More Heat Than Light

More Heat Than Light

By Grand Master Speed Hallman

I had the honor in April of addressing the Wilkerson College Class of 2018 and presenting their graduation certificates. Wilkerson College is one of North Carolina Masonry’s priceless gems. It helps deacons and wardens prepare for their year in the east, and it gives them the opportunity to build relationships with Grand Lodge officers and emerging leaders from around the state. Our data shows that lodges led by Wilkerson College graduates perform better than lodges whose masters didn’t have the opportunity to attend. If you are a deacon or about to become one, I urge you to visit the Education Resources section of the Grand Lodge website and read about Wilkerson College. The College begins accepting applications on Oct. 1 and the class fills quickly.

At graduation I talked about former President Harry Truman, PGM of Missouri. Truman saved American lives by dropping two atomic bombs. He ended the war and won the peace, and I revere him for his guts, his ethics and his constant desire to do the right thing, whether it was popular or not. I also admire his plain speaking and his dedication to Masonry.

One of Truman’s favorite aphorisms was “If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

Heat accompanies the hat and the gavel. That’s what leaders sign on for. I’ve made tough calls and I’ve felt the heat. Every day I pray for guidance and for brethren who vent their heat, but sadly, shed no light, through social media, instead of talking with me. Remember how we are to interact with a brother if we feel he is in error. Remember our obligations, our charges and our closing charge.

Truman loved his Masonry and he was an active Mason before, during and after his political career. But he believed, as I do, that politics must be checked at the lodge door. While American political thought, activity and debate have given us the world’s greatest system of governance, its intrusion into our sacred retreat of friendship and virtue will prove to be divisive and corrosive. That’s how I would characterize much of the social media discourse concerning my directive on gun raffles. As you know, since I issued that directive, the raffle committee has made its recommendations – which closely paralleled those of my own directive – and I have accepted the report and let the original directive stand.

I have received many, many messages of support and encouragement about my directive from across the political spectrum, from brethren who work in law enforcement, who are active duty or retired military, and who are life members of the NRA. Many of those who oppose the directive tell me they understand and accept my reasoning. A few claim I’m bringing politics into the fraternity. That was not my intent. My goal was to practice outside of the lodge those duties that we are taught in it. Remembering that our actions should be virtuous, amiable, and discreet. That our conduct must prove to the world the happy and beneficial effects of our ancient institution; so that when anyone is said to be a member of it, the world may know that he is one to whom the burdened heart may pour forth its sorrow, to whom the distressed may prefer their suit, whose hand is guided by justice and whose heart is expanded by benevolence.

To my brethren who believe the directive injects politics into Masonry, I ask you to set aside for a moment the notion that we must dig in, defend our positions and attack and insult the opposition. When a brother sinks to such un-Masonic behavior, he’s telling us that his politics are more important than his Masonry.

I ask these brethren to subdue their passions, read the directive, read the task force report and read my cover letter that accompanies it. Then decide if this is politics, or if it’s about being compassionate members of our communities. I want Masons to be thought of as compassionate, not clueless, when the next tragedy occurs, and the next.

One social media comment said something like this: “Masonry needs me more than I need it.” If you feel that way, you’re not a Mason. You’re just a member. Go. Masonry will be better off without you.

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The district meetings ended May 15 at my home lodge, Eagle #19 in Hillsborough. I thank the 27 host lodges, their officers and members, from Manteo to Oconee, and from Dan River to Beaver Dam, for their generous hospitality and many kindnesses.

In the meetings I enjoyed quoting one of my favorite Masonic writers, Chris Hodapp. I recommend his book Freemasons for Dummiesto Masons, non-Masons, prospective Masons – anyone who wants to know more about our craft. His blog, posted under the same title, is the go-to source for Masonic news from around the world.

The quotes came from a provocative and inspirational talk Chris gave last July to grand lodge officers at the Northeast Masonic Conference in Indianapolis. He observed that we like to pat the new guys on the back and tell them that they will get out of Masonry what they put into it. Right?

Wrong, he said. Alodgegets out of Masons whatitputs into them.

He also said the most important meeting of the Masonic career is the fourth meeting – that’s the first meeting a new member attends after his third degree. How is that new Mason received in your lodge on that night? As Hodapp says, he’s been poked and prodded his first three times in the lodge. He needs a warm embrace on the fourth night, and the fifth, and the sixth if you want him to keep coming back.

On how we should live and act as Masons, Hodapp said don’t break the law, stick to the precepts of Masonry and look after each other’s welfare. That pretty much sums up our obligations, doesn’t it?

On the absolute necessity for leaders to inspire, he noted that Dr. Martin Luther King didn’t say, “I have a plan.”

He also quoted the French author, aviator and Freemason Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince, who wrote “If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood, and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

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Our 231st Annual Communication returns to Winston-Salem Sept. 28-29. In addition to the business at hand we’ll welcome back to North Carolina and hear from two friends and brethren who have news of importance to the craft.

This spring the 2016 Prestonian Lecturer, Ric Berman, published From Roanoke to Raleigh, Freemasonry in North Carolina, 1730 – 1800. WB Ric will speak after the Friday afternoon session and sign copies of his new book, which will be available for sale. He addressed our 2016 Annual Communication and spoke in several lodges during that visit. We’re delighted that he’s traveling from England to share his findings on early Masonry in our state.

WB Oscar Alleyne, the junior grand warden in the Grand Lodge of New York, will speak on clandestine Masonry and his experiences as a former member of a clandestine lodge. It’s a fascinating topic. Clandestine Masons are all around us, and WB Oscar will shed some light on their activities. WB Oscar has spoken at the Wilkerson College Symposium and in Sophia Lodge and we look forward to his return to our state.