Monday, August 14, 2017

A Brother Asks: Passions' Radius?

 
 

A Brother Asks: We've been told that we are supposed to circumscribe our passions.  What specifically should be the radius of a Brother's Passion?
 
Coach: That's a great question.  How would you define "Passion"?
 
Brother: Something that a person feels very strongly about.
 
Coach: That's a great start.  I add to your thought that, while a desire is something that someone wants, a passion is something that a person wants so strongly that he is compelled to take action to pursue it, even if it means that he suffers in his pursuit and does so willingly!
 
Brother:  That makes sense.  How can that be translated into a specific radius for circumscription?
 
Coach: Knowing that he is willing to suffer, a Brother, by virtue of being held to account for his passions as prescribed by Freemasonic ritual, should set the radius of his passions short of causing any and all sufferings upon others that he is compelled to embrace for himself.
 
Brother:  I get it.  No other person should be made to suffer as a result of a Brother's passionate pursuits.

Coach: Exactly!  Let's make it personal. 

Brother: Sure!

Coach: When anyone other than yourself suffers because of your passion, you've gone too far. 


Brother: But what about those who are willing to suffer with you?

Coach: Then they by their engagements have revealed aligned passions with yours and are either directly or indirectly willing participants who, by their very willingness,  engage in suffering also, and do so by choice!

Brother: But wouldn't you agree that if such suffering results in damage then you've went too far?


Coach: Wouldn't that truly depend upon what you want and what you are willing to sacrifice to obtain it?

Brother: How so?

Coach: I agree that collateral suffering even to the point of damage is an unwarranted imposition upon those who have not agreed to suffer along with you in your pursuits. 

However, if you willingly suffer to the point of damage to your person, yea even your life, then you have a desire in your heart that is to you worth more than your person.


This does occur when passions run high and is usually viewed as heroic by those who benefit from such passionate actions without suffering themselves. 

Brother: Have you an example to offer?

Coach: Do you think Christ went too far?


Brother: Point taken.



Sunday, June 11, 2017

Help, Aid & Assist Distant Membership Seekers



(There are many membership seekers who contact existing members on line for assistance in becoming a member.  Here is an article/response that you can link to when you get contacted through social media networks regarding these membership queries.)
 
A Membership Seeker Asks:  I want to be part of Freemasons now. Can you help me?
 
My Response:  Are you seeking to become a member of the Freemasonic Order?
 
He Continues: Yes!
 
My Response:  Okay.  Where do you live?

He Continues: I live in [location deleted by me].
 
My Response:  Thank you. You are outside of my area.  You have several options.  Here are only a few, with caveats:
  1. When Freemasonic Orders are outlawed in your area:
    • Immediately stop any further activities or you will put yourself in harms way. I cannot stress this any more emphatically.
  2. When Freemasonic Orders are legal in your area, you should:
    • Identify a local lodge member, make contact with him and ask for a petition. If he turns you down, find out if it is the local practice/tradition of turning membership seekers down several times before acceptance and act accordingly.
    • Identify a local lodge, make contact with the lodge secretary and ask for a petition. Same "if" as above applies.
    • Identify a Grand Lodge, contact the Grand Lodge secretary and ask for a petition. Same "if" as above applies.
He Continues:  But you are a member of Freemasons.  Would you help me join?
 
My Response:  I have done just that.
 
He Continues: I know that you want to help me ... But honestly, I do not know of any places in my area... Please let me talk to some members you know in my area, give them my phone number (############), or give me a phone number of a member and I will take it from there.
 
My Response:  It's not that I will not help you any further.  What you are asking me to do is not something I can or should engage in, and for many specific reasons.  You must do these things for yourself.
 
He Continues:  But you are a member of Freemasons. Why will you not help me further?  
 
My Response: That is a extremely important question.  Thanks for asking.  Here's why:
  1. You are asking an existing member...
    • from a different area than yours,
      • who has no influence whatsoever over the lodges or lodge members in your area,
      • whom you do not know,
      • who does not know you,
    • to do something further that he should not do. 
  2. You MUST personally approach and petition a lodge in your area to be considered.
  3. You MUST personally use the name of members that are already inside your area to do any of this; not members outside your area, especially those that do not know you and that you don't know. 
  4. I am not from your area and therefore cannot tell you what lodge to approach as it is NOT in my area and within my knowledge.
  5. You asked for advice/help/support.  What is offered to you is exactly what you can and should expect to receive from an unknown stranger and outsider to your area.
  6. Your next step it to locate a lodge near you, ask for its admission requirements and then you should act accordingly.
One more caveat you should consider when seeking membership:  There are many bogus groups and individuals who claim to be members of Freemasonic Orders.  Be CAUTIOUS of their Scams!
 
He Continues: Well, okay. Thank you very much.
 
My Response: You're most welcome...  Good Luck!

BTW - A good Brother made an awesome video that expands upon this theme.  You can find it here:  https://youtu.be/pmEO_eA-idg

I high recommend you listen carefully to what this Brother has to say and what he has to offer you in your current situation.

Respectfully,

 
Coach John S Nagy

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Future Brother Asks... Scams



A Membership Seeker Asks: How do I know I might be scammed by those who seek me to join?

My Response: You are likely to become a victim of a membership scam...
  1. If any member approaches you first to ask you to join. 
    • The exception is that some jurisdictions allow members to let a non-member know that they would make a good member, but they allow this to occur only once. 
  2. If any member tells you that they can make you a member. 
    • They cannot.  They can only provide you a petition.  It is up to the Lodge to make you a member and that is through a specific process.
  3. If any member approaches you and tells you that you'll make money or have greater influence by being a member. 
    • Legitimate Freemason costs you money to be a member; it will not make you any money or give you influence outside the organization.
  4. If any member asks you for money to help him in any way, and especially related to making you a member, other than suitable initiation fees.  (Check with the Grand Lodge office in your area to verify!)
    • Other than initiation fees, and dues to be paid once you are a member, no member should be asking you for any money.
  5. If any member abuses you verbally or physically as part of your interview process or your initiation.
    • Freemasonry is not about abuse in any way shape or form.
  6. If any member approaching you doesn't have legitimate connections to Grand Lodges that are Recognized by UGLE, GLS or GLI.
    • Unrecognized Lodges are not legitimate.  Stay away from them and their members.
There are other things to look for, but these are a few that should raise red flags. 

Good Luck!

F&S,

Bro. John S Nagy




Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Summons Silenced


 
A member of a certain Lodge, who previously attended meetings regularly, had stopped going. After a few months, the Worshipful Master decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening, and the Worshipful Master found his brother at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.
Guessing the reason for the Worshipful Master’s visit, the brother welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited. The Worshipful Master made himself comfortable, but said nothing.
In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After several minutes, the Worshipful Master took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth, all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent.
His host watched all of this in quiet contemplation. As the one, lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow, and its fire was all but gone. The brother soon reached out and put the ember back into the flue’s draft.  He then scooped up the other embers with the ash shovel and put them in an ash bucket, closed its heavy lid down upon it, and sealed them off from the natural draft.  He sat back and enjoyed the warm glow of the remaining ember, now flared up in brilliant glow due to the swift flow of the flue draft.
The Worshipful Master raised his eyebrows but remained silent.  After a while he glanced at his watch and chose this time to leave. He slowly stood up, removed the lid to expose the cold dead embers that were sealed away, and placed them back in the flue draft with the glowing ember. As they were exposed to its warm heat, they sprung to live and began to glow once more and with all the light and warmth of the one burning ember that had remained in the flue’s draft.
As the Worshipful Master reached the door to leave, he turned to the brother and said with a tear running down his cheek, “Thank you so much for your fiery response, my brother. I’ll make sure we make the necessary changes before I visit with you again.”
-- Brother John S. Nagy
(with sincere appreciation to both the original and the unknown authors*)
--------------------------------------


* The Silent Summons (Based upon "The Lonely Ember**")

   A member of a certain Lodge, who previously attended meetings regularly, had stopped going. After a few months, the Worshipful Master decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening, and the Worshipful Master found his brother at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.
   Guessing the reason for the Worshipful Master’s visit, the brother welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited. The Worshipful Master made himself comfortable, but said nothing.
  In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After several minutes, the Worshipful Master took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth, all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent.
   His host watched all of this in quiet contemplation. As the one, lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow, and its fire was no more. Soon, it was cold and dead.
   Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. The Worshipful Master glanced at his watch and chose this time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember, and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately, it began to glow once more, with all the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.
   As the Worshipful Master reached the door to leave, his host said, with a tear running down his cheek, “Thank you so much for your fiery summons, my brother. I’ll be back in our Lodge next meeting.”

-- Author Unknown

--------------------------------------

The Lonely Ember by Dr. John MacArthur

  A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going.
  After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.
  Guessing the reason for his pastor's visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a big chair near the fireplace and waited. The pastor made himself comfortable but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the play of the flames around the burning logs.
  After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet fascination.
  As the one lone ember's flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and "dead as a doornail."
  Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.
  Just before the pastor was ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.
  As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said, "Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday."
 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Brother Asks: Keeping Secrets

 
 
A Brother Asks: "On the square", is something repeated throughout our fraternity, but what does that really mean?
 
My Response: The common understanding of this term is that "what is shared will be keep within the chest receiving it as it would be kept within the chest of the one imparting it".  I have also heard the term "on the level" used to convey the same interest/sentiment.
 
He Continues: Are we truly obligated to keep the secrets of another Brother when entrusted to us?
 
My Response: Yes. 
 
However, FULL Upfront Disclosure is required for this to apply. 
 
He Continues: What does that mean?
 
My Response: You had better communicate upfront that ...
 
1) ...the information which is going to be conveyed is indeed considered confidential to all involved. 
  • You cannot legally invoke an obligation requirement after the fact. Full upfront disclosure is a must.
2) ...the information to be conveyed shall harm someone if conveyed any further and in any manner or form. 
  • You cannot morally share a secret without letting the other party know what the ramifications of knowing it entails.
3) ...it is information that shall harm someone if NOT shared.
  • You cannot ethically conceal information that can harm if not revealed.  This includes relationships that would be harmed by having possession of the information whereby others who should know too would consider you disloyal or legally negligent by not disclosing it to them.
...otherwise what you share is done so wrongfully.
 
He Continues: How realistic is that promise in today's Masonic world?
 
My Response: Even more so now then ever before, Masonic or not!

F&S,

Bro. John S. Nagy
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Brother Asks: Associating Faith to Ritual




A Brother Asks: Why do so many Freemasons inherently associate the Craft with any one specific religion?

My Response: Their Ignorance, Arrogance, and Wishful thinking are the causes.

He Continues: Would you please expand upon this?

My Response: Sure!  Freemasonic Ritual is symbolic and allegorical; not literal and factual. The organization’s Rituals are "morality plays". They're supposed to be understood and experienced as such and they are to be applied within the context of your own faith and philosophy, even when the veil that is used to convey any one specific story or obligation is that of another’s faith or philosophy. 

In other words, the veil that is put forth through these plays to convey intended values, meanings and concepts is not the veil you should see or internalize; that would be counterproductive and contrary to Freemasonic intents and ends.  You must learn to see through veils, no matter how you might be distracted by them, to gain what is truly being offered beneath each.

This same understanding applies to the demands placed upon some candidates within specific appendant bodies that appear to be literal and specific to one faith or another.  These plays, and the manner to which they convey things, are symbolic and allegorical and should apply symbolically and metaphorically to the candidate’s life; not literally.

When you listen to what Freemasonic instruction intends, you will take what is shared “figuratively” and apply each insight gleaned and each experience conveyed toward your own life, as it fits within your own faith and philosophy; not the faith or philosophy used to convey.

However, when you take any ritual as concrete, historical and factual, you miss the intent of what was shared.  You believe what was shared in a literal way.  You miss the entire reason for the experiences and the lessons are learned superficially.

In reality, Ritual will be always be understood to be whatever the individual experiencing it wants it to be and within the limitations of that person’s capacity to understand it.  And because of this limiting factor, men who have the capacity to see past the veils of dogma, both religious and philosophic, will be attacked and eventually driven off by those individuals who insist upon experiencing and interpreting these plays literally.

This is one of the reasons that both the Apprentice and Fellow Work are so crucial to Masonic development.  It prepares both the heart and mind to comprehend things, even when veiled several times over.  The Work is also what prepares a spirit to soar.

F&S,

Brother John S Nagy



Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Brother Asks: About the Highest Degree Post




A Brother Comments: Coach, a great blog about the highest degree in Masonry.
 
My Response: Thanks!  It sure was a lot of fun researching and putting it together.
 
He Continues: There's a bit of confusion in the Temple though.
 
My Response:  There usually is when Babel's Tower is still being built.
 
He continues: Are you saying that the Master Mason is a rank and not the last & sublime degree of our Craft system?
 
My Response: Yes.  That is exactly what I implied. 
 
He Continues: Please explain this.
 
My Response: If Fellows of the Craft did the Work that they were supposed to do, as spelled out within the dominant Preston-Webb Ritual practiced within the USA , then the Master's degree becomes a celebration and acknowledgement of what each Fellow of the Craft has Achieved and each "proficient" member comes into the Master's degree as "The Master's Word"; not someone still seeking it.
 
As it is now, it is a degree bestowing unearned rank where a Substitute is provided because the candidate is not "The Master's Word" and he hasn't a clue as to what the Ritual is intended to point out. 

He Continues: What's that?

My Response: He is a Ruffian.
 
He Continues: I understand your historical lesson that prior to the formation of the Grand Lodge of England, there's a strong likelihood that there was just a two degree system: The Entered Apprentice & Fellow Craft degrees.
 
My Response: Thanks!  But if you look carefully as to what was shared in the original post, Freemasonry truly was a one degree system when it entered the Grand Lodge Era.  The newly created Fellow Craft Subprime degree was originally part of the Entered Apprentice Prime Degree.  The "Master's Part" was provided to bestow the governing rank of "Fellow of the Craft" upon a member so he could run the lodge; there was nothing required other then to go through the ritual. 

It was when the first degree was split in two that the second part then bestowed the governing rank of "Fellow of the Craft" upon those going through it.  This was an "innovation" to the existing work.
 
He Continues: The Master's degree does appear as an innovation.
 
My Response: I'm glad that you see this too.
 
He Continues: It's sort of gloss or something added to the picture for whatever purposes these men had but never fully explained and understood by future generations.
 
My Response: Yes!  Please refer back to my previous comments about "He is a Ruffian."  It doesn't have to be explained to those who have actually done the Work.
 
He Continues: Our system seems to have been complete with only the 2 degrees.
Agreed!
 
He Continues: In fact, the Fellow Craft degree meshes well the Mark Master degree's account without the necessity of the Master's degree.
 
My Response: The breadcrumb trail is definitely thick with clues!  Unfortunately, very few see it and even fewer follow it.
 
He Continues: However the Master's degree doesn't naturally blend in except maybe with the introduction of the final working tool, the Trowel.  It's explained that only Master Masons are given a trowel.
 
My Response: This is where I want to scream, "Wake Up!", but I won't and I'll let you just imagine that I did.
 
Apprentices and Fellows of the Craft used/use the Trowel.; they HAD/HAVE TO!  The Master's Degree is "Symbolic".  In practice, ALL levels used ALL the Working Tools.  How else were/are each of our Craftsmen going to Learn the Craft????  Learning requires Explaining, Showing, and Doing!
 
He Continues: I'm understanding where you're coming from historically.
 
My Response: Good!
 
He Continues: But I'm not sure if I can agree with you that after all this time, we should not still consider the Master's degree as the final & highest?
 
My Response: You could agree, but it would require you to 1) step back, 2) remember that these degrees are all "symbolic" and 3) use common sense. 
 
F&S,
 
Brother John S. Nagy
 
 
 
 

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Brother Asks: Masonic Maps

 
 
A Brother Asks: Freemasonic Ritual is overwhelming!  I have no idea where to begin my studies.  How can we better come to understand what it communicates? 

My Response: It can best be understood by breaking each of them down into smaller chunks to identify what is actually communicated by each of their symbols, phrases and allusions.  It is only after one does this that one can begin to see the big picture and what Ritual actually offers to all those who experience and use them to better one's self.  Until one takes the time to do this, Ritual remains a blur and one's actions continue unfocused upon what truly needs to be done with each.

He Continues: Can you provide an outline or map?
 
My Response:  I sure can and have already done so many times. 

Let's review them here.
 
The Apprentice Map

The Entered Apprentice Degree Ritual provides a roadmap for Inward Travels. It provides a guide to the inner Terrain that, when Traveled, enables a man to know his true self and true nature -- The Creature that is himself.

The Work it directs him toward is Foundational to his Learning. In this respect, it is a roadmap for Preparation for Learning.

It is focused upon the physical man, and what he must know about the Creature -- The Self!

Sadly, few men follow the map that they are offered.
 
The Fellow Map

The Fellow Craft Degree Ritual provides a roadmap for Outward Travels. It provided... a guide to the outer Terrain that, when Traveled, enables a man to know the Universe -- the Whole of Creation.

The Work it directs him toward is Structural and sets the stage of his Actual True Learning. In this respect, it is a roadmap for Learning How to Learn

It is focused upon the mental man and what he must know about Creation -- The Universe!

Sadly, even fewer men follow the map that they are offered.
 
The Master Map

The Master Mason Degree Ritual provides a roadmap for Eternal Travels. It provided a guide to the spiritual Terrain that, when Traveled, enables a man to know the Word -- the Creator.

The Work it directs him toward is his Actual Learning and Teaching. In this respect, it is a roadmap to Further Cultivation of the Heart and Mind, Inner and Outer Travel and Employment of Cunning Craftsmanship also known as "Beauty!" 

It is focused upon the spiritual man and what he must know about the Creator -- The Word! 
 
Sadly, it is rare men who follows the map that they are offered.

Each map offers opportunity to Perfect one's self.  It is only opportunity though.  One must do the Work to obtain Betterment.

F&S,
 
Brother John S Nagy

PS - For extensive Masonic Map Reading Course Materials, please investigate "The Building Better Builders Series" of Uncommon Books and Videos.  You will not be disappointed.


 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Brother Asks: What is the Highest Degree?

 
 
A Brother Asks: What is the highest degree?
 
My Response: It might surprise you to know that it is the Fellow Craft.
 
Let me explain:

Since...
  1. the "Master's Part", was originally the Premier Grand Lodge's Fellow Craft Degree Prime[1], and
  2. the "Master's Part" was an innovation to the original one degree system brought about by the GL era[2], and
  3. the MM degree "legend" was an innovation to this innovative "Master's Part" [3], and
  4. the Craft are known, taken and Accepted as "Brothers and Fellows", and
  5. the Apprentice Degree Prime was originally the now split into two, EA Subprime and FC subprime degrees[4], with a lot less fluff, and
  6. the Apprentice Degree Prime was the highest degree necessary to be a full fledged member with all the rights, lights and benefits of "organizational membership", prior to Gland Lodge innovations to membership requirements, and
  7. the splitting of Apprentice Degree Prime pushed Apprentice Degree Prime completion to the now Fellow Craft Degree Subprime level, and
  8. the Fellow Craft level (at the time of "Stonecraft") was obtained ONLY after seven years of Apprenticeship, and
  9. the currently practiced Master's Degree, if done properly, is ONLY an acknowledgment and celebration of the skill development that one must cultivate to be proficient as a "Fellow of the Craft", and
  10. the completion of Fellow Craft skill development makes you a Master of the Craft; not some title bestowed upon you by others,
the FC is the highest degree.  The rest is title fluff. ​​
 
Of course, in the USA the title of "Master Mason" bestowed during the Master's Degree is now required to enjoy all the rights, lights and benefits of the Blue Lodge experience. 
 
Sadly, little to no Mastery, as alluded to by Craft Ritual, is required.
 
F&S,
 
Brother John S Nagy

PS - If you were paying attention, you might now ask:  Are you talking about the Fellow Craft, as in "the second half of the Apprentice Degree Prime"?
 
[1] A degree where a "Fellow Craft" was made.
[2] The Premier Grand Lodge (PGL) at the time required as Fellow of the Craft to run the lodge and only they, the Premier Grand Lodge, could make a FC.  (Not really!  Becoming a Fellow of the Craft occurred by going through seven years of Apprenticeship under the oversight of a Fellow of the Craft!  not some Grand Lodge putting an apprentice through a "degree" so that they could run a lodge!)
[3] The first documented evidence is that it appeared around 1725 CE.
[4] The PGL split Apprentice Degree Prime into two degrees, thereby creating the now EA Subprime and FC Subprime degrees, so that the lodges could make FCs to run lodges.

 
 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

ASTRONOMY: Beware the Full Moon!



Filed Under: Astronomical Education - The Rest of the Story... 

 


Day of Ides
 
Ides was originally the time of the full moon. Because a full moon comes halfway thru each lunation, its day was called Idus in Latin from an Etruscan word meaning "divide."

After Ides, the next new moon was expected to appear in from 15 to 17 days. Variations in the length of time before another new moon can be sighted is due to constantly changing positions of moon and Earth relative to the sun.[1]
 
So...
IF months were originally determined by lunar cycles, "moons",[2]
  • AND in European traditions, the month starts when the young crescent moon becomes first visible at evening after conjunction with the Sun one or two days before that evening (AKA just after the "NEW" moon")
  • AND the middle of the month (governed by the Moon) is indicated as the Full Moon,
THEN it is safe to say that originally the "Ides" of any one particular month did not occur during the 15th or 13th of any calendar month but during each Full Moon itself!
 
THEREFORE, telling anyone to beware of the "ides of any month"[3] is to warn them about "things that may occur during a full moon!"
 
F&S,
 
Bro. John S. Nagy 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
[2] month (n.) Old English monað, from Proto-Germanic *menoth- (source also of Old Saxon manoth, Old Frisian monath, Middle Dutch manet, Dutch maand, Old High German manod, German Monat, Old Norse manaðr, Gothic menoþs "month"), related to *menon- "moon" (see moon (n.); the month was calculated from lunar phases). Its cognates mean only "month" in the Romance languages, but in Germanic generally continue to do double duty. Phrase a month of Sundays "a very long time" is from 1832 (roughly 7 and a half months, but never used literally).  (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=month)

[3] Soothsayer; "The Tragedy of Julius Caesar" - Act I, Scene 2