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Contemporary Masonry
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Contemporary Masonry
By Rudy Olano

In the February 2004 issue of The Short Talk Bulletin printed by Masonic Information Center, a summary of the report regarding Masonic Public Awareness Program was discussed. A presentation was made and endorsed by the Grand Masters Conference at Washington, DC. The MIC proposed to create a Public Awareness Program to “take immediate steps to improve its (Masonic fraternity) image with the general public.” The short article also mentioned the “urgent need to reinvigorate enthusiasm among our current members.” The Center deduced that the fraternity should be building community based on shared Masonic values, construct positive environment, support sharing of idea and open discussion, welcome diversity, train members to be leader, adapting Masonic values for today’s living, and take care of the welfare of other Masons and their families. The Masonic Information Center then listed “two major hurdles that must be overcome:”

1. Freemasonry evolved from enlightened thinking and became trapped in its emphasis on ritual as the completion of a Mason’s education about the fraternity.
2. Contemporary Masonic performance conflicts with early Masonic values. How do you perform Masonry within the context of today’s environment?

The article closed by stating that answers to the questions will depend on the success of the Public Awareness Program and the ability to see the “urgent priority” and undertake the “this critical need.”

While community building is also an objective of other well known groups such as Lions Club, Rotarians, and others, this well intended concept should not the first on list of this revised and modern Masonic goal if I ever agree on one. A group of men living in Masonic ideals is already living in a Masonic community. “Build(ing) a community based on shared Masonic values” is a utopian thinking worthy of Pinocchio’s reverie. Freemasonry is about building a temple not made by hands and Eternal in Heaven. The following six goals are individual actions which are the results of a Mason's conduct who truly understands the meaning of Freemasonry. Our well intended brethren in MIC might be delving into issues beyond their office authority. Educating the public of who were are is an ocean apart from trying “reinvigorate enthusiasm among current members” which, I submit that deserves more priority than improving the Masonic image from the public. What is the value of spending time and effort to “improved image” while wilting away its own members interest?

As to the major impediments to be overcome, aside from slavery and homosexuality, this writer is puzzled on the issue of “early Masonic values” that clashed with “Contemporary Masonic performance.” Living a life guided by the Tenets of Freemasonry---Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth should not be harder than our ancient Brethren in the past compare to living and “perform(ing) Masonry within the context of today’s environment.”

In closing, this writer is in agreement regarding the “entrapment” of the today’s Freemasonry emphasis on exact wordings, and floor work rituals. While impressive to the sideliners, it is almost always incomprehensible to almost always blindfolded candidates. The idea however, was that the effort to commit to memory the parts of the lectures and other mental requirements has the same effect as to the study of Freemasonry. The student needs to understand the message of the sentence or paragraph in order to interpret and the use his “corporeal and mental faculties to their fullest energy.” Delivering a lecture is not the same as giving a lecture. One could train a parrot to speak but who would listen to a parrot repeatedly? Using “contemporary” words will aid in comprehension and memorization of the beautiful Lessons or Mysteries of Freemasonry. Let us focus on the message not to the messenger. What Freemasonry need’s is not PR but BR---Brethren Relations. Men with Masonic ideals are the real engines of the Age of Enlightenment. Contemporary is a relative word.

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