Wednesday, October 1, 2008

On the Subject of Openness/Advertising

The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts has been running a lot of the Ben Franklin TV ads lately on WGBH, Boston's PBS affiliate. Just this morning I was surprised to hear that some news update or other on WAAF's Hill-Man morning show (your typical low-brow morning zoo) was brought to me by the Grand Lodge of Freemasons.

As Masons (especially the sort who spend idle moments reading and writing about the Craft online), we have a tendency to focus and dwell on anything and everything having to do with Masonry, and we're especially sensitive to our portrayal in popular culture and the mainstream media. "We're selling out!" "We're watering down the fraternity!" "Freemasonry isn't about slick advertising!" ... et cetera. The thing is, non-Masons who have zero interest in Masonry aren't going to pay any more attention to these ads and articles than they would to any other brand/product/service/organization they don't care about. It's the idly curious and fence-sitters that this kind of exposure reaches, and I think that's a good thing. I have to grudgingly concede that even the shallow, "We don't have any secrets" articles that irk me so might reach worthy men who are intrigued but uncertain about their preconceptions of Masonic secrecy.

Seeing an ad and taking the initiative to petition, be investigated, and take the degrees are two entirely different things. Yet it seems like a lot of the negative reaction within the fraternity towards greater publicity stems from the idea that any old cowan or eavesdropper who sees an ad or article about Freemasonry is going to try and join. I simply don't believe that to be the case.

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