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. :)


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.