Scottish Rite Valley of Tallahassee

Scottish Rite Valley of Tallahassee

What is Scottish Rite

The mission of the Tallahassee Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, SJ is to increase the knowledge of its members through expanded and enlightened teachings of the basic Masonic principles; to grow Masonic Fraternalism; to inform and...
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Why Scottish Rite? A Matter of Honor Remember when a man’s word was his bond? When a handshake sealed a deal? When a man’s honor meant more than on a piece of paper? These virtues...
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Philanthropy

Children are tomorrow’s citizens and the hope for our world. The value of this philanthropy has long been apparent. Thousands of youngsters across the state of Florida have been helped significantly. With the excellent work...
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Scottish Rite Valley of Tallahassee

Voice of the Valley – Vol I, No.2, April 2023

Voice of the Valley in Tally Newsletter Vol I, No.2, April 2023 Managing Editor: Paul R. Swanson 32˚Executive Editor: Douglas G. Knowles 33˚ Appointed Officers... Read More "Voice of the Valley – Vol I, No.2, April 2023"

2023 SE Masonic Symposium

April 29, 2023, SE Masonic Symposium, Tampa, Florida Led by Ill Doug Knowles we journeyed to Tampa, Florida on April 29th as scheduled. Four of... Read More "2023 SE Masonic Symposium"

JROTC Award Program Presentation

Since 1998 the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite for the Southern Jurisdiction initiated a program of recognition for outstanding Junior ROTC students approved by... Read More "JROTC Award Program Presentation"

Spring Reunion 2023

The Spring Reunion of 2023 was a great success and an excellent time for all who attended, worked, served, and or were present supporting our... Read More "Spring Reunion 2023"
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Masonic District 7 Membership SWOT analysis

by Paul R. Swanson, 32° KCCH

November 18, 2023

I took the job of membership committeeman for this district seriously when I accepted the appointment by RW Richard McGlew, our current DDGM. I wanted to make an impact and to leave my fellow masons better off for my time served. So far, all but one lodge where I have offered my help have responded with “crickets”. Simply put, no one wants to work. I have decided to create a report and offer it to my brothers. I have already written a book on the subject years ago. This is putting some of the insights from my book into action if the membership believes they want to move forward.

In District 7 there is a very real need for changes to our usual way of doing things if we are to grow. I have heard all the excuses over the last 3 years since I have moved into this area. Some of them I heard while I was in Tallahassee and before that Tempa area lodges as well. While some issues are harder to overcome than others, we can not only survive but thrive if we are willing to do the “work”. Very few “walk-ins” that simply call, and join are to be found these days. Here is how we can change that narrative and start growing in a process-driven way.

Business evaluations have evolved over time. One of the most useful for both business and nonprofit volunteer groups like us is the combination of a SWOT, which simply lists the activities both observed and reported from surveys and other sources, and a 7-S analysis. The SWOT list is divided into strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Some items may be listed in more than one place.

The second and by far harder to compile portion of a business analysis is the McKinsey 7-S model. The key elements of structure, strategy, system, shared values, skill, style, and staff are also evaluated and graded. They are further evaluated into soft elements and hard elements.  Without this model in conjunction with a SWOT, the SWOT just becomes a list, without texture or human emotion. The effort placed into a proper evaluation of a group, particularly if a proper survey is conducted, produces a very effective process for any cultural change that is needed, particularly for individual lodges looking to rebuild memberships.

You can’t keep going the same way you have been, or you will continue to stay where you are. Progress and change require “work”.

Strengths

The district is large, with 14 lodges creating an unusual amount of leadership opportunities for interested members. Interested in holding a chair, you’re in luck. If one is not available at your lodge, several others are usually available at a nearby lodge, particularly in our eastern group of lodges. Many members join multiple lodges.

Recently a DeMolay chapter has been established in Lake City and is growing. The one in Perry Lodge has yet to organize but they do have a charter.

There are a few examples of generational masonic involvement, that is grandfather and grandson, father, and son, etc.

I found one example so far of members meeting for esoteric light. Unfortunately, the group was dependent on the leader and no backup was found to carry on when that leader had to shorten his cable tow. The interest is there, but the leadership is intermittent.

There are a few unselfish members who will travel and help other lodges in their degree work and the associated lectures. This personal touch is significant and avoids videos or other recordings that might not be as impressive for the petitioner.

Often Masons will be involved in several volunteer groups to achieve their personal goals of self-improvement and leadership opportunities, with the Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Toastmasters, and assorted church associations rounding out the usual examples. This interconnectedness brings about personal growth opportunities which I have personally seen as beneficial in Madison, and I hear it is true elsewhere.

Weaknesses

Competition for our potential members’ time is our number one issue. We have several other groups who can provide an experience for the same group of men that we can, minus the uniqueness of our fraternity. The Moose, the Elks, the Lions, the Toastmasters, Rotary, Kiwanis, and many other fraternal, civic, and veteran volunteer groups are our competition. Make no mistake, these other volunteer groups are our competition for good men looking to become better men as well!

With kids’ afterschool events, men working longer hours often, and expanded parenting expectations placed on today’s men, we must drive home not only what we have to offer but we must deliver on that promise, that is making good men better as we advertise. Rote memorizing of ritual isn’t fitting that expectation for many members, nor potential members who grew up knowing a mason in many cases. Sometimes that’s all we are offering in their eyes, that is memorization of old stuff. They don’t see the value of their time investment.

We seem like a fraternity to do a poor job of demonstrating to our young men how valuable our fraternity can be to them. This can be seen in how many children refuse to follow in our footsteps when they are eligible.

With such a large district (90 odd driving miles between the extreme East lodges and the extreme West lodge) most members do not wish to visit or travel far. Regionality is the watchword at the expense of unity and camaraderie.

District 7 is divided into sections by the Shriners, the York Rite, and the Scottish Rite jurisdictions, making divided loyalties hard to unite our district for any leverage of advertising, promotions, etc. For instance, Morocco Shrine out of Jacksonville commands most of the district except for Madison, Perry, and Greenville which are under the Marzuq Shrine territory. Madison and Perry have individual Shrine Clubs under Marzuq while the Lake City Shrine Club is under Morocco out of Jacksonville.

Jacksonville Scottish Rite and Tallahassee Scottish Rite don’t divide the area as much as to allow those who choose to drive to each respective temple for their meetings to follow their wishes. I know of several members who live in Madison who belonged to Jacksonville Scottish Rite. Tallahassee Scottish Rite has members from Tampa and as far west as Panama City. Jurisdictions are fluid, meeting member’s needs. This is not true of lodges for the most part.

The York Rite out of Jacksonville is very active in the eastern section of District 7 under Rusty Ludlam. I am unaware of any YR members who travel to Tallahassee from our district, but likely there are a few.

Eastern Star failed at Madison Lodge years ago. A couple of our eastern lodges have active groups, but they are small.

Recent changes to insurance for lodges have seen significantly increased prices when insurance can be obtained. This creates budget stress which is passed on to the membership.

We want to offer members more than just the reading of the minutes, approving the payment of bills, and the sick and distress notifications. I am unaware of any member in my 33 years who joined for these reports or wishes to attend a meeting where that’s all they can usually expect.

Most lodges are seeing costs and cash issues magnifying alarmingly.

Most of the lodges in District 7 have rejected all help to rebuild their membership by the current DDGM committee. One lodge is considering its options before embarking on the path of the empowered volunteer. Far more could benefit from the program.

The attitude of not “recruiting” and waiting for a “walk-in” membership request for a petition prevails in the district. No one wants to expend any effort or work, despite the leadership training from GL which clearly says members can initiate a conversation about joining.

Far too many members do not participate in any events, free or otherwise. I have suggested surveying them from a safe source to find trends and paths to help them return, but so far none have been conducted. A survey by a lodge leader or even a past master risks the member not being truthful or helpful in the survey, particularly if that leader is part of the issue of why many are not involved in the first place. Garbage in, garbage out, as the saying goes. Only a proper survey is worth the effort. If this is completed properly, the information gathered is golden, guard it well. Most of the public in our district seem unaware that a Masonic Lodge exists in their location. If they are aware, they have not seen any community involvement in years. Perception is belief, even if it is not technically true. We must change their perceptions so that we can shift the narrative towards progress and away from regression.

Opportunities

The Master Mason’s Association for District 7 is attempting to bridge the gap created by the driving distance by shifting its monthly meetings between lodges and allowing revenue sharing as a reward for hosting the meeting. The jury is still out if this will break down the social barriers and spark a bit more competition for the traveling gavel between lodges.

Several lodges are attempting to do community work. One has a long history of helping a school and sharing scholarships.

Several lodges manage to have a local paper print events and degrees.

Several lodges have a Facebook page, but the number of views for most of them is slight. This limits the opportunities for the GL FB program to advertise reimbursement for membership sales leads.

Currently, no lodge is holding any esoteric Masonic education of any kind. One lodge reportedly was but that group has ceased to continue meeting. This is a huge, missed opportunity. Perhaps streaming some esoteric light regularly would be a potential solution.

Podcasts on Masonry abound and are very innovative as well as interesting and educational. Maybe meet regularly and review one or two of them and then carry the conversation to the lodge membership in a report for further discussion?

One in four members nationally, according to a survey join our fraternity only to discover that we don’t have the self-improvement processes in place to make good men better, as we advertise. They often vote with their feet, that is in response to what they see as false advertising. This can be addressed and reversed, but it would take “work”.

As we improve our community outreach, we should uncover petitioners who have wanted to join and are now motivated to join, as Madison # 11 has recently discovered to their benefit. This is as close to a “walk-in” petitioner as most lodges will ever see, with no real work required beyond the normal checks of mental, moral, and physical requirements.

It has been suggested we do a much better job as a group involving our family members in the public events we are involved in. The family members should know how much we value the fraternity and how much it cares about our families. They need to see value in their lives as they grow up so that it transfers to their lives naturally as an adult. The attitude of, “Shush, it’s a secret” wink, wink, has caused at least one generation of children to totally reject our fraternity.

One in four members wants better-directed Masonic education on a predictable schedule. This is not the current GL masonic digest training that is required for officers. A survey would narrow the topics a bit for an opportunity to improve the stated meetings.

Threats

The threats to District 7 are many and varied.

Budget threats, including recent insurance companies leaving Florida, are a huge issue, particularly for small lodges.

The current directive from the GL is to have all officers take the Masonic Digest training. This may make them subject matter experts on the digest, but it comes at a high cost in membership resentment and time spent in my observation. Is there a better way to promote harmony while mastering the digest?

The district is not unified by history, territory, or any distinct masonic camaraderie. It used to be two districts and still operates that way.

The loud membership complaints about driving 90 minutes or more between lodges is frequently voiced, particularly by the elderly at night on rural roads. They vote with their feet by not participating in visitation opportunities.

Fragmented alignments and membership are reflected in many ways.  For the 2023 Tristate Degree in Dothan, Alabama this year only one District 7 member attended. All DDGM’s were expected by the GM to attend, but many didn’t. A last-minute York Rite degree was substituted on that date and reportedly well attended, covering most of District 7. An opportunity to enrich the craft was missed, unfortunately. I later had several claims it was the fault of a lack of communication.

Several lodges are seeing shrinking membership and even less regular participation. The remedies require work.

Members are going NPD at a predictable rate, without recovery in most cases.

It took me a while to unearth this issue. There is a history of blackballing a first petition in our district in a few lodges. In my 33 years of masonry, I have never heard of such a poor excuse for abuse of a system, claiming that this tests if the applicant is serious and will complete the degrees.

Recent GL efforts to subject the membership to more formal attire while in the lodge, even suggesting in a GL magazine article that members should leave formal wear in the lodge if a time constraint is keeping a brother from “dressing up” are unrealistic. Is GL listening? Currently, district 7 is made up of mostly tradesmen, loggers, farmers, mechanics, and electricians types from my observations. The suit-wearing public is not remotely the largest group of our current membership. In summary, these SWOT listed items are curable, nor is this a complete listing of all potential issues pro or con. These issues simply require work and an open mind for re-engaging the members who are not participating while cultivating a better public image for the next generation to find our fraternity worthy of their time and energy.

Lodges wanting to rebuild their membership can drill down to the simple things. Get a steering committee ready and set them to work listing the likely objections petitioners might have and the responses they approve for each one. This should be a comprehensive list. Set the empowered volunteer to hand out cards for the preset event that the petitioners are being invited to, with speakers ready to present the offer. Be ready for an influx of new members to process, so ritual lovers need to be ready for the degrees. Nothing is worse than promising new members an experience and then not delivering. Look for quality over quantity.

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Scottish Rite Education Story 3

Ref pg 111 The Freemason in America

Scottish Rite helps create public education supported by the government.

After WW1 American Freemasonry began lobbying the Federal Government for federally funded public schools. In 1920 the Supreme Counsel Southern Jurisdiction USA, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite declared itself in favor of the creation of a Department of Education with a secretary in the cabinet.

The masonic historian Albert G. Mackey credited the Scottish Rite for the “passage of a federal education bill that embodied the principle of federal aid to the public schools in order to provide funds for the equalization of educational opportunities to the children of the nation.”

Ref The Freemasons in America pg 104-105

Harry S. Truman, known as “The buck stops here” president was Masonries 13th president of the United States. He received his Scottish Rite degrees in Kansas City in January and March of 1917. On October 19, 1945, he received his 33d at Washington D. C. while president.

Ref The Freemasons in America Pg 40

It has been said that in every pioneer settlement of the West first came the church, then the school, and then the Masonic Lodge.

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Scottish Rite Education

Ref pg 221, House Undivided, by Allen E. Roberts

Battle of Ezra Chapel in Georgia on July 28, 1864.

A group of Confederates were sent to locate the body of Colonel Ben H. Heart of the 22nd Alabama.

While searching the group found a marker made of two cracker box boards inscribed: “Here lies Capt. Thomas I. Sharpe, of the 10th Mississippi Regimen, buried with full honors by his brother Masons of the New Jersey Regiment.”

Ref book, Better Angels of Our Nature: Freemasonry in the American Civil War, By Michael A Halleran, a freelance writer, practicing attorney, and active mason.

Savannah Lodge Stories

In the records of a lodge in Savannah and the Georgia Masonic Messenger after Union soldiers captured the beaches on Hilton Head a white flag of truce was used to deliver a message to the Confederate lines. A Union soldier had passed his fellow craft and would they be able to find a nearby lodge to test and raise him to a Master Mason?

Within days a detail of Confederate calvary escorted the Fellowcraft Mason and several Union Master Masons of the North safely through the 30 miles to Savannah to conduct the raising, with all returning safely afterwards.

John McElroy of Co. L. 16th Illinois Calvary in his writings mentions masons providing medicine, food, tent materials, and more within the prisoner camp.

In Wisconsin, three lodges were forced to give up their charters because too many of their members were in the Armed forces. However, in this same state 19 new lodges were chartered during the same period of three years.

From the internet

Savannah Lodge completed a Union soldier’s MM degree during the conflict.

L. J. Williams of Harvard, NY enlisted in the 114th NY Volunteers at the beginning of the Civil War. He received the EA and FC degrees in Downsville Lodge # 464 prior to leaving home. He was captured and imprisoned near Savannah, Ga. He made his status known to his friends in the north and they used the proper channels and got in touch with Zerubbabel Lodge in Savannah. Would they convey the 3d degree? They did and then afterward, he was allowed to escape to his friends. He never revealed who helped him or how it happened.

Ref pg 152 House Undivided, By Allen E. Roberts

Apron from 1676 saves a home!

Frank Brame was living alone with his mother near West Point while his father and elder brothers were in the Confederate Army. He awakened in the night to matrices being piled in his homes hallway and lit on fire. One soldier found something and ran off to tell an officer who forced those engaged to cease. Guards were posted and the group was later pushed away by Nathan Forest. The object found was a Masonic Apron, “of curious workmanship and material that had been in the Brame family since 1676.”

Ref House Reunited, pg 14 – 22 by Allen E. Roberts

Individuals avoiding conscription.

“A substitute Wanted!” This was found in an advertisement in the Southern Confederacy, on May 3, 1862. Call at the Masonic Building. Note that the procuring of substitutes became a huge market, developing into brokers and agents, many of whom disregarded the laws of the state as well as moral considerations. Clams of prices for substitutes rose from $1,500 to $10,000 and more. Conscription was not the least bit popular in either the north or south.

Ref House Reunited, pg 14 – 22 by Allen E. Roberts

Who was blamed for the draft?

Who was blamed for the draft that resulted in this substitute market? In short, Freemasons.

In Ozaukee Lodge # 17, Port Washington Wisconsin November 10, 1862, a mob ransacked the lodge. It took a month and the use of troops to restore order.

Side note, not a single Grand Lodge missed an Annual Communication during the 4 years of war.

Side note, military traveling lodges were popular with the soldiers but had mixed results from a Grand Lodge viewpoint. Also, surviving records were scant with the exception of Texas Military traveling lodges which maintained fairly complete records. The claim is that the quality of many of those entering Masonry would never have passed if they were in their regions with a local lodge. From Texas, 33 of the Military Lodges issued dispensation, “a surprisingly large number…made complete returns to Grand Lodge”, according to Clyde B. Westbrook. And Texas is fortunate in another respect—the documents have been retained in the Grand Lodge Library and Museum.

Ref House Reunited, pg 14 – 22 by Allen E. Roberts

The Confederates guerilla warfare was very successful.

In the upper New England state of Vermont, the Confederacy struck. In St. Albans, A Royal Arch Chapter had a meeting interrupted by the noise of their banks being robbed. 21 Confederate soldiers raided the banks at 3 pm on Oct 19, 1864. The Confederates held the town in the name of the Confederacy for less than 30 minutes. Then, hotly pursued they escaped to Canada. The robbers successfully removed many thousands of dollars from the town. They also left several buildings ablaze, one for a full day from Greek fire in the water closets of the American Hotel.

Ref House Reunited, pg 14 – 22 by Allen E. Roberts

Union conduct after Savannah falls.

Savannah fell on December 21, 1864, to Federal forces. General John W. Geary was the Union’s commanding officer. His generous conduct moved Solomon’s Lodge # 1, F & AM during its “regular communication” held at “7 ½ O’clock” on the evening of March 15, 1866: (several paragraphs praising the conduct of General Geary, who was a Mason. This resolution is important because it shows what the commanding officer of an “enemy” force did from the perspective of those he had liberated. It shows another Freemason who was putting into practice those lessons he had learned within a Masonic Lodge. He was the Governor of Pennsylvania by this time, and he wrote a very humble reply as well.

Poem:
Conrad Hahn

But men still wage a bitter warfare

Against the powers of hate and greed.

Ignorance spawns anew her coarse and spiteful soldiers:

Yet brothers everywhere our love will be needed.
Now wake the souls of those who dare to see

That life is love

And love will win

Wherever men must Brothers Be!

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Religion and Politics are Proscribed from Open Lodge, not because they themselves cause Disruptions and Disharmony but because too few Brothers have Mastered Civil Discourse – one of the very core goals of the Trivium.

Masterful Brothers have no difficulty whatsoever Respectfully Discussing Religion and Politics, even when faced with the Ignorant Disrespect of others.

On the other hand, Brothers who wear titles and who have not done the work to earn them are one of the central reasons such Proscriptions exist.

John S. Nagy, Masonic Author, and Coach

When I became a Mason in 1990 while serving as a Navy Recruiter in Iowa the rule was politics and religion were not discussed in lodge, not just a Tyled lodge but when you physically entered the building. You took off your public hat (or Navy Dixie Cup) and placed your “masonic” hat on as you entered the building. Why? If we have become “masters” as the coach alludes to in the quote shown we should have no problems discussing any topics with other so-called masters, right? 

How strong is your masonic foundation? I’m not talking about your relationship with Jesus, which is personal and not within the framework of Masonry. I’m talking about the masonic directions found in the 3 degrees for your temple building, your character improvement analogized as a temple. Have you mastered the 7 liberal arts and sciences? Have you ever tried?

Do you wear a masonic ring often? Do you have a masonic license plate on a vehicle you drive? How about a masonic sticker or emblem? Are you proud to be a mason? I hope so, I sure am. I also have several indicators that I am a Mason in my home. I hope you do as well. Masonry is worthy of more than just lip service.

Character building is one of the main goals of our fraternity. We claim to, “Make good men better”. Great slogan, but what does it mean? Does going to a lodge meeting improve your character? Does ritual memory work and acting in one of the degrees provide such improvement? Perhaps the so-called higher degrees provide for character improvement via attendance. If not, what does?

Well, according to several masonic authors and particularly Coach Nagy, the “work” is what we are avoiding or not completing if we can’t claim to have the level of maturity to hold a conversation on religion or politics and present a calm manner while moving from topic to topic with aplomb towards a logical conclusion, my interpretation of the many masonic author’s statements. So where does the “Work” begin? Start with the 7 liberal arts and sciences.

We should after studying the first three arts (the trivium) suggested in the 2nd degree lecture be able to hold ourselves to any conversation with calm resolve, reasoned evidence, and detailed presentation leading to a logical analysis and if done well, an agreed upon result. This is what is expected of a “master”. Does this describe you? It is a very high bar, one which is most certainly Mason-worthy!

To check yourself on the 7 liberal arts and sciences worthiness, consider the following possibilities. Does your car show your politics in hateful ways? How about religion? Slogans such as “Own the Libs” “Lock her up” or “Let’s go Brandon” are examples of political drama slogans promoting hate and divisiveness. Do you really feel these are in line with Masonic harmony? I hope not.

In 2022 I tried to visit as many lodges in Florida Masonic Districts 6 and 7 as I could. I went to Grand Lodge as a proxy voter for my lodge for the first time in my 32 years as a Mason. Everywhere I went, politics was front and center as a topic of conversation and controversy, sometimes while Tyled. Harmony be damned it seemed. Perhaps we need to return to our character building and let the politics reside outside the lodge building where it belongs.

We can all complete the “Work” and improve our Masonic Temple! May harmony prevail in all our interactions and efforts with Masons and mankind.

Paul R. Swanson, 32°   December 2022

If you have read this far then here are a few potential aids in engaging your visions for character improvement. They are just guides, the “Work” is internal and can’t be simply pressing an “I Believe Button” while avoiding the effort and thinking involved. This is not faith and has everything to do with work. The path involves the use of the masonic tools listed in the 3 degrees in the Blue Lodge. The lectures are your guide, but other help is available if you prefer.

Here is a short list.

John S Nagy (on YouTube)                  789 followers

What is a Mason                                   22.5K followers

Refracted Light                                    848 followers

Masonic Traveler                                  6.32K followers

Whence Came You                              5.95K followers

My Freemasonry                                  1.3K followers

Masonic Roundtable                             15.7K followers

Freemasonry Squared                           4.57K followers

http://BuildingHiram.blogspot.com for more information from Coach Nagy

In addition to these, the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction puts out regular podcasts that tackle topics relative to masonic interests and character building. They are available both in the official magazine and online.

There are many aids and prompts for this topic of character building if you find yourself wanting to improve your Temple. You have to find a starting point, which was in the 3 degrees of the Blue Lodge where you were raised, and just start building!

Enjoy the journey brothers.

Paul R. Swanson, 32° December 2022

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Sir Francis Bacon, Freemason?

According to Thomas Jefferson, Sir Francis Bacon was “one of the three most influential people on the planet.” A suspected Freemason and member of various secret societies, Bacon is regarded by some researchers to be the “real founding father of America.”

Bacon was a keen researcher of esoteric knowledge, and it was his vision to create a “new Atlantis” and “Utopia” in the Americas. Although Bacon was prominent in British politics, he would send his son to America to be his “eyes and ears” in the new land.

“Age appears best in four things: old wood to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.”
― Francis Bacon

“Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.”
― Francis Bacon, The Collected Works of Sir Francis Bacon

“A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion”
― Francis Bacon

 No proof of either Thomas Jefferson or Sir Francis Bacon’s Freemasonic initiations has ever been found. Both have been associated with Freemasonry by their writings and their contemporaries in the eyes of public opinion.

John Paul Jones (US Navy)

Founder of the American Navy and was a famous sea fighter, born in Scotland. He was born on July 6, 1747. Admiral John Paul Jones was the first officer commissioned in the American Navy. He was the first to command a war vessel. He was the first to run up the American flag over a war vessel, the Alfred, in 1775.The first and only naval officer named in the Act of Congress for creating the new flag, the Stars and Stripes. The first to propose and receive a salute to the Stars and Stripes from a foreign nation, France; the first to make a British “man’ o’ war” strike its colors and surrender to the Stars and Stripes, and the first naval officer to receive a note of thanks from Congress. John Paul Jones received his E.A. Degree in ST. Bernard’s Kilwinning Lodge No. 122, Kirkcudbright, St. Mary’s Island, Scotland on November 17, 1770.

Does Freemasonry make good men better? By Coach Nagy

The use of this statement misleads pre-masons in that it is in no way supported by the organization or its members and leaves unfulfilled those seeking the improvements it implies. As a result, pre-masons join expecting things that will never be provided. This lack of support by both the organization and its members ultimately makes this statement destructive and counterproductive.

POINT: Neither the organization nor its members will make any person who joins better. It is only members applying themselves toward the Work that is pointed toward by our Ritual that improves those members and in direct proportion to the effort they make.

NOTE: We are obligated to our members to instruct them on what Work makes them better, and that just being a member will not do this unless they actually do that work.

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Words Poem, By John S. Nagy, Masonic Coach from his book, The Craft Perfected: Actualizing Our Craft.

Words

Dated Words….give insights into Recent Pages.

Old-Fashioned Words…Give insights into Nostalgic Cages.

Rare Words…give insights into Possible Sages.

Historical Words…give insights into Specific Ages.

Archaic Words…give insights into Long-Ago Stages.

But Obsolete Words…give insights into Long-Lost Gages.

The last word in the poem rhymes, but is that all? Not shown in the poem above but shown in Coach Nagy’s book version has the foot-note next to gages, which when looked up denotes “Gage (Noun) a valued object deposited as a guarantee of good faith.”

Brother Nagy had taken the time and effort to research many of the words in our Florida ritual specifically, but the effort applies to most of the United States Masonic ritual in general. He cites several times notes from Brother Mackey’s writings from long ago as well as citing other sources for his words and phrases which changed over time but unfortunately our current ritual seems to not have noticed those changes, often with lost meaning for the initiates and instructors alike.

The rediscovery of the true meanings breathes fresh insight into our ritual, which has obviously been modified and changed over the centuries. Modification can lose meanings over time unfortunately if one is not careful.

He reviews several words and phrases, but one in particular is the word “perfect”. Did you know that our ritual was influenced by William Shakespeare and how he used this word? The obsolete definitions for us used by Shakespeare found their way into our ritual, only to add confusion to our understanding today if we don’t look to our past and sort out the differences. Coach Nagy has done just that for us.

Formerly in those times perfect meant well-informed. Today we could include in this general terminology the word well-read also. Both are levels of personal educational attainment which a mature man should aspire towards, particularly a worthy Brother Master Mason.

We have in our rituals, perfect ashlars, perfect points of entrance, and seven members of a lodge make it perfect as a few examples of the word use.

To quote our Masonic Coach Nagy, “Could it be that the introduction of the word perfect into our Rituals was an intentional breadcrumb trail, a nineteenth-century version of a hyperlink, to this obsolete definition?”

Coach Nagy explores several rabbit holes in his book revealing his research findings about our ritual words and their evolution. He even suggests that some might find the Scottish Rite degrees with the word perfect more interesting after his discoveries, particularly the 5th degree, called the Perfect Master and the 14th, called the Perfect Elu in the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite, which covers Florida. Elu by the way means, an elect, or one who was elected.

Words, beyond memorization can be profound in their impact and their motivations. Ideas and issues can be compressed and streamlined into worthy and memorable images or into rhymes that tend to stick better in our memories. How many lines from Shakespeare have made it into our general conversation, often using rhymes?

A Coach Nagy analogy I admire and mentally use in my life explains things a bit more. An EA needs to bring order to the chaos of his heart. A FC needs to bring order to the chaos of his mind, using the 7 steps of the liberal arts and sciences which brings to the newly made fellow a base of wisdom.

A MM has, if he listened and applied the ritual advice in the preceding degrees, attained the level of mastery in his life where he can teach the knowledge to others and apply the wisdom learned from his labors in the quarries he has experienced in his life, with expectations of attaining the old meaning of the word, perfection = well-informed.

Paul R. Swanson, 32° KCCH

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The Meaning of “Ruffian” in Masonic Ritual

Ruffian Meaning

By Paul R. Swanson, 32° KCCH

Are there hidden meanings being conveyed within the names of the three ruffians?

The material for this short topic is drawn from A Brother Asks, Volume 1, Uncommon Discourses about Hiram, by John S. Nagy.

It was just over two hundred years ago that the ruffians’ names first appeared in print, in a book published in London in 1760. Before that, no publicly disclosed English writings reflected any ruffian names, and often they were just called assassins.

Using a computer translator and lots of trial-and-error Coach Nagy discovered that the names were not conventional French of today, but a holdover version only used in Canada, in the providence of Quebec.

The 3 ruffians’ names are from the Joual French dialect used in Quebec, which originates from northern France and is predominately old French in origin.

I want it!

I want the word!

I want to see it! Or I want the light!

The 3 ruffians were not willing to finish their work so that they could be entitled to the master’s word.

Ruff: an archaic term meaning to “trump”; not follow suit; skip over what is usually necessary and required to accomplish desired ends.

Poem:

Three Blind Men

Three Blind Men

See How They Ruff,

She How they Ruff!

They Ruffed right after

The Master’s Word.

And Misunderstood What

Remained Unheard.

Have you ever Seen

Such Ignorance Assured

As Three Blind Men?