Why I'm becoming an inactive Freemason

After leaving Speedway #729, now Speedway #500 when they opted to throw tradition out for vanity I moved to Logan Lodge #575. After Logan Lodge accepted me as a member I noticed that they were struggling to have a healthy active membership base. I then found that i was never sent a request for dues, a month passed, two months passed, I asked about it and nothing, three months passed, four, the fifth month I finally receive my dues card for last year with a handwritten note saying my dues have been overdue for nearly 4 months and I must promptly pay them... 

Combine these events with downright racist and anti-Islamic posts I've seen from more than one Brother on Facebook, the fact several Grand Lodges in the U.S. have taken horribly homophobic stances, that more and more Lodges that are actually active are starting to more resemble the Rotary Club and Toastmasters, that many Lodges are struggling to even open stated meetings regularly (Logan included), that every single Lodge I've visited the past year or so has spent a chunk of their stated meetings and degrees going on and on about appendant body golf outings and gun raffles instead of spending time on Masonic education... 

 

I'm done. You want me to cough up 350$ a year but all you offer in return is hateful memes about "them damn heathen Moslems", crockpot desiccated KFC sides and 30 minutes a month telling me that I should come get drunk with you at the Grotto or the VFW/Legion, oh hey can I put my political office sign in your yard Brother? 

 

No thank you. This is not the Freemasonry of my father, the Freemasonry of my godfather or the Freemasonry of my great-grandfather. I don't know what this is but I'm done. Freemasonry is dying, the Lodges I've sat in go through the minimum motions then move on to show boating and making names for themselves in their communities when not drinking to excess. 

 

Are there still good Lodges? Yes, but they are few and far between and even they often have a sense of elitism requiring tuxedos and going to 30$+ a plate dinners after Lodge to continue activities (including, often, their Masonic education). I'm sorry, I don't want to go to a fancy dress party and drop 50$ after drink and tip on dinner at 9pm on a weeknight. I want to pursue the mysteries of the Universe. I want to be a better man, I want to be open to ideas and concepts and customs that are not my own. 

Maybe some day I'll start my own philosophical group, but it would likely devolve into the same crap sooner or later. 

I'm not going to demit, it's a waste of my time. By my Lodge not sending me a dues notice, even when I asked why I hadn't received one, and now telling me I'm delinquent 4 months and have not said one word to me until a hand written note on the back of a piece of paper this past weekend when they sent me last year's dues cad 9 months after transferring my membership they've already written me off as NPD so fine. Let it remain that way. 

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. 

 

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).

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.

 

Interview with Masonic Author Ill. Dr. James Tresner

Whence come you Bro. James Tresner?

I was born in Enid, Oklahoma, now living in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

How did you first become interested in Freemasonry?

In my family, it was inevitable. One joined DeMolay at 13, got a driver’s license at 16, petitioned the Lodge at age 21. In fact, on my 21st birthday my parents handed me a petition, filled out, and my Grandmother handed me a check with which to pay the fees. So far as we can tell, I am a fifth-generation Mason. My Father and Grandfathers on both sides were active in Freemasonry, especially in the Scottish Rite. Both Grandmothers were active in Eastern Star, Amaranth, and White Shrine of Jerusalem. At the time, by Father was the youngest man to receive the 33rd Degree. I actually “took” the Blue Lodge and Scottish Rite Degrees by the time I was 5 years old. I had my hair cut, along with my Father, at Fox Barber Shop in Enid. Most of the customers were Masons, and frequently when we went in on Saturday mornings for a haircut, there would be five or six men there, “running language” either for a Blue Lodge Degree or an upcoming Scottish Rite Reunion. My Father was deeply interested in the philosophy of the Rite as he was in comparative religion, and so there were frequent discussions at home about the topics. I loved reading, and he loaned me his books on Masonry, so that I had read Morals and Dogma by the time I was 11 years old. I’m still trying to grasp it fully.

Well, I wanted to ask what made you decide to petition a Lodge but looks like we’ve covered that using your own words “It was foreordained”.

Bro. Jim, how long have you been a Mason?

Nearly 53 years.

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

Very difficult to answer. One certainly is how to be a friend. Another is the understanding that nothing is as it seems. Almost always there are deeper and deeper layers if one looks. A symbol may seem simple on the surface, but may lead you into the most profound depths of human experience.

Would you mind telling us a bit about your Masonic history?

(Remember, you asked for this) Originally (and still) a member of Garfield Lodge #501 in Enid, Oklahoma. Also a member and Past Master of Albert Pike Lodge #162 in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Member of the York Rite (made Knight Commander of the Temple by the Grand Encampment). Member of the Guthrie Valley Scottish Rite, Director of the Work there, 33o , Grand Cross in the Rite. Book Review Editor for the Scottish Rite Journal. Holder of the Oklahoma Masonic Medal of Honor and the Kansas Grand Master’s Medal of Honor. Honorary Past Grand Master of Arkansas. Anson Jones Lecturer. Holder of the Duane Anderson Medal in Masonic Education. Member of the Order of the Eastern Star. Publications Editor, Grand Lodge of Oklahoma. Royal Order of Scotland. Blue Friar. Mackey Medal for Excellence in Masonic Research from the Scottish Rite Research Society.

Busting my chops a little, haha, wow you’ve had quite busy Masonic ‘career’ those nearly 53 years! I feel like I’m slacking as a Brother here it’s been a decade and this is book club, which wasn’t even my idea, is my first real attempt at contributing to the Craft.

What Masonic titles have you written and do you currently have any Masonic books in the works?

Previous books include:

I’m currently working on a book I’m calling Bad Mason! Baad Mason!! It’s about the lamentable and unfortunate (and therefore funny) things which have happened in my Masonic life. I’m about ready to try to find a publisher.

I’ll have to keep an eye out for Bad Mason! Baad Mason!! The bit of sample you let me read was quite fun and I think everyone will love it once it’s published!

Have you written any non-Masonic books?

No

In writing/compiling “But I Digress” what did you find to be the most interesting thing you learned/realized?

Most of the book is a collection of material I originally wrote for the New Age/Scottish Rite Journal. Other material consists of speeches, papers, and a play written at various times and for various reasons. The thing I found most surprising was just how much of it there was. I had never collected it or even paid much attention to it before.

Is there any content in ‘But I Digress’ you wish you could change or plan to change in a future version?

There really isn’t anything I plan to change in another edition, and I suspect I should have left out more than I did. The reason I pulled it together what several younger Brethren contacted me from time to time asking about something they had read or someone had told them about. Two of three of them really pushed me to collect all of it, and I thought it would be fun to do.

If readers could only take one thing away from ‘But I Digress’ what would you want it to be?

If readers take any only one thing, I wold have they realized just how vast a topic Freemasonry is, and how it ranges from those whose pleasure is learning and performing the ritual to those who look for the hidden meaning of things. It is an exploration of human potential—it is part of the great quest tradition which always asks the question “Who are you?” The realization that we do not know who we are, and that the discovery of identity is one of the most compelling, interesting, and essential tasks we can undertake—that is what I hope people learn. And that it is a hell of a lot of fun on the path.

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

The book I give most often as a gift is Morals and Dogma. It is amazing how many copies can be found in library sales, estate sales, etc.

I wonder how often those copies of Morals and Dogma go unread, I must admit I’ve a few copies I’ve found at Goodwill stores and as of yet I’ve never read it’s entirety.

Growing up what was your dream career?

Growing up I wanted to be a college teacher. And I got to do that for a while.

Do you have any favorite books/genres/authors that you like to read?

Thorne Smith, P.G. Wodehouse, Albert Pike, Jole Chandler Harris, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and the Harry Potter books.

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

If I could have one wish granted it would be to spend a couple of days in conversation with Albert Pike.

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

If I could say one thing to the Masonic community, it would be not to sell Masonry short. It is an astonishing voyage of discovery if you have the courage to take it.

Thank you so very much for your time Bro. Jim.

 

This interview was conducted via electronic mail between Bro. Tresner and Bro. Ryan Carl Mercer member of Speedway #729 of the Indiana Grand Lodge F&AM on October 26th and 27th 2015 AD 6015 AL

What's new with me, The Masonic Book Club, Warheart and more

So I'm up a few hours early due to some heart burn and thought I'd try and be somewhat productive since I can't go to work for three and a half more hours.

 

 
 

As some of you know I'm a huge fan of Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. When the first book Wizard's First Rule came out I got it through the Science Fiction Book Club and I fell in love with Richard, Kahlan, Zed etc. When the second book, Stone of Tears, came out dad had been diagnosed with cancer. Richard, Kahlan and crew got me through dad's decline in health and his death through the first four books. When the fifth book, Soul of the Fire, came out in 1999 I was lost. My father was dead, I'd withdrawn into myself, I hated the world etc. These books got me through a lot, then one day Goodkind announced he was writing the last. I remember crying every page for the last 100 pages or so of that alleged 'last' book because here my friends were going away, they wouldn't be around to share their stories with me anymore. Again, I was bitter and angry with the world. I was losing my best friends that got me through dad's death!

Apparently Goodkind decided he liked making money, ending the series was a lie, he authored 1 more book in the series called Confessor. Again, I got sad but not as bad because I'd already grieved losing my friends. OH guess what, psych! Still not done writing! So he takes a stab at a spin off series called the Law of Nines and it fails after just the first book. OH wait, there's more! Enter the second Richard and Kahlan series a four book series that ends with Warheart which I'm finishing up now and a prequel novel a few year ago called The First Confessor: The Legend of Magda Searus.

I'm not really feeling Warheart. I'm 70-80% of the way through it and to be honest it just feels like a lot of filler. It just doesn't live up to the original series. Instead of Richard and Kahlan telling me their story, it feels as if some beggar alongside the road on the way to the People's Palace in D'Hara is trying to tell me a story he once heard in a tavern about the former ruler. It is what it is I suppose.


Don't forget, my Masonic Brothers, join us over at http://www.themasonicbookclub.com/ every month for discussing a different Masonic book!