Tuesday, January 24, 2012

One Day 2012

The title I've chosen for this post can either be viewed as very boring or very provocative. The reason I say that is that One Day class remain, in the world of Masonry, a sore spot or a normal course of business.

I was asked to take part in the first degree during the One Day class held on Saturday, January 21st at the Minneapolis Scottish Rite building on Dupont. One Days, for those who don't know, compresses the three degrees into one day. They often have some of the best ritualists in the state and in many cases, have all the staging to really make the degree work pop.

There is debate that has been going on since the One Day format was started over its legitimacy and its efficacy in shoring up membership numbers. Frankly, I don't really have an opinion one way or the other. I like degree work in a small lodge setting but I also remember that Masonry is an ongoing lifestyle that has to be worked over a number of years. The initiation is important but it is not the end all be all for a Mason.

I was very impressed by the work I saw. When I say that the best ritualists are at the One Day, I'm not joking. All the degrees were performed in formal apparel, as in tuxedos. With spotlights to the front and custodians behind me, I was understandably nervous. I got through my part with only a minor hiccup. (For the sake of secrecy, well, maybe just embarrassment, I will not mention what I missed.)

I was also fortunate to be there with a lot of Southeast Area Masons. The Southeast Area hosts many, many Schools of Instruction. From the work I've seen in our more sparsely populated area, I really think we have some wonderfully good ritual being performed. Most Masons in the state of Minnesota don't come down to our neck of the woods and that's a shame. If you're interested in making a visit, just visit here.

What I really found interesting was the tour of the building. WBro. Mark Campbell led us through the building to see all the different areas of the building. The Scottish Rite temple was originally a church, the Fowler Methodist Episcopal Church. As explained by WBro. Mark, the congregation merged with the Heenepin Avenue Methodist Church and to prevent competition with some other church, the Church sold the building to the Minneapolis Valley in 1916. Many modifications to the building have occurred since that time. I was very impressed by the building and I think all Masons should make a trip to this amazing Masonic edifice. In fact, Lodge #19 currently meets in this building so all Master Masons from Grand Lodges in amity with the Grand Lodge of Minnesota may visit.

In all, I had a very enjoyable time and solidified friendships with many brothers I only see once in awhile. Congratulations to all the fine ritualists at the One Day; you guys did an outstanding job. Congratulations also goes out to the class for having been made Master Masons.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Nite Show: Interview with Professor Weinberger

I caught this wonderful interview on The Nite Show with Tom Mischke. On this particular program, Mischke is speaking with the author of Too Big to Know, Prof. David Weinberger. 

What is knowledge? How has the Internet changed how we as human beings seek out information and what does that do to the paradigm of knowledge seeking that we know? Just a wonderful discussion and as a Mason, I think that there really is some need for us to understand the way that the Internet will affect human knowledge in the future.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Life Masonic Podcast

Pictured: Jason Van Dyke and Brent Morris

Masonry is blessed in this new digital age. Never has there been a time for information to be so freely available to all peoples in all places as right now. At this moment, interested men are looking for information about Freemasonry and Masons are looking for more information about the same. One great addition to this bulk of information has been created and presented free by the Supreme Council, 33°, Southern Jurisdiction, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of the United States of America. It's called the Life Masonic podcast and it has some great information for all Masons.

Jason Van Dyke is the host of the podcast. With the help of Eric Diamond of X-Oriente fame, the Supreme Council has created a first rate podcast. The range of topics has been great from discussing research methods with Brent Morris to discussing the need for leadership with the Sovereign Grand Commander, Ronald Seale.

The Supreme Council has proven once again that it "gets it." Embracing technology can only improve an organization's reach. I have found each episode engaging and of value, not only to Scottish Rite Masons, but to all Masons.

If you'd like more information, visit the Supreme Council's website. If you have show ideas, send them to Jason at thelifemasonic(at)gmail.com. I can't wait to listen to future episodes of this podcast.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Osman Shrine Website Redux

I know I'm on a "technology is good" kick but it's because I truly believe that sentiment. With that being said, I noticed that the Osman Shrine website that has just been renovated.

The Osman Shriners completed a major overhaul of their website and it's looking great. The website has everything a member and a potential member might need, calendars, links to events, and other pertinent information.

I spoke with current Potentate, Frank Spevak, about the website overhaul. The main purpose the website was improved was to foster communication between the Divan and the members. The site is using Drupal which I think is good as long as you have a capable hand on the wheel which it appears Osman does. It also appears that Shrine Clubs will also have pages.

I am not a Shriner (yet?) but I know that without a strong web presence, no organization is going to be able to survive. Let's face it, the web is the new front door. In a world where television is the dominating pastime, we will need to open potential members' eyes to our organizations. When I was first checking out Masonry as a young man of 19 years, I could find no information on Masonry. The door was only opened to those that knew someone and finding that someone was near impossible. (My origin story can be found here. I literally had a Stonecutters' moment when I found out my Grandpa was a Mason and here I am.)

The Internet has changed that reality. A man can now go on a Grand Lodge website, write an email to Grand Lodge, and receive a name and email address or number to a lodge near his home. A man interested in Shrine can visit Be A Shriner Now and be connected to a local Shrine group. This is the new reality. It's now our time to take control of our destiny.

As a plug for my buddy Dan, you can visit his company's website, Club Management Services at http://manage-your-club.com/ to learn more about what services he can offer clubs. He was the website designer of the new Osman Shrine site. He does great work and is an all-around nice guy.

How has you lodge or Masonic organization used the web? Have you found results, good or bad? Leave a comment.