Two Good Reads
A short address given by WBro Nigel Friggens immediately after installation as Master on 5th August 2013
Greetings Brethren and welcome. I will try not to detain you for too long as the hour is late but traditionally at the installation meeting of the Hawke’s Bay Research Lodge the Master gives an address.
I will take the opportunity to briefly talk about “Research” in Freemasonry, and to introduce a minor change to our regular format. In doing so I will recommend two books that I have found very useful, so I have entitled this address “Two Good Reads”.
Freemasonry is basically a Fraternity, but one with high ideals. Our history, traditions, symbols and the allegories we use need to be “RESEARCHED” in order to gain a better understanding of their meaning – otherwise why be a Freemason? Any number of different clubs or organisations could satisfy the fraternal function.
Last year Bro Jim Logan, as Master, instigated a visiting education format whereby the research lodge accepted invitations from sister lodge’s and he used a simple question and answer format as a stimulus to encourage discussion about masonic matters. I am very supportive of this continuing.
In addition, I would specifically like to promote our research lodge’s regular meetings which are held in November, February, May and August as something worthwhile for all Master Masons to attend. I am aware from my own journey that a new Mason can feel out of their depth and may think that such evenings are not for them … I believe that we should do everything we can to reverse this false view, encourage attendance and encourage participation.
In the first degree, before the obligation is taken, using the elaborate and high sounding formal language of the ritual, the Master says of Freemasonry ... “it is founded on the purest principles of piety and virtue, and possesses many great and invaluable privileges; …”
We might well ask “what are those privileges”?
In Chambers’ Questions and Answers he lists six of them, the last, but I venture not least, being “the opportunity of joining a Research Lodge and hearing and reading Masonic lectures” (p19, 1972 edition).
So this is my first recommended read - I know that many people present will be familiar with this book but how often do we recommend it to new brethren? This New Zealand 1972 publication is available from the library (along with hundreds of other books) and contains at least the starting point to any of the questions a newly raised mason may have and probably many answers to questions he hasn’t yet thought about. There is nothing wrong with using this resource in research lodges or your own lodges and more experienced members will enjoy seeing newer members discover hidden nuances or inner meanings and contradictions.
Of course, in today’s connected world it is possible for anyone to “research Freemasonry”. And they do. The internet provides information and misinformation so it is perhaps even more important that new Masons take an active part in research lodges and discuss these matters to test what is truth and what is falsehood and what is speculation. On my classroom wall at work I have a poster of Abraham Lincoln with this famous quotation - Don’t believe everything you read on the internet just because there is a picture with a quote next to it! Not many of my students actually realise, until it is pointed out, that Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, one hundred years before the first research into packet switching took place, and he could not possibly have made this quotation!
The other book I would like to recommend I have as a free download on the “Kindle App” of my smartphone. It’s called Morals and Dogma of the Antient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry by Albert Pike. He wrote this magnum opus in 1871 when he was sixty-two years old.
It just so happens that last month, when attending the installation of WBro Ray Arnold as the Master of The Heretaunga Lodge, I noticed a quotation from MWBro Albert Pike on the inside cover of the programme:
Above all things let us never forget that mankind constitutes one great brotherhood: all born to encounter suffering and sorrow, and therefore bound to sympathise with each other.
By typing in the first few words I was able to use the search facility of my smart phone and find the exact place where the quotation was taken from (Page 152 from the lecture on the 11th degree of the Antient and Accepted Rite).
The book itself is basically a collection of thirty-two essays which provide a philosophical rationale for each of the degrees of the Antient and Accepted Rite of Freemasonry …the first three of which correspond with the first three degrees of Craft Lodges. I think that this book would be of great interest to those people who want to glimmer some deeper interpretations of masonic symbolism.
Google also told me that a new version of Morals and Dogma for the 21st Century was published in 2007 – there is even a YOUTUBE clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xofelswmU6s promoting it.
In addition I also found out that Albert Pike was an American attorney, a Confederate officer, a writer, a poet and a Freemason and that there is a statue of him in Judiciary Square in Washington DC. I also discovered several dubious or false allegations and a hoax letter attributed to Albert Pike ... You can’t believe everything you read on the internet!
The main purpose of me sharing this with you is to introduce the change to the format of our proceedings alluded to earlier. I want you to imagine that at our last regular meeting I had just delivered a lecture on Albert Pike. You know the one – he wrote Morals and Dogma of the Antient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. Hopefully I didn’t drone on too long and, afterwards, someone who was listening intently asked the question.
“What is the Antient and Accepted Scottish Rite and does it exist in NZ?”
Now, many people present may be able to give an instant answer to that question but this is not the point. We ask for a volunteer, preferably a newer member, to go away and research an answer and deliver it three months later at our next regular meeting. Of course, all the brethren present at that meeting will have had the opportunity to do their own research to this question, so when the answer is delivered an interesting and inform discussion might ensue.
There is one further twist – after giving his prepared answer and dealing with subsequent discussion, the volunteer brother gets to put his own question and we ask for another volunteer.
We are now going to hear the answer to this question as prepared by our Junior Deacon, Bro Ron Barrett, who would have been present at that hypothetical meeting, after which he will propose his question and we will select a volunteer.
Answer prepared by Bro Ron Barrett, now our Senior Deacon …
The Antient and Accepted Rite
A rite is a series of degrees that are conferred by various Masonic organisations which operate under a central authority.
This rite is known around the world under various titles such as the Antient and Accepted Scottish Rite, the Scottish Rite and here, in New Zealand, it is known as the Antient and Accepted Rite Rose Croix of New Zealand or among masons as “Rose Croix”. The term “Scottish” is derived from the French “Ecossais”, which, without regard to historical truth, was ascribed to degrees an antiquity which it did not merit by attributing to it a by-gone origin or preservation in Scotland.
The governing of the Antient Rite is called a Supreme Council and the first to call itself so was formed in Charlestown, South Carolina. From this Councils were set up in Ireland (1826), England (1845) and Scotland (1846). In 1875 the first New Zealand Chapter was formed at Greymouth under the authority of England and Wales. The New Zealand Supreme Council was established on February 12, 1994.
The Rite consists of thirty-three degrees. The first three degrees of Craft Freemasonry are accepted as the first three degrees of this rite. The fourth to eighteenth degree are conferred on candidates in a ceremony known as the Ceremony of Perfection. The fourth to seventeenth degrees are given either by name or by a very short ceremony. The eighteenth degree is called Princes Rose Croix of Heredom and this degree is performed in full when the candidate is perfected.
Beyond this once a brother has been in the chair (where his title is Most Wise Sovereign) he can progress to the thirtieth degree and then onto the thirty-first and the thirty-second degree. The thirty-third degree, or that of Inspector General, is restricted to rulers’ equivalent to district/regional grand masters.
The governing body in New Zealand is the Supreme Council 33o and is restricted to nine members. Today there are approximately fifty Chapters under its banner, four of which have accomplished over one hundred years of service.
The aim of the Order, which is Christian in character and practice, is to provide a duly qualified Master Mason with the opportunity to extend his participation and enjoyment of masonry. Rose Croix is claimed by some to be the most dignified and beautiful degree experienced in Freemasonry.
Rose Croix Booklet - published 1949: R S Lindsay, Grand Secretary General, Scotland.