It's been a spell since getting down to my Scottish Rite Valley. This last Saturday marked the first Reunion since Covid began. It was billed as a "Mini" Reunion--but make no mistake, while the day was shorter, and we had fewer degrees being put on, it was still a tremendous success. I imagine there are many Valleys across the United States and the world who are experiencing these first few events post-Covid 19, and I'll bet they're having success too.
As I mentioned, it had been a while since I had been to the Valley, and because of this, I hadn't seen the new 4th degree. First of all, you might be thinking, "New 4th degree?" Yes--as most know, the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction changes things up from time to time and rotates things around. It keeps things fresh, I suppose.
The first time I saw the 4th degree was back in 2013--I think. It was a live performance put on by my Valley, and it was cool. Although, I must admit the nature of it was less than exciting. That 4th degree was really just a few little snips of what to expect in other degrees and kind of sold you on the idea of the Scottish Rite. The next time I saw the 4th degree, it was a video--the phrase, "Hello, Hiram!" echoes in my brain still, although it's a total inside joke amongst friends and accompanied by some eye-rolling and laughing. The video was pretty cheesy.
Then, that same version got an update--A new video! I know, I know--some dudes really hate the videos. I'm not a big fan either, but it's what we sometimes have. So anyway, this new video was updated and had some better acting, better visuals, and better overall production.
When I attended our Reunion this past weekend, the 4th degree was being shown in video form, and imagine my surprise--it was a new version! Do my exclamation points give you the impression that I was shocked? Well, I was shocked. Not for the reasons you might think. This new 4th degree was an actual degree. The preview of the Scottish Rite was gone. Right away, I loved it.
This new 4th degree was fascinating. It focussed on Hiram and the building of the Temple. The lesson it threw out to the viewers was, on the surface, pretty great. But the underlying lesson was awesome--and it really was something that I think we all realize at some point in our Masonic lives.
Hiram talks to God in the degree, lamenting that the workers just follow the plans, but he alone has all this stress to design the building. He has a revelation that, well, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” He realizes that all the workers help build the temple. Let me type that out again--all the workers help build the Temple.
What is the Temple representative of again? Aha! So now think about this for just a hot minute. All the people around you, the builders--your fellow Brothers exhibit some form of influence on you and thus become a part of the workforce building your Temple.
We all know this--right? It's a given in some respects. We know that part of Freemasonry is being surrounded by good men who, in turn, influence you. I'm reminded of a quote by the famous and outlandish businessman Daniel Peña: "Show me your friends, and I'll show you your future."
I cannot say whether or not this little "lesson" was intentional in writing the new 4th degree. But what I will say is that it's a damn good reminder.
RWB Johnson is a Co-Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 2nd N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. RWB:.Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & several others relating to Freemasonry and the occult. 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. He is the author and editor of several Masonic books.