|A section of the painting "Fall of the Alamo" by |
Robert Onderdonk features Davy Crockett and his band
of Tennessee volunteers near the end of the battle.
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, 33°, FMLR
It has long been a well-known historical fact Brother Davy Crockett (1786–1836) was a patriot and hero who gave his life in defense of freedom at the Alamo in 1836. By the late 19th century, however, Crockett was largely a forgotten figure. The events leading to Texas' independence and eventual statehood were long in the past and very few remembered the names of the brave soldiers who helped bring it about. The situation changed when, in the mid-1950s, Brother Crockett transcended all that and became an American icon with the release of Walt Disney's television series about his life, as well as the movie, "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier." Since that time the series has been replayed to the point that every kid learns about Crockett's heroism at an early age.
Interestingly, Crockett's rise to the level of superstar almost didn't happen.
In 1946, famed artist Thomas Hart Benton (related to two famous Masons with the same name, but not a Mason himself) briefly worked for Disney, and came to him with an idea for a show. He presented Disney with an outline for a musical about Crockett's life called "Hunter From Kentucky."
To be generous, Disney (who as a youth was a DeMolay) thought Benton's concept was poor and he quickly shelved the project — with the intention it would never be used. However, in 1954, the weekly TV series known today as The Wonderful World of Disney premiered. Less than a year later, the Disneyland theme park opened, TV ratings skyrocketed and Disney started a daily show, The Mickey Mouse Club. Producing a minimum of six shows per week, Disney's appetite for material became voracious. So he went back to his "dead ideas" file and there he found Benton's mercifully forgotten manuscript.
Disney handed the project to his staff, which reworked the idea into something that, in reality, bore little if any resemblance to the outline from Benton. The product Disney's talented writers came up with arguably might be the most popular show ever to emerge from the Disney studios — but one thing is certain: the series almost instantly catapulted Brother Davy Crockett from obscurity to rock star status.
A MASONIC JOURNEY
by Midnight Freemason Guest ContributorWB. IRA S. GILBERT, PM, PDDGM
With the success of Dan Brown’s new book The Lost Symbol there seems to be an increase in interest with more people inquiring about our Masonic fraternity. The book is about the symbols of Freemasonry. One would only hope that there would be a similar resurgence of interest by our brethren in making the journey of studying about our fraternity, its philosophy, its history, and the meaning of the symbols that make up our ritual.
When a candidate first knocks upon the door separating the preparation room from the lodge hall he starts upon this journey of enlightenment about our brotherhood. The candidate is introduced as having been in darkness and now seeks light by being brought into the fraternity of Freemasonry. In the first section of the Entered Apprentice degree the candidate is asked what he most desires. The response elicited is “light”. In the first section of the Fellowcraft degree his response to a similar query is “more light. In the first section of the Master Mason degree ritual, the appropriate response is “further light”. This seems to imply that the authors of our Illinois ritual indicated that the achievement of the Master Mason degree is not an end to our Masonic education, but there is much more. There is nowhere in the ritual of symbolic or blue lodge Freemasonry where a brother is given the “most light” or a completion of the quest to find light in masonry.
Attendance has fallen drastically at lodge meetings. The number of new petitions has also diminished in recent years. Why is it that Freemasonry has fallen in popularity? Why is it that even when new masons are brought into the lodge that they are no longer active after being raised to the degree of Master Mason? Many blame the current situation with our economy. People are having a hard enough time making ends meet and having to spend time with their occupations and their families. Freemasonry no longer occupies a prominent place in our culture.
In the volume 14, 2005 edition the Transactions of the Illinois Lodge of Research, Brother Edward A. Rund authored an article entitled, We Are Failing Our Masonic Educators. Brother Rund stated that statistics indicate that over 95% of the new Master Masons felt no need to return to lodge and take an active interest in our fraternity. Of those that do return to lodge they only do so sporadically. Few of our new Master Masons take on the obligation of becoming officers in their lodge. Brother Rund places the reason for this fall off in Masonic feeling on the lack of a focus on Masonic education.
In volume 16, 2007 of the Transactions of the Illinois Lodge of Research, Brother Neil Neddermeyer, Past Grand Master of Minnesota, postulated that there are three groups of Masons. There are those that feel that Freemasonry is a social club. A second category consists of those that feel that the main function of Freemasonry is to support charities and philanthropic institutions. Finally, there are those Masons that are in the fraternity to receive Masonic light and learn as much as possible of Masonic symbolism, history and philosophy. While all of these reasons for becoming Masons are important, it is this latter group of brethren that this article is trying to reach.
Rollin C. Blackmer, in his book, The Lodge and the Craft, states that at the writing of the book in 1976, there were more than 100,000 brethren who held memberships in Masonic lodges in the state of Missouri. Of this number he postulated that perhaps 75 were sufficiently interested in the brotherhood to undertake further study of the fraternity to which they belonged. This is a most lamentable state of affairs, which, I submit, continues to this day. Perhaps if more of our brethren took on the task of learning about our fraternity we could greatly increase attendance at lodge and bring along a cadre of brethren who would take on the roles of leaders in their lodge. Ritual is important. It is the ritual that is the first exposure that a candidate has to the philosophy of masonry. The ritual consists of the lessons that freemasonry teaches so that a brother can lead a life that is rich and fulfilling. As Blackmer states, “The ritual is the vehicle which the principals of Freemasonry ride into the hearts and minds of men.” However, the words of the ritual are not enough. It is the meaning of the words that lead men to live up to our teaching. These words are capable of interpretation that is nuanced by the historical background of those who wrote them. A study of the history and symbolism of the ritual is essential to understanding the meaning behind the words. There is much research to indicate that it is easier to learn ritual when one understands the meaning of the words that are being memorized.
There are many areas of Masonic research that can be undertaken depending on the inclinations of each individual brother. Some brethren may become interested in the history of the craft. Others will take an interest in the philosophy of Freemasonry. Those with a legal bent may become interested in Masonic jurisprudence. There is also the symbolism inherent in the words of our ritual. The bottom line is that there is something for everyone in our fraternity. The full meaning of Freemasonry becomes a life long study of the various aspects of our brotherhood. This study can be rewarding and give the Masonic brother a meaning for life and, as our ritual tells us, “There stands a just and upright Mason”.
Blackmer, Rollin C., The Lodge and the Craft, 1976, Macoy Publishing Co., Inc., Richmond, Virginia
Haywood, H. L., The Newly Made Mason, 1973, Macoy Publishing Co., Inc., Richmond, Virginia
Haywood, H. L., More About Masonry,1980, Macoy Publishing Co,, Richmond, Virginia
Illinois Lodge of Research, Transactions, Vol. 14, 2005
Illinois Lodge of Research, Transactions, Vol. 16, 2007
A Real Deal Masonic Degree You Can Give Your Wife!
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB. Robert H. Johnson
Below is the text copied and pasted, but for those who want to see it to believe it, I did find the book, edition and entry on “Google Books” an online scanned version of the text. Below you will see the copied image of this text:
|Scanned text from Google Books|
MASON'S WIFE AND DAUGHTER .
A Degree frequently conferred in the United States on the wives, daughters, sisters and mothers of Freemasons, to secure to them, by investing them with a peculiar mode of recognition, the aid and assistance of the Fraternity. It may he conferred by any Master Mason, and the requirement is that the recipient shall be the wife, unmarried daughter, unmarried sister, or widowed mother of a Master Mason. It is sometimes called the Holy Virgin, and has been by some deemed of so much importance that a Manual of it, with the title of The Ladies' Masonry, or Hieroglyphic Monitor, was published at Louisville, Kentucky, in 1851, by Past Grand Master William Leigh, of Alabama.
|A copy of the 1851 published material which|
was recently on sale on eBay and sold for $125.00
Not much information exists on this “Holy Virgin” degree that was so popular in 1851 that the ritual was even printed, and that Mackey states it was “…A degree frequently conferred…”. Some fairly basic searches for this book, brings you a library search where the subtext of the title is revealed, and what a surprise it offers! The subtext reads, “Hieroglyphic monitor : containing all the emblems explaind in the degrees of the Holy Virgin and Heroine of Jericho, duly arranged, to which are added illustrations, addresses, & c” I wonder what happened to this degree or degrees, was it absorbed into one of the other appendant bodies open to women like the Daughters of the Nile, the modern version of the Heroines of Jericho or The OES? Without the printed original ritual, we may never know.
by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
IRA GILBERT, PM, DDGM
As soon as a candidate takes his obligation in the first degree he changes his designation from candidate to brother. At the moment that the candidate detaches his hands and kisses the Bible he is embarking on a journey that is a long and difficult, although rewarding journey through our fraternity. There are many paths that a brother may follow as he progresses from Brother to Most Worshipful Brother. He may not aspire to, nor achieve all of the designations listed in the title to this article. But nevertheless the journey will be a gratifying one that will make his Masonic life satisfying and enjoyable.
This is an article about aspirations. How one achieves his aspirations is dependent on the new Brother’s thinking, but even more so, on the aid given to him by the brethren in the lodge to help the new Brother along the way.
Last week I participated in a Grand Master’s Class as the Mentor for the candidates from my lodge. The candidates entered the lodge hall and as they stood before the Wardens and the Master the Junior Deacon was asked at each station if the candidate was “duly and truly prepared” Now most brethren think that being “duly and truly prepared” means is he properly attired in the costume, and has the cable tow and blind fold been properly affixed. But if the candidate is really been “duly and truly prepared” this also means in his mind as well as his body. Has the candidate studied the Intender Manual for the Entered Apprentice Degree? Has the candidate learned and been properly examined on the Catechism? Has the candidate been schooled by his Intender on the meaning and symbolism of the ritual in the Entered Apprentice degree? I fear that in many cases the candidate was not really “duly and truly prepared” in his mind to be raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason.
As the candidates were raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason they were embarking on a life of study. They were starting out on a journey where, depending on their aspirations, they were beginning their advance from being a Brother to becoming a Worshipful Brother, and then, perhaps, to becoming a Right Worshipful and possibly even a Most Worshipful Brother.
To progress in many organizations there is a preferred route to the top. In the corporate world this may be by becoming proficient in marketing, sales, or finance. In the military, the route to the top might lay through experience in combat. In Freemasonry, the path upward lays in proficiency in the ritual.
Proficiency in the ritual not only means that the Brother is capable of memorizing the words. But it also means studying and becoming proficient in the history and symbolism of the materiel presented in each of the degrees,
The path leading from brother to Most Worshipful Brother starts with the learning of the catechism in each degree. In order to achieve recognition in the catechism the new brother must learn the long form catechism for all three degrees and then be examined in open lodge on his proficiency in these catechisms. Upon a satisfactory examination the successful candidate will be recognized for his accomplishment by the Grand Lodge.
The next step in one’s Masonic advancement is the procurement of three books from the Grand Lodge of Illinois. The first book to acquire is the Book of Standard Work. Next is the Book of Ceremonials. The third acquisition is a pamphlet that is chock full of information. That pamphlet is The Handbook For Officer Advancement. The latter publication contains a listing of what a Brother should learn at each position and station as he progresses through the chairs once he achieves an appointive officer in the lodge.
If a Brother is fortunate enough to have been appointed by the Master to a chair in the lodge he starts his progression in the hierarchy of Freemasonry. The Brother starts to learn the materiel from the Book of Standard Work and the Book of Ceremonials appropriate to his position in the officer’s line of the lodge. The progression on learning as a brother moves through the chairs is outlined in the pamphlet Handbook For Officer Advancement.
It is at this point in the Brother’s advancement toward the Master’s chair that he should consider attending one or more of the excellent schools in the area. He should also attend the Grand Lodge Officers Schools that are scheduled throughout the Masonic year. Learning the ritual in the Book Of Standard Work or in the Book of Ceremonials is but a start to Masonic education. It is at the schools that the brother will learn the floor and rod work that is essential to performing a good ritual. If memory were the only route in the path for advancement, the brother would have a relatively easy road to the top. When the brother feels comfortable enough to really delve into what Freemasonry means, he can now start to look into the many books that are available that teach the history, symbolism and philosophy lying behind the ritual that he is now mastering. It is the understanding of our ritual and the application of these principals that make a man a Mason and prepares him to become an officer in the fraternity.
The next stop on the way to the top on our fraternity is to achieve the title of Master. The trip from Brother to Worshipful Brother can take as long as seven years if one fills each station on the way. Starting at Marshall the Brother fills the stations of Junior Deacon, Senior Deacon, Junior Steward, Junior Warden, Senior Warden, and perhaps Chaplain, before achieving the station of Worshipful Master. At each station there is the prescribed material that must be learned and mastered.
If the Brother has done well and learned the ritual, floor, and rod work, the next step to Right Worshipful Brother is not too difficult. There are two routes to this title. One can become involved with the Grand Lodge and perhaps become a District Deputy Grand Master. Along with the title comes the satisfying job of working with a number of lodges in your district helping them achieve a good working lodge. Another way to become a Right Worshipful Brother is to be appointed to a station in the line of Officers in the Grand Lodge.
A different way to become a Right Worshipful Brother is to attend one or more schools that teach the ritual, rod, and floor work and become proficient enough to pass the rigorous test to become a Grand Lecturer. Prior to achieving this prestigious position the Brother may become a Certified Lodge Instructor. This title can be attained by being skilled in the ritual of the first section of all three degrees. To become a Grand Lecturer, it is necessary to achieve perfection in all of the material in the Book of Standard Work along with the floor and rod work that goes with the ritual.
Right Worshipful Brother may be all that one wishes to accomplish. However, the road to Most Worshipful Brother comes with another long and difficult path. The Brother may be appointed to the station of Junior Grand Deacon. Then, after the passage of two years at each station, that is ten years total, I will be able to call the Brother Most Worshipful Grand Master. The trail is a long and demanding one to follow. But I can assure you that the long, hard years are well worth the effort to gain the position that only a few can achieve.
Bro. Ira Gilbert was raised on January 8, 1968 in Isaac Cutter Lodge #1073 and was Master in 1972. Isaac Cutter Lodge merged with Chicago Lodge #437 and he is now now a member of Chicago Lodge. Bro Gilbert is a member of A. O. Fay Lodge #676 as well. He is also a member of the Valley of Chicago Scottish rite. Bro. Ira's dedication to Masonic Education has afforded him the ability to serve on the Grand Lodge Committee on Masonic Education and the Grand Lodge Committee on Jurisprudence. Bro. Ira comes from a Masonic family, his father being Master of Universal Lodge #985, now a part of Decalogue Lodge through a series of mergers. His father was also a Grand Lecturer. His main interest in our fraternity lies in the philosophy and history of our ritual and in Masonic Jurisprudence. Bro. Ira was a DDGM twice, once in the 1980's and once four years ago. He is also a fellow of the Illinois Lodge of Research and the ILOR awarded him the Andrew Torok Medal as well.