Tag Archive: mason

Dec 04

Brother, take a seat!

Less than three weeks after being raised to the degree of Master Mason, I was installed as one of the Stewards of our Lodge. The new Junior Warden-Elect appointed me and the other brother who was raised with me as the new Stewards for 2008. I’m honored that the opportunity to begin moving through the chairs has come so quickly! I look forward to being able to participate in the degree work, the business meetings, and to provide cheerful service to the Lodge officers where needed.

The December business meeting was the first meeting I have been able to attend as a Mason, so it was exciting. Though the meeting was likely longer than usual because of the installation ceremony, I found it to be quite interesting. And it was impressive to watch representatives from the Grand Lodge performing the ceremony.

So I look forward to attending the next year’s meetings, getting more involved, and helping out as one of the new Stewards. I’m excited to see where Freemasonry takes me in 2008!

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/brother-take-a-seat

Nov 19

Raised to Master Mason!

This past Saturday, another Masonic brother and I were raised to the degree of Master Mason, the Third Degree in the Blue Lodge. It was an interesting, informative, and certainly memorable degree. We had our Fellowcraft examination, followed by the Third Degree work. Our Fellowcraft examination went very smoothly despite not having spent any time together going over the questions and answers. I guess we were duly and truly prepared.

After the examination, we began the Third Degree work. Interestingly, this was conducted solely by Past Masters. I’m not sure if it is global to Freemasonry, or something specific to the Grand Lodge of South Carolina, but the first time that any Third Degree work is done in a lodge during a year, the work is conducted by Past Masters. (Which means, sad to say, that our first Third Degree work this year was done all the way in November. I hope that next year, we have more earlier.) Of the 24 or so people who attended, about nine or ten of them were Past Masters, and they did an excellent job with the degree work.

Obviously, I cannot go into any detail, but suffice it to say, the Third Degree degree work was impressive and very, very memorable. Initially, I had read a lot of information online about the various degrees, but after being initiated to Entered Apprentice and then passed to Fellowcraft, I decided not to read any more about the Third Degree so as not to “spoil” things. Fortunately, nothing was spoiled, and I have to say that experiencing the degree work was exciting. I’ve had the opportunity over the past several months to see about six First Degrees, and I can’t wait to see another Third Degree from the “other side” for a different perspective.

After I received my Third Degree, two key points were made to me by multiple people on different occasions:

“While this is the final degree in the Blue Lodge, this is really just the beginning of my journey in Freemasonry.”

“You will get out of Freemasonry what you put into it.”

So now, I am a Master Mason! I can attend regular business meetings, vote on new candidates, get more involved in the Lodge, join other Masonic organizations requiring a Third Degree prior to joining, wear a Masonic ring, and a host of other things. I look forward to continuing my journey in Freemasonry, and getting more involved!

This is my fifteenth article on my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/raised-to-master-mason

Oct 08

I Think I “Get It”

Obviously I still have a lot to learn about Freemasonry having only recently been passed to the second degree. So until I progress further, I can really only comment on my current knowledge and exposure to Freemasonry as a Fellow Craft. But of what I do understand now, I think I “get it” concerning just what Freemasonry is all about, and in many ways more importantly, what it is not.

I was driving home the other evening from some first degree work at another lodge, and I was thinking about the work. It got me thinking about all of the anti-masonic stuff I’ve read on the ‘Net. It got me thinking about what it’s all about…just what are the basics…the simple explanation. As I see it, once you pare it all down to its core, it all just seems so simple:

I see an organization comprised of men who have each taken the initiative to learn how to join the organization; who are ultimately granted membership through initiation; who obligate themselves to commit to the ideals of the organization and to not disclose its secrets; who commit to learn the material required to advance in the two remaining degrees; and who ultimately commit themselves to abide by a code of good conduct to improve their character, to embrace the pursuit of knowledge, and to help their fellow man. I believe that in knowing a man to be a Mason, you can be assured that he has experienced all of what I just described, and that he should be trusted to be held to what he has experienced. How that man conducts himself is ultimately his personal responsibility, so being a Mason is, by no means, a guarantee that he will improve himself, but he is provided with the tools to conduct himself in a manner that is very atypical, especially today. And so far, my impression of the men who I know to be Masons is much higher than I ever thought.

So that’s about it! Is there more to Freemasonry? Of course! But at its basic level, it just seems so simple. It’s unfortunate that so many seem to really complicate it.

This is my fourteenth article on my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/i-think-i-get-it-2

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

Sep 25

Passed to the Second Degree!

Tonight, I had the honor of being passed to the second degree of Fellow Craft. It was a bit unnerving at first because my coaches have had very, busy work schedules, so I didn’t have as much time to work with them as I would have liked. But in the end, I actually did quite well. Originally, we had three candidates scheduled, but unfortunately, one had a work commitment that he could not get out of, so it was two of us receiving our second degree. Hopefully, he will be able to have his second degree in the next week or so. The examination part actually went quite smoothly with only a couple minor glitches. Though we had not practiced together, it probably was hard to tell as we each knew our stuff.

The second degree lecture, like the first, was impressive, but went much deeper, and it was given so well. The man giving it had not done it in over seven months, and he was asked just the night before if he would like to give it. With very minimal prompting, he gave it almost flawlessly. And was it an interesting lecture! The night ended in some good fellowship, and lots of congratulations.

As I was driving home, I had to call my dad and let him know that I had gotten my second degree. Being a Master Mason, he was proud. Kinda fun following in at least some of my father’s footsteps! Depending on the timing of things, he will be visiting in the Fall, so he might be able to visit while I receive my third degree. We’ll see.

Over the past three months since my initiation, I had the opportunity to attend five other first degrees–three at my lodge, and two at other local lodges. That really helped clarify and reinforce some of the material. Of note was some first degree work done in Townville, SC where the local Sherrif’s department conducted the initiation. It was very impressive seeing uniformed police officers doing all of the work to initiate one of their fellow officers. The the work was very well done. It’s great to see community leaders dedicated to Godly work of integrity. I have always had great respect for people in law enforcement, but this really raised the bar. Oh, and at some first degree work at my local lodge, they asked me if I wanted to sit as a Junior Deacon! That was lots of fun and it let me be right in the middle of things. Again, it helped me in preparing for my second degree. I hope to be able to participate like that again soon.

I have decided not to coast too long after getting my second degree. I’m kind of on a roll, so why not maintain the momentum? I need to wait at least 28 days before I can go for my third degree, so I could conceivably get it at the end of October, but I’m not going to rush it unnecessarily. I want to try to do better with the third degree than I did with the second, so if it does take longer, so be it.

So, my journey continues, and as I learn more and more about Freemasonry, I am coming to understand more of what it is, and more importantly, what it is not. I’ve had some excellent discussions with fellow Christians, non-Christians, Masons, and non-Masons, and I am very comfortable in my decision to pursue Masonry. I’ll keep you updated as I continue onward.

This is my twelfth article on my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/passed-to-the-second-degree

Jun 22

Some More First Degree Work

Last night, I had the honor of attending another local lodge in Belton, SC to watch their first degree work for three candidates. Two brothers from my lodge attended, and two of the brothers from the Belton lodge who helped with my first degree work were also there. It was very welcoming, and nice to see some familiar faces in an otherwise unfamiliar setting. As I get more and more involved in Freemasonry, I see that I am going to be meeting lots and lots of people!

The degree work was basically the same as at my initiation with very few exceptions. It was so nice to be able to see things from a different vantage point. I enjoyed being able to really focus on what was being said, and the order in which things were said. I actually found myself mouthing much of the work. (I guess my attempts at memorization are at least a bit fruitful.) Watching the initiation also cleared up a number of words that I have missed in studying. This will definitely help me in better learning my work for my second degree. I am now very interested in attending more first degree work in my area!

Of significant note was an amazing Masonic brother named Justin Parnell, who is the brother who gave the first degree lecture. (Sidebar: I don’t know what it is about the name “Justin”. I have met more guys named “Justin” through Freemasonry than anywhere else. I think I’ve met 5 or 6 in the two initiations alone, and that was out of about 50 or so people. Weird!) Anyway, My lodge was unable to schedule someone to do my first degree lecture, so I attended another first degree lodge  to hear it there. Justin gave me my first degree lecture, and hearing him giving it to the three candidates and me was so helpful. With very little prompting, he gave it all from memory–and we’re talking about a 20 minute or so lecture! Way to go Justin!

I look forward to getting together with some brothers to help coach me. I can get my second degree 28 days after my first degree, but I still feel that I have a long way to go in memorizing.

This is my eleventh article on my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/some-more-first-degree-work

Jun 15

Initiated as an Entered Apprentice!

On Tuesday evening, June 12, I was initiated as an Entered Apprentice into the Divver lodge #349 in Anderson, South Carolina. As I reflect back over the evening of my initiation, the one word that keeps popping into my mind is “impressive”. I was so impressed by the many events of the evening: From the friendliness of the members, to their devotion to the craft; from the seriousness and solemness of the ceremonies, to the memorization displayed by the team conducting the ceremony. It was certainly an impressive evening–one I’ll not forget.

As you have probably read in my earlier posts, as I waited on the process from petitioning to initiation, things seemed to be moving along at a slow pace. This, of course, was only a reflection of my impatience. But then, “Bam!” things started happening quickly. My initiation was scheduled for just two days after I spoke with the investigating committee!

On a side note, the night of the initiation was bitter-sweet. On the down side, I was disappointed because it turns out that several of my Mason friends who were very instrumental in my decision to join were unfortunately not informed of the night. They actually attend different lodges, so it’s completely understandable that the lodge I joined would not have informed them. And I simply neglected to let them know as I was all caught up in the moment. But the good news is that I met a group of guys that night who are sincere, friendly, and are certainly worth getting to know better. I will make sure that my friends are invited to my Second degree ceremony.

Obviously, I won’t go into any details of the initiation–what went on inside the walls of the lodge will stay inside the walls of the lodge. If you really want to know the details, go seek out a Mason, and ask him about joining. That’s really the only way you’ll get any accurate picture of what it’s all about. I will say, though, that I was thoroughly impressed by the members who conducted the initiation and lecture. Everything was done from memory, and it was done well. After all was said and done, several members commented about their mistakes and stumbles, but really, they are their own worst critics. From my vantage point, it was very well done. Did I say I was impressed?

Our lodge is very casual in appearance and attire, unlike the glitzy, expensive-looking lodges you see in many pictures. But it has a close, intimate feel, and the ceremony was taken very seriously. What was most amazing about the initiation (the entire evening, in fact) was that it was “all about me.” I was the only candidate, so the evening was devoted to my initiation. The meal, the initiation, the lecture, the social time–all prepared and conducted for me. That busy men would take time out of their lives to prepare and conduct an event spanning several hours specifically for me is truly amazing and very humbling. Yet the excitement, joy, and dedication that was evident in everyone present really spoke volumes to me about their devotion.

After having read numerous articles on the ‘Net, and reading the excellent book, “Freemasonry For Dummies”, I thought I may have spoiled some of the evening, but it turns out that I simply didn’t know what to expect. Though I probably did read more than most would, none of what I read spoiled anything. In many ways, some of my prior knowledge and information helped me to better understand the initiation. The prevailing mantra during the evening was, “Everyone here went through the exact same thing.” I wasn’t sure to be comforted or intimidated! The whole evening was at the same time solemn, exciting, humorous, friendly, unnerving, intriguing, educational, and informative. I can’t wait to go through the remaining two degrees.

So, the wait is over, and I am now an Entered Apprentice Mason. But like so many of the steps in life’s journeys, this is just the beginning. It is now time to work. My proficiency work will consist of lots of memorization. Based on my reading about how other lodges conduct the examinations, it appears that the South Carolina lodges don’t cut any corners. Much must be memorized. But it all seems manageable, and it’s exciting to learn. The Master of the lodge said that he will schedule my Fellowcraft degree in 28 days with two other people–if I can learn the required material.

I look forward to the coming weeks as I strive to learn what’s required, and hopefully earn my second degree. I’ll continue to post my thoughts as they come.

This is my tenth article about my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/initiated-as-an-entered-apprentice

Jun 11

The Date Is Set!

Today, I received a call from the Master of the lodge, and he said that my Entered Apprentice initiation is scheduled for 7:00PM on Tuesday, June 12.

Last week, the investigating committee contacted me. We had a very nice talk that was informal and low-key, and was far from my original impression of the investigation process. It was more like a job interview than anything else, but job interviews really impose more pressure. We discussed some of my beliefs, who I am, what I do for a living, how I learned about Freemasonry, etc. And the fact that they were so nice, polite, and far from intimidating, made our discussion so much easier. Yet at the same time, they spoke with an authority and a knowledge that echoed and confirmed with great precision those things I have been reading over the past two months. I was impressed.

They told me a bit about the lodge, what the next steps were, and what to expect. The lodge is “Divver” lodge #349 in Anderson, South Carolina. It is one of three lodges in the area. Interestingly, it is not the lodge that my friend from church is a member of. (He is the Masonic friend from church who I asked about joining.) But a number of church members that I know attend Divver, so I won’t feel like a complete outsider.

I found it interesting to learn that the Divver lodge is not “older leaning”. Though there are older gentlemen who are active in the lodge, the majority tend to be younger–mid 30′s or so. I’m 41, so it’s great to see that kind of mix. I read so many stories on the ‘Net of doom and gloom about the future of Freemasonry, yet locally, I see three very active lodges bringing in new members all the time. Maybe it’s regional, or maybe I’m just lucky, but I’m pleased to know that Freemasonry is quite active in my town.

So, the investigating committee reported favorably, the lodge voted to accept me, and on June 12, I go to the lodge to go over some preliminary things. Then, the Entered Apprentice degree work begins. It’s been a couple months since I turned in my petition, and the wait has been long, but very rewarding. I’ve learned a lot about Freemasonry, and can’t wait to make the next step to become an Entered Apprentice!

I’ll post a follow-up article after the initiation.

This is my ninth article about my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/the-date-is-set

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 22

But it’s more than that….

When I started looking into Freemasonry, I was overwhelmed by all of the information and varied views about just what it is all about. So I read and read, I talked with Masons, and I thought about just what Freemasonry is. And this is what I came up with:

It’s a club.
You join it. You attend meetings. Business is conducted at the meetings. You gather socially. You do fundraisers. But it’s more than that…

It’s a fraternity.
You join in brotherhood. You pledge your loyalty to it. You help your fellow brothers, and you receive help from them. But it’s more than that…

It’s philanthropic.
It uses your money and time to help others. It helps the poor. It helps the needy. But it’s more than that…

It’s a mystery.
You seek it, it doesn’t seek you. Its secrets are held in high regard. It imparts timeless wisdom. It uses symbols and allegory to explain itself. It has secret signs and words. But it’s more than that…

It’s open and visible.
Its secrets are published. It’s secrets are known. Its buildings are prominent and visible. Its members often wear identifiable pins and rings. But it’s more than that…

It’s a system of morality.
It teaches good morals. It instructs good ethics. It promotes integrity. It despises falsehood. But it’s more than that…

It believes in God.
It finds God in nature. It finds God in Science. It finds God in Mathematics. It finds evidence of God everywhere. But it’s more than that…

It’s selective.
It requires belief in God. It investigates you. It votes on you. It decides if you are worthy for it. But it’s more than that…

It sets aside differences and breaks down walls.
It doesn’t discuss religion. It doesn’t discuss politics. It accepts men of all God-believing theologies. It is open to all denominations. But it’s more than that…

It’s theater.
Its rituals and ceremonies rival many local theater groups. But it’s more than that…

So what is it? It’s Freemasonry! But it’s so much more…

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/but-its-more-than-that

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