...Freemasonry is a "System of Education"
Part of that system is to "research". We need to:
- discover knowledge past;
- prove legitimacy of same;
- prove the truth; and
- prove and justify the theoretical basis of the topics.
- deal with establishing and proving facts, not ideals, by comparing and contrasting substantiating sources;
- challenge and expand original thought;
- be useful and usable, and
- extend its influence to the ordinary Mason.
At the consecration of the premier lodge of research - Quatuor Coronati No. 2076 EC/UGLE in 1886, the following was said:
" . . .we may help forward the important cause of Masonic study and investigation, may induce a more scholarly and critical consideration of our evidences, a greater relish for historical facts, and sub-serve at the same time the increasing and healthy movement for the extension of libraries and museums in all Lodges. . . [We believe] that such a study, thoughtful and prudent, zealous yet discriminating, is essential to a proper understanding of Masonic archaeology and Masonic formulae. . . .For thus it may chance that we shall be enabled to rescue contemporary Freemasonry from the charge frequently brought against it, that it sacrifices an intellectual study of Freemasonry proper to the more pervading requirements of the social circle, and that it is too easily contented with a routine of ritual on the one hand, and the pleasing exercise of hospitality on the other. . . .as Freemasons who take pride in their order, and who feel strongly that knowledge and light, the opposites of ignorance and darkness, are, ever have been, and we trust ever will be, characteristic features and the abiding distinction of Freemasonry."
That was in 1886 - 122 years ago!
We are accepted into the Craft because we affirm a general desire for knowledge. We are admonished to make daily progress in the acquisition of Masonic knowledge, and we are rewarded for making progress in the science. Two kinds of knowledge are described, that of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the hidden mysteries of Nature and Science. We must be prepared to make the effort and discover the vast unknown of Masonic knowledge.
Research requires dedication. Research requires time. We need more Brethren to undertake research. We need to promote ourselves to the very early grass roots of this organization, to the very first steps. We need to mentor and tutor these Masons, and say strongly 'we want you, we need you', and put out a hand of scholarly friendship: no closed shop, no closed minds, no 'wait for your turn'. We must identify and engage talent, promote, present, and be seen. Research is a career path in Freemasonry that should have specific attractive signposts. Active participation is the way to learn, and original thought and work is within all of us.
Research is necessary to define 'What is Freemasonry'. Freemasonry as a living organization with a distinguished history is in need of a contemporary, flexible image. We must enjoy our Freemasonry, and learn to 'talk the talk' across the generations.
The discipline of training, study and analysis is crucial to the process, and creates the differential between 'a member' and 'a Mason'.