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


Saturday, May 18, 2024

Shots Fired At Mississippi Masonic Hall

by Christopher Hodapp

WLBT-TV3 in Jackson, Mississippi reports that shots were fired at the Prince Hall Masonic Temple on John R. Lynch Street at 9:00PM last Sunday night (Mother's Day). No motive known, so no way to know if it was a deliberate attack or random vandalism.

From the story:
A person is wanted after firing multiple shots at the Masonic Temple in Jackson. According to police, the incident happened on May 12 at approximately 9:00 p.m.

Upon arrival, officers found the front glass window of the building had been shot out.

Surveillance video was recovered by JPD detectives and was found to have captured the shooting.

In the surveillance footage, a light-colored full-sized SUV, possibly a GMC Tahoe, drove by the building as the occupant(s) fired multiple shots into it.

Detectives recovered several shell casings at the scene from a small caliber semiautomatic handgun.
More from WAPT-TV16
The Masonic Temple was designated a landmark in April 2006 by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. The location was also the site of the funeral of Medgar Evers in 1963 and served as a meeting please for various civil rights groups including the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 601-355-TIPS, or contact the Jackson Police Department at 601-960-1234

Friday, May 17, 2024

Interview: The Mystic Tye Podcast

by Christopher Hodapp

In the runup to next week's Grand Masonic Day in Vancouver, I was interviewed by Brother Troy Spreeuw for Season 1 Episode 5 of The Mystic Tye podcast. We cover a lot: how crass commercial promotion made me go legit; civility and Freemasonry; public education; attacks on the fraternity; why a failing lodge can be your best experience; bad jokes about marriage; why the whole world desperately needs obsessive webmasters like the Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon's Trevor McKeown – the usual roadmap of my deranged, aged, wandering mind.

BREAKING: Conference of Grand Masters PHA Declares MWPHGL of Louisiana Irregular

by Christopher Hodapp

I received a message late Thursday that the Conference of Grand Masters of Prince Hall (PHA) Masons, convening in Charlotte, North Carolina this week, just voted to declare the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Louisiana (PHA) irregular. 

This is a mess that's been unfolding for quite some time, most of which revolves around actions of MWPHGL of Louisiana’s Grand Master Ralph Slaughter. Last year’s Conference took place in New Orleans and Slaughter was expelled from attending their gathering. Now the Conference members have removed Louisiana completely.

The declaration of irregularity was made by the PHA Conference’s  Committee on Fraternal Relations. Similar to the role played by the COGMMNA’s own Commission on Foreign Fraternal Relations, they do not, and CAN not, actually take any action to enforce their findings. They determine if grand lodges are regular in their origin and actions; they report their findings; and it’s up to the individual grand lodges of the Conference to withdraw recognition or remain in amity with Louisiana.

As soon as I can track down more details, I'll post an update to the story.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Speaking at Vancouver All-Masonic Day May 25th

by Christopher Hodapp

I'll be winging my way Vancouver-ward in Canada and visiting the Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon from May 24th through May 27th. I've been graciously invited by the Vancouver Lodge of Education & Research to speak at their Grand Masonic Day event on Saturday, May 25th. 

Freemasons Hall is located at 508 Agnes Street in New Westminster.

A dozen or so years ago I was actually named as the 'Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of BC&Y near Indiana,' yet I've never been able to visit out there before. So I appreciate the opportunity to spend a couple of days there.

Besides myself, RE Brother Wes Regan will give a report on the increase of vandalism, arson, and other attacks against Masons and related buildings. Wes' presentation is especially timely, since Vancouver lost three major Masonic halls to a single arsonist last year. There will also be an address by Junior Grand Warden Ron Cawthra; a panel discussion contrasting various grand lodges and their different gender policies, moderated by MW Philip Durell; a open Q&A session with myself and RW Regan; and remarks from Grand Master Arthur Smith. 

I understand that, in addition to local Canadian Masons, several American Brothers will be traveling up from Washington (state). Brother Wesley Regan tells me tickets are already 3/4 sold out, so if you plan on attending, act now! 

To order tickets, visit https://gmd2024.eventbrite.ca/. Tickets are CAD$37. The event begins at 3:00PM PST.

Here is the schedule:

Sunday, May 12, 2024

2024 World Conference on Fraternalism in Paris June 13-15

by Christopher Hodapp

The 2024 World Congress on Fraternalism, Freemasonry, and History will be held June 13-15 in Paris at the rue de Cadet headquarters of the Grand Orient de France between June 13th and 15th. 

Convened by the journal, Ritual, Secrecy, and Civil Society, in cooperation with the Policy Studies Organization, France's Museum of Freemasonry and the GODF, this event explores how associations and volunteerism have shaped democracy, politics, and history.

The conference alternates each year between Paris and Washington, D.C.

This international event attracts the top scholars around the world in the field of not just Freemasonry, but of fraternalism of all kinds. It is a part of the Policy Studies Organization's support of research into associations, civility, and the role of non governmental organizations in democracy. 

These ongoing international conferences have been spearheaded and supported by Brother Paul Rich for more than a decade now, and he has been a champion of promoting and pursuing Masonic scholarship on a worldwide basis. A shocking number of U.S. Masons are unaware of his role in this pursuit, as well as his own scholarship, and that is a downright shame. On top of his many accomplishments and honors in the academic world, he is the publisher of numerous books about Freemasonry (among others) through Westphalia Press

In conjunction with Paul Rich, Brother Pierre Mollier in France is one of the top Masonic historians in the world. Among his many accomplishments, he is the director of France's incredible Museum of Freemasonry in Paris (Musée dé Franc-Maçonnerie). If you don't know his name or reputation, you need to.
Presenters will include:
Guillaume Trichard, Grand Master of the Grand Orient de France; Pierre Mollier, Curator of Paris' Museum of Freemasonry; Paul Rich, Harvard and George Mason University Professor; Arturo de Hoyos, Scottish Rite Research Society; Josef Wäges; S. Brent Morris, Editor Emeritus of the Scottish Rite Journal; UCLA's Margaret Jacob; John Belton; Andrew Prescott from the University of Glasgow; Cécile Révauger, University Professor Emeritus, Bordeaux University; Pierre Yves Beaurepaire, Nice University Professor; Peter Lanchidi, Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest; Simon Deschamps, Lecturer, University of Toulouse le Mirail; Charles Coutel, Professor Emeritus at the University of Artois; Éric Saunier, Lecturer at the University of Le Havre; Mireille Quivy, Honorary Lecturer, University of Rouen; and Christophe Devillers, Editor-in-chief of Humanisme magazine; and Joachim Grave dos Santos, Archivist of the Grand Orient Lusitanien.

Also presenting will be:
Roger Dachez; Jean-Michel Mathonière; Maurice Weber; Laurent Segalini; Jan Snoek; Gaëtan Mentor; Marcel Clodion; André Combes; Gérard Contremoulin; Colette Léger; Jean-Luc Le Bras; Dominique Jardin; Guillermo De Los Reyes; Laure Caille; Philippe Wiedenhoff; Michel Chomarat; Yves Grange; Antonio Morales; Joaquim Grave Dos Santos; and Wallace Boston.
(See the complete program HERE.)

Because presentations may be made in English or French, simultaneous translations from French-English, English-French are offered for most sessions. The Conference is free of charge, but you need to register on EventBrite if you will be attending – CLICK HERE.

Following each conference, the presented papers are collected and published in the journal, Ritual, Secrecy, and Civil Society. Journals from previous conferences may also be read online or downloaded.

The conferences are held alternatively in Paris (2022, 2024) and in Washington D.C. (2023, 2025). The Washington conferences are held at the historic Quaker Meeting House.

Thursday, May 09, 2024

UPDATE: Accused Shooter of Texas Mason Deemed Competent For Trial

Photo: KRGV-TV5

by Christopher Hodapp

(NOTE: This story has been updated.)

A quick update on the trial of 36-year-old Julio Diaz of Alamo, Texas, the accused murderer of Past Master Robert Wise outside of a Masonic lodge in McAllen, Texas in July 2023. (McAllen is a small town right on the Mexican border in the southernmost tip of Texas, just west of South Padre Island.) 

Last November, Diaz' attorney Lennard Whittaker Molina asked the judge for a psychological investigator, saying more time was needed to go through his client's medical records because he wasn't sure if Diaz was mentally competent. According to KRGV-TV5, the attorney claimed his client had an untreated cyst in his brain, discovered in medical documents obtained from Mexico. The judge subsequently appointed a neurologist to evaluate Diaz, and those experts found he is capable of going to trial, according to a court filing that was signed on Friday, May 3. At a hearing next week, it is expected that a trial date will now be named.

As reported here last July, WB Robert was leaving McAllen Lodge 1110 following their officers' installation when he was confronted in the lodge parking lot and shot. Security video showed a man resembling Diaz pull into the parking lot in a Chevy SUV, approach Wise, and open fire. Holding the gun in one hand and a phone in the other, Diaz recorded the incident and posted it on his social media account.

Upon hearing the shots outside, members came running out of the hall and spotted Diaz leaving the scene.  Police were immediately called, and Robert was found in the parking lot next to his truck, with multiple gunshots wounds. He was rushed to a local hospital where he later died.

WB Wise is survived by his wife, five children, and eleven grandchildren. 

According to one source who spoke with me after his arrest last summer, Diaz told investigators that he believed Masons are "devil worshiping Illuminatists." A Facebook commenter said Diaz had previously posted anti-Masonic comments on social media, claiming the lodge "had put a curse on him."

Brother Robert Wise, 55, killed last July following officer's installation
(Photos: McAllen Lodge 1110 Facebook page)

The lodge was previously vandalized in March of 2022, when an unknown person tagged the location with graffiti reading, “Sorcery against the Holy spirit and the human race must all be stoned to death.” It's not known if Diaz was responsible for that incident, but he also faces a separate arson charge from an incident in September 2022, when he had attempted to set the McAllen Masonic hall on fire. Surveillance footage recorded him at that time breaking in by smashing the glass front door, pouring gasoline on the floor, and lighting a piece of cardboard on fire. Diaz admitted setting that fire to investigators after his arrest in connection with Wise’s death. Investigators obtained and examined Diaz’s camera and found evidence that also linked him to a February 2023 fire at Llano Grande Masonic Lodge, located about 20 miles west of McAllen in Weslaco, Texas.

It bears repeating that all Masons need to be extremely cautious regarding security in and around our buildings. That means monitored surveillance cameras located at all entrances and in the parking lot, locked outer doors during events, and vigilant Tylers who remain outside of the lodge room for the whole duration of the meeting.

Online anti-Masonic conspiracism and open hostility has grown at an alarming rate ever since COVID summer, but police departments and individual officers can't be automatically expected to realize that anti-Masonic hatred is a very real syndrome lurking out in the general population. Law enforcement officials need to be informed by us whenever there are any threats or acts of vandalism and violence directed at Masons. Even cases of minor property damage to our buildings like anti-Masonic or gang-related graffiti should be reported to police, if only to build up a database of these kinds of incidents and identify repeat attackers. 

In another sad development, Brother Wise's family filed a lawsuit against McAllen Lodge last November, alleging negligence in the case. The lawsuit alleges that the local lodge should have known ahead of time about growing anti-Masonic sentiment across the country. . .  and done something else to prevent the attack.

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

Antiques Road Show Features Navajo Masonic Carpet

by Christopher Hodapp

The long-running Antiques Road Show on PBS visited Akron, Ohio for this week's program, and a local Mason showed up with a unique 1930s Navajo rug woven with Masonic symbols. 

As he explains, his grandfather was Freemason in the 30's, as well as a construction worker. While previously visiting a lodge near Gallup, New Mexico, he spotted one of these hand-woven rugs filled with Masonic symbolism, and the local brethren told him the nearby tribe had made it. Subsequently, he installed flooring for several buildings on the nearby reservation in return for them making this rug. Over time, it was passed to his lodge, then came back to the family.

Monday, May 06, 2024

Act Fast! Beat Another Price Increase on Freemasons For Dummies!

by Christopher Hodapp

Heads up, bargain hunters! He who hesitates is poor.

About three weeks ago, I popped open a new case of Freemasons For Dummies 3rd edition paperbacks and discovered to my great shock that Wiley Publishing has suddenly raised the cover price again, from $24.99 to $27.99. That's an $8 increase in just two years.

No, I'm not a bit happy about it. 

But if you want to get in on a last-minute price break for just a single copy or two, Amazon is currently still selling Freemasons For Dummies 3rd edition for just $19.99 apiece, and still lists the book's full cover retail price at the old rate of $24.99. And if you're an Amazon Prime member, you get free shipping, too. 

(Unfortunately, Barnes & Noble's online store has already figured out the price increase, so you'll pay full boat through them.)

I know that lodges and grand lodges often order a large number of the books as gifts for new members. Ordering directly through Wiley Publishing will give you a substantial discount if you buy certain quantities – call their customer service line at (800) 225-5945‬ and ask about bulk order pricing. (They'll ask you for the ISBN Number: 978-1-119-84342-9Just beware of ever-increasing shipping prices.

Please understand that I had nothing to do with the increases, wasn't even informed about it, and I certainly don't receive a bigger royalty check from it. I don't know how long the old price will hang around on Amazon before they discover Wiley's new higher price, but take advantage of it while the gettin's good.

MAGI: Robert Cooper and Mark Tabbert Launch Masonic Book Review Podcast

by Christopher Hodapp

Masonic authors and historians Mark Tabbert and Scotland's Robert Cooper have recently embarked on a new joint podcast, a unique book review program called MAGI Reviews: The Masonic Authors' Guild International.  Mark and Robert started their podcast a couple of months ago, and they've done 16 episodes so far. 

Mark Tabbert

Both of these knowledgeable Brothers have held unique positions over the last couple of decades, and as Masonic authors and researchers, neither of them could be considered to be a slouch. Mark Tabbert is a past president of the Masonic Library & Museum Association, a former curator for the Scottish Rite NMJ's museum in Lexington, Massachusetts, and most recently, curator at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial's museum in Alexandria, Virginia. He's the author of American Freemasonry: Three Centuries of Building Communities and most recently, A Deserving Brother: George Washington and Freemasonry

Robert L.D. Cooper

Robert L.D. Cooper served for almost 30 years as the curator for the Grand Lodge of Scotland's Library & Museum in Edinburgh. He the author of The Red Triangle, an indispensable work about the history of anti-Masonic movements and persecutions; the outstanding Rosslyn Hoax, that examines the many legends and theories about the Knights Templar, Freemasonry, and the enigmatic Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland. Both of these brethren are members of the Society of Blue Friars, an honorary organization of  Masonic authors.

Because they are academic historians and not just a couple of aged, obsessive Masons with a warm glow in their hearts for dusty old Masonic books (not that there's anything wrong with that), they approach their reviews by discussing the pedagogical, academic value of the works themselves. Are they well-researched and well documented? Are they truthful? Are they backed up by useful, in-depth footnotes and references? Are their premises serious, looney, or just plain wishful thinking? Are they really thought-provoking, or are they so far off the rails that you'd be better off using them to prop up a rocky table leg? And what makes a more useful and more trustworthy Masonic book, from an academic point of view, anyway?

Consequently, there's been a good mix on the podcast so far – Masonic classics like Joseph Fort Newton's The Builders and David Stephenson's excellent Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland's Century; academic works like Mark C. Carnes’ Secret Ritual and Manhood in Victorian America and Steven C. Bullock's indispensable Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730-1840. Over in the deep end of the pool are the more... let's call them speculative books, like Stephen Knight's paranoid fairy tale book The Brotherhood: Secret World of the Freemasons (the completely unsubstantiated book of nonsense that launched England into a three-decade anti-Masonic fervor) and David Ovason's inexplicably popular astrological Secret Architecture of our Nation’s Capital: The Masons and the Building of Washington, DC. 

So imagine my surprise when Mark and Robert featured my second book:  Season 1, Episode 16 reviewed Solomon's Builders: Freemasons, Founding Fathers and the Secrets of Washington, D.C., which was written some 14 years ago. After all this time, and despite the panicked circumstances under which it was written, I was pleasantly surprised that they felt it still was of value today.

Let me explain.

Back in the early 2000s when the world was young and dinosaurs ruled the Earth, the entire publishing industry was attempting to cash in on novelist Dan Brown's as yet-unreleased sequel to The DaVinci Code, rumored at that time to be entitled The Solomon Key (eventually The Lost Symbol). By 2003, Da Vinci Code was already the 6th most popular book in the history of the English language, and readers all over the world were breathlessly awaiting the next entry in his series of stories featuring Harvard University 'symbologist' (whatever that is), Robert Langdon. While speaking off the record at a small gathering of local citizens in his New Hampshire hometown, he let it slip that the title of his next book would likely be The Solomon Key and be about Freemasons in Washington D.C. That bit of seemingly innocuous news turned into an international headline, and the feeding frenzy began. 

Stacks of books about the Masons were hurled out by the mainstream press; History Channel shows began talking about the Masons; everyone from National Geographic to the stuffy US News & World Report published expensive, glossy, full-color specialty magazines about Freemasonry, the Knights Templar, old cathedrals, the Illuminati, Bohemian Grove, and anything else they could possibly heave into the mix that sounded ancient, mysterious, spooky, and secret society-ish. Then, Disney rushed the Masonic-themed movie National Treasure into production, and it was released in November 2004. National Treasure would never have been made if not for Dan Brown's tardiness in delivering his sequel manuscript; and my own Freemasons For Dummies would never have been published if National Treasure hadn't been the #1 box office hit of 2004. In fact, Bob Cooper's own book, Cracking the Freemasons Code, was released during this same period for much the same reason – to get a jump on what Masons everywhere feared might be bad fictional treatment by Brown's book.

So. In 2005 I was contacted by Ulysses Press, a small, independent publisher located in Berkeley, California, and asked to write a book that would attempt to second-guess Brown's still as-yet unknown story points, debunk any sort of Masonic claims that he might include in his sequel, and explain his as-yet unseen storyline—whatever that might be—from the standpoint of the Masonic fraternity. And I was given a whopping four months to deliver the manuscript (a month longer than Wiley gave me to write Freemasons For Dummies). 

It hit on the Masonic membership and activities of several of America's founding fathers, talked about possible Masonic influences on the Constitution, and explored the run-up to the Enlightenment period in England and how the Freemasons sprung from it. It detailed the Masonic cornerstone ceremonies for the White House, the U.S. Capitol building, the Washington Monument and more. Chapters debunked some of the most common fantasies about the Masons – Albert Pike, All-Seeing Eyes, the 'Masonic' symbols on the dollar bill and why they aren't actually 'Masonic', and, of course, the nonsense about the supposed 'Masonic' patterns in the streets of America's federal city. The back half of the book was a Masonic travel guide to Washington D.C., listing the many Masonic halls around the city, current and former grand lodge locations, Alexandria's George Washington Masonic National Memorial, the Scottish Rite SJ's House of the Temple, the city's original 'cornerstone', plus other noteworthy landmarks, buildings and monuments with both real and imaginary Masonic connections. 

Solomon's Builders still holds up pretty well 18 years after it was published, if I do say so myself.  When I wrote it, I tried to keep the specific Brown-related mentions to a minimum so it wouldn't become obsolete. I'm gratified that it still remains in print today, because so many other really excellent books that were released about the same time by respected Masonic authors have gone out of print and vanished into the anonymity of Half-Price Books metaphysical section. 

Masonic/Dan Brown mania had a big die-back after his The Lost Symbol  was finally published in 2009 – fortunately for us, the Masons actually turned out to be the good guys in the book, and not the evil, bald-headed, cat-stroking supervillains most of us feared. And the fraternity did have a momentary uptick in men joining lodges who were inspired either by Brown's novel or by one of the myriad Masonic books that came out at the time. But that faded after a couple of years.

Yet, Solomon's Builders remains a decent, handy Masonic guide to D.C. today. Albert Pike's statue in Judiciary Square did get yanked down in the fevered summer of George Floyd riot-related statue toppling. And the city of Alexandria and the parks department put some decent money into sprucing up the area around the first boundary marker for the District of Columbia that was installed and dedicated by Freemasons. And a few other changes have happened throughout the city. But most of the information is still valid today. So, many thanks to Mark and Bob for hitting it with a spotlight again. I'm honored just by the mere mention.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Man Accused of Vandalising and Setting Fire To Chattanooga Masonic Hall Considers Plea Deal

Kadum Harwood's mugshot from Hamilton County (TN) Sheriff's Dept.

by Christopher Hodapp

Kadum Harwood (age 29) was arrested last September in connection with vandalism and an arson attack on a Masonic Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Harwood has been federally charged with arson, traveling in interstate commerce to carry on arson, and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, the indictment shows. 

According to a story in Wednesday's Chattanooga Times Free Press, Federal prosecutors have apparently offered a plea deal to Harwood. Details haven't been disclosed as yet, but his public defender, J. Damon Burk, filed an unopposed motion Tuesday to continue the case shortly before the federal courts closed. 

In an earlier hearing, he pleaded 'not guilty' to all counts.

Harwood's trial was scheduled to begin May 7th at the Joel W. Solomon Federal Building and Courthouse, but Burk has requested the judge grant a 30-day extension so he and his client can more fully study the details.

The affidavit filed at the time of Harwood's arrest provides a few more details in the case (from the WZTV website on September 5th):

The affidavit says the Chattanooga Fire Department responded to a fire alarm at the Chattanooga Masonic Center around 2 a.m. on September 4th.
When crews arrived, the affidavit says they noticed forced entry at the front door as well as 2 separate fires on the property.

The affidavit says one fire was in the shrubs to the left of the front door and the other was in the cafeteria where a podium was set ablaze.

This was all caught on surveillance video, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit says the surveillance footage also shows Harwood using a sledge hammer to vandalize several sections on the Masonic Center.

Harwood 'recklessly' discharged a large caliber firearm into the air before leaving, the affidavit says.

The footage shows a blue Toyota SUV at the center, which the affidavit says was know [sic] by police to be driven by Kadum Harwood based on his social media posts.

The affidavit says officers also found social media posts from Harwood of him threatening to "burn the Free Masons building downtown."

For several months before, he had written Facebook posts threatening to burn down local businesses, a fire station, and a Masonic hall. The night of the attack, when police and firefighters arrived at the scene to respond to an alarm, several walls, windows and interior decorations and furnishings had been smashed with a sledgehammer. There were two small fires smouldering, one inside and the other outside. 

Harwood fled the scene and crossed the border into Georgia to evade police. Local police there located him in a hotel near the border, and arrested him.

The Masonic Center is shared by Temple Lodge 430, Chattanooga Lodge 199, John Bailey Nicklin Chapter RAM 49, and Lookout Commandery 14.

Previous related stories

September 4, 2023: Tennessee: Another Masonic Hall Vandalized

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Indiana University Annual Giving Day Raising Money For the Center For Fraternal Collections & Research

by Christopher Hodapp

Three years ago, Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana opened the new Center for Fraternal Collections & Research (CFCR), headed up by Dr. Heather Calloway. The mission of the CFCR is to collect, preserve, and protect objects and ephemera of fraternal and religious groups for study and research in a permanent and accessible collection.

Today, April 17th is #IUDay at Indiana University, and the Center is attempting to raise $10,000.

During the "Golden Age of Fraternalism" from the end of the American Civil War until the Great Depression in 1929, over a thousand different fraternal, ritual-based or "secret societies" formed in the U.S. For too long, American fraternalism wasn't considered to be important enough for respectable historians to investigate. Yet the fraternal movement with its so-called "secret societies" was critical to the building and strengthening of American communities, and every bit as important as churches, political clubs and parties, social activist groups, and other local institutions. Masons, Elks, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Knights of Columbus, Ancient Order of Hibernians, Red Men, Woodmen - these were the most widely known. But there were hundreds and hundreds more.

"Indiana University's CFCR works to collect, preserve, and make accessible historical and cultural materials related to fraternal organizations and their membership, with an emphasis on organizations that are extinct or without stable historical repositories. They promote research into the history of fraternal organizations in service of the university’s teaching, research, and service mission."

                CFCR Board Menber Seth Anthony

These societies epitomized a commitment to community and personal advancement. So many of these once-vibrant fraternities have now slipped into obscurity, putting their rich legacies in jeopardy. But as these organizations merge or shutter their doors, precious records and artifacts face the threat of permanent loss. What becomes of their enduring legacy when these groups fade away?

 The Center for Fraternal Collections & Research provides three types of scholarly support to IU students and faculty, non-IU scholars, and the public:
  • Collecting and stewarding rare fraternal organization materials donated to Indiana University for the sake of scholarly research. 
  • Creating and supporting research related to fraternal studies at the student and faculty scholarly levels.
  • Disseminating research and information related to fraternal studies via public events, academic symposia, exhibitions, media presentations, and publications.

Items donated to the CFCR are unique or rare due to their content, subject, and other special importance; therefore, they're considered special collections. Unfortunately, materials that are not protected with preventative measures will eventually deteriorate. It is their goal to save this history.

Besides camaraderie, the groups often provided insurance benefits, mutual aid, funeral funds and more. These groups weren't just for white, middle-class men or college students – there were societies that supported immigrant and ethnic communities, religious denominations, women, children, even certain professions or occupations, such as traveling salesmen (National Travelers) or logging workers (Concatenated Order of Hoo Hoo).

The CFCR is located in the IU Collections, Teaching, Research and Exhibition Center, located in the historic McCalla building on the IU Bloomington campus. Following a $6 million renovation of this one-time elementary school building, the Center now provides a safe, climate controlled facility for collections, plus seven display galleries, meeting areas, and a state-of-the-art media digitization and preservation department, all under one roof. 
Last year, the Center played host to the Scottish Rite Research Society's Fall presentation of papers.

Current generations have little or no understanding of the very existence and importance of these organizations, and too many of their publications, artwork, artifacts and jewelry disappear into the garbage or get melted down for their precious metals. The CFCR is now a welcome and secure repository for the quickly vanishing ephemera of American fraternal history.

So if you're interested in helping to support this new center, CLICK HERE to donate for #IUDay.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Meet, Act & Part Podcast Interviews Indiana PGM Roger S. VanGorden

by Christopher Hodapp

The brethren from the Meet, Act & Part Podcast featured a long chat with Indiana Past Grand Master Roger S. VanGorden several weeks ago (Episode 62: Roger Van Gorden). Roger was my first contact with Indiana Freemasonry (back in 1999, during the Pleistocene Epoch when dinosaurs ruled the Earth), but his involvement with the fraternity goes back to his time as a DeMolay. 

If you don't know Roger (or know OF him), he's currently the Active member of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite NMJ for Indiana, the Magus for the Indiana College of the SRICF, and most important for this particular discussion, president of the Masonic Renewal Committee of the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons In North America.

Never heard of the MRC? Well, that's partially something Roger and the Committee are trying to change, to make sure grand officers, lodge leaders, and rank and file Masons DO know who and what they are, and how they are providing programs and information to raise awareness of the fraternity. 

Their Masonic Education Resources page alone is well worth taking the time to go through, as it is a collection of programs, lessons, and other practical information collected from all over the Masonic world. Year after year, grand lodges come up with new programs, oftentimes reinventing the wheel over and over, instead of availing themselves of resources that already exist.

Roger also delves into recent research regarding demographic trends, generational differences, and how they affect Freemasons, in particular. Roger turned me on to Robert Putnam's seminal work, Bowling Alone, more than 20 years ago, and he sees great hope in Putnam's most recent studies, The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again.

Give the show a listen. (And BTW, Bill Hosler, get well soon.)

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Speaking at New York's Pelham Lodge 712 on City Island, April 16

by Christopher Hodapp

Next Tuesday night, April 16th, I'll be speaking at Pelham Lodge 712 on City Island in Bronx, New York. I had originally been scheduled to be here last September, but a decidedly UN-scheduled broken ankle rent everyone's best-laid plans in twain. My thanks go out to the brethren there for their kind understanding and for rescheduling this event.

For those who are so inclined, I should have plenty of books on hand.

Pelham Lodge is in the beautiful Bronx District of the Grand Lodge of New York, and located in the City Island Masonic Temple at 241 City Island Avenue. Dinner will be at 6:30pm, and lodge opens at 7:30pm. Master Masons only for the meeting itself. Please RSVP to Brothers Muñoz or Cuthbert at the numbers listed on the poster.

Tuesday, April 09, 2024


by Christopher Hodapp

Just in case you came to this site wondering if all of us "High-Ranking 33rd Degree Knight Templar Supreme Pontiff Freemasons" got safely transported off the Earth by our reptilian allies during Monday's total solar eclipse, the answer is no. I haven't checked in with members of the Royal family in England yet, but at least stateside, all of us 33rds here somehow managed to survive the ordeal. I realize that if you look at my garage and see the piles of home repair and building supplies, boxes of odds and ends, lawn equipment, unused TVs and refrigerators, old furniture, aging paint cans and mismatched tools, you might think I had been raptured up just as I commenced work on a major remodeling project. But no.

When it comes to the recrudescent rounds of conspiracy theories involving world destruction and the purported involvement of the fraternity of Freemasonry, the eclipse brought out a whole cavalcade of loons, buffoons, kooks, crazies, moonbats, asshats, bedlamites, basket cases and the perennially paranoid, all eagerly panting for updates from the usual gang of infernal, yodeling blowholes who peddle these portentous pronouncements of puerile pish posh as deliberate clickbait. Usually for profit.

RW Cameron Bailey, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Washington (state) had a column on his substack site this week on this very topic. See I'll Send Your Orders In The Morning.

During times like these, I usually find myself whistling the tune of "I've Got My Tinfoil Hat On, Hip-Hip-Hip Hooray."

The trouble with “end o’ the world!” conspiracists is that, sooner or later, they have to be right just once, or their gulled followers might begin to suspect them of crackpottery. The world didn't end after Adam and Eve got their eviction notice for pissing off the Landlord, and it never has ever since that time. So the doomers and gloomies who trot out their 'The End Is Nigh!' sandwich board signs every couple of years just don’t seem to have a winning record.

No, I'm not going to link to any of the daffiest anti-Masonic claims online because I don't want them to benefit from any more undue attention than they have already received. But I did sort of wonder why the Masons, NASA, the entire national security apparatus, Starbucks and The Government™ planned to precisely launch some sort of non-specific "attack" on the citizenry under the cover of momentary darkness, during the few brief minutes of totality. Last I checked, I do believe that the world gets dark for at least 10 or more hours at a stretch, every single night, depending on where you live. Plus, the odds of those usual suspects pulling off some sort of cataclysmic event timed to precisely coincide with just a few minutes of darkness at any point along the shadow's path are astronomical. Neither The Government™ nor the Freemasons have never done anything on time in their lives.

As for me, I haven't had this much to not worry about since Comet Kohoutek, New Coke, the Y2K Virus, and the night I threw away my battered Mayan Calendar.

Nevertheless, I do have to say this linked website from the Butler Eagle newspaper in Pennsylvania provided what is now officially my favorite headline of this festive End Times occasion:

I'm here to blow up the Earth. It obstructs my view of Venus.

It seems the brethren of John E. Mair Masonic Lodge 729 in the Earth-bound borough of Mars, Pennsylvania hosted an eclipse viewing party. Because of the town's astronomical name, a pretty decent sized clot of eclipse watchers poured into the area just so they could say they watched the solar light show from their position on Mars. 

Teaming up with a pair of local businesses, the event included free pizza, soft drinks, Moon Pies (natch) and an ice cream truck. The person showing up with the best solar-themed shirt even won a telescope.