Making Masonry Better: a 19th-Century Perspective

I ran across something interesting while doing some Masonic research. In an issue of the Grand Lodge Bulletin of the State of Iowa dated 1898, the following was noted:

The Secret Society Publishing Company of Columbus, Ohio, has offered two prizes, consisting of fifty and twenty-five dollars cash, for the best articles on “How to make Lodge Meetings Interesting”.

For reference, that’s about $1500 today.

The winner was M. P. Berry of Chicago, Illinois, whose article reads as much then as our struggles exist today—focusing on quality membership, interesting programs, promotion of harmony within the Lodge, and an emphasis on incredible degree work:

“To sum up, then, I would answer the question…by simply stating ‘practice what we preach’, by studying well the teachings of the Order, by incorporating its principles into our character and by exemplifying them in everyday life, by cultivating a spirit of benevolence, [and] by learning to love our fellowmen. If we cannot do it this way, we cannot do it at all.”