Thursday, December 3, 2009

From Steward to Senior Deacon

We had Blue Lodge officer elections and installation tonight. I was appointed Senior Deacon for 2010. This is a great honor and privilege. I'm looking forward to the duties this office entails.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lost copy of Francken manuscript found

The oldest extant rituals of the Lodge of Perfection are contained in the Francken manuscript. Up until now there were only three known surviving copies. A fourth copy in the possession of the District Grand Library at Lahor, Pakistan had been reported. Apparently that copy has now been found. You can read about it here.

This is a find of tremendous importance for Scottish Rite Freemasonry. In the realm of biblical scholarship it would be like finding a second copy Codex Sinaiticus.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Ring of the Perfect Elu

The Valley of Spartanburg had its annual Feast of Tishri banquet last night. And while some valleys across the Rite no longer do the Ring Ceremony, this is a tradition that my valley continues. It followed the sumptuous roast leg of lamb dinner.

For this year's ceremony I was asked to give a lecture on the meaning of the 14th Degree ring. Here is the text of that lecture:

The ring of the Perfect Elu, which is awarded to every Scottish Rite Freemason who attains the 14th Degree, is one of the oldest Masonic accoutrements. In the earliest existing 14th Degree ritual of the Rite of Perfection, found in the Francken Manuscript of 1783, the ring is described as a plain band of gold with this inscription: Virtus junxit, mors non separabit. This is Latin for “What virtue has united, death cannot separate.” At some point in the late 19th century, the Supreme Council for the Northern Jurisdiction altered the ring to add the equilateral triangle with the Hebrew letter “Yod” in the middle, and the Southern Jurisdiction later adopted this design as well, and it is the ring used today.

Like most things in Freemasonry, the ring is a symbol, and in the wearing it should bring to mind many aspects of what you have learned and will learn as a Scottish Rite Mason. The ring is a circle, and a circle is a symbol of completion. That it is awarded with the final degree of the Lodge of Perfection is appropriate since the word “perfection” as used does not denote being “perfect” in the sense of being “flawless,” but rather in the antiquated use of the word meaning “complete.” (It is in this same sense that the word “perfect” is used in the preamble to the Constitution of the United States: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union...” meaning, of course, to form a more complete union.)

The Lodge of Perfection completes the journey of Symbolic Masonry you began with the first three degrees. The ring symbolizes that completion and is an ever present reminder of your Masonic journey. The equilateral triangle is emblematic of the three essential attributes of the Great Architect of the Universe: omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience. The Hebrew letter “Yod” in the center of the triangle is the first letter of the ineffable Name of God and should serve to remind you of what was lost in the Third Degree and is found in the Degrees of Perfection. In so doing, the ring reminds you that as a Freemason you are identified with and should demonstrate continued dedication to that highest and most universal human aspiration: reverence for and service to God.

As you progressed from the Symbolic Masonry of the Lodge of Perfection into the chivalric degrees, you learned that purity of Honor, integrity of the Sword, and spotlessness of the Shield were the three highest ideals of our Ancient Brethren. “Honor that never broke faith with anyone” was supreme and preserved despite danger or personal loss. “Integrity of the Sword in never failing to draw it in defense of innocent and right” was a duty embraced with fervor and acted upon with courage. “The Shield never to be sullied by protecting oppression and wrong” was the symbol of each brother's dedication to the knighthood. When the ancient knight passed to his eternal home he bequeathed his Honor, his Sword, and his Shield to another, one near and dear, one he knew would carry on his quest unblemished and victorious.

The Scottish Rite ring also symbolizes these ancient emblems of Honor, Sword, and Shield. And just as with our Ancient Brethren, on its owner's death the ring should be given with dignity and pride to another Scottish Rite Mason so that he may carry on the Masonic Honor, Sword, and Shield of the fallen Brother.

As to the wearing of the ring, there is no prescribed method. It may be worn on any finger, with the triangle pointed either away from or toward the wearer. The position is irrelevant so long as the ring is worn with honor in keeping with the deep symbolic meaning inherent in it.

As you receive your ring and ponder the mysteries of its symbolism, let me leave you with these words of Albert Pike from his chapter on the 14th Degree in Morals and Dogma:

To make honor and duty the steady beacon-lights that shall guide your life-vessel over the stormy seas of time; to do that which it is right to do, not because it will ensure you success, or bring with it a reward, or gain the applause of men, or be “the best policy,” more prudent or more advisable; but because it is right, and therefore ought to be done; to war incessantly against error, intolerance, ignorance, and vice, and yet to pity those who err, to be tolerant even of intolerance, to teach the ignorant, and to labor to reclaim the vicious—these are some of the duties of a Mason.

As you wear your Scottish Rite Ring, I hope you will remember that it is not merely a piece of jewelry, but a symbol of the bond you have to a great fraternity and the pledge you have made to fulfill your duties as a Mason.

The Scottish Rite responds to the Lost Symbol

The Supreme Council for the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, has created a web page in response to the interest in Freemasonry created by Dan Brown's latest novel, The Lost Symbol. You can view the page by clicking here.

Rumor: At the Feast of Tishri held last night by my local Scottish Rite valley, a brother told me that he'd heard that Dan Brown is planning to petition for membership in the Masons.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My thoughts on The Lost Symbol

I finished reading Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol last night. It took me longer to get through than I anticipated for two reasons: 1) This book is not a "page turner," and 2) I've been very busy over the last two weeks.

Since the book was released on September 15 I have purposely not read any reviews or blog posts about it, whether by Masons or non-Masons. I did not want the impressions of others to prejudice my own reading of the novel. So, untainted by the commentary of others, here are my impressions of The Lost Symbol after a first reading:

First, just from a plot standpoint, the storyline is very slow to develop and it never really takes off as in The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. Dan Brown seems to have a set formula for his Langdon novels, and he has repeated it here: A bizarre and deluded "bad guy," a female victim, a "secret" that has world-wide implications if reveled, and Robert Langdon as the hero/protagonist.

Of course, my main interest in this book was how Freemasonry would be presented and how the book would affect the fraternity. I am happy to report that Brown portrays Masonry in a positive light and nothing about the storyline is disparaging in any way to Masons or Masonry. That being said, however, I was disappointed in the lack of depth in how Masonry is portrayed in the novel. Whether it was intentional on Brown's part, or reflects superficial research, is open for debate. What is troubling are the flat out inaccuracies regarding Masonry in general, and the Scottish Rite in particular. These are errors that even a modicum of research would reveal. For example, no Mason ever attains the 32nd degree in his local lodge. The 32nd degree is part of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry and is conferred by the Consistory of the Royal Secret, the body within the various local Scottish Rite valleys that governs the 31st and 32nd degrees in the Southern Jurisdiction, or the 19th through the 32nd degrees in the Northern Jurisdiction. The highest degree conferred in any local (or "Blue") lodge is Master Mason, the Third Degree.

The Scottish Rite as portrayed in Brown's novel is clearly the Southern Jurisdiction, the headquarters of which is at the House of Temple in Washington, D.C. At the beginning of the story Brown depicts the villain, a 32nd degree Mason, being invested with the 33rd degree. In the Southern Jurisdiction no one can proceed directly from the 32nd degree to the 33rd. You must first be inducted into the order of the Knight Commanders of the Court of Honor (K.C.C.H.), and then you may at a later time (after a prescribed period) be invited to join the ranks of the 33rd degree. It's also important to note that unless you are one of the 33 active members of the Supreme Council, the 33rd degree is strictly an honorary degree. Brown never states it explicitly, but the depiction he gives of the induction of the villain into the 33rd degree within the Temple Room of the House of the Temple would seem to imply the man is being inducted into the Supreme Council. And regarding the Supreme Council, Brown once again shows a lack of basic research when he refers to the leader as the "Worshipful Master" of the House of the Temple. A "Worshipful Master" is the head of a local lodge. The head of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite is the Sovereign Grand Commander.

Brown depicts the ring worn by 33rd degree Masons as a highly stylized one with a double-headed "phoenix" and a triangle with the number "33" in the middle. Again, some basic research would reveal that the 33rd degree ring is actually a triple band of gold with nothing more on it than a triangle with the number "33" inside the triangle. Also, one of the symbols of the Scottish Rite is a double-headed eagle, not a phoenix as Brown describes it.

The use of Masonry in this story is superficial at best. I can think of numerous ways Brown could have made this novel more appealing to Masons and more intriguing for non-Masons. The history of the United States has a rich Masonic tradition that is barely touched on in The Lost Symbol. Freemasonry and the Scottish Rite have a diverse philosophical and esoteric nature that Brown could have more fully utilized in the storyline. And I'm not talking about Masonic "secrets," but rather clear and open teachings of the fraternity that are out there for anyone to read. (If only Brown had visited the bookstore at the House of the Temple and spent a few hundred dollars his story could have been the better for it.)

To sum up, I have to say I was disappointed in The Lost Symbol. There was so much promise and potential given Dan Brown's story telling abilities, but this time he just doesn't deliver the goods.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Reading The Lost Symbol

I just picked up a copy of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol. It will probably take me 2 or 3 days to get through it, and then I'll be posting my thoughts.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Only Response a Mason Could Make

Back in July I posted my commentary on the fiasco Gate City Lodge No. 2 was embroiled in over their raising of a black man to the sublime degree of Master Mason. My article was entitled "The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things," and I invite you to read it now if you have not done so.

As the months have passed since this controversy in Georgia Masonry has subsided, the implications have continued to reverberate in back-channel discussions and open proclamations in lodges and Grand Lodges across the country. The dropping of the ridiculous charges against Gate City and its officers was an encouraging sign, but I like countless other Masons have awaited some overt gesture from the Grand Master of Masons in Georgia "setting the record straight" on the issue of race and membership in the ancient fraternity of Freemasonry. Now, the wait is over and the Grand Master has spoken. In an edict issued August 19, 2009, Most Worshipful Brother J. Edward Jennings, Jr., Grand Master of Masons in Georgia, stated the following:

The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the State of Georgia

August 19,2009
EDICT No. 2009-1

WHEREAS: Freemasonry has existed in Georgia since it founding in 1734 and is the oldest Fraternal organization in the State, and;

WHEREAS: Freemasonry is universal in scope, being a Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God, and;

WHEREAS: the Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free & Accepted Masons, holds membership in this worldwide Brotherhood, and;

WHEREAS: our Ancient and Honorable Fraternity welcomes to its doors and offers its privileges to men of all races, colors and national origins who believe in a Supreme Being, as stated in our Degrees and Lectures, and;

WHEREAS: no reference is made to exclude any petitioner with regard to race, color or national origin in any of the Rituals or Masonic Code authorized for use in the Constituent Lodges chartered by the Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free and Accepted Masons, and;

WHEREAS: it is incumbent on all members of our Brotherhood to abide by the Rules, Regulations, Laws and Edicts of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free and Accepted Masons;

That no negative reference be made by any officer or member of any Lodge chartered under the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free and Accepted Masons, in reference to a petitioner's race, color or national origin, who believe in a Supreme Being, during any Lodge Communication, conferral of degrees, proficiency practice or proficiency examination;

Further, be it resolved, that it is the responsibility of the Worshipful Master of each Lodge constituted under the Constitution of he Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free and Accepted Masons, to insure and enforce strict compliance with this EDICT, and, further, to have it read at the next two communications of the Lodge after receipt by the Lodge.

Any Lodge reported in violation of this Edict will be disciplined.

Given under my hand as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free and Accepted Masons, this 19th day of August, 2009.

J. Edward Jennings, Jr.
Grand Master

Donald I. DeKalb
Grand Secretary
Some will complain that this edict is insufficient because it does not specifically address the Gate City situation and redress the wrongs done to that lodge. I would argue that a public edict of the Grand Master would not be the proper venue for that. This edict addresses the very issue that precipitated the Gate City controversy, and it does so in clear and unambiguous terminology. I commend the Grand Master of Georgia for issuing the only public response any true Mason could give on the issue of race and membership in Masonry: that when it comes to the color of a man's skin, the lodge, its members, and officers are to be colorblind, and no man should ever be judged unworthy of membership based on his race.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tidbits from Morals and Dogma - #1

I am a year into my Masonic journey, and I have finally started working my way through Albert Pike's Morals and Dogma in earnest. I think even the most seasoned Masonic scholar will admit this is far from an easy read. Every page--indeed, almost every paragraph--practically demands thoughtful reflection to digest the genius that is Pike's view of Freemasonry.

As I progress through this tome of Pike's, I will be posting from time to time small excerpts--what I'm calling "tidbits"--which I think are of particular interest to modern Masons seeking to gain a deeper understanding of the fraternity to which they belong. The first tidbit is from the chapter on the Second Degree of Masonry, that of Fellowcraft:
Knowledge is convertible into power, and axioms into rules of unity and duty. But knowledge itself is not Power. Wisdom is Power; and her Prime Minister is Justice, which is the perfected law of Truth. The purpose, therefore, of Education and Science is to make a man wise. If knowledge does not make him so, it is wasted, like water poured on the sands. To know the formulas of Masonry, is of as little value, by itself, as to know so many words and sentences in some barbarous African or Australasian dialect. To know even the meaning of the symbols, is but little, unless that adds to our wisdom, and also to our charity, which is to justice like one hemisphere of the brain to the other.

Do not lose sight, then, of the true object of your studies in Masonry. It is to add to your estate of wisdom, and not merely to your knowledge. A man may spend a lifetime in studying a single specialty of knowledge,--botany, conchology, or entomology, for instance,--in committing to memory names derived from the Greek, and classifying and reclassifying; and yet be no wiser than when he began. It is the great truths as to all that most concerns a man, as to his rights, interest, and duties, that Masonry seeks to teach her Initiates.

And what of these "great truths" that Masonry seeks to teach its members?
Truths are the springs from which duties flow; and it is but a few hundred years since a new Truth began to be distinctly seen; that MAN IS SUPREME OVER INSTITUTIONS, AND NOT THEY OVER HIM. Man has natural empire over all institutions. They are for him, according to his development; not he for them. This seems to us a very simple statement, one to which all men, everywhere, ought to assent. But once it was a great new Truth,--not revealed until governments ahad been in existence for at least five thousand years. Once revealed, it imposed new duties on men. Man owed it to himself to be free. He owed it to his country to seek or give her freedom, or maintain her in that possession. It made Tyranny and Usurpation the enemies of the Human Race. it created a general outlawry of Despots and Despotisms, temporal and spiritual. The sphere of Duty was immensely enlarged. Patriotism had, henceforth, a new and wider meaning: Free Government, Free Thought, Free Conscience, Free Speech! All these came to be inalienable rights, which those who had parted with them or been robbed of them, or whose ancestors had lost them, had the right summarily to retake.

And how does Masonry, by adding to the "estate of wisdom" of its members, ensure that these great Truths are not lost?

The wiser a man becomes, the less will he be inclined to submit tamely to the imposition of fetters or a yoke, on his conscience or his person. For, by increase of wisdom he not only better knows his rights, but the more highly values them, and is more conscious of his worth and dignity. His pride then urges him to assert his independence. He becomes better able to assert it also; and better able to assist others or his country, when they or she stake all, even existence, upon the same assertion.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The boy who wanted to be an astronaut.

The Palmetto Bug has posted over on his blog about the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and how one of the astronauts, Buzz Aldrin, was a Freemason. I've added a bit to that discussion by pointing out that Aldrin was actually deputized by the Grand Lodge of Texas with the charge to claim Masonic jurisdiction of the moon for the Texas Grand Lodge.

Bug's post has reminded me of the excitement I felt 40 years ago as a 10-year-old boy following the news updates of Apollo 11's voyage to the moon. And then the fateful day of the landing arrived and we were all glued to the TV listening to Walter Cronkite's commentary as we watched Armstrong descend the LEM ladder and set foot on the surface of the moon.

Much of my childhood was spent in and around the area of Cape Canaveral, Florida. My father worked for a NASA contractor from the early 60s until 1968, so I got to visit the space center often and even spent time with several of the Original Seven astronauts.

Here is a photo of me taken at the Cape when I was about 7 or 8. That is the Saturn V (the Apollo launch vehicle) on its launch pad in the background. I'm not sure which Apollo this one would have been, but it would have to have been one of the early (pre-moon shot) ones.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Masonic Art of Peter Waddell

It's becoming clear from the clues being pumped out on the Twitter page of Dan Brown's publisher that the plot of The Lost Symbol is going to involve the supposed Masonic layout of Washington, D.C. Whether or not the design of the capital was influenced by Masonic symbolism has long been debated inside and outside the fraternity. Well-respected Masons come down on both sides of the issue. Ill. Bro. Akram Elias, 33rd, the Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of D.C. believes the layout of the city intentionally includes Masonic symbolism. Ill. Bro. Brent Morris, 33rd, the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry, disagrees.

Peter Waddell is a modern artist who gave an exhibition of his Masonic paintings in 2005 entitled The Initiated Eye: Secrets, Symbols, Freemasonry and the Architecture of Washington, DC. His artwork is really quite striking, and given the title of this exhibition it's easy to see where he stands on the question of whether or not Washington, D.C. is filled with Masonic symbolism. Whatever you believe, Waddell's paintings from this exhibit are worth reflecting on, for they are themselves, without doubt, loaded with Masonic symbolism.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The A.A.S.R and The Lost Symbol

The cover art for the hardcover jacket of the new Dan Brown novel The Lost Symbol has been revealed. Dan Brown stated years ago that his next novel would deal with the subject of Freemasonry, so it should come as no surprise that there is a Masonic-like symbol on the cover of the book.

It is being reported that the wax seal on the jacket cover is actually the seal of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States. I assure you, this is not the case. Here is the wax seal on the book jacket enlarged and enhanced to reveal some of the detail:

Here are the official seals of the Scottish rite for the Southern Jurisdiction, the headquarters of which is at the House of the Temple in Washington, D.C.

As you can see, with the exception of the double-headed eagle (an emblem that has been associated with the Scottish Rite from its beginning), the wax seal on the cover of Dan Brown's novel bears little resemblance to either of the official seals of the Scottish Rite for the Southern Jurisdiction. It actually more closely resembles the seal of the Scottish Rite for the Northern Jurisdiction, but it is not identical. However, the Latin inscription at the base of the seal leaves little doubt regarding the connection to the Scottish Rite:

The Latin Ordo ab Chao ("Order out of Chaos") is the de facto motto of the Scottish Rite and has been associated with the Rite since the formation of the Supreme Council of the 33rd Degree in 1801. This motto appears boldly on the patent for the 33rd Degree that was issued to Frederick Dalcho by John Mitchel in 1801 and is the given subtitle of the Supreme Council's first pronouncement to the Masonic world, the Circular Throughout the Two Hemispheres of 1802.

The color of the seal (as well as the color of the D.C. skyline) on the book may also be emblematic of the Scottish Rite. The Freemasonry of Europe (in particular, France, as opposed to England) is often referred to as "Red Masonry." The roots of the Scottish Rite are in continental Masonry (which supposedly originated in Scotland) and not in the Masonry of England.

Given all this, I think it seems clear from the book jacket that the Scottish Rite will figure heavily into the plot of The Lost Symbol. It will be interesting to see how. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The heart is deceitful above all things.

The prophet Jeremiah tells us "the heart is deceitful above all things." This post is not going to be an exegetical essay on the meaning or interpretation of that passage from the Old Testament. But taking the words on their face, this sage proposition appears to be especially a propos in light of the recent unpleasantries surrounding Brother Victor Marshall and his membership in Gate City Lodge No. 2 in Atlanta, GA.

Regular readers of Masonic blogs and web sites are no doubt already aware of the controversy surrounding Gate City Lodge No. 2. But for those who aren't, here's a brief synopsis: Brother Marshall is African-American. His admission to membership in Gate City Lodge No. 2 largely went unnoticed (he is, in fact, the second African-American to be raised a Master Mason in that lodge) until he began to do what Masons routinely do all over the country: visit other Masonic lodges. When Brother Marshall visited a lodge in Savannah, that's when the proverbial excrement hit the wind generating device. Complaints were made to the Grand Lodge of Georgia and the Grand Master of Masons in Georgia finally issued a statement saying that Brother Marshall had been duly raised a Master Mason in a legally constituted lodge and he was, therefore, a Brother Mason and should be received as such by other Masons. End of story, right? One would think so, but then the Worshipful Masters of two neighboring lodges, Metro Daylight Lodge No. 743 in Chamblee, and Philologia Lodge No. 178 in Conyers, filed formal charges against the Worshipful Master of Gate City Lodge No. 2. I won't bore you with the details of the allegations in these charges because they all boil down to a single proposition: To allow a non-white man membership in a Masonic lodge in Georgia is a violation of Masonic Law.

One would assume that based on his previous statement (that Brother Marshall was a Mason and should be received as such), the Grand Master of Georgia would not allow these ridiculous charges to stand. But he did, and a trial date was set. Gate City Lodge No. 2 then upped the ante by involving the secular courts when they filed a civil lawsuit against the Grand Lodge and the Brothers that had proffered the charges against them. The wisdom of this move is certainly questionable, but it did ensure one thing: the mainstream media would sooner or later take notice. And they did. The Associated Press was the first to report on it, soon followed by The New York Times. And now the The Guardian in the U.K. is reporting on it. Earlier this week it was reported that the Masonic charges against Gate City Lodge No. 2 have been dropped, but the civil lawsuit still stands.

As these events have unfolded I have resisted the urge to make known my thoughts on this blog. I wanted to see how all this played out, not only in the Masonic courts, but in the civil courts. I am glad to see that the Masonic charges have been dropped. I would hope they were dropped for the right reasons, namely, the Brothers who proffered the charges against the Worshipful Master of Gate City Lodge No. 2 came to their senses and realized that their premise and the charges they laid against a fellow Mason were predicated on a falsehood. I hope they realized that the ancient fraternity to which they swore solemn oaths and obligations, if it lives by the ideals it seeks to inculcate, judges no man by the color of his skin, but only by his character as evidenced by his words and deeds. Perhaps they came to understand that despite the deceit in their own hearts, there is no written or unwritten law in Masonry that says a black man cannot be a Mason.

Any Mason in the United States who was raised according to the Webb Form rituals (which is what is used in virtually ever Masonic jurisdiction in the U.S.) is taught that the first place a man is prepared to be a Mason is in his own heart. As I have pondered that foundational principle of Masonry I have come to the conclusion that's the reason Freemasonry does not recruit members--why Masons are forbidden from ever directly asking anyone to join their ranks. A man who is prepared in his own heart to be a Mason already has, albeit in a nascent form, the principles of Freemasonry burning within him. As such, he will--if given the opportunity--seek membership on his own, and once admitted to the fraternity, begin a life-long quest to improve and build upon the preexisting moral foundation that led him to the door of the Lodge in the first place.

But, alas, the heart is deceitful above all things. It can hoodwink a man into believing he is better than he is, that his aim is true and his motives pure, that the passions he holds dear are righteous. No man who seeks admittance into Freemasonry is perfect. But it is up to every man who becomes a Freemason to subdue the deceits in his own heart and improve himself by and through the sacred tenets of the fraternity to which he has sworn allegiance. For when the reverse becomes the norm, when the sacred tenets of Masonry are subdued and transmogrified to conform to the deceits of the hearts of imperfect men, Freemasonry is on a low road to irrelevance and extinction. Let us pray that the dropping of the Masonic charges in the Gate City No. 2 case is evidence that Masons in Georgia have chosen the high road.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Remembering Charlie

When I joined the Scottish Rite in the fall of 2008, I posted about my experience at the Greenville Fall Reunion. I want to quote from that post regarding the Brother who welcomed me in the parking lot of the Scottish Rite center early that Saturday morning before sunrise:

What a day. Up at 3:30 am. Coffee and the paper. Shave and shower. Get ready and leave for Greenville by 6:00 am in order to be at the Scottish Rite Center by 7:00 am. I got there about 6:50 am and it was still pitch dark. No cars in the huge parking lot, so I just stood there in the dark. About 7:00 a Lincoln Town Car pulls into the lot and parks right beside me. An older Brother gets out wearing the white hat of a 33d Mason. He greets me and I shake his hand and introduce myself.

"Where is everybody?" I asked.

"C'mon," he replied, "we gotta go in around back."

Now keep in mind this is a large parking lot and I'd parked toward the front of the center. We start a rather long walk down the hill to the back of the center and as we round the corner I see several cars in the back. I was immediately struck by how kind and gracious this elder Brother had been to me. He could have just pulled up, rolled his window down, and said "You need to park around back." But he didn't. He saw me standing there "stranded" and parked beside me in order to walk me to the back where everyone was--and him probably at least 25 years my senior. What a memorable way to start me off in the Scottish Rite.
That Brother's name was Charles "Charlie" Saylors. I learned yesterday that Brother Saylors passed away on Sunday. I regret not getting to know him better, but I have fond memories of him giving impromptu lectures at the most inopportune times (as far as the Degree Teams were concerned) all during the presentation of the Degrees at the Reunion. It was easy to see then that Brother Charlie commanded the respect and admiration of his fellow Masons, and I'm quite sure he will be missed by one and all.

Godspeed, Brother Charlie.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Albert Pike and Freemasonry

I have received a few requests over the months to consolidate my articles on Albert Pike and Freemasonry into one easily accessible article. Rather than cutting and pasting all seven articles into one, I decided just to create a new blog post with links to the individual articles.

Monday, June 1, 2009

KSA Chartering Ceremony

Tonight at the stated meeting of the Valley of Spartanburg, the Sovereign Grand Inspector General of the Scottish Rite for the State of South Carolina conducted a brief, but very solemn and moving signing ceremony, in which our newly formed Chapter of the Knights of St. Andrew came into existence. In his exhortation, the S.G.I.G. reminded all the charter members of the solemn duties we learned in the 29th Degree of the Rite and charged us ever to diligently uphold them as a duly constituted body of the Order.

The photo above is of the charter members and officers taken after the signing of the Charter. The S.G.I.G., Ill. Mike Smith, is in the center holding the Charter along with the newly appointed Venerable Master of the Chapter. That's me to the left of S.G.I.G., the Secretary-Treasurer, dressed in our KSA regalia.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Knights of St. Andrew

After several organizational meetings where a core group of 32° Masons in our Valley have fleshed out a vision for a KSA chapter, we are now down to the rubber hitting the road. At the next regular meeting of our valley the S.G.I.G of SC will sign the charter bringing into existence the Spartanburg chapter of the Knights of St. Andrew. Coinciding with the signing of the charter, he will appoint the four senior officers, of which I will be the secretary-treasurer.

We are all very excited to begin this new Masonic body in Spartanburg. While fully cognizant that most KSA chapters are service organizations, our chapter is going to be different. We intend to focus not only on service to the valley, charity work, and fundraisers, but on the esoteric and Masonic educational needs of our members. Ritual, esoterica, and education will factor heavily into all our meetings and activities.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Junior Deacon Pro Tempore

Tonight was the stated communication at my Blue Lodge. Our Junior Deacon could not attend, so I was asked to fill in. It was an interesting experience because the Junior Deacon has considerably more to do in a regular meeting than a Steward.

I was able to report that our Lodge website is off to a successful start for 2009. Based on inquiries we've received from the web site in the month of February, it looks like we will be getting as many as three new members.

Our District Deputy Grand Master was in attendance tonight, which was a real treat. He chided me about not updating this blog very often, so I figured I'd better make a post. ;-)

And that's all for this month. Till next time, the journey continues...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Journey Continues

I have been extremely busy since the first of the year, and while my online Masonic activities may have suffered, my "real life" ones haven't.

As I posted previously, I am a Steward this year at our Lodge. We had the district-wide officer instructional meeting back in January, and it was very good to see how seriously the lodges in the area take Masonic education. I learned a lot at that meeting.

Our local Scottish Rite valley is organizing a Chapter of the Knights of St. Andrew and I'm on the organizing team for that. We are in the process now of deciding on regalia, etc. and we hope to have the Chapter constituted soon.

I've also been asked to participate on the 18th Degree Team for the upcoming joint North Carolina/South Carolina Scottish Rite Reunion to be held in Charlotte in April. Lots of memory work involved for this. (Those of you in the Scottish Rite know what I mean.)

And that's about it. My Masonic journey continues...