Tag Archive: history

Dec 24

The York Rite Background

yorkrite_01The York Rite, like the Scottish, is one of Freemasonry’s Appendant Bodies which is open to a Master Mason to join to further his knowledge of Freemasonry. While Freemasonry officially culminates with the third degree of the Blue Lodge, the nine additional degrees of the the York Rite are considered to expand upon and complete the Blue Lodge degrees.

The York Rite is broken down into three “bodies”, each governing and controlling the degree work related to that body. The bodies are Royal Arch Masonry, Cryptic Masonry, and Knights Templar (also called the Chivalric Orders.) The intent is to confer additional Degrees or Orders, each building upon the foundations laid by the Blue Lodge Degrees. The order in which they are received is not necessarily historically chronological.

Here is a brief synopsis of the various Degrees or Orders conferred by each of the York Rite bodies:

royalarch_01Royal Arch Masonry

The degrees of the Royal Arch center on the construction phases of Solomon’s Temple. This York Rite Body is governed by a “Chapter”, and it consists of the following four Degrees:

Mark Master

This Degree emphasizes the lessons of regularity, discipline, and integrity. It is a most impressive Degree centered on the story of the Fellowcraft of the quarry and their role in the building of the Temple.

Past Master (Virtual)

This Degree emphasizes the lesson of harmony. This Degree is conferred because ancient custom required that a Mason must be a Past Master in order to be exalted to the Royal Arch. In some Grand Jurisdictions this Degree is conferred upon all sitting Masters of the Blue Lodge. The Degree confers no actual rank upon the recipient, but is exemplified to maintain the ancient custom.

Most Excellent Master

This Degree emphasizes the lesson of reverence. This Degree is centered on the dedication of the Temple after its completion, particularly the consecration of the Sanctum Sanctorum and the descent of the Host into the Temple. It is complimentary to the Mark Master Degree and completes the symbolic lessons introduced in that Degree.

The Royal Arch

This is the completion of the Master Mason Degree and the summit of the original Degrees of the Blue Lodge as practiced in the Antients Lodges of England before 1820. The Degree explains the origins of the Substitute Word found in the Master Mason Degree, the recovery of the Ineffable Word, and its concealment within the Royal Arch Word. This Degree, together with the Master Mason Degree, may have once been exemplified as one large or “super” Degree, with the Master Mason Degree explaining the loss of the Master’s Word and the Royal Arch explaining the recovery of the Master’s Word.

cryptic_01Cryptic Masonry

The next York Rite Body is Cryptic Masonry which is governed by a “Council”. The Degrees get their name from a hidden or secret vault referenced in the degrees. The following degrees are conferred in Cryptic Masonry:

Royal master

This Degree emphasizes the lessons of patience and fortitude. The Degree centers around the Fellowcraft Masons who were artificers fabricating the fittings and furniture of the Temple. It is unusual in that the first part of the Degree depicts events taking place before the death of the Grand Master Hiram Abif, and the last part depicts events occurring after his death.

Select Master

This Degree emphasizes the lessons of devotion and zeal. The Degree centers on the construction and furnishing of a Secret Vault beneath the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Temple, and the deposition of those secrets pertaining to the Craft by the three ancient Grand Masters of the Craft. This Degree bridges the events surrounding the concealment and loss of the Ineffable Word and the events leading to the recover of the Word in the Royal Arch Degree.

Super Excellent Master

This Degree emphasizes lessons of loyalty and faithfulness. It centers around events leading to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple at the hands of the Chaldeans. This degree is an honorary one, and a member of the Council does not need to have it in order to hold membership or office.

knightstemplar_01Chivalric Orders

The Chivalric Orders confer three Orders, instead of Degrees, culminating in the grade of Knight Templar. This is the only recognized Masonic Body that has religious connotations since it is based on the Christian Religion and virtues. The governing body is the Commandery. The orders conferred are The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, The Order of Malta and The Order of the Temple. Prior to completing these Orders, the Companion must declare his belief in or loyalty to the Christian religion. These are the Chivalric Orders:

Illustrious Order of the Red Cross

This Order emphasizes the lesson of truth. Elements of this Order were practiced in Ancient Lodges before the final form of the Master Mason Degree came into use.

Order of Malta

This is an Order emphasizing the lesson of faith. This Order requires the Mason to profess and practice the Christian faith. It introduces the lesson and example of the unfearing and faithful martyr of Christianity. The Order is centered on allegorical elements of the Knights of Malta, inheritors of the medieval Knights Hospitaller.

Order of the Temple

Also known as the Knights Templar, this impressive Order emphasizes the lessons of self-sacrifice and reverence. It is meant to rekindle the spirit of the medieval Knights Templar devotion and self-sacrifice to Christianity. The history of this Masonic Order is long and convoluted, with the Order’s ritual differing between that conferred in England and in the United States. That practiced in the United States has a slight militant zeal to the lesson of Christianity, whereas the English ritual is more allegorical. However, the American ritual is most impressive, and more emphasis is placed on the solemnity and reverence associated with the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ. Today’s Knight Templar is a man dedicated to the living Christ, and the defense of the virtues contained in the practices observed by all true Christians.

Here are some links to some additional information on these degrees:

York Rite Degrees
York Rite Wikipedia article
Scottish Rite Wikipedia article
Masonic Appendant Bodies Wikipedia article

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/the-york-rite-background

Sep 12

Google Chrome Tip #5: How to see Browsing History

Browser HistoryUnlike in Firefox and Internet Explorer, Google Chrome has no dropdown integrated in the back and forward buttons, so how do you view your recent browsing history? Simple! Just click and hold either button, and if there is history, a dropdown menu will appear. You can alternately right-click on either arrow with the same effect.

To view your full browsing history, select the “Show full history” selection from the same menu, select “History” from the “Customize and control Google Chrome” button (the “wrench” icon), or simply press and a full browsing history page will open in a new tab.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/google-chrome-tips/google-chrome-tip-5-how-to-see-browsing-history

Sep 08

Google Chrome Tip #3: Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard ShortcutsGoogle provides many keyboard shortcuts to move around and work with Google Chrome. For a complete list, you can always jump over to the Google Chrome Keyboard Shortcuts page. In the mean time, read on to see a list of the keyboard shortcuts….

Here is a list of most of Google Chrome keyboard shortcuts:

Window and tab shortcuts Window and tab shortcuts

Ctrl+N Open a new window
Ctrl+Shift+N Open a new window in incognito mode
Press Ctrl, and click a link Open link in a new tab
Press Shift, and click a link Open link in a new window
Alt+F4 Close current window
Ctrl+T Open a new tab
Ctrl+Shift+T Reopen the last tab you’ve closed. Google Chrome remembers the last 10 tabs you’ve closed.
Drag link to tab Open link in specified tab
Drag link to space between tabs Open link in a new tab in the specified position on the tab strip
Ctrl+1 through Ctrl+8 Switch to the tab at the specified position number. The number you press represents a position on the tab strip.
Ctrl+9 Switch to the last tab
Ctrl+Tab or Ctrl+PgDown Switch to the next tab
Ctrl+Shift+Tab or Ctrl+PgUp Switch to the previous tab
Ctrl+W or Ctrl+F4 Close current tab or pop-up
Alt+Home Open your homepage
Ctrl+O, then select file Open a file from your computer in Google Chrome

Address bar shortcuts

Do one of the following actions in the address bar:
Type a search term Perform a search using your default search engine
Type the part of the web address that’s between ‘www.’ and ‘.com’, then press Ctrl+Enter Add www.and .com to your input in the address bar and open the web address
Type a search engine keyword or URL, press Tab, then type a search term Perform a search using the search engine associated with the keyword or the URL. Google Chrome prompts you to press Tab if it recognizes the search engine you’re trying to use.
F6 or Ctrl+L or Alt+D Highlight content in the web address area
Type a web address, then press Alt+Enter Open your web address in a new tab
Shortcuts to open Google Chrome features
Ctrl+B Toggle bookmarks bar on and off
Ctrl+H View the History page
Ctrl+J View the Downloads page
Shift+Escape View the Task manager

Webpage shortcuts

Ctrl+P Print your current page
F5 Reload current page
Esc Stop page loading
Ctrl+F5 or Shift+F5 Reload current page, ignoring cached content
Press Alt, and click a link Download link
Ctrl+F Open find-in-page box
Ctrl+G or F3 Find next match for your input in the find-in-page box
Ctrl+Shift+G or Shift+F3 Find previous match for your input in the find-in-page box
Ctrl+U View source
Drag link to bookmarks bar Bookmark the link
Ctrl+D Bookmark your current webpage
Ctrl++ Make text larger
Ctrl+- Make text smaller
Ctrl+0 Return to normal text size

Text shortcuts

Highlight content, then press Ctrl+C Copy content to the clipboard
Place your cursor in a text field, then press Ctrl+V or Shift+Insert Paste current content from the clipboard
Place your cursor in a text field, then press Ctrl+Shift+V Paste current content from the clipboard without formatting
Highlight content in a text field, then press Ctrl+X or Shift+Delete Delete the content and copy it to the clipboard
Backspace, or press Alt and the left arrow together Go to the previous page in your browsing history for the tab
Shift+Backspace, or press Alt and the right arrow together Go to the next page in your browsing history for the tab
Ctrl+K or Ctrl+E Places a ‘?’ in the address bar. Type a search term after the ‘?’ to perform a search using your default search engine.
Place your cursor in the address bar, then press Ctrl and the left arrow together Jump to the previous word in the address bar
Place your cursor in the address bar, then press Ctrl and the right arrow together Jump to the next word in the address bar
Place your cursor in the address bar, then press Ctrl+Backspace Delete the previous word in the address bar
Space bar Scroll down the web page
Home Go to the top of the page
End Go to the bottom of the page

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/google-chrome-tips/google-chrome-tip-3-keyboard-shortcuts

Sep 06

Google Chrome Tip #2: Importing Firefox Portable Bookmarks

 Currently, Google Chrome will only import Bookmarks from an installed version of Firefox. I use Firefox Portable exclusively, but unfortunately, Google Chrome does not recognize it as an import source. So, if you are a Firefox Portable user, here’s a quick and dirty method of getting all of your existing Firefox bookmarks into Google Chrome….

This process assumes that you are using the “Firefox Portable” application found at http://PortableApps.com, and that you do not have Firefox “installed” on your PC. If you already have Firefox installed on your PC, doing this will probably mess up your current installation to the point that you may need to re-install Firefox and re-build all of your customizations. Be sure to back up your Firefox Portable directory because you don’t want to do anything to mess up your working version. I take no responsibility if you mess things up.

Also, the specific directories listed here refere to Windows XP directories. As I get the information for Vista, I will update this article.

First, close any instances of Firefox that you may have open.

Next, backup your Firefox Portable folder. Just copy it. It may take a few minutes. This will give you a backup should anything happen to your original folder.

Next, download and install Firefox. You can go to http://GetFirefox.com for the latest version. Launch the installer and install Firefox. You can keep all of the defaults as you will be uninstalling it later.

When the install completes, Launch the newly installed version of Firefox once to initialize itself.

Now, close Firefox.

OK, at this point, you can follow two paths depending on how much you want to import into Chrome:

Option 1. Import only Bookmarks into Google Chrome

This first method simply does an export, and import, and anoter import of your Firefox Bookmarks. If all you want to do is make your Bookmarks available in Google Chrome, this is probably the easiest method.

Close the installed version of Firefox, open Firefox Portable, and click the “Bookmarks” menu item and select “Organize Bookmarks”. In the new window, click the “Import and Backup” button on the top and select “Export HTML…”. Give it a filename, and click the Save button.

Now, close Firefox Portable and launch the newly installed version of Firefox. Click the “Bookmarks” menu item and select “Organize Bookmarks”. In the new window, click the “Import and Backup” button on the top and select “Import HTML…”.

When the Import Wizard opens, select “From an HTML file” and click the “Next” button. Select the filename you saved above, and click the “Open” button. Your bookmarks are now imported into the installed version of Firefox.

Take this moment to re-organize your bookmarks to your preferences and then close Firefox.

Finally, open Google Chrome and click on the “Customize and control Google Chrome” button (the Wrench icon in the upper right) and select “Import Bookmarks and Settings”. Select Mozilla Firefox from the dropdown and check only the “Favorites/Bookmarks” checkbox and click Import.

Your Portable Firefox bookmarks are now imported into Google Chrome!

You can now skip down to the CLEANUP section to complete things.

Option 2. Import all bookmarks, Search Engines, Saved passwords, and Browsing History into Google Chrome

This second method will let you import much more personal data into Google Chrome. It’s actually fairly easy. Just be sure you do NOT do this on a previously existing installed version of Firefox as you will mess it up if you do.

With this method, you simply copy your “profile” from your Firefox Portable folder to your installed Firefox folder, launch the installed version of Firefox, and then import into Google Chrome.

You should have a portable version of Firefox and a freshly installed version of Firefox. Close all instances of Firefox.

First, open a Windows Explorer window and navigate to the location of your Firefox Portable folder. You should see the following three folders: plugins, profile, and settings. Open the profile folder.

Now, open another Windows Explorer window and navigate to settings folder for your installed version of Firefox. It’s buried deep–you need to look here: (Note: This path is for Windows XP)

C:Documents and Settings{username}Application DataMozillaFirefoxProfiles

…where {username} is the user you are currently logged into.

You should see a single folder called {something}.default where the {something} is some numbers and letters. This differs from machine to machine. Open that folder.

Now, go back to your first Firefox Portable folder and do a “Select All” on all of the files and then select “Copy”.

Now, go back to the seconf Explorer window (the {something].default folder) and Paste what you copied. A “Confirm Folder Replace” popup will display. Click “Yes to All” and all of the required Firefox Portable data will be copied. This may take several minutes.

Next, launch the installed version of Firefox. Check the Bookmarks to verify that they are there and reofganize them if you want.

Close Firefox.

Finally, open Google Chrome and click on the “Customize and control Google Chrome” button (the Wrench icon in the upper right) and select “Import Bookmarks and Settings”. Select Mozilla Firefox from the dropdown and check the checkboxes of what you want to Import and then click “Import”.

Your Portable Firefox bookmarks, Search Engines, Saved Passwords, and browsing History are now imported into Google Chrome!

Now, just uninstall yout “installed” version of Firefox by clicking Start > Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs. Select Mozilla Firefox, click the Remove button, and follow the prompts.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/google-chrome-tips/google-chrome-tip-2-importing-firefox-portable-bookmarks

Mar 03

iPod Touch Review: Wikpedia on your iPod Touch!

Wikipedia on the iPod TouchArguably, one of the greatest current contributions to the Internet is Wikipedia, a solid encyclopedic resource for general knowledge of topics spanning literally millions of articles. Though the accuracy of some of its articles is questionable, overall, Wikipedia does an excellent job of presenting generally reliable content. A point of note that any researcher, student, or general Internet user should know, is that because of its susceptibility to error and vandalism, Wikipedia, should not be used as a difinitive research resource, it should be considered a great starting point for researching a topic.)

Like searching on Google, Wikipedia is fast and intuitive to use. On the iPod Touch, the Safari Web browser renders Wikipedia pages very well. But accessing Wikipedia from the iPod Touch has one major drawback: you must be online. Recently, however, there have been several sfforts to provide Wikipedia content in an offline format. This article covers two such offerings:


Wiki2Touch  (My Pick!)

I review what I like about them, what I dislike, and which I like best, so read on for a full review of these two applications….

Generally speaking, offline Wikipedia implementaions require several components to work including a huge data file containing the text content of Wikipedia’s articles, some supporting files, and an application that handles the searching and displaying of the article content. Fortunately, getting Wikipedia’s data isn’t that difficult because Wikipedia makes this English languave data readily available in the form of a downloadable XML file. (If you require foreign versions, a number of foreign languages are available as well.) Currently, the data weighs in at about 3GB, so it may take a while to download the data. But downloading this 3GB+ file is just the start. You then need to convert the file into a format that the offline applications can manage. Fortunately, this is not a difficult process–time-consuming, but not difficult.


The first application in this review is Wikipedia.app . This was the first offline implementation I tried, and it was simply amazing! It provided quick access to almost all Wikipedia text content. Entering search after search revealed just how much data could be packed onto an iPod Touch.

Unfortunately, Wikipedia.app is not without its issues as it’s not too hard to crash the application, particularly when following links from redirects. There are some simple workarounds, but this is still a drawback. The display is very simple, providing a nice scrollable display, but that’s about it. There are no bells and whistles, so if you are looking for a small, lean application, this is it.

On the positive side, Wikipedia.app gave me my first taste of using Wiklipedia offline, and it provided adequate access to its articles. Searching was quick, and the display layout, while spartan, looked great. Many articles include internal links referencing other articles, so tapping any of the links displays that new article. Other than the occasional crash, it did work well.

Another positive is in setup. Setting up Wikipedia.app was very straight forward. The first thing you need is the Wikipedia text data. Wikipedia.app provides a large pre-built data file that weighs in at just over 2GB in size. It’s an English language snapshot of Wikipedia text content from October, 2007–a few other lanugage versions are also available. Instructions are provided to manually build a more recent version, but the currently available version is fairly recent, so using the pre-built file makes isntallation much easier. You also need to download some supporting files and the Wikipedia.app application. Installation was as simple as downloading everything (which took a while because of the size), uploading everything to the iPod Touch, setting some file permissions, and restarting Springboard. It was very easy.

Once set up, you end up with a new icon on your Home page that launches a simple Search application. Enter your search text, and Wikipedia.app displays results in real-time as you type. This is great, because you get immediate feedback. Tapping any of the results will do wone of two things: Display the article, or display a redrect page. In most cases, tapping the redirect will either display the article, or display a new redirect. Occasionally, this crashes.

Here is the Wikipedia.app start page:
Wikipedia.app Start page

Here is the results page that displays results as you type:
Wikipedia.app Results Page

Here is an example of a rendered article:
Wikipedia.app Article Page

The articles display in a nice scrollable page with embeded internal links, and there is a button at the top to take you back to the search page. And at the top of the search page is a button to take upi back to the last-viewed article. There is no history, so if you follow internal links, going back will take you to the search page. And when you exit and relaunch the application, no history is saved.

I’d love to see the Wikipedia.app program be stabilized and some features added, but for now, it works well enough. Features I’d like to see added include saving search result history, retention of articles between sessions, and the ability to save “favorite” articles for quick reference. Despite its quirks, it’s an excellent solution.


Wiki2Touch takes a different approach in implementation. You still have a huge article data file, but instead of using a custom client application to search and display the articles, it includes a local Web server application that runs in the background, providing access to the local data directly from Safari. When you point Safari to the local Web server address, it displays a Wikipedia search page. Entering a search request searches the local Wikipedia data file and returns the article results in a nicely-formatted, iPod Touch-friendly page. It’s quick and reliable, and if a result is not found or a link is broken, you simply get an “Article not found” error page–no crashes, no hassels.

Setup is not quite as easy as with Wikipedia.app because you must build the indexed data file yourself. While this may sound daunting, it’s actually very easy–it just takes lots of time. And one advantage to manually building the file is that you can build it using the latest snapshot ensuring that your data will be as current as Wikipedia provides. To build the file, you first have to download the 3GB+ XML data file from Wikipedia. Depending on the speed of yout Internet connection, this could take a while. Next, download the Wiki2Touch program distribution. It’s a small package, so it will be a quick download. You then build the “articles.bin” data file (the actual data file that will be uploaded to your iPod Touch) from the downloaded Wikipedia XML data using a simple “indexer” application. (For Windows users, the process is done by issuing a single DOS command.) The indexer.exe program converts and repackages the XML data into a format usable by the Wiki2Touch se
rver application.

When indexer.exe completes, you upload the new data file and the application files to your iPod Touch (this can take a long time over WiFi) set some file permissions, restart Springboard, launch the Wiki2Touch app, start the server, launch Safari, then point Safari to If everything went as expected, you should see a nice Wikipedia search page.

Using Safari to access the local Wikipedia data has several advantages over Wikipedia.app. Because articles are displayed through Safari, you use Safari’s User Interface features such as zooming and screen rotation to your advantage. This makes reading articles more consistent with reading other Web-based content. Second, if you enter s search request that does not find any results, or if a link or redirect happens to be bad, you simply get an “Article not found” error instead of a potential crash. And because articles are returned by Wiki2Touch as a “valid” URL within Safari, you can use Safari’s history, Bookmark, and Web Clip features to better manage and organize your searches and search results. (Oh, and get this: if you have the Wiki2Touch server running, and have WiFi turned on, PC’s on your local network can connect to your Wiki2Touch server via a Web Browser to your iPod Touch and submit queries! While this might potentially cause some security concerns, it’s still pretty cool.)

This is the “start” page:
Wiki2Touch Start page

This is an example of the real-time search page that displays search results as you type:
Wiki2Touch Search

This is the resullting article. Note that though there is no image displayed, it is formatted to accommodate images:

Wiki2Touch Article page

A potential drawback to Wiki2Touch is that overall, you will be using up to 50% more memory (3GB+ compared to 2GB+) than with Wikipedia.app. If you are using an 8GB iPod Touch and want to also carry lots of music and video with you, you may be out of luck. But for me, it’s not an issue, because I’m using my iPod Touch more as a PDA than a media player. You just may need to make some choioces to prioritize what content gets loaded.


So which do I recommend? They are both great implementations, but in the end, I have to recommend using Wiki2Touch. For a quick install and easy-to-use offline access, Wikipedia.app shines. Though it’s not without its quirks, and it occasionally crashes, it was simple to install, and it provided the content I was looking for. On the other hand, while Wiki2Touch required more up-front time to get things set up, once installed, it was so easy and stable to use. And the fact that it leverages Safari’s additional features makes it stand out as my offline Wikipedia search tool of choice.

In either case, once you get the taste of having Wikipedia articles accessible and available anywhere, any time, you begin to see just how exciting this really is. Being able to have pocketable, offline access to Wikipedia content alone, for me, justifies what I paid for my iPod Touch.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/ipod-touch-tips/ipod-touch-review-wikpedia-on-your-ipod-touch

Oct 08

The George Washington Masonic Memorial

My wife and are taking a trip to Washington, DC later this month for a long weekend to just “get away”. Our focus is intended to be on several of the Smithsonian museums, but we’ve added the George Washington Masonic Memorial to the itinerary. I’ll be writing an article recapping our adventure, and I’ll include some pictures. I’m hoping that this will give us an excellent chance to see some examples of Masonic history and memorabilia, and to learn more about Freemasonry’s role in the foundations of this country. Stay tuned….

This is my thirteenth article on my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/the-george-washington-masonic-memorial

Jun 04

A Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

I’ve been a bit concerned lately because I have not yet had any contact with the investigating committee. The next lodge meeting is Tuesday, June 5th, and I’ve been afraid that if I don’t get contacted, I’ll have to wait another month. I’m taking it all in stride, understanding that the summer is a very busy time, so we’ll see how this plays out. But I am now greatly encouraged, because I found out a couple things appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel….

Yesterday, I spoke with a Past Master of the lodge and friend from church, and he said that someone from the investigating committee would be contacting me on Monday the 4th, and if that goes OK, then the lodge would vote on me at the meeting on the 5th.

I also spoke with my Masonic friend from church, and he explained a few more things about what I can expect. He said that they would schedule the initiation for about two weeks or so after the lodge votes on me. In fact, he said that if I put my mind to it, I could be initiated, passed, and raised by September. I was concerned about the summer months, but he said that unlike many other lodges, this lodge does not “go dark” during the summer, so I could progress during that time. I’m certainly not going to push anything–heck, I need to get initiated first!–but it’s still encouraging.

So, I am reading many articles,  I continue to read and study what I can, and I continue to look for resources that might be useful and interesting. Roger said that once I am initiated, that he has lots of good resources for me to read and study. He’s a history buff, and I share that interest a bit, so I anticipate learning lots.

This is my eighth article about my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/a-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel

May 11

Moving Forward

A couple days ago, I received a letter from the Lodge secretary officially informing me that the Lodge had voted on and accepted my petition, an investigating committee was formed, and that they would contact me soon. The letter also said that the results of the committee would be presented and voted on at the June 5 meeting.

I called the secretary to let him know that I received the letter, and he was great to talk with! Unlike the letter, he was very informal. He was friendly, and gave me some additional information about what to expect from the investigating committee. Again, it was all very informal. I’m anxious to meet with the Lodge members (so far, I’ve only met just a couple.) If the balance of the membership is anything like the several Masons I have recently met, I think I’ll be in good company!

One point of note is that I was very intrigued by one aspect of the letter, just as I was by the petition: the wording, the embossed Lodge seal, the formality. But it wasn’t just a bunch of legal mumbo-jumbo. It had an air of historical relevance or rootedness. It had a formality about it that is very unusual for this time. It’s difficult to articulate, but these points are things that paint a picture of seriousness and importance. On one hand, I see informal Masons, and yet I see seriousness in the administration that I don’t see anywhere else.

So, I continue to wait while the process moves forward, but the waiting has been very fruitful. As I stated in earlier posts, I’ve been reading and reading and reading. I’m so fascinated by the history and the symbolism, and can’t wait to go deeper to learn more.

Oh, and the Blogs. Wow! I have found a number of Masonic blogs that I frequent, and have read lots of great (and not so great) articles spanning the spectrum of Masonic blogging. Some of the articles are a bit over my head, simply because haven’t been exposed to some of the discussed content, but overall, I’m enjoying some great reads. And I am especially enjoying the blogs by prospective and new Masons. It’s interesting and encouraging to read the stories and personal experiences of others around the world. Hopefully, someone out there will find my musings interesting!

Finally, one visitor here asked me where I’m from, inquiring that maybe I live near him. Well, I’m currently living in Anderson, South Carolina in the good ol’ U.S.A, having moved a few years ago from the Chicago area. Anderson is in the beautiful Upstate of South Carolina where my wife and I are enjoying the open spaces, friendly people, a deep Faith, and solid morals of most of the people we have met. No, it’s not Eden, but it’s a fresh change from the big city life of Chicago.

Oh, and I also found out that there are three Lodges in my area. Maybe that’s not unusual for a dense, metropolitan area, but for a town of 27,000 in a county of about 175,000, it seems like a lot. And the consensus among the Masons I spoke with is that all are fine Lodges.

More later as things progress….

This is my seventh article about my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/moving-forward

May 06

Progress! A Vote!

I spoke with my Mason friend from church, and he said that the Lodge had voted on my petition this week, and had formed an investigating committee of three people. They will be contacting me soon. Despite the "fears" that some have expressed about the investigating committee, I feel completely at ease.

During my waiting, I’ve been reading so much about Freemasonry. I finished the book “Freemasons For Dummies and found it to be an amazing read. Contrary to my earlier decision, I decided to go ahead and read all of the chapters. I read about the rituals, and the symbols, and found both chapters to be very fascinating.

I’ve also read many interesting articles and blogs on the Internet covering a host of topics, and I found lots of interesting and educational information about Freemasonry–all aspects, positive and negative. I’ve avoided articles dealing with specific rituals and “exposures” as I would like my experience to be fresh, but there is still an amazing amount of content that I’ve enjoyed reading. I’ve particularly found the historical articals to be the most interesting–history of the organization, the rituals, and Freemasonty’s current state. I have read literally hundereds of pages of content, and it has only led to piquing my interest more.

So, I contiue to wait, but I am encouraged to hear that the process is moving forward. But the wait has also been refreshing. With everything today being so here and now, and expectations of immedate gratification, I find it to be an interesting time while I wait. It’s hard to describe, but through the reading I have done, I am learning that Freemasonry’s history is rooted deeply in the past, and that the traditions and rituals have been preserved and sustained for many centuries. Those were slower times, and it brings me a different perspective to the organization. It’s something that seems to have much more to it than the typical club. I can’t wait to learn more and begin my real involvement.

This is my sixth article about my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/progress-a-vote

Apr 16

A Time of Waiting and Patience

I told my Mason friend from church that I was reading the book “Freemasons For Dummies”. Though he had not heard of it, he was pleased to see that I was taking the initiative to learn and study Freemasonry. I told him that I was getting anxious about waiting for the process to unfold, and he said that this is “a time of waiting and patience”. In some Lodges, things can move forward very quickly. In others, things can take a while. For me, it seems to be the later. I want things to move forward, and I know they are (apparantly a lot happens behind the scenes) it’s just that sometimes I don’t like waiting. But you know, it’s a good lesson in patience that I’m grateful for.

I’m really enjoying reading and learning the history of Freemasonry. I’m almost done with the “Freemasons For Dummies” book, and I continue to be fascinated by what it presents. For example, I never knew that the Boy Scounts and its honor organization the “Order Of The Arrow” (OA) had some roots in Freemasonry. While they are not Masonic organizations, many of their founders were Masons, and Masonic influence is very evident in ceremonies and moral teachings. This really hit home for me because I received the Eagle Scout award while I was a Scout, and I was elected by my troop to receive the Ordeal honor in OA (Ordeal being the the first “level” of OA) and I later took the Brotherhood honor. In college, I pledged the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, which is an offshoot of the Boy Scouts. It did have its social elements, but its main goal was brotherhood and service.

So I do have some familiarity with involvement in fraternal organizations, and I have had the honor of achieving goals of moral and fraternal importance. As an adult, I am no longer active in these organizations, but interestingly, the Scout Oath and Law, and the OA Obligation do cross my mind frequently. I guess the lessons I learned as a child form those organizations have stuck with me.

So, as I continue to wait and be patient, I also continue to read my book, and explore online. Despite the proliferation of anti-Masonic articles, there are many informative and interesting articles and blogs to explore. It’s very interesting to read the history of Freemasonry, how it has influenced society, and, more importantly, what other Masons went through and how they perceive Freemasonry.

This is my fifth article about my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/a-time-of-waiting-and-patience

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