Saturday, March 7, 2009

‘An evening at Hiram-Takoma’

RW Rashied Sharrieff-Al-Bey speaks to Hiram-Takoma Lodge No. 10
on Feb. 12 on the subject of ‘Symbolic Interactionism.’

Also during Masonic Week (and on Lincoln’s birthday) but not part of the Masonic Week schedule, was the stated meeting of Hiram-Takoma Lodge No. 10, under the Grand Lodge of Washington, DC. Not just any regular communication of the lodge, but a combination of guest speaker RW Rashied Sharrieff-Al-Bey from Cornerstone Lodge No. 37 of MW Prince Hall GL of New York, and the lodge’s Valentine’s Day thank you to the brethren’s ladies. Needless to say, expectations were high among those of us who wondered how Bro. Rashied would craft remarks not only appropriate for a program open to family and friends, but also keeping in tune with the quickly approaching Valentine’s Day.

Pffffffft! No problem. It’s Rashied!

Delivering a talk and PowerPoint presentation titled “Symbolic Interactionism,” our speaker, himself a student of organizational behavior working toward his Master’s Degree and part of the management team at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, deftly segued from the concept of communicating in symbols, to some of the specifics of Masonic symbols, to the key to understanding why men and women just don’t speak the same language. And he did so with the confidence and humor that the Magpie Mason envies in public speakers.

As usual my notes are a mess so I can’t quote him verbatim (but I don’t feel too bad because he snafu’d his own recording device!), but to summarize his thesis: A person can say exactly what he means with perfect clarity, but the point is to be understood, and even when ideas seem to be at opposites, there still is a relationship. “There is thesis, and antithesis, and somewhere in the middle is synthesis.”

In our relationships we are forever communicating and sharing, and not always in spoken words. Every message requires translation, interpretation, and extrapolation, from which we make inferences and act on those inferences.

A masterful speaker who illustrates his main points with personal anecdotes, Rashied told of his son and daughter-in-law: the former a Muslim, and the latter a Roman Catholic from Panama. “He can’t speak Spanish, and she can’t speak English, but there’s communication.”

Justin, Reed, Glen, and a local visitor enjoy the program.

Tapping into Masonic symbols, the Beehive and the Pomegranates, he showed that their symbolic values are not idiomatic to Masonic teachings – most of the ladies and other non-Masons present acknowledged an understanding of the Beehive representing industry and the Pomegranates exhibiting bounty – but that their usefulness in Masonic instruction is apt and offers layers of meaning.

Demonstrating just how many layers of interpretation can be peeled back in simple communication, Bro. Rashied produced a pack of standard playing cards. He asked Worshipful Master Marcel to choose one. To divine the identity of that card, Rashied investigated by inquiry. Not direct questioning to get to the point, but a process of investigation to arrive at a common answer.

Is the card red or black? Is it Diamonds or Hearts? Is it a number card or a face card? Is it a high number or a low number? In short order, he determined that Marcel’s card was in fact the Three of Hearts.

To better – well, frankly to best – explain why it is so crucial for those who think and speak directly (men) and those who think and speak in, ah, complexity, Rashied put onto the screen a graphic borrowed from a brilliant McCann Erickson campaign for Goldstar Beer:

Man asks Woman out for a drink. Man’s flowchart efficiently outlines what he wants.

Woman is game for the same things, but with an exuberance of elaborate considerations planted like so many seeds in her mind.

(“Thank God you’re a man,” goes the slogan for this Israeli brew, which I’m fairly certain comes from Leviticus.)

The question we have, said Rashied in conclusion, is how do we best achieve harmony and reconcile differences?

Whether in marriage or in Masonry, Magpie readers, some things never change!

The Worshipful Master then led his brethren in a ritual that probably is not worked enough: a heartfelt ceremonial thank you to their ladies for supporting them while they spend so much time on their Masonic labors. Roses, balloons and kisses were among the wages paid to the women who ultimately make it all happen.

The Worshipful Master makes the introductions.
Worshipful Master Marcel Desroches
on different points of fellowship with his Grand Master.
The Ritual Instructor ensures the floorwork is correct as Junior Deacon Fred plants one on the missus.

The Bat Signal towers over historic Takoma Park in DC.

Agent Reed keeps paparazzi a distance
from the Past Grand Masters.
A rare historic artifact on display at the lodge: a beer bottle emptied by Benjamin Franklin himself!


Brad Hart said...

Mr. Hochberg:

Thank you for your recent comment at American Creation on the topic of masonry. I am writing because you mentioned having an interest in contributing/editing for American Creation. If this is something you would like to do we would be delighted to have you. We have been looking for a contributor with a working knowledge of Masonry and you certainly fit the mold.

Anyway, if you are interested, please email me at:

Hope to hear from you soon!

BTW, love you blog. Very interesting. I'll be sure to add it to our list.

MP said...

How wonderful it is to see pictures of fellowship in the very hall in which I was Passed and Raised, by that very Lodge, as a courtesy to my Mother Lodge.

And a picture of my dear friend, and departed Brother, Danny.

Thanks, Jay!

ReeD said...

It was a good night in Lodge!