On The Level Podcast

Exploring the Fellow Craft Degree: A Deep Dive into Masonic Symbolism and Misconceptions

January 27, 2024 Christopher Burns Season 2 Episode 13
On The Level Podcast
Exploring the Fellow Craft Degree: A Deep Dive into Masonic Symbolism and Misconceptions
On The Level Podcast
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Embark on a journey through the heart of Freemasonry as we unlock the enigmatic beauty of the Fellow Craft degree, a step in the Masonic path often shrouded in misconception. Our latest episode offers a deep dive into the intricate symbolism and profound teachings that make this degree a linchpin of Masonic tradition. With carefully chosen anecdotes and insights, we illuminate why this stage of Masonry is far from mundane, revealing the demanding memorization and substantial educational content that resonated so deeply with me on my own Masonic journey.

As we traverse the rich landscape of Masonic lectures and architecture, we cast a light on the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns, showcasing how these ancient structures parallel the strength, wisdom, and beauty we strive for in our lives. This episode isn't just an exploration of Masonic rites; it's also a candid discussion about the misconceptions that often cloud the public's understanding of our craft. We confront these with a blend of truth and tact, inviting an open dialogue steeped in respect and the pursuit of knowledge.

Finally, we grapple with the profound implications of equality, leveling, and mortality, as taught by Masonry. We examine how these concepts influence not only our Masonic practice but also color the way we approach our daily lives. By contemplating the Masonic tools of the square, level, and plum, we glean lessons on moral and ethical instruction that are as relevant today as they have ever been. As we conclude, it's with a heart full of gratitude for the support and engagement from you, our listeners, that has made this podcast a beacon for those seeking to understand the subtleties and significance of Freemasonry. Join us as we continue to share, learn, and grow in brotherhood and enlightenment.

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Speaker 1:

Hey, chris, yeah, fred, what's a Mason?

Speaker 2:

That's a really good question, fred.

Speaker 1:

You've reached the internet's home for all things masonry. Join Chris and I as we plumb the depths of our ancient craft, from the common gavel to the trowel. Nothing is off the table, so grab your tools and let's get to work. This is On the Level. Well, we are back, chris. How you doing bro.

Speaker 2:

Hello, yeah, I'm great, doing great Back into the 80s again here in Florida.

Speaker 1:

I thought you meant the 1980s.

Speaker 2:

Wow, no, I don't have a DeLorean. Yeah, delorean, with the flux capacitor and all that.

Speaker 1:

I wish, yeah, I wouldn't go back to the 80s myself. No.

Speaker 2:

Maybe somebody would.

Speaker 1:

No, no, not a great decade for your host, fred.

Speaker 2:

No, it's a simpler time.

Speaker 1:

I would say, though, I did have hair back then, lots of it, it was beautiful.

Speaker 2:

Well, maybe if you go into the future, you could have hair again. Science, you know. You never know. Yeah, that's. That could be like a 90 year old dude with a full head of luscious, beautiful hair.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, too far, too far, too far brother. Well here we are with episode number. Yeah, the numbers.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we realized in editing that we sometimes record episodes over the ones we thought we were going to publish, so the episodes we recently may not match what you're hearing us say this is episode right now. Yeah, so Current.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, current episode no number and we're not going to have numbers anymore, brothers out there, so They'll have numbers, we just won't say them. We're not going to say the numbers, that's right, that's right, because I don't know that makes us look dumb and well yeah, we don't want to look dumb Any number.

Speaker 2:

That we don't want to let that secret out. Yeah, oh Lord.

Speaker 1:

So I'm I'm excited about today's topic. We're going to jump into the degree of fellow craft. As you guys know, out there, we did do EA shows one and two. Whoops, well, we did they were episode yeah, I don't know what episodes they were, but there was a part one and a part two yes exactly, so it's likely to be a part one and a part two of of this one as well for the fellow craft degree. I thought, chris, that we could start off. I would read read a paragraph from GL 205, which is the the Grand Lodge publication concerning the fellow craft degree. When, as as anybody from Florida knows, when you go through your fellow craft degree, one of the last things I would read is that you gave it a blue booklet as well as your, your code, your Masonic code book. A little white book, a little green in this case.

Speaker 2:

Oh, little green.

Speaker 1:

Well, I was White first ones green, a little green book. Yeah before you. Then get your big red book. We like colors, we do.

Speaker 2:

I'm blue green in this one White, green and red.

Speaker 1:

I think that's the Italian flag, isn't? Probably right on, Uh, uh. Fidum bum shh yeah whoa, alright, fellowcraft degree man. I thought I'd read a paragraph or two from the manual, but wait, I'm sure they only speak good things about this degree, right, it's just telling us what an awesome degree this is and how your socks blown off Well let's find out shall we. Alright. The fellowcraft degree stands sharply contrasted to the entered apprentice degree and master Mason degrees. In the first degree the candidate is moved by a sense of novelty, for it is his first experience in masonry, an experience, moreover, that is full of rapid action. The third degree, he has long heard about. He knows it will bring his initiation to its climax in a dramatic and particularly moving uh, particularly moving being particularly moving and powerful. Also, it marks the end of his journey and empowers him to consummate his membership. Set between the two, the second degree seems to suffer by comparison. It does not grip the emotion like the third, nor does it stir with the freshness of novelty of the first. It is likely to become a mere halfway station, a necessary but somewhat dull bridge from an exciting point of departure to a thrilling destination. Much in the degree itself appears to bear out this impression. One portion of it carries the candidate back to a certain unexpected, unexpected happenings of a fourth of a four thousand year old. Sorry about that, uh guys. One portion of it carries the candidate back to a certain unexciting happenings of four thousand years ago. Another has for its background the uninspiring school curriculum of an early of the early Middle Ages. And third, its most prominent feature sounds like a dry academic lecture delivered by an eighteenth century school master of rationalistic learning.

Speaker 2:

How could they talk that way about the fellow craft lecture?

Speaker 1:

I'm telling you, man, this is brutal. Since it gives this impression, it is not surprising to discover that fewer lodges, fewer, fewer lodge members attend confurals of it than the first and far fewer than the third, or that some lodges themselves tend to confer it in a careless manner with shabby. I said shabby, and in aniquit-equitment or appointment or work is what that means. They put the word shabby in writing. Shabby one of my favorite words to say on the radio.

Speaker 2:

Shabby.

Speaker 1:

I say Interesting, so it does go on. There's two more paragraphs here and I won't read them, but it goes on to kind of turn the page here.

Speaker 2:

Oh good, that was hurtful. That was very hurtful about our degree.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it was because I'll just say right up front, for me the most enjoyable of it was the fellow craft degree. For me, really Well, because in the EA I did not know what to expect and I really struggled with memorization. It had been years and years and years before I ever attempted anything to memorize and I really struggled with it. It was a tough work for me but I got with the program and in fellow craft I memorized everything and it was really great. I was able to memorize the entire.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you have that base behind you. It's not as foreign as that first one. That first one is like really learning another language.

Speaker 1:

Right, right, and at my give back, I could have stood there by myself and done the entire thing from memory without any problems. Actually, I think I did it once over the phone with you while I was driving, and I went from beginning to end without looking at anything and I was so dang proud of myself man. It was like yeah, and then, of course, without giving away anything about the degree itself, the inner workings of the degree, the steps, and talking about the winding stairs, lectures.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, the winding stairs lectures. It's awesome, man. That degree can be disappointing because maybe you're expecting something more extravagant than the last one which you don't get in the degree itself. But the lecture doesn't disappoint the lectures. I think that's what people want to see in the fellow craft degree is that unique winding stairs lecture that they do, it's just different. That's different than your first experience.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah, when I went through it, wright, worshville, hart did the lecture and we're all just with our mouths dropped open that this man could do all this from memory and go through the entire thing and I was just riveted by it. And I am a bit of a nerd, as many of you know. I like going down rabbit holes of study. So for me, the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences and all of the talk about further education, deeper education and stuff, it was just great. For me it really it set the tone in my mind as to what I was going to get out of masonry and that was just a deeper sense of myself to educate myself and to be industrious. Isn't that? One of the three characteristics of an EA is industriousness, and that really kind of brought me to a place where this is more than just academic. These tools are deeper. I guess I went from EA with working tools and I understand, hey, this is cool. But then all of a sudden it went to this really deep level.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, and it goes fast too. That first degree is about you coming into a new life almost as a baby. I think we talked about, and we talked about if you were going to invent a system that would teach somebody how to start on the path of being a good man. The Internet apprentice degree is perfect for that. So the point of the fellow craft degree is the transition from childhood to manhood, and really being a man is what the fellow craft degree is all about. I think the main point of the fellow craft degree is to talk about the morality of being a grown man in your life and in society, and so that means things start to get real.

Speaker 1:

Things are a little more serious now.

Speaker 2:

We're not playing with our compasses anymore. We have different tools now.

Speaker 1:

Right, right, having been in the construction industry for more than 30 years, it all just really makes sense to me and I spend a lot of time. I'm kind of reflecting here on operative and for those who aren't masons, we'll explain operative and speculative later. But the operative side of it is the entered apprentice. He's your laborer, he's the guy that you're responsible for teaching the fellow craft is the guy who takes direction from the project manager or the master and he implements it into the actual work. And he's the CM, the construction manager. He has the skills, he's gone through the apprentice side of it. So he has the skills, he's able to do it and he's able to run a group of entered apprentices plus get the work done and deliver the work properly to the master. So no CM wants to be on the job doing work when the master shows up and says what are you? doing Because that's my job now. I am the project manager now and I get to yell at people, but that's a different story.

Speaker 2:

Completely Well, in Masonry they work together in harmony and unison. Yes, they do, there was no problem, obviously.

Speaker 1:

Yes, that part is over now in the construction industry and the construction industry could clearly take a cue from Masonry.

Speaker 2:

King Solomon's not running the projects anymore. It's not quite as harmonious.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, he's a king, all right, but he's not King Solomon. No, not as wise. He's a king.

Speaker 2:

Pain in the Well, I think what you said is nailing it on the head. This degree is about teaching us that we are In the first degree we talk about that you're born of a woman but you're born again into Freemasonry and now we're adults and we have to start thinking about important things that adults need to think about, like it's not just about us anymore. We need to take care of our family. Now we have a family, we're mature people and we have to care about the society we live in. It's our job now as adults to take care of our society, and so this degree is giving you the tools to do all of those things and continue to work on yourself as a person, as a man in society, and that's going to take a lot. So this degree might go faster than the first degree, and it does, because it doesn't have many of the sections the first degree has. But that lecture requires you to come back and listen to it over and over and over again, whereas the interdependence degree you get the lecture in your catechism and all the other things for the most part the important parts of that lecture. But this degree, this lecture, is so dense and talks about so many high-minded principles. It's really way beyond what you're getting in the working tools and the degree. The lecture's almost in its own entity. I think if people put on the fellow craft lecture more people would come to that than any other event, I think, in any of the Masonic ritual work.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I agree.

Speaker 2:

It's that it just pulls you in that much. It's an engaging experience in the way it's done, and then the content is on another level. We're talking about content that takes up all of human knowledge and anything that needs to draw your attention as an adult. That's gonna be a responsible citizen in your country, so you can imagine how involved this is and he's big words that you really gotta go Google and check out after you hear that, exactly Because you're like what? Okay, that's another one. I have no idea what that means.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah, I was impressed by the columns and the symbolism of the three columns, and we don't talk about the five columns. Right, we have the three and we can talk about that, can't we? Yeah, I mean the Doric, the Ionic and the Corinthian.

Speaker 2:

These are actual things in the world. This is actual architecture and the eras that they were created and the types of architecture that you'll find in history, and so that is one of the sections of the Wining Stairs Lectures to talk about specifically the orders of architecture, and Fred just named the ones that are important to us, right, and why is it important to us? I don't think this is a secret, because architecture is known to humankind, and so you have original orders of architecture and then you have orders of architecture that came later and they were offshoots of existing orders of architecture, and so, as Masons were aware that there's all of these different orders, but we're more focused on the original ones. From that the Greeks invented, right? That's what we want to focus on, because that's where everything began in modern human societies in Greece, our philosophy, our art, architecture, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And the three they symbolize and if you're a Mason, this'll be familiar to you. They symbolize strength, wisdom and beauty. And I think it's the other way around. I think it's.

Speaker 2:

Wisdom, strength and beauty.

Speaker 1:

Wisdom, strength and beauty and in the design of those columns. And you know, if you go to ancient Greece you will see in the ruins, you will see those different columns. They're in the rooms, they're everywhere. But they symbolize and of course that ties in, of course, with the lodge itself and that's probably getting a little bit deeper. We're touching a little bit on some of the secrets and, like we said before, the reason why we would never give away any of the secrets. It's pretty simple, because we don't want to ruin it for anybody else. That's the truth, because it is a wonderful it's just wonderful the discovery that you go through with your degrees as masons and we don't want to ruin it for anybody. And anybody out there on the internet thinks they know, who wants to disclose secrets and thinks they know and wants to tell us that we're going to hell because we're a part of the Illuminati. I would just tell you that you're making You're kind of making a fool out of yourself, bro, because you really don't know what you're talking about.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'm surprised how certain people are that they know things when there's no way they could know. There's no way they could know what they're talking about.

Speaker 1:

And here's the thing they're talking to someone who does. Yeah no matter what you say to them. Oh, no, no, no, no, there's blood and goats, and you guys are all part of the Bush family and la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la la. It goes like no, no, no, first things first, there's a secret degree that teaches you how to worship Satan. That you haven't gotten yet. You haven't gotten yet. It's a mystery degree.

Speaker 2:

You don't know that it exists, yeah.

Speaker 1:

I know nothing about masonry, but I do know that part. You're an actual mason but you don't know anything.

Speaker 2:

You're a dupe.

Speaker 1:

And it's like come on, man, come on man.

Speaker 2:

That is the life of a mason. You do hear that an awful lot from people.

Speaker 1:

I know right.

Speaker 2:

And you'll read it a lot on the internet.

Speaker 1:

Well, that's my point, it's probably my suggestion to those friends out there who feel that way probably ought to lay off the Alex Jones for a little while. Man, just kind of get turn him off and maybe just pick up some reading material and educate yourself, and then come home back and let's have a conversation based on love and respect. Love and respect I get it.

Speaker 2:

I mean, I love watching the Ancient Alien shows too. Yeah, oh yeah right, and if you watch enough of those shows, everything somehow relates to Ancient Aliens. You can find a rock at the bottom of the ocean and somebody's gonna go oh, look at this rock, Look at the color Ancient Aliens. And then you're gonna get a description of how Ancient Aliens made that rock. Right, right, yeah, and I'm like yes, this makes sense, so I understand it's entertaining to hear these stories.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, Ancient Aliens is entertainment and I'll just leave that there for everybody. Yeah, that's exactly what it is.

Speaker 2:

Maybe there were Ancient Aliens, but you can't relate everything to Ancient Aliens. Come on, some of this stuff has other explanations.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, just funny how Ancient Aliens, aliens of any kind they always boil them all the way down. They're always based on 1950s, flying saucers and stuff that TV is always. Why are Ancient? Why are Aliens? Why are we talking about Aliens, right?

Speaker 2:

now we could do. We have so many more podcasts about Aliens, and it's not because we're Masons, all right. So we're just gonna For people that are out there listening Brothers.

Speaker 1:

hold on, hold on out there, brothers. We're gonna turn the corner right now. Leave Aliens behind. Ah, goodbye, aliens, and go back to the fellow craft degree.

Speaker 2:

We'll be back to talk about you one day. The fellow craft degree is it's about the opposite of Aliens, it's about reality, the realities of life. And we were talking about history, we were talking about the columns and architecture itself. And that's important to us as Masons, because we came from operative masonry and you heard Fred talk about speculative masonry and it's important in this degree to differentiate the two. And this degree is where they do differentiate the two, with an explanation to the person that's going through degrees and say listen, there's two sections of free masonry operative, which is the past kind of. There's still people out there building things that are Masons, but it's not the main driving force of free masonry. We're not all builders anymore Now. Most of us are speculative Masons. So that is a true delineation. I myself am a speculative Mason. You are both an operative and a speculative Mason. So an operative Mason is somebody that builds things with their hands, particularly with stone in our case primarily stone. And a speculative Mason is one that uses the ideas and symbols and tools of operative Masonry to enlighten themselves spiritually. That's a speculative Mason. So we don't build things physically, we build spiritual buildings for ourselves as Masons.

Speaker 1:

That's right. Yeah, and it's the tools of masonry. For me anyways, the tools of masonry are given to me to make me a better man in all aspects of my life, as a Christian and someone who attends church regularly. I'm a member in good standing of a local church. Masonry is supposed to make me a better churchman, a better husband, a better father. It doesn't change. There is nothing contained within the precepts of masonry that conflicts with anything of my faith. It does not conflict, it enhances.

Speaker 2:

This is like misconception numeral uno for freemasonry.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. It is not a religion.

Speaker 2:

Right, or if they think it's a religion, and I think they could buy that it's not. But what they really can't buy is that it doesn't conflict with whatever religion they are.

Speaker 1:

Right right.

Speaker 2:

People that are saying that you're bad. And that's where the lie is. That's what we can never probably make people understand. Is that that's the big lie. You have to be religious to become, or spiritual at least to become a mason Correct. We're not really saying you have to be one of these three major religions. You must declare.

Speaker 1:

Right, that's right.

Speaker 2:

No, that's not true. You can have your own. There are many other variations of faith out there. I just ran into a guy who's a Zoroastrian. They're still operating in the world today.

Speaker 1:

I did not know that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, freddie Mercury was a Zoroastrian. Okay, it's like one of the oldest major religions found on the planet and its threads are in the Jewish faith and the Christian faith and the Muslim faith. That's the one that kind of predates them and pre-Dietz even Egyptian theology. So you know, we don't really care what you are, just come and use whatever Freemasonry has, the spiritual tools that now, as a fellow craft, you have at your disposal, which are supposed to teach you ethics, philosophy and a moral way of life, and use those tools and the benefits of those pursuits. And that's the truth of Freemasonry. That's a huge part of being a Freemason. It is looking to a deity for like support, for encouragement and for confirmation of a purpose. So you know, that's something that we can say publicly. It's not it's. I was taught when I was coming up, and I think I've read it in writing, that we don't engage those people. It's in our charges, for sure. I think it's in the lectures that you get. You're not supposed to argue with people who are ignorant about Freemasonry.

Speaker 1:

It's a waste of your time and it's bad for them.

Speaker 2:

It's bad for you, it's not going to go anywhere positive really and so you shouldn't engage in anything that's not going to be good for you or the other person. And we learned how we engage with each other, right. We can have difficult conversations as long as it's healthy. And if we can't have a healthy conversation?

Speaker 1:

we should move on to things that you know promote brotherly love and respect.

Speaker 2:

That's right, and here it is again. We cannot engage that person, especially on the Internet, in any meaningful way. That's going to have an open dialogue, no, where we're listening and we care about each other. It just isn't possible to happen, highly unlikely to happen on the Internet, and so, as Masons, we shouldn't engage in that stuff. So it persists because we don't refute. But that doesn't make it true, that's right. That's right. It doesn't make it true Just because we don't refute it we're not going to comment on that video that we saw it doesn't mean that it's true because it's not true. That's a huge falsehood that you're going to hear about for you, masonry. We're all spiritual men and in Florida, the vast majority are Christian men. I mean, it is the yeah, absolutely I mean all the Masons I've met probably are very high percentage are Christian.

Speaker 1:

And go to church and are really involved in their church.

Speaker 2:

Just look at our lodge and just look at the people in our line. We've got a junior warden who is a sound mixer for his church. He does all the recording and the video stuff Super involved in his church and I know doesn't John do the same? Some mixing stuff. And I've met multiple guys that are. You are involved in your church as an elder. Absolutely. It's very common to see Christian people who are active in their faith also very active in Freemasonry, and I've never seen a conflict. I've only seen it make both better. To be honest with you.

Speaker 1:

That's the whole point If you think about George Washington, who was a Freemason. If you've ever read the prayers of George Washington, try to get ahold of his. He wrote prayers for a Monday morning prayer and a Sunday prayer, and these different prayers for different times of the day and different times of the week.

Speaker 2:

Really.

Speaker 1:

And it is a treatise on Christian doctrine. I mean it's literally out of the Westminster Confession of Faith. I mean the man was clearly a Christian who held to that belief for his entire life. If I'm not mistaken, I believe his headstone says on it is the scripture from John, chapter 7, about I am the resurrection and the life. I believe that's what Washington had put on his stone. But he was a Freemason. He was pro Freemasonry his entire life. Now, he was not involved in Lodge every day of his life he received his master Mason degree and then went on to obviously to greater things. But I believe in his description and commentary on Masonry he said it was indispensable for the life of a young man it was indispensable because Masonry, masonry is indispensable because it taught, it had a systematic way of teaching morality, which I don't know if you guys noticed, but I've noticed that we're lacking a little bit in that department here in this country and I don't think it's working out well for us Just saying but anyways, getting off the whole religious thing, I came in, I'll just say this and I've said this on a podcast before I came into Masonry with the prayer in my mind Lord, if there's anything within this fraternity that conflicts with Scripture, that conflicts with my faith, I'm out. I'm out and I will continue diligently to search to compare it to Scripture. And I'm still here. I have not found anything that conflicts with my Christian faith. I hold to and some of you guys might know what this is the Westminster Confession of Faith, all the articles in there. I completely hold to all of them and they are a guide for my life and I find nothing within my work and life and fellowship here in Masonry in conflict with any of it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I had a similar talk with my wife, whose family was very conservative and advised against joining when I talked about it and I said well, the same thing, exact words you said, but it wasn't about faith, it was about morality. It was about I'm not going to become a Satan worshiper, I'm not going to be eating goats or babies or whatever you think's happening.

Speaker 1:

I've had goat. It's not bad. I've never had goat.

Speaker 2:

I don't remember how.

Speaker 1:

Oh, lamb, yeah, I haven't had lamb.

Speaker 2:

But it's true, I had to say the same thing. Look, you know me, I'm not easily swayed, I'm kind of a strong mental guy. I don't easily assign to things, and so if I saw something morally wrong I would be out immediately, right. And I have seen some things that I considered morally wrong in Freemasonry, and when I looked into it it was not Freemasonry, it was just people that were not acting. Masonically.

Speaker 1:

Which is true in any organization.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but if I'm being honest, I saw that and when I researched it, I saw that this had nothing to do with Freemasonry. This is just people. People are bad sometimes.

Speaker 1:

People are flawed. They need a system of morality veiled and allegory and taught through symbolism. I don't know and nobody's perfect.

Speaker 2:

But this is a great place to get you know, become better in those areas.

Speaker 1:

I agree. And here comes a fellow craft degree.

Speaker 2:

Now we learned about our time. We learned how to manage ourselves in the first degree and now we have a degree whose themes are education and achievement Right. These are the things that men are concerned about.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And we're also in achieving things for ourselves.

Speaker 1:

Through, and one of the ways we do that through the working tools. The working tools and we can talk about that, it's right here in the publication the three working tools of the fellow craft is the square, the level and the plum. Talk about the square.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I was a square my whole life.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, man Not in that way Don't be a square.

Speaker 2:

See so many ways to interpret this. The square is a symbol of morality, truthfulness and honesty.

Speaker 1:

Oh, it's a great tool.

Speaker 2:

It's like Superman's emblem should have been a square.

Speaker 1:

Yeah right.

Speaker 2:

Truth, honesty and morality, and the implications in this degree are that these are godly things, that truth, morality and honesty come from God. These are things that we should all endeavor to be more like, because it makes us more close to our Creator when we act in these ways. It's also so operative masons would have used the square to make that square perfectly angled, correct it's like that's how you get that sharp edge, and they made certainly a lot of bricks that were used in the building of Solomon's Temple, and those bricks had to be perfectly squared and laid and leveled using these tools, and so we used them to act upon the square, which we've talked about in the past, and square our actions with others. But this is just another tool to teach us how to behave in a moral manner in our interactions with other people, and especially with people that we don't know, that we use the square to act uprightly.

Speaker 1:

Right and the meta-narrative is deep, the story behind the story. There's just so many different uses about the square that it is the. We square our acts by the square of virtue. What virtues? That's the first question I asked. Well, what virtues? Well, I dug into it a little bit and found out that there are seven Masonic virtues, and it's faith, hope, love, justice, charity.

Speaker 2:

Faith, hope, charity.

Speaker 1:

Sorry guys, I had it. Those are the three main ones, but I square my actions against these virtues. Those are the virtues that. Okay, what I am about to do, or what am I doing? Because it's square with these virtues and it's taking what every human being already knows and it puts it in a way for you to see it and understand it and then implement it into your life. And we're not perfect, we don't do this perfectly. And when we use that term, we use the square to make the stone perfect. What we mean is perfectly suitable for use by the master in the building of the house, not flawless. The stone is not flawless. Flawless means a flawless stone is not usable in an ancient building because the concrete won't stick to it. It's too smooth, and that's part of that whole depth of analogy. We don't have a. We're not making ourselves into flawless men.

Speaker 2:

We want to be. We want to be.

Speaker 1:

That's a goal, but we want to be useful to the master for the building of the temple, and that's the perfect ashlar, the perfect stone that was made in the quarry and then brought to the site to be implemented so that no tools would be used on site. Well, what does that mean? Well, that means that I prepare myself outside, I do the work outside, then I come in. Ready to be fitted and used, ready to be fitted and used and corrected Humbly, be corrected Come into the lodge with what the work I've done, and then a brother of standing who's ahead of me can say no, brother, you got to do this, you got to do that, all right. All right, I'll go back out, I'll go back to work and then I'll come back and that's the depths. And I love that stuff because I'm a very visual kind of guy to begin with, man. So when I see this kind of, when I see the depth of these symbols, speculative symbols that we use, it just absolutely just dings in my head and is so darn useful. But anyway, talk about the next one the level. It's a symbol of equality.

Speaker 2:

Can I go back just because I had?

Speaker 1:

If you must.

Speaker 2:

You were talking about that and I got this crazy vision in my head of Pink Floyd's the Wall.

Speaker 1:

All we are is just another brick in the wall.

Speaker 2:

That's what we truly are as masons. Every mason is just another brick in the wall of the lodge, because what is a lodge? It's an assemblage of masons. That's literally the coming together of men that are masons. That's what a lodge is, it's not the four walls.

Speaker 1:

No, because it could be anywhere, even in a cave.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's the temple, the lodge is wherever those guys are and they meet. And so, symbolically, freemasonry is telling us we literally are just another brick in the wall of our lodge. And how can a structure be strong if it's not perfect? So the square is making those 90 degree angles perfect, 90 degree angles, so that when you fit the stones together it's a perfect, tight fit and that building is strong.

Speaker 1:

Perfectly useful.

Speaker 2:

So we're each a brick in the wall and you said the work is done away. Right, they prepared those stones and the quarries over there so that the crap and the noise and all the pollution didn't happen at the site, which was holy, because we brought those perfect squares, or they brought those perfect squares to the site and fitted them into a strong building. And here Freemasonry is telling us again here's the tools, go do the work and when you come to the lodge, be prepared to fit perfectly with the other members.

Speaker 1:

That's right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I love that symbolism Isn't that great.

Speaker 1:

We're just another brick in the wall. We're just another brick in the wall, man, that's right.

Speaker 2:

That's gotta be your new theme. Pink floods the wall. They're gonna think we're trippy.

Speaker 1:

Well, but then it gets to that part where we don't need no education and that kind of blows the analogy right out of the water. It works for a second. It just works for just a second.

Speaker 2:

Okay, all right the level.

Speaker 1:

The level. It's the symbol of equality that we all meet on the level. What's that? What's that about?

Speaker 2:

Well, it's not about equally sharing our money. It's not about that kind of being level with each other. It's not about making sure we're all kings and princes together. It's not that. So it's not about wealth, social distinctions, civic office or even service to mankind. We use the term to refer to the internal and not the external qualifications of a man. Each is endowed with worth and dignity, which is spiritual and not subject to man-made distinctions. The quality practiced in Masonry recognizes that one man may have greater potentials in life, service or order board to another man, but denies that any man may not aspire to the heights, no matter how great. Thus the level dignifies labor in the man who performs it. It also acknowledges the equality of manhood as being an equality without regard to station. So it's talking about that. When we come to the lodge, we see ourselves as equals. Which we talked about in previous early podcasts, that even a Gardner when they sit together in a lodge. They're just two brothers.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's right the story about. Is it Eisenhower or was it Roosevelt who went to lodge as the President of the United States? It was.

Speaker 2:

Truman, it was Truman.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, who went to the lodge and the acting worshipful master was his Gardner. And here's the President of the United States sitting under the watchful eye of the worshipful master who was his Gardner, and that's a perfect example. Whether it's true or not, it should be, because it's a perfect example of on the level, isn't it?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so the level? What do you use the level for? In operative Masonry, you use it to make things to try even right.

Speaker 1:

The plum tries to perpendicular on the level. It makes right Horizontals there you go.

Speaker 2:

So it's a true wine that is perfect to the ground, to the floor.

Speaker 1:

basically it's based on where water flows, right. So water always flows to the lowest point and if you take, if you carve out an uneven, out of level hole in a rock and you pour water halfway up it, the water level will reveal how out of level, how out of sink, the rock actually is, because water always goes to level. I don't know, because it's. Yeah, it's geometry, man.

Speaker 2:

Well, that's you know what? Symbolically, we're talking about making ourselves level with each other. We're talking about things that level us. We've talked about time being a level of men.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's right and you know the level is a standard. It symbolizes a standard that's outside of us. So if I were the standard, then that standard's going to change based on how I feel. If a committee of men were the standard, then it's going to change based on whatever the wind of doctrine or political will is blowing, but this level, it doesn't change, just like the operatives. You know that level is determined by factors that don't have anything to do with the way the crew feels that day.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 1:

It's just. If the level's off, you got to fix it, and that has nothing to do with the way you feel. It has nothing to do with what you believe. It is a standard set by another and in Masonry that standard is set by the grand architect of the universe.

Speaker 2:

Here's another thing that is important in Masonry talks about this is one of the things I love about Masonry. What I just read came out of the mentors manual about the level, and it's saying that you might have better aptitudes than I have, which means you might achieve more in your life than I achieve, but we both should have the right to aspire to achieve our own levels of great. That's right. That's right. So now you're talking about freedom as part of equality, and that's a beautiful idea. We may not achieve the same levels in life or in our jobs or careers, which is fine because we're different people, we were raised differently, we have different skills and abilities, but we should all have the same rights to aspire to that greatness, whatever it is. For you and me it's different, but the equality is that we have the same rights.

Speaker 1:

That's right, that's right.

Speaker 2:

Freedoms to aspire to our own levels of potential.

Speaker 1:

What that made me think of was envy. This denies envy of my brother. My brother may have something in his life, a talent, a position, something he's worked for, something he has, and I am to a better goat. He has a better goat than me. His goat is all white. Mine has some brown spots in it. There's a problem with my goat man. But I don't have to look at my brother in a negative way, who has been given all these gifts, who has worked for these things, who has made good decisions. I can look at my own self in Masonry and say, yeah, I can achieve everything that I desire to achieve or that God has for me to achieve, apart from any other person's success or failures. I come in on the level with every other brother, whether they're behind me or above me, it does not matter. Together, we are building each other up into that temple.

Speaker 2:

And you're limited only by your own abilities and your own desire and drive. That should be what limits you, not a system of government not the laws of the state that you live in, but your own. What's inside of you is what's limiting you, and this speaks to some liberal ideas, maybe, of equality in society. Right, like your color, your country of origin, these things shouldn't matter if we live in a society that values equality. So this could speak to your own involvement in your country and how you might start to view your personal politics. If you're a Mason who's true, and thinks all mankind should have been created equally, like our country says in its documents, then you're going to be supportive of lifting anybody up and giving them the same potential or the same system that you have to work in, and I don't think that's a political ideology. It shouldn't be. That's what we say. Is our God-given things that every man should have. Yeah, an alien right of life, liberty and happiness, that's right, that's right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and that brings us to the last point about the level, which is that the great leveler of all human beings is death. Yes, it is the great leveler, regardless of who you are. They say that Elon Musk is clearly the wealthiest man on the planet and he is going to die one day.

Speaker 2:

Well, I saw him in mid on Twitter that he was an alien and the reason he's building these ships is because he's trying to get home.

Speaker 1:

He's trying to get home, yeah back to Mars. Oh interesting, he may have been joking.

Speaker 2:

It was hard to tell through Twitter.

Speaker 1:

Thing is, we have pictures of Mars. Elon, don't go there, whatever you do.

Speaker 2:

It's not awesome.

Speaker 1:

And if you feel like you need to just go to the Mojave Desert man at night, you'll feel pretty much the same, except for the killer radiation stuff that'll eat your flesh. But other than that you're going to be fine. But the point is that regardless of who you are and where you are in this life, the averages are one to one. Everyone's going to make it, everyone is going to face that ultimate leveling of all humanity and that is death. You know, and it's coming. And we have a saying in Masonry which is Memento More, which I believe is attributed to Marcus Aurelius, if I'm not mistaken. Guys correct me on that Great.

Speaker 2:

Roman Emperor.

Speaker 1:

Yep, yep, and. But it means. It means remember you have to die. Remember that literally means remember you have to die. Remember that a day is coming when you will face your own mortality. So live your life each day remembering Memento More. Remember that I have that I have a t-shirt, a Memento More t-shirt, and I am seriously considering getting a tattoo Memento More, a tattoo on my left lower calf. But that's another maybe we'll do a segment on that.

Speaker 2:

No, we won't, we will not do a segment on that? Can I tattoo it on your calf?

Speaker 1:

I think for the show.

Speaker 2:

it might be great. I got a guy. I got a guy. All right, I'm saying I could be good tattooer to you.

Speaker 1:

All of my tattoos have been done by the same two people, so no no no, I could never do that. Anyway, I don't know how we got down that rabbit trail.

Speaker 2:

The final one you were talking about death being the level death, the ultimate level, man.

Speaker 1:

I'm sorry we don't have a call a cough button yet. I'm sorry.

Speaker 2:

I'll edit that out. There are our constant references to death throughout all three degrees of Freemasonry. The third degree in particular we'll talk about. This is talking about that time in our life where it becomes a lot more obvious, but it's mentioned in the Interpreter apprentice degree.

Speaker 1:

Sure is.

Speaker 2:

And now in the fellow craft degree. As an adult, you always have one eye starting to look towards the end. You're not a child anymore. You realize this is coming, and so it becomes more important as we get more busy in our lives as adults. Because we are, we have children now, we have jobs now, we have, you know, the state to worry about, and we may get involved in that as well. So your time is very difficult to keep equal, and one of the things that we always have to remember is that this period of our life is not going to last forever. We have a short amount of time to be productive and a full flowered person, and so the end is coming. So use your time wisely. Again, a super important lesson in Freemasonry, which starts with the 24 inch gauge, where we first are taught about your time. Now we're men and adults and there's more demands on our time, so it's even more important to manage our time properly and always be recognizing that your time is limited and that the end is nigh.

Speaker 1:

The end is always nigh. That's right, one for one, we're all going to make it.

Speaker 2:

You can't do everything, you can't be everywhere, you can't save the entire world, so you have to. I just watched a documentary that my as a book based on a book my last reading called the art of not giving a F.

Speaker 1:

I saw that some I saw. Maybe did you post something about it, okay.

Speaker 2:

Okay, and so the whole point is you need to be careful what you give an F about, because you can't care that much about everything you can't know plastic in the whales and the dolphins and the environment right at what point is? am I going to live my own life? So I need to be. I need to care about a few things that are important to me, that I can have an effect on, and Freemasonry is telling us the same thing. What's important is your family, your, your, your place in society and what you're able to impact with your friend, your community and friends and family that that enter your circle of life, that you have an influence on, and you better make sure it's a positive one as much as possible for everybody that enters that circle of your life, because the circle is closing in on you and when it's done, there'll be some kind of a judgment based on your actions.

Speaker 1:

That's correct.

Speaker 2:

So you know, this degree is reminding us of all of that stuff and it's actually giving you it's not telling you what to do with your life in this degree, but it's certainly giving you an education to be a productive citizen and man in your life and whatever station you have and whatever you're able to affect. This is giving you the tools to achieve those things with, hopefully, some upright conduct and as an example to others. That's right Living the sonic principles in your daily life and your career, in your home right, treating your children and your wife with respect and showing them how to be a good father.

Speaker 1:

And that's right.

Speaker 2:

You know it's true because I grew up in a broken home and I didn't have the example of how a man is supposed to treat his wife. I just didn't see that growing up, so you get the romanticized version of television as your example, which is in actuality very difficult to in the real world achieve that level of being a good husband. But I've learned, obviously as an adult and through failed marriages, that there is a way to show that your children that you, just the way to treat a person is the way they see you treat your spouse growing up. So if you fight, which is normal and you have an argument, which is normal, you can still show respect and love for each other while you're having a disagreement and that showing somebody how to behave is way better than explaining to them how to behave. And so, as a Mason, they're showing you how to live your life, and you showing other people how to live life in a good way is going to do so much more good than you being on a pulpit telling them how to live their life in a good way.

Speaker 1:

That's right, that instruction goes just so far. But it's the old saying is that your kids, they it's caught, not taught. You know they catch your lifestyle. That you can, you have to teach them. You have to explain to people right and wrong, but if you don't live it while you're explaining it, that makes you a hypocrite. And nobody's going to listen to a hypocrite, not not long term anyways. Eventually they'll figure you out, the mask will come off hypocrite bad hypocrite bad hippopotamus, bad hippopotamus, even worse because they're smelly, okay, and on that note we're deep into this thing. I think I sense a second episode on the fellow craft. I knew it would happen. I think we'll lead off then with the plum, because that would be the third of the working tools of the fellow craft degree. And so much more still to talk about and so much more to talk about after that. Yeah, we'll try to get it in one more episode. I thought the the two episodes of EA was very popular. You guys, you guys really responded out there to those two probably our best responses so far. So we'll try to. We'll try to do the same.

Speaker 2:

I've noticed that when we look at the statistics of the podcast we're releasing, the ones people seem to be the most interested in are the ones where we talk about degrees.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And how Masonry uses degrees, not not. Not so much about me as a master.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that one didn't go over very big and I don't know why. Hey guys, get out, go back and listen to it. It was great, especially the interview part.

Speaker 2:

I think it makes sense, you know, because everyone's trying to make sense of this stuff and they've been seeing it and they don't know who I am or care who I am. And then we talked about the, the membership program.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah.

Speaker 2:

That one surprisingly didn't get as much activity, but it was one of our early ones. But you did get some feedback.

Speaker 1:

I did just recently I got an email from a brother who was talking about wanting to hear more about and we will. We are going to do a lot more regarding Chris's role with this, with Grand Lodge, regarding recruitment I don't like that word, it's not my favorite word but, for lack of a better word, currently Membership development. Membership development. We'll go with, which is a spin on the word recruitment.

Speaker 2:

Yeah Well, they meet for the grinder.

Speaker 1:

That's right, that's right. So, yeah, it's been a pleasure again, my brother, to do this podcast with you. I cannot express my gratitude to you guys out there the overwhelming response Within our own circles too. At our own Lodge and in our district I've got district past district guys coming up to me shaking my hand and just giving me telling us how they've really been waiting for something like this to come out and I was just like who me? Are you kidding me? So I'm just really humbled by it. Our commitment to you is that we're not gonna stop and we're just gonna try our best to make it better and better. And email us with your ideas, ideas for upcoming episodes and shows, comments. Criticisms always go first. We definitely wanna hear it, even if it's nasty and biting. That's okay. That's okay, we can take. We have big shoulders.

Speaker 2:

Well, chris has big shoulders and have you just biting, not nasty and biting Nasty and biting One or the other guys? Please take it easy.

Speaker 1:

Send the nasty ones to Chris and the biting ones to Fred, and you can do that by emailing Fred at onthelevelwithFredandChriscom. Spelled out as one gigantic word. We did that on purpose. And then your email address, brother.

Speaker 2:

Chris C-H-R-I-S at onthelevelwithFredandChriscom.

Speaker 1:

One giant word spelled out Questions. That I'm being asked is is it the symbol for end or do I spell out A-N-D? And it's? You spell out A-N-D On the level with FredandChriscom. Spell it all the way out. It's really actually easier to remember that way.

Speaker 2:

Believe it or not, it should be in the footer of all of our podcasts now, so you should be able to find our emails there. But you know, I wanted to say because I'm also running into people that are talking about the podcast now and it's weird because we didn't do this. Sounds odd, I know we didn't do this to become popular or because we wanted any kind of attention. This was born out of a desire to talk about free masonry and us not having an outlet to do it in the beginning. We were talking about doing. We did philosophy classes in the lodge and they weren't well attended and we were like, well, maybe the guys around here just aren't into this, but we are. And like you, had some experience with podcasting. I was curious about. I didn't know anything about it, but I thought, oh, it's an opportunity. In my mind I was like this will never succeed. You know there's probably eight million podcasts out there, so I never had the idea in my mind that this would be a successful thing that people would hear. I was interested in coming and sitting and talking to you every week.

Speaker 1:

That's why.

Speaker 2:

I did it. I had no idea about podcasts or the technology or what this could be, but the idea of having an opportunity to sit down and talk about free masonry I was interested in. Right, right, and if no one was listening to this right now I would be just as happy as if a hundred million people were listening, because, to me, I'm just sitting down talking about free masonry with the guy that likes to sit and talk about free masonry. So it's a really organic thing for us and I'm shocked when people are saying they're listening to it or they're liking it. It's like wow, we're not alone. Like there are people out there that just wanna sit down and talk about free masonry. You know, we're not drinking here, having whiskey smoking cigars we're not partying.

Speaker 1:

Eight o'clock in the morning.

Speaker 2:

We start at 6.30 in the morning on a Tuesday because we wanna basically manufacture time that we don't have to sit down and talk about free masonry, and so it means so much to us. When Fred says it means a lot, that's how much it means to us because it validates that there are people that are still interested in learning and diving deep into free masonry. I'm sure you wanna go deeper than we have and hopefully we'll have a long podcast and we're gonna go real deep into these things.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we will.

Speaker 2:

On the first pass, we gotta cover the broad strokes and that's what we're trying to do right now is cover the broad strokes of the system of free masonry. But hang in there and we're gonna go way deeper in the weeds on this stuff.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and we're planning on having some really good guests coming up here as well, so that'll expand it even further as well. So you know, just stay tuned, keep those cards and letters coming and comments. Maybe we'll read some next time and we'll do an episode where we'll read yeah, we'll read some emails. Got a couple of really good ones this morning, very encouraged. So yeah, just for me. I'm like you, brother, I just enjoy sitting here talking about it. The fact that we're being recognized by it and it's growing a little bit is just icing on the cake for me.

Speaker 2:

Anything else before we get out of here Nope, looking forward to part two, delving into the fellow craft degree. See you next time.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, see you next time. On episode number I had no idea Episode I don't know. Bye, guys, I'll see you next time.

Exploring the Fellow Craft Degree
Masonic Lecture and Architecture Appreciation
The Concept of Freemasonry and Misconceptions
Healthy Conversations in Freemasonry
Equality, Leveling, and Mortality
Living a Purposeful and Influential Life
Discussion on Freemasonry and Podcast Success

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