Go to the page, read Shawn's musings on Freemasonry, and enjoy!
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
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Dear Hometown Lodge No, 1 in Hometown ,USA,
My name is Bro. John Smith. A lot of the new members of your lodge do not know who I am because I have not been involved in lodge activities in years.
When I joined Freemasonry, I was eager and motivated like I am sure most of you new members are. The degrees were amazing. They talked about becoming a better person by using philosophy, intellectualism, and spirituality. I was enthralled by this because, in my eyes, Freemasonry was doing something that society could never hope to accomplish: to make intellectualism and philosophy, spirituality and science, coexist in an environment where each one was important as it was because of the other. Society took a either/or approach to the world; Freemasonry took a both/and one.
I studied as hard as I could. I memorized ritual, learned symbolism, and looked for the symbolic meaning in everything. I never really heard any talk at all about the symbolic meaning of our ritual and symbolism. I had come to the conclusion that it was up to me to figure it out for myself, and that must have been the reason why no one was talking about it.
Eventually, I received my Master Mason's Degree. It was one of the greatest nights of my life. A friend of mine, who was a Brother, and the Worshipful Master of his lodge even came to see me receive the degree. It tied everything together so perfectly and allowed all of the things I was studying to make complete sense to me. I knew there was so much more studying and learning to be done, but I now had a clear map to guide me on my journey. My mind felt energized.
I was now able to attend lodge and take part in the things that, up to that point, I had not been allowed to. Within a few months I had learned the First and Second Degrees and began conferring them on candidates. I was also being asked about taking Junior Warden the following year. All of these things were absolutely great, but it felt like something was missing. In the degrees, it talked about constantly trying to perfect yourself, always applying Masonic philosophy to everything you do, advocating intellectualism and spirituality. All of these things seemed to be totally absent. After a few months of observation, I came to realize that the only place these things were even mentioned within my lodge was in the ritual. Once a degree was over, you heard nothing about it.
At this point, I still felt it was up to me to find those things and that was intention of Freemasonry. Then I began to visit other lodges and it was totally different. They had presentations at meetings! This enthralled me because we never had presentations at meetings in my lodge. We opened, paid the bills, did a degree if there was one to do, then closed. On the months when there was no degree, we just paid the bills. I had thought for the longest time that this was what the lodge experience was supposed to be like, until I visited other lodges and realized it was much different.
Well, the time comes that I am to be installed as Junior Warden. Even thought I had come to some pretty sad realizations about the lodge I joined, I still had hope that somewhere within that group of men was the Freemasonry I was dying for. I am sworn in as Junior Warden and conducted to my station. I was filled with pride to be an elected officer....until about 5 minutes before we closed the meeting. I had thought that maybe a Past Master would stand up and congratulate the newly elected and installed officers. I was wrong. Once stood up and began to complain that, at the last roast beef dinner, not enough people helped. This echoed by pretty much everyone in attendance. Myself and some of the younger men who had been either elected or appointed were looking at each other in awe. This is the best we say to our newly elected officers? I was so let down. Then, after our post-meeting meal, I was personally called out for not showing up early enough on the day of the roast beef dinner. I had explained to them that I had something with my family I had to attend to that morning that I couldn't miss. I even told them that on the day of the dinner. I was told, "That's not good enough. We all have families. You should have been here earlier." Even thought I put in a solid 12 hours working at the dinner that day, I received this in return. I cannot explain how upset that made me. I was so excited to be installed Junior Warden and, once it actually happens, this is all my lodge can think about. Putting down another Brother for putting family first. I thought family was supposed to come before anything in Freemasonry?
This is when I began to stop going to lodge activities. We have "practice" sessions once a week (which are not practice, but simply the older brethren sitting around drinking coffee) that I forced myself to go to previously, but had no desire to attend anymore. Of course, this triggered even more bad mouthing from the older brethren. I didn't even care. I was so upset with the state of Freemasonry at this point that I gave up on it all together. I finished my year as Junior Warden and have not been back to lodge since.
Not a single brother asked me why I stopped coming. They could not fathom that it was their fault that I didn't continue to be involved. I was the bad person because I "got lazy and didn't want to help." No letter or phone call. Nothing. I continued to pay my dues every year. I only did this because I was proud to be a Mason in the ways that our ritual tells us we should. And, as long as they continued to receive that check every year, they didn't care whether I came or I didn't.
I had reached out to some brethren who also had stopped coming. I even talked to guys who I knew were members of the lodge but had never met in person because they stopped coming before I even joined. They all said the same thing. They wanted real Freemasonry so bad, they couldn't stomach to watch it be destroyed anymore. The lodge could have been changed if only the men who controlled it (which were not the elected officers) had the ability to look in the mirror and say, "maybe this is our fault?, "maybe we caused this?, "maybe we scared everyone away in our attempt to make this lodge what we wanted it to be, not what Freemasonry defined it as?" Instead, they acted as if whatever they decided was what Freemasonry is, and the lodge lost many, many good men because of it.
So, I write this letter to the lodge, which I am assuming now has different leadership, to please just do what is right in the eyes of Freemasonry. There is no repairing the damage done to those of us who have been away from Freemasonry for so long. We no longer have the opportunity to have the Freemasonry we wanted so badly when we joined but those coming in now do, and you have the ability to give it to them. The next time you confer a degree, listen to the words spoken by the conferring Master. Really take in what they mean and how they are supposed to change the life of the initiate. Allow them to change you as well. The future of not just this lodge, but of Freemasonry in general, rest upon your shoulders. Look to the Grand Architect of the Universe and he will guide you. If you listen to the words of the ritual, you will know exactly where to find him.
Sincerely & Fraternally,
Bro. John Smith
Friday, August 24, 2012
This book describes how a Mason should be a Mason. It does not go into symbolism or philosophy at any deep level, not did I think Andrew ever intended for it to. What is does is tells a Mason how to best uphold the traditions of the Craft in the most reverential way that anyone possible could.
Inside the book, on the "Presented to.." page was a message from WB Hammer. Each book was individually signed and, even though Andrew and I are friends, I did not expect more than what most authors write in a book: "Thanks! Author So-And-So". Well, this is what I stumbled upon when I opened the book:
"Presented to Bro. Kyle Ferguson by Andrew Hammer, 18 August 2012.
Thank you, Brother, for your support and all you do for the Craft."
Now, some of you may be saying, "Kyle, this doesn't seem like the big deal you made it out to be." Well, it is. And here's why.
Now, I am beyond honored to have a Mason like WB Andrew thank me for my contributions to the Craft, but what really struck me is what greater of a compliment can be given from one Mason to another than to tell someone else, "Freemasonry is better as a whole because of your contributions to it"? I get goosebumps thinking about what this statement really means.
It also began to make be think, what have I done that was so important to Freemasonry? In my opinion, not much. I am active in lodge and am passionate about ritual, research, symbolism, philosophy, and spirituality. But so are hundreds of thousands of other Masons in the world. So what makes what I do so special that a noted Masonic writer just thanked me for it?
The answer is......be a Freemason.
The best thing you can do for Freemasonry is to do the simple things that thousands of Masons do that I listed above. Each of these things build upon each other in the mind of the individual Mason. They slowly but surely change your perception of life but allowing you to witness it through the eyes of your true Self. One cannot experience the change simply by doing research, or by simply being a ritualist or a lodge officer. They all need to be done simultaneously. When this concoction of Masonic activities is stirred in the cauldron of the individual Mason and allows one of the most amazing transformations that can be experienced my man to happen.
So, I return the thanks to WB Hammer because, if not for his book, I would not have realized how being a Mason in a life changing way can be accomplished. Each chapter of his book talks about how to apply the most reverence to a different aspect of Freemasonry, and this is a guideline for, not only becoming the best Mason in the material world, but also in the spiritual. This is why Andrew's book became the sensation that it did. Because it gave men the outline of how to use Freemasonry properly.
So, WB Hammer, is this the intention you had when you said "thanks for what you do for the Craft", or am I reading too much into it? lol