"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."

Saturday, September 15, 2018

MSA Issues Disaster Relief Appeal For North Carolina

Simon LaPlace at the MSA has issued the following message concerning the hurricane in North Carolina:

Most Worshipful Speed Hallman, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina has requested the Masonic Service Association of North America to issue a Disaster Relief Appeal. Hurricane Florence has produced massive flooding across the state. The Grand Lodge is aiding and assisting their Brothers, their families, and their communities in providing aid and assistance.

Further information will be made at www.msana.com/msappeals.asp as available. Please keep up to date at MSA's website as well as MSA's Facebook Page and Facebook Group. This link can also be added to websites to direct donations through MSA.

Particular information and photos can be sent to MSA at msaoffice@msana.com

Donations can be made online at www.msana.com.

Please forward any donations you feel appropriate to help in this stricken jurisdiction to MSA. Please make checks payable to MSA Disaster Relief Fund and send to:

3905 National Drive
STE 280
Burtonsville, MD 20866 

When remitting by check, please clearly mark that you wish the funds to go to the North Carolina Disaster Appeal.

All administrative expenses, bank charges, bookkeeping, and cost of acknowledgment letters is absorbed by MSA in its operating budget. Your entire donation will be sent to the affected jurisdiction. That's the way it's always been, and that's the way it will continue.

MSA is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

Click image to enlarge.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Museum Inaugurates Virtual Reality Walking Tours of Ancient Jerusalem

Nearly twenty years ago when I first became a Mason, the hot topic at the time was how newly emerging computer graphics might soon be used to illustrate our lectures. It would be the next logical step after the old tracing boards, magic lanterns with their glass slides, Kodak Carousel slide projectors, and Power Point presentations. We often chatted about the possibilities of VR Middle Chamber lectures and presentations of Solomon's Temple.

Jump ahead two decades, and the technology has finally caught up with the dream.

Israel's Tower of David in Jerusalem is home to a unique museum that vividly illustrates the long history of that legendary city using modern technology. Opened in 1989, the Tower of David Museum presents the main events of the city’s history in chronological sequence, beginning with the first evidence of the existence of a city in the Second Millennium BC, and ending with modern Jerusalem becoming the capital of the State of Israel. It is located in the medieval guardrooms of Jerusalem’s Ottoman-era citadel and stands at the entrance to the Old City. 

Of special interest to Freemasons is their exhibit of the First Temple Period, beginning in 1006 BC. It depicts the city’s designation as capital by King David, its prosperity under the rule of King Solomon, and its establishment as an administrative and religious center. Central is the construction of the Temple on Mount Moriah that plays such an important part of Masonic ritual and symbolism.

This month the Tower of David Museum will launch a new and unique virtual reality guided tour of the Old City that steps outside of the confines of its building and actually out into the city's streets. While the new VR tour depicts Jerusalem in the later Second Temple period (built by Zerubbabel in 516 BC) of King Herod, it promises to be a game changer in the realm of bringing ancient archeological sites to life for visitors.

From the Times of Israel today, "Virtual reality tour brings ancient Jerusalem to life":
The virtual reality guide, “Step into History,” offers visitors a chance to “walk in the streets of Jerusalem and enjoy the present and take a look back to the past,” said Tower of David Museum director Eilat Lieber.

Working with archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority, Lithodomos VR created 360-degree simulations of how Jerusalem’s citadel, palaces, streets and ancient Jewish Temple are believed to have appeared during its heyday under King Herod in the first century BCE and during the life of Jesus.
Herod, a Roman vassal who ruled Judaea from 37-4 BCE, invested heavily in large construction projects across his realm, including a major expansion of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and the fortress and palace where the Tower of David stands today. His monuments, including the mountaintop fortress at Masada and the port city of Caesarea, are among the most visited sites in Israel.
“Especially with Jerusalem, I think the biggest challenge was getting it right,” said Simon Young, founder of Lithodomos VR, an Australian startup. “There’s a lot of different opinions about how Jerusalem looked in the ancient world… Of course, we want to do justice to Jerusalem and to make it as accurate as possible.”
Lithodomos VR’s team of archaeologists and artists has produced similar projects in London, Rome, Athens and other cities.
The Tower of David Museum also houses an innovation lab in a chamber at the top of a Herodian-era keep that once served as the chambers of Jerusalem’s Ottoman governor. The lab, launched in October 2017, hosts startups such as Lithodomos VR that are developing technologies to enhance visitor experience, with a particular emphasis on virtual and enhanced reality. The site also holds an elaborate light show that projects moving images in intricate detail on the ancient walls of the Old City.
Accompanied by a guide, visitors will be able explore nine vantage points in the city, starting at the citadel — an Ottoman-era fortress built atop remnants of several earlier bastions — then meandering through the Old City’s Jewish Quarter down toward the remains of the Second Jewish Temple. In order to keep from crashing into modern Jerusalem, visitors carry the goggles between sites, then put them on once they are stationary.
At each point, a narrator explains the historical significance of the structures they can see in the goggles: the columned marketplace of the Cardo, the heart of the ancient city; the soaring towers of Herod’s citadel; the opulent pools of his pleasure palace; and the Temple. The VR tour around the Old City takes approximately two hours, the museum said.
The tour is confined to the Old City’s Jewish Quarter. The Old City lies in East Jerusalem — an area captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War and claimed by the Palestinians as their future capital. Israel rejects any division of the Old City — home to Jerusalem’s most sensitive Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites.

GL Florida Restores Amity with Cuba — Again!

Here they go again.

Florida's Grand Master John E. Karroum has announced the reinstatement of fraternal relations between the Grand Lodge of Florida F&AM and the Gran Logia de Cuba... ONE MORE TIME.

If this sounds like a song you've heard before, you're not wrong. On December 10, 2016, the Grand Lodge of Florida restored fraternal relations with Cuba for the first time in 56 years. The Gran Logia de Cuba was formed in 1951 from two previously separated ones, eight years before the Castro revolution, and it has remained in operation and regular in practice for all those years. The U.S. government severed diplomatic relations with the Communist dictatorship of Fidel Castro in 1961, and American grand lodges quickly followed suit. A large number of Florida Freemasons are either from Cuba originally or descended from Cuban immigrants, so the restoration of recognition in late 2016 was warmly welcomed. But despite the long-sought after renewal of amity, all was still not well.

An ongoing controversy stemmed from lodges operated within Florida made up of exiled Cuban Masons who are not affiliated with the Grand Lodge of Florida F&AM. Florida's various grand masters regarded this as an invasion of their territory by Cuba, and the argument has gone on for some time. (Here is a link to a letter regarding the matter from back in 2014.) The Grand Lodge of Florida largely looked the other way at the operation of the exile lodges over the years with an understanding that they would cease once relations between the island nation and the U.S. were normalized and the two Grand Lodges reconciled. That apparently did not happen, at least as quickly as the former GM of Florida wanted it to in early 2017.

So, in February of 2017 Florida's then-Grand Master, MW Stanley Hudson again withdrew recognition from the GL de Cuba for their failure to "renounce the clandestine lodges operating" in Florida's jurisdiction. The recognition had lasted less than three months.  

Meanwhile, an increasing number of U.S. grand lodges have been again recognizing the GL de Cuba ever since the United States government began re-engaging with Cuba in late 2014.

This new letter from GM Karroum, dated August 29, 2018 (see below) explains that he was authorized by Florida's Grand Lodge to restore relations with Cuba, and that he has determined that the GL de Cuba has "completed the steps agreed upon and met the requirements set forth [on December 10, 2016]."

Congratulations to all parties involved in resolving this issue.

Click image to enlarge.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Denver Airport Embraces Its Conspiracy Reputation

It seems that the infamous Denver Airport has at long last decided to give in and accept its longstanding legendary reputation as Conspiracy Central (See The Spooky Denver Airport HERE). 

Face it: if you already have the rep of being home to subterranean political prisoner tunnels, Nazi runways, Illuminati headquarters, Masonic overlords, a UFO base, ancient alien messages in plain sight, and a satanic horse out front, what else can you do?

The notorious airport is currently undergoing some major construction, so they have erected several large signs to alert passengers. But instead of the traditional "pardon our dust" messages that usually adorn such projects, they've gone a little more creative. 

And I'm sure this has nothing to do with the fact that Colorado legalized marijuana not long ago...

"Under Construction? Or underground tunnels?"

"Are we creating the world's greatest airport? Or preparing for the end of the world?"
"Building the Illuminati headquarters? Remodeling the Lizard People's Lair?"

"What's happening behind this wall? Gargoyle breeding grounds? A top secret Freemason meeting?"

Now, if the Grand Lodge of Colorado doesn't hop on this and create their own airport billboard campaign in a similar vein I'll be very disappointed in them.

I figured this was appropriate out of the Mile High City today just as Alice, Wiley and I drive around Denver and turn back eastward for home. (We're currently at 9,600 feet, but who's counting?)

By the way, I see that on AMC's Lodge 49 that the lodge's Supreme Leader lives in an Airstream trailer. 

Tell me that the producers don't read this blog...

(H/T to Nathan Brindle. Photos from Facebook courtesy John Trulli and William Dantzler)

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Lousiana v. Templars: Grand Commander of LA Responds

Since the story about the imbroglio between the Grand Lodge of Louisiana and the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the USA was first reported here, I've been concerned that this site would become some ongoing, tit-for-tat, public battleground for the two sides. Consequently, I delayed posting this message in an effort to let some of the heat cool between the two sides. 

Below is a letter circulated last week by Keith Gates, Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Louisiana that is his response to MEPGM Duane L. Vaught's letter posted on August 25th (see Immediate MEPGM of Grand Encampment Responds To Louisiana Edict). If you have been following this argument elsewhere online, you've undoubtedly read the message below already, such as the Louisiana Grand Commandery's Facebook page. It's been widely circulated. However, I am posting it here so that all of the pertinent documents can be found on this site.

Hopefully, this will be the last go round until the Grand Master of Louisiana and the Grand Encampment patch up their differences and recognition is restored. 

Click images to enlarge.


8/20/2018: GM of Louisiana Withdraws Recognition of Knights Templars

8/25/2018: Immediate MEPGM of Grand Encampment Responds To Louisiana Edict