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Friday, January 31, 2014

Experience of Masonry as a Transformational Art (Robert G. Davis, Past Master)

Good Morning!

I wanted to share a paper written by another Freemason that may cause those of you in the Fraternity to THINK.

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Experience of Masonry as a Transformational Art
By Robert G. Davis Past Master, Guildhall Lodge No. 553, Oklahoma

Recipient of 2009 Duane E. Anderson Excellence in Masonic Education Award



Reprinted from the July April issue of the "Minnesota Mason"VOL. 56, No. 6





I have given much thought over the past twenty years to the state of Masonry in America. To be sure, the success or failure of our organization is almost wholly based on the Symbolic Lodge and the experience a Brother receives there. A global review of successful lodge models clearly shows us there are at least two models of success in the Masonic culture.

There are, for example, thriving lodges in America which stay focused on delivering Masonry with a well-rounded agenda. These lodges characteristically provide accurate ritual work, meaningful charitable activities, visible community services, regular family and social activities, and an adequate fraternal experience for their members. Successful lodges do this consistently year after year. Lodges that are increasing in membership in the United States typically do these things better than most.

But there are also lodges whose success is focused only on Masonry as a fraternal experience; one in which meaningful tools for personal improvement and spiritual development are consistently delivered to members month-in and month-out. Such lodges are centered on what we might call the “inner work,” in which the appeal is wholly fraternal and carried out in privacy, with little public visibility. In America, we think of these as “traditional practices” lodges.

Let me say that I fully support and encourage the first model of success for the overall American culture, as it is the one that gives us public presence and credibility and offers our members the opportunity to practice without the lodge what they learn in it. It is the lodge experience that the Masonic Renewal Committee of North America has claimed will be attractive to a significant number of American men.

Having said this, however, it is the second model of success that will be the focus of this paper because I am convinced that men in the 19 to 35 year-old-range are interested in organizations that are centered on education, spiritual development, and fraternity. And it is this segment of our population that will most likely determine if Masonry will survive or die as an American institution over the
next few years.

I have done some serious soul-searching about our claim that the most important purpose of our Order is to take good men and make them better; in large part because we fail miserably in our effort to create and protect the setting within which this process can occur—the sacred space of the tiled lodge. To me, meeting on the level implies that there is a place where, in fact, no invidious distinctions exist; a place where there is no basis for envy or jealousy; a place where there is no need for power or control; a place where there is no impulse for influence or manipulation; no motive for condescension and patronizing; a place wherein there is no presumption that we will duplicate there the behaviors and attitudes that may prevail outside of it.

Yet, in lodge after lodge; in Grand Lodge after Grand Lodge, we typically find that the normal characteristics of human behavior remain the same. within the tiled recesses as without them. My Brethren, if the normal failings of humanity do not stay outside the lodge, then how can we claim to offer a different space within it? How do we deliver on our promise that wisdom dwells in contemplation, that the genius of the Mystic Art presides over our assemblies, and that we are practicing our operative craft only when we are gathered together in a sacred space set aside and consecrated specifically for that purpose?

Those of us who are active in our communities and are known as Masons and those of us who work in Masonic buildings which offer daily public tours frequently get the chance to talk with many non- Masons. In those conversations we find a surprising number of young men asking questions about Masonry. Many of these men, particularly those who have done some website surfing, have already formulated an opinion about us. Thus they often come into Masonry knowing more about it than we do. They have read all the anti-Mason rhetoric that is out there. They have sifted through the good and the bad, and have independently concluded that Freemasonry is a venue for truth-seeking; a vehicle for self development; a quest for the spiritual.

Many young men are coming into our Order with expectations of discovery and personal improvement. What they too often find is an organization where old men with old ideas rule; where little happens of substance; where 90% of the members are unseen and inactive; and where behaviors practiced in lodge are remarkable only in their mediocrity and collective lack of understanding in both its organizational purpose and its relevance to the individual.

These realities have led me to become increasingly resistant to the usual lodge culture that we offer in America. I am increasingly fearful that if we do not change our vision and behaviors of what we are supposed to do in lodge, we will run the risk of having to compete with newly created forms of Freemasonry which will likely deliver an even more fragmented system of fraternity with no uniform principles, one that operates from a ritual base of no lineage and promotes practices that are different than what our Founding Fathers envisioned in our Renaissance and Enlightenment era beginnings.

In my judgment, there is an enormous threat to recognized and legitimate Freemasonry today which is being facilitated by electronic ommunication. The Internet, for all of its advantages of networking, has the potential of organizing an entire generation of young seekers into a form of Masonry that knows no Grand Lodge, which operates independently from any collective system of sanctioning, and which will ultimately offer an inadequate model of stability to enable it to survive longer than most other American fads.

This is not a valid or responsible approach to improvement. We are the trustees of a timeless model of improvement for men. Our job is not to light a new torch, but to carry the torch of the old way to the next generation of men. We have a heritage and a lineage which is ours alone because we have earned our own position within it from a legitimate constitutional base.

The point then which I want to raise with you today is this—there is nothing inherently wrong with Freemasonry. It is only because we have stopped seeing Masonry as a transformative art that we have stopped being successful as Masons. It is only when we stopped the dialogue of sharing the meanings and interpretations of our allegories in lodge as a collective practice of lodge that we lost our understanding of Masonry. It is only when we stopped offering the right model for fraternal role modeling to our younger members, one that provides meaningful generational connections to them, that we became less attractive to the largely fatherless culture in our society.

It is only when we stopped seeing the lodge as a vehicle for facilitating the ideals and needs of men, rather than forcing men to be suppliants to the Lodge, that we lost the essential motivation for joining. It is only when we stopped creating social and leadership venues that offered valuable connections between generations of men that we became irrelevant in their eyes. It is only when we stopped creating meaningful legislation in our Grand Lodges, when we stopped making the kinds of adaptations which may bring us progress, and when we replaced progressive opportunities with meaningless rules, that we became too selfserving to be interactive with the larger society.

It is when we decided to become a popular organization that permits anyone to be a member, rather than accepting only those who are duly and truly prepared as instructed by our rituals, that we lost the segment of the male culture that could help us the most and sustain us in every generation. It is, after all, the man who has prepared himself to accept responsibility for his own actions who is also prepared for any kind of constructive learning about himself. When a candidate knocks on the door of a Masonic lodge, he is standing at the threshold of his own consciousness. Beyond that door, he should find a Temple of Enlightenment. And everything he does therein, every symbol he encounters, every pause he takes, every process he witnesses through the degrees of Masonry from that point forward should enhance his increased awareness, his levels of consciousness, and his transformation as a more enlightened human and spiritual being. Brother Kirk MacNulty perhaps defined this concept best in his wonderful book, The Way of the Craftsman, that the craft communicates two notions—first that mankind is made in the image of God and, second, that each of us reflects the structure of the universe.

So, we have to understand that every lodge is a group of men who come together for the purpose of carrying out certain kinds of magical work. The lodge experience is defined by the space which it creates, by its patterns of symbols and ideas, by its music and lighting, by its understanding of its legends and its psychological structure. Traditional practices lodges understand the lodge space itself, and that the work done there is done in secret; and through this discipline of secrecy, it creates for its group a “space between worlds.”

The lodge, because of its consecration and structure, becomes a receptacle of mental and
spiritual health. It provides the path or way of contemplation. It is a healing place because of the purification of its space; and the men working within such a place are doing inner work together. It is a place where only peace and harmony is known because each man within the group is building a temple to God and he knows that is what he is doing. Every participant knows it is his edifice of consciousness and wisdom, in which he himself is the building stone. We cannot smooth the rough ashlar, we cannot square this stone, we cannot make it fit in the Temple without the awareness that this is the work we are doing; that the lodge is the stage, the studio, the working floor, the trestle board for such work.

My Brethren, I can assure you that when you create such a place, and when you bring
the right men into this space, and you stay focused on the individual and his experience,
your rituals will awaken magical energies both within you and within your lodge setting. Your group can literally charge with extraordinary power what is otherwise an ordinary space and transform your lodge into the transformational center that it can and should be.

[Reprinted with permission of the author and The Voice of Freemasonry, published by the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia.]


Fraternally,

Raymond Sean Walters

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

THE THREE RUFFIANS (JUBELA, JUBELO AND JUBELUM)

Greetings!

I share another paper written by PGM Howard Woods of the MWPHGL of Arkansas.


THE THREE RUFFIANS
(JUBELA, JUBELO AND JUBELUM)

A study of the captioned subject shows how much some people cannot separate legend from allegories from truth. We approach the title with a lot of doubt and a smidgen of respect for the authors of the material I have researched over the last few weeks. New questions have arisen, especially since I have viewed the movies "Death by Decree" and "From Hell" two (2) stories about Jack the Ripper and the so-called Masonic Connection. One has ventured forth on ideas that Jack was a person of English royalty, named Prince Albert and that the Masonic Fraternity protected him. Another ventured that Jack was the queen's physician, protecting the family name over a bastard child, who would have been heir to the throne of England. No wonder non-Masons think so lowly of our beloved fraternity.


ALBERT G. MACKEY
In the author's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FREEMASONRY, for your edification, check out his articles on "Jubela-o-um", and then go to "Ruffians: Giblim." It is stated that:
Gebal is a city in ancient Phonecia. Inhabitants of the city were called Giblites or Giblimites and they were "stone-squarers." See 1st Kings 18.
The three (3) names were originally one (1) name for a 'fellowcraft, a leader in the conspiracy against Hiram Abif, and that the names were corrupted names of Giblimite. It is suggested that later writers gave them the a, the o and um to prove their "conspiracy" point. Giblim was corrupted to Gibalim or three (3) syllables or spelled another way, Chibbelum.

The French spelling took Giblim and went to Jiblime, then to Jibulum to Jabulum (See RAM). The same type corruption was evident with Pythagoras, as the French spelled it Pytagore, and in Masonic lore it became Peter Gower combining English and French. Let us follow this trial of corruption: Ghiblim-Giblim-Gibalim-Chibbelum-Jiblime-Jibelum-Jabelum and finally to Jubellum. Consequently, the words are not names but titles of one (1) fellow-craft 'Jubrlum' and with the a and the o added, bibgo, we have three (3) ruffians.
Later writers gave the names to the sun, rising in the East, following a Southerly course and setting in the West (See the Three Gates, same book.) Consider the three (3) stations in a Lodge as well as why there is no gate in the North.

This also alludes to the working tools of the fellow-craft Mason, even though the Setting Maul is not listed in the saga as a working tool of the fellow-craft, and is never explained that Jubelum was not a Master Mason and was trying to get the 'secret.' Allegories abound with these three (3) who chose to agree, but, on the wrong thing. There is a difference between a 'gavel and a setting maul, as one is a working tool of a fellow-craft, while the other, the gavel, is an emblem of authority, and is wielded by the Master of the Lodge.

A look at the AOM, the endings of Jube, called Juwes in the Sherlock Holmes movie and the From Hell movie, a student of Eastern religions will see the sound of Aummmm as a connotation of the Sanskrit chant, replacing the o with a u. In the Sanskrit language o is spelled u. The chant is emblematical of the trilateral gods of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, translated to mean Creator, Preserver and Destroyer.


THE CHRISTIANIZATION OF FREEMASONRY
I believe in the Christian slant as I see it in Freemasonry and I believe there are several religious slants to the whole of Freemasonry creating the 'universality' of the fraternity. What is man, morally, without religious principles hovering over him? It is like life without 'love' which would render life as totally useless. The God we serve, has many names, and many prefixes, and we shall only deal with the three (3) names of the Ruffians to get a muddled view of what may have been on the minds of early Masonic writers.
Some writers have ventured forth that the prefixes of all three (3) Ruffians brings God into the matter by the use of Ja, or as sometimes rendered Je or Jo. We see the same arrangement when the J is replaced with a y, rendering the prefixes Ya or Ye or Yo.
The three (3) ruffians would be the three (3) courts that tried Jesus the Christ: Sanhedrin Court (Jubela); Herod's Court (Jubelo) and lastly, Pilate's court (Jubelum). The total could be rendered: Religious Court (Sanhedrin); Political Court (Herod's Court); and Social, as in social disorder (Pilate's Court). Their instruments could be rendered: Sanhedrin Court: Plumb; Herod's Court: Square; Pilate's Court: Level. On Jesus' back was a scarlet robe, a color of shame (prostitution); on his head a thorny crown (royalty) and on his shoulders a cross (mitre).
The sign above HIS head: Elements (Earth, Wind, Fire and Water).
The cross had four (4) Squares (Basic man; Intellectual Man; Spiritual Man; Resurrected Man).
HIS Blood was for redemption.
HIS water for baptism.
HIS seven (7) words, completion.
HIS death (end of HIS mission).
HIS burial, earthly returning from whence HE came.
HIS first day and night-Law.
HIS second day and night-Prophecy.
HIS third day-Grace.


In reading this, please make time to determine who the ruffians are in your personal life... those that seek to stifle your intellectual & spiritual development.

Turn a negative into a positive!


Fraternally,

Raymond Sean Walters
Twice Raised Freemason


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Is there really a war on the mining industry, or war on the miners by the mining industry itself?

While I have had concerns about actions I have seen taken that affect the mining industry, I have had greater concern about the blatant racism that is so overwhelming in today's coal industry in West Virginia (not that it has ever really left, but it was more bearable for about 30 years).

I have watched how educated, experienced mine applicants like myself are openly discriminated against while jokes are made about the reasoning for the discrimination. Ain't nothing worse than ignorance, and maybe nothing worse than an ignorant bigot.

In addition to the open racism, many of these companies hiring officers would rather hire functional drug addicts that take shortcuts when it comes to safety than hire personnel with excellent safety records who have actual training at what they do in the mining industry (or any other field for that matter).

Since returning to West Virginia in 2008 after 20+ years of working worldwide, I AM often disgusted at what I see around me. And this disgust permeates every aspect of life in this state; from church to work to even the school system that our children are exposed to.

My family has been in West Virginia since the 1850's and many men in my family have worked in the mining industry in the state starting with my 2nd great grandfather Nicholas Walters from Moundsville, West Virginia. I have found myself wondering what adversity did he and other men of color deal with in mining then when there were NO laws against discrimination at all? Though there were no laws against discrimination, certain positions were relegated to men of color, while other positions were often off-limits to those same men.

There is still an element today in mining (and other industries) that strongly feels that a person of color is NOT qualified to manage or supervise, even when that person has been in supervisory positions and has the credentials to boot.

So, while I dislike the often oppressive measures that government has been using towards the mining industry, I AM more concerned with the oppression often heaped at myself and other qualified men of color by those same managers, supervisors and employees that feel that I and my family are not worthy to earn a living from the mining industry because they don't like my eye color, the way I talk, or the vehicle I drive. As if any of those things should matter when it comes to good hiring & business practices???

And for the record, many of these people in the mining industry did NOT vote for President Obama or his environmental policies, they voted for Republicans overwhelmingly. Republicans and wealthy people always work against the interests of the working class person, but these folks in West Virginia would rather vote for someone that will take advantage of them, step on their neck or sit on their chest as opposed to seeing some basic fairness across the board so that everyone can do well.

It is really no wonder why stuff in West Virginia (and America) is so jacked up!!!


Here is a link to the article that caused me to comment this morning:




Raymond Sean Walters

Saturday, January 25, 2014

THE STATIONS OF A MASONIC LODGE From a Biblical Viewpoint by PGM Howard Woods

Greetings again!

Today I wish to share a paper written by PGM Howard Woods of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas. Most likely I will be sharing others from him in the future, as they were often timely... and relevant.

Though Freemasonry is non-sectarian, there is relevance in Masonic ritual to ALL religious faiths in my personal opinion.


Link to the original website and papers written by PGM Howard Woods


THE STATIONS OF A MASONIC LODGE
From a Biblical Viewpoint
In the Lodge, one finds a multitude of members from different walks of life, different religious backgrounds and different levels of Freemasonry. If one is in the Lodge for what he can get out of it physically or monetary, then he misses the true meaning of Freemasonry and what the Bible has to say about it as stated by David, the beloved of God, father of King Solomon, of whom every Master of a Lodge is representative. We call the East the Throne of Solomon. Yet, there is a deeper meaning found in the scriptures. Let us see what we can find and maybe, just maybe, this will give you an appetite for Bible Study as it relates to Freemasonry. In order to find that deeper meaning, one hsa to search the scriptures from Genesis to Revelations and back again, for the promise of a Saviour (Master Mason) is throughout the Holy Bible, if you believe what you find.
In his 133rd Number of Psalms, verse #3, David talks about the "dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion:" It is a very interesting verse and is interpreted as a prophetic statement, even though David was never considered a prophet. Let us, as Prince Hall Masons explore the deeper reasoning behind this whole chapter, and more particular the 3rd verse. To get better understanding, read the whole chapter, for it is the foundation.
The 133rd Psalms is one of fifteen (15) 'Songs of Degrees' that David wrote, and today, in Freemasonry, we associate the fifteen (15) degrees with one of the numerical names of God. They are also associtated with the stairs leading to the middle chamber, consisting of fifteen (15) steps in groups of three (3), five (5) and seven (7), which is explained in exoteric terms already. It is said that the priests (chanters) sung those psalms at the opening of affairs of state as David sat upon his throne. It is good to check out the 119th Psalms and study the numerical worth of the Jewish alphabet.
In writing the psalm (song), David spoke of several things centering on the basis of Freemasonry, brotherhood, as exhorted in his 1st verse, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" That is a very profound statement and as you read your Bible, you will see that the translator used an exclamation point, showing the greatness of such a statement. It does not end with the period of passive conclusion, or a comma denoting more to come. It is to be uttered with authority, with great joy, for that is why we gather in the Lodge, to experience the Joy of Brotherhood!
Looking around (in my mind), David sought something tangible to compare this joy with, and probably considered:
1. Gold: The measure of wealth in any country or clime.
2. Silver: The second standard of wealth and is normally linked to gold.
3. Land: The unchanging wealth, for God has made all He is going to make.
4. Stock: The assets of wealthy men and women, whether Real, Live or personal.
Yet, in David's mind, I would say that none of the above would do in describing the Joy of Brotherhood as supposed to be found in the Masonic Lodge. So, there must be a higher level of comparison. Therefore, let us look upward to He who made all.
Once again, in my own mind, David thought of his own experience of being chosen by God to be His king, and was annointed by Samuel, with the special oil that every prophet carried, along with a vial of wine for medicinal purposes. It was not any old kind of oil or ointment, but that which was sanctified (set aside) for the annointing of things or people in God's program. In Genesis 28: 10-22, we see Jacob, later to be called Israel, consecrating the stone of Bethel after seeing a vision of the ladder. In this chapter, Jacob gives a vow and a prophecy of a cornerstone, for in verse 22, he says that he will give a tenth (tithes) of all that he has; the prophecy comes two-fold, first as a spiritual blessing from God in verse 14 (the number of a boy-child), depicting the coming of a saviour. In verse 22, again, Jacob makes a promise as well as a prophecy, a physical one, when he talks about the "pillow" becoming a "pillar" in God's house. This is one of the predictions that the Saviour (Jesus, the Christ) will be considered a 'cornerstone' in a building of faith, just as the pillar will become a cornerstone in the Temple of God, later to be called the Temple of Solomon.
Moving on, it says that the special ointment is so plentiful, that it runs down upon the beard even Aaron's beard. Aaron was Moses' brother and God's first ordained preacher, with his vestments made by Moses himself. As a Nazarite, Aaron was not supposed to cut any of his hair, so consequently, in order for oill to run down to his beard, it must have been a lot of oil. Then David said that it flowed on down to the hem of his garment. Unlike the rest of the people, Aaron's garment was to his ankles, as not part of his body was to be seen except his face and hands. Still, that was not enough to compare with the Joy of Brotherhood that David wanted to share with us through his psalm.
Then David probably thought of dew-drops, a common enough element, but one that was plentiful and most important to the watering of Israel. Little inconsequental dew-drops that by themselves, couldn't do anything, but by linking together in a spirit of togetherness, a spirit of brotherhood, that same little dew-drop would become an effective element, for there is strength in numbers. In the area of Jerusalem, where did the dew-drops come from that they became so important in describing brotherhood? From the highest mountain in Galilee, Mt. Hermon, as stated in Psalms 133:3, one of the Mountains of Zion.
All the mountains of Israel are called the 'Mountains of Zion' as Zion is another name for Israel, or that Spiritual Land of Heaven, where David said, "I will look to the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord who made Heaven and Earth." But, there were three (3) particular mountains that stood out, and are associated with the stations in a Masonic Lodge, namely, Mt. Zion, Mt. Moriah, and Mt. Olives (Olivet).
Without this Blessing, the Sea of Galilee would not be formed by the streams that fill it. Without this Blessing, the streams would not be formed by the ditches that came from the top of the mountaion. Without these ditches being formed, there would have been no dew-drops falling from above. Without those dew-drops coming together, bonding together as one, a bond of unity, they would have died without making a mark on the world at large. But because David loved the brotherhood that existed in Israel at the time, he showed us the importance of being as brothers should be. And, because the dew-drops came together, ditches were formed; because the ditches came together, streams ran free; because the streams were allowed to flow freely, the Sea of Galilee was formed; because the sea was formed, its overflow of abundance caused the making of the Jordan River. Because the Jordan River flowed, the Dead Sea received the waters from the Jordan, where each dew-drop discovered the "undiscovered country." One may think that the dew-drop, like life, would end and death would be the final answer.
But, thanks be to the Grand Architect of the Universe, He sent down a Blessing upon the Mountains of Zion, and commanded "even life forever more." That Blessing was and is, Jesus the Christ. Therefore, the stations represent the three (3) strongest attributes of a Saviour and a Master Mason: Wisdon, to contrive (Genesis 1:1); Strength to support (Genesis 1:2); Beauty to adorn (Genesis 1:3 See also John 1:1-5).
We are in the seventh (7th) day, a day of rest, a day of refreshment, a Sabbath Day. How much longer it will last, we do not know but, it will end one day, and the eighth day will be upon us. Jesus admonishes up to "pray that your flight will not be in the winter (Low Twelve), neither on the Sabbath Day" (A day of rest) when you are not at labor, but at refreshment. The Junior Warden will sound the gavel one day to return to labor.
Therefore, my brethren, the stations of a Lodge are very representative of our Spiritual Self, our Hiram Abif; Jesus, the Christ, who was born, like we were, lived and worked, as we do; was tried as we are (Often tried, never denied); suffered, as we do (Members not paying dues or cooperating in Lodge's programs) and died as we will and are doing when our Lodges have no programs, no new members, no positive images in our communities and forever criticizing our officers and Grand Officers, or those in authority, kicking or even killing, programs that will benefit all of us. Are you killing Grand Master Hiram Abif?
The three (3) stations, in summary then, are the places where Jesus was tried (Mt. Zion); crucified and buried (Mt. Moriah); and where he prayed (Mt. Olives). The men that stand or sit there, would do well to know who they represent and how and why their stations are immovable jewels. They are the Law, the Prophecy and Grace, by which we will be raised.
But, there is good news on the horizon, for as Jesus was resurrected from an eartly grave, so will Freemasonry be resurrected from the depravation stemming from the lack of support of its members. As Jesus ascended back from whence He came, so shall Freemasonry return to the yesterdays, with old values, but modern attitudes and procedures, with or without those individuals that would dare try to tear it down.

As always I encourage you to read, study and live Freemasonry.


Fraternally,

Raymond Sean Walters
Twice Raised Freemason



Link to the original website and papers written by PGM Howard Woods


Book of Ruth Study (Final Discussion)

Book of Ruth Study- Questions

Final Discussion on Book of Ruth

Opening

1. Of which ancestors are you very proud? Of whom were you embarrassed?

2. What would you like to be famous for?

Questions

1.How is the birth of Obed announced? How is Ruth’s selfless devotion celebrated? What is the point of this unusual birth announcement?

2. Why do you think the story of Ruth concludes with a genealogy of David? Why two such genealogies (vv. 17 and 18-22)?

3. In the ancient Near East, genealogies often served in context to connect two people. For instance, the genealogy in verses 18-22 connects David with Perez, the son of Judah and Tamar, who are also mentioned in verse 12. For David and his descendants, who faced numerous challenges to their right to rule, how would this “famous” connection help to legitimize their claims to royalty (see Genesis 49: 8-12)?

4.How would Moabite history (see Genesis 19: 30-38; Numbers 25: 1-3; Deuteronomy 23: 2-4) affect the Israelites, such as David , who are linked to the Moabites? (vv. 13-17; 1 Samuel 22:3-4)?

5. What would someone reading this artful story of David’s roots have to conclude about the righteousness of Ruth and Boaz?

6. Define “providence”. In this story, what evidence do you see for divine providence superseding: (a) Human ingenuity? (b) Cultural prejudice? (c) Marriage and property laws of that day?

Reflection

1. When have you seen God as your kinsman- redeemer like Boaz?

2. Where have you seen the God of Ruth and Boaz act providentially and redemptive on your behalf? Where have you seen the God of Israel and Moab concern himself equally for any and all people who put their trust in him?

3. Who is the “untouchable” Moabite in your life--- the one whom you keep at arm’s length? How will you bridge the gap between you?

4. How would your association with the “Moabites” of today affect your status with your peers? How would that affect your status with the Lord?

5. Who among your friends and relatives suffers: (a) because of their “suspect” associations (e.g. with modern “Moabites”)? (b) Because of their personal emptiness? What will you and your group do (this week) to demonstrate God’s concern for these people?

6. There are two books in the Bible bearing the title of women’s names. Both experienced successful cross-cultural marriages. Is there a lesson to be told with respect to this activity? If so, what?



Friday, January 24, 2014

Book of Ruth Study (Chapter 4)

Book of Ruth Study- Questions

Chapter 4 Opening Discussion

1. Do you like going barefoot? When? Where?

2. When have you sealed a promise in an unusual way (like being “blood brothers”)?

Chapter 4 Questions

1. From Leviticus 25: 23-43 and Deuteronomy 25: 5-10, what are the Lord’s views on property, poverty, and posterity? Given her tenuous position, how would these laws protect Naomi?

2. What cost is involved for the kinsman- redeemer who follows each of these laws? If a woman marries the kinsman, how much of her property goes to him? How much to her son? How might this account for the unnamed redeemer’s reluctance to marry Ruth (v. 6)?

3. What does it say about Boaz, being willing to take on all the expense and duties, when he will get nothing tangible in return? What ancestor of Boaz was born from the same practice of this kinsman-redeemer law (vv. 12, 18-21); see Genesis 38)? How might having a foreigner for a mother (see Matthew 1: 5), have influenced his choice of a wife?


Chapter 4 Reflection

1. How large a problem are your poor, your hungry, and your homeless? How could the biblical principle of gleaning (salvage or recycling) be applied to your situation?

2. When have you faced great physical need? How did the Lord provide for you? How is your story like Naomi’s and Ruth’s story of how the Lord cares?



Thursday, January 23, 2014

Book of Ruth Study (Chapter 3)

Book of Ruth Study- Questions

Chapter 3 Opening

1. Did you parents ever encourage you to date, or even to marry someone? How did you feel about that?

2. How did (or would) you “pop” the question” (or receive it)?


Chapter 3 Question

1. What instructions does Naomi give to Ruth? (Vv.1-4) What is their goal? In their male-dominated world, how do you account for such boldness?

2. What factors could lead readers to believe a sexual indiscretion took place: (a) Boaz’s hung over condition? (b) The secluded “bed”? (c) Naomi’s instructions? (d) Uncovering Boaz’ “feet” (perhaps a euphemism)? (e) Moabite history (Numbers 25:1)? (f) Current events? (g) Human nature?

3. What factors assure you that, in fact, no sexual encounter took place: (a) “Uncovering Boaz’ feet” was not a sexually forward move, but a way to ensure he’d awake on a cold night? (b) “Spreading the corner of one’s garment” signified a request for marriage and an offer to protect (as in Ezekiel 16:8)?
(c) Ruth’s indisputable moral integrity (v. 11)? (d) The proper deference of Boaz to others, in accord with law of the kinsman-redeemer (v. 13-14)?

4. If found together, who would likely get blamed: Naomi, Ruth, or Boaz (vv.5-6, 14)? Why doesn’t Boaz take advantage of her? Why bless her and consider her proposal (vv. 10-13)?

5. Does this story reflect some kind of romantic love, or a proper sense of duty to an ethical code of conduct? Why?


Chapter 3 Reflection

1. If this love story were made for television, what liberty with the script might the director take to appeal to viewers? How might that obscure the main point? For whom is this story most appealing “as is”?

2. In your circle of friends, what “do’s” and “don’ts” of sexual morality prevail? Which “rules” are the first to be bent or broken?





Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Book of Ruth Study (Chapter 2)

Book of Ruth Study- Questions

Chapter 2 Opening Discussion

1. Have you ever worked on a farm? What was it like?

2. Have you ever been part of a harvest? What was it like?


Chapter 2 Questions

1. What signs of hope do you see as this chapter opens? (vv. 1-3;also 1:22)
As it is harvest time, how long until Naomi and Ruth can grow their own food? In the meantime, how will they meet their most pressing need?

2. What initiatives do Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz and his men take to meet this need? What does that say about the character of the mother-daughter bond? The owner-harvester rapport? The Hebrew- Moabite fear? The man-woman chemistry?

3. What hope is awakened at the close of this chapter? (vv. 20-22) What law about “gleanings” is Boaz heeding? (See Leviticus 19:9-10)
What role does a “kinsman redeemer” play in providing an heir for a brother who had died?(see Deuteronomy 25: 5-10)
In redeeming a relative sold into slavery? (See Leviticus 25:47-49)
Redeeming land sold outside the family? (4:34 see Leviticus 25:25-28)
Or avenging the murder of a relative? (See Numbers 35:19ff, where “avenger” means “kinsman redeemer”)
Which of these regulations directly affect the situation Ruth and Naomi find themselves in?

4. Do you think Naomi dares to hope in any of these provisions?(v. 20)
Or is she still feeling like “Mara”? (1:20-21) How has this change been brought about? What does this reveal about the power of God’s love? What does it reveal about Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz?

5. Given the sad state of Israel- Moab relations (See Genesis 19:30-38; Numbers 25:1-3), what surprising turn of events would the original readers see in this chapter?
How does Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi (vv.11-12, 23), and Boaz’s loyalty to Ruth, defy the historical prejudices of the original readers? How does their loyalty reflect the Lord’s?


Chapter 2 Reflection

1. What mechanisms does your country have for coping with the hungry and the homeless? What is your view of beggars? Of welfare programs?

2. If you suddenly had no means of supporting yourself, do you think your reaction would be like Orpah (and do what was expected of you)? Like Ruth (simple, humbling action)? Or like Naomi (with some bitterness creeping in)? Why?

3. When have you shared Naomi’s experience of God using a Ruth to show his kindness to you(as in vv. 11, 12, 20)? How did this unmerited act of kindness change you?

4. Whom do you know that needs to be reminded that God still loves them? What will you do today to demonstrate such love?



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Book of Ruth Study (Chapter 1)

Book of Ruth Study- Questions

Chapter 1 Opening Discussion

1. What was the economic climate like for the family in which you were raised?

2. When have you felt quite alone in the world, or most cared for? Explain


Chapter 1 Questions

1. What is the climate of the times for Naomi?
    What personal disasters befall her? vv 1-5

2. Without husband or sons, what crisis is Naomi facing (vv 11-13)?
   In a male-dominated, pre-welfare age, how important would male relatives be for widows?

3. What ethnic enmity complicates prospects for her daughters-in-law?
    Why this hatred of the Moabites?
(See Genesis 19:30-38; Numbers 25:1-3; Deuteronomy 23:2-4)

4. Given the social problems facing these widows, why do you think Naomi tells Ruth and Orpah to return to their families?
Orpah returns to her family, while Ruth remains with Naomi; both do so out of loyalty. Which action was most surprising? Most expected? Why?

5. Both Ruth (vv. 16-17) and Naomi (vv20-21) confess God’s sovereign control of events, each in her own way. What truth does each convey of God? Of themselves? Of their success in coping with stress? Which confession do you think would startle the original readers most? Why?

Chapter 1 Reflection

1. Like Ruth, have you ever had to cross over to another ethnic or cultural group? Were you able to assimilate, or did you remain a stranger?

2. What kinds of groups do you feel like a stranger among? (On what basis: Social class? Race? Creed? Politics? Past hurts?)

3. Like Ruth, have you embraced God’s people as your own, forever? (Or have you settled in with a church?)

4. What has been stressful for you this year? Did you cope like Naomi, Orpah, or Ruth? How so?

5. Who in your life is like Ruth, who is loyal to you in your emptiness? How can you be like Ruth to someone else in their desolation?

  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Right To Be a Freemason by Kevin Butterfield

Greetings,

My post today is NOT written by me, it is more of a sharing of an article written by Kevin Butterfield and relates directly to my previous postings.

Though I did expect some complaints and objections, I AM often saddened to read them when they come from a place of ignorance, ignorance being used in the form of "not knowing, or having knowledge of".

What is even more bothersome to me is that those complaints are typically only from mainstream Freemasons who object for any myriad of reasons, and as I have stated previously, double and at times triple standards are used and applied to any written material from me as an individual. 

So be it... but I will not be quiet just because someone who doesn't have the intestinal fortitude to stand up for what is morally correct wants me to be quiet.

I will part for now, allowing those of you who read my blog to read the article written by Kevin Butterfield, who explained the situation very well from a legal perspective... Masonic and civil.






Fraternally,

Raymond Sean Walters
The Twice Raised Freemason

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Lodge Affiliation attempts for 2013

Greetings,


Due to so many recent questions by readers of this blog regarding my recent attempts to affiliate with a lodge, I AM providing a detailed play-by-play on 2013 petitions to affiliate and their status… just for kicks and giggles, since the question has been have I really tried to find a lodge to affiliate with? 

YES, I have tried continuously and will lists my recent attempts.



2013 Lodge Affiliation attempts

March 2013 
MWPHGL of South Carolina – petition VOIDED, I was told I could NOT affiliate with this Grand Lodge by then Grand Master Curtis Mansel, who was replaced by DGM Lewis Nelson by vote at their Grand Lodge proceeding held in December 2013.

[I will remind readers that I chose to attempt to return my membership to Prince Hall Grand Lodge after repeated attempts by mainstream GL's to box me out from affiliating with one of their GL's despite my being a mainstream member. 

I had even previously attempted to return my mainstream membership to Texas (which issued me a demit in May 2005) and to North Carolina (which issued me a demit in September 2005) for purposes of affiliating with a West Virginia lodge]



September 2013 
Grand Lodge of West Virginia – demit, letter of good standing & petition to affiliate submitted to Wheeling Lodge #5 in Wheeling, West Virginia.  

[I later found out that the petition never even was delivered to the lodge secretary, who was expecting the petition & accompanying paperwork to be hand delivered by a member of that lodge I was acquainted with]



September 2013 
Grand Lodge of West Virginia – demit, letter of good standing & petition to affiliate submitted to Weirton Lodge #171 in Weirton, West Virginia. Petition REJECTED October 2013.



October 2013 
Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania – Demit approved by Grand Lodge of PA, petition for affiliation submitted to Richard Vaux Lodge #454 in Burgettstown, PA. Petition has been read to my understanding but no further action as of yet on it. 

[No investigating committee appointed yet as of this date Jan. 11, 2014 with explanation given by lodge secretary that there are NOT enough members to appoint a committee… SMH. I was informed that the WM of this lodge was to contact me, which hasn't happened yet either... really???]



October 2013 
United Grand Lodge of England – Demit approved, letter of good standing issued by GL of North Carolina, petition for affiliation submitted to Internet Lodge of Research #9659. Vote is pending; vote will be taken in March 2014 at next stated communication of lodge.



This post was to simply show that reasonable efforts and attempts have been made by me to stay in accordance with Masonic Regulations regarding lodge affiliation as stated in Mackey’s Jurisprudence of Freemasonry due to such a wide variation of rules with Grand Lodges in the United States regarding affiliation requirements.

So there you have it straight from the horses mouth, or horses ass depending on which end of the horse you are viewing this writing from.





Once again, I always look toward positive outcomes for negative behavior.


Fraternally,

Raymond Sean Walters a/k/a Renaissance Man
Twice Raised Freemason

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Un-affiliated Freemason (part 2) Prince Hall negativity

In my previous post, Un-affiliated Freemason I addressed some negativity experienced from the hands of mainstream Freemasons toward me. To assure you that this isn't just an anomaly, I will share negativity dished out by the hands of Prince Hall Affiliated Freemasons toward me just to keep a balanced perspective in my writings.


As previously mentioned by me in an earlier post, I originally held membership in the Prince Hall Affiliated Grand Lodge system, and the last PHA Grand Lodge I belonged to before joining mainstream Grand Lodge of Texas  in 2001 was the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of South Carolina.


After several years of negativity experienced with my mainstream Masonic membership, in 2011 I decided to explore returning my membership back to Prince Hall Grand Lodge of South Carolina, which was the last place I held PHA membership before joining mainstream GL of Texas.


I decided to petition for reinstatement, was accepted back, issued a dues card by the lodge and later a demit at my request. When I sought to use that demit to affiliate with another lodge in South Carolina, a lodge that then Grand Master Curtis Mansel belonged to, a lot of chaos & commotion ensued by GM Mansel, who after a fictitious investigation determined that I could NOT belong to "his" Grand Lodge after having held mainstream membership.


GM Mansel arrived at his conclusion based on the fact that he claimed he could NOT find any record of me having previously held membership in MWPHGL of SC, though proceedings from 1997, 1998, and 1999 should show me listed as a member (which those proceedings do). 


Because my name appears in those proceedings, what type of investigation could possibly have been done, and how does one preclude a person from membership when one's own GL Constitution doesn't speak on or address the situation in any way, shape or form?


See, a possible issue was this... I had already been initiated, passed & raised in the usual Prince Hall manner and had proof of those events, so that precluded me from needing "healed" to come back to Prince Hall. The worse that could have been done with me was to re-obligate me, which was actually what I reasonably expected to have happen. 


[Remember, I have been given the degrees of Freemasonry twice, once in PHA in 1990 and second in mainstream GL of Texas in 2001. I will NOT ever take another Masonic degree as long as I live as I have been tried, never denied and am always willing to be tried again if necessary.]


That re-obligation never happened, as GM Mansel decided I could NOT hold membership in "his" Grand Lodge, which once again left me in a state of Masonic limbo with this difference... it was from the hands of a Prince Hall Freemason who simply had an issue for personal reasons, not that I had committed any masonic offense, had never been suspended nor expelled. It was personal, and that was it!


His personal dislike of many persons led him to suspend numerous members of his own lodge, eventually arresting the charter of that lodge and suspending others holding position in Prince Hall Grand Lodge of SC.


At this point the rest is history, GM Mansel showed himself to be a tyrant lacking leadership capability, and in a true system of checks & balances was voted out by the membership of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of SC in December 2013.


As stated earlier in this writing, his actions left me in Masonic limbo again. I just have the gift, or curse on drawing controversy or pointing out fallacy...SMH!


All of these events show that it takes each individual, coming together with other individual members to effect positive changes in the best interest of any organization, especially Freemasonry, where the vote or opinion of an individual does matter, and carries weight.


Once again, I pray that my sharing serves as useful information to someone and that lessons learned can be applied.


Fraternally,


Raymond Sean Walters a/k/a Renaissance Man
The Twice-Raised Freemason




An Un-Affiliated Freemason


8. And, Lastly, as the non-affiliation is a violation of Masonic law, he may, if he refuses to abandon that condition, be tried and punished for it ,even by expulsion, if deemed necessary and expedient, by any Grand Lodge within whose Jurisdiction he lives.
A Textbook of Masonic Jurisprudence ~ Albert G. Mackey



The only issue I have with this is in cases where an un-affiliated Freemason has been refused the ability to affiliate with any lodge in a given jurisdiction that he may reside because of an un-official official rule that prevents his affiliation based on opinions and views contrary to Masonic principles and possibly Moral Law that ALL Freemasons are obliged to obey (except in America). 


American Freemasonry has been a study in hypocrisy it's entire history... partially due to its inherent racism/elitism/class-ism that is practiced by the minority in control of the country and the so-called "Regular" grand Lodges that practice a doctrine called Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction that isn't recognized anywhere else. 


My question is what redress is available to any individual Master mason whose rights & privileges are so blatantly violated in such a manner? 


Who does that MM turn to for his grievance to be heard? 


I AM the MM I comment about, and for 8 years I have resided in the State of West Virginia, and my MM rights have been continuously violated by the GL of West Virginia even though I held membership in a "Regular" lodge/ GL that West Virginia is in amity with. 


Grand Lodge of West Virginia refuses to recognize Prince Hall Grand Lodge of West Virginia or any Black man's right to hold Masonic membership and that is their prerogative... the only problem with that view is this; I AM a "Regular" Freemason, having held membership in a "Regular" Grand Lodge who took a demit for the purpose of affiliating in my new state of residence (and issued a certificate of Good Standing by last Grand Lodge), and affiliating is something I have been denied openly, and blatantly in opposition to the rules of Freemasonry. 


There was a discussion to bring Masonic charges against me, but in doing that it would be an acknowledgement of myself, a Black man, of being recognized and considered a "Regular" Freemason, something that someone decided wasn't in the best interest of Grand Lodge of West Virginia's un-offical policy of official racism that is still practiced in their jurisdiction. 


So, while I wait in limbo for a vote in UGLE to affiliate with a lodge in their jurisdiction, I AM still prevented from being able to congregate wherever "Regular" Freemasons are present due to my current status of un-affiliated which is NOT of my own doing or choice. 

And if I must be tried, as the situation with PGM Frank Haas showed, I will most assuredly NOT receive a fair hearing by the Grand Lodge of West Virginia who expelled PGM Haas without a proper trial, and has exerted pressure on other Grand Lodges to do what West Virginia wants even though West Virginia wants NO interference or good counsel from other Grand Lodges.


I decided to post this for your contemplation...


Fraternally,

Raymond Sean Walters a/k/a Renaissance Man
The Twice Raised Freemason