Thursday, July 28, 2016

Local Masons Petition Grand Lodge to Add Wheaton's Law to Masonic Ritual

Burbank, CA - A local group of Masons is trying to reshape the way that California Freemasons conduct themselves in accordance with their obligations. Brethren from Beneficent Lodge No. 4 in Burbank have announced their official intention to petition the Grand Lodge of California to include Wheaton's Law--an axiom coined by Wil Wheaton of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame that admonishes others "not to be a dick"--in the obligations found within the Masonic ritual.

Wor. Bro. Joe Snow, Worshipful Master of Beneficent Lodge and the driving force behind the petition, spoke the The Past Bastard about the need to modify the ritual to make Freemasonry a more hospitable organization: "As we go through the degrees, we make a number of promises before God, but not one of those promises explicitly precludes members from being dicks to other members. As a result, Freemasonry is replete with crotchety Past Masters, elitist disciples of the Traditional Observance movement, racist and sexist district officers, and shameless title chasers that step on those around them in hopes of one day getting into some invitational body that no one else gives a damn about."

"This is why," Wor. Joe continued, "we desperately need a change in ritual. This isn't an innovation in Masonry. In fact, I believe it's getting back to the very foundation of our fraternity--it's just a shame that, in this day and age, we need to explicitly command our brethren not to be jerks to one another. That said, had the Masonic ritual of the 1700's included this caveat, perhaps the Ancients wouldn't have been jerks to the Moderns, causing the fraternity's first major schism mere decades after its official inception."

Wor. Joe further explained that the addition of Wheaton's Law to the Masonic ritual might help the organization retain members in the long run: "I know we're admonished to do good to our brethren, but right now Freemasonry is suffering from a distinct lack of consequences when brethren fail to do so. Younger Masons who are greeted with jeers, racist remarks, and elitism at the door won't--and don't--come back. Everyone talks about the need for better member retention, but it's hard to retain members when our own brethren are booting them out the door! All we're asking for is a piece of Masonic ritual that obligates a brother not to be a dick to his fellow brethren."

Wheaton's Law is an internet axiom coined in 2007 that states: "Don't be a dick." It was originally used in the context of sportsmanship in online gaming but its scope was eventually expanded to apply to life in general. In honor of Wil Wheaton's birthday, July 29th has been branded "National Don't Be A Dick Day."

The Grand Lodge of California did not immediately return request for comment, seemingly in violation of Wheaton's Law.

- SK Bro. Mason Burhmaster 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Grand Lodge of Connecticut to finally publish ritual monitor

New Milford, CT -- In 2009, the Grand Lodge of Connecticut ran out of new ritual monitors to hand out to new Masons. With no copy in electronic format to send to a printer, the Supervisors of the Work began the long, arduous task of reconstructing the monitor. Prohibited by obligation to write entire paragraphs, the Supervisory Committee kept passing along the Microsoft Works document via email. Unfortunately, when it was reviewed after completion in 2014, the new version had more mistakes than was acceptable, and the project was put on hold. New Masons were directed to borrow copies from older members, or to download a copy of Duncan’s until a newer version could be printed.

Fortunately, a handful of younger Masons around the state, acting over Twitter, Google Buzz, Facebook, and other microblogging platforms, created an unofficial version so that they could help each other learn the parts. Small enough to carry on even the oldest smartphones, the version quickly gained popularity among the under-40 crowd. Last year, a group of younger WMs from lodges around the state, frustrated with the inability to pass out ritual books to new officers, approached the Supervisors of the Work with an idea: Scrap the idea of a written monitor, and pass out the unofficial version.

The catch: The unofficial version is all written in emoji and SMS shorthand.

Surprisingly, the Supervisors of the Work, some of whom were still working with Apple Newtons and Palm Pilots, accepted the idea readily.

WB Tyler Burden, a 3 year Mason and new Master of Phineas Barnum Lodge in Bridgeport, assisted in getting the Emoji Work, as they call it, approved for official use in the state.

“There’s already a hipster mystique to being a Freemason,” said WB Burden. “My grandfather’s old style books had all these weird symbols and mixed up letters and stuff. What we’re doing with the Emoji version is really just the same thing. It’s just more modernized.”

Explaining the popularity, he said “Emojis are ways to put a lot of information into a simple character. Between the graphics and the shortcut text, we get a pretty good approximation of what the ritual would have said. I mean, maybe it’s not 100%, but then, very few guys memorize 100% anyway, so who would even know the difference?” Burden added, “We’ve even been getting requests from brothers in other jurisdictions that don’t allow any printed works. Pretty soon, we’ll have a version for Texas, another one for Virginia, and later this year, Pennsylvania.”  

We contacted the Connecticut Supervisors of the Work Committee about the new version, and asked about the older versions.

“Years ago, Connecticut used to have a cypher version of the ritual, but in the last few decades, the level of education  in this state has declined, and in the 1970s we had to publish a full-word version,” said RW Winston Smith. “Thing is, nobody ever kept track of how many boxes we had of those things. Apparently, we thought we had several more cases, so when the last books were gone, we weren’t prepared to create more of them. We probably could have been done sooner,” he added, “but the new printing shops wanted electronic versions, and by the time we finished typing everything, we had so many mistakes that we didn’t feel comfortable sending them out.” 

RW Dagny Coleman explained, "We were hampered because we can't write, print, or any of that stuff, and in order to circumvent the obligations, we had to be morally creative. So one of us would type a sentence or two, then forward it to the next guy, who would do the same, and then he would forward it to the next guy. The problem is that it took ages because a lot of the older guys don't check their email regularly. And every time someone dropped off the committee, or retired, or died, we'd have to bring the replacement up to speed. And since some districts have ritual variations, we ended up with a mish-mash of workings, and then we'd have to rewrite that section."

RW Smith added, “We had one version that was pretty close, but the guy who typed it used 1993 AppleWriter and nobody else could read the format.”

-- Conte Calvino Gliostro

For our older brethren, here is a Twitter Emoji version of a classic piece of literature: 

Emoji version of Les Miserables: 🎶👨🍞👮 1⃣9⃣ ➡️➡️🚶🚶🚶 🎶👩👶👄 😱 👎👉 💀 🎶👨👶➡️👴👸 🎶👱❤️👸 👧❤️👱 🎶👦👱🇫🇷👦👱🇫🇷👦👱🇫🇷🚪🚪🚪 🎶👧💥💀 🔫🔫🔫 🎶💥💀💥💀💥💀💥💀🇫🇷🇫🇷🇫🇷🇫🇷 😭😭