The Masonic Resurgence Podcast

Ep. 0003 "The Freemasonry We Should Build"

March 14, 2019 Mark Koltko-Rivera Season 1 Episode 3
The Masonic Resurgence Podcast
Ep. 0003 "The Freemasonry We Should Build"
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, I describe the kind of Freemasonry that we should be building. It is important to do this, because in practice there are several different styles of Freemasonry practiced in any given Grand Lodge in the U.S.:

  • "The Businessmen": During a lodge meeting, they primarily focus on a business meeting.
  • "Fish-Fry Freemasonry" and its upscale variant, "The Fellowship of the Onion Rings": primarily focused on fellowship activities.
  • "The Cult of Ceremony": Precise, word-perfect ritual--but no explanation of how the symbolism or philosophical concepts in the ritual apply to daily life.
  • "The Charitable Chaps"
  • "The Esoteric Oasis"

It's great for lodges to have different personalities. But this becomes a problem when the heart and soul of Freemasonry--personal transformation-- gets lost in the shuffle.
 
 We want to build a Freemasonry that is more devoted to our historic identity and mission. A big part of that identity and mission involves Masonry being an initiatic society that seeks to help men transform themselves into, not just better men, but really better men, much better men, some of the best men that the world has ever seen.
 
The Freemasonry we should build must have its focus firmly on the traditional concerns of the Fraternity: spiritual, moral, and intellectual growth and development, as well as fellowship.

  • By spiritual development, I mean the lodge focuses on deepening a Mason’s relationship with the Supreme Being, and developing his sense of personal mission as a man in service to humanity.
  • By moral development, I mean the Craft helps build in each Mason a stronger commitment to Masonic values. And what values are those?  Things like religious and political toleration; treating men as equals, regardless of social class, race, or ethnic background; being a true gentleman inside and out; practicing brotherly love, relief, and truth-telling; practicing the four cardinal virtues and the three theological virtues—all in a man’s personal, business, and public affairs.
  • By intellectual growth, I mean that the Masonic lodge implants within each Mason a focus on lifelong learning; an appetite to explore Nature and the universe, both the outer world and the inner world. Intellectual growth also includes a greater commitment to applying reason and rationality to the situations that one encounters in life and society.
  • By fellowship, I mean that the lodge creates opportunities to form real friendships rather than just superficial acquaintance. 

This would not be a Freemasonry of empty ritualism or superficial back-slapping. It would not be a charity or service club, overlaid with ritual. It would be a true initiatic society, a group of men devoted to changing themselves. Such a Freemasonry would inevitably change the men who are members of it, and through them it would change the society in which they live.

LINKS

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

https://bit.ly/ResurgenceOfFreemasonry 


Amazon page for Mark Koltko-Rivera’s book, Freemasonry: An Introduction

https://bit.ly/freemasonryanintro 

 

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 Miss Sonic resurgence. Today's episode number three is titled The freemasonry we should be building in episode one I took the position that yes, the fraternity is in serious decline, but we can turn this around and make the fraternity stronger and more effective than it has ever been in episode two. I pointed out that freemasonry is more relevant to men today than it has ever been in this episode. I'm pulling back for a wider camera angle. I want to describe the fraternity that we should be building because you see there's more than one kind of freemasonry. Yes, I know. We may like to think that there's only one style of legitimate freemasonry and that the Roy's is has been only one style from now all the way back to 1717 or 1307 or the building of the Pyramids or whatever you choose to believe about when this all started, but the thing is in practice that isn't true. The fact is within any given grand lodge of free and accepted masons in the United States, there are lodges that essentially practice different styles of masonry. Oh, sure. They all open and closed their meetings more or less the same, but the atmosphere of these lodges is very different from one to another. Let's talk about some of the different types of lodges. The first type is what I call the businessmen. That's not because the brothers run their own businesses or work for corporations. I call this type of lodge the businessmen because all they focus on is lodge business. They pay the phone bill, they make assignments for large dinners. They hear committee reports and that's about it. The typical launch meeting is a business meeting, perhaps with a light sprinkling of disorganized masonic education to add some variety and infotainment. Does the phone bill need to be paid? Of course it does, but the business part of running a lodge shouldn't take over the lodge meetings. Freemasonry is supposed to be about transformation and trust me, there's nothing transformative about deciding to switch phone carriers. The second kind of lodge is what I call fish fry freemasonry. This is all focused on and recreational activities. They have fish fries, barbecues, Weenie roasts, pancake breakfasts and spaghetti suppers. They make a bullying or skeet shooting or hold family picnics, and that is the life of the lodge. A subspecies of this is the fellowship of the onion rings. It's basically a higher end version of fish fry, free masonry, better food with a more formal dress code, but basically still focused on fellowshipping pretty much to the exclusion of anything else. Now, is there anything wrong with fellowshipping? Of course not. You may remember that I pointed out in episode two that the forming of a fellowship has been important to the culture of masculinity since the dawn of time, but fellowshiping is only a piece of what freemasonry is about. Ultimately, a fellowship needs a purpose that goes beyond the fellowship itself. The third kind of lodge is what I call the cult of ceremony. These brothers take the ritual beyond the status of art form there, right angle turns are precisely 90 degrees. Their ritual is absolutely WordPerfect. Each and every time their degree lectures implement the art of memory to a degree, not seen since the renaissance. If they had an argument with the 10 commandments, it would be that there simply aren't enough of them. It's great. It's an inspiration. But try asking them how to apply that symbolism to everyday life. Ask them how to apply the principles of masonic ritual or philosophy to the world of home, family, marriage, work the community. See how that works for you. Don't we want our ritual to be precise? Don't we want it to be impressive? Of course we do, but we need to keep in mind these central even foundational principles. First of all, ritual is a means to an end. It must never be an end in itself. Second, every symbol points to something beyond itself. And if we don't understand what that symbol points to the symbol itself is as good as worthless. Third, and finally, any philosophical principle that we don't learn to apply to either understand the universe better, understand ourselves better or be better people in this multifaceted experience called life. Any principal that does not do these things is basically of no use at all. I could go farther. I could talk about the charitable chaps who are always soliciting or fundraising for their charities, but when it comes to explaining the theological virtue of charity, there is something of a loss. I could talk about the brethren of the Esoteric Oasis who can tell you how every symbol in each degree ceremony relates to Kabbalah, Alchemy, the Egyptian book of the dead, South American shamanism, the African wisdom literature and Tibetan Dream Yoga, but I can't relate any of that to how we should live our lives in the here and now. I think you see where I'm going with this. Sometimes a lodge latches on to one or another aspect of masonry and focuses on that to the exclusion of everything else. What happens more often is that a lodge cobbles together a form of masonry from several different aspects, but it leaves out the heart and soul of freemasonry, which is personal transformation, personal transformation that can even lead to the transformation of society. Please don't misunderstand me. I think it's great for a lodge to establish a particular identity for itself. It's great for a lodge to make a conscious decision to put a special emphasis on fellowship or charity or the Esoteric or service to the community or to specially emphasize a couple of different facets of our fraternity. But while we do this, we need to put the central purposes of freemasonry at the heart of what we do as a launch. Now I want to focus on the freemasonry we should build, 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 freemasonry. Why Masonry must not just survive, but thrive and how masons and their lodges can make that happen. In this book I described the freemasonry that we could build, why masonry could research, why free masonry is an 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, I want to focus on the freemasonry we should build as we bring about the masonic resurgence, we want to build a free masonry that is more devoted to our historic identity and mission. A big part of that identity and mission involves masonry being an initiatic society that seeks to help men transform themselves into not just better men, but really better men, much better men, some of the best men that the world has ever seen. In my first book on freemasonry titled Freemasonry and introduction link in the description, I wrote this to define masonry or quote. Freemasonry is a fraternity that uses ceremonies of initiation to teach symbolic lessons about philosophy, morality, and character. It is a social fellowship, a place for ritual and symbolism, and a vehicle to assist in spiritual growth unquote. This is a straightforward compact definition, but this definition comes with some serious consequences if a masonic meeting is not focused on these purposes. If it's not primarily about teaching lessons about philosophy, morality and character building, fellowship or otherwise assisting in personal and spiritual growth, then it has no real masonic purpose at all. Beyond that, if a lodge does not touch on all these things pretty regularly, it is only part of what a masonic lodge should be. Yes. In the freemasonry we should be building, there'll be fellowship. All right. We'll celebrate. Our fraternal ties with the table lodge and the festive board may be more than at any time since the early 19th century, but this Shelby, no fish fry freemasonry, no fellowship of the onion rings. The freemasonry we should build must have its focus firmly on the traditional concerns of the fraternity, spiritual, moral and intellectual growth and development as well as fellowship. Let me tell you what I mean by each of these. By spiritual development. I mean the launch focuses on deepening a Mason's relationship with the supreme being and developing his sense of personal mission as a man in service to humanity. By moral development, I mean the craft helps build in each mason a stronger commitment to masonic values and what values are those things like religious and political toleration, treating demand as equals regardless of social class, race or ethnic background. Being a true gentleman inside and practicing brotherly love relief and telling the truth, practicing the four cardinal virtues and the three theological virtues all in a man's personal business and public affairs. By intellectual growth, I mean that the masonic lodge implants within each mason of focus on lifelong learning and appetite to explore nature and the universe, both the outer world and the inner world. Intellectual growth also includes a greater commitment to apply and reason and rationality to the situations that one encounters in life and society. By fellowship, I mean that the lodge creates opportunities to form real friendships rather than just superficial acquaintance. This would not be a free mason reign of empty ritualism or superficial backslapping. It would not be a charity or service club overlaid with ritual. It would be a true initiatic society, a group of men devoted to changing themselves and supporting one another. Such a freemasonry would inevitably change the men who are members of it and through them it would change the societies in which they live. One last thing. There's an important question that I have to answer here. Let me ask it in the distinctive dialect and Patois of my home village, Greenwich village and the streets of the lower east side of Manhattan as we would have put it back in the day. Who's going to do this? In other words, who's going to build this kind of freemasonry on a launch biologic basis? This is the responsibility of every individual member of the lodge. Yes. The worshipful master can set the tone for the Le Grand Lodge. The district deputies can reinforce that tone, but it is really the lodge officers and especially the individual members. I'm looking at you, Joe Mason, who will make this happen or not. That is the freemasonry that we should be building and how we should build it. Perhaps you have questions or comments about this episode. Maybe you have topics that 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, you know, brothers, if you want to solve a problem, you have to know the real causes of the problem. In my next episode number four, I will discuss the five real causes of the masonic membership crisis. Spoiler alert, it has nothing to do with the passing of the World War II generation or losing the sixties generation. 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 Tuesdays. My episodes usually run about 16 minutes or so so you can listen on the road, on the treadmill or during lunch without really cutting into your day. My podcast has been submitted to be listed on iTunes, Google play, Spotify, and Stitcher, and is available on Alexa devices very soon through either the any pod or tune in apps. That wraps it up for this episode of the Masonic Resurgens podcast travel. Well, my brothers remember together we can do this.

Speaker 2:

Okay.