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The Fellow Craft

The Fellow Craft

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Published by Troy Welch
Instruction for the Middle Chamber.
Instruction for the Middle Chamber.

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Published by: Troy Welch on Nov 09, 2009
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09/26/2010

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THE FELLOW CRAFTOverview forInstructors Pages 69 72Part One Review Session Pages 72 79Part Two Review of Pollard Booklet Pages 80 85Handout material& Pages 87 98
THE FELLOW CRAFT
OVERVIEW FOR INSTRUCTORIn the era of the operative builder, the Fellows of the Craft represented the professionalMasons. They were mature men who had passed their years of apprenticeship and were skilledin the arts and the sciences of their calling. It was these men who would erect the houses of faith and temporal power which characterized their day. As it was then, so it is now. TheFellowcrafts represent the craftsmen dedicated to learning learning both moral andintellectual the men filled with the mission of speculative Masonry today.The instructor who has pondered the Fellowcraft Degree in an honest search for what it has tosay to him in his years of manhood is bound to be of great help to the new Fellowcraft. Suchan instructor will find a natural bond between himself and the man he wishes to assist a bondwhich has its substance in the community of human experience, for if two words can be foundto describe the Fellowcraft Degree they are these two.Because it is necessary for the instructor and the new Fellowcraft to consider the fullimplication of the degree and not just its parts, an excellent interpretation of the ritual hasbeen included in the handout materials. In addition, this overview ends with a discussion of the degree and the role of the instructor. This discussion may serve to highlight the manyfacts of this degree.The review session follows the format used in the orientation session for the EnteredApprentice.The second section provides an opportunity to review this historical development of theFraternity as summarized in the Pollard Plan Booklet for the Fellowcraft degree. In thediscussion of the booklet there is an excellent opportunity to explore the contribution whichthe Fraternity has made to both society and individual, as well as its potential for service inthe future.
 
Finally, the handout materials provide extended and alternative means of review andinstruction. It is hoped that the use of this material will be such as to stimulate the newMason to contemplate the meaning of the Fellowcraft degree in his own life.
The Degree in the Middle(A view of the Fellowcraft Degree and the Instructor's Role)
Like the proverbial plight of the "middle child" the Fellowcraft Degree often does not receivethe attention it deserves. Moreover, certain Masonic scholars have been negative in theircriticism of the Degree's content and form. (See Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, p. 184.) Whilethese students acknowledge the glories of Prestonian language included in the ritual, theyview the Fellowship Degree as an eclectic attempt to retain elements which early ritualistswere loath to discard after the ceremonies associated with the Fellowcraft had beenplundered in the formalization of the Master Mason Degree and the setting aside of the MarkMaster.A careful scrutiny of our second degree leads the Masonic educator to a very differentconclusion. A study of the degree leaves him wondering just how any program of Masoniceducation can do justice to this middle experience of Freemasonry which is as rich in colorand design as a Persian carpet and which has such a vital place in the three steps of CraftMasonry.To begin with, the degree samples the experience of the builder his awe, his inherentcapabilities, his undaunted lust to imitate the divine plan form the rude beginnings of civilization to the present and (let us pray) from the present forward to that time when theintellect of man joined with compassion and virtue shall erect the high spires of wisdombeneath which man shall dwell with the blessings of peace and plenty.Wisdom is the central theme of the Fellowcraft Degree and it is symbolized by the sanctuaryof the Middle Chamber. This sanctuary is reached by means of a Flight of Winding Stairs whichrepresent nothing less than a liberal and a moral education.One critic has called the instruction given in the Fellowcraft Degree "puerile." It must beadmitted that the ritual presents only the briefest view of the development of the arts andthe sciences and of their place in the story of the builder. With a few suggestive brushstrokes, the ritual sets the stage for further inquiry before hurrying on toward the MiddleChamber. It is a rapid overview, but in no way is it childish. We can hardly expect the ritualto be set aside while a course in analytic geometry is conducted in order to convince thecandidate that truly geometry "is the root of the mathematics," or while a survey of modern
 
atomic physics is presented to illustrate how form and structure permeate the world of nature.For the Masonic educator, understanding what has been left out is as important ascomprehending what has been included. Of course, it is impossible for the instructor todevelop, in educational sessions, the considerations implied by the ritual just as it wasimpossible for the Masons who first formulated the present degree. The instructor, however,can open doors, as it were, which will allow the new Fellowcraft to glimpse the wide vistaswhich spread out on every side from this "middle degree."Despite its emphasis upon the academic, the Fellowcraft Degree. is a most human and closeto home experience. It is far from being cold and austere. As Masonic writers have oftenpointed out and as the lecture of the third degree makes manifest, our "middle degree" isconcerned with our "middle years" of manhood. The Middle Chamber as a goal, the flight of winding stairs as a way, and our manhood as the stakes, are united in a presentation whichhas to do with the maturing human being as seen through the history of civilized society ingeneral. It is obvious that we are not dealing with any particular chronological age when weconsider Masonic manhood, but rather the period in life when a man must come to grips withhuman existence its joys, wonders and its agonies. If a man is to reach the Middle Chamberhis youthful exuberance and his native ingenuity must pass between the Pillars of moralstrength and disciplined establishment.The Fellowcraft is a degree of passages. In fact, we might say that it is a celebration of the"rite of passage" both in terms of mankind and the individual. It is a degree poised on thewaterfords of human existence and decision. The wages of the Mason the symbolic corn,wineand oil await, but they shall be given only to the man whose intellectual awakening isoriented by the Cardinal Virtues and whose skills are dedicated to the well being of others.The rewards of health, peace and plenty are available for the human being who has foundsolid significance within himself and within his relationship toward the world and towardmankind.We need go no further to underscore the importance of the quest for Masonic manhood, be itfor the individual or for the well being of the Craft. It is equally obvious that the "middledegree" makes meaningful the God centered, moral lessons of the Entered Apprentice Degreewhile preparing the way to the significance of the Master Mason Degree. Any educationalassistance which renders these points clearer to the new Mason are worth our effort and ourcareful planning.

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