Winter Trestleboard 2022
Welcome to the new website and first trestleboard for 2022! If all goes to plan, the launch date will be St John's Day. (John the Evangelist.)
It is likely that the trestleboard comes out quarterly and not monthly this year. So the WM wrote a longer piece. It outlines a theory about Masonry, Geometry and Euclid's 47th proposition. Also the theme of this year and the focus of education.
As this is a long trestleboard, there is a Table of Contents for you to skip around and re-find pieces if you need to come back. In short, there is a blog from the WM, outline of the committees for this year, reminder of the slack group, and upcoming events. Enjoy!
Message from the WM: Geometry, Masonry & Truth
I learned Geometry in high school. The laws and math of shapes are mostly what I remember of Geometry. Protractors, compasses, rulers. It is mostly something I forgot about and used little in my adult life. Then to become a mason and hear that Geometry is important to Masons made me re-look at this science. I wanted to understand why it might be important to Masons. I’ve come up with a hypothesis. Not saying it is correct, but when symbols are veiled in allegory, it is open to interpretation. I shall present my idea of why Geometry is essential to Masons below. First, I need to take you through the thought process that got me to that A-HA!
What is Geometry?
Let’s start with defining what geometry is. In reading about Geometry and its history, there are two aspects to Geometry that followed the coarse of its evolution from Egypt to Greece.
Practical or Egyptian Geometry
"During thousands of years, the ancient people of the Near East built up a practical art that came to be known as geometry - from geo, earth, and metria, 'measurement'."
~ String, Straight-edge and Shadow by Julia Diggins
Egyptian Geometry was discovered and used for practical uses like building, irrigation, agriculture and measuring areas. During this discovery period, the Egyptians stumbled over a property of a triangle with the proportion of 3:4:5 – it creates a right angle. In addition, the Egyptians were known to have rope divided into 12 sections by knots made to create a right angle which they needed for dividing land and building.
Mathematical or Greek Geometry
"The Greeks turned from the tools, to the rules. Thinking people began to question and wonder why. The Greek geometers developed logical ways of thought. They discovered that the earth is a sphere and the tilt of its axis. They discovered the properties of curves which they called the ellipse, the parabola, the hyperbola and the spiral - curves that many centuries later were recognised as the paths of motion for bodies in space. They helped lay the foundations of modern science and invention." ~ String, Straight-edge and Shadow by Julia Diggins
Euclid and Pythagoras are Greeks that came from, added to, or even outrightly created much of this style of Geometry.
Masonry Tools and Geometry Tools
There is a beauty to speculative Masonry and how it relates the tools of a builder with the work of being a better man. Of the Freemasonry tools operative masons use, some can be used for both design/planning and some for stonework only—the design/planning tools one would use to draw a blueprint on a trestleboard. To get angles and proportions correct requires a compass, a rule, a (set) square, and of course, a pencil - or something to mark the trestleboard.
Geometry, Design and Planning
One of my subjects in high school was technical drawing. I found a lot of joy in learning the art of drawing designs. This was back in the days before Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software. Everything was done on paper with the same tools used for hundreds if not thousands of years.
My father was a draftsman and surveyor. I learned many practical aspects of Geometry and measuring the land from him. He sometimes took me out to sites for surveying with a theodolite, tape measure and a telescopic levelling rod (giant ruler). I would be directed to go and stand at a certain point, holding the levelling rod level while he stood off in the distance peering through the theodolite and writing down measurements. I would then later see the diagrams of the ley of the land that he would draw from those measures. (This technology has now changed with laser theodolites and computer software.)
Geometry and Mathematics
As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I first learned Geometry in maths class. (Maths is what Australians shorten mathematics to – Aussies love shortening words.) So geometry is a sub-part of math, or it is considered so today. The fact that Geometry and Arithmetic are two separate sciences of the ancient Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences implies that they were once deemed independent?
The mathematics of geometry teaches things like the area of a circle, the mathematical properties of shapes, how to deduce/calculate all of them when only given a few, etc. This all mostly came from the Greeks, and that is the geometry I most remembered from my high school lessons.
But then there was one more thing I learned in a later advanced math class years later (and promptly forgot) - the science of mathematical proof. This science also traces back to the Greeks and specifically to Euclid. Now hold that thought.
Why Learn Geometry?
One of the books I picked up to better understand Geometry was Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Absolutely Everything by Jordan Ellenberg. Early in the book was this statement:
The point of geometry in high school… was to train up the student’s mind in the habits of strict deductive reasoning. This idea has stuck. A survey conducted in 1950 asked five hundred American high school teachers about their objectives in teaching geometry: the most popular answer by far was “To develop the habit of clear thinking and precise expression.”
Clear thinking and precise expression – were these what the ancient Freemasons were trying to inculcate in us through a study of Geometry? If the outcome of learning geometry was clear thinking and precise expression, that would certainly help one become a better man, no?
Euclid – Deductive Reasoning and Proof
Euclid’s 47th proposition is the root of all modern geometry – it was the first theory to be mathematically proven using the deductive method of proof that Euclid invented.
From the same Shape book mentioned above, you can see how Euclid influenced President Lincoln. (All italics sections following are from the same book.)
In 1864, the Reverend J. P. Gulliver of Norwich, Connecticut, recalled a conversation with Abraham Lincoln about how the president had acquired his famously persuasive rhetorical skill. The source, Lincoln said, was geometry.
Abraham Lincoln - In the course of my law-reading I constantly came upon the word demonstrate. I thought, at first, that I understood its meaning, but soon became satisfied that I did not. . . . I consulted Webster’s Dictionary. That told of “certain proof,” “proof beyond the possibility of doubt;” but I could form no idea what sort of proof that was. I thought a great many things were proved beyond a possibility of doubt, without recourse to any such extraordinary process of reasoning as I understood “demonstration” to be. I consulted all the dictionaries and books of reference I could find, but with no better results. You might as well have defined blue to a blind man. At last I said, “Lincoln, you can never make a lawyer if you do not understand what demonstrate means;” and I left my situation in Springfield, went home to my father’s house, and staid there till I could give any propositions in the six books of Euclid at sight. I then found out what “demonstrate” means, and went back to my law studies.
The mental habit of the geometer: You don’t settle for leaving things half-understood; you boil down your thoughts and trace back their steps of reason, just as Hobbes had amazedly watched Euclid do.
Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. But what is Truth?
Truth is one of the three core principles of Masonry. Yet when I ask any Mason – what Truth is, I have yet to get a consistent answer. Maybe the Masonic answer to what is Truth was hiding in plain sight the whole time in the symbol of Euclid’s 47th proposition?
Truth is a proposition that can be proven using self-evident axioms that cannot be rationally denied.
What Lincoln took from Euclid was the idea that, if you were careful, you could erect a tall, rock-solid building of belief and agreement by rigorous deductive steps, story by story, on a foundation of axioms no one could doubt: or, if you like, truths one holds to be self-evident. Whoever doesn’t hold those truths to be self-evident is excluded from discussion. I hear the echoes of Euclid in Lincoln’s most famous speech, the Gettysburg Address, where he characterizes the United States as “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” A “proposition” is the term Euclid uses for a fact that follows logically from the self-evident axioms, one you simply cannot rationally deny.
The Pythagorean Theorem isn’t true because Pythagoras said it was; it’s true because we can, ourselves, prove that it’s true.
A Unified Theory on Why Geometry and Euclid for Masons
Why Geometry? – because its study teaches us clear thinking and precise expression. Further, Euclid’s method for deductive reasoning gives us a definition of Truth and path on how to get to it.
Note the words "right" and "square" in this quote
Measuring the world and ourselves - The 24" Gauge?
So Let’s Get Pragmatic – Enter Critical Thinking
Well, all this Geometry stuff sounds great you might be thinking. But are we really going to go to lodge and study math? I can hear the moans – "I thought I was done with that when I left high school". So no – I will leave the mathematic study to do on your own, or a group of brothers may choose to form an educational club on Geometry that meet outside of the lodge.
But I think there is another practical application that is easier to learn – critical thinking.
In the lodge near the sign-in book, you will see posters displaying 24 Cognitive Biases and 24 Logical Fallacies. If, over 2022, we as brothers can learn and deeply understand all of these, we have a toolset for Rhetoric, Logic, and Truth.
My theme for 2022 is to Becoming Better Men Through Truth, and the education for this year will be around this theme. Don’t worry; I want to make it fun, practical and interactive as possible. Yes, memorization will be required, but you signed up for that already when you became a Mason and should be pretty good at it by now, right? And I will share my tool for memorization called Anki, which will make memorization a lot easier. Anki uses the science of memorization and recall through repetition intervals.
These 48 biases and fallacies are to critical thinking what Euclid’s axioms are to Mathematical proof and Truth. In learning critical thinking, I believe we are doing the work of Masonry, of becoming better men and helping society at large. It will strengthen us also in the liberal arts of Rhetoric and Logic.
We encounter non-proofs in proofy clothing all the time, and unless we’ve made ourselves especially attentive, they often get by our defenses. There are tells you can look for. In math, when an author starts a sentence with “Clearly,” what they are really saying is “This seems clear to me and I probably should have checked it, but I got a little confused, so I settled for just asserting that it was clear.” The newspaper pundit’s analogue is the sentence starting “Surely, we can all agree.” Whenever you see this, you should at all costs not be sure that all agree on what follows. You are being asked to treat something as an axiom, and if there’s one thing we can learn from the history of geometry, it’s that you shouldn’t admit a new axiom into your book until it really proves its worth.
In the era of fake news and deep polarization, we will have a practical tool to bring peace, love and harmony to our ranks and the world around us. Harmony is the strength and support of all institutions, more especially that of ours. I hope that we can gain a greater understanding of truth over the year, we bond closer together in brotherly love in the study thereof, and we have gained a toolset to help our fellow humankind (relief). Essentially, we become better Masons and better men.
May the God of Love and Peace delight to dwell with you and bless you.
WM Kirkland #150 (2022)
Books referenced in the above blog / newsletter. Both of them are a fantastic read!
The work of putting together committees has started and you can expect to see an update on each committee in each upcoming trestleboard if there is anything new and exciting.
If there is a committee that you see here that you are particularly interested in being a part of, reach out to the chair and I'm sure they will be happy to have brothers working with them to assist. If there is no chair, reach out to the Master of the Lodge.
B Patrick Hevesi is the chair of this committee which is in charge of coming up with events, collecting ideas from the brothers, and organizing on events - including co-ordinating efforts. This committee is also responsible for the annual campout. If you have any ideas for events or outings, please contact Patrick directly or over on the Kirkland 150 slack group. (Search below for the title Kirkland 150 Slack Group if you don't know what this is, or you do know and have not yet joined in.)
Events will be posted over on the calendar page as they are created.
WB David Pearson is the chair of this committee in charge of working out meals for our stated meetings.
WB David Pearson is the chair of this committee also. Right now we are kicking around ideas of maybe hosting a campout for the Scouts during which they can earn badges, and also, perhaps coming up with a DeMolay and Rainbow for Girls badges.
Other ideas for this committee is to see if there are elderly brothers that want to come to lodge, but have problems with transport, and how to solve for that.
Keep the ideas coming and direct to WB David.
Yet to find a chair (please let the WM know if you are interested). The Contact committee will be responsible for responding to first contact, maintaining a list of contacts and a log of what communication has happened and what the next step is. Also before a stated meeting, they will contact previous visitors and brothers from other jurisdictions that are looking to join our lodge to give them a personal invitation. After a visit to the meal or stated meeting, a follow up thank you email will be sent by this committee also (and logged in the aforementioned actions log.)
B Andrew Von Tersch is chair - responsible for deciding when, and how to decorate the lodge. Andrew, I and couple other EAs did a trial run for the December stated and it was a resounding success so it has been decided to keep this idea going. As Andrew was the one to come up with it, and was willing to take the responsibility, he eagerly accepted the chair position. I'm sure he could do with help if any brothers can turn up early before stated.
B Patrick Hevesi is chair. There are a few brothers already involved with this committee. The scope is essentially to ensure we stay up to date with technology that can enhance our lodge and our work.
This is what I love - self-organization and people taking responsibility without asking permission. B Cragar created this committee dedicated to charitable work involving the giving of time and effort. Suggestion for volunteering is for the WTA and also Br Chris Wade suggested Kirkland Lodge could adopt a road and take the responsibility that comes with that. I think it would make for a great brotherly bonding experience to keep a road clean and then all go to a pub/restaurant and break bread together. Watch this space!
It shall be the duty of the Worshipful Master, at the first stated meeting after his installation, to appoint a standing Committee in Investments to be composed of the Worshipful Master, the Treasurer and Three Master Masons, who are members of this Lodge, in good standing and who agree to serve, and if possible men who are versed in financial matters.
The investment policy of this committee should take into account the financial needs of the Lodge, the amount of funds available for investment, diversity, yield, and safety. It will be the duty of the Treasurer of the Lodge to report to the Lodge membership the investments made by this committee.
Kirkland 150 Slack Group
If you have not already done so, come and join the slack group that has been created for ongoing communications and conversation for all brothers of Kirkland 150. If you want details, please email email@example.com asking to be added to the group.
January Stated Meeting - Thursday 13th 6:30pm
District 7 Meeting - Monday Jan 17th 7pm. Brothers may be coming onto lodge to join over zoom in the dining room, or one can connect over zoom from their home. Registration is in Grandview. The zoom details can be gotten from Grandview, or the calendar event in the Kirkland Google Calendar.
February Stated Meeting - Thursday Feb 10th 6:30pm
March Stated Meeting - Thursday March 10th 6:30pm
Leadership Retreat - Wenatchee, March 18-20.
The events committee is working hard at coming up with an exciting year ahead. (A lot depending on the budget to be approved in January meeting.) If you have ideas for events please share with the events committee!
All events will be listed on the calendar page. Scroll past the Google calendar on that web page to see a list of events by month.
Food for Food - Charity Experiment
During an upcoming meal (next meeting that is not virtual), we will be asking for donations to an Almoner's Fund - which will go charity. Of which the lodge shall choose.
For the collection you can give cash, but preferred is Venmo or PayPal. To that end, if you can have one of those apps installed and set up on your smart phone before the event, it will make the giving a lot easier all round. Or - if more comfortable, you can give directly yourself through your browser at their website before or after the meal, or anytime!