On The Level Podcast

Echoes of Masonic Values Fostering Civility and Unity Today

January 27, 2024 Christopher Burns Season 2 Episode 26
On The Level Podcast
Echoes of Masonic Values Fostering Civility and Unity Today
On The Level Podcast
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Embark on an intimate expedition into the heart of Freemasonry as Chris and I open the doors to a realm of brotherhood, leadership, and personal growth. Our recent misstep—misplacing a crucial interview with Most Worshipful Jeffrey Esfoster—serves as a humble reminder of our own humanity and the ever-present opportunity to learn. But fret not, for this episode is brimming with the relatable stories and wisdom of our Masonic brothers, including a candid discussion with a past grandmaster who shares his transformative journey through military discipline, family life, and the principles that bind us.

Witness how the venerable tenets of Freemasonry clash with today's digital quagmire, as we traverse the delicate balance between social media savviness and the timeless call for harmony and civility among our ranks. Our revealing conversation sheds light on how online decorum and the avoidance of polarizing topics like politics and religion can foster a culture of brotherly love, not only within the lodge but echoing into the wider society. The episode is imbued with tales of Masons who have harnessed their passion, using it as a springboard to reignite the spark in their lodges and exemplify the fraternity's unyielding commitment to community and personal betterment.

As we bid adieu to Most Worshipful Foster, we're left inspired by the impression he's left on Freemasonry and the enduring values that have shaped generations. We invite you to carry the torch, igniting conversations in your own communities with the wisdom gleaned from our shared Masonic voyage. Whether you're a seasoned Mason or a curious onlooker seeking a deeper understanding of the fraternity, you'll leave this episode equipped with a renewed sense of purpose and the reassuring knowledge that the bonds of brotherhood are as resilient as ever.

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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, alright, chris? Hello, where's the holler there? It is Sorry.

Speaker 3:

You asked for it I asked for it.

Speaker 2:

It's my fault, I get it.

Speaker 1:

Wow.

Speaker 2:

What on?

Speaker 1:

earth. Today is a big day for us.

Speaker 2:

Today is a big day for us.

Speaker 1:

It really is, it's just a big day for our sins and ignorance of the past, mine especially.

Speaker 2:

No, it's a team thing.

Speaker 1:

It's a team.

Speaker 2:

We failed together. Only one of us three is innocent. In this group you can hear him laughing. You know who it is Most worshipful, jeffrey Esfoster. Yes, good morning.

Speaker 1:

Good morning sir. Many of our fans don't know that during Grand Lodge communication, Most Worshipful Esfoster was one of our first interviews. She was the reason we were doing these interviews Absolute reason for it and, of course, the sound engineer me, neglected to push save when I closed out his particular file and, of course, the machine did exactly what I told it to do it erased it. It was gone and we could not find it, we sure. Spent months looking at it, we could not find it.

Speaker 2:

We could not find it, we sure spent months looking everywhere to try to see if we could find it, and then Chris and I are like well, now, what do we do? We have to apologize.

Speaker 1:

We're going to have to get ahold of him and tell him how dumb we really are.

Speaker 3:

Yes, in 20 years you'll find it to be the lost recording.

Speaker 1:

Yes, that's right, the lost recordings of On the Level with Fred and Chris. The original unedited.

Speaker 2:

No, we appreciate you coming and being a huge sport. No problem, that's a huge sport, absolutely.

Speaker 1:

Huge sport for us Go ahead.

Speaker 2:

Chris, we interviewed you at Grand Lodge on the first day, I believe.

Speaker 1:

It was definitely the first day Yep, our second interview actually.

Speaker 2:

Right where.

Speaker 1:

Schoheber was first, then most were Schoephul after that and then we said, oh, we know what we're doing. We really didn't know we had. We were so confident, absolutely.

Speaker 2:

That was such an awesome experience. I didn't really know the weight of what we were doing at the time. We just wanted to interview people, tell their story and talk about who they are, but realize later it was awesome. So many people in the state. We know the names, we know the titles, but we don't really know the person. A lot of people in the state Are afraid to go to a grandmaster At a visit.

Speaker 1:

They shake their hand.

Speaker 2:

And strike up a conversation. All they know is the grandmaster's words they get read at the visits and whatever the grandmaster says at the visit If they go. So I think this just turned out to be an awesome way for Especially the members of Florida To get to know the Grand Lodge People, the men behind the jobs. It was so eye opening to talk to everyone we talked to and I was just shocked every time Like wow, you aren't who I thought you were going to be. Right, you guys are like real people.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

And I can add to that I don't think I know any past grandmasters or up and coming grandmasters that their feelings would be hurt If you didn't come up and shake their hand. That's one of the reasons. You know, we're nobody special. We're just At the front of the pack right now and you know Pretty soon we're going to be at the back of the pack With everybody else and you know that makes us one of you know brothers. So there should be no reason why anybody doesn't want to come up and shake Grand Lodge Officer's hands. We're not anything special.

Speaker 1:

We're just brothers in a position. Yeah, and I found that to be absolutely true and I was at Sarasota Saheb shrine and you know I was feeling that same feeling. Most you were talking about going up and and you know talking to. Like as a brother you felt has a tent, right, I maybe I shouldn't and I'm embarrassed myself or whatever is going through your mind, right? And of course, our current grandmaster. Like you said, he's just a regular guy. I can tell he's the kind of guy and I would just venture to say Most worship will foster that he's. He's probably kind of cut along the same cloth Maybe, as as you are, where very direct. You can tell, and I can tell too, by talking to you as well, most worship will that you guys are really direct, which I for one Absolutely appreciate Because I would assume it's from your guys. His military background is where that comes from.

Speaker 2:

I'm sure they learn not to make.

Speaker 3:

Our current grandmaster Loves it when you come out and asking for $5. Just go.

Speaker 1:

Inside baseball. There. That's as good as done. We will definitely do that we're hoping to interview him.

Speaker 2:

I know a setup when I hear that's a setup.

Speaker 1:

A setup I'm willing to fall right into Just for fun, absolutely. And the first lady when, on their first visit Down to the Shrine home, down to the what am I trying to say? I know, right out of your head. I saw it, you had it. Anyways the.

Speaker 2:

Masonic home.

Speaker 1:

In In St Petersburg. I'm sure he's got a good view, of course.

Speaker 2:

Ask him If we could borrow $5.

Speaker 3:

On the air His.

Speaker 2:

His real reaction to that. Curious to see what that's going to be but his wife Odessa. She had such an interesting Like situation this year I'm sure you've been to some of their visits, right, and I remember in our district that is in the Masonic home, and she gave a speech about the people and how she Right, do things for the people Not the floors, not the walls, but the people and it really struck me. I think she got like Tear choked up a bit when she was.

Speaker 3:

I mean, there's Absolutely Some Well they so they live Real close to the Masonic home. So she has the opportunity to spend a lot of time at the home and she's she's become very what am I trying to say? Very, very close with a lot of the, the residents of the home.

Speaker 1:

Right, right, yeah. And you know I've done a little bit of work in In different. You know homes and retirement villages and it's, it's addictive. You go in there and those people are, so they just, they just want to, they just want to sit down and have. And talk with anybody About anything. Oh, be engaged. And when you do that I don't care who you are. When you do that, it just it changes you.

Speaker 2:

So I can only imagine her going in there.

Speaker 1:

She seems like a woman with a big heart to begin with, who goes in there, yeah, yeah. So she's been totally captivated by it, and I'm for one. I'm really glad Because I think I've been in a lot of the the, the, the, the, the, the, the, the, the.

Speaker 2:

The.

Speaker 1:

The, the. I was going there and I was just Going there. For two and a half weeks I had been�. He really doesn't care anymore about, caused this I did, and instead of push myself this way, I was right to go and kill every kind of commit.

Speaker 2:

It and I feel like, whatever I've just done, I've even come to realize what happened when we left her. That's why, when all I want to do is seven years of OK.

Speaker 1:

Because this跟我 You've spent over two years trying to find out already At a time how I know that, like for us, for instance, the Sarasota-Sahib shrine, that building has been there for a long, long time and they really struggled. They almost lost the thing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, they were definitely on the verge.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, the fact that they're on the ascendancy and actually out of the red and into the black and making definite progress in the right direction. I feel the same way about that Masonic home. It's been there forever, it's ours, we're obligated to take care of it. I would be. It would take a lot to convince me to go any other direction, but keep that thing right where it is Well.

Speaker 2:

The Sahib shrine was about to lose everything. They didn't get an influx of members, they didn't get angel investors. The leadership changed, that's it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, the leadership changed.

Speaker 3:

Sometimes that's what it takes.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely, and that's a great point. Chris, that's exactly right.

Speaker 2:

Leadership can change everything. Good leadership, strong leadership, that is lifting everyone around them up. Everyone starts to rally and you get momentum, and that momentum solves a lot of problems.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's right. Well, most worst of all, tell us what's been going on in so far in your year. How is retirement?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, how's retirement going.

Speaker 3:

So retirement is great. I do miss traveling around, but I don't travel as much as I used to. I kind of stay in the background. I try to limit myself to what I'm actually going to do. Actually, I have a house that was neglected for four or five years, so I'm in the process of trying to redo all that.

Speaker 1:

We'll pray for you, brother, yeah.

Speaker 3:

I appreciate it, I need it. I'm getting more involved in local events. You know, right here in North Florida, Scottish Rite, other dependent bodies Just trying to take time and do things that I want to do, not that I need to do.

Speaker 2:

You certainly earned that. So you yourself graduated high school in 1981. Is that right, correct, correct? So you basically went out of high school into the Navy.

Speaker 3:

Yep, I took the summer off. As a matter of fact, ten days, 42 years ago, I believe, I showed up at boot camp.

Speaker 2:

Wow, what was boot camp like for you? I never went into the military Me neither. You always regret the path not taken. I started having kids at 19. I didn't have time for the military. But looking back, I wish I would have maybe taken that path first, because everyone that I meet that is a military person is just different than the rest of us.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's right, that's right.

Speaker 3:

I really admire some of the treats. Well, you get thrown into a different culture, a different environment than what most people are used to, because in a military environment you're getting input from different people from all over the country, so there's just not one social environment. You're getting it from all over the place, so you develop your own and most people don't get to see that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's right. When you're at a young age, you're put into difficult situations and confronted by other personalities and responsibilities right away. Like you said, you were right out of high school at the ripe old age of 18. There you are in a gigantic system. You have to learn to deal with it and to the discipline and all that when me, at the ripe old age of 18, I didn't know what.

Speaker 2:

I was doing or where I was going.

Speaker 1:

It's absolutely. For me it's definitely a missed calling. I regret I sat at 19 years old. I sat in the Navy Recruiters. Office and was ready to go, and I backed out like a coward at the last minute. I've always, always bitterly regretted that, but anyway, that's me. We're not here to interview.

Speaker 2:

Fred, when we say Navy, you were in Naval aviation, right? Did you actually fly planes?

Speaker 3:

No, I did not fly. I started out working and then, through a series of consequences, I guess I'd say I ended up taking care of log books and aircraft manus discrepancies. It was pretty much an office job for the last 17 years of my Naval aviation career.

Speaker 1:

So yeah, so administrative in there, and that's probably why you made such an early age. Probably why you were as Grand Master. That's probably. Those skills were probably quite handy inside that realm. I absolutely, I get that.

Speaker 2:

But on paper you have the textbook life. So you served in the military, you got out and graduated come Laoday from Jones College in 2001. Yep.

Speaker 3:

Yep and I figured out early in my Naval career that the best way to get a college education was to let them pay for it.

Speaker 2:

That is true, it is expensive.

Speaker 3:

There were a lot of late nights, you know going to work and then going to school and coming home and getting up and doing it all over again.

Speaker 2:

But it was well worth it. What kind of work were you doing at that time?

Speaker 3:

I was in the Navy.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, oh, you were doing okay.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 3:

So I would work during the daytime and went to school at night.

Speaker 2:

And what did you go to school for?

Speaker 3:

When I first started attending college I had the notion of getting an aviation degree. So I went to Ember Riddle and then I transferred duty stations and I got involved with a couple guys, a couple of shipmates of mine, that were heavily involved in the early stages of computers, and I changed my major rather to computer information. So I was within, I think, 10 or 15 credits of graduating with a bachelor's degree in aviation maintenance when I changed and had to pretty much start all over again. So I've got a lot of credits.

Speaker 2:

You were mainly interested in computer science, right, I was yeah.

Speaker 3:

I got involved with a couple guys that were, you know, early computer users, and it just took off from there.

Speaker 2:

It seems like your whole life was busy at that kind of time in your life because you were in the military, you're getting an education. You actually got married at some point in that time frame, right?

Speaker 3:

Oh yeah, I got married two years into my naval career. Which was probably one of the big deciders of why I continued on instead of getting out To support your new wife. Yeah, she liked to have a supper on the table, you know.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah.

Speaker 3:

That was the way I could do it.

Speaker 1:

Well, it's true. When a young man takes a wife and starts a family at a young age man, it tends to cause that young man to step up and to take responsibility. That's why, throughout history, young men got married young, because it was one of the ways to get them to focus. Nowadays, the average man is getting married in his late 30s, right. I don't think it's working out all that good, but that's a conversation for another show, I would assume.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but then it wasn't long after you had a son. I did A son. No, he was.

Speaker 3:

January of 89.

Speaker 2:

January of 89. That makes him a Aquarius probably.

Speaker 1:

I'm not up on my account, okay, yeah, I'm not either.

Speaker 2:

So that was all. I mean, you were a young man when you were doing all that. You're in the military, you're getting education, you're married. Now you have a kid. That's a lot of responsibility early in life, and is that something you kind of always wanted, or did that just happen to you?

Speaker 3:

I think the good Lord just said, you know, he put things in my life when I needed them. I don't. You know, yes, our son was planned. You know I was in the Navy. You go from sea duty to shore duty to sea duty to shore duty and you know Holly and I had discussed that I didn't want to have a child and immediately go out to sea. I needed to be around to help out. So we were getting ready to come off of sea duty and go to shore duty and I knew I was going to be around for three years. So you know, we kind of planned that out and I think it worked out well.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, my youngest son was a submarineer and he's eight years. He did eight years in there and he was torn between it, you know, because you know those guys are out for three months straight and under the water and he loved it but he wanted to have a family and he knew that that's not. He didn't really want to. You know, have that. There's a lot of guys who are submariners who do have that where their wives you know the picture of the wives sitting at the dock waiting for the boat to come in. He didn't want that. So that's why he got out at eight years and started his family. He's actually he just got married two years ago. They're just getting ready to have their first kid. So, same thing, you know, it's just, it's that I don't know man, it's that disciplined life. I'm so grateful that he decided to go into the military, like he did, like I'm sure you are. You know that it gave you all of those advantages you know that a lot of us, you know, didn't take advantage of. So what do you see most worstful, where are we at currently? You know, as far as masonry goes, you know what's the good and the bad. What do you see? What's positive of late? You know so far. We're what? Eight months into the new year, here on a grand lodge, I'm not asking you to, you know kind of hard.

Speaker 2:

But I'm kind of asking.

Speaker 1:

I kind of want to know from a past grandmaster current, you know, past grandmaster what do you see? What's the positive, what's going on? That's good. That's positive about our craft.

Speaker 3:

So you know, with everything there's always cycles. Nothing is ever just steady, right. Everything goes to a cycle, and freemasonry is no exception. We go through cycles, we go up and we go down, and currently I see freemasonry on an update myself.

Speaker 2:

I wonder how they got on an uptick. Yeah, maybe more social foster had something to do with that Right?

Speaker 3:

Well, so when I was grandmaster you know every grandmaster wants to go into office and say, all right, how am I going to leave my mark on the fraternity Right? There are some that say I'm going to do this and this is what I'm doing, and then there's a lot of others that say you know, what are we going to do? So when I became grandmaster, I got the grand line and we, during my deputy grandmaster year, as we were traveling around, we talked about it and we interviewed quite a few brothers and of course, we all know that other Chris rose to the top because he had a program that he was doing in his lodge where he was using social media to get the word out about freemasonry.

Speaker 2:

Right yeah.

Speaker 3:

And I thought I was like, wow, that is so brilliant. Because you know, if you look in a newspaper, back in the 50s, 40s, 30s, lodges took out. There were little places in the newspaper that said, hey, our lodges meeting on this night and we have a state of meeting and we're going to do some business, or you know, and back in those days that was how people got information was through a printed newspaper. Now it's not so much. I mean, everything is pretty much digitized. Everything is online, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Even newspapers.

Speaker 3:

You know very, I don't you know when I was a kid. One of the jobs that I had was a newspaper boy.

Speaker 2:

Me too Delivered newspaper. Make good money doing that for years.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I don't know that anybody ever does that anymore.

Speaker 1:

There's a car that drives by early in the morning at my house and throws newspapers to selected houses out of their car as they drive by, yeah. Yeah and I got. I think it's the New York Times will do that. Still Won't be much longer. Yeah, Now, of course, you know the New York Times as it goes, flying out of the car will break your driveway, you know, because it's huge as it is.

Speaker 2:

I mean, it's a gigantic waste of paper. It's not slowing down right, they're just zipping by and throwing them out.

Speaker 1:

Right, but anyways, yeah, your point is well taken that you know you helped spearhead that the new medium, you know, for reaching people was digital. You know, and it's a digital medium that you know that you were instrumental in helping Chris bring that to the forefront. You know for that?

Speaker 3:

I think that's the other way around. I think Chris was instrumental in bringing that to the craft because through his efforts of you know, holding classes and you know, at first he held him in person and then he went and had Zoom and informational classes and you know he spent a lot of time and I'm gonna you know, I'm gonna put Chris out there. You know he spent a lot of time with individual lodges, helping them develop their own program and show them what to do, and a lot of it. If they followed his advice and his instruction, I'm gonna say they were pretty successful. And I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna blow the horn of a lodge here in my area, table Lodge number 116 in Greencote Springs, florida. They were on a downtick. They were, they were really they were struggling. They got a couple of brothers in there and one of them is Earl Higginbotham, brother Earl who, oh, we know him went to Chris's, went to Chris's class and learned what to do, and you know, the man with the most infectious smile and free masonry.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, earl is he's.

Speaker 3:

He's very unusual and a great mason and a great brother. But you know he took that on and you know, yes, grand Lodge and Senate advised it. We said, hey, if you go and spend, you know, this amount of money, we'll reimburse you. So the lodge didn't really have any. There wouldn't have a downside for a lodge to try this.

Speaker 2:

You really gave them no reason to say no, every reason to say we'll give it a shot.

Speaker 3:

Right. And brother Earl, took that on and you know, the last time I talked to him he had, I think, eight brothers in a pipeline going through getting their degrees to become members of that lodge and it's been a great program and one of the things that you know I don't want people to forget is that you still have to guard the West gate.

Speaker 1:

Right, that's right.

Speaker 3:

Just because somebody can fog a mirror doesn't mean they're going to make a great mission. So this program just brings them to the door and once they get to the door. The lodges need to weed those people out that are not going to make good masons and not let them join. But I mean I could be wrong. But I see an uptick in membership because now people are starting to realize it. There are a lot of young men out there right now that are searching for what Freemasonry could offer them. Absolutely yeah, and they don't know where to look.

Speaker 2:

No, they don't even know they exist. They've never heard of Freemasonry, they don't know the questions to ask.

Speaker 3:

So you know, when you put that out there and you bring them to your front door, you know that gives you a great opportunity to do what we're supposed to do make good men better.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's right. Well, even I won't take credit. I won't take credit for that, because you came when you before you were the Grand Master it was the year before, I think, you were there. You came to our district and I don't know if you said this at all of the visits, but you said something that I there were two of us that stood up and gave you a standing ovation and I'm sure you didn't even notice, but we were like so happy to hear your message. It was a difficult time for our country. This is, I think, the beginning of the severe division we were starting to have, and people were really drawing lines in the sand online and being pretty aggressive in the way they were talking.

Speaker 3:

Oh yeah.

Speaker 2:

And it was really frustrating because I see a lot of Masons that have their names on trestle boards and you know are known to be Masons. They are showing it all over their profiles on social media and they would say things that could be pretty offensive to people and you know, as a leader representing free Masonry, people that aren't Masons don't know if they're speaking for the fraternity or themselves as a person. So it gets really confusing and you stood up and said hey, do me a favor, just spend 10 seconds thinking before you hit submit.

Speaker 1:

When you're posting on social media.

Speaker 2:

Maybe just don't say everything that comes into your head, maybe think about a different way to phrase it or be a little more, you know, friendly and think about brotherly love, and to have resonated with me, because I was really struggling at the time with what I was seeing from my own brothers.

Speaker 3:

Oh well, and that's you know. That's where that really struck a chord with me is I would you know, I have a maternal brother, an actual blood brother, and I would never go up to him and say some of the stuff that I was reading online, yeah, I would never say to him in his face, and I'm pretty sure that the people that were writing that stuff would never say that to somebody's face, especially their brother or sister you know, whatever, but you know they were willing to put that out there online and have their brothers read that stuff, and you know then then you got to try to go sit in lodge. And you know there's a good reason why you don't discuss religion or politics in lodge because it is very divisive and it just brings turmoil. So for us to live in peace and harmony, you just you don't do stuff like that. Right and that's, that's the message I was trying to get across to brothers and, to a point, I think it worked either that or yeah people, people, stop letting me read their Facebook page.

Speaker 2:

No. No, I think you're right. I think people took notice because you're such a like, everyone loved you. You just have a personality that exudes some kind of it's a leadership quality. Is it? It's like authentic, honest, like you said, straight shooting person, and that is something I think everyone's drawn to when they're in a leadership role, when they feel like it was.

Speaker 3:

I think it was just I've brought it to their attention that, hey, you know you're, you're, you're possibly creating a bigger divide.

Speaker 1:

And they thought about it and agreed and said yeah yeah, yeah, there's definitely a new, a new culture within, certainly within our lodge of of acceptance, and you know that, that you know trying to figure out how we can best work and agree attitude we in our lodge have we, we have a kind of a culture that says that you know, you can talk about anything you want in lodge as long as it's done with gentleness and respect for the other person that you're talking to. And and that has kind of caught on. And we had a, we had a, an esoteric discussion group a couple of months ago where the hottest topics of religion and politics and you, you name it orientation sexual.

Speaker 2:

It came up all the difficult in a group of our guys.

Speaker 1:

I think six of our of our lodges in our district were represented there, several sitting worshipful masters and even a couple of eas in the room, and we had this great flowery conversation about the hottest topics and at the end of the day everybody remained brothers. Every no one was offended or real conversation was a real.

Speaker 2:

It was amazing, it was a conversation. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And I caution anybody listening who thinks, yeah, I'm going to go try that right now. I would say stop and stop yourself and remember that you, any conversation you have within, within the lodge, or as a as a Mason in public, must be seasoned with that gentleness and respect for others. And sometimes gentleness and respect means just keeping your mouth shut, just not saying anything at all. You know, because I have to. The attitude is is that, do I do my words, have my brother's best interest in heart? Sometimes it's better just not to say anything and just put your arms around a brother you know, and just agree to disagree and or just move on to something different, you know yeah, and unfortunately in today's society, we we've lost that ability to to have a conversation.

Speaker 3:

You know we're quick to Bring ourselves down and you know, respond with insults or, right yeah, violent tendencies. Instead of, you know, actually thinking about what somebody's saying and then responding intelligently, we just devolve right into. Well, that's just wrong and I hate you, and right your opinion doesn't matter to me.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we talked about that, I think, in our last podcast. We're going over some of the lecture things that we can talk about and that was definitely one of the things that came up is Is understanding. What we like to say is free masonry gives you training wheels for life. Yeah, because, yeah, the system teaches you how to behave with each other and you almost Mean 98% of the time when you're in a lodge or around a lodge and you, there's brothers, they do treat each other the right way. Right, they do even when they're mad even when they're not agreeing with each other. They've learned how to have respect for each other and like a little bit of tolerance for each other, and so we talk about those are training wheels that at some point you got to take off and go out into the real world and do that too out there. And that was really the problem. You'd see someone in lodge and you it's a different person than you'd see online. Who is that?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we've been kind of going through that with a well-known, a well-known brother out there and Just absolutely just dumping all kinds of hateful speech on his Facebook page and I mean it's a little bit.

Speaker 2:

I've seen much worse.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean right, right, but when you know when, hey, hey brother, can you maybe Reconsider? You know that that kind of direction that you're going in, it's like, if you don't like it, you know, get off my page, get lost. Well, I love all that stuff and it's just like you know we're. Our attitude is is, you know, you're still it, you're still an active mason and good standing. Therefore, you know, we owe you, we owe you respect, but we don't have to listen to it, we don't have to be a part of it, you know. So we, we decided to just move on from you know, from that that particular brother, and because that's all we can do, you know, we, exactly, we can't. I. We fight each other, doesn't get anybody fighting with each other doesn't get anybody, I think sometimes just stop talking if you're not like sure be like that what you're saying to me right now, because that that's a lesson I've learned you can't, you can't police, no, you can't.

Speaker 2:

and I think this.

Speaker 1:

This podcast is dedicated that Chris comes from a center left Viewpoint. I come from a center, right you viewpoint, and the two of us have conversations all the time and Look forward to him. I look forward to him too. It's, it's, it's enriching. Yeah and we gain each other's perspective. You know and and he's he can he has the right to speak into my life and change my mind, and I have the same right to speak into his life. That only happens through you know what the basics of free masonry man, where we treat each other right as brothers. I have my bet, I have my brother's best interest at heart in everything that I do, and I mean I say this all the time on the podcast where are you gonna find a fraternity or an organization that that teaches that, that lives that? You're not gonna find it any of us and I think that's one of the reasons why, as we go online into the digital marketplace and show people what masonry really is, it's probably one of the reasons why it's ascending so quickly, in my opinion.

Speaker 3:

Don't yeah, you know you get two things. One is going back to the brother. That's Maybe inappropriate. Online you can whisper wise counsel, mm-hmm.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's right, and as as mason's.

Speaker 3:

That's what we're taught. You know, if you see a brother that's that's airing, you, whisper wise counsel, there's nothing that says he's gonna take it right so you know you give him the advice and they take it or leave it. So, yes, you know you got to leave it up to them. But you know, even if there's only you got to remember, going back to being able to talk to one another that even if there's only two of you, you're probably not going to agree on everything, right? So it's okay to disagree. It's, it's how you disagree. Yeah, you know. I'm sure there's a lot of things that my neighbor and I don't. I don't really know my neighbor, but I'm sure there's a lot of things that they do that I don't agree with. Mm-hmm, I'm not gonna hate them, right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and if you saw them in trouble and in need, you'd help them. Yeah, absolutely. You know you'd put aside any of the. You know the those differences and you and you'd help them, you know, because that's, that's the right thing to do. That's what it means to be part of the human family. You know we, we saw lost that in this country we are so divided. You know the the left versus right ruse has has kind of, has has infected every aspect of our lives. You know, and it's just become this. You know you either, if you don't agree with everything that I'm about, then I can't, I Can't help you, I can't be a part of your life, I can't be open to you and it's just absolutely killing us out there. You know, it's just it's absolutely cut off all, all hope of any kind of societal healing Cannot start until we get rid of that and begin to love our neighbor as ourself again.

Speaker 2:

Well, more, more and more. When we talk to these brothers, this is something they really are looking for from the fraternity. They let's a little wait. There's a safe environment where I'm not gonna deal with this stuff. That's out there in the world, yeah. I'm definitely interested in that.

Speaker 3:

Exactly.

Speaker 2:

I think we have the answers here in the fraternity. We've just got to get the word out more now right.

Speaker 3:

Right because and and the, the, the social media marketing program that you're very involved in has done a wonderful job, you know, spreading the word and and and kind of putting that light out there and says, you know, hey, come over here and let's, let's talk. And you know, because you're probably looking, or exactly what what we need right.

Speaker 2:

Okay, now let's go there. So you're talking about the Grand Lodge marketing reimbursement program that you started Now, well, the, the Grand Lawn officers that were, yeah, in office when I was Grand Master.

Speaker 3:

We started it.

Speaker 2:

Ah, sure, I was there the day I think it was born and you were definitely leading the conversation, I'll put it that way. And and so what I'm curious of because I saw unlike the the everyday man side of that story myself firsthand I saw a Grand Lodge officer that appeared to be doing something radically different than had ever been done and being quite bold and getting his entire line involved and them buying into it as well, which is an important part of leadership, especially in Freemasonry. But what I'm curious of is your side of that story Did you get? Was it difficult for you to communicate your vision to people, or were they very accepting early on?

Speaker 1:

and like, how Difficult was it?

Speaker 2:

for you to get that kind of a thing going on from your side.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so when I talked to, you know the Grand Lodge officers and and and other administrators and said hey, you know, because I Don't think there's ever been a Grand Master that's gone in the office. It says I want to hurt the fraternity. You know, we all, we all sacrifice a lot to Get in line and say, okay, one day I'm gonna be the leader and that sacrifice is generally I want to help the fraternity. What, what, what can I do to make the fraternity better? What I'm out of office, then when I'm going into office and that was, you know, I don't know what made me think of it or what brought it to you know. But I saw what you were doing and I heard stories and I said, you know, on a bigger scale, that that would help our fraternity, and I started talking to you know, the deputy grandmaster, senior grand warden, junior grand warden, the candidates that were, you know, trying to get elected, and they were, you could see it in their eyes when you started talking to everybody, oh yeah.

Speaker 2:

You know that'd be a great thing to do so.

Speaker 3:

We developed this program. You know the grand secretary and grand treasurer were involved and you know we all got together, put our heads together and came up with this program. And Then the big question was to you, brother Chris, you know, would you be willing to Help us out? And of course you jumped out on board and said sure, and I think that it's just grown immensely and it's doing a great job.

Speaker 2:

It's a great tool that the Grand Lodge is providing to the lodges that they need desperately.

Speaker 1:

I think it's a testimony to, to my partner's tenacity, because I spoke, I've talked to him over these couple of years about this, this program, ever since I became, you know, involved through his program. By the way, that's the reason.

Speaker 2:

I'm here today.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, but is it? It was that there was no way that this man was gonna give up. It was, he was wrestling that bear every single day and the bear finally said fine, it was magical for me when, most forceful, foster Shocked me and took me aside.

Speaker 2:

I was not prepared for the conversation we had, along with all the other Grand Lodge officers. Right, and I'm Mr Nobody over here.

Speaker 3:

Thank you. It's more of oh, my god, this, this guy's gonna ask me to do a lot of work.

Speaker 2:

Honestly the opposite, I thought. I thought in that moment what did I do wrong? What did I do to cause this like? This is not good. There's like four guys here with gold collars. I don't think this is normal and. I was really scared, but yeah, it turns out it was a good conversation.

Speaker 1:

It was a. It was a a Course changing conversation. It really changed the course and I think I think we'll look back On that that conversation that started, the whole thing that brought you in Chris and, through the initiative that most were to foster, put together in his Grand Lodge, that moment, that movement Was, was absolutely gonna be pivotal in in Florida, masonry, for the state of Florida and perhaps Even even beyond, and I think it also ties into this this new Movement towards Continuing, you know, the five to seven year plan of the worshipful master, not just doing his thing and then leaving, but but taking, taking the mantle of the, the five-year plan that he Came into and adding another year to it to push it forward, so that we have that continuity, you know, and that's a big. That's a big conversation happening right now. I saw it in Grand Lodge at the communication.

Speaker 2:

That's most wishful fosters mark also. I think he this is what you did here really did kind of bring that to the forefront of. We really need to look at Continuation of certain programs, right master setup and continuity.

Speaker 3:

So yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So yeah, it's, it's. I even see that in lodges.

Speaker 3:

You know, I Talked to junior wardens and senior wardens. You know, hey, what are you planning on during your year? Well, I'm not planning on anything. Maybe, I won't get elected. So and I think and brother Chris, you're probably experiencing this that From the times you get installed as a master to the time you Hand the reins over to the next time, it goes quick Very it's not a whole lot of time to think and implement stuff and you really need to start thinking about.

Speaker 2:

How are you?

Speaker 3:

gonna better your lodge as senior Deacon, junior warden, don't. Don't wait until right before you get elected, because You're gonna run out of time real quick.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's right. Oh, we've seen that firsthand. There are certain people I've personally know and been friends with that started planning their year four years in advance, right, and they lined up like 25 huge things they were gonna wait until their year to do and then their year came and it just exploded because the reality was right, your plans don't mean anything if you don't, if it's not the lodges plan, your plans are gonna go far right.

Speaker 1:

And what I see by the lodges plan is that the the five to seven year your ongoing plan is makes that possible. Yeah, right, because you and I I remember coming up to Chris on June, right around June 1st, and I and I don't know if this is true, you tell me if I'm right but I, I said to him, I said to him you know How's it feel to be six months into it, and he kind of looked at me like holy crap, it's been six months.

Speaker 2:

I failed already. If it's six months, she's, it's like what wait, it's half over well even now, like right after grand lodge, I've, shortly after I feel like and you I'm sure you understand most worship will. My thinking has changed towards Passing it to the next year already. I'm already trying to make that transition happen now. Well yeah, I'm not pushing my any kind of agenda. I'm I'm in a phase where I'm like getting people really ready to take over tomorrow. I'm making sure the continuity is gonna happen and I'm already trying to step back from things because, right, I want it to be a Hard transition when it happens.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and that's a good thing. You know that the days of this is my year. We're gonna do what I want.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

You know the lodges name. Just because you become worse for master, the lodge is still Gonna retain its name. It doesn't become. You know, jeff Foster, lodge number 267, right.

Speaker 2:

Well, I like the sound of that like a little orange park lodge.

Speaker 3:

You know Well, I don't because you can't have a. You can't have a lot named after a living past grandmaster. So I got a lot of money to get a lodge named after you. You got to do one.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'm not ready to do that.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's right, that's right yeah but anyways, you know a Lodge, just because they've elected you as Junior warden, senior warden, we're from master and and it even goes to just because you elected as junior grand warden, senior grand warden, deputy grandmaster. Grandmaster, you need to push the fraternity or a group as a whole, not just. You know this is my one year to shine Mentality, because that that does nothing for the fraternity and no, yeah, that's right, that's right.

Speaker 1:

And, and we've seen it, we've seen it, sure, we've seen some lodges in real, real dire straits, because the worst full master is literally trying to make it about him.

Speaker 2:

It's amazing how much damage you can do in a short amount of time.

Speaker 1:

The shockwaves are literally reaching our entire doesn't take long. Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 3:

Well, you got to do is is get in there and aggravate a couple brothers and they stop coming to lodge. Yeah, you know that. A couple more stop coming to lodge. Yep, you have nobody showing up.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's a volunteer organization and they forget that. You know that I, when I go to work and my boss is, you know, giving me a hard time about something, I can't just not come anymore, right, but here at lodge if it gets really bad, well I mean, I'm just, I'm just done. I didn't sign up for some guy yelling at me or or doing all of these Polit political moves and all that. I I have no tolerance for that and most men don't. We didn't come here for that.

Speaker 2:

Well, it's too easy to vote with your feet, yeah absolutely. Well exactly. Just say okay, if this is how it's going to be, I'll just go watch TV tonight, no problem. Yeah, right, yeah, I'll hang out with my wife and once you do that two or three times, it's really hard to get them back.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's true. Oh, it is, once you get out of the habit of, you know, going to lodge, it's real easy to get into the habit of not going to lodge, easier than getting into the habit of actually showing up. Yeah, that's right.

Speaker 1:

And what then? You end up with all the brothers that they faithfully pay their dues, but they just won't walk into the door. Yeah, we have a. We have a lot of brothers like you. Just, they faithfully pay their dues because they they. There was a time when they were very active in lodge and something happened. Whether I'm not, I don't know her fault, it was a personal thing happened and they still have an investment in masonry. That's why they continue to pay their dues every year. But they're not right. They're not coming back in until somebody reaches out to them and says, hey, this is what's happening now and I'm hoping that our lodge has. We do have an initiative to reach back to active members and make phone calls to them. It's it's. It's a little difficult, but we're slowly working through it and just trying to ask, ask brothers who are faithfully paying their dues for years and years but have not come to lodge. Hey, man, why? Why aren't you coming? And what? What can we do to get you back?

Speaker 3:

in.

Speaker 1:

You know and I, it's a worthy initiative. We have three hundred and eighty I think it is three hundred and eighty active members, so it's a big list to to go back through. But I know, I know I've signed up to do it, yeah, and a couple of other brothers have signed up to do it. We haven't seen a lot of fruit from it, but it's definitely something that's in the works.

Speaker 2:

Well, what?

Speaker 3:

I found.

Speaker 2:

I got a list from the secretary and I made calls. Early in my year I had this grand idea I'm going to call every member personally is the master and a weekend. I got through about 15 names this year, right, but you know and that's small sampling there are two dead brothers.

Speaker 1:

Right, right.

Speaker 2:

That we didn't even know had passed.

Speaker 1:

And their dues are still being paid by their estate Right.

Speaker 2:

And we're paying per capita for them. Still, and we never you know, did anything for the family. It's just that I was really upset by that that's upsetting. Small sampling that I did. It even happened yesterday. I had a 50 year presentation come from Grand Lodge and I called the brother and his wife said he passed. He would have loved this but he passed. That's terrible, that's not good.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's not good and that's that's something that we're working through in our lodge and that's part of the ongoing. Next year, when Zach is Worshuffle Master, he'll have to deal with it as well, and we're just going to keep. We're going to keep working through these issues because it doesn't stop when Worshuffle burns hands of mantle over to up and coming Worshuffle Zach Weagley Weagley. Thank you. Sorry, zach, that goes back to what Mars Worshuffle Foster said in the beginning with the social program.

Speaker 2:

He cautioned be careful about the Westgate. Yeah, that's right. So anybody you let into your lodge can become the master of that lodge. That's right.

Speaker 1:

And it's our responsibility.

Speaker 2:

We're not advancing people just one chair by one chair, because you did the time. You have to think about who best can do. You can think about who best can work for the lodge.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's right, exactly.

Speaker 2:

And if you see problems like, recognize it, Don't let it just go, because we've seen that in a few short months a problem in leadership can do damage that's going to take years to fix.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, absolutely, it can destroy a lodge.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so it's hard to come out of a hole once here in it, and so that could put him in a tailspin that really could take the lodge down completely if it's not fixed.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, because it's a whole year and when you say you know it could destroy a lodge, that's a very real statement because that person is in in in charge for an entire year and you can do you can do terminal damage to a lodge in a year's time for sure.

Speaker 2:

It's just like our country. You know, we have a beautiful country, a beautiful system of government, a perfect, almost perfect document that we guide ourselves by, and through people having an idea that, oh, it's fine, it's always going to be fine, we're always going to have this. No, no, to protect it. We might not always have this. It's the same for our lodges. I know there's a. I see so many people that think, oh, I was here for so long, it's going to be fine. I think people say that and it makes me so mad. It's not going to be fine if you think not.

Speaker 1:

I am, I visited, I need to go ahead, go ahead.

Speaker 3:

I'm sorry but you can. You can find, you know, go to some of the lodges that have real small numbers after me you know that were there towards the beginning of remacenary in Florida, the Grand Lodge, and just visit. Yeah, you know attrition, and you know I'm trying to think of another word, but as mason's we get into a rut. You know, we elect somebody to the east and they don't. They don't want to do this and they don't want to do that. And you know the next thing. You know you've lost what you're supposed to be doing in lodge and it becomes, you know, just another meeting, right, and the next thing you know it, your membership is not showing up just for another meeting. Yeah, and we've kind of lost that a little bit in our in masonry. We need to get back to it.

Speaker 2:

It's the culture, really, exactly. We need to end that. I mean, this is why I wanted to talk to you. So bad, you get it, you get it we. You know that I, when I was coming up in the line, I thought people were crazy for starting to plan their year years in advance. I'm like, look at how fast things are changing. I'm not going to have the same lodge in four years that I'm sitting in today, and I don't even know if I'll make it there. So every idea I had, I brought it up to whoever was the master. We tried to do it. So in my, when it came time for me to be in the chair, I had no agenda because you know, every idea I had, we already tried or implemented yeah. And so my whole push for our lodge was just to maintain the pureness of free masonry as much as we possibly could, and that's what we wanted for our line this year and and just to start, our five year plan was to just get back to the most basic tenants of free masonry, that we're going to love each other, we're going to be passionate about free masonry and we're always going to act like masons, and I think that's where you have to start right.

Speaker 1:

You guys start at the beginning.

Speaker 2:

You got to deal with the culture before you can deal with the lodge building or the membership problems. If your culture is not right, you can't fix anything else. That's right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and culture is changed by by, by changing hearts and minds. That's how you change culture. You can't mandate it from on high, because it's not going to work. You're only going to reinforce people's stubbornness by trying to make them do something that they don't understand through, through clearly defining what it is that you'd like to do and engaging people where they're at you know, with that, with that mindset of hey, this is our lodge, Do you do? One of the questions we ask people all the time is do you care if your great grandson is a member of this lodge? Would that be something that you would work towards? Does it matter to you if your lodge is here in 25 years? Does that matter to you? And that's, that's part, that's the mindset and culture we're trying to instill in people. It's like this this is your lodge, but it's also your great grandchildren's lodge. If you'll have it, if you'll work towards it, you know, Yep, Yep.

Speaker 2:

This is beautiful, beautiful gift to humanity that, like it, takes a lot of work to keep it protected.

Speaker 1:

That's right, and we're we're actually kind of behind the eight ball. We want to keep it protected, but we have to first. We have to rebuild it, so to speak. You know we have to get back to that place where you know our lodge 147, if you look at the newspaper clippings of the 19, you know 1950s and 60s, that lodge was in the paper every weekend man.

Speaker 2:

They were active in everything.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, the mayor was a mason of the of our lodge, you know, and it just it's, it's not that way anymore. There's a famous picture in our, in our local newspaper from the late 60s where the the masonic parade was going down Main Street and it was massive and everybody came out to, you know, to participate in this masonic, you know, the lodge parade and and and it was active in the community and stuff, and and we, we got to get back there, we got to get away from hiding behind all of the misinformation and cowering to it. You know we're, we're real bold on on telling people what masonry truly is. You know that we're not a conspiracy. We're not. You know, we're not this, we're not not any of that stuff.

Speaker 2:

It's one of the main missions of our podcast, really. We every time we record. I imagine I'm talking to somebody that doesn't know anything about Freemason, that's right. Yeah, I'm going to make sure, because it is for masons. Obviously they want to talk about esoteric stuff, but in my mind, you know, when I was before I was initiated, I consumed all the stuff I could to try to understand it better.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

And there were certain YouTube masons who were making content for people like me that aren't masons to tell them things that they can't understand, and so I think that's really a good way we can try to get ahead of that a little bit we can, because there's a lot we can be open about.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely, and a lot of brothers don't understand that. You know that. Oh well, we're a secret society. We're not really a secret society. We have secrets that society doesn't know about.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 3:

But you know, there's a lot of organizations that have stuff that only members know Pretty much every organization. If you think that, yeah, there's always something that's not public. Right, but you know, freemasonry has been around for so long that you know there's a lot of conspiracy theories and a lot of misinformation. I think it's only because we've been around for so long.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

And there's a lot of information that people should know.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and we're in a day and age where you know a conspiracy theory goes a long way online, you know everybody wants lots of clicks of views. Lots of clicks and stuff. But you know and I know that the conspiracy stuff is not helpful for our cause. But I got to be honest and I say this all the time. I just I kind of dig it.

Speaker 2:

It is a double edged sword.

Speaker 1:

I kind of like the fact that they look at me a little mysterious.

Speaker 2:

You know I got some family members up in North Carolina who just totally don't get it yeah.

Speaker 1:

You know, and I'm more than happy to let them keep thinking what they're thinking.

Speaker 2:

You know just give them a little wink.

Speaker 1:

You know, and I was up there visiting and we were getting breakfast and the one family member I'm thinking about, there happened to be a brother, mason, in line to pay to leave the restaurant, you know, and I could tell because he had a tattoo on his back calf, you know. So I went up to him and I shook his hand, you know, and just said, brother, it's good to see you, brother, it's good to see a brother up here in North Carolina, and we kind of did the chest bump and shake thing, you know.

Speaker 3:

And as I walked away.

Speaker 1:

I could see them looking at me like what did you just do?

Speaker 3:

And it was just like family.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, a couple of extended family members, you know, because they think they truly buy into this entire Illuminati thing. You know, and it's just like. It's like you know what I'm going to. Let you go, go ahead. Go ahead and believe that, even though you've known me since you were a child, right, you know, you've known me since you were a little kid. You know my faith, you know my conduct, but go ahead.

Speaker 3:

You can listen to the online guys, as opposed to listening to your uncle you know, whatever, there you go, yeah, along that same lines. You know, when I was coming in my early days, mainstream people would kind of approach me and talk about that same same line of thinking. You know, oh, you guys are the Illuminati. You know, you have this great treasure map somewhere and I would always just kind of, you know, look at them and go. So you know, george Washington was a Mason, ben Franklin was a Mason. We've had astronauts that were masons. Do you think that those people would be as great as they are if they really followed those lines of what you're thinking they are? Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 3:

And you know they kind of, you know you could sit a little like flickering their eyes. Yeah, yeah, and maybe that's true. It is.

Speaker 1:

It is absolutely true, and I mean fantastical thinking. It kind of lives in that online orb, right? So this fantastical conspiratorial thinking, and you bring it into your head and it lives in your head until you meet someone like us and we ask questions like that. Think about what you're saying. You know for a second, you know just just.

Speaker 2:

Let me just bring two or three simple facts. You've known me forever. All of a sudden, I started eating babies.

Speaker 1:

one day, all of a sudden I'm eating babies and doing things with goats and it's like, but and you can just see them deflate a little bit there's a little bit of disappointment like where, wait, wait? You mean it's not a conspiracy, you mean it's just a bunch of men trying to lift each other up so to better society and themselves and their families. That's no fun.

Speaker 3:

What is that?

Speaker 2:

I don't care about that. It's true, I have family like yours and it's fun in a way. I'm sorry, it's just a little bit fun. You can't really engage people that have a preset. You know, it's really not wise to, in my opinion. No, you're right, you don't want to enter into it, because then?

Speaker 1:

you're, just you're. You become like that. Yeah, that's what it says in the proverbs right If you argue with people like that, you tend to become like them. If somebody's watching you. The word is fool, that's a pretty harsh word, but if somebody is watching you trying to argue with a foolish person, that person is going to say to themselves look, there's two fools.

Speaker 3:

Right, and you don't want that Exactly. You don't want that Exactly.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's a lot more fun because they'll you know, I got. I was obsessed with learning the ritual work and after I learned all that and got all the perfurency cards, I was like, what else can I do in my life? So I started to learn the piano, something I not really learned, but I memorized, oh he learned it. I didn't learn it, I just memorized. I kept the memory thing going. And my wife's family, you know they have a piano in their house. So one day I they know I'm not a musical guy, but I sat down and played a little bit of classical music, you know, and they were like whoa did the Freemasons make you do that?

Speaker 1:

That's the kind of stuff.

Speaker 2:

I get from them Like they'll just randomly and they're talking about, like you know, the cost of avocados, and then be like what are the Freemasons think about that?

Speaker 1:

Wow. Well, when we're sacrificing the Virgin, it's important to have avocados.

Speaker 3:

Exactly, you got to have fresh avocados.

Speaker 2:

It's just amazing what people think out there and you know, like you said, it's just a little fun in a way you don't really engage. I'm not going to represent Freemasonry to people. No, that's right.

Speaker 1:

There's a saying in the scripture that talks about casting your pearls. This is another harsh saying, a harsh word I don't mean it the way it sounds but casting your pearls among swine, in other words taking what is precious? taking what is precious to you and is important to you and casting it before people who have absolutely no desire to understand it and no concern whatsoever for how much you care about it. It's unwise. Don't do it. Yeah, you know, just be discerning and take for Chris and I and I know you as well most worshipful Masonry is important to us and we're very passionate about it and we think it has something to offer society. So to cast it before people who simply blow it off or want to disrespect you or it is not, it's not wise and we don't, we don't engage that we. I love them. They're like I was talking about my family members. I love them to death. I do anything for them, but honestly, I am not in the market to share with them something that they're simply not going to, they're not going to understand or want to understand in any ways. You know, so it's, it's. I don't know. I don't know why I got off on that rabbit.

Speaker 3:

Well, so, if I can, yeah, you can. That is why, along that line of thinking, why we don't solicit membership in free Masonry. We wait for somebody to seek it out, because if they're looking for it, those are the type of people we want, because they're going to embrace our way of thinking If you try to convert and that may not be the best word to use, but if you're going to try, to you know, to convince somebody that doesn't want it that this is who we are and this is what we do. They're not going to really accept it, right? But that's why, you know, with what you were just saying, that's why we wait until somebody comes to us and says you know, tell me about Masonry.

Speaker 1:

Right, because then they're in, they have the mindset and the humility to be taught. They're teachable. At that moment, you know, and then, and then you know. You just simply share the facts with them. You know about what it truly is and it works. It really does work, because I mean, we see all kinds of guys coming in, yeah to us, and but they're very desirous of Understanding. Yeah, I'll frame a city can help them understand the world better right, right, yeah, and it's like you said, because they had, I think, it's like we're so lucky.

Speaker 2:

It's just wave after wave of these people who are such high quality people.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we're. We're making new masons every month. It's amazing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I couldn't have imagined this like four years ago. Yeah it would have been unthinkable what we're doing. Oh yeah, we're seeing where it's.

Speaker 1:

It's because the the program is, is it initiated or has kind of stemmed from. Wyrschfjell burns here, most, most Wyrschfjell foster here, but the it's kind of we're at the fountainhead here and we get the full benefit of the system. And Of course now Chris has been blessed with a lot of brothers who have come alongside him. Yeah, john Schaefer. Yeah, and one of them shout out to John who has really just picked up the mantle yeah, on, on, on doing the Sunday open house. Yep, and you know calling these brothers every week, every time we get, we get names, you know, off off the system. He calls them right away, he invites them down, they come down and he, he, he schedules people to join him, like I was down there the other day with him, and they sit and talk and Give him a tour and give him a, you know, a basic understanding of what it is, what they can expect, and then hands them a petition and he's, he's like 80% of the petitions he hands out come back.

Speaker 2:

This is what happens when you work a program properly. The Grand Lawn. These are the tools Grand Lawn just providing us. All we have to do is work them.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and then and then, continuing along that same line, what, what? What happened was we just got bombarded and you know where I'm going with this. We got bombarded with new petition, with new candidates and all of a sudden, we needed mentors. We need it, we needed catechism instructor. We need it. We needed to engage them, we needed to do masonry correctly so that it would engage them more and more into the ritual work and into the, into the line and all of the, the serving side of it. So we've had to, and we have, go back to creating the, the proper masonic structures, right back to the base, back to the basics within our house, to make sure that when those men come in they're properly mentored, the catechism instruction is done correctly and properly, the degree work is.

Speaker 2:

Um, our, our degree.

Speaker 1:

Our degree work is getting pretty good. I gotta say it's really starting to. It's really starting to get to get good.

Speaker 2:

We've got our, our, our, our degree team well, we have a state competition team Competition largely made up of some 147.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, some 147, which is really anyways, the point is Right. I know that.

Speaker 2:

I get now, we're just bragging.

Speaker 1:

Well, I can't brag, I'm I am. They stuck me in as junior warden because it's very easy in the EA, but I am the turkey flying with these Eagles because nothing is easy when it comes to competition.

Speaker 2:

No, it's not easy, I'm not saying it's easy.

Speaker 1:

I'm not saying it's easy, but I am thankful that I was not asked to be, you know, senior, senior deacon, or something that requires actual skill, because I am. I am struggling, but you know, we've got. We've got right worshipfuls and past deputy grandmasters and past instructors, and and then there's me, the two-year master Mason. So it's it's. I am honored, don't get me wrong. I'm absolutely honored and I am doing my best to step up and make sure I don't let anyone down, but it's, it's a really. This is a clearly a rabbit trail. I'm going down, but it's, it's clearly been just an absolute privilege and and absolutely just Caused me to want to be in degree. Do degree work more and more and more and I'm gonna try to tie this back to where we were is that the, the degree work being involved within the lodge and do the lodge work? is what makes masonry, what makes masonry exciting and it's like I've said before on the show, it's like the cure for masonry is masonry Sure you know doing masonry correctly.

Speaker 2:

There's nothing it needs to be invented, or we don't need to invent anything.

Speaker 1:

Just do it right, exactly and and they will come. You know, because it's awesome, it's exactly what men want, you know exactly.

Speaker 2:

May I ask you some Personal questions before we go? Sure, not too terribly personal, but I'm I'm really curious. Before you became a mason, which for you was 2004, if I'm correct huh, so you had, you had a life obviously you lived a full life before you joined free masonry. Was there anything in your pre-masonic life that you think really set you up for what you became in masonry working through all the chairs, you know the district, and then becoming a Grand Lodge officer and working through the Grand Line and serving as the Grand Master and now, for the rest of your life, being an ambassador for free masonry like before you became a mason. Was there anything like event that you can look at and say I think this really like was the start of what I was going to become is a mason?

Speaker 3:

so I don't know. I Mean it was always, I guess, pre-determined that I was going to join the fraternity. My, my great-grandfather was was a mason, was master of Madelon Lodge in New Jersey. My Grandfather was a mason, my dad was a mason. So you know, just following in lines and and I, I look back and I say you know, my dad, he was one of those guys that if he told you he was going to do something, he did it. There was never any question about whether or not it was going to be done. And when I was young and I never really you know that that that never occurred to me, that never really. You know, popped into my head is, as you know, he didn't need something in writing, you know, to say he was going to do it. If he shook your hand and said that, you know, I'll sell you my house for ten dollars, and he shook your hand, you were buying his house for ten bucks. And it took a little later on in life for me to realize you know those traits in him. But as I, as I grew up, as I matured, I saw those traits and I was like those are the traits that I want to anything and I can say right now, my dad will tell you I was a rotten kid. Well, exactly, you know, and one of his favorite sayings is you know, there were times where he wouldn't even trust me to count nails in a barrel somewhere. You know, but I think you know joining the military and having a good work ethic instilled in me and you know the some of the traits that get instilled to you Serving in the military. You know you have responsibility and now you have authority and responsibility. You know coming up and and one of the things that and I'm gonna digress a little bit but one of the things that I was Well eternally be sorry for, was that I didn't seek masonry out while I was in the military, earlier, that you know, I missed out on a lot, but I didn't know. You know Because, yeah, my dad's an old-school Mason and you just you don't talk about masonry. So I never really knew what I was missing until After I got it, and then it was like, man, I wish that I sought this out earlier, but you know, I always thought, you know, I was in the military, I didn't have time to belong to an organization and do anything Because I didn't know I was ignorant and and. I tell people, anybody that'll listen, you know, if you ever thought about being a Mason, you need to seek it out as early as possible, don't. Don't wait until Till later on in life.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I agree with that.

Speaker 2:

Ever since I've joined, there's been people that I'm like a Drawn to, like a moth to a flame, because they're just great men. There's something about them. They're just great men and, like you're talking about, you can smell authenticness and that kind of like sincerity. And All of those men, when I and I do ask them, is there anything you regret or you wish you would have done? And they always say what you just said I wish I had started sooner. Yeah, absolutely. They all say that I just wish I had started sooner, because this has been the greatest thing in my life yep and. They've served so much and given so much, but all they talk about, like you, is what you've gotten out of it, what it's given you, and, and all I see is, wow, you sacrificed a lot. I think that's the beauty of your time and you know a lot of sacrifice for something and and and that's what I think the outside people don't get is you're getting so much from it, yeah that's right, it's not money. You're not getting your. I'm sure you haven't enriched yourself as a Mason.

Speaker 1:

Not financially.

Speaker 3:

I know but it's, it's all been a labor of love and you know it's. I Would give until I can not give anymore.

Speaker 1:

Yeah yeah, and it's it like. Like we say all the time, masonry is what men are looking for. It's a. It's a you know. It's a band of brothers. It's you know. It's us holding each other up something greater than ourselves. And you know our ritual work and the things we do, the teachings, the, the working tools, the understanding and enlightenment that Masonry brings to a man's mind, within the context of being surrounded by brothers who are like-minded, is exactly what men are looking for. It's how God created us. He did not create us to be alone, fighting by ourselves, because a soldier who fights by himself is is going to die there. It's a guaranteed fact. But if you are strong within that regiment of Now I'm talking like a military guy, I don't know how or why, but yeah, we're stronger together, I feel it. I was in, I was sitting and we were doing an EA degree. The other day, man and I was sitting there in my chair as part of the degree team and I swear I could become emotional.

Speaker 2:

I was over it, yeah, and it was just like I love this man, yeah.

Speaker 1:

I love these brothers, they love me, and this is what when the ritual work is good, you know You're.

Speaker 2:

You're getting an experience that hundreds of years of people have gotten right just as good as you did. Yeah, magical about getting to be part of it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, so recognize that. So if you're, if you're listening to this and if you've listened this long, a good on you, you're. You're a hero to us.

Speaker 2:

They'll listen for hours because most wishful fosters that's. That's right. That's right. Yeah, we have the ultimate hook, but yeah, if you're listening and you're not a Mason.

Speaker 1:

Please we say it all the time go down to your local lodge and talk to them and find out what they're about. Feel the energy for yourself feel the energy for yourself, get involved. And if you are currently a Mason and you're saying to yourself, well, I don't see any of that stuff at my lodge, there's a reason for that because you haven't done anything about it yet, so get exactly get busy. If you see the need, be the need, that's. If you see it, be it, go, do it, get inside your lodge and and make some positive changes and reach out to us. That's what this podcast here is for. We will help you. We know some, we know, we know some big shots, man I got people, man.

Speaker 2:

So here's another one for you. That was, and thank you for that, but you okay, we're talking to a man who is a military guy, has a family, join the fraternity, literally worked through every chair. He was the secretary of the lodge for what was it? Six years. God bless you sure. Yep. Yep became a district deputy Committeeman right, went to the grand line. Like he did everything the hard way, the way you're supposed to do it. Earn the respect of everyone. Blaze trails with the social media campaign. You really, I think, were instrumental in part of what is happening with the Prince Hall Situation. Oh, god bless you. Like he's done just so much. And now, as a past grandmaster, the part that pains me is that these Men have a sense of I need to not I need to go into the background and be in the shadows. Now and it's like such a loss of the fraternity. I think that you can't be as engaged as I wish you were, and out there but now you're here on our podcast and I would. I'm, you know, you are a real person, you're a man and you're you love this fraternity. And you know potentially everybody in the state of Florida that maybe are Masons, but don't even go to lodge, don't go to the grandmaster visits. You have an opportunity to talk directly to them. Is there anything you would say to those masons out there?

Speaker 3:

The only thing that I would, I would encourage, is, if you are not passionate about free masonry, do a little self-reflection and ask yourself why have is that flame extinguished itself? Because you were obviously passionate enough to seek it out. What happened To get that flame to go out? Why? Why did it go out? And then do something About that reason to see if you can't get that flame reignited and and make your lodge and Freemasonry better.

Speaker 1:

Hmm, I love that yeah that's right and I like the the word self. Do some self-reflection. Yeah, take it, yeah well, absolutely.

Speaker 2:

Are you at? Were you at with this? Yeah, stop point your fingers at shadows and other things and look at yourself. What's, yeah, what's got you upset? Was it just a little thing? Was it just a person? Was it a personal situation?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, because I can guarantee you, if that's you out there, you're needed. We need you back. Yes, we need you back Absolutely. We need you good and whole and strong and back amongst your brothers and pushing forward, because our country, I I. Masonry has something to offer this hurting country and I and I think that's there's just no denying it and it's going to happen. We're going that way. It's ascending, it's growing and we will see.

Speaker 2:

We will see it back to its fourth glory, Absolutely Well. I'm really encouraged because I've started to get an opportunity to travel more. I'm getting invited now to Master Mason Associations to speak about the Grand Lodge marketing program.

Speaker 3:

Oh nice, Very nice.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I was just at District 21, which is a huge district 14 lodges, wow.

Speaker 3:

Yes, they take over a lot of square miles.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's massive, that district, that poor, poor Wright-Warshifall Simpson has to make four visits to 14 lodges this year and they are not close together. It's doing an amazing job. But what really impressed me about that is this was a somewhat hostile crowd of the ideas that I was talking about, and the Wright-Warshifall literally stood up and said listen guys nobody's asking the real questions that you want to ask. Ask them. He doesn't. He's not going to get offended. You're not going to upset him, he's not going to melt. Save what you want to say. And it turned into an hour-long discussion at that. Master Mason Associates oh, that's great. The most passionate brothers Master stood up and these guys have been working tirelessly for like a decade, turning their lodges around, almost single-handedly some of them, and it's really encouraging because you see how passionate the people are all over the place about Freemasonry and it just takes like one really passionate person to completely turn around a lodge.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's right. Well, and rally people. I'm looking at one.

Speaker 2:

I'm talking about the brothers of District 21. Personally, it was amazing to me to see that and it gives me hope, because the one that impressed me the most, he was pretty hostile. He was not hostile. He had no problems telling me to my face what he thought about my lodge in the program. He said your lodge is broken, brother, Let me tell you and it's because he didn't understand Right, that's why he said that. So I had an opportunity to communicate with a guy who had an impression that was wrong and we talked about it. I said, brother, my lodge isn't broken. Because he's like yeah, 350 members and you only got 30 people on the sidelines. That's horrible. I got 30 members and I have a higher percentage and I'm like that's great, but my lodge isn't broken. We've lost half our membership in the last decade. We had 600 members, Right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah right.

Speaker 2:

I'm in the same situation as you. It's just a different scale of the problem. And I'm the same as you. I'm one guy over here trying to change things and it's not easy, and we started to bond over the same we're the same.

Speaker 1:

Right, we're the same. The only thing that was lacking was an understanding. An understanding, yeah, which is miscommunication.

Speaker 2:

It's misunderstanding, right, love it. And when we talk about things and that's one thing I really have to say right, warshville Simpson really impressed me you can't shy away from the problems, you've got to stay dead in the face together and talk about them.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's right.

Speaker 2:

It's the only way they're ever going to change yeah. If you pretend they don't exist, you're going to have them forever.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, they'll take on a life of their own, which is always negative.

Speaker 3:

And to put a little light on you. Now that you have spread that light and shown them, it's only going to take one lodge. One lodge is going to start doing good and the other lodge you're going to go, wow look at that lodge. And they're going to follow in line. Yeah, and the next thing, you know it, we're going to be back to 80,000 members, 100,000 members, and it's going to be because of the effort and time that you're putting in. Yeah, that's right.

Speaker 2:

I was telling those guys this isn't a silver bullet. Ok, there's not one answer to every problem, but this is a valuable tool that the ground lodge is gifting you, and if you don't use it, you're really doing your own lodge into service, that's right. I think those guys that were really passionate and worried about some of the aspects of it, you know they're worried. You're going to let in riffraff.

Speaker 1:

That's up to the individual lodge. It's like we said, starting off, the West Gate man, you got it, we're not telling you to take care of it, take the gate down. Man, what we're telling you is to open up a little bit, get some information out there. You know the men who have already. There are men out there who have theoretically raised their hand and said yes, yeah, exactly. Yes, I'm thinking about something along the lines of masonry, and this program just gets us in front of them.

Speaker 2:

That's it.

Speaker 1:

They've already they're already of a mindset, but they just don't have the information. That's all this is.

Speaker 2:

And the thing that those brothers don't realize, and I was able to successfully communicate to some of them is when you're in a situation where you only have 30 members. You're going to become desperate at some point yeah, that's right, and you will start taking anybody that can fog up a mirror, like most worshipful fosters say. That's right.

Speaker 3:

Well it's a great point, great point. You got to remember that back in the early days, lodges were small memberships. It was not unheard of for a person to be master several times because we didn't have mass transportation. It wasn't easy to get into a vehicle and travel 40 miles to a lodge, so you were pretty much confined to just your local area. And those lodges that are small have more of a family feel to them. Oh yeah, If that's not the right words, I'm sorry. No, you're right, but typically what you're experiencing where you have 300 members or 380 members and you get 30 guys that's not normal for lodges in Florida as they get about 10%. They're membership that attend meetings and do work in a lodge. So you got different situations too, because 21 is kind of more of a rural area where you're in more of a city area?

Speaker 2:

That definitely was a topic of discussion. Right yeah, for sure.

Speaker 3:

Well, good, good. I'm glad that was a topic of discussion, because it's just different environments. Yes, you're the same, but you're not the same.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and that's one of the great things about the fraternity is that every lodge, although we're all masons, can have its own different culture and feel.

Speaker 1:

Of course, absolutely.

Speaker 2:

And that's OK, because it should be.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely, it is.

Speaker 2:

Your lodge should reflect your community. Right, yeah, right, that's the beauty of it, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And that's the beauty of visiting other lodges within your district and outside of your district, being that traveling mason, because you experience all the different cultures, all the different people. I want to get out there. I wanted to go with you. So bad, but I had motor core that night I couldn't go. So I'm definitely going on the next one. Yeah, well, we would.

Speaker 2:

I will not be denied. We have another one coming up in another district and I'm really excited about it Because I tell them I'm not running for any office here. I'm doing this because I love the fraternity, like you guys.

Speaker 3:

Right, there you go.

Speaker 2:

How do we move the needle? This is one of the ways, and yeah. So, with that being said, everything I just said to you, you spoke to the everyday brother out there who's not engaged. What would you say to the brother who is in the line, who's getting his MLT trainings? He's about to become an elected officer here in the next year or two. What would you say to that brother? Any advice or message you'd have for those guys who are actually about to become leaders in our fraternity in the coming years?

Speaker 3:

The only thing I would say is remember why you're in that position. When I was in the Navy, we got promoted and when you make the jump from E6 to E7, we would change uniforms. We would go from working uniform to more of a khaki administrative office personnel uniform. You weren't down in the trenches digging the dirt, but we were always taught when you made that jump, don't forget who got you there. You didn't get yourself there. The people that are around you were the ones that got you to where you're at. So just remember, when you become Oorsville Master of Lodge, you didn't get yourself there. You were helped along the way by the brothers of your lodge and you need to be there for them. So most of our children, my little buddy when he got elected or was going through the line or trying to get elected. He had a conversation with most of our Trump. And I used to like to kid around with him because Bob Trump told him make sure the same size hat that you wear now fits your head when you become Grand.

Speaker 1:

Master Good advice.

Speaker 3:

And of course I always tease my little buddy that you know he went out and bought a hat. There was two sizes bigger at that time, so it would fit when he was Grand Master. But I thought that was great philosophical words of wisdom. That he's given to make sure that your head didn't grow so large that you forget the purpose of why you're there.

Speaker 2:

Which is really to serve is what you're saying.

Speaker 3:

Exactly.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, do you know where's full Doug Dobbs? I do, great man. We interviewed him and he said the exact same thing you just said when we asked that question. Yeah, that's amazing. Good man think alike. Yeah, that's right, Great man think alike.

Speaker 1:

Well, on that note, most worshipful foster, we want to thank you for taking the time out to sit with us for this hour and a half conversation about the craft that we love. And I am as a young I'm a two-year master, mason, I think, maybe a little longer- but not that long the years it's the miles, but I've had a lot of great experiences and I've met a lot of men that I highly respect, you being one of them, and I just echo what we said a little bit earlier. I just wish I had done this so much earlier in my life, and I think all three of us would agree when we say to anyone listening don't wait. Don't wait, investigate free masonry and get yourself involved and be a part of what's happening here Because you're surrounding yourself with great men who have done great things, man, and you will never regret it, Brother Chris. Anything that you'd like to add before we sign off with most worshipful foster?

Speaker 2:

Definitely like to give most worshipful foster the last words and the chance to say anything he'd like, absolutely. But I would like to just say thank you also. You really. I had a passion for free masonry, but my involvement with you has lit it to another level. I mean, I have a white, hot, burning heat for free masonry.

Speaker 1:

This is true.

Speaker 2:

Nothing will stop, and you had a massive part in that for me personally, so I want to take this opportunity to thank you for that Personally. You were a great grandmaster and a great leader. Well, thank you. Thank you. An example.

Speaker 3:

But I can reverse that and say that because of you, we had a pretty successful year during my year as grandmaster. So it's a two-way street.

Speaker 2:

I'm not fishing for those compliments, but I learned from a wise man to just say thank you. Thank you very much.

Speaker 1:

And with that we will end another amazing podcast of On the Level with Fred and Chris, our interview with most worshipful foster. Most worshipful foster anything on the way out that you'd like to sign off to our listeners.

Speaker 3:

I just want to thank you guys for having me. This has been a lot of fun and I hope to see everyone soon.

Speaker 1:

Yep, we will Definitely. Wherever you're at, wherever we're at, we will eventually meet and, of course, it will be On the Level.

Speaker 2:

I had to do it. Oh, there it is. I had to do it.

Speaker 1:

So if you've listened to the podcast up to this point, you really are a hero of ours, and if you have any questions or comments, please just email us. Fred at, on the Level with Fred and Chriscom, or Chris at the same longest email address on radio, for a reason. And again, like we always say, or like we always try to say, now that you've heard what you've heard, go back to your lodge and build it strong. Thank you most worshipful. Thank you most worshipful. We'll see you guys. Bye.

Exploring Masonry With Chris and Fred
Education, Military, and Family
Online Behavior in Freemasonry
Promoting Unity and Continuity in Freemasonry
Leadership and Continuity in Freemasonry
The Misconceptions of Freemasonry
The Significance of Freemasonry
Reviving Freemasonry Through Passion and Communication
Saying Farewell and Expressing Gratitude

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