief which is that Quality is much more important than Quantity. They believe that if we improve the Lodge experience for those already within the Craft that the effect will be noticed by the Profane and they will then seek to understand what we are all about.
Others, however, claim that there is nothing wrong with our Lodges. That our Lodges are perfectly fine and that we should keep doing what we are doing and all will work itself out. It is to this idea that I wish to offer thoughts.
I must first ask the question “Why would any Brother make such a claim?” Perhaps they are seeking to keep Harmony within the Lodge and feel that any comments concerning flaws in how Masonry is currently being practiced might upset that balance. Perhaps they are concerned that any negative comments might be attributed to the influence that they have had in their time within the Craft. Or perhaps they truly do believe that there is absolutely nothing wrong with our Lodges. In my opinion, all of these reasons are inherently flawed.
I digress. The rough ashlar, and its symbolism, is presented to the Mason very early on in his Masonic journey. In the state of Ohio, it is presented in the Entered Apprentice Degree. We are taught that we are all rough ashlars, and that we must use the working tools provided to us to effectively remove all of our rough edges so that we might become a perfect ashlar. I am not personally one who believes that we will ever actually achieve perfection, or the symbolic state of becoming a perfect ashlar. As such, I find it to be utterly flawed that a Society of men, whose purpose in grounded in self improvement, should ever claim that “there is absolutely nothing wrong”. Do we truly believe that we have reached perfection?
Beyond the principled disagreement with the statement, I find it to be inherently dangerous to share such an idea or claim with men who are seeking guidance. Essentially, many Brothers who are seeking guidance on how to improve themselves in Masonry may perceive that they are being told that no improvement is needed. The damaging effects of such statements are potentially immeasurable.
I share this for one simple reason, my Brothers. We all have a voice, and those who choose to use that voice can and will most likely be heard. Recognize that words have power. Words have meaning. Use Prudence in choosing what you say and where you say it. Many may hear such a claim and confirm their own flawed belief that we have already achieved perfection. Many others may hear such a claim and be discouraged in their efforts to improve our Lodge Experience due to a lack of support from their Brethren. Be willing to recognize both your own personal imperfections and those of the Lodges seeking to practice our Gentle Craft. Do not attempt to convince yourself, and certainly do not attempt to convince others that all is well. There is still work to be done.
There are designs upon the Trestle Board. Ensure that you are not calling the Craft from Labor to Refreshment prior to the completion of the Temple.