On one of my favorite blogs to visit, Brother Justa Mason wrote about what every new Mason should know. In it, he points out the not so good things that can be found in a lodge and counters them with the good things that can be found in the same lodge. It is very well thought out and I would highly encourage any to check it out.
At the end of the blog, he wrote this;
I’ve being trying to come up with a post about why people stay in Freemasonry,
why it is they cope with disorganised and seemingly-pointless Lodge meetings,
petty arguments and some guys who really could do a better job of following what
it is our ritual teaches. I still haven’t written that post but it boils down,
in part, to the fact they have found the good outweighs the not-so-good.
Since I read that a few weeks ago, I have thought long and hard on the question at hand. As I have sat in lodge, I have pondered what has kept myself, as well as my brethren, returning again and again to that old lodge.
The first point, Masonry is a "Binding Insitution." By this I mean that through our Initiation, Passing, and Raising, we become bound to the fraternity and the brethren of the order. There is a binding element that is more ethereal than physical that binds us to one another. As we go through the degrees of Freemasonry, we realize that millions have gone through the same trials that we are and there will be millions after. We become bound to these brethren. Ours is an institution that men like Franklin, Washington, Mozart, Voltaire, and many many more were compelled to join. Most brethren are proud that they are compelled to the same institutions that these men were. This idea is innate to the fraternity, we offer nothing to this aspect of the institution.
It is true that some enter the fraternity and then quickly become disenchanted with what they find and leave. But I would argue that this is the vast minority, the majority of our brethren who we do not see at our meetings have let life become too much that they no longer have enough time for one night a month. And this brings me to the next point, Masonry is a "Fellowshipping Institution." This concept is completely dependent upon the lodge. But, Masonry should be an organization that brings men together to become friends. A tenet of our Order is that of Brotherly Love. What keeps many coming back to the lodge, to sit through monotonous business meetings is the Brotherly Love that is exemplified. Even in passionate discussions within the walls of the Lodge, brothers are generally able to rise above the heat and part with peace and harmony. They are capable to go downstairs and over a cup of coffee or punch joke around.
My third point is that Masonry is a "Personal Institution." The lessons of Freemasonry, the allegories, symbols, and morals can only be translated and inferred by the individual Mason. The Working Tools, even though they have definite meanings; for example the twenty four inch gauge is a symbol of the twenty four hours of the day and how we should divide those hours. But the actual division of our time is personal quest. What imperfections of our personal Rough Ashlars we choose to chip and knock away at first is a personal choice. We all interpret all of the symbols of Masonry a little different, according to our personal creeds, faiths, opinions, etc. Remember, it was the individual Mason that knocked on the doors of their own free will and accord.
Our return to the lodge is three fold; the fraternity itself compels us to return, hopefully the lodge calls for us to return, and our own desires should push us there. It takes ourselves, our brethren, and the fraternity. These are the goods that out-weigh the not-so-goods.