Square & Compass: A New Masonic Paradigm.
“For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled.”
― Hunter S. Thompson
In October of 2007, at the beautiful Windsor Masonic Temple, the Worshipful Master of Windsor Lodge №403 initiated me into Freemasonry.
Since that time, I have been installed as Worshipful Master three times (twice in Windsor Lodge №403 and once in my affiliated lodge-Harmony Lodge №579), organized a Cornerstone Ceremony for Windsor’s City Hall, received a “Mason of the Year” award, and travelled countless miles visiting Masonic Lodges and Temples.
While I take pride in those accomplishments, I believe my most valuable Masonic contributions will be found in the future, and will be done through Square & Compass Promotions (“Square & Compass”), which I founded in 2020.
The purpose of Square & Compass is to promote Freemasonry and encourage Masonic learning. It does this through a weekly podcast, the organization of historical Windsor Masonic Temple tours, and the development of unique Masonic products.
However, Square & Compass’ value derives neither from its purpose nor its products, but rather from its nature: Square & Compass is a professional endeavour.
Many Freemasons are engaged in excellent work, both within the Craft and within their communities. Square & Compass has been honoured to speak with many of these Masons.
During the current pandemic, Freemasons have engaged in charitable endeavours, provided benevolence and support for those within their communities, and engaged in informative virtual education programs. Within this excellent work-I see Freemasonry’s great potential.
However, far too often and in far too many lodges, Freemasonry fails to meet its potential. The reasons for these failures are well-documented and often discussed; declining membership, declining revenue, and declining attendance.
The underlying causes behind those reasons are also often discussed; the changing role of men in the family, an increase in two-income households, stagnating wages resulting in longer working hours, and an proliferation in social media and home-entertainment options.
Many masonic jurisdictions (at the Lodge, District, and Grand Lodge levels) have developed numerous (well-intentioned) programs and services to address all of the above; however, these programs and services remain frustratingly ineffective.
Masonic membership continues to decline and attendance remains stubbornly low. Pursuant to one Square & Compass interview, if membership continues on its current trend, Freemasonry will cease to exist by 2040. In Ontario, in a matter of decades, Freemasonry has gone from over 100, 000 members to 33, 000 (and dropping).
More is required.
A dedicated effort is required.
A consistent effort is required.
A professional effort is required.
And a professional effort is what Square & Compass will give.
The word “professional,” is far too often associated solely with “financial.” A “job” is done for financial reasons, a “profession” is about so much more.
A profession is about, first and foremost, loving something enough to dedicate your whole life to it (to the point of significant sacrifice).
Ask a professional writer, professional athlete, professional musician, professional dancer, or any professional, and they will tell you the same thing: they do what they do because they have to do it, because they love it.
I think Stephen King expressed it best: “…you don’t do it for money, or you’re a monkey. You don’t think of the bottom line, or you’re a monkey. You don’t think of it in terms of hourly wage, yearly wage, or even lifetime wage, or you’re a monkey. In the end, you don’t even do it for love, although it would be nice to think so. You do it because to not do it is suicide. And while that is tough, there are compensations…”
For Freemasonry to grow (or even sustain itself), a professional component is required. Dedicated and consistent effort is required. Forty, fifty, or even sixty hour weeks of dedicated Masonic work (be it attending Lodge and/or visiting, creating Masonic content, or engaging in Masonic research) should be the norm-not the exception.
Not every musician is a professional musician nor every writer a professional writer; but it is the professionals that inspire. It is the professionals that push boundaries. It is the professionals that show us the full potential of our endeavours.
Imagine music be without the Beatles. Not every musician is a professional, but professionals make every musician better.
A professional Masonic component is not an entirely new idea. In the past, Masonic newspapers acted as significant sources of revenue for their publishers. To an extent, Masonic supply and regalia shops already engage in professional Masonic services.
However, the number of current professional masons is miniscule, and the results are showing.
From a practical stand-point, it is not feasible to have a (practically) exclusively voluntary model of engagement, when the pressures on men (both related to work and family) grow exponentially.
It is not complicated: growing something requires a significant time-commitment. How a Freemason earns a living will determine how much time he can commit to Freemasonry…unless his living is earned FROM Freemasonry.
I do not know if Square & Compass will be successful (a scary thought, since I quit a government job to pursue it) but I do know other things.
I know the current Masonic paradigm is not sustainable.
I know Freemasonry has amazing potential.
I know Freemasonry is failing to reach that potential.
I know I am scared Square & Compass will fail.
I know I am more scared Freemasonry will fail.
I know that Freemasonry is worth the risk.
I know that other Masons recognize the same problems (and are looking at similar solutions) as me.
I know that I am thankful for every Mason (and non-Mason) who read this piece.
I know that, with hard work and dedication, great things are possible.
I know I am excited to try!
W. Bro. Cameron Adamson