Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Check

As has been published through the Masonic world, there is an edict in a Masonic jurisdiction stating that only men born and remaining male can apply for membership in a lodge That got me thinking on how one would implement such an edict.

Well, I got lucky, fellas. I've been watching the Borgias, an excellent Showtime TV series which has since been cancelled. (Thank you, Netflix, for still having it available) The Borgias examines the life and times of Pope Alexander and his five children and long time mistress. It's a great show that I recommend.

Anyway, on the show, the Pope-elect undergoes a traditional examination to determine his masculinity called the "testes and pendentes" test. What happens is that a large chair with a hole in the seat is brought into the conclave and the Pope-elect, in a ceremonial white gown, is seated. Then, the Chamberlain checks to see that he has one penis and two testes.

I would like to propose that we adopt a similar tradition. My proposal is that we have a chair with a hole placed within the preparation room. The seat would need to be on stilts with a ladder on one side. The candidate would be asked to sit, at which point, the Junior Steward would go under the chair and do the Masonic version of the "testes and pendentes" examination. He would then report that news to the lodge in a ritualistic way.

The one fear I have is that the Junior Steward will conduct this examination before he has made the meal so this would also necessitate that no EA degree may begin without the meal being served first.

Brothers, I really hope we can work this into Masonry somehow. As you know, the population that is transgender is, in one calculation, slightly below one percent. That means that out of every petition we receive, one of those petitioners could maybe, possibly, sorta, kinda, be transgender.

Guard the West Gate, my brothers. Install a "Testes and Pendentes" chair in your lodge hall today.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ascension Day Success

Jesus' Ascension into Heaven by John Singleton Copley
As many of you know, I've, for better or worse, become heavily involved in the York Rite. I love it. The Chapter holds a lot of wonderfully symbolic and historical elements for my understanding of the preceding degrees and really adds to my lodge experience while the Council explores my spiritual side, in particular, the Royal Master degree. Further still, Commandery has rekindled my exploration of Christianity.

To be honest, I never really got much from attending church services when I was growing up. Rock bands are nice, modern hymns have as much meaning as the older ones, and I could feel that there was a desire to worship God but I just didn't get much out of it. As I stated in another blog post, I really find my place within the Christian community at "high church" style services. I feel like they call to my soul, the ritualistic aspects especially.

Commandery provides yet another framework to understand Christ. It is not a replacement for Christianity, just a helpful place for further study. Obviously, Sir Knights come from many different sects within the Templary community so the symbols mean something different to each Sir Knight. Understanding them takes time and knowledge of one's faith tradition.

Within Commandery, we honor the various important events within Christ's life on Earth, his birth, his ministry, his betrayal and death, his resurrection, and his ultimate ascension into Heaven. Many Commanderies will host a Christmas observance, an Easter observance, and even attend Good Friday services together but it is a rare thing indeed to host an ascension day event. A pity really but completely understandable as not every Christian Church recognizes that date as significant. In fact, most Christian Churches that do venerate the Feast of Ascension do nothing on that day. It's seemingly being lost to time.

With all that being said, my Commandery decided to try an Ascension Day feast and it went extremely well. For those who are unfamiliar, the Feast of the Ascension occurs 40 days after Easter, and always on Thursday. It is said that after Christ was resurrected, he returned to Earth to further explain and clarify his ministry. Remember that the resurrection was an extremely important but also completely disorienting experience for the apostles. Jesus returned and, depending on which denomination you are, he spent sometime with the apostles, working with them to understand what they need to do to spread the good news or gospel. After this period was over, Christ then ascended into Heaven to be on the right hand of God, the father.

(Alright, Bible lesson is over, you still here?)

My Commandery is just coming back from a lull that nearly killed it, less Odinsleep and more life-threatening coma. With that in mind, and as Generalissimo, the Commander and I thought it would be cool to try an Ascension Day feast. Through two months of long and somewhat laborious research and work to make it a workable program, we got something that looked and felt very cool. Since it was our first time out, we really had no expectations, not high, not low, just none. We followed a liturgical program from an old Templar monitor and went to work. Our Prelate did a masterful job leading the whole program. He did a great job. We had Jobies in attendance to form the cross and our headlining speaker was the Very Eminent Deputy Grand Commander, who gave us his thoughts on what he would like to see from his year as Grand Commander, should he be elected into that esteemed station. We sang hymns, we had delicious food, and we honored, in our way, God.

Ascension Day, unlike almost any of the other feasts, is joyous. Christmas is a time of giving and sharing but the message is that the Savior has arrived. Good Friday is a day of great tragedy, and Easter is a message of rebirth as the bonds of death are broken. Only Ascension Day contains both the message and ministry of Jesus as well as the joyfulness and promise of Heaven in the same feast. It's about the time to come and the message here on Earth.

I hope more Commanderies attempt Ascension Day events in the future. It is a time of great hope and joy and it's wonderful that that time can be shared with fellow Sir Knights and their families.
Non nobis, non nobis, Domine
Sed nomini tuo da gloriam.
What do you think? Does your Commandery host an Ascension Day? Leave a comment below.