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Stop Boring Brethren!
How Can We Have Better Masonic Education Programs?
Notes used at Paul M. Bessel's presentation at the
Northeast Conference on Masonic Education and Libraries
May 1998 -- Utica, New York

Typical Lodge Meetings

Ritual opening, Pledge allegiance to the flag

Secretary clear desk, Read minutes, Read correspondence from Grand Lodge, Read bills, Read petitions and ballot

Introductions of those who have not served in the East, Past Masters, etc.

Speaker at altar, escort to East, speech


Ritual closing

Typical Lodge Speakers

One man standing at the podium -- Reading a speech, such as a Short Talk Bulletin

Same Brother who has been heard before -- Someone with a title

Taking about how great we are -- Platitudes -- No questions or discussion


Right after opening, have the Speaker sitting in the East already, and get started

Have more than one speaker at a time -- discussions, debates, panels

Visual aids -- hold up books, slides, transparencies, videos

Get the audience involved, with readings, ask questions, discussions

Summarize what you intended to teach, and give questions to think about after meeting

Specific ideas

Masonic Presidents -- don't talk about the "great" 14 (they weren't so great)

Give out quotes, discuss how different Masons (Presidents, too) have viewed Freemasonry

Debate Antimasonic questions and answers -- scripted debate

Masonic lessons in bonsai trees, showing the trees

Masonic videos, what they show us and non-Masons, show them

Different interpretations of the Hiram Abif legend, teachings of degrees -- unusual ideas

Debate whether we should have 1-day classes -- scripted debate

Discuss whether we should change catechisms and go back to original way of teaching Masonry

If single speaker at podium, use slides, films, videos

Notes, but never allow reading of a speech

Ideas of where Freemasonry came from -- Knights Templar, Catholic Monasteries, others

Why are we losing members -- Ask those who have dropped out to talk to us

Promise Keepers -- Why do thousands come to their meetings? -- Ask them, invite them to lodge meeting

Stories about Lodge in the "old days" -- funny stories about those who are no longer with us

What is Freemasonry for? Exactly what are our goals?

Exactly what is each meeting designed to teach? What should Brethren go home thinking about?

Discuss controversial books -- The Hiram Key, The New World Order

Jack the Ripper and Freemasonry -- staged trial

U.S. Capitol building cornerstone laying in 1793

What should Masons be allowed to say that is critical of Masonry & Grand Lodge officers

U.S. Supreme Court Justices who were Masons, and Supreme Court decisions & U.S.

What is the meaning of the "lost word"?

What is the significance of Solomon's Temple in human history? In Masonry?

Videos -- Unseen Journey, Capstone's quarterly videos

TV shows and movies about Freemasonry -- A&E, History Channel

Movies -- Man Who Would Be King, Rosewood, Like Water for Chocolate

Prince Hall -- recognitions, good or bad?, separate but equal?, comparisons

Women and Freemasonry -- female-only lodges, co-masonry, legal qualifications

George Washington and Freemasonry -- real facts

One-day classes -- pro and con

Homosexual men in Freemasonry -- pro and con

Bigotry, what it is, examples, what should be done about it in our Lodges?

Theosophy, Ancient mysteries, Alchemy, Kabala, Hermetic philosophy -- relationship to Freemasonry

Public speaking, handling motions -- how to do it better

How to make good men better?

Tolerance -- what does it mean? How to teach it?

Freemasonry and democracy and individual freedom

Attacks on Freemasonry by dictators -- Hitler, Franco, Stalin, Khomeini

Civil War and Freemasonry -- dress up, drum rolls, bugle calls -- real issues

Benjamin B. French diary about Freemasonry

How to use your computer -- basics, letters, budget, email

How to use a library

Civil disobedience, opposing immoral laws -- Masonry -- Anderson's Constitutions

Landmarks -- real ones

Brotherhood -- black speakers

Masons on both sides in the American revolution -- debate between supporting the government and rebelling

Antimasonry -- Morgan affair -- how should it have been handled?

Balloting -- philosophical questions

Grand Orient of France -- who has the right answer about religion in Freemasonry?

Visit battlefields, other places, talk about role of Masons there

U.S. Capitol and Freemasonry

What's on Masonic web pages, listservs, chats on computers

Holocaust and Freemasonry -- Issues, what happened?

Grand Masters' authority -- What is it and what should it be?

What is unmasonic conduct -- sexual issues, liquor, racist jokes, criticisms of Grand Lodge?

Meaning of aprons

Freemasonry in Star Wars, Star Trek, other science fiction

Hiram Key, Born in Blood, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, The Temple and the Lodge

Meanings of the Hiram Abif legend

How to revitalize Masonry

Take trips, but only with some Masonic connection

Joint meetings with other lodges, but only with programs relating to learning about Freemasonry

Festive boards

U.K. Parliament debate and plans for Freemasonry in Britain

P-2 Lodge in Italy -- allegations about the death of Pope John Paul I

Ancients and Moderns -- What differences? Who was right?

England and the Stuart Kings, and development of Freemasonry

Scottish Rite and York Rite -- what do they teach, how relate to Craft Lodges?

Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry -- similarities and differences

What is the U.S. as a country? What is Freemasonry? What are the ideals of both?

Nastiness, attacks behind backs, gossip, negative comments, spreading rumors -- How to stop them in Freemasonry?

Masonic trials, suspensions without trials -- How do we do this, why, what are our goals?

What do statistics about Masonry show us?

Why is Freemasonry growing in France? What are they doing that we're not doing?

Three year program on famous philosophers and Freemasonry

Does ritual serve a purpose? Should we get rid of it? Should we eliminate lectures? What are our goals?

Race relations and Freemasonry

Jingoism, super patriotism -- Should we have programs that promote this?

KKK, Albert Pike allegations, and Freemasonry

Promise Keepers -- what are they doing, why successful? Similarities to Freemasonry's goals

Secrecy in Freemasonry -- what purpose is served, good or bad?

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