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Sunday, January 4, 2009

New year's resolutions

I think my New Year's resolutions can be boiled down to what I came here to do:

To learn. To subdue my passions. To improve myself in Masonry.

I will apply these as such:

To learn.
  • To continue to read
  • To begin learning (or improve) a second language
  • To become more efficient at my job
  • To improve my memory
To subdue my passions.
  • First and foremost, watch what I eat. Pause before eating and ask myself, "do I really need this?" Note: I've thought about writing a post about a Masonic diet. Might be interesting.
  • Be a calmer, gentler person
  • Let more go
To improve myself in Masonry.
  • Be more dutiful of the rules, regulations, and rituals
  • Apply the teachings outside of lodge walls
  • Let the chair work for me
In this way, so should everyone's resolutions be met. Always increase in knowledge, reduce your bad habits, and apply your instructions to the world around you.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

On cooking

As one of my duties as a Junior Steward, I must assist in the preparation of meals and refreshment for our Lodge. Fortunately, we have open dinners only once a month (with the one exception so far of the Grand Master's visit). After one month in, I've learned a couple of things.

First, and probably most importantly, is patience. Patience to prepare, patience to plan, and patience to cook. I also learned patience through the entire application process before getting my first degree. Living near Washington, D.C. is different from back home. Everything is rushed and fast paced; except for the traffic. The patience I have learned gives me pause to reflect on goals and ways of achieving them.

Second, I've improved my cooking skills. I'll admit, that even after being married for two years, I still cook like a bachelor. Improving variety and styles each month at the Lodge will probably assist back at home. And I'm sure my wife won't mind.

Third, I've had time to reflect on the jewel of a Junior Steward. The cornucopia. A symbol representing plenty, and usually seen in the U.S. around Thanksgiving, reminds me to be thankful for the many blessings I have; more especially that of nourishment.

Next time, I plan on blogging about the other duty I have. That of preparing the candidate.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Junior Steward!

Tonight I was installed as Junior Steward in my Lodge! It all came to fruition rather suddenly as I was unaware that I was to be formally installed at our public installation ceremony. Since I had never witnessed an installation before, I was a little unprepared.

Overall, however, I stood, sat, and was guided to where I was supposed to, and it was a beautiful ceremony. About 60 to 70 people showed up and it seemed as if everyone had a good time.

There are many jokes about the cooking skills of a Junior Steward (one of my duties) and so I better dust off our cookbooks here at home to find some cheap and easy meals for about thirty brethren twice a month! I'm looking forward to one duty in particular, and that is preparing the candidates at initiations. I signed a petition for a co-worker who should begin his journey in January. I hope to know my part well enough to assist him with his initiation. From being raised in August to JS in December, all I can say is I hope I perform my duties well. And nix the Monday night classes.

image credit: Catherine Holt, flickr, Romulus

Monday, November 12, 2007

Remember the 90's? So does our website.

What is it with most Lodges' horrible websites? With the general exception of some Grand Lodge websites that I've seen (and this fact is not even all-inclusive) most appear as if they were done by a 6-year old in 10 minutes (or, a 10-year old in 6 minutes, if your prefer). How could this be?

One reason could be the average age of current Masons. Based on other articles I've read, there appears to be a generational gap caused by the free-love, anti-war, and open-drug-use 1970's. Being known for nonconformity, a general statement could be said that membership did not grow during this time frame. Others have labeled this generation, Gen X. Gen Xers tend to be:
marked by its lack of optimism for the future, nihilism, cynicism, skepticism, alienation and mistrust in traditional values and institutions. - Wikipedia
However, this generation was also controlling the workforce during the boom of the PC and the Internet.

This left the Baby Boomers to run their lodge websites. When HTML was as easy as a bold tag and an italicized tag that was all good and well. In the Web 2.0 era we live in today, we should adapt our message. With the understanding of the many rules imposed on Lodge websites from the Grand Lodge, we can still accomplish a lot. One day when I am not so busy I will volunteer to be our webmaster. Until then, I'll stick with pdf links for our WM message of the month (all text) and other content that hasn't been updated since April.

I'll refrain, for now, of giving our specific address, but from what I've seen on the "intarweb," we might be par for the course.

And can I get some high-quality, non-gawdy Masonic clip art?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Better out than in, I always say

Here's a picture of the Masonic ring I now wear. I wear it proudly and am glad to answer questions about the ring I get from co-workers and the like. I was fortunate enough to plan ahead and wear it the day of my raising (afterwards, of course).

In my preparation, I noticed the other brothers' rings and asked where they go theirs, etc., and one thing I noticed was that all of them had their rings with the points of the compass turned in (that is to say that if holding their arm out straight, the G would be facing them). The common school of thought is to wear it inwardly focused as a reminder to improve themselves. To continue on with this thought is that after one has become a Past Master of a lodge, then they can point the compass outward as a symbol of accomplishment.

I have decided to take another approach. I wear mine with the points outward, for others to see. I do this not in arrogance, but as a reminder to myself that I am "broadcasting" an image of Freemasonry at all times and, as in the previous example, should be constantly reminded to improve that reflection of myself. I like to think of it akin to the fact that as children, we're all on our best behavior when our parents are watching. We in turn should be representative upright citizens at all times since we never know who may be observing our conduct.

Besides, it's easier to show off :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sounds like somebody's got a case of the "Mondays"

For my first post, I would like to discuss my inability to attend my lodge's regularly stated meetings. In my quest for knowledge, I've signed up for two Master's Degree classes in the evenings at my local university. Striking an opportunity, I was able to put both classes back-to-back on Mondays, thereby reducing my commuting time to the university to once a week.

However, Monday nights are our stated meetings. As a newly raised Master Mason (August of this year), I am still energized by the previous degrees and wish to use that which I have been taught in regular fellowship with my brothers. Of course, the lodge has other nights for the appendant bodies, but I haven't joined those either for the reason stated above.

I volunteer for things such as our random Saturday ritual practices now and then, but I'm certainly ready and willing for the scales of balance to level back out to a healthy mix of both career and masonic development.

Have you ever been unable to regularly attend lodge activities due to activities beyond your control?