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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

Something to Ponder

"No man can remain a genuine Freemason who holds truth lightly or chooses to remain in ignorance. The liar and the ignoramus may somehow get into Freemasonry, but no Freemasonry can get into them." Bro. William Preston

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
+1 253-484-2634 Efax (incoming)