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


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Eblen's Cave Degree Weekend August 15-16, 2008

Union Lodge #38, F. & A. M. of Kingston Tennessee, announces the 37th annual Eblen's Cave Degree Weekend, August 15-16, 2008. This annual event just gets bigger every year, and draws visitors from all over the country. This year's degree will be the Entered Apprentice degree, and will be conferred with North Carolina ritual, performed by Creasy-Proctor Lodge #679, from Fayetteville, N.C.

A Masonic degree is conferred every year in Eblen's Cave, a natural cave that can comfortably hold 300 people. It is located 8 miles east of Kingston on the Clayton Brashears farm. Over the years, degrees have been presented by lodges from Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Delaware, California, Florida, Mississippi, Kansas, North and South Carolina, Virginia, Ohio and Maryland.

Speaking in Alexandria, VA 7/19/08

Alice, Wiley the Wonder Poodle and I will be packing up the Dummkopfwägon and heading to Virginia in July.

The Grand Lodge of Virginia is offering three Grand Master's Masonic Education seminars around the state in 2008. The programs will be held Saturday, July 12th at the Richmond Scottish Rite Center; Saturday, July 19th at the Alexandria Scottish Rite; and Saturday, August 23rd at the Roanoke Scottish Rite. At each location, the venue will open at 8AM, and the first speaker will be at 9AM.

The featured speakers will be W:.B:. Mark Tabbert ("American Freemasons: Past, Present and Future"), W:.B:. W. Kirk MacNulty (“The Secret Identity of Masons”), and W:.B:. S. Brent Morris (“Itinerant American Masonic Lecturers”).

Friend and brother Mark Tabbert is, unfortunately, unable to be at the Alexandria program on July 19th, so I will be filling in for him. My topic will be "Our Laudable Pursuit: Masonry's Challenges & Opportunities."

Many thanks to organizer Kerry Kirk and Grand Master Edmund Cohen for their kind invitation. I'm looking forward to meeting brethren from Virginia.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Vermont Mason's Daughter Missing

From ABC news yesterday comes this story of the daughter of a Brother Mason:

The search for a 12-year-old girl who police fear may have been taken by someone she met online has triggered the state of Vermont to issue its first Amber Alert.

Brooke Bennett of Braintree, Vt., has been missing since 9 a.m. Wednesday, when an uncle dropped her at a Cumblerand Farms convenience store in nearby Randolph. The girl had told her family she was being picked up by a female friend to visit the friend's relative at a hospital just across the state line in New Hampshire.

But that apparently never happened.

Authorities now believe the story was a lie concocted by Brooke to conceal her real plan: an arrangement to meet up with someone she had met online, perhaps, her father thinks, through the social networking Web site MySpace. "Through investigation it was learned that Ms. Bennett was communicating with an unknown individual online," the Vermont State Police wrote in a lengthy press release that accompanied the Amber Alert announcement.

Surveillance footage from the Cumberland Farms store, which police have so far declined to release, showed the girl being dropped off. Instead of meeting the friend, she is seen walking away from the store, alone, toward the village of Randolph, police say.

She was not reported missing by family members until 9 p.m. Wednesday night.

Early Thursday, clothing similar to what the girl had been wearing was recovered in Brookfield, 10 miles north of Randolph.

The discovery triggered an intense ground search of the area by the state police search and rescue team and dogs from two different departments. "The items have been sent to the Vermont Forensic Laboratory for examination," according to the release.

Dive teams will search Sunset Lake today, a body of water near where the clothing was found, according to the State Police .

Fliers featuring Bennett's image have been posted in towns throughout the rural stretch of Vermont by police and volunteers.

They have not yet determined who Brooke may have been talking to online, but they are looking at Brooke's computer . "Members of the Computer Crime Unit are currently examining the computer used by Ms. Bennett in an attempt to isolate and identify whom she was speaking with online before being reported missing."

Authorities announced the Amber Alert yesterday afternoon, 18 hours after Brooke was reported missing and more than 30 hours after she was last seen. In the interim, police were able to gather enough information to meet the necessary criteria for an Amber Alert designation. In this case, it was the fact that she may have had a relationship online with an unknown person.

Brooke's father, Brother James Bennett, is the Junior Warden of White River Lodge #90.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Askmen.com: 5 Things You Didn't Know About The Freemasons

The popular AskMen.com website has a concise, no-nonsense article today - 5 Things You Didn't Know About The Freemasons:

Freemasonry is the perfect example of how presumed secrecy “injures” those not privy to the secret: Exclusion is an insult, and those not in the know must learn the secret -- or else they get creative with the truth. Thus since their conventional establishment in 1717, Freemasons have been a whipping boy for paranoids...


Freemasons do not send representatives to foreign countries hoping to save your soul, nor do they meter your body for “areas of concern.” They have no official publication or doctrinal book, no special oversight authority. From one to the next -- Swedish Rite, Scottish Rite, sponsored youth service organizations like Job’s Daughters International, DeMolay International FDC (of which Mickey Mouse is an honorary member), and on -- they have differing signs, symbols and rituals while following a shared set of very basic principles.

Freemasons might be the only subject of these AskMen.com features that aren’t searched enough, if only so that people would stop and learn something about them first. Then they can join the anti-Masonic nut-job legion and point their crooked finger at Freemasonry for its role in the Gunpowder Plot, Pearl Harbor, Watergate, 9-11, or whatever else you’ve got.

The world will always have miserable people in it. Miserable people need to blame others for their misery, and who better than a loose confederacy of do-gooders gathered around precepts like wisdom, strength and beauty? Francis Bacon said that it is the “solecism to power, to think to command the ends and yet not to endure the means.” So, if you want to know and you just have to know, join a lodge.

For some members of the public that’s asking way too much of them, they just want to be told.

So, thanks to that unearned sense of entitlement, we suspect the public’s interest in Freemasons will continue unabated until that fraternal conspiracy ends its bid for global domination. Since they will first have to start it, we may be here a while.

It's so unusual to read something in the press that is truthful about the fraternity, and even more unusual to see two in the same week (see Good Magazine). It's turning into a pretty good week after all.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Robbery at AASR Valley of Chicago


TO: All Scottish Rite Valleys & Masonic Organizations
FROM: The Valley of Chicago, AASR, NMJ, USA
DATE: Monday, June 23, 2008
RE: Stolen Masonic Jewels and Other Historic Paraphernalia

On Sunday, June 22, 2008, between 2:00 am and 4:00 am, the office of the Valley of Chicago, along with several other offices located in the building that we are temporarily operating from until the development of our new headquarters is complete, was burglarized. As of this morning, upon discovery of the burglary, the proper law enforcement agencies have been notified.

During the burglary, our secured vault was compromised. As a result, many of the Valley’s precious metals and historic jewels were taken. Among those items removed from the vault include, but are not limited to:

Past Presiding Officer Jewels of the Lodge of Perfection; Council Princes of Jerusalem; Rose Croix; and Consistory; each inscribed “Property of AASR – Valley of Chicago” and properly numbered;
33º Member Jewels;
Diamond Membership Pins;
Dudley and Elgin Masonic Watches;
Lapel Pins, Oriental Consistory;
Past Presiding Officer Jewels from various Grand York Rite Bodies;
Past Master Jewels from various Masonic Lodges; and
Other Masonic Jewelry and Historic Metals.

Should you happen to come across any suspicious items, on Ebay or other auction sites for example, please contact Gregory R. Klemm, MSA, 33º, at (800) 774-3467, ext. 302, or at gregoryklemm@aol.com.

As a result of this burglary, a great deal of Masonic history has been compromised. Your assistance in helping us to recover that history is greatly appreciated.

Irish Masonophobia

The Irish Celtic band, The Corrs, had a brief moment of popularity after their appearance at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Since then it's been a slow slide into obscurity. After touring or rubbing noses with Celine Dion, Bono, Pavarotti, the Spice Girls, and having their 2000 album, In Blue, go platinum in the US, life's gotten quiet for the band.

Corrs' guiatrist Jim Corr has decided that music can't change the world fast enough, so a life of politics may be in his future. In a Bellfast Telegraph article today he sets out his political pet peeves. He's against microchipping people (what government is doing that, again?), genetically modified food, and the EU's Lisbon Treaty (scuttled last week by Irish voters).

Oh, and the Masons:

"There are a large number of secret societies in our government, we certainly know that. The push towards global government totally correlates with the Freemasonic agenda.

"The way it works is that once they see a rising star, let's say a politician, they're approached, as a couple of my friends have been approached, because they would see you as an asset to the brotherhood.

"Tony Blair is a 33rd degree Freemason. That's fairly common knowledge. The Queen is grand patroness of the World Freemasonry. Silvio Berlusconi is a high level Freemason. President George Bush is a member of the Skull and Bones, the Yale secret society, which is an off-shoot of the Freemasons."

He also believes 9/11 was an inside job.

The trouble with being the only guy in a band with your three hottie sisters is that nobody pays any attention to you. Corr is separated from his former fiancée Gayle Williamson, but he makes frequent trips to Belfast to visit their son Brandon. He said the birth of his child last year played a major a part in his political awakening.

"When you have children there is an extension of you into the future. You think, hang on, this may not affect me but what on earth is it going to be like for my children? You start to ask questions."

With every single statement about Freemasonry in his interview wrong, perhaps he needs to do a bit more boning up on the books before hitting the stump.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Good Magazine: Shadowy Organizations That Rule the World

This month's issue of the offbeat GOOD Magazine features a guide to the Shadowy Organizations That Rule the World. The usual suspicious groups are represented - Freemasons, Tri-Lats, Bildergergers, Bohemian Grovers, Skull & Bones, and the Davos cabal - but with a healthy dose of reality for a change.

The series was penned by Philadelphia author Matt Schwartz, who scuttles his creds right up front by admitting to being both Jewish and a Freemason. Everybody knows that gives him a first class ticket on Beelzebub's Satanic World Domination Bus Tour.

GOOD Magazine was founded in 2004, along with a documentary film division called Reason Pictures.

Seriously, nice job, Brother Schwartz.

Italy: Operation Hiram Links Mafia to "Masons"

The Italian Press is breathlessly reporting the arrest of "prominent" Freemasons as part of a Mafia crackdown in Palermo.

In a story from June 17th:

Eight 'prominent' arrests were made by the police of Trapani and Agrigento last night, the conclusion of an investigation by the Anti-mafia District Department of Palermo into attempts to slow down legal proceedings against members of the mafia with the help of members of the Freemasonry. One of the arrested is Michele Accomando, entrepreneur in Mazara del Vallo (Trapani), already arrested in 2007, charged with mafia membership. The man is member of the loggia "Gran Serenissima" of the Freemasonry of Trapano. An official of the Finance Ministry working in Agrigento, Calogero Licata was also arrested, as well as a businessman from Agrigento, Nicola Sorrentino, and an employee of the Court of Cassation, Guido Peparaio, employee of the registrar's office of the second penal section of the Court of Cassation. But according to the investigators the key figure is another arrested, the Roman wheeler-dealer Rodolfo Grancini.

According to another article,

The probe is investigating alleged collusion between Mafia bosses and members of masonic lodges to delay trials pending at Italy's court of cassation.

Under Italy's statute of limitations, cases automatically lapse after a certain period of time if the trial has not been completed.

Of course, the irregular and unrecognized "Freemasonry of Trapano" has nothing to do with the three competing primary grand lodges in Italy - the Grand Orient of Italy (in amity with most mainstream US GLs), the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy (in amity with the UGLE), or the Grand Lodge of Italy (in amity with the Grand Orient of France). According to Brother Aristide Luca Ceccanti, this "Gran Serenissima" is one of more than 60 different bogus groups that make up just 5% of Italy's Freemasons. But the Italian press still refers to the P2 lodge as "Freemasons" even when they know better, so it shouldn't be a surprise. Freemason-bashing still sells papers in Italy.

Other reports are referring to the arrests as part of "Operation: Hiram." Senator Giuseppe Lumia was quoted as saying, "There is a perverse relationship between the Mafia and capillary and sectors of Freemasonry in our country, but every time this button is tapped, there was, even in the media, a strange conspiracy of silence, even by the police. The mafias are powerful because of their ability to pollute and weaving relationships with other central powers, among them these secret lodges. The next Anti-Mafia Commission should investigate this connection with courage and rigour..."

Ohio Bicentennial Rolls On Saturday 6/21

“From Whence We Came – Pioneers plant the seeds of the Buckeye State,” by Washington, D.C. artist Peter Waddell and commissioned by the Grand Lodge of Ohio.

Ohio's Freemasons continue to celebrate their bicentennial in a very big way.

On Saturday, June 21, a grand procession will start at 10 a.m. from the Ohio Historical Society on Nationwide Boulevard in downtown Columbus, heading south on High Street, for a cornerstone laying ceremony at the Ohio Statehouse. Some 3,500 people are expected to take part.

Following the ceremony, shuttles will take participants to the Ohio Historical Society's Ohio Village for a picnic and 19th-century-style baseball game.

Other events will continue to take place this year. On July 4, an official marker will be placed at the grave of Ohio's first Grand master, Rufus Putnam, in Marietta. In September, a time capsule will be buried in Springfield. And during the week of Ohio's annual communication, October 16-18, there will be an exposition of historical artifacts on display at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus.

For more information about the Grand Lodge of Ohio's bicentennial celebrations this year, visit the Web site www.freemason.com or contact Chad Simpson at 800-292-6092.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Appeal For Assistance from GM of Iowa

Iowa has been hammered this year by one weather catastrophe after another, and the floodwaters continue to destroy lives, homes and businesses. My friend MWBro. Don Mosier, Grand Master of Iowa has issued an official appeal for assistance from his flood-ravaged state:

As you are all aware, Iowa has been severely affected by damaging weather this year. After enduring the record ice and snow storms of winter, we all looked forward to the respite of Spring, only to face unbelievable devastation from first tornados, and now widespread flooding.

The towns of Parkersburg and New Harford, along with other communities were nearly destroyed by the EF5 tornado on May 25. Several Iowa Masons were directly affected by this storm, suffering both personal injury and the destruction of their homes and property. Other tornados and high winds damaged Lodge property in Knoxville. And now, widespread deluges of rain and record river levels are creating havoc in cities and towns across the state, flooding homes, closing businesses, and forcing general evacuation.

Iowa Masons are known for their generosity. Their response to this devastation has been terrific and heart-warming. Some Lodges have opened their doors to house displaced families. Individual Masons have volunteered their labor for community cleanup and sandbagging efforts. I applaud these efforts. Many more have called or written to ask how they can contribute monetarily to aid those affected by this series of devastating events. I urge you and your Lodge to participate in this effort.

Please send all donations, large or small, directly to

Grand Lodge of Iowa
PO Box 279, Cedar Rapids
IA 52406-0279

All funds received will be placed in the Grand Master’s Emergency Fund, for distribution to those needing assistance. Priority assistance will be given to Iowa Lodges and Iowa Masons suffering from the effects of weather related damage.

If you know of any individuals or Lodges who have directly experienced injury, loss, or other damage, please send that information to the Grand Lodge as well so they can be considered for assistance.

On behalf of those unfortunates who will aid from this assistance, I thank you in advance for your generosity.

Sincerely and Fraternally,
Donald E. Mosier
Grand Master of Masons in Iowa

Wbro. Theron Dunn's Memorial This Saturday 6/21

A reminder that the Memorial Service for Wbro. Theron Dunn will be this Saturday, June 21st, at 2PM at the Masonic Temple at 2313 S. Main St., Corona, CA

The following message came today from WBro. John Cover Spear, Worshipful Master of Moreno Valley Lodge 804:

The Late Brother Theron Dunn's family are having difficulty finding the Insurance our Brother thought to exist. A fund has been set up to assist the family in funeral and other expenses in the coming months. I am asking that each of our Lodges ascertain if there is a donation that can be made to the following fund:

This fund was set up by Theron's Brother, James for the purpose:

Theron Dunn Memorial Fund
Washington Mutual Bank
All checks should be payable to “Barbara Dunn”
22882 Giant Fir Place
Canyon Lake, CA 92587

Thanks so much for consideration.

Magic Happens...if you do something!!!
Sincerely & Fraternally,

John Cover Spear, PM
Master of Moreno Valley Lodge 804
Royal Patron of Mission Bell Court 156, Order of the Amaranth
Grand Lodge Long Range Planning Committee Member

Happy Juneteenth

Happy Juneteenth - African American Emancipation Day.

First observed in Galveston, Texas in 1865, I'd never heard of it until my native Texan boss of many years introduced it to me.

For more information go to http://www.juneteenth.com

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Book Bargain

Only the publishing Gods understand why some books go on sale and others don't.

Out of the blue, I noticed today that Amazon has slashed the price of Conspiracy Theories & Secret Societies For Dummies down to a paltry $11.29. I will confess that's cheaper than I can buy it from the publisher myself. And if you order over $25 worth of stuff at one time, the order is eligible for free shipping.

They are also doing a package deal with Templar Code For Dummies, both books for $24.88.

I have lots of time to stare into the intertubes today.

My doctor informs me I have pneumonia.

This thrills me to my very core.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Vatican Fights 'Angels & Demons'

The Vatican has prevented the production company shooting Dan Brown's Angels & Demons from filming on its grounds or in any Catholic church in Rome, describing the work as “an offence against God”. (Some might argue an offense against literature, others an offense against film, or in its final chapters, an offense against the laws of physics, but let's not quibble). The film is the prequel to Brown's The Da Vinci Code, and stars Tom Hanks again as Robert Langdon, with Ron Howard directing.

The Times of London reports:

Angels and Demons, the latest Dan Brown thriller to be turned into a film, includes key episodes that take place in the Vatican and Rome’s churches. Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, the head of the Vatican’s Prefecture for Economic Affairs, said that Brown had “turned the gospels upside down to poison the faith”.

“It would be unacceptable to transform churches into film sets so that his blasphemous novels can be made into films in the name of business,” he said, adding that Brown’s work “wounds common religious feelings”.

Father Marco Fibbi, a spokesman for the Diocese of Rome, said: “Normally we read the script but this time it was not necessary. The name Dan Brown was enough.”

- SNIP -

Angels and Demons revolves around a plot by a sinister elite known as the Illuminati to install their candidate as Pope and blow up the Vatican. Crucial scenes are set in the Vatican and two Rome churches — Santa Maria del Popolo and Santa Maria della Vittoria. In both churches, cardinals are murdered and mutilated with mysterious marks and symbols. Father Antonio Truda, parish priest at Santa Maria del Popolo, said that there was no question of allowing scenes to be shot there. “It’s bad enough having to put up with tour guides explaining the scene to tourists,” he said.

New York, Meet West Virginia

The situation in West Virginia concerning PGM Frank Haas has made the New York Times today, in a disappointingly sneering piece by columnist Dan Barry. In a story that stumbles through the story of Frank's expulsion from Freemasonry in West Virginia, Barry takes swipes and potshots at the fraternity throughout the piece.

"Masonry’s adherence to closed-door ritual may intrigue conspiracy theorists. Its diminishing ranks and relevance may cause smiling feminists to say, Knock yourselves out, boys. And its taste for pompous honorifics and ornate regalia may conjure images of solemn men with arms interlocked: Laurel and Hardy meet Babbitt."

Oh, my sides.

Barry characterizes the fraternity as "grand high exalted mystic boobery." I suspect he would be rankled at a fellow columnist who characterized his own Catholic faith and practices in a less than respectful manner, but I guess you can't pass for a hip sophisticate in Manhattan unless your columns contain the right amount of high-sounding cynicism - nothing new about that. His regular column, The Land, is a weekly romp across America, an assembly of "human interest" tales, allowing Park Avenue New Yorkers to peer at the rest of us oddities out in flyover country over their Ketel One vodka gimlets. Unfortunately for Barry, the Algonquin Round Table stopped taking new members long ago.

Now that I've sufficiently flogged the messenger, there's no getting around the situation that West Virginia Masonry's dirty linen has made the nation's "paper of record."

Note that the Grand Master of West Virginia pointedly did not respond to the questions of a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter. Stonewalling might have worked on thorny topics for a couple of centuries. But the internet, combined with new interest in Freemasonry, is shining a light up the fraternity's skirts and exposing our shortcomings to the public.

Then there was the matter of race. The Ancient, Free and Accepted lodges in West Virginia not only have no black members, they maintain no contact with the state’s separate and predominantly black Masonic fraternities, called Prince Hall lodges. “It’s not just nonrecognition,” Mr. Haas says with frustration. “It’s hostility.”

In October 2006, at the annual statewide meeting of the Grand Lodge in Wheeling, when his tenure was about to end, Mr. Haas presented a bloc of amendments designed to modify rules that no longer made sense (if they ever did). For instance, since lodges in other states had black members, he proposed the radical idea that “qualified visiting brethren may not be excluded from attendance if race is a factor.”

The changes, called the Wheeling reforms, overcame significant resistance and were passed by a close vote. Mr. Haas then handed his gavel to a successor, who promptly set aside the reforms on procedural grounds.

We wanted more members, greater visibility and renewed interest in Masonry.

Well, we got it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

On The Road: Detroit 6/14; Columbus 6/24

I'll be speaking in Detroit at the Detroit Masonic Temple on Saturday, June 14th, at 2PM, as the guest of Austin Lodge No. 48. If you're in the vicinity, stop in and say hello.

And on June 24, 2008 I'll be in Columbus, Ohio at University Lodge No. 631, speaking at their Feast of St. John Dinner. It will be at the Northwest Masonic Center, 2436 West Dublin Granville Road.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Oregon's Esoterika Lodge Receives Charter

Wbro. William Isabelle reports from the far-flung climes of the northwest that Esoterika Lodge, U.D. A.F. & A.M. of Oregon has received their Charter to work as Esoterika Lodge No. 227. The MWGM of the Grand Lodge of Oregon will Consecrate the Lodge and install their charter officers in July.

The Oregon lodge shares its name with its sister lodge in Washington State, Esoterika Lodge No. 316. Both are Traditional Observance-styled lodges.

Congratulations, brethren!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Normal, Illinois Temple to Face Wrecking Ball

Murdering Our Own Posterity Chapter MCMLVI...

The papers in Normal, Illinois are reporting that the Masons have sold their venerable downtown Temple to the city for $500,000. They cite interior steps as the reason their older members can't attend lodge anymore.

The 256 members pay $65 in dues, and the lodge secretary says it would be a hardship for older members to pay more.

That's less than 18¢ a day, or $5.42 a month.

It seems that selling their landmark building, designed by noted Illinois architect Arthur L. Pillsbury, and constructed lovingly by their forefathers was a better deal than raising their dues or asking for donations to add an elevator. It will be knocked down for a "mixed use" building.

No news on what modern, utilitarian edifice is planned by the lodge for the descendants of Hiram and Solomon's Builders.

Not picking on them. They're only the latest.

Ireland, the European Union and the Freemasons

European politics have always bewildered Americans, although I suppose it's no less perplexing to Europeans to keep track of our 50 statewide races, political perfidy, and regional shenanigans. Still, the European Union added an odd layer of twists over the top of Europe's already fractious, multi-party alliances and feuds.

The EU has made changes to its overarching constitution with a document known as the Lisbon Treaty, and the changes must be ratified by every nation in the Union in order to pass. In most countries, that was a rubber stamp with little or no public input. The Netherlands and France held referendum votes to pretend they were taking the pulse of their population - both received "NO" majorities at the polls, but Dutch and French officials knew what was "best" and ratified the Treaty anyway over the pesky, non-binding will of their own people.

Tomorrow, it comes down to Ireland.

It seems that tiny Ireland has a provision in its own constitution that requires the Lisbon Treaty to be ratified by a vote of the people. It is apparently the only country in the EU that has such a provision. And while Ireland has benefitted immeasurably from its membership in the EU (zooming from being one of the poorest member nations to the second richest after Luxembourg), there is a chance that out of 350,000 voters, the fate of the entire EU's constitution will come down to a few thousand Irish voters, and who bothers to show up at the polls on June 12th. The EU requires a unanimous vote of its members to ratify constitutional changes, and Ireland is bound by its own constitution to bow to the will of its voters (What a concept!). Latest polling figures are Yes 41%, No 33%, Undecided 26%. But similar numbers in another referendum in 2001 wound up going to the "No" side, so there are some who are very nervous.

Most labor unions and political parties are in favor of the Lisbon Treaty, but the No side has a few powerful, or at least noisy, friends. Sinn Fein is the only serious political party on the No side, along with a couple of multi-millionaire Eurosceptics. Ruth Dudley Edwards writes in today's Spectator online:

I haven’t seen so many confusing posters since Beirut in the early 1990s. They are layered on every lamppost in Dublin. The Yes lobby’s contributions are pious and vacuous and unwisely have photographs of politicians – an unpopular group at the moment. ‘Europe. Let’s be at the heart of it’ urges the Fine Gael offering, which features the EPP-ED cute little logo of stars inside a heart. ‘Good for Ireland Good for Europe’ say Fianna Fail. ‘Vote Yes for jobs, the economy and Ireland’s future’ beg the Irish Business and Employers Federation.

The No stuff is much more fun, emanating as it does from innumerable mostly obscure groups many of which hate each other: Sinn Fein (‘People died for your freedom. Don’t throw it away’) and the capitalist-backed Libertas (‘Keep Ireland strong in Europe. Vote No) are on non-speak(ing terms with each other). The messages are pitched at a wide range of constituencies: ‘Lisbon It’ll cost you’; ‘Follow the French and Dutch. Vote No’, and my favourite, which features three monkeys: ‘The new EU – won’t see you, won’t hear you, won’t speak to you’.

An unnamed taxpayer has funded newspaper advertisements denouncing the treaty as ‘God-excluding foolish Freemason determined.’

Natch. Of course we're behind it all.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Masons Drum Up Members Among Boston Rockers

Worshipful brother J.R. Roach and the brethren of Cambridge Amicable Lodge

Last week, the LA Times covered Freemasonry's growth among LA's young men. This week, it's Boston. From today's Boston Herald:

Stodgy lodges, traditional initiations and secret handshakes would seem to be the antithesis of punk rock.

But a diverse group of Hub rockers are embracing centuries-old fraternal ideals to become the new face of the Freemasons in Boston.

“It’s not a religion, and it’s definitely not a cult,” said J.R. Roach, drummer for Sam Black Church and bassist for The Men, who also is master of the Masons’ Cambridge Amicable Lodge. “Everything is supposed to be dignified. There’s no hazing. We’re all brothers. It’s a movement for guys trying to find a deeper meaning in their lives.”

A new breed of Freemasons has surfaced locally, filling seats occupied for decades by community leaders, politicians and executives. Some join because their fathers or grandfathers were Masons. Others come for the male camaraderie or the intellectual challenge. And some simply want to get out of the house and go somewhere other than a rock club.

“It’s kind of like a history class that no one else can take,” said Dave Norton, drummer for Victory at Sea and The Men. He believes his membership in the fraternal organization will be especially rewarding when he tours Europe later this year.

“I can go anywhere in the world and find a brother,” he said.


“Some people just aren’t ready for it,” Norton said. “Any man can join. You just have to have the right reasons for it.”

Inside the Cambridge lodge, with its candelabras, velvet-covered pews, pipe organ and paintings of members past, members wear aprons indicating their level of enlightenment. Members meet monthly to discuss lodge business, which ranges from raising money for charities to electing leaders.

Gary Robley, drummer for Dashboard Jesus and J. Geils cover band Blow Your Face Out, said he joined because his father was a Mason, as are many of his friends.

“There were a bunch of musicians I knew in it,” Robley said. “It was kind of a brotherhood. Musicians have always been a part of Masonry since its inception.”

For Hank Peirce, a Unitarian minister and former roadie for hardcore band Slapshot, Masonry provided a safe haven when he went through a divorce.

“It’s important to have ‘men space,’ where we can talk about things going on in our lives,” he said. “The lodge is a sanctuary. When you’re here, you’re doing rituals that men have done for hundreds of years.”

West Virginia: The Continuing Crisis

The situation in West Virginia concerning the expulsion of MWBro. Frank Haas, PGM has moved to a new level. As reported last week in The Burning Taper (with the complete text of the complaint), Frank has filed suit against the Grand Lodge of West Virginia.

Today, the now public dispute made the Charleston papers.

From today's Daily Mail:

A former Freemason grand master is suing the West Virginia branch of the centuries-old fraternal organization and two members, alleging they defamed him after he pushed through less discriminatory and racist policies.

"These reforms and proposals were intended to rid Masonry in West Virginia of Orwellian, repressive, regressive and unconstitutional practices,'' Frank Joseph Haas alleges in his lawsuit, filed May 30 in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

Named as defendants are the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of the State of West Virginia Inc., Masons Charles F. Coleman II and Charlie L. Montgomery, and several John Does.

Haas says Coleman, who succeeded him as grand master, voided policy changes adopted in 2006, saying the vote to approve them was flawed.

Haas also accuses Montgomery of spearheading his expulsion from the organization in November.

Montgomery did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment, and no telephone listing could be found for Coleman.

The Masons is an international secret society that promotes brotherliness, charity and mutual aid.

Haas, an administrative law judge from Brooke County, alleges the defendants insinuated he was a liar, and by doing so harmed his standing in the community and hurt his reputation.

Haas, a Mason since 1986 who became grand master in October 2005, also alleges he was not given an opportunity to defend himself against the charges.

As a result of his expulsion, Haas cannot retire to the West Virginia Masonic Home nor have a Masonic funeral with other Masons serving as pallbearers, the lawsuit alleges.

Haas is seeking reinstatement as a Mason and to have any record of his expulsion expunged. His lawsuit also seeks unspecified damages.

The Charleston Gazette also covered the story, reading in part:

Haas' lawsuit offers a glimpse into the world of the Masons, a centuries-old organization that traces its roots back to the United Kingdom. While the society is not exactly secretive, it has often been veiled in mystery, as some of its customs and practices are not revealed to non-members.

Haas joined the Masonic Lodge in Wellsburg in 1986, four years after he earned his law degree from West Virginia University. After years of dedicated service, Haas became the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge in October 2005, the suit maintains.

As Grand Master, Haas tried to make the organization's policies less discriminatory and racist and more in line with the U.S. Constitution and the state's public policy, the suit contends.

"Haas' goal was to make Masonry more tolerant, friendly, decent and accepting of everyone regardless of nationality, race, religion or disability," the suit states

In October 2006, members of the Grand Lodge voted to adopt the progressive reforms put forward by Haas, the lawsuit alleges.

"These reforms and proposals were intended to rid Masonry in West Virginia of [its] Orwellian, repressive, regressive and unconstitutional practices," the lawsuit states.

In response, Coleman, who succeeded Haas as Grand Master, "almost immediately unilaterally entered various edicts rendering the progressive proposals voted on and adopted by a majority of Defendant Grand Lodge null and void," the suit claims.

Coleman justified his actions by claiming that the vote was invalid because of procedural errors, the suit alleges. But no Masons were punished for the alleged errors, and no further votes on the reforms have been allowed since, according to Haas.

Over the next year, Haas continued to speak out about the Grand Lodge's ethical, moral and legal obligations to reform its policies, the lawsuit maintains. . .

While it is not clear whether the court has the right to tell a private organization how to conduct its business, Haas maintains that the harm done to him outweighs the Grand Lodge's "interest in autonomy and freedom from judicial oversight."

PGM Haas is represented by Charleston attorney Robert Allen, who is described in the paper as a longtime Mason. With "secret letters" from the GM to WMs across the state, and expulsions happening across WVa over members' defense of Haas, one has to seriously wonder if Brother Allen's membership is now in danger for acting in his professional capacity.

A good friend of mine has described West Virginia as becoming the "North Korea of US Freemasonry," not just over this situation, but for some of the practices and rules that WBRro. Haas attempted to change almost two years ago. It is a sad situation all the way around, and unfortunately, much of it could have been avoided by quiet, reasoned counsel instead of public hangings and escalation of hostilities. In The Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce famously defined a lawsuit as "a machine which you go into as a pig and come out as a sausage." It is with no happiness that I fear that Freemasonry in West Virginia may be destined for its own seasoned sausage casing, unless this sad situation can be brought to a peaceful end by reasonable men.

Meanwhile, the tumult continues at West Virginia Masonic Crusade.

In Maxwell Anderson's screenplay for Ann of the Thousand Days, Sir Thomas More tells the king's lawyer Thomas Cromwell, "You may tell the King what he may do, and what he ought to do; but you must never tell the King what he can do. If he knew his true strength, it would be hard for any man to stop him."

There's a lesson there.

A Masonic Cottage in Indianapolis?

I'm back from Montana, and had a fantastic time with brethren in Great Falls. I had every intention of reporting in regularly, but the graphics card in my venerable iBook fried, so it looks like there will be a new MacBook in my not too distant future. More about the trip later.

Today's Indianapolis Star had the following story:

Welcome to the 19th century.

That's the subliminal message one gets both outside and inside Jenny Elkins and Ed Angleton's "folk cottage," built in 1893 in the Cottage Home neighborhood.

Cottage Home is one of the city's least-known neighborhoods, but it has much the same feel as Lockerbie -- late Victorian cottages with lots of clapboard siding and decorative, three-dimensional fretwork on the outside, plus fanciful wood doors and trim inside, as well as characteristically tall, narrow windows throughout.

The home has a generous allotment of stained-glass panels and inserts, but also plenty of modern updates, as one might expect in a home that has spanned five or six generations.

"The builder was a Freemason from France," said Elkins, a local artist. "We have what we believe are Masonic symbols all over the house -- the stars, the moons, triangles and circles."

The Cottage Home neighborhood is just west of Tech High School on the Near Eastside, an area that gradually has been making a comeback in recent years.

Read the rest here.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, and Conspiracy Theories

A month old, but Jesse Walker's April 24th piece, The Paranoid Style Is American Politics, on Reason.com makes the case that conspiracy theories have been around in American politics since 1776. And it has a great opener.

On Tuesday the lesbian assassin of Vince Foster won Pennsylvania's presidential primary. In the larger contest for the Democratic nomination, though, she still lags behind a jihadist sleeper agent who is simultaneously a secret Muslim, a secret Communist, and a secret Republican. Whoever wins their race will go on to face a brainwashed puppet of the Viet Cong, and whoever wins that race will then get on with the modern president's central task: serving the interests of Mexico. It must be true, I read it in my email.