Friday, March 25, 2016

Are We the Last Generation of American Freemasons?

Is this the future of American Freemasonry?

The current issue (March 23, 2015) of the Masonic Edition of my newsletter, Markings, contains a single major essay, perhaps the most important of my Masonic career to date: “Are We the Last Generation of Freemasons?” The essay is too comprehensive for a blog post, but I thought I would post highlights here:
  • The decline of American Freemasonry dates to 1954, over a decade before the anti-establishment movements of the later 1960s gained the attention of young Americans.
  • Currently, the force driving the membership crisis is not so much the death of members, but the rise in voluntary attrition: demits and NPDs. But what is driving that?
  • The answer is simple, if chilling: In many lodges, Freemasonry just does not deliver what it promises. (Details are available in the essay.)
  • If current trends continue, by the time the Entered Apprentices we initiate in 2016 have passed on, the Fraternity will have shrunk almost 90% from current levels. As the Grand Orator in Florida declared in 2007: “We are one generation away from extinction.”
  •  I give extensive suggestions for how we might turn this situation around.
  •  I end with links to five online resources for recommended reading.
Quite frankly, in putting this essay together, I felt like I was on a mission. I also felt like I was putting together an outline for a book—but that could take months to get to, given my current list of projects. We really can’t wait that long to make more progress in turning this around. So, I urge you to read this essay, ponder it, and decide what part of it you would like to discuss for implementation in your lodge.

Freemasonry is too valuable to vanish from the American landscape. Let us nurture it, and build it.

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 [The image the broken column—a traditional symbol in Freemasonry, signifying the death of a Freemason—was obtained from a page of print-quality images on the website of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon. This image is in the public domain.]

(Copyright 2016 Mark E. Koltko-Rivera. All Rights Reserved.)