[Square & Compasses]    

Letter of the month: November 2007

From: "Carl Peterson" <cfpeterson@Joa.com>
To: A Page About Freemasonry <masonry-ask@MIT.EDU>
Date: Thu 01 Nov 2007 09:36:36 AM EDT
Subject: Re: Masonry Question

Bro. Dryfoos,

Is there a proper hand and finger to wear the Masonic ring on? I hear conflicting things and can't figure it out.

Bro. Carl Peterson
Sheboygan Lodge #11

dear Bro. Carl,

I've never heard a convincing or intelligent reason for any hand or finger over another. Lots of made-up guesses, and maybe some particular lodge has a fixed custom dating back many years, but mostly it's just "my uncle told me that his friend said that this guy used to say..."

Likewise with customs about which way the ring should face.

Do what works for you. For instance, I have a Masonic ring that I wear as a pinkie ring only because I inherited it, and it's too small for any other fingers.

Do what you like. Oh, one thing though: if you decide to wear the ring on your middle finger, it's probably not very Masonic to show off the ring by giving people "the finger" :-) But other than that, do what you prefer.

-- Gary L. Dryfoos
   A Page About Freemasonry
   now at http://MasonryPage.org/

Subject: RE: Masonry Question
Date: Tue, 6 Nov 2007 09:42:48 -0600
Message-ID: <8EB48AB632D5AE40AB551CC9B85B0A99E24978@sfa-000-m-03.joa.local>
From: <cfpeterson@Joa.com>
To: <masonry-ask@MIT.EDU>

Bro. Dryfoos,

I have another question, if you have the time.

Following the degree ceremonies at our lodge the initiate is told it is customary for them to say a few words and asked if they wish to do so. For the most part the men decline or just thank those present for their warm welcome and support.

Is there a certain custom, etiquette, or interesting history for the speech at this point?

Bro. Carl Peterson
Sheboygan Lodge #11
F&AM of Wisconsin

Date: Wed, 07 Nov 2007 14:19:24 -0500
From: A Page About Freemasonry <masonry-ask@mit.edu>
To: cfpeterson@Joa.com
Subject: RE: Masonry Question

It's a nice custom. I don't know if I've seen it before, so it might just be something in your lodge, but I like it and will keep it in mind. One thing, though — most people these days are really ignorant, inexperienced, and shy about public speaking. It isn't something folks get taught or get to practice much. The lodge, of course, is a great place to help people start to work on those skills.

In this case, you have most of the new initiates are getting caught unprepared, and unable to think of anything to say on the spur of the moment. So your excellent lodge custom needs one minor adjustment, I think. The candidate's instructor should tell him, ahead of time, that he will be asked to say a few words after the ceremonies.

In fact, that is something that he should be reminded of at least two or three times — once when he meets his candidate instructor for the first time, again later on a few weeks later, and finally at their last practice/rehearsal before the degree. Not told in a way to put him on the spot, but in a way to encourage to think about the lodge and his experiences so far, and the things he has learned, and to consider if there's anything in all that he could say a few words about. Probably, with gentle reminders and some easy suggestions, most people should be able to think of a little something to say.

(If you ask around in your lodge, you might even discover that one of the brothers is, or was, a member of The Toastmasters, an organization that helps people learn public speaking, and there might be more of your lodge brothers who'd be interested in developing that skill.)

I don't know if outside of your own lodge there's any history or etiquette to these short speeches, but with the right encouragement to the candidates from their instructors, you could begin to create a new historical custom for the future brethren there.

fraternal regards,

-- Gary


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