A Prayer

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Nov '03

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June'04

A Final Toast

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By Dave Daugherty, dmdj@masonicglobe.com

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Is Brotherhood real? Will all Masons in the USA ever fellowship together or at least recognize each other?

Masonic Politics being what it is; Recognition among G.L.'s will remain serendipitous. Although PHA & Caucasian Masonry will continue to increase mutual recognition [over half the states now], this is only a part of the recognition problem.

Having seen and experienced fellowship [not Masonic communion] between Masons [followers of Masonic philosophy] who’s Grand Lodges remain at a perpetual distance, Yes, fellowship between masons in the USA is growing, however, All Masons is wishful thinking. There will always be those followers whose interpretation leads them to self segregation and to whom true Masonic teachings cannot reach!

Catholic Church & Freemasonry. Concern has been raised about the future of the relationship between the Catholic Church & Freemasonry. The new Pope,[Cardinal Ratzinger] while serving as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Teaching of the Faith, issued a declaration: "The Church's negative opinion about Masonic lodges continues unchanged. . . . Enrolment in them remains prohibited by the Church. The Faithful in Christ who give their names to Masonic Lodges are in a state of grave sin and cannot attend Holy Communion." [26 Nov. 83]

The National Assembly for Wales
Under fear of action by the European Court Court of Human Rights, amended their order aimed at Assembly members who were also freemasons. References to Freemasonry were dropped, in favor of all organization whose membership can be disapproved by the existing members or by committee. Also, it is no longer a criminal act for those who fail to register.

9 Muses
Ran across this plate in my studies on myths.

Events of '04
Accidental Shooting in New York of a candidate during initiation of a "fun" [unofficial] side degree. Guess the brother was never taught not to point a gun at anyone unless you want that result. And we thought monkey business was not to be found associated with freemasonry.

The Bombing of a Lodge Building in Turkey, by Islamic terrorist.
Yes, we are a target. Do we need to retune our message to the world?

Return of New Charter for a lodge in Iraq to the Grand Lodge of North Caroline by Brethren in the military.
Reason; race restrictions!

Grand lodge of California weighted in on Mexican politics.

Grand lodge of Texas tried to write International Masonic Law.

Grand Lodge of Missouri conducts witch trials

Why the Northeast corner?
In Masonry, the North is referred to as an area of darkness.
Some say this alludes to mystery.
In fact many mythological teachings have youth entering this [social tabooed area] only to return to society with some discovery for societies benefit.

Others add that the north is a place for regeneration and/or rebirth.
e.g. the darkness of winter
e.g. were the sun resides after it sets in the west and before it rises in the east again.

Masonic Bliss
I just returned from a Masonic retreat.
Yes, 20 plus guys [from all over the USA] escaped from our concerns and employments [or lack there of] and fell into Masonic bliss for a whole weekend!
We spent most of the day sharing formal presentations on how we perceived and interpreted Masonic thought.
On the off times, we shared informal fellowship in a gathering room, share our meals and of course had a formal dinner in table lodge type format.
It was a super weekend of brotherly love and I'm already planning for next year.

Texas vs. the Philalethes
The whole truth As many of you may be aware the powers at be in Texas are currently playing power games with the international Philalethes Society.

The public complaint; that women and masons, whom Texas does not recognize, were present at the Philalethes open meetings.
Duh! Does Texas realize that open meeting is synonymous with open to the public!?! [Sorry for using such big words].
Anyway, Texas simple reinstituted the ancient custom of holding meetings at local public gathering places rather that in lodge.
Cases solved.
The True Story seems to be that one person infuriated the current powers to be,
because of his presence and the fact that they do not like his racial associations.
Wonder if our leaders will ever learn what masonry is really all about.
Or has the value of character fled with our brain drain?

An e-observation
I recently ran across a thought on a Masonic list that I'd thought I'd share. The sparing that continually goes on between members and Grand Lodges was compared to dysfunctional families. Where the parents, [Grand Lodge] take passive aggressive jabs toward a "problem' child, [the member]. When in fact there was no "problem" but members simply mirror of the real problem, which of course the Parents wish to avoid owning responsibility, so they use the child as a scapegoat.
Please don't misunderstand my comments as being critical or disrespectful and at the same time, please view them in the spirit that these thoughts are offered.
This conversation is indicative of the most common problem faced by families everyday, yet on a larger scale. These passive-aggressive jabs coming from various sources towards the society are nothing more than the negative comments made by family members of the "problem" child. These attacks against the society have all the signs of "parents" who haven't the ability to "control this problem child." Yet, the problem really isn't the child. The child is only a symptom of the real problem, "the family." Brethren, the fraternity (family-Grand Lodges) is sick and rather than looking at the "family's problems" they need a scapegoat to keep the focus off of the real problem and avoid owning responsibility.
The child (Society) is screaming at the (parents) and telling the truth about the "real problem." Yet, the family is so stuck in its pattern of dysfunction that it is on automatic pilot, can't fix itself, so it must punish, persecute and attack the presenting illness(truth).
Viewing the conversations over the past couple of years as been extremely interesting to me. The dynamics of the fraternity as a whole, are played out on this list daily. It is a microcosm of the illness which plagues us.

True to your Country
Many masons have forgot that part of their ritual [must be one day classes, ha!]
Yes this country {the US} went thru a civil rights period, seems like some didn't under stand the part of our constitution where it says that all are equal?!
Over the next several years there is going to be launched reeducation on this social invention of race.
Wish masons were educated enough to lead.
Anyway, NC just had a charter for a military lodge in Iraq returned. You guessed it; over the racial issues. The Grand Lodge followed this up by a vote confirming their racial exclusion;
Funny thing the Black masons recognized them anyway at their meeting
. And we wonder why we have membership problems.!?!

Liquid Stone
A belief permeates us.
A belief that change means deterioration and decay.
As if Freemasonry is some sort of mortal being.
It is as if we believe that if Freemasonry follows 19th century evolutionary thought, it will become too complex for us….
So as if safeguarding the recipe for coke, Grand Lodges lock away their rituals.
No cherry coke, no vanilla, no new, no diet.
And the freemason becomes confined to his monastery.
Do not worry; the world will continue to spin without us.
Remember the building trade; stone walls gave way to Geodesic Domes, and bob levels to bubbles and laser.
Have you heard of translucent concrete, that’s right you can see thru it!
Or there is flexible concrete [e.g. Ductal] providing freedom in using curves without need of reinforcement.
If liquid stone is the Freemasons Philosophers Stone, why have we overlooked it?

Secretes
Masonic Secretes is an oxymoron to me.
Now just about anyone can explore the infinite library of Masonic and anti Masonic writings and pick and choose that which they wish to emulate or that which they wish to villainnate.
Over the centuries you find a multitude of folks who have done just that. Some for the good of mankind, some to inflame the sufferings of mankind.
A Doctor studies Medicine, a Mathematician, math, a Physicist physics.
Yet, we all know that e=mc2.
Shout it from the Mountain top
Words maybe
But secrets not at all.

The Great Expectation
Our obligation is no more than a great expectation.
An expectation that the others will fulfill it toward us, as we will to them.
Or as my mother would say, just plain politeness
Now a Rabbi friend of mine is convinced that because God was invoked to help in maintaining this vow.
As a Christian I should fear not breaking it or burn in hell. Nonsense, My God is a kind and loving god.
Besides why would God wish to insert him self into such a trivial human interaction.

Guarding the West Gate
I find it interesting that men worry about the quality of candidate in free masonry when things go wrong or some form of dark thinking creeps in.
There are some who even believe that Freemasonry is only for a very small, 1% or less of the population.
That may be the number of people who achieve our idea of perfection, but over looks the realities of the human race.
Each of us is born with the similar characteristics that can promote harm & hurt, fear & hate in fact Masonry tries to teach us to subdue those feelings.
Yes, Masons want to be good.
Some of us are better at subduing or passion than others.
Some even forget that they have passions to subdue and as my mother always said you are who you associate with.
But the taints + calls to a different life style are always there.

The Am. Express Card of character
Many of you have enjoyed my metaphor.
Others just roll their eyes.
So I thought this might help.

Greece And Anti Semitism
The Grand Lodge of Greece has just recently been accused of anti Semitic behavior.
I am sure of all the particulars, but know that even in a group like ours, there is potential for our human frailties, including hate and fear, can be easily misdirected.
Unfortunately the Grand Lodge of Greece has resurrected that ancient Masonic custom of “Stone Walling”.
I hope they will become open enough to allow an examination with equal representation of all parties concerned and let human dignity win.

India & France
Diplomatic relations, including Mutual Recognition & inter-visitation was opened by the 4 Grand Lodges of India [Upper, South, Eastern, and Western] and the Grand Lodge of France.
www.glui.org/grand_b.htm
Besides mutual aid and assistance, They declared to admit in their lodges as members, men of all races, all nationalities, all faiths and opinions.
[The Grand Lodge Of France recognized all Prince Hall Grand Lodges in 1952 , and in retaliation to which United States ‘mainstream’ Grand Lodges withdrew their recognition of the Grand Lodge Of France]

Censorship
Over my 30+ years in masonry, I have witnesses many times censorship by those in brief authority
It is as if Grand Lodges become confusioned between subduing your passions and human rights.
It’s as if we no longer teach men to govern and improve themselves but wish to be the ruler of their minds and will.
The lodge is not here to restrict any basic Human rights!
Masonic books some believe should not exist.
Of those same brother, many have yet to visit a library or discover that of the small fraction of the population that do, only a smaller fraction will touch a book with the word “Masonic” in the title.
Today, Masonic censorship is spreading to the internet.
In the delusion of protectionism, freedom of ideas and Masonic ideals suffers.
There is a better solution.
Shout it from the mountain top,
e=mc2,
words maybe, but secrets not at all.

The French are coming
Grand Lodge of France has established a lodge in London to serve those unattended by the Grand Lodge of England.
Currently there are 4 other Grand lodges operating in London.
The Grand Lodge of France is also looking at the United States.

June'04:

Top

La gracia no es vivir,
La gracia es saber vivir

The legend of Hiram Abiff
The Legend of Hiram Abiff is just that, a legend, used as a teaching tool.
It has no religious (denominational) or historical significance.
It is about our discovery of the Divinity in our own souls.
some of may wish to refer to the 3rd degree as passing into a new stage of life [sort of like a "Masonic-Barmitzvah"].

The ruffians represent:
1. Superstition
2. Ignorance
3. Fear

Or rephrased

1.unbridled emotions
2.poor thought +/or judgement
3.self-destructive action
Or even one of many more possiblities

1.ambition
2. incompetence
3. mediocrity

Resurrection defined: means returning to practice, notice or use. (One of many definitions).

In freemasonry, resurrection refers to the psychological movement that we often describe as;
Seeing the light,
Being reborn, or
Recreating ourselves.

And does not refer to reincarnation, physical rebirth or back from the dead.
[Try giving the 5 points of fellowship from a horizontal position]

Goody two shoes
With the events unfolding in the catholic church& other groups, I'm reminded of how in all human organizations:
Our words are better than our deeds.
It's the preverbal battle between the moralist vs. the romanticist vs. the realist.
A poem of mine came to mind that might shed light on this dilemma:

Utopia leads me,
Reality Grips Me,
Wish I did not care!
O' the pain,
the pleasures,
the purity,
the paradox,
this poetry life.

Academia's interest?
Is it my imagination or is there a current resurgence in academic interest in Freemasonry? Maybe it is because I am aware of the literature being published by non-Masonic academia. [There has always been some] There seem to be a call for university study of Freemasonry. [Is this forensic?] Is there a resurgence for the call of Masonic Universities? Are they aware of the defunct efforts of the past [e.g. Masonic College of Missouri1844-59]. Is the survival of Masonic Colleges & Universities better in different environments/locations around the world? College education is great, but I just want to learn to subdue my passions.

A Question of Religion
The argument is old and unsolved in many hearts. To some, Masonry is not a religion. To others, it is the "true religion" as described in the bible. Yes, it is an ethical system Yes, the U.S. Supreme Court said that ethical systems can be a religion [To some, so can monday night football!] Anyway the mention in the Scottish Rite Research Society's "Plumbline" about the interest of Freemasonry by The Association for the Study of Esotericism, Caught my eye. Their mission: "the study of alternative or marginalized religious movements or philosophies whose proponents in general distinguish their own beliefs, practices, and experiences from public, institutionalized religious traditions." www.esoteric.msu.edu/ .

New York, USA shooting
Did you hear about the Brother Shot dead at a Masonic Hall Yes, by another Brother Not in violence, but in performance of some silly sort of side degree Yes, somebody's idea of social silliness went way too far I hope all who suffered, will accept my sincere sympathy.

Salem, Missouri Witch Trail.
It appears that The Grand Master considers all masons who follow the Paganist religious teachings to be liars, unworthy of upholding any of their Masonic oaths. Now I may be wrong but I always thought that Masonry taught that honor was an individual thing and a particular religious view point were not invited!?! It would be illogical to think any of us masons [finite beings/creatures] would even try to define that perfect thing [infinite/creator], some of us refer to as God. Oh Well, they say if you don't study history [meaning understand it], you are doomed to repeat it! Say, Missouri, "Show me" Harry Truman.

A fallen Brother!?!
I Just learned of the indictment of a well know and respected brother. Not knowing any of the details of the situation I was immediately overcome with compassion for all involved and close to this. [Is that not demanded, if we claim true discipleship of brotherly Love] However, the reactions by brethren, as expressed over the internet, were all over the board. There were those who were quick too condemn the individual [without any facts or other clarifications], There were those that worried about the injury to the crafts good name [as if their good name was solely dependent that that of the Fraternity] There were stories of Grand Lodges who sidestepped discipline of previous offenders to save face, or individuals just resigning. [or at least that was the messages]. In one of my Grand Lodges, conviction of a felony by Civil Court is an automatic dismissal of membership from Lodge. There is no dismissal of Brotherly Love! I still owe to him what I owe to each of you!

Charity
The argument goes that Freemasonry should not entangle itself in social Charity. Some say charity should be an individual duty. Others point out that by working together, our efforts are more effective. Maybe, this argument surfaces because we fail to reevaluate our charities or our member's interest drift and change. Or maybe it is our confusion over the difference of Charity of the heart vs. Charity of the pocket book. I was struck the other day when someone stated that charity is expected by the poorest of the poor. Yes, because charity is a feeling and truly of the heart. It is not surprising to look at its demographics and find that statistical, charity is strongest in the poorest areas. Could it be that the people in these areas have learned first hand, about helping of their neighbors? "Charity Of The Heart", Get the Feeling.

waikahi ka pono I manalo

Prayer
"Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, your Holy Name is beyond the power of our minds to form and our tongues to pronounce, and yet unto that Name we raise all praise and glory. We reverently invoke your blessings upon this fellowship, and humbly ask you to aid us in parting the veils and dispelling the darkness that conceal the greatest mysteries of Freemasonry. Supreme Geometrician and Architect, grant us the wisdom and understanding to know your designs and, if it be your will, help us to progress in the Transformative Art that shall reveal in us the True Word and the Cornerstone of your Holy Temple. Now, in this moment, O Lord, lead us into the Sanctum Sanctorum that you have established within our souls, so that in the sacred silence of that place we may contemplate your perfect Light."
"O Brilliant Luminary of Eternity, we thank you for all that you have and will provide: the lessons, both pleasant and hard; the fraternity and craft of Freemasonry; and the warm fellowship of the kindred spirits with whom we assembled. In your Holy Name we pray."
So mote it be

Feb'04:

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Emotional hype or P. R.
Chip [child identification program] was recommended at the Grand Master's Conference as an excellent Public Relations tool to boost membership and create media coverage.
But does the program prey on our emotions & give false hope to the public?
A paper was handed out listing the number of children reported as missing.
What they did not tell you was; less than 40% are missing after 24 hours.
The number continues to go down over time with only 1/10th of 1% missing after a year.
Of these abductions less than 10% are committed by strangers.
So maybe instead of making ourselves feel good and important,
we ought to concentrate on making the kids feel good and by raising their self esteem and preventing abductions.

Loss of integrity, loss of membership For 30 years [or since I was made a mason], I've heard the Masonic Mantra about loss of Membership. Many ideas have surfaced and submerged as to why this has happen. We like to blame everything around us for causing it. But is it not due to our own loss of integrity? We have lived through societies emergence into the civil rights era the American with Disabilities Act. Yet some Masons cannot live up to the Masonic principle that it is the internal qualification of a man that recommend him to Masonry not the external. Yet in many lodges men are denied membership because of their race their religion and yes even their disability. Truth be Known; not everyone can get equal treatment by a freemason of today. Hiram Abiff died to protect his integrity; what will we have to do, to get ours back?

The W.W.W., bearer of Masonic light.
The world wide web or internet is giving us exposure to and excess to information like never before. But I doubt that you remember the 2nd degree lecture as you burn up those electrons! But I'm often transported back to the 1st. Remember the hoodwink? The beauty of the words, without the prejudice of the eyes. Yet, in our daily practice we often forget this lesson.
But not on the internet!
The words reach us, before the eyes behold, and Masonic light prevails.

Suspension of Freedom of Association.
The Information & Recognition comm. recommend to the Grand masters of North America, "suspension of freedom of association".
This anti-American act is not an original idea with the committee but one that was picked up from a Texas web site that urges isolation.
(History has repeattlly shown us that policies of isolation have a tendency to backfire [hurting more than helping the isolationist]).
Unfortunately the policy seems to be a misguided attack against an International org for not regulating attendees at an open meeting!?!
And I always thought the idea behind open meetings were to not regulating who attends [silly me].

GLNF loses suit re: Association A member of the Grand Lodge of France sued over the Grand Lodges apparently restrict his rights of association. Never mind that last year the GLNF leadership gave what I consider the most unMasonic presentation I've ever witnessed at the Information & Recognition Comm. Meeting. But this seems to underscores a lack of moral leadership in the world today. Do we have any vision of human rights anymore!
Why don't we support the U.N. Declaration of Human rights?

Memorization, an American innovation.
Did you know that George Washington and his contemporary's did not memorize their Masonic ritual?
It seems that this American innovation appeared around the time of the anti-Masonic movement in the USA.
Maybe it was done as a counter measure to weed out true Masons vs. someone who purchased one of the many exposes published at that time.
Many of the Grand Lodges are now seeking alternatives [see Changing proficiencies].

Talk about exposures The Franklin Voltaire Lecture [During Masonic Week at the Lodge of the Nine Muses]
this year was given by Mark Tabbert, Curator of Masonic and Fraternal Collection, National Heritage Museum.
His Lecture, a preview of his up and coming book, on Basic American Masonic/ Fraternalism touched on the use of Masonic symbols and ritual, made available by exposures,
to help fuel change and social direction in US society.
Am Looking forward to reading his published works.

Changing Proficiencies
The more we understand human learning process, the more importance understanding holds over memorization.
How is this changing how USA Masons do business?
Paul Bessel, from Washington D.C. reports that 27 US Grand lodges now require education and/or short or no memorization only 23 still require long memorization.
Where are we going?
Back to the independent decision of the local lodge for each of it's members.
An explanation of ones obligation, a more intense lodge education & mentoring systems,
and continued memorization of signs and other modes of recognition.

The International Masonic police,
California started a new Masonic standard.
It entangling itself in Mexican politics.
Not only did it drop diplomatic relations with the Grand Lodge Valle de Mexico over an internal Mexican problem, it indirectly endorsed a Political Party in Mexico.
We are all feeling the cultural changes brought on by the changing demographics of the Hispanic culture and the movement of the Caucasians to minority status, But Hopefully the we can avoid the pitfalls of the past.
It is becoming more painfully clear that the needs of the Hispanic Masons are not being met.

Can we lose US Tax free status? This is not a new question.
The late PGM of Virginia, Cabell Cobbs, answered Yes, due to discrimination.
This was one of his many messages, as he pushed for Afro-Americans in Masonry and the opening of diplomatic recognition with Afro-American Masons.
Today Virginia is the only state of the " Old South" to include blacks in Masonry and offer full diplomatic relations to Afro-American Masons.
Will these rest of the South follow his lead?
Will this lead to healing system for other Masons not in diplomatic recognition?
What does it hold for Hispanic and Women mason?
Are we being True to our country?

The new schism
The battle in each individual's heart as he yearns for true freemasonry & brotherhood is most interesting.
As we negotiate around social culture, falling into the traps of using social, political, and racial labels, We have a tendency to want to dictate what others should or shouldn't do or think to be a good mason.
Thus we lose sight of our goal of Brotherly Love and self improvement.
No, this world will never achieve my ideal of perfection, nor yours.
Nor will I ever achieve my ideal as a human being, although I'll never stop trying.
For I carry a card.
It's called Freemasonry.
And FreeMasonry is the American Express Card of Character.
It is accept most places I go.
And when I use it I'm not asked my politics, my religion, my sexual preference, mydisablities, my culture, my ancestor or even if I'll pay the bill, I am just accept and welcomed for who I am.
Not a stranger but an unmet friend.

Cuba Relief
A medical relief fund has been setup to provide non-prescription and prescription drugs to and through the Grand Lodge of Cuba.
As you can image, with the political situation in the USA, this is not without controversy.
If you believe in Masonic Brotherhood without politics, visit http://freemasonry.org/mrfc to see how you can help.
Kind of reminds you of brotherhood over enemy lines in the US civil war.

New Model Lodges
One of the presentations this year at the Grand Masters Conference was the New Model Lodge.
Sample Mission Statement:
"to assist and support its members in Self-improvement by encouraging the active study and practice of Masonic teachings, emphasizing: 1) Spiritual & Intellectual Growth. 2) Fellowship and Social Interaction 3) Charity 3) Community outreach.
Remember:
"One Size does not fit all"; Customize Lodges.
Emphasize a "theme" or "Specialty".
Communicate with your members.
Practice Universal Freemasonry
Think, time given vs. value received.

Analyzing your Lodges needs.
Many of us do not know where to begin when asked to look at our lodge needs!
Last years Grand Masters conference introduced me to a fabulous program in which the layman could do just that!
At this years Conference they were there with a new web site up were anyone can download the program.
Move over "Masonic renewal committee" the professionals are in town!
So if your Lodge is serious about evaluating were it is, and wishes to establishing realistic and obtainable goals, download and use this program.
What? The SRV Tool .
When? Now!
Where? At www.lodgebuilder.org
How? Click download.

In search of a V.S.L.
Most Masons would argue that Freemasonry is not religious nor promotes religion.
However most Lodges in the USA will not share their altar with the Holy Bible.
To me, this is a travesty in Masonic education.
For masonry knows no man by his religion and a true freemason can kneel at any man's altar!
Now if we are to be true to ancient custom Anderson's constitutions would grace our altars.
But in earlier ages, before the printing press, It was costly to have the constitutions.
You invariably had to hire a scribe.
Along came Gothenburg and his press and a cheap bible.
With the kings permission the economic choice was to replace the book of constitution with the bible.
Since then Commercial interest have created a Masonic Bible.
Know I cannot find a Masonic Koran or Reg Veda but they must be out there somewhere!
Now it is important to have more than one Volume of Sacred Law [VSL] on the altar.
That would help teach the universality of Masonic religious thought.
Many have wrestled with this thought.
An altar would have to be to big to hold all vsl's [I stopped counting at 150]
Some have thought about going back to Anderson's constitution or even using a blank book to symbolize the vast religious thought.
But that carry's the risk of being called an atheist.
Ah ha! Stumbled across a book that might work!
"World Scripture" a comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts.
Sure I'm dreamin, but in one volume is condense the vast religious thoughts expressing human kinds similarities and differences.
From now on this will be my vsl!

French Masonry, the rest of the story
Many of us know little about French freemasonry,
or even how many grand lodges are there are. To some there is one the GL National France others add the Grand Orient or even the GL of France the others we forget.
I often wonder why these Grand Lodges can not agree to coexist in brotherhood, but of course that is too much for any mere mortal to expect!
The USA position is of even more of an interest. I say USA position and position of the 50 Grand Lodges as the Current political movement to influence American Masonry into lock step.
This was illustrated by last years move against the sovereignty of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. [the political movement at the root of this will be discussed later]
The GL of France is unquestionably the oldest and most regular Grand Lodge in France yet it is unrecognized by USA Grand Lodges.
The GLNF on the other hand is recognized by the USA. but it was irregularly formed by lodges from the Grand Orient.
The Grand Orient, whom I was always taught is the atheist Grand Lodge [Which is of course, is untrue] and will never be recognized [probably also untrue].
You might ask how it came to past that the regular became irregular and the irregular, regular.
Now my Grand Master says I should not speculate on this, but if I did, I would guess that it had to do with The Grand Lodges of France's experience during World War II and their acceptance of Afro-American Masons.
Now most of you modern folk still do not understand,
but you see Freemasonry even today can be as bigoted as the pre civil war era.
Just this past year a radio interview in the USA "South" A personage revealed his KKK and Masonic membership as if it was inclusively linked.

The iceberg of culture
Masonic Culture works interesting ways
What we see in often just the tip of the iceberg.
Masonic symbolism that best describes this phenomenon is the all Seeing Eye at the top of the pyramid or triangle.
What we see on the surface is Masonic symbolism, Ritual, Music, utopian morality and Aprons.
As we travel down into the triangle and below the vision of the eye, we begin to see the local cultures with different rituals and unique aprons, habits of beauty and modesty.
As we travel toward the base of the triangle were encounter different incentives to work, new notions of leadership, different patterns of group decision making and approaches to problem solving.
We see different body language, different time of interaction rates, different concepts of friendship.
Many of feel to confused and troubled to go below our eye.
Seeking the comforts of home and wishing for a homogenized form of Universal Freemasonry.
To those of you that wish to explore the reality of our world,
Freemasonry has given you a unique opportunity.

"Cultural Shock"
This is the term used for an experience we all have when we encounter other cultures.
This may happen on a business trip overseas, on a vacation and yes, even over the internet.
Many times we do not realize what is happening to us. We become uneasy, tired, annoyed, and edgy. We are on unfamiliar ground with new ideas & sutael habits. There are even new ways to express old ideas. Time and perseveres will cure all.
In the mean time, just think of your mind as a parachute and keep it open and your passions in due bounds.

Universality Defined.
As often as I use it, I am often reminded that universality has different meanings to different people.
To some the Universality of Masonry means the homogenization of masonry. That is making it all the same. Same ritual, Same symbols, Same agendas, and Same etc. This is not my view of universality.
To still others universality of masonry can be exclusionary depending on what you include or exclude from your universe called Masonry. This again is not my concept of Universality.
Universality to me means the unity of human kind.
That is, no matter you social economic status in life, the culture you live, the religion you follow, the language you speak, the life experiences you have had, or your ancestry, we are still more alike than different.
So I chose to treat you with Brotherly love & morality,
without needing to advocate uniformity
but with the simply desire to share our reality.

Violence & Masonry
Violence and Brutality have followed man kind as he struggled for survival, superiority, and respect. In modern days it often resurfaces in acts of hazing and over zealous superiority. Lodges have fought this battle time and time again with those who wish to take advantage of a helpless candidate and when brutality may be excused in reenactment of the third degree. If you doubt me, explain how the phrase entered the English language, "he got the third degree!" In my home lodge the Grand lodge required the master to read before each 3rd degree a statement reconfirming the solemnest of the degree and denouncing Violence. Yes the 3rd degree needs to be solemn and non violent not only by the actors but by the candidate. At one lodge I witnessed a super combative candidate. He was obviously unprepared for his journey. The ceremony should have been stopped and his preparers approached. I Have meet men who never returned to lodge after the hazing they received at their 3rd degree convinced then that freemasonry was like the immature college fraternity that spoke great words but acted foolish. Yes our over zealousness often breeds temptation in us. But we are here to learn to subdue our passions.
Before we participate in the third degree we need to be sure to learn our lessons well.
A blind man can feel vibration, hear a pin drop and read bumps [Braille],
can you?

The Golden rule "thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"
[The golden rule is found in the Volume of Sacred Law of most all religions
Even as early as 2,000 years B.C.

Fixing Masonry
We are stuck in a whirlpool of confusion!
Do not get sucked down the hole!
The illusion is fixing Masonry.
The job of the old is to resist change.
The job of the young is to change.
Like a balloon in our grasp.
The air will move somewhere
For utopia leads us
And reality shapes us
Yet death is inherent to all
Resistance is futile

Nov'03:

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By a speck of dust, destination unknown

International Freemasons Meetup Day.

Who: Any Mason or wantabes, Sojourners, at a new home, or just passing by. Politics & race are unimportant, but brotherhood is a must!
What: An informal meeting away from Lodge.
When: The first Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m.
Where: In most major cities around the world. [Specific venues are selected by vote each month.]
For the list of current cities, go to: http://www.meetup.com/locale/ Your city not listed?! - help get it on the map by sending the Meetup admin folks 12-15 possible venues[restaurants] locations in your area.
How: Sign up for free over the internet at: http://freemasons.meetup.com
Format: Informal, however, for those who want help, a informal table lodge type format can be found at:

The Invasion of Baja California.
In a World with shrinking borders the population is becoming more fluid in their movements.
Most of us are aware of US Citizens going to Canada to buy subscription drugs.
But now there is another economic battle going on; South of the Border.
Yes, US citizens are going south in large numbers in search of a place to escape the high cost of living and Real estate cost back home.
In the process they are changing communities and creating new culture.
When I began to rely on a fixed income, many folks suggested that I consider such a move, but I'm still here in Maryland, USA.
What's this have to do with Freemasonry?
In the past, say, British Empire Days, When Freemasonry found it self in new areas it was free to bring in a new culture, which it did!
Mainly to serve the many sojourning brethren that found themselves in new worlds. Today, Masonry is not so homogenous.
As US citizens flock South in search of low cost of living and as Mexican citizens flock North in search of jobs,
Two great Masonic cultures have began to clash.
Brotherhood is now taking a backseat to race, language and politics.
Have we learned anything from history? Yes, It has even been reported that if you are a Spanish Speaking Lodge in the US you could be under surveillance by your Grand Lodge.
One of the more interesting maneuvers is that some in the USA are implying that the mix of Masonry and politics in Mexico has gone bad.
Yet, they support Mexican Lodges that are supporting particular candidates, Interesting!
Are we not missing a great opportunity here?
For one, I think we are.
Hopefully, there are others who feel that brotherhood will work to conquer this mess caused by economics, power, prejudice and politics.

Membership & Cutting off your nose.
"Cutting off you nose despite your face", that is doing something that hurts and disfigures you instead of helping you.
That is the major lesson in learning to subdue your passions.
Thus what you do will help you and not hurt you.
Why do I associate this maxim with the great membership debate in Freemasonry?
Because, we are missing the obvious..
In our hurry to tell everyone how to live or to cultivate new interest in our fraternity, we are turning away those who already have shown an interest.
Who are these people? You ask
Are there those who we are failing to help find the way!
Is our brotherhood truly limited.
Many of you know that I am a sojourner in Maryland. When I first arrived here, I busily attended all of the lodges in my area. Unfortunately I was informed that the lodges here will always be "racially pure".
Needlessly to say I never affiliated here in Maryland and am still looking for true brotherhood!
Now I did not tell you this story to underline the road blocks in masonry due to discrimination.
But to point out the fact that a lot of younger/newer members of those same lodges, felt that that such an attitude was unjust and wrong and not their idea of masonry.
That they had always been too busy to see this side of masonry.
Guess it's the Masonic version of "keep them pregnant and barefoot".
They say Love is blind, so it is with the great maxims in masonry vs. the practice of our brotherhood.
So Who are these people with interest that we are turning down?
People who are already Freemasons in their mind, in their neighbors mind, and in Gods mind.
Brethren that our Grand Lodges refuse to recognize.
Call them bogus, call them clandestine, call them atheist, just don't call them brethren.
You would expect that a fraternity that prides it self on true brotherhood would teach its members by acts of brotherhood. To mediate, the cultural differences amongst us, bringing us together.
Instead we are but taught and rewarded to be followers and sing the mantra "We Goody two shoes", there is no help for these widow's sons!
My obligation was to god and my brethren - to all my brethren.
The circumstance of his position is not the [true] measure of his heart.
Will brotherhood become irrelevant in the near future??
Find the truth in your enemies! Before its to late!

Prayer.
Prayer in Lodge has always confused me.
We are told that we need to do this for ourselves [thinking for ourselves, what a grand idea!]
But even after we are taught to do it ourselves, it is done for us!?
In my Religion, I was taught to do it behind close doors [out of others sight]. It's even in the Bible!
This was to avoid the insincerity of institutionalized prayer and the appearance of hypocrisy.
Then there is the painting of George Washington Kneeling in prayer.
Talk about artistic license!
Anybody that knows about George, knows he did not kneel.
There is even the documented disagreement with his minister, his refusal to kneel in church [required} and his arrest for violation of the Sunday "Blue Laws".
Yes, I firmly believe that a freemason can kneel at any man's alter.
For God belongs to no religion.
But do you need to kneel to be heard!?

The Saints John. Many people have mistakenly identified & linked the moral character of the Saints John to Masonry.
Guess it's our human rationalization at work as we intertwine our religious beliefs with the fraternity.
The actual affiliation of Saint's John Days, are just that, calendar days.
In astrology, the vernal equinox and the autumnal equinox.
Which The Rome Catholic Calendar referred to as the Saint's John Days
Now back when many folks did not have printed calendars, days were remembered by occasions and celebrations.
The Masons end up with the Saint's John Days.

May'03:

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(a splattering of ideas and random thoughts)
by a speck of dust, destination unknown


Welcome back to the portals of my mind.
I am amused at the obsession we have to differentiate and label fellow Masons; be it McMasons, PH Masons, Fundamentalist masons, good masons or bad masons.
It appears that we are reverting back to our childhood. Into those days of the sand box wars. When will this one-up-man-ship ever end?
The fact there are so many approaches, perceptions and interpretations in Masonry, It is often seen and described as great divides. In fact it is simply our own inadequacy to deal with the diversity found in reality.
The true Masonic Master is like the celebrated artist; the beauty he creates is not painted by the numbers
We will never think alike and we should not force another to think as we do.
Freemasonry is the American Express card of Character.
It's issued on your ability to treat others in a moral and ethical manner.
Not for your conformity of thought and action.
It is only through exposed, experience and embarrassment that will allow us to perceive the light.
For unmasonic behavior is often just a dichotomy in our minds

Kenya and Masonry
Kenya has been experiencing strong anti- Masonic feelings as the result of anti-colonial feelings that have swept the country.
It is my hope that the English, Scots, and Irish there can parlay those feelings into a Grand Lodge of Kenya.
Several Native Kenyans have returned from overseas with Masonic credentials.p Turks in Romania
On 29 August 2002 the GL of Romania chartered the Turkish speaking Lodge; Isik Lodge # 128.
Isik Lodge will also use Turkish ritual. It is reported that the brethren include those with ancestral roots From Albania, Iraq, Turkmenistan and Turkey.

Nutragenetics
This new study may change our lives.
It seems that our genetics actually determine the nutrients that work best for us.
Yes, tailored diets.
Again the pendulum swings toward individual rights and away from group rights.
Masonically, the Scotts may have it right, with local lodge sovereignty being stronger than the Grand Lodge.
Maybe this is the principle behind Grade Lodge switching by lodges in S.America?

Masonry in the news:
Excerpts from article in The Wenatchee World, WA. 3/30/03 By Laurie Smith
The Wenatchee Masonic Temple must disclose its membership list to plaintiffs in a lawsuit accusing the nonprofit corporation of discriminating against women, a judge ruled on Friday morning.
Temple leaders had argued that releasing the list would violate the Masonic Code. They also claimed the plaintiffs, the mostly female Astral Chapter No. 75, Order of the Eastern Star, planned to use the information "impermissibly" to advance their own political agenda

. Excerpts from article in the New York Post May 19,2003 By FREDRIC U. DICKER
FEARING he would commit "a grave sin" in the eyes of the Catholic Church, Gov. Pataki has canceled his plan to join the Masons, The Post has learned.
A May 13 notice on the New York Mason's Web site is headlined "Gov. George Pataki to become a Mason."
A formal Vatican ruling, approved by Pope John Paul II and made available to The Post by a prominent New York Catholic, forbids membership in the Masons, declaring, "The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion."

Philalethes Society under investigation
"The Grand Master of New York appointed a Committee to Investigate the Philalethes Society in order to determine whether or not they have strayed from their intended role as researchers by creating disharmony and chaos in Regular Freemasonry by interfering and undermining the recognized procedures practiced worldwide by Regular Grand Lodge in the areas of Recognition and Territorial Sovereignty." As reported on PSOC list.

Back to the Rat Race.
It seems that race creeps into every thing we do or don't do.
You would think with DNA and common ancestral links, the concepts of race would come to end.
It is the internal and not the external, isn't it?
You know there are only 5 genes that make up skin pigments.
Did you know there are many many Caucasians of color?
It's interesting how our perceptions are formed. A family friend was visiting my family in Kenya when he used the label black on a native girl. With hands on her hips, she sternly replied" I'm not black. I'm Kikuyu [her tribe], we're brown! Luo's [a tribe] are black!
I have been places were kids wanted to touch me just because they had never seen a white man before.
You know if the anthropologists are right, I'm really Afro American!

May Masonic Light shine everywhere:
It's temple, all space;
It's creed, all truth;
It's shrine, the good heart;
It's scripture, all wisdom;
It's ritual, works of love;
It's mission, divine living.
- Adapted from Theodore Parker

May brotherly love prevail and ever moral and social virtue, cement us.
So Mote it be.

Feb'03:

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By a speck of dust, destination unknown Starting with the new year, I went on a fast for unrecognized brethren. I called it the "Fast For Forgotten Brethren"[fffb],
This month I have included some post from the Fast if you wish to read it all, it can be found at http://dmdj.kofu33.org

Statistics and a loss of membership
For my entire life in freemasonry, some 29 years, this loss of membership thing has become the preverbal broken record. No one wants responsibility and most of the time, we live in denial. Then Stats came into vogue. [now I must warn you that I was a statistician for the USDA many moons ago estimating crop yields]. Yes, I know about mixing apples and orgies . First, it was the reflection on the decline after the World War surge in members that galvanized us. Then we discovered that our number were linked in the "Missing Mason". And just the other day at the Grand Masters Conference, a program was unveiled that showed the individual lodge how many new members they need to keep ahead and how many missing mason they need to keep from "Missing". Strangely enough we still do not know why Masons become "missing", is it a lack of brotherhood? Now some wish to conclude that it has to do with time competition. No doubt!. But there are two things we have over looked. 1.moral completion and 2. Population demographics.
Moral competition; Freemasonry was absent from the civil rights era, guess we always thought we had it together!?!
And the demographic bomb, the graying of the Caucasian base and the raise of the Minorities.
No wonder Prince Hall masons are more youthful and invigorating.
The Latino/Hispanic population is going to cause any other shift in Masonry.
Just Last week California asked the Grand Masters of America for help deciphering masonry south of the border.
Who's stats are we looking at!?!

Esoteric Masonry, Yes we are still looking for a good definition.
Maybe it is simply the search for the meaning behind the metaphors.
The confusion it seems comes for the fact that we each us interpret Masonry on a scale.
At one end of that scale is literal interpretation. At the other end is Metaphoric interpretation.
Our blending of these two extremes put us each at a different place.

[fffb]Sunday, 2 February 03

Today is the 33rd day of the year and the 33rd day of "Fast For Forgotten Brethren"

"A Day for Silence and Reflection"

Masonry began and ends, in my heart.

Idealism lived turns utopia into reality.

May Masonic Light shine everywhere:
It's temple, all space;
It's creed, all truth;
It's shrine, the good heart;
It's scripture, all wisdom;
It's ritual, works of love;
It's mission, divine living.
- Adapted from Theodore Parker

May brotherly love prevail and ever moral and social virtue, cement us. So Mote it be.

[fffb] Re: Why do you refer to this as the "Great Sandbox Wars"?
To me, it reminds of my youth in the sandbox;
who is the better and bigger Freemason;
whose god is bigger;
who is right;
who is wrong?

My Brethren,
This is not about right vs. wrong,
It is not about youth vs. age,
It is not about looks vs. ugly,
It is not about rich vs. poor,
It is not about education vs. ignorance,
It is not about conservatives vs. liberals,
It is not about my culture vs. your culture,
It is not about black vs. white,
It is not about faith vs. spirituality.

What this is about, is the very heart & soul of the Brotherhood of Man under the fatherhood of the G.A.O.T.U.

[fffb] Monday, 20 January 03
Twenty Days; not yet half way, but then true brotherhood is worth it!
Re: Do you think we are doing any good?
To question actions within the oldest fraternity in the world is like riding a broncosaurus. And we're still on!
Yes, of course we are doing some good.
Truth & Right can not lose.

> "We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people." Martin Luther King in 1963 from Birmingham Jail [fffb] Re: Who's brother are you anyway?
This is not a fair weather Brotherhood. And I am not here to cover for you. I'm here to learn to live a better life. Everyone has a claim upon my good offices!
[fffb]A definition to share. Source:
"Out of the Shadows"[The Emergence of Prince Hall Freemasonry in America] by Alton G. Roundtree and Paul M. Bessel
Exclusive Jurisdiction: This is the American Doctrine that is generally (but not always) interpreted as holding that there can be only one Grand Lodge in an established jurisdiction (state/territory). The Doctrine of Exclusive Jurisdiction was followed by all North American Grand Lodges until recently (some have specifically abandoned it now, and some quietly ignore it). This doctrine is against Lodges formed among Negro Americans (they having been branded Irregular and Clandestine) being deprived of the privilege of regular membership by the use of the ballot in individual Lodges

[fffb] I have been asked to stop the fast by several Brothers, as well, to not include the Brethren from the Grand Lodge of France.
You must realize that I am obligated to aid & asst. all my Brethren no matter your or their political leanings.
My answer is "No"!

[fffb] Clarification/Disclaimer Because of my many leadership roles and affiliations, some of you have read into my actions, sponsorship or affiliation by various groups.
However the "Fast For Forgotten Brethren" is simple my individual reaction to the political posturing in Freemasonry.
I have not, and will not, seek endorsements, sponsorships or affiliations of any groups.
My call was made as an individual man to individual men who wish to join my call.

[fffb] Re: Correlation between falling membership and equal rights.
I Agree that there is probably a correlation.
There is no doubt in my mind that many people of the civil rights era steered away from the fraternity because it failed to emulate equality.
Exactly what that correlation is, is hard to tell, As you may or may not be aware The Fraternity tends to shy away from this type of statistics .
[We like to fool ourselves in matters of brotherhood and equality].

[fffb]Re: Define what you mean by Universal Brotherhood?
Universal brotherhood in Freemasonry is some what of an oxymoron.
Each person has his own, if and's and buts [including the racial problem that is still being played out in the USA].

Remember, Freemasonry spread worldwide during the colonial period, most widely with the British Empire. At that time Universality was a status symbol. Lodges served mostly expatriates. Freemasonry was adopted by only a few indigenous populations, notable in India and Turkey. These if and's and butts left Masonic principles to be defined and culturally adapted throughout the world. Thus you have groups that have a religious, political, and. even economic slants. It is my belief that tolerance should be wisely administered to protect the human rights of each and every freemason.
After all, he is my brother, and I am not my brother's keeper! Our jobs are to help one another navigate our ways through this world and our lives. Belonging to Freemasonry is like being issue an America Express card of character. We have become spiritual bonded to an idea, the idea of "Universal Brotherhood". Yet, it is true that each of us defines our own form of universality [the length of our cable tows] and neither knowledge nor ignorance should dictate that length.
{fffb] Fast Prayer As I begin this "Fast", I ask God to sustain me, and sincerely hope that this effort brings focus to that which is important, inspiring both intellectual strength and courage. May brotherly love prevail and ever moral and social virtue, cement us.
So Mote it be.

"The only devils running around are those within our own hearts. There is where the battle lies." Gandhi

Nov'02:

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By a speck of dust, destination unknown

Masonic light and the windshield.
I was richly blessed this last October, In attending a retreat with several brothers. For a full weekend, we shared our thoughts on esoteric Freemasonry. There are about as many interpretations to the word esoteric as there are masons. Maybe something hidden to inspire our intellects? My interpretation of the word esoteric refers to our individual interpretation. This interpretation, based on one's perception, peripheral vision, experience + education.. It has always interested me how we fill the time in our lives, the games we play, the business we involved ourselves and the noise we generate. But, for some reason I am drawn to Masonic light, like a bug to the porch light! As the Hindu's might say that we are seeking Moksha Or if you follow the Kabbalah, a glimpse of the Divine Persona.
An interesting thing happened there. I won the door prize for being the oldest one present! This really threw me for a loop, as you see I'm only 52! What was worse, as soon as the pronouncement of being the oldest was made, my mother showed up!. Thank God she was only in my mind or I would have become terribly embarrassed. Any way there she stood, her arms full of baggage. She was telling me of all my duties that had to be preformed since I was the oldest. "I'm a brother here, mom. Not my brothers' keeper!" I Said. She opened the bags[society's bags] and started handing me papers. Yes, each had a written rule on it! "But mom, I've been divested of all metallic substances." Then with her hands on her hips, she gently reminded me of the "3 R's". Exclaiming, "Recite, Remember, + Regurgitate". And Poof she was gone!
Well, as I returned to reality I was muttering over and over again, as if singing a mantra;" I am not my Brothers keeper, I am not My brothers Keeper". One lesson stood out. We are each individuals who are flowering, so as leaders and teachers we'd better hurry up with the fertilizer and water.
The weekend came to a close, and the most esoteric experience was just the experience of being alive amongst my brothers

A Mason without borders [Borders can be political-geographic or totally in the mind; race, religion, cultural, etc.]
There are many brethren that I admire as a mason without border. Whose interest is in the welfare of their fellow man. Giving their fellow man light becomes of the utmost importance. Sort of like "A solider of the people" These Brethren may include someone you may know. Let me share with you the tell of Brother Jeff Marshall. While on Duty with the US Army in Bosnia. Col Marshall held a Masonic study group. This group included many from different religions, races and recognitions, but the light was Bright! Thanks Jeff, this salute is for you.

Alaska and Russia
The Grand Lodge of Alaska has formed a Russian Relations Committee to work with the Grand Lodge of Russia in establishing Lodges in east Russia. If you wish to help, a donation of $200. will give membership in a Russian Lodge and updates to their progress. Contact John Grainger, Russian Relations Committee P.O. Box 5326 Ketchikan, AK 99901
The obligation is the "Great Expectation" of Freemasonry!

Economics and freemasonry
I started my career as an economist. However I never really connected the two until now. There is one particular Grand Lodge we recognize, that seemed to tie economic benefit to their brotherhood. This was never appealing to me and in my view very unmasonic. Yet on reflection; the ideas sweeping the world today are: peace, democracy, civil rights, and free trade. Freemasonry in fact owes its universal spread to the British Empire in its grasp of empire + economics. What is even more curious to me is the Masonic aphorism: "you will meet no strangers here, only friend you have not met". What is striking with this aphorism is the similarly of to then meaning to the Greek word "trade".
It can is argued that democracy in today's world is the main idea that leads to peace, civil rights and free trade. Will Freemasonry ever become democratic?

The Square
Is a very ancient symbol, used in ancient India, in China, and in Egypt and other early civilizations.. It helped the ancient world search for spiritual Truth, or as the Greeks would say, "Gnosis". Times 4 it became the Greek, "Gammadion", source of the Jewish unspeakable word for God. And so rose the theory of a square/flat earth. Which leads us back to the letter "G"!?!

"Once you stop clinging and let things be, you'll be free, even of birth and death. You'll transform everything.....And you'll be at peace wherever you are." the 5th century, Zen Master Bodhidharma:
Was Bodhidharma subduing his passions?

A Final toast

May we offer the hope,
That all members of our human family,
No matter where dispersed upon the face of this earth and
No matter their culture, race, religion, sex or social order,
May you be blessed;
with a speedy relief, from your suffering
with a heart that leads you to happiness;
with thoughts that flourish in freedom;
with a gentle and soothing soul;
with acts of loving kindness to all.
So Mote It Be!

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"DISCLAIMER"
"The veiws expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or speak for any Masonic entity."