Saturday, June 07, 2008

Followup - European Concept Royal Arch

Instead of doing a follow-up on our EC Royal Arch Meeting, which has already been done elsewhere online, I want to make a follow up post to the comments which were made on my last post on the subject.

We got mixed response online. The most recent anonymous commentor wrote the following:

I am an Oregon Mason and I can say that there is a small but very vocal clique here that is trying to insist that a tuxedo is the minimum required dress for attending lodge. This appears to be their playground.

Not only is this impractical and expensive, but I believe it steers away from what our Masonry should be about - meetings of men, not contests to see who can outdo the other in finery.

As far as I am concerned, as long as a brother Mason has it in his heart, his fashion choices are his own business.

I want to respond to this at length:

To the most recent Anonymous,

Dear Brother, I am familiar with the "small but very vocal clique" of which you speak. For the record, I'd like to say that I am not part of it. I believe that a man should be able to attend Lodge in whatever clothing he is able to, provided that he tries to present himself in as clean and well dressed a way as is possible. I welcome those who take the time to attend Lodge even after a hard day of work and are unable to take the time to travel home, change, and return before Lodge begins. To me it is more important that they appear at Lodge than that they tend to such minor details. I believe, however, that the Worshipful Master of a Lodge should have the ability to specify what he expects out of his group of officers, particularly the Wardens, and that they should do what they can to comply with the Master's plan for the year.

I will step up and say that I, personally, am the primary instigator of this European Concept Royal Arch endeavor which we are trying to establish in Roseburg. Without my zeal and personal efforts in planning, the prospect of having Royal Arch Masonry in Roseburg would not, at this time, be anywhere on the radar. There have been attempts to revive it in the past, which have thus far failed. I was not involved in those attempts, as I was not a member of York Rite at the time they were made. Most (but not all) of the people involved in this endeavor were likewise not involved in the previous attempt.

What we are working on is a very specific undertaking and is not intended to reflect any policy recommendation on how Masonry as a whole, or in general, works in this area or throughout the state. Many of the ideas actually came from a Brother Master Mason, who is looking forward to joining the Chapter in the near future, and expressed his ideas to me. I agreed with his ideas, and brought them before the Companions that I have been working with, and we eventually found that the principles of Norwood Chapter in Alberta very nearly corresponded to what we had in mind, so we decided to follow their example. At the first planning meeting we had, I am happy to report that ten of us made a successful effort in meeting the proposed dress code, and that the nominated Excellent High Priest (Larry Stokes, who was nominated that evening) has since expressed to me his satisfaction in the dress code and th compliance these Companions have made to it.

I will also say that there were some, perhaps three Companions, in attendance at our May planning meeting who would not have been present at all if our goal was not E.C. They are participating in this because the E.C. is motivational, and they aren't seeking Dual Membership just to have Dual Membership. They want Dual Membership so that they can participate in both an E.C. Chapter and their existing Chapter.

We are a fairly diverse group of Masons, some young, some old, and have come together for the purpose of eventually working the degrees of Capitular Masonry which we love, according to these European Concept principles, which we find personally inspiring. We have in this endeavor Companions from Salem, Eugene, Roseburg, Grants Pass, and Medford, and we do not therefore represent any clique, particularly not any previously existing clique with an agenda. This is a new and young endeavor which we are looking forward to. Those who are complaining here online have simply not come forward and expressed any interest in Royal Arch in Roseburg, and apparently did not respond to the invitation that was sent out on the Oregon York Rite E-Mail Newsletter. Why would we undercut our own ideas in order to accommodate those who won't even take the time to come and participate with us, or talk with us?

We WANT to do something different. We want to have an interesting program, and make it into a more interesting organization. We believe that this will not only help our own enjoyment, but help the organization to be attractive to others so that it will grow. Many Masonic organizations around the state and around the country are failing in their membership goals. Yes, failing. Our numbers are steadily declining. In Grants Pass York Rite bodies we have had more members pass away, or dropped for NPD than we have had new Exaltations. Maintaining the status quo, and not doing anything different, is going to solve the problem! Those who are refusing to support any change whatsoever are putting a death sentence on the Fraternity. We need change. Now, not all change is good. Some changes will help, and others will not. But those who have the guts to try to effect change are at least trying to do something!

So I have two main things I would like to express here:

1. We are not an existing clique who has made this Royal Arch endeavor into our "playground."
Please, don't confuse us with anyone else. We are our own group.

2. I am worried that the comments received on the previous post about E.C. Royal Arch reflect a trend in Masonry where a Lodge, Chapter, or other body is not allowed to have unique "character." Why do some feel the need to enforce in Masonry an attitude of maintaining the lower-common-denominator rather than building upon the interests of the brethren? Should not a local organization be able to have its own style, its own agenda, its own goals?

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Path

Hot on the heels of some wonderful prose by Traveling Man, I have decided to share a poem I wrote back in April. It has some layers to it that need to be peeled away. This is one where I pretty much let the pen do the writing for me. Now, without further adieu,

The Path, by Jeff Day.
(April 30, 2008)

Three ears wane in the old fountain, where twenty fish to feed.
   A quail to quell the sounding bell, high in the upper plane.
Fifteen priests from diverse lands convene to hear the plea
   of a young lad beckoning to free the restless tree.

Ages have expired since it last did take a breath.
   Twelve holy fruits it bore, and twelve leaves formed its dress.
"My mother and my father both have eaten from this tree.
   Why then dost thou fear it; why keepest it from me?"
"Our ruling is immaculate," the Aged Ones proclaimed,
   "but those who've followed after us have not held it esteemed."

Beasts of pain bearing angel-bane walk on the fire scorched path.
   They fight the light in brilliant might, with condemnation, wrath.

"To you we grant the power now to make our wishes so;
   to sow the ancient seed so that these fruits may forward go.
Pluck from off the tender lofty branch a glist'ning pod!
   So sweet, so dear, partake, young man, and make of thee a God."
"But if I do as thou hast said, of twelve fruits, one I'd taste,
   and one eternal fate I'd choose. Eleven shall I waste?"

Ten vultures loom o'er certain doom, as permeates the ring.
   Below, five row against the flow while others work in vain.
'Til harvest season next year round the tree shall stand depleted,
   for twelve were needed, twelve were found. One round completed.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

I'm glad Masons aren't Bigots.

... usually. *sigh*

I've been having a stressful day. I've been ill for a couple days, but on top of that, I feel like my last post got tarred and feathered, not by any of my Masonic brethren, but by some anonymous drive-by bigot. Well, at least he did the tarring. The feathers came first with a well meaning Mormon chap whom may turn out to be a friend once I get to know him. The thing that is sad to me is that when this kind of thing happens, my regular readers, whose opinions I actually want to hear, probably get turned off by it, and don't want to jump into the line of fire. I don't blame you. I would almost revoke the post or delete the comments if that sort of thing weren't against my personal blogging principles.

Masonry is personal, deep, and can be religious (although it is not a religion), and to each brother unique and profound meanings may be discovered. While the Lodge isn't generally the place to promote these discoveries, there is benefit in sharing them in a forum such as online, when appropriate, as long as we aren't trying to say our idea is the only correct one. I believe I see what my Christian brothers find in the fraternity, and I would love to hear details about what Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Native American, and various types of Pagan brethren find in it. It is a joy to me to see a brother taking the symbols and applying them, and finding greater depth. Moreover, many of the ideas any brother finds may apply, perhaps with some minor adjustments, to my own belief system as well.

Among our Brethren, generally, we have a good respect for one another. I know I feel loved and accepted among my brethren in spite of my odd beliefs. Not all of them know exactly how odd they are, but those that have had discussions with me and do know some of my ideas still treat me with dignity, and never make belittling remarks. Well, usually. There can be a joke now and then, but such is made in good fun, and not meant as an attack, and I don't take it as such.

Why do these anonymous buggers have to come and ruin my day by thrashing on Mormonism and post links to anti-Mormon propaganda when I am clearly not their target? I don't even agree with such basic things as Mormon theology or scriptural canon. You're attacking the wrong guy, you anonymous a$$#@!%s -- but alas, that's not the point! WHY are you attacking anyone? It's rude. It isn't righteous. It makes you look like fools, and it couldn't possibly be helping any religious agenda of your own. You are just trying to pick a fight and be a nuisance. Well, guess what: If that's all your agenda is about then you don't matter at all. You're small, like an ant. I can squish you with my mental power alone.

Brethren, thank you for being with me as I rant.