I recently read Erasmus and the Northern Renaissance by Margaret Mann Phillips and enjoyed it a great deal. Phillips is an excellent scholar and the book provided a rich summary of Erasmus's life and works. Most interesting to me was Erasmus's involvement and education in a community called the Brethren of the Common Life, a sort of religious organization founded in the 14th century by Geert de Grute. While the name originally reminded me of Freemasonry, the description is more akin to Herman Hesse's Castalia from his magnum opus The Glass Bead Game.
Erasmus's relevance to Freemasonry comes from his rich and lasting influence on Western thought. During his time he was one of the most widely read authors, and some of his works, such as In Praise of Folly, continue to be included in recommended reading lists. His moderate stance between the radical protestantism of Martin Luther and the stubborn conservatism of the corrupt Church helped shape religious thought during the Reformation and helped to congeal the seeds that led to the Enlightenment. His refusal to bend to the will of others was tempered by his respect for his fellow men, and though it is doubtful that he ever had any contact with the proto-Masonic lodges of the 16th century he stands as an excellent role model for the modern Freemason.
This year the lodges in our district are trying something new. Every month we're having a Masters' and Wardens' meeting, in which the principal officers of every lodge come together to discuss events, coordinate plans, and keep the district in a coherent state. Last night was the first meeting that I'd made it to and I was happy to see that one of our most ambitious projects is coming together really well. In September I wrote about the possibilities of a table lodge, and I'm happy to say that it's actually going to happen.
We will receive a special dispensation to open Ashland Lodge on June 24th, and I will be taking the part of the Junior Warden. Others on the committee have done all of the real work, though, including putting together an impressive menu and an excellent ritual. I am very excited about this event and I can't wait to attend. There are a limited number of tickets, so if any of my readers happen to be Freemasons and you're interested in some fun, drop me an email and I'll give you the relevant contact information.