The Rough Ashlar

Thoughts from a Traveling Man

The Rough Ashlar - Thoughts from a Traveling Man

My Mother Lodge is a Pokestop

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I don’t really understand the Pokemon Go craze but I think it is pretty cool all the same. I think having our lodge as a Pokestop is going to raise visibility. Maybe not membership but that is secondary. One step at a time.

In other news, I have collected a number of these little critters and don’t know what to do now.

A Majestic Temple

I never get over how beautiful this temple is. I love it.

wpid-IMAG0489.jpgThis is the view looking east down King Street in Alexandria. That pale strip of foliage is in Maryland. As a Virginia resident I am practically forbidden from ever going there, even if I wanted to. You can see this view and many more if you come to the George Washington Masonic Memorial. Let me know when you are making your visit and I will be neighborly and meet you of happy hour or lunch.

Title Hunters, or an Argument to Drop Fancy Masonic Titles

I sometimes hear negative talk about “title hunters” – those members who seem to want to collect all the fancy titles they can. They volunteer and ask for leadership roles and seem to want to be the head of everything for some time. You have met them. You know who I am talking about.

Personally, I have no problem with title hunters. As long as they are doing the work to earn the title, who cares what their motivations are? If they can work for their own egos and support the lodge or whatever body they are head of, and make it a better organization, their mercenary motives are not really that interesting to me.

However, I think we need to get back to all being brothers, rather than seeing the gradations of titles as class separators. Some of the newer brothers do not feel like they belong on the same row of seats as the seasoned old-timers who hold more titles than Carter had liver pills. And, to be honest, I have known some old-timers with lots of titles who mostly seemed interested in associating with their similarly titled colleagues, rather than with the rabble and riffraff. This isn’t how titles are supposed to work. The are supposed to reward a job well done, not be a barrier to social interaction. None of us is a higher rank than Master Mason; we should not create divisions where there are none.

Do we even need all these fancy titles? Those of us who can’t help but swallow the hook and be part of yet another organization tend to accumulate titles left and right, but really we are no higher than the title of Brother. Let’s get rid of the fancy titles, huh? We meet on the level, right? Shouldn’t we dispense with all the formalities and ego-boosting trappings?

I know what some of you are saying. “I worked too hard for my title! Why would I give it up?”

You have to ask yourself something. For whom did you work? Was it for yourself, for your ego, or for your brothers and the lodge? If you perform selfless work, being rewarded is not much of an issue. If you perform work to stoke your ego, maybe not keeping the fancy title is a good lesson.

When I was Master…

The 2015 Masonic Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario held at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel on Front Street Toronto…The Password of a Past Master

I have noticed that as soon as men get out of the East, all of a sudden they become experts on running an organization and on riutal, when in fact just the previous year they struggled with these things, as well as with cantankerous past masters who wanted to show their expertise. Continue reading

Adieu, Fancy Apron, or How Not to Treat Volunteers

DIW ApronI was presented with this apron about five years ago or so, when I became the District Instructor of Work. Today I gave it back. I enjoyed teaching the ritual and helping people figure out how to be better officers and members, but there seemed to be an ambient level of tomfoolery that came with the position. What pushed me over the edge on the decision to quit was the philosophy of those who managed the position. Continue reading

KYCH – A Huge Honor

kychI had the honor to be initiated into the Knights of York Cross of Honor (KYCH) this weekend. The KYCH is an honorary invitational body whose requirements include having served as the presiding officer of all four York Rite bodies. If you ever see the long-time Masons in your lodge with a four-colored cord with a crown suspended on it, that is the same group.

The strange thing about Virginia, where I am a  lodge member, is that we do not have a Cryptic Council. Neither does West Virginia. Back in the early part of the 19th century, the Grand Cryptic Council of Virginia closed up shop and merged with the Grand Royal Arch Chapter. As such, we confer the Council degrees in the Chapter in our two states. So technically, as the high priest of my chapter, I also served as the illustrious master of a council.

All the same, if you read my bio, you will see that I am in line at a Cryptic Council, so although I have already received the distinction of this order, I do mean to earn the final part of this.

Ritual is not a Competition

I am in a tough spot. As the district instructor of work, I am supposed to teach the ritual, help lodges become self-sufficient, encourage brothers to learn the catechisms and the regular work, and more. I like doing all this. It gives me a sense of generativity, that I am passing something on to others who perhaps would not have had it otherwise, and hopefully making a positive difference in the fraternity.

The downside to all this is the ritual schools I have to attend, which I do not particularly enjoy. Continue reading

Back in the East; Learning to say, “No”

People congratulated me last night after I was installed as worshipful master at Columbia Lodge No. 285. As much as I look forward to a great year and as honored as I feel about this, I have to wonder if I really simply do not learn well. I was at the Grand Encampment leadership development meeting a few months ago and our speaker/instructor said that the true lost word of a Master Mason was, “No.”

I think he was right. Many of us have a hard time saying no to things we believe in, whether a particular lodge or a charity, or helping a neighbor. As important as it is to say so sometimes, I also think it is important to say yes. By giving of ourselves, we reap great rewards, even if it does not always feel like it at the time. This is my third go-around as master of a lodge and I look forward to the challenge, but I also can see the road ahead and the end of commitments I have already made for various leadership positions. It is a great situation to be in.

Annual Dues Bill for Life Membership

It may seem strange to send an annual bill to someone who is a life member, but I get one each year from the Scottish Rite. Note the blank spots for me to add my own donation to a few funds they have. That is the value of sending seemingly redundant dues notices.

Will I make a contribution? Perhaps. Maybe not. But I am a whole lot more likely to than if I got nothing but a new dues card each fall. I wonder how many opportunities my local lodge is missing by not doing this.

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