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All One Day Class Masons Should Just Quit, Right?

I Guess All One Day Class Masons Should All Just Quit, Right?

If you are a One Day Class Mason, you can probably relate to this post.

If you are a One Day Class Mason, you can probably relate to this post.

I felt the need to write this today to address the seriously pompous attitude that hundreds of our brethren have towards individual One Day Class Masons.  I really feel One Day Class Masons have gone through a belittlement and negative treatment by many brothers that is irresponsible at best, and un-Masonic to say the least.

While I am sure that MOST educated Masons can see the serious flaws of One Day Class events, I am left wondering why in the world the rest of the fraternity does nothing to help the situation, or the misguided brethren they seem to have a problem with.  I see equally worthless traditionally made do-nothing pieces of garbage that have slid through the West gate into our ranks that love to run their mouths about how crappy the One Day Class Mason is, while at the same time doing nothing to help the situation or take it upon themselves to study the landmarks and traditions of the fraternity.

I will be very clear in my distain for the practice of making Masons in one day, but as many of you know, I am a One Day Class Mason myself.  I am bothered more by this than any single human being on this Earth.  What I refuse to claim to be is some sort of a lower form of Mason or otherwise uneducated Mason.  I was led to the One Day Class by existing members.  I knew no difference at the time.

There are a few issues here where I can agree with most people who disagree with One Day Classes.

One Day Classes cheat a member out of a crucial experience that other Masons get. – I agree

One Day Classes often leave new members wondering aimlessly with no direction. – I agree

One Day Classes are designed primarily to boost numbers quickly. – I agree

How is any of the above the individual Mason’s fault?  I’m not talking about what he may or may not do once he finishes the One Day Class.  I am talking about the man who has been led to the One Day Class, often times by a traditionally made Mason.  How is it his fault by simply taking up an offer that was given to him?

Here is what upsets me to no end when surfing online or listening to others degrade the guys who have gone through the One Day Class events:  Often times, the pompous mouth spouting off makes zero distinction between his dislike of the PRACTICE of the One Day Class and the One Day Class Mason himself.  This arrogance is un-Masonic.

Look, It’s no secret that there is trash that comes in with a One Day Class, the real secret, or perhaps the unspoken truth that many of these brothers often forget to touch on, is that there is no lack of garbage that make it in the traditional way too.  This garbage will continue to breed garbage regardless if they are a One Day Class Mason or a traditional Mason.

While it is ok to disagree with the practice of a One Day Class, lumping all One Day Class Masons as a group of noncontributing do-nothing freeloaders is more detrimental to the Craft than anything in my opinion.  Look, I hate One Day Classes, but I will put my dedication, effort, and practice of Freemasonry up against any Mason, any day.

Also, another item to remember is that if you disagree with something so bad, make it known to the powers that can do something about it. Don’t arrogantly belittle a man simply based on his misguided ignorance of how the system was supposed to work.  Don’t anonymously post like a coward on in internet forum. For anyone to post belittling remarks about McMasons or other derogatory labels but not have the stones to discuss it with his District Deputy or Grand Lodge shows your cowardly attitude and lack of willingness to help the Craft.

Put yourself in the shoes of the One Day Class Mason who is trying his hardest to find his way.   What are they supposed to think about the Craft and its membership?  I can’t help but be bothered by the arrogance of some of these guys that are supposedly there to help their brothers.  Some super Masons you all must be.  You must be so far superior to all of us stupid One Day Class Mason’s aren’t you?  Thanks for the brotherly love.

If you read any of my previous blogs, or my book for that matter, you will all see that I believe a new member is a new member is a new member.  Yes, One Day Class’s have negatives in so many respects, but no new member is going to be so far advanced and educated beyond all expectations that they will be able to digest the ritual in which they took part in and understand it fully.   Will they be ahead?  Well, yeah, a little. They have a leg up, for sure, but any new member is not automatically God’s gift to Freemasonry.

While the One Day Class robs the member of the experience of being brought to light properly as well as so many other little things they should experience, I want to challenge any new traditional member to sit across the table from a NEW One Day Class Mason and discuss the ritual.  I bet they will both have a million curiosities that will require further instruction.

You are more than welcome to think our leadership has failed us.  You are more than welcome to disagree with the One Day Class conferrals. But it is not ok to prop yourself up as some super Mason and pretend you are so far superior to other Masons for showing up for 2 additional nights. The One Day Class Mason did not fail us; the fraternity failed us by allowing the practice to happen.   It was up to the fraternity to properly guide men and guard the West Gate and stick only the best leaders in charge.  The fraternity failed here in my opinion.  It was up to the fraternity to properly lead and instruct.  Our fraternity failed.

I disagree with One Day Class’s so much that it makes me angry when they come around, but I also took an oath to help aid and assist the fraternity to the best of my ability ,  to remind my brethren of their failings and to aid in their reformation.  While I disagree with what is happening, I also feel it time for the rest of the membership to take a stand and help correct the course. Educate others so that they too will uphold their obligation to help the fraternity and new member who needed guidance.  Don’t sit back and throw jabs and anonymous smart remarks.

As for the One Day Class Masons: LISTEN UP!  You already have a large portion of the Masonic world who thinks you are less of a Mason.  Sure, maybe they don’t say it to your face, but this feeling is out there, and you are kidding yourself if you think it’s not.  Stop giving them reasons for thinking you are a failure and get your acts together.  Perhaps if you don’t care about the fraternity enough to learn anything about it, then leave.  Get out now.  Resign.  Take a hike.  Go to the Moose.  Join the Lions.  You do no good here.   You aren’t doing the fraternity any good and you aren’t doing yourself any good by wasting money on dues for an organization that you are not using.

But, wait a minute, that line wasn’t just for the One Day Class Mason, it is for all the traditionally made trash we have in our ranks, too.

Here is where you all need to reread that paragraph above again.  Go, do it now.  The Masons who are here, who are reading this blog right now, like you, are doing it because they want to be better Masons.  You are either reading because you are a traditional Mason who saw the title and think you are somehow better than I or any other One Day Class Mason, or possibly you are a One Day Class Mason who saw the title and said, “Wait just a damn minute. I am an awesome Mason.”  You could just be neutral on the whole subject and only care about the true purpose of the Craft, which is self betterment and gaining useful knowledge.  Regardless, you are obviously a little more involved than others if you are taking the time to read about the Craft in your free time.

In other words, the crap bags of the fraternity, the card carriers, the low-lives, and the non-contributors are NOT reading this right now.  The men here, the men reading this, the men sharing this are here because they are actively involved in Freemasonry.  It’s my experience that card carriers and crap-bags rarely read books, let alone search out further information on Freemasonry.  Shouldn’t we focus our displeasure on those guys instead of the active members?

It’s all up to you. If you dislike One Day Classes, the work to end them.  Get on an interview committee and educate a potential candidate about the pit falls of a One Day Class.   If you dislike One Day Classes, then work to educate the men who have been led to them.  If you are tired of the crap we have flowing into the fraternity, then put up or shut up for the love of God.   What you can’t do is belittle the brothers who are trying to earn Freemasonry.  What you can’t do is claim dominance over every One Day Class Mason out there.

I’ve spent 10 years earning Freemasonry and discovering the tools that have been given to me. While, I disagree with the Once Day Class, I have seen the good and the bad in both systems.  Stop the ignorance and start acting like Masons already.  You will see that even though One Day Classes may not be ideal, there is no shortage of successful One Day Class Masons out there.

-ATO
——————————————–

If you like what I write about you may want to check out my book.

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Earning Freemasonry – A One Day Class Redemption, NOW AVAILABLE!

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Books purchased here will be signed and sent directly from the author.

Modern Freemasonry is changing. A new member today is brought into a fraternity much different than their fathers and grandfathers fraternity. Changing demographics and declining membership numbers have brought on many short cuts to membership and advancement in the Lodge. Designed to boost membership, combat a declining older generation, and fit better in the modern man’s life, one day classes and easing of membership have opened the flood gates to Freemasonry. Thousands of men have been made Freemasons in one day classes over the past decade. Countless others have become Freemasons in a more relaxed lodge than existed just a few years ago. While some of these men go on to do great things in Freemasonry, the sad reality remains, many men joining today do little more than get a card in their wallet. Any Freemason, be he a card carrier, officer, Past Master, or otherwise regular member has a part to play in our Fraternity. Some men take the long way; some men take the short cuts. Regardless of how you were given the tools of Freemasonry, it is up to the individual man to earn them. This books details one man’s journey from citizen to Freemason in a one-day-class. Through firsthand experience, observation, and opinion, the author explains the pit falls and trials that go along with the easing of the order and offers insight on how we may be able to correct our missteps. From the new Mason to the Past Master, this book is designed to help any member earn Freemasonry and start enjoying the true benefits of the Craft.

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The Washington Monument Commemorative Stone of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania

Click to enlarge.  Image from http://www.nps.gov.

Freemasons and students of Masonic history can claim many connections to some of America’s greatest national treasures.  Because of the esteem in which our Craft once held, it was not uncommon to have Masonic lodges asked to perform public cornerstone ceremonies and dedications to many of the nation’s best known buildings and monuments.  (readers may recall my Gettysburg blog here) As you can imagine, any organization asked to participate or contribute to the construction of a national memorial has a sense of pride and contribution to history.  The Masons are no different.

According to Pennsylvania Grand Lodge minutes, in June of 1848, an invitation sent from the Grand Lodge of Washington DC was received and accepted by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania to “attend and assist in the ceremonies of laying the corner Stone of the Washington National Monument.”  The ceremony took place the following month on July 04, 1848, Independence Day1

When the Freemasons laid the cornerstone of the George Washington National Monument in DC it not only put another short notation in the history books about the Masons, it also opened up an opportunity for Masonic lodges and other civic and patriotic organizations to have their mark placed in American history as part of the very structure itself.

When construction began the Washington National Monument Society, which formed in 1833 as a private association, allowed donation of blocks to be incorporated for a twofold purpose.  The first was so all states of the Union could feel represented by the monument, and the second was to aid in fundraising and construction costs.  The society originally planned to accept monetary donations along with the donated stones, but it seems many blocks came without such donation.2

There are 193 commemorative blocks inside the Washington Monument.  That is, there are 192 commemorative stones, and 1 commemorative block of copper ore. The latter donated by the state of Michigan.3   The stones were donated by individual states, societies, and private citizens.  These stones range is size and style.  Some are very basic with simple inscriptions, while others are incredibly complicated with fine detail.   The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania’s stone fits into the latter category.

The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, like many other societies, had an interest in donating a stone. In September of 1850 a motion was made to secure an appropriate amount of money “to procure a block of Penna. marble to be fashioned as a Keystone and inserted as part of the National Monument to Washington to bear the inscription from the Grand Lodge of Masons of the Keystone State in memory of the Masonic virtues of Washington or some other inscription that the Grand Master or Grand Lodge may direct.”4   A committee was formed for the purpose of designing and executing the project and to report the cost back to Grand Lodge.

In November that year the committee reported back that it had in fact met several times to work out the details of furnishing a block of marble as well as a design to be carved into the stone. The final cost of the stone was set not to exceed $500.00.  The carving design was supplied free of charge by committee chairman Bro. G. Parker Cummings who was Worshipful Master of Lodge No. 19.5

Gordon Parker Cummings

Gordon Cummings, or as most records record his name, G. Parker or GP Cummings, was a talented architect.  He was born around 1809 and was one of the first architects to have significant works on both coasts of the growing Republic.  Along with his many achievements, he was responsible for Philadelphia’s first structure supported by iron rather than timber, the cast iron Penn Mutual building. He also designed the Grand Lodge of Colored Masons, an Early English Gothic style, in 1851.  He went west to San Francisco after the gold rush boom where he is remembered for numerous building as well as the capitol of Sacramento.6

Cummings made it back to Philadelphia where died in 1889.  At the time of his death he was living in the Masonic Home in Philadelphia.  He was buried at Monument Cemetery, but unfortunately he did not remain there long.  Not to get too far off topic, but it is worth pointing out that in the 1950’s with expanding and changing times, Monument Cemetery which held more than 28,000 bodies was sold to Temple University.  Part of the university’s explanation required removing and relocating the bodies in the cemetery.  Today, it seems, there is no really good records of what happened to most of the bodies, with many being put into a mass grave.  Hundreds, if not thousands of headstones were dumped into the river.  To read more about Monument Cemetery check out The Cemetery Traveler blog here.7

William Struthers

Grand Lodge minutes indicate that the work was to be “carried out under the superintendence of a Special Committee appointed for that purpose, whose duty it shall be to see that none but the most skilful artists are employed and that the work be done in the most superior manner.” The man chosen to carry out said work was Bro. William Struthers.8

Detail on the George Washington tomb. (Photo from Adam T. Osman)

Struthers was born to Scottish parents in January of 1812.  He followed his family profession and became a marble mason.  His father John is credited with several well-known monuments including the new marble sarcophagi of George and Martha Washington as well as the sarcophagus of Henry Clay and that of Isaac Hull, Commodore of the United States Navy.9   I’ll point out here that, while Johns name is on the side of the Washington sarcophagi, and most historians believe he is the carver, there are claims that another man actually carved the eagle and shield, while Johns firm simply supplied the marble.10

By 1840 William and his father were working under the title John Struthers and Son.  William expanded the family business and his work can be seen in various places around Philadelphia, most notably Philadelphia’s City Hall.11

Struthers not only carved the stone for the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, but also was responsible for the Corporation of the City of Philadelphia stone.12

Despite the Grand Lodge Minutes on 1850 stating the stone would be placed at the 2nd landing, the actual location of the Grand Lodge stone is on the 16th landing, approximately 180 feet up. The following description was taken from “The Voice of Freemasonry” magazine in 1997.  (see link in reference for more Masonic stone information)13

On the 180-foot level, at the sixteenth landing, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania contributed a richly carved marble stone. Prominent upon the stone is carved an arch and keystone. The keystone contains a seal with four quarterings with a lion, a man, a cow, and an eagle, traditional emblems of the four apostles. Above the seal on the keystone is “Holiness unto the Lord”, below the seal is “From the Keystone State, A.D. 1851 A.L. 5851.” Above the keystone two angels guard with uplifted wings a small ark of the covenant. To the right of the arch is a crumbling wall surmounted by masonic tools set against a wooded hill. To the left is a wall of finished ashlar surmounted by a masonic altar and tools against another wooded hill. In the clouds on a banner to either side of the keystone is the inscription “Ad majorem Supremi Architect Glorium”.

While this is not meant to be a study of all the commemorative blocks in the monument, the resources below can provide hours of further study.

As of today the Washington Monument remains closed due to the earth quake that hit the Washington DC area in 2011.  Before the earthquake it was possible at certain times to ride the elevator up and walk down the inside to view the memorial stones.  This is no longer the case.  Perhaps someday things may change and you may be able to view the stone with your very eyes.

Book_Cover_front_rgbEarning Freemasonry – A One Day Class Redemption is now available for purchase.
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  1. Minutes of the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania and Masonic Jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging, Volume VII, 1840-1848, Page 494
  2. The Washington Monument: A Technical History and Catalog of the Commemorative Stones p. 8 (http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/wamo/stones.pdf) accessed 9/28/13
  3.  The Washington Monument: A Technical History and Catalog of the Commemorative Stones p. 1 (http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/wamo/stones.pdf) accessed 9/27/13
  4. Minutes of the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania and Masonic Jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging, Volume VIII, 1849-1854, Page 112
  5. Minutes of the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania and Masonic Jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging, Volume VIII, 1849-1854, Page 117
  6. Biography from the American Architects and Buildings database, http://www.philadelphiabuildings.org/pab/app/ar_display.cfm/22495, accessed 9/27/2013.
  7. How Monument Cemetery was Destroyed, The Cemetery Traveler – by Ed Snyder, http://thecemeterytraveler.blogspot.com/2011/05/how-monument-cemetery-was-destroyed.html accessed 9/28/13
  8. Minutes of the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania and Masonic Jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging, Volume VIII, 1849-1854, Page 117
  9. Philadelphia Graveyards and Cemeteries, By Thomas H. Keels, page 107.
  10. Andrew Doig, John Struthers & George Washington’s Sarcophagus, accessed 9/28/2013 http://chicagoscots.blogspot.com/2011/04/andrew-doig-john-struthers-george.html
  11. Biography from the American Architects and Buildings database, http://www.philadelphiabuildings.org/pab/app/ar_display.cfm/22755, accessed 9/28/2013.
  12. The Washington Monument: A Technical History and Catalog of the Commemorative Stones p. 124 (http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/wamo/stones.pdf) accessed 10/28/13
  13. The Voice of Freemasonry, Grand Lodge, F.&.A.M., of the District of Columbia, Spring 1997

Learning How to Die – The Importance of the Skull in Freemasonry

27 October 2013 1 comment
The Caput Mortuum - Deaths Head

The Caput Mortuum – Deaths Head.

I recently returned from a very interesting presentation by Bro. Arturo de Hoyos at the October 2013 meeting of the Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge.  Bro. de Hoyos was to present on Masonic ritual, but being that it was so close to Halloween, he informed us he would take the angle of the use of the skull in our Masonic ritual.  Boy, was this an eye opener.

Anyone looking for information on Freemasonry, no doubt, has come across illustrations of the skull and crossbones.  To many, this is an ominous item that we tend to shy away from today.  It is seen by some as morbid, evil, scary, and even Satanic by some.  It has been shoved to the corner of society with things we associate with being dark, negative, and unpleasant.

I am no different.  I have seen this symbol.  I realize it symbolizes death.  I understand that it was used early on more than it is used today, and I see why, by today’s standards, this symbol could be seen as sinister by many of the profane.

After watching this presentation and reflecting on what Bro. de Hoyos spoke about, I began to think that my definition and feelings on Freemasonry may be a little off.

When asked what Freemasonry is, I tend to repeat one of the first passages we all hear each month at lodge.  Found in the opening charge is the phrase “useful knowledge is the great object of our desire.”   This is simple.  It is much easier than the “system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols” definition that is standardly thrown around.

When someone asks, “What is the point of Freemasonry?”  I have to go no further than the first few words of our opening charge.  The purpose is to gain useful knowledge.  This knowledge is used to make us better people.  We use this knowledge to refine our characters and live better lives.

When I step back and look at the way I explain it to people, I realize that there is more.  The next question I ask myself is, “Why live a better life?”  On the surface it seems simple.  If you live a better life, you will be a better person.  You will improve all that is around you.  Things will go better and be better if you live a better life.   Still, there is more to living than what is here in now.  At the end of life is death.  Death is A LOT longer.

While it is true that being a good person can make your life better, I realized the purpose of living a better life is to achieve admission to a better afterlife.  In a nice life, we are on this Earth for 90 years, 100 if we are lucky.  100 years is a long time to a living human, but it’s just a blink of the eye in the grand scheme of things.  If the lifestyle lived as a Freemason is giving me knowledge to polish my rough edges, the end goal will be to get into Heaven.  (or whatever you call your spiritual afterlife) The end point of life is death.  This makes the purpose of Freemasonry simply to learn how to die.

Society seems to have taken the unpleasant images of the world and not just pushed them aside, but downright vilified them.  Anymore it seems as though displaying a skull and crossbones is downright creepy.  And really, in today’s day and age, it is.

This symbol has gone the way of the swastika in many regards.  Of course the about-face that the swastika took is an extreme example of symbol bastardization.  In today’s world it would be hard for most people to think a home flying a large swastika flag in the front yard is the best place to send your girl scouts to sell cookies.  The skull has taken a similar seat in society.

Why should we care about the skull?  Well, for starters we need to focus on what it actually symbolizes.  The skull is a symbol of death and mortality.  Pushing aside all profane and otherwise misuses of the skull, I think it’s time the Freemason starts to focus on the skull.  It might not even be a bad idea to display it in a place where he sees it every day.   For other peoples ignorance sake, I wouldn’t recommend displaying this on a 3×6 flag in your front yard, or even on a badge on the back of your car, but for the purpose of self-awareness it could be displayed inside your home, on a key ring, maybe even as an accompanying symbol on your masonic ring.  You are doing this for your own good, no one else.

If you do this, of course, you need to also be educated enough to be able to defend yourself when the questions inevitably start coming.  I realize there are many reasons we don’t use this symbol as much as we once did in regular craft Freemasonry, but I think it would benefit us all to be reminded daily why we live by the working tools.  Death is just around the corner.  We have no idea when it is coming, and we have no idea how old we’ll be when it happens.

As we strive to live by the working tools, we need to keep in mind the reason for doing so.  Knowing what the working tools mean won’t make you a better person if you aren’t executing their direction.  Understanding Masonic Philosophy won’t help you if you don’t use it as a tool for improvement.  All the knowledge in the world won’t transform you into the fine ashlar for use in that spiritual temple unless you are actually polishing your rough edges.

So, is Freemasonry about acquiring useful knowledge to live a better life?  Yes.  However, in light of my most recent experience, I think Freemasonry could be more about preparing you to die.   The skull is no more sinister than the swastika if you look at its original symbolic purpose.  The skull is merely a reminder that you will die.  Shouldn’t we be privately using this more as just another daily Masonic symbol?  I know I will be.

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Also, a side note: Graphics on this page were created by me unless otherwise noted and are for my use only and may not be used or duplicated without permission from me. Please don’t steal my stuff without giving me credit in other words.

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The Level

20 September 2013 Leave a comment

The Level

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The level is a tool that is used by operative masons to prove a horizontal surface is flat, exact, and equal all the way across. However, for the Freemason, it can hold the meaning of equality.

A Mason is taught in the second, or Fellowcraft, degree that all men have the same opportunities for advancement in our lives as long as we work for it. Thus, the level dignifies labor and the man who performs it.

Inside and outside of a Masonic lodge, members are to conduct themselves as equal and “on the level” without regards to wealth, social distinction, civil office or service to mankind. A man is viewed and judged by his character and skill and how he applies himself, not his social class, job, family heritage or skin color.

Are you using it accordingly?

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One Brotherhood….Two Different Brothers

26 August 2013 1 comment

One Brotherhood....Two Different Brothers

I made this just for fun. Don’t take it too seriously.

2nd Annual Shriners International Personal Essay Contest

2nd Annual Shriners International Personal Essay Contest

ImageI recently received a phone call from that came up as “Tampa Florida” on my phone.  Because I did not recognize the number I almost ignored it thinking it was just some sort of solicitation.   Reluctantly I answered the phone to hear the lady congratulating me on being one of three winners in the 2nd annual Shriners International Personal Essay Contest.  This was still confusing to me because at first I did not recall entering said essay contest.  After a minute or so I recalled receiving an email back around October (2012) about it.  I was in the middle of writing a paper for the PA Academy of Masonic Knowledge so I just continued spilling my thoughts.  The entire essay wrote itself in just under an hour or so.  Having zero expectations I replied to the email and submitted my essay. 

Because I am unable to attend Imperial Session this summer the Jaffa Shrine Potentate will be accepting the award on my behalf.  I received in mail today a very nice plaque with my name on it, a pin, and a Gift card to Amazon.  They told me that a similar plaque would be given to the Jaffa Shrine as well to hang in the building.  All this is very cool. 

Why is this important?  Well, for one it is really cool and I am honored to have won.  Out of the entire Shriners International organization there were three winners. That’s cool!   I would love to know how many people entered, but so far I haven’t been able to find out.  With that said, I was asked by a lodge brother the other day, “Did you write this before or after you wrote your scathing opinion on the Shrine?”   For the record, it did write it before.  I actually wrote it before South Carolina suspended Shrine relations, and before the GL of Arkansas approved their decision to declare the Shrine Clandestine. 

What is important to understand as you read this is that I maintain neither one of these items (my blog on the Shrine  or this essay) contradict each other.  The essay, being my personal experience, explains what concepts originally brought me to Freemasonry and the Shrine.  It also explains how I PERSONALLY use the Shrine.  I took great strides to list the Masonic elements that are important to me and why others may not get the same element and Masonic connection out of the Shrine as I do.  In my review and opinion of the Shrine I explain exactly where the Shrine and Blue Lodges are dropping the ball and list several explanations for why I feel the way I feel.  No one has to agree with me.  As Bro. Brent Morris says, “I am the world most authority on my opinion.” 

Hopefully you all will enjoy my essay below, if not, thanks for reading anyway.  Please leave me any comments of thoughts.  If you liked what you read here…GREAT.  Be sure to follow me on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SquareOfVirtue

The essay follow:

 

 

Who Are These Guys?
2nd Annual Shriners International Personal Essay Contest

For many people, the first recollection or experience we have of the Shriners is most likely seeing them in a parade as a child.  After all, to many people, what parade would be complete without those guys in the tiny cars and funny red hats? 

In addition to parades, if you are fortunate enough to live in an area where they hold an annual circus, another one of your childhood memories, no doubt, would be that of attending the circus.  Many times these circuses are held in beautiful temple like structures adorned with mysterious symbols that seem almost cryptic to a child. As a kid, I remember asking myself, “Who are these guys?”

Sadly, for many people, outside of tiny cars, elephant rides, and great buildings, the intrigue of the Shriners does not move much further.  As a kid, I was no different.  I could recognize a Shriner by his fez and I looked forward to the circus, but other than that, I didn’t care.  I didn’t need to care. 

That all changed when I was in 10th grade.  Like any 16 year old, I did not think about things like health insurance or medical care.  I had never been faced with serious illness or had to witness hardship brought on by a hospital stay.  Up until this point in my life I had been healthy as a horse other than the occasional cold or broken bone.   It was this year that I first saw true hardship.  It was at this time that a girl who went to my school, whom I did not know, contracted spinal meningitis. 

At first I didn’t pay much attention to the teachers talking about it, or give much thought to how serious it was.  Then I remember the matter evolving into a very big deal.  Before too long there were fundraiser being held and communities donating assistance to this girl and her family.  Things seemed to keep going from bad to worse.  Within a few months she had lost several body parts from the illness.  All hope seemed lost and I remember on more than one occasion hearing about how they had to make another amputation.  I remember hearing on more than one occasion that she was probably going to die. 

 This was, for the first time in my life, that I started to learn who the Shriners were and what they did for the community.  I started to hear the word Shriner more and more, and it typically wasn’t accompanied by the phrases “funny red hat” or “elephant ride.” 

Although I am sure there is much more to this story that I have glossed over, all I knew was that there was a society of men who took this girl, who they did not know, transported her, continued to serve her, and saved her life. Not to mention, this was all done at no cost to her family.  I again remember asking myself, “Who are these guys?”

For the next few years I learned more and more about the Shriners and their mission.  I learned about burn units and pediatric research centers.  Suddenly these guys with the funny hats and tiny cars actually meant something to me.  I was captivated by an organization of men who brought so much joy to families and communities.

As I moved through high school I was fortunate enough to meet a few Shriners who told me about the process in becoming a Shriner.  These men led me to research Freemasonry where I gained a great amount of respect for not just one fraternity of men that were helping children, but a whole society of men with upright morals and rectitude of conduct.

I learned of a society of men who were all equal, on the level so to speak, despite what church they belonged to, where they worked, or how much they made.    I found a complete fraternity of men that used symbols like the plumb, level, and square to teach life morals of citizenship, acceptance, honor and virtue.

Suddenly I “knew who these guys were.”  I knew, without a doubt, that I wanted to someday be a part of this large and noble organization of men.  I could not wait to become of age and take upon myself the oaths and obligations which I continue live by every day of my life. 

As a Mason I learned about various tools and symbols that I can use to guide my actions in daily life.  As a Shriner I am given the opportunity to utilize these tools to spread the cement of brotherly love and affection not just to my fellow members of the Craft and the Shrine, but to hundreds of citizens in the communities around me. 

My journey from uninformed high school kid to Master Mason, to Shriner, and even to Master of my Blue Lodge has been an overwhelming and exciting experience.  The bonds of fraternal peace, brotherly love and respect for my fellow citizens have given me the pride and confidence that I am not sure I would have found else ware. 

The very principles taught in Freemasonry and implemented in the Shrine no longer have me asking “Who are these guys?” but rather, “Would you like to know a little bit about who we are?” 

The girl who I mentioned above is alive and well to this day.  For me, I not only view her as an inspiration to many, but also as a constant reminder of who the Shriners are and what their true purpose is.  Without her even realizing it, she sent me on a journey from darkness to light and made me a better husband, father, and friend, and man. 

I am forever grateful for her unintended gift to me.  I will always be honored to be a small part of this great fraternity.  Not to mention, I look forward to the day when my son looks up at me after seeing a big man wearing a funny hat in a tiny car and asks “Dad, who are these guys?”

 

 

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