Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Grand Lodge of Arkansas Pulls Charter, Files Charges Over Website

Following the posting of the order of the Grand Master of Arkansas telling mainstream Masons there not to purchase Masonic license plates issued by the state, Sebastian Lodge #706 has had its charter revoked, and the lodge secretary, Brother Derek Gordon, has been suspended. The drama has played out on the Sebastian Lodge website at http://sebastianlodge.com, and the messages there have changed several times.

The Grand Master's license plate directive was issued because the plates were negotiated with the state of Arkansas by the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas, and proceeds benefit the Prince Hall GL's scholarship program. The predominantly white Grand Lodge of Arkansas does not recognize its predominantly African-American Prince Hall counterpart.

Sebastian Lodge allegedly had its charter revoked because the website contained Masonic information from lectures the Grand Lodge deemed either secret or otherwise inappropriate for public viewing, and not because of its posting of the Grand Master's license plate order. Gordon claims the inappropriate material was taken from other Arkansas lodge websites, which have not been suspended.

Gordon has posted his side of the events at http://derekgordon.com/letter-to-masons. It says, in part:

Our charter was revoked for being un-Masonic as to our website. I, Derek Gordon, apologize for mentioning the order to not purchase license plates. As the order said, all members must be notified. This seemed to be a great way to get it there as many members visited.

I, being secretary, webmaster, legal domain owner, and creator of this website, never meant to upset Grand Lodge. Rather, I sought to protect our lodge because so many saw the letter as racist. I realize it was not meant to taken that way, but its poor penmanship didn’t get the proper message across. Other Arkansas lodges have the same kind of post, yet they still have their charter. Some Arkansas lodges and members have posted the entire letter from the Grand Secretary online and those too have yet to see punishment.

*REGARDING other information supplied and provided on the Sebastian Lodge website,
it was all found on other Arkansas lodge websites. Some of those were created as far back as 2001; this site was created in May of 2009. I never typed a single word regarding the lectures and Masonic history. The page source-code made light of that. I posted the Masonic informatoin because it had been written by and posted on other Arkansas lodge websites for years; I thought it must be acceptable by precedent. As a Mason of 2.5 years, I was foolish to believe that if other lodges are allowed to do something (created by Masons who have been in much longer than I have), it would be acceptable for our lodge to display as well.

To my former brethren of Sebastian Lodge, I apologize to you for this instance. I felt that we were safe after finding the post on so many other sites. There’s much more to the story, but out of respect for Masonry and for the title of Grand Master and the Grand Lodge I will humbly refrain.

I further urge all Masons to support Sebastian Lodge in reobtaining its charter. By this I outline that I was doing what was seen as acceptable by precedent. The lodge itself was not involved in this directly. I am ashamed at the outcome.

UPDATE: Currently, I’m awaiting a Masonic trial for expulsion that I probably can’t attend do to conflicts with military obligations while serving our great country . It is scheduled for the weekend of April 17th, 2010. I will do my best to travel the more than 800 total miles to attend this if I can be let off. The Grand Master informed me via telephone on March 27th at 9:50pm that it will be that date, it won’t be rescheduled, and to find someone to take my place. It didn’t matter that I’m the one with the information and evidence to secure my good name.

Should you wish to contact me, it is possible by emailing webmaster706@sebastianlodge.com at your convenience.


The letter of charges against Brother Gordon has been posted on The Burning Taper website, and does not refer to anything concerning the lodge's website. He is a member of the Arkansas National Guard, and the trial date was set for a weekend of mandatory participation in Guard maneuvers. Grand Lodge will not change the date.

The statement concerning license plates has also been removed from the Boone Lodge #314 website. It had read:

NOTICE: Grand Lodge of Arkansas has declared that no Arkansas Freemason is to purchase a Masonic Arkansas license plate. These are for Prince Hall Masons, which Arkansas considers to be clandestine lodges.

This notice fulfills the requirement of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas for each subordinated Lodge to inform their members.

The publishing of this notice does not necessarily reflect the views of Boone Lodge or its members.


Brother Fred Milliken has done a thorough explanation of the events and timetable of the actions concerning Sebastian Lodge and Brother Gordon. Read it here.

Interesting to note that Sebastian Lodge allegedly had its charter pulled for violation of a new rule passed one month before by GL that was sent to the lodge in the same packet as Gordon's charges.

It is also interesting to note that Brother Gordon had tried to form a committee for Prince Hall recognition, but was informed by the the Grand Master that Arkansas' Prince Hall Masons did not desire to have anything to do with the Grand Lodge of Arkansas AF & AM.



UPDATE
It seems the front page of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas website has vanished and is "under construction." However, brethren seeking clarification of the current Grand Lodge of Arkansas policies may wish to contact the Grand Master or Grand Secretary:

Grand Lodge of Arkansas
700 Scott Street
Little Rock, AR 72201
501-374-6408

Martin Warren, Grand Master
529 Ridgecrest Rd
Heber Springs, AR
501-362-9933
JMGWarren@argrandlodge.org

James L. Weatherall, PGM, Grand Secretary
700 Scott Street
Little Rock, AR 72201
501/374-6408
GSecretary@argrandlodge.org

Florida Proposed Legislation to Recognize Prince Hall GL

The Grand Lodge of Florida has circulated copies of proposed legislation for their upcoming annual meeting.

This includes the following resolution:

RESOLUTION REGARDING RECOGNITION OF
THE MOST WORSHIPFUL UNION GRAND LODGE OF
THE MOST ANCIENT AND HONORABLE FRATERNITY OF
FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA,
BELIZE, CENTRAL AMERICA AND JURISDICTION THEREUNTO

The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge Free & Accepted Masons of Florida (hereinafter the Grand Lodge) in order to establish and implement full and complete Masonic recognition; to insure a continuing harmonious relationship between it and The Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge of The Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Florida, Belize, Central America and Jurisdiction Thereunto (hereinafter the Union Grand Lodge); to provide for the successful coexistence of both grand lodges and to promote Freemasonry in general among all peoples; and

WHEREAS, it has become generally accepted that Prince Hall Freemasonry is regular in form and practice; and

WHEREAS, the Prince Hall Grand Lodges derive their origin from Africa Lodge No. 459 which received a charter from the United Grand Lodge of England in 1784; and

WHEREAS, the Union Grand Lodge was created in 1877 as a Prince Hall Affiliated Grand Lodge for the Jurisdiction of Florida, Belize, and Central America; and

WHEREAS, 41 United States Grand Lodges have established a fraternal relationship with one or more Prince Hall Grand Lodges; and

WHEREAS, the Grand Lodge desires to remain autonomous within its jurisdiction and to operate hereafter as heretofore with its own Grand Master and other Grand Lodge officers, Constitution, Digest of Masonic Law, bylaws, ritual, rules and regulations, and to retain its absolute and supreme sovereignty over its own subordinate Lodges and membership;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge Free & Accepted Masons of Florida that:

1. The Grand Lodge hereby extends fraternal recognition to the Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge as a duly constituted Masonic Grand Lodge.

2. The Grand Lodge will remain autonomous within its jurisdiction, and does not abrogate its absolute and supreme sovereignty- legislative, executive and judicial- over its own subordinate Lodges and membership and will operate hereafter as heretofore with its own Grand Master and other Grand Lodge officers, Constitution, Digest of Masonic Law, bylaws, ritual, rules and regulations.

3. Established, herewith is a committee to be named The Prince Hall Fraternal Relations Committee. The Committee shall be composed of a Chairman and four members appointed by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge. The duty and function of this Committee shall be to establish and maintain formal fraternal contact with the Union Grand Lodge for the purpose of creating and sustaining a Compact between the two Grand Lodges and to review all such matters and things relating to the fraternal relationship between both Grand Lodges and to make report and recommendations thereon to the Grand Lodge.

Respectfully Submitted,
R∴W∴ Seth L. Rothstein, P.D.D.G.M., Solomon Lodge No. 20
Brother Simon D. Rothstein, Solomon Lodge No. 20
Brother Fitzhugh K. Powell, Solomon Lodge No. 20

(Jurisprudence recommends rejection.)

It should be noted that Jurisprudence Committees rarely explain their recommendations.

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.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Indianapolis Shriners sue Live Nation, Old National over Murat renaming

From the Indianapolis Business Journal today:

The Murat Temple Association has filed suit against Live Nation Worldwide and Old National Bank with hopes of overturning a naming-rights deal for a landmark entertainment and hospitality venue in downtown Indianapolis.

The lawsuit was filed March 26 in Marion County Superior Court.

The Murat Temple Association is a Shriners affiiate that owns the Murat Centre, which on March 16 was renamed the "Old National Centre" in a three-year deal between the bank and Live Nation. Terms of the naming-rights deal were not disclosed.

MTA's suit alleges that Live Nation's lease does not include rights to rename the building, and that the name change "caused Shriners to be held in lesser light by the general public, who erroneously believe Shriners were responsible for the name change, and from whom money is raised to support ... Shriners Hospital for Children."

The lawsuit says MTA notified Live Nation that it did not have the right to change the facility's name more than six weeks before the official renaming took place.

The Shriners are seeking an injunction to reverse the name change and unspecified damages.


More.

The Murat Shrine Temple Association owns the building, and LiveNation leases the theatre and the Egyptian Room as part of a 50 year agreement. LiveNation says they have the right to rename the building, MSTA says they don't.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mass-Market Epiphany

Thanks to Dr. Michael Chaplin over on the Masonic Society Forum today for posting a link to this opinion piece by Ross Douthat in the New York Times. In it, Douthat refers to Luke Timothy Johnson, writing in the latest issue of the Catholic journal Commonweal.

From Mass-Market Epiphany:

As society has become steadily more materialistic, Johnson declares, our churches have followed suit, giving up on the ascetic and ecstatic aspects of religion and emphasizing only the more worldly expressions of faith. Conservative believers fixate on the culture wars, religious liberals preach social justice, and neither leaves room for what should be a central focus of religion — the quest for the numinous, the pursuit of the unnamable, the tremor of bliss and the dark night of the soul.

[snip]

By making mysticism more democratic, we’ve also made it more bourgeois, more comfortable, and more dilettantish. It’s become something we pursue as a complement to an upwardly mobile existence, rather than a radical alternative to the ladder of success. Going to yoga classes isn’t the same thing as becoming a yogi; spending a week in a retreat center doesn’t make me Thomas Merton or Thérèse of Lisieux. Our kind of mysticism is more likely to be a pleasant hobby than a transformative vocation.

What’s more, it’s possible that our horizons have become too broad, and that real spiritual breakthroughs require a kind of narrowing — the decision to pick a path and stick with it, rather than hopscotching around in search of a synthesis that “works for me.” The great mystics of the past were often committed to a particular tradition and community, and bound by the rules (and often the physical confines) of a specific religious institution. Without these kind of strictures and commitments, Johnson argues, mysticism drifts easily into a kind of solipsism: “Kabbalism apart from Torah-observance is playacting; Sufism disconnected from Shariah is vague theosophy; and Christian mysticism that finds no center in the Eucharist or the Passion of Christ drifts into a form of self-grooming.”



Johnson is a wonderful writer on religious thought, in case you've never encountered him before. His recent Commonweal article, Dry Bones, on which Douthat is commenting, is an excellent exploration of the role of mysticism, esoteric and exoteric aspects of religions.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Indiana's Levent Preceptory in Illinois 6/12/2010

(Photo by John Bridegroom of Levant Preceptory after conferring the Order of the Temple on March 20th at Highland Commandery in Hammond, Indiana)

Levant Preceptory is a group of Indiana Knights Templar from various commanderies that confers the Order of the Temple in period Knight Templar costumes including chainmail armor, broadswords, and helmets. While we are organized under the charter of Indianapolis' Raper Commandery No. 1, Sir Knights cooperate from commanderies all over Indiana to take part in this unique presentation of the Masonic Knight Templar orders.

(Levant Preceptory after conferring the Order of the Temple at the Indiana Masonic Home in Franklin, Indiana)

Levant Preceptory will be traveling to Red Hills State Park Park near Sumner, IL on June 12 for an outdoor conferral of the Order of the Temple. Sumner is in southeastern Illinois approximately 20 miles west of Vincennes, IN. SK Bill Hussey is the point man for the group in Illinois and he informs us that they have commitments to attend from commanderies in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and possibly Missouri. The Right Eminent Grand Commander of Illinois, Sir Knight Joseph W. Lucas, will be in attendance, as will members of the Grand Commandery of Indiana.

The conferral is expected to begin at 2:00 P.M. local time, 3:00 P.M. Indianapolis time.

For more information about Levant Preceptory, contact Raper Commandery No. 1 Eminent Commander James R. Dillman.

John L. Cook, Jr Elected GM of Minnesota

Congratulations to my friend and brother, MWBro. John L. Cook, Jr. on his election as the newest Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota.

MWBro. Cook was raised at Tusler-Summit Lodge # 263, where he served as Worshipful Master in 1999. He is a member of the St. Paul Valley of the Scottish Rite, as well as the Carmel chapter of the Eastern Star. He served on the Leadership Committee that designed the Master’s notebook for Minnesota, and has chaired the State Fair Kids ID program.

John has a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University Ithaca, NY, and served in the U.S. Army in Viet Nam. In 2006 he retired from Ford Motor Credit after 35 years, and currently is the Customer Service Manager for Medstat Systems. He is divorced, with a daughter and an 8 month old granddaughter.

And three cheers to RWBro. Thomas G. McCarthy for his outstanding year as GM. His blog has been a great source this year for information about the activities in Minnesota.

Friday, March 26, 2010

My Medical Sideshow

Driving home from Philadelphia Tuesday, I became afflicted with, attacked by, stricken, or otherwise beset with a stabbing pain in my lower chest. Think of Patrick Troughton (right) in The Omen getting shiskabobbed by a lightening rod. When I finally pulled the van into the driveway, I literally couldn't manage to get out of the driver's seat. The other 50% of the agony was that I picked up a head cold, and every time I coughed or sneezed, it shot through me like a shotgun blast.

I decided to inaugurate the first official day of ObamaCare with a trip to the emergency room. It didn't disappoint. Four hours and untold thousands of dollars later, I was sent home, after being told it wasn't gall bladder, gall stones, kidney stones, shingles, a heart attack or cancer.

My doctor loves it when I show up. I don't bring him simple, time wasting stuff. No, I always drop in with a case of head-scratching unusualness. And this one was a true poser. More x-rays and another CT scan still showed nothing definitive. Only that it wasn't a blot clot, either.

The diagnosis now is pleurisy. it's one of those quaint old Victorian ailments (like my goiter a few years back) that no one seems to get anymore, and so nobody really looks for it. It's caused by an inflammation in the membrane around the lungs (called the pleura) that keeps the lungs from rubbing up against the bones of the rib cage. Sometimes the pleura can just get punched around and irritated, like a Democrat senator at a Tea Party town hall meeting, or it can fill up with fluid, like a Republican senator at a cash bar fundraiser, which results in a downright bizarre collection of wheezes, whines and gurgles when you try to breathe deeply. When it does both. it feels like pneumonia, but with the added thrills of constant, doubled-over, scream-inducing pain that makes you look and sound like an ill-fated cast extra in the 300 Spartans.

So, I'm on a cocktail of pure codeine (can't take it buffered with Tylenol), which puts me on the FDA criminal watch list since it gets treated like yellow cake uranium by the Feds, and an obscure anti-inflammatory steroid of the sort that makes the poodle pee on the floor and hump the footstool. So far, it's only given me really vivid dreams in which I am some sort of accomplice in a gangster movie. But at least I am back to feeling normalish for the first time this week.

Maine Masonic College, July 16-17, 2010 in Bangor

The Maine Masonic College, an education program sponsored by the Grand Lodge of Maine, has announced its 2010 annual convocation.

Planning for the Future Reaching for Humanitas - Building for Humanity
July 16-17, 2010, at the Hollywood Slots Hotel, in Bangor, Maine.

Speakers for the weekend include:

Mark Tabbert- George Washington National Masonic Memorial & Author of “American Freemasons”
“The tenet of Truth: how has it been interpreted over the last 250 years and how is it interpreted today"

Robert T. Conley, PGM (MI)
GL of Michigan: Director, Membership Services
“Masonic Relevance in the 21st Century”

Robert G. Davis, FPS
Masonic Educator ~ Author of “Understanding Manhood in America
“The New American Mason: Generations Together in Private Conclaves of Manhood”

Richard Fletcher PGM(VT)
Masonic Service Association of North America
"Issues We Sweep Under The Table"

Prof. William D. Moore
Author of “Masonic Temples: Freemasonry, Ritual Architecture, and Masculine Archetypes
“Freemasonry and the problem of the Ph.D.”

Wayne T. Adams, PGM
Author of ‘Hiram’s Handbook and many more
"Planning for the Future Roundtable Leader"

Prof. Michael Howard
Professor of Philosophy, University of Maine
“The legacy of the Enlightenment: challenges and responses”

Edward L. “Ed” King, FPS
www.masonicInfo.com
“Whither are we educating?”

Eric W. Kuntz, M.D.
Child Psychiatrist & Medical Director
“Translating our Masonic learning into practice”

• And led by Walter M. Macdougall, PGM
Author of “Settling the Maine Wilderness”and “Epilogue of Freemasonry: the Vital Exploration”

Full schedule and registration forms online at www.MaineMasonicCollege.com

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Lost Symbol Sold 5 Million in 2009

Grand Masters lie awake nights dreaming of how to get Freemasonry back into the collective consciousness of society. Well, it's already happening.

Publishers Weekly announced today that Dan Brown's novel, The Lost Symbol, smoked the publishing industry by selling 5,543,643 hardback copies between September 15th and December 31st, 2009 in the US. Worldwide it sold 8 million.

The paperback is due in stores as early as July of this year, which is when sales will skyrocket. Recall that Brown's The Da Vinci Code eventually sold 80 million copies.

The movie is due in 2012, and a DVD will follow 6-10 months later.

Pay attention, brethren.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sides Square Off In Murat Shrine Theatre Name Battle

The latest wrinkle in the battle over naming rights to the Indianapolis Murat Shrine building is in today's Indianapolis Business Journal. "Shriners weighing legal options against Live Nation" reads, in part:

"Our members are understandably upset," said Greg Miller, a board member of the Murat Temple Association and attorney based in Crawfordsville. "They believe we've participated in this and financially benefitted. We've not."

Miller said the Shriners caught wind of the impending name change in January and sent a letter to the venue's general manager, Terry Hennessey. Miller said the letter demanded that Live Nation seek the Shriners' permission to change the name, but the letter went unanswered.

Hennessey did not return a phone call Friday.

Murat Temple Association directors were shocked to see an announcement about a press conference emblazoned across the building's marquee on Monday, March 15, when they arrived for a board meeting, Miller said. "We were on high alert, scrambling," Miller said. "Obviously, the January letter had fallen on deaf ears."

Miller said the Shriners fired off another letter on Tuesday, and received a reply by e-mail Friday morning from the vice president of legal affairs at Live Nation. Miller said the Shriners' legal counsel would review it and craft a response.

The Shriners' lease with Live Nation allows the tenant to put up signage for sponsors and advertisers, Miller said. The lease also requires that the Murat Theatre retain its historic name. But it's silent on the subject of naming the building. "Unless those rights are specifically given to a tenant, they stay with the landlord," Miller said.

At the press conference on Tuesday, LIve Nation Senior Vice President Tom Mendenhall said the company didn't have to modify its lease with the Shriners before putting Old National's name on the building. "We had the right. It's under the lease agreement," he said.

The Murat Temple Association entered a 50-year lease on Sept. 1, 1995 with Murat Centre LP, a company controlled by Dave Lucas and Sunshine Promotions Inc. The locally based company was later sold to SFX Entertainment Inc. Clear Channel Communications, Inc. later bought SFX. Live Nation is a Clear Channel spin-off.


The building belongs to the Murat Temple Association Inc., a not-for-profit holding company that shares board members with Murat Shrine club. In the name of full disclosure, I am a member of Murat Shrine. We remain the largest Shrine in the world, with 6,500 members throughout central Indiana.

New Hampshire Masons in the News: Open Houses 3/27

I'm on the road this weekend, but check out the article in today's Nashua Telegraph on Nashua, New Hampshire's Masons, and Grand Master Wayne Libby:

The men who belong are Masons, a cohesive fraternity of individuals who pride themselves on strength of character, personal and family values, loyal friendships, and the importance of charitable and philanthropic endeavors.

There’s tons to know about Masonry, and thanks to a fairly new endeavor begun by state grand master C. Wayne Libby, the ideal opportunity will come up next Saturday, when the Nashua lodge and many others throughout the state will throw open their doors to the public. . .

Libby, a New Hampshire native and longtime Nashua resident who rose to state grand master from his leadership of Rising Sun Lodge, said the Masons are a charitable, philanthropic fraternity that’s sometimes mischaracterized as a religious, or secret, society that shuns outsiders.

“We’re everybody,” he said. “We’re a microcosm of society. We’re a self-governed, disciplined organization that’s based on respect, very strong principles and freedom.”


New Hampshire Freemasons will hold statewide open houses on Saturday March 27th,

Freemason Fess Parker, RIP


Received this today about the death of actor and Freemason Fess Parker:

We lost another very prominent Brother today who, in real life and his movie/TV roles, evoked many of the attributes of a just & upright Mason.

Bro. Fess Parker died peacefully today at age 85. After a very successful career in Hollywood (movies as disparate as "Old Yeller" and "Them") from "51 to the "70's, he made a fortune in real estate, resorts and his own award-winning "Fess Parker Winery".

His most famous role of course was as 'Davy Crockett' (I'm sure those of you 55 & older either had a coonskin cap, replica of his rifle, 'Ol Betsy' or a Davy Crockett lunch box) He later starred in the "Daniel Boone" TV series. He even sang a version of the title song "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" which got to #4 on the charts.

Enlisting in the USMC late in WWII with hopes of becoming a pilot, his height kept him with other duty. After the war he was a good athlete at the U. of Texas, graduating with a degree in History. The guitar-playing 6'6" gentleman with the southern accent caught the eye of Walt Disney and the rest was history. Incidentally Fess Parker was his given name.

Some Masonic notes: Bro. Parker portrayed Bro. Crockett & Bro. Boone, costarring with Bro. Buddy Ebsen in the former as his sidekick. He also was in a western with Bro. Gene Autry & in "Island in the Sky" with Bro. John Wayne (the only other actor to portray Bro. Crockett in a movie). And of course Walt Disney & Buddy Ebsen were both Sr. DeMolays.

Bro. Parker had just celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary and leaves a widow, son, daughter & grandchildren.

As people comment at work or at some social gathering about his passing, we can proudly say, \’yes, Fess Parker was a fraternity Brother of mine!\’.

Written by

Gerald A. Edgar, PM
Mosaic #125 AF&AM (Dubuque, IA)
York Rite Bodies @ Mason City, IA
Sr. DeMolay (Chev/LOH)


UPDATE
Please note that this was originally attributed to JR Knight, PM, Senior Deacon, S.W. Hackett Lodge #574. I have since been informed by Gerald Edgar, PM from Dubuque, Iowa that he is the author.

See also Brother Ed King's skeptical response in the comments to this entry.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Solomon's Builders in U.S. News & World Report: Secrets of the Lost Symbol

The special publication U.S. News & World Report: Secrets of the Lost Symbol features a lengthy excerpt of chapters from Solomon's Builders: Freemasons, Founding Fathers and the Secrets of Washington D.C.

Also featured are portions of Mark Tabbert's American Freemasons, and articles by Art De Hoyos, Simon Cox, Mitch Horowitz, Michael Parkes, and more.

From the US News website:

DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE LOST SYMBOL

In The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown's blockbuster sequel to The Da Vinci Code, world-famous symbologist Robert Langdon once again finds himself in the midst of murder and mayhem—this time in the heart of the nation's capital in Washington, D.C.

This unauthorized guide to the novel, by the editors of the best-selling Secrets of the Da Vinci Code, unravels all the history and mysteries of the novel from the codes, secrets and unseen truths to the mystical rituals and hidden past of the Masons, the secret society whose clandestine world is at the heart of Brown's lurid tale.

This special collector's edition from U.S. News & World Report includes:

  • The hidden Masonic connections behind many of Washington's most famous buildings.
  • An inside look at America's most famous Masons, including Presidents George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Truman.
  • The real story behind the Ancient Mysteries and the Bible that are the key to understanding the novel.
  • In-depth coverage of the many mysterious and esoteric Masonic symbols, from the double-headed Phoenix to the Akedah Knife.
  • The true story of the CIA's Kryptos sculpture, whose code has confounded even the super-sleuths at the Agency.

Available in bookstores now, or online.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

On The Road Again!



I'm hitting the road Friday for Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Saturday, March 20, 2010 I'm speaking at the Grand Lodge of Maryland's Masonic Leadership Conference at Rocky Gap Park, outside of Flintstone, MD


On Monday, March 22, 2010, I'll be at Columbia Lodge No. 91 in Pennsylvania Freemasons' Hall in Philadelphia, PA.


Then on Thursday, March 25, 2010, I'll visit the High 12 Club of Columbus, Indiana, meeting at noon at the Sirloin Stockade, 3114 North National Road.

Looking forward to meeting new brethren!

Indianapolis' Murat Shriners May Halt Theater Name Change

It was announced earlier this week that Indianapolis' Murat Theatre, owned by the Shriners but leased to LiveNation, was to be renamed "Old National Center" after LiveNation struck a naming rights deal with Old National Bank of Evansville, Indiana.

Not so fast, say the Murat Shriners of Indianapolis.

This from WIBC-FM this afternoon:

Deal to Rename Murat May Be Null and Void
By Stan Lehr
3/18/2010

The deal to put a new name on the Murat Centre may be null and void.

That's the contention of the Murat Temple Association. The group claims it was not involved in the negotiations between promoter Live Nation, a Murat Centre tenant, and Old National Bank--whose name now appears on the front of the building at 520 North New Jersey Street.

"We've not sold out any portion of the building," says Greg Miller, an attorney and member of the Murat Board of Directors. "It is our desire that the facility be continued to use the name Murat."

The Association owns the building. Live Nation leases the Murat Theatre, the Egyptian Room and other amenities. Miller says the company does not have the right, as a tenant, to rename the building.

A call from 93 WIBC to the Old National Centre--that's how the phone is being answered--has not been returned. General Manager Terry Hennessey and Old National Bank CEO Randy Reichmann announced the deal Tuesday.

"There's a team of lawyers at this point in time looking into the matter to decide what our options are," says Miller.

Journal of the Masonic Society Update


Members of the Masonic Society have been patiently waiting for their Issue #7 of the Journal to arrive since January. As you can see from the official Post Office photo above, it is arriving now, some two months later than it was due. I have been receiving emails and phone calls wondering why half of the events in the calendar section have come and gone before the issue landed in mail boxes.

As Editor, the blame can be spread around, but it is ultimately my responsibility.

Our files went out in early January, but unbeknownst to me, our printer in Texas was undergoing a merger, major reconstruction, the installation of new equipment, and new personnel when our job arrived. In the meantime, the blizzards and Masonic events of February—Masonic Week and the Conference of Grand masters—kept me focussed elsewhere instead of chasing down the order. As a result, there was much scrambling and gnashing of teeth when it was discovered that our job fell between the cracks. This, after we had believed that we had the system working well.

The good news is that the printer now has all printing, bagging and mailing services under one roof, instead of outsourcing, which will now result in faster turnarounds, better handling, and even less cost. So out of this comes a better product for us.

Issue 8 is now being wrapped up and will go to the printers the first week in April. It WILL be in members' hands by about the third week in April, depending on our postal service friends. We are always looking for well-researched articles, photos, and news events. Please forward them to articles@themasonicsociety.com

The quarterly Journal of The Masonic Society presents articles that enlighten our past, and explore solutions to the challenges facing Freemasonry today.

The Journal features articles by the best-known authors in Freemasonry, as well as the brethren from the lodge in your neighborhood. We especially invite research lodges to submit their papers to The Journal of The Masonic Society for publication to an international audience.

We also bring our members articles from the non-Masonic academic world that is looking with greater interest than ever at our fraternity and its place in society. And we present timely Masonic news, photos and commentary from around the globe, in full color.

We also accept advertising that is of interest to Freemasons, and we are very grateful to our growing list of advertisers who have supported the magazine in our first two years. We have an international audience, with 1,100 members in 16 countries, and quickly growing every day. For very reasonable ad rates, click here.

Don't know about The Masonic Society? We're the fastest growing Masonic research organization in the world. Check out our website for more information here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Masonic Society Semi-Annual Meeting in New Orleans 9/24-25

This announcement comes today from Masonic Society President Michael Poll:
Mark your calendars, Brothers!

The 2010 Semiannual gathering of The Masonic Society will be on Friday September 24th and Saturday the 25th in New Orleans. The hotel and full list of events are not yet set, but will be announced soon. We can say that we will have some great speakers, a great banquet and, for those who may not have seen it before, a Scottish Rite EA degree exemplification. All held in one of the most fun and historic cities in the U.S.

More details soon!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Br. Jay Hochberg and Flooding In Northern New Jersey


Brother Jay Hochberg over at The Magpie Mason blog is reporting a major flood at the Scottish Rite Valley of Northern New Jersey in Lincoln Park. Friday when Jay took this photo, the water was two to three feet deep, but the river was expected to crest at five feet, and the Valley's building was already flooded.

Jay is a part of the team that creates the Journal of the Masonic Society, a regular poster on the MasonicLight Yahoo group, and a tireless reporter of Masonic activities in the Northeast US. He reports that he is okay, but that he is using a neighbor's computer to check his email. Take a moment to keep Jay and the folks in this part of the country in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Indianapolis Murat Theatre to become Old National Center. Yuck.

This is what can happen when Freemasons just pitch their heritage overboard.

Several years ago, the Murat Shrine Center in Indianapolis leased half of their incredible 1910 Middle Eastern-styled building and theatre to what is now Live Nation. They negotiated a long lease deal that puts Live Nation in charge of the theatre side of the building.



The Murat Theatre main auditorium.


Almost immediately, members were shocked as one of the first shows booked into the theatre was "The Vagina Chronicles." Freemasons all across Central Indiana were aghast.

Still, the name of Murat Shrine, formed in 1882, was still alive, and the theatre was still associated in the city's collective memory with Shriners.

Well, today it was announced in the Indianapolis Star that Live Nation has struck a sponsorship deal with Old National Bank of Evansville, Indiana, and the Murat Theatre will now be known as the Old National Center.

Yuck.

Freemasonry's African Image Problem

Several months back, I was surprised that the book Freemasons For Dummies had caused problems for the Prime Minister of Senegal when he was caught reading it on an airplane. His past Masonic membership was dragged through the press as a pejorative. I figured it was just standard Masonophobic hysteria. But the image problem of Freemasonry in Africa among its leaders goes far deeper and is much more troubled than the rest of the Masonic world may know.

On May 9th, 1781, the first French Masonic lodge in Africa was chartered, Respectable Loge Saint-Jacques, at Saint-Louis in Sénégal. More followed as the French colonized Africa in Morocco, Tunisia, Madagascar, Guinea, and Congo. Depending on the country these days, Freemasonry is often vilified for its shady influence and connections in government. In the U.S., we generally don't see these stories, much less understand the hysteria. But there are reasons for such concerns elsewhere. Most of it has to do with the delicate back room political deals and dances between the French government, French corporations, and France's former African colonies.

In the former Republic of Congo, now called Congo-Brazzaville, former president Pascal Lissouba was overthrown in a civil war in 1992 and just tried last year in absentia for corruption and treason. The man who overthrew him, Denis Sassou Nguesso (right), has been implicated in the 1999 disappearance of 353 Congolese refugees, an embezzlement scheme to buy real estate in France, and accepting hundreds of millions in Euros for the French oil company, Elf. Both are Masons.

So are Gabon's recently deceased leader Omar Bongo, and his son Ali, who succeeded him as president. Gabon has the world's fifth largest supply of uranium, along with massive oil and mineral deposits, and has been in the hip pocket of France since declaring its "independence" in 1960. A US investigation in the 1990s estimated that Omar was one of the wealthiest heads of state in the world—an estimated personal worth of between US$2 to $4 billion—with most of his pelf coming from payoffs from oil companies (again, mostly from French oil giant Elf, which paid Bongo almost US$80 million a year through a Swiss bank account). It was common for him to arrive in New York with suitcases of cash. In 2008, he owned 33 properties in France, including a US$30 million mansion in Paris. Gabon's oil reserves also allowed him to spend lavishly at the official level, with an US$800 million presidential palace back home in Gabon.

In addition to the presidency he inherited from his father, Ali (left) succeeded Omar as Grand Master, paradoxically, of both the Grand Lodge of Gabon (GLB) and the Grand Equatorial Rite, the two predominant Masonic orders in Gabon. (The GLB is affiliated with the GLNF, and the GER is allied with the more left-wing Grand Orient of France). He was installed in these positions by Francois Stifani, the Grand Master of the National Grand Lodge of France (GLNF), the GL recognized by most English-speaking Freemasonry, and Alain Bauer, Past Grand Master of the Grand Orient of France, (and special adviser for terrorism and crime in the French presidential cabinet). Almost the entire Gabonese ruling political class belongs to one or the other.

According to an article in Afrik.com from last November:

Having gone through a difficult election, the neophyte President (Ali Bongo) needs the "fraternal" networking machine to help consolidate his authority. The strategy was developed and successfully applied by his father, the late Omar Bongo. Omar established the Masonic order as an ante-chamber to serve as a recruitment unit for his key allies, and also as an infallible source of allegiance to consolidate his power.


François Bozizé seized power in 2003 in Central African Republic, after several coup attempts going back to 1991. He has served as president, but has also held the office of Minister of National Defense ever since coming to power. Idriss Déby (right), the president of Chad, has also been under scrutiny for years. In October 2006, Chad topped Forbes magazine's list of the world's most corrupt nations for "what may turn out to be the single most piggish use of philanthropic funds". Proceeds from a project, funded in part by the World Bank, to build an oil pipeline through Chad and Cameroon were supposed to have been set aside by Déby's government to assist and feed "the desperately poor people of these nations." Instead, some US$30 million was diverted to buy arms to keep Déby's government in power. Both Bozizé and Déby made their names and came to power in tribal wars, perpetrating massacres and destruction. They are two of at least twelve current African leaders who are Freemasons.

So how can it be that a fraternity that prides itself in Enlightenment principles, democracy, honesty and fairness has become so twisted in African nations, while the excesses and misdeeds of its well-placed members there go ignored by international Freemasonry?

The latest edition of the French language Franc Maçonnerie Magazine has an article by Helene Cuny (Ces dictateurs qui ont piégé la franc-maçonnerie) that explores the appalling dichotomy between Freemasonry's teachings and these African heads of state who have distinguished themselves through tribal wars, massacres, or staggering corruption, yet proudly proclaim their Masonic membership.

In addition, the magazine features a pointed editorial by its editor Nicholas George, De l’incompatibilité à être franc-maçon (Incompatibility to be a Freemason). My somewhat free translation is offered below:

In 18th century Europe, Freemasonry was the great engine of intellectual revolution. Finally, there was a neutral venue, free of any ideology, dogma, and preconceived notion. The man could be himself without fear of being judged or even persecuted.

This new life has been characterized by the following: the spirit of the Enlightenment. It's never fallen since. This model of "free thinking" in Europe was spread to Africa through military and party administrators in the colonies. The first Masonic Lodges were then created in major African capitals.

At the dawn of independence, Africans took over their land. At the heart was its own ethnic tradition, but Africa also inherited from the philosophy of the Enlightenment: Freemasonry.

The Freemasons, for many, before being seen as symbolic or philosophical, represented the former ruling power. Indeed, at the end of colonization, Africans who came to power had to take over all the previous symbols of colonial power. Masonry became an ornament that had to be flaunted.

Today, battered by wars and armed conflicts, some African countries condemn Freemasonry. And Denis Sassou Nguesso, Omar and Ali Bongo, to name a few, are notorious for their atrocious dictatorship and their Masonic membership. This is a very bad image and a sad fate for an institution that wants to be humanist and progressive.

Why should Denis Sassou Nguesso and Ali Bongo still be considered Freemasons?

That is the question we pose to French persuasions who do not hesitate to go there to recognize "as such" leaders who seem free of Masonic values. Unless there are some other personal links which unite the grand masters of them, these are friendships that are difficult to justify in the eyes of the people massacred.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring Forward Tonight

Here is a completely gratuitous photo of a Masonic watch to remind us all, but me in particular, to set the clocks ahead one hour tonight. The rest of the country does this like falling off a log, but we just figured this out in Indiana a couple of years ago.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Leonardo DaVinci: Superhero


I will quote this story from Ethan Anderton at Firstshowing.net simply and without comment:

After having his name thrust into controversy and new facets of our pop culture with Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code, historical icon, painter and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci will be getting quite the fictional makeover as The Hollywood Reporter's Heat Vision reports that Warner Bros has picked up a treatment entitled Leonardo Da Vinci and the Soldiers of Forever, which re-imagines Da Vinci as a member of a secret society who falls headlong into a supernatural adventure that pits the man against Biblical demons in a story involving secret codes, lost civilizations, hidden fortresses and fallen angels. So Da Vinci is the new Indiana Jones? Read on!

The trade describes the film as National Treasure and Raiders of the Lost Ark by way of Clash of the Titans...


Hollywood Reporter also sez:

In the wake of the worldwide success of "Sherlock Holmes," Warners seems eager to make more projects involving a period setting, a historical figure and the fantastical. Last week, the studio picked up a pitch that has Francis Lawrence attached to direct a supernatural tale featuring explorer Marco Polo, and it's back in business with "Holmes" director Guy Ritchie on a King Arthur project.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Aunt Millie's Bread Benefits Shriners Hospitals


In celebration of Aunt’s Day (March 8th, last Monday. Who knew?), Aunt Millie’s Bread is donating a portion of the proceeds from every loaf of bread sold between February 14 and March 13, 2010, or a minimum of $25,000, to Shriners Hospitals for Children. Look for the special purple sticker on your favorite Aunt Millie’s variety and support Shriners hospitals through your weekly bread purchase.

Their program runs through this weekend.

Aunt Millie’s Bakeries is a family-owned company headquartered in Fort Wayne, Indiana since 1901. The company produces Aunt Millie’s bread and bakery products and other brands, which are distributed throughout the Midwest.

North Dakota to Charter Yellowstone Historic Lodge No. 88 in May


Historic Ft. Buford in North Dakota is located at the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers. Lewis and Clark camped here in their exploration of the West. And it was here that Sitting Bull and his decimated Sioux followers surrendered in 1881. The fort itself closed in 1895, and is partially restored and run as an historic site by the North Dakota State Historical Society.

On May 21st and 22nd, 2010, the Grand Lodge of North Dakota will charter Yellowstone Historic Lodge No. 88 at Ft. Buford, about 20 miles southwest of Williston, ND. The first Masonic charter in what was to become North Dakota was issued to Yellowstone Lodge No. 88 by the Grand Lodge of Minnesota in 1872. It had a membership of 50 Brothers who were members of the 7th Cavalry at Ft. Buford, local businessmen, farmers and others. The story of Yellowstone No. 88 can be read here.

According to an article in in the MSA Notes from last September 2009 by Jim Savaloja, PGM and Associate Grand Historian, Grand Lodge of North Dakota:

These Brothers built an 80’ by 100’ two story Lodge Hall at the western edge of the Fort. The upper story was the Lodge room and the lower section was the social event center for the Fort and the surrounding community. This Lodge was active until 1874 when the Fort became dormant and the Charter was returned to the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. The Lodge building was sold and later dismantled.


The Ft. Buford Masonic Historical site today is marked by large granite boulder inscribed with the brief history.

The first Masonic charter issued to Prince Hall Masons in North Dakota was carried by the Buffalo Soldiers of the 25th Infantry, in 1892. The 25th Infantry was one of just four all-black units in the U.S. military at that time. Eureka Lodge No. 135 PHA was chartered as a military lodge by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Missouri when the soldiers were stationed at Ft. Apache in the Arizona Territory in 1891.

On Friday, May 21st, the historical exhibit will open, followed by a barbecue at 6:20 PM. On Saturday, May 22nd, there will be a public opening and historic program at the Williston Airport International Inn from 10AM-12PM, with a rededication ceremony instituting the historic lodges between 2PM-4PM. A banquet will follow at 7PM at the International Airport Inn. This event is co-sponsored by the Grand Lodge of North Dakota A.F. & A.M, the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Missouri, the North Dakota State Historical Society, and the North Dakota Masonic Foundation.

For more information contact the Grand Lodge of North Dakota at 701-235-8321.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Australian Masons: It's No Secret


The Daily Telegraph in Sydney, Australia has a story by Chris Hook today, Inside The Secret World of the Freemasons:

"Using the interest born of Dan Brown's blockbuster novel The Lost Symbol, which focuses on the organisation, Freemasons United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory Grand Master Dr. Greg Levenston decided to reach out.

He has overseen production of a book called "It's No Secret - Real Men Do Wear Aprons," out this week, and invited The Daily Telegraph into the Freemasons' most secret chambers."


Indeed, the Grand Lodge of NSW and ACT has launched an entire website dedicated to the new book, written by author Peter Lazar, as well as answering the most common questions about Masonry and how to seek membership.

Meanwhile, the United Grand Lodge of Victoria was covered on www.theage.com earlier in the week here, along with a video interview of their Grand Master Garry Sebo. They are also promoting the new book.

You can order the book, "It's No Secret - Real Men Wear Aprons," from the Grand Lodge Museum of Freemasonry website at www.itsnosecret.com.au for AU$29 (about US$26.50).

New Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism Symposium 4/9 in Lexington, MA

On April 9, 2010, the National Heritage Museum, in Lexington, Massachusetts, will hold a symposium, "New Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism."

The symposium seeks to present the newest research on American fraternal groups from the past through the present day. By 1900, over 250 American fraternal groups existed, numbering six million members. The study of their activities and influence in the United States, past and present, offers the potential for new interpretations of American society and culture.

A keynote paper by Jessica Harland-Jacobs, Associate Professor of History at the University of Florida, and author of Builders of Empire: Freemasonry and British Imperialism, 1717-1927, will open the day. Titled "Worlds of Brothers," Harland-Jacobs' paper will survey and assess the scholarship on American fraternalism and Freemasonry. Drawing on examples from the 1700s, 1800s and 1900s, she will demonstrate that applying world history methodologies pays great dividends for our understanding of fraternalism as a historical phenomenon. Harland-Jacobs will conclude with some thoughts on how global perspectives can benefit contemporary American brotherhoods.

Six scholars from the United States, Canada, and Britain will fill the day's program:

* Ami Pflugran-Jackisch, Assistant Professor of History, University of Michigan - Flint, "Brothers of a Vow: Secret Fraternal Orders in Antebellum Virginia"

* Hannah M. Lane, Assistant Professor, Mount Allison University, "Freemasonry and Identity/ies in 19th-Century New Brunswick and Eastern Maine"

* Nicholas Bell, Curator, Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, "An Ark of the New Republic"

* David Bjelajac, Professor of Art History, George Washington University, "Freemasonry, Thomas Cole (1801-1848) and the Fraternal Ethos of American Art"

* Kristofer Allerfeldt, Exeter University, "Nationalism, Masons, Klansmen and Kansas in the 1920s"

* Adam G. Kendall, Henry W. Coil Library and Museum, "Klad in White Hoods and Aprons: American Fraternal Identities, Freemasonry, and the Ku Klux Klan in California, 1921-1928"

The symposium is funded in part by the Supreme Council, 33°, N. M. J., U.S.A. Registration is $50 ($45 for museum members) and includes morning refreshments, lunch and a closing reception. To register, complete the Registration Form and fax to 781-861-9846 or mail to Claudia Roche, National Heritage Museum, 33 Marrett Road, Lexington, MA 02421; registration deadline is MARCH 24, 2010.

For more information, contact Claudia Roche at croche@monh.org or 781-861-6559, x 4142.

Registration deadline draws near! Register by March 24, 2010. Visit the Museum's website, www.nationalheritagemuseum.org, for a printable registration form.

Past Pro GM of the United GL of England Passes

MW Brother, the Right Honourable Lord Cornwallis (Fiennes Neil Wykeham Cornwallis), Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), Deputy Lieutenant of Kent (DL), Pro Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England between 1982 and 1991, passed to the Grand Lodge Above on March 6th, 2010.

He was was educated at Eton College. During WWII, he served with the Coldstream Guards between 1940 and 1944. He succeeded to the title of 3rd Baron Cornwallis in 1982.

It has been ordered by the MW Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England that Masonic Mourning shall consist of the printing of an `In Memoriam' notice on the first summons issued for a meeting of each Lodge under the Grand Lodge; and that the members of each Lodge shall stand in memory of Bro Lord Cornwallis at its next meeting immediately after the Lodge has been opened and before any business is transacted (except for the reading of any dispensation required to regularise the holding of the meeting).

REQUIESCAT IN PACE

Messages From the Grand Lodge of the Czech Republic

Two interesting communications of note have come from Brother Jacques Huyghebaert at the Grand Lodge of the Czech Republic in the last two weeks.

The first has to do with a
report last month that the Grand Orients of France and Belgium were opening a bureau in Brussels to influence European Union policies on religion:


To All Grand Lodges in amity
Prague, 23rd February 2010
Subject : European Masonic Bureau in Brussels

Dear Sir and Very Worshipful Brother,
Following
recent reports in the European Press, published in the Czech Republic, according to which "the Masons" are hoping to open a bureau in Brussels to "to lobby against the rising influence of religious organisations in the EU institutions," our Most Worshipful Grand Master, Brother Hynek Beran, accepted last week an invitation for an interview by Czech Television during which he was able to clarify the position of our Grand Lodge on this matter.

The 10 minute interview which was broadcast live on Friday 19th February 2010 is available at http://www.ceskatelevize.cz/ivysilani/210411058060219-pred-polednem-zpravodajsky-blok/ Attached herewith is a copy of the English version of the Press Release which our Grand Lodge has issued in order to dissociate ourselves entirely in the eyes of the Czech public from a politically motivated initiative, which in our view has no place in Freemasonry.

Freemasonry was revived after the collapse of the communist regime in 1989, and is currently enjoying an excellent reputation in the Czech Republic, it being generally considered as a highly respectable organisation based on impeccable moral integrity. It is useful to know in this context that pre World War II Czechoslovakia was the only country in Europe whose President was a Freemason and that during both the Nazi occupation and the Soviet era the Masonic Order was suppressed and Freemasons persecuted.

This TV interview therefore was very important for us to preserve the good image of Freemasonry and to dissociate our Grand Lodge in the public opinion from Grand Orient Freemasonry. Public reaction to the interview, shows approval by the Czech viewers of our Grand Lodge’s attitude to refuse as a matter of principle to get involved in any political and religious issues.

Fraternal greetings
Jacques HUYGHEBAERT
Grand Secretary for External Relations
mailto:grandlodge@freemasonry.cz


The second message comes in the wake of the pronouncement by the Grand Master of Arkansas prohibiting mainstream Freemasons from purchasing state-issued Freemason license plates because they benefit a Prince Hall charity. The GL of Arkansas does not recognize its Prince Hall counterpart:

Brethren,

This may be an insignificant gesture, from a small and distant Grand Lodge
in central Europe, but considering the unfortunate racial discrimination
which still seems to prevail at the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, the Grand
Lodge of The Czech Republic is not willing to establish fraternal relations
with it, but will gladly do so with the MWPHGL of Arkansas.

The GL of the Czech Republic is currently in amity with about 200 Grand
Lodges worldwide including those Prince Hall Grand Lodges which have
responded positively to our invitations to establish fraternal relations

S&F

Jacques Huyghebaert, MPS life
& GS for External Relations
Grand Lodge of the Czech Republic
grandlodge@freemasonry.cz

Saturday at Golden Rule #562 in Willard, Ohio

Saturday, March 13th, I'll be traveling to Willard, Ohio and speaking at Golden Rule Lodge No. 562, beginning at 4:00PM.

The Willard Masonic Temple is located at 117 1/2 Myrtle Avenue, Willard, Ohio. The lodge is asking for registration ahead of time, so register here, or contact Caid McKinley. If you are in the general vicinity of north central Ohio, I hope to see you there.

Speaking In Detroit This Friday 3/12

This Friday evening, March 12th, I'll be speaking at the incredible Detroit Masonic Center at 6PM, in the 4th floor Library. Admission is $10.

See the the Detroit Library website for details here.

If you haven't visited the Detroit Masonic Center before, take the time to come out and tour the largest Masonic building in the world. Looking forward to being there Friday!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Masonic Information Center Twain Award Winners For 2009

Three years ago, the Masonic Information Center created the Mark Twain Award, to "recognize Lodge leadership for asserting a uniquely Masonic identity both within the Lodge and throughout the community that is consistent with the Fraternity's historic focus on education, self-improvement, good works, and fellowship." It's the only national Masonic award of its kind, and it represents achievement at the local lodge level. Lodges that win the Twain award are working hard to make their individual lodge just that—individual. These lodges have found ways to make their lodge unique, distinctive, educational, vital to their members, and a part of the community in which they reside.

The Masonic Information Center is a committee recognized by the Conference of Grand Masters in North America, and the Twain Award winners were announced at the Conference in Arlington, Virginia last month. The MIC was originally funded in 1993 by John J. Robinson, author of Born In Blood, who was not a Mason at the time. Robinson gave a grant to start the Center in order to provide information to both Masons and non-Masons, and to respond to critics of the fraternity. The Center operates as part of the Masonic Service Association of North America. For more about the Twain Award, see here. Congratulations to the 2009 winners:

Helion Lodge #1, Huntsville, Alabama

Oasis Lodge #52, Tucson, Arizona

Moreno Valley Lodge #804, Moreno Valley, California

Golden City Lodge #1, Golden, Colorado

Enlightenment Lodge #198, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Gate City Lodge #2, Atlanta, Georgia

Roswell Lodge #165, Roswell, Georgia

Nelms Lodge #323, Smyrna, Georgia

Barker Lodge #129, West Point, Kentucky

Bewleyville Lodge #228, Bewleyville, Kentucky

Baalis Sanford Lodge, Brockton, Massachusetts

Liverpool Syracuse Lodge #501, Liverpool, New York

Forest City Lodge #388, Lyndhurst, Ohio

Fredericksburg Lodge #4, Fredericksburg, Virginia

Bremerton Lodge #117, Bremerton, Washington

Daylight Lodge #232, Seattle, Washington

Lynden Lodge #56, Ferndale, Washington

Waverly Lodge #51, Appleton, Wisconsin


The criteria for the Twain Award is designed to motivate lodges to plan its future and improve itself with meaningful activities that serve the needs of its own members. There's no checklist, no defined roadmap of specific items that get crossed off when completed. The goal is to motivate lodges to act for their own good, and the good of their community, and to do it in a thought out manner. The website has much information on it, but it does list suggested activities and ideas that every lodge ought to be considering, regardless of whether they are trying for an award or not.

Frustrated lodge officers are frequently hunting the silver bullet, the Big Fix that will fill their lodges and make them active and relevant to their members. The truth is, it's different for every lodge. This list is one place to start. If you've heard me speak at a lodge or grand lodge, you've heard me say over and over. Try everything, and when that doesn't work, try something else. But start by making your lodge a place YOU can't wait to come to every month, every week.

The MIC has a list of suggestions for lodges to use as a starting place to rejuvenate themselves, and while I don't want to reprint their whole website here, their suggestions are thoughtful ones:

- Apply concepts of education and self-improvements to current print and non-print communications tools of individual lodges, Grand Lodges, and national Masonic organizations and societies.

- Improve the environment of lodge-based fellowship; refresh the look of the lodge; welcome new members; improve presentation skills; provide mentoring to study degrees; strengthen communications skills.

- Organize group activities based on education and self-improvement that can enrich lodge-centered fellowship such as: welcoming committees, lodge renovation and clean up campaigns, leadership development conferences, mentor meetings, workshops on such things as Masonic ritual, history, symbolism, architectural works, art, and cultural works.

- Initiate workshops on Masonic personal growth topics such as leadership, stewardship, ethics, philosophy, and spirituality.

- Call on local educational faculty to present on topics that enrich the body, mind, and spirit of the brothers.

- Tap the talents of individual members and build a community of experts to help facilitate Masons to improve themselves and their community.

- Improve community accessibility to Masonry through public outreach activities and program or group hosting, tutoring, and mentoring.

- Offer Masonic recognition and incentive programs for educational initiatives, visitor programs and Chamber of Commerce presentations.

- Honor the Mason within yourself.

- Communicate regularly with neighboring lodges.