A Focus on Masonic Research, News, and other Tidbits

Homo sum; humani nihil a me alienum puto.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Freemasonry on the Moon

Tomorrow marks the fortieth anniversary of the first landing on the Moon by humankind. The second man to step foot on the Moon on 20 July 1969 was Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. – a Freemason from Clear Lake Lodge No. 1417 in Texas. Reportedly, Aldrin carried with him a small embroidered flag representing the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite. All types of conspiracy theorists have jumped all over that little piece of information. Heck, if Freemasons are already ruling the Earth it is only logical that they extend their reach to our closest neighbor in the Heavens.

It has long been circulated that the first man on the Moon, Neil A. Armstrong, was also a Mason. That does not appear to be the case. Even if Armstrong had been a Mason, it would still have been impossible to open Lunar Lodge No. 1 on 20 July 1969 since – as all Freemasons know – it takes more than two to do such a thing.

Besides – they would never have been able to get those altar candles to light in the Moon’s non-existent atmosphere.

The Purpose of Grand Lodge and Lodge Web Sites

Masonic Traveler over at Freemason Information has got a pretty interesting project going on. He is going State-by-State and examining Grand Lodge web sites. He has recently examined and commented on the web site of the Grand Lodge of California and – in a comment to his postTom Accuosti has posed an interesting question about the web sites. “Are they geared toward public use, or are they geared toward existing members?”

That is a very good question that could equally be extended to lodge web sites. I know that my own lodge’s site is primarily for the benefit of the members and I would have to say that my Grand Lodge’s site leans the same way. I have seen some other Grand Lodge and lodge web sites that seem to be aimed more towards the general public.

But what should the purpose of the sites be? Should they be primarily for the membership or for the public? The answer is ultimately up to each Grand lodge and lodge, but I do think that there should be a happy balance – with the balance tilting in favor of the existing membership.

If a site is geared too much towards public consumption, it runs the risk of having the appearance of solicitation or advertising. If there is nothing there, however, for the public; then an avenue has been blocked for men in this “Google” age to inquire about Freemasonry. Besides, there are plenty of web sites that will mislead the public about Freemasonry and the Grand Lodge web sites probably should be balancing this out with some accurate information.

As for tilting towards the existing membership, I believe the primary purpose of web sites should be to provide a means for easily spreading information to the members in a cost saving way. Calendars, newsletters, research sources, and messages to the Craft are just some of the things that can be included on web sites – as long as sensitive information is not involved – and can go a long ways towards saving on the cost of postage.

Personally, I look forward to Masonic Traveler’s continued examination of Grand Lodge web sites. Once he has completed this large project, it might be interesting to rank the sites according to which way they are geared – to the public or to the membership.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

GWMM on YouTube

While looking for something else on YouTube, I came across the following videos. The official web site of the George Washington Masonic Memorial can be found at http://www.gwmemorial.org/.

Working without a Paycheck

It has become my running little piece of humor – when Brothers inquire about how my time as a Grand Lodge officer is going – to reply with, “The Grand Master is working me hard and he doesn’t pay worth a durn (“darn” for you Northerners).”

Recently, during a long and late-night ride back home from an official visit to a lodge, I got to thinking about my little one liner. I do work hard for Freemasonry and I imagine that many of the folks reading this do the same. We serve as officers; participate in the various events of our lodges; learn ritual; and spend hard-earned money on dues, donations, and memberships in research societies – all without a paycheck from the Fraternity that we work so hard for.

I work hard at my usual vocation and I enjoy it to a certain extent. But I am like most folks in that I go to work in order to sustain or improve a certain level of lifestyle for myself and my family. To put it bluntly – I work at my usual vocation in order to get a paycheck. But why do so many work so hard for Freemasonry without the benefit of a paycheck at the end of the month?

Love – It has to be all about love. We love the Fraternity and what it stands for. We love being involved in sustaining her and being involved with our Brothers. We love talking and learning about Freemasonry. We love teaching others what we have learned through Freemasonry. We even love being involved in helping to get Freemasonry back on the right path after we – as imperfect men – have caused her to drift away from the proper course. Something about all of this is ultimately satisfying and maybe it is there – in that satisfaction of being involved in what we love – that we can find the pay for our toils.

There is no paycheck…but there is pay and this gig pays well.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Looks and Acts Like a Mason

Once upon a time, one of my many duties that I have had in the military included the review and processing of the evaluations prepared on officers and non commissioned officers. Sometimes, comments would be placed on these evaluations by less than fully inspired or imaginative evaluators. One of my all-time favorites went something like this: “Looks and acts like an officer” or “Looks and acts like a soldier.” I often asked myself when I saw these types of comments, “What in the heck else is he supposed to look and act like?”

If written evaluations were conducted on individual Freemasons, a comment of “looks and acts like a Mason” would probably be a bit more powerful than its military counterpart. Unlike members of the military, Masons do not wear standardized uniforms and they are not subject to a rigid structure that – by legal force if necessary – controls almost all aspects of their daily lives. There is much more free will involved in looking and acting like a Mason than is involved in looking and acting like a soldier.

There is also another aspect to be considered here. There is really only one way for service members to look and act. But how does one determine the way that a Mason is to look and act? If you asked a hundred Masons this question, you would probably get about a hundred different answers. I do think, however, that most dedicated Freemasons can generally agree that if the individual Mason looks and acts in such a way so as to bring honor to the Fraternity, then he looks and acts like a Mason.

What say you? What constitutes looking and acting like a Mason?