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Masonic Service Association of North America

Emessay Notes July 2014

Emessay Readers Debate Influential Masons

In May, when this newsletter published a list of Masons who had been judged to be the "most influential," it stirred some strong thoughts among our readers.

Please note:  This was not a Masonic Service Association list, nor a Masonic-created list.  It was written by Business Insider in its online edition on March 21 and indicated that "influential" meant "in society," not necessarily "in the fraternity."

We will not re-print the entire list, but it is available for reading on May 2014 Emmessay Notes.

"First and most egregious is the omission of John Marshall from the list," wrote Martin Perfit, of Hampden, Maine.  Marshall, a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Virginia, had a distinguished career, including being Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.  "Second," Brother Perfit continued, "was relegating Andrew Jackson to 'Honorable Mention.'" He quoted research that says that Jackson "influenced the development of the modern presidency more than any other president."  Brother Jackson was a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee.

Ronald M. Goldwyn, of Milford, Connecticut, noted that Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) should not be considered on the list, because, even though he was a Mason at one time, he chose to be dropped from the rolls for non-payment of dues from his Connecticut Lodge, which "puts him just above being expelled from the craft."

Dr. James D. Kemp, of Sandpoint, Idaho, contends that Franklin D. Roosevelt should have been on the list.  He led the country out of the Great Depression and was elected President a record four times, among other accomplishments.  In referring to this oversight, Brother Kemp said, "Someone was asleep at the switch."

Another famous Mason from some 300 years ago should have been on the list, according to James E. McNabney, of Highland, Indiana.  John Theophilus Desaguliers, the third Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England in 1719, "not only converted the most famous and the most intelligent men to Masonry, he influenced the greatest of men to convert to the great truths of the Enlightenment." Brother McNabney, author of "Born in Brotherhood," concluded, "I personally think he is the most influential Mason ever."

A couple other comments involved removing certain names from the list altogether.

What Is A Lewis?

The stonemason's "lewis" – not as familiar of a Masonic concept in North America as it is elsewhere in the world -- is a device used in raising and lowering stone blocks during building construction.

The lewis involves the use of a tripod and a pulley arrangement to lift heavy stones.  The precise purpose is to allow the hoisting chain of the tripod to raise the stone and then lower it into its exact final position, which would not be possible if chains, or ropes passed underneath the stone.

Clearly, the lewis may be regarded appropriately as a symbol of strength – a double symbol, in as much as its name has been given to the son of a mason, his duty being to bear the burden and heat of the day so that his parents may rest in their old age.

The double symbolism is mentioned in some old catechisms.  What do we call the son of a Freemason?  A lewis.  What does that denote?  Strength.  What is the duty of a lewis to his aged parents?  To bear the burden and heat of the day.  His privilege for doing so?  To be made mason before any other person, however dignified by birth, rank or riches, unless he, through complaisance, waives this privilege.

(Freemason, the official journal of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory, September, 2013.)

An Editorial On Ritual From An Iowa Brother

Recently we conferred a Third and a First Degree here at Black Hawk Lodge.  All the degrees we do here are awesome to watch and participate in.  They give us a sense of accomplishment, candidate and officer/participant alike.

Ritual is a great thing.  It shows the candidate/brother that we try our hardest to show him the story of our great fraternity.  It shows him the passion we have for it.  I would like to think that it imposes a bit of wanting in him also.  Wanting to learn it for himself.  Wanting to be able to perform what he just witnessed and was part of.

It was a while ago, but I remember the proud moment when I was asked to arise and salute the Wardens as a Mason.  The first time I was called Brother was emotional also. The person taking our obligations is excited, nervous, anticipating what is next at every degree.  We try to instill a feeling of peace, but for all of us that have gone through it, it doesn't happen.

Remember back on your degrees.  Remember the electricity in the air around you. Remember who was there when you completed the Third Degree. Was there family?  Maybe your father?  Friends?  A few fellas from the neighborhood you had known since you were kids?  Remember how appreciative you felt when you saw all those people.  I would like to ask all of you reading this to consider going to degrees.  Sit in the stands and when the moment comes, help the Worshipful Master bring our brother from darkness to light.

-- S.D. Brother Tim Butler,
("The Light," publication of Black Hawk Lodge #65, Cedar Falls, Iowa, June, 2014.)

On The Lighter Side

Here are some actual blurbs from church bulletins:

  • For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
  • Next Thursday there will be try-outs for the choir.  They need all the help they can get.
  • Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church.  So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
  • At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be, "What is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.

(From an article in "Masonic Temple Topics," March, 2014, reprinted by the Southern California Research Lodge, May, 2014.)

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