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


Saturday, July 31, 2010

Omaha, NE Prince Hall Masons Start Fatherhood Program

A nonprofit group has been formed by Prince Hall Masons in Omaha, Nebraska, to reduce violence by encouraging fatherhood and mentoring. The Fatherhood-Family Initiative was announced today, and the Masons are working with a local Catholic school on the project.

See "Program’s aim: More father time" at Omaha.com:

Leaders of the effort hope to counter long-term trends of increasing numbers of children growing up without fathers, said Chip Maxwell, executive director of the initiative and a former senator and Douglas County Board member.

They’ll start simply — with weekly informal basketball games at Jesuit Middle School, 2311 N. 22nd St., for sons and their fathers or other father-figures in their lives. The organizers said tthat hey hope the boys and men will bond in the Home Team Sports Club and that the initiative can help link the families with services they might need. They want to expand the program to other sports and activities.

“The basketball is just a vehicle for getting people together,” Maxwell said. “The relationship is the thing. For those who are estranged, we hope to help re-introduce in the young men’s lives the stabilizing factor of a father or a father figure.”

James Karnegis, a retired Omaha cardiologist and long-time Masonic leader, came up with the idea. He said he believes trends in American family structures — of children being born to unwed mothers and growing up without fathers — “will destroy our country” if they continue.


A nonprofit group formed by Masonic organizations, the Omaha Masonic Community Center Foundation, will sponsor the initiative.

Members of the Prince Hall Lodge, a historically African-American group of Masons based at 2418 Ames Ave. that gives college scholarships among other community service, are among the leaders and volunteers in the initiative being announced at 9 a.m. Saturday at Jesuit Middle School.

There are many good efforts aimed at reducing violence in north Omaha, and this one focuses specifically on fatherhood, said Eric Critchlow, grand master of Prince Hall Lodge and a member of the Fatherhood-Family Initiative’s board of directors.
“We need strong male leadership in the city,” Critchlow said. “We want to try to unite the father with the child, get them off the street, give them some positive guidance and leadership, have them do more things with their kids and become more a family unit.”

Once volunteers get to know the families, they might learn ways that they can use their community and Mason connections to help them find jobs or get needed services, said Fred Wisdom, a Prince Hall member who will volunteer as a coach and mentor.
The program is for boys in fourth through 12th grades, and there is a $5 annual membership fee. Any son and father or father figure (such as an uncle or grandfather) may participate. Organizers want the boys to choose who participates with them, but it can’t be a different person each time, Maxwell said. Organizers deliberately are not providing outside mentors or father figures, because their purpose is to help build family relationships, he said.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dan Brown's Freemason Novel Sets Paperback Record in UK

According to TheBookseller.com, last week's release of the UK paperback edition of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol sold a massive 118,230 copies in just three days—the biggest ever first-week sale of any paperback novel. That works out to 27 copies per minute.

The hardback edition sold 550,946 copies in three days in the UK upon release in September last year, smashing the all-time sales record for a hardback novel. It has since gone on to sell 1,370,000 copies in the UK.

Just in case there was any doubt left in anyone's mind that there's little interest in Freemasonry. If you haven't read it, the novel is a 509 page love letter to the fraternity.

Anchor Books will not release the U.S. paperback edition until October 19th, with an initial 4 million copies, priced at $9.99. On November 2nd, Doubleday will publish The Lost Symbol Special Illustrated Edition as a $35 hardcover.

Florida's Gainesville Lodge No. 41

The brethren of Gainesville Lodge No. 41, in Gainesville, Florida got some decent coverage in the local paper today.

Have a look at Masons offer a look inside by Patrick Annesty.

The average age of members at the downtown Gainesville lodge 20 years ago was 70, said [WM Ray M.Davis Jr]. Today, it's around 50.

"A lot of University of Florida students are joining," said Tony Spitaleri, the presiding officer of the Waldo Masonic lodge, who is also a member of Lodge No. 41.

He estimates that more than 10 UF students are now members. "They go to other communities and transfer to other lodges, but they join and are raised here," Spitaleri said.


"You take a person coming in, and they are real rough, like a quarry stone," Davis said. "You chip, polish, scrape, and pretty soon it becomes a beautiful piece of stone for a building. But we work on the building within (oneself)."

These are principles of historic stonemasons that shape the modern Mason outlook, or "speculative masonry," Davis said.

"We don't use brick and mortar to build, but we use the principles of them because that's what makes a strong house," Davis said. These same principles are used to build a strong community, he said.

As far as the secretive nature of the organization, there's an explanation for that, too.

Spitaleri said that like college fraternities, secrets are used to ensure the authenticity of those who claim to be members.

"Secrets are one way to make sure people are not lying to you," he said. "There's ways of asking people questions that if they can't answer them properly, you know they are not a member."

Davis said the origins of Masonry trace to King Solomon's Temple in about 600 B.C., though the sect was not officially recognized until 1717, when the Catholic church ended its persecution of Masons.

The Gainesville lodge was chartered in 1857, and the cornerstone for the current building was laid in 1908. Local Masons also laid the cornerstone for the University Auditorium in 1922. During World War II, the lodge opened its doors to house servicemen.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Statewide Texas Scottish Rite Convocation in Waco, July 31-Aug 1

Texas brethren, mark your calendars for the 2010 State-Wide Philip Crosby Tucker Legacy Scottish Rite Convocation!

The Scottish Rite Orient of Texas (All nine Valleys — 9! Count 'em 9!— including 3 of the 5 largest in the U.S. - Dallas, Houston and Fort Worth) will be having its first ever statewide Biennial Convocation at the Scottish Rite Library & Museum in Waco on July 31-August 1.

This promises to be an outstanding event! There will be degrees, break-out sessions, a banquet and more. The Masonic Society will have a table there. Stop by and see Brother Roberto Sanchez.

The website for the event is at www.texasscottishrite.org

(Many thanks to Brother Pete Normand for the information.)

More proof we Masons rule the world

Bass Pro Shop in Clarksville, Indiana

Saturday, July 24, 2010

X-Oriente Masonic Internet Radio Returns

Brother Eric Diamond's X-Oriente Masonic internet radio program has been off the air for a while. He reports that he's been sidetracked by full-time double major graduate school, but he says three new episodes are in the pipeline.

Episode 39 is now up on the website. It kicks off a multi-episode look at the basics of Kabbalah and how it intersects with Freemasonry, from a very traditional perspective, with lots of Hebrew and lots of context.

Glad you're back, Eric.

Metropolis at the GW Memorial Wednesday 7/28

Alexandria Washington Lodge No. 22, which meets in the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia, continues its 'Silent Summer' film series in the GW Memorial Theater. Silent films will be run Wednesday evenings in the theater this month at 7:30.

This Wednesday, July 28th will feature Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

The next Wednesday, August 4th, will be F.W. Murnau's Sunrise.

Sponsored by the Lodge, admission is free and open to the public.

Thanks to W:.B:. Andrew Hammer, AW22's Master this year, for the heads up.

Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22 is one of the oldest Masonic Lodges in the United States. It was founded in 1783 as Lodge No. 39, under warrant from the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. Five years later, the Lodge sought and received its charter from the Grand Lodge of Virginia, as Alexandria Lodge No 22, with George Washington listed as its Charter Master. In 1805, the Lodge changed its name to honor its most famous and illustrious brother.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Brad Cofield and the 1613 Nation Fraud

The trouble with the internet is that any 13 year old nerd with computer savvy can build a website that looks authentic, or feels like something far bigger and more important than it really is. One bored basement dweller with nothing but time on his hands can create endless online personas  bestow lavish honorifics on himself and his imaginary sock puppet associates, and make boundless claims of knowing the "real" truth and holding the keys to Life, the Universe and Everything. And with a group like Freemasonry that has a reputation for being secretive, the problem gets even larger. Who's legit, and who is just a con artist, proclaiming himself as the Most Frabjous and Worshipful Supreme Magus of the 12th Quadrant, with his pet cat Snowball as his assistant Hierophant? And how much harm can such pranks really cause?

The answer is, they do enough harm to be worthy of a warning now and then.

Over the last few years, I have steered clear of mentioning this subject because I didn't want such miscreants to get any more publicity than they create for themselves. But one in particular has recently crossed some appalling lines, and has caused international furors and misunderstandings - enough that it's worth warning folks who stumble across him and his hijinks.

I refer to Mr. Brad Cofield and his most recent online flimflam, "1613 Nation." Think of it as being analogous to a Nigerian e-mail scam for unsuspecting non-Masons.

Brother Ed King at www.masonicinfo.com has done a good job in detailing Cofield's online antics since he first appeared on the online scene in 2006. Most regular North American Masons have driven him off of online message boards and banned him from their blog comment areas (this one included). His style is pretty easy to spot, even with his endless phalanx of aliases. And even recent irregular and unrecognized breakaway groups like the Grand Orient of the USA have been so pestered by him that they have tried to keep him off of their websites. But his most recent tapestry of deceit is now raising tempers in Europe, as well.

I'll refer you to Ed King's above mentioned article for the bulk of Brad's story. Cofield was initiated and passed in a regular California lodge, but was never raised to the degree of Master Mason. His FC degree was conferred in 2006 when his lodge traveled to the annual "Eblen's Cave Degree," in Kingston, Tennessee, and the experience there was apparently less than positive. Cofield was confronted with blatant racism by regular Masons there, and was rightfully disgusted by it. On his return to California, for whatever reasons, his mother lodge did not choose to advance him, and he left.

Material exists on the web that alleges Cofield had a prior history of internet stalking on a message board about dog breeding, and one lady apparently swore out a police complaint against him in February 2006. If this is indeed the same guy, he clearly has a history of not playing well with others. He will undoubtedly not react well to this posting. He brands most of those who out him for his tactics as "haters."

On the Chequered Pavement discussion forum, he has made the claim, "I was Raised in an Italian lodge, in Italian." Over the years, he has invented his own imaginary Masonic tree forts, and admitted on the same forum that he has "created" his own Rite. When the aforementioned Grand Orient of the USA was formed in Georgia in 2008, he immediately claimed he was a California member. He next created a web page for an imaginary lodge, Temple Sobek-Ra, under a group of co-Masonic "operative Egyptian Masons" called the Masoneria Egipcia del Antiguo Primitivo Rito de Memphis Misraim (M.E.A.R.P.M.M.), offering up 99 (count 'em!) degrees. To give his new lodge that little extra feel of authenticity, he appropriated for his "Magus Masonica" blog site a photo of the lavish and very real Egyptian room at the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania's building in downtown Philadelphia.

Cofield appears as the "National Head" of Memphis Misraim for Washington (state) on the MEARPMM website, which names Frank G. Ripel of Italy as the 99º Grand Hierophante of the order. (If he exists at all, Ripel is a self-proclaimed esoteric genius who has founded a busload of bogus groups, including the "Brotherhood of the Vampires." Really. Somebody get me a zombie.) The site also describes a connection between MEARPMM and the Ordo Templi Orientalis (O.T.O.), which is itself a story much too convoluted to go into here. And as the icing on the cake, the MEARPMM site also takes a moment to sing the praises of Licio Gelli. If you aren't nodding off by now, you may recall Gelli as being the Venerable Master of Italy's notorious, neo-fascist Propaganda Due (P2) lodge. Brad apparently doesn't seem to care whose company he keeps.

On July 9th of this year, Brad made this announcement:
WGH Frank G. Ripel has bestowed on me the 97º of Memphis-Misraim and the office of International Substitute Head for the English Language (Deputy International Grand Master) for the M.E.A.P.R.M.M. This is a huge responsibility and I am deeply honored.
Of course, all of this presupposes that "Frank G. Ripel" and the MEARPMM website aren't more of Brad's inventions, as well.

A little over a year ago, Cofield stepped up his activities, inventing a new pseudonym, Raum Sariel, and a new "lodge": Lodge Napoleon Bonaparte (perfectly named, both for the image of the vainglorious emperor himself, as well as the stereotypical psychotics who populate cartoons imagining themselves to be Napoleon).

Cofield's branding catch phrase for his new style of Masonry is "Post-Modern Freemasonry." According to his Lodge Napoleon website,
So, we had a few strong and dedicated Freemasons who all shared a common love, the Rite of Misraim. We all seemed to on [sic] opposite sides of the country, and even the globe. Email can only get you so far. Then a [sic] epiphany. Why not take on the approach of Fortune 500 companies with large virtual workforces?
Virtual. As in "not real."

It goes on to say,
"You will have access to the most powerful membership web portal that has ever been in the Masonic world. This is no simple calender with email and a Php message board. This includes a full dashboard, access to hundreds of in depth educational files, case studies, power point educational presentations, recorded and streamed precise alchemical and magickal operations. Not to mention you'll never be alone."
No, you sure won't, with all of Brad's alter-egos and imaginary friends to keep you company.

The Lodge Napoleon FAQ states:

A: Do I have to believe in God in order to join?

Q: No. Once again we understand that someone does not have to be a believer in any dogma or institution in order to be able to receive the light of Freemasonry. In fact your belief or lack of is considered strictly your own. We don't even ask.

Q: What Rituals do you use?

A. We work in the original speculative Rite of Misraim and the operative Egyptian Rite.

Q: In operative do you mean working with stone.

A: No, those would be operative Stonemasons. We are operative Freemasons. What this means is we work in the operative magic Masonic arts. These include the physical alchemy of the Egyptian Rite.

Q: What Grand Lodge do you belong to?

A: None. As a Post-Modern lodge we do not see value in the Grand Lodge system. We do not recognize the authority of any Grand Lodge and thus we are not recognized by them.

The 1613 Nation "Manifesto" explains,
The 1613 Nation is not a grand lodge or orient. There is no grand master nor supreme council. The 1613 Nation is a co operational community guided by principle and held together by mutual benefit and respect.
Then it goes on to explain that the rest of the pesky mainstream Masonic world is not practicing Freemasonry properly, and that his group has the true answer: "There is no greater lodge than the lodge of self. "

Sorta says it all.

His dozens of pretty websites that propagate like bunnies in a hutch all over the web are designed to look like he has scores of members and converts around the world to his "Post Modern Freemasonry," which he doesn't. He claims to have formed at least 18 lodges so far. He has simply snookered people in who don't know any better. With new interest in Freemasonry growing every day, and unsuspecting or unknowledgeable people stumbling onto his stuff, Cofield casts a growing net and convinces people that what he has is the real, authentic Freemasonry that the rest of us unsophisticated boobs in the Masonic world have callously discarded. In fact, Memphis Misraim Masonry has been a notorious degree peddling scheme since its beginnings in Europe. He has even gotten help, briefly, from talented people who have helped him create this tissue of deceit, who discover the truth after a while and walk away.

The most recent development has to do with a purported 1613 Nation lodge allegedly formed in Belgium. Blog Maçonnique, an excellent and informative blog in French, authored by Grand Orient of Belgium Mason Jiri Pragman, reported in a posting A false "Loge Liberté Chérie" and other pseudo-Loges:
The true Loge Liberté Chérie ["Beloved Liberty Lodge"] is particularly dear to the heart of the Belgian Freemasons Lodge since it symbolizes resistance against oppression. It was founded in 1943 by seven Belgian Freemasons deported as dissidents to a concentration camp, Emslandlager Esterwegen VII. It ceased work in 1944. Six of its seven founders died before [allied] liberation.

But a visitor to the Blog Maçonnique now tells us the existence of a pseudo- Loge Liberté Chérie (www.liberte1613.tk) on the web (with a contact address in Olne, [misspelled] as "Olen"). It uses the seal of the original Lodge, adding various symbols (including Solomon's seal) and the reference 1613 Nation. The site is in very bad French.
Brad has especially appealed to women who want to join Masonic lodges, but also men seeking a mixed, co-Mason experience. This is undoubtedly due to the relatively few feminine lodges quietly at work in the U.S. Women outside of Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C. find it almost impossible to find feminine lodges in their areas. Brad's lofty promises and the appearance of a large and growing organization behind him make it seem like an ideal way to establish lodges outside of the biggest urban areas. Too late, they are discovering the truth behind his tall tales. And now they seem to be spreading the word.

A talented gentleman named Darren Young helped to set up and design many of the 1613 Nation websites. Suddenly, this past Tuesday, a letter from Young, W:.M:. of "Sanctum Sanctorum Lodge" (in Scotland, if I am not mistaken) was posted on Facebook by June Lennon, W:.M:. of Lodge Circumspect, in New York City. Both were "1613 Nation" lodges. Mr. Young has requested that I remove the actual text of his posting from this blog, but in it he details his decision to sever his lodge's affiliation with Cofield and 1613 Nation, "in order to save the names and reputations of the members of Lodge Sanctum Sanctorum." He reaffirms Cofield's sock puppet creations "Raum Sariel" and "PD Black", calling him a "charlatan." Young also states that the supposed WM of the new Belgian 1613 Nation "Lodge Libertie Cherie", Jose Magnee, has denied publicly that he has had anything to do with the whole enterprise. Further claims that Magnee is establishing a "1613 Museum" in honor of the original Loge Libertie Cherie are also false.

June Lennon (who was originally initiated, passed and raised in a lodge under the legitimately known Grande Loge Feminine de Belgique) actually traveled to Belgium to investigate Cofield's claims about Lodge Libertie Cherie, and was less than thrilled to discover it was a complete hoax. She and the members of her Lodge Circumspect have also fled Cofield's group, and have formed an independent lodge of women Freemasons. Of course, Cofield immediately claimed that Circumspect was repopulated almost overnight with eager new members. Further discussions of the topic have been heated on the San Diego Freemason blog, written by a member of Lodge New Isis #8 of the George Washington Union of Freemasons of North America, an actual co-Masonic lodge chartered in California by the Grand Orient of France.

All of this is a tiny back alley in the world of regular, recognized Freemasonry. On the one hand, if someone finds that these irregular lodges offer them a different path that they prefer over what the overwhelming mainstream or Prince Hall lodges in the U.S. provide, God love 'em, and more power to them. They aren't welcome in my lodge, but they know in their hearts whether they are Freemasons or not. But the concern is that with literally millions of people now discovering Freemasonry for the first time, snake oil peddlers like Cofield sing a siren song and get them involved in an elaborate sham and practical joke. What started out as clearly an attempt to lash out at the Masons who gave him a poor experience in his first lodge (or who he just couldn't get along with, whatever the reason), has turned into an obsessive practical joke for him, with dozens of webpages, blog sites, and even foreign language pages. Mainstream and Prince Hall grand lodges need to know what he's up to in our back yards. And non-Masons hunting for more information about the fraternity need to be aware of his activities, as well.

If you are looking to join the Freemasonry that is recognized the world over as regular and the legitimate heir to the traditions of the lodges that formed the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717, click here to find the grand lodge for your state or region. It also includes links to the historically African-American grand lodges of Prince Hall Freemasonry.

If you are female and are looking for information about feminine Freemasonry, click here. The organizations listed have a long history and tradition, and are not fly by night internet inventions.

And to read the very real story of the heroic Masons who founded Lodge Libertie Cherie behind the wire at Esterwegen concentration camp, see the English language translation on Wikipedia here. Cofield's attempts to steal that heritage from those men is beneath contempt.

There are certain folks who believe their own brand of Masonry is the only authentic variety in the world and everybody else is wrong, even if it is just seven deluded members marching around in their socks in somebody's living room. Cofield has duped a small number of people with his practical joke, but all lodges having anything to do with the "1613 Nation" should be considered bogus—if they exist at all. These include:

Lodge Morganrote -
Dortmund , Germany (Rectified Rite of Misraim)

Lodge Human Stone -
Tel Aviv, Israel (Rite of Schroeder)

Lodge Ptah -
Conyers, Georgia (Rite of Memphis)

Lodge Via Hermeticae -
Mexico City, D.F. (Memphis-Misraim & French Modern Rite)

Lodge Corazon- Mexico City, D.F. (National Mexican Rite)

Lodge Ojo de Horus -
Quinto, Ecuador (Memphis-Misraim)

Lodge Helios -
Johannesberg, South Africa (Memphis)

Lodge Hera-Pleasanton -
CA (Hellenic Rite)

Lodge Artemis -
Charlotte, NC (Hellenic Rite)

Lodge Demeter- Rogers -
AR (Hellenic Rite)

Lodge Star of Minerva's Dawn -
Quinto, Ecuador (Hellenic Rite)

Lodge of Nine Tears -
Miami, FL (Misraim)

Lodge Napoleon Bonaparte -
(Rite of Misraim)

Lodge John Yarker -
London, England (in formation) (Memphis-Misraim)

Lodge of the White Rose -
Washington D.C. (in formation) (Memphis Misraim)


In October, Brad announced even more brand spankin' new, imaginary lodges, in ever farther-flung corners of the globe, proving he has enough gall to be divided into three parts:

Lodge of the Standing Skull (!)
Santa Cruz, Boliva

Lodge Even Hahamim
Jerusalem, Israel

Lodge Proletarius
Chicago, IL USA

Lodge Lux et Veritas
Phoenix , AZ USA

Lodge Romanov
Moscow, Russia


Updated known aliases of Brad Cofield on Facebook and other Masonic forums:

Raum Sariel
Frater Pyrrho
Soror Rose
Soror Agape
Frater Atrum Sapientiae
Sekhet Bast Ra
Ville Valo
Abd Class
Frater Ardor
Frater Oz
Frater Xavior
P. D. Black
Michelle Walker
Joshua Walker, aka "Hyperion"
Asmoday Remliel

In January 2011 he was finally tossed off of the "Masonic Forum of Light" for threatening to sexually assault a Freemason's wife. Not only was Cofield banned from that board which is open to even the fringiest of "Masonic" groups, but so was anyone else—real or invented—claiming to have any connection with the 1613 Nation.

Indianapolis Lands Shriners Convention in 2013

A good friend passed along a a win for the home team here in Indianapolis.

Oh sure, we'll have the Super Bowl here in 2012. Big deal.

The real news is that the Imperial Session for Shriners International in 2013 will be hosted here. As long as that whole Mayan Calendar thing is a bust. Dates are June 30th - July 4th, 2013.

Approximately 10,000 Shriners attended the 136th annual session in Toronto earlier this month.

Other upcoming sessions will be Denver, CO in 2011 and Charlotte, NC in 2012.

Notable Masonic Events in August

July 31-August 1, 2010
Scottish Rite Library & Museum in Waco
Scottish Rite Orient of Texas, featuring 9 Valleys (including 3 of the 5 largest in the U.S. - Dallas, Houston and Fort Worth) will hold its first ever Biennial Convocation.

August 5, 2010
Southeastern Masonic Conference
Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina
50th anniversary of the annual conference, at the Mt. Pleasant Holiday Inn.

August 15-21, 2010
Western Esotericism and its Boundaries: Between Discourses of Identity and Difference at IAHR Quinquennial World Congress, Toronto, Ontario.

Aug. 20-22, 2010
Midwest Conference of Masonic Grand Lodges
Best Western Ramkota Hotel, Sioux Falls, SD

August 28-29, 2010
Masonic Restoration Foundation’s National Symposium, Colorado Springs, CO. Attendance capped at 120. www.traditionalobservance.com

August 30-31, 2010
Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction Annual Meeting In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dan Brown's Lost Symbol Paperback Released Today In U.K.

Dan Brown's novel, The Lost Symbol, has been released in the U.K. today in paperback.

Anchor Books will not release the U.S. paperback edition until October 19th, with 4 million copies, priced at $9.99.

On November 2nd, Doubleday will publish The Lost Symbol Special Illustrated Edition (right), a $35 hardcover.

Meanwhile, Hollywood sources are still saying the movie adaptation is due in theaters in 2012, again featuring Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon.

Lodges and Grand Lodges need to keep these dates in mind for open houses and other events, as well as being on the lookout for new interest growing in the fraternity.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ken Follett's 'Pillars Of The Earth" Miniseries Premieres Friday

Freemasons take note: the story of medieval operative stonemasons constructing a cathedral comes to life in STARZ' new miniseries "Pillars Of The Earth", from the acclaimed Ken Follett novel.

From the STARZ website:

This epic tale of passion and greed begins when a mysterious secret disrupts the succession to the English crown and an unlikely member of King Henry’s family takes the throne. A power struggle between Henry’s daughter, Maud, and nephew, Stephen, causes England to be torn by war as battles rage for the rightful heir. Meanwhile, Bishop Waleran Bigod and the Hamleigh family manipulate the conflict to satisfy their own ruthless ambitions. Within this tumultuous setting, Prior Philip fights insurmountable obstacles to keep Kingsbridge and his dream of building a magnificent cathedral alive. The task is daunting, but master-mason Tom Builder, his gifted stepson, Jack, and noblewoman Aliena work together to achieve their dreams. And in the process, the long-hidden secret is revealed.

Premiering July 23, The Pillars of the Earth will be the epic event of the summer. Starring Ian McShane (“Deadwood”) as Waleran Bigod, Rufus Sewell (The Holiday) as Tom Builder, Matthew Macfadyen (Frost/Nixon) Prior Philip, Eddie Redmayne (The Good Shepherd) as Jack, Hayley Atwell (Captain America) as Aliena and Donald Sutherland (“Dirty Sexy Money”) as Bartholomew.

Premieres Friday, July 23rd: Encore 10:00pm, Starz 10:00pm, and Saturday, July 24th: Starz Edge 12:00am

Journal of the Masonic Society Issue 9, Summer 2010

Issue #9, Summer 2010 of the Journal of the Masonic Society is in the tender clutches of the postal system and should start appearing in mailboxes next week. The standard disclaimers and snide commentary about the mail system apply.

President’s Message - Come On Down and Find Out
News of the Society Conferences, Speeches, Symposia & Gatherings
Masonic News
From the Editor - Tooting Masonry's Vuvuzela

Books, Arts, Styles & Manners
The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners For The Modern Man by Brett and Kate McKay
Haunted Chambers—The Lives of Early Women Freemasons by Karen Kidd
Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions by Richard Smoley and Jay Kinney
Old Masters Scotch Whisky
Features and Reports
The Way Less Traveled by Stephen M. Osborn
A possible Cabalistic explanation for the “Point within a Circle” by Leon Zeldis
Down the Path of Proper Research by Michael R. Poll • Our Esoteric Odyssey: How We Resurrected a Long-Lost, 220-Year Old Masonic Oddity by Randy Williams and Stephen Dafoe
A Trip to Cuba: One Man’s View of a Masonic Journey by Gerald Connally
Laissez les bons temps rouler at Etoile Polaire Lodge No. 1 by Marc H. Conrad
Masonry in the Mountains: 2010 Masonic Spring Workshop in Kananaskis, Alberta by Randy Williams • Alchemy and the First Degree of Freemasonry by Donald J. Tansey
Hallowed Halls by Jason E. Marshall
The George Washington Masonic Memorial Freemasons’ White House Stones Exhibit by Mark A. Tabbert
Cryptic Council of Research by Jonathan Horvath
Masonic Treasures: Mendocino Lodge No. 179; 1868 Past Master Jewel

This issue’s cover features “Silence,” one of the first commissions for famed Beaux-Arts sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907). The statue was moved in 1922 from the Grand Lodge of New York’s headquarters to the Tompkins Chapel at the Masonic Care Community in Utica, NY. Saint-Gaudens sculpted many Civil War monuments, founded the Cornish Art Colony in New Hampshire, and later designed the twenty-dollar “double eagle” gold piece for the U.S. Mint in 1905. Photo by Christopher L. Hodapp

Masonic Society Semi-Annual Meeting in New Orleans 9/24-25

Click image to enlarge.

Masonic Society Dinner in Albuquerque, NM

Saturday was a fantastic evening in Albuquerque, NM, as W:.B:. Ken Davis is New Mexico's Masonic Society 2nd Circle Chairman (He is a Past Master of Lodge Vitruvian No. 767 in Indianapolis, and now transplanted to NM). Ken arranged the first dinner meeting of the New Mexico 2nd Circle last Saturday evening.

It was the perfect way to end the Rocky Mountain Masonic Conference weekend.

Jay Williams and Grand Master Gary Deck. Yes. Gary is that tall.

We had about 32 brethren, non-Masons and ladies come out for the evening, including New Mexico Grand Master R:.W:. Gary M. Deck. We received wonderful support, especially from members of Albuquerque Lodge No. 60 and Sandia Mountain Lodge No. 72. I was honored to speak to this gathering (dinner at the Chama River Brewing Company was fantastic, BTW), and engage in the 7 traditional toasts. My deepest gratitude goes to Ken Davis and his wife Betty for their hard work setting up the evening.

W:.B:. Adam Hathaway and me.

This is exactly what the 2nd Circle groups were envisioned as - good food, a little education, with a lot of fun and new friendships. The 2nd Circles are the local component of the Masonic Society. When you join TMS, you are automatically a part of the 2nd Circle in your state, province or region. The goal is for these groups to meet occasionally, get to know each other, share ideas, and expand the Society among the Masonic community. We'd like 2nd Circles to man tables at Grand Lodge sessions and other state or regional meetings. They can arrange local symposia, as was done in May in London with authors Bob Cooper and Michael Baigent. We have no intention of trying to replace research lodges or other Masonic clubs or organizations—it is our aim to be their supportive partners and take part in local events. And The Journal of the Masonic Society is always receptive to papers and articles from brethren in research lodges and groups. It is unfortunately the nature of these groups for a brother to read a paper at a lunchtime meeting, and for it to never be seen again. The Journal gives brethren the opportunity to share their hard work with a wider audience (we currently have members in 16 countries).

Thanks especially to W:.B:. Adam Hathaway for the gift, and to Brother Jay Williams for the beautiful sand painting and book. And I want to especially express my appreciation to Grand Master Deck and his officers for their warm hospitality and the wonderful gift of honorary membership in the Grand Lodge of New Mexico. It was truly a fantastic weekend.

If you're not a member of the Masonic Society, join up here.

(Photos courtesy Jay Williams)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Randy Williams New Director at Masonic Society

Bro. Randy Williams of Edmonton, Alberta has been appointed as the new Fellow Director on the Masonic Society's Board of Directors. Bro. Randy will be serving in a long-vacant position that went unfilled when the previous appointee had to bow out for personal reasons.

Randy is the co-editor (with Stephen Dafoe) of the recent book Esoteric Odyssey: Thomas Marryat's Philosophy of Masons, and he is a popular speaker in lodges throughout Alberta. He comes to us with extensive experience in leadership and planning for Masonic events large and small, from serving as Sessions Chair for the annual Masonic Spring Workshop in Kananaskis to steering an inter-lodge study group for Edmonton Masons.

Most members of TMS probably know Randy best for his work as Assistant Editor on (and frequent contributor to) The Journal of the Masonic Society. As editor, I have had the distinct pleasure of working with him for a while now, and his energy and enthusiasm is second to none. He is a tremendous addition to the Board.

European Union to Hold Summit With Atheists and Freemasons

According to a story today at euobserver.com, European Union officials in Brussels will hold a fall summit with atheists and Freemasons. It is a political dialogue that is supposed to parallel the yearly summit the EU holds with Europe's religious leaders.

Obviously, the first question on the minds of mainstream Freemasons is how did we get grouped together with atheists as a bloc?

From the article EU to hold atheist and freemason summit by Leigh Phillips:

While the EU is a secular body, the three European presidents, of the commission, parliament and EU Council, alongside two commissioners, on Monday met with 24 bishops, chief rabbis, and muftis as well as leaders from the Hindu and Sikh communities. The annual dialogue, which has taken place since 2005, is for the first time this year made legally obligatory under Article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Under pressure from Belgium, the EU has been forced to hold a summit for atheists, scheduled for 15 October.

Under pressure from Belgium, which constitutionally protects and financially supports humanist organisations as well as churches, the EU has been forced to hold a mirror-image summit, but of atheists, scheduled for 15 October.

However, in a move that perplexed and annoyed humanist groups, the EU atheist summit will also welcome under the rubric of ‘non-religious groups', the Freemasons, the secretive fraternal organisation, according to commission spokeswoman Katharina von Schnurbein.

"I find it rather odd," David Pollock, president of the European Humanist Federation, told EUobserver. "Some of the Grand Lodges are secularist organisations, and strongly for separation of church and state, but they also retain all sorts of gobbledygook and myths such as the Great Architect of the Universe."

Emerging in the late 16th century in England and subsequently spread throughout the world, the Freemasons split in 1877 between the English-speaking lodges and their continental counterparts over the question of god. Anglophone Freemasons require that their members believe in a deity, while continental freemasons do not.

"Their public face is that they do charitable work and they do indeed engage in this, but there are also rituals involving blindfolded candidates with their trouser-legs rolled up during initiation," continued Mr Pollock.

"It's boys' games sort of a thing."

Ah, yes. That "trouser leg" business. They just think that's a laugh riot in Europe. Hilarious. They left out "dodgy handshakes."

Pollock continues:

"Neither religious groups nor non-religious ones have any greater claim to taking up the time of commissioners."

"But sadly we lost that battle, and so with the atheist summit, at least we're being treated equally, although I'd rather if we were there along with the churches. Instead we're being bundled off with the Freemasons."

I can promise Mr. Pollock, we're no happier about it ourselves. The overwhelming majority of the world's Freemasons require a personal belief in God for admission into their lodges. While the Grand Orient de France does not, and is considered the largest grand lodge of Masons in France, they have been shunned by most Masons in the world specifically because they allow atheists to join and require no belief in a Supreme Being. Along with now allowing their lodges to initiate women.

According to the commission's Ms von Schnurbein, Brussels views the Freemasons as a "community of conscience interconnected throughout Europe," and "a form of humanist organisation."

She dismissed concerns that while churches and atheist groups are free for anyone to join, membership in the Freemasons, a private organisation of men, with some separate Grand Lodges for women, is by invitation only and requires initiation fees and an annual subscription.

The EUobserver attempted to speak with the United Grand Lodge of England, the oldest Grand Lodge of masons in the world, regarding this development but without success.

I'm guessing our English brethren will not be rushing out to Heathrow to catch a flight to Brussels in October.

This is undoubtedly a result of the Grand Orient de France and the equally irregular Grand Orient de Belgique (Grand Orient of Belgium) attempts to have greater influence on EU commissioners. (See Grand Orient Freemasonry and the European Union from February 20th, 2010). Mr. Pollock's heartburn over being lumped in with the Masons stems from Grand Orient Freemasons opening a bureau in Brussels "to lobby against the rising influence of religious organisations in the EU institutions." Jean-Michel Quillardet, former Grand Master of the Grand Orient de France, was quoted in February as saying the role of Freemasonry is, in part, to "impose the universalist conception of the Enlightenment."

Grand Orient Freemasonry has a long reputation of getting entangled with governments. Unfortunately, few outsiders make the distinction between Grand Orient Freemasonry, and the rest of the Masonic world that has an entirely different view of its role in the lives of its members.

Maine Masonic College 2010 Roaring Success

This past weekend was huge in the Masonic world. While I was out at the the Rocky Mountain Masonic Conference 2010 in Albuquerque, Brother Ed King passed along news of something just as important in the world of Masonic education at the opposite end of the country. The Maine Masonic College held their first Convocation, and it too was a roaring success.

Ed notes that they also had an all-star lineup of Masonic luminaries. Brother Mark Tabbert from the George Washington National Masonic Memorial, and author of American Freemasons: Three Centuries of Building Communities, addressed the topic of how our society is changing through his presentation titled ‘The Tenet of Truth: how it has been interpreted over the last 250 years and how it is interpreted today ‘. Continuing with the theme of change in the world and Freemasonry, Bro. Robert G. Davis spoke on ‘The new American Mason: generations together in private conclaves of manhood’. William D. Moore, the author of Masonic Temples: Freemasonry, Ritual Architecture, and Masculine Archetypes also was there and spoke on ‘Freemasonry and the problem of the Ph.D.’ explaining why those seeking careers in academia are now avoiding anything which might appear to not be laser-focused on their campus involvement.

Dick Fletcher, the Executive Secretary of the Masonic Service Association was there to lead a panel discussion on ‘Issues we sweep under the rug’ which included panelists Richard Curtis, former editor of the Scottish Rite Northern Jurisdiction’s Northern Light magazine, Robert Davis, and Ed. From homosexuality and changing sexual roles to bogus Masonry, it was a thought-provoking discussion.

The Convocation’s theme was “Planning for the Future: Reaching for Humanitas ~ Building for Humanity” and continuing that theme, Wayne T. Adams, a Past Grand Master of Maine who has done presentations in a number of jurisdictions, headed a discussion panel in which he presented his overview of where we as Freemasons can be headed, if we choose to do so. Panelists included two very successful young lodge Masters, W:.B:.s Randy Elliott and Chris Disotto.

Ed presented a romp through the world of Masonic education showing how various communications modalities like the internet and the iPhone are changing Freemasonry. Ed has been and continues to be nearly everywhere online. Many Masons online today know Ed through his long-time endeavor masonicinfo.com. Dr. Eric Kuntz, a child psychiatrist with a long and lasting interest in the psychology of symbols and ritual, talked about ‘Translating our Masonic learning into practice’ and those who’ve been to Eric’s presentations simply can’t get enough.

At the Friday night banquet, Philosophy professor Michael W. Howard from the University of Maine at Orono spoke on ‘The legacy of the Enlightenment: Challenges and Responses’. The program was conceived by Past Grand Master Walter M. Macdougall, now a retired professor of philosophy from UMO. Walter’s just published book, “Freemasonry, The Vital Exploration”, is one which any Mason will enjoy. It blends thoughtful analysis of our Craft with warm memories of times gone by. It’s available now from Macoy Publishing. The Masons of Maine revere Walter, as he does them, and this program reflected both his exceptional mind and tireless efforts.

The location was at the new Hollywood Slots Hotel in Bangor, Maine’s only gambling facility, but I’m told that not a single person left wearing a barrel. In fact, I understand that the food was so sumptuous that several attendees will need new belts for a time, a small price to pay. I am, of course, now immune to the allure of food's tempting tentacles. Not even Ed's sensual descriptions of stuffed French Toast will make me stray.

There are loads of exciting things happening in Masonic education today, and my congratulations to Maine for their leadership in this area. The Maine Masonic College has a completely unique program unmatched, as far as I know, by other jurisdictions. They offer lifelong learning type courses which, while based on the seven liberal arts and sciences, reach for the practical and extend that education to, not only Freemasons, but their families and communities as well. They offer extension and classroom courses, field trips, book recommendations, and more. I applaud them for this obviously successful program and wish them all the best as they move forward in their endeavors. I commented over the weekend that, up until the last few years, these types of gatherings were uncommon. But while many were sitting in bars wagging their fingers and shouting, "Ya know what's wrong with Freemasonry?!" more than a few brethren were stepping up to the plate and doing something more constructive than just idle bitching. These gatherings seem to be building great momentum, and the internet allows them to be publicized farther and faster than ever before. Positive brethren are sharing their knowledge, and new men are coming along with new points of view.

I keep telling everyone we live in an exciting moment of time as Masons. Weekends like this keep proving it.

Many, many thanks to Ed for passing along a very detailed account of the event. No doubt about it. I gotta get to Maine.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Author Allen Roberts' Widow Dorothy Passes

I never had the opportunity to know the Masonic author Allen E. Roberts in person. He died in 1997, the year before I joined the fraternity. But his legacy lives on through his prolific writings, which are now predominantly published by the publishing company he started, Anchor Communications. Allen's son Ken Roberts continues to publish his father's books.

Word comes now from Brother Ken that his mother, Allen's wife Dorothy Grimes Roberts, passed away peacefully on July 9th, and was laid to rest beside her husband and her son Brian last week. Undoubtedly there are many of you who did know Allen and Dorothy. My deepest condolences to Ken and his family.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Rocky Mountain Masonic Conference 2010

We wrapped up the Rocky Mountain Masonic Conference in Albuquerque this morning, and it was an outstanding program. Yesterday began with representatives from the Conference's attending jurisdictions discussing, not what's wrong with Freemasonry, but what is going right for them in their jurisdictions. Great ideas were shared, and it was truly a productive series of remarks. The remarkable message I kept hearing over and over is that education and leadership programs are working, popular, and having positive effects. That is great news for all of us. More important, cookie-cutter solutions don't work everywhere, so the answer is to provide a wide range of programs, that are at their best when they are grass-roots solutions created by the lodges. It was one more illustration that we all need to share our successes and our failures, to help other lodges find the path that is best for them. Active members build and restore lodges by making them a place they can't wait to come back to. Grand Lodges can't do that for them.

I was humbled to be included on the same program with three men I have long admired: Art de Hoyos, Neil Neddermeyer, and Rex Hutchens. In retrospect, I think it was as close to a perfectly balanced lineup as I have ever seen in a Masonic conference.

Instead of prepared remarks, Arturo de Hoyos fielded questions from the audience, on everything from Mormonism and Masonry to Albert Pike. Art has an amazing memory, speaks and reads several languages, and has studied the writings of Pike and others, along with the written rituals and arcana of the fraternity since its beginnings, perhaps in more depth than anyone alive. The question session allowed him to explore avenues a more structured talk would have missed.

Since 1999, Neil Neddermeyer has amassed quite a collection of anecdotes and practical applications to the fraternity—you might best know him for his weekly newsletter CINOSAM (Masonic spelled backwards). Neil gave a rousing presentation about how we present Masonry to our members, with entertainingly practical applications to real-life situations. He stressed the importance of our legends for teaching Masons, because the Truth is in the parable. In an allegory about the fraternity, he told the story of Heinz ketchup and how they wrestled for decades with the problem of getting their sauce out of the troublesome bottle. Company advisors wanted to water down the product, compromising the quality. The real answer was to think differently about the bottle itself, not the ketchup. And he passed along a cautionary tale of teenaged passion and danger that was only circumvented by the whisper of good counsel in his ear by a more cautious friend (his backseat paramour and the object of his momentary and unrestrained affections). Neil puts on a presentation you won't soon forget.

Rex Hutchens is a legend in the field of Masonic scholarship. His gruff public persona belies an understanding of philosophy, symbolism, religion and language that is second to none. Rex's presentation was a rollicking slaughtering of sacred Masonic cattle. In his well-constructed opinions, in spite of what we claim, Freemasonry is a religion. He argues for a devoted study of the Bible. We claim the Bible is the rule and guide of faith, yet Masons rarely read it, or even read the passages from which our rituals and lectures are derived. He explored suggestions for different ways to present teaching in the lodge, demanding that we all seek to truly understand the words we say, and the origins of their meanings. He even explains that black is white, and vice versa.

Rex presents himself as the guy who will piss off everyone in the room with his opinions, but that was not the case here. Perhaps there was a time when the things he said would rankle Masons, but the room I was in today reacted with interest. What has happened is that the fraternity has matured intellectually, and is continuing to do so. Both Art and Rex talked about Pike's book Esoterika, his lectures of the Blue Lodge degrees. Pike lamented the superficial explanations in his day about the degrees of the lodge, and wondered why Masons simply accepted them and didn't ask serious questions about the ritual. There's a new crop of men joining this fraternity who are finally asking those questions, seeking the answers, and not leaving when no one can give them the easy explanations. The fraternity is valuing education again, and that was clear in the presentations this week. And as I said during my talk, walking out of a Masonic conference feeling jazzed about the concepts discussed is no longer a rare occurrence. I am seeing it everywhere I go. That's a good thing for us all.

To wrap up the conference, all four of us were called back up for an open mic panel Q&A session, with truly thought provoking questions.

Many, many thanks to Grand Master Gary Deck, Grand Secretary Danny Calloway, Nate Calloway, Tom Goodgame, and everyone in New Mexico who worked so hard to make this a successful, informative and fun event. John Liley and the brethren at next year's conference in Salt Lake City have their work cut out for them. I am looking forward to being there.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Masonic Society New Mexico 2nd Circle Dinner in Albuquerque

The Masonic Society's 2nd Circle for New Mexico will hold its first meeting over a Festive Board at 7 p.m. tonight (7/17/2010). I am looking forward to meeting TMS members and their ladies!

The Chama River Brewing Company
4939 Pan American N.E., in Albuquerque

Dinner will include your choice of appetizer, your choice of entree (including 8 oz. prime rib, grilled quail, gigli with asparagus [vegetarian], grilled buffalo meatloaf, beer-battered fish and chips, BBQ baby back ribs, and seared sea scallops), dessert, and nonalcoholic beverages. (Beer, wine, and liquor will be available for an extra charge.)

Cost per person is $25, plus tax and 18% gratuity, payable at the Festive Board.

The evening will conclude with the traditional Ceremony of the Seven Toasts.

Dress for gentlemen will be jacket and tie.

Space is limited. Please notify WB Kenneth W. Davis, ken@casa1800.com, of your commitment to attend.