Monday, February 23, 2015

The #IAmN Pin

I was on Reddit, as I am often, and read a very interesting post. The Southeastern Battalion (kind of like a district in the Masonic context) under the Grand Commandery of Michigan created the nun pin, incorporating the Arabic character ن (pronounced nun). The proceeds were raised for the Knights Templar Ecumenical Relief Fund, with proceeds to be distributed between the Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organization, and The Knights of Columbus Christian Refuge Relief.

For many who don't know, there is a hashtag campaign called, #IAmN (or some times #WeAreN) that is used to bring notoriety to the plight of Christians being displaced by terrorists like ISIL. Some background: the extremists, when entering a town with Christian residents, will spray paint, ن, on the houses of Christians, essentially telling them to flee, convert, or die. ن is the first letter of the Arabic word for Christians, . This letter, ن, is now being taken back in defiance of those that seek to persecute.

You can read the whole post here.

When you read this campaign, you can't help but be sympathetic. It also raises the question on what we, as Commanderies and Sir Knights, can do for our fellow Christians. Currently, the charities available are send a minister to the Holy Land or donate money to the Eye Foundation. This pin campaign is something new and interesting. Sadly, it was also a little to hot for a number of high ranking Sir Knights.

So I guess the question is, should we be involved in ecumenical relief? I think it's a conversation we should be having if nothing else than to decide what Masonic Templarism represents in the new era. We shouldn't be restricted to the past, to the Eye Foundation, to the Holy Land Pilgrimage, we should decide new areas of charitable giving and work. We need to sit down and discuss that.

What do you think? Leave a comment below. And if you want a pin, go to where you can find the purchase page.


I have put my money where my mouth is and have purchased a pin. Also, just for pronunciation's sake, the nun is pronounced noon.

Monday, February 16, 2015

QC Lodge No. 2076 to Celebrate Tercentenary with Conference

Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 has announced that it will host a Masonic conference at Queens' College in Cambridge to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding of the first Grand Lodge. The conference will be held from September 9 to 11, 2016. The members of QC2076 are seeking out papers on the subject on the history and development of Freemasonry, in particular, of Freemasonry in England. It looks to be a real interesting conference from the premier research lodge in the world. 2017 is going to be a very busy year.

For more details, click here.

Does Masonic Morality Exist?

Inspiration comes from some pretty strange places. I am a member of a few Facebook groups that focus on Masonic topics. For the most part, these pale in comparison to the discussions on /r/freemasonry, /r/yorkrite, and /r/scottishrite. Facebook discussions are usually a mixture of posturing and hurt feelings. I think what I'm trying to say is that Facebook kinda sucks. But, sometimes lightning strikes and a phoenix rises out of the sulfur pits of that are FB group hell.

A topic was brought up in the usual manner for these hellish places. It goes like this, "ummm, I know it's controversial and stuff, but don't be mad and I hope we can be civil and all that but what do you think about [insert extremely controversial topic here]?" Yeah, this will end well. 

The controversial question dujour was: should an openly gay man be allowed to petition a lodge?However, there was an interesting subtext in the answers by the commentors. Throughout the discussion, I was reading, in varying degrees, two responses. Distilled, they were 1) yes, it's not relevant or 2) no, homosexuality is a sin in the Bible and the Bible is on the altar. 

That got me thinking, does there exist a Masonic morality? We discuss morality within Masonry in some detail. But do we have a defined set of principles, other than to be good men?

Dr. Anderson suggests, in the first version of his constitution, a Mason is "obliged by his Tenure, to obey the moral law" and that the purpose of Masonry is "to oblige them (Masons) to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguish'd; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remain'd at a perpetual Distance." So, it's really wishy-washy. 

"Religion in which all Men agree, to be good Men and true or Men of Honour and Honesty" Yeah, so, be good. But what is good? Are we talking Aristotelian good? Biblical good?

And then, at the end of his life, Dr. Anderson then revised his constitutions (poorly) to say instead: "[a] Mason is obliged by his tenure to observe the moral law as a true Noachide" and that the purpose of Freemasonry charges them, "to adhere to that religion in which all men agree (leaving each brother to his own particular opinions); that is, to be good men and true, men of honor and honesty, by whatever names, religions, or persuasions they may be distinguished; for they all agree in the three great articles of Noah, enough to preserve the cement of the lodge. Thus Masonry is the Center of Union, and the happy means of conciliating persons that otherwise must have remained at a perpetual distance."

(And, if you're wondering what those three great articles of Noah are, my good friend, Clay A., posits, after doing some research, that it refers to the tenets of Masonry, Brotherly love, relief, and truth.)

Even if we take this as a source of Masonic morality (and considering how many scholars put little weight on this document, it's of dubious use), it's still not helpful. So what is morality in a Masonic context?

To begin, we need to examine ethics. Ethics, also sometimes referred to as moral philosophy, has been philosophized thoroughly in almost all cultures and societies. This makes sense as ethics, in some respects, seeks a sense of order in a chaotic world.

W.Bro., and Dr., Kumar, in his paper entitled, Morality and Freemasonry, presents this formula, "[d]o right if you can; if questionable do not do it; and above all do no harm." At least in the Masonic framework, this statement seems to answer the question. We all have our own moral compass but they all seem to point north.

For many Masons, that moral compass comes their religion of choice (or birth). But there in lies a problem. We, at least in the American Freemasonry landscape, are led to believe that we are not supposed to bring our religion into the lodge room with us. But, we really can't drop that, just like I can't drop trespass from the Lord's Prayer in Commandery. So, if we can't drop our religious or political persuasions into the lodge, then we instead need to find a way to seek common ground.

And that can be hard. Just like the question above, can a gay man join a lodge, we need to find an answer. In Minnesota's Closing Charge, we are told that, "[e]very human being has a claim upon your kind offices. Do good unto all. Recommend it more especially 'to the household of the faithful.'" A good friend has also stated the inverse, "Masonry's morality can be summed up like this, 'don't be a dick.'"

We're still going to struggle but I like that idea. We are told to do good to all and not be jerks, leaving those definitions to themselves. Frankly, that's the best I can do with what I have. We can either stand on a podium and scream and pull our hair or we can just stand up and extend our hand in friendship.

What are your thoughts? What is morality in a Masonic context? Does it even exist? Leave a comment below.

Monday, February 9, 2015

MN York Rite Retreat 2015

I just received a note from a good friend of mine, Russ, about this year's York Rite Retreat.

Details below:

I hope to make it out this retreat.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Midwinter Update 2015

Well, dear readers,

I always like to give a little update on where I'm at. It's as much for me as it is for all of you.

First off, I've had an awesome time on the Masonic Roundtable. If you haven't watched us, you're missing out. We've had great fun discussing masonic topics for the past year and we're raring to go again this year. Stay tuned for future episodes. I'm really excited for our Prince Hall episode.

As many of you know, I've been elected as the Illustrious Master for Northfield Council No. 12. It's exciting to be in an East, especially of a fast growing and exciting body like Northfield Council. We have a lot planned, in particular, our Table Council in September.

I also participated in the One Day again this year. I was the big part for the Fellowcraft degree. All of us did an awesome job. Like seriously, all of us did great. Of course, I still blame, er..., thank, WBro. Tim for getting me into this. We raised 33 brothers and the ritual work was par excellence.

A major thing that I am looking forward to is Minnesota AMD Day. Yes, that's right, I'm announcing something huge. The AMD Council I am a member of is hosting a first ever Minnesota AMD Day on July 18th at the Savage Masonic Temple. The plan is to have all the AMD Councils and companions come out to Savage and put on a degree or paper. With 2-3 degrees and possibly a speaker, this is going to be a huge event. I'm super excited.

Finally, I'm also preparing and planning my year as Commander of Faribault Commandery No. 8, tradition prevailing. No idea how I have been finding time but every moment I spend in Commandery is good. It's exciting but also challenging. Yanking a near dead Commandery back to life is a very violent process. We have lost momentum and I hope we can kick it back up. My plan is to institute the Knight School: Summer of Awesome. More details to follow but I think you'll all dig it.

All in all, I look forward to another awesome Masonic year.

Any advice for me? Leave me a comment below.