Friday, December 24, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Masonic Education

Building Builders - 12/24/2010

Hello Fellow Travelers!
Freemason Education provides Light that supports Freemasonry – as in, “the Organization of Builders.” Masonic Education provides Light that Builds Builders. Masons should know the difference and act accordingly.
– Dr. John S. Nagy
There’s a recurring theme in Masonic Education that is wholly self-defeating in respect to educating Masons on Masonry. What masquerades as Masonic Education is not truly Education supporting Masonry. If we were to be honest about what it actually is, we would have to be choosier with our word use. If I were to hazard an educated guess as to what words I would use, I would change the word “Masonic” to “Freemasonry.” I believe that this would describe more accurately what is currently put forth to Brothers as Education.

To get a better grip on what kind of Education would better serve our Brothers, it would serve us well to consider what is currently offered. A quick survey of what pretends to be Masonic Education is largely focused upon Ritual, Organization and History.

1. Education is offered that focuses upon Ritual. It shows Masons how it is done right, when it is done wrong, what may not be done at all and sometimes how it is done elsewhere.

2. Education is offered that focuses upon Organization. It reflects structural aspects of Masonry. This means how the Lodge and Grand Lodge function, which does what-when-where-how (and by whom) and what makes participation possible or not possible. This last item usually includes both Masonic Tradition and Law.

3. Education is offered that focuses upon History. It talks about the when and where of Masonic involvement, how some Ritual and Organizational structures came about and why and who may or may not have been involved and when.
Upon review, it is clear that what is offered as Masonic Education is intentionally designed to solely support the continuation of the Organization of Freemasonry. It supports the Organization of Builders but does not further the Education of Builders.

What education might further the Education of Builders? Responses to this question are best served by examining what the current machine designed to support the longevity of the Organization tells us – more specifically, examining Ritual’s message.

Without any doubt whatsoever, Ritual continuously points toward the Education that Builders need to become Masterful. From the start, it points toward Work that we Builders need to both be aware of and that we must do to assure that we become those “better men.” This “pointing” continues throughout.

Reviewing each step along the way, we encounter clues that are indirect and direct. The indirect clues are too numerous to express in a short and purposeful writing like this. (For those interested in these, I’ve expressed many of them throughout my “Building Series.” Exploring each book in the series reveals this consistent theme along with the overt clues that we will here review in brief. )

Let me emphasize that the overt clues abound. The problem it that they hit us so gently that we may be tempted to gloss over them without a second thought. Let’s examination them more closely so that there are no doubts in your mind should you be tempted to dismiss them further.

The Entered Apprentice Ritual expresses exactly the Work we are to do prior to Passing to Fellow Craft. It points out that we are to Strengthen ourselves fully. It further expresses that this is a two-fold process. The first step is to unburden ourselves through divestiture of both Vices and Superfluities. The second step is to purposefully and with great diligence Build that Strength through the conscious practice of Virtue. Both are required to Build Strength. Both support each other. Both are necessary for what is to follow if the Fellow Craft Work is to be effective.

Examining the “Entered Apprentice” Work, it is easy to see that the Educational focus for such men entails preparing to learn. This means active participation in unburdening and Strengthening activities. To accomplish this, a Mason doing this Work must understand what Vices and Superfluities are, what they do, and how to constructively deal with divesting from them from his life. I venture to say that such Education is not offered in or through a typical Masonic Lodge's Educational or support activities. Perhaps this is because most men might assume that they already know all that they need to know about Vices and Superfluities. Perhaps they assume that, being men, knowing is the same as having put these issues in their lives to rest. I think it should not go unsaid that such assumptions erode the very foundation of what Masonry is supposed to be developing within our ranks. Furthermore, I would also venture to say that far too few “Raised” Masons have actually taken the time to educate themselves in these directions much less taken the time to apply what they have learned.

Examining the “Fellow Craft” Work, it is also easy to see that the Educational focus for such men entails learning how to learn. This means active participation in transforming the brain into a receptive vessel for learning. To accomplish this, a Mason doing this Work must understand what learning is, what they must do to learn, and how to constructively learn. Ritual points toward specific learning in its Staircase Lecture. I venture to say that any comprehensive Education dealing with the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences is not offered in or through a typical Masonic Lodge's Educational or support activities. As I stated before, perhaps this is because most men might assume that they already know all that they need to know about learning how to learn. Perhaps they assume that, being men, knowing that one needs to learn is satisfactory to continue along the path unhindered by any fact that they have not learned how to learn. I think it should not go unsaid here either that such assumptions also erode the same foundation of what Masonry is supposed to be developing within our ranks. Furthermore, I would also venture to say that far too few “Raised” Masons have actually taken the time to educate themselves in these directions much less taken the time to apply what they have learned.

Examining the “Master's” Work, it is also easy to see that the Educational focus for such men entails both learning which includes learning how to teach others how to both prepare to learn and learn how to learn. This means active participation in both applying what was learned and transforming behavior toward what helps nurture men. To accomplish the former, one must establish and execute a plan to learn what must be learned. This may include any facet of Philosophy or Theology, and there are countless facets to consider. To accomplish the latter, a Mason doing this Work must understand what nurturing is, what they must do to nurture, and how to constructively nurture. There is no doubt that Ritual points toward what Masters should learn. It points toward specific learning in its Monitorial Emblems. Masters have done the Work of the previous degrees. They will understand what the Monitorial Emblems point toward and they will engage themselves in those directions.

Ritual Legend also points toward what occurs to Masons who refuse to complete the Work of the previous Degrees. I venture to say that any comprehensive Education dealing with the Monitorial Emblems and what Work they point toward is not offered in or through typical Masonic Lodge's Educational or support activities. As indicated before, perhaps this is because most men might assume that they already know all that they need to know about what to learn. Perhaps they assume that, being men, knowing that one must learn is satisfactory to continue along the path unhindered by any fact that they are not learning what to learn much less learning any of it. I think it should also not go unsaid here either that such assumptions erode the foundation of what Masonry is supposed to be developing within our ranks. Furthermore, I would also venture to say that far too few “Raised” Masons have actually taken the time to educate themselves in these directions much less taken the time to apply what they have learned.

If you do not glean clearly what Masons should be educating themselves and their Brothers in, you can gain further insight into this by reviewing my Blog, “Building Builders” or through reading of some of the Masonic Education “Building Series” of books that I’ve previously put forth.

Fraternally and Sincerely,

Bro. Coach N

Friday, October 1, 2010

Testing Our Entered Apprentices and More

Building Boaz - 10/1/2010

Hello Fellow Travelers!

Here's something to Perpend in your in-between hours.  Most current methods used in the USA to test for Proficiency of Entered Apprentice Work rely upon Candidates showing that they have memorized something and can share what they have memorized to the satisfaction of those testing them. From a systems standpoint, such standardization might seem fair and predictable, but it doesn’t serve the purpose of making good men better.

Let me share with you a perspective that may not be common among Masons, but a perspective that should be – according to what Masonic Ritual espouses.

Masonry has far too many improperly Prepared Masons advancing from Entered Apprentice to Fellow Craft. How can I say this with any validity? Even better: How can anyone tell?

The proof is all around us. Improperly Prepared Fellow Craft Masons and above continuously show outward signs of Vices and Superfluities and equally show that Virtues are lacking.

What are the telltale signs? Here are just a few.

1) When a Mason has "Vice and Superfluity" issues:
  1. He is Burdened unnecessarily.
  2. These Burdens negatively affect his Resources (as in his overall “Strength”; and we are not talking about his “physical” strength).
  3. These Burdens prevent him from maximizing the Return on his Investments, no matter what the direction that investment may take.
  4. Furthermore, you will see signs that his Burdens cause harm to both himself and others.
2) When a Mason has "Virtue" issues:
  1. He lacks temperance and hence doesn't limit himself when he rightfully should. Self-control is a must but he won’t show such control because he has yet to develop it fully.
  2. He lacks prudence and hence doesn't make prudent choices. Far-sighted sensible care will not be one of his outward expressions as he makes life and business choices.
  3. He lacks fortitude and hence doesn't endure things that men who have fortitude do without question. Lacks in resilient and purposeful courage prevent the necessary staying power that brings about long term results.
  4. He lacks justice and hence lacks a foundation necessary for dealing fairly with others. His dealing with others shows that games are unfavorable tilted in his favor, no matter how he may involve himself.
  5. He lacks faith and hence believes in probable things that can only be proved and refuses to invest in the possibilities things that will benefit most and are worthy of believing in. His beliefs shall be based solely upon that which is concrete and will lack any choice that cannot be backed up by indisputable fact.
  6. He lacks hope and hence wanders as a boat without an anchor. He shall not invest in things that are worthwhile unless they are a sure thing.
  7. He lacks love and hence invests not in things that are lovable. His manner will not show acceptance of others for who they are but will be based solely upon what they have to offer him.
What gets in the way of both the instruction and the proofing of Entered Apprentice Proficiency? Part of the problem is that most Fellow Craft Masons and above do not know how to clearly and succinctly state what a vice or superfluity is, how they are similar and how they differ. If Fellow Craft Masons and above don’t know this, how are they going to communicate this to Candidates who need to Work on them much less be able to spot them in candidates when they are clearly present? These same Masons have equal inability in clearly and succinctly stating what Virtues are, how they Strengthen men and how to go about integrating these Virtues within men’s daily habits.

If they did know and do this, they would realize “how” Masonry makes good men better! For one, Properly Prepared Entered Apprentice Masons are less inclined to judge inappropriately. If they did, they are more inclined to correct that mistake appropriately. They are also more likely to exhibit the qualities of a true Brother rather then someone who merely holds the title but lacks the Character such title should denote.
 
How do Masons move toward cultivating good men into better men? The answers lay not in what passes as acceptable catechism.

The answers lay in using catechism that is not standardized by a Jurisdiction.

This makes sense. Standardized Catechism is the result of a machine process that “punch presses out” candidates like Masonic widgets on a production line. What you get from this process are Masons who tend to the very Masonic Machines that created them as a result and not the Masonic Spirits it was intended to nurture.

What exactly is Catechism? Catechism is merely “opportunity” training for both the mentor and student. It affords them the opportunity to "venture off the assembly line" and to interact and discern if the student has truly applied the lessons of the Ritual. The Catechism is there so that such exploration occurs.

Far too many Brothers unfortunately focus on the task at hand – learning and teaching the "officially accepted" catechism – and not the true task at hand and loose the opportunity to do the true Work. What is the true Work? It’s using that Catechism time to explore the lessons of the First Degree and to determine what needs to be done to assure that the entrusted student has both learned these lessons and done this so well that he lives them.

The Official Catechism encouraged and even forces time to be invested between Brothers. Good instructors realize this and use this time prudently to discern the student's character development, not just his memorization of the catechism at hand.

Mentors who fail to use the time they spend with their students to assure such important activities occur, waste their time, fail their student and fail our Craft.

Perhaps a different system of training and evaluating our Masonic Mentors might help bring about some valuable change for our Fraternity as a whole. This might lead to Building Boaz for everyone!

Fraternally and Sincerely,

Bro. Coach N

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Masonic Influence on Brain Transformation

Building Athens - 09/30/2010

Hello Fellow Travelers!

Below is an article that appears in the October 2010 edition of "Further Light," a Masonic Education Magazine published by the Florida Lodge of Research, of which I am a Lifetime Member and contributing author. 

Enjoy!

Fraternally and Sincerely,

Bro. Coach N

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


Masonic Influence on Brain Transformation


Not many Masons know that the training of Entered Apprentices and Fellow Crafts is designed to transform their brains. Yeah, I know this might sound “pretty scary” but it’s true. What’s even scarier though is that I was a Masons who didn’t know this up until this year. What changed my understanding of this was asking a simple question. As a result on my asking this question, seeking an answer and knocking on whatever door I could find, a flood of information was opened up to me that bordered upon overwhelm.

Admittedly, it was an innocent enough question; one of many that seem to pop into my head from time to time when I’m involved in Masonic adventures. The focus of my adventure this time was the Fellow Craft degree. More specifically, the last Seven Steps of the Winding Staircase talked about in the Fellow Craft Lecture.

My question was simple: What does studying these seven topics do to the brains of people studying them? I had no idea where this question would lead me, but there was one thing for sure, I was ready, willing and able to go to any length to know the answer.

The Quest
Soon after I asked it, the question led me toward some information regarding brain function(1). It seems that some time over the last century, brain neuroscientists had mapped the function of the brain, specifically, the cerebral cortex. They discovered some very interesting aspects that fit very nicely into affirming what Masons have focused upon for some time. It appears that the functions associated with the lobes of the cerebral cortex are affected by studying the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences. Let me explain.

Our brains(2) are created with natural affinities. Being natural, these affinities are already wired into our being. This means that our brains naturally will do what they have affinities toward. The problem though with those natural affinities is that what may come natural does not always get nurtured to maximize its potentials.

This is where specific study comes into play. By studying targeted subjects such as those comprising the Trivium and Quadrivium, precise areas of the brain are exposed to patterns that enhance the brain’s natural abilities in that region. Simply put, exposure to Light Orders the Chaos of that area.

Trivial Brain Function
Let me share an example of this. The back of the brain known as the Occipital Lobe is wired for sight. In that wiring are tendencies to recognize objects such as “horizontals, verticals and diagonals.” When this region is exposed to specific patterns, it “learns” to recognize these patterns and even associates them with what they mean.

When those who are instructed properly are exposed to visual numbers and letters, this region of their brain eventually imprints upon the shapes of those visual patterns and associates these patterns with numbers and letters. Of course, this recognition also works in conjunction with the sound of such letters and numbers, along with the words that they spell out and language memory.

The latter part of the brain is associated with the left Temporal lobe and this associated region stretches from the area from just in front of the ear, all the way back past the interface of that lobe and through to the left area of the Occipital lobe and the lower portion of the left side of the Parietal lobe. This whole region is associated with Grammar. When exposed to Grammatical training, the natural affinity of this brain region Orders itself to recognize Lexicon and the Rules that govern that Lexicon – Grammar!

Additionally, if we examine how exposure to Logic affects brain Ordering, we would find that the upper part of the Frontal lobe is affected. Logic training exposes this region to the Logical patterns which Order it toward recognizing when proper Logic occurs and when what is presented is obviously faulty or flawed.

Finally, training that exposes the brain to Rhetoric shows that this specific training accesses, integrates and further Orders these just mentioned regions, most all of which are left Brain activities. Furthermore, this activity includes the lower parts of the Frontal lobes along with the front parts of the Temporal lobes; some of which are right brain activities.

You might now ask yourself what these just mentioned regions have to do with Rhetoric and you’d be right in doing so. It is not enough to say that it accesses, integrates and further Orders these regions. One should know the basis of such claims. Let’s connect the dots.

Integrating the Entered Apprentice Work
The lower parts of the Frontal lobes are associated with we call “morality.” Their function controls whether we say and do or not say or do. This is but one of two areas that Rhetoric study access and helps integrate. The other areas are the two front parts of the Temporal lobes. These are the emotional memory areas of the brain. These, together with the lower portion of the Frontal lobes, control our morality.

Of course, study of the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences only reinforces the functions of these just mentioned moral influence areas. These areas should have already been Ordered through the Work of the Entered Apprentice prior to being Passed.

You may quickly ask: What Entered Apprentice Work Orders the morality areas? And the answer may surprise you: All of it! Let’s review it quickly.

The recognition and divesting of Vices and Superfluities frees the Entered Apprentice from unnecessary and harmful Burdens. In conjunction with this divestiture, Strengthening takes place in the form of establishment of Virtue within the daily activities and choices of the Entered Apprentice. This takes discipline and such activities are continually recognized and affirmed by Fellow Crafts and above before Entered Apprentices are Passed. Should such Work not be completed, the Ordering of these area will not be completed either and the Brain of the Mason shall be Burdened and weaker than it should be while progressing through higher degrees. Such a condition is best exemplified by the Hebrew word “sibolet”, which means “burden.(3)”

Quadrivium Work
The follow up Fellow Craft studies that Order mostly the right side of their brains are Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy. Arithmetic Orders the Right side of the Occipital lobe in conjunction with the back part of the Parietal lobes. It structures our understanding and recognition of numeric lexicon and the proper use of operators in dealing with them. Geometry Orders the back part of the Parietal lobe and Right Temporal lobes. It structures our understanding and recognition of numbers as they relate to space. Music Orders the right Temporal lobe. It structures our understanding and recognition of numbers as they relate to time.

Something that intrigued me was how the study of Astronomy acts like a capstone to all this study. The answer that was revealed was amazing. Astronomy integrates the left and right brain functions dealing with time and space and the manner to which we use language to convey our understanding of time and space discoveries. In doing this, Astronomy further Orders, accesses and integrates all lobes mentioned throughout this writing.

Integration
Aside from all the interesting and wonderful things that occur to the brain to transform it so that its natural affinities are honed to a sharp edge, there is an underlying reason such abilities are desired by Masons. If you examine history, you will find that the study of the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences was required as preparation for higher learning targeted at Scholasticism – reconciling Theology and Philosophy. A person would not dare enter into such serious study without having a firm foundation in these Liberal Arts and Sciences. Such lacking would inevitably lead to problematic evaluation, translation, interpretation and conclusions. That understanding continues today. The primary reason for such specific Liberal Arts and Sciences study remains the same – to prepare for further, more serious study of Theology and Philosophy(4). Masons should keep this in mind should they attempt to dismiss the relevance of such studies.

Let me provide an example of how this works.

Example
The Jewish observance of Passover occurs upon the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. Sacred Lore is interpreted by some to reveal that the name “Passover” comes from the belief that the Lord “passed over” houses whose doorposts and lintels were sprinkled with the blood of a specific type of lamb. Study of the events and the timing of the celebration reveal many interesting aspects of the celebration that are not so obvious to those who do not have Liberal Arts and Sciences training.

The first fact of interest lay in the timing of the event. The Passover celebration always starts when the first full moon after the spring equinox. This is the 14th day of Nisan which begins on the night of a full moon after the vernal equinox.

In ancient times though, the start of spring was not always astronomically guided. There were more practical signs that needed to be considered. The tradition in ancient Israel held that the first day of Nisan would not start until the barley is ripe, being the test for the onset of spring.(5) Since at least the 12th century, knowledge of Astronomy and mathematics reveal that the spring equinox is the point in which the sun position above the rotating earth provides an equal amount of light during the day with the darkness in the night. Any day soon after this moment could be considered a day that showed the sun had “passed over” this equality point of day and night length. Knowing this, the question still remains as to why this observance comes during the first full moon and not immediately after that tipping point.

Upon further examination of the cultural records of the time it become clear that the reference to the lamb is also quite revealing. At the time this celebration was immortalized in the practice of the Jewish people, many tended flocks of animals as a matter of daily activity. Part of that activity was to make sure that these flocks were both fed and kept secure. When the season changed from winter to spring, the passing over of the sun was a sign to those tending their flocks that the feeding grounds to the North were about to be producing food. This meant that their flocks would have to be moved toward these pasture lands so they could feed on the new growth.

These moves were problematic if they were not planned for and executed properly. Two conditions that had to be considered deserve some reflection. The first condition was that all newborn animals would slow the flock’s progress to an unacceptable pace; this placed an unnecessary sibolet upon the entire flock. The second condition was that darkness created additional dangers involving terrain and predators. To move flocks during the darkened hours of night would place them in danger, especially if that movement were done under star light alone.

To minimize the possibility of newborns within the flock slowing them down, sacrifices would occur. This meant “spilling” blood. Such sacrifices were seen as necessary and were accepted without question to assure the safety of these flocks. Not doing so jeopardized the flock’s very survival.

To minimize nighttime threats, flocks were moved during those times when the moon’s brightest light lit the skies. This occurred on a regular bases and all that was required was a bit of Astronomical know-how to get the timing correct. Since the first full moon after the spring equinox proved the perfect time to move the flocks to the North, this became the day in which that activity occurred year after year.

As you can imagine, most people within the Jewish faith do not tend flocks any longer. There is no need to make journeys from one pasture to another and not minimize travel time by sacrificing those creatures who would slow that transit. It is clear though that the memory of such activities have been dutifully and faithfully carried forth year after year as sacred lore in honor of their ancestor’s diligent activities.

Masonry’s Beacon
To participate in serious Theological and Philosophical studies, one must have the capacity to decode the records of the past. Specific study provides a firm foundation for cultivating this capacity. Without such firm foundation, assumption about these records might lead one to conclude falsely what these records and events reveal.

It’s truly a marvel how specific studies transform the brain and bring Order to chaos. Masons might want to assure that those Masons who come up through the degrees do the Work that Ritual points to, otherwise men are Raised into positions that they are not properly prepared for.

—————
About this submission: This article is based upon the research behind the book “Building Athens – Uncommon Catechism for Uncommon Masonic Education - Volume 3” by Dr. John S. Nagy. The book was published in May 2010. (http://www.coach.net/BuildingAthens.htm)

About the Author: Dr. John S. Nagy is a Master Mason, a perpetual member of Tampa Bay Lodge No. 252 in Tampa Bay Florida and a Life Member of the Florida Lodge of Research. He is the Lodge Musician for both Lodges and occasional Masonic Education provider.

FOOTNOTES:
1 http://www.members.shaw.ca/hidden-talents/brain/113-maps.html

2 All reference contained herein are those of right-brained individuals. Left-brained maps are mirror images of those.
3 Ephraimites – The Encyclopedia of Freemasonry - Mackey
4 Trivium and Quadrivium - Wikipedia
5 The barley had to be "eared out" (ripe) in order to have a wave-sheaf offering of the first fruits according to the Law. Jones, Stephen (1996). Secrets of Time. This also presupposes that the cycle is based on the northern hemisphere seasons.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Iowa Mason Expores Ashlars

Building Elsewhere - 09/28/2010

Hello Fellow Travelers!

I came across a series of interesting posts on the topic of Ashlars by Brother Mike from Iowa that I found very interesting. You can find them here:
Symbolism of the Ashlars: Standard Interpretation
Albert Pike and Ashlar Symbolism
Bowling Alone?
The Simplistic View
Keep up the grand rendering Brother Mike. Your Work is invaluable and appreciated!

Faternally & Sincerely,

Brother Coach N

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Building Books Makes Scottish Rite Journal - ONCE AGAIN!

Building Series - 9/12/2010

Hello Fellow Travelers!

I receive quite a suprise today. After asking a recent book purchaser how he heard about my books, he replied:

I'm exploring freemasonry and James Tresner recommended your first
two books in his book reviews on the Scottish Rite Journal website.

I felt oddly confused reading this as I recall that Brother James Tresner had only written one review in the Scottish Rite Journal last year and that was on "Building Hiram" and not on my second book "Building Boaz."

Being curious, I did a quick search on the web and found that Brother Tresner had indeed written another review, made generous comment on both my books and it was in the most recent SRJ book review for the Oct. 2010 edition. He wrote the following:

General Masonic Education

Building Hiram: Uncommon Catechism for Uncommon Masonic Education and Building Boaz: Uncommon Catechism for Uncommon Masonic Education, Volume 2 by Dr. John S. Nagy (buildinghiram.blogspot.com) —
  1. I find both these books especially helpful in Masonic education. [italics added]
  2. Written in a Q & A format, these little books explore many of the ideas of the Blue Lodge Degrees.
  3. They provide a lot of insight and more or less “trick” you into thinking more deeply about the symbols and structures of Freemasonry.
  4. You can find them on the Internet.
I've already sent a quick "thankyou" note to Brother Tresner for assisting our Brothers in finding and obtaining Further Light.

For those of you who have come to this link to find out more, you can find these books at the following links:


Fraternally,

Brother Coach N

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tolerance Revisited

Building in General - 09/04/2010

Hello Fellow Travelers!

I’m posting something here that may go against the accepted grain of some Mason’s entrenched beliefs.
Tolerance is no more a virtue than Intolerance is a vice. Moreover, the opposite is true, too. Neither are a vice nor virtue in and of themselves.
Let me elaborate just a bit: By their nature, Virtues strengthen and support and Vices weaken and burden. Neither Tolerance nor Intolerance does either of these.

Therefore, you may query as to what “Tolerance” is and you would ask for good reason. So much of what Masons hear about it is lauded over the purpose it exists and to the point where it is truly unreasonably applied.

To hear Masons speak of Tolerance, one might assume that there are only two possibilities:

Intolerance --- Tolerance

...where “Tolerance” is an expected mode of behavior, specifically toward the religious beliefs of others and any “Intolerance” should not be “Tolerated.”

However, we all know that there are many more possibilities under the heavens than these two behavioral choices. Let me expand upon this further.

Tolerance is one of four words used to denote expressions or behaviors that occur when people are faced with something in which they must deal.

That group of four expressions covers a continuum that stretches from rejection through to acceptance. When adding resistance and tolerance to that continuum, we have four behaviors that people use to deal with situations.

Let me say this again: Tolerance is only a small part of a continuum of behavior based upon differing response/reaction choices. In a rudimentary continuum, Rejection, Resistance and Acceptance flank Tolerance.

This continuum appears like this:
Rejection --- Resistance --- Tolerance --- Acceptance

Which could be viewed as an expanded version of this:
Intolerance --- Tolerance


However, the later version of these last two isn’t the former version of the four, since “Intolerance” doesn’t capture the subtleties of “rejection or resistance” and “Tolerance” doesn’t capture the subtleties of “Acceptance.”

What was previously stated about Tolerance and Intolerance applies here too. Each one of these four expressions is not a virtue or vice either. They are simple behavioral choices that one may use in responses/reactions to life, and this includes those behaviors toward people with which one shares one’s life.

These four should also not be confused with Attitude, which in and of itself consists of seven key attributes*, of which only one is manifested by the aforementioned behaviors.

What though can be said of the virtues that support one’s choices to respond with any one of these four? My observations tell me that the Four Cardinal and Three Theological Virtues help guide one's choice to either reject, resist, tolerate and accept.
  1. These Seven virtues may call a person to reject what is before them when it is wrong for all involved. Don’t these Virtues help to discern this?
  2. They may as well call that same person to resist something forced upon him that is not right even if it is right for someone else. And, perhaps rightfully so!
  3. Yet, if what is right for one is not right for another and it is not being forced upon the person whom it is not right for, these virtues may lead someone to express tolerance. Would this be considered relative?
  4. Acceptance may unfold when what is at play is right for all involved and these virtues support this. Yet, without a firm foundation in the Seven virtues, could some things be accepted wrongfully?
These conditions outlined above are relative to whom is involved and the values that each involved hold as sacred for themselves and others. “Relative” because it is rare that any two people hold the same values much less agree upon how these values should be honored. The key though lay not in the choice of each of these four options…
 
Rejection --- Resistance --- Tolerance --- Acceptance
 
…but in how each is expressed. Each response/reaction is appropriate under the right conditions and inappropriate under the wrong conditions. Additionally, that key may never be inserted into the locks th at hold people apart because agreements upon honorable behavior are as varied as the faces of humanity.

Knowing this, I chose to accept that there will be disagreement and, when this occurs, I shall simply be open to better understand what others accept as honorable behavior or not. Once I think I understand, I may make effort to come to some amicable agreement, most of the time. Of course, I reserve the right to hold back on this if I believe it will work in everyone’s best interest when we don’t come to an amicable agreement. Sometimes this is appropriate too.

At one time, I defined “Tolerance” as the ability to withstand any amount of irritation, agitation or violation, perceived real or not, without responding or reacting in a devaluing or negative way toward the perceived source of that irritation, agitation or violation.


I should have expanded that definition to include all four possibilities and temper them with the Seven Virtues specified in the EA Ritual.
  1. “Rejection” and “Resistance” are saying “no” and doing so in a valuing, honorable and respectful way toward all those involved.
  2. “Tolerance” and “Acceptance” are saying “yes” and doing so in a valuing, honorable and respectful way toward all those involved.
People, Masons included, seem to focus upon the one behavior, Tolerance, though. It’s as if it is the sole option in this world of humans. It is not. It is but one of at least four that we as Masons should keep in mind as we navigate the minefield that is created by much misconception. This is where education helps -- more specifically "Masonic Education."

Throughout Masonic Education, “discrimination” is something that is a valuable and appreciated skill. Much of the first two Blue Lodge Degrees makes effort to cultivate this skill within Masons. As with all skill development, it is just as important to know when to apply it and when not to apply it. This too is something that is cultivated within the first degree of Blue Lodge Masonry.

So, when you see Masons who have done the Work that Ritual points to, you most likely see the entire continuum of behavior ranging from rejection through to acceptance played out before you in very righteous ways, all based upon their finely cultivated ability to discriminate appropriately depending upon the situation before them.

In addition, if you perceive that these same Brothers push the envelop of unacceptability in some situations where other Brothers are involved, you can almost guarantee that they’re simply messing with their heads and for all the right reasons.

I suggest that you play along. You may very well learn something new and valuable about yourself and your Brothers.

Fraternally,

Brother Coach N

(Source: Pages 140-146; Building Cement - Uncommonly Concrete Masonic Education)

* Values, Intents, Perceptions, Beliefs, Emotions, Actions (behaviors) and Results

----

I'm proud to say that this article eventually became an appendix with my book, Building Cement.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Building Athens - The Delivery!

Building Athens - 5/29/2010

Hellow Fellow Travelers!

The book shipment arrived yesterday at 3:00PM ET. I am the proud father of a Bouncing baby book. I'm very tempted to refer to the new arrival as a "she" since the name reflects "Athena." (Let me know your thoughts on this; as in, Hiram and Boaz have a baby sister...)

I spent the latter part of my evening hours yesterday signing (sometimes noting), packaging the pre-ordered books and addressing them to the various Brothers and others who supported me in getting this book to press.   As of this moment, I packed up a total of 88 books for shipment today.

I am whelmed looking at the support, encouragement and trust that my Brothers have invested in my direction.

I'm speechless, (so I write. )

Some things you might find interesting about the relationship between the "Uncommon Catachism for Uncommom Masonic Education" Family members:

Building Athens is focused upon the Work of the FC.
  • It places special emphasis upon the benefits of this Work, the Work required to adjust the Perfect Ashlar to prepare it for Raising and how critical it is that Masons do it to help Raise them toward Mastery.
  • It has 42,773 words with 65 illustrations and over 40 encryptions (in a variety of Forms...).
  • This makes Building Athens19% more verbose than Building Boaz and 38% more verbose than Building Hiram.
  • There were fewer illustrations this time due to the overwhelming amount of words. 
  • There are 1438 I/R pairs in this book.  That's an average of 119 per chapter.
Building Boaz is focused upon the Work of the EA.
  • It places special emphasis upon transforming the Rough Ashlar into the Perfect Ashlar.
  • It has 35,825 words with 80 illustrations and quite a few (simpler) encryptions.
  • This makes Building Boaz 38% more verbose than Building Hiram.
  • There are 1267 I/R pairs in this book. That's an average of 106 per chapter.
Building Hiram is focused upon the connections between the three Blue Lodge Degrees.

  • It places special emphasis upon Integrity and the benefits reaped for being true to one's Word.
  • It has 31,077 words with 80 illustrations and quite a few (more complicated) encryptions.
  • There's more but I want to make a run to the post office before it closes for the day.
  • There are 1103 I/R pairs in this book. That's an average of 92 per chapter.
Thank you Brothers. Your encouragment helped make this effort possible.

Fraternally,

Brother Coach N

Monday, May 24, 2010

Building Athens - The Quickening

Building Athens - 5/24/2010


Hello Fellow Travelers!

I sent the corrected proof copy of Building Athens to the printer last evening.  This is it!  The button is now pressed and I'm told that the first print run will occur this week. 

That means Building Athens will be ready for shipping on Friday after 3pm.

The excitement is almost overwhelming!

Fraternally,

Brother Coach N

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Building Athens - The Proof!

Building Athens - 5/22/2010

Hello Fellow Travelers!

I've just combing through the proof copy privided to me by my printer for what seems to be the 300th or so time and found a few extra question marks and period marks that appeared in wrong lines. ARG!  Perfecting comes at a price.

Here's an interesting statistic to share: I counted 1438 I:/R: pairs in this volume. That means that there is an average of about 119 or more I:/R: pairs per chapter. Yikes!
 
Fraternally,
 
Brother Coach N

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Building Athens Scavenger Hunt and Symbolic Challenge

Building Hiram - 05/20/10

Hello Fellow Travelers!

33 Questions and Challenges for “Just Passed” Masons to Explore, Perpend and Respond to...

(Based upon the book: Building Athens – Uncommon Catechism for Uncommon Masonic Education – Volume 3 by Dr. John S. Nagy)

The Work of a Passed Mason does not end with his Passing and proficiency. If he did his Work well, he should be able to understand the source and purpose of that Work.

Below are questions designed to assist him toward that end.
  1. Entered Apprentice Masons Work upon what type of Ashlar? Show this symbolically.
  2. Fellow Craft Masons Work upon what type of Ashlar? Show this symbolically.
  3. What should Fellow Craft Masons have developed prior to being Passed? Show this symbolically.
  4. Where may the cradle of “Western Civilization” be found? Show this symbolically.
  5. What Athenian writing discusses City-State Governance, who wrote it and how does it relate to Masonic development? Show this symbolically.
  6. What training did “Guardians” and “Philosopher-Kings” receive and how do each relate to Masonic development? Show this symbolically.
  7. Who is the Athenian Widow’s Son? Show this symbolically.
  8. What is “the divided line” and how is it represented? Show this symbolically.
  9. What Raises a Mason’s ability to Work with Symbols? Show this symbolically.
  10. What one specific skill development do Fellow Craft Masons Work upon that Raises their ability to Work with Symbols? Show this symbolically.
  11. What do the words “Trivium” and “Quadrivium” mean and to what do they refer? Show this symbolically.
  12. What does the word “Scholasticism” mean and what was the primary reason for its use in medieval schooling? Show this symbolically.
  13. Describe the difference between “Symbols” and “what they represent.” Show this symbolically.
  14. Describe idolatry and its affect upon Symbol understanding, use and Work. Show this symbolically.
  15. What well-known author warned others of specific types of “Idols?” Show this symbolically.
  16. Describe the concept of “The Pass” as it relates to Masonic Development and how does it relate to the Checkered Pavement? Show this symbolically.
  17. What Hebrew word symbolizes “plenty”, what Hebrew word symbolizes “burden” and how are these two words both related and dissimilar? Show this symbolically.
  18. What brings Order to Chaos? Show this symbolically.
  19. What areas of the brain are focused upon during Entered Apprentice Work? Show this symbolically.
  20. What areas of the brain are focused upon during Fellow Craft Work? Show this symbolically.
  21. Identify the specific areas of the brain that each Liberal Art and Science develops. Show this symbolically.
  22. Studying Grammar develops what skills in Masons? Show this symbolically.
  23. Traditionally, how are Logical statements constructed? Show this symbolically.
  24. What do Masons have to be mindful of when dealing with Flawless Logic? Show this symbolically.
  25. What are Rhetorical Stratagems and Canons and how do they support Rhetorical purpose?
  26. What are the four fundamental operators of Arithmetic and how are they related functionally? Show this symbolically.
  27. How are Rhetoric, Music and Geometry related and what is their collective primary goal? Create a symbolically analogy showing how each relates to the other.
  28. How does the study of Rhetoric, Music and Geometry support understanding of Astronomy? Show this symbolically.
  29. Once FC Masons study the Trivium, what should they be able to do? Show this symbolically.
  30. Once FC Masons study the Quadrivium, what should they be able to do? Show this symbolically.
  31. In traditional Guilds, what was another word used for “Fellow Craft” and what did this word mean? Show this symbolically.
  32. Traditionally, what wages could Entered Apprentice Masons, Fellow Craft Masons and Master Masons expect? Show this symbolically.
  33. In traditional Guilds, at what point in a Fellow Craft’s life would he be accepted into a Guild and be considered a Master? Show this symbolically.
Fraternally,

Brother Coach N.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Building Athens!

Building Hiram - 5/15/10

Hello Fellow Travelers!

Building Hiram and Building Boaz are awaiting the arrival of their sibling Building Athens.

Here's a look at the inside Table of Contents.

If there is further interest, please check out the link.

Faternally,

Brother Coach N.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Attic

Building Hiram - 4/12/10

Hello Fellow Travelers!

The following was pubished in "Further Light" by the Florida Lodge of Research this month.

Faternally,

Brother Coach N.

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

The Attic[1]
Ask any Mason what significance Athens has to Masonry and there is a high probability that you’ll be met with a blank stare and a possible grunted “huh?” I would be tempted to say that this response is most unfortunate but reality tells me this is for the best. If the connection between Athens and Masonry became common knowledge, Masonry would transform before our very eyes. However, least I get ahead of myself in revealing too much too soon, let me first share with you some trivial background and set the stage for such a quick transformation.

Foundation
Classical Athens had a rich background and long record of accomplishment. It was a powerful city-state. Athens was a center for the arts, learning and philosophy. It was home to Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum. Classical Athens is currently referred to as “the cradle of Western civilization” since its cultural achievements laid the civil foundations of the West. It is also considered “the Birthplace of Democracy.” What’s more is Athens, as a city, has been continuously inhabited for at least 7000 years – a very long time in terms of human history.

In all these statements about Athens, there lay seeds of some important Masonic connections. One of these connections is the practice of Civility. Civility is the core of Civilization. Civilizations are complex societies or culture groups characterized by interdependence upon agriculture, long-distance trade, state form of government, occupational specialization, urbanism, and class stratification[2]. None of these can exist without Civility.

Another connection is Democracy. Democracy is either Direct or Representative. A Direct Democracy is a political government carried out by the people; a Representative Democracy is where the power to govern is granted to elected representatives. Interestingly, the word “Democracy” is derived from the Greek word “dēmokratía,” which means “the power to the people.” It was coined from “demos” which means "people" and “krátos” which means "power." The Athenian connection? The word “Democracy” was coined in the middle of the fifth century BCE to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens following a popular uprising in 508 BCE.

There are two principles that characterize any form of Democracy: equality and freedom. They are most often reflected as all citizens being equal before the law, having equal access to power with freedom secured by legitimized rights and liberties. These are generally protected by a ratified Constitution.

It is useful right now for us to delve a bit into what constitutes a ratified Constitution. A Constitution is a set of rules for government—often codified as a written document—that enumerates the powers and functions of a political entity. Ratification occurs by the approval of the principal for an act of its agent where the agent originally lacked authority to legally bind the principal[3]. Simply put: To ratify is to legally empower others to act as agents to execute specific functions. Such ratification occurs of one’s own freewill and accord.

Constitutions are not a new idea. People were creating Constitutions very early on in recorded history. Excavations in Iraq around 1877 found evidence of the earliest known code of justice, issued by the Sumerian king Urukagina of Lagash around 2300 BCE that allowed for some citizen rights. Some of these rights provided tax relief for widows and orphans. Other rights protected the poor from the usury of the rich. Early on, Constitutions became entwined in civil support.

This leads us to a very important Constitution that occurred in Athens. In 621 BCE, a scribe named Draco wrote the laws of the city-state of Athens. Its codes had one unique prescribed solution – a death penalty for any offense. This was changed 27 years later when, in about 594 BCE, Solon, the ruler of Athens, created the new Solonian Constitution. The new Constitution eased worker Burden. It also made the ruling class wealth based and not birth based, as in a “Plutocracy” rather than an “Aristocracy.” About 508 BCE, Cleisthenes reformed the Athenian Constitution and set Athens on a Democratic footing as an ancient Participant Democracy. For this action, he is referred to as “the father of Athenian Democracy.”

Later on around 350 BCE, Aristotle, made a formal distinction between Ordinary Law and Constitutional Law. He established ideas of Constitution and Constitutionalism. He also attempted to classify different forms of Constitutional government. His efforts further clarified the relationships between men, their government and the world.

The clarification process within Athens continued for some time. All who lived within it stirred the pool of shared information. Ultimately, the foundation laid by Athenians has provided Masons with much to be grateful.

Tyranny
Gratitude though sometimes comes in mixed measures. There was another very important, albeit disturbing, heritage established in Athens to which Masons should take notice. It was the establishment of tyrannicide; the killing or assassination of tyrants for the common good. This began in Athens in 514 BCE. The group establishing this act was referred to as the “Athenian Tyrannicide Cult.” They showed outright contempt for tyranny.

Tyranny was not always looked at in disfavor though. At that time and before, tyranny simply meant anyone who obtained executive power in a polis by unconventional means. In fact, the word derives from the Latin word “tyrannus”, meaning "illegitimate ruler", and this word in turn came from the Greek “týrannos”, meaning "sovereign, master."

In Classical Athens tyranny occurred regularly. Support for tyrants came from the growing middle class and from peasants who had no land or were in debt to wealthy landowners. The populous preferred them to kings and aristocracy. Unfortunately tyrants once positioned, used mercenary soldiers from outside of their respective city-states to maintain their power. During the growth of the Athenian Democracy[4], the word “tyrant” took on its negative connotations. What has come to be known as “tyranny” is antithetical to Masonic practice. Masons should note how such tyrants come into being and how they maintain their power base.

Athena
There is further significance for Masons in knowing Athenian history. Athens was named after Athena, their city’s patron. She was known as the goddess of Wisdom, war, strategy, industry, Justice and skill, of which the metalwork of weapons fell under her patronage. Athena was also known as a shrewd companion of heroes and the goddess of heroic endeavors. Although known as a goddess of war, she disliked fighting without a purpose. Athena preferred using Wisdom to settle disputes, using war only as a last resort and for good and reasonable cause. Like all of Masonry and its symbol of Solomon, Athena’s underlying character is Wisdom based.

Interestingly enough, this focus on Wisdom is also echoed in the Volume of Sacred Law. One scripture: Wisdom had Built her house; she has set up in it Seven Pillars[5]; becomes even more important to Masons once some connections are known. Let’s review some now. The classic Symbolic interpretation of the word “Seven” denotes “completion or sufficiency.” The meaning is rooted in the phase changes of the moon where every seven days reveals a completed phase change. The classic Symbolic interpretation of the word “Pillar” denotes three possibilities — “a supportive structure,” “a commemoration of a significant event,” and when it is accompanied by an orb placed on top, it denotes “a person of importance.” When these two word meanings are placed within the context of Wisdom’s house, we see that it is always a significant event when an important person comes to support Wisdom’s house completely or sufficiently. Masons should know how this is immortalized in Ritual.

Those Seven Pillars have much to do with regard to Masonic endeavors. They provide a sound and firm understanding of what supports Masonic Wisdom. They represent the “complete or sufficient” study of Wisdom as provided by the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences. The Masonic connection to these Liberal Arts and Sciences may not be clearly apparent at first. Let’s explore elsewhere a bit before I share this connection.

Properly Aimed Study
The term “Liberal Arts” derives from the Medieval Latin phrase “artes liberals.[6]” The root meaning of “artes” is “subjects of study,” and the root meaning of “liberals” is “proper to free persons.” Science is Knowledge supported by an integrated system of rational thought. The “Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences” are book studies that are proper and sufficient for persons who are free. Their aim is to properly prepare students for the serious pursuit of Science in the strict sense of the term. Students schooled in the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences prepare themselves for serious study of Scholasticism, which is the combination of Philosophy and Theology.

“Scholasticism” is a word derived from the Latin word “scholasticus” which means “that which belongs to school.” It was a method or tool of learning taught by academics of medieval universities circa 1100 CE to 1500 CE. Originally, its purpose was to reconcile ancient classical Philosophy with medieval Christian Theology. By placing emphasis on Dialectical reasoning, it was believed that one could find answers and resolve contradictions.

This leads us back to the point of this communication. The foundation of the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences was first established in Ancient Greece and more specifically Athens. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were Athenians partially responsible for helping to establish the foundation for the study of subjects we now know as the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences. Plato was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens. The Academy was the first higher learning institution in the Western world. Academy teachers were known for laying the foundations of Science, Natural Philosophy, and Western Philosophy. Please keep in mind that Philosophy for ancient Greeks had a much broader connotation than what is applied to it today. Back then, it applied to all those domains of reality reflecting rational thought.

Philosophy
The story of Greek Philosophy starts sooner than Plato’s Academy though. It began in the seventh century BCE with an Ionian named Thales. He was one of the first recorded “thinkers” to reflect rationally on the makeup of the primary substance of the universe. Thales’ primary interests were Ethics, Metaphysics, Mathematics and Astronomy. Aristotle regarded him as the first Philosopher in the Greek tradition.

Other “thinkers” followed Thales’ example. They were Anaximenes, Heraclitus, Parmenides and Democritus – Philosophers all. Their collective method of reasoning was Dialectic and involved the use of Rhetorical thought and discourse. This method caught on fast. Within two centuries of introduction of this specific thought process, sophists were making money in Athens instructing young men in Rhetoric. Such instruction was considered at that time the art of persuading an audience.

The Sophist’s Philosophy though espoused a type of skepticism with respect to religious beliefs and philosophical knowledge. They embraced a relativistic approach to Ethics. Their view of the universe was summed up by the sophist Protagoras, who claimed that “man is the measure of all things.” Plato characterize sophists in his “Sophist” dialogue the following way: Sophistry is a productive art, human, of the imitation kind, copy-making, of the appearance-making kind, uninformed and insincere in the form of a contrary-speech-producing art.[7]

Plato’s mentor, Socrates, was a man who firmly and fiercely disagreed with sophist ideals and methods. He was an Athenian Citizen and Philosopher who lived between 469 BCE to 399 BCE. Socrates is sometimes referred to as the “Father of Philosophy.” The development and use of the “Socratic method” was his legacy to Philosophy. His method uses a series of Inquiries and Responses in the form of questions and answers to refute groundless opinions and to lay the foundation for the discovery of true Knowledge.

Socrates was known for many things, of which two facts about his life should stand out for Masons. The first fact was that his father, Sophroniscus, was a stonemason who is believed to have died by the year 424 BCE, before Socrates’ 46th year. The second was that Socrates’ execution, about his 70th year, profoundly changed ideas about what it meant to be heroic since he died only because this Widow’s Son steadfastly refused to abandon his principles.

City-state Governance
Plato was tremendously influenced by Socrates, along with Pythagoras, Aristophanes, Protagoras, Homer, Hesiod, Parmenides, Aesop, Heraclitus, and Orphism. He used the Socratic dialogues in his Academy. They were written by Plato as thirty-five dialogues and thirteen letters. These dialogues were used to teach a range of subjects, including but not limited to Philosophy, Logic, Rhetoric and Mathematics.

Plato though is best known for writing, the “Republic”, originally titled “Politeía.” The title “Politeía” literally means “the order or character of a political community” that is “its constitution or regime type” and is a guide to "city-state governance.” It has profoundly influenced Philosophy and political theory since its writing. In it, the characters discuss the meaning of Justice and examine whether the just man is happier than the unjust man. It accomplishes this by imagining a society ruled by Philosopher-Kings and supported by Guardians. The dialogues also discuss the role of the Philosopher, Plato's Theory of Forms, the place of poetry, and the immortality of the soul.[8]

The Guardians
Masons would do well to inform themselves about Guardians and their training. Guardians were those persons educated[9] to be gentle toward their own citizens and fierce toward their enemies. This education was accomplished by totally training each Guardian’s character toward producing a morally mature individual. It strived continuously to connect Ethics with Aesthetics, thus cultivating Guardians attracted to good and repulsed by evil. The training combined the proper balance of intellectual and physical training and cultivation so neither overrode the other. Part of the discipline required to do this was to discourage Guardians from questioning the accepted belief system, leaving this to those who have been properly schooled to do such things. What is most striking about Guardian education is the strict emphasis on all Guardian educational material reflecting good Morals, personal balance and encouraging development of Virtues. Masons should recognize this as the focus of education toward which the First Degree Ritual points us.

The Philosopher-Kings
This leads us toward the Masonic connection involving the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences. Philosopher-Kings were those persons educated in what is now known as the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences, with particular emphasis on Dialectic and the Quadrivium.[10] The study of Dialectic focused upon Logical discourse and it was supported by knowledge and proper practice of Grammar and Rhetoric. Masons recognize these as the Trivium.[11]

Education in the Trivium and Quadrivium have a profound effect upon those who study them. Plato had his concerns regarding improperly guided Dialectic though. He believed that without proper Philosophical guidance Dialectic could destroy a person’s belief in religious myths, its traditions and conventional norms. This very concern is characterized and conveyed in present day Masonic Ritual as “Irreligious Libertines and Stupid Atheists.[12]” They are two characters denoted in Masonry who destroy Faithful belief through irreverent use of Dialectic, usually because of their poorly guided study. Philosophers avoid cultivating these possibilities in their students by refocusing Dialectic toward the Eternal Forms and to the form of the Good. Masons must keep in mind though that myths represent forms of Good about as well as shadows represent the things that cast them.[13] This is why the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences were studied. Studying them allowed future Philosopher-Kings to look through the illusions cast by myths and see clearly the truth behind them. The Masonic degree that best reviews and espouses the education of Philosopher-Kings is the Fellow Craft Degree.

Blueprint
Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft Masons partake in a specific study as they travel Eastward. These studies echo the ones put forth in Plato’s Republic for those characters within called “Guardians” and “Philosopher-Kings” respectively. For Fellow Craft Masons, that study is best exemplified by what is now referred to as “The Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences.” The protagonist of Plato’s Republic is Socrates, the Widow’s Son and the “Father of Philosophy.” He is noted for inspiring new ideas as to how to go about thinking and what it is to be heroic. When men follow his example, their awareness, merits, rewards and contributions are profoundly Raised.

I’ll now delightfully revoke my earlier statement about Masonry transforming if the aforementioned connection were to become common knowledge. It wouldn’t transform, but you may. Let me now share with you no more trivial background. If I have done my job, your stage is now set for some cavernous contemplation, intense investigation and some titanic transformation.

Perpending Section:
  1. Review the benefits reaped by Masonry through its connection with Classical Athens.
  2. How does tyranny occur and continue and what was one Athenian solution to it?
  3. Describe an undesired outcome that might occur when studying Dialectic and how to prevent it.
  4. What is the significance behind the education of Guardians and Philosopher-Kings and its ramifications?
  5. Explain the significance Socrates, Plato and Aristotle have to Masonry.
  6. Identify and discuss both the overt and covert Masonic connections communicated herein.

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About the Article: This article is based on the unpublished Masonic writings, “The Attic” and “The Attic Catechism” written by Dr. John S. Nagy. They are found in the soon to be published book “Building Athens – Uncommon Catechism for Uncommon Masonic Education - Volume 3” by the same author. The book is scheduled to be published by PG Publishing in June 2010.

About the Author: Dr. John S. Nagy is a Master Mason, a perpetual member of Tampa Bay Lodge No. 252 in Tampa Bay Florida and a Life Member of the Florida Lodge of Research. He is the Lodge Musician for both Lodges and occasional Masonic Education provider.

[1]“Attic” refers to the plain of Attica, home of Athens; it also refers to the upper most story of a Building.
[2]Civilization, Wikipedia
[3]Ratification, Wikipedia
[4]Tyrant, Wikipedia
[5]Proverbs 9:1
[6]Counter to this educational focus was “artes illiberales”, which are pursued for economic purposes, the aim of which is to prepare the student for gaining a livelihood.
[7]Sophist (dialogue) - Plato, Wikipedia
[8]The Republic - Plato, Wikapedia
[9]Republic, Book 2 (375a-383d); Book 3 (386a-412b)
[10]Republic, Book 7 (521c-541b)
[11]Source of the word “Trivial”
[12]Libertines, Encyclopedia of Masonry; Charges of 1722
[13]Republic, Book 7 (514a-521b)