On The Level Podcast

R:. W:. Duane Marshall & Bro. Shawn Cooney: A Tapestry of Beliefs, Diversity, and Compassion

February 28, 2024 Christopher Burns Season 3 Episode 6
On The Level Podcast
R:. W:. Duane Marshall & Bro. Shawn Cooney: A Tapestry of Beliefs, Diversity, and Compassion
On The Level Podcast
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Have you ever pondered the intricate tapestry of beliefs that unite men in the quest for enlightenment? Right Worshipful Dwayne Marshall, the sage behind "A Past Master's Thoughts" on Facebook, graces us with his wisdom and experience, weaving through his diverse Masonic journey. From being a lodge master to engaging with the Eastern Star and Kansas DeMolay, Dwayne embodies the spirit of Freemasonry. His insights are a beacon for those navigating the delicate balance between personal growth and fraternal duties, sparking conversations that challenge and inspire.

Brother Sean Cooney, Junior Warden of Sarasota Lodge 147, joins us to share the beauty of Freemasonry's embrace of all faiths—a mosaic of beliefs enriching our brotherhood. This episode is a testament to the power of tolerance, showcasing how respectful debate and learning from differing perspectives fortify the bonds of fraternity. We reveal that the lodge is not just a place of ritual but a sanctuary where brotherly love flourishes, painting a portrait of a community that finds strength in its diversity.

Venture with us beyond the lodge doors into the realms of personal life and relationships. I openly reflect on my polyamorous journey, drawing parallels with the core Masonic value of honest communication. We also celebrate the unshakeable camaraderie that defines our brotherhood, from charity fundraisers to the intimate 'junior deacon hour'. As we raise our glasses in togetherness, this conversation is an invitation to exemplify love and compassion in every facet of life—Masonic or otherwise—championing the timeless principles of our ancient fraternity.

https://www.facebook.com/apastmastersthoughts

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Speaker 1:

One. We have to decide what to do with the time the skeleton does. You've reached the internet's home for all things masonry. Join on the level podcasts as we plumb the depths of our ancient craft and try to unlock the mysteries, dispel the fallacies and utilize the teachings of freemasonry to unlock the great myth within each of us. I have you now, Yay, Okay, welcome back to on the level podcast. Hope you're enjoying our new intro as much as I am probably not. We have with us for this episode Worshipful and if I get this wrong, you correct me, brother Worshipful Dwayne Marshall, who is the owner and proprietor of the Facebook group you may have seen Is it a page or a group? I don't know, We'll find out called the past master's thoughts. Welcome to the podcast, brother.

Speaker 2:

Oh, thank you, brother, I appreciate it.

Speaker 1:

Excellent. So you're probably most well known outside of your local area for the past master's Facebook. Is that a page or is that a group? No, it's just a page, just a page. Okay, yeah, just a page. So like, if you wouldn't mind, this podcast broadcasts all over the world, so a lot of people aren't going to know who you are. If you wouldn't mind just giving us a quick rundown on your Masonic background.

Speaker 2:

I'm a past master of active lodge 158 out of Atchison, Kansas. I'm a member of Overland Park, where I was raised in 2011. That's Overland Park 436. Currently getting ready for my third term as a district deputy in the grand jurisdiction of Kansas, I'm the associate patron with my Eastern Star chapter in Lenexa. Just found out yesterday I'm the director of Masonic relations for Kansas D-Malay. Congratulations. Oh thank you. It's nice to find that out online. It's great and a member of the Free Runners Masonic Order.

Speaker 1:

Free Runners Masonic Order.

Speaker 2:

It's a motorcycle group and it's a worldwide organization.

Speaker 1:

Oh okay, Similar to the widow's sons.

Speaker 2:

Similar to the widow's sons.

Speaker 1:

Okay, and third time district deputy To me that sounds strange. In the jurisdiction of Florida I don't know that they recycle district deputies very often. Is that something that is common in your jurisdiction?

Speaker 2:

We do have it in our jurisdiction where guys will serve more than one term. They like it when brothers will serve two. A lot of times it's one. I really enjoy it. You get to go out and visit the other lodges and work with the brothers and I love sitting in the lodges and seeing what they do, so it's really a good thing for me.

Speaker 1:

And now the reason I know you is because I'm actually very active on Facebook. You're very active on Facebook and you created this past master's thoughts page and you share your thoughts about the fraternity. Tell me a little bit about how that started, or why that started, if you would, oh absolutely.

Speaker 2:

I was elected as master of my lodge in Atchison and realized which and I can get in later how I ended up in Atchison. But they elected me as master and I realized that there were a lot of chairs that I hadn't set in, a lot of knowledge that I didn't have as I progressed and had questions, not just questions about the fraternity, questions about life in general and how masonry impacts us and that kind of thing. And I decided that if I have those questions, so do other people. So let's start a page and let's just ask them. The entire focus and the only reason for that page is just to get people to think and converse.

Speaker 2:

We have a number of podcasts yourself, wince, came you winding stairs, round table, historical life, any number of them that touch on history and the esoteric side and okay, let's discuss day to day how does this impact you? And there will be times that brothers ask how I come up with things. I have brothers send different thoughts and say, hey, this would go great on your page. What do you think about this? None of those articles really come to mind until I'm sitting on my front porch with three fingers of libation and a stick and I just start writing. It's all spur of the moment stuff, really.

Speaker 1:

Okay, yeah, you don't have like a long process where you're self editing stuff and coming back to it the next day. You're just kind of go forward and post it.

Speaker 2:

A lot of those are written on my cell phone, which would explain the number of typos that brothers see when they read those.

Speaker 1:

I've never published anything that wasn't replete with typos.

Speaker 2:

Oh man, I'm telling you, my wife will get a hold of me when I'm done and says you might want to jump on the laptop and edit that because that was a mess. Yeah, but that's how that all happens. It's all just spur of the moment, what happens right there, kind of like a daily meditation.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so pretty much the things you're writing about are things going on in your life.

Speaker 2:

A lot of it and your Masonic life. Well and personal a lot of it. There are some topics that I might need to back up on a little bit. I went back and read some of them and over the last week or so religion has kind of been a forefront.

Speaker 1:

So, like that's a touchy topic, you feel like people don't want to really go down that rabbit hole.

Speaker 2:

You know, and I was thinking about that earlier, and you post something about religion, and I come from a very eclectic background and I tend to make a lot of jokes about it and that sort of thing. I was born in the 70s and really grew up in the 80s, when and I mean no offense to anybody if this is whatever but in a time when Jesus wasn't the son of God, it was Jimmy Swagger- yeah, and the mega churches you know, in the mega church thing and I grew up in a very evangelical background and I tease that you know the difference between the church that I was raised in and Appalachian snake handlers was we didn't handle snakes.

Speaker 2:

And you know, brothers look at me and they go. You're not laughing and I'm like because I'm not kidding. But I came from that and I studied in some conservative churches and some liberal ideas and was initiated into a neo-pagan group involved with Wicca and that's a very eclectic thing and I understand that within Lodge we say that we don't discuss religion and politics as a gentlemanly thing. But there are times and really calling out the craft and again, I was talking with you earlier about listening to some of the past episodes that folks get upset. I have to ask are we really mature enough to have those conversations without someone getting upset?

Speaker 1:

I think that in a format like we're having right now one man to one man it's a lot easier to have those conversations. When you're on the internet, like Facebook, for example, it gets really difficult to have those conversations for a variety of reasons I think.

Speaker 2:

Oh, absolutely.

Speaker 1:

So I could see that you have a. I could see you having a tough time with like a Facebook page and the comments and and the conversation. Oh, we have a. We have a mystery guest who just joined. This is the man that introduced me to you. His name is brother Sean Cooney, who's the current junior warden of the mighty Sarasota Lodge 147. Welcome to the level podcast, sean my brother. Look at that man's getting cheered welcome, welcome. Thank you for coming, yeah of course.

Speaker 1:

I told Sean we were recording in five and he thought I said at five, so that's my fault. That's my fault. I got fat fingers when I text. I can't do it properly.

Speaker 3:

How we doing right where's your book?

Speaker 2:

Not bad how you doing, sean.

Speaker 3:

Not so bad. Good to hear you again.

Speaker 2:

Good to hear and see you.

Speaker 1:

We were like we covered his masonic History and we were just talking about kind of what he does on Facebook and kind of got into its conversation about One of the only things he has to check himself with his conversations about religion, and so we were talking about how, like this, this format now we have three guys even this kind of a situation is a hell, a lot easier than going on Facebook and try to talk online About religion.

Speaker 1:

That's a whole another world of You're opening up because you know people act different when they're not in front of your face oh, most of all and Second of all, you get a lot of people that you didn't even want in the conversation, that chime it and People are easily offended about their beliefs too.

Speaker 3:

You know, and I think that's one of the most important things about Freemason, and one of the things that I value so much about Freemasonry, is it where it doesn't matter what religion you choose. You know what I mean. We're still brothers, you know I mean, and we all believe in the thing that's right and we believe in. You know, the all of these good books. They all have such great, beautiful things in them, you know, and if you live your life by those books, I mean most likely you're doing all right, you know.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean it's something that we have.

Speaker 1:

If you've ever listened to the podcast of the last several years, it's an issue that comes up all the time and you know our my personal belief is a Mason who's been active in Masonry and had a lot of experience in it is the intention is to keep the lodge, business and state of communications Clean and pure.

Speaker 1:

We act very different in a stated or call communication than we do in the dining hall and we act different there than we do at the fire pit around my house drinking bourbon and having cigars. Right, there's like levels to this stuff and what we do in a business meeting or call communication is absolutely off limits, in my mind, and rightfully so to discussions about religion and politics for the purposes of debate, I think in education that involves a religion. No one's complaining about that and Lodge, I've seen it many times. However, the conversations that we're gonna we might be having like right now Are gonna be a whole nother thing and I don't think that there's ever been an intention to prohibit Mason's from talking about religion or politics as people Right. This is really just limited to the stated and call communications in the Lodge agreed so.

Speaker 2:

I would, I would. I would agree with that. To a to To a point.

Speaker 1:

No, you have to wholeheartedly agree to it.

Speaker 2:

Oh well, no, I've walked into. I've walked into a, into a meeting, and and a brother made the comment that if you're not of this faith or this flavor of faith, and you can't be a Mason, and I'm like, then it's time for me to to walk down the street because I don't meet that I One of the most beautiful things and it's actually part of what drew me to masonry in the first place, because I was seeing a lot of, a lot of different Organizations and a lot of different groups that that claimed the very thing that that masonry professes Right, we love everybody, we're on the level, we're this, we're that. And In the 11, 12 years that I've been a Mason, this is an, all honesty, one of the only places that I've ever really found it, yeah, and wholeheartedly Believe in it.

Speaker 2:

I'm very passionate about it. That's why I write about it a lot, and you have a perspective that is, in the minority in the fraternity.

Speaker 1:

Okay, and being in the minority. I was talking to somebody about this a friend of mine, a business associate and he was talking about protesters and how horrible protesting was, and I was trying to explain to him that when you're in the minority, you have to try to make yourself heard a lot harder, and so that's why you're seeing protests from any minority group or that's why they're talking about something that involves them Specifically, because they have to raise awareness to the issues they're dealing with so the majority can have an ear Towards their issue and maybe start to change their thinking about that issue. If they don't talk about it, it's never gonna change. So conversation has to happen.

Speaker 1:

Clearly, the brother you're talking about Doesn't okay for those that aren't masons and for those that are longtime masons. The guy you just described it's not knowledgeable about masonry. We can all agree on that right. He had no business Saying that if you're not a specific religion, you shouldn't join, because that is not part of the tenants of our fraternity. It's quite the opposite of the tenants of our fraternity, yeah it's freedom of religion.

Speaker 3:

That's why why we have that as a right in our Constitution, you know, and it's very prevalent in Freemasonry and it should be. That's why we can put different books on our authors. You know, whenever you want to take your obligation, you just have to believe in that higher power and you have to have some kind of Faith so we can tie up.

Speaker 2:

Oh, yeah, most certainly. And and one of the things that I really enjoy and I've set in lodge With Muslim brothers one of one of my really good friends as a Jewish brother. They have so much to teach me to step outside of my comfort zone and and what really makes that individual tick and I talked pretty regular about, and I was chaplain of my lodge at one point, and I would always end my closing prayer with please allow us to take the light of masonry into a darkened world. I truly believe and absolutely believe that it's the one thing that will save it. Yeah, and if you don't take masonry out of the lodge room, masonry will die and that's just it.

Speaker 2:

So here's I've said I want to go and and and visit different and, while we're still on the on the on the spirituality side of things, but visit a muslim mosque, a Sikh temple, a hindu. What makes the people in my community tick? And it's really your heart and your faith. And so how can I better take masonry into the outside world in a way that you'll understand and you'll relate and be on the level, not just with my brothers in the lodge, but with everyone I come in contact?

Speaker 1:

with. I've said this many times on the podcast, that and that I think about things weirdly, I know, but I really see the lodge and the way that they're telling us to behave as training wheels for the real world. It's like training wheels. It's like gives you support structure. This is look, you're doing it, you're walking the straight line now you're riding that bike and then when you go out in the world, you got to take the training wheels off. Man, you got to be that way. Now, in the street, the same way you are in the lodge.

Speaker 1:

I've met men that have been elevated to positions of great power, that act one way in the lodge and are completely different outside the lodge. You would think they're two different people and they are two different people. You're getting two different versions of that person. That isn't masonry. Masonry is to be that way all the time. So you'd hope that that brother's working on that and trying to do that. But that's the goal for all of us as masons is to try to bring the light of frame masonry into the world and it has to be part of who you are. If you're going to do that, it can't be something you play at twice a month. Absolutely. The tolerance for religion is definitely part of that.

Speaker 1:

I say tolerance, because you can't expect you know. It's like my wife's father's from another country. He's from a different era and trying to get him to understand what non-binary, trans, cisgender is is never going to happen. I got to get him to understand that there are gay people in the world. You have to take steps. You can't go from A to Z. You've got to go through the process of learning and educating yourself. Masonry really helps you take those steps of learning about yourself, your biases, the things that you do that hurt people, and looking, internalizing it and learning how to change those behaviors to be the most positive, contributing member of any relationship you're in, whether it's your work, family, right, your church, whatever the situation is to be a positive, contributing factor to that community.

Speaker 2:

That's absolutely true and because Masonry, you know, we say it's a fraternity, it's a philosophy, it's and it's all these things. But you're absolutely right, it is a relationship not just with your brothers-in-law, with the people in your community, but it's a relationship with yourself and you're really learning who you are man. It was a lodge, massachusetts, I believe. That did the Ben Franklin videos, yeah, and they were talking about the measure of a man and Masonry, measuring who you are. It's discovering yourself and discovering you.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and you know the thing about the. It's like if you are only, if you're only subjected to the same thing over and over again, you never grow. There's no opportunity for growth there. Like you said, you want to visit a Muslim mosque, you want to visit a Sikh temple, because not because you want to convert your faith, right, it's because you want to understand people better.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely.

Speaker 1:

Where are they thinking the way they think? Where are they coming from? What are their hopes and dreams and fears? And you get that from looking at their faith. You can understand a person better. It doesn't mean that you're going to try to convert yourself just to look at a thing. It's like sports. If you're on a sports team and you only practice with your teammates and never play another team, how good is that team going to be in a playoff where they finally play another team that's been playing other teams all season? That's not going to go so well for that team. Like you have to test yourself, you have to test your beliefs and be open to having conversations with people about things that you don't understand. And you find that most of them.

Speaker 3:

there's so many similar points of view, just told in a different story, but they are saying the same, based on the same basic principles. There's so much beautiful symbolism and, just like in Freemasonry, we have all of these symbols and illustrations. They're just all of these beautiful lessons that are just taught in a different way. People want to argue about it and then kill each other over it.

Speaker 1:

For us. Like Jackie, I think, wrote it. He said Mason, we understand alliteration and we understand allegory and taking moral lessons from things and into a Mason. You don't care if that's Christianity or Egyptian mythology or Shilveric stories from Middle Ages. The point is you're looking for the moral lesson to take from it and try to learn from it. And the second view, as a Mason, start trying to prove that Hiram Abif was a real man and when he lived and what he ate for lunch. You're losing the point of it all. You look crazy, right.

Speaker 3:

And, like you said, you don't have to shift your beliefs and like no one's asking anyone to change their beliefs at all, like I want everybody to believe hard in what they believe and I think that's good, I really do. And if you are a super religious person and whatever that may be, I think that could be really good for you. It's just to be open and to be able to pick apart those things and find those beautiful aspects and lessons, and whether it's Egyptian or what, to be able to find those pretty lessons and apply them to your life, I think is really valuable, and that's what we do in Masonry all the time.

Speaker 1:

Pretty much, yeah. And so what, if you don't mind me asking, Dwayne, it sounds like you're in a minority religion. What religion would you prescribe to these days If?

Speaker 2:

you're willing to share. No, no, no, no, absolutely. And, like I said, I've looked at another or at a number of different faiths. I found that I'm not and, much like Sean was saying, I'm not really a fan or subscribed necessarily to an organized religion, but try and see the spirituality in all of them. I think that there's. If I was to practice daily spiritual ritual, it's probably more wicked and an earth based flavor than anything else.

Speaker 1:

That's a really hard one to knock. When you have a religion that worships like the sun, it's hard to discount that the sun's real and exists and is worthy of worship. That's a tough one to really kind of knock, isn't it?

Speaker 2:

Most certainly it is, and it's really interesting with the seven liberal arts and sciences and how that tends to tie in a bit.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you know, I had a candidate that I brought into the fraternity and he went through his first degree. He's a pagan and so I was excited because they do a lot of ritual and stuff and he is spiritual. So he met all the requirements to be a Mason and he got his inner apprentice degree and he called me that night and he said what the hell was that? All I saw was Christian, this Christian, that Christian, everything Like. Listen, man, open your eyes, think deeper. Okay, Look at the look at the symbol that they explained to you in the inner apprentice degree the circle with the lines. Okay, Take away. Take away the images on the surface and what you're seeing are ancient hermetic principles.

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

Right, this is your belief system and it is their belief system. It's all in there. It's not like one thing is wrong and the other one's right.

Speaker 3:

It's just flavors like you said labels, and I imagine it'd be kind of kind of hard to be open and it shouldn't be, you know and Masonry, we should just be open. But I imagine there's a lot of pushback from people that don't necessarily understand what that is. You know what I mean To be a pagan, or to a wick or anything like that, because what they believe is against that. You know what I mean. But it also says in the same books that you shouldn't judge that other person and you should do nothing but love that other person. So you know, I think that we that's what our duty should be, you know is to love your neighbor as yourself. That's a Christian one, right, you know what I'm saying. But it's a good one. It's a good one, you know. Don't kill. That's another Christian one. I think we can all agree.

Speaker 1:

It's probably a good one. You needed. That one is amazing to me.

Speaker 3:

Well, you know what I'm saying. We just got to be careful not to judge each other. You know for what we believe in and judge the man by his character. You know what I mean, not his beliefs, right?

Speaker 1:

That's worthy of judgment, the way, a person acts is worthy of judgment.

Speaker 2:

It was really funny when I did my first degree a number of years ago. I went through and did the first section and I'm going back out of the, out of the lodge room and and I'm chuckling and laughing a little bit and one of the guys looks at me and he goes I don't understand what's. What's funny? I don't understand. I just looked at him and he goes wait a minute, all right. And I tell him I'm going that isn't new, I've done that. And he looked at me and he goes wait a minute, you're wicking, aren't you? And I go uh-huh, yeah, I am, that's not new.

Speaker 1:

Actually I have a couple Wiccan friends in the fraternity. Like between two lodges I have three friends that are Wiccans.

Speaker 3:

I don't want you Buddhist friends and Hindu friends.

Speaker 1:

Yes, yeah, but then there's a lot of.

Speaker 3:

Majority is mostly Christian, but then you have, you know, you have plenty of the Jewish faith as well, like we had one of the members of our lodge straight up convert to Judaism, which was pretty cool and interesting. You know, mm-hmm, I say live and let live. You know, irritates me, I'm not gonna lie. It irritates me a little bit when people are, you know, pushing on each other to believe something that you know, because it in all reality, we're just on this planet traveling to our deaths and nobody for certain Knows anything. And I know a lot of people that'll rub people the wrong way too, because you know, if you believe hard enough, you can sit there to be a fan.

Speaker 3:

But there's nothing that is, but there's no certainty in life. Certainty is madness. If you are so certain about anything at all, you're a madman. You have to be because nobody really knows these things. Until you're there, you can believe, but nobody really knows.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, just, we're not to suck live life and try not to try not to suck, but and and you're right, and if you're so certain, you're so closed in that you don't open to new thoughts and new ideas, and we're supposed to be free thinkers and Open to that. I mean, yeah, you know, everyone has something to teach through life experiences.

Speaker 3:

So what closes you off to love really? You know, I'm saying I think that's like the biggest Aspect in all religion it's such a huge part about being alive is love, and when you close yourself off to it it's I don't know, it makes me sad a little, you know, because that's really what it is. It's like, no, I can't be friends with that guy because you know what I mean or you know You're casting judgment where's a different hat than I like to wear to church, so I can't be with that guy you know You're just closing yourself off to love and I think it's so important we lose sight of that and in the world today Is just loving each other.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think that is definitely 100% the Masonic. The essence of masonry is learning how to love your fellow man, even if you don't understand them or agree with them.

Speaker 3:

Mm-hmm, for sure, absolutely very, very true.

Speaker 1:

Those are the training wheels that we get in the Lodge room that we're supposed to carry out into the rest of the world. And Not everybody makes it. Yeah, and not everybody cares to try, and that's okay. You know, people come to masonry for different things and they get different things out of it. I understand that.

Speaker 1:

But for me personally, I like him all about masonry and I like to surround myself with the real deal, talking about guys that are looking to take a journey in life Of self-improvement and self-discovery. Those are the people I like to surround myself with as a Mason. And you know, I think that's what I tell people. I get a lot of calls from through the podcast of people complaining about their situation in In their lodge there, that it's not right and the things that aren't good about the people that are in their lodges, and what I, the the council I give them is go to another lodge and Start seeking people that are good mason's and only associate with them, and you're about to have a completely different masonic experience than what you just have been going through for the last year, two years or half a long it's been. Don't try to change those people. Just go. Just go find another place where you can find people that are more like when you're at in your masonic journey.

Speaker 2:

And I and I I agree with you as well, as I was listening to some of the back episodes. Today there was some discussion about taking a new brother and going and visiting a lodge and and Working with with Grand Lodge. I get emails every once in a while of people interested in wanting to join the fraternity and I'll send those emails. We have nine lodges within my area that's not too terribly far here in here in the Kansas City area and I will send that email to each one of those lodges and then get a hold of that brother and say let me take you and let's go visit some of these. Well, yeah, but lodge ABC is three blocks from my house. Well, okay, that's great, but their focus may not be right what best suits you? Or, you know, you may feel more comfortable at a lodge, maybe Ten blocks down the road, you know whatever. But but let's go visit those lodges and find the one that really works for you, not just, hey, there's a lodge next door. I.

Speaker 1:

Think that that's wise and more people need to do that and, you know, I Think the fraternity in general has gotten itself into. Many of the lodges have gotten themselves to places where they're desperate for membership and they just want to get some people in the door. And the conversation about is this the best lodge for you isn't happening all the time, as as often as it should, and sometimes there are lodges that are a better fit for certain people. I mean I I talk about that all the time. I Am not a member of the lodge. I started and I found a lodge that was a better fit for me and the lodge that I'm in now. I often refer people to the lodge I came from because I think that lodge might be actually a better fit for them based on their situation. You gotta you know you got to match up the person with the lodge, because, oh, it's amazing how different the cultures are, different lodges.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, dynamics.

Speaker 1:

Did I lose you, cooney? Are you still here? Oh, I'm here. Okay, cool yeah.

Speaker 3:

I'm here. It's definitely different dynamics and I didn't see you, no matter where you go. I think you know what I mean in and out, and I just know it yeah, Ah your video is going in and out.

Speaker 1:

I just noticed it.

Speaker 3:

It happens sometimes when you press the button like this. So where you go, I mean it really it does change from lodge to lodge, even though I'm not there. There's different leadership and control, there's different, you know, levels of motivation, but one thing that should all be universal is our tenants and our beliefs. We and we should really, you know, be I Don't know I want to use the word aggressive you know I mean to uphold to that. You know we should all, regardless of who's there in the dynamic, that one thing shouldn't change from lodge to lodge to lodge, and that's free masonry in its own.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we all share the same tenants and beliefs and the digest of Masonic law, at least within our jurisdictions, and and all of them should be living that at least, and that's one thing like when I was the master of a lodge.

Speaker 1:

If you went to my installation on day one, that was my speech. We're gonna try to be good masons. All year I tried to be an example of a good Mason. At the end the last thing I said was I hope this was good for the Lodge and I hope that we were. I hope that at the end the best compliment you can, you can give me or any of my officers is you you are a good Mason. Like that should be the highest honor for us. To get that. Praise like that means that you learned and you're trying to do better and that that that shit is hard. Women is hard to do. You're talking about. The reason that people cling to things and that they're so sure is because it's easy to do that. You don't have to consider other people's opinions, ideas, you don't have to question your own Ideas or are accepted truths. It's easy to live that way.

Speaker 1:

It's much harder to open yourself to the fact that you don't know everything and You're most likely never gonna know everything. That's not an easy way to live this life well, I oh go ahead Sean.

Speaker 3:

No, absolutely Go ahead, brother, I.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, brother, brother's great, brother's great, I it was. It was interesting because at my installation I, when I talked to the lodge, I Told him that they're that I'd only found one perfect Mason. And and my entire life and and all the time that I was involved in before and all that, I've only found a single perfect Mason. And I reached behind the podium and pulled up a jar and and set it on the podium and it said you know Perfect Mason? And it was this Mason jar and I go, that's it.

Speaker 2:

You're, you are going to fill that with your experiences and we end up we, we took donations out of the year and whatever and filled the jar and adopted a family for Christmas that year. Now, out of what we raised out of that jar, I've asked people from time to time who the most important person was in the lodge and it's the, the friend that you just placed in the northeast corner, that he, he's your foundation and I. I would really throw it out that we never, really ever, leave that chair. We're always in a state of learning, in a state of discovery, and Masonry is a lifelong journey and it takes your whole life to figure it out, really, and Absolutely you know we're, we're learning about ourselves in the fraternity and we never really leave that spot.

Speaker 3:

I Always say, like I don't know why they gave me so many working tools. I'm still just working on my first one. They gave me you know what I mean, like Constantly working that that common gavel out.

Speaker 1:

You know I never be for sure, a lifelong.

Speaker 3:

Have you ever talked about the thing? I brother, cliff Bernetti, brought this up when he was doing an education, I believe. But um, the perfect stone is not Smooth and and shiny. If it was completely smooth and completely perfect, it wouldn't hold mortar, you know. It would just slide off, it would be no adherence. So it takes those extra pits in there and a little bit of imperfection in order for it to be Fit for a builder to use it.

Speaker 1:

You know, I mean, I thought that was a cool thing, I said that is I like that and it's like it's true and I there we did an episode about this I like to surround myself, I said, with good masons, but also broken people, because they understand the value of everything in life, they understand the value of love, they understand the value of like being respected, and they aren't going to take those things for granted. And so you know, someone that's come out of some crap in their background and dealt with some Really bad shit in their life is somebody that's usually really interesting first of all, but not boring people, and and they don't take anything, especially your relationship, for granted. So I love being around people like that, because I'm a person like that, I guess.

Speaker 3:

Well, I am like when I first John, I was like y'all really know, I mean be like you know.

Speaker 2:

Well, and and it says it's those imperfections that, like you were saying, that make us unique, yeah, and and give us the opportunity to Show ourselves to other people, because and we're kind of dancing around around the word a little bit, but it makes us vulnerable and we have to be vulnerable to our brothers because that makes us open and raw and honest, which you know. Some of the stuff that that I write and I post it's that's, that's very raw, that is that is how I am, and being open and being honest to everybody and and those those articles have gone around the world. I've had guys from from England and wherever go hey man, can I use this? A masonic education, and it's wow, you guys are really hurting for a masonic head.

Speaker 2:

Okay yeah, sure you know, feel free.

Speaker 1:

No, man, you never know what other people are going through and how much help it is for you just to say things out loud that other people are thinking and aren't saying.

Speaker 3:

Well. I'm a fan boy? I'm definitely a fan boy. I always love your, your posts. They always give me something to chew on, you know.

Speaker 2:

I mean, there's always something there, you know, something to think about, if nothing else, just you know, I mean he's at it again, you know well, and and I appreciate that and that was part of of why I started writing those, because if I thought it, somebody else is thinking about it, let's discuss it. And if you disagree with me, great, I love it when people you know I go up and I get the pad on the back going Good Lord, right, where's being great? That man? That's awesome, that's wonderful. Okay, thank you. But I also love it more when you know I didn't completely agree with you, and here's why.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, now you're having a conversation which is what you're gonna do.

Speaker 2:

Let's be open about it.

Speaker 1:

Okay, now we talked about religion. You said, I could ask you anything. I can ask you anything.

Speaker 2:

Feel okay, roll the dice. Let's see what you got.

Speaker 1:

Okay, three two, one fight. Okay, here's the deal. You are not in a traditional relationship, are you sir?

Speaker 2:

I love you, chris. Thank you, brother, uh-huh no.

Speaker 1:

I am not. Is this something you're comfortable talking about?

Speaker 2:

Uh, sure, we can, we can talk about it.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so we in my lodge in Sarasota, we have pretty much Everything under the sun, I think, represented in our brothers. Yes, now, the one thing we don't have, uh, but we do actually have an. Uh, I know and I'm not gonna call out the lodge of the brother but there is somebody in our district that is in a polyamorous, amorous relationship. You don't have it in my lodge. That's probably the one thing we don't have as far as I know. But, uh, I do believe that you may be in that situation.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I've heard rumors. Yeah, yeah. You got you got two ladies.

Speaker 1:

I, yes, yes, I do. I need to know how that happens, please, and I would like a playbook that we can uh go by ourselves To make that happen in our life, um.

Speaker 2:

I had my hands full of warm. Yeah, I got my actually it was really kind of funny. I had a past grandmaster asked me the same question and every time we talk in private he's like hey man, how does that work? And I'm going. Well, you know it's not for everybody. Yeah um, I Met uh Jennifer at first off me and my wife, my legal wife.

Speaker 1:

We have been married. Married now what?

Speaker 2:

13 years wonderful rock solid.

Speaker 2:

I met Jennifer actually uh, doing some work between my motorcycle group and, uh, dima lay. Uh, there was a radio station here in Kansas City that was doing a uh A thing for veterans and we went and collected uh, hygiene products, socks, that kind of stuff to take to the local va and I picked them up and, uh, matter where she were Excuse me, matter where she worked and you know you're, you're kind of cute, that's you know and went on and kind of left it and A few years later I'd had bariatric surgery and and all that. And uh, we showed up at a dima lay event.

Speaker 2:

Me and Jennifer liked to tease that we started dating over a dead brother and it was a day of remembrance and honor of frank land Found her, a dima lay, who's buried here in Kansas City. So we went to the memorial service and she was there and we started Dating after that and things just took off. Now where we've been together about three years, everybody, everybody's happy, everybody's cool, the the thing that really revolves around this and, by the way, I am not a preacher for polyamory it works for some and it doesn't for others and uh, it takes a lot of effort, a lot of work and a lot of open communication and a lot of being honest with yourself.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I will imagine, because Even with two people, communication is difficult. I can imagine with three how much more difficult it would be if you're not being open and communicating.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, we is. We as a, a family unit, have had to sit down and we've had some very, very rough conversations, um, but we've grown from them, uh, because, much like in life and and masonry and for the love of god, I'm not really trying to tie polyamory and masonry together because there's some brothers now pulling their hair out and chris, you're gonna get phone calls and all of this Um, but it does. It requires being open and honest, being on the level, being upright, being square it, speaking your truth of who you are and trying to understand where that other person's coming from. So, Um, yeah it. It can be incredibly interesting. Um, I caught a lot of flak for it from, uh, some brothers in the fraternity, basically because jennifer is a brother's daughter. There there are some folks that question Obligations in kansas and and whatnot over that.

Speaker 1:

But did you have a conversation with the brother.

Speaker 2:

Yes, I most certainly did, and that brother is. I go to his birthday and go to his house regularly. So but, and, and, and, and.

Speaker 1:

There's nothing wrong with that, because it's as long as you've spoken to the mason and he's agreed with you that this is uh okay. What's the problem?

Speaker 2:

Well, and, and, and it comes down to again communication and respect. And if that brother, even though we're all legal adults I mean I'm 53 and everybody's in their 30s, and all that if he would have said you know, I'm really not comfortable with that.

Speaker 1:

Just skipped over something. You got two ladies in their 30s and you're in your 50s.

Speaker 2:

Oh, did I say that?

Speaker 1:

What? Let's say yeah, okay.

Speaker 2:

Oh well, yeah, thank you, but no, if that brother would have said, hey, I'm, I'm not Super comfortable with that, then that would have been into story. Okay, we're, we're done, we'll go grab a beer and some pizza, and and at the end of the day I'm going home, so it. But yes, you, you are, you are accurate in that and that's. You know, that's not anything I've ever really been shy about, but yeah, there there are some brothers that are comfortable with that and some that aren't yeah, well, you know You're not asking them to join your relationship, you're just asking them to accept you as a brother.

Speaker 1:

That shouldn't be right now.

Speaker 2:

That would be a little, that would be a little weird. I think our, my Nikki, my wife, uses the term Polly saturated. She goes we're Polly saturated. No more, we can't do no more.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Polly saturated sounds gross, polyamorous sounds romantic.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 3:

No, I'm living that live. I can tell you what I'm not gonna do, though I'm not gonna. I'm not gonna go after that. Whoo, I said my hands full with one lady. You are a monster to be able to do that. Just a beastly back and take all of the burden on in the world. So God bless you oh. I think, women are burdens, but oh, Lord.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I think I think they take care of me more often than not, and that's that's a wonderful thing. I'm very blessed.

Speaker 3:

That's awesome, that really is cool.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I. I mean I Never been in the polyamorous. I only learned that this was a thing Couple years ago, when when I met somebody that was in one and I had to Google it because I really didn't understand what was going on.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I feel like Mormons or something. You know what I mean. Do that right Like mornings Mormons.

Speaker 1:

Oh, mormons, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 3:

I thought that's what that was they used to, for sure. If you look in history, you know what I'm saying. It was common forever.

Speaker 1:

I think Solomon had like three or six hundred wives, something like that.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, something like that I mean. So it's not, it's not crazy at all.

Speaker 2:

And lookie there. And Solomon was credited as being the wisest man in the world.

Speaker 1:

So maybe, maybe he has more to teach us. Uh, I don't know. You have two. Do you think you can handle another 498?

Speaker 2:

No, I have a hard time with two.

Speaker 3:

I got a hard time with one. No, she's great, she's great.

Speaker 1:

Well, I believe he was also one of the richest men men to ever live, so maybe that, maybe you got to have a lot of money to handle that many women you know.

Speaker 2:

I yes.

Speaker 1:

So you, when you post your past master's thoughts, as you you alluded to earlier, you're usually sitting on your porch Having a libation and smoking a cigar. Now, what is your favorite libation in these pictures that I see?

Speaker 2:

Um, I Am a fan of. Now, if I, if I have been a really, really good mason, I will grab me a bottle of bellveni. I love my bellveni scotch. However, I have found that, um, like, uh, jack Daniels or Jim beam honey Is really good. Sprinkle a little bit of sea salt in it and that's good stuff. No, that's, that's very good stuff. Um, I'll also get one and, uh, I have a cocktail smoker, I'll put in on top and I'll smoke one. That's, that's really pretty decent.

Speaker 3:

No, I would do. I would do the smoke on me.

Speaker 2:

But yeah, oh, now I will say, I will say that, uh, my cigars, because I am a brother that supports brothers, so I smoke masonic cigars and I am there's. There's a specific band. I'm really, really, really trying to get in the Kansas City area and have uh passed a few around.

Speaker 3:

What would?

Speaker 2:

that be, if, if, if we might maybe be able to, uh, if we might be able to Get three ruffian cigars. I'm going to matter of fact, I'm sitting at, uh, my cigar lounge right now and I'm gonna talk with them and, uh, I gave them some and I'm gonna see what they thought and have them reach out to y'all. I've been trying to.

Speaker 3:

I certainly appreciate it, brother.

Speaker 2:

I certainly appreciate it.

Speaker 3:

I'll make sure we uh Send another little care package out to you.

Speaker 2:

That would be tragic. Those might end up in a in another article or few, oh well.

Speaker 3:

I mean, but uh. I know Right on, but no but I'm the, the, the sales rep for three ruffians. So now you guys know. And, and they are a few cigars come to this guy.

Speaker 2:

They're a very good stick. Uh, they're a very good stick and I've done my best to send some brothers your way when they ask.

Speaker 3:

Well, we certainly do appreciate it. We definitely do, and it's it's real cool to see that, you know, I mean like I said, I'm already. I'm a fan boy. I love the, the pass, master slots Anyway. But every once in a while I'll scroll and I'll see one of ours on there. I'm like that's a three ruffian.

Speaker 1:

It's fun when you see it in the wild like that. It's like what? Oh my goodness, it is really cool.

Speaker 3:

It's been a fun experience and I'm really looking forward to the future moving forward. I think it's we got nothing but good things coming. So Three ruffians cigars with.

Speaker 1:

All in all fairness is a sponsor of the podcast, so thank you for being on and thank you for your contributions to keep us going. Of course, it does cost money to do this and we don't make money, so sponsorship is greatly appreciated.

Speaker 3:

It is a pleasure.

Speaker 1:

But you know that that that's a. You know people don't like to mix business and free masonry. I've heard it. I've gotten ridiculed for being associated with it. But here's the thing If you enjoy a thing, you kind of want to play with that thing, and this is uh, this isn't a. I don't think this is an endeavor to become multi-millionaires Because of free masonry. I think this is a group of people that really enjoy Quality stuff and want to raise money, for I think you give a percentage all the proceeds to, uh, masonic body right.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, to the shrine, absolutely yeah, we definitely. Uh, we, we donate a percentage I believe it's like 10 of everything we sell goes to the shrines international. And then also we just did a raffle for our brothers over at liberty lodge and they ended up making I believe it was eight hundred and sixty dollars profit for their lodge and their benefit, which is awesome because we love liberty. Liberty has sera soda 147s back All the time. Every single thing that we do, they're they're showing out for and we try and give them as much love in return. I mean, it's our district in general is really really tight and we're really really lucky. I don't think a lot of people realize how lucky we are in our district, but so we're always trying to, we're always trying to help out and we're definitely not trying to make a million bucks.

Speaker 3:

This is just something. That is Hours, and it's masonic and the idea behind it too. You know, some of us are a little bit more rough around the edges Me in particular, you know and we relate to the guys that do have a bourbon and a or a scotch and a cigar, and we can talk about things and it's a little bit more comfortable for some than others and that's just what we promote, I think you know, definitely not trying to get rich. We're I mean, we show you the financial statements we're definitely not getting rich. There's money, yeah, it's. It's just a fun journey and we like the camaraderie of the craft and it's just, it's just a fun thing to do.

Speaker 2:

Speaking you know, sean, and it's and it's fun that you bring that up um, some of the best masonic education that I've ever received has never been in a large room, absolutely. I mean, you know you, you have your meeting and you have your your time set aside for masonic education and and, and it's great, and there's brothers there and it's this way with other organizations that that I've been a part of. The masonic education really starts when folks go home. You, you close the lodge and folks are, hey, I'm not going to make it, I'm not going to whatever.

Speaker 2:

And A lot of times there's been a couple lodges that I've been at During ddgm visits or just visiting in general, whatever. Uh, they'll have what they call the junior deacon hour. Well, they'll go down and they'll pour three fingers and have a cigar and sit down and have discussions, like we're having now, where I don't want to say the gloves come off. But it's a little bit more open, it's okay. What do you want to know? Let's, let's talk, and that's really some of the best masonic education I've had has always been after a lodge meeting.

Speaker 3:

I agree wholeheartedly. I think that's where true Freemasonry happens. I mean it's what we learn in the lodge and we experience in the lodge. But where true Freemasonry happens, I believe, is outside of the lodge. And our brother, um John Schaefer, who's also a partner of mine for three roughians. He has a, you know, a monthly little game that we play and during that time we have more deep conversations about real things and we get into esoterics and talking about, like the true thing that we're trying to do.

Speaker 3:

More often than not and you know I probably Rub some people the wrong way, but I tell a lot of the EA when they show up. You know I'm saying like this is where it happens. You know what I mean. Like this is where the real masonry happens. I mean it definitely. Everything that we do for a stated meeting is necessity and it's important and it's it's, it's what makes us us. But the the real work happens when you leave that lodger room. You know, yeah, you get to hang out with your buddies and and really get into stuff, and you know it's not for everybody. I'm not promoting drinking and smoking either, you know. I mean that's not for everybody. I mean everybody Gets what they need from different places. But for me personally, more often than not, over A good, a good bourbon and a good cigar, I've really found some insensitive things to work on, you know.

Speaker 1:

What I love about the, the fun part of that, is you, you, uh, you duane, you smoke, so hireman Solomon, cigars also, yes, and hireman Solomon are the two kings that are the heroes of our stories. And you, you juxtapose that with the three ruffians now who are the three bad guys in our stories, to kind of embrace those uh Superfluities and vices. So you've got this cool juxtaposition of the heroes and the uh, the bad guys, who are both masonic cigar brands. I think that's fun.

Speaker 3:

I think it is too. It's cool.

Speaker 1:

That was clever. Whoever came up with that idea, cleaver? So, um, you know we're coming up on about an hour, which is what I asked you for, and I do appreciate you giving us that much time. You know this isn't the format. I think, duane, you said this was the first time you've ever been on a podcast.

Speaker 2:

It is this. This is a format that uh, uh, I'm getting comfortable with. Uh, I'm not a huge public speaker, although, um, there, there's an event coming up in july that, uh, it, the the speakers haven't been announced, but I have a feeling my name is uh is going to show up for masonic on kansas. Um, we'll, we'll see what, uh, what mason, what the masonic con team wants to do with that, but, uh, yeah, this is. This has been a fun experience. How about you shaw?

Speaker 1:

I hope to be on a podcast before, but on a video log, anything like that. Huh, have you ever been on a podcast? Shaw, oh god no absolutely no this first thing too. Okay, yeah, definitely.

Speaker 3:

But I hope to hear from duane more often. Man, he's always got like a really yeah awesome perspective on things. You know what I mean? I just love. I love talking to him. I really do.

Speaker 1:

No, I appreciate yeah we'll have to take like one of your more like uh Uh Conversation starter topics and like talk about that topic on the podcast with you. That'd be fun.

Speaker 2:

Oh, most certainly we'll do that and I'll play around and see if I can get the camera on my laptop. That would be nice. Whatever reason it's, it's failed on me.

Speaker 3:

It'd be super cool to have like a little pass master's thoughts every once in a while, you know.

Speaker 1:

Yes, yes, we'll, we'll, we can live talk and see if you can't make that people that actually Comment on your page to come in live and actually in an engage with us while we're recording.

Speaker 2:

That's the next level.

Speaker 1:

That'd be, fun. We're gonna be live streaming on facebook and youtube while we're recording. Uh, oh, that would you'll get access to the pre edited content, which is always Way more juicy than the edited stuff you see.

Speaker 3:

So I hope I get to see you on. Uh, what was it? July 27th?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, july 27th.

Speaker 3:

Well, we're working on a little bit of a trip. It just so happens to be july 27th and I believe the destination is kansas, so maybe we'll get you to have a drink and a smoking person.

Speaker 2:

Well, I'll tell you first first rounds on me, right.

Speaker 1:

I'll tell you. I'll hold you to it. So, dwayne, you got an opportunity to speak to the entire world, all masons listening anywhere in the world. What would you like to leave them with on the way out? Man, I really put you on the spot there, didn't I?

Speaker 2:

Well, you did, and that's okay. If we can find a way and and I'm gonna, and I'm gonna leave this just just like I do my, my closing prayers always, always, look for a way to shine the light of masonry into a darkened world. But remember, you're that light, it's you. You make the difference in your, not just for yourself, but for someone else.

Speaker 1:

Hmm. I love it. I love it, thank you, thank you Now, sean Cooney. He's been it to think what would you like to leave the listeners with on our way out? He wasn't thinking, he's having a snack maybe a sip a, a little spirit.

Speaker 3:

I would like to encourage our brothers To keep that open mind and that open heart and to just really lean on love and compassion, because I think it's Missing and the world right now and I think we could use more of it. And I just want to really drown that into people and have people think about that a little bit more than they do.

Speaker 1:

Tolerance and love in our hearts. And when you go out into the world, remember You're representing the whole of Freemasonry. To these people, you might be the only mason they're ever gonna meet and you're the light in the darkness. Thank you, brothers, for being with us today and I can't wait to do it all again. And thank you for listening to on the level podcast.

Exploring Freemasonry With Past Master
(Cont.) Exploring Freemasonry With Past Master
Inclusivity and Tolerance in Freemasonry
Exploring Diversity in Spiritual Beliefs
Navigating Polyamorous Relationships Within Freemasonry
Masonic Brotherhood and Camaraderie
Promoting Love and Compassion in Freemasonry

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