This action taken by Shrine International was not made in a vacuum. You will remember that The Grand Master of Arkansas, as the result of a petty squabble, banned all Masons from being Shrine members.
“As a result of all of the foregoing the Grand Master adopted his “scorched earth” policy against Shriners in Arkansas by issuing an edict that anyone who remained a Shriner in Arkansas had to self-expel himself from Masonry by December 15, 2012 or he, without any trial, would expel them from Masonry. Further he would not allow any Masonic lodge to issue a demit from Masonry to any Shriner (rightly fearing that such Masons would join Masonic lodges in other states). This is Masonry as it is presently practiced in the Grand Lodge of Arkansas.”– Theodore Corsones
In order to survive the two Shrine Temples in Arkansas had to take on additional members and they, by virtue of the Grand Master’s edict, could not be Masons. Now this ruling by the Shrine only applies to Arkansas, no other states, and is the direct result of the actions of a rogue Grand Lodge purging its jurisdiction from all who will not submit to tyrannical rule.
Previous articles about this subject on this website by the Beehive can be accessed HERE, HERE and HERE.
The following is a letter issued by Imperial Potentate Alan Madsen
Imperial representatives of Shriners International voted to make a change to its articles of incorporation regarding membership at the 139th Imperial Session. The prerequisite requiring that members of Shriners International are first members of Freemasonry (Masons) in good standing has been amended to exclude the requirement for the state of Arkansas.
This legislation was brought forth by the two Shrine temples in Arkansas following the Arkansas Grand Lodge edict last November that would no longer allow anyone to remain an Arkansas Mason AND an Arkansas Shriner. Shriners International has always had a Masonic prerequisite and regrets that the actions of the Arkansas Grand Lodge made the passage of this legislation necessary to preserve the existence of the two Shrine temples in Arkansas.
Shriners International is committed to maintaining open lines of communication with the Grand Lodge of Arkansas to encourage amicable relationships for current and future Masons and Shriners. This change does not affect other Shriners across the country, and the organization remains a fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth. Shriners International’s primary focus continues to be its philanthropic mission to support Shriners Hospitals for Children, a world-renowned health care system with 22 facilities in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Yours in the Faith,
Alan “Al” W. Madsen
A Brother E-Mailed me a response to Greg Stewart’s article on the Mercedes-Benz Super Bowl Ad which I had sent him.
“So we go online and speak out against this atrocity and in doing so we link ourselves to the myth. How many years had masonry survived with this type of public outcry? Unless we begin to teach masons to live the lives taught by our fraternity and stop trying to be a social icon, Masonry will continue to be ridiculed. It is only when you can show that the myth is in fact a myth and that we prove it every day by the way we live our lives, that Freemasonry will regain it honored reputation. The more we bend to clamor in public, the more the critics come after us. If we disregarded the critics they have no one to argue with, thus the argument dies for want of a debate. Sadly you and others do not understand this. But I urge you to really reflect on it. A well spent life is mightier than the sword or any media response.”
I guess I just don’t get it. At least he thinks I just don’t get it. But I would say that he doesn’t get it.
This is the attitude of Freemasons of 50 and 100 years ago – never talk about the fraternity, never mention to anyone that you are even a Freemason. Everything about Freemasonry is secret. Not one word about the Craft should escape a Mason’s lips.
This is one of the reasons Freemasonry missed many good candidates back then. A guy 50 years old would finally say to his buddy, “I have been waiting 20 years for you to invite me to join Freemasonry. How come you never asked me?”
Old time Masons never asked another to join. Those who desired to join Freemasonry had to ask a Mason. Some Masons would demand that they ask three times before they would consider recommending them.
Anti Masons that spread lies about Freemasonry are not to be answered. Leo Taxil’s Masonic hoax, even after he recanted and admitted he made the whole thing up, was still believed by many people because Freemasons never would refute it.
“Turn The Other Cheek Freemasons” do not believe that disputing or refuting lies about the Craft are a productive use of Masonic resources. They do not believe that Masons should stoop to the level of their detractors. Masons are above all that, they say. What Masons need to do is lead by example and all these crazy charges will just die the death of untruth all by themselves.
And problems within the Fraternity, well we don’t talk about them either. The refusal of some Masons to allow African Americans in their Lodges, their constant black balling of any applicant who isn’t Christian, Grand Masters expelling Master Masons without a Masonic Trial, Grand Masters closing Lodges and pulling charters without reason or recourse, are all problems that Brethren must solve without discussing these problems in public. “Airing dirty laundry” is definitely a no-no with “Turn The Other Cheek Freemasons.”
And if these problems emanate from other jurisdictions, well sticking one’s Masonic nose into other people’s business is a double no-no. That’s their business, that’s their problem.
And so stand “The Turn The Other Cheek Freemasons.” Withdraw from society, have nothing to do with it, let people do what they may but Freemasonry will live on, no matter what.
But it won’t. The younger generation will never join an organization that refuses admittance to non Whites and non Christians. It just ain’t going to happen. And who would join an organization that is in league with the Devil? And someday soon Malecraft Freemasonry will have to change its policy on women. The fact is Mainstream Masonry is dying a slow, agonizing death.
THE MERCEDES-BENZ HOAX IS A 21st CENTURY REMAKE OF THE LEO TAXIL HOAX.
Freemasonry was never designed to be a Monastic Brotherhood or a Cloistered Sect. Paul Revere is rolling over in his grave right about now. So is Joseph Warren who died at the battle of Bunker Hill fighting for liberty in America. As a Grand Master he used Freemasons to transmit anti British communications among the Patriots.
Not answering your critics is naïve and very detrimental to your cause. The big lie repeated over and over again without refutation will gradually stick. No one knew this better than Goebbels, Hitler’s Propagandist Minister.
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”- Goebbels
The fact is turning the other cheek doesn’t work. This is the real world where the truth doesn’t always become self evident. Sometimes we must help the truth be known. Failure to do so only empowers our enemies. And the big lie is believed because it must be true if no one will stand up for the truth and dispute it. People interpret silence as acceptance of guilt. If you were unjustly charged with sexually molesting a child, would you remain silent in hopes the truth will win out or would you deny the charges and do everything you could to refute them?
“Turn The Other Cheek Freemasons” are hurting this beloved fraternity and are hastening the demise of the Craft.
I recently received correspondence from old friend, Brother Tim McCurry from Tennessee.
He points out a common problem with Mainstream Lodges. That is that Masonic education equals ritual memorization. But all ritual memorization makes you is a parrot and a parrot doesn’t think it just mimics. Knowledge comes from the art of contemplation that allows us then to internalize that which our senses have encountered.
W. L. Wilmshurst
When a Mason reads Pike, Wilmshurst, Pound, MacKey, Claudy, Butler and others he begins to realize what he has memorized means and how it makes a difference in his life. Thus he has gone from perception to knowledge. When that Mason uses that knowledge to govern his life and make himself a better person he has stepped up from knowledge to wisdom.
The trick is to get Masons to read.
Here is what McCurry had to say:
I watched a most inspiring video last night that was created by a member of the United Grand Lodge of England. Brother Julian Rees has truly inspired me to become a better Mason!
Approximately seven years ago, we had a Worshipful Master sitting in the East who truly and sincerely desired to create more Masonic education within our lodge. Therefore, he first asked for volunteers amongst the Brethren to create ANY small topic concerning a lesson to be learned from Free-masonry. He didn’t place any restrictions on what the Brethren could present; so long as it was something about our rituals, or something that they had learned while being a Mason. I am ashamed to say, that not one Brother ever came to our stated meeting and presented any such lessons. Our poor Worshipful Master ended up having to do this at each of our stated meetings himself.
Sure! We have “Masonic Education.” Many of the Brethren seem to think, that if you can memorize one of the three lectures flawlessly and without error, you have obtained “Masonic Education.” But, my concern is, have we presented enough knowledge to the newly made Mason coming into our ranks? Have we given enough knowledge to that new E.A. to even know what Free-masonry is all about? I don’t think so. No, we impart upon the newly made Mason that he only has three lectures to laboriously memorize as perfectly as he can; but if that new Brother makes a mistake of not “dotting his ‘i’ or crossing his ‘T,’ we strictly enforce the use of such perfection in syntax. Do we explain to him the meaning behind those words? Some would say that we do this with what we call the “Third Section of the Degree.” Here in Tennessee we have the so-called “Stereoptical Lecture” in the First Degree. You know what it is! It is that “so-antiquated slide show” where the pictures look as though they were created way back in the Nineteenth Century. So, we always have a Brother with the “slide clicker,” or the advance button, laboriously spitting out the lecture that accompanies the slide show as though he was reading it from a book. No! As a matter of fact, sometimes the Brother actually does read this lecture out of the book!
But, have we really imparted Masonic Knowledge to that newly made Brethren? Or have we imparted the idea that all you really need to do is laboriously learn the three lectures, pass them on, and become a Master Mason? In essence, are we treating our Masonic ritual as though it were a “Mason’s Mill,” where we pass these young brothers off as soon as we can, and as quickly as we can teach them those three lectures?
Brother Julian Rees inspired me with his words last night! I do not know this Brother. I have never met him. But, his eloquent talk that he gave inspired me to learn more! He taught me, that we as Brothers are on a spiritual journey; that there is more to Masonry than ham sandwiches and coffee. Therefore, I present Brother Rees to you with the hope that he will inspire you with his words as much as he has inspired me. I wish I could present this “little talk” by Brother Rees to the Brethren at my own lodge!
A big factor in this whole Arkansas Shrine affair has been overlooked by many. Potentate Buffington who was expelled from the Grand Lodge of Arkansas was not also expelled from the Shrine BECAUSE HE WAS STILL A MASON. He had dual membership also being a member of the Grand Lodge of Iowa. AND THE GRAND LODGE OF IOWA REFUSED TO EXPEL HIM.
So what do all you legalists have to say now? If Buffington’s own Lodge found that he did nothing wrong, if the Shrine found that he did nothing wrong and if the Grand Master of Iowa found that he had done nothing wrong and refused to expel him, could it be that the Grand Lodge of Arkansas is wrong and out for a vendetta?
Such action or non action by the Grand Lodge of Iowa is setting a precedent. It follows the Grand Lodge of Ohio giving Past Grand Master Frank Haas sanctuary after being expelled from West Virginia. It looks as if Grand Lodges may not always rubber stamp support decisions by other Grand Lodges. The good old boys network is showing some cracks.
More light is shed by a letter from Theodore Corsones, General Counsel Emeritus of Shriners International and Shriners Hospitals for Children and also a Past Grand Master.
“The fault lies with the Grand Lodge of Arkansas not with Shriners International. The Grand Master of Arkansas has adopted a “scorched earth” policy against the Shrine in his Grand jurisdiction because Shriners International will not allow him to decide who should be a Shriner in Arkansas. A summary of the facts are as follows.”
“Potentate Buffington was asked to run for a second term as potentate of Scimitar Shriners – which is lawful under Shrine law. The Grand Master did not want him to do so because he wanted another Noble to have the office.”
“Potentate Buffington left it to the members of the temple to decide and the temple members elected him for a second term.”
“Social Event. Buffington had a Christmas party at a country club. Other parties were occurring at the same time. One of the other parties had a DJ who was playing extremely amplified music. The DJ was asked to lower the volume. He complied. A member of the other party went to Buffington’s party and complained that they had no right to interfere with the other party. Words were exchanged. The country club looked into the matter and found no wrong doing by Buffington. (This was not pleasing to the Grand Master)”
“Masonic Lodge. A complaint was filed in Buffington’s Masonic lodge in Arkansas alleging that Buffington conducted himself improperly at the Christmas party. The lodge investigated the matter and dismissed the complaint alleging no wrong doing by Buffington. (This was not pleasing to the Grand Master).”
“Scimitar Shriners. Buffington’s temple was asked to look into the matter. The temple did, and found no wrong doing by Buffington. (This was not pleasing to the Grand Master.) “
“Grand Lodge of Arkansas. The Grand Master then, without a trial, summarily suspended Buffington from Masonry in Arkansas and told Buffington he could appeal if he wanted to. Buffington did appeal. The Grand Master then selected the three persons who were to decide whether he was right or wrong in suspending Buffington. Needless to say, his three appointees carried out the execution of Buffington as they were expected to do by their appointment. They found Buffington guilty.”
“Shriners International. Shriners International held a hearing at the 2012 annual session at Charlotte, NC as to whether or not Buffington should be expelled from the Shrine because of being expelled from Masonry in South Carolina. A hearing was held and it was determined that Buffington was a member in good standing in Masonry in the Grand Lodge of Iowa and, therefore, he was eligible to remain a Shriner. (This was not pleasing to the Grand Master of Arkansas.)”
“Grand Lodge of Iowa.The Grand Master then asked the Grand Lodge of Iowa to expel Buffington from Masonry because he, the Grand Master of Arkansas, had done so. The Grand Master of Iowa stated that he would investigate the matter. He did conduct an investigation. He then informed the Grand Master of Arkansas that Buffington had done nothing wrong so he would not suspend or expel Buffington from Masonry.”
“As a result of all of the foregoing the Grand Master adopted his “scorched earth” policy against Shriners in Arkansas by issuing an edict that anyone who remained a Shriner in Arkansas had to self-expel himself from Masonry by December 15, 2012 or he, without any trial, would expel them from Masonry. Further he would not allow any Masonic lodge to issue a demit from Masonry to any Shriner (rightly fearing that such Masons would join Masonic lodges in other states). This is Masonry as it is presently practiced in the Grand Lodge of Arkansas.”
“Now, you have the basic facts.”
“I am proud to inform you that Shriners International is blessed to have Alan W. Madsen as its Imperial Potentate during this unprecedented time. He is standing tall for what is right and proper. He will not allow Shriners International nor Shriners Hospitals for Children to be destroyed by the unconscionable acts of those that have lost all common sense and no longer practice fraternal love and amity.”
“If you have any questions, do not hesitate to communicate with me.”
General Counsel Emeritus of Shriners International and Shriners Hospitals for Children.
I know that many of you who read the first article on The Grand Lodge of Arkansas versus The Shrine are looking at what has taken place from a purely legalistic and Constitutional view. If a Master Mason has been expelled from his Grand Lodge and The Shrine refuses to expel him also, then The Shrine is guilty of harboring a non Mason. But this only looks at the actions of one of the two parties, just The Shrine. What if the actions of the Grand Lodge were illegal, unconstitutional and un-Masonic in the first place? Then the first action by the Grand Lodge, if illegal, cannot make the response by The Shrine illegal. I urge all to look at both sides of the question. Perhaps this letter from the Imperial Potentate will help explain the situation and will create better understanding of the position of the Beehive when it talks about rogue Masonry practiced by tyrannical Grand Lodges.
Shriners International Response
By now, each of you have received a letter from the Grand Master of Masons in Arkansas dated November 1, 2012 “justifying” the action he has taken against Masons in the state of Arkansas. I know many of you personally. I respect the offices you hold and your ability to listen to all sides of the issue and to independently and fairly make your own assessments.
I now report to you and present you with the facts as they occurred. My report will be a little lengthy but you are entitled to all the facts.
Floyd R. Buffington (herein “Buffington”), a Master Mason, was elected potentate of Scimitar Shriners for 2010. Under Shrine fraternal law he was eligible to serve a second year as potentate if elected. He chose to seek a second year. This did not meet with unanimous approval. Among those disapproving was a past potentate of Scimitar. This past potentate was supporting and nominating another Brother and Noble for the office of potentate. Efforts were made to dissuade Buffington. He chose to let the membership of Scimitar Shriners decide the issue by their ballot. They did, and chose Buffington as their potentate for a second term.
Buffington invited several of his friends to a dinner at a local country club. This was during the Christmas season and other dinners and parties were being held at the country club on the same evening. In another room there was a party for teens and the music was being provided by a disk jockey. The amplified music was very loud and was disturbing other patrons in the country club. A guest of Buffington met with the DJ and asked him to please lower the volume and then he returned to the Buffington dinner. Shortly thereafter, a mother of one of the teens (who was not a wife of a Mason and who had no Masonic affiliation) became irate at the request to lower the volume and entered the Buffington room. A verbal confrontation took place, i.e., “she said and he said.” The mother then left the Buffington room and returned to the teen party. These events at the country club were not “Masonic” events nor were they “Shrine” events.
Soon thereafter, the past potentate mentioned above communicated his displeasure with the reelection of Buffington and his “conduct” at the country club to the Grand Lodge; and the “conduct” to the directors of the country club.
Country Club Action
The directors of the country club referred the matter to the club’s investigation committee. It reviewed the entire matter and, at the conclusion of its investigation, it determined no wrong doing by persons in attendance that evening. However, a letter of reprimand would be placed in the file of the aforesaid past potentate (who was a member of the country club and who obtained permission for the dinner) as his responsibility of “hosting” the dinner required that he should have been at the country club at the time of the dinner.
Masonic Lodge Action
The disappointed past potentate mentioned above, then filed a complaint of unmasonic conduct in the lodge of Buffington. The investigating committee consisted of three Past Masters – none of whom were Shriners.
I want you to hear their own words.
“The party at the Country Club was neither a Masonic function nor a Shrine function. The party was held after the election of the new potentate for 2011. There was another party going on at the country club for teenagers and the music was intolerably loud. Different people had gone over to the loud party and asked them to please turn the music down a little. A mother of one of the girls attending the party became irate over being asked to turn the music down. She came over to the party of the Shrine people (Floyd’s party) and (she) was using foul language and there was a confrontation of words. No one could say for sure what was said. We are sure that the confrontation was not very pleasant. Under the circumstances we probably would not be very pleasant either.”
The findings of the lodge investigation committee go on to say:
“The charges brought against Floyd Buffington have a threefold problem.
“First, the man bringing the charges was not even there. Anything he knows is hearsay.
“Second, he was backing a man for potentate that lost the election (against Floyd Buffington).”
“Third, this (man who bought the charges against Floyd Buffington) received a reprimand from the Country Club over the confrontation at the Club.
“Brother Buffington was also threatened that charges would be brought against him if he did not resign as Potentate.
“It is plain that Brother Elder (the man who brought the charges against Floyd Buffington) could have underlying motives for preferring charges against the man who won the election (for potentate).
“It is our belief that this is not a Masonic problem but a Shrine problem and the Shrine should handle any problems that occur at their functions.
“It is the committee’s recommendations that (this) lodge take no action on these charges.”
As a result of this report, the Blue Lodge declined to bring any charges against Buffington.
Scimitar Shriners Action
The Shrine looked into the matter and found no cause for disciplinary action against Buffington.
At the 2012 annual session of Shriners International, the Grievances and Appeals Committee reviewed the matter and made to its report to the Representatives stating that Buffington was a member in good standing in a Masonic lodge located outside of Arkansas and that no action against him was warranted. The Representatives, by their unanimous vote, concurred and the matter was concluded.
Grand Lodge of Arkansas Action
The rumblings from Grand Lodge continued and, finally, Buffington received a letter from the Grand Lodge stating that he was suspended from Masonry – “effective immediately” because of the Country Club situation. The suspension letter went on to say:
“While every Freemason has a right to express himself, we must each maintain the responsibility of doing so in a behavior consistent with our Obligation and in a moral and upright manner. You have “allegedly” consistently failed to meet these standards of conduct and proven to be reprehensible in your general behavior and language.” The letter went on to say “you are hereby ordered to remove all Masonic emblems such as rings, lapel buttons, car emblems, etc. immediately upon receipt of this notice or if caught additional charges will be filed.”
So, by virtue of the pen of a Grand Master, without any hearing of any kind, by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, the potentate of Scimitar was suspended from Masonry. The letter went on to inform Buffington that the Grand Lodge would subsequently convene a trial to hear his case. It did not mention, however, that the trial commission would consist of members personally selected by the Grand Master – the same Grand Master who suspended Buffington from the Grand Lodge.
Later, Buffington received a letter from the chairman of the Grand Lodge Trial Commission. He stated that he had been appointed by the Grand Master to serve as chairman of the Grand Lodge Trial Commission to conduct a Masonic trial on charges of unmasonic conduct in that he allegedly used foul and inappropriate language in front of women and children. And that these charges were filed by the Grand Master of Arkansas. So, the Grand Master files the charges and then this same Grand Master appoints the members of the trial commission to try Buffington.
This letter concludes that the “Trial Commission’s proceedings are not governed by Rules of Law, and character witnesses will not be allowed.” The last sentence then foretold of the outcome of the Trial Commission appeal by saying, “Should you choose not to be present at the trial, I have enclosed a “self-expulsion form.
Well, Buffington did attend the hearing before the trial commission with Masonic Bro. Larry Holt as his counsel, knowing full well that the outcome would be in accordance with the wishes of the Grand Master. Buffington presented the facts as they actually occurred and responded to all questions asked. You would be proud of the manner in which he faced this special trial committee of the Grand Master.
It was, of course, to no avail. The members of this special trial commission found in favor of the man who appointed them – the Grand Master.
Since that date, there have been many expulsions of Shriners from Masonry by the Grand Lodge. All the elected officers of the two Shrine temples in Arkansas have been expelled for attending Shrine meetings; or for allowing a fax machine in an office to be used to transmit a message about the treatment of brothers by the Grand Lodge; and others have been forbidden from driving Shrine children to and from Shrine hospitals.
Finally, Bro. Larry Holt who defended Floyd Buffington before the Grand Lodge was expelled. He received a letter to appear at Grand lodge on a date certain at 1:00 p.m. No reason for his attendance was given to him. He arrived at 1:00 p.m. and at 1:05 p.m. he received a letter of expulsion from the Grand Lodge.
Let me read just a few paragraphs of a letter that was written by a worthy and respected Mason about the situation in Arkansas:
“Brethren, I am not here to defend or condemn the Shrine, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, or the Grand Lodge. I am here to defend a Master Mason who is no different than you or me. Is he perfect? No. Has he made mistakes? Yes. But so have you and I. He has done nothing worse than things that you and I have done? Jesus said “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
“Some of you may think that Floyd and I are real close pals. Nothing is farther from the truth. I hardly know Floyd. I have seen him in lodge a few times and we are friends but not close friends. However, I do know when a man is being railroaded. I would defend any Master Mason that is treated in this manner.
“This whole mess stems from disgruntled Shriners who are upset over losing the election for Potentate in 2011. There was a man appointed to the Grand Lodge investigation committee who once told Floyd that if he did not resign as Potentate that charges would be brought against him. I don’t know how he got on the investigation committee, but I know it insured that charges would be brought.
“The man who brought the charges originally is a Shriner and a board member of the Country Club. He was very upset because Floyd won reelection as potentate and that his man lost. So, even though he had arranged the party at the Country Club, he did not attend. When the Shriners would not remove Floyd the only other thing he could do was to personally bring charges against Floyd in his Blue Lodge. When that didn’t work his last alternative was the Grand Lodge.
“The actions at the Country Club are not why this brother is being charged. Floyd was told by the member of the investigation committee that if he would resign as Potentate that charges would not be brought.
“When the matter was sent to his home lodge, I was on the investigation committee along with two other Past Masters. Our findings were the same as the Supreme Shriners findings. There is no wrong doing here and a trial is not warranted. That should have been the end of it.
“Ego, ambition, politics, wealth, domination, power and superiority are the driving forces behind all wars and even disagreements between two people. Master Masters are supposed to be above all of this. Question: What came you here to do? Answer: To learn to subdue my passions and improve myself in Masonry. Are we learning to subdue our passions here? No, we are learning how to dominate others.
“I think that the action taken by the Country Club was all that was necessary. They reprimanded the man who was not there to supervise the party that he set up.” The same man who brought charges against Floyd Buffington.”
My fellow Nobles, according to my best judgment the Grand Lodge has already suspended or expelled numerous Masons who are members of Scimitar and Sahara Shriners. More are in the pipeline. The Grand Lodge has brought these two temples to their knees but they continue to believe in the greater good of human nature. It is no exaggeration to say that you are their last hope.
There are literally hundreds of examples that I can recite to you about the attitude of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas toward Shriners, but I will instead move on.
Here is something to frame and hang on your wall nearby where you can glance at it now and then.
This excerpt is taken from the Address to the brethren given very close to the end of the installation of the officers of a lodge according to the “English” or British Columbia “Canadian Work” It comes from the Masonic Publication “The Educator” but seems to be an adaptation of an original piece of work, The Ideal of a Freemason written by Brother Otto Klotz in the mid 1800s.
According to Cal Christie the piece The Ideal of a Freemason was written by Bro. Otto Klotz and incorporated into the General Charge at Installation of Lodge Officers in the Ontario working.
“Born in Kiel, Holstein Germany, brewer and hotelier, Otto Klotz, immigrated to Preston, Ontario in 1837. Within a year, he was elected to the Board of School Trustees where he served as secretary-treasurer, almost without break, from 1839 to 1891. In 1845 Preston’s school became Ontario’s first “Free” school.
He also served as Chief Engineer of the Preston Fire Brigade in 1850, Justice of the Peace in 1856, and, among other offices, was the President and long time director of the Waterloo County Agricultural Society.
Highly regarded by Ontario Freemasons, Klotz was made an Honourary Past Grand Master in 1885. Excerpts from an article he wrote, published in The Canadian Craftsman on 15 March 1868, entitled The History of Freemasonry have been incorporated into the ritual of most lodges in Canada as The Ideal of a Freemason.
– from the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon:
The Personification Of A Mason
“If you see a man who quietly and modestly moves in the sphere of his life; who, without blemish, fulfills his duty as a man, a subject, a husband and a father; who is pious without hypocrisy, benevolent without ostentation, and aids his fellowman without self-interest; whose heart beats warm for friendship, whose serene mind is open for licensed pleasures, who in vicissitudes does not despair, nor in fortune will be presumptuous, and who will be resolute in the hour of danger.”
“The man who is free from superstition and free from infidelity; who in nature sees the finger of the eternal master; who feels and adores the higher destination of man; to whom faith, hope and charity are not mere words without any meaning; to whom property, any, even life, is not too dear for the protection of the innocence and virtue, and for the defence of truth;”
“The man who towards himself is a severe judge, but who is tolerant with the debilities of his neighbour; who endeavours to oppose errors without arrogance, and to promote intelligence without impatience; who properly understands how to estimate and employ his means; who honours virtue, though it be in the most humble garment, and who does not favour vice though it be clad in purple; and who administers justice to merit whether dwelling in palaces or cottages.”
“The man who, without courting applause, is loved by all noble-minded men, respected by his superiors and revered by his subordinates; the man who never proclaims what he has done, can do, or will do, but where need is, will lay hold with dispassionate courage, circumspect resolution, indefatigable exertion and rare power of mind, and who will not cease until he has accomplished his work, and who then, without pretension, will retire into the multitude because he did the good act, not for himself, but for the cause of good.”
Brother Ernest Borgnine passed away on July 8, 2012 at the age of 95. He was raised in Abingdon Lodge #48, Grand Lodge of Virginia in 1950. Here in his own words are his thoughts on Freemasonry.
WHY I AM A MASON – MOUTH TO EAR
By Brother Ernest Borgnine, 33˚
Member of Abingdon Lodge #48 Virginia USA
Brother Ernest Borgnine
In 1946, I traveled with a friend down to a little town called Abingdon, Virginia, to see what the Barter Theatre had to offer. It offered nothing except hard work and board. My friend, not accepting the work they offered him, stayed one day – I stayed five years. In that time I grew to love the town and all it offered. The people, in particular, were simply marvelous.
Occasionally I would be assigned to go down to the printing shop and get posters made for the upcoming shows at the Barter Theater. One day, in talking to the owner of the print shop, one Elmo Vaughan, I found that he belonged to the local Masonic Lodge, No. 48, in Abingdon. My father was also a Mason and had advanced to the Thirty-second Degree in Scottish Rite Masonry, and I told this to Elmo. He was pleased, and sensing his pleasure, I asked him if maybe I could join. He said nothing, continuing his work, and a short while later, I took my posters and left.
The next time I saw Elmo, I asked him again about joining the Masonic Order – again he said nothing – and again my work took me away. We became good friends and finally one day I passed by and again I asked if I could join the Masons. Instantly, he whipped out an application and I hurriedly filled it out. I didn’t learn ’til later, that in those days, you had to ask three times.
I was thrilled! Not only was I going to be the first actor ever in Lodge No. 48, but I could just imagine my father’s surprise when I would spring the old greetings on him! I wanted only to surprise my Dad – and was I surprised, when after I was made an Entered Apprentice, I found I had to remember everything that happened to me at that event and come back and answer questions about it!
I was assigned to a dear old man of about 92 years of age who, I felt, must have been there when the Lodge first started. He was really of the old school – and he started me out with the foot-to-foot, knee-to-knee and mouth-to-ear routine of teaching.
Besides doing my work for the Barter Theater and a little acting to boot, I was also going to that dear Brother for my work in Masonry. I would tramp all over those lovely hills and work on my “Whence came you’s” and one day – oh, one fine day – I stood foot-to-foot with my Brother and answered every question perfectly! I was ecstatic! I was overjoyed and couldn’t wait to get to Lodge to show my ability as an Entered Apprentice.
After I quieted down, that dear Brother said, “You’ve done fine, but aren’t you really only half started?” I couldn’t believe him! I knew my work; what else was there? He said “Wouldn’t it be better if you knew all the questions too?”
I couldn’t believe my ears! All that hard work and only half done? He gently sat me down foot-to-foot, knee-to-knee and mouth-to-ear and taught me all the questions. That didn’t come easy, because I was almost doing the work by rote, but with careful listening and by really applying myself, I was soon able to deliver all the questions and answers perfectly!
The night that I stood in front of the Lodge and was asked if I were ready to answer the questions of an Entered Apprentice, I respectfully asked if I could do both – questions and answers. I was granted that wish and later found that I was the second man in my Lodge to have ever done so! I am truly proud of that, never having demitted, I am still a member in good standing in Abingdon Lodge No. 48.
I tell this story not for the merit it might gain me, but to tell you that learning the Entered Apprentice obligation taught me a great lesson in acting as well: that before I ever attempt to do a part I should work, rehearse, feel, almost live that part to know what I am talking about!
As I’ve advanced in Masonry, I have found we are an elite group of people who believe in God, country, family and neighbors. We work hard to help our fellowman; and through our charitable work, such as support for the Childhood Language Disorders Centers, we have made it possible to help many children grow Into good American citizens. We should always be proud of the Order we belong to. Where in all the world do you find so many great men and Brothers who have helped the whole wide world? But – we are hiding our light under a bushel basket!
Recently I attended a dinner for a friend, and I ran across a Brother who identified himself in a hushed voice. I asked why he spoke in a whisper when talking about Masonry, and suddenly I realized he wasn’t the only one who had ever done that. I speak out loud about Masonry to everyone! I’m proud of the fact that I belong to an organization that made me a better American, Christian, husband and neighbor; and all it took was a little self-determination by going foot-to-foot, knee-to-knee, and mouth-to-ear!
Today’s guest writer, Canadian Brother Mark Kapitan, comes to us by way of Canadian Brother Wayne Anderson’s weekly Masonic newsletter. Anderson publishes a new or old-from-the-Masters article each week and forwards it to everybody on his list. Topics cover a wide variety of issues and interests but they are always Masonic. If you would like to get on Brother Anderson’s list simply E-Mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org . Word to the wise, the newsletter is dark for the summer, except for this recent very special edition.
The big question is could you, if asked, explain how Freemasonry makes good men better? Or does it? That’s what Kapitan, a relatively new Freemason, wants to find out. And his quest has culminated in a fascinating paper he presented just this week.
A Young Mason’s journey to find, the making of a good man, better.
by Brother Mark Kapitan, F.C.F. Ivy Lodge No. 115 A.F. & A.M. G.R.C.
This talk was delivered at Rideau Lodge No. 460, Seeleys Bay, July 5, 2012
The journey starts for many of us, with the initial contact of someone who will probably be our sponsor. We sit down with a person, whom we have never met before, or may not know very well, and ask questions in order to decide whether a Masonic journey is for us. This is probably one of the most important decisions many of us have to make at this time, do I join, or not, remembering that our choice will be based on an enormous amount, of limited information. I recall sitting with my sponsor for three hours, who, during this time, did a very good job of answering all my questions, and quite frankly, telling me absolutely nothing. But, the one comment he did make that tweaked my interest, was that “Freemasonry takes a good man and makes him better”. Personally, I know as men, we have no problem re-assuring ourselves, that yes, “I” am a good man, however, as many of us can attest, it is not uncommon for our better halves to remind us, there is always room for improvement. Upon hearing this oh so wise reminder in my head, it became one of my reasons, to fill out an application, and join Freemasonry.
After a successful Examination, a report is given and we are balloted on. A letter follows from the Lodge, and if positive, your date of Initiation is chosen. You now ask.. What will be next? Well, the journey continues with the big night, nerves are on high alert, and one questions oneself, “what am I doing here”? Everyone is so friendly, smiling at you, shaking your hand, one could assume the best, or the worst, is about to happen. It is at this time; at least it was for me, that the nerves got a kick in the stomach. One of those new friendly faces informs me that I am going to have to change out of this nice suit I have on, and into an interesting pair, of what is best described, as pyjamas, and even further, that I will be blind folded for a short period of time. As the meeting starts and you are not yet part of it… I am sure some of us have wondered if it would not be wise to change our minds, and leave. After all, I was sure I could get down the stairs and out the door, before the Tyler, who distracted with returning his knocks, could have gotten to his sword. Finally, some of the Brethren come out, one asks some questions, making references to an ancient penalty, which you are not to worry about of course, and this again sends the mind off wondering, what have I gotten myself into? Then that point of no return occurs, you pay the requested monies, and another Brother, with what appears to be a spear, is there to make sure you are properly prepared.
It’s now time! You are walked around a room blindfolded, listening to every word, from all directions, trying to remember, how many did I see come in, are they behind me, in front of me, what’s happening, what will be next? Your head is bursting with so many questions. You repeat something, seal it, and then, the Blind fold is off. You are moved here and there; different Brethren are coming up to you and overwhelming you with parts of the ritual. Finally, at last, it’s done. The Master comes down to the level, congratulates you, which is followed by a round of applause from all those in attendance, and then asks the big question, “Do you have anything you would like to say?” Wow, what a question! Let’s see, I’ve come here dressed up in a suit, paid you 3-4 hundred dollars, was paraded around, dressed in pyjamas no less, initially blind folded, in front of 20+ men I have never met before, been over whelmed with some of these strangers speaking to me individually, have been asked to change back to my suit, only to come back in and be overwhelmed again, the whole time not understanding half of what is said to me, and YOU are wondering if I would have anything to say? Of course I do, what just happened? And, ultimately, how will this make me, a better man?
Many of us continue on our journey to be Passed and Raised to the degree of a Master Mason, proving each of our degrees in front of the members of our lodge, or depending on the evening, perhaps a few more than normal. I have often made this statement with regards to the Degrees: The First, is the one that just happens. I feel that this is the Degree that binds us as Brethren, for here, we all experience the same thing, with pretty much the same results, nervousness and confusion. The Second, is the one you do for yourself, we practice and learn, wanting to do it well; and finally, the Third, this is the one we will never forget.
After this point, when one has been raised, it might be difficult for the Mason to see, just how does Masonry, take me, a good man, and make me, better? And it is here that I began my quest for an answer. From what I thought I could see, my memory was improving through practicing of the Ritual for my degrees, was I on my way to becoming a better man? I was quickly reminded by my lady who was still asking me “did I forget” … it was garbage day, or, that we were going to her mother’s tonight. Improved memory??? I guess she would tell you, I was still suffering from that well known man’s disease called, selective hearing Or listening.
After proving our third, some of us believe we are ready to assume the role of an Officer and most actually do, to the delight of the many recycled Past Masters, however, for many of us, it is difficult to get up and speak in front of others, myself included. I presumed the proving of degrees, would help prepare for the journey through the chairs, allowing us the opportunity to somewhat feel comfortable, speaking in front of others, at least in our own Lodge. Interests are peaked during this time, yet I feel often, are not tapped. For many of us, we want to be more involved, but being new, don’t know how to, are afraid to ask, are simply just assigned ritual, or, may have been deterred with that famous phrase, “Because that’s the way it’s always been”. Looking at my own Masonic journey thus far, you can imagine that I have heard those words on more than just a few occasions. Another of my favourite phrases is, “wait until you have sat in the East”….. I see! It would be preferred that we Rock the boat when we are all a little older, and a lot less stable on our feet. In all fairness though, these two statements are both very viable comments to many. The first shows that we, as a fraternity, have stayed true in the longevity of our institution, and the second would reference obviously, experience and education. Is this how a good man is made better, longevity, experience and education?
I was hoping this wasn’t the full answer, as some things are in fact being done differently and are not the way they were. To start with, many older Brethren have often told me that when they joined the Craft, one would have to wait possibly several years just to get in the Junior Steward’s chair. This would mean that many men would have been 10 plus years a Mason, before they became the Master of the Lodge. During these times, although some Lodges were doing plenty of Degrees, many still found the time to do some form of Masonic Education, and turn outs were good. The time spent waiting to get in the officer line up, combined with the journey itself of ten plus years, would provide one the experience and education needed to make the second statement true, “Wait till you have sat in the East”. One could also add that with reference of the charge “to make a daily advancement in Masonic Knowledge”, many of the older Brethren, in fact, did.
This charge, was it put forth to encourage oneself to go out, find it, to take the initiative, seek knowledge through education, and then, put it in place? We all know this is not always an easy task, as for many of us; we need to see what is missing, in order to desire it, or know it is in fact missing. Was this charge to encourage one to find what makes a good man, better?
In today’s time of hustle and bustle, we find in many Lodges there are few new members joining, or there is a lack of attendance, which is forcing many Past Masters to do the officer line up, in various rolls, several times. In order to resolve the pressure on the PM’s, we find many Masters are being made in a considerably shorter time, in many instances; it is 5 years or less. Leaving us with these questions: are these Brethren good with the ritual? Are they good men? Are they good examples of Masons worthy to project a public image of the Craft? Of course they are!
However, do they have many years of Experience in the Craft? Are they Masonically Educated? Familiar with the Protocol and Etiquette expected through experience and practice? Would sitting in the East, be a sign of Experience and Education, as it once was, in only 5 short years? These last few questions prompt me to ask, did this become the “fast track” to making a good man, better? And, do they, as the older masons did, make that daily advancement in Masonic Knowledge?
Third Degree Masonic Tracing Board
The Answer to the last question I feel is best summed up, this way; when I look at this call to make a daily advancement in Masonic Knowledge, which as stated was done by dedicated older Brethren, in their time, I find in our era, we profess a desire to, but, find it easier to provide an excuse not to, which usually involves, “having no time”. These days, I look at this act of making a daily advancement and compare to something as simple as eating. Some of us use a knife and fork, yet others, like me, should use a shovel. Some chew and enjoy every bite and others couldn’t tell you how what they ate, tasted like 20 minutes later. Many eat healthy, and others, junk they shouldn’t. But the most honest reference I can use to compare this daily advancement, to eating, is in this hustle and bustle of the busy lives we lead presently, one must surely admit that it is not uncommon to skip a meal, even though, we know that it is not healthy, or good for us. Unfortunately, it is easier, after a few times, to develop a bad habit rather than the “better” one.
This question, “how does Masonry make a good man better”, I have asked of many. It often made me feel like a youngster asking his parents, where do babies come from? I am sure in the time Freemasonry has been around, and from many different geographical areas; someone must have answered this question. But why was it so allusive to me. Am I looking in the wrong places, asking the wrong men? Truthfully, many I have asked could offer me no more than, it just does. For them, being good men, who have been in the Craft for many years, well, maybe it just did. Others, suggested it could be found in education. What Education? The Mechanics, the History, the Ritual, Operations, Protocol and Etiquette, is it any one of these, all on them, or is there something more?
After being Raised, I enrolled in the Masonic Arts and Sciences Course or as it was originally called the Master Masons Course. This course offered me the education in many of the areas I have just mentioned. It is a correspondence course that has been available since 1984, yet many of the Brethren, young and old, have never heard of it, or know very little about it. At present there are only 259 grads since its inception. Did I find the answer to my question in education? Am I a better man? Nope! Just a Mason with a little more education than I started with, and the privilege of adding the initials of FCF, A Fellow of the College of Freemasonry, to my Masonic Signings. The completion of this course has offered me many different opportunities and experiences, for upon being a Grad I was invited to an Alumni group, where education, is ongoing. We have a forum for questions and debates by many experienced and well educated Brethren. Could I possibly ask my question here?
What I was finding, was some very interesting educated views from scholarly Masons, providing discussions and debates far superior to my knowledge, about various topics that I was interested in, the protocol and etiquette, Ritual, and History. Yet, as a member, and a very young Mason, I could not find the nerve to ask my quested question, but hoped I could find the secret by searching in the Q & A’s of the alumni forum history. No such luck!
My patience, or lack of nerve, was rewarded a few months later, and you can imagine my excitement when I received an email, with this exact question from the Alumni, The Making of good men better, What does this actually mean and how do we do this? There it was. Honestly, I must have checked my email for replies every 10 minutes for that whole day.
Many answers where offered to this question, but one in particular caught my attention, causing me to read it several times. I will read to you the answer, which came from Brother Terry Spalding – Martin FCF;
“These same questions come up time and time again on the various Masonic email forums. It is a phrase, thrown out there with little thought, or meaning.
I consider Freemasonry, to be the biggest and oldest self help group in the world. The emphasis, is on “self”.
For the most part, our society wants everything given to them. We will move mountains, if it means we don’t have to do any work. Thus, making men better is generally perceived as something Freemasonry “does” to men.
It is, actually something Freemasonry makes available to men. Freemasonry holds it out, and then, the brother has to do some work in order for it to happen.
Another trite phrase is, “you get out of it, what you put into it.” But it’s true. If you just sit on the bench, nothing much happens. You don’t become better, you don’t become any smarter, and you don’t become anything, other than older.
Brethren frequently discuss the relevance of learning ritual. What’s the use of learning all that archaic language, and then saying it to someone?
Psychologists say that speaking in public is more fearful to the average person than dying. Rather than give a eulogy, we’d prefer to be in the box. By learning ritual, we expand our capabilities for memorization. Something many of us, haven’t done since public school, if ever. By delivering ritual, we overcome our fear, and learn to public speak. This capability boosts our self worth, and self confidence.
Consider each one of the officer chair duties. Each one of them teaches a skill of some sort; Keeping minutes, learning the lodge membership list, interacting with people we do not know, Meeting a new man, and, taking responsibility for showing him around, Setting goals, Organizing volunteers to accomplish a set goal. Each chair, has something of value.
But, we actually have to do it ourselves. Nobody can do it for us.”
This is probably the most practical response, that I have seen or heard to the question I have been asking. Myself, believing that this is at least part of a possible solution, that Freemasonry offers us what we need, right here, in our Ritual, Protocol and etiquette, history, mechanics and very simply, in our operation of the Lodge. Then I have to ask this question, “If we do these very things offered in Freemasonry, “poorly”, will we get the same results”?
It’s an interesting thought! Should we not take pride, in what, and when we do things? I believe the answer is, yes! So, how do we achieve this? Is it through Education? Again I would say, yes! Then one may ask, what education, who will teach it and who needs it?
Going back to my eating theme for the answers, What Education, any number of things we eat, can provide us with nutrition and enjoyment, or, very simply, satisfy a hunger. Who will teach, well, some of us like to cook, and those that don’t, have probably been asked to take a turn cooking, at some point. Truthfully, our wives would tell us, it always tastes better when someone else is doing the cooking, and I believe some of the recycled Past Masters would feel the same way, with that reference. And, the who needs it, we all have the need to eat and most importantly, we all like to eat.
It may be bold of me, a Mason of just over 2 years, to make the comment that we all could benefit from some form of education, but I will offer up this situation for my defence. This past December my Daughter turned 16. My Lady suggested that I should be the one to teach her how to drive, after all, I should have more patience, because “I was a Mason”. My surprised look prompted her to offer up in her defence, “making a good man better”. I couldn’t argue with that statement and, after several successful lessons teaching from my 30 plus years of experience, it was still recommended that we enroll her in Drivers Education. Firstly, for the Insurance breaks, but, in all honesty I must admit, that with Driving, I have been doing it for so long, some bad habits might have crept in, not to mention the changes in the laws over the years, that I may have missed learning. After a few short classes I started hearing things like, “do you know that was a rolling stop?” Or “You are speeding” at 5 km over the limit which most of us are guilty of. As a man, who is proud to be a Mason, I display Masonic emblems on all our vehicles, so truthfully, I do not mind being reminded by her, or, re-taught for lack of a better word, as it can only improve the way I drive and the way I project being a Mason in the public eye. When I wrote this paragraph, I couldn’t help but be reminded, that there are many circumstances where someone will view our behaviour, to evaluate what they will considered to be acceptable behaviour for themselves.
I have stated, and it is a fact, Speaking in public is a very tough area for me. It is much easier when the ones you are speaking to, work for you. Knowing I couldn’t afford to hire all of you, I thought I would ask some fellow Brother for some constructive criticism of my, talk prior to me coming here. Those that have read or heard this, all seem to get something different from it but have encouraged me to change very little. Brother David Ross FCF did however offer me a thought of his that I wanted to share.
His Comments…. “Back to the “good man better” topic. My personal opinion, is that I am a better man for being a Mason – funnily enough, my wife believes that too, and that is because I truly ‘believe’ what I am saying when I recite ritual, and I try to follow its lessons – especially the second half of the Installation General Charge. The problem we face is, that many of the brethren doing the ritual can recite the work word perfectly, but they do not necessarily understand the ‘true’ meaning – if the teacher does not understand the subject fully, then the pupil, (or candidate) has no chance. Again I look to education to make a difference. Learning ritual and understanding ritual are two completely different things.”
Is Masonry working for me at this point in my journey? After my Initiation, I was posed with this question from my spouse, well, what is it about? I am sure many of you might have been asked something similar. How do I answer? In my infinite wisdom, I responded, it’s about morals; you know making a good man, better. A short time after me answering this question to her, I recall an incident, when driving on the HWY, and being cut off, I proceeded to voice, within our car of course, what I felt would be a good solution, to my dissatisfaction. My better half enjoyed offering her opinion to my comments, “well that isn’t very Masonic”. Truthfully, I would have to admit; in the beginning, after joining the Craft, I did hear that comment on a numerous occasions. As I tend to hear it a lot less now, I would like to believe that Freemasonry, is offering me the results through my activeness; as opposed to the alternative, she just got tired of saying it. But, honestly, I believe she simply found a new way to say it. Instead, she now offers “making a good man better”. I haven’t asked her yet, but her comment of making a good man better would imply that maybe I’m not the only one in our house that believes I am a good man.
In closing, from the view offered by our fellow brother Terry Spalding-Martin FCF, I must say, for me, my feelings are, he does have the answer to my question, and has simply, laid out the short version. Freemasonry offers what is required, and our own action is the key to success. In hind sight, every bit of our involvement has offered us the opportunity to work toward this; starting with our coming forward of our own free will and accord, asking questions of our sponsor, filling out an application, our roles in the Initiation, the degrees, our proving, visiting, all our participation, what we do while we are here, the desire to do it well but most importantly, learning and the acquisition of knowledge. I did however find two additional points not fully spelled out in his reply that seemed to be obvious. First, no time line was offered to achieve the goal, so, it must be an ongoing, continuous journey, and one should strive to stay involved, even if it is just in the form of making the effort to attend our regular Lodge meetings. Secondly, it seems much of it often involves us doing it together, as brothers, supporting one another, and working together for our common goal. If all of these things are true, and I believe they are, I must thank you Brethren, for assisting me, with my own continuing journey, by making a good man better.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
BROTHER MARK W. KAPITAN
Initiated into Freemasonry May 4th 2010 at Ivy Lodge No. 115 A.F. & A.M. G.R.C. which is located in Niagara District A, and was Raised on December 7th 2010. Proved his Third Degree February 1st 2011 and immediately enrolled in the Masonic Arts and Sciences offered by the College of Freemasonry that day. Became a graduated of this course 9 weeks later on April 2nd 2011. Joined the Royal Arch Masons on April 8th 2011 and completed the RAM Degree on June 10th 2011. Was a part of the District Degree Team’s Annual Degree on July 9th 2011 and will be again this year on July 14th .
In July 2011, enrolled in the District Deputy Grand Master Course and became a graduate 3 weeks later. Enrolled in the original, and at the time new, Worshipful Masters Course in September of 2011, graduating from this course a week later. September 2011, became a mentor of the College of Freemasonry. December 3rd 2011, spoke at the St. Thomas District’s Lodge of Instruction about the College of Freemasonry and the Courses offered.
January 3rd 2012, was invested as the Senior Deacon of Ivy Lodge No. 115 A.F. & A.M. G.R.C. and was enrolled as Senior Sojourner in Chapter January 13th 2012. Has attended a couple of business meetings for the Grand Lodge, Committee of Masonic Education and assisted in the restructure of the new modular system.