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


Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Grand Lodge of Tennessee Expels Minister For Performing Gay Marriages

by Christopher Hodapp

A heterosexual 41 year-old Tennessee Mason, minister, and father of three has been expelled from the Grand Lodge of Tennessee for violating their rule that forbids, in part, "promoting homosexuality."

Worshipful Brother Tag Thompson (photo above) was expelled in March after a Grand Lodge trial commission found him guilty of "promoting homosexuality," based on a Facebook post from last October in which he offered his services as a minister to gay couples seeking a celebrant for their marriage ceremonies.

A quite lengthy article about this incident appeared on May 14th on the Chattanooga Times Free Press website by reporter Wyatt Massey, which is where I'm drawing much of this information. Unfortunately, the article is hidden behind a paywall, so I will only excerpt parts of it here. However, the Pressreader website does have the text of the story HERE.

Back on October 27, 2020, Thompson posted the following message on his Facebook page:

 "I have LGBTQ+ friends who are worried about being able to marry in the future. If that is you, know that I am a licensed and ordained minister. No matter what happens I will be your officiant if you need me. #theycantmakethatcall."

The Grand Lodge of Tennessee's code, Sec. 4.2105 (27), specifically states that it is a Masonic offense to "To engage in lewd conduct. To promote or engage in homosexual activity. To cohabit immorally in a situation without the benefit of marriage." That Tennessee rule has been in place for more than 35 years, and has been upheld and reaffirmed by the voting members of Grand Lodge several times, in spite of attempts to amend or remove it.

(Just as a matter of idle curiosity, one can't help but wonder if the last part of Tennessee's rule declaring unmarried cohabitation to be a Masonic offense has ever been used in the last decade or two to expel any heterosexual members for living with their ladies, unfettered by a marriage license. But I digress.)

Tag Thompson joined the fraternity in 2015 and served as Worshipful Master of Chattanooga Lodge 199 in 2018. The charges against him were not brought by anyone in his own lodge. They were actually brought by Brother David Bacon, a Mason from a lodge in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee (presumably Soddy Lodge 418).

WB Thompson was not accused of being gay himself, but of promoting homosexuality through his position as a minister. Massey's article describes his background:
Thompson, the son of missionaries, spent most of his childhood in Central America before returning to the Chattanooga area to study at Tennessee Temple University and Bryan College. He was ordained in the Southern Baptist Convention, he said, and worked as a pastoral intern at Stuart Heights Baptist Church in 2004. 

Doing mission work in South Africa as a young adult changed the way he felt about the place for the LGBTQ community in the Christian faith. He moved away from the baptists and more toward the non-denominational house church movement, in which parishioners gather to worship in private homes. He is now the lead minister for the Tapestry, a local non-creedal community that does not espouse a central set of beliefs.
According to the Massey article, Chattanooga Lodge members supported him and originally considered conducting a lodge trial on their own friendly ground. But Thompson and his local brethren decided to opt for a Grand Lodge Trial Commission instead. They wanted, in part, to determine whether or not Tennessee's current leadership would firmly stand by their rule, or soften their stance, based on the widespread international Masonic condemnation over this same rule seven years ago.

From the article:
Thompson's trial was a closed-door affair, like many aspects of Freemasonry. He appeared in a Dayton lodge on Feb. 27, 2021, before a three-man panel of other Tennessee Masons, according to records from the process.

Similar to a judicial trial, Thompson had a Masonic lawyer, and so did the plaintiff. The affair lasted around four hours, Thompson said, though he sensed the outcome early on.

"Honestly, the trial was over before it started," he said.

Thompson chose not to testify.

Steven C. Bullock, history professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts and author of "Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order," said the Masons have a history of finding common ground between men of conlficting religions or those facing other divides, something that is hard to achieve when members — even from neighboring lodges — start policing each other's differences.

"The idea of bringing people together, of connecting and people being brothers, regardless of who they are, it's kind of, it's kind of a part of the American tradition too," Bullock said by phone. "The key foundations of Masonry are creating some sort of sense of brotherhood, of inclusiveness, of family between people who are otherwise distant from each other and different from each other. And that's been the long, long history of the fraternity, right from the beginning.

"Now you have this kind of just trying to circle the wagons, which is just a very difficult kind of thing," Bullock said. "Not very healthy."

Bullock said it's significant the grand lodge handled the matter because the traditional role of the grand lodge is "to keep peace within the community, and wanting to keep growing and expanding and bringing people in."


On March 15, 2021, Thompson received a letter from the state's grand secretary containing the verdict: "The defendant, Brother Thompson, was found guilty of the charges and we received the sentence of expulsion," the letter read. "... The member is not eligible for restoration."

"Every close friend that I had, every close male friend that I had in the world at that point was a Mason. I mean, it's who I hang out with. I mean, it's a brotherhood, so I was incredibly close to these people," Thompson said. "And when you're expelled from Freemasonry, you're basically out. So I lost all of those friendships. Every single
one of them. I haven't seen any of those people in, I'm not sure. Well, since that day."
Thompson now hopes the story of his expulsion will motivate more Tennessee Masons to remove the rule from their code.

Non-Masons should understand that there is no single national or international governing body for Freemasonry. In the US, the states have their own governing grand lodges that are sovereign within their territory. Outside of the US, most countries do have their own national grand lodges that make their rules and issue lodge charters. But American grand lodges all are able to make rules that suit their memberships' standards, as long as they agree to follow certain basic standards of practices, requirements and conduct (i.e. admitting men of good character who must affirm a personal belief in God, a Supreme Being, or other higher power; lodge work conducted with an open Bible, Tanach (the Hebrew scripture), Koran or other Volume of Sacred Law deemed holy by their members; conferring only the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason; no discussion of religion, politics or business in meetings; adherence to the "Ancient Landmarks" of the fraternity as compiled in James Anderson's Constitutions of the Free-Masons, first published in England in 1723).

Now that Thompson has taken his story to the press, it may turn into another public hornet's nest like the one in 2015. The expulsion that year of two married Tennessee Masons set off a year's worth of national and international protests from individual Masons and grand lodges. David Clark and Mark Henderson had both been active and enthusiastic Tennessee Masons in their lodge for many years. When they first petitioned for membership, members of their lodge had investigated both men by visiting the home they shared together, and made no objection to their relationship. After the Supreme Court's landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legally permitted gay marriage was rendered, the men married, with many members of the lodge attending. But after Clark publicly posted photos from their wedding on Facebook, some Tennessee Masons were outraged by what they saw as deliberate flouting of their Grand Lodge's rules, and successfully brought charges against them. Both men were expelled from the fraternity.
That story eventually hit the local papers, TV stations, Chattanooga National Public Radio, and eventually the national news. It remains to be seen if the press and the Masonic community will react similarly to Thompson's story.
In the U.S. apart from Tennessee, it should be noted that only the Grand Lodge of Georgia has a similar ban on homosexuals as part of their official code. Georgia's began as an edict issued in 2015 by then-Grand Master Douglas McDonald on the heels of the Supreme Court's landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision that gave constitutional guarantees for gay marriages. McDonald's edict was made part of Georgia's code by the assembled voting members of the Grand Lodge in 2016. (McDonald ultimately resigned from Freemasonry in 2019 for "religious reasons.")
Masonic responses to the 2015 Tennessee story became something of an avalanche. Grand Lodges of the District of Columbia, California, New York, Belgium, France, the Netherlands all withdrew recognition of Tennessee (as well as Georgia, in some cases) over the no-homosexual policies. Countless other grand lodges and grand masters around the world issued impassioned statements in 2015-16 strongly condemning such rules at that time. A 2016 attempt to insert a similar ban on homosexuals in the Grand Lodge of Mississippi failed — that proposed resolution didn't even have enough support to be sent to the jurisprudence committee for consideration. An even earlier homosexual ban was proposed back in 2010 in the Grand Lodge of Kentucky. It also failed overwhelmingly.

NOTE: There is one item in the article that I need to clarify on a personal note. 

Massey's article featured a direct quote from one of my blog posts back in 2015 when the stories in Tennessee and Georgia were erupting. However, he paraphrased something I apparently said at the time, and his summary was not at all correct. Here are the pertinent paragraphs:
The news caused a stir in Masonic lodges across the country, and in other parts of the world. The news drew rebuke from grand lodges in Maine, Washington D.C., California and Belgium. Many grand lodges do not have laws banning gay members, although Georgia's in 2015 prohibited homosexuality in its ranks. In 2010, Kentucky's grand lodge voted down a proposal to create such a rule.

After the Tennessee vote, Chris Hodapp, an Indiana Mason and a prominent writer on the brotherhood, wrote on his Freemasons for Dummies blog that many religions affirm homosexuality and that the prioritizing of one religion's tenets goes against the nature of Freemasonry.

The organization was designed to bring people together, Hodapp wrote.

"In your own Masonic career, you have undoubtedly made friends with men you otherwise would never have met, never socialized with, never sat in church with, never have given a second thought to," he wrote, in the March 25, 2016, post. "That is what makes this fraternity unlike any other. But I have heard from dozens of good Masons who have given much of their time and treasure to it, who are now leaving because we have failed to live up to the promises we made to them when they joined."
To my recollection I did NOT say that "many religions affirm homosexuality." I can't seem to find where Massey got this idea. What I may have said at the time was that many denominations or individual churches affirm or welcome homosexuals as part of their congregations. Some mainstream churches, synagogues, temples, and even large national or international denominations have open homosexuals in their congregations, permit and perform gay marriages, and allow gay members to join their clergy. But I certainly do not know of a large religious body or faith tradition that favorably "affirmed" or favorably mentioned homosexuality as part of their doctrine or scriptural origin, prior to the 20th and 21st centuries.

It should be noted that after about 2016, more and more grand lodges have established pretty strict rules about what can and can't be said openly on Facebook, Twitter, websites and other forms of social media. Thompson's story may not get the sort of attention that Clark and Henderson's 2015 expulsions did, in part because fewer Masons will circulate it because of stricter rules about discussing internal business and affairs in public.

A common part of the obligation all Masons agree to is not to "violate the chastity of another Mason's wife, his mother, sister or daughter, knowing them to be such." That's the sum total of Masonry's concern over what goes on under the blanket in a Mason's bed or in the back seat of a Subaru. The love lives and sexual activities involving two consenting adults are none of our collective business — as long as they do not violate the civil law, and are conducted with discretion, as all proper gentlemen should conduct everything in their lives. 

As for Masons who fret themselves sick over the very notion of sitting in a lodge room with a homosexual lurking along the sidelines, I can probably assure you that it is more than likely you've had gay brethren sitting in your lodge since the night of your Entered Apprentice degree. That's probably been true since the very beginning of the fraternity in 1717. It's none of your business, any more than it is the lodge's business that your particular interest may be to sleep with a seven-foot-tall, one-eyed, Episcopalian kangaroo.

Read the entire article HERE.

Monday, May 09, 2022

Fraternal Swords Aren't Always Masonic

by Christopher Hodapp

A lady with the last name of Tobias sent me an email early this morning asking for help identifying what she thought was a Masonic sword that belonged to her grandfather. The engraved name on the sword blade was 'U.S. Grant Tobias.' It was a very typical fraternal group sword from Ward or Ames or Pettibone, or one of the several other companies making these since the 1860s. And they made thousands of them.

While attempting to save her message after reading it on my phone, I accidentally deleted her note and the photos. And I don't mean 'rescue-it-from-your-trash-folder' deleted, but double deleted it even from that folder. I've tried all the restoration tricks I know of, to no avail. 

So, if you are Ms. Tobias, the answer is no, the sword in your photos is not Masonic. 
Unfortunately, I only glanced at the photos for a few seconds before I stupidly deleted them. But I did look at them long enough to identify the symbols.

The scabbard is indeed from the American Legion veterans association. But the sword itself has the very Masonic-looking square and compass with an upraised arm holding a hammer in the center that denotes the Junior Order of United American Mechanics on its counter-guard. It's easy to get it confused with the Masonic symbol, but the two groups are not related. 

It's odd that the JrO. U.A.M. sword would have an American Legion scabbard - perhaps he belonged to the two groups simultaneously. Or he may have lost or damaged the proper one for the JrO. U.A.M. and just substituted the American Legion scabbard so it would be protected.

Both organizations are still in operation today.

In any case, the best source of information for identifying these antique swords is John D. Hamilton's indispensable book, The American Fraternal Sword: An Illustrated Reference Guide. Highly recommended, especially for fraternal museums, collectors and antique dealers.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Ohio's Chad Simpson Passes Away

by Christopher Hodapp

NOTE: This story has been updated 5/6/2022 5:00PM:

It was a shock for me today to spot a Facebook post from Arts and Sciences Lodge 792 in Ohio reporting the death of Brother Chad Edward Simpson on Monday, May 2nd. He was just 49 years old.

I've known Chad almost since the day I became a Master Mason, and if memory serves, we joined the fraternity in the same year. In the early 2000s a group of us connected regularly via Masonic email groups and online forums, long before the arrival of Facetwit and Twitbook. In those days, a new crop of Masons were decrying the dearth of Masonic education being conducted at the lodge level. Ohio was one of the first handful of grand lodges that had an internet presence with a public website (and the highly coveted freemason.com domain name), and Chad jumped into promoting Masonry and Masonic education online. He was soon to become the Director of Development for the GL of Ohio, a position he held for two decades. Chad also became a cheerleader for the Midwest Conference on Masonic Education.

While there's no official funeral home obituary available yet, Brother "bmkecck" on Reddit this week posted the following message that lists just a few of Chad's numerous Masonic accomplishments and associations: 

Chad was Director of Program Development for the Grand Lodge of Ohio for almost 20 years, so was instrumental in implementing a number of things that are now standard in the jurisdiction: Candidate Counseling materials, the Master Craftsman Program, Officer's Manual; the written Code, Officer's Manual and Ancient Charges exams; PR funds-matching program, Lodge Education Officer's Manual, multiple education programs. He was editor of the Ohio Beacon Masonic newsletter, highly involved in the Midwest Conference on Masonic Education; one of the charter members of Arts and Sciences Lodge #792, Ohio's first 'TO Lodge (although they'll tell you that they aren't TO'; one of the founders of the Masonic Restoration Foundation and the Masonic Education Traveling Roadshow, among many, many other things in Ohio.
He was a Past Master of York Lodge #563, was given the honorary title of Immediate Past Master of Arts and Sciences #792 by unanimous resolution when the Lodge received it's charter; a past District Education Officer of the 14th Masonic District, was a Knight of the York Cross of Honor and received his 33rd degree from the Valley of Columbus in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Along with Chad Kopenski, they formed the often joked about 'Ohio Chads' to create programs, materials, and events in Masonic education. The 'Ohio Chads' were working together on next year's Midwest Conference on Masonic Education upon Brother Simpson's death.

He loved Freemasonry, was an avid concertina player and knitting enthusiast, was a fierce friend who saw the best in others and worked to help them see themselves the way that he saw them.

He is of that generation 'ago' so that many Masons here didn't know him or know of him; but, believe me, he was the kind of person that you'd appreciate having as a Brother and love having as a friend.

Chad Simpson was of those incredible people who touched countless lives and influenced so many others, often without realizing it himself. His death was quite sudden and unexpected. Please keep his wife Bridget and their family in your thoughts and prayers.

His column is broken, and his Brethren mourn. 

Requiescat in pace.

UPDATE: Chad's official obituary was just posted on the funeral home's website HERE. It is reprinted below:

Chad Simpson, 49, of Columbus, passed away on May 2, 2022. He was born on February 2, 1973 to the late Robert Simpson and Shirley Osborne. In addition to his parents, Chad was preceded by his grandparents, Elmer and Betty Krebs; and his cats, Adah and Esther.

Chad was an active Freemason in Ohio, and worked at the Grand Lodge for nearly 18 years. Chad was a powerful influence and leader of Freemasonry, and a friend and mentor who left his imprint on thousands of lives. He was a perfectionist, and never shy with his opinion, yet his guidance was always given with love and humor.

In recent years, Chad was a part of the team at the Wesley Communities. He made a difference through his thoughtful approach to fundraising on behalf of the Communities, and changed lives by building a family amongst residents and staff alike, always willing to give a listening ear and a helping hand.

Chad recently took up hobbies including playing concertina and knitting, to the delight of family and friends. He had a lifelong love of cooking, a skill he first learned from his grandmother. Chad had a number of interests and hobbies that he shared freely with others, one of the wonderful things that made him such a unique and delightful person. And he had a special place in his heart for his kitty cats, whom he loved dearly.

Chad will be greatly missed by his loving wife of 18 ½ years, Bridget Simpson; brothers, Jerry (Katie) Grafe, Cory (Kate) Simpson, Casey Simpson, and Dan (Cindy) Simpson; nieces and nephews, Jenna and Madison Grafe, Megan (Wesley) Doyle, and Tyler, Chloe, and Addie Simpson, Josette, Joseph, Jacob, and Samantha Simpson, and Clare and Penelope Simpson; great nieces and nephews, Madeline Doyle, Grayson Sanborn, and Sophia Adame; father and mother in-law Louis and Margaret Sass; brother in-law Matthew (Samantha) Sass; and two cats, Ruthie and Lydia.

A Masonic Service will be held on Monday, May 16, 2022 at 5PM and a visitation will follow and go until 8PM at the Schoedinger Worthington funeral home, 6699 North High Street, Worthington OH, 43085. A visitation will be on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, from 11AM until 12PM at Wesley Glen Retirement Community, 5155 North High Street, Columbus OH, 43214. A Funeral Service will follow at 12PM. All are welcome at both services.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Chad Simpson Memorial Scholarship Fund (established in Chad’s name to support young scholars in our community – he received a Masonic scholarship as a youth, his first introduction to the kindness and brotherhood of Freemasonry) and the Wesley Glen Retirement Community Employee Emergency Fund (a fund Chad created at Wesley Glen that was especially important to him – to give, select the “Wesley Glen Other” designation and type “Employee Emergency Fund” in the comments).

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Bazillionare Elon Musk Twitters "Freemasons"; Masons Go Wild

by Christopher Hodapp

Online Masonic forums and Facebook pages were all atwitter Tuesday over a Twitter tweet by Elon Musk in which he referenced Freemasons.

Musk announced his purchase of a majority of the company's stock last week and posted this message as part of a thread opining on the possibility of charging a fee to use the platform. 

What was kind of amazing were the reactions of a lot of Masons over Musk simply mentioning the fraternity. 

"He noticed us! He noticed us!"

Odder were the responses of Masons who didn't get the joke he was making.

"Free? What's he talking about? My lodge charges $200 a year!"

Don't get excited - Musk was making a wisecrack, not nosing around for a lodge to join.

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

GL of South Carolina Expels PGM Cal Disher

by Christopher Hodapp

After a Masonic trial conducted during the April annual communication of the Grand Lodge A.F.M. of South Carolina, the assembled brethren voted 444 to 290 to expel the immediate Past Grand Master (2019-21), Walter Calhoun "Cal" Disher II (photo above).

Disher's Masonic trial was conducted by the Grand Lodge. Four charges of violating his obligation as a Master Mason as well as provisions of their Constitution were filed in November 2021 by Batesburg-Leesville Lodge 138. Disher was ultimately found guilty on all four counts, two of which required mandatory expulsion.

Mister Disher's tempestuous two years as Grand Master during the Covid pandemic were marred by personality clashes and much open hostility. Masons were expelled, lodges had their charters revoked, and longtime friendships were broken.

Disher and PGM Jay Adam Pearson were both at the center of controversy in 2021 after Disher expelled PGM Michael D. Smith from the fraternity for allegedly holding unauthorized Scottish Rite business meetings online via Zoom. Disher had issued an edict banning all online Masonic business meetings during the pandemic. At the time, PGM Smith was serving as the Lieutenant Grand Commander for the Scottish Rite, and SGIG for South Carolina. 

Smith was reinstated to the fraternity after a tumultuous annual communication following the surprise election in April of PGM Ronald C. Mitchum (2005-07) to serve again as Grand Master for 2021-22.

Illus. Michael Smith subsequently died on November 17, 2021. The following month, 
Past Grand Masters Cal Disher and Jay Adam Pearson were stripped of both the 33rd degree and Knight Commander of the Court of Honor (KCCH) by the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite (SJ)

This saga may not be over yet. I understand that there may be more charges filed against some of the other players in this long, sad tale.

In other business, Grand Master Ronald C. Mitchum was re-elected to a second one-year term.

For the background to this story, visit the following links:

South Carolina PGM Mike Smith Expelled Over Zoom Meeting

UPDATED: Irony At Its Most Ironic-est

Lodge Presents Charges Against South Carolina Grand Master and Officers

'The Plot Thickens' in the GL of South Carolina as Annual Meeting Looms

Breaking: S. Carolina PGM Mike Smith Expulsion Overturned; Lodges Restored

South Carolina PGMs Disher and Pearson Stripped of Scottish Rite Honors

Sunday, May 01, 2022

Hollywood's Newest Illumi-nuttiness

by Christopher Hodapp

This year Hollywood is going goofy for Illuminati references in two new projects, and just in time for the 246th anniversary of Adam Weishaupt's very real founding of the group on May 1st, 1776 today. 

In classic murder mystery stories of the 1920s and 30s, the final, last-chapter solution was generally "the butler did it." Similarly, in classic conspiracy theories of the last two and a half centuries, "the Illuminati did it" is in there somewhere, if you just dig hard enough. And half the time, there's some allusion to the Illuminati being Masons.

Perhaps the Illuminati is actually made up of scheming, murderous butlers. Maybe murderous Masonic butlers.

A couple of new big-money movie projects are dropping this week that seem to be a major shift away from the classical Illuminati-based conspiracism of the past. The new trailer for Marvel's Doctor Strange 2: In the Multiverse of Madness (good name for this particular topic) dropped this week, with the tag line, "In 10 days… nothing will prepare you for the truth." The "truth" apparently, is that whatever it is that the entire Marvel multiverse is fighting, The Illuminati™is probably at the root of it. Or something. 

Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, Netflix is debuting a new comedy series with Michael Meyers. The Pentaverate will premiere on Thursday, May 5, posing the poser, “What if a secret society of five men — aka The Pentaverate — has been working to influence world events for the greater good since the Black Plague of 1347?” Or, the Illuminati by another name.
Conspiracists all the way from John Robison and the Abbé Barruel, up to the John Birch Society, Lyndon LaRouche followers, right up through today's QAnon nutters have clasped the Illuminati to their collective, paranoid bosoms and inflated their very real existence between 1776 and about 1785 into a never-ending, "everything is connected" collection of OCD-afflicted New World Order architects, quislings and henchmen. But Hollywood hasn't really done much over the years in the way of using the Illuminati as all-purpose gray eminences. Even the film version of Dan Brown's Angels & Demons only played around with Illuminati references like the novel did, weaseling out in the end by making them nothing but a madman's hoax.

Whenever Hollywood wanted to bring in global bad guy clubs, they'd usually give them imaginary acronyms like SMERSH, SPECTRE, THRUSH, CHAOS, WASP, COBRA to name a few. But these days, Hollywood seems to be rehabilitating the old image of mysterious global puppet masters into a kinder, gentler bunch of altruistic fellows who are only doing secret world-saving deeds for our own good. 

For instance, when the Peacock series of Brown's Masonic-filled The Lost Symbol made it to the screen as a miniseries, the writers of the show decided that us 33° Scottish Rite Masons couldn't possibly be important or spooky enough, so they invented a clutch of the sooperest, secretest level of big-degree, big-deal Freemasons, known as the Leviathan Group. And because they're SO very secret, they all wear special rings with a Leviathan cross to secretly identify themselves when they bump into each other in the Kroger checkout lane. The story goes that the Leviathans are entrusted with the safekeeping of The Ancient Mysteries™. But they also exist to help all of Mankind when needed by stepping in here and there at critical moments, guiding human events just at the right time and place, to protect civilization. 

I think the first time I encountered this story line was Gene Roddenberry's failed pilot for The Questor Tapes in the 1970s, about a race of self-replicating alien androids who build their own successor when they reach the end of their life cycle, and step in at critical moments to protect mankind from his own self-destruction. Sort of a virtuous robot Illuminati. 

I just ruined the end for you.

But a variation of the notion is much, much older. Hidden 'Secret Masters' who hide hidden secret secrets for the good of Mankind are a pretty common thread. They usually want to hide those secrets from all but TRUE Masters because you can't just let every schmo from Kokomo in on attaining true enlightenment.

Anyhow, to the subject at hand. 

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness gets released on May 6th, and is directed by Sam Raimi. The picture stars stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Xochitl Gomez.

Note the tantalizing line: "The Illuminati... will see you now." Hopefully, the Illuminati characters won't be sporting "secret" square and compass rings.

According to Matt McGloin on the Comic Book News site yesterday, 
In the [Marvel] comics, the Illuminati were retconned to basically be responsible for trying to protect humanity and control things which saw various Marvel superheroes a part of the group in control of the Infinity Gems; however, their real-life counterparts, if you believe that sort of stuff, are hardly heroes as the Illuminati are said to be made up of racist Luciferians, pedophiles, high-level Freemasons, Jesuits, the Vatican, politicians, celebrities, sports figures, etc. who are bent on creating a new world order.
In other words, Marvel's GOOD Illuminati made up of heroes from Avengers, Wakanda, Atlantis, and occasional mutants who control the Infinity Gems and do what's best for the world. That was in the comics. As for how the "Illuminati" gets used in the movie version, we'll have to wait for the movie's release to find out just what the truth is that nothing will prepare us for. 

Then there's Mike Meyers' variation on the theme - The Pentaverate.

I'm given to understand that many scenes of the movie were, in fact, shot in and around London's magnificent Freemasons' Hall, home of the United Grand Lodge of England

As you can see in the trailer below, variations of the square and compass and the All Seeing Eye run rampant in the footage.

What seems curious about both of these projects is that, unlike most story lines that use the Illuminati as a stand in for eeevil New World Order/United Nations/Trilateral Commission/Bilderberger groups, both of these projects are apparently trying to rehabilitate the image of world-controlling gray eminences by making us out to be the GOOD guys. Which, I suppose, makes sense if They really do control Hollywood after all...

PLEASE NOTE: I hate posting any story with the word 'Illuminati' in it because I get treated to 300 daily attempts of posting "Join the Illuminati!" spam comments. Please forgive any delay in approving comments - it takes a while to trudge through the sludge. But just to clarify, no you can't join the Illuminati and you're a five-alarm boob if you think giving your Mom's credit card number to an anonymous basement dwelling scammer will somehow get you ahead in life. 

But if you really are compelled to give money to total strangers, you'd be much better off dropping twenty smackers on our book, Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies For Dummies. Here's an Amazon link. Quick! Go get Mom's VISA card.

If you have a serious interest in the actual Illuminati, its founding, its purposes, its methods and rituals, Josef Wages' and Reinhard Markner's book The Secret School of Wisdom: The Authentic Rituals and Doctrines of the Illuminati is where you need to start. Their work (and the translation skills of the late Jeva Singh-Anand) is vitally important for anyone wanting to more fully understand the organization that was founded in 1776 in Bavaria and survived for just a decade - important because it is the first time that the actual rituals of the order have all been collected together in one place (in German or English). Anyone wishing to study the Illuminati for any reason needs this volume. Indeed, the 30-page introduction alone provides a concise, footnoted and well summarized history of the foundation and structure - along with the personalities involved - of the real group that has come to represent a true "secret society" to so many people around the world for more than two centuries.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

David Staples Resigning as U.G.L.E.'s CEO and Grand Secretary

by Christopher Hodapp

The United Grand Lodge of England's First Rising email newsletter arrived Monday morning with a surprising message from Geoffrey Dearing, President of the UGLE's Board of General Purposes:

I'm sorry to announce that David Staples (CEO) has decided to resign from his role as Chief Executive Officer for United Grand Lodge of England with effect from 14 April 2022 although he will remain as Grand Secretary until 14 September 2022 and will attend the investiture events.

David has commented as follows:
“Being the Chief Executive Officer of the UGLE has been a singular privilege and honour, and I feel, with the completion and imminent launch of the new UGLE strategy for the next seven years, the time has come to hand on the mantle to someone new so that I can embark on new opportunities.

“The last four and a half years have seen an enormous rate of change within Freemasonry, and I am honoured to have been part of the journey. I have asked the President of the Board to allow me to step down as Chief Executive Officer and to begin the process for recruiting my successor to take the organisation forward into a new chapter of its history. Recognising my desire to move on to new and different challenges, he has kindly agreed. With leave of the Most Worshipful Grand Master, I will be continuing in my role as Grand Secretary until such time as a successor has been appointed in my stead, at which time, as is right and proper, I should expect to step down from office in his favour. I would like to thank you for your enormous hard work and support whilst in tenure and I wish you all, and the United Grand Lodge of England, the very best for the future.”

 I would like to thank David for his hard work and commitment during his time in office, which has led to many positive improvements within Freemasonry. I wish him well in the future.

Geoffrey Dearing, President of the Board of General Purposes

Dr. David Staples has been a Freemason since 1997 when he was initiated into Apollo University Lodge No. 357 in Oxford. He later became Master of Middlesex Lodge No. 143 in 2006 and was appointed Metropolitan Grand Steward in 2011. He was was appointed to the newly created role of Chief Executive Officer of UGLE in September 2017, and invested as Grand Secretary (the youngest in UGLE's history) in April 2018. He quickly became the public face of the Freemasons in England.

Dr. Staples' accomplishments since becoming CEO and Grand Secretary just four years ago are impressive, to say the least. Whether it is the growth and promotion of the UGLE's University Scheme, the opening of a cafe and bar and the beautiful new Letchworth's Masonic Shop in Freemasons Hall, new advertising and promotional campaigns, classical music performances in Freemasons Hall's breathtaking Grand Lodge Temple, and much more. 

Additionally, unlike some of his predecessors in the Grand Lodge who seemed reticent to deal with the press, Staples has quickly made the rounds of news shows and media interviews whenever a story involving the fraternity arises. 

In the last 50 years or so, UGLE and their subordinate lodges have made massive donations to the communities in which they reside, especially for local police, fire and rescue services. Dr. Staples has been especially proactive about issuing press releases and speaking with the media to highlight these contributions throughout the country. Besides local and regional donations made by individual lodges and district Grand Lodges, funds distributed by UGLE's charitable trusts each year consistently make it one of the top private philanthropic organizations in the country.

But in spite of their ongoing generosity to the public year after year, English Freemasons have suffered mightily at the hands of the press, really ever since the publication in the 1980s of Steven Knight's anti-Masonic screed, The Brotherhood, which made completely false allegations of improper Masonic influences in Britain's institutions, especially law enforcement agencies and the courts. English reporters seem to always be on the lookout for an opportunity to invent a Masonic scandal or secret plot, and public comments on these stories are usually filled with "my old man got sacked because of the bloody Masons and their dodgy handshakes!" messages. Once a smear is in the headlines, it bores into the collective minds of the public at large, perpetuating anti-Masonic myths on into the future.

Suffice it to say that institutional silence by grand lodges in the face of anti-Masonic campaigns in the media has not served us well in the modern age. And so, upon becoming the CEO for UGLE, David Staples became very proactive in defense of the fraternity.

In 2018 when the Guardian newspaper published a series of inflammatory attack articles and opinion pieces making false accusations, Staples quickly responded. Multiple news sites quickly began to reprint parts of the story, and embellish it on their own. Knowing full well that any news outlet would do no more than selectively quote any letter or press release, the UGLE followed up Staples' response to the Guardian and other news outlets with full page advertisements in the Telegraph, the Times and other major papers in England, declaring 'Enough Is Enough.'  

The hashtag #EnoughIsEnough quickly spread among members.

Perhaps it's only an illusion or wishful thinking, but since the #EnoughIsEnough campaign in 2018, there seems to have been a sharp reduction in anti-Masonic reporting in Britain. 

In an appearance on the BBC, Staples had the perfect rejoinder to non-Masons who leveled completely false accusations and conspiracy theories at the fraternity: "The trouble about Freemasonry is that, if you want a medical opinion, you go and ask a doctor. If you want to know about how to build a building, you go and ask an architect. But if you want to know about Freemasonry, you ask absolutely everybody but a Freemason." 

Dr. Staples hasn't publicly said what his future plans may be, but his achievements for the fraternity are a lasting legacy. We wish him well in all his endeavors, and hope his successors continue to build upon the foundations he has laid.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Brother Seeks Kidney Transplant Donor

by Christopher Hodapp

It's not often that we encounter a grand hailing sign in the real world, but I received this message privately about a Masonic Brother who is truly in distress. As the message explains, he is in desperate need of a kidney transplant. And unlike most appeals we come across in the wild these days, this one can't be solved by just clicking a Paypal donation button. This one requires true sacrifice on the part of a potential donor.

(Please note: I'm withholding this Brother's identity in public posts, at his request. But suffice it to say, I know who he is, and I fully understand his reasons for reticence at this particular moment.)

Twelve people die each day waiting for a kidney transplant.

One of our Brothers is one of the 37 million people in the U.S. impacted by kidney disease.

This Masonic brother is a young man who has dedicated his life to helping others. His weekends are full of activities like helping the homeless, fighting health care inequities, and caring for seniors. He is loved by his community and is on the path to create systematic changes in his community to help other people avoid healthcare disparities like the one he has suffered from. Despite this, his own health is beginning to deteriorate and a willing brother can be all the help he needs to save his life and keep him on his path.

To give background about this young Brother, at a young age, he was diagnosed with kidney failure. He spent years waiting for a recipient through the long and tedious organ transplant process with no avail. Through these years he experienced what many would call living a half-life since his body would only allow him to operate at half capacity. This process found him at the DaVita dialysis center every other day having needles stuck into him to painfully remove toxins from his body, a process that takes hours. Thankfully, his luck changed and he was able to briefly function without dialysis.

However, his fate yet again changed. He was recently informed that he has less than six months left with his kidney. He is desperately and urgently seeking a new kidney.

Now he is reaching out to his Freemason brothers to save his life in order to invest his efforts to save the lives of others who may be in this similar situation.

There are risks involved for a donor. But while becoming a living kidney donor may seem like a daunting endeavor, it is a safe procedure. For more information, please click here.

If you, or anyone you know, can help save his life please send an email to kidneyhelp2@gmail.com.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), more than 100,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for kidney transplants at the present time, and more living donors are desperately needed. While transplants involving relatives have long proven to be the most successful over time because of the blood relationship between donor and patient, that is not an option in this case. And in reality, because of improved medications and techniques, a genetic link between the donor and recipient is no longer required to ensure a successful transplant. However, donors must be healthy and match the recipient's blood type and antigens, so it requires extensive testing to determine compatibility. 

The long-term success rates of living transplants are usually much higher than those from deceased donors. In many cases, recipients of living donor kidney transplants can enjoy proper kidney function for an average of 12-20 years, and even longer, but there are no guarantees. There should be no illusions about transplants — a recipient's new kidney may properly function for the rest of their life, while another's can begin to fail again in a matter of months, in spite of exhaustive pre-testing for compatibility, new developments in anti-rejection drugs, and a letter-perfect transplant operation.

There are scores of questions that a potential donor will have answered if they are a match for this Brother, but the very first step is to be tested to find out if it is even a possibility before considering going further. Some very general questions can be answered on the UNOS websiteThere are possible risks to the donor, as in any surgical procedure. But complications or additional surgeries for the donor are statistically tiny. Initial screening, testing, and pre-operative preparation can be done at a hospital in your own hometown, but the actual transplant will require traveling to the recipient's hospital and several overnight stays before and after the operation. 

As Masons we are urged within the allegories of our ceremonies and obligations to know ourselves. We're not often asked to stretch to the farthest limits of our cabletows. Live kidney donation is not a decision to be taken lightly, because it does involve major surgery and a recovery period. But it's one of the greatest and most selfless gifts anyone can offer to make to another human being. Look in your heart, discuss it with your family, and consider giving this gift of life to our distressed Brother by contacting him directly at kidneyhelp2@gmail.com.