Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Arcana Lodge Fundraiser and Awards Night

Last night I visited the beautiful Arcana Lodge in Northeast Minneapolis. The design and craftwork displayed in the lodge room is unique among lodges I have had the privilege of visiting. You should visit, if you can, especially if you can witness the Third Degree there.

And there will be a Third Degree coming up! Last night, two petitions were favorably acted-upon and the Entered Apprentice Degree will be competing with Monday Night Football next week!

The occasion of my visit was Arcana's annual prime rib dinner fundraiser. Though there were 20 or fewer brothers present last night, over $1150 was raised for the Masonic Cancer Center Fund. Over the years, Aracana has raised and contributed over $20,000 as the result of this dinner, with a contribution to the victims of 9/11/01 being the only year that the Cancer Center Fund was not the beneficiary of this lodge's generosity.

Present to receive their 50-year certificates were Past Grand Master Donald Severson and Brother Harry Sarich. Brother Harry recalled coaching candidates in his basement, with as many as nine new brothers learning the work at one time! PGM Don reflected on meeting two Grand Masters early in his tenure as Master of Arcana Lodge, and never dreaming he would one day have the honor of acting in that office.

The photos show the Brothers of Arcana with their Area Deputy and District Representative, and then of me with the 50-year Masons: From the left, District Representative Don Nolley, Area Deputy Lee Dorholt, me, Worshipful Master Mark Moriarty, PGM Don Severson and Brother Harry Sarich.

Tolerance Awareness Tuesday - All Things Considered

The new Dan Brown book, The Lost Symbol, has generated some renewed interest in the media in our Gentle Craft. In addition to my appearance on the WCCO Television News segment,, "Good Question," National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" did a story on Masonry that you can find here.

In that segment, S. Brent Morris explains to NPR reporter Robert Siegel that Freemasonry is not a religion. When the group was organized in 1717 from a stonemason's guild, Morris explained, its members adopted the radical proposition that men of different faiths can agree on God's existence. "They can agree that God compels them to do good in the community, and then they can stop talking about religion," said Morris.

That is one of the beauties of our fraternity in this day of insular and fractured community, where it's "my way or nothing." Freemasonry teaches that we must be tolerant and respectful of another's well-formed beliefs. We must defend each other's rights to believe and worship as we see fit.

Thus we fulfill the three modern tenets of Masonry as set forth in the Grand Lodge of Minnesota's vision statment: Political Freedom (as set forth in our country's founding documents - Freedom of Religion), Personal Integrity (to walk as just and upright men, where there is no room for disparaging a Brother's religious beliefs) as well as Religious Toleration.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


When I logged on this morning, one "appointment" popped up: 26.

As in, 26 weeks left before RWB John Cook becomes MWB John Cook (tradition prevailing) and I become PGM (Prestige Gone, Man!)

It's been a great six months. A recap: Over 13,500 miles in the car for lodge business. One or more lodge events 0n 88 days, including 33 lodge visits, one cornerstone and three visits to other Grand Lodge annual communications.

While the pace has been hectic, and there are always administrative and other issues to deal with, it has been a wonderful experience so far. The respect and affection that the Craft pays the Grand Master is truly humbling, as is the opportunity to speak for the fraternity to the media.

I know the next 26 weeks will fly by, and I'm trying to enjoy every one as much as I can. I am blessed to be serving with a terrific, hard-working progressive line and corporate board. I can assure you that all the wonderful things you have heard about our Grand Secretary, Doug Campbell, are absolutely true.

I am even more blessed with a supportive and understanding wife. Thank you, Patty!

Thank you, Brothers, for this magnificent opportunity to serve the Craft we all love so well.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Golden Fleece Lodge, Litchfield

I had the pleasure of visiting a stated communication at Golden Fleece Lodge in Litchfield last night. This is a lodge that had been inactive for years, but is now really cooking! They have shown a net increase in membership in 2007 and 2008, and expect to do the same this year! Great work!

At the communication, a report was made on the success of Golden Fleece's participation in the Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society. Not only did the lodge have a relay team (Silver level), but they ran a food stand for the event. Between the two, they raised and donated over $2500!

This is personal for the brothers of Golden Fleece: Of the dozen brothers present last night, five are cancer survivors.

After the meeting, we enjoyed a supper of turkey burgers, prepared by David "Tiny" Kayser (that's a photo of him with me) and Mrs. Bob Holly's famous baked bean recipe, along with all the fixin's.

Thank you, brothers of Golden Fleece Lodge!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Albert Pike Lodge Fundraiser

Patty and I were invited to the Albert Pike Lodge steak or chicken dinner fundraiser at the Minnetonka Community Center. The food was fabulous!

The Zuhrah Shrine Dixie Cats entertained the diners with great jazz. Brothers and community members supported the dinner, which raised funds for the local food shelf, environmental center and fire department. About 260 were served!

Congratulations to the brothers of Albert Pike Lodge! I look forward to visiting your lodge on October 14, when I'll have the pleasure of escorting one or more new brothers up a flight of winding stairs!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Aurora Lodge No. 100 Awards

Junior Grand Steward Bob Darling and I trekked up to Brainerd for dinner and a stated communication last night.

The lodge received me, JGS Bob, Grand Marshal Steve Johnson (also secretary of Aurora Lodge) and District Representative James Blakesley with full honors in an impressive ceremony. Thank you!

The first photo shows DR James presenting the awards to 35-year Mason Charles Burford, 60-year Mason Edmond Hopps, and 50-year Mason, Jean Lingren. The second shows Grand Marshall Steve, Worshipful Master Jerry Brodmarkle, Brother Hopps and me.

Four Fellowcraft Masons were in attendance, who will be raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason tomorrow (Thursday) night. At least three more candidates are primed to become Entered Apprentice Masons shortly thereafter. (One of those candidates was at dinner - which he has attended at least a couple of times.)

Add to that activity the announcement last night that six brothers will be taking the DeMolay Dad training and a new DeMolay chapter will be started in Brainerd lets me know that Masonry is more than alive in Brainerd - it is on the march!

Congratulations to the brothers who were recognized last night, to the new Masons, and to Aurora Lodge No. 100 for great work!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Plymouth Lodge Awards Night

I had the pleasure of attending the Plymouth Lodge Awards Night last night. Four brothers were present to receive longevity awards, including one 50- and one 60-year award.

The Hiram Award was presented to Past Master Gene Stauffacher.

Assisting in the presentations were District Representative Dean Dorholt and Area Deputy Lee Dorholt. The dinner was great and the presentations, again, very moving.

Hiram awardee, WB Gene, commented that he had been working the night shift, and therefore unable to attend lodge for several years. When he switched to days, one of the brothers of the lodge approached him and asked if he'd consider becoming active in the lodge again. This simple comment sparked a commitment to the Craft, and to Plymouth Lodge No. 160, that resulted in the Hiram Award presentation.

We never know when some offhand comment will be the spark to the Brother (or co-worker, or child, or friend) that will launch him or her on a path to significant accomplishments. Or, conversely, will cut him to the quick and damage a potential relationship.

So, we Masons must take care to choose our words carefully. We can, without even realize it, be the source for great inspiration!

Tolerance Awareness Tuesday - FDR

Brother Franklin Delano Roosevelt served as President of the United States longer than any one before, or any one in the future will (as long as we don't amend the constitution!). He is known for his New Deal and steady hand at the helm during WWII. He was, however, a proponent of religious tolerance, as this letter indicates:

"The lessons of religious toleration -- a toleration which recognizes complete liberty of human thought, liberty of conscience -- is one which, by precept and example, must be inculcated in the hearts and minds of all Americans if the institutions of our democracy are to be maintained and perpetuated.

"We must recognize the fundamental rights of man. There can be no true national life in our democracy unless we give unqualified recognition to freedom of religious worship and freedom of education. ...

"I have learned also with peculiar satisfaction that The Commonweal believes that rarely before in our history have prospects for achieving permanent harmony among the various elements composing our Nation been so propitious as at the present time. I rejoice in this assurance. I pledge myself at this solemn commemoration, with all the resources at my command, to work for so happy a consummation. My prayer shall ever be that this Nation, under God, may vindicate through all coming time the sanctity of the right of all within our borders to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience."

-- letter to Michael Williams, The Calvert Associates, 30 March 1937

Monday, September 21, 2009

Western Star Table Lodge, Albert Lea

Patty and I were very pleased to be the guests at Western Star Lodge No. 26 at their Table Lodge and Awards Night. The food, fellowship and recognition of long-serving brothers made this a wonderful evening!

I was impressed that the Grand Lodge of Minnesota Mission Statement was prominently displayed in the dining hall. I'm told that it is noticed by many people when they come in for pancakes!

Five brothers received 50-year awards. Four of them are shown with District Representative Rick Wallace during the presentation. One brother recalled that he was working in St. Paul, but decided to join Western Star Lodge because he knew he'd be returing to Albert Lea. When he was brought to further light in Masonry, he was most pleased and surprised to find eight of his co-workers from St. Paul had come to welcome him into the fraternity.

Another brother noted that he was a student at the University of Minnesota and rode the Rock Island Rocket to Albert Lea for his degree work, and then back the next morning to the U.

It makes one proud to listen to the stories from these long-serving brothers. Each one said they weren't as active in their lodge as they wished to have been, but you could tell from the passion in their voices that they loved this Gentle Craft, and its precepts are ingrained in the character of each of them.

Mary Travers, 1936 - 2009

When a loved one dies, the world seems to stop. We know that is not true - life does go on - but for the friends and families of the deceased, it just doesn't matter.

That is true at this time for the friends and families of Brothers Duane Barnes (Cataract Lodge), Jack Lundquist (Lake Harriet Lodge), Ray Johnson (of Golden Valley) and Wayne Roal Sr. (Wayzata) as reported in the Sunday edition of the Star Tribune, and of Roger Howard of West St Paul as reported today.

On the way home from the Grand Lodge of Iowa, I learned of the death of Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary. While my world didn't stop, there was a discernable wobble in the diurnal rotation of the earth round its own axis.

I grew up listening to the music of Peter, Paul and Mary. I enjoyed the folk style, their wonderful voices, individually and in harmony, and the message of most of their music.

Back in the days before portable DVD players and Gameboys, the McCarthy family would find other ways to occupy the time in the car. We would often sing, and when we did, Puff the Magic Dragon was always in the repetoire.

Masonry confronts death in its ritual and in its teachings. We are heartened by the knowledge that there is a Supreme Being and a life after death.

The Heavenly Choir just added a great alto .....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

An Historic Moment

At the installation of Iowa Grand Lodge officers last night, Kevin L. Sanders of Iowa City was installed as Junior Grand Deacon.

WB Sanders becomes the first African-American to hold office in the Grand Lodge of Iowa.

Shown with JGD Sanders is DGM John L. Cook Jr., the first African-American to hold office in the Grand Lodge of Minnesota.

What a great event!

Grand Lodge of Iowa Installation

Deputy Grand Master John Cook, shown here with his lady, Ruby, and Patty and I attended to Iowa All-Masonic Banquet last night. The meal was followed by the installation of the newly-elected Grand Lodge officers.

MWB Craig C. Hummel of Oakland was installed as Grand Master.

The hospitality of Iowa Masons was truly outstanding. Thank you, most recent Past Grand Master Jack Butler, Grand Secretary William Crawford, and all the officers and members of the Grand Lodge of Iowa who made our stay exceedingly pleasant!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Grand Lodge of Iowa

DGM John Cook and I, along with our ladies, are representing the Grand Lodge of Minnesota at the annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Iowa. It has been an informative session. MWB Jack Butler and his officers and staff, and the staff of the Mariott Hotel in Cedar Rapids, have made this a most pleasant experience.

The photo shows DGM Cook being greeted by MWB Butler during the introductions of distinguished guests.

I was received as an honorary member of the Iowa Past Grand Masters Association at lunch today. At least, that is what I was told. I had a better offer for lunch - Grandma and I had lunch with 1st-grader Shane at Westfield Elementary. Great fun!

I also found out the Crescent Lodge No. 25 here in Cedar Rapids is one of the sponsors of the "Lego League" (I never knew there was such a thing!) at Westview. Shanes'older brother, Phillip, is a participant in that league.

Mixing Masonry with family. I'll tell you, it doesn't get much better than this!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Minnesota

Deputy Grand Master John Cook and I were pleased to attend the annual banquet of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Minnesota last evening. We offer our congratulations to MWB Alex Horne on his election as Grand Master, and to MWB Keith Johnson on the completion of his term as Grand Master.

DGM John and I were pleased to accept a certificate of appreciation from MWB Johnson on behalf of our immediate Past Grand Master Thomas Jackson.

There was a farmer who grew award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won a blue ribbon. One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his best seed corn with his neighbors. “How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked.

“Why, sir,” said the farmer, “didn’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn.” author unknown

The farmer understands the connectedness of life. His corn cannot improve unless his neighbor’s corn also improves. So it is in other dimensions. Those who choose to be at peace must help their neighbors to be at peace. Those who choose to live well must help others to live well, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches.

I think that Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Minnesota and the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons should each share our good corn. I can state, without equivocation, that the members of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Minnesota stand ready to cooperate and share the programs we have found helpful.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Good Question

You may have heard that Dan Brown has a new book out. The book, set in Washington D.C. has been anticipated by members of Masonry, as his previous books alluded to our Gentle Craft and this one apparently has Masonry as a core plot device. (I bought the book yesterday, but haven't cracked it open yet.)

The Grand Lodge office got a call from Jason DeRusha, reporter for WCCO television, Channel 4 in the Minneapolis-St Paul area. Mr. DeRusha is the reporter for a segment on the 10 pm news called "Good Question". Last night, the question was: Who are the Freemasons?

I met with Mr. DeRusha and his cameraman, Joseph Berglove, outside the Hennepin Center for the Arts, 6th and Hennepin in downtown Minneapolis. The Center was built as a Masonic Temple, and has some great, intricate artwork in its facade.

I thought the interview went well. You can judge for yourself by going to the Good Question link.

I was a little disappointed, though. I thought Mr. Berglove would make me look like Mel Gibson on camera. Patty said I must have been thinking Mel Brooks .....

I need to lose 15 pounds!

Mound Lodge Awards Dinner

I was reminded again last night of the privilege and true pleasure that is mine, serving as Grand Master of Minnesota Masons. Mound lodge had their annual awards dinner (the food there is TERRIFIC. Go sometime, if you can!) where longevity awards were made for 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 and even 60 years as a member of the world's oldest and largest fraternity.

Receiving longevity awards were a past District Representative, a Past Potentate and Evert Ohrt, who traveled with his wife, daughter and son-in-law from his current home in Florida to receive this award. He, and each of the recipients, spoke from the heart of their affection and dedication to the Craft, and to Mound Lodge, of which each was rightfully proud.

I had the chance at supper to talk with a visitor to Mound Lodge, a young man who was there with his wife and infant daughter. He is interested in becoming a Mason. I did see him with that very nice blue tri-fold petition...

Congratulations to Worshipful Master Dean Dorholt, who also serves as a District Representative, and to his brother, Brother Lee Dorholt, who was Master of Ceremonies last night and serves as the Metro West Area Deputy. They did a very nice job coordinating this event.

Special thanks to the District Representative who serves Mound Lodge for a great job. Thank you, Daryl Berg!

Hold on. ..... Just a minute .... Let me check something.....

I have just confirmed with my online sources that it is DAYTON Berg. Thanks, DAYTON. Sorry for the confusion.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tolerance Awareness Tuesday - Winston Churchill

No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism.

- Winston Churchill, 1874 – 1965 (http://www.qotd.org/archive/daily.html?date=2009-04-21)

It seems to me a bit strange to pick a Winston Churchill quote on tolerance, as he is more noted for his steadfast positions than for his appreciation of opposing arguments.

However, Brother Churchill was too good a leader, and too astute a politician, not to realize the extreme danger a person faces when he become blind to opposing views. When one becomes so convinced of the rightness of his position, he can ignore warnings to the contrary and stumble – to his detriment, as well as that of his organization, or his country.

As Churchill would have us know, being tolerant of another’s views is NOT to accept that they are right and true. He would use his many talents, including scathing sarcasm, to make his points. But in life, as in war, you neglect opposing views at your peril.

Masons should consider views that contradict their own. They should be willing to recognize those that have merits, but are not required to adopt as their own those beliefs which contradict their own deeply-held beliefs.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mountains? Molehills? Neither?

Alan Axelrod has authored a book entitled When the Buck Stops with You: Harry S. Truman on Leadership. In the book, he takes a Truman quote and then writes a few paragraphs on the leadership principle mentioned.

Harry Truman is one of my favorite Presidents, Americans and Masons. He live the Masonic tenets in his entire life, not just in Lodge.

From time to time in this blog, I’ll write one of the quotes and maybe add a few words about applying his thoughts to Masonry in Minnesota.

Most Worshipful Brother Truman said in a seminar at Columbia University, “Watch out for people who mountains out of something that doesn’t exist – not even a molehill.”

Several years ago, I served on a Technology Committee. During that time, several changes were required in our system and procedures – each of which was met with resistance of one degree or another. No one likes change – except the proverbial baby with the dirty diaper.

I learned to expect an uproar from time to time. E-mails flying and tempers rising. After a few of these episodes, I came up with the “six-week rule.” A change would be implemented and the (uproar) would last about six weeks, and then, most often, people would learn to deal with the change.

Sometimes, though not often, imaginary mountains are presented to the Grand Master. It is one of the few problematic aspects of this position. I am so fortunate to have well-established policies, and good counselors, to assist me in these, and more serious, situations.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Domestic Violence Awareness

Most Worshipful Brother Roger Taylor made domestic abuse awareness a keystone of his year as Grand Master. Since then, off and on, programs have been presented on the issue, but no consistent program on the issue has been promoted by the Grand Lodge of Minnesota.

The recent death of North St Paul Police Officer Richard Crittenden, who was killed responding to a domestic abuse call, reminds us again of the serious and important issues raised by domestic abuse. I recently talked with Brother William Cowell, a criminal defense attorney in my county, who indicated that for the first time in his long career, he had as many defendants charged with domestic assault as with driving while impaired. Similar reports are made in other counties.

Statistics tell us that domestic abuse is not limited to one social class or one race. While alcohol or other drugs often contribute to the abuse, they are not the cause. Whatever the reason, stresses of the current economic downturn, abuse of chemicals, etc., there seems to be a real and significant increase in the number of reports of domestic assault.

MWB Taylor made it clear that domestic abuse is unmasonic conduct. I would agree. Our ladies deserve respect and protection, not abuse at the hands of their significant other – more especially if a Brother Mason.

Brother Chuck Nettestad, retired Chief of Police from Alexandria, has forwarded to me an announcement of a conference of the Men’s Action Network to Prevent Sexual and Domestic Violence. It will be held October 2 and 3 at Cragun’s Resort near Brainerd. The presenters are leaders in the field and are excellent speakers. The cost is most reasonable - $35 for the conference and $65 for the room for the night. Anyone interested in attending can click on the link above or contact the Grand Lodge Office for more information.

By the way, Brother Chuck also sends out a very nice weekly Peace Newsletter. If you are interested, contact him at peaceinalexandria@hotmail.com to get on the distribution list. They arrive every Monday morning and are a very nice way to start the week.

Let’s be alert for opportunities we each have to take a stand against domestic abuse. As men and as Masons, it should be expected.

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 Remembered

On September 11, 2002, we held a dinner in Winthrop honoring our emergency personnel – police, fire, EMTs. I had the privilege of being the M.C. that evening, and on this 8th anniversary of the event that has defined our world, I would like to share with you some of the comments of that night.


Dear Lord, you know that when Winthrop dials 9-1-1, we have come to expect that a friend and neighbor will come to our aid. We have also come to take for granted the skill and dedication of these, your servants. We don’t take time often enough to realize they leave their work, their homes, their families and often their beds to minister to our needs. We don’t grasp the time they take in evenings and weekends to train and practice their skills, so that when we call, they will be ready to serve.

And we certainly don’t say “Thank You” nearly often enough.

Heavenly Father, bless these heroes in our midst. Remind us to appreciate the sacrifices they make. Bless this time of fellowship and remembrance, and bless the food we are about to enjoy, to give us the strength we need to continue to do your Will. Amen

Introduction to A Time of Remembrance

I heard a song this morning written by Tom Paxton. It’s called “The Bravest”. It’s about a man heading down the World Trade Center stairs after the planes hit. The chorus went:

Every time I try to sleep

I’m haunted by the sound

Of firemen pounding up the stairs

While we are running down.

Tonight we gather to remember and honor heroes in America. On September 11, 2001, over 300 firefighters and almost 100 law enforcement officers were killed in New York. Our honored guests tonight, as well as their families, know that they sacrifice time, energy and comfort to aid their neighbors in times of direst distress. We also know that any one of them may be called to make the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. * * * * *


Heavenly Father, we now close this evening of remembrance and reflection. Tomorrow, we pick up our daily lives. As we retire, give us a safe passage home and a safe day tomorrow.

Lord, you have given us many gifts. You give us Your servants, who leave their work and their beds to respond when we are in trouble. They minister to us with skill, dedication and professionalism.

You have made a beautiful world, Lord, but for reasons only You know, there is danger of many kinds. Protect us from those dangers, we pray, and if that is not possible, may your servants arrive in time to aid and succor us in our hour of need.

Remind us, Lord, every time we hear a siren, to say a prayer for those who are in need, and those rushing to offer assistance. Remind us to pray that the emergency team will arrive in time and in safety. Inspire them, Lord, to act and react correctly.

And finally, give us a thankful heart and words to let Your servants know how much we appreciate and love them.


Today, when you see a police officer, a fireman or an emergency medical technician or paramedic, please take the time to say “Thank you.”

The cartoon is today's "One Big Happy".

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Picnic Table Lodge

Patty and I were the guests of Excelsior Lodge No. 113 last night for their picnic table lodge. The threat of inclement weather moved the party to the lodge hall from S.W. Ron McConnell's back yard, but the brothers did a great job of brining the outdoor picnic spirit indooors - and without the ants!

DR Dean Dorholt was also present to enjoy the festive board.

No awards. No long speeches (except that I may have pushed the boundaries on that one!). Just a fun evening of good food and better fellowship.

WM Steve Maslonka decreed that anyone who failed to use the ancient terms for common instruments (e.g., "cannon" for glass; "tile" for plate, etc.) would be fined one dime. Good thing the Master brought a bag full of dimes, as I believe he contributed more than anyone last night! But, it was always a joyful fine - all proceeds go to Excelsior's "Bikes for Books" program.

And if you go to Exclesior Apple Days Saturday, be sure to stop by the lodge for apple pancakes in the morning, and brats a little later in the day.

Thanks, Excelsior Lodge! Patty and I had a great time!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Friends vs. Minnesota Friends

OK, so it's a slow news day here in Winthrop. I'm pulling out one of those clever e-mails that get passed around all the time. Enjoy!

FRIENDS: Never ask for food.
MINNESOTA FRIENDS: Always bring the food.

FRIENDS: Will say 'hello'.
MINNESOTA FRIENDS: Will give you a big hug and a kiss.

FRIENDS: Call your parents Mr. and Mrs.
MINNESOTA FRIENDS: Call your parents Mom and Dad.

FRIENDS: Have never seen you cry.

FRIENDS: Will eat at your dinner table and leave.
MINNESOTA FRIENDS: Will spend hours there, talking, laughing, help you clear the table & do the dishes, then play dominoes or cards and just being together.

FRIENDS: Know a few things about you.
MINNESOTA FRIENDS: Could write a book with direct quotes from you.

FRIENDS: Will leave you behind if that's what the crowd is doing.
MINNESOTA FRIENDS: Will kick the whole crowds' back-ends that left you.

FRIENDS: Would knock on your door.
MINNESOTA FRIENDS: Walk right in and say, 'I'm home!'.

FRIENDS: will visit you in jail.
MINNESOTA FRIENDS: will spend the night in jail with you.

FRIENDS: will visit you in the hospital when you're sick
MINNESOTA FRIENDS: will cut your grass and clean your house then come spend the night with you in the hospital and cook for you when you come home

FRIENDS: have you on speed dial
MINNESOTA FRIENDS: have your number memorized.

FRIENDS: Are for a while.

FRIENDS: Might ignore this.
MINNESOTA FRIENDS: Will forward this to all their Minnesota Friends and those who once lived in MINNESOTA.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tolerance Awareness Tuesday - Hubert H. Humphrey

"On one occasion, a traffic policeman in handing out a ticket called the violator a 'dirty Jew.' I suspended him for fifteen days without pay. I tried with far less success to stop the verbal abuse of Negroes." -- The Education of a Public Man: My Life and Politics, 1976, p. 99

Brother Hubert Humphrey started his political career as Mayor of Minneapolis. I presume that was his position when he took the action he talks about above.

Humphrey had a well-deserved reputation for long speeches. I attended a dinner where Humphrey was the featured speaker and heard him say that Muriel (his wife) once told him, “Hubert, you know that in order for a speech to be immortal it does not need to be eternal.”

But Brother Humphrey also had a well-deserved reputation for taking action and speaking out on important issues, no matter what the personal consequences may be. It was Humphrey’s speech at the 1948 Democratic National Convention that caused the Dixiecrat delegates to walk out, when he advocated for stronger civil rights. (The photo is of HHH giving that speech.)

Actions speak louder than words. Brother Humphrey had plenty of both. Will we, as Masons, have the moral courage to stand up for the rights of less-privileged when we have the opportunity?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day, 2009

The unofficial end of summer! I took a short hiatus from Masonic activities and spent the weekend with two of my three children and three of my five grandsons at the lake. The weather was great, but the mosquitoes, which hadn't been much of a problem all year (well, the three or so times I managed to make it to the lake this summer ...) were out in full force. It was nice to spend some time with family.

Thanks to W.B. Ted Martz for introducing me to a silly, but addictive, dice game called "Left, Center, Right". Even my six-year-old grandson had a great time playing!

Summer is over, and lodges all over Minnesota are gearing up for a great fall. I'm looking forward to visiting many in the next several months.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Provost and Judge

Last night, I played the part of a judge of Israel under Solomon the King who is approached by both sides of a dispute to sway the decision. It's a great degree (the 7th in the Scottish Rite) and has lots of meaning for those who pay attention.

My character is approached by the Spirit of Retribution and the Spirit of Inaction, each seeking to have the judge decide quickly, or to delay the decision. Finally, the Spirit of Justice appears with good advice for all persons cast in the role of Judge - and we all are in our various walks of life.

This year, there are more than 30 candidates participating in the Scottish Rite degrees. This is due, in no small part, to the yeoman's work of the Black Crow - Worshipful Brother Ed Perlman. I had a chance to meet with the class after the degree, and they all seemed to be enjoying their journey to More Light in Masonry.

Brothers from Cataract Lodge were also present - several of them in the cast or in the class - and presented a check for $5000 for the Scottish Rite Rite Care Program for children with hearing and speech disabilities. Congratulations to Cataract Lodge and the Rite Care Program.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Masons at the State Fair

Since we are transitioning the KidsID program, this year at the State Fair booth we are promoting the Take 25 Program from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. This program encourages parents, grandparents, etc., to take 25 minutes and talk to their loved children about safety. The program gives specific, age-appropriate ways to talk about this important subject - keeping kids safe without scaring them too much.

I worked the 5 - 9 p.m. shift last night. The photo shows the changing of the shift at the booth.

It was kind of a slow night in the Education Building. We did have several parents and teachers stop by and pick up a brochure, as well as ask about the identification program we'll be rolling out after the first of the year. (Pilot/test projects will begin in October.)

It was a nice evening spent with good friends and brothers. Patty went along, too, and ran into Julie Neddermeyer (wife of PGM Neil) at the Horticulture Building.

If you attend the Great Minnesota Get-Together, please stop by the Education Building and say hi to the brothers in our booth. And, don't forget the Eastern Star food building. You may have to ask for directions to find it, but the food (and service!) is great!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Temple Lodge Outdoor Lodge and Hiram

Last evening, one of the newest brothers from Sibley Lodge No. 209, Jim Suedbeck, accompanied me on a visit to Temple Lodge's outdoor lodge. The weather was gorgeous, the comradeship exceptional, and the food, without equal!

Worshipful Brother Laurel Olson was presented with the Hiram Award last night. (That's a photo of me with him and Worshipful Master Steve Kilian.) Laurel told of joining the lodge just before he went into the service in the early 50's. On the train to basic training, the conductor noticed his ring and made sure that he had a compartment to sleep in, rather than a berth like all the other draftees. In basic, the sergeant in charge of KP one day noticed his ring, and ordered Laurel to accompany him as he rode around all day visiting all the KPs under his supervision. Laurel was quick to point out that his membership had reaped benefits pretty soon for him!

A most interesting part of the story was that both the conductor on the train and the sergeant at KP were Prince Hall Masons. That didn't keep them from recognizing and assisting a brother Mason, no matter the color of his skin. To our embarassment, I'm pretty sure that a Prince Hall Mason would not have received the same respect and consideration from an AF&AM in those days. ...

During my remarks, I mentioned that probably more than 45 years ago, I was perhaps the worst 2nd Class Scout in the history of the Boy Scouts of America. I offered one example: What other scout actually burned down his Scoutmaster's tent? Brother Art Benjamin confirmed my story, as he was the unlucky Scoutmaster for Troop Number 5, Green Isle Minnesota... That is a photo of me with Brother (I still call him "Mister") Benjamin.

You just never know what you're going to learn, or who you're going to run into, when you go to lodge.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tolerance Awareness Tuesday, World War II

70 years ago today, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, thus starting World War II. Wikepedia indicates that anywhere from 50 to over 70 million people worldwide died as the result of this conflict.

Included in the casualties is some six million jews and others in Nazi concentration camps. I have written earlier of Eli Wiesel's book, Night, which describes the horrors he and his family endured in the Holocaust and the impact that had on me.
The cartoon by Wiley has been circulating the internet since probably 2002. It helps us remember what happened, and not just to the millions who perished, but those who survived and retain the memories...

Today is a good day, as men and as Masons, to reflect on the horrors that can be wrought if good men remain silent in the face of tyranny.

Let us, today, once more pledge, "Never again!"