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


Friday, December 31, 2010

"First Night" at the George Washington Memorial

First Night celebrations take place around the world on New Year's Eve as a more family-friendly alternative to the traditional drinking, hurling, fights on the lawn, and removal of trousers over one's head that frequently marks the ringing in of the new year. The original event was founded in 1976 by a group of civic-minded artists in Boston, but it has grown around the country and the world. Coffee shops, retail stores, hotels, museums and other public buildings get transformed into performance venues to showcase a variety of local talent, with games, food, marathons, and impromptu performances popping up along the way.

Alexandria, Virginia began its First Night celebrations back in 1994, and the George Washington Masonic Memorial plays an important part. A free "trolly" shuttles folks up and down King Street in Old Town for music, stand up acts, kid-friendly events, food, shopping, dancing, and more. And because the Memorial dominates the end of Old Town on its commanding hilltop, everyone eventually heads up to gather on the lawn for the midnight fireworks. Throughout the evening, the lodge rooms, auditorium, and even the front steps at the Memorial host entertainment, as well.

Something to think about with your Masonic Temple building in your town to help be a bigger part of your community.



Photo from last night.


The Scranton, PA Masonic Temple

Remember when the Masonic Temple was the center of our communities?

No, neither do I.

But here's a couple of items out of Scranton, Pennsylvania to remind all of us of what once was, and maybe what we might strive to be again. From today's Times Tribune:

75 years ago (1935), Scranton saw a record number of New Year's Eve parties planned at hotels, night clubs and restaurants. The number was up since 1929 with the start of the Depression. The biggest party planned was at the Masonic Temple with more than 4,000 guest planning to attend.

50 years ago (1960), New Year's Eve events in the city included: Masonic Temple New Year's Eve gala featuring 5 shows, dancing with music by Al Anderson and his Orchestra and bowling for $12 a person

Fortunately, the brethren in Scranton have preserved their Temple, and it is still a big part of their community. From their website;

The Masonic Temple and Scottish Rite Cathedral was inaugurated on January 2, 1930 when the first meeting was held in the building. The rectangular plan building is clad in coursed ashlars of Indiana limestone supported by a structural steel framework. At approximately 180,000 square feet, the building houses 2 theatres, meeting rooms, a grand ballroom as well as numerous other rooms and areas.

Over time the Masonic Fraternity realized the need to utilize the facility in more non-traditional ways. A grass roots effort was launched to form a not-for-profit organization dedicated to both preserving the physical structure of the temple and providing an ongoing programming source for the community. This unique partnership of the community as well as the Masonic Fraternity has proven successful and beneficial to all parties.

Today the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple operates the facility as a regional performance and cultural hub. The Center serves as the residence for national tours of Broadway musicals and concerts and hosts many of the area’s top regional companies. It also has kept to its earliest purposes by continuing to serve as the center of Masonic activity in the region.

Happy New Year

The Passing Of The Year
by Brother Robert William Service
(1874 - 1958)

My glass is filled, my pipe is lit,
My den is all a cosy glow;
And snug before the fire I sit,
And wait to feel the old year go.
I dedicate to solemn thought
Amid my too-unthinking days,
This sober moment, sadly fraught
With much of blame, with little praise.

Old Year! upon the Stage of Time
You stand to bow your last adieu;
A moment, and the prompter’s chime
Will ring the curtain down on you.
Your mien is sad, your step is slow;
You falter as a Sage in pain;
Yet turn, Old Year, before you go,
And face your audience again.

That sphinx-like face, remote, austere,
Let us all read, whate’er the cost:
O Maiden! why that bitter tear?
Is it for dear one you have lost?
Is it for fond illusion gone?
For trusted lover proved untrue?
O sweet girl-face, so sad, so wan
What hath the Old Year meant to you?

And you, O neighbour on my right
So sleek, so prosperously clad!
What see you in that aged wight
That makes your smile so gay and glad?
What opportunity unmissed?
What golden gain, what pride of place?
What splendid hope? O Optimist!
What read you in that withered face?

And You, deep shrinking in the gloom,
What find you in that filmy gaze?
What menace of a tragic doom?
What dark, condemning yesterdays?
What urge to crime, what evil done?
What cold, confronting shape of fear?
O haggard, haunted, hidden One
What see you in the dying year?

And so from face to face I flit,
The countless eyes that stare and stare;
Some are with approbation lit,
And some are shadowed with despair.
Some show a smile and some a frown;
Some joy and hope, some pain and woe:
Enough! Oh, ring the curtain down!
Old weary year! it’s time to go.

My pipe is out, my glass is dry;
My fire is almost ashes too;
But once again, before you go,
And I prepare to meet the New:
Old Year! a parting word that’s true,
For we’ve been comrades, you and I—
I thank God for each day of you;
There! bless you now! Old Year, good-bye!

(Brother Robert W. Service was a member of Yukon Lodge No. 45 in Dawson City, Yukon, Canada. He is best remembered for his poem, The Shooting of Dan McGrew).

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry 2011 Lecture Series

The new year kicks off with a new concept in Masonic education. The Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry 2011 Lecture Series is a free presentation by the Grand Lodge of Indiana F&AM, beginning January 1, 2011 and running through December 31, 2011. The forum’s “Intenders” will present the story of the fraternity since 287 AD to present. At the conclusion of each presentation you will have an opportunity to join with the speakers in a live conversation on Facebook at the "Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry 2011 Lecture Series" page.

The presentations may be heard live on Saturdays, in English, at 2000 Hours, 8 PM EST (GMT-5) on the dates posted. The presentations will be available on the website for only a two week period after the original broadcast. The Facebook chat room will be open for one hour immediately following each presentation.

01-01-11 In the Beginning Kenneth E. Willis Jr., GM Indiana
Four Crowned Ones Dr. John S. Wade, IPM, Quatuor Coronati
01-08-11 The Contribution of Irish Freemasonry to the World Bob Bashford, PM
01-15-11 The Evolution of Scottish Freemasonry Robert L.D. Cooper, PM
01-22-11 Formation of the United Grand Lodge of England John Hamill, PM
01-29-11 The Old Charges Revisited Prof. Andrew Prescott

02-05-11 Origins and Development of Royal Arch Masonry in England Yasha Beresiner, PM
02-12-11 Evolution of the Ritual Roger Van Gorden, PGM, Indiana
02-19-11 How 'modern' Freemasonry of the 1720s emerged Matthew Scanlan 18o
02-26-11 Why “Ancients & Moderns” ? Trevor Stewart, PM

03-05-11 The Grand Lodges in British Colonies, 1850-1900 Dr. Jim Daniel, PJGW, UGLE
03-12-11 Freemasonry in India Dr. Guy Beck
03-19-11 A Vast Chain Extending Round the Whole Globe: Freemasonry and Empire Prof. Jessica L. Harland Jacobs
03-26-11 The Evolution of Ritual Christopher L. Hodapp, PM

04-02-11 The Evolution of Scandinavian Freemasonry Dr. Andreas Onnerfors
04-09-11 The Royal Secret in the U.S. before 1801 Dr. S. Brent Morris, PM
04-16-11 The Evolution of Freemasonry in Japan Yoshio Washizu, PGM, Japan
04-30-11 The Social Evolution of American Freemasonry Mark Tabbert, PM

05-07-11 Female Freemasonry Dr. Andreas Onnerfors
05-14-11 Why Brothers Killed Brothers in the American Revolution Prof. Steven Bullock
05-21-11 Freemasonry in Australia & the South Pacific Martin McGregor, GL, GL New Zealand

06-04-11 Freemasons & the Greek War of Independence Andreas C. Rizopoulos, PM
06-18-11 The Catholic Church & Freemasonry Michel L. Brodsky, PM

07-02-11 The Doctrine of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction Grayson W. Mayfield III, DDGM, SC
07-16-11 The Largest & Most Beautiful Masonic Temple in the Entire World John R. Snider, PM, Docent, Detroit,MI

08-13-11 The History of the Grand Orient of France Michel L. Brodksy, PM
08-27-11 Masonic Jurisprudence Dan Hampton, PM

09-10-11 The Real Enemies of Freemasonry Jack Buta, PM
09-24-11 Let Your Work Become Your Mark Stewart W. Miner, PGM Washington DC

10-08-11 The Lausanne Congress William Almeida DeCarvalho, PGM, Brazil
10-15-11 Part 1: Prince Hall Masonry Ralph McNeal, MWPHGL, Arizona
10-22-11 Part 2: A Triumph in Masonic Spirit Ralph McNeal, MWPHGL, Arizona
10-29-11 Cuban Freemasonry Nelson King, PM

11-05-11 Hitler & Freemasonry Aaron Kornblum, MM
11-12-11 The Evolution of Freemasonry in South Africa Tom Webb, WM, Quatuor Coronati Lodge
11-19-11 The Philosophical Background for Masonic Symbolism W. Kirk MacNulty, PM
11-26-11 Is Freemasonry a Religion? Dr. Anthony Fels

12-03-11 God and Geometry Howard Coop, PM
12-10-11 An Historical Outline of Freemasons on the Internet Trevor W. McKeown, PM
12-10-11 The Birth of Internet Lodge No. 9659 Dr. Victor Sereno, PM
12-31-11 Masonic Awareness @ the Speed of Light Albert H. McClelland, PM
Portrait of a Mason Roger L. Terry, PM
Why Not Friendship, Morality and Brotherly Love? Matthew J. McClelland, SW
Indiana Grandmaster's Closing Gregg Walbridge, DGM, Indiana

This program has been the longtime dream of Indiana's W:.B:. Al McClelland, and it is truly a labor of love on his part. Tune in Saturdays in the coming year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

King David's Lodge No. 209 in San Luis Obispo, California

The brethren of King David's Lodge No. 209 in San Luis Obispo, California have made a strong commitment to their 1913 Temple building. Over the last year, they have spent $70,000 restoring the facade to its original look. (The photo above is the "before" image. Pictures speak a thousand words. Someone please send along a new "after" view, as I can't find one online.)

From the San Luis Obispo Tribune today:

The wood-framed building, known in recent years for its long-term commercial tenant, Law’s Hobby Shop, and now for occupants Founder’s Community Bank and Central Coast Surfboards, underwent a modernization in the mid-1970s.

In 2009, the awning above Law’s Hobby Shop was torn down in anticipation of the construction project.

The new pediment is a neoclassic arch reminiscent of the 1913 facade.

The $70,000 project was paid for with rental income collected by the lodge from its tenants.

King David’s Lodge No. 209, Free and Accepted Masons was founded in 1870.

The entire building was built in 1913 for $57,093.16. More to the credit of the members of the lodge, it was debated in the 1970s whether to sell the building and more to the suburbs. Greater vision prevailed, and it remains an important part of the downtown area.

In 2005 Estero Lodge No. 719 in Morro Bay consolidated with King David's Lodge. According to their website, the lodge helps tutor children from the local elementary school, along with recognizing police and fire fighters for their service throughout the year.

Poll Results: Does your lodge use music during degrees?

New Orleans Scottish Rite History & Research Symposium June 1-4, 2011

The history of Freemasonry in Louisiana is as colorful and rich as everything else about that incredible region, with influences from France, Spain, England and the Caribbean. In celebration of the bicentennial of the creation of the Grand Consistory of Louisiana, the New Orleans Scottish Rite History & Research Symposium will be held in New Orleans June 1-4, 2011. Some of the world’s leading scholars and historians will present papers on the history and development of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, as well as high grade Scottish Rite Masonry in New Orleans.

The Masonic Society is a proud sponsor of this event.

This is designed as a public event. No paper or material will be offered or presented in a public setting which should be reserved for Masons only. This conference welcomes the non-Masonic academic community and recognizes the contributions to Masonic history which have been made by non-Masonic academics.

The Symposium will be held at the The Royal Sonesta Hotel, which is conveniently located in the historic French Quarter.

The closing dates for the submission of proposals for papers is February 11, 2011. Submit your proposal here.

Registration is $125.00 per person, including thes banquet and conference events. Registration can be accomplished online, along with hotel reservations, at http://www.neworleansaasr.info

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Grand Priory of the Scottish Reformed & Rectified Rite of the United States of America

This particular article absolutely qualifies as the pinnacle of "inside baseball" Masonic topics. The arcane methodology of Masonic regularity and recognition can sometimes be a mind numbing experience, especially when obscure appendant groups claiming an "ancient" lineage get exported beyond their original borders.

The York Rite and the Scottish Rite, once you look outside of the confines of their orderly U.S. systems, can become a confusing minefield to negotiate. What we call the York Rite, in particular, has innumerable shoals and eddies among its many small, obscure, and largely invitational organizations that go far beyond the commonly known Royal Arch, Cryptic Masons and Knight Templar groups.

One such invitational group has been the CBCS, the Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cité Sainte, or Knights Beneficent of the Holy City. Outside of the U.S., CBCS is a system of the Rite Ecossais Rectifie (Scottish Rectified Rite), and considered to be the oldest continuously operating Christian chivalric Masonic Order in the world, tracing its roots back to Baron Karl Gotthelf von Hund's "Rite of Strict Observance" in Germany in the 1750s. By widespread agreement, even though it possesses its own degree rituals for the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason degrees, like the Scottish Rite systems in the U.S. and most of Europe, it acknowledges that those degrees are the sole domain of Masonic grand lodges.

The CBCS confers the following degrees on its candidates:

• 4° Maître Ecossais (Scottish Master)
• 4.5° Perfect Master of St. Andrew
• 5° Ecuyer Novice (Squire Novice)
• 6° Chevalier Bienfaisant de la Cité Sainte (Knight Beneficient of the Holy City)
• 7° Chevalier-Profès (Professed Knight)
• 8° Chevalier-Grand Profès (Grand Professed Knight)

As with so many Masonic-derived systems, there are, naturally, conflicting organizations that all claim to be authentic. One line of descent is a Martinist order, founded by Jean Baptiste de Willermoz, based on the writings of Martinez de Pasquelly. Some have little or nothing to do with Freemasonry, and some also admit women into their ranks. Another offshoot was resurrected by Arthur Edward Waite.

Now comes the complicated part.

Since 1934, a charter has been held in the U.S. by the Grand Priory of America CBCS, which was granted by the Grand Prieuré Indépendant d'Helvetie (Great Priory of Switzerland) CBCS. The Grand Priory of America was established in Raleigh, North Carolina by Dr. William Moseley Brown and J. Raymond Shute II. As I said, this is an invitational group, and its constitution limited membership to just 81 in the U.S., dividing the country into three prefectures with 27 members each. Since its chartering, it seems there have never been any more than 45 or 50 members in the U.S. at any one time.

In 1927, the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States granted recognition to the Grand Prieuré Indépendant d'Helvetie as a Templar body. When the Grand Prieuré Indépendant d'Helvetie issued a charter to the Raleigh group to form the Great Priory of America, that placed it in direct conflict with the notion that all Masonic Knights Templar in the U.S. work under the authority of the Grand Encampment. In fact, the 1934 charter itself is worded, "Grand Prieuré Indépendant d'Helvetie de Province ORDRE TEMPLIERE." The way the jurisdictional problem got solved was that the Great Priory's leadership assured the Grand Encampment that it was nothing but a social club, conferred no Templar orders on its members, and did not exchange official representatives with other Great Priories. With that understanding, CBCS became a regular participant in the annual "Masonic Week" festivities in Washington D.C. (later Alexandria, VA) held every February. Instead of its deeply spiritual and esoteric degrees being conferred upon seekers of Masonic wisdom, it became little more than a title to be passed to the luminaries of American Masonry. Grand Masters of the Grand Encampment of the KT have, over the years, often been members of the Great Priory of America, seeing no conflict between the two groups because of the longstanding agreement.

As the years passed, Great Priory of America officers were officially invited to attend Knight Templar grand jurisdiction gatherings around the world. In 1994, the Grand Encampment declared CBCS to be an "independent Templar body" that was technically in violation of the sovereignty of the GEKT in the U.S. But as long as the high-sounding CBCS members just met for a fine dinner and conferred no degrees, the Grand Encampment turned a blind eye. Until this year.

In 2009, the Great Priory of America objected officially to a group of American Masons being initiated into the English CBCS by the Great Priory of Anglia (England) as infringing on "their" territory. If they were nothing but a supper club for Masons in need of more fancy dues cards in their wallets, why would they object to the English priory actually conferring degrees on Americans?

The essential argument boils down to this: GPA CBCS claims its degrees are a system of the Rectified Scottish Rite, which is totally different from the Knights Templar, so they are clearly not Templars, and therefore not subject to the Grand Encampment's rulings. The Grand Encampment, on the other hand, points to the CBCS charter that clearly says "Ordre Templier", as well as the fact that other Templar grand bodies around the world recognize CBCS as a Templar body. And the CBCS ritual as adopted in the U.S. clearly makes the claim that its members "are the successors, or the spiritual continuators, of those valiant Knights who of yore founded the Beneficent Order of the Knights of the Holy City, and who bore so gloriously the title of Templars."


After meetings, letters, and not a few heated emails, Grand Master William H. Koon II of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the USA issued the following statement on May 5, 2010:

The Great Priory of America is an unrecognized Templar Order operating within the United States of America, in direct conflict with Section 3 of the Constitution of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America. Accordingly, membership in the Great Priory of America is incompatible with membership in the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America and any Grand, Subordinate, or Constituent Commandery under its jurisdiction or owing allegiance to the same.

Now, all of this would just be so much stuff and nonsense over nothing, except that some of the most respected Masons in the U.S. are members of the CBCS. Brothers Reese Harrison and Thomas W. Jackson serve as officers in the GPA, and both men are highly regarded in the Masonic community. All of this transpired last May, and the Grand Encampment publicly posted the exchange of letters, charter photos, official decisions and other documentation here.

Last week, just before Christmas, the Grand Encampment announced on its website that the Grand Priory of the Scottish Reformed and Rectified Rite of Occitania (in the south of France) has issued a new charter to the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the USA to form a new "Grand Priory of the Scottish Reformed and Rectified Rite of the United States of America." And the official program for the 2011 Masonic Week in Alexandria has been amended to show a meeting, by invitation, of the Grand Priory of the Scottish Reformed and Rectified Rite of the United States of America on Wednesday, February 9th at 8PM.

What makes this even more complex is that the Scottish Reformed and Rectified Rite of Occitania was only recently (1994 or 5) formed by Masons from the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF), and is itself considered by many longstanding, recognized Templar organizations to be spurious and irregular. Much of this has to do with the seemingly chaotic patchwork of Freemasonry in France's conflicting grand lodges. The Grand Orient de France, the Grande Loge de France, and the Grande Loge Traditionnelle et Symbolique Opéra all had existing CBCS bodies for many years before the GLNF created their own. However, in 2008, a protocol was signed between the four French CBCS groups, agreeing to coexist and respect each others' workings.

What now remains to be seen is if the GPA continues to assert its independence, and whether its members will be expelled from U.S. Templary by the Grand Encampment; and if the regular, recognized world of Templary outside of the U.S. will consider the Grand Encampment's new charter from the SRRR of Occitania to be a shot across their own bows.

It should be an interesting Masonic Week.


Part of the motivation in creating a new Priory in the U.S. under a charter held by the Grand Encampment is to be able to actually confer the degrees of the Rectified Rite legally, to open it up to more Masons seeking this spiritual and philosophical system of degrees, and to be something besides just an exclusive supper club. This has been successfully done in recent years in the Great Priory of England and Wales.

The Grand Prieuré Indépendant d'Helvetie actually approached the Grand Encampment in 2009 wanting to negotiate a new charter to allow this, but the Grand Priory of America objected to the idea. It was at that point they also objected to Americans receiving the degrees in England. Or anywhere else.

As for the regularity of the Grand Priory of the Scottish Reformed & Rectified Rite of Occitania: it was chartered in 1995 by the Grand Prieuré de Gaules, which was, in turn, chartered by the Great Priory of Helvetia in 1935 (lineage is everything in Masonry, and with the CBCS, all modern priories originate in Switzerland, where the Order fled after the chaos of the French Revolution). The GEKT was in fraternal accord with the Grand Prieuré de Gaules until the GLNF derecognized the Grand Prieuré de Gaules in 2000, to form their own Rectified Rite. Technically, the Grand Priory of the Scottish Reformed & Rectified Rite of Occitania got its charter from a grand priory the GEKT recognized at that time, which came from the GPofH. That makes it legitimate, in the eyes of the GEKT.

Meanwhile, the Grand Prieuré de Gaules split from the GLNF in 2000 to be its very own autonomous grand lodge of the Rectified Rite, which works its own degrees 1 through 8. It is independent and not aligned with any of the grand lodges or the Grand Orient in France, and does not cede control of the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason degrees to any other governing body.


If we are going to completely squeeze our pointy heads down the bunny hole of recognition, that means the Grand Prieuré de Gaules has, as of 2000, set itself up as a new, competing Masonic/Rectified Rite grand lodge in France (just what that country needs more of) that is open to Christians only. And if THAT is so, then all grand lodges that currently recognize the Grande Loge Nationale Française as the sole regular Masonic grand lodge in France need to derecognize the Grand Prieuré de Gaules as being a spurious Templar organization.

Don't they?

The real shame of this entire mess is that the truly moving and spiritually uplifting degrees of the Knights Beneficient of the Holy City are getting ground up in the gears of politics and egos, which are the very antithesis of Masonic lessons.

Feast of St. John in Indianapolis

The annual Feast of St. John table lodge was held at Indiana Freemasons' Hall last night, and quite the feast it was. Eighty or so brethren gathered around the festive board for a wonderful dinner and presentation by Past Master Hal Grigdesby. Many thanks to the Master, Wardens, officers and brethren of the host lodge, Ancient Landmarks No. 319 (of which I am a proud honorary member), and to the always fine job done by Excalibur Catering.

Friday, December 24, 2010

NYU Exhibit: Babylonian Mathematics

New York University's Institue for the Study of the Ancient World has extended its exhibition, "Before Pythagoras: The Culture of Old Babylonian Mathematics" through January 23th, 2011.

From the exhibition's description:

Since the nineteenth century, thousands of cuneiform tablets dating to the Old Babylonian Period (c. 1900-1700 BCE) have come to light at various sites in ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). A significant number record mathematical tables, problems, and calculations. In the 1920s these tablets began to be systematically studied by Otto Neugebauer, who spent two decades transcribing and interpreting tablets housed in European and American museums. His labors, and those of his associates, rivals, and successors, have revealed a rich culture of mathematical practice and education that flourished more than a thousand years before the Greek sages Thales and Pythagoras with whom histories of mathematics used to begin.

This exhibition is the first to explore the world of Old Babylonian mathematics through cuneiform tablets covering the full spectrum of mathematical activity, from arithmetical tables copied out by young scribes-in-training to sophisticated work on topics that would now be classified as number theory and algebra. The pioneering research of Neugebauer and his contemporaries concentrated on the mathematical content of the advanced texts; a selection of archival manuscripts and correspondence offers a glimpse of Neugebauer's research methods and his central role in this “heroic age.”

The cuneiform tablets illustrate three major themes: arithmetic exploiting a notation of numbers based entirely on two basic symbols; the scribal schools of Nippur; and advanced training. Many of the latter problems were much more difficult than any that they would have to deal with in professional scribal careers, and their solutions depended on principles that, before the rediscovery of the Babylonian tablets, were believed to have been discovered by the Greeks of the sixth century BCE and after.

From a CNN article about the exhibit, "Pythagoras, a math genius? Not by Babylonian standards":

"They are the most sophisticated mathematics from anywhere in the world at that time," said Alexander Jones, a Professor of the History of the Exact Sciences in Antiquity at New York University.

He is co-curator of "Before Pythagoras: The Culture of Old Babylonian Mathematics," an exhibition at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World in New York.

"This is nearly 4,000 years ago and there's no other ancient culture at that time that we know of that is doing anything like that level of work. It seems to be going beyond anything that daily life needs," he said.

Many scribes were trained in the ancient city of Nippur in what is now southern Iraq, where a large number of tablets were discovered between the mid-19th century and the 1920s.

Typical problems they worked on involved calculating the area of a given field, or the width of a trench.

These problems, says Jones, required the kind of math training taught to American Grade 10 students, but not in a format we would now recognize.

"It's not like algebra, it's all written out in words and numerals but no symbols and no times signs or equals or anything like that," he said.

This system, and the lack of recognizable Western mathematical symbols such as x and y, meant that it was several years before historians and archaeologists understood just what was represented on these tablets.

It took a young Austrian mathematician in the 1920s, named Otto Neugebauer, to crack the mathematical system and work out what the ancient Babylonians were calculating. But despite his advances, it is only recently that interest in Babylonian math has started to take hold.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Look for California Freemason Magazine

The October/November 2010 California Freemason magazine features a radical new redesign, created by San Francisco-based Chen Design Associates. This is the first update to the magazine's look since 2002.

Have a look here.

It definitely doesn't look like any other Masonic magazine in the U.S.

Maggie Valley York Rite 7/10-12, 2011

Speakers for the 74th annual Great Smokies York Rite Gathering in Maggie Valley, North Carolina have been announced. The event runs from Saturday, July 10th through Tuesday, July 12th, 2011.

Keynote Address will be by Lewis R. Ledford Grand Master of the Grand Lodge, A.F.& A.M. of North Carolina.

Addresses by Distinguished Guest Masons:

• Joe R. Manning, Governor General of York Rite Sovereign College, NA

• Richard Gan, Past Deputy Grand Secretary, Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, London and editor of The Square Magazine

• Kevin Townley, Past Master from Colorado, and author of numerous works on esotericism, alchemy and the Western Mysteries.

Things actually kick off Saturday night with a dinner and a York Rite College meeting, but the program officially opens on Sunday. Nearly 400 Masons and family members attended last year's program. If you haven't been to Maggie Valley before, it may very well be the best kept secret in Freemasonry. For more information see www.yorkrite.com/nc/GSSAprogram.htm

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dan Brown Takes Over Script For Lost Symbol Movie

The Hollywood Reporter says today that Dan Brown has taken on rewriting the script adaptation of The Lost Symbol himself.

Columbia Pictures is developing the film version of Brown's most recent novel, which was published in 2009 and sold more than a million copies in its first day on shelves. In it, Brown's regular protagonist, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, gets mixed up with the Freemasons in Washington, D.C.

The 2006 adaptation of The Da Vinci Code and the 2009 version of Angels & Demons grossed $1.24 billion at the worldwide box office for Sony. But this is the first time Brown has taken on screenwriting duties. Akiva Goldsman penned Da Vinci and co-wrote Demons with David Koepp.

Oscar-nominated Eastern Promises scribe Steven Knight first took a run at the Symbol screenplay. Although Ron Howard and Brian Grazer's Imagine Entertainment is once again producing, Howard, who directed the first two Brown adaptations, has not committed to directing Symbol. Nor has star Tom Hanks officially come on board to reprise Langdon.

Regardless, given the sure-thing built-in audience, Sony is sure to have Symbol in theaters sooner rather than later. With Men in Black III and the Spider-Man reboot already set for summer 2012, here's betting that Brown's latest is on screens the following summer.

This may be good news for Masons, since Brown's treatment of the fraternity in his novel was positive and almost reverent. If he can keep that same feel through the movie script, we should be very happy boys. But it does sound like it has been booted to a 2013 release date, which makes sense, as Ron Howard has taken on a huge project in the interim, a three picture adaptation of Stephen King's Dark Tower series.

Ahiman: A Review of Masonic Culture and Tradition

A new Masonic journal has arrived on the scene. Ahiman is an anthology of Masonic writing, edited by Philalethes Society magazine editor and author Shawn Eyer.

According to its website,

Ahiman is dedicated to stimulating scholarship, penetrating interpretation and inspiring creative expressions focused upon the history, rituals, symbolism, iconography and philosophy of Freemasonry. Carefully researched and lavishly produced, each edition of Ahiman offers important material of interest to Freemasons and other students of Western esoteric traditions.

The first issue is balanced between new works and reprints of earlier Masonic authors. It features new contributions by Eyer, Adam Kendall, Thomas Worrel, Robert G. Davis, Erik Arneson, Mounir Hanafi and others. In keeping with the work that inspired the journal's title, it also reprints Laurence Dermott’s introduction to the Ahiman Rezon from 1756.

Ahiman is available from Amazon.com

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Scottish Rite Valley of Nebraska Renovates Auditorium

The Scottish Rite Valley of Nebraska is working to have its auditorium renovated by 2014, in time for the centennial celebration of the building. As part of the fundraising, they are selling theatre seats, with a small name plaque attached with the name of the donor.

Phase 1 was completed in early October 2010. The old seating and flooring was removed to make way for a new oak floor, new seats, sound-deadening insulation of the stage and flooring. A new sound and lighting booth was built and the ground floor of the auditorium was repainted. Phase 2 will include completion of painting over balcony and open floor area, and new lighting.

Back in 1994, the Valley purchased 25 historic backdrops out of the Northwest Kansas Valley in Kansas City, Kansas when they sold their building. The beautiful drops were originally created by Carlos Dubois for the Great Western Stage Co. in Kansas City, Missouri between 1951-53.

Check out the slide show of the Scottish Rite backdrops here.

In 2000, the Valley remodeled the first floor of the 47,000 square-foot building, enlarging the offices, adding an improved dining room and lobby matching the décor in the upper floors. The kitchen was modernized, as well. In 2002 the 2nd floor was renovated adding period-appropriate lighting, along with a serving kitchen, and a new lounge featuring a working a fireplace and a bar. Take a virtual tour of the building here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

ICHF May 2011 Preliminary Program Announced

The preliminary program for the 3rd International Conference on the History of Freemasonry at the George Washington Masonic Memorial, May 27-29, 2011, has been announced. A record number of papers were received this year.

Plenary speakers include Steven C. Bullock, Robert L.D. Cooper, Arturo DeHoyos, Andreas Önnefors, and Chernoh Momodu Sesay, Jr.

Here are important links for information about the conference:

First Announcement
Preliminary Program
Social Program
Plenary Speakers Bios
Online Registration, including Hotels

Below is the preliminary lineup of speakers and papers.
Friday 27 MAY 2011

Plenary lecture 1: Professor Steven Bullock: The First Capital Cornerstone Laying: Masonry, Alexandria, the Nation, and the

• Freemasonry as a Factor in American Society
1a. Daniel Egel, USA
Did Freemasonry Help Solve the Common Good Problem? An Examination of the Historical Expansion of American Education in the Western United States

1b. Brent Morris, USA
American Masonic Membership Trends

1c. John Belton, UK
An Ungolden Age of Fraternalism?: A Comparison of Craft Masonic Membership in Confederate and Union States 1850-1900.

• Freemasonry and Religion I
2a. Klaus-Jürgen Grün, Germany
Celebrating Nature. Freemasonry and its Contribution to the Secularization of Religion

2b. Jan Snoek, Germany
The Female Case: The Religious Dimension of the Adoption Rite

2c. Martin Papenheim, Germany
Albert Pike‘s and Eugène Goblet d‘Alviella‘s Reforms of the Scottish Rite and the Theory of Religion in the late 19th Century

2d. Hans-Hermann Hoffmann, Germany
"Christian", "humanitarian" and "reformist" positions in conflict: The religious discourse of German Freemasons from "Vormärz" up to the republic of Weimar 1840-1933

• Mozart and Freemasonry
3a. Neva Krysteva, Bulgaria
Mozart: The Contrapuntal Temple in the last Symphony

3b. Ruben Gurevich, Canada
Does Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte” have a “meaning”?

3c. Gabriel Mancuso, Italy
Eine kleine Freymaurer-Kantate (A Short Masonic Cantata). Genesis, development and musical characteristics of the last work

• Freemasonry in the Far East
4a. Pauline Chakmakjian, UK
General MacArthur & The Grand Lodge of Japan

4b. Teodoro Kalaw IV, Phillippines
The Genealogy of Philippine Freemasonry

• New approaches to British Freemasonry I
5a. Susan Sommers, USA
The Apotheosis of Thomas Dunckerley

5b. Diane Clements, UK
Working at Freemasons’ Hall 1850-1920

5c. James W. Daniel, UK
Anglo-American Masonic relations 1871-90

• Freemasonry and Religion II
6a. Peter Paul Fuchs, USA
From the Ethos of the Temple: Masonic Contexts of Theism, Deism and Atheism

6b. Mark E. Koltko-Rivera, USA
Of Mormons and Masons: Freemasonry’s Craft Rituals of Initiation and the Latter-Day Saint Temple Ceremonies

6c. Christopher L. Hodapp, USA
Pharaohs and Freemasons: The curious tale of Egyptian influences on Masonic culture

• Perceptions of Freemasonry
7a. Henrik Bogdan, Sweden
Freemasonry and Popular Culture

7b. Carolyn Bain, USA
Masonic Laureateship: Performance, Identity, and Transformation

• Freemasonry in Mexico I
8a. Guillermo Izabal, USA, Chair
Deconstructing Herencias Secretas: Freemasonry, Politics, and Society in Mexico

8b. Paul Rich, USA
“Herencias Secretas” and the Extraordinary Varieties of Contemporary Mexican Freemasonry

8c. David Merchant, USA
Answered and Unanswered questions in ’Herencias Secretas’ Discussant: Guillermo de los Reyes, USA

• New approaches to British Freemasonry II
9a. David Harrison, UK
The Lymm Freemasons: A new insight into early Freemasonry and the Warrington Lodge of Elias Ashmole

9b. Róbert Péter, Hungary
Freemasonry in the 18th-century London press – a quantitative analysis

9c. Harriet Sandvall, UK
‘The Accomplishment of so great a Design...’ The architecture and interior design of the first purpose-built Masonic hall in England

• Impacts of Freemasonry I
10a. Richard W. Van Doren, USA
Cry Fowle: The Life, Times, and Masonic Influence of Henry Fowle of Boston

10b. Hilary Anderson Stelling,
USA “What I am today”: Benjamin Emmons’ Masonic Gift

• Freemasonry in the Hapsburg Empire
11a. Martin Javor, Slovakia
The Enlightenment in Practice: Freemasonry in Upper Hungary in the Eighteenth Century

11b. Alice Reiniger, Austria
An Analysis of the Draskovich Observance, a Freemasonry Document of the Late Eighteenth Century from Croatia.

11c. Eszter Gantner, Germany
Freemasonry and modernism? The influence of the freemasonry

• Freemasonry in Mexico II: History, Literature and Culture in Mexican Freemasonry.
12a. María Eugenia Vázquez Semadeni, Mexico.
Public debate about Freemasonry, United States 1780-1810, México 1820-1830.

12b. Carlos Francisco Martínez Moreno, Mexico.
American Freemasonry in México during the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century

12c. Guillermo de los Reyes USA
Freemasonry, Folklore, and Cultural Production in a Socio- Literary Context: The impact of literature and folklore in Mexican and American Masonry

• Plenary lecture 2: Arturo de Hoyos: The Battle to Control High Grade Masonry in the United States

• Book and journal presentations
Young Researchers get together, presentation of ongoing research projects (organised by young researchers panel)

Saturday 28 MAY 2011

• Plenary lecture 3: Professor Chernoh Sesay, Jr: 'All things here are frail and changeable': The Social and Political Origins of Prince Hall Freemasonry in the late 18th century.

• Early American Freemasonry I
13a. John Wade, UK
Public Masonic Processions in the Thirteen American Colonies

13b. John B. Slifko, USA
Dolley Madison and the Freemason Benjamin Latrobe in the Making of the President’s House, Washington City, and beyond

13c. Roger Burt, UK
Freemasonry and the Gold Rushes

• Anti-freemasonry and Conservatism in Europe around 1800: lines of development
14a. Andrew McKenzie- McHarg, Germany
Visions of Conspiracy: the Anti- Masonry of Former Masons in late 18th century Germany

14b. Damien Amblard, France
The Early Writings of a Famous Anti-Mason: Politics in the Writings of the Abbé Barruel, 1788-1797.

14c. Claus Oberhauser, Austria
John Robison and his ‘Proofs of a Conspiracy’

• Freemasonry in the Middle East
15a. Stephan Schmid, Lebanon
Freemasonry during the Arab Nahda, 1860 - 1914: A New Reading of the Evolution of the Arabic Printing Press and the Modern Arab Intellectual Elite.

15b. Thierry Millet, France
The rise of American Masonry in French Levant

15c. Saïd Chaaya, France
The “Nahda” in the 19th century Lebanon and its relationship with the Masonic Lodges: The Intellectual and Cultural
Renaissance, an Oriental “Aufklärung”

• Aspects of Fraternalism
16a. James Jack, UK
Free Gardeners and Freemasons – A comparison

16b. Bob James, Australia
A Response to Snoek: Fraternal Societies in Australia, 1788- 2010.

16c. William D. Moore, USA
Darius Wilson, Confidence Games, and the Limits of American Fraternal Respectability, 1875-1915

• Session 17: Early American Freemasonry II
17a. Alan Capps, USA
The First Band of Brothers – George Washington and the Freemasons of Alexandria Lodge No. 22

17b. Ami Pflugrad-Jackisch, USA
’Our Illustrious Brother George Washington’: Fraternal Orders, Public Space, and Civic Brotherhood in Antebellum Virginia

• Dynamic Freemasonry in 18th and early 19th century Lancashire
18a. John Astbury, UK
Scottish Freemasons in Manchester and the USA 1800- 1830

18b. David Hawkins, UK
Relationships within and between lodges around Bolton in Georgian England

18c. John Belton, UK
The Royal Arch within early Lancashire Masonry

• Freemasonry in Latin America
19a. Miguel Guzmán-Stein, Costa Rica
Woman, Freemasonry and the Order of the Eastern Star in Latin America. The times of Andres Cassard (1865-1875)

19b. Ricardo Martinéz Esquivel, Costa Rica
Mystical sociability: Freemasons and Theosophists in the organization of the Co- Freemasonry and the Liberal Catholic Church in Costa Rica during the 1920s

• Contradictions of Fraternalism: Practices of Inclusion and Exclusion I
20a. Panel A Inclusion: Community Formation and Social Action
Kristofer Allerfeldt, UK & Jeffrey Tyssen, Belgium

20b. Jeffrey Tyssens
Ghost Town Brotherhood: Virginia Fraternities in West American Mining Towns, 1879-1912

20c. Anaïs Maes
Brothers in Temperance: Good Templar Lodges in Belgium and the Netherlands (Early 20th Century)

• Early American Freemasonry III
21a. Michael S. Kaulback, USA
A Scottish Lodge in the Grand Jurisdiction of Massachusetts

21b. Todd Wm. Kissam, USA
A Founder’s Faith: The Contributions and Example of Illustrious Brother Frederick Dalcho, original member of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.

21c. Hannah M. Lane, USA
Maine and New Brunswick freemasons and contested political geographies, 1770 - 1870

• Women and Freemasonry
22a. James Allen, USA
Freemason Women and Modern Civic Life in George Sand’s ‘La Comtesse de Rudolstadt’ (1843)

22b. N.N., N.A.
The Reverend, The Bluestocking, and Freemasons Behaving Badly: An Exploration and Close Reading of “A Series of Letters on Freemasonry” by “a Lady of Boston”

22c. Karen Kidd, USA
Co-Masonry’s Place in the History of North American Freemasonry

• Impacts of Freemasonry II
23a. Alice Von Kannon Hodapp, USA
The Square, the Compass and the Sextant

23b. Shawn E. Eyer, USA
The Degree Lectures of Waller Rodwell Wright: A Critical Analysis of the Ritual Drafts of a Member of William Preston’s Inner Circle

• Contradictions of Fraternalism: Practices of Inclusion and Exclusion II

Panel B Exclusion: Racism and Denominational Closure

24a. Adam Geoffrey Kendall, USA
The Masonic Whitewash Committee of California: American Anti-Catholicism, Freemasonry and the Knights of Columbus in the 1910s

24b. Kristofer Allerfeldt, UK
The Ku Klux Klan and Fraternalism in the 1920s.

24c. Joesphe G. Stiles, USA Using Progressive-era Ku Klux Klan Activity in Kansas to Understand Changes in Freemasonry and Similar Fraternal Organizations

• Plenary lecture 4: Robert Cooper: Scottish Freemasonry in the Thirteen Colonies

• Gala Dinner

Sunday 29 MAY 2011

• Plenary round table: Freemasonry, gender and history.
Chaired by Andrew Prescott, with Margaret Jacob, Cecile Revauger and James Smith Allen.

• Afro-American Freemasonry
25a. Jose O. Diaz, USA
“A Long Vexed Question:” The Alpha Affair, Black Masonry, and Northern Reconstruction.

25b. Jeff Croteau, USA
Black Abolitionists in White Lodges: Richard P.G. Wright and Theodore Sedgwick Wright

25c. Stephen Hill Sr., USA
John Wesley Dobbs

• Irish Freemasonry and its Impact I
26a. Patrick J. Flynn, Ireland
Freemasonry in North America, the Irish Influence

26b. Petri Mirala, Finland
Irish Masonry: a key to wider Atlantic networks?

• Performing the Political: Speech and Song as Ideological Vehicles in 19th Century Belgian Freemasonry
27a. Jimmy Koppen, Belgium
Agapè and the Polis: Table Rhetoric and Political Mobilization of Belgian Lodges in the 19th Century

27b. Anaïs Maes, Belgium
Informal or Official? The Lodge’s “Conférences” and “Morceaux d’Architecture” and their Political Message, 1798- 1872

27c. David Vergauwen, Belgium Masonic Songs: Themes and Political Discourse in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century

27d. NN, N.A.
Music at the Cradle: Belgian Masonic Music and the Birth of a State (1830-1865)

• Central and Eastern European Freemasonry
28a. Guilia Delogu, Italy
Masonic lexicon and themes in Italian and French poetry, from the Enlightenment to the Napoleonic Age

28b. Ljubinka Toseva Karpowicz, Croatia The Role of Masonic Lodges
Sirius and Italia Nuova in the Political History of Rijeka (1901-1926)

• Material Culture of Freemasonry
29a. Aimee E. Newell, USA Sparkling through Time: Paul Revere’s Masonic Jewels

29b. Heather K. Calloway
Use of regalia in the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry

29c. Helge Björn Horrisland, Norway
The Roosevelt Picture – an episode of restitution

• Irish Freemasonry and its Impact II
30a. Breandán Mac Suibhne, USA
The Freemasons and the Fannet Ghost: An Episode in Irish Cultural History, 1786–1822

30b Geraldine Stubbs, UK
Conviviality, Sociability: Fraternity & Commotions, Ructions & Shenanigans: Freemasonry in Ballybay 1746 – 1843

• Eighteenth century Russian freemasonry
31a. Natalie Bayer, USA
Mind, Matter, Soul and a Mechanical Chess-Playing Turk: Some Cartesian Elements in Russian Eighteenth-Century Masonic Thought

31b. Tatiana Artyemeva, Russia
Philosophy of History in Russian Eighteenth-Century Masonry

• Freemasonry and Music
32a. India D’Avignon, USA
Freemasons Franklin, Mozart, Mesmer and the Glass Armonica

32b. David Vergauwen, Belgium
Making Wagner happen

• Plenary lecture 5: Dr. Andreas Önnerfors: Researching the History of Freemasonry: 3x3 ways forward!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

News From Arkansas

The Grand Lodge of Arkansas F&AM website remains shut down, after being "under construction" since summer. I personally find this astonishing, as interest in the fraternity is at its greatest point in decades. For there to be no public way of contacting the Grand Lodge or links to its individual lodges is shortsighted, to say the least.

I received several reports from a lodge in Arkansas about a recent visit by the Grand Master, M:.W:. Martin "Gene" Warren. When asked about the missing website, the GM explained that, in his estimation, the Internet can be an evil place, inhabited by pedophiles and other undesirables. Consequently, he does not personally have an email address. He did, however, go on to say that he had hoped to get the site back up and running during his year, but was in search of the webmaster and his website committee. Perhaps some Arkansas brethren could step up and volunteer to help.

More curious was the discussion of Prince Hall Freemasonry that came up during his visit. GM Warren stated that Arkansas Masons are not to so much as sit in a lodge in any jurisdiction that recognizes Prince Hall Masonry, unless they first get up and address the lodge, or check with the Worshipful Master, to be sure there are no Prince Hall Masons present. A heated discussion followed.

Many brethren in Arkansas live near the Oklahoma border, and frequently visit lodges in that state. The GL of Oklahoma recognizes their PHA counterpart. So now, Arkansas Masons are required to poll the members of a foreign lodge to determine who is and is not a Prince Hall Mason, and leave if such a man is discovered? The generally accepted rule of thumb in U.S. Masonry has long been the "When in Rome" custom—namely that it is not the job of a visitor to determine who is and is not regularly admitted in a lodge in a foreign jurisdiction. Visitors are expected to adhere to the host lodge's rules, and to behave as a polite guest.

Prince Hall Freemasonry is not exclusively made up of black men (there are white PHA Masons across North America, and many are U.S. military personnel who joined in Prince Hall military lodges), so this is not a black/white issue, according to the GM.

Presumably, Arkansas Masons must now all be equipped with a list of all grand lodges the GL of Arkansas does not recognize; so if he visits a lodge in Indiana, an Arkansas Mason will have to read out the list before the meeting opens so he can make sure the lodge he is a guest in doesn't have any Prince Hall, Paraguayan, Moroccan, Bolivian, or Uruguayan Masons in it, either. I am not trying to be flippant here, honestly. And it certainly puts Arkansas brethren with dual memberships in Oklahoma in a sticky situation.

To his credit, GM Warren was reportedly very circumspect in his discussion, and wasn't making a great waving of hands over expelling anybody. He also said that, while he does not personally agree with the idea of recognition of Prince Hall Masonry in Arkansas, he reminded the brethren that he is not Grand Lodge: they are. He encouraged Masons to attend the Grand Sessions and vote for the changes they want to see made. It is a wise and humble viewpoint.

Grand Lodges will never be changed by outsiders carping at their temporary leaders who change from year to year. Philosophical shifts and rule changes must be desired by the majority of Masons in each jurisdiction and come from within. Even if the other 51 jurisdictions across the U.S. and Canada that recognize their Prince Hall counterparts are puzzled, embarrassed, and even ashamed by the non-recognition in the remaining ten grand lodges in the South, we have no power to compel them to change to suit us (or to nudge Prince Hall grand lodges in those states to request recognition, for that matter). Grand lodges are sovereign entities, and if it was wrong for the grand lodges that ganged up on Minnesota in 2001 over briefly recognizing two grand lodges in France, it is likewise wrong for the rest of us to heap scorn on the Southern states.

And there is the other side of the coin. I have been told by more than one grand secretary that at least two Prince Hall jurisdictions (and perhaps more) don't want anything to do whatsoever with their mainstream counterpart. It will be a very long time before they ever request joint recognition.

The GL of Indiana F&AM has only recognized the MWPHGLs of Indiana, New Mexico and North Carolina. Why? Because no other Prince Hall grand lodge has asked us for recognition. Masonic protocol and tradition has long held that a "younger" GL petitions an "older" one for recognition. If the 40+ Prince Hall jurisdictions across the US and Canada that have already been recognized by their mainstream counterparts sent letters to the GL of Indiana seeking recognition, it would almost surely and happily be granted. But without official Masonic communication and paper trails, nothing will happen.

I was told that a request for recognition in one southern state came to the grand lodge from the PHA GL via email. E-mail? It was ignored. Who really sent it? Was it real? What's next, a tweet? Grand lodges are stodgy old institutions, and an official letter on letterhead is the least one grand lodge can do to communicate officially with another. And with such an important request, a certified letter would be even more appropriate.

If Prince Hall and mainstream GLs want across the board recognition, there is a proper way to achieve it, and sabre-rattling, emails, ego fights and hurt feelings won't get it accomplished. Grand Lodges in neighboring states are just like GLs in foreign countries, and should always be regarded as such.

It would be worthwhile if the mainstream and PHA conferences of grand masters would lay this out to every grand secretary, and maybe even come up with something as crazy as a uniform recognition request format that everyone could copy from. Now that 51 North American jurisdictions share territory between their respective GLs, it would be beneficial for all of our members if these GLs got on the same page with each other.

Brethren, we get the Freemasonry and the leaders and the changes we that demand and then work our tails off to achieve. It's a terrible cloud to operate under when Masons can't freely exchange ideas without fear of the Order of the Boot. But I know one thing from experience: no Mason can turn the tiller of the fraternity in another direction if he's suspended and sitting out on the curb.

The Grand Lodge of Arkansas meets in February. GM Warren has encouraged his brethren to vote for the rules and leadership they truly desire. So, ask the tough questions, demand the serious answers, and vote for the leaders who will lead you proudly to the future with a vision you agree with.

While waiting for the Grand Lodge of Arkansas website to reappear, a group of Arkansas brethren have started an unofficial Facebook page to keep lodges and Masons in the northern part of the state informed of degree work and activities.

Check out Northwest Arkansas Masons on Facebook and on its website.

A Consignment of Tea December 16th, 1773

By 1770 British troops stationed in Boston were uniformly resented by the public, and the 29th and 64th Regiments were in for special scorn. Street fights were common, and the city was in an ugly mood. Yet, the records of the Freemsason-owned Green Dragon Tavern, ground-zero for the most notorious of Boston’s rabble-rousers, show that they rented their meeting room to military lodges from both the hated 29th and 64th regiments of the British Army, and even cooperated with the Masonic troops when they applied to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a charter. (The lodge purchased the tavern in 1764).

For years, the saying was that if you were in Boston's Green Dragon Tavern and ordered tea, you were a Tory. If you ordered coffee, you were a Patriot. This was a tough sacrifice, tougher than it sounds. The Colonists loved their tea, as syrupy sweet as they could make it, and it was hard to give it up for a mere political principle.

Boston’s Green Dragon Tavern was a popular public house with the largest private meeting room in town, and many organizations connected with the early days of the revolution made use of its facilities. The North End Caucus, the Selectmen, the Long Room Club, the Loyal Nine, the Committees of Correspondence, and the Sons of Liberty were all groups engaged in various subversive activities in and around Boston. It was in this tavern that the Boston Tea Party was undoubtedly planned, and with plenty of men who shared membership in St. Andrew’s Lodge.

In 1770, the Crown finally responded to the shrieking from British merchants who were losing their shirts from the trade boycott in the Colonies, and repealed all but the Tea Tax. Tea ranked fourth among all of Britain’s exports to the Colonies, in spite of the fact that three fourths of the 1.2 million pounds per year of it Americans drank were illegally smuggled in from the Dutch. The tax on tea was a piddling one, but when Parliament had reluctantly repealed the rest of the taxes on the Colonies, King George III had insisted the tea tax remain, as proof that the Crown still had the right to tax its colonial citizens. Americans didn’t happen to agree. Benjamin Franklin, in London to plead the case for the Colonies, made no headway.

On November 29th, 1773, the tea ship Dartmouth arrived in Boston. Attendees at a Town Meeting declared that they would never allow the tea to come ashore, but the Admiral of the British Navy announced he’d sink any ship loaded with tea that tried to leave the harbor without unloading it first. The Sons of Liberty sent guards to stand on the wharf to make sure the tea stayed on the ships. In response, the governor called out his Cadet Corps, and gave their colonel orders to keep peace at the wharf. Unfortunately for the governor and the Customs Office, the colonel of the Cadet Corps was St. Andrew’s member John Hancock, so there probably wasn’t a lot of peacekeeping to be in the offing. But the Sons of Liberty were in a bind, and the clock was ticking. The rules were that cargo had to be cleared by customs within twenty days, or it could be confiscated by the Crown revenue officers and distributed.

On the 15th of December, Grand Master of North America for the Moderns, John Rowe, and Grand Master of North America for the Ancients, Dr. Joseph Warren, met to discuss something other than a disagreement over Masonic rituals. Rowe owned one of the tea ships in the harbor, and Warren was a powerful ringleader in several Revolutionary organizations. Both men agreed that the Governor needed to act fast to avoid the potential danger to ships, cargo or people. Warren knew what was coming, even if Rowe did not.

On the last day of the Customs deadline, Brother John Hancock and Grand Master Rowe, along with the owner of the tea ship Dartmouth, met to convince the governor to step in and find some kind of compromise, but to no avail. The ships were not going to leave Boston Harbor without unloading the tea and paying the tax.

Brother Rowe’s nephew John attended the Boston Town Meeting that night and wondered, to the amusement of the crowd, whether tea would mix properly in salt water. The Dartmouth’s owner arrived at the meeting and reported the results of the day’s meeting with the governor. Seven thousand Bostonians surrounded the Old South Meeting House to hear the news. At the same time, almost one hundred badly disguised Mohawk Indian imposters gathered at Benjamin Edes’ print shop, waiting for Samuel Adams’ signal to come from the Town Meeting.

At last, Adams stood and said, “This meeting can do nothing further to save the country.” The word was passed to the street, and the “Indians” made for the harbor. Thousands of spectators made their way to the wharf and watched quietly as the raiders boarded three ships and sent 342 boxes of tea into the sea. The crews of the ships stayed below decks and did not put up a fight, and Governor Hutchinson’s Cadet Corps moved away from the wharf. The British ships did nothing to stop the raid – a sixty-gun warship was within easy range – but its commanding officer, Admiral John Montague, watched the whole operation from his nearby home.

When the task was completed, the men shook their shoes out over the side of the ships to dump out any possible incriminating tea leaves. They then swept off the decks, and made each ship’s first mate attest that only tea had been destroyed. As the weary “Indians” marched up the street, they passed the open window of Admiral Montague, who yelled down at them, "Well boys, you have had a fine, pleasant evening for your Indian caper, haven't you? But mind, you have got to pay the fiddler yet!"

Three months later, Parliament passed the Boston Port Bill, closing the harbor until somebody paid back the value of the destroyed tea, £9,659 and 6 shillings, just to be annoyingly precise about it, plus the lost duty on it. Not everyone was so pleased with the actions of the Sons of Liberty. In London, Ben Franklin recommended Boston pay for the cargo, but got little support. It is said he even offered to pay for it himself.

The original Green Dragon Tavern, known for many years as the Freemason Arms, was demolished in 1854. Boston's current current Green Dragon Tavern is at 11 Marshall Street in Boston's North End, despite its lofty historical claims, it is not the original.

(excerpted from Solomon's Builders: Freemasons, Founding Fathers and the Secrets of Washington DC)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

PGM Fred Parris of Prince Hall GL of New York Murdered

M:.W:. Past Grand Master Fred D. Parris 33° of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York was murdered on Sunday, December 12th in Barbados. Brother Parris was 90 years old, and was found stabbed to death on Brighton Beach, St. Michael, Barbados.

He served as a director of New York's Harlem Hospital for 25 years, and was elected as Grand Master in 1995. He lived in the U.S. for 35 years. Parris was the son of the first black captain of police in Barbados, and he retired back to the island ten years ago.

From Nationnews.com:

Preliminary investigations into the death of 90-year-old Fred Parris have ruled out robbery, and police sources have indicated the Stanmore Crescent, Black Rock, St Michael senior citizen received several stab wounds about the body, including to the neck, stomach and back.

Parris’ body was found about 5:30 a.m. lying in a small track leading to the popular beach. He was dressed in a short bathing pants and shirt.

Distraught family members who gathered at the scene shortly after the incident reckoned their loved one might have lost his life because he witnessed some sort of illegal activity in the area.

Nicholas Harrison, one of Parris’ nephews, said he could see no other motive for his uncle’s killing, since he (Parris) was carrying no personal possessions when he met his death.

“Going to the beach was an every morning passion for my uncle, except on Sundays when he would go to church,” Harrison said.

He added that Parris did not even wear a watch while going for his daily sea bath and noted that he (Parris) even hid his house keys outside his home before going to the beach.

Brother Parris would have turned 91 in January. His death was untimely, and his brethren mourn.

Verdict in Haas vs. Grand Lodge of West Virginia AF&AM

Kanawha Circuit Court Judge Carrie Webster ruled on Tuesday that the Grand Lodge of West Virginia AF&AM violated its own internal rules in the manner in which PGM Frank Haas was expelled without a Masonic trial. However, today the jury awarded NO remedy or damages on the breach of contract. The upshot: Grand Lodge was wrong to expel Haas in the manner it did, but there are no legal penalties of any kind against them for breaking those internal rules.

Haas was not reinstated as a Mason by the Court. His lifetime membership in West Virginia remains forfeited.

Haas was made a Mason on April 17th in Steubenville Lodge No. 45 in Ohio, where he has since been installed as Senior Deacon. As a result of that action, the Grand Lodge of West Virginia has unrecognized the Grand Lodge of Ohio, and West Virginia Masons risk expulsion by visiting Ohio lodges.

See the article Jury sides with Grand Lodge in Mason expulsion case in the Charleston Gazette.

Also Jury finds Masons not guilty in case in The Charleston daily Mail.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Media Watch: Haas vs. Grand Lodge of West Virginia

This entry will be updated with ongoing press reports in the civil trial between the Grand Lodge of West Virginia AF&AM and expelled Past Grand Master Frank Haas.

Jury to be selected in Masonic law case
This extensive story gives a recap of the background of the case so far.

Member of Masons says he was wrongly expelled
Testimony began today in Haas vs. GL of WV AF&AM

Testimony describes tensions within W.Va. Masons
A Kanawha County jury heard more testimony Tuesday about how an internal struggle within the West Virginia branch of the Masons led to the sudden expulsion of two longtime members.

Expelled Masons leader says meeting was worst time of his life
A former "Most Worshipful Grand Master" of Masons in West Virginia told a Kanawha jury that the meeting during which he was unexpectedly expelled from the organization was the worst 45 minutes of his life.

Former Masonic grand master denies allegations of racism
A former grand master of the West Virginia branch of the Masons said Thursday in Kanawha Circuit Court that any allegation or insinuation of racism within the organization is "ridiculous." "[That suggestion] makes me feel disgusted," said Charles F. Coleman II, who served as grand master of the state's Grand Lodge between October 2006 and October 2007.


On Wednesday, defense lawyers asked Judge Carrie Webster to dismiss Haas' lawsuit based on the state Supreme Court's recent ruling that the state Secondary School Activities Commission, as a private, voluntary organization, had the right to enforce its own rules as it sees fit. The Supreme Court's decision Tuesday reversed Webster, who had granted a temporary restraining order and injunction against the SSAC to prevent it from enforcing suspensions against four South Charleston football players.

The Masons, similar to the SSAC, are a private organization, and with no public policy at issue, how they enforce their own laws should not be up to a court to decide, the motion argues.

Former Grand Master explains decision to expel Mason

Charles L. Montgomery, of Williamstown, said he asked Frank J. Haas, who was himself a past Grand Master of the state's Grand Lodge, to be honest about his involvement with a website called Masonic Crusade during a 2007 meeting at Haas' home lodge in Wellsburg. When Haas claimed to know nothing about it, Montgomery pulled a pre-written edict expelling Haas from his pocket, effectively excommunicating Haas from the fraternal organization.

"I tried to give [Haas and another Mason] every opportunity to say something, that they were sorry, that they would discontinue that activity [involvement with the Masonic Crusade]," he said.

When they refused -- Montgomery recalled Haas as saying, in reference to the Masonic Crusade, "The dream lives on, and will not die" -- Montgomery felt he had no choice but to kick them out of the Masons.


As Coleman had on Thursday, Montgomery disputed any suggestion that the West Virginia branch of the Masons is prejudiced against blacks.

"Nowhere in Masonry do we discriminate," he said. He conceded that the state branch, which dates back to 1866, had never had a black member until after Haas filed his lawsuit in 2008. There are now two black members, he said.

Earlier on Friday, defense lawyers John Tinney, Jack Tinney and Jim Tinney called on Greg Wentzel to testify. Wentzel said that he set up the Masonic Crusade website, and that Haas was unaware of Wentzel's involvement even though the two were part of a group of Masons from around the state who occasionally went out to dinner together and formed a discussion group on the website Yahoo.

"I never discussed [the Masonic Crusade website] with him, no," Wentzel said.

Judge: Grand Lodge did not comply with its own rules

The trial ended today at about 6pm, and deliberations will begin tomorrow morning. Judge Webster gave a summary judgement today that the Grand Lodge did breach its contract, and did not follow its own rules in the way Haas was expelled. The outcome of that will be given by the judge at the end with the other decisions. The jury will deliberate on compensatory damages concerning defamation of Haas, and about four other items.

Masons broke own rules, lawyer argues in closing

If the West Virginia branch of the Masons had followed its own rules regarding due process, an administrative law judge expelled from the fraternal organization would not have had to sue the group, his lawyer said Tuesday.

But Charles F. Coleman II and Charles L. Montgomery, the two men who succeeded Frank J. Haas as Grand Master of the state's Grand Lodge, were so upset with Haas for trying to enact progressive reforms that they summarily expelled him, said Haas' attorney Bob Allen during his closing argument in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Defense attorney Jack Tinney maintained that Haas was wrongly seeking monetary compensation for an internal dispute within a private, voluntary organization after he was ousted for failing to follow Masonic laws...

Jury sides with Grand Lodge in Mason expulsion case

A Kanawha County jury sided Wednesday with the Grand Lodge of the West Virginia branch of the Masons against a former grand master who sued after he was expelled from the group, claiming the organization had violated its own rules.

The jury declined to award Frank J. Haas, an administrative law judge from Wellsburg, any damages, even though Kanawha Circuit Judge Carrie Webster ruled that the Masons breached its contract with Haas.

The jury also decided that the state's Grand Lodge and past Grand Masters Charles F. Coleman II and Charles L. Montgomery had not defamed Haas, placed him in a false light, or committed outrageous conduct toward Haas, who was also a past grand master...

Jury finds Masons not guilty in case

A jury has determined that the Masons did not defame or damage a former Grand Worshipful Master when they threw him out of the organization.

Frank Haas, 53, of Wellsburg filed a lawsuit against the Grand Lodge in Charleston and two members of the Masons hierarchy - Charlie Montgomery and Charles Coleman. Those two men succeeded Haas as state leader of the men's brotherhood.

Haas claimed he suffered emotional distress after being unexpectedly expelled as a member in 2006, shortly after his term ended. He said other Mason leaders were unhappy that he attempted to change some of the group's restrictions on race, age and disabilities.

But after more than a week of testimony from both sides, the jury decided against Haas on all counts...

The Death of George Washington, 211 Years Ago Today


“To enlarge the sphere of social happiness is worthy [of] the benevolent design of the Masonic Institution; and it is most fervently to be wished, that the conduct of every member of the fraternity, as well as those publications which discover the principles which actuate them may tend to convince Mankind that the grand object of Masonry is to promote the happiness of the human race . . . I sincerely pray that the Great Architect of the Universe may bless you and receive you hereafter into his immortal Temple.” — George Washington

On Thursday, December 12, 1799, George Washington rode out to inspect portions of his five farms, as he had nearly every day since the end of his presidency. Unfortunately on this particular day, he was caught in the rain, wind and sleet of a terrible winter storm. When he returned that afternoon, his hair caked with snow, he was quite wet in spite of his woolen greatcoat.

The next day, he went out into three inches of new snow and freezing weather and insisted on marking trees he wanted cut down. His throat was sore, and he became hoarse as the day progressed. By late evening, it was clear that he was having trouble breathing.

On Saturday morning, he had a severe fever and could hardly speak. He asked his personal secretary, Tobias Lear, to send for his family physician, Dr. James Craik, who had served with the general during the French and Indian War and all through the revolution. Washington’s wife Martha also sent for Dr. Gustavus Brown, who was living across the river from Mount Vernon in Maryland, in case Craik was otherwise detained.

Washington anticipated that Dr. Craik would prescribe “bleeding” to draw off the “bad blood” that was believed to cause fever and illness, so, he also had Lear send for Albin Rawlins,one of Washington’s overseers from his nearby Union Farm, a veterinarian who was also proficient in the practice of bloodletting. The general wanted him to get an early start, even if the doctors hadn’t yet arrived. Martha was alarmed over the amount of blood that Rawlins drained from her husband, even though Washington kept encouraging him to draw “More! More!”

Dr. Craik arrived shortly thereafter and concurred that bleeding was the proper treatment, especially since the general couldn’t manage to swallow any throat-soothing mixtures that were offered. One attempt to gargle nearly choked him to death. Craik drew more blood, but he desperately wanted another opinion. Since Dr. Brown had not yet arrived, he sent for Dr. Elisha Cullen Dick, a resident of Alexandria and Master of Alexandria Lodge No. 22, where Washington was a member.

Eventually, all three doctors were in attendance and attempted to diagnose Washington’s deteriorating condition. Brown and Craik decided it was “quinsy,” an inflammation related to tonsillitis. Dr. Dick was considerably younger than the other two physicians, and his education was more recent and better informed in new methods of diagnosis. He believed that Washington’s throat membranes had swollen shut. The general was literally choking to death, and he recommended an immediate tracheotomy. Such a radical procedure had never been done in the United States at that time, and Brown and Craik rejected both the diagnosis and Dick’s recommendation. The two older doctors continued to bleed him over the protests of both Martha and Dick, eventually drawing nearly five pints of blood from the dying man – almost half his body’s blood supply. Unbeknownst to them, his larynx had swollen shut and he was dying of asphyxia aggravated by dehydration and the loss of blood.

A few minutes before ten o’clock on Saturday night, as the helpless doctors looked on, Washington whispered his final words to Lear.
“I am just going; Have me decently buried; and do not let my body be put into the vault in less than three days after I am dead. Do you understand?” Lear promised he would do as Washington asked. The general nodded slightly, and said, “’Tis well”.

For a moment, his breathing became less labored, less ragged. A short time later, he felt for his own pulse and then died. The father of the nation, its greatest war hero, its first president, quietly slipped away into history. His friend, his doctor and his Masonic brother, Dr. Elisha Dick, turned away from the scene, knowing that he might very well have saved him had he been allowed to do what he knew was right. Doctor Craik would later admit with great sorrow that Dr. Dick had been correct and that their friend might have survived if they had listened to him.

Brother Dick walked across the general’s bedroom to the clock that sat on the fireplace mantel. He reached into his pocket for his folding knife, opened the back of the clock, and sliced through the catgut string that operated its mechanism. The ticking stopped, and the hands froze at 10:20, where they remain to this day in the George Washington Masonic National Memorial’s museum.

News traveled slowly in those days. Congress was in session in Philadelphia, and they would not know of Washington’s death until the day of the funeral. Martha Washington followed the general’s wishes for his burial. He would never be placed in the crypt being prepared under the rotunda of the Capitol House being built across the river in the new city that would bear his name. Nor would he be enshrined in a new monument that would eventually be erected in geometric alignment with the Congress House and the President’s House. He was, first and foremost, the master of Mount Vernon, a Virginia farmer, and there he would remain.

Washington’s body had been placed on a bed in Mount Vernon’s front drawing room. So that the cold would preserve him, no fires were lit. On December 17, the lead-lined mahogany casket arrived.

The next day, Wednesday, December 18, the procession began to form outside Mount Vernon’s mansion. Servants had cleared the snow between the house and the crypt, and mourners began to gather just before noon. The Virginia Militia was delayed, so the gathering was given a last opportunity to view the body. At 3:00 p.m., the procession at last lined up and made their way to the place of burial. As they went, a schooner anchored out in the Potomac fired its cannon in salute.

The Freemasons of Alexandria Lodge No. 22 assembled to perform their final duty to their fallen brother, sending him on to the celestial lodge above. His friend and brother, Dr. Elisha Dick, performed the Masonic funeral service, and the Reverend James Muir assisted with the prayers and Bible readings.

The Reverend Thomas Davis read the Episcopal Prayer Book’s funeral service and praised Washington’s character and virtues in the sermon that followed. Then, as is still the practice today, the Masons stepped forward to conduct the final ceremony due a Master Mason. Worshipful Master Dick stood at the head of the casket and Reverend Muir at its foot, and they recited the service from memory.

“From time immemorial,” Dr. Dick intoned, “it has been the custom among the fraternity of free and accepted Masons, at the request of a brother upon his death-bed, to accompany his corpse to its place of interment, and there to deposit his remains with the usual formalities.”

He spoke the same words used for all men of the fraternity—dustmen, cobblers, bankers, doctors, blacksmiths and presidents, “whose memory we revere, and whose loss we now deplore.” In death as in life, all Masons meet upon the level, act upon the plumb, and part upon the square, and the loss of one brother weakens the chain by which all Masons are united.

Finally, Dr. Dick approached the body of Washington and deposited within the coffin his Masonic apron – an emblem of innocence and the badge of a Mason. It was followed by a sprig of evergreen representing the acacia plant, a Masonic symbol of immortality and rebirth. When they finished, the lead seal was laid in place, then the casket lid. The wooden box was closed, and a black cloth pall was laid over the top.

Washington’s remains were carried into the vault, and its door was closed. The artillery and infantry assembled nearby simultaneously fired three volleys, the traditional symbolic military ritual marking the end of the battle of life. The funeral party returned to the mansion, and after some light refreshments, sadly went their separate ways.

Several years later, the simple brick crypt was deemed too small for George and Martha’s remains, and perhaps a little too simple. After three decades, a new crypt was built nearby. The gates were flanked with two matching Egyptian-style obelisks, foreshadowing the Washington Monument years before it would be constructed.

Washington’s will is fascinating to read. Apart from the many specific pieces of property he designated to family, friends and servants, he made remarkable provisions for a man of the period. He freed his slaves upon the death of his wife Martha (the majority of them actually belonged to her) and saw to it that those who could not make their own way in the world would be provided for. He left money to start a “free school” for orphans. He established a university.

But one seemingly small passage especially caught my eye as I looked over the carefully handwritten document. In it, he left his military swords to each of his nephews,

“. . . accompanied with an injunction not to unsheath them for the purpose of shedding blood, except it be for self defence, or in defence of their Country and its rights; and in the latter case, to keep them unsheathed, and prefer falling with them in their hands, to the relinquishment thereof.”

Honor remained his watchword, even as he contemplated his own death. Moreover, it was a lesson he insisted be passed on to the next generation. In short, Brother George Washington was in death as he was in life, a living example of Masonic principles of truth, honor, faith, hope and charity.

(excerpted from Solomon's Builders: Freemasons, Founding Fathers and the Secrets of Washington DC)

The Freemasons of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22 will lay a memorial wreath at Washington's tomb this morning at 8:30AM, just as it has done for over 200 years.