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Thursday, December 11, 2014

My Ideal Masonic Lodge - Part 2 - Service & Leadership


Greetings!


In a previous paper I shared my thoughts in an essay of what I would consider the Ideal Masonic Lodge. The idea for the title came from W. Bro. Chad Simpson, WM of the Ohio Lodge of Research, a body I presently hold associate membership in.


Previously, I covered what could be taken as some basics of membership along with what many of us may feel are reasonable basics that should be met regarding ourselves and potential new members we accept into membership of our Craft Lodges.


In this writing I wish to address what I see as a key element to Masonic membership that can become corn-holed inadvertently due to distraction. That missing element is Leadership, and oft times poor leadership can be traced to poor service. 


A person unwilling to SERVE at all times after being placed in a leadership position indicates a serious matter for the lodge (or other organization) that places such a person in a leadership role.


To be fair, it isn't always the fault of the poor leader; said leader could have not been taught properly which will expose another flaw of the Craft Lodge system. The premise is that no Master will take on more Apprentices or Fellows than he can adequately instruct or has work to assign them. On the surface this just seems like long-winded ritualistic baggage that may have outlived its usefulness in our technologically advanced age we are now in... I hope to show why it is still relevant, and can help create the ideal lodge if applied properly.


As it is the responsibility of the Master to set his Trestle Board and make adequate plans so that he can set the Craft to work and give them proper instruction for their labors, the Master plays an important role in this entire equation I AM discussing in this writing.


We are all aware of membership declines that have steadily increased in the last four decades of the 20th century and are still taking place at this time in American Freemasonry. There have been many articles, papers or other research used in attempt to determine what has caused this steady decline and this writing is no different in that I AM offering but another opinion arrived at after 25 years of Masonic membership.


Though I AM chronologically young in age under commonly accepted Masonic standards, at my current age of 46 I have had the privilege of holding Masonic membership for 25 years. For that reason I consider myself a dinosaur, a part of the "has been" crew. In spite of this humorous opinion of myself, I have great respect for our Masonic regulations and traditions, and would not consider altering them in any way without serious thought being given before doing so.


One of those commonly accepted traditions is taking a new member and appointing him to what could be considered an entry level position in the lodge. Depending on the lodge and its needs, that entry level position in a majority of cases may be one of the Steward positions. 


For me, it may be advantageous to any lodge that is in proper working order to start any new member in a Steward position for one key reason; that reason being that ALL must learn to SERVE before any can expect to LEAD. I have seen nowhere else where SERVICE is more important in a fraternal organization than this of Freemasonry. 


I AM in no way advocating that true merit and talent should be stifled, stepped on, or excluded in any way. [That decision would seem to be an internal lodge matter on deciding how or when to advance a member as election or appointment of officers is by vote of the lodge or its Master]


The additional aspect of serving in the various stations and places of the lodge is that the young member learns the workings of the lodge, an important process to become competent at one's craft, whatever that craft may be, and the young member learns what it is to serve the others by serving the lodge. This would follow our Masonic tradition of "having done as all brothers and fellows before me".


Along the way, that same member is learning to lead in that every station or place carries certain responsibilities with it, and all elected and appointed members diligently carrying out their duties helps the lodge function in a smooth, efficient manner which honors the Master (who took time to plan the work) and pleasures the Craft (who carried out the planned work) so that all may be able to be called from labor to refreshment in due season when labor is completed.


A connection that I have observed gets lost in the flurry of activity when instructing a new member is that Masonic lessons and teachings are life lessons and teachings when one looks at them from another perspective --- operative and speculative are the two words we should stay mindful of, and please take heed to categorize lessons under one of these two headings as they are all relevant to us in our travels.


It is my sincere hope that this writing inspires the reader to seek a new vantage point for an alternate perspective. We all can use a little reminder from time to time.



I have also provided a link to the original paper for those wishing to read it...


My Ideal Masonic Lodge (an essay)




References:

More Light by H.W. Sanders

Leadership Means More Than Faithful Service by S. Brent Morris

Mackey's Jurisprudence of Freemasonry by Albert G. Mackey

Selected Readings of Morals and Dogma - selected and arranged by Albert Beckman

An Inconvenient Truth about Freemasonry by Nelson King

Experience of Masonry as a Transformational Art by Robert G. Davis

Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss, Ph.D. 


Copyright © 2014 Raymond Sean Walters a/k/a Renaissance Man

Friday, November 21, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Masonic "Bill of Rights". Is it needed?

I have shared my comment to a thread on MyFreemasonry.com that asks should we have a Masonic "Bill of Rights". I have also provided a link to the original thread for those who may wish to read the other comments on this topic.



My response:

I think you raise a valid point here, though I AM still curious as to why those who have become part of this fraternal organization are unable to conform to our rules, and why other members don't privately chastise those members (or leaders) who do not follow our rules.

In 25 years I have seen a lot of what I would term foolishness being exhibited by so-called leaders of our Grand Lodges. I started out in 1988 being subjected to a doctrine of separate & un-equal by being told that I could NOT petition a mainstream lodge, and that I must petition a Prince Hall lodge because my mother was Black... still makes NO sense to me even today.

I spent 10 years as a member of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge's of North Carolina, Ohio & South Carolina, often mistreated by other Blacks because my views and life experiences didn't match up with theirs or what they felt mine should be. During that 10 years, I submitted a petition to a Lodge under the Grand Lodge of North Carolina (1995), only to be rejected at the ballot box. The explanation given was that the lodge wasn't ready for a Black member. Really? So once again, my physical appearance was being used to make a decision about my fitness for membership.

I left Prince Hall Grand Lodge of South Carolina in 2000 and petitioned mainstream Grand Lodge of Texas in 2001 (where I was living then), only to be accepted by my lodge members but unwelcome in other subordinate lodges warranted by the Grand Lodge of Texas as a visitor... something that the Masonic Code of the Grand Lodge of Texas specifically forbids. When I (WM and Past Master's of my lodge) complained about the mistreatment, it was swept under the rug and over-looked by Grand Lodge of Texas officers from 2001-2005. I eventually requested a demit and moved on with my life, still holding membership in Grand Lodge of North Carolina where I had held membership as a dual member in the same lodge that denied me membership in 1995.

I leave Texas, return home to West Virginia so that I can be degraded by persons claiming to be Freemasons when attempting to visit a lodge in West Virginia. As my visitation was denied for what I felt were un-Masonic grounds, I lodged a complaint; first with my Grand Lodge, and then with the Grand Lodge of West Virginia. 

At that time (2005-06), MW Br. Frank Haas was Grand Master and he acted on my complaint. PGM Haas sought to make positive, progressive changes in his grand lodges code, which he did accomplish. Every change voted on was over-turned by his successor, and there is now an informal agreement that if one wishes to serve as a Grand Lodge of West Virginia officer, one will not permit any Blacks in lodges regardless of what jurisdiction they are from that Grand Lodge of West Virginia may be in amity with.

To this day I AM unwelcome as a visitor of subordinate lodges warranted under the Grand Lodge of West Virginia, am unable to visit lodges in eastern Ohio that border West Virginia or visit lodges in western Pennsylvania for the same reason I AM denied visitation in West Virginia. I have been back in the area I was raised in since 2005, it is now 2014... that is 9 years of being excluded & ostracized for no legitimate reason. I have NOT been suspended or expelled, but then when you want to create difficulty for an individual, you will find a way to do it.

My present lodge and Grand Lodge are uncertain what to make of all of this negativity we tend to deal with in American Freemasonry. I was outdone with it all a long time ago. 

What came out of the PGM Frank Haas lawsuit against the Grand Lodge of West Virginia, (which coincided with my presence here) was that our current regulations form a contract with our membership, and that the contract must be honored by our Grand Lodges and its officers. I was denied visitation for an un-Masonic reason which violated my masonic rights and privileges, so I had legitimate reason to complain. Had I simply been told that today wasn't a good day to visit, I could have accepted that better than being told that "wasn't no niggers coming into this lodge"!

I adamantly feel that whatever needs done should be done to guarantee or protect an individual Freemasons rights under Masonic regulations because I have seen too many good men (myself included) mistreated for NO real reason.

This foolishness has to stop, and Freemasons need to stand for what is right, even when it isn't popular. Ego and vanity have taken over so that many of us are more concerned with obtaining a position or a title than in standing for what is morally correct, something we freely obligated ourselves to do at all times, not just when it is convenient.

Fraternally,

Thursday, September 18, 2014

In from the cold... Righteously!


For those of you who follow me & my blog, I finally landed on my feet several months ago after several years of adversity (in West Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Texas) that can only be described as just foolishness.

In my last post on this topic in January 2014, I had mentioned petitioning to affiliate with a subordinate lodge of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia, a Grand Lodge with leadership that has made it un-equivocally clear that Black men will NOT be accepted as members (even though I have heard scuttlebutt that there is at least one Black member in this territory, there has been no verification provided). I simultaneously had submitted petition to affiliate with another West Virginia lodge, a lodge in Pennsylvania, and the United Grand Lodge of England.

The second West Virginia petition was never turned over to the lodge secretary by the Brother that was entrusted to deliver it to said Secretary at their next stated meeting... we later found out that that Brother is questionable, and he is now kept at considerable length. What this aspiring Grand Lodge of West Virginia ass-kisser did NOT know is that I AM personally acquainted with a number of members of that lodge he now belongs to who were expecting the petition for affiliation I sought to submit. What he also did/ does NOT know is that I have previously been examined and sat in that particular lodge in West Virginia long before he ever became a member of it... go ahead and chuckle, I did!!!

I had also attempted to petition to affiliate with a subordinate lodge of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and was given some malarkey about needing a waiver of jurisdiction from Grand Lodge of West Virginia (a rule that only applies to a petitioner, not someone who is already a Master Mason). This information was provided by someone claiming to be a DDGM for the 29th Masonic District in PA who clearly doesn't know as much Masonic Law as he purports to know. Had he checked, his own Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania had already cleared me to be able to petition for affiliation in their territory. This is why I always question so-called experts, who clearly need to be up on their facts or they wouldn't mind being asked an honest question.

I have previously held membership in the Grand Lodge of North Carolina & the Grand Lodge of Texas, having left both for nothing that amounts to more than Masonic politics that I chose to have NO part of.

My current Grand Lodge that I hold membership in is the United Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of England.

As to be expected, this move comes with controversy from both Prince Hall Affiliated & Mainstream members here in the United States of America. This is the first time I have come under criticism by members of both bodies simultaneously. All I can do is shake my head... clearly, ignorance knows no bounds and ignorant describes a large number of persons (not all) that seek and are rewarded with positions in Grand Lodge officer lines.

While I have been no stranger to controversy in the past, the fact that anyone has an opinion or seeks to dictate where I should hold membership is the piece of this puzzle that never makes any sense for me on a personal level.

I will part for now so that I can get back to my genealogical research that relates to formation of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of West Virginia, formed by lodges originally chartered and warranted by the MW National Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Ancient York Masons National Compact (a fact that MWPHGL of WV openly denies, which proves they don't even know their own history) and other work on the Grand Lodge of West Virginia.

Fraternally,

Raymond Sean Walters a/k/a Renaissance Man







Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Modern Cowan by Floren L. Quick (From Wandering Master Group)




THE MODERN COWAN

In Scotland, the operative Mason knew cowans to be ignorant builders who put stones together without mortar. They piled rough fieldstones into a wall without hewing them true, or squaring them. They masqueraded as Masters, but they did not have the Word.

Now and again, today - fortunately not too often - we find a modern equivalent of the operative imposter. One such is the Mason who manages a place in an officer's line with little or no effect of his own to deserve it. With only that exertion that is necessary to maintain his place, he continues to advance in line until he receives the jewels and honours that he prizes so highly. But he does not know the Constitution, and he does not understand the traditions and dignity of the Craft. As a presiding officer, his vocal ability is more noteworthy than his executive ability; and when his term is ended, he is seldom seen until another honour or prize appears to be within his grasp.

He is a contemporary builder who works without the benefit of the mortar of real enthusiasm or accomplishments. His structure is liken unto the rough stone wall, having little beauty of value. He is the cowans of modern speculative Masonry.

He is to be pitied, for he is a Masonic failure. His honours are shallow. Bringing no interest to his position, he received little of the satisfaction and respect that belong to the real Master.

Masonry has failed to reach him with a clear understanding of those marks of true devotion which she has to offer. He never knows the opportunities that the Craft makes available to those who diligently seek them. He misses the opportunities that the Craft makes available to strive for a just and worthy cause. He misses the opportunity for continuing fellowship and friendship. He misses the opportunity for loyalty and devotion. He misses the opportunity for development of his executive, intellectual and oratorical abilities. And most of all, he misses the opportunity for service - to God - to his community - and to his fellow man.

These are the jewels that Masonry has to offer, but in his quest for position and honours, the modern cowan misses them. Like the operative cowan, he does not have the Word.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Brotherhood, Equality & Freemasonry: The Case for Reparations (A Case Study of Freemasonry)

"To celebrate freedom and democracy while forgetting America’s origins in a slavery economy is patriotism à la carte." ~ quote from article



Brotherhood, Equality and Freemasonry


 I will open this writing by first commenting on definitions of the words brotherhood, equality and Freemasonry. Those definitions are as follows;
1)      broth·er·hood = feelings of friendship, support, and understanding between people
2)      equal·i·ty = the quality or state of being equal : the quality or state of having the same rights, social status, etc.
3)      free·ma·son·ry = capitalized :  the principles, institutions, or practices of Freemasons —called also Masonry


It is my hope that the sharing of these experiences will cause those who hear or read my words to truly reflect --- on their views, beliefs, obligations and their humanity.


I have held Masonic membership for 24 years, in a fraternal organization that teaches brotherhood and equality. Those two words carry significant impact, and can mean different things to many different people. The meaning one views these words from is partially determined from the teachings and instruction we receive from our parents, extended family, neighbors and even friends.


I will ask that you view our social circle as our tribal affiliation (of sorts). A tribe has typically been collectively responsible for teaching many lessons that are based upon the survival of the tribe and its members.


If a tribe taught that certain foreigners who were not tribal members were to be shunned for whatever reason, then that is the belief that any tribal member would come to hold based upon teaching. An issue will soon arise after any given member of the tribe questions why such belief is held, and what is that belief based on.


Some of you may be able to connect the dots from the article in relation to the attitudes of a number of Freemasons today that refuse to see men (and women) of color as their equals.


Freemasonry is about Brotherhood & Equality... two aspects that do not work well independently of each other.



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Where is the Brotherly Love in Freemasonry?






For those of you who know me personally, you may be acquainted with my Masonic journey and some complaints I have lodged based on what I will call common sense observations that often are backed up by Masonic rules... just depends on people's interpretations, which is always a scary thought to me personally.


I have had a number of obstacles thrown in my way, mostly by mainstream Freemasons in America, and on rare ocassions a Prince Hall Freemason who simply disliked my holding mainstream membership, even if our Grand Lodges were in recognition with each other. My example would be the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of North Carolina, which presently claims it has NO record of me having been a member there despite my having been issued an MM diploma. I appear in none of the annual reports I should appear in.


What happened? Good question, and I have NO answer. I won't even expend any mental energy on trying to figure it out but do fail to understand how there would be NO record of me in any Grand Lodge I have held past membership in unless the records were removed (or destroyed) on purpose by someone.


I recently made a decision to drop my Scottish Rite membership, and request a demit from my valley/ consistory. I am going to lay out the reasons why I arrived at my decision, and let you all come to your own conclusions.


When I first moved to West Virginia from Texas in 2005, I held membership in the Grand Lodge of Texas, and a dual membership in the Grand Lodge of North Carolina. Today, I am not proud of having held membership in either Grand Lodge, and often wasn't treated any better by the GL's I held membership in than the foreign GL's that would refuse me visitation because of my race/ ethnicity.


Fast forward to 2014 --- through a strange twist, I end up member of a mainstream Grand Lodge and a Prince Hall Scottish Rite Consistory. There is NO conflict between my Grand Lodge nor the Prince Hall Consistory as I am able to hold membership in both.


Yet, when I try to visit Scottish Rite Valley's & Consistory's I am denied the ability to visit anywhere, only it is primarily happening with Prince Hall Scottish Rite in West Virginia... even though I was a Prince Hall AASR member in good standing. I have also been denied visitation by mainstream AASR in Steubenville, Ohio; Wheeling, West Virginia; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


With a recognition agreement having been signed in 2013 between Supreme Council's in theory there shouldn't have been any issue with visiting anywhere, and AASR visitation certainly shouldn't have been predicated upon where my Symbolic Lodge membership was held.


I am once again giving contemplation to the question of exactly why do I remain a Freemason. There are so many examples of conduct that cause me to cringe that I once again understand how we drive membership away that have great potential in favor of political ass-kissers willing to simply wait their turn to advance through the stations.


I was always taught that advancement in Freemasonry should be factored on merit, and not seniority; another lesson that many of today's members simply refuse to implement by always seeking to put their beer-drinking, skirt-chasing buddies in said positions. In my opinion Freemasonry went from attracting the intellectual elite regardless of class or social standing, to becoming but another blue-collar version of an animal lodge (Elks, Eagles, Moose, Water Buffalo).


So once again, I have been able to share my latest installment of the hypocrisy that calls itself Freemasonry in America... take from it what you will, and please give thought to NOT displaying the negative conduct I have detailed in this writing.


Frat,


Raymond Sean Walters a/k/a Renaissance Man







Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Ideal Masonic Lodge (an essay)




My Ideal Masonic Lodge (Essay paper)


Written by Bro. Raymond Sean Walters 



It was first suggested to me several years ago that I should consider writing a book about my experiences and travels as a Freemason. From then until now, I have actually been uncertain what exactly I should write a book about. I have written a number of papers and even presented them, but to write a book sounds pretty involved. This will be another attempt at a written paper, and since this one is based on personal thoughts and opinions, I will give it a go.

I was first informed by W Bro. Chad Simpson that the subject of this paper should be my thoughts as to what would be the ideal masonic lodge --- a paper that affords any writer to offer opinions based on their own thoughts, perspectives, and personal understanding. I found the idea to be so drastically different that I agreed to consider writing a paper and submitting it.

My Masonic journey has been filled with a considerable amount of personal anguish, though I will readily admit that I have met a number of Freemasons that seem to have gained some understanding of Freemasonry’s teachings and have become better at applying those teachings to their own daily living. Those Freemasons have helped me by teaching me or showing me a different perspective on many things, helping to keep me in due bounds by reminding me to use the tools of my craft, or any other tools at my disposal.

Freemasonry and the lessons it conveys are NOT rocket science. If the stated purpose of taking a good man and showing him how to become a better man are taken at face value, then becoming that better man should be an attainable objective for all who enter Freemasonry’s doors. One such reminder is that Freemasonry is a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. It has become apparent to me after 24 years of travel as a Freemason, that the lessons taught as well as lessons learned are not apparent to all claiming the title Freemason. If the lessons are readily apparent, it must be the application thereof that becomes the challenge for some.

I will begin with the qualification requirements of one seeking admission to our order. I will be referencing a ritual called More Light, written by H.W. Sanders. The More Light ritual parallels another ritual called Ecce Orienti, which is a coded version of the exposure by H.W. Sanders.

A candidate is asked a series of questions about qualifications to become a member and if it is of his own volition that he seek to be admitted into the lodge and order. The same candidate is conducted through his ceremony of initiation, with no member present expecting him to actually remember the lessons and symbolism taught during the ceremony.

This same process is repeated until the candidate is eventually pronounced a Master Mason and in many cases having only had to learn what could be considered rudimentary lessons to be deemed proficient. It is now that the application of those lessons is expected, and required.

With this being said, my first question is, and always has been was the candidate actually taught? It is stressed during these ceremonies that the candidate be instructed and proves himself as all brothers and fellows who have gone this way before him. Has he proven himself? If so, how?

My ideal here would be that the candidate actually be taught lessons of substance, not just lessons of ritual. Teach him lessons that may cause him to re-think all that he knew in the outside world prior to coming into the oblong-square. If Freemasonry is to be a transformation, transforming requires work. Work can be physical or intellectual --- but it is work that is required.

This work should begin in the EA degree, and no candidate should be simply passed through without being given a true education --- lessons that will impact his thinking, and guide him toward making a transformation within him first, thereby enabling him to effect positive change in the outside world he must live, work and even struggle in on a daily basis.

It is an especial duty of the lodge as a whole to TEACH and shouldn’t fall to only one particular instructor that the Master may have assigned. Learning experience can often be better through a series of lectures and lessons with more than one instructor, so that over time many things can be learned, and later applied.

My second ideal situation for any lodge is that what I have indicated makes for a good candidate was hopefully applied previously to all the brothers and fellows who had gone before him. Training and preparation is required before advancement in any field of endeavor, and should be as equally important in this speculative science we have freely obligated ourselves to work and study at.

Even though one may be titled an MM, are they capable and truly qualified? It would appear that their journey is NOT over, but having only begun. Having a title, and showing that one is worthy of such title are two different ends of a spectrum.

It is the work of each individual in a collective effort that makes a Lodge effective at building its members into our stated purpose of “making good men better”. I was taught that Freemasons meet as a Lodge, not in one. Remembering that ritual teaches that ancient lodges met on high hills or low valleys indicates that there wasn’t always a fixed location for such meetings as there is now.

Despite the lack of a fixed location, those Masons came prepared to “work” as Masons, and prepared to teach the Craft to younger members, and each other. It would appear that the bonds of brotherly love grew stronger under that system, a system that served well for many years.

I have asked myself what changed. In all my years of reading and study of Freemasonry, it appears to this writer that what changed was one thing we all vowed to never do. Innovation or change can have positive effects on any institution, or individual. It can equally be observed that innovation can have negative impact as well, which in an ideal situation would be spotted quickly and corrected, yet that hasn’t always been the case as Masonic and world history has clearly shown those of us who actually read and study.

In this paper I have shared my opinion. I do not expect anyone to agree with me, or my thoughts. I have always strived to keep things as simple as I could so that anyone could grasp some understanding from my words. My final analysis is that we all strive to learn what we can, and be willing to teach it to others.

Freely sharing is something that makes humans distinct, and sharing is what allowed individuals to become unified in common purpose as tribes. We Freemasons are a tribe of sorts, a tribe that becomes family --- a family of Brothers.


References:

More Light by H.W. Sanders

An Inconvenient Truth about Freemasonry by Nelson King

Experience of Masonry as a Transformational Art by Robert G. Davis

Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss, Ph.D. 


Copyright © 2014 Raymond Sean Walters a/k/a Renaissance Man



THIS PAPER HAS BEEN SUBMITTED TO THE OHIO LODGE OF RESEARCH AT THEIR QUARTERLY MEETING SEPTEMBER 13, 2014. OHIO LODGE OF RESEARCH HOLDS PUBLISHING RIGHTS TO THIS PAPER AND MUST BE MENTIONED IF THIS PAPER IS SHARED OR USED IN ANY WAY.



Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Help save Fairview Cemetery in Greenwood, South Carolina




Robin Foster is the National Genealogy Examiner and a member of the South Carolina Genealogical Society - Columbia Chapter. She has presented for the following chapters: Anderson, Pinckney, Greenville, Columbia. She presented at the 41st Annual Summer Workshop of the South Carolina Genealogical Society held at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History July 12-13 in 2013. Libraries and museums that have requested presentations that she has honored include: Lexington County Public Library (Cayce Branch), Union Carnegie Library, Richland Library (Main), Greenwood County Library, and Union County Museum..







If you would like to send a donation, please forward it to:

Greenwood Historical Society
P. O. Box. 49653
Greenwood, South Carolina 29649
C/O Carol Scales

Please specify that your donation is for Fairview Cemetery.

A Grumpy Past Master's opinion

Was today described as a Shaolin Master w/ a major attitude problem...

Apparently, my low tolerance for people that rush you to communicate shows when I AM speaking, being constantly interrupted while communicating my thought I wish to express.

My point right now is all of us may need to work on our listening skills before opening our mouths with questions that may get answered had we listened attentively first -- then ask a question, or two.

In parting, I will say don't miss the opportunity to grab the pebble from my hand because you are so busy flapping your chops that you didn't hear me (or someone else) inform you to grab the pebble.

#learntolisten


Raymond Sean Walters a/k/a Renaissance Man

Monday, June 02, 2014

The Fraternal Decline - Masonic Youth Programs Disappearing

Greetings!


Today's thought will center on the decline of Masonic sponsored programs for youth - boys & girls.

I will address and comment on my specific region, though some of what I will mention may apply in more areas than my own.

Here in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia, the Knights of Pythagoras program has been virtually non-existent for several years. Across the river in eastern Ohio, no KOP sponsored groups either. 

Knights of Pythagoras is a Prince Hall Grand Lodge sponsored group that relies on volunteer advisers from a local lodge that sponsor the group of Knights. 

I have never been aware of the Gleaners group for young girls to become part of in my region, and wonder if there has ever been one in this area. Gleaners would be advised by members of the Order of the Eastern Star I believe.

On the flip-side of this debacle is the Order of De Molay and the Rainbow Girls, and I actually have NO knowledge of what, if any groups operate in this region.

What is equally disconcerting to me is that the several youngsters I would have referred to the KOP & Gleaners most likely would NOT be admitted to the De Molay & Rainbow groups because of their race/ethnicity. 

How do we openly discriminate against children, no matter their age? How do we limit the opportunity for young people to develop socially, helping to better prepare them?

And what is most bothersome, what reception would any of these young people get due to my being the one to refer them to a youth program on either side of the Masonic coin --- myself having held membership on both sides of that coin, but not being treated as a MAN or FREEMASON anywhere in West Virginia by members of Prince Hall Grand Lodge because I hold mainstream membership, nor by mainstream Grand Lodge because of my race/ ethnicity while being often equally mis-treated in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania for similar reasons? 

I AM amazed at the level of racism that still exists and perpetuates in the region I presently reside --- a region where I AM not welcomed by other Freemasons in Prince Hall Grand Lodge or Grand Lodge of West Virginia, and where young children can be denied social interaction to acquire skills that would be most beneficial to their development as people.

Once again, I do NOT have answers... I can only share the FACTS as they are. 

Do I like it? NO, I do NOT!!! 

And I strongly suspect that many of you won't like it either.

I will part for now --- stay FOCUSED, stay POSITIVE and stay PRAYERFUL!

Fraternally,


Raymond Sean Walters a/k/a Renaissance Man




ADDENDUM: Letter sent November 13, 2015


Raymond Sean Walters
Post Office Box 635
Weirton, West Virginia 26062-0635



Mr. Michael Russell, Executive Director
DeMolay International
10200 NW Ambassador Drive
Kansas City, MO 64153




Dear Mr. Russell,


I hope that all finds you well with the writing of this letter. 


I first attempted to call your office with questions and seeking guidance, and the young woman I spoke with gave me a couple of options to communicate my question and complaint to your attention as Executive Director of DeMolay International.


My first question was the requirements for membership for young men who may be interested in seeking membership.


Here in West Virginia, it has been brought to my attention on multiple occasions that young boys of African American or other non-Caucasian ethnicities are being denied consideration for membership in DeMolay International in West Virginia. 


This move oddly parallels the Grand Lodge of West Virginia's official "un-official" mandate that NO men of African descent or other non-Caucasian ethnicity be permitted to petition, affiliate with, or even visit any subordinate lodge under the Grand Lodge of West Virginia. These violations are being committed against members of regular lodges under grand lodges that Grand Lodge of West Viriginia is in amity and fraternal recognition with.


While I understand that the Grand Lodge of West Virginia does not control DeMolay, the advisors most typically are members of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia, a grand lodge where an atmosphere of coercion and intimidation to employ racist, discriminatory tactics is at hand and used on a regular basis within that grand lodge. These negative attitudes subsequently spill over onto other concordant, appendant or sponsored youth groups operating within this gramnd lodge territory.


My point I truly wish to make is that discrimination against adults is one matter that adults can address in a manner they deem fit for such circumstance; but open discrimination against innocent children is a completely different scenario that is and should be unacceptable, and just may be considered so by a majority of Masonic members worldwide, beyond my own personal opinion.


While I do hold Masonic membership in another Grand Lodge, I AM writing this email out of concern for the message of exclusion that has been and is still being sent by DeMolay advisors who hold Masonic membership in Grand Lodge of West Virginia. 


The current message being sent here in West Virginia strikes me as contrary to DeMolay standards and a gross violation of conduct expected of any Masonic member involved with advising any youth group.



Sincerely,


Raymond Sean Walters
​Post Office Box 635
Weirton, West Virginia 26062-0635​

+1 412-353-9075
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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Daily Thought May 31, 2014

Greetings!

It has been awhile since I have sat at my desk and had time to write a blog post. There has been a number of reasons for that, but I need to make better effort at posting more regularly.

As most of you may know, my primary topic is typically Masonic related, as I AM a Freemason.

Though topics vary, my pet peeve with Freemasons has been the level of incompetence I have observed, or experienced the negative end of by persons that I still wonder what selection criteria was used to admit them as members.

Over time it has become readily apparent that I have amassed a number of enemies within the Fraternity --- some due to my tendency to question, especially questioning things that are not right, and always questioning violations of the fraternity's rules and regulations.

Apparently, some persons who are selected or elected to membership have no clear understanding of Freemasonry's rules, not the limits to their power & authority based on whatever position they may hold in the fraternity.

Over 24 years of membership, I have seen good, bad and ugly... not an un-common occurrence in any aspect of life, but Freemasonry, nor its members are to be common.

It has been my understanding that we as Freemasons are to strive to become and act better than what is "common".

Therein has been a large part of the issue that I see, Freemasonry has become no different than the world outside of the lodgeroom.

If I (and other Freemasons) are forced to deal with treacherous behavior that is incompatible with Masonic teachings, and not even in line with worldly standards... where is this fraternity headed???

I do NOT have the answers, or any answers; I just have questions like many of you do also.

I will part for now...



Fraternally,

Raymond Sean Walters a/k/a Renaissance Man




A pic of the altar at Arts & Sciences Lodge #792 in Ohio.

Musim, Christian, Jew, Shinto, Hindu and what ever you would call someone who uses the Jeffersonian bible....all in lodge together.

Quite a thing of awesomeness, the way Freemasonry is supposed to be...

Arts & Sciences Lodge #792




Wednesday, May 28, 2014

“Forever Conceal, and Never Reveal” The “secrets” of Freemasonry by Bro. Gene Goldman

While serving my Lodge, I had occasion to call on one of our Entered Apprentices to ask about the reasons for his long absence from the Work. Like all too many men who join our Fraternity, he completed his initiation and then disappeared. He had several reasons; the demands of his business had picked up, some personal issues requiring his attention at home, scheduling problems with his Coach, etc. All these were valid, but there appeared more to this than he was letting on. After some more conversation the truth was revealed . . . he was concerned about his obligation, particularly about the penalties for revealing our secrets.