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Turning the Keys with Dr. Robert Lomas

March 9, 2008 Leave a comment

Few modern Masonic authors can generate the kind interest that follows Dr. Robert Lomas. Beginning with “The Hiram Key” and followed up by another half dozen books on the history and symbolism of the Craft, Dr. Lomas has offered up some interesting – and controversial – theories and ideas about the evolution of symbology and the meaning of the symbolic language underlying Masonic rituals and ceremonies.

On Sunday, March 9th, he called us from his home in England and joined Bro. Heath Armbruster of Saskatchewan, Canada for the second The Working Tools podcast. Masonic Media Mogul Cory Sigler (of The Working Tools magazine and social networking site), Justin Budreau (Masonic web designer) and I had a fascinating two hour conversation with Dr. Lomas on topics ranging from the Kirkwall Scroll, to Masonic symbols, to the evolution of symbolism, to Sir Robert Moray, to the inconveniences of tele-presentations. Chris Hodapp joined us partway into the program, asking his usual insightful questions.

Bros. Lomas and Armbruster worked together to create an interesting DVD on the history of Masonic symbolism which they are selling in order to raise money for several Masonic charities. Dr. Lomas gave several lectures which were compiled into a presentation for The DVD, which is selling for $15 Canadian. Anyone interested can contact Bro. Heath at lomasdvd@kinghiram104.com for more details. If the 2 hours Dr. Lomas spent with us is any indication, it will be an excellent addition to any Masonic library.

We should point out that Dr. Lomas, himself, has just published a new book called Turning the Templar Key in which he discusses the meaning of the rituals and ceremonies of the Knights Templar and relates them to modern Freemasonry.

The Talkshoe format worked flawlessly, allowing five or six of us to talk to each other by telephone from various countries and time zones. We were joined by about a hundred real-time listeners, a dozen or so of whom registered in order to use the IM feature. Many of them had excellent comments and questions, some of which were addressed by Dr. Lomas himself.

You can listen to the show (Episode 2), or download the MP3 file for your iPod or other player at The Working Tools channel.

Death by Blog Meme

July 19, 2007 1 comment

Getting tagged with a blog meme is a love/hate thing. On one hand, since most of them are left-over teenager “Truth or Dare” games, they’re a PITA. On the other hand, if nobody ever tags you, then you start to feel left out. Proof that some of us never seem to leave junior high school.

Anyway, Chris Garlington over at my new blog discovery (and not un-ironically named) “Death by Childrengot sucked into agreed to play along when he was tagged by themolk and decided to spread the misery over here. This is an interesting meme because instead of asking for your favorite ice cream flavor or to pick random embarrassing fact about yourself, this meme has one pick five posts that you feel identifies, or gets to the core of your blogging. For me, this is interesting because this blog barely even has five posts; I started this as an offshoot of my Masonic blog, The Tao of Masonry, when I started getting the itch to write about things that are a bit off the Masonic path. With that in mind, I’m going to list posts from both blogs.

In no particular order:

Marriage, Memorial Day, and the Kobayashi-Maru
For anyone who’s ever gone shopping without a safety net.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation – Part 2
I’m not crazy about flying. But I certainly prefer flying to falling out of the sky.

Auntie Em! Anti-M!
In which I finally admit to the secret world-wide Masonic konspiracy.” (One of my favorite posts)

Guarding the West Gate
Was Freemasonry really better in the “old days”?

Master of My Domain
What I did wrong – and how it was okay in the end – as Master of my Masonic Lodge.

I’m not sure if these are my best writings, but I think that they are all good examples of what I’m trying to do here.

No blog meme is complete without the tagging, of course, so I’m picking on:
Burning Taper, Pagan Temple, John Ratcliff, Chris, and Christian Ratliff
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Categories: Blogging, Freemasonry, Humor, Memes

Laugh with the Sinners or Cry with the Saints?

July 8, 2007 Leave a comment

Thanks to Southern Knight, I realize that I am Lustful.

Oh, wait – my wife has been telling me that for years.

The Dante’s Inferno Test has banished you to the Second Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Level Score

Take the Dante’s Divine Comedy Inferno Test

Take the Dante’s Divine Comedy Inferno Test

Level Score
Purgatory (Repenting Believers) Very Low
Level 1 – Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers) Very Low
Level 2 (Lustful) Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous) Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious) Moderate
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy) Moderate
Level 6 – The City of Dis (Heretics) Very High
Level 7 (Violent) High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers) Very High
Level 9 – Cocytus (Treacherous) High

Take the Dante’s Divine Comedy Inferno Test

Second Level of Hell

You have come to a place mute of all light, where the wind bellows as the sea does in a tempest. This is the realm where the lustful spend eternity. Here, sinners are blown around endlessly by the unforgiving winds of unquenchable desire as punishment for their transgressions. The infernal hurricane that never rests hurtles the spirits onward in its rapine, whirling them round, and smiting, it molests them. You have betrayed reason at the behest of your appetite for pleasure, and so here you are doomed to remain. Cleopatra and Helen of Troy are two that share in your fate.

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Categories: Freemasonry, Hell, Lust, Memes, Religion

Unfamiliar Books Meme

June 6, 2007 2 comments

Although less frequently than a few years ago, I still read in the print media diatribes from columnists about the inanities of blogging; these generally take the form of bemoaning the idea that blogs are no more than online diaries, and wondering who would want to read the idle musings of so many people.

Ignoring the inherent irony of little-known newspaper columnists filling up space with their own idle musings, it’s amazing how much the blogging world has grown in the last few years – fueled in no small part by the proliferation of free blog hosts such as Google (the owners of Blogger), WordPress, Live Journal, Typepad, and any number of lesser known services. Bloggers search for others with similar interests, thereby forming virtual communities (and if you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re interested in the online Freemasonry community). Along with blogging communities comes a desire to know a little more about those who write alongside of you, and bloggers are known to pass along various online tests and quizzes to others in the community.

Reminiscent of those games that most of us have played in grammar school, they take the form of “What five pieces of music would you take if you were stranded on a dessert island?” or “Write five random things about yourself” or “Take this scaled down MBTI and tell us your personality profile,” these quizzes have become known as “memes,” from the concept proposed by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins (not to be confused with this guy…) of passing on cultural and social information in much the same way that genes pass on genetic information. Memes are usually frivolous fun – many of us enjoy taking online tests (even when we know what the result will be) probably for the same reason that we read the horoscopes: we always enjoy hearing good news about ourselves. Often, one takes a quiz and then asks (or dares) several other bloggers to do the same.

Not many memes get passed around in the Freemasonry community, partly because it’s rather small; my own blogroll lists fewer than 45 blogs at the moment, many of which are updated infrequently. Offhand, I’d say that maybe ten or fifteen of us write with any regularity, while a few more are active, although posting interesting articles culled from other sources. Compared to the numbers of blogs of those oriented toward politics, entertainment, culture, sex, or business, Freemasonry is a particularly small community, indeed.

This is a long lead-in to my own response to being “tagged” by Movable Jewel with an interesting meme. Less frivolous than some, the meme asks you to describe three books that others may not be familiar with and tag five people.

My first pick is Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco. Yes, a lot of people have heard of it, especially after Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code” was compared to it; but few people have actually read it. Like other Eco books, it’s filled with descriptive prose, fantastic insights, and more esoteric trivia than should be allowed. There is a reason that Eco is has been called “the most popular unread author;” I can’t tell you how many people have told me that they picked up the book, got several chapters into it, and put it back down. It says something about my mental state that I’ve read it several times.

At the other end of the scale, I’m a huge Thorne Smith fan, and rarely go a summer without re-reading “Topper Takes a Trip.” Smith’s books all have the same format: a middle-aged man in a rut and feeling hemmed in by societal pressures suddenly finds himself in embarrassing situations over which he has no control, and eventually learns that he can only control his reaction to the situations. “Topper” (who met some errant low-plane spirits in the previous book) is vacationing on the Mediterranean with his stodgy wife and several stodgier society types, when he is re-visited by these ghosts. Poignant hilarity ensues. While a very, very tame version of Topper was a short-lived TV series in the early 60s, Smith’s books were bawdy and risque, no less so because they were written 80 or 90 years ago.

Several of my brothers have mentioned such Sci-Fi greats as Robert Heinlein, Douglas Adams, and Robert Anton Wilson. Since this is supposed to be about little known books, I’m going to mention one of my favorites: Cordwainer Smith (no relations to Thorne). “The Best of Cordwainer Smith” was published in 1975, but contained mainly his short stories from the late 50s and early 60s, many of which were published in such pulps as Galaxy or Amazing Science Fiction. The stories were typically set thousands of years into the future in which an overcrowded Earth sent out colonists to planets, or in which populations lived in crowded dystopias under the watchful eyes of hidden rulers. Omniscient computers, genetically enhanced animals, and creatures living at the edge of our dimensions filled the pages of his stories, most of which were less predictive than eerily surreal.

And to complete this, I’m tagging:
Horseshoes & Handgrenades
the Trestle Board
Excelsior Lodge Online
Lodgical
Dispatches from Maine

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Categories: Blogging, Blogroll, Memes
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