Friday, May 29, 2009

The Commercial Critic

My brother has recently begun blogging about a subject that not many people think about but are almost always inundated with on a daily basis, commercials. The name of his blog is The Commercial Critic and I think everyone should check it out. He has some very interesting thoughts on what commercials are really telling the doughy minds waiting to be molded. Whether it involves what the American Dream grows on to the march of death through a football game, there are always great insights into the world of commercials. Check it out. You can also follow him on Twitter @TheCommCritic.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I Can't Believe I Didn't Learn That in Lodge

Today, I had the honor of presenting three scholarships to three worthy students of the local high school from the Lodge. Sadly, my presentation was, well, to be perfectly blunt, my presentation looked a little something like this:

Now, I know I am being a little rash but it was terrible. So I thought, "why I haven't I learned about public speaking from the Lodge?" I am a Senior Warden for Pete's sake; I talk in front of the Lodge every meeting.

Why haven't I learned to speak to the public? Well, for one thing, in Lodge, I rarely speak to anyone but a select few people, namely, brothers. Also, I have a great script that I repeat all...the...time. However, I hope that next year, I will again be fortunate to present the scholarships to these students with more dignity and grace than today's little SNAFU.

Enough about me, I want to congratulate all the scholarship winners who have shown that through their hard work, anything is possible. I hope all of them the best in their educational endeavors.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mentorship Part 2: Who Should Be a Mentor?

Mentorship programs rise and fall not on the leadership or lack of leadership of the Lodge but on the mentor. Mentors are the first line in bringing men into Masonic Light. Therefore, it is important to determine who should be a Mentor and who should not.

The method by which I choose Mentors is that I actually have two Mentors for the petitioner. Of course, if a man is brought to our Lodge by a brother in it, that man should serve as the Mentor. Why? He has a connection to both the Lodge and the petitioner. We have to foster and hopeful grow that connection for the petitioner and make him an important fixture within our Lodge. But what do we do when the man who is joining does not have a connection to the Lodge? This is where my two Mentor system becomes integral to the success of my Lodge.

The first Mentor should be a relatively new brother. Why a “young” (newly made Master) Mason? The energy level of the young Mason is electric. They have just been through the degrees and have seen just how good Masonry can be. We have to capture that lightening and pass it off to the next generations of Masons. Masonry is a progressive Science and it moves fast, which means that we have to be willing to hop on for the ride. Therefore, I always look for the young, excited brother to serve as Mentor.

The second Mentor should an older member of the Lodge. It could be said that this should be a Past Master but I don’t believe that is actually a necessary qualification. What the secondary Mentor should be is able to answer questions about Masonry that the primary Mentor could not. The secondary Mentor is the backstop for the primary Mentor, helping the primary Mentor just as much as he does for the new candidate.

What does the dual Mentor program do that other Mentor programs don’t? It allows both youth and experience to exist to guide our new brother. Now, I realize this might not be effective in all Lodges, especially Lodges that have many candidates in degree classes. In this case, it might be better to have a Mentor coordinator helping each individual Mentor for their respective candidate. However, if your Lodge raise classes of four or fewer, this program can be very worthwhile.

Also, this program can help to bring both the new brother and the old brother back into the Lodge giving both of them incentives to become active again in Lodge life. We see it many times. The new brother learns quickly that Lodge life may not be all that it’s cracked up to be (that is a Lodge Leadership problem which will be covered at a later date). The new brother may find other avenues to spend their time away from the Lodge until they disappear like so many do in America. Getting them involved early will ensure that they become a good attentive brother among us. The old brother may have gotten tired or have found other avenues to spend their time, in the Rites, in Star or in Shrine. We have the ability to encourage three different brothers in three very different stages to stay connected with the Lodge. Hopefully, more Lodges will continue to focus on choosing good Mentors to help new brothers become acclimated to their new life.

The major reason for this program is to create an unbreakable chain between the Mentor and the Mentee. This unbreakable chain should remain after the Mentorship is up. This, in turn, will provide some help should the Mentor not know an answer. The goal is that the Manatee, hmph, I mean the Mentee, will become the Mentor. This continuing the cycle.

Next week: What should a Mentor program look like?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pop Culture Review: That Illuminati Movie

Today, (Sunday, the 17th) my wife and I went to see Angels and Demons, you know, that Illuminati movie. I have read the book but it has been awhile so the story was not as fresh in my mind. Because of my lack of memory, I really came into the movie without any preconceived notions. Well, maybe one. There have been a lot of reports that the Holy See impeded the film crew from filming in certain sites in Rome, so I expected some pretty harsh criticisms of the Church. However, there was really no insults lobbed at anyone.

I have to say, I had fun. I realize that the historical truth in a Dan Brown novel is like panning for gold. The movie pares down much of the book's more controversial topics and streamlines the movie into a quick, action packed movie. Which topics were removed?

*Spoiler Alert*:

Well for starters, there is no Kohler, nor is Vetra branded with the Illuminati symbol. The Hassassin is not of Arab descent, he does not lust after women, nor is he killed as he was in the book. There is no Janus character. The Chamberlain in the book is not the illegatimate son of the former Pope nor is he from Italy. You know what, this list is getting really long so let's just say the book and the movie are related only to the main storyline.

*Spoiler Over*

As I sat through the movie, I thought to myself, "Why was there so much anger by the Vatican?" In fact, the Church is shown in a very honorable light of faith and ritual. The movie could almost be considered a dignified representation of the Catholic Church. I think it should be remember that this movie is entertaining and should provide some good talking points about Science and Religion. Finally, if you are looking for a Masonic reference in the movie, you won't find one.

I will be curious to see what Dan Brown's next book holds, there are still rumors about a Masonic connection. I guess if there is one, I will have a very busy next year, should tradition prevail.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

GL of DC to Vote to Abrogate Charter of Ahiram Lodge #1000

Today, at the Semi-Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of DC, the Grand Lodge will vote on whether to abrogate the charter of Ahiram Lodge #1000. If you are unaware of the story, in short, the Grand Lodge of DC chartered a Lodge, Ahiram #1000, in the country of Lebanon. It was claimed by the Grand Lodge of New York that this was a violation of its Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction over its District Grand Lodge of Syria-Lebanon. This dispute ultimately led to the removal of recognition of GL of DC by the GL of NY. The dispute has gone on for over five months without resolve and has transformed from a mere territorial dispute into one that involves the protocols of establishing Lodges in foreign lands.

I will continue to monitor the situation for updates.

Correction: GL of NY recognized GL of DC on February 18, however, the issue of Ahiram Lodge remained unresolved today.

Update: GM Acquaah has sent an email to the Craft of the District asking the Brethren, at their Semi-Annual Communication, to pass a motion to retake the Charter of Ahiram Lodge #1000.
The quote is posted below:
(c) I will entertain a motion to abrogate the charter of Ahiram Lodge No.
1000 at the Semi-Annual Communication on Wednesday, May 13, 2009, and I
respectfully ask the voting members of the Grand Lodge to support this

Update: The Grand Lodge of DC has revoked the Charter of Ahiram Lodge #1000, based in the country of Lebanon. The question is now, what happens to those brothers of Ahiram? I am not exactly certain but hopefully, this will be the end of this whole situation.

The situation concerning Lebanon is rather interesting in the Masonic world. There are very few places that do not have a Masonic Grand Lodge and of those places that do not, there usually is a Grand Lodge in Exile, such as Grand Lodge of Iran. What this shows is that as we continue to grow as a Fraternity globally, more toes will be stepped on during these growing pains. It will be interesting to see how these territorial disputes get resolved. At least we have one down.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mentorship Part 1: We Have Contact

There are many different mentions of mentorship in the world of Masonry. It seems to be the rallying cry of rebirth in Masonic circles. I am in agreement with pushing the idea of mentorship but many Lodges don't know where to start. I will give you my impressions on how to effectively implement one of these plans in your Lodge.

Many new brothers are arriving on our Lodge steps without the usual Masonic connections. Before, a man would join Masonry because he was friends with Mason or was related to a Mason. Now, it is not uncommon to find out about Masonry from the Internet or learning of some grandfather who was a Mason. With this new trend in mind, we need to establish a complimentary mentorship program.

To start, we have to look at our candidates' needs in a certain order: friendship, ritual, education. Obviously as each of these are accomplished, the others must also be maintained. However, I think this order of Masonic elements really helps the petitioner/brother become more involved in Masonry, which is the goal, retention.

To show how an effective mentoring program works (at least the one that my Lodge uses), we start with an interested man. He doesn't know anyone in the Lodge but he is incredibly excited about Freemasonry. He has looked on the Lodge website or has called the contact number received from Grand Lodge. He has made first contact.

What should we do now?

This is key; make immediate contact. The man has put his neck out in the hopes that he will be considered for our Fraternity. He has taken the first step. We have to reciprocate in kind to show that we are interested in him as a person, not merely as a number.

The first contact should not be the mentor but another brother. I believe that it is a good idea to require the Junior Warden or Senior Warden to roll out the carpet. The Wardens are tied to the Lodge as leaders and are expected to be knowledgeable on the basics of Masonry. He has the ability to help the interested man by answering his questions. The Warden, at that point, should drop a line to the Mentor.

Next Monday:
Who should be a mentor?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Guest Article at A Partir Pedra

I want to thank the brothers of A Partir Pedra for posting an article of mine on their great site which you can find here. If you are unfamiliar with A Partir Pedra, it is a site by the brothers of Respeitável Loja Mestre Affonso Domingues of the Grande Loja Legal de Portugal. A Partir Pedra literally means "From Stone" in Portuguese and the brothers there present really thought provoking essays. The site is in Portuguese but with the advent of Google Translate, the site can be translated rather accurately, or at least intelligable. Hopefully I get this right but, obrigado irmãos.

School’s…Oops…Lodge’s Out for Summer

Corinthian Lodge #67, my mother Lodge, goes dark between June and August. That means, for those of you who don’t know, we don’t have stated meetings. Of course, that doesn’t get any of us off the hook as going dark really means that we are now expected to do more for the Lodge. Much, much more.

Corinthian Lodge has many projects that it will be doing this summer from returning the floor to its original wood state, cemetery cleanup and highway cleanup plus three months to get plans together for the coming months. We are going to be very busy but we will also have some great fun getting things done.

This summer, I will also be visiting Lodges that continue to meet through the summer. If you would like me to visit your Lodge this summer and write something about it on this space, just send me a message. I am hoping to put up my schedule for you fellas to know where I’ll be next. It should be a fun summer and I can't wait to get things done.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Today in History: Order of the Illuminati is Formed (Groan)

I am going to bother a lot of brothers by even discussing this certain event but so be it. Today, in 1776, Adam Weishaupt gathered together men on the fringes of the Enlightenment in the German state of Upper Bavaria into various groups under the name "Perfectibilists." Their purposes remain relatively unknown but it is possible that they were formed to overthrow the various princes of Germany. At the end of it all, the Illuminati Order fractured over who was to take over the various groups and finally died.

Sadly, this group has continued to serve as conspiracy fodder for all the kooks and crazies of the world. So here is a secret from a brother of a Secret Society, Freemasonry, for all those conspiracy theorists; come close, I have to whisper it in your ear: FREEMASONS AREN'T MEMBERS OF THE ILLUMINATI. I'll give your ears a minute to stop ringing.

Sorry that I had to yell so loudly but I am hoping that one day, that little trick will start some neurons in the brains of those that believe that a Cabal is out to take over the world. I also have a message for those men that would like to join Freemasonry: (don't worry, I won't yell into your ears) the secrets within Freemasonry are many but you will not find a single iota of crazy nonsense in our Fraternity; no Illuminati, no Bohemian Grove, no fish frys. (okay, fish frys may be the only crazy thing you might find in a Lodge.) We don't agree on evil plots (trust me, we can't even agree on what to have for dinner) nor do we make flu viruses (that's a new one). Also, we will not be making any money off of a certain new movie based off a certain book about aforementioned group.

I usually don't rant but sometimes I gotta. When you look on Youtube and find a series about the Illuminti hitting over 200 episodes, you get a little perturbed. I have had people ask me if I am a member of the Illuminati or have been accused as such so I am hoping that I can put this whole conspiracy thing to bed. We may have our fights about cladestine and other issues within the Fraternity but I think there is one thing everyone can agree on, Anti-Masons seek to make all of us look evil, weird, or just plain crazy.

With all this talk of Illuminati, I have decided to post a video of one man's desperate plea to join.
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Joining the Illuminati
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFirst 100 Days

Worshipful Brother Chris Hodapp, writer of such great books as Freemasons for Dummies and Solomon's Builders has adapted a great piece from another title of his (co-written by Alice Von Kannon), Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies for Dummies, concerning the Illuminati which you can find at another website of his, Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies for Dummies. If you are interested in this subject, I would definitely check it out.