Monday, October 29, 2007

We'll get back to running the world after we read the minutes from last meeting and pay the bills!

I just love going to anti mason sites to get the newest wacko theory, like how global warming is "Brother" Gore's plan for continued Freemason domination (is he even a Mason?). As much as I don't want to give credence to their existence, I still love to check them out once in a while for pure fun. For me, they are like the Weekly World News, as dumb as "Bat Boy Found" was as a headline the W.W.W. always had a great picture and some other crazy sub story that kept my minds attention for more than I care to admit at the grocery store check out aisle, its much the same at the anti sites. But I do not want to write about my favorite kooks, I have a much more important and pressing matter that I want to address.

The Minutes........ or as they become for some of the brothers, nap time.

After the debacle of the fumbling Fellowcraft my lodge is getting back to business. Unless there is a petition to be voted on, we will be having our stated communication and a regular business meeting. How boring. If there is one thing that I could change about my lodge it is our regular business meetings. I know that an organization needs to have records and pay bills but is there any way to do it better?
First of all I would like to somehow get rid of reading the minutes of the last meeting. If there is one time that I look around the lodge and see the brethren daydreaming or even worse really dreaming it is during the reading of the minutes. I think we really have a solution to interrogating terrorists properly, sit them through the reading of the minutes and if they are still awake at the end they will give us all the information we want! But I digress, I have read and daydreamed about a traditional observance lodge or a European style lodge as we call it here in America and I believe that they do not read minutes. Is this true? How do brothers at those lodges catch up on their sleep? ha ha. I would really like to hear about ideas on how to record the lodge proceedings and check that the Secretary is not making stuff up without going about boring the whole lodge.
Secondly I would welcome any ideas to breeze past the bill paying and voting on them, that only take a few minutes. I know the bills have to be voted on and paid but there has to be a better way.
Maybe if we streamlined the business aspect and turned to more interesting use of our two times a month to get together, we would see more brethren on the sidelines. I don't know if this is the case at your lodge but it certainly is the case at mine.

And they think that we run the world during our meetings!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Night Traveled Well

On Saturday evening I had the honor and pleasure of visiting the newest lodge in the state of Connecticut, Universal Fraternity #149.
A while back I was picking up some supplies from a local store and noticed the man behind the counter was wearing a ring with the square and compasses on it. Being a newly raised Master Mason and newly installed Senior Steward, I too had my ring on, and mentioned to him that we were brothers. A smile came across his face when he then saw my ring and we began to talk about the fraternity. I excitedly told him that I was the new Senior Steward at my lodge and he explained that he had just been installed as the Senior Warden at U.F. #149. I did not recognize the name of the lodge from my numerous viewings of the list of lodges in the state of CT, but after our meeting and promises of mutual visitation I found it right at the bottom of the page on the G.L. website.
I have popped in from time to time and kept up with my brother and a couple weeks back he mentioned that he was going to be stepping up to the East and doing a Master Masons Degree. I told him I was rehearsing the G lecture (ugh!) and promised that I would definitely make it up to his lodge to see him do the MM degree.
It had been hard for me to come and visit him because his lodge meets on the first and third Saturday evening of the month and my family has something planned most Saturday evenings. I finally got clearance from the boss (my wife) and proceeded on with my first visitation to another lodge on my own, because I could not get anyone from my lodge to travel with me, it being a Saturday night and also our Grand Lodge was having its annual session that morning so my mentor, who I have done all of my traveling with, could not come.
After a 30 minute or so drive I finally pulled up to the lodge, and as much as I had sped to get there, arrived 6 minutes later than I had wanted to be. I hurriedly walked into a very well attended lodge and after giving a wave to my friend in the West, sat down just as they were getting under way of opening the lodge. A brother on the other side of the lodge got my attention and reminded me that I had forgot to grab an apron which is needed of course to sit in a lodge, duh, so I stepped out to quickly grab a visitors apron. The Tiler was digging through a box of officers aprons and putting them on a chair when I asked him for a visitors apron. He muttered something and pointed to the aprons he was putting on the chair, all I saw were officers aprons, and while I looked around the waiting room for a visitors apron the Junior Deacon shut the door to the lodge so they could open. I asked the Tiler again and he explained that the officers aprons were the visitors aprons (that was all they had left), so I grabbed a Tilers apron that was on top and tried to enter the lodge when the Tiler, sword in hand, excitedly told me that I could not go in because they were opening. I thought since they were not tiled yet I could sneak back in before the gavel fell, but you don't argue with a Haitian man with a sword! Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that my friend and all of the officers of Universal Fraternity #149 are from Haiti.
Sitting outside the lodge in disappointment, I heard the first difference between my lodge and 149, I heard singing. Following along with the muffled voices inside, instead of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance they sang the National Anthems of the United States and Haiti (I think it was the Haitian National Anthem because it was in French). Then I deduced from the point of the ritual I believed they were at sang some song (again in french) while the three lesser lights were lit. It was such a strange yet wonderful thing to hear singing coming from the inside of a lodge room.
I finally was allowed to enter, salute the WM, who by that time was my friend who had stepped up to the East and returned to the seat I had sat in before, this time with an apron. They put on a great degree, which I thoroughly enjoyed and without giving up anything, I will say they did many things different including the singing and using a censer (a vessel with burning incense) at various points during the degree. I left greatly uplifted and happy to have visited my brother and his welcoming lodge.
I have read that our fraternity in the past often sang during lodge meetings and without much ado, what happened? I grew up in a family that sang together at family functions ( its not really that hard, after a few pops, to get any Irishman singing!). I have always enjoyed singing with friends and family in many different situations. I know in our world of I-Pods and XM Radio it is becoming rarer by the day when people gather to sing songs together, when they can so easily play their favorite artist or artists from something the size of a book of matches and I think we are worse off because of it. I know we are all not Pavarotti, but even the worst singer in the world can have fun while singing in a big group, and when the group is big or loud enough they cant even hear you.
I will definitely return to 149 and look forward to hearing singing in a lodge again.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Fumbling Fellowcsaft Degree (its even affected my spelling)

Today I wish I was writing about an inspiring night where universal truths were transmitted unimpaired to a worthy candidate but alas, I can not.
Have you ever seen the footage of the Hindenburg exploding? Well, that is about how the night went last night.
It all started rather innocently with a couple of brothers gathered together to break bread before the degree and rapidly deteriorated. I should have smelled it in the air the night before when our Junior Deacon called me to let me know that he could not get out of a board meeting and woul not make it for the degree. Unforeseen stuff happens, so I quickly shot out an email to the WM and Chaplain to scramble together a replacement. We were already short a Junior Steward who was on duty at work that night, but we always manage to round up enough brothers to make things work. So, as we ate a little dinner we solidified who would be sitting where and who was coming in to help.
Our candidate was going out side for a bit of fresh air so I accompanied him and decided there was enough time to pollute the fresh air with a cigar from my humidor, I brought with me for the occasion. We were joined soon enough by a few more brothers and were having a friendly pow wow when an unfamiliar car pulled up to the lodge. And as I pulled on my tasty cigar I recognized the Right Worshipful District Deputy stepping out from his car and gathering his regalia for a surprise visit! I have sat in lodge with him many times and was excited to have him join us but one of our newer Master Masons who was doing the Stewards lecture was absolutely petrified. The DD hung out for a while with those of us who were outside and then went inside to give our WM a good jolt. After the DD went inside, the petrified brother who was doing the Stewards lecture practically begged me to stand in for him for his lecture. I told him not to be worried and shared my own problems with memorizing and we all proceeded inside to start the degree.
I had spent the entire day either listening to or reciting the G lecture without stop. I got to the point where, although not entirely without pause, I could do the whole thing from memory and with some feeling.
The degree went on quite swimmingly. We made it through the first part without a hitch until we came to the Working Tools. I wondered what was going on when the brother who was giving the lecture stumbled a bit when he opened the box that holds our working tools and never gave each tool to the candidate as was customary in our lodge. He explained later that he was quite surprised to find the working tools of a Master Mason when he opened the box. He was given the wrong box of tools! I give him much credit because this was his first time giving a lecture and other than a stumble and giving the lecture with an open box of wrong tools he did quite well. There was something in the air!
After the break we proceeded to the middle chamber. Again my M.O.A.L. hero (see previous post) gracefully danced his way through the longest lecture of the degree. I gained a new and profound respect for the lecture itself, call me crazy but I really love that lecture. Then came my turn.
I was about one minute into my lecture, and going strong, when I came to a momentary brain freeze. I looked up to the prompter for a little assistance and to my horror he was having a word with the WM and not looking at me. With terror I tried to conjure up the words that were missing from my mind all the while repeating the last word I uttered, looking from the prompter to the candidate, prompter, candidate, district deputy, candidate, prompter. As my prompter tried to find the place in the lecture I left off, my brain turned to complete mush. The word I was repeating appears a few times in the lecture and he prompted a line further down in the lecture. I completely lost my composure as I tried to bring him to the point where I left off and it was all down hill from there. There is a certain rhythm to doing lecture that once lost can not be recovered, especially when the flop sweat is flowing for more than just a second. With much prompting I stumbled my way through the rest of the lecture and in utter dismay returned to my seat. But the pain was not over, being the go to guy in my lodge came back to bite me in the ass.
Before I was able to regain my seat, I caught the partner in the Stewards lecture of the petrified brother waving me towards him mouthing that he needed me to do the lecture with him. I had not even glanced at the lecture, being firmly ensconced in memorizing the G lecture, but like a lamb being led to slaughter I returned before the candidate to do an unmemorized, unrehearsed Stewards lecture. On our way to the North East corner of the lodge he asked me whether I wanted to do the questions or answers and being as confident as I was at that time chose to do the answers because I had always done the answer side of the lecture. Unfortunately for the candidate and all others sitting through the painful experience, the Past Master who was on the other side of the lecture had rehearsed the answer side, so we both, with much prompting, fumbled our way through the entire thing. After all was said and done I sat back in my chair just waiting for the lodge to be closed.
The prompter who is our Chaplain, and my mentor, told me afterward that he is so used to me breezing through lecture that he glanced away to answer a question posed by the WM without a thought of my needing a prompt. Afterwards I apologised to the newest Fellowcraft who I have been mentoring and promised extra special mentorship (is that a word?) to get him proficient for his MM degree.
Over a well needed adult beverage the DD reassured me that it happens to everyone and said I did a fine job, considering. The same was repeated by many of my brethren but, in my head it was a night to go down in infamy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


To memorize or not to memorize, I know its a big topic of conversation all over the masonic blogosphere and I am currently entrenched in a battle with my brain to memorize a lecture for an upcoming Fellowcraft degree. Although I am not yet attempting the mother of all lectures (the M.C.) I am doing the G lecture in our upcoming degree which I am having a bit of trouble.
Early in my masonic career I was recognized as someone who had the wherewithal and talent to do lectures in degrees. I gave my first Working Tools lecture as a Fellowcraft to two E.A.'s receiving the degree just a little bit after I had been passed. It was quite an intimidating experience that I will never forget. I will also never forget the look of pride and handshake our Tiler gave me after my performance. I think I was a non entity in the lodge to some of the older brothers at that point and I felt that it opened their eyes to me as a mason.
When I received my 2nd degree I was so impressed with the M.C. lecture that I received, that I have held it as the epitome of a great lecture and have tried to emulate the performance in all of my subsequent lectures. It was given without a prompt and with great feeling and stately delivery.
I can see now just how impressive it was to deliver, it is an incredibly long lecture to memorize and give. I have given numerous Working Tools witch I thought were not so bad to learn. I have given the E.A. First Section Lecture a couple of times which seemed long when I first looked at it but turned out much easier than thought because it is given with a partner. I think the question answer format is quite helpful in learning and delivery. So when we were planning our upcoming F.C. degree I wanted to do something different so, as much as I would have liked to give the M.O.A.L. (Mother Of All Lectures) M.C., I volunteered for the G lecture which I thought was a good primer for my lecturing future.
I was very excited at first look of it. It conveyed great truths and ideas and was right up my esoteric alley so to speak. But after more than a month of reading it out loud and in my head I find that by the middle of the lecture even my head tunes out for a while. I can do the beginning and the end and a couple of parts in the middle but I am having a hard time doing the whole thing.
I decided to take a break and do this post hoping that maybe my few readers would have some suggestions with the art of memorization, but I know I have to get back to the grinder to get it right before Thursday night. I know in the end I will pull it off, I just needed a break from my own voice ringing in my head with the same thing over and over again! Memorization can be the pits!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Northeast Corner (a little Light from the Northeastern Corner)

SHORT TALK BULLETIN - Vol.27 October, 1927 No.10
by: Unknown
Surely no Mason ever forgets the moment when he is placed in the Northeast Corner of the Lodge, and hears the Master say, that he there stands a just and upright Mason. It is one of the thrills along the great journey of initiation, a point at which the idea and purpose of Masonry begin to take shape in the mind.
A thrill of joy is felt in the Lodge, not only by the initiate but by the Master and the Brethren, as if a son had been born, or a new friend found; a note of exaltation on having arrived at so happy a climax, as when a pilgrim pauses to rejoice in so much of a journey done. And naturally so, because the Corner Stone of a Mason’s life has been laid.
Always, as far back as we can go in the story of mankind, the laying of a Cornerstone has been a happy event. It has always been celebrated with solemn and joyous rites. It is the basis of a new building, the beginning of a new enterprise; and the good will of God is invoked to bless the builders and the building.
How much more, then, should it be so when a man takes the first step out of Darkness toward the Light, and begins the adventure of a new life! More important by far then Temple or Cathedral is the building of a moral character and a spiritual personality. Stones will rot and Temples crumble under the attrition of time, but moral qualities and spiritual values belong to the Eternal Life.
The initiate stands in the Northeast Corner on a foundation of Justice, the one virtue by which alone a man can live with himself or with his fellows. Without it no structure will stand, in architecture, as Ruskin taught us, much less in morals. In the Rite of Destitution he has learned to love Mercy, and at the Altar of Obligation prayer has been offered, in fulfillment of the words of the prophet:
“He hath Shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love Mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God!”
In the Northeast Corner the initiate stands midway between the North, the place of darkness, and the East, the place of Light, whence healing, revealing rays fall upon the life of man. Such is his position, symbolically, and rightly so. He is an Entered Apprentice, a beginner in the Masonic Art, neither in the Dark nor in the Light. He has come out of the Darkness, his face set toward the Light, and his quest is for more Light, with yet much light to dawn upon him. What is life for? To live, of course; and only by living it do we learn what it is for, much less how live it. It is ever an adventure, a new adventure for each man, despite the millions that have lived before us, since, as Keats said about poets, “We Never Really Understand Fine Things Until We Have Gone The Same Steps As The Author.” Only by living can we learn what life is, verifying the wisdom of ages alike by our virtues and our vices.
Yet it means much to have the wisdom learned by ages of living taught us in symbols and told us in a story, as it is taught us and told us in a Masonic Lodge. It brings to us the truth tried by time and tragedy, and the principles wrought out and discovered by the race in its long experience. It gives us a plan, a picture, a prophecy, and the fellowship of men going the same road.
The initiate stands Erect in the Northeast Corner, upright and ready to receive his working tools, a son of the Light, himself a living stone to be polished. What is more wonderful, what more beautiful, than Youth standing erect before God - not cringing, not groveling - seeking the Light by which to make its way through the dim country of this world to the City that hath foundations! Truly, our Masonry is the organized poetry of faith!
But why the Northeast Corner? Would not some other corner of the Lodge do as well? Perhaps it would, but Masonry is very old, going back into a time far gone, when ordinary things had meanings, real or imaginary, beyond their practical use. Such a question opens a window into things quaint, curious, and even awful; and all sorts of explanations are offered us, some of which may be named.
For example, Albert Pike spread out the map of the old world of the East - the mystical territory whence so many of our symbols and legends have come - and found that “The Apprentice represents the Aryan race in it original home on the highlands of Pamir, in the north of that Asia termed Orient, at the angle whence, upon two great lines of emigration South and West, they flowed forth in successive waves to conquer and colonize the world.”
Well, what of it, interesting though it may be as a fact of long ago, if a fact it is? What truth can it teach us to our profit, beyond the suggestion that the House of Initiation took the form of the world as it was then mapped in the mind, and that the procession of initiation follows the line of march of a conquering race? It may be valuable, as preserving the dim outline of ancient history - but not otherwise.
Another student, seeking the secret of Masonry in solar symbolism and mythology, looks at the same map of the Eastern World, in the frame of an Oblong Square, studying the movements of the Sun from season to season. He finds that the point farthest North and the point farthest South on the map mark the Summer and Winter Solstices, respectively. In other words, the Northeast Corner of the World, as them mapped, is the point in the annual course of the Sun when it reaches the extreme northern limit; the longest day in the year, which in Masonry we dedicate to St. John the Baptist, the Prophet of righteousness.
Then, turning to the history of religion, he finds, not unnaturally, many rites of primitive peoples - magical rituals and Midsummer Night Dreams - celebrating the Summer Solstice. Many hints and relics of the old Light Religion are preserved for us in Masonry - rays of its faiths and fictions - one of them being that the Northeast Corner of the Universe, and so of the Lodge of which it is a symbol, is the seat of the Sun-God in the prime of his power.
So, too, the Northeast Corner, as the throne of God in hour of his majesty, became a place unique in the symbols of man, having special virtue and sanctity. As we read in the Institutes of Menu: “If he has any incurable disease, let him advance in a straight path towards the invincible northeast point, feeding on water and air till his mortal frame totally decays, and his soul becomes united with the Supreme.” What more appropriate a place from which to start an edifice, or to place an Apprentice as he begins to build the Temple of his Masonic life?
Also, because of such magical ideas associated with the Northeast Corner, it was a cruel custom for ages to bury a living human being under the corner stone of a building, to mollify the Gods, and, later, as a token of the sacrifice involved in all building. Horrible as the custom was, here no doubt was a crude sense of the law of sacrifice running through all human life, never to be escaped, even by the loftiest souls, as we see on a dark cross outside the city gate.
In the crude ages all things were crude; even the holiest insights took awful shapes of human sacrifice. Life is costly, and man has paid a heavy price for the highest truth. For there is a law of heavenly death by which man advances - the death, that is, of all that is unheavenly within him - that the purer, clearer truth may rise. Evermore, by a law of dying into life, man grows - dying to his lower, lesser self and releasing the angel hidden within him. Thinking of all these strands of thought and faith and sorrow woven into the symbolism of the Lodge, how can any one watch without emotion as the Apprentice takes his place, upright and eager, in the Northeast Corner. There he stands, against a background of myth, symbol and old sacrifice, erect before God, and one thinks of the great words in the Book of Ezekiel:
“And God said unto me, Son of Man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee. And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me.” Such is the challenge of God to the manhood of man, asking him to stand erect and unafraid, and commune as friend to friend. Alas, it is not easy to keep the upright posture, physically or morally, in the midst of the years with their blows and burdens. At last, a dark Ruffian lays us low in death, and only the Hand of God, with its strong grip, can lift us from a dead level and set us on our feet forever. So, at least, Masonry teaches us to believe and live:
Lord, I believe
Man is no little thing
that, like a bird in spring,
Comes fluttering to the Light of Life,
And out of the darkness of long death.
The breath of God is in him,
And his age long strife
With evil has a meaning and an end.
Though twilight dim his vision be
Yet can he see Thy Truth,
And in the cool of evening,
Thou, his friend, Dost walk with him, and talk Did not the Word take flesh?
Of the great destiny
That waits him and his race.
In days that are to be
By grace he can achieve great things,
And, on the wings of strong desire,
Mount upward ever, higher and higher,
Until above the clouds of earth he stands, And stares God in the face.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Subduing My Passions

While coaching an Entered Apprentice recently I began reflecting anew upon one of the ideas expressed in the degree, subduing my passions.

I feel sometimes this very important instruction to the new brother gets lost among working tools and the whole experience of the first degree. Being bent upon esotericism like I am, I feel this is probably one of the utmost instructions that we all receive and I constantly remind myself the importance of it.

Passion is a powerful feeling that we all have definitely felt at one time or another for something or someone. It's a chord struck in our soul that cant be silenced. I have, without a doubt succumbed to the spark of passion and let it burn bright, almost to the point of outshining all aspects of my life at one point or another. If you have never been passionate about something you have not lived. It is the spice of life. Passion though, like all spices, if overdone can overpower the the senses to the point of missing what is lies beneath. If we let the chord struck by passion to grow ever louder we cannot hear the rest of the music. That is a great lesson to be had.

It is impossible and undesirable to remove passion from our lives, but it is quite wise to learn to subdue it. By subduing our passions we can hear what is going on around us. If we were to go into lodge overcome with passion we would not be able to bring ourselves to the level needed to labor for the craft. I had many passions that prejudiced everything that I heard around me before I was a Freemason. I would go into a discussion and never really hear what the other people were saying because I would proselytise from my passions. I now am more aware of my passions and try to subdue them, and believe me it is not an easy thing to do, but I labor on.

What come you here to do?

To learn to subdue my passions and improve myself in Masonry.

Have you?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Do You Wear A Masonic Ring?

I was never a big fan of jewelery, well....except for those earrings I wore back in the 90's, that was the style back then. I remember when my wife and I just got engaged, I told her that I probably would never wear my wedding ring because I had never wore a ring and also I worked with my hands and the ring could get caught in whatever machinery I use daily (ha ha). As you can imagine that did not go over quite well with the misses and after the first week of playing around with it on my finger after the wedding, I got quite used to it and find my poor excuses quite funny now looking back.
Well the earrings are now gone and now I wear a ring on each hand, my wedding band and my masonic ring. After I became a Master Mason I spent endless hours perusing E-Bay and the Web looking for that perfect masonic ring to show my membership in the oldest fraternity in the world. I ended up with two, one that I wear everyday to work that is very simple and a more opulent one for evenings and lodge. My wife made a quip the first time I wore my fancy one about how she remembers me fighting not to wear a ring and now I own three! (sweet redemption for her) Although it took me a bit more time to get used to my masonic ring because it is on my right hand and I am a righty, it too has become a fixture of my wardrobe. I was so excited to wear it after my raising and continue to wear it because it is still one of the best advertisements for our fraternity other than me, myself. Although my masonic ring hardly gets noticed by any one, when it does, I light up and can espouse the benefits and glory of our great institution.
Now here is my question. I have run into many brothers when not in lodge and have seen them without the rings they wear to lodge. Why is this so?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Esoteric.... Run for the Hills!

Why is it that when the word esoteric is mentioned, most brothers want to either laugh it off or skirt the subject at all cost.

Last year I read W. L. Wilmshurst's "The Meaning of Freemasonry", which I thought was quite a good exploration of the more esoteric aspects of The Craft. I remember wanting so bad to discuss some of the more thought provoking subjects in the book at Lodge, but there is almost never a chance during our meetings for discussion. The majority of our time in Lodge is spent initiating new brothers, or preparing to do so. Sometimes it seems to me the whole purpose of my lodge seems to be bringing in new brothers. Now don't get me wrong. My lodge like many others, is growing greyer by the day and absolutely needs new blood to keep things going. But initiating and advancing new brothers cant be the end all be all of our existence. Other than curious specimens like myself, that will keep at something even when there is not much to be had, most young men my age need something other than a meal and small talk and a degree to stay interested in the craft. Again, degree work is very important to the Craft, but I would like to know what happened to the Masonic scholarship that seemed to occur within our walls in the past. Sure we have some education nights, but they almost always revolve around some aspect of the ritual.

What happened to the Masonic thinking of the past that sparked the minds that enlightened the world. Why is it so hard for men, particularly brothers, nowadays to sit around and discuss the more thought provoking aspects of our time. We live in a world that our forefathers could not have even imagined, where communication is easier than eating and yet it seems the best things we can talk about are sports or entertainment. Maybe I am a left over soul from days gone by but there is nothing more interesting or fun for me than to have a discussion of heavy subjects with people who I respect and love.

Our institution is set up perfectly for this purpose. By removing the subjects of politics and religion, which can separate the best of friends, the founders of our order created an ideal forum for the exchange of free thought and information. I have read about traveling Masonic orators packing temples with men and can only imagine how exciting it must have been to be a Freemason back then. When I read transcripts of those speeches I am always amazed by the eloquence and thought of people, who on the majority did not have one tenth of the resources for learning that we take for granted.

The reason we go through the trouble of opening the lodge is to raise the attention level of all present, and to remind us that we are, at that time, not just a bunch of guys hanging out in a hall wearing fancy aprons and jewels. We are Freemasons bound by oath and obligation, committing ourselves to higher work. If we wanted to join just a charitable organization we could have joined the Exchange, Kiwanis, or Lions club or any of the many fine clubs that do just that, but we did not. I looked to join something that was much more than a social club that does charitable work. Did we go through three different initiations with heavy obligations just to get together twice a month and pay the bills or initiate someone new? We are not supposed to. We go through our opening to get us to a different place than the everyday world we live in and to do greater work for the benefit of our brotherhood and our fellow man.

Esoteric by definition of the Merriam-Websters Dictionary is:

1 a: designed for or understood by the specially initiated alone (a body of esoteric legal doctrine — B. N. Cardozo)

b: requiring or exhibiting knowledge that is restricted to a small group (esoteric terminology); broadly : difficult to understand (esoteric subjects)

2 a: limited to a small circle (engaging in esoteric pursuits)

Freemasonry is by these definitions an esoteric society that uses tools of the builder to teach moral lessons to a select few who are initiated into our order. Sometimes I think that the brothers who run away from the term "esoteric", when it comes to our fraternity don't even know what it means. When someone mentions that they are interested in esoteric aspects of Freemasonry around my lodge they are almost always directed to the two philosophical research lodges in our state. If those are the only lodges in Connecticut doing real Masonic work, why do the rest of the lodges in my state bother opening and closing for meetings?