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:
“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.
You can find Building Boaz – Uncommon Catechism for Uncommon Masonic Education – Volume 2 on Amazon or from the website: http://www.coach.net/BuildingBoaz.htm.
Thanks for sharing all your kind words Brother Fred.