Library Desk

I. R. Haomwst is an anagram with a masonic allusion.  It represents that there are no creators or founders of this group, but that it exists only because of those that attend and everyoneone’s voice is equally respected.

In January of 2012, after an event at Hawthorne-Fortitude lodge, 2 brothers were discussing how they could improve their Masonic experience with Masonic Light and discussion.  Reflecting on the lack of resources provided by their lodges to further their journey for self-improvement through Masonic education, they created a list of papers, books and other quality sources and it was agreed that a Book Club should be formed to gather like-minded members for philosophical and Masonic discussion and to start with “Laudable Pursuit” by the Knights of the North [presently The Masonic Society].

At the February DLI the brothers presented the idea which was well received and set a date based on the available nights for the district deciding on the Second Mondays of the month and Fidelity Lodge volunteered to host the program.  The experience needed to be local, open to all Master Masons, and different from LORE (New Jersey Lodge of Research and Education, the closest research lodge in Trenton NJ 80 miles away and held quarterly on Saturday mornings) and AMD (The Allied Masonic Degrees, an invitational body requiring membership in the Royal Arch) in that it would not be necessary for members to research and present formal papers, rather focus on each persons interpretation to stimulate thought and conversation.  What ensued would lead to 11 lively programs, discussions and events throughout 2012 and overwhelming feedback and support. 

The goal of the new group was simply to stimulate thought through Masonic education and provide members with the tools and resources to develop their own opinions as it applied to them today in the 21st Century among their busy lives.  The cost would be free to all members after finding a lodge to host the meeting at no charge, but to enhance the experience, it was suggested that $10 per person to provide a catered meal and drinks for a festive board style gathering.  The organizers moderated the discussion to make sure that every opinion presented was respected and a lively debate was promoted and moved along to allow time to cover all concepts presented in the paper.

At first all members of the lodges in the district were invited by email and personal visitations to lodges to promote the event, provide a hard copy of the paper, and all were encouraged to invite Master Masons in good standing.  The invitation was also forwarded to the state yahoo group, state AMD council yahoo group and personal contacts.  This new group discussed inviting brothers of the lower degrees to participate, however, it was decided that it might limit discussion if ideas were presented on the higher degrees, and to allow for critical thought without fear of discouraging new masons.

It was inspiring to see how the ideas presented in the paper were interpreted differently by almost everyone in the room as soon as we began our first discussion.  One person would pick a passage and give their interpretation and the next would add or offer a different perspective that stimulated further discussion.  After two hours it was decided that because of the positive energy created and the fact that we had only covered half the paper, that another meeting to finish the discussion would have to be planned for the next month as opposed to the bi-monthly schedule that was presented and guidelines should be established for future discussions similar to discussion during a lodge meeting. 

* It is important to note that this is not a lodge event, though it was hosted at the lodge, it was created by members to foster unity and generate a larger forum than that of one lodge alone.  Much of the credit should be attributed to Hawthorne-Fortitude lodge and its members who had the strongest support and showing of members at each discussion.  It also could not have been successful without the support of the District Deputy Grand Master, RW J. Douglas Dampman and the District Ritual Instructor, RW J. Eugene Margroff who supported the idea.

We learned that to promote free thought and expression of ideas, members needed to feel empowered to express themselves without fear of recourse while keeping their passions within due bounds.  Not surprisingly, the group’s passions never suffered them to cross that boundary represented by the point within a circle.

After each meeting, a brief period of reflection was entertained to seek feedback to improve the forum and to compile a list of books, papers and ideas for future discussion, to be shared as a resource to all Masons.  This prompted the idea of creating a district website which would host a page for the Book Club and provide a “members only” section with this compilation and downloadable links to the papers covered and suggested readings.  (www.2ndMasonicDistrictNJ.org – still under construction)