Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Few Words About The National Anthem . . .

I originally posted this on 3/19/12, and considering it doesn't have anything to do with Freemasonry, it got a lot of attention.  I believe a lot of Americans feel this way. 
The author of this piece is unknown, but I saw it in the most recent newsletter of the Missouri Lodge of Research.  I couldn't agree more with the piece, and since I know many Americans feel the same way, I thought I'd share it.  It goes like this:

The National Anthem: A Brief Editorial
So, with all the kindness I can muster, I give this one piece of advice to the next pop star who is asked to sing the National Anthem at a sporting event: save the vocal gymnastics and the physical gyrations for your concerts.  Just sing this the way you were taught to sing it in kindergarten straight up, no styling.  Sing it with the constant awareness that there are Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines watching you from bases and outposts all over the world.  Don't make them cringe with your self-centered ego gratification.  Sing it as if you are standing before a row of 86-year-old WWII vets wearing their Purple Hearts, Silver Stars and US Flag pins on their cardigans and you want them to be proud of you for honoring them and the country they love, not because you want them to think you are a superstar musician.  They could see that from the costumes, the makeup and the entourage.  Sing the Star Spangled Banner with the courtesy and humility that tells the audience that it is about America--not you!

~Author Unknown

I couldn't have put it any better myself, however, there is just one thing I would add . . .learn the words!

~TEC

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

John Wayne On Being Bullied

originally posted 12/18/12
“I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them."

~John Wayne from The Shootist
Marion McDaniel Lodge No. 56
Tuscon, Arizona

It's hard to believe, but even "The Duke" was razzed and picked on by bullies on the playground.  It wasn't easy growing up with the name Marion.  "Defending that first name taught me to fight at an early age," John Wayne once remarked.

He earned his nickname when his family moved to California in 1911.  His constant companion was the family Airedale, and the local fireman, who watched him pass the firehouse each day, began calling the dog "Big Duke" and the boy "Little Duke."  The name stuck.  When he showed up at the firehouse one day with a black eye and a split lip, one of the firefighters, an ex-boxer, began teaching Little Duke to defend himself.  It wasn't long before the bullying stopped.  "I really looked up to those guys. They were heroes in my book," John Wayne remembered.

Big Duke & Little Duke


We live in a world today that spends a lot of time talking about bullying, and trying to eliminate it from schools and playgrounds--but it's always going to be a fact of life.  There's always going to be that overly assertive person trying to punch your buttons--and sometimes pacifism isn't the answer.  It's important not only to teach our kids not to be bullies, but also how to stand up for themselves when it inevitably happens.

Some people my age and older have a different view of the problem  Many of us had that one defining moment back in school when they finally got tired of dealing with a bully, and turned on them.  I had this conversation with a few of my old friends.  Each had a moment like that, they still remember the bully's name, and remember the look on the bully's face when they finally got fed up and confronted them.  They remember it as an defining moment in their life--the moment they stopped being the victim.  When they realized the pain of a black eye hurts a lot less than living their life in fear.

And it doesn't just happen to kids--there are grown-up bullies as well.  Most of us know one.  Most who had that defining moment in youth know how to deal with people like that--those who didn't wind up being pushed around by them even as adults.

Kids learn a lot on the playground--not all of it is pleasant.  By removing adversity, are we making our kids stronger, or weaker? 

~TEC

Todd E. Creason is an author and novelist whose work includes the award-winning non-fiction historical series Famous American Freemasons and the novels One Last Shot (2011) and A Shot After Midnight (2012). He's currently working on the third novel Shot to Hell which will be released in Spring 2014

Sunday, October 19, 2014

It's Good To Be Back!

Seriously . . . are we sure we want him back?
A week ago I announced this blog was going back to the topic of Freemasonry.  As I said, nothing I'd done on here for the last year or so had worked very well when I wasn't writing about Masonic topics.  Well, it didn't take long for the readership to return when I went back to talking about Freemasonry!  It's like the readers where leaning back waiting for me to get back on topic.  Thanks for all the hits, the comments, the links and reposts, and the emails.  I appreciate that a great deal.  It's good to be back!

As not to compete with my Brothers over at the Midnight Freemasons, my plan is to post on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and either Saturday or Sunday (whichever I find works best).  The Midnight Freemasons post on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  So readers interested in Freemasonry will have their whole week covered now between the two blogs.  As the founder of the Midnight Freemasons, and a regular contributor, I'm going to post my lighter pieces on here, and reserve the pieces with a little more meat on them for the Midnight Freemasons blog.  So think of the From Labor To Refreshment blog as "Freemasonry Lite." 

I seem to be off to a pretty good start finding things that work well for me--I haven't had numbers like I've had on here this week since I made the change.  I'll probably continue to repost some old pieces that newer readers probably haven't seen before, find some good humor to share with you, and I'm thinking about running a series--possibly one on Masonic collectibles (always a popular topic).

As always, if you have questions, suggestions, or something to add--always feel free to comment, or contact me in person at webmaster@toddcreason.org

Thanks again.

Sincerely and Fraternally,

Todd E. Creason

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Award Winning" Advice For Lodge Secretaries

Todd E. Creason, Secretary of Ogden Lodge No. 754
I originally published this on the Midnight Freemasons blog about a year ago.  It was just a few things I've learned as the Secretary of Ogden Lodge No. 754.  I guess it was pretty good advice.  Last week, I was honored by the Illinois Masonic Secretaries Association with the 2014 Secretary of the Year Award.  So here's that advice again--and this time I can boast that this is without question "award-winning advice."  ~TEC

I'm beginning my third year as Secretary of my lodge, and I'd have to admit, I'm just getting the hang of it. I've been a manager for nearly twenty-five years in my professional life, but believe me, the learning curve of a Lodge Secretary is pretty steep. It's not an easy job, but it's a very important job. Before you accept it, you better think about. Unlike any other chair in the lodge, a Lodge Secretary often sits behind that desk year after year after year. Masters serve limited terms, and part of the role of the Secretary is to maintain consistency in the lodge as the Masters come and go.

There's a lot of work involved, and a lot of rules to learn. Don't expect much credit, in fact, you'll need thick skin to survive behind that desk. I wrote a little job description for the Lodge Secretary recently which I shared with our current Master--he likes to repeat it often. It goes like this:

"Everything that goes right in the Lodge is to the credit of the Master. Everything that goes wrong in the Lodge is the fault of the Secretary."

It's only funny because it's true. So I thought I'd put together a short list of tips for new Secretaries made by one that has made most of these mistakes already.

1.) The best thing you could begin doing from day one is to start reading and understanding the Constitution and By-laws of your Grand Lodge. It falls on you to know them. Your Master is going to be relying on you to make sure the lodge is doing things the right way. And at times, it will make you unpopular, because the Master or the Brethren are going to want to do something, and it will be you telling them it's either against the rules, or there is a process involved that is going to require more effort than they expected. My Grand Lodge's Constitution and By-laws is published in a 200-page book, and 174 pages are the Constitution and By-laws. I can't claim to know them all at this point, but I certainly know a lot more than I did two years ago, and I certainly know where to look when a question of procedure or policy comes up.

2.) Attend your Grand Lodge Meeting every year. It's your job to keep up with what's going on at the Grand Lodge, and to know when by-laws change, and when new programs are offered. And read all the information you receive from your Grand Secretary carefully, and be sure you pass on information that the Brethren need to know.

3.) Make the job your own. I was fortunate to follow one of the best Secretaries in my district. He'd been in that job about fifteen years, and helped me out a lot in the beginning--but we had very different styles of management and organization. I struggled in the beginning, and it wasn't until I made it my job, organized it my own way, and did the job my own way that I began to be comfortable in the role. And as the Brethren in my lodge will tell you, I'm a very different kind of Secretary than my predecessor was.

4.) Take care of the Master. Help him in the beginning to understand the more technical side of his new position. Let him know what you need for him to do, like sign the meeting minutes each month for instance, and find out what he expects of you (and that's going to change with every Master, so you better be flexible). And help him run his meeting without overstepping your role. Over time, too many Secretaries begin to think they run the lodge--you don't. Don't confuse experience with leadership. The Master runs his Lodge--and you need to view your role as his assistant, and his most trusted advisor.

5.) Don't guess. If you're not sure of something, pick up the phone and call your Grand Secretary's Office and find out for sure. You'll save yourself a lot of time, effort and frustration if you do that. My Grand Secretary's Office has been a huge resource for me. They have all kinds of materials and information that have helped me understand many of the aspects of my job, and they've been very patient in helpful in getting me to the point where I know what I'm doing finally. So when you get behind that desk, think of your Grand Secretary's Office as a resource.
Todd E. Creason receiving the 2014 Illinois Secretary of the Year Award in Springfield, IL
It's not an easy job, but it can be very gratifying when you do it well. And you'll know you're doing well when the members start relying on you because they know you're organized, and good at what you do (although few will actually understand what it is you do). You'll know you're doing well when your Master feels comfortable asking you for guidance. You'll know you're doing well when a committee chair comes up to you and asks you for advice on how to organize a project they are working on. Those are the moments Secretaries live for.

~TEC
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