Last night was Lodge of Instruction, and I gave a talk on the 47th Problem of Euclid, and its masonic significance. Here's a link to the paper I submitted along with my talk (Warning: this links to a PDF. If you click on the link, you will download a PDF document with my paper). I thought it went over really well. It's tough to explain mathematics without a blackboard, but the paper uses a diagram, and I had the brothers look at the diagram while I explained what it meant.
I really believe in Lodge of Instruction. Like so much of contemporary Freemasonry, it's a beautiful structure waiting for really dedicated brothers to fill it the way it deserves to be filled. Our brothers of centuries past gave us something so beautiful, so profound and permanent, and it is up to the current generation of masons to breathe life into it and make it glow. In the words of Rabbi Hillel: "If not me, who? If not now, when?"
Last week, I took a class with the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts that enabled me to register as an Official Instructor for Lodge of Instruction, and last night I taught about the Fellowcraft degree to five Fellowcrafts from my mother lodge. I love talking about symbolism and its meaning, and it was quite a challenge to cover as much as I could in a brief span of time before I was to give my talk. In my talk, I feel like I rushed through the detail; I figured those who were interested in the little details could read the paper I submitted.
I like the idea of masons submitting papers for the general edification of their brothers. We all have something to teach, and something to learn. My dream is a Lodge of Instruction that meets twice a month, once for the masons and degree candidates who want to learn their degrees, and once for the general public. Even though the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts holds two open houses a year, I don't believe the general public understands what we do or why we do it. A talk open to the public once a month on issues of general interest (with a masonic theme) would help the public understand who we are without us thumping our chests in an undignified manner. It would definitely encourage men in the community to learn about us, but it would also provide education and entertainment in a world that seems starved for it. Next year eight lodges will share Lodge of Instruction, and we will meet in the Arlington Masonic Apartments, a building with a beautiful lodge room, a few lovely sitting rooms, a wide-screen TV with Xbox, pool table, and a large dining room upstairs. I bet very few of the neighbors even know what's inside the building. And only one lodge meets there. If the public talks were sufficiently interesting, we could fill the lodge room with people, have a lovely festive board beforehand, and share some masonic light with the whole community.
In my grandfather's day, everyone know what a Freemason was. Today, there's far more misperception than understanding. I don't advocate vulgarizing the fraternity, but we could have more of a community presence than we do. We are treasures of the community, and if we are collecting dust in an attic somewhere, then maybe it's time we brushed off the dust, polished ourselves up and shined with our old luminosity.
Militant atheists like Richard Dawkins try to create a false polarity between themselves and religious fanaticism, claiming that reason is exclusively on their side. They go as far as to claim that reason and religion are mutually exclusive. It's a lie, and an insulting lie. Freemasons provide the balance between reason and spirituality that our culture sorely thirsts for. I'm not even anti-atheist (although I don't want to sit in Lodge with an atheist), but it's not the only remedy for fanaticsm and superstition, nor the best one. While I agree that silence and circumspection are truly masonic virtues, I wonder why previous generations understood that masons revere a worship of the Deity tempered with the highest reason, and today nobody seems to know that such worship exists.