Sunday, May 28, 2006

BROTHER SAM HORNISH JR. WINS INDY 500



Brother Sam Hornish Jr won the 2006 Indy 500 today by 6/100ths of a second!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

THE MUNCIE TEMPLE

I had the honor of speaking to a small gathering last night of Delaware Lodge in Muncie, Indiana. The event was to honor their 50 year members, and the excellent dinner was held in Muncie's beautiful Roberts Hotel. WM Tim Brinkmeyer also invited Senior Grand Warden Jeffrey Zaring and his wife Margie for the evening, and it was truly outstanding. The dinner was the highest quality, the surroundings were elegant, befitting the honors being presented. Everyone had a wonderful time. Everyone who came.

But what I saw after dinner gave me a long, sleepless night. The Muncie Masonic Temple is without question one of the most beautiful and majestic ever constructed for the fraternity. It was built largely by the gifts of the Ball family, creators of the Ball jar, and the patrons of Ball State University. The temple association sold the building in 1999, and today the first two floors are operated as a community center by the Cornerstone Center. The third floor remains home to two Masonic lodges, an OES chapter, and a Job's Daughter's Bethel. A new DeMolay Chapter is getting underway in the old Red Cross room, and the old Commandery asylum is there as well. But it is the two lodge rooms that literally take your breath away. The identical rooms are decorated with massive hand-painted murals depicting Old Testament scenes. The rooms are painted in a rich golden-ochre scheme, and are without the question the most beautiful I've ever seen anywhere in the world. The third floor of the Muncie Temple is one of the greatest treasures of Indiana Freemasonry, and few people know it. If the students of Ball State knew it, the college men would be lining up in droves to join. And if the Muncie Temple Association would start thinking like new members, perhaps they could see it with a fresh outlook and realize that this place must be saved at any cost. To let this majestic place simply wither and die from apathy, or worse, inaction and stubbornness, would be a disgrace.

We don't have too many lodges. We have too many buildings. There are at least seven lodges in Delaware County. Instead of everyone paying to keep up five different buildings, why aren't they pooling their resources to preserve the best and most centrally located facility? As numbers decrease, we can no longer sustain a lodge building in every neighborhood.

More important, this is a rare moment in time when the new public awareness of Freemasonry, a university town, a large group of young men and fate could all collide to protect and grow these downtown lodges. The is no reason why Muncie Freemasonry should not flourish with Ball State University right in its midst. One or two lodge officers can't do it alone. Their lodges need to act, and act fast.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

LODGE VITRUVIAN

A small but enthusiastic group was on hand to pass our lodge's Entered Apprentice to the Fellow Craft degree tonight. My friend and brother Eric Schmitz was outstanding in his role of Senior Deacon and the giver of the Middle Chamber lecture. My sincere thanks to all of you for your efforts. Lodge was great, and dinner at Capri was even better. May heaven smile upon Arturo DiRosa and his fine establishment.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

GRAND LODGE IS DEAD! LONG LIVE GRAND LODGE!


The Grand Lodge Annual Communication for 2006 has ended after two days, in a session that was mostly harmless. It's always great to see old friends every year, and attach names with faces after prolonged internet communication. Congratulations on the end of a successful, if painful, year for now Past Grand Master Dennis T. Herrell. He is certainly one of the kindest and gentlest men I have ever had the privilege of knowing.



Best wishes to the new Grand Master of Masons in Indiana, Most Worshipful Brother James Barkdull.

The biggest surprise I have had in recent memory came from Past Grand Commander of Knights Templar of Indiana Lawrence V. Kaminsky. I wrote, produced and narrated a video program for the Indiana Grand Commandery last winter, and it has apparently been very popular and well received, not just in Indiana, but around the country. Unfortunately, I was in Tennessee when the Grand Commandery was in session last month. So I was more than a little shocked and astonished that Larry stopped me at Grand Lodge yesterday and presented me with the Distinguished Service Medal of the Knights Templar. It is truly a great honor and privilege for me to receive this award, one I certainly do not feel qualified to have earned. I was, for once in my life, speechless.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS MASTER'S AND WARDENS and a LESSON IN FREEDOM

I had the honor of addressing the Actual Masters & Wardens Association of Indianapolis last night at Prospect Lodge #715 on Indianapolis' south side. Prospect has a great facility, and what is believed to be one of the largest lodge rooms in the state. They also have the very unique collection of custom lodge furniture and appointments of Irvington Lodge #666, with whom they merged several years ago.

Thanks to the brethren and their wives who came out. It was a great turnout, and I thank everyone for their hospitality, especially Jack Cummings of Englewood #715 who presided over the meeting, Secretary Bill Pike who I've known for several years, and of course, Prospect's Master Frank Capler and Senior Warden Jim Gaither. Joe Smith and the OES ladies provided a terrific turkey dinner, and the members of Prospect Lodge have a wonderful Temple. They also have one of the most incredible lineups of upcoming programs I've seen in any lodge. Trips to Canada. Back and forth visits with English brethren. Bus excursions. And a steady slate of new candidates. A busy lodge is a popular lodge, and the Prospect Masons have figured that out.

After the meeting, I drove through downtown and stopped in at Murat Shrine where the NexGen club was having a party. This is a club within the Shrine in Indianapolis of men under 45 (with a couple of notable "Old Fart Emeriti" thrown in), but the party was open to all.

The most excited guy in the room was a Mason in his late sixties, maybe early seventies. He was an emigre from Transylvania, Romania in 1965, and a man who knew very well what it was like living under a strict Communist dictatorship. He told me the most curious thing. He had first heard about Freemasonry in Tolstoy's "War and Peace," and like Tolstoy's Pierre, he wanted very much to become a Mason. But Freemasonry was outlawed at that time in Romania.

When he came to America, the first thing he did was to join a lodge. Why?

Because it was a symbol for him of freedom.

Because Freemasonry can only exist in a free country.

We take so much for granted.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sunday, May 07, 2006

DOCTOR MOM

My parents are very talented, special people, from whom I have inherited only a fraction of their abilities. My mother is a uniquely accomplished woman. She has raised six children from three marriages. She has traveled the world. She has done more to quietly help her community than anyone I personally know, and she is the embodiment of Matthew 6.1:

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.


She was rewarded yesterday by Indianapolis' Marian College with the degree of Master of Humane Letters, making her an honorary Ph.D. Which, of course, now makes her Doctor Mom. The commencement program read:

Norma Winkler is a community leader who has a long history of helping Marian College. Following the death of her husband, Elmer, who was president of Rock Island Refining Corporation and a Marian College trustee, she established the Elmer L. Winkler Scholarship Fund. She and her stepson, Michael, were instrumental in starting the first Indiana State Fair train. She has also been active in the Catholic Church and served on the boards of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, St. Mary’s Child Center, and St. Luke Parish Council. She is a member of the Heartland Film Festival board of directors.


I don't know who wrote that blurb, but it barely scratches the surface. She does not sound her own trumpet.

Showing her further Knowledge of All Things, she even picked the winner of the Kentucky Derby.

It was a great day yesterday. For the first time in seven years, our entire family was reunited for the occasion.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Tennessee Masons

I am in Knoxville, Tennessee this week shooting commercials, and had a last minute chance to visit South Knoxville Lodge #769. Many thanks to the brethren and their fine hospitality, and especially to WM Monroe Marcum.