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