Thursday, January 31, 2008

One Day Classes and My Two Cents

I would like to begin by stating that I am not in any way judging any Freemason that has or will (hopefully not) enter our Ancient organization by way of a "One Day Class", I would just like to add my two cents to the many diatribes against the faulty practice.

I understand how they came about.
"Modern man" after "modern man" telling the old guard of the craft that they would love to join the brotherhood, but three separate multi hour long arcane initiations is just too hard to fit in between work, going to the gym, and episodes of "24". My brethren caught between the ever pressing need of new members and the 300 year old enlightenment age traditions, deceided to take a page from the Scottish Rite's play book and fill large auditoriums with warm bodies to get as many dues paying members paying dues as quickly as possible. It was a short term solution to the problem of an entire generation of men who scorned their fathers and any traditional institution that they believed in or belonged to.
This was the generation that stopped going to church, hated our government, and lived in an selfish, love making, drug induced haze in the Id. Bodily pleasure was equated with happiness and the old men and women who saved the World from fascisim were thought to be stuck in a Beaver Cleaver fantasy world where women were forced into the slave lobor status of staying at home and caring for their family, while the men of the house wasted their free time holed up in smokey, boozed up clubs wearing weird hats. This traditional family was the antithesis to "free" living.
Skip forward a couple generations to the "x'ers". Some were raised by hippies, some by traditional hold outs, and most by families who were somewhere inbetween. Their grandparents were now being recognized as the "Greatest Generation" and their parents free living ways were reigned in by the necessity for paying bills and raising their families. This generation, of which I am a member of, were born into a world were there was an ever present looming evil of Communisim and nuclear war. We watched re runs on our black and white tv's when we were little, listened to our parents records on phonographs and later played games on those tv's where a line and dot represented the collest thing you have ever done (pong).
My family was more traditional with a little free living mixed in. I was raised never to judge someone on the basis of the color of their skin but the content of their character. We went to church on sunday but I was given the freedom to choose what I believed in, not told how. I never questioned that Lucy and Rickky Ricardo slept in separate beds or that June Cleaver was always baking cookies, I just loved the simple stories of families living their lives. My grandfather served in World War II and my father did two tours in Vietnam. They instilled in me a deep love for my country and an understanding of what it is to serve.
They were also both Knights of Columbus, so I kind of grew up around a fraternal world. As I became a man I had always knew I would join an organization like the Knights, but the Catholic exclusivity of the Knights never rang right in my heart. None the less, I still almost became one after my stint in the Navy due to the extremely cheap beer and my love of the sudsy beverage but I could never get myself to one of the introductory meetings.
As I matured and married and had kids I longed for an organization to belong to. After having read about Freemasonry in various books and seeing one too many History Channel programs I deceided that Freemasonry was what I was looking for. I then went into research mode and read everything I could click or get my hands on about the fraternity. The more I read the more I liked everything about what the order stood for. When I took that first step it was not blindly but it was certainly alone, because I did not know anyone who was in or had ever had any contact with Masonry.
I must admit that in my research I had read an expose that detailed the first degree before I went through it, and I have regretted it ever since I actually went through it. The initiation would have been all the more meaningful without the knowledge of what was going to happen next. I did not read about the last two degrees and would not trade in those experiences for anything, they were truely sublime. I took the whole initiation experience very seriously and paid strict attention to the brethren delivering the arcane knowledge and reflected upon the symbols afterward. It was the foundation that I have built my love for the craft on.
If, after all that research and reflection and the hard decision to petition for the mysteries of Freemasonry, I had been stuck in an audience watching an exemplar going through the initiation I wanted to be a part of, I would have been extremely dissapointed with my decision to join. It is the mystery and personal experience of the whole thing that forges the chain of union that holds together our brotherhood. If we all lived up to that brotherhood vow a little more, we would be in a entirely different place than we are now. We have to return the dignity and specialness that is the main difference of our order and other organizations out there.
I dont believe Connecticut is going to do anymore one day classes. If a man needs to be made a Mason in one day because of the time constraints of his life he needs to search for some other fraternity, we need men who want to spend time with their brothers, not just dues paying warm bodies never to be seen in lodge again.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Chance Inspiration

It was your run of the mill Sunday.
Got up from bed, had breakfast, and read the paper. Then church, lunch, and I brought my girls for a visit with their grandparents. The visit to my parents tied in with the need for my wife and I to go to a visitation, or wake, of her co-workers brother who had died of an early heart attack.
We dropped off the girls and plugged into our GPS the address of the Baptist Church in Yonkers, New York and were on our way.
The drive wasn't too bad at all and before we knew it we were being guided by satellite through the confusing streets of Yonkers. I never saw the movie "Lost in Yonkers" but I can certainly relate to the title because of the many times I found myself lost in that city, though not anymore due to the miracle of modern science and cheaper electronics. As we made our way through the city, we crested a hill and went down a street that over looked the Hudson River, the view was beautiful. As we approached the church we were forced to take a few laps through the surrounding streets because there were cars parked everywhere. On our second turn around the block I started to notice some Square and Compasses emblems on some of the cars, nothing new because since I have joined the craft, I have kind of a S&C radar for car bumpers and am always on the lookout for a Brother. The strange thing was how many I was noticing as we looked for a spot to park our car on the overcrowded city streets. I asked my wife if her co-workers brother was a Mason, to which she replied that she did not know.
We finally found a spot and proceeded to the church. It was a beautiful stone church on the hill overlooking the Hudson and when we entered its packed interior it became clearer that he was indeed, a brother Mason as I saw someone holding a white apron in the entry hall where the visitors book was. Not only was he a Mason, it turned out that he was a Past Master of his Prince Hall lodge as his body, the vehicle that held his soul, was adorned with the apron of a Past Master. The visit all of a sudden turned from supporting one of my wife's friends,to saying goodbye to a brother I never knew.
After giving his family our most sincere condolences we sat down in the back of the church to pray. As we sat down I noticed about 60-75 women in front of us wearing black hats that looked like fezzes. They were all dressed in black with long stemmed red roses pinned to their left lapels. Although they wore no pins or had any adornment on their hats I assumed they were a Masonic order. When my wife asked, I said that they were either Order of The Eastern Star or Daughters of the Nile, of which the former turned out to be true.
After noticing a man with a Marshall's baton, in white gloves and apron in the back door I whispered to my wife that she was about to see her first Masonic memorial service. It was exciting for me also, because I had never seen a Masonic memorial outside of my jurisdiction, let alone a Prince Hall one.
Behind the Marshall I saw the familiar staffs of the Junior and Senior Deacons carried by their respective officers and behind them was a man in a Derby hat, who had to be the Worshipful Master. The usual retinue of about 9 or so brothers marched in with him, nothing special, it was what happened next that amazed me. After setting up the officers at the front of the church the Marshall proceeded to the back of the church and led in what had to be 100 brothers dressed in black suits , white gloves and aprons, and that number is on the conservative side. They stood along both sides of the church and in rows at the back because of their great number and this was not a small church. Next came some brothers in familiar red trimmed Royal Arch aprons, but they wore hats that I had never seen before, they began the memorial with an address from their Chapter and gave his family a scroll with his achievements on it.
Next came the Masonic memorial delivered by the W.M., from memory, which was quite impressive as it was much longer than the standard service that we use in Connecticut. I cant recall all of the details, but it had many parts just like the service I have performed before, but with singing (we need to sing more!) and some preaching mixed in. It is hard to describe the feeling of being surrounded by over one hundred Brothers in Masonic regalia singing together and all at once producing a sprig of evergreen for their fallen brother. After commending his spirit to god who gave it, the assembled brethren deposited, one by one, their evergreens upon their brother craftsman who had been called to the celestial lodge. After the Brethren all proceeded out in procession, the Matron of the Eastern Star Chapter gathered the roses from the Sisters and gave them to the family and then they too proceeded out.
He was not a Grand Master, or some high ranking member of the order, just a Past Master of his lodge and there were more Masons assembled to dignify the passing of their Brother than I have seen at the largest gathering of Connecticut Masons I have yet been to.
It was at once extremely moving and embarrassing at the same time because of how hard it seems to pull my brethren from their lives to perform any Masonic deed. It was a look back for me into how it must have been to be a Mason in my own city 50 years ago when the craft was thriving. During the ceremony I could not help myself from joining the "So Mote It Be's" and doing the hand motions of the memorial. I even found my self putting my right hand to my heart in the sign of fidelity every time the W.M. removed his hat. I wish that I had an apron to wear because, if I could have, I would have proudly been a part of the final act of brotherhood to a man I did not even know. He must have been a truly great man because at the young age of 46 he had so many people paying respects to him, or perhaps the Brotherhood in his lodge is stronger.
I have read and heard how most Prince Hall Lodges would put the "mainstream" lodges to shame with their true devotion to the craft and its principles and flawless ritual. I have now seen it with my own eyes, Prince Hall Freemasonry is every bit the same craft as I practice and more. The supreme travesty of our time is that there are still Grand Lodges in our Nation that do not recognize these men as Brothers.
I left that memorial prouder than I ever have to be a Mason. The love for their brother and dedication to the craft that they showed had me wishing that they all knew that I was one of them. I am ashamed that some other so called Brothers would not think the same. We should stop the injustice that is a disgrace to the craft and everyone of us so called "mainstream" Masons. We, as a fraternity should do everything in our collective power to change the minds of the Grand Lodges that do not recognise our brethren. We should do it, not because it will be hard, but because until every man that lives up to the high honor and privilege that is being a Freemason, is recognised as a brother by us all, we ourselves fall short of the title.
There is much work to be done...
Was it by chance that I was there, or as I am now seeing more and more clearly, that in a life lived truly there are no chance happenings.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Philosophy and My Hammer

Ten years or so ago, which now seems like a lifetime, I took a philosophy class at my local community college. Being a self taught student of philosophy I was so excited to take the course, that I was the first person to arrive for every class, notebook in hand, with a head full of ideas and opinions to share with my first organized class of one of my favorite subjects. It became a terrible disappointment. Unlike some of the other classes I took, where there was allot of discussion and creative thought, the philosophy class was more of a read what they wrote, understand, and reiterate.
I had significantly different opinions than that of the philosophers we studied and I was constantly challenging the professor with counterpoints from my own personal philosophy. I also challenged the fact that the whole course revolved around the history Greco-Roman philosophy. I did not want to throw out their ideas, but I wanted to also discuss the philosophies of the rest of the world, particularly the Eastern philosophies that I had more of a spiritual connection to. For our final paper the professor asked for an essay on our own philosophy based on what we were taught that semester.

I wrote a paper on my philosophy based on what I believed. It was full of well thought out arguments on our existence and purpose, and also full of what I thought was wrong with the philosophies our Western civilization was founded on. He gave me a C, which ruined my perfect grade point average up to that point. I was very disappointed because it was a really good paper, but it was just not what my professor wanted. Looking back I wish I had lifted some of the blinders of stubborn personal thought and opinion and listened a little more to the Greco-Roman philosophies. When I read them now, with the much less prejudicial view that comes with maturity of thought, I can appreciate them much more. Although I still have my own opinions on philosophy, I can now hear their voices more clearly now that I have learned to subdue my own passions and turn off my own opinions while listening to someone else, no matter how much I may disagree with them.

This skill is definitely one I did not have before my entrance into Freemasonry and I am all the more better for it.

I am currently reading about the ancient philosophies and mystery schools and gaining great light from those schools of thought that I had previously been so opposed to. This is part of my "I'm Gonna Swing The Hammer" mantra this year. Many of my readers implored me not to give up reading all together after reading that post because that was kind of how the post sounded. That was not my point. Instead of reading the thousands of books about the craft, its history, and its symbols, I am doing what our ritual asks of us. I am turning inward and improving myself with the study of the liberal arts and sciences. As or ritual states:

"The internal, and not the external qualifications of a man, are what Masonry regards."

It will be through the study of grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy that I will polish my rough ashlar, this year and from now on, not someones history or explanation of our order. Amazon need not fear the loss of my revenue!
Masonic Education need not be a lecture on a subject given on the floor of the lodge. It should be discussions that send the brethren home thinking of how they can polish their own rough ashlar. If more brethren did what I am doing, lodge would be an amazing place to go to, a place where you would not have to find an excuse to go or not, you would not want to miss a meeting.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Truth in Numbers


I was always horrible at math. I never learned my times tables, I still sometimes count on my fingers and some of the simplest equations take my head an extra moment to figure out. I had to take pre-algebra 3 times. It is just not my forte. I got a Nintendo DS for Christmas from my wife and it has a game called Brain Age that through simple games tells how old your brain is. The ideal brain age is 20, I am 33, after a couple of tests including subtracting back from 107 by 9's it tells me my brain is 57! UGH!! If it asked me to explain Locke's Two Treatises of Government, I would blow it away. That's just how my grey matter works. But back to numbers.

Even though I cant do math, I love to ponder the truth of math. I like to think that if there is any truth it must be in math. It just adds up, no matter who is doing the interpretation, there is no getting around the fact that 1+1=2. Substitute the numerals with anything; apples, triangles, trucks, ships, or all seeing eyes, the simple truth is that if you take something and group it with another something you have two somethings.

When we search for truth there is no better example than math because it is true.
Now, I don't know a thing about how mathematicians and theoretical physicists do it but we have proof in everything around us that the universe can be deciphered via the magic of math. Somehow a bunch of eggheads doing complex equations figured out how to split an atom let alone prove they exist!
Math and the beauty of it is proof of a divine architect to me. As those eggheads delve deeper into a unification theory they come closer to understanding divinity because it keeps getting simpler.
If you have 16 minutes I would highly recommend viewing the video below from If you don't know about, just check it out. My good friend shared it with me and I cant get enough. I could not figure out how to put the video pn my page so follow the link.
If we did this kind of education in lodge we could start changing the world again.
And to all the eggheads of the world, please take no offense, I wish I were an egghead.!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Grand Buildings and Grand Lodges

Many magnificent masonic monuments have fallen from the hands of the craft over the past 20 years or so and my question is how can we stop and or reverse this trend. The building that houses my lodge is a perfect example of a valuable architechural gem that was lost to the decline of the 80's and 90's. I have read countless stories of this building or that building being sold. The usual reason is the cost of maintenance and the lack of interest in the fraternity.That was the case with our temple. If you have read any of my posts in the past you would know that it was the building that helped to pique my interest (obsession) in Freemasonry.

It is an old brownstone building erected in 1892 and its original purpose was an auxiliary chapel for the local Episcopal church. Relatively soon after its completion interest and inclination returned to the original church across the river and the chapel was left unused. Our lodge had met in many different buildings around the city and it was the vision of one man who with much help of the brethren and much expense sought to permanently house our lodge in the chapel. This was finally achieved in 1912. Three years later during our 150th anniversary celebration former President and Brother Howard Taft addressed the assembled dignitaries in our temple building now embellished with beautiful stained glass windows depicting various symbols of our order. Over the years there were many improvements made and at its height our building housed various appendant bodies. Our stained glass windows were even featured in a movie produced by our grand lodge called "The Quiet Fraternity" you would think that such a treasure would be saved at all cost. Obviously the answer is no.
Now, before I go into this next tangent I want to state that I am in no way pointing my finger at anyone. I was not around when my lodge building was sold and have not even been told the whole story. All I have, is a patched together tale and the fact that we meet in a building we do not own anymore. I have some general questions that I would like to pose and these are for any masonic jurisdiction around the world but it will most likely apply to America.
Does anyone know of a Grand Lodge fund for the preservation of historic buildings/temples?
Has any Grand Lodge held onto a temple for a period until it could be saved by its own members or for future members? I ask this because once a lodge goes dark its property becomes that of its Grand Lodge and I want to know if it is true that they are usually immediately sold.
My local Prince Hall Lodge got to a point where the members decided to sell their building. When their Grand Lodge heard of this, the Grand Master sent out a summons to all the brethren of the lodge for a meeting where he implored them to get together and do what it would take to keep the building in their hands. Inspired by him they saved the building fro the auction block. I think this is a great story of a Grand Lodge coming to the rescue.
Does anyone belong to a lodge that is housed in a historic building?
If so, do you operate the building any differently than that of a more modern facility.
I ask this because I know of one lodge in New York that operates its building as a historical society for tax purposes and I would like some more insight into the process.
The reason I am asking all of these questions is because a growing number of my lodge Brothers and I have decided that we should make an effort to see if we could buy back our old building. I don't know if it is even possible because the current owners are settling in and the logistics of the whole thing might not even work, but we decided that we should try or move on to facilities that we could call home. If we were to regain ownership of our building it would be very helpful to us if we could operate as a museum or historical society so as the money that would normally go toward taxes could go toward restoration and maintenance.
That is the plan I have in my head and I don't know if it could work but if I could hear other stories, good and bad, perhaps I could provide some light for my brethren.
I have to admit that halfway through writing this post I wanted to delete it because of the futility of the whole matter and because I am probably grasping at straws but I have received much light from readers in the past so I continued on.
If you don't want to publish a response please email me at

Thursday, January 17, 2008


The snow held off.
The ceremony was beautiful.
I'm the one in the tuxedo!

Installation Excitement

Barring an act of God or an attack of the killer zombies, tonight I will be installed as the Junior Warden of my lodge, and boy am I excited.
Last night I had one of my Brethren over for a fire pit-side chat over a beautiful single malt and my favorite cigar. I had invited him over to help him with his lines for Junior Deacon. We are expecting 30 or so visitors for the installation and I wanted to help my brother polish his ritual. What should have been a couple of hours of practicing turned into a brain storm over the future of Old St. John's. This bother of mine is a diamond in the ruff. He had been a part turning an other organization in my city into thriving club. He started our conversation with how we need to do more charitable acts to gain recognition in our city which I retorted with Freemasonry is not a charity. Which kicked our conversation into overdrive.
Let me shed a little more light on my Brother. He is the Junior Deacon of my lodge and has been a luke warm participant in most of our meetings since I have joined. He has been a Mason for over four years and has been kind of swinging in the breeze because he was never really taught what our fraternity was really about.
He is the result of a "One Day Mason" class.
He was thrown into the craft without the time to reflect on the degrees.
After I addressed what I dreamed our lodge of becoming and gave a brief synopsis of the history of our order, he told me that he regrets being raised in one day because he never had the one on one interaction between mentor and candidate that goes on in between degrees. It is in these meetings that allot of the craft's history and purpose is explained to the new brother. He missed that and needed a catch up lesson which I gladly gave.
Clearing up on the purpose of a Freemasons Lodge we went about discussing the project we need to share between our brethren, restoring our lodge to its former glory. For the first time in a long time my Brother became excited about lodge. We decided that if we could have more fire pit-side chats with more of the new generation brethren in our lodge we could accomplish anything we set ourselves out to do.
Our job is a big one.
But like Daniel Burnham, Chicago architect (1894-1912); Director of Works for the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893; architect of the Chicago Masonic Temple said:
“Make no little plans. They have no magic to
stir men’s blood and probably themselves will
not be realized. Make big plans, aim high in
hope and work, remembering that a noble,
logical diagram once recorded will never die,
but long after we are gone will be a living thing,
asserting itself with ever-growing insistency.
Remember that our sons and grandsons are
going to do things that would stagger us. Let
your watchword be order and your beacon
beauty. Think big.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Creative Energies

Subduing your passions is hard.

I sometimes am easily overcome with a thought or idea and said thought or idea can consume my attention for a period of time. This was, yet again, pointed out to me by the Worshipful Master of my home (aka The Wife) who said that I was addicted to my blog. The statement came after I had yet again sat down at my computer to work on my new logo which I had been doing for about a week straight. Being a man, and a defensive one at that, I said in my oh so mature way "am not" and continued with what I was doing muttering to myself how she doesn't understand me. But, like with most admonitions, as the day passed by I saw the light and realized that I had become addicted.

I always wanted a Celtic Square and Compasses design and I had never been happy with my logo that I started the blog with. I had created it for my lodges first annual St. Patrick's Day Feast and it was my first attempt at a computer graphic. While at the time it did the job, it never lived up to the vision I had in my head and to top things off no one knew that the symbol in the middle was a G in Gaelic font. As my knowledge of the computer grew exponentially with my blog experience I longed for a better header for my blog. (I am so narcissistic)

My logo took an sharp upward jump after a conversation with my good friend, who I have mentioned a couple of times in my posts who is a graphic artist. He, after reading my blog too long and getting in trouble with his wife, did a quick upgrade to my little logo. This, in turn, jump started my creative energies.

The next evolution began with a pencil drawing session with my 4 year old daughter. While she was drawing a beautiful stick figure portrait of our newly bigger family, I came up with the overall outline of what I wanted on one of her 5x5 inch scraps of paper. She saw what I was drawing and said "Daddy you re drawing your lodge", which made me smile. I have brought her a couple of time to the lodge with me and she loves "the lodge guys".

I took that outline and moved on to my computer and the new graphic design program I purchased. As with most things that I take up, I jumped in head first not knowing a thing about what I was doing. I did manage somehow to point, drag, and click my way to a halfway decent outline of compasses which I proudly showed my friend during our long overdue old fashioned B.S. session. He then, with much wizardry, showed me more things in a couple of minutes than I had learned in the entire week I had been frustratingly playing around with the program. The creative flame was now fanned to the point of combustion.

I spent the next week, at any possible moment I could, furiously creating. Sometimes with a four year old climbing all over me, sometimes with a four week old squirming or sleeping in my arms. The result is the new header logo for my blog. If you dropped in on my blog before last night it was way too huge, because I couldn't figure out how to make it smaller. After some help from "webfixer" from the blogger help group and my good friend who tweaked my design I am now happy with my logo. Well not completely because being a perfectionist I will never be completely happy but I am light years from where I was.

As I told my wife later, after admitting my addiction which is the first step towards recovery, at least my addiction is leading towards creative things. Right?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Obligation and Self Interest

Being a part of a lodge that is coming upon another turning point in its history is sometimes hard. For almost 243 years my lodge has survived. Through revolutions, buildings, movings, hard times, good times, world wars, and declined interest, it has stood the test time for almost a quarter millennia. Man that is a long time. Thousands of men have held office in the lodge. It is a heavy responsibility entering the South this year on my way to the Oriental Chair. To tell you the truth there is not many moments where I don not think of how the fate of such an old institution is in my hands. It is daunting.

We are a lodge with no real home.

We are a lodge who's numbers can only decrease incrementally no matter how many we can bring in.

The men who have held the torch for so long will be vacating important positions and it will be up to me and my contemporaries to run the next leg.

After the New Year I decided to tell my mentor that I was guilty of blogging under a pseudonym. I am really proud of what I have built here and wanted to share with one of my Lodge Brothers my thoughts. It was not an easy decision to make. My semi-anonymity provided a curtain to hide behind so my rants or raves could be pure and uninfluenced by thinking about someone getting offended. It served a purpose but it made me uneasy because I have nothing to hide. The thoughts I have published for the whole wide world to read needed to be entered into the forum of discussion of my lodge. I will freely admit that my disclosure to my mentor has already affected my posting. There have been a couple of things that I would have had no problem sharing before I knew someone at my lodge might read it and know about. Nothing earth shattering or scandalous but as I writer there is now a bell that goes off when I write about mt experiences. C'est la vie.

I am happy that I can now at least have a force on the sidelines knowing what I dream about doing with Old St. John's.

There is much work to be done.

The first thing we need is a crop of candidates who want to rebuild this old group as much as I want to.

For to long it has been up to one man, who like atlas, has carried the great burden of keeping the lodge alive upon his shoulders. He has done everything. He has single handily ran my lodge for a long time because no one else would. Yeah there have been many men who have sat in the East in the past 20 or so years but it seems to me it was much easier for them to allow this one man to do everything for the lodge because no one had a vision for the future of the lodge. St. Johns has always been there and would always be there is an all to common attitude of most of my brethren. Now I do not want for one second to downplay anyone else's contribution to my lodge, but in my 2 years of being at every meeting (but one) there is only one who has captained this ship and has been the chief, cook, and bottle washer for too long. This man happens to be, of course, my mentor.

One of the stories he has repeated to me, and everyone else, on many occasions is of how his fathers lodge back in his home state went dark the day his father died. It is his great fear that if something were to happen to him that the same fate would befall old St. John's. I of course always respond to that story with "You don't have to worry about that anymore because I'm here". My response has never been received with what I expect because the last thing he wants to happen is for me to take his place as the "glue" as he has been called. It is not because he doesn't think I am capable but that he doesn't want me to shoulder all of the responsibility for the next twenty years. "It will break the strongest man" he tells me.

We have discussed on many occasions the fate of our lodge and he is very right in not allowing me to just do everything that I want to do. I would gladly relieve him of the burden but I cant do it alone like he has. I need a team. That is what a lodge is supposed to be.

I received a great response from my Beauty post from Brother Rui Banderia all the way from Portugal and there is one line that sticks out in my head from his comment that really helps with what my lodge needs:

"The important thing is that each Lodge be capable of building its own project. Once that's done, the Lodge identity is established and all the problems (there are always problems) are solved."

My lodge needs a project. That project is rebuilding our lodge to be the cornerstone of my city that it once was. I will do my best to lead my brethren in that direction but I can not do it alone. I need a group of like minded (young-er)men to share in this project. Which brings me to my last subject.

Last Friday my friend, who redesigned my Square and Compasses icon, came by my house for a long overdue old fashioned B.S. session. He is not a mason but is really thinking about joining the craft. He is one of those friends of mine, and there are unfortunately too few, who can sit down with me and discuss all the things about life that should and need to be discussed more often. We need not see each other all the time but when we do get together it is always like we never left off. He has really been enjoying reading my blog and had many questions about the fraternity. We had a great few hours of conversation that seemed to go by in a few minutes. The type of conversation we had is what my dream lodge experience is. Deep thoughts, heady topics all being freely discussed back and forth between brothers and even though he doesn't wear a ring (yet) he is my brother. He lies my problem. If he were to join the order he is unsure of where to petition. There is a lodge a couple of minutes down the road from his house which I know to be a fine lodge and would be convenient for him, yet my lodge is between his work and home. I would love to have one of my best friends sit in lodge with me and I believe we could do some great work but at the same time I have always been a proponent of choosing a lodge that is close to your home. Knowing that he will read this that little bell is going off in my writers mind so I will stop with that thought so as not to effect any decision he makes ;-) It is my obligation to point him to his nearest lodge and it is in my own self interest that I want him in mine.

Anyway if there are any brethren out there with some stories or insight into having a close friend entering into the brotherhood behind them I (and my friend) would love to hear from you.

Monday, January 7, 2008

I'm Gonna Swing The Hammer

Being an avid reader I could not have chose a better organization to join than Freemasonry. Just type Freemasonry into an Amazon book search and you will come up with 13,986 results! I can freely admit if there is any conspiracy linked to the fraternity it should lead right to Since joining the craft I have purchased countless amounts of books, pamphlets, and novels with Freemasonry as its topic or somewhere in the title. It is quite a bad habit I have picked up, as soon as I see some book promising more insight into the order, I order! My wonderful wife has yet to say anything to me about this awful habit but I can certainly see that "another book on Freemasonry?" look in her eyes when the UPS driver stops by the house.
I may sound crazy but it is a real thrill.
The plodding research on what book to purchase.

The endorphin rush while clicking order (because of the pain in the wallet area).

The obsessive tracking of the order from the point of origin to my doorstep.

And finally the tearing open of the box or envelope revealing (hopefully) another gem to add to my Masonic Crown Jewels.


Each book I have purchased has added to my knowledge of Freemasonry. They have generally served their purpose in shedding more light on the subject of Freemasonry by illuminating some aspect of the history or character of the organization and the men who have in the past belonged to it. Some have gone into detail the symbolic and esoteric aspects of the craft and up until now I have been a conspicuous consumer of such works. It has been my bad habit of buying every book someone mentions on their blog or website for well over a year now and I have come to a decision that it must stop.

Not because I haven't gotten anything from any of these publications, but because recently I had an epiphany about books on Freemasonry and a hammer.

A hammer is a tool, if you don't know, that drives in nails. It also can be used to break apart rocks or punch holes in walls (by accident) or nudge a piece of lumber into place. If you turn it around there are prongs used to remove said nails you drove in if they are not straight or if you put them in the wrong place. They are numerous uses for a hammer. There are also different types of hammers. Hammers come in all shapes and sizes. If you do an Amazon book search for "hammer" you come up with 183,470 books associated with hammer as a subject or somewhere in its title.

I could read all 183, 470 books associated with the hammer and not even come close to what you learn in just ten minutes using a hammer.

A hammer is a tool.

So is Freemasonry.

So this year instead of buying and reading every book I can find on the order I chose to belong to, I am going to just experience what it is to use the tool.

I'm gonna swing the hammer and see what I can make.

Friday, January 4, 2008

A Man Cant be a Master of Two Lodges

Its been a while since I posted and I have a lot of stuff to get to but I want to start off with a completely random Masonic thought.
As I will be installed as Junior Warden on our next meeting and it is in the South that his chair belongs according to our ritual, a completely random thought entered my mind today while reading a book about Australia to my daughter. In the Northern Hemisphere the sun travels East to West in the South as we see it, but in the Southern Hemisphere the sun travels its path East to West in the North. Do lodges located in the Southern Hemisphere sit their Junior Wardens in the North where the sun at its meridian height is the glory and beauty of the day?

O.K. back to business. My Masonic journey, if you remember way back in my Beautiful Evening post, left off where I was elected Junior Warden of my lodge and was supposed to be installed two weeks later depending on the birth of my Daughter. Well, wouldn't you know my Daughter was born the day before my installation yet I did not have to miss it because my brethren hold me in such high regard that they postponed the installation for a month just so I could be a part of it...... Just Kidding! But seriously, as luck would have it, the incoming master of my lodge happens to be the current master of the other lodge in my city and could not be installed that night because the incoming master of that lodge was away in the Philippines getting married and, as you may or may not know, no man can be master of two lodges at the same time so both installations had to be pushed back a month to settle everything that needed to be settled. (Got that straight?) So anyways, like it always does, things worked themselves out perfectly and I will be able to attend my installation as long as the guy from the other lodge comes back from the Philippines in time to be installed!

Due to the birth of my daughter I did however miss, for the first time ever, a scheduled meeting (gasp in horror) so I had not attended lodge in a long time before our meeting tonight, so I was a little rusty when I was thrust into my chair in the South prematurely for a sparsely attended Stated Communication. To tell you the truth I still need a lot of practice with my new lines and between sleep deprivation and about three books I am in the middle of reading, I have not taken the time I need to learn what I need to learn for my new job (gasp in horror again).

Our lodge had a visitor who lives in Texas currently whose mother lodge, The Lodge of the Three Stars, is in Germany. We did not need a translator however because he is an American. His "home" lodge in Germany is made up of a lot of active duty military personnel stationed there. He had some interesting stories of Freemasonry in Germany which is comprised of many different Grand Lodge groups formed from the various Allied countries that occupied Germany after the second World War. So there are American, English, French, etc. lodges all operating in that country all with different rituals and customs which is quite fascinating. He is a pilot who was in our city for a couple of nights and looked up our lodge on the web and saw on our schedule that we had a meeting and contacted us via a page on our website. It just goes to show how much the Internet can help our craft with its fraternal relations. He used the Internet to find our lodge for a visit and I used the Internet to do a preliminary investigation on his home lodge in Germany. Although, as I already knew but our Secretary still reminded me, his lodge had to be in our book of recognized lodges because "webs and other things do not count". Recognition is such a touchy issue. Anyway, our visitor had to endure a very awkward situation in our lodge having to do with charity that ended up taking all of our time so we never got to any education. He said however that the topic certainly got his mind going in a direction he had not broached before and enjoyed his visit. The topic is way to big just to be mentioned, so I will reserve its content for a post in the near future.

2007 was an incredible year for me. I am thinking deeper an enjoying more of this wonderful life bestowed upon me by our creator. I would like to thank all of the people who took the time to read my meanderings of the mind, especially those who took an active part in my discussions and those who went out of their way to whisper good counsel in this young craftsman's ear. I have learned allot in the scant 4 months or so of active blogging and have allot more to learn but that is what we are all here for.

Specifically I would like to thank Widows Son at The Burning Taper for being the first to stick my little blog on his list of Masonic Blogs. Tom Accuosti of the Tao of Masonry for being the second and for being the most responsive reader,he has been one of my biggest supporters. Traveling Man at Movable Jewel for mentioning one of my posts on his blog which resulted in Ben at Middlesex Fire spreading my light further from across the pond. They both have been instrumental in my success as a blogger. Lastly I would like to thank all of the Brothers who take the time to spread their light to the masses via this infant of a media outlet Blogging. Blogging at times has been my vent for frustrations, soapbox for proselytizing, and a psychiatrists couch for therapy and with out a doubt one of the great undertakings of my life. Cue music to end long thank you speech.