Friday, February 29, 2008

Bisextilis Annus? Again already?

Made you look.

It's February 29th, the one day every four years that we get to be reminded that it is indeed Leap Year. So happy Bisextile Day.

And a tip o' the birthday balloon hat to all those born on February 29th. Celebrate your bisextile orientation with vigor, aplomb and medicinal spirits.

Grand Lodge of Indiana UK Trip

The Grand Lodge of Indiana will sponsor a trip to Great Britain on September 25 - October 4, 2008.

It should be a great trip - 10 days in England, Scotland, and Wales, with lots of sightseeing, good hotels, and planned Masonic heritage visits to the Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and Rosslyn Chapel, plus York, Bath, bristol, the Cotswolds, and Stratford Upon Avon.

See the official brochure here.

The good news is there is still time to make reservations, but not much time.

Official hosts on the trip will be Jeffrey P. Zaring, Deputy Grand Master, and his lady Margie. Please email Jeff with any questions you might have: dgm@indianafreemasons.com

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Grand Master of Russia Running For President

If you believe things haven't changed in Russia, think again. Oh, sure, ex-KGB strongman Vladimir Putin will still be running things, even after his constitutional term limit as president ends this year. But the Proletariat still has to march to the polls and pull the lever for a new puppet head of state. Putin's handpicked fave is Dmitry Medvedev. Also in the race are perennial candidates - think Ralph Nader and Pat Paulsen for the borsht and vodka crowd: nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who once pledged "a man for every woman and a bottle of vodka for every man"; and Gennady Zyuganov, the head of the Communist Party, who's always flacking for free tractors for farmers on the mooch. But the fourth name on the ballot is different this time.

Meet Andrey Bogdano. At 38, he is third out of the field of presidential candidates in Russia right now (sort of where Hillary Clinton sits in the polls, but Bogdano has a better hair stylist). He is the head of the Russian Democratic Party, a fierce advocate of Russia's integration into Europe, and in a society where it is clearly understood that Dmitry Medvedev is to be the next president, no matter what the polls may say, Bogdano still managed to assemble 2 million signatures to register on the ballot.

He is also the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Russia.

According to the Washington Post:
Bogdanov says he hopes one day to unite Russia's democrats under the banner of his party, which he emphasizes is not liberal but conservative, along the lines of the U.S. Republican Party.

Bogdanov heads Russia's largest Masonic lodge but doesn't like to talk about it. Pressed during the debate, he described it as a "super-patriotic organization."


MWBro. Bogdanov is a democrat is a country where democracy has no real credibility. And more than a few Russians think Freemasonry is a Western plot, designed to weaken Russia from within. Like it needs help. Other critics say that Bogdanov was simply allowed on the ballot to make Medvedev's coronation look like a fair fight. Some wags claim he was put on the ballot so the Kremlin could then single him out as an easy target for his often-derided long hair, and his supposed role in Masonic conspiracies - always whispered, of course, but never said outright.

Bogdanov was elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Russia in June 2007. The grand lodge was chartered by the Grande Loge Nationale Française in June 1995. Asked about his Freemasonry, Bogdanov said he keeps it away from politics.

"For me, it's more about being a member of a spiritual brotherhood than anything else," he said. While he has declined to discuss it further, he has said he would remain a Freemason if he's elected.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley Jr., R.I.P.

There has never been anyone quite like WFB. I’ve been slowly savoring his book, “Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription,” made up of notes and asides from the decades at National Review, for the last few weeks. What makes it special is that it is a glimpse into his head, stretched across fifty years of the magazine and ‘Firing line,’ which I was, alas, too young to have seen in its prime. In his lifetime he supported or sparred with some of the greatest political minds of the 20th century.

As a side note, I was something of my parents walking party gag as a 12 year old. They’d trot me out at parties to do my list of awful impressions, shamelessly mimicked from David Frey albums. Nixon, LBJ, Ed Sullivan, Teddy Kennedy - all the standard schtick. But I did WFB, not having the slightest idea who he was, based on David Frey’s version of his voice. I had to look up new words for every party because it got the biggest laugh to hear my goofy kid voice trying to sound like Buckley, warbling out lugubrious, concatonated, salubrious, pernicious perfidy, and caucus.

Buckley was born in Connecticut, but lived as a child in Texas, where his family spoke nothing but Spanish. They moved to France, and they spoke nothing but French. They moved to Britain when he was something like 10, where he finally learned English from the English. Buckley served in WWII, and then attended Yale where he was indeed a member of Skull & Bones.

After Yale, he did a stint in the CIA in Mexico City. In 1955, he started National Review at the age of 30, with the purpose of "“standing athwart history yelling Stop.”

While critics of the Conservative Movement liked to present him as a jackbooted ideologue of the Right, Buckley was no conformist or mouthpiece. he was always his own man. When National Review started, WFB was a lone, sane voice in a sea of liberal media on the Left, and wacked out groups like the John Birch Society on the Right. It was Buckley who led the way in crafting an appeal for Ronald Reagan's presidency from what became commonly referred to as "Reagan Democrats."

And yeah, for the conspiratorial believers out there, he regularly attended the Bohemian Grove, where he was known to give outdoor concerts on the harpsichord.

He criticized the war in Iraq, and he was a strong advocate of decriminalizing drug use and legalizing marijuana. He was known to sail his yacht out past the US territorial limit so he could share a joint with friends. No Republican was just handed an endorsement. He wrote two columns a week for decades, and more than 50 books, along with helming National Review for more than 40 years. At 82, he died at work in his study, fulfilling my hopes for my own obituary, containing the words "sudden," "massive," and "slumped."

Not a bad way to go. He'll be sorely missed in Hodapphaüs.

Accidental Leak Blows 2008 Election Result

"If you can't trust your shadowy overlords to keep a secret, what is the purpose of voting in a public democracy>?"

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Does Your Grand lodge Allow Alcohol In Lodge Buildings?


I'm researching this subject and need as much information as you are able to provide: does your Grand Lodge allow alcohol in your lodge buildings?

1. Under what circumstances? Table lodge only? Outside rentals? No restrictions? Some restrictions? Non-Masonic gatherings? Please explain as clearly as possible, and please let me know your state.

2. If possible, can you provide the exact wording of your jurisdiction's alcohol regulations?

3. If rules against alcohol have been recently lifted or modified in your jurisdiction, can you provide the exact wording of the resolution that achieved this?

4. Have there been any problems in your jurisdiction concerning the serving of alcohol in lodge buildings?

Feel free to respond to me privately at hodapp@aol.com

Thanks in advance.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Brother Philippe Benhamou's New Books


Philippe Benhamou and my cherubic self in Paris


Friend and brother Phillippe Benhamou, the translator and co-author of the French version of Freemasons For Dummies (Franc-maçonnerie Pour Les Nouls) has been busy over the last year. He was a consultant for the French version of Jeremy Harwood's Secret History of Freemasonry (La franc-maçonnerie : Rites, codes, signes, images, objets, symboles...).

And he has written an original work, Les grandes énigmes de la franc-maçonnerie (The Great Enigmas of Freemasonry). Both are due on shelves this month.

Congratulations, my brother!

Thanks To Kentucky Brethren

Many, many thanks - belated by a week - to the brethren of Kentucky for inviting me to speak at their lodge leadership training course in Louisville last Saturday. Thanks especially to Wbro. John Cauley, chairman of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky's Ecucation Committee, for asking me to come down. John's wife gave birth to their first baby just three days before, and he told me he hadn't slept all week. Hopefully my speech gave him a good, solid 30 minutes of deep sleep.

And my deepest gratitude is to the many brethren who attended and gave me such a generous welcome.

Friday, February 22, 2008

All-male gatherings making a comeback

The Seattle Times reports that guys are getting together on a regular basis for all-male outings and evenings.

Gee. No foolin'.

According to the article:

Guys-only gatherings -- from informal poker nights to organized Rat Pack-esque Vegas vacations -- are nothing new. But after years of being out of favor, they're finding a renewed respectability among younger men and businesses anxious to market to them.

Travel agencies have begun promoting guys-only vacations -- or "mancations" -- to places such as Mexico and Hawaii. Last summer, a few guys from Avedesian's poker night took their first all-male vacation together. Now they plan "to make the mancation an annual tradition," Avedesian says.

Last month, a Seattle group called "Guys Night Out" organized a steak-and-scotch dinner for men to raise money for charity. And Spike TV has successfully traded on the appeal of programming designed by guys, for guys.
. . .

Even when it seemed that fraternal orders would become extinct as their members died off, the organizations are now drawing a younger generation.

After male-only clubs and organizations went out of favor in the 1970s and '80s (some, such as the International Rotary Club and Lions Clubs, began accepting female members; others disbanded altogether), a cottage industry began to form around newfound "girl power." Books, party favors and board games all hit the shelves, encouraging women to form women-only groups. The girls' night out moved in just as the guys' night out moved out.

Today, all-female groups outnumber all-male groups. Dr. Warren Farrell, co-author of "Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men?" and one-time professor at the University of California and Georgetown University, says that ratio is as high as 100 female groups to every 1 male group.

Given those sorts of statistics, it's not surprising that the social pendulum is beginning to swing back, clearing the way for advertisers and a new generation of men to reclaim the guys' night out.

"The mere presence of a woman in a group of heterosexual men changes the entire energy," says Dr. Robert Glover, a Bellevue, Wash.-based therapist and author of "No More Mr. Nice Guy."
. . .

When you take out that X-factor -- or, rather, the XX-chromosome factor -- "there's suddenly no need to get approval. Men don't need to censor themselves around other men. It's freeing," Glover says.

It's also therapeutic, says Farrell, who has debated men's issues on CNN News, ABC's "20/20" and "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

"Most men rely on the women in their lives for emotional support," he says. "That's good. But there are some aspects of the male experience that women can't relate to. For those things, men benefit from talking with other men."



Brethren, the stars are aligning for us. Freemasonry is poised to make a big comeback.

Provided our lodges are ready for them.

Washington Masonic Memorial Presents Award Saturday 2/23/08

On Saturday, February 23, in commemoration of George Washington’s 276th birthday, the George Washington Masonic Memorial will present the 2nd Annual George Washington Memorial Award to James C. Rees, Executive Director of Mount Vernon.

The award program was created in 2007 to honor individuals who have promoted the virtues, character and vision of George Washington. Rees received the award for his book, George Washington’s Leadership Lessons. Rees will give a talk on Washington prior to the presentation and will host a book signing afterward. (Books will be available for purchase.)

Honorable William D. Euille, mayor of Alexandria, will participate in this final event of the city’s month-long George Washington Birthday Celebration. Other distinguished guests and speakers will include Sharon Sobel, Chair of the George Washington Birthday Celebration Committee; Michael Brumback, President of the George Washington Masonic Memorial Association; George Seghers, Executive Director of the Memorial Association; and the Grand Master of Masons from Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

The event will begin at 2 p.m. in the Memorial Theater. A reception will be held in Grand Masonic Hall after the program to include toasts, refreshments, birthday cake, musical entertainment and fellowship. The event is free and open to the public.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Jedi Knight Academy Opens In England

George Lucas' Star Wars franchise has had enough worldwide influence over the last 30 years (Geez, am I old!) that it was inevitable, I suppose, for a new "religion" to be created out of its pop culture philosophy. The UK Church of the Jedi has been up and running for some time (its symbol looks curiously like an intergalactic fishhook). Now two members have created a Jedi Knight Academy in Britain.

Based on the widely circulated Jedi Handbook, the pair is touting the group as an alternative religion. According to The Register:

The plan is the brainchild of Daniel Jones, aka Morda Helol, and bruv Barney (Jonba Hehol) who helped start the first UK branch of the "church" in their native Anglesey and have now set their sights on a Home Counties community hall for the centre of the UK's first Jedi academy.

Leading the worship will be 21-year-old Master Ajec, who has not revealed his real name, according to local press reports. Accolytes will be expected to have a copy of the aforementioned code before attending chapter meetings at which they'll either wear Obi-Wan Kenobiesque robes or the black trousers and black t-shirt which make up Jedi civvies.

Morda Helol explained: "We are not extremists, we are not psychotics and we are not a cult. This is a treatment plan to better your life. It is exploiting the best parts of your life. You can follow it completely or at you own pace. We open our doors to anyone."

Training to become a Jedi Master can apparently take up to two years, during which time disciples will have to master the lightsaber, study technology, martial arts and meditation and "learn the importance of neuro-linguistic programming" - something which is reckoned to act as a substitute for Jedi mind-control powers.

According to Mr Helol, he's had offers from Brazil, France, Spain and the US to establish similar chapters. He declared: "This is going worldwide."


According to another article in the Welsh press, singer Charlotte Church might be a potential donor to the project, although the inflated hyperbole sounds like it has more hot air than light.
“There are 12 different things which are taught by the Church, but people learn about each stage as they progress,” said 21-year-old musician and minister of the Anglesey Order, Daniel.

“A person starts off as an apprentice. He or she receives the Jedi book of teachings and must pass an exam to become a Padawan, which is the next stage in becoming a Jedi. We see it as educational.

“If Charlotte Church joined us, she would be sent our Jedi Handbook, which she would have to study in order to pass the first Jedi exam, and she would also be advised to go and buy a light sabre and a black robe. We can’t give out free light sabres to everyone who wants to join, but we might send one to Charlotte.”
. . .

“We started practising the teachings from what we found on the internet, but they were lacking in structure, so we decided to make our own proper website and thought we would try to get some members,” said Daniel.

“We have one church in Surrey where we use a building for weekly sermons and are waiting for another in Holyhead.”
The Jedi Church has 400,000 members worldwide. The Anglesey Order currently has a congregation of 30 and the word is spreading.

“In the beginning, only our friends were in the congregation, but it is growing as we find more like-minded people,” says Daniel.

“We have no deity – no God as such – but we do have our own scriptures and modern, down-to-earth sermons which people can relate to. And of course we always say: ‘May the Force be with you’.

“Our church services last for a couple of hours. We have essays on the Force submitted by our members which are read out, followed by a sermon and discussion.

“Every member of the congregation has an input. We also have classes, such as self defence using light sabres.”


400,000 members? Really. Hey, if L. Ron Hubbard can con Scientologists out of their hard earned cash to eventually find out the truth about Xenu, more power to these guys. If you're going to invent a space opera religion, at least the Star Wars guys have better source material. Even if Jar Jar Binks is involved.

Washington Dinner at Lynhurst Lodge, Indianapolis

I'll be speaking to the brothers of Lynhurst Lodge #723 on Saturday, February 23, at their Washington's Birthday dinner.
Dinner begins at 6:00PM. Thanks to Wbro. Terry Turner for his kind invitation.

8th Annual California Masonic Symposium - August 22-23

The Grand Lodge of California, the California Masonic Foundation and the Institute for Masonic Studies are sponsoring the 2008 Annual California Masonic Symposium "Freemasonry and Women" on August 22-23 at the Brotherhood Masonic Center in San Francisco:

Many Masons would be surprised to learn of the diverse roles played and varied contributions made by women in our fraternity’s history. Join distinguished members and scholars from across the country as they explore “Freemasonry and Women”. This year’s presenters include Dr. John L. Cooper III, Grand Secretary and noted Masonic scholar; Janet Wintermute, Master Mason of the Eastern Order of International Co-Masonry; and a distinguished panel of guests. The evening’s featured speaker and Henry Wilson Coil Lecturer for 2008 will be Brother Robert G. Davis, author of Understanding Manhood in America: Freemasonry’s Enduring Path to the Mature Masculine.

Registration form can be downloaded here.

Just to cheer for the Indiana team, Janet Wintermute is an Indianapolis girl, and a graduate of Broad Ripple High School, just down the road from our lodge.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It's Masonic Book Day

It must be Masonic Book day. And nobody even told me.

The post brought two surprises today. The first was the selection of the Masonic Book Club for 2008, "The Antiquities Of Freemasonry," an 1855 volume by the Reverend George Oliver. The Club puts out one hardback, numbered book annually. Membership in the club is limited to 1,500 members.

For more information, send your request for membership to the Masonic Book Club c/o Robin Carr, Secretary, 1811 Hoover Drive, Normal IL 61761-2202 along with a check for $15 US & Canada/$20 for members in other countries. There is no electronic contact. Just send in your money and wait with patience. There is generally no contact for a long time, then a book just magically appears.

The other surprise was the bonus book for the Scottish Rite Research Society. "Masonic Clothing And Regalia: British and Continental," a lavish reprint of an 1897 volume by Fred J. W. Crowe. Beautifully illustrated with 36 color plates, it was the first of its kind when published, and extremely rare (and expensive!) to find today. Past gems from the SRRS have included rare works by Albert Pike, the impressive history "Valley Of The Craftsmen" and other hidden gems from the library of the House of the Temple. The $45 annual dues also includes the annual hardbound collection of SRRS papers, Heredom, and quarterly editions of the Society's newsletter, The Plumbline.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Mike Ilitch's Olympia Entertainment To Manage Detroit Masonic Temple


After months of being sworn to secrecy, the announcement is now official:

February 18, Detroit News: Mike Ilitch-owned Olympia Entertainment is expected to announce today or Tuesday that it has taken over management of the Masonic Temple under a deal aimed at expanding his family's sports and entertainment empire and saving the tax-delinquent landmark, which faces foreclosure March 1.

The deal gives Olympia Entertainment a bigger piece of the local concert and performance industry --and rescues an imperiled architectural gem that owes $123,455 in delinquent property taxes, according to the Wayne County Treasurer's office.

"It's a good deal for the masons, it's a good deal for Ilitch --he's going to make a bunch of money --and it's a good deal for us because we have a home and don't have to worry about taxes," Masonic Temple Association President Bill Betz said.
...
Ilitch, a pizza baron who along with wife Marian owns Little Caesars Pizza, the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings, has created a sprawling sports and entertainment district along Woodward, south of Interstate 75, that includes Comerica Park, the Fox Theatre, Hockeytown Cafe and the potential site of a new Joe Louis Arena. His wife's separately owned MotorCity Casino is a few blocks west of the Masonic Temple.
. . .
The 14-story Masonic Temple opened in 1926 and was considered by some the region's entertainment epicenter. It has hosted a vast roster of rock stars and Broadway musicals, from the White Stripes to "Wicked" in either its 1,600-seat theater or the 4,400-seat Main Theatre, only slightly smaller than downtown's Fox Theatre, which has some 5,000 seats.
. . .

Under the deal, the Masonic Temple Association will continue to own the landmark while Olympia will manage all of the facility's commercial operations, book shows and concerts.

The deal also is expected to generate enough cash for temple owners to stave off property foreclosure, and pay off unpaid taxes dating to 2005. A $27,326 delinquent water and sewer bill was paid Jan. 28, according to the city.
. . .

Olympia and the Masons have been negotiating for more than one year.

Betz did not disclose the financial details or say when the deal was signed, but said the long-term lease runs for more than five years "and less than 20."

The 14 lodges that meet at the temple will continue to do so and all bills will be paid by Olympia, Betz said.

"As far as the lodges are concerned, nothing changes," Betz said.



The Masonic Temple is the perfect anchor facility if the Ilitches wind up buying the vast un-developed tracts in what is known as the Cass Corridor around the facility to build a new rink for the Red Wings. Moreover, this is fantastic news for the largest Masonic building in the world. As I understand the deal, since the Scottish Rite and the Shrine have moved out of their parts of the building, the blue lodges and the York Rite bodies will retain all of their rooms and facilities intact in the tower, with the codicil that Olympia can rent out those areas when lodges are not using them. Not like there's a shortage of other spaces in the 1,000 or more rooms. There is talk of developing the Shrine wing into apartments, condos or a hotel.

If you've never had the chance to visit the Detroit Masonic Temple, make the effort to go. It is the most amazing Masonic structure you will ever see. And thank the GAOTU for visionary community leaders like Mike Ilitch who saw much more than just a parking lot.

Sitting in Henry Ford's chair, enjoying a cigar, while gazing out of the Temple over Detroit.

MSA- Appeal For Relief For Tennessee


THE MASONIC SERVICE ASSOCIATION OF NORTH AMERICA

February 14, 2008

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Richard E. Fletcher, Phone: 301-588-4010

APPEAL FOR RELIEF — TENNESSEE

The Grand Lodge of Tennessee is asking for assistance to help them recover from the tornadoes that struck on February 5, 2008. Damage was extensive and loss of life was very high. In fact, the Grand Lodge of Tennessee tells us that at least 5 of their members were killed in this devastating storm. Help in their recovery is urgent.

Please forward to the MSA such funds as you feel appropriate to help our devastated Brethren and their families in this stricken jurisdiction. Please make checks payable to the MSA Disaster Relief Fund and send to 8120 Fenton Street, Ste. 203, Silver Spring, MD 20910-4785.

Thank you very much for your help!

Most sincerely and fraternally,

RICHARD E. FLETCHER, PGM
Executive Secretary

Sunday, February 17, 2008

White House Architect and Freemason James Hoban

The White House Historical Association and the United States Capitol Historical Society are commemorating the 250th anniversary of the birth of Freemason James Hoban with a free symposium. The Irish-born Hoban, born in County Kilkenney and trained in Dublin, was selected to design the President’s House in 1792. Presentations will examine Hoban as federal architect and local civic and church leader; Irish artisans in early 19th-century Washington; and residential styles and construction in the nation’s capital, 1790–1830.

THURSDAY, MARCH 13, 2008, 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM at the Stephen Decatur House Museum in Washington DC.

While the symposium is unlikely to mention Hoban's Masonic connections, he's an important figure in the early Freemasonry of the Federal City. Hoban had based his design on Leinster House, a palace in Dublin, Ireland, but George Washington would take great interest in the details and décor of the building. In fact, it has been claimed that Washington surveyed the property and laid out the boundary stakes for the building himself.

The Masonic connection between the White House, its Irish inspiration and the Freemasons is a curious one. Built in 1745, Leinster House was originally the Dublin residence of the 20th Earl of Kildare, James Fitzgerald. The earl had married well, and was rewarded for his auspicious coupling with the title of Duke of Leinster by King George III in 1766. As it turns out, the Duke was also the founding Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland. Curiously, there is a legend that the Knights Templar had been asked in 1204 to organize banking houses in Dublin from their commandery at Templemore on Ireland's southern coast. They had been invited by James Fitzgerald’s ancestor, Maurice Fitz-Gerald.

On Saturday, October 13th, 1792, a procession of Masons formed at the Fountain Inn in Georgetown and marched to the site of the excavated foundation of the new President’s House in the Federal City. Oddly enough, it was 485 years to the day that King Phillip IV had the Knights Templar arrested simultaneously all over France, marking the beginning of the excommunication and dissolving of the Templar order.

The barest outlines of roads were still being cleared through the dense forest when the Freemasons laid the cornerstone of the first federal building in town without much public fanfare. Hoban himself was an Irish Catholic and a member of Georgetown Lodge No. 9. He took part in the ceremonial laying of the cornerstone, and became the founding Master of Federal Lodge No. 15 the following year.

The cornerstone of the President’s House was placed in the southwest corner of the foundation. The traditional Masonic ceremony was used, and it was presided over by Maryland Lodge No. 9’s Master, Peter Casanave. A brass plate was placed under the stone, which read,

"This first stone of the President's House was laid the 12th day of October
1792, and in the 17th Year of the Independence of the United States of America."

George Washington, President
Thomas Johnson,
Doctor Stewart,
Daniel Carroll, Commissioners
James Hoban, Architect
Collen Williamson, Master Mason
Vivat Respublica.


Hoban would work in the Federal City for another forty years. When the British burned the President’s House in 1814, he assisted in its reconstruction. In addition, he would go on to help establish the first Catholic church in the city – St. Patrick's, in 1792 – and in 1820 served on the committee to erect St. Peter's Church on Capitol Hill. It was a curious dichotomy, since Pope Clement XII had issued an encyclical, "In Eminenti," in 1738 threatening Catholics who became Masons with excommunication.

In spite of what has been claimed elsewhere, Washington himself was not present at the cornerstone ceremony, nor did he ever live in the house. John and Abigail Adams were the first “First Couple” to inhabit the President’s House. They lived there for only four months before Thomas Jefferson took office.

The White House has seen many other additions and remodelings over the last two centuries. When Thomas Jefferson moved in, he was still jealous over his own design being snubbed by the original committee, so he sent Hoban packing to another office across town, and brought in his own favored architect, Freemason Benjamin Latrobe, to make changes. Latrobe altered the interior (including the addition of a wine cellar) and planned the addition of the north and south porticos. After the building was burned by British troops in 1814, it was James Hoban who supervised its reconstruction, faithful to Jefferson’s changes.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Masonic Week Report by Jay Hochberg

Alice, Wiley and I were at Masonic Week in Alexandria, Virginia last week. It's always an amazing gathering of brethren - old and new friends, alike. Many, many thanks to everyone who stopped by the table and chatted.

I had started a long description of the event, when I came across WBro. Jay Hochberg's description of the festivities on the Masonic Light Yahoo Group. He managed to get to far more events and secret parties than I did, so with his kind permission, I reprint his report here.

Thanks, Jay.



Masonic Week (one man’s opinion) by Jay Hochberg

A truly wonderful weekend! It's the "perfect storm" of fraternity: Simultaneously I'm in the company of familiar New Jersey and New York Masons who I get to see pretty frequently in normal circumstances; then there are those from elsewhere in the country I only get to see once in a while; and then there's the chance to meet longtime penpals and others for the first time. The "perfect storm" is having members of all three groups in one hospitality suite... teaching MW Frank Haas how to safely drink absinthe!

It really was a weekend of singular occurrences like that. But if there was a theme unifying the spirit of the event, I suppose that theme would be "change." Perhaps it's the vapid rhetoric of our country's current presidential election season, in which "change" is the hollow mantra, but in many a conversation among brethren who hadn't even necessarily met before, "change" was on many lips.

It's hard to reconcile the two realities: Here we had very active Masons from many jurisdictions sharing their firsthand experiences in how their lodges are transforming. Though thousands of miles apart in some cases, the brethren were oddly in sync with the ideas of "Laudable Pursuit" or the Masonic Restoration Foundation or whatever clearing house of ideas that evidently is fueling renewal in Freemasonry in the United States. On the other hand, we're all floating in an ocean of old white guys bedecked in the colorful regalia of unusual little Masonic orders that the average Mason will never hear of, but who themselves seemed only slightly aware. Reflecting on the sight of many men in their scarlet gowns of Masonic Rosicrucianism, one experienced brother whose judgment is unquestionable noted how he didn't see any actual Rosicrucianism. But then of course that's emblematic of what need be changed.

I checked in late Thursday afternoon, just in time to clean myself up and get to Gadsby's Tavern for a very special dinner: The Annual Feast and Forum of the Knights of the North! Actually that's just the jokey name for it. The dinner was arranged by the Master and Wardens of a very historic lodge in the area who invited six KOTNs and several others for a very fine meal and discussion on where all this "change" in Masonry is headed.

I'll have to be a politician and not reveal details of this meeting, so I won't say more, except to sing the praises of Gadsby's Tavern. Really superb food and service in an atmosphere that is warmly embracing. You don't get the feeling you're in a historic place as much as you feel like you're part of ongoing history. It ain't cheap, but definitely worth it. The building is the site where George Washington's lodge met. Beautiful neighborhood too.

After dinner, a return to the hotel was fortuitously timed. We stepped out of the Dummiesmobile to be greeted by the tolling of what must have been hundreds of church bells. Clanging, bonging, gonging, thundering church bells! I imagine Paris must have been like that in the summer of '44.

Okay, that's merely the way my imagination remembers it. What really happened was we bumped into an officer of a certain self-described Masonic research society, who informed us that change (there's that word again!) was in the works for this society. The hope is to bring the society back from the dead by welcoming the long overdue retirements of several of its leaders, returning the society to its stated mission of researching and educating, and ending the political incompetence that resulted in the society actually being banned from both AMD Weekend and the hotel itself. But that's just me editorializing. I used to be a respectful member of this society, so it is hard to be dispassionate.

(And no, this is not a green light to discuss this troubled nameless society here, so please refrain.)


Friday, Feb. 8

The Grand Council of Knight Masons held its annual meeting with Great Chief's Council "0" doing its thing too. It was a pleasure witnessing the initiations of a new class. There's no substitute for receiving the degrees in your own council, but sometimes you have to take what's available. Congratulations to our very own Glen Cook and Bill Thomas, our new cousins!

At the 64th Annual Consistory of the Society of Blue Friars, an organization of Masonic authors, Grand Abbot Brent Morris opened the meeting and introduced the newest member: Gary H. Leazer of Georgia, Friar No. 97.

Bro. Leazer is probably the foremost authority on the subject of Freemasonry's rocky relationship with some Protestant denominations in the United States. Once a leader in the Southern Baptist Convention, he had been tapped by the elders to define Freemasonry and explain its compatibility with Christianity for the benefit of the congregation. When his report found no Masonic incompatibility with the faith, he was relieved of his responsibilities. I wonder where they stand on heliocentricity.

(The Grand Abbot happened to mention how the Mt. Vernon historical site will open an exhibit in 2011 that'll spotlight the role of Freemasonry in Washington's life. This is significant because Mt. Vernon is a public venue, and not a Craft venue.)

Then it was time for Sister Janet's 12th annual luncheon! For better or worse the only place to eat in or anywhere near the hotel is the Finn & Porter Restaurant. Very good food, but because the hotel is isolated in a corporate campus type of environment with no other commercial activity in convenient proximity, the Finn & Porter is your only choice without driving somewhere. And they realize this: pretty small portions and New York City prices. But very good food, for the most part, and a great atmosphere. (I had the "fish and chips": one piece of tilapia with four steak fries. I think next time I'll pull a Robert Benchley and have the scrambled eggs.)

As reported earlier, it took a while to get everyone seated, but there was a good sized ML contingent plus a number of others. I'll refer you to Janet's post of Friday evening.

I think it was at this lunch when MWBro. Glen Cook, Grand Master of Utah, kind of became the unheralded star of the weekend. Sorry to put you on the spot Glen, but for a great many of us, Masonic reformation is in the "think tank" stage, so if we were staring at you like slack-jawed idiots while you described the many improvements you're introducing to your jurisdiction....

Remember the scene in "2001" when the apes learned how to "work with tools?" It was that kind of a moment for some of us.

But even this doesn't tell the whole story, and it ain't my place to tell the whole story neither. Glen, if you wish, the floor is yours.

Later in the day it was finally time for an AMD meeting. None of the degrees were worked this year, but a number of qualifying ceremonies were held. Bill Thomas and Chris Hodapp and the rest of the class are now Installed Masters of St. Lawrence the Martyr, Installed Supreme Rulers of the Secret Monitor, and Installed Commanders Noah of Royal Ark Mariners. So if you choose to wear all that bling, you're more entitled than most.

Surprising myself, I made that the final meeting of my day. There were more on the schedule, to be sure, but I was having more fun socializing. (Couldn't find a place to smoke though.) At my only previous AMD Weekend (2002), I made every effort to attend all the meetings I could because I thought that's where the action is. (What can I say? I was less experienced.)

This time I realized the mortar really is mixed and spread amid private conversations in the hotel rooms. Eventually a group of us wandered into a hospitality suite just in time to see Alton Roundtree and Paul Bessel being interviewed on camera to discuss their new book, titled http://bessel.org/phbook.htm">"Out of the Shadows."

It was a very smooth interview. You'd think these guys had been in the limelight for decades, the way they fielded the questions and gave very polished answers. That means they have mastered their subject. (I used to be in public relations, so I know these things.)

What do Trevor Stewart, the St. John's AYM delegation, KOFU's Dave Daughtry, Ted Hogan, David Lindez, one expelled grand master and a bunch of other guys have in common? They were inducted at 12:01 a.m. by Bro. Rashied into the Order of Sleepless Knights! (No dues, no regalia, no ritual and, evidently, no smoking.)

Drink and conversation took us to half past two in the morning. There were various discussions flowing in several directions, but the subject of Masons in America starting their meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance seemed to draw everyone together. Piers Vaughan related how unpleasantly shocked he was when newly arrived in America he encountered our flag salute in open, tiled lodge. They sing "God Save the Queen" back home at Festive Boards, he explained, but nothing of the kind in lodge. We took turns suggesting reasons for this:

• We've always done it that way;
• we started it during the McCarthy era to keep the FBI out of the lodge;
• we started it during the War to keep fascists out of the lodge;
• and finally Ted Hogan came to the rescue and suggested that the history of the U.S. and the history of Masonry in the U.S. are so intertwined that honoring the freedoms that make Masonry possible is a perfectly natural thing to do. (Ted, correct me if I didn't get that right.)

A round table discussion ensued touching on the role of nationalism in various parts of the Masonic world. My memory gets kind of fuzzy here. Someone mentioned the Rumanian Stasi. I blamed something on Charles DeGaulle. It was getting late.

MW Frank Haas, the former Past Grand Master of West Virginia, was intrigued by the enigmatic bottle of absinthe on the bar. He really ought to have consulted a Junior Warden because he proceeded to drink it straight until we realized what he was doing. I think it was one of the St. John's guys who mixed him a properly diluted glassful.


Saturday, Feb. 9

The good thing about annual meetings is they come but once a year. Otherwise I think I'd have a problem with walking into an 8:30 a.m. meeting of the Grand College of Rites. They call us members "Fellows."

This year's "Collectanea" is Part 3 of Volume 19: Degrees of the Antient & Primitive Rite of Masonry (27° - 33°).

I don't think I've ever before seen a truly blank stare until I asked the Fellow collecting our dues money if he'd ever been contacted by anyone from a jurisdiction that works these degrees.

It actually was a pretty interesting meeting. And they kept mentioning Aaron Shoemaker's name.

Now by this time the Masonic meetings had been moved to another room, where the American flag was conspicuously missing. (Naturally I suspected Piers.) After pledging my allegiance to someone's flag-themed necktie in two consecutive meetings, I'd had enough and instructed the front desk to send in a real flag. My modest contribution to Masonic Week.

The flag was brought to the next meeting, but not in time to prevent our saluting someone's lapel pin!

Anyway....

Nine Muses Council has two purposes, one of which is to present the Sovereign Master's paper. Fortunately for all, the Master was our own Robert Davis of Oklahoma.

Bro. Robert spoke on a theme related to his recent book "Understanding Manhood in America."

The blog:
http://tinyurl.com/2gadoq

The paper explains how Freemasonry can and must initiate males into manhood and transmit to young men the social honor and status that ought to define manhood. Robert's Fan Club (I'm treasurer) sat in the front row, and while we're not actually young anymore it nevertheless felt like he was speaking to us. He traced his own growth, using Wellins Calcott's thoughts on obedience and condescension (MM Charge) as the constant against which his evolving understanding and appreciation for those virtues were the variables. (Robert please correct me if I'm not getting it right, and feel free to share your paper!)

That definitely was the official highlight of the day, but the unexpected delight of Saturday was a quiet affair: lunch with Bro. Ted Berry. A terrific chat of more than an hour about our real lives and how the meaning of Masonry makes a difference. Ted is WM of Washington DC's Pythagoras Lodge of Research, and he'll be visiting New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education next month.

The Annual Meeting of the Grand Council of the AMD held a few pleasant surprises. For public consumption I'll only share that we voted unanimously to enter into a mutual recognition agreement with our British brethren as regards the Secret Monitor.

For those who do not know, Secret Monitor is part of the AMD in the United States, but in Britain (and elsewhere) it is an individual order. There are other differences evidently that prevented the British from recognizing what we do with the degree, but as of Saturday the U.S. recognizes their Order of the Secret Monitor, and on Nov. 13 they are expected to recognize our version. (This is especially exciting for me because my Council will confer this degree on July 26.)

Lessons learned:

As the next four (at least) Masonic Weeks will take place at this hotel, in the future I'll have to remember to:

1. Get there earlier.
2. Budget some time to get to the Birchmere!
3. And the House of the Temple.
4. Bring a notebook and camera so I can properly "report" to ML.
5. Insist on a room in the tower, and not in the Retreat.

That's another thing: People like me (cigar smokers) and the Hodapps (dog companions) get tucked away in the part of the hotel optimistically called The Retreat. Not really as in "sacred retreat of friendship and virtue," but an appendage to the main building that seemed pretty far away. Walking back and forth to the meetings was like that scene in "Goodfellas" when Henry Hill brings his date Dr. Melfi to the foot of the stage at the Jerry Vale show by way of the kitchen. And then once I actually got lost and found myself in the kitchen!

"Pretend you don't see her my heart...."

Met some more outstanding people:

Charles E. G. Toye of Toye, Kenning & Spencer.... the 323-year-old firm that is an official supplier of regalia to HRH Elizabeth II.

Bro. John Belton, of Internet Lodge fame, etc.

Bro. Mark E. Koltko-Rivera, a prolific writer determined to educate Masons. (I didn't have the heart to tell him.)

Bro. Doug Fegenbush, PGM of Indiana. If more Masons were like him, we’d have more Masons.

Mike Bayrak, Nathan Brindle, Andrew Hammer, Adam Kendall, Brian Patten, David Weinberg, Doug Wood and so many others.

There were tons of MLers there. I wish you guys would say something.

Jay Hochberg

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Templar Beachwear This Season

The new Sports Illustrated Swim Suit issue hit newsstands today. Indy driver Danica Patrick will undoubtedly get all of the big, noisy flacking from the press, but Masons can hold their heads up proudly as well - especially members of the Knights Templar. According to friend and brother Russ Spice in Detroit, who keeps his finger on the pulse of such things, on page 180, Brazilian model Daniella Sarahyba is wearing a topless swimsuit, posing coyly with a Knights Templar Chapeau.

Grand Commandery recruiting poster on its way...

William Sutton Lodge Finds New Home

The brethren of William Sutton Lodge in Saugus, Massachusetts have an enviable new home, as reported in the Saugus Advertiser. After 43 years in their previous location, they have moved to the upstairs assembly room of the local First Congregational Church.

Unlike so many lodges that move to steel pole barns in cornfields, the brethren of William Sutton Lodge have found a beautiful space that is enhanced by their antique furnishings. Congratulations, brethren, on your new home.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Grand Lodge of Ohio's Bicentennial Rolls On


The Grand Lodge of Ohio continues to get coverage throughout the state. From today's Zanesville Times Recorder:
Other events to be held throughout the year include a parade and reenactment of the cornerstone laying ceremony at the Statehouse in Columbus, set for June 21; the Ohio Special Olympics on June 27; a memorial ceremony at the grave of Rufus Putnam (the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ohio) in Marietta, scheduled for July 4; each district will put together a time capsule which will be buried Sept. 7 in Springfield on Ohio Masonic Home Day; and a public exhibition of historic Masonic artifacts to be displayed during the state convention in Columbus in October.

In addition, symbolic lanterns were commissioned for each district, which will be lit and passed from the oldest lodge to the next oldest lodge in each district until the "light" has passed through each lodge.


In the photo above, W:.B:. Chad Bonifield, Master of Amity Lodge, left, and W:.B:. Aaron French, Master of La Fayette Lodge, pass their disctrict's ceremonial lantern.

Ron Paul Gives Masonic Handshakes On TV!


The Widow's Son over on the Burning Taper took it on the chin over the last month or so for being a flak for candidate Ron Paul. His open support of his own favored candidate drew the online equivalent of carpet bombing by readers who felt such blatant political favoritism had no place on a private Masonic blog site. Au contrére, as these blockbuster photos clearly reveal!

Ron Paul has been an unconventional candidate, with unconventional supporters - from blimps, to support by 9/11 "Truther" moonbats, to cuddling with anti-semitic, anti-Masonic, Holocaust denying loudmouth Alex Jones. So for it to turn out that he's not only an elite, but an Illuminati/Freemason, the pro-Paul blogswelt is justifiably atwitter.

And yet, in spite of RP's concern over a worldwide cabal of elites who secretly control everything, he was caught on Bill Mahr's Real Time clearly giving what appears to be some sort of Masonic handshake to Ben Affleck and P.J. O'Rourke.

This now clearly explains the Burning Taper's mawkish hero worship and his dribbling all over Ron Paul's wing tips. He HAS to support RP, since they are both Masons. Dammit. Now I HAVE to vote for RP, too! Part of that Masonic obligation, you know.

Alex Jones and Texe Marrs must be going crazy. But then I state the obvious...

But Bennifer and PJ also Masons? PJ is actually Catholic, so not much chance there (although, wait - so am I!). He once told this story. "The Catholic Church wouldn't give my grandfather an annulment, even though his wife was crazy. So the next day, he went out and joined the Lutheran Church, the Republican Party and the Freemasons."

You know, maybe Alex Jones and Texe Marrs are right. Maybe we Masons ARE everywhere!

[sarcasm off]

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Our Irish Brethren

For the benefit of our Scottish and Irish brethren, and as an exercise in illumination to some of our US jurisdictions who forswear such behavior and condemn it as "un-Masonic,", I present the following message without further comment.

Lodge 2 in Dublin, Ireland’s oldest lodge and arguably the oldest “continually warranted” lodge in the world would like to extend a warm welcome to all our Scottish brethren who are coming over for the Ireland v Scotland Rugby match on the 23rd February and invite you to our Premium Whiskey Charity night on Friday the 22nd February in one of the most impressive, purpose-built buildings in Ireland - Freemasons Hall, 17 Molesworth St, Dublin 1 at 7.30 pm.

Experts from Irish Distillers, Cooley Distillery and the Whiskey Shop will take brethren through some of the finest Irish and Scottish whiskies available.

There will be a chance to see “The Big Room” and meet new friends as well as have a few drams of the good stuff. Rumours of an Ireland versus Scotland Whisky drinking challenge have been wildly exaggerated. We don’t want to get gubbed twice in the one weekend!

Tickets are €35 (£21) but for visiting Scottish brethren, we’ll make it £20.


Sojourning Masons may wish to contact Brother Kevin McParland at duncan1207@kelvinpartick.fsnet.co.uk

Benjamin Franklin and the Lodge of Nine Sisters Exhibit at National Heritage Museum

A new exhibition at the National Heritage Museum at the headquarters of the Scottish Rite Northern Jurisdiction in Lexington, Massachusetts, focuses on Benjamin Franklin's involvement with a French Masonic lodge during the American Revolution. To Fly to the Aid of Humanity: Benjamin Franklin and the Lodge of Nine Sisters opened December 15, 2007 and will remain until June 15, 2008

Inventor, writer, printer, and diplomat, Benjamin Franklin was also a Freemason. When sent by Congress to France to drum up financial and material support for the American Revolution in 1776, he sought the social circles that would help him fulfill his mission. One of the most interesting was a Parisian Masonic lodge, the Lodge of Nine Sisters (La Loge des Neuf Soeurs). Franklin was not just a member of this Lodge, but also became its leader, serving as its Venerable Master from 1779 to 1781.

The nine sisters in the Lodge's name refer to the nine muses of the arts and sciences from Greek mythology. In the late 1700s, this lodge boasted an elite and international membership, including such important thinkers, artists, scientists, and statesmen as Americans Benjamin Franklin and John Paul Jones, writer-philosopher Voltaire, astronomer Joseph-Jerome de Lalande, and sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. New members pledged to always be ready "to fly to the aid of humanity," a fact that both reflected Masonic ideals and spoke to Franklin's mission of building support for Americans' efforts to achieve independence.

The exhibition highlights objects in the Library and Archives collection, including printed items produced by, and associated with, the Lodge of Nine Sisters. These items are drawn from a collection of material originally gathered by Claude-Emmanuel-Joseph-Pierre, Marquis de Pastoret, who served as Venerable Master of the Lodge of Nine Sisters from 1788 to 1789. Objects on display include two membership lists of the Lodge from the 1700s that show the names of some of its illustrious members, as well as an invitation to an "Academic Festival" co-sponsored by the Lodge and Benjamin Franklin in 1783 "on the occasion of the Peace between England and her former American colonies." Also on display are items from the Library's collection, including the first Masonic book published in America, The Constitutions of the Free-Masons, printed by Franklin in 1734.

Ex-Porn Star To Arouse Italian Freemasonry


And there are the just plain weird Masonic stories. This from the Italian press last Thursday.

Less than a year ago in her autobiography "Per amore e per forza" ("By Love and Strength), 57 year old Ilona Staller told about her life with the challenge of achieving decency and finding true love. Today the former Mrs. Cicciolina (the first porn star elected to parliament) and former spy in the pay of the Hungarian secret service,
returns to talk about herself after the special offer that comes from the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy, the only Italian Masonry recognized by the English.

A high ranking officer in the Lodge - Grand Secretary Sergio Facchini, spokesman for the Grand Master Fabio Venzi, confirmed the meeting with Ilona Staller in the Zen Restaurant in Rome, "only to evaluate her hypothetical entry into Masonry, and nothing else." If Cicciolina really becomes a Mason, it would be a small revolution within the so-called Freemasons. Being part of the English network, Italian Masonry is not to admit women. This certainly applies to the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy, while elsewhere, openness to women is greater.

Removing Masonry from the museum - According to Facchini, Masonry is "going through a dark period that sees itself as a huge museum remembering old glories. Freemasons are no longer like those of the past, who if not on the public stage were members of the bar." The commitment of the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy is to remain at the forefront of culture, so who knows what will happen if Cicciolina is admitted to the order.

Dreams of Ilona - Pending the Masonic response, Staller records her dreams in her autobiography. She writes, "I wanted to become an archaeologist or a violinist: it sounded good. But things have gone well, basically. I have been used by others, but I also, consciously, used my body for my own purposes."


Momma mia.