Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Two Worlds of Masonry

As I have been traveling around the country this year, I have been living in two separate and distinct worlds. One world consists of the “Real World” of the Blue Lodges and the appendent and concordant bodies. The other consists of the “Virtual World” of Freemasonry.

In the real world, flesh and blood Masons meet for fellowship to perform Masonic rituals and conduct business meetings. This population is characterized by men primarily in their 50s and 60s. Although, a whole generation younger than the “Greatest Generation”, this group generally shares a lot of the same conservative values of the WWII group. These real world Masons are the keepers of the Masonic flame; they keep alive the customs and traditions of Freemasonry and are wary of any changes in the manner in which Freemasonry is practiced. From my observation, this group has a greater interest in the philanthropy than in the philosophy of Masonry. Masons in this group are not only separated from the newer generation of Masons by age, they are also less technically astute. Many of them don’t use or have access to computers and those that do use them simply for communicating via email.

My other world is the virtual world of Freemasonry accessible through the Internet. The characteristics of this group are a little harder to pin down. Members of this group often identify themselves with pseudonyms like Masonic Traveler, Palmetto Bug, and The Millennial Freemason. They usually represent themselves with avatars rather than their true images. My guess would be that these Masons are generally in their 30s and 40s, however there appears to be a large number of Gen Xers among this group. That’s not to say that older Masons do not frequent the Internet. One regular follower of this blog is a 91 year old Past Grand Master. One thing that this group generally has in common is an interest in the symbolism, philosophy, and history of Freemasonry. They also have an interest in and discuss contemporary issues like Masonic Recognition, Female Freemasonry, and Masonic Baptism. They share this interest on the Internet through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, through blogs and podcasts, and on forum pages like The Masonic Society and Sanctum Sanctorum. These Masons are quite adept at the use of modern technology and use that technology to create Masonic content and share it with the world.

I realize that I am generalizing quite a bit, but from my perspective there is an ever widening gap forming between the legacy Masons in the “Real World” and the next generation Masons in the “Virtual World” who are seeking the promise of more light in Masonry. Also, from my perspective, the largest population of Masons exists in the “Real World” and they appear to be either unaware of the ways of or just disinterested in expanding their knowledge of Freemasonry. They seem more interested in making members rather than making Masons.

More and more men are seeking the promise of Freemasonry. These men are lured by the popular media and the information they glean from the Internet. The dilemma that exists is that, in order for these men to participate in our labors and privileges, they must first pass through the “Real World” of Freemasonry. They must ask to become a Mason, petition a lodge, and go through the ritual of initiation in the brick and mortar world. Some do not see this “Real World” of Masonry as representative of what they are seeking. Others, who go through our degrees, simply leave never to return, when they realize that in “Real World” Masonry philanthropy precedes philosophy and they are not interested in tedious business meetings.

For Freemasonry to survive and succeed, a bridge needs to be built between these two worlds. These two groups must be brought together, because the legacy Masons hold the keys to our customs and traditions and the next generation of Masons have the curiosity, energy, and enthusiasm to carry us into the future. As Freemasons are first and foremost builders, this should be an easy task. Unfortunately, our legacy Masons are either worn out from keeping Freemasonry alive for the past 40 to 50 years, they may not possess the necessary skills to perform this task, or they are just too comfortable in the models they have created for themselves to want to change. If this is truly the case, then the only option is for the next generation of Masons to reach back across the gap. This next generation must learn and appreciate our customs and traditions and be sensitive to the concerns of the legacy Masons; they must continue to examine the symbolism, philosophy, and history of Freemasonry, with an eye toward self improvement; and they must share their new insights with all, from the E-Mason to the legacy Mason. The next generation Mason must explore different models for the practice of Freemasonry and bring those models into the “Real World”.

Freemasonry is a powerful institution, which first improves the character of the individual Mason, and then, by his action, the entire community. The world (both real and virtual) is a better place because of Freemasonry. I have great confidence that we will continue to be a positive influence on the world, and as the world changes, Freemasonry will change to accommodate the quest of the individual Brother.

I live in both worlds of Freemasonry, and I share some of the characteristics of both groups. I am comfortable with the models of Freemasonry we practice in the “Real World”. Yet, I have a desire for something I find lacking in the way Freemasonry is practiced in this country. I wish to be a positive influence on making our Craft better, therefore I continue to be a seeker for more light in Masonry.

Scottish Rite Reception of the Grand Master

Yesterday evening, Beth and I again drove into Anchorage , where the Anchorage Scottish Rite Valley conducted a reception for the Grand Master. This event was held at the Lone Star Steak House. The food was great and the friendship and fellowship was even greater. A special thanks to Brother Dale S. Cain, 33 degree, for coordinating this event and all of the courtisies extended to Beth and me.

Four New Entered Apprentice

On Saturday monring, I drove into Anchorage to enjoy the conferral of the First Degree of Masonry on for candidates at Aurora Lodge No. 15. Each of the four First Degrees was conferred in succession by Brother Joe Dahl. The Master's Lecture was performed by WB John Bishop. It was great to witness such quality ritual work and to be present as four men started on their quest for Masonic Light.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

And Then There Were Five

On Tuesday evening, November 10, 2009, Carl L. “Bud” Banks was installed as the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge, F&AM of the State of Nevada. This was a historic occasion, as Bud represents the fifth installed Grand Master in 2009 who is also a member of the Grand Lodge of Washington. The five Grand Masters who share this distinction and their dates of installation are:

MW John R. “Bo” Cline, Grand Master of Alaska, February 6
MW D. Arthur Bush, Grand Master of Oregon, June 5
MW Gale H. Kenney, Grand Master of Washington, June 12
MW Kenneth G. Nagel, Grand Master of California, October 4
MW Carl L. “Bud” Banks, Grand Master of Nevada, November 10

Bud’s installation occured at the conclusion of the 145th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Nevada, which took place at the Peppermill Resort in Reno. The Annual Communication was presided over by MW David O. Martinez, Grand Master and had representatives present from the Grand Lodges of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Switzerland, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, including eight Grand Masters. The Grand Lodge of Alaska had by far the largest contingent with seven members present. Including myself, Alaskans present were RW Johnnie L. Wallace, DGM; RW James D. Grubbs, Grand Treasurer; MW Jared S. Decker, PGM; MW Fred V. Angleton, PGM; MW L. V. “Joe” Dees, PGM; and Brother Jerry Ingram.

Legislation of note included the rejection of a resolution to prohibit the conduct of a stated meeting on anything but the third degree and the withdrawal of the alternate Spanish Ritual. Additionally, Arthur K. Cronin (PGM), VW Grand Secretary and David J. Guinan (PGM), VW Grand Lecturer both announced their retirements from their respective offices. It was unanimously approved to make Art and David Grand Secretary Emeritus and Grand Lecturer Emeritus respectively. The newly elected Grand Lodge officers for the Grand Lodge of the State of Nevada for 2009 – 2010 include:

Carl L. “Bud” Banks, MW Grand Master
Reed R. Moseley, RW Deputy Grand Master
Hans J. Scheurer, RW Senior Grand Warden
Richard M. “Mike” Hoaglin, RW Junior Grand Warden
Michel P. Aurnague, VW Grand Treasurer
Larry W. Darling, VW Grand Secretary
James G. Kelly (PGM), VW Grand Lecturer

Beth and I had a wonderful time while attending this Grand Session and we owe a debt of gratitude to MW David Martinez and the officers and members of the Grand Lodge of Nevada for all of the courtesies extended to us.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lafayette Lodge International Night

Last night was the 81st Annual International Night Banquet and Reception sponsored by Lafayette Lodge No. 241, Grand Lodge of Washington, F&AM. This invitational reception was intended to honor sitting Grand Masters by giving them the opportunity to sign the famous Lafayette Lodge Bible. This Bible contains the signatures of many recognizable personalities collected over the past several years.

The Lafayette Signature Bible was originally given to Lafayette Lodge by their sponsoring Lodge Arcana No. 87. It is not documented as to how or who originally conceived the idea of obtaining signatures of famous and influential people. However over the many years, the lodge has obtained the signatures of political figures, movie personalities, military personnel, foreign dignitaries, local dignitaries, visiting Grand Masters, and all of the Worshipful Masters of Lafayette Lodge. Perhaps the most famous signature is that of the late president Warren G. Harding. President Harding boarded his train for Washington DC, shortly after signing the Lafayette Bible, and died during the night while on his train ride. His Press Secretary verified this was the last time his signature was ever applied in any form.

Other noted personalities who have signed this Bible include: Lynden B. Johnson; Astronauts Charlie Duke, John Young, and Ken Mattingly; Henry A. Kissinger; Carl Gustaf (King of Sweden); Frank S. Land 33rd degree; Dwight D. Eisenhower; Adm. Richard E. Bird; Akihito (Crown Prince of Japan); Barry Goldwater 33rd degree; Ronald Reagan; Bob Hope; Red Skelton 33rd degree; Noble Eddie Peabody; Walter F. Meier; Douglas MacArthur 33rd degree; Henry Clausen 33rd degree; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Charles A. Lindberg; Harry Truman; Neil Armstrong; and many many more.

This year, it was my great honor to be included in the class of 2009 Grand Masters who were given this wonderful opportunity. My fellow Grand Masters who participated in this event were: MWB Kenneth G. Nagel (Grand Lodge of California); MWB David C. Triplett (Grand Lodge of Idaho); MWB Thomas L. Lund (Grand Lodge of Montana) MWB D. Arthur Bush (Grand Lodge of Oregon); RWB Patrick I. Hughes, Sr., 33rd degree (representing MWB Kenneth B. Anthony, Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and Jurisdiction); MWB Brian Tuckey (Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon); and, of course, MWB Gale H. Kenney (Grand Lodge of Washington). All of these Grand Masters were accompanied by their ladies and special guests. I had the honor of having both my wife Bethany and my parents; Kelly and Marge Cline accompany me.

I wish to extend my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Worshipful Brother Robert P. Cittadini and all of the officers and brethren of Lafayette Lodge No. 241 for their great hospitality and the wonderful honor they bestowed on me. I wish to extend a special thanks to Worshipful Brother Leonard T. Hutchinson, who was our personal escort on this momentous occasion.