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The value Meal of Masonry

By Bro Cliff Porter

Almost eerie shadows bounced and danced their solemn dance to the candlelight casting its shadows and souls upon the walls of the lodge, the temple. The men moved in silence in a circumambulation around their altar. Dress in tailcoats, their hands gloved the aprons of the finest lambskin.

The Brothers took their seats and the lodge was called to order, the ritual perfect and well practiced. The booming voice of the Worshipful Master and wraps of the gavel calling something forward from deep within everyone that the work at hand was important.

Classical music wafted through the air and hung heavy on the deeper notes, the vibration touching the very souls of the men who sat through it. The business of the night was a discussion of philosophy and it went well.

At the conclusion of lodge, the men retired to the dining room for a tradition Agape celebration with toast, fine food, and fine wine.

The taste of the foods blossomed well with the wine selected for that dinner and it was with bitter sweetness that the Brethren pulled their chairs from the table for the final toast of the evening.

Cigars and Scotch followed as the men discussed their views on religion, politics, and the fraternity well into the night.

The next morning the men headed off to work. Tradesmen of all types, policemen, military, Brothers from all walks of life headed out from their suburban homes to their cubicles, cop cars, and offices to earn a living.

I have the great fortune to belong the lodge described above and so does my Brother, friend, and neighbor.

We often sit together on my porch solving the world’s problems both with a glass of bourbon and I with a cigar. It was during one of these sessions my friend, who is a Fellow Craft, spoke his prophetic words of wisdom about lodge, specifically his lodge experience and one of the reasons Masonry is important to him and should be treated as such.

“You know,” he began with a tone in his voice echoing his contemplation, “my whole life is average, I live in an average home, I have an average job, and I shop at superstores for my average food, my average clothes, and my average television. I love that Masonry is not average. I love that once a month I get treat something special and that I feel special because of it. I’m glad we don’t experience Wal-Mart Masonry. I don’t want quicker, easier, or cheaper. I don’t need my Masonry in bulk with low quality materials.

I don’t want Wal-Mart Masonry that one day of my month.”

He is new to Masonry and his lodge is “special” because we make it so. He does not come from the Masonic experiences most of had when we formed our lodge. He was initiated into our lodge and has “grown up” there. Nonetheless, he hit on something quite profound. How much of Masonry has suffered as we moved to Wal-Mart Masonry.

As tracing boards that were profoundly beautiful and steeped in artistic imagery moved to PowerPoint presentations, as quality wrought ritual moved to stuttered lines from a man moved into the progressive line to quickly, as Festive Boards moved to paper plates and plastic forks, as dressing for lodge meant no holes in your jeans—what disservice have we done to ourselves and to our Craft as we turned to the convenience and cost of Wal-Mart Masonry.

When there is little value placed in the trappings of the lodge, when there is little value placed on the experience itself, when there is more emphasis placed on completing things quickly and with little cost, how can we believe that men will find value in the thing itself, in the finished product?

We are often men of average means, of average lives. I am content to buy my food at the largest store for the cheapest price. I am content to buy my clothes from the sales rack, but should I be content with generic low-cost Masonry?

If we are to believe our own brochures and websites we make good men better. How do we do this by treating everything like it should be quicker, cheaper, and in bulk? Do I really want my Masonry from the superstore with little thought given to its intrinsic and philosophical values? Do I want my morality in a low cost buy six and the seventh one is free?

If we practice our own philosophies then kneeling at the altar of Masonry should be more than a slight distraction before we head downstairs for a ham sandwich with generic mayonnaise and fruit punch because soda is cost prohibitive.

If we practice our own philosophies then changing a man’s life and actually improving him should be thought of as an experience worthy wearing socks that match and having on something more profound than a pair of blue jeans.

We are supposed to invoke the blessing of Deity before our undertakings and yet we approach our Creator with hurried expressions and a distain as we bicker about bills and provide little or no education.

The Craft turned into a superstore of membership at one time. We worshipped at the altar of large numbers so that we could keep our dues artificially low and provide some bang for the buck. Then, as the membership dwindled, the dollars stayed low, and the experience was hacked to bare minimum so that we didn’t “waste” our member’s time. Waste their time—with Masonry…..

The Fraternity can no longer afford Wal-Mart Masonry. To save Masonry we must change our thinking from quantity to quality. It is not about how many men are Masons, but how many men should be Masons. Masonry can no longer afford the quick sale, the PDF petition available for all who might want one.

The Fraternity must learn to value itself, so that others might see value within it. The tough thing about making Masonry valuable is that it takes effort. Meetings can’t be thrown to together, meals can’t be nuked, and Brothers can’t be raised in an afternoon with no memory work.

We love to hail Freemasonry as the home of our Founding Fathers….well, then work to make it the Masonry they would have revered and let’s leave our value meal days behind us.

What’s in your reading stack?

Recently on an on-line forum I often browse, the question was asked, what’s in your reading stack? Now since this forum is primarily a Masonic research forum, its goes without saying that there were many responses to this topic from many brothers around the world.  As I thought more about this I couldn’t help but wonder how many local lodge members actually read Masonic works.

Now some would ask “who has the time to read anything, much less read Masonic texts”? Well I would ask any brother, “how can you not”? If you are serious about Freemasonry and want to be better Masons it is not optional really. I would not expect every brother to read every book about Masonry there is, but there should be some amount of reading about the Craft required from every brother. I guess some would call it lodge education. What ever the name it needs serious attention.  In this age of fast paced, get the info in 2.5 seconds or you’ve lost your audience, it would do every Freemason good just to sit and read one Masonic book a year. Even if you just read here and there or for 1 hour a night or even once per week. What is missing from this world and from Freemasonry is that few take the time to stop and look around.

I am all for the fellowship and camaraderie before or after communications and on special occasions. I just believe it should be more than that. All newly raised brothers need to be mentored not just in memorizing the catechisms but in the rich history and what Masonry has meant to brethren over the centuries. Freemasonry has an old and wonderfully colorful history associated with it. I for one really enjoy learning about it and will continue. I would urge each lodge to begin a formal lodge education committee and even if its just a few of the brethren getting together at the lodge or at another brother’s house to discuss Masonry. That’s all it really needs to be. As things progress, a more formal setting could be adopted and as interest grows so will understanding of the Craft as well as brotherhood. This is especially important to new brothers as I feel that they would benefit the most.

many brethren I have spoken too agree, at least to some degree, with what I am saying now. Will all agree? Most likely not as we are all individuals and we all have opinions. I guess the bottom line is that I think that I have found that there are Masonic  secrets and I would like to find as many as I can before I leave this world. Those secrets are for each Freemason to find and store in his heart. Freemasonry means something different to each brother but it is a common bond of friendship and brotherly love that makes it so special.

There is so much information out there that one could spend a lifetime studying it. But that’s the point is it not? The search for more light. No one person has all the answers a new brother would require. It takes all his brethren to guide him through all that Freemasonry has to offer.

Lodge Last…

 I am endeavoring with the help of the Brethren of Potunk Lodge to complete my list of Past Masters. I suppose I can sit down and go through the minute books to find the gaps in my list, but I was informed that it would be difficult at best. Is anything that is worth doing not difficult? At some point I would like to digitize the minute books as well so they can be preserved. However I come across the missing names is not important, what is important is that the list be completed. The more I learn about Freemasonry the more I realize that these men should be remembered.
I have had discussions with another brother about scanning all the images on our Past Masters wall and correcting any mistakes in dates and re-ordering the pictures. I began to think a fitting remembrance would be to create a photo slide show of these past lodge Masters with an appropriate musical selection. I will do my best to keep the memories of these brethren and to honor them all both living and those who have laid down their working tools of life.
I have been working on a special presentation for the brethren on our next communication. I really hope we have a decent turn out, with the weather getting warmer I believe we may. I thing the brethren present will be pleasantly surprised with what I have in store for them. If all works out it should be a rather fun and interesting evening.
So next week it will be off to the Grand Lecturer’s Convention and the MAGLA competition, of which yours truly will be a participant. I know the work, but I am not sure how well I will present it. I am no actor. Although I did have a co-starring role in an elementary school play called “Cowboy on the Moon”. One of my mother’s neighbors has a daughter that I went through school with and was in the same class when I “performed” and keeps threatening to make me watch the video. To be honest I didn’t think video cameras we even around yet, but that shows my age. Well until the next event…

Capt. Morgan strikes again

This morning I read a post on a forum that a new book will be published by author Stephen Dafoe. Bro Dafoe has written several other books including The Compasses and the Cross and Nobly Born to name just two. In his latest book Morgan: The Scandal that Shook Freemasonry, Dafoe will take the Masonic reader in a new direction. This from Bro. Dafoe’s Blog; “What makes this telling of the Morgan story different is that it has no partisan axe to grind. Almost every book written on the Morgan Affair has been written with an anti-Masonic or pro-Masonic agenda. Morgan: The Scandal That Shook Freemasonry will walk the path left by the various materials still available: court transcripts, letters, affidavits and firsthand accounts. And there are plenty of materials to draw from; the bibliography runs some nine pages. But that doesn’t mean this will be some dry academic tome. Although the book will be well cited, I’ve chosen to go with a narrative nonfiction style this time around, making the book read more like a mystery novel than a traditional nonfiction book.”
I look forward to reading Bro. Dafoe’s book and looking more closely at the incident that nearly destroyed Freemasonry in the US in the years after. The book is being published by Cornerstone Book Publishers soon. “Masonic publishers did not want to touch it, afraid to publish something that suggested Freemasons might be guilty of murder, and non-Masonic publishers were reluctant to touch it for fear of alienating the Freemasons who might buy their books.” again from Bro. Defoe’s blog. I would encourage anyone to read this book that may be interested in Masonic history, especially anti-Masonic history.

A bit about William Morgan: Morgan was born in Culpeper, Virginia in 1774. He was apprenticed as a bricklayer or stone cutter, then briefly was a brewer in Canada, before returning to quarry work in Rochester, New York.
In October 1819, when he was 44, Morgan married 16-year old Lucinda Pendleton in Richmond. They had two children, Lucinda Wesley Morgan and Thomas Jefferson Morgan. Two years after his marriage, he moved for unknown reasons to York, Upper Canada, where he operated a brewery. He has been described as a heavy drinker and a gambler.
When his business was destroyed in a fire, Morgan was reduced to poverty. He returned to the United States, settling first at Rochester, New York, and later in Batavia. Morgan claimed to have served with distinction as a captain during the War of 1812, though there is no evidence that he did so. Several men named William Morgan appear in the Virginia militia rolls, but none held the rank of captain.
I will leave the rest of the story to Bro. Dafoe to tell and hopefully shed some light on this nagging question.

GLoNY renews amnity with GLoDC

I read this today and I really hope it is true.

Brethren All:

Our Most Worshipful Brother Kwame Acquaah, Grand Master of Masons of the District of Columbia, has contacted me from the Conference of Grand Masters and Grand Secretaries in North America (taking place this week in Anaheim, California) and requested that I announce to you on his behalf this happy news:

The Grand Lodge, F. & A.M of the State of New York has announced this morning that it has renewed recognition of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia. A joint statement issued today by our Grand Lodge and the Grand Lodge of New York at the Conference of Grand Masters and Grand Secretaries in North America, confirmed that the issues between the two Grand Lodges have been resolved and amity restored. MWB Acquaah greatly appreciates the cordial and amicable manner in which this matter was handled between our Grand Lodge and the Grand Lodge of New York. The Grand Master prays that the bonds of fraternal affection between our two Grand Lodges will continue until time is no more.

The Grand Master is also happy to announce that MWB Thomas M. Velvin, Jr., Grand Master of Masons of Maryland, has ordered the immediate resumption of the processing of requests for jurisdictional waivers from our Grand Lodge. Grand Master Acquaah is thankful and appreciative of the cooperative manner in which the Grand Master of Masons of Maryland worked to facilitate resolution of this matter.

The Grand Master would like everyone to know that he is grateful and most appreciative for the patience and understanding of all DC Freemasons during the past several weeks.

Our Grand Master respectfully invites as many of you as are able to join him at 7:00 pm this Friday, February 20th at the Scottish Rite Center on the occasion of our Grand Lodge Founders’ Day. Please register by email at grandlodge@dcgrandlodge.org before 12:00 noon on Thursday, February 19th. Most Worshipful Brother Acquaah looks forward to seeing and sharing fellowship with you on this very joyous occasion.

Fraternally,
Walter R. Hoenes, P.M.
Assistant to the Grand Secretary

THE GRAND LODGE OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Free and Accepted Masons of the Nation’s Capital

And from the GLoNY:
Letter from GloNY
http://www.potunklodge.org/docs/GM_Letter_GLofDC_restored.pdf

The Solomon Key nearly complete?

Dan Brown the author of the Di Vinci Code novel may be nearing completion of his latest novel, tentatively titled The Solomon Key. From the Guardian.co.uk “Speaking on the Geneva set of the second film to be based on one of Brown’s novels, Angels & Demons, Howard told the US television show Entertainment Tonight that Brown had finished writing the long-awaited third book featuring Langdon, and that the author was “very excited” about the novel. Howard added that although he hadn’t had the chance to read the book yet, he couldn’t wait to do so.

The news will be welcomed by fans of Brown’s fast-paced conspiracy thrillers: the book was originally intended to be published in 2006, when it was listed on Amazon as The Solomon Key. It will be the author’s first new novel since the 2003 publication of The Da Vinci Code, which went on to sell over 70m copies worldwide.

Brown reveals on his website that the new book will see Langdon “embroiled in a mystery on US soil” for the first time. “This new novel explores the hidden history of our nation’s capital,” he writes. Internet speculation has suggested the novel will focus on the Freemasons.

But Brown’s US publisher Doubleday provided no confirmation of the report, saying only that Brown was making “great progress” with the book and that there was as yet no title or publication date to share.”

It remains to be seen what light Mr. Brown will paint the world’s oldest fraternity; since this novel will bring the Langdon character onto US soil and rumor has it that is will focus on the ‘freemasons” and the US capital. This is fodder for conspiracy theorist in a big way. Now should Dan Brown go ahead and add references to the Denver International Airport then the conspiracy nuts would have a hat-trick. I have to admit that I read the Di Vinci Code and enjoyed it, the movie not so much. I will look forward to reading this book and see how our honored fraternity is placed once again into the spotlight. This public attention could bring renewed interest in Freemasonry and hopefully positive interest.

Freemasonry in Bro. Washington’s Day

As there is not much news activity today; I thought I would post a little about or honored Brother George Washington. As presidents day is approaching this coming Monday I thought I would remind everyone of what we are celebrating. This holiday was originally celebrated publicly even during Washington’s presidency, but obviously called Washington’s Birthday. In later years after Lincoln’s Presidency some states began calling the holiday President’s day. Since Washington’s Birthday is February 22nd and Lincoln’s is February 12th the day became a celebration of both these fine men.
Now a little more about George Washington. According to Albert G. Mackey in a speech given on the centennial of Washington’s initiation: “The minute book of the Lodge at Fredericksburg presents no more than the usual record that on the 4th of November, 1752, George Washington was initiated as an Entered Apprentice. The youth, who, though even then he had been honored by a distinguished appointment in the military service of his native State, had not yet developed the germ of his future greatness, passed undoubtedly through the solemn ceremonies of initiation into our mystic rites, without any suspicion on the part of those who assisted in bestowing on him the light of Masonry, that the transaction then occurring was to become an era in the annals of our institution, and that a century afterwards their descendants would ordain a jubilee, to hail its memory with shouts of joy and to celebrate its anniversary with loud peans of praise.”
Mackey continues: “In the ancient record book of the Lodge at Fredericksburg in Virginia – a book venerable for its age as a relic of the past -but still more venerable for the pages on which the record is made, will be found the following entries.
The first entry is thus:
No. 4th, 1752. This evening Mr. George Washington was initiated as an Entered Apprentice,” and the receipt of the entrance fee, amounting to 2 pounds 3s is acknowledged.
(Webmaster’s note: in today’s currency that would equal about $150.00)
On the 3rd of March in the following year, “Mr. George Washington” is recorded as having been passed a Fellow Craft; and on the 4th of the succeeding August the transactions of the evening are that “Mr. George Washington,” and others whose names are mentioned, are stated to have been raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason.
Though other things have passed away, that still remains; now as it has ever been ­ indissoluble ­ immutable – no landmark subverted-no fragment dissevered from its perfect mass; its columns still standing in strong support; its lights still burning with undiminished splendor; its altars still blazing with their sacred fires; its truth still pure as in the day of its birthhood; and when the cycle of another century shall have revolved, and you and I, and all that are elsewhere meeting on this festival day, shall have gone down to the dust from whence we sprung – another generation will be here – again to meet upon a second jubilee, and with like hopes and joys, and with like words of granulation and songs of triumph, to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of that day which gave to Masonry the noblest of her sons, in him who was “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”
It is still more than 42 years until the 3rd jubilee in 2052 when Masons can reflect back upon the tri-centennial of that fine day in November 1752 that, as Mackey said, “gave Masonry the noblest of her sons”. So while you may have the day off from work and family or leisure activities planned, remember Bro. Washington and what Masonry, or the world, might have been if not for this one man.


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