The 47th Problem of Euclid

By Wor. David J. Lettelier
for a Public Oration and Lecture

The 47th problem of Euclid (called that because Euclid included it in a book of numbered geometry problems) in which the sides are 3, 4, and 5 — all whole numbers — is also known as “the Egyptian string trick.”

The “trick” is that you take a string and tie knots in it to divide it into 12 divisions, the two ends joining.  (The divisions must be correct and equal or this will not work.)

Then get 3 sticks — thin ones, just strong enough to stick them into soft soil.  Stab one stick in the ground and arrange a knot at the stick, stretch three divisions away from it in any direction and insert the second stick in the ground, then place the third stick so that it falls on the knot between the 4-part and the 5-part division.  This forces the creation of a 3 : 4 : 5 right triangle.  The angle between the 3 units and the 4 units is of necessity a square or right angle.

The ancient Egyptians used the string trick to create right angles when re-measuring their fields after the annual Nile floods washed out boundary markers.  Their skill with this and other surveying methods led to the widely held (but false) belief that the Egyptians invented geometry (geo=earth, metry=measuring).

Thales the Greek supposedly picked the string trick up while traveling in Egypt and took it back to Greece.  Some say that the Greek mathematician and geometer Pythagoras, described in Masonic lectures as “our worthy brother,” also went to Egypt and learned it there on his own.  In any case, it was he who supplied the PROOF that the angle formed by the 3 : 4: 5 triangle is invariably square and perfect.  It is also said that he actually sacrificed a hecatomb, that is a sacrifice of one hundred bulls, which ranked as the highest kind of religious offering, upon completing the proof.

How is this forty-seventh proposition the foundation of all Masonry, and what was the significance of the problem which led to such a demonstration by the ancient philosopher? 

The knowledge contained in this proposition is at the bottom of all systems of measurement and every mechanic at the present day makes use of it consciously or unconsciously, whether it be the land surveyor blocking out a township, or the gardener measuring out his tennis court, or the carpenter calculating the pitch of a roof.  He may not know anything about geometry, but the “rule of thumb” by which he works has been deduced from this proposition.  To the practical builder the knowledge is invaluable, and if we will carry ourselves back in imagination to a time when this knowledge was still unknown, we will realize that its discovery was an event of great importance in the history of architecture, an epoch-making event to be ranked with such modern discoveries as those of the law of gravitation, wireless TV or telephones, and space travel.

Hiram Had to Die – And So Must You

By Roger A. Kessinger

Hiram had to die – and so must you! Why? Because the fate of Hiram Abiff is the story of all man- kind and of all Masons. The life of Hiram reveals many lessons but his death teaches the most significant lessons.

Listen to the story and its message for you and I. Hiram was an initiate. This means he was a man, who, of his own free will and accord, entered upon a path of study and action which taught him how to live a proper life to be acceptable to God.

But God is unwilling to accept any man until he offers up a sacrifice; not of blood not of money, but of something far greater in value — himself.

Man must sacrifice himself if he is to permanently unite with God and remain in his kingdom from whence he was banished. How is this accomplished? Only by death.

The initiate must die to the corruptions of his outer self and be reborn to the divinity of his inner self, or soul. This means that his whole perception must be radically changed to accommodate his new life – the spiritual life.

He must realize that physical life is only a temporary phenomenon whose sole purpose is to re- veal the existence of a higher state of being – spiritual immortality, and that although this spiritual existence is promised to everyone, it must be earned here and now,

The initiate accomplishes this mission by correcting his thoughts, words, and actions (or deeds). This alone makes him acceptable to God.

Hiram subdued his own passions by thinking proper thoughts, speaking acceptable words, and performing exemplary deeds. Allegorically, this happened when he was struck in the chest (the seat of the passions), throat (the place of words), and head (the center of thoughts).

The latter “killed” him. The three fellow crafts were not assassins but spiritual principles: spir- itual force, spiritual power, and spiritual will.

But what was it that was killed? It wasn’t the man himself, it was his outer nature. It wasn’t his physical body, it was his physical nature, Death didn’t send him to the cold, dark, depths of the grave but raised him to the brilliant sunshine of Light and Illumination. His “death” gave him life.

Masons! This is the true purpose of Freemasonry: To square the rough ashlar and thus attain spir- itual perfection! This can only be accomplished by the death of our outer, or crude, rough animal natures, which creates a refined spiritual and mental existence.

Only by being free from debasing influences will we truly become a Freemason: free from vanity, fear, religious dogma, greed, hate, lust, jealousy, and in general, free from all of the errors that chain the spiritual existence, until you and I accomplish this most difficult task, we will only be a Mason, not a Freemason.

So you see, Hiram had to die – and so must each of us individually.

This article was suggested by Ill. Pete Jantz, 33° Past PR of Santa Ana (now Orange County) Valley of Scottish Rite.

 

Our Honorary Hats Explained

Knight Commander of the Court of Honour

At the biennial session of the Supreme Council certain Masters of the Royal Secret, having held that degree for at least forty-six months prior to the session, are chosen to receive the Rank and Decoration of Knights Commander of the Court of Honour. These are chosen from the ranks of the Consistory for special service to Masonry, or to mankind, by the Deputy or Sovereign Grand Inspector General. The Knight Commander of the Court of Honour may be recognized by the red cap they are entitled to wear. The rank of KCCH, if petitioned or asked for, must be refused.

Thirty-Third Degree (33°), Inspector General Honorary

The Thirty-third Degree is conferred by the Supreme Council upon members of the Rite in recognition of outstanding work in the Rite or in public life. The 33° cannot be asked for and if asked for must be refused. At its biennial session the Supreme Council elects members of the Rite to receive the Degree. These 33° Masons are Inspectors General honorary and honorary members of the Supreme Council. The active members of the Supreme Council are chosen from among them.

Grand Cross of the Court of Honour

This is the highest individual honor that The Supreme Council bestows. It is voted very rarely to Thirty-third Degree Masons only for the most exceptional and extraordinary services. The Grand Cross cap is white with a blue band. On the front is a replica of the Grand Cross jewel, which is composed of a Teutonic Cross, with an embroidered crimson rose with green leaves at its center.

 

The Scottish Rite Is the University of Masonry

The Santa Ana Valley is participating in the Master Craftsman I & II correspondence course to further our light in Masonry. Master Craftsman I consists of 6 lessons with each lesson consisting of a se-ries of questions on our degrees plus a short essay. Master Craftsman II consists of 9 lessons with ques-tions on each degree along with an essay for each degree.

The following have completed Master Craftsman I: Frank J. Newcomb, Irv F. Womack II, Blair Birtcher, Gary C. Silverman, David P. Price, Robert S. Hummel, Peter J. Edgar, Peter H. Jantz, Steve M. Bass, Douglas A. Lishka, Walter H. Moore, Jr., James Segerstrom, Charles A. Grossman, Daniel R. Willerton, Robert W. McNamara, John R. Rider, Mark Phillips, Phillippe Jean Marie Antoine, Charles E. Reeves and Michael G. Selix. The following are enrolled in Master Craftsman I and are near completion: George W. Morton, Samuel E. Brandes, Thomas C. Olsen, James F. McCallion, James A. Cervantes, Da-vid J. Kussman, Ralph C. Shelton II, Dennis I. Newman, Ronald V. Maxwell, Norman B. Leeper, James M. graham, Jason B. Taylor and Jon-Paul Anthony Stone.

The following have completed Master Craftsman II: Robert W. McNamara, Mark C. Phillips, Phil-lippe Jean Marie Antoine and Charles E. Reeves. John R. Rider is enrolled in Master Craftsman II and is nearing completion.

Keep up the good work on seeking new light my Brothers,

Charles E. Reeves, 32⁰ and Bob McNamara, 32⁰ KCCH
Master Craftsman, Co-Chairman

Mouth to Ear

Illustrious Ernest Borgine, 33° Grand Cross Court of Honour

Illustrious Ernest Borgine, 33° Grand Cross Court of Honour

In 1946, I travelled with a friend down to a little town called Abingdon, Virginia, to see what the Barter Theatre had to offer. It offered nothing except hard work and board. My friend, not accept-ing the work they offered him, stayed one day – I stayed five years. In that time I grew to love the town and all it offered. The people, in particular, were simply marvelous. Occasionally I would be assigned to go down to the printing shop and get posters made for the upcoming shows at the Barter Theatre. One day, in talking to the owner of the print shop, one Elmo Vaughan, I found that he belonged to the local Masonic Lodge, No. 48, in Abingdon. My father was also a Mason and had advanced to the Thirty-second Degree in Scottish Rite Masonry, and I told this to Elmo. He was pleased, and sensing his pleasure, I asked him if maybe I could join. He said nothing, continuing his work, and a short while later, I took my posters and left. The next time I saw Elmo, I asked him again about joining the Masonic Order – again he said nothing – and again my work took me away. We became good friends and finally one day I passed by and again I asked if I could join the Masons. Instantly, he whipped out an application and I hurriedly filled it out. I didn’t learn ’til later, that in those days, you had to ask three times. I was thrilled! Not only was I going to be the first actor ever in Lodge No. 48, but I could just imagine my father’s surprise when I would spring the old greetings on him! I wanted only to surprise my Dad – and was I surprised, when after I was made an En-tered Apprentice, I found I had to remember everything that happened to me at that event and come back and answer ques-tions about it!

I was assigned to a dear old man of about 92 years of age who, I felt, must have been there when the Lodge first started. He was really of the old school – and he started me out with the foot-to-foot, knee-to-knee and mouth-to-ear routine of teaching. Besides doing my work for the Barter Theatre and a little acting to boot, I was also going to that dear Brother for my work in Masonry. I would tramp all over those lovely hills and work on my “Whence came you’s” and one day – oh, one fine day – I stood foot-to-foot with my Brother and answered every question perfectly! I was ecstatic! I was overjoyed and couldn’t wait to get to Lodge to show my ability as an Entered Apprentice. After I quieted down, that dear Brother said, “You’ve done fine, but aren’t you really only half started?” I couldn’t believe him! I knew my work; what else was there? He said “Wouldn’t it be better if you knew all the questions too?” I couldn’t believe my ears! All that hard work and only half done? He gently sat me down foot-to-foot, knee-to-knee and mouth-to-ear and taught me all the questions. That didn’t come easy, because I was almost doing the work by rote, but with careful listening and by really applying myself, I was soon able to deliver all the questions and answers perfectly! The night that I stood in front of the Lodge and was asked if I were ready to answer the questions of an Entered Apprentice, I respectfully asked if I could do both – questions and answers. I was granted that wish and later found that I was the second man in my Lodge to have ever done so! I am truly proud of that, never having demitted, I am still a member in good standing in Abingdon Lodge No. 48.

I tell this story not for the merit it might gain me, but to tell you that learning the Entered Apprentice obligation taught me a great lesson in acting as well: that before I ever attempt to do a part I should work, rehearse, feel, almost live that part to know what I am talking about! As I’ve advanced in Masonry, I have found we are an elite group of people who believe in God, country, family and neighbors. We work hard to help our fellowman; and through our charitable work, such as support for the Childhood Language Disorders Centers, we have made it possible to help many children grow Into good American citizens. We should always be proud of the Order we belong to. Where in all the world do you find so many great men and Brothers who have helped the whole wide world? But – we are hiding our light under a bushel basket! Recently I attended a dinner for a friend, and I ran across a Brother who identified himself in a hushed voice. I asked why he spoke in a whisper when talking about Masonry, and suddenly I realized he was-n’t the only one who had ever done that. I speak out loud about Masonry to everyone! I’m proud of the fact that I belong to an organization that made me a better American, Christian, husband and neigh-bor; and all it took was a little self-determination by going foot-to-foot, knee-to-knee, and mouth-to-ear!

– Illustrious Ernest Borgnine, 33° Grand Cross Court of Honour

Masonry As An Investment

By the most of us, investment has to do with money or its equivalent, but a Mason writes in an English magazine about “Masonry as an Investment.”

“You cannot buy Masonry, no man ever did or ever will. You do not buy it when you pay your fees or dues, you simply gain by these opportunities to get Masonry. Where is your investment then, you ask. Let me tell you.

If you become a Mason you put into Masonry more than money, more than anything you have or possess, that you measure by pounds or shillings, you put your life into it. Unless you can and do put your life into it, unless you let Masonry direct your life, you have no investment, you get little or nothing from Masonry.

“Life is in constant conflict between good and evil. Masonry aids the Mason to choose the good rather than the evil. Dominating the Mason’s life Masonry creates the habit of choosing the good, with the result that it helps him to develop character. You may have wealth and put your money in to paying propositions but you can make no investment that will pay you greater dividends than Masonry will if you make Masonic effort to build character.

Words to Live By:

I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man. ~George Washington

Questions and ideas for Masonic discussions and programs can be found at www.lodgebuilder.org – just click on the Masonic Monday Question.