I would like to register a complaint. In my March Master's letter we established that March was in like a lion but out like a lamb. However March came out swinging and didn't let up well into April. Finally Spring was sprung but much too late for my preference. Really just went right from Winter into Summer. Whichever Mason was in charge of the weather machine last month really let us down. Contact your BGP and let us file charges.
Speaking of charges, let's talk about the EA one. (Dad-joke segue!)
We have all been charged in the EA degree when we were new Masons, but I'd like to review them through the lens of us as old, crusty Masons. There are 6 paragraphs for us to examine. I won't include the text here so you'll have to follow along with your book at home. Better yet, come to the EA degree this month and think about the charge as it's delivered, not just to the EA, but to yourself as well.
First things first, the charge congratulates us on being accepted into such an ancient and honorable institution. No doubt this was intended to reassure any newly initiated brothers who may be shaken or nervous that what they just experienced was indeed a worthwhile thing. For us as established Masons it's a great reminder of all the fraternity offers below the surface and of the parade of better-men-than-we who proceeded us in Freemasonry.
Second we are reminded of the 3 great duties: to God, your neighbor, and yourself. I believe this is to instruct the newly made brother that Freemasonry is not to be placed ahead of our normal responsibilities, a call back to the assurance made prior to the obligation. As a Master Mason this reminds me why I strive to be better than I am.
Third we are admonished to be good and peaceful citizens. Similar to the 3 great duties, the newly made brother is being told not to place Freemasonry above the state, to be cheerful in our conformity and not countenance disloyalty or rebellion. I was curious if this was added in response to the events below the Mason-Dixon Line, but it seems it very much predates it. In fact James Anderson's "Charges of a Free-Mason" from 1723 state:
"So that if a Brother should be a Rebel against the State he is not to be countenanc’d in his Rebellion, however he may be pitied as an unhappy Man; and, if convicted of no other Crime though the loyal Brotherhood must and ought to disown his Rebellion, and give no Umbrage or Ground of political Jealousy to the Government for the time being; they cannot expel him from the Lodge, and his Relation to it remains indefeasible."
Though it is interesting if your only crime was Rebellion, the Lodge will stand by you, our current charge doesn't mention this. In the early days of speculative Freemasonry, as local politicians and noblemen began to join, I can see this charge helping to assuage fears of secret societies overthrowing the governing bodies of the day. As a Master Mason I take this paragraph of the charge to mean not just the face value of prohibiting rebellion, but that we should strive to make positive change from within. (Here is a link to his Constitutions of the Free-Masons if you're interested)
Fourth we are reminded that we represent the craft. I think this is critical for Master Masons not to forget, especially in this day and age of social media. Whenever we engage non Masons in public or online, like it or not the craft will be judged by our words and actions. This is why I don't have the square and compasses on my car. We don't want the general public judging all of Freemasonry based on my ever-so-slightly aggressive driving. It also reminds us to be fair when dealing with our Brothers and the public, to not be biased towards our Brothers at the expense of our and Freemasonry's integrity.
Fifth we are told that masonry shouldn't interfere with our vocation, but are encouraged to study it in our leisure time. As Master Masons this reminds us that we get out of it what we put into it. And we're also warned not to argue with those who seek to ridicule the institution. Again in the age of social media, you are even more likely to run into these sorts of ignorant folk, and getting into the weeds with them on twitters or facebooks doesn't further the cause of Freemasonry.
Lastly, we are reminded that we shouldn't recommend anyone to the craft who couldn't live up to these charges. This is important, even in these days of declining membership, that we have standards that we hold ourselves and our brothers to.
Brothers I hope this reminder encourages you to re-examine the charges through your own lens for your own betterment as a man and a Mason.
Sincerely And Fraternally,
UPCOMING EVENTS - See our Calendar for details
May 16 - Special Communication [EA] | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
May 19 - Past Master Brunch - All masons & significant others invited!! | Get Tickets
May 23 - Master's Table Dinner | Haabs Restaurant, Ypsilanti
May 30 - Mentor Training - All MMs encouraged to attend! | Zal Gaz Grotto Club
June 6 - Regular Communication | Pittsfield Union Grange Hall
June 16 - Special Communication [FC]| Detroit Masonic Temple
June 23 - Table Lodge | Zal Gaz Grotto Club