Old Leo Letters – April 26, 2012

Old Leo Letters
Masonic information from the Old Leo

Very recently I had the privilege to attend and participate in a Masonic Education Conference of the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Minnesota. There were very good speakers who brought enlightenment to those of us attending on a variety of worthwhile and interesting Masonic Topics.

One of the speakers, W. Brother Roger Firestone, PhD in his presentation mentioned about decisions that that seem difficult to make, said to consult with a disinterested friend for his opinion; he added that disinterested didn’t mean what some think it does, and to look into the word.

A few years ago I wrote an article for the Philalethes, the magazine for The Philalethes Society, having to do with the disinterested Friendship. When I heard W. Brother Roger’s reference to the term I began to think it might be time to distribute it in More Light. Up to now it was only published in the Philalethes.

Disinterested Friendship
By Ed Halpaus, FPS

In the charge delivered near the end of the ceremony for the installation of officers in the Blue Lodge the installing officer, in at least one jurisdiction, has this dialog “Finally, my brethren, as this Association has been formed and perfected in so much unanimity and concord, in which we may greatly rejoice, so may it long continue. May you long enjoy every satisfaction and delight which disinterested friendship can afford.”

The phrase ‘disinterested friendship’ is something worthy of study to learn what it means in Freemasonry. It is amazing the way the founders of the ceremonies and rituals of Freemasonry included such interesting lessons; they seem to be hidden ‘in plain view’ because they are often either overlooked or taken for granted.

The dictionary says the word ‘disinterested’ means not interested; free from personal interest or advantage; not being influenced by selfish motives. Disinterestedness, as used in the ceremony of installation, does not mean apathy. The phrase ‘disinterested friendship’ is meant to remind us to be free from self-interest, indifference, personal interests, and any hidden agenda we might be harboring. It reminds us of the tenet of ‘truth’ wherein it is explained how Masons join in promoting each other’s welfare, and rejoicing in each other’s prosperity.

Disinterested friendship is important to cultivate in our lives, both within and without the Lodge. For many of us disinterested friendship seems to be an easy naturally possessed attribute. For some of us it seems that disinterested friendship is something we constantly need to work at in order to have it improve within us; maybe those who appear to have this attribute naturally, continually work at it too.

There is an old maxim; “It is easy to have a positive attitude when everything is going our way.” However, when things are contrary to the way we would like them to be, or when we need to interact with other people, it sometimes seems as though it is more difficult to have a positive attitude. Being positive and being truly disinterested, as it is used in Freemasonry, while not always easy or natural, is something every Mason is capable of developing.

This past spring there was a discussion group held as part of the Midwest Conference on Masonic Education, (MCME); during this interesting discussion the subject of tolerance, and dealing with what our facilitator termed ‘cranky people’ came up. One Mason observed that the discussion was also a help to avoid becoming a ‘cranky person’. A question that arose in this discussion was; “Can we be disinterested and still be tolerant?” Knowing what disinterestedness means, and keeping that in mind, seems to make it easier to be both disinterested and tolerant.

A discussion group among Freemasons demonstrates something mentioned by another attendee of the MCME: “Think about all the knowledgeable, intelligent, experienced Masons in a Lodge and how, for the most part, all they could teach remains untapped. If they were to participate in a Lodge discussion group it would be wonderful.” That was a very good observation. Discussion groups are a good way for each of us to mentor and be mentored by participating in the group, and it is well known that some of these ‘older’ Brothers, who populate the sidelines make good mentors, because they have quit trying to manage the Lodge. If we were to involve every Mason who attends Lodge in a discussion group there is no telling how much we would learn from each other, and how easy it would be to listen to differing opinions with disinterested friendship.

As the discussion continued some very good ideas were brought forward for the group to consider. Time and space will not allow us to delve into each idea, but we can touch on one of them: Tolerance.

It was mentioned that the basis of tolerance is respect of other people, as well as respect of their right to their own opinions. The basis of tolerance is respect; people generally don’t tolerate what they don’t respect. In some Masonic Lodges there is a mirror very near the exit from the building, with a sign saying ‘you are someone else’s opinion of Freemasonry:’ It is a fact that Freemasonry is defined, by each of us, because of our individual activities and attitudes.

Our Lodges and our lives will experience happiness and prosperity in direct proportion to the choices we make. Tolerance and disinterested friendship is a matter of dialog and action.

We can demonstrate disinterested friendship to everyone by avoiding the tendency of being a ‘quick reactor;’ it is possible to control our responses to situations and circumstances. Patience is not only a virtue it is directly connected to another tenet of our Craft; brotherly love; patience is also a vital part of tolerance, and friendship: Disinterested friendship

News Note #430, of The Christophers, contains an item that you might appreciate, and which might be pertinent to the theme of this article. There is a story of a Grandmother showing her grandchild a certain small portion of a text of scripture she had framed on the wall; Genesis 16:13 “though God seest me.” She told her grandchild; “Those words don’t mean that God is always watching you to see that what you are doing wrong. They mean that He loves you so much that He can’t take his eye off of you.”

“Be patient with everyone, but above all with yourself. Do not be disturbed because of your imperfections, and always rise bravely from a fall. Daily make a new beginning; there is no better means of progress in the spiritual life than to be continually beginning afresh, and never to think that we have done enough.”

St. Francis De Sales

If you would like to receive e-publications from Ed Halpaus send an email to erhmasonic@gmail.com with subscribe in the subject line.

A “NEW” YouTube video has been posted at: http://www.youtube.com/glmned

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[i] For those who use Gmail you know Gmail doesn’t allow this, so one needs to go to Labs to set up Gmail to be able to do it; if you would like to know how let me know. erhmasonic@gmail.com

[ii] This book is available as an E-book at: http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/jh-beers–co/commemorative-biographical-record-of-the-upper-lake-region-ebh/page-38-commemorative-biographical-record-of-the-upper-lake-region-ebh.shtml

[iii] Minnesotans and other history students may find it interesting to note that the town of Koochiching was later renamed International Falls, Minnesota. Koochiching Lodge #270, I’m told by W.B. Harley Johnson, Past Master, Past District Representative, and Masonic Student, was named for the town of Koochiching not for the county of the same name.

[iv] Promoted to the rank of Colonel during his service in the 1st World War.

[v] For information on contacting “Spirit Guardian” contact Brother Glenn Kiecker at: gkiecker@aol.com