Sunday, June 6, 2010

You say Good-bye, I say Hello!

Let me cut right to the chase, I have way to many blogs, whether it is Freemasonry, Mormonism, Root Beer, Politics, Dutch Ovens, or life in general - I am spending way too much time on Blogs. Now, I enjoy blogging, but trying to spread myself too thin just isn't getting things done. Therefore I am saying good-bye to this blog as well as all of my blogs.

With that it in mind, please check out my new blog, Col. Chubbs. This si going to be the quintessential blog, I will discuss everything that I find interesting. Just as I am a combination of all of my hobbies, so too is this new blog.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

What Does FreeMasonry Offer?

I get this question a lot, or one of its many brothers: Why do you keep going to Lodge, What do you get out of FreeMasonry, Why would I want to join, etc.

To answer the question we could take the physics approach. In a closed system, energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can change forms but it is constant, i.e. Conservation of Energy. In other words - you get out of it what you put into it. I honestly don't think this answers the question, just a nice way around it. It's cliche and unfortunately I have used it.

But, to be honest I have a hard time answering. The best I can answer is hope. FreeMasonry offers every brother, everyone, the whole world, the opportunity of hope.

Let me paint a grim picture-imagine a world wehre men kill over whose definition of God is correct, blood runs in the streets as mothers wail over their lost children. In this same world, greed is valued as an asset, who cares that their neighbor lost his house as long as I made a profit. Everyone watches their tongue out of fear of offending instead of common decency, and integrity has been claimed a casualty.

In this world, FreeMasonry offers hope! Hope that mankind can overcome their differences and embrace their similarities. Hope that virtue will rise above vice and baseness. FreeMasonry offers a hope that integrity and faith will govern actions instead of political correctness. This is what FreeMasonry offers and perhaps all could use a sincere dose.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Friendship and Brotherly Love; or, The Musings of the Youngest Master Mason of Canyon Lodge

Well, if you made it through title to get to this point, know that the most difficult part of your journey is over. And it is probably inferred, but I am currently the youngest Master Mason of Canyon Lodge #13 being only 23 years old. There are a couple of younger Entered Apprentices and FellowCrafts, and hopefully soon I will be stripped of my title.
But, there is a member of Canyon Lodge who is a great man. As our friendship has grown I have had the opportunity to get to know his family, a family that I consider an extension of my own, his children being near the same age as I am. My brother and I have had numerous discussions regarding his children join the Lodge. He always asks and comments, "What do I tell them when they ask, 'What do you do?' We sit in a lodge room and aruge over raising dues and then go downstairs and have a cup of coffee." Now, since this time Canyon Lodge has grown; the amount of degrees we perform have increased meaning our membership is growing, our lodge meeting inlcude educational features and more meaningful discussions, and we have an active community presence by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.

Yet, does the lodge have the corner on these markets? The short answer is no! So it must be asked, what draws men back into the lodge room? Men can participate in rituals in most organizations from the boy scouts to organized religions. The search for education and philosophy can be obtained through any good book and good discussion. And men can volunteer with any number of people through the Red Cross or the Salvation Army. It comes down to two of our most excellent tenants; Friendship and Brotherly Love!

I have found a Brother in Lodge who has become a Father figure, a man who I look up to and admire. There is a crotchety old timer who always like to "complain" about these days, but you can't help but enjoy listening to their stoires, just like grandpa. In the Lodge there are uncles and cousins, light-hearted jokes and someone searching for another to pull their fingers. This, I believe, is the essence of Masonry. These are the connections that bring men together and keep them together.

Now does Masonry have the corner of this market? No! Go to any family reunion and you will get the same experience, aunts included (perhaps one should join the Eastern Star for the full experience :)). But when a person looks at everything that Canyon Lodge has going for it; more meaningful degrees, more meaningful lodge meetings, charity, and Friendship and Brotherly Love, one sees what the mystic tie is of Freemasonry. I personally believe that lodges that are growing are the lodges that meet these four requirements, and perhaps for the lodges that are not, they should see which ones they are lacking. Hopefully, more lodges can become more like Canyon Lodge #13.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mormon and Mason

The other day I wrote this post on my wife's blog. I really enjoyed discussing my feelings towards being a Mason and a Mormon. It was after writing this post that I decided to branch out this blog. Therefore I have begun a new blog, Joseph's Lodge, the intent of this blog is to discuss my experience as a Mormon Mason. I will continue to post on this blog as well.

As many of you know, I am a member of an ancient and honourable institution, I am a Freemason. Recently, I joined a motorcycling club that requires that its membership be Master Masons. This club is known as the Freemasons Riding Club. Of course, I placed the back patch on my jacket and I am quite proud of having it on my jacket. While on a ride with a group of friend, one saw the patch and said, "You know, Mormons can't be Masons." Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to know if this person is joking or not.
This was definitely not the first time a comment like this has been made, nor will it be the last. Yet, this time it made me ask myself, why can't a Mormon be a Mason? Why is there such a conflict of misunderstanding between these two groups.
First, in the State of Utah, there has not been a restriction on Mormons becoming Masons since 1984 when the Grand Lodge of Utah lifted its ban and allowed Mormons to become Masons.
Second, there has never been an official ban of Mormon Masons by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It's stance has been more of an attitude of neutrality. I have always viewed the opinion of the L.D.S. Faith as; 1) The first place of Fraternity and Fellowship should be the Elder's Quorum, 2) A member of the Church should dedicate their time to their Church callings, activities, etc., and 3) A member of the Church should not be a member, or sympathize, with any organization that draws their attention away from the Divinity of Christ and His sacred gospel. For me, Masonry does not hinder my performance or attitude in regard to these three points.
In fact, Masonry has strengthened my resolve and emboldened my confidence of being a Saint and Disciple of Jesus Christ. Today, we live in a world that contends for our time, talent, and energies, and this world is becoming more decadent every generation, it is nice to find an organization that stresses high moral character and the purpose of faith in one's life.
I must ask myself, would their be so much concern for my eternal soul if I was to become a member of the Lion's Club or Rotary and dedicated as much time to these organizations as I did my Masonic Lodge? Probably not!
In closing, I cannot find anything bad in an organization that has compelled such men as Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, Willard Richards, Newell K. Whitney, Heber C. Kimball, John Taylor, Parley P. Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, and Orrin Porter Rockwell just to name a few. And I am reminded of the 13th Article of Faith:

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing
good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We
believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to
be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good
report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
I believe that Masonry is virtuous, lovely, and of good report.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What is Masonry?

For the past few weeks I have asked myself, "What is Masonry?" And more importantly, I have been asking myself, "Why did I become a Mason?" My lack of posting, malaise almost, lately is in part due to my contemplation of these two questions. As I have searched out these two questions I have felt like I did when I was contemplating petitioning my lodge.

So, let's jump right on in, "What is Masonry?" If a person walked into any given lodge and asked every member there, let's say 100, what masonry is, there would be 100 different answers. Some might sound similar, and others would be completely different. And there would also be a general correlation between one's answer to "What is Masonry" as to their answer to "Why did I become a Mason." So here is one Brother's response to these two questions.

Masonry is brotherhood. History proves that Freemasonry is the first gentleman's society, or fraternity. Masonry is more than simple brotherhood, however. Masonry is the brotherhood of man, under the fatherhood of God. Masonry endeavors to teach her members to live a better life, to act upon the square towards all mankind. Remember, the square is the square of morality and virtue. Without the symbols and allegories of morality that Masonry is composed of, Masonry would be nothing more than a college frat with all the accouterments of immorality. That Brethren is what Masonry is for me.

I joined Masonry to learn and discover her secrets. The general public speaks of Masonry as a "secret society." Masonry, at least in the U.S., has tried to demystify Masonry and lose the "misnomer" of "secret society." But it is a Secret Society. For one to become an adept of Masonry they must uncover her secrets. Many of the brethren have fogotten that we are more closely related to the ancient mysteries than we are the local Lions Club. I wanted to learn the secrets that would help me gain a seat in that Celestial Grand Lodge above. Now, I don't believe that Masonry is a method of salvation. But I do believe that the tenants of our ancient and honorable order do have an affinity and sustain and edify that path of salvation that I have chosen as truth. For the moral and upright person, Masonry should do nothing more or less than edify their personal religious, philosophical, and ethical bent.

A person must answer these two questions before they decide to petition a lodge. For some their answers might become reality and for others their answers may not be realized. After become a member of the lodge, a person should ask these questions again. Are the answers the same, is the desire still there? As I mentioned above, I have come under some Masonic Malaise lately, as I have asked these two questions, I realized that the two answers were not relevant to one another. In the inner journey of healing, I discovered that they did not fit together because of me. We make Masonry what it is, what we want it to be. For some they might become disappointed and disenchanted when they discover the lodge is not what they expected. But it is the true Mason that works and finds their niche within the fraternity. I can happily report that this act of metacognition has ended in the positive and a stronger desire and sense of pride of being a Mason.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Knights of the Square and Compasses-Mercy

Mercy is the most benevolent of the Knightly Virtues. Knights were duty bound to show mercy. Granted their duty extended only in showing mercy to the poor and oppressed, they were to be mericless to the evil-doers.

The paradigm of knightly etiquette and chivalry is that of the King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table. In some of the myths that surround this legendary company, the genesis of Knightly Mercy is explained. Sir Gawain, at Queen Guinevere's marriage feast, accidentally slays a maiden and refuses to grant mercy to another knight. As his penance he is required to always serve all maids and always grant mercy.

Mercy is defined as the disposition to be compassionate or forbearing. Even more so, a knight was expected to show mercy towards those that were their enemies. In the year 1346, the Siege of Calais began, and it cost many lives to both the English and the French. Finally, once the French King deseret the city to the English, the French citizens asked for mercy. The English Prince Edward demanded that six burgesses be delivered to him to be put to death as well as the keys to the city and towers, and the rest of Calais could go free. The six richest burgesses of Calais consented and were marched to their deaths before the Prince of England. Yet, at the begging of his wife, Edward showed mercy and allowed the six to be freed. This is one example of Knightly Mercy. Edward had been so upset at the length of the siege, yet he was still able to find compassion enough to set the city free.

Masons are expected to do the same. A mason is taught by the compasses the extent of his mercy, charity, faith, etc. Remember, the compasses teach us to circumscribe our desires and keep our passions within due bounds, towards all mankind, more especially a brother mason. I have read that "the distinguishing characteristic of a good Freemason are virtue, honour, and mercy, and may they ever by found in every Mason's heart." A Mason is obligated to show forth mercy, not only to his brethren, but also to those who are not.

When emotions become a little heated, a Mason should be able to step back and look at the situation reasonably. He should then be able to ere on the side of compassion. When someone comes before a Mason, full of ignorance and hate for who he his, he should be forbearing, being patient and having self control with annoyances and provocations. A Mason, just as the knights of old, should be full of mercy.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Knights of the Square and Compasses - An Introduction

In the year 1737, the Chevalier Andrew Ramsay offered an oration to the members of the craft in Paris. As many of the early members of the Lodge were apt to do, he offered an impressive history of the fraternity, one that was full of intrigue, mystery, and utter hogwash. In this oration, Ramsay offered this point,
"In the times of the holy wars in Palestina, several princes, lords, and artists
associated, swore to reestablish the temples of the christians in the Holy Lands
and to use their science and their goods to bring back architecture to its
pristine institution, they recalled all the ancient signs and mysterious words
of Solomon in order to distinguish themselves from the Infidels and make
themselves known to each other."

He then continues to explain that this order ultimately united with the Knights of St. John. And from that union, the craft has been passed down until the present day.
These princes and lords that Ramsay discusses are the Knights of the Holy Crusades. They were not feeble (some might have been in actuality) lords that sat on thrones, but lords that commanded their armies in their wars, for better or worse. These men were fighting men, they were knights.
Now, I don't espouse any of these theories as fact. It's definately romantic to believe that somehow these knights found [recalled] the ancients signs and mysterious of Solomon and initiated themselves into an order that bears paternity to our Masonry. But as with most romantic legends that are passed down, they are usually completely false.
The one thing that I find interesting in this romantic legend, though, is the idea that Masonry abides by the precepts and conduct that is befitting a knight. Remember, that the period that Ramsay gave his oration was the beginning of the Romantic Era. The idea that knights wore shining armor and followed a strict code of conduct known as chivalry was born during this era.
Knights, some more then others, did follow this Code of Chivalry. Is there a relationship between the knights that wore shining armor and the brethren who wear leathern aprons? Is the knights abiding faith in his God, his service to Him akin to our desire to be closer to the One that we call Deity?
In the next few weeks, I hope to look at the different tenets of Chivalry, from Loyalty to Faith and match them with their counterparts in our rituals and teachings. We may not be descended from the men that risked their lives for their faith in the hot sands of the Middle East. But, we are Knights in our own right, we are the Knights of the Square and Compasses.