The 50 Year Member - Some Assembly Ruired

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM


“You boys hurry up and get those things put away. When you're done come inside, I have warm cookies and cocoa for you.” The 50 Year member laughed. “Sometimes she talks to me like I’m one of her sons.” Pudge laughed. "I think it’s because she knows you are a big kid at heart.” The old man smiled, "I hope it’s that, and she isn’t slipping. By the way Pudge, I appreciate you spending your last holiday from work taking down my Christmas decorations. I know I haven’t added any new ones in years but it feels like it takes twice as long as it did a few decades ago.”

“You're welcome Brother. But I hate to see all these decorations and the holidays go away. It’s weird, it seems like they arrive one day and then, BOOM, they're gone. It’s like they were never even here.” Pudge continued to roll up the string of Christmas lights. “I have been giving this a lot of thought, maybe it’s your influence on me, but the holiday season has made me think about Masonry.”

The 50 Year member chuckled. “So it’s my influence that makes you see the symbolism in things. I guess I should consider that a big honor!”, the old man said with a hint of sarcasm mixed with humor. “I guess that means you are listening to me and actually learning. So tell me how the holidays mix with Masonry. Is it the giving? The spirituality of these season?”

Pudge took in a deep, nervous breath, “Well, I’ve been thinking how the season is a lot like joining Lodge for a lot of guys. They petition a lodge and it seems like forever waiting for the news, the petition to be accepted, then for the interview process and then the ballot, until the day finally arrives. Your excitement continues to build with each passing day until the first holiday, or, well the day the degree arrives.All in a sudden there are celebrations, decorations hanging everywhere. You enjoy yourself and begin to prepare for the next one, then that day arrives and you begin to look to the last one, this time with a bit of trepidation because you aren’t sure what the new year or in this case the Master Mason degree will bring. Then the holiday arrives and the next day it’s all over! It’s been done and it’s time to return to normal life.”

“For some fellas it’s just like today. All of the decorations are gone. Gifts are put away and it’s like nothing ever happened. Not one sign of the holiday season is left, like it was a dream. They continue to live their normal lives with Masonry only just another memory. No more of an effect on their lives as a Christmas from years ago did. Or worse yet, something bad happens to them like bad degree work or becoming disillusioned with the Craft, and that bad moment makes them turn their back on the holiday celebration, never to celebrate it again. Like Scrooge in the old Dickens book."

The old man sat down the box of ornaments he was holding in his hands. He smiled as he looked at his young Brother. “Wow, I guess some of what I have said has been trapped between those ears. You really have given this subject some thought.” The 50 Year member stood erect. “My first thought, off the top of my head is, I think everyone has had a disappointing Christmas. I mean, think about when you were a kid and you didn’t get the present you wrote about in your letter to Santa. Or worse yet you told him about while you were sitting on his lap at the department store and he promised you that it would be under your tree. I think every person who has wanted something for a gift, Christmas or otherwise has been disappointed in something they have received. But then you move on hoping next year you will get what you want.”

Pudges breathing grew quicker and a sharpness appeared in his voice, “See! That’s it! These guys are walking because they don’t like the gift they are given. They realize that Santa isn’t real and then they quit celebrating all together. It is just sad.”

“It sure is sad, but let me ask you two things; One, are they sad about what they received, or two, are they disgusted that what they were searching for took longer than three days to magically appear? There is a big difference in the two.”

The old man continued, “Let me ask you this. If I were to buy you one of those plastic model kits of a car, would you prefer to receive it un-assembled in kit form or should I paint the car, add the decals and assemble it first?” Pudges brow furrowed. I guess I would want to put it together myself. It’s more fun that way.” “Okay." Replied the 50 Year member. “Lets say I went out and bought you a fancy tool box and filled it with every hand tool I could find. Would you expect me to come over to your apartment and use those tools to fix your car for you?” Pudge laughed and said “Are you kidding? Heck no! I might ask you to help but I want to do my own work!”

The old man smiled. ”I think you have answered your own questions. Freemasonry provides you the tools and the materials but you have to take what you are given and put it together yourself. What does it always say on a box with a new toy; Some Assembly required? We can be there for these men we can assist them, like the example about fixing your car, but we can’t do it for them. If that is what they are really looking for, to have the truth poured over their head like it’s a baptism, then sadly they will never be happy because they will continue to search but never find what they are looking for.”
Pudge picked up several boxes of decorations and started to the old mans garage. “I guess the best holiday gift I could give them is to be there and help them with their Assembly work.”

“Honestly Brother that’s the gift that keeps on giving for the entire year, or in your case youngster, a lifetime, or at least what is left of my lifetime.” The old man said with a laugh.

Pudge retorted, "If you keep working so slow that won’t be long, as cold as it is out here.” with a smile on his face, "Lets get done. I’m ready for those cookies and cocoa your wife mentioned.”

~BH

WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.

A Midnight Freemasons Road Trip

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°
 
left to right: Senior Warden Greg Knott, Katie Creason, Junior Warden Darin Lahners, and WM Todd E. Creason
We’ve been talking for some time about the possibility of starting a Masonic Library at our Lodge—Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL).  Our Lodge over the last several years has gained a reputation as a Lodge that puts a particular focus on education.  We even have a museum room in our Lodge, so a library seemed the next reasonable step. 

The focus on education is what saved our Lodge.  Homer Lodge was chartered in 1856, and our building was built in 1892, but in 2011 we about closed it.  The building needed an enormous amount of work, including a new roof, and there just weren’t many members left to help.  In fact, we had a difficult time getting enough members at our regular meetings to open. 

Fortunately, since the Lodge had nothing to lose but closing, we were able to try a few things to save it, and one of those things was to improve the meeting experience, and put a major focus on providing good quality education at every meeting.  Our thought was that eventually, Masons from other Lodges might come to our monthly programs.  We also hoped that a few might join our Lodge as dual members as well. 

Here it is six years later, and the Lodge is beginning to see results.  We’ve got a new roof, and a new mission.  The entire Lodge has been cleaned and restored inside and out (less a little more work to do on one exterior wall).  It is certainly one of the grandest Lodges in our area—the Lodge room itself is around 2,500 square feet with towering ceilings.  We even turned what was once a room full of junk into a museum, where we’ve displayed many of the artifacts from our long history we found stored in the attic.  In addition to that, there’s a new Royal Arch Chapter that has been formed, Admiration Chapter No. 282, with the same focus on education as the Lodge.  The building is in use constantly.  It’s been used by other local Lodges, the Knight Masons, the Allied Masonic Degrees, the Illinois Lodge of Research, the Shriners.  Masonry has returned to Homer, IL in a big way.  The Officers of the Grand Lodge of Illinois A. F. & A. M. even came and rededicated the Lodge two years ago. 

So we began talking about a library.  As you know, books are expensive, and books on Freemasonry can be very expensive.  We had just started talking about how we might finance a library, when I got a call—an email actually.  It was from Noel C. Dicks, who was the Grand Master of Illinois when I became a Mason.   He wanted to know if we’d ever thought about starting a library at Homer Lodge, because he knew a Mason, WB Bill Henry, that was looking to make some room in his basement by getting rid of a bunch of books he’d collected over the years on Freemasonry. 

Sometime it happens that way!

left to right: Darin Lahners, Todd E. Creason, Greg Knott, and library donor WB Bill Henry
Shortly before Christmas, three Midnight Freemasons, who also happen to be the three principle officers of Homer Lodge No. 199, went on a road trip to pick up a load of books—over 70 volumes.  It was an incredibly generous donation.  Bill Henry’s collection will form the core of our new library that will be enjoyed by members of Homer Lodge for generations to come.  And we plan to continue to add to our collection with the hopes that our library will become a place where new members and old can come and enhance their knowledge of our beloved Craft.

Saving a Lodge is a lot of work, but as I’ve said before, once the light of Masonry goes out, it never returns.  Sometimes it’s worth the hard work and effort to preserve that heritage at all costs.  And I’ll give you one good reason why.   

We have a young Fellow Craft that is about to be raised a Master Mason.  He wanted to join our Lodge in particular—it was a family tradition he wanted to bring back.  When I gave him the tour of the building before he petitioned, he found photographs of his great grandparents hanging on the wall in our museum—both involved in an Eastern Star Chapter that met at Homer Lodge many years ago.   
If Freemasonry changes that young man's life in the same positive way it has changed the lives of many of my Brothers, every drop of sweat has been worth it.

~TEC 

For your added enjoyment, here's an episode of "Masonic Curators" that featured Homer Lodge No. 199 presented by Senior Warden (and Midnight Freemason Senior Contributor) Greg Knott.
 


Todd E. Creason, 33° 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 the Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754.  He is a Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research. (FMLR) and a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282.  You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

What If We Actually Did Masonry?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RW Robert H. Johnson


We’ve all been there, a meeting where everyone has to put in their two cents regarding a charity event or a lodge repair. A discussion that lasts twenty minutes too long. Men informing the lodge that they “know a guy.”, who can do it cheaper, or perhaps raising the dues $5 a year is too expensive, or still yet, perhaps it's about how much money is going to be earmarked for the upcoming scholarships.

I commend these brothers who dig into the nitty-gritty of lodge minutia. It’s something I’ve just never cared much about or felt I needed to contribute to. These guys are into it though, they do it without being prompted, they take ownership and are made sure their voices are heard.

The title of this article alludes to the core mission of Freemasonry, to make good men better. Yes we’re charitable, yes we serve our communities, but what are we teaching our members about actually improving men? I addressed this concern in a previous piece which you can read HERE.

What if though?

What if, that same gusto for discussing these things--building maintenance and pancake breakfasts, was had when we introduced Masonic Education? What if Masonic Education wasn’t met with eye rolls from around the lodge? What if people cared as much for Masonic Education as they do about the minutia? What if Worshipful Masters didn’t buckle under the stress of the membership, requiring Masonic Education to be a mere five minutes or less? What if we did what we’re supposed to do, and fulfill the membership in the Masonic way, through improvement and education? What if instead of being told that we should start a study club on off nights for Masonic Education, we embraced the present opportunity to affect all present?

What would happen if we ALL changed the order of business, so that Masonic Education came right after the opening? What would happen if we spent twenty, thirty, dare I say an hour on a topical presentation complete with questions and answers with discussion from the brothers? Maybe we just change it so that it’s all education and only a couple bills? What would happen if these brothers were as engaged in the educational topic as they are about replacing the toilet seat, or procuring the free pancake mix from the local restaurant? Would the previous discussed minutia be then seen as the five minute bastard of the meeting? Relegated to the end, much like education is in too many lodges?

The chances are we would lose a lot of members by doing this. In fact, because Freemasonry is many different things to many different people, the least of which is an educational system. To do these things would require some sort of drastic change within the organization. Perhaps the way to experience this for those interested is to start a new lodge based on these principles.

Recently there’s been some great conversation about members who are unsatisfied, starting their own lodges. In some cases, a Grand Lodge has asked the members, “Rather than walk away, why not start a new lodge?” Members took that advice. Members across the USA are taking that advice.

Perhaps something that needs to be considered here is that Freemasonry should serve to fulfill its membership. Instead, what occurs is that the membership is largely guilted into not giving up on the current lodge, not walking away and actually to double and triple down and urged to join all the other appendant bodies. These extra organizations which are looking for anyone at all to convey the degrees upon, many times in an abbreviated form, just to get a warm body in a position. Bro. Scott S. Dueball made a case for this in his piece, “Blue Lodge First”, read it HERE.

Above I asked a whole lot of questions, and in my imagination, I thought about the response I would likely get online and the things which would be talked about, if at all. I just couldn’t help but think to myself, that the response would be something like, “I wouldn’t go to lodge anymore.” or perhaps, “By doing education first or by pushing hard for Masonic Education like this, you’re being unbrotherly.” I don’t know how that would be true, but that's basically what I think I’d hear.

I think those imaginary but prophetic responses I mentioned earlier are why the idea would never work. It’s why the membership that’s out there should just go ahead and start a new lodge if they want the educational kind of experience. Focus on what you want and leave the rest behind until they learn to attract you through additional fulfillment, not by begging you to show up. Have doubts about how this works? Check out Admiration Chapter of Royal Arch Masons in Eastern IL. Or ask Homer Lodge, also in Eastern IL about having education right after opening and letting it go for "...as long as it goes." according to Todd E. Creason, founder of the Midnight Freemasons. In fact recently, Todd had let me know that one of their chief detractors in the beginning of this effort, recently came to him and Greg Knott to tell them how much he now looks forward to the meetings.

While some reading this might belong to an education focused lodge and have no issues, I assure you, you are the minority.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. If Freemasonry is indeed a system which teaches good men to be better, then we better start having more education meetings than degrees and business combined. If we’re not doing this, we’re just lip service.

~RHJ

Sacred Feminine?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Darin A. Lahners

Upon a recent viewing of the movie, The Da Vinci Code, I discovered something that had alluded me up until now. Dr. Langdon (played by Tom Hanks) was discussing the symbol of the sacred feminine with Sir Leigh Teabing (played by Ian McKellen). The feminine V which was presented reminded me very much of the Square displayed proudly daily on my Masonic Ring, which is intersected by a compass, with the Letter G in the middle. Is this accidental? Or like other symbols in Freemasonry – is there a hidden meaning to be found?


In Illinois, The blazing star is described as one of the ornaments of a lodge, as being a hieroglyphic representation of Divine Providence. In more ancient traditions, it is represented as consisting of two equilateral triangles interlocked. The triangle with the apex pointed down was emblematic of the Creator, with the apex pointing down toward the created universe, whereas the triangle pointing up was representative of man, pointing toward God, the Creator. When intertwined as a six pointed star, they would form a single figure, the symbol of unity between God and his creation. However, even more ancient was the hexagram being representative of sexual union between man and woman. The triangle pointed downward representing the feminine and the other triangle representing the male.


I know what you’re thinking. Don’t take my word for it. 


So what does this have to do with the Square and Compass? The Square and Compass is a representation of the Blazing Star. You have the Feminine Square intersecting with the Masculine Compass. Within the Square and Compass, a diamond shape surrounds the Letter ‘G’. This diamond shape also is similar to the double pointed oval used to represent the Yoni, or female sexual organs. This is more easily seen in the symbol of the Knife and Fork degree. G-D being the seat of creation of all things, he is positioned within the overtly feminine symbol of the Yoni, which is also representative of creation. 


In Albert Mackey’s “The Symbolism of Freemasonry: Illustrating and Explaining its Science and Philosophy, Its Legends, Myths and Symbols.”, he explains: “All the deities of pagan antiquity, however numerous they may be, can always be reduced to the two different forms of the generative principle—the active, or male, and the passive, or female. Hence the gods were always arranged in pairs, as Jupiter and Juno, Bacchus and Venus, Osiris and Isis.
But the ancients went farther. Believing that the procreative and productive powers of nature might be conceived to exist in the same individual, they made the older of their deities hermaphrodite, (having both male and female genitalia) and used the term man-virgin, to denote the union of the two sexes in the same divine person.”

Even in ancient Babylonian myth and early Hebrew myth, El , “God” – the supreme god of the Sumerians) and Yahweh shared the same consort, Asherah. According to Ronald L. Ecker, in his book “And Adam Knew Eve”:

“In the Bible her name often appears as ha asherah, meaning "the" asherah. In such instances the reference is not to the goddess but to a symbol of her, an object (in the plural asherim) that was apparently a sacred pole, tree, or group of trees (hence the translation "groves") at Israelite sanctuaries or "high places" as well as by altars of Baal. The erecting of asherim was among the "evil" deeds of kings like Ahab and Manasseh, and cutting the things down was a regular chore of "right" kings like Hezekiah and Josiah.

The presence of Asherah or her symbol at places where Yahweh, the biblical God of the Hebrews, was worshipped raises the question of whether the Canaanite goddess was considered also to be the consort of Yahweh.

We know from references to,
"the sons of God" (Gen. 6:1-4; Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7)
"the host of heaven" (1 Kings 22:19)
"angels" (Gen. 19:1; Ps. 103:20)
God’s statement "Let us make man in our image" (Gen. 1:26),

...that Yahweh was not alone in his heaven.


We know also that Yahweh supplanted the Canaanite El to the extent that God’s other names in the Hebrew Bible include El, El Elyon ("God Most High"), El Shaddai ("God Almighty"), and the (originally) plural form Elohim (as in Gen. 1:1).”

But the Square and Compass isn’t the only symbol within Freemasonry that refers to this idea. If we go back to Mackey’s "The Symbolism of Freemasonry: Illustrating and Explaining Its Science and Philosophy, Its Legends, Myths and Symbols..”:

Now, this hermaphrodism of the Supreme Divinity was again supposed to be represented by the sun, which was the male generative energy, and by nature, or the universe, which was the female prolific principle. And this union was symbolized in different ways, but principally by the point within a circle, the point indicating the sun, and the circle the universe, invigorated and fertilized by his generative rays. And in some of the Indian cave-temples, this allusion was made more manifest by the inscription of the signs of the zodiac on the circle.”


Mackey goes onto then give the following explanation: “So far, then, we arrive at the true interpretation of the Masonic symbolism of the point within a circle. It is the same thing, but under a different form, as the Master and Wardens of a lodge. The Master and Wardens are symbols of the sun, the lodge of the universe, or world, just as the point is the symbol of the same sun, and the surrounding circle of the universe.

But the two perpendicular parallel lines remain to be explained. Everyone is familiar with the very recent interpretation, that they represent the two Saints John, the Baptist and the Evangelist. But this modern exposition must be abandoned, if we desire to obtain the true ancient signification.

In the first place, we must call to mind the fact that, at two particular points of his course, the sun is found in the zodiacal signs of Cancer (June) and Capricorn (December).

These points are astronomically distinguished as the summer and winter solstice. When the sun is in these points, he has reached his greatest northern and southern declination, (a gradual falling off from a higher state) and produces the most evident effects on the temperature of the seasons, and on the length of the days and nights.


These points, if we suppose the circle to represent the sun's apparent course, will be indicated by the points where the parallel lines touch the circle, or, in other words, the parallels will indicate the limits of the sun's extreme northern and southern declination, when he arrives at the solstitial points of Cancer and Capricorn.


But the days when the sun reaches these points are, respectively, the 21st of June and the 22d of December, and this will account for their subsequent application to the two Saints John, whose anniversaries have been placed by the church near those days.”

Is it so far-fetched then to imagine that our mysteries then refer to the Great Architect of the Universe as being similar? Isn’t it possible that the ‘G’ within the Square and Compass refers to this more ancient understanding of the creator as encompassing both the Masculine and Feminine?

Before your blood begins boiling, I want to point out that this wouldn’t be the only place in Freemasonry where we have symbols that refer to genitalia. As this isn’t a tiled page, I would just point out that all Master Masons should know what this refers to within our rituals. However, it also has a further allusion which should be clear to everyone in the context of this article. Yes my brothers, it is sublimely referring to the act of creation.


Of course, there are many explanations for our symbols. I’m just pointing out some coincidences between them and how the feminine has been represented. Many of these coincidences that Albert Mackey also understood. There are obviously many explanations for the symbols I’ve presented here. It is my goal to educate my brethren and for them to ultimately decide for themselves what they think.

~DAL

WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. When he’s not busy enjoying Masonic fellowship, Darin spends his time as a DM for his children’s D&D campaign, reading, golfing, watching movies and listening to music. You can reach him by email at darin.lahners@gmail.com.