Masonic Education Today: It is Available If…
Learning about Freemasonry was a childhood obsession. My maternal grandfather, who was a Mason, died three months before I was born. He left two lapel pins—small gold square and compasses. My grandmother, an active Eastern Star, gave each pin to her two daughters with the admonition that the pin should go to the first male that they either married or who was their child and who became a Mason. As the oldest grandson, I grew up seeing that lapel pin on my mother’s dresser. I wanted to know what that pin meant, what it was all about. My mother would only say that one day it would be explained. My father never joined Masonry, although he supported it through my membership in DeMolay, and for my twenty-first birthday, gave me the lodge joining fees. Upon my Raising three months later, the lapel pin was placed on my suit and became my most precious Masonic possession—still to this day.
What was that pin all about? A voracious seeker of Masonic knowledge who is an associate, describes his journey into learning about Freemasonry as entering a room with several doors; as he runs to open one door, he enters another room with more doors, running to open a door he enters yet another room with more doors—a never ending adventure. That is a way of describing and explaining Masonic Education—it never ends. One’s appetite is never satisfied and seeking knowledge leads to more and more opportunities to find more and more—it really never ends. But how do Masons become educated about Masonry? First, a Mason must want to be educated, to learn, and to find answers.
Today, Freemasonry is finding membership challenges, particularly in the United States, where fifty years ago membership numbered four million and today is half that number. Shrinking or right-sizing, whatever the term, “numbers” are less in all Masonic organization, save one—research organizations! Seekers of knowledge in those types of organizations are increasing, attracting a new group of younger, hungry Freemasons. For them, attending Lodge and hearing the minutes from the last meeting, reading and approving bills, announcing those sick and ill, perhaps listening to an examination of a candidate and even more rarely conferring a degree on a candidate is not enough for the new generation of Freemasons. They want Masonry! They want Masonic education. And how do you give them that Masonry?
Books, hundreds, yea thousands, of books on Masonry are available. Many public libraries offer Masonic books, and great libraries abound within Freemasonry with priceless tomes on philosophy, history, customs, and degrees, all for seeking hungry minds—more and more, always more to read. And of course, Internet access is the greatest new tool available—type in “Freemasonry” and it is like entering a restaurant with the never endi