Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Greetings Most Worshipful Tom,
It has been suggested to me (by a PGM -- go figure) that a friendly non-monetary wager might be fun for the above game and I wanted to solicit your thoughts. Any number of things could be done, but something kind of fun might be for the GM of the losing university to dress up in garb of the winning team and submit for photographs that would inevitably find their way onto each of our web sites and into our respective magazines.
What do you think? I realize it is short notice, what with the game being played tomorrow night, but what the heck, I'm game if you are.
I look forward to your response.
I replied, accepting the challenge:
I think you would look LOVELY in Maroon and Gold! Let’s go for it!
Winner to supply loser with appropriate shirt/hat/whatever for the photo. Or would you just like to wear it when you come to visit our annual communication in March?
(I must tell you that my grandson in Cedar Rapids is a Cyclones fan. He’s also a Bears fan. He couldn’t get that lucky twice in a week, could he???)
Happy New Year.
So, all you Minnesota Masons, cheer on our Golden Gophers so I don't have to don the chartreuse and pink of the Iowa State Cyclones (or whatever colors they wear!).
House of the Temple
December 29, 2009
Dear Master of the Royal Secret,
Two hundred years ago today, our Illustrious Brother Albert Pike, 33°, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He was an explorer, a teacher, a lawyer, a general, and a Freemason. His accomplishments in any of these areas would make him worthy of respect, but it is as a Freemason that we in the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite most remember him.
In 1853 Ill. Albert G. Mackey, 33°, Grand Secretary General, conferred the 4° through 32° on Bro. Pike. Only two years later in 1855 the Supreme Council appointed him to serve on a committee to revise our rituals. His advancement in the Scottish Rite was nothing short of amazing: in 1857 he was coroneted an Inspector General Honorary; in 1858 he became an active member of the Supreme Council; and in 1859 he was electecd Sovereign Grand Commander.
While Bro. Pike is best known for revising our rituals and writing "Morals and Dogma," we cannot forget that the Southern Jurisdiction operates today under his administrative reorganization of the Supreme Council.
Ill. Pike's sublime command of language and his intricate layers of symbolism transformed Scottish Rite ritual in a way no one else has ever accomplished. Our Reverend Brother Joseph Fort Newton may have said it best:
"Albert Pike found Freemasonry in a log cabin and left it in a Temple."
However, when we think of our former Grand Commander and his many accomplishments, I believe we should consider his own words:
What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.
I ask that you take a moment today to pause and consider what Ill. Albert Pike, 33°, did for others and for the world. As his heirs, we continue to fulfill his legacy.
Sincerely and fraternally, Ronald A. Seale, 33°, Sovereign Grand Commander
Please join our new social network for Freemasons at www.freemasonnetwork.net
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma
This day, December 29, 2009, is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Albert Pike. Pike is an interesting and enigmatic figure, but none can doubt his intellect or the influence his work in Morals and Dogma and in revising the ritual of the Scottish Rite has had on Masonry.
One of the magnets that draws me to Scottish Rite Masonry is that tolerance is a cornerstone of its philosophy. Tonight (Tuesday), I'll be attending a "birthday party" for Brother Pike at the Minneapolis Valley of the Scottish Rite. I expect to blog on that tomorrow!
Monday, December 28, 2009
Well, they (and their parents!) all made it to Grandma's house this snowy weekend. It made me reflect on just how blessed I am. Games of Risk, Left-Center-Right (thank you, Worshipful Brother Martz, for turning me on to this game!) and jigsaw puzzles were only part of the festivities. It was the first Christmas for Mason Thomas McCarthy, and his older cousins kept him well entertained!
Everyone arrived back home safely, and the piles made by the snowplow will have the sledding ramps clearly noted until spring, I hope, to serve as a reminder of great times.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
- Source: Short Talk Bulletin - Dec. 1933
Masonic Service Association of North America
This is another in the series of blogs considering the role of the shortest day of the year, and the return of light. We know that happens literally, as the days begin to become longer. It should happen figuratively for Masons as well. Our patron, St. John, wrote of themes of darkness and light in his gospel. Christian or no, these themes resonate with Masons.
Let us renew a commitment to find More Light in Masonry in the coming year.
Friday, December 25, 2009
The Romans had a festival held on or about December 25 called “Dies Natalis Solis Invicti” – the birthday of the unconquered sun. In ancient times, the winter solstice was calculated to fall on December 25. In modern times, we recognize December 25 as the day when the lengthening days is first noticeable.
The Romans observed that the days became shorter and shorter, and without a modern appreciation of astronomy, they could not be sure that the days wouldn't continue to get shorter, until the sun disappeared completely and permanently.
So the ancients carefully observed and recorded the times of sunrise and sunset. And when, with their relatively crude measuring devices, they determined that the days were getting longer on December 25, a great celebration was in order! The sun would not die! The Light will return, and with it the promise of new crops and new life!
So Christians celebrate December 25 as the day the Light of the World was born. And Masons, Christian or no, can and should celebrate this date as representing the rebirth of Light in this troubled world.
Merry Christmas, my Brothers.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
I have heard him describe the earth as a fragile Christmas ornament – an insignificant planet on the edge of the Milky Way galaxy.
When I see the photo, I see that, plus a planet that is just far enough away from the sun so the water doesn’t boil away; just close enough to the sun that it’s not a frozen waste land; just enough atmosphere to protect the earth’s surface from the sun’s radiation, and to contain just enough gases of just the right proportion to support life.
When I see the photo, I see the Hand of God at work – still.
And I see more clearly our responsibility to take better care of our home.
Charles Dickens ended The Christmas Carol with this description of Scrooge: “[I]t was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.”
May we all “keep Christmas well.”
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The toleration of those that differ from others in matters of religion is so agreeable to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to the genuine reason of mankind, that it seems monstrous for men to be so blind as not to perceive the necessity and advantage of it in so clear a light. John Locke, Letter Concerning Toleration.
John Locke (1632-1704) was an English philosopher. His ideas and theories on the state of nature and how it applies to government are used in many American historical documents. These documents, such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, are essential in the way that our government functions today. John Locke, a philosopher during the Age of Enlightenment, wrote the Second Treatise on Civil Government. This writing contained his theories and opinions on the reason there is a government, and how it should be run. John Locke's theories on natural rights of man, equality, and a properly functioning government are incorporated into our earliest historical documents, and lay a foundation for the government that exists today.
I’ve been writing the last couple of weeks about my perception of Jesus’ tolerance. Glad to find that a noted philosopher agrees.
Masons should take note, especially those of Christian belief, and emulate the invitation of Jesus as well as His acknowledgment that it is our free will that allows us to accept – or reject – that invitation.
(Click on the link above for the complete Letter.)
Sunday, December 20, 2009
The Winter Solstice is the shortest day (or longest night) of the year. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we celebrate the Winter Solstice this day, December 21.
For Masons, the passing of the Solstice marks the beginning of the return of Light. (See the entry coming on December 25 for musings on solstice festivals and Christmas.) For Masons, it also reminds us to consider the 6th Liberal Art and Science: Astronomy, the art by which the Wisdom, Strength and Beauty of our Creator is revealed. We learned that, by Astronomy, we can measure the distances, comprehend the magnitudes and calculate the periods and eclipses of the heavenly bodies – including the calculation of the Winter Solstice.
For many religions, the solstice is a time to consider life and death, birth and re-birth.
On the Winter Solstice, as the sun rises over the hills to the East, the first rays of sunlight enter the transom and penetrate to the innermost part of the burial chamber.
As I stood in the chamber, I marveled at what careful observations, calculations and construction must have happened over 5000 years ago to enable those prehistoric Celts to construct such a monument. Did they have a trestleboard upon which to draw their designs? Or was it a trial and error method – which would have taken decades to complete!
All men consciously and subconsciously marvel at the annual trip of the sun. It is well to contemplate the cycle of life and death, darkness and Light, and rebirth at this time of year.
For more information on Newgrange, including photos of the burial chamber, see http://www.knowth.com/newgrange.htm
Friday, December 18, 2009
On Tuesday, I acted as installing Master for Worshipful Master Stoffel Reitsma and the other officers of Sherburne Lodge No. 95.
I, along with Deputy Grand Master John Cook and District Representative Don Nolley, were welcomed to the lodge in due form. It is traditional that the most senior Past Master of the Lodge carry in the Book of Constitution right before the Grand Master. On Monday, I was honored to have Past Master Stan Wheaton precede me into the lodge room. Stan was Master of Sherburne Lodge one year before I was born! A seventy-year Mason, WB Stan is a true asset and treasure to Sherburne Lodge and Minnesota Masonry!
Congratulations to immediate Past Master Ken Martin on a job well done, and best wishes to WM Stoffel and the brothers of Sherburne Lodge!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Letter from Jesus about Christmas --
It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season.
How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.
Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.
If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:
1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.
2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.
3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up... It will be nice hearing from you again.
4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.
5 Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.
6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.
7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there.. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families
8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary-- especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.
9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.
10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.
Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest.
Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember :
I LOVE YOU,
Saturday, December 12, 2009
In my remarks, I reminded our new brothers that the end of the initiation is the start of their Masonic quest. I encouraged them to attend the next stated communication at their lodge, so all their brothers could welcome and congratulate them. They should receive an invitation from one or more brothers at their lodge, but sometimes that doesn't happen. Don't wait - show up!
Participate in the next lodge event. Continue with Masonic education.
New (and experienced) brothers will reap from Masonry (as in all worthwhile endeavors in this life) what they sow. No matter how much a brother gives to Masonry, he cannot help but receive much, much more.
Congratulations, my brothers! I'll see you in Lodge!
Friday, December 11, 2009
Light one candle for the Maccabee children
With thanks that their light didn't die
Light one candle for the pain they endured
When their right to exist was denied
Light one candle for the terrible sacrifice
Justice and freedom demand
But light one candle for the wisdom to know
When the peacemaker's time is at hand
Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish Brothers and friends. Let's make the commitment of the final verse of Peter Yarrow's song:
We have come this far always believing
That justice would somehow prevail
This is the burden, this is the promise
This is why we will not fail!
For the complete lyrics, see http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/peter_paul_and_mary/light_one_candle.html. For more information on Hanukkah, see The Jewish Outreach Institute information on this holiday.
Psychologist Martin Segilman of the University of Pennsylvania advised the MetLife insurance company to hire a special groups of job applicants who tested high on optimism although they had failed the normal aptitude test. Compared with salesmen who passed the aptitude test but scored high in pessimism, this group made 21 percent more sales in their first year and 57 percent more in their second.
A pessimist is likely to interpret rejection as meaning “I’m a failure; I’ll never make a sale.” Optimists tell themselves, “I’m using the wrong approach,” or “That customer was in a bad mood.” By blaming failure on the situation, not themselves, optimists are motivated to make that next call. What’s Your Emotional I.Q.?, Reader’s Digest, January, 1996, from Emotional Intelligence, 1995, by Daniel Goleman, Bantam Books
There are many well-qualified leaders who do not do well for their lodges, just because they are pessimists. "We tried that before." "That will never work." ...You know the words.
In most instances, a slightly less-qualified leader with enthusiasm and optimism will have a much more successful year - and so will his lodge!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
An old farmer had plowed around a large rock in one of his fields for years.
He had broken several plowshares and a cultivator on it and had grown
rather morbid about the rock.
After breaking another plowshare one day, and remembering all the trouble
the rock had caused him through the years, he finally decided to do something about it.
When he put the crowbar under the rock, he was surprised to discover that it was
only about six inches thick and that he could break it up easily with a sledgehammer.
As he was carting the pieces away he had to smile, remembering all the trouble
that the rock had caused him over the years and how easy it would have been to get rid of it sooner.
Reminds me of making mountains out of molehills. We do this in our lives, and we do this in our Lodges. Life and Masonry would be so much more pleasant if brothers would step back from the minor piques that always pop up in life and realize that there is so very much more to worry about.
If you're interested in subscribing to Brother Nettestad's weekly message, contact him here.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Freemasonry accepts into its ranks all men of good character who have a belief in a Supreme Being. Tolerance and respect for a brother’s faith is a fundamental principle of our fraternity.
I was born and remain a Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” I believe that the way to Heaven is only through Jesus, the Christ.
I also believe that my brothers who believe that Yahweh speaks to and saves them are not without hope. I believe that my brothers who call upon Allah have a God that hears them.
I believe that the Triune God can and does provide a way for all His children to be with him in Heaven. While I believe that the only way to Life is through Jesus the Christ, I also believe that somehow, the Lord God can and does accept his children into heaven.
How is this done? I don’t know. I believe that these are peculiar mysteries known only to Nature and Nature’s God, on whom we all rely for creation, preservation and every blessing we enjoy.
There is a story in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke about a rich man who asked what he must do to gain heaven. Jesus’ response ended with a recommendation that the man sell all that he had, give to the poor, and come and follow Him. The man went away crestfallen, as he was very wealthy.
Jesus said to his disciples, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples expressed astonishment at this statement, Jesus responded, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Who is a rich man?
In this country, the per capita gross national income is $41,500.
In order for a person to qualify for a court appointed public defender in this state, he must be indigent. That is defined as 125% of the poverty level. Today, a single person qualifies for a court-appointed public defender with an income of $13,538.
The average Social Security benefit for a retired worker in 2009 is $1,153 per month, or $13,836 annually.
In over 100 countries of the world, the per capital gross national income is less than one-half the indigency level or average social security benefit for a retire worker. In 142 countries of the world, the per capita gross national income is less than the average income of a retired worker relying solely on Social Security retirement benefits.
By that measure, most who are reading these words are “rich”, and thus are ineligible for Heaven, absent God’s good mercy.
I believe that rich men can and do go to heaven. I don’t know how. God’s mind is not man’s mind.
I believe that non-Christians go to heaven, too. I don’t know how. I cannot prove that they do any more than you can prove that they don’t.
But if God can get a camel through the eye of a needle, and he can admit a rich man into the Kingdom, then I believe that he can find a way for men of good will and spirituality to obtain eternal reward, even if they call Him by a different name.
I believe that God, through His Son, invites us, but does not command us to believe in Him. I believe we should follow the example of our Creator. If He can respect the decision of His creatures to worship in a way they deem proper, we should respect that, too.
Religious tolerance: I believe.
Monday, December 7, 2009
It was a family affair, with daughter Emily (Grand Bethel Honored Queen) bringing in the top hat and gavel, daughter Jackie (Past Honored Queen) the Holy Bible, and son Danny (Master Counselor) presenting our Nation's flag. DeMolay members presented the Arch of Steel and Job's Daughters the Living Cross. It was fun and moving to watch the pride in the eyes of WB Al as his children participated in the ceremony.
It looks like a good year in the making for Plymouth Lodge, starting with a celebration of 125 years of Minnesota Masonry on January 19. Good luck, Worshipful Brother Al, and the officers and members of Plymouth Lodge!
Sunday, December 6, 2009
The St. George Conclave of the Red Cross of Constantine held its annual meeting at the Kitchi Gami Club in Duluth. Members from the St. Paul and Minneapolis caucuses rode a motor coach to the event.
After a great lunch, two Duluth police officers talked about gangs and drugs in Duluth. It was a very good session.
The members were informed that the national conference has decided that the Conclaves around the country should decrease its membership by about 20%. That means that the St. George Conclave will not be able to induct new members for several years. Very sad.
However, five candidates had been invited before that decision was made, and they were inducted into the order yesterday. Brian Beerman, Norman Voigt, William Larson, Foster Solem and Roger Schmid were received in a very impressive ceremony.
The evening was topped off by a wonderful banquet.
It is a bit strange to attend a Masonic event for Christian Masons. I did address the group about my beliefs of being a Christian and being tolerant. I'll publish that essay on Tolerance Tuesday, December 8.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
I have been invited many times to events of the Selim Grotto, but last night was the first one that worked into my schedule. And what a lovely event it was! The holiday dinner / officer installation was held at the Northland Inn. The food was wonderful, the entertainment by the Osseo Sr. High Mo-Tet just terrific, and the fellowship outstanding.
The Grotto is a fun organization for Masons and their families. From what I can tell, there are very, very few "stag" events. Wives and guests are invited just about every time. And these brothers know how to have fun! (See the photo of the newly-installed Monarch, Marv Schendel, for one of the more interesting traditions of this unit!)
Along with having lots of fun, they raise money for wonderful causes. (See the blog below.)
It was my first Grotto event, but I can say with a high degree of certainty, it will not be my last!
At the installation dinner for the Selim Grotto officers last night, checks were presented to Courage Center and the RiteCare Language Clinic by Grotto officers Ed Perlman and Marv Schendel. I was invited to be part of the presentation to represent the Grand Lodge and Masonic Charities, which matched the funds raised by Selim.
A check for $2000 was presented to Courage Center and $5000 to the RiteCare Clinic. It is a real pleasure, as Grand Master, to be present for these special presentations.
With the translatation assistance of Brother Bob Davis of Lake Harriet Lodge, we had a very nice conversation.
RWB Juan is leaving today to return to Peru, where, he told me, he will not have to wear a coat!
Thank you, RWB Juan, for taking the time and making the effort to meet with me. It was an honor.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Plans are to add more videos as they become available.
Check them out at http://www.youtube.com/user/GrandLodgeMinnesota.
Thank you, Worshipful Brother Steve, for another great asset to Minnesota Masonry!
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Religious Tolerance knows no political bounds. Liberal, conservative, in between, thinking men understand that the separation of Church and State, and respect and tolerance of others is essential for civilized societies. Brother Barry Goldwater expressed those sentiments in the quote above.
That's why Masonry is so important to our society. Brotherly love, relief and truth. Freedom, Integrity and Tolerance. Our country and our world would be a much better place with an increase in each...
Mt. Tabor Lodge in Detroit Lakes was the scene of the most recent recognition dinner for General Ed Waldon Scholars. Six veterans were present to receive the thanks of our Fraternity for their service, and to express their appreciation for the financial assistance we provided for their education.
I was very disappointed that I was not able to attend and greet these patriots myself. A special thanks to Area Deputy Darrell Richter and District Representative Ken Friese for putting this event together.