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


Thursday, June 13, 2024

RIP: Bill Hosler

by Christopher Hodapp

UPDATE Monday, June 13th, 10:30AM: This story has been updated with Bill's official obituary, and funeral and memorial services’ information for both Arkansas and Indiana.

The world suddenly became a sadder and far less pleasurable place to inhabit this weekend. Word came that my friend and Masonic Brother William C. Hosler, PM, passed to the Celestial Lodge on Thursday, June 6th. He was 58.

If you're a Masonic podcast fan, you may be familiar with Bill from the 'Meet, Act and Part' program, with co-hosts Greg Knott, Darin Lahners, and occasionally, 'The Midnight Freemasons' author Todd Creason. 

Bill Hosler entered the fraternity three years after I did. Back in the early 2000s, he joined Fort Wayne's 
Three Rivers Lodge 733, and almost immediately became a regular contributor to early Internet Masonic message boards like Jeff Naylor's Indiana-based MasoniclLight.net (which started in November 1999). 

Bill and I became buddies right from the start, sharing our love for 1960s British comedy. He had lived for a time in England, and I seemed to be the only one who caught on to his references to the hilarious old 'Carry On' movies.

MasonicLight.net came into being in the nascent days of the movement to create observant-style lodges in the U.S. (which went by various names over the years, like European Concept, Traditional Observance, Best Practices, and others I've lost track of). A core clot of us on the website began tossing around ideas which quickly led to the establishment of Indiana's Lodge Vitruvian 767, with our fearless leader Jeff Naylor as its founding Worshipful Master. And a lot of those ideas made their way into Laudable Pursuit, which we published on online anonymously under our group's nom de l'internet, The Knights of the North.

Bill Hosler was one of those intrepid knights of the keyboard.

At that time, Bill was a truck driver based in Fort Wayne, in northeastern Indiana. In the coming years, he served as Worshipful Master at Three Rivers Lodge, and became a plural member in Calvin Prather Lodge 717 in Indianapolis. 
Bill was a member of the Fort Wayne Valley of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite (NMJ); he served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Royal Arch Chapter 19; and he was Commander of Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knights Templar. He was also member of Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne, where he served as the webmaster and editor of their magazine. In 2007, he became a member of the Grand Lodge of Indiana's Technology Committee.

Bill relocated to Texas for a while, and he attended lodge whenever and wherever he could. He joined Lebanon Lodge 837 in Frisco, Texas, Roff Lodge 169 in Roff, Oklahoma, and Ardmore Lodge 31, where he became a life member. He and his wonderful lady, Tammi Harmoning, most recently settled in Three Rivers, Arkansas.

Meanwhile, he continued to write about the fraternity, contributing regularly to Todd Creason's 'The Midnight Freemasons' blog. Over time, he contributed a series of thoughtful short stories that featured dialogues between a young Mason named Pudge, and the Wise Old 50-year Mason, in a vein similar to Carl Claudy's famed Old Tyler Talks and The Old Past Master tales.

The 'Meet, Act and Part' podcast hit the air in 2020, and Bill was a regular presence there, too. But it was really Facebook where Bill's natural tendency to find a hilarious punchline in all things really came alive. I could always count on him to make me laugh at thoroughly inappropriate moments.

Services for Bill have not yet been announced, but this post will be updated as soon as I find the details (see below). My deepest condolences and sympathies go out to Tammi. Please keep her and the rest of their families in your thoughts and devotions.

I'm sorely going to miss you, my friend.

His column is broken, and his Brethren mourn. 

Requiescat in pace.

UPDATED June 13, 2024, 10:30AM:

Bill's obituary in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette:

William "Bill" Hosler, PM, age 58, of Cave Springs passed away on June 6, 2024, in his home. He was born February 1, 1966, in Fort Wayne, Ind., to William Carl Hosler and Margaret Ann Coil Hosler. Bill was the eldest of three children and was raised in Huntertown, Ind. Bill was preceded in death by his parents; and his beloved dog, Happy, who was the age of 13. Survivors include his soulmate, Tammi Harmoning of Cave Springs, Ark.; and his two siblings, Holly Hosler of Ohio, and Bob Hosler of Missouri. 

Local services for Bill will be Thursday, June 13, 2024, 1 p.m., at Hunt Chapel of Pinnacle Memorial Gardens in Rogers, Ark. Visitation will be held at Epting Funeral Home, Bentonville, Wednesday, June 12th, from 4-6 p.m. Bill will be laid to rest at Lindenwood Cemetery, Fort Wayne, Ind. Fort Wayne, Ind., services will be held at Lindenwood Cemetery on Saturday, June 15, 2024 at 2 p.m., with entombment to follow. 

Bill had several careers through his life, including a decade driving a truck. While it was not without stress, he found joy being on the road because he was able to visit all 48 United States and two provinces of Canada. He also worked as a Security and Emergency services officer at a General Motors, where he met so many long-lasting friends. For several years, Bill was the building manager for the Fort Wayne, Ind., Masonic Temple, and shared so many stories of his time there. Many of the inspirations for his fictional published writings came from his time as caretaker to the old Masonic edifice in Fort Wayne. 

Since his earliest days, he had a vivid imagination and a flair for writing. His writings have been published in the Working Tools magazine and he was a Regular Contributor for The Midnight Freemasons. He was also so happy when he was able to accomplish being a published author of Meditations of a Flawed Ashlar. He also found joy and laughter being a Co-Host of the Meet, Act and Part podcast with wonderful brothers he cared deeply for. He spent the last 14 years with his lady, Tammi, and their yellow Labrador named Happy, living across Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas. They enjoyed traveling with their precious dog to many parts of the lower 48. Within the last few years, they found joy in seeing the world, cruising the Caribbean and Atlantic Islands and had already begun planning several trips in the near future. 

WB Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002, in Three Rivers Lodge No. 733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007, and in 2006, became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill was a member of Calvin Prather Lodge No. 717 in Indianapolis. He also held Masonic memberships outside his mother jurisdiction, amongst which was a perpetual membership of Ardmore No. 31 in Ardmore, Okla., and a lifetime member of Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco, Texas. Bill was a member of the Valley of Guthrie Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Oklahoma and the Valley of Indianapolis, Ind. He had also served as the High Priest Fort Wayne Chapter of the York Rite No. 19, and was Commander of Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. Bill is a founding member of the Masonic Society, he also held membership in the Dwight L Smith Lodge of Research in Indiana, Oklahoma Lodge of Research, Texas Lodge of Research, and The Missouri Lodge of Research and the Scottish Rite Valley of Fayetteville, Ark. 

Arrangements: Epting Funeral Home of Bentonville Condolences: www.eptingfuneralhome.com

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Postcards from Vancouver, Canada

by Christopher Hodapp

NOTE: This article rated RLRA (Really Long. Read Anyway.)

My very deep and belated thanks to the brethren of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of British Columbia & Yukon for inviting me as the keynote speaker for their Grand Masonic Day in Vancouver at the beautiful Freemasons Hall in New Westminster at the end of May. This event, presented by the Vancouver Lodge of Education and Research, has been going strong since 1982 and features a unique educational program each year with a lineup of speakers. 

I would especially like to thank Brothers Troy Spreeuw and Wes Regan for the great job they did organizing this event and for asking me to be a part of it. Troy and his wife Nina handled the book sales all afternoon and evening, and Nina also handled tickets sales for the event and other administrivia.  I'm afraid it was an extremely long day for them both. 

Attacks on Masonic Buildings in North America

Brother Wes Regan put on an excellent presentation concerning attacks on Masons and Masonic buildings in North America over the last several years. Vancouver was hit particularly hard a couple of years ago when an anti-Masonic arsonist set fires at three different Masonic buildings around the city, damaging one, gutting another, and completely destroying a third. A police officer spotted the arsonist at the last location and arrested him on the spot. 

This was a companion presentation to his article in a recent edition of the Philalethes Magazine (Vol 76, No. 4)Wes’ presentation collected statistics from several different grand lodges across North America. Few grand secretaries have been keeping detailed records of these sorts of things over the years, but it is obvious that individual lodges have got to step up to the plate and install surveillance cameras, alarm systems, exterior lighting of parking lots and entrances, and other security precautions, because these mostly Internet-driven, conspiracy-stoked anti-Masons are showing no signs of letting up.

When a window or doorway gets bashed in, it’s often done by someone who started out by painting graffiti on the building. Police departments don’t usually have anti-Masons on their radar. They don’t commonly know that antis do exist in large numbers, and so authorities don’t usually correlate several different attacks as perhaps coming from the same person. As a former Scotland Yard officer in attendance brought up, this is very similar to the sorts of attacks made on Jewish synagogues. Anti-Mason’s often conflate us with their own theories of 'nefarious Jews' who all supposedly control the world behind the scenes. Because of this common connection among conspiracists, we may be seeing a slow increase in vandalism in conjunction with the anti-semitic and anti-Israel protests going on around the world.

Transgenderism and Freemasonry

An extremely thoughtful program about the issue of transgenderism and Freemasonry was presented by WBs Frank Fowlie and Shaun Turner, with a panel discussion moderated by Philip Durell. These brothers researched differences between gender policies enacted recently by the United Grand Lodge of England versus those in several different U.S. grand lodges. Some grand lodges in North America and elsewhere have recently added language to their petitions or within their constitutions, stating that Masons and new petitioners must be natural born men, and remain as such. In contrast, the UGLE was compelled by European Union laws and England’s own transgender anti-discrimination laws to get very specific about what lodges can and cannot do. Laws there kick in when an existing member decides to change gender to live as a woman, or when a petitioner comes to them who presents as a man, but was in fact born as a woman. It can lead to a serious legal tango.

Even though, from a statistical standpoint, the possible numbers of potential trans-person petitioners will likely be infinitesimally small, it is going to happen in the coming years (and already has in several jurisdictions). The question becomes, should a grand lodge adopt an official policy, or remain completely silent? In truth, silence may not always be possible into the future as states and countries enact more and more specific laws on the subject. In the absence of federal law, this will continue to be a local or state level issue and there will be no uniformity. Bear in mind that our ancient customs and usages within the fraternity still permit every Mason the right to vote his conscience when accepting or rejecting a petitioner, just as every Mason still has the right to object to the attendance of any visitor into his lodge.

One thing is certain; if a trans-person petitions a Masonic lodge and is turned down for membership, someone who is determined to be a crusading activist on the subject may very well take their story to the news media, which will not give a particular damn that individual lodges can administer their own by-laws and their own members as they see fit. The press will merely characterize it as "The Freemasons" turning away a trans-person membership. That could very easily mushroom into an ugly and noisy lawsuit, and worse, a noisome and destructive story in the press. 

As the panel discussion wound down, there was no conclusive answer, and there wasn’t meant to be one with this presentation. This was intended as an informational session to familiarize members with the terminology, the laws, and the potential issues involved. It was heartening to witness just how calmly and rationally the discussion was handled by everyone present. There was no chest-thumping, smart-assed commentary, or angry pronouncements against one point of view or another. My hat's off to the brethren who handled the conversation so reasonably.

Civility. Whatta concept.

Lodge Communication and Masonic Education

A presentation by Junior Grand Warden Ron Cawthra concerned the importance of lodge communication, mentoring, and using the many tools that the GLofBCY offers to lodges to help educate their new members. Every single year, every jurisdiction has a whole new class of Worshipful Masters and officers who have never heard about these programs before, or never paid attention to them until they actually got to the East. A grand lodge could (and should) present this exact same transfer of information, year after year, as it reaches an entirely new audience every time.

The Dummy Speaks

As the afternoon darkened into evening, they had no alternative left but to let me speak. I’ve decided to stop giving long talks because of my throat – several of our members have threatened to cut it. But somehow I made it through this time without any ensuing property damage, so I presume the brethren found it of value. 

The program concluded with an open Q&A session with Wes and me, and I was gratified to see that no one bolted for the doors. It was either our scintillating observations or everyone was too overstuffed and preoccupied with digesting their dinners to have the energy to flee the joint. That, or everybody's NyQuil kicked in at the some moment.

After the program ended,  Troy Spreeuw recorded an extended discussion for his Mystic Tye podcast featuring the presenters, along with a group of brethren visiting Vancouver from lodges in Seattle, Washington.

Vancouver Masonic Centre

Let me jump back a day to Friday. While I was flown in for the Saturday event, I had the day before to explore the Vancouver Masonic Centre before visiting two lodges there that evening. The VMC is an example of Masons acting together in concert to create a new modern facility that is every bit as impressive as our older buildings, but far more practical for the modern fraternity, as well as providing for the future. Working with local city planners and housing authorities, they have created a facility that is also of great service to the surrounding neighborhood. 

Yep. 3+5+7+ another 18 = 33 steps

Their original 1920s-era hall was too far gone to keep pumping money into, so they knocked it down, and worked with an architectural firm to design a modern hall with a future source of substantial income. 

The Masonic portion of the building features two large lodge meeting rooms; a very accomodating social gathering/seating club room; a bar featuring individual scotch lockers for members' use; a roomy board meeting/banquet table/library area perfect for medium-sized festive boards; a coat and apron case closet; a small museum display area; and even two carved stone, functioning fireplaces. All of this is compactly arranged on one single floor. 

Lounge/social area, with the bar in the background.
Those are members' private scotch lockers on the back wall.

Lounge area with working fireplace

Board room / festive board dining table with room for 24

Apron and coat closet

Upstairs is the grand lodge office and the library/archive/museum room.

On the first, fourth and fifth floors are social and dining spaces, including an open outdoor patio. They have their own in-house catering staff for handling meals. But it's what's behind all this that's the key to self-sufficiency. 

Sharing the underground car park and behind the fraternal building is a 21-story apartment building, which will provide income for decades to come. The Grand Lodge has one furnished 2-bedroom suite set aside for out of town visitors, traveling grand officers, or the occasional visiting Dummy.

I will do a separate story with more about this ambitious project. (The Westminster hall also has a similar setup behind its historically-protected facade, because good ideas have a way of spreading.) But I will say here that Masons in every city or town with one or more enormous Masonic buildings they can no longer afford need to travel to Vancouver and see what they've done. 

More of that anon.

I do want to thank the brethren of Vancouver's Southern Cross Lodge for their generosity and hospitality on Friday night. Southern Cross is a unique lodge within their jurisdiction because it is believed to be the only Masonic lodge in all of Canada that is permitted to work using Australian ritual. Getting to see this while I was here reminded me that I saw Pennsylvania ritual when I visited Scotland many years ago, English emulation ritual when I went to Ohio, and now Australian ritual when I came to Canada. 

Go figure.

Grand Lodge Library & Archives

WB Trevor McKeown, Grand Historian

This trip also presented me with the great fortune of spending time with Trevor McKeown, the Grand Historian of the GLofBCY, and curator of their Grand Lodge Library & Archives. I've long admired the enormous amount of work Trevor has done in creating and updating their incredible website over the last 25 years. If you do research on almost any topic involving the fraternity, sooner or later you'll hit a link to their website with its hundreds of entries. 

Currently, the Grand Lodge Library & Archives is tucked into a compact space in the building. But new custom cabinetry has been installed in a display area adjacent to the lodge rooms and the large social lounge on the lower floor, which will permit better lighting and more visible and accessible exhibits. To paraphrase a commandment, 'Thou shalt not covet thy Brother's display cases,' but I just can't hold back my envy. 

New custom display cases in the lobby. I only took pictures because
I want some now.
And don't get me started on their wall of moveable library stacks upstairs...

In the midst of the Friday night merriment, I also attended a business meeting of the Vancouver Lodge of Education and Research, in which Trevor is the Secretary.

Masonic Meetings themselves aren't where the best fraternal experiences are made; it's the before and after times that really count and forge real fraternal brotherhood. With that in mind, Secretary McKeown's report clocked in under 7 minutes, and the entire meeting was opened in due form, conducted and closed in form in a mere 12 minutes total.

Trevor will be honored in November by being installed in London as the Worshipful Master of England's Quatuor Coronati Lodge of Research, and local brethren are organizing a group excursion to be there with him for this event. Congratulations! (If you inclined to visit yourself, QC’s meetings are held at Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London, and start at 4.00 PM.

'Getta You Tootsie Frootsie!' - Groucho Marx (1937)

Trevor also knows where Vancouver's great restaurants are, along with the shop that has the distinction of being in the Guiness Book of World Records for having more flavors and varieties of ice cream than anywhere else on Earth. La Casa Gelato is at 1033 Venable Street, and 238 is the current flavor count, in case you were curious. Over its 40-year history, they've made 588. And I haven't had real gelato since visiting Italy many, many moons ago.

Thursday, June 06, 2024

Two Masonic Halls Destroyed in Rioting on Pacific Island of New Caledonia

by Christopher Hodapp

As reported on June 2nd on the Hiram.be website, two Masonic temples in the Ducos peninsula area of the Pacific island French territory of New Caledonia were destroyed by fire earlier this week. There has been widespread rioting going on across New Caledonia in recent weeks, especially in and around the capitol city of Noumea. It's difficult to ascertain if these two Masonic halls were the target of a specifically anti-Masonic arsonist, because there have been so many other fires set recently on shops, homes, factories, hospitals and churches around the region. 

At least 6 people have died in the riots since mid-May, and the sight of roadblocks and burning cars have been reported in the press. 

New Caledonia is a French-run island that sits about 700 miles east of Australia, and lodges of the three largest French grand lodges are at work there: Grand Orient de France (GOdF), Grand Loge de France (GLdF), and the more widely recognized Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF). 

The local mayor described Noumea as a "city under seige." More than 3,000 foreign tourists have been trapped there for weeks, and the airport has been closed. Between 600 and 1,000 French gendarmes were sent to New Caledonia last month to attempt to stop the ongoing violence.

NOTE: I'm uncertain which Masonic halls were actually destroyed. Area Masons, or French-speaking brethren — please help me fill in the details I don't have.

According to a letter posted by the Grand Orient's Grand Master Guillaume Trichard, (if I'm translating this right), there are 8 GOdF Masonic lodges at work in New Caledonia. His letter says the two destroyed halls are the Eugène Porcheron Masonic Temple and the Jean Unger Masonic Temple. 

Regardless of which lodges and under whose jurisdiction they fall, the damage to the two Masonic halls is shown on the clocherobecourt.com website HERE. One temple's burned out main lodge room can be seen in the photo at the top of this post.

The other destroyed Masonic hall's gutted lodge room in the photo below:

No word yet about potential suspects.

During World War II, New Caledonia's Ducos peninsula was home to an important allied naval base at the port near the capital city of Noumea. All of the island's inhabitants hold French citizenship. While there have been several attempts to split from France in recent decades, at least three independence resolutions have failed by slim majorities. The current clashes are between pro-France and pro-Independence supporters.

(All photos from https://www-clocherobecourt.com)

Sunday, June 02, 2024

175th Anniversary Edition of Macoy's Classic Monitor

by Christopher Hodapp

Hard to believe, but Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply is entering its 175th anniversary of serving the Craft. That's pretty amazing for any company, but especially one that has such a narrow niche of customers. To celebrate, their first project is a reprint of a Masonic classic: the 175th Anniversary Edition of (Robert) Macoy's Masonic Monitor. 

This edition has been thoroughly edited and formatted by Kansas Past Grand Master and author Michael Halleran, and its more than 300 illustrations have been painstakingly cleaned up. The hardback covers are being individually gold stamped in-house at Macoy using the same hand-carved wooden dies that were created for the original 1867 edition. 

The company has literally hundreds of these illustration dies created for their oldest books that were painstakingly carved by craftsmen in the 1800s using the tiniest of precision carving blades and magnifying glasses at a time long before the introduction of electricity. Macoy's also refurbished a mid-1800s letter press in order to print limited edition bookmark cards for this special book, using its own custom-carved wooden die.

In the video above, Macoy owner Steve McCall explains the difference between a Masonic monitor versus a ritual, and a brief history of the development of monitors that led to Robert Macoy's version in the 1850s. And if you've never known how a hardback book gets manufactured with a complex, artistic gold-stamped cover, Steve explains it. 

Macoy's has made a limited edition of just 750 copies of this book, and some 400 have already been sold. So act now! At just $29.95 (cheap!) they'll go fast! 

To order, CLICK HERE.

Friday, May 24, 2024

BREAKING: Indiana's Immediate Past Grand Master Suspended Following Annual Meeting

by Christopher Hodapp

(NOTE: This story has been updated as of Tuesday, May 28, 2024 at 5:00AM, adding details of PGM Brinley's Masonic background.)

Less than 24 hours after his installation as the newest grand master of the Grand Lodge F&AM of IndianaMW Grand Master David G. Morgan (2024-25) has suspended the Immediate Past Grand Master (2023-24), Gary E. Brinley, from the fraternity in Indiana, effective until the 2025 Annual Communication next May. The suspension is for un-Masonic conduct by Brinley during the discharge of his duties as Grand Master, up to and including during Tuesday's Annual Communication, along with his recent actions behind the scenes regarding candidates for election to the grand line

The ink was barely dry on the annual meeting's minutes before the suspension was issued on 

Guests unfamiliar with the rules and customs of the Grand Lodge F&AM of Indiana may not have guessed that anything was particularly amiss at Tuesday's meeting at the Indianapolis Scottish Rite Cathedral. But longtime Grand Lodge watchers and insiders were appalled at accusations levelled by Brinley in his widely circulated Grand Master's Address. His written address implied improper conduct on the part of several Masons and the office staff. 

To a wide range of Masons, he made what looked like un-Masonic and unsubstantiated attacks on at least three grand line officers, making allusions to financial improprieties that, for the most part, amounted to little more than minor differences between CPAs over accounting methods, especially office policies about personal credit card use and reimbursement methods. 

Brinley may have violated both written and unwritten (but longstanding) rules and customs of election conduct by altering the agenda to manipulate the election. Several sources characterized it as 'reverse-electioneering' to thwart the election rules and insert his own favored candidates onto the ballot at the last minute. 

(Unlike some grand lodges that allow for open competition for grand officer positions, Indiana's written and unwritten rules and procedures expressly forbid grand officer nominations from the floor, electioneering of any kind, or even mentioning during a meeting that someone is actively seeking a position. These are all the same rules that individual Indiana lodges must follow in their elections. The grand lodge must abide by them, as well. The new Junior Grand Deacon is appointed by each newly elected Grand Master, and he then advances up the line each year.)

The Grand Lodge undergoes a major audit every year by a highly-regarded outside firm, which has not raised red flags over the years over the policies Brinley seemed to zero in on. Brinley is himself a CPA at an Indiana bank that holds many of the accounts of the Grand Lodge. So, armed with the issues he raised, he spent the week before the annual meeting asking numerous past grand masters and others for methods to push his own two favored candidates for Grand Secretary and Grand Treasurer onto the ballot. Right up until he finished reading a strategically edited version of his address in which he left out his allegations, half the members in the audience feared there was going to be a full-blown battle on the floor.

But if there had been any question as to the sentiment of the voting members of the Grand Lodge on Tuesday, when the re-elections of Rick Elman as Grand Secretary and Ken Willis as Grand Treasurer, and especially the election of Randy Seipel as Deputy Grand Master, were announced, the applause was loud and sustained.

Historically, Indiana's Annual Communication meeting has lasted at least two days, practically ever since its formation in 1818. In the aftermath of COVID lockdowns, it was decided to dramatically reduce costs by dropping the meeting to a single day of business. But Tuesday's long session ended with more than half of its 24 pieces of Grand Master recommendations and proposed legislation left unaddressed, forcing them to be bumped to 'Unfinished Business' for May 2025. While that aspect of the meeting likely has little or nothing to do with Brinley's suspension, it certainly left many voting members with a bad taste in their mouths.

Gary Brinley was appointed Junior Grand Deacon by RW Rodney A. Mann, PGM, in 2017 and moved through the progressive Grand Lodge line. He was elected and installed as the 172nd Grand Master of Indiana on May 16, 2024.

The immediate result of Brinley's suspension from the fraternity removes him from the Grand Lodge Trustees line, which supervises the Indianapolis Masonic Temple/Indiana Freemasons Hall, a role traditionally filled by the immediate past grand master. Presumably, a  new GL Trustee will be appointed by GM Morgan.

PGM Gary Brinley's lives in Bloomington, Indiana, and prior to his suspension, was a member of Ellettsville Lodge 245. Originally from Greenville, Ohio (about 20 miles east of Winchester, Indiana), he began his Masonic life in that state, and still holds a dual membership there today. He was raised as a Master Mason in 1985 at Fort Black Lodge 413 in New Madison, Ohio, serving as their Worshipful Master in 1990. (Fort Black Lodge has since merged with Greenville Lodge 143.)

Despite a common misconception, a Mason's suspension or expulsion in ONE grand lodge or appendant body does NOT necessarily mean any or all Masonic grand governing bodies or jurisdictions will automatically follow suit. In other words, suspension from one doesn't necessarily mean suspension or expulsion from ALL bodies. It's unclear for the moment whether or not the Grand Lodge of Ohio will honor GM Morgan's suspension of Brinley in Indiana, and suspend him there as well; or if they will wait until the outcome of any Masonic trial or a decision by Indiana's Grievances & Appeals Committee next May. 

Also unclear is how this might affect his appendant body memberships in the York Rite, the Scottish Rite (NMJ), the Shrine and others. Brinley has served as the Thrice Potent Master (the greatest Masonic officer title, ever!) of the Indianapolis Valley of the Scottish Rite's Northern Jurisdiction, where he has also served as Trustee and Treasurer; he was coroneted a 33° Scottish Rite Mason in 2010. Nationally, he has been serving as Secretary General of the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis for several years. 

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 COGMNA’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. However, the Conference President and its voting members have the right to deny any grand lodge the privilege of ongoing participation and attendance in their annual meetings.

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: