This weekend I am in Detroit for work and before coming out I had contacted the Masons to see if any event would be happening that I could attend. I was informed that the Michigan Lodge of Research would be hosting a Richard H. Sands Lecture at the Detroit Masonic Temple Library and that the lecturer would be Bro. Shawn Eyer. Bro. Shawn is a Past Master of Academia Lodge No.847 in Oakland, CA, and currently serves as Director of Communications at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, VA, as well as the editor of its newsletter, "Light." He is also editor of "Ahiman: A Review of Masonic Culture and Tradition" and "Philalethes: The Journal of Masonic Research and Letters", the oldest independent Masonic publications in North America. I was looking forward to this presentation because I've known Bro. Shawn for a few years now and had not seen him a few years.
Bro. Shawn Eyer gave a presentation titled "Wisdom of the Founding Brethren: Light from the First Generation of Freemasons." Shawn is an exceptional Masonic scholar and lecturer, and I was not disappointed by his presentation. Shawn's presentation centered on looking at primary sources of early Masonry to look at some of the attitudes, ideas, and cultures of the early Masonic Brethren around the time of the founding Brothers. Citing the song "The Freemasons Health" (one of the earliest printed documents of Speculative Freemasonry), a Masonic essay by Robert Samber, Anderson's Constitution of 1723, the York Regulations of 1725, the writings of Francis Drake (1726), the writings of Edward Oakley (1728) writings by Martin Clare, the "Dissertation upon Masonry" (1734), the Book M (1736), and writings by "Brother Euclid" (1738). What I took away from this presentation is that we modern Masons, and humans in general, look back at our predecessors with some bias that they must have been simpler than us, but after looking through their writings, Masonic education isn't a new concept and has been with us since the earliest recorded history of Freemasonry. Many of the earliest essays on Masonry paint a picture of Lodges that fostered an environment for those seeking spiritual, intellectual, and social pursuits and exploration (rather than using research). The Brethren of the Michigan Lodge of Research were very hospitable and welcoming. It was a pleasure to attend this presentation and the fellowship that followed.