Dude, Where’s my Lodge?
Ask yourself that question. The answer is simple. You know exactly where your lodge building is. You could drive there tonight if you wanted to. So, then what’s with the question?
As I get further into reading, writing and networking with my online brethren, I find myself asking this question more and more. Now, I do enjoy my friends at lodge. They are great guys. We all get along great. We all share good times in our lives and families from time to time outside of lodge, and generally, most people are happy.
But, I always come back to this question or other questions similar. “What really are we doing here?”, “Why aren’t we having philosophical discussions?”, “When will we start doing something, anything, Masonic in our meetings?” A key frustration of mine has always been lack of Masonic programs and less than fraternal discussion during meetings. It’s known that I feel this way, but I have recently come to the understanding that I am not the only one who feels this way.
In the past two years I have been fortunate enough to find an outlet for my thirst for Masonic information. The world of online networking and social media, for me, has become what my lodge is not. Again, I need to make it clear, I love my brothers at the lodge, but I can’t remember ever having a deep or enlightening discussion in lodge. I have seen some very good presentations and programs, but have come up short on the discussions of the who, where, what, why, and how that SHOULD go along with every meeting.
I don’t know about you all, but when I open facebook and see Bro. Shawn Eyer has just posted 10 new pics of the George Washington Masonic Memorial, or when John Paul Gomez releases a new necktie on Fraternal Ties, or when I see Living Stones or Working Tools Magazine post info about their latest editions I can’t help but be left fulfilled as an informed brother. It truly is an amazing world, this internet.
I consider myself fortunate because I have been able to connect with men who are delivering much of what I am looking for, just seeking light, sharing what they know, and helping others also find their niche in Freemasonry. From authors, to podcasts, to blogs, to facebook and social media, I have come to realize that the lodge experience I am missing in lodge has actually been found online. I will admit, part of that reality makes me sick, but I cannot deny the fact that it has been overwhelmingly helpful and far exceeds any form of enlightenment I have ever received sitting in my actual lodge.
So, where is my lodge? The building is in Hollidaysburg, PA, but the light I seek has come from very public sources such as Robert Johnson (Whence Came You podcast), and Juan Sepulveda (The Winding Stairs podcast.) I have had the opportunity of meeting with authors or at least communicating one on one with modern authors writing about various aspects of the Craft relevant to modern Freemasonry. These men like Charles Harper (Freemasonry in Black and White), Shawn Gorley (Freemasonry Defined), Cliff Porter (A Traditional Observance Lodge), Andrew hammer (Observing the Craft), and many more that could fill up an entire page.
These men have become my lodge in many regards. With the podcast, books, magazines, and most recently the Masonic Roundtable video discussions getting started I, and thousands of men from around the county, are able to stay informed with what is happening pretty much as it is happening. We are suddenly able to discuss all (ok, most) topics of Freemasonry at any hour of the day. Answers are immediate many times and help on any subject is a text message away.
Years ago, this is what your actual lodge did. Men of similar interest would meet in smaller, intimate groups. Good men that were prominent in their communities took part in philosophical discussions that actually improved their lives and made them care a little bit more about the security of the West gate. Since lodges today have become complacent and pretty much admit most men who petition, the exclusiveness of our lodges in not what it used to be. I am not suggesting that lodges should be full of prominent elected officials or made up entirely of lawyers and doctors and other community leaders, after all, if they were like that I most likely would have never gained admission, but we should be a little bit more selective in our admission.
Our lodges have become a place to pay bills and meet once a month, but the actual work for many of us is being done between meetings by the new generation of movers and shakers claiming their stake in this fraternity.
While talking on the phone with my good Friend and Brother Shawn Gorley (Driven by Light Blog) we were discussing the restoration of the fraternity and where it may be headed. As bleak as some aspects of our forecast were, I found myself becoming more and more optimistic as we talked about our upcoming travel and presentations we have scheduled. We talked about our friends from around the state that were having both Shawn and I, as well as other young movers and shakers come speak. I was overcome with a feeling of optimism as I thought about the lodges who were now about to become exposed to this group on men who unknowingly came about independent of each other, many hundreds of miles away from each other but were now becoming extremely useful as a group a spreading the light of Freemasonry.
Authors, podcast personalities, presenters, historians, ritualist and generally a new generation of good Freemasons coming down the pike will be exposing the newest, or perhaps some older members to the true purpose of Freemasonry for the first time.
Showing complacent lodges that any Joe Shmoe individual is capable of delivering light to others can, and should, be exactly what we, as said movers and shakers, should be doing. I am happy to see these men traveling to lodges, talking to followers, replying to messages, and building a community of younger brethren simply by doing what they do.
There is a lot of talk about Masonic restoration lately. It is an uphill battle, especially now when it seems that the establishment and many Grand Lodges are all too eager to keep changing and simplifying everything. The guys that blog, podcast, and write may be the mentors that many lodges need. We may be the first shovel of dirt on the construction site. I see it as being up to us to create interest for the complacent. If we keep doing what we are doing by staying active and staying informed I think it is likely, as outnumbered as we are, that we can build the next generation of men excited to keep the building project going.
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