The Masonic values of The New England Patriots

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Hello Readers,

Two days ago, the New England Patriots scored their 4th Super Bowl title, the most in the salary cap era. Tom Brady is now in the discussion for being the greatest QB of all time, and Bill Belichick is in the discussion for being the greatest coach of all time. Whether you like them or hate them or even think they are running vast conspiracies of cheating to beat other teams, there is little to argue that that they are currently best run franchise in professional sports.

This isn’t a fluke or something that is happening by chance either. For the entire Patriots organization, there have philosophies, ideologies and ways of doing things that have caused them to stay at the top for so long. And as a Mason, there are things that they do that we can all learn from and hopefully emulate.

1. Do Your Job.

It’s common in society today for people to talk the talk but not walk the walk. It’s also common for people to half-ass their work, to mail it in or to not follow directions. For the Patriots, this motto of Do Your Job means that you do exactly what is commanded of you in practice to the letter. You have a job to do, the team is relying on you. Go out and do it.

As Masons this message is something that we’re familiar with. It brings us back to our Operative Masonic roots, where Masons worked together in teams to create many of the iconic structures that we see around the world today. When working together to build a great structure, each Mason had a job to do. Whether it was perfecting stones, artistically designing edifices, spreading cement, measuring balance, each Mason had one job and the entire lodge relied on them to do it. Yet how the Patriots approach the team aspect is actually very individualistic. Do Your Job. That is a message to each person that their focus is singular and internal. It’s about what that individual has to do. This is entirely Masonic. When we come to Masonry, we come because we are working on subduing out passions, learning and improving ourselves in Masonry. It’s about our individual work. It’s about you and how you perfect your own stone.

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Yet Do Your Job is also understood within the team philosophy. If each player does their job, the whole team works as a cohesive unit and is able to do incredible things. Masonry is the same way. Even though the work is individual, we are all together in a unified lodge. While we have each individually come to search for light, it is understood that it is found through other brothers as well.

If each player does their job then the team will succeed wildly and be as great as the Patriots are. And if each individual Mason does their job, then the lodge as a whole succeeds wildly. On the other hand as we saw in the Super Bowl, Tharold Simon struggled and it allowed the Patriots to pick on him and move the ball against one of the better defenses of all time. All it takes is one bad player for the entire team to collapse. The lodge is the same way. All it takes is one bad member for the lodge to become weakened and to collapse. Simon didn’t do his job, either through bad coaching or lack of working himself. A Mason show doesn’t do their job to make themselves perfect runs the risk of making the lodge weak and having the whole fall apart.

Bill Belichick, head coach of the New En

2. A Championship Leader

The Patriots win because they have a great coach in Bill Belichick who knows how to run the show. To say that Belichick is tireless in his commitment to winning is an understatement. He puts all of his energy and effort into breaking down film, working with his players and being involved with almost every aspect of the organization. Every player and coach looks to him and follows his lead. He is admired because of his relentless external commitment to results and being able to achieving those results.

In Masonry we want the Worshipful Master to be the same. We want someone who is tireless in their commitment to making a great lodge. Every Mason is part of that lodge and a Worshipful Master knows how to rule over his Brothers with a relentless commitment to results and to being able to achieve those results. Now each lodge and each individual Mason has their own set of goals, so what your results are definitely depends on the place and brother. Yet finding what each lodge and brother needs requires research. And Bill Belichick spends hours and hours watching game film to find out how to best change and tailor his approach to each individual team and opponent. A great Worshipful Master will spends his time with his brothers to find out what each of them needs and what best works for the lodge.

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Bill Belichick is the undisputed leader of The Patriots team. He is the one who draws up the game plans and put them into action. He teachers the players the best way to execute it, and then guides them as they put the plan into action. Masonry again is the same way. Masons need a leader who lays out a plan and brings everyone together to make that plan work. This springs from our Operative History where a Chief Architect put together the blueprint for the structure and then directed his Masons on how to build it. Behind every great building was a legendary Grand Master who makes sure each Mason did their job and worked as a cohesive unit. They looked to God to draw up the blueprint, they set it into actions, they handled personalities and made sure each Mason was put in the best possible place to succeed.

In addition a great leader also listens to the people that work for him. You will often see Belichick roam the sidelines and talk to his other players and coaches asking them how things are going. What are they seeing? What is happening? How is the game plan working. Belichick has his blueprint but he also makes sure to listen to the players to figure out ways to improve on that blueprint. A great Worshipful Master makes sure to always consult with his fellow Masons to make sure things are being done right and to ask how things can be done better.

Also Bill Belichick is very flexible. He has his plans that he takes into the game but if the plan isn’t working his team he’ll quickly go to a new plan of attack. The Patriots are legendary for changing things up on the fly to find different ways to challenge an opponent. In Masonry we find the tools that are given to us are open for our own interpretation. And like any Mason, sometimes the first approach to something isn’t actually the right one and you find yourself seeing things differently later. For Worshipful Masters, that means the plans you put into place aren’t dogma. They need to be open to change. Your leadership styles, your plans for the year and even ways you help to improve brothers has to be flexible. You have to know that if something isn’t working you need to have a plan B, C and D.

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3. The Patriots embody our Masonic tools.

Think of the Square and Compass. Is there a team out there that better follows them both? No! The Patriots always square their actions. No player gets special treatment. In Training Camp the player that works out the hardest gets the best parking spots. Tom Brady was normally this guy until he slowed down a bit for a few years and didn’t train as hard. He lost his preferential parking spots. Another example, Jonas Gray ran for 200 yards again the Colts in the regular season. A few days later he was late for practice. He was sent to the bench and he barely played since. Bill Belichick treats his players the same no matter who they are or what they do. This weeds out the primadonna players while also creating the fairest system for talent to rise. It also brings players together knowing that they are all being treated as equals. If every stone is squared the same, they are much more likely to fit together.

As for The Compass, it calls for us to circumscribe our desires and to keep our passions within due bounds toward all mankind. The Patriots are perfect examples of this. Each player has something they want. It could be the big contract. Or more playing time. Or more masses. Or more media exposure. Whatever. But the Patriots players deep their desires in check. They sacrifice for the team. If they each went after what they wanted they would have turned into the Oakland Raiders a long time ago. They can still have desires and many of them do, but by keeping things in check it allows for everyone to fit in with each other and become a cohesive unit.

They are also excellent at keeping their passions within due bounds. Watch them at the podium when speaking to the media. They constantly talk about the respect they have for other teams and players. When asked about winning they say they want it but they will say that it’s a lot of hard work and mental focus. Do these players want to win? Of course. These are some of the most competitive players in the world. But they again keep their passions in control. Engaging in a chest puffing “who is better” war or words with another team will only lead to distractions and for the other team to get bulletin board material. By keeping their passion to a controlled burn, it allows them to stay focused and disciplined in practice all the way through the game. And the Patriots are extremely passionate during the game, throwing every ounce of energy out onto the field. But they also keep their passions within due bounds on the field by never letting the other team’s trash talk get to them. They also make sure to not get to emotional and let the emotion of the moment cloud their heads. They each have a job to do and too much emotion can cloud their judgement. When Russell Wilson was driving for the score, Malcolm Butler had just let up a miracle catch to Jermaine Kearse. He could have let his negative emotions get to him. He could have let the momentum swing of the Seahawks driving to bring him out of his focus. But he kept his passions within due bounds, stayed focused, did his job and intercepted Russell Wilson’s pass two plays later. And the rest is history.

The Patriots are currently the greatest run in professional sports. And as we learn from the Trowel, the only contention that should exist among us is who can best work and agree. The Patriots are the best. They are the masters and as we continue on our journey of self-improvement, consider their work and how their methods could assist you.

Livingstone

The Pursuit of Perfection

Hello Readers,

 

What does it mean to be perfect? What does it mean to be without flaw or blemish?

 

The definition of perfection states that perfection is “the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.”

 

This is a term that every Brother can nod to as part of their Masonic understanding. We being members of a society of builders, we know that the zeal to achieve perfection in our work is the core of Masonic practice. For the great structures that our brothers of past have built have stood the test of time because they were the most perfect. Perfect creates an everlasting existence.

 

When a Man joins Masonry and becomes a Brother, he is now a part of a system that codifies what that perfection could mean through the allegory of the rough ashlar and the perfect ashlar. We understand that the rough and the perfect are both symbols themselves, yet those symbols mean different things to different people. The most common belief is that the ashlar represents the individual Mason. The idea being that we are rough when we join Masonry. But through good work on ourselves, we will be able to achieve perfection. And thus we will be able to perfectly fit in our world here on earth and also in the heaven above.

 

It’s Masonry’s most specific explanation of a long term goal of our entire superstructure. This is our purpose. To use the tools given to us in Freemasonry to become perfect. That is why we are here. All those things about brotherly love, secrecy, truth, charity, diving our time, getting rid of vices…they are all actions we must do in our duty to achieve perfection. Perfection is our final form.

 

I’ll repeat my question from above, but what does it mean to be perfect? Here are a few articles that touch on this very question

 

 

 

 

Each article talks about and deals with perfection from a few different points of View. They were chosen because they fell on the religious, personal the societal thoughts about perfection.

 

However they didn’t touch on the philosophical and symbolic meaning of perfection, which is what we will do here now.

 

Perfection means different things to different people. I think Shawshank Redemption is the perfect movie but someone down the street thinks Twighlight Breaking Dawn is perfect. The perfect husband you think you have might in fact be a flawed candidate to someone else. Being perfect in your religion might make you a saint to some and heretic to others. Listen to what I’m saying. By just understanding the basic variances in human perception, we can come to understand that true perfection is IMPOSSIBLE!

 

So what is going on here? What is Masonry trying to do? Well we have already established that perfection is impossible, but maybe we’re working on the wrong series of metrics here. Maybe we’re playing football but using baseball’s scoring rules. What I’m trying to say is we’re completely missing how we measure perfection.

 

A. True Perfection. True Perfection should only be measured through God’s design. If God outlines how our lives will work and we attain that design, then mission accomplished. To figure out what God wants, we read our Volume of Sacred Law (VSL). We read through, find the rules, understand what they mean and we follow them. And if you follow every law and rule, then you are without flaw. Just as the definition of perfection says.

 

Sure, you can get straight As in school, ace your car exam or whatnot. But that is only station perfection, when there are many different stations in life. What I’m talking about total perfection as a spiritual person, which is what religion sets out to do. Now I did say earlier that religious people may call you a heretic for not following their religious system. But that’s the rub, you’re not supposed to follow their system. You’re supposed to follow God’s system. If you judge your standards against the standards of others, you will be trapped in a perpetually flawed state. But if you sincerely follow the system by what God expects, perfection can be attained. For our journey on earth is to follow the Great Architect’s design. And those that followed that sacred design and have found their time on earth complete, they will be guaranteed a joyous life after, eternal in the Heavens. Our Volume of Sacred Law, unlike any other system has a clear way of attaining an everlasting life and true perfection.

 

B. Station perfection. As I mentioned in my above statement, there are different stations of life that we try to achieve perfection in. Being the perfect husband, or perfect student, or perfect employee, and so on and so forth. The first struggle that we have in this area are that the metrics of measurement aren’t always clear and the rules aren’t always obvious. This being the case, our first step in all statins of life is to set a clear system of measurements and rules for what we perceive to be perfection and to make sure sure those around us are alerted to it. And the rules don’t have to be hyper specific. By being clear with our significant others, our co-workers, bosses, friends, family, whatever about what we aspire to be in this space, we allow others to not only better align with us in our pursuit of perfection, but also to support us as well. Everyone deep down just wants to fit in and seeing you work to fit in allows for other to want to join you in this endeavor.

 

C. Support Perfection. Support perfection is supporting others in their journey to become perfect. Now, people don’t always share the same ideals as us and may still be figuring out who they are. But us being a society of people who believe in the Great Architect, we know that they are born out of a spirit made in the image of our perfect creator. We are all capable of the same journey of perfection. And as Masons were are all too aware of our charge to bring relief to others. A Mason who stands for others and relentlessly supports them in their drive for perfection is a Mason who will soon find him surrounded by a great society. And he will soon find that this great society now stands and supports him, the way he has done for others. For it is hardwired into the human spirit, to stand with those who can protect for you, provide for you, and build you up so you can better weather the storms of human existence.

 

In our journey for perfection as Masons, we will often find ourselves meditating for answers on what it means to make our minds perfect. I hope this essay will illuminate some of what this means and help guide you on that very journey.

Masonic Health: God Can Cure You

Apple of God

Hello readers,

Now many religious figures in history and in scripture have all said or claimed that God or the belief in God can not only lead to salvation, but help you in this world by having God heal or help you. Now for many of us, being scientific minded people, the idea of prayer curing cancer alone is beyond comprehension. We know that good science, medicine, and the work of trained professionals is what helps cure us and make us healthier. Masonry is filled with men who are pragmatic in how they approach health. The doctor know best.

But is is just that? Is it only a visit to the doctor? Or following a healthy lifestyle? Is that the difference between a sick and a healthy life? The answer is no and I will show you how God can be the force to cure you, and why the belief in God has been so beneficial to Masons around the globe.

Believing in God is Good for Your Health

Here are some choice quotes from the article.

One of the studies, where more than 20,000 American adults participated, shows that income and education had little impact but those who went to church regularly had seven years added to their life expectancy. It highlights that life expectancy doubled for African Americans with an extra 14 years.

People with mental health problems, such as psychosis, also proved to cope better when religion was involved. They also showed to be more compliant with their medication.

They are less likely to commit suicide or suffer anxiety, display fewer psychotic tendencies, and are less likely to suffer alcohol and drug abuse.

Looking to Light of GodAnd to be a Freemason, you need to believe in a supreme being, which more often then not means you are part of a religion. Now there have been many reasons why Freemasons have been successful over their time, but one aspect that is always missed is how their health has helped them. People who suffer from health problems, mental illness and such are more likely to do worse economically, socially, and mentally. If you’re trying to get ahead, or are trying to at least get your life on your two feet, dealing with medical problems is one of the biggest obstacles you’ll deal with. It’s an anchor that makes life a constant struggle. And the above shows that Freemasons and their many times religious nature are major reason why they’re in such good health.

I suffered from a chronic mental illness myself recently. Dealing with an incurable disease is one of the most soul crushing things that can happen to anyone. It feels like you are constantly walking on ice, never able to gain the right footing. How can you lead a career or chase your dreams when you’re constantly suffering? While there are examples of people who overcame their health issues to reach where they are in society, they are the exception to the rule.

Now it isn’t always about the career. Many Masons see the world not in works in the world, but works for above. Their only goal is to be happy. And lucky for them, good health is one of the most important elements to people becoming happy. Studies show that Health, not wealth/marital status/age/etc, makes people happier. Not works. Not things you own. Pure solid health. I realized halfway through when dealing with this illness that I would rather be healthy then anything else. Good health means everything.

So lets talk about how this related to Freemasonry. As we know Freemasonry requires a belief in God to join. And the men who join Freemasonry encompass the entire spectrum of a belief in God. From mainstream religions, to paganism, to deism, and everything in between. Masons believe in God, and they come in with a system of their own choosing.

Bible StethoscopeI chose Christianity for multiple reasons. I was raised in it. I left it. And then I returned to it. Putting the studies aside for a second and speaking personally, Christianity has done wonders for my mental health. At the very core, feeling that an all powerful being is watching over you  and looking out for you takes a tremendous weight off your shoulders. In a world where you feel like you’re going at it alone, knowing that God is going to try and make sure you’re ok is  extremely important psychologically. Also the belief in an afterlife makes the pains and troubles of this world less threatening and frightening. You see them only as temporary obstacles or tests and they don’t define your life. It has caused me to mellow out in a real way. I’m not as angry or obsessed with the injustices of the world. I do wish to still stop injustice, but the thought of it isn’t killing me anymore.

Also I remember when I first because a Christian, it did wonders for my confidence. I had gone from someone drifting through life to now having God making sure I was going to be ok. It wasn’t just my problem anymore. Also God became an anchor for me, giving me a central point where I could find the answers to morality and how to live my life. It also gave me a sense of purpose. When I was sick I became less focused on the sickness and more focused on my purpose here in the world. It wasn’t always the direct psychological cause, but it put in a foundation for me that helped me overcome the challenges I was facing.

The More Religious You Are, the Healthier Your Lifestyle

Some choice quotes.

The survey found that even after controlling for other kinds of demographic and geographic variables, Americans who say that religion is an important part of daily life and that they attend religious services weekly also report having much healthier habits than people who self-identify as moderately religious or nonreligious.

Fat JesusFirstly, this study and its results are pretty jarring. We know that in The Bible Belt of the US, obesity levels are through the roof and are bordering on epidemic levels. But we must also note that many of us have assumed these very religious people overlap with these people who have health problems. The studies I show in this article says that many of them don’t overlap at all.

Now of course this could be a moment for us God believers to pat ourselves on the back, but there is a key phrasing here that must be noted. It’s not how much you believe in God, but the question was “How religious were you”. What does that mean, specifically for us Masons.

Masonry has had an interesting history when it comes to religion. Obviously our Masonic system accepts all people from all faiths as long as they believe in a higher power. But the men that join Masonry aren’t always religious. I have met brothers who span the entire spectrum of religious devotion. Now, can you be religious and be a Mason? Absolutely. I consider myself fairly dedicated to my Christian faith, so much so that my Christianity supersedes Masonry and Americanism. But Masonry, and being part of the system, has given perspective that we are in a world of many faiths and beliefs and that as long as we follow the tenants of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth…all elements that are found in The Bible, I will be following God’s will.

Many Masons in America are obviously church going men. However for the ones that don’t go to church as much, being a part of Masonry can replicate that experience. Now, Masonry is not a religion but it can be religious in nature. Albert Mackey mentioned this his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry.

“I am not disposed to yield, on the subject of the religious character of Masonry, quite so much as has been yielded by more timid brethren. On the contrary, I contend, without any sort of hesitation, that Masonry is, in every sense of the word, except one, and that its least philosophical, an eminently religious institution — that it is indebted solely to the religious element which it contains for its origin and for its continued existence, and that without this religious element it would scarcely be worthy of cultivation by the wise and good” (1874, p. 640).

fat measurementEven if you are not a religious person but are a dedicated Mason, you will experience the same effects in Masonry as you would attending Church as a Christian, Synagogue as a Jew, or a Mosque as a Muslim. So if you’re very involved with Masonry then it wouldn’t be a stretch to say it could make you healthier too.

Here is another great article on the subject.

Religion and Health: Very Religious People Score Higher in Health Evaluations, According to Study

However, the article has some interesting counter points in the comments below. Let’s check them out.

Now the Huffington Post also posted about the article that being religious can make you healthier. However, there were some interesting counter-points from the people who responded.

This is a “self evaluation” based on what you “believe” to be true about your personal health. So the study found that people who are religious tend to “believe” they are healthier and those who are not religious and rely on rational thought don’t tend to over estimate their own health.

Wow, how surprising…NOT!

and

By defining “health” mainly as a self-scored well-being index, the authors completely obliterate any possible relevance to true health. When objective biomarkers are used, religious people are generally found to be LESS healthy. This is related to the well-understood inverse relationship between religiosity and education.

The responses are interesting. I get the skepticism that people self-evaluating themselves who are religious would rate their health higher. But that fails to focus on the main point. And that is PERCEPTION of health. If you feel healthy, by default you are “healthy” in your mind and how you approach the world around you. Sure you may be in terrible health shape, but as long as you feel healthy, then you will experience the positive mental effects of feeling healthy. Sure there are people who could be dealing with a terrible illness and are suffering, but they feel healthier comparatively then those in the same situation who don’t believe in religion or God. Now, I argue it isn’t just perception of health, but I do belief that belief in God actually makes you healthier. Let’s check out a few others links.

Religion Can Make You Happier

One interesting element is that people who believe in a higher power and are religious are also happier as well. And now let’s connect this to my last major health related point.

Happier People are Healthier

Happy business people laughing against white backgroundI will at some point do a blog entry on the power of the community for health, but for now let’s just focus on the “religious” aspect of Masonry. Masonry’s goals are the three things I mentioned above. Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. Also creating harmony between men is a major point in Masonry’s structure. People in harmony together are happierPeople who volunteer and help others are happier. People in love are happier (Do I really need to cite an article for this one?). As you can see, all things that are part of the Masonic structure are things that make people happier.

So not only does feeling and being healthy make you happier, but being happier makes you healthier! So a belief in God makes you healthier and happier. And being happier makes you healthier, and being healthier makes you happier! It becomes a feedback loop, helping to stabilize you. Also because of Masonry’s system of moderation, it helps to prevent the destructive dive into fundamentalism/religious manipulation that can be a destructive side of religion and belief.

It’s no surprise that many Masons live to very old ages. Visit any Masonic lodge and you will see brothers in their 60s, 70s and 80s. And then when you see their records and their Masonic care homes and you’ll find many brothers living into their 90s as well!

US Life Expectancy

For Americans, the average male age they die at is 76 years old. Yet I know many Masons who have lived beyond that. Even just another 5 years of life means that you have an extra 5 healthy years of life. Five years is a very VERY long time. And a lot can happen in five years. And being healthy during that time to me is worth it’s weight in gold. Every day counts.

So what does this all mean? Well it explains why those who believe in God and why Freemasons seem to be so stable with their health. Now, will Freemasonry alone cure your illnesses? No. I also want to point out TRUTH in Masonry. We all know the truth is you need good medicine to be healthy. Also brothers looking out for each other can help lead to healthier habits and we help fellow Masons who are suffering. But don’t discount the importance of believing in a higher power and what religion can do for you. Good health and happiness are priceless, and God can be just what the doctor ordered.

Livingstone