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


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dummies on WXNT-AM Indianapolis Saturday 10/4

Alice Von Kannon and I will be guests on WXNT-AM 1430's Publisher's Notes this Saturday between noon and 1PM.
We'll be talking with show co-hosts Dave Caswell of New Century Publishing and WXNT morning talk show host Abdul-Hakim Shabazz.

Robert Burns Immortalized on Toilet Seat

The Selkirk Arms Hotel in Kirkcudbright, Scotland has long sought the proper manner to keep the spirit of famed Scottish poet and Mason Robert Burns burning bright. The hotel is where Burns' "The Selkirk Grace" was created in 1794, long a staple of Burns Night suppers the world over. So, to raise awareness of Scotland's bard and to remind customers of the hotel's connection to the prayer, the establishment's co-owners Chris Walker and Douglas McDavid have immortalized Burns' portrait and his short, to the point "Selkirk Grace" on the hotel's toilet seats.

In a BBC article, McDavid is quoted as saying, "We're so proud of the history attached to the Selkirk Arms and the fact that Robert Burns stayed in this very hotel. . . We need to tell the world that Burns' memory is alive and well and here in Kirkcudbright."

On a toilet seat. In the lav.

Now, patrons are urged to be reverently attentive whilst visiting the bog and riding the porcelain bus, and to contemplate Burns' prayerful prose,

"Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit."

Amen. For inspiration, it certainly beats, "We aim to please. You aim, too, please."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Are Dummies and Idiots Wrecking Freemasonry?

The latest edition of the Scottish Rite Research Society's collected papers, Heredom (Vol. 15), arrived while I was enjoying myself in Connecticut last week, and I picked it up over the weekend to savor its contents. It includes Stephen Dafoe's detailed and very important paper on the Morgan incident and the aftermath that led to the huge changes in the fraternity that followed in the wake of Morgan's disappearance—right up to the Baltimore Convention in 1843. Stephen's is a seminal work on the subject, collecting the episode together in a way that has not been done before. I urge Masons with an interest in the history of how and why US Freemasonry developed differently from the rest of the Masonic world to read this important work.

But the first article in Heredom is by Brother Josh Gresham Gunn (right), who currently teaches at the University of Texas at Austin. Brother Gunn's paper is "The Two Rhetorics of Freemasonry," and I urge you to read it in its entirety. This is the third incarnation I have read of this paper (one on his website in bits and pieces, once in a shortened article in the Scottish Rite Journal, and now this one). In all three versions, Brother Gunn has taken issue specifically with me and a passage I wrote in Freemasons For Dummies. He is not alone in having his hackles raised by the passage. I will not attempt to paraphrase his article—again, I urge you to read it for yourself. But I do want to respond to that part of his work that references me. The quote that Gunn and others find bothersome, offensive or otherwise irksome is this:
In your research about Freemasonry you will doubtless come across the writings of Albert Mackey, Manly Hall, Arthur Edward Waite, and Albert Pike. These men and many others have filled reams of paper with scholarly observations of Freemasonry. They eloquently linked the Craft to the ancient Mystery Schools of Egypt and elsewhere. They wrote that Masonry was directly descended from pagan rites and ancient religions. Some wrote that Masonry was the stepchild of magick, alchemy, and the shadowy mystics who dabbled in the world of the Kabala (Jewish mysticism) and in mysterious ancient writings like Hermes Trismigestes and the Key of Solomon. The works of these men were filled with fabulous tales of beliefs and cultures and cryptic theories of the deepest and earliest origins of Freemasonry. In short, they wrote a lot of crap. Guys like Pike and Mackey were incredible scholars and had dazzling intellectual and spiritual knowledge. Their works are both enlightening and frustrating, because they reach into obscure legends and beliefs and drag out what appears to be a lavish and alluring connection over a 3,000-year period to modern Freemasonry. Unfortunately, much of it is metaphysical wishful thinking. Sadly, they ignored the paper trail and documented evidence that exists in England and Scotland that really tells the story.
Freemasonry descended from the stonemason guilds and was taken over in the late 1600s by philosophers and men of science and learning. The Masons did not build cathedrals by using incantations to levitate stones. They did not cast spells to turn their enemies into stone gargoyles shaped as demons. They did not transmogrify base metals into gold to pay their wages. As Arthur C. Clarke has said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Geometry was not a sorcerer’s art — if it were, no one would be safe from an Advanced Placement high schooler with a calculator and a protractor.
Unfortunately, Pike, Mackey, and Hall were prolific. They wrote big, thick books that are in every Masonic library, so people who don’t understand their works to be Masonic folklore trot them out as experts, “noted” Masonic scholars, and long-dead spokesmen. The problem is that their writings are continually cited as “proof” of an occult connection to Masonry. Worse, their writings are often deliberately altered by the critics of the Craft, and Freemasons have to explain all over again to their relatives and ministers that, no, they aren’t reenacting the dismemberment of Osiris, making pagan sacrifices to Lucifer, stirring cauldrons, or worshiping goats. They were all well read on the wide variety of world religions and cultures, and their work on the subjects of symbolism and philosophy can be fascinating. But let’s just say their version of history of modern-day Freemasonry is not accurate and leave it at that. —Freemasons For Dummies
Albert Pike literally plagierized much of Morals & Dogma from the French mystic Eliphas Levi, who had his own peculiar theories of Masonic origins. Mackey in his later years reconsidered his more fanciful writings from his younger days. Waite, well, was Waite, who desperately wanted Freemasonry to be something it was not. Hall wrote his most extravagant works on Freemasonry when he was 27, and didn't join the fraternity until he was in his 50s. I stand by my assertion. They wrote fascinating works that explore symbolic and philosophical topics that had never existed in the fraternity before. They wrote books that are quite fascinating. And they also wrote a lot of crap. Or at least a lot of wishful thinking. I make it clear in the book that it is my opinion, and that no one book, no one author, is authoritative on Freemasonry. And it is my opinion is that Pike, Waite, Hall, Crowley, Mathers and others found Freemasonry was lacking the ancient, mystical aspects they had hoped for. It wasn't spooky enough for them, and so they added it themselves. 

We had an old gag in advertising: "Where do good ideas come from? SOMEBODY ELSE!" Freemasonry did not spring forth, fully formed, plump and swollen with its own unique symbolism, and delivered up with drinks at the Goose and Gridiron by the handsome maid Hannah. I don't discount the influences of alchemy, astrology, Rosicrucianism, gnosticism, and a raft of other isms on the formation of the Blue Lodge degrees. Everything comes from somewhere. And the period from the end of the English Civil War up to the Romantic Age (which sprouted its own very different kinds of fascinations) literally turned all accepted dogma and philosophy on its keister. 

The change from operative to speculative Freemasonry was, in my mind, a very conscious effort by a group of men who sought to use it to educate a wider audience in the tenets of Enlightenment thinking. Drinking and social clubs were the rage in Britain during the period, and they popped up like crabgrass. Initiation rituals in these clubs were quite common. Men like the members of the Royal Society saw the symbolism of the building trade as an opportunity to teach the new rational methods of thought and education, painlessly, with a memorable initiation event, followed by a fine dinner. It's why I'm an oddball and think the Preston-Webb Fellow Craft Middle Chamber lecture is my favorite part of the three degrees. When it developed there was no third MM degree. There was just Apprentice and Fellow of The Craft. But the MC lecture was—and is—a crash course in the Liberal Arts, and it was created to teach unlearned men who, in most cases, had never encountered these ideas before. 

Gunn argues that perhaps the reason why US Freemasonry has lost more than 50% of its membership in the post-1960s era is because of a new sense of openess and transparency that has stripped the fraternity of its aura of secrecy and mystery. Books like Freemasons For Dummies and Brent Morris' Complete Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry, along with a nationwide attempt by Grand Lodges to say "No secrets here!" have made the Craft TOO accessible, TOO simple. And Gunn is not the first or only critic to claim that Freemasonry had some earlier, better time when it wrapped itself more thoroughly in occult mysteries. 

The Dummies and Idiots books are designed to be the first ones someone picks up on a subject, not the last ones. They are informal, easy to digest introductions to a complex topic, designed to answer the common questions, and provide enough information to hopefully spur the reader to dig deeper. Masonic historians have been dancing angels on pinheads over the origin of the fraternity for two centuries, once they started coming to the conclusion that James Anderson's fairy tales might be suspicious. Reading Pike and Waite and Hall, and to a lesser extent, Mackey, requires a few years in the fraternity, experiencing both Blue Lodge and appendant body degrees, and lots of reading, along with a healthy dose of skepticism. 

All of that is beyond the scope of either Freemasons For Dummies or The Complete Idiots Guide To Freemasonry. While I understand the feeling of some Masons that seeing the term Dummy or Idiot in conjunction with Freemasonry gives them stomach upset, I would say that you are not the audience the books are trying to educate. If the identical book—same text, same sidebars and cartoons—were to be published by the Grand Lodge of Your-Name-Here as the "Official Grand Lodge Masonic Education Manual" with a gray cover and official Grand Lodge seal on the cover, few would read it, secretaries wouldn't order it for candidates, and grand lodge warehouses would be stacked to the rafters with unshipped copies. It is the Dummies and Idiots brands that appeal to two generations of readers who have come to depend on the two series as introductions to subjects they want to know about quickly. Neither my book nor Brent Morris' are designed to be the be all and end all of Masonic education. But if they spur new Masons (or old ones) to study further—Masons who might otherwise have never read a book about the fraternity before—then they have done their job. 

I do not believe that some “golden age” of esoteric Masonry has EVER really existed on a large scale within the Craft, and I would challenge anyone to identify it. I would argue that the Royal Society members who most probably shaped the change from operative to speculative Freemasonry certainly used the currency of Enlightenment thinking and philosophy when they fashioned the changes in ceremonies. Face it: they were the nerds of their own time period. But if you look at the earliest English and French exposures between the 1717 formation of the Grand Lodge, up through the 1750s and 60s, you don’t get the big waves of symbolic lecture material appearing until Preston comes along in the 1790s. And if Freemasonry really descended from Scottish traditions, as David Stevenson alleges, I don’t see the esoteric or gnostic evidence there either. Anderson’s Constitutions read like an updated Regius poem, even though he never saw it. Lodge hierarchy and traditions came from a provable paper trail that leads back to at least the 1300s, and it is steeped in Christian, née Catholic, antecedents. 

But Grand Lodge was formed to revive the Annual Feast, NOT the annual reading of papers on the ancient alchemical elements. I don’t deny that Masonry, in particular the Scottish Rite degrees, is rife with imagery and concepts borrowed from earlier sources. I do NOT believe, however, that Blue Lodge, Craft Freemasonry in its post-1717 form is a direct descendant of the Mystery Schools, Kabbala, Alchemy, or Rosicrucianism (which sprouted at almost exactly the same time). Everything I study points me in the belief that Freemasonry is more the child of the cosmopolitan eating/drinking/reading/philosophy clubs of London that were exploding in popularity at this same period, than of some ancient “mystery” tradition. 

Freemasonry did not appear out of a vacuum. I believe that the speculative gentlemen who took over the guild did exactly what our traditions say they did - they saw in the stonemasons something unique, they co-opted the allegory of cathedral building as a lesson in character building, and they draped it with myth and symbolism grabbed from a wide variety of existing sources. The explosion of other similar clubs and fraternal groups that did the same sort of thing during the same period of time points to the conclusion that modern Freemasonry was part of a larger social movement, and probably not an extension of a medieval or older mystery cult. 

Did the hundreds of degrees that sprouted across France and Germany after Ramsey's Oration bring gnosticism, alchemy, astrology, Qaballah, Jewish and Christian mysticism, Martinism, and more into Freemasonry? Sure. For 150 years or more there was a mania for creating new degrees across Europe. But if a degree filled with Rosicrucian philosophy was invented in 1782 by someone who was fascinated with Rosicrucianism, that's not evolution. That's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Do these additional degrees bring "wise and serious truths" to Freemasonry? Of course they do. Even if they are comparatively modern creations, do they introduce ancient philosophies into the fraternity? Again, no contest. But like Pastafarianism, it's the intentional design of someone cherry picking old concepts and wrapping them in a new package. They are "ancient" in that they use ancient ideas, not that they descended in an evolutionary line traceable to an ancient source. Creating a new degree, then jumping back and shrieking, "Look! This ancient degree is descended from Egyptian Sun God worship!" isn't exactly divine revelation. It's self-aggrandizement. It may be interesting, enjoyable, and even enlightening. But you just wrote it. And claiming you found it under an old apron in a dusty box in the library where it was left by Unknown Superiors, or that some gnarled bookseller along the Seine tucked it out from under her skirts where it had been secreted away since Charlemagne... sorry, call me a skeptic. 

Finally, there is little no evidence whatsoever that the loss of Masonic members today has anything to do with some loss of occult, esoteric tradition that existed at some mythical point in the 19th or 20th century. That IS wishful thinking. The losses the fraternity is suffering from today has to do with the statistical aberration of waves of joiners between 1939 and 1952. I submit that Freemasonry has never lost large groups of its members because of some nebulous elimination of esoteric philosophy from the lodges. Lodges, by and large, have NEVER had an overwhelming concentration on the ancient “mysteries,” whatever you may conceive them to be. George Washington didn’t join a lodge to divine the secrets of the ancients, no matter what Katherine Kurtz novels may claim. Freemasonry was, as early as the 1730s, largely an organization to socialize with the movers and shakers in the community. 

There have always been men within the fraternity who have sought to trace modern Freemasonry’s traditions to an earlier philosophy, religion or tradition. Men like Pike and Hall and Mackey and many others truly believed what they wrote (although Mackey in later years admitted that his more youthful writings had been self-fulfilling wishful thinking. Would that Pike had done the same in later years with what he cribbed from Levi). But modern scholarship has has blown the dust off of quaint 19th century notions about many things in the world. I find comfort and wisdom in those earlier scholars’ works. But there is much that is just plain wrong, and worse, much that is just plain made up. And it is intellectually dishonest not to call them on it, simply because we might want to believe what cannot be proved, or has been disproved. Would Freemasonry profit by introducing more mysterious aspects, locking the doors and cultivating instead of shunning the “secret society” moniker? Possibly. This is what Traditional Observance lodges are attempting to do. But, while satisfying to their members, they remain a small curiosity within the fraternity right now. In an age that hangs on every word written about Jedi Knights, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and other legendary, mythic stories, groups, and characters, it could be that Freemasonry is pursuing exactly the wrong tactic with its new openness. Frankly, I wanted my lodge to be, well, cooler than it turned out to be in life. A little incense, guys in black robes… (Wait! Those would be Jesuits!) So, it could very well be that we need to be cultivating a more mysterious aura. Time will tell. And as the reins of the fraternity get turned over to a younger group of leaders, perhaps those changes will happen at a faster clip. The lack of the Baby Boomers who didn’t join as young men have given Masonry a bad case of hardening of the arteries. That is changing. And there should always be a place in Freemasonry for individual lodges to pursue that path, if it is the will of its members. I don't discount the enjoyment and fascination many of my brethren derive from studying such topics. The fraternity has survived and grown because of its elastic walls that have embraced a huge array of disciplines and philosophies—there certainly haven't been 10,000 books written about the Odd Fellows or the Knights of Columbus. But personally, in the end, I tend to come down on the side of H. L. Haywood's remarks in A Bird’s Eye View of Masonic History (1921):
“Freemasons, for some reason or other, always have been, and even now remain, peculiarly susceptible to the appeal of the occult; we have had some experience in this country during recent years that prove this. No doubt a learned dustman can find particles of gold buried away in the debris of occultism and the true gold, even in small quantities, is not to be despised; but the dangers attendant upon trifling with the magical are a heavy price to pay for what little we can gain. Those who have, with worn fingers, untangled the snarl of occult symbolism, tell us that these secret cults have been teaching the doctrine of the one God, of the brotherhood of man, and of the future life of the soul; all this is good but one doesn’t need to wade through jungles of weird speculations in order to come upon the teachings that one may find in any Sunday School. It behooves the wise student to walk warily; perhaps the wisest things is to leave occultism altogether alone. Life is too short to tramp around its endless labyrinths. Moreover, there is on the surface of Freemasonry enough truth to equip any of us for all time to come.”

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Reserve Your Seat in the Merovingian Freemasonic Empire!

As a Freemason, I was unaware that we are apparently engaged in an effort to re-animate a Merovingian Freemasonic empire in the Middle East, by using terrorist Kurds as pawns of Merovingian Freemasonry, which is determined to eliminate the Aramaeans.

Think of the things you miss when you skip a stated meeting.

In a 7-part (!) article, Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis alleges:

Under the auspices of the Apostate Freemasonic Lodge which controls the colonial establishments of France and England, a ´holy alliance´ has been forged between the terrorist "Kurdish" organization PKK (practically speaking a construction of the French secret services) and the ´Assyrianist´ organizations of the Aramaeans. This further endangers the survival of the Aramaean Nation, either the nationally integral and conscious Aramaeans or the disoriented and bamboozled ´Assyrianist ´.

The article is quite, er, lengthy, but asserts that the sectarian and tribal bloodbath across the Middle East is really the result of Freemasons. Those pesky ethnic Kurds are just the quislings of the Anglo-Franco wing of Freemasonry that's trying to keep the world in turmoil so we can reclaim the throne of France, and establish a new Zionist kingdom, based on the Merovingian bloodline, as exposed in that unassailable document, Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

Somehow that topic got missed during the presidential debate last night. Damn you, Jim Lehrer, for not asking the tough questions.

Not really wanting to dip my toe in tribal hairsplitting and Islamic politics, but the great Saladin who was the Islamic hero of the Crusades who beat back the Christian invaders?

He was a Kurd.

Sunnis and Shiites generally skip over that part.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Man Stabs Priest After Watching "Da Vinci Code" Movie

A Roman priest was stabbed in the stomach by an apocalyptic whack job who had just watched the Da Vinci Code movie. Some stories are just too bizarre to make up. According to the Times Online,

Marco Luzi, 25, asked to see Father Canio Canistri, 68, parish priest at the church of Santa Marcella in the San Saba district on the Aventine Hill, and then attacked him with a knife hidden in a cloth. An elderly parishioner who came to the priest's aid is also in serious condition....

At his flat nearby, where he lived with his mother Paola, investigators found material on the Apocalypse and the anti-Christ, and the telephone number of L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.

There was also a large reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper, which is at the heart of the mystery in The Da Vinci Code, with a note pointing to one of the disciples reading: "This is the hand in which a knife is hidden".

Police also found a box on which was written "In here are the keys to the Sixth and Seventh Seals, closed by order of Satan and Jesus Christ. Give all these things to the Pope."

A rambling note read: "Between my death and my return many grave events will take place, years will pass, perhaps centuries. Christianity will be reviewed in the light of the new alliance between Jesus and the Madonna". Other notes referred to Islam, Satanism and robots.

The report says that Mr. Luzi is a former medical student with a history of psychiatric problems. And is, apparently, a harsh movie critic.

Father Canistri remains in intensive care, and Antonio Farrace, a 78 year old retired policeman who attempted to stop the attacker, is in serious condition.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

National Treasure 3 in 2010

Walt Disney Studios announced today that the third National Treasure film has been green lighted for production. According to MovieWeb, the announcement came at Disney's "Showcase" event, and was made by Disney Chairman Richard W. Cooke, who was joined onstage by both producer Jerry Bruckheimer and star Nicholas Cage. John Turtletub will return to direct, with most of the original cast.

Dear God, please let somebody besides the Wibberly's write it.

No release date, but rumors are Christmas 2010.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dummy ay Unity Lodge #148 in New Briton, CT on Thursday 9/25

I'll be traveling to New Britain, Connecticut to speak to the brethren of Unity Lodge No. 148, and the 5th District Blue Lodge Council on Thursday night, September 25th.

Dinner will start at 6:30PM, and Brother Dave Stern is handling reservations.

Looking forward to being among the nutmeggers!

Journal of The Masonic Society No. 1 In Mailboxes Now

It's been madness for the last week around Hodapphäus, but not with anything as mundane as my actual business, which I have completely neglected. The premiere issue of The Journal of The Masonic Society is at last published, printed, bagged, stamped and out the door. As editor, I'm proud of the first one, especially since I shot my mouth off and said I'd do the job before I'd actually attempted to learn how to use Adobe InDesign.

The first issue includes a wide and eclectic range of articles from seasoned veterans of the Masonic publishing world, as well as thoughtful newcomers.

Freemasonry and Sherlock Holmes by S. Brent Morris
Initiation in the Scottish Rite Ritual by Leon Zeldis
The Ceremony of John the Baptist and the Circle of Swords by Jim Hogg
Ethiopia in Freemasonry by Tim Hogan
The Story of the Lost Word and the Power of Myth by John L. Cooper III
An essay by Dan Ellnor, poetry by Owen Lorion, fiction by Martin Faulks and Michael Halleran, plus news from all around the Masonic world, photos of Masonic places and oddities, and more than I can remember right now.

And we're just getting started.

Many, many thanks to the authors, artists, reporters and advertisers who contributed, and to those who are sending work for Issue No. 2. But a special thanks goes to my friend and brother Nathan Brindle who, in spite of the seemingly innocent title of Treasurer, has done the heavy lifting to organize our database, work out postage and mailing issues, rebuild the website, construct new forums, write new signup page code, and a million other duties that no one thought of when we started this venture.

And while I'm at it, many thanks to John Bridegroom, an Indiana Mason and artist who created our unique membership patents. They are truly magnificent and unlike any such document you'll find in any other Masonic group. (But what was I thinking when I said, "Let's put a real wax seal on them!" Several hundreds of them. All by hand. For two solid weeks. There's a reason that's a lost art...)

Friday, September 19, 2008

GL of North Carolina AF&AM Recognizes Prince Hall Counterpart

The 221st meeting of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina AF&AM convened yesterday in Winston-Salem.

The Resolution for Mutual Recognition of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina and Its Jurisdictions, Inc., and the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina officially passed on September 19, 2008. The vote was 642 Yeas and 328 Nays.

Bravo, brethren. Bravo.

The following US mainstream Grand Lodges remain that do not recognize Prince Hall Freemasonry:

South Carolina*
West Virginia

(* Former Confederate states)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

WVa Lawsuit Moves Forward

The Charleston (WVa) Gazette reports today that Judge Irene C. Berger has denied the motion by the Grand Lodge of West Virginia to dismiss the lawsuit brought by expelled Past Grand Master Frank Haas. Last month, defense attorney John Tinney argued that the case should be dismissed because Haas hadn't fully exhausted his appeals within Masonic law. Hass' attorney argued that any appeal within the current Grand Lodge process would be "a sham."

Grand Master Charles Montgomery was deposed yesterday, and PGM Charles Coleman II will probably be deposed today. Haas will be deposed by the GL's attorney on October 8th.

Now it's a race between the trial and the convening of Grand Lodge. The big question is, will Haas be reinstated by Grand Lodge when it meets, or will it uphold GM Montgomery's expulsion of Haas without a Masonic trial? Their annual communication will be Monday, October 13th.

That ought to sound familiar. It's the anniversary of the arrest of the Templars.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

UGLE's Pro-GM, Lord Northampton, To Step Down

The Most Honorable, the Marquess of Northampton, addressed the quarterly communication of the United Grand Lodge of England on Wednesday September 10th, and surprised many in attendance by tendering his resignation as Pro Grand Master. He was installed as Pro Grand Master March 2001.

Spencer Douglas David Compton, 7th Marquess of Northampton (or "Spenny" as he is affectionately known to close friends and brethren) has served for ten years in the position, but has had health issues arise recently. Interestingly, he has been described as "Britain's wealthiest Buddhist."

RW Bro Peter Lowndes, Deputy Grand Master, has been appointed by the Grand Master to succeed Lord Northampton, and will be installed in March 2009.

The Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England is Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, grandson of King George V and first cousin to Queen Elizabeth II.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Hon. Sarah Palin & Her Masonic Links

The Burning Taper is reporting on an allegation from the 12.160 MHz Social network (because, as Masons, we all know there's a war on for your mind) that Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin is connected to the Freemasons because of a proclamation made in Alaska making April 14-17, 2007 Prince Hall Masonic Week.

I knew I liked this lady from the start.

Now that I know she's "in" on the conspiracy, I'm voting for her.


Note in a later comment that the site's author, Art Carran, refers to Albert "seething energies of lucifer" Pike who announced the three planned world wars, back in the 1800s. It is his contention that "When virtually ANY politician invokes "God," he's really referring to Lucifer."

One commentator makes the statement Does any of this matter? Sorry, but if these Masons show up to a fight in their funny hats and aprons we'll see how well they can take a .45 round. Don't look now, buddy, but Sarah's packing some serious heat, and she's on our side.

Interestingly, the site seems to promote Ron Paul's candidacy. Even though Paul's father was a Mason, and his wife allegedly is an Eastern Star member.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

WFPL Interview Available Online

Alice Von Kannon and I were the guests on Louisville's WFPL 89.3 FM's State Of Affairs, discussing Conspiracy Theories & Secret Societies For Dummies, with author James Broderick and host Julie Kredens.

The archive of the show is now available here.

Afterwards, we took a stroll through Louisville's Theatre Square, where WFPL's studios are located, and had lunch with friends at the Bluegrass Brewing Company. Apart from parking at the wrong garage and having to run like complete idiots for three blocks just six minutes before airtime, it was a very good day.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Last Call: World Ends Wednesday

Time to break your Y2K survival kit out of the attic and blow off its cobwebs.

CERN's 17-mile long Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator, along the French and Swiss border, will fire up on Wednesday for the first time at full blast. With any luck, it will tell scientists the secrets to Life, the Universe and Everything.

But a very, very nervous group says the LHC's inaugural firing could create a mini black hole or dangerous "strangelets" that will cause an End Times cataclysm. This is, of course, tragic news to those who believe the Mayan Calendar was supposed to take us all out on 12/12/2012, since we now won't be around to see if that prediction comes true.

An article in the Indianapolis Daily Fishwrap reports:

Some have raised the specter of the LHC creating subatomic black holes and other phenomena that will devour us all, despite nature having already conducted its own more-powerful collisions with cosmic rays. The objectors to the LHC say that the big difference between the cosmic ray collisions and those in the collider is that the LHC collisions are head-on, causing the black holes to stand still and not fly off into the nothingness.

The problem with that complaint, though, is that the beams of protons aren't hitting each other directly; they're crossing in an X pattern, like your old Hot Wheels race track where the cars are meant to collide in the middle. With an angled impact, any resulting weird stuff will fly off in odd directions and into space. There's also the theory of black hole evaporation (aka "Hawking radiation") that says all black holes are inevitably doomed to fizzle away into nothingness, with lifespan directly related to size. According to the generally accepted theory, these subatomic black holes will poof away in .000000000000000000000000001 seconds.

Meanwhile, the BBC has an extensive article about eschatology—your big word for the day.

Enjoy it while there's yet time.

It all ends Wednesday.


Have a look at Professor Brian Cox of Manchester University explanation of just what the LHC is, what it does, and why the people sending him death threats are a bunch of wankers. BTW, in addition to obsessing over particle physics, Professor Cox was a British pop star in the 1990s.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

McCain & Obama To Appear Jointly on 9/11

Maybe civility, tolerance and honor is making a comeback, after all.

From Breitbart.com today comes the message that John McCain and Barack Obama will cease all advertising on September 11th, and will jointly appear at the site of Ground Zero in New York. The campaigns issued a joint statement:

"All of us came together on 9/11—not as Democrats or Republicans—but as Americans," they said. "We were united as one American family. On Thursday, we will put aside politics and come together to renew that unity."

A community service organization called MyGoodDeed.org, wants 9-11 to become a national day of voluntary service and had asked that Obama and McCain perform acts of community service instead of campaigning. According to an AHN story,

The candidates will discuss separately their plans and thoughts about "the role of citizenship and service in post-9/11 America" on the first night of the forum. The two-day summit, called "A Nation of Service," will coincide with the the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and the annual "Tribute in Light"ceremony near Ground Zero. It will be moderated by Time magazine managing editor Richard Stengel.

"The Summit will be an important remembrance of those that made the ultimate sacrifice serving their country and others as we focus on how to inspire others to serve causes greater than their own self-interest through national and community service," McCain told WNBC.

The Evolution of Masonic Podcasts

Many years ago, Brother Stephen Dafoe hit upon the notion of a Masonic podcast, called Radio Free Mason, interviewing Masonic authors or notable Masons across North America. Like everything else, doing this stuff can be a grind, especially when it's a volunteer labor of love, and Radio Free Mason soon languished. Brother Robert Jump resurrected the idea at The Three Pillars Forum, but it soon stopped regular updates, as well.

Illinois brother Eric Diamond has hept his Xoriente podcast going for several years now. It is up to Episode 27, and he has not shied away from controversial subjects: in July, he interviewed the brother known as "I M Hiram" from West Virginia, who contributes to the Masonic Crusade website about the ongoing controversy over the suspension of PGM Frank Haas.

Several months back, Brother Cory Siegler of The Working Tools discovered the miracle of TalkShoe, an easy to use, toll-free "talk radio" service that allows hosts, guests and listeners to record a podcast, archive it, and keep past shows available for future listeners.

Brother Greg Stewart of Masonic Traveler blog fame is the latest entrant in the Masonic podcast world, with a regular, outstanding, and very broad range of guests, not just from the ranks of the Masonic world. His show is called Masonic Central, and in a brief period, he has presented a wide range of guests on a broad spectrum of topics.

EPISODE1 - Br. Fred Miliken (The Beehive)
EPISODE 2 - Tim Bryce
EPISODE3 - John Ratcliff
EPISODE4 - Tom Accousti (The Tao of Freemasonry)
EPISODE 5 - Dr. Patrick Swift, author of One Mountain, Many Paths: Common Sense for the Spiritual Traveler
EPISODE 6 - Round Table discussion
EPISODE 7 - Jennifer Emick, author of the Everything Book of Celtic Wisdom
EPISODE 8 - Paul M. Bessel and Jerry Samet, PGM of the District of Columbia

This Sunday's Episode #9 will feature brother Adam Kendall, Curator of Collections with the Henry Wilson Coil Library & Museum of Freemasonry for the Grand Lodge of F. & A.M. of California.

Future shows will feature Pennsylvania's Thomas R. Jackson, Past Grand Secretary, book reviewer for The Northern Light magazine, and one of the principal forces behind this summer's World Conference of Masonic Grand Lodges in Washington DC; author Stephen Dafoe on October 12th, discussing his two upcoming Templar projects; and on October 19th, Jessica Harland-Jacobs, author of the fascinating book "Builders of Empire: Freemasons and British Imperialism, 1717-1927" .

Bravo to Brother Stewart and to all of these brethren who have used this technology to bring these kinds of guests to a larger audience.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Grand Orient of France Rejects Women - For Now

The Grand Orient of France held its annual communication in Lyon this year, and major change was in the air. A 59 year old cardiologist from Marsailles, Lambicchi Pierre, was elected Grand Master, succeeding Jean-Michel Quillardet (above), who served in the position for the last three years.

But the biggest issue at the meeting was not agreed upon—namely, the question of whether or not to allow Grand Orient lodges to initiate women. The nearly 1,100 delegates voted on the subject seven times,, before at last opting to bump the issue to next year's Congress. The result is that the Grand Orient remains a men-only fraternity for at least another year, and the eight GO lodges that initiated women in 2008 were suspended for their actions (although they are allowed to continue operating while they appeal the decision). There is some concern within the organization that suspending the lodges could land the Grand Orient in court on charges of discrimination.

The Grand Orient of France is the largest Masonic body in France, but is not recognized by mainstream and Prince Hall grand lodges in the US, nor by the United Grand Lodge of England, as regular. The Grande Loge Nationale Francaise is the grand lodge overwhelmingly recognized by Anglo Saxon-derived Freemasonry.

The French press covered the meeting here, and here.

A couple of updates from other articles.

• The Grand Orient of France claims 50,000 members in approximately 1,200 lodges.
• Five lodges were suspended that initiated female Masons in the last year, not eight (stories seem to differ, but seem to settle on five). Their future will be voted on next September.
• The new Grand Master Pierre Lambicchi (above) has two daughters in their thirties, one of whom has "joined the Masonic movement". He has expressed no opinion on the matter publicly.
• The Grand Orient of France regularly takes public stands on political issues. The Grand Master is known politically to be a Socialist, and wants the fraternity to take a public position against a French criminal record database called EDVIGE, which compiles personal information; and he seeks the fraternity to have a dialogue on the question of euthanasia.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Tulsa and the Brethren of Guildhall No. 533

Had a great time last night speaking to the brethren of Guildhall Lodge No. 533 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Their quarterly festive board alternates between the top floor dining rooms of the Petroleum Club in Tulsa or Oklahoma City, and there were two dozen brothers there for an outstanding dinner last night. There were toasts and songs, and wonderful fellowship. Many thanks to WBro. Keith Madden, WM and all of the brethren for their warm welcome.

Driving back to Indianapolis today. Props to Hurricane Gustav and its effects for petering out and not making the drive down really scary.

Second Temple-Era Wall Uncovered In Jerusalem

Israeli archeologists have announced that the southern wall of Jerusalem that was built by the Hasmonean kings during the time of the Second Temple have been uncovered on Mount Zion. They are the remains of a 6km wall that surrounded the old city prior to the Roman occupation. According to the article in the Jerusalem Post, the Second Temple Period wall, which was built without mortar, and remains "amazingly" well-preserved today. It was uncovered beneath the remains of a Byzantine Period (324-640 AD) city wall that was built on top of the Second Temple wall, when ancient Jerusalem grew to its largest size.

According to the story,

"In the Second Temple period the city, with the Temple at its center, was a focal point for Jewish pilgrimage from all over the ancient world, and in the Byzantine period it attracted Christian pilgrims who came in the footsteps of the story of the life and death of their messiah," said Yehiel Zelinger, the excavation's director. . .

The ancient walls were found by cross-referencing the detailed plans and maps of an excavation carried out in the 1890s by the Palestine Exploration Fund under the direction of [American] archeologist Frederick Jones Bliss and his assistant Archibald Dickie with updated maps of the area.

Archeology on and around the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is challenging to say the least. No public screams of denial have been heard yet from the Waqf, the Islamic authority that is king of the hill, which claims there have never been any Jewish Temples on the Temple Mount.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

"In a world..."

In a world where a deadly game of cat and mouse can only be won by a one-man army, we must now sadly live without Don Lafontaine.

Movie trailers will never be the same without him.

See Five Guys In A Limo.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Masonic Board Game

The Purple Pawn blog reports on the world of board games, and this week, the blog has discovered JTM's The Masonic Board Game.

According to the website,

"The Masonic Board Game is a different Masonic educational tool. Developed specifically for the Masonic body, the Masonic Board Game is a fun and exciting way to learn or teach about Freemasonry! "

The game is for 2 to 4 players, or groups of players, and includes 400 question cards with 1,000 different questions.

The game was created by WBro. John T. Mathews, who lives in Atlanta, Georgia. It is available from JTM's website at www.masonicboardgame.com for US$14.99.

WFPL 89.3FM in Louisville, September 10th

Alice Von Kannon and I will appear on Louisville's WFPL 89.3 FM program, State of Affairs, on September 10th at 11AM (rebroadcast 9PM).

We will be discussing conspiracy theories and secret societies with host Julie Kredens.

Joining us by phone will be James Broderick, author of Web of Conspiracy: A Guide to Conspiracy Theory Sites on the Internet.

London's Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 on September 11th

WBro. S. Brent Morris will preside over his final meeting as Master of London's Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 on Thursday, September 11, 2008, at Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen Street, London, with the gavel falling at 5.00pm. Brent has a long-standing promise to buy the first pint for any US brethren who make the trip.

I would be there if I could. *sigh*

The paper for the evening will be presented by Very Worshipful Brother Trevor W. McKeown, entitled 'An Historical Outline of Freemasonry on the Internet'. Brother Trevor knows the subject well. If his name is not familiar to you, it should be—he is the driving force behind the incredible website of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon. Its plain, gray welcome page is a deceptively simple gateway to the largest collection of Masonic information on the web, and is truly a labor of love by Trevor and his brethren. According to his biography, he is the Grand Lodge webmaster, Masonic Bulletin editor, library and archives curator, chairman of the Library and Archives Board of Trustees, Representative from the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, and Grand Historian since 2005. He served as Grand Steward for 2001-2002.

Anyone who has done Masonic research over the Internet has likely grazed over the literally hundreds of articles and images on the GLofBCY website, and we all owe Brother Trevor our deepest gratitude for his dedication that goes too often uncredited.

Unity Lodge No. 148 in New Britain, CT on 9/25/08

Brother Tom Accuosti has let the cat out of the bag—I'll be traveling to New Britain, Connecticut to speak to the brethren of Unity Lodge No. 148, and the 5th District Blue Lodge Council on September 25th.

Dinner will start at 6:30PM, and I'll start yammering at 7:30. Brother Dave Stern is handling reservations.

Guildhall Lodge, Tulsa on Wednesday 9/3

Barring the unwelcome interference of Gustav, I'm looking forward to speaking at Oklahoma's Guildhall Lodge No. 533 on Wednesday evening at the Petroleum Club in Tulsa. Guildhall is a Traditional Observance lodge, and is the lodge of WBro. Robert G. Davis, author of Understanding Manhood In America.

Britain's 100 Year Old Bartender Serves Masons

I'd just like to point out to my brethren in Indiana and elsewhere that still prohibit the use of alcohol in Masonic buildings that the oldest bartender in Britain, Jim Christou, who just turned 100 years old, has worked for the last 20 years as the barkeep of Westwood Masonic Centre in Welling, Kent.

According to the Telegraph,

The grandfather-of-two, nicknamed as 'Chris' by his customers has even had a new bar there named in his honour.

"I'll keep going for as long as I can. I love chatting and serving the customers, the club is a second home to me," the Telegraph quoted him as saying.

"There's no secret to how I'm still working. I just do normal things, eat normal food and do the shopping," he added.

Christou, who's not touched a drink or smoked in nearly 30 years, despite working in a bar, said that working helps him keep fit.

"It certainly helps you keep active, and that's just what I need at my age," he said.

Club secretary Ken Richardson said: "It's absolutely incredibly that he still insists on doing work behind the bar.

"He loves serving members when they come in. We had a beer festival recently and he insisted on helping out at the door as well.

"Everyone who comes in loves him. He's a star behind the car," he added.