Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rating Ourselves

This article was sent to me by "Dad" Peter Brusoe, of Nation's Capital DeMolay. It has some good, thought provoking questions in it. Check it out!

March 10, 2011
The Modesty Manifesto

We’re an overconfident species. Ninety-four percent of college professors believe they have above-average teaching skills. A survey of high school students found that 70 percent of them have above-average leadership skills and only 2 percent are below average.

Men tend to be especially blessed with self-esteem. Men are the victims of unintentional drowning more than twice as often as women. That’s because men have tremendous faith in their own swimming ability, especially after they’ve been drinking.

Americans are similarly endowed with self-esteem. When pollsters ask people around the world to rate themselves on a variety of traits, they find that people in Serbia, Chile, Israel and the United States generally supply the most positive views of themselves. People in South Korea, Switzerland, Japan, Taiwan and Morocco are on the humble side of the rankings.

Yet even from this high base, there is some evidence to suggest that Americans have taken self-approval up a notch over the past few decades. Start with the anecdotal evidence. It would have been unthinkable for a baseball player to celebrate himself in the batter’s box after a home-run swing. Now it’s not unusual. A few decades ago, pop singers didn’t compose anthems to their own prowess; now those songs dominate the charts.

American students no longer perform particularly well in global math tests. But Americans are among the world leaders when it comes to thinking that we are really good at math.

Students in the Middle East, Africa and the United States have the greatest faith in their math skills. Students in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan have much less self-confidence, though they actually do better on the tests.

In a variety of books and articles, Jean M. Twenge of San Diego State University and W. Keith Campbell of the University of Georgia have collected data suggesting that American self-confidence has risen of late. College students today are much more likely to agree with statements such as “I am easy to like” than college students 30 years ago. In the 1950s, 12 percent of high school seniors said they were a “very important person.” By the ’90s, 80 percent said they believed that they were.

In short, there’s abundant evidence to suggest that we have shifted a bit from a culture that emphasized self-effacement — I’m no better than anybody else, but nobody is better than me — to a culture that emphasizes self-expansion.

Writers like Twenge point out that young people are bathed in messages telling them how special they are. Often these messages are untethered to evidence of actual merit. Over the past few decades, for example, the number of hours college students spend studying has steadily declined. Meanwhile, the average G.P.A. has steadily risen.

Some argue that today’s child-rearing and educational techniques have produced praise addicts. Roni Caryn Rabin of The Times recently reported on some research that found that college students would rather receive a compliment than eat their favorite food or have sex.

If Americans do, indeed, have a different and larger conception of the self than they did a few decades ago, I wonder if this is connected to some of the social and political problems we have observed over the past few years.

I wonder if the rise of consumption and debt is in part influenced by people’s desire to adorn their lives with the things they feel befit their station. I wonder if the rise in partisanship is influenced in part by a narcissistic sense that, “I know how the country should be run and anybody who disagrees with me is just in the way.”

Most pervasively, I wonder if there is a link between a possible magnification of self and a declining saliency of the virtues associated with citizenship.

Citizenship, after all, is built on an awareness that we are not all that special but are, instead, enmeshed in a common enterprise. Our lives are given meaning by the service we supply to the nation. I wonder if Americans are unwilling to support the sacrifices that will be required to avert fiscal catastrophe in part because they are less conscious of themselves as components of a national project.

Perhaps the enlargement of the self has also attenuated the links between the generations. Every generation has an incentive to push costs of current spending onto future generations. But no generation has done it as freely as this one. Maybe people in the past had a visceral sense of themselves as a small piece of a larger chain across the centuries. As a result, it felt viscerally wrong to privilege the current generation over the future ones, in a way it no longer does.

It’s possible, in other words, that some of the current political problems are influenced by fundamental shifts in culture, involving things as fundamental as how we appraise ourselves. Addressing them would require a more comprehensive shift in values.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sometimes you just have to show up!

In DeMolay we spend a lot of time talking to members and advisors about getting out into their communities and getting DeMolay to become more recognized. It's often discussed that we should try to get on TV, appear in newspapers, and canvas our local communities with our name. This is all well and good, but sometimes just doing the right thing will get you farther than any of the above methods.

This is exactly what happened at Pilgrim Chapter. The young men and their advisors recently attended a Swatara  Township meeting to receive a proclamation for DeMolay Month. Due to some other issues in the community, there were several news agencies present reporting on the meeting. One of the reporters, seeing several well dressed young men, wearing their Chapter shirts, approached the group for more information. After a quick discussion, the reporter took a snap shot and did a write up about Pilgrim in the local paper (which is available below.)

So, by simply participating in DeMolay Month, the Chapter ended up with some great publicity. This goes to show that sometimes you just have to show up!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Special thanks to "Mom" Jan Harms, Chapter Advisor for Pilgrim Chapter, for supplying the information.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's a Pirate's Life for Me

I've had a pretty tough week personally, with lots of stuff going on in my life. Unfortunately, this left me little time to ponder things for the blog. However, as always, the Art of Manliness came to my rescue. Recently, they published a fantastic post called Man Knowledge: A Pirate Primer. It has a lot of good background information on the history of piracy and just what it meant to be a pirate. 

The best thing I found in the article were the rules used by "Black Bart" Roberts to keep order on his ship. Can these be translated into DeMolay terms? Read on and leave me a comment with your thoughts!

Frat ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Special thanks to "Dad" Peter Brusoe for the heads up on this article.

Black Barts Rules of Piratey-ness

 Every man has a vote in affairs of moment; has equal title to the fresh provisions, or strong liquors, at any time seized, and may use them at pleasure, unless a scarcity (not an uncommon thing among them) makes it necessary, for the good of all, to vote a retrenchment.

II. Every man to be called fairly in turn, by list, on board of prizes because, (over and above their proper share) they were on these occasions allowed a shift of clothes: but if they defrauded the company to the value of a dollar in plate, jewels, or money, marooning was their punishment. If the robbery was only betwixt one another, they contented themselves with slitting the ears and nose of him that was guilty, and set him on shore, not in an uninhabited place, but somewhere, where he was sure to encounter hardships.
III. No person to game at cards or dice for money.
IV. The lights and candles to be put out at eight o’clock at night: if any of the crew, after that hour still remained inclined for drinking, they were to do it on the open deck.
V. To keep their piece, pistols, and cutlass clean and fit for service.
VI. No boy or woman to be allowed amongst them. If any man were to be found seducing any of the latter sex, and carried her to sea, disguised, he was to suffer death; (so that when any fell into their hands, as it chanced in the Onslow, they put a sentinel immediately over her to prevent ill consequences from so dangerous an instrument of division and quarrel; but then here lies the roguery; they contend who shall be sentinel, which happens generally to one of the greatest bullies, who, to secure the lady’s virtue, will let none lie with her but himself.)
VII. To desert the ship or their quarters in battle, was punished with death or marooning.
VIII. No striking one another on board, but every man’s quarrels to be ended on shore, at sword and pistol. (The quarter-master of the ship, when the parties will not come to any reconciliation, accompanies them on shore with what assistance he thinks proper, and turns the disputant back to back, at so many paces distance; at the word of command, they turn and fire immediately, (or else the piece is knocked out of their hands). If both miss, they come to their cutlasses, and then he is declared the victor who draws the first blood.)
IX. No man to talk of breaking up their way of living, till each had shared one thousand pounds. If in order to this, any man should lose a limb, or become a cripple in their service, he was to have eight hundred dollars, out of the public stock, and for lesser hurts, proportionately.
X. The captain and quartermaster to receive two shares of a prize: the master, boatswain, and gunner, one share and a half, and other officers one and quarter.
XI. The musicians to have rest on the Sabbath Day, but the other six days and nights, none without special favour.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Setting the Bar

Today's post is submitted by Bro. Max Ullom, of Joppa Chapter, who also serves as State Junior Deacon for PA DeMolay.

hy, might you ask, is community service such a big deal and more importantly why should we care about it? Community service, in itself, is a way you to show your Chapter and the organization in a good and desirable light in your community. It also allows you to help keep your community in top shape, knowing that you helped out in some way, no matter how small or large the task, it will make you feel better about yourself. By doing community service, it shows your town  that you care about the area you live and want to help to better in whatever way possible. It also can make an impression on the townsfolk that the youth of the area are interested in keeping the community in line and to help better it.

Ways that you can do community service can range from helping the Salvation Army ring bells around Christmas time to adopting a section of highway or road that passes through any area. For instance Joppa Chapter helped the community by wrapping gifts for needy children and giving them Christmas presents if they're less fortunate. We have also helped the local VFW plant flags on the graves of War Veterans in the cemetery, and we helped collect cell phones for the women’s shelter. These are just a few things Joppa did to help out the community of Washington, PA. There are many other ways than the ones I mentioned, but it’s just up to you as to what you want to do for the city or town you live in. As you read before in Bro. Neubauer's article, "Once in a while someone comes along that sets the bar a little higher." Will you and your Chapter be the ones to set the bar higher and Take Control! of your community service?  

- Bro. Max Ullom, Joppa Chapter

Thursday, March 17, 2011

You be the Judge.

Today's post is from a special guest - Bro. Adam Neubauer of Westmoreland Chapter, who also serves as State 6th Preceptor for PA DeMolay.

While looking at the current and past holders of "the Judge," it dawned on me, many people may not know what "the Judge" stands for or what the purpose of it really is.  Back in 2005,  The Judge was made to honor Brother Justin D. Killian, PSMC and presented by "Dad" Rodney Boyce, Deputy Executive Officer. While reading the transcript of the presentation, something "Dad" Boyce said struck me. "
Once in a while someone comes along that sets the bar a little higher for all those who will follow in his footsteps.  Over the past three years I have had the distinct privilege of working with a young man who has done just that— set the bar a little higher." 

Now, keep that in mind while you read the rest of this post. The Judge was also made to encourage Chapters to visit other Chapters at their various events and meetings. The Judge, which has called Westmoreland Chapter it's home, has been a big hit at our Chapter. We were first introduced to the Judge January 2, 2006, and since then we've been passionate about getting it back! The Judge program has even inspired us to go above and beyond to introduce "mini-judges" to other chapters. The goal for them is to support further involvement in Chapters in our area! Like "Dad" Boyce said  before, The Judge was given to honor someone who set the bar higher. What can you do to set the bar higher?

- Bro. Adam Neubaur, State 6th Preceptor

Monday, March 14, 2011

Beginnings and Endings

It's going to be a short post day today, as I'm swamped with things to get done after the Rose Croix weekend. The event went very well and I'm sure that all in attendance had a great time! I only have two things on the agenda for the blog today, but they are both important.

1. I have decided to stop doing Trivia with Fezzy on the blog. After a good run of 20 weeks, I feel the idea has run it's course. I'm going to try to concoct some kind of new contest to keep interest in the blog, but for now I am bidding trivia goodbye.

2. If you're on Facebook (and who isn't anymore) you should be participating in the Change Your Profile Picture for DeMolay event sponsored by "Proud DeMolay." Just to go to Facebook, search for"Proud DeMolay" and you'll find an assortment of pictures for you to choose from. This is a simple way for you to get involved in DeMolay month and support the organization, so, give it a whirl!

That's it from my desk today! I promise I'll have something good to rant about on Thursday!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Trivia with Fezzy: Week 20

Each Friday I am posting a PA DeMolay Blog related trivia question. Each active DeMolay from Pennsylania (excluding Elected State Officers) who correctly posts their answer in the comments section of this blog will be placed in a drawing to receive 5 points for the Take Control! program and receive a special "Fezzy" gamer tag over on the points page! All you have to do is leave your answer in the comments section. On Monday morning I will randomly select one of the correct answers and award the person with the points. Answer every week and rack up some major points - it's that easy!

Remember, the answer to each question can be found right here on the PA DeMolay blog. So, on to the question of the week!

What connection does PA DeMolay have with Australia?

 C'mon - it's answer time!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth "Fezzy" Anthony

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Metaphorically speaking...

Alright, I promised you one of "Dad" Anthony's patented thoughtful rants today. On Monday, not too long after I completed the blog post for that day, I was talking with another Advisor and came up with a great metaphor (at least I think so anyways!) It relates back to the Unplugged concept and tries to place all of the puzzle pieces together to show how DeMolay should operate.

DeMolay is an engine for social learning and positive change. This occurs at every level. Whether your Chapter is out planting trees, PA DeMolay is donating to the Learning Centers, or DeMolay International is helping Relay for Life, the organization is providing young men across America the chance to show that young people can and do still make a difference. The real question is, how do we get this proverbial "engine" to fire on all cylinders? Well, before we can maximize performance of this engine, we must understand the component parts.

In DeMolay, the the engine is the program. I think that's pretty obvious as it provides the mechanism for the members to do all the things they like to do - social activities, community service, etc. In every engine you need two key things to make it function - fuel and a spark. In this case, the fuel are the DeMolays. Without a constant stream of enthusiastic members, the program will quickly run out of "gas" and the engine will stop functioning. However, just pouring fuel into an engine doesn't help either, you need a spark to ignite the substance. The spark, is provided by a spark plug in a regular engine and in the DeMolay "engine" it's provided by the Advisors. They show the young men how to flow through the program and make it work, sparking their interest when necessary and then remaining dormant until the next need for an ignition. While spark plugs don't "unplug" they don't constantly fire either. They are there to provide a quick spark to keep the whole system firing.

There are many, many, more parts to an engine, but this simple metaphor seemed to explain the Unplugged idea a bit more in my head, so, I thought I'd share. What is your Advisory Council doing to keep the engine running on all cylinders? Are they sparking too often, or not enough?

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, March 7, 2011

You're such a good sport!

Good morning PA DeMolay! I'm getting back to the office from an exhausting weekend at the PA DeMolay Basketball tournament (which you can read more about over at as well as a whirlwind day of Knights Templar meetings. This evening my home Commandery is greeting Sir Knight S. Timothy Warco, Right Eminent Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Pennsylvania (how's that for a title?) This means that I have another busy day ahead of me. I hope you'll forgive the shortness of my post in light of this.

I wanted to post something sports related after the tournament, so, I went in search over at the Art of Manliness blog. I found a great article on being a good sport that I think everyone should read. We had fantastic sportsmanship at the tournament this weekend - in fact, I believe DeMolays are some of the best sports out there! But, this article is a good read even if you are a great winner or loser - so, check it out!

I'll be back on Thursday, hopefully with a longer pondering!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Friday, March 4, 2011

Trivia with Fezzy: Week 19

Each Friday I am posting a PA DeMolay Blog related trivia question. Each active DeMolay from Pennsylania (excluding Elected State Officers) who correctly posts their answer in the comments section of this blog will be placed in a drawing to receive 5 points for the Take Control! program and receive a special "Fezzy" gamer tag over on the points page! All you have to do is leave your answer in the comments section. On Monday morning I will randomly select one of the correct answers and award the person with the points. Answer every week and rack up some major points - it's that easy!

Remember, the answer to each question can be found right here on the PA DeMolay blog. So, on to the question of the week!

Who was the National Winner (11th Grade and Above Category) of the Paul R. Kach Essay Contest? What Chapter did he hail from?

C'mon - it's answer time!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth "Fezzy" Anthony

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Discipline is not evil.

PREFACE: This column first appeared on another blog called Freemason Information. I found the article very informative and asked the author for permission to reprint it here, which he granted. Enjoy!
I recently attended a training session for a nonprofit organization whereby the intention was to teach new members the policies and procedures for the organization. I was there to assist. During the course of the program, the instructor explained the protocol for conducting meetings where the public may be in attendance. In addition to “Roberts Rules of Order,” the group had supplemental procedures for recognizing and answering questions from the floor. All of it seemed rather simple and straightforward, but there were a couple of young people in attendance, whom I judged to be in their mid-20′s, who seemed to be baffled by the instructor’s explanation. The teacher patiently repeated the procedure and demonstrated with some examples. This didn’t seem to help as the students were still at a loss as to what the instructor was saying. At this point, other students chimed in to support the teacher and tried to explain the concept to them. I even threw in my two cents. After much cajoling, they finally acquiesced and claimed they understood, but I wasn’t convinced they did.
As I was driving home that night I thought about the two young students and wondered why they were having a problem comprehending what appeared to be a simple concept. Aside from being younger than myself, I judged them to be relatively well educated. “Is it possible that I am more intelligent than they are?” I thought to myself. No, I like to believe I am well rounded, but certainly not in the category of being a genius. In all likelihood, we were probably comparable in terms of intelligence. So, what was causing the problem? Then it hit me, simple discipline.
Both tended to dress rather roughly to work and it wasn’t uncommon for them not to shave. Their speech and manners also hinted of the lack of social graces. Further, after observing their work habits, I found they had a reputation for bucking the system. They were far from stupid, but their nonconformist attitudes tended to get in their way of learning and adapting.
Not long ago I wrote an article entitled, “What’s wrong with a little discipline?,” which described the efforts of Caroline Haynes, a school principal in the United Kingdom, who was raising the test scores of her students by implementing strict discipline in the classroom.
More recently, Amy Chua, a Professor at Yale’s Law School in Connecticut raised some eyebrows with the publication of her new book, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.” which is a memoir of her experiences raising two daughters using strict parenting techniques. This resulted in considerable criticism in the media and by parents who claimed Ms. Chua was too hard on her own children. Maybe she was, but you cannot argue with the end result whereby her children, who are now entering their college years, are intelligent and socially well-adjusted, not to mention excellent musicians. They excelled not because they were inherently bright, but because their mother instilled a sense of discipline in them by challenging them to think and participate.
In an age of permissiveness, where parents tend to be lax in enforcing discipline, people like Caroline Haynes and Amy Chua clearly demonstrate that discipline is not evil, but rather quite beneficial. However, as both people have discovered, there is a general perception by the public that discipline stifles the expression of individuality and creativity. Consequently, parents tend to be intolerant of such things as school uniforms and corporal punishment in public schools.
Consider this, up until the 1960′s there were dress codes in public schools. For example, boys had to wear collared shirts, slacks, and proper shoes. Blue jeans, gym shoes, T-shirts, and shorts were a taboo. Further, there were hair codes which defined length and cut. If anything was out of place, you were sent home. Likewise, girls had similar codes. Dress lengths were checked regularly and there were certain ways you couldn’t wear your hair. Excessive use of makeup was also checked. This all changed in the 70′s when kids rebelled and parents began to insist their children be given certain freedoms which resulted in a “grunge” look that remains with us to this day. Is it any small coincidence that the rebellion of school dress codes in the 70′s led to a similar change in office dress codes in the 90′s? Hardly.
It is not my intention here to make a pitch for student dress codes or the re-implementation of corporal punishment, rather to point out the far-reaching effects from the lack of discipline by parents. As evidenced by the work of Haynes and Chua, there are benefits associated with discipline such as producing a trained mind that knows how to analyze, think, and take initiative to seek the proper answer (which would have certainly helped the two young students mentioned earlier). Discipline also forces the person to assume responsibility and gives them a sense of purpose. As such, it significantly contributes to their maturity. Further, it promotes teamwork by teaching uniformity and commitment. Discipline affects our thinking patterns, speech, common courtesy and decorum, all of which contributes to making a person more socially adjusted.
When it comes to discipline, nobody likes to be pushed, least of all myself, but I have learned to push myself when necessary. As a kid though, every once and awhile I needed a good swift kick in the rear end to get my attention and point me in the right direction. Even a nudge from a caring parent or mentor, given at the right time, can work wonders. That’s what parenting is all about. Unfortunately, not enough people are doing this. Maybe if everyone was required to serve a two year hitch in the military things would be different.
Some people perceive discipline as evil, that it does nothing more than “teaches trained seals how to perform” while sacrificing their creativity and spirit in the process. Such accusations are naive and misunderstand the purpose of discipline which is how to effectively channel skills and creative energies. Discipline represents a process whereby we learn there are consequences for our actions or inaction (“cause and effect”), that there are both right ways and wrong ways for doing things. No great or important object was ever built without some form of discipline. Ask any engineer, architect, musician, inventor, scientist, manufacturer or craftsman; they will all tell you that you cannot build anything of substance without discipline.
No, discipline is certainly not evil, but you have to wonder about the people who fail to instill it. Excuses abound to rationalize why they do not do so, such as they don’t have time, or they don’t want to inhibit their children. Some are plain and simply afraid to do so in fear of the legal system. When parents fail to teach discipline it defaults to teachers, coaches, and employers to do so, which is not necessarily their responsibility and may produce undesirable results. Understand this, for every person who fails to learn some form of discipline, they become a burden on society and, accumulatively, they represent a decline in our civilization.
Keep the Faith!
Note: Reprinted with permission. All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.
Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at