How Can We Have Better Masonic Education Programs?
Notes used at Paul M. Bessel’spresentation 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 GrandLodge, Read bills, Read petitions and ballot
Introductions of those who have not served in the East, PastMasters, etc.
Speaker at altar, escort to East, speech
Typical Lodge Speakers
One man standing at the podium — Reading a speech, such as a ShortTalk Bulletin
Same Brother who has been heard before — Someone with a title
Taking about how great we are — Platitudes — No questions ordiscussion
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 thinkabout after meeting
Masonic Presidents — don’t talk about the “great” 14(they weren’t so great)
Give out quotes, discuss how different Masons (Presidents, too) haveviewed 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 ofdegrees — unusual ideas
Debate whether we should have 1-day classes — scripted debate
Discuss whether we should change catechisms and go back to originalway 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, CatholicMonasteries, others
Why are we losing members — Ask those who have dropped out to talkto us
Promise Keepers — Why do thousands come to their meetings? — Askthem, invite them to lodge meeting
Stories about Lodge in the “old days” — funny storiesabout 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 Brethrengo 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 Courtdecisions & U.S.
What is the meaning of the “lost word”?
What is the significance of Solomon’s Temple in human history? InMasonry?
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, legalqualifications
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 ourLodges?
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’sConstitutions
Landmarks — real ones
Brotherhood — black speakers
Masons on both sides in the American revolution — debate betweensupporting 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 inFreemasonry?
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 theLodge
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 tolearning about Freemasonry
U.K. Parliament debate and plans for Freemasonry in Britain
P-2 Lodge in Italy — allegations about the death of Pope John PaulI
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 toCraft Lodges?
Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry — similarities and differences
What is the U.S. as a country? What is Freemasonry? What are theideals 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’renot doing?
Three year program on famous philosophers and Freemasonry
Does ritual serve a purpose? Should we get rid of it? Should weeliminate lectures? What are our goals?
Race relations and Freemasonry
Jingoism, super patriotism — Should we have programs that promotethis?
KKK, Albert Pike allegations, and Freemasonry
Promise Keepers — what are they doing, why successful? Similaritiesto Freemasonry’s goals
Secrecy in Freemasonry — what purpose is served, good or bad?