Saturday, March 24, 2007

Lambskin Apron and Salvation

A brother at Excelsior Lodge website has posted an excellent response to the Five Common Accusations leveled against the fraternity by certain Evangelical groups.

I chimed in with my response, because due to differences between Jurisdictions I believe his answer would have been inadequate to answer for the ritual here in Oregon.

Please read the original post, but I also include my comment here for my readers to likewise ponder:

Brother, well done on this response. I do have a different perspective on some of this, however. First, to keep the secrets of a Brother Master Mason. In my case I have seen this used more akin to clergy-parishioner confidentiality than for seeking financial help, but it is still used for seeking help. For example, Brother A. could approach Brother B. for counsel on a difficult life situation, and request Brother B.'s confidentiality, thereby trusting Brother B to give good counsel or aid in the situation while keeping the personal details secret. It is not for use in covering crimes, as, at least in my jurisdiction, breaking the law especially when it involves moral turpitude would be grounds for expulsion from the Fraternity, at which point one would no longer be required to extend the courtesy of treating the individual as a Brother Master Mason, in my opinion.

Second, and something that I have given thought to, is the allegation that Masonry teaches salvation. While in your jurisdiction it may only be hinted at in the portion of the apron lecture which you shared, in my Jurisdiction the language of the ritual does go a little further. I will share what is applicable, omitting portions for brevity:

"... And when at last ... from your nerveless grasp shall drop forever the working tools of life ... may the record of your life ... be as pure and spotless as this fair emblem [referring to the apron] ... And when your trembling soul shall stand ... before the Great White Throne, may it be your portion to hear ... 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'"

More than this, the lecture given at the end of the Entered Apprentice degree contains the following:

"He, therefore, who wears the lamb skin as the badge of a Mason, is continually reminded of that purity of life and rectitude of conduct so essentially necessary to his gaining admission to the celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the Universe Presides."

This, in my opinion, is probably the most controversial part of our regular Masonic work, but I have not ever heard it directly criticized. I personally make no apology for this section, however. I would hope that "Heaven" (or the CLA) is viewed by all good men as a place where purity is to be found. While some religions will take no objection to this type of language, certain Christians often do, and so to them I would suggest that this passage may be applicable in the following way (and excuse the specific Christian language, but they are the ones to whom I am proposing this solution) - We, each and all of us, will get symbolic "spots" and blemishes on our aprons, making us impure (Every man has sinned and falls short...) and perhaps it is actually Jesus who has provided that "purity of life and rectitude of conduct so essentially necessary" on your behalf, since you are yourself incapable of it? The lambskin in this case becomes a symbol of Jesus, who is, after all, referred to by John the Baptist, one of the claimed Patron Saints of Freemasonry, as The Lamb of God. This interpretation turns the apron into a beautiful Christian symbol, for the Christian. Of course, others may view it as they see fit, and no Mason has the right to expect his particular interpretation to be accepted by any other.

Lest my above comment scare anyone, as it is only a sampling of the lectures, let me assure you that this is the closest our ritual gets to being guilty of this particular accusation. I have shared the worst of it, so to speak, and its all smooth sailing from there, so far as this point is concerned.

I hope this was helpful to some.

Friday, March 23, 2007


I was this evening made a member of Solomon Council #222 Allied Masonic Degrees. We had an open meeting over dinner at Elmers Restaurant in Medford, Oregon. Bro. Carl Carlson shared some educational historical information concerning ancient York Masonry out of a book put out by the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons. This seems like a great group of Masons who are serious about their Masonry, and I am proud to have been selected to become a member.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Program to Improve the Craft

Brethren and other Interested Parties, there has been much talk lately about the declining numbers in the craft. I am not so concerned about this as I am about the declining quality of the craft. As we make concession after concession to try to fix our membership problem we unavoidably mar the ancient beauty of our Order.

I would suggest that we take matters into our own hands, both individually and as the group of Internet-savvy Masons and friends that we are. Lets start by asking ourselves, what type of Fraternity are we looking for? What type of people do we want in it? What do *I* want to make Freemasonry into?

I've already started this in my life, by choosing to associate with and be open and informative to those people whom I think would make good Masons. I haven't even bent the rule concerning solicitation, which so many people feel is a necessary breach -- it isn't. And I've got five candidates in the pipeline already, currently, over whom I was a either a primary or supportive direct influence. This isn't about sharing Masonry with everyone. I personally think we could use more of certain types of people in the Fraternity, and I am sculpting my Lodge into that picture the best way I know how. But, I want to work on a larger scale... and that's where you come in.

I would like to open an informal discussion between all the Masonic bloggers who care to participate where we can develop those types of questions posed above on both individual and group levels. After we determine what we want, I would like to see how much Internet muscle we have as a group, and what specific projects we might be able to undertake to help "funnel" the right kind of people to the appropriate Grand Lodge or local Lodge websites or to our own email inboxes if necessary, to find those who have already been made Masons in the hearts and help them to make it official. If we work collectively, we must be able to achieve something more than what our individual efforts can accomplish.

When I Google "Masonic blog", KSL comes up third on the list. I consider this a success for Masonry, and it gives us a viable platform as bloggers, but we can probably pour our efforts into something even better. Are there areas that the current round-up of Masonic websites are lacking in? Or, are there areas that they excel in which are not being harnessed into situations where the reader asking for a petition becomes possible? and are both great sites for information, but they are still written towards people who are already Masons and are already familiar with the jargon of Masonry. I've attempted to assemble a Grand Lodge web directory on my Ancient Craft Masonry page at KSL.

I will be disappointed if I don't see either comments here, or posts at your own blogs outlining what you are doing or are prepared to do individually to improve the quality of the craft and the people in it, in your area, and what you think we should focus on as a group to help bring the most desirable types of people (not just the most people) from the web into a situation where they may eventually be able to petition a Lodge. So, get to work!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Laurel Lodge is Busy!

I got a couple of comments from some local narcissist Brethren who recently found my blog by Googling their own names. I'm happy to know that some locals are reading.

Laurel Lodge is busy in these next few months.

This evening, March 13, we're holding a Special Communication to confer the Fellowcraft Degree upon Brother Mackintosh and Brother Stokes. I will be delivering the Lecture. I helped arrange the degree team not more than an hour ago, and we managed to pull it together. This is probably the most quickly organized degree I've ever heard of. I'll post back on whether it goes well or not, I believe it will.

Tomorrow evening we hope to confer the Entered Apprentice Degree upon Adam Howard. He is going to be leaving for two years in April so we are trying to accelerate his work to get it done before he goes, since we sat on his petition for quite some time. If we can't do it tomorrow, we're going to hold a Special Communication on Saturday and do it then instead. I will be sitting in the East and doing the Lecture for that degree. I also joked our Brethren for tonight's FC degree and told them that I expect them to have their proficiency ready to pass off by the next evening. What's scary is, they might actually do it!

We will hold another special communication on March 24 to examine Adam on his proficiency and (hopefully) to confer the Fellowcraft degree upon him.

Our Lodge is having a St. Patrick's Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner on March 28, and we will also examine any of our candidates who are prepared on their Fellowcraft proficiencies on that night. We're also balloting on a candidate who petitioned last month.

In April the Shrine Circus in Roseburg is going on the same day that we have our first stated meeting (April 11), so we are taking it easy and having a Master Mason Degree for Adam Howard scheduled for the following Saturday and one for Brother Stokes at our stated communication on the 25th. We will be passing off Adam's Master Mason proficiency before he leaves, if the blessing of heaven can attend us in accomplishing this task.

I counted it up and by my reckoning we have thirteen degrees to confer before this summer.

My personal goal is to become proficient at sitting in the East on all three degrees, and most particularly to become familiar with the part of King Solomon in the Master Mason degree, although being only 25, I feel too young for the part.

I'm excited to see all the new candidates coming into Lodge, and I look forward to working with them in the future as they begin to participate in our degree work.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My Masonic History

Hearing some of the older Brethren recall exactly which dates they took their degrees, I figured I should document this stuff somewhere.

I was...
Initiated October 23, 2002. (Fourth Wednesday)
Passed November 27, 2002. (Fourth Wednesday)
Raised January 29, 2003. (Fifth Wednesday - I wonder why? This isn't the stated night.)
Laurel Lodge #13 AF&AM of Oregon.

My Entered Apprentice Degree was conferred by:

W.M. Paul Temple
S.W. Ken Karlinger, District Deputy
J.W. Larry Lane
S.D. Robert Mallory
J.D. Russ Howard
S.S. Roy McCoy
J.S. Lynn Masker
Chaplain: Ralph Simmons
Lecture: Dick Grabinski, P.M.
Charge: Lynn Masker
Apron Presented by: Paul Temple

My Fellowcraft Degree was conferred by:

W.M. Larry Lane
S.W. Ed Bouwsema, Worshipful Master
J.W. Ken Karlinger, District Deputy
S.D. Paul Temple
J.D. Robert Mallory
S.S. Roy McCoy
J.S. Lynn Masker
Chaplain: Ralph Simmons
Lecture: Jim Phillips, Past Master
Charge: Lynn Masker

The first section of my Master Mason degree was conferred by:

W.M. Paul Temple
S.W. Larry Lane
J.W. Wes Cooper, Past Master
S.D. Lynn Masker
J.D. Roy McCoy
S.S. Tim Randall
J.S. Russ Howard
Chaplain: Dave Sherman

The second section was conferred by:

K.S. Robert Parkhill, Past Master
S.G.W. Roland Davis, Past Master
S.D. Wes Cooper, Past Master
J.D. Roy McCoy
1st F.C. Robert Mallory
2nd F.C. Clay Jordan, Past Master
3rd F.C. Ken Karlinger, District Deputy
1st R. Jim Phillips, Past Master
2nd R. Ed Bouwsema, Worshipful Master
3rd R. Paul Temple
S.C. Roy McCoy
W.F.M. Roy McCoy
Chaplain: Dave Sherman
Secretary: John Youngquist, Past Master
Lecture: Tim Randall
Charge: Wes Cooper, Past Master
Instructions: Lynn Masker
Presentations: Masonic Pin from Ed Bouwsema, Trowel from Paul Temple

I served as Junior Steward during 2004.
I took a Masonic sabbatical during 2005 ;-)
I served as Senior Steward during 2006.
I am currently serving as Senior Deacon for 2007. (Our Junior Deacon went off to college.)

As a Candidate, I was mentored by Russ Howard. When I started to learn the lectures for the degree work, I was mentored by Delmar Hockersmith, Bob Parkhill, and Paul Temple. Ken Karlinger and Wes Cooper have been quite helpful for the other parts of the work, although I can take to the short dialogue sections quite easily after having heard them a few times.

During 2004 I had done the First Fellowcraft part on the second section of the Master Mason degree a few times, although I no longer have it memorized as well as I used to.

I have also worked as Senior Deacon in the degree work (first section) on the several degrees a few times. During 2004 I had delivered the EA Lecture at least once, and the FC Lecture a couple of times, but I currently need to brush up on them, as they are not properly committed to memory and I am missing words in some places.

I sat in the East for the first time to confer the Entered Apprentice Degree upon my father-in-law, Larry Stokes, and also upon Justus Mackintosh, on December 13, 2006.

I sat in the East at Maple Lodge in Riddle on Monday, February 19, 2007 to confer the First section of the Master Mason degree, and played First Fellowcraft in the second section.

I have been mentoring Justus Mackintosh and Larry Stokes who both passed off their Entered Apprentice proficiencies on February 28, 2007.

I sat in the East at Maple Lodge in Riddle on Monday, March 5, 2007 to confer the First section of the Master Mason degree upon Brother Tom Little, and played First Fellowcraft in the second section.