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Although Masonic ritual speaks of Freemasonry as an unchanging and unchanged institution, it has evolved over the centuries, and is expected to continue to evolve as a social institution. This paper looks as what Freemasonry might be like one hundred years from now. It examines what was actually “unchanging and unchanged” in the fraternity in the past, and what kinds of changes we can reasonably expect in the future. The paper is an update of the Anson Jones Lecture given at the Texas Lodge of Research by the author in 1994, and discusses the application of the concepts from “boundary theory” to the institution of Freemasonry.
John Cooper is a Past Grand Secretary of the Masonic Grand Lodge of California, having served for almost eighteen years when he retired in 2008. He holds a Ph.D. in Education from Claremont Graduate School, and before becoming Grand Secretary, he held various teaching and administrative posts in the public schools of California. A Mason since 1964, John served as Master of James A. Foshay Lodge No. 641 in Los Angeles, and is both a Thirty-Third Degree Mason in the Scottish Rite, and a Knight of the York Cross of Honor in the York Rite. His primary interest in Freemasonry has been the history and philosophy of the Craft, and he has published numerous papers on Freemasonry. He also served as Master of both Northern and Southern California Research Lodges, and is currently on the board of directors of the oldest Masonic research organization in the United States, the Philalethes Society.