Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Richard - My Brother, Friend, and Mentor

I am currently in Colorado visiting my family and my in-laws, having Christmas in Colorado was way overdue as I haven't saved up enough PTO to make the trip in the last two years, this year given the looming deployment, we packed up the dogs and headed north.

The day we arrived in Colorado is when I found out the news that our Scretary, Richard was in ICU and things didn't look good. All last week and during Christmas Mass I was thinking and praying for my dear friend Richard. He is going through chemo for lung cancer treatment. He was having a rough time, had become dehydrated to the point that his kidney's shut down and he was admited to the hospital. Yesterday I got the news from Bro Bill that he was moved from ICU to a regular hospital bed and was awake. When I called him, he was disoriented and just wanted to go home, I felt helpless here in Colorado, while he was laying in a hospital bed in San Antonio.

Richard is the kind of Mason that we should all be, he didn't play politics, but is heavily involved in the higher degrees of the York Rite and the Allied Masonic Degrees (he couldn't come to my initation because of his chemo treatment). But with all of that his best love is the blue lodge. He is a past master, but didn't try to run the show. He always wants to do what's best for the lodge. He challenged me to start Masonic education, and he also inspired me to start our lodge's website, and worked with me the entire time.

I hope that my brother, my friend and my mentor Richard has a quick recovery, and that he will be sitting in lodge during my January Masonic Education talk.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Alamo and the Last Class of Emblems

This past Friday was the annual visit of the Grand Master of Texas to Alamo Lodge #44 which is a tyled meeting held inside the Alamo. This is the first official visit of the GM to a lodge after his move to the Grand East. Last year was my first time taking part of the visit, and while it is memorable and somewhat moving to meet there, it can be somewhat uncomfortable if you show up alone, being the sole representative of your lodge. This year it was somewhat of a stretch for me to attend, Thursday while on Active Duty I was given my official tasking for the upcoming deployment along with training dates and found out that after the new year I will spend a grand total of 5 out of the next 13 weeks at home due to training requirements. Needless to say that on Friday my mind was elsewhere than the Grand Masters visit to the Alamo.

This time was different, as I would be meeting a newly raised Master Mason from Round Rock (North Austin area) who was just raised on 28 October. He and I were both unable to attend Grand Lodge, I wasn’t able to because I had drill that weekend. Still, he wanted to come down and I was more than happy to host him in my adoptive home city. We meet up around 1830 and discussed the news of the day and about the same Masonic Discussion board that we frequent. After that we made our way with the crowd to the Alamo. There we waited outside and meet brothers from other areas and neighboring lodges.

After the opening of the meeting my mind was racing about how I was going to finish up everything before my life gets put on hold and I start my all expenses paid trip to Afghanistan. They had a moment of silence in the chapel for the fallen soldier’s of the Alamo. I started to think about the journey and lesson that Freemasonry, the journey that man makes from birth to death. These lessons have a greater impact during our various phases in life, the Fellowcraft for instance reminds men of their responsibilities towards each other and their fellow man for the betterment of mankind. Yet during the lecture of the Masters Degree we are reminded constantly of ours and everyone fate, the grave. The men that died at the Alamo, knew this better than most men as they most likely felt death at their backs the entire time, whether they survived or not. Then I thought of the Last Class of Emblems, which are very poignant on this subject.

The silence was broken by the gavel of the WM which startled me out of my deep thoughts, and yielded the floor to the GM. The speech this year was not as caustic as last year, and the GM said that all of us were leaders, and we need to lead by example in both Freemasonry and in life. I completely agree with this stance, and have found that as an officer leading by example is the most effective way to lead men and women, both through expletory behavior and technical knowledge.
After lodge we ate hot tamales’ and talked to the older brothers, later on I went downstairs and attended the Grotto meeting, we were having elections, as you all are aware I am entirely too young to ever hold office in the Grotto. :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Living the Lesson of the Trowel

This past Thanksgiving was one of the more memorable for me, it was my Thanksgiving before my deployment to Afghanistan, and it was the first Thanksgiving that I shared with a brother. I invited our Tyler and his wife and one year old son out to share Thanksgiving. I am currently Junior Deacon of my mother lodge, and there is something about the relationship between a Junior Deacon and a Tyler, mainly because they are the team that ensures that the lodge is properly tyled. Heck, we even watch out for each other during balloting. Well the Tyler and I have become somewhat close friends and brothers that enjoy the company of one another. Since both of us are Texas transplants, I thought that our families could share Thanksgiving.

We talked over wine and cheese and our wives took a mile and a half walk with the baby while we talked all things Masonic. We toasted to the lodge and the great coming revolution in Freemasonry. We talked about our experiences in the military and his life goals and we capped the feast off with a great Cognac, overall it was a great evening. While Freemasonry teaches us to build spiritual temples it’s the brotherhood that is at the core of the tenants of Freemasonry, the lesson of the trowel is especially poignant regarding the brotherhood:

The Trowel is an instrument made use of by operative Masons to spread the cement which unites a building in one common mass; but we as Free and Accepted Masons, are taught to make use of it for the more noble and glorious purpose of spreading the cement which unites us into one sacred band, or society of friends and brothers, among whom no contention should ever exist, but that noble contention, or rather emulation, of who can best work and best agree.

I am thankful for my experience thus far in Freemasonry, and I hope that it continues to be a positive influence in my life.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tired & Cranky

Normally I don’t complain about my life in this blog, but it does have a Masonic connection. I was Hawaii this past week, now I am sitting in LAX waiting for my flight back, oh by the way it’s 10:45pm, and I won’t arrive home until 8:30 am, with three lay over, hence the title.

My Masonic complaint is that this past week there was a lodge meeting in Hawaii that was holding a raising. I got excited and went and contacted the lodge and in the e-mail I wrote “Please let me know if I may attend your raising”, and I never got a response back. Hence I didn’t go, so my question is for the six people that read this blog, should I just go anyway when a lodge never contacts me back? I feel the digital cold shoulder and I think “Yeah, I shouldn’t go”, I guess if they really didn’t want me there they would e-mail me back, but I have a hang up for some reason. The thing is that this has happened to me several times, and I am sure I missed some great work because of it.

I think I will just show up in the future, even if I get the digital cold shoulder.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day Masonic Education Piece

Tonight I am doing another Masonic Education presentation for my lodge, I am doing it on the Veteran's of our Lodge, more specifically Elmer Sampson, who wrote of a lodge meeting he attended was read as the Grand Master's Address, which highlights brotherly love in times of war.

I am also including a presentation on the Empty Chair Degree that was written by Bro Milo, I think that it's appropriate.

Lastly we are going to discuss the Solders Address which was given to soldiers after receiving their EA, this was removed around the 1940s, but is a good discussion piece.

I hope that we have plenty of Masonic discussion, beyond bills, and repair costs.

-Bro Vick

Friday, October 31, 2008

We’ll Grind That Axe For A Long Time Part Deux – Halcyon Lodge Revisited

Here we are approaching the holidays, soon Thanksgiving and Christmas advertisements will flood our collective minds as we are facing a looming recession, and one out of four home owners loan is worth more than their property.

A year ago the Masonic blogging community was all a buzz about the cessation of Halcyon Lodge #498 from the Grand Lodge of Ohio, while brothers and on lookers where starving for information, very little was released by either the band of brothers of the newly formed Halcyon #2 or the Grand Lodge of Ohio, after a while the case subsided as other Masonic misdeeds came to light (Grand Lodge of West Virginia has been a big one). Late last night in one of my sleepless wonderings, I notice that someone left a comment in a post that was written a little less than a year ago on this blog, he wrote:


Read for yourself the FACTS of the accusations. Seek the WHOLE truth! Find the puppets who were used by former brothers to front thier bogus chairity.

Typos a side, the individual peaked my interested from that I went to the blog of Vox De Maat, which appears to be a blog set up by an anonymous blogger to combat both the boisterous nature of the supporters of Halcyon #2 and the silence from the Grand Lodge of Ohio. The blog itself has only three posts, but the most interesting of those posts is the blogger did a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) on the case and was given an exact copies of the charges filed, in it we get the perspective of the incident from the Grand Lodge of Ohio, something that has been lacking in the diatribes and internet ramblings.

This post is not meant to cast disparagement on the GOUSA, but rather to shed further light on an on going conflict, and to better understand the situation. Anonymous bomb throwing will not see the light of day, reasonable debate and disagreement will, so play nice.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

You Didn’t Ask, But I Though I Would Tell You Anyway

Recently on another Masonic Blog the author asked a group of select individuals on how to save Mainstream American Freemasonry from Extinction, by making you Grand Master of an American Jurisdiction for 5 Years, and what would you do. This has intrigued me, and I have thought about it off and on, and want to write something about it. While I wasn’t asked to participate in that particular blog, I do have my own my blog, so why not use it?

To begin this I would say that I have been from one side of this country to the other and have visited Masonic Lodges in between, and what works in Santa Fe, New Mexico might not work in Alexandria, Virginia and for that I give your rule number one, if it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it. Bottom line if a lodge is bringing in new members, having a positive impact in the community, teaching esoteric work, or whatever than there isn’t a justification or a reason to mess with the way that lodge is doing business. That being written, there would be some changes that I think could help jump start Freemasonry in the 21st century.

Offer up a choice of blue lodge types: I think that anyone that has been a Master Mason for six months knows that there are vast difference between lodges, even within a Masonic District, I would like each Masonic District to have at least three types of lodges available, Traditional Observance “like” Lodges, 20th Century Traditional Lodges, and Community Outreach Lodges. Traditional Observance “like” Lodges would have a heavy emphasis on ritual and esoteric work, would meet in dark suits or tux have table lodge once a month, and require papers written by it’s members. 20th Century Traditional Lodges, are the lodges that most people think of today, with an emphasis on fellowship (fish fry’s, pancake breakfasts, etc) is proficient at the ritual, and does small charity events. Community Outreach Lodges while meet all of the tenants of a Masonic lodge do extensive work in the local community and other Masonic charitable organizations.

I believe a key in to attracting quality candidates is giving them an option to choose which lodge meets their needs, all potential candidates who are serious about joining Freemasonry would be briefed on each lodge and encouraged to visit each type to find which Masonic journey route they would like to go. Some candidates want to join the same lodge that Father or Grandfather joined, and that’s fine, but we want to give everyone a choice in the type of lodge they would join. Far be it for me to say that only one kind of lodge is the only way to save Freemasonry.

Now living in a state like Texas and realizing that there are large rural areas that can hardly support one lodge let alone three, I refer you to rule number one, and would allow the members of that lodge to decide their best route given their membership (again, it’s about choice and the choices the brothers want to make).

Celebration of your Lodge’s Heritage: In the race to cure “Masonic World Hunger” (MWH) most have forgotten the little things that build pride and attract membership, that’s the foundation and the beginnings of your lodge. I don’t care if a lodge was founded in 1797 or 1997 it has a unique story of brotherhood and leadership that needs to be celebrated both within the walls of our temples and in the local community. That is why I would dedicate October as a month that all lodges celebrate their founding and telling the story of how they came to be, both within a tyled meeting and the community at large.

Encouragement of Younger Brothers Involvement @ Grand Lodge: A common theme that we get in our fraternity is why we aren’t attracting good men anymore, one of the factors in my mind is that Freemasonry in America has become an aging institution that isn’t putting it’s best and brightest and younger members forward, instead we rely on retired lawyers, judges, and doctors to be our face. While that brings a sense of stability, it isn’t doing much to attract men in their 20’s and 30’s. We need to celebrate our younger members, their professional achievements and have them be actively involved @ the Grand Lodge level. I am not saying that after a guy is raised slap a DDGM badge on him, but there are plenty of ways to encourage involvement at all levels, without being a Past Master, this can encourage something other than the old grey hairs we see in our local newspaper.

Community Work with Other Masonic Organizations: To help build relationships and ease tension I would work with The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas in a joint Community Outreach program to positively impact a community hit by disaster (hurricane, draught, etc). This would be a partnership between two non-profit organizations with one common goal, the relief of our common man. This would hopefully lead to both sides of the aging organizations to realize that they are not in competition with each other for membership and start to heal scars that were brought by the past. We have already recognized each other; why not work together in the areas that we have commonality.

These are the initiatives that I would feel would help our Fraternity, would it solve “Masonic World Hunger”? No, but giving brothers and candidates a choice in their Masonic experience is a key component, along with showcasing younger brothers and having a positive impact on the community beyond raising small amounts of money, but giving time and labor can have a lasting impression.

Just my thoughts, but as always I welcome yours.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Falling Off the Masonic Blogsphere

Your blog gets to a point, it gets to a point when you don’t have the drive to update the blog at all, it’s a lack of interest, a falling out, or a life event, for me it’s the last one.

I found out last month that I have been plucked to go to Afghanistan in April of 2009 as part of the NATO group, things have been a whirlwind since then. I am not a contractor doing this for the dollar, I am actually going to be making less over there with the tax exemptions than I do in my day job. While April is far away, it seems awful close given the training I need to complete and personal matters I need to take care of before I leave. It also has significantly shortened my cable tow, for instance I was in Fort Collins, Colorado this week there are two lodges here, one of them is the Collins #19, which meets on the third Wednesday. Normally this post would be about my visit, but not this time, my wife came with me and it just seemed more important to spend the evening with her, than to visit a lodge, I notice that this is a reoccurring theme in my life right now.

Still, I think that it is times like this that I need to keep Freemasonry closest in my heart, it’s lessons are most valuable now, then when things are going as expected, and for that I am eternally grateful. This morning after finishing my work early I read and commented on the Masonic Blogsphere, and it wasn’t like I missed a beat. People are still talking about West Virginia, why we aren’t attracting quality members, the decline of membership, etc. Still, it brings a comfort that brothers across the world are worried about such matters, and trying to take action to fix it.

So if you read this far thank you, this was a boring post, not about Prince Hall, or the York Rite, or whatever, it is a real part of my life, that has spilled over into my Masonic Travels.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Subduing My Passions

It has been officially six weeks since I last updated this blog, this is various reasons, including hurricanes (being in the Texas National Guard can cause you to be called up for such events), work, and home. I guess that I have spent my fair share of time reading or lurking, but not really contributing. I have started lots of posts, only for me to scrap them. See I want this blog to be above reproach, no petty wars, squabbling, flaming, etc only healthy disagreement and the core reason that I started this blog, to document my Masonic journey. While it’s fair that the web and the Masonic Blogsphere has influenced that journey, this blog can’t revolve around it, and can’t be drug down into the less than honorable behavior.

I have scraped a number of posts because they turned into ranting and raving, and less stimulating thought (even though I concede that ranting and raving can be stimulating, it rarely is when I do it), these posts include:

1) Masonic Central Podcast

2) Invitational Bodies

3) The Relationship between the Grand Lodge of Texas and The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas (I might still finish/edit this one)

4) Recognition of the GOUSA

5) Masonic Law

6) Plural memberships

Going back that is all the partially written and mad man writing post I scraped in the six week period, I am sure there are more rattling around in my head. One of the many lessons in Freemasonry is that you must learn to subdue your passions, I am not saying censor yourself, just be able to state your opinion without being so inflammatory. Don’t worry I will get controversial, I just know my limits.

Also, I recently got into Facebook, so if you want to add me, use my e-mail.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Going to Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK

It seems that my travels are going to take me to England, while this won’t be the first time I have been to England; it will be the first time as a Master Mason. I won’t have the time (or really the money) to go see all of the Masonic sites. It’s also unfortunate that all of the lodges in the immediate area I am in are closed for the summer, not to have meetings until September, so I will miss them by a month.

I purchased Solomon's Builders by Bro Hodapp, I have been meaning to purchase this book, and I think that the 7:44 minute flight from Chicago to London will be the perfect time to read through the book. I figure with all of the time I have been spending in DC lately that it should be a good read.

When I return I will be attending my lodges first stated meeting the second week of August, then that Saturday they are having a Knights Templar workshop that I will most likely go to, even though there isn’t a hope or a prayer that I will make the line up anytime soon. I do love the work of the KT degrees.

Travel well and be safe, my friends.

Picture of the Salisbury Cathedral

Friday, July 25, 2008

Those Crazy Shriners!

Another Shriner scandal is being reported in the New York Times regarding more issues with the way they handle their money and file their taxes, improper firings, etc.

Really nothing new to the Masonic blogsphere, but this one quote from the article nearly made me fall out of my comfortable chair:

The Shriners employed Vantage to handle fund-raising for the hospitals from 1999 through 2003. Out of $46.2 million raised by Vantage, the Shrine received only $2.5 million, according to the report.

For employing financial whizzes and sitting on the richest endowment ($8 Billion), that seems like a poor choice.

Like I said the Shrine is going through some growing pains, much like the rest of the Masonic world, they just have a lot more infrastructure. :)

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/25/us/25shrine.html?_r=1&th=&adxnnl=1&oref=sl

Friday, July 11, 2008

Renewing Your Masonic Spirit

Washington D.C. and northern Virginia are nothing short of a Mecca for American Freemasonry. It is to Freemasons what Colorado Springs is to Born Again Christians. Here once a year the 1% of the 1% meets for what is called “Masonic Week”, but still to the rest of us regular active Masons it beacons to us like some type of pilgrimage to the place where Washington was raised and to experience the myth of Freemasonry in the cradle of democracy and power in the free world. Even if you aren’t a history a buff, as a member of our glorious fraternity you can’t help feel a level of giddiness when you walk past the Houses of the Temple or the numerous other Masonic landmarks in the area.

Still Freemasonry is far beyond impressive structures and past leaders; it’s about enlightenment and of course the tagline “Making good men better”. In that sense it has been since December of 2007 that I have visited a lodge in the area, and being charged by TO Lodge talks I have been given, I felt emboldened to try a visit to another lodge. Due to timing, it wasn’t any lodge; it was the famed Alexandria-Washington No 22 A.F. & A.M. which meets in the George Washington Masonic Memorial.

Now for the regular readers of my blog, know that I had mixed feelings about the memorial (particularly the rite recruitment), but I do have to say that it is an impressive structure to meet and work in. The lodge room itself is immaculately maintained, the lodge is one of the few left that plays music during the various processions and pauses in the opening, closing, and ritual work. I was also fortunate to witness a Fellow Craft Degree and witness three men being passed. Witnessing this ritual, which is so different than that we perform in Texas, helped wash my soul in the excellence of ritual and the teachings that each of us should strive for when we do the work.

With the festive afterwards, I didn’t leave the Memorial until around 2345, got in my rental, lit up a San Cristobal and drove home listening to WETA 90.9 FM completely content with the world, all the while my mind swimming with esoteric thoughts. I look forward to returning to that lodge in the future. #

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Burning Taper and GOUSA

The two in the subject are completely different, but I thought it would be fun to lump them together.

1) For those that don't know the The Burning Taper author has been locked out of his blog because of a report that it was a spam blog. From his new blog:

Google/Blogger has proven to be unreliable, having blocked my publishing access to a two-and-a-half year old blog because a robot tagged it as a “possible spam blog.” Inadvertent though it (probably) is, not having the ability to write and post at will after doing so for nearly three years is… well, incredibly restricting as well as incredibly liberating.

He is now updating his blog from wordpress, hopefully he will get access back and will be writing again.

2) There was a question about the sovereignty of the new Grand Orient US, from their website:

The official Patent from the Grand Orient of France giving the Grand Orient of the United States of America legal Masonic authority to work in North America was signed in Paris on Friday, the 27th of June, 2008 at 9:15 AM EST. A Treaty of Amity was also signed between the two sovereign Masonic powers.

A thanks goes to Brandt from Euclid lodge who commented about it.

Again, this is for those of you that care.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

That Went Over Like a Lead Balloon

Well my first presentation in a lodge room that was solely my own (i.e. not reading someone elses work) was a complete dud in the lodge I presented it in. Honestly it was bound to happen, just didn’t think it would happen my first time at bat. This wasn’t my mother lodge, it’s another local lodge that I am/was considering affiliating with.

Let’s see what didn’t go wrong? The projector worked, the slides were the right version that is always a plus. The downside? I broke the light (I still feel awful about this), the audience was skeptical to the entire concept of Traditional Observance Lodges ever working in Texas “Texas isn’t formal enough for that to work here.” The usual skeptical fare, they are somewhat right. I live in one of the biggest cities in Texas and it isn’t as formal as a small town lodge in Virginia (at least I haven’t sat in a lodge that is as formal). What’s with the additional ceremony? When would they pay the bills? Etc, etc.

But with all chances in life sometimes you win big, sometimes you lose, this time I take it as a lost. Still I must have pride that I put myself out there, and at least got people thinking about something than their lines in the lodge room or how much the rent is that month, even if I made an ass out of myself in the process.

At least I have the long weekend to lick my wounds and try again in my mother lodge.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Texas Freemasonry Video on YouTube

Brother Blake from Gonzales Masonic Lodge #30 made the following video:

He made it for his lodge, but I think that it's pretty good for South Texas overall, check it out when you get a chance!

GOUSA Has Recieved a Patent From GOdF

This is starting to bubble across the internet, but it appears that John Silfko Grand Master of the GOUSA has been given an official patent from the GOdF giving the GOUSA Masonic authority over North America.

This was signed on Friday June 27th @ 9:15am, also a treaty of Amity was signed between the two sovereign Masonic "powers".

Just in case you cared...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Doing Something Positive, Just Not Complaining

I started last night to fall for the bad behavior that seems to infect others who blog. Regardless of it being a Masonic blog or not. I have tried to keep this blog above the sniping that seems to be an easy road to go down, and keep it focused on one thing, my Masonic journey, not be distracted by less than desirable behavior.

The incoming Worshipful Master asked me if I would consider heading up the education committee, since our lodge hasn’t had an official education committee for a while, I thought it would be a positive contribution to the revitalization of thought and helping the lodge out beside sitting in a chair and memorizing a bunch lines (which is equally important, but does less to stimulate Masonic discussion). While I could dust off some of the speeches of the past, talking papers on the third degree or promotion of apendent bodies, I am going to talk about Traditional Observance Lodges. While this topic is pretty well known in the blogsphere, it seems to be a knowledge point lacking in Southern Texas Freemasonry.

It seems that when Texans think of Traditional Observance Lodges, they think of the Grand Masters vision of the “Men we use to be” which is to say 1955 Freemasonry, which is completely different than a Traditional Observance Lodge concept (Less than 72 Members, High Dues, emphasis on the INITIATIC experience, Festive Boards, etc.) So I am working on a presentation using *GASP* a powerpoint presentation, I will present it to my mother lodge and see if there are any other lodges that are willing for me to come out and speak.

I don’t see this as an out right recruitment plan, as more as an education plan. If a club starts so be it (thought I am pretty skeptical that will ever happen) at least it might, just might start the gears turning about other ways to think of lodge outside of sloppy joes, opening, reading of the minutes and closing.

You can sit on the sidelines and bitch, or you can get up and do something, it’s entirely up to you.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Masonic Central – Episode 2 W/ Tim Bryce Thoughts

Listen to the first Masonic Central episode this afternoon while waiting for my air conditioner to be repaired (let me tell you how much fun it is to be in South Texas with no air conditioner on a 92 degree day). I have some thoughts on the subject matter on content:

1) I honestly think that I am the only person in the Masonic Blogsphere that doesn’t think that the Shrine and the Blue Lodge should split. The Shrine is an aspect and apart of our American Masonic Heritage. What makes my statements even more bizarre is that I’m not even in the Shrine, and I don’t have any plans to join. I understand their recruitment tactics leave something to be desired in some states (we’ve never entertained the idea of one day classes in Texas), but it is an organization that exemplifies charity aspect of Freemasonry.

2) I do agree about TO Lodges, I honestly think that two types of lodges need to be made available in the US, the 1950s style lodge and a TO Lodge. That way you have more of a choice of the type of Masonic experience you want to get out of the Craft.

3) I also agree about the on-line Freemasonry discussion groups get really nasty, which is why I don’t pipe up more often about current events.

Overall it’s a good show with more of a round table discussion. I look forward to future broadcasts.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Frank Haas Suing the Grand Lodge of West Vrigina

Wow, see what happens when you come home from work early?

Frank Haas has filed a lawsuit against Charlie Montgomery and Charles F Coleman and the Grand Lodge of West Virginia for his expulsion from Freemasonry.

Read all about it here:


Interesting, I wonder if this is the first time that a brother has sued a Grand Lodge, and what precedence it would set if he would win.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Taylor’s Monitor – Texas

I am sure that most Freemasons reading this have gone to eBay to look for various Masonic items, I purchased my copy of Morals and Dogma (circa 1919) from eBay right after initiation in the Entered Apprentice degree, and read it and found that Pikes thoughts in regards to the EA, FC and MM are fascinating to say the least.

Recently I was lucky enough to come across a real find, Taylor’s Monitor for Texas circa 1905 (for a real steal as well). This book was published 7 years before my grandfather was born, and gives an interesting glimpse into Texas Freemasonry 103 years ago. It shows that song was an integral part of Masonic ritual and that prayer was used more often, the biggest glaring difference is the burial ritual which has been revised multiple times; also it has additional addresses for a chaplain, solider, and foreigner. Here is the address to the solider after initiation:

Our institution breathes a spirit of general philanthropy. Its benefits, considered in a social view, are extensive. It unites all mankind. It, in every nation, opens an asylum to virtue in distress and grants hospitality to the necessitous and unfortunate. The sublime principles of universal goodness and love to all mankind, which are essential to it, cannot be lost in national distinction, prejudices and animosities. The rage of contest it has abated, and substituted in its stead the milder emotions of humanity. It has taught the pride of victory to give way to the dictates of an honorable connection.

Should your country demand your services in foreign wars, and should captivity be your portion, may you find affectionate Brethren where others would only find enemies.

In whatever nation you travel, when you meet a Mason, you will find a brother and a friend, who will do all in his power to serve you; and who will relieve you should you be poor or in distress, to the utmost of his ability and with ready cheerfulness.

Regarding the previous owner(s) I can tell you the book came from an estate sale in Nacogdoches, TX which is home to Milam Lodge #2 AF&AM which has a long and rich history in the state of Texas, the lodge actually was originally in Fort Nacogdoches (they have a great website, go check it out). The owner of this monitor was a Worshipful Master as he has earmarked the order of business section, it also appears that he was DDGM as well, as the duties and installation of the DDGM is ear marked as well. The book is in excellent condition, and has no writing on the inside of it. It has a little wear and tear, but given it’s age, it’s in excellent condition.

I think this is a book I will cherish for the many years to come.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

It’s That Time of Year Again

My mother lodge unlike a lot of lodges in North America have their elections in June and installations in July, where as most (at least most that I run into) have their elections in December and installations in January. Last year I decline a position in the line up simply because I felt that it was too soon after my raising (like a month) and taking a seat seemed rushed almost. I wanted to take my time last year and learn the work and the lectures before I start in a line up.

In December I asked my supervisor if I could travel less now that things have calmed down in my office. He said he would see what he could do, since February I have been home four weeks, while my wife begrudgingly took the free first class ticket back home to visit her mother (because of my frequent flyer miles), my activeness in the lodge and Freemasonry from an education standpoint has suffered just as greatly.

Plane trips that use to engulf reading about Freemasonry have become plane trips reading an upcoming proposal, or writing a last minute brief, or writing about six e-mails that will go out as soon as I get to my hotel room. Like the quality of the esoteric discussion of this blog has gone down the toilet (along with the overall content), so has my involvement with my mother lodge. What good is it if I learn parts, yet I am not in lodge to execute my knowledge during the degrees? We’ve had five EAs go through since February, and I was out of town for every one of their initiations.

So I guess that brings me back to the point of this post, the last lodge meeting I was at (nearly a month ago), again the SW asked me if I was still traveling as much as I have been and if I could be in the line-up, and I explained that it was my sincerest hope to stay home, but I can’t guarantee anything (and I can’t). He had a look of disappointment and walked away, I haven’t heard any talk of it since.

See now I feel guilty, that I am taking from Freemasonry and not giving back. Am I just another victim of the 21st Century? We can’t have telecom/VTC lodge meetings, I can visit lodges while I am traveling, but that too feels like I am again taking without giving.

I definitely want Freemasonry in my life, but I need to give back beyond blogging about my selfish problems, and setting up a website for my lodge.

Picture: The first documented use of flight for Masonic purposes occurred on 6th November 1929, when a team of Grand Lodge Officers flew from Parafield Aerodrome (just north of Adelaide) across Gulf St Vincent to Yorketown, for the purpose of taking part in the Installation meeting of Melville Lodge No. 36.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Last and Least

I have been meaning to sit down and write about Freemasonry for a while, but as all things, real life has taken precedence. First, I think that I am the last person to write about this, but my sympathies go out to the Dunn family in the passing of R. Theron Dunn. My interactions with Bro Dunn were very limited (if at all), the first post I read by him was advocating a split between the Blue Lodge and the Shrine (a stance I disagreed with). Bro Dunn striked me as an old school Mason in a new world medium. I think that it is safe to say that the Masonic Blogsphere won’t be the same without him, or his unique perspective.

The last post that Bro Dunn wrote, he wrote about The Masonic Society. A new research society for Freemasons, this society is founded by all of the cool Freemason brothers, like Chris Hodapp (Freemasonry for Dummies) and Eric Diamond (X-Oriente). The society states the following from their homepage:

“A significant group of passionate Masons are coming together to create what aims to be nothing less than the premier North American research society in Freemasonry. Called simply The Masonic Society, we are gathering together brothers who have a deep and abiding desire to seek knowledge, explore history, discover symbolism, debate philosophies, and in short, who will be at the forefront of charting a path for the future of Freemasonry.”

There has been a concern of sorts from members of the Philalethes Society that this new group is direct competition for membership and researchers, for those that don’t know here is the “mission” statement for the Philalethes Society:

“The sole purpose of this Research Society is to act as a clearinghouse for Masonic knowledge. It exchanges ideas, researches problems confronting Freemasonry, and passes them along to the Masonic world.”

The issue that some don’t care for in the Philalethes Society is their constant badgering/bickering about “recognition”. This extends beyond the normal Prince Hall recognition issue and goes into European and United Grand Lodge of England conversations. While at first can be enlightening, can wear very thin on your nerves. There is nothing wrong with discussing “recognition” in the Freemasonry world, because it is a corner stone of our Masonic philosophies. Still, when you beat a dead horse over actions of a few, it starts to stink.

So will a fresh start with The Masonic Society give a needed to boost to Masonic thought on a North America level? Or will it be another, excuse the term, “circle jerk” of Grand Lodge puppets and title seekers? In my opinion it’s best for us to wait and judge them off of their accomplishments, rather than reading into people’s perceived intentions and motives of the founders. Still, I wouldn’t run out and buy a membership just yet, I want to know that I would be getting my money’s worth, beyond the lapel pin of course.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Losing My Way – Traveling The Last 4 out of 5 Weeks

The last five weeks, all except for one week I was traveling somewhere. I was in Washington D.C. for two weeks, then I was in Louisiana for my one week for the reserves, then I went back to DC, had a week at home, during that time I was hosting my own conference, then this past week I was in Raleigh North Carolina (North Carolina State University to be exact, same time the HILROD was there).

When I was in DC, I couldn’t find a lodge that was within reasonable distance that meet when I was in town, and when I was on Active Duty they treat me as slave labor working long hours (14-18), with no breaks, not like I could find a local lodge then. Then when I was searching for lodge in North Carolina, images from my visit to Naval Lodge #4 in Washington D.C. was running through out my head and I just felt like it wasn’t worth it.

Thankfully I will be home for the next two weeks, while I will still be working, it won’t be like it has been, either getting back or going on a trip, so I should be able to slow down, go to the esoteric classes and attend lodge. I know that a lot of my fellow brothers that blog complain bitterly (and rightfully so) about it when they attend lodge, they are sick of it being opening, paying bills, and closing. But at this point, the comfort and reminders of the teachings of Freemasonry would do my tired soul some good. The comfort that Freemasonry offers from an esoteric standpoint can’t be offered in any Rotary Club or BPOE. While one keeps the tenants and the oath close to their heart, reminders of those tenants, can do a world of good.

But because it was bound to happen, it looks like I will be in Dallas the week of the 19th of May, I know that I have a fair number of Texan Masons that read my blog. So if you are having a stated meeting or want to get together, drop me a line. I honestly haven’t visited any other lodges in Texas, and would love to see how things are down in the big yellow city.

Monday, March 31, 2008

My Visit to George Washington Masonic Memorial

In the next three out of the four weeks I will be in Washington DC, today I was asked by a customer, if I was going to get an apartment here. My life on the road is hard on my home life and my research suffers as a result. Today a meeting was cancelled this afternoon and I took the opportunity to visit the George Washington Masonic Memorial, an hour before it closed. I didn’t sit in lodge or impose my travels on brothers that seem more wary of brother visitors than of eavesdroppers and cowans. I went in a tour group with a group of regular tourists; three of us were Masons (not including the tour guide). The other two were much older and the one was an atypical Shriner. He hadn’t been in the blue lodge since 1974. Said he didn’t like the memorization work, and he wanted to have fun, the other said nothing during the entire tour.

The tour started in the Replica Lodge Room, which is of course a replica of the Alexandria-Washington Lodge room as it was in 1802. It contained many historic items, including Washington’s Bedchamber Clock which stopped at 10:20pm, December 14, 1799 (the exact moment of his death). Of course other such items as the silver trowel used by Washington at the United States Capitol Cornerstone Laying Ceremony in 1793. The room is laid out as a typical lodge room (albeit pretty small). The artifacts are interesting, but found it odd that he (the tour guide) didn’t bring up the pin knife, which is major “icon” of the entire monument. We moved onto the memorial hall, which is magnificent memorial and is really something to behold. Posting pictures on the internet doesn’t do it justice.

We skipped the Grotto Floor and went to the George Washington Museum which has more Washington artifacts (not necessary Masonic), include all aspects of his life as a planter, soldier, and president. Included in this exhibit was the history of the construction of the building U.S. Capitol. Interesting enough the museum is sponsored by the north and southern jurisdictions of the Scottish Rite, and recently was renovated.

The next floor was the Royal Arch floor, which is decorated and adorned with the symbols of the Royal Arch apendent body. While as a York Rite Mason, I found it very interesting, I would imagine was confusing for the majority of the tour group, or out right boring. We skipped the Cryptic Exhibit, most likely because of time, and moved onto the Knights Templar Chapel, which had some lovely stained glass windows, the room itself is meant for reflection, but the tour guide was very clear that there was no connection between the Freemasons and the Knights Templars of the 1300s. I have a feeling that the poor guy gets asked that a lot.

The top level, is just bizarre. It is sponsored by the Tall Cedars of Lebanon of North America I had no idea that this organization existed, but it is 13,000 strong, and is mainly concentrated in the north east. This organization’s goal is to find a cure for Muscular Dystrophy, the tour guide referred to them as one of 19 “Silly Hat” organizations.

The tour ended on the balcony and then took us to the shrine exhibit, which is very Shrine like (I don’t know how else to explain it).

The monument itself is interesting in that it was conceived and brought into reality not by the GI Generation, but by the Lost Generation, something that is easily forgotten given the stature and impressiveness of the building. The sense that I got is that it isn’t a monument to Washington as it’s a monument to Freemasonry in the 20th century. Pitches all over to join vary apendent bodies, York Rite, Grotto, Shrine, Tall Cedars, Scottish Rite. Its overt recruitment is not meant to lure people into the blue lodge but to get Master Masons out of the blue lodge, put on a stupid hat and raise money for your charity of choice. I guess that is how I took the museum and tour, I mean as a MM it’s not like you don’t get people pushing a Rite applications in your hand right after you are raised, or a Shrine application every time you go to lodge.

I would like to go back to the site in 50 years, just to see if its focus has changed at all. I honestly think that things are changing all around us in Freemasonry, and while those clutching the old ideals of 20th Century Freemasonry are still the predominate thought, I think that things will be changing over the course of the next 20 years, and it will be interesting to behold

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Where Have I Been?

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I properly updated this blog. Part of that was intentional, and part was unintentional, so I guess I will start with the intentional, because that is always easier to explain.

Running up into Masonic Week at Washington D.C. I was reading more and more distasteful things in the Freemason Internet world. See passionate Freemasons can became like rabid Star Trek fans, year long arguments will reign over such things as how to wear your Masonic ring, to the always touchy subject of recognition. While these arguments are good mental exercises, one gets tired of reading the same tirades, by the same people (no matter how many times they change their username) who won’t concede anything and will just beat their “point” into the ground. This type of behavior wasn’t what I needed at that point in my Freemason journey. So I just stopped reading the mailing lists/blogs/fourms and concentrated on what was important to me at the time, learning the work.

So what has happened since my last post? Not a lot, my involvement in the Chapter and Council, along with my involvement with the Commandery has grown. I enjoy learning the work in all of them, and find the Commandery particularly interesting, just because it’s a very different take than the Blue Lodge, but some how very familiar, I just can’t put my finger on it. Still in the mean time I have learned the Masters Lecture in true form, I only stumble at one part, towards the end. Otherwise, I am pretty damn close to having the lecture down, and giving it at the next MM ceremony. For Chapter I have been learning the part of Principal Sojourner, which has been a lot of fun.

I guess that blogging or Freemasonry in general is like all things, its best taken in moderation. So here is starting to read again, in moderation of course. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

It’s About Time!

Looking back at the calendar it has been too long since I have properly updated this blog. Part of that is because I haven’t had a chance to really be that involved with things Freemasonry. A large part of this has to do with the fact that I have been on the road non-stop for the last 4 weeks. I haven’t been able to attend Lodge, Chapter, Council or Commandery. Normally while traveling I will try to visit a local lodge, but my schedule really hasn’t been accommodating that either. My schedule has been packed from 0600-2300, dinners, working lunches, or just beat, it never seemed to work out.

As I am writing this I am in the Admirals Club @ DFW waiting for my flight back to Washington, D.C. (I say back because it will be my third visit already this year). For those of you that don’t know this week is Masonic Week, where the majority of the national invitational Masonic bodies meet to conduct meetings and have feasts. I find it ironic that I will be traveling to D.C. during such a huge Masonic gathering, and I will miss out on it. I know some of the brothers that are attending and I regret not getting together and meeting some of them face to face. But as the saying goes, that is the way the cookie crumbles.

My mentor recently had his forty year anniversary in Freemasonry, and I was lucky enough to be in town for it. He enjoys telling the story of how he got involved into Masonry here when he moved from Tyler, TX. After a three week hiatus this past Monday I had an opportunity to work with him on the Masters Lecture. When I arrived at his house he immediately showed me his certificate, and he beamed with pride. He is a humble man, a twice PM of our lodge, his emphasis in Masonry has always been for the education and betterment of the brethren. He wasn’t a title collector nor a politician, he is a simple man that is trying to do what he can to make sure the lessons and teachings of Masonry go on. Sometimes through mailing lists or word of mouth, brothers behaving in less than Masonic (I have learned to hate the term UnMasonic, as it seems to be nothing short of name calling and used to elicit a response) towards their fellow brother. We must remember not to involve ourselves in their tactics nor give their argument heed. We are all here for one common purpose to learn to improve ourselves through Freemasonry, all other agendas and honors are secondary effects of the first and come with all institutions of man.

When you put those things before the true intention of Freemasonry that is when you start to do those things. The title chasing, chest beating, and political games. We as younger Masons must always remember to keep that in mind as we make our Masonic journey, where ever it my take you.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Houston Scottish Rite Temple - RIP

Received this message from the Grand Lodge of Texas Internet Committee:

The Grand Lodge Trustees agreed that this Masonic Auction should be communicated to Texas Masons and Texas Lodges.

The Houston Scottish Rite Temple is being demolished, and Masonic artifacts and building furnishings are being auctioned to the highest bidder. This includes ceiling tile, wall paneling, lights, fixtures, bathroom fixtures, Exit signs, display cases, etc.

Bentley & Associates, an Amarillo Auction Firm with Masonic background, will conduct the auction on Saturday, January 26, 10:00 a.m., 7575 Brompton Street, Houston, TX.

Sincerely and fraternally,

Tom Guest, Grand Secretary

Sad to see another Temple fall....

Freemasonry in Iran

A week ago a young man by them name of Reza left a comment in my blog asking about joining Freemasonry. This isn’t all that uncommon, as I get e-mails of the same, but he said that he was living in Iran. I thought with all of the banter about regular, irregular, clandestine, co-masonry, that we need to reflect about 30 years ago when Freemasonry was banned from Iran and it’s supporters chased from the country under Islamic fascism.

For those that don’t know the 1978-79 revolution in Iran made Persian Freemasons vulnerable to the anti-Masonic sentiments and threats from the leaders of the revolution. The leaders identified Masons as American and Zionist agents, and where also greatly responsible for the woes of the country. The secretive nature of the Masonic order in Persia made it susceptible to conspiracy theories and of course their secret rule. The biggest blow to the Persian Freemasonry came when the Masonic archive and roster of members of the lodges under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Iran was captured. From this point membership in Freemasonry was declared a crime and the roster was used by the Islamic Republic to persecute hundreds of Persian Masons whose names appeared on the list. After the firm establishments of the Islamic Republic Masons were executed, more were imprisoned, and a large number were purged from government offices and schools. During this time propaganda was published much like works in 1938 Germany accusing Freemasons of all kinds of conspiracies against the government and people of the Islamic faith.

Many master masons managed to leave the country legally or illegally and immigrated to Europe, Canada and the United States. In 1982 17 past masters of Persian lodges sent a petition seeking permission to continue their fraternity as members of the Grand Lodge of Iran. The request was accepted, and the meeting of the Grand Committee of the Lodge was convened later that year at the Grand Lodge of New York. In March of 1985, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts granted approval to the Grand Lodge of Iran (in exile) to conduct Masonic activities in the City of Boston. There are now Persian lodges in Washington D.C., France and in California all under the Grand Lodge of Iran (in exile).

The current contact information for the Grand Lodge of Iran(in exile) is:

Grand Lodge of Iran (in exile)
P.O. Box 25017
Los Angeles, CA 90025, USA

e-mail: GlofI@aol.com

Many thanks to the members of the Philalethes Society for helping me out, most of the information was heavily lifted from: http://www.iranica.com/articles/v10f2/v10f235d.html

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Odds and Ends - Halcyon, Beer and TO

There are some odds and ends things I wanted to write about in my blog, but I don’t feel like they warrant a full post of their own, so here they go:

1) I haven’t read it in any other blogs, but Halcyon Lodge has posted a letter that they are sending out to their members regarding their side of the story in their dispute with the Grand Lodge of Ohio. Anyone that has any interest in this development should go read the letter as it is well written and very articulate of Halcyon's position. I don’t agree with some of their points, and know that I am only getting one side of the story, but it is the best written explanation that has shown up on the net to date. I was also impressed in their thoughtfulness of the brothers that still want to be recognized by the Grand Lodge of Ohio. There were some bloggers that were very critical of this point of Halcyon lodge, and I hope this puts some of their fears to rest.

2) The beer I made in honor of the Blue Lodge didn’t ferment properly, and hence it’s a bad batch. Maybe the prohibition saints cursed my beer in the name of our brothers from the early 20th century, I don’t know. I think I will try again, but maybe make a beer in honor of the York Rite Festival coming up this spring. Or I might make another one for the Blue Lodge, all I know is when I tried the beer on the 27th of December (St. John’s Day), it didn’t taste right at all. So here is going back to square one.

3) Last night was the Commandery’s Officer Installation ceremony, while nothing special, it is honestly what all aspects of Freemasonry is suppose to be. An open bar before, a nice meal and afterwards ceremony and Masonic discussion, a nice evening overall, it should be the standard and not the exception with Masonic dinners in the United States. This also gave me a chance to start pitching the idea of a Traditional Observance Lodge. The idea was met with warm regard and excitement, especially by those that are in direct contact with the Grand Lodge of Texas. Initially I thought that this wouldn’t go anywhere given the sometimes staunch attitude that the Grand Lodge of Texas is known for, but maybe there is hope for a Traditional Observance Lodge, after all?

That's it, just some Freemasonry scrap that could be put into one post. :)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Regius Poem My Personal Interpretation of the Fourth Point

We will now take a look at the fourth point of the Regius Poem, in the series. The fourth point points that an apprentice of the craft must be true to the craft, his Master and his fellows, for the laws that apply to them, apply to him as well.

The fourth point teacheth us also,
That no man to his craft be false;
Error he shall maintain none
Against the craft, but let it go;
Nor no prejudice he shall no do
To his master, nor his fellow also;
And though the 'prentice be under awe,
Yet he would have the same law.

In this essence I think we are all apprentices (I know I am) in the craft, and we must be careful not to allow our passions to get the better of us, and allow us to become false to the Craft We must remember the line “Nor no prejudice he shall no do to his master, nor his fellow also” in our speculative work, we are to make sure we aren’t being false to the Worshipful Master or our Fellows, that we must at all times govern ourselves to the best of our ability and keep our passions within due bonds. This is another foundation of the fraternity that I hold near and dear towards my heart.

In the military when I salute a superior officer I do so because of the rank that officer has, and not the man himself. So in essence I would be saluting the Lt Col, not the man John Smith. Men need to have this mentality when conducting themselves in lodge and dealing with the master of the lodge, for we are saluting the position of the East and not the man sitting in the East. Sometimes our passions get the better of us, and we tend to mix the man and the position up, and we allow this confusion to lead us down the wrong road. When I first was in the military as a brand new 2nd LT I had problems saluting a Captain that was being investigated (and later article 15) for sexual harassment, during that time I came to peace with the fact that I wasn’t saluting that man, but the rank that the man wears. If he betrays his position with that rank than I and those around him must hold him accountable for that action. He doesn’t soil the rank, as he soils his name, because millions have come before and millions after who wear that rank and do it justice. Whether he deserves to wear that rank is a whole different matter.

I, for instance disagreed with the Grand Master of Texas regarding his statement about “We aren’t the men we use to be”. My disagreement isn’t a sign of disrespect or defame of his position, but with the man’s stance on today’s modern Freemason. I respectfully disagree with his statement, and I would never defame the office of Grand Master of Texas, to prove my point or engage on any other personal attacks, on the Grand Lodge.

We must remember that as we journey as Freemasons through our Masonic journey that we will inevitably disagree with someone at some point. We need to remember that our disagreement is with that Mason, and not the office that he holds. We must circumscribe our desires as to always treat that brother with the respect he deserves. I don’t care if it’s in a lodge room, grand lodge, or on-line. We have to remember that we all meet on the level, and act accordingly as such.