Whence Came You? – 0588 – Masonry’s Unbrotherly Expectations?

https://wcypodcast.libsyn.com/whence-came-you-0588-masonrys-unbrotherly-expectations

This week we’re looking at a paper by the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons, Darin A. Lahners. In this piece, he breaks apart a wonderful short paragraph on the expectations of being a Freemason. However many of the things espoused as being expectations are not followed by many within our Craft today. Are these expectations even relevant? Should they be heeded? Is an expectation within Freemasonry even “brotherly?” Thanks for listening and have a fantastic week!

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What Freemasonry Expects from You http://www.midnightfreemasons.org/2023/03/what-freemasonry-expects-of-you.html

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Moments That Matter – Mentoring

http://www.midnightfreemasons.org/2023/04/moments-that-matter-mentoring.html

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Randy Sanders

One of my guilty pleasures is the pride that comes from helping others succeed.  In this, I specifically mean mentoring in Masonic, professional career, and even friends and family mentoring.  I am blessed to continue benefiting from mentors and guides throughout my life, and when I finally got it through my thick skull I could and should give back?  The joy and gratitude doubled, maybe tripled.  Mentoring others may not be your strong suit, but I learned listening deeply and quietly without interrupting or just asking for additional detail brings depth and contemplation in all participants in any conversation.

I learned a valuable lesson from my studies in the Scottish Rite’s Academy Of Reflection: sometimes it is just listening and letting the person express their thoughts.  Other times it is asking a gentle question to explore something they said.  I personally benefited much from analogy and allegory when my own mentors would relate a story back to me, and I appreciate the nuance of a well-placed question such as “what were you experiencing at that moment” or something as simple as “how did that make you feel?”  

Giving advice seems appropriate as we tend to want to “fix” the situation presented to us, but good listening takes that conversation to a deeper level.  I learned that I wanted to express my own thoughts and experiences along with the person speaking, and I learned often my own experiences were best kept to myself until the conversation was at a long pause or stopping point.  Only after the whole picture could be expressed did anything I might offer be relevant.

Then, after fully exploring the situation or experience, the solution or path forward often manifested for the individual.  Mentoring became a challenge to me to simply sit in mostly silence as the person saw my perspective through a few questions, and they often found their own solutions without any guidance from me.  This was a moment that mattered.  This self-discovery of an idea or direction that I helped guide often paralleled my own advice, yet all I did was encourage the person to explore their own thoughts.  We all benefit when we discover moments that matter.

Occasionally my own experiences came into play with a related story of how I approached a similar issue, and I tried to relate experiences in a manner that could draw a parallel analogy.  That didn’t always work.  What did work was honesty in describing my own situational failures and how I learned overcoming mistakes helped make me who I am today.  I make plenty of mistakes that turn into lessons both embarrassing and not.

Ego wants us to tell our own story.  The lessons of the Entered Apprentice include the silence and patience with which we can listen with quiet intention, not interrupting others while they tell their story.  Ego can be difficult to overcome, and direct practice in listening turned out to be a skill I developed with some rough edges still poking through.  I continue to find myself talking more than listening at times, and my own lessons become my own moments that matter to me.

We as Masons should focus on these moments that matter to us, to our Brothers, and to friends and family.  To strangers, simply giving someone a compliment may be the moment that mattered to them.  Asking strangers to pass along the good to someone else may brighten someone else’s day.  That moment mattered to someone downstream, and the beauty of giving a stranger a good moment never gets old.  You may never realize how much a compliment mattered in that moment to others, but if you don’t give it you will never manifest that kindness.

Our challenge remains to recognize moments that matter.  We influence people around us, and we affect them with our attitude.  Are you approaching people with gratitude and love, or are you hauling the heavy load of ego into your conversations and encounters?  Are you taking time to find the moments that matter to you through contemplation and reflection?  Are you helping others with moments that matter?

~RS

Randy and his wife Elyana live near St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Randy earned a bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry, and he works in Telecom IT management. He volunteers as a professional and personal mentor, NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer, and enjoys competitive tactical pistol, rifle, and shotgun. He has 30-plus years of teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and healing arts. Randy served as a Logistics Section Chief on two different United States federal Disaster Medical Assistance Teams over a 12-year span. Randy is a 32nd-degree KCCH and Knight Templar. His Masonic bio includes past Lodge Education Officer for two symbolic lodges, Founder of the Wentzville Lodge Book Club, member of the Grand Lodge of Missouri Education Committee, Sovereign Master of the E. F. Coonrod AMD Council No. 493, Co-Librarian of the Scottish Rite Valley of St. Louis, Clerk for the Academy of Reflection through the Valley of Guthrie, and a Facilitator for the Masonic Legacy Society. Randy is a founding administrator for Refracted Light, a full contributor to Midnight Freemasons, and an international presenter on esoteric topics. Randy hosts an open ongoing weekly Masonic virtual Happy Hour on Friday evenings. Randy is an accomplished home chef, a certified barbecue judge, raises Great Pyrenees dogs, and enjoys travel and philosophy.

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Building on Symbolism: The Cornerstone

http://www.midnightfreemasons.org/2023/03/building-on-symbolism-cornerstone.html

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
WB Christian Garrett, 32°, K.T.


The cornerstone has long been considered to be an essential element of many  buildings, a tradition that has long survived throughout many ages and cultures. While  we as Masons are familiar with our symbolic teachings surrounding the cornerstone,  which I will touch on later, I thought it might be helpful to explore some examples of the  use of cornerstones in history.  


Ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures would lay their foundation stones  in a tradition similar to that of a “ground-breaking” ceremony as a “foundation ritual.”  The purpose of which was to call upon the favor of their Gods to protect their  structures from destruction by the elements or any other malevolent force. During  these “foundation rituals” stones would be hollowed out and filled with vessels  containing an array of different symbolic items pertaining to the intended use of the  building and the Deity it was dedicated too. These stones were then placed in different  corners of the buildings, at the entrance of the structure, or in some instances at a  different point of importance depending on the type of structure being built. 


In the customs and traditions of Freemasonry we see many examples of both  the operative and symbolic uses of the cornerstone. One of our few ceremonies that  are open to public is that of the laying of the cornerstone, of which one of the earliest  mentions dates back to the entry in Mist’s Weekly Journal of May 26th, 1722. It stated  “The first stone of the foundation at the same corner above ground being twelve feet  above the other, was laid with a great deal of ceremony by the society of Freemasons,  who on that occasion, were very generous to the workmen.” 


The cornerstone is also a deeply meaningful symbol within Masonic philosophy.  The newly initiated Entered Apprentice is placed in the northeast corner of the lodge.  This in itself has several meanings. Newly made Masons are the foundation of our  entire Craft, for without new members to carry our traditions forward into the future, our  work dies with us. The laborer of today is the overseer of tomorrow. Thus, we are to  take pride in the laying of these new Masons as cornerstones of our lodges, and to  guide their placement within the craft with studious attention and care.


This placement is also a symbolic halfway point between the darkness of the  North and the light of the East. This first step of the initiate marks a transition from  darkness and error, to that of light and truth. The charge he receives reiterates this by  stating how he should live, walk, and act in the outer world. In this moment, he is a  neophyte that is receiving its first nurturing rays that will perpetuate his growth on his  Masonic journey towards light. 


We all as Masons, from the youngest Entered Apprentice to the Worshipful  Master of the lodge, are ever erecting our spiritual temples. We labour in this daily,  brick by brick, through our charitable acts, selfless deeds, caring spirits, and truthful  dealings with one another. May the cornerstone of our spiritual temples be steadfast  and built upon the principles of integrity, stability, and longevity.


~CG

Christian Garrett is the current Worshipful Master of Cottage Grove Masonic Lodge #51in Cottage Grove, Oregon.  He is also an affiliate member of Eugene Lodge #11 and McKenzie River Lodge #195 in Eugene, Oregon. A 32° member of the Eugene Valley of the Scottish Rite, Scribe of Cottage Grove Royal Arch Chapter #41, Secretary for Hiram Council #7 and Ivanhoe Commandery #2, Senior Warden of Goose and Gridiron Allied Masonic Degrees, and Deputy Director of Units for Al Kader Shriners.

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From the Archives: The 50 Year Member – Talkin’ Bout My Obligations

http://www.midnightfreemasons.org/2019/01/the-50-year-member-talkin-bout-my.html

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM


Pudge was sitting comfortably in one of the newly restored leather wingback chairs in a quiet corner of the Temple’s Social room. Pudge seems quite happy while looking at a pad of drawings with a group of the lodge’s younger Brethren. The group was talking and laughing with cigars in their hands as the 50 Year member walked into the room. A smile came across the old man’s face as the sound of young men laughing took him to an earlier time on a cloud of cigar smoke. “It’s just like old times.”, the old man thought to himself.

As the 50 Year member approached the men, he could begin to hear some of their conversations. “I like that one.” Said one young man “Have you seen the Superman I have on my calf with the Square and Compass on his chest in place of the letter “S”? I finally got the coloring finished on it.” The 50-year member laughed and said, “It must be hard coloring something on your calf. I hope you stayed within the lines.” the old man said with a laugh in his voice. The group checked. “Pudge looked up and saw the 50-year member. “Hi,John! Hey, do you have any tattoos?” The old man smiled. “Nah, back in my day the only guys who got tattoos were either servicemen, while they were away from home or prisoners who got them while they were in prison. Neither of which I would have been, my mother would have killed me.” The crowd laughed as the old man slipped quietly into a leather chair. The group continued to discuss various kinds of tattoos and showing each other pictures of Masonic tattoos that they found on Google while doing their research on the topic.

Hearing the laughter while walking down the hallway on the way to the lodge room, Past Master Herb Johnson ventured into the Social room and began to listen silently to the young men’s conversation. Herb piped in after he heard the 50-year member’s response to the younger guys. “No John wouldn’t have a Masonic tattoo. John remembers the obligations that he took!” Herb said in a gruff voice.

The young men sat silent for a second and looked at each other. They all seemed confused. One young man said hesitantly in a quiet voice “It’s unMasonic to get a tattoo?” Herb stood up and arched his back and said in the know-it-all authoritarian voice, “It is if you get a Masonic tattoo!” Herb said, matter-of-factly. “You kids have already forgotten, “I will not print, paint…” Each with an uneasy feeling, the entire group of men began to steal glances at each other, worried and questioning if they were all going to be in a great deal of trouble. Herb continued “Yep. If you got one of those tattoos, the lodge might have to file charges on you for expulsion.” The group started talking to each other in quiet scared voices.

The 50-year member began to laugh so hard he began to shake in glee, as he slapped his knee. The old man eventually gained his composure again as he wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes, “John this is no laughing matter. This is serious business!” Herb said. The 50-year member began laughing again and said to Herb through his laughter, in a mocking tone, “Oh yes it is Herb. You have them quaking in their boots at the thought of a Masonic trial. I hope you are as equally prepared as these young men will be when the un-Masonic charges are filed against you.” The old man was laughing so hard he could barely stand up from his chair.

Herbert, who began to sputter while his face reddened with anger looked at the old man and said in a high nasal tone, “File charges against me!? Why I never! I have been a member of this lodge for almost as long as you have! I have never done anything that can be considered un-Masonic in my entire adult life! I served this lodge as Master four times! I served on several Grand Lodge committees– I have been a model…” The 50-year member interrupted Herb’s tirade “Oh Herb, I know! That’s why it will be a sad day when I walk into the lodge room and see the Tyler using his sword to keep you from gaining admittance. It will be a downright shame.” Sweat began to drip down Herb’s forehead as his fists were balled up in anger. “So what is the evidence against me that you are going to use?” Herb said in a quiet voice, trying to calm his anger.

The 50-year member said, “Basically the same evidence you are planning on using against these “kids”, as you call them. Violating their obligations to keep secrets. Herb, you know as well as I do that the only real secrets of this Fraternity are its words and grips, and you know as well as I do you can pick up a hundred books or get on the internet and find those. These young men aren’t going to tattoo those words on their bodies. That’s stupid. If you ever bothered to talk to these young men before acting all high and mighty, you’d discover they are going to tattoo Masonic symbols like the square and compass, symbols from the York Rite or the Scottish Rite. Just like the ones you have on the back of your car and if I am honest, I’ve seen on the mailbox at your house, and I know we as a lodge have contributed to your guilt by giving you plaques and certificates through the years with those incriminating symbols on them. So I think if these young men are guilty of a Masonic crime then sadly Brother, you are guilty, nay, more guilty than the rest, because you have been in the Craft long enough to know better.

The 50-year member got quiet. The sound of the silence in the room was deafening. The old man said, in a quieter, more calm voice “I’m sorry if you think I’m rough on you Herb, but dang it! I feel like you have it coming. You might know our ritual front to back, but you haven’t bothered to learn the meaning of one single word in which you’ve memorized. But that doesn’t stop you from spouting off pieces of ritual, trying to act like an expert on the matter when you haven’t the slightest clue what you are talking about.”

The old man continues “Sadly you aren’t the only one with this particular notion. Think back to last month when the lodge was discussing men, for goodness sake, policemen, carrying their legally owned pistols to a lodge meeting. Sadly, I knew as soon as the discussion began, some poor, uneducated Brother would stand up and utter the phrase “I will carry nothing offensive or defensive into the lodge room with me.” And I was surely not disappointed, because it didn’t take long for the phrase to be uttered. Do you know what gets me? I bet that poor ignorant Brother and every man who grunted his agreement to that phrase was nodding his head while he was carrying a pocket knife in his pants pocket. Should we have the Tyler frisk each brother before he enters the room? Or better yet make them pass through a metal detector to ensure he isn’t carrying anything metallic into the lodge? If we are going to misquote ritual, we might as well go all the way with this silliness.”

“Brother we both know that line is about a candidate, not for a Master Mason attending a stated meeting. It’s just one of my pet peeves that we either use pieces of our ritual wrong, or worse yet, we purposely twist a bit of the ritual, out of context in order to further our argument or to prove a point to someone who is as equally ignorant into the meaning of those words we’ve all memorized, but we can’t call them on it because it will cause “Disharmony” within the lodge.”

The 50-year member paused for a moment as Herb’s head began to lower “Brother all I am saying is we are either going to hold all members to the same standards, or we will continue to see this Fraternity further erode. The days of saying one thing but meaning another have to stop before we drive off every new member. If we are going to make good men better, we need to do it through education and teaching actual Masonic education, not through twisted, bastardized ritual which has lost it meaning through the years because we have misapplied it.” The old man smiled. “OK, I am now going to step down from my soap box and get ready for the lodge meeting. Herb go in and gets us some good seats, will you?”

Herb slowly backed away. “Honest John. I think I am going to head home. I don’t feel so good right now. I think I am going to take one of my Nitro pills and head for the house.” One of the younger men of the group stepped out of the crowd and said to Herb. “Brother, my name is Tim. I am a paramedic by trade. Why don’t you sit down here and let me examine you? You look a little flushed. If you are feeling that bad, I don’t want you traveling home by yourself.” He continued,  “After I look you over if you still don’t feel well, I’ll take you home, or if need be to the Emergency Room. You shouldn’t be left on your own if you feel that bad.” Herb looked up at Tim and said in a weak voice. You are going to help me even after how bad I was talking about you kids? Are you sure?” Tim just smiled, took Herb and sat him in one of the wingback chairs, and said, “Of course! I may not know all the ritual as well as some of the guys here, but one part I do know and remember quite well is “I will help, aid and assist.” It’s not only my obligation, but I live it every day of my life.” Tim took Herb’s hand, “Now just be still, let me have a look at you.” He looked at the crowd and said as he threw his car keys in the air, “Hey Pudge go to my trunk and get my paramedic bag out of the trunk please.” Tim then looked back to Herb and started his usual questions “So tell me Brother are you having any pains? Nausea?” …


~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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Digital Immortality

http://www.midnightfreemasons.org/2023/03/digital-immortality.html

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Ken JP Stuczynski
 
 
File:Code on computer monitor (Unsplash).jpg
 
We are told that once you post something online, it’s there forever. That’s not always true, but an average post or comment in a public forum may be visible long after the user is gone. Our grandkids will know if we were kind or hateful, open-minded or bigoted. But why should we be more concerned on the Internet than in everyday, non-virtual life?

Masons in ages past put their marks upon their work, a symbol or initial to tie the object to themselves. It wasn’t just quality control, but credit and reputation. Masters — in stone, art, literature — are known for their achievements. Even when works were not signed, their legacy was so notable that their name was preserved. Their masterpieces embodied them, and through them were immortalized.

What remains after our earthly existence? Generations will retell stories about us. High school trophy cases are graced with our photos. Our names are on donor plaques and memorial bricks. And if we do something wrong or unjust, our infamy will be whispered among associates and neighbors for decades. Maybe none of these are forever, but we as Masons believe our Charity (Love) is eternal.

Few will have a street named after them or their own Wikipedia entry. But everything we do has the potential to survive our mortality, even if our name is lost. The fruits of our hands, words, and other choices will live on. We may have affected the future of a company, a Lodge, a community, and society. No matter how small our contribution, the needle will move in part because of each of us. Even our absence of action is part of the equation. An artist’s signature isn’t always present or discernable, but it still says something about an author — the image or footprint of a human being as if set in stone for all time.

What about being someone of your word? Integrity is known, not for intentions, platitudes, or even oaths, but as a record of our actions. Will we become a perpetual example to aspire to? Will we hope others can fill our shoes? Or will people hope someone “better” moves into our stations and places once we “check out”? Will our fate be a warning to others of what not to do or what to be like?

We worry about social media as if it’s an invasion of privacy. But it is voluntary — and painfully honest. It is perhaps today’s biggest self-exposure and broadcast of one’s character. All can know a tree by its fruit, even if the bushel is in the metaverse. But it’s not about technology. Some people don’t seem to leave a mark at all on our future, which is the reward of apathy and inaction. But most of us will, for better or worse, without even logging in.

We work against the backdrop of eternity. If we accept that everything we do and say may be forever recorded, our everyday work will be mindful, good, true, and square. 

 
~JP
 
Bro. Ken JP Stuczynski is a member of West Seneca Lodge No.1111 and recently served as Master of Ken-Ton Lodge No.1186. As webmaster for NYMasons.Org he is on the Communications and Technology Committees for the Grand Lodge of the State of New York. He is also a Royal Arch Mason and 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, serving his second term as Sovereign Prince of Palmoni Council in the Valley of Buffalo, NMJ. He also coordinates a Downtown Square Club monthly lunch in Buffalo, NY. He and his wife served as Patron and Matron of Pond Chapter No.853 Order of the Eastern Star and considered himself a “Masonic Feminist”.

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