Life in 2020 was full of surprises. So many that - by the end of the year - nothing ceased to amaze us. Now that we’re in 2021, many had hoped life would return to normal (remember good ol' 2019?) but alas things did not.
In fact, life has gotten even more intense. We’re off to an interesting start and, looking over everything that’s happened so far, I urge you to practice the most important Masonic tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth, these three, viable philosophical and psychological canons; but the most complex of these is Truth.
"Truth is a Divine Attribute and the foundation of every virtue."
This philosophical axiom, bestowed upon us within the first hour of our journey as Freemasons, is an evident and well-established starting point for the reasoning and understanding of our Masonic principles. Nevertheless, this postulation is just one of the many interpretations of what Truth is.
Is Truth real? My search for the true meaning of this concept drove me toward studying Philosophy at the Ceará State University in Brazil, back in the springtime days of my life. The undeniable notion of Truth has intrigued my mind and playfully entertained my psyche for decades.
More recently, I found myself susceptible to different viewpoints of people I care deeply about who were examining and double-guessing Truth, or rather, their personal version of "truth."
You see, Truth may be considered by some as a property not so much of thoughts and ideas but more of beliefs and assertions. However, to believe or assert something is not enough to make it true, or else the claim that ‘to believe something makes it true’ would be just as true as the claim that ‘to believe something does not make it true.’
For Avicenna, Persian polymath, truth is "what corresponds in the mind to what is outside of it." For Aristotle, Greek philosopher and founder of the reputable Lyceu, "to say that what is is, and what is not is not, is true." And for Saint Thomas Aquinas, Italian Dominican philosopher, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church, it is ‘the adequation of things and the intellect’ (adequatio rei et intellectus).
This type of approach belongs to what philosophers call the correspondence theory of truth. Unfortunately -and to no one's surprise - the mind does not perceive reality as it is, but only as it can within its cognitive cable-tow, by filtering, skewing, and interpreting it through the five senses of human nature: hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling, and tasting. In modern times, one may argue that truth is constructed by social and cultural processes, in conjunction with individual desires and dispositions.
According to the coherence theory of truth - the principal competitor of the correspondence theory of truth - a thought (or notion of something) is more likely to be true if it fits into a large and coherent system of beliefs. It doesn't evaluate, however, that the system could be a giant fiction, entirely detached from reality. This becomes increasingly unlikely as we investigate, curate, and add to its components - assuming that the thinker is operating in good faith, with truth, rather than self-preservation or aggrandizement, as his aim and purpose. Thus framed, truth is not a property but an attitude, a way of being in the world.
That a certain notion fits into a system or leads to successful action, may suggest that it is true, but it does not tell us much about what truth actually is. I believe - as a free thinker Freemason - that Truth is not a real property of things. Rather, it is a feature of the language (Rhetoric) used to emphasize and accord or designate and hypothesize, or for stylistic purposes.
For some philosophers, something can only be true or false if it is open to verification, at least in theory, if not also in practice. The truth of something lies at the end of our inquiry into that thing. But as our inquiry can have almost no end, the truth of something can never be more than our best opinion of that thing, which is a very subjective and (dare I say) human approach to all things and everything. Besides, one may ask: ‘how can I know if I am lying to myself’?
As a theological truth, one may say "God is Truth," while another may reply "There is no God." As a scientific truth, one may say "planets and moons are spherical," while another may interject "I am a member of the Flat Earth Society and proud of it!"
Just because I insist something is true for me doesn’t make it true. Plenty of times I’ve believed something as true for me when in reality it was false. No matter how much I believed to be the successor of Captain America in the early 70's and that I had super strength, sadly, “my truth” was not “the truth.”
Self-deception is a harmful state of mind and hard to distinguish from the truth - whether our internal, emotional truth, or the external truth. Psychologically speaking, one has to develop and trust one’s instinct: what does it feel like to react in the way that I’m reacting? Does it feel calm, considered, and nuanced, or shallow and reactive? Am I taking the well-being of my Brothers and others into consideration, or is it just all about me? Am I happy with my self-conquering effort, or am I feeling small, anxious, or ashamed by my actions?
I truly believe that truth is constructive and adaptive, while lies are destructive and self-defeating. So how useful is a self-deceptive thought or reaction going to be for you? Are you empowering yourself to fulfill your highest potential as a Freemason and as a citizen of this Country, or depriving yourself of opportunities for growth and creating further problems down the line?
Brother Mark Twain once said, “Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it,” but I do not completely agree with that advice. I believe all human beings are worthy of learning the truth, esoteric secrets excepted.
However, to "speak your truth" is to assume that there is some truth that you yourself possess. It assumes that each person is his or her own source for truth and authority. This leads us to believe that no one else has the right to correct us. No one can tell us what to think, what to believe, or what to say.
After countless years of study, I still can't honestly say that I have found the true meaning of Truth so I will not proclaim anything here. I will just remind you of a very simple piece of advice and I'm sure you have seen this before:
"Before you speak, T.H.I.N.K.: is it True? is it Helpful? is it Inspiring? is it Necessary? is it Kind?"
I want to use this opportunity to share my excitement with all the behind-the-scenes actions happening within our Lodge, most specifically the labor of the following committees: Administrative, Audit, Executive, Member Retention, Philanthropy, Public Relations & Social Media, and I want to thank all committeemen who joined me in various brainstorming sessions in December and in January.
I also want to thank all who were able to attend our Fellowship & Education Night last month. Items from the time capsules of 1865 and 1918 were shown on screen at the closing of my presentation on the origins of Washington Lodge No. 20 and Freemasonry in California. Please join us at the upcoming session presented by Brother Nick Johnston, our Junior Warden. His topic: Introduction to Freemasonry - with our candidates and prospects in mind.
As we journey through the second month of 2021, there is still no confirmation on when we can reopen our Masonic Temple. It was in our plans to celebrate Valentine's Day with our Ladies in a group setting at a nice restaurant but, unfortunately, we had to postpone that event for the safety and well-being of us all.
We were also looking forward to celebrating George Washington's Birthday with a very special Master Chef Bob Taylor & Sous-Chef Wally Clark menu edition at the February Stated Meeting Dinner. More like a triple-birthday celebration since both Bob & Wally (TM) have birthdays in February. I guess we will have to save that Strawberry Shortcake for next year, guys!
In addition to George Washington (February 22, 1732), three other U. S. presidents have February birthdays: William Henry Harrison (February 9, 1773), Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809), and Ronald Regan (February 6, 1911).
The holiday that we now celebrate as President’s Day has its origins in commemorations of George Washington’s birthday (February 22) that started in 1800, a year after he passed away. Celebrated unofficially for decades, it was not until 1885 that the federal government recognized Washington’s birthday as an official holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February; Presidents' Day 2021 will occur on Monday, February 15.
In closing, Brethren, I will share with you this timeless quote by Abraham Lincoln:
"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts."
Now that 2021 is fully in gear, we as a Lodge must move forward in every way we can. Worshipful Master Marques has pushed us forward by engaging with our multiple committees and preparing our Lodge for our eventual in-person return. As part of the process, I will be aiding in Masonic Education and how the coaches and candidates are progressing. In the next few weeks, I will check-in with the coaches. The goal is to gauge where everyone is so we can better prepare for our physical return to the Lodge. As a coach myself, I understand how it can be stressful, especially during the pandemic. I am here to help.
I cannot continue a February article without first bringing-up St. Valentine’s Day (especially if my wife is going to read this). We are taught to use the special day to acknowledge our significant others and thank them. Why limit it to that one day? We hear this advice all the time, but it doesn’t make it less true. As we honor our significant others on Valentine’s Day, let’s remember to do that every day. As I wrote one year ago, we can only be successful brothers in our Lodge because of their support. This special day also provides us ample opportunity to honor the surviving spouses of our Brother Masons who have gone to that undiscovered country.
This month, we also celebrate the birthday of Brother George Washington on February 22, 1732. At 20 years of age, a young Washington was initiated at Fredericksburg Lodge in Virginia. His Masonic journey led him to be raised in the same Lodge less than a year later on August 4, 1753. Another gentleman of great significance to our country was also born in February. His name, Abraham Lincoln. It’s no coincidence that we celebrate President’s Day in February. As we celebrate this holiday, we should remember that as Masons, we hold these two presidents in high regard. Their extraordinary leadership was critical to the continuing development of a union of states.
As a nation, we continue to have work to do. Our history is checkered with strife. These past months are no different. As I process everything that has been going on, I was reminded of a conversation from a video game. Yes, I said video game. We draw inspiration from nature and all forms of art.
What is the truth?
We place faith in ourselves. We see the world the way it really is, and hope that one day all mankind might see the same.
What is the world then?
An illusion. One we can either submit to, as most do, or transcend.
What is it to transcend?
To recognize nothing is true and everything is permitted. That laws arise not from divinity, but reason. I understand now that our creed does not command us to be free. It commands us to be wise.
In this conversation between two characters, we can see a similarity to our own tenets. We as Masons are taught to circumscribe our desires. In doing so, we can try to see the world the way it really is instead of under the lens of our own desires. We hope humankind will do the same. We strive to transcend what we see in the world. The world is what humanity has made of it based on our limited view of it. As Masons, we try to see the architecture of nature and its beauty before the human touch.
February in 2021 brings some spectacular milestones. This month, Brother Eric Hardiman turns 50, Brother Edwin Douthit turns 60, and Brother Garth Tanner turns 80. Twenty years ago in 2001, Worshipful Richard Pullen, PM, was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. Happy Birthdays and well-wishes all around.
Last month, we looked up at the heavens together and made some fun observations. If you are a night owl or an insomniac, early February is a great opportunity to stargaze. If you have the means (Sacramento’s significant light pollution notwithstanding), gaze up the ecliptic around low twelve this month, anywhere from the 1st to the 10th. We will revisit what you saw in a future column.
February is the month when the Acacia trees begin to bloom here in our climate, and we have some wonderful examples of Acacia right here in the Sacramento area. A short drive over the Yolo Causeway takes you to the UC Davis Arboretum, which features the Eric E. Conn Acacia Grove. It is open during COVID-19, with some guidelines.
For more information on the Grove and the requirements to visit, please click HERE.
Many of the Acacias featured in this Grove are unique because they were part of Dr Conn’s research at UC Davis. He was investigating how these plants produce compounds to prevent insects from eating them. If you read his biography at the link below, he spent a lifetime surveying nature, and making observations of her beautiful proportions.
Over the years, humanity has developed other commercial applications of the plant, which include food additives (i.e. Gum Arabic), furniture and perfume; works that are no doubt the admiration of any age.
Last month, we also mused a bit on the Ancient Greeks, and it turns out they have something to say about Acacia too. The Greek word for Acacia is ἀκακία and it has a pertinent etymology. It comes from the root ákakos , from ἀ- (a-, “not”) + κακός (kakós, “evil”). In other words, in the
Greek language,2 the word acacia means without evil, or innocence.
This etymology is fitting as the Acacia is one of the first plants to bloom after the New Year, and as a prelude to Spring reminds us of the rebirth of nature, which of course is associated with innocence.
I hope everyone stays healthy and warm during our last full month of winter.
Acacia wood was featured prominently in Exodus chapters 25, 37, and 38 of the Old Testament as the wood used by the Israelites to build the Tabernacle, including: The Ark, The table for the Showbread, the Brazen Altar, the Incense Altar, all their respective poles, and all the poles for the hanging of curtains.
Brethren, we would like to first introduce ourselves informally, during this virtual-social lifestyle this past year and going forward. I’m your Secretary, Jesse Solis-Jacques, PM, and Brother Kyle Campbell, your Assistant Secretary, for the current Masonic year. It is our distinct pleasure to serve each of you very well to the best of our abilities. My favorite hobbies are playing basketball and billiards and Brother Kyle enjoys playing tennis, filmmaking, and watching movies. I’m sure we are all looking forward to getting to know each other more in the near future.
For your awareness, this being our very first article from the Secretary’s Table, we will continue this communication for our members to provide the most pertinent information and necessary resources. If there is anything you would like to add to our monthly articles that you feel will benefit the lodge or Freemasonry in general, please contact us in advance. We would like to post our articles in time before the next upcoming Stated Meetings.
For the month of February, there are a couple of items we would like to further update you on. We know this past year, Covid-19 has pushed us to change and adjust our lifestyles in many ways, which includes how we operate and manage our Lodge. We sincerely appreciate your patience and cooperation during these challenging transitions.
The First item is the addition of iMember 2.0, our Grand Lodge's database platform. For those who may be unfamiliar with the platform, it is where we are able to manage our member’s records.
The following are quick steps for a member to gain access to their existing accounts and view their masonic records:
Go to freemason.org
On the top right corner of the main page click FOR MEMBERS button and it will redirect you to the sign-in page.
If this is your first time on freemason.org, on the top right of the sign-in page click the Member Registration tab and it will redirect you to the registration form. Complete the form by inputting the following:
• Your Lodge Number (20)
• Your Member ID (contact me or the Assistant Secretary for help if you do not know your ID number)
• Your Last name
Then click Check Membership Status and continue to follow the final steps to verify your account.
You will also find a short video-guide available on the same page on how to register your account.
You will notice an APP tab at the top right corner of the Sign-in or Membership page. Click for instructions on how to add the iMember 2.0 App to your iOS device.
Once you are logged in, you will have access to your Masonic records.
Please take the time, when you are able, to explore your account and take advantage of all the resources and training tools available to you.
You will also have the capability to update your personal information such as (address, phone, email, etc.).
A few exciting features are your Virtual Dues Card, viewing your dues balances and transactions, and downloading or printing your Dues Card (PDF).
The second item: is new information on various forms of payment options available for our members. Below are the types of payments and instructions:
• If paying by Check, please make checks payable to: “Washington Lodge No. 20”
Note: Due to the Covid-19 and until further notice, please mail your check to my home address for expedited processing:
1212 Hawthorne Loop
Roseville, CA, 95678
I will deposit all checks virtually via mobile deposit to our Lodge's bank account.
• If paying by Credit Card/Debit Card on the Washington Lodge No. 20 website:
Note: (CC online payments will include a service charge to cover processing fees)
Simply go to WLN20.org/Dues and follow the steps below:
Scroll down to the center of the page and click on the Square icon.
This will redirect you to our Square online store for payment options:
Click on 2021 WLN20 Annual Dues to pay $85.79. ($83 plus credit card fees).
If paying for more than one year of membership dues, please scroll down to the Give Now option and enter the desired dollar amount.
Please contact me before using that option if you are unsure of how much to pay.
Follow payment prompts and before you place your order, there is a comment box in the “review and submit order” section and type “Lodge Dues.”
• If paying by Credit Card/Debit Card on the Grand Lodge iMember 2.0 website or App:
Simply go to freemason.org and follow the steps below:
On the top right corner of the main page, click on the FOR MEMBERS tab which will redirect you to the sign-in page.
If you owe a balance, you will have a Pay Dues option to make a payment.
Follow payment prompts and your account will update immediately.
Note: I will receive a monthly statement listing all the members who have paid online via the Grand Lodge website.
If you have any questions about payment transactions, please contact me or call the Grand Lodge's Member Services directly at 1-800-831-8170 or (415)776-7000 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at 1111 California Street, San Francisco, CA. 94108.
The third item: will be the upcoming agenda from Treasurer and Secretary’s table on our Zoom Virtual (Tiled) Stated Meeting on February 4th.
The following reports will be given:
• Annual Financial Report presented by the Treasurer, Worshipful Eric Hixson, PM
• Semi/Annual Membership Report and monies received for 2020 presented by me.
In closing, Brethren, I must provide a courtesy reminder to all our members, family members, and friends, that the Grand Lodge's Member Services is available for assistance in the event a member is in distress or deceased. Their contact information is listed above.
Please contact the Secretary or Assistant Secretary at any time for questions, concerns, or simply to just say hi and chat. Below is our preferred method of contacts:
Jesse Solis-Jacques, PM
(916) 412-1423 (Call or Text)
Or via USPS mail to:
1212 Hawthorne Loop
Roseville, CA, 95678
Brother Kyle Campbell
(802) 318-8617 (Call or Text)
Thank you for your attention.
Washington Lodge No. 20
To practice and promote a way of life that binds like-minded men in a worldwide
brotherhood that transcends all religious, ethnic, cultural, social and educational differences.
Through Masonic principles and tradition, and by the outward expression of these
through its fellowship and compassion, Washington Lodge No.20 Free & Accepted Masons provides ways in which to serve God, family, country, neighbors, and self in an environment that contributes to the enrichment and betterment of its members, mankind, and its communities.
Ahiman: A Review of Masonic Culture and Tradition
Edited by Shawn Eyer
Freemasonry has never really suffered from a shortage of writing. Various books, booklets, and compendia have been assembled over the generations, offering all sorts of sentiments and theories about things Masonic.
What has been missing in recent generations, however, is *exceptional* writing that meets the need of the brethren for more light. More often than not during the past fifty years, Masons have been treated to a barrage of trite histrionics in any number of publications, on subjects that are not really Masonic, but were merely hitched to the Masonic wagon by a well-meaning brother with an ax that should have been ground elsewhere.
Into this context arrives Ahiman, which is a breakthrough publication for the Craft. Compiled and edited by Shawn Eyer, editor of Philalethes and Past Master of Academia Lodge No. 847 in Oakland, California, Ahiman at long last offers a first-rate philosophical journal to the thinking Mason. There are certainly other fine journals within the body of Masonry, but their focus has primarily been one of historical research. This one moves decisively into the contemplative aspect of Freemasonry, in a way that simply has not been offered until now.
Every aspect of this publication has been thoughtfully considered, from the choice of articles to the visual presentation, which offers some of the finest layout found in any Masonic publication anywhere. This attention to aesthetics has been a signature of Eyer's work at Philalethes, and it shines in the pages of Ahiman.
A particularly appealing touch is that many of the feature articles are complemented by excerpts from the corresponding source material mentioned in those articles. Adam Kendall's excellent piece on the life of distinguished Masonic orator Thomas Starr King is followed by one of King's orations from 1863. Far more meaningful than a bibliographical footnote, this juxtaposition brings the entire subject to life in a way that fully educates the reader. This technique is employed again in reverse order with David Stafford's article on Plato's Allegory of the Cave.
Given the growing thirst of new Masons for serious philosophical study in their journey through the Craft, Ahiman has indeed arrived at just the right time, and one eagerly awaits to see what Bro. Eyer will come up with for the next edition. Bravo.
ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY
FORGET TO PAY HIS DUES
SAVE THESE DATES
Saturday, February 20 POSTPONED
Annual Ladies’ Luncheon - Wine Tasting
Thursday, March 25
Past Masters’ Night
Third Degree: Brother Dave Stallberg
Thursday, April 01
101st Anniversary of First Stated Meeting
at 1123 J Street
Saturday, May 22
Annual Family BBQ Picnic
Thursday, June 24
Saint John’s Festive Board
Thursday, September 30
Annual Constitutional Observance Night
Thursday, October 28
First Responders Day Celebration
Saturday, November 06
Annual Ladies’ Night
* All event dates are subject to change
For more information, please visit WLN20.org/2021
The Masonic Deck of Cards
One evening a Lodge Mentor retired with a young Brother who could not witness a ceremony in a higher degree.
The Mentor produced a pack of playing cards and said to the younger Brother,
“Did you know that you can learn a great deal about Freemasonry from these?”
“No, indeed,” said the young Brother. “What can they teach me?”
“They are useful for improving your memory,” said the Mentor. “Look here, now.”
• The ACE reminds me of the Great Architect of the Universe.
• The TWO reminds me of the two great pillars at the entrance of King Solomon's Temple.
• The THREE reminds me of the 3 who rule the Lodge, the WM, the SW, and the JW.
• The FOUR reminds me of our progression in the Craft
• Entered Apprentice,
• Fellow Craft,
• Master Mason,
• and Worshipful Master.
• The FIVE reminds me of the 5 noble orders of Architecture,
• and Composite.
• The SIX reminds me of the 6 principles of our order,
• Brotherly Love, Faith,
• Relief, Hope,
• Truth, and Charity.
• The SEVEN reminds me of the 7 liberal arts and sciences,
• and Astronomy.
• The EIGHT reminds me that we have members from all faiths.
According to the Bible, there were eight human beings – including Noah – on board the ark.
In Islam, eight is the number of angels carrying the throne of Allah in heaven as well as the number of gates in heaven according to the Koran. In Buddhism, eight is an auspicious number.
• The NINE reminds me of the cheery battery given in honor of a fellow Mason.
• The TEN reminds me of the 10 Commandments on which our order is based.
TEN was also the Pythagorean symbol of perfection or completeness.
• The JACK reminds me of the word we share in the Fellow Craft Degree.
• The QUEEN reminds me of the widow who bore the famous son and, also our Sovereign.
• The KING reminds me of King Solomon, the principal figure of our order.
• There are TWELVE face cards that remind me of the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 signs of the Zodiac.
• There are TWO COLORS which remind me of Night and Day, Good and Evil.
• There are FOUR SUITS that remind me of Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, and Justice.
“I am most grateful,” said the young Brother.
“I will never forget all that you have said.
But tell me, there are two cards which you haven’t yet explained.”
“Oh, those,” said the Mentor.
“Those are the two JOKERS who Proposed and Seconded you
after telling you that it would take no more than one evening a month.”
Since July 2020, nearly 3,880 of California Freemasons have already begun to access their portals in iMember 2.0, the new membership platform—one of the highest adoption rates of any grand lodge jurisdiction on the system. Yet with so many new features just a finger-swipe away—and many more being prepped for launch this fall—there are still lots of questions left to be answered, starting with some of the most basic.
How to Get to iMember 2.0
iMember 2.0 is designed to work on any mobile phone, tablet, or desktop or laptop computer with an internet connection. Simply visit member.freemason.org/lodges/20 or freemason.org and click the FOR MEMBERS button in the upper-right-hand corner of the screen. If you haven’t logged on yet, you’ll need to create an account, so have your email address, membership number, and a unique password ready to go.
You Can Download iMember 2.0 on Your Phone
Whether you have an iPhone or an Android phone, you can add a home screen shortcut to access iMember 2.0 quickly and easily. To install, use your web browser to visit the site, and select “Add to home screen.”
The exact placement of the button will depend on your web browser (Safari, Chrome, or Firefox).
More Features in the Works
• Digital Dues, Reminders and Payment Plans
• Expanded Social Networks with App Notifications
• New Ways to Share Resources
• One-Stop Shop for Hall Associations
• Keeping Track of Attendance
iMember 2.0 is available to all Masons in California!
For questions on iMember 2.0, contact Member Services at (415) 292-9180 or email@example.com
Eric Hixson (PM)
Jesse Solis-Jacques (PM)
Jared Yoshiki (PM)
Junior Past Master
D. Edward Entrican (PM)
Luis Montero (PM)
Dave Cameron (PM)
Head Candidates Coach
Michael Woo (PM)
Inspector 414th District