...the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. Geo. Washington Feb. 22, 1732
Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
Robert Kennedy, South Africa 1966.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I went to the Consistory this evening with Kent and Teresa Naughton to attend the University of Free Masonry series. The Scottish Rite has partnered with the Wallace House Foundation on their “Dialogue Dinner” series.
Brother Tade Sullivan 32°, presented a program on the Wallace family & Henry A. Wallace, in particular. He was the 33rd Vice President of the United States and a member of Des Moines Consistory. Bro. Sullivan serves as Vice Chair of the Wallace House Foundation. The Wallace family is one of the most prominent families in Iowa and throughout the United States for their impact and involvement in agriculture.
Monday, March 30, 2009
All of us enjoyed a meat loaf dinner before the meeting. I told Craig I wanted a good picture of him and I think I got one. Craig is the one in the suit.
Worshipful Master Al Jensen, Past Grand Master invited me to give a speech for the evening and I was delighted to do so. He is a long time friend of mine and is also a Past Grand Master of the Grand Council. Before we did that, however we all reaffirmed the three Obligations which we had taken on our Initiations into the three degrees of Masonry.
Brother Wade Sheeler took the Master's part for the first degree, Ward Bailey, the second and Al the third. Three different brothers were the exemplars for the three degrees. All of us joined in re-taking our obligations. It was a very impressive ceremony.
This evening we have, each of us re taken the obligations that we took when we entered this great fraternity. In doing so we reaffirmed our commitment to this society of obligated men. What that means is different for each of us. For me one of the things it does is that it ties me to the members of my family who were Masons before me.
My father was not a Mason but both of my grandfathers were as were all four of my great-grandfathers. It has been a connecting point to me to think of them kneeling at that altar in that uncomfortable position saying those archaic words. Probably not understanding much more of them than I did when I first took them.
Whether or not we understand them they certainly put us under a duty to our Brothers, to the fraternity and to God. They also teach us how to behave towards each other and those who are not members of the fraternity. We are obligated.
What is an obligation?
An obligation is a requirement to take some course of action, whether legal or moral. Obligations vary from person to person: Obligations are generally granted in return for an increase in an individual’s rights or power.
There are several definitions
1. The act of binding oneself by a social, legal, or moral tie. …
3. The constraining power of a promise, contract, law, or sense of duty.
a. Something owed as payment or in return for a special service or favor.
b. The service or favor for which one is indebted to another.
Obligations bind us to one another and place us in each other’s debt. What we owe because we have taken an obligation is also owed to us by others who have taken the same obligation. It is a mighty cord that ties us together in the bonds of the fraternity.
We all know people who ignore their obligations. The Order of the Eastern Star has a line in its ritual that I love. “Woe unto those who seek to take upon themselves obligations lightly and forthwith forget them, it calls them “faithless and insincere.”
Most of us try to take our obligations seriously. We attempt to live up to not only the specific, stated obligations but also the implied, unstated ones.
What about those Masonic Obligations?
In the First degree one mainly promises not to divulge the “secrets” - we are reminded that if we were to do so we would be unworthy. There isn’t really much of a problem with doing that. I mean, what are these secrets anyway? I don’t think many of us really understand what those secrets are and we are over zealous about what happens during the degree and we won’t tell anyone anything about what has happened during the ceremonies of that night. We all know the story of the Entered Apprentice who went into the bathroom where his wife heard him muttering to himself. When asked why he was in there talking he stated that it was the only “tyled” room in the housel
But, if you stop to think about it in the open Ceremony of Installation the working tools are all explained and if you listen to the Master’s promises you see the values of our fraternity – right out there in the open. No secrets there.
In the Fellowcraft degree our obligations are increased. We reaffirm the obligations already taken and add to them that we will commit our time to the Lodge, obey the rules, deal honestly with the Lodge and our Brothers, etc, An increase in our obligation as there is an increase in our power and privileges.
As we advance to the Master Mason Degree we once again recommit ourselves to the previous obligations and then we add to them and place ourselves under more duty to the Craft, and to the brothers and their families. We add to it the duty to protect and defend the members and to come to their aid. We move our obligation to include not only the Lodge but to the members – the individual brother. We become so closely tied to him that he is as close to us as a member of our own family.
As a member of that family the obligations are reciprocal. They work both ways. We are obligated to each other. These are not just words we recite. They are in a very real sense a binding contract and we need to live up to them and follow though no matter what.
In every organization there are going to be those who do not live up to the standards that are set by the obligations assumed. I am not sure that I always live up to my Obligation. I try, but being human, I do not always achieve the goal I set for myself. There are a lot of “brothers” who are not “brotherly.” Sometimes ego gets in the way and we think we are the most important Mason in the room. – Jerry Marsengill used to quote this poem to me:
by Saxon N. White Kessinger, Copyright 1959
Sometime when you're feeling important;
Sometime when your ego's in bloom
Sometime when you take it for granted
You're the best qualified in the room,
Sometime when you feel that your going
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions
And see how they humble your soul;
Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that's remaining
Is a measure of how you will be missed.
You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop and you'll find that in no time
It looks quite the same as before.
The moral of this quaint example
Is do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself but remember,
There's no indispensable man.
Worshipful Masters have a tendency to think of themselves as very “special.” Sometimes they need to listen to the charge to the Senior Warden that tells us that he who has high office in Masonry is there to serve the rest.
Officers also take an Obligation to perform their duties and live up to the expectations of the office. One of the most important and interesting things about Masonry is that we seem to take an obligation every time we turn around. We take them when we join. We take them when we are installed into office. As we join other Masonic organizations we add to our obligations and in some of them we promise to forgive trespasses and to obey our superiors and to fight for American principles and on and on and on. There are, perhaps, too many of them. I am sure I have taken over 50 Obligations in my Masonic career.
There is a “law of diminishing returns” I learned about in high school. It says in essence that if we have too much of something we tend to devalue it. I wonder if Obligations are like that. Do we take so many Obligations that we devalue them? I hope not.
Timothy Bonney gave me the phrase “society of obligated men”. For some reason it resonated with me. It brought me up short as I thought about it. For the most part I had not thought much about “being under an obligation.” It just never occurred to me. I love the fraternity - In many ways the members are closer to me than some members of my own family. I would do almost anything for them. Just as in any family there are times when we disagree and when ego and personality get in the way. But the bottom line is that we take those obligations very seriously, and we try our best to live them.
As a Mason I was once asked by my great aunt “What are you doing for your Blue Lodge?” I was involved in the York Rite and Eastern Star and I was pretty much letting the Lodge take care of itself. I had been writing her about what I was doing in those Organizations and she asked me that question. That was a wake-up call for me. I went then and asked for the only office I have ever asked for in Freemasonry. I asked to start “through the line.” – I did it to fulfill an obligation. How well I did that I will leave up to others to say. I will say that it was the most satisfying 6 years I ever spent in Lodge and I wear my Past Master’s Ring proudly.
It was very interesting for me recently to look through the Scottish Rite Library in Des Moines and come across some books with some old engravings showing Masons dressed in clothing of the 1700’s participating in degrees. I realized that they, too, took those obligations and that we had a bond. That bond which connects us is the obligation that we took at the altar of Freemasonry. That Obligation which made us Masons, that tied us to one another in bonds of fraternal love and affection, that connects us by invisible ties, that inspire us to live nobler lives, to do more for our fellow man and to improve the world in which we live.
Recently I heard a paper in which Brother John Klaus stated. “Ritual is not Masonry and Masonry is not Ritual.” It got me to thinking about what is Masonry. What makes us Masons?
We start calling a man a Mason the minute he takes his obligation. I would argue that taking or re-taking the obligation does not make you a mason. Living the obligation does.
Tonight we have been reminded of those obligations. P.G.H.P. Tom Dean said” When you have Masonry in your heart and mind you will live your obligation! Now I challenge each of you who have been re-obligated to go out and live the obligations of Freemasonry. When you first took your obligation you did it without prior knowledge of its contents. Tonight you knew what was in them and you chose to re-obligate yourself. Living that choice will make your lives better lives and that will make this world a better world.
And thank you for stopping by. Hugs,j
V Lent – March 29, 2009
The Episcopal Church of St. Paul, Chatham
(the Rev’d Dr.) Elizabeth Kaeton, rector and pastor
Found on the Blog Telling Secrets. Go Here to Read.
Here’s the thing: If you want to meet Jesus, you don’t need a formal introduction. All you have to do is walk with him, and let him walk with you. Put your body and your mind and your soul with him and open yourself to his presence.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
It is a good thing that I went to the last showing of Souvenir at StageWest this afternoon, or I would have been tempted to go again and again. The show was about a woman named Florence Foster Jenkins. She was a performer who had little sense of pitch and rhythm and was barely capable of sustaining a note. Despite her patent lack of ability, Jenkins was firmly convinced of her greatness. She compared herself favorably to the renowned sopranos Frieda Hempel and Luisa Tetrazzini, and dismissed the laughter which often came from the audience during her performances as coming from her rivals consumed by "professional jealousy." (from Wikipedia)
The play had two characters. Cosme McMoon (her pianist) played by Matthew McIves and Ms Jenkins beautifully played by Gina Gerdes. Both of the actors were masterful and portrayed their characters to perfection. Ms Gerdes opened her mouth to sing the first time and I was reminded of a Tornado Warning siren.
I spent the entire play laughing so much that my sides hurt. Tears of joy every time she opened her mouth to sing. Everyone in the theater was laughing. I sat next to two sixth grade girls who were also roaring with laughter (although not as loudly as I was). I told them that this was a play about a person who had really lived and told them to go and "Google" her and read about her. Then I thought that 6 years ago when I retired the kids were just getting the idea of "googling" for information.
The culmination of her career was a concert at Carnegie Hall on October 25, 1944. She was 76 years old and died a month later. She is reported to have said, "People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."
The play ended with her finally doubting her ability when she heard the audience laughing at her rendition of the Ave Maria. Her accompanist reassured her that she was indeed a great artist and told us that they were planning to do the next years concert so of course she did not die of a broken heart as some suggested. The final scene he explained to the audience that he thought that she probably heard herself differently than the audience. He felt that she sounded like this ... and then this wonderful actress came out and sang the Ave Maria for us. Perfectly, beautifully and it moved me to tears. The result of their performances was a standing ovation at the end and they deserved it.
When I was "googling" for this post I found the following recording of this remarable artist.
After the play I met Kurt, Lyssa, and the kids for supper at Old Chicago. So all in all this has been a pretty perfect Sunday. Hope you had as much fun as I did. The Princess has learned to write my name - J - ARTYAL. Hugs,
Over at FranIAm there is a beautiful post to read. I particularly loved the quote from Rance's writing. Rance has just passed on and Fran shared a couple of his writings. This is so eloquently expressed I had to share it. It is another reason that I love the Internets. If not for them I would never have read the following:
I think that the diversity in the world is what gives it it's texture, it's richness, it's incredible range so to speak. I had a close elderly friend, who is gone now but who was on the Tribal Council for the Northern Ute Indian Tribe. He taught me so much about life. One day we were having a spirited discussion about the nature of God and he told me that he wanted me to take him to the mountain to a very large lake near here and he would show me the face of God. I was interested to see what he was talking about and we have a boat so one Sunday morning at 4:00 a.m. we drove up to the lake, uncovered the boat in the marina and headed out into the channel at the crack of dawn. We slowly cruised up the lake to a beautiful canyon where he ask me to just turn off the engines and let the boat slowly glide to a stop. I poured myself a fresh cup of hot coffee and just looked at him. "Do you see it?" He asked?. "What am I supposed to be seeing?' "Just look for a few minutes" he replied. Finally, I said,
"Hey look, theres some elk, wow, they are so beautiful." "Keep looking" he said. I stared intently at the sides of the canyon for a few minutes and then I realized that; "This is like a game preserve up in here, man, there are elk, deer, moose, coyotes, eagles, crows, osprey's, sea gulls, so many things." "Yes" he said, " and have you noticed that no one is trying to turn the elk into deer, the deer into moose, the moose into coyotes, the eagles into crows, or the osprey's into sea gulls? They are as they were meant to be and they each have their place in the universe. "That my friend, THAT is the face of God". Why do we always think that we have to change people, to make them "like us". What kind of a flower garden would you have if there were only roses? There are daisy's, petunias, zinnias, nasturtiums, phlox, daffodil's, annuals, perennials, shade plants, sun plants in every color and hue and for every purpose. They each have their unique and beautiful role to play and to change any of them would mean destroying something else that is precious and there for a purpose.
An American Freemason Speaks Out for Peace
Click book or here to go to the page and buy it for yourself,
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you, I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
May the good obtain peace
May the peaceful be freed from bonds.
May the freed set others free.
Patrick wrote this book to speak out for peace. The Hindu prayer shows the effects of the wicked becoming good. How it leads to peace and freedom.
I really like the book of John. To me it is the most profound book of the Bible. It opened my thought and my heart up to God. When I fix my mind on the peace of God I find it hard to believe that His children (as we all are) could have spent so much time and energy on war and on things which destroy rather than build. As a Mason I am a builder. As such I try (and remember folks, the operative word here is try) to build my Masonic edifice so that my "stone" will fit with the others in building the heavenly temple.
Now there are fellows I don't much care for and don't hang around with and that is fine. I don't wish them ill and really they can be a part of the Temple also. Just fit their stone in around the corner or on a different wall. Then we can dwell together in peace and the Lodges can close with "peace and harmony prevailing."
If you didn't see it be sure to go and listen to Patrick's talk from Ohio. It is in four parts but well worth listening to. Thanks for stopping by. Hugs, j
Saturday, March 28, 2009
The Tylers were vigilant guarding the doors.
You can see all the pictures below.
Thanks for stopping by. I'm tired, Off to bed, Thanks for stopping by. Hugs, j
We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they are.
After that we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage.
We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse or partner gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice holiday, or when we retire.
The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right now. Your life will always be filled with challenges.
It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.
There will always be some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid.
These obstacles are your life. This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.
So reassure every moment that you have.Treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time...and remember that time waits for no one...
So, stop waiting until you finish school, until you go back to school, until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until autumn, until winter, until you are off the dole, until the first or fifteenth, Until your song comes on, until you've had a drink, until you've sobered up, until you die, until you are born again.....
To decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy.....
Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
Work like you don't need money,
Love like you've never been hurt, and
Dance like no one's watching.
Every afternoon with good weather, seems to find this armada of one person sailboats of various colors moving about on the St. Charles River in an organized kind of training to become sail boat captains! I doubt this is part of the curriculum of MIT, but surely is a pleasant diversion for those studying there, and for tourists who have the chance to occasionally glance out windows with a camera! AHOY
Friday, March 27, 2009
I am working at the Scottish Rite Reunion this week-end so Shane and Don can be a little freer to do their duties. I found this article about the Rite over at the Illustrious Order of the Three Ruffians. If you want to know more about the Scottish Rite you can click on the graphic or here to go read it.
And don't forget to go to Raven's Nest to see all the others.
This Week's Ten Word Challenge is: partition, imagination, salvation, mirror image, green power, highway, roasting marshmallows, serial killer, autograph, cartography
Mini Challenge: cell phone, Big Mac, panther, legendary, poets corner
Phrog , Phrog , screamed Rhonda, What is the matter? LaGi help me move Phrog over here behind this partition. His imagination must have been working overtime when he fainted (or is it phainted?), we must wake him for his salvation. Help me to pull him over here by the mirror so that when he wakes up he will see his own mirror image. Now let us blast the green power over him then we can drive him on the highway to the fire pit where they are roasting marshmallows on the grave of a serial killer who used to sign his autograph on the back of his victims and practice elaborate cartography which were maps to the Hidden Temple of the Secret Salamanders.
Just then Saydie's cell phone went off. She put down her Big Mac on the top of a panther coffee table in the legendary poets corner and answered the phone. Hello, Hello, - Well that is funny. Phrog is calling from the pond. Who could that be over behind the partition?
Next Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: apoplexy, doctor, hummingbird, shallow end of the pool, brigadier general, mustard, greed, parallelogram, slumber party, casual
Mini Challenge: Mount Olympus, arsonist, portraits, birch trees, "that car needs a new muffler"
Thursday, March 26, 2009
An elderly Floridian called 911 on her cell phone to report that her car has been broken into. She is hysterical as she explains her situation to the dispatcher: 'They've stolen the stereo, the steering wheel, the brake pedal and even the accelerator!' she cried.
The dispatcher said, 'Stay calm. An officer is on the way.'
A few minutes later, the officer radios in. 'Disregard,' he says.
'She got in the back-seat by mistake...'
Two elderly women were out driving in a large car - both could barely see over the dashboard. As they were cruising along, they came to an intersection. The stoplight was red, but they just went on through. The woman in the passenger seat thought to herself, 'I must be losing it. I could have sworn we just went through a red light.'
After a few more minutes, they came to another intersection and the light was red again. Again, they went right through. The woman in the passenger seat was almost sure that the light had been red but was really concerned that she was losing it. She was getting nervous. At the next intersection, sure enough, the light was red and they went on through. So, she turned to the other woman and said, 'Mildred, did you know that we just ran through three red lights in a row? You could have killed us both!'
Mildred turned to her and said, 'Oh, crap, am I driving?'
A husband in his back yard is trying to fly a kite. He throws the kite up in the air, the wind catches it for a few seconds, then it comes crashing back down to earth. He tries this a few more times with no success.
All the while, his wife is watching from the kitchen window, muttering to herself how men need to be told how to do everything. She opens the window and yells to her husband, "You need a piece of tail."
The man turns with a confused look on his face and says, "Make up your mind. Last night, you told me to go fly a kite."
A little old lady was going up and down the halls in a nursing home. As she walked, she would flip up the hem of her night-gown and say 'Supersex.' She walked up to an elderly man in a wheelchair. Flipping her gown at him, she said, 'Supersex.' He sat silently for a moment or two and finally answered, 'I'll take the soup...
The Center for Disease Control has issued a medical alert about a highly contagious, potentially dangerous virus that is transmitted orally, by hand, and even electronically.
This virus is called Weekly Overload Recreational Killer (WORK).
If you receive WORK from your boss, any of your colleagues or anyone else via any means whatsoever - DO NOT TOUCH IT!!! This virus will wipe out your private life entirely. If you should come into contact with WORK you should immediately leave the premises.
Take two good friends to the nearest liquor store and purchase one or both of the antidotes - Work Isolating Neutralizer Extract (WINE) and Bothersome Employer Elimination Rebooter (BEER). Take the antidote repeatedly until WORK has been completely eliminated from your system.
You should immediately forward this medical alert to five friends. If you do not have five friends, you have already been infected and WORK is controlling your life.
On their honeymoon, the eager bride slipped into a sexy nightie and, with great anticipation, crawled into bed, only to find her new Anglo-Catholic husband had settled down on the couch. When she asked him why he was apparently not going to make love to her, he replied, "It's Lent."
In tears, she sobbed, "Well, that is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard!"
After a moment's thought, she added. "So who did you lend it to, and for how long?"
The law says you must give full disclosure of any problems with a house when you sell it.
Have a Great Week-end and Thanks for Stopping by. Big Hugs. j-bear
An American Freemason Speaks Out for Peace
Click book or here to go to the page and buy it for yourself,
Regular readers of this Blog know that I am using Patrick Swift's Book, One Mountain, Many Paths on Sundays as a meditation for my day. I got this e-mail from him yesterday. I recommend you go and listen to his talk. An American Freemason Speaks Out for Peace - McCoy Center for the Arts - New Albany, Ohio
Dear Bro. Jay,
I think you might be interested in a talk I gave last month in Ohio. You had been kind enough to take an interest in my book and I sincerely appreciate that! I hope you enjoy the talk too. It posted here: http://www.onemountainmanypaths.com/YouTube_Videos.html
Warm Fraternal Regards,
I did enjoy it and I think you will also.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I went to the Consistory today for the second week of the Consistory Social time. It was nice. We had a lot of guys drop in and out over the 3 hours we were open and they were still there talking when I left to go get some supper.
Some played pool (or maybe it was billiards) and others talked about all sorts of things. Kurt heard a couple of guys talking about a degree they were both in. There were practices and just a really nice time to talk and visit. There are two more of these scheduled. I enjoy them. I think we ought to make it a monthly event.
Kurt and went to Chef's Kitchen to get a bite. I brought home enough meat loaf to last me at least through tomorrow. They serve great big servings.
Thanks for stopping by. Hug someone and Always Remember That You Are Loved. j
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I have added a widget to the bottom of the Blog which links you to Iowa Blogs. I may be listed there eventually if they let me in.
Two new Web Sites are below.
Polaris Council #449 - Allied Masonic Degrees - Des Moines, Iowa
Green Degrees Council #93 - Knight Masons - Des Moines, Iowa
I am not a member of the above organizations but my friend and Brother Kurt did the Web Sites so I am giving them a "Shout Out" He does good work. .
Kurt also did the Web Site for Specialis Procer Lodge U. D. and Iowa College SRICF.
In 2007 I did a post entitled Enlarging Your Tent.
In it I said
There are a lot of good Masons who are happy and content just participating in what they choose to do. Whether it is the service club aspect or the ritual or the charity work or something else. All are Masons and are have value to our Fraternity.
In the story of Auntie Maime she says. "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death." Paraphrasing this I would say "Masonry is a buffet. (I don't go to Masonic banquets if I can help it) You can diet, have a gourmet meal or stuff (gorge) yourself. It is up to you. The "tent" of Freemasonry is large enough to accommodate us all.
There are all kinds of Masonic Lodges in our state. One works in White Tie and Tails and another wears Bib Overalls. Some are involved in Community Service and others have different activities. Each and every one of them has value and meets the needs of its members. I enjoy both of my lodges for different reasons. If I didn't I would not maintain my membership in them. Someone once said to me "If you don't enjoy something, why do it?" He was right. I enjoy my Masonry and the Masons I have met all over the state and the United States. It has connected me to people I would not have otherwise have met. I am very grateful for my Masonic Family.
Thanks for stopping by, Hugs, j
I am in Boston or Bean Town as some say, to be a part of Photoshop World 2009, as some 3,000 photographers, graphic artists, and others, all big fans of the Photoshop software gather for a week of classes, workshops, demos, and fun. This is a panoramic I shot from my room window when I arrived on Monday, showing the St. Charles River in the foreground and the buildings and structures of Cambridge on the other side of the river. If you go to the far right of the pano you can see the famous Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, which is a thing of beauty (Google it and you can see more). It is the widest suspension bridge of its kind in the world, something like 5 lanes of traffic side by side going each direction. As you move to the left you see the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and then comes Harvard along the way and in the spaces behind the river bank. As you go to the far left you see the famous CITGO sign which is always on and was demanded by baseball fans that it remain glowing across the interstate from Fenway Park, home of the Boston White Socks. It is COLD here...32 and wind speed faster than the temperature when I arrived! I will be inside most all the time, but will go out and do some shooting on Saturday if the weather permits. There sure is lots of history in this town...and some Photoshop history will undoubtedly be made here this week as well.