Almost 6 months ago, on the day of the August, 2017, solar eclipse, I launched a project to publish the third book in the Symbolic Lodge series, The Master Mason. And, (almost) to the date of the January, 2018, lunar eclipse, that book went out to its backers and is available now to the public.
The Master Mason, our third step in becoming a Freemason, is out now.
The blurb for the book reads:
The Master Mason: The Reason of Being – A Treatise on the Third Degree of Freemasonry
Third, in the journey of the Symbolic Lodge, The Master Mason is a formal exploration of the symbolism and allegory at work in the third degree of Freemasonry. Through that lens, this work seeks to find the hidden esoteric connections and their connections with the centuries-old ritual that crowns the process of becoming a Freemason. As with its predecessors, The Apprentice and Fellow of the Craft, this work seeks to find parallel with its esoteric siblings, the Golden Dawn, Thelema, numerology, tarot, the Kabbalah and other arcane and occult traditions.
The Master Mason is a work that strives to understand the process of becoming a Freemason.
As many traditions hold the keys to achieve a degree of perfection, within the Masonic tradition we are shown this path through the becoming of a master. Truly, this degree opens as a mystery, and concludes on another, illuminating a path towards perfection and purpose.
You can find the book online at Amazon and other select sellers. Plus, if you’re a collector, there are a small number of special offers of The Master Mason available for a limited time including signed editions, very limited edition prints, and a collector coin — all of which you can find here.
This article is one in a series exploring some of the ‘iconic’ notions of Masonic conspiracy theories.
As a Mason, there’s nothing better than a plausible conspiracy theory. However, one that makes even less sense now than it did a few centuries ago. This conspiracy says that the Earth is flat as a pancake and, for the really dark and mysterious, that it’s been one of the many attempts made by Freemasons to stifle intellectual progress and ignore scientific proof that says otherwise. So, with this in mind, let’s explore the conspiracy that says the Freemasons are behind Flat Earth Theory.
The Flying Pancake
Freemasons cooked this one up some time ago. The argument is that, since the Earth is flat, the place we call home is in fact the shape of an average pancake. If you were to fling that pancake across a room, you would be closely replicating the orbit of the Flat Earth which would account for tidal action and all kinds of weird tilting activity on the planet.
A flying flat earth pancake would certainly help to explain why rain and snow sometimes comes down sideways as opposed to straight down.
Thanks to the wonderful minds of the wizards of Freemasonry (or is that magicians?), they claim that there is a reason why all of the water in the oceans don’t suddenly fall off the edge of the Flat Earth pancake. That’s because the edge of that pancake is encrusted with ice. The ice is so thick. In fact, that nothing can pass through it and slip off the edges. In other words, the Earth is more or less similar to a raised crust pizza. Just like the thick crust of a pizza keeps your toppings from slopping elsewhere, the crusty ice edge contains all the things on the planet.
The Solar System
By the way, wouldn’t you think that if the Flat Earth Pancake/Rising Crust Pizza was spinning through the air that it would eventually smack into another flat planet going the other direction? Well, the Freemasons have thought of an answer for that. Simply, there is no solar system.
We are the only pancake/pizza planet floating, or spinning, through the universe. In fact, we really aren’t spinning, rather we are, more or less, hovering around a section of space that is just big enough for our flat planet to exist in.
Did Hieronymus Bosch know know something about the Flat Earth when he painted The Garden of Earthly Delights tryptic exterior?
Hollywood Science Fiction Is Fake
Spoiler Alert! Movies produced in Hollywood that hint at anything related to life outside of the tiny atmosphere our flat pancake/rising crust Earth is hovering inside is straight up bunk. We know this because Freemasons created the sci-fi genre to entertain the masses and to make us all feel insignificant in a ginormous universe that does not exist outside of the imagination of Hollywood. The same goes for the small screen, too. Star Trek is a fine example. Why was it that each ‘foreign’ land that the Enterprise explored had gravity, people who resembled humans — most of whom could speak and understand English and oddly enough looked like an Earth landscape? Simple. Because none of it is real.
NASA is in On It
It really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see through this one (pun intended). All the work put into creating the fake solar system and the equally fake landings on the Moon and other space exploration is part of the façade.
If the Earth is like a pancake, why do we see pictures and video of other planets that don’t look like our flat one? That’s because the top astronauts and scientific officials at NASA are all deeply involved in Freemasonry. Their goal is to keep us thinking that there is more out there and, by giving us round looking objects to gaze at with wonder, we grow to appreciate our flat pancake we call home just a bit more. Don’t even get me started on the fake Space Shuttle.
The word ‘flat’ has a secret meaning to Freemasons.
It’s sort of a secret code word, you know, part of the ever-growing list of secrets that include special handshakes, phrases, riddles, symbols and games used to identify one Freemason from another. F.L.A.T. stands for “Freemasons Live Above the Rest of You.” Admittedly, Freemasons are supposed to be brilliant but Mensa intelligence may not be part of that package. Otherwise the statement would really read F.L.A.T.R.O.Y.
One place where Freemasonry has gained its best foothold is in the education system. With a particular focus on Earth Sciences, have you ever wondered why maps of the world are flat? That’s not because it makes them easier to draw on. It’s because Masonic teachers in your educational past were slowly planting the seeds of doubt into your young and impressionable minds. Sure, there were globes present in the classroom, but that was just to satisfy the non-believers. Take a look at any published atlas, road map or tourist street map — They’re all flat.
Sure, if you can ever figure out how to fold them back up you may sense why flat maps work so well in keeping the theory alive.
The Flat Earth – Theory or Reality?
Well, there you have it. The flying pancake/rising crust pizza of a planet of ours could very well be flat. We’re just not all that interested in racing off to the ice edge to find out for sure. So, we’ll just accept the things we have learned and dream about the possibility that Freemasonry has screwed it up from the start in an attempt to dumb us down and take over the world. The entire flat world. We can’t really explain sideways snow or rain nor can we say for sure whether there are other planets as flat or round as we’ve seen pictures because we really only have pictures and video to go by. CGI may have been invented by Freemasons in order to solidify the Flat Earth Theory. We’d like to think of our planet as a round marble spinning around other, brighter space marbles but the pizza analogy keeps grabbing our attention. Especially the rising crust part. Maybe Freemasons cooked that up idea to distract us with a tasty food example to keep us off their trail.
Are Freemasons behind The Flat Earth Theory?
To say there is a Flat Earth Theory to begin with is an absurd enough notion. To suggest the Freemasons are behind the Flat Earth takes things down that conspiratorial rabbit hole of suspended belief in reality. The earth isn’t flat. Freemasonry isn’t hiding that it is. Freemasons celebrate the round globe atop one of its pillars when entering the masonic lodge (something the ancient world did, too) and utilize the compass (or dividers) as one of its key symbols. If you think the earth is flat, you probably need to get off the internet and spend some time in a text book.
McCabe’s longtime friend Rich Baxter had this to say:
Mike McCabe passed away today on March 13, 2018, he was one of my best friends for over 30 years. In our early friendship he took me up to the Grand Lodge in North Jersey for a ceremony – he wanted me to consider joining the Masonic Lodge. I never did join but I always knew that Mike was of the highest standard that a Mason could be, he lived and breathed the Masonic traditions and embraced them. When he saw wrong with this lodge that had shady dealings going on, he reported it. That’s the way Mike was, an honorable man who had character beyond belief. He held himself to a high standard and expected that of others in the Masonic Brotherhood. To be thrown out of the Masonic Lodge was something I never expected that other Masons could get away with. They may have done this to him but I believe the bad karma will eventually come back on them- the cowardice and malice they showed Mike is yet an example that evil and corruption exists in the least expected places. No, the Lodge never voted Mike McCabe back in, but he will always be a good standing Mason and person in my eyes and in the eyes of many who knew him. God bless, Mike, Rest in Peace, my brother.
McCabe was expelled from the Grand Lodge of New Jersey on very minor infractions that did not live up to the severity of unmasonic conduct. He also wrote an expose of his Grand Lodge for pulling the charter of his Lodge, Trimble Lodge, after a vote did not go the way the Grand Master wanted. McCabe claimed that the Grand Lodge confiscated the well-endowed funds of Trimble Lodge to bolster its own shortcomings.
McCabe sought a new trial and/or reinstatement claiming the Grand Lodge did not follow its own Constitution, By-Laws and rules and regulations. He never received one, but he never lost his faith in the Craft which he served so well. His many accomplishments in Freemasonry will live on forever and his legacy as a Freemason will shine brightly as a path to emulate.
” I would like to leave you with this thought: The tide recedes, but leaves behind bright seashells, on the sand. The sun goes down, but gentle warmth still lingers on the land. The music stops, and yet — it echoes on in sweet refrains. For every joy that passes, something beautiful remains.” (quoted from here).
Freemasonry, in many cases, is now in the hands of Millennial Masons and Millennial Masons are not settling for “this is the way we have always done it.”
Last month (February 2108) we featured the interview of Brother Rhit Moore – HERE. Brother Moore, barely 40 years old, told us that Millennials in Freemasonry seek value and that they are seeking something MORE. In their pursuit of something more with a value the worst thing you can do is waste their time, he says. Brother Moore also gave us what his Lodge has done to become vibrant, successful and growing.
This month we feature another Millennial Mason, 34-year-old Brother Justin Jones. Brother Jones tells us it doesn’t have to be this way. He tells us that he entered Freemasonry with high expectations into a Lodge where both his Grandfather and Father still belong. But after completing his Master’s work he left Freemasonry in disillusionment. Only by the constant urging of his father did he return.
You might remember if you followed Brother Moore’s story, that he too left Freemasonry only to return at the urging of his father. In Brother Moore’s case, he returned to be inspired by the work, and in Brother Jone’s case he returned to be inspired by the writings of many like-minded Masons who had traveled his journey, especially the publication Laudable Pursuit. He became a sponge for the writings of those who showed the way to Masonic improvement.
Both these Millennial Masons talk about the disconnect with the way Lodges were run by Masons their grandfather’s age. Youth, by nature, has vigor and drive to set the world on fire and Age tends to say – been there done that and let’s not rock the boat but keep doing things the way we have always done them. This is a natural clash. The older generation is resistant to change. However, change is life, and he who desires to freeze the world in its present state forever will soon find himself alone and cut off from the rest of the world.
This Masonic withdrawal from the world and its change are what is primarily responsible for the dwindling number of Masons in the USA. It leads to Lodges that Jones tells us really don’t do anything. They don’t want to do anything. They gather for boring business meetings and the fellowship of coffee and stale donuts after which they leave as fast as they can. Or they turn themselves into a Service Club financed by fundraisers to keep dues low. Instead of concentrating on how to make good men better they become the servant of the profane.
Jones tells us this about Masons from years gone by:
“When we volunteered our time we didn’t do it in our aprons. We didn’t wear our jewels to the city council meeting, and we didn’t pass out petitions at the church potluck. Still, people knew these men were Freemasons, and it was witnessing these community leaders embody the noble tenants of our fraternity that often compelled many to turn in their petitions.”
Into that milieu stormed Brother Justin Jones.
Once his eyes were opened to the possibilities of what a Masonic Lodge could be, he has not stopped in his quest to inform any and all who will listen that it doesn’t have to be this way.
In his Blog post “The Lesson Of The Garden Club” and his video “Why I left Freemasonry” we can see the frustrations of the Millennial Mason and why many leave as fast as they are initiated. In his three-part Blog series on Lodge Culture, he lays out how to change the deadly spiral Freemasonry finds itself in. He talks about Lodge Mission Statements, vision, and goals. He explains the difference between a Lodge’s Climate and a Lodge’s Culture and recounts the experience in his first Lodge where as Master he changed the Climate but not the Culture. Jones is a firm believer in continuous improvement that a Lodge must continually reassess where it is going and what it is accomplishing.
He tells us,
“Continuous improvement requires buy-in from the majority of stakeholders, a goal to strive for, and a way to measure progress. In our organization we often see leaders making important decisions with no buy-in from the membership and goals are often general or non-existent”
Some of the titles from Jones’ other Blog posts will give you an idea of where his thoughts are:
The Chamber of Refraction
Dues That Still Don’t
Beginning With The End In Mind
Masonic Improvement: Creating A Vision and Goals
The Progressive Line, How It Can Improve Your Masonic Lodge (Or Not)
Millenial Apprentices: The Next Revolution In Freemasonry by Samuel Friedman
Simple Concepts That Will Improve Your Masonic Lodge
2 Thoughts On Continuous Masonic Improvement
The Importance Of Having A “Why” For Freemasons and Masonic Lodges
A Look At The Past: The Lost Art of Masonic Retention
Jones is not just influenced by Masonic writers. Stephen Covey inspires him. And he recently posted these thoughts on his Facebook page:
“The harder we have to struggle for something, the more precious it becomes.
Somehow, in sacrificing, we prove to ourselves that what we’re seeking is valuable. This holds true when we’re pursuing membership.
Sacrifice locks commitment. As people strive to make it through rigorous selection standards and work to prove their worthiness, they persuade themselves that being a part of the group matters.
Initiation rites – like high walls and narrow gates of entry – build commitment to the group through making acceptance hard to come by.
Being allowed to join becomes something special. An achievement. A privilege. And it creates a sense of exclusiveness.
Belonging doesn’t count much if almost anybody can drift in or drift out of your group at will. If it’s easy to join up, then leave and return, only to leave again, commitment can be hard to find. Initiation rites also create a common bond of experience that unites all who make it through the ordeal. A strong sense of “we-ness” comes from having gone through a common struggle. This identification with the group feeds commitment.
Finally, stiff criteria for admission cause the weak-hearted to de-select themselves. They opt out after weighing the costs. For them, the rights of membership aren’t worth going through the rites of Initiation.
People with low commitment never get inside.
The greater the personal investment in getting accepted, the more one builds a stake in the organization. This means you should make membership a big deal. Let people pay a price to join.
That guarantees commitment at the outset, and also makes it easier to build commitment later on.
Make membership hard to come by, and commitment comes naturally.”
— Price Pritchett
Firing Up Commitment For Organizational Change (Pritchett & Hull Associates, 1994)
Is it dying? How many candidates have you raised in the last year? Have you analyzed what you are doing wrong and what you are doing right?
How is your retention? Do you raise Brothers that never come back? Or are they gone after about three months?
Are you raising Masons that shouldn’t be there just because you hastily gave them a petition? Are you raising Masons who are applying before they are ready to accept what it means to be a Mason? Are you raising Masons that do not fit into the peace and harmony of your Lodge? Do you have a really good Investigating-Petitioning process that screens out those that won’t fit and those who will quit?
Do you have a good mentoring system, not only for those who are going through the degrees but Master Masons in their first year and beyond if needed?
Brother Rhit Moore
Meet Brother Rhit Moore who suffered through three meltdowns of his Lodge before he got wise. Brother Moore will explain to you what he and other committed members of his Lodge implemented the fourth time around to create a successful Lodge. He will explain how his Lodge raises 20 to 40 new Master Masons every year who stay.
Brother Moore doesn’t have a magic wand. He learned what needed to be done the hard way. But he and other members of Fort Worth Lodge learned from their mistakes and kept on trying. Now they have a system that works for them and Fort Worth Lodge is in a new renaissance.
Perhaps you remember from previous articles Sister R. Lucille Samuel, Grand Princess Captain of the Lone Star Grand Guild, Heroines of the Templars Crusade of Texas, PHA Texas. Well, Sister Samuel has moved on to found the Margaret A. McDow Grand Court, Ladies Of The Circle Of Perfection, Texas PHA. In her new position, she serves as Royal Grand Perfect Matron.
As The 1st Royal Grand Perfect Matron, she is responsible for chartering 7 LOCOP Courts in the cities of El Paso, San Antonio, Ft Worth, Houston, Dallas, Killeen, and Austin.
I have been republishing Sister Samuel’s annual Allocutions for a while now. She always has such insight into leadership.
This time Sister Samuel told her Order that Leaders have a Vision and so should we all. They don’t just see, they have a plan. They have a map. They have a goal.
Don’t get lost. Don’t get off track. The road ahead may be rocky and full of pitfalls sometimes so know who and what you can depend on to implement your vision.
Never look back. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ~ Carl Jung
“A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.” ~ Ralph Lauren
“When you have a vision, you make believers out of dreamers.” ~ Frederic L. Milliken
”Where there is no vision the people perish.” ~ Proverbs 29:18
In the long run men hit only what they aim at. ~ Henry David Thoreau
June 17, 2017 Left – RM Crystal W. Brown, Royal Grand Perfect Matron of Tennessee presents to L. Lucille Samuel – Right-the charter for Margaret A. McDow Court
June 17, 2017 Left – RM Crystal W. Brown, Royal Grand Perfect Matron of Tennessee presents to L. Lucille Samuel – Right-the charter for Margaret A. McDow Court
SPARE WHEEL OR STEERING WHEEL!
Margaret A. Macdow Grand Court
R. Lucille Samuel
Royal Grand Perfect Matron
Psalms 37:5 – Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
Have you ever been driving along and all of a sudden your tire goes flat? Hopefully you were able to pull over on the side of the road in a safe manner without any accidents or injuries. So either you call for Roadside Assistance or if you are mechanically inclined you change your tire with the spare in your trunk or under your vehicle. Of course you expect the tire to be full of air and ready for use. You depend on it.
Many times in life we depend on someone or something like that spare tire. The problem often times is that you only use that spare wheel when you are in trouble or need assistance. Do you ever check that wheel to ensure it is ready or serviced? Do you even know where that spare wheel is located? How many of us depend on prayer when you need a spare? You never pray or pick up the Bible until you need help. I am not saying that any of us are perfect and we should live in church. Church is not where prayer is it is in your heart. Such as friendship. Some of us claim to be our brother and sister’s keeper. How often do you converse with them? How often do you pick up the phone or send a message just to check on them. Not just when they are sick or in need but just to say hello. But when you need that spare wheel you expect them to jump when you call. Have you ever wondered why the windshield of a car is so large and the rear view mirror is so small? Our past is not as important as our future so you should focus on looking forward and not behind you.
You have to remember although that spare tire is not used often it is needed. Value your close friends and treat them with kindness because all things in life are temporary. Just because your life is going well remember you will have speed bumps along the way. Friendships can end like the blowout of a tire. Remember God determines who walks into your life. It’s up to you to let them stay or walk away.
The steering wheel directs our path in life. It is our navigation and allows us to avoid danger in our paths. You need both hands at all times. If you remove your hands you lose control. Sometimes temptations along the way grab our attention and we tend to swerve on the road. We must stay focused to reach our destinations. Many of us rely on the GPS System to direct us. We trust this system to get us where we need to be. Sometimes you may be in an area where the GPS system does not work and your signal is lost. If you are unfamiliar with the area you are lost.
Don’t allow this to happen to you in the Masonic Organization. I was once told the only thing worse that than losing your eye sight is your vision. We can become complacent and lose all sight of what is important. If you run into a wall don’t give up figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it. As a leader you must keep both hands on the steering wheel and navigate the Order. When you lose your vision it is time for a new Driver. You will never have passengers if you can’t control the wheel.
The task of a leader is to get your people from where they are to where they have not been.
In closing I ask that we all remember “The easiest thing to be in the world is YOU. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don’t allow them to put you in that position
BRYCE ON FREEMASONRY Can an old dog learn new tricks?
Freemasons have always been proud to boast, “We’re the original fraternity,” an acknowledgement of our roots in antiquity. Since then, many other fraternities have emerged, particularly in the nineteenth century, many of which are based on Masonic customs. Aside from college fraternities, there are the Eagles, the Elks, the Lions, the Moose, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), even the VFW shows signs of fraternal relations. These organizations may appear to be relative “upstarts” when compared to our ancient fraternity, but can they teach us anything?
As in many North America jurisdictions, Florida Freemasons are barred from enjoying alcohol in the Lodge as well as games of chance. Whenever such topics arise at a Grand Communications, the proposer is shouted down and admonished in a derogatory manner, “Why don’t you go and join someone else?” Well, I finally did just that, joined another fraternal order who allowed alcohol and games of chance in the Lodge. The identity of this particular order is immaterial for the purposes of this paper, and I suspect most are pretty much the same. I certainly haven’t turned my back on Freemasonry, but after over twenty years of watching repetition, I felt it was time to relax and enjoy the company of others over a quiet drink.
I joined the new “Order” recently as they had built a new lodge building near me and I was warmly received by the members when I requested information. As I first toured the facilities, I noted their clean and well stocked bar offering a wide variety of drinks and twelve taps for various draught beers. There were also some vending games of chance available if a member was so inclined. When I saw this, I thought back to a time when Masons argued over the virtues of alcohol and games in Lodge and why there was a concerted effort to prohibit it. Personally, I suspected the Shrine didn’t want the Craft Lodges to have it as it would represent a competitor to their venue. Nevertheless…
I found the Order’s dues and initiation fees to be affordable, much more so than any Masonic Lodge in my area. This was likely due to the revenues generated from alcohol, games, and renting of facilities. In other words, membership in the Order was not a financial burden as found in many Masonic Lodges today.
The application process and initiation ceremony were highly compatible to that found in Freemasonry. This led me to suspect such orders are based on Freemasonry as the comparisons were uncanny. For example, on the Order’s application, they claimed to be looking for men (and women) of good moral character; you couldn’t join unless you believed in the existence of a Supreme Being, were of 21 years of age or older, not connected in any way to the Communist Party, did not believe in or advocate the overthrow of the government of this country by force or violence, nor was a convicted felon or registered sex offender. A criminal background check is performed on each candidate, who is also investigated by committee. Sound familiar?
The Order also donates millions of dollars to charity, a living community village (Home) is available for seniors, all of which are also familiar to Freemasons. Beyond this though, the Order offers discounts on insurance, travel, office supplies, and more. In other words, membership has its privileges. The Order is open to both men and women, which would be alarming to most Masons, and there are no racial restrictions; e.g., no “Prince” Orders.
The first year’s membership is free for members of the military, law enforcement, and first responders, both current and retired (veterans). I thought this was a brilliant maneuver as it encourages membership and attracts the type of people they want to join their ranks. Freemasonry would be wise to study this further.
In meetings, the Order has jewels for the officers to wear. There are also do-guards and signs to observe. The obligation (oath) is reminiscent of that offered by Freemasonry along with a brief lecture to explain member responsibilities. Interestingly, I observed our initiation could be viewed by the outside world through the windows in the room. So much for being a “secret” society.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the Order and Freemasonry resides in its Constitution, a copy of which is provided to members following initiation. Whereas Freemasonry is managed on a state by state basis (or by province or territory in Canada), the Order is run on an international basis from a single headquarters. This simplifies standards and promotes consistency between Lodges. It also means the government of the Order is flatter and more flexible to implement change.
Grand Masonic Lodges were first established in the early 1700’s, way before the advent of the U.S. Constitution. Consequently, the government of the fraternity is essentially based on the monarchy model. However, as these other orders were introduced in the United States during the late 1800’s, they tend to adhere to the concept of three separate but equal branches of government; e.g., executive, legislative, and judicial. Such an approach prohibits one person from having ultimate authority in interpreting the laws, rules and regulations which may vary depending on who is in office. It also causes a legislative body to be formed from the current and past presidents of the Orders.
I am certainly not suggesting one fraternal group is better than another; each has its own distinct set of interests and method of implementation. However, one could certainly learn from the others. For example, what the Order lacks in terms of decorum, they make up for in socialization. Conversely, what Freemasons lack in socialization, they make up for in decorum. Freemasons possess a stronger sense of history, and attention to detail in its ceremonies, thereby attempting to teach character, e.g., morality, love of God and country, honor, sacrifice, etc. By doing so they are trying to assist their members in the building of character. The other orders are much less formal, but still endeavor to promote character and Brotherhood through the help and society of others.
In contrast, the Order has been successful in:
Generating money from alcoholic libations with no adverse effects (swearing, fighting and intemperance are not tolerated and may result in penalties or suspensions for members). Further, rooms can be rented for parties and special events.
Negotiating benefits for its members, such as providing discounts on insurance, travel, office supplies, etc.
attracting new members with the type of character they desire, both men and women.
One could argue Freemasonry has slowly been evolving from a true fraternity to just another men’s club. They may be more solemn in their ceremonies, but surely they are not naive to believe they have a monopoly on the concept of brotherhood.
When I recently joined the Order, my initiation class consisted of 22 people, including both men and women, which is more than double what a single Masonic Lodge in my area may get in a single year. Two weeks earlier, another 22 people were initiated, and 60 people joined in December. Not surprising, the Order is financially sound, their activities are booming, their future looks rosy, and everyone appears to be happy.
Freemasonry is missing the boat if they dismiss the other orders out of hand. They are gaining in stature while the Masons are declining. I am not suggesting the Masons totally abdicate their current mission, but there is no denying their membership has been diminishing at an alarming rate. Something needs to change before the Lodges close their doors permanently. Perhaps a new hybrid organization needs to be conceived, whereby alcohol and games of chance are allowed following a meeting or degree, that the Grand Lodge seeks supplemental benefits for its membership, or that they also try to attract the right types of people to their organization. If the other orders can do it, why not the Masons?
Freemasonry may be much older, but these younger fraternities have grown up and appear to be prospering. What do they know that we do not? I for one, am not too shy to ask. In the meantime, more people are gravitating to these new orders while turning their backs on Freemasonry. Perhaps this is a sign of our changing social values. Let us not close our eyes, ears, and mouths and hope nobody notices. It’s much too late for that.
Keep the Faith!
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I am often asked, not only by the public at large but even by some Masons, how does Masonry make good men better? A large proportion of Masons, after a lot of errs and ahs, will finally come out with something like, “Well we do a lot of charity.” A more sophisticated answer would be that Masonry has a peculiar system of morality which, if followed, cannot help but make good men better.
The problem is that after being raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason many Brothers are left on their own to figure out how to exactly accomplish this improvement.
Has anybody set up a school to teach Masons on how to apply the virtues of Masonry to their daily lives? Maybe sporadically here and there, there is such instruction but nothing large enough or popular enough to be noticed by the majority of Masons on a nationwide basis.
Originally starting out as contemplative exercises or practices like prayer, meditation, breath work, chanting, and visualization, Dunning expanded his concept into a primer for those seeking to utilize Masonic symbolism and teachings in a way that is practical, accessible, inspiring, and profoundly transformative.
CONTEMPLATIVE MASONRY is a much-needed resource for Masons seeking to undertake the challenging and rewarding work of deep self-knowledge and self-improvement. Dunning provides Masons with a unique system of practices derived directly from the Degrees of Craft Masonry, without reliance upon other religious, spiritual, or esoteric traditions. He also shares the valuable wisdom and insights that come from decades of personal experience with contemplative practices.
Chuck Dunning has been a Master Mason since 1988, and his mother lodge is Haltom City-Riverside #1331, in Haltom City, Texas. He is also a member of Albert Pike #162 in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and also belongs to a number of Masonic research societies. In the Scottish Rite, Chuck is a Knight Commander of the Court of Honor, Director of Education for the Guthrie Valley in Oklahoma, and a Class Director for the Fort Worth Valley
in Texas. In 2012 he became the founding Superintendent of the Academy of Reflection, which is a chartered organization for Scottish Rite Masons wanting to integrate contemplative practice with their Masonic experience.
Chuck has been engaged in various forms of contemplative practice for over three decades. In his career in higher education and mental health, in
Masonry, and with other groups and individuals, he facilitates and teaches mindfulness, meditation, and imagery to enhance peoples’ experiences of life in many ways. Chuck holds a master’s degree in counselor education and a bachelor’s degree in psychology, both from the University of North Texas.
Dunning tells us that Masonic ritual steers Masons into becoming contemplative.
He says early on in the book:
“Our tradition tells us that Speculative Masonry ‘leads the contemplative to view with reverence and admiration the glorious works of creation, and inspires him with the most exalted ideas of the perfections of his Divine Creator.’ It should be recognized that this passage distinguishes the contemplative Mason as one who is guided by the Craft to be more reverent, admiring, and inspired than one might otherwise be.”
“A true contemplative uses the faculties of the psyche as a collection of fine working tools. One learns to employ those tools with the proper measures of force and precision in order to more fully reveal the wisdom, strength, and beauty in whatever matter is chosen. One thus makes of oneself a true philosopher, a literal ‘lover of wisdom.’”
Later he goes on to explain the importance of contemplative practice in making good men better.
“There can be no doubt that a comprehensive and functional psychology is inherent to Masonry. We have seen that our tradition provides us with profound clues and useful information about the structure, dynamics, and health of the psyche, as well as guidelines for holistic maturation and rich rewarding relationships. All of this has been to expand upon the realization that Masonry’s greatest purpose is to assist its members in transforming their lives into wiser, stronger, and more beautiful reflections of the Great Architect’s designs for the human soul and society.”
Echoing my earlier complaint, and I am not the only one Coach John Nagy concurs, that Freemasonic Institutions need to take a bigger part in the life application of its virtues and peculiar system of morality, Dunning has this to say:
“It is one thing to grasp the philosophical basis of an esoteric approach to Masonry, but as with other esoteric pursuits, there should also be a practical dimension. In other words, in order to fully engage Masonic esotericism, we should include practices that are especially fitting in the Masonic milieu. It is therefore interesting, and perhaps frustrating to some of us, that our tradition encourages such things without offering much explicit technical guidance. This fact has undoubtedly contributed to the somewhat popular notion that Masonry is meant to lead to another system of esoteric thought and practice. However, it can be argued that there are elements of our ritual and its teachings that strongly suggest actual practices which require no special knowledge of other traditions or specific systems.”
Half of the book is devoted to the philosophical foundation for contemplative Masonry and the other half is actual contemplative exercises Masons can perform. These exercises are the basis for the life application of Masonry, that sought-after explicit technical guidance. And they are transformative.
But what really sent me into contemplative bliss was the conclusion that Dunning comes to. That is the answer to the question where does this all lead. What will be the end result of this transformation?
It all starts with one of the best quotes from the book:
“It is the position of this book that the Lost Word is indeed the deepest and most profound mystery of the Masonic art, as well as the greatest wage of a Master Mason.”
And then the conclusion:
“Through the practice of Freemasonry, and particularly through a contemplative practice of Freemasonry, we can become more aware of the presence of the Divine within ourselves, and in our lives and around us and become a more capable servant because of that awareness.”
“The most important way that this manifests in the life of a Mason is in how loving he becomes once he recognizes that the Divine is in himself, the Divine is all around him, that the Divine is in his Brothers, that the Divine is in every human being. That is one of the most powerful catalysts for a life transforming experience of love.”
“Love is at once the prime motive force, the most desirable sentiment the most admirable action, and the worthiest product of our work.”
Chuck Dunning founded the Academy of Reflection within the Scottish Rite and is its first leader. This newest addition to Scottish Rite practice was
chartered by the Guthrie Valley in Oklahoma and is now spreading to other Valleys throughout the United States. It is a place for the formal practice of contemplative Masonry.
In 1994 Wor. Fran Foster attended a very special event in his community. The Mt. Rushmore flag came to town, and many scouts, Masons, community leaders and just plain people gathered to celebrate the occasion and help raise and lower the flag. Also, there to record the occasion was local cable TV, Continental Cable.
Foster took a moment to ask Continental Cable Program Director Paul Joia if he could get air time for one Masonic show. Joia said I will do you one step better; I will give you a permanent time slot if you can put together a regular show.
So was born “What It Means To Be A Mason,” recorded at the East Bridgewater – Whitman Cable TV studio in Southeastern Massachusetts. Many Masons from the Brocton Masonic District came to help produce this show under the supervision of Program Director Joia who taught us all how to operate all the equipment, especially the cameras.
Each show different Brothers would step up to the plate to produce this show. For the first two shows, Foster asked Wor. Richard Cusick, Master of Paul Revere Lodge, and Wor. Frederic Milliken, Master of Plymouth Lodge, to be the guests and talk about what it means to be a Mason. After that Foster got guests from every Masonic Body, Masonic Library, The Massachusetts Grand Lodge, and even three Grand Masters.
Foster produced 28 What It Means To Be A Mason Cable TV shows. Although now over 20 years old they are timeless and the quality excellent.
The show selected above is an in-depth look at the Massachusetts Masonic Child Identification Program (CHIP). When the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts added tooth imprints to its Child Identification program, it produced the premiere child identification inside and outside of law enforcement in the state. Now it had a video, fingerprints, tooth imprint and DNA for total ID coverage. This is still the number one community outreach program of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
These Masonic TV shows were produced from 1994-1998 and include a number of different topics chosen to educate the general public.
Wor. Fran Foster was a pioneer in the field of Masonic TV and he is the model for those of us who are in the Masonic video business today. It is only fitting and proper that he should now receive the national recognition which he so richly deserves.