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


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Have you seen this jewel?

When a Brother passes away, his family often has no idea what the dozens of jewels, pins, certificates, aprons, swords, hats and other keepsakes found in a drawer, cigar box or attic trunk really meant to their departed relative, or to the fraternity as a whole. They frequently become nothing more than gimcrack to be unceremoniously sent to the trash, or put out on Ebay to generate a few dollars. In many cases, they are far more important to the departed Brother's lodge or appendant chapter than any monetary price they can fetch, in terms of keeping our heritage alive.

Most of us over 50 at some point have the uncomfortable "If something happens to me" discussion with a member of our family (or we should, anyway), and most Masons at least mention the desire to be buried with our white lambskin apron. Perhaps the simplest way to let our families know not to simply send our other treasured ephemera to the dump is to put a note in storage with our apron. There are lodges that have a tradition of passing along rings from departed brethren to new members or WMs, and PM jewels passed along to the next generation of lodge leaders are a far more meaningful connection to our history than just an aging photo on the wall of the dining room.

Brother Seth Anthony in Pennsylvania was presented with a frustrating situation a few days ago, and for anyone who feels a responsibility to preserve our Masonic heritage, it can be a heartbreaker.

From Who cares about history?

Yesterday I was presented with an item of immeasurable historical importance to Pennsylvania DeMolay. There, on my screen, was the DeMolay Founder's Cross, given to Paul Miller Moore by "Dad" Land himself!

For those who don't know, the Founder's Cross is the rarest DeMolay honor ever given. It was only given by "Dad" Land to persons he desired to honor "for their personal, consistent and conspicuous loyalty to him." The jewel was to be worn over the heart. This was not a Grand or Supreme Council honor-- it was a personal expression of "Dad" Land's heartfelt gratitude. Exactly 135 were given out in his lifetime between 1937 and 1959, and they are never to be issued again. We have never seen a published list of all 135 recipients, and an extensive search of the internet only yielded the names of only a few recipients; James A. Wieland of Pittsburgh, PA; Paul Miller More of Butler, PA; Roy "Friday" Fitzgerald of Kansas City, MO; and Gorman A. McBride, of Kansas City, MO, the First Master Councilor of the Mother Chapter and the only one of the nine original members to be so honored.

In this case, "Dad" Land gave the honor to "Dad" Paul Miller Moore, a Past Grand Commander of Knights Templar of Pennsylvania, and Most Eminent Past Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America. "Dad" Moore was VERY prominent Freemason in Pennsylvania and even has a Legion of Honor Preceptory named after him (which meets in Butler.) To see "Dad" Moore's Founder's Cross for sale on eBay made my heart sink.

Somehow this important piece of PA DeMolay history made its way into the hands of an antique dealer in Pittsburgh who sold the item off to the highest bidder. PA DeMolay placed a bid on the item, which was close, but, sadly, wasn't high enough to purchase it. Unfortunately we don't know who the winning bidder was. We can only hope that it's a member of the DeMolay family. However, it's also possible that the buyer wasn't part of the Masonic fraternity. Experience has taught us that when pieces of history, like this medal, fall into hands outside of the fraternity it is very unlikely that we will ever get them back.


AS AN APPEAL - if you are the buyer of the Paul Moore Founder's Cross, or you know who the purchaser is, we would greatly appreciate you contacting us at webmaster@pademolay.org or pa.demolay@gmail.com. PA DeMolay is willing to negotiate a fair settlement for the acquisition of this unique medal and piece of PA DeMolay history, to be displayed for all Pennsylvania DeMolay members to see.

Friday, June 24, 2011

"Just one more thing, sir..."

"I'm paranoid. Like every time I see a dead body, I think it's a murder...
But that's me.
I'd like to see everyone die of old age."
—Lt. Columbo

Peter Falk passed away last night, at the age of 83, after having suffered from Alzheimer's for several years. He was an incredible actor, and created dozens of character roles throughout his career. He's the Grandpa you always wanted in The Princess Bride. And he was the perfect sidekick to Jack Lemmon's Professor Fate in The Great Race. But in 1968, he shuffled onto TV screens in a rumpled raincoat as Lt. Columbo, the part for which he will always be best remembered.

Neither Falk nor his most famous character were Masons. But in one episode, 1973's Requiem For A Falling Star, a Masonic ring helped him crack a murder case (from the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon website):

"I notice he was a big man in the Shriners too. Now that’s something I know about. That’s a double eagle ring, Scottish Rite, 32 degrees. Had an uncle, he played bagpipes in the Shriners band. Couldn't play a note, but nobody could tell the difference."


Thursday, June 23, 2011

St. John the Baptist Day June 24th

“There is in every regular and well governed Lodge, a certain point within a circle, embordered by two parallel perpendicular lines. . .. “

Tomorrow, June 24th, Freemasons celebrate the Feast of St. John Baptist. A curious thing for a non-sectarian group to do. Freemasonry historically acknowledges St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist as its patron saints, reveres their memory, points to their exemplary lives in its ritualistic work, and dedicates its Lodges to them.

In 1740, Chevalier Andrew Michael Ramsey, a Scottish expatriate living in France, as Orator of the Grand Lodge of France, first suggested what morphed into the Templar theory of the formation of Freemasons. "During the time of the holy wars in Palestine, several principal lords and citizens associated themselves together, and entered into a vow to re-establish the temples of the Christians in the Holy Land; and engaged themselves by an oath to employ their talents and their fortune in restoring architecture to its primitive institution. They adopted several ancient signs and symbolic words drawn from religion by which they might distinguish themselves from the infidels and recognize each other in the midst of the Saracens. They communicated these signs and words only to those who had solemnly sworn, often at the foot of the altar, never to reveal them. This was not an oath of execration but a bond uniting men of all nations into the same confraternity. Some time after our order was united with the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. Hence our lodges are, in all Christian countries, called Lodges of St. John."

Ramsey largely invented his tale out of whole cloth, and there is nothing to suggest that his account was anything more than a fairy tale.

In what is called the Old York Lecture from about 1770 in England has the following as part of its EA catechism:

"Q. To whom were the lodges dedicated during the Mosaic dispensation?"__"

A. To Moses, the chosen of God, and Solomon, the son of David."__

"Q. And under what name were the Masons known during that period?"__

"A. Under the name of Dionysiacs, Geometricians, or Masters in Israel."__

"Q. But as Solomon was a Jew, and died long before the promulgation of Christianity, to whom were they dedicated under the Christian dispensation?"__

"A. From Solomon the patronage of Masonry passed to St. John the Baptist."__

"Q. And under what name were they known after the promulgation of Christianity?"__

"A. Under the name of Essenes, Architects, or Freemasons."__

"Q. Why were the lodges dedicated to St. John the Baptist?"__

"A. Because he was the forerunner of our Saviour, and by preaching repentance and humiliation, drew the first parallel of the Gospel."__

"Q. Had St. John the Baptist any equal?"__

"A. He had; St. John the Evangelist."__

"Q. Why was he said to be the equal of the Baptist?"__

"A. Because he finished by his learning what the other began by his zeal, and thus drew a second line parallel to the former; ever since which time Freemason's lodges in all Christian countries, have been dedicated to the one, or the other, or both of these worthy and worshipful men."

The Preston Lectures, which is what our own rituals are based upon (by way of Thomas Smith Webb in the US), were the standard in England until the reconciliation between the "Ancient" and "Modern" factions in 1813, when a compromise was developed. References to the Saints were removed, the parallel lines were said to represent Moses and Solomon, and the lodges dedicated "to God and his service." Our English brethren removed the saints to eliminate any hint of religious sectarianism.

In our American version, one of the least understood symbols is a certain point within a circle, bounded by two parallel lines, with the volume of sacred law at the top.

The symbol is actually based on an old astrological and alchemical symbol. The point in the center represented the Earth, which was thought to be the center of the universe. The heavens were believed to spin around the Earth, represented by the circle. The two lines represented the summer and winter solstices, the longest and shortest days of the year. For thousands of years, these days were celebrated as pagan feast days all over the world, and they were especially important to farming societies, because they were the astronomical methods of determining planting seasons.

In about 300A.D., the Catholic Church began to dedicate popular pagan feast days to the saints. June 24th, the longest day of the year, was declared St. John the Baptist day, while December 27th, the shortest day, was dedicated to St. John the Evangelist. Collectively, Masons refer to them as the Holy Saints John.

Operative Freemasonry was first developed when Roman Catholicism was the prevailing religion, and these feast days continued under the Church of England. It was common for guilds and other trade groups to adopt a patron saint or two. Some Masons picked both Saints John, and over the centuries Masons commonly celebrate their feast days with banquets. And curiously, even though Freemasonry today is non-denominational and non-sectarian, American Masons have retained these customs of old. Part of the ritual in America says that Masons come “from the Holy Saints John of Jerusalem,” while in other parts of the world, lodges are dedicated to King Solomon.

John the Baptist was zealous, while John the Evangelist was learned, and by picking both of them as patron saints, Masons symbolically united both passion and reason.

The symbol also shows the Volume of Sacred Law at the top. In Masonry, the point represents the individual, and the circle is the boundary of his actions. Taken as a whole, the symbol implies that a Mason should consult the sacred texts of his own religion to achieve the proper balance between passion and intensity on one side, and knowledge and education on the other. In other words, he should balance education, excitement and faith to effectively subdue his passions. In a way, it is a graphic representation of the conscience.

More information about the Feast of St. John the Evangelist from Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs by Fr. Francis X. Weiser, SJ:

This saint was highly honored throughout the whole Church from the beginning. Proof of this is, among other things, the fact that fifteen churches were dedicated to him in the ancient imperial city of Constantinople. Being the precursor of our Lord, he was accorded the same honor as the first great saints of the Christian era, although he belonged to the Old Covenant. The fact that Christ praised him so highly (Matthew 11, 11) encouraged, of course, a special veneration. Accordingly, we find a regular cycle of feasts in his honor among the early Christian churches.


The question arises of why June 24, and not 25. It has often been claimed that the Church authorities wanted to "Christianize" the pagan solstice celebrations and for this reason advanced Saint John's feast as a substitute for the former pagan festival. However, the real reason why Saint John's Day falls on June 24 lies in the Roman way of counting, which proceeded backward from the calends (first day) of the succeeding month. Christmas was "the eighth day before the Kalends of January" (Octavo Kalendas Januarii). Consequently, Saint John's nativity was put on the "eighth day before the Kalends of July." However, since June has only thirty days, in our way of counting the feast falls on June 24.


The Baptist is patron of tailors (because he made his own garments in the desert), of shepherds (because he spoke of the "Lamb of God"), and of masons. This patronage over masons is traced to his words:

Make ready the way of the Lord, make straight all his paths. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, And the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways smooth. (Luke 3, 4-6.)
All over Europe, from Scandinavia to Spain, and from Ireland to Russia, Saint John's Day festivities are closely associated with the ancient nature lore of the great summer festival of pre-Christian times. Fires are lighted on mountains and hilltops on the eve of his feast. These "Saint John's fires" burn brightly and quietly along the fiords of Norway, on the peaks of the Alps, on the slopes of the Pyrenees, and on the mountains of Spain (where they are called Hogueras). They were an ancient symbol of the warmth and light of the sun which the forefathers greeted at the beginning of summer. In many places, great celebrations are held with dances, games, and outdoor meals.

Fishermen from Brittany keep this custom even while far out at sea in the Arctic Ocean. They hoist a barrel filled with castoff clothing to the tip of the mainsail yard and set the contents on fire. All ships of the fishing fleet light up at the same time, about eight o'clock in the evening. The men gather around the mast, pray and sing. Afterward they celebrate in their quarters, and the captain gives each crew member double pay.

Another custom is that of lighting many small fires in the valleys and plains. People gather around, jump through the flames, and sing traditional songs in praise of the saint or of summer. This custom is based on the pre-Christian "need fires" (niedfyr, nodfyr) which were believed to cleanse, cure, and immunize people from all kinds of disease, curses, and dangers. In Spain these smaller fires (fogatas) are lighted in the streets of towns and cities, everybody contributing some old furniture or other wood, while children jump over the flames. In Brest, France, the bonfires are replaced by lighted torches which people throw in the air. In other districts of France they cover wagon wheels with straw, then set them on fire with a blessed candle and roll them down the hill slopes.

The Grand Lodge of Indiana F&AM is inviting brethren to participate in a St. John the Baptist Sunday Processional and Service on Sunday, June 26, 2011.

A public processional will start at 9:30 AM at the Fort Wayne Masonic Temple 216 E. Washington Street, Ft. Wayne, IN 46802.

It will begin at the Temple and proceed to Trinity Episcopal Church for a 10:00 AM Holy Eucharist Service. Following the service there will be fellowship and refreshments.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Indiana Lodge Struck By Lightning

My Brothers up at Howard Lodge No. 93 in Kokomo, Indiana got a surprise yesterday when hellacious thunderstorms roared through the state. About 11 AM, a lightning bolt whacked the temple's rooftop chimney, knocking bricks to the ground.

Glad no one was hurt.

First anti-Mason who makes some dirty crack about Masons being struck by lightning gets it. We know where you live.

Photos from the Kokomo Tribune article Lightning strikes Howard Masonic Temple by Scott Smith.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Steampunk Freemasonry Revisited

I was looking over some old posts, and revisited one from 2008 in which I pointed at Greg Stewart's piece on Steampunk Freemasonry, where he mused on the notion that perhaps part of the Traditional Observance movement might be analogous to Steampunk.

If you don't know what Steampunk is, have a look at The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature by Jeff VanderMeer and S.J. Chambers.

Interestingly, Brazil has a group of "Steampunk Lodges" - not Masonic, but organized in local social groups calling themselves lodges.

It got me thinking that many of our older lodge buildings already have a head start to a steampunk type of feel on the inside. So if you were designing the ultimate steampunk lodge room interior, what would you like to see in it? (Any artists out there who'd like to run with this?)

Here are some inspirational elements to ponder.

Light fixture from the Mary Baker Eddy Library's Hall of Ideas in Boston.

"M's" library from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Ed Skoudis' home office, from the Steampunk Home blog

Light in Ed Skoudis' home office

Minneapolis Lodge No. 19 in its former home in Harrington Mansion, before the Shrine sold the building last year. Not a bad head start.

And it's hard to get more Steampunk than a Dudley Masonic pocketwatch.

While you're pondering, give a listen to the album Infernal Machines by the Steampunk band, Darcy James Argue's Secret Society.

Massachusetts' Amicable Lodge on TV

"Part of it is growing up and acknowledging that I want to be part of my community. . . I'm in my mid-40s. I can't be singing songs against 'The Man', because, pretty much, I AM The Man."

The brethren of Massachusetts' Amicable Lodge were featured in a segment on the community of Cambridge on WCVB-TV5 in Boston last week. See it here: "Segment Four: Thinking Outside the Squares of Cambridge. (Don't know how long this link will be active).

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Big Day

June 19th this year is a big day.

First, it is, of course, Father's Day. That's my dad, Charles J. Hodapp, Jr., in 1944 in Victorville, California in his AT-11. He just turned 93 this year.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads, from their sons who love them.

It is also "Juneteenth," an observance of the end of slavery in the United States. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had become official on January 1, 1863. But it was on June 19th, 1865 that Major General Gordon Granger with a detachment of Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas announcing that the Civil War was over. Granger's first act was to read General Order Number 3:

"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."

And if you are neither a Dad, nor an African-American, internationally it is also World Sauntering Day, created in the 70's at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan. It's goal is "to remind us to take it easy, smell the roses, and enjoy life as opposed to rushing through it."

I'm lighting up the first pipe I've smoked since my recent health snag, and going out for a casual stroll.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

WEOFM: "Why Ancients & Moderns" by Aubrey Newman, PM

The 18th video presentation from the Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry is now available. This week's program is "Why Ancients & Moderns" by Aubrey Newman, PM.

W:.B:. Aubrey Newman served as Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076 in 1999. He was educated in London, Glasgow and Oxford, with an MA from Glasgow, a BA, MA and PhD from Oxford. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Past President of the Jewish Historical Society of England.

The Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry 2011 Lecture Series is a free presentation of Masonic education endorsed by the Grand Lodge of Indiana F&AM, beginning January 1, 2011 and running through December 31, 2011. So far this year, programs on WEOFM have been viewed more than 250,000 times.

GLNF: The List Grows

The Grande Loge Nationale Française continues to lose allies in the wake of its ongoing internal problems. On the heels of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts revoking recognition of the GLNF, and the United Grand Lodge of England ordering its members not to visit GLNF lodges, the Grand Lodge Alpina of Switzerland and the Grand Lodge of Turkey have both made similar announcements this week. That brings the number up to at least ten GLs that have taken official action against them.

The GLNF is supposed to be holding new elections on June 27th under the watchful eye of a Paris court-appointed administrator.

GLNF. Suspension de la reconnaissance par la Grande Loge Suisse Alpina

Now it's Turkey's turn to say "NO" !!!

The rumor that the GL of Minnesota has withdrawn recognition of GLNF as reported on the LML in English website is false. Minnesota learned the hard way about meddling in French Masonic affairs in 2002.

Friday, June 17, 2011

South Carolina's Solomon No. 1 Celebrates 275th Anniversary 10/29

The Free and Accepted Masons of South Carolina became a Provincial Grand Lodge under the premiere Grand Lodge of England ('Moderns") in 1736. But Solomon's Lodge in Charleston was actually chartered the year before by the Grand Lodge and is the oldest lodge in the state. It bore the number 45 on the rolls of the Grand Lodge, but number 1 in the Province. Its first meeting was held in the Shepheard's Tavern at Broad and Church Street on October 28th, 1736.

It took just another year before a competing Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons of South Carolina was formed, and met in the same tavern.

A Special Communication will be held at 10:00 AM Saturday, October 29, 2011 to observe the 275th Anniversary of the founding of Freemasonry In the Provence of Carolina. Solomon’s Lodge No. 1 will open in due form, a commemorative plaque will be placed, and a one act play, entitled “A Lodge Is Born”, written in 1937, will be performed. Solomon’s Lodge “One Day Honorary Membership Certificates” will be presented to attending brethren. Lunch will be served. Ladies are invited to attend, and tickets are $25.00 per person (in advance and at the door).

The lodge is located in the Charleston Masonic Center at 1285 Orange Grove Road, Charleston, SC.

H/T to Brother Jonathan Jordan

An earlier version of this entry mistakenly said the Provincial GL of SC was established in 1734.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

NH's General Court Lodge To Meet in State Senate Chambers

Affinity lodges, university lodges and special purpose lodges are sprinkled across the U.S., and they are all fascinating. Some have prevailed for years, and others have slipped away. In Indiana we briefly had a special purpose lodge that met in the temple of my own Mother Lodge: Transylvania Lodge U.D. met once a year, on Halloween, specifically to donate blood to the local blood bank. Its Master, a very tall, distinguished Brother, wore an Inverness cape, and was fondly known by the nickname "Drac." Sadly, when he died, the lodge closed.

New Hampshire's General Court Lodge No. 1784 has an unusual purpose, as well.

General Court Lodge is a special lodge under the jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of New Hampshire of Free & Accepted Masons, chartered in 2006 as a lodge where Master Masons serving or working for the New Hampshire House of Representatives or State Senate may meet during the legislative session, from January to June. We currently have 52 Charter Members of General Court Lodge, all of whom have either served in the legislature or worked there. In New Hampshire, both bodies comprise the General Court and the state constitution enabled the creation of the legislature in 1784, which is how the name and number of this lodge were arrived at.

It was the first new lodge chartered in New Hampshire in 23 years, and it is the only known lodge in the country of Master Masons who were elected as State Representatives or Senators and their staff. In 2007, the lodge was granted dispensation to hold its meeting in Representatives Hall at the State House in Concord.

On Tuesday June 21, 2011 at 6 PM, General Court Lodge No. 1784 F&AM will hold its annual meeting in the New Hampshire State Senate Chambers (photo above). According to Brother Paul C. Smith:

"While this is nothing new, an Arkansas lodge having done this last year, it is I believe the first time that a lodge will have met in both bodies of its legislative branch (we met in the House Chamber in 2007). If any Mason is in New Hampshire that evening and wishing to attend, please do; the State House doors will be locked at 5:45, gavel will ring at 6 PM and we will attend to our program."

The lodge normally meets in the Concord, NH Masonic Temple on the 3rd Thursday of the month, from January to June.

World's Oldest Masonic Temple Vandalized

Scotland's Dalkeith Kilwinning Lodge No. 10 claims to have the oldest continuously operating Masonic temple building in the world. With portions of its home dating to 1766, it has withstood the lapse of time. Unfortunately, the ruthless hand of ignorance has reached out and done it serious damage. On Tuesday, thieves climbed to the roof and tore off lead shingles, with a scrap value of just £50 (US$80).

Damage caused by their vandalism? About £100,000 (US$160,000).

From Scotsman.com:

The vandals also damaged a children's nursery next door when they hacked newly-planted trees in half.

Club treasurer, Alex Turner, said a caretaker had discovered the extensive damage last Wednesday morning while he was inspecting the fire exits.

Mr Turner, who lives in Dalkeith, said: "I don't know why somebody would do this, are people getting that desperate in this economic climate? They've ripped away around four yards of lead that isn't even worth too much.

"In doing that, they've damaged the roof and the bricking and tiling. Police told me the lead was only worth about £50. The nursery next door was meant to be having a graduation ceremony in the hall that day.

"The caretaker let them in and he was showing the teachers around the fire escapes when he realised one of the doors was awkward to open. It was being blocked by a piece of masonry that had fallen from the roof.

"Part of the building dates back to 1766 and it is the oldest operating Masonic temple in the world. The lodge is an impressive building and it has a lot of history attached to it.

"It's clear they've done a lot of damage because they didn't know what they were doing, they've just ripped at the lead."

President Samuel Mitchell added: "As I understand it, this is quite a widespread practice. The lead will be worth something in the scrap metal industry."

It has been estimated that repairing the damage will cost around £100,000 due to the age and construction of the building.

Extant records of the lodge date back to 1736, the formation of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, but it was mentioned as an Operative lodge in records as early as 1681.

(Not to wade into a Scottish argument, but Canongate Kilwinning Lodge No. 2 in Edinburgh also lays claim to the "oldest" purpose-built Masonic lodge building, with the Chapel of St John opening in 1736.)

H/T Jay Hochberg

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Indiana St. John the Baptist Processional, Ft Wayne 6/26

Freemasonry in the United States acknowledges St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist as its patron saints, reveres their memory, points to their exemplary lives in its ritualistic work, and dedicates its Lodges to them.

The Grand Lodge of Indiana F&AM is inviting brethren to participate in a St. John the Baptist Sunday Processional and Service on Sunday, June 26, 2011.

A public processional will start at 9:30 AM at the Fort Wayne Masonic Temple 216 E. Washington Street, Ft. Wayne, IN 46802.

It will begin at the Temple and proceed to Trinity Episcopal Church for a 10:00 AM Holy Eucharist Service. Following the service there will be fellowship and refreshments.

Maine Masonic College 2011, July 17-18

The Maine Masonic College will hold its 2nd Annual Convocation "Our Quest For Vision: A Dialog with Ritual" on July 17-18, 2011 at Hollywood Slots, in Bangor.

Featured speakers include:

• Bro. John Nagy, Life Coach and author of Building Hiram, Building Boaz, Building Athens, and Building Janus

• Bro. Richard Curtis, Retired Editor, The Northern Light

• Major General John Libby, Adjutant General of the Maine National Guard

Program runs from Sunday at 12:30pm through Monday at 5:00pm
Click here for more information or Register Online here.

The Maine Masonic College is an initiative of the Grand Lodge of Maine AF&AM.

See this entry from last year's event.

GL of Massachusetts Withdraws Recognition of GLNF

The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts AF&AM has officially withdrawn recognition of the Grande Loge Nationale Française, at least temporarily. At their June 8th Communication, the Committee on Foreign Relations reported:

“Grande Loge Nationale Francaise (GLNF), unfortunately, since October 2009, has been increasingly disrupted by discord and disharmony. It is regrettable that under the current leadership these internal quarrels have led to law suits in the civil courts of Paris. These civil actions have resulted in two facts: 1. the day to day governance of the GLNF in now in the hands of a court appointed “ad hoc” administrator, and 2. the internal problems of the GLNF have been widely covered in the national and local press in France. In addition, the various groups within the GLNF have been airing their differences in public, often using excessive, un-Masonic and at time libelous language.

“A joint Communication from the Grand Lodge of Switzerland, Grand Lodge of Luxembourg, Grand Lodge of Germany and Grand Lodge of Belgium indicate they have jointly undertaken actions leading to the suspension of recognition of the GLNF.”
“Due to the internal problems within the GLNF and for the sake of regular Freemasonry and in order to protect the reputation of our Grand Lodge it is the recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Relations that this Grand Lodge temporarily suspend recognition of the GLNF, until the administration of GLNF is returned to the legitimate officers of the Grande Loge Nationale Francaise.”

A motion was subsquently moved, seconded and passed to temporarily suspend relations with the GLNF. This is the first U.S. grand lodge to take action against the embattled French jurisdiction. Massachusetts joins not only the grand lodges listed in the report, but Poland, as well. And the United Grand Lodge of England has informed its members that they are not to visit lodges in France.

The GLNF will hold its General Assembly and elections on June 27th.

Washington D.C.'s Universal Brotherhood Weekend

2011 is the bicentennial of the founding of the Grand Lodge of Washington, F&AM, of the District of Columbia, and last Saturday's Universal Brotherhood Weekend was a part of their year of celebration.

Brother Richard Dreyfuss, from William Baumbach II's photo gallery taken at the Universal Lodge meeting during the Grand Lodge of Washington, D.C.'s Universal Brotherhood Celebration at the Scottish Rite valley of Washington D.C.'s Scottish Rite Center:

The Universal Lodge opened on the Entered Apprentice Degree on Saturday June 11, 2011 at the Scottish Rite Center in DC. Each part of the ritual was spoken in a different language, i.e. English, German, French, Spanish, etc. Actor Brother Richard Dreyfuss who was made a Master Mason “at sight” by the Grand Master of Washington D.C. the day before, as well as a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason was in attendance. Brother Dreyfuss addressed the Lodge; there was also the issuing of a charter to a new Lodge.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Thanks for stopping by!

Looking at the statistics today, more than 4.600 folks stopped by the Freemasons For Dummies blog between 8 PM last night and tonight. That's something of a record here.

Welcome to all of the newcomers, and many thanks to everyone for taking a look and poking around.

Texas Masonic License Plates Now Available

Texas Freemasons now have their own specialized license plates. The Texas Department of Motor vehicles has posted an order form online, and allows motorists to request up to a five letter customized plate.

According to the website,

From the $30 specialty plate fee, $22 goes to the Texas Department of Agriculture to make grants that benefit the Grand Lodge of Texas and its educational, benevolent, and charitable purposes.

Brother Darrell Waddell of Daylight Lodge No. 760 in Louisville, Kentucky has created a website that displays many of the different Masonic-themed plates from around the country. See it here.

Reserve ASAP for the Masonic Society Gathering in Salt Lake City 7/16

An urgent reminder to make your reservations NOW for the The Masonic Society Semi-Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah!

TMS will be complementing the already outstanding program put together by the Rocky Mountain Masonic Conference. Our events will take place Saturday afternoon, July 16 after the RMCC ends and the conferral of the Mark Master Degree in the magnificent Salt Lake Masonic Temple.

All Master Masons are welcome. Membership in TMS is not required.

If you are planning on attending, please make your reservations before this Wednesday, if possible. We are attempting to make catering decisions and other commitments this week.

Here is the schedule:

1:00 P.M. to 1:30 P.M. Registration

1:30 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. Presentations


  • Pierre "Pete" Normand, FMS, former editor of American Masonic Review, and of The Plumbline, the newsletter of the Scottish Rite Research Society and noted Masonic writer and speaker. (Topic to be announced)
  • Glen Cook, FMS, Past Grand Master, Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Utah (Topic to be announced)
  • Dr. Jay Williams, TMS Member, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dr. Williams has a Ph.D. in linguistics, and speaks the Navajo Indian language fluently. His presentation will be: Át’é jiní ‘It Was Said': The Transmission of Architectural Esoteric Knowledge in Navajo and Freemasonry
Symbols, along with the allegories in which they are embedded, provide means of reproducing sacred architecture with a high degree of accuracy without the aid of written forms, in that, such symbols are mnemonic aids or vehicles in the transmission of esoteric knowledge. Symbols within ceremonial Navajo (Diné) sandpaintings form a sacred allegorical template or iikááh which are required in building the hooghan or traditional Navajo home. Such means in reproducing sacred architecture parallels the universal construction of the Masonic Lodge. Such parallelism between Navajo and Masonic transmission of knowledge may be founding characteristics of traditionally oral-based societies.
  • Dr. Kenneth Davis, author, Past Master of Lodge Vitruvian No. 767 in Indianapolis, and member of TMS board of directors, Rio Rancho, New Mexico will speak on "Freemasonry and The Tarot"

Banquet will be at the Alta Club located approximately midway between the Embassy Suites Hotel and the Salt Lake Masonic Temple.

6:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. Cocktail Hour (Cash Bar, No Credit Cards Accepted)

7:00 P.M. Dinner
  • After dinner remarks will be made by Most Worshipful Brother John C. Liley, Jr., Grand Master of Masons, Grand Lodge of Utah
Registration Fee (including banquet) $75.00 per person. Reserve online here.

Hotel information:
To obtain the discounted room rate of $109 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Salt Lake City, be sure to mention the RMMC. There will be no room discount available under the name of The Masonic Society. The number for the Embassy Suites is 801-359-7800.

Please be aware that while we are planning this event to coincide with the RMMC to make the weekend one you won't want to miss, these are two separate events and reservations must be made separately with the respective organizations. The RMMC will not accept reservations for the TMS portion of the weekend. The TMS event is not included in their $170 RMMC registration fee. TMS cannot accept reservations for the RMMC portion of the weekend.

Masonic Cemeteries

I got the chance to see Acacia Cemetery in Oranjestad, Aruba when I was there last November.

Given the themes of mortality found in Freemasonry, along with the 19th century growth of fraternal burial societies, it's not uncommon to find Masonic cemeteries all around the world. They can be small and simple, or quite elaborate. Unfortunately, too many of them have fallen into disrepair, and new stories abound telling similar tales of lodges that are no longer able to maintain them, or the corporations that once ran them that have disappeared, or just plain run out of money.

In my hometown, there was a Masonic Burial Ground Association of Indianapolis organized in 1873, when they purchased a lot within venerable Crown Hill Cemetery with 300 burial plots. I have been unable to find out when the association was dissolved, but it's on my list of things to find in my copious free time. Meanwhile, on the far east side of the city is Washington Park Cemetery East, which was established as a Masonic cemetery in 1922.

A notable Masonic cemetery is Acacia Park at 7800 W. Irving Park Road in Chicago.

It was established in 1922, and there are many overt symbols of the fraternity on the grounds and its buildings. Matching obelisks mark the two entrances to the grounds, and each are adorned with statues depicting a broken column. One includes a statue of "Faith," and the other the "Weeping Virgin" holding a sprig of acacia.

Squares and compasses can be found on doors, gates, and stained glass windows. The main mausoleum's chapel is constructed in the form of a lodge, with a marble chair for the Master.

Notable guests here are Alvah Curtis Roebuck (1864-1948), founder of Sears, and Mike Royko (1932-1997), Chicago Tribune columnist.

For a photographic tour of the cemetery, see Matt Hucke's Graveyards of Chicago website.

H/T to William Witkowsky

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Masonic Lodge Banners

While Masonic lodge banners are uncommon throughout most of the United States, they are a regular feature in lodge rooms around the world. They can be found in nearly every English constitution lodge, frequently with a custom lodge crest design.

Have a look at the Lodge Banners website at www.lodgebanners.co.uk for a glimpse of the wide variety of these works of art. Examples are usually accompanied by a history or explanation of the symbols.

(Photo: the banner of Ashmole Lodge No. 5128 in Warrington, England.)

Making Masons "At Sight"

With all of the online chatter about events this weekend in D.C. and Massachusetts, it might be useful to read over Albert Mackey's description of making Masons "at sight", in Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry [Albert G. Mackey, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. Vol. ii, Richmond, Virginia: The Masonic History Company, 1946. p. 941-43]:

Landmark 8
The prerogative of the Grand Master to make masons masons at sight, is a Landmark which is closely connected with the preceding one. There has been much misapprehension in relation to this Landmark, which misapprehension has sometimes led to a denial of its existence in jurisdictions where the Grand Master was perhaps at the very time substantially exercising the prerogative, without the slightest remark or opposition...

Under the heading of "Sight, making Masons at," it states:

It is not to be supposed that the Grand Master can retire with a profane into a private room, and there, without assistance, confer the degrees of Freemasonry upon him. No such prerogative exists, and yet many believe that this is the so much talked of right of "making Masons at sight". The real mode and the only mode of exercising the prerogative is this: The Grand Master summons to his assistance not less than six other masons, convenes a Lodge, and without any previous probation, but in sight of the candidate, confers the degrees upon him, after which he dissolves the Lodge and dismisses the brethren. Lodges thus convened for special purposes are called occasional lodges. This is the only way in which any Grand Master within the records of the institution has ever been known to "make a Mason at sight". The prerogative is dependent upon that of granting dispensations to open and hold Lodges. If the Grand Master has the power of granting to any other Mason the privilege of presiding over Lodges working by his dispensation, he may assume this privilege of presiding to himself; and as no one can deny his right to revoke his dispensation granted to a number of brethren at a distance, and to dissolve the Lodge at his pleasure, it will scarcely be contended that he may not revoke his dispensation for a Lodge over which he himself has been presiding, within a day, and dissolve the Lodge as soon as the business for which he had assembled it is accomplished. The making of Masons at sight is only the conferring of the degrees by the Grand Master, at once, in an occasional Lodge, constituted by his dispensing power for the purpose, and over which he presides in person.

These excerpts, along with Mackey's complete list of "Landmarks" can be seen on the Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon website here, Landmarks of Freemasonry.

Mackey's Landmarks were of his own compilation, and have never been adopted en masse by any one grand lodge. They are not universally accepted, and as I said in a previous post, the practice of making Masons "at sight" is perfectly accepted in some jurisdictions, and forbidden in others. It is controversial, but the practice dates back to at least 1730.

Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, under the heading of Making Masons at Sight, says, in part

"...making Masons at sight exists wherever and consists of whatever the Grand Lodge of each jurisdiction allows."


"No statement is available as to exactly what procedure was used in the few instances that have occurred in the United States, but the general impression is that the net result is merely a shortening of time by doing in one day what usually required three days and in many places three weeks at least."

Henry Wilson Coil, Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia. [Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Co., Inc., Richmond, Virginia. Revised edition, 1995]

In the wake of lots of commentary this weekend, I will simply add the personal note that we don't make two categories of Freemasons in this fraternity, and I am deeply offended by terms like "McMasons" or "Microwave Masons," phrases that frequently pop up in discussions about making Masons "at sight," or "One Day Classes." My own FC and MM degrees were performed on a single day in a class situation. I contend it is not the manner in which a man is initiated, passed and raised, but the dedication of that Brother in his desire to learn and to serve. And the best way to ensure that a Brother will never return to his lodge is to disparage the way in which he received his degrees.

If you disapprove of the practice, take it up with your grand master, or propose legislation that forbids accelerated degree conferrals. But a Brother is a Brother, and you do him grave injustice by belittling his entry into the fraternity.

275,000 U.S. Non-profit Groups Lose IRS Tax Exempt Status

W:.B:. Nathan Brindle, ever our vigilant SecretaryTreasurer of the Masonic Society, passed along this item today from TaxProfBlog:

The IRS yesterday [Wednesday, June 8] announced (IR-2011-63) that 275,000 organizations have automatically lost their tax-exempt status for failure to file Form 990s for three consecutive years, and announced (Announcement 2011-35) the publication of the list of those organizations on its website. The IRS also issued guidance (Rev. Proc. 2011-33, Notice 2001-43, Notice 2001-44) on how organizations can apply for reinstatement of their tax-exempt status.

Review the database of the 275,000 organizations here just to make sure your lodge or appendant group is not on it. If you search for "Masonic", there are 373 groups listed.

Sort of like checking the obituary page to make sure nothing happened to you in the night.

WEOFM: "The Dilemmas of Freemasonry & the New Masonic Secret" by Dr. Bob James

The 17th video presentation from the Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry is now available. This week's program is "The Dilemmas of Freemasonry & the New Masonic Secret" by Dr. Bob James.

Dr. Bob James is the co-ordinator of the Australian Centre for Fraternalism, Secret Societies & Mateship in Newcastle, Australia. His Ph.D. studies involved researching fraternal groups trade unions, friendly societies, as well as those based on religious affiliation such as Loyal Orange, Hibernians, the Holy Catholic Guild, and especially Freemasonry. He became a Mason in 2008.

The Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry 2011 Lecture Series is a free presentation of Masonic education endorsed by the Grand Lodge of Indiana F&AM, beginning January 1, 2011 and running through December 31, 2011. So far this year, programs on WEOFM have been viewed more than 250,000 times.

Brother Shaquille O'Neal

On the heels of the news yesterday about Brother Richard Dreyfuss, Brother James Morgan reports that the Grand Master of the Wost Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts F&AM, M:.W:. Frederick B. Summer, has made Shaquille O'Neal a Prince Hall Mason at sight on Saturday.

Brother O'Neal is now a member of Widow's Son Lodge No. 28 in Boston.

His legendary status in basketball is well known. Since 1992, he has played for six NBA teams: the Orlando Magic, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Miami Heat, the Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Boston Celtics.

Brother O'Neal graduated from Louisiana State University, and he holds an MBA from Phoenix University. He's currently pursuing a PhD in Leadership and Education at Barry University. Influenced by his step-father's military background and devotion to service, Shaq has made public service a priority in his life, making untold donations to charities and organizations across the country, and even working as a reserve police officer in Los Angeles, Miami, and Phoenix. He has recently formed a business venture in Orlando to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.

Welcome, Brother O'Neal.

Photo by Bro. "Dizz" Mikael Kwame Cooper. Can anyone identify the brother in the photo on the left?

H/T to James Morgan.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Brother Richard Dreyfuss

According to a Wikipedia entry updated yesterday, Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss is now a Brother Mason in the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia FAAM. The ceremony was performed by M:.W:. Jesse Villarreal, Grand Master.

On June 10, 2011, Richard Dreyfuss was made a Master Mason "at sight" by the Grand Master of Masons of the District of Columbia at the Washington DC Scottish Rite building, as well as a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason. That evening he spoke at a banquet celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, about the Dreyfuss Initiative, a Research Society promoting civics and enlightenment values to be headquarterd in Charleston, WV.

Making a Mason "at sight" is a power and prerogative in many jurisdictions (but not all) for a Grand Master to declare a man to be a Master Mason with an abbreviated ceremony, and without necessarily requiring the candidate to participate in the traditional initiation, passing and raising. In some grand lodges it is perfectly acceptable, while in others, it is forbidden. Such events are quite rare, and usually reserved for very special cases. The practice dates back to at least the 1730s in England, and was named by Dr. Albert Mackey on his list of Landmarks of Freemasonry. These Landmarks are not by any means universal.

Brother Dreyfuss won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1977 for The Goodbye Girl.

In 2001, he was the on-camera presenter in a documentary entitled Mr. Dreyfuss Goes to Washington, which was co-sponsored by the Grand Lodge of D.C., and co-produced by Past Grand Master Akram Elias.

Congratulations, Brother. And welcome.

Friday, June 10, 2011

UGLE Responds To French Imbroglio

Speculation has brewed over whether the United Grand Lodge of England would withdraw recognition or take any other steps over the ongoing mess with the Grande Loge Nationale Française and its embattled Grand Master, François Stifani. Today, the Myosotis Ligerien in English blog is reporting that Stuart Henderson, the Grand Secretary for the UGLE's Metropolitan association of lodges in London, has issued letter with an announcement made by the President of the UGLE's Board of General Purposes made at their Quarterly Communications on June 8th. Presumably, similar letters are going out to all UGLE lodges.

It reads, in part:

Whatever may be the reasons for the discord it is obvious that there are opposing factions who are deliberately adding to it. The current [GLNF] Grand Master has now written to the {UGLE] Pro Grand Master advising that he will be giving up his Mandate on the 27th of this month. We hope that the election that follows will end the discontent, and that harmony will be restored.

The Board will continue to monitor the situation closely and if it continues to deteriorate it will not hesitate to recommend at a future Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge that steps are taken which will adversely affect recognition of the Grande Loge Nationale Française.

In the meantime, while not restricting visitation from our French Brethren to our own Lodges the Board considers that our Brethren must refrain from visiting Lodges in France in order not to get involved in the dispute."

See here for the entire message.

Meanwhile, word is that the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts AF&AM may have also temporarily suspended recognition of the GLNF.

Brent Morris in South Bend, Indiana 6/18

Illus. Brother S. Brent Morris will be speaking at the South Bend (Indiana) Scottish Rite Research Guild on June 18th at the Scottish Rite Cathedral (Cathedral Room), 427 N. Main St., South Bend. His topic will be “Trends Affecting American Freemasonry." Meet and Greet begins at 12:30 pm (EST). Cost is $10.00 per person, and the event is open to all.

S. Brent Morris 33° is the managing editor of the Scottish Rite Journal of the Supreme Council, 33°, S.J. A former mathematician with the federal government (he holds a PhD in Mathematics from Duke University), he has lectured at over 100 universities, and has taught mathematics, computer science, and cryptanalysis at Duke University, Johns Hopkins Universities, and the National Cryptologic School. He is currently on the graduate faculty at George Washington University. He was the first American to be elected as the Worshipful Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, the oldest Masonic Research Lodge in the world. Among his many books are The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Freemasonry, A Radical in the East, and Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry? co-authored with Art de Hoyos.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


Not sure when Brother Ted Bastien put this up, but a special Bugsport toon for us pipe loving Brethren of the Briar.

Don't know about Bugsport? See it from the start here.

And all the latest Studebakers.


Progressive Masonic Architecture

Brother Charles Lloyd Mashburn Jr. from Savannah, Georgia has an interesting website to showcase his design concepts for modern Masonic architecture. His Progressive Masonic Architecture site proposes "Architecture that expresses the Masonic ideas of 'Education, Knowledge, Unity, & Masonic Light' in a visual & physical form." The site has renderings of several of his original concepts for large Masonic spaces: a Universal Temple of Freemasonry in Jerusalem; a North Texas Masonic Historical Museum and Library, and an exterior treatment for Thunderbolt Lodge No. 693 in Georgia.

Have a look at the video fly-though of his Universal Temple of Freemasonry below:

Lodge Dues and Taxes

The question arises frequently in the U.S. about whether Masonic or other fraternal lodge dues are tax deductible. An article on www.ehow.com today addresses the question. See Are Masonic Dues Tax Deductible? by Russell Huebsch:

Although some of a lodge's activities include charitable work, membership in a lodge usually is not a tax-deductible expense. However, you might be able to deduct some contributions that pass through your lodge.

You cannot deduct membership dues that go toward your Masonic lodge membership, according to Allen Lodge 1435 of Allen, Texas. The Internal Revenue Service does not let you deduct Masonic lodge memberships dues because you receive benefits in return, such as access to lodge facilities and meals, and most lodges do not meet the definition of a nonprofit 501(c)(3) company.

Your lodge may collect contributions that go to a charitable cause, which may qualify you for a tax deduction. The Grand Lodge of Kentucky, for instance, regularly contributes to the Masonic Homes of Kentucky -- a senior assisted-living facility. Contributions that go to this nonprofit are deductible, despite the fact that you may not deal directly with the charity.