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


Friday, October 31, 2008

Kenneth W. Davis Elected as Master of Vitruvian No. 767

Slightly belated congratulations to Brother Kenneth W. Davis who was elected to serve as Worshipful Master of Lodge Vitruvian No. 767 at our meeting on Tuesday night. Dr. Ken Davis is an author, as well as a professor and former chair of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and president of Komei, Inc., a global training and consulting firm. He is married to the lovely Bette Davis.

Dinner followed at the always wonderful Capri Restaurant, and I was honored to present a reading of an appropriately scary Halloween story with a Masonic connection, H. G. Wells' "The Inexperienced Ghost," first published in The Stand in 1902.


Thanks, Century No. 764

Many thanks to the brethren of Century Lodge No. 764 in Indianapolis for their kind invitation to speak to their homecoming dinner last night at Broadmoor Country Club. The food was excellent, and the fellowship was even better.

Century was established in 1998 and was chartered in 2000 so as to be the first new lodge in Indiana to be chartered in the new century—hence the name. It was formed to break the mold of the cookie-cutter lodge in Indiana, and pioneered the use of innovations that seem more commonplace now, but that shocked and appalled the established methods for stated meetings (executive business meetings separate from the monthly stated meeting; actually having a quality dinner out at fine restaurants instead of suspicious cold cuts on paper plates; insisting on a dress code; and more). Without Century, our own Vitruvian No. 767 would have had a tougher time breaking the established mold in Indiana.

Thanks especially to my friend and brother Carson Smith, Century's Senior Warden, for suggesting me as their speaker.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oldest Hebrew Writing Discovered From Era of King David

The ancient Hebrew fortified city of Khirbet Qeiyafa, or Elah Fortress, was the Biblical site where the legendary battle between David and Goliath took place. Now, archeologists exploring the area have unearthed what may be the oldest known example of Hebrew writing ever found. A 3,000 year old pottery shard has been discovered by a Hebrew University team (actually, by a teenaged volunteer), that predates the Dead Sea Scrolls by 1,000 years. According to a BBC article, the characters are written in a precurser to the Hebrew alphabet, known as proto-Canaanite.

So far, words deciphered on the shard include judge, slave and king, along with a three-letter verb meaning "to do," which seems to peg the words as Hebrew. It is the longest proto-Canaanite text ever found.

Lead archeologist Yosef Garfinkel says the artifact sheds important light on the period of the reign of King David.

"The chronology and geography of Khirbet Qeiyafa create a unique meeting point between the mythology, history, historiography and archaeology of King David."

After slaying the Philistine giant Goliath, David would go on to become the second king (after Saul) of a united kingdom of Israel, and was the father of King Solomon. There is little archeological evidence of King David's reign (or existence), so this find may be significant in filling in gaps in the historic record.

iPhone: No Se Habla Español

So somebody at Apple or the NEW! AT&T tripped over a piece of equipment deep in the subterranean depths of the Home Office at 7:30 this morning and now all of the iPhones in America have voice mail that answers in Spanish.

And when I called the NEW! AT&T, their phone number recognition system wasn't working today, either.

Sounds remarkably like the OLD AT&T. The story is that "technicians" are "working" on it.

No Dan Brown, No "Solomon Key": Doubleday Cuts Staff

Depending on whom you ask, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code was either the eighth or the sixth most popular book in the English language. And then he went and blabbed to everyone who the sequel would be about (the Freemasons) and where the sequel would be set (Washington DC), and even the title (The Solomon Key). And then he didn't write it for five years. While I wouldn't know how to face the keyboard when confronted with such a challenge, he of course has, like, a brazillion dollars to lubricate his writer's block.

But he hasn't finished it yet, apparently. And his publisher and the book chains see no hope for themselves without a new Dan Brown (or a J.K. Rowling, for that matter) mega-seller to save them from certain doom. It seems that Doubleday can wait no longer, and announced that it is laying off 10% of its workforce.

Doubleday spokesman David Drake said in the NY Times,

...the decision was not related to the delay in the delivery of the next novel by Dan Brown, the author of The Da Vinci Code, the blockbuster best seller published in 2003. Back in 2004, Doubleday said the target release date for the next book was 2005, but Mr. Brown has yet to deliver a manuscript. Sales from even a single title — if it is as significant as The Da Vinci Code — can make a substantial difference to a publisher’s sales.

Nevertheless, "the changes we've made are quite separate from anything to do with Dan Brown," Mr. Drake said.

No pressure there, Mr. Brown. Really. None at all. But in the meantime, somebody better hide the razor blades and barbiturates in the Doubleday executive washroom.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Plunger Boy No Longer

It's true.

As of Tuesday at 3:00PM, Alice and I have officially turned in our plungers and master keys, and sold our apartment complex. I am no longer a greedy, mustache-twilrling, baby-eating landlord. In fact, I can say with a great deal of relief, I am now unemployed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

King Solomon's Mines Discovered?

I haven't been enamored with CNN's reportage for quite some time, but today they are reporting that researchers may have discovered the fabled King Solomon's Mines.

See here.

Thomas Levy of the University of California San Diego, who led the research, said carbon dating placed copper production at Khirbat en-Nahas (Arabic for 'Ruins of copper") in the 10th century -- in line with the biblical narrative of Solomon's rule.

"We can't believe everything ancient writings tell us," Levy said in a university statement. "But this research represents a confluence between the archaeological and scientific data and the Bible."

Calling Allan Quatermain.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Broad Ripple Lodge Chili Cookoff Wrapup

The 8th annual Broad Ripple Lodge No. 643 Chili Cookoff is now little more than a faded orange grease spot in history.

While skunked for the eighth year of the ever elusive honor of having my name inscribed on the suitably bilious Scarlet Pepper Cup and the year's bragging rights that accompany it, I will say that Chili For Dummies, nailing down the "Best Presentation" and "It Wasn't Chili But I Liked It" categories, as well as battling it out to a hotly contested tie for Second Place, proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that another Hodapp creation once again both delighted the public and confounded the critics. With a possible lesson about style over substance.

Many, many thanks to all who came out (45 folks at one point as I looked around the room, and more outside), to the 19 folks who lined up at the Indiana Blood Center Bloodmobile to get jabbed (exceeding our quota!), and especially to the chili chefs who whipped up their robust entries. A tip of the hat to Alan Hague of the Broad Ripple Gazette for stopping by—a gent who works tirelessly without nearly enough kudos for all he does for the Village.

And a laurel and hardy handshake to Brother Michael Walkup for his First Place entry, "Mmmm Chili", which we will undoubtedly hear about for the next year.

Even if he did bring his Mom along for the sentimentality vote.

And even if he did put chocolate in his "chili" to assure all the women would be mesmerized by a chocolate buzz at voting time.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Oct. 25th - The Feast of Sts. Crispin & Crispinian

Today is the long forgotten Feast of Sts. Crispin and Crispinian, Roman twins said to have been martyred for their Christian faith in 286AD.

Shakespeare's Henry V (1599) contains one of the most famous passages on medieval honor and leadership, which coined the term "band of brothers", on the day before battle on Sts. Crispin's Day.

Enter the KING

WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING. What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Buried Treasure! Masonic Geocaching

Looking for hidden treasure? Folks around the world doing just that in one of the fastest growing pastimes. It's called geocaching.

Think of geocaching as a giant, hi-tech treasure hunt. Players use a Global Positioning System (GPS) system to "bury" and find containers (called "geocaches" or "caches") all around the world. The geocache itself is usually a small watertight container with a logbook and some kind of treasure (usually a coin, toy or some other small collectable trinket - often referred to as geoswag). The container can be as simple as a plastic 35mm film container, or as complex as a hand-made box.

Since September of 2000, geocaching has grown from 75 caches to over 670,000 active caches worldwide, with between 2 and 3 million participants.

To see where geocaches are hidden in your neighborhood, go to http://www.geocaching.com/

On November 1st, the first Masonic Geocaching Society meeting will be held in Washington DC at the Scottish Rite House of the Temple. Addressing the meeting will be author Dr. S. Brent Morris, who will speak about codes and ciphers (Brent argues that Masons were arguably the first geocachers—when Enoch and Mathuselah buried a golden plate with the ineffable name of God upon it, and buried it deep beneath the foundation of the temple). The event sign in will be at 10AM, Brent will speak at 11AM, and there will be prize drawings at 1PM.

For more information, contact Dean Alban at dalban@scottishrite.org

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Broad Ripple Lodge Chili Cook Off & Blood Drive This Saturday 10/25

From the brethren of Broad Ripple Lodge No. 643 in Indianapolis:

The date of the Annual Broad Ripple Lodge Chili Cook-Off is quickly approaching. Slip into the kitchen, hunker down over the stove and whip up a batch of your favorite culinary disaster. The event is scheduled for Saturday the 25th of October with our doors to open at 5:00 PM and the contest to run from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Those intending to take a shot at the top should arrive closer to 5:00 PM. Prizes will be awarded in numerous categories beyond simply the best overall. For many, the coveted red pepper trophy and bragging rights alone will be reward enough.

The Lodge will provide corn bread, mac n' cheese, and hot dogs to accompany the various concoctions along with all the usual fixins'. A basket will be set out to collect donations intended to assist the Lodge in defraying its' expenses and to bolster the Masonic Angel Fund which will surely be tested by need as Fall gives way to Winter and the holidays approach.

Additionally, representatives from the Indiana Blood Center will be on hand from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM seeking donations of much needed blood. Anyone able is encouraged to lend an arm and everyone who does will be entered into a drawing for a $100.00 Best Buy gift card. This is your chance to possibly help save a life and win a little something in the bargain.

This is an open to the public event and all are welcome to take part in the voting and the competition as well. So bring your family, friends or a prospective candidate and join us for what promises to be another fine evening of food and fellowship at Broadripple. Those planning on attending, and especially those wishing to offer up an entry for consideration, are asked to contact me so that we might adequately prepare for all our guests.

Miles Evanston, SW
Broadripple Lodge #643

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lodge Vitruvian No. 767 Meeting and Festive Board 10/28/08

If you are a Master Mason in the Indianapolis area next Tuesday night, October 28th, please join us at Lodge Vitruvian No. 767 for our October Stated Meeting. You will have to suffer through our annual elections, true, but we will as quickly as possible retire to Capri Restaurant for our festive board.

I will have the honor of speaking at dinner, when I will present a very special Masonic Halloween story.

Lodge meets at 7:00PM at the temple of Broad Ripple Lodge No. 643 at 1716 Broad Ripple Avenue, on Indianapolis' north side.

Tuxes for officers and members, business attire for visitors. Dinner is $30.

Please no Obama or McCain Halloween masks.

Globes and Masons and Prisoners of War

An article in today's Burton Mail announces that two historic globes will soon be auctioned in England.

"Historic" would be an understatement.

The globes were owned by the Royal Sussex Masonic Lodge No. 353, and their heritage is surprising. The members of Royal Sussex Lodge are merely their most recent owners—they were acquired by them in 1817.

According to works by Brother John T. Thorp, during the ongoing battles between Britain and France that lasted from the 1740s, on up through the Napoleonic Wars from 1793 until 1814, French prisoners of war were held in Britain. Between 1803 and 1814, no less than 120,000 French soldiers and sailors were imprisoned in towns across England. It was a very different time and place, then. POW officers signed a "parole", which was an agreement, on their honor, not to try to communicate with or escape back to their country. In return, they received a great measure of freedom, at least in England. Officers were paid a minimal amount to provide for food and separate lodging, and could actually go out and find work, or even start a business.

French prisoners brought their Freemasonry with them, and were allowed to form lodges in towns where there were none meeting. According to an article in the January 2006 MQ Magazine, almost fifty such French lodges sprung up in these POW towns, under the authority of the Antients Grand Lodge (prior to 1813 unification with the "Moderns"). In the town of Ashby, such a lodge was formed, Loge Des Vrais Amis de l’Odre Ashby-de-la- Zouch (Lodge of True Friends of the Order).

According to the article in the UK papers, the French Masons had the globes for their lodge created by George Adams, of Charing Cross, London, considered to be the most important globe maker of the 18th Century (he made globes for Captain Cook). However, Yasha Beresiner's paper Masonic Globes claims the globes were actually made by Dudley Adams.

Royal Sussex' first master was WBro. George Mugliston, a Frenchman living in England who had previously visited Loge Des Vrais Amis de l’Odre, bought them (or otherwise snagged them) from the French in 1817. The wooden stands, pained gold, were built by the prisoners. The globes are expected to fetch at auction between $30,000 and $40,000.

For more about Freemasonry among prisoners, see:
French prisoners' lodges: A brief account of fifty lodges and chapters of freemasons, established and conducted by French prisoners of war in England and elsewhere, between 1756 and 1814 by John T. Thorp

Behind The Wire by Keith Flynn

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Meet The Press

"The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers."
Thomas Jefferson

I love the brethren of Madison Lodge No. 44, which sits about 20 miles northeast of the outer ring of Indianapolis' I-465. I like the quaint town of Pendleton, which has a darling downtown—my wife's cousin lives there. I like Wbro. Robert Himes, this year's Master of Madison Lodge No. 44. Heck, I even like their building, which was built 20 years ago after they sold their downtown lodge. And I'm proud of them that they were able to get an article about themselves into the Herald Bulletin, which is based up the road in Anderson.

But is this not the worst article you've ever read? Or at least the Miss Congeniality to the worst article you've ever read, which allows it to assume the tasks of the worst article you've ever read, should it be unable to perform those duties?

I-69 (Exit 19) Masonic lodge keeps history alive in new building

PENDLETON — For most of its 166-year history, members of Madison Lodge 44 held regular meetings in downtown Pendleton. But in 1989, the group moved to a brand new building west of town near Exit 19 to take advantage of the open space and better access to the interstate.

Robert Himes, a 37-year Mason and lifelong area resident, said future development at the exit should help, not hurt, his organization and area residents “as long as it’s done properly.”

Instead of more antique stores and gift shops, he’d like to see nicer restaurants open on that end of Madison County. The fast-food restaurants and subdivisions don’t concern him yet, but he would like to see more upscale businesses that offer a greater variety of services.

“I guess you can’t argue with progress,” he said.

Himes, who wears a leather cell phone case on his belt showing the emblem of the Free Masons, said his lodge is the oldest order of Freemasons in Madison County. The group has helped start 10 more lodges in the county.

Membership at the lodge is holding at 200, Himes said, down from about 400 in 1980. Despite the declining numbers, the group continues to meet monthly.

A nineteen year old building described as new? The Master of Pendleton's oldest, best-known gentleman's fraternity, with a legendary heritage and a mythic past, being asked about strip center development? Sterling powers of observation and in-depth reportage brought to bear, only to discover that Hines wears a cellphone holster with a square and compasses on it? And one of the most in-apropos and non-sequitureous closing lines ever written? As though if they drop to 199 they'll have to chuck in their charter and go join the Elks?

I'm shaking my head over this because it is the only daily newspaper cage liner I have had at my disposal to advertise my business in for six and a half years. Each year the ad price skyrockets, the quality plummets, and the subscribers vanish.

And the articles apparently don't even have authors anymore.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Bavarian Illuminati

Researchers seriously interested in the history, philosophy, activities and social phenomenon of the 18th century Bavarian Illuminati—at least in the English speaking world—have long been frustrated by the dearth of material about the Order that could be trusted. It says much that the overwhelmingly cited sources of information about Adam Weishaupt's secret society all have their own agendas to flog. Abbé Augustin Barruel's Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism sought to identify the Templars, the Freemasons and the Illuminati as the nefarious architects of the atheistic French Revolution. Sources like the Catholic Encyclopedia, not surprisingly, stress the anti-clerical, anti-Jesuit aspects, while Nesta Webster modernized and enlarged the conspiracy theory genre, with the Illuminati at the center. And John Robison's Proofs of a Conspiracy asserted that it was evil, European, Grand Orient style, irregular, non-Anglo Saxon Freemasonry that was trying to do nefarious and dirty dealings to the Church and Europe's monarchs, and NOT the virtuous Freemasonry that was flourishing in Old Blighty.

The challenge in seeking the details about the Bavarian order is to separate the verifiable from the daffy, and the true historian from the perennially nervous. The tireless Trevor McKeown on the Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon website has an outstanding online article on the Bavarian Illuminati, as does author Terry Melanson at the Illuminati Conspiracy Archive. Melanson has expanded his research into a book, available in November, called Perfectibilists: The 18th Century Bavarian Order of the Illuminati. Conrad Goeringer on the American Atheists site also has a good article, The Enlightenment, Freemasonry, and The Illuminati.

A few months ago, I lamented on The Masonic Society forum that, while Weishaupt wrote several works about the Illuminati, which were subsequently published by the Bavarian government to expose the secret revolutionary activities of the Order, there is no English translation of them. This seems like a glaring gap in knowledge for researchers who can't speak German, and frankly astonishing in the wake of Dan Brown's silly but hugely popular Angels & Demons, in which an absurd representation of the Illuminati is presented. Perhaps as the movie version of the book comes to theaters in the spring, maybe some enterprising publisher or German student will remedy this.

In the meantime, Terry Melanson seems to have started to answer the call. In September, he started the website Bavarian Illuminati: Home of the Original Writings of the illuminati. So far he has posted the first part of Some Original Writings Of The Order of the Illuminati, found during a search of former Court Councillor Xavier von Zwack, who was the second in command of the Order at the time of its dissolution by Bavarian authorities. Melanson explains that he is actually working from a French translation, and the works comprise hundreds of pages, so expect slow-going (and perhaps burnout before its completion). He is to be commended for taking up the task. For a group that has had so much legend heaped upon it, and untold fears of its supposed ongoing influence in the world, it's astonishing that it has taken more than two centuries for these documents to slowly start trickling out to a wider audience.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

October 16, 1646: Elias Ashmole

On this date in 1646, English antiquarian Elias Ashmole recorded the following in his personal diary:

1646, Oct. 16, 4.30 P.M. - I was made a Free Mason at Warrington in Lancashire with Coll: Henry Mainwaring of Karincham in Cheshire; the names of those that were then of the Lodge, Mr Rich. Penket Worden, Mr James Collier, Mr Rich. Sankey, Henry Littler, John Ellam, Rich. Ellam & Hugh Brewer.

Ashmole's is the first known, recorded initiation of a non-operative, speculative Freemason (although there is evidence that Robert Moray may actually have held that distinction, in 1641). Both men went on to become members of The Royal Society.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Prosecution Calls God To The Stand

A Nebraska judge has ruled that God cannot be sued for damages caused by pesky, albeit destructive, Acts of God, primarily because you can't serve Him with a subpoena.

From today's Omaha World-Herald:

Judge Marlon Polk threw out Nebraska Sen. Ernie Chambers' lawsuit against the Almighty, saying there was no evidence that the defendant had been served. What's more, Polk found "there can never be service effectuated on the named defendant."

Chambers had sued God in September 2007, seeking a permanent injunction to prevent God from committing acts of violence such as earthquakes and tornadoes.

Although the case may seem superfluous and even scandalous to others, Chambers has said his point is to focus on the question of whether certain lawsuits should be prohibited.

"Nobody should stand at the courthouse door to predetermine who has access to the courts," he said. "My point is that anyone can sue anyone else, even God."

Chambers, an avowed atheist, said he decided to make that point after at least two attempts in the Nebraska Legislature to limit "frivolous lawsuits."

I always wanted to play a movie judge. I've been practicing the lines for decade.

"One more outburst like this and i'll clear thus courtroom!"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus

The New York Times has a piece today about the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus.

Never heard of this noble fraternal group? From the book I wrote with Alice Von Kannon, Conspiracy Theories & Secret Societies For Dummies:

Because of the wild popularity of secret societies – especially the Freemasons and the Odd Fellows – in the 1800’s, it was inevitable that parody groups would arise. One such group was E Clampus Vitus, a Latin name that meant, well, absolutely nothing. It isn’t even real Latin. The group’s motto, the Credo Quia Absurdium, gives a clue as to its ultimate goal: take nothing seriously unless it is absurd.

In 1848, there were just 2,000 people in California. After the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mills in 1849, 53,000 greed-crazed ‘49ers poured into the territory within just one year. Many from the East were looking for, or founded, fraternal lodges like they had back home. Others decided on a different path for their fraternalism.

E Clampus Vitus seems to have been brought to the California Gold Rush village of Hangtown (now more delicately called Placerville) by Joseph H. Zumwalt from Virginia in 1850. Zumwalt founded the first “lodge” in Mokelumne Hill, and the group quickly spread throughout Western mining towns and camps. Members were called Clampers, or Clamperers, depending on whom you ask, and the head of the organization was the Sublime Noble Grand Humbug. Officers included the Grand Iscutis, the Grand Gyascutis, the Clamps Petrix, the Clamps Matrix, and the Royal Platrix. Their “secret” sign of recognition was to extend the palms vertically, facing out on either side of the head, stick the thumbs in each ear, madly waggling their fingers. They would occasionally march in parades with the other fraternal organizations, carrying their banner – a ladies hoop skirt, festooned with the message, “This is the flag we fight under.”

Meetings were held in “Halls of Comparative Libations” (saloons). The initiation ceremony was essentially designed to give far more enjoyment to the members of the club than to the new candidate, and involved the sort of serious horseplay that only a crowd of drunken miners tormenting a poor dope in a blindfold could cook up. Hauled in “The Expungent’s Chair” (a wheelbarrow full of wet sponges) across the rungs of a ladder on the floor, the candidate “crossed the rugged road to Dublin.” He was often tossed onto a saddle that was attached to ropes looped over ceiling rafters for the ride of his life. And sometimes lack of imagination simply knocked him in the head and flattened him into a pile of horse dung. The point was to make it so raucous and unpleasant that the new recruit would keep the tradition alive, if only to seek revenge on the next initiate.
E Clampus Vitus thrived until the 1890’s and the death of the mining towns. It seemed to be completely gone from the West by 1916.

In 1931, the order was revived by Dr. Charles Lewis Camp and members of the California Historical Society, and became devoted to preserving the lore of Western history – a strange turnaround of a completely ridiculous group becoming a serious one. Commemorative plaques installed by the Order can be found on buildings of noteworthy status (frequently having to do with alcohol) all across the West.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Grand Lodge of West Virginia Meets Today, Tomorrow

It will be interesting to read what transpires.

Winamac, Indiana 10/14/08

My last visit to Winamac Lodge in 2007.

Tomorrow night, Tuesday Oct. 14th, I'll be in Winamac, Indiana speaking to the brethren of Winamac Lodge No. 262. Dinner begins at 6:30PM and the meeting is at 7:30PM. If you are in northwestl Indiana, drop by.

701 Years Ago

Today is the 701st anniversary of the arrest of the Knights Templar.

If you haven't been to your Commandery in a while and they are meeting tonight, consider going and reminding your fellow Sir Knights of the date, the event, and their legendary forbearers.

I'm a little behind on the news, but the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction's library at Washington DC's House of the Temple has, in addition to the Grand Lodge of New York's Livingston Library, obtained a copy of the Processus Contra Templarios—Papal Inquiry into the Trial of the Templars, a facsimile of the documents of the Vatican's probe into the charges of heresy brought against the knights. One of only 799 copies printed by the Vatican's Secret Archives, the $8,000 book is now available in both of these Masonic libraries for study by researchers.

The book contains the "Chinon Parchment," a recently re-discovered document that exonerated the Knights of heresy after an investigation by Pope Clement V.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Masonic Week 2009 Schedule Up Now

The schedule for 2009's Masonic Week in Alexandria, VA is now up here.

It will be held again at the Hilton Mark Center Hotel. When making reservations, be sure to specify "AMD Week."

I'm also proud to announce the first annual dinner of The Masonic Society will be held at Masonic Week on Friday, February 13th at 6:00PM in the Terrace Room West. All are welcome to attend! Guest speaker, price and ticket sales details will be announced soon!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Nelson King Update

Worshipful Brother Aubrey Brown reports on The Masonic Society forum tonight:

"Nelson is conscious and they’re even giving him foods! He’s not out of the woods just yet but he has already used a couple of curse words so we know he’s well on his way back.

He is still in ICU but the doctors think he may be able to be moved out in as few as two days."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Chicago: 3 Part Lecture on Templars Begins Sunday 10/12

Chicago brethren and Templar enthusiasts take note: Monsignor Robert M. Cokinis will present a three part lecture series about the Knights Templar, "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" beginning this Sunday, October 12th, at 5PM. The series will be held at the Aurora Masonic Temple (Temple Hill Plaza) at 104 S. Lincoln Avenue.

Cokinis is the Presiding Bishop of L'Eglise Gnostique Apostolique of North America, and is a member of the Portuguese Order of the Poor Knights of Christ of the Temple of Solomon. He has lectured on Martinism and Gnosticism at the Theosophical Society in Wheaton, Illinois.

According to a story in the Beacon News:

The first in the series, titled Templars of Legend and Reality, will analyze the phenomenon of the Templars popularity in the literature of Europe over 700 years and the Order's more recent portrayal in the movies especially the Da Vinci Code and National Treasure.

A $20 donation at the door will go to benefit the Temple's restoration project.

"Crime Beat" with Carl Brizzi, Saturday, 10/11

I will be speaking with Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi tomorrow, Saturday, October 11th, on his Indianapolis radio show "Crime Beat", on 93.1FM WIBC.

We'll be talking about conspiracy theories—the real ones and the surreal ones.

Tune in from 3PM to 5PM, Eastern Time.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Charlie and Nelson

As October blows through its days, 2008 remains a bittersweet year.

Nelson King, editor of The Philalethes Magazine, is in hospital at this time, and his prognosis is grave.

This news comes just a few days after the death of Charles W. Munro in Texas.

Both of these men have made an impact on Freemasonry, but more important, on so many individual Freemasons whose lives they have touched, and I have had the honor to enjoy the company of both of them. It was gratifying to me personally when I saw both of their names come through among the very first members in the opening few days of starting The Masonic Society.

Charlie was a regular at Masonic Week, and he was always a gentleman with great warmth and bucketfuls of humor. (The Indiana delegation never fails to bring up the year that he went out onto the sidewalk of the Hotel Washington, scooped up a snowball, came back into the lobby and hurled it at Andy Jackson.) I had only a passing acquaintance of Charlie, but he will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

I've known Nelson for several years, and he kindly served as the technical editor when I was writing Freemasons For Dummies, to make sure I didn't completely put my foot in it. When I myself was in hospital back at Christmastime, he was among the first to call and ask after my situation. Nelson is forceful, opinionated, and he stands by his beliefs. He also stands by Freemasons.

Nelson is a worker and a fighter, and no one is putting on the black crepe for him yet. If you know him and Ellen personally, Ellen has said she doesn't mind the phone calls, but please keep them between 9AM and 10PM EST.

In one year to have lost Theron Dunn, Bob Hancock, Bill Clutter, Charlie Munro, and now to have Nelson King in dire shape is almost overwhelming. There are wags who glibly remark that the fraternity will be improved after 'a few more Masonic funerals.' Such a quip fails to attach real names and faces and bereaved widows to that casual remark. Men like these and more have spent untold chunks of their lifetimes working hard to keep the flame of Freemasonry alive when others have simply walked away, or simply wanted to talk instead of roll up their sleeves and get to work.

I'll miss you, Charlie.

Hang in there, Nelson.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Thanks to Frankton Lodge No. 607

Many thanks to the brethren of Frankton Lodge and Worshipful Master Larry Parker for their kind hospitality last night.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Seven Lamps of Architecture

As a member of the board of the Indianapolis Masonic Temple Association, it's no secret that I have a deep and abiding love and reverence for the preservation of the important buildings of our past—not just Freemasonry, but of society itself. It goes back a long way in my life: from the days when my father restored a tumbledown mansion in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, to my early teenage years involved with the Indiana Railway Museum and Indianapolis Union Station.

John Ruskin's "The Seven Lamps of Architecture" is a fascinating book. Written in 1857, he expounds on the substance and purpose of architecture, being careful to separate it from mere "building." He calls each broad concept a different "lamp," providing "light" in various ways: Sacrifice, Truth, Power, Beauty, Life, Memory and Obedience. In his chapter, The Lamp of Memory, he says this of Architecture and Memory:

We may live without her {architecture}, and worship without her, but we cannot remember without her. How cold is all history, how lifeless all imagery, compared to that which the living nation writes, and the uncorrupted marble bears! How many pages of doubtful record might we not often spare, for a few stones left one upon another! The ambition of the old Babel builders was well directed for this world: there are but two strong conquerors of the forgetfulness of men, Poetry and Architecture; and the latter in some sort includes the former, and is mightier in its reality; it is well to have, not only what men have thought and felt, but what their hands have handled, and their strength wrought, and their eyes beheld, all the days of their life. The age of Homer is surrounded with darkness, his very personality with doubt. Not so that of Pericles: and the day is coming when we shall confess, that we have learned more of Greece out of the crumbled fragments of her sculpture than even from her sweet singers or soldier historians. And if indeed there be any profit in our knowledge of the past, or any joy in the thought of being remembered hereafter, which can give strength to present exertion, or patience to present endurance, there are two duties respecting national architecture whose importance it is impossible to overrate; the first, to render the architecture of the day, historical; and, the second, to preserve, as the most precious of inheritances, that of past ages.

Too many of our masonic temples are being lost every day because of a deliberate disregard for their history, their beauty, and as Ruskin so beautifully puts it, their memory. No, Freemasonry is not a building. But the buildings, the temples, are a part of what we are. And the temples built by our great-grandfathers, whether magnificent or humble, are deserving of all of the respect and care we can muster. Too many times lodge trustees pitch these overboard without exhausting every possibility of saving them. The brethren who came before us expected us to do greater things, not lesser ones. And how sad they would be to know we would shove their achievements overboard, only to move to a steel pole barn in a corn field, simply because the roof they put over our heads was costly to repair. They scrimped and sacrificed to create meeting spaces filled with detail and love. The least we can do is keep them painted, cleaned and ready for a generation that does not think of them as a white elephant.

Not every masonic building is a masterpiece, worth saving at any cost. And we have too many buildings for a membership of our current size. But too many irreplaceable temples are gone, and more are in danger.

As Ruskin says,

What we have ourselves built, we are at liberty to throw down; but what other men gave their strength, and wealth, and life to accomplish, their right over does not pass away with their death ; still less is the right to the use of what they have left vested in us only. It belongs to all their successors. It may hereafter be a subject of sorrow, or a cause of injury, to millions, that we have consulted our present convenience by casting down such buildings as we choose to dispense with. That sorrow, that loss we have no right to inflict.

Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes

Look out, Shelock Holmes fans. Director Guy Ritchie and Robert Downey Jr. spoke yesterday at London's Freemasons Hall on Great Queen Street about their new, big budget screen version of the stories of Sherlock Holmes. Some scenes for the film will be shot at the United Grand Lodge of England's London headquarters.

Jude Law will play Dr John Watson; Kelly Reilly will play Watson's love interest, Mary; Rachel McAdams will play Irene Adler "The Woman"; and Mark Strong as Blackwood. No mention of Moriarty.

With Ritchie at the helm, it will be a big, budget, high-action affair. I'm not sure the Baker Street Irregulars are quite ready for that.

Still hard to beat "Murder By Decree."

Photo: LtoR - Guy Ritchie, Kelly Reilly, Robert Downey Jr, Rachel McAdams and Mark Strong

Thursday, October 02, 2008

No Banker Left Behind

We at Hodapphaüs are engaged in some financial dealings concerning our business in the next two weeks, and are justifiably twitchy over the "crisis" mongering going on across the landscape.

Therefore, to show just how much we care and want the "crisis" to be averted, we are supporting the "No Banker Left Behind" bill making its way across the hall from the Senate to the Congress. To show our support, we are wearing the official "No Banker Left Behind" ribbon of care, knowing full well that, without our support, and our tax money of course, the only "Change" we'll have come election day will be dimes and nickels.

Ribbons are available for an involuntary donation of a paltry $700,000,000,000.