This post is a direct sequel to “Why I Left Freemasonry”. If you haven’t read it yet or watched the video then I’d encourage it if you’d like to get the most out of this post.
When I originally released my story about why I left Freemasonry I briefly talked about the things that would eventually bring me back to the fraternity. This was intentional for several reasons, mainly because it didn’t occur to me that anyone might be interested in that part of my story and I wanted to focus on the reasons I left.
What I didn’t realize before I shared my story about why I left was that there are many brethren out there that left due to very similar experiences. After the original video was posted (and the blog post afterward) I have received many comments by brothers that have left for the same reasons and a few inquiries about what brought me back.
This made me start to wonder, “If we all left for similar reasons, maybe they will benefit from my experiences as I did?”
In this post, I will share as many resources as I can recall and find that led me back to my lodge. For everything that I share I’ll also give you a short summary or talk about how it was important to me at that time but it’s ultimately going to fall on you to click the links and do the research.
My hope in writing this is that many of you will find this post to be a gateway to the resources you may need to facilitate your return to the fraternity and/or begin the work of improving your lodge.
“This made me start to wonder, “If we all left for similar reasons, maybe they will benefit from my experiences as I did?”
Finding My Way Back
Before I start my list I feel that it’s important to credit both my dad and my grandfather, both of whom are Masons and were members of the same lodge as me at the time. They invited me to every lodge meeting and practice that we had knowing that I was probably going to decline to go with them. Still, they were persistent and patient with me as though they knew that I’d come around someday. I’m grateful that they never gave up on me.
It was one of those evenings that I began doing my research. I had just declined another invitation for a Masonic event and I sat down in front of my computer but I just couldn’t focus on whatever it is I was working on because Freemasonry was on my mind. I started thinking about the old frustrations that caused me to leave a few years before.
Something about my experiences never sat right with me. Why did we have so much ritual, ceremony, traditions, and memory work if we were just a service club? I decided to do some research that was going to change my life, although I didn’t realize it at the time.
The Resources That Inspired Me
I don’t remember everything I read that brought me back to the fraternity because it’s been several years now but I do remember the first website that I came across. At the time the website was called “Masons of Texas” but it has since changed its name to My Freemasonry. (Disclaimer: I moderate on the forums and occasionally make posts but I am otherwise unassociated with this website, just letting you know.)
The website consists of forums that were very active at the time and numerous articles that began to really open my mind. There are too many good articles on this website to list and they sparked my curiosity enough to continue researching further. I encourage you to visit their “Masonic Education” subforum sometime.
The Seven Blunders Of The Masonic World– This short article was like a checklist of issues that had pushed me away. Not only that but the description of every key point really resonated with me. It’s a very short read and, to me, it said a lot without saying much.
Dues That Don’t Anymore– I’ve talked about dues a few times before. When I first joined the fraternity I was pretty surprised about how cheap our degrees and membership dues were and I have met other brothers that felt the same way. Dues can be a very divisive subject to talk about but I think this should be a required read for all Masons regardless of what side of the fence you sit on in the matter.
Eight Steps To Excellence: The Observant Lodge– This is another “must read”. This article reads like the counterpart to “The Seven Blunders Of The Masonic World”. Bro. Hammer briefly lists solutions to many issues I had at the time and although the ideas presented aren’t comprehensive, they definately made me start thinking.
If you’re wondering what an “observant lodge” is then you wouldn’t be the only one. I didn’t have any idea when I started down this path either. The author sums it up pretty nicely though:
…”what exactly does one mean by ‘observant’?
Simply put, observant Masonry means observing the intent of the founders of speculative Masonry. That intent was not to build a mere social club or service organisation. While the Craft—like any other human organisation—has always been burdened by men in its ranks who subverted the purposes of the fraternity to a more mundane or profane enterprise, that was never the intent of the institution.
That intent was to build an institution that calls men to their highest level of social being, in a state of dignity and decorum, which could serve as a place for serious, mindful discourse on the lessons and meaning of life, and search for the better development of oneself. That intent means building a space where such an experience can be created, and carrying ourselves in a manner that is consistent with our highest ideals and noblest behaviours.”
Laudable Pursuit– This piece was written by a group of brothers under the pen name “The Knights of The North” and it was possibly one of the single most important papers that I read during my transition back to the lodge.
I remember feeling a sense of excitement as I read each of the concepts listed in the paper. I didn’t understand several concepts the paper discussed at the time because the authors that wrote it weren’t from my Masonic jurisdiction.
“…while the paper outlined many great ideas that I couldn’t wait to take back to my lodge, I was even more excited by the idea that my lodge could be so much more than it was.”
I also want to point out that, while I agreed with a lot of the ideas presented in this paper, I didn’t agree with everything that was suggested and I still don’t to this day. You see, while the paper outlined many great ideas that I couldn’t wait to take back to my lodge, I was even more excited by the idea that my lodge could be so much more than it was.
Words can’t describe how powerful that idea was (and is) to me.
Back To The Future– This paper was written by some Australian brothers so there are jurisdictional differences here as well. This paper is unique because it details the “why” and “how” a group of brothers chartered a new (and very successful) lodge.
The authors immediately set out to explain the purpose of this paper so I’ll let this quote speak for itself:
“The following paper sets out a most successful experiment in Masonic renewal. A small group of committed masons, lamenting the dire state into which the Craft in Australia has plunged, particularly in more recent times, looked at the problems involved and decided to try a practical solution. Given the success that has been experienced it is hoped that by sharing our Prescription for Masonic Renewal, together with the progress and results achieved, others may decide to emulate our example and so contribute to rescuing the Craft from the abyss.”
I was so impressed by this paper when I read it that I immediately set out to create a set of guidelines for my lodge based off of the guidelines detailed in the paper. They were eventually adopted after some modifications and they served the lodge well.
(Related posts of mine: The Progressive Line, Putting Quantity Before Quality: The Open West Gate, The Chamber of Refraction, Masonic Musical Chairs and The Past Master Paradox, The Lesson of The Garden Club, Dues That Still Don’t))
These articles, as well as the encouragement I received from my father and grandfather, are the reasons that I returned to Freemasonry.
When I left Freemasonry I did so because it didn’t feel authentic to me at the time and it seemed to me as though there was a huge disconnect between what it was supposed to be and what it actually was.
These articles prompted my return because they showed me an alternative. I realized that even though “we’ve always done things that way” it didn’t mean that we had to continue doing so. Before I began my research I “didn’t know what I didn’t know” but as soon as I saw that Freemasonry could be so much more than my experiences had led me to believe I suddenly couldn’t wait to return to my lodge.
If any of these resources were helpful to you or if you’ve had any similar experiences, please leave a comment and let me know!