Monday, January 31, 2011

Grand Lodge of Nebraska: "Ideas that Work"

Between 2008-2009. the Grand Lodge of Nebraska created a series of newsletters called Ideas That Work, dealing with lodge leadership, activities, education, membership development, meeting organization, community service and public relations. Access them here.

Nebraska has also developed a series of online courses in Masonic education, with topics like candidate education, symbolism, history, philosophy, contemporary issues and more .

"Solitude and Leadership" by William Deresiewicz

Excerpts from a lecture delivered to the plebe class at the United States Military Academy at West Point in October 2009 by William Deresiewicz, a literary critic for the nation and the new York Times.

Here are some highlights. Read the whole lecture. I mean it. Read the whole thing.

We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. Who can answer questions, but don’t know how to ask them. Who can fulfill goals, but don’t know how to set them. Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they’re worth doing in the first place. What we have now are the greatest technocrats the world has ever seen, people who have been trained to be incredibly good at one specific thing, but who have no interest in anything beyond their area of exper tise. What we don’t have are leaders.

What we don’t have, in other words, are thinkers. People who can think for themselves. People who can formulate a new direction: for the country, for a corporation or a college, for the Army—a new way of doing things, a new way of looking at things. People, in other words, with vision.

[snip]

A study by a team of researchers at Stanford came out a couple of months ago. The investigators wanted to figure out how today’s college students were able to multitask so much more effectively than adults. How do they manage to do it, the researchers asked? The answer, they discovered—and this is by no means what they expected—is that they don’t. The enhanced cognitive abilities the investigators expected to find, the mental faculties that enable people to multitask effectively, were simply not there. In other words, people do not multitask effectively. And here’s the really surprising finding: the more people multitask, the worse they are, not just at other mental abilities, but at multitasking itself.

One thing that made the study different from others is that the researchers didn’t test people’s cognitive functions while they were multitasking. They separated the subject group into high multitaskers and low multitaskers and used a different set of tests to measure the kinds of cognitive abilities involved in multitasking. They found that in every case the high multitaskers scored worse. They were worse at distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant information and ignoring the latter. In other words, they were more distractible. They were worse at what you might call “mental filing”: keeping information in the right conceptual boxes and being able to retrieve it quickly. In other words, their minds were more disorganized. And they were even worse at the very thing that defines multitasking itself: switching between tasks.

Multitasking, in short, is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of 20 seconds at a time, constantly interrupted by Facebook messages or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube.

I find for myself that my first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always someone else’s; it’s always what I’ve already heard about the subject, always the conventional wisdom. It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise. And often even that idea doesn’t turn out to be very good. I need time to think about it, too, to make mistakes and recognize them, to make false starts and correct them, to outlast my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done and move on to the next thing.

[snip]

So why is reading books any better than reading tweets or wall posts? Well, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes, you need to put down your book, if only to think about what you’re reading, what you think about what you’re reading. But a book has two advantages over a tweet. First, the person who wrote it thought about it a lot more carefully. The book is the result of his solitude, his attempt to think for himself.

Second, most books are old. This is not a disadvantage: this is precisely what makes them valuable. They stand against the conventional wisdom of today simply because they’re not from today. Even if they merely reflect the conventional wisdom of their own day, they say something different from what you hear all the time. But the great books, the ones you find on a syllabus, the ones people have continued to read, don’t reflect the conventional wisdom of their day. They say things that have the permanent power to disrupt our habits of thought. They were revolutionary in their own time, and they are still revolutionary today. And when I say “revolutionary,” I am deliberately evoking the American Revolution, because it was a result of precisely this kind of independent thinking. Without solitude—the solitude of Adams and Jefferson and Hamilton and Madison and Thomas Paine—there would be no America.

So solitude can mean introspection, it can mean the concentration of focused work, and it can mean sustained reading. All of these help you to know yourself better. But there’s one more thing I’m going to include as a form of solitude, and it will seem counterintuitive: friendship. Of course friendship is the opposite of solitude; it means being with other people. But I’m talking about one kind of friendship in particular, the deep friendship of intimate conversation. Long, uninterrupted talk with one other person. Not Skyping with three people and texting with two others at the same time while you hang out in a friend’s room listening to music and studying. That’s what Emerson meant when he said that “the soul environs itself with friends, that it may enter into a grander self-acquaintance or solitude.”

Introspection means talking to yourself, and one of the best ways of talking to yourself is by talking to another person. One other person you can trust, one other person to whom you can unfold your soul. One other person you feel safe enough with to allow you to acknowledge things—to acknowledge things to yourself—that you otherwise can’t. Doubts you aren’t supposed to have, questions you aren’t supposed to ask. Feelings or opinions that would get you laughed at by the group or reprimanded by the authorities.

This is what we call thinking out loud, discovering what you believe in the course of articulating it. But it takes just as much time and just as much patience as solitude in the strict sense. And our new electronic world has disrupted it just as violently. Instead of having one or two true friends that we can sit and talk to for three hours at a time, we have 968 “friends” that we never actually talk to; instead we just bounce one-line messages off them a hundred times a day. This is not friendship, this is distraction.


H/T to John Sedivy

USA Today: Masons, other service groups fight membership declines

From USA Today article today, "Masons, other service groups fight membership declines" by Jon Ostendorff:

There are fewer Masons today — by nearly a million — than there were in 1941 as the country came out of the Great Depression, says Richard Fletcher, executive secretary of the Masonic Service Association of North America. There are an estimated 3 million members worldwide and 1.5 million in the USA, he says, compared with more than 4 million members in the USA in 1959.

Why? Blame the Baby Boomers, Fletcher says.

"We had what I call the '60s syndrome," he says. "That was the whole concept of the generation. You turned against anything that was mainstream."

In 2005, the association produced a report called "It's About Time," which encouraged lodges to invite the community in, Fletcher says. But most didn't start opening their doors until Masons in Massachusetts saw successes in 2009 with the policy, he says.

Since then, a growing number have opened their doors:

•In Asheville, Mount Hermon Masonic Lodge 118 allows prospective members to dine with members before official meetings to learn more about Masonry. The effort has paid off. Seven years ago, the lodge was struggling with low attendance and now has about 500 members, says John Burchfield, the local district deputy grand lecturer.

•In Ellwood City, Pa., three lodges in 37th Masonic District held open houses in August.

•In New Hampshire, Freemasons held statewide events in March and October. "It was very well received in New Hampshire," says Nashua, N.H., Rising Sun lodge member Bob Porter. The Nashua lodge got 30 new members, Porter says.

Tough times
The Mason decline is mirrored by other fraternities.

Amos McCallum, a chairman of the past national presidents of the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks, says his group has 900,000 members, down from 1.6 million in 1980.

Membership in Rotary clubs has dropped nearly 42,000 since 1995 in the USA to 360,790 last year, says Rotary spokeswoman Elizabeth Minelli.

Some civic clubs say they are starting to see an uptick. Lions Club International reported 20,000 new members last year after decades of decline. It has 1.35 million worldwide, says spokesman Dane La Joye.

Reaching out to women has been key, La Joye says. "Women are the fastest-growing segment of our membership today," he says.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Speaking at PA Grand Commandery Seminar in Elizabethtown 2/5

I will have the honor of speaking to the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Pennsylvania's Division Commander's Seminar, on the Patton Campus of the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, PA, next Saturday night, February 5th, 2011. I'll be driving in Friday evening, so I will have the opportunity to sit in on some of the workshops and tactics meetings, as well.

Thanks to Right Eminent Commander S. Timothy Warco for his kind invitation. Looking forward to meeting fellow Sir Knights!

(I'll be the short guy in the Raper Commandery No. 1 long coat...)

Liverpool's (UK) Masonic Hall


Liverpool, England's Masonic Hall is promoting public tours of its lodge rooms, as part of a city-wide effort to improve tourism and to draw a cruise ship embarkation terminal.

Portions of the Hall date to 1858, and it was expanded in 1874 and 1932.

The object is to make the facility more a part of the community. Liverpool's universities use the lodge rooms (there are six) for students to present their papers, and the hall is exploring opening regularly for public tea service.

The Liverpool Daily Post has put up a gallery of photos here.

"Colonial Freemasonry" at South Bend Scottish Rite Research Guild 2/10

The South Bend, Indiana Scottish Rite Research Guild is bringing in an outstanding lineup of Masonic speakers for its events. They will kick off 2011 on Thursday, February 10th with a lecture on Colonial Freemasonry by MWB Craig S. Campbell, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin in 2009-2010. They will also be joined by brethren visiting from the Silas H. Shepherd Lodge of Research in Oconomowoc, WI.

This talk will be at Acme Lodge No. 83, located at 8700 West Pahs Road in Michigan City, IN. Fellowship hour begins at 6pm and the lecture to begin at 7pm., CENTRAL TIME (Note to the rest of Indiana on EST).
Charge for the event will be $5.00 at the door. The event is open to non-Masons, and family can also attend.
Please RSVP to Tim Farster at tfarster@hotmail.com

Catching Up on Masonic News

After a long hiatus, W:.B:. Cory Siegler has returned with his online Masonic publication, The Working Tools.



Australian Freemasons in Queensland are raising AU$1 million for flood relief. They have already reached 30% of their goal.

Adrian Burton, Grand Master of Freemasons Queensland, today announced the launch of the “Grand Master’s Queensland Flood Appeal”, a $1M fundraising effort to support the rebuilding of Queensland communities devastated by recent flooding. Lodges from throughout Queensland will work hand-in-hand with local Councils and State Government Members in flood-affected areas to raise critically-needed funds for local social infrastructure, community services and projects. A specific Flood Appeal Co-ordination Group has been appointed, led by Assistant Grand Master, Alan Townson.



Many times, lodges in small communities have a better chance of getting their events in the local radio, TV and newspapers than bigger communities.

Brethren of Ione Masonic Lodge No. 80 in Ione, California made the local paper with their officer's installation.

The Princess Pine Order of the Eastern Star Chapter No. 67 in Williams Lake, British Columbia made their paper for their local charity work.



On Saturday, the Springfield Masonic Community, a retirement community of the Grand Lodge of Ohio F&AM, presented a program to honor the famed Tuskegee Airmen, and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to kick off Black History Month. Three Ohio members of the Airmen—Leslie Edwards of Cincinnati, Charles Feaster of Xenia and Paul Menefield of Columbus—were able to attend. Hundreds of folks turned out for this event.




Manchester, England's Freemasons' Hall is being leased to private developers for 999 years, but the Masons aren't leaving. There's a lesson for lodges considering giving up their irreplaceable temples. The Masons retain ownership of the building and keep their top floor lodge rooms. See their website here.



Hip-hop star Jennifer Hudson tackles the rampant rumor mill that music stars have sold their souls to the Illuminati. But then, that's just what you'd expect her to say:

In the entertainment industry, Illuminati rumors run rampant, and everyone from Rihanna to Kanye West has dealt with accusations their success is due to their involvement in it. Although many celebrities have kept mum on the subject, Jennifer Hudson is speaking out against all the talk about a secret society. During a recent Ustream session, she told fans:

“I’m so glad someone brought this Illuminati mess up because only a child of God would address it. That is the most ignorant thing I have ever heard in my life. And it’s offensive because basically what? The people that are here today don’t deserve to be where they are? What, we didn’t work for it? So I find—and I hate to go there—but I find it’s those that can’t make it that would probably join Illuminati, or whoever that is, to get somewhere.”


Hudson's mother, older brother, and her nephew were all murdered in 2008. Gregory King, the nephew's father, claimed in September 2010 that the Oscar winner Hudson was a Freemason who sacrificed her family to advance her career.



Tomorrow, 1/31, is the final day to vote for a Masonic license plate in Texas. Just a reminder. I would never encourage out of state Masons to vote for a Texas matter. Or to vote multiple times. Never.



In the wake of the international Wikileaks hootenanny, there were bound to arrive copycats eager to spread unattributed tales of gossip, sour grapes, or legitimate gripes. The trouble with whistle blowing is that the whistle can blow back, especially in Freemasonry. So, with some sense of dread, coupled with the creepy curiosity of watching a train wreck, I pass along the arrival of a new website, Masonicleaks.com .

I simply remind all involved that the Masonic Crusade website, in which PGM Frank Haas vs. Grand Lodge of West Virginia dirty laundry was aired over a four year period, resulted in a lawsuit, a huge expenditure of money on both sides, a public black eye for the fraternity on an international basis, yanked recognition against the Grand Lodge of Ohio, more expulsions, lost friendships, broken trusts—and Frank Haas still remains expelled in West Virginia.

The Internet will kill us all.

Theatre Renovation Grant Money

Indiana Freemasons' Hall Auditorium

Does your Masonic temple or Scottish Rite building have a theatre in it? Struggling with financing issues for renovation costs?

Consider the League of Historic American Theatres, or at least have a look at its website here. The League is an expanding group of more than 300 historic theatres in the U.S. and Canada, and provides a network of resources, a monthly magazine, and a private discussion forum for members. Membership starts as low as $300 a year for small theatre projects.

Have a look at an April 2010 article on theatre renovation grants on the E-How website, taken from an LHAT article:

MJ Murdock Charitable Trust
One of the areas of interest to the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust is arts and culture. The focus when awarding grants for this topic are projects that enrich a cultural environment. The Rialto Community Theater located in Deer Lodge, Montana, was awarded a $300,000 grant from the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust specifically to renovate the theater. Although the Trust's focus is not solely theater renovations, it is obvious that its priorities include this type of project. The Trust reports that about half of the grants and awards they make are given to capital improvement projects.

MJ Murdoch Charitable Trust
703 Broadway, Suite 710
Vancouver, WA 98660
360-694-8415


National Endowment For the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) includes assistance for theater renovations under their Design Arts Program. Its funding includes feasibility plans for adaptive reuse, restoration and renovation. Funding can also be obtained for theaters involved in the revitalization of cultural districts. Money is available for the planning of theater renovations but not actual construction materials and costs. Apply for grant money for historic preservation, urban and architectural studies and design planning through the NEA topic of "Design."

National Endowment for the Arts
1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C.20506-0001
202-682-5400
neh.gov


Save America's Treasures
Offered through the National Parks Service, the Save America's Treasures Grant Program includes theaters of historical significance. The program is a federal matching grant program designed to fund restoration projects across America. Matching programs require a two-part award---the grant funds a dollar amount and the theater project committee must locate a non-Federal match for funding. Theaters must have historical significance to qualify. See the National Park Service program details for further information on applying.

Historic Preservation Grants
National Park Service
1201 "Eye" Street NW (2256)
Washington, DC 20005
202-354-2020

WEOFM.ORG: "The Old Charges Revisited" by Prof. Andrew Prescott


The fifth video presentation from the Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry is up and running, presented on Vimeo in Flash format.

This week's presentation is "The Old Charges Revisited" by Prof. Andrew Prescott. Prescott has served as a curator in the Department of Manuscripts at the British Library. From 2000 to 2007, he was the founding Director of the Centre for Research into Freemasonry at the University of Sheffield. Andrew currently is a professor and Director of Research for the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute at the University of
Glasgow.

Last week's presentation was "The Foundation of the Premier Grand Lodge in 1717" by WBro. Christopher Powell.

The Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry 2011 Lecture Series is a free presentation by the Grand Lodge of Indiana F&AM, beginning January 1, 2011 and running through December 31, 2011. At the conclusion of each presentation you will usually have an opportunity to join with the speakers in a live conversation on Facebook at the "Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry 2011 Lecture Series" page.

No presentation is scheduled for next Saturday, but on February 12th Brother Yasha Beresiner will present "Origins and Development of Royal Arch Masonry in England."

I have been asked to present on March 26th on the subject of "The Evolution of the Ritual."

Covington, KY Scottish Rite Building On The Block


We are murderers of our own posterity.

Last year I had the opportunity to visit the Covington, Kentucky Scottish Rite Vallet, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. Friend and Brother S. Brent Morris was in town speaking, and it gave me an excuse to see a terrific presentation, as well as a beautiful Masonic building.

Looks like I went just in time.

Originally built in 1956 at the height of Freemasonry's U.S. popularity, the building is now considered by its members to be too big, and too expensive. It has no parking of its own. And it's not in the best or most convenient part of town anymore. Haven't we all heard this before.

So, the members have put the building—once the Scottish Rite home of KFC founder Col. Harland Sanders—up for sale in the most challenging real estate market since WWII began. The reason cited is to construct a new building half its size, which will give them a Rite Care facility cheaper than modifying the existing center. Covington's secretary Fred Bryant says it's not because of membership losses, that they are staying steady at 2,500, with about 100 attending convocations twice a year.

The center has a beautiful 700-seat auditorium, two lodge rooms and a dining hall. Its magnificent entry is flanked by two stone sphinxes. Its welcoming foyer and other architectural details can never be equalled in a new, more "economical" building.

Already the price has been dropped.

I don't know their situation in Covington, so I'm speaking out of class here. But how I wish we would be more innovative and less inclined to pitch our heritage overboard when the roof starts leaking or the place needs re-plumbing. Our fathers and grandfathers sacrificed to build these temples. No, Freemasonry isn't its buildings—but these buildings are a part of us, of what we were and are, and should still be a source of pride and service to the members and the community.

They didn't ask us to build better than they did. They simply expected us to just maintain them and pass them on to the next generation. It's the least we can do.

See Covington landmark for sale by Jeff McKinney at Cincinnati.com

"Non Sequitur" Comic by Wiley Miller


January 26th. 2011 "Non Sequitur" Comic by Wiley Miller.

Shriners are always funny.

H/T to Roger VanGorden.

Grand Priory of the Reformed and Rectified Rite of the USA


A group of brethren traveled to France last week and received the degrees of the Knights Beneficent of the Holy City (CBCS). The new Grand Priory of the Reformed and Rectified Rite of the USA will be initiating its first members at Masonic Week in Alexandria, Virginia in February.

CBCS is an invitational body, and a spiritual, esoteric, and strictly Christian rite of Templary—most probably descended from the Rite of Strict Observance in Germany and France prior to the French Revolution.

As reported here, the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar in the USA officially received a charter in December 2010 from the French Grand Prieure Ecossais Reforme et Rectifie d'Occitanie to form the Grand Priory of the Reformed and Rectified Rite of the USA.

The ongoing dispute with the Great Priory of America CBCS, chartered in 1934, continues.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Freemasonry in Egypt

A Cairo Masonic lodge in the 1940s, under a portrait of King Farouk

With the turmoil currently raging in Egypt, Masons may be interested in the history of Freemasonry in that country over the years.

After French troops brought Masonry to Egypt with Napoleon's invasion in 1798, the fraternity expanded there. Lodges were chartered by French and German grand lodges, and by the 1860s, there were Italian, English and Scottish lodges at work, as well. Turkish Masons also influenced the Craft there. Naturally, with that many foreign lodges in the country, schisms arose, and several competing grand lodges were formed at various times in Egypt. So called "higher" degrees brought by different rites and supreme councils created further chaos. The dominant grand lodge that seemed to survive the longest was the National Grand Orient of Egypt, and its lodges worked in Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, French, Italian and German.

Egypt's kings, from Isma'il Pasha the Magnificent in the 1860s up through King Farouk in the 1950s, were made honorary grand masters in the National Grand Orient of Egypt, although none are believed to have been actually initiated into lodges. Masonry was an important link between Egypt and Western thought

After the end of WWII and Egypt's humiliating losses in Palestine to the brand new state of Israel in 1948, Freemasonry was branded as a Zionist organization (along with the B'nai B'rith, which was patterned after Masonry, and had lodges in Cairo and Alexandria). The revolution that pitched Farouk out of the country helped to raise distrust of Masonry, as both a perceived Jewish organization, as well as being a haven for entrenched government and business fat cats.

Freemasonry was under great pressure to close in Egypt by 1954 under the Nationalist Movement and Gamal Abdel Nasser became Prime Minister and the British gave up control of the Suez Canal. It was officially outlawed in 1964. Masonry still gets trotted out as a boogyman periodically in Egypt, as in other Muslim countries. Rotary Clubs frequently come under fire as being nothing more than Masonry in sheep's clothing.

The Islamic Jurisdictional College of El-Azhar University in Cairo is one of the most influential Sunni organizations for interpreting Islamic law. In 1978, it issued an opinion concerning the "Freemasons' Organization."

* Freemasonry is a clandestine organization, which conceals or reveals its system, depending on the circumstances. Its actual principles are hidden from members, except for chosen members of its higher degrees.

* The members of the organization, worldwide, are drawn from men without preference for their religion, faith, or sect.

* The organization attracts members on the basis of providing personal benefits. It traps men into being politically active, and its aims are unjust.

* New members participate in ceremonies of different names and symbols, and are too frightened to disobey its regulations and orders.

* Members are free to practice their religion, but only members who are atheists are promoted to its higher degrees, based on how much they’re willing to serve its dangerous principles and plans.

* It is a political organization. It has served all revolutions, as well as military and political transformations. In all dangerous changes, a relation to this organization appears either exposed or veiled.

* It is a Jewish organization in its roots. Its secret higher international administrative board is made up of Jews, and it promotes Zionist (pro-Israel) activities.

* Its primary objectives are the distraction of all religions, and it distracts Muslims from Islam.

* It tries to recruit influential financial, political, social, or scientific people to utilize them. It does not consider applicants it cannot utilize. It recruits kings, prime ministers, high government officials, and similar individuals.

* It has branches under different names as a camouflage, so people cannot trace its activities, especially if the name of Freemasonry has opposition. These hidden branches are known as Lions, Rotary, and others. They have wicked principles that completely contradict the rules of Islam.

* There is a clear relationship between Freemasonry, Judaism, and international Zionism. It has controlled the activities of high Arab officials in the Palestinian conflict.

* Any Muslim who affiliates with it, knowing the truth of its objectives, is an infidel to Islam.


That's what the fraternity is up against in Egypt today, and why Masonry must remain underground in devoutly Islamic countries. According to Kent Henderson and Tony Pope's long out of print Freemasonry Universal, rumors have persisted that a Grand Orient of Egypt still survives secretly (or did as late as 1999), working in Egypt's biggest cities.

Bulwer Lodge of Cairo, No. 1068 was the first lodge chartered by the United Grand Lodge of England in Egypt, in 1865. It moved its charter to England after being supressed in Egypt, and has an extensive history on its website.

For a detailed account of the history, from a non-Masonic point of view, see "Freemasonry in Egypt: Is It Still Around?" by Samir Raafat in Insight Magazine, March 1, 1999.

Matthew Scanlan wrote "Freemasonry Serving Egypt"for Freemasonry Today in 2003.

Also if you have access to a Jstore account, see "Freemasonry in Egypt 1798-1921: A Study in Cultural and Political Encounters" by Karim Wissa.

And there is an excellent series of articles about the history of Egyptian Masonry in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum Volumes 81 and 82, 1969 and 1970 by W. Bro. F. D. Stevenson Drane.

“There is a link death cannot sever, Love and remembrance last for ever.”
Freemason James Grant (1865-1928) headstone erected in Cairo's War Memorial Cemetery
by Rising Sun Lodge of Cairo No 91.
From the Masonic Traveler blog by Ken Dennis.

Elaine Ecklund's "Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think"


A new study of scientists shows that the age-old battle between science and religion may not live up to the hype. Elaine Ecklund's new book, Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think is based on a study of religious belief and spirituality in the lives and minds of natural and social scientists at 21 U.S. research universities, which involved 1,700 web and phone surveys, along with 275 personal interviews, over a four year period.

From a review by Milton Friesen on the Cardus website:

Much of what we believe about the faith lives of elite scientists is wrong. The 'insurmountable hostility' between science and religion is a caricature, a thought-cliché, perhaps useful as a satire on groupthink, but hardly representative of reality." In highly political, ideological, and moral turf battles, proponents of both science and religion have been guilty of this along many fronts.

What myths does Ecklund dispel? Here are a few:

1. Despite stereotypes, scientists are not entirely irreligious or unspiritual. Around 50% of elite natural and social scientists identify with a religious tradition. That does not mean that they practice their faith in the same way as the broader American public, but it does suggest that faith and spirituality are not absent from the lives of scientific elites.

2. Most scientists made decisions about their spiritual lives before entering science. That means that those without any religious or spiritual commitments may have chosen science because of what they thought; science may not have caused their distance from spiritual practices.

3. Elite scientists who are not at all religious—despite being highly educated, and despite operating in high profile positions—are often very ignorant of even rudimentary aspects of various religious traditions. (Recently, the New York Times reported on the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life research project, which examined basic religious knowledge in the U.S. In the general population, atheists are more knowledgeable about religion than non-atheists. Perhaps atheists in the general population know more because they are more often exposed to other views, whereas scientists, who can be largely insulated from the public, are not exposed to those ideas.)

4. Scientists are often completely unaware of their colleagues' religious orientation because it is either not talked about at all (being deemed inappropriate within the halls of science) or disparaged, under the assumption that being a scientist means being an atheist or agnostic.

5. Scientists who reject God and religion have similar reasons as the general population: existence of evil and suffering, bad religion, bad personal experiences, and cognitive dissonance.

6. Younger scientists are more religious than older scientists—the inverse of the general population, where older people tend to be more religious than younger people.

These myths contribute to Ecklund's mission, which is to "uncover the complex truth about what scientists practice and believe as well as how they encounter and engage (or disengage from) religion in their lives, rather than cede the floor to the hotheads on both sides of this contentious issue."

Ecklund discovered that extreme positions on both sides of the traditional debate have informed the stereotypes we know so well: the atheist scientist who not only declines religion but actively opposes it in a hostile Richard Dawkins/Christopher Hitchens way, and the fundamentalist with fingers in his ears denying direct evidence to protect a cherished belief.

[snip]

A long civil war of ideology means a loss of future scientific achievement, devalued human purpose, loss of meaning, and an incomplete pursuit of transcendence within the wider culture. Science needs religion, and religion needs science. Fostering genuine learning and dialogue will not mean that the scientific method gets co-opted by religion or that religion is reduced to testable proportions in a lab. Accepting only what can be verified scientifically (scientism) is a wholly inadequate and impossible way to live a life, according to most Americans. Similarly, rejecting all of science in favour of only religiously-derived knowledge will leave the American public open to the very real dangers of uncontrolled fundamentalism, superstition, and regressions of the worst kind.

Friday, January 28, 2011

"Decoded" and the Bohemian Grove

The most recent episode of Brad Meltzer's Decoded just aired tonight, featuring an attempt of the show's investigative team to catch a glimpse inside of Bohemian Grove in California. Each year, San Francisco’s Bohemian Club holds what amounts to a summer camp for the rich, powerful and well-connected captains of industry, diplomacy, and politics from around the world. It’s held in July at their massive wooded compound in the California countryside, called the Bohemian Grove. The annual gathering is a major float in the parade of conspiracy theories. They have been accused of many evil activities by a wide array of jittery authors, radio hosts, evangelists and anti-conspiracy crusaders over the years.

Alice and I developed episode outlines for Decoded a year ago, and the show is very different from what we worked on. That's fine. That's show biz. I worked in TV for a long time, and never got a thin skin when what went on the air was not what was envisioned. I'd like to keep writing for TV, and I know I'm supposed to "dance with the one who brung me." But I was especially concerned by the superficial aspects of the Decoded episode tonight, which actually culminated in two of the show's regulars being arrested and charged with trespassing at the Grove compound.

I was especially dismayed to see that History™ put Alex Jones on the air for this show. Jones is a prime example of a professional conspiracist, as a term, and a breed. His entire livelihood depends on there really being a plot for a New World Order. But it goes beyond just inflamed rhetoric. (Anybody else notice that in one 24 hour period this week eleven police officers have been shot in the United States? Somebody out there is declaring war on authority figures in this country.) On his radio show Jones regularly froths that the government is never to be trusted, that government agencies are made up of nothing but criminals engaging in “raiding and looting,” and that there is a vast, unidentified, controlling elite composed of the “most vicious, black, stinking, massive evil” that can be imagined. Jones is not just another Barnum barking peeks at the Gator Woman. Daily, he shrieks that the New World Order needs to be (to use his various suggestions) punched, kicked, pole-axed, torn apart, and have its collective neck broken like a Sunday pot chicken. His longstanding advice is to keep all of your guns loaded and ready for the final showdown when the black helicopters land on your lawn to haul you off to an underground government prison camp. He's a one-man 9/11 Truther industry, who has fomented the most insane theories of 9/11 as an inside job, while standing at Ground Zero screaming through bullhorns that it was all perpetrated by the New World Order.

Anybody else recall him at the Democratic convention in Denver in 2008, surrounded by supporters screaming, "Kill Michelle Malkin"? This is the guy History™ put on their show tonight.

And if the New World Order turns out to not really exist, but merely to be a figment of his demented imagination (or calculated guile), he is out of a lucrative job. But here's why tonight really bothered me on a whole lot of levels. In January of 2002, devoted Alex Jones fan and self-proclaimed “Phantom Patriot,” Richard McCaslin, snuck onto the property of the Bohemian Grove, armed with a knife, a sword, a crossbow, a .45 caliber handgun, a modified MK-1 semi-automatic rifle/shotgun hybrid loaded with 70mm shotgun shells, 30 rounds of .223-caliber bullets, a homemade rocket launcher, and a Bible covered in camouflage. McCaslin admitted to authorities that he was there to “kill child molesters” and Bohemians, whom he believed were practicing human sacrifices. He’d read all about it on the Internet, and he’d heard conspiracy peddlers like Alex Jones talk about it on the radio. It just had to be true. Jones told his audience to fight the evil forces of the New World Order with violence. So, the Phantom Patriot was going to do just that.

According to a San Francisco Chronicle article from 2002,

(T)he well-spoken and seemingly lucid McCaslin is convinced that there are hidden torture chambers and other horrors at the club. He told how he was inspired by Austin, Texas, radio personality Alex Jones. Jones says he has seen "bizarre, Luciferian ceremonies" at the idyllic 2,000-acre redwood grove during the club's annual two-week summer encampment, which draws U.S. presidents and other luminaries.


McCaslin was not some unintelligent, inarticulate, drug-addled boob, acting out a fantasy as some Earth-saving commando. His actions were carefully planned, and he truly believed that what he was doing would ultimately make him a hero. Shooting some Bohemian Grovers might put a dent in their plans for world domination, and save those children from a pagan sacrifice. Thankfully, the Grovers meet in the summer, or he might very well have killed a whole lot of people.

Of course, Jones and the team in tonight's show didn't mention McCaslin when they made the heavy security on the property seem like a bunch of spooky and unwarranted silliness. They didn't mention Jones' influence on the "Phantom Patriot." Why, Jones just looked like a calm, concerned citizen, who wasn't really advising the team to trespass on Grove property. He'd just show them how to do it, if they really wanted to. He ran to the boat when the cops came, and two regular cast members of the program got thrown in the slammer for nine hours, to make "compelling" television.

Fantasies are fun. Selling fantasies can be lucrative, as the Walt Disney Corporation or any prostitute could attest. But when conspiracists don’t just post their theories on the Internet anymore, and instead actually start acting upon their fears and plugging their perceived boogeymen with .45 dumdum rounds, it crosses a very big point of no return.

We live in what may be the most cynical period of time in all history, and the world is rampant with plenty of perennially panicky pundits. College kids who blithely tell you they believe in nothing and no one, suddenly start spouting the “real truth” they’ve discovered, that God is an alien from the planet Zyra, their parents are tools of the KGB, and that the Illuminati are secretly running everything. Some polls show 20% of college students think the Moon landings were a hoax. In 2006, a Scripps-Howard poll showed that 36% of the American public – around 100 million people – believed that the U.S. government had something to do with the 9/11 World Trade Center/Pentagon attacks, either ignoring intelligence intentionally to start a Middle East war, or actually carrying out the attacks themselves.

100 million people.

That’s not just some isolated lunatic fringe. That’s one out of every three of your neighbors. Or maybe you.

Decoded had, and still has, the potential of being a fun show. But having the "team" driving around, trying to sneak into Bohemian Grove to see...what?...and coming up with barely enough real information to fill a teacup is an incredible waste of what was a great idea. (And that "secret" list of Bohemian members? It's been on Wikipedia for years.) There are legitimate issues to discuss about the Grove, and very real history about the summer gatherings and participants, along with the Bohemian Club in San Francisco that was never even mentioned in the course of the hour. Unfortunately, a lot of talented people and their months of hard work have resulted in that most terrible sin of all in broadcasting: a dull show that makes the viewer feel like his time was wasted.

If you know nothing about the Bohemian Grove, here is an exerpt from Conspiracy Theories & Secret Societies For Dummies:

In 2007, former president Bill Clinton was making a speech and was interrupted by a “9/11 Truther” who shouted allegations about the 9/11 attacks being a hoax, followed by a reference to Clinton and Bohemian Grove. As the guy was dragged out of the auditorium, Clinton quipped, “That's where all those rich Republicans go up and stand naked against redwood trees right? I've never been to the Bohemian Club but you oughta go. It'd be good for you. You'd get some fresh air.”

Word on the street is that the boyish fun at the campouts of the Bohemian Grove, the world’s most star-studded Scout troop, includes Satanic rituals, rapes, outdoor S&M, public urination “swordfights” and setting fire to a great big owl. We’ll tell you right from the start. The owl stuff is true. So is the public urination.

San Francisco’s Bohemian Club at 624 Taylor Street was started in 1872 by a group of journalists who were looking for a little culture, along with attracting avant garde artists, musicians, actors and writers, known in those days by the label “Bohemians.” The trouble with trying to form an exclusive club with a bunch of starving, off-kilter, and unusual, arty types is that most of them were broke. So, the club had to also admit a few rich patrons in, just to keep the lights on. The result was that the rich patrons stayed and quickly crowded out most of the starving artists. The membership quickly became dominated by financial titans, famous politicians and other powerful figures (overwhelmingly Republicans). Yet, the by-laws required that a certain number of members still be writers and other artists. Authors like Mark Twain, Jack London and Ambrose Bierce were early members.

In the late 1800’s, the Bohemian Club held regular summer camp outs in several locations in the forests outside of San Francisco. The feeling was that the club had become too socially conscious, to clubby, too cushy, and had lost the Bohemian spirit of unconventional living. So, in 1899 they established a permanent campground, an isolated, 2,700 acre, redwood-filled property known as Bohemian Grove, near the tiny town of Monte Rio. Every July since then, the Grove has been the location of an annual outdoor, two-week celebration of Bohemian life. And because of the many influential members and guests of the club, along with rumors of certain activities, a growing suspicion has developed over their carryings on.

The Cremation of Care
For over 100 years, the opening of the Grove’s annual outdoor session has been a dramatic, over-produced and slightly bizarre ceremony called the “Cremation of Care.” The centerpiece of the Grove’s central gathering area is an outdoor amphitheater, with a pond and a 45 foot tall concrete owl – symbol of wisdom, and the Bohemian Club’s mascot and logo. It is around this owl that the ceremony is enacted.


The point of the ceremony is that the majority of attendees at the Grove may be the movers and shakers of the financial and political world, but while they are in the Grove, they are to put the cares and worries of the outside world aside. And they do this by burning them. Well, not literally, even though conspiracist Alex Jones thinks otherwise. The ceremony begins with a boat slowly crossing the pond carrying an effigy that represents Dull Care. This dreaded reminder of the outside world mocks the attendees, and shouts at them over the booming PA system,
“Fools! Fools! Fools!” The Bohemians have the last laugh, as hooded, vaguely Druidic-looking Grovers take Dull Care out of the boat, put it on an altar, and set it on fire, to the happy cheers of the crowd, which are accompanied by triumphant music and fireworks. And the voice of the Owl during the ceremony? Former CBS news anchorman Walter Cronkite. Of course, Alex Jones has alleged in the past that this is a live body they burn every year. His clandestine video of the event is all over the Internet.

The point being made goes along with the Bohemian Club’s motto: “Weaving spiders come not here,” a line taken from Shakespeare’s
A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Don’t come and make plots or transact business or bring the evil cares of the outside world in here.

Retreat for the Ruling Class
The Grove itself is a massive compound made up of different themed camps, sort of like a rural Disneyland. These days, some 1,500 members and guests attend. Each area has its own cabins and dining area, and the more than 100 campsites all have their own names like Valhalla, Mandalay, Cave man, Pink Onion, Woof, Jungle and Dragons. William F. Buckley Jr., George H.W. Bush and Astronaut Frank Borman hang out at the Hillbilly Camp. Throughout the 16 days of the Grove, there are lectures, plays, music, along with great food, cigars, and endlessly flowing booze. The Lakeside Speakers are an amazing lineup of the world’s most powerful elite. But if an attendee wants to go swim nude in the Russian River, that’s his business.

Remember that the Bohemian Club has a mandated group of members who are actors, writers, musicians and artists, so the entertainment is non-stop –annual events are the Lo-Jinx musical comedy show and a more serious Grove Play. The Clubhouse back in San Francisco has a 600 seat auditorium in the basement for putting on plays throughout the year, and for rehearsing shows headed for the Grove. The “Men of Talent” are often given reduced membership fees, in return for their work on Club shows, which are presented in the Clubhouse every Thursday night from October to May. Mark Twain would work all year on phony Elizabethan poems and suggestive fishing songs involving the size of a man’s cod, to be presented at the Grove.

Member Herman Wouk, author of
The Winds Of War said of the Grove, "Men can decently love each other; they always have, but women never quite understand.” Still, not everyone thinks highly of the Grove and its antics. Member Richard Nixon once called it, “the most faggy goddamn thing that you would ever imagine.” Interestingly, even though past presidents and presidential hopefuls are regular attendees, the Grove has a rule that sitting presidents may not give speeches during the event. Nevertheless, members and guests are a stunning array of business and political leaders, which is what makes the decidedly lowbrow, high-schoolish level of pranks, name calling, theatrical drag acts and fart jokes seem so out of place for these otherwise dour men of power. And then there’s all of that public urinating.

Yes, it’s a freewheeling place where guys like George Schultz, Henry Kissinger, Newt Gingrich can pee up against an old-growth tree and not have some idiot from
People Magazine plaster it on the cover. The Grove is not necessarily a place where world domination is planned, it’s where the men who already dominate the world go to relax. They aren’t worshiping Satan, they aren’t sacrificing orphaned children to the ancient god Moloch. They are doing what the rest of us can do privately without having cameras and microphones thrust at us while we’re sitting in a boat, baiting a hook and drinking a beer. They drink nonstop, joke with each other, and act like big kids for a couple of weeks a year. The Grove’s meetings have been infiltrated many times by legitimate reporters, and the overwhelming conclusion is that there’s nothing sinister going on. Unfortunately, that doesn’t sell books and DVD exposés to a breathless public who believes otherwise.

(Portions adapted from Conspiracy Theories & Secret Societies For Dummies by Christopher L. Hodapp and Alice VonKannon)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Paris Court Appoints Attorney To Administer GLNF


The French saga of the Grand Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) and its beleaguered Grand Master François Stifani has taken a sudden new twist. Stifani resigned last Friday as President (essentially Chairman) of the Board that runs the business side of the grand lodge, but did not resign as Grand Master. The rest of the Board resigned, as well. Observers believed this was an attempt to stall for further time in reaction to a court ruling by Paris' Grand Tribunal (TGI) that ordered an immediate convening of a general assembly of the GLNF's members to remove Stifani as President of the Board, select new leadership, pass a budget, and authorize an accounting of previous years, while carefully monitoring the vote to assure no funny business. Stifani's resignation as President implied that he felt that he could stay as Grand Master, and a dissolved Board of Directors meant no real action could be taken immediately to force the assembly to convene.

Au contrere, said the court. The Paris Tribunal announced yesterday that it has appointed a female attorney, Monique Legrand, to a six month post as the ad hoc administrator of the all-male GLNF's business.

The language and cultural details can be confusing—articles refer to the administrator as "Master Monique Legrand," which gets WAY too bewildering when Masonic terms sound the same, but the term "Master" in her case seems to be the US equivalent of "Esq." for an attorney.

The most important line in this whole story appears at the bottom of the page: The Justice of the Republic does not distinguish the functions of Grand Master and President. It seems that Stifani is out as GM, whether he agrees with the Court's opinion or not.

From the French article by Francis Koch at L'Express magazine, who has been reporting all of this (many thanks to Bro. Adam Thompson for the clearer translation):

Justice of the Republic shall take the direction of the GLNF
January 25, 2011 7:33 p.m. | by Francis Koch

In a ruling handed down this morning, the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris [TGI] has appointed attorney Monique Legrand, judicial administrator, as ad hoc administrator of the French National Grand Lodge (GLNF) second largest allegiance in France with 43,000 brothers. The mission of the administrator is expected to last six months and will cease as soon as the bodies of the GLNF decide.

This order was obtained today by lawyers for Regular Freemasonry (FMR), an association of brothers of the GLNF in conflict with [its Grand Master] Francois Stifani since December 2009.

According to this ruling, signed on behalf of a vice-president of TGI, the ad hoc administrator has 5 assignments:

1. Administer GLNF with the assistance of employees and take all measures made necessary by the situation;

2. Represent GLNF in all judicial proceedings;

3. Take all measures to enable the GLNF to have a President, a Board and an Office;

4. Convene a General Assembly, the agenda of which is to be the approval of the 2008-2009 accounts, the approval of the 2010-2011 Budget and the ratification of the appointment of President [and Grand Master] by the Supreme Grand Committee;

5. Access any relevant documentation, including membership and financial records.

Consequently, Monique Legrand henceforth has full authority to administer the GLNF. It would therefore appear that the ruling deprives Francois Stifani, who as recently as yesterday signed a letter to the Supreme Grand Committee as “Grand Master”, of any power regarding the current management of the Order.

This information is all the more surprising since Francois Stifani appeared to make a power play by splitting himself in two. On 21 January 2011, he in effect resigned from his position as Chairman of the GLNF ... all the while claiming to remain Grand Master. In essence, he wanted to remain at the head of the Order as Grand Master, while leaving it to a legal agent to carry out the December 7, 2010 decision of the TGI of Paris (the convening of a [General Assembly] for the purpose of removing the President).

Francois Stifani claimed the Order could be run by two brothers: a Grand Master and a separate Chief Manager (which the statutes of the GLNF do not really provide for). His resignation [has] therefore turned against him.

With the resignation of Francois Stifani, the Paris TGI has affirmed that it is no longer necessary for the agenda of the next GA to include the removal of the President and certain members of the Board, but the Assembly must proceed with "the ratification of the appointment of the President pursuant to the provisions of Article 2.3 of the Rules of Procedure." As Article 2.3 is for the nomination of a "candidate for Grand Master" and "ratification of the Association at the General Assembly," it is clear that the Justice of the Republic does not [as Stifani does] distinguish between the functions of Grand Master and President.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thanks to Imhotep AMD Council #434



My deepest thanks go to the officers and members of Imhotep Council No. 434 Allied Masonic Degrees in Indianapolis for the last two years they have graciously allowed me to serve as Sovereign Master. My final official duty last night was to install incoming Sovereign Master Gary Messer and his officer's line.

I thoroughly enjoy this small, dedicated group of brethren. We meet, appropriately, in the Egyptian-themed Red Cross Room of Indiana Freemasons' Hall, and I always look forward to our quarterly gatherings. We are small enough in size that we all know each other and have a warm friendship for each other. The other advantage of a small group is that we get to easily take advantage of the wide variety of dining venues that surround us in downtown Indianapolis. We go out of our way to find a new place each meeting (thanks in many cases to Kyle Fahrner for his diligence in this matter!).

We discussed some plans for the coming year, and I look forward to more and greater things with this Council.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Masonic Week Meal Reservations Extended to February 1st!

Note: The deadline has been extended for Masonic Week meal reservations until February 1st!


Come celebrate with us at
The Masonic Society's
Annual First Circle Gathering Banquet & Meeting

Friday February 11th, 2011
Hilton Alexandria Mark Center Hotel
Alexandria, Virginia

Our featured speaker will be
Bryan Toye of Toye, Kenning and Spencer,
who will speak on the history of Masonic regalia
and his company's three centuries of adorning the modern fraternity.

Banquet Cost is $65 per person.
All members, Masons, friends, and ladies are most welcome.

IMPORTANT NOTICE:
We are honored to once again be an official participant in the Allied Masonic Degrees "Masonic Week" program. Tickets for the banquet are available ONLY in advance through the AMD Week organizers. All meals MUST have a ticket.
ALL RESERVATIONS must be made by FEBRUARY 1st.
(Extended deadline)
No meal tickets for any of Masonic Week's events will be sold at the hotel!


ALL DINNER TICKETS MUST BE PURCHASED NO LATER THAN FEBRUARY 1st!
Visit the AMD reservation website at
http://www.yorkrite.org/MasonicWeek/index.html

or contact:
Paul Newhall at psnewhall@verizon.net

And be sure to visit the Masonic Society Hospitality Suite, which will be open evenings from Wednesday through the wee night hours of Saturday.
Stop by our table in the vendor's area to check on the room number.

Brother Jack LaLanne Passes 1/23/2011

Brother Jack LaLanne (1914-2011), world renowned fitness expert and motivational speaker, passed away Sunday at his home in Morro Bay at the age of 96. He was born in 1914 in San Francisco to French immigrants. LaLanne’s career in the fitness industry spanned 75 years, and he is credited with founding the modern fitness movement. His exercise television show debuted in 1951 and ran for an incredible 34 years. He invented fitness equipment, created videos, and was notorious for record-breaking stunts. In 1955 at the age of 41, LaLanne swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf while handcuffed. (He did it again at age 60, this time hauling a 1,000 pound boat behind him).

In 2008 he was inducted into the California Hall of Fame, at age 94.

Brother LaLanne was raised as a Master Mason on March 17, 1949 in Chateau Thierry Lodge No. 569. It later merged with Crow Canyon Lodge No. 551 in Castro Valley, where LaLanne was still a member. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Elaine.

(His membership is mentioned most recently in Crow Canyon Lodge's January 2009 Trestle Board.)

H/T to Eastern Illinois Freemasonry website.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Issue 11 of the Journal of the Masonic Society Coming

Issue 11 of the Journal of the Masonic Society will be landing in mailboxes soon.

Highlights from this issue include:

The Lion and the Lamb: A Look at the Symbolism of Redwood Lodge’s Coat of Arms by Shai Afsai

Who Am I? by Michael Poll

Unity in Masonry by William J. Mollere

The 1964-65 Masonic Brotherhood Center by Christopher L. Hodapp

Speculative Innovations in Initiatic Ceremonies by Bernhard W. "Ben" Hoff

The Buffs: A Short History of Lodge 170A in the 3rd Regiment of Foot by Peter G. Knatt

Lessons From My Watch by Christopher L. Hodapp

• Masonic Treasures: George Washington Lodge No. 143, Chambersburg, PA; Philanthropic Lodge, Marblehead, MA

Plus The Gentleman Mason - our regular column of style, manners, book reviews, tobacciana, and spirits; news and events from all over the Masonic world; and products from our great advertisers

This issue’s cover features a stained glass panel, depicting the trowel, the 24 inch gauge, and the common gavel. From George Washington Lodge No. 143 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, the oldest purpose-built Masonic building in that state.




Not a member of the Masonic Society yet?

We are the fastest growing Masonic research organization in the world, with members from 17 countries. Membership costs a paltry $39, and you'll get four issues of the very best magazine in Freemasonry; the greatest membership patent you will ever receive, with our trademark wax seal; regular discount offers on books, clothing and more; our private, members-only online forum; and it wouldn't be Masonic without a dues card and pin!


2011 Masonic Society Banquet: RESERVE BY WEDNESDAY!


Come celebrate with us at
The Masonic Society's
Annual First Circle Gathering Banquet & Meeting

Friday February 11th, 2011
Hilton Alexandria Mark Center Hotel
Alexandria, Virginia

Our featured speaker will be
Bryan Toye of Toye, Kenning and Spencer,
who will speak on the history of Masonic regalia
and his company's three centuries of adorning the modern fraternity.

Banquet Cost is $65 per person.
All members, Masons, friends, and ladies are most welcome.

IMPORTANT NOTICE:
We are honored to once again be an official participant in the Allied Masonic Degrees "Masonic Week" program. Tickets for the banquet are available ONLY in advance through the AMD Week organizers. All meals MUST have a ticket.
ALL RESERVATIONS must be made by THIS WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26th, 2011.
No meal tickets for any of Masonic Week's events will be sold at the hotel!


ALL DINNER TICKETS MUST BE PURCHASED NO LATER THAN THIS WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26th
Visit the AMD reservation website at
http://www.yorkrite.org/MasonicWeek/index.html

or contact:
Paul Newhall at psnewhall@verizon.net

And be sure to visit the Masonic Society Hospitality Suite, which will be open evenings from Wednesday through the wee night hours of Saturday.
Stop by our table in the vendor's area to check on the room number.

Not a member of the Masonic Society yet?
We are the fastest growing Masonic research organization,
with members in 17 countries around the globe!

Membership includes dues card, pin,
a beautiful membership patent hand-sealed with wax,
access to our members-only online discussion and research forum,
and four issues of our quarterly Journal, which has been described as the best and most beautiful Masonic magazine available anywhere!
All for a paltry $39 per year!

For information about joining , visit www.themasonicsociety.com


WEOFM.ORG: "The Foundation of the Premier Grand Lodge in 1717" by WBro. Christopher Powell.


The fourth video presentation from the Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry is up and running, presented on Vimeo in Flash format.


This week's presentation is "The Foundation of the Premier Grand Lodge in 1717" by WBro. Christopher Powell.

Last week's presentation was "The Evolution of Scottish Freemasonry" by Robert L.D. Cooper. All previous programs are still available for viewing on Vimeo.

The Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry 2011 Lecture Series is a free presentation by the Grand Lodge of Indiana F&AM, beginning January 1, 2011 and running through December 31, 2011. At the conclusion of each presentation you will usually have an opportunity to join with the speakers in a live conversation on Facebook at the "Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry 2011 Lecture Series" page.

Next Saturday, January 29th, will be "The Old Charges Revisited" by Prof. Andrew Prescott.

Masonic Society's 2nd Annual UK–Ireland Symposium - Call for papers


The Masonic Society's 2nd Annual UK–Ireland Symposium - Call for papers

The Symposium is the highlight of
The Masonic Society's yearly activities in the UK and Ireland region and the call for papers enables the Masonic Research community to tell us what everyone should be hearing about.

Timeframe
23rd January 2011 - call for papers opens
28th February 2011 - deadline for submission of abstracts (midnight GMT)
28th February - 7th March 2011 - candidate speakers chosen and contacted
28th March 2011 - deadline for papers (midnight GMT)
28th March - 11th April 2011 - final speakers chosen and contacted
11th April 2011 - Speakers and talks announced

The location and date of the symposium will be announced on or before 11th April 2011.

Interested in giving a talk?
Submit your talk proposal to Michael Davey now. If you would like to see a particular speaker, please let us know or direct them to Brother Davey.

What are we looking for?
We are looking for talks on any non-basic aspect of Freemasonry, be it mainstream, advanced, niche, esoteric, scientific or natural. Talks should be fresh, inspiring and about the cutting edge, emerging themes or new perspectives within Freemasonry. Ideally talks should have a strong original research component but talks without this component but which are appropriately entertaining will also be considered. Speakers should consider that the audience is likely to represent a very broad cross-section of the Fraternity and may include interested guests that are not Freemasons.

Most of all, we want speakers who have a deep knowledge of the topics they are proposing, are energetic and enthusiastic about their topic and want to share that knowledge with the community. Tell us what you are most passionate about and why we should be passionate about it too.

What's in it for you?
You get to present to a friendly audience who is keen to listen to and learn about everything you have to impart. It is also a great way to give back to the community, to develop your own speaking skills, develop friendships and meet other academics, researchers and lecturers. In addition, we are pleased to be able to offer a benefits package including:
invitation to the complimentary speakers' dinner complimentary lunch on the day.

We may be able to provide a hardship fund to cover reasonable travel and accomodation expenses for speakers that otherwise would not be able to attend. Please indicate if you would likely need to access this fund when you submit your talk proposal.

What is the format of the talk?
All speaker sessions are 55 minutes long including 10-15 minutes for questions. You'll present at the front of the room using a laptop, projector and screen and will have a microphone so the whole audience can hear you. Water will be provided and the chairperson will help you start and stop on time, direct questions from the audience and help you with anything else you need on the day.

You may also be invited to take part in a panel discussion towards the end of the day.

How to contact us
By email to: michael.davey@coderage.org

Speakers, please include an abstract of your proposed talk and your location.
If you would like to suggest a speaker, please include appropriate contact details for them and specify whether or not you have suggested to them that they speak at the Symposium.

Michael Davey
TMS 2nd Circle Chair, UK-Ireland region


Not a member of the Masonic Society yet?
We are the fastest growing Masonic research organization, with members in 17 countries around the globe!
Membership includes dues card, pin, a beautiful membership patent hand-sealed with wax, access to our members-only online discussion and research forum, and four issues of our quarterly Journal, which has been described as the best and most beautiful Masonic magazine available anywhere!All for a paltry $39 per year!

For information about joining , visit www.themasonicsociety.com

Saturday, January 22, 2011

New Jersey's Nutley Lodge #25 "Lamp of Knowledge" Lecture Series

Nutley Lodge No. 25 in Nutley, New Jersey is presenting an ongoing "Lamp of Knowledge" Lecture Series.

On Monday, February 7, Nutley Lodge will welcome WB Henry Abel, Past Master of Humanitas Lodge No. 1123 of the Grand Lodge of New York, who will present "Exploring the Chamber of Reflection". WB Abel is also the Senior Deacon of the American Lodge of Research in New York City. This program is open to brethren of all degrees. Vouched-for Entered Apprentices are encouraged to attend.

Dinner will be served at 6:30 PM, with the meeting commencing promptly at 7:30 PM. Contact the Junior Warden at (973) 464-0115 if you wish to attend this event which promises to be fun and enlightening.

I'll be speaking at Nutley Lodge on Monday, June 6th.

France: GLNF Board of Directors Resigns


The Grande Loge Nationale Francaise (GLNF) saga continues...

The GLNF issued a press release on Friday, January 21, 2011, announcing the sudden resignation of the members of the Board of Directors of the fraternity. This is on the heels of a Paris court decision on December 7th, 2010 requiring Grand Master Stifani and the GLNF to convene a General Assembly in the next few weeks to hold a new vote for the position of Grand Master, and to answer to the membership for a series of allegations and complaints against his actions. It is alleged that Stifani was illegally elected to serve a second five year term, in violation of the GLNF's constitutions.

The text of the press release (errors in translation are mine):
============

Given the urgency of ensuring good conditions in the organization of the General Assembly ordered by the Judgement of December 7, members of the Board of the Grande Loge Nationale Francaise have decided today to submit their resignation, which will in effect expand the prerogatives of court justice.

The reasons pertaining to this decision are twofold:

1. To avoid for members and the Chairman of the Board conflicts with the constitutions of the order they are asked to defend. Indeed, in accordance with the constitutions and statutes and rules of procedure, the Grand Master of the Order is, by law, the president of the association. He is appointed by the Sovereign Grand Committee by secret ballot. This appointment is subject to ratification of the Grand Lodge convened for that purpose in holding Masonic ceremony. He in no way has to undergo during his term a revocation of the general meeting "civil."

2. The second concern is to ensure the implementation of court decisions under conditions of transparency and indisputable objectivity. The meeting of more than 4,000 people in one place with a voting method of a show of hands represents a challenge, both in terms of security, and in the counting of votes, as a management practice. The appointment of an attorney is a guarantee of impartiality in the selection of a place, a date, and commitment of expenditure.


The resignations may very well be a ploy to buy more time. In fact, Stifani clarified last week if he resigned as President of the Board, that did not mean his resignation as Grand Master. A date for the new Assembly has still not been set.

Meanwhile, on January 19th, dignitaries from nine other grand lodges at work in France met in Paris under the banner of La Maconnerie Francaise. The GLNF was pointedly not involved in the meeting. Collectively representing 120,000 male and female Masons, they gathered as a show of cooperation with each other, in the face of embarrassment from public stories over the GLNF's problems.

One undercurrent flowing through French Masonry is the longstanding desire of the regular Grand Loge de France to again be recognized in the mainstream world, as it was for decades. The GLNF was formed with the blessing of the United Grand Lodge of England, and eventually gained exclusive recognition by most regular grand lodges worldwide because of that association. If the GLNF continues down the path it is pursuing, the GLdF might very well have a chance again.

The country's largest grand lodge, the Grand Orient de France, voted last year to admit women into its lodges. That leaves the GLNF and the GLdF as the two largest male-only obediences in France. Both GLs should be reaping the benefits of men leaving the Grand Orient in protest. But with the high visibility of turmoil in the GLNF, the GLdF may have its day in the limelight sooner than anyone ever thought.

See: Grande Loge Nationale Française Imploding: UGLE Weighs In