Friday, January 1, 2016

‘Journal No. 30 is out’


Issue No. 30 of The Journal of the Masonic Society is in the mail now, providing indispensible insights into things Masonic to members of The Masonic Society and to non-member subscribers. Click here to join us.

In other news, the bustling Forum, our on-line place for discussion among paid members, has been reborn in time for a new year. Thanks to Bro. Nathan, the change is from phpBB, which is fraught with technical inferiorities, to XenForo, which is a contemporary platform with a better look and improved functionality. I just logged on, and I’m very pleased with the results.

And don’t forget our upcoming annual meeting. Click here for details.

But about the new Journal: Progress, even when arrested, seems to be a theme.

Bo Cline, a Past Grand Master of Alaska and a Past President of The Masonic Society, gives us “Ahead of Their Time: The Grand Lodge of Washington, and the Aborted Recognition of Prince Hall Freemasonry” in which he recounts the story of William Henry Upton.

Upton was grand master of the Grand Lodge of Washington at the close of the nineteenth century—so you see how incomprehensively ahead of his time he was—when he guided the grand lodge through the revolutionary process of extending recognition of Prince Hall Masons in Washington.

Of course it was not to endure (it wasn’t until 1990 that the two grand lodges in Washington established relations), but the details are amazing.

Executive Editor Michael Halleran, a Past Grand Master of Kansas, suggests “Let Him Wait with Patience?” in which he analyzes the effects of the crazy membership drives on Freemasonry in the United States. This is not a familiar retelling of the arguments over one-day classes and other exertions to boost membership; Halleran follows “doctrinal shifts” in Masonic history to form his bold conclusion summarizing where Masons are today, and hinting at where we must go tomorrow.

And one aspect of Masonic progress that is near to my heart is communications, namely those strategized by lodges to maintain a consistent reputation and relevance within their communities. Here, Ms. Emily Limón, the Grand Lodge of California’s vice president of communications and the executive editor of California Freemason magazine, outlines her plan for a professional Masonic awareness campaign. And—Hey!—it’s not about membership development. Owned media and shared media; paid media and earned media; goals and results are explained clearly. Freemasonry has a unique reason for being, she says, and strategic communications “can make all the difference in motivating members, educating the public, and moving the organization forward for future generations.”

(Not for nothing, but I was saying that to anyone who would listen fifteen years ago in my home jurisdiction. The closest I came to any success was seeing the PR committee in another jurisdiction brazenly plagiarize my Masonic media plan.)

In his “Thoughts on the Craft,” Stephen J. Ponzillo, Past Grand Master of Maryland (To be clear, it is not necessary to be a grand master to write for The Journal of the Masonic Society!) explains demographic changes in Freemasonry, drawing a conclusion about today’s youngest Master Masons that may be surprising to a certain kind of thinker stuck in the past.

Elsewhere in the name of progress in this edition of The Journal, President Jim Dillman of Indiana writes of “New Horizons for the Masonic Society” in his eighth and final President’s Message. He does not say goodbye as he welcomes Ken Davis to the presidency, but promises to continue serving The Masonic Society for as long as he has something to offer. And that he has. TMS is planning several historic initiatives to be unveiled in the near future. (Actually, we will share some of this information at our annual meeting next month.) The Masonic world is going to take a new look at The Masonic Society.

In other regular features of The Journal, Masonic Collectibles by Yasha Beresiner shares several hilarious vintage Masonic postcards. Book reviews delve into new titles (John Bizzack’s Taking Issue and the long awaited Masonic Perspectives by Thomas W. Jackson, for starters) and a classic text from eighteenth century German Enlightenment.

Membership in The Masonic Society costs only $39 a year—the best money you’ll spend on a Masonic affiliation outside your lodge. January 1 is a great time to start.

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