Friday, November 20, 2009

Intendant of the Building


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.

Pike says in Morals and Dogma, "In this Degree you have been taught the important lesson, that none are entitled to advance in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, who have not by study and application made themselves familiar with Masonic learning and jurisprudence. ... How far you advance, depends upon yourself alone."

So, what does this opening statement have to do with the title of the degree? Tons.

With 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. Masonry illustrates this commitment through the work of its members in guiding the candidate’s journey thru the degrees and beyond.

As the candidate becomes a Master of the Royal Secret, and is thus made a full member of the Valley and of Scottish Rite Masonry, it is his responsibility to know his responsibilities - to become familiar with Masonic learning and jurisprudence. The same is true in any business. A new hire must quickly become familiar with the organization's culture, customs, rules, and norms.

Many companies have introductory sessions for new hires, employee handbooks, mentors, or other ways to assure that knowledge is passed from one generation of employee to the next. Masonry is no different. The employee who familiarizes himself with this new information the quickest - and who can use this new information to his advantage - will easily find opportunities to excel and promote. As Pike says, "How far you advance, depends on yourself alone."

As an Intendant, you should have the full knowledge of the lessons, traditions, and codes that make up Masonry (or your business) in order properly wield the power to which you have been entrusted. Remember, "how far you advance, depends upon yourself alone."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In whom do you put your trust?


I came across an old book whilst searching through Google's book site. It's called The Triumph over Midian by A.L.O.E. - 1894.

In the preface to the story, the author makes an interesting comment, "A humble task has been mine; that of endeavouring to show that the same faith by which heroes of old out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to fight the armies of the aliens, is still, as the gift of God's grace, bestowed upon the lowliest Christian." [ital. from the original]

It reminded me of the comment made during the first degree when the Wor. Master asks the aspirant, "in whom do you put your trust?" Over 100 years ago, the author's comment mirror's the Wor. Master's response to the aspirant's answer.

It made me think about current literature. Who are our heroes? What values do they demonstrate? Do we see these types of morality plays in modern literature?

As part of a commentary on the book (beautifully reprinted by Lamplighter Publishing), I found the following passage:

The Midianites of the heart, wreak havoc in our lives.
  • 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.
Similar in theme is the 6th Degree in the Scottish Rite - the Intimate Secretary. The 6th degree examines duty and conflict. Conflict can be seen as a business problem and is a common destroyer of relationships and organizations if not handled properly. The candidate is instructed on the ways to be peaceful, avoiding violence and argument, and respecting differences of opinion. He is warned against taking sides; seeing that is better to seek the common ground that unites people of reason.

Disappointment can be seen as a conflict between an anticipated response and actual results.
Discontent can be seen as a conflict between what you have and what you want.
Dissension is actual conflict, disagreement, quarrel, or discord.
With Distrust, the conflict is between various unknowns.

Pike counters conflict with duty.

From Morals and Dogma, Pike says, "You are especially taught in this Degree to be zealous and faithful; to be disinterested and benevolent; and to act the peacemaker, in the case of dissensions, disputes, and quarrels among the brethren." He goes on to say, "Duty is the moral magnetism which controls and guides the true Mason's course over the tumultuous seas of life."

Pike's comments stir thoughts of servant leadership when he says, "Suffer other to be praised in thy presence, and entertain their good and glory with delight; but at no hand disparage them, or lessen the report, or make an objection; and think not the advancement of thy brother is lessening of thy worth. Upbraid no man's weakness to him to discomfit him, neither report it to disparage him, neither delight to remember it to lessen him, or set thyself above him; nor ever praise thyself or dispraise any man else ..."

The First degree, the 6th degree, and Gideon's victory over the Midianites ... all tied to good leadership qualities? Trust someone who is worthy of your trust. Act the peacemaker - both with others and within yourself. Mediate conflicts in a disinterested and benevolent (win-win) fashion. Don't speak ill of others. Take joy in the successes of those around you.

Sounds like good advice to me.