Google+ has established "Communities". I am now moderating an open community for those interested in Prince Hall Freemasonry. You can find it at this link:
"Masonry felt that this Truth had the Omnipotence of God on its side; and that neither Pope nore Potentate could overcome it. It was a truth dropped into the world's wide treasury, and forming a part of the heritage which each generation receives, enlarges, and holds in trust, and of necessity bequeaths to mankind; the personal estate of man, entailed of nature to the end of time. And Masonry early early recognized it as true, that to set forth and develop a truth, or any human excellence of gift or growth, is to make, greater the spiritual glory of the race; that whosoever aids the march of a Truth, and makes the thought a thing, writes in the same line with MOSES, and with Him who died upon the cross; and has an intellectual sympathy with the Deity Himself."
“I’m going to be a Mason”, said my man one day at tea
“It will only mean one evening out - once a month” said he.
One evening quickly led to two, followed by three and four
And pretty soon I asked his name when he walked in the door.
He bought a jar of peppermints and put some in a tin.
“I have to hand them round”, he said, “or they won’t let me in.”
So now when friends come calling and ask, “where is he then?”
I say, “You won’t see him tonight, he’s with the Peppermint Men.”
He dines out fairly often, superb meals, mostly roast.
I sit and watch the goggle-box and eat my beans on toast.
A clean white shirt is needed, his gloves as white as snow,
His suit well brushed, his case to hand, oh dear I wish he’d go.
He’s started talking to himself, I’ve heard him in his den.
I think he’s going crackers, I blame the Peppermint Men.
“I’m going in the chair”, he said, “a position of renown.”
That’s nice, I thought, with his poor legs he’s better sitting down.
“I’ll be the Master of my Lodge” he said, “you ought to be impressed.”
I said, “I am dear – take the rubbish out as soon as you are dressed.”
“You’ll have to make a speech”, said he, “when it’s your Ladies’ Night.”
I looked at him in horror, as fear replaced delight.
I scribbled through a pad or two
as I tried hard to think.
I threw away six ballpoint pens,
when they ran out of ink.
But now the evening has arrived, I hope you agree
That it’s been enjoyable to meet with the Peppermint Men,
To share their Company
and have a four course meal that includes a lovely roast,
Instead of that usual fare of a mug of tea, along with beans on toast.
And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
Fides is from the the Latin meaning good faith, or trust. In the Roman religion, Fides was the Goddess of Trust. Also, Dius Fidius was thought to be related to Fides, and he was a god of oaths (Wikipedia).
The term Bona Fide was considered to mean a "Guarantee of Good Faith".
The term Fidelity was considered to mean "Faithfulness", and ask any Marine, and they will tell you Semper Fi means always or ever faithful.
The term Affidavit (from affidare - to trust) means literally "He has stated an oath".
From this, one can extend out to Federal: covenant, league, treaty, or alliance.
Finally, we note that in the festival devoted to Fides in Rome, the priests conducted her services with their heads covered and the right hands wrapped up to the fingers to indicate absolute devotion to her and to symbolize "trust".
From the perspective of Freemasons who are part of regular bodies which are historically not focused within African-American communities, Black Freemasonry is simply Freemasonry as practiced by Black men or within Black communities. I want to invite my brethren to dig a little deeper however. A better understanding of masonry as practiced in Black Communities will enhance all of our experiences traveling and sharing with each other throughout the fraternity.
Outside of what I will call the Black tradition, many Masons are vaguely familiar with the personage of Prince Hall. You may be familiar that he was made a Mason in Massachusetts before the Revolutionary War, and that most African-American Masons trace their masonic heritage to this founder, and you would be correct. What you may not be as familiar with, is the fact that Black Freemasons at some point recognized that the Masonic lineage of Prince Hall was so clear and legitimate, that all regularity of Black Masonic growth in America would be established upon the foundation of the Masonic events in Massachusetts in the 1780s. As schisms, disagreements, arguments, splits, spurious groups, irregular bodies, and clandestine organizations have popped up throughout the history of Freemasonry in this Country, so they have arisen within African-American communities. In order to preserve the legitimacy and credibility of regular Freemasonry as practiced in African-American communities, the moniker of "Prince Hall Affiliation" or "Prince Hall Affiliate" or "PHA" was adopted by regular freemasonry to distinguish it from what at the time would have been called "spurious", "clandestine", and "irregular" bodies.
For many Non-PHA Regular Masons, "PHA" is synonymous with "Black Freemasonry". This is wholly appropriate and correct. However, a mason may in his travels come across an African-American man, wearing a Square and Compasses, and identify him to be a Mason by the light he is displaying. This man may, when challenged, display a profound and complete knowledge of freemasonry, its rituals, and modes of recognition. You may accept him as a Brother Mason, and be surprised to learn that he is part of an African-American tradition, but it is not Prince Hall Affiliation.
You're not in a Lodge meeting, and you're not co-signing a loan, so you may not be greatly concerned about this detail. But do be aware, this person may not be a part of a regular part of freemasonry. This is a difficult thing for a Non-PHA regular Mason. We are in an age when, between races and cultures, we are all trying to reach into communities where we may be less familiar. If you are not as familiar with the nature of the Black community, challenging the regularity of a man wearing the Square and Compasses may not be how you want to spend your afternoon. And I would not expect you to.
In fact, we are all trying to figure out how to deal with each other. Masonry teaches us that men, not just Masons, should approach each other in friendship and fellowship, and promote peaceful relationships. If the wearing of "light" can make that happen, we should not be stopping this.
What Prince Hall Masons want non-PHA Regular Masons to understand is just a little more about the nature of "Black Masonry". All Masons should try to raise their awareness of the nature of the community of our fraternity. We don't want to shun or disdain each other in the street. We want to engage and discuss. Just let us educate ourselves a little further.
Prince Hall Masons are likely proud to be Masons who are also Black. We are proud to be "Black Masons". But we are more likely to refer to ourselves as Masons first, and of Prince Hall Affiliation second. The first, being a Mason, acknowledges that ours is a global fraternity, which is not restricted to our own community, although it is where we may live and work. We are proud to be able to travel to other jurisdictions where we are recognized and in amity. Ours is a regular tradition of Freemasonry, not an offshoot. The second term, that of being of Prince Hall Affiliation, is all that needs to be said about our Black or African-American heritage. By this, you should be able to know that we are a regular body, wholly legitimate, recognized by nearly all Mainstream Masonic bodies in the United States, and our international recognitions closely mirror those of Mainstream jurisdictions, and for the same reasons. By the phrase, Prince Hall Affiliation, you know you are talking to someone with an African-American tradition he is proud of. There are members of PHA bodies of all races. And we recognize that we are welcome to join Mainstream lodges.
So, Brethren, please consider digging a little deeper as you become more familiar with "Black Masonry".
Communication is key to Lodge success. Some Lodge communication is bogged down in tradition. Masonic Education is recognized as important. But what about shedding light during Lodge? What about opportunities to learn while outside Lodge? Here's a radical idea that is still not Masonic innovation: Make information available electronically.
I know the arguments against it. But I think it is a matter of doing it well. It can be done well.
Many members do not commmunicate electronically...
Understood. However, many do. Lets make information available to those who use email or websites. When Brethren are fully armed with information, we may find that they are willing to be ambassadors to others, serving as a conduit of information to those who might not otherwise hear of it.
Some information is not intended to be published...
This makes sense. But we're not talking about publishing on the front page of a website for the public. Internal communications about the calendar, the budget, and the program for the year should be able to be made into PDF documents and distributed via private email. Some Lodge members may read this and shake their heads, surprised that some Lodges are still not doing this. Still others with shake their heads surprised that some Lodges are still considering this. We understand that one size does not fit all, and technology does not fix all problems.
But strike by strike, we need to continue trying to perfect the stones we are working on. One of those stones is Communication. Where there are imperfections, we need to try to introduce perfection, or at least an incremental improvement. Let us consider introducing electronic communication for Lodge business.
The "Egyptian Mystery System" as George James in his book Stolen Legacy points out "had as its most important object, the deification of man, and taught that the soul of man, if liberated from its bodily fetters, could enable him to become godlike and see the Gods in this life and attain the beatific vision and hold communion with the Immortals." It sought "the liberation of the mind from its finite consciousness, when it becomes one and is identified with the Infinite. This liberation was not only freedom of the soul from bodily impediments, but also from the wheel of reincarnation or rebirth. It involved a process of disciplines (several liberal arts) or purification (ten virtues, negative confessions, Book of Coming Forth by Day) both for the body and soul."
From The Symbolism of the Crown in Ancient Egypt, by Richard D. King Journal of African Civilizations, November 1984 (vol. 6, no. 2)
"From a psychoanalytic perspective a symbol has been defined as an act or object that represents an unconscious desire which has been repressed or automatically forgotten without ever having become conscious to the observer. Symbols are inherently linked to deep spontaneous unconscious psychological processes. In contrast, signs are linked to largely conscious processes in which the observer consciously and arbitrarily allows one thing to stand for another. for example, in the case of a sign, ten different observers may use ten different signs to represent the same item. In the case of a symbol, different observers may use the same symbol to represent a wide variety of different classes of objects because it somehow spontaneously occured to them to use the same symbol."
From The Symbolism of the Crown in Ancient Egypt, by Richard D. King Journal of African Civilizations, November 1984 (vol. 6, no. 2)
Historians debate when the Tuscan Order emerged. Some say that Tuscan was a primitive style that came before the famous Greek Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders. But other historians say that the Classical Greek Orders came first, and that Italian builders adapted Greek ideas to develop a Roman Doric style that evolved into the Tuscan Order.
The man who asks his friend to take his petition into his lodge touches his second Masonic symbol. Only by the good offices of a friend may he ask for the privileges of Freemasonry. Freemasonry differs, then, from the school, the college, the job, the business house, the life-assurance society; to these the stranger may apply, as indeed he may apply to many organizations. To Freemasonry he may make not application without the good offices of a friend. When his application is acted upon, a committee is appointed, charged with the duty of ascertaining what manner of man he is, whether he is of sound mind, sound body, free born, under the tongue of good report, a reputable citizen, able to support himself and family, and, in the words of the Old Charges, no "stupid atheist or irreligious libertine." It is obvious that a man is not accepted at his face value by Freemasonry. If Freemasonry does not accept a man from his general appearance, or even from his general reputation, it must be because she knows that a man is not always what he appears to be. In the opinion of the fraternity man has both an inner and an outer aspect; he may be freeborn and sound of mind and limb; he may be "under the tongue of good report" so far as the friend who recommends him knows, but the fraternity insists upon further knowledge; it is the inner man for which she searches; it is the spiritual man she would understand, before she confers the benefits or her rites, her secrets, and her brotherhood.
Emphasis is placed on this preliminary symbol, this investigation, this searching, because it holds the keynote to all of Freemasonry's methods of teaching. It appears a very obvious course to pursue, and ninety-nine out of a hundred accept it as such. "Of course they want to know what sort of man I am!" argues the prospective candidate. "They don't want to associate with bad men. They don't want to accept an object of charity. They want regular fellows; well, let 'em investigate!" But the hundredth man pauses to wonder how Freemasonry came to know so well that there is an outward and physical and inward and spiritual man, and that it is the inward and spiritual only which must count in Freemasonry!
We who are old in the Craft know too well that the ideal is often toppled in the dust by the careless committee; that men quite otherwise than "good and true" get into the fraternity. Perhaps more get in than we know; if so, then some of them are lifted up by what they find. We may never learn their true character if they change it after they are subjects of Freemasonry's gentle art! Perhaps it is the will of the Great Architect that we work always with some imperfect material to prove what manner of builders we are! But the fact that men less than good do become Freemasons, at times, has nothing to do with Freemasonry's teaching, long before the door is reached, that man must not be judged by exterior alone, that even a friend may be mistaken about him, and that only a careful digging in the depths will reveal what he really is "in his heart."