Brothers on the Net
What are you waiting for?
By Leigh E. Morris, 32°

"So much to learn and, at 82, so little time." This view, expressed by Brother Preston Miller, was made in one way or another by the more than 200 brothers (ranging in age from 29 to 87) who sent emails in response to our first column. There is a hunger for knowledge. A willingness to learn new skills. A desire to expand personal horizons. And, yes, a recognition of the brevity of life. Typical attitudes for Freemasons.

I call attention to this because so many Valleys, Grand Lodges, Blue Lodges and other Masonic bodies have done little or nothing with computers on the grounds that "our members aren't into computers." They need to look again. The computer age is here and, it would appear, a good number of the brethren are leading the way.

Now, let's get down to business. A survey recently published in the Wall Street Journal found that 88.4 percent of Internet users go online to send email, while 84.5 percent visit the Web. On the other hand, fewer use it to play online games (20.8 percent) or to visit entertainment sites (17.9 percent). Clearly, most of us go online to communicate and learn.

Admittedly, getting started can be difficult. Where do you find the brethren? How do you learn more about Freemasonry? Where do you get information about individual lodges? To make it all a tad easier, go online, open your Web browser and then enter this address:http://www. 2be1ask1.com/linklib/usindex.html. Welcome to Masonic Internet Resources, a site maintained by the First Masonic District of New Jersey. Though it may seem somewhat daunting at first, you will soon find this site to be indispensable.

Begin your exploration of Masonic Internet Resources by clicking on the state of your choice. You will find the state's Grand Lodge, individual Blue Lodges and related Masonic organizations. For example, you are planning a trip to Wisconsin and would like to visit a Blue Lodge during your stay. You click on "Wisconsin" and among your choices will be West Allis Lodge 291. Created by Brother Wayne Johnson, the West Allis Lodge site provides a wealth of information, including a schedule of lodge meetings and activities. Perhaps you would like to ask some questions or comment on their Web site. No problem because appropriate email addresses are provided. This is typical of what you will find as you explore this site.

However, Masonic Internet Resources offers more. Planning a trip abroad? Check out the international section with listings for 52 countries. If you prefer, go to the adoptive rites and affiliated groups section. There are more than 60 Web sites listed for DeMolay, plus sites for Scottish Rite, Shrine, Prince Hall, Amaranth, Eastern Star, York Rite, Square Clubs and much more. Phew, there's a lot out there, brothers.

Before we go any further, I need to remind you about bookmarks. This nifty feature in your browser allows you to save a Web address for future use. When you first visit Masonic Internet Resources, open the "bookmarks" icon and go to "add bookmark." Presto, you have now saved the Web address. The next time you want to go to that site, just open bookmarks and go to Masonic Internet Resources.

Perhaps you want to engage in a Masonic forum to voice your opinions, offer ideas and participate in the free exchange of Masonic information. Try Global Fraternal Network (http://www. masonic-network.com/) where you can become a registered member of the Masonic Bulletin Board Service. This outstanding feature is only open to Masons. You will be required to complete a questionnaire designed to weed out the uninitiated. You may even be requested to send a copy of your current dues card. However, I assure you the benefits of this site are well worth the effort to register.
Another way to engage in Masonic discussion is to use the Masonic newsgroup found at alt.masonic.members. Like all newsgroups, this one is open to all (Masons and non-Masons alike) and you are likely to read some pretty remarkable assertions that may try your patience. On the other hand, it can be a lot of fun.

One final suggestion. Start an email directory for your lodge or Valley. It is really quite easy. Put a notice in your trestleboard or Valley's newsletter asking members who are online to send you their email addresses. Compile the addresses and then send each brother a copy by email. You'll likely be surprised by how many brothers are online. You will develop new friendships. You will expand your horizons.

If you have a question or comment (all will be answered) or would like a copy of "Masonic Web Sites & How to Search the Web," just drop me an email at leighm@pmihwy.com.

MAY 1999 / THE NORTHERN LIGHT