Thursday, March 20, 2008

Your word, your honor, your integrity

The Masonic blog On the Level has published a short piece by Bro. Wachter of Merchantville Lodge No. 119, Pennsauken, NJ, titled "The Meaning of Freemasonry."

Cutting through the jingoistic phrases "making good men better," "a society with secrets," and "allegory veiled in symbolism," Bro. Wachter immediately gets to the heart of the matter in his definition of Freemasonry.

He writes:
The meaning of Freemasonry is best described as such: In a world of endless choices and countless temptations, this elaborate and ever changing fraternity has a way of teaching a simple principle to every individual no matter where they live or what they believe in. That principle is that while wealth, title, and fame can easily be stripped from a man, all he really has in this world is his word, his honor, and his integrity. These are the key to a great life and a great man. Without them you are nothing; with them you are all you will ever need to be.
It doesn't get any simpler than that.

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  1. Very wise words indeed:

    All anyone really has is his word, his honor, and his integrity. These are key to a great life....

    "If I compromise who I am as a person I do that what do I have left?"

  2. Duh! let's make that self quote:

    "If if compromise who I am as a person, then what do I have left?"

    SQ : )

  3. "your word, your honor and your integrity"

    all left at the door of the temples before the craft enter to work?


  4. BOWL CAIN said...

    "your word, your honor and your integrity"

    all left at the door of the temples before the craft enter to work?


    I am sorry that is YOUR experience in freemasonry. Its CERTAINLY not mine, and certainly not what I do. Is that what you do, leave your word, integrity and honor at the door?

    I am certain its not what you do, so why g-d's name would you so slander ALL of us? This is the kind of comment that puts us at odds... you just defamed 3 million men in an offhand comment that I suppose was meant to be funny or humorous.

    C'mon, how does that help?

  5. just my humble opinion

    jesters are masons, no?
    Grand Master of WVA is a mason, no?

    The whole Grand Line in Ohio are masons, no?

    if the shoe DOES NOT fit, do not wear it,

    for those who it does fit, it gives exemplary masons like you a bad name.

    Again, all in MY humble opinion brought about by not one 22nd masonic district in ohio masons.

    except RWB John Whitehouse and RWB Bob Trigg.

    Those two masons were the only two who exemplified ALL THREE of these traits in my experience.

    Most within my travels did not. FACT from experience, if it does not reflect YOU, then do not worry.

    I am sorry I found these lacking in my corner of masonry.

  6. I think the problem is in your generalizations. I believe as a matter of fact that is prejudice at its core.

    Many Chirstians have done terrible things, to lump all of that faith together like you have done with Masons is...well wrong and dangerous.

  7. Many, many years ago, Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament, asked two questions ... questions, gentle reader, that are in these dire times now even more imperative:

    "Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?" (Psalm 94:16 ).

  8. Eternal questions asked to all men in all ages, reformulated in these questions asked of those today who see and understand the great Evil unfolding on Earth(within some GL's); who see the iniquity of politicians and the corporate elite(GL Officers); who see and feel the evil and wickedness enveloping the world(the craft), but, who are too afraid or unwilling to act:
    "If not you, who? If not now, when?"

  9. Jeff Peace wants 'Freemasonry without Boundaries', and these are DEFINITELY boundaries!

  10. 2 bowl cain, just because someone is a Mason doesn't magically transform him into something that has no flaws. Being raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason doesn't include a halo.

    The Grand Master of Masons in West Virginia is a person who made a poor decision in regards to his treatment of a Past Grand Master and others. The Masons formerly of Halcyon Lodge made poor decisions when they decided to violate the rules of the Grand Lodge of Ohio in regards to approved usage and transfer of property. Perhaps the members of the Grand Lodge of Ohio used poor judgment when determining how Lodges may manage their properties. In any case, these men are people; therefore, they make mistakes.

    Members of R.O.J. also are people. What may be socially repugnant to you may be the norm for others. Do I visit strip clubs and blow money on hookers? No. But I believe folks should be able to do what they wish as individuals, assuming their pursuits are permitted by law.

    A group of R.O.J. members going to a strip club is one thing, and going to a strip club as an official R.O.J. Court function is another. Regardless, we're all human and likely to make mistakes -- some of which are minor, some of which are harmful.

    Ben R.

  11. Tom;

    I do not know the circumstances you address, but when 22 districts in your grand lodge do not agree with you or your perceptions, an inquisitive man, a self aware man, would examine his own perceptions, rather than assume the whole world is out of step with HIM.

    on the other hand, you may be right. Here is something to chew on, from a brother: When you toss out general accusations, you drive away potential allies. The accusation certainly does not fit most of us, but the accusation, in and of itself, is insulting and degrading to those of us who might otherwise be on your side.

    you cannot insult me, my integrity, my honor and intentions and then say: well, if the accusation does not apply to you, ignore it... a wise man tailors his words to achieve his ends. When you fire a shotgun in a closed room, you can hardly tell everyone you injured: Ooops, that wasn't meant for you.

    It still hits, it still hurts, if not for my own person, for the persons of my brothers who you do not know, that i do know, who are not the things you state.

    Simply adding: SOME grand lodges, some brothers, i have seen in some cases, a few men I know... would go a lot longer way among your potential allies than generalizations, which in and of themselves are ALWAYS false, and make your points look false.

    Just a thought, my brother.

  12. Theron and Ben R. are right in that the problems within the system are being caused by a few people. The vast majority of Masons in America haven't attended a lodge in years and have no idea what's going on.

    I feel that Theron is a bit off base when he states that the 22 districts disagree with Halcyon's actions. I seriously doubt that 1 in 1000 Ohio Masons even know about what happened at Halcyon, and therefore have no opinion.

    When Ben R. states that the brothers at Halcyon made a poor choice I would have to disagree. In fact they weren't really given a choice at all.

    The Grand Lodge of Ohio, instead of providing leadership, started making demands that could not be implemented in the 48 hour time period given by them. It was an act of the Grand Master's ego that ultimately started an unexpected chain of events. When Halcyon tried to reason with him he continued to make threats and demands instead of providing leadership and trying to understand the situation he had created.

    The Halcyon situation could have been avoided and/or fixed had the Grand Master stopped long enough to talk to the brothers at Halcyon and work with them to resolve the issues.

    The Halcyon situation is much like that in WV. The Grand Master's arrogance and ego acted to destroy instead of create.

  13. Br. Roarke

    I am NOT speaking of Halcyon. Br. Tom is, I think, referring to other events, predating Halcyon, as am I.

    I am not in Ohio, I do not know what actually happened. All I know of that hapless lodge is what the brethren from it have posted, including emails from the former master of that lodge.


  14. Thanks, Howard, for giving actual information at what happened at Halcyon. I hope you don't mind if more specifics are requested. In specific, what demands were required to be done in 48 hours, and did the brethren intend to meet them it the time-limit were extended? It's difficult to judge the matter without more information.

  15. Howard,

    If any lesson should come of the Halcyon debacle, it is that if you want to make a dramatic change in the way your Temple is organized, it's best to involve Grand Lodge in the planning on the front end of the process, rather than wait until things are in motion and cannot be reasonably changed or stopped.

    The Grand Lodge of Ohio (or M.W.B. Mike Himes, who was Grand Master at the time) may have been uncompromising about the arrangement, but some -- if not most -- of the onus actually was on the members of Halcyon. Better planning on the front end would likely have prevented much of the trouble.

    There are several ways to safely trump Grand Lodge when it comes to property. One example: If I were to win the lottery and build a Temple for my Lodge, I would form a blind trust, name it the owner of the land and building, and then rent it to my Lodge for $1 a year. I might even find a way to sell naming rights to the Lodge as part of an exclusive rental agreement. You get the picture.

    In any case, I tend to agree that the way state-level Masonry is structured often leaves too much room for dictatorial conduct, and I believe that perpetuating a sort of good 'ol boy system in the Grand line by appointment rather than open election for all positions can be truly harmful.

  16. Ben R., ironically, it was the DDGM that suggested the Charity as a way of saving the building. The Grand Lodge was aware of the situation but then decided it was a bad idea after the fact.


    Yes, Halcyon would have worked with the Grand Master. Within a day or two of the break they contacted the GM by phone but he refused to meet with them or even discuss the issue. I personally believe that he did not fully understand the implications of his demands. What had taken a law firm a couple of years to create could not be undone (according to federal law) in 48 hours.

    The GM created a situation where his demands could not be complied with without breaking the law.

    This is clearly a failure of leadership at multiple levels. A good leader would have pulled back and taken the time to listen before reacting blindly. This, however, seems to be a growing trend among Grand Masters. (Arizona Shrine debacle, West Virgina expulsion debacle, etc.)

  17. Howard,

    What is very clear to me (and something I've stated numerous times) is that we have a double-edged sword in the culture of Freemasonry: Anyone may aspire to be Worshipful Master of a Lodge or Grand Master of Masons in a jurisdiction.

    Meeting on the level is a beautiful idea that I've seen practiced beautifully. What's great about Freemasonry is anyone can sit in the big chair. However, the sun is eclipsed by the fact that anyone can sit in the big chair.

    I would attribute some of the problems you mentioned to ego and some to inexperience and/or poor advising. The Arizona Shrine fiasco, which I have come to understand was over the GM's micromanagement of a parking space, is all ego. Perhaps the expulsion of the PGM of West Virginia was ego as well. However, the Halcyon situation strikes me as a result of both inexperience and very poor advising.

    Keep in mind that Most Worshipful Brother Himes is an electrician by trade. He's not a professor of federal law. MWB Himes is a fine man and Mason, but no preparation in assuming the role of Grand Master could make him an expert in federal law, land transfers, restructuring for charitable activities, etc. So this is inexperience. Perhaps he also did not receive good counsel on the matter. In any case, this all relates directly to the two main points I've made in my replies here:

    1. The structure of state-level Masonry can give too much power in too many situations to one man, and

    2. The downside to the tenet of meeting on the level is that we may end up with men who, despite their best efforts and intentions, fall short of what may be required in certain circumstances to act accordingly.

    I will try to grab a bit of MWB Himes's time to discuss these issues the next time I see him. I can't say how receptive he'll be, but if the opprtunity arises, I'll take it.

    Ben R.

  18. Ben R.

    There is something else you should know. (Please feel free to contact me via email for more details.)

    Each year Halcyon paid "rent" to the Temple Company. If they hadn't the Temple Company couldn't have paid the bills, taxes, etc. The temple was never free to use or maintain.

    From a purely Masonic perspective nothing has changed. Halcyon or any other lodge that wants to meet in the temple still has to pay rent.

    The benefits of the 501(c)(3) charity are many. The temple company can now file to be absolved of future property taxes. (about $11,000 per year). By opening the temple to cultural and community events the charity can generate income to further restore the building. The charity also provides a way of getting the community involved in the temple. Inner city youth boxing programs, youth theater groups and art classes, etc.

    Through the charity Halcyon was able to become an active agent in their local community and demonstrate to their neighbors the greatness of the Craft.

    When I was up at the temple one weekend, a man who lived across the street came by to talk. Some of the brothers showed him around the temple and explained what we were doing. He said that he had lived there for years but never been invited into the temple and was amazed at what he had been missing all those years.

  19. I must be extra thick today, because I can't locate an e-mail address for you, even through your page.

  20. Go join the forums. I'll message you with my email.

    Join with username Ben R or something I will recognize.

  21. I suspect, although perhaps not handled appropriately, that the issue the GL had with Halcyon was not their charity work. It was likely the flagrant disregard for obligations in allowing Jeff Peace to visit a tiled meeting. They could of course have met with Mr. Peace and heard his side of the story. There is nothing in the obligations against that. As Master of the Lodge, there are obligations taken as well.

    Thank you, Howard, for shedding more light on this matter. The more that is brought to light the better. I'd like to see Jeff Peace come out and tell the brothers what exactly the GL objected to when they removed him. Something in the RCG ritual more than anything it can only be assumed without more light on the subject.

  22. Br. Howard Roark;

    You have several times on this blog referenced "events in Arizona regarding the Shrine and the Grand Lodge" and by implication, that the Grand Master somehow acted dictatorially...

    Do you have any idea what the events were in Arizona the precipitated the yanking of the charter? I DO, and it was not a matter of dictatorial behavior... If you do not know what really happened there, you should not speak.

    I know what happened there, and Grand Master Rex Hutcheson acted with restraint. The Shrine Imperial claimed they were not subject to the Grand Master, which is silly, since every one of them is a regular mason.

    They disobeyed his edict, to stop certain activities. They refused and refused to meet with him. They are lucky it was only that one club he shut down and not all of the Shrine.

    But I digress. You make a great point of folks not judging Halcyon based on the facts in play, because, as you have noted to me in phone calls, I don't have ALL the facts.

    Fine, you should extend the same courtesy to the Grand Lodge of Arizona, and take ME at my word that he SHOULD have pulled recognition of the Shrine over their actions.

    You really don't have all the facts, and I am not at liberty to divulge them. Extend a little charity to the GMoAZ here.

  23. Francois,

    The GLGA never even asked to see the ritual. They spent an hour questioning us about Prince Hall Freemasonry and whether or not we knew or were in contact with anyone from Prince Hall.

    Past Masters form our lodge saw the ritual. They (GLGA and any brother) were free to attend any meeting. The RRCG wasn't a secret society. It was open to all the brothers.

  24. "The Arizona Shrine fiasco, which I have come to understand was over the GM's micromanagement of a parking space, is all ego." - Ben R.

  25. It had nothing to do with a Parking Space...

  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

  27. "The GLGA never even asked to see the ritual. They spent an hour questioning us about Prince Hall Freemasonry and whether or not we knew or were in contact with anyone from Prince Hall.

    Past Masters form our lodge saw the ritual. They (GLGA and any brother) were free to attend any meeting. The RRCG wasn't a secret society. It was open to all the brothers."

    Not what I expected, but not entirely unexpected either. Thank you for the reply, Howard. I understood the RRCG is still in operation? If so, I'll check it out next time I'm over there.

  28. for clarification, brother peace gave a lecture in our temple open to the public.

    the brothers of halcyon NEVER met with brother peace in a tyled lodge?
    More factual lies out there about Halcyon?

    Now why does it seem Frank has misinformation always about Halcyon?
    Where did you get your inaccuracies from?
    The Grand Lodge of Ohio?

    You have claimed we are being investigated for missappropriations of funds, a lie, and brother peace sat in a tyled Lodge,another lie!

    So, frank, where and why with the false statements?

    I know for a fact the grand Lodge of ohio has false statements in their colpaints, so that is the only place I can think of who would be feeding false information about us?

    So, please frank, where are you getting these lies you are spreading about masons?

  29. another thing about Brother peace attending a tyled meeting that was open to the public, RWB Charles Berry was in attendance at this lecture, one of the Grand Lodges own was present, in an open Lodge.

    So where did this lie start, brother........

  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

  31. Bro. 2 Bowl,

    Francois is an atypical American Mainstream Freemason. He's here to stir the poo and defame others. He even says so:

    "I pointed that out humorously, and it made some people hot under the collar as I intended." Francois-Marie Arouet

    As you know brother 2 Bowl some Mainstream Masons promote "Hate-Masonry" instead of Free-Masonry. They want hate to reign supreme instead of universal brotherhood.

    Just read through his posts. All Hate-Mason rhetoric, just like his mainstream brother Ed King.

    I feel sorry for the good mainstream brothers who have to suffer so much shame at the hands of the Hate-Masons in their ranks.

    Maybe one day they'll wake up and expel these people. Until then I suspect Hate-Masonry will continue.

  32. Tubalcain420

    his name is Francis, not Frank...

    I think there is enough blame to go around without the unmasonic "Hate-masons" nonsense. You have acted as often as not worse than the men you are tossing the accusation at... and we have already discussed how you tend to shotgun accusations then note later that if it doesn't apply you should ignore it...

    Regular masons and non regular masons all love the craft, or their understanding of it. Many regular masons do not consider you and Jeff and Karen and Cora and others to be masons. So what?

    Why build your life and expectations on other people's thoughts and beliefs. If YOU know that you are acting as a mason, then get on with YOUR left and on perfecting YOUR ashlar in accordance with the teachings of the craft.

    You can't change them, you can only change YOU. Stop worrying about everyone else's masonry and focus on your own, and you (and many of us) will be happier.

    Just a thought.

  33. "the brothers of halcyon NEVER met with brother peace in a tyled lodge?
    More factual lies out there about Halcyon?

    Now why does it seem Frank has misinformation always about Halcyon?
    Where did you get your inaccuracies from?
    The Grand Lodge of Ohio?"

    I got my misinformation from an apparently misunderstood posting from Jeff Peace, where he seemed to sat he 'sat in lodge' with the brothers at Halcyon. I took it to mean a tiled lodge. If this was in error, as you suggest, I willingly accept the sole responsibility for the error. None of it came from the GL of Ohio. I apologize for misreading Jeff Peace's statement and sincerely thank you for clearing it up.

  34. I disagree Bro. Theron. There are good honest mainstream Masons and then there are Hate-Masons.

    Francois and Ed King both are promoters of hate, not brotherhood. Ed King writes vicious hate-filled attacks against other brothers on both his blog and his web site. These are not ideological attacks but personal attacks against the brothers.

    If you don't like your Masonry being attacked then maybe you should think about how others feel about their Freemasonry.

    If you're supporting Hate-Masonry and its advocates then you are being disingenuous. You can't have it both ways.

    Hasn't there already been enough Hate-Masonry? Do you really want it to continue?

    It's time to put a stop to the Hate-Masonry and get back to the basics of the Craft.

    Going forward I'm going to be very supportive of all forms of Free-Masory, but take the Hate-Masons to task for their promotion of hatred and fear among the Craft.

    I hope you and all other sincere brothers will join with me. Together we can stop the hatred before it becomes endemic.

  35. "the brothers of halcyon NEVER met with brother peace in a tyled lodge?
    More factual lies out there about Halcyon?"

    2 ball,
    I have found the article I got the information from, attributed to Jeff Peace, in which he claims to be a member of Halcyon #498. It's right here on the BT. I assumed from this article by Jeff Peace and his claimed membership (see the sig. line), that he had sat in a tiled lodge. Not the meeting you mention in specific. I extrapolated from this article by Jeff Peace that, before Halcyon split away from the GL of Ohio, he sat in a tiled lodge.

    If it's not true, it's purely my error based on the article. If you still want to call it a 'factulal lie', at least, I hope you can see where the confusion arose (indicative portions separated by ***):

    "Halcyon Lodge: Moving Freemasonry Forward by Bro. Jeff Peace

    It's September and, after being dark for the summer, ***Halcyon Lodge No. 498 had its first meeting of the season last night where Wor. Bro. Ken Miller laid out our vision of the future.*** His talk was the culmination of years of planning and strategizing what is today Halcyon Lodge No. 498. Our new web site and discussion forums were brought online to coordinate with this event to reveal to the Masonic world our vision of the future of American Freemasonry.

    Halcyon Lodge No. 498 is not your ordinary Masonic lodge composed of local Masons. It is the result of the combined efforts of brothers from across the United States that have worked quietly together over the past several years to turn our dreams into reality. It is my pleasure to share with our brothers from around the world the results of our labors...

    ***Jeff Peace, Halcyon Lodge No. 498, Cleveland***"

  36. Yeah,


    where does it state "HE SAT IN A TYLED LODGE?"

    I missed that in your post?

  37. Just because brother peace is privy to lodge business, does not mean he sat in lodge.

    we can also vote on making a mason a member of our lodge without them sitting within it tyled?

  38. "where does it state "HE SAT IN A TYLED LODGE?"

    As I said, I assumed it through the inferred meaning. You or another member from Halcyon can settle the question right now:

    Did Jeff Peace sit in a tiled lodge or not before Halcyon split with GL?

  39. empiracally NO!

    He was discussed within a Lodge meeting for membership while he sat in Georgia. When he published an article about what was discussed within the meeting, it was due to getting an outline of what was discussed.

    Again, nothing nefarious behind any of Halcyon's motives! We were above board always, our books were always available and every dime is traceable!

    Nothing nefarious!?
    We also did ask our DDGM to look into Brother Peaces non trial expulsion.
    Nothing nefarious about that as well.


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