Installation Inaugural Address to Internet Lodge 9659
17th March 2001 by WBro Peter F. Lanes, Worshipful Master
There are many definitions for the word "charity":
- Provision of help or relief to the poor; almsgiving.
- Something given to help the needy; alms.
- An institution or organization or a fund established to help the needy.
- Benevolence or generosity toward others or toward humanity.
- Indulgence or forbearance in judging others.
We only think of about the first three of them and we seem to forget the remainder and it is so important that those remaining definitions be inculcated in us, that in nearly every United States Grand Lodge ceremony with candidates those words are especially emphasized, just as they were when I took my degrees. These are the words for charity. If we go by the dictionary for charity we can take it very simply. Charity is the provision of help or relief to the poor or arms giving and we are well aware of that and we do very well in this Lodge. Charity is also something given to help the needy; alms. Charity is also an institution or an organisation or fund established to help the needy. But, the other definitions which are often overlooked, far too often overlooked, are that charity is benevolence or generosity towards others towards humanity as a whole and the fifth definition of charity which was inculcated in me very strongly during my degrees, was that charity is indulgence or forbearance in judging others.
You know, it is so easy just to say we will put some money in a collection bag and some people might say "buy off" our obligation and we seem to forget that charity has a deeper meaning. If one looks in the printed Officers' Manuals currently for both the California Grand Lodge and the Florida Grand Lodge where I reside, charity takes an unprecedented emphasis right up front with the candidate on the very familiar words, as the Chaplain slowly intones these familiar words:
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling symbol.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profited me nothing.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not, charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in inequity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity these three; but the greatest of these is charity."
Brethren, that was intoned on my ears by the Chaplain of my Mother Lodge and on every other candidate and it is in the written manual as public information. But I have, perhaps unique to me and I don't expect it of others, a rather unique aspect on the human condition, especially when a person in his zeal to make something happen strives too hard and falls, we think of a very typical example of the Olympics perhaps and a sprinter who is in the starting blocks ready to charge ahead and is leaning forward and has an extra zeal to really win that championship and he leans a little too far forward and at the starting gun goes sprawling on his face, because he tried a little too hard and what does our society do? The newspapers, the television, we all tend to look at his fall and before we know it we are talking about his lack of preparation, ignoring his zeal to succeed. Before we know it, the press and other news organisations will go yet one stage further and start talking about that sprinter's personality, instead of looking at what he was trying to accomplish and happened to trip because he tried too hard. To me, Brethren, charity means benevolence or charity in judging others. I do not fully understand the reason for the petulant criticism we have seen of late. I believe in my own opinion, petulant criticism has something to do with the criticizer's social impotence versus his social importance. Too often we will see a person creating his social importance through petulant and unqualified criticism of others. From my point of view, Brethren, in my nearly 50 years of Masonry and my 41 years as a Past Master, to my mind when any person or any Brother, but any person who is trying should trip and fall I would like to reach forward and help lift him up to his feet. I would like to help him restore himself to a semblance of order and help eliminate his embarrassment. I would not or would not want to spend that energy castigating him in public or saying what was wrong or what he should not do.
My goal this year, as those of you who have read my manifesto have seen when it was first put out or since, is to try and pull this Lodge closer, even closer together, to help it step upwards to its yet to be fully recognised level of sublime uniqueness. Our software, our list, our Internet communications are a tool which is unique to us and is a tool, I think, of which we can make much better use.
You know, Brethren, there is a word for recreation: Recreation - we take time out, we go somewhere, we do something different because with recreation we recreate ourselves ready to return to the task. I believe that with your help this year I may help to use recreation for the Lodge by recreation to an ever higher level of communication, of mental stimulation and through change. One definition of insanity is "doing the same old thing but expecting different results", so we are doing a few different things. As this new Masonic Lodge year begins here for the Internet Lodge, I invite you to join with me as a team, and I have what I call the Five Points of Initiative for my year. These had to be worked on before the year, not started when I was installed in the East.
The first and most important aspect of my Five Points of Initiative are the Meeters and Greeters which will enable us with our members who visit us from far shores for the first time, to feel comfortable with our customs and rituals, to be introduced and not feel like strangers and to enhance our relationships. There are no strangers in Masonry but the person arriving seems sometimes to take a little time to settle down and the Meeters and Greeters are there to build up that relationship with somebody visiting also to help the Junior Warden with the proving of visitors.
The second point of the Five Points of Initiative, which have been listed on the Internet I will agree, are what I call the Overseas Social Ambassadors because, unique from most Lodges, this lodge has Brethren around the world. We have Brethren applying for membership and during the waiting period once we know they are regular Masons are without contact until they are voted on in Lodge. So the Overseas Ambassadors will be reaching from Turkey from Italy and from Virginia and there will be more Ambassadors to maintain contact with Brothers until they are voted in the Lodge so they do not feel left out.
The Third Point of Initiative is our new Social Page, which many of you have seen already today to come here, to enhance our relationships, let you know what is happening, where do we go, what is happening, what are the alternatives, what about the maps? They are all going to be on the Social Page to enhance our experience in Internet Lodge. Then also, our new social page produces a mathematical tool which is badly needed. It is impossible to predict how many Brothers will attend a given event and yet we have fixed expenses for hall rental and other expenses, so how much should be charged per Brother to meet those expenses? If we had 5,000 Brothers attending, the expense could be very small. If we had only 10, the expense would be very high and yet we need to know how much should be charged for meals and other things we do. So Brethren, with our social page and your opportunity to put down your intent to attend, we have a tool at last to be able to make very accurate predications of what the fee should be, at least for the Festive Board.
Now Brethren, many people will say that this is nothing but human relations, public relations, relations between Brothers that we are trying to enhance? Yes indeed it is! But there is something more: I am providing some depth with the Fourth Initiative, which is the Library Project to give us some quality in depth eventually to be known by all Lodges - - - with the Library. We have, I think, 17 pages already established and logged in. This will grow, I am told by quite a great rate. This provides quality to our web site.
The fifth and final point of initiative for my year is the Worshipful Master's designated charity, AbilityNet. AbilityNet actually follows on in the same vein as the charities of previous years and is an organisation, specifically, which adapts computers to the skills of the handicapped and injured. Brings the handicapped and injured into the Internet world. The Designated Charity then is AbilityNet.
Brethren I invite you to join me this year in a new joy that I have found in celebrating charity in Masonry: Benevolence, understanding the other person's point of view before we jump and where we could be a community of diverse opinions and socially respect each other.
And now abideth faith, brethren; faith, hope and charity, these three but the greatest of these is charity.