Monday, August 18, 2008

We all shine on: Bro. Trevor Twining

This is our 21st installment of "This Is Who I Am," our never-ending series of essays by and about readers of "The Burning Taper."

My name is Trevor Twining. I'm 35, and I am a father, husband, and Freemason.

I work for a Drupal consulting firm called CivicActions. My current project is a pending redesign of Amnesty International.

I came into Freemasonry after learning about it from my father-in-law. While not married at the time, my then-to-be wife and I were quite serious. During a conversation about 'my intentions' towards his daughter, the subject came up of how he came to be the man I respected (seriously, it happened like that, I wasn't schmoozing).

Growing up in a single-parent family, I didn't have much in the way of male role models, and I had made a promise long ago to make sure I succeeded in raising my family where my father had neglected those responsibilities. My father-in-law told me that Freemasonry was a big part of who he was, and I got interested at that point. When I get involved in something, I go whole-hog, and so the time demanded of an involved mason was such that I decided I wasn't ready to get involved at the time, but I kept involved by attending various socials, picnics, and other functions as I was able, so that I could meet the men involved and learn more about them.

Five years later my first son was two when I finally decided that the time was right. I did some digging online about Freemasonry, and immediately cast aside any of the anti-masonic information, as it just did not fit the view of the men I had already come to know and respect.

I was initiated into Adoniram Lodge No. 573, in Niagara Falls, ON, under the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario on May 13, 2004.

My story continues like many others my age that are finding their way through the Craft. Learning a lot online about the classic works of Mackey, Wilmshurst, and reading more controversial Masonic Authors like Lomas and Knight, and seeing all the media interest in the Fraternity at the time made one feel really excited to be a mason. Culture clashes abounded however as many younger masons' ideas of the Craft conflicted with the experiences of the older brethren. I started reading up on many of the staples we all have, and in some ways became more confused than clear on many of the issues.

At first I contributed to this strife, headstrong and opinionated that my way was the only way. This helped me learn one of the great lessons of Masonry. Harmony. Not the "gloss over the argument" kind of harmony, but that 'my way,' even if I feel it's the best way, doesn't need to be the only way. I learned that one could be 100% correct, and still be an a--hole.

Over the last two years, however, I have begun work to eliminate this in my lodge and in the Craft in general, however small and localized the effort might be. I look for ways that we can work together, and dreams and ideas that we hold in common, and then promote activities that highlight those attitudes.

Our most successful activities have been what we term 'Lodges of Exploration.' These are walkthroughs of symbolism in each degree and provide as much of an opportunity to discuss the 'why' in Freemasonry as Lodges of Instruction serve to explain the 'how and when.'

This year, I'm the Worshipful Master of my lodge. I'm passionate about showing them the Masonry that I've come to love; the development of an inquisitive mind, ever searching for answers, and discovering in his researches the Wisdom, Strength and Beauty that the Great Architect has spread throughout the physical and spiritual world. I've learned about the many paths to the Divine in the form of different expressions of faith, and my own journeys are richer for having learned of them. I've learned what it means when we say that when a brother joins our ranks, he never again walks alone in this world. I've watched other men flourish from the humbling exposure to the light that I've found in Masonry, and with them I've found my companions in the Light. I know, however, that many brethren might not be ready to experience this kind of Masonry, and so if only I can help them consider the many facets of a Masonic life, then I'll have discharged my duties to employ and instruct the Brethren in Masonry.

Here are some basic thoughts about the craft and its direction that clarify the objects of my researches over the next two to three years.
  • Freemasonry and open source. Open source software will have as much societal impact as Gutenberg's press did. The ideas of the open source movement fit nicely with those of the Fraternity, and as builders of code and data, the symbolism of the Craft still strikes a note with those who use their brains to build new ways for us to communicate with each other. Concepts like agile development, code as law and commons-oriented licensing can all serve to inspire and strengthen future generations of Freemasons worldwide. Similarly, organizational structures being developed by people to communicate effectively across distances can provide many opportunities for learning.

  • Freemasonry and Darwinism. It can be argued that Freemasonry is in a decline because its leaders refuse to adapt in the name of preserving the heritage of the order. Using the theory of evolution, we can highlight the traits we want to keep that preserve the identity of the order. But we can also identify which traits are undesirable and discard them or change them to become a stronger entity. This isn't the archetypal "Survival of the fittest" evolution so many people associate with Darwin, but a series of slow, iterative improvements that allow us to survive and adapt.

  • Masonic Mutations. One of the main principles of Evolution is that of mutation. Once a mutation is introduced, it must either give the organism an advantage or fall into obscurity. As Freemasons, we need to establish more lodges with a greater degree of frequency than we do now, in order to really put these ideas in the crucible of real life. The only way we can generate sufficient diversity to save the craft is through a mass spawning of new, small, adaptable lodges.
It has been great to learn about so many of you. I hope some of these words might help you find something new and beautiful, or even rediscovered, about the Craft we all love.

Yours in Service,
W. Bro. Trevor Twining

Bro. Twining operates the Masonic blog "Square. Level. Plumb."

To submit your own "This is Who I Am" essay, read this. You do not have to be a Mason to participate.

| | | | |


  1. Trevor,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. Your open-mindedness, and willingness to adapt to changing times is very refreshing to hear. The story you related regarding your Father-in -Law was very touching. It is beautiful when Masonry shows in the lives that Masons lead even though others might not know that they are Masons.

  2. I love reading stuff like this. It gives me hope that this craft is not a dying fraternity. Thank you for your story.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.