Four Inches And Freemasonry

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Adam Thayer


In Nebraska Freemasonry, four inches is very important. Our Deacon and Stewards carry their rods exactly four inches above the ground. The Bible on our altar is placed exactly four inches from the Western edge. There are other examples, but you get the general drift; four inches is a lot to us around here.

Now, before I go any further I’m going to tell you this upfront: this is a serious paper, on a mainly serious website, so there will be no, I repeat NO joking here. I have heard all of the jokes (yes, even the one you think is original because you just came up with it) during ritual practice, and while I love a good joke as much as the next, there is a time and a place for it. There is nothing funny about four inches.

When I first started getting serious about ritual work, the whole concept of the four inches struck me as what happens when our ritual work is taken to the extreme: we focus more on the minute details than we do on the bigger, more important issues. After all, when lodges are struggling to find enough men who can mumble out the ritual work, do we really need to be concerned over something as trivial as the height of our rods?

The more I have thought about it, however, the more I realize that four inches can be everything. The distance itself doesn’t really matter, of course, Four Inches And Freemasonry it’s the love and attention we put into every little detail that makes the difference.

In our ritual work, every detail matters. Every detail that has been put into the ritual is there for a reason, and someone made a conscious decision to make it part of our ritual. Now, while I may not know why four inches specifically was chosen (I personally suspect it has to do with the average size of a fist, being a useful guide that all Masons would have at hand, so to speak), at the end of the day the important thing to note is this: the detail was put there, and it is irresponsible to ignore it.

I hope that while you’re learning ritual (and you SHOULD be learning ritual, but that’s another topic), you will spend the time to study those little, seemingly insignificant details, and think about the reason behind them.
~AT

WB. Bro. Adam Thayer is the Senior Warden of Lancaster Lodge No. 54 in Lincoln (NE) and a past master of Oliver Lodge No. 38 in Seward (NE). He’s an active member in the Knights of Saint Andrew, and on occasion remembers to visit the Scottish and York Rites as well. He continues to be reappointed to the Grand Lodge of Nebraska Education Committee, and serves with fervency and zeal. He is a sub-host on The Whence Came You podcast, and may be reached at adam@wcypodcast.com. He will not help you get your whites whiter or your brights brighter, but he does enjoy conversing with brothers from around the world!

Bringing Back The Light Conclusion: The End Of The Beginning

by Midnight Freemasons Founder 
Todd E. Creason, 33° 

The Final Installment of the Bringing Back The Light Series

I look back over the last few years, and what has been accomplished at Homer Lodge No. 199 is remarkable.  We've rebuilt our Lodge--with a lot of hard work and sweat we've restored it to its former glory.  We've created a museum that celebrates not only Freemasonry, but tells the history of our Lodge and its decades long service to the community.  We've established Admiration Chapter, a new chapter of the Royal Arch dedicated to service and education which will soon receive its charter.  We had several excellent education meetings now, and a truly remarkable group discussion on civility.  One of the best meetings I've attended in my decade as a Master Mason.

The Grand Chapter of Illinois has taken notice of what we're doing in Admiration Chapter, and I have no doubt the model we've established in providing education and instruction for our members will inspire other Chapters of the Royal Arch to do the same thing--improve the member experience.  And we've opened our doors to the community so they share in our history, as well as gotten out from behind the walls of the Lodge Room ourselves and gone out into the community again to continue our long history of service to the community.  We've even made the newspaper with our restoration efforts.  We recently spent a day out on Main Street during the town's annual Soda Festival pouring samples of old fashioned handcrafted sodas in a tent while the rain poured down.  One thing I didn't hear this year I'd heard in the two previous years--I didn't know the Lodge was still active.  The town knows we're still there, and we've come out from behind the walls of the Lodge again.

And our lights are burning again--more than just once a month for our regularly stated meetings.  The York Rite is back again with Admiration Chapter.  The Irish Sea Council of Knight Masons have used our Lodge to confer their degrees.  The Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 of the Allied Masonic Degrees has held their meeting at Homer Temple.  Our beautiful Homer Temple with its stunning stained glass windows recently served as a backdrop for a video produced by the Scottish Rite Supreme Council (NMJ).

But the hard work is still ahead.  We've rebuilt the Lodge building and put it back into use, but now it is time to rebuild the Lodge membership.  We have just enough active members to fill our chairs, and only two of those active members are true Homer Lodge members.  Most of those chairs are filled with dual members from neighboring Ogden Lodge No. 754 and St. Joseph Lodge No. 970.  It is our goal to fill that Lodge with Homer Masons--to raise and train a new generation of Master Masons and one day hand the keys back to them and let them continue the legacy of serving their community as generations before them have.

There is still a great deal of work to do, and the future of the Lodge is still uncertain.  But we're dedicated to rebuilding the membership because it's important.  It certainly would have been easier to let it go.  To merge Homer Lodge into one of the neighboring Lodges.  That's the conventional wisdom--let the old building and all the headaches involved with it go.  But we've seen that happen before.  We don't want to see that happen again.  When the light of Masonry goes out in a small Midwest town, the community loses something too.  It loses a place where men can go to learn, to make friends, and to improve themselves.  Freemasonry does make good men better--better husbands, better fathers, better employees, and better community leaders.  These old fashioned principles, virtues, and characteristics we learn as Masons are what helps to make our communities strong.  When that Lodge goes dark, that light doesn't often return.  As far as the members of Homer Lodge No. 199 are concerned--failure is not an option.  But nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

Our Grand Master Tony Cracco and the officers of the Grand Lodge of Illinois A.F. & A.M. are coming to Homer Lodge No. 199 in September to rededicate our Lodge.  We plan to open the doors and let the entire community in to celebrate that momentous occasion.  I believe it will begin a brand new chapter in our Lodge's long history.

I've tried to tell a story here over the last few weeks.  Don't let that light go out.  The world has never been in more need of men of good character than it is today--and the more places men can go to learn those values the better.  There are probably few people who have spent more time than I have studying the lives of famous Freemasons over the last decade--it's my thing.  All of them were good men when they joined, but many became great men after they became involved with our Fraternity.  There is something about our Craft, when it is taught properly, that propels men to accomplish things they didn't know they were capable of.  It's not just something you see with famous Freemasons either--you'll see it amongst the less famous as well.  There are one or two Masons like that in every Lodge I've attended.  We need a lot more than that to make a difference.

We have to get past reading minutes and reports and get back to teaching all those things that most of our members can only get if they read on their own now--most of our members frankly don't.  Sadly, most of what I've learned about Freemasonry that has inspired me I've learned on my own--that's something we have to do better.  We have to bring that knowledge back into the Lodge--bring back that light.  When you teach men how to improve themselves, you wind up with a better man, and that man goes out into the world and makes it a better place to live.

Todd E. Creason
Worshipful Master
Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL)

Todd E. Creason, 33°, FMLR is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and is a regular contributor.  He is the award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog.  He is a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and currently serves as the Secretary.  He currently serves as Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and serves as Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), Ansar Shrine (IL), and Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL).  In 2015 he was honored by the Missouri Lodge of Research and named a Fellow (FMLR).  He is a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D.  Todd is the father of two daughters, and recently became a grandfather.  You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Individuation and the Craft Pt. 1

by Midnight Freemason Emeritus
James E. Frey


My Brothers, Freemasonry, although not a religion, it is essentially a spiritual system of self-improvement using the allegory and symbolism of its system to portray the legend of a sacred secret held within the heart of all Masons. According to cultural values we are raised to consider our own religion as the only divinely inspired faith, and this is the cause of many of the misunderstandings between modern society and the spiritual ethics taught in the Masonic system. A religion can be defined as a divinely inspired code of morality to inspire its followers to live a nobler life to enrich the spirit within.

All doctrines equally seek to preserve and develop the divine spark within the individual. Masonry is a system of thought that inspires balance between the spiritual aspects of the self and the rational mind. Masonry expresses the ideals of the enlightenment movement that faith and science are both ends of the same truth, so masonry can be interpreted as the reconciler between these two liberating the mind of the initiate from the superstition and fear inspired by these polar opposites.

With this established Masonry is best expressed as a system of psychological growth that inspires the candidate to seek self-actualization through implied symbolic meaning. Masonry at its heart operates to give man the knowledge of himself that can be inspired only by self-reflection of his personal connection to the universe set within the allegory of its system. So if we look at the Masonic system as a Psychological process of development, it is necessary that we incorporate the importance of symbols in how one learns and interacts not only with the world but with aspects of our own consciousness. With this in mind this series will focus on the system of the craft, primarily the entered apprentice degree, as it relates to the psychological theory of Carl Jung, psychoanalytical psychology. 

Until next week, Brothers. 
~JEF


Is the Honeymoon Over?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Robert H. Johnson

I wrote this and thought "Man, if this wasn't a self affirmation, I don't know what is." Below comes
from the heart and I hope it doesn't pertain to you, but if it does, well... keep going.

You petitioned with eagerness and anxiety. You got the call that you were voted in. You received your first degree and thought, "Okay, not exactly what I expected, but cool." You proved your worth somehow or other and were told you would be receiving your 2nd degree, and more excitement filled your brain. You received your Fellowcraft degree and thought, "Wow, that was a bit more involved. Really cool." Then you make your regular progress and are told you will be receiving your Master Mason degree, "...the highest level in Freemasonry", you are told, ad nauseam.

After the 3rd degree, you sit in the lodge and ponder all there was in the degree; the lessons, the symbols and the incoherent rambling of a lecture you won't understand for years. But one thought trumps all, you are now a full fledged official Freemason. Congratulations!

Fast forward to your first unfavorable thoughts of the craft which started to enter your mind. You remember them. At first you thought you could just sweep them aside like crumbs on the floor. You've been in long enough now, to see the less than favorable peculiarities of the institution you once thought would make you truly a better man. Every organization has it's flaws and now you see them.

Squabbling over bills, dealing with the unwavering dogmatic religious requirements by varying jurisdictions, replacing the carpet, local lodge politics, cliques, appendant bodies playing tug-of-war with base lodge members. The honeymoon is over. Just like real life though, now it's time to get to work and do as "Red" says in the Shawshank Redemption, "Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'."

We come to these times frequently after being involved in the fraternity in a multitude of areas. We serve our lodge and deal with the constant shutting down of ideas, although some stick and work out, fueling you for the next implementation. You then get involved and you move around the lodge, district and maybe even the Grand Lodge, serving as a committee man or chairman, overseeing issues galore. All the while cursing this thing and loving it at the same time. This is the beginning of "Masonic Burnout", typically this happens to our new members, young or old, who want to hit the ground running.

The one thing we need to remember though, is that this is your time to shine. New members will see your zeal, they will see your servant leadership, they will see your tenacity in getting things done and pushing the craft into the next age. You might be struggling to reconcile membership or involvement after coming in and going strong for 2-5 years, and now seeing all the internal dynamics. It's easy to get disenchanted. The important thing to remember here is, that we have all been in that situation. When the thoughts about the fraternity in some way make you wish you didn't have to be involved and maybe even walk away from it all. Don't do it. Keep on pushing. Keep on making your voice heard and change will come and things, like life outside the fraternity, will get better. Be the example.

You are the keystone.

~RHJ

Bro. Robert Johnson, PM is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Waukegan Lodge No. 78 where he is a Past Master. He also serves as the Education officer for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry and is also an avid home brewer. He is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.