Monday, June 24, 2013
I posted yesterday regarding my early experience in Freemasonry and the frustrations that I had. Bro. Cliff has shared a similar experience early on in his Masonic career as well and also chose to find the real Freemasonry in a sea of one day classes and membership recruitment imposters (by imposter, I mean the system of making Masons this way is an imposter, not the unsuspecting Brethren who are lured into joining in a way that they will most likely regret for the rest of their Masonic lives).
This post talks about what should actually matter in the Craft: the fact that this Fraternity has done more to unify people than any other institution in the history of the world.
I'll let Cliff tell you the rest....
Sunday, June 23, 2013
It's been a few months since I've posted anything legitimate on here and I'll explain to you why.....
I became very upset with Freemasonry for a brief period. Not the Fraternity as a whole, just my personal experience with it.
I am a member of two lodges. One I was entered, passed, raised, and was an officer in (we will herein after refer to this lodge as "Lodge No. 1" for the purpose of anonymity) and the other I was just a regular member of (we will call this Lodge No. 2). Unfortunately for me, the lodge where I went through a major portion of my Masonic development (Lodge No.1) became the reason why I shied away from Freemasonry for a brief period.
I became the Junior Warden of Lodge No. 1 less than a year after I became a Master Mason. I didn't know nearly enough about Freemasonry or what it was supposed to be and/or accomplish at the time. As I progressed throughout my Masonic journey, I started to visit other lodges and became a dual member of Lodge No. 2. When I joined Lodge No. 2 and became involved in the lodge, giving Masonic lectures, conferring degrees, etc, that was the first time I realized what Freemasonry was supposed to be. I knew totally that I belonged in Lodge No. 2.
This was good news and bad news. I found my niche in the Fraternity because of my involvement with Lodge No. 2 but I was still an officer in the line in Lodge No. 1. My intention became to do everything I could to attempt to make Lodge No. 1 just like Lodge No. 2. This way, I wouldn't have to step away from Lodge No. 1 but I could still get out of Freemasonry what I knew I needed to get.
This didn't work out well for me. There was an old guard at Lodge No. 1 who, no matter what idea or suggestion I had, would tell me why it wouldn't work and that we weren't going to do it. I attempted to explain to them why new members would come and immediately go, never to be seen again, but they would not entertain my rationale. According to them, it wasn't their fault that men would get one or two degrees and never come again, it was the candidate's fault. I was totally shocked at the fact that they could not understand my point of view. Didn't they actually want Freemasonry?
For two years, I did everything I could and gave it everything I had and I ended up in the exact same position I was in at the beginning: absolutely miserable. I stopped going to meetings, stopped reading and writing about Masonry, and just took a break. Finally, one day, I decided that just because the men in Lodge No. 1 didn't want Freemasonry (or at least my version of it; but believe me, there was nothing resembling Freemasonry there) didn't mean I was going to let them ruin it on me. I informed the membership at Lodge No. 1 that I would not seek election to the next chair (which would be Master) and, at the end of my term as Senior Warden, I would be demitting. I informed Lodge No. 2 that they would be my primary focus.
I have never felt more energized with Freemasonry than I do now after making this decision. It's almost as if a weight has been taken off of me. I dreaded going to meetings or anything to do with Lodge No. 1. It became a chore for me. Now I am somewhere positive where they truly understand what Freemasonry is. When I told this story to the members of Lodge No. 2, they told me, "Good for you, this is where you belong." Not only did I know it was right, they did too.
So, the purpose of telling this slightly depressing story is two-fold. First, I did it to inform the Brethren who read this blog and those I converse with regularly on the internet about why I haven't been writing much and, secondly, to let anyone who is in a similar situation know that Freemasonry actually exists out there. Don't let your experience in one lodge ruin everything that this Fraternity has to offer you. There is a place where you belong, one that will cultivate you as a Mason, where the membership is concerned about your well being (both personal and Masonic) and can serve as an environment where you can become the Master Mason that you intended to be when you petitioned Freemasonry in the first place.
As I sit back and ponder this story, I wonder how many great men this Fraternity has lost as a result of them being in the same situation that I was in. I wonder how many didn't realize that something better was out there and just walked away, for the rest of their lives thinking that Freemasonry is nothing more than reading minutes at a lodge meeting, listening to everyone complain but no one doing anything about it, eating crappy food, and going home. I cannot explain in words how upset it makes me to know that there are men who are members of our great Fraternity who take it for granted so much that, because of their ignorance to the actual tenets of Freemasonry, have caused great men to walk away. These men will not just talk away quietly, they will tell their friends and family about how bad their experience was, which will further blemish the reputation that we have spent 300+ years creating. Members like this are the reason that people think Freemasonry is nothing more than a social club for old men. We are no longer looked at as a Fraternity with the ability to serve as a catalyst for social change.
But there is hope!
If you are in this situation, do not let it get the best of you. If there is no hope in saving your lodge, find one that fits you and transfer there. Not every lodge can, or should, be saved. You deserve to have the Freemasonry promised to you when you petitioned. Do not let anyone tell you different. I may not have been made a Mason in a traditional observance lodge, but I am most definitely a traditional observance Mason and I will not, nor should you, allow anyone to tell you different. This Fraternity is the greatest association of men in the history of mankind and it will always be so.
Those of us who know what Freemasonry really is are in the process of taking it back. We don't want to change Freemasonry; we want what Freemasonry is supposed to be. The current state of the Fraternity is the result of change. It is the result of membership drives and one day classes; decreased standards for admission and the lack of proficiency for advancement; donating money to non-Masonic charities instead of taking care of our Brethren; lack of Masonic education and development; all aimed at increasing membership at any cost. Now, the men who became Masons who, according to our previous standards would never have been admitted into the Fraternity, have become lodge leaders, education chairmen, and, even worse, Grand Masters. The Masonic Restoration Foundation is a group of Masons who are motivated and driven to return Freemasonry to what is once was. The organization sponsors a symposium every year at a different lodge throughout the country. This year's is being held August 16-18 in Manchester, New Hampshire and is hosted by Phoenix Lodge No. 105, New Hampshire's first Traditional Observance Lodge. I will be a session speaker at this event along with many other Brothers from throughout the country. If you would like to attend and enjoy the company of Brethren who understand the true potential of this Fraternity, please go to http://www.mrf2013.org/ or http://www.masonicrestorationfoundation.org/ for more information regarding registration, hotel accommodations, speaker lists, etc.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
When did the world become to evil?
The more I observe the interactions of the human beings of the world, the more I realize one specific thing: everyone is out to get everyone. Revenge is rampant. Hatred is everywhere. Anger seems to be the most common emotion.
Why? A question that is much easier to ask than to answer, but I'll give it a try anyway.
I am going to attempt to speak about people in an extremely general way, which, I know, does not hold much ground from a philosophical sense. According to a report released by the United Nations, as of October 31, 2011, there was approx. 7 billion people in the world. I can safely say that I have not met even the remotest fraction of them, which really does not provide me with any argumentative grounding for the generalized statements I am about to make.
So, in light of this shaky foundation, I will say this: The people I am speaking about in a generalized way are the people I have met and/or interact with on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis. I know people in different regions of the world have different attitudes and different philosophies on life, which result in different interactions between them. I am quite aware of this. So, I am again speaking of only the people who live in the region I live in, or people that I have met who, even though they may live in far off regions, can be categorized in the same fashion.
Now that I have provided some form of philosophical stabilization (although I am not sure how stable), I will proceed.
People have become evil. Maybe they were before and I just didn't notice it. I see it now, though. Quite clearly, in fact. I ask myself every day, "what happened to humanity?" or "what is going on in this world that people are so nasty to each other?" and I struggle for answers. But, today, as I was thinking about this subject, something occurred to me. I think I know why people are so evil and mean to each other, and the answer is........Power.
People have this constant need to feel some form of power over other people. This is nothing new. Battles between classes have been around for ages and the history of the world illustrates quite well man's need for power over other men.
So, did it go away at one point? How come it did not become to prevalent to me until recently? I don't think it ever went away, but I do think that the demographic of those who desire power is changing.
The power struggle was, historically, between upper class and lower class people. Between the aristocracy and the commoners. Freemasonry did a great job of bridging this gap. It allowed people of both social classes to stand on equal footing with each other inside the lodge. When our country was founded, there was a distinction between the aristocrats and the common people. As the country progressed, this distinction became less and less and resulted in the creation of the middle class. It resulted in a stronger sense of benevolence on the part of the "haves" to assist and provide for the "have nots".
Although Freemasonry is not credited as a driving factor of this new found charity and social understanding, its prominence in the United States and its strong influence on men, and in turn, society as a whole, cannot simply be tossed aside. It would be far too much to say that Freemasonry caused the formation of the middle class and the connection between the different socioeconomic portions of the population, but it would be quite proper to say that the value system that Freemasonry promulgates (which can also be found outside of the Fraternity) absolutely played a part in it.
What does this have to do with my new found observation of the evil of society? Well, it shows us that something existed previously that is now absent. It shows us the absence of values, specifically charity.
I speak here not of charity in the monetary sense, but of charity in the Masonic sense.
The population lost the desire to see other people happy. Most people do not desire to help others any more. They do not want to see others succeed. They want to see themselves succeed, even if they are less qualified. Charity has been replaced with greed and greed's evil grin is seen on the faces of many people throughout the civilized world.
The workplace is no longer a team atmosphere. People no longer work with each other and help each other out to get the job done. It has become a proverbial street where people are tossed underneath the metaphorical bus by those who are jealous of their success. Back stabbing has become the prominent method of promotion in corporate society.
This also translates out into the non-corporate world (if such a thing even exists any longer). People driving down the highway will go out of their way to block another person from switching lanes. People will drive past you at a 1000 mph just to prove that they can drive faster than you....that they have the power. The backstabbing and under-the-bus-throwing of the corporate world has become the common place attitude of interaction between the people of this world. Everything has become a constant competition.
Even things as seemingly harmless as monetary charitable contributions have become infected with this. Organizations fight with each other in an attempt to prove one's superiority by the amount of dollars donated to charity, as if they are saying, "We are great people! We donate millions to charity! We may do other really awful things, but we donate a lot which makes us better than the other guys!" Obviously this is not an actual quote by any group, although I do feel like this is what I hear when they speak.
So, now that I just ranted about how terrible of a place the world is, I guess the question that should be asked here is, "What the hell can we do about it?"
Here's what we can do........
We have had the advantage of having been initiated into the Masonic Fraternity. We are taught to obey a strict system of morality that constitutes three basic, but very meaningful duties: brotherly love (or charity), relief, and truth. It is these three duties that are absent in the world outside of the Masonic lodge. It is these three duties that need to be integrated back into society.
The Pennsylvania Closing Charge has a few lines in it that hit home every time I hear them. If only we can all apply what is says to ourselves and set the example in the world as a whole. The lines are:
"Remember Brethren, that these solemn rites, of which you have been partakers,
and your parts in them, are as binding on your consciences out of the lodge as
within it. They are links in that chain made in life for eternity. And these
generous principles are to extend farther; every human being has a claim upon
your kind officers. So that we enjoin it upon you: do good to all!
While we recommend it more especially to those who are of the household of the
In these lines, this amalgamation of words, there is a very serious thing. A thing that has the potential to change the world. The solemn rites that we all take for granted have the ability to change who we are. They have the ability to make us better. And it is then our duty to take that better person and take him out into the world and show society what it means to be one.
Live bit it.
Live by the philosophy of these rites, for they are not simply ceremonies. They are links in the chain of life! And that chain will go on into eternity! We need to make the chain strong and use it to pull the rest of the world with us.
As Masons, we have a responsibility to change the world! We have done so throughout the existence of the Craft and we cannot become content with not doing so now. The Craft has positively influenced the development of modern society more than any other organization on the face of the planet, and now, without it's influence, society is beginning to crumble because it had it's foundation of brotherly love, relief, and truth pulled out from underneath it.
We need to rebuild this foundation. We need to rebuild Freemasonry by rebuilding ourselves, and by rebuilding ourselves, we will, in turn, rebuild the brotherly love, relief, and truth of the world as a whole. We have the ability and, more importantly, the responsibility to do so.
To quote a favorite Masonic author of mine:
"This is the true secret of Freemasonry and that which it is trying to teach
the whole world."
Monday, March 4, 2013
Information on registration, hotel reservations, and the speaker list/event schedule have been released for the 4th Annual Masonic Restoration Foundation Symposium by the host lodge, Phoenix Lodge No. 105.
The website is http://www.mrf2013.org/.
If you plan on attending, please register as soon as possible. There is a limit on the event and once that number has been reached, registration will be closed. We would love to have you join us in Manchester so please register soon!
I have attached the speaker list/event schedule to this post but there is much more information on the site and on the event's Facebook page.
Hope to see you all in Manchester!!
Saturday, January 19, 2013
I am ecstatic to announce that I have been invited to speak at the Masonic Restoration Foundation 4th Annual Symposium which will be taking place on August 16-18, 2013 in Manchester, New Hampshire. It is being hosted by Phoenix Lodge No. 105 and coordinated by my friend and Brother Paul C. Smith. WB Paul was kind enough to release the speakers list for the Symposium with more details following. Here are the topics and presenters:
"The Middle Chamber: The State of Observant Masonry Today"
by WB Andrew Hammer
"The Magic of Masonry: Pathways to Apotheosis"
by WB Kirk White
"Visionary Leadership: How to Achieve Your T.O. Goals"
by WB Robert Herd
"Admit Him If Properly Clothed: The Evolution of the Masonic Apron in America"
by WB Patrick Craddock
"Recapturing the Educational Legacy of Traditional Observance"
by WB Piers A. Vaughn
"A Survey of the Creation, Rise, Progress, and Future of the Masonic Restoration Foundation"
by WB Mark A. Tabbert
"The Potential for Advancement of Masonic Knowledge in the Age of New Media"
by Bro. Kyle Ferguson (yours truly)
"Remove Not the Ancient Landmarks: A Classical and Traditional Vision for Lodge Observance"
by WB Shawn Eyer
And, last but not least, the Keynote Speaker will be no other than RWB Thomas W. Jackson, Past Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, current Executive Secretary for the World Conference of Masonic Grand Lodges, eminent Masonic scholar, and all around nice guy!
I am beyond honored to be asked to speak alongside these great Masons. I remember attending the 2nd Annual Symposium in Alexandria, VA not long after I became a Mason. It had such a positive effect on me and changed the way I would view Freemasonry. Now, two years later, I have the distinct honor of presenting at this fantastic gathering of some of the best Freemasons in the country. I cannot contain my excitement and am very much looking forward to hearing some fantastic presentations and making some new friends in the process.
As WB Paul releases more information, I will post it here.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Here is a link to a great post describing the seven blunders of the Masonic world. Very insightful and really hits the nail on the head as to the major problems affecting modern Freemasonry. If we could only tackle these seven blunders, imagine the change that would ensue!
SEVEN BLUNDERS OF THE MASONIC WORLD