The Rough Ashlar

Thoughts from a Traveling Man

The Rough Ashlar - Thoughts from a Traveling Man

The Masonic Order of Athelstan

athelstan250At the Masonic Week activities in Reston, VA last week I had the opportunity to join The Duke of Cumberland Court No. 101 of The Masonic Order of Athelstan. The Masonic Order of Athelstan is a relatively new order, founded in England in 2005, and is open to Masons who have attained the Royal Arch degree. A new candidate does not go through a degree, but receives instruction, using various symbols as tools to promote further thought and research.

The order is still new to me, as you might imagine, but I am excited to learn more. The teachings of the instruction are not new. If you are a Mason already, or even just a moral person, you know these teachings as being universal, as all the Masonic teachings are. However, the Order of Athelstan brings a different feel during the instruction, and a different take on what it means to be a good man and true.

This is an invitational body. I was able to join because a new Court was being formed in Winchester, VA and they were taking letters of interest from guys who would want to constitute the Court. If you find yourself in that situation, I recommend investigating joining this group. Anything that brings more light is worth doing, in my book.

Lodges and Temples: What’s the Difference?

Masonic TempleSomething I was curious about early on in my Masonic life was the difference between a lodge and a temple. This is explained in the Entered Apprentice lecture, I learned later, but the night you are initiated it is easy to miss the fine points of all this. It is also introduced quickly and subtly, so I wonder how many others also miss this distinction early on.

I remember the night I was raised, listening to the minutes of the meeting, and noting that the secretary referred to Cherrydale Lodge meeting in its temple. I had no idea that there was a difference between the two. You go to lodge, right? You go to temple, right? Aren’t they the same? Of course, the answer is no. They are not at all the same.
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Brewing and Freemasonry

I was recently invited to give a talk at Freedom Lodge No. 118 in Lovettsville, Virginia and then at my mother lodge about brewing and Freemasonry. Freedom Lodge was a fun lodge to visit and afterward we went to a new brew pub a few doors down.

Here is the text of my presentation. Anyone who wants to use this presentation is welcome to. Just let folks know where it came from.

Brewing is truly alchemy. This is as good as the mystery of how to turn lead into gold. The way brewing works is really quite simple. Beer consists of four basic ingredients:

  • Water
  • Malted barley (or malt extract)
  • Hops
  • Yeast

The process of making beer is simple:
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EA Degree – Better the Second Time Around

Just last Friday, I conferred the Entered Apprentice degree on three worthy candidates. This was my second time getting to do this and I am really enjoying it. I would be telling a lie if I claimed to have gotten all the words right but at least I know where I messed up. If you have never committed a long string of words to memory before, I can tell you with all certainty that it is a difficult thing to do.

Actually, committing them to memory is not even the hard part. The hard part is speaking them and trying to get them exactly right in front of an audience. I can recite the words and get them just right when practicing in the shower or in the car to and from work, but it’s a different thing to get them just right in front of people – past masters, past district deputy grand masters, new brethren you want to set a good example for – and feel comfortable doing it.

Our treasurer, also a PDDGM, asked me how I thought it went at the end of the evening. “Better than last time,” I said. “Well, progress is a good sign,” he answered. “That’s what you want.”

The elder members of the lodge (elder in terms of experience and time in the fraternity) have been extremely supportive and have given me the encouragement I have needed to feel more comfortable delivering these speeches. I am now working on learning the FC and MM obligations and really appreciate this support.

Masonic Leadership Correspondence Course – Done!

Masonic Leadership Program

The Grand Lodge of Virginia has a Masonic correspondence course for brethren in Virginia who are interested in learning the laws of Masonry in the Commonwealth. This is a three-part course that looks a bit at the ritual and common knowledge of Freemasonry but really focuses on the written laws.

The written laws are of great importance to the Craft, and as you might imagine, dictate how Masonry works. What is or is not allowed? Who does what in the Lodge? Knowing the laws is important. It gives you the power to challenge people, and even more important, the knowledge of when you should challenge them.

Have you ever been in a situation when someone said you couldn’t do something because it’s against the rules? Have you ever thought somebody was making up the rules as he or she went along? The nice thing about Virginia Masonry is that the laws are all written out, allowing all of us to read them and learn the final word on an issue.

The most important part of this course is not learning the rules and laws themselves but learning how to read and navigate the law books.

This is all to say that I finally completed the third and final course and mailed off my answer sheets a couple days ago. It feels good to have done this, as it was a bit of a challenge to sit with the books, knowing the answer is somewhere within them and still unable to find it. I am glad to be done with it and am looking forward to getting the certificate to hang on my wall but now wonder what’s next for me in my Masonic education.

What are you doing to expand yourself within your lodge?

District Leadership Conference

I went to a district leadership conference on Saturday sponsored by the Grand Lodge. It was a good time. The line officers met with their corresponding Grand Lodge officers, so as a junior warden, I met with the grand senior warden, who will be the grand master the year I am master of my lodge, if everything goes as planned. It was a good time and I came away with some really good ideas about how to get the brethren more interested in returning to the lodge.

Of course, the Grand Lodge didn’t just set up the training, but they bribed us to come. For one thing, the only way to get MW Hodges’ pin is to shake his hand. So if you want a pin, you have to go wherever he is and be good enough to introduce yourself. Also, they were giving out this commemorative coin to the brethren who attended. (The grand master’s pin looks like the obverse on the coin below.)

Discovering Our Potential IMGP4458 copy
and back:
Discovering Our Potential IMGP4460 copy

Yes, I called it a bribe. I have to admit that it seems to work. Even those of us who would go to these events regardless still love to collect the pins and coins and such!

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