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.