Tuesday, September 29, 2009
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.
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
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
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
"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
Saturday, September 19, 2009
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!
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
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
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
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
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!
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
- 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
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
Most Worshipful Brother Truman said in a seminar at
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
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
By the way, Brother Chuck also sends out a very nice weekly Peace Newsletter. If you are interested, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org 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
On September 11, 2002, we held a dinner in
Dear Lord, you know that when
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
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
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
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: 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.
MINNESOTA FRIENDS: Cry with you.
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.
MINNESOTA FRIENDS: Are for life.
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
"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
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
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
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!