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


Monday, October 02, 2023

New York Mayor Eric Adams Made a Prince Hall Mason

by Christopher Hodapp

On Tuesday last week, the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of New York conferred the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason degrees upon New York City Mayor Eric Adams in a special ceremony. Also raised at this event was the city's Police Commissioner, Edward Caban, and Chief of Police, Jeffrey Maddrey.

(LtoR)Grand Master Gregory Roberson Smith, Jr,
Mayor Eric Adams, Commissioner Edward Caban,
Chief Jeffery Maddrey.

The historic event was held at Gracie Mansion, the city's official mayoral residence, and MW Grand Master Gregory Roberson Smith, Jr. presided. He was accompanied by the Grand Lodge officers, including RW Kevin Wardally, Grand Senior Deacon (who is a Board Member of The Masonic Society). 

This type of special ceremony that confers the degrees in a single day is sometimes known as making a Mason "at sight" and is a prerogative of grand masters in many jurisdictions (dating back to a privilege granted to GMs in Rev. James Anderson's Constitutions in 1723). It usually permits GMs to waive any waiting and proficiency period between degrees so that they can all be conferred in a single day. In the majority of grand lodges where this is permitted, it does NOT accelerate or alter the actual degree rituals themselves, nor is it some kind of separate truncated ceremony.

In addition to the Craft lodge degrees for the Mayor and the Commissioner, Sovereign Grand Inspector General Deputy (SGIG), Illus. Rev. Hermon J. Simpson, 33° of the Prince Hall Scottish Rite NMJ, took the opportunity to elevate three esteemed brethren – New York Police Department Borough Commander Ruel Stephenson, New York and Yonkers Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon), and Citywide Public Housing Liaison to the Mayor Tony Hebert –  to the 32° degree of the Scottish Rite, Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret.

The event was made public in a press release issued by the Grand Lodge. (Click image to enlarge.) Photos were shared by Grand Master Smith on his Facebook page.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Suspect Arrested in Greece Over Anti-Masonic Bombing in Athens

by Christopher Hodapp

Back in July, the Scottish Rite Supreme Council of Greece building in Athens suffered limited damage after a bomb exploded outside the entrance. A second device was safely detonated outside of the adjacent Grand Lodge of Greece building. A suspect was arrested on July 25th, and I'm only just finding out about that now. 

Thanks to Joe Wäges for passing along the story this afternoon. The headline describes him as a follower of the "far-right", but the story does not reveal his face or name. I suspect there have been more updates since this story, but this is the initial report after his arrest.

From the Tribune.gr website on July 25th, 2023, via Google translate (imperfect, I know, but I can't read Greek I'm afraid). 

This is the far-right "sprayer" who planted the bombs outside the Freemasons' buildings

The 61-year-old , alleged bomber of the Masonic Buildings on Sourmeli Street (Scottish Rite and Grand Lodge of Greece), was arrested on Monday (25/07) by the Authorities. He declares himself a fanatical enemy of Freemasonry, "Guardian of the Constitution", but also a follower of Kapodistrias, although Kapodistrias was of course a Freemason, just as the Friendly Society and almost the entire leadership of the Revolution of 1821 were Freemasons.

 He told the police that he is the "Guardian of the Constitution" and invoked Article 120 of the Constitution for what he did.

He was arrested after an investigation by the police at his house in Athens where the police discovered an entire factory of explosive devices.
Specifically, the 61-year-old appears on social media as a protector of the Fatherland and orthodoxy against Freemasonry and the "Satanic Governance of Greece", as he characterizes it, while in several of his posts he expresses anti-Semitic and extremist views.

 The building of the Scottish Rite on Sourmeli Street and next to it the building of the Great Lodge of Greece on Sourmeli and Acharnon Streets. The bomb exploded outside the Scots building, [A second bomb was found in the Grand Lodge building and was detonated in a controlled explosion. - CLH ]

His post five days after the attack

A few days after the attack on the Masonic Buildings in Athens, he published an article on his personal website, in which he commented on the explosion on Sourmeli Street, speaking of punishment from the "Warrior of God" who will fight "with weapons" against the satanic forces.
It should be noted that Freemasons have nothing to do with religion but only with Right Reason and Enlightenment.


The 61-year-old also published photos of flyers which he presented as a proclamation for the attack on the Masonic Buildings on Sourmeli Street.

The leaflets, entitled "Masonic Satanists and Traitors of Greece", stated among other things "we officially declare war on every enemy and opponent of our country".

Furthermore, the arrested person, although he did not take responsibility for the bombing, claimed in his article that the flyers were found in Menidi and referred to the explosion at the Scottish Press building.

Finally, a day later, the 61-year-old wrote on his Facebook profile that the first bombing attack on a Masonic Lodge worldwide is the revenge of Ioannis Kapodistrias on his "Masonic murderers".

We repeat that Ioannis Kapodistrias was a mason.

Grand Lodge and High Council are not the same.

The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, also known simply as the Scottish Type, is a spiritually and conceptually unified series of 33 progressive degrees, organized into two distinct series:

• Symbolic Freemasonry (1°- 3°) which usually has a distinct structure and is under the administration of the relevant Grand Lodge.

• Philosophical Freemasonry (4°-33°), governed by the Supreme Council (under the presidency of the Supreme Grand Master), which is also the "guardian" (that is, the spiritual guide and "protector") of the Rite.

Philosophical Freemasonry is one of the two main developments of Symbolic Freemasonry (1°- 3°) that a Master Mason can take to deepen the principles and concepts of Freemasonry. 
The other major development is the York Rite, established in the United States.

The Grand Lodge of Greece was founded and began to operate in Greece under the name Serene Grand Orient of Greece in 1868, after the Grand Orient of Italy by decision of the Grand Master granted a relevant license on February 16, 1867 to the Directorate, which until then was administered by 1864 the existing Greek Freemasonry (with first recorded lodges in the cities of Athens, Piraeus, Chalkida, Patras, Syros, Lamia and Argos).

The Supreme Council of the 33° of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Greece was founded and settled in Athens in the year 1872, under Dimitrios Rodokanakis who was raised to the 33rd degree by the Supreme Council of Scotland, with authorization to establish a Supreme Council in Greece.

In 1936, the Serene Grand East of Greece was renamed the Great Lodge of Greece, and is still based in Athens, at 19 Acharnon Street and Sourmeli, while the Scottish Press was the only active Masonic Press in Greece until 1980.

The Supreme Council for Greece accepts members, master masons, from the two regular grand lodges, the Grand Lodge of Greece (MStE) and the National Grand Lodge of Greece (EMStE).

Where you can find The Scottish Rite

The Greek High Council under Em. Gerakio is the legal and normal in Greece, according to the masonic traditions and dozens of decisions of the Greek Justice, including the Supreme Court.

As a legal and regular High Council it maintains cordial relations both with the mother tongue of the USA and with French, which is the second in the world and the first in Europe.

The United States, France, Greece alliance, the Washington, Paris, Athens axis, is also strong here.

The Supreme Council has its headquarters at 2 Sourmeli Street in Athens, right next to the Great Lodge Palace, also known as "Acharnon" and its members meet in the building opposite the Great Lodge of Greece, at Averof 30 and Acharnon.

The Supreme Council accepts members from the two regular Grand Lodges of our country, the Grand Lodge of Greece (MSTE) and the National Grand Lodge of Greece (EMSTE).

To join the Scottish Rite one must [be initiated into] the first three degrees of Freemasonry, which are obtained through [lodge] membership under one of the two regular Grand Lodges.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

UPDATE: Suspect Bound For Trial in Chattanooga Masonic Center Fire

by Christopher Hodapp

The lone suspect in the Labor Day arson fire that heavily damaged the Masonic Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee has been bound over for trial, and his bail has been raised to $450,000. On Monday, Judge Lila Statom bound all charges of the Grand Jury against Kadum Hunter Harwood (29). Those charges include arson, vandalism, harassment, aggravated burglary, and reckless endangerment.

Harwood acted as his own attorney, which should go well, I'm sure.

From an article on the Chattannogan.com website on Monday:

A judge on Monday raised the bond for a man police say vandalized and burned the Masonic Temple across from Finley Stadium after threatening to do so on social media.

Kadum Hunter Harwood, 29, of 96 Harris St., Ringgold, now faces bonds totaling $450,000.

General Sessions Court Judge Lila Statom bound all charges to the Grand Jury against Harwood. Those include harassment, vandalism, arson, aggravated burglary and reckless endangerment.

Harwood represented himself, with the help of the public defender's office, at a preliminary hearing.

Paul Smith, who oversees the Temple, told of extensive damages inside and out of the building that had been used not only by the Masons but for civic and other groups.

Mr. Smith said Masonic members had been aware of threats Harwood had been making. "Numerous Masons had been following his posts," he said.

It was testified that Harwood wrote on Facebook, "I think I'm going to burn the one downtown. I am going to make an example of all FMs (Free Masons)."

Fire investigator Henry McElvain said Harwood was seen on video setting fires both inside and out of the building, destroying items inside and tossing some property on the parking lot.

He said video showed the same car as had been seen outside the Temple before. It was located at Harwood's home and searched by the FBI as well as his home.

The investigator said Harwood fired a shot while outside the building in the Sept. 4 incident, and a shell casing was located.

At the close of the hearing, Harwood said, "These charges are false. I am being wrongly detained and accused."

Before the fire, the Masonic Center was shared by Temple Lodge 430, Chattanooga Lodge 199, John Bailey Nicklin Chapter RAM 49, and Lookout Commandery 14.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Minnesota Lodge Restores Historic 1857 Charter

1857 Charter of Mankato Lodge No. 12 in Minnesota
(CNHI News Service)

by Christopher Hodapp

In 1857, the just-formed Grand Lodge of Minnesota AF&AM issued a charter for that state's twelfth Masonic lodge – Mankato Lodge No. 12. The lodge was first organized in 1856, the year before statehood was granted to Minnesota. A century and a half after it was issued, Mankato Lodge has taken steps to carefully restore and preserve their original, fragile document. 

Mankato's charter (or warrant) was printed on animal skin parchment, most likely vellum, a specially treated piece of calfskin or lambskin, which was often used to create significant documents in the past. It's why academic diplomas used to be nicknamed 'sheepskins.' Vellum is an unusual material, but if it is well cared for, it can last for centuries – there are extant documents on parchment and vellum from over a thousand years ago. Unfortunately, if it's NOT well cared for, subjected to high heat, moisture or humidity, animal skin parchment and vellum can quite literally begin to pucker and shrivel up over time. 

At the Masonic Library & Museum of Indiana we have received many lodge charters or Masonic degree diplomas from the early to mid-1800s made of vellum that look like badly wadded linen handkerchiefs. Rescuing them from that condition is not always successful and requires very special treatment to accomplish.

WB Mark Robbins, PM of Mankato Lodge and longtime member and officer at the Masonic Society, passed this story along to me.

Mark G. Robbins of the Masonic Lodge talks to paper 
conservationist Amanda Malkin about her work on Masonic 
Lodge 12’s historical document, its warrant. (CNHI News Service)
Current members of Lodge 12 raised concerns about the continued safety of its 1857 official approval by the then-grand master of all Masons.

“We’ve known where it was and what it was ... it’s valuable to us,” said Mark G. Robbins, a Lodge 12 former master.

He feared, however, that someone unfamiliar with the lodge’s history could accidentally throw away the tube and its contents.
Robbins was tasked with the safekeeping of the document Masons referred to as a warrant. He turned Lodge 12’s precious parchment with ink calligraphy over to a St. Peter woman who specializes in preserving works on paper.
“I found Amanda’s business, PaperLovesConservation, on the internet. I thought we would have to send the warrant off to the East Coast, but she’s local so we didn’t have to insure it or ship it,” Robbins said.

Amanda Malkin not only conserves club and organization charters similar to the local Freemasons’ document, she has the skills necessary to repair maps, art prints and watercolors works.

A professional associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Malkin founded her business in 2016. She has a master’s degree in the conservation of fine art. Before moving to Minnesota, she held positions in Washington, D.C., at a Smithsonian art gallery and a museum.

Malkin returned the warrant to Lodge 12 early Tuesday evening. Masons gathered to see the restored document and to hear her PowerPoint presentation about the process.

She had mounted the cleaned warrant on an acid-free background, then placed the document in a frame behind clear Plexiglas designed to filter out harmful ultraviolet light.

She found the piece of parchment to be in surprisingly good shape. The warrant showed no damage from the brown ink used to write and draw on its surface.

“Back then, scribes made their own ink and it could be highly acidic. Sometimes, the ink used on a document will eat holes in it.”

“The warrant is in great condition. Still, it should not be out on display for too long,” Malkin advised the Masons.

Robbins plans to store the document in a safe at the Masons’ brick two-story building at the corner of Second and Hickory streets.

Animal skin vellum has mostly been replaced these days by cotton-based paper vellum (you can find it in most well-stocked art supply stores). But the authentic stuff is still made with animal hides and used today to create archival copies of Acts of the English Parliament, and for printing Torah scrolls.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Former Masonic Temple To Become Lansing, MI City Hall

by Christopher Hodapp

Lansing, Michigan's Mayor Andy Schor announced this week that the former downtown Masonic Templeat 217 S. Capital Street will become the new City Hall. The original Temple was built in 1924 at the height of the City Beautiful Movement, and was home so numerous Masonic lodges and appendant organizations.

The Masons moved out of the building many years ago as lodge memberships diminished and downtowns deteriorated in the late 1960s, and the Temple building became the Cooley Law School in the 1970s. The school vacated in 2001, but this announcement will breathe new life back to the historic building. 

The move will begin in 2024 and take 2 years to complete.

It would be nice if local Masons could participate when the new City Hall is dedicated, maybe with a new dedication stone. And even better if one of the lodge rooms survived well enough to get dispensation and hold an occasional degree there.

Thursday, September 07, 2023

10/14: Scottish Rite Research Society Symposium at Indiana University/Bloomington

by Christopher Hodapp

The Indiana University Center for Fraternal Collections and Research will be hosting the 2023 Scottish Rite Research Society Symposium on October 14, 2023 between 1:00-5:00PM. Everyone is welcome to attend - Masons, non-Masons, and SRRS members. 

The event will be held in the historic McCalla Building on the beautiful Bloomington campus of Indiana University. Bloomington is located in south/central Indiana 50 miles south of Indianapolis, off of I-69.

The McCalla Building features a variety of exhibits that participants can explore before and after sessions. While here, be sure to see the new exhibit about fraternal organizations, "LinkedIn to the Lodge: The Original Social Network."

University Collections McCalla provides a wonderful location where Indiana University and the local community can exhibit art, cultural heritage, scientific treasures and more.

University Collections at McCalla
Indiana University
525 N. Indiana Ave.
Bloomington, IN 47408

The Scottish Rite Research Society is one of the most dynamic forces in contemporary Masonic research, making it a natural partner for IU's Fraternal Center. The schedule of speakers will be posted as presenters are confirmed.

People are welcome to either attend the sessions in person, or to stream the sessions over the internet. When registering, please indicate if you will attend the symposium at IU or virtually.


The SRRS is interested in papers of interest to Society members, such as history of Freemasonry, the Scottish Rite, and other Masonic-related organizations; Masonic symbolism and philosophy; development and changes in ritual over time; and similar topics.

Download the Call for Papers document for details. Act fast! The deadline for submission of papers is October 1, 2023.

Indiana University Center for Fraternal Collections and Research

The newly opened Center for Fraternal Collections & Research (CFCR), headed by Dr. Heather Calloway, is devoted to the collecting, protecting, and sharing of fraternal collections for the sake of research and public engagement. CFCR improves scholarship and understanding of fraternal groups, explores their impact on American society, and elucidates their importance across time and to different social groups.

Whether you are interested in famous fraternal traditions such as Freemasonry, influential women's auxiliaries and orders, fraternal groups that served important roles in African American or other communities, or other orders that have served as cornerstones to American cities and towns, we hope that you will find the Center for Fraternal Collections and Research to be an exciting and welcoming place for your academic and personal inquiry.

What is the Scottish Rite Research Society?

The Scottish Rite Research Society is an offshoot of the AASR-Southern Jurisdiction, but do not let that dissuade you from becoming a member if you are outside of their territory. The articles in their hardbound annual collection, Heredom, tend to favor the AASR-SJ's evolution, history and symbolism, but not exclusively. Every volume always contains well-written and well-documented papers of wide interest to any Freemason.

The SRRS has an extremely aggressive publication strategy. In addition to Heredom, they also publish the quarterly Plumbline, which includes fascinating research articles. Membership includes an annual bonus book – generally a beautiful hardbound, annotated reprint of an historical volume from the House of the Temple's vast archive and library. You don't even need to be a Mason to join.

Annual SRRS membership is $55 and includes the annual Heredom, the quarterly Plumbline, a bonus book or other item every year (!), plus a discount on books and items from their shop at the House of the Temple (also available online). To join, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

CANCELLED: Tuesday, Sept 5th Event at New York's Pelham Lodge 712



My deepest apologies to everyone who was planning to attend.


(Here's my surgeon's handiwork. Looks like my own questionable carpentry skills, except he knows what he's doing.)


My deepest thanks go to RW William Sardone, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York 2028-21 for answering the last-minute call from Pelham Lodge and speaking to the brethren Tuesday night.

Suspect in Chattanooga Masonic Center Attack Arrested in Georgia

by Christopher Hodapp

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED:Thursday 9/7/2023 11:30AM
Added more of suspect's Facebook posts; mugshot photo and affidavit.

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED Tuesday 9/5/2023 11:20PM
Added suspect's name, photo and alleged Facebook posts

WDEF-TV News in Chattanooga reports that authorities in Catoosa County, Georgia arrested a suspect in the arson and vandalism case of the Labor Day break-in and fires at the Chattanooga Masonic Center.

On Monday evening, Georgia police arrested 29-year-old Kadum Hunter Harwood (photo), who will be extradited to Hamilton County in Tennessee and charged with arson, vandalism, burglary and reckless endangerment.

Tennessee Grand Master James Arnhart issued a Facebook message this morning:

The individual responsible for vandalizing our Masonic Center has been taken into custody in Georgia. We owe all law enforcement a huge thank you for doing an outstanding job. God bless you all.

 When you attack a Masonic Lodge or Freemasonry you are in essence attacking the community, a commitment to those in need and suffering. Freemasonry donates a million dollars a day to Charities across the board. From Children's Hospitals, Widows and Orphans, KT's Eye Foundation, Scottish Rite's Rite Care. The list goes on and on, [and] these are but a few. Freemasonry is about services.

The Masonic Center in downtown Chattanooga along with Tennessee Freemasonry will be fine. We learned, we repair, we love, and we serve.

My brief review of what seems to be Harwood's recent Facebook postings is disturbing, to say the least. He seemed to be taunting authorities Monday evening by posting the address of a hotel in Graysville, Georgia. He clearly kept no secret as to his whereabouts. (NOTE: That FB profile has not been officially attributed to Harwood at this time.) 

He also seemed to have a gripe against the Vatican.

Update 9/7/2023 11:30PM

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 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."

Monday, September 04, 2023

Tennessee: Another Masonic Hall Vandalized

by Christopher Hodapp

The Masonic Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee was vandalized at some point this weekend. I've received few details as of Monday afternoon, but the building was apparently broken into, damaged caused, and a fire was set.

Chattanooga Fire and Chattanooga Police are investigating an incident early Monday morning at the Chattanooga Masonic Center involving arson and vandalism.

 Chattanooga firefighters responded at 2:11 a.m. on Monday to the Masonic Lodge at 551 W 21st Street on a fire alarm activation. When CFD personnel arrived on scene, they found a fire on the left front exterior of the building which was quickly extinguished.

 The front doors were also open and as crews made entry, they found another small fire inside the structure which had activated the sprinkler system. The sprinklers effectively extinguished the interior fire. 

Along with fire and water damage, there was also damage to the building from vandalism.

There is an active and ongoing investigation into what happened. 

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

A brief message was posted Monday on Facebook by Tennessee's MW Grand Master James Arnhart with the photo above:

I received a call early this morning reporting our Masonic Center was vandalized. On behalf of our Grand Lodge I would like to thank our first responders for the outstanding job they did in securing the area.
Please take a hard look at this flag. This area of our lodge was set in fire and the flag seen in the picture will become our rally cry. Together with Temple Lodge No 430 we will like the phoenix rise from the ashes stronger as a Lodge and as brothers.

 God bless Freemasonry!

UPDATE 9/5/23, 12:11AM: Photos below by Brent McDonald, WTVC NewsChannel8

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men"

by Christopher Hodapp

As I reported last week, I managed to fall and break a bone in my ankle ten days ago. No great story to regale you with — no spectacular bar fight, no mishap on my tricky ascent up the north face of Mount Schmatterhorn, no I wasn't worked over by a gang of pirates or bootleggers. I just managed to get a leg cramp after standing up all weekend, and fell over, snapping the ankle joint on my fibula (the thin calf bone in your leg), splitting the bone right up the center. So, I go in Friday morning for surgery when they'll fix it using the same technology I use in my own poor attempts at carpentry: drive a handful of screws in it and spackle over the problem.

The immediate bad news is that I must cancel my speaking engagement next Tuesday, September 5th at New York's Pelham Lodge 712 in the Bronx. I've spent two days on the phone with Brothers Hanson Cuthbert and Matthew Aponte trying to come up with a suitable solution (possibly driving to Indy, renting a flatbed trailer, and lashing me down onto it in a LaZBoy for an exciting road trip). But with the surgery, recovery, and followup appointments afterwards, I can't even commit to cogently presenting on video, as it's probable I'll still be loopy on pain-killing hallucinogens next Tuesday night. So, my deepest apologies to the lodge and to everyone who was planning on attending. I'm even more disappointed than you, I assure you. As soon as I am more certain as to recovery time, we will reschedule the event.

I also have events scheduled in October and late November, in Ohio and Connecticut. I'm not canceling those engagements at this time, but I will know a lot more in about a week or so.

Congratulations Illus. Brother James Dillman, 33°

by Christopher Hodapp

I'm furious that a stupid stumble wound up keeping me home from an event that was so important to the four portly gents in this old picture.

Fifteen years and way too many banquet dinners ago, there were these four Indiana troublemakers: an extremely overweight Dummy, WB Jim Dillman, RW Roger VanGorden PGM, and WB Nathan Brindle. The photo above was shot on a very hot summer afternoon in 2007, behind the Indianapolis Scottish Rite Cathedral. Jim, Nathan and I had just started serving together on the Board for the Indianapolis Masonic Temple. We were still two years away from founding The Masonic Society, of which Roger would become the first president, Jim its second, Nathan its Secretary/Treasurer, and I would edit the quarterly magazine. Several years later, Roger, Nathan and Jim would all go on to have officer positions in the Indianapolis Valley of the Scottish Rite.

Over time, we would all have incredible honors bestowed upon us by the fraternity that we never anticipated. Roger, Nathan and I would all be honored with the 33° by the Scottish Rite NMJ. (In my own case, I'm still bewildered and convinced someone snuck mine in accidentally. There's no chance it could have been done on purpose.)

And so it came to pass on Tuesday that now-Illustrious Brother James Dillman stood among his peers at Louisville's Palace Theater and was coroneted with the 33rd degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, NMJ. I would have given anything to have attended that ceremony, but my freshly broken ankle put a sudden kibosh to that plan. My deepest regrets, Jim. I really really wanted to be there.

In a further development amongst our little merry band of Hoosier Masonic cabal members, Illus. Roger VanGorden was named as an Active Member of the Supreme Council NMJ for Indiana.

I don't know what deeds I ever accomplished over the years to be associated with these esteemed brethren of such rare and varied talents, but I thank the GAOTU every day for it.

Illustrious Indiana Masons Among Honored With 33° In Louisville

by Christopher Hodapp

I had fervently hoped to attend the Scottish Rite NMJ's Supreme Council meeting in Louisville this week, for several reasons. I had it on my calendar for a year. We'd made the plans months ago. But my last-minute leg injury prevented us going, along with other events I've been forced to cancel. And I'm NOT happy about it.

Congratulations to our new Illustrious 33° Brethren from the Valley of Indianapolis in the photo at the top of this post.

Bradley Keith Keen
Steven John Sonafrank
Paul Irvin Gosnell
James Richard Dillman
Amzie Lee Wenning.
(Illus. James Edward Granneman also received his 33° in a special ceremony on July 20th.)

They were joined by these Illustrious Sirs also honored Tuesday from the other Scottish Rite Valleys across Indiana:

From the Valley of Fort Wayne
Lawrence Albert Davis
Fred Leonard Lucabaugh
Terrence Roe
Christopher Stewart Sanders

From the Valley of Evansville
Thomas Lee Bartelt
Roger Fuchs
David Scott Straw

From the Valley of South Bend
Timothy Francis Lawson
Lucas Pacukovski
Matthew K. Pollard

From the Valley of Terre Haute
Richard Wallace Allen
Stanley Wayne Frank, Jr.
Jason Benton Smith

From the Valley of George Rogers Clark
Richard Edward Milligan
Rex Robertson
Archie R. Smallwood

If you're not a Mason – or even if you are –the 33° of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry is likely the most misunderstood term and Masonic-related degree that people encounter

To slightly paraphrase from the official announcement concerning this honor as it is bestowed by the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (which covers the 15 US states north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi):

[A Scottish Rite member of the 32nd degree] — a Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret — who is not less than 33 years of age, may be elected at an Annual Meeting of the Supreme Council to receive the Degree of Sovereign Grand Inspector General, Honorary Member of the Supreme Council. The Degree of Sovereign Grand Inspector General shall be conferred only at the Annual Meeting of the Supreme Council.

The Sovereign Grand Commander's degree, the Sovereign Grand Inspectors General, cannot be petitioned for, nor purchased, it must be earned through work and dedication to the craft. The 33° is not an endpoint, but a beginning of the continuing work these brothers will give to their Valleys and Masonry in general.

The 33rd degree is NOT hidden from the public - as you can see, their names are openly announced, and there are about 500 holders of this degree in each of the Northern and Southern Jurisdictions. It is considered a great honor, but 33° Masons do not "outrank" other Masons. A man is a "full member" of Freemasonry once he has completed the three degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason in his Masonic lodge. The Scottish Rite is an additional organization a Mason may join to discover and explore further Masonic philosophy, and because they confer such a large number of degrees through the presentation of dramatic ceremonial plays, the Rite numbers theirs from the 4th through the 32nd degrees, with the 33rd conferred on a few members as a penultimate honor for their hard work in Masonry or the community. 

In the North, the degree of Sovereign Grand Inspector General, Honorary is just that – honorary. There is also a separate Sovereign Grand Inspector General, Active who is a voting member of the Supreme Council (which governs the Rite). These SGIG/Actives represent the different Valleys in each state. In the North, the 33rd-degree ceremony for the Honoraries is an elaborate ceremony presented live onstage and can only be attended by other 33rds. The Actives have their own separate conferral and obligation.

The Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite consists of the other 35 states and the District of Columbia. All their degrees from 4 through 32, plus their 33rd, are based upon the rituals written by Albert Pike in the mid- to late-1800s. Our two organizations impart Scottish Rite lessons in different ways: Pike favored mostly Old Testament-inspired framing for his rituals and included much in the way of ancient symbolism and pre-Enlightenment esotericism, while the North has created more recent scenarios for its ceremonies, including several inspired by American history. 

Another difference between the two US Scottish Rite jurisdictions is that the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction holds its biennial meeting and 33rd degree conferral in Washington D.C., which is the location of their headquarters, the House of the Temple. The 33° candidates for the Southern Jurisdiction lined up last week in Washington, as seen in this photo from Arturo De Hoyos.

The Northern Jurisdiction takes their biennial meetings on the road and generally tries to hold its 33rd degree conferral in an historic theater, if possible. Recent meetings have been in Indianapolis, Chicago, Rochester, Cleveland, and Louisville this year. 

(Yes, we know – Louisville's on the south side of the river. But it's a great city for big events. And face it: thanks to GPS and Google Maps, Mankind has lost the innate ability to read maps or find his way without asking directions. That's what we get for subverting evolution.)