Friday, December 30, 2011

Recap of the Year

For me I started 2011 out in Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn.  I had been there for just over a month.  For being a combat zone, it hadn't been too bad and we were preparing to move to another base.

As March came around it was time to go on leave.  I chose to go to Italy instead of going home, a tough choice, but it was well worth the travel.  I had an amazing time and the Italian Brethren were very hospitable.

It took me a few days to get back to my guys in Iraq thanks to a nice little dust storm that swept through Kuwait.  Once I was back with my guys I went back to my normal routine of 12 hours on shift, 12 hours off shift.  My days were fairly boring interrupted by the regular incoming rocket/mortar attacks. After a few months, my routine was fractured by getting sent to another base to assist another unit as an Instructor.

After some weeks I was in the midst of trying to get back to my guys, but Mother Nature decided to hinder me day after day. Finally after some time and 6 other bases later, I made it back to my guys.  A few months go by, a new unit, a change of base, and we're ready to head home.  After some hitches in the plan, the wheels of the C17 I was riding finally left the sands of Iraq.

As a little treat we got to stop through Rota, Spain, which was an amazing time and for the first time since leave, I felt safe and with the feeling that I did not have to return to Iraq.  I had fun, but it was time to get back home.

After a week of de-mobilization in Ft. Lewis, it was time to go home and see my family and friends for the first time in a year. I was so excited and so glad to be home.  To embrace those who I loved and missed so much. My friends took me out for a great night out on the town.

At the end of September I finally did something I was wanting to do for years...I went and had LASIK surgery done. Hopefully in the end this will save me some cash as I would regularly break my glasses.

Now my focus was on one of my best friend's weddings.  I threw a killer Bachelor Party (as the guys all enjoyed themselves and the bride was pissed after hearing some of the stories of the entertainment :D).  The wedding day came and it was amazing.  The wedding party all looked great and the ceremony was amazing.  I was honored to be the Best Man as Marcus and I were Pledge Brothers in Kappa Sigma, we lived together when him and his wife met, I raised him as a Master Mason, and we were both in the Idaho Army National Guard.

The rest of October was filled with hunting or Masonic events such as the Northwest York Rite Conference or going through the Scottish Rite Reunion.  To cap it all off I decided to go to Pennsylvania to attend the Academy of Masonic Knowledge where Brent Morris and Cliff Porter were speaking. The time there was amazing.

Once I was home I moved into a new place with an old high school friend.  She is an amazing friend and roommate.

December came and with it I was finally able to attend my first York Rite College meeting since I was initiated. Now I spend my time getting ready to go to Boise State University.  It was a roller coaster year, but now I'm ready to go back to a nice, easy life.

If by Rudyard Kipling

This poem is probably one of my favorite poems.  It is also a great note that Rudyard Kipling was a Brother Mason.
If by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And which is more; you'll be a Man, my son!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.  Remember the reason for the season.  Praise be to Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the Blessed Redeemer, Our Savior!

"Non nobis Domine; non nobis, sed Nomini tuo da gloriam"


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Freemasonry and King Athelstan

History of King Athelstan

King Athelstan, the grandson of King Alfred the Great (known for his defense against the Viking invaders), Athelstan (also spelled: Athelstane, Athelstone, Athelston, Aldiston, Adelstan, Adelston, and Ethelstan) is historically known for his success in securing the submission of Constantine II, King of Scots, at the Treaty of Eamont Bridge in 927 AD through to the Battle of Brunanburh in 937 AD led to his claiming the title "King of all Britain".  While overlooked by his grandfather, it is important to point out that Athelstan was the first King of a unified England from 927 AD.  He reigned between 925 and 939 and was a distinguished and courageous soldier who pushed the boundaries of the kingdom further than anyone had done before.

According to Masons, particularly those of the York Rite persuasion, he holds an endearing place in our history as great supporter of Masonry in England, establishing charges and articles given to the Craft to live by.

From the Masonic Order of Athelstan's website:
In the year 926 A.D., the legendary Grand Assembly at York, was said to have been held by King Athelstan's half brother Prince Edwin, wherein the great traditions of symbolic and operative masonry were constituted, revived, or organized, and a new code of laws for the governing of the Craft instituted.

---
Under Athelstan, law codes strengthened royal control over his large kingdom. Currency was regulated to control silver's weight and to penalise fraudsters. Buying and selling was largely confined to the burghs, encouraging town life. Areas of settlement in the Midlands and Danish towns were consolidated into shires.

Overseas, Athelstan built alliances by marrying off four of his half-sisters to various rulers in Western Europe. He was also a great collector of artworks and religious relics, which he gave away too many of his followers, and to churches in order to gain the support of the clergy.

Athelstan died in 939 at the height of his power, and was buried in Malmesbury Abbey. He had been an ardent supporter and endower of the Abbey, and it is fitting that he should be buried there.
Here is from the York Rite Sovereign College of North America's website on the origins of the York Rite:
The York Rite takes its name from the Ancient English city of York, around whose minster, or cathedral, cluster many Masonic traditions. Here , these traditions tell us, Athelstan, who reigned more than a thousand years ago and who was the first king of all England, granted the first charter to the Masonic guilds. Here, in 1705, a Grand Lodge in London, to whose constitution the Grand Lodge of England later appealed as the true source of authentic Freemasonry. Though early disappearing from the Masonic scene, this Grand Lodge left an indelible impression upon the institution, and its name --- York --- will survive as long as Freemasonry continues.
According to Phillip G. Elam in his paper "King Athelstan: Masonry's First Royal Patron",

History of manuscripts

The three manuscripts that surround the York Rite legend and King Athelstan are the:  Halliwell Manuscript (Regius Poem), Cooke Manuscript, and Landsdowne Manuscript.  There is also one I had not heard of before doing this research, this is known as the Roberts Manuscript; claiming to be dated around the 13th century.

Regius Poem/Halliwell Manuscript

This manuscript is admitted to be the oldest genuine record of the Craft of Masonry known. The general consensus on the age of the document dates its writing to between the late 1300s and the middle of the 15th century, and from internal evidence its author appears to have been a West of England clergyman. The manuscript was recorded in various personal inventories as it changed hands until it came into possession of the Royal Library, which was donated to the British Museum in 1757 by King George II to form the nucleus of the present British Library.

During this time, the document was generally described as a poem of moral duties. The significance of the document as relating to Freemasonry was not realized until it was featured in an article on Freemasonry by James Halliwell in 1840.

The text of the document states that Freemasonry was brought to England during the reign of King Athelstan from 924 to 939.
In Egypt he taught it full wide,
In divers lands on every side;
Many years afterward, I understand,
Ere that the craft came into this land.
This craft came into England, as I you say,
In time of good King Athelstane's day;
He made then both hall and even bower,
And high temples of great honor,
To disport him in both day and night,
And to worship his God with all his might.
This good lord loved this craft full well,
And purposed to strengthen it every part,
For divers faults that in the craft he found;
He sent about into the land 
Cooke Manuscript

The Matthew Cooke Manuscript is the oldest of a class of about one hundred early documents known as Freemasonry's Gothic Constitutions, and the second oldest known manuscript in Masonic history. Typically, the Gothic Constitutions included an invocation, a mythical legend of ancient Masonry, a list of charges and regulations for Masons, and an oath or obligation.

The manuscript was published by R. Spencer, London, in 1861 and it was edited by Mr. Matthew Cooke—hence the name. It has been dated at 1450 or thereabouts, an estimate in which most of the specialists have concurred.
And after that there was a worthy king in England, called Athelstan, and his youngest son loved well the science of Geometry ; and he know well, as well as the masons themselves, that their handicraft was the practice of the science of Geometry. Therefore he drew to their councils (or took counsel, or lessons, of them) and learned the practical part of that science in addition to his theoretical (or book) knowledge. For of the speculative part he was a master. And he loved well masonry and masons. And he became a mason himself. And he give them charges and usages such as are now customary in England and in other countries. And he ordained that they should have reasonable pay. And he purchased a free patent of the king that they might hold an assembly at what time they thought reasonable and come together to consult. Of the which charges, usages and assembly it is written and taught in our Book of Charges; wherefore I leave it for the present.

---

Many years after, in the time of king Athelstan, sometime king of England, by common assent of his Council and other great lords of the land on account of great defects found amongst masons, a certain rule was ordained for them.
Landsdowne Manuscript

The lesser known of the manuscripts, this catalogs the old charges of Freemasonry. According to Albert Mackey:
This version of the Old Charges is of very early date, about the middle or latter half of the sixteenth century, as these Free Masons Orders and Constitutions are believed to have been part of the collection made by Lord Burghley, Secretary of State in the time of Edward VI, who died 1598 A.D.
From the manuscript:
Thereat was he himselfe and did help to make Masons and gave them Charges as you shall heare afterwards, soone after the Decease of St. Albones there came Diverse Warrs into England out of Diverse Nations so that the good rule of Masons was dishired and put downe vntill the tyme of Kin% Adilsion in his tyme there was a worthy King in England that brought this Land into good rest and he builded many great workes and buildings, therefore he loved well Masons for he had a Sonne called Edwin the which Loved Masons much more then his ffather did and he was soe practized in Geometry that he delighted much to come and talke with Masons and to Learne of them the Craft, And after for the love he had to Masons and to the Craft, he was made Mason at Windsor and he gott of the King his ffather a Charter and Commission once every yeare to have Assembley within the Realme where they would within England and to correct within themselves ffaults & Trespasses that weere done as Touching the Craft, and he held them an Assembley at Yorke and there he made Masons and gave them Charges and taught them the Manners, and Comands the same to be kept ever afterwards And tooke them the Charter and Commission to keep their Assembly and Ordained that it should be renewed from King to King.
Roberts Manuscript
He began to build many Abbeys,  Monasteries, and other religious houses, as also castles and divers Fortresses for defence of his realm.  He loved Masons more than his father; he greatly study'd Geometry, and sent into many lands for men expert in the science.  He gave them a very large charter to hold a yearly assembly, and power to correct offenders in the said science; and the king himself caused a General Assembly of all Masons in his realm at York, and there made many Masons, and gave them a deep charge for observation of all such articles as belonged unto Masonry, and delivered them the said Charter to keep.
References
1. Wikipedia. (2011, November 24). Retrieved from Masonic Manuscripts: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masonic_manuscripts
2. Elam, P. G. (n.d.). Masonic Forum. Retrieved from King Athelstan: Masonry's First Royal Patron: http://www.masonicforum.ro/archive/en/nr21/patron.html

3. Hughan, W. J. (1872). The Old Charges of British Freemasons. London.

4. Masonic Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Landsdowne Manuscript: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/lansdowne.html

5. Masonic Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from The York Legend: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/yorkl.html

6. Speth, T. b. (n.d.). Matthew Cooke Manuscript. England.
7. The Masonic Order of Athelstan in England, Wales, and its Provinces Overseas. (n.d.). Retrieved from Who was King Athelstan?: http://athelstan.org.uk/history/who-was-king-athelstan?showall=1
8. Wikipedia. (n.d.). Retrieved from Athelstan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%86thelstan
"Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave: even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve." 
Matt.20:26-27-28

YREP: Continuation and Update

Talking with a Brother on the Master Mason forum and he was discussing the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York and a course they have.  This is the reading course geared towards the York Rite:
12. The Tabernacle Near the Ruins, the Royal Arch Course: 
  • Royal Arch, Capstone of Freemasonry by Ray Vaughn Denslow 
  • Lessons in Capitular Masonry by Charles C. Hunt 
  • Thomas Smith Webb, Freemason, Musician, Entrepreneur by Herbert R. Leyland 
  • Light from the Sanctuary by Charles Albert Snodgrass 
  • The Royal Arch, its Hidden Meaning by George Harold Steinmetz 
13. The Secret Vault Under the Tabernacle, the Cryptic Mason Course:  
  • An Encyclopedia of Cryptic Masonry by Ray Vaughn Denslow  
  • One Hundred Years, 1823-1923, of the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters, State of New York compiled by Herbert W. Greenlan  
  • A History of the Cryptic Rite vol. 1 by Eugene E. Hinman  
  • A Short Story About Cryptic Masonry by A. Thompson Phillips 
14. The Commandery, the Knights Templar course:  
  • History of the Knights Templar by Charles G. Addison 
  • The Temple and the Lodge by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh 
  • The Crusades by Michael Paine 
  • The Templars by Piers Paul Read 
  • Dungeon, Fire, Sword by John J. Robinson
I am still trying to figure out how to implement the system and what books to use, this seems like a good set of books to start from. I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

From Darkness to Light

Just watched this on the Masons with Horns Facebook page.  It's a great video done by the Brothers of Culver City-Foshay Lodge #467.  Great job Brothers.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Observance

Today my Commandery conducted their Christmas Observance at the Boise Masonic Temple.  We had an excellent turnout and had 2 out of the 5 Grand presiding officers present to give their responses to the toasts.  They were: Jay A. Leonard, Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Idaho and William K. Curtis, Jr., Right Eminent Grand Commander of the Knights Templar of Idaho. Companion B Dale Winch, Jr. Past Grand High Priest, was present to represent the Most Excellent Grand High Priest, John W. Zeller, Sr., Companion Johnny Willis, Grand Chaplain, was present to represent the Most Illustrious Grand Master, Arthur F. Easley; and Sir Knight Ernest I. Teter, Past Northwest Department Commander, attended to represent the current Right Eminent Department Commander of the Northwest Department, Sir Knight Mike Johnson.

David C. Triplett with some assistance from Miss Idaho Job's Daughter, Alexandra Koper, gave the Christmas Observance Address and did a fantastic job.He talked about how the story of Jesus is the greatest love story of the world.

At the close of it all, we had the Jobies from Bethel #29 (Boise) come and form their closing cross while singing us a hymn.  Excellent job Daughters.


Introduction to the Christmas Observance

The Observance of the Anniversary of the Birth of Our Blessed Savior will be celebrated on Christmas Day or a day near to in the Asylum of the Commandery.

It is the responsibility of the Commander to select a time and date.  All members of the Commandery will be notified and are expected to attend.

An invitation should be extended to the Most Worshipful Grand Master, the Most Excellent Grand High Priest, Most Illustrious Grand Master, and Right Eminent Grand Commander of the jurisdiction.  Each one of these together with the representative of the Most Eminent Grand Master of the Grand Encampment, Knights Templar, USA, will give responses to the toasts.

Wine should be used to give the Toasts to those 5.

A trianglular table with black cloth with 12 candles, 12 chalices, a crucifix, and Holy Bible opened to the 28th Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew atop it.  The Sir Knight Junior Warden will be in charge of the Chosen Twelve during the line of march as well as the lighting of the candles and the partaking of the Toasts.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Installation of 2012 Lodge officers

Tonight was the 102nd Installation of officers for my home Lodge. The Brethren assembled and closed the 2011 Lodge of Tribute then joined the rest of the guest for an amazing dinner prepared by the incoming Worshipful Master and our re-elected Treasurer.  The dinner was served by the young women of Friendship Assembly #9, International Order of the Rainbow for Girls.  Afterward it was time to be installed.  I was installed as Marshal of my home Lodge, Worshipful Master of the Idaho Lodge of Research #1965, and Junior Deacon for Idaho City Historical Lodge #1863.  

The Worshipful Master of my home Lodge asked a Past Master (and current Master of Kadosh of Boise Consistory, AASR) to be the Installing Worshipful Master and another Past Master (and Past Grand Master of Idaho) to be the Installing Marshall.

The newly installed Worshipful Master then had his officers introduce any guests they had brought.  He then introduced all Worshipful Master-elects, visiting Worshipful Masters, Past Masters, 50-year members, our District Deputy Grand Master, appointed Grand Lodge officers, elected Grand Lodge officers, Past Grand Masters, and the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Idaho.  After some short speeches it was time for presentation. As the most junior Past Master present I had the honor of presenting the new Junior Past Master with his Past Master's Certificate, Past Master's Apron, Past Master's lapel pin, and Past Master's jewel (which is worn only in Lodge and then locked up because of its value).  The 2011-2012 Miss Idaho Job's Daughter presented her lapel pin to myself and the Worshipful Master.

After all things were said, we did a closing procession and exited the Lodge.  Once the guest started to leave we entered the Lodge again and opened a Lodge of Tribute for 2012.  Once that was done I headed home for some needed sleep.  It has been a long day.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Installation of 2012 Commandery Officers


Tonight my Commandery held its public ceremony for the installation of officers.  William K. Curtis, Jr., the Right Eminent Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery, Knights Templar of Idaho, presided as the Installing Commander and Ernest I Teter, Past Northwest Department Commander, was the Installing Marshal.

I have the pleasure of serving the Eminent Commander, and the Commandery, as the Generalissimo.  We have a great line-up of officers and I hope this year is an amazing year for the Boise York Rite and Freemasonry everywhere.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chivalry: Past and Present

When I was dubbed (from the French word 'adoubement' meaning "to call by a distinctive title, epithet, or nickname"), I wondered that did this conferment truly make a knight or just one in name only.  The knights of old lived by a chivalrous code and today we strive to gentleman living by a modern chivalric code.

Chivalry comes from the French word "chevalerie" or "chevalier" meaning horseman or knight.  The term was used to describe to the medieval institution of knighthood which has an aristocratic military origin of individual training and service to others.

Definition 

According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, Chivalry is defined as gallant or distinguished gentlemen; the system, spirit, or customs of medieval knighthood; or the qualities of the ideal knight.

In the July 2010 edition of the Knights Templar magazine, Brian R. Price, defined chivalry as an idealization of virtue, a wedding of military excellence with courtesy, a sense of justice, piety, and honor.

History & Origin

To discuss chivalry, we necessarily must discuss the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of knights in the Dark Ages of medieval Europe.

Prior to the 5th century (specifically during the Imperial Roman Period), Rome, the Eternal City, had never been under siege, but now the city has fallen to invading Gothic warriors.  The Roman Empire had been sick and falling for some time; population dwindling due to sickness and war and a corrupt inept government were major factors.

I should clear up that when I talk of the Roman Empire I talk specifically of the Western Roman Empire and not the Eastern Roman Empire (commonly known as the Byzantine Empire).  In the 3rd century AD Diocletian divided up the empire into two major regions, an Eastern and a Western, in an attempt to keep control.  This truly divided the two regions and cut off the Roman Empire from the luxuries coming from the East.  Civil War ensued, incursions on the borders of the Empire, and disease started weakening the Empire.  Due to the shrinking population the Roman armies started hiring barbarians as mercenaries who held no loyalty to the Empire, and by their treatment they really didn't need to give any.  The Empire became so dependent on them that their defenses were basically gone and Rome was ripe for the taking.  Soon the fallen empire was constantly being invaded by Saxons, Britains, Franks, Vandals, Goths, and so forth.  Rome was shattered into a thousand pieces.

Now we see a time when war was so persistent that it was rarely disturbed by moments of peace, the decay of innovation, illiteracy, no access to medicine or any of the basic human needs of survival. Population of major urban cities shrank and you saw more rural, almost tribal, living taking hold often centered around a war lord who was trying to make a name for himself and take a piece of the old Roman pie.

This time period of doom and gloom would shape Western Civilization for a millennia.  There was a glue (or cement, rather) that kept many united during this dark time.  This was Christianity.  On Christmas Day, 496 AD, at the Basilica in Reims, Clovis a Frankish barbarian warlord renounced his pagan ways and was baptized Christian, thereby being anointed a Christian King.  This move united his people under the religion of Christianity.  This was a strategic move by Clovis to win the hearts and minds of his people who were primarily Roman; as the Christian religion had really taken foot since the conversion of Constantine the Great.  In a world of uncertainty and chaos, Christianity promised salvation, eternal peace, and glory in the Hereafter.

Now the Roman Empire was still shattered into pieces and the warlords were feuding with each other.  Alliances and politics shifted as regular as the ebbs and flows of the tides. Now from the time when Clovis first had command of armed men, at the age of 15, once he conquered a tribe or a village, he would not just kill everyone, he would invite the conquered men to take up arms for his cause.  By the time of his Baptism, at the age of 30, he had amassed a good army and set himself as a Master of Gaul (France).  By the time of his death in 511 AD, he had united most of the barbaric tribes in Gaul and united them under the banner of Christianity.

Starting around the 530 AD, Justinian, Emperor of the Byzantine Empire, seeks to reunite and raise the Roman Empire from the ashes.  By 538 AD, he has most of Italy, Sicily, and much of Northern Africa conquered by Byzantine forces.  The forces left depopulated cities and mass destruction in their wake.  His forces may have been able to complete his goals, but Constantinople as well as Europe was about to get hit by a pandemic, the Bubonic Plague.  Trade, one of their greatest, attributes would lead to the death of almost 50% of the entire population. Small appearances of disease would appear throughout the next couple of centuries to knock down small pockets of Europe.  His forces held the conquered areas until his death in 565 AD.

With lands conquered, cities destroyed, a population ravaged by disease and war, the time were looking horrid and brutish; death was probably a blessing in many cases.  In comparison to centuries past, this must have been a very Dark Age.  Low productivity/industry, bad economics, low defenses, and very low morale just let the people of Europe ripe for more invasions and tribal wars.

Yet in all of this darkness, there was still a flicker of light.  The monasteries became some of the most important institutions in Europe.  They were major centers of commerce and knowledge.  Life was hard and strict, but these monks kept important records of history and many books/manuscripts were copied for ages yet unborn to read and learn.  Monks were both men of cloth and knowledge.  They were often some of the few literate in Europe.

In the 7th century, while Christianity was spreading more and more across Europe and the Church united many during this chaotic period, the followers of another Prophet were taking up arms in conquest.  Islam was spreading quicker and faster than Christianity had.  Spreading from Northern Africa, the Muslim Moors had hit Spain and were now on their way to France.  They saw the Franks as men so stuck in civil war they saw them as easy pickings.  Moorish General Abdul Rahman al-Rafiki crossed into France with an army of 50,000 men (mix of cavalry and infantry).  There first few incursions were really massacres where chroniclers say only God knows how many were slain.

The Moorish invaders turned northward to further their conquest, but the Commander of the Frankish Army was waiting.  This man was Charles Martel and he had anticipated the Moorish invasion.  He was proactive and had to convince the citizenry, the farmers, to take up the sword and shield to protect their land, their lives, and their religion from these invaders.  He was at a disadvantage as he was not going to be using professional soldiers, but those who were only willing to fight during the non-harvest seasons.  He needed money, but he was able to convince the Church to hand over property and money to train the men into an effective corps to fight the Moors.

In October, 732, the two forces met.  The Franks had dug atop a wooded hillside that gave them a strategic advantage.  Both sides were at a standstill for several days when the Moorish General advanced not wanting to wait for the winter cold to hit them. Both Christian and Muslim scholars say the Frankish infantry held their ground, and while the battle ensued Charles Martel sent a group to the Moorish encampment to plunder and destroy it.  Overnight the Moors withdrew back to Spain and this stunning win (known as the Battle of Tours) won Charles the nickname "the Hammer".  He was heralded as the savior of Christendom.

Charles Martel's descendants would over the next several centuries transform Europe and one would become Emperor and called the Father of Europe.  Christmas Day, 800 AD, at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Charlemagne is crowned as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.  He was an intelligent man and a military man, not having ever lost a military battle  Not since the fall of Rome had so much of the Europe been under the command of one man.  Charlemagne worked on increasing education and rising Europe from the darkness.  He also sought to conquer more land and spread Christianity.  He accomplished this with not only infantry, but also by experience horsemen.   He punished those pagans who would not convert or those who disobeyed the dogma of Christianity.  It was brutal, but a successful campaign and his domain grew.

To control this ever increasing empire, he divided it up into hundreds of counties where a Count was put in charge who answered directly to Charlemagne.  He kept a close eye on them and didn't shut himself away, but visited them often.  In his travels he tried to rekindle an age of learning and innovation.  Even he learned to read and write.  He ruled for 14 years as Emperor.  In this time as Emperor, when Europe seemed to be coming out of the darkness, he would face a terrible force - the men from the North.

Bands of Vikings, starting in Britain, started invading and plundering villages and cities.  Many of these early victims were far enough North that they did not fear too many invaders from the sea so they were unprepared for this force of men who cared nothing for the sanctity of church and its property.  These Viking left Scandinavia due to over population and the monasteries looked like easy victims just asking to be attacked.  Their boats were not only sea worthy, but could ford up the rivers due to their shallow draft, which made their appearance unexpected.  They soon expanded their attacks from just the British Isles, but to the heart of the Holy Roman Empire itself.

Even bribes couldn't hold back these men and their attacks occurred decades after the death of Charlemagne in 814 AD. In 866 AD, it wasn't' just a band, but an army of Vikings that came ashore in Britain to not just plunder, but to take land.  The great city of York fell to the Viking conquest.  It wasn't until Alfred the Great that the Viking incursions were pushed back and defeated.  He had studied them and realized that with their love of quick plunders that they hated attacking fortresses, so that is what he built.  They [the Vikings] did not have the siege technology to attack them.  Alfred the Great just let the Vikings wear them out.  Over 25-years of fighting he pushed them back, but not all of them entirely.  Many of the Vikings picked up and moved elsewhere in search of victims, but some stayed and assimilated.  At this same time in France, the Carolingian Empire (starting with the crowning of Charlemagne) after the death of Charlemagne, was being divided and fought over by the Lords who helped run this dynasty.  The incursions of the Vikings didn't help the situation any further, which would eventually lead to the downfall of this empire where it was nothing more than hundreds of counties and lordships.

Now, through all of these past centuries of battles came the establishment of professional fighting forces.  With innovations such as the stirrup for horse riding, mounted soldiers were expensive and usually attach to a Lord, men of wealth.  These men were not necessarily the knights we think of today, many of them were just men who were required to pay a service to their Lord.  They cared more about the coin and could easily be compared to a soldier in the Mafia.  They were hired thugs and muscle often to invade another Lord's land and force them under the Lord who had hired them.  The knights we think of today wouldn't come about til around and after the Crusades, nor did the synonymous belief of knights being from nobility come til the Crusades.

After the abatement of the Viking invasions there were many soldiers who were unwilling to put down the sword.  The Viking invasions had militarized Europe and there were many Lords who were willing to buy their sword to form their own army to force their will upon the peasants.

This savagery led the Church to establish rules that these knights must live by or face excommunication.  Part of this policy relied on the superstition of the saintly relics.  The Church would often say if the knights would not follow the rules the saints associated with the relics would come after the knights and punish them.  The Church issued two proclamations on God's position on war and fighting.  They were called the Peace of God and the Truce of God.

Pax Dei (Peace of God) proclaimed that certain individuals, particularly the defenseless (peasants and clergy), should not be attacked by knights.  Treuga Dei (Truce of God) proclaimed that certain times should be void of fighting by knights (such as the Sabbath Day).  The Truce of God seemed particularly to focus on preventing Christian knights from fighting each other.  These really helped the Church redirect the knights fighting energy and stem the violence of private wars in a Feudal society.  This redirection would soon be pointed towards the Middle East when a call for help comes from the Byzantine Emperor and eventually what we now refer to as the Crusades.

Modern Chivalry

In medieval times, the code of chivalry focused on three areas: the military, social life, and religion.  Today our codes will naturally be different as times have changed customs, some traditions, beliefs, and attitudes, but there will be some similarities as there are some traditions and beliefs that are timeless and founded upon truth and goodness.

The basic foundation of the chivalric code of old leads us to the modern chivalric code and the basics for being a gentleman.  Brett and Kate McKay point out in their book that a man who has mastered the art of manliness (being a true gentleman) embodies the characteristics of: looks out for and is loyal to his friends and family, does the right thing, even when it is not convenient, is proficient in the manly arts (dress/appear, hospitality, education, etc), treats women with respect and honor, serves and gives back to his community, sacrifices for the good of others, works hard and seldom complains, exhibits both great courage and tender compassion, has a confident swagger but isn't a pompous jerk, is witty without succumbing to sarcasm, and embraces instead of shirking responsibility.

Today many think chivalry is dead because many men are not gentlemen, but rather meat-heads more focused on their looks than life and trying to imitate moronic spectacles from TV sitcoms.  Too many men from the time of manliness and chivalry are not around anymore and there exist too few bastions of true chivalry.  One of these is the Masonic fraternity.

From the beginnings of our lessons in Masonry we see examples of chivalry.  Many symbols can be shown to represent actions and beliefs that all good men should embrace, but I particularly want to focus on the 3 Tenets: Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.  By truth is every noble virtue we know founded upon and should dictate every thought, word, and action.  As the Square teaches us to square our actions, the level to treat every person as equal, and the plumb to walk uprightly before God and man, so does Brotherly Love teach us to regard the whole human species as one family, thereby rendering us responsible to aid, support, and protect to the best of our ability.  The last, but not least (I know, cliché) is Relief, and as the lecture tells us, all men are required to assist the distressed, destitute, and sorrowed.  This last tenet can also be seen in the lessons given in the Order of the Temple where one must vow to defend the weak and defenseless.

There are many outside the Masonic fraternity who strive to bring back the courteous actions and appearances of chivalry from past generations.  One example as I stated above is the couple, Brett & Kate McKay who wrote the book "Art of Manliness", but many others talk about how chivalry isn't dead in this modern world.  Brian R. Price talks about timeless virtues of: Courtesy, respect, generosity, honesty, fidelity, humility, justice, excellence (prowess), courage, loyalty, and duty.

To my fellow Sir Knights (and all true gentleman), I challenge to act as such and strive to keep chivalry alive.

My Chivalric Code 
Charity: benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity
Humility: A modest or low view of one's own importance; humbleness or modesty
Integrity: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values; incorruptible
Valor: strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness : personal bravery or courage
Altruism: unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others
Loyalty: A strong feeling of support or allegiance
Resolute: Admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering; determined
Yielding: to be productive and never a useless drone
References

1. The New International Encyclopaedia, Vol V (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1920) 250.

2. Chivalry. (2011, November 25). Retrieved December 11, 2011, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chivalry

3. Chivalry. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster Dictionary: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/chivalry

4. Price, B. R. (2010). Isn’t Chivalry Dead?! Knight Templar, 34.

5. History Channel. (2007). The Dark Ages [Documentary DVD].

6. Peace and Truce of God.  (2011, December 11).  Retrieved December 12, 2011, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_and_Truce_of_God

7. Knight. (2011, December 11).  Retrieved December 12, 2011, from Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight#Terminology

8. McKay, B. a. (2009). The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man. Cincinnati: HOW Books.

Masonic Week 2012

Masonic Week will be held in Alexandria, Virginia, from February 8-12.  Many organizations will be meeting there, to include the Masonic Society where Brett McKay will be the keynote speaker.

Introduction to Masonic Week

Perhaps in can be defined as an "In-Gathering" of Masons of National Appendant Bodies for the purpose of conducting Annual Meetings. It provides an excellent opportunity to meet and "converse on the level" with many well known Freemasons, especially of the York Rite. It is also a time to enjoy excellent banquets and even "fun degrees".

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Kappa Sigma - 142 years of Excellence

Today marks the 142nd Anniversary of the founding of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.  I have had the pleasure of being in Kappa Sigma for the last 5-years.  I have gained a great set of friends and Brothers, particularly my Pledge Brothers who I spent countless hours with during our Pledgeship.

The Motto
The Star and Crescent shall not be worn by every man, but only by him who is worthy to wear it. He must be a gentleman ... a man of honor and courage ... a man of zeal, yet humble ... an intelligent man ... a man of truth ... one who tempers action with wisdom and, above all else, one who walks in the light of God.
History 

The Kappa Sigma fraternity was founded at the University of Virginia on December 10th, 1869.  This fraternity was founded by what the Brothers of Kappa Sigma call "The Five Friends and Brothers".  They are: William Grigsby McCormick, George Miles Arnold, Frank Courtney Nicodemus, John Covert Boyd, and Edmund Law Rogers.

Along side the Founders of our Fraternity, the Golden Hearted Virginian is probably one of the most famous men within Kappa Sigma.  Stephen Alonzo Jackson, the Golden Hearted Virginian, was not only the first Worthy Grand Master, but was also the writer of our Constitution and architect of our Ritual.

During his speech at the 2nd Grand Conclave in 1878 talked about the expansion of this Brotherhood, and the following words are still recited by all Pledges and Brothers today:
Why not, my Brothers, since we of today live and cherish the principles of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, throw such a halo around those principles that they may be handed down as a precious heirloom to ages yet unborn? Why not put our apples of gold in pictures of silver? May we not rest contentedly until the Star and Crescent is the pride of every college and university in the land!

AEKΔB Brothers!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

2012 Chapter & Council Officer Installations

Tonight the Boise York Rite bodies met for the December Stated meeting and to install the 2012 officers for the Chapter and Council.  Since the Council presided over this joint monthly meeting, the Council officers were installed first.  I have the honor of serving as the Illustrious Master of the Council. We were installed into our chairs by the Most Illustrious Grand Master of the Grand Council, Crytpic Masons of Idaho, Most Illustrious Companion Arthur Easley.

After a quick apron change it was time to install the offices for the Royal Arch Chapter.  For the Chapter, I was installed as King and we had the pleasure of having David C Triplett, a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge, AF&AM of Idaho, install us.

If it wasn't for the late hour I would have taken some pictures, but that will come later.

I'd also like to extend a thanks to the local Job's Daughters who cooked and served dinner.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

York Rite College meeting

Today Tri-Valley College #178 (YRSCNA) met in Boise, Idaho.  It was the first meeting I have been able to attend since I was initiated into them over a year ago.


It was a normal business meeting where we balloted on potential members.  I also proposed to put together a degree team and put on a 1st degree ceremony for the Governor's home Lodge to showcase the purpose of the York Rite College, that of assisting the Blue Lodge and York Rite bodies in the degree work.  We're going to do it in our tuxedos.  The Companion Knights really liked the idea to showcase the College to the Lodges and York Rite bodies to show them that we are there.

A sad note is that our Governor could not be present as his father passed away 2 days ago who was a lifelong Mason and he will be surely missed.

Our next meeting is during the York Rite Grand Sessions in April.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Royal Arch Research Assistance gives 100k grant to autism advocacy group

Saw this on the web tonight and thought I'd share:
Royal Arch Masons Present Autism Speaks with $100,000 Royal Arch Research Assistance Grant 

(Media-Newswire.com) - NEW YORK, N.Y. ( November 16, 2011 ) -- On Thursday, November 10, the General Chapter of Royal Arch Masons International presented Autism Speaks, the world’s largest autism research and advocacy organization, with a $100,000 Royal Arch Research Assistance ( RARA ) grant in support of the Autism Speaks early diagnosis and early intervention initiative to investigate auditory processing disorders in children with autism.

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The Royal Arch Research Assistance (RARA), as described in one of my introductory posts on York Rite Freemasonry, is the charity provided by the General Grand Chapter, Royal Arch Masons International.  Much of their work has surrounded assisting research on auditory disorders.