Iowa Freemasonry is a personal journal of a Freemason in central Iowa. This blog documents my Masonic research interests, experiences, and reflections. Welcome!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

New reading material

I have some new, and some old, reading material on my shelf this week. I’m finishing the introduction in my paper on the symbolism of the Ashlar in Freemasonry and I requested two books from the Iowa Masonic Library to help me fill in the weak areas. I’ve borrowed the first title before- The Craft and its Symbols: Opening the Door to Masonic Symbolism by Allen E. Roberts. Actually, I think this may be the third time I’ve borrowed it! I like this book a lot. Roberts summarizes common and not so common symbols in a clear, concise way that doesn’t patronize the reader. It’s a very short book, and yet it does a great job covering a comprehensive number of Masonic symbols. And at least one Masonic librarian agrees with me: Roberts’ book is on the list of suggested titles from a recent article on the Supreme Council’s website.

A second book I borrowed from the Grand Lodge of Iowa A.F. & A.M. Masonic Library is Mark Tabbert’s American Freemasons: Three Centuries of Building Communities. This book comes highly recommended as well. I haven’t started it yet, but I’m curious especially to read this author because of his Iowa Masonic roots. I attended the Des Moines Scottish Rite’s Blue Lodge Breakfast last week and we were treated to a short video about George Washington and the National Masonic Memorial, of which Tabbert is the Director of Collections. Shane Harshbarger, the DSM Scottish Rite’s Master of Kadosh introduced the video by telling us that Tabbert was raised in Iowa. I did a little more research and found out that indeed, he was raised in Malta Lodge #318 in Burlington.

The third book I have waiting for me is The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Freemasonry by S. Brent Morris. I just picked this up at Barnes and Noble with a gift card I received at Christmas.

Now if I can just put the books down long enough to get that intro finished!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Robert Burns Night hosted by the Des Moines Consistory

The Des Moines Consistory hosted Robert Burns Night on Tuesday, Jan. 25 at the Scottish Rite Temple in downtown Des Moines. This was my first Burns night ever!

Pipers Jim Jorgenson and Steve Layton, Worshipful Master of Operative Lodge #308, opened the evening in fine style with an inspiring performance on their bagpipes. Both were in full Piper dress (above photo is from Jay Simser at Bailey's Buddy). Jim and Steve joined the diners at my table and we enjoyed their explanation of the meaning of much of their regalia.

After a delicious dinner- no Haggis here thank goodness- Pete Taggart reviewed “the immortal memory” of Burns with an entertaining speech highlighting the Scottish Poet’s life and work. Bob Speed delivered an informative narrative of Burn’s poems, including some of his most famous lines:

Some have meat and cannot eat,
Some cannot eat that want it;
But we have meat and we can eat’
So let the Lord be thankit.
(Selkirk Grace)

Liberty’s in every blow!
Let us do- or die!
(Robert Bruce’s March to Bannockburn)

Ron Lindhart entertained the audience with song throughout the evening including leading us in Auld Lang Syne, which ended the festivities.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Grand Lodge of Iowa Webpage

Senior Grand Steward Darrell Fremont of the Grand Lodge of Iowa A.F. & A.M. is updating the Grand Lodge website; the new link is here.

Brother Fremont is Past Master of Star Lodge and also a member of Operative Lodge in Polk City.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Des Moines Scottish Rite Blue Lodge Breakfast

The DSM Scottish Rite hosted the 11th Annual Blue Lodge Breakfast on Saturday, Jan. 22 at the Scottish Rite Temple in downtown Des Moines. The breakfast was free to all Masons and is the Des Moines Valley’s way of saying “Thank You.” The full breakfast included eggs, hash browns, sausage, cinnamon rolls personally served by Grand Master Craig Davis, coffee, and juice.

After the breakfast, Master of Kadosh Shane Harshbarger introduced special guests as well as a video courtesy of Mark Tabbert, Director of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. The short video highlighted George Washington and the Memorial itself. Tabbert was raised in an Iowa Lodge, and in fact, Shane himself helped raise him!

I had a great time at the breakfast. It was fun to see several of the members of my class from the November Reunion and I also had an enjoyable visit with members of my Lodge, Operative Lodge #308 in Polk City.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A new Fellow Craft at Operative Lodge #308 in Polk City

Operative Lodge #308 in Polk City, IA passed Bryan Bever to the degree of Fellow Craft Monday evening January 17. Brothers from the Grand Lodge of Iowa, A.F. & A.M., as well as Star, Mount Olive, and King David Lodges all participated in the work. Afterwards, we enjoyed cake and coffee courtesy of WM Steve Layton.

Monday, January 17, 2011

2011 Officer Installation

Operative Lodge #308 in Polk City, Iowa installed its 2011 officers yesterday. Congratualtions go to Worshipful Master Steve Layton and special thanks to Past Master Timothy Davis. Lodge members, Freemasons from surrounding Lodges, representatives from the Order of the Eastern Star, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, and the Grand Lodge of Iowa, as well as family members, attended the public ceremony. Installing officers included Dean Johnson PGM, Rodney Halverson PM, James L. Trotter PM, and Michael B. Aves Sr. PM.

The 2011 Officers of Operative Lodge #308:
Worshipful Master Steve Layton
Senior Warden Timothy Davis PM
Junior Warden Chris Millhollin
Treasurer Michael B. Aves Sr. PM
Secretary James L. Trotter PM
Chaplain Rodney Halverson PM
Senior Deacon Keith Gordon
Junior Deacon Mike A. Miller
Senior Steward Lon A. Laffey
Junior Steward David A. Seery
Tyler Terry L. Burk
Marshall Gordon Schofer PM

Past Master Lane Shaver provided the music along with Brother Steve Moeckley and his bagpipes.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Master Craftsman Program

I have finally finished the fourth quiz in the Scottish Rite Master Craftsman Program. The Program focuses on the history of the Scottish Rite, its structure and organization, and its Masonic teachings. The format consists of six open book quizzes covering two texts: The Scottish Rite Ritual Monitor and Guide and Bridge to Light. The quizzes include 20 multiple-choice questions and one essay question; staff at the House of the Temple in Washington, D.C. evaluate each quiz. More information is available at the Supreme Council’s Master Craftsman page.

I found the fourth quiz to be the most challenging so far; it has definitely taken the most time to finish compared to the others. I’m looking forward to continuing my study in the texts. The most beneficial part of the course for me has been its structured approach to reading the Monitor and Guide. This is a book with over 1000 pages consisting of extended quotes from Morals and Dogma and other demanding sources.

Quiz 5 covers the Consistory of the Masters of the Royal Secret and the following readings:
Monitor and Guide, pages 703–878 (1st ed.), or pages 739–914 (2nd ed.), and A Bridge to Light(2006 ed.), pages 285–312.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

2010-2011 State High School Debate Tournament results

DMACC (Ankeny campus) hosted the 2010-2011 IHSSA State High School Debate Tournament this past weekend and results are complete. Dowling Catholic won 1st and 2nd place in the policy debate division, West Des Moines Valley won 1st and 2nd in the Lincoln-Douglas debate division, Indianola won 1st and 2nd in Public Forum debate (large school division), and Okoboji won 1st and 2nd in Public Forum debate (small school division). Congratulations!

If two teams from the same school are scheduled to debate one another in the finals, they don't actually debate. Instead, the higher seed of the two is declared the winner. This is called a "close-out." I can't recall a time this many debate divisions all closed-out.

There is also a sweepstakes award. This award goes to the school which does the best in all of the debate events, including Student Congress. This year, Des Moines Roosevelt won the sweepstakes award.