Cereal Box Freemasonry

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by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Bill Hosler, PM

When I was a kid, I would get up really early on the weekends to watch the cartoons that were on television on Saturday mornings. Between cartoons, I would watch the commercials that the network would play. There were commercials for dolls and action figures, various other toys, but the commercials I remember most were the advertisements selling breakfast cereals.

These commercials could span from Tony the Tiger telling me that I should want Frosted Flakes to Bruce Jenner telling me how Wheaties made it possible for him to win the gold at the Olympics. (Yes I’m that old). Each one of these commercials had a few things in common; 1, the product in the commercial tasted awesome and 2, each one of theses boxes of cereal had a prize laying at the bottom.

The prizes they showed in the commercial looked amazing! I could picture myself having a great time playing with these toys just like the kids in the commercial I was watching. I would fantasize about the fun I would have as long as I could convince my mother I needed and would eat this cereal. This was not an easy task. My father worked hard but Mom only had a limited amount she could spend on groceries. She tried to stretch every penny.

If I was lucky enough, I could convince my Mom that I really liked this particular product and she would pick it up for me at the grocery store. When I got home, I would rip open the box and dump the entire contents of the box into a mixing bowl until I heard the clink of the prize falling into the bowl. Giddy with excitement I ran outside to play with this amazing new toy (after trying to fit all of that cereal back into the box and set it in the cupboard stuffed with the other opened boxes of cereal I hadn’t eaten yet).

Once I began to play with the toy, I realized the toy in the bottom of the box that I begged my mom to buy was a plastic piece of junk! The prize in the box was nothing like the toy I had seen on the television commercial. The toy was either flimsy and broke right away or it just didn’t work. I felt cheated, and the only people that made out well were the owners of the cereal company.

Every year, Freemason membership numbers continue to shrink. Grand Lodges continue to wring their hands and try to come up with new ways to package the fraternity like a product, and peak mens curiosity enough to entice them to join our fraternity in order to swell our ranks. A Grand Lodge or appendant body will approach an advertising agency, and television commercials are created; these days, even a social media campaign is created.

These commercials offer friendship, networking which promises to help advance your career, a chance to “Make A Difference” and fulfill a need to give back to their community by participating in charity (or whatever the advertising agencies polling unit tells them what young men of a certain age group want). The agency then puts together a presentation to the Masonic body, and if the Grand Lodge Officers like what they see they purchase ad time which is targeted to a certain age group of young men, Freemasonry crosses its fingers and waits for the young men to come to us and ask for a petition.

After seeing the commercial, a young man gets excited. Maybe this group sounds like just the thing he has been looking for to complete his life or he remembers Freemasonry from a Dan Brown movie he had watched. He visits an open house at a Masonic Temple near him. Looking around this magnificent building from another era, he gets excited and fills out a petition. His Masonic career slowly starts to go forward. He cannot wait until he is told to report for his degree work.

After receiving a summons from his lodge to begin his Masonic journey he begins the degree work. For several months, the young brother spends his free time memorizing the proficiency he is told he needs to know in order to finally advance toward the goal he is seeking: to be a Master Mason, to learn all of the secrets he has been promised and start his journey of self enlightenment that the commercials and his new brethren have promised him. Finally, that magical day arrives and he has been raised. He can now sit in lodge, join other Masonic groups and finally wear that Masonic ring he had already purchased.

Now it’s meeting night. The first stated meeting he can attend and participate in because he is now a full fledged Mason. The newly obligated Brother slowly puts on his best suit, making sure his tie is straight. He admires himself in the mirror thinking how he looks like a Freemason already. The excitement continues to build inside him. He gets to the lodge early so he can get a seat right up front. “I want to be able to get a good view of everything.” he thinks. Meeting time comes and the room isn’t even half full. Counting he realizes there are only seven other Masons in the audience. “Must be a slow night,” he tells himself.

This brother sits on the edge of his seat waiting to be blown away with all of the secrets he was promised. He sits through the half hour of the Secretary reading minutes of last month’s meeting and the minutes from all of the called meetings for his degree work. He chuckles to himself because he was there for all of that. He really didn’t need to hear about it.

Once the minutes are read he listens to motions be made to give money to several Masonic youth groups for their Grand sessions. He votes to give them the money to seem like he knows what is going on even though he has no clue what he is voting for.

The manager of the temple stands before the group and informs the Brethren present that the old lawn mower the temple has owned for forty years is broken and the mechanic states it can no longer be repaired and a new mower needs to be purchased. Several men stand up to argue about the cost of buying a new lawn mower for their temple. The argument seems to last forever he thinks. Finally a committee is formed to approach a member of the lodge who never attends but owns a hardware store to see if he will provide a new mower free of charge or at a deep discount. Then the meeting ends and everyone dashes out of the building like it’s on fire.

The young man just sits there in his seat, dumbfounded. He still doesn’t understand how this is going to make him a better man. “Maybe it was just an off night.” He decides. After attending for several months, he becomes disillusioned with his lodge and with Freemasonry, and he ceases to attend. At the end of the year, he ignores the dues notices which the lodge sends him and allows his membership to be suspended for non payment. Sadly, nobody even noticed he wasn’t there.

Just like the child who expects the toy at the bottom of the cereal box to be the greatest thing in his young life, he becomes disillusioned with this new toy and casts it aside as something cheap and not worthy of his time. Just a piece of junk. Like the owner of the cereal company the only one who benefits is his Grand Lodge who received his fees.

Brethren, those of us who decided to continue to pursue Freemasonry knows what this young man received wasn’t junk. Freemasonry, when practiced correctly, is a beautiful and life changing experience. We have learned to “package” our fraternity to entice new members to join; what we need to learn now is what is called “service after the sale”. Masonically we can call it providing Brotherly love, relief and truth.

Brotherly love: Instead of just promising to be a positive force in a man’s life, let’s actually be that positive force! Instead of an evening of minutes, treasurer’s reports and bickering, maybe we can provide the feeling of Brotherhood and education. Make sure to include this new Brother in upcoming lodge events, invite him and his family to dinner or a cookout. Or even a “Brothers-only night” for an adult beverage and conversation. Even something as simple as inviting him to eat at your table in the lodge dining hall. Positive social interaction with a new member will make him feel wanted, and he will want to become a valuable lodge member.

Relief: Remember that part of the obligation that says “I will help, aid and assist all poor and distressed Master Masons, their widows and orphans”? Maybe we should try doing that. Instead of sending a sympathetic card to a brother who we have heard is sick and offer to pray for him at the next meeting, get several Brothers together and visit him. Take a bag of groceries with you. If he needs help getting to a doctor’s appointment, give him a ride. Be there for a Brother who is laying on that darkened square and offer to take his hand and raise him to his feet.

Truth: When young men are asked why they joined Masonry, most will answer Masonic education. We tell them their pursuit is truly laudable but we never fulfill their request. Sadly, education is one of the most basic, easiest requests we can fulfill. Many lodges don’t want to prolong the length of a stated meeting with education (or suffer the wagging finger of the Past Masters who want to vote on business then go home), so education is dropped to the wayside. Or worse yet, a Brother will stand up and read a piece he printed from the Internet about the Masonic membership of George Washington. With little substance, the “education box” can now be checked off on a Grand Lodge form so that the lodge can apply for a special award.

In order to receive the maximum benefit of education, pick a non meeting night and have a group of Brethren gather together to have an education night. This could be a group who decides to have a book club (yes, like Oprah) where a mutually chosen book is discussed. The discussion can be as deep or as shallow as the group wishes. Another idea would be for the Brethren to take turns writing research papers and discussing them in the group. The possibilities are endless!

I would even suggest education need not be limited to Masonic subjects. Invite a tailor to discuss the benefit of owning a custom suit, or an expert on manners. Young men have a lot of questions, and sometimes they have difficulty finding answers to their questions. Be their source of light which will help them become a better man. The best part is that informal education nights can be conducted anywhere, including locations where you can enjoy fellowship over an adult beverage.

Brethren, these are just a few ideas in which we can provide “service after the sale”. I’m sure you and the members of your lodge can come up with dozens more. Not only will Masonry not be a cheap prize at the bottom of a cereal box, but we will elevate it to the ultimate treasure that keeps on giving.

~BH
WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana’s Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne’s Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.

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Whence Came You? – 0263 – Peeling Back the First Layer

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Join us this week as we have a conversation with Frater O about a multitude of topics, including peeling back that first layer of hidden truth we all see to start to find. Ill. Bro. Harrison also stops by for the Masonic Minute! App extras include a Masonic wallpaper for your mobile device. Thanks for listening and have an amazing week!

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I Have a New (Old) Skill

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by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, 33°, FMLR

Latin is a dead language
Dead as dead can be
First Latin killed the Romans
Now it’s killing me.
There were times I felt as if that was my anthem during the four years of Latin I took in high school.  Latin?  Four years?  Why?  I had my reasons… beyond openly exhibiting the fact that I was a pathological masochist.  Even back then, however, I knew — and others did not hesitate to point out — I was studying a language no one had spoken for centuries.  
“Impractical,” they said.
Maybe so, if I was looking for a functional language; but not if I was interested in the Roman history that went along with studying the language; not if I wanted to study a language that formed the basis of many others and led to a better understanding of English.  Besides, when I took my college entrance exam, I tested out of all language requirements.  Take that, ye naysayers.
Still, I would never have advocated Latin should be a required subject.  To some it was, and remains, unnecessary… irrelevant… maybe even useless.  Today, many high schools don’t even offer it as an elective.  I think that’s unfortunate but I guess it’s a sign of our times… and school budgets.
So now, it seems a new subject is the target of those who think it’s unnecessary, irrelevant or maybe even useless: call it cursive, longhand, script or, in my case, scribble.
“Irrelevant,” they say again, “We’re all typists… uh, make that keyboarders,” as they toss it onto the junk heap of forgotten subjects along with music, art and God knows what else – maybe Freemasonry; lots of people think that’s archaic, too.
This, too, I think is unfortunate.  There is something to be said for studying subjects beyond the “Three Rs” — to broaden our cultural backgrounds.  But, sigh, I understand.  We must be practical.
I spent the bulk of this past year transcribing the Masonic memoirs of Frederic L. Billon, a 19th century Grand Secretary in Missouri.  Written in fading longhand, this was a difficult task, but well within my capability — and probably yours, given the fact schools didn’t ditch cursive before our time.
As I went through this exercise I realized, in years to come, what I was doing would be a specialized skill.  Without its use being universal I can see cursive becoming a prerequisite for someone wanting to study history, as long as history doesn’t fall off the educational cliff, too.  Those Founding Fathers didn’t use keyboards.  
I suppose I could be an old fogey and lament the passing of another “useless” subject, but I might as well accept it and take heart in the fact I have a new (old) skill: I am a cursive specialist.
Cursive is a useless thing;
I’ve other skills to hone.
They should have written the Bill of Rights
On an Android or iPhone. 

Bro. Steve Harrison, 33° is Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is the editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine, author of the book Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research and also its Worshipful Master. He is a dual member of Kearney Lodge #311, St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite, Moila Shrine and a member and Past Dean of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. Brother Harrison is a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasons blog as well as several other Masonic publications. His latest book, Freemasons: Tales From the Craft & Freemasons at Oak Island. Both are available on amazon.com.

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Burl Green

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By Midnight Freemason Contributor

RWB Michael H. Shirley

We all knew it was coming. Worshipful Brother Burl Green, Tuscola Lodge’s oldest Past Master, had been in steadily declining health for a couple of years, and had recently had to move into assisted living a couple of hours from home. Knowing Burl, that was probably the last straw, so a few weeks ago he just laid back in his bed and died. He was 93, and had been a Master Mason for 69 years.

 

Burl was there for my degrees, and was at every meeting and degree I attended as long as he was healthy enough. When we had a lodge work day, he was there, on his hands and knees, using a hand vacuum behind the sideline. He was in his late 80s at the time. Burl was just always there, doing what he could, whenever he was able. He was Master of the Lodge three times, but was one of the humblest men I’ve ever known. Every stated meeting or two, Burl would slowly rise, be recognized, and talk about how wonderful it was that we had so many young men joining the lodge, how impressed he was at their devotion to the Work, and how good it was that they were doing what he could do no longer. When we had our lodge rededication on our 150thanniversary, he served as the Oldest Past Master, was expressly grateful throughout the day, and talked for years afterwards of how nice the Grand Lodge officers had been. 

 

A few months before he died, Burl stood in lodge, was recognized, and said, though he hated to do it, that he needed help with his yard, and was wondering if any of his Brethren might be able to help with cleaning it up. That Saturday, the lodge was out in force. To help a Brother is a privilege, and with Burl, we knew we might not have many more opportunities. 

 

We’ll miss him. We’ll miss the coffee stains on the floor that followed him wherever he went. We’ll miss his red truck driving fifteen miles an hour past the donut shop. We’ll miss his unmistakable cackle when something tickled his sense of humor. But we won’t miss his example, as it lives in all of us who knew him, and will live on in the stories we tell of a just and upright Mason who did what good he could, when he could, and always talked of how grateful he was to be a Freemason. Rest in peace, Brother Burl. Your column is broken, and your Brethren mourn.

 

Burl Green, 1923-2016



~MHS

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Day By Day, The Masonic Way: Disappointment

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by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Adam Thayer

Brethren, as I look back over the pieces I’ve written in the past few years, I see many things I’m very proud of. There were a great many papers on various topics, full of emotion and passion, but what I’ve found missing is what I would consider “solid” education, that is, a practical application of the instructions we are taught in our three degrees. Over the next series of papers I write, I plan to address that issue. I hope to be able to provide some solid teachings, and learn something myself in the process!

Many minds far greater than my own have written examinations of the symbols that are presented, and I promise that if you spend the time pouring over their writings you will find it to be a rewarding and enriching pursuit. Instead of retreading the words of our forefathers, I hope to break new ground by discussing the issues that face our brothers today. I won’t even pretend to be doing this for entirely noble reasons; to a degree (if you’ll excuse the pun), this is my attempt to deal with these issues in my own life and, through that process, find peace for myself.

Tonight, the issue that is most heavy on my mind is that of disappointment. Disappointment comes in many forms; maybe you didn’t get the promotion you deserved, or your team ended their season with a 6-7 record (I’m looking at you Cornhuskers), or maybe your evening just didn’t go the way you had hoped it would. Disappointment is a common human condition, however to dismiss it so easily is to downplay how absolutely crushing the experience can be when it occurs.

At its core, disappointment comes from reality not living up to our expectations. Perhaps our expectations were set too high, perhaps we ignored the reality of our situation, or perhaps the world is a complex, sometimes cruel place where things don’t go the way they should. Whatever the real reason, disappointment taken to an extreme can lead to severe anxiety issues, with sufferers going out of their way to avoid any risk that may lead to disappointment.

King Solomon knew disappointment; even with all of his accomplishments he saw failure after crushing failure, leading him to say “I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” King Solomon definitely had a flair for the melodramatic, however I believe we can all identify with the sentiment: after all of our hard work and effort, when everything comes crashing down around us, what is the point of our labors?

When faced with disappointment, my mind first goes to thoughts of the mosaic pavement. Being the representative of human existence, it is necessarily equally checkered with both white and black tiles, which we are taught is emblematical of the good and evil in our lives. It could also be said to represent our victories and our defeats, our joys and our disappointments, which equal out in the long run of our lives.

A man much wiser (and significantly cheesier than I) once stated that walking the mosaic pavement is very hard on the feet. This is most especially true when we’re face to face with our disappointments.

There is an insidious danger in disappointment: often, we turn to our vices to help ease the pain. Solomon turned to both wine and women to make him forget the suffering crush of his disappointments, and it worked… for a while. However, he learned what we all must learn: the harder you try to escape reality, the more painful it is when it reasserts itself. After spending many drunken years amassing a fortune filled with every pleasure money could buy, he found himself more emotionally destitute than he began.

Truly dealing with our disappointments head-on takes courage, but it also takes a humble spirit. It begins with accepting what has happened, which many of us have a very difficult time with. It also takes time, something that I myself have an issue with; we want everything fixed right now, not at some magical later date. Finally, it takes a willingness to learn from the situation, to prepare us for future storms.

Here’s a little secret from me to you: life is full of disappointments. Rather than letting them destroy us, we have the opportunity to learn and grow from them. If the human life is an alchemical process, then disappointment is the process which transforms our rough ashlars into perfect ashlars.

I hope you can learn to channel your disappointments into your passion; for me, that passion is writing, and the large number of papers that have been posted since my first guest post nearly two years ago is a testament to the disappointments in my life. For one of my good friends, he pours his disappointment into music, and has constantly improved his talent to a near professional level. Whatever your passion is, I encourage you to pour all of your frustrations into it; let them fuel you as you strive to become ever greater.

I won’t leave you with a banal platitude like “when one door closes, another one opens” (in the words of Bill Murray, just open the door, that’s how doors work), but I will tell you that I have learned this: life is like a beautiful jigsaw puzzle. You can’t start to make sense of it until it has all fallen apart.
~AT
WB. Bro. Adam Thayer is the Senior Warden of Lancaster Lodge No. 54 in Lincoln (NE) and a past master of Oliver Lodge No. 38 in Seward (NE). He’s an active member in the Knights of Saint Andrew, and on occasion remembers to visit the Scottish and York Rites as well. He continues to be reappointed to the Grand Lodge of Nebraska Education Committee, and serves with fervency and zeal. He is a sub-host on The Whence Came You podcast, and may be reached at [email protected] He will not help you get your whites whiter or your brights brighter, but he does enjoy conversing with brothers from around the world!

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Whence Came You? – 0262 – Why They’re Leaving

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Join us this week for an interesting conversation about what has been determined for the reason men are leaving Freemasonry, according to some data from 1984. Is it still relevant? App extras include a Masonic themed wallpaper for your mobile device and the papers we read. 

 

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Interview with the Grand Master of Queensland

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by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Wayne Greenley

*Editors Note Last Friday, we ran an interview with the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the State of Illinois, as promised, here is the interview with the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Queensland by Aussie Correspondent and Midnight Freemason Contributor, Bro Wayne Greenley.

1. When were you first initiated?

I was initiated in June of 1973 in a small country lodge called Tibrogargan Lodge, number 305 UGLQ. I am still a member and I’ve been secretary for the past 22 years though I handed it over at the last installation and I am now the treasurer.

2. Why did you become a Freemason?

I joined because I was stationed at a forest research station at Beerwah. My next door neighbour had a BBQ and there I met a group of men from Beerwah that my neighbour knew, who wasn’t a freemason, but a number of these other men I met were Freemasons. Over the course of the next few months I got to know them, respect them, and I asked them about Freemasonry. Then I was in the lodge. (And now you’re the Grand Master, it’s been a good long journey) A 43 years long journey from today, sometimes one needs to cover a long period of time.

3. What are you favourite memories being in the lodge?

Without a shadow of a doubt it’s the mateship, the comradeship, the enjoyment of each other’s company, and especially that surrounding the new men into our craft.

4. If you could go back in time and witness any masonic event, what would you choose?

I would have liked to have been in Edinburgh in December of 1598 when William Schaw produced his first Statutes. (I do enjoy history and I look forward to reading the Schaw statutes). The three constitutions were present in Queensland from 1859 when the English came, 1863 when the Scots came and 1864 when the Irish came. For our 150 anniversary, we needed to do something very special. So the Librarian and myself decided to have in our presence the 1598 and 1599 statutes as they were delivered in Scottish brogue, a direct translation and a modern translation. I quote them quite often. Whilst my own lodge has an English background and I am familiar with the first premier lodge of 1717, I still if I was asked who do you think is supposed to be the father of Freemasonry, and I know that almost impossible to say, but for me the first person to put it on a map in a structured way was William Schaw.

5. How much of a difference do you feel you have made to Queensland Freemasonry?

Well I believe passionately that no-one person an affect change or achieve by himself. Thus in a team approach, I’ve had a very creative team around me and using their skills and expertise we have been able to introduce some structural changes. Importantly, thought, those structural changes have come associated with some significant constitutional change and that has been a significant change from the past. It was effected by communicating the need for change to our brethren. I went around the state with a campaign with ‘Organised Development equals change’ and the membership at large voted favourable for those changes.

6. What is your message to future Brothers?

The enjoyment of our fraternity and of your fellow Brothers. I sometimes highlight Freemason as three things. Mateship, Giving and Integrity. When you have a look at those three things and they are just a sort of modern way of expressing the old way of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth but in a sort of Aussie way. They for me are the things that are most important, what we don’t involve in there are the real landmarks in order of our terms of belief of a supreme being. However, what they do say is that we are about good, doing good within ourselves, doing better for ourselves and by doing that we become better members our community, better members of our family, better members of the workplace. There is no doubt in my mind that Freemasonry is a great good for an individual and for our community.

Listen to the audio file for the bonus message the Most Worshipful Grand Master has for the world of Freemasons on an upcoming episode of “Whence Came You?”

~WG

Bro. Wayne Greenley is member of Mount Pleasant Lodge No. 361 and research lodge Barron Barnett Lodge No 146 both holding under the United Grand Lodge of Queensland. Currently he is studying a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and a Bachelor of Business at QUT. In his spare time he likes to read, listen to music and research the Craft. He is looking forward to joining other orders when he’s permitted to in the next year and also to soon begin his journey through the progression of officers starting off with the Inner Guard.

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