Monday, May 30, 2011

Remembering the 7th Precept

As we observe this Memorial Day, it seemed only appropriate that I put something on the Blog relating to the holiday. This information is taken from and I appreciate their efforts.

How did Memorial Day get started, and why is it on May 30? Here are some facts about the national day of remembrance for America’s fallen heroes.
  1. Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day.
  2. More than two dozen cities lay claim to being the site of the first Memorial Day commemoration.
  3. Gen. John Logan officially proclaimed Memorial Day on May 5, 1868.
  4. The first national commemoration took place on May 30, 1868, as flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
  5. In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon B. Johnson declared Waterloo, NY, as the “birthplace” of Memorial Day, citing a ceremony held on May 5, 1866 to honor Civil War dead.
  6. It is believed that the date was chosen because by May 30, flowers would be in bloom all over the country.
  7. Inspired by the poem “In Flanders Field” Moina Michael wrote a poem of her own, and came up with the idea of wearing red poppies in honor of Memorial Day.
  8. Some Southern states have special observances specifically in honor of fallen Confederate soldiers, including Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
  9. In 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act to encourage people to give back to the country, as well as promote commemorations of Memorial Day.
  10. The National Moment of Remembrance Act urges all Americans to pause, wherever they may be, at 3 p.m. local time on May 30 for a moment of silence in honor of the country’s fallen heroes.
Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Musings from Westmoreland

Today's post is by "Dad" Bruce Neubauer, Chapter Chairman of Westmoreland Chapter, located in Greensburg, PA. "Dad" Neuabauer wrote this article unsolicited and sent it to PA DeMolay. I enjoyed his thoughts and he graciously allowed me to post it here. I hope you enjoy it!

You might think DeMolay is just about the young men, but it's not. DeMolay is also about the Advisors. You might say that this comment does not fit in with the "Unplugged" concept. But remember, Unplugged does not mean disconnected. I hope you find this story interesting. I have seen some things lately that I thought were amazing.

Westmoreland DeMolay has a very long and exciting history in PA. In the olden days the Chapter was very active in ritual competitions and sporting events. We understand they had a Chapter with a lot of members. Over the years the members got involved with other activities and a lot aged out and moved on. Westmoreland Chapter was lucky to continue to have a few young men to keep it alive. Our hats go off to these young men, because it would have been easy to go dark. Westmoreland continued to have a good Advisory Council that did not want to see the Chapter close.

About 3 years ago Westmoreland started to get a few more young men. They joined one at a time. Now we know that the guys are to try and recruit their friends, but they need help. Before a member is going to ask a friend, he must believe it is the right thing to do. In the beginning, the young men would not ask anyone to join. Some of our Advisors talked up DeMolay how the young men could join. There were Masons that thought DeMolay was gone. Westmoreland had a sports prospect party that summer and two young men had come because of the interest sparked at the Masonic meeting with a friend. Both guys joined with in a couple weeks. It is very important that the adults never stop talking about DeMolay because the young men need your help.
All of a sudden we had about 6 young men, who were 12 and 13 years old, wondering "What am I doing here?" When they sat through the first business meeting none of the young men knew what to do. At that point the Advisors did a lot. They had to help with ritual, explain how to make a motion, and why you needed one in the first place. The new members were very nervous. We had a Master Councilor That was trying to work with the members and stayed on for an extra term or two until the younger guys were ready. Later that year we had an Advisor that went to a leadership weekend and found out from our Master Councilor that the Advisors were way too involved in the meetings. The Advisors started to back off and it was not easy. This was right before "Unplugged" debuted as a concept. When we read the "Unplugged" article one of our Advisors absolutely did not agree with it because he felt the guys were not prepared to run the Chapter. He thought they did not have the tools needed to be successful. Upon further review the Advisors felt that it would work if you stayed connected when the members needed help.

This now bring us to today. Our guys are now between 12 and 16. We have a truly "Unplugged" but not disconnected Chapter. This does not mean they are own their own. As advisors, you have to know when to get involved. Our young men are working on the "Take Control!" program. The Young men have seen a couple terms and now know some of the things they need to do, such as Scheduling dates with your meeting place, setting a budget for activities, following up with who is going and much, much more. At the Councilors meeting the Chapter Advisor is part of the meeting. This is where the young men review the activity.
We have seen the young men "Take Control!" of the Chapter. They are taking pride in the ritual and Master Councilor puts together a meeting agenda and has copies for everyone. Over the past few meetings the transformation in the Chapter is been amazing. The older members are helping the newer members. We just had a Prospect party with four prospects. But remember, he guys will not ask friends to join until they believe. We can see where the members of Westmoreland Chapter are working as a team by the way everyone had a great time at the party.

Finally the Advisors of Westmoreland Chapter have had a lot to do with the young men gaining the confidence and learning needed to succeed. As an advisor, you must never stop asking your friends, family, or Brothers if they know about DeMolay. The Young men are learning how to be leaders and the Advisors are using their skill to help them learn. As advisors think of the rewards when you can sit back and say WOW what a change.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Just a short update...

I know everyone was starting their Monday with great excitement at the thought of reading another one of my blog posts. Unfortunately, I'm out on the road this week attending the Annual Conclave of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Pennsylvania in Cannonsburg, PA. Many of you are probably asking what exactly all the gobbledy gook means, so, let me explain!

Knights Templar is part of the York Rite of Freemasonry, which is an Appendant (or additional) body of the Fraternity. The York Rite or American Rite is one of several Rites of the worldwide fraternity known as Freemasonry. A Rite is a series of progressive degrees that are conferred by various Masonic organizations or groups, each of which operates under the control of its own central authority. The York Rite specifically is a collection of separate Masonic Bodies and associated Degrees that would otherwise operate independently. The three primary bodies in the York Rite are the Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, Council of Royal and Select Masters or Council of Cryptic Masons, and the Commandery of Knights Templar, each of which are governed independently but are all considered to be a part of the York Rite. There are also other organizations that are considered to be directly associated with the York Rite, or require York Rite membership to join such as the York Rite Sovereign College but in general the York Rite is considered to be made up of the aforementioned three. The Rite's name is derived from the city of York, where, according to a Masonic legend, the first meetings of Masons in England took place, although only the lectures of the York Rite Sovereign College make reference to that legend.

So, what about this Templar business? The Knights Templar is the final order joined in the York Rite. Unlike other Masonic bodies which only require a belief in a Supreme Being regardless of religion, membership in the Knights Templar is open only to Christian Masons who have completed their Royal Arch and in some jurisdictions their Cryptic Degrees. This body is modeled off of the historical Knights Templar in hopes to carry on the spirit of their organization. Throughout history it has been claimed that Freemasonry itself was founded by the Knights Templar or that the Knights Templar took refuge in Freemasonry after their persecution. The Grand Encampment of the United States acknowledges the existence of these theories but states that there is no proof to justify such claims.

A local Knights Templar division is called a Commandery and operates under a state level Grand Commandery as well as The Grand Encampment of the United States. This is unique among Masonic bodies as most report to the state level alone. The Knights Templar confer three orders, and one passing order as opposed to the standard degree system found elsewhere in Freemasonry:
  • The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross
  • The Order of the Knights of Malta (or simply Order of Malta)
  • The Order of the Temple
That's the quick run down on the organization. The event I'm attending this week is the equivalent of the DeMolay Annual Convention. We have meetings, hold elections, and enjoy each others company.

So, I'm going to be a busy boy for the next few days, but I'll be sure to have an update on Thursday - perhaps with a video of our State Master Councilor addressing the Grand Commandery at the banquet on Tuesday nigh

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

(Thanks to Wikipedia for the great explanation of York Rite Masonry!)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

DeMolay, Politics, and Fraternity

This week our Commonwealth held its primary elections. Most of the candidates were for local offices, with some looking to gain seats in the State courts. As I've written in previous blog posts, I'm not a huge fan of the blatant political games, but I've come to realize that politics are a necessary part of any human social interaction. Whether you think about it or not, interpersonal politics play a massive role in our everyday lives.

I'm also drawn to this subject as I have been watching Game of Thrones, the new series on HBO. I actually read all of the novels relating to this series before it came out. It is one of my all time favorite pieces of literature. While it contains a large amount of sordid material, it's the politics in the series that really draws my attention.

So, as I sat down to write a blog post of some sort, I realized that a discussion about politics might be in order. "Politics" has become a dirty word in the English language. It's come to be associated with under-handed deals, back-stabbing, in-fighting, and every other kind of maltreatment in humanity. It seemed, in my mind anyways, that the best place to start with a political discussion would be at the definition of the word. According to Google, politics is defined as:

noun (plural) /ˈpäləˌtiks/ 
politics, plural
  1. The activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, esp. the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power
    • - the president's relationship with Congress is vital to American politics
    • - thereafter he dropped out of active politics
  2. The activities of governments concerning the political relations between countries
    • - in the conduct of global politics, economic status must be backed by military capacity
  3. The academic study of government and the state
    • - a politics lecturer
  4. Activities within an organization that are aimed at improving someone's status or position and are typically considered to be devious or divisive
    • - yet another discussion of office politics and personalities
  5. A particular set of political beliefs or principles
    • - people do not buy this newspaper purely for its politics
  6. The assumptions or principles relating to or inherent in a sphere, theory, or thing, esp. when concerned with power and status in a society
    • - the politics of gender

What does that tell us? It seems that politics is generally divided into two categories - those dealing with administering and governing organizations and people or maneuvering for personal gain. I'm not going to deal with the temporal or governing ideas. Rather, I think it's important that we take a look at the idea of using politics to get ahead.

People are inherently trained to dislike the phrase "playing politics," but we all do it. It's a necessary part of life. If you didn't use politics, you'd never be a leader in any group or organization. You'd never accomplish much of anything. People get mad if they think you have used some method to get ahead of them. But, that's what this world is about. Getting ahead inherently means that you left someone behind, doesn't it? That's the nature of the beast, because we all want to get ahead. 

DeMolay is politics. I can't sugarcoat that. When you become a leader, it means you had to get elected, which means you played politics. Becoming a State Officer is a huge political game. We don't like to think of it as that, but it is. That's how elections are won and lost. However, there is a Brotherly way to go about this. Stating facts and saying what you are going to do as a leader is the right way. Slinging mud and tearing other people down is the wrong way. Learning to play the game as an upstanding citizen is the first key to the whole deal and that can take a life time by itself.

So, I encourage you - don't get angry or disheveled at the idea of politics. Learn to work within the political realm. If all else fails, remember the idiom - "Don't hate the player, hate the game."

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, May 16, 2011

Are your ears open?

Today's article is a special guest piece by Bro. Branden Glass, PMC of Lorraine Chapter located in Butler, PA.

In the Installation Service, the Installing Officer reminds the Almoner that “the cry of need is ever sounding in our ears, and to it our ears must never be closed.”  But how can we, as DeMolays, answer this call?  One way is through community service.  This sort of service does not have to be a tremendous undertaking that will singlehandedly change the world – it can be a small act of generosity that helps someone or fills a need in our schools, or our neighborhoods – or, more ambitiously, our towns or our state.

This could be helping with community cleanup, planting a tree, organizing a food drive for the local shelter, spending time with the elderly – the opportunities are pretty much endless.  In the past, my Chapter (Lorraine) has annually participated in the Salvation Army’s kettle drive. If ringing the bell isn’t your thing, try playing or singing carols; people appreciate the extra effort.  We have also helped with community dinners and community clean-up days.  No matter where your chapter is located, these sorts of opportunities are available and in need of volunteers.  So why are you still reading this article?  Get out there and help. If we don’t, then who will?

Friday, May 13, 2011

PA DeMolay Antics

I know that many of the readers of this blog are from jurisdictions other than Pennsylvania. As we talk about some of the crazy programs we do here, I'm sure alot of it is lost on the readers who really haven't experienced some of the fun we have.

Thankfully "Dad" Labagh, EO of PA DeMolay, recorded the opening session of our recent leadership weekend, called "Get Into The Game." Have a view and enjoy the craziness... perhaps you'll want to join us next year!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, May 9, 2011

200 Posts and a Picture Tour

This post is number 201 on this little blog. We've been doing this for roughly a year a half and we are still having a blast doing it. However, it's been a long weekend here at PA DeMolay thanks to a very successful "Get in to the Game" Spring Leadership Weekend. You can check out the story over at the PA DeMolay website, but for today's post I wanted to share some of the great pictures taken with you during the weekend. Enjoy!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tick... Tick... Tick... BOOM!

I'm having another writer's block day today. Failing to come up with anything new or witty to write about, I took a dive into the electronic archives to see if I could find some useful material to share with you. As usual, I found something funny yet on point.

Today's post was written by "Dad" Brent Richards and is meant to be taken lightheartedly. It tackles the issue of conflict resolution from a different angle than normal. For the sarcastically impaired:  This essay is an example of irony … saying the opposite of what you mean to make a point.  If you actually do the things suggested in this essay, you will lose most of your friends, and your Chapter may very well fall apart. Don’t say you weren’t warned! On to the article!

Imagine a calm and rational Chapter where disagreements are handled fairly and quickly, where resentment and in-fighting are not allowed to build into flaring tempers and rash words.  What fun is that?  Here’s some sure-fire ways to make sure your Chapter doesn’t get stuck in such a boring fight-free environment:

1. Don’t discuss disagreements.  Just let them simmer for months at a time.  This is particularly helpful if you assume that the other party “ought to know” how you feel.

2. When you must discuss disagreements, get personal.  Attack the other side, calling them names, if possible.
3. Portray the other person’s opinion in the worst way possible.  Your ideas aren’t “different,” they’re “right.”  Their ideas are “stupid.”  In fact, not only is the idea stupid, so is anyone who would suggest it.

4.   Never allow for middle ground.  Every problem has to end with a “my way” or “your way” solution.  There is no such thing as “our way.”

5. Raise your voice and swear a lot.  If you start getting angry, avoid taking deep breaths, or pausing to think about your words before you say them.  Say it when you think it, before you decide not to.  Some people are in the bad habit of getting out of a situation and taking time to “cool down” –if you must distance yourself, at least make a show of “walking out.”  Better yet, storm out of the room, slamming at least two doors behind you (if there is only one door, I recommend slamming it twice).

6. Take everything personally.  Everyone with a different opinion is obviously doing it just to make you mad.

7. Practice “Mind Reading” – Waiting for someone to explain their ideas is a waste of time.  You already know why they did or thought what they did, so don’t be mislead by explanations or details.  It might help to tell them you know their motives, like “We all know you’re just doing this to kiss up to the Advisors.”

8. When you can’t discuss, ridicule.  Sometimes you just won’t be able to think of a reasonable objection to the other guy’s perspective.  Don’t despair.  You can always just make fun of him.  Most people can’t tell the difference between a good argument and a good jab anyway.

9.   Interrupt whenever possible.  This keeps your opponent on their toes, makes them mad, and prevents any accidental reaching of consensus.

10. Don’t stick to the topic.  Any disagreement is a great opportunity to tell your foe everything else you don’t like about them.  See item 2.

11. Indulge in some archeology.  If the current situation doesn’t seem to be providing you with sufficient ammunition, go digging.  Bring up every past flaw or failure you can think of to make your opponent feel like dirt and look like an idiot.

12. Always disagree publicly.  Correcting a mistake or disagreement in private is far too constructive.  The middle of an open meeting, especially with important guests present, is a much better opportunity.  And, on a related note…

13. Go behind people’s backs.  There is nothing better than blindsiding your opponent… let them think you agree, but tell everyone else you don’t.  Complain to other people about them instead of discussing your concerns with them directly.  Alternately, “go over their head” to a higher authority without telling them.  Spread rumors.

14. Blame!  “This is your fault” or “If this fails, we’re gonna have you to thank” are great lines.  You can even blame somebody else for your own failures (“I wouldn’t have had to do that if you hadn’t…”) or your emotions (“You make me mad” is the correct phrase.  “I am angry right now” is not acceptable… it shows far too much willingness to accept personal responsibility).

15. Divide and Conquer.  Make every effort to get people on “your side” and to alienate people on “their side.”  Watch out for people who try not to take sides.  They are very dangerous to the cause of discord and dispute, and tend to have serious calming effects on everyone involved.

With these few simple rules, you can almost certainly prevent the outbreak of unwanted cooperation and unity in your Chapter.  If you can’t keep conflict going with these methods, then you’re obviously too stupid to be involved in a good fight, and that’s not my fault.  But call me anyway, so I can make fun of you.

So, what are you doing to help your Chapter implode? Oh, wait...

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony