Sunday, December 6, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
In facilitating a recent discussion on Pike's Morals and Dogma vs. Morals and Dogma for the 21st Century, I mentioned that Pike was very intentional in his writings - choosing specific words to convey a specific meaning and tone. Take the title of the the 8th Degree - Intendant of the Building.
Intendant: a political position first developed by Cardinal Richelieu during the reign of French King Louis XIII. Under Louis XIV, the intendant became the most important means for centralizing royal authority. The intendant was usually a non-noble, so his power and position were directly dependent on the favor of the king. He was granted full power over finance, justice and police. He could try cases, unseat judges, collect taxes and regulate local municipal governments among other powers.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
- Disappointment, the intruder who leaves a famine in our soul.
- Discontent, the thief who robs us of all peace.
- Dissension, the leader of hatred who poisons our joy.
- Distrust, the most dangerous enemy of all, who incites paralyzing fear of what the morrow might bring.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
The 16th Degree considers relationships in terms of the way we treat the people over whom we have power – suggesting mercy and generosity. The lessons council that there may be a time when we need to restrain ourselves and be patient, temporarily resigning our own interests for another’s advantage. This strategy of patience and restraint is the hallmark of the Asian business model.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Bruce Tulgan’s Not Everyone Gets a Trophy: How to Manage Generation Y is an important guide for understanding what drives and defines this “high-maintenance” generation. It examines the myths about this often misunderstood group of young men (and women), all whilst offering practical guidance on harnessing and redirecting Gen Y’s creativity and intellect without having to completely re-work Masonry’s unique culture. Just kidding … sort of.
While the focus of the book is on managing and leading Gen Y in the workplace, much like Robert D. Putnam’s Bowling Alone, there is an incredible wealth of information available in this easy-to-read volume, much of which can be applied to the Craft.
Starting with Gen Y’s roll as a potential member your Lodge, Tulgan notes that Gen Y is the most “work-life balance” focused generation. (The lessons of the lecture on the 24 inch gauge will ring especially true to Gen Y.) As such, the questions in their minds whilst being interviewed for potential membership are not about whether they will fit into your Lodge, but whether and how Masonry will fit into their lives and busy schedules.
Every Mason can remember his first visit to Lodge. The same things that were on your mind then are going through a Gen Y candidate’s mind now. “Where am I? What is this place? What is going on here? … Who are all these people? What role does each person play? How are they accustomed to doing things around here? … Why am I here? What is at stake for me? (Kindle Loc. 1286-93)” The answers today are the much the same as when you were their age, they are just packaged in different terms. This book helps you to speak their language.
There is a polular belief among the older generations that Gen Y arrives expecting the top job from day one (Tulgan’s myth number four). According to Tulgan, this represents not overconfidence, but simply the passionate propensity of Gen Y to take on the unclaimed, uncharted, or undiscovered as the quickest way to gain respect and to be taken seriously. This overconfidence, however, can get Gen Y into trouble in the Lodge Room. Tulgan notes that leaders need to institute a proactive, consistent, and continual mentoring relationship to ensure that these new Entered Apprentices work well with their new Lodge brothers. Remember the lesson of the 4th Degree of the Scottish Rite, "may one command who does not know how to obey?" This teaching the young Mason how to be a proper follower includes spelling out desired behaviors, norms, and communication styles, including the venerable “Masonic Tradition." “You cannot—and should not—teach them what to believe, but you can certainly teach them how to behave. ... [I]t is certainly your place to teach them how to be good citizens within your organization. (Kindle Loc. 1589-61).”
Another dominant Gen Y stereotype that the author seeks to dispel is the belief that Gen Y is generally disloyal or disinclined towards staying in one place for too long. The author counters this myth by describing a new brand of loyalty, one he calls “transactional loyalty.” Unlike the previous generations who were trained to accept the chain of command and long-range rewards, Gen Y’s transactional loyalty is based on optimising their unique needs and wants, which often includes their need to continuously learn from and glean as much as they can from each new encounter. Like the lessons illustrated in 19th Degree, they are very much interested in building bridges to the future. This passion can be harnessed, focussed towards common goals.
Masters who follow “traditional” management approaches might completely misinterpret Gen Y’s attitudes and behaviors and miss the real value of this generation as key contributors to our country’s Lodges. This book illuminates Gen Y’s many gifts in the Lodgeroom and lays out a outstanding approach to help Masters and Wardens update their leadership styles.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
With the solid foundation of instruction gained in the Craft Lodge, the Master Mason begins his journey in the Scottish Rite with the Lodge of Perfection.
Many themes are utilized in conferring the lessons of the degrees of this Lodge including, an enlightened citizenry (4°-6°), an independent judiciary (7°), an economic order based on capital and labor (8°), the upper house of the legislature (9°), the lower house of the legislature (10°), trial by jury (11°), the chief executive (12°), and a constitution or fundamental set of laws (13°).
The lessons are set against the historical backdrop of the Old Testament; the building of King Solomon’s Temple and the Babylonian captivity.
The Lodge of Perfection begins with the 4th degree and asks the question that strikes at the heart of the leader/follower relationship, “may one command who does not know how to obey?”
Any study of leadership should wisely consider what it means to follow. In the Scottish Rite, a candidate learns first to practice obedience, silence, and fidelity as fit attributes for a follower. The type of followers that the Scottish Rite seeks are participants, actively engaged in the process and in support of the aims of the organization ...
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I wanted to share this paper that I wrote in criticism of a book called Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership – Casting Light or Shadow by C. Johnson for a class in leadership ethics. I think it makes some important distinctions between altruism and benevolence in light of current events.
“Advocates of altruism argue that love of neighbor is the ultimate ethical standard. … Our actions should be designed to help others whatever the personal cost (Johnson, Pg. 153).”
“It is obvious – historically, philosophically, and psychologically – that altruism is an inexhaustible source of rationalizations for the most evil motives, the most inhuman actions, the most loathsome emotions. It is not difficult to grasp the meaning of the tenet that the good is the object of sacrifice – and to understand what a blanket damnation of anything living is represented by an undefined accusation of ‘selfishness’ (Rand, Pg. 163).”
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term altruism was introduced by the 19th century philosopher, Auguste Comte. By altruism, Comte meant that sense of sacrifice to society or taking the good of others as the highest good. In today’s society, most – lacking an education in philosophy and taking the publics’ word on the subject - take the term to mean a basic decency or generosity. The author seems to split the difference, whilst acknowledging Comte’s original meaning.
Unfortunately for the author, altruism is not the foundation of good will towards others. Altruism is incompatible with good will and love – and freedom. Freedom, at is most basic form, is the power to act without intimidation by others. Altruism requires the sacrifice of the individual to the collective. It is this requirement that makes altruism antithetical to freedom and removes it from any credible list of virtues.
Furthermore, the author uses the word “selfish” to describe the regard for one’s own welfare to the disregard of the well-being of others. This is a rather sinister twist on the original definition and shows the author’s bias and political view point. Pure “selfishness” is simply the concern for one’s own interests. The author seems to suggest that right acts are those taken to benefit others and wrong acts are performed to one’s own benefit (Rand, 1970).
Contrary to the author’s assertions that altruism is good for people, businesses and society in general, “altruism permits no concept of a self-respecting, self-supporting man—a man who supports his own life by his own effort and neither sacrifices himself nor others … it permits no concept of benevolent co-existence among men … it permits no concept of justice (Rand, ix).”
With all of this in mind, is there an alternative to altruism? Is there a cooperative method of dealing with people and businesses – one that benefits both parties whilst respecting their rights and differences? Certainly – it’s called benevolence.
Contrary to the view of the creators and editors of Wikipedia, benevolence and altruism are not synonyms. Unlike altruism, benevolence is completely compatible with freedom. Benevolence is a commitment to achieving the values derivable from life with other people in society, by treating them as potential trading partners, recognizing their humanity, independence and individuality, and the harmony between their interests and ours. Benevolence is thus clearly rationally selfish. It is not a sacrifice of one’s interests to those of others. Rather it reaffirms a positive view of human beings and recognizes the potential of humans (Kelley, 2003).
Of the many charitable groups that exist in the world, one can be singled out as purely benevolent – the Freemasons. Around the world, Masons give away over one million US dollars per day to various charitable causes, and each body within Masonry has it’s own cause. The Blue Lodge (the first 3 degrees of Masonry) supports the local public schools with donations of time and money. The York Rite offers free eye care to needy children and young adults. The Scottish Rite offers free speech pathology services to children. The Shrine Hospitals offer a multitude of free services in the communities that they serve. These are but a few examples. Local Masons also run the Midnight Mission, a downtown Los Angeles homeless shelter and service center.
At the core of each Masonic charitable enterprise, you will find the benevolent attitude of the individual contributing Mason – giving a portion of his wages as an investment in his community’s (and country’s) future. Each charity supports a central theme, supporting those in need with dignity and respect to both the donor and the recipient. The donor is free to give or not give. The recipient is free to receive or not receive – they have but to ask.
As a Mason, I have a certain sense of pride that the money and time that I give to the various charities I and my Lodge support goes to help people increase their capacity to live a free and independent life. The gift of sight to a nearly blind child (York Rite), the gift of language to a budding learner (Scottish Rite), the gift of freedom of movement to a crippled child (Shrine), and the gift of a free thinking mind (Blue Lodge) are all worthy investments. I agree with Steve O. (a classmate) when he said that if only the [altruists] would get out of our way financially (over-taxation), we would have more to give to worthy charities.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
In the previous lessons, the candidate was counseled to lead and teach by example. Here he is taught to learn by observation and reflection. Temperance is also advised in setting goals; aiming for the best, but being content with the best possible. This lesson is featured as “Rule #44” in Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior, “When a man does all he can, though it succeed not well, blame not him that did it.”
Monday, August 24, 2009
I was thinking about the economy and people in need. With all the talk about uninsured people, I was thinking about Masonic charities and how they continue to deliver quality care without fee to the recipient - all without the help of government. In particular, I was thinking about the Scottish Rite's Language Centers that help children with speech problems. As my 20 month old son says, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy," I can't imagine being a parent of a child who can't say "Daddy" or "Momma." It would just break my heart. Seeing the looks on the parents faces, having sent their kids though our program in Pasadena, makes my donations of time and money worth every cent.
In the 8th degree, the candidate learns that the progress of civilization and organizations is based upon the transmission of knowledge to subsequent generations. It is education that binds generations together. Without a commitment to education, no society or company can endure.
Question for reflection: What role does the use of language play in the transmission of knowledge? Can knowledge be transmitted without language?
Sunday, June 21, 2009
In these challenging economic times, people are looking everywhere for answers to the troubles that lie before them. Many, who are recently unemployed, are finding that employment in their previous vocation is no longer possible. When faced with such a situation, what is a man to do?
The 25th degree challenges the notion of the static self. It shows the candidate how it is often necessary to start fresh, to re-create or reform one’s self in order to fulfill one’s destiny. Are you “the same person” that you were when you became a Mason? How have you grown and changed since then? What lessons have you learned?
When facing tough choices, get back to basics. Remember the valuable lessons of the 25th Degree. These lessons can be the light that illuminates your path.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Here are the unedited opening paragraphs for my upcoming book, Degrees of Leadership. I'll be posting snippets as the weeks progress and we draw closer to the publication date.
Degrees of Leadership
It started simply enough; he wanted to become a Mason so he asked a Mason about joining the Lodge. He’d seen the movies; the Man Who Would Be King, the Di Vinci Code, and the National Treasure were among his personal favorites. As much as he’d researched the Craft and its symbols, he really had no idea what he was in for on his initiation day.
He stood on the street corner in a busy part of town. The Mason who had come to his house to question him about his motives for joining left him with the top half of a playing card. He said to be at a particular street corner on a certain day and time. Another Mason was to meet him there and present the bottom half of the card. “Follow the man and do as you are told” was all the instruction that he received.
At the appointed hour, almost as if by clockwork, the man with the card’s bottom half appeared. “Follow me” was all he said. That was how the adventure began.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
When is a man a Mason?
When he can look out over the rivers, the hills, and the far horizon with a profound sense of his own littleness in the vast scheme of things, and yet have faith, hope, and courage -- which is the root of every virtue.
When he knows that down in his heart every man is as noble, as vile, as divine, as diabolic, and as lonely as himself, and seeks to know, to forgive, and to love his fellowman.
When he knows how to sympathize with men in their sorrows, yea, even in their sins - knowing that each man fights a hard fight against many odds.
When he has learned how to make friends and to keep them, and above all how to keep friends with himself.
When he loves flowers, can hunt birds without a gun, and feels the thrill of an old forgotten joy when he hears the laugh of a little child.
When he can be happy and high-minded amid the meaner drudgeries of life.
When star-crowned trees and the glint of sunlight on flowing waters subdue him like the thought of one much loved and long dead.
When no voice of distress reaches his ears in vain, and no hand seeks his aid without response.
When he finds good in every faith that helps any man to lay hold of divine things and sees majestic meanings in life, whatever the name of that faith may be.
When he can look into a wayside puddle and see something beyond mud, and into the face of the most forlorn fellow mortal and see something beyond sin.
When he knows how to pray, how to love, how to hope.
When he has kept faith with himself, with his fellowman, and with his God; in his hand a sword for evil, in his heart a bit of a song -- glad to live, but not afraid to die!
Such a man has found the only real secret of Masonry, and the one which it is trying to give to all the world.
Monday, March 9, 2009
I’d like to offer my thanks to our Venerable Master for asking me to start off this series tonight. This series of educational talks is all about putting a little bit of the classroom into the Stated Meeting. As the Classroom Director, I am certainly happy to help out. I promise to keep it short. I further promise that you’ll be left with a lot to contemplate.
Being a part of the Rose Croix line of officers, I wanted to stay within the degrees of the Chapter. Tonight, I’ll focus on the 15th degree as I think it has much to say about the situation that we find ourselves in … both in Masonry and in general society.
As we do not perform the 15th degree here, and many will not have seen the degree in action, I’d like to briefly describe for you some of the key symbols of the degree.
The hat, cordon, gloves, and apron all predominantly feature the colour green. Green represents the immortality of the soul – and even the immortality of Masonry itself. In the centre of the apron are three nested gold triangles, made from chains with triangular links and said to represent the chains on the human intellect – tyranny, superstition, and privilege. The jewel of the degree is made from three nested triangles of gold – symbolizing liberty, equality and fraternity; and also law, order, and subordination. Inside the triangles are two crossed swords, points up, resting on the innermost triangle – representing truth and justice.
The candidate is received in this degree as Zerubbabel – a name that should be familiar to us all.
Thus the 15th degree opens, as does the Chapter of Rose Croix. The people of Israel have been seemingly abandoned by God and are living in captivity under the Babylonian king Cyrus.
This degree teaches that the destruction of the temple and the long captivity in Babylon were due in large part to the people’s worship of lesser gods. Pike illuminates on this, not by listing the gods themselves, but by listing the obstacles to the success of Masonry. I’d like to think that they are one and the same - Apathy, Faithlessness, and Indifference.
Regardless of your religion, do your scriptures teach you to be lukewarm? Do they preach a doctrine of carelessness? Do they say to be indifferent to the cares and concerns of your fellowman? Hardly.
According to Pike, Fidelity to our obligations, Constancy and Perseverance under difficulties and discouragements are the leading lessons of this degree.
“He who endeavors to serve, to benefit, and to improve the world, is like a swimmer, who struggles against a rapid current, in a river lashed into angry waves by the winds. Often they roar over his head, often they beat him back and baffle him. Most yield to the stress of the current, and float with it to the shore, or are swept over the rapids; and only here are there the stout, strong heart and vigorous arms struggle on toward ultimate success.”
Pike goes on to say that
“… the only true question for us to ask, as true men and Masons, is, what does duty require; and not what will be the result and reward if we do our work.”
Nehemiah 4:17-18 says, “… work with sword in hand.” Pike adds to this to say “… work with the sword in one hand and the trowel in the other.”
Faithlessness can drain the life out of you. Watch the news. Read a paper. You may begin to believe the lies that are being sold to you. Masonry teaches that God formed man’s eternal soul for a purpose. It teaches that all of the events and actions of the world are part of God’s plan.
In the First Degree, each candidate is asked a simple question, in Whom do you put your trust? What was your answer?
Your trust being in God, you rose and were instructed to fear not what man could do unto you.
What do you have to fear now?
As leaders of men, it’s up to us to demonstrate the teachings of this degree in our daily lives. It means that we are not apathetic, indifferent, or lacking in faith. If anything, these troubling times should cause us to count our blessings.
To Masons, Zerubbabel is the type of leader who is worthy of emulation. According to our Illustrious Bro. Rex Hutchens, he “perseveres, encourages the disheartened, cheers the timid, incites the indolent, forces the apathetic and reluctant, and has incorruptible fidelity to honor and duty.”
Masonry can thus be seen as a roadmap out of the current troubles we; Masonry, and our country may find ourselves in.
Fidelity to our obligations:
• Pay our bills on time
• Only take on the obligations that you can realistically support
• Don’t over extend yourself
• Let your yes be yes and your no be no
• Be the stability, the rock that your family needs
• Let your faith be steadfast
• Don’t give up – don’t give in
• Calmly bear the difficulties of life without complaint
• Commitment, hard work, patience, and endurance will see us through this mess that we find ourselves in
This degree begins the construction of the Second Temple out of the ruins of the first. The reconstruction symbolizes the restitution of truth. It also symbolizes liberty and the “state of peace and toleration that will make the earth a fit place to dwell.”
We all stood and took the obligation of this degree. In these troublesome times, can we not become more like Zerubbabel and zealously assist in making our Temple a fit place to dwell?
Thank you, and may God bless and keep you all.