Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Masonic Society PowerPoint Presentation

In my copious free time, I animated Brother Terry Hastings' PowerPoint presentation on "The Masonic Society". Once it downloads, just click the play button with your mouse, then click to advance the slides.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Anchorage Valley Scottish Rite Fall Reunion

On Saturday, I had the honor and privilege to be the exemplar for the conferral of the 32 degree of Scottish Rite Masonry, during the Anchorage Scottish Rite Valley’s fall reunion. There were 10 of us in the reunion class, which was large by the Anchorage Valley’s standards. The candidates who participated in the class included: Andy Flack, Steve Cords, Paul Petersen, Ron Adams, Mike Cooper, Will Ottman, Chris Fatello, Sam Thompson, Nicholas Giles, and myself. During the “capping” ceremony at the end of this two day event, I had the pleasure of having my Scottish Rite 32 degree cap placed on my head by Dee LaCombe. Dee was the wife of Brother Dave LaCombe, a dear friend who passed away last year.

I may have mentioned before that I came to Masonry late in my life, although, I was introduced to the principles of Freemasonry at an early age, by a family that was and is very active in the fraternity and through participation in DeMolay. However, after I graduated from High School, I chose a different path; military service, college, and a professional career. Along the way, I gave my service in leadership roles to a professional society and the Boy Scouts. I didn’t become a Master Mason until I was 47 years old. Before that time, I didn’t realize that I had been searching for something more meaningful in my life. Since becoming a Mason, I have given my time and service to various Masonic organizations, applying what I had learned through a career of professional and public service.

For the last few years I have become aware of what Masonry has to offer to the serious student, and I have set off on a course of independent study of mediaeval and renaissance philosophy. I have been guided by authors like Frances Yates, who said:

“Where is there such a combination . . . of religious toleration, emotional linkage with the mediaeval past, emphasis on good works for others, and imaginative attachment to the religion and the symbolism of the Egyptians? The only answer to this question that I can think of is in Freemasonry, with its mythical link with the mediaeval masons, its toleration, its philanthropy, and its Egyptian symbolism."

I have continued to search for that which will make me a better husband, a better father, and a better citizen. This weekend’s Anchorage Scottish Rite Valley’s fall reunion, was another step in that search. I know that there are some who may be surprised by this revelation; that I waited this long to become a Scottish Rite Mason. All I can say is that for every man there is a path he must choose; a path, which if properly selected, will help direct him to true enlightenment. I have no regrets about waiting until I was 47 years old to choose Freemasonry, for I wasn’t ready to accept its teachings until that time. I do, however, regret that it took me this long to seek out Scottish Rite Masonry. I now believe, for me anyway, that the Scottish Rite has the philosophy and teachings that will assist me in my quest for “Further Light in Masonry”.

As Brother Winston Churchill said at the end of the Battle of Britian, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Friday, October 23, 2009

Building Boaz - UPDATE

Last week I had the opportunity to visit over the phone with Brother and Doctor John Nagy. John is the author of the recently published “Building Boaz”, the second volume in his series on uncommon catechisms for uncommon Masonic education. His first book in this series was titled “Building Hiram”. John has the great sense of finding patterns in Masonic ritual and presenting the relationships of the symbolism to an individual’s development in a unique manner. He begins each of his books with a catechism primer, where he presents the definition of catechism in the form of a catechism itself. He proceeds to introduce several topics in “Building Boaz” related to the First Degree and follows each with a catechism on that topic. Each of John’s books are excellent resources to assist in coaching and mentoring new Masons. They are also great tools to enhance Masonic Education within our lodges.

Dr. Nagy will be a guest on the Masonic Central podcast Sunday, October 25. Masonic Central airs live most Sundays at 6:00 PM Pacific Time. If you have the time and is free of commitments during its airing, I would encourage you to tune in. However, if you are like me, you will have to download the broadcast to listen to it as a later time. Dr. Nagy's books may be purchased on the Freemason Information Masonic Blog.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A New Master Mason

Last night I portrayed King Hiram during the Third Degree Drama for Brother Jeff Wilson at Aurora Lodge No. 15. Brother Jeff received a surprise visit from his wife’s uncle, WB Charles Tupper, who flew up to Anchorage to confer Jeff’s degree. WB Charles is a Past Master of St. John’s Lodge No. 9 in Seattle and a member of the Grand Lodge of Washington Technology Committee. The degree went off without any hitches and was exceptionally well performed by the officers and members of Aurora Lodge with a little help from brethren from Eagle River Lodge No. 13. WB Tupper obligated the candidate and conducted during the Drama. Senior Warden Dave Oaks assumed the East during the opening and closing of the lodge, WB Jim Griffith and VWB James Herrington performed their tag team presentation of the Historical Lecture, and WB Paul Gabbert delivered the Charged to the candidate. I was duly impressed and pleased to see this level of ritual performance in our lodges.

Brother Jeff is in the front row, third from the right in photo above. WB Charles is on his left.

There seems to be a rash of Third Degrees being performed lately. Tonight, Anchorage Lodge No. 17 will be performing this degree at the Anchorage Masonic Center. Also, Tanana Lodge No. 3 will be conferring two Third Degrees tonight at the Tanana Masonic Center in Fairbanks. On Tuesday, November 3, Aurora Lodge No. 15 will reprise their Third Degree performance at the Anchorage Masonic Center. Visit the Grand Lodge of Alaska Events Calendar to see what’s going on across the jurisdiction.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Cornerstone of America

The US Capital city was built along the Potomac River on land donated by Virginia and Maryland. In 1791 and 1792, Andrew Ellicott, with Benjamin Banneker and colleagues, slashed through the wilderness to survey the boundary of the United State’s new Federal City. Ellicott and his party placed marker stones every mile along the perimeter of the ten square mile parcel of land. These boundary stones constituted the first national monuments ever erected in this country. On the afternoon of April 15, 1791, under the direction of Benjamin Banneker, the mayor of Alexandria, several other dignitaries and the Freemasons of Alexandria marched south from Gadsby’s Tavern (then called Wise’s Ordinary) south to Jones Point on the Potomac River. There they erected the first of the forty boundary stones in full Masonic ceremony. This boundary stone then became the first National Monument ever erected in this country.

On Thursday of this week, Beth (and her brother David) and I drove south to Jones Point Park at the bottom of Lee St. We walked through the park, passed through a hole in a chain link fence, walked beneath the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, passed through another hole in the fence, and then to Jones Point Lighthouse. There, on the river side of the lighthouse and somewhat buried in the seawall, was the US Capital’s first boundary stone (only one of 36 of the original boundary stones remaining), first consecrated by the Masons of Alexandria. The stone is in an alcove in the seawall, which is covered by a grille. There is a hole in the top of the seawall to view the stone from above. Work accomplished to protect this first boundary stone was done by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

It is interesting to note that this portion of what was once part of the District of Columbia, laying south the Potomac River, was deemed too marshy for development and given back to the State of Virginia in the 1840s. It is now home to Arlington and Alexandria, VA, the Pentagon, and Arlington National Cemetery.

Monday, October 5, 2009

2009 Bienial Session - Supreme Council, Scottish Rite

Unto the divine light of the holy altar
From the outer darkness of ignorance
Through the shadows of our earth life
Winds the beautiful path of initiation

Beth and I arrived in Washington DC at 1:00 AM this morning, after traveling from the Grand Lodge of California. We are here attending the 2009 Biennial Session of the Supreme Council, 33degree, Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction.

At this morning’s session, I was introduced along with 31 other Grand Masters of the 35 Grand Lodges in the Southern Jurisdiction. Tomorrow afternoon will be the 33degree Conferral Ceremony. Alaskan members of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction elected to receive this honor include:

Dale Stephen Cain
Don Garrett Chaffin, II
Edward Joseph Malhoit
Samuel John Schwendner

Additionally, the following Alaskan Masons have been elected to receive the Knight Commander Court of Honor, KCCH (Red Hat):

John Kenneth Bishop
Dwane Lee Anderson
Marvin Bea Fitzpatrick
Arnold Samuel Vachss
James R. Herrington
John William Erickson, Jr.
David Worel
Charles Edward Rogers
Lawrence Edwin Schaufler

I congratulate all of these Brothers on their preferment.

This afternoon, Beth and I took a tour of the “House of the Temple”, the headquarters of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction is Washington D.C. The temple was modeled after the Mausoleum of Mausolus and designed by John Russell Pope. Ground was broken on May 31, 1911 and the cornerstone was laid on October 18, 1911. The building was dedicated four years later on October 18, 1915.

An alcove in the temple holds the remains of Confederate general and former Sovereign Grand Commander Albert Pike. Pike was the author of Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, a book that describes in detail the 33 ranks of Freemasonry, the stories and teachings associated with each rank, the rituals connected to each rank, and other lodge proceedings.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

160th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of California

The 160th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of California is currently taking place at the California Masonic Memorial Temple in San Francisco. Grand Lodge opened on ritualistic form yesterday morning, October 2. The ritual was performed very well in a deliberate manner with excellent floor work.

Yesterday evening, the visiting Grand Masters and their wives were invited to attend a dinner hosted by Grand Master Larry Adamson and his lady, Lynn. It was a wonderful evening with good food and good fellowship. We had an opportunity to visit with old friends and make new ones.

The regular business of Grand Lodge continued today, with discussion of resolutions, adoption of the budget and per capita, and the elections of Grand Lodge officers for 2009/2010. Kenneth G. Nagel was elected Grand Master, William J. Bray III was elected Deputy Grand Master, Frank Loui was elected Senior Grand Warden, and John F. Lowe was elected Junior Grand Warden.

During the noon break, I visited the Henry Wilson Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry and its curator, Adam Kendall. At the end of the business day, I had the honor of presenting Bill Bray with his Alaska Past Master’s apron from Kodiak Lodge No. 9.

This evening, Beth and I attended the Grand Master’s Banquet at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel. A highlight of this evening’s events was the Grand Master’s announcement that the members of the Grand Lodge of California had voted in favor of sharing its jurisdiction with the Grand Lodge of Iran in Exile.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Freemasons, Founding Father's and the Secrets of Washington, D.C.

Earlier this week, I finished reading Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol”. Casting about for something else to read, I picked up Chris Hodapp’s “Solomon’s Builders”. I had started reading this book a couple of months ago, and was about half way through it when I set it down to concentrate on Grand Lodge duties.

“Solomon’s Builders” is a well written and researched book and an excellent counterpoint to “The Lost Symbol”. Chris provides factual data about much of the information presented in Dan Brown’s mystery. It is interesting to note that Chris wrote “Solomon’s Builders” long before anyone knew what the plot Dan Brown’s newest offering would be. His title (“Solomon’s Builders”) was taken from the working title of and Brown’s latest book, which was speculated to be “Solomon’s Key” and ultimately became “The Lost Symbol”. As such, “Solomon’s Builders” is a completely independent effort. After reading “The Lost Symbol”, its hard to believe that Dan Brown did not borrow some from “Solomon’s Builders”.

I am reasonably sure that there will be a barrage of books that will be published in the next few months about “The Lost Symbol” or related to themes contained in it. These books will be written to cash in on the frenzy that is sure to surround Dan Brown’s latest book. However, if you are interested in Freemasonry and its influence on the founding of America, I recommend you pick up Chris Hodapp’s “Solomon’s Builders”, before you look to these “Johnny-come-latelys”, many of whom will have little or no personal knowledge of Freemasonry.

Chris does have a new book coming out later this year titled “Deciphering The Lost Symbol”. I guess he is not adverse to capitalizing on Dan Brown’s success, as well. However, knowing Chris, I am sure this will be another well written and entertaining book.