Monday, March 30, 2009

Tolerance Awareness Tuesday

It is the duty of every cultured man or woman to read sympathetically the scriptures of the world. If we are to respect others' religions as we would have them respect our own, a friendly study of the world's religions is a sacred duty. Mohandas K. Gandhi.

Masons would agree with the sentiments of Gandhi. We accept into our ranks good men of all faiths. A comparative study of religions reveals more similarities than one is at first led to believe.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Thoughts on Being Elected Grand Master

My Masonic resume is sparse compared to many others. There are many other brothers that have labored longer and harder in the quarry than I have.

Harry S Truman said, “There are probably hundreds of people better qualified than I am to be president, but they weren’t elected.”

I know for a fact that there are dozens of Minnesota Masons who are better qualified than I am to be Grand Master. Fate has placed me in this position, but I know that I need to rely on those more qualified Brothers to make sure Masonry progresses.

My Brothers, my theme for the ensuing year will be: “How may I serve you?” Since I can in no way claim to have earned the privilege that has been bestowed upon me, it will behoove me to earn these high Masonic wages in the upcoming year by serving you the best I can.

I will remind myself often that the greatest among us is he who serves best.

I am reminded of a line in an Irish toasting song: “But since it fell unto my lot that I should rise and you should not, I gently rise, and softly call, ‘Goodnight and Joy be with you all.’”

Since it has fallen unto my lot that I should rise and you should not, I gently rise, and softly – and humbly – call that I do accept the election and will endeavor to perform the duties of the Grand Master of Minnesota Masons to the best of my ability and for the betterment of the Craft in this great jurisdiction.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tolerance Awareness Tuesday

Tolerance: The crown jewel of Freemasonry - Glenn Kiecker (Minnesota Mason)

The core values of Freemasonry in Minnesota have been identified as Freedom, Integrity and Tolerance.

I have been particularly impressed with the Masonic value of Tolerance. While Masonry requires that all brothers have a belief in a Supreme Being, we do not require that he profess a belief in a particular god. Masons refer to their Supreme Being as God, Allah, Yahweh, Jesus and the Great Spirit.

Throughout the course of the year, I will try to write most Tuesdays on the subject of tolerance. Learned people, and learned brothers, have much to say on the subject.

I invite you to take a few moments each Tuesday to consider how tolerance – and the lack thereof – affects your life and the society we live in.

Together, we can make this world a more tolerant and respectful place to live.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Grand Master's Job Expectations

Tradition prevailing, in just eight days I will be installed as Grand Master of Minnesota Masons. In addition to the job description of the Grand Master, which I wrote about yesterday, I have wondered what the year will bring. Here are my thoughts. It will be fun to look back on this entry next March, and see how close to right I was!

I expect in the coming year, I will put on over 15,000 miles on my car on lodge business. I will eat somewhere near 40 chicken dinners and have close to 60 servings of green beans. I will make a minimum of eight trips outside of the State of Minnesota representing our Brothers, or bringing greetings to them. I will shake hands over 1000 times. I will write 60 speeches, six columns for the Minnesota Mason and hundreds of blog entries. I will make or receive dozens of telephone calls each week.

I will wake up each day, grateful for the opportunity to serve the Fraternity we all love so dearly. I will pray regularly that the decisions I make will be fair, just and will promote the principles of Freemasonry.

I will thank my wife and family for giving up much so that I may have this opportunity.

I will thank each one of you, and promise to do my best to leave Freemasonry in Minnesota better than I found it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Grand Master's Job Description

In February of 1952, President Harry S. Truman composed a job description of the President of the United States. You may know that President Truman served as the Grand Master of Missouri Masons. I have followed the format of his job description, and have checked the Masonic Code in making my own job description for the Grand Master of Minnesota Masons:

1. By the Code, he is the Chief Executive of the Craft.
2. By the Code, he is the Chief Disciplinarian for unmasonic conduct.
3. By the Code, he represents the Grand Lodge of Minnesota to sister jurisdictions.
4. He is the leader of his Fraternity, makes and carries out the Fraternity’s vision and mission as best he can.
5. He is the Ceremonial Head of the Fraternity.
6. He is the No. 1 public relations man of the Craft. He spends a lot of time persuading people to do what they should do without persuasion.
7. He has more duties and powers than a king, prince or potentate; but he never uses those powers or prerogative, because he is a brother (with a little b) and because he believes in the three Great Lights of Masonry and what they symbolize.
8. He should be a Washington, Jackson and Truman all in one. I fear that there is no such man. But if we have one who tries to do what is right because it is right, the greatest Fraternity in the history of the world will survive.

For comparison, here is President Truman’s job description:

1. By the Constitution, he is the Executive of the Government.
2. By the Constitution, he is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
3. By the Constitution, he is the responsible head of Foreign Policy and with the help of his Secretary of State implements Foreign Policy.
4. He is the leader of his Party, makes and carries out the Party Platform as best he can.
5. He is the Social Head of the State. He entertains visiting Heads of State.
6. He is the No. 1 public relations man of the Government. He spends a lot of time persuading people to do what they should do without persuasion.
7. He has more duties and powers than a Roman Emperor, a Gen., a Hitler or a Mussolini; but he never uses those powers or prerogative, because he is a democrat (with a little d) and because he believes in the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights. But first he believes in the XXth Chapter of Exodus, the Vth Chapter of Deuteronomy, and the V, VI, & VIIth chapters of the Gospel of Matthew.
8. He should be a Cincinnatus, Marcus Aurelius Antonius, a Cato, Washington, Jefferson and Jackson all in one. I fear that there is no such man. But if we have one who tries to do what is right because it is right, the greatest Republic in the history of the world will survive.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Brotherly Love

Brotherly love, relief and truth have been bedrock tenets of Masonry practically since its inception. Brotherly love has several connotations. It can be advice to a brother, assistance with a friendly ear or in some cases financial. It is whispering good counsel in a brother's ear so that he may avoid danger.

And, it is the simple yet profound concept of "Fellowship".

Last night, I joined the brothers of my home lodge, Sibley Lodge No. 209 in Winthrop, for the last stated communication before the Grand Lodge communication in just a week and a half. I had the privilege of helping out with the supper before the meeting and was happy to show off my heritage with some decent Irish stew.

I am so very touched by the support and encouragement of my brothers in Sibley Lodge as I look forward to the election and installation of the 2009 Grand Master. Worshipful Master Kevin Pioske, Secretary and Past Grand Master Steve Johnson and Past Masters (and presumptive one-year appointees for next year) Steve Saxton and Pete Schue especially have been terrific. They are planning a table lodge at the Winthrop Veterans Club for April 25 that should be a great time.

Also a nod of brotherly love to my Masonic Dad, Past Grand Master Neil Neddermeyer, who appointed me to the progressive line which, tradition prevailing, will culminate in my election as Grand Master. Neil drove all the way from Maple Grove to join me at last night's communication. Thank You! Neil is a terrific resource for me, and for all Masons. Check out his stockpile of writings, powerpoints and other informatoin at

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St Patrick's Day

Minnesota's Grand Lodge Education Officer, Ed Halpaus, has a very nice history of St Patrick, and his connection to the United States, in his most recent newsletter, Mir Licht (More Light). You can subscribe to this terrific Masonic education resource by going to and put your e-mail address in the mailing list box.

Tonight (Tuesday), it's my turn to help out with supper at Sibley Lodge. I'll be serving Irish Stew and Brother Kelly Pierson will help out with a couple of green desserts. Should be fun! My last meeting at my home lodge before the Grand Lodge of Minnesota Annual Communication.

St Patrick is a significant historical figure. Taken to Ireland from his native Britain as a slave, he escaped, made his way home, became a cleric and returned to Ireland as a missionary. His story is a prime example of what one dedicated person can accomplish - a lesson all Masons can learn from.

St. Patrick left many writings, and some that are attributed to him, but may not have been written by him. The following falls into that category, though it is a wonderful prayer and meditation.

St Patrick's Day is more than green beer and Irish songs that were written in Tin Pan Alley. Before you head out to celebrate this evening, ponder the Lorica of St. Patrick.

Lorica (Breastplate) of St. Patrick

I gird myself today with the might of heaven;
The rays of the sun,
The beams of the moon
The glory of fire,
The speed of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The hardness of rock.
I gird myself today with the power of God.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Irish Blessing

St Patrick's Day is just around the corner, so here is one of many Irish Blessings:

May those who love us, love us; and those who don't love us, may God turn their hearts; and if He doesn't turn their hearts, may he turn their ankles so we'll know them by their limping.

Have a Safe and Sober St Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fortune Cookie Fortune

From today's fortune cookie:

You deserve respect and will eventually get it.

I don't quite know how to take that.....!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Shabbat Shalom!

“Shabbat” is the Hebrew word for Sabbath. Shalom is a greeting like “aloha”, meaning both hello and goodbye. Shalom literally means peace. Hence, “Shabbat Shalom” is wishing you a peaceful Sabbath.

Worshipful Master Jay Weinblatt, Bloomington Lodge No. 340, and his wife, Beth, invited me and other Masons to attend services at Bet Shalom congregation in Minnetonka this evening. W.B. Jay and his family were among the first 25 founding families of Bet Shalom, which has a lovely house of worship.

The other Gentile brothers and I were made to feel most welcome, and members of the congregation helped us through the worship service, which was full of song and prayer.

Personally, I felt at home. The prayers for peace, health and comfort for those in sorrow were most familiar, as was the final blessing. Thank you, WB Jay and Beth, for extending the invitation!

The bulletin contained a sheet entitled “mishebayrach in these tough times”, by Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro. I did not ask permission to reproduce it here, but trust that it would be happily given.

A blessing/hope for all of us …

May God who has blessed our ancestors and brought them through times of uncertainty, support and help us in these days of economic uncertainty and concern.

May anxiety not overwhelm us.

May there be calm in our hearts.

May we be blessed with a sense of trust and conficence in tomorrow.

Let there be goodness and satisfaction in our lives.

May we find purpose and meaning through community, friends and family.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Test Blog to be Ready!

I am trying to get used to blogging so that I can be ready to go on March 28. Anticipating being elected and installed as the Grand Master of Minnesota Masons is a daunting prospect! But also, exciting.