Sunday, February 28, 2010

Masonic License Plates in Arkansas?


Mock up based on other Arkansas speciality plates.

The Burning Taper is reporting that Sebastian Lodge No. 706 of Fort Smith, Arkansas currently has this statement atop its homepage:

NOTICE: Grand Lodge has declared that No Freemason of Arkansas is to purchase a Masonic license plate. These are for Prince Hall Masons, which Arkansas considers to be clandestine lodges. Sebastian Lodge does not condone the viewpoint, nevertheless we are to notify everyone of this decision. 2 FEB 2010

So far, I have been unable to find any other reference to this statement, even on the Grand Lodge of Arkansas F&AM website. Nor have I found any documentation that such a license plate exists in Arkansas, even on the Office of Motor Vehicle website. The website of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge Jurisdiction of Arkansas, F.&A.M. is also silent on the subject.

The Grand Lodge of Arkansas F&AM is one of ten jurisdictions remaining in the U..S. that do not recognize their Prince Hall (PHA) grand lodge counterparts.



UPDATE:
Brother Fred Milliken, who is a member of a Prince Hall lodge in Texas, passed the following message along:


Having just returned from the 138th Grand Session of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas I can testify to the fact that the Masonic license plate is an official license plate issued by the state of Arkansas, what some of us in other states would call a "vanity plate." It is not a decorative plate for the front of the vehicle but would be a purchaser's official vehicle license plate. It is also a generic plate neither geared toward Mainstream or PHA. The fact that Prince Hall initiated this program and got it approved by the state of Arkansas and thus a portion of the sale of every license plate goes to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge seems to have Arkansas Mainstream Masons' knickers in a twist.


According to Janet Beck at the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, the specialty fees for the plates go to the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge Community Outreach Inc. in Pine Bluff, which grants scholarships to Arkansas high school seniors.

Fred has posted a copy of the letter from the Grand Master here.

Masonic Lodges Destroyed in Haiti


Brother David Lindez over at the Anthropological Mason blog has posted images of devastated Masonic lodges in Haiti, taken on February 8th. He reports, "The original Grand Orient d'Haiti building has been completely devastated along with the nearby Cathedral, the home of the Bishop, the foreign embassies and other government buildings on Rue de Magasin."

Please remember that you can donate yourself or through your lodge to assist our brethren in Haiti through the Masonic Service Association. Please make checks payable to the MSA Disaster Relief Fund and send to:

MSA Disaster Relief Fund
8120 Fenton Street, Ste. 203,
Silver Spring, MD 20910-4785

College of Freemasonry Masonic Educational Event, Saturday April 10th in Webster, NY

The AASR Valley of Rochester will be sponsoring the fourth College of Freemasonry educational event on Saturday April 10th. The College provides a forum for nationally and regionally known speakers and Masonic thinkers the
opportunity to discuss Freemasonry. This year's theme is
"Freemasonry: the Ancient Landmarks, the Symbolism and the Vision of our Craft."

Speakers include:

* Keynote speaker,
Brother Christopher Hodapp, Masonic author and Editor in Chief of the Journal of the Masonic Society.

*
R.W. Tom Savini and R.W. Bill Thomas will be presenting the Grand Lodge library's recent acquisition of the Processus Contra Templarious, the Trials Against the Knights Templar.

*
R.W. Thomas Jackson, Past Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and book review editor for the Northern Light magazine, will be in attendance for the presentation of the Valley's Thomas Jackson Award. The Award recognizes individuals who have taken the message of Freemasonry and transformed it into an educational inspiration at a state, regional or national level.

* The program will conclude with
R. W. Manfred Liehs, a master appraiser of fine art antiques, speaking on the importance of preserving Masonic artifacts and our heritage.

The cost to attend the event on Saturday is $20.00 and includes a continental breakfast and lunch. The event will be held at the Shrine Center, 979 Bay Road, Webster, NY 14580. Check in will begin at 8:00 AM and the program starts at 9:00 AM.

Email the Scottish Rite Valley of Rochester Secretary at:
secretary@valleyofrochester.org
or call the Secretary at 264-1160 or 800-858-2320.
Prepayment is encouraged and appreciated and the RESERVATION DEADLINE IS MONDAY APRIL 5th.


Additional information is available online at
www.collegeoffreemasonry.org

------------------
On Friday April 9th, Scottish Rite members and their ladies are invited to a steak dinner and an evening of Jazz. The social hour will begin around 6:00 PM with dinner served around 7:00 PM. Through out the evening we will be entertained by local jazz artist, Madeline Forster and her quartet. You can hear a sample of her music at www.madelineforster.com. This is also a chance to welcome the presenters for the College of Freemasonry program.

Cost for the evening is $30 per person and $50 per couple.

RESERVATIONS

EMAIL or Call the Scottish Rite Valley Secretary at 264-1160 or 800-858-2320. Prepayment is encouraged and appreciated.

RESERVATION DEADLINE IS MONDAY APRIL 5th.

Back From Houston


I'm back home from the Houston, Texas city-wide table lodge, hosted by Gray Lodge No. 329 and Jacques DeMolay Lodge No. 1390 on Friday evening. More than 110 brethren came out to Arabia Shrine Center for a fantastic evening of food and fellowship.

Thursday evening, I had the chance to attend the Houston Scottish Rite stated meeting and meet many brethren there, as well. Following that meeting was the gathering of the Diogenes Club at the Downing Street Pub Cigar Bar. I have been in the fine company of the newest Blue Friar, Brother Pete Normand, more in the last three weeks than in all of my life combined.

Many, many thanks to everyone who made this such a memorable couple of days, most especially to Brother Roberto Sanchez, whose hospitality was boundless, and who took me at my word when I said my priority on these trips is to be overfed. He was absolutely the perfect host. My deepest gratitude to WBros. Tony Bass and Darrin Pitts, Masters of Jacques DeMolay and Gray Lodges for making me a part of their evening. And thanks to everyone who attended Friday for making the evening such a memorable success.

(Photo by David Fernandez III)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thanks to Affinity Mktg & Conference of Grand Masters


Utah's John Liley and me on Monday morning.

I want to thank Chas Pierro, Max Tatum, and everyone at Affinity Marketing Associates in Radnor, Pennsylvania for inviting me to speak at their breakfast at the 2010 Conference of Grand Master Masons in North America this past Sunday in Arlington, Virginia. It was a privilege to be able to address such a distinguished group, and I appreciated all of the kind comments afterwards from so many brethren.

Thanks to those of you who stopped by my table and chatted.

I promised several of you a shortened transcript of my remarks. When I get back into town next week, I will do that. Pester me.

I had wanted to attend the Monday festivities at the George Washington Masonic Memorial (see William Baumbach's online gallery of photos), and I apologize to anyone who figured I beat it out of town without bothering to say goodbye. I was honestly not being rude. But travel, weather worries and an unanticipated nap forced me to hit the road without properly thanking many of you for your kindness and hospitality.

Naturally a little rain and rush hour made the first 37 miles take two hours to slog through. Traffic was so miserable that I stopped at a Japanese restaurant in Germantown.

Sort of an Axis powers dinner.

An hour later, you're hungry for power again.*


*Hat tip to Jim Landerkin for the gag.

Howard Lodge No. 93 in Kokomo, IN on 3/3/2010


On March 3rd, 2010, I will be traveling to Kokomo, Indiana and visiting Howard Lodge No. 93 and my friend, Worshipful Master Brady Davis. Good times!

Traveling to Houston, Texas This Week

I'm looking forward to being in Houston, TX on Thursday and Friday this week. Thursday evening, I'll be attending the Houston Scottish Rite meeting. Houston has one of the largest Scottish Rite Valleys under the Supreme Council 33°, Southern Jurisdiction, with over 6,500 members.


On Friday February 26th 2010, Gray Lodge No. 329 and Jacques DeMolay Lodge No. 1390 A.F. & A. M. are hosting a city-wide table lodge in Houston, Texas. Any Mason ( EA, FC , MM) in recognition with the Grand Lodge of Texas is invited to attend.

Dinner begins at 7 pm at Arabia Shrine Center, 10510 Harwin Drive, Houston, TX 77036

I will have the happy honor of being the speaker for the evening.

From the official notice for the event:

The Table Lodge is one of the oldest Masonic traditions. This modern practice of Masonry was first perfected in the taverns and inns of Scotland and England, where early Lodges met and celebrated the social virtues of the Craft at the table. A Table Lodge should be an extravaganza of Masonic fellowship, of feasts, lectures and togetherness. Come join the festivities of one of Masonry's greatest traditions.


Tickets are $50, including meal, drinks and parting gift. Contact Roberto Sanchez or Tony Bass for tickets.

Officers of Jacques DeMolay Lodge No. 1390, Houston, TX

Call for papers for the 12th CMRC conference on “Anti-Masonry”

From Andreas Önnerfors at the University of Sheffield's Centre For Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism newsletter today:

The Canonbury Masonic Research Centre CMRC) in London is pleased to announce a Call for Papers for its twelfth annual conference on the theme of ‘Anti-Masonry’ scheduled for 30–31 October, 2010.

Soon after its emergence in early Hanoverian London, organised Freemasonry earned the enmity of both religious institutions and governments alike, and by the summer of 1738 the association had been proscribed by the Magistrate in The Hague, the French government of Cardinal Fleury, and by Pope Clement XII, in what was to be the first of many Papal Bulls issued against the order. In the wake of the French revolution of 1789, polemicists such as the Catholic priest, Abbé Barruel, accused the Freemasons of helping to bring about these momentous events, and within a few years a Jewish component had been introduced to this heady tale. It was an elaboration that was to have disastrous consequences.

During the nineteenth century Freemasonry also found itself accused of fomenting the European revolutions of 1848 and a highly successful anti-masonic party was established in the United States. By the close of century, the story that Freemasonry was somehow intertwined with Jewish interests (what American historian Gabriel Jackson termed ‘The Black Legend’) had metamorphosed into one of the most outlandish conspiracy tales of all time – The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. This notorious forgery of the Tsarist Secret Police – an imagined blueprint for Judeo-Masonic world domination – was eagerly embraced by the European Fascist regimes, and it helped prepare the ground for the Holocaust as well as the imprisonment and execution of thousands of Freemasons, along with the targeted theft of vast masonic archives, many of which are still being restituted to their original owners today.

In post-war Europe the publication and appeal of the Protocols dwindled, although in the case of Spain General Franco continued to maintain a belief in the existence an imaginary Bolshevik-Masonic complot until his death in 1975. And today, this infamous document is still viewed as genuine in many parts of the world, particularly in the Middle East where it is typically used to justify an over-arching anti-Western rhetoric. But while the anti-Jewish or anti-Zionist aspects of this phenomenon are frequently discussed by academics, the anti-masonic element is all too often ignored.

Consequently, this international conference aims to address this neglected topic in all its aspects. Scholars of all disciplines are therefore invited to submit proposals for papers on a sociological, political, cultural, religious or biographical aspect of this curious phenomenon. Papers can be wide ranging in content or more narrowly focused, however, all should be fully documented as the CMRC plans to publish a volume of post conference transactions. Proposals for papers must consist of no more than 300 words and should be sent in writing to the conference organiser at the Canonbury Masonic Research Centre, Canonbury Tower, Canonbury Place, London N1 2NQ. Please be sure to enclose both your contact details and a potted CV with your proposal.

The deadline for all such submissions is 20 May 2010. For further information please email:
conference@canonbury.ac.uk or telephone 00 44 (0)20 7226 6256

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

William "Bill" Blasingame, PGM of Indiana, Passes Away

UPDATED WEDNESDAY 2/24:

Most Worshipful Brother William "Bill" Blasingame, Past Grand Master of Freemasons for the state of Indiana 1996-97, and Past Master of Porter Lodge #137 passed away yesterday, February 22nd 2010. Bill had been in frail health recently and had moved from Valparaiso to Indianapolis last year.

There will be a service held at Porter Lodge #137 in Valparaiso, Indiana on Saturday, March 6th. Visitation 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., Masonic Service at 1:00 p.m., with fellowship to follow.

Please keep Bill's wife Dianne and his family in your prayers.

His brethren mourn. RIP



William Dale "Bill" Blasingame Was born in Little Rock, Arkansas to George Lee and Estetta Mae (Tilley) Blasingame on November 1, 1938. Bill passed away at home with family at his bedside on February 22, 2010. He was preceeded in death by his parents and brothers, George Lewis and C. Frank Blasingame. He is survived by his wife of 46 years Diane (Hassel) Blasingame; son, William Frank (Joanne) Blasingame; daughters, Tami Burchert (Kevin Maxey), Tracy (Tom) Moritz. He was a loving grandfather to ten grandchildren Shelby, Katie, Sam, Landon, Delanie, Natalie, Haylie, Hannah, Hunter, and Hudson.

Bill was a charter member of Christ Lutheran Church in Valparaiso. He has served as Worshipful Master of Porter Lodge No.137 and Potentate of Orak Shrine, and Past Patron of Valparaiso OES. Bill was very active in the youth groups of DeMolay and Job's Daughters.

Bill attended George Washington University and graduated from Purdue University. He retired from Bethlehem Steel as a Senior Planner in charge of the Planning and Engineering Technical Maintenance Department after 36 years. Bill's hobbies included model railroading, youth organizations, and Masonic activities.

Visitation will be held at Singleton Community Mortuary and Memorial Center, 7602 Madison Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46227 on Friday, Feburary 26, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

A memorial service will be held in Valparaiso, IN on March 6, at Valparaiso Masonic Lodge, 113 E Lincolnway. Visitation at Noon and Masonic Services at 1:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Indiana Masonic Home, Shriners Children Hospital, or charity of your choice. Those who wish to share thoughts with the Blasingame family can do so at: singletonmortuary.com


Jim Dillman, Eminent Commander of Raper Commandery No. 1 in Indianapolis has issued the following request to all Indiana Knights Templar:

An honor guard composed of uniformed Knights Templar from Indiana will be posted during the visitation for PGM Bill Blasingame. Visitation will be held at Singleton Community Mortuary and Memorial Center, 7602 Madison Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46227 on Friday, Feburary 26, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. I call upon the Sir Knights of Raper Commandery #1 as well as all other commanderies around the state to participate in the honor guard. Please e-mail me at jrdill1955@yahoo.com if you are able to participate. We will divide the visitation hours into shifts depending on the number of Sir Knights who are available. We need a minimum of six and preferably eight Sir Knights. All who desire to participate will be given the opportunity to do so. If you are available, please help us honor our departed Grand Master and brother.

Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22 Donates $100,000 to the Geo. Washington Masonic Memorial

I am driving home from the Conference of Grand Masters this morning, but just got this news from WBro. Andrew Hammer, WM of Virginia's Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22, which is located in the George Washington Masonic Memorial:


ALEXANDRIA, VA, February 23, 2010 - Declaring "We have been here for the first 100 years, and today we rededicate ourselves to be here for the next 100," Worshipful Brother Andrew Hammer, Master of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22, announced an historic $100,000 donation to the George Washington Masonic Memorial last night, at the Lodge's annual celebration of George Washington's birthday.

The Lodge initiated the building of the Memorial in 1910, inviting representatives of Grand Lodges to meet in its Lodge room to formally begin the project. Worshipful Master Charles H. Callahan bought the first plots of land one year earlier in 1909.

Stating that other grand Masonic buildings throughout the nation had been lost, sold and even razed, Hammer vowed, "We must never let this building fall, either structurally or out of the hands of our fraternity, and I give you the word of a Mason that Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22 will do whatever it can to help maintain it. We have taken this first step today, and I challenge the Grand Lodges of this nation to match or exceed this donation."

The Memorial is in need of over 10 million dollars of renovations and repairs.


This is incredible news, and a tremendous expression of dedication to the ongoing mission of the Memorial by the brothers of AW22. Well done, brethren.

This Thursday evening, February 25th, AW22 will celebrate the 227th Anniversary of the first meeting of their Lodge at Gadsby's Tavern in Old Town.

The Conference of Grand Master Masons in North America was held in Arlington this week, and all attending grand masters hopped on busses Monday to go to the Memorial for an historic photograph on the steps, recreating the famous image seen on Life Magazine's October 8, 1956 cover.


UPDATE:
AW22 will give its $100,000 gift to the GW Memorial in $20,000 installments over the next five years. If one lodge can do this, surely grand lodges can step up and equal or exceed this kind of commitment.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Grand Orient Freemasonry and the European Union

The world of Anglo-Saxon derived Freemasonry is generally perplexed by the anti-Masonic allegation that Freemasons are attempting to somehow create a one-world government, or somehow influence governments or politicians from behind the scenes. The notion that an English, US, Canadian, or Australian grand lodge today would try to exert political power, issue official position papers on church vs. state topics, arrange meetings with politicians to lobby for law changes, or other similar activities would be an anathema to most Freemasons in the overwhelming majority of jurisdictions.

Not so with the Grand Orients of France and Belgium. The largest obedience of Masons in France is unrecognized and considered irregular by the overwhelming majority of the Masonic world, and this week's news provides ample explanation why. The European press is reporting that "the Masons" are hoping to open a bureau in Brussels to "to lobby against the rising influence of religious organisations in the EU institutions."

Martin Pascal on lesoir.be reports that the Grand Orients of France and Belgium, and mixed gender Le Droit Humain Freemasons are attempting to exert new influence on government in the European Union. See La reconquista des francs-maçons:

In 2008, Marcel Conradt, Freemason and parliamentary assistant to the Socialist MEP Veronique De Keyser, denounced the assault of “religious lobbies and sects” on Europe. Their objective: influence legislation and decision makers, especially MEPs. Around 80% of the national legislation of member states is developed at the European level. The author described the influence of the churches, but also cults such as Scientology or the Raelian movement, and urged the secularists to maintain a Europe that would leave God out of politics.


Marcel Conradt is the author of Le cheval de Troie. Sectes et lobbies religieux à l'assaut de l'Europe (The Trojan horse. Sects and religious lobbies to conquer Europe). Of course, the biggest villain in the piece is the Catholic Church. I'm guessing the growing influence of Muslim groups in Europe barely get a mention.

The article continues:


Jean-Michel Quillardet, former Grand Master of the Grand Orient de France, outlines the transformation undertaken by Freemasonry throughout Europe.

Today, what concerns unite international Freemasonry and European institutions?

In 2008, for the first time, we’ve managed to get a meeting with the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso. There was the Grand Orient de France, the Grande Loge féminine de France, the Droit humain and the Grand Orient of Portugal. We told him that apart from its Christian roots, Europe owed much to the philosophy of Greece and Roman, to the humanism of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. We also obtained representation for Masonic obediences and those in defense of secularism in the Bepa (Editor’s note: the office that advises the President and the Commission on politics), which had previously only been for religious and spiritual groups. When we organized an international masonic gathering in Athens in 2008, Barroso had written us a message about the importance he attached to the contribution of masonry to the history and integration of Europe. This is for us is recognition within the intellectual landscape. Nevertheless, there difficulties remain in spreading the secular message, and more importantly, churches are still very much present … A great battle must still be waged [un grand combat doit encore être mené].

With what means?

Within the Grand Orient of France, we created a small organization that is in charge of organizing Masonic obediences throughout Europe.

We are looking toward a federation among obediences. But there are two major challenges: to speak with one voice, and abandon the culture of secrecy. How?

It is in effect difficult to unite because there are many obediences, who possess a strong spiritual current, which lag behind on societal issues and in particularly on secularism - not to mention the Grand Lodge of France. The Grand Lodge of France is a little shy. I’m not sure what the position is of the Grand Lodge of Belgium. But still, when we see what can be achieved together the Grand Orient of France, Belgium, Portugal … or when we observe what has occurred in Greece, the former Eastern bloc, the Maghreb, Lebanon and Israel, it is noteworthy that liberal and non-dogmatic masonry is still a strong current. We need the Masonic obediences to become political in the best sense of the word; that beyond the current partisanship they can discuss secularism and express disagreement with governmental decisions.

Some among you say that a European Masonic federation will not come soon…

The International Masonic assembly was created in Strasbourg in 2007. Subsequent meetings were held in Greece and Turkey. In 2010, it will be in Portugal. The Masonic obediences have been united to this view. I am optimistic.

When can we expect to see in Brussels a bureau representing Masonic ideas and interests?

I think we will one day create a general delegation of masonry and, with this, free thinking in European institutions. It is possible politically, but more difficult financially, because we have far fewer resources than the churches.

What would be your first battle?

Beyond the fight for secularism, there is a battle to wage against communitarianism in society. Europe is influenced by the Anglo-Saxon conception of the relationship between religion and state, as well as multiculturalism. Now we must impose the universalist conception of the Enlightenment, which involves spreading the notion of European citizenship before the Jew, the black, the North African, homosexual, heterosexual, etc. One must come to understand that what unites us is a certain idea of man regardless of descent.



"Now we must impose the universalist conception of the Enlightenment?" That's quite a jump from Anderson's Constitutions:

I. Concerning GOD and RELIGION.

A Mason is oblig’d by his Tenure, to obey the moral law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist nor an irreligious Libertine. But though in ancient Times Masons were charg’d in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet ‘tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguish’d; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remain'd at a perpetual Distance
.


Nowhere in regular, recognized Freemasonry is it incumbent on the fraternity to impose anything on anyone, not the least of which a "universalist conception of the Enlightenment." Grand Orient Freemasonry has a long reputation of getting entangled with governments, especially in French colonies when administrations were made up of G.O. Masons. Allegations of Masonic membership requirements in many African governments today are commonplace.

Unfortunately, few outsiders make the distinction between Grand Orient Freemasonry, and the rest of the Masonic world, and we all get tarred by the same brush.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

GL of Florida to Consider PHA Recognition

On the heels of the failure of Prince Hall recognition to pass in Louisiana this year, word comes that similar legislation has been filed for the upcoming annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Florida F&AM.

I have been told that the Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, Prince Hall Affiliated, Florida; Belize, Central America; St. John United States Virgin Island, Incorporated already voted several years ago to recognize their mainstream counterpart.

The slogan of the GL of Florida F&AM's Grand Master Dale I. Goehrig this year is "Unity In Masonry."

Currently, in the U.S. and Canada, ten mainstream, predominantly white grand lodges have not recognized their predominantly black Prince Hall Affiliated (PHA) grand lodge counterpart: Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

The Grand Lodge of Florida meets in May on Memorial Day weekend.

Issue #7 of the Journal of the Masonic Society


The Journal of the Masonic Society Issue 7 is at the printers and on its way.

This issue includes:

• “The Secret’s in Our Sauce” by Roger S. VanGorden
• “The Operatives Meet in London" by Thomas Johnson
• "Restructuring American Freemasonry, Part II: Appendant & Affiliated Bodies and York Rite Freemasonry" by Mark Tabbert
• "The Odd Fellows and Their Journey to Inclusiveness" by Dr. R. L. Uzzel
• "George Washington Masonic Memorial Celebrates A Century" by George Seghers
• "Grand Lodge of Missouri Masonic Museum" by Christopher Hodapp
• "Fluid Freemasonry" by Michael Poll
• "Walking the Walk: Regular Steps in Freemasonry" by Randy Williams
• "Applying the Lessons of the Craft" by Jason Marshall
• "Eastbound Night" by Kerry D. Kirk
• "Remembering The Founders" by Jay Hochberg
• "The Enigmatic Masonic Calendars" by Christopher L. Hodapp


Plus the latest in Masonic news from around the world, Masonic Treasures, and more.

This issue’s cover features Francisco de Goya’s The Injured Mason (1786-7). It is a part of a series of paintings that were created as models for a tapestry that hung in the Royal Palace of El Prado, near Madrid. Goya was inspired by a 1778 edict by King Charles III concerning construction safety ‘to avoid accidents and the death of workmen’. An early sketch of this painting showed happier expressions on the two men carrying the third, which was given the nickname “The Drunken Mason.”

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Saturday, February 20th, is International Pipe Smoker's Day



This coming Saturday, February 20th, is International Pipe Smoker's Day.

According to the IPSD Website,

WE ENVISION A WORLDWIDE COMMUNION
of pipe-smokers that is bound together by a shared love for pipe-smoking, mutual respect, and goodwill • We envision a society that respects the informed choice and adult use of smoking tobacco • We envision a world where governments act in good faith and integrity, and have the political will and personal courage to express their values appropriately through legislative means • This means that as a group we are united and strong in our beliefs, have understanding, patience, wisdom, enjoy the philosophical aspect of pipe-smoking, and seek to promote pipe-smoking as part of a lifestyle that can be thoroughly enjoyable to adults through the responsible use of tobacco.

MISSION
To foster links across the globe in honor of friendship, benevolence, and tranquility; and to celebrate the fraternity of pipe-smokers across all borders.

PURPOSE
On this day we will take a breather and celebrate the noble art of pipe-smoking and the noble spirit which pervades the brother/sisterhood of the briar. We will put into practice the time-honored and ancestral traditions of raising our pipes in toast to each other in the evening in unison and, thus, share a bowl together.

PHILOSOPHY
Today’s hectic environment almost dictates that we run on full efficiency, have total involvement in our work, our families and in every aspect of what we do to survive and achieve in a world set at high speed.• With ever-changing values it is the intent that The International Pipe-Smoking Day will allow us, the Brothers and Sisters of the Briar to step back and appreciate our rich historical value. • For pipe-smokers and pipe-smoking everywhere the day will be emblematic of our shared values, history, traditions, and aspirations.

I am puffing a massive Past Master's freehand pipe, custom made many years ago by Brother Tim West. I had the honor of meeting Tim when I visited University Lodge #631 in Columbus, Ohio back in June 2008, and was pleasantly surprised to discover he is a Mason. Today, Tim is the owner of J. H. Lowe & Co., which supplies pipe parts and supplies for custom pipe makers and repairmen.

By the way, every pipe smoker in the U.S. needs to be aware that H.R. 4439, the Tobacco Tax Parity Act of 2010 was introduced in Congress on January 13, 2010 and would raise the federal tax on pipe tobacco 775% from $2.8311 to $24.78 per pound. The justification is that cigarette rolling companies have been relabeling "roll your own" cigarette tobacco as pipe tobacco in order to avoid much higher cigarette taxes. There is no rational person who can make the argument that this kind of tax increase is fair to pipe smokers.

Stop the 775% tax increase on pipe tobacco. Click here to instantly contact your representatives in the House and Senate.

Milwaukee's Lake Masonic Center Vandalized in January

The February 2010 online edition of the Wisconsin Masonic Journal popped into my email inbox last week, with distressing news. The Lake Masonic Center in Milwaukee was extensively vandalized on January 9th, in what can only be described as a maniacal frenzy.

Photos show that doors, windows, stained glass, display cases, and even the lodge's organ were broken, smashed or otherwise damaged. Priceless items that cannot be replaced were lost.

The center was home to Lake Lodge No. 189; Damascus Lodge No. 290; Aloha Conclave #4, True Kindred; Electa Chapter #75 O.E.S.; Ivanhoe Commandery #24 Knights Templar; Faith Shrine #23, White Shrine; Vega Chapter #26 O.E.S.; Job’s Daughters Bethel 6 and the Milwaukee Bible Study. The building is now closed, but WBro. Don Jensen, PM of Lake Lodge, is quoted in the article as hoping to reopen by March 1st. Given the damage and losses, that sounds optimistic. In the meantime, area lodges and the Scottish Rite have opened their doors to the various groups.

It seems that the thugs who carried out the attack got a little payback, as there was blood found all over the building, and a trail of blood leading out. Samples have been sent for DNA testing.

Unfortunately, with heightened awareness of Freemasonry comes the downside. If your lodge has no security system in place, now might be a good time to bring it up at your next stated meeting.

Malcom Davies R.I.P.

I had the opportunity to briefly meet the distinguished Masonic scholar Malcolm Davies at the International Conference on the History of Freemasonry in Edinburgh in 2007.

Now comes word that he has passed away on February 9th, at the age of 57.

George Malcolm Davies was named as the special chair of Freemasonry at the University of Leiden in the Hague in January of 2008. Although born in Crewe in the county of Cheshire, England, he had lived in the Netherlands for 20 years. He was trained as a musicologist, and he studied at Trinity College of Music in London and the University of Southampton, before moving to The Hague's Royal Conservatory of Frans Brüggen. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Utrecht on The Masonic Muse. Songs, Music and Musicians Associated with Dutch Freemasonry: 1730-1806.

Brother Davies maintained the academic study of Freemasonry had to be very broad based so that we might understand the effects it had on society, as well as how it has adapted to suit the culture and time in which it resides. He argued for the study of a new "historiography" of Masonry: a greater understanding and examination of the political, philosophical, religious and sociological backgrounds of the 18th and 19th century Masons.

His paper delivered at the 2007 ICHF was "The Mystical Muse: Early Masonic Operas, Cantatas and Dramas." In 2008, he organized a two day symposium in The Hague, where seventeen researchers from European and American universities lectured on the theme "The Expression of Freemasonry: Its ritual, oratory, poetry, music, literature, art and architecture."

His column is now broken, and his brethren mourn.

2009 Prestonian Lecture in Indianapolis 9/11/2010

Prestonian Lecture – 2009

The Indiana Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons
Dwight L Smith Lodge of Research
are pleased to invite you to an evening with
Worshipful Brother John Wade
WM, Quatuor Coronatorum Lodge 2076, London, England
2009 Prestonian Lecturer - appointed by the United Grand Lodge of England

Saturday September 11, 2010
Scottish Rite Cathedral, Indianapolis, Indiana

Refreshments (Cash Bar) at 6:00 pm
Lecture 7:00 pm (Not Tiled)
Followed by Dinner & Festive Board

All Masons and invited guests welcome - dress business casual
Tickets for the evening at $55.00 must be purchased in advance

All Blue Lodges are encouraged to attend this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Send payment to: To Be Announced


Out of Town Guests:

A Landmark Indianapolis Hotel with Omni Elegance

The four-diamond Omni Severin Hotel is located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis and is connected to Nordstrom, Circle Centre Mall and the Convention Center.

Special arrangements have been made for you at The Omni Severin Hotel, 40 west Jackson Place, Indianapolis, Indiana 46225. Call 1-800-THE-OMNI using the password Prestonian Lecture for the special rate of $99.00. This luxury Indianapolis hotel is the city’s most convenient and luxurious address for business and pleasure.


The Prestonian Lecturer for 2009

Bro. John Stephen Wade was born in Edinburgh in 1947, but moved to Leeds when his father was appointed lecturer at the university there. He was educated at High Storrs Grammar School Sheffield and the University of Durham where he read Classics. Following a 20 year career as a Classics teacher in Sheffield, during which time he wrote a thesis on Philip of Macedon for his MA dissertation, he transferred his Classics teaching to Further Education and then on to Higher Education at the University of Sheffield, where he finished his full-time career as Teaching Fellow in Latin and Greek. Having taken an early retirement in 2005, Bro. Wade continues to teach Latin to postgraduate students at the University, to assist in the Centre for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternity in the Humanities Research Institute, and has just successfully completed his doctoral thesis on the Latin writings of the Tudor martyrologist, John Foxe.

Bro. Wade was initiated into Fellowship Lodge No. 4069 in 1981 and exalted into Fellowship Royal Arch Chapter No. 4069 in 1985. He was installed as the Master of Fellowship Lodge in 1991 and was the founding Master of Amadeus Lodge No. 9359 in 1994. He is a Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in both Yorkshire West Riding and Derbyshire, and a Past Provincial Grand Sojourner in the Royal Arch, as well as a Past Sovereign in the Rose Croix. In the Mark degree Bro. Wade has just been appointed acting Provincial Grand Registrar for the Mark Province of Derbyshire. A Past Sovereign in the Red Cross of Constantine, he is currently a Divisional Steward, as well as being an active member of a number of other orders. From 2003-2005 he was President of the Sheffield Masonic Study Circle. Having been elected a full member of Quatuor Coronati Lodge in 2005, he was appointed Secretary of the Lodge in November 2008

Bro. Wade also manages to find time to be a member of lodges in Scotland, Ireland, Italy and the United States and to be the musical director of the Sheffield and District Masonic Choir which he founded in 1991.


The Lecture

‘Go and do thou likewise’:
English Masonic Processions
from the 18th to the 20th Centuries.
(The Prestonian Lecture for 2009)

In this paper Bro. John Wade looks at Masonic processions, which were a regular occurrence in many parts of England from the first quarter of the eighteenth century to the immediate pre-second world war period in the late 1930s. Very few have occurred in the last seventy-five years. He asks why we have retreated from public space during the last seventy-five years, and whether, perhaps, we have got nervous about the public perception of masons, or whether we are embarrassed about ourselves. The paper surveys public processions of masons over two centuries and examines the association of civic, ecclesiastical and Masonic bodies in public ceremonies of foundation stone laying, the dedication of completed buildings and other occasions for public thanksgiving. Bro. Wade suggests that as we move further into the twenty-first century, we need to be protagonistic about our civility and civil identity. For the man in the street we should be demonstrating that we have a civil association with the community, and that we are not a secret society or private members’ club. Bro. Wade suggest that we explore the possibility for a return of some of these public activities. He considers that as far as our public image is concerned, we have lost that civil association that we have had for hundreds of years. Our forefathers among the leaders of both the civic and ecclesiastical authorities appreciated the symbolic importance of the presence of the masons on these major occasions for the community.

The History

THE PRESTONIAN LECTURESHIP


William Preston (1742-1818), a very active Freemason at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries, developed an elaborate system of Masonic instruction, by means of catechetical lectures, which was practiced in association with the Lodge of Antiquity of which he was, at one time, Master.
At his death, he bequeathed to Grand Lodge the sum of £300, the interest from which was to be applied to some well informed Mason to deliver annually a Lecture on the First, Second or Third Degree of the Order of Masonry, according to the system practiced in the Lodge of Antiquity during Preston's Mastership.

With occasional intermissions, lectures on his method were accordingly delivered from 1820 until 1862, when the Lectureship was allowed to lapse. In 1924 it was revived, with certain modifications of the original scheme: the lecturer delivering a paper on a Masonic subject of his own selection.

The Prestonian Lecture is the only lecture held under the authority of the United Grand Lodge of England and, with the exception of the years 1940-46, regular appointments have been made annually since 1924 to the present day.


The Man: William Preston
By Trevor Stewart


William Preston was born in Edinburgh where his father was an attorney. He was well educated there. He came to London in 1760 and worked for one of the King’s Printers. He was initiated into Freemasonry in 1763 in a newly constituted Antients’ lodge, No. 111.

In the following year its members accepted a warrant (or charter) from the Moderns’ Grand Lodge as Caledonian Lodge No. 325, which still exists at No. 134.

Preston was Master of several London lodges and in 1774 he visited the famous old Lodge of Antiquity, now No. 2, and he was immediately elected a joining member and also their Master! He also held an appointment as Deputy Secretary to the Moderns’ Grand Lodge and as such he compiled an appendix to the Book of Constitutions in the 1776 edition.

Unfortunately, partly as a result of personal disputes, Preston and several others members of the Lodge of Antiquity fell foul of the Moderns’ Grand Lodge when they appeared in public in 1777 wearing their Masonic regalia while returning from a church service. A complaint against them was investigated and in 1778 Preston was expelled after he claimed that the Lodge of Antiquity, since it was a ‘Time Immemorial’ lodge that pre-dated the Grand Lodge, was not subject to the rule of the Grand Lodge.

On withdrawing this claim he was reinstated, but the majority of the members of the lodge expelled three members whereupon they were all expelled by the Grand Lodge. An ‘authority’ was obtained from a rival Grand Lodge of York to establish yet another Grand Lodge, to be known as the Grand Lodge of England South of the River Trent. After a while Preston became Deputy Grand Master of that new Masonic body. It was never very active and ceased to exist in 1789. After that, all of the members of the old Antiquity Lodge who had been disqualified by the Moderns’ Grand Lodge were admitted back into the fold and into the Lodge of Antiquity.

In 1772 Preston had published his book Illustrations of Masonry and it became enormously famous for 100 years, running through no less than seventeen editions. He also wrote his famous catechetical lectures of the three Craft Degrees and, with help from teams of fellow enthusiasts, he delivered them to lodges. He formed the Grand Chapter of Harodim to promote these texts.

He was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral and one of his legacies instituted the Prestonian Lectures

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

GLdF's Michael Segall

Those of you who know Brother Michael Segall of the Grand Lodge of France, he is in the third week of convalescing after suffering double pneumonia, partial heart failure and pulmonary edema. Nevertheless, he is up and around enough to be pounding out emails on his laptop. Mike is 77 years old.

Several years ago, I had dispensation from my Grand Master to visit brother Mike Segall's Paris lodge, Loge La Roumanie Unie #717 at the Grand Loge de France's Paris Temple Building. At that time, Mike was Deputy Grand Secretary/Grand Chancellor, Foreign Relations of the Grand Loge de France.

Please keep him and his wife Odette in your thoughts and prayers.

Ft. Wayne, Indiana Masonic Temple Making Great Improvements

Paul Calloway, Scot Deckard, Dennis Weimer and Dave Groholski
formed the Freemasons Hall Building Management Group of Fort Wayne to manage their Temple.


The brethren of Ft. Wayne, Indiana are working hard to preserve and improve the downtown Ft. Wayne Masonic Temple. They made the local paper again today, as they announced great strides in recent weeks. See Masonic Temple Reborn by Paul Wyche in the Journal Gazette.

According to a post by Brother Paul Calloway on Indiana's Hiram's Forum, the Temple's new management group's business plan had three main areas of focus - (1) Increase Rental Income, (2) Increase Fundraising and (3) Decrease Expenditures:

With regard to increasing rental income - in 2009 we rented the building approximately 12 times. For 2010, we have already booked 28 events with room on the calendar for more. We expect we will far exceed our goals for rental income.

With regard to increasing fundraising - we have resuscitated the Preservation Ball which earned the building about $18,000 in 2007 but which had not been repeated since. A 2009 Preservation Ball is planned for October 23, 2010 and the committee in charge of that event has already met three times in January. We're also working to double our income generated from our second annual Brewfest event. Furthemore we've arranged a temple-wide fundraiser for car-wash tickets which could net the building over $5,000 if all tickets are sold.

With regard to decreasing our expenditures - this is where it really gets pretty exciting. We just got our heat bill from January. Are you ready for this? Remember, our annual heat bills usually reach $40,000 for this building.
Dec-Jan 2007 ($11307.21 heating & 103 cooking)
Dec-Jan 2008 ($9080.39 heating & 136.51 cooking)
Dec-Jan 2009 ($1548 for heating & $78 cooking)

Yeah, really.... and no plaster isn't falling off the walls (except where it already was). We kept the building about 55 degrees and only heated rooms to 70 when absolutely necessary.

If you're a member of a Fort Wayne lodge - take heart, we've all had to make some sacrifices, and while it's still early in the year - it promises to be the first year in a long time where we've actually turned a profit.


Great job, brethren. Keep up the good work!

Masonic Week 2010: Odds and Ends

Robert G. Davis is now the President of the Masonic Restoration Foundation, and tells me the MRF is looking to become a resource for lodges looking to incorporate "traditional practices" into their lodges. The MRF will still promote its vision of Traditional Observance lodges, but will also provide information for lodges that wish to pick and choose only certain aspects of these practices.


The Scottish Rite Research Society was severely hobbled by the weather. Illus. S. Brent Morris was unable to burrow his way out of the snow that encircled his Maryland home, and the path to the House of the Temple was almost impassable. As a result, there was no vendor's booth set up for the SRRS. Brent was unable to attend the SRRS luncheon on Saturday. As a result, Illus. Sean D. Graystone was interviewed by Illus. Martin P. Starr. Brother Graystone's expertise in the restoration of the Sante Fe, New Mexico Scottish Rite building (the "Pink Palace"), and now at the House of the Temple is just a small part of this brother's incredible knowledge and skill at the construction and engineering side of architecture, as well as financial and tax ramifications of non-profit buildings. He is a tremendous asset to the fraternity.

The Santa Fe Scottish Rite Temple, one of Sean Graystone's early restoration projects.


Philalethes Society president Terry Tilton and 1st V.P. Jack Buta were on hand Friday, distributing the PSOC's newly redesigned magazine, as well as copies of Fiat Lux, a collection of papers published by the Society from 1928 until 1986.

The Philalethes Society's annual Feast and Forum will be held in Bloomington, Minnesota on March 5-6th, at the Park Plaza Hotel. President Tilton has announced in the last week that the $65 registration fee for the event has been waived and will be refunded to those who paid. Only meal costs will be charged for.

Ron Martin, former Executive Director of the Masonic Society, will join the Philalethes Society as its 2nd Vice President.


The Grand College of Rites named Franklin C. Boner as Illus. Grand Chancellor for 2010-2010. The Collecteana for 2010 (Volume 20) features degrees 19-45 of the Egyptian Masonic Rite of Memphis.

Congratulations to friend and Brother Aaron Shoemaker for receiving the Knight Grand Cross.



The English team that was coming to confer the degrees of the Royal Order of Masonic Knights of the Scarlet Cord arrived late in the day Friday, and the degrees went on. Unfortunately, the Art of Initiation program that was to have been presented at the George Washington Masonic Memorial was cancelled because of the snow. This included a demonstration of the English "Bristol Working" that few Masons outside of the U.K. have ever seen. This was a huge disappointment, and the program will hopefully be resurrected for next year's Masonic Week.

Also disappointing was the canceling of what has become an annual gathering of the Knights of the North & Friends at Gadsby's Tavern in Old Town. The snow thwarted that event, as well, and Gadsby's was unable to open all week.


Indiana Freemasons were well represented, in spite of the snow, as such minor encumbrances do not wilt us like hothouse lilies. Nathan Brindle, Jim Dillman, John Bridegroom, Roger VanGorden, Duane Vaught, the three Larrys–Gray, Brown and Kaminsky, all made it.

Unfortunately, nine boxes of my books got stranded on a loading dock somewhere in rural Virginia, never to be picked up.


However, the Hodapp's Dummkopfwägon performed flawlessly on smooth roads, on ice and in snow, and we simply hunkered down with the furnace on when the snow blindness got too rough. Many thanks to everyone who came by the table to chat or buy a book. Masonic Week is always a great place to see old friends and make new ones.

Now I have to turn around and drive back to D.C. on Friday to be at the Conference of Grand Masters of North America.

Yep. Snow is predicted for Saturday and Sunday.

Masonic Week 2010: The Operatives


Alice, Wiley and I fought our way home through yet another avalanche of global warming and made it home yesterday afternoon from Alexandria and a tremendous Masonic Week. I chose to stay an extra day and took the first two degrees of the Operatives, or as it is more correctly known, the Worshipful Society of Free Masons, Rough Masons, Wallers, Slaters, Paviors, Plaisterers and Bricklayers. I am now officially a member of the Bryn Athyn Quarry Assemblage in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The degrees of the Operatives were designed as a memorial of the practices of operative Free Masons, prior to the development of modern speculative Freemasonry.

Membership in the Society is restricted to those who are Master Masons, Mark Master Masons and Holy Royal Arch Companions in good standing.

From the Society's website:

The Society exists to perpetuate or preserve a memorial of the practices of operative Free Masons existing prior to, or continuing independently of, modern speculative Freemasonry.

It does not claim to be the successor to or connected with any former society of the same or any like name, nor that the ceremonies in fact represent precisely the practice of stonemasons, although some elements certainly reflect former practices. For instance, anyone wishing to learn the craft of stonemasonry in days gone by would do so in two ways; by either watching and practising next to an experienced workman (i.e. 'Sitting by Nellie', as it was known), or by entering into a formal apprenticeship deed with a master. This latter method is reflected in our Society today and, on joining, a candidate does not promptly become a 'mason' but is known as an Indentured Apprentice until through time and experience he is able to progress through the seven degrees of the Society, which are:

Grade I……. Indentured Apprentice

Grade II…… Fellow of the Craft

Grade III ...... Fitter and Marker

Grade IV…... Setter Erector

Grade V…… Intendent, Overseer, Super Intendent and Warden

Grade VI …..Passed Master (Note for Masons: Not Past Master)

Grade VII…. Master Mason, of whom three are Grand Master Masons
The Society is governed by three Grand Master Masons who traditionally hold their offices ad vitam, but waive that right. The First Grand Master Mason retires after a tenure of five years and the Second Grand Master Mason after a period of three years (although both are eligible for reappointment), whilst the office of Third Grand Master Mason terminates annually with the enactment of the Ancient Drama one year after his appointment.

The three Grand Masters are the sole members of the seventh degree Lodge, all others being said to be members of the seventh degree
honoris causa.
[snip]

"The Society has ordinarily generated considerable loyalty and affection among its members and, in addition to the merits of its ceremonies and practices, one reason is that the Society fills a notable gap in the masonic structure.

Speculative masons are happy to trace their origins to the practices of the ancient stone masons, but many then tend to forget all about them."

The Operatives exist to ensure that we do not all forget!


The founder of what is now the Operatives was Clement Edwin Stretton, who was an English civil engineer in the 1860s. As part of his training, Stretton was sent to a quarry in Derbyshire as a month-long crash course in learning something of how the building trade worked from the stone quarry to the job site. In those days, the operative stonemasons' guilds were dwindling in size and influence, but they were still in existence. While he was treated with indifference at first, his application to join the Guild masons opened up a whole new world to him. The Guild still conferred a series of seven operative degrees upon its stone working members, and its traditions long predated the formation of speculative Freemasonry.

Stretton became a Freemason in 1871, but was struck by the many differences between the two organizations. he believed the alterations and innovations made by the premiere Grand Lodge in London had diluted the philosophy and teachings of the original Guild Masons. Even though he went on to serve in many active officer positions in Craft and Royal Arch Freemasonry, he believed that the Master Mason degree that was added by the Grand Lodge in the 1720s was actually based on inadequate knowledge of the Operatives’ Annual Festival that commemorated the slaying of Hiram Abif. So, Stretton dedicated his later life to preserving the Operative degrees. Today, the Society now has more than two thousand members worldwide.

(Read a detailed history of Stretton and the tale of the Operatives here).

The event on Sunday was outstanding. There were 48 candidates for the first two degrees of the Operatives, including brethren visiting from Hawaii. The three Grand Master Masons of the Order braved the miserable weather and were in attendance from England: Rt W Bro Arthur Craddock, VII°, First Grand Master Mason; Rt W Bro David Kibble-Rees, VII°, Second Grand Master Mason; and Rt W Bro James W. Turner, VII°, Third Grand Master Mason.

Many thanks to Worshipful Brother Matthew D. Dupee VI°, Deputy Master Mason, and all of the officers of the Bryn Athyn Quarry Assemblage.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Masonic Society News from Masonic Week 2010


The following new officers of the Masonic Society have been elected, and accepted their positions:
Michael Poll, President
Rex Hutchens, 1st Vice President
Fred Kleyn, 2nd Vice President


Three new directors were elected:
David Naughton-Shires, Member Director
James Hogg, Fellow Director
and our third will be announced when he officially accepts the position.


They join current directors Mark Tabbert, James Dillman, Jay Hochberg and Ron Blaisdell. Nathan Brindle remains as our hard working Executive Secretary/Treasurer. The position of Executive Director has been eliminated. I remain as Editor in Chief of the Journal.

A new and revised set of by-laws were accepted by the officers and directors, and have been posted on the Masonic Society forum, along with being in Issue 8 of the Journal, to be published this spring.

The 2010 semi-annual meeting will be held in late summer or early autumn in New Orleans, home of our new president.

From the very beginning, we have believed that the Society's designation of 'Fellow" should encompass those brethren who have provided outstanding service to the masonic Society, but also to those Masons who labor in the quarries of the fraternity doing work that few other organizations acknowledge. They could be writers, artists, educators, web designers, librarians, administrators, or simply the unsung strong backs who get countless thankless jobs done behind the scenes. With that in mind, sixteen new Fellows of the Masonic Society were named:

John A. Bridegroom
Michael A. Chaplin, M.D.
John R. "Bo" Cline
Gerald C. "Ted" Connally
Glen A. Cook
José O. Díaz
Martin Faulks
Errol Feldman
Martyn Greene
George R. Haynes
Timothy W. Hogan
James W. Hogg
Kevin Noel Olson
Colin A. Peterson
Rashied K. Sharrieff-Al-Bey
Randall Williams


Our banquet on Friday evening suffered from the same weather problems as all events this week, with 68 attendees. But bear in mind that was almost exactly the same attendance as last year, and this year we sold over 90 tickets. Because of the weather that cancelled flights and wreaked havoc on the area, the absence of members of our panel discussion meant a little improvisation for our program. The AASR-NJ's William McNaughton and the General Grand High Priest of Royal Arch Masons, Emory Ferguson were kept away by the snow, so we were joined by the General Grand Chapter's Grand Secretary Larry Gray. And Grand Master of Knights Templar in the USA, William H. Koon II was able to make it in for a few minutes at the end of our program, as well. Many thanks to them both.

We had our table and display in the vendor's area, and picked up new members, as well as a handful of brethren who had been dropped for non-payment of their membership, who were reminded to re-up when they actually saw us there. The Society's reputation continues to grow and improve. Our membership continues to grow. In the 21 months since our beginning, we have gone from zero to more than 1,070 members or subscribers. Many thanks to Nathan Brindle for putting in the hours for three days on the membership table, as well as all of his tireless work on organizing the executive committee and director's meetings, conference calls, printed materials, reports, and the gadzillion other things he does behind the scenes that the rest of us never see.

Jim Dillman was our faithful hospitality suite lifeguard. In real life, Jim is a 911 dispatcher for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, so we felt he was uniquely qualified. When all others gave up for the evening, Jim kept the suite cleaned, well-stocked, and hospitable. We were hidden over in the Retreat side of the Hilton this year, at the end of a long, subterranean walk, but many brethren made the arduous trek and were rewarded with fun, friendship and firewater. Next year, it is our hope that the Virginia and Maryland Second Circle members will be able to take over this role.

I add my own special thanks to Roger VanGorden for all he has done as the founding President of the Society. Just two years ago after Masonic Week had ended, after dozens of phone calls and a flurry of emails among a handful of brethren, the Masonic Society was born as an idea. In many ways it has surpassed the dreams of the group of brethren who sought to create something new. But every single member has played an important role in making the Masonic Society a success. The longtime participants of the Masonic Week festivities who have seen TMS grow from zero to over a thousand members in just two years, and have seen us bring new participants in for our banquet who would otherwise not have taken part, are more than a little awestruck by our rapid growth. That is thanks to all of our members and their confidence in the Society. But it was Roger's vision and calm leadership that has planted a firm foundation for the Society to grow and flourish. He was my first contact when I sought to become a Freemason in 1998. Over the years, I have served as his Senior Warden, worked with him on committees, looked up to him as my Grand Master, and cried in a few beers with him. He is one of the very few men in this world I would follow into battle, anytime, anywhere. I am proud to say the rest of them also serve as officers of the Society.

I look forward to working with our new President, Michael Poll and to visiting New Orleans this year.

Bear in mind, we're not done. We're just getting started. Greater things are coming.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Masonic Week 2010: Pete Normand Named Newest Blue Friar

At the 66th Annual Consistory of the Society of Blue Friars, an organization of Masonic authors, Friar Thomas Jackson opened the meeting and introduced the newest member: Pierre G. "Pete" Normand, Jr. of College Station, Texas, Blue Friar No. 99. Pete is a Past Master of both Sul Ross Lodge No. 1300 and St. Alban's Lodge No. 1455 in College Station, Texas, and is a Past Master of the Texas Lodge of Research. He is the former editor of American Masonic Review and of the Plumbline, the bulletin of the Scottish Rite Research Society.

Pete's paper was on the formation and growth of Traditional Observance, European Concept, and other so-called traditional practices lodges. These types of lodges follow to one extent or another the "Seven Principles of Traditional Freemasonry" as enumerated by Worshipful Brother John Mauk Hilliard, Past Master of Independent Royal Arch Lodge No. 2, New York Constitution: Ritual excellence, education, festive board or table lodge, charitable outreach, elegance of dress, selectivity and exclusivity, and a strong demand of commitment by its members. St. Alban's was founded in 1992, and was arguably the first U.S. lodge to be established using these guidelines.

The Blue Friars were formed in 1932 to recognize Masonic authors. There are currently twenty-two members.

Blue Friars' Grand Abbot S. Brent Morris was unfortunately absent from the entire weekend, including a dinner address to the Rosicrucians, the Scottish Rite Research Society lunch, and the Blue Friars, all owing to his inability to dig his way out of the nearly four feet of snow filling his driveway.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Masonic Week Thursday Night

Airports are open, flights are trickling in. Masonic Week is up and running.

The Masonic Society hospitality suite is open tonight in room 424 of the retreat side of the hotel. Come see us.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Michael Jackson Masonic Murder Conspiracy

I'm sure you thought I was kidding when I said Michael Jackson's doctor Charles Murray would be accused of a Masonic conspiracy in the death of the King of Pop.

Now, People Magazine is reporting just that. According to a story today, Jackson's father Joe and his sister LaToya are accusing Dr, Charles Murray of being a tool of a Masonic cabal that runs the music industry.

From People Magazine Daily:

“Michael said to himself that he would be killed, and he told his mother that. ‘Cause he’s afraid that ah, he was afraid, to even do all of these shows, because he was afraid that he wouldn’t get a chance to finish all of the show because he couldn’t,” Joe Jackson said referring to the 50-date residency at London’s O2.

“He couldn’t do all those shows back-to-back. Even his kids say that he had told them that he would be murdered.”

Joe blamed “a whole slew of” people along with Murray for Michael’s death including Frank DiLeo and Dr. Tohme Tohme.

LaToya Jackson also issued a statement after the hearing Monday stating that other people were involved in Michael’s death.

“Michael was murdered and although he died at the hands of Dr. Conrad Murray, I believe Dr. Murray was apart of a much larger plan. There are other individuals involved and I will not rest and I will continue to fight until all of the proper individuals are brought forth and justice is served,” LaToya wrote.

[snip}

Murray is a member of the Freemasons according to Fox News; a centuries-old fraternal order with members including numerous heads of state in the Western World, wealthy business people and local middleclass citizens.

In July Fox reported Murray’s friends told their news group that since joining this fraternal order three years ago “this new network galvanized his growing side business [his traveling medical concierge business]” and placed him within the network of AEG LIVE executives in-charge of Michael’s forthcoming London concerts who recommended Murray to Michael.

[snip]

A theory swirling around the world is that the Masonic organization Murray belongs to brought him connections with powerful people within the recording companies and touring agencies that are also members of that organization, and they conspired together to continuously drug Michael, sway him to assign his rights to music copyrights and other income streams over to them while under the influence of drugs.

Under closer examination of numerous current music videos and performances from the musicians employed by the few big American music companies, one can find a blatant recurring theme of illusions [sic] to Freemasonry and Illuminati lending credence to the theory.

Michael’s later work, such as the video for “They Don’t Care About Us” included illusions [sic] to battling against a sinister cabal, such as the Illuminati.

The Jackson attorney Oxman told Larry King Monday, “I think they intended to take a superstar, a megastar, and have him do what they wanted him to do, and one of the ways to do it was to give him every drug he could possibly ask for.”



Apparently the Jacksons and People Magazine are incapable of rudimentary internet searches, or of understanding the way Freemasonry works in the United States. Just for the record, Dr. Conrad Murray is a member of the "United Most Worshipful Scottish Grand Lodge of Texas" where he holds the title of "Grand Medical Director." The MW Scottish Rite Grand Lodge of Texas is an unrecognized, clandestine grand lodge on the list of bogus grand lodges identified by the Phylaxis Society. Their "cabal" extends to the city limits of Houston. But such details generally elude most non-Masons.

As for Masonic references in performances by acts like Lady Gaga and Jay-Z, they seem to simply be capitalizing on the new interest in the fraternity, and making fat wads of pelf by underestimating the intelligence of the public.

Masonic Week 2010 - Weather's Here, Wish You Were Beautiful

The lobby of the Alexandria Hilton Mark Center is nearly deserted.

A few of us sit in the bar lobby, watching three TV screens flickering with the local and national Eyewitness Action Weather Scareteam updates telling us what we already know. Occasionally, an elevator door slips open and a dejected fellow appears. He wanders to the window and looks out at an alien landscape, through the glare of a solid wall of blowing snow. Last year, he thinks, it was in the 60s. The trees were trying to pop open. The hotel was already spreading mulch. Global warming was going to kill us all. Now, this.

I think a mastodon just wandered through the taxi lane.

The second blizzard in a week has struck half of the country, and this annual gathering of Freemasons may be a little thinner than usual, as a result. Almost two feet of snow was already here when Alice, Wiley and I pulled into the lot in the Dumkopfwägon yesterday evening. Now, another 8-14 inches or so is falling, and winds are making drifts even deeper.

Wednesday's "Art of Initiation" events at the George Washington Masonic Memorial have been cancelled. Many brethren due to arrive today are either canceling or moving their flights to arrive Thursday. The Masonic Society is still on track for its annual banquet on Friday, and we have 90 reservations—a fantastic number for only our second year. Hopefully, most will be able to be here. The hospitality suite will open tomorrow. Please check at our table in the vendor's area for the room number, as it has not yet been assigned.

We intrepid Hoosiers are not weather weenies and do not succumb to pesky irritants like blizzards, road closures, black ice and avalanches. Masonic Society Secretary/Treasurer Nathan Brindle drove in with a carload of supplies and met Director Jim Dillman at the airport in Baltimore. I hauled a trailer full of stuff, as well.

The good news is that, if no one shows up, I have enough scotch to last the week, as long as Nathan and Jim are sippers.

In the meantime, here is what Washington is doing with all of its snow.

More as it happens.