Friday, December 21, 2007

We all shine on: Mark Koltko-Rivera

Here's our second in a series "This is Who I Am" essay, submitted by a Burning Taper reader. Thanks, Bro. Mark!

I can understand why The Widow’s Son would be curious about who reads and perhaps comments on his blog. (Just remember, WS: you asked for this!)

I post here and there on various Masonic blogs under the name “mark.” I am Mark Koltko-Rivera, a 51-year-old native New Yorker who currently lives in Florida. Masonically, I was raised in Winter Park Lodge #239 F&AM, in central Florida. Next week, I am to be installed as this lodge’s Marshal. (Our lodge does not follow the custom that some lodges do, where the outgoing Worshipful Master becomes the Marshal; I have held no such office.) I am also to be installed as my local York Rite Commandery’s Junior Warden, and as my local Scottish Rite Valley’s Tyler.

Masonically, my greatest interest is in (a) Masonic education, of the “investigate-the-symbolism” variety, and (b) the friendship that I have found in Masonry. I am very pleased that the incoming Worshipful Master of my lodge has asked me to provide 20 minutes of Masonic Education at every Stated Communication. I feel that if this were a standard practice in every lodge in Masonry, we would see many benefits: (1) personal growth in Masonry, (2) greater dedication to Masonic ideals, (3) more attendance by the brethren.

I was raised poor on the Lower East Side of Manhattan (Kojak’s old precinct); I am bi-ethnic, Puerto Rican and Polish. (Long story there; let’s just say that this is one reason I value the fellowship of Masonry.)

I have a doctorate in psychology (NYU) and conduct psychological research under contract; I have also published a number of articles in academic journals, primarily on the psychology of worldviews (people’s assumptions about reality, and the effect of those assumptions). I also have a recent article on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, demonstrating that he added a stage beyond self-actualization: self-transcendence.

I also write Masonic literature for the LVX Publishing Company (visit us at My most recent work: the book Freemasonry: An Introduction, available through us or Amazon. I have a Masonic-oriented blog on MySpace.

I am active in my local congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“the Mormons”), where I teach the adult Sunday School class. (We cover the Book of Revelation during the last 3 weeks of December.) I am a convert (during my college years at Haverford College, in Pennsylvania), served a mission in Japan (including 8 months in Hiroshima), and have served in two bishoprics (a position very roughly parallel to a lodge’s Junior Warden, but for several years) and on a high council (Masonic equivalent: the lower reaches of the Grand Line, kinda sorta—one does not, however, automatically advance to the Grand Gavel).

In terms of family, my wife and I have four grown children in various parts of the country, doing various productive things (investigations for an investment firm; editing a trade magazine; art college; liberal arts undergraduate study). My wife is entering her own doctoral program next year up north, so we will be relocating over the summer.

Hopes and dreams: There is so much to say here; I shall just mention a few bullet points:
  • I would like to help incorporate the idea of worldview into every aspect of psychology, as a theoretical and applied discipline. (For example: help use the notion that different people have different assumptions about life to help facilitate conflict resolution, peace psychology, counseling and psychotherapy.)
  • I would like to help spread the idea that Masonic Education (again, of the ponder-and-investigate-the-symbolism variety) should be central to Masonic meetings, at the lodge/district/Grand Lodge levels.
Ideas I try to live by:
  • Your purpose in life is to change the world.
  • You have a mission in life: find it and work on it. Working on it IS accomplishing it.
  • Remember Churchill’s advice: “Never give up. Never, never, never, NEVER give up.”
  • It is better to aim for the stars, even if you only hit the mountaintops. You have then reached the mountaintops!
  • Every person you meet—including every homeless person, every drunken derelict passed out in the street, every barefoot child living in poverty—every person you meet is a god in embryo.
  • You have less time than you think—certainly less than you will want to have.
  • In regards to all the above: “Take due notice thereof and govern yourself accordingly.”

— Bro. Mark Koltko-Rivera

To submit your own "This is Who I Am" essay, read this.

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  1. Excellent Brother!
    An inspiration and an example of true, enlightened human being.
    Thank you for sharing that with us!

  2. Hey Brother Mark good to put a face with a name and equally good to hear of your labors upon the ashlar.

    Hope you will make it to All Masonic weeek and we can bump into one another.

  3. Hey brother Mark. Some great things you are planning, and I welcome your endeavors to bring further light to your lodge! Our GL recently started education readings for the lodges here. While not 20 minutes, they are still very informative!


  4. Bro. Mark:

    Thank you for sharing!

    My parents are also from the Lower-East Side; I know where you're coming from.
    It seems like you're on your way to climbing the ladder which leads to fame in our Mystic Circle.

    I’m interested in learning more about your writings.

    Peace, my "Policua" Brother!


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