ISSUE 22, July 2007
Editorial
Quarterly Communication: Speech of the Grand Master : Address of the Pro Grand Master : Report of the Board of General Purposes
Historic: Architect to a King
Young Masons: Value of a warm welcome
Faith and Freemasonry: The twin supports
Supreme Grand Chapter: Speech of the Pro 1st Grand Principal and Report of the Committee of General Purposes
The Grand Secretary: Notes
   Travel: In the footsteps of the pharaohs
Inventor: Voice of the people
Human Rights Court Judgement: Landmark victory for Masons
International Conference: Masonic history unveiled
The Grand Chancellor: Special overseas role
Specialist Lodge: Prior Rahere and his legacy
Public Service: Serving the famous
Education: Events : Importance of the cable tow
Lbrary & Museum: Fraternal art
Masonic Charities: RMTGB : Grand Charity : RMBI : NMSF
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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Changing social values
I am relatively new to Freemasonry, and focussing on what attracts us to Masonry, we are all aware of the strong perception throughout the Craft that, anecdotally and statistically, there is something amiss.
    This is directly linked to the decline in membership and numbers of Lodges. I feel this perception is misplaced, but believe that there is a correlation between membership levels, the current social landscape and national demography.
    In the social context, the ‘nucleic family’ and marriage are in decline, there has been a significant increase in the number of people living by themselves, divorce rates are high and the ‘average family’ has only 1.7 children.
    Similarly, we have moved a long way from the rigid class system of Victorian and Edwardian times, and the population is becoming older as a result of increased longevity.
    Nobody has definitive answers to the declining numbers, and we must ascertain the reasons before we attempt to fix that which is not necessarily broken.
    There should be a survey of members on their views concerning Freemasonry today, and commissioning of a number of focus groups to ascertain perceptions of Freemasonry from those without Masonic connections.
    Maybe the problem lies outside Freemasonry. Often I have heard the mantra ‘What’s in it for me?’ from my contemporaries – and younger when discretely asked about joining.
    The decline in membership could be a reflection of society today, both in terms of the ‘pace of life’ and the substantial changes in morals, ethics and social fabric.
    This should give us all the more reason to seriously consider any changes to our ritual or structure.
    Kenneth Dry
    Eastbourne, East Sussex


A sense of belonging
I found the article entitled Young Masons (MQ, Issue 21), very refreshing, I am new to Masonry, and at 37, also consider myself to be young.
    It is commendable that senior members are debating what could be done to keep younger brethren interested. I find attending Lodge is a wonderful sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and sincerely believe that a big part of this is achieved through the traditional values and protocol.
    For me, one of the main attractions to Masonry is the feeling of participating in, and understanding rituals, and pushing myself to get involved in activities that I would not be involved in without Freemasonry.
    I enjoy the sense of belonging to a fraternity with such a magnificent history.
    I am enjoying reading about our history and believe we should keep Masonry unique and not change the way things have been done in order to attract (or keep) candidates.
    I could never have guessed that a fraternity such as Freemasonry could have given me so much enjoyment. The formality and protocol we maintain in our Lodge is a big part of what keeps me interested and provides me with a place to go each month like no other.
    Lee Poole
    Great Grimsby


Retain the ritual
I joined my Lodge in January 2005, and at 43 I am one of its youngest members, and looking forward to becoming Junior Deacon. One of the main reasons I joined Masonry was for its tradition and history.
    I was fortunate to have a father-in-law who introduced me and gave me a flavour of what it was all about. Whilst we need to recruit new brethren, prospective candidates do not know what the ritual consists of, so how will changing it assist recruitment?
    The ritual does take time to learn, but I have also been given pieces to perform, including the working tools, but in Masonry as in life, you only get out what you put in.
    While the festive board may be in need of review, I would implore all Masons to retain the ritual in its current form. It served our predecessors well, and will do so in the future.
    Andy Gibson
    Buckley, Flintshire, Wales


Long live tradition
In March this year I was presented with my Grand Lodge Certificate. Like Craig Adkins, I too have read many views on recruiting younger brethren into our ranks.
    My view is also traditional – namely, I would not wish to see Freemasonry become more open, nor would I like to see our ritual diluted. Those who advocate altering our dress code and changing the structure of the festive board etc., are missing the point.
    Surely, these are the very same reasons that make belonging to our fraternity a different experience, totally unlike any other ‘club’ and without comparison?
    The mystery surrounding our Craft and our peculiar traditions are at the very heart of my interest in it. Work within the temple continues to fascinate me, and I particularly enjoy contemplating our ritual.
    Intrigue was at the centre of my motivation to join and that membership was not open to just anyone. Paradoxically, had I been notified in advance that my membership would involve recital of ‘strange text’ and from time-to-time the occasional after-dinner speech, I think I would have politely declined!
    Our continued success will rest on attracting the right kind of candidate, just as it has always done, rather than simply modernising to suit this particular moment in history!
    Keith Bowles
    Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire


Bro. Craig Adkins raises an interesting point in his article in Issue 21, 2007. In New Zealand we too have begun to see an influx of younger men joining the Craft and many of us wondered how we would need to adapt to meet their needs.
    Anecdotally I soon learned that many of our young members were looking for the same things that Bro. Adkins enjoys. This doesn’t mean however that the Craft in any Constitution should stop listening and responding to the needs of its members, but it does suggest that there is a change in western society, in both hemispheres, that is making the values of Freemasonry appreciated.
    Jeff Allan
    Secretary, Lodge Tironui No. 400, New Zealand


Identifying true virtue
The article from Craig Adkins (MQ, Issue No. 21) ought to provide much food for thought, espousing the very virtues of Freemasonry which many, far older, seek to decry.
    At present, it seems common to mock established customs and do everything to destroy them: indeed, we live in an age of rapid change – not necessarily for the better.
    Both Great Britain and the Craft enjoy a heritage – much of it common – dating back many hundreds of years. It is time we revelled in this, rather than endeavouring to change it!
    Dress codes, so-called archaic Lodge practices, and now music. Yes, of course it is possible to use recorded sound rather than employ – and much enjoy – a live organist. But, as custodians to this rich heritage, are we honestly exercising our responsibilities correctly, and what image are we projecting to putative candidates?
    Bro. Adkins espouses the crucial reality of difference: despite his relative youth, he very much enjoys being a member of, and a participant in, something apart from the mainstream. What a wonderful virtue to be proud of and preserve at all cost!
    Far too many institutions have sought to foster greater popularity and apparent empathy with the majority, and have effectively destroyed themselves in the process as they lost the very things which set them apart.
    Let us ensure that, as the current guardians of the past, we clearly identify what has true virtue and what has not!
    Michael Feltham
    michael.feltham@homecall.co.uk


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