by Christopher Hodapp
It began in a bar, as only the finest, dazzlingly harebrained schemes should, over watery glasses of well-brand scotch. It was predictably frigid in Washington, D.C. that February on the Saturday night of Masonic Week, too cold to sit outside and smoke pipes and cigars while weaving plans within plans with fellow plotters and organizers of secret cabals.
This coming issue of the Journal of The Masonic Society will be #50 and will feature papers from a few of the Brethren who founded The Masonic Society. These papers will recount the early days and actions taken by a handful of Masons with the goal of doing something different, something better, and something very needed in U.S. Freemasonry. It is a success story of doing what so many said could not be done — and setting a new standard for all Masonic publications and societies.
TMS President Jay Höckberg, Past President Roger S. VanGorden, Secretary/Treasurer Nathan Brindle, Journal Editor Michael Poll, Art Director John Bridegroom, and myself will share thoughts, opinions, plans, and actions that ended up being the revolution in how to create a - The - Masonic Society.
With that mission in mind, our little group stayed up through the wee hours of the morning engaging in the sort of “We can put on a Big Show in the barn and you can make the costumes!” conversation usually reserved for business startups and Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland movies. Fifty issues and 2,400 jam-packed pages later, the Masonic Society has indeed put on quite the Big Show in that little barn, and it came out pretty darned good, I must say. As the founding editor of the Journal, I can say with great satisfaction that it accomplished what we all had hoped it would do from the start — a rising tide raises all boats. Numerous Masonic magazines and journals across the country have stepped up their game to improve their looks, quality and content, and increase their value to their readers after we set the bar higher. That’s been good for all of us.
To this day, the Masonic Society still publishes the most valuable, useful and beautiful Masonic magazine of original research, artwork, photography and essays anywhere.After I was compelled to bow out as Editor in our fifth year to deal with health issues, I was ably succeeded at the editor's desk by my friend Michael Halleran, and my fellow Indiana Mason John Bridegroom shouldered the huge job of Art Director. When Michael also withdrew after a few years, Mike Poll brought his many years of editorial experience as a Masonic book publisher to the Journal, and all of us have been the beneficiaries of John and Mike’s unbeatable combination of talents ever since. This milestone issue provides a good excuse to look back and survey the fruits of twelve years of labor and devotion.
Over the years TMS conferences and symposia have been outstanding experiences (see this report from the 2017 conference in Lexington, Kentucky). And we continue to hold our annual meeting with a speaker at Masonic Week each year, true to our origins.
Not a member of The Masonic Society, or has your membership lapsed? Annual dues are a paltry $45 and include four quarterly issues of the Journal, a dazzlingly splendiferous certificate of membership, dues card and pin. Institutions, non-Masons and non-qualifying members of unrecognized Masonic organizations may also subscribe to the Journal at the same rate. For membership requirements and applications, CLICK HERE.
*One caveat about these full issues of the Journal being available electronically at this time - you cannot download or print from them, they are read-only. TMS has a reprint policy, and physical copies of almost every issue from the last twelve years can be purchased from the website. That policy is for the protection of our authors to prevent wholesale piracy of their hard work, which is, sadly, a very real concern in this electronic age.