Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye Old, Hello New

It's that time of year again. A time to watch the ball drop, to be with family and friends, to start anew. This past year has been rather hectic for me. I went on my honeymoon, graduated from law school and preparing for the Bar Exam. I served as Junior Warden through Table Lodges and my first Grand Lodge communication. I memorized the long MC lecture for the second degree. In all, I have had a good year for me.

The past year has also seen many firsts that I thought I would not see for a long time, a Democratic primary with two strong contenders that were not older white men, first a woman vice presidential candidate and the election of the first African-American president in this country's history, former Senator (and soon to be President) Barack Obama.

We have seen economic booms and busts, where huge financial companies like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns failed. We saw the last feudal state dismantled. We saw one of the greatest performances in history as Michael Phelps earned eight gold medals at the Beijing Games and surpassed what was thought to be the impossible record set by Mark Spitz.

We saw Heath Ledger, one of the great actors of our age, pass away at an incredibly young age while one of the greatest actors, Paul Newman, passed on without much fanfare.

In the state of Minnesota, we still don't have a senator. We saw a new bridge rise from the tragedy that was the I-35W Bridge collapse.

The following year promises to be just as crazy and unpredictable, especially for me. I will be serving as the Senior Warden of Corinthian Lodge while I work on my Bar prep. I will be looking for a job in the current market and although it is bleak, I think that I might get lucky in the job hunt. I am incredibly excited for what the new year will bring and I wish all of you and yours the very best.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Freemasonry and the Labor Movement: Ancient Order of United Workmen

This Christmas, I was in West Central Minnesota visiting my in-laws. While I was out there, I went to a restaurant in downtown Montevideo. At the restaurant was a poster for the Ancient Order of United Workmen. Here is a video of what I saw:

I have a special affinity towards the labor movement. My Father is a railroad engineer as was my Grandfather, while my Great Grandfather and my Great Great Grandfather were railroad workers. My Father and Grandfather are union members. My maternal Grandfather was a Local 49 crane operator who helped construct Interstate 35W. During my studies in law school, I took a special interest in employment law and labor law and the connections between them. As you can see, my life has been touched by labor from roots to leaf and I find its growth and development to be fascinating.

I have always held the belief that the origin of Masonry did not lie in a supposed relation to the Templar Knights but were more likely related to the stonemasons’ guilds of Europe. These guild members were the builders of the great cathedrals of the era and represented the best craftsmen of their age. These guilds were the precursors of the modern labor movement and contain many of the same values unions express today, namely, brotherly love and relief. Through a series of essays, I will discuss many of the groups that rose out of the labor movement and their connections to Freemasonry. I decided on AOUW as the first group to discuss while I was visiting my in-laws in western Minnesota.

The Ancient Order of United Workmen (A.O.U.W.) was a fraternal organization created by J.J. (John Jordan) Upchurch, a Freemason and railroad worker, in 1868. It was formed during the Golden Age of Fraternity in the United States during the period after the Civil War. Originally, the A.O.U.W. was designed using ritual similar to that used by Masonic lodges but went a step further by offering death benefits for a brother’s family.

By introducing death benefits, the members of A.O.U.W. received an added bonus over and above the ritual and camaraderie that other fraternities offered at the time. The way a brother joined and received benefits was as follows: a brother of the A.O.U.W. would pay $1 to join the insurance policy. If the brother should happen to die while on the job, the heirs would receive $500 from the fund and the members of the local lodge would be assessed a $1 to replenish the fund. The insurance benefit offered by the A.O.U.W. was the first of its kind in the United States by a fraternal organization as there was no discretion by the members on who would receive the largesse of the lodge.

The A.O.U.W. was built on the theory of working men needing protection for their families. At the time, there was little to no protection afforded to the working class, no unemployment benefits, no pensions or retirement plans and only employee-paid insurance plans (employer paid insurance plans did not arrive until 1911). It was the stated mission in the Preamble of A.O.U.W.: “(1) To embrace and give equal protection to all classes and kinds of labor, mental and physical; to strive earnestly to Improve the moral, intellectual, and social condition of Its members; to endeavor, by wholesome precepts, fraternal admonitions, and substantial aid, to Inspire a due appreciation of the stern realities and responsibilities of life. (2) To create a fund for the benefit of its members during sickness or other disability, and, in case of death, to pay stipulated sums to such persons as may be designated by each member; thus enabling him to guaranty his family against want." (quoted from the Nebraska Supreme Court case, Grand Lodge A.O.U.W. v. Brand, 46 N.W. 95)The seeds of the modern labor movement are obvious throughout this Preamble.

In 1896, there were 341,371 members of the A.O.U.W. However, it, like many groups, began to decline. The demise of the A.O.U.W. came as the insurance policies of each Grand Lodge began to consolidate and became less dependent on the national organization (known as the A.O.U.W. Congress). The consolidated business entities either were sold off to other insurance companies or mutualized into new, unrelated insurance companies. Some of these insurance companies including Pioneer Mutual Life Insurance Company based in Indianapolis, IN (now owned by OneAmerica Financial Partners Inc.)

The Minnesota connection to A.O.U.W. can be found in the laws passed by the State of Minnesota. The State of Minnesota allowed the incorporation of the A.O.U.W. in 1905 under H.F. No. 52 establishing the Grand Lodge and subordinate Lodges as well as the women’s auxiliary group, the Legion of Honor. When I saw the poster in Montevideo, I was at first confused how it got there. However, I have a theory. Montevideo was a hub for rail traffic as it was at the confluence of the Minnesota and Chippewa rivers. There still exists a restored Milwaukee Road depot in Montevideo that is maintained the Milwaukee Road Heritage Center. Therefore, I would assume that there was a Lodge based in Montevideo. I will be contacting the Chippewa County Historical Society regarding the connection the A.O.U.W. had with the city of Montevideo.

This is only a short, cursory look at the A.O.U.W. and doing a full look at this group could fill a book especially in the matter of insurance law (a subject more esoteric than the origins of Freemasonry). I realize that there are some arguments for the connection between Freemasonry and the Knights Templar but I remain unconvinced. The connection between what is the modern union, trade or otherwise, and stonemasons’ guilds seem much more intimately interconnected with its focus on mutual aid. I would extend this connection of Guilds within Freemasonic history. I will continue to explore further the many different labor groups that have a connection with Freemasonry and the Golden Age of Fraternity.

Sources Used:

"Ancient Order of United Workmen", Infomercantile,

Gray, Buckley, "Fraternalism in America (1860-1920)", Phoenix Masonry,

"History of Insurance", Wikipedia,

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to All

I just want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas. May you and yours have a wonderful day. It is truly a wonderful time of the year to be with family. Also, today is the fifth day of Hanukkah, so if you are celebrating this beautiful holiday of commemoration, may you have a wonderful day to be with family.

(For those who do not have a TV, here is a Yule Log.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Parlez-vous français, mon frère?

I was reading the most issue of The California Mason and noticed a very interesting article. The theme of the magazine was food but I noticed a very different topic. The article featured not one but two lodges in California working the ritual in French.

“Wait, what?!”

That’s right. The article, entitled Bon Appétit by Cason Lane, describes these two Lodges, La Parfaite Union Lodge #17 located in San Francisco and Vallee de France #329 located in Pasadena who do their ritual work. This fact piqued my curiosity. I visited the history section of Vallee de France’s and found that originally this Lodge was chartered by an obscure Louisiana Masonic body and then received another charter from the Grande Lodge Symbolique Ecossaise based in Paris. The Lodge was considered clandestine but sought recognition from the Grand Lodge of California which had absolute jurisdiction over conferring the first three degrees.

Vallee de France Lodge finally surrendered its charter from Grande Lodge Symbolique Ecossaise and received a new charter from the Grand Lodge of California with a special dispensation to continue to work in French and to confer the first degree as it had always done. It is really amazing to think that there are Lodges in this country working the ritual in another language. This got me thinking, why don’t more Lodges work in other languages?

Many new immigrant groups live and work in this country seeking the American dream. Although they may know basic words of English, they may not feel completely comfortable with speaking a new and unfamiliar language. Perhaps we, as Freemasons, should allow the creation of Lodges that use the mother tongue of these new immigrant groups.

In my state, we have many new immigrant groups from many continents. They are Hmong, Somalis, Ethiopians, Liberians, Russian, Indian, Latin and South Americans as well as many others. I love living in Minnesota with the mixture of cultures, clothing and languages where there are many choices of food and activities originating from these cultures. However, I sometimes think that Freemasonry has a major hurdle for these groups, language. The ritual is in English. It is okay for me to be a Mason because English is my natural language. Why shouldn’t we extend this ability to understand the ritual to a worthy man who has another mother tongue other than English?

In Minnesota, Norwegian immigrants maintained newspapers that were only in Norwegian until late last century, and created fraternities like the Sons of Norway to preserve their culture. In the Texas Hill Country, ethnic Germans lived in small isolated conclaves preserving their language for generations. Although these languages began to lose their mark on these population, they were still important to those first two generations.

Masonry seeks to be the great tree of morality, we may have different branches but the trunk is the same for all of us. Perhaps allowing brothers to do the ritual in their own language will help to foster this understanding amongst our brothers and keep bonds within new immigrant groups.

Now, here is your French lesson for today.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Live in a Masonic Lodge?!

Two stories have been recently published about living in a Masonic Lodge. Now, I love Masonry as much as the next brother but would I live in a Masonic Temple....hmm....maybe.

Masonic buildings have long served our Craft, but an important question has rarely been asked: What is to be done with our buildings after we have left?

I recently noticed in the Los Angeles Times a story about a Masonic Temple that has now been converted into loft apartments. At first, I was a little taken back. "Live in a Masonic Temple, why would anyone want to do that?"

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Long Beach Temple Lofts is a Masonic building that has been converted into a multiple living space. The building has been renovated in many places to resemble the building in its heyday during the 20's and 30's. Thankfully, both the developers of the Condominium and the Historical Society took a special interest in protecting the integrity of this beautiful building. In fact, the Lobby was preserved to the way it had looked during the 20's including the colors used.

The owners of the building give their idea of transforming the building as "adaptive use". This is the idea that a building which once served one purpose will now serve a new purpose in a changing world. I am somewhat suspicious of this idea but if the building is saved, there is at least some hope.

The second story comes out of Brazil, Indiana. This Masonic Temple was purchased by a college professor. The difference between his purchase and the transformation by the loft builders can be summed up by the words of the Professor Chambers, “I’m a Mason myself, [s]o, when I heard it was going up for auction, I wanted to make sure it went to good hands, and I hoped to do something else with it beyond living in it.” Brother Chambers states that he hopes to house galleries of art and be a studio for artists. I think that this is an auspicious event for this 101 year old Masonic building. A brother will keep and protect this building yet has also adapted the building to a new use. This is a very different idea of "adaptive use".

I still lament losing our buildings like the Scottish Rite in Chicago and other places. However, when I see creative uses of buildings that were once ours, I am able to wipe those few tears away and smile. We may have left the building but our spirit will live on through preservation efforts and creative usages.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Selling the Craft

The Grand Lodge of Michigan has initiated a wonderful website aimed at informing possible candidates seeking light. The website is incredibly easy to navigate and looks great. The website provides a great amount of information and an ability for the potential candidate to contact a local Lodge to petition.

I am completely in favor of this kind of web presence. Grand Lodges, for many years, were fortunate enough to live in a pattern. Brothers would join because their father was a Mason or they knew a brother in the Service. Now, we have a new system in place. Brothers are joining knowing no one who is a member. With websites like this, we are able to communicate with these men.

Another effect that this site has is that it gives Grand Lodges a good model to follow. We, as Masons, need to define our message. For years, our reputation has been defined by others, both for us and against us. We only carried the banner of the square and compass and expected those around us to know who we are. Now, we must define our message in clever new ways. Michigan has an even better tagline than even 2B1ASK1, "Masons, Live Better".

This is a good sign, but we need more. Grand Lodges need to realize that men are stretched for time. We need to show that being a Mason is worth the time put into it. This is a good start and I hope to see more in the future.

If you know any man living in Michigan that is thinking about becoming a Mason, invite them to visit this site.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Masonic Podcasts

After a little prodding by my friend Dean Kennedy from the show, Masonic Central, (and my fear that he might come to Minnesota on a moose)
File:Moose crossing a road.jpg
I have decided to discuss the newest corner of Freemasonry and the Web, podcasting. For those out there that are not in the know, podcasts are radio shows available to download and can be listened to on one's computer, mp3 player or iPod. Podcast topics can range anywhere from NPR to the Onion to just crazy stuff. There are three great shows about Freemasonry that I think are great.

The first show is Masonic Central. As I mentioned before, Masonic Central is a weekly podcast by my friends Dean Kennedy and Greg Stewart. This podcast interviews some of the movers and shakers of the Masonic world. Also, the show is taped live allowing questions to be asked in real time for the guests. I really enjoy this show and look forward to it every week. By the way, on December 20th, Brother Dean and Brother Greg will attempt a live Table Lodge. It should be a fun event.

The second show I would like to discuss is X-Oriente. X-Oriente is a show hosted and produced by Eric Diamond. This show was my first foray into "E-Masonry" and really got me interested in blogging. Brother Diamond produces a fantastic show about many topics within Freemasonry, religion, West Virginia, etc. I really enjoy this show and now that Brother Diamond has spent his time in the East, he has stated that he will produce more shows.

The final podcast I would like to discuss is the podcast produced by the Grand Lodge of Ohio. A Grand Lodge producing a podcast is essential to keeping Freemasonry going. As men entering Freemasonry are younger than before, they will be expecting their Lodges and their Grand Lodge to be web-savvy. The fact that Ohio has taken it upon itself to enter this world is auspicious for the continuation of the Craft.

Subscribing to a podcast is incredibly easy. I personally use iTunes, but you can use a lot of different podcatchers (programs that get podcasts) that are available. First, install iTunes (if you haven't already done so). Next go to the Advanced tab in iTunes and click on Subscribe to Podcast:
and enter the URL for the podcast. The URL's for three shows I mentioned are:
Masonic Central:
Grand Lodge of Ohio:

Check out all of these shows especially if you are interested in recent news about Freemasonry.


JustaMason, who writes the great Just a Mason blog, reminded me of the fourth podcast that I was going to write about, the Digital Freemason. If you want a detailed description, read Justa's comments.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mischke Broadcast Off the Air

Monday December 8th in the year 2008 will be remembered as a sad day by Mischke fans around the globe. For those that do not know who Tom "T.D." Mischke is, I will give a brief summary of the brilliance of this man's radio broadcast. I would describe the Mischke Broadcast as a stream-of-consciousness circus with Tom Mischke as Master of Ceremonies. His show was free-form, spontaneous and fun; it was not the typical broadcast of liberal and conservative pundits barking into a microphone but rather a lyrical tribute to good radio.

Sadly, on Saturday, Mischke reported that he had been laid off by the station. Others had also been laid off due to budget cuts. Minnesota has lost a rare gem of entertainment and I am completely shocked by the lack of regard for this man's work by the station. He was not even allowed to give a proper sendoff. If you were fortunate enough to hear the brilliance of the show, I am sure you know why I am so upset.

I will post the podcast link as I have read that they will keep his last five days of shows available until the end of this week.

Also, there exist many fan sites for Mischke but my favorite is the Madness of Mischke. There you will find the Mischke poem on the front page that represents exactly what his show meant to people. (you can hear the poem read here) Mischke, thanks for the wonderful years you have given this community and I hope your voice will be heard again soon.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hennepin Center for the Arts Featured

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The Minneapolis Star Tribune has published a story about the Hennepin Center for the Arts. According to the article, it was originally built, in 1889, to serve as a Masonic Temple for 11 lodges. Currently, the building serves as a center for dance, theatre and choral productions.

When I have gotten the chance to see the building, it still has a grandeur that is not seen in downtown Minneapolis. Although the building may not be used to house Masonry, it still stands among the great relics of the age. One comment that I found on point reflected on the fact that most of the buildings of that era had been lost including the Metropolitan building. Yet this building still stands as a testament to Minnesota's Golden Age of Fraternity.

Minnesota is known for its arts. Whether it be the Guthrie, the Orpheum or many of the other playhouses and theaters in this town, the arts are everywhere. Many hit productions were created in this building including "How to Talk Minnesotan" and "Church Basement Ladies". Although many brothers may take offense at a Masonic building being converted into another use, I really see this as an opportunity to preserve a piece of our history, a treasure that was in operation as a Masonic building for 58 years and now has been protected for many years.

If you have a chance and you are in the Minneapolis area, go to 6th St and Hennepin. Also, if you want a better view of the second floor, go through the skyways to the Pioneer building towards Hennepin Avenue. The second and third floors are very visible from this vantage point.

The Question Must be Asked: Is our Masons Learning?

Masonic Education is essential to a well-run Lodge. Sadly, Masonic Education becomes the last thought in a meeting which may have been hours in length after business has been discussed. Thankfully, in Minnesota, Lodges are encouraged to give LEO programs during business meetings. LEO programs don't have to be a protracted experience. In fact, five to ten minutes may be sufficient in a Lodge. Resources abound on the Internet for Masonic Educational programs.

For a litany of Masonic talks, visit The Digital Freemason. Brother Scott finds really good Masonic materials that can be read in around ten minutes. Also, Brother Scott posts the text versions of all of his shows. I would also suggest subscribing to the podcast as Brother Scott has put together a great presentation for these papers.

Pietre Stones Review of Freemasonry lists a great number of Masonic papers that could be presented in Lodge. Although these resources can range from very short to very long, there are a great number of these papers that can be presented in less than thirty minutes by some of the preeminent thinkers in Masonry today.

The Masonic Service Association of North America or MSANA has a great list of education publications for a small fee. These papers range from historical to the philosophical to symbols and symbolism. Lodges should make the investment to purchase these writings as they are very informative and incredibly inexpensive.

Also, for those who do not know, there has been a new Masonic Research Society known as the Masonic Society initiated for the study of Masonic themes. The Society will also be publishing a magazine focused on Masonic issues and research topics. It will be entitled the Journal of the Masonic Society. Brother Chris Hodapp, writer of the book Freemasons for Dummies, is serving as the Editor-in-Chief of this magazine. I would suggest that anyone who is eligible to join the Society should do so (Information is here). Even if you are not able to join the Society, you should at least subscribe to the Journal as it is a very enlightening publication.

Now, with all these resources, you should always give attribution to all the work that these brothers have written if presented in Lodge and respect copyright laws when applicable. Although some brothers disagree with me, I still think even a few minutes of Masonic Education can go a long way in giving brothers that intellectual spark to be active participants in the Lodge.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Guest Article at The Middle Chamber

Silence Dogood at The Middle Chamber blog asked me to give my thoughts concerning what the Craft can do to sustain itself into the future. If you haven't read The Middle Chamber, you really should. Silence Dogood has many insightful articles and he shows his dedication to the Fraternity with every word he writes. If you want to read my article, click here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Prince Hall Monument Approved

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(Pictured above: Prince Hall's grave at Cobb's Hill)

According to the Boston Globe, the city of Cambridge will be honoring Prince Hall with a monument. E. Denise Simmons, the mayor of Cambridge, had, in the past, offered the name of Prince Hall as a possibility for a street name. Now, she has succeeded in honoring the founder of Prince Hall masonry with a monument. Currently, the city is taking design ideas for the monument which will have a final price tag of $100,000. It is the city's hope to place the monument this time next year.


I was extremely struck by what the mayor hopes to see represented by the monument. According to records of speeches by Prince Hall, he mentioned his desire "to extend the hand of fellowship"; in like manner, the statue will hold out his hand in this gesture. I think what the city of Cambridge has undertaken is truly laudable. We should recognize the work that Prince Hall accomplished in helping Freemasonry spread among historically unrepresented minorities.


As it has been reported recently, the Grand Lodge of North Carolina has extended its hand to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina and both now recognize each other. While there are brothers with legitimate concerns regarding recognition amongst PHA Grand Lodges and mainstream Grand Lodges, I think that these events are a start in bringing together those smaller points of light so that Freemasonry can shine as a beacon to the world.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mentoring and Membership: Cali Style

I was looking through the winter 2008 issue of The California Mason and found some very interesting articles on the Entered Apprentice. In fact, most of the focus of this issue looked at the Entered Apprentice and its importance in Masonry. One of the articles that caught my attention concerned how men are engaged at the 1st step in their Masonic journey.

“A Record Year” by Terry Mendez looks into what California is doing for the newest brothers of the Fraternity. According to Brother Mendez, 1,951 Entered Apprentices were initiated in the state of California last year; this is the greatest number initiated in 20 years. The article presents a great list of ideas that successful Lodges are implementing to help introduce new brothers into the Craft. A few ideas struck me in this article. One of them was having the new brother mentored by a brother his age. This plan is interesting in its simplicity and its possible effectiveness.

According to the article, Huntington Beach Lodge #380 has begun this fascinating mentoring model. Additionally, a brother is assigned as a mentor even before the petition is submitted. I find this to be an intriguing case of mentoring from start to finish. Many brothers entering Freemasonry today have less of a connection than those chosen previously. Instead of stories of fathers bringing in sons or friends bringing in friends, it is common that a brother learns about his connection to Freemasonry from a grandfather, an uncle or learns about the Craft from a book. Mentoring is essential to assist these guys in being acclimated to Lodge life and to learn what to expect and what is expected of them.

As I have written before, I have recently commenced a mentorship program whereby the newest Master Mason helps the newest Entered Apprentice. In this way, the newest Master Mason may not possess the greatest amount of Masonic knowledge but he does have a similar excitement as the candidate. Also, the youngest Master Mason is in the best position to appreciate a new brother is experiencing during the process.

Another great practice initiated by Temecula Catalina Island Lodge #524 is to have a brother do pre-application interview with a petitioner accompanied by his spouse so the applicant and his spouse receives a family-oriented awareness of the Fraternity. I am sure that this procedure can also be done with significant others as well but it is important that both the brother and his significant other understand what Freemasonry is and how it will affect both of them. In fact, I think a major change in Freemasonry is the number of family-oriented activities that are done within a Lodge, including open installations, picnics, holiday get-togethers and so forth.

I applaud the California Grand Lodge on focusing most of its articles on the Entered Apprentice. We, as Lodges, must be aware of the first impression that we give potential candidates. As William Hazlitt, the famed British writer, once noted, “First impressions are often the truest, as we find (not unfrequently) to our cost when we have been wheedled out of them by plausible professions or actions. A man's look is the work of years, it is stamped on his countenance by the events of his whole life, nay, more, by the hand of nature, and it is not to be got rid of easily.”

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Doors are Open, Take a Peek

Are we becoming open and available or are we just revealing everything? I have been trawling Google News about Freemasonry and I have noticed a recurring theme: Masonic Lodges are opening their doors and letting the public see who we are. Here is my take: Good. No, no, that's not it, ahh... finally.

Why do I say this? It had been years upon years that Freemasons were the cornerstone of society, builders of great structures, laborers seeking to improve the world around them. For years, just doing the work was enough. Time has not been as kind to us as we had wished.

During the 1960's and 70's, Freemasonry was colored in a hue of dust. Baby Boomers did not join Freemasonry in the numbers that their fathers or grandfathers did. As such, Freemasonry entered a period of decline where there were only a few to mind the shop. Grand Lodges were scrambling to find ways to stop the hemorrhaging including One Day Classes, lowering the minimum age, etc. but these seem to have missed the mark as many men would demit or be dropped from the rolls. Perhaps opening the doors will give men a different and better reason to join: Social Status.

For every generation, a major reason to join Freemasonry was as a status symbol. Freemasons should be proud of their Masonic affiliation. I have always been open about my Masonic affiliation (one of my favorite Masonic moments is when I am on the train wearing my Masonic ring and receiving looks of astonishment.) and proud to explain what being a Freemason means to me. Masonry has never been secret and has never been quiet. We are loud, boisterous and proud to be an integral part of the community. We may have to take our lumps from Anti-Masons but it is better than the alternative, irrelevance.

For a list of the articles:
Worchester News

Birmingham Post

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Corinthian Lodge #67 Officer Installation '08

Last Sunday, Corinthian Lodge #67 held its annual Officer Installation which was made open to the public. It has been a whirlwind year of Masonic activity for our Lodge, thanks in large part from the efforts of immediate Past Master, Bill DeJohn. Retrospectively, Corinthian Lodge has done incredible work, ranging from cleaning the Lodge Hall to getting us involved with Community Action Council where we made substantial donations to it, the Masonic Cancer Center, and other various smaller charities. Worshipful Brother Bill has set us down a well defined path for continued growth in the Lodge.

This year, brother Paul Hardt was installed Master of the Lodge. He has many great plans for our Lodge and has the confidence of this brother that we will continue the great work that Corinthian has been a part of in this community. He is committed to improving the relationship between our local Eastern Star Chapter, Myrtle Chapter #13 and the Lodge and will participate as equal partners in many activities and charity opportunities that will become available over the coming year. What really struck me was his speech on Freemasonry being necessary to our world. I am paraphrasing but WB Hardt stated that while the vestiges of religious and political intolerance still exist and have become emboldened, it is Freemasonry that this world needs to promote tolerance and understanding.

In addition to WB Paul being installed as Master, Steve and I were installed as the Wardens for this year and although I speak for myself, I will try as hard as I can to assist the Worshipful Master in continuing the prosperity of this Lodge. I am very excited for the future of this Lodge.

In attendance at the Installation was Right Worshipful Brother, John Cook , the current Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, AF&AM (pictured above with WB Hugh who gave a wonderful Knights Templar flag ceremony in full uniform). RWB Cook gave a powerful speech concerning Freemasonry and the strengths that our Lodge has in continuing the traditions that have been laid down before us.

Our Installing Officer was Worshipful Brother Bill Callister, who just last year, was presented with the Hiram Award for his dedication to Minnesota Freemasonry. WB Bill has shown his dedication, time and time again to Minnesota Masonry and has always been a dear friend of Corinthian Lodge. Sadly, the tape on my video camera ran out before we were able to get both RWB Cook’s and WB Hardt’s stirring speeches.

Here is the video from part of the Installation (For all those concerned about having a Masonic function on Sundays, in my Grand Lodge, we are allowed to hold public Officer Installation on Sundays).

In all, I am extremely excited and confident that Corinthian Lodge #67 will continue to grow and prosper and I believe that WB Hardt will make a great Master this year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More Election Coverage?!

Today is election day at Corinthian Lodge #67. I have written this article in anticipation of my election to the Senior Warden's chair. A little presumptuous, I admit, but my Lodge follows the old adage, "As Tradition Prevails." It is very curious in Masonic elections how there is rarely a fight among successors to a chair. For those not in the know, officers usually follow a line whereby the brother in the Junior Warden's chair advances to the Senior Warden and the Senior moves to the Master's chair.

After coming out of an extremely contentious political season, it is almost reassuring that officers are placed in a line without much change. It is a calming sense that life may change rapidly but there is still comfort in life moving one chair at a time (except in my case where I bounced one chair over, from Senior Steward to Junior Warden, ahhhh!!!).

So, if you are reading this post, then I have been elected Senior Warden for year 2009 and will be extremely excited to serve with Bro. Paul Hardt (soon to be Worshipful Brother Hardt), who will be installed as the new Worshipful Master of the Lodge and Brother Steve Bernhardt as Junior Warden. We will have our open installation on Sunday, November 23 at 4 pm. I also would like to congratulate the other brothers that have been elected or appointed and I hope we have a fun and eventful year.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Talkin' 'Bout my Generation: Bridge the Gap

Well, it was about time for me to disagree with someone of my generation about how the world works. An article by Jarina D'Auria at CIO, entitled In Defense of Gen Y Workers has shown what happens when a Generation Gap is exploited. She launches an assault on 9 to 5 schedules, that the use of technology is not being used for its greatest potential and that older generations just don't get "it". I really believe that this is the wrong approach in both employment and in Freemasonry. We, each one of us, must agree on who best can work and how the work will be performed.

The article includes many harshly worded insults aimed at the past generation of workers. She seeks to expand the divide with rhetoric, including using the terms, "old folk" and "slackers". Do we really want this divide to exist in our workplaces or in our Lodges. It is true that the youngest generation of Masons is addicted to technology. (My family bought our first computer when I was eight years old.) I use Facebook, Twitter, and I obviously blog but why should this make me better than a man 20, 40, or 60 years older than myself?

Lodges are experiencing a generation gap but in my experience, it is not as easily defined nor perceptible, just as in employment. Many men joining lodges today are not from one age group; in fact, my Lodge has raised Boomers, Xers, and Millennials in somewhat equal proportions. It is important that we, as brothers, understand that there may be friction between these men yet we still can get things done. When I read articles like this that belittle earlier generations, I really see injustices done. I may not like the phrase, "it has always been done this way" but I can still take into consideration that brother's experience on the subject and seek a compromise.

Here is my proposition to Lodges and their officers: understand what each generation expects from you. My Lodge runs a website but also mails out newsletters to its members. Why? Many of our members do not use computers and would still like to stay informed of what the Lodge is doing. Flexibility is the key to survival. Lodges need to be flexible to the needs of the brethren and most especially, to bridge the gap with the cement that binds us all together and allows men of many ages to call each other brother.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Masonic Matrix: Another Way to Find Lodges

Corinthian 67

There seems to be a new outgrowth of Masonic Lodge locator websites cropping up on the Internet these days. Today's entry is Masonic Matrix. Masonic Matrix allows users to submit their Lodge information. Masonic Matrix does have the advantage of allowing the submission of Lodges from the whole of North America. Also, those Lodges outside of North America can be added through the contact form under the contact tab. Masonic Matrix also allows Grand Lodge headquarters and Shrine Temples to be identified. Masonic Matrix does not allow as much information as Lodge Tracker, such as the ability to post meeting times, Masonic affiliation and a Lodge building photo. Yet, Masonic Matrix allows users in Canada, and other countries to post their Lodge location and website. Both Lodge Tracker and Masonic Matrix present a very interesting proposition in Freemasonry, that brothers should travel to Lodges wherever they go and have the information they need to find them.


I am hoping that with the growth of this social networking style to Lodge locating, the desire to travel from one Lodge to another will increase. It is an unfortunate reality that brothers do not travel to other Lodges. I am sadly within this group of non-travelers, but I promise, "I can change!"  However, with the increase of these websites, I think brothers can feel that they are truly a part of the greater Masonic world. (Remember to check with your individual Grand Lodge about traveling as the policies differ from Grand Lodge to Grand Lodge, especially in matters of international Masonic travel.)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Washington, DC Now on Google Street View

I was looking at Google Maps today and noticed a new area has been added to the Street View function, Washington, DC. That's right, the Federal City can now be explored from the street. If you're like me and have been to DC, you probably did not get to see everything that you wanted to when you were there. Now is your chance to check out our Nation's capital. I will post some interesting Masonic sites and their respective Wikipedia pages.

Washington Monument

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George Washington Masonic National Memorial

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House of the Temple

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Albert Pike Statue

View Larger Map

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Talkin' 'bout My Generation: Rock the Vote?!

I will not be talking about the new political climate. (What, no!!!!) Fine, maybe a little. As everyone is doubtlessly aware, the United States of America has completed their 2008 election cycle and has elected Senator Barack Obama to serve as the next president. I am sure that most of my readers were like me, glued to their televisions until the election was called.

The day after the election, I was reading different articles to learn what transpired and ran across something interesting from MSNBC. Melissa Dahl wrote of the young voters having a record turnout of 24 million, more than had shown up during the 2004 election. (Reported somewhere between 49.3 and 54.5 percent turnout) She writes that Millennials, in this election, bucked the common trend of mirrored results with those over 30 in favor of Senator Obama by a margin of 2-1. However, the most significant part of her article is not how they voted for but the way that this generation thinks and learns. She cites Morley Winograd, writer of Millennial Makeover, who believes that Generation Y determines truth through consensus, learning by communicating with their peers in many different electronic media. However, those that disagree are accepted into the fold, their ideas incorporated into the "common knowledge" to find that consensus which the generation desires. It is this broad sense of unification that could make or break the way that Freemasonry accepts this new generation of brothers.

Freemasonry is a fraternity, a fraternity that prides itself on the concept of Brotherly Love. If the author is correct, one of the first steps that our Institution needs to bring in these candidates is to understand this new thought pattern. Now, I am not saying that we have to agree on all beliefs but I think if we open ourselves to discuss new concepts in Freemasonry, we will make our Fraternity stronger and more accepted in society.

I believe that the MIllennials mirror those same beliefs that the Greatest Generation had, beliefs in civic responsibility and building up of social institutions. This could fortuitous in the rebirth of Fraternalism in this country, with its dedication to civil service. I think that this higher voter turnout is auspicious for our Fraternity, our cities but most of all, our country. I just hope we can guide this enthusiasm for civil service within our Fraternity and become the pillar of society that we should be.


I have decided to post both of the candidates' speeches from Tuesday night as I found them to be the two classiest speeches delivered in years. It is my belief that in 2008, America really had no bad choices to make between these candidates. They represent the same class of statesman that have always guided our country in trying times. I would like to congratulate the American people, my people, for picking two men that represent that consummate politician which is so rare these days. Now, no more political stuff from Nick. (collective sigh of relief)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ft. Snelling Nat'l Cemetery Cornerstone Laying, I had the privilege of taking part in a cornerstone laying for the Masonic Memorial at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. The National Sojourners Chapter #25 was instrumental in bringing this monument to fruition and I congratulate them on all their hard work. It is essential that we remember our veterans, Mason and Non-Mason alike, and I believe that this memorial will serve as a great representation of patriotism. IMG00015 IMG00016

My maternal Grandfather is buried in Fort Snelling National Cemetery as he served in the US Army sweeping for mines in the Korean War. After he returned from Korea, he became a Mason and a Shriner. I am fortunate to still have his Shriner fez. Visiting the Cemetery is a stark reminder of what my Grandfather and many others have done for my country and I am truly thankful of his and all other veterans' service in defending freedom.


If you live in the Minnesota and would like to visit the Masonic Memorial at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, enter the main gates and look for the area known as "Flag Avenue" near the main Visitor Center. It is truly a beautiful monument and represents many of the good qualities in our Fraternity.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pop Culture and Freemasonry: Angels and Demons Teaser Trailer

Today, my wife pointed me to the new Teaser Trailer for Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. Unless you have been living under a boulder, I am sure you have at least heard of or have read this book. Dan Brown spins a tale of the Illuminati threatening the delicate balance between faith and science. As can be seen in the trailer, Tom Hanks is back as Robert Langdon, the Harvard Professor of Symbology (and mullets?) to solve more mysteries in the Eternal City, Rome.

As Chris Hodapp reported, Doubleday has entered panic mode as Dan Brown has yet to present a manuscript for his Masonic thriller, The Solomon Key, after 5 years of "working on it." Here is my guess: Dan Brown had the intention of writing his book until he saw the disgusting amounts of money that he would be paid from movie royalties and found a nice beach chair to began tanning writing. Here is hoping that Dan Brown doesn't get a nasty sunburn.

(Why did I post this video? Internet Superstar was one of my favorite video podcasts available but sadly, Martin Sargent has been laid off from Revision3 as well as many others. I am posting this as a tribute to this funny, irreverent show.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pop Culture and Freemasonry: Sen. Obama Infomercial

Freemasonry seems to show up in the strangest places. I was watching the Senator Obama Presidential Primetime Special today and I noticed the most interesting Masonic reference. During the final moments of the taped portion, there was a Shrine Go-Kart Club hanging out in their cars. That's right, Shriners. Those guys seem to show up in the strangest places.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Brother Sues, Ain't Nothin' New

As we all know, Frank Haas of West Virginia is suing the Grand Lodge of West Virginia for a variety of reasons. I have heard many brothers who believe that Freemasons do not sue other Freemasons. Sadly, however, this is not the case.

I happened to find an article from the New York Times concerning a brother that had been expelled from the Fraternity. Robert Kopp was a twenty-three year member of Strict Observance Lodge #94 where he had served as Past Master. According to the article, Kopp had written an angry letter to the Grand Master, William Sutherland. It was recommended and approved that Kopp be expelled at the next Grand Lodge Communication which subsequently occurred.

Kopp sued the Grand Lodge for reinstatement but his "appeal" was denied. The Judge believed that it was not in the purview of his Court to review the decisions of Masonic tribunals. The Judge stated that "[w]hatever right he obtained, he obtained from the society itself." Kopp was not allowed to continue his suit.

What this article shows is that there really does exist the threat of suit by a brother against a Grand Lodge. The article in question was published in 1900, more than 108 years ago. The difference between this case and the Haas case is that unlike Kopp, Haas's suit will be allowed to continue. We must not be surprised that brothers suing Grand Lodges is new and will need to be planned for accordingly.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Image:NationalCashRegister.jpgLast night was incredibly busy at Corinthian Lodge #67 in good old Farmington. As I have reported earlier, it was my turn as Senior Deacon to present the M.C. lecture for the Fellowcraft degree. This was my first opportunity to present this lecture to the Lodge and I think it went really well. However, there was more than my memorization work. Brother Dan did a fantastic job with his Proficiency Exam. I really think that Brother Dan did so well because he and his mentor, Brother Wayne, worked diligently and really "brought the noise". Congratulations Brother Dan and Brother Wayne on a job well done. Also, WBro Joe presented the first lecture without prior notification and did a fantastic job on such short notice.

Ritual is what separates Masonry from every other organization. Ritual gives Freemasonry its charm, mystery and enlightenment. When I joined my Lodge, I really didn't know much about the ritual. I had read some of the information online about Freemasonry in general but really did not fully understand the ritual until after I had to memorize my Entered Apprentice exam. Once I began to memorize Masonic ritual, I couldn't stop. Which led me to take on the extremely challenging task of committing to memory the Senior Deacon's long lecture. After a year of intense study, I was finally ready for primetime. I still have some bugs to work out but I have jumped the hardest bar, the first. Also, I've found out that since I am someone who can recite this monologue, I am going to be in demand. I guess it is time to be a traveler.

I want to thank RWB James McNeely for also being in attendance at our Second Degree and for his kind words about our Lodge. It is really nice to see a Grand Lodge officer in Lodge to see the hard work that the brothers put in each and every meeting. Well, I have set the bar for myself. Hopefully, I can keep up memorizing all the lectures.

Update: RWB McNeely maintains a great blog about his travels in the SE Area of Minnesota (of which Farmington is a member). You can find it at

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Acting 101?!

Well, as I have written before, I have taken it upon myself to memorize the M.C. Lecture for the 2nd degree. I have had months of preparation to get all 35 minutes to be as tight and clean as I can.

Tuesday will be Corinthian Lodge #67's Fellowcraft degree of the fall and I am just the tiny bit nervous. Being the reader type, I needed some resources to be as effective as I could be in my performance. Thankfully, I have found some interesting articles concerning acting.

The first article is entitled, "Improve Your Acting - 10 Reasonably Good Tips!" by William G. Craig. The article has some very useful tips for a man, like myself, who has never taken an acting class and is just learning the ropes. Here is a sampling of tips that I will use:

1. Know your script. Read, re-read and then read again, and not just your own lines. From this foundation you can go on to identify the reason for your lines, this will help you react with the right lines and make remembering easier.

2. Listen actively, you should give the impression that what your character is hearing is purely of that moment. Resist the temptation to be quick with your lines, just to prove you know them, it is a conversation after all.

4. Learn to breath, practice 20 minutes a day. Inhale as deeply as possible and exhale for twice the amount of time you spent inhaling (i.e. inhale 15 seconds exhale 30 seconds). This will help pre-audition stress and stage fright.

The second article is entitled, "Five and a Half Acting Tips Not Taught in Drama Class" by Ruth Kulerman. I found this article to be much more helpful on actually delivering a good performance. I will paraphrase some of what I have to remember from this . (I suggest all brothers that are performing ritual to learn at least these five rules.)

1. The Comma

Within the lecture are many commas. In writing, commas often represent a pause in the sentence for the reader but in acting, they can be represented by many vocal inflections.

1.5 The Pause

Be careful not to think that a pause during speaking represents anything other than a pause. A pause represent something important when used properly and should only be used sparingly. (Imagine, Captain...James...T...Kirk...)

5. Don't go arm or leg crazy

When a normal person talks, do they fling their arms around? Simple answer...No! An actor should act natural. What, what, what?! I am going to be sad to say this but I have been a part of this bad habit. Flinging my arms around is a defense mechanism so that brothers don't see that I am nervous; it is similar to when a speaker sways back and forth.

The point of all these tips is to remember that when we have new brothers going through the degree work, they are expecting good degree work. I know that some brothers believe that we are merely bit players but many brothers do take the ritual seriously.

Yet, it is more than how serious we perform the ritual for ourselves. We must also remember that the time we present the ritual to a brother will be his first and last time as a candidate for the degrees. Give these brothers what they deserve, a great show. As Shakespeare most famously wrote, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." Hopefully, with a little bit of work, we can all be good players, in ritual and life.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mentoring, "Help a Brother Out"

Mentoring is, without a doubt, the reason that I have been so excited about being a Freemason. Whether it was learning ritual or helping out in a service project, it was my brothers around me that have kept me interested and focused on being a better man and a better Mason.

When I first started down the path of Masonry, I had a guide to help me. Don is a great Past Master who gave me the kind of encouragement that I needed to be serious and excited about my new path into Masonry. We would spend hours at his house, learning the memorization, absorbing the lessons that Masonry teaches and becoming involved in the Lodge. Don kept me focused even when I was busy with my first year at Law School. Now I am Junior Warden in my Lodge and am more excited about Masonry every time I am at Lodge.

I am fortunate to come from a Lodge and a Grand Lodge that believes in the idea of encouraging the newest Masons to get up and support their community and their Lodge. Why? Well there are two main reasons:

1. It keeps brothers active

2. It makes them feel like they are a part of the Lodge.

When the brothers are engaged and want to participate in Lodge activities, the Lodge improves. Also, it is the hope that the brother that feels engaged in the Lodge will bring in his friends. When a brother brings in his friends, the Fraternity grows and becomes better for it. The idea of the Lodge is "to make good men better" and if we as Lodge can show that we are relevant, I hear on the message boards and other blogs that we should "guard the West Gate" as if those that preach this idea are unblemished.

A new and very interesting experiment that I am trying is taking our newest Master Mason and having him work with our newest initiate. The idea is to get that momentum that a new brother brings and capture that energy. This bottled lightning is what gives our Fraternity its glow, its desire to give to our communities.

For more information, I would look to MWB Neddermeyer's Cinosam who has a great series of slides and powerpoints on the subject of Mentoring and how a Lodge should put a program together. Mentoring is the key to success in get brothers to feel that they belong in the Lodge. Let's make it happen!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Three Pillars is down... ahhhhhhh!!!!

Today, I attempted to go on the Three Pillars discussion board but all I found was this. Ahhhh!, what am I supposed to do? I feel like Homer when he was denied beer and TV:

If anyone knows what is going on over there or you have contact info, please post it in the comments.

Three Pillars is back online.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Liberal Mason, Conservative Mason ... Nope, Master Mason


As the boulder to November 4th falls faster and faster down the hill, the interest in the campaign is heating up everywhere. This interest has even hit the Masonic blogs and boards.

I was a Political Science major in college and in my opinion, political discussions are essential to a good society. And I won't lie, I love, love, love talking politics. Politics is a game and I love watching from the sidelines like John Madden, oops, I mean Al Michaels. Jeers, cheers and stupid plays make my day when I am watching C-Span or Jim Lehrer's Newshour. Thankfully, I am a Freemason, where I am forced to take a break from political discussions.

When I am in Lodge, I am required to hang up my political "guns" and talk of other things with my brothers. No debates, except on food stands or lodge activities, allow my mind to become clear and to break off those superfluities of my life and seek something that is not political but spiritually and intellectually satisfying. I enter the Lodge, not as a liberal brother or a conservative brother, but just a brother.

Now I am not going to Pollyannaish about brothers "leaving their politics at the door." All men have their opinions, whether it be who is the best candidate to what should be served at the Table Lodge and it is almost impossible to keep these opinions completely at bay from our minds. My Lodge meets on the first and third Tuesday which makes it more difficult for all my brothers to keep their opinions quiet or in the least, in a hushed voice, but we are trying to come to the Lodge on the level as equals.

When I enter the Lodge, I try to drop everything and think about the ritual, planning activities and everything that is not a part of my political life. I am going to borrow a thought from W. Bro. Kuhlke during his presentation to our Lodge about order and geometry. I am paraphrasing here, but he stated that our ritual, when done correctly, is very rigid in Geometric terms and when performed precisely, it presents a calmness to our minds because of its presentation of order. Outside the Lodge is chaos yet inside, there is peace.

My thoughts, if you have a political opinion and you are blogger or poster on message boards, go ahead and voice them. However, before you pass the Tyler on your way to the Lodge Room, hang up your sword, focus on self-improvement and think about the relative tranquility you will experience inside the Lodge. If you wondering what my political views are, just imagine that I agree with you. That is what I call holding my cards to the chest. (Sound of cards hitting the floor (Q♣ Q♦ K♣ K♠ A♣)) Crap, well, at least, it's two pair.


Brother Steve, the Senior Deacon of my Lodge, has pointed me to an incredible video of a talk delivered by psychologist Jonathan Haidt concerning what he believes is the real difference between liberals and conservatives. It is incredibly insightful. Thanks Steve for finding this great video.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I Have Been Published...

I have been published in the Minnesota Mason for my article, From Father to Son... but sadly, there is one piece missing. The article published did not list my Father and Grandfather's names. My father's name is Rick Johnson and my Grandpa's name is Dick Johnson. My Grandpa's mother Lodge is Fidelity Lodge #39. I want to thank my Grandpa for pushing me to get the article included in the Masonic paper and my Dad for being a willing participant in me telling his story.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Rededication of Masonic Cancer Center's Cornerstone for 50th Anniversary

On Saturday, October 4th at 1:30 pm, the Grand Lodge officers will be rededicating the cornerstone that was placed 5o years ago. As I have reported before, Minnesota Masonic Charities will donate a record 65 million dollars over the next ten years. This is the largest single donation given to the University of Minnesota. If you would like to attend, please meet at the A. I. Johnson room on the ground floor of the McNamara Alumni Center at 1:30 pm. Officers and Past Masters should wear their appropriate apron and guests are welcome. It should be an exciting day for all who will participate.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My First Anniversary in Duluth

As some of you may know, my wife and I went to Duluth to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. Duluth is one of the most beautiful towns in the United States. Whether taking a stroll along the Lakewalk or the Glensheen Mansion, the city seems to present a different place in time; the beauty of the Old West mixed with the trappings of the modern age.

While I did not go to any Masonic lodges or participate in any other Masonic events, I did take some photos of the Masonic Center in downtown Duluth.

The Duluth Masonic Center houses many organizations including 4 Lodges (Palestine #79, Ionic #186, Euclid #198, Glen Avon #306) the Scottish Rite Valley of Duluth, and a Demolay Chapter. Glen Avon Lodge #306 has a very good description of the Masonic Center in Duluth including the removal of four onion shaped towers that originally adorned the building and the antique lodge equipment still in use today. There is also another Masonic Temple in Duluth but sadly, I did not get photos. I am hoping one day to actually visit a Lodge in Duluth but until such time, the facade will just have to do.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pop Culture and Freemasonry: Bones

I know that I have previously blogged about the show "Bones" and the recurring villain, the Widow's Son Killer. No, our favorite blogger at the "Burning Taper" is safe from this serial killer. Apparently, the Widow's Son killer, aka Gormogon, murders members of the Knights of Columbus. I know, what, what, what, what?! Where is the connection with the KC's and a group of Freemason haters in the 1700's?

Here is my recreation of what was said in the writers' den:

Writer #1: Dude, dude, I have a freakin' awesome idea.
Writer #2: What dude, should we go to the 'Bell'? I want Tacos.
Writer #1: No dude, our show needs a kickass serial killer ... (feverishly turning pages in Occult book) I got it ... Gormogon.
Writer #2: Like those statues on the sides of churches?
Writer #1: No, they were like a group that hated Freemasons in the 1700's and stuff.
Writer #2: Ok, since they're on churches, we should have him kill Knights of Columbus dudes.
Writer #1: What?! Okay, I think you may be confused ... (grumble, grumble) ... Wait a second, I am hungry ... Killer of KC's sounds good to me. Let's go get some brain food. But I don't want Tacos, I had them for breakfast.

Here is one of the Widow's Son killer episode for your enjoyment.

Hanson, Hart (Creator). 2007 Bones [Television Show]. Los Angeles: Fox Broadcasting Corporation.

(Okay, for full disclosure, I do watch the show with my wife and I find some aspects to be enjoyable but there does seem to be a macho dude complex displayed in the writing.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Talkin' 'bout my Generation : Pick Yourself Up?!

Well, I have been scouring the Internet to learn more about the perceptions, hopes and fears of "My Generation". These perceptions are essential in understanding where Freemasonry is going and what we, as Lodges, should expect now and in the future. I hope to examine these perceptions over the coming weeks. And yes I know, The Who are not "My Generation" but what can ya do, the song rocks.

GRRR! Picking Yourself Up; Millennial Madness

As cliche as what I am about to say is, the next generation is the future; how and what we do in the next decade will shape the way workplaces, political institutions, civic organizations, as well as every other organization that exists now or will exist in the future is run. Unfortunately, there is more fear than truth being expressed to the world about the coming death of "Work Ethic." One article seems to be more direct in its attack on Generation Y than any other.

The GRRR! Block is a recurring series at Fox News written by Mike Straka that rants about Pop Culture, and things that seem to get stuck in his craw. In late November, he whined about how Millennials are lazy and refuse to grow up after watching a 60 Minutes special about Generation Y entering the workforce.

Straka writes:

From negotiating time off during job interviews to having to be told that they "should wear underwear under their clothes," it's tough for me to comprehend when, where and why the future workforce of our nation has became so complacent.

Was it because mommy and daddy worked too hard and didn't pay enough attention? Is it the free-wheeling universe known as cyberspace, where anything and everything is practically available at the click of a button?

Enron? WorldCom? Tyco? Divorce?

No, I give too much credit. Whatever the excuse for such lackadaisical behavior, it all comes down to just that — an excuse. Call me cold or insensitive, but I won't apologize for living in a tough world.

Of course, I will not apologize for certain things that he has brought up, including the fact that some applicants are bringing their parents to job interviews. (I have not seen this and probably never will but I am not surprised that it is out there.) Yet, he seems to blame all the problems of the world on one particular generation: the Millennials.

Why you might ask?

The final paragraph of his article says it all:

Call me a sucker, but I like doing a good job.

I like when my boss pats me on the back or sends an e-mail that says "nice job." I live for that. The Millennials, it seems, would scoff at such nonsense.

Of course they're doing a good job. They showed up, didn't they?

And people wonder why large corporations are outsourcing jobs.

We're in for a rude awakening if this is where we're headed.

Maybe he doesn't like the idea of some snot-nosed kid demanding more from his company. Maybe he doesn't see his family very often and wants everybody to experience that feeling. What I think bothers Straka the most is the idea that the youngest generation will not define themselves by their job. "What, what, what what?! You mean to tell me that a human being is a human being first and not a doctor, a lawyer, or a ditch digger." Of course, this is where Freemasonry can flourish.

Freemasonry, for all its lofty ideals and altruistic goals, is a volunteer organization first. This concept plays perfectly to the man who chooses a career so as not to interrupt him having a social life. For Lodges to succeed, the officers must realize that young Masons seek to use their time in many, many different ways, not merely for their vocation. This is exactly what a volunteer organization wants to hear. I devote many hours to the Craft and in some instances, I will call myself a Freemason before I ever think to call myself a law school graduate.

The most time consuming part of my day (after being with my family) comes from my Masonic affiliation. I spend days going to Lodge meetings, preparing for meetings (I am the Junior Warden of my Lodge), working on ritual, writing blog posts or meeting at the Grand Lodge for Membership ideas. To say that I am somehow complacent or lazy is a joke. I choose to use my time for a more noble purpose, to think of the civic and social institutions around me, not merely to further myself and feed some sick narcissistic concern about wealth and power. Masonry's goal is to build the temple of understanding and tolerance and to give brothers many ways to work on that hope.

Masonry is also built for the brother with divergent interests. Whether a young Mason wants the playfulness and philanthropy of the Shrine, the thoughtfulness of the Rites, the ability to work with kids in Rainbow Girls or Demolay or just to participate in family gatherings with the Lodge, the ability to find something to do is endless.

In the end, I think that Mike Straka is wrong or at the very least, has his priorities skewed. Living a life that is about more than just my car, my job or my house is important to me. Volunteering is important to me. And I believe that I am not alone in these beliefs. As long as these considerations are in the minds of the Lodges, the future of the Fraternity will still shine brightly.