Powerful Words

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott


The Scottish Rite Creed
The cause of human progress is our cause,
the enfranchisement of human thought our supreme wish,
the freedom of human conscience our mission,
and the guarantee of equal rights to all peoples everywhere,
the end of our contention.

Words have powerful meanings. Some of the most powerful words in Freemasonry for myself, is the Scottish Rite Creed. When thought about deeply, these words encompass everything that Freemasonry should be about. Let me use this article to breakdown further and what I believe they mean.

“The cause of human progress is our cause” A cause when defined as a noun by the dictionary means a principle, aim or movement that, because of a deep commitment, one is prepared to defend or advocate. As a Freemason, I can think of no higher calling than working towards the progress of all human beings. We have numerous opportunities to work towards this progress within our fraternity. By building the individual man, we prepare him to enter back into the world a stronger, more committed individual capable of improving the people and places around him. These contributions move humanity forward in a positive direction.

“the enfranchisement of human thought is our supreme wish” Human beings are unique amongst all the Supreme Grand Architects creations in that we have the capacity of intellectual thought. When something is enfranchised, it is set free or liberated and guaranteed. As freemasons, we are builders. We are builders with our thoughts, with our actions and with our deeds. A free mind has boundless capabilities and when encouraged and nourished will produce remarkable results that will have a profound impact on the world around us.

“the freedom of human conscience our mission” Knowing right from wrong is a foundational bedrock of a civilized society. By liberating the human mind, we allow mankind to progress in our intellectual capacity in obtaining a deeper understanding of the world around us. The freedom of human conscience puts no limits on the ability of the individual to develop their own beliefs in areas such as religion and politics. As freemasons, we place a priority on the individual to develop to the very best of their ability and contribute in positive manner to society and mankind.

“and the guarantee of equal rights to all peoples everywhere, the end of our contention” Oppression is still present throughout the world and the forces of darkness seek to limit the freedom of the individual. Freemasonry builds men to improve themselves as individuals, in turn we are to be exemplars in society helping to build and improve the world around us.

Does Freemasonry live up to these lofty ideals? My answer is yes. Do individual freemasons fall short? Yes, we do. We work towards the perfection of the individual knowing that achieving such may be impossible. Collectively we put forth our efforts together to make a difference in our families, nation and world.

There has never been a time in human history when the ideals of freemasonry are needed more. Let us resolve to continue our work of self-improvement and thereby having a positive impact on the world around us.

~GJK

WB Gregory J. Knott is the Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC.

Star Wars and Freemasonry - 5 Things You've Never Thought Of

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
RWB:. Michael Jarzabek


Editors Note: I first was introduced to RW Jarzabek a month ago by the master mind behind Masonic Con in Attleboro Massachusetts, Bryan Simmons. Mike Jarzabek is a profound thinker and blew my mind with what he told me about the seemingly insane connections between Star Wars and Freemasonry. Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Mike and record a new episode of "Whence Came You?" podcast where we really dove into some of these ideas. That episode is a couple weeks away, when it goes up, I'll post a link in this article as well. Until then, here's a teaser... 
________________________________________

I'm not saying that George Lucas borrowed Masonic ideas, though he may have.

I'm saying that there are certain ineffable truths which speak to the human soul to which both Star Wars and Freemasonry allude. We will explore five such allusions.

Anakin, Luke, and Hiram as the Master Craftsman:

When we first meet Anakin and Luke we learn that they are both very mechanically inclined. Anakin builds C-3PO from junk parts. Luke repairs him.

When we first see the droid he is without skin. R2-D2 comments that he is naked. When he finally gets skin, it is tarnished brass. Later in the story, he receives gold skin as a gift from Padme.

The Hiram that we meet in the Bible (1 Kings 7:13-14) is the son of a widow sent to cast the bronze furnishings of the temple. In 2 Chronicles 2:13-14, he is said to be, "skilled to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, stone and wood, purple and blue, fine linen and crimson, and to make any engraving and to accomplish any plan which may be given to him..."

If we, like Vitruvius, interpret the temple to be representative of the human body...

Death Star as the unfinished temple:
The monad or point within a circle has always been a symbol of the creative principle.
The Death Star mirrors this although it is illustrative of the destructive principle.

How can one symbol mean two different things?

In 1 Kings 8:63 we learn that 22,000 oxen and 20,000 sheep and goats were sacrificed to dedicate the temple to the lord.

The Death Star was to designed to serve as a symbol of the strength of the Empire. It was employed to sacrifice planets in the service of maintaining order in the galaxy.

Are the unfinished temple and the unfinished Death Star two sides of the same coin?

Darth Vader as the Tragic Hero:

George Lucas has gone on record proclaiming Anakin as the hero in Star Wars. He is a hero in the tragic sense. He earns redemption through sacrificing himself for his son.

Where is the parallel to Freemasonry? Preston included many literary allusions in the lectures. Among these is a reference to Hamlet's famous soliloquy. Hamlet is one of the best known tragic heroes in literature.

"To be or not to be..."

Broken Column:

In Freemasonry we see the broken column as a symbol of the fragile state of our mortal coil.

In Star Wars we see this symbol in the use of the bacta tank. Both Darth Vader and Luke are seen broken and floating in the healing fluid.

Is this a symbol of our humanity?

Hero's Journey:

George Lucas was influenced heavily by the work of Joseph Campbell who is the author of a book called, "The Hero with a Thousand Faces". After reading this book Lucas intentionally structured Star Wars as a monomyth or hero's journey. What makes Star Wars interesting is that it is hard to identify just one hero or journey. There are multiple heroes each at different points in their journey.

The same can be said for Freemasonry. Throughout the three degrees, reference after reference is made to heroes from history and literature. However, the individual lodge, better than any ritual, represents this principle as we the Masons within it are all on our own hero's journey. At different times in our Masonic career we are the neophyte, the mentor, and the Master.
Whether or not Lucas or Preston intended any of these allusions is immaterial. All that matters is that these allusions speak to us and help us to better understand the world through understanding ourselves.

"May the Force be with you."

~MJ

RWB Michael Jarzabek is a Past Master of Brigham Lodge in Ludlow, Massachusetts. He is a PDDGM of the 28th Masonic District. He currently serves as Chairman of the Lodges of Instruction Committee for the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts.

What Kind of Mason Are You? Revisit


by Midnight Freemason Founder
Todd E. Creason

Editors Note* Published just before Christmas in 2012, this piece recently came to mind when I was thinking about the types of Freemasons we have. Specifically, the dues payers and the guys who show up and make it happen. In any case, enjoy this one, it's the third time it's been posted. Guys just seem to love it, it's great! - RJ

Are you an active member
The kind that would be missed
Or are you just content
That your name is on the list?

Do you attend the meetings
And mingle with the flock.
Or do you stay at home
To criticize and knock?

Do you take an active part
To help the work along
Or are you satisfied to be
The kind that just belongs?

Do you ever go to visit
A member who is sick,
Or leave the work to just a few
And talk about the "clique"?

Think this over
You know right from wrong,
Are you an active member
Or do you just belong?

~anonymous

Midnight Freemasons Contributor Greg Knott forwarded this to me about this time last year. Everyone seemed to enjoy it a great deal last year, so I thought I'd repost it for those of you that have joined us since. I hope it makes you think . . .

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog, and author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is member of Homer Lodge No. 199, and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL). He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), the Ansar Shrine (IL), Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, and Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL). He is also the author of the blog From Labor To Refreshment . . .

Spreading Cement?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM


"The trowel is an instrument made use of by operative masons to spread the cement which unites a building into one common mass, but we, as Free and Accepted Masons, are taught to make use of it for the more noble and glorious purpose of spreading the cement of brotherly love and affection, that cement which unites us into one sacred band or society of brothers, among whom no contention should ever exist, but that noble emulation of who can best work or best agree."

I was recently watching a home improvement show on TV. The host was explaining to his audience that when most people refer to the slurry which hardens and creates a hard, unmoving mass, they call it cement, however they are actually creating and using concrete or mortar. Cement is actually just one component in creating concrete; it is a binder which holds all the ingredients of the mass together.

It's no secret our fraternity is now smaller than it was after World War 2. Some say the large numbers who joined during the conflict had been an anomaly, that the number of men who hold membership in our gentle craft is supposed to be small. Others believe the decline in membership is a cause for alarm, and the Fraternity needs to try to bring the number of members back to the “post war” numbers (or even to surpass them) at all costs.

Freemasonry has been trying to replace these lost members for nearly half of a century, trying everything in their power to entice new members into knocking on the doors of our lodges. Slogans like “2B1ASK1” and “I M Committed Now R U”, offering one day classes, discounts on dues, even premiums like T-shirts or sunshades for your automobile have brought some new men into our Fraternity, but for one reason or another they have all left the quarries to seek what they are looking for elsewhere. We keep asking ourselves “why?”

Maybe, much like that concrete we have been calling cement by mistake, we are offering these men something we call Freemasonry but which doesn’t measure up to the expectations we have laid out.

If you ask any builder, a sure way to weaken a building you are making is to substitute the quality ingredients of concrete with inferior ingredients. Sadly, many buildings have been destroyed over the years by using “shoddy” building materials in order to maximize profit or to lower the price of a bid in order to get the work.

These inferior materials may stay in place long enough to complete the building, but after a while the entire edifice will begin to crumble and eventually collapse. Usually, sadly, many unsuspecting souls who are occupying the building can lose their lives to the builders greed or incompetence.

Slowly our Fraternity has been replacing the quality ingredients which creates the strong concrete which has held our Fraternity together and has replaced them with inferior materials or left them out of the slurry altogether.

From the late nineteenth century, when a few intolerant “temperance” zealots thoroughly removed refreshment while ignoring the virtue of temperance by convincing Grand Lodges to remove all alcoholic beverages from our meetings and Temples, we have slowly been replacing the quality ingredients that made a lodge successful, which, in my opinion, has been causing the cracks in our once solid foundation.

We have further weaned our Fraternity by replacing dues which paid the bills of our lodges and paid for the maintenance of our buildings by offering Freemasonry as cheaply as humanly possible and replacing the money by holding fundraisers which no one volunteers for and which are rarely patronized even by the members.

The once fantastic food that lodge members enjoyed on fine china placed, on a beautifully pressed linen tablecloth, has give away to baloney sandwiches and potato chips on a floppy paper plate washed down with warm iced tea or cold coffee.

At one point in our history, the Brethren gathered into a beautifully ornate lodge room. They sat quietly while the lodge organist would play a light tune before lodge was opened and a thoughtful evening of discussion and learning made the men feel spiritually fulfilled. Sadly today we get badly performed ritual done by a Brother who was asked at the last minute to fill the chair. Once lodge is opened the process of listening to several sets of minutes from previous meeting be read in a monotone by Brother Secretary while the Treasurer gets prepared to tell the lodge how much money they don’t have.

As an added bonus you get to spend the rest of the evening arguing over the cost of the lodge’s bills and then vote to pay them (even though everyone there knows these bills were already paid several weeks ago).

The rest of the evening is begging for volunteers for fundraisers or to fix a piece of the building that has fallen down, and everyone tries to escape as quickly as possible. The last one out of the building, please shut off the lights.

The last ingredient which remains, “the cement”, has been reduced to young men hearing “Back in the sixties, we had fun. You should have been here then.” When the young man suggests reviving these old traditions or starting new traditions they are stopped cold. They are told “We couldn’t do that” or the ever popular “Grand Lodge won’t allow that.” Eventually these young “living stones” fall out of our Masonic edifice because the mortar which binds them there isn’t strong enough to hold them in place.

The young men who are looking to join are looking for those quality materials we tell the world we build with. They are looking for education, enlightenment, a sense of Brotherhood and friendship, a reason that they are on this planet. They have been told that “Freemasonry makes good men better.” That is what they are looking for.

Brethren if we want a strong fraternity which will stand up to the the storms and trials of the coming centuries we have to replace the “inferior” building materials with the things which made us the strong Fraternity we once were.

~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.