Should Codebooks Be Allowed

Discussion in 'The Voting Booth' started by Blake Bowden, Sep 19, 2008.


Should Codebooks Be Allowed

  1. Yes

    51 vote(s)
  2. No

    21 vote(s)
  1. scottmh59

    scottmh59 Registered User

    dont have an opinon one way or the other...!
  2. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

    They can run for as many terms as they wish.

    Yes, & we will have that happen this year. R:.W:. Bill Sessums, Sr. of Houston, who is finishing his first term on the Committee, is being challenged by Duane Anthony, a DI from the Beaumont area.
  3. Gerald.Harris

    Gerald.Harris Premium Member Premium Member

    Any member of COW can run again after 5 years, and any brother who fills the requirements, may run against the incumbent. This very scenerio is playing out this year as RW Sessums is making himself available again as an incumbent, and Brother D. Anthony is making himself available as well.
  4. rhitland

    rhitland Founding Member Premium Member

    How long have the current members of COW been on the committee particularly RW Sessums?
  5. Gerald.Harris

    Gerald.Harris Premium Member Premium Member

    Brother Sessums has just completed his 5th year of his first term, and most of the others have served multiple terms. All of their terms end on staggered years so that we should never have to vote on more then one position during any GL session.
  6. Dredd17

    Dredd17 Registered User

    I believe yes and no lol. I think for the initial learning of the work is should not be used. I like the concept of masonic tradition of the training being passed from word of mouth to ear. As far as we know, that is our roots in Masonry. I feel a big part of the masonic passage is learning the work just like our forefathers did. Because I learned it that way, the experience was more special to me and I had a feeling of great accomplishment. Now with that being said, once the work is learned and time goes on, unless your are very active in the ritual and training in your lodge, you will get rusty. I think the cypher books are a good tool to help those that have already put the time and work in to be able to refresh.
  7. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

    I'm beginning to question my own stance on this issue. Tuesday evening I was visiting with a Brother (who will remain unnamed) from a Lodge in Central Texas (which will also remain unnamed) who told me that he was using the book in the presence of the EA to whom he is currently teaching the work. When I advised him that such was not allowed, he became defensive and asked "Well, how am I supposed to teach him, then?" and stated that the Secretary of his Lodge told him that it would be OK. How are we supposed to to deal with those Brethren who will not read or follow the Law?
  8. HKTidwell

    HKTidwell Premium Member

    One of the people who taught me a couple of times used one. He was available a couple of times when I needed help and used one. Not saying it is right or wrong, considering Grand Lodge has made this determination but it does occur. I was appreciative for him helping but it was also a pain in the sense of him trying to make the right determination out of what the book was saying.

    If you do not know the work, then the code book can still be very inaccurate. I was blessed with many good brothers who helped me during my time of learning and I was thankful to all who helped me.
  9. z28_1969

    z28_1969 Registered User

    hi brothers. first post here but i've been looking through the forum for a little while. as far as whether or not a cipher should be allowed here in texas, i am for it to a point. i guess you could say i've seen both sides of the coin since i was born in indiana and have many good friends in a lodge up there (where they have allowed code books as long as i can remember) and my grandfather and other family are masons in tennessee where ciphers still aren't allowed. for all of the men that owned code books in indiana, i have never known one to use them as a means of learning the memory work. in fact, when i was first petitioning and joining, they all expressed how important the experience of learning in the lodge was to them and simply used the books as refreshers. on the other hand, i do understand why many brothers would be concerned that allowing the books might end up pushing new masons away from going to their lodges frequently and learning the material from more experienced brothers. while the new masons might have the best intentions and may end up turning to the books simply because they're excited about progressing through the degrees and learning as much as possible as quickly as possible, the time spent learning the material is also time spent becoming more closely acquainted with the brothers at your lodge (and where else would you learn the lessons between the lines that aren't included in the books?). all that being said, i've also see how code books make it easier for masons to transfer from one state to another. my father, having learned all of his degrees in indiana, was preparing to make the big switch over to a lodge in texas when i was about to petition and could have used a code book to work his way around some of the smaller differences between states, making the transition easier for him, had he been able to go through the process with me. (he made his trip up to the great architect just before i petitioned)
    sorry for the longwinded post. just thought i'd give my two cents. :)
  10. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

    great post. along with the guys that talk about lodges without certified ritualists, this drives home the point of why codebooks are around and need to be.

    sure, we have lodges like mine where you're the odd man out if you don't at least have an A certificate (almost, lol), but for other lodges, the demands of GL weren't meeting the needs of the lodges. as with anything like this, it's GL that needs to change, not the constituents.

    oddly enough, this whole issue reminds me of the Catholic church and it's stance on genetically modified foods that was turned over a few years back.
  11. MGM357

    MGM357 Registered User

    York Rite has the rituals that have all of the work printed, some of it is in code. Everyone I've talked to says that the rituals are the biggest crutch to get over. I know I have a harder time learning just reading the rituals. If I hear the work, I tend to remember it better. I hope I never see the day when we are reading from books while opening or closing a blue lodge. At the present time in our C&C, we highly frown on reading from our rituals. We have one person prompting. Our goal is to learn opening and closing and try to start learning degree work, so we don't have to make someone wait until a festival comes around.
  12. TexMass

    TexMass Registered User

    I learned the EA mouth to ear. After my proficiency my mentor gave me a code book and told me to start studying for the FC. He worked with me 2-3 nights a week. I told him I couldn't read it but he said since I knew the first degree then I can decipher the next section. It actually helped me learn it better. When we would meet for the next degree work I was not allowed to bring my book. I think it's a good tool and keeps the ritual the same. I had been to other lodges who always had several words different than the normal ritual because "that's the way their lodge does it".
  13. Raven

    Raven Registered User

    Greetings, Brethren!
    I'm new to the boards but would like to offer my 2 cents on this topic. I was raised in a lodge located in the north Houston area only 10 years ago.
    The brothers were family to me and would do whatever possible to assist me in learning my esoteric work. We had study sessions on tuesday and thursday nights and I would attend most of those nights eagerly. The brother that was unofficially assigned to teach me would on occaision say "Let's take a smoke or coffee break"). Unbeknownst to me, my instructor was consulting other brothers or even go to his car to consult a code book if no one else was available. We were well into my studies in the Fellowcraft degree, (when after a discussion between the officers), that my instructor indicated that there might be some help for me to brush up on what I had been taught up to that point. This was my first knowledge of anything written pertaining to the esoteric work. I was told not to try reading ahead of my instructions that I would only confuse myself... (I tried to read ahead and I became very confused). My instructor could see that I was adding words that did not belong and was told to stop immediately! I finally became acceptably proficient and progressed through the Master Mason's degree. I have since instructed and and assisted numerous "New Brothers" in their esoteric work. I would never take it upon myself to offer a code book to anyone or even bring it to the lodge, period. I do not condone open use of a code book but I see no harm in owning and using one with much discression to simply refresh a master mason's memory.
    Thanks for listening to "My 2 Cents Worth"
    Peace and Harmony to all, Brethren!
  14. Papatom

    Papatom Premium Member Premium Member

    True words of wisdom.
  15. Bigmel

    Bigmel Premium Member Premium Member

    I ran across this on the net. Pennsylvania Grand Lodge is trying to control the Their Ritual Book

    Members May Learn Our Ritual From Printed Manuals That Will Be Monitored Closely And Never Used in Open Lodge

    Now, for the first time, there is an absolute printed version of our ritual of the three degrees, so that never again will there be any question among our brethren as to the official authorized work. The ritual manuals will provide more brethren the opportunity to learn about and memorize our beautiful Pennsylvania Masonic ritual. A brother now may, in his spare time, work on the memorization of the ritual without having to make an appointment with another brother.
    If we truly believe in our professed Masonic values of loving our wives, our children, our family, our community, our country, and also keeping a good occupational work ethic, then we need to make it more convenient for a brother to learn our ritual without neglecting the aforementioned entities. A printed manual will require less time away from families by allowing our brethren to learn our beautiful ritual during their own precious free time instead of insisting that it be memorized by word of mouth.
    The ritual manual will be controlled by the Worshipful Master of the lodge, and he will be responsible for signing in and signing out the manuals to ensure an absolute audit of each manual. When signing out a manual, a brother will sign an agreement, on his Masonic word, that he will not permit photocopying or otherwise writing or printing of the ritual.
    This convenient tool for brethren wishing to learn the ritual will dramatically enhance the way we perform our degree work. Use this manual to your benefit, respect the confidentiality of it, but most important of all, observe the restrictions placed upon its use.
    Restrictions are as follows:
    This manual may not be used in an open meeting of the lodge.
    This manual may not be used for prompting during a degree.
    This manual may not be used to read from during any degree.
    The material in this manual may not be copied or photocopied in any way.
    No brother shall knowingly permit a non-Mason to look through this manual.
    The D.D.G.M. will audit the rituals during his official visitation to assure they are properly cared for.
    Penalties are as follows:
    Any lodge that is found to be in violation of any of the above restrictions will have its Warrant of Constitution forfeited to the Grand Lodge.
    Any brother found to be in violation of any of the above restrictions will be subject to Masonic discipline.
  16. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

    IMHO, they are making a big mistake. One of the things that, to me, makes Masonry special is the bond a Brother forms with his instructor. I think it would be a shame to lose that sense of Brethren working together to accomplish something. Further, a GOOD instructor explains the work as he teaches it- I've yet to see a code book with a concordance in it. I think our system, including not allowing Brethren to possess a book until they've turned in their MM work, is much better. The book is supposed to be an aid to the memory, not a replacement for it.
  17. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member

    Yeah I've noticed the liberal use of codebooks within the York Rite. It's unfortunate.
  18. Chuckfw

    Chuckfw Registered User

    I assume that you mean their obligation will be "violated" if the members of the Grand Lodge were to write their own "official" codebook? Does the meaning of "unlawfully obtained" come into play here? Would it not be lawful if the governing body authorizes it and it's ownership is maintained? Cypher is a code and while any code can be broken, I don't think it applies to the intent of the obligation.
  19. thehibster

    thehibster Registered User

    The book I have was first copyrighted in 1907, written by G.A. Gantt. I walked in to a Barnes and Noble bookstore in 2009 and a clerk pulled one off the shelf and handed it to me. Barnes and Noble doesn't stock books that don't sell, and I doubt anyone but a Mason buys this book, so it's a safe bet there were a few brothers who had gone that way before me.

    I have found the cypher book to be a wonderful aid to my memory, and I believe the proper use of it is to help brothers remember "the work" and in turn produce degree work that is free from stuttering, stumbling, or error. We owe that much to the initiates.

    In his book "Symbolism of the Three Degrees" Oliver Street touches on the concept of confusing the thing with the idea, and I think that's where detractors of the use of cypher books have missed the mark. I think Wilmshurst put it best from "The Meaning of Masonry" page 20 - "We meet in our Lodges regularly; we perform our ceremonial work and repeat our catechetical instruction-lectures night after night with a less or greater degree of intelligence and verbal perfection, and there our work ends, as though the ability to perform this work creditably were the be-all and the end-all of Masonic work."

    In my opinion, the cypher book lends brothers the confidence to participate in the lodge, and it is that fellowship and spirit of fratenerity that is important, not the manner in which one memorizes the work.
  20. jwhoff

    jwhoff Premium Member

    Code books.

    There is a considerable difference when it comes to handing a man a code book to learn his work and giving him one to stay fresh on it after he has accomplished his journey to the master's degree.

    I have been a mason four years and have coached two brothers through to master and am currently instructing two more and helping out where I can on other's journey. It would destroy much of the pleasure I have as an instructor if the code book was between us.

    Yes, I believe the bond formed between candidate and instructor is one of the basic building blocks of freemasonry. It's the first signal of what brotherhood should mean and opens that important door to the candidate. That said, I notice brothers setting around who would truly like to help but realize they don't know their work well enough to instruct eager candidates who start out hungry but loose interest when they aren't immediately matched up with an instructor.

    We've had nearly 20 EA degrees in my lodge this year. We'd had six fellow craft and five master's degrees. Only about five or six of the EA's are working regularly at this time. I am currently serving as Sr. Deacon and it rips my heart out each night I walk a new candidate into the brotherhood. Will we have enough brothers prepared to help his man through his journey?

    I don't know the answer brothers. We were caught woefully short by this new wave of interest in masonry. I think we should take a hint from the business world. We need to train the trainers.

    I believe it is no longer acceptable to say this is a good problem to have. Does that entail code books? at least to build a strong instructor corps?

    Life is never simple.

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