Becoming a Better Man

I'm currently working on becoming a better man. How am I doing this? Lots of ways! 

  • Drastically giving up television, I've currently divorced half of the currently airing shows I watch and am working on divorcing nearly all of them, I'll always enjoy some television though.
  • Reading more, I used to read a TON and I just kinda stopped. I've been reading an hour a night on average before bed and I want to increase that. Currently I'm finishing John Scalzi's Old Man's War series and have roughly 50 other, mostly hard science fiction, books queued up to read next, all multi-title series. I also want to start spending more time reading Masonic texts, shooting for at least a half hour a night before my science fiction reading.
  • Lose weight, I need to lose at least 100lbs and in the past week I've drastically reduced my portions, I've got granola at my desk at work that I can eat a pinch of when I want to go raid the vending machine and I've also been keeping some slimfast in my desk to keep me from ordering a foot-long and cookies from subway days I want something more for lunch.
  • Generally being more pleasant, I'm trying to be more cheery. Saying good morning to people, keeping my negative thoughts to myself etc.
  • Looking for a new Lodge, after writing Speedway Lodge No. 729, dead at 76 I've decided it's time to find a new Lodge. I'm visiting two next month, one of which I'm very very excited about!

That's all for now! 

Coalition to Save Freemasonry in Indiana

A group, or person, has identified as the 'Coalition to Save Freemasonry in Indiana' and have sent a letter out to WM's here in Indiana. The letter can be found below in this blog post. I'd really love if someone from this 'coalition' could reach out to me. Several things they addressed in their letter had me nodding or are things I've already thought/been concerned about. Freemasonry in Indiana is getting downright silly. The Powers That Be have been driving Indiana Freemasonry into the ground the decade and change I've been a Mason in Indiana and it's saddening. I want to see a return to our early roots as Freemasons in America. I want to see changes. I want to help bring about that change. I can't do it alone and I don't even know how to go about finding like minded Masons. 

This week my Lodge changes from Speedway #729 to Speedway #500 purely out of vanity. Seriously, we are getting a new charter so that we can take #500 because we are down the road from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway... membership declines in Indiana, ritual is stumbled through at many a Lodge, members regularly fail to return after they are raised... but the GL thought it was a good idea to offer us the ability to change from #729, after 77 years of history, to #500 for vanity. This means a new charter, this means a new signing, this means time wasted by dozens of Brothers to bring about this change. Then this letter surfaces bringing to light many far far more concerning issues. Please, would someone from the Coalition to Save Freemasonry in Indiana reach out to me, if anything it would be nice to have someone to vent to. 

Even if you aren't a member (or the sole individual) of the Coalition to Save Freemasonry in Indiana, and are just a like minded individual that is concerned by the above issues (or similar ones) and are a member of the GL of Indiana, please reach out. Lets talk, lets get together and have a cup of coffee or a bite to eat and discuss some of our concerns. Lets see if we can't start to be the change we want to see in Indiana Freemasonry. Maybe we can start a club and come together once or twice a month to be better Brothers and go to our Blue Lodges monthly and be the change. Comment here, or drop me a message via the Contact link in the top right corner of this site. 

 

Medical Care

Someone on a reddit thread was whining about already being at their 5k deductible this year and how they'd have to pay 400$ to their neurologist tomorrow for their appointment... this started as a reply to them but I decided to write it here instead

Why (all) medical care isn't a right, and why it cannot be with our current level of technological achievement:

Most medical care is a privilege. It is a luxury. Calm down calm down, just hear me out. Having someone set a broken bone should be a 'right', certain mental health care should be a 'right' as a mentally unwell person can be a detriment to society around them. If something involves a scalpel, cancer treatment etc is a privilege and should remain such.

Setting a broken bone is something a fairly unskilled individual can perform and leave the individual with the broken bone having fairly good functionality of that limb when it heals. Most surgery requires a half dozen or more people, a sterile environment, hundreds of thousands of dollars (or millions of dollars) of specialized equipment, all sorts of consumables (paper gowns, gloves, gauze, betadine, anesthetics, staples etc) and absolutely should not be free or subsidized.

We aren't to a technological point where all medical care, or even most medical care, is something inexpensive that can be a 'right'. In the next several decades, or century, this is going to change. There are now robots that can perform some surgical procedures with zero input from doctors (mostly sutures and the like), medical technology gets better and better and eventually will reach a point where it largely stops improving and then you'll start to see the cost come down as production methods allow the machines and instruments to be made cheaper and cheaper. THEN, most medical care starts to become a right as it becomes more and more automated and requires less and less education.

With the way the technology is now, demanding cheap or free healthcare for the masses is like demanding the top violinist in the world to come and teach every child that wants to play the violin for free. Or demanding that the best mechanics in the world work on your car for free. Or that the plumber, the electrician, the carpenter should come and work for free or for pennies on the dollar. Starfleet doesn't exist, these are not the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Society is not at a point where we can offer such services free to all because they are skilled trades with expensive equipment and lengthy educational requirements.

Interview with Masonic Author Julian Rees

Julian Rees is the author of Making Light : a Handbook for FreemasonsThe Stairway of Freemasonry: 30 Short Talks and QuestionsSo You Want To Be A Freemason?The Tracing Boards of the Three Degrees in Freemasonry Explained and Ornaments, Furniture and Jewels.

 

From whence came you Bro. Rees?

I know it sounds a little pretentious, but I know that I came from darkness.

How did you first become interested in Freemasonry?

A neighbour of mine was Worshipful Master of his Lodge, and suggested that I might be interested in Freemasonry.

How long have you been a Mason?

I was initiated in 1968, so that makes it 47 years almost to the day.

What do you feel is the most important or impactful things you’ve taken away from Freemasonry?

Insight. We seldom, in our busy lives, get down and study what the words mean. When I started to do that, some senior brethren in my Lodge told me not to bother: “Just learn the words as best you can – that’s all there is to it”. I persevered however and gained much Light and Insight as a result, leading to the Cornerstone Society and Canonbury Tower Lodge.

What’s your Masonic history?

  • Initiated in Kirby Lodge 2818 in London November 1968 – passed to FC February 1969 – Raise to Master Mason March 1969
  • Joined German-speaking Pilgrim Lodge 238 in London in 1972.
  • Awarded Silver Matchbox for ritual delivery without correction at Emulation Lodge of Improvement in 1972
  • Installed as Worshipful Master of Kirby Lodge October of 1976
  • Installed as Worshipful Master of Pilgrim Lodge December of 1978
  • Promoted to London Grand Rank in 1986
  • Appointed Grand Pursuivant of United Grand Lodge of England in 1996
  • Helped found quarterly journal “Freemasonry Today” in 1997
  • Appointed to precepting committee of Emulation Lodge of Improvement in 1999
  • Founder of The Cornerstone Society 1999
  • Re-appointed Worshipful Master of Kirby Lodge in 1999 for the centenary of that Lodge in 2000
  • Joined Old School Lodge 2001
  • Joined the editorial team of “Freemasonry Today” in 2003 as deputy editor under Michael Baigent (Author of Holy Blood, Holy Grail)
  • Delivered talk in Old Royal Arch Lodge No. 2 in New York “From Ritual to Enlightenment”
  • Founded Canonbury Tower Lodge 9772 working on spiritual principles in London in 2005
  • Promoted to Junior Grand Deacon of UGLE in 2007
  • Installed Worshipful Master of Old School Lodge in 2007
  • Awarded the Order Maconnique de Lafayette in Paris by the Institut Maconnique de France in 2008
  • Installed Worshipful Master of Canonbury Tower Lodge in 2009
  • Delivered talk in Alexandria, VA “The Spiritual Path of Freemasonry” in 2011
  • Resigned from UGLE when they stated that Freemasonry had nothing to do with spirituality in 2011
  • Joined International Order of Freemasonry for Men and Women in 2011

Wow! That’s quite a Masonic career

Do you currently have any Masonic books in the works?

I am working on a book concerning Freemasonry for men and women.

Have you written any non-Masonic works for profit or pleasure?

No but there is a novel inside myself which will one day see the light…

What’s the most interesting Lodge you’ve ever visited, what made it stand out?

Pilgrim Lodge London. They work the Schroeder Ritual and preserve many features of very early European rituals.

 

 

I’ve recently been looking at Tracing Boards of the Three Degrees in Craft Freemasonry Explained and I’d like to ask you a bit about it, while writing this title what did you find to be the most interesting thing you discovered?

That inanimate objects hold great allegorical and spiritual lessons for us.

While writing the book, did you decide to leave any content out?

There must be twice as many tracing boards in the world than those I features – space did not permit more! Apart from that, I am amazed, reading it now six years after first publication, how focused it is. Had I rambled on, as I could have done, my readers would have fallen asleep.

It looks like you’ve released a 2nd edition, what made you decide to release a revised edition?

Strictly speaking, it is not a revision – it is a re-print. The original publisher, despite this being my best-selling book, did not wish to re-print it.

What was your original reason for writing it?

(1) the sheer artistry of these artifacts over the centuries. Starting from the earliest ones, one senses desire of the artists to communicate something – it is for us to find out what. (2) Freemasonry is about allegory, namely representing things in a way that cannot be communicated by words. In Freemasonry (despite our thousands of words of ritual!) we need to interface with these non-verbal aspects for it is they which will lead us on the path of (self) enlightenment.

If readers could only take one thing away from the text, what would you want it to be?

The idea that symbols contain/express allegories, and that to be true Freemasons we need to de-code, de-crypt those allegories and their power.

Is there anything you’d like to say about your other four Masonic works? 

Making Light‘ was conceived as the idea that a candidate who has passed through a ceremony will almost certainly be confused. He/she needs a guiding hand to hold his/hers as they tread the path. I know from what people have told me that they find it very helpful. ‘Stairway of Freemasonry‘ is conceived as study lectures, to be delivered in open Lodge, and then to be studied using the questions printed at the end of each chapter. ‘Ornaments Furniture and Jewels‘ is really an extension of the tracing boards book.

What charitable cause(s) are you most passionate about?

Amnesty International. We are all pioneers of something or other, in our lives and in our minds. Working for/with them is a therapy.

What book, Masonic or otherwise, do you find yourself giving the most as a gift?

Robert Harris novels. Also, for me the best novel of all time, “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Duerr.

Growing up what was your dream career?

To be a doctor. I daily thank T.G.A.O.T.U. that he did not let me succeed.

Have any hobbies you are passionate about?

Woodturning.

If you could have one wish granted, what would you ask for?

That more people, both genders, could see the glory of spiritual and philosophical Freemasonry.

If you could say anything to the Masonic community, and you can now, what would it be?

Work, and work hard, to make my answer to the previous question come true.

I think everyone has contemplated what super power they’d love to have at one point in their life, what power did you always want?

To always and unconditionally be able to love, setting aside my intolerance and prejudice. I am working on it…

 

This interview was conducted via electronic mail between Bro. Julian Rees Kirk White and Bro. Ryan Carl Mercer on December 3rd 2015 AD 6015 AL

7 non-Masonic books every Mason should read (and everyone else too)

 

The basic message here is to pay yourself first, solid financial practices will set you up to better tackle life’s financial challenges from surviving unexpected expenses to carrying less stress knowing you are preparing for your financial future.

 

You can apply the lessons in this book to any situation, not just war. It stresses to know yourself, know your enemy and only waste energy when it’s all but certain you’ll win your ‘battle’.

 

Relationships matter, this title will equip you to build better personal and business relationships.

 

At the turn of the 20th Century J.D. Rockefeller was the richest man alive and commanded the massive monopoly that was Standard Oil Company. While he sometimes gets a bad rap Rockefeller was a MASSIVE philanthropist. Rockefeller spent the last few decades of his life funding efforts that revolutionized medicine, education and scientific research. There are many great lessons to take from his life.

 


Here you find a series of personal writings, a diary, of Marcus Aurelius. It tackles his personal thoughts and ideas on Stoic philosophy. You’ll learn to analyze your judgement o fself and others and to develop a cosmic perspective. For Masons this will certainly equip you to be a beter man and Brother.

 


This text will teach you things such as self-reliance, generosity, brevity, to actually stop to enjoy life, it will stress loyalty and encourage you to be an example of how you want others to be.

 

Written by the CEO of Zappos this book is great even to those that are neither business owners or managers. It touches on concepts such as balancing profits/passion/purpose, building a long-term enduring brand (this can be applied to one’s personal life), how happiness can lead to increased productivity (apply this to your Lodge and personal life), how to deliver a custom experience that makes happier customers (can be applied to candidates and the newly raised Masons).

Interview with Masonic Author Kirk C. White

From Whence come you?

Bethel, Vermont.

How did you first become interested in Freemasonry?

I have been a student of esotericism and the Western Mysteries since childhood. As I traced various groups – their histories, beliefs and practices – back to their roots and influences, I repeatedly found Masonry as an important piece, either as source material or a carrier of earlier material.

What made you decide to petition a Lodge?

So that I could have direct access to that source material and better understand why/how these other groups do what they do.

How long have you been a Mason?

I was initiated on Nov. 14, 1991, passed on Dec. 12, 1991 and raised a MM on Feb. 13, 1992.  So almost 24 years.

What do you feel is the most important or impactful things you’ve taken away from Freemasonry?

A deeper and fuller understanding of the initiatic process and how it can be used for the betterment of society.

What’s your Masonic history?

Symbolic Lodge:

  • Past Master of White River Lodge #90 F& AM VT (1997-1998)
  • Charter member and Master of Fibonacci Lodge #112 F&AM VT (Traditional Observance model lodge) (2015-2017)
  • Past Right Worshipful District Deputy Grand Master, Grand Lodge of VT (2013-2015)
  • Right Worshipful Grand Senior Deacon, Grand Lodge of VT (2015-2016)
  • Member of the Grand Lodge Ritual Committee and Grand Lodge Masonic Education Committee

York Rite:

  • Past High Priest of Whitney Chapter #5 VT
  • Past Most Excellent Grand High Priest of Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Vermont (2011-2012)
  • Past Thrice Illustrious Master of Barre Council #22 Royal and Select Masters of VT
  • Most Illustrious Grand Master of Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of VT (2015-2016)Generalissimo of St. Aldemar
  • Commandery #11 Knights Templar of VTPast Puissant Sovereign of St.
  • Helena Conclave #3 Red Cross of Constantine

Adeptus Major and Second Ancient in NH College of Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis

Member of Green Mountain York Rite College #139, the Grand College of Rites, and the Masonic Society. 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason (Northern Jurisdiction)

 

‘Fibonacci Lodge #112’, I always love nicely named Lodges, not far from me we have ‘Lodge Vitruvian #767

Do you currently have any Masonic book(s) in the works?

Several.  But the one closest to completion explores the Renaissance worldview pieces that are embedded in Masonic ritual

Have you written any non-Masonic works for profit or pleasure (I know you have but sounds better in the author’s words)?

I have – three books on spiritual practice for the modern Pagan movement. (The Librarian’s note: these titles are Adept Circle Magic and Advanced Circle Magick: Essential Spells and Rituals for Every Season can be found on Amazon)

What’s the most interesting Lodge you’ve ever visited, what made it stand out?

While I appreciate that beauty, grandeur and craftsmanship that has gone into many lodges, my favorite are tiny, old rural lodges  still heated by a woodstove and which haven’t changed much in 100 years or more. They make me feel closer to the Masonry our great grandfathers probably experienced.

While I don’t belong to the Lodge the three generations before me did, I do belong to the Lodge my father did DeMolay at and the photo I have of him inside the Lodge show the building EXACTLY the same, I know the carpet has been replaced and the walls repainted the same colour but that is the only change and it really does make me feel closer to him despite the fact he passed just before I turned 13

In writing Operative Freemasonry: A Manual for Restoring Light and Vitality to the Fraternity  what did you find to be the most interesting thing you learned/realized? 

For me, it was how simple and yet effective a daily, intentional practice of the Masonic principles could be for personal and potentially societal change.

While writing Operative Freemasonry did you decide to leave any content out, if so what and why?

My goal for this book was to have something short, concise and easy to read. It was intended to be a user’s manual for Freemasonry rather than an academic or scholarly work. So I left out lots of theory, historical and cross-cultural examples, etc. to make it something the average brother would read.

Is there any content in Operative Freemasonry you wish you could change or plan to change in a future version?

There are parts that might be expanded in future editions but I am unsure at this point if they are substantial enough to merit it.

What was your original reason for writing Operative Freemasonry?

To show brothers the actual mechanism through which “Masonry makes good men better”. By understanding why and how things in the ritual and fraternity are as they are, we can then maximize those things that promote further Light and refrain from those things that distract from it.

If readers could only take one thing away from Operative Freemasonry what would you want it to be?

Initiations are designed to change men into brothers on psychological, spiritual and social levels and will do so if taken serious and performed properly. To restore the fraternity, we just need to remember that and make use of it.

What book, Masonic or otherwise, do you find yourself giving the most as a gift?

Recently it would be “Operative Freemasonry“.  Prior to that I loaned/lost lots of copies of Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco.

What charitable cause(s) are you most passionate about?

I am a member of the Rotary Club and am a major instigator in revitalization of my town’s social, cultural and business aspects. I donate a lot of time and money to various activities including our town’s “pop-up university”:www.betheluniversityvt.org .

Ok, now time for the fun questions! 

Growing up what was your dream career?

Being Gandalf.

Really?!? Gandalf?!?! I always wanted to be Thomas Covenant the White Gold Wielder from Stephen R. Donaldson‘s various Thomas Covenant fantasy works.

Have any hobbies you are passionate about?

The Great Work is my hobby. So I spend most of my time trying to increase Light (knowledge/ exposure to unknown things) in world in both big and small ways. My home is host to a variety of exotic and esoteric events ranging from Hermetic and Qaballistic study groups to being the site of the regional Burning Man event. A favorite quote of mine is: “Tis an ill wind that blows no minds”.  Occasionally I take a break and shoot hoops.

Are you a reader? If so, favorite book/genre/author? 

Esoteric texts.  Recently lots of Renaissance grimoires, theological tracts, etc.

Renaissance grimonires you say… Clavicula Salomonis Regis and I are old friends.

If you could have one wish granted, what would you ask for?

World harmony (which would require an end to war, social injustice, pollution, etc., etc.)

If you could say anything to the Masonic community, and you can now, what would it be?

Here’s my recent soapbox:

Recent findings of the Pew Poll of Religious Identification and other similar research have identified that within the Millennial and Gen-X generations of men and women (last teens to mid-30’s), the fastest growing segment identify religiously as “None”. These folks have a strong desire for spiritual knowledge and experience but are not interested in identifying with a specific denomination that dictates theology and specific ethical codes. They want to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences and not be told who or how to worship. THIS generation is the future of Freemasonry. They are desiring the exact thing we have to offer. They want a spiritual experience in lodge and they expect to have to learn and study things. The trick is for the fraternity to not lose them by being stodgy and boring…. by having these young guys lose the Light because the Mystic Tie they expected turned out to be a bunch of grumpy old men, long boring business meetings, poor ritual, no mentorship or understanding of the meaning of the ritual, and seemingly endless fundraising. These guys WILL pay higher dues to avoid fundraising, WILL learn the ritual perfectly, and WILL spread the Light to other younger brothers just like them if we don’t stifle the passion and hopes they have upon joining. We need to do better and we need to do it now while the opportunity exists.

I agree 100% Brother.

I think everyone has contemplated what super power they’d love to have at one point in their life, what power did you always want?

Teleportation — so I can go everywhere and do everything.  I’m a Gemini.

Me too! But I’d like to add not only teleportation but you need to have the ability to understand space and time as well, if you think about ityou have the same issue you would with time travel, basically the Earth is moving 66k miles per hour through our solar system, while the sun moves 43k miles per hour around the galaxy, and the galaxy is chugging along at 483k miles per hour through the universe ( and our universe, in my opinion, is certainly part of something even larger and is likely moving far far faster through it) so if you’re standing on earth and think “I want to teleport to the break room 30 feet away” even at the speed of light you’d find yourself floating in space rethinking your life choices. Ha!

 

Thank you so much for your time Bro. Kirk!

 

This interview was conducted via electronic mail between Bro. Kirk White and Bro. Ryan Carl Mercer  on November 13th  2015 AD 6015 AL

10 must read Masonic books for all Freemasons

This list is compiled from the personal views of myself, Amazon sales charts, Goodreads and general discussion of must-read Masonic texts from various Brothers around the internet. These books range from titles excellent for the individual curious about Freemasonry or the newly raised Brother to those who’s Masonic careers are long in the tooth and simply want to expand their knowledge of the Craft. In no particular order, onward to the list:

 

  • The Mason’s Words: The History and Evolution of the American Masonic Ritual – the meticulous, documented, research in this text provides a fantastic look at Freemasonry from the 18th and 19th centuries and is presented in such a way that it engages the reader and is actually an enjoyable experience, later books in this list can be quite dry at times but this book is an exception.

  • Freemasons For Dummies – in this book Bro. Hodapp masterfully enlightens readers on the basics of Freemasonry. This text is a must-read for those that are curious about Masonry and newly raised Brothers.

 

 

  • The Builders: A Story and Study of Freemasonry – in The Builders Bro. Newton offers us a scholarly look at the general origins and history of Freemasonry. Written in 1914 it’s possible readers will find the style a bit… different than they are accustomed to but it’s by no means bad. The ancient mystery religions as well as the birth of ‘modern’ speculative Freemasonry in the early 18th century. The Librarian prefers The Mason’s Word to this title but still finds it a worthy read for all Brothers.

 

 

  • The Meaning of MasonryThe Librarian has several copies of this book on his shelves, he received a copy or two as gifts after being raised and is guilty of buying a copy or four himself. Written by Wilmshurst roughly a century ago this title is still a treasure, all Masons should own a copy (and in fact, Amazon regularly has used copies for as little as a penny plus shipping so there’s no excuse).

 

  • Encyclopedia Of Freemasonry: Extended Annotated Edition – ideally try to find one of the leather bound 100ish year old editions, otherwise the Extended Annotated Edition is good enough. Bro. Mackey put together a wonderful resource when he made these two volumes and every Brother should have it on their shelves, even if to simply turn to a page at random and read from time to time.

 

 

 

  • Morals and Dogma: Of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry – Yes, it says Scottish Rite. Bro Pike has lecture after lecture in this title which pushes it to nearly 900 pages and is by no means at all a book one should expect to tackle quickly. Every Mason should read this sometime in their life, if they choose to go Scottish Rite or not. Do yourself a favor and spend a little extra, find one of the older leather versions.