Minnesota Freemasons featured in the Wall Street Journal

I suppose we should mention this here. I would have earlier but everyone who reads this probably already saw it on Facebook anyway.

Braden Lodge, along with our friends at Minneapolis 19, another great Minnesota lodge, got a visit from a roving reporter from the WSJ, researching for a piece about Freemasnons using social media to appeal to potential, new members.

A generation of joiners, home from war, boosted Masonic rolls in America to four million by 1959.

But in the 1960s, hippies were turned off by establishment mysticism.

When the sons of hippies asked about Masonry’s secrets, their boomer dads didn’t have a clue. By the mid-2000s, fewer than two million members remained.

Faced with a choice between going extinct and going public, the Masons went public. The order has no central authority, but Grand Lodges in several states put up billboards, ran TV commercials and staged mass rituals, initiating hundreds of men at a time.

Mr. Hodapp calls all that “a travesty.” Many initiates never showed up. Many that did, he wrote in an internal paper, found “a desperate group of aging members” and “endless meetings about bill-paying, bad food, and who is going to iron the degree uniforms.”

The article goes on to quote several Bradenites, including Harvie Holmes, Brian Silverain, and Matt Gallagher, who has been trying to increase the lodge’s web presence in his year as LEO. Gallagher’s specifically trying to make the personality of Braden 168 stand out.

“We can’t tell you the secrets, but that doesn’t mean we can’t tell you what we do,” said Gallagher.

Still, there’s a struggle in Masonry between those who think Freemasonry’s greatest boon is its secrecy and private nature, and those who think privacy isn’t Freemasonry’s nature at all.

“It’s false to say that talking about the things we do on this blog contradicts our masonic ethos. It doesn’t. The rituals, the initiations, the secret handshakes, etc. That’s all dressing,” opines Gallagher. “It serves a vital purpose, like any dedicated ritual, from your church service, to your Christmas tradition, to the way you shave every morning. It’s suppose to take you out of your regular, everyday mindset, and put you into the moment, so you can shut all that other stuff out. But the ritual isn’t our ethos. We have very few secrets, and none of bar us from letting people know who we are, what we get up to when we hang out, and the kinds of stuff we talk about, because really, it’s just the same sort of stuff you and your friends get together and talk about. And because we’re all pretty good guys (which is pretty much the main requirement for getting in) we’re probably going to be a positive influence in your self-directed quest to become a better person. That’s Masonry. My God, man. Why would anyone want to keep that a secret?!”

Freemasons actually using this funny looking typewriter with the television on it is a fairly new thing, but this year there’s been a boom in Minnesota Masonic Lodges creating Facebook pages. Is your lodge using social media or the internet in an effective way? How’s it going? Let us know in the comments.