Sunday, December 2, 2018

Jesus Isn’t Everyone’s Reason for the Season


Your season, perhaps. There’s a multitude of other faiths that have holy days this time of year. You may not share their belief, but you don’t have to be rude about it. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Pleasured to Join AMD and KM

Recently it was my immense pleasure to join the Allied Masonic Degrees and Knight Masons. A little history on the two organizations, if you aren't familiar.

First, AMD:
The Allied Masonic Degrees are an invitational organization, and requires membership in the Royal Arch as well as the Symbolic Lodge. Membership is limited to 27 members per council.

The Allied Masonic Degrees are detached degrees some of which, many years ago, were conferred under Craft warrants and formed part of the then loosely governed Freemasonry of the period.

Many of these detached degrees became dormant in some places, although in others they were conferred as side degrees. In time, the better of these degrees were grouped together in an organized body under the title of Allied Masonic Degrees.

In addition to perpetuating these degrees, there is still another and equally important purpose. It is to bring together, in small groups, Freemasons who are interested in the advancement of all Masonry, preparing themselves to better serve the Craft through the medium of study and research.
Study? Research? Oh my, you're talking my language here. As someone who loves to study the history and development of our Craft, I think I'm right at home. Judging by the works printed in Miscellanea, their research journal, I've joined an educated and well-versed group of gentlemen.

Also, a bit of history on the Knight Masons:
The Grand Council of Knight Masons of the United States of America, in consideration of its origin strives to:

1. Perpetuate the ancient rituals of the Irish Masonic Canon, (the "Green" degrees) by promoting their frequent and regular conferral inits constituent councils, and by its expectation that such conferral will be executed with an accuracy, a precision, and a dramatic power congruent with the highest traditions of the Masonic institution.

2. Elevate to membership in its constituent councils only those Freemasons who in their character and persons have amply and thoroughly demonstrated in their Masonic lives, by means of a faithful attachment to the institution, a true and honorable record of service to its goals, and a genuine dedication to its high ideals.

3. Foster in its constituent councils the regular exploration and study of the Masonic Tradition and Heritage by means of an aggressive program of scholarly inquiry and research, and to pursue that Masonic learning in the spirit of our Celtic forbears who kept the light of faith burning in times of darkness.

4. Encourage its constituent councils to discover in the pleasures and diversions of the festive board that warm fellowship and that joyous fraternity, which have ever characterized and actuated the great spirit of this Ancient Craft.

5. Promote the charitable dimension so central to, and inherent in, Masonic life and tradition by obliging its constituent councils to contribute with customary Masonic liberality to those institutions, both Masonic and non-Masonic, which serve the needs of the greater community. 
I found the Knight Masons to have similarity to Knights Templar, with some obvious differences. I will have to compare/contrast the degree work. Perhaps I've found a subject for an AMD research paper?

Unfortunately the groups only meet every six months and are nearly three hours' drive away. The trip is well worth it however. The group of Brothers and Cousins that invited me to join is a diverse collection of personalities and ages. I eagerly look forward to our Spring meetings!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

May 14, 2018: Presented a Scholarship

WM Voss, Scholarship Recipient, Myself
Last evening I was able to assist in one of my favorite things I've done as a Freemason.  WM Keith Voss and I had the pleasure of presenting a scholarship to a local high school senior.

I also was able to present the scholarship last year.  I've included some of the remarks I gave at that time.  (I was fortunate to have my own speech prepared, as another area Lodge was presenting a scholarship and read the same boilerplate speech I was given by Grand Lodge.)

Freemasons have always been interested in education. Ours is the only fraternal organization which urges its members to study what we refer to as The Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences. These are grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, music, astronomy and geometry.

From the very inception of the country, Freemasons have advocated and supported public schools. Brother George Washington, in a letter to John Adams, said, "Wise and judicious modes of education, patronized and supported by communities, will draw together the sons of the rich and the poor, among whom it makes no distinction; it will cultivate the natural genius, elevate the soul, excite laudable emulation to excel in knowledge, piety, and benevolence; and finally it will reward its patrons and benefactors by shedding its benign influence on the public mind."

Since its official formation in 1717, Freemasonry has developed into a worldwide fraternity emphasizing personal study, self-improvement, and social betterment via individual involvement and philanthropy.

During the late 1700s, Freemasonry was one of the organizations most responsible for spreading the ideals of the Enlightenment, which were the dignity of man, the liberty of the individual, the right of all persons to worship as they choose, the formation of democratic governments, and the importance of a public education.

Grand Master De Witt Clinton, when Governor of New York, championed the cause of public schools so strongly that he became known as the Father of Public Schools in that state.

Grand Master Benjamin Franklin vigorously urged the adoption of a public school system in Pennsylvania, and established the first public high school in America. Prior to this, education past the 8th grade was reserved for the wealthy and powerful.

Throughout much of America, Freemasons were directly responsible for establishing and promoting public school systems in their communities. It is our belief that an education is key to a peaceful and equal society.
Until next time, timendi causa est nescire.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

I've been insanely busy lately. Please excuse the lack of posts.

Quick update, for those who enjoy reading about my exploits.  I'm currently serving as Junior Warden of Jackson Lodge #42, Excellent High Priest of Monroe Chapter #125, (Something I can't remember) in Triad Council #46, and Junior Warden of Zerubbabel Commandry #69.  I'm also wedged into some other stuff that's equally time-consuming.  Busy busy busy.

On top of that, both my Blue Lodge and York Rite lodges have candidates coming through.  At the same time.  My Blue Lodge hasn't had a candidate since I joined two years ago.  And now there's a guy joining at the same time the York Rite lodge is running a guy through it's nine degrees.  I never expected that to happen.  That's blue-moon levels of rarity around here.  Not that I'm complaining by any stretch, however.

It's a good problem to have though, particularly in this day and age.  Learning all the Senior Deacon parts for Chapter while trying to brush up on Hiram in Council, all while hardly being home of an evening due to Lodge, baseball, and other commitments, is stressful to say the least.  But it's worth it to see new Brothers join and advance in the Craft and it's teaching.  It'd just be nice if it didn't all happen at once.

At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old Past Master, which would be hard since I'm neither old, nor a Past Master*, I sincerely do hope these new guys learn the work and help out.  It's rough when the same group of six to seven guys has to put on every single degree.

*In the "I used to be WM" sense.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Week of Thanks

(Disclaimer - the following topic was shamelessly stolen from /r/freemasonry.)

I normally eschew public proclamations of thankfulness this time of year.  First, because I've always been a contrarian trend-bucker.  If everyone else is doing it, count me out.  Second because, as my wife says, how ironic it is that we spend eleven months a year complaining about this, that, and the other, and then spend a twelfth talking about how thankful we are for all of it.

But I'm at work, the day is slow, and I'm in the mood to be thankful.  So here we go:

Number 1: My family.  Yes, my oldest is lazy-ish, my middle is a heathen, and my youngest is a rebellious squirt that will likely give me gray hair, but I love them.  Along with their mother, who's pretty awesome too. 

The oldest is a bookworm just like her dad, so I can't complain.  The middle child is just as much of a trouble-maker as I was when I was younger.  And the rebellious young one?  Well, I'm guilty for that one also.  If they continue in the path I followed, it will all work out for the best in the end, and for that I am thankful. 

I'd best not forget their mother.  She'd never let me forget it if I did.  She's like that.  But I'm forgetful at times, so that's a good thing.  Most importantly, she puts up with my crap.  What kind of crap? Well, as stated, I'm the adult version of a rebellious heathen who likes to read and joke around.  Take a guess what kind of sarcastic semi-adult I am.  But she loves me for it, and for that I am exceptionally thankful.

Number 2: My job.  Yes, it's stressful.  Yes, it's annoying at times.  Yes, there are certain aspects that drive me batsh*t crazy.  But I love what I do, I love where I work (five-minute commutes are excellent), and I make enough money to cover most expenses.  What more can a person ask for?  It's a challenge I enjoy that allows me the autonomy to grow and expand my skill sets.

Number 3:  My home.  I would much rather live somewhere else.  Down south for the warmth, or Chicago for the entertainment and history.  But I don't - I still live in the town I grew up in, two houses down from the home my Grandmother used to babysit me in.  As I child I dreamt of how far I'd travel and what foreign nations I'd live in, often while setting on the front porch steps I can see out my living room window.

I did move away for a while, but came back.  It was the hardest decision I'd ever made.  Being gone for a year made me realize all that much more how much I didn't want to live here.  Family ties are strong however.  Both mine and my wife's families live in this town.  It's helpful to have others to help out with the kids.  I'll give it that much.

Back to my home - when I thought of what type of property I'd like to have, yard, style, trees, etc., my thoughts always were based on the large two-story with an acre yard at the end of my grandma's street.  And here I am, twenty-five years later, living in that very house.

So while I didn't travel Europe, spend time in South America, and build a hand-hewn log home in the Alaskan frontier, I do live in a home I've admired since childhood.  It's not perfect, but it's mine.  And I'm thankful for that.

Number 4: My Lodges.  It may be cliché, but I am thankful for the Lodges that have accepted me as a Brother.  No, Freemasonry is not as exclusive as it once was, but I've no doubt that I would have been as welcome in times of restriction as now.  I've experienced immeasurable personal growth, made many new friends, and have been exposed to thousands of pages of wisdom.  I've been given opportunities to lead as well as to follow.  I have been accepted as a member of the world's oldest and most storied fraternity, and for that I am exceptionally grateful.

And finally, Number 5: The 2015 Chicago Cubs.  Hey, it's not all seriousness here.  I have to mention my favorite sports team having its best season in decades.  If you're anything close to familiar with American professional baseball, you'll understand why this is such a big deal.  For my English bretheren, imagine a team with the popularity of Manchester U, the history of Sheffield, and the success of Swindon Town nearly winning the Premier League.  (Disclaimer - my knowledge of English Football history is limited to twenty minutes of study on Wikipedia.)  All this while winning awards for best manager, best... goalie?, and best first-year professional player.  It's kind of a big deal. 

The Cubs haven't won a championship in 108 years.  In that time, they have only 8,403 wins against 8,516 losses - a less-than-impressive .497 winning percentage.  If they were an English football team, they'd probably be in the lowest division possible.  (Again, limited football knowledge garnered from Wikipedia.)  For them to nearly make it to the World Series this year, let alone win it?  Mind-boggling.  I have relatives who lived their entire lives wanting the Cubs to win who have been dead for a decade.  Let that sink in a bit.  Depressing, isn't it?

Yet we still cheer them on, we still watch them play, and we still get a little saddened when the season is over.  One day they'll win it all.  Maybe not in my lifetime, maybe not in the next, but sometime.  And it will be wonderful.  And I suspect a sign of Armageddon.  But hey, it'll be worth it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

New Elections for the Coming Year

Greetings, Bretheren.  It's been some time since I've posted here.  I see the pageviews keep coming, so thank you dearly for that support.

It's Winter, and with that time of year comes Lodge election season.  I'm honored to have been elected as Junior Warden of Jackson Lodge #42 in Centerville, Iowa.  I will gladly serve my brothers as the office calls for, and then some.  (Hello Lodge pizza party!)

Rumor has it I may be drafted elected to office in my local Royal Arch Chapter as well.  I consider that a tremendous honor, as I've not held office previously in that body, nor have I yet been Exalted for a year.  I am humbled by the mere suggestion that I should hold office, let alone be elected to such.

This Saturday, the 21st of November, is the fall York Rite Festival in Des Moines, Iowa.  I will hopefully be in attendance for much of the day, dependent upon the weather.  Central Iowa is to experience its first winter storm of the year, and of course on a day I've been looking forward to for weeks.  I do hope to make it, as it will be my first chance to observe the Order of the Temple as a Sir Knight.

Plus, as an added bonus, a Brother and I plan on meeting up for a post-festival herf at one of the many cigar lounges Des Moines has to offer.  I don't make it up that way very often, but when I do, I can't help but pick up a Cain Daytona, Oliva G, or Romeo y Julietta, and some nice pipe tobacco.  Something about the antiquity of Freemasonry and a nice pipe or cigar seem to go well together.

On the note of pipes and cigars, I've been floating around the idea of a cigar shop hop.  Essentially, a group of Masons who are also cigar enthusiasts meet at a predetermined location and spend the day visiting cigar shops and lounges.  My wife does something similar with some quilting friends.  It's a great way to get together and share a common hobby.  Plus, if enough of us Brothers sign on, we could possibly arrange for discounts from participating shops.  If you live in Central Iowa and would like to show interest, please let me know in the comments below.

Moving on, work has begun on a project that I've been considering for some time.  I cannot go into much detail at this time, but will say that it looks to be a huge undertaking that will be quite rewarding if done properly.  Perhaps in the coming weeks I will be able to divulge more.  Stay tuned for more information and updates.

I've been reading a number of Masonic books lately, mostly related to Chapter and Council.  The amount of quality works written on Masonic and related esoteric topics continues to astound me.  In today's world, anyone can write a book on anything and instantly publish it.  This wasn't so in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries.  Not only did many Brothers write quality works on The Craft, but they were able to justify the no-doubt considerable cost associated with printing them.  I'm so glad that our past Bretheren had the knowledge and foresight to preserve these books for future generations.

In closing, I'd like to draw your attention to websites I've made for my Blue Lodge and York Rite Bodies.  Please excuse the extreme lag in page loading.  I'm not sure why they take so long, and I've yet to have the free time to call my webhost to troubleshoot the problem.  I welcome your feedback and suggestions for those webpages, should you have any to offer.

Until next time,

Rob Matherly
Junior Warden Elect
Jackson Lodge #42
Centerville, Iowa

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What it means to me to be a Freemason.

Last night I had the pleasure in assisting with the conferral of a third degree.  I have attended several since my own raising last May, but this was the first time I actually played a role in the process.  I have to say, it took on an even greater importance in my eyes.  There we were, a group of fraternal brothers, joining together to help a new Master Mason learn moral lessons that will guide him the rest of his life.

It really struck home when he was allowed to address us after the ceremony.  His son apparently suffers from diabetes.  While in the hospital receiving treatment for his condition, the Shrine housed and fed the child's family.  "I knew I needed to turn my life around and be part of a good group of men like that," he said.

I know that Freemasonry's raison detre isn't charity per se. We aren't like other groups whose sole purpose is to directly better society through charity and public service.  Rather, our focus is to better ourselves and thereby society as a result.  However, what the Shrine did for this man's family speaks volumes for Freemasonry.  I was both proud and humbled to hear him say it.  That is what Freemasonry is to me.

Between helping this man learn how to be a Mason, and learning him say why he chose to do so, I was very moved.  It helped me to remember what Freemasonry really is about.  It's not membership, or fundraisers, or any of the other stuff that comes with running a public organization.  It's about making good men better and giving them the tools to do so.  If we lose sight of that, then we may as well just shut the doors and head on down the road.