Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Don't Yank My Chain

Don't sell me brotherly love and then give me rules "to protect me" from the Rite of Memphis, or tell me "negroes can't be Masons"

Don't sell me charity and then ensure that I am not able to do charitable work unless I go through the "rulers" of the craft.

Don't sell me friendship and then stab me in the back

Don't sell me truth and then lie to my face, or inhibit my search for the truth

Do you really think that all men are so stupid that they will listen to this and just wag their tails and follow you like "P E T S"?

If you believe that, where are your members?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Recognition and Intellectual Honesty

The issues of recognition are a swamping subject. They need not be. Recognition is a purely political issue and it is important that we as Masons be honest about them. Unfortunately there are all too many instances in which we are not honest about them. We have three separate issues, regularity/irregularity, recognition, and that ugly word clandestine. These words are often used as if they mean the same thing. They do not.

Regularity refers to proper practice of Ritual, organization, and expression. These include those landmarks that everyone talks about, but few have read anything about, and the Constitutions. So, irregularity would refer to those that operate outside the established standards.

Recognition is a political agreement between two sovereign bodies to "recognize" each others regularity and therefore open fraternal communications. An unrecognized body can be entirely regular. This is true as well as an irregular body can be recognized. Obviously something is amiss in Oz.

Clandestine also has nothing to do with regularity. It has to do with an unrecognized body initiating, passing and raising Masons in a jurisdiction "belonging" to another sovereign body.

Prince Hall was considered at one time, irregular, clandestine, and unrecognized. Their practices did not change but they magically became regular and recognized in many states. What gives? How can they be irregular one day and regular the next without changing their practices?

We don't tell our prospects about these issues. I guess that they are an embarassment. If we are honest and ethical about it, what is there to hide?

G-Mason

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

So where do you stand?

Recently the fit has his the shan. So what to do now? The United Grand Lodge of America, of which I am not a member by the way, has upset the "powers that be". Say it isn't so! The public media has actually found out that certain Grand Lodges (Georgia, Alabama etc) refuse to recognize Prince Hall Masonry and still have rules on the books forbidding "negros" from entering Freemasonry. What a terrible thing, what will that do to our public image (sarcasm).

Here is the brass tacks for my gigantic readership (both of you). If your Grand Lodge does recognize the Prince Hall Grand Lodge in your state, then great. Soooooo, what about the Prince Hall Grand Lodges in the South? Can we not recognize them as well? Wellllll, it appears not. Since the Grand Lodges of Georgia and Alabama, and most likely others as well, don't recognize Prince Hall then we cannot step on the bigoted toes by recognizing that Prince Hall Grand Lodge. If we can only recognize one Grand Lodge in any given state then how about we recognize a Grand Lodge that is not a bunch of bigots? Tradition you say! Tradition would have us meet all men on the level, yes Billy Bob that includes "negros". Hey if that doesn't trip your trigger, how about stepping up to the plate and founding a new lodge and coming under the umbrella of the United Grand Lodge of America as they seem to actually allow a lodge to work without dictating to whom free men can talk to. Is that too American for you?

Brethren Where do you stand?

Last question. In all of this hoopla where are these Grand Lodges? Why don't they step forward and prove that they are not as horrible as has been recently portrayed. Explain to all of us how financial irregularities, bigotry, and self aggrandization are to the benefit of the Brethren and the Craft? Stand up and say you piece! Have you nothing to say to the radio station in Alabama?

Peter Gower

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Masonic Education

Since this blog has served mainly as an opportunity for me to vent about the very few things that stand in the way of the Craft I will continue to do so. This time I will address one of my favorite subjects, that being Masonic Education.
It is well known that there is a complete lack of Masonic Education in most lodges. I have heard very heartening stories of lodges that actually do practice and provide education. I have yet to sit in one though.
Masonic Education for the most part is considered rambling on about history, or a quaint presentation about Brother George Washington or another notable figure. I will be the first to state that George Washington is worthy of the respect and admiration that we shower upon him, I have to admit that his life is far from the limits of Masonic Education.
Masonic Education should include the following:
History (sure I love it, but enough is enough)
Philosophy
Political Science and application (no rumbles from the peanut gallery)
Open discussion about the issues of the day
Esoterica (get used to it, if it bothers you why did you go through the degrees?)
Speculation and presentation of research (even if it does not follow the party line tripe of "we developed from stone masons guilds")
Science (astronomy, medical science, endocrinology, physics, microbiology etc)
Art (sculpture, painting, architecture etc)
Music
and this is important Brethren, revive the fine arts of discussion and rhetoric.
This list is of course far from inclusive, add to it and grow. I read of a lodge from the 1900's that dissected an eyeball as part of a Masonic education presentation and learning experience.
Form an astronomy club within your lodge if you can manage a telescope, if you don't have one - get one and learn to use, teach your brothers about it.
a virtuous education, our own endeavors, and the blessings of God
This first part, a virtuous education, is what a Masonic education should address - get to it, or at least get out of the way of those that want it. If you think it makes the meeting boring - stay home. There are brothers in the lodge that find rehashing the same recycled material boring, ever notice how many just don't show up anymore.
The second, our own endeavors, is important as well. When was the last time your lodge did something without patting itself on the back?
Third, and most important - the blessings of God. There is nothing that I can do about that, or even say for that matter other than - pray often and be the best man that you can be and never supplant a brother in any of his laudable pursuits - like improving himself through a virtuous education and his own endeavors.

ever wonder why the Bard seemed so interested in Free Masonry?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Voting with your feet

It is apparent that there will come a time in which many Masons who are not happy with the current state of affairs amongst the Craft will simply vote with their feet. This is a reasonable thing to do. Many Masons will demit from the Scottish Rite and York Rite as their needs have not been answered there. The Light that they sought in the Blue Lodge but did not find was not to be found in one or both of the popular appendent bodies. It appears that the first step will be Brethren leaving the appendent bodies and sticking with their Blue Lodge as a means of fellowship.
Many other Brethren will demit, become NPD or otherwise withdraw from their Blue Lodge. This of course will end their memberships in the various other bodies of Free Masonry as well. To any thinking man the reason is clear for this phenomenon. Good men have come to our door with the promise of Light. What they were promised never materialized.
On the other side of the coin, G-d helps those who help themselves. What have we done to find the Light? Quitting is not going to help matters at all and will hamper the efforts of those Brethren that are struggling to return the glory of Free Masonry, or at least to dispel the mediocrity that has crept into our midst. Free Masonry will be what we make of it. If you are unhappy with the current state of affairs do something! Get involved. Work and you may well be in a position to do something about it. If you ever find that the body is to damaged to repair then continue your work on your own. Regardless of what you choose to do your quest for Light is entirely your responsibility and no man will be able to illuminate your mind and spirit. Although you may gain inspiration from the words or actions of a particular Brother you are still responsible for your own development.
I promise you the information, Light and Masonic Culture that you seek is there waiting patiently for your eager hands to work with it.

Patrick Henry

Friday, February 10, 2006

Rite of the Rose Cross of Gold

Recently I have become aware of a group called the Rite of the Rose Cross of Gold. This organization was composed of active, very active actually, Master Masons in the state of Georgia. From all reports they supported strongly not only their home lodges but all the appendent bodies associated with Free Masonry (York Rite, Scottish Rite etc). They started the RRCG from years of study and the working of the RRCG supported the most basic and dear precepts of Free Masonry. Further, the RRCG made their Blue Lodge economically viable which is something that many lodges are lacking.
This group of dedicated Free Masons were stricken from the books at their lodges by the then Grand Master of Georgia for reasons that the Grand Lodge of Georgia has not given. This was done without a trial but with an ultimatum This ultimatum consisted of a letter sent to members that said in essence, break away and disavow the Rite of the Rose Cross of Gold publically and in writing or you will kicked out. To the credit of Brethren involved, they refused to kneel down to a tyrannical and unmasonic act. They were all removed from their lodges and appendent bodies and kicked out of Free Masonry. So much for the "Free" part.
Work quietly and slowly, you could be next.

Investigations

Guidelines for an investigation committee

1) Don't have too many Brethren take part. A guy can get a little overwhelmed. 2-3 Brothers should be sufficient.

2) Do at least 2 meetings with the Brother that are formal investigation.

3) Invite the petitioner to a social event at the lodge. That way he will have the opportunity to meet more of the Brethren from the lodge and they to meet him.

4) Don't hand out petitions like candy damn it! Do you want to contribute to the demise of your lodge? Don't swing the doors wide open. Just because you do an investigation you are not required to report that this person is the greatest candidate for the degrees of Free Masonry that has ever walked the earth.

5) Dress in a professional manner for the investigation. You are representing your lodge. Dress like you care about it.

6) If the petitioner was good enough to get a petition he at least deserves the respect of getting a phone call within a couple of days of the petition being handed to an investigation committee.

If anyone thinks that their lodge is in a bad or declining state, or for that matter that Free Masonry is in a bad or declining state, ask yourself what you are doing about it? Are you going along to get along? Have you not the sack to stand up and speak? Be diplomatic but speak or stay home and complain. I am tired of hearing it.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Why Guerilla?

I was asked the question of why call it Guerilla Free Masonry. Well let's talk about this. Guerilla action is the only reasonable way to deal with a numerically and technologically superior force. Face it Brethren we are under an occupying force. We are occupied by the forces of mediocrity.

Free Masonry rather than Freemasonry.
We are first and foremost Free! It is nobody's business what you do in your free time. You can organize like minded Brethren and just talk about this stuff, or you can organize like minded Brethren and set a plan in motion.

A standard guerilla tactic in warfare is to use the tools and weapons of the enemy. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that Grand Lodges or mediocre lodge leadership is an enemy to true Free Masonry. Forgive them Lord for they know not what they do. Most of them really feel that they are doing the right thing.
Well use your lodge, use your Grand Lodge! Get about 15 Brothers that you can trust and who share your mindset. Enter the officer's line in your lodge in sequence. What you will end up with in a few short years is a continuity of ideas and mindset rather than changing programs every 12 months. What can you accomplish with 15 years of dedicated work?

Here is a list of a few items that you should implement as soon as possible. You don't have to do all of them at one time but get to work.
1) Start a Lodge Education program, I just visited a lodge that is starting a program. There are 5 or 6 Brothers that are taking it very seriously. I have had the honor of seeing thier first paper for presentation. It is awesome. Ask the newer Masons in your lodge why they wanted to join. In most cases you will find that they seek something that they are not currently getting - that being a quality Masonic Education.

2) Organize a council for the arts. Squeeze a few bucks out of each of the members of your lodge. Find a local artist, you may even be able to find a Brother Mason who is an artist. Commission a painting for your Lodge. Hang it on the wall, you don't have enough art or decoration in there and it looks like crap. Take a look at the House of the Temple for the AASR Southern Masonic Jurisdiction. It is a beautiful edifice.
Purchase a few pieces of art (paintings, sculpture etc) and put them in your lodge where people will see them. Take your time with this but do it, you will find it rewarding.

3) Quit working so hard to get new members. Focus your attentions on the Brothers that are already there. Free Masonry is a service. It is a service to the members. What the Masons get out of the lodge is going to be what they give back to the world. If you give them nothing then nothing of real or lasting value will be given to the community. Give them a quality Masonic experience and the Lodge will become a relevent influence to the community.
Of course this may very well solve that membership problem that everyone is complaining about. Give a quality Masonic experience each and every night that the Lodge is open for anything and the Brothers will start coming back. Candidates will start knocking at the door. You may end up busier than you had planned for. Guard your gate, you must be careful about who comes knocking. You don't have to let them in, even if they are a Lewis.

4) Don't complain about your Grand Lodge. You don't participate in it, so you are not even trying to make a difference. Don't complain about your Lodge if you are not doing a damn thing to make the changes that are needed. Get off your can and do something!

Dues

Okay Brethren, this is upsetting me a little. It is time to open your wallets. Our dues are too low. There is no way around it. Either we raise our dues or the quality of our lodges will continue to decline. Of course this is not an either-or decision. There are other options.
1) Raise the dues! This is the option that I prefer.

2) Keep the dues where they are at and let the quality of the lodge continue to decline.

3) Bring in as many members that you can. Of course why would these members stick around, or even petition a lodge that nobody cares about? It is obvious that nobody cares about the lodge. It is in need of paint, the water stain on the ceiling panels is still there after two years. The outside of the building is beginning to have a certain tenement feel to it.

The choice is ours. Don't blame the Grand Lodge, they have already proven that they can load a lodge down with new members with one day classes and other such methods. (My feelings on this will be reserved for another post).
How much do you pay for other little amenities in your life? More than $10.00 per month? That would be the equivalent of $120.00 dues. Get off your cans and make it happen. Start slow. Add $10.00 to the dues every year until the dues reach a level that will support the lodge.

Now on to the ugly part of this discussion. Why would a guy pay that much? Mediocre events, boring meetings and other tripe offers nothing of value to the member. Why pay for that? If you want the dues to come up then you have to provide something that the Brethren will hold as valuable. If you are not willing to do that. Turn your charter in, you don't really want to have a lodge anyway. I hear the Elks Club is taking in new members, you could always join them.