Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Brother Asks... Un-recognized Reasons



A Brother Comments and Asks:  I'm curious about the other grand lodges in the deep south. After all this time, why is no progress being made to end this segregation between the two? Racism is the obvious answer, but I'm looking for a little more than that. For two legitimate bodies to not recognize each other would be just that, which in my understanding is a very un-Masonic thing to do, so surely there is something else... do you know?

My Response: You must first see Freemasonry for what it actually is before you can adequately examine the causes for the division to which you point.

FOUNDATION: Freemasonry as it exists to day, and for the last near 300 years, is first and foremost a FRANCHISED Theatrically-Based Role-Playing Society. It offers its members Total-Immersion Opportunities into a Fabricated Fantasy World based and built upon the lexicon, history and lore of Stonecraft. It's Theatrical productions offer Arenas Style experiences to first time patrons and long-time members alike. Along with this is the socialization that comes from putting on and supporting such productions.

Careful examination of its operation and methods speaks volumes above what it claims to be. It is not a Speculative Continuation of Stonecraft as is "played out" in its productions and literature and it shall never come close to being this in any way, based upon its current operation. Those authors who claim it is a speculative continuation of Stonecraft are feeding this fantasy.

Back to your Question: In the USA, the first Recognized franchising organization that possesses a Territory, controls that territory with an iron fist. There are many advantages to this control, one of which is financial; but another is political. Many organizations in control do not want to lose it or any degree of it (pun intended). The same goes for those unrecognized franchising organizations who set up within a territory and operate unrecognized by the premier occupier. They too have control as a result of this division and some actually use the division to further their ends and to attract those who are drawn in by this division. Let's face it, if you offer membership to someone when another won't, you're likely to fill a niche and reap the rewards accordingly.

Territorial exclusivity empowers the Recognized Organization.  They can use their first claim status to coerce those it offers Recognition to within its established territory and do so without these other organizations having any recourse.  It also empowers the unrecognized organization in that they attract those individuals who want something the Recognized Organization can't or won't offer.

As much as one might want to point to racism, ignorance and intolerance as the cause of this division, they are not the causes; although they are supportive to its specific ends. The underlying reasons to not Recognize other organizations within a controlled territory are control issues.

It is most unfortunate that this condition is supported by those outside these territories. 

F&S,

Brother John S. Nagy






Sunday, December 27, 2015

Shadows in the Craft



Passing and Raising Ill-Prepared Brothers are Egregious Acts against your own Faith and that of your Brothers.


At first, I thought it was a fluke.  A well-known and very active Brother who had been in the Fraternity for some time had openly and blatantly denounced his affiliation with it, along with his Obligations and his Brothers.  His letter of declaration was available for all to see and it was clear that he wanted nothing to do with the Organization, ever again.

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

Early in my Fraternal membership, I had no clue about Craft things that more experienced Brothers took for granted.  I didn’t know how to respond to family and friends who asked me about the organization I joined.  I didn’t know much about its history.  I didn’t know how things operated.  I knew even less about the principles and philosophies that the Fraternity espoused.  All I knew was that I was a Master Mason and that I was supposed to be proud of carrying that title.  

Rumbling Foundations 

I was more fortunate than other Brothers in that my family and friends knew even less than I did.  I didn’t have to go into too much detail about the organization.  I didn’t have to field any in depth questions about its philosophy and its principles.  I didn’t have to explain much because, without question, my family and friends trusted my judgment in making good choices in life. 

They were very satisfied with me stating with great confidence that “they make good men better”.  They never took their questions one step further by asking, “How do they do that?”  And that was most fortunate for me, in one respect and very unfortunate in another.

Being a member of the Organization for over a decade, I can say without reservation that others have not been so fortunate.  I base this upon many observations but mostly upon direct statements from Brothers who sought to share their experiences. 

The main theme conveyed was how utterly unprepared the Brothers felt they were.  They didn’t feel Masterful.  They didn’t feel “better”.  They didn’t feel they achieved anything of significance.  These feelings occurred even though they were Master Masons and had passed all the Proficiencies required of them by their Brothers.

They also felt disappointment, especially when they were told by their Brothers that they shouldn’t feel the way that they felt.  These dismissals only added to the feeling that something was not right.  To have their concerns invalidated by their Brothers made their feelings all the more disturbing.  It was clear by their comments that there was a hole that was not being filled.

Beginnings
 
I first took notice of Brotherly unrest after reading open and honest posts placed upon on-line forums and through other forms of communication now widely used by the Craft.  The unrest was not coming from those who shared their feelings about their ill-preparation or from those who had decided to leave the Fraternity due to perpetual disappointments or perceived conflicts.  It came forth strongly from Brothers who did not want to hear them.

The typical responses from Brothers making effort to shut down these discontented voices took different forms.  Many opted to dismiss these Brothers as an anti-mason who, they imagined, had come into the Fraternal Fold with hidden agendas.  Others dismissed these Brothers as being weak minded individuals who were easily persuaded by outside influences and therefore it was truly good for the Craft that they left.  The irony in this type of dismissal does not take very long to spot.  Still other dismissals took the form of subtle to outright ad homonym attacks upon the individuals doing this unwelcome sharing. 

The shame of it all was that nowhere did any of these dismissing Brothers see any Organizational accountability for Brothers leaving.  Moreover, no responsibility was taken either for taking effective steps toward remedying the situation.  Furthermore, those Brothers who openly shared their truth soon discovered their disclosures were used as cannon fodder in some very aggressive and ugly discourse.  The outcomes of such exchanges are rarely Brotherly.

On the other hand, many often expressed concerns were by individuals with strong family ties into religious organizations.  Equally present were expressions of disappointment toward the organization for having too superficial a focus to bring about any significant benefit for those who came into it for something of substance.  With simple well-directed Perpending one shall see that both of these concerns would be addressed quite appropriately if the Organization actually required specific Work before Progression. 

Brother O.T. Ledge[i]

Most recently a newly Raised Brother, O.T. Ledge, was sharing his concern about a specific Scriptural verse.  It was a legitimate concern and he was looking for Brothers to assist him in addressing it.  His concern was specific.  He believed that he was not supposed to do things that he believed Scripture proscribed.  He couldn’t reconcile what he believed he thought Scripture said with the Philosophy that he thought that he participated in within Open Lodge.  With all this on his mind, he was clearly On The Ledge[ii].

Had Brother Ledge been required to do the Work that Ritual directs all Brothers to do, he would have been Properly Prepared to begin the process of reconciliation between what he read within his Holy Book and the Philosophy that he was Obligated to participate in and adhere to as a member of the Organization.   

Under Heaven: Nothing New 

The reconciliation challenge faced by this and other Brothers is not new.  It was also faced by scholars in Europe many years ago.  At that time, there was an influx of Classical Philosophy making its way into their scholarly circles. At first glance, this new wave of information appeared to conflict dramatically with the accepted Theology of the day.  Most all of the conflicts had to do with the misunderstanding of the metaphors and symbols used within the two. 

They soon realized that the problem was their Lack of In Depth Pattern Recognition.  They could not reconcile the differences between the two because they were incapable of even superficially understanding the materials in the way that the original writers intended them to be understood.  They could only understand the materials based upon false and uneducated assumptions.  As a result, they were misled by their own naivety and ignorance.  They eventually concluded falsely and chose very unwisely due to their Lack of Proficiency. 

The problem at that time was no different than the one our Brothers face today – they don’t know what they don’t know.  The problem shall continue into the future and the solution is the same today as it was back then – one must meet the challenge of developing one’s heart and head so that they are both well-founded and in alignment with each other.

Ineffective Dealing

Brotherly concerns need clarity and directness! Diverting problems occur when either tries to prove the other wrong.  No Brother shall convince, persuade or invite any other Brother into thinking differently by proving them wrong.  Should you try this, you shall be met with resistance, and why not? You're resisting their pleas! You can only open doors for them by knowing the topic well enough to answer their questions Heart-fully and Knowledgably -- and without fear. The only way of doing this is studying the words, the culture and the times and carefully discerning the Intent of the writer. This requires Brothers to get their own heads and hearts well-founded and to get them in alignment with each other so that true reconciliation can then be undertaken.  

Packing Masters

  Unfortunately, none of this Preparation Work is required of our Brothers.  As a result, many Brothers are given title, along with their Traveling Papers and sent forth to venture with fully loaded diapers.  They go back into the Profane world and into the clutches of those who would do them harm.  And we willingly help facilitate this as an Organization. 

It’s terrible watching it unfold.  Brothers who have not done the Degree Work eventually succumb to intellectual and emotional blackmail and torment from those who know their weaknesses – many that should have been dealt with long before they were Passed or Raised.  

Had these Brothers been required by the Mature Souls of the Fraternity to dedicate time to do 1) the Emotional Management Work that they were directed to do by the First Degree, and 2) the Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric studies required of them by the Second Degree Staircase, they would have been Properly Prepared. 

Properly Prepared Brothers can easily and effortlessly deal with such coercion.  They are fully capable and firmly willing to deal swiftly and effectively with the unbelievable social stresses and pressures administered and employed by manipulating henchmen masquerading as well-meaning family, friends, co-workers and congregants. They shall also look back to their Brothers with thankful hearts for assuring that they were Properly Prepared.
 
What’s Next? 

If you do not want to see your Brothers fall prey to this insanity, do the Work yourselves so that these Brothers shall see  what Mature Souls are capable of Being.  It is only when this generation leads by example that future generations shall be led by Cultivated men!

The Degrees offered to men within the Symbolic Lodge introduce them to specific Development Work that, when done, Transforms them from Good men to Better men. It also Properly Prepares them for Life as Mature Adults.

This Betterment starts with Cultivating a deeper Understanding of The Self, continues with Cultivating a deeper Understanding of The Universe and ultimately turns toward Cultivating a deeper Understanding of The Word as exemplified through their chosen Faith.

When men join and choose not to do the Cultivation Work that these Three Symbolic Degrees Directs him toward, they shall receive only unfulfilling and dissatisfying Substitutes that they might try to make sense of by futilely Seeking Further Light in other Degrees. Unfortunately, each shall remain unfulfilled until he actually Does The Foundational Work  that Properly Prepares him for any Further Light. This Proper Preparation saves Brothers from unnecessary frustration and disappointment.

Points to Perpend
 
1)  Do you properly address the concerns of your Brothers, or do you summarily dismiss them because they reflect poorly upon the organization?
2) Toward what Worthy Solutions are you Contributing?


[i] A facetiously fictitious name created to both 1) conceal and 2) allude to something lofty and edgy.
[ii] Are you O.T. Ledge?  Do you want more?  Find help here:  http://www.coach.net/BuilderCoach.htm


 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Brother Asks... About Preparation



A Brother Asks:  Where were you first Prepared to become a Mason?

 My Response: The most common and accepted response you will get from those trained in Freemasonic proficiencies is, "In my heart".   But what you shall not hear too often is how that preparation occurs and when.

Most men think that this Preparation is done 'before' they become members of a Freemasonic Order. And it is understandable how they could be easily led to believe that this was all that this sentence implied.

This question alludes to something more profound though. Perpending the sentence with more diligence and due consideration, they might come to understand that this sentence more accurately represents the focus of the Apprentice Work, of which, if left undone, reveals to the world that this Preparation was never started.

But, don't take my word on this.  Let's expand upon this further and then make up your own mind if you see that what I share does apply. 

What does the Apprentice Work focus upon?  If you review what Ritual espouses, it is all about Working upon a man's heart; moving it from Chaos to Order. 

Here's a list of things that does just that:

Apprentice Work (Development of the Heart)

 1) Setting your Plumb; (VoSL)
 2) Determining what's Important/Unimportant to you; (Plumb)
 3) Establishing and Maintaining your Priorities for ...
     a) Time Management, (24IG)
     b) Standards, (Compasses)
     c) Boundaries, (Compasses)
     d) Divestiture (Vices & Superfluities) (CG)
     e) Investiture (Virtues); (Square)
 4) Establishing and Maintaining your Moral Integrity (Square)
 5) Circumscribing and Subduing your Emotions (Passions and Desires!) (Heart!!!!)

Every last one of these activities leads up to and then properly prepares a man's heart to become a Mason.

As you might have gathered from what is shared herein, it is truly not enough to simply want to become a Mason and claim that itself first prepared you.  One must first properly prepare oneself to become and that starts with properly preparing one's heart!

F&S,

Brother John S Nagy

For more information about this specific Work, please refer to Building Boaz and Emotional Awareness Made Easy.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Brother Asks... Who is a Mason?



A Brother Asks: Who is a Mason?

My Response:  This is a great question and one that could be responded to in a multitude of ways, all appearing to be correct to some and incorrect to others.  This is because the word "Mason" is used in so many different ways that most people have their own way of thinking about it that is personal, subjective and specific, based upon their experiences.

To respond to this question with any credibility, you must first answer another question, "What is a Mason" and lay the foundation for the definition of the word.  It is not until you define the word for yourself that you can then ascertain who may fit your subjective description.

While you are at it, you might also want to define, "What is a Freemason." You might assume that they are one in the same, and in certain situations your assumption as to the applied definition would be spot on.  However, should you wish to treat these two words as separate things and know when one is not the other, you must additionally define, "What differentiates the two from each other?"

Although many might think doing this to be a fool's errand, I recommended that you do this anyway so that you do not confuse the two or anyone else trying to understand who is a Mason, especially when someone pretending to be one is clearly not the other.  If you don't take the time to distinguish the two now and do so clearly, you could be easily fooled when the task is put before you.

My experience tells me that a man can be one and not the other. It also tells me that one is not necessarily a subset of the other and that being one is necessarily being the other. 

All this is not understood by some and even dismissed as nonsense by others. I have found though that Masons tend to understand and respect this all too well. It is in their training; training that many Freemasons never get. 

As you take the time to explore your own definitions of the two, how they are similar and how they differ from one another, you'll form your own conclusions and act accordingly.

Once you do take the time to do this, when you come across a Freemason claiming to be a Mason who doesn't see or understand that there are specific differences, be assured that they are most likely not what they claim to be. 

If all this sounds a bit cryptic to you now, and you truly don't know who a Mason is, seek Further Light on it and in time it should become clearer.  Your Seeking shall return great Benefits.

F&S,

Brother John S Nagy

 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Lodge Support



Put your Support where you’re Nurtured Best!

To some, a Lodge at best is no more than a temporary home toward which Brothers Travel for Work, Earnings and Contribution; to make it anything other than this would be to bastardize its intent.  To others, it is a Way of Being where Brothers drink deeply from the Wellsprings of the Spirit; making it a Community of Brotherhood, Transformation and Rejuvenation and where all are paid their Due Wages for Work well performed. 

˜  ¾ œ š
 
Past Musings

It’s said by some Brothers and Scholars that in days of old, Stonecraft (Operative) Lodges were convened for the purpose of performing Work Supported by financial sources other than the Workers themselves.  These Lodges came into being for that purpose and for that purpose alone.  Once this Work was completed, or became unsupported (as in, financial support stopped), the convened Lodge dissolved and the Workman Traveled to find Supported Work elsewhere. 

Perhaps it’s a fantasy to think that these Workman Operated in Wisdom, where they only had a Lodge convened when Supported Work existed.  Perhaps it was not Wisdom at all and merely Common Sense that drove the practicality of such Conventions.  Either way, the Support paradigm seemed to work very well at the time. Lodges came into being and left existence just as swiftly based upon some very simple practical drivers.

It makes sense that such paradigms might have dictated the creation and destruction of such Operative Lodges.  Both the Lodge and its Workers required expenses to be paid and this on a Regular basis.  They were business operations primarily and most business operations have overhead costs associated with running them.  Working Tools and Materials must have been procured and maintained, at a cost. Administration and Site Support costs must also have been taken into account.  These expenses and others must have been taken into consideration when Work was to commence. 

For such Lodges to come into and remain in existence, Work supported by sources of revenue certainly needed to exist also.  It is costly for Workers of any Lodge to exist in any moment when there are no Supported Works to be done.  For Workers to be supported in their efforts, fair compensation (revenue for their Work) must be available to sustain them.  Once the support for such Work ceased, soon thereafter you could easily expect the entire Workforce to disband toward other supported Work that made itself known to them.  It was a good business model and it functions that way to this day in many parts of the world.


Today, Freemasonic (Speculative) Lodges come into being not because there is externally Supported Work to be done.  They come into being because there are groups of Workers called, “Brothers”, who want to Build and run Lodges.  The financial support no longer comes from external sources.  It comes from the pockets of member Brothers and not from financial backers or benefactors wanting structures built for one reason or another. 

The Work has also changed.  It’s taken two different directions in its focus: The Lodge (a band of Brothers who meet in a Lodge Building) and the individual Workers (the Brothers themselves).  Either Work results cannot be seen as external edifices that tower over the heads of those who build them.  Results cannot be viewed as a bridge that leads to other destinations.  The results of the Work are intangible in every respect and those desiring to touch any of it shall die in frustration before they may lay finger upon it.

The Work today is no longer Operative in nature.  It is solely Speculative and internal, not just to the Lodge Building but also to the Lodge’s patrons.  These patrons are profiteers of this Work and they are the Workers themselves.  The Work is explicit too.  It’s designed with one end in mind: to Preserve a specific Code that, when followed and practiced, Raises males to Maturity.


The Work within the Lodge is totally Preservation based.  It is esoteric in its nature but is often viewed and practiced as if it were exoteric.  No matter how it may be viewed though, Preservation is always at the forefront of its purpose. 

There is an established and honored Work flow.  Future Workers go through a rigorous interview process followed by Work being Initiated.  Should the new Worker show commitment, he shall eventually Pass onto other Work activities that eventually Lift him into providing the same support toward others so inclined.  Every stage of the process Preserves the specific aforementioned Code and only those who have committed that special Code to memory are allowed to Work within the Lodge building and under the Lodge’s Work Charter. 


Many Lodge members do not Understand the Work that should take place within each of the Workers, and far fewer do so clearly.  Even fewer support it.    It’s referred to as “esoteric” by some and “non-sense” by many others.  The end-in-mind of this Work is Maturation, although in the archaic language used by the Workers then, as in now, it is referred to as “Perfection”.  Even that word is misunderstood by the majority. 


Workers who are new to the Work are referred to as “Apprentices”.  The Symbols, that the Craft use to denote these Workers, all point toward dealing effectively with Youth. These Symbols also point toward the need for these Youth to develop and use specific disciplines that allow for better self-management. Activities designed to Unburden them of non-essential activities, relationships, ideas and possessions are pointed out to these Workers in the hope that they shall be Mature enough to knowingly engage in them.  There are also Activities designed to Strengthen their ability to make better choices.   These too are offered to the Workers in hope that they shall be ready for them. 

It’s important to note that the Apprentice Work might appear to be focused upon the superficial aspects of the Worker.  There is much talk about making surfaces Smooth and Right.  With well-guided instruction though, these aspects lift quickly away to reveal that it is not the external but internal Character that is being Worked into being smooth and Right.  Their Work requires Fervent and unwavering Commitment.  Those Workers without these qualities shall never Pass Suitably toward any worthwhile ends.  It is these qualities that bring about the Wages each Worker receives and in turn Contributes to the Lodge as a unified Workforce.  Should they fall short in any way, they and their Brothers shall suffer together.


Workers who progress through the initial stages of the Work come to Pass into a stage referred to as “Fellow Craft”.  The Symbols, that the Craft use to denote these Workers, all point toward dealing effectively with Adulthood.  They also point to the need for these individuals to develop and use specific disciplines that allow for Mature management of things external to themselves.  They are given opportunity to engage in activities that show them how to Distinguish things in progressively finer detail and to use both words and numbers as tools to do this.  All these activities, when engaged in, Cultivate Understandings within the Workers that Reveal Order in a seemingly Chaotic world.  These activities also Cultivate their Understandings as to how seeming Chaos can be Ordered and Controlled in very beneficial ways. 

Ironically, the Fellows’ Work is bringing Order to Chaos, not to the external but internal World of the Worker.  With well-guided instruction, the Craftsman soon Understands that his internal world must thoroughly be Worked upon first before what he shall eventually Work upon things externally.  It is tough and demanding Work.  Those who are still Burdened or who still lack Strength shall find that they are incapable of rendering anything of satisfaction.  Furthermore, if they do not learn to Distinguish well, their Work and what they Earn as a result shall suffer greatly. It is the internal qualities of these Workman that shall bring about their eventual Wages and in turn, what they shall Contribute to the Lodge as a unified Workforce.  Should these Workers be viewed superficially, all future benefits shall be diminished for all involved.


Workers, who Progress well through Manhood, Raise their Understandings and Improve their Discipline enough to be shining examples of what Recognizing, Understanding and Executing the Preserved Code should do, Rightfully merit the title of “Master”.  Those that don’t merit the title shall lesson the Wages for the entire Lodge.  The Symbols, that the Craft use to denote these Workers, all point toward dealing effectively with Age and Wisdom.  They also denote the need for these Men to further develop and use their well honed Understandings and Disciplines in life.  Workers who merit such a title, also merit Traveling, Working, Earning and Contributing at the high level that they have achieved.  Pretenders to this title may be given opportunity to do all four at first, but their lack of Maturity, Discipline and Skill shall soon betray them.  Their very looks shall reveal to the world who they truly are. 

Masters render Beauty in their Work.  There lives reveal to others and the world that they have achieved Mastery in that allows for liberties not permitted by those less Masterful.  It is their qualities that bring about the Wages they receive and, in turn, what they Contribute to the Lodge as a unified Workforce.


Lodge Members frustrated by the lack of sufficient support from poorly trained Workers should Perpend long and hard upon the Worker Work that each Lodge should promote.  Just as the Operative Workforces of past years, Speculative Workforces of present day Lodges require funding for Lodge Work.  Often times the Work itself provides the funding for Lodge Work.  This is because Workers do not view Lodge activities from a financial standpoint alone.  Work in itself should and does have a high degree of satisfaction and it is always rendered as payment to those who joyfully engage in it. 

When the Work being done holds no reward, the Workforce shall disengage and soon depart from it.  The Operative Lodges of yester years knew well that any Work that goes unfunded is unrewarding.  This especially includes unrewarding Work. 

When a Lodge wants support, it is well advised to look at the Work that it provides to its Workers.  A Lodge engaged in activities that have no reward to its Workers shall continually struggle to keep Workers in its quarry.  An unpaid Workforce shall not remain out of loyalty; they shall leave and go where they are rewarded best. 

Points to Perpend:

1)      How does your Lodge nurture its members toward Maturity as males?
2)      What Wages do your Lodge members currently receive for the Work that they do?
3)      What Wages would you like to see for your Work?
4)      What Work must you Commit to do and to perform to receive this Desired Wage?
5)      How soon should you be starting this Work?
6)      Whom shall you ask to assist you toward your Desired ends and how soon shall you ask them?


Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Brother Asks... Masonry vs. Freemasonry


A Brother Asks: How is Masonry different from Freemasonry?

My Response: There's more to it than what I am about to share, but this small primer should get you started.  I've included links at the back of this should you want to explore further.

Freemasonry is all about the Freemasonic Organization.  It's focused upon Building Better Members and maintaining the Organization

In this respect, Freemasonry is about Hierarchies, Rules, Laws, Etiquettes, Traditions, Rituals, Lectures, Lores, Floor-work, Choreographies, Memberships, Dues, Biographies, Histories, Rites, Rights, Proficiencies, Memorizations, and Re-enactments that Preserve and Propagate a Specific Code that Can Make Good Men Better, when Recognized, Understood and Applied. 

Masonry is all about the Individual.  It's focused upon Recognizing, Understanding and Applying a Specific Code that Makes Good Men Better. 

In this respect, Masonry is about Building Better Builders who Recognize, Understand and Apply The Code; a.k.a. "Do the Work!".  Here are some of the Masonic Activities that do just that:

Apprentice Code (Development of the Heart)

 1) Setting Plumbs; (VoSL)
 2) Determining what's Important/Unimportant; (Plumb)
 3) Establishing and Maintaining Priorities for
  a) Time Management, (24IG)
  b) Standards, (Compasses)
  c) Boundaries, (Compasses)
  d) Divestiture (Vices & Superfluities) (CG)
  e) Investiture (Virtues); (Square)
 4) Establishing and Maintaining Moral Integrity (Square)

Fellow Code (Development of the Head)

 1) Establishing a Strong Foundation of Linguistic Discrimination and Modeling in two key realms
  a) Words (Trivium - Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric); and
  b) Numbers (Quadrivium - Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, Astronomy )

Master Code  (Development of the Spirit)

 1) Further Learning - Masterful Application of all previous study toward Theology and Philosophy
 2) Teaching the next Generation of Masons to Recognize, Understand and Apply The Code.

You may notice immediately that, for the most part, Freemasonic Organizations do not focus upon or support activities denoted in the three Codes just listed.

However, Freemasonic Practice and Activities do assure that this Code is preserved, albeit as an unknown mystery to most who receive it.  On the other hand as is revealed by the above lists, Masonic Practice and Activities assure that Individual Betterment through Recognizing, Understanding and Applying that Code occurs. 

It should be obvious that they are both required for different reasons, but unfortunately the former overshadows the latter almost to the point of non-existence within the Organization.

Sources: The Building Better Builders Series of Books, DVDs, Articles and Blogs...

F&S,

Brother John S. Nagy

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Brother Asks... Setting the Plumb


A Brother Asks: Why is it so important to Set my Plumb?

My Response: In a nut shell, it provides to you a Standard by which you can Guide other Activities based upon what you Understand and Accept to be Most Important.

Let's get into it a bit...

When Masons skip over Setting their Plumb, burnout is inevitable. Applying the 24 Inch Gauge is founded upon knowing what is Important, and what is Not Important. That means you must know what your priorities are.  Without a Properly Set Plumb, priorities are not established, much less known and no Mason can use his Time Management Working Tool properly; trying to do without a Set Plumb is insanity. It is in Setting his Plumb that a Mason Determines, Establishes and Works toward Maintaining that which he values most. Until this is done, he does not consciously know what is truly Important to him and hence he shall participate unknowingly in multitudes of unimportant activities.

Likewise, the Square will not be True since the entirety of its Proper Angle is determined by Standards that are Embraced upon Setting the Plumb.  Without these Standards, how would you  
Determine, Establish and Work toward being Moral or Virtuous? 

Furthermore, the Level is useless without a Plumb.  How are you going to know how to view and treat others if you have not a Set Plumb?

Moreover, the Compasses require an understanding of what must be Circumscribed and why.  Without a Set Plumb to guide that Circumscription, your line is not guided by a known and true Standard.  Without such guidance, how would you know where and when to draw the line?

Additionally, without a Set Plumb, your Common Gavel becomes a danger to yourself.  How are you going to know what to divest yourself of without a standard to guide your activities?

I hope you can see why it is so important to Set your Plumb and to do so as early in your Work as possible.

I have a question back to you:  If you were to Set your Plumb, how would you go about doing this Great and Important Undertaking?

F&S,

Brother John S. Nagy


Monday, December 14, 2015

Judge Permits Freemasonic Defense



Cracked Rocks AK -- In what is now considered a bold but viable legal maneuver, a thirty-three year old self-proclaimed Craft Initiate and his two brothers have made history by successfully offering a “Freemasonic Defense” plea in their court case.  Mr. J. Roughman made his earnest plea to the judge on all of their behalf during their pretrial arraignment. 

Judge Rufus A. Round, after due consideration of the gravity of the request, responded with a one word ruling , “Yep”, on whether to hear their defense plea at trial.  It was a startlingly profound but short response and all that the judge had to say to them before trial, judgment and sentencing.
As luck would have it, the three local Freemasonic spokesmen were all present that day and all in agreement with the judge's ruling.  Spokesman Brother Lett M. Havvit had this to say, “The general consensus among our local Brothers was to support these three individuals in getting what they demand.  If they want to be treated as Freemasons, then by all means they should indeed be given every opportunity and with full regard to what they desire.”

It is important to note here that both the pretrial and subsequent trial were amazingly swift.  When asked by Judge Round if they did do what they were accused of doing, each defendant responded with an unequivocal, “Yes, I did it”.  When also asked why, each claimed in their defense, “It was because I was going through a Freemasonic Initiation.” 
The judge, himself a long time Freemason and well recognized Past Master of the Craft, took all this into consideration during the trial.  In a last minute effort to determine culpability, he asked the three of them, “Do each of you admit that you went through this initiation of your own free will and accord?”

They responded in unison, “Yes!  Of course!”

The defendants appeared quite shocked by what the trial judge had to say next in response.  “Your defense plea is accepted and so are your confessions!"  He then leaned over, grabbed his gavel and said, "Guilty as charged!”, and slammed down the gavel on his bench.  Judge Round was seen to immediately hand over to each of the defendants a list of three penalties and was heard to ask them to choose which one each wanted administered as punishment.

Round said afterward that it was the most convincing legal defense he had ever heard in his 50 years on the bench. “I couldn’t believe how rock solid their argument was”, he said.  “There was legally no way to dismiss their defense either", the judge remarked. "I wish I could have but I was forced by their carefully worded plea to proceed with the trial." And it was just after he said that when Ruffus sighed, hung his head for a moment, and added in a deeply pitying tone, "Those miserable impetuous wretches had no idea what consequences they were demanding through their plea.”
All present agreed it was a brilliant display of Freemasonic justice.  The Roughmans are expected to have their sentencing acted out at low twelve tonight. 

Attendees to tonight's event are expected to show their dues cards at the door and to be tried before entering.

F&S,

Brother John S. Nagy

 

 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Perfect in Sanity



The Fit Foil Foul Fits Fitly.


The seepage of one’s assumptions permeates thoroughly all that one views. How one views "Perfection" is included in this thought’s basin. Freemason’s Rituals are activities intended to reveal paths that show how to Perfect men. How men see this "Perfection" affects all that they shall do. More importantly, it affects all that they shall be. 

š ¾ ¾ œ ˜  ¾ ¾

If it hasn’t happen to you already, it’ll happen to you soon enough. At one point in your Fraternal experience, at least one of your Brothers will proclaim, "no one is perfect" while alluding to a very strong belief that "no one will ever be perfect until they have passed beyond this physical realm". Immediately following this proclamation, a physical and verbal showing of support will usually radiate from all who are present.

It’s interesting to view these exchanges. Often times the individuals most animate to affirm this adage are least likely to show any significant signs that they have Worked toward improving themselves. It’s almost as if adages like this one support an unworldly stasis intended to preserve their status quo.

Counters

Unfortunately, this status quo is antagonistic to Freemasonry’s ends. Freemasonry opens up men to improvement possibilities often never imagined before they Entered into the Craft. Its Ritual is intended to show men what is entirely possible for them, should they invest themselves toward Betterment. Craft activities, those pointed toward by Freemasonic Rituals but not the activities of Rituals themselves, are transformative in nature, when applied. Status Quo is the very antithesis of this. Improvements to men require corruption of their Status Quo, in value-adding ways. 

There’s a perceptual ironic twist in this. Craft activities, designed to bring about Order, inundate every Candidate’s current Order with seemingly overwhelming Chaos – at least, to the uninformed mind. "The Storm before the Calm" is an experience that every Candidate goes through. No exacting Preparation shall ever prevent this internal whirlwind. It’s the natural effect of awakening to the world without and within each of us. 

Not understanding fully all that is offered in Rituals causes these storms of confusion, especially when the pace of Ritual information delivery is far faster than what information is normally offered in life. Absorption only occurs at the rate governed by each Candidate’s ability to comprehend. Far too many Candidates, whelmed by these experiential floods, ride them out supported only by encouragement to sort them out when these floods recede. That sorting out shall never occur without further support from within or without.

Craft Winnowings

The activities that follow each Degree continually separate the Fraternal Wheat from its Chaff. Brothers Properly focused take hold of their Working Tool and busy themselves in the Business of Working their Ashlar. Those remaining whelmed by each of their Degree experiences, may flounder in an unfocused stupor, engaging in rote engagements without ever lifting any Tool whatsoever, much less applying them. It would do all Candidates well to have Coaches and Mentors consciously aware that Candidates depend upon sound guidance wrought by Working Experience at every Step of their Journey. 

One piece of sound guidance involves that word mentioned earlier – Perfect. Experienced Coaches and Mentors know that misunderstanding this word’s application to the Speculative activities of Masons can maneuver them towards hopelessness. The typical Candidate who depends upon others for support in this area might be directed down a path of darkness rather than Light due to its meaning being "high jacked" by many well-intentioned Brothers that truly don’t know better. It’s important for Coaches and Mentors to convey meaning that provides a viable target. Anything that suggests or conveys an improbability of success is hostile toward motivating Brothers seeking to improve themselves. 

There are things that you can do to improve the odds that your support efforts are successful.

Clue Sifting

Cunningly crafted clues to Craft Perfection are alluded to within the Apprentice’s Working Tool Presentation and the description of the Rough and Perfect Ashlars within the Apprentice’s Movable Jewels Lecture. In the Working Tools Presentation, the Apprentice is told that Operative Masons used the Common Gavel to break off the corners of Rough Stones, the better to Fit them for the Builder’s Use[1]. In the Movable Jewels description, Apprentices are told that the Perfect Ashlar is a stone made ready by the hands of the workman, to be adjusted by the working tools of the Fellow Craft[2]. Each provides Perpending Brothers opportunities to see through Veils antagonistic to the Light Masonry offers to those who do its Work.

Fitness

From the moment they Obligate themselves, Apprentices are involved in a Fitness program, or at least they should be if they are to remain true to their Intent. Their task is to bring themselves to a Suitable state for the Builder’s Use. The word used to convey this Suitability is "Fit[3]" and its roots reflect exactly that: a meaning of "being suitable", "being the Right shape" and "being Suited to the circumstance; proper". All Apprentices who make effort to do the Work should understand this fully.

Youth

It is known by many Freemasons and any Perpending Mason that the Apprentice level of the Craft represents its Youth. This is an appropriate classification in that, in the Eyes of the Craft, Apprentices have yet to Mature. The activities they each engage in, should they actually do the Work that Ritual directs them toward, are intended to bring them to Maturity at an accelerated rate. The time required by each individual varies but should each endeavor to engage in these activities fully and completely, Fruition is likely to come sooner rather than later. Coaches and Mentors should be careful to avoid assigning completion times to such activities since it is "Character" that indicates completion and not "time served". 

Maturity is an ideal word to Characterize the Fitting process offered to Apprentices. Scripture backs this up. Research shows that the multitude of words[4] most commonly and generically translated to the word "perfect" reflect more accurately a general meaning of Complete, Mature, Healthy, Sound, and Sane rather than the very often specific and misguided claim of Flawless. This is an important distinction and insight toward which Coaches and Mentors should draw all Apprentice’s Work attention and intention. 

It should also be pointed out to Apprentices that Maturity doesn’t require flawlessness. Equally flawlessness doesn’t require any Maturity whatsoever. Perpending whether Maturity or flawlessness has more value to a Builder would be a good exercise for all those involved in Apprentice activities.

Maturity 

Apprentices are asked to Use their Working Tools in a Directed Fashion to break off or divest themselves of what is metaphorically termed "Rough Corners". These features of their Stone are unnecessary and excessive to what any Builder needs. It is a Maturing process that Speculatively "shapes" men toward uses more Suited to civil societies. 

The Symbol of the Mature man and Mason that is commonly used within Freemasonry is the Perfect Ashlar. It is most unfortunate that a select swath of Brothers insist that such a man and Mason could only exist in death. You’ll hear them claim that they shall forever be a Rough Ashlar, never understanding that the Stone to which they refer would never be called, "a Rough Ashlar", once any Work has been done upon it whatsoever. The transition from Rough to Perfect is Commonly known to Masons who do the Work. Those who don’t know, realize not that they proclaim arrogantly their ignorance and earnestly believe that they have properly Characterized themselves; they have not.

Fellow Craftings

The Work that Apprentices do is to Perfect their Ashlars. It is only after this Work is completed that the Fellow Craft adjust this Perfect Ashlar. That adjustment is movement only. It involves Raising and Positioning the Perfected Ashlar only and in accordance to the Builder’s Use. This occurs in both in an Operative and a Speculative sense. Specific Steps direct that movement and each requires staged Masonic movement. However, this is only after achieving Maturity.

Points to Perpend
  1. What are synonyms for the word "Perfect"? 
  2. What is your understanding of the word "Perfect"?
  3. What have you and haven’t you done to "Perfect" your Ashlar?
  4. What must you continue to do to "Perfect" it?
  5. How differently would this article sound to you if you replaced the word "Perfect" with the word "Mature"?
  6. How would this change affect your view of the Work that you think you should be doing?

    -- Brother John S. Nagy
    _______________________________________________
    [1] Short Talk Bulletin - Vol. IX July, 1931 No.7
    [2] Short Talk Bulletin - April 1979
    [3] fit (v.) "be suitable," probably from early 15c.; "to be the right shape," 1580s, from fit (adj.). Related: Fitted; fitting. Fitted sheets is attested from 1963.
    fit (adj.) "suited to the circumstances, proper," mid-15c., of unknown origin, perhaps from M.E. noun fit "an adversary of equal power" (mid-13c.), which is perhaps connected to fit (n.1). Survival of the fittest (1867) coined by H. Spencer.
    [4] (Hebrew) םימת tamiym taw-meem’, םת tam tawm, םמת tamam taw-mam’, םלשׁ shalem shaw-lame’, םולשׁ shalowm shaw-lome’ or םלשׁ shalom shaw-lome’, הלכמ miklah mik-law’, רמג gamar gaw-mar’, תילכת takliyth tak-leeth’, לילכ kaliyl kaw-leel’, ללכ kalal kaw-lal’, רמג g@mar (Aramaic) ghem-ar’, (Greek) τελειος teleios tel’-i-os, τελειοω teleioo tel-i-o’-o, ακριβεια akribeia ak-ree’-bi-ah, ακριβηστερον akribesteron ak-ree-bes’-ter-on, ακριβως akribos ak-ree-boce’, καταρτιζω katartizo kat-ar-tid’-zo, ολοκληρια holokleria hol-ok-lay-ree’-ah, τελειοω teleioo tel-i-o’-o, επιτελεω epiteleo ep-ee-tel-eh’-o 
     
     

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Grand Lodge Backs Dollar Raise Club


Dull Glades MS – In what could only be considered by Craft Members as a valiant effort to save Craft dying Lodges, the Grand Lodge of Mississippi has announced it is now offering for a limited time a Lodge Replenishment Program called, “The Dollar Raise Club[1]”. 
Grand Lodge Spokesman, Right Worshipful Frank “Kick” Starter said he got the idea one evening while watching a twelve hour infomercial.  “It was the darnedist thing!” he said with enthusiasm. “I was watching this very long and fascinating program and only realized toward the end that it was trying to sell me a product.”  He added, “After realizing how swept away by the program I was, and by the way it was all put together, I thought we could certainly use this same technique in our Craft recruiting efforts!”

Brother Starter said the Grand Lodge initiative to replenish dying Lodges was formulated and implemented shortly afterward. 
Initially it caused some confusion within the older members.  One old timer and past Master, Worshipful Brother Wee B. Small, said, “It’s not how we did it in my day, but I guess changing times means we need to adapt.” He shrugged his shoulders and added, “Other than increasing revenues, I don’t see how this is going to rebuild Lodges though.” 

From what is revealed on the initiative's opt-in website, the program offers three tiers of commitment for all new members and even has an opt-in program for already established members. The first tier only requires an investment of one dollar a month for a Regular Disposable Membership card.  Shipping and handling is extra at this level.  The site also says that this card is good for one month and should the member need a new card for the next month, all they need to do is order it on line.  If they don’t need a new card too often, they can opt to have a new card mailed to them every other month and pay accordingly. 
Details on the other two tiers include varying degrees of attendance, voting, visitation rights, degree viewing, degree participation and elaborate titles; all available at the click of a button and additional fees.

The Grand Lodge Treasurer, Most Worshipful Ben E. Stretcher, was extremely excited about the entire initiative and reported the coffers have never been fuller.
For further information related to this and other programs, please call Brother Legg Pullum in the Grand Lodge’s Ruffian Acquisition and Termination Department.

F&S,
Brother John S. Nagy

Footnotes:
 [1] not to be confused with "The Dollar Shave Club"