Monday, May 24, 2010

Blogging with my iPad

I'm just getting introduced to blogging on the iPad. I'm totally gobsmacked with how easy this is.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Wakelin Terrace,St Catharines,Canada

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How to start a Lodge of Exploration

Note: To those who have been waiting for this information, thank you for your patience. I wish there were 40 hours in a day and 10 days in a week, but I have the feeling I'd still be working overtime.
One of the new programs that's been really successful for us in Niagara District B is the Lodge of Exploration.
A Lodge of Exploration provides an opportunity to delve into the symbolism of each degree. It is a counterpart to the Lodge of Instruction, insofar as where the Lodge of Instruction seeks to impart the 'how' and 'when' of the ritual, a Lodge of Exploration seeks to impart an understanding of the 'why.'
These meetings are held within our masonic district, but they could be (and were) open to accommodate brethren from nearby districts.


Announcements go out at roughly 60 days from the start of the event. Typically you'll need dispensation to hold the event from your Grand Lodge, and you'll need to coordinate with your District Deputy Grand Master (or equivalent).

Follow ups are done every couple of weeks to keep it in people's heads. Doing a bit of visiting to make announcements really helps too. Get it in the lodge summons/trestleboard, but don't rely on that as the only means of getting the information across. Many men check the dates for meetings and that's it (in my experience anyway as a publisher of a summons).

We started with the EA degree, but I don't think you have to. I really think it depends on your particular district.


Get a group of Masons together interested in dissecting the symbolism of a particular portion of the degree. We have a list of who does what parts when we're conferring a degree, and we used the same sheet to work from in assigning roles. It made sure everything was covered.

Delve into your portion of the degree. There are many excellent resources for this, the key is just start reading and pull out what you feel is significant or noteworthy.

Get a couple study sessions together and talk about what you've learned. Some of the most interesting conversations happened at this stage, as you're dealing with passionate masons about something they've become conversant in, and the learning, and exchange back and forth was something really spectacular. You may find this is the best part!

Draft your presentation

Take the rough ashlar that is your research and turn it into the perfect 10 minute presentation ashlar using some of the tips here at Presentation Helper. I found this a really helpful resource, especially to cut through to the essence of what I was trying to get across. There can be as many as 12-15 parts, and so at 10 minutes apiece they still make for a long morning. In your presentation, you're trying to accomplish two things.
  1. Help them think about the symbolism of your part of the degree in a way they haven't before.
  2. Give them enough raw material to help them form their own personal connection to the symbolism.
The other thing to remember here is that many masons have never been told to really do this. The emphasis has usually been on the rote of the ritual, not really stopping to understand the deeper meaning behind it. I know this is a generalization, but I've seen enough lodges to know it's a common problem. If it's not happening in your lodge, you're further ahead than many.

Have your day!

This is what the agenda roughly looked like on the day of our event.
  • 9am: Coffee and reception
  • 9: 45 Welcome and Introductions
  • 10am - 11:30am: presentation
  • 11:30-12noon discussion and questions
  • noon - ? lunch and fellowship
Each brother tried to keep their presentation to 10 minutes or less.

The reception was phenomenal, and we recently did a second Lodge of Exploration for the FC degree.

If you follow these steps, you will have introduced a program into your district that promotes learning about Masonic symbolism in a way that is difficult to find in our regular lodges. I think this exercise is important because it highlights that brethren are eager for such experiences, and that their preparation isn't a hardship.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Calm before the storm

Not seeing a lot of action on the Masonic blogosphere recently. I think many are getting back into the swing of things now that the summer is fast approaching its end.

I expect the swell of ideas will begin to rise very soon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Great Architect of the Universe

I did this a long time ago, just looking for someplace to put it. I built the Square and compasses myself, and overlaid a few Hubble telescope images underneath. The logo in the side was something I started for my lodge that never really went anywhere, because nobody but me was interested at the time.

Around the time I started working on this I really started to get a sense of the widespread impact of Freemasonry on faith. If we acknowledge that all faiths are worthy of consideration into Freemasonry, then we accept that our various faiths are just different paths to connect us with the divine. That was really what prompted me to again begin learning about other religions and the teachings. I feel more freemasons need to point out what brings us together in common than what separates us, and faith is as good a place to start as any.

District Lodge Map

I was playing around with Google Maps today and added this one for our district.

I also decided to use tinyurl's alias feature so that I could make something more memorable. Still need to figure out how to embed it here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A long-time friend becomes a brother.

I learned recently that a college buddy of mine recently joined Masonry at another lodge nearby. I couldn't think of a man better suited to the fraternity, although at first glance you might think otherwise. He's always been a free thinker, open to new experiences, just one of the 'good guys.' He reminds me of some of the guys who have been getting press in LA and Boston.

I've called this friend a brother for a long time, and now I'm comforted by the fact that it takes on a whole new meaning.

Can't wait to sit in lodge with him for the first time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Trend: All those young'uns in Masonry

It seems like more reporters are hopping on the trend of young men joining the Freemasons. Following up on the LA Times article, it seems like the Boston Herald can't be left out of the picture and have found their own local angle.

It's true. For any writer that might stumble on this, you can go to your local lodges (look them up in the yellow pages under 'Secret Societies'[sic] or 'Service Clubs') and ask about their young members. You will find the same story just about everywhere.

The story is simple. We found our lives were lacking something. We were introduced to Freemasonry in any number of ways, and it resonated with us. The result is we're getting involved in our communities again, we're getting connected with our families again, and we're making the world a better place again.