Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Yep, Quiet Around Here

Over the last month or so I've started and abandoned 4 or 5 posts explaining why I haven't been posting... not the usual "Gosh I can't believe it's been so long since I've posted" blog fodder, but a look at the current online Masonic climate and my reaction to it.

I have kept putting it off because I have been quite busy with activities both Masonic and profane and also, frankly, I don't need to explain myself to anyone... but as the gap between my online and meatspace Masonic experiences widens, one thing becomes increasingly clear:

I am not feeling the Brotherly Love online.

With some exceptions, I find a lot of online Masonic dialog increasingly divisive, if not downright toxic. The thoughtful back and forth exchanges I seem to recall finding in mid-2007 when I first got interested in Masonry have given way to polarized modern-vs-antient, old-vs-young, fish-fry-vs-festive-board, Grand-Lodge-vs-GOUSA, them-or-us bickering. I've slowly been unsubscribing from a lot of Masonic RSS feeds over the last few months, because I really don't care to be associated with it, even by such a passive act as reading it.

My wife made an observation the other day about people who seem to decide they know everything there is to know (or, at least know everything worth knowing) by the time they reach age 30. She said she can't imagine what it's like to be that confident in one's own world knowledge, and then said something that is certainly true for me too:

"The more I learn, the more I realize there is left to learn!"

I don't have any agenda other than to improve myself in Masonry, and right now I am not finding a lot of opportunities to do that online (private exchanges with Brothers notwithstanding.)

I know the tone of this post is somewhat harsh, and for that I apologize... but chalk it up to the frustration I've been bottling up for longer than I probably should have. I'll be around, but these days I am focusing most of my Masonic energy on rebuilding my Lodge.


Tom Accuosti said...

about people who seem to decide they know everything there is to know

I agree. Those people who think that they know everything are very annoying to those of us who actually do know ever thing.

Having been reading Masonic groups for the last 8 years, I can say that what you're seeing now isn't really much different from what I've seen over the years. Masons - even Masons from mutually recognized jurisdictions - actually do disagree on subjects. I have confidence that most of the time, they manage to work out their differences in an appropriate way.

I think a lot of the dissension that you see lately has to do with how the individuals perceive the Craft and its tenets. Freemasonry is like "the six blind men and the elephant" poem, in which everyone has their own opinion of what it is and should be, and sometimes that creates a tension because - like the proverbial blind men - some brothers can't manage to "see" what the others mean.

Br. Warwick said...

I know exactly what you are talking about. I was somewhat involved in the whole discussion that imploded into a ridiculous conflict between Widow's Son and Br. Theron Dunn (R.I.P.). I managed to extricate myself from it (at least in my view)before it got to ugly. I was somewhat put off by it, and haven't joined in any sort of real discussion since. I hope you keep posting, however, because I am a regular reader of your column as a fellow young mason and have really enjoyed it.

A.C. said...

Thank you, Tom and Warwick... of course Masons disagree from time to time (how boring life would be if nobody ever had differing opinions to discuss).

I think much of my frustration when I wrote this stemmed from wishing I could somehow capture that same feeling of camaraderie and "leaving the world behind for a while" online that I get from physically being at the Lodge... it's been an increasingly stressful year, and I could use such a diversion at times where I'm too busy to actually attend a lodge function.