“I just can’t understand why we have the holy St. Johns!”
I heard this said by Brother Ricky a number of times throughout the evening. Ricky’s a Masonic Brother who attending my St. John the Evangelist gathering. I had decided our lodge could use a couple personal get together to get in some Masonic discussion and this turned out to be a killer event. Except for us wondering why the Saint’s John were part of Masonry.
The evening was slated to start off at 8pm. I was quickly finishing up shopping and showing when at 7:45 I got a phone call from Brother Mitch that he had arrived. I threw on my nice shirt, and ran outside to bring him in. He had booze with him, good sign, and his wife with him, not a good sign. But she was just going to drop him off so I was immediately relieved.
Us three sat around for 20 minutes, talking while we hoped others brothers would be showing up. When you list 8pm for a Masonic gathering, apparently that could mean show up whenever. Mitch thought he might be late. Apparently everyone else was afraid of being early.
Soon our other brothers were pouring in, Mitch’s wife left and we started to get settled in. I have invited a specific list of Masonic brothers to this because I wanted good Masonic discussion that didn’t turn into one big drinking fest that turned into non-Masonic topics. 10 was a good number, probably could have been shaved to 8.
Now many of you reading this are brothers, are are well aware that some of your brothers hail from different countries and have different customs and approaches to things. We have one brother, Brother Andy, who is a really great person, and always makes sure to invite people to do things with him. Well he brought another Masonic brother who was an Entered Apprentice. For me, it was a bunch in the gut because I was expecting some high level Masonic discussion. But Masonry changes how you approach things, especially when you are dealing with people that are your Masonic brothers. Brother Henry as I’ll put it isn’t from America and neither is Brother Andy. But as frustrated as I was, I looked at this moment as a moment to share this experience with all my Masonic brothers.
So by 9pm, we had a packed room.
Now Masonry and the system of Masonry inadvertently and sometimes intentionally teaches you some Masonic lessons. The first is setting structure. Here was my structure for the discussion as follows.
Structure: We will treat people on the level and by the square. A.k.a treat people equally and no one person is greater then another.
Now Masonry has given me something new to consider. In Masonry, there are rules for your obligation. But masonry also teaches you moral concepts and codes…yet these AREN’T considered rules. In the ritual, you are taught things that are elements of Masonry such as the three jewels of Masonry, the Three Great Lights, and many other things. But these objects are presented to you, or you are told they are a part of Masonry. But not rules.
So quick tangent, let’s talk about what this means to us and how it can be useful.
Rules are important to keep people structured and in line. They are obvious and clear dictations of what you can do.
Yet it’s also the human instinct to reject rules. To not be held to them as rules can become oppressive and obsolete. Masonry is crafty in this regard by not giving certain moral elements the rules treatments and instead “presenting” them to you. This does two things. It makes the rules you do dictate much more powerful and and distinct and more likely for people to follow. Also too many rules and people will reject them all.
So for these next things, I told people that these are not rules but things to consider for the discussion.
1: For the first hour we will focus the discussion of St. John the Evangelist only, then after that the conversation can go any way it wants to from there.
2. Be open minded. We are Masons so our minds should be ready and prepared to receive new light.
3. Be prepared for the controversial. It wouldn’t be Masonry without some controversial thoughts and idea.
So once I laid those down, the rules and “considerations”, I went to work.
Now I knew our meeting would need to have a few things. Here is the list of items for a GREAT Masonic gathering.
Chips and Dip
We broke out the booze and everyone hit the Bourbon first.
I gave a short speech about St. John the Evangelist, mostly from my blog entry two weeks ago, and then we dived into discussion.
The discussion kicked off quick with Brother Ricky going right to the top quote, saying it a few times. The second he did this, everyone dived in. At my lodge, we have the best membership energy levels that we have had in 30 years. The core of the lodge is filled with men under the age of 50, and the gathering I had didn’t have a brother 40 or above.
Now our night had some great discussion, some of which I can’t tell you but some of it I can’t remember. But I can tell you this. We drank burned Absinthe. We got my Absinthe spoon, poured the Absinthe over it, lit it on fire, poured the water in, and drank it. All I can say is it made me a whole new man. I cannot stress enough the importance and power of good Absinthe. It brings you to a wonderful place.
We stepped outside for cigars twice, especially because we had two brothers that need to smoke cigarettes. I also can’t say enough how good it was to talk outside about lodge events and things we could do to improve the lodge and help Masonry grow.
Overall, it was a fine evening and a great night of Masonry. Masonry starts with a good ritual, good brotherhood, and good education.