Some Symbolism of The Flag of the United States of America

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

This was the original pledge of allegiance written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy (source link 🔗).  

The words, “The Flag of the United States of America,” were not added until 25 years later in 1923.

The Flag and the pledge of allegiance is a controversial subject for many at the moment. Many individuals do not like what the flag has come to represent for them.  

It is a tradition in some masonic lodges in the United States to recite the pledge of allegiance as a part of their regular business meetings. Does this mean that all members of those lodges are fiercely loyal to the governing parties, or like everything going on in the United States? The short answer is, of course not. We live in a time where it can be quite polarizing to even be asking that kind of question. 

The beauty of masonry is that it is an institution where all opinions should be respected regardless of personal beliefs. That being said in open lodge controversial topics are often avoided to ensure all members meet on the level. That does not mean those aren’t discussed by masons outside of their meetings.

I say this as somewhat of a disclaimer that the goal of this post is not to persuade a definite set of symbols and their representations. The beauty of symbols is that they can continue to teach us far beyond their general representation. 

While I do not understand the symbolism of most national flags, nor have I even seen every nation’s flag, I feel like the US flag is deeply symbolic beyond its colors and patterns.  

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed an act establishing an official flag for the new nation. The resolution stated: “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” On Aug. 3, 1949, President Harry S. Truman officially declared June 14 as Flag Day. (Source Link 🔗)

The exact origins seem to be a bit nebulous according to the above article on the creation of the flag. What I was taught in elementary school was that it was sewn by Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress and is generally accepted as history. 

As the United States of America grew, in May of 1795 two additional stars and stripes were added. (source link.) 🔗

In 1818 the provision was changed to keep the original 13 stripes for the original 13 colonies of the United States and a Star for each new state in the Union.  

These are the most generally well-known and recognized symbols of the Flag. Some provisions explain this symbolism and are generally not seen as controversial.  

As an Eagle Scout and member of Scouting’s Honor Society, The Order of the Arrow, I participated in many flag ceremonies. I never did count how many. I’m sure I’ve exceeded 100 particularly in being a member of the armed services directly dealing with drill and ceremony

The US Flag must be uniquely folded in every one of the ceremonies I performed. It is folded lengthwise in half two times. It is then to be folded triangularly eleven times for a total of 13 folds. The following video is a great illustration of folding the flag.

Some ceremonies will sometimes have a script and explain meanings for the folds. I will let you do your own research on those and form your own opinions as to their meaning, especially since at times you may be off by 1-2 folds, depending on how tightly you folded, and the size of the flag. 

When it is fully folded it is triangular completely in a field of blue. The historical significance of the triangle fold was touched on in the video. That it was so it could be stored in the same boxes as the tri-fold hats of the period. It has come to take on other symbolism though, particularly for myself. The triangular shape of the folded flag is representative of the 3 branches of the US Government. The executive, legislative, and judicial. The fact that the final shape for flag storage has the stars and blue field showing only, is that the government is not above God.

Deity may take many forms for many people, but the idea that no government outranks God and the Divine is very masonic.  Aside from all the many symbolisms that can be gathered from the US Flag that is the one I would like for people to appreciate.  

When I personally pledge allegiance to the flag, I am pledging allegiance to my God, my neighbors, my family, and myself. I’m not pledging to a bureaucracy or government. To me the flag does not represent the government, it is more representative of the history of the land and the good and bad that has come from that governing body. To me, it represents a potential to strive for as a community.  

You may not find that same meaning for yourself, and I honor that. If you would like to have a conversation and see in what other ways the US Flag is symbolicsend us an email.  

To be informed on new blog Articles from Damascus Lodge enter your email below.  

Questions, Comments, Disagreements, Jokes. Comment Below

Set them up and Knock Them Down, Just to Set Them up and Knock Them Down

Shared with Permission from StayfawnTop

“Wow this box has everything!”

I just made a local trip to the thrift store with my Mom.  When we would do that I would spend nearly the whole time in the toy section and this particular time someone had gifted a box of dominos.

It wasn’t the kind of Dominos that had dots on them, it was purely a set just for setting them up to knock them down. 

Something interesting about dominos used in this manner is that is cyclical.  Much like going for a hike or a run.  

The goal of the activity is the activity and not the destination.  

When you go on a hike you will typically travel in a loop, or go a certain distance and come back to your starting point.  

The quickest way to get to the destination is to never have started the activity in the first place. 

We live in a society obsessed with goals and destinations as if the point of humanity and your existence is to improve on your sales quota by 25% this quarter. 

We see all around our social media people accomplishing noteworthy things such as buying homes, finishing big races, landing dream jobs, and attending big parties and crazy concerts.

It is a bit overwhelming with this information overload to think that we exist as humans for anything other than consuming media and accomplishing goals.

What did people ever do before TPS reports and Quarterly Earning Sheets?  (I actually don’t know what a TPS report is, I just know they were made infamous by the movie office space)  

Humans must have been a lot sadder before now.

Fortunately, they weren’t reminded of how sad they were.

So back to my first thought.  

Dominos

(Not the Pizza🍕…

Although now I want some.)

I have a friend that shares things from his life on Social Media.  

It’s not the same as most of what I see out there.

A lot of it is projects he builds out of Dominos.

A grown man playing with what may now be considered an antiquated toy.

He likes to demonstrate Math Principles with them.

I’m sharing his most recent post as it stood out to me. 

He constructed a super cube in his house with some other shapes around it that took him 28 days to complete.

I would conjecture the project took the majority of his free hours and he would have had to have kept his children and wife, or any pets he may have from knocking the structure down in those 28 days.

It was an impressive monolith 🏙️.

When he initiated the catalyst that set the course for the structure’s inevitable downfall it only took about 28 seconds for the final domino to fall.

28 days of work, for 28 seconds of glory (of course he immortalized it in the video below)

For that to make sense for someone to do you have to really enjoy the setup process that goes into building dominos.  Not just enjoying watching them fall.

So often we get caught up in achievements that we forget that most of life is a process.

Watching my friend’s video, I was reminded of a poem entitled “A Builder Or a Wrecker

(Which is a faster read than this blog post)

This one line stood out to me

“I can easily wreck in a day or two,

What builders have taken years to do.”

People that love to work with Dominos the way that StayFawnTop does, don’t care about wrecking in a day or two what has taken them years

(They might if the project is prematurely taken down)

It’s the process of building, wrecking and rebuilding that they love

In Free Masonry to achieve our goal, “to help good men to become better”

It often requires tearing down and building up

It is a difficult process and sometimes what took minutes to build, takes years to tear down

No Mason is ever perfect 

If you’re interested in learning more about the process of Masonry 

Send us an email letting us know where in the world you are and we’ll get you in touch with the right people to help you along in your Masonic Journey.

Subscribe to our Mailing List Below 

Any insight into the formulas presented in the video comment below.

Math is GREAT!

MRE (Masons Ready For Esotericism?)

“Anyone want to trade for a lemon-lime beverage powder?”

“I got the veggie omelet, I’ll give you that.”


“Gag!  You got unlucky on that one.  But at least it comes with skittles.”


Trading components of an M.R.E (Meal Ready to Eat) is a time-honored tradition of excellence that emboldens the army values of respect and selfless service.

This was our second FTX (Field Training Excercise) in basic training and the Drill Sergeants were starting to ease up on us.  I’d heard stories about this from my brother and was looking forward to trading away anything just to be a part of it.  


“Does anyone want my Jalapeño Cheese Spread?  Don’t need anything for it, just want to get rid of it.”

A loud resounding voice is heard

“WHAT DID I JUST HEAR PRIVATE?!?!”

A Drill Sergeant caught wind of the trading conversation

I hadn’t had a chance to make any contribution yet.  

They were going to smoke us for sure, make us run up and down the hill or something.

“YOU WANT TO GIVE AWAY YOUR JALAPEÑO CHEESE SPREAD?!?”

That wasn’t the follow-up I was expecting.  

There must be something to this cheese spread.

“Private.  Out on the battlefield, it has been known that the opening of a Jalapeño Cheese Spread will lift the morale and espirit de corps of an entire battalion.”

AN ENTIRE BATALLION!”

He emphasizes

“And you’re just wanting to give that away?”

“Yes Drill Sergeant”

A sheepish reply from the interrogated Private.

I wish I could make up what happens next, but I don’t remember.  It’s all a bit of a blur after that.  

My mind was stuck on that phrase.  


“The opening of a Jalapeño Cheese spread will lift the morale and espirit de corps of an entire battalion.”

That’s some pretty powerful stuff.

Masonry is well known for having a lot of symbolism.  

Esoteric is defined as “(something) intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest.”

To the good men and women that served in the United States Military around the same time as me, the Jalapeño Cheese Spread is symbolic.  

There is a big difference between just cheese spread and Jalapeño Cheese Spread.

It is the very nature of something Esoteric.  

You don’t need any kind of security clearance to get Jalapeño Cheese Spread, and I don’t think I’ll get into any kind of trouble for talking about it publicly.  


In all the youtube videos of Stolen Valor, I never once heard Jalapeño Cheese Spread mentioned. 

And in fairness if you are trying to steal valor just talking about Jalapeño Cheese Spread wouldn’t be enough to convince me of your service.  

Questions

  1. So why Jalapeño Cheese Spread?
  2. What does this have to do with FreeMasonry?

Answers

  1.  It was Memorial Day last week and Memorial Day is a time for reflection. Jalapeño Cheese Spread brings joy to a lot of service members.
  2. Everything

So let me expound on Jalapeno Cheese Spread and Masonry.  

As a prior service member, it’s not enough to know that Jalapeño Cheese Spread exists, or that MRE components are traded.   

You can know all those things.   You can even acknowledge Jalapeño Cheese Spread as a symbol of comfort and relief.

Knowing those things doesn’t make it esoteric knowledge. 

It goes beyond the academic and perhaps the practical.  

Jalapeño Cheese Spread is so powerfully esoteric in the military because of individual connections with it and as a group.  

One can study and find all the ‘secrets’ of being a Free Mason and know nothing.  

Even those that have joined the order and participated in our ritual, may not find the knowledge they seek.  

Esoteric knowledge takes time, and it takes a group of people.  

What you may find and experience in one lodge may be different for another.

If getting more of that juicy esoteric knowledge is what you’re looking for then send us an email.  Let us know who you are, where you hail (where you are from), and your interest in masonry.  

What are some examples of Jalapeno Cheese Spread in your life  (Something symbolic to you and a group of people, but not commonly known)? 

Comment Below

Would you Like to Play a Game? (Syllogisms)

“You should come over to my house. I have a Sega Genesis”

I hear John say in Sunday School (Names changed for privacy)

My eyes go wide, my jaw drops, I get a little lightheaded

“Did you say, ‘Sega Genesis?'” 🕹️

I ask with the wide eye enthusiasm of a 5 year old.

John was already the coolest kid I knew, because unlike everyone else in Sunday School he wore a T-Shirt and Jeans. So Now that I knew he had a Sega and was inviting me over to his house I could not be happier.

Every time I blew out birthday candles 🎂, every shooting star 🌟 and with every wishbone 🦴 I broke; I wished only to own my very own Sega. Their marketing did a great job with me. (Thank you Al Nilsen and Tom Kalinske)

This is how excited I was.

I even remember after going to his a house a few times him saying, “I feel like you’re coming over here just because I have a Sega. You know friends play with each other too, and are friends not because of the stuff they own.”

Well he’d caught me and taught me a valuable lesson. We did become best friends and all these years later we’re still friends and haven’t played Sega in a while.

Now as a Man I have put off childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11 📖) and am adopting a slower moving game. A game that practicing stoics call syllogisms.

I’m currently enrolled in a course through the college of stoic philosophers that teaches stoic logic, and from that course I learned syllogisms! 🧨🧨💥💥🧨🧨

<<Star of Disclaimer>>

The college of stoic philosophers is in no way affiliated with Damascus Lodge #10 or Free Masonry other than the possibility that Free Masons may be students of the college (such as myself 😃), and there may be faculty that are Masons (although I would not know who).

As Freemasons we are constantly looking to improve ourselves and are often students of philosophy. As Freemasons we do not adopt or endorse one particular philosophy as part of our fraternity. Our ritual does contain principles that can be found in many religions or philosophies but Masonry is not its self a religion or philosophy.

One may make an argument that, as a philosophy is a way of thinking, that Masonry does contribute or persuade to a certain manner of thought. As Pierre Hadot can be paraphrased, “philosophy was(is) a way of life.” Thus an argument can be made that any belief a person might have may attribute to his or her own personal philosophy and in that manner, masonry can be seen as a philosophy.

Also as I make this disclaimer, I am in no way a spokesman for all of masonry nor do I provide legal ⚖️ representation. I’m just a blogger with a dream 😴💭. Please don’t call the police 🚓. Now that about wraps up the disclaimer let’s get back to the real reason for today. The Syllogism Game 📢📢📢📢📢

<<End Disclaimer>>

The College offers some Syllogism (Yay Syllogism)🙌 exercises that I think would be really fun as a game.

Let’s get into it. For a more comprehensive list and my source material click this link >>>> link 🔗(wikipedia page for stoic logic if you’re nervous about unmarked links)

Types Of Syllogisms

Name[d]DescriptionModern sequentExample
Modus ponensIf p, then q.  p.  Therefore, q.{\displaystyle p\to q,\;p\;\;\vdash \;\;q}{\displaystyle p\to q,\;p\;\;\vdash \;\;q}If it is day, it is light. It is day. Therefore, it is light.
Modus tollensIf p, then q.  Not q.  Therefore, not p.{\displaystyle p\to q,\;\neg q\;\;\vdash \;\neg p}{\displaystyle p\to q,\;\neg q\;\;\vdash \;\neg p}If it is day, it is light. It is not light. Therefore, it is not day.
Conjunctive syllogismNot both p and q.  p.  Therefore, not q. {\displaystyle \neg (p\land q),\;p\;\;\vdash \;\neg q}{\displaystyle \neg (p\land q),\;p\;\;\vdash \;\neg q}It is not both day and night. It is day. Therefore, it is not night. 
Modus tollendo ponensEither p or q.  Not p.  Therefore, q.{\displaystyle p\lor q,\;\neg p\;\;\vdash \;\;q}{\displaystyle p\lor q,\;\neg p\;\;\vdash \;\;q}It is either day or night. It is not day. Therefore, it is night.
Modus ponendo tollensEither p or q.  p.  Therefore, not q.{\displaystyle p{\underline {\lor }}q,\;p\;\;\vdash \;\neg q}{\displaystyle p{\underline {\lor }}q,\;p\;\;\vdash \;\neg q}It is either day or night. It is day. Therefore, it is not night.

So using these examples I’ll start at the top of the list using a Modus Ponens. If the 1st(p), then the 2nd(q) Therefore q

Modus Ponens Syllogism

If the carton of milk 🐮 is empty then I must go to the store 🛒 for more milk

The milk carton is empty 😱

Therefore I must go to the store 🛒 and buy 💰 more milk

——

Now for a Modus Tollens syllogism.

If the 1st (P) then the 2nd(q). Not the 2nd(q). Therefore, not p

Syllogism Modus Tollens

If your friends dance 🕺 then they are my friends

Your friends do not dance 😕

Your friends are no friends of mine 😰


See how this is much more fun than disclaimers. The logic isn’t always perfect but it’s a pretty useful tool for determining rational thought.

Try a few yourself and if you like them share them with the world by commenting below. Let us know the type of Syllogism you’re using… or let us guess in a reply. Let’s have fun 🎉

And as always if you want to be updated for new games 🎮 and articles 📒 send us an email and ask to be added to the list.

Looking forward to some AWESOME Brain 🧠 BUSTING Logic! I may even throw in comments of syllogisms myself from time to time.

FreeMasons are Jerks and Why the World Needs More

I have a friend……

No… It’s True.

I really do have a friend.

At least around 9 years ago when I was looking into Freemasonry I had a friend.

We talked a little bit about Masonry and I thought it would be a good idea to join the Fraternity.

The lodge I joined has a policy that you must know a mason for at least 6 months before being able to petition.  

Well it turned out there was someone I knew in the lodge that went to the same elementary school I did, same Middle School, and can you believe it?

He went to the same high school.  😱😱😱


Fortunately, he had a good opinion of me and recommended I join the lodge (or unfortunately if you’re going off of this article’s title).  So within a total period of about 7 months  I made a friend, learned about freemasonry, petitioned, got investigated by a few masons, was voted on, accepted and was initiated an Entered Apprentice.   

YAY! 👏👏👏👏👏 

So what does this have to do with Free Masons being jerks you ask?

Well…. Upon being initiated as an Entered Apprentice you’re somewhat told to be on the lookout for other ‘Good Men.’  At least that was something I was told.

I was also told that if there was any doubt in my mind that they might discredit or embarrass the fraternity to say, ‘sorry jack, keep on moving down the line.’ 

Well, I guess that makes some sense…

I was told that the purpose of the organization was to take good men and make them better.

Also, I was told that the fraternity couldn’t take someone who was a ‘bad man’ and make that man into a good man.  

So Immediately

 I could think of a list of people that  I could recommend 

AGAINST.  

(hey…. Where’s the gavel emoji?  I didn’t even know it was missing… First you let me know the possibilities then you censor 🚫 my speech 🚫)

If you could believe it 26 years old and I already had a list of enemies.  

Well… Maybe not soo much enemies as people who had abused my trust, trifled with my emotions, used me as a pawn, or generally been unkind.  

I guess I knew a few Men who had done something like that, but who doesn’t? 

So, at that point, I had two lists growing in my mind.  

  1.  The Men I knew, who I thought would be excellent Masons 
  2.  The Men I knew, who I thought would be TERRIBLE Masons. 

Well, now that settled it.  If any of the excellent Men I knew wanted to know about Masonry I would invite them to a meetup. If any of the TERRIBLE Men asked me about Masonry I’d throw them on a goose chase.  Pretty Simple I thought.

Until a few months later, when I was going through the degrees of Scottish Rite Masonry, I was taught that as Masons we aren’t really the judges of what’s good or bad.  

wait…..

WHAT!?!?!?!?!

But you told me to be on the ‘lookout.’  and if I don’t know who’s a ‘good’ man or a ‘bad’ man

How can I know who to recommend or not?

Ok…. 

So I knew as a Mason I’m supposed to be empathetic. 

 And I get that for the NICE people, but some of these guys in my life were just meanies.    

They were like the Taylor Swift song and I couldn’t picture them any other way.  

Well…. I decided to forgive one of the meanies in my life after going through those degrees, and I didn’t just recontact him…  

No Sir!

I found out he was looking for a place to live and ‘down on his luck.’  

“Well guess what dude!  I’m looking for a roommate could you do 200$  a month?”

“Wow Really?!?  That’s cheaper than what I’m paying right now.  You think I could?” 

“Let me talk it over with my brothers.“

(My flesh and blood brothers, we were living at my parents house at the time while they were out serving as missionaries in Italy)

So I convinced my brothers that he’d be a great roommate 

turns out he was……

 for about a week. 

Ok he might have been ok for longer, but things did turn sour.  

One of my brother’s helped get him hooked up in the extra business.  

Basically he got paid to be in the background of some movies.  

This was all fine and good, he even got a girlfriend out of the deal. 

(The roommate, not my brother)

After paying his first month’s rent he stopped paying anything.  He even started using my brother as a taxi service (Not the one who got him the extra work, who might conveniently already be at the gigs).  

He was having difficulty supporting himself and we were enabling him, by allowing him to live rent free, take portions of our prepared meals and ferry him around.  

Oh boy! 

I had remembered going through a similar experience with him trying to start a business together. 

Why I had cut ties to begin with. ✂️

Then after all the hurt and emotional abuse I endured

From the selfish ignorance of this man….

I convinced my flesh and blood to bring him into our home?

Then sat idly by as he began to use them up the way he had used me up?

Forgiveness isn’t supposed to work this way?  

I had learned something….

….From a Masonic Degree….

One day I overheard him CURSING out my brother for not picking him up

(somewhere less than a mile a way.  Have you heard that you can use legs for walking? 🚶‍♂️)

He told my brother that he was stupid.  

I just hit a breaking point. 😡

I got real emotional, came out of my room and told him that, ‘I wasn’t his friend.’  My brother was always going to be more important to me than him.  I told him that, ‘you can’t use up people the way you are.  My brother is bending over backwards for you doing things you should be able to take care of yourself.’  

Sure my brother could have said no, and probably should have.

But, I also know the kind of person my brother is and that he’ll completely destroy himself trying to help and please others.  He’s the kind of guy you want as a friend if you’re a decent human being.  He, like myself, can have a hard time setting those limits. ⏰  

So I told this guy he needed to move out within the week.  His parents lived nearby and I knew he could go live with them. 

So it didn’t feel like I was exactly throwing him out on the street 🛣️.  

After that emotional spat, he headed into his room and I could hear him sobbing. 

I felt kind of bad.

Especially after ‘forgiving’ him 

But….

 the situation wasn’t helping anyone.  

Now I’ve tried to tell the story in a way that  doesn’t make him sound like a real horrible

SCUM OF THE EARTH 🌎

Kind of  guy, and I probably could make him out that way.

But, the truth is I don’t think he’s such horrible person. 

I haven’t spoken to him since he moved out of my parent’s house some 7 years ago and I am a bit curious as to how he’s doing.  

My truth is that it really was harmful for myself and my brothers having him around.  

Doesn’t make him a bad person, just another person trying to make it in this world like you or me.  But doesn’t make it wise to keep him around.

Since that point of time, which was fairly early in my masonic journey, I’ve been afraid to even think about either of my mental lists 

I figured I had somehow gotten in, that they had thought I was a good guy at the time and now this was just my group.  

So this is where I really get into freemason’s being jerks (if you didn’t catch it already).  I can think of dozens of men I know that would benefit greatly from being masons, and I get along really well with them.  

But my experiences with them and the choices I know they’re making lead me to think that, they wouldn’t be so great for the fraternity.

So do I judge if a man is good enough to be a freemason? 

If by judgement you mean, being selective, than yes.

But more accurately I am judging whether or not he is welcome in my home as a brother.  

I know I’m no judge of whether that man is a good or a bad man.

I don’t even really know  if I am good or bad

I know I try to be good, and I believe that most people desire to be good also

I think interpretations of that sometimes get mixed up

I have to look at the lodge 🏠 as a whole.  

Obviously I know that a Mason must believe in God, and if he worships another God than I do that is fine, but does he respect my belief in my God and will he explore that with me?  Is he someone that I can learn from and provide value for? 

When you know someone to be a Mason there are certain things you should know about him just because he is a Mason. If I doubt your belief in God and your kindness to humanity than I will likely vote against you.

Freemasonry is a charitable organization, but we should not bring charity to whom we decide to join our ranks.  What I mean is we should not allow people through our doors because we pity them, or think that it will help to benefit them.

Do I think all men could profit from Freemasonry?  

ABSOLUTELY !!

Should all men be made Freemasons?

NOT A CHANCE

Because it is not what is best for Freemasonry as a whole 🥧 <<<<(A whole pie)

One of the beauties of the craft is that each lodge is able to operate with a degree of autonomy.  

That level of Autonomy may be different state to state, but with it comes various personalities of lodges.

So if you think someone is not a fit for your lodge, but not necessarily the kind of person that shouldn’t be a mason it’s OK to vote No

I would still invite you to reach out to the petitioner and explain to him he may fit with the personality of another lodge and just because he was voted no by your lodge does not mean he wouldn’t fit in elsewhere.  

In Damascus Lodge #10 we have a requirement that to petition the lodge you must have known a Mason for at least 6 months. We provide multiple opportunities every month for us to get to know you and you to get to know us. By the end of 6 months you’ll know if you’re likely to be rejected because we’ll talk to you about it quietly.

At the end of 6 months you’ll likely know if you’re a good fit for our lodge or not. It may seem like a long time, but it’s relatively short for a lifelong commitment.

So as Freemasons we can be minor jerks when it comes to our membership

And we should be.  

At least in terms of who we allow to join our lodges

When people don’t fit in it’s bad for everybody

It can be a hard conversation

And we need hard conversations  🧱

Might be easy for me to say now as a member

I’m grateful to be a Mason

But…

It’s not for everyone  

If you’d like to know more and see why being a jerk…

may not be so bad

Send us an Email

Ask about our meetups (if you’re in the Utah. Otherwise you can go to the Grand Lodge website for whatever state or country you’re in i.e. google “Ohio Freemasonry.” Contacting them they will get back to you and let you know the closest lodge to you)

We’ll get back to you

And if I were a betting man 💵💵💵

I’d bet we don’t treat you like a jerk 

At all…

I bet we’re real nice 😁😁😁

You let us know if we’re not.

Comments? Questions? Jokes? Want more Articles? Go ahead and write below 👇👇👇

Masonic Meals

By: Ed Mortensen, Secretary

Some of the best fellowship is to be had at meals. There are formal meals and informal meals in Masonry. Some require you to be a Mason; some are for everyone.

The Steward’s Dinner

Every month, before the Lodge business meeting, the Lodge (especially the Stewards) hosts a dinner. For $10, you join members and those investigating the fraternity in a meal usually prepared by a Lodge member.

This is an opportunity for fellowship and finding out more about the fraternity and the brothers.

The Table Lodge

Just for members of the fraternity, this formalized dinner is a combination meal and business meeting.

The format of the meal and meeting differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but is a tiled affair. This means that the event is formally opened under one of Masonry’s degrees and is only attended by members of the fraternity.

Some business is typically conducted, and there are formal toasts as part of the program.

The Festive Board

Not necessarily for just members (although typically so), the Festive Board is another formalized dinner, this time scripted (in Utah) and is a celebration of the craft.

There are typically seven toasts throughout the meal, and these can be with alcohol or other beverage. (It is up to the Junior Warden to remind the Brothers of temperance.)

This meal can be catered or prepared locally, but it is a big deal and should be a feast.

The meal is served in courses and often has an educational feature.

Menus

Meals in the fraternity are a big deal and should be a feast to celebrate the craft.

Damascus Lodge prefers to make these meals ourselves (but we do occasionally cater).

It is tough to really go all out on a budget, but frugal Brothers have often outdone themselves and served a really great meal.

The menu can be as simple as a salad, spaghetti, garlic bread, or as fancy as a crab boil. We have had chicken tikka masala, stir fry, curry, fajitas, Dutch oven fare, and J Dawg style premium hot dogs.

As a Fundraiser

Typically, fraternity meals are zero-sum affairs, but occasionally we go all out with the meal, host a big-name speaker, and charge double to benefit a charity.

There are a few Masonic charities (sponsored by the Grand Lodge Almoner’s Fund, Scottish Rite, Shriner’s, and York Rite) or an “outside” charity.

This can be a Burn’s Supper or other annual events to benefit a tax-exempt community charity.

Charitable Works

By: Ed Mortensen, Secretary

Masonry isn’t just about hanging out as guys and diving into the esoterica of the symbolism of the order; it is also about service and bettering yourself.

One way to do that is to get involved in the community. Not as a recruiting tool, but to be better as a human being and to be of service to our fellow man.

The Master Builder Program

There is an annual award available to Lodges called The Master Builder Program. This is a list of things a Lodge should do to show it is vital and active.

One of the items on the list is service to the community. This service is important enough for the state organization to call it out as a vital activity of a well-functioning Lodge. This is a big hint as to its importance.

Spending Time in the Community

Perhaps the most critical element of charitable works is to spend time in the community.

Some argue that this raises awareness of the Fraternity and is a valuable recruiting tool.

I argue that we aren’t enough about charity to use this as a recruiting vehicle. Community involvement isn’t really what we are about to use as an apt representation of the Fraternity.

Spending time in the community is more about making better men.

Where should this personal time be spent? Well, Damascus Lodge has served breakfast to the homeless community. Here is an excellent example of selfless service.

Another thing we’ve discussed is volunteering at the local Food Bank. This is particularly apt during this time of COVID-19 and the resulting need in the community.

Saint Andrews Lodge keeps up a local Masonic graveyard. Not precisely our target audience, right? But it is service to the memory of Masons that have gone before us.

There are several charities in the community, many of which need bodies to continue their good works.

Spending Money on the Community

Charities also need money to continue to operate. Look at how they spend their money and how much goes directly to their work. Some have such massive overhead that they might not be the most effective way to spend the modest amount of money we have that is available to the community.

One thing Damascus has discussed is, again, the local Food Bank. $500 is a big chunk of our available funds but will go a long way to helping the community. A Food Bank can really stretch a dollar, and it would be money well spent by the Lodge.

Damascus also has something that other Lodges don’t have, the Condie Fund. The Bruce and Katy Condie Fund sets aside up to $6,000 a year to serve the community, $500 from there for a Food Bank is an excellent way to spend that money. The Condie Fund also benefits local college students, especially those related to Masons. Both of these make a significant impact.

CHIP ID and Bikes for Books

Two initiatives by the Grand Lodge are the CHIP ID program and the Bikes for Books program.

Both of these serve the local community.

The CHIP ID program works with local law enforcement to record data like photos and fingerprints of community youth should the worst happen and go missing. Here is a packet of information that parents keep should this ever happen. The cost is relatively low, and a booth can be set up at a local fair. 

Despite the name, this program is not a data chip like that which is injected in a pet. 

One argument is that it raises awareness of the Fraternity, but I argue that that is not the program’s primary value.

The other is the Bikes for Books program. This encourages literacy by entering students into a lottery for each book they read during the school year.

There is much debate in the Lodge about how effective this is, who it really benefits, and how. We haven’t reached a consensus about this, but it is on our radar.

Utah County Taxes

Something that has just come up is that Utah County is moving to start charging property taxes on non-profit organizations’ buildings.

We need to be able to argue that we are doing service to the county’s population and charities if we are going to effectively argue against such taxes.

These taxes are not budgeted for and would either dramatically raise our dues or risk losing our building.

By tracking dollars and time spent in the community, we might prove our value and convince the county to waive these taxes.

This is closely watched by the Grand Lodge since other Counties may follow Utah County to tax our Lodge buildings.

If we spend money on taxes, we have much less to spend in the community.

Extending Charity… To Yourself

By: Lance Card, Senior Deacon, Damascus Lodge #10 F&AM of Utah

Faith, Hope, and Charity. These are the three Masonic Graces most commonly displayed to the Public. Of these three, the greatest is Charity. Often, when we think of charity, our many philanthropic associations come to mind, or the lessons learned in the Entered Apprentice degree are what we focus on. Within this article, I’m going to recommend to you another kind of Charity. A charity is often one of the most difficult to give. Charity to yourself. 

Overcoming the Impression of Selfishness

The thought of applying charity to oneself is likely mistaken as selfishness. Indeed, when the subject of charity is brought up people tend to think of the most common definitions of the word; organizations whose design is to generate money, food, clothing, housing, etc. for people in need; volunteering time, money, or goods to such organizations; even generosity in judgment, a kindness, and consideration of a fellow human being. Each of these definitions is pointedly external in nature. The noble characteristic of charity seems to be solely the domain of the exterior, a gift to others, certainly not to be applied to oneself.

My contention is that without applying charity to yourself, you cannot fully apply it to others and are then thusly incapable of fully and genuinely understanding the principle as it is taught in Freemasonry.

As an organization bent on the singular purpose of guiding good men along the path of becoming better men, we naturally attract those who are subject to introspect. Men who consider their own shortcomings with open and honest eyes truly need the leniency of Self Charity, for there isn’t one amongst us who can claim perfection. Every day brings with it new opportunities to improve, but it also delivers to each of us a laundry list of errors in behavior, thought, and assumption.

A man once said to me when considering joining the Fraternity, “I am already very aware of my failures, why would I want another organization to point them out to me?” Various iterations of this phrase are birthed in the minds of men on a more frequent basis than we are likely aware. We must learn to daily apply compassion, kindness, tenderness, understanding, and gracious forgiveness to ourselves. We must practice Self Charity.

The Power of Self Charity

One changed heart can be a light for many. – L.M. Fields

Our exterior reflects our interior condition. Our spiritual health and growth are equally as important as our physical and mental condition. When our spirit is shadowed and harried by self-deprecation, self-loathing, self-doubt, self-disappointment, or any other negative pallor, such is the ambiance of our character. We exude the paint of our soul. Some call this an aura, some accept it as mood, others still associate this feeling as, “something just isn’t right with that person.” 

When we are light of heart, having forgiven ourselves our shortcomings, we become approachable. We are liberated from the burdens of error, repentant of our mistakes, and painted in warmer, more inviting colors of the soul. People with which we interact are aware of this disposition and are drawn to it. Unladen, we make great strides in self-improvement—markedly so—and this too is recognized by our associations. 

People are drawn to Light, and when we apply Caritas to ourselves, we can glow.

How To Apply Self Charity

A simple concept, Self Charity, yet many struggle against their own minds when attempting to engage in the practice. Dr. Robert Enright, Ph.D., wrote, “Self-forgiveness is not quite the same as forgiving other people, although both have common features. When forgiving others, you struggle to be good to those who are not good to you. When you self-forgive, you offer, perhaps for the first time in years, a love for the self even though you let yourself down by your actions.”

That’s the first step; you must forgive yourself, and this could very well be a daily or even hourly process. Obviously, this is an exercise in and of itself, and there are many books, Ted Talks, and podcasts that cover various methodologies. Compiling information from these different sources results in the following:

  1. Two of the greatest enemies of growth and change are arrogance and ignorance. Zen Buddhists have a great proverb that illustrates this: “Face reality and effortless change will take place.”
  2. Be intrigued by your behavior, emotions, thoughts, and beliefs. Be detectives who explore the mystery of the self. One Ted Talk suggests, when the inner critic starts pounding away, know that your inner nurturer is a refuge and an ally. Observe and note the way that your inner critic behaves and chart courses that lead you around those reefs to the safe harbor of your inner nurturer. You must be the Jane Goodall in your own mind. Make a record of your responses and behaviors, don’t run from them, don’t hide them. You will only overcome through the application of a scientific remedy that nurtures your soul, and you can only achieve this through a scientific process.
  3. Talk to yourself and about yourself, the way you talk to someone you care about. Inner monologues happen all the time. Take control of the monologue, remove the inner critic from the driver’s seat. Try regarding your inner critic as something that lacks credibility—imagine it as a ridiculous character, like a silly cartoon villain. Argue against your inner critic to win. 
  4. Recognize that beliefs do not equal truths. Beliefs and feelings better serve you as supporting characters in your play of life. Too often, human beings allow their feelings and their beliefs to drive their actions and words when the better method is to establish a position from logic and develop your ideas from this position. When you do this—again, debating against the inner critic—you begin to see truths, and these truths win over self-condemnation.
  5. Embrace the concept of “good enough.” Perfection is the domain of deity. Yes, striving for perfection is admirable, but to think you can attain it in this life is foolish. Inventory your strengths and learn to accept compliments. The next time someone compliments you, try saying, “thank you,” and stop there.

    Years ago, I was designing websites for a living. The company’s sales team was very adept at selling these sites, and we were extremely backlogged. The expectation was to have five designs accepted by clients every day. Coming from a more traditional approach to design, I scoffed at the idea. Then, it was pointed out to me that the nineteen-year-old who sat behind me was doing nine to ten designs a day that was being approved by the clients. Keep in mind, this is just the design stage, no coding or programming yet. The secret? Settle for “good enough” and let the client either approve it or guide me to an approval. Once I accepted this concept, I was designing and having accepted fifteen to sixteen a day. I’ve applied this concept to other aspects of my life, and it has been advantageous.
  6. If you hate yourself for mistakes you made, make amends. Psychologist and self-compassion researcher, Dr. Kristin Neff, Ph.D., explains: “Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings. After all, whoever said you were supposed to be perfect?” Self-hatred is often focused on the past—a painful moment or emotion like shame or guilt, anger or embarrassment, or a sense of powerlessness. In that space, there is no room to forgive ourselves or embrace who we are.

    Do your best to stay in the present and focus on how far you have come. This may feel uncomfortable or different, but over time, it will help you to decrease self-hatred and gain self-compassion.

    If you have people in your life who always remind you of your past failures, it is time to trim the fat. Remove them from a position of influence. If necessary, remove them from your life.

Have you heard of the term, gamify? 

gam·i·fy

/ˈɡāməˌfī/

verb

verb: gamify 3rd person present: gamifies past tense: gamified past participle: gamified gerund or present participle: gamifying

apply typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to (an activity), typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.: “I like to gamify parts of my life to keep things fun” “to really gamify the process, you’d need to equip the cameras with guns.”

To keep myself on track, I’ve gamified my life. Each night during self-assessment, I review my behaviors, thoughts, and words as far as I can remember them and, based on a simple scoring system, determine what level of Manliness I achieved for the day. Boy, Dude, Guy, Man, or Gentleman. Do what you need to do, but take action today. Even if you don’t think you are hard on yourself, you may be surprised once you start observing.

Summary

The purpose of Freemasonry is to provide a means by which good men can become better men. We do not actively recruit. We do not invite. We are an advertisement. We are the recruitment office. If the office lights are out, everyone will think it closed. To keep the lights on, practice Charity on yourself.

The Educational

By: Ed Mortensen, Secretary

The educational is the purview of the Senior Warden. It is up to the Senior Warden to arrange for speakers for Lodge meetings and nights of education like our Gordian Academy.

What goes into an educational? Well, a speaker can talk on any interesting topic, but here are a few ideas and my thoughts:

The Manly Arts

We had a speaker talk about Men’s Health once. Very interesting, but that’s only one man-related topic. A speaker can talk about anything that is man-related: the history of the beard, shaving, being a father or husband, or how to have a good workout and stay healthy. The website “The Art of Manliness,” Meditation, the psychology of the lie, or just about anything.

Esoterica

Another series of topics we have had has been on Masonic symbols and the mysteries of the fraternity. These can be monitorial or secret and are often best served up in a tiled meeting of Master Masons.

Masonry

There was a conference on “Masonry in the Future.” The conference was a bust, but the germ of a great idea was there. What will Masonry look like in the future? There are some cutting edge practices already in existence: virtual Lodges, social media, computerization, and modernization.

And what about Masonry in the past. One interesting topic is fees. How much did it cost to become a Mason in the past, and what were annual dues in the 1800s? What was a Lodge meeting like, what about the Steward’s dinner? Did they drink? What did they talk about and the like?

No-Nos

And what should an educational not be about? 

Our immediate past Master has a thought on this: They shouldn’t be thinly veiled promotions of appendant bodies: no recruiting. I would add that they should not be calls for fundraising… The Masonic Services Association is a significant cause, but an educational should be (and was recently) a discussion of their excellent work alone.

The Speaker

The speaker can be from the host Lodge, but a good Lodge is already a platform for their ideas, and they should be discussed weekly. A good speaker comes from outside of the Lodge, perhaps even from out of the State.

Think published authors, regular members of a podcast, business leaders that have brought business rigor to Masonry, and the like.

Look around the jurisdiction for speakers. There is already a move to form a catalog of speakers and their expertise. This needs to be used and fleshed out. So if you have a couple of topics that you are expert in, sign up.

Time

A guest speaker addressing a Lodge meeting should only take 15 to 20 minutes, in my opinion, 30 at the outside. But that doesn’t stop you from having a dedicated night where a good speaker regularly takes 30 to 60 minutes at a dinner or an event like our Gordian Academies.

Media

And lastly, think outside the box. Bringing in an out-of-state speaker is expensive, with airfare and lodging. We’re talking about having a virtual speaker remoting in over the Internet and projected on a screen with a sound system to fill a meeting room remotely. For a fraction of the cost of flying someone in, you can pay, say $100, for a top-notch speaker, and they can attend from the comfort of their own home office.

10 Reasons Why You Can’t Be A Freemason

So, you want to be a Freemason. Let me tell you why you can’t. 

1. You’re Looking for Fame and Fortune

The idea that Freemasons rule the world, that you can gain untold wealth and power within the Fraternity, that Masonic connections will get you ahead in life is tripe. Anyone who attempts to enter our organization for any of these purposes will be sorely disappointed if they can even get past the initial interview.

Do we offer wealth untold? We certainly do, although not of the kind you’re probably thinking. Our wealth is that of knowledge. Knowledge of self, to be precise. Knowledge of the Universe. Knowledge of moral ideas and philosophies unburdened by religion and politics. Wealth unmatched and of far greater value than gold or credit.

2. You’re Too Lazy

Freemasonry takes work and if you don’t put your time in, you won’t receive your wages. It is a profession, a career, that takes up time and energy. To be a Freemason, you cannot coast by—you should not! The wages to which I refer are not given in charity though Masons espouse that great attribute as the greatest of all. 

To think that you may enter an esteemed organization such as ours and not contribute is ludicrous. Nothing of worth is delivered without a price and work is required to honorably earn that which is of worth.

3. You Don’t Have The Time

Time is a commodity that is precious and should never be traded for worthless pursuits. Thus it is with Freemasonry. To be a Freemason, one must dedicate time to the endeavor. In some instances the time committed is minimal. In others, it is consuming. Although Freemasonry is never to interfere with your necessary vocations, duties to God, your family, or your neighbor, you must still practice and work. 

The development of your mind and consciousness requires that you devote time, and time devoted to improving oneself is never wasted.

4. You Don’t Want To Participate

Freemasonry does not need an audience. Participation is key to everything in Masonry. If you aren’t a person who can engage in the work, the brotherhood, the quality growth of the Lodge and Freemasonry in general, you’ve no business being a part of this austere organization. 

Engaging in Masonic activities includes behavior outside the Lodge when you are required to represent the Fraternity to the Public. Engagement within the Lodge includes actively participating in Masonic education and filling in roles where you will best serve the Lodge. Freemasonry should benefit from your participation as much, if not more than you benefit from being a Brother. Selfish pursuits aren’t welcome.

5. You Don’t Have A Belief in A Supreme Being

This is a mandate of our Fraternity and will not be overlooked under any circumstance. A belief in a supreme being means that a person may be bound to their moral obligations. You are holding yourself to a higher standard of honor and integrity because God is always watching, He is always present, and you are not to disappoint the Supreme Architect of the Universe. Trust in a Brother is paramount to brotherhood and this trust extends to the knowledge that your Brother isn’t going to misrepresent the organization, reveal any of its secrets, or take advantage of another Brother. 

6. You Have An Ego

Everyone has some ego. Without Ego, you wouldn’t be able to accomplish much in life. But I am not referring to your self-esteem when I say that Ego isn’t welcome in Freemasonry. The part of Ego that I’m referring to is a desire for power, unworthy advancement for the sake of title and prestige, a position of absoluteness that your opinion should reign supreme, or that you deserve more than the respect that is due all men.

We meet upon the Level and that equality extends beyond the walls of our temples and buildings. Humility, open-mindedness, and the charity of acceptance are what is required.

7. You Can’t Accept The Landmarks and Tenets Of The Fraternity

Freemasonry is an ancient and honorable organization that is steeped in tradition both in ceremony and practice. We stand for Good, Morality, Dignity for All, and all of our ceremonies are designed to promote the education of these attributes in Men. These traditions may seem cumbersome to those who have no patience for the historical conventions of our forefathers but to a wise man, the ceremonies and modus operandi found within our halls are ripe with lessons. If you cannot respect the landmarks and tenets of Freemasonry, you might as well look to a different organization for membership.

8. You Think Freemasonry Is A Chauvinistic or Racist Organization

Speaking of tradition, there are some very real misrepresentations of Freemasonry in existence even within recognized dispensations. Along with these misrepresentations which suffer from a misunderstanding of landmarks made by past and present cultural leaders exists misconceptions about the reason traditional Lodges do not allow women to be members. If you perceive our intentions to be chauvinistic or exclusionary for the sake of bias, you are sorely mistaken in your ignorance. 

If you’ve been made aware of Masonic Lodges where minorities are not welcome, know that these are a misrepresentation of Masonic Law. Immoral and ignorant cultural tradition has been cultivated within lodges who should not be able to claim the venerated association with mainstream Freemasonry. These are in dire need of restructuring and their jurisdictions should be fast about that work.

As for our reason for not allowing women admittance into the Fraternity, the word Fraternity should be a decent enough explanation. Men and women are different creatures, not that one is better than the other for without one the other is left wanting by nature of the divine plan. Each desire and needs to spend time with their own sex; a scientifically proven fact that supports the idea of same-gender, platonic time for the improvement of a man’s health, mind, soul. 

Is Freemasonry entirely exclusionary of females? No. There are many appendant bodies that include women, focus on the excellence that is women, and promote the well-being and growth of the female spirit. And while, at one time, the reasoning was likely due to the ignorance and self-importance of men as well as restricting social roles, it is now upheld in traditional Freemasonry purely out of respect for the concept of fulfilling the needs of its members. Guy’s time where like-minded men can get together and philosophize, engender morality, and influence its membership in good and just ways.

9. You Don’t Understand The Difference Between Our Fraternity and Greek Fraternities

Perhaps you believe the jokes and misconceptions surrounding Freemasonry that involve goats and a lot of alcohol. If so, you’ve been influenced by anti-Masonic propaganda designed to injure the highly-regarded reputation of our organization from people who were jealous of membership or hateful of members. Such is the absurdness of these concepts that Masons have taken to sarcastically joking along with society rather than defending the Fraternity.

Colleges have adopted the concept of Fraternity from the ancient craftsmen fraternities wherein apprenticeships and sponsorships assisted in establishing skills and careers. Unfortunately, the rash and brazen nature of youth have caused the reputations of these Greek Fraternities to become seriously tainted. Movies, news stories, books… they have all painted this picture of college fraternities and sororities in a negative light. 

Freemasonry is not a Greek Fraternity. Established in a time where being a part of a guild or fraternity was one of the main ways to gain a proper education, Freemasonry has kept its purpose, moving past the practice of Operative Masonry and focusing its efforts on the merits of Speculative Masonry for all good men who wish to become better men.

Alcohol distribution at the lodge is prohibited and though sobriety is left to the individual concern of each Brother, drunkenness is highly discouraged and frowned upon within the Fraternity. One of our charges is to “avoid all intemperance and irregularities that may impair one’s faculties or debase the dignity of your profession.” The profession to which this is referring is that of being a Freemason. Once again, this alludes to maintaining the respectable image of Freemasonry both inside and outside of the building.

Note: Rules about alcohol consumption and sales within Lodges vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. All jurisdictions that I’m aware of do not allow alcohol within a Lodge while at work.

10. You Have No Desire To Improve

If your sole purpose to join Freemasonry revolves around the potential for social interaction, partying, playing games, and “hanging out” then you’ve come to the wrong place. While Brotherhood does involve many of those activities, the primary purpose of Freemasonry is to provide education, culture, and associations that will assist a good man in becoming a better man. The very slogan that is presented to the public in so many forums and from so many platforms is “Making Good Men Better.” So if you are not interested in improvement, do seek another organization. 
In summary, as an organization, we accept individuals who have determined longevity in the pursuit of self excellence, service, and the gaining of knowledge. Freemasonry is not a career for the average person. We require the cream of the crop, quality men who esteem their God, their families, and themselves enough to work at becoming the men that the Supreme Architect of the Universe has planned for them to become. Are you that man, or am I right in telling you that you cannot be a Freemason?