The Rough Ashlar

Thoughts from a Traveling Man

The Rough Ashlar - Thoughts from a Traveling Man

Everything I needed to know for the CAE exam I learned by being a Freemason

Well, maybe not everything, but it gave me a good background for lots of topics and I credit some experience helping run my Masonic lodge with success on the test and with the CAE Kickoff class. I had already been part of financial audits, setting budgets, reviewing financial reports, and seen the necessity for transparency.

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I wrote this piece about how experiences as a Freemason helped me in my professional career. When you work in the membership-based organization business, a Masonic lodge can give you a different perspective on some things. In my case, it helped me earn a valuable professional credential.

Masonic Rings

Masonic Ring IMGP0003_1Many brothers are curious, especially when new, what kind of ring they should get, how fancy it should be, how much to spend, and more. First, I understand that many new brothers are full of fervency and zeal when it comes to being part of the fraternity and outwardly showing membership. However, before rushing off and buying a ring, think about the style you might like to have and whether you really want one at all. Some professions lend themselves to not wearing something like this. Mechanics, for example, could be at a disadvantage if they wear rings at work, and some lines of work prohibit the wearing of jewelry other than a wedding ring or simple necklace.
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Group portrait of Freemasons of Anglo-Saxon Lodge

I found this photo at The Library of Congress. I can’t quite figure out what ceremony all these costumes would be used for together. Any ideas? The Master Mason degree is the obvious answer but I see too many people for that. The other obvious choice would be the Royal Arch degree but that does not work either. Maybe they pulled out all the costumes they had and showed them all off. What do you think?

Anglo-Saxon Lodge

Cave Lodge from 1897

Cave Lodge
The Masonic Grand Lodge of Arizona meeting in the cave in the mine of the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Co. at Bisbee, Arizona, Nov. 12th 1897.

I found this photo on the Library of Congress site. Pretty cool. Some lodges in the western part of my state conduct periodic meetings on high hills or in low vales, and I have even heard of cave lodges. However, I have never actually been to any of these meetings. Looks pretty darned cool!

Freemasonry and Generativity

House of ROMANOV-tree-frFor those of you who studied psychology in college, you know about Erikson's stages of psychosocial development. I am in my 40s and know that I am in Erikson's seventh stage, being that of generativity vs. stagnation. I feel like I have a good sense of generativity – the sense that I am leaving something positive behind for others to build on. It's not that I am dying and reflecting on my life, just that I know I have worked to build something meaningful. Most people get this from seeing their children grow up but I do not have children. For me, that sense has come about partly through Freemasonry.

This is a quick path to seeing something grow and prosper. I have had the benefit of teaching the catechisms to brothers even just a few years ago who have since gone on to be officers or otherwise active members in their lodges. It gives me a sense of pride to see that our junior warden, for example, who learned the catechisms entirely mouth-to-ear from me, has already taught others the same material and gone on to learn other parts of the ritual that I do not know. I got to see him prosper with what I had to teach him and also see him take his own direction. That is pretty darned fulfilling.

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New Look, New Home

In case you did not notice, I just updated the site’s look and home. Someone recently asked me what ever happened to my Masonic blog so I poked around and saw that a surprising number of people were looking at it. So here I am, with a decent URL and a look I think is better.

Welcome back. Subscribe to the feed and let me know what you think.

Just got my Fez – Check it out!

Yes, this is me showing off about my new Fez and the photography work I do. I had everything set up in the studio and had the Fez there, so I figured why not photograph it?

The Shriners are a great part of my Masonic experience. I just learned tonight that a friend of mine was treated by Shriners Hospitals for Children. She was a young girl in Kazakhstan and had some problems. Somebody traveling through the area thought she could benefit from the free medical help our organization provides and brought her to the U.S. for a consultation. She and her mother lived here for a year while she had surgeries and treatment. They stayed in the Ronald McDonald House during their stay, so it was all at no expense.

To me that’s very moving. I don’t think anyone can convince me that there is a higher good than helping children through medical care or education. So yes, I was just fooling around in the studio when I made this photo, but what it means to me is being able to hold my head high when I don it, proud to be a part of such a fine institution that does such important and lifesaving work. To me, that means a lot.

Kena Shriners Fez IMGP7515 copy

Cherrydale Lodge Installation

Cherrydale Lodge CakeCherrydale Lodge just had its installation of officers and I was installed as the senior warden. One more year until master, if everything goes well. I am looking forward to this year and the challenges it presents, including preparing for next year. That means getting programs together for 20 meetings for next year, fine-tuning our promotion system for attracting members of other lodges, getting a program in place for public relations, which our lodge desperately needs, and a million other things. And I thought this year would be easy.

But back to the installation. It’s always a lot of fun to get the brethren together and see the officers, especially the new ones, dressed up in tuxedos and white gloves. In our society, even within Masonry, there is a movement to take the formality out of what we do and slide into a business casual way of dressing and conducting ourselves.

Let me come down now and say that I prefer the more formal way of dressing, at least for Masonic activities. For one thing, we have a good number of younger members, college-age guys, who can use the practice dressing up. I know it’s not rocket science but unless you went to a military academy, formal dress was probably never emphasized in your college experience.

In addition, I think the formal dress we usually have – suit and tie – adds to the solemnity and formality of the evening’s activities. We sometimes get the complaint that it’s hard for people in some lines of work to wear a suit. Personally, I don’t buy it. Our last master was a police officer and the one before him was a plumber. Both these men managed to put on a suit. Sometimes it was in their vehicles or in the lodge bathroom, but they always managed it. We had a member who died a few years ago whose life’s work had been in the world of trains. I have heard stories of him getting off work looking like he rolled in coal dust but somehow getting it together enough to look good for the meetings.

Dressing up can go a bit haywire though. Alexandria-Washington Lodge #22 has its officers dress in tuxedos for each meeting because they have certain strong traditions they want to keep in place and want to attract certain types of members. I was talking to one of their officers about this one day and mentioned that I would not be attracted to that type of lodge partly because of the dress required. Of course, I may not be their target member. That’s a self-correcting issue, I suppose.

At any rate, we have another year of officers installed and ready to go for our first stated communication on January 7. come on down and join us!

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