Freemasonry is grounded in three specific virtues which are at the core of Masonic teachings. Are these virtues really at the core of the Masonic connection to faith, religion and the divine?
These three virtues are the foundations upon which Freemasonry is built.
Brotherly Love as directed towards all mankind and especially to other Masons. Relief, in that every Mason is obligated to relieve the suffering of any Master Mason they encounter who is in dire need, and if in their power to do so, to the best of their ability, Also to act charitably towards society, giving of themselves to better the common good. And Truth, which is represented by the Divine in its multiplicity and diversity, as understood by all men.
These three ideas represent the core upon which Freemasonry focuses in its ultimate distillation, in that Freemasonry does not hold one faith above another, rather seeing faith itself as the common denominator between all of faiths.
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.
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 –
There is a new Masonic graphic artist on the scene and he is on fire! Brother Ryan Flynn, Senior Deacon of Ancient York Lodge No 89, Nashua, New Hampshire has designed two stained glass windows for his Lodge building. And it all started with an E-Mail.
“The Building Committee is looking to do some decals for the windows in the east. I mentioned your name. It’s time to do your thing.”
Flynn’s business partner and friend Brother Chris Busby knew that he had the right man for the job. So these two, working with Past Master Robert Bianchi of Nahua’s other Lodge, Rising Sun No 39, created two windows in plastic in five weeks. The artwork was all Flynn’s and when they get the funds to put it into real stained glass that will also be the work of Flynn. Not just a designer and artist, Flynn has also a deep understanding of the art of making stained glass windows.
It will be quite an improvement on the immense shutters that cover the windows now and make the Lodge look like a building trying to survive an imminent hurricane. “Those dingy old shutters have never been opened since I was raised a Master Mason here 3 ½ years ago”, quips Flynn. “ Let there be light, beautiful light, is our new motto.”
Flynn has been an artist since childhood and has the credentials, the education and the experience to spread his wings now in this new found Brotherhood of Freemasonry.
“I have been artistic ever since I could remember, but when I went to High School at Lexington Christian Academy, my teacher and mentor Chip Vanderbrug really implanted the love of art into my heart. That coupled with another amazing teacher of history, Dr. Watts, I came out of high school loving history and art and eventually went on to get my Bachelors degree from the University of Massachusetts in Fine Art and Graphic Design. While I was in school I loved to study about symbology, numerology and architecture. It became a hobby of mine. In 2006 I studied at the Univeristy of Richmond in Florence, Italy for a summer. While I was studying painting and architecture there I didn’t realize it but I was learning the beginnings of Freemasonry. I learned of the guilds of stone masons who worked together and trusted one another to create the architectural masterpieces of the Renaissance, and how they would learn from the ancients about geometry and science, yet only shared the knowledge with other members of the guild. So when I was approached to design these two windows I was eager to implant the lessons of art history and numerology into them.”
It’s one thing to be an artist but it’s another to have the knowledge of the Craft to actually create something that is relevant. Flynn is not a one dimensional person. He combines a knowledge of history, numerology, religion, ancient symbols and sacred geometry with his art and design. And he has the ability to manufacture art, a person of great creativity who also has the abilities of practical application. How many artist’s do you know who can also make a stained glass window?
Here is how it all came together:
“I was facing two windows, and I knew immediately that I wanted to express the two types of masonry, speculative and operative. The colors used would be Blue for Blue Lodge, Purple for Grand Lodge and incorporate red, historically, the most brilliant, expensive glass color. (due to it being made with gold). The window space was a 108 x 44 rectangle but I knew I wanted to make it an arch. The border of the window would be 3 levels, with 8 medallions in them. 8, numerologically speaking represents eternity (hence, if you take a number 8 and rotate it 90º, it becomes the infinity symbol.)”
“The operative masonry window would be in the north window. It would have the square and compass being illuminated by the light of deity. The compass would have a 24 point star behind it with a circular border consisting of 32 sections. Surrounding would be the icons of the 5 Masonic organizations that have met in the building – York Rite, Scottish Rite, Eastern Star, Rainbow and DeMolay and these would be done in circles with borders that have 32 sections. In the medallions around the border are 8 symbols from the master mason degree.”
“The light shining down has a ratio connected to it. Many people do not know that 3,5 and 7 can be used to make Euclid’s 4th problem. By combining the circles in a particular way, it creates a specific angle that would be used to show the beam of light. I have attached a diagram here that outlines that.”
“Underneath the compass, lies 2 sprigs of acacia, with 32 total leaves.”
“On the bottom, I have placed the 2 columns on each side, with the masters apron, and the unfinished temple below. In the temple, the top, unfinished level lies large blocks. This is historically accurate for the ancient temples and ziggurats of ancient times, large unfinished blocks were placed to hold walls and arches in place before finishing pieces were added for aesthetic values.”
“Another feature I wished to use was the use of linear perspective when drawing the bottom half of the windows. As I mentioned before, in Italy I had studied the Italian architectural wonders of the past. My favorite person who I studied was Filipo Brunelleschi, who arguably started the Renaissance by spending his time observing the works of the ancients and dedicating himself to learning about geometry, physics and math. One of his lesser known contributions to mankind was the discovery of linear perspective, a way of organizing mathematical points on a 2 dimensional plane that mimic 3 dimensional objects. This type of drafting was used to draw the mosaic floor and temple structure. On the bottom, celebrating the two blue lodges that use the temple, have been placed Ancient York No 89 and Rising Sun No 39.”
“The south window’s theme was speculative masonry. The top is nearly identical, with the exception that the square and compass stand alone. Below, I placed the 3 tenants of Freemasonry written in Latin – Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, surrounding figures representing – Faith, Hope and Charity, with charity above all else. Each stand on a pedestal consisting of 3, 5 and 7 steps with the corresponding titles of what they stand for written on them. Above the figures rises an arch with the working tools of Freemasons inside the bricks.”
“The figure of faith, on the left, stands holding her hands clasping a candle. As we learn in the EA history, faith was traditionally represented by two hands joined together. This is my way of incorporating that into the windows. Symbolically speaking, fire or light was a traditional representation of faith going back to times immemorial. Some of the most ancient religious structures in the world such as the tombs of Knowth and Newgrange Ireland were built to channel and deliver light onto the selected few who sought it. Thus, I included the lit candle into the figure of faith. Traditionally, the colors of red and purple were used to symbolize faith.”
“Hope, stands looking up in the traditional pose of hope, with the hand covering the breast. This pose was traditionally used in paintings and other depictions of the Annunciation in Christian art as well as in Greek and Roman art depicting the gods. She stands with her anchor by her side. Along with Masons representing hope with an anchor, the Hebrews and Christians use it as well, based on the book of Hebrews. She stands wearing blue, the color of hope, which was thought to go back to the times of ancient seafarers that would hope for blue skies and easy sailing.”
“Charity stands center, above all others. She is clad in green and brown, the earth colors, which symbolize harvest and plenty. She stands handing out grain from a basket, looking out at the viewer. I wanted it to look like she was challenging us to follow in her footsteps and be as charitable as possible.”
“Finally, on the bottom of the window, the words “Behold how good and pleasant it is for men to dwell together in unity,” one of my favorite lines from ritual.”
This multidimensional, multi talented Mason is already looking ahead to the next project for his Lodge,
multidimensional and multi talented because he is also a student of hieroglyphics. And that expertise will translate into 3 large clay tablets depicting the 3 Degrees in Freemasonry stylized to mimic Egyptian hieroglyphics.
But first he must get the stained glass design made into actual stained glass windows. And that is going to take money.
“This project was an amazing experience to partake in. I have been looking for a way to use my talents for something bigger than myself, and Masonry seems to be giving me the opportunity to do so. I hope I can work with my Lodge for more opportunities to produce artworks that will bring in funds for charity and others. I have many other ideas that I think will help me help Lodges to really make a difference in this world. And hope other Lodges will contact me to do this. I feel it is my civic, Christian and Masonic duty to use my talents to help out as many as I can, and God willing, these windows will be just the beginning of my Masonic journey.”
Are we so intent upon the proper form, the correct procedure, the purity of the Craft, the monopoly of the fraternity disallowing any competition, that we are turning possible members off and losing good candidates?
Here is an essay by a long time Brother we affectionately call Ole Blake. He’s been around awhile. Yet he obviously doesn’t have blinders on or wish to delve into Masonic politics.
If all Brethren are taught the essentials of Masonry, it matters not which Grand Lodges are recognized and which are not. A Mason is admonished to treat all men with the respect due them no matter what the political, religious or race affiliation.
It is only when we try to enforce equality that there is a problem. Equality is a myth, for no men or women are created equal. No matter how great sounding the words there are always some differences in each of us. A man in no way could be equal to a woman because he cannot bear a child. Other differences are vast.
That does eliminate the fact that we should regard each other on the level as benefiting a Mason, and act upon the square in our dealings with each other, for we are all part of the human team. Each of us has a function and that function is neither greater nor lesser than another. The internal engine will not run without a piston of some kind, or without a crankshaft or any other common parts. Humans do not function as well as individuals as they do as a team. We are all part of the human race. Just because we don’t see eye to eye on everything does not create enemies. It would be a boring world if we were all equal with all the same skills and abilities.
So if one Grand Lodge does not recognize another, so be it. That is possibly their loss.
Learning to be a Mason is the best medicine for differences, but just learning what appears on the surface is not enough.
We need to teach true brotherly love and charity and truth. That type of brotherly love does not see boundaries or differences it only sees the person who stands to help or needs help.
When we can learn that, and teach it to our fellow man, our world will be a utopia and life will be wonderful and satisfying. But as long as we argue differences and throw insults at those who do not share our views then we have lost one of the most important teaching of Masonry, that of toleration.
Each of us has a right to be of a different opinion and when we group together with others who share that belief it is not a wrong thing as long as we do not try to force that belief on everyone else who does not share the same brand of thinking. What is wrong is that we have not been teaching the lessons of toleration and respect for other viewpoints. We become selfish and think our way or no way.
A line of poetry an older brother gave me 30 years ago is as valid today as it was in first year of light, “If every man was a Mason, and every Mason walked his mile, there would be peace in every nation and life would be worthwhile”
Are we walking our mile when we clamor to be recognized, when we try to make everyone equal? Not really, we are agitating the melting pot. It behooves us to learn all the lessons of Masonry from whatever branch or Grand Lodge to which you belong. I recognize a man for who he is, not because of his preferences.
Doubtless the battle for recognition will continue. The reason it will continue in the long run will be found to be vanity.
One line in the working tools lecture says it better, “among whom no contention should ever exist except that noble contention or rather emulation of who can best work and best agree.”
These are my views, I would not presume to speak for any other brother.