The Masonic Resurgence Podcast

Ep. 0001 "Is Freemasonry Dying?"

March 12, 2019 Mark Koltko-Rivera Season 1 Episode 1
The Masonic Resurgence Podcast
Ep. 0001 "Is Freemasonry Dying?"
Show Notes Transcript

Is Freemasonry dying? Given our membership statistics in the United States and Canada, there is good reason to be concerned. In this first episode of the podcast, your host, Mark Koltko-Rivera, makes a statement on this important issue, and explains what the entire podcast is about.

Like it or not, the question, "Is Freemasonry dying?", is on the minds of many Americans today, and for a very good reason. In the United States, Freemasonry has been losing numeric strength every single year since 1959.

Quite frankly, this is somewhat crazy. The American population, and so the number of potential Masonic petitioners, has been growing every year since 1959. The United States today has over 80% more people than it had in 1959. But American Freemasonry has shrunk by about 74% since 1959.

The customary explanations--attributing these losses to the passing of the World War II Generation, and the loss of the Sixties Generation--do not hold water when subjected to statistical scrutiny. The idea that we should "embrace smallness" is a direct contradiction to the ideas of the founders of Freemasonry, who wanted to change society--a task that requires a quantity of quality Masons.

Freemasonry is in the intensive care unit. Without vigorous treatment, Freemasonry will all but disappear in the United States, within the lifetimes of the men whom we are now initiating.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

There are reasons for the Masonic membership crisis that we can do something about. I’ll be describing those reasons in detail in future episodes of this podcast.  Most important, we can take vigorous action, in different ways, and I’ll be describing those actions in detail in future episodes, as well. I believe that if we take the steps that I explain, we will not only help Masonry survive, but thrive. I believe that we can see the Fraternity grow to the greatest strength, and have the most powerful and positive effect on society, that it has ever had.

In every episode, I will look at one aspect of the Masonic Resurgence, and consider what we should do to change this situation. Sometimes that means changing what we think. Sometimes that mean changing what we do. I’ll cover both of those angles.

Although the local lodge officers, the DDGM, and the Most Worshipful Grand Master all have their roles in bringing about the Masonic Resurgence, the heavy lifting will be done by you: Joe Mason, the rank and file.

Send comments and questions to the podcast host at: [email protected] .

I release new episodes weekly on Tuesdays. My episodes usually run 12 to 20 minutes, so you can listen on the road, on the treadmill, or during lunch, without really cutting into your day. My podcast is or will soon be available on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher, and on Alexa devices through either the AnyPod or TuneIn apps.


LINKS

Masonic Service Association of North America membership statistics:

http://www.msana.com/msastats.asp 

Amazon listing for Mark Koltko-Rivera’s book, The Resurgence of Freemasonry:

https://www.amazon.com/Resurgence-Freemasonry-Masonry-Survive-Thrive/dp/0615781241/

Mark Koltko-Rivera's website where he describes activities he is conducting for the Fraternity: www.lodgeconsulting.com 

Music: “Dreamer,” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ 

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the masonic resurgence podcast. I'm your host, Mark Cultco Rivera and I'm here to talk about how to bring about the masonic research and today's episode. Number one asks the question, is freemasonry dying like it or not? This question is on many Mason's minds right now. In late January I spoke at ocean lodge number 89 in New Jersey on the subject of the vision and the mission of masonry at the lodge dinner beforehand I was signing copies of a couple of my masonic books for the brothers. One of the brothers who came by was looking over one of my books in particular titled The resurgence of Freemasonry. He repeated out loud the subtitle of the book, why Masonry must not just survive but thrive and how masons and their lodges can make that happen. Then he asked me with what sounded like sadness in his voice, can we, can we make that happen? He had good reasons to wonder about that. To be quite frank, our membership history over the last 65 years has been awful and there was no sign that this situation is going to change by itself. For over a decade. I've kept track of the membership statistics published by the Masonic Service Association of North America, which has figures dating back to 1924 their latest figures cover up through 2017 I have a link to those figures in this episodes description. The story those figures tell is downright grim. In the United States, freemasonry has been losing numeric strength every single year since 1959 and it gets worse as a proportion of the American adult male population. Masonry has been shrinking for even longer since 1954 when you think about it, this is really sort of crazy, the American population, and so the number of potential petitioners has been growing every year since 1959 the United States today has over 80% more people than it had in 1959 but American freemasonry has not grown by 80% quite the opposite in terms of sheer numbers. American freemasonry has shrunk by about 74% since 1959 now, look, I've heard it all. Oh, it's the of the greatest generation and we lost the 60s generation and a whole bunch of other things happened that we couldn't do anything about. To me, that is all so much Bosch when people don't know when they tell me this is that they're telling it to a guy who taught statistics for years and has written a book on demographics. I know the figures here and how to interpret them and they tell a very different story from the myths that we've all heard about why masonic membership has declined so much. I'll be discussing those myths in future episodes of this podcast, but for now, let me just say that we've been misleading ourselves for years about the reasons for our membership decline. Yeah, and I've heard the arguments too. It's good that freemasonry is getting smaller. It's about quality, not quantity and all that. Folderol. I'm also a student of history and I have a very different sense of what the founders of freemasonry we're trying to do than the people who say we should embrace smallness. The founders wanted free masonry to improve human society. To do that. We need a quantity of quality masons and yes, I'll be talking about the intentions of the founders of freemasonry in future episodes of this podcast as well. No, the shrinkage of freemasonry was avoidable all through the last 65 years and it is a shame today. The question now is this is the situation terminal, in other words, is free masonry actually dying? Let me tell you a story. One day my oldest daughter did not wake up. She was about 10 years old. It was the Monday after Thanksgiving and she just did not wake up. No one could wake her up either. At the hospital. They told us that she was in a coma because she had contracted spinal meningitis and it's bacterial form. This form is almost inevitably fatal without vigorous treatment, so they started treatment. It wasn't a sure thing. Bacteria can become resistant to a given treatment over time, even if she survived because meningitis involve the brain. My daughter might not have had the same abilities that she had before. I found myself sitting in the isolation room of the pediatric intensive care unit of this hospital all wrapped up in a surgical gown and mask watching my daughter barely breathe. When I stopped crying and finished praying, I still wanted to do something, anything to fix this. If I could have shrunk down to microscopic size, like freaking ant man and fuck those bacteria one on one, I would have done that even if it costs me my own life, but there was nothing I could do and anyone who knows anything about men's psychology knows that we would rather die fighting rather than not be able to help someone. We Love Free Masonry today is like my daughter was then without vigorous treatment, free masonry will all but disappear in the United States within the lifetimes of the men whom we are now initiating. I've run the projections and they are pretty ugly right now. The plot of the membership curve over the last 65 years has been like a smooth least sloping hill where we're at taking us sled ride to oblivion. If we keep doing what we've been doing, we'll keep getting the results. We've been getting there. We'll probably still be a lodge here or there for a while, but essentially it will all be over freemasonry, which I believe had a part in inventing America and it's higher ideals will become nothing more than a footnote to history with some of its artifacts showing up in out of the way museums, but it doesn't have to be that way. You see, we Freemasons today are not powerless like I was sitting by my daughter's bedside in pediatric intensive care. There are reasons for the masonic membership crisis that we can do something about. I'll be describing those reasons in detail in future episodes of this podcast. Most important, we can take vigorous action in different ways and they'll be describing those actions in detail in future episodes as well. I believe that if we take the steps that I explain, we will not only help masonry survive, but to thrive. I believe that we can see the fraternity grow to the greatest strength and have the most powerful and positive effect on society that it has ever had in March of 2019 as I say these words, the best responsible estimate is that we have barely 1 million free and accepted masons in the United States. We can and should have five. You heard me 5 million American masons and I'm not talking million guys who just walked in off the street. I mean 5 million dedicated masons who are active and vital members of their lodges. I am not kidding. I am not crazy and I'm not high either. This is doable and in future represented codes. I will explain how I arrived at that figure. This is not some number that I just plucked out of the air. If we do what we need to do, the best days of American masonry are ahead of us. That's what this podcast is all about. In every episode, a look at one aspect of the masonic resurgence and consider what we should do to change the situation. Sometimes it means changing how we think. Sometimes it means changing what we do, but I'll cover both of those. We can do this, we can do this, we can do this. I want free masonry to be here for my grandchildren's children. Thank God I have a small bus load of grandchildren and I'm awaiting the arrival of two more. Those are the twins that my oldest daughter is due to bring into the world and into the family that she has formed with her wonderful husband. Back when she was 10 the doctors treated my oldest daughter vigorously. Those doctors, medical science and the grace of God turned this fatal infection around as far as for abilities are concerned, given that she's finishing up her doctoral degree at a fine state university, I'm thinking that she's basically okay. She's more than okay. She's thriving and that's what we can do with freemasonry. Now, there's something that we need to clear up right at the beginning of our journey together, but before I do that, I'd like to share a word from our sponsor. This episode is sponsored by my book, the resurgence of free masonry. Why masonry must not just survive but thrive. And how masons and their lodges can make that happen. In this book I described the free masonry that we could build, why masonry could research, why freemasonry is in a membership crisis and especially what we can do to turn this situation around and to make freemasonry the best and strongest fraternity it has ever been. The resurgence of freemasonry by Mark Cultco Rivera available right now on Amazon in paperback and kindle. See the link in the description, but we're not done yet with this episode. As I said, there's something that I really must clear up right away. You might be thinking, what can someone like me do? I'm not the grand master, I'm not even an officer in my lodge. I'm just Joe Mason. Nobody's special. Well, let me tell you something, Joe Mason. Sure there are things a grand master can do that other Mason's can't. There are things that district deputy grand masters can do that the rank and file mason really can't take on. There's a lot that lodge officers can do as well, but the heavy lifting involved in bringing about the masonic resurgence is going to be done by guys. Just like you, Joe Mason and your brother, masons, Jack, Mike, Manuel, Moisha, Abdul, Leroy Chang, Ciasca Dev and all the rest. Masonry will stand or fall based on what the rank and file does. So you brother Joe Mason are absolutely key in pretty much every episode of this podcast. I'll be talking about what you Joe Mason can do to help advance the masonic resurgents. Yes, I'll have suggestions for the lodges worshipful master the district deputy and even for the most worshipful grandmaster, but it will always come down to you brother. I'm depending on you. The whole fraternity depends on you. One other thing, yes, I'm an American Free Mason and I speak on this podcast with American masons in mind, but from the figures I'm seeing, our brothers in Canada have a lot of the same problems we do. And I have been personally contacted by brethren in Australia saying that they faced the same challenges. So my guess is that what I say here will be applicable to masons in several nations. Feel free to spread this podcast around. Perhaps you have questions or comments about this episode. Maybe you have topics you want to hear me talk about. Maybe you just hate what I say. I'd love to hear it all. Send an email to masonic [email protected] I look forward to seeing what you have to tell me. If you like this kind of content, do subscribe, like and share. I hope to have a couple of episodes already up when I launched this podcast, so do look to see what else I have online. Even now, episode two raises the question, why should we save freemasonry? Episode three describes the freemasonry we should be building. Thanks for tuning in. You can check out some other things I'm doing for the fraternity on my website, www.lodgeconsulting.com I release new episodes weekly on Tuesday. My episodes usually run 12 to 20 minutes so you can listen on the road, on the treadmill during lunch without really cutting into your day. My podcast is or will soon be available on iTunes, Google play, Spotify, and Stitcher, and on Alexa devices through either the any pod or tuning apps. That wraps it up for this episode of the Masonic Resurgence podcast travel. Well, my brothers remember together we can do this.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.