Jim Tresner, 33, G.C.
Guthrie, Oklahoma
Book Reviews Editor, Scottish Rite Journal

“If they’d rather starve, they’d better do it, and decrease the surplused population.”

So sneered Scrooge (pre-reformation), when reminded that now, of all good seasons of the year, it was appropriate to remember the poor. He learned otherwise, of course, when Marley reminded him that the affairs of the countinghouse were but a few drops in the veritable ocean of his life’s true business, and that it was required of every man that the spirit within him walk abroad to alleviate the cares of sorrows of mankind.

Masons have understood that. And in celebration of that understanding, it’s a pleasure to devote the book review column this good month of December to a book which records that “walking abroad.”

Masonic Philanthropies: A Tradition of Caring, Second Edition, by Dr. S. Brent Morris, 33, softbound, 110 pages, $5, includes shipping and handling; 40% reduction for orders of 50 or more to the same address, S/H additional. Make checks payable to The Scottish Rite Foundation and mail to: Supreme Council, 1733 16th St., NW, Washington, DC, 20009-3103

The eagerly awaited second edition of Masonic Philanthropies is now available, and a fine work it is! A total of 152 color photographs accent a lively and pointed text telling a great story.

Even with the aid of this fine book, it’s hard to wrap one’s mind around the topic of Masonic philanthropy because it’s a vast area covering a wide range of human needs.

Much of it is impossible to count or report, of course. There is no way to estimate how much Lodges spend in doing acts of charity and relief, from helping with utility bills to doing major fundraisers for community members with medical problems. There is no way to measure how much is given when Brethren simply pass the hat during a meeting to help some child. One state which tried to make such an estimate concluded that $400,000 would be a conservative calculation. If that held true across the nation, it would mean an additional $25,000,000 that is not now tallied in this book’s statistical tables. Dr. Morris wisely remained with amounts which can be documented and, in doing so, has produced a unique creation--a valuable reference book that is fun to read.

One conclusion, powerful and easy to remember, is that the amount of philanthropic giving by Masons has increased from $1.5 million PER DAY to more than $2 million each and every day of the year!

A Summary of American Masonic Philanthropy for 1995*

1. Non-Profit Hospitals, etc. $476,512,844 63.5%
2. Masonic Homes, Hospitals, etc. 225,669,231 30%
3. Medical Research 31,472,909 4%
4. Scholarships and Youth 7,123,805 1%
5. Community Services 5,379,609 1%
6. Museums and Buildings Open to the Public 3,717,050 0.5%
Total $749,875,448 100%

*Based on figures compiled by The Masonic Service Association of North America

This chart above, reproduced from page 18 of the book, shows how those funds are divided and how large a percentage goes to aid the general public. During 1995, the most recent year for accurate and comprehensive statistics, major North American Masonic philanthropies contributed $750 million or over $2 million per day of which 70% went to the general American public.

For me, one of the most valuable aspects of the book is that it puts faces on these numbers. If asked to choose between a child and a spreadsheet, I’ll pick the child every time. The book lets you see the good Masons are doing, the hope we are bringing, the comfort we are giving, the future we are building--it will both make you feel good and inspire you to greater efforts of charity (unless you are deeply committed to the “Bah, Humbug” School of Philosophy).

Here you will find not only a listing of the major charities but also information as to their missions and ways to “connect” with them. The book is a resource guide as well as a celebration. If you know of persons in need, Masonic Philanthropies is a good place to start in finding help for them. At a very reasonable $5 each, I suggest you order five copies--one to keep and four to give to non-Mason friends who, no doubt, have sometimes asked why Masonry is important.

Congratulations to Ill. Bro. S. Brent Morris for his excellent research and writing skills, to Dr. John W. Boettjer, 33, G.C., for his fine work in editing and formatting the text, and to Bro. Jason A. Naughton, 32, for an outstanding job of designing and desktop publishing the book. Their joint efforts have resulted in a book we all can be proud of. Order yours today!

Editor’s Note:  Publication information has been carefully checked but is subject to change. Before ordering, we recommend you contact the publisher.