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


Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Masonic Con and the Power of Great Ideas


After three and a half weeks on the road, the Hodapp traveling circus finally dragged into Indianapolis late Saturday night, and I'm trying to slowly get through nearly a month of mail, emails, bills, irate HOA violation letters, and other assorted detritus and ephemera. Plus, I have that muddy trench to flatten out that I managed to dig through the yard by steering wide in the rain. After 2,500 miles without mishaps, I made the last 15 feet look like it had been attacked by a mad farmer with his Massey-Ferguson disker...

We visited Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, and a minuscule sliver of New Jersey just wide enough for six gas stations. Never again in April — way too many closed campgrounds and Old Testament levels of non-stop rainfall.


The last big Masonic event I was able to attend while in New England in April was Masonic Con 2019 at Ezekiel Bates Lodge in Attleboro, Massachusetts. Once again, close to 500 brethren and non-Masons attended this amazing event that has been a complete grassroots effort by the entire Masonic family at Ezekiel Bates Lodge. The place was packed with vendors, speakers, podcast hosts, food, and most of all, excited Freemasons and their families.

I had anticipated just going as an attendee and book huckster. However, at the last minute, presenter William Kulisansky had to cancel, and I was asked by Brother Bryan Simmons, Masonic Con's chief organizer, to step in and speak.




A link to see videos of the day's presentations can be seen on Facebook HERE. As much as I realize that video recordings of anyone's speeches immediately render them spoiled and force us all to write new ones as soon as they appear online, to have an video record of all of these terrific presentations from the day is a treasure trove of Masonic education:
  • John Michael Greer - Masonry and the Secret Societies 
  • Walter Hunt - Merging Grand Lodges 
  • Shai Afsai - Benjamin Franklin's Virtues, Freemasonry and Judaism: the Sage, the Prince and the Rabbi 
  • Chris Douglas - Tombstone Territorial Lodge No. 5 
  • Ryan Flynn - The Divine Master 
  • Ben Wallace - The Middle Chamber - GL of North Carolina's program to explain the Philosophical Aspects of the FC Degree 
  • Dr. Craig Williams - Metaphysics of Kshatriya and the Spiritual Warrior of Contemporary Times 
  • Christopher L. Hodapp - How Dare We Be Masons? 
  • Nicholas Harvey and David Riley - A Better Masonic Education 




I deeply appreciated the opportunity to play my own tiny part in the day’s events. But far more important, I count myself extremely lucky to see firsthand just what true Masonic leadership, brotherhood, and love for both the fraternity and each other was able to accomplish over the last few years. 

Year one of Masonic Con demonstrated that it was an idea whose time had come. Then, over the next three years, they proved it wasn’t just once, but was reproducible year after year. For all that and more, Bryan and the brethren and family members of Ezekiel Bates Lodge have my eternal admiration.


I even got to finally meet up with famed artist, Brother Travis Simpkins
and his equally talented wife Janet.
When I first concocted attending Masonic Con about six weeks ago in conjunction with a pair of other speaking requests, I had it in my mind to pick their brains to determine what magical formula they had stumbled upon to make this event such an ongoing success. I see now what a foolish waste of time that would have been. It is clear that the biggest bit of magic was the passion that Bryan Simmons in particular brought to the concept to begin with, and the infectious nature of that passion he inspired in his fellow members at the lodge. 

Like most of us, they knew that other groups had their own conventions that were actually just plain fun to attend, that their wife or partner hadn't been bored at, and that they had left feeling those non-Masonic events feeling just plain better than when they arrived. They saw a need that wasn't being fulfilled in their part of the Masonic world - a FREE event with education and enjoyable presentations, a suitable location, piles of Masonic merchandise, family involvement, appendant groups all pulling on the same oars, food all day and night, and plenty of opportunities for Masons to just simply chat and meet and remind ourselves what this is all supposed to be about. There’s no plan or roadmap to achieve that. But one Brother, or one small group of Brothers, who have a vision and determination and won't take no for an answer, can change their lodge, change a state, change the fraternity. 

And more, sometimes.

It starts with one. Maybe you.


Already there are, or have been, Masonic Con copycats (or more correctly homages) sprouting up across the U.S. - last year in New Mexico; Texas MasoniCon in Ft. Worth, Texas in July; in Ventura, California in August; Esotericon in Virginia in June; and more are undoubtedly coming. That's a damn good development. If their brand of excitement and shared Masonic community spreads to other jurisdictions and invigorates more legions of Masons, that's a pretty gratifying legacy.


At the Festive Board attended by over a hundred Saturday night, it was announced that the 2020 Masonic Con would be the fifth and final one, in conjunction with celebrating the 150th anniversary of Ezekiel Bates Lodge next year. Their question is what to do next - shut it down, or transform it into something different. And sometimes, even boundlessly enthusiastic brethren want to sit on the sidelines and see what others can do. Maybe that's what's happening here.

The stars of some of your favorite Masonic podcasts gathered under one roof!

Meanwhile, have a look at Brother Robert Johnson's blog entry on the Midnight Freemasons website for a recap of the weekend and his own personal thoughts about this event: A Masonic Revolution - Education and the Front Lines of a War to Save Freemasonry

2 comments:

  1. Chris, did you get to chat with Ben Wallace?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great event. I look forward to reading "Solomon's Builders".

    ReplyDelete

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