Monday, March 26, 2007

"If you build it..."
The other day I was perusing a well-known local flea market, when my wife pointed out an interesting piece of artwork, which depicted a Masonic theme. Part of this painting included a set of hands, and I asked my wife "Did you notice what color those hands were?" They were, of course, black, and I observed that I had seen several pieces of Masonic artwork that day of a similar racial composition. A discussion ensued on the state of American Freemasonry, of which my wife concluded "Prince Hall is going to save Masonry." Now, those of you who have read my previous posts know how I feel about our Prince Hall brethren. I, however, did not agree entirely with my wife on this point.
It seems to me, that just about everyone seems to be getting "it" right except American "mainstream" Grand Lodges. For example, in Europe, our Craft is thriving. I read here that in France, for example, despite a much more difficult process, Lodges have waiting lists for new candidates. They are not having to resort to "one day classes" in order to bolster their numbers. The men are flocking to them, and not just your average joe, but quality men.. As I have mentioned before, I notice a similar enthusiasm for our Craft among Brothers of the Prince Hall persuasion. This is, of course, all anecdotal, as I have never actually attended a Prince Hall Lodge, but it seems that Freemasonry is thriving and growing in this sector of the Masonic community.
The question then becomes, what are "they" doing that we are not? In my opinion, the answer is simple. They are making membership in our Fraternity worthwhile, and placing value on it. In America, we have a tendency to want to make things easier. To this end, we have eliminated long form proficiencies, shortened degrees, and relaxed entry requirements. As a result, we make becoming a Mason too easy, and when something is too easy, it is not valued or taken seriously. This is the root of the problem that American Masonry is facing.
I am reminded of a line from the movie "Field of Dreams"- "If you build it, they will come." We, as American Masons, need to take a page from our European and Prince Hall brethren and "build it." We need to make membership in our Craft worthwhile. Only then will we be able to reverse the decline that we are seeing, and bring a fresh vibrancy to our Fraternity which is desperately needed.

(I will outline some of my suggestions for improving American Freemasonry in a future post)


Blogger Seeker of Light said...

Great article my brother. One question though... did you pick up any of the art? I always look for anything at the flea markets here! All Ive found are some OLD books from the 30s.

4:49 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

I thnk this is a very good article. I was lucky enough to attend a ceremony in Missouri a couple weeks ago were the Prince Hall Grand Lodge officers were present, including the PH GM. I must admit that these gentlemen were outstanding and impressive. Their ritual was put on with the utmost respect, precision, and attention to detail. I was very impressed with the men and their work.

6:51 AM  
Blogger Prexy said...

Unfortunately, I did not pick up any of the art. Although I was intrigued by it, it wasn't quite my style. Still on the lookout though, as you never know where you are going to find that one gem...

1:32 PM  

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