On a weekend late in February of 2016, I traveled to Oklahoma for a special Masonic event. It was the Spring Festive Board (untyled) for Lodge Veritas No 556, Grand Lodge of Oklahoma.
(Turn up the volume full for Bro. Flynn’s presentation)
We met at The Greens Country Club in Oklahoma City in full Masonic dress. There we started off the evening with cigars and the adult beverage of choice on the deck outside. As the sun slowly faded behind the horizon and the moon readied to take over, we gathered around a table with a mini fire pit and let the brotherly love flow. Some notable attendees were PGM Richard Massad and 33rd Bob Davis.
There Was Camaraderie
What seemed like all too soon, we adjourned to the dining room for toasts, prayer, singing and great food.
Lodge Veritas No 556 Masonic Toast
Lodge Veritas No 556 Masonic Toast
Lodge Veritas No 556 Singing
There Was A Great Gastronomic Experience
The special guest speaker was Masonic artist Ryan Flynn who made an enlightening presentation on art in Freemasonry from the Middle Ages to the present. Flynn showed us how to look for hidden meanings and symbolism and where they were in some of the great works in history.
Masonic Artist Ryan Flynn’s Presentation
Masonic Artist Ryan Flynn’s Presentation
Masonic Artist Ryan Flynn’s Presentation
Masonic Artist Ryan Flynn’s Presentation
There Was Masonic Education And Shared Knowledge
After closing the Festive Board we retired once again to the place from which we had started, the deck outside with the fire pit in the table. This time, it was dark. But that did not dampen the Masonic spirit in the slightest. Stories flowed back and forth and for some, new friendships were cemented for time immemorial.
There Was More Camaraderie
This experience was a lesson in how the practice of Freemasonry needs to be complimented. It is how our Masonic ancestors often gathered in taverns many moons ago. It makes the business of the Lodge the opening of the Masonic heart, the inspiring of the Masonic spirit and the sharing of esoteric knowledge to widen the Masonic mind all in a festive, celebratory setting. More Lodges should hold events like this. It is great for Lodge morale and Masonic bonding.
The Beehive has published the annual Allocution of R. Lucille Samuel, Grand Princess Captain, Lone Star Grand Guild, Most Worshipful Prince Hall
Lone Star Grand Guild Emblem
Grand Lodge of Texas for the last two years. Here is the latest 2016 Allocution delivered by Grand Princess Captain Samuel at her Grand Session this year.
Many leaders would be content to address their organization with platitudes and encouragement overlooking any areas of contention and needed improvement. There are many who care more about retaining power and not rocking the boat so as to make as few enemies as possible. In the process they don’t really lead, they follow the crowd.
Princess Captain Samuel is not one of those weak-kneed Sisters. She lets it all hang out and lets the chips fall where they may. The true leader leads and that’s what Samuel does. She is not afraid to point out the shortcomings of her group nor does she fear any blowback that she will get.
Which is why we continue to offer these annual Allocutions for public purview? If you are a leader or ascending the ladder to leadership you could do yourself a big favor by emulating the example of Princess Captain Samuel.
Be honest, be straightforward, and tell it like it is. Don’t gloss over the shortcomings with a rosy picture that has no relation to reality. BE BOLD – BE A LEADER
What Type of Leader Are You?
R. Lucille Samuel Grand Princess Captain Lone Star Grand Guild
To be alive and amongst the living is definitely something to celebrate! My Testimony is Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6. Last year was the Sun City and now we have arrived in the Big “D”!
I am delighted to bring you greetings on behalf of the Lone Star Grand Guild, Heroines of the Templars Crusade of Texas, PHA!
It seems we were at this Session on yesterday. 2016 has rolled in with a vengeance. But we have so much to be Thankful for despite the evils of this world. There is definitely a VOID in the room today without HPREGC Sir Ivory Johnson aka “Road Dawg’! He is missed beyond Words. We have lost many soldiers along the way but thru it all the mighty Lone Star Ship has remained above the seas!
I always ask that you pray for my fellow veterans and each other! Death has no number nor does it use the Yellow Pages. When the bell tolls, we must answer ready or not.
But I say unto you Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.
I started my travels in this Great Masonic Organization 29 years ago. I remember being so excited when it was time for a meeting. I would study my Ritual and be anxious just to sit on a Star Point and tell the stories of those 5 Heroines. Never cared about being Worthy Matron because I always thought that was for the older members that knew everything. I was intimidated by their titles and knowledge of the Order. Well, one day guess what it was my turn. Every month I would prepare with a Lecture and provide copies for everyone followed by a Q and A. I held study Sessions and awarded those that took the time to research. I loved sharing information it was a feeling like no other. In Peter 4:10 it tells us As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. What ever happened to that?
We used to make church visits constantly and the black and white took over most of the churches. Now we have to beg members to attend church. They have every excuse in the world. Well, I have to sing in the choir, I have to attend church with my spouse. Most of you can’t sign and why can’t your wife come to church with you? Now when the Grand Master tells us to turn out for Prince Hall Day there is more bling in the church on those collars than in the Jewelry Store. The church is what we are about and when you took the oath and obligation you vowed to support the organization. What happened? You don’t even have to regale all the time just attend church as a Masonic group. We are too busy fussing and arguing about why she is wearing that Regalia that organization is not more important than mine. Yes, we hear the remarks you leaders are making.
When we become Leaders now, we have become lazy and selfish. We don’t share any knowledge IF WE HAVE ANY for fear of loss of power. Knowledge is power. Teaching is a tool that makes you that leader that others will respect. If you have members with better ideas than you be Thankful! Two or more are always better than one. A rope is woven of three strands and hard to break. When some of our leaders understand that the organization will prosper. Being in a leadership position does not always mean that you are the expert. Sometimes even the leaders need to know that without your body you are a failure. You need to respect each other and stop tearing each other down. Never be afraid to accept assistance or listening to your members. There was a time when brothers and sisters encouraged each other and wished them well. Now it seems to be we look for all the flaws in one another and try to exploit them in front of others. You show up at meetings with a chip on your shoulder and looking for a reason to argue. We need to respect one another no matter whom or what our titles or offices are. Putting down another person because his or her organization is prospering and yours is steadily dissipating is unacceptable. We should be working together for the good of the Order. Don’t look out for only your interests but take an interest in others as well. The Grand Lodge of Texas is our Tree and We are all the Masonic Family that makes the different branches of that Tree. Instead of acting like cactus we need to bear fruit! Let’s work for a Cause and not applause. Stop trying to make your presence felt and make your absence felt!
Now I know everyone will say well who is she talking about? If you have to ask then you have already answered.
Many have fear and afraid to let go. Defeat is not the worst of failures. Never trying is the true failure. Failure is what teaches you what doesn’t work and develops you into a better leader and professional. Some worry about what other people are saying. You are only accountable for you the rest does not matter. Never allow someone’s opinion of you to become your reality.
You have to allow members to develop their full potentials. Never allowing them to share their ideas or thoughts cripples your organization. Leaders also fear that their position is in jeopardy if they share information or knowledge with others. If you see that your membership is declining and you continue to go thru the same motions every year at your Session then, Houston WE have a problem. When your organization is on Life Support it is time for new oxygen. Our members attend Conferences to learn and enjoy their bonds with their Sisters and Brothers. They need to feel needed and not just meeting your quotas and paying your salaries or stipends.
Leaders also fear change. Well if it is not about me and I didn’t come up with the idea then we are not doing it. He or She just wants to make her organization look good. So instead of taking the time to listen and entertain a person’s thoughts you continue with your same old ways and everyone suffers. There comes a time when we have to realize it is time to move on and allow others to have a chance at leadership. You have served your time and you have nothing more to offer. Step aside and stop trying to block others from their potentials. That organization does not belong to you and you have stifled its growth. Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. Being a leader does not require a title. Having a title does not make everyone a leader.
Respect each other because we all need each other. Envy and stubbornness will get you nowhere. How you treat others is a direct reflection of how you feel about yourself. Support each other and stop bashing each other. You are not meant to wear my armor because it will not fit you. None of us are perfect and no organization is any better than the other. Stop worrying about what others are doing and focus on your journey instead of the destination. It is not about the destination but how you traveled to get there. There are 3 things you can never hide from the sun, the moon, and the truth.
If you feel intimidated by someone be woman or man enough to discuss your concerns with that person and not about that person to someone else.
As I stated last year and I continue to say the only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.
Until we can stand together we will never accomplish anything. We have to do better or there will be no Prince Hall Family for our children or grandchildren to enjoy. We are supposed to have each other’s back not stab each other’s back. When all is said and done what will your obituary say?
R. Lucille Samuel Grand Princess Captain Lone Star Grand Guild
When Greg Stewart interviewed me for a piece on Freemason Information, I can remember him asking me where is Freemasonry headed, what’s working right now and what isn’t? That was the gist of what he was asking – what path does Freemasonry take for the future?
I have gotten to thinking of that question once more after watching Lodge Veritas’ Ryan Flynn Festive Board Promo video. While Freemasonry has shown a sharp decrease in Lodge attendance in the 21st century so far, it has also shown a huge increase in Internet Freemasonry.
So while the idea of Freemasonry, its philosophy, has shown a marked increase in activity on the Internet, especially within Social Media and You Tube Videos, the practice of Freemasonry in person has tailed off. Could that be because Lodge Meetings no longer discuss ideas but are continually bogged down by administrative issues? And great ritual performances have been replaced by the marketing of Freemasonry and its push for recognition in society with an over emphasis on charitable pursuits?
I recall that I, as a Texas Prince Hall Freemason, recently attended a Third Degree at a Dallas Grand Lodge of Texas Lodge. The degree was well done, the charge spot on and the gathering at a restaurant afterward a significant bonding and camaraderie addition to the evening. Why can’t we do this all the time, I asked myself?
And then there was the Grand Raising at Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas at its recent Winter Grand Session where Masonic talent from all over the state contributed to a majestic event that sent goose bumps down one’s spine. Why can’t we do this all the time, I asked myself?
Aye, there’s the rub!
Maybe we as Freemasons don’t “think great” enough. Maybe we have allowed our once great dominant fraternity to diminish itself by too many mundane and trivial pursuits. Maybe we don’t have the “fire in the belly” for our Craft anymore.
I have no crystal ball so I can’t tell you where Freemasonry is headed. I can tell you that Lodge Veritas in Oklahoma gets it. They understand what it will take, to borrow aTrump phrase, to make Freemasonry great again. After you watch the video, you will too. And…Brother Flynn is a great artist!
For a long time, Brother Wayne Anderson of Canada has been running a Masonic Newsletter featuring one paper that he sends out every Sunday. I have been a subscriber of his for years and we have become good friends. Recently he sent out a paper of mine which I had long forgotten that I had written. It was written on January 1, 2012. Perhaps you have read it before, perhaps you haven’t. I reprint it here as it seems to reflect thoughts that are universal and never go out of date.
Here is Anderson’s Sunday Newsletter paper that he sent out:
I want to wish each and every member of the Sunday Masonic Paper list a very Happy and Healthy 2016. Today’s paper comes from my long time friend, mentor and good Brother Fred Milliken.
My Masonic New Year’s Resolution
January 1, 2012 by Fred Milliken
Do you believe in coincidences? I don’t.
Do you believe in Angels? I do.
Guess you know where to classify me now.
Before I went to bed on New Year’s eve I read a piece from a friend and Brother who said that he was going to spend his New Year’s day in contemplation of what he had done in 2011 and what he had failed to do and how he could make 2012 Masonically better. Did he visit and help Brothers in need often enough? Did he listen and think about those Brothers who had asked his advice and those that had whispered in his ear? Did he walk the extra mile, did he let anyone down?
He asks himself:
Did I hold true to my values all year-long? Did I lose a friend through lack of communication to too much of it? Did I do all that was required of me in time of need? Did I make new friends? Did I create any enemies? Did I leave something undone that I could have finished, and many more questions that I ask of myself.
These are some of the things that he was going to cogitate on.
On New Year’s morning I read a piece from Canadian Brother Wayne Anderson’s Masonic Newsletter – Sunday Masonic Paper No. 611 – where Brother Doug Gray pondered:
As we approach the count down toward the end of 2011; and the beginning of a New Year, it is a time many use for some reflection! I just wanted to remind everyone that although Masonry is well known as a “Progressive Science”; it should also be remembered as a “Reflective Science.”
The true purpose and value in Masonry is to gain knowledge of ones self; and his own relationship with God.
We must use our Lodge time as a place to think, to consider our fellow-man, to become “Human” and to gain “Wisdom”.
Looking inward is the place to begin, evaluate shortcomings with respect to our obligation, our charges and our commitment to the working tools or each degree.
Brotherhood is our vision in Masonry. How well do you know your Lodge and District Brothers?
Buddha taught: Man is so entangled in the “Tragedy of Life”, they are bound together out of sympathy in a “Brotherhood of pity…” Zoroaster taught: That Men are Brethren because warriors in battle between “Light and Darkness” a “Brotherhood of Battle…” Confucius: Brothers because of “common obligations”, a “Brotherhood of Service.”
In my practice of religion I am quite familiar with “centering prayer” which is much like meditation. You take a symbol, a phrase, an idea or a short scripture reading and you meditate on it for hours, making sure you clear your mind of all else. You contemplate the thought you have chosen, repeating it over and over and listening for an answer. If your mind wanders onto something else you force it back often by repeating out loud your chosen thought. Over and over, hour after hour until you have an answer. Where the answer comes from I am not going to get into. That is up to your own personal belief system.
So not believing in coincidences and getting pushed by my Angel I decide to do some Masonic centering prayer/meditation on the Masonic symbol of the Point Within A Circle.
I cleared my mind of everything but the Point Within A Circle and began. Soon I found myself in a closed maze where I went around and around. At one end I bumped into St. John the Baptist at another end the Holy Scriptures and at a third point St. John the Evangelist. But what was the message, what were they trying to tell me? Over and over I pondered and meditated.
After some time it was clear to me that I was being strongly urged to make a Masonic New Year’s Resolution – a commitment to accomplish something in the coming year. But further meditation yielded no clue as to what that Masonic New Year’s Resolution should be. This was not going to be as easy as I thought.
Maybe this is where free will comes in. It’s all up to me. But I am not sure what I should choose. Perhaps you have some suggestions.
Wayne D. Anderson, FCF, MPS
D.D.G.M. Frontenac District, G.R.C. 2015-16
I have read many a Masonic book in my time. Some of them are so complicated, grandiose and difficult to read that sometimes I think I am back in school reading a textbook. That is why reading Nelson Rose’s book, A Masonic Journey, is a welcomed change of pace.
Rose has written a book that reads easily and comfortably and you are able to move right along. As Rose says, “I would like to focus on the journey itself.”
He continues, “Perhaps while you read this you can reflect on where you fit, not just within the walls of your lodge, but in your community or even you own home. All of us are bricks in the temple of humanity. When one considers the differences in the bricks used on the outer walls versus the inner chambers, it is easy to see that our diversity does not prevent our unity and that while we can choose to stand alone, we miss out on the grandeur of being a piece of something greater.”
So we get to read how Rose felt being raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason and how he felt being the Worshipful Master of his Lodge.
We also get to read how Rose feels on Masonic subjects. On education he feels the study of Masonic Philosophy is more important than learning ritual.
On Brotherly Love he says, “Our membership is suffering not because of changes in society, but because of our inability to keep the normal cut-throat attitudes of society outside the lodge.” Society isn’t doing so well in Rose’s eyes. “Then I look at our fraternity,” he says. I often wonder if society is suffering as a result of the watered down state of the Craft.”
We can do it; we can be great Rose concludes as he takes us through the concepts of From Darkness to Light, Brotherly Love, Further Light, On the Level, Achieving Balance, Toleration and the Path to Perfection.
“When properly applied all the lessons of Freemasonry will enable a man to find that balance which enables him to spread his influence and love like the mortar of friendship and Brotherly love in all aspects of his life,” Rose exhorts us.
Again he reminds us, “The hopes and fears of all humanity are universal; how we deal with them are not. The lessons of Masonry are designed to help, aid, and assist a man along the journey of life.”
Rose continues, ”We should let the world observe how Masons love one another and we should show the world our love for ALL our fellow man. Of all the organizations known to man, it is Masonry that has focused on a communal and fraternal system of morality. We work together for the good of all, not just ourselves.”
We get a glimpse of Masonic education after Lodge as Masons of Rose’s Lodge go out for pub and grub afterward. This is a very common phenomenon in Freemasonry. A great back and forth and bonding occurs over libation and breaking bread together. Rose lets us in on a bit of that after Lodge conversation with his Brothers.
He also describes some of his in Lodge doings. But the best part of the book comes when Rose waxes philosophical. He actually spells out what he is thinking, saying,
Nelson Rose and Son
The Creator or Grand Architect only designs – thus the name architect. It is the individual choices that a man makes that dictate what will become of his life and what direction he travels is based on his own moral compass. Among us are the hints and clues that the Architect has placed in the most sublime ways.
And then there is, “It is no coincidence that the many men of science who are credited with redefining what was thought of as divine or supernatural, into the laws of nature and science, were Freemasons.”
Followed by, “The ability to learn how to think versus what to think is perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned from my studies in Freemasonry.”
There are a lot of Rose-isms in this book. We can’t give them all to you; you’ve got to read the book yourself.
The last third of the book is devoted to a detailed explanation of Masonic lessons that are a part of Masonic education. So we see the importance of the Five Senses and The Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences, followed by some of the prominent symbols of Freemasonry – The Square, The Compasses, The letter G, The Quadrant, The Sun and finally The Tenets of Freemasonry. Rose concludes the book with some words to the wise for Freemasons and what we should be standing for.
The real gem in this part of the book that we haven’t touched on yet was Rose’s Masonic Education lecture that he delivered in Lodge. So all the non-Masons that read this book if you want to know what goes on inside the closed doors of the guarded Lodge Room, here is your chance. And what makes it so great is that it was an unprepared lecture as Rose was drafted at the last minute, so it was delivered from the heart.
In his lecture, Rose told his Lodge,
The open Bible reminds us that it is the moral law and the essence of deity that sits in the center of the Lodge. Without either, the lodge could not be opened or any obligation be taken. It is this symbol that reminds us that we as individuals are not the center of the Lodge and that we should govern our actions to a higher standard.
A Masonic Journey is not only a book that should be in every Mason’s library, but it is also a great book to give to someone who would make a good Mason or is contemplating becoming one. Very rarely do we get to follow the personal thoughts of a Freemason and learn from him personally how the Craft has benefitted him and society as a whole. It makes this book differ radically from a theoretical treatise on Freemasonry and it is an opportunity you should not miss.
Nelson Rose is a member of the Grand Lodge of Florida and the United Grand Lodge of England and writes for his Blog –
Coach Nagy’s book Building Boaz is aptly described by his subtitle – Uncommon Catechism For Uncommon Masonic Education. Nagy has written twelve new catechisms for the Entered Apprentice.
Nagy defines a catechism as “a book or manual of basic instruction giving a brief summary of the basic principles of a subject, usually by means of rote, formulaic statement or repetition in question and answer form.” It is also, “a close questioning or examination, as of a political figure, student or a person wishing to show their proficiency of a topic or subject.” Furthermore, it is “a body of work expressing fundamental principles or beliefs, especially when accepted uncritically, as a series of searching inquiries and responses on any targeted subject or interest.”
Most Freemasons will recognize this style of learning as many jurisdictions hand out little booklets of questions and answers also containing the obligation that the new Mason must memorize and be able to repeat back to the Lodge. Nagy takes that concept and expands upon it, giving us further insight and meaning into the teachings of the First Degree.
Nagy informs us:
John “Coach” Nagy
“The emphasis of this book is upon the Entered Apprentice Degree. Without a doubt, the focuses at play within this Degree are that of the Temple Foundation and Preparing the Stone that will eventually be Raised, Positioned and Cemented into that House not made by hand. For the benefit of this Temple Work to be long lasting, Masons must have both a Strong Foundation and a Properly Prepared Stone with a Strengthened Inner Core.”
“These two aspects, Strength and Proper Preparation, are critical in the Work of all Masons. They both Establish the Temples Built and guard Masons well against what may impede them in their Travels. Too many Temples fail or Travels cease due to flawed Foundations or yielding Stones – preventable failures all.”
“For new Masons today, the focus of their Work seems different than in years past. It appears now to be more suited toward having Brothers learn Ritual to support Ritual and the Lodge rather than learning what makes for Strong Entered Apprentices and earnestly Working toward Establishing necessary Strength within the newly Entered Stones.”
“The focus of this book is on those connections that come into supportive play for Masons long after the Initial Work is finished. To Travel upon the Masonic Path as an Entered Apprentice is to review and become familiar with Masonic ways. It is to examine and rectify your Morals in the Light of all which you profess to be Sacred. It is to assure that all that can weaken your Stone is removed while you Strengthen your core.”
People often ask how we as Masons make good men better. Even some Masons have no clue as to how this is done. What it involves, as Coach Nagy explains, is not mere memorization of Masonic ritual but rather study and contemplation beyond the Degree work that cements the virtues and the morality of Freemasonry firmly in the mind of the new Mason. The new Brother must understand the why and the how of the philosophy of Masonry in order to make himself a better man.
To facilitate that end, Nagy has put together a series of catechisms to provide a framework of study and reflection. Each catechism will explore the meaning of words. Nagy has the Brother get right down to the basics, the nitty gritty of it all.
For Nagy, the meaning of words is very important. Assign a false meaning to a word and you can destroy a whole philosophy. That is why Nagy uses the catechism format with its question and answer routine, so that meanings do not get mixed up in wrong definitions that can confuse or change the philosophy of Masonry. A word progresses to a concept, which leads to a thought or idea that taken all together as a whole makes a system or philosophy. And this is exactly how Nagy Builds Boaz.
It all starts with a word, and then another word and another and another until we have strung together a concept. Soon a thought or idea – a meaning – is established. Taking all these thoughts or ideas (catechisms) together and you have explained the meaning of the First Degree. Do this with the Second and Third Degree and you now have an understanding of the way of life that is Masonry.
Nagy is the Socrates of Freemasonry, asking question after question after question. It is very fortunate that in Building Boaz – Uncommon Catechism for Uncommon Masonic Education – Volume 2 we get answer after answer after answer. Nagy would be the first to tell you that these are not all the answers. There are many more which each individual Brother needs to discover on his own. But the beauty of Building Boaz is that it gets the new Mason in the frame of mind to make inquires and explore meanings – to ask questions and to search for answers and to get some answers. In so doing he cements the morality of Masonry into his inner core. That inner core will help to govern his outward actions. Many a time I have seen and heard of men who carry themselves above reproach. Their light shines to everybody they come in contact with. Often those around such a person want to know how he got that way. Chances are really good that person is a Freemason who has studied his Craft, built a firm foundation of Masonic understanding and strengthened his inner core.
That’s what Building Boaz is all about. This is not only a book that should be in every Mason’s library it should be presented by the Lodge to every new Entered Apprentice upon the completion of his First Degree. It also should be used for Masonic education for all in the Lodge Room, reinforcing those values that make Masonry truly a way of life.
PM Michael Huskisson 1283, GM Wilbert M. Curtis, Eric Brewer 1283, David Villegas 1283, David Bindel 1283, Rick Parker 1218
A Historical event in Texas Freemasonry took place on Friday, November 13, 2015. For the first time Brethren from Local Lodges of the Grand Lodge of Texas visited a Grand Session of The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas.
Past Grand Master Jerry Martin of the Grand Lodge of Texas visited the Summer Grand Session of Prince Hall in June of 2015, but no local Brethren accompanied him.
Newly Raised Master Masons Prince Hall Texas
The occasion this past Friday was a Grand Raising of 52 Fellow Crafts under the leadership of Grand Master Wilbert M. Curtis. Grand Master Curtis recognized the visiting Brethren from Jewel P. Lightfoot Lodge No 1283 and Irving Lodge No 1218 before proceeding with the degree.
Both Texas Grand Lodges signed a mutual compact of recognition in April of 2007, but that agreement prohibited intervisitation. It was not until the first of this year, 2015, that the compact was modified to allow cross visitation.
Brethren from Jewel P. Lightfoot No 1283 Grand Lodge of Texas just last month visited Pride of Mt. Pisgah No 135 Prince Hall Texas. In December Pride of Mt. Pisgah with Brethren from other Prince Hall Lodges will be visiting Jewel P. Lightfoot to observe their Third Degree.
Newly Raised Master Masons from Pride of Mt. Pisgah with Brothers from Mt. Pisgah and Grand Lodge of Texas Brethren
It seems that concerns that both Grand Lodges might have had over intervisitation were not anything to worry about. All visitations so far have been received with great joy and great fellowship. Welcome to the 21st Century!
First-time author, Mason Pratt, brings to life a story of personal growth and mentorship. Read about the world’s best kept hidden and protected secrets. A story written as a fiction novel, with underlying truths.
Could it be true that there is a path that would lead a person to an unbelievable richness of growth and self-fulfillment as a member of a truly gifted society? Join Drew as he seeks the answer to this profound question.
Don’t we all, or at least most of us, want to see good triumph over evil? Isn’t there an inner self that seeks out the best for the individual and humankind at the same time? The only requirement to activate that which lies deep within us is to listen closely and quietly to where one is being nudged.
Is that God working within? Perhaps in many cases it is. But isn’t it possible that those who dig deep inside themselves can activate forces that the more superficial human cannot fathom?
If you had that little extra power, that higher ability coupled with a higher calling, could you not steer humankind to the preservation and protection of those working to make society a better place to live? At the same time would you not want those who possess such powers to subscribe to a code of virtues, ethics and morality?
And so starts the book Finding El Dorado with an ordinary man named Drew Wyatt who has a burning desire to make a difference in this world we call earth. That goodness which he has brought to the surface from the inner self and displayed publicly is what makes Wyatt attractive to a group called “Strykers.”
The Strykers see in Wyatt a good man that they can make better.
Finding El Dorado Sign of the Order. The triple tau is within a triangle and that is within a circle.
Wyatt tells them:
“I know it sounds a little hokey, but I think we owe a duty to others to make this a better place to live. Especially with the way the world is nowadays. I would like to think I had higher ideals and that my ‘destiny’ is somehow still out there. I do try to help out. I have volunteered at different places, I have given blood at the local Blood Bank and work with a local fraternal group in town working with schools and people down on their luck, but nothing permanent.”
The Strykers explain to Wyatt that:
“The name Stryker is new; we have gone under other names throughout history to stay relatively anonymous. The group goes public for a while every several hundred years or so for reasons I will explain later. However, to answer your question directly, the group has had many names depending on the time of history. We have been called in the last century Ghosts and Spirits when something unexplained happened, in early America we were called Medicine men and Shamans, in the middle ages we were called Magicians, Sorcerers, Wizards and Witches, in ancient countries of Greece, Egypt and Norway we were Seers and Soothsayers, in the ancient Middle East we were Oracles and Prophets, in India and the Far East we were called Genies and Viziers. We have been called Mages, Enchanters, Diviners, Conjurers, and Healers. The list goes on and on.”
“We are convinced that you have what it takes to join our order. You have the empathy to contribute as well as the temperament to control the power and responsibility to help society. Only one in thousand are considered and then only a small portion of them are accepted into the order.” His face suddenly became very serious, as he continued: “BUT…be aware that this group is difficult to join, dangerous to operate in and is a lifetime commitment.”
And that is the beginning of a new life for Drew Wyatt. First he must be interviewed, then initiated and finally he must complete 12 tasks to hone his skills as a Stryker and prove that he understands how to use his new powers correctly and wisely.
It is this story unfolding in which we see the development of an ordinary human being into an extraordinary one. It is a path that leads him to an unbelievable richness of growth and self-fulfillment?
Finding El Dorado Blue Rose
It is also a captivating story that pushes the limits of scientific study and breakthroughs. With the Blue Rose as their symbol Strykers are literally enabled to change the world we live in. They cannot eliminate evil but they can foster and guide the good so that there is order in the world, not anarchy.
While this is a fiction book it is also one with a message. Freemasons will instantly recognize the message that author Brother Mason Pratt is trying to convey. It is exactly the virtues of Freemasonry that Strykers operate with but unlike Freemasons, Strykers have a mission to be deeply involved in the inner workings of society, to preserve and protect society so that it continues onward and upward on its path.
This work can be a tremendous tool to explain how Freemasons think. For that reason, it is a great gift to those men deemed worthy of Masonic membership. It is very difficult for most Freemasons to explain their Craft. Through the use of fiction intertwined with philosophy and morality Pratt has written a book that will give deep understanding as to the nature of fraternal virtues and callings for all who read it. It is written for the Mason and the non-Mason alike.
As Pratt says about the Stryker movement:
Brother Mason Pratt
Their direction is accomplished by forming new leaders using several ancient arts and sciences that move their initiates past the petty struggles of money and power. In this knowledge, Drew discovers a ‘worldwide’ unity of humanity which is held together by these constructive ideals.
I call Finding El Dorado the “Atlas Shrugged” of fraternal societies.
“ Do men exist who cannot see Past Surfaces? Ritual repeatedly tells us they do. They only Grasp the Superficial Aspects of Life and this includes other males. They cannot See ‘in Depth’, nor do they Seek to See anything other than what is Seen upon the Surfaces when they gaze. They cannot Cross Perpetual Bournes and are themselves unpassably hampered by their Burdens and lauded Weaknesses.”
No one else can transform their thoughtless ways. Their choices create their Limitations. Their Progress lessens each day they refuse to do Rudimentary Work intended to Improve them. Corruption eventually Ruffian’s its way through their Every Manner and, in time, even their very Looks Betray them. No overall good comes by Passing Brothers Unprepared to take Manhood’s reins. Doing so Pollutes our Numbers and Sabotages our Aims.”
“Yet, Choices to do so, based upon fears of doors closing and coffers shrinking, directs our ranks away from our Professed Principles. Titular Progression is to these Brothers’ detriment and to our collective Body as well. Bestowing Youths with unmerited titles rather than Maturing them toward Manhood is the Antithesis of Craft Ideals and Goals. For the Craft to regain its original Value, it must as a whole ‘grow up’ and do so unapologetically and without fear of losing lost boys. Restoration demands that it ‘man up’ in every way and to do so Masterfully. It shall not occur though until each member does so for himself. Only Men can lead Youths into Manhood, Without Manhood, males are Bound and not Free.”
So begins Coach John Nagy’s book, “BUILDING FREE MEN, Uncommonly Freeing Masonic Education.”
And this is what Nagy has dedicated himself to convey:
“Far too many Brothers truly believe that what they are told during their Craft training is the whole of what needs to be conveyed to them. They don’t realize that this training was only laying a foundation for further learning and that it was not their entire education.”
Adding to the confusion, misunderstanding and misinformation according to Nagy is not realizing the true meaning of many Masonic words and their historical context. Chief among those Masonic words is the distinction between Masonry and Freemasonry.
“Masonry is about ‘making things,” says Nagy. “In essence, Mason are Builders.”
“To be called a ‘Freemason’, one must belong to a duly Recognized Organization and, furthermore, one does not require anything more from oneself than this legitimate association to wear this label.”
That is why a Freemason pledges to improve himself in Masonry (not Freemasonry).
Nagy goes on to say, “As membership exists in this moment, a Freemason does not have to Build anything whatsoever. He does not have to Speculate in any way. He does not even have to do anything other than pay his dues on time and be moral in his actions; he only has to be an Accepted Member. In essence, today Freemasons are Members.”
Nagy then proceeds to destroy the myth that Freemasons were named after Masons who worked with Freestones. This leads to a whole discourse on the original meaning of the word “Free.”
Nagy tells us that the word Free comes from the French Franc or Franche which means superior or excellent.
As he says, “What is not clear to most Brothers is that how the word ‘free’ is used and understood within words today is not how it was used and meant originally. The word ‘free’ as it was originally understood and used years ago referred solely to the superiority or excellence or both.
We then get into the definitions of “Accepted,” “Initiated, “ “Received,” and “Entered.” All these terms refer to Brothers coming into the Lodge, non-Masons being “made” Masons. Accepted is one who has already joined, Nagy reports.
So why go through the historic meanings of words that have different meanings today? We do so because it changes the history of the Craft and today’s understanding of its origins.
Nagy tells us that because of not understanding the original meanings on the words Free Masons and Accepted Masons that we now erroneously consider that – “’Free Masons’ were Operative and ‘Accepted Masons’ were speculative.”
Not true says the coach.
“As shared previously, the word ‘Free’ came from the word ‘Franche’, whose original and now obsolete meaning was ‘Superior; Excellent’. Masons who wore the title ‘Free Mason’ were Masterful Craftsmen. Our current modern day label for such Brothers is, ‘Master Masons’.”
“Contrast this with those Masons who were only beginning their education in the fraternity. These newly ‘Made’ Masons were initiated, but had yet to begin learning. These Brothers were ‘Accepted’ but they were far from being masterful in any way.”
“They were ‘newly Made’, ‘newly initiated’, ‘newly Entered’, and, as the term clearly implies, ‘newly Accepted’. Our current modern day label for such Brothers is, ‘Entered Apprentices’.”
“When you add the two original, now obsolete meanings into the universally used Fraternal phrase ‘Free & Accepted’ Masons’, you begin to see that the phrase, as interpreted by unknowing Brothers for nearly three hundred years, does not mean ‘Operative & Speculative’ Masons. It means ‘Superior & Initiated’ Masons, or, in more modern terms, ‘Master & Apprentice’ Masons
This all has enormous connotations as to the origin of Freemasonry and helps bolster the argument that Freemasonry did not originate from the Medieval builders Guilds. For further development of this theme, I would refer you to Coach Nagy’s book, “The Craft Unmasked.”
What followed was definitions of the words “Speculative” and “Operative.” In regards to Speculative Nagy says:
“Its original meaning denoted ‘prolonged theoretical thought’ and connoted ‘the liberal arts as opposed to the “mechanic” arts (i.e., arts requiring manual skill)’. It is clear that the intent of the word ‘speculative’ was not to engage in unfounded thinking but to use it as a bridging metaphor for building toward the application of techniques used to ‘build builders of men’ by way of the liberal arts study rather than the manual arts. In essence, Speculative Masons are supposed to be ‘Well-Founded Cultivated Thinkers’. Such Cultivation doesn’t occur without Operative elements. This means it requires work.
That leads to an interesting question posed by Nagy.
“If Operative members of the Organization did all the labor and Speculative members did all the thinking, wouldn’t the Organization need both functioning together to accomplish anything of significance?”
After all, says Nagy, “Even Rituals today in many different Jurisdictions state quite succinctly that ‘our ancient brethren worked at (wrought in) both Operative and Speculative Masonry.”
And here is where we get to a conclusion that is vital to Masonic Education.
“Unfortunately, creating a division, due the Speculative belief that Spiritual Temples require no Operative involvement to bring them forth only confuses the Builders of such Temples.”
John “Coach” Nagy
This first third of the book is only the set up for the deeper discussion of Masonic Education and Building Free Men. Now we can see why Nagy set the table as he did and where he is going with all this.
“Furthermore, what maintains members maintains organizations, but what maintains Organizations won’t necessarily maintain its members.”
I would like to frame that and put it on my wall! And furthermore, I would send it in a plaque form to my Grand Lodge.
Nagy goes on to say, “This is because Organizations are mechanical while its members are living beings. Each requires different support. Each requires different methods. Each requires different mindsets to survive and thrive. When Brothers confuse the two and try to treat one as the other, much is lost for all those involved.”
And I will frame that last paragraph also. We now see why Nagy makes a clear distinction between Freemasonry and Masonry. This distinction is even further emphasized when Nagy tells us, “Freemasonic Secrets differ from Masonic Secrets. The former are given to members by Brothers by simply showing up and complying with what is Ordered by the Craft. The latter are revealed to Masons through diligent personal Work and are not usually directly revealed by others.”
A better case could not be made for Masonic reading, study and education outside the tyled Lodge room. Nagy really is “Uncommonly Freeing Masonic Education.”
Nagy goes on to say that this kind of investment into Masonic study will yield spiritual results. Those that come to Lodge and confine their study to only that which takes place inside the Lodge room are practicing superficial Masonry and “shall find no more with the Organization than a soul-less machine to serve.”
“When Perpended thoroughly, nurturing Fraternal activities keep focused at all times on our humanity, especially when called to serve. Freemasonry was never intended to be soulless!”
“Men may enter Freemasonry, but it is only builders who take Masonic Steps thereafter.”
“Look closely and you’ll see that Masonry is Spiritual Journey. To do Masonry any other Way or for any other Reason corrupts its intent.”
When Masonry is practiced in this manner, Nagy tells us that Brothers will have many insights into life that others may lack and that they are poised to do great things.
Then we are back to definitions again. Following the Free emphasis of the book Nagy investigates Freeborn.
It is commonly assumed that “Freeborn” alludes to a man who has never been a slave. But Nagy’s criticism of this interpretation leads him to say, “The definitions for the most part merely break the compound word apart and then switch around the words to define itself.”
One historical definition that he points to is, “ Free Born: A free soul; one having attained mastery of himself by self-discipline. It is a misconception that this refers to one not born into slavery.”
What follows is looking into the derivation and interpretations of the words Able ( Able at birth, Able in all degrees), Bondman, and Freo. That led to the word Noble which Nagy says, “Freeborn, if taken for all the evidence found associated with noble within dictionaries, did not mean ‘not born a slave’ but something very different. It meant someone born into the upper classes of society.”
Here we are right back again with the previous discussion of Freestone and Freemasonry and the word Free for Nagy continues, “it (dictionary) said that ‘nobel’ had an archaic meaning. That meaning was of excellent or superior quality.”
“On the surface, the profane world would look at the words written in these Old Charges and assume that freeborn meant free or unbound as it is understood today. They might never gather that it alluded to being from the higher tiers of society.”
“And just as the stones being brought from the quarry required careful scrutiny to assure they were free, as in ‘excellent-superior’ quality, to assure the Work that was to commence upon them was not in vain, the men being brought into the Craft needed to be just as free for the exact same reasons.”
Getting into the heart of Masonic education, study and learning Nagy informs us that Masonry teaches in Allegory.
“What is the key to Allegorical Understanding? You must accept that allegory is not presented as ‘fact’; it is presented to help realize and recognize ‘truths’. Allegory is about truth being conveyed; not fact.”
What was intended here was scholarship.
“What was the Scholastic end-in-mind for Freemasons?” asks Nagy. “To cultivate Free thinking men with the full capacity to recognize and understand symbols within theological and philosophical writings and to do so in such a way as to render their wisdom and insights into everyday use.”
“And Modified Behavior indicates learning has occurred.”
Nagy tells us that “Apprentice work transforms the heart.” Fellowcraft work deals with the head. Thus Masons, “Move from adulthood to Age and from Maturity to Wisdom.”
Unfortunately, today’s Freemasonry has dumbed down the Craft. Nagy tells us, “Within our modern Craft, Mastery no longer means a man is skilled in anything other than being able to repeat back words in the same manner that he was taught. He need not be able to explain or understand any of these words, past how he was told to understand or explain them. He need not even be what these words express, save the bare essence of him being accepted by his Brothers.”
“…there are some Brothers within the current Order who want others to believe they could do Justice to a man by making him a Brother, then a Fellow and then hang a ‘Master’s’ title upon him within hours.”
“It leaves outside observers with the impression that: 1) These Brothers did not care about Cultivating any Apprentice’s character or abilities. 2) They did not care about investing time with him or if the man has time to invest with them. 3) They do not want to be troubled by seemingly unnecessary Work. 4) They did not want to assure him that he can and will succeed in the world as a result of his Efforts.”
“Moreover, it leaves the impression that all they are interested in is ‘progressing’ him toward a title that permits him to be a dues paying member of the Lodge and potentially someone who will engage in the same activities that they endorse through their actions. All this is at the cost of each Brother’s future successes.”
Again it is the superficiality of Freemasonry that Nagy is attacking. That is those Brothers that refuse to delve into the meanings of words, symbols, penalties and Masonic virtues and then apply them to their daily lives. Yes, we should all learn our proficiencies but in the process there should be Lodge structure to teach the new Brother how to apply them and what it really means to be a Mason.
This is a profound work that will pause many a Mason to stop and think about what Nagy is saying here. Perhaps it will spur a Brother or two or three or more to pick up a Masonic book, to ask some questions, to sit at a roundtable Masonic discussion. For the goal here is spiritual and philosophical and the development of the individual and his soul. Being a Mason is more than paying dues, memorizing and repeating ritual and doing activities. To be a Mason involves WORK. Coach Nagy has done what he set out to do. He has coached Freemasons to become all that they can be, to study, learn and educate themselves and to understand the historical context wherein Freemasonry grew. For this reason, this is a must book for every member of the Craft.
You can purchase the book here: http://www.coach.net/BuildingFreeMen.htm
Last week in Georgia, the Grand Master, Douglas McDonald, issued an edict with the endeavor to change their adultery provision to additionally read, “Homosexual activity with anyone subjects the offender to discipline.”
I’m afraid there will be more of this. Brethren should consider that they have all probably been sitting in lodge with homosexuals since the day they became an EA. I strongly encourage Masons to check their state’s code and take steps to remove these provisions. I’m no gay activist, but we live in different times now, and the Supreme Court has spoken on the subject. Like it or not, such rules may subject us to lawsuits, and I humbly beseech Grand Masters not to act rashly because homosexuality conflicts with their own personal views of morality. We have had thousands of gay members since our beginnings, almost entirely without incident or without bringing disgrace upon the Craft. What someone does in the privacy of their own bedrooms is none of our business, as long as they don’t bring their politics into the lodge room.
Hodapp also reports on the Grand Lodge of Tennessee attempting to expel a Gay member.
What an utterly embarrassing day it is for Freemasonry in the state of Georgia. An angry day. We are a non-religious educational institution based on Brotherly Love for our fellow man. Tolerance is a key tenet of the organization. A man’s character is all that matters. Not his race, his personal religion, his wealth or social status. And certainly NOT his sexuality.
Yet, our deeply religious Grand Master just shoved down our throats (pun intended) an edict that bans a homosexual from becoming a Mason on the basis that it’s moral sin under God. His version of God. There was no debate, no unanimous decision. There wasn’t a statewide call for this action by the brethren. It was issued like an executive order in the very last month of his term. He opened Pandora’s Box and I certainly gave him an earful of which I’ll probably be reprimanded for or worse. But I will not sit idly by without raising my voice.
This is what scares me about these Ralph Reed-type religious far-right wingers in our country. I believe in separation of church and state. I joined this institution specifically because religion and politics (two of the most divisive subjects of mankind) are strictly prohibited from being discussed within a lodge. And with one man’s actions, now all GA Masons will be painted as backward ass bigots.