“…a sad parody… a poor
do not need to know why the Editor has kindly set this problematic for
consideration. Perhaps it was from a joy bubbling-over after a fulfilling
Masonic meeting; perhaps, it emanated from some measure of Masonic
a doubt, the term “contemporary Freemasonry” provides a dilemma:
perhaps a dichotomy; even a full-bodied dialectic. That is to say, there
cannot be a difference between “Freemasonry” and “contemporary Freemasonry”?
Surely it must be accepted that Freemasonry is a social phenomenon arising from
a cultural milieu. It represents the hopes and aspirations of its generation to
pursue its vision for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Therefore, the
only Freemasonry that can be real is “contemporary Freemasonry”; that is to
say, if the contemporary practice of Freemasonry is not in accord with the
spirit of the age then it is but a sad parody of Freemasonry - a poor pastiche.
“…Freemasonry is for the morally
is best about contemporary Freemasonry is three-fold. Firstly that it is
ontological – it is! Secondly, it has the epistemology to build the buildings
that are fit for today’s purposes - it has the knowledge. And thirdly ,
eschatology – it gives us hope to build for the future.
exists – Rejoice! Its potential, possibilities and promise are there residing,
in some form, in each mason. Perhaps it is but embryonic – perhaps encumbered
with much ado about nothing – perhaps awaiting an energisation through
inspiration. However, whilst there
is (life) there is hope. It has to be accepted that Freemasonry is for the
morally upwardly mobile; those whose existence is important because through
daily Masonic advancement are as beacons of enlightenment, illuminating the
building of a world order of material sufficiency. This is one where food,
clothing and shelter are distributed with equity, in harmony with the natural
world, recognising that we and the planet are one in sharing sustainable
coexistence. It is time for
Freemasons to wake up, the eleventh hour alarm is sounding. It is time to
realise that we are not merely creatures of habit whose progress consists in
learning ritual by rote. Freemasons are not stimulus and response mechanisms
existing as but ritualistic automatons. Rather; we live, move, breath and have
our being as individuals, in harmony with others, for the benefit of all.
Masonic lecture must be something that regenerates a wasteland…”
course, we are not advocating zeal without knowledge. Freemasonry is a
celebration of the education ethic - centuries before lifelong learning became,
fashionable and recognised as a serious human need. And, it is here that we must
perhaps pause and ponder. It may well be the case that the most serious failure
of Freemasonry, for far longer than is decent, has been the wanton neglect of
providing meaningful education for members. Over the last decades, Masonic
lectures have degenerated into, the unknowing - reading the not-understood - to
the unfulfilled. Our members deserve, and are entitled to, better. Owing to this,
the “Masonic lecture” has become a term of derision, something wheeled out
at last resort and about which there are no positive expectations or outcomes.
reason for this is that Freemasonry, out of fear of being involved in politics,
has opted out of the real world in the manner of an exclusive fundamentalist
sect. To believe that something as important as Freemasonry can be outside of,
beyond, or unengaged with the decision making process in the real world is to
condemn Freemasonry to an irrelevance.
lectures must be delivered by those who are apt to teach. Substantial longevity
of service or Masonic honours does not necessarily bestow such aptitude. Masonic
lectures must not be seen as a last resort to mitigate a dearth of initiates.
Their delivery must not be held to be the right of rank. If provided by the
committed with inspiration they will ensure that there is no shortage of the
right people coming forward for initiation. A Masonic lecture must be something that regenerates a
wasteland into a site that is levelled for the construction of a building that
is fit for contemporary purposes and meeting contemporary needs.
is of course an allegorical building but none the less real for that. It is
about building communities; it is about rebuilding trust between people; it is
about engaging and involvement with the political process and the decisions that
impact on our daily lives.
is best about contemporary freemasonry…
what is the worst of contemporary Freemasonry is that, largely, it is without
sustainability. That is to say, it is not addressing the human world as it is,
not meeting contemporary needs and is therefore without a role for the future
– without hope. Perhaps Freemasonry is then already failing the future; the
allegorical building is in dilapidation because it is not being up-graded to
meet current building specifications – not fit for purpose. When constructed,
a building should surely be state of the art thereby fit for purpose and able to
serve its generation. But, what people require, need and demand from the built
environment develops over time and the specification of yester years is an
affront to an emerging generation.
that is to say, futureproofing, is about a Masonic vision of a horizon ahead -
not hindsight. Yes of course we build upon sure foundations, respect for
humankind, social justice and life sciences but the realisation must be that the
here and now are different from what they were and that the future will be
different again. They must be designed for the right here, the right now and a
realistic way forward. A dream is with the eyes closed - a vision is with the
is best about contemporary Freemasonry is that it is; that there are within its
numbers people who are committed, in practice, to work, education, citizenship
and social justice. These are the people of the future who are fit for the
purpose of building a better world; known allegorically among Freemasons, as
building King Solomon’s Temple. These
Masons will break the shackles of obsolescence and deliver a future world that
is the better for their contribution.