Sunday, June 27, 2010

Grand Lodge of Texas, Prince Hall, and Afghanistan

I know I have been neglectful of this blog, and there are a lot of things that I have wanted to write about, and receive feedback on. I am hoping that I can start that again with this post. The three topics above may not seem all interrelated, but for me they are, and I hope to explain myself with this post.

In early April of this year I received an e-mail from the Joint Chief of Staff Personnel directorate:

Gen McCrystal, AFGHAN CC, has submitted a by name request for Capt Vickery.

From there everything went downhill and fast, my wife was fit to be tied, my civilian career which was just getting back to normal was in shambles, and my abscene from the Craft was going to be extended. For the first time in my life I understood what it meant when they say “Service before self”. For a long time, especially in the Air Force it is almost seen as a tagline, or something you have to say, but now I know. I have a skill set that has become valuable for the commanders in Afghanistan, and because of that I was called back to serve for a minimum of a year, so here I sit on a break, writing this post in Kabul, Afghanistan.

In regards to the Craft (which is what this blog is about), I don’t have to be deprived of the work, but I am because of the Grand Lodge of Texas and their current recognition of Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas. For the longest time I was going to refrain from posting about the GLoTX and the Prince Hall issue, because honestly I didn’t want the headache. I know that most brothers who are reading this feel that the entire issue/blame is to be placed at the feet of the Grand Lodge of Texas that it is all on them to make everything right, not so fast. While the GLoTX did recognize the Grand Lodge of Prince Hall Texas, they put on the restriction that no Masonic communication is to happen between the two organizations in any manner. This was agreed to by our Prince Hall brothers, and so while GLoTX recognize their right to exist, neither party agreed on much else.

Now the reasons for this particular arrangement is that our Prince Hall brothers didn’t want communication, only recognition to be able to apply to the UGLE to be formally recognize, and while that can seem like the old excuses of segregation “they like it that way”, I don’t feel that blind racism is the culprit as others may have you think. You go into most lodges in south east Texas you will see Past Masters with names like Ramirez, Hernandez, and Garcia. We need to call the Masonic communication issue what it is for parties, xenophobia, period. It isn’t unreasonable that members of the GLoTX and the MWGLPHTX don’t want to delude their Masonic traditions with one another, hell I see this with lodges across town from one another, being highly critical in how the other performs the work, etc.

So what is my point? All this posturing, crusading and shrill arguments are fine for you back in the states, but the sad state of affairs is that while Prince Hall lodges operate in Afghanistan on military installations; myself and others are unfortunately precluded from taking part. I am regulated to read and pontificate on this blog about the work, instead of beholding the fellowship and enlightment it can bring a man in some of the most horrible places imaginable.

For some reason, I have a feeling that the Masonic year of 2010/2011 will be a very dark one for me.

-Bro Vick

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Rough Road to Reintegration in Freemasonry

When you get back from a deployment from a combat zone, you are constantly told the concerns about reintegration. Most notably they worry about how you are going to interact with your family, your friends and your co-workers. That reintegration was for the most part smooth for me, I returned to work in December, started to go to drill in January, and life was starting to move at a normal pace. My patience with people has gotten back to its normal levels, so overall it’s been pretty smooth, except for my reintegration back into Lodge.

Rejoining the Masonic brotherhood has been the hardest part in adjusting back to civilian life.

While I was deployed I often thought long and hard about Freemasonry and would read the monitor, and reflect the most on the first three degrees, the Knights of Malta and of course the Order of the Temple. When I returned there was nothing more that I wanted than to sit and have those familiar staples of dinner w/ the lodge, then retiring to the lodge room for some work. I alluded to it earlier, about the when I returned to lodge a week after returning to the states. I guess after much reflection I realized the contributing factors (and ongoing factors) in trying to find out what has changed, and why I just can’t feel comfortable at my mother lodge. First my lodge has had an influx of new brothers since about August, this seems to be happening due to increase in community activity and involvement with the local Army post. These men didn’t know me, I didn’t know them and so there seem to be an almost stand-offnish attitude between the both of us, this of course normally (and it has) breaks down if someone sees you often enough

The second factor is that first meeting when I returned the WM did not extend to me any recognition of my safe return from my deployment. While this sounds self-important but everywhere else; work, home, my guard unit did this, and they were my co-workers/friends not my brothers. I was later told that this didn’t happen do to the attention that was being given to an upcoming event. After my first meeting at the lodge I didn’t go back until January.

Returning again things really didn’t change, I was then involved in deep reflection, did I move on from Freemasonry or did it move on from me? I decided to return to the one thing that has always brought me solace within the Fraternity, the Work. My mentor invited me to start the work again, and I was starting to realize that re-learning (or dusting out the cobwebs) seems to be the initial step in reinvigorating my path in Freemasonry.

Will this work? I don’t know for sure, today we have three EA degrees (like I said, we have had a huge influx of members), I have been offered the part of Senior Warden, and with some practice this week I am ready (as I will ever be) to start being more active again.

I am as always open to your suggestions and will try to do a better job of updating my progress.


-Bro Vick

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jay-Z The Freemason – Just Let It Go

Here we go again, every time that Jay-Z releases a new album, the internet crazies from all over claim that he is deep in the occult and of course is a Freemason. This started back in 2000 when he used his hand jester that professional wrestler Dimond Dallas Page trademarked called “The Self-High Five” way back in 1996. Page sued Jay-Z for the use of the sign. Internet crazies, conspiracy nuts everywhere were claiming that the sign was Masonic in nature and that Jay-Z was actually a member of the Illuminati. Though I can’t find the same allegations for Diamond Dallas Page, which is interesting as he is the first to use it, or so he claims.

Well it seems that every time Jay-Z releases an album and the videos for that album he is accused of promoting occultism and Freemasonry. This happened when he officially released the video for his song “On To the Next One”. Critics claim that it is full of Masonic references, but I see one kind of, but not really. They also claim it for the video for his hit “Run this Town”, in the trailer when Jay-Z is explaining the video he is wearing a shirt that reads “Do What Thou Wilt” the mantra of the Ordo Templi Orientis and was created by Aleister Crowley the self proclaimed wickedest man on the planet. This of course sent most of the Anti-Freemasons over the edge as absolute proof that he is a Freemason and OTO.

So is Jay-Z a Freemason? Most likely not, though anything is possible, some of his critics and fans are claiming he is doing all of this to provoke the crazies, that seems like a possibility. Only Jay-Z knows if he is a Freemason, or a self worshipper form the OTO or whatever. Bottom line, controversy sales, and Jay-Z is milking it for all it’s worth. Here is the video for “On To the Next One” which I am sure you will here at your next secret lodge meeting:

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year – Time to Start Blogging Again

Time to wipe off the dust of the blog From Darkness to Light, and start G*A*S*P blogging again, so to begin things I will give a quick update.

I returned from Afghanistan on 3rd of November, I wasn’t expecting to leave the country for another week when I received a phone call from PERSCO telling me I needed to be out in the next 72 hours. When I got into Baltimore and smelled the fresh air and the clean airport, I realized how much I missed the states.

After a week of trying to recoup, get demobilized and get my wits about me I decided to return to my mother lodge for their stated meeting. I have to be honest that both the fellowship and the meeting were a little uncomfortable. Even though a lot of the brothers come from military backgrounds, we just didn’t click like I did before I deployed. This “reintegration” time is always difficult. I learned that this was the case at my work, and even my reserve unit. Still, I thought somewhere that Freemasonry was going to be different, but human nature, is just that, human nature.

After attending a couple of more meetings, and talking over e-mail things are starting to feel like where I left them, it just takes time to reconnect. The noticeable difference is that since the lodge roof was repaired and renovated the lodge was starting to practice better Freemasonry. We have about 6 candidates going through the degrees, we do community events, it’s amazing that just rolling up your sleeves and fixing up your lodge room can put some wind in your sails.

This past December I had a shock as I was elected to Junior Warden of my Allied Masonic Degrees Council. Considering I am not in a chair in either of my Blue Lodges or any other apendent body, along with the fact that I am not a Past Anything, I accepted this position with great honor and I am looking forward to serving in that capacity.

Hopefully this will be the start of a great Masonic year as 2010 promises to bring renewed faith in a lot of my ventures. I hope I am faithful to this blog and continue to update it regularly on my Masonic journey.

-Bro Vick