Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Denver International Airport – Home of Alien Freemason Nazis

Last week when I was in Denver I flew into DIA (Denver International Airport) for some reason this airport attracts a lot of conspiracy nuts, mainly because the Masonic capstone of the time capsule reads “A New World Airport Commission” and that the Airport is some type of cathedral to the super elite Alien Freemason Nazis, with creepy artwork that foretells the end of the world.

Time permitting I would of stuck around DIA taken pictures and mocked the entire thing, but I arrived late, was tired and hadn’t eaten all day, so my blog had to take a back seat. Truth of the matter was the phrase “New World Airport Commission” was in regards to the committee that was in charge of DIA’s opening festivities, and the name was thought of by Charles Ansbacher a music conductor and trust fund baby, who got the idea from Dvorak’s New World Symphony (Symphony No. 9 in E Minor “From the New World”), which of course was written between 1892 – 1895 after a visit to America. Also, I can’t find anywhere that Ansbacher is a Freemason, but maybe he is a covert brother.

There have been much more researched and thought out arguments against the DIA conspiracy. Growing up in Colorado, I just find the entire thing funny as the history of the Airport marred by cronyism, government inefficiency, and overall bumbling of a public works project. I remember when they opened up the Airport for tours months before it was operational to try to keep local shops who were paying high overhead in business so when the airport was finally operational there would be a McDonalds and a place where you can get a $2 soda and a People magazine. I am sure this was a front as they were completing the tunnel to NORAD (which is now run by the Canadians, BTW).

As they say it takes all types, these people are on another plane of existence. But I guess it is more interesting than the fact it’s just a large airport, that is unique in structure.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Thoughts from the York Rite Fall Festival

With my busy travel schedule and time to just not even think straight, I think it’s time I sit down and formulate my thoughts on the ceremonies and forms there in. I felt that it was about time I actually took sat down and write my thoughts.

For background on the York Rite, take a look at the York Rite home page here it gives you a great deal of information regarding the degrees. Here in South Texas we have the York Rite festival, in which the district gets together and confers all of the degrees in a single day. Part of me wretched at this thought because of the time spent on the blue lodge degrees is essential to understand the fundamentals of Masonry, and I believe that fundamental understanding is somewhat lost in one day classes. While I understand their utility for soldiers being deployed, people who had family medical emergencies, etc. I don’t agree with it being used as a fast track to the Shrine or to cause inflated numbers for brothers that never return again.

The Chapter as a collective is by my favorite of the three (Chapter, Council and Commandery), it really does complete the first three degrees, even though they are considered “supplemental” I would suggest to anyone that is serious about learning more and completing the first three degrees should go through the degrees. I was also fortunate enough to be the candidate of the Royal Arch Degree which was wonderful. Really that degree is one of the best, and I would almost put it on par with the Masters Degree. The Virtual Past Masters degree is really good to, if done properly. It was flawlessly executed for me, but afterwards during lunch I could see how many ways it could of gone wrong, but that is a really fun degree as well. For the Chapter the Most Excellent Master was the most disappointing as the team due to freak issues was unable to confer the degree, so we came in and was given the lecture and took the oath. I guess that makes it legal, but I will have to see the degree in it’s full sometime in the near future. Overall a very good experience, even though the Most Excellent Master never really happened.

The Council degrees are interesting, and the Super Excellent Masters Degree is a powerful degree that I came to find out, was at one point a side degree of the rite. It wasn’t until 1813 that it was permanently fixed as part of the Council, the degree itself forcefully teachers the candidate to walk in faith, promote friendship, and practice fidelity. It has a wonderful message to behold when being played out, that God’s Presence among us and man’s responsibility to worship Him in Sprit and truth. The moral and spiritual values that are taught in the council are so numerous I could create another blog just to discuss them. Still, I found all of the symbolism and allegory wonderful to behold (if not overwhelming).

The last phase of the festival was the Commandery, which confers the three degrees of The Order of the Red Cross, The Order of Malta, and finally Order of the Temple. Apparently the Knights Templar at one time was only invitational, and later became more open. Also apparently the degree was conferred much differently from state to state until the mid 1800s, when it became standardized. The degree is long, not as long as the Royal Arch Degree, but long enough, its strong emphasis on Christian values was odd at first, (because of the previous degrees) but fit and was used very well. I also found the use of the American flag, kind of odd, but I guess it’s trying to emulate a military order so I guess it’s that way for a reason. It was an impressive ceremony, but was over hyped by our instructors in my mind. I found the Royal Arch and Super Excellent Master much more enlightening. This also can be attributed to the fact that we have been doing this all day and we didn’t get out of there till 1900 and we arrived 0630.

Overall I would recommend the York Rite to someone that meets the qualifications. I was already hit up for the Scottish Rite and Shrine, both of which right now will get a pass. I like to take my Masonic education slow and deliberate, I am not into collecting titles or degrees, and I have more then enough to learn in both the Blue Lodge and the Chapter/Council and Commandery.

The degrees where conferred by a core group of 15 individuals, 6 of which were entirely too much for them to be doing them. If Masonry is to survive in all it forms and beauties it is up to us younger Masons to try and learn the parts to the best of our ability. I hear excuses like “I don’t have good memory retention”, but like the saying goes, practice, practice, practice. I will attend the Chapter/Council as the Commandery, the memorization work comes second to the Blue Lodge, as the Blue Lodge is the foundation of all Freemasonry and without its teachings and symbols, there can be no York Rite.

Here I will stop myself before I rant any further. :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Do You Really Know What A Cowan Is?

Last night I was reading a book, and it described what a cowan was in terms of Operative Masonry. When going through the degrees you hear about cowans, but I never gave them much thought, a bunch of PGMs much more experienced than myself have written short definitions of what cowans were in terms of the craft, some just cite the dictionary still the best definition I have read was from Bro. Harry Carr, who first quotes the Oxford dictionary:

”One who builds dry stone walls (i.e., without mortar); a dry-stone-diker; applied derogatorily to one who does the work of a mason, but who has not been regularly apprenticed or bred to the trade.”

Then expands:

”Cowan is an essentially Scottish trade term, and it belongs to the time when lodges, as trade-controlling bodies, put restrictions against the employment of cowans, in order to protect the fully-trained men of the Craft from competition by unskilled labour. The earliest official ban against cowans appeared in the Schaw Statutes in 1598.”

On the Freemason Information website they quote a short talk bulletin from 1953 which reads:

“… and means to moderns an uninstructed and ignorant person, one not of the Fraternity, just as eavesdropper means to us one who attempts to gain the secrets of Masonry unlawfully.”

So I guess the bulletin is saying that cowan is just an ignorant person. But really, is that what a cowan is in modern 21st century Freemasonry? Or can the term be applied to clandestine members (yeah, I know I will get hate mail), conspiracy nuts, or fundlementalist that believe they know more about our work because they can quote Morals and Dogma? Do we really have men going around from lodge to lodge claiming to be a Mason but really isn’t in today’s society?

So I guess my question is to the Masons that read this, what is a cowan to you?

Monday, September 3, 2007

A New Masonic Blogger

A fairly new Masonic Blogger (new to me at least) e-mailed me, go ahead and check out Brother Robert's Masonic Blog - Military Masons, like most of the Masonic blogs out there it is thoughtful and a great read!

Also, I love the fact that I get e-mailed everytime I bring up the Shrine, man I think I will keep my big mouth shut! Or hands off keyboard, which ever.

My Second Lodge Visit Mt Carmel No. 133

I am back after my trip to Virginia; I know you were all awaiting my report. I think that one of these trips when I go back to Virginia I will have to visit the George Washington Masonic Memorial. I had the opportunity to stay in Alexandria, but didn’t have the schedule to visit the monument. When I first witnessed it, I was struck about how the building stands out so clearly. But this trip I went to a place about an hour and forty-five minutes south of Alexandria, in a small town called Warrenton, Virginia. Warrenton is a picture perfect small east coast town, with a population of 8377. Main street is full of craft shops (or as I like to refer to them as “Old Lady Stores”.) They had small restaurants and a bistro, no major chains like Chili’s, Applebees, etc (at least none that I saw). So really it is a neat quaint little town, and was refreshing when living in one of the top 10 largest cities in America.

The lodge itself is very subdued compared to other lodges in the area; it is a stand alone red brick building that looks like an old school house of sorts. The building was built in 1969, 146 years after the lodge was chartered. The lodge itself boosts a rich history of military heroes from the civil war on up to today. It also adapted the phrase “Bravest of the Brave” in reference to the Black Horse Calvary which many of its early members were apart of. Its current membership seemed slightly older than other lodges I have visited (all three of them), but I think that is expected of a smaller town, mainly full of retirees. The lodge is much like my mother lodge has a banquet hall downstairs and the lodge room upstairs. Another interesting fact is that the brethren bring their wives that sit downstairs during business but then prepare the cake and ice cream after the meeting. Everyone was in dark suits (I always wear a suit to blue lodge meetings, because you never know and I am under the philosophy that it’s better to overdress than underdressed). I quickly realized that this was a much different lodge than the one I visited in New Mexico. The ridgedness of this lodge brought me a sense of comfort, but I have to wonder if its ridgedness may deter new members. They examined me, by examination it was long, not a quick flash of the dues card and my Texas drivers license. It was lots of secret handshakes and signs, more than I expected. It didn’t help that the potentate from the Shrine was there for his quarterly visit. Some members confided in me that there was annoyance as his visit is seen more as a recruiting gimmick than an actual “keeping ties to the blue lodge” as was its stated purpose. At least the guy stayed for the stated meeting and afterwards to talk to the brothers. Our potentate showed up to lodge to drop off a stack of petitions to the shrine and ran out the back door. So really, I think that the potentates visit was a good thing.

The stated meeting was actually interesting as the brethren where discussing a rather controversial topic within the lodge. It reminded me of the conversations we would have in our lodge about the dreaded roof. No degree tonight, unfortunately, still I am one of those sick individuals that enjoys opening and closing of the lodge, and to see how other lodges do it, they didn’t disappoint and did it in true form. After the stated meeting I talked to a few of the brothers, all of which would explain to me their six degrees of separation from Texas (everyone does this, btw).

Was it what I was expecting? Not really, but there were brothers still the same, and it was nice to engage in the work with them. I look forward to having fellowship in the future if it works out.