The Resurgence of Freemasonry: Why Masonry must not just survive but thrive--and how Masons and their lodges can make that happen.
In this book, noted Masonic author Mark E. Koltko-Rivera, Ph.D., describes and offers solutions for the Masonic membership crisis in the United States. The 14 chapters and five appendixes here include:
I want Freemasonry to thrive.
Why? I want the Craft to thrive for two reasons, one “micro” and one very “macro.”
On the micro level, I have seen the power of the principles of Freemasonry to influence men, to change them, even to transform them, from basically good men into far better men. This in and of itself is a most excellent thing, for to better even a single human life is the best and most noble work that one can aspire to in one’s own life.
On the macro level, however, there is an even greater urgency to ensure that Freemasonry thrives. To explain this urgency, I need to get very “big picture”—because, in a very real way, the future of the human race depends upon the values that Freemasonry promotes.
We are each seeing in our own lifetimes more real change in the conditions of human life than the human race has seen in any three prior centuries combined. The human world is no longer a collection of isolated cultures. We are witnessing the emergence, for the first time in recorded history, of a planetary human civilization. We are on the brink of humankind’s emergence from infancy. And yet, this period is fraught with not just opportunity, but actual peril. ...
And so it is. As we have advanced in our knowledge of physics, information science, and genomic science, we have gained the power to create marvels—and to destroy everything that anyone has ever known, in multiple ways. What will determine whether we go in the direction of greater life, or destruction and death?
Encompassing knowledge, but more than knowledge alone, wisdom reflects insight, judgment, the ability to take multiple perspectives into account, and the ability to assess and choose among potential consequences. ...
We need to develop wisdom not just on a personal level, but on a societal scale. We need to raise the level of wisdom for the human race, and we need to begin this effort in our lifetime—or there could very well be no further lifetimes.
Freemasonry can be a powerful vehicle for developing wisdom, in such a way that not just individuals but entire societies are transformed. We have done this before. We can do this again.
By promoting such ideas as the three principal tenets of our profession, the four cardinal virtues, and the study of the liberal arts and sciences; by inculcating the lessons of the many working tools of the Mason; by leading men to ponder the lessons offered by the three great lights in Freemasonry, the three great pillars of the Lodge, and the deeper mysteries of our symbols; by focusing on the common good in the lessons of the Level and the Trowel—by all these things, Freemasonry helps to deepen men, and make them wiser.
This is no small thing, especially in an age such as ours.
The popular culture that prevails in the West in our day is bent on instant gratification, hedonism, narcissism, empty fame, and superficiality. It is a popular culture whose attention flits from one shiny object to another, thereby forming minds with the attention spans of squirrels. Even when clothed in the trappings of academic degrees, startup business plans, and computer coding skills, the popular mindset of our day is focused on creating sparkly technology without considering the deeper issues of why and how such technologies might—or might not—be used for good. Answering—even forming—such questions requires wisdom. And at nurturing wisdom, Masonry excels, when it is actually implemented.
This is why I want Freemasonry not just to survive in the 21st century and beyond, but to thrive. I want Masonic ideals to become a stronger influence in American society, in all societies, and in all of the emerging global civilization, than they have ever been before. That is why I have written this book.
As I document in the book, if we continue on as we have over the last three generations or so, Freemasonry will not thrive. Let me be clear: if we continue on with business as usual, Freemasonry is headed for virtual extinction, a status so weak that it might as well be extinct.
And so it is that we must, each of us, change our ways—not just for the sake of the Fraternity, but for the sake of the society in which our children and our children’s children will live, and even for the sake of all human civilization. ...
My hope is that this book will help Freemasons to do what is needed to help our Fraternity to thrive, to grow and develop into the force it needs to be, in order to help many ‘good men become better’ in the 21st century and beyond, and to help guide our civilization to greatness.
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