New Netflix Movie: ‘Burning Sands’

‘Illumination Lodge (UD)’
March 9, 2017
Freemasons mark 300th anniversary of Grand Lodge in Warrington – Warrington Guardian
March 9, 2017

New Netflix Movie: ‘Burning Sands’

You may have encountered these for sale online - wooden cricket bat-syle paddles with Masonic symbols, and even Prince Hall markings on them - and wondered why the heck someone would want such a thing. They are common items around college campuses, used in "Greek" fraternities, but certainly not something you should be finding in a Masonic lodge. True Masonic ceremonies are not in any way degrading or could be considered hazing in any way, shape, or form.

Well, an article popped up today and may be a little insight into the source of where and why there is sometimes a tradition of frat-style hazing in (hopefully) illegitimate, self-styled Masonic lodges. Netflix premieres a new film tomorrow about a black college fraternity, called Burning Sands. It portrays an African-American college freshman's rough journey to become a full-fledged member of 'Lambda Lambda Phi' at the fictional Frederick Douglass University.


From the review:
Gerard McMurray's complicated but utterly entertaining drama “Burning Sands,” which will debut on Netflix March 10th centers on the controversial “underground” frat hazing at an all-black college. That’s just the jumping off point.

At first glance one might ask “where is the African-American unity” but just like real life, you have to peer deeper and decide to listen and to hear the words being uttered by the central characters. Through this prism of the societal construct called fraternity, we see our history reflected in shattered shards.
The story opens as aspiring inductees are entering the dreaded Hell Week and being put through their paces by their future big brothers on the low-down since their fraternity has been banned due to hazing infractions in the recent past.

The screenplay by first-time screenwriters Christine Berg and director Gerard McMurray has a fearless, honest tone and does not flinch in demonstrating just how brutal some of the big brothers are in constantly roughing up the pledgees. Beating after beating, one young man is kicked off the line, leaving five aspirants to ponder their place in the fraternity and question brotherhood on a wider canvas. All this, mind you, while they struggle to maintain academic demands and their personal lives. (MORE HERE)
Almost makes me want to reactivate my Netflix account just to see how it's handled.

While no regular Masonic ritual is even remotely analogous to the kind of underground hazing depicted in the show, an interesting aspect of the film is the exploration of the reasons and continuing need for fraternalism, not only in the black community, but among all men. But it also is curious to note that television producers seem to be discovering fraternalism on a wider basis in dramatic fashion, instead of in parody. Last September, the mini-series Queen Sugar portrayed a Masonic funeral service. And in October, AMC announced development of a new series called Lodge 49 about a fictional Shrine-like fraternal lodge.

According to its early description, Lodge 49's premise:
 "centers on Dud, a deadbeat but charming ex-surfer who joins a fraternal order hoping to reclaim the simple, happy lifestyle he lost when his father died. Through the Lodge and his newfound connection with the other members, Dud will come to find the missing sense of purpose in his life and confront his deepest fears and greatest hopes... [It explores the idea that] life can be magical if you look at it from the right angle, what it means to be on the fringe, and the importance of community."

UPDATE 3/19/2017:

Since I first posted this entry, I've been told of an independent film released in 2016 called Goat that similarly examined the culture of brutal "underground hazing" in a white "greek" college fraternity, which may have perhaps inspired the creators of Burning Sands to explore the subject from the black fraternity side of the issue. Additionally, the new series has generated much online chatter about such practices in some fraternities - there's a good one on The Root website by Kasai Rex HERE.

Again I reiterate: legitimate Freemason lodges (especially the ones you will commonly hear of as being regular and recognized) do NOT engage in such practices. Masonic degrees are NEVER supposed to humiliate or punish or endanger our candidates. In fact, one of the first things you will be told upon entering the lodge for your first time is "Fear no danger." This isn't the time or place to drone on about origins and effects of rites of initiation, psychological preparation and transformation, debating bonds of fraternalism through shared experience vs. physical humiliation and adversity, etc., etc. But suffice it to say that Masonic degrees have their adopted roots in the oldest forms and traditions of hermeticism, not Boot Camp. And if a "Masonic" lodge asks you as a petitioner to sign a release or waiver form indemnifying them of all legal responsibility for your potential future injuries during your degrees, you should keep on hunting for a different lodge, unless that is REALLY the sort of experience you hope and expect to find. I usually don't like slinging around accusations in the nature of saying a Masonic lodge is "doing it wrong," but I sure as hell do in this type of scenario.


(Click to enlarge)

You may have encountered these for sale online – wooden cricket bat-syle paddles with Masonic symbols, and even Prince Hall markings on them – and wondered why the heck someone would want such a thing. They are common items around college campuses, used in “Greek” fraternities, but certainly not something you should be finding in a Masonic lodge. True Masonic ceremonies are not in any way degrading or could be considered hazing in any way, shape, or form.

Well, an article popped up today and may be a little insight into the source of where and why there is sometimes a tradition of frat-style hazing in (hopefully) illegitimate, self-styled Masonic lodges. Netflix premieres a new film tomorrow about a black college fraternity, called Burning Sands. It portrays an African-American college freshman’s rough journey to become a full-fledged member of ‘Lambda Lambda Phi’ at the fictional Frederick Douglass University.

From the review:

Gerard McMurray’s complicated but utterly entertaining drama “Burning Sands,” which will debut on Netflix March 10th centers on the controversial “underground” frat hazing at an all-black college. That’s just the jumping off point.

At first glance one might ask “where is the African-American unity” but just like real life, you have to peer deeper and decide to listen and to hear the words being uttered by the central characters. Through this prism of the societal construct called fraternity, we see our history reflected in shattered shards.

The story opens as aspiring inductees are entering the dreaded Hell Week and being put through their paces by their future big brothers on the low-down since their fraternity has been banned due to hazing infractions in the recent past.

The screenplay by first-time screenwriters Christine Berg and director Gerard McMurray has a fearless, honest tone and does not flinch in demonstrating just how brutal some of the big brothers are in constantly roughing up the pledgees. Beating after beating, one young man is kicked off the line, leaving five aspirants to ponder their place in the fraternity and question brotherhood on a wider canvas. All this, mind you, while they struggle to maintain academic demands and their personal lives. (MORE HERE)

Almost makes me want to reactivate my Netflix account just to see how it’s handled.

While no regular Masonic ritual is even remotely analogous to the kind of underground hazing depicted in the show, an interesting aspect of the film is the exploration of the reasons and continuing need for fraternalism, not only in the black community, but among all men. But it also is curious to note that television producers seem to be discovering fraternalism on a wider basis in dramatic fashion, instead of in parody. Last September, the mini-series Queen Sugar portrayed a Masonic funeral service. And in October, AMC announced development of a new series called Lodge 49 about a fictional Shrine-like fraternal lodge.

According to its early description, Lodge 49’s premise:

 “centers on Dud, a deadbeat but charming ex-surfer who joins a fraternal order hoping to reclaim the simple, happy lifestyle he lost when his father died. Through the Lodge and his newfound connection with the other members, Dud will come to find the missing sense of purpose in his life and confront his deepest fears and greatest hopes… [It explores the idea that] life can be magical if you look at it from the right angle, what it means to be on the fringe, and the importance of community.”


UPDATE 3/19/2017:

Since I first posted this entry, I’ve been told of an independent film released in 2016 called Goat that similarly examined the culture of brutal “underground hazing” in a white “greek” college fraternity, which may have perhaps inspired the creators of Burning Sands to explore the subject from the black fraternity side of the issue. Additionally, the new series has generated much online chatter about such practices in some fraternities – there’s a good one on The Root website by Kasai Rex HERE.

Again I reiterate: legitimate Freemason lodges (especially the ones you will commonly hear of as being regular and recognized) do NOT engage in such practices. Masonic degrees are NEVER supposed to humiliate or punish or endanger our candidates. In fact, one of the first things you will be told upon entering the lodge for your first time is “Fear no danger.” This isn’t the time or place to drone on about origins and effects of rites of initiation, psychological preparation and transformation, debating bonds of fraternalism through shared experience vs. physical humiliation and adversity, etc., etc. But suffice it to say that Masonic degrees have their adopted roots in the oldest forms and traditions of hermeticism, not Boot Camp. And if a “Masonic” lodge asks you as a petitioner to sign a release or waiver form indemnifying them of all legal responsibility for your potential future injuries during your degrees, you should keep on hunting for a different lodge, unless that is REALLY the sort of experience you hope and expect to find. I usually don’t like slinging around accusations in the nature of saying a Masonic lodge is “doing it wrong,” but I sure as hell do in this type of scenario.

(Click to enlarge)