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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Civility, Masons, and the Press

A curious article appeared today on the Bold.global website, entitled: "It’s Been A Depressing Political Season, But Masonic Leaders Remind Us Peace is Possible" by Hayden Williams III.  It contains an interview with the Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of California,  MWBro. Russ Charvonia. 

On the one hand, I'm all for a call to civility in the U.S., and the world, for that matter. There's too little of it these days, and the anonymity  of the web has made things even worse, allowing total strangers to erupt in ways they would never do face to face. Increasingly, we all seem to be shouting at each other, and branding argumentative opponents as the enemy. The bizarre construct of "hate speech" laws in some countries to brand uncomfortable rhetoric as a crime is an outgrowth of this. Even universities, which were once bastions of open dialogue and opposing opinions, are now turning into philosophical gulags where some students feel they must be protected from speech itself, and speech codes and trigger warnings now govern what a professor may say or teach.

So, civility was the theme of MWBro. Russ' during his time in office - he has written about it (as DGM in 2014), and even issued a month-long "civility challenge" to California Masons in May 2015.

Now, on the other hand, there's this article today on Bold.global. PGM Russ has done a dangerous thing as a Mason - talked to the media. In this case, the interviewer wasn't anti-Masonic, which is refreshing these days. But he did have a very clear and distinct agenda. 

Here's the article:
As the June 7  presidential primary approaches for the Golden State, members of America’s oldest fraternity, Freemasons, are speaking out against the tone of the presidential elections. A society woven into the fabric of American history, Freemasonry seeks to develop leaders through its central tenets: brotherly love, relief, and truth. Bold interviewed the most recent Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of California, Russ Charvonia, about the state of the nation from a Freemasonry perspective.
Anger and discord at a Donald Trump rally
 This presidential election has been dominated by narcissistic personalities blatantly using American democracy as a personal showcase. Donald Trump has degraded women, minorities, and the profession of public service all in one bow. The truly alarming aspect of this is that millions of Americans are supporting this kind of showmanship, signaling a great sickness being reborn from America’s past ghosts. When asked about his opinion on the pulse of the nation, Charvonia said that the country needs civic society groups including Freemasonry like never before.
Charvonia said the world’s most powerful office needs a statesman. It needs a leader who can speak directly to the heart of a raging planet, and an egocentric politician will only throw gasoline on a raging inferno. Freemasonry is built upon a system of brotherly networks, all working towards a common goal. In a time where emotions are high and the stakes of national security are even higher, the ability to influence others to work together as a unit may be the most important qualification of the next POTUS. Charvonia knows this all to well. While heading an organization with more than 4,000 positions of leadership, his success came from having dialogue–not arguments–when making decisions for the future of this vast organization.
 Recent national events show the country’s negative racial undertones are as high as ever, and Trump’s basis of power resides within this matrix. Charvonia believes that Freemasonry tenets may have to return and bring civility to this morally wounded nation. We must engage in dialogue, and not debate. Debates require a winner, in which the pendulum of revenge and envy swings continuously.
Dialogue brings opposing views together, while allowing compromise to manifest itself for the benefit of harmony. The Republican presidential race has resembled a playground shouting match using “yo mama so fat” punch lines. As a result, the American people imitate such behavior, destroying what little values people still possess. California Freemasons have seen a resurgence of young men ages 18-30 joining their ranks. They are openly rejecting today’s loud, bitter status quo for a brotherhood steeped in mystery and knowledge. While media has done much to tarnish its image, the tenets that the institution stands by has produced some of America’s greatest leaders in various arenas.
 It is this reason why Charvonia said he feels Freemasonry must lead the charge restoring America’s civility. Currently, Freemasons from California are leading a call for dialogue discussions in racially divided cities such as Ferguson, Mo. They are becoming more publicly accessible to attract those who are fed up with seeing America’s spirit digressing into chaos. When primary day arrives in the Golden State, California Freemasons will vote for the candidate who shares the same values they believe in, rooted in truth. Unequivocally, that candidate will not be Donald Trump.

"Unequivocally?" Really?

So, the question immediately arises: did RWBro. Charvonia actually just alienate between 15% and 30% (or more) of his own membership by seeming to attack a candidate of a major political party who they might just be voting for? Or was he simply the victim of a lousy reporter stuffing words in his mouth? (Note that there is not one, single, solitary quote from the GM's actual lips in the article.) 

I've been edited up against wingnuts like Alex Jones enough in TV shows about Masonry to know how your words can be twisted around by even a moderately skilled editor (heck, I did it myself for 25 years). So, I'm not so sure that the PGM actually staked out a position on Donald Trump in his remarks to this reporter. But it sure sounded like it from the way it was written. (NOTE: See the UPDATE below.)

Now, I don't disagree that Trump specifically has brought a major clot of coarseness to the presidential race. And I pray that if he actually becomes president that some level-headed advisor or Secret Service agent wrests his cell phone and Twitter account away from him before he Tweets some 140 character zinger off to Xi Jinping that gets one of our aircraft carriers slammed with a cruise missile over it. 

I think MWBro. Russ' goal of striving for more civility in the public arena is a noble one that should be pursued. As Masons, we strive to be tolerant and civil to each other and the world around us. But this story seems to be claiming that he is saying who Masons in California should not vote for, because of "civility." That's the kind of position that groups like the Grand Orient of France take, and staking out public position papers on political topics is one of the several reasons they are not widely recognized around the world. When a current or even past Grand Master walks into an interview with his apron and gold collar, he is speaking as a leader of all of his members. But if he wants to take a personal position on a public policy or societal matter, or just that he "feels the Bern," take all that stuff off and just be a concerned citizen who happens to be a Mason.

-------------------------------------

UPDATE: 
The author of the article contacted me on Facebook, and admitted that the commentary specific to Trump were his own opinions, and NOT those of the PGM. After the discussion, he went back and revised the last lines of the piece to reflect that. 

And the PGM himself also sent a message saying the following,"To be clear, I did not mention Mr. Trump's name to the author of this article. That was Mr. Williams' conclusion, not mine." 

Scottish Rite Patent Frames


Scottish Rite Masons - looking for a frame to put your 32° or Knight Commander of the Court patent into? 

Eternity Creations is custom making frames for these documents. They are hand-crafted and largely black, with a Chain of Union matte reproducing the symbols of the 32 degrees. 


(I am supposing that these are for the AASR-Southern Jurisdiction. Please check with the company to see if your Northern Masonic Jurisdiction certificate will fit into this frame!)

The price is $139.95, plus $19.95 shipping in the U.S.

For more details (and larger photos) visit their website HERE.

Global Summit of Masonic Friends of India Conference 11/19-21


The Grand Lodge of India AF&AM will be hosting a Global Summit of Masonic Friends of India  in New Delhi on November 19-21, 2016. There will be plenty of organized sightseeing of historic Delhi, lunches and festive boards, and the program itself on Sunday - all included in the US$200 Foreign Participants registration fee ($300 with your spouse). 

Click image of program to enlarge.




Boston U "Fraternalism" Class Visits GL of Massachusetts


Professor Will Moore teaches a class in American Fraternalism at Boston University. An article on todays BU Today website discusses a recent field trip the class took the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts' Temple in downtown Boston:


The magnificent innards of Boston’s Grand Lodge of Masons dazzle the eight BU students on a recent visit: the vast meeting halls with their triplicate sets of wooden thrones, upholstered tiers of seating, and central altars with cushioned tops, the exquisitely sculpted ceiling of Corinthian Hall, and the tiny hand-laid Italian tiles on the floors.
Then, in the library, tour guide Walter Hunt, grand historian of the lodge, asks for questions. “I have a quick question,” pipes up Leah Turner (CAS’16). “There’s a document over here with a lock of hair attached to it.”
The hair belonged to a deceased 19th-century Mason and was attached to his membership diploma in a memorial not unusual for that time, Hunt explains. In fact, when loyal Mason George Washington died, the Massachusetts Grand Lodge successfully petitioned Martha Washington for a lock of his hair, now stored in an urn made by Paul Revere (who once served as grand master of the lodge) and brought out whenever a new lodge grand master is installed. “It’s probably the most valuable artifact we possess,” Hunt says.
From the sublimity of its architecture to the idiosyncrasy of its hair samples, Freemasonry (founded in 18th-century England and devoted to charitable works) is part of the syllabus for Mystic Orders and Secret Societies: Fraternalism in America. Taught by William Moore (GRS’99), a College of Arts & Sciences associate professor of American material culture, the class covers other groups, among them the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Knights of Labor (a late 19th-century labor organization), the Grand Army of the Republic (a fraternal organization of veterans of the Civil War Union Army, whose Lynn, Mass., hall the class also visits), and various African American and women’s organizations.
As you might have guessed from the Masons’ wide open tour for Moore’s class, the secrecy in secret societies depends on your definition of the word secret. Their rituals and activities, Moore says, arose before the internet and social media (even advertising) were around to publicize them. (Membership has its privileges in terms of viewing certain rituals and artifacts the public doesn’t see, such as Washington’s locks.) The syllabus includes a photo of Shriners (who are affiliated with the Masons) bedecked in their organization’s robes and headgear. Moore, who directs BU’s American & New England Studies Program, says his course serves up an academic answer to the obvious question: “Here are these guys dressed up in funny coats. What the hell is that about?”
“We tend to think of fraternal organizations as being silly—as being Fred Flintstone and the Water Buffalos or Jackie Gleason with the Raccoons,” he says. “But in much of American history, fraternal organizations played extremely important roles in culture and in society and in how people defined themselves.…My argument is that if you overlook fraternal organizations, you’re missing out on a lot of different understandings of how we got here as Americans.”
[snip]
The DaVinci Code was catnip for conspiracy theorists with its talk of masonic secrets. And while not denominational, the Masons require members to profess faith in one God, something the Vatican deems a renunciation of Catholic teachings on the Trinity and Jesus’ divinity.
Political science aside, sociologists “are interested in fraternal groups from the standpoint of what role do voluntary societies have,” Moore says. He cites Harvard’s Robert Putnam, whose book Bowling Alone laments the decline of social capital of the kind fraternal membership provided in its heyday. (Masonic membership, for example, peaked around 1960 and has since slipped.) These societies also provided such benefits as insurance to their members. But the groups have been divisive as well, setting up ins and outs that breed suspicions à la the Anti-Masons, says Moore.
Turner is taking the class both as a history major and a sorority member. “I was interested in learning a bit more about secret societies and the way they relate to my life,” she says of her membership in a sororal organization. You’d think a millennial, reared in the let-it-all-hang-out exhibitionism of the selfie age, would find the secrecy of fraternal organizations alien. In fact, she says, she enjoys the class in part because of the surprising parallels. Articles read in class posit that “people joined these societies because they were so bored with their day-to-day life. You could definitely argue that today, we are also so bored with our lives that we spend all this time cultivating an image of ourselves online.”
At one point during the tour, Hunt jokes that he’s waiting for the students to ooh and ahh at the magnificent rooms. In fact, they inspired a different kind of awe, Turner says afterwards. “It seems like … a sacred space, not in the sense of a religious aspect, but a space that clear is taken very seriously by the people who are Masons. It almost felt, like, inappropriate to make comments.”

In case you’re wondering, Moore has not joined a fraternal organization (although he was initiated into the Boy Scouts’ national honor society at age 15). It’s one of several areas where he separates his academic interests from his personal ones.
“I am a historian of surfing,” he says, “but I do not ride waves in my spare time.”
Read the whole article HERE.

BTW, if you are associated with Boston University as a student, administrator, staff, or alumni, you may join Boston University Lodge (one of just three academic lodges in Massachusetts - the others are at Harvard and MIT). For information, CLICK HERE. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Freemasonry In a War Zone

This message was posted on a Facebook page I follow. Their faces have been covered to protect their safety. I understand that the photo was "taken few years ago, a new lodge has been rebuilt and operates normally, but underground."




Monday, March 28, 2016

MW Harry Truman's Grandson Is 2016 Truman Lecturer

The Spring 2016 Truman Lecture in Missouri marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Missouri Lodge of Research.  To celebrate, this year's program will feature Brother Clifton Truman Daniel, who will present, "Harry S Truman: The Character of a Freemason."

The afternoon event will be on Saturday, May 21st, beginning at 2:00 PM. It will be a private reception at the Harry S Truman Presidential Library and Museum in  Independence, MO.

Also at this event will be remarks from Alex Burden, Executive Director of the Truman Library Institute, and a never before seen exhibit of both silver 33° Scottish Rite rings of MWBro. Truman and "Dad" Frank S. Land, founder of DeMolay International (as well as a surprise guest to explain their history and significance).

There will be a private reception following the presentation, with hors d'oeuvres available, until 4:30, during which you will be able to meet the speakers, as well as see the rings up close.

Tickets are $35 per person, and must be purchased through the Missouri Research Lodge's Eventbrite webpage HERE.

The Truman Library and Museum is located at 500 West U.S. Highway  24, Independence, Missouri 64050.

Brother Clifton Truman Daniel is an author, lecturer, and the oldest grandson of President and Past Grand Master Harry S Truman. (His father was Clifton Daniel, former Managing Editor of the New York Times, and his mother was Margaret Truman, the President's daughter, who was a very successful mystery novelist.)  Brother Daniel is a member of Oriental Lodge No. 33 in Chicago. He was made a Mason "at sight" in 2011 after receiving the full Master Mason degree by then Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Illinois, MW Terry L. Seward,  at a special joint ceremony in Joliet, Illinois, with the assistance of the GM of Missouri, MW John W. Hess. 

The Missouri Lodge of Research was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Missouri, AF&AM on September 30, 1941 under the direction of MWB Harry S. Truman. The Lodge gathers and disseminates, by discussion and/or publication, information primarily of historical character pertaining to the origin and development of Freemasonry and to the members who have contributed to its growth and development. Any Master Mason may join - if living in Missouri he may become an Active Member, if in another jurisdiction, he becomes a Corresponding Member. Dues are $25, and members receive the annual book published by the Lodge.

Indiana Freemasons Hall Needs Volunteers Immediately!


Indiana Freemasons, WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Please ensure that your Lodges and groups are aware of this letter. 

The Freemasons’ Hall and home to Your Grand Lodge Office is alive and well! We are well on our way to having one of the greatest Masonic Temples in the all of the United States. The Freemasons’ Hall is home to your Indiana Grand Lodge Office, The Masonic Home Foundation Office, one of the greatest Library and Museums in the State and country (dedicated to Freemasonry), The Masonic Society National Office, The Masonic Scholarship Board, the State Office for Indiana DeMolay, the Masonic Relief Board, the Indianapolis York Rite Bodies, consisting of Raper Commandry #1, Indianapolis Council #2 and Indianapolis Chapter #5, seven Blue Lodges and an AMD Council, an Eastern Star Chapter and a DeMolay Chapter.  

Freemasons’ Hall has had hundreds of thousands of dollars invested into the building over the last 10 years. The Grand Lodge office was recently renovated, The IMHF offices were completely renovated, new fire escape, new windows, new doors, new dining room and lighting, new kitchen and updated bathrooms, new plumbing from the basement to the third floor, ADA Ramp and accessories, landscaping, fencing, new air conditioning and heating in the Grand Lodge office, new heating coils and new boilers for heating the building.

In short, just to clarify some rumors, the Freemasons’ Hall is here for many years to come and, for what you might have heard, we are not selling, moving, abandoning, leaving, or anything that you might have heard. We have a few million dollars invested into this building and over 107 years of history. Structurally, this building is one of the best built buildings in Downtown Indianapolis, and we are here for the foreseeable future.

Now comes the part we ask for your help! Usually this type of request comes in the form of asking for a check, (although we will accept any donation you send), this request is for your volunteer time and your expertise. We have the need for volunteers. We need skilled and unskilled labor. We have a lot of projects from cleaning, sweeping, landscaping, painting, washing, polishing, to electricians, concrete repair, welders, plumbers, trophies and engraving and repairing, backdrop and artist that can paint large scale paintings, plasterers, to cabinet makers. We are accepting volunteers Monday through Friday, from 08:00 AM to 2:00 PM, and some nights and weekends. To expedite the volunteers, and to ensure that we have materials and jobs for you to perform, we ask only that you coordinate, (especially skilled labor), through Randy Spaulding at his email address at randy@indytemple.org

You can always show up, any day, unannounced, it just slows the process down a bit. Starting next week, March 28th, we are looking for volunteers every day. We are cleaning stairs, polishing brass, painting ceilings and walls, and many other projects. We have an immediate need for electricians, plumbers and a concrete finisher. Remember this is volunteer time.

So, for the next two months, we are asking for your help, so that we can get the building shining, before Grand Lodge in May, and to impress upon a potential donor, that his money invested in our building, will be a wise investment. We have been doing this for the last 60 days and, except for the Indianapolis York Rite, most of the volunteers have been from outside the building. 

It is time for the members of Freemasons’ Hall to answer the call, and come and help make this building a shining gem in the world of Freemasonry!

Fraternally, 

The Indianapolis Masonic Temple Association
525 N. Illinois StreetI
ndianapolis, Indiana

UGLE's Membership Focus Group Study


The United Grand Lodge of England has undertaken a massive study of current attitudes and criticisms of English Masonry, in an effort to improve the experience of their potential and existing members, slow down or turnaround the losses of last three decades, and encourage new leaders to come forward.

The article, "Society of Choice," appears in the Spring 2016 issue of Freemasonry Today, and describes the work of the Membership Focus Group (MFG). The MFG assembled the results of more than 18,000 member surveys. 
"The MFG surveys canvassed the opinions of present members and it is clear that while many lodges offer what good men seek, there is often a gap between expectation and reality. We need to communicate clearly and confidently what Freemasonry is and try harder to ensure that we select the right men, as well as offering a rewarding and enjoyable experience to the new member and his family."
The MFG identified five areas of concern, and is developing programs to address them:

1. Image

As an initial step, UGLE designed a new logo for all official publications and other applications for Masonry in their jurisdiction. It has met with very mixed responses so far, good and bad.   


(Masons around the UGLE often expressed concern as to the quality of their Masonic centers, and the value they provide.) 
"These should offer a positive impression, value for money and be an asset rather than a financial millstone to members." 

2. Attracting and selecting 
"Provinces are appointing Provincial Membership Officers as a prelude to improving the way in which we identify and select those who would add value to a lodge and appreciate our approach to life."
(Too many lodges bring new members in with the philosophy, "Did his check cash?" and "Does he have a pulse?" We don't have to take in every man who knocks on our doors. in the U.S., many grand lodges are requiring criminal background checks as a part of the investigation progress. In some European grand lodges, a photo and biography is often required of a petitioner  which is posted in the building for a month or more, so that anyone may comment on his character, if they know him.)

3. Improving retention 
(Like virtually every U.S. grand lodge, UGLE is also suffering from NPD losses.)
"We lose too many members, some through poor selection, others because we have not met their needs and expectations. This is very much to do with lodge culture and balancing the needs of the lodge with those of its members."
"Many survey respondents made suggestions about the need to get back to the core of why we are masons. The sentiment was that Freemasonry was beginning to feel more like a charitable organisation than one that promotes the idea of learning and personal moral development, which in turn leads us to be charitable.
 "Of the members surveyed, 75 per cent indicated that the aspects of Freemasonry that give the greatest help or value are: to feel part of a movement with history and traditional values; to make friends outside their normal social circle; to be part of something that supports those in need; and to achieve a sense of personal progress."
(Interestingly, their results echo what many U.S. Freemasons have been saying for almost two decades or more.)

4. Understanding and knowledge
"The MFG sought views on the importance of masonic knowledge, with 67 per cent citing it as very important to understand the symbolism and moral/philosophical issues underpinning Freemasonry.  
"More than 50 per cent reported only average or poor understanding. This is a core issue. In consultation with Provincial Grand Masters, a project has been established to consider how we might help, encourage and promote the development of educational activity and provide resources to underpin the three degrees of the Craft and the Royal Arch. "
(This may be the most important finding of the study - namely the thirst of Masons for education about their history, symbolism, and philosophy. In short, they didn't join a memorization club. They actually want to understand the words they recite.)

5. Supporting those that lead at all levels
"The future of Freemasonry depends on identifying those with the potential to lead at lodge, Provincial and Grand Lodge levels. It is also recognised that opportunities for development and the degree of support could be far better. We intend to consider how better to prepare and support those that volunteer for lead roles within our lodges so that they receive the assistance they require."
(Leadership can't just simply come from a slavish devotion to the advancing officers' line, and rewarding those who simply put in their time. Talented leaders must be identified, educated, and encouraged to pursue their goals.)

.....
"There are no quick fixes. The process of change and development will take 10 or more years to bring Freemasonry up to date and reverse the membership trends of the past 30 years. The priority for UGLE is quality, not quantity. If the experience is one of quality and genuine care and concern for one another, then the prospects for retention and growth are good. Equally, the traditional ceremonies and standards are of great importance and need to be retained rather than diluted.
 "UGLE recognises that one size does not fit all. Lodges vary in their style, approach and interests. We encourage them to be open to the guidance that is offered but to also adapt it in a way that best suits their requirements. By doing this, we can create a successful future together that embraces Freemasonry’s rich values and variety."

Whether the findings of the MFG actually accomplish anything won't be known for several years - they give themselves a decade to see the results. Like virtually every grand lodge, they want to help local lodges achieve their greatest potential by providing guidance. Just as a personal observation, I unfortunately have come across very few successful top-down programs that attempt to improve the lodge experience with a well-intentioned grand strategy. The reasons are varied. 

Every lodge has unique problems, be they financial (dues that's too low, or no source of outside income), infrastructure shortcomings (an old building with increasing maintenance costs and no modern facilities like elevators and air conditioning), personality problems (one family or clique dominates the officer positions, or an entrenched cadre of Past Masters resist new programs), or no education (lack of presentations on topics of interest to the active members, no outside speakers, no requirement of current members or new Masons to write papers on their Masonic experiences). There can be huge cultural differences between regions of a country or state, and especially between urban and rural lodges.  Great leaders don't grow on trees.  Some lodges are unable to confer their own degrees. The list goes on.

I hope the MFG's programs bear fruit. I also hope they encourage local lodges to be innovative on their own and to run with ideas of interest to their active members and officers. They say it themselves in their last paragraph: "One size does not fit all." Every grand lodge has hundreds (or in UGLE's case, thousands) of individual laboratories for change and development of fresh approaches. Let's make use of them.



Sunday, March 27, 2016

More Light in Masonry


Do you have a Masonic Temple that is outwardly unremarkable, that thousands of cars drive past every day without knowing it's there?

I learned this in film school: lighting is everything.

So many lodges over the years have given up their former (and usually grander, or at least more distinctive) temple buildings, and moved into pole barns or other far simpler structures that, unfortunately, just seem to fade into the surrounding landscape. 

This lodge either deliberately or accidentally came up with a simple bit of yard art combined with a single light that makes this otherwise plain wall jump out and announce that the local Masons inside are alive and well. You sure can't miss it.

(I believe this is St. Clair Lodge No. 24 in Belleville, Illinois, but unfortunately, their old website hasn't been updated in 12 years, and I don't find a Facebook page, either. If somebody knows for sure, please let me know.)

Caversham Masonic Centre's MM Plaques


During a recent remodeling, the Caversham Masonic Centre in Oxfordshire, England installed a unique series of decorations. There are ten bas relief, plaster plaques that depict the story of the Master Mason Degree. Each one measures 4' by 8', and they are installed on the South, West and North walls of the lodge room. The Centre is home to three lodges, and they use them during their ritual work to explain the historical and symbolic aspects of the degree.


To see all ten, CLICK HERE.

Also have a look at the other decor in the Temple, especially the painting on the ceiling. CLICK HERE.

A Grand Idea


In the United States at least, to commemorate their year in the Oriental Chair, Masters and Grand Masters generally come up with lapel pins, challenge coins, or occasionally custom ties to pass out to officers, visitors, and others. 

Well, that stuff's passé these days.

MW Anthony R. Cracco, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Illinois, has a better idea. He's got cigars.



According to Facebook, he sometimes gives a box of these to a lodge to auction off as a fund raiser.

During my years in the advertising business, we had a saying: "Where do good ideas come from? SOMEBODY ELSE!"

Masonic cigars have been around for a long time, and the current cigar craze has brought about several modern choices like HERE and HERE (although this is the first time I've heard of a GM doing this).

Kipling's "Gods of the Copybook Headings"


Alice came across a poem last night by Brother Rudyard Kipling that I hadn't read in many years, "Gods of the Copybook Headings," published in 1919.

When the poem was first published, his editor Andrew Rutherford commented that Kipling had felt that "society at large seemed...to have fallen into habits of wishful thinking and to have forgotten the age-old, unfashionable wisdom enunciated by the Gods of the Copybook Headings... His Gods are the Gods of Things as They Are; the verities they assert are rooted in experience; his fictions are based firmly on reality as he observed it; and part of that reality was the fact of war, and the recurrent necessity of using force in self-defence; or as a restraint on evil, violence, and anarchy."

Here  is a short piece about it by John Derbyshire that sheds a little more light on its background than I had known before:
Published in October 1919 when the poet was 53 years old, "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" has proved enduringly popular, despite the fact that copybooks disappeared from schoolrooms in Britain and America during, or shortly after, World War 2. A copybook was an exercise book used to practice one's handwriting in. The pages were blank except for horizontal rulings and a printed specimen of perfect handwriting at the top. You were supposed to copy this specimen all down the page. The specimens were proverbs or quotations, or little commonplace hortatory or admonitory sayings — the ones in the poem illustrate the kind of thing. These were the copybook headings.
 Kipling had lost his dearly loved son in World War 1, and a precious daughter some years earlier. He was a drained man in 1919, and England, with which he identified intensely, was a drained nation. Though he was no atheist, was in fact a Christian of an eccentric sort, Kipling seems to have found little consolation in religion. From Andrew Lycett's biography:
For spiritual values, Rudyard was still looking for accommodation with Christianity, his instinctive religion. He explained to Haggard [i.e. the novelist Rider Haggard, his friend] in May 1918 that occasionally he felt the love of God but 'that the difficulty was to "hold" the mystic sense of this communion — that it passes.' True to form, Rudyard told his friend that God meant this phenomenon of the soul to be so — 'that He doesn't mean that we should get too near to Him — that a glimpse is all that is allowed.' In recording this in his diary, Haggard noted: 'I think R. added because otherwise we should become unfitted for our work in the world.' Rudyard's reliance on Masonry [i.e. Freemasonry] as a prop, as an 'average plan of life,' was clear when, that very same month, he, who had taken little active part in Masonry since Lahore, joined the Correspondence Circle of the Quatuor [sic] Coronati Lodge No. 2076. 
At the time he wrote the poem, Kipling was embarked on his two-volume history of the Irish Guards — his son's regiment — in WW1. The project took him three years, and was, he remarked, "done with agony and bloody sweat." 
With all this as background, it is hard to disagree with the general opinion that "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" is a clinging to old-fashioned common sense by a man deeply in need of something to cling to.
Here is the poem. It becomes more relevant with each passing generation:

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place;
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four —
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man —
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began: —
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!



Brother Kipling's Masonic record (from the British Columbia & Yukon Grand Lodge website, which contains much information about him and Masonic connections found in his works):

Initiated: April 5, 1886 (by dispensation)
Passed: May 3, 1886
Raised: December 6, 1886
Demitted: March 4, 1889
Hope and Perseverance Lodge No. 782. E.C.
Lahore, India
Joined: July 8, 1909
Sociata Rosicruciana in Anglia
Honorary Member:
Author’s Lodge No. 3456, E.C.
Motherland Lodge No. 3861, E.C.
Founding Member (January, 1922):
The Builders of the Silent Cities Lodge No. 12, St. Omer, France, F.R.

'Batman vs. Superman' Scenes Shot At Detroit Masonic Center


A message came from my friend and Brother Russell Spice in Detroit to check out the article on the Detroit Free Press website about the new film Batman vs. Superman. The film was shot all over Detroit and surrounding areas, including a couple of scenes at the Detroit Masonic Center. 

(Russ says, "I have seen a lot of filming in the Masonic but did not realize it has been 56 movies. I remember one day when we had 3 different movies in the Masonic at the same time, in different stages of shooting on different floors.")

From the article:
The biggest film project ever to come to Michigan used 40 or more locations during five months of shooting here. Not every single one involved a major scene, but so many sites play such an enormous role in the movie that efforts already are underway to capitalize on the tourism potential.
[snip]

Masonic Temple (500 Temple St., Detroit) 
At least 56 movies, TV series, commercials and music videos have turned to the huge complex with more than 1,000 rooms for location work. Among them: the Ryan Gosling-directed "Lost River," AMC's "Low Winter Sun" and the upcoming "Detroiters" series from Comedy Central.
"Batman v Superman" shot several vignettes at Masonic Temple, notably Wonder Woman entering her hotel lobby. That was filmed in the Jack White Theater lobby, named for the Detroit rocker who saved the historic complex from foreclosure.
 The flashiest scene was revealed back in August. As Batman-News.com found out from an unnamed source, the Masonic's large kitchen was revamped temporarily for the rock-em, sock-em action of a mixed martial arts fight club that's frequented by Bruce Wayne.

As an aside, I understand that the Masonic's guide/historian/building manager/sage John Snider is having health problems. If anyone knows his condition, please pass it along to me at hodapp@aol.com 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Charles M. Harper in Atlanta/Gate City Lodge 4/8

Brother Charles M. Harper, Sr. will present
 'Coalesce: Bridging the Divide,' 
April 8th at the Atlanta Masonic Center, 1690 Peachtree Street NW, Atlanta, GA.
The presentation is a public event, and will begin at 7:00 PM
Sponsored by Gate City Lodge No. 2 
The price of admission is only $15.00 and includes Dinner.
To make R.S.V.P.’s for dinner and purchase tickets in advance, visit the Eventbrite site HERE.
For information about this event, send an email to charlesmharpersr@gmail.com.
Charles M. Harper Sr., BLA, MPS, is a well-respected author and speaker in the areas of history, intercultural communications, and cultural anthropology, and has made numerous presentations to stem social prejudice and bridge social divides both nationally, and internationally. He is the author of the book, Freemasonry In Black and White, and is a writer for Living Stones Magazine. He wrote, produced, and starred in ‘Black and White: A Man Divided’ a musical monodrama featuring 5-Time Grammy Award Winner Malik Yusef and other notable recording artists. His production is currently being formatted for an independent film. He has been a repeated guest on the 'Whence You Came' Podcast Show.

Grand Masters of Massachusetts, Illinois React To Tennessee Vote


The following message was issued this morning by MW Harvey J. Waugh, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts AF&AM:

March 25th, 2016

Dear Brethren:
By now, word has traveled far and wide about the actions of the Grand Lodges of Tennessee and Georgia. For those of you who have not heard the news, these jurisdictions have recently decided to exclude men from the rights and privileges of Freemasonry on the basis of sexual orientation.
For over 282 years, men free born, of lawful age, and well recommended have been welcomed and accepted as Freemasons in Massachusetts.
Anyone meeting the following primary requirements may petition a Massachusetts lodge for membership:
  1. An adult male (18 or older) of good character.
  2. Men who believe in a Supreme Being – no atheist or agnostic can become a Mason – beyond that, we are not concerned with theological distinctions or particular religious beliefs.
  3. Men interested in becoming a Mason because they hold a favorable opinion of our institution; whose decision to apply is based on their own free will and accord.
These requirements have not changed. Freemasonry is a fellowship of friends and brothers who meet together for fraternal relations and association.
A fraternity is defined as a group of people associated or formally organized for a common purpose, or the feeling of friendship that exists between people in a group.
Freemasonry has been and always will strive to be the premier fraternity that meets both accepted usages of the term.
Any action that runs contrary to the common purpose of Freemasonry and feeling of friendship that exists in our lodge rooms runs afoul of the basic tenets of Freemasonry: brotherly love, relief, and truth.
It is of no concern to us whether or not a man is gay, as long as he is free born, of lawful age, and well recommended.
As always brethren, take due notice thereof and govern yourselves accordingly.
Fraternally,

Harvey J. Waugh
Grand Master


-------------------------------------

UPDATE: 

3/26/16: The Grand Master of Illinois, MW Anthony R. Cracco, issued a statement in reaction to the GL of Tennessee vote Saturday morning on the official GL Facebook page (click image to enlarge slightly):



"I'm Fed Up With My Grand Lodge!" - UGLE's Internet No. 9659 and Other Options

Several U.S. Masons have asked me online and backchannel if there is any regular, recognized alternative to belonging to the Grand Lodge in their state. As far as I know (and feel free to correct me, anybody who may have different information), in most cases, you cannot join a jurisdiction outside of your home state unless you actually live in another one, and generally for a year. Dual memberships are common, in situations when you move to another state and become a resident there, but still want to retain membership in your Mother Lodge. However, there are jurisdictions that do NOT allow dual memberships in different jurisdictions at all  (and I know it is not allowed by most PHA GLs, who generally don''t even allow dual lodge memberships within their OWN jurisdictions).

However, the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) constituted Internet Lodge No. 9659 in 1998. It is a regular, recognized lodge that is open to any existing member of the UGLE, or any other Grand Lodge that is in amity with the UGLE (see the list here). They hold a physical meeting in an approved English Masonic lodge three times a year, moving around the UGLE's territory with each meeting. The password-protected members only part of the site deals with the minutes and day to day business of the lodge (they do NOT actually meet over the Internet). They have members from all around the world who are real, authentic, regular, recognized Freemasons, and each meeting is followed by a traditional Festive Board for attendees. The catch is that its members must first be initiated, passed and raised in their own lodge before they can petition to join Internet Lodge. And each member must agree to pay all regular UGLE annual fees, along with their lodge membership. 

What I do not know is if you can demit from your Mother lodge, become an unaffiliated Mason, and then still be allowed to join Internet Lodge. I know you must technically be a Mason in your home jurisdiction when you join, but I don't know if you actually are required to maintain a lodge membership in your home jurisdiction. I suggest you contact both Internet Lodge's Assistant Secretary, as well as your own Grand Secretary to make sure the proper rules are followed.

(Since I first posted this, I have received messages from some US brethren who say they no longer belong to any US lodge or grand lodge, and ONLY have membership in Internet Lodge, making them solely a UGLE Mason.)

Similar to Internet Lodge is Ireland Lodge No. 2000, a regular, recognized lodge chartered in 2000 by the Grand Lodge of Ireland AF&AM. Like Internet Lodge, members must be Master Masons in good standing of a jurisdiction in amity with the GL of Ireland, and it's rolls are comprised of an international group. They meet four times a year, at different locations throughout Ireland. The June meeting is always held in Dublin, and is traditionally the one with the most foreign visitors. They also have a secure, online chat room and hold monthly gatherings (except in December) via the web. Degrees are not conferred by the lodge, and Masons wishing to affiliate with them must be initiated, passed, and raised in another lodge.


Finally, the Grand Lodge of Manitoba (Canada) chartered Castle Island Virtual Lodge No. 190 in 2012, and to my knowledge, it is the only truly Internet-based lodge in the world working under a charter from a regular, recognized grand lodge. (It's also the only lodge on Earth where you can be home 10 seconds after the last gavel falls!) The lodge meets online on the 5th Wednesday of those months that HAVE 5 Wednesdays, at 7:00PM Central Time. Visitors are welcome, but must first contact the Lodge Education Officer at Leo.civl.190@gmail.com or the Secretary at craehw@gmail.com to be given access. They must be from a jurisdiction that is in amity with the GL of Manitoba, and send a photograph of their current dues card along with a brief biography to the LEO to be "admitted" to meetings and the secure portion of the website. For the meeting itself, visitors must have a computer equipped with a microphone and camera, and they use Webex technology as a secure online conferencing method (originally, the lodge was designed as part of the "Second Life" virtual 3-D community, but a more secure meeting system was desired).  Ritual used is the Canadian Work (a variation of Britain's Emulation ritual), and visitors are expected to tyle their own computer's location during online meetings. If you are resolved to give up membership in your home lodge and grand lodge, you may first join Castle Island as a dual member, pay dues to the lodge and the Grand Lodge of Manitoba, and then demit from your home jurisdiction. You will have to be investigated and voted on, as with any other regular affiliation. For details on doing that, contact the Secretary. (It can and has been done before, but not often - their current Tyler just did this from his original lodge in Italy.)

NOTE: I have also received a message that claimed the GL of the District of Columbia allows Masons to join their lodges without actually being a resident of the District or the immediate surrounding regions in Maryland and Virginia. But because DC has suspended fraternal relations with both TN and GA, this complicates the issue. Under the current circumstances, I don't know if DC is willing to act as a safe haven for disaffected Masons from those two states. Please contact them directly to clarify this. 

Also, the Grand Lodge of North Carolina and the Grand Lodge of Alabama have no residency requirements, and allow multiple dual-memberships.

UPDATE

A message specifically from a Tennessee Mason this afternoon about that particular grand lodge's process:
You must write to the Secretary of the GL of Tennessee and ask for a Certificate of Good Standing. This is NOT the same as a demit. Do not demit. This certification allows you to remain a member in good standing while you seek membership elsewhere, in another jurisdiction. You will need to get a new Certificate every year until you find a new home. If you are a just and upright man and Mason and want to join a regular lodge of Masons, you are not required to remain a member of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee in order to enjoy the fellowship and fraternity of the oldest organization in the world. Please be calm and do not demit your membership until you find an alternative.