Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ethan Allen

When I was in school, I learned that Ethan Allen was a military leader, and that's about all.  This clip shows a different side of the man, and tells a lot about how influential the thinking of the enlightenment was in America during the 18th Century.

from:  Reason, The Only Oracle of Man

Allan believed that the universe was created by God, but beyond that there was little that could be known about the nature of God except what could be learned through the study of the natural world through science.
“In the circle of my acquaintance, (which has not been small,a) I have generally been denominated a Deist, the reality of which I never disputed, being conscious I an no Christian, except mere infant baptism make me one;.”
“The desire of knowledge has engaged the attention of the wise and curious among mankind in all ages which has been productive of extending the arts and sciences far and wide in the several quarters of the globe, and excited the contemplative to explore nature’s laws in a gradual series of improvement, until philosophy, astronomy, geography, and history, with many other branches of science, have arrived to a great degree of perfection.”
“An unjust composition never fails to contain error and falsehood. Therefore an unjust connection of ideas is not derived from nature, but from the imperfect composition of mind-. Disconnection of ideas is the same as misjudging, and has no positive existence, being merely a creature of the imagination; but nature and truth are real and uniform; and the rational mind by reasoning, discerns the uniformity, and is thereby enabled to make a just composition of ideas, which will stand the test of truth. But the fantastical illuminations of the credulous and superstitious part of mankind, proceed from weakness, and as far as they take place in the world subvert the religion of Reason, NATURE and TRUTH..”,

- Reason: The Only Oracle of Man

Guam Visit



I have been trying out a new composing program for my blog, and the last two posts I thought I had made, were not just lost, but messed up the whole layout of my blog. I apologize to any who have come looking for the information I thought was here.

I will be trying to clear up the mess today, and try to recreate the missing posts.

Steve Brettell

Guam Visit

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ethan Allen, Reason, the Only Oracle of Man

I ran across an interesting bit of information about Ethan Allen, commander of the Green Mountain Boys. We only read of him as a battle leader, not as a philosopher. This bit reveals a lot about

the spirit of the enlightenment in early America.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Streamer Tips I Couldn't Figger Out on My Own And also a Moral

This is an American Beauty Streamer

Made of feathers and bucktail, with Jungle Cock cheeks, a tinsel body, and a red hackle beard. This type of streamer imitates bait fish, and catches big aggresive trout, pike and bass.

The tip I got the other day can be translated to a lot of flies, such as Lefty's Deceiver All of these hackle type flies require the pairing of feathers evenly on either side of the hook.

Select matching feathers that curve in opposite directions when laid out on the table. They should be just a bit longer than the hook shank.

Select a couple of duck flank feathers to make the cheeks, and a couple of jungle cock feathers, or stick on eyes

Here's where the fun part comes in: glue the feathers into individual stacks using super glue, and allow to dry. After this, tying them on the hook is easy as pie.

Apply the tinsel and any ribbing you choose on the hook.

Place one feather bundle on either side of the hook, about one eye distance away from the eye.

Tie in some red hackle barbs as a beard; and form a good smooth head and apply varnish. Red hackle beards resemble gills, and seem to work better than other colors.

These streamers can be tied in any size from a size 12 to a 2/0. They catch fish, are pretty, and fun to tie.

Attractors and imitators fill our lives. We are attracted to people and organizations because of what we believe we can gain from them. We are erotic beings. Eros is love for that from which we can derive benefit. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.

We are often attracted to imitators rather than the real thing. Imitations often are flashier and more alluring than the real thing. Substance lasts; imitations pass away quickly. Look for substance in associates as well as things.

We often want to have, and want people to see that we have, and too often don't care how we get it. We cheat on exams, we break speeding laws, we tell white and other lies when we feel cornered. In extreme cases we break serious laws; attack our fellows and take what they have gotten.

Bro. Theodore Roosevelt said that it is perfectly correct for the rich to have a mansion and a yacht, and a big car. To have a fur coat and nice shoes. But it isn't all right for the rich to have two, three or four mansions, cars, yachts, coats and pairs of shoes when their fellows have none. When those duplicates are acquired by less than ethical means.

We should give thanks for what we have; we should strive for more; we must use our increase to benefit our brothers and sisters.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fly Fishing for Dinosaurs

The Washington Times has published an article about a different thing to be on the lookout for when fishing in the D.C. Area. Giant man-eating dinosaurs!!! Or at least their tracks.

Dinosaur tracker unearths big surprises
By Sarah Karush
January 14, 2008

In the past thirteen years, Ray Stanford has amassed an unprecedented collection of 112-year-old footprints, like the one from a sauropod (above) that once roamed what is now Maryland. (Associated Press)


Ray Stanford pulls into the lot of a fast-food restaurant in College Park and parks at the back. Wearing high rubber boots and carrying a backpack, he makes his way through the brush and down to a stream bank littered with cups and wrappers.

He has come to track dinosaurs.

For the full article go to The Washington TimesThe Washigton Times

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bro. Gerry Ford

President Gerald Ford could be considered my brother on more than one front. We didn't share much in the way of political beliefs, but we shared much in the way of philosophical ones. Just the method of application was ascew. Gerald Ford and I were both Eagle Scouts, and we were both Freemasons. This is a video of a newsconfrence covering a memorial service for President Ford by the Grand Lodge of Washington D.C. It pretty much speaks for itself. It does show our unity in diversity pretty well.

Find more videos like this on The Working Tools Magazine

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Bit on Symbolism

Freemasonry is full of symbols. In many of our lodges some of the symbolic items are not emphasised the way they once were. an example of this is the Tracing Board, which used to be shown in most lodges. It was decended from the planning board upon which the Master of Works on a building project would trace out the days work. What would be blue prints today.

In symbolic Masonry, they present a plan for life, and usually are specific to a particular degree or activity. To the right is a modern example. I will not go into the symbolism at this time.
I had an American Lit. Prof. who insisted that when we read, we should "think fat." That most of us "think thin." What he meant is to try to see the broadest possible interpretation of the words, music or picture that we are presented with. This is in keeping with the meaning of LOGOS, the Greek word for word.
LOGOSis the word used in the Gospel of John, where it is said, "In the begining was the Word." It carries a very broad meaning, including all of the meanings of all of the people who have used the word throughout time. For example, what can water stand for? Water will drown you, so it's death; you can't live without water, so it's life; water is changable; water is bright; water is dark; water flows and yields; water disolves everything; water destroys and builds.
Perhaps it's the technological nature of our society that induces us to want precise meanings. This hasn't always been the case. English is a particularly rich language with more words than any other European language, and more ambiguity in its grammar than most.
One problem with English is that its grammar comes from trying to shoe-horn Latin grammar into it. It makes it full of holes, but those holes can be filled with meaning if we "Think Fat."
The same can be said for pictures. They are rich in both specific and implicit meanings. A good example is Breugel's painting of The Kermesse, which shows a party on the feast of St. George

If you look at the painting, there are circles inside circles throughout the picture. The people aren't just dancing, they are engaged in all of the activities of life, not just play, but eating, working, dancing, having sex, drinking and cooking. The houses and dishes are shown. The costumes are detailed. The faces are round, the dancing is in circles, the plates are round, and the openings on the wagon are round. Notice the illustration on the banner. Doesn't it look much like a tracing board? What do we know about circles?
What I'm saying is that the picture is ripe with symbols. People in the days that our fraternity was born were excited by symbols. In a semi-literate society they conveyed meaning beyond the obvious; to the literate they recalled leassons read; to a society with secrets they sent messages to those in the know.

Fear and Trembling


Soren Kierkegaard in his work, Fear and Trembling, the Sickness Unto Death," speaks of the existential anxiety engendered by change.  In his more extensive work on Anxiety, he said:

“However, in regard to all this, one has to wait for the appearance of individuals who, despite outward gifts, do not choose the broad way but rather the pain, the distress, and the anxiety in which they religiously call to mind what meanwhile they lose, as it were, namely, what is too seductive to possess. Such a struggle is indubitably very exhausting, because there will come moments when they almost regret having begun it and recall with melancholy, at times possibly unto despair, the smiling life that would have opened before them had they pursued the immediate inclination of their talent. Nevertheless, in the extreme terror of distress, when it is as though all were lost because the way along which he would advance is impassible, and the smiling way of talent is cut off from him by his own act, the person who is aware will indubitably hear a voice saying: Well done, my son! Just keep on, for he who loses all, gains all.”

Those who move into and through this fear and anxiety gains all.  We have experienced crisis and fear forever.  The twentieth century seems to have carried more than its share.  The twenty first looks like it will have its own load.  Al Gore, in The Attack on Reason, says that this emphasis on crisis makes us more controllable.  Our division into class, race, religion or region is driven by this fear and trembling.  Keep us worried and we'll be easily guided. 
Mr. Gore says that education which encourages reason is the answer to this anxiety.  This is how we can move into and through the fear.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Good New Film

The Freemasons of Indiana have put out a good film about the Craft. It can be found at:

The Tao of Masonry: Jim is In!

The Tao of Masonry: Jim is In!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

HAPPY 2008


What This Blog is About

This blog is the thoughts of a Freemason. It's not affiliated with any Masonic body, and doesn't speak for Freemasonry in any sense of the word. My purpose is to raise questions, not dictate answers. If you read this blog, please comment; please subscribe, so we can look for answers to these questions together.