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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

An Ailment of Prince Hall Freemasonry

Greetings!


I will start out by stating that though the title of this article is "An Ailment of Prince Hall Freemasonry", it may contain elements that would be applicable across the board to Freemasonry in general.


In fact, I will attach an additional link to an article written by Bro. Fred Milliken titled "Mainstream Masonry must Police Itself" in the interest of keeping balance to this article. 

The original article appears on Freemason Information, A Web Magazine About Freemasonry and is dated December 23, 2014



Over the years, I have often been asked, or asked by others, "where are the intelligent people?"

I have had many years to give thought to that question. After reading an untold number of books on varying subjects I have arrived at some conclusions in general, and in how this question relates to the Black community at large in America.


My conclusions, which also parallel those of some learned sociologists and psychologists are as follows:

Intelligent people can be found in 

1) Prison 

2) On drugs 

3) Dead


One thing I have learned in my 46 years as a Black man living in America is that education does not guarantee freedom. There are a number of things working against an intelligent person with an education. Social constructs and built-in aristocracies work against intelligence, and those with an education.


I will touch upon the 5 Black Aristocracies that work against the Black community in general, either by design or unknowing complicity. I will allow the reader to arrive at their own conclusions as to which.


Those aristocracies are as follows:

Religion

Higher Education

Economic (rich Blacks are not free)

Media

Negro's with Titles


This link connects to a video from which information was pulled for this article


I can now get to the meat of my intended writing. For those of you who pay attention, my comments up to this point may make some sense in how they relate to Prince Hall Freemasonry because these things all relate to the Black community in general, and the conduct of those who make up that community.


RELIGION
Since slavery, Religion has been used to keep slaves under control and pacified by belief fostered in a deity that reportedly indicated that slaves were to obey their earthly masters...

That same school of religious thought is still used today with the same goals and end results. Those goals are to keep a people intellectually, mentally and spiritually oppressed.


HIGHER EDUCATION
Higher education has been used to thwart the betterment of Blacks in this manner. Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois had two different approaches on how best to teach, train and educate Blacks.

Washington's approach taught Blacks to learn skills that could be considered blue-collar, while DuBois encouraged intellectual development as a primary means.

While I can appreciate both models, I understand Washington's approach as more needed initially as someone had to be able to physically build the apparatus needed to gain self-sufficiency for Blacks to have their own. This is imperative for any group of people.

In today's world, Blacks in higher education typically are not of benefit to Black students as they help further an agenda that seeks to NOT educate Black students.


ECONOMIC
If any group of people do NOT control their dollars, they have NO control over their community. There are a number of examples of Black communities doing well, and subsequently destroyed by neighboring whites because they were doing better than white folks. 

Please reference Tulsa, Oklahoma or Rosewood, Florida as two examples of what I speak of.


MEDIA
Public perception can work for you, or against you. Refer back to my previous comment about controlling ones dollars.


NEGRO'S WITH TITLES
This of course is my favorite area to discuss. As a descendant of free Blacks who have played a role in the betterment of the Black community as well as the education of the Black community, I have been provided clear examples of effective methods, and methods that would be better left to the rubbish pile. My ancestors were also instrumental in starting schools that educated Black children, churches for Blacks to worship in and Prince Hall Masonic lodges for Black men to meet in.

I have observed numerous instances of people who only seek titles being resentful of intelligence, fearful of education, envious of others gifts, talents and skills, and very capable of putting together a smear campaign questioning ones suitability when they are really making the case on why they themselves are unsuited for a position or title.


One of my greatest pet-peeves has been those seeking titles or honors but have not placed themselves in a proper position to even be considered. There is an old saying that states, "show me who your friends are, and you show the world who you are". I have found so much truth to that, and frankly, it has been something that greatly annoyed me about the Prince Hall side of Freemasonry, and now irritates me about Freemasonry in general.

I have come to understand that people are people, no matter what race, ethnicity or eye color they may have... we are all people! That is what will make this article relevant to all people, though it was written from a specific perspective.

Once again, I will suggest that one gain what they can from my thoughts, use what you can, and make the world around you better in some way.


Fraternally,

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

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

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Thought on Blacks & Fraternalism




(Photo courtesy of W. Bro. Anthony Mongelli)






Greetings!


I was asked my thoughts recently on several topics. I AM recapping the conversation, and various points discussed and/or made in the conversation by myself.



We started with the state of the Black community in America:


The Black community has lost its way for the same reason our fraternal organizations, churches, schools and communities have lost theirs.


Systemic racism is only a part of the problem. Integration was a planned way to keep Blacks oppressed by convincing us we had overcome by now being able to spend our hard earned dollars at white-owned establishments, instead of the Black-owned community based businesses that were of benefit to our own communities starting after slavery ended until 1964... the same situation across the board with schools, churches, and professional services of varying kinds.


A large difference today is that it is more difficult to get started in any business through normal or conventional means available to white borrowers that will approach any lending institution. Black-owned banks are a fraction of what they used to be, and government sponsored lending programs are suspect in that the administrators chosen often use the same discriminatory practices that made the agency they administrate necessary. Isn't that something?


What a difference 35-40 years can make, as I came from a family of hard-working entrepreneurs that held down full time positions in addition to the small businesses owned by the family. The family was involved in most aspects of the Black community to include schools, churches, fraternal organizations and other matters that specifically affected Blacks and their well-being.


Though I AM now a middle aged person, I can still remember when there were Black-owned businesses in my region where I was raised in Ohio/West Virginia and the fact that we as a people genuinely cared about each other.




The Masonic divide has multiple elements to it from what I have observed:


1) An internal Black-on-Black crime aspect that entails separation along social & economic class discrimination perpetrated by Blacks themselves against other Blacks of a lower socio-economic standing, and at times discrimination based on skin color in addition to the aforementioned items. This separation partially created the current dilemma of self-started bogus organizations calling themselves Masonic, even when they knowingly do not meet the commonly accepted definition according to accepted Masonic principles.


2) The other factor in the Masonic divide is domination over an instrument (Freemasonry) used to elevate one's social standing in society, which is often why white Freemasons in America have been so antagonistic toward Prince Hall Freemasonry in general, and against Black men holding and being recognized for their Masonic membership. Despite Freemasonry and its principle emphasizing the "equality" of all Freemasons, during colonial times there was an element of aristocracy to Masonic membership just as there is even today. Just my take on that matter.


I have recently had discussions with several Freemasons in West Virginia, a state in which the two regular Grand Lodges do not recognize each other, and appear to hold the same amounts of contempt for each others existence. The anomaly is this; the reasons they cannot stand each other differ on several points which would cause bringing any of them to a table together most difficult.

I have been able to speak with Prince Hall Affiliated members and mainstream members. I must say that the conversations are always interesting, and I once again see that intolerance continues for reasons that don't make sense to anyone but the person holding the intolerant view. Some of these intolerant views are held against me by both parties.

PHA members often cannot stand me because I hold mainstream membership, while mainstream members cannot stand me because I AM Black and hold mainstream membership that they refuse to recognize because I AM Black... someone help me out here LOL!

To say that there has been friction between myself and PHA/ mainstream members in West Virginia may be an understatement. I simply detest discriminatory, exclusionary and second-rate practices that have NO place in a civilized society.

Intolerance has long perpetuated a divide between people in general, let alone Freemasons and other fraternal groups. My question is to what end will these questionable practices continue?

Our moral responsibility alone demands that we treat our fellow humans better than many of us often do, yet we often allow social pressure from others to cloud our own critical thinking and conduct.


So, once again I don't have answers, or even solutions but I do hope I have given the reader some things to ponder. Perhaps one of you may offer an answer or solution. I'll be waiting to hear from you.



Fraternally,


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







I have included links to the following articles that contributed to this writing.

References:


















Wednesday, December 03, 2014

GOLDEN SENTENCES




GOLDEN SENTENCES
(shared from Phoenixmasonry.org)



THE CRAFTSMAN - 1866 
From an address by De Witt Clinton, before Holland Lodge, the evening of his installation, Dec. 24, 1793 


HIS DEFINITION OF FREEMASONRY

It is well known that our Order was at first composed of scientific and ingenious men who assembled to improve the arts and sciences, and cultivate a pure and sublime system of morality. Knowledge at that time, was restricted to a chosen few; but when the invention of printing had opened the means of instruction to all ranks of people, then the generous cultivators of Masonry communicated with cheerfulness to the world those secrets of the arts and sciences which had been transmitted and improved from the foundation of the institutions then our Fraternity bent their principal attention to the cultivation of morality. And Masonry may now be defined as a moral institution, intended to promote individual and social happiness.

THE EQUALITY OF MASONRY
Our institution asserts, in language not to be misunderstood, the natural equality of mankind. It declares that all brethren are upon a level, and it throws open its hospitable doors to all men of all nations. It admits of no rank, except the priority of merit, and its only aristocracy is the nobility of virtue.

THE ONEROUS CARES OF THE MASTER

Sensible I am that neither my age, experience nor abilities entitle me to fill this place. Sensible I am that it is surrounded with difficulties and 
embarrassments; that it requires promptitude of expression, quickness of thought and presence of mind, and that it demands conciliatory manners and instantaneous perception of character, and a considerable knowledge of mankind.

THE BENEFICENT WORK OF MASONRY

How often has it showered down its golden gifts into the
seemingly inaccessible dungeons of misery! How often has it radiated with its beneficent rays the glooms of affliction, and converted its horrors of despair into the meridian splendor of unexpected joy! How often has it, with its philanthropic voice, recalled the unhappy wanderer into the paths of felicity, and with its powerful arm, protected from the grasp of malice and oppression the forlorn outcast of society! Let the widow, the orphan, the prisoner, the debtor, the unfortunate, witness its beneficent deeds, and in a symphony of gratitude, declare that on the flight of all the other virtues, charity as well as hope remained to bless mankind.

THE DUTIES OF A MASON TO HIS BROTHER

A Mason is bound to consult the happiness and to promote the interests of his brother; to avoid everything offensive to his feelings; to abstain from reproach censure and unjust suspicions; to warn him of tie machinations of his enemies; to advise him of his errors; to advance the welfare and reputation of his family; to protect the chastity of his house; to defend his life, his property, and what is dearer to a roan of honor, his character, against unjust attacks; to relieve his wants and his distress; to instill into his mind proper ideas of conduct in the department of life which he is called to fill; and, let me add, to foster his schemes of interest and promotion, if compatible with the paramount duties a man owes to the community. If such are the obligations which a man owes to brother, they are precisely the duties that one freemason ought to perform to another. Our Order enjoins them as rules from which nothing can justify a deviation, and considers their infraction a violation of honor; conscience and religion; a prostitution of all that is deemed sacred and venerable among men. But Masonry does not confine the benignity of her precepts to her followers; she rises higher in the scale of excellence, and enjoins the observance of honor, honesty and good faith to all men; she espouses the cause of universal benevolence and virtue; she declares as unworthy of her patronage those who violate the laws of rectitude, and her votaries exemplify in their lives the truth of the remark that, although there are vicious men in the fraternity, yet they are better, than if they were not Masons.

THE RELIGION OF MASONRY

As Christian Masons, acknowledging the divinity of Christ, we have introduced the Bible into our Lodges, to manifest our belief in the doctrines which it inculcates. In like manner the followers of Moses, Mahomet and Burmah may introduce into their Masonic assemblies their Pentateuch, their Alcoran, and their Vedan; and yet the unity of Masonry would remain - the essential principles on which she moves would be the same; she would still declare to her votaries, I regard not to what sect you attach yourselves; venerate the popular religion of your respective countries; follow the light of your understanding; forget not, however, the doctrines of the religion of nature; adore the Great Architect of the Universe, acknowledge the immortal soul, and look forward to a state of future retribution when the virtuous of all religions and countries hall meet together, and enjoy never fading bliss.