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


Monday, October 31, 2011

Alice & I at New York's 92nd Street Y 12/4/2011


Alice Von Kannon and I will be speaking back to back in New York City at the 92nd Street Y at 92nd and Lexington Ave. as part of their Sunday Symposium Series on Sunday, December 4th. The topic is "Great Secret Societies Demystified." We'll be in the Weill Art Gallery, and the program begins at 11AM.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Massachusetts to Double Dues?

Longtime readers know that I tend to fall in with the "Freemasonry in the U.S. is too cheap" crowd. Now brethren are reporting that the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts is looking at doubling their current per capita dues to the GL, from $29 to $60, as well as raising the minimum lodges may charge for initiations from $50 to $300. I suspect there will be heated conversations on both sides of the question.

The proposal was announced in a letter from the Grand Master:

M.W. Richard J. Stewart
Grand Master
October 17, 2011

Dear Brother,

As you may know, at the September Quarterly Communication I spoke on a subject of such great importance to our future that I believe it is necessary to share my remarks directly with you. The title of my address was "The Value of Freemasonry."

As active members of this great fraternity, we appreciate the role Freemasonry plays in our lives. To those who feel Greatness lies within us, Freemasonry offers an unparalleled opportunity to build moral and spiritual well-being and can truly make a good man better. We say that we make good men better; actually, we take good men and allow them the opportunity to become better men.

As custodians of the Masonic legacy of the oldest Grand Lodge in the Western Hemisphere, we have a duty. In all of our Masonic endeavors we must strive to support, defend, and build on what we stand for as a fraternity. Our brand, if you will.

We also have an obligation to future generations to ensure them that Freemasonry - not withstanding the many moral, social, and economical trials facing the world in the Twenty-first Century - will not only survive, but to thrive.

I believe we, as a fraternity, are making great progress. We have begun to see the fruits of our labors over the past several years, raising thousands of new Masons. We have created high-quality education and training opportunities to prepare our members for leadership positions in their Lodges and in Grand Lodge.

Think of where we would be if we had not embarked on our membership program in 2005 and launched the Ben Franklin awareness campaign? Your Board of Directors and Past Grand Masters have thrown their support behind all of these initiatives. The financial investment has been considerable, but worth it.

The cost of these programs plus those associated with running Grand Lodge and fulfilling its mission is in excess of what we collect in dues, rent, and charitable donations. For this Masonic year we will have a deficit of well over $3 million. That money has to come from somewhere: it comes from our invested funds.

But, is it fair to all concerned to engage in deficit spending in the years ahead? In particular, is it fair to the next generation of Masons? How can we properly instruct them on the value of Freemasonry if we rely too heavily on the contributions and labor of previous generations to pay our current bills?

At my request, R.W. Mason W. Russell, Past Deputy Grand Master and Grand Lodge Director, addressed Grand Lodge and explained the realities of our financial situation. To ensure we share the message as widely as our members will hear it, Bro. Russell presented his remarks a second time on film. The video can be viewed on MassMasons.org, our new members-only information center. You must register to enter the site, so please have your dues card on hand because you will need to provide your member identification number.

I strongly encourage you to spend a few minutes watching the video and to familiarize yourself with the issues we are facing, the steps we have taken to address them, and the solutions we are proposing to move forward.

As R.W. Bro. Russell explains, we cannot continue to incur deficits at the current rate and level without jeopardizing our future. I, as well as our Past Grand Masters, whole-heartedly support the Board of Directors in their efforts to cut spending where it can be done, and to increase revenue.

The first step in the process was initiated this spring when the Budget subcommittee of the Board of Directors conducted a line-item review and reduced spending by more than $100,000 from last year. We will continue to scrutinize spending to identify other potential reductions.

So that it is in writing, above my name and signature, I have summarized the proposed changes to the Grand Constitutions:

To increase Grand Lodge dues from $29 to $60 (Section 330).
To increase the minimum initiation fee a Lodge demands from a candidate from $50 to $300 (Section 400).

At the December Quarterly Communication, you can expect to hear proposals to amend the Grand Lodge Constitutions to increase our annual Grand Lodge dues as well as the fees for the degrees. These proposals will be discussed at the March Quarterly, and voted at the June Communication.

We cannot change the Grand Constitutions on a whim. Nor do we take lightly the decision to change the Grand Constitution. If we did not believe these actions were necessary, we would not propose them to you. I urge you to acquaint yourself with the facts, discuss your concerns and questions with your Lodge, and consider well the proposals.

May the Great Architect of the Universe continue to bless you and your family, our beloved Fraternity, and our great Country.

Cordially & fraternally,

M.W. Richard J. Stewart
Grand Master

Masonic Mural for Naperville, Illinois

Naperville, Illinois has dedicated a portion of its downtown area to what it calls its Century Walk, with dozens of public murals depicting Naperville's history. Yesterday, the local Masonic lodge unvelied its contribution, the 40th mural in the town.

From the Daily Herald, ‘Faith, Hope and Charity’ mural displays Naperville Freemasons’ values by Marie Wilson:

Sponsored by Euclid Lodge 65 in partnership with Century Walk, “Faith, Hope and Charity” by Marianne Lisson-Kuhn was unveiled Saturday morning to a crowd of about 80 people.

Before anyone got a peek at the mural, which was sheltered behind a blue “shower curtain,” Euclid Lodge’s Worshipful Master Neville Diamond told the crowd the basics of Freemasonry.

Masons stand for truth, justice, liberty, enlightenment, fraternity and philanthropy, Diamond said. Their gatherings include rituals and symbols.

Some of those symbols, such as the all-seeing eye, a compass, and tools of the stonemasonry trade, are included in the mural.

Freemasonry is not a religion, but members are religious, Diamond said.

“We aren’t a secret society, but we have secrets,” he said.

What Diamond conveyed in words to the crowd at the unveiling ceremony the mural itself is designed to convey in images.

It lists 12 famous American masons on one side, and 12 well-known Naperville masons on the other. Highlighted with nearly life-size portraits dominating the mural are one leader from each category: George Washington and Joseph Naper.

“I’m happy to let the community know what they stand for through this artwork, and hopefully more people will know what the Freemasons are about,” Lisson-Kuhn said.

In Naperville, Euclid Lodge 65 largely has stayed out of the limelight, Diamond said. But the group saw the growing body of Century Walk-sponsored art and wanted to join in by sponsoring a piece.

“I’m very proud of this mural. I’m very proud of what it represents,” said Andrew Sidelmann, president of the Naperville Masonic Temple Association.

“Faith, Hope and Charity” is Century Walk’s 40th piece of public art dedicated since 1995 when the organization formed, said Steve Hyett, a member of Century Walk’s board.

The mural can be seen on the west side of the Russell’s Dry Cleaners building at Jefferson Avenue and Main Street in Naperville.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

1866 Copiale Cipher Decoded

University of Southern California computer scientist Kevin Knight and Swedish Linguists Beáta Megyesi and Christiane Schaefer have cracked a secret society's 105 page cypher from 1866.

From a story on Lookout by Liz Goodwin:

The "Copiale Cipher" was neatly hand-written in Greek and Roman characters with some unknown symbols thrown into the mix. Researchers suspected that the original language was German, since the manuscript was found in Berlin, but they tried to match the manuscript with dozens of languages by running different "computer attacks" on the code, all to no avail.

As they explain in their paper, the researchers' first theory was that the Roman letters contained the true message, with all the other characters serving as distractions, or "nulls." It turned out their hypothesis was completely wrong. After running the cipher through the computer program, the researchers realized that their assumption was backwards--that the Roman characters were, in fact, the nulls.

Even after the code-breakers found and translated most of the unknown characters into letters, a handful of symbols remained mysterious. The researchers believe that these symbols stand for top-secret people in the society.

The manuscript described how to initiate new members into the society and other rules.

The complete report can be read here.

The translation from German can be read here.

The initiation includes plucking hair from the eyebrow of the candidate. Really?

H/T to Makia Pai.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Cautious Personal Update

It's too soon to fire off rockets in the street, because more tests are coming. That said, my last chemotherapy session was Friday, my last radiation session was yesterday, and today the surgeon is removing the annoying rubber feeding hose from my stomach (never used, in case anyone is in need of one). CAT scan from Friday shows no new cancer spread. And so, after seven long months, my little cancer adventure is winding down to a finish. I'll still get scans every three months for a while, but the truly scary and uncomfortable bits are over, and once the radiation fatigue wears off, I'll get back to my old self, albeit thinner with slightly odder looking hair.

My deepest thanks to so many folks for their kind thoughts, cards, letters, emails and prayers. You have no idea how much they have meant to Alice and me as we both struggled through this.

I hope to slowly start traveling again by the end of November, barring any complications, and Alice and I will be speaking together in New York City on December 4th at the 92nd Street Y.

Thanks again, to all you, my friends, for your support. It is greatly appreciated, and I owe each of you more than I can ever hope to repay.

Author Andrew Hammer PM to Speak in Indianapolis Tonight

W:.B:. Andrew Hammer, PM of Alexandria Washington Lodge No. 22 in Virginia, and author of Observing The Craft, will speak at Lodge Vitruvian No. 767 on Tuesday, Oct 25th. Dress for visitors is tuxedo or suit. Stated meeting at 7PM at the Temple of Broad Ripple Lodge, 1716 Broad Ripple Avenue.

Dinner and Andrew's presentation will follow at 8PM at Capri Restaurant.

A festive board, the seven toasts, a great speaker, the best $50 meal you'll get for $30... it doesn't get better than this.

Lodge Vitruvian is Indiana's only European Concept lodge and was chartered in 2002.

Contact Secretary Nathan Brindle at secretary@vitruvian.org

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Connecticut Withdraws French Recognition

WBro. Simon Laplace from Connecticut reports that the Grand Lodge of Connecticut AF&AM has joined the growing worldwide list of grand lodges that have withdrawn recognition of the Grande Loge Nationale Française. The vote took place at today's semi-annual communication.

Most of the regular western European grand lodges have yanked recognition of GLNF over a number of issues revolving around Grand Master François Stifani who continues to cling to his purple apron like a great clinging thing. More than 600 GLNF lodges have either withdrawn from the Grand Lodge or have had their charters pulled by Stifani, and three weeks ago a full blown fight broke out as a 65 year old member attempted to enter the GL headquarters in Paris and was knocked to the ground and dragged out by security officers for failing to show his dues card. Nothing good is coming of this catastrophe, and the court appointed female attorney the civil courts in Paris installed to oversee operations seems to be ineffectual and slower than an escargot. The question remains how much longer can this situation go on?

BTW, congratulations to my friend Simon who will be installed Deputy Grand Master of Connecticut in March 2012.

Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge Oct 29

Twice a year, the Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge meets in Elizabethtown, PA, usually presenting two outstanding speakers at each meeting. The Academy meetings are open to any Mason who wishes to attend.

Masonic authors Cliff Porter and S. Brent Morris will be speaking in Saturday, October 29, 2011 at the Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge in the Deike Auditorium of the Freemasons Cultural Center on the campus of Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. Registration will open at 8:30 AM with the program will begin at 9:30 AM. A lunch (voluntary contribution) will be served at noon and the program will be completed by 3:00 PM.

Pennsylvania's educational program is outstanding, and other jurisdictions would benefit from similar programs. Membership in the Academy is free to all Pennsylvania Masons, and they offer a Masonic Scholar Certification program, with the requirement of an extensive reading list, and submission of evaluation papers.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Author Andrew Hammer PM to Speak in Indianapolis Oct 25th

W:.B:. Andrew Hammer, PM of Alexandria Washington Lodge No. 22 in Virginia, and author of Observing The Craft, will speak at Lodge Vitruvian No. 767 on Tuesday, Oct 25th. Dress for visitors is tuxedo or suit. Stated meeting at 7PM at the Temple of Broad Ripple Lodge, 1716 Broad Ripple Avenue. Dinner and Andrew's presentation will follow at 8PM at Capri Restaurant.

A festive board, the seven toasts, a great speaker, the best $50 meal you'll get for $30... it doesn't get better than this.

Lodge Vitruvian is Indiana's only European Concept lodge and was chartered in 2002.

Possible New Director For 'The Lost Symbol'

The movie column Deadline is reporting that Mark Romanek is the possible new director for the Sony Pictures big budget screen version of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol. Ron Howard, who directed both The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol, has bowed out in favor of producing. No official word on whether Tom Hanks will return as symbologist Robert Langdon, but that is expected. Brown is penning the script for the film after writer Steven Knight left the project.

Romanek is best known for 2002's One Hour Photo and the recent Never Let Me Go.

The film will be a high visibility project for Freemasonry, with much of it taking place in the Scottish Rite's House of the Temple (too early to know if they will actually shoot in the HOT, or create it on a soundstage as they did the Vatican in Angels & Demons). And in case you think these have been inconsequential films, The Da Vinci Code made $758 million worldwide in 2006, and A&D made $486 million — over a billion dollars combined.

No word on a possible release date yet.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kentucky Recognizes Prince Hall Counterpart

I just received a brief note that the Grand Lodge of Kentucky F&AM has recognized the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Kentucky F&AM. No visitation privileges were granted at this time. They are recognized as a sovereign jurisdiction only. But it's a good first step.

The Prince Hall Grand Lodge asked for recognition without visitation at this time.

This leaves Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia as the last nine remaining mainstream grand lodges that do not recognize their Prince Hall counterparts.

Monday, October 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 1734. A year later, Solomon's Lodge was chartered, 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 Sheppheard's Tavern at Broad and Church Street on October 28th, 1736.

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

Friday, October 14, 2011

Masonic Society Feast of St. Andrew Nov. 30th

From Brother Jay Hochberg in New Jersey:

The New Jersey Second Circle of The Masonic Society will host its second annual Feast of Saint Andrew with another great dinner and guest speaker.

We'll return to Bloomfield Steak and Seafood House in Bloomfield for a terrific meal and Light from the podium, courtesy, this time, of a history professor from Centenary College.

Wednesday, November 30 at 7 p.m.


Professor Breandán Mac Suibhne will present "The Freemasons and the Fannet Ghost: An Episode in Irish Cultural History, 1786–1822." This will be a reprise of his lecture to the International Conference on the History of Freemasonry in Virginia this May. It is part ghost story, and part colorful Irish history, but it is a tale you won't forget.

Breandán Mac Suibhne, Assistant Professor of History at Centenary College, is a historian of society and culture in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Ireland. He has published on para-militarism and the construction of Irish identity in the 1780s, republican rebellion and its suppression in the 1790s, and agrarian 'improvement' and social and political unrest in the 1800s. One of the founding editors of "Field Day Review," an interdisciplinary journal of Irish politics and culture past and present, he also is editor of "John Gamble, Society and Manners in Early Nineteenth-Century Ireland," and, with David Dickson, he edited "Hugh Dorian, The Outer Edge of Ulster: A Memoir of Social Life in Nineteenth-Century Donegal," the most extensive account of Ireland's Great Famine. He is completing a monograph on north-west Ulster, c. 1786–1822.

Bloomfield Steak and Seafood House
409 Franklin Street in Bloomfield
(Only a few hundred feet from GSP Exit 148.)

Let's get together for drinks at 6:30, and we'll retire to our room at 7 p.m.

It is NOT necessary to be a member of The Masonic Society to attend. All Masons are welcome, as are our ladies, family, and friends.

If you were there last year, you noticed it's a small space. Seating IS limited to 30. Reservations are required and, as always, must be made in advance by transmitting your payment, via PayPal, to:


Cost per person: $40. (If you think of it, it would help me if you sent $41, because PayPal takes its "cut" of the transaction.)

For entrees we'll have broiled salmon, chicken marsala, and prime rib, plus red roasted potatoes, all served as buffet. Plus there will be copious appetizers, the house salad, soft drinks, and coffee & dessert.

(And of course the famous Masonic Society gift bag awaits you at the end of the evening.)

Cordially & fraternally,

Jay Hochberg
NJ Lodge of Masonic Research and Education No. 1786

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Texas Lodge Receives $20K Grant From Local Philanthropy

Young County Lodge No. 485 in Graham, Texas has received a $20,000 matching grant for lodge improvements from a local philanthropy. So how did the lodge manage to convince the board of the Bertha Foundation to make that kind of commitment to the Freemasons? By showing how they had been a part of the local community since its very beginnings. And with a personal connection to the Fund's namesake.

From the Grand Lodge of Texas website:

The importance of the Masonic presence is an obvious one when one looks at what Graham is today. It is diverse in all its parts. There are many churches, of many faiths, as well as an economy that includes work in agriculture, oil and gas, government, as well as investment and finance. It is the county seat and the hub of Young County. How can so many parts ever stand as one and grow strong? Because of Masonry, and its moral doctrines and teachings, is how this happened. YCL485 was instrumental in building the character of both men and community. Where else could men meet and share common ideas and not dwell on their differences?

Where else but the lodge could men of varied religious and economic backgrounds share their vision of what kind of future they could build… together? On the wall in the lodge room of YCL485 are the names and the pictures of those great men. Together they are the roots of our community, of whoms ideals, and those of the Masonic lodge, continue to affect the direction of this city and county yet today.

This is what was explained to the Bertha Foundation when YCL485 asked for their help. Our grant request told the story of the men who came together in the lodge by horseback on moonlight nights to share friendship and tend to the work of Masons. Tolerance turned differences to strength and these men became builders of something of the Great Architect’s design. Together they came, and together they built as only Masons can. The Bertha Foundation was impressed but needed something to tie the family directly to the lodge and not just stories told around the lodge hall. That is when the Templar Sword appeared.

One of the grandsons of one of our founding families brought the sword to a private meeting asking for some information on it. This gentleman was the one upon whom the decision would rest as to our grant being awarded or denied. He handed over the sword and asked, “ what is this?”. A Templar sword, part of the Commandery portion of the York Rite, an organization of which only Masons may gain membership he was told. He asked that the sword be drawn from its sheath so that the named engraved upon it could be seen. “H. Bruce Street”, the husband of Bertha Street, in whom’s honor the foundation had been formed , was the inscription. It was at that point that our grant moved forward and was later awarded by the Bertha Foundation board on September 22nd , 2011. The sword was donated by the family for display in our lodge library.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Shriner Killed in Parade Accident

Brother Marvin Tarbox from Hancock, Maine was killed in a tragic accident during a parade on Saturday. The Shriner died after a go-kart he was driving fell off of an unloading ramp.

From the Bangor Daily News on Sunday:

Marvin Tarbox Jr., 59, was one of several members of the Bangor-based Anah Temple Shriners who were driving go-carts in the Damariscotta Pumpkin Fest Parade in Newcastle on Saturday when he was fatally injured after his go-cart toppled to the ground.

According to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, a ramp that carried the go-carts over a sport utility vehicle apparently failed while Tarbox was driving over.

Tarbox’s go-cart then flipped over and toppled onto onto the pavement, where he was struck by at least two other go-cart drivers who didn’t realize what had happened, police said. Several hundred people were attending the parade when the crash occurred.

Tarbox, who was not wearing a helmet, was taken to Miles Memorial Hospital, where he died.

Joe Kitchen, president of the Hancock County Shrine Club and a co-worker of Tarbox’s, estimated that he had known the Hancock man for about 30 years.

“Marvin was a real nice man, a very well-liked Shriner,” Kitchen said. “We are all kind of devastated over it.”

RIP, Brother.

All New England Masonic Open House This Saturday, October 15th

This Saturday, October 15th, 2011, Masonic lodges all across New England will open their doors to the public in one massive, coordinated event. According to the Metaphysical Freemason blog, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut "will participate and open our doors, display our minutes -- some from the founding of this country-- and invite any who wish to visit into the lodge rooms and antechambers, rooms of reflection and such. Welcome all and mark upon the skein of time our intention for light."

Several years ago, the United Grand Lodge of England held a nationwide open house week, during which every lodge was encouraged to have some kind of a public event—tours, dinners, speeches, programs, fund raisers, blood drives, or any other occasion to invite the public in, to hear about Freemasonry, or to see Masons in action in some way. We have no national governing body in the U.S. (world conspiracy mongers, take note), but such an event would be a significant kind of goal to shoot for, and something the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America or the Masonic Service Association might well consider promoting.

Dan Brown in New Hampshire 11/4

Fans of The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol will have a rare opportunity to meet reclusive author Dan Brown in November at his favorite hometown bookstore. Exeter, New Hampshire's Water Street Bookstore is celebrating its 20th anniversary on November 4th, and Brown will be there to meet fans and sign books, between 6-8PM.

Water Street Bookstore is located at 125 Water Street in Exeter.

Independent bookstores are a vanishing breed, and it's good to occasionally here of one that is still doing well. If you have an independent bookstore in your town, please support it.

See here for more details.

Young Masons in Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal features an article about the fraternity in today's edition. From Latest Freemason Conspiracy: Recruiting Younger Bros by Barry Newman:

No self-respecting secret society can get by without a Facebook fan page anymore.

That's transparently true of the Freemasons, renowned for their medieval blood oaths, their often-alleged plot to create a New World Order, their locked-door conclaves of U.S. presidents and power brokers and their boring pancake breakfasts.

A menagerie of 19th-century civic and social brotherhoods, and their attendant sisterhoods, lives on around the globe: the Elks, the Moose, the Lions, the Odd Fellows. Freemasonry is the oldest of all, still the biggest, and—in the public mind—about as penetrable as the mythic crypt beneath the ninth vault of Solomon's Temple.

Secrecy gives Masonry its mystique. Yet the Masons have lately realized that they'd be lost in oblivion if it weren't for the Web.

"I looked for pictures," Matt Gallagher was saying of his Internet search for a Masonic lodge worth joining. "I really wanted to avoid a bunch of 80-year-olds."

It was Thursday evening, almost time for fellowship night at the "very young" lodge he finally did join: Braden No. 168, housed on a shady street in a columned temple the Masons built in 1910.

Mr. Gallagher is 32 years old and between jobs. He was initiated by Braden in 2009, rose to Master Mason and now is lodge education officer.

It's a post that didn't exist for 290 years after Masonry came out of its historical shadows, in 1717, as a London club for enlightened gentlemen. Mr. Gallagher's Masonic tag, if his digital function had one, might be Worshipful Webmaster.

Read the rest here. I'm quoted in the article, which I guess means I Occupy The Wall Street Journal.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

2012 Prestonian Lecturer Announced: Antony Harvey

It has been announced that W.Bro. Antony D.G. Harvey is to be the Prestonian Lecturer for 2012. The title of his lecture will be "Freemasonry & Scouting: two parallel organisations?".

The Lectureship is a memorial to William Preston (1742-1818) the foremost Masonic educator of his age, who left a legacy to United Grand Lodge of England to perpetuate his system of ritual lectures.

For more information about the Prestonian Lecture for 2012 see http://www.prestonian2012.org.uk/

Friday, October 07, 2011

Michael Halleran in Northwest Indiana Tomorrow Oct 8th

Just a reminder that the South Bend Scottish Rite Research Guild presents “Freemasonry in the Civil War” lectured by Bro. Michael Halleran, author of "The better Angels of our Nature". Meet and Greet begins at 10am (CST).

This event will be at Excelsior Lodge No. 41, 820 Jefferson Ave., La Porte, Indiana.

Lunch will be served following the lecture, followed by the exemplification of the AASR-NMJ 26th degree “The Prince of Mercy”. Cost: $10.00 per person. **Lecture and lunch are open to everyone, Degree can only be witnessed by current or petitioned Scottish Rite Masons.

Please RSVP to Tim Farster at tfarster@hotmail.com

CALL FOR PAPERS – Symposium on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism

From Jeff Croteau at the National Heritage Museum, Lexington, Massachusetts:

CALL FOR PAPERS – Symposium on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism
National Heritage Museum, Lexington, Massachusetts

Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism
Saturday, April 7, 2012

The National Heritage Museum announces a call for papers for its biannual symposium, “Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism,” to be held on Saturday, April 7, 2012, at the Museum in Lexington, Massachusetts.

The National Heritage Museum is an American history museum founded and supported by Scottish Rite Freemasons in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States. As the repository of one of the largest collections of American Masonic and fraternal objects, books and manuscripts in the United States, the Museum aims to foster new research on American fraternalism and to encourage the use of its scholarly resources.

The symposium seeks to present the newest research on American fraternal groups from the past through the present day. By 1900, over 250 American fraternal groups existed, numbering six million members. The study of their activities and influence in the United States, past and present, offers the potential for new interpretations of American society and culture. Diverse perspectives on this topic are sought; proposals are invited from a broad range of research areas, including history, material and visual culture, anthropology, sociology, literary studies and criticism, gender studies, political science, African-American studies, art history, economics, or any combination of disciplines. Perspectives on and interpretations of all time periods are welcome.

Possible topics include:

• Comparative studies of American fraternalism and European or other international forms of fraternalism
• Prince Hall Freemasonry and other African-American fraternal groups
• Ethnically- and religiously-based fraternal groups
• Fraternal groups for women or teens
• Role of fraternal groups in social movements
• The material culture of Freemasonry and fraternalism
• Anti-Masonry and anti-fraternal movements, issues and groups
• Fraternal symbolism and ritual
• The expression of Freemasonry and fraternalism through art, music, and literature
• Approaches to Freemasonry – from disciplinary, interdisciplinary, or transnational perspectives; the historiography and methodology of the study of American fraternalism

Proposals should be for 30 minute research papers; the day’s schedule will allow for audience questions and feedback.

Proposal Format: Submit an abstract of 400 words or less with a resume or c.v. that is no more than two pages. Be sure to include full contact information (name, address, email, phone, affiliation).

Send proposals to: Aimee E. Newell, Ph.D., Director of Collections, National Heritage Museum, by email at anewell@monh.org or by mail to 33 Marrett Road, Lexington, MA 02421.

Deadline for proposals to be received is December 15, 2011. For more information about the National Heritage Museum, see www.nationalheritagemuseum.org. For questions, contact Aimee E. Newell as above, or call 781-457-4144.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Michael Jackson's Doctor, Conrad Murray's Freemasonry

Back in 2009 when Michael Jackson died, suspicion immediately turned to his physician Dr. Conrad Murray, who is now on trial for manslaughter in the death of the pop star.

At the time, a photo was released of Murray dressed in a Masonic officer's collar, and his attorney released a statement in order to bolster his sinking character, saying Murray had joined "the Freemasonry" [sic] in 2006. Almost immediately, Freemasons in California and Murray's state of residence, Nevada, could find no record of his membership.

Back in 2010, Jackson's father Joe and his sister LaToya accused Dr. Murray of being a tool of a Masonic cabal that runs the music industry. Apparently, they have been taken in by the Masonic references by acts like Lady Gaga and Jay-Z who have been using symbolism of the fraternity in their album artwork, videos and stage shows, as "proof" of a larger Masonic conspiracy.

Dr. Conrad Murray was actually a member of the "United Most Worshipful Scottish Grand Lodge of Texas", an irregular, unrecognized bogus group in the Houston area, that has absolutely nothing to do with the Grand Lodge of Texas AF&AM, the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas F&AM, or any other regular, recognized form of Freemasonry. Within three years of joining, Murray was made a grand lodge officer, with the bizarre rank of Grand Medical Director, which is the title that appears on his officer's collar in the photo. The United MW Scottish Rite Grand Lodge of Texas is on the list of bogus grand lodges identified by the Phylaxis Society. Their "cabal" extends to the city limits of Houston. But such details generally elude most non-Masons.

One wonders what goes on at their meetings that would require a grand medical officer.

As you can tell from the Phylaxis Society's list of bogus grand lodges, the African-American community has been especially pestered by charlatans who stick a square and compasses on their lapel, buy some aprons, download a ritual, and declare themselves to be a "grand lodge" without any authority whatsoever. The somewhat arcane internal struggles we have involving issues of recognition and regularity undoubtedly seem quaint, silly or puzzling to non-Masons.

Dr. Murray belongs to a self-declared grand lodge in Houston that has no recognition or authority whatsoever outside of its own lodge room. In Texas, only lodges chartered by the mainstream and predominantly white Grand Lodge of Texas AF&AM or the predominantly black Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas are recognized as regular by the overwhelming world of Freemasonry.

The problem is that "Freemason" and "Order of the Eastern Star" are not copyrighted terms, and so bogus groups are not prohibited by law from co-opting them.

The black community has been especially plagued by these irregular Masonic groups. In some states like California, Ohio and Illinois, there are dozens and even hundreds of such fraudulent organizations that sound completely legitimate, or at least suitably ostentatious. Some were formed because of internal squabbles and schisms. Others exist solely to separate the gullible from their cash. And still others (Prince Hall Origination) date back more than 150 years to a brief experiment with a national governing organization that was quickly discarded by most Prince Hall lodges.

In any case, Dr. Murray's allegedly questionable medical activities were not motivated, controlled, or otherwise ordered by a Masonic Plot.™

I highly recommend the website of the Phylaxis Society’s Commission on Bogus Masonic Practices. It is an eye-opening introduction to a little known area of American Masonic history.

WEOFM: "Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction" by Stewart W. Miner

The latest video presentation from the Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry is Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction by Stewart W. Miner, Past Grand Master and Grand Secretary Emeritus of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia. (CLICK HERE TO VIEW)

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.

Note that I am no longer placing the videos for direct viewing into the blog. Somehow they've been screwing with the code and causing major loading problems. So please use the links above.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Author Andrew Hammer PM to Speak in Indianapolis Oct 25th

W:.B:. Andrew Hammer, PM of Alexandria Washington Lodge No. 22 in Virginia, and author of Observing The Craft, will speak at Lodge Vitruvian No. 767 on Tuesday, Oct 25th. Dress for visitors is tuxedo or suit. Stated meeting at 7PM at the Temple of Broad Ripple Lodge, 1716 Broad Ripple Avenue. Dinner and Andrew's presentation will follow at 8PM at Capri Restaurant.

Lodge Vitruvian is Indiana's only European Concept lodge and was chartered in 2002.

House of the Temple Centennial 10/16-18

Between October 16th and 18th, the centennial celebration of the laying of the House of the Temple Cornerstone will take place in Washington DC. October 16th-17th events are limited to just 200 attendees, but the Oct 18th Reenactment is open to the public.
• Oct 16: Guided tours.
• 10/17: Cornerstone symposium. Speakers will include Thomas Luebke, Sec of US Commission on Fine Arts; Hartman Cox Architects on John Russell Pope's significance; Arturo de Hoyos on Masonic Symbolism of the House of the Temple; Sean Graystone on Renovating the Temple for a New Century.
• 10/18: Re-enactment of Conerstone ceremony with the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia.

$100 for Scottish Rite Masons and their family, $200 for non-members. Register by calling 866-448-3773

The House of the Temple is the national headquarters of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction.

Michael Halleran in Northern Indiana This Saturday Oct 8th

The South Bend Scottish Rite Research Guild presents “Freemasonry in the Civil War” lectured by Bro. Michael Halleran, author of "The better Angels of our Nature". Meet and Greet begins at 10am (CST).

This event will be at Excelsior Lodge No. 41, 820 Jefferson Ave., La Porte, Indiana.

Lunch will be served following the lecture, followed by the exemplification of the AASR-NMJ 26th degree “The Prince of Mercy”. Cost: $10.00 per person. **Lecture and lunch are open to everyone, Degree can only be witnessed by current or petitioned Scottish Rite Masons.

Please RSVP to Tim Farster at tfarster@hotmail.com