Monday, May 28, 2007

Blog Maintenance

Just an update about some of the changes to the blog, reviewed all of the Blogrolling links and cleaned out the now deleted blogs (RIP) I also included a link where you can e-mail me (at the top of the page), in case you wish to ask questions or grill me and don’t feel comfortable doing it in the main blog area. Sometimes people get scared about looking like asses on others blogs, so feel free to look like an ass in my e-mail box. ;)

The announcement was sent out today about my MM ceremony tomorrow night, so I guess it’s finally official, I will be receiving my MM degree tomorrow night!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Family Roots in Masonry - Mizpah Lodge No. 302

My mother recently sent me a bible that was presented to my Great Uncle Bernard when he was raised. My Great Uncle, unlike my Grandfather was heavily involved in the blue lodge, later became a member of the Scottish Rite, then becoming a member of the Shrine. I should take pictures and post them, but until then you will have to deal with my crappy descriptions. ;)

The Certificate on the back has his age, weight, height, color of eyes, and color of hair. It then has the following dates:

Initiated: June 8, 1945

Passed: September 21, 1945

Raised: October 24, 1945

Seeing these dates, gave me some comfort as it took him four months to get passed, it took me five, which has been chronicled on this blog. The certificate itself announces that he is a brother in good standing, and “recommends that he be received and accepted by the Craft whosesoever dispersed over the face of the globe.” One half is written in English and the other in Latin. The certificate is signed by the Secretary (Anson L Haveus), Worshipful Master (Moutus E Holmes, I think), and Grand Secretary of Nebraska (Lewis E. Smith). The bible in size is rather small and has biblical references of interest for Masons, along with some color illustrations. My mother also sent me Morals and Dogmas, which I just bought two weeks ago, so I have an extra copy.

Uncle Bernard has two boys, both never interested in Masonry. He passed away two years ago and when my aunt found out about my initiation she gave them to my mother to send to me.

I am happy to have them, as they are part of my heritage. I know he joined Freemasonry when it was in its peak for numbers, and while things are much different now, then they were then, it’s still a bond that all brothers share.

I’m grateful to receive this right before my raising.

Monday, May 21, 2007

To Await the Time with Patience

Margaret Thatcher once said “I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.” I have been delayed from leaving the airport by 5 hours, so I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to update my Masonic blog. I was thinking about writing more about the Fellowcraft degree, but the anxious feelings and excitement about receiving the Masters Masons degree is what I really need to discuss.

For those that are keeping track, initially my mentor felt that he would be able to convince the Worshipful Master that they could confer the degree on the 15th, the WM came back and said that he didn’t feel comfortable and wanted to wait until the 22nd to make sure that all of the officers were duly and truly prepared before conferring the degree. The problem is that I am out of town this week and won’t be back until the 25th, so my degree must wait until the 29th. This will be the third time that my work has delayed my Masonic journey. It started when I went on Active duty which caused at least a month’s delay in my progression, I was getting ready to be examined and next thing you know I have to leave for two and a half weeks, come back have two weeks to recoup the lost information. Then it happened again when I was getting ready to examine for my Fellowcraft proficiency, then I went to Virginia for a week, which delayed things again for a week.

So here I sit in a horrible airport my flight doesn’t leave for another 3 hours and 50 minutes, again my degree conferment will be delayed, so I must wait the time with Patience.

If you asked my wife, I am a pretty impatient kind of guy particularly when it comes to something that I feel strongly about. I have tried to approach Masonry slow and steady, not to get frustrated too easily or to get to impatient. I think considering the large task in front of me, I have done quit well. With the Supreme Architect of the Universes blessing I will hopefully continue down the path of patience and level headiness.

Hopefully, baring any future disaster, I will be receiving my MM degree on the 29th, I almost don’t want to write it out, and for fear that it won’t come to be true.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Researching the Fellowcraft Degree

I learned late last week that I wouldn’t be receiving my Masters Degree this past Tuesday as originally hoped. I was told that the Worshipful Master wanted to ensure that the brethren where properly prepared before giving the degree. I really was in no hurry and because of my travel next week I won’t be receiving the degree until the 29th. I am not disappointed as the research and reading I have been doing on the Fellowcraft degree has been fascinating.

Recently I had a birthday, for my birthday present I bought myself a 1919 edition of “Morals and Dogma” by Albert Pike. Pike is a man of great stature and controversy in Freemasonry and is often quoted as a means to show Masonry as a tool of power mongers and Satanists. I have read his chapter on the Fellowcraft degree and have found his philosophies and talking to the degree quite fascinating. Unless you have experienced degree, I can see where the chapter would read as a well educated man just babbling on about Liberty and Equality. I do consider the fact that Pike was writing the book from the aspect of the Scottish Rite and doesn’t reflect other Masonic bodies. Still Pike’s take on the degree and his statements are very powerful in my opinion. Below are some of my favorite quotes from the Fellowcraft chapter.

Pike on the Fellowcraft Degree:

Christianity taught the doctrine of Fraternity; but repudiated that of political Equality, by continually inculcating obedience to Caesar, and to those lawfully in authority. Masonry was the first apostle of equality. In the Monastery there is fraternity and equality, but no liberty. Masonry added that also, and claimed for man the three fold heritage, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. P.23

Do not lose sight, then of the true object of your studies in Masonry. It is to add to your estate of wisdom, and not merely to your knowledge. A man may spend a lifetime in studying a single specialty of knowledge, -botany, conchology or entomology for instance, -in committing to memory names derived from the Creek, and classifying and reclassifying; and yet be no wiser than when he began. It is the great truths as to all that most concerns a man, as to his rights, interests, and duties that Masonry seeks to teach her Initiates. P. 26

In your studies as a Fellow-Craft you must be guided by Reason, Love and Faith. P.28

Masonry is a march and struggle toward the Light. For the individual well as the nation, Light is Virtue, Manliness, Intelligence, Liberty. Tyranny over the soul or body is darkness. The freest people, like the freest man, is always in danger of relapsing into servitude. P. 32

While you are still engaged in preparation, and in accumulating principles for future use, do not forget the words of the Apostle James: “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer , he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass, for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was; but whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his work. If any man among you seems to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but it deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. … Faith, if it hath no works, is dead, being an ‘abstraction. A man is justified by works, and not by faith only. … The devils believe, -and tremble. … As the body without the heart is dead, so is faith without works.” P.36

Let no Fellow-Craft Imagine that the work of the lowly and uninfluential is not worth the doing. P. 41

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Roof over our Heads

For the most part I have been using this blog as my personal observations going through the degrees and their impact of my perception of the world. While this is the beauty of Freemasonry, there is a practical side to the Craft, and that is the lodge where we meet.

The building is a historical landmark and was erected in 1915, it is a stand alone lodge. I guess what I mean by that is that it isn’t part of a Scottish Rite temple (if that makes sense, I’m sure my more learned brothers will help correct my terminology). It’s a basic lodge, but as I have written before, the lodge brings a sense of comfort to me; the oldness of the building in my opinion is something to be revered, not necessarily shunned. Granted there are some things I would like to see updated, like our webpage for instance, we don’t have one, and I think with a lodge of such rich military history that we should be proudly displaying our heritage. Still, baby steps is the key to any successful endeavor, and the main issue for this past year has been to replace our aging roof. The WM has had a lot of heartache about this topic because of execution of the roof repair. The lodge had three contractors come in and bid and the lodge acceptable what they considered the most reputable and familiar company to the brethren.

Well long story short, the roofing company fell short of their agreed upon work and we had heavy rains the following week which caused damage to the lodge room, and ruined the carpet, this was due to the shoty work done by the roofing company. I have learned that the biggest test of ones leadership is not when everything is going your way, but rather the test of your character and leadership is when you face adversity. All of the great leaders in the world are considered so because when they were leaders everything seemed lost, but because of their leadership they shined, George Washington is best known for this very thing. Now look at Chester Aruther who was known for being a "placeholder", and nothing more. Everyone has their own opinion about how to move forward regarding the roofing situation, and many are already starting to nip at the heels of the WM trying to get their voice heard, and have passed judgment on the WM without allowing him to get the situation under control.

The time is now for the Worshipful Master to show the rest of the lodge his leadership.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The Best Gift

Albert Pike once wrote "The best gift we can bestow on man is manhood." This is on page 24 of Morals and Dogma in the Fellowcraft section. I think honestly this sums up the Fellowcraft degree much more eloquently than any long diatribe. From gaining further light into Masonry in one of the most pack ceremonies, the Fellowcraft degree really sparked my attention to all of the nuances of the degree work.

While learning the three sections of the EA degree you are more worried about the order and proper phonetics of the words, let alone the words you are speaking. Once you receive the Fellowcraft degree things seem to come easier, and hence you spend more time (at least I have) looking at the symbols than trying to recite the question and answer section. To me Fellowcraft is “bestowing manhood” as a Mason.

Tonight after my lesson my mentor told me that he has never been so challenged as he was with me in regards to questions regarding the symbols and the meanings. I told him it wasn’t an attempt to “stump the chump” but just wanting to know as much as I could from his perspective. He then went on to talk about how important the ritual is, and that I should consider being a ritualist. I told him I would enjoy that, but I needed to make it through the exam tomorrow night and my Masters degree (right now it’s the 15th of May), before anything else could happen.

When I finish with my exam and I know for sure the date, I will post it on here. I am sure everyone is dying to know. :)

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Good Intentions

I can’t believe I am coming up to a month since I last properly updated this blog, and for that I am sorry. My time as a Fellowcraft has been much more active than when I was an Entered Apprentice, because of this I haven’t been able to write down my thoughts both about the degree and my growth both personally and within the craft. When I started learning my catechism my mentor had the utmost confidence that I would be testable within a week, it almost felt like he was pushing me through the system. This made me feel uncomfortable because I am a slow and methodical kind of guy.

Everyone and I mean everyone kept telling me that learning the second was far easier than the first, really it wasn’t that easy. For me at least the obligation was the hardest part, while in the first it was the working tools and second part gave me the most difficulty. The obligation for the Fellowcraft doesn’t seem to have any flow to me, that’s were I seem to be hung up. After several 3 hour intense sessions, I seem to have solidified the part down and next week on my birthday (The 9th) I will test and then see when the lodge will be able to confer the third degree.

Work has been hectic, as that keeping the Craft in balance has been somewhat difficult, a lot of this is because of my travel schedule, but my dedication to the work has been unwavering, and as equally rewarding. I have more updates, but I wanted to post this first.