Monthly Archives: April 2012

PM’s Table Lodge

This past Saturday we visited Harry S. Truman Lodge #1727 for a 3rd degree Past Master’s Lodge and a Table Lodge that followed.

Harry S. Truman Lodge #1727 on the Grand Rolls of Scotland. Located in Noyang-ri which is near Pyeongtaek, South Korea.

The day started fairly early. We eventually got to the lodge building after having a taxi driver drive us around in circles.

Well, now that we're all here..

The 3rd degree was for one of their brothers and they were also doing courtesy work for Tommy, who had been waiting patiently to finally get raised.

Bro Tommy goes over his memory work for the fellow craft proficiency.

Brian, the other brother, had already proved himself on the 2nd so he was fairly more relaxed.

Bros Tommy and Brian eagerly wait in the SE for lodge to open. It is a good day to die!

Once everyone arrived, the PMs started preparations to open the lodge.

Bro Kevin makes sure that everyone's phone is turned off right before lodge opens.

Being a Past Master’s lodge, only people who’ve sat in the East were allowed to bear offices and give lectures, so the rest of us relaxed and enjoyed the proceedings on the sidelines.

Take it easy bros, the PMs have this one taken care of.

I’ve been to that lodge room several times, for our own lodge and for Royal Arch, but this was my first actual visit to H.S.T. so I was presented in the West and was welcomed with a lodge pin.

H.S.T.'s pin on the left, and our pin on the right. Who says size really matters anyways? Oh right, about every other girl.

One of our RWM’s goals for this year was to connect more with the other lodges in Korea. So we opted for a traveling gavel and brought it to the PM’s lodge.

Nice box! Oh, and the case for the gavel is nice as well.

The gavel was presented to the RWM of H.S.T. and was well received. Hopefully it doesn’t stay in one place for too long!

RWM Jordan reluctantly accepts the traveling gavel from Bro Dennis.

After the presentation, Bro Tommy proved himself on the 2nd or fellow craft degree. Immediately we went to refreshment in order to prepare for the 3rd degree.

From labor to refreshment.

After a few drinks and smokes, everyone piled back into the lodge room to start the degree.

And back into labor.

We did a 3rd degree in H.S.T.’s lodge room back in January and I just have to say, when everything is put together the aesthetics are nothing short of mesmerizing.

Do I really need a caption here? The photo speaks for itself.

The PMs put on a great degree and the lectures were also well delivered.

Congratulations Bros Brian and Tommy. About freaking time!

Now that the PM’s lodge was finished, we could move on to the Table Lodge.

Practicing the drills for toasts.

One of the interesting things about a Table Lodge, is that you need to remember to keep your glass on a piece of tape which stretches the entire length of the table. If you move your glass off the tape, it means you want to address the Master.

Better than a line of Vegas Showgirls.

After getting enough practice in, It was finally time to eat.

Come and get it!

At long last, the labors being done nothing now remained but to stuff our faces, self-inebriate and feel fairly satisfied.

Them's some good Filipino vittles.

After dinner, RWM Pete gave a great lecture about the 3rd degree tracing board.

Hurry up Pete, we wanna go back to drinking.

After a great lecture, it was harmony time. So naturally out came the scotch.

Share much, Bro Jim?

And the cigars..

Bro Tommy enjoys a celebratory Monte Cristo, while EA Victor tries to sweet talk some newly obtained secrets out of him.

It was decided to vote on which lodge would be the next host and receive the traveling gavel. So there were 4 glasses for 4 lodges and whatever lodge received the most money in their glass would be the next host. Congratulations Pusan Lodge!

Careful you don't get your drink confused with the money there, Bro Jim.

We were also selling raffle tickets for our summer charity and managed to squeeze some Bros for money.

I don't know about you, but I'd love a big flat screen for my pad.

We even managed to get in a few rounds of some favorite games of ours.

The dice game. Feelin' lucky?

We also had a friendly game of poker, mixed in with some high-low.

We're either playing Hold'em or High/Low. Gotta tell you, High/Low is a great way to make back your money after losing it in Poker.

This was certainly a night to remember, and I’m sure everyone will be talking about it for weeks to come.

At that moment I honestly couldn't think of any other place that I would rather have been.

Big shout out to the photographer of the day, Bro Danilo. I always enjoy his photos.

Please don't leave Bro Dan. Well, you can leave but your camera stays.

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ROK Yo Frat

There was an event on Yongsan Garrison Friday night for fraternities and sororities that are masonic in nature. RWM Pete and I caught wind of it just by chance a couple days before while we were driving to McDonald’s and this woman was on the radio was advertising it.

Our lodge is primarily made of civilians so we needed a little help getting on base. Here's us waiting at the gate. Poor Pete looks a little frazzled.

The event was put on by the Order of the Eastern Star, but there were also people representing Knights Templar, Royal Arch, Prince Hall, Daughter’s of the Nile, the Shrine, Scottish Rite.. even the Ancient Order of the Turtles!

May I take your "order?"

It was a really good thing to be able to network and to make new connections.

This is my good friend, Jen. She was a member of Rainbow Girls, Job's Daughters and Daughters of the Nile but she never quite made it to Eastern Star. She got connected right away and hopefully it won't be long before she becomes a member! And since I'm also a member of the Eastern Star, I'll be able to go to her initiation and support her!

And of course, we came out and represented Han Yang in full Scottish style.

As Han Yang brethren, Kevin and Neal know exactly what's expected of them.

I even got to experience my first Soul Train. The DJ was playing Billy Jean, but since I can’t moon walk I just grabbed my crotch and did my thing. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. Someone from Eastern Star even told me that I  represented my order quite well. Some people network through conversation, I guess I do it through dancing.

Some really great line dancing, though I failed miserably at it.

At the end of the night, we all got initiated into the Ancient Order of the Turtles. I’ve always wanted to be a member! I can’t wait to get my dues card in the mail.

Are you a turtle?

All in all, it was a great opportunity to connect with other brethren who we actually haven’t had that much contact with. I really hope this is the start of a beautiful friendship. Sorry for the cliche, but that’s how it is.

Everyone was just so warm and friendly. As it should be.

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Business Meeting and Burn

Last night was a stated business meeting, followed by harmony at Burn.

A classy place for a classy bunch.

Normally we have harmony at the Seoul Club, but since it was election day in Korea, the club closed early. Burn is a real classy cigar bar in Itaewon on Kyungridan Road that we’re all rather fond of, so we decided to have harmony there.

I love the look and feel of Burn. It also smells amazing in there! The aroma just from the walk up to the 2nd floor is so inviting.

My good friend and brother Neil did his proficiency test for the 1st degree and passed with flying colors. We had met earlier in the day just to go over things.

Well done bro. Have a cigar.

We also signed and donated a copy of Freemasons for Dummies to the bar. If you’re ever there, look for it!

A great read for anyone interested in Freemasonry.

There’s nothing like a good cigar, a glass of scotch, chicken nuggets and a great group of brothers to enjoy it all with.

*drool* Hey! You're fogging up the glass!

Special thanks to our visitor Seung (hopefully not a vistor for much longer!) for supplying the chicken. It was real tasty.

RWM Pete leads us in one of many toasts.

Burn is a bit pricy, but definitely worth it when you have the dough to spend. Thank God I just got my overtime pay!

Romeo and Juliet with an 18 year old Macallan. Nice.


Brother Isaac and the Winding Stair

Whenever I think of  Isaac Newton, I’m always reminded of the winding stair.

Here’s a man who dedicated his whole life to learning:

An English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been “considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived.” (Burt, 2001)

Not only did Newton study the sciences of mathematics, astronomy and physics, but he also studied the arts of philosophy, theology and even alchemy.

As Freemasons, we learn that the winding stair represents the self-improvement of our intellect and moral or spiritual character:

The candidate, then, in the second degree of Masonry, represents a man starting forth on the journey of life, with the great task before him of self-improvement. For the faithful performance of this task, a reward is promised, which reward consists in the development of all his intellectual faculties, the moral and spiritual elevation of his character, and the acquisition of truth and knowledge. (Mackey, 1882)

Isaac the Freemason

Although it’s never been confirmed that Newton was indeed a Freemason, it has been established that like all masons, he focused on morality, progress, personal development, intellectual enlightenment, and communitarian values. And like Freemasons, he also drew inspiration from the wisdom of the ages and from thinkers and writings from many cultures, both sacred and secular:

Today, we tend to make a distinction between science and faith, but to Newton it was all part of the same world. He believed that careful study of holy texts was a type of science..

..So he learned how to read Hebrew, scrolled through the Bible and delved into the study of Jewish philosophy, the mysticism of Kabbalah and the Talmud – a compendium of Jewish oral law and stories about 1,500 years old. (Heller, 2012)

He could read Hebrew? Just what exactly was this man studying? Apparently Newton felt the ancients had a secret “truth” that he had to get in on. More precisely, the secrets of Mathematics and Architecture:

Newton felt that just as the writings of ancient philosophers, scholars, and Biblical figures contained within them unknown sacred wisdom, the same was true of their architecture. He believed that these men had hidden their knowledge in a complex code of symbolic and mathematical language that, when deciphered, would reveal an unknown knowledge of how nature works. (Christianson, 2005)

So, Newton studied the architectures of many ancient civilizations not excluding, of course, King Solomon’s Temple:

Newton believed that the temple was designed by King Solomon with privileged eyes and divine guidance. To Newton, the geometry of the temple represented more than a mathematical blueprint, it also provided a time-frame chronology of Hebrew history. (Gardner, 2007)

In 1728, the year after Newton’s death, his book “The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms” was published. In it, he dedicated an entire chapter describing King Solomon’s Temple. Here is an excerpt regarding the winding stair:

The upper rooms were treasure-chambers; they went up to the middle chamber by winding stairs in the southern shoulder of the House, and from the middle into the upper.

Issac Newton's Diagram of King Solomon's Temple

This man had studied the entire temple, top to bottom, in all its proportions – right down to the tiniest detail. Just a couple of months ago, Israel’s national library, an unlikely owner of a vast trove of Newton’s writings, digitized his theological collection – some 7,500 pages in Newton’s own handwriting – and put it online. I actually managed to dig up an editorial note he wrote about the winding stair and let me tell you, it sounds like he has it down to a science:

Editorial Note 1

As far as the second in the door of their cage and went on to the door of the temple, that he was going through the doors of the exterior and the interior in the space between, and gate them. In the same wall thickness, we enter the winding stairs in the corner of the house where the door led into a small chamber in the middle of the fifth in the final for the fourth in a corner of the temple toward the east and north Talmud describe the five doors. From thence the chamber into the second from the first in each of the plates, we enter by the door into the midst of the rest of the wall and in like manner successively from the second in the round about. And these are the things that describe the Talmud.

In 1675 Newton annotated a copy of “Manna – a disquisition of the nature of alchemy”, an anonymous treatise which had been given to him by his fellow scholar Ezekiel Foxcroft. In his annotation Newton reflected upon his reasons for examining Solomon’s Temple by writing:

This philosophy, both speculative and active, is not only to be found in the volume of nature, but also in the sacred scriptures, as in Genesis, Job, Psalms, Isaiah and others. In the knowledge of this philosophy, God made Solomon the greatest philosopher in the world.

Needless to say, Newton was trying to investigate the true meaning of the temple’s architecture. As Freemasons we are also taught, through general knowledge of architecture, to be investigators of truth:

In the investigation of the true meaning of every masonic symbol and allegory, we must be governed by the single principle that the whole design of Freemasonry as a speculative science is the investigation of divine truth. To this great object everything is subsidiary. The Mason is, from the moment of his initiation as an Entered Apprentice, to the time at which he receives the full fruition of masonic light, an investigator–a laborer in the quarry and the temple–whose reward is to be Truth. All the ceremonies and traditions of the order tend to this ultimate design.

Advancing in his progress, the candidate is invited to contemplate another series of instructions. The human senses, as the appropriate channels through which we receive all our ideas of perception, and which, therefore, constitute the most important sources of our knowledge, are here referred to as a symbol of intellectual cultivation. Architecture, as the most important of the arts which conduce to the comfort of mankind, is also alluded to here, not simply because it is so closely connected with the operative institution of Masonry, but also as the type of all the other useful arts. In his second pause, in the ascent of the Winding Stairs, the aspirant is therefore reminded of the necessity of cultivating practical knowledge. (Mackey, 1882)

And like Freemasons, Newton realized the great lesson of using all reason, will and emotion, all sense and matter, all art and science, as steps by which to ascend to the sanctuary of truth:

He indeed had a deep interest in esoteric truths of the ancient past and in enlightened individuals with the ability to gain insight into nature, the physical universe, and the spiritual realm. (White, 1999)

In 1664, during his college years, he authored Quaestiones Quaedam Philosophicae (Certain Philosophical Questions) in which he wrote “Amicus Plato, amicus Aristoteles, magis amica veritas,” which means “Plato is my friend, Aristotle is my friend, but my greatest friend is truth.”

Isaac the Alchemist

It should be noted that Newton studied, and in a way, disproved alchemy. During his lifetime there was no clear distinction between alchemy and science. Newton’s writings suggest that one of the main goals of his alchemy may have been the discovery of The Philosopher’s Stone, a material believed to turn base metals into gold. His efforts, of course, were unsuccessful:

It first came to public attention when John Maynard Keynes purchased a large collection of Newton’s alchemical papers in 1936 and subsequently described Newton as “the last of the magicians . . . , the last great mind which looked out on the visible and intellectual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intellectual inheritance rather less than 10,000 years ago.”

Not even Newton could do the impossible. He learned a great deal from alchemy about chemistry and experimental technique, but he never found the philosopher’s stone or turned base metals into gold. (Johnson, 1997)

As Freemasons, we are taught that the winding stair is wearied by toil and confronted with many difficulties, so Newton’s failure is no surprise. He came to the realization that divine truth, as we all know, cannot be obtained in this world or in this life:

 Is there a loss of something that had been promised? That loss is typical of the failure of man, in the infirmity of his nature, to discover divine truth. Is there a substitute to be appointed for that loss? It is an allegory which teaches us that in this world man can only approximate to the full conception of truth. (Mackey, 1882)

Although Newton’s studies of alchemy were unsuccessful, the substitute for that failure was that his interest in the field led to some of his better known contributions to science:

Had he not relied on the occult idea of action at a distance, across a vacuum, he might not have developed his theory of gravity. (Westfall, 1980)

Isaac the Philosopher

Newton, by William Blake; here, Newton is depicted critically as a "divine geometer"

Newton is considered to be one of the greatest scientists of all time, but he was also an influential theologian who applied a scientific approach to the study of scripture, Hebrew and Jewish mysticism. He saw God as the masterful creator whose existence could not be denied in the face of the grandeur of all creation, and that the ordered and dynamically informed universe could be understood, and must be understood, by an active reason:

I had an eye upon such Principles as might work with considering men for the belief of a Deity. Such a wonderful uniformity in the planetary system must be allowed the effect of choice. For while comets move in very eccentric orbs in all manner of positions, blind fate could never make all the planets move one and the same way in orbs concentric, some inconsiderable irregularities excepted which may have arisen from the mutual actions of comets and planets on one another, and which will be apt to increase, till this system wants a reformation. (Newton, 1687)

Just as Newton pictured himself as a curious boy on a shore, discovering smoother pebbles and prettier shells, with an undiscovered ocean of truth before him, so too as Freemasons do we picture ourselves ascending the winding stair with inquiring minds, discovering new ideas, while the unseen reward of truth awaits us at the top:

Now, the attainment of this moral and intellectual condition supposes an elevation of character, an ascent from a lower to a higher life, and a passage of toil and difficulty, through rudimentary instruction, to the full fruition of wisdom. This is therefore beautifully symbolized by the Winding Stairs; at whose foot the aspirant stands ready to climb the toilsome steep, while at its top is placed “that hieroglyphic bright which none but Craftsmen ever saw,” as the emblem of divine truth. And hence a distinguished writer has said that “these steps, like all the masonic symbols, are illustrative of discipline and doctrine, as well as of natural, mathematical, and metaphysical science, and open to us an extensive range of moral and speculative inquiry.” (Mackey, 1882)

Through his research and theories, Newton was much rewarded in his later life. He was a member of Parliament, President of the Royal Society, Master of the Royal Mint, and most notably, obtained knighthood. These however, were nothing compared to the approximation of divine truth he spent an entire lifetime achieving. When he finally died, he was at peace with God and his epitaph read:

Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in night;
God said “Let Newton be” and all was light.

So too as Freemasons, are we rewarded for our achievements throughout life. But the greatest reward of all, through learning and understanding, is being just within reach of that knowledge of the nature of God and man’s relation to him. We cannot attain full understanding and “light” until we have passed from this world to the next:

It will be remembered that a reward was promised for all this toilsome ascent of the Winding Stairs. Now, what are the wages of a Speculative Mason? Not money, nor corn, nor wine, nor oil. All these are but symbols. His wages are TRUTH, or that approximation to it which will be most appropriate to the degree into which he has been initiated. It is one of the most beautiful, but at the same time most abstruse, doctrines of the science of masonic symbolism, that the Mason is ever to be in search of truth, but is never to find it. This divine truth, the object of all his labors, is symbolized by the WORD, for which we all know he can only obtain a substitute; and this is intended to teach the humiliating but necessary lesson that the knowledge of the nature of God and of man’s relation to him, which knowledge constitutes divine truth, can never be acquired in this life. It is only when the portals of the grave open to us, and give us an entrance into a more perfect life, that this knowledge is to be attained. “Happy is the man,” says the father of lyric poetry, “who descends beneath the hollow earth, having beheld these mysteries; he knows the end, he knows the origin of life.” (Mackey, 1882)

As Freemasons, we know that the winding stair has a dual interpretation, divine and human. The reason why Newton’s life is emblematic of that is because not only did he study the sciences, which constitutes human knowledge, but also philosophy and theology, constituting divine knowledge. And like the winding stair, his life also teaches the great lesson to use all reason, will and emotion, all sense and matter, all art and science, as steps by which to ascend to the sanctuary of truth:

The Middle Chamber is therefore symbolic of this life, where the symbol only of the word can be given, where the truth is to be reached by approximation only, and yet where we are to learn that that truth will consist in a perfect knowledge of the G.A.O.T.U. This is the reward of the inquiring Mason; in this consist the wages of a Fellow Craft; he is directed to the truth, but must travel farther and ascend still higher to attain it. (Mackey, 1882)

The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion on an intelligent and powerful Being.

—Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727), Principia (1687)

Burt, Daniel S. (2001). The biography book: a reader’s guide to nonfiction, fictional, and film biographies of more than 500 of the most fascinating individuals of all time. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 315. ISBN 1-573-56256-4., Extract of page 315

Mackey, Albert G. (1882). The Symbolism of Freemasonry., XXVI. The Legend of the Winding Stairs.

Heller, Aron. (2012). Israeli library uploads Newton’s theological texts., Jerusalem (Associated Press).

Christianson, Gale E. (2005). Isaac Newton. Oxford University Press US. p. 144. ISBN 0-19-530070-X.

Gardner, Laurence (2007). written at USA. The Shadow of Solomon: The Lost Secret of the Freemasons Revealed. Originally published: London : HarperElement, 2005: Weiser. p. 146. ISBN 1-57863-404-0.

White, Michael (1999). Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer. Da Capo Press. p. 117. ISBN 0-7382-0143-X.

Johnson, Phillip E. (1997). What Would Newton Do?. Copyright (c) 1997 First Things 87 (November 1998) 25-31.

Westfall, Richard S. (1983) [1980]. Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 530–1. ISBN 9780521274357.

Newton, Isaac. (1687).  “Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica”.

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