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

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Andrew Hammer Speaking Tuesday in Indianapolis 10/23

Come join Lodge Vitruvian 767 for fellowship and scholarly discussion on the evening of Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018 AD, 6018 AL.

Following our stated meeting, we will repair to the Aristocrat's Oxford Room or our Festive Board. Our keynote speaker for the evening will be WB Andrew Hammer, Past Master [2010] of Virginia's Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22, A.F.& A.M, and renowned author of Observing the Craft.

7:00 – 8:00 PM Stated Meeting

Lodge Vitruvian No. 767 F&AM
Broad Ripple Masonic Temple
1716 Broad Ripple Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46220-2338

We are determined to complete our business in one hour, but please note that our annual election of officers will take place at this meeting. That has historically caused a delay.

8:30 -10:30 PM Festive Board

The Aristocrat - Oxford Room (upstairs)
5212 North College Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46220

Each attendee will be responsible for the cost of his and their guest’s meal.

Chartered in 2002 by the Grand Lodge F&AM of Indiana, Lodge Vitruvian is Indiana's first 'European Concept' Masonic lodge. 
In the style of European Lodges, members are expected to dress in tuxedo for all Communications of the Lodge. Members also purchase their own regalia, (apron, collar, gloves, case), according to Lodge Vitruvian specifications.

Visitors dress should be tuxedo or business attire.

Visitors wishing to attend, please contact the Lodge Secretary, WM Adam Bauer HERE.


On a small jetty at the eastern edge of the Old Port of Pythagorio on the Greek island of Samos there stands a unique statue with its back to the Aegean Sea. The sculpture was created in 1988 by Nikos Icarus (Νίκος Ίκαρης, 1920-1994) from the neighbouring island of Ikaria. It is a monument to the ancient Ionian mathematician and philosopher, Pythagoras, who is believed to have been born on the island in around 570 BC. 

The triangular form of the sculpture is a graphic representation of the Pythagorean Theorem, and the base and hypotenuse are covered with symbols alluding to scientific and
philosophical theories attibuted to Pythagoras. It is to this remarkable man that the Western world owes the concepts of immortality via the transmigration of souls; the identification of the planet Venus as both the morning and evening star; the first mathematical proofs of the Earth's spherical shape; mathematical descriptions of planetary movements as the "music of the spheres"; and of course, the Pythagorean Theorem, which commonly appears in many Masonic jurisdictions' degree lectures, paired with Euclid's later proof of it (the 47th Proposition of Euclid). 

Such is the importance of the symbol that it is widely incorporated in many states and countries as the jewel for a Past Master of a lodge.

The symbol, along with its somewhat tortured, incomplete, and certainly muddled historical reference to Pythagoras, Euclid, Eureka!, and the sacrificing of a hecatomb upon its discovery, were likely first introduced into Masonic ritual by way of Thomas Smith Webb's Freemason's Monitor or Illustrations of Masonry in 1815.

From Thomas D. Worrel's paper, "Our Ancient Friend and Brother, Pythagoras,":
The Pythagorean theorem states that for any right triangle the sum of the squares of its two legs equals the square of its hypotenuse (a2 + b2 = c2). Or we could frame it as the sum of the square of the horizontal and the square of the perpendicular equals the square of the hypotenuse. We know this formulation was known before Pythagoras - there is evidence in ancient Egyptian work, ancient China (the Chou Pei manuscript), and the megalith builders. Regardless, it is attributed to Pythagoras and two hundred years later Euclid compiled his "Elements of Mathematics" where this particular proposition is found in Book One.
(47th) In every right angle triangle the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides.
(48th) If the square described on one of the sides of a triangle is equal to the square described on the other sides, then the angle contained by these two sides is a right angle.
This theorem has been called the root of all geometry and the cornerstone of mathematics. The practical applications alone are worthy of the high esteem that Masonry affords it. And this is the interpretation of the lecture that is most considered when masons speak of it But the meaning of this hieroglyphical emblem does not stop there.
The emblem we are usually presented is the 3,4,5 right triangle in this fashion: The vertical line is of 3 units, the horizontal is of 4 units, and the hypotenuse is of 5 units. Not only is our attention called to this geometrical figure in the Master Mason degree, it is also prominent in the Scottish Rite in the 20th Degree - Master of the Symbolic Lodge and in the 25th Degree - Knight of the Brazen Serpent. Rex Hutchens, commenting upon the 20th Degree in his book on the Scottish Rite explains that:
"Nine is a perfect number, being the triple of three. There are nine candles in three groups of three each on the East, West, and South of the Altar. They form a graphic representation of the 47th Problem It makes no difference in the equation if the other two angles are 45 degrees each or 30 degrees and 60 degrees or 5 degrees and 85 degrees. Because of the mystic meaning associated with numbers by the ancients, they considered the most beautiful triangle of all, the right angled triangle with sides of 3,4 and 5 units of measure." (Rex Hutchens, The Bridge to light, p.171)
In the 25th Degree commentary Hutchens describes the setting of this degree:
"The ceremony takes place in four apartments. They are all remarkable in their simplicity. The first is called the House of the Earth. ...The second apartment is called the House of the Planets. The third apartment is ... styled the House of the Sun and Moon.... The principal chamber is called the House of the Light. Nine lights (candles) are arranged on the altar in groups of three, forming a representation of the Pythagorean Theorem,..." (The Bridge to Light, p.215)
The evidence that the particular triangle alluded to in the Monitor is the 3,4,5 right triangle can be derived from the odd comments about Pythagoras' exclamation "Eureka" in the Grecian language. Here is where we can begin to apply the investigative tools of what is called gematria. As you know the ancient letters were also numbers. The correlation of numbers with letters gave ample opportunity to nest hidden meaning within words, phrases, and names. For example, if we take the word "Eureka" in Greek and consider the letters as numbers instead of letters, add them up to get a total value we get 534 - the units of this special triangle.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Goose & Gridiron Lodge 1717 Established in Ohio

The Grand Lodge of Ohio held its annual communication this past week. A new special purpose lodge was just chartered there with a very unique mission and method among American lodges: Goose and Gridiron Lodge No. 1717.

From their website:

The Lodge is named after the Goose and Gridiron tavern in London where the United Grand Lodge of England was organized in 1717.
While the lodge will be a legally constituted Lodge of Master Masons working under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, it will proudly claim its heritage as a English Emulation Lodge with a special mission: to practice and share the customs and rituals that imbue the fraternal experience in England and the Commonwealth. With Goose and Gridiron Lodge No. 1717 Ohio Masons may experience English Emulation Ritual and custom without leaving the state.
In addition to its study of Emulation Ritual, the lodge seeks to capture and practice many of the foundational elements of English Lodges, such as festive boards, philosophical education, dress, programs and charities. By doing so, the Lodge will provide an environment that is distinguished and warm, social and philosophical, exclusive and inviting.
Goose and Gridiron Lodge No. 1717 will meet four times a year in dedicated lodge rooms within the state of Ohio unless authorized by special dispensation of the Grand Master.
To become a member of Goose and Gridiron Lodge No. 1717 a Brother must be a Master Mason, join as either a plural or dual member and must remain in good standing with his primary Lodge.

I understand that several Ohio Masons who are also members of UGLE's Internet Lodge 9659 helped to get this lodge started, with some especially passionate remarks on the floor from RW Caid McKinley, PDDGM. They were also encouraged by Grand Lodge officers who attended UGLE's 300th anniversary celebration in London last year.

By the way, congratulations are in order to MW Jess N. Raines, the new Grand Master of Ohio for 2018-19 (photo). And to outgoing Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Rick Schau for his outstanding year.

UPDATE 10/16/2018

After I posted this message on Sunday I was reminded that the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia has its own similar type of lodge. Chartered in 2001, Fiat Lux lodge No. 1717 works Emulation Ritual, uses English regalia, and follows English custom, even though it is an American lodge chartered by D.C. They meet up north at the Takoma Masonic Temple. 

Then today, I received the following announcement from Brother Mike Jennings in Alberta:
I am pleased to tell you that a group of mostly past masters in the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Alberta AF&AM have just received dispensation to charter a travelling Craft Lodge of Past Masters focused on promoting masonic fellowship in a table lodge environment at suitable taverns, public houses and inns, also called the Goose & Gridiron #203. We have taken our inspiration from the lodges who met in and around 1717 at such places. We will be travelling around Alberta promoting the table lodge setting and we hope to be a suitable place for sitting masters to seek help from a group of past masters in matters pertaining to fellowship within their own lodge.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Once Upon A Time

G. K. Chesterton once said that "the world would never starve for wonders, but only for the want of wonder."

Once upon a time, there was this great and admired fraternity called the Freemasons. The Masons did incredible things, attracted the best and the brightest, proudly made a difference in society, and were the very pillars of their communities. 

Everybody knew it.

They also built magnificent Temples that stood the test of time which were the most splendid clubhouses anywhere. 

Take the Masonic Temple in the photo above. It was built at the height of the fraternal building boom in 1927, and there were hundreds of them all over the country that looked just as sturdy and impressive. In those heady days, the Freemasons had to compete with the Woodmen, the Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, the Knights of Columbus, and scores of others for the hearts and minds of fraternal-minded Americans. So they constructed these landmark Temples to rise above, to stand out from all others, and to make sure there was no one in their community who wasn't aware of just who and what the Freemasons were and where they were located, right in the heart of their town. It was built to impress, to inspire both non-Masons and Masons alike, and to make a statement that the Freemasons were the best of the best. It told the whole world that great things went on inside, and that great men believed in Masonry and being a Mason. It didn't look like any other sort of building. It was designed to make passersby stop and look. It was awe inspiring. It was stable. It was immovable. It wan't temporary. And it sure wasn't cheap.

Well, it's not 1927 anymore. There's no competition anymore. The Masons in this particular town have sold their Temple building recently to a Buddhist Temple. All of the usual reasons were cited: dwindling membership, rising maintenance costs, too much space to heat and cool. So the Masons got $425,000 for it, and I'm sure they felt like they were lucky not to have to pay anyone to take their white elephant off their hands. "Phew! That was lucky!" I'm sure someone said, as they cashed the check and fled.

Today when all of those imaginary "young men" who are supposed to "save the fraternity" come driving through their town looking for the lodge to join, where can the Masons be found now? Where have they moved to now? Where are the Freemasons of this town who used to be so prominent in their community? Are they in a proud new Temple that impresses, that equally proclaims their pride, their noble stature, their legendary heritage and the promise of an equally legendary future, just in a slightly smaller but equally magnificent edifice?

Not a chance.

They're right here. Inside of a generic office building that looks like a medical office. 

Or a real estate firm. 

Or an accountant. 

Or insurance company.

Or anything besides a Masonic Temple.

When the local paper interviewed one of the the Masons for a story on the sale of their old Temple, the most enthusiastic thing that he could find to say about their new location was that it has "better parking." 

But hey, I'll bet the elevator works flawlessly and the roof doesn't leak. What more can anyone want? Perhaps someone will even put their lodge names on the office directory in the lobby.

John Ruskin once famously wrote, “There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey.”

For a fraternal group that so mythologizes its origins among the most storied and legendary builders and architects of the Biblical and Medieval worlds, how can we as Masons now accept the most banal mediocrities as being suitable for our Temples, which are supposed to be our sanctuaries from the chaotic and mundane world around us?

The most grotesquely misunderstood and abused phrase in all of Freemasonry is "it is the internal, not the external qualities of a man which Masonry regards." That phrase has been used as an excuse to accept, condone and perpetuate mediocrity. It's used to excuse sloppy dress and personal appearance, to excuse bad public behavior, to excuse generic pole barn Temples, to excuse poor ritual performance, and worst of all, to justify the failure to provide a quality lodge experience to our own members. We don't have a new member problem, we have a retention problem. New members flee today almost as quickly as we make them Masons because they are disappointed by our lodges and the experience we gave them. And we have no business bringing another new man into this fraternity until our existing members love it, cherish it, believe in it, practice it, and make it the very best it can be. Those sort of Masons don't leave.

The good news is that the Buddhist Temple folks DO believe in the value of their former home of the Freemasons. They recognize it's still an important landmark in their town, and they are treating it accordingly. They are repairing it, cleaning it, heating and cooling it, and are happy and proud to be its new owners. So at least it won't be razed and scraped from the face of the Earth as so many others have been. And will continue to be, as temple after temple shambles down this same, dreary, future path. 

It's hard to find the resources and strength and resolve to keep these irreplaceable places, to think creatively, and to involve the community, so we all don't lose them forever. Because one thing is certain: we Freemasons sure won't replace them with anything better these days. 

Not by a long shot.

Tomorrow, people will drive past this still impressive and beautiful Temple with its new owners. Someone will undoubtedly ask "What was that place, anyway?" 

And someone else will undoubtedly answer, "Once upon a time, there was this great and admired fraternity called the Freemasons...." 

Frontier Masonic Advertising

The annual Feast of the Hunter’s Moon event in West Lafayette, Indiana is one of the largest 18th century festivals in the country. It recreates the period between 1717-1791 around the French Fort Ouiatenon and its trading post along the banks of the Wabash River.  The first European settlement in Indiana, Fort Ouiatenon was the crossroads for numerous peoples and cultures that built our state and the nation.  

Thousands of skilled interpreters, Native Americans, plus French, English and other colonial and military reenactors, musicians, and artisans all converge here each year to share the music, food, cultures, and crafts of the past.  For fifty-one years, tens of thousands people come from across the country and around the world to take part. 

As a regular part of this event, Dayton Lodge 103 and their volunteers annually offer authentic rabbit stew to the crowd at its tent site adjacent to the Fort’s blockhouse.  

Their cook fire area features an enormous, frontier-appropriate square and compass made from tree branches that proudly proclaims their Masonic heritage to the thousands of visitors. 

This year’s Feast was October 6th and 7th.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Freemasons For Dummies: Customized Editions from Wiley Publishing

For the last dozen years, Freemasons For Dummies has remained the world's best-selling introductory guidebook to the Masonic fraternity. Wiley Publishing has a unique program that may be of interest to your Grand Lodge. They are able to print a special edition of Freemasons For Dummies with your Grand Lodge information in it, featuring a customized cover, along with custom information on the inside covers. This makes the perfect welcome gift for new members.

In fact, in 2011 the Grand Lodge of New Mexico and their Lodge of Research created their own customized edition of the book that was given to all of their Entered Apprentices.

What this means is that your Grand Lodge or research lodge can have its own special edition of the book for your members, provided you are able to order in sufficient quantities. Your official seal or other artwork specific to your Grand Lodge could be featured on the outside, and a message from the Grand Master, Grand Lodge Education Committee, Lodge of Research, or other official group could be printed on the inside covers. The book is also a  popular one for non-Masons, and your members could be encouraged to pass it to friends or family who might have an interest in the fraternity—the cover could include the Grand Lodge contact information, internet address, phone numbers, etc. Of course, it's also popular as a gift given by many lodges to new Masons. The inside cover might include a custom plate in which to inscribe the members’ name and lodge, and degree dates. 

Both Wiley and I are willing to work with you on design, artwork and content. There is one caveat: No changes can be made to the text of the book itself, so if there is something in the book's current text that is NOT correct or applicable for your jurisdiction, that part can’t be changed. Only the inside and outside covers can be altered.

The retail price of Freemasons For Dummies is $19.99, but you can save between 45%-50% off the cover price, depending on the quantity being printed. The minimum order for a custom version is 1,000 books ($11 per copy or 45% off), with an additional price break at 2,000 copies ($10 per copy, 50% off).

If you have any interest in this program, please do not hesitate to contact me directly, or Molly Daugherty, director of Custom Solutions and Brand Licensing for Wiley Publishing in Indianapolis at 317-572-3465, or at Mdaugher@wiley.com

Just as an aside, it's not widely known that the headquarters of the For Dummies series is located here in my home town of Indianapolis on the north side, not far from my home. AND the headquarters for the competing "orange book," the Complete Idiot's Guides, is ALSO right here in Indianapolis. Which means that we are ground zero for Dummies and Idiots...