I recently received correspondence from old friend, Brother Tim McCurry from Tennessee.
He points out a common problem with Mainstream Lodges. That is that Masonic education equals ritual memorization. But all ritual memorization makes you is a parrot and a parrot doesn’t think it just mimics. Knowledge comes from the art of contemplation that allows us then to internalize that which our senses have encountered.
When a Mason reads Pike, Wilmshurst, Pound, MacKey, Claudy, Butler and others he begins to realize what he has memorized means and how it makes a difference in his life. Thus he has gone from perception to knowledge. When that Mason uses that knowledge to govern his life and make himself a better person he has stepped up from knowledge to wisdom.
The trick is to get Masons to read.
Here is what McCurry had to say:
I watched a most inspiring video last night that was created by a member of the United Grand Lodge of England. Brother Julian Rees has truly inspired me to become a better Mason!
Approximately seven years ago, we had a Worshipful Master sitting in the East who truly and sincerely desired to create more Masonic education within our lodge. Therefore, he first asked for volunteers amongst the Brethren to create ANY small topic concerning a lesson to be learned from Free-masonry. He didn’t place any restrictions on what the Brethren could present; so long as it was something about our rituals, or something that they had learned while being a Mason. I am ashamed to say, that not one Brother ever came to our stated meeting and presented any such lessons. Our poor Worshipful Master ended up having to do this at each of our stated meetings himself.
Sure! We have “Masonic Education.” Many of the Brethren seem to think, that if you can memorize one of the three lectures flawlessly and without error, you have obtained “Masonic Education.” But, my concern is, have we presented enough knowledge to the newly made Mason coming into our ranks? Have we given enough knowledge to that new E.A. to even know what Free-masonry is all about? I don’t think so. No, we impart upon the newly made Mason that he only has three lectures to laboriously memorize as perfectly as he can; but if that new Brother makes a mistake of not “dotting his ‘i’ or crossing his ‘T,’ we strictly enforce the use of such perfection in syntax. Do we explain to him the meaning behind those words? Some would say that we do this with what we call the “Third Section of the Degree.” Here in Tennessee we have the so-called “Stereoptical Lecture” in the First Degree. You know what it is! It is that “so-antiquated slide show” where the pictures look as though they were created way back in the Nineteenth Century. So, we always have a Brother with the “slide clicker,” or the advance button, laboriously spitting out the lecture that accompanies the slide show as though he was reading it from a book. No! As a matter of fact, sometimes the Brother actually does read this lecture out of the book!
But, have we really imparted Masonic Knowledge to that newly made Brethren? Or have we imparted the idea that all you really need to do is laboriously learn the three lectures, pass them on, and become a Master Mason? In essence, are we treating our Masonic ritual as though it were a “Mason’s Mill,” where we pass these young brothers off as soon as we can, and as quickly as we can teach them those three lectures?
Brother Julian Rees inspired me with his words last night! I do not know this Brother. I have never met him. But, his eloquent talk that he gave inspired me to learn more! He taught me, that we as Brothers are on a spiritual journey; that there is more to Masonry than ham sandwiches and coffee. Therefore, I present Brother Rees to you with the hope that he will inspire you with his words as much as he has inspired me. I wish I could present this “little talk” by Brother Rees to the Brethren at my own lodge!