Freemason, Masonic, Masonry, Scottish Rite

Book Review: Millennial Apprentices: The Next Revolution in Freemasonry

Millennial Apprentices: The Next Revolution in Freemasonry, By Samuel Friedman, Fairport, NY, SelfPublished, 2015,. ISBN-13: 978-0996652803.

Samuel Friedman has written a thought-provoking book, Millennial Apprentices: The Next Revolution in Freemasonry, to help the Craft understand the needs and wants of the next generation of Freemasons. As a new Mason and a Millennial, he is well-suited to address this topic. He does a pretty good job describing the Millennial Generation; I came away with a better understanding of this group. This understanding is important as we hope to attract this very large generation into our ancient Fraternity.

Mr. Friedman describes how Freemasons were involved in many of the democratic revolutions of the past, including the American war of independence from Great Britain. He feels that Freemasonry has abdicated our responsibility of being a beacon of moral and philosophical light to our communities and nation.

The Observance Lodge concept is discussed and Mr. Friedman believes this to be an important aspect of the lodge experience going forward, especially for the Millennial Generation. He feels that this generation will find the solemnity and structure of an Observant Lodge appealing and meet their needs.

While I enjoyed the book overall and found items that will be useful for me to take and try to enact in my lodges, I do not agree with some of his conclusions. This is most true when he discussed that we should not have National Flags in the Lodge and also touched on other social issues that Grand Lodges are struggling with in today’s changing times. I recommend this book for any Brother trying to better understand the next generation and how to shape our Craft to meet their needs.

Standard
Freemason, Masonic, Masonry, Scottish Rite

Improve Myself in Freemasonry

One of the first lessons we learn in Freemasonry is that we are here to “Learn to improve myself in Freemasonry.” We also say that we “take good men and make them better.” If this is true, when does it stop? At what point have we improved enough to consider that we have accomplished this task? Has Masonry made you better, so you do not have any more to do?

Were you finished when you were Initiated, Passed and Raised? What is the one thing that you learned that made you say,” Great! I am better! I am done!?” When you were Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason, the heavens parted and the Great Architect of the Universe inspected you with the symbolic Square, level and Plumb and declared you perfect? NO? Then it is possible that you had/have more improvement to make? That you have more lessons to learn?

Our goal in Freemasonry is not to be better than others, but to be better than ourselves. While I might be better than the self I was 5 years ago, there is still room for me to be better than the self I was yesterday. Anything that stops growing dies. I have presented Masonic Education to Brethren who were in their 80s and were wise, but they wanted to learn more. Improvement never ends, we should strive to continue to travel from the west toward the east, in search of even more Masonic Light.

The first thing required for Freemasonry to help you improve yourself is your presence. How can you improve yourself in Freemasonry if you are not present? Not just physical presence, but active presence in the lessons of the Ritual and the Fellowship with your Brethren. I know that you can learn much about Freemasonry by reading the thoughts of others, but you can learn even more by discussing those thoughts, and your own thoughts, with your Brethren in a Corporate setting. Freemasonry was never meant to be a solitary event, men organized themselves into groups to help each other and to learn from each other. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17. Another translation says, “Just as iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other.” It is important to gather with your Brethren. The Fellowship is important for many reasons, not the least of which is that you learn to trust each other, so you are willing to listen when a Brother points out an area where you many need to work on your continuous improvement. If I do not know you well, I may be upset or hurt if you point out a fault, but I should be able to accept this whisper of counsel and comfort from my Brother.

If you will be open to the lessons of the Craft and the thoughts of your Brethren, you can improve yourself even during a boring business meeting. How? By actively listening to the Ritual, by taking a part of the normal opening and closing and pondering, “What does this mean to me?” It is much more satisfying than pondering whether we should buy a new refrigerator for the Lodge. I improve myself in Freemasonry every time I attend Lodge or Masonic events. The idea for this article came to me while I was at the District Custodian’s School of Instruction. It wasn’t that I was not paying attention to what was being taught, but that I WAS paying attention and I heard things I needed to hear. Even in the repetitious ritual we were practicing.

How can you improve yourself in Freemasonry? Read your books; listen to the Ritual; learn from your Brethren.

Standard
Freemason, Masonic, Masonry, Scottish Rite

Do Just One Thing

Lately, I have thought and written about the duties of a Lodge to the Brethren, the duties of a Mason to his Lodge and getting things done. I want to discuss a few things that we can do to improve ourselves and our Lodge experience. Before we discuss this, we need to define the Lodge. A Lodge is not a building; it is a group of Freemasons meeting under the Authority of a Charter. So when we discuss our duties, we are talking about the duties we have for each other.

First: Attend Regular and Called meetings, it is hard to know and care for your Brethren if you are not here. If you have been absent and might be a little rusty, give me a call, as Director of Work, I can get you back up to speed on ritual, etc.

Second: Try to spend time in fellowship with a Brother that you do not normally spend much time with, you might find that you have something in common and can build stronger bonds.

Third: Attend planned  fellowship  nights,  game  nights,  dinners,  anything we  can  do  to  build  stronger  bonds with our Brethren.

Fourth: Think about what Freemasonry means  to  you. Consider presenting these thoughts to your Brethren, we can all learn from each other.

Fifth: Tim Bryce, a Masonic and Business Blogger, has some great advice: “Do just one thing.” If all members did “Just One Thing” for their Lodge, it would be a better place.

I am not suggesting we do anything extremely labor intensive; perhaps it is something as simple as making coffee;  greeting  every  member  when  they  arrive;  calling  Brethren  to  remind  them  of  Lodge  Meetings; preparing and presenting Masonic Education; covering an Officer’s Station when there is an absence; helping to clean up after breakfast. The options are endless. If we all did “Just One Thing,” the Lodge, overall, would be better, and we would be better, because we are the Lodge. ☀

Standard
Freemason, Masonic, Masonry, Scottish Rite

Maintaining Fellowship during Social Distancing

I have often quoted a Chinese Curse, “May you live in interesting times.” I have since discovered that this is probably not a Chinese curse at all, but the sentiment is still the same. Interesting times are rarely calm and peaceful. Well Brethren, I believe that we are living in “interesting times.” In order to try to protect ourselves from the possibility of a Pandemic, we have virtually shut down our society, and our Society. Our sacred band or Society of friends and Brothers have been directed not to meet face-to-face for a period of time, awaiting further guidance from the Health Officials.

How do we maintain fellowship with our Brethren during this time of Social Distancing and Quarantine? Be deliberate; have a plan. Do not leave it to chance encounters or leave it to others to do. If you are coming up on a time that, under normal circumstances, you would be attending a Lodge Meeting, or other Masonic-related function, call the Brethren with whom you would normally interact. Set a Conference call or Video Conference to discuss items of interest or just to visit with your Brethren. There are many free options that will facilitate these types of meetings. If you do not use the various versions of Social Media, communicate by text, email or best of all, a phone call.

Challenge your Brethren to consider a part of the Ritual (that can be discussed outside a Tyled Lodge) and hold virtual discussion groups. Send out a link to an interesting Blog Post or Masonic Article (better yet, write your own) then gather your Brethren together, virtually, to discuss. At the scheduled time for our last meeting of Clarence H. Cohen Daylight Lodge 749, we held a meeting via Zoom to respond to questions posed in advance. Brothers Forrester and Moore initiated a Video Cast to share Masonic ideas with the Brethren that login. You are only limited by your imagination, and the Grand Master’s Ruling.

Remember to call and check on your widows and shut-ins (which is most of us now.) Worshipful Masters should develop a calling tree and task his Officers to call and check on all members of the Lodge.

On the other hand, use this time to spend time with your family, as important as Freemasonry can be, it is not more important than your family.

Finally, make plans for a major time of fellowship when we are allowed to gather once again. Make it a purely social event so we can reestablish those bonds of friendship and brotherhood in person.

Standard
Freemason, Masonic, Masonry, Scottish Rite

Disinterestedness

Years ago, I used to assist with the Ninth Degree of the Scottish Rite, Elu of the Nine at the Valley of Savannah Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. I was one of the Elu and we would light a candle and name one of the nine special virtues of the Degree which serve as additional weapons for the Mason: disinterestedness, courtesy, devotion, firmness, frankness, generosity, self-denial, heroism, and patriotism. I was always given “disinterestedness”; I think because it was hard to pronounce and I was the young guy that would take whatever he was given.

The Nine Elus of the Degree were those selected to search for the murderers of Hiram that represent ignorance, error and intolerance. The attributes of: disinterestedness, courtesy, devotion, firmness, frankness, generosity, self-denial, heroism, and patriotism are those that will destroy these ruffians whose goal is to destroy the best in human nature.

I recently mentioned disinterestedness in a conversation and the people I was talking to did not understand the term; many think that it means uninterested or a lack of interest. It actually means something very different. The definition is, Disinterestedness: the quality or state of being objective or impartial. Key synonyms are: fair-mindedness; impartiality; justice; neutrality; objectivity; impartialness.

In Freemasonry we celebrate disinterestedness as a key attribute of a good man and Mason. It is that attitude that we serve in the Craft and in our community; not for our own glory, but for the betterment of the Fraternity and Society.  This disinterestedness is not easy for us because it strikes at the root of our own pride and egoism.

We must always remember that one of the key goals of Freemasonry is to build in men the character of a Gentleman. Shortly after I had the conversation listed above, I read the following in Gordon S. Wood’s “Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different.”

When John Adams asked himself what a gentleman was, he answered in just these terms of a liberal arts education. “By gentlemen,” he said, “are not meant the rich or the poor, the high-born or the low-born, the industrious or the idle: but all those who have received a liberal education, an ordinary degree of erudition in liberal arts and sciences. Whether by birth they be descended from magistrates and officers of government, or from husbandmen, merchants, mechanics, or laborers; or whether they be rich or poor.”

 Disinterestedness was the most common term the founders used as a synonym for the classical conception of virtue or self-sacrifice; it better conveyed the threats from interests that virtue seemed increasingly to face in the rapidly commercializing eighteenth century. Dr. Johnson had defined disinterested as being “superior to regard of private advantage; not influenced by private profit,” and that was what the founders meant by the term.

Among the other virtues mentioned in the disinterestedness could also be looked at as a characteristic. The men who developed our Ritual in the early days of Speculative Freemasonry were the same type of men who led our Revolution against tyranny. They identified these as key characteristics of a good man and developed lessons and Rituals to help us to understand and direct our paths in the right direction to achieve the Character spelled out in these virtues.

By valuing and practicing disinterestedness, it does not mean that we are not affected by the results of our work. Nor does it mean that complacency should creep into our actions or that we should not act to improve the outcomes of our efforts. It means that we should not do this work for our own glory, but for the glory of the GAOTU, the craft and Society as a whole.

Study Questions:

  1. Does this statement ring true in your life?

“Be disinterested; that is what really matters.”

  1. Do you agree with this statement?

“Disinterestedness is essential in the pursuit of knowledge”

  1. When you achieve a position, do you accept because of the rewards you expect or do you consider only how you can advance the organization and your fellow man?
  2. Do you pursue knowledge without an agenda, without any bias towards the knowledge you pursue?

 

Standard
Freemason, Masonic, Masonry, Scottish Rite

Brethren, Attend Lodge Prayer

According to the Masonic Manual of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, “The labors and duties of the lodge must begin and end with prayer. The brethren cannot be too often reminded of their dependence on the Grand Architect of the Universe for every blessing they enjoy.” This reminds us that the Lodge Room is a sacred place and should be respected as such. When we enter the Lodge while it is at Labor, we are symbolically entering the Holy of Holies, the Sanctum Sanctorum, of Solomon’s Temple. That space was built to be the residence of God on earth. If you cannot internalize and understand this symbol, I wonder if you can truly understand any of the symbols of Freemasonry.

In the Masonic Manual, there are two versions of opening and closing prayers. Most Lodges use the shorter of the two for each, I find this disheartening. We are so interested in shortening our time in Lodge that we use the shorter version that is not nearly as rich in praise and supplications to our Creator.

The opening prayer which should be used is this:

Most holy and glorious Lord God, the great Architect of the Universe, the giver of all good gifts and graces, in Thy name we have assembled and in Thy name we desire to proceed in all our doings. Grant that the sublime principles of Freemasonry may so subdue every discordant passion within us, so harmonize and enrich our hearts with Thine own love and goodness, that the Lodge at this time may humbly reflect that order and beauty which reign forever before Thy throne! Amen! Response: So mote it be!

In this prayer we acknowledge that God is the Creator and the giver of all that is good; we state that we are meeting in His name. Think a minute about what that means, everything we do or say while in lodge assembled is done or said in His name and should be uplifting to each other, society and should glorify Him. Do we live up to this? Do we even try?

We pray that the “sublime principles of Freemasonry” should soften our hearts and minds and allow us to be in complete harmony with our Brethren. When we say the sublime principles of Freemasonry, when we call the Master Mason Degree the sublime degree, we are saying that Freemasonry is of outstanding spiritual, intellectual, or moral worth. Our Lodge is to be a reflection of Heaven itself. Although this is a corporate prayer, we make it personal and accept it as our own when we respond, “So Mote It Be” we are agreeing and declaring it our personal prayer.

Note that the alternate version does not do nearly as well at putting us in the mood of reverence as the longer prayer:

Supreme Ruler of the Universe, we would reverently invoke Thy blessing at this time. Wilt Thou be pleased to grant that this meeting, thus begun in order, may be conducted in peace and closed in harmony! Amen! Response: So mote it be!

Consider well the atmosphere that you want to create as you open the Lodge as a sacred place of worship.

The closing prayer is equally reverent as the opening prayer; it addresses our interactions while in lodge and our obligations to each other and the world while outside of the lodge.

Supreme Architect of the Universe, accept our humble praises for the many mercies and blessings which Thy bounty has conferred upon us, and especially for this friendly and social intercourse. Pardon, we beseech Thee, whatever Thou hast seen amiss in us since we have been together, and continue unto us Thy presence, protection and blessing. Make us sensible of the renewed obligations we are under: to love Thee supremely and to be friendly to each other. May all our irregular passions be subdued and may we daily increase in Faith, Hope and Charity, but more especially in that charity which is the bond of peace and the perfection of every virtue. Wilt thou be pleased so to influence our hearts and minds that we may so practice. Amen! Response: So mote it be!

We start out thanking Him that for his mercy and for the blessings he has bestowed on us. We then thank him for allowing us to meet together as Masons and friends. We should remember to always acknowledge what He has allowed us to do and what we do through Him. We should thank him for each other; our Brethren are a blessing to us. We ask for forgiveness for anything we may have said or done that does not lift each other up nor glorify Him. Our prayer is that we remain under His care and protection.

We are reminded that we renew our obligations to Him and to each other every time we open and close the Lodge. We pray for help in subduing our irregular passions and increasing in Faith, Hope and Charity. We hope to demonstrate virtue with the aid of the Supreme Architect of the Universe, to put aside the imperfections that are inherent in Man. We are not trying to suppress all of our passions, just our irregular passions. Some passions are to be desired: bravery; study; music; faith, etc. Irregular passions are when we let our passions (anger, lust, envy, greed, etc.) overcome us and we act outside of laws rules or customs of our Craft or society in general. We need Him to influence our hearts and minds to meet this goal. We should take the sacredness of the Lodge room to the world so that they can get a glimpse of the Divine.

The shorter version also calls on Him to help us to practice the tenets of our Craft outside the Lodge. It reminds us that we are to learn great moral duties and that we should revere the Word of God and study and obey His laws.

Supreme Grand Master, Ruler of Heaven and Earth: Now that we are about to separate and return to our respective places of abode, wilt Thou be pleased so to influence our hearts and minds that we may each practice out of the Lodge those great moral duties which are taught in it; and, with reverence, study and obey the laws which Thou hast given us in Thy Holy Word. Amen! Response: So mote it be!

Let us never forget that we should always turn to Him before we enter into any great or important undertaking; like getting out of bed, going to work, dealing with our family, driving our car, shopping for groceries or attending Lodge. In everything we do, let us try to reflect that order and beauty which reign forever before the throne of God.

Standard
Freemason, Masonic, Masonry, Scottish Rite

Freemasonry is Alive

In the Army we had a writing style that said put the Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF). In keeping with that philosophy; I do not believe that Freemasonry is dying. To paraphrase Brother Samuel Langhorne Clemons (Mark Twain):

The report of Freemasonry’s death is an exaggeration.

I have read with interest many articles, blog posts and emails describing the imminent demise of Freemasonry. Some say that Freemasonry will be dead in 20 years, other say we are already dead and we just have not realized it yet. Many of these writings have impressive analytics, showing us the raw numbers and the percentages of membership, I admit that it is hard to argue with the logic in the numbers presented. I will say that, while Logic is part of the Trivium(1) and one of the Liberal Arts and Sciences which we are called to study, Logic alone is not what is required to evaluate our Fraternity. Freemasonry is not just of the head, but also of the heart. The benefits of membership in the Masonic Order cannot be listed as finite items; I believe that our Craft reaches into the infinity of our thoughts, our ethics, our behavior, our spirit. The three Masonic Initiations are meant to fundamentally change us, to allow us to better understand ourselves and our place in the cosmos. The uninitiated (and some of our Brethren) can look at the Compasses and say that they are used to draw circles and arcs and can be used to measure distances on maps. The initiated should look at the Compasses and consider how to use them to circumscribe our desires and put boundaries on our passions. But we should not stop there, we can consider other uses for this tool, which is but a symbol for us to interpret. As I stated earlier, we move into the infinite when we consider the symbols and words in Freemasonry.

Taken logically, Freemasonry is in trouble based on these well-researched analytics. Our numbers are in steady decline from the days of high membership numbers in the 1950s. I have long stated that this should not be our benchmark, it was an artificial increase based on men returning from World War II and longing for the bonds of brotherhood that they felt with those men that fought alongside them to defeat tyranny. They were interested in the fellowship, the comradery, the feeling of “belonging” that they had felt in their military units. (2)  If we need to compare ourselves to previous generations, we should compare ourselves to the late 1800s to the early 1900s; a period of serious Masonic Scholarship. Why? Because most men I know that have entered the Fraternity in the last few years are looking for the kind of Freemasonry that it seems was practiced in those days of old. We want the scholarship and research; we want the communications that they had in the many Masonic publications like The Builder Magazine. Many of the articles I mentioned earlier state that the true decline is not due to deaths, but men leaving the Fraternity through Demits and Non-Payment of Dues. They quit. Even in my own lodge, the losses we posted this year were due to a Demit and a withdrawal of Dual Membership. Why are men that showed enough interest and curiosity about the Craft to find a Mason, request a petition, endure investigation, travel once, twice, thrice about the Lodge and learn and pass the three catechisms leaving in droves? Because Freemasonry was not what they expected. Now, some of them may have had grandiose expectations, but most were just disappointed that we hold boring meetings that do nothing to help them become better men or answer any of the mysteries of the universe. Change is needed.

But what should we change? Should we follow the advice of those who say Freemasonry is too easy, too cheap and too informal? Do we establish Dues that are more than are required to pay our bills, just to show the importance of the Craft? Do we wear tuxedos and gloves and square our corners during Ritual? Do we elect the same Brother as Worshipful Master for ten years in a row because we are convinced that he is the only one that can lead our lodge? Or do we say that dressing for Lodge is elitist and asking men to dress properly (Jacket and tie) for Lodge will drive men away? In my opinion, the statement that “it is the internal not the external,” is not describing our clothing but our positions outside the Fraternity. It means that a tradesman is the same as a Banker in the eyes of Freemasonry. It does not mean that I should accept polo shirts and jeans in a Masonic Lodge meeting. But I digress. Does it mean that we accept mediocrity in our Ritual and have fund raisers to pay our bills to keep dues down?

Actually it means different things to different Lodges. A Lodge is a group of Masons operating under a Charter granted by a Grand Lodge. It is not the building. Therefore, a Lodge of Masons should reflect the wants and needs of the men associated with it, within the precepts of Freemasonry’s Ancient Landmarks. If you are not comfortable with your Lodge you need to determine if it is them or you. Meaning, is there a greater number that think that you should focus more on Education than other aspects of the Craft? If you are a lone wolf, perhaps you should find a Lodge that is more in line with your needs; do not just cut and run. If you find you are in the majority, make effective changes to move in the direction that the majority wants to go. I do not mean that you leave behind those that have different needs, but the focus of the Lodge should be that of the majority, not a vocal minority. I am not in the camp of thinking that Lodges need to close or consolidate. If I am not a member, I try not to form opinions, and if I do, I keep them to myself. I do not judge the work of a Lodge; it is not my place. If someone asks my opinion, or my help, I give it in private.

I try to look out for my Lodges, meaning the Brethren within. In my three Lodges Masonry is alive and well. I am very involved in two of them, distance keeps me away from my Mother Lodge, but I keep in touch and I know what they are doing. I try to support, teach, mentor, learn from my Brethren.  As long as I am alive, Freemasonry will be alive. While one of my Lodges is small and we do not have a lot of active members, we are doing Masonry. When I learn from my Brethren, Masonry is alive. When I teach them, Masonry is alive. When I see my Brethren growing in Freemasonry and in life, Masonry is alive. I see Freemasonry growing all the time, in the lives of the members of my Lodge. They are growing in their knowledge of the Craft, and as this knowledge increases, so does their thirst for more!

Freemasonry is not dying. We have challenges, but Freemasonry is alive.

 

  1. William Arnold, The Trivium & Quadrivium or 7 Liberal Arts and Sciences, http://suffolkmasons.com/the-trivium-quadrivium/
  2. Brian Coffey, “We” Can Get Things Done, 11/24/2018, https://parkinglotmason.wordpress.com/2018/11/24/we-can-get-things-done/
Standard
Freemason, Masonic, Masonry, Scottish Rite

“We” Can Get Things Done

Older Masons and Past Masters often tell younger Masons who seek Education and Philosophical enlightenment in Freemasonry that “that is not Freemasonry.” They say that Freemasonry is about Charity and Fellowship. As a steady reader of Masonic literature and the Librarian of a decent Lodge Library, I have searched for books that describe Freemasonry as a Charity or a Social Club. Oddly, I cannot find books covering these topics. As far as I can find, no one published a book on the importance of reading Minutes, supporting non-Masonic charities, giving blood or identifying children. At this point, I am expected to say that these are all either necessary or good endeavors, and I will not disagree; but they are not Freemasonry.

The books I find, both old and new, discuss Masonic Philosophy; History; Leadership; as well as Symbolism and Ritual. These books range in topic from Masonic History, Etiquette, Leadership, Morality and Philosophy. Many of these books are in our library and can be purchased through the normal booksellers; many are actually free downloads on the internet. With this unprecedented access to materials, it is astounding that we still have a general ignorance of the history and purpose of our Craft. Some of this I attribute to the general stasis of our organization; the inability to consider that beyond which we were taught by our Mentors in the Fraternity. Our lectures are ripe with symbolism, philosophy and morality; and in them, we are charged to look deeper and learn more. We do not actively promote this learning and make it a lifelong process within our Masonic Halls and Lodge
Rooms.

My theory on how we arrived at our current situation runs counter to conventional wisdom which looks at the post-World War II membership spike as the greatest period of Freemasonry in America based on the numbers alone. I feel that this rapid increase in membership did great harm to the true tenets of our Fraternity. These great men that fought and won WWII came back to civilian life and longed for the bonds of brotherhood that they felt with those men that fought alongside them to defeat tyranny. Many of them turned to the various Fraternal organizations to try to make these connections: Moose; Elks; Knights of Columbus; and of course the Freemasons. They were interested in the fellowship, the comradery, the feeling of “belonging” that they had felt in their military units. Many of them were not interested in the esoteric meanings behind our symbols and philosophy. It is not so much that they rejected them, many of them just gave them no thought past the Ritual and felt that their needs were met in the Organization and the fellowship it offered. When they became the elder leadership, they mentored new members in the Freemasonry that they knew and loved; fellowship, charity and strict organization.

Then came the 1960s and the young men of that generation rejected the ideas and morality of their fathers. Rebellion and the feel-good culture caused many to drop-out or never join the “establishment” organizations of previous generations. The generational gap lasted for decades. I am in my 50’s and there are very few in my age group in Freemasonry; or they came to the Craft late in life. This caused there to be a gap in new leadership with new ideas, the old guard had to keep the fires burning. Don’t get me wrong, I am not negative about these brethren, I thank them for keeping the spark of Freemasonry alive until I and a new generation could emerge from the darkness in search of Light. I need these brethren to teach me what it means to be a friend and a brother; I can learn a lot about fellowship from them, as well as the strict rules of the Ritual and procedures of conducting a Lodge meeting.

The newer generation of Freemasons is looking for more than fellowship. We are looking for the Light of Freemasonry; the philosophies; moral instruction and life-changing knowledge hidden in our Symbols that will help us to become better men. We are not here for Minutes, rote repetition and arguing about dues. Most younger Masons are not put-off by higher dues as some older members might be, we realize that we should pay our bills without having a fund-raiser. Most of us came to the Craft out of curiosity, but it is an informed curiosity. As I mentioned earlier there is a treasure-trove of Masonic books and Articles in the public domain and for purchase, and Freemasonry has been featured positively in some recent fiction books and movies. Younger Petitioners have read about Freemasonry prior to ever asking for a Petition; they have expectations about Freemasonry as an educational and growth organization that will help them become better men. When they come to us and complete their initiatory degree, they are often disappointed in the lack of Masonic discussion, education, learning and Mentoring. If they do not just leave, they are often told that their ideas are not Freemasonry and not necessary. The elder leaders of their Lodges are the very ones that kept the spark of Freemasonry alive, but now they try to keep it a spark, rather than let the younger generation build it into a blaze to light the way for the Brethren.

As a kind of intermediary between the elder and younger masons, due to my length in the craft and my still relatively young age, I often see something I think should be done and I just do it. I inform, but do not ask for permission, I request support, but do not wait for it to show up. I can do this because I have put in my time in the Quarries; I have done the work and I continue to do whatever my Lodge and Brethren require of me. I do not worry about what “They” will say. To my younger brethren, I know you have heard: “They” won’t let you do that; “They” say that is not Freemasonry.

No one ever admits to being “They.”

I charge you to become the WE. “We” are going to conduct Masonic Education. “We” are going to show respect to our Lodge, our Worshipful Master and our Brethren. “We” will Mentor our new Brethren. “We” will guard our West Gate.

We should not do this in an adversarial way, we need and love our elder brethren; work with them to do things a little differently. Demonstrate your ideas before you try to implement them. Volunteer to be a Coach or a Mentor, show the new brothers that you care and teach them what you wish had been taught to you. If you do the work, you will gain the respect and will be able to positively affect the Lodge experience. Masonry is work: do the work.

“We” can get things done.

Standard
Freemason, Masonic, Masonry, Scottish Rite

Book Review – The Secret Science of Masonic Initiation

The Secret Science of Masonic Initiation, by Robert Lomas, San Francisco, CA, Weiser Books, 2010. ISBN-13: 9781578634903.

Robert Lomas’ book, The Secret Science of Masonic Initiation, explores the more esoteric aspects of Masonic Initiation and delves into the use of Freemasonry to teach the ancient Mysteries. He believes that, if truly understood, the Masonic Initiation is a transformative experience. Not just in the sense of “making a good man better” but in a physical and physiological sense. Lomas argues that Masonic Initiation, being tied to the ancient Mysteries, actually transforms us spiritually and intellectually into a different stream of consciousness from normal men. He states that the greatest men of all ages that have worked for the advancement of mankind have been initiates of the ancient Mysteries. These ancient Mysteries can be seen in the rites and legends of the Ancient Egyptians, the Phoenicians and all of the major religions of the world which have had their secret initiatic orders, apart from their public religion.

While I found this book interesting, I kept wondering why my Initiations into Freemasonry had not had the major transformative effect on me that Lomas describes. I guess I am just “not there” yet. I do not fully agree with his description of the esoteric side of the degrees, but I do agree that Freemasonry can be transformative. Perhaps as I conduct further research and study I can get closer to Lomas’ views on our initiations and their true purpose. I will say that I have read other, similar, books since I read this one; books such as Hall’s The Lost Keys of Freemasonry and             Steinmetz’s book, Freemasonry – Its Hidden Meaning, which discuss the same theories as Lomas, but with a slightly different take on the process of initiation. I would suggest reading Lomas’ book, but I think it would have been better to start with Steinmetz, Hall, Wilmshurt and then move to Lomas; perhaps then I would have been more ready and attuned to his message.

Standard
Freemason, Masonic, Masonry, Scottish Rite

Book review – Freemasonry: Its Hidden Meaning

Freemasonry: Its Hidden Meaning, by George H. Steinmetz. Richmond, VA, Macoy Publishing and Supply Co., Inc., 1948, 1976. ISBN-13: 978-0880530491.

In Freemasonry: Its Hidden Meaning author George H. Steinmetz introduces the reader to the more esoteric and philosophical meanings of the three degrees and Freemasonry in general. This book was written to be a Primer for the Master Mason who desires a fuller understanding of the Craft without delving too deeply into the deeper meanings of the Ritual. Mr. Steinmetz wanted to discuss the hidden meanings of the Freemasonry in a way that would encourage brethren to move on to study more than we get in the various lectures and catechisms of the three degrees. He feels that if you dive straight into Pike, Mackey or Waite you may become confused and discouraged. This book is a step towards more light.

Mr. Steinmetz’s writing is straightforward and easy to understand, he explains complicated subjects using the very words of our Masonic Monitors and other published sources. He breaks down the word definitions for many aspects of the degrees to explain their base meaning and how they can often be misinterpreted, or have a deeper meaning than we initially understand. He is careful to not reveal any of our “secret” ritual or work, but is able to still give incredible insight to the ritual. While this book is fairly basic, as Masonic Dissertations go, it is obvious that Steinmetz is a student of the Art and understands the full implications of the Ancient Mysteries which he claims Freemasonry to be a direct descendant.

I made two pages of notes to investigate further based on my reading of this book. I feel that Mr. Steinmetz did his job of providing me with many answers to my questions, but he also in triggered even more questions in my quest for more light and understanding of Freemasonry. I recommend this book to any Master Mason that wants to begin his journey into understanding the true philosophy of the Craft. Whatever your age as a Mason, this book can be enlightening and open your mind to further revelations in the writings of Hall, Waite, Pike and Mackay.

Standard