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.