Masonry in the Age of Leisure – P2

In this article we explore what the future of Masonry might be.

It will focus on an optimistic future as opposed to a dystopian future. Rather than a narrow view of Masonry, limited to one particular type, this paper will look at Masonry in its broadest sense.

No specific timeframe has been proposed for this paper, but generally, it is based on a subsequent generation.

Attempting to foretell the future is a doomed enterprise if one is looking for accuracy and certainty; however, general themes can be anticipated.

Masonry in the Age of Leisure – Part 1

Embrace the future of Masonry in the Age of Leisure! Imagine an era where technology empowers deeper connections, offering a tapestry of diverse groups united by Freemasonry’s timeless values.

Envision hybrid meetings transcending borders, fostering brotherhood across continents. This optimistic future cultivates intellectual growth and social interaction, heralding a Masonic renaissance for all. [click image to open]

Published: The Square Magazine Q2 2024

One possible future environment

If one takes an optimistic view of current trends, there could be inferred a potential future where long periods of labour are unlikely.

This relates to the continual improvement in the use of robotics for manufacturing, some service jobs, and other ideas like self-driving vehicles.

Add in the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence and the possibility of a world where people work few hours cold be possible. Of course, this isn’t the only scenario, and it is possible that rather than the “Jetsons” the world could resemble “Terminator”. [2]

The more positive future is what is anticipated for this paper.

This optimistic future could be known as the Age of Leisure and those who can experience it might experience what could be known as the Leisure Class.

Rather than being reserved for a few, very wealthy and privileged elite, perhaps the vast majority would have to work very little.

Work, itself, might be something people look forward to, a chance to interact with others, and a chance to “do something”.

One of the key issues of this Age will be deciding on what to do with one’s time. A related issue would be establishing and maintaining meaningful relationships when one doesn’t work closely with others on a daily basis.

Without work to provide meaning and social interaction, how will people cope?

IMAGE:  the square magazine digital collection

The Fraternity as a Social Construct

During the nineteenth century, when there was a larger group of people that did not have to work for a living, called the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen [3], there was a rise in private clubs and fraternities, including Masonry.

This was also matched by the growth of benefits societies and other social groups peopled by the working and middle classes.

There were some practical purposes of these organizations (for example to provide funds for a proper burial) but for the most part they were designed to provide a place for people to socialize.

During this period there was limited entertainment to be found a home, many homes were small and crowded, and outside entertainment wasn’t prevalent or affordable.

Some of the activities that people could partake in were public executions, cock fights, bare-knuckle fights, and drinking. In fact, there were grave concerns raised about the consumption of alcohol during this period.

Many things changed over the next centuries and total there are no lack of entertainments available to individuals, especially at their homes or part of their ubiquitous smart phones.

As people’s entertainment options have increased, their need for formal socialized settings have decreased.

In addition, rather than prosperity bringing a relief to time pressures, the opposite has happened, and most people work longer days, both parents generally work, and activities for children are more formal and time consuming.

Additionally, many people now must commute for much longer in order to afford to have the type of home they want. These factors have dealt a serious blow to all social organizations.

If the time impact of work is reduced, however, then the situation changes. There will still be many forms of entertainment available for those who now work fewer hours.

In fact, the very things that will allow for less work time will actually increase entertainment possibilities.

Some of this entertainment might allow for social interaction but much of it will still be done individually.

For many people, there would be a limit to how much Netflix they could watch or kitten videos they could share. People will be looking for social interaction and maybe some form of intellectual stimulation and learning.

As leisure increases, social organizations will expand and increase. These will include athletic and health clubs, formal and informal activity clubs (like bowling, darts, sewing, stamp collecting), groups based on common beliefs (like Greenpeace, churches, Free Tibet), charitable and social welfare groups (like Rotary, Red Cross, search and rescue), purely social groups (like Oddfellows, Masonry, Elks), as well as educational groups and activities.

Some people will be drawn to a single social organization, while others will be part of multiple groups.

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Masonry, in this situation, would be poised to become more important and with more members. It provides a social atmosphere as well as an opportunity for intellectual stimulation.

It has a charitable aspect to it as well as caring about its members and their families. It has structure and history. It is found around the world. There are many different ‘hooks’ that could be used to attract and retain members; Masonry can appeal to many different aspects of its members.

In this future, Masonry will likely look different. Different doesn’t necessarily mean ‘better’ or ‘worse’. There will be many opportunities that the Craft could take advantage of. As its members have different interests and different personal circumstances, the Craft will not be uniform and there will be different approaches.

In fact, the one threat to the future of Masonry is the attempt to make it too standardized; that is, to attempt to overly control it.

The following section will outline some ideas on what Masonry might look like in the future, based on the concept of an Age of Leisure.

Another paper will outline these ideas as a ‘day in the life of a future Mason’. The ideas are not prescriptive and reflect options. Additionally, the term ‘Masonry’ has not been narrowly defined.

It is not necessarily ‘your father’s Masonry’; it isn’t a mirror of the United Grand Lodge of England. The ideas are not based on a segmented concept of specific individuals, specific beliefs, or sex.

One way of presenting this is as a change from the motto of “Making Good Men Better” to “To assist enlightened individuals to better their inner selves”.

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Elements of future Masonry

The first major change to Masonry will be that of decentralization or at least a lessening of control. Rather than seeing more focus on ‘grand organizations’, Masonry will generally be small groups of like-minded individuals who agree to follow the precepts of Masonry.

They will control their own destinies and form, change and dissolve over time. While their will be a role to play for larger organizations, it will be in promotion and education, not in control.

Individual groups will join, voluntarily, one or more larger associations. Essentially, Masonry will be a confederation of groups.

Individual Masons will join (and leave) various groups, based on their personal interests, situations, and the friends they have made. With access to so many Masonic opportunities, organizations attempting to exercise heavy-handed control will simply see their members changing affiliations.

Relating to decentralization, another major part of future Masonry will be its variety. Groups of Masons will decide what rituals they will use and study as well as how they interact.

With the entire world of Masonry available to them, groups will choose what their members value. One group may decide to use the Rectified Scottish Rite rituals for part of their activities but also conduct rituals from the Easter Star and the Royal Arch.

Groups will coalesce around specific rituals and systems even if they have access to ‘everything’. Individuals that are interested in rituals not part of their current group, will simply join another group that does conduct that work.

With the technology available, Masonry will have a hybrid character. That is, its social interactions will be conducted in-person and virtually, often at the same time. Following from this, Masonry will remove regional and national boundaries.

Notwithstanding language [4], a Mason might be participating with groups in many different locations.

They could belong to one or more localized groups that they visit in person, but also belong to Lodges in other countries. This will also mean that now the saying of “Masonry exists around the entire world” will be true, and it will always be “High Noon” and time for Masonry.

Virtual interaction will continue to improve and have several channels of communication at the same time so that Masons can experience a richer social interaction. Virtual meetings will not feel like sitting in front of a laptop in a basement.

Having hybrid and international availability will reinforce the variety of Masonry as well as its confederate aspects.

The enabling change or technology that will arise in the future is a form of security; a replacement for the secrets of Masonry used to identify one another.

Using some form of decentralized system security, each mason will have a ‘passport’ or method of identifying who they are, to what groups they belong to, and what degrees they have received [5].

This system or passport will be used in both in-person and virtual meetings and will allow for groups to feel secure when they admit visitors.

It will be trans-national and not within the control of any group or grand body. It would also be used to provide mason-to-Mason communication, providing peace of mind.

The system behind it would allow for a virtual ‘universe’ that was restricted to Masons. This could be a combination of the metaverse, Facebook, email, and messaging: true social media.

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If one is optimistic about how technology will improve how our society functions, then the future might bring an Age of Leisure.

While reducing the time pressures of work for people, it will also bring forward possible social isolation.

This pressure for socialization will see the resurgence of social organizations and with the advent of new technologies, the fabric of social organizations will exceed the scale found in the nineteenth century.

“A rising tide floats all boats” [6] and with an increase in social organizations, Masonry will prosper as well. Prosper yes, but also change.

With changes in technology and individuals’ interests, Masonry will be more de-centralized and varied, and individual Masons will have more choices in their experiences.

Technology will bring increases in security that will replace outdated attempts at Masonic secrecy and proofs of identification.

Technology will also empower Masons to have meaningful meetings and relationships in a in-person and virtual world. A Masonic Utopia might be created.


[1] This paper was part of a discussion held at a virtual meeting of the Northern Equinox Council UD about the future of Masonry with a focus on optimism.

[2] This is also a very “western” focus. Perhaps this bright future doesn’t exist in all places in the world.

[3] Thorstein Veblen The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899).

[4] Likely the rise of AI will assist in real-time language translation.

[5] Scott Wisdahl “Blockchain Masonry” The Architect, 2020 (Allied Masonic Degrees of Canada, 2020) p 232.

[6] A phrase attributed to President Kennedy it most likely first appeared in print in “Never Paralleled in New York” The [New York] Christian Advocate (January 20, 1910).

Article by: Scott Wisdahl

RWBro. Scott Wisdahl
Junior Warden, Fort St. John Masonic Lodge No. 131. Grand Lodge of BC & Yukon

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