Home > Freemasonry, management, masonic, planning, Uncategorized > What Would Hiram Do?

What Would Hiram Do?

I was reading some of the other bloggers, and two recent posts jumped out at me because they lead to a similar issue. In the blog Within Due Bounds, blogger J. Roberts admits to having been a rude driver, and gives a few thoughts on acting “Masonically”. In The Burning Taper, “Widow’s Son” mentions a humorously titled post on yet another blog, and is called to task for it when someone asks “What does that have to do with Masonry?” WS answers that “A True Mason can not compartmentalize his life…” These posts led me to revisit a topic that I wonder about occasionally.

As Masons, can we ever really be “off duty”?

I’m not talking about our obligations to respect the laws of our Grand Lodge or to not reveal the secret entrance to the sub-levels of the Denver Airport complex. I’m talking about those rough edges on our personal ashlars and whether or not we choose to smooth them a bit every day, or to ignore them and hope that years of erosion and other frictions will do it for us.

Elsewhere I’ve mentioned that I’ve noticed small changes in the way I act and react to people and situations. I’m sure that part of this is just plain old “growing up”, something one would hope that any man of for(*cough* *cough*)ght would have been doing. But I’m aware of this on another level as well, not just an awareness that I’m more mature, but a meta-awareness that I often check my actions and reactions against some ideal that I’ve begun to internalize. That is to say, I now have an “awareness” that I am a Freemason, and I find that this adds a layer of conditions against which I monitor myself. But here’s the difficult part for me to answer: Am I actually monitoring myself as myself, or am I monitoring myself against some blueprint that is not actually real?

Yes, I’ve been reading too much Zen lately, why do you ask?

At some point, I started thinking to myself that because I had such a high regard for our institution that I wanted to be the best person possible, if simply to not bring dishonor to the fraternity. Back when I joined, that was actually a motivation for many of the things that I did, in fact, perhaps because joining was a new thing for me, and at the time I didn’t feel that I had much to else offer. Now, though, I rarely think about it – at least, not in the sense that I say to myself “Oh, I’d better not do that, I’m a Mason now.” I don’t think about it – at least, I don’t think I think about it – because I’m too busy simply working to make myself a better person to worry about what I’m supposed to be doing on behalf of the fraternity – if anything.

Back on 2003, our Grand Master at the time, the Most Worshipful “Chip” presented all of the lodges in Conn with a 3/4 length mirror, upon which were stenciled at the top: “Take a look at yourself – YOU are someone’s impression of Masonry.” Those so inclined to pause at those mirrors for a moment of reflection would often make the expected little jokes, but used to I wonder how many men walked away honestly contemplating the impressions that their attitudes, actions, and demeanors have made on people – family, friends, cow-orkers, and those people who really didn’t know anything about them except that they wear the S&C logo decoder rings.

The mirrors also made me wonder about how we judge our own impressions of ourselves. Some of us join the Craft because we like the idea of being historically associated with famous historical persons. Others joined because of family members, and others to make business or social contacts, or because of the esoteric ideals. When men with those motivations pause for reflection, do they judge themselves by the number of contacts they’ve made, or by the number of books about arcana that they’ve read?

More importantly, though, I now realize that maybe what I need to do is to define what “Masonry” is to me, before I can worry about what kind of impression I’m making on somebody else.

  1. July 3, 2006 at 6:17 pm

    You make a good point, esp. in the last paragraph. We need to make sure we are doing this for ourselves, through which we can benefit others. I try to avoid punching an Masonic checklist of “dos and don’t’s.” It should be an internal impetus to act (or refrain from acting).


  2. July 3, 2006 at 6:20 pm

    …An by “doing this for ourselves,” I mean that we are seeking genuine self-improvement, not merely a superficial change for the sake of change.


  3. July 4, 2006 at 2:14 am

    Widow’s Son: “A True Mason can not compartmentalize his life…”

    An excellent point, thanks for quoting that.


  4. July 4, 2006 at 11:57 am

    JR – I sometimes think that we, as Masons©, sometimes get so wrapped up in the lodge hubbub (dinners, fund raising, programs) that we sometimes lose the messages of the charges given to us at the end of each of the degrees. Why do we join this organization and not, say, the Elks or Rotary? The Freemasons have a long reputation for fostering self-improvement. Why do we sometiems forget this?

    ACR – That is really the essence of the question. Are we ever really “off duty”? Is there anything that we do not or can not approach that we do not view in terms of our obligations and charges? And if you can think of any, then why?


  5. July 4, 2006 at 11:58 am

    This post has been removed by the author.


  6. July 5, 2006 at 10:02 am

    Tom Accuosti said…
    join this organization and not, say, the Elks or Rotary?

    Why not all three plus the Lions, Civitan, Kwannis and who have I left out?

    They serve different purposes. While at first glance we might all appear similar as “civic groups” and some overlap undoubtedly occurs; there’s more to each than that.

    TA goes on to ask:” Are we ever really “off duty”?

    Only when we slip.


  7. July 5, 2006 at 10:31 am

    There still needs to be checks and balance. As some say we are only human. The phrase do unto others as you would have them do unto you should be elementary today. But I’ve noticed an atmosphere of infallability if one has progressed through the chairs or orders. A belief that recieving “further” light makes ones actions right no matter what. It seems some leave their masonic ideals at the door of the temple and pick it up again when they leave. The gavel is supposed to symbolize the control of ego. Ego is what makes people become possesive of an art(?) that will be here after they are long gone. I like the idea of the mirror, because I feel too many Masons today have removed them from their own homes and are never checked anymore.


  8. July 5, 2006 at 11:22 am

    TC – I’m not sure what you mean about “leaving their masonic ideals at the door”. With that in mind, though, it seems that perhaps instead of a miorror at the lodge room, perhaps more of us should have that mirror in our houses – or perhaps that expression emblazoned our our rear-view mirror in the car.

    I think that the culture of our lodges tends to exemplify PMs as men who have some authority, if only because they’ve been there and done that.

    ACR – I dont’ belong to any other civic or social group. I can barely answer why I decided to become a Mason; I don’t really know what makes people join the other gourps, much less what makes them devote time or energy to one of more of the others.


  9. July 5, 2006 at 12:22 pm

    Tom Accuosti said…
    I don’t really know what makes people join the other groups, much less what makes them devote time or energy to one of more of the others.”

    Geography; their friends, sometimes they just enjoy it.

    There those that seem to have a “volunteer gene” of some sort. (ie: “Joiners”)

    Those with a high enough activity level will notice some of the same people at multiple functions in a year. There’s substantial overlap between fraternal groups, churches, politics, etc.

    The whole thing can be easily witnessed at the Southington Apple Harvest Festival where one might see someone working one booth on Friday, helping set up the parade Saturday and working another booth on Sunday. It’s quite common actually.

    The above withstanding, Masonry is different; it’s deeper, older and difficult to otherwise quantify. While it might appear to be similar to other fraternal organizations it just isn’t.

    Masonry tends to become part of who the individual is as opposed to what it is he does.

    I suspect most Masons would know what I mean, while the average onlooker would be baffled.


  10. July 5, 2006 at 12:46 pm

    Bro. Tom,

    Thanks for another enlightening and entertaining post. You’re blogging some of the most humorous-with-a-point Masonic stuff in cyberland these days. Next time I’m flying into Denver on the Masonic One, please meet me at Sub-Level 23, Blue section, for a secret handshake and a cold brew.

    You make a good point, that each Mason has his own internalized image of what a Mason is, and how he should act. Sometimes those two images — what a Mason is and how a Mason should act — are at opposing ends of the spectrum.

    Or a Brother has blocked off in his mind certain actions as unMasonic, and others as okay. For example, he may be high-and-mighty moral about and against, say, pre-marital sex but wholeheartedly support race segregation (these are real examples, by the way — one brother was almost blackballed when he first petitioned because he lived with a woman he wasn’t married to, or so a PM un-Masonically shared with me one day).

    Here’s a funny — sad but funny — tale about, hmm… it’s about the guy in the previous paragraph, actually, and another PM as well. If you’ve read the BT article called “The Masonic Ambush,” you’ll know what I’m talking about. After that bizarre episode, an angry Worshipful Master summoned all involved to a Saturday morning meeting.

    At that meeting, the above-mentioned PM stated, “If he speaks [referring to the Junior Steward, who’d been a Mason less than a year but had more Masonic qualities IMHO than any other six men in our lodge, who attended this meeting] I’m leaving.”

    Then, another PM on the ambush squad, a title-chasing know-it-all 25-year career Mason in both the Blue Lodge and the Royal Arch, condescendingly said to the Junior Steward, “You don’t know what Freemasonry is all about.”

    The junior officer began to reply, and when he did so, the first PM stood, slammed his metal chair against a table (we were in the dining hall), and stomped out.

    I guess we all defined what we thought Masonry is that day.

    Widow’s Son
    The Burning Taper


  11. July 5, 2006 at 9:48 pm

    Next time I’m flying into Denver on the Masonic One, please meet me at Sub-Level 23, Blue section, for a secret handshake and a cold brew.

    WS – Even though Denver is Coors country, make mine a Rolling Rock. Hint: 33 is a number with deep meaning in Masonic ritual majick. 😉

    Again, I have to say that your experiences are so different from my own that it’s like we’re not part of the same fraternity.


  12. July 6, 2006 at 10:45 am

    You wrote: “Again, I have to say that your experiences are so different from my own that it’s like we’re not part of the same fraternity.”

    I know. I thought I was joining your fraternity, not the Southern Baptist-Klan hybrid that passes for Freemasonry in the South.

    Here’s an interesting webpage that talks about various possible reasons for the 33 on Rolling Rock. None of them seem very magickal; I wonder if any of them are true.

    Widow’s Son


  13. July 6, 2006 at 10:59 am

    My cousin used to live out there, and dated the daughter of one of the RR execs. More than once they would head into the back of the brewery and get a few sample kegs, and chill it down with dry ice on the way to a party. I just drink it because of the “33”.

    And there were 55 words in the previous paragraph, not counting the “33” – 5 being a number with great important Masonic significance.

    And with the above paragraph (including the numbers), there are 77 words, 7 being the deepest and most mysterious Masonic number of all.


  14. July 6, 2006 at 12:01 pm

    “Even though Denver is Coors country, make mine a Rolling Rock

    Ordering anything other than a Coors in much of Colorado is considered suicide for chickens.

    A late member of your mother lodge was #2 at a division of Coors, answering only to Joe himself, for years.

    Pete Coors in fact bought me my first carbonated soft drink when I was 4 and he was 8. We were guests of our dads at the Golden bowling alley.–>


  1. November 7, 2006 at 11:29 pm
  2. June 24, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: