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


Saturday, December 31, 2011

Worthington, Ohio

My friend Chad Simpson gives a tour of the Ohio Masonic museum and Grand Lodge headquarters in Worthington to a happy blogger here, There’s Plenty of Good Behavior on Display at the Worthington Masonic Museum.

Nicely done, Chad.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Arkansas Yanks Recognition of the Shrine

Here we go again. The Grand Master of Arkansas has joined Michigan in declaring the Shrine clandestine in his state, for a similar reason.

His letter (of December 8th, I believe, although the date was partially obscured) reads:

To: Shrine International
To: All Subordinate Lodges in Arkansas
To: All Master Masons of Arkansas
To: All Grand Jurisdictions
To: All Appendant Bodies in Arkansas

This letter is to inform you of the actions of Shriners International as it pertains to the M.'. W/. Grand Lodge of Arkansas. Shriners International has in their writings at the very least indicated that they believe that the laws of Shrine supersede that of Arkansas Grand Lodge, along with the authority to govern Master Masons within its jurisdiction.

Shortly after the Grand Lodge Session in February, 2011,1 was presented with significant evidence that a Master Mason in this Grand Jurisdiction had acted in an un-masonic manner. On June 1, 2011, I appointed a Grand Lodge Investigation Committee to look into the above allegations. On July 5. 2011, after receiving the report from the Grand Lodge Investigation Committee, as Grand Master of Masons in Arkansas, I charged the above Arkansas Master Mason with Un-masonic Conduct. His general behavior was unbecoming of a Master Mason, in violation of Section 2.1.46 of the Arkansas Masonic Digest of Laws. He was informed of these charges and that he was suspended from all rights of a Master Mason in this Grand Jurisdiction pending outcome of a Grand Lodge Trial Commission.

Following a Grand Lodge Trial, the above Master Mason's charges of Un-masonic Conduct were upheld and a penalty of Expulsion was assessed.

After reviewing the report sent to me from the Grand Lodge Trial Commission, a letter was sent to him on August 31, 2011, informing him of his immediate expulsion from the Fraternity. In accordance with historical practice a copy of the above referenced letter was sent to the Appendant Bodies of Arkansas. The Grand Lodge of Iowa, and Shriners International.

On October 25, 2011, I was made aware of a letter from Shriners International approving this individuals request for a stay, and a letter from the Imperial Potentate, informing him that he was to remain a member and continue as Potentate of Scimitar Shrine Temple.

As Grand Master of Masons in Arkansas, I therefore order: All reference to the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of North America hereby be removed and declared clandestine and illegitimate.


As Grand Master of Masons in Arkansas, I further order that Master Masons within this Grand Jurisdiction shall not participate in any Shrine activity that in any way presents itself as being part of the Masonic Fraternity. Further, Master Masons within this Grand Jurisdiction are not permitted to display any Masonic emblem on a Shrine Fez or as a part of a Shrine uniform. The Worshipful Masters and all Appendant or recognized bodies are ordered to immediately remove, from their Lodges, and/or meeting facilities, any and all references, pictures, articles, or other paraphernalia, that contain any Shrine emblem, or any connection between the Shrine and Freemasonry. All Shrine Clubs within this Grand Jurisdiction, and other related organizations and units, are not permitted to utilize Masonic properties for any purpose. No Master Mason within this Grand Jurisdiction is to promote or indicate the existence of any form of relationship between this Grand Jurisdiction and the Shrine. No Master Mason within this Grand Jurisdiction shall engage in the solicitation of, or permit a Shriner to solicit, any member of the Fraternity for membership in the Shrine while in attendance at any Masonic Function The provisions of this order apply to all Master Masons residing within this Grand Jurisdiction and to Master Masons who are members of Subordinate Lodges within this Grand Jurisdiction while visiting or residence of another Grand Jurisdiction.

Violations of any part of this order will be deemed punishable by a penalty of expulsion from the Fraternity. Such penalty will be administered without the benefit of a trial.

Myles A. Oliver, Grand Master

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Nebraska Student Masonic Group Opens at University

Wade Kendle writes in the December issue of Nebraska's Masonic News about a new Masonic student group on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Linclon (UNL). From "Registered Student Organization forming on the campus of UNL":

Over the past month or so, it has been my honor and privilege to help start the ball rolling for the formation of a Registered Student Organization (RSO) on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln called “The Freemasons of UNL”. As of today, a Letter of Intent has been filed and accepted with the student government with 5 student signatures, all Freemasons, and the organization’s faculty advisor, M.W.B. James F. Brown Jr., Professor of Accounting.

We have two other UNL faculty lined up who will be secondary advisors to the organization. From the acceptance of the Letter of Intent, the organization has 90 days to file a constitution with the student government. Within 14 days after the constitution is received, a committee from the student government (ASUN) will decide whether the constitution is in good order and the group
can meet as an official RSO.

Assuming all goes well with the constitution, we hope to have the group approved and meeting as an RSO early spring 2012.
It has been many years since there was a student organization comprised of Master Masons on UNL’s campus. In fact, Acacia
Fraternity, founded in 1904, was the last to have such a membership requirement and Acacia dropped its Masonic membership requirement in 1933. The Acacia Chapter on UNL’s campus is the oldest existing Acacia Chapter, being the fourth Chapter founded. Recently, Nebraska Chapter has run into hard times, having to rent out the Fraternity’s house due to low membership. In speaking with the national office, they are living once more in their house on Vine Street, but there are currently less than ten active members of Acacia in the house. Hopefully the RSO and Acacia can work together in some way to the benefit of both organizations. I’ve attempted to contact the Chapter Advisor concerning the RSO but I have yet to speak to him.

Membership in the RSO will not be limited to Freemasons. It will be open to any student who is interested in learning more about the Masons, their history, the appendant bodies, and, if so motivated, joining the larger Fraternity. Per UNL RSO guidelines, there can be non-student members, though only UNL student members have voting rights and are allowed to hold office. Our current thought is to allow non-student members but require them to be dues paying members of an adult body, either Blue Lodge or Eastern Star. Quite a bit of thought has gone into developing the structure of the organization. While space does not permit me to publish the proposed constitution, I can tell you I’m excited and encouraged by the positive comments I’ve had helping to get the group started. Our founding members hold Masonic memberships in Lincoln, Weeping Water, and Las Vegas, NV. I’ve been privileged to cross paths with them at some point in time, even helping to raise two of them.

The benefits of having a student group on campus are enormous! A RSO can sponsor events on campus and have a booth at Big Red Welcome. I’ve been a member of the Grand Lodge’s Public Relations Committee and the Grand Chapter’s Youth Committee when conversation turned to how we can engage Masonic Youth on college campuses across Nebraska.

We seem to lose our Youth during the college years and relatively few of them go on to join our adult bodies. Hopefully the RSO
will be a place Masonic Youth can congregate and help bridge the gap between the youth groups and adult organizations. We also hope UNL’s RSO can serve as a template for the formation of others at UNO, UNK, Peru State, Wayne State, and Chadron State. Though, assuming RSO requirements are the same from campus to campus, the largest hurdle to overcome will be finding enough college students who are Master Masons to sign the Letter of Intent. My Blue Lodge is in the process of raising one attending Peru State, but that’s only one.

If you are a college student or know of a college student who would like more information about “The Freemasons of UNL”, contact myself or chapter advisor M.W.B. James F. Brown Jr.

H/T to Greg Prososki

Monday, December 26, 2011

Valley of Chicago Opens New Building

The Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago will hold its Inaugural Meeting in its newly constructed headquarters on January 19, 2012, with a special appearance by author S. Brent Morris:

Join us on Thursday, January 19, 2012, for the Inaugural Meeting of the new home of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago. The new home of the Valley of Chicago is located at 383 E. Lake Street in Bloomingdale, Illinois 60108.

Summary of the evening's festivities:

The building will open at 6:00 pm, just in time for members to explore the various spaces such as the library, museum and the Masonic Lodge room, as well as to enjoy a beverage in the lounge or a round of billiards in the game room.

A buffet dinner will be served starting at 6:30 pm, with the Stated Meeting to open at 7:30 pm.

Following the close of the meeting, you may choose to listen to an informative presentation by special guest speaker S. Brent Morris, 33°, Masonic author and scholar and editor of the Scottish Rite Journal for the Southern Jurisdiction.

Everyone is encouraged to join together for afterglow in the lounge.


The new building's official dedication will be on Saturday, March 17, 2012.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Silver Templar Trophies On The Auction Block

What happens when we lose the priceless items of our heritage? Someone else puts a price on them. Spotted on a listing of a Sotheby's auction in New York.

Additional highlights of the silver on offer include five trophy pieces from the St. Bernard Commandery No. 35, Knights Templar, Chicago. By World War I, an estimated one in every eight adult men and women in the United States belonging to some kind of fraternal order, and marching competitions at the state and national levels drew audiences in the tens of thousands and produced intense rivalries. In a half-century of competition, St. Bernard Commandery from Chicago claimed more prizes that almost any other commandery, including the trophies offered this January. Among other treasures, the group features the 29th Triennial Conclave at San Francisco, CA, 1904: An American Silver and Copper “Indian” Punch Bowl, Stand and Ladle Attributed to Joseph Heinrich, New York, Retailed by Hammersmith & Field, San Francisco dated 1904 (est. $150/250,000), and the 22nd Triennial Conclave at San Francisco, CA, 1883: An American Silver, Bronze, and California Gold Quartz “Knights Templar” Trophy, George C. Shreve & Co., San Francisco, with figures attributed to F. Marion Wells in 1883 (est. $150/250,000).

The full catalog can be seen here with photos.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bro. Brother’s Journal

Allegedly discovered at a country auction, Bro. Brother’s Journal contains the personal reminiscences, the earliest dating from 1893, of Hiram H. Brother (1872 – 1970), a prominent Freemason from Kansas City. Published serially in the Scottish Rite Journal from 2007-2010 and 'edited' by Brother Michael Halleran, the complete collection (to date) will be available in January 2012 in paperback including all stories previously published plus several new adventures, with original illustrations by Ted Bastien (of "Bugsport" fame).

Keep checking the Brother Brother's Journal website for updates. It will be published by Macoy Publishing.

This mulligatawny soupçon of tales from Bro. B’s diary will provide many an evening of happy diversion. For those disposed to the observation of the passing parade, they will fondly encounter famous brethren, as well as an affable assemblage of seditious secretaries, timid tilers, pesky prompters, grim Grand Masters, rakes, rotters, bounders and ear benders, who are, dare I say it, not dissimilar from the lovable fellows who inhabit our own lodges today.

Michael Halleran is also the author of The Better Nature of Our Angels, an outstanding book about Freemasonry during the American Civil War.

Also follow Bro. Brother's Facebook page here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Here's To Chivalry

A commercial that might well be about Freemasons. Here's to chivalry.

H/T Robert Davis

(It's over a year old. Simon Laplace spotted it last year. I'm just late.)

Journal of the Masonic Society Issue #14 Coming

The delayed Issue #14 of the Journal of the Masonic Society is at the printers at last and will start hitting mailboxes after Christmas. Articles include:

A Mason’s Cabletow by Shawn Carrick

The Working Tools of a Canadian Mason by Michael Bayrak

Scottish Freemasonry...of Its Own Free Will and Accord by Doug Bewick

Tamino’s Initiation: Vengeance, Virtue & Enlightenment In Mozart’s The Magic Flute by R. Bradley Bunn

Is Freemasonry Dangerous? by Jason E. Marshall

TMS Semi-Annual Meeting Recap by James R. Dillman

n-Dimensional Masonry by Michael Bayrak

Sunday, December 18, 2011

New Jersey Lodge Celebrates Christmas in a Big Way

The brethren of Hiram Abiff Lodge No. 16 (Prince Hall) in Pleasantville, New Jersey held their annual Christmas party and gave away 72 bicycles and hundreds of toys. New Jersey's Prince Hall Grand Master Robert Oglesby, Sr. said between $8,000 and $10,000 worth of bicycles, toys, food and candy canes were given away on Saturday.

From the Press of Atlantic City:

Mayleanne Lugo smiled as she approached Santa Claus inside Pleasantville Middle School's cafeteria on Saturday morning.

The 3-year-old Egg Harbor Township resident's smile grew when Santa gave her a small container of Play-Doh, which she hugged against her chest until she became the first of 72 local children to win a bicycle, her first, at the 34th annual Hiram Abiff Lodge No. 16 Christmas party.

And even though Lugo's tiny feet did not know exactly how to maneuver the pedals on her new bicycle, her now enormous smile showed her excitement.

"I never heard about anything like this until a friend told me about it. But I love it, and she obviously loves it too," Lugo's mother Fabiola Rodriquez, 32, said while looking down at her daughter, who was inspecting her new wheels. "This is a wonderful thing they do."

The large-scale holiday tradition started under the direction of the Masonic lodge's past master Clarence Williams, who was at Saturday's event helping to hand out gifts.

"He told us he wanted to do something positive in the community for the children," said past Grand Master John Bettis, who was the president of that year's membership class. "We had 200 or 300 kids here for the first year, when we only had two bikes - one boy's bike and one girl's bike - to give away. And it just grew from there."

This year, more than 600 children - from infants to 12 year olds - flooded into the cafeteria for a chance to get one of the 72 bicycles or hundreds of other toys that were given away.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Midland, Texas Masons Celebrate 125 Years

The Freemasons in Midland, Texas are celebrating their 125th anniversary this week.

From the Midland Reporter Telegram:

"I'm just so excited," said Olin McMillan, worshipful master of Lodge 623. "We're not the oldest institution in Midland, but for 125 years, we've been providing continuous service."

Masons are a group of men who share the virtues of honesty, morality, integrity and tolerance, officials said.

The first Masonic Lodge in Midland was founded on July 30, 1886, only five years after the establishment of the town of Midway -- which became Midland. The post office was established two years in 1884 and Midland County in 1885.

Charter members included the county's first clerk, attorney, sheriff and treasurer. Other members included W.E. Bailey, the city's first doctor, and J.C. Peoples, who was instrumental in organizing First Presbyterian Church in 1885, McMillan said.

Eastern Star -- the women's arm of the lodge -- was created in 1887 and received its official charter in 1905. The Order of the Rainbow for Girls was chartered in November 1948, records indicate.

Members have been in their current building, 1600 W. Wall St., since 1953.

Congratulations, brethren.

Thomas Jefferson's Bible at Smithsonian

The famous (or infamous) Thomas Jefferson bible is on display at the Smithsonian through the end of May. What makes it special?

From today's Huffington Post:

How would you feel about taking a razor blade to a Bible?

Thomas Jefferson, apparently, didn't have any qualms about it.

In his retirement, the nation's third president carried out a project he had contemplated for years: he literally cut and pasted passages from the four Gospels into one integrated narrative of Jesus' life -- minus the miracles and supernatural events.

The result, he said, was "the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man." Judging by the wear and tear on the book, it appears Jefferson read it regularly.

Known as "The Jefferson Bible," the 84-page patchwork book is on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History here through May 28, 2012. Smithsonian Books has released a commemorative full-color edition, and Tarcher/Penguin is publishing a pocket-size version in January.

The exhibit is the first time the book has been shown publicly since it underwent a meticulous conservation process. When the pages were removed from the binding for treatment, they were also photographed, so that the entire book can now be viewed in high-resolution digital images on the museum's website.

Curator Harry Rubenstein said the book can be controversial, but it depends on how you look at it.

"It's either a statement that strips out the divinity of Jesus ... or it's a distillation of his moral philosophy," Rubenstein said.

Jefferson cut passages from six different Bibles, in English, French, Latin and Greek. He left behind any elements that he could not support through reason or that he believed were later embellishments, including the Resurrection.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Speaking in Missouri January 7th

On January 7th, 2012 I'll be speaking outside of St. Louis at St. Charles Lodge #241 A.F.&A.M., 2051 Collier Corporate Parkway, St. Charles, MO 63303

Dinner will be at the Lodge Hall at 6:00 pm, with the talk to follow.

Dinner is $16.00 in advance or $19.00 at the door, if space is available.

Make your reservations early, as seating for dinner is limited. There is no charge for the talk. The menu will be roast beef, chicken breast, salad, vegetable, potatoes rolls, and dessert. Drinks are included.

For questions and reservations, contact WB Jay Underdown at sueandjay@centurytel.net

Masonic Playing Cards

Brother Yasha Beresiner has published an interesting paper on his website about the origin and different styles of Masonic tarot and playing cards. Yasha is a London dealer in antique cards, currency, maps and artwork. He is also a registered London Walks guide.

See it here: Masonic Playing Cards by Yasha Beresiner

(Updated 4/29/17 with a Wayback archive link: HERE)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Make Your Masonic Week Reservations Now! Feb 8-12, 2012

The program, hotel and reservation form for Masonic Week in Alexandria, Virginia is up and running. All banquet tickets must be purchased in advance from the website, so don't forget to reserve now.

Masonic Week seems to grow larger every year. Don't miss it. And especially don't miss the Masonic Society Banquet on Friday night, February 10th, featuring our speaker "Art of Manliness" author, Brother Brett McKay. We'll again be hosting our legendary hospitality suite this year, so stop in and spend some time with us.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Masonic Society Journals Available Online

The Masonic Society has sold out of back issues of Journals #2 and #5, so we are making them available online now for free, along with the premiere issue #1.

Read them here:

TMS Issue #1

TMS Issue #2

TMS Issue #5

Not a member of the Masonic Society? We are the fastest growing Masonic research organization in the world, and membership is a paltry $39 a year. Check us out at www.themasonicsociety.com

Issue #14 is going to press this week.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Symposium on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism Rescheduled

THIS IS AN UPDATE – due to scheduling issues, the date of the Symposium on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism at the National Heritage Museum has changed – it will take place on April 28, 2012 (formerly scheduled for April 7th). The call for papers has been extended to January 2, 2012.

CALL FOR PAPERS – Symposium on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism. National Heritage Museum, Lexington, Massachusetts Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism – Saturday, April 28, 2012

The National Heritage Museum will be holding its biannual symposium, Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism, on April 28, 2012, at the museum, in Lexington, Massachusetts. We are now seeking paper proposals for the symposium.

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 January 2, 2012. 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.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

New Book: "Secret Societies In America: Foundational Studies of Fraternalism."

A new book has been published, co-Edited by Mark. A Tabbert & William D. Moore: "Secret Societies In America: Foundational Studies of Fraternalism."

Fraternal organizations, often called "secret societies" because of their proprietary ritual initiations, have thrived in America since the 1730s. Only recently, however, have they become the subject of rigorous academic scrutiny. Bringing together foundational studies in American fraternalism by respected journalists, historians, and sociologists, this volume seeks to contribute to a greater understanding of this aspect of American life. Two respected authorities in the field have carefully selected and edited writings which shed light on how contemporaries understood fraternalism during its golden age of the 1800s, document how the 20th centuries scholars understood these groups, and hopefully facilitate further research into this quintessentially characteristic American phenomenon.

Journalistic Studies

1- Harwood, W.S. "Secret Societies in America." 1897
2 - Hill, Walter, B. “The Great American Safety-valve.” 1892
3 - Foster, J.M. "Secret Societies and the State" 1898
4 - Harger, Charles Moreau, “The Lodge,” 1896
5 - Weir, Hugh C. "Romance of the Secret Society." 1911
6 - Merz, Charles. "Halt! Who comes There?." 1923
7 - Merz, Charles. "Sweet Land of Secrecy." 1927
8 - Lehman, Milton. "It takes three to make a lodge." 1948

Historical Studies
9 - Schlesinger, Sr., Arthur M. "Biography of a Nation of Joiners." 1944
10 - Davis, David Brion. “Some Themes of Counter-Subversion: An Analysis of Anti-Masonic, Anti-Catholic, and Anti-Mormon Literature.” 1960

Sociological Studies
11 - Simmel, Greg. "The Sociology of Secrecy and of Secret Societies." 1906
12 - Gist, Noel P. “Culture Patterning in Secret Society Ceremonials.” 1936
13 - Gist, Noel P., “Structure and Process in Secret Societies.” 1938

Insurance Studies
14 - Meyer, B.H. "Fraternal Beneficiary Societies in America." 1901
15 - Stevens, Albert Clark. "Fraternal insurance." 1900
16 - Landis, Abb. “Life Insurance by Fraternal Orders.” 1904
17 - Nichols, Walter S., “Fraternal Insurance: Its Character, Virtues and Defects” 1904
18 – Page, Walter H., “Insurance that Does Not Insure.” 1911
19 - Knight, Charles K., “Fraternal Life Insurance.” 1927

295 Pages
Price: 24.95

Please purchase through the GW Masonic Memorial Gift shop -- proceeds help the Memorial's educational mission.
-- plus if you request, Mark will be happy to autograph copies.


Friday, December 09, 2011

New York PGM Bidnick Suspended

New York's Past Grand Master Neal Bidnick has been suspended for a year after a Masonic trial. According to the letter circulated by the Grand Lodge of New York, he was suspended for marching in a parade after being expressly forbidden to appear in public Masonic ceremonies by an edict issued last summer by current GM Vincent Libone.

"Art of Manliness" Author to Speak at Masonic Society Annual Banquet 2/10

The Masonic Society's 2012 Annual Meeting will once again be held during Masonic Week in Alexandria, VA, February 8-12. The meeting is set for Friday, February 10 at 6:00 P.M. in the host hotel, the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center. Here is a link to the official website where you can find registration and hotel reservation information. Please take note of the deadlines for meals and hotel reservations. We hope many of you will be able to join us.


The Annual Meeting will consist of a banquet, a short business meeting that will include election of officers for 2012 and 2013, and our speaker. The business portion of the evening will be intentionally brief as it is our desire that this evening be primarily devoted to education and fellowship. As usual, we will be hosting a hospitality room in the hotel. There will be snacks, libations, and plenty of good conversation. The Masonic Society hospitality suite is always a popular destination. Visitors have the opportunity to meet and mingle with many noted Masonic authors and educators, the TMS officers and directors, fellow members of TMS, and brethren from around the country and world. We are known for pouring with a heavy hand. The room number will be available in the hotel lobby.

The featured speaker at the TMS Annual Meeting will be Brett McKay who with his wife Kate publishes The Art of Manliness blog and website. Brett hails from Tulsa, OK and was passed to the degree of Fellowcraft in his lodge, having made the decision to become a Freemason fairly recently. From The Art of Manliness webpage:

Brett and Kate McKay are the married team behind the popular website, artofmanliness.com. Started in 2008, The Art of Manliness was designed to fill a niche in the men’s media market–a totally different kind of magazine for men. Instead of constantly regurgitating articles on six pack abs, boobs, and cars, The Art of Manliness focuses on reviving the lost art of manliness. We look to the past to find the best traditional manliness has to offer while leaving behind the mistakes of yesteryear. We aim to teach the skills and virtues that turn boys into men of substance and character.

The message of the Art of Manliness has deeply resonated with today’s men, catapulting the site to popularity. In just three years the site has grown to nearly 3 million visitors a month, over 4 million page views a month, and over 100,000 daily subscribers. In addition, the Art of Manliness has a thriving online social network called the Art of Manliness Community. With nearly 18,000 registered members and over 4,000 forum topics, we’ve developed a community of men (and some women) who have a passion for reviving the lost art of manliness.

In 2009, the McKay’s published their first book The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man.

Brett has a degree in Letters from the University of Oklahoma where he focused on classical history and philosophy. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Tulsa College of Law. Kate has a bachelor’s in history from Brigham Young University and graduated summa cum laude with a masters in religion from Oklahoma City University. The McKay’s live in Tulsa, OK with their son Gus.

Brett and Kate's latest book, The Art of Manliness-Manvotionals: Timeless Wisdom and Advice on Living the 7 Manly Virtues, was recently released.

Tickets for the banquet must be purchased in advance from the Masonic Week website. Price is $65 per person, and ladies and non-Masons are invited. Please join us for a great evening!

Not a member of the Masonic Society? Read about us at www.themasonicsociety.com

H/T Jim Dillman

Sunday, December 04, 2011

An Ugly Meeting Saturday in France (GLNF)

A report from Paris via François Koch's blog, La Lumiere, on the L'Express magazine website:

Annual Meeting of the GLNF. Brothers Shout "Resign" at the Grand Master

December 3, 2011
by Francois Koch

The brothers shouted "Resign!" and "Thug!" at the address of the Grand Master François Stifani at the Annual Meeting of the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF). It was this afternoon, in Levallois-Perret. Due to demonstration by opponents of Francois Stifani outside the main entrance, the few foreign delegations [in attendance] came into the room through another door.

Only 1200 delegates attended the meeting in an room set up for 3000. According to the accounts I have received, about two-thirds of the participants shouted "Resign!" and "Thug!" to the Grand Master. So, Francois Stifani was hardly able to speak, in this meeting, which lasted two and a half hours. The witnesses refer to a "climate of insurrection." It was like the Annual Communication of March 2010. Except that this was a ritual meeting, where order is supposed to reign. The reports were jeered. And it did not proceed to any vote.


It was nothing like the atmosphere of the meeting yesterday (December 2) of the Sovereign Grand Committee, whose members are appointed by the Grand Master. In the Grand Temple de Pisan, François Stifani received a standing ovation. He gave a speech saying the GLNF was located in another dimension than the secular world, "JUSTICE CAN NOT SET IN our case. Contrary to what has been said for too many months, French Freemasonry is not and can not be restricted to being a simple association like thousands of others, including operating procedures which must be modified according to circumstances and interests of one or the other. "

Someone has posted a video of the meeting here.



Read the English translation of GM François Stifani's speech before the assembly here. (Big file, slow connection. Please be patient.)

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Reminder: 92Y Event Cancelled

Just a reminder: Alice and I will NOT be speaking Sunday in New York City at the 92nd Street Y as part of their Sunday Symposium. I am simply not well enough to travel yet. My deepest apologies to anyone who was planning on being there.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Michigan: Shriners Respond To Grand Master's Order

The following letter was passed to me today in response to the order by the Grand Master of Michigan severing recognition with the Shrine. See here for the first part of this story and the Grand Master's Letter.

Here is the response of Michael G. Severe, Imperial Potentate, Shriners international:


November 30, 2011
To the Elected Officers and Nobles of Ahmed Shriners, Elf Khurafeh Shriners, Moslem Shriners and Saladin Shriners:
By now you have received or been informed of the actions of the Grand Master of Michigan expelling Illustrious Sir Craig H. Hatch from Masonry. As you know, there are two sides to every story. In this letter I will inform you of the material facts that have come to my attention, cite our Shrine Law and present my conclusions based upon our Shrine Law.

Some time ago, the Elf Khurafeh Potentate, Craig Hatch, was arrested and charged with violating the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act, a felony punishable by a year or more in jail. At his court appearance in February of 2011 Potentate Hatch and an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Michigan entered into a confidential “plea and sentence agreement” that included a plea of “guilty” by Potentate Hatch. According to Potentate Hatch’s attorney, the guilty plea was taken under advisement and an Order Delaying Sentence was entered by the Judge and the case was set for a return date in February, 2012. The final outcome of the case at that time is uncertain and among the possible results the charge against Potentate Hatch could be dismissed.
There has never been any Masonic trial of Potentate Hatch; never been any Shrine trial of Potentate Hatch; never been any criminal or civil trial of Potentate Hatch.

However, on June 14, 2011, the newly installed Grand Master of Michigan, Frederick Kaiser, issued a letter in which he ruled that the term “convicted” would henceforth be defined as either an adjudication of guilt(by either a judge or jury) or by a plea of guilty.
Then, in July, the Grand Master expelled Potentate Hatch from Masonry for the stated reason that Potentate Hatch was “convicted” of a crime punishable by incarceration of one or more years.

An appeal of this order to the Grand lodge on behalf of Potentate Hatch has been referred to the appropriate Committee for consideration and the Committee’s report at the Annual Communication on June 2, 2012.

I, as Imperial Potentate, was extremely distressed by the foregoing. Nonetheless, I asked my representatives to communicate with Potentate Hatch in an effort to present a resolution to the Grand Master that would be satisfactory to him. My representatives approached Potentate Hatch and stressed the sensitivity of the situation between the two bodies and implored him to voluntarily agree not to attend any tiled meeting or ceremonial of Masonry or the Shrine. So, even though he was in good standing with the Shrine (as the appeal of his expulsion was not final), he agreed to this recommendation for the good of peace and harmony between the Grand Lodge of Michigan and Shriners International. Thereupon, on November 1, 2011 I issued a letter to Potentate Hatch confirming his non-attendance. I believed that this would satisfy the Grand Master within the parameters of Shrine Law.
On November 11, 2011, at the request of the Grand Master, I and my General Counsels joined in a conference call with Grand Master Kaiser and his representatives. Additional conferences ensued but I followed our Shrine Law and refused to expel Potentate Hatch based upon the Grand Master’s definition of “conviction.”

Thereafter, the Grand master chose to release another letter dated November 23, 2011 wherein he issued the following orders:
It is, therefore my Order that no Mason who holds membership in a Michigan lodge or in a lodge chartered by a recognized Grand Lodge who resides or sojourns in Michigan may: (1) attend a non-public function of any Shrine in Michigan or (2) have any Masonic interaction of any kind with any Shrine organization in Michigan. Furthermore, no Shrine function or activity will be afforded a special privilege not afforded any other unrelated organization that is allowed to use a building dedicated to Masonic purposes or on the grounds of a building so dedicated.

Violation of these provisions by a Mason under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Michigan is punishable by charges of un-Masonic conduct.

This ruling is to be read at your next regular communication and spread upon the minutes of your lodge.

Shrine law is found in our General Order and our Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.

General Order No 1. A resolution was adopted by the unanimous vote of the Representatives at the 1989 annual session of Shriners International. This resolution can be found on page 22 of General Order No. 1, Series of 2011-2012, entitled Sovereignty, Rights and Responsibilities. I urge you to read it in its entirety but call to your attention paragraph 1 thereof which states:
The Shrine is a separate and distinct legal fraternal corporation; it must abide by its articles of incorporation and bylaws; and its officers must abide by their oath of office to “strictly conform to the requirements of Shrine law.” The Shrine accepts that the various Grand Lodges all have different Masonic codes and bylaws that govern their organizations.

Bylaw. §323.8 of Shriners International Bylaws state that “If a Noble loses his membership in the prerequisite body for any reason other than non-payment of dues, the loss of membership in his temple is effective when it becomes final in the prerequisite body unless he shall file an appeal with the Imperial Recorder within 30 days after the loss of his membership in the prerequisite body.” (emphasis added)

Annotation. Expulsion of a member by his Grand Lodge does not terminate Shrine membership until that loss becomes final.
Article 30. §330.2 of Article 30 of our international bylaws states:

This Article is intended to provide the guidelines for the determination of whether an accused Noble should be disciplined, the extent of such discipline if appropriate and to assure fair play and substantial justice as these concepts are understood and practiced in North America. (emphasis added)

As Imperial Potentate, I took the following oath of office:
I do solemnly promise and vow that I will faithfully and to the best of my ability discharge the duties of the office to which I have been elected, and that I will strictly conform to the requirements of Shrine law. (emphasis added)

All temple officers take the following oath of office:

I do solemnly promise and vow that I will faithfully and to the best of my ability, discharge the duties of the office to which I have been elected, and that I will strictly conform to the requirements of Shrine law and the bylaws of my temple. (emphasis added)

Under Shrine Law, Potentate Hatch’s expulsion from Masonry and the loss of membership in his temple is effective when it becomes “final” if and when the appeal to the Grand Lodge is denied. Under our Bylaws he remains a member in good standing until that time.

As you can see, by my actions herein recited, I am fulfilling my obligations. You can do no less.
I encourage all of you to continue to support our Shrine fraternity and our Shriners Hospitals for Children.

You are to read this communication at your next meeting and make it a part of the minutes.

Yours in the Faith,
Michael G. Severe, Imperial Potentate, Shriners international

C: Imperial Divan
Grand Lodge of Michigan

Ill. C. Fred Kleinknecht Passes Away

Ill. C. Fred Kleinknecht, 33°, Past Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction, passed away yesterday at the age of 87. His extensive obituary may be seen at the Supreme Council website here.

"In 1949, he began his Masonic journey in Maryland’s Silver Spring Lodge No. 215. He joined the Scottish Rite in Baltimore in 1950, received the rank and decoration of a Knight Commander of the Court of Honour in 1955, and was coroneted an Inspector General Honorary of the Thirty-third Degree in 1959. He was also a member of Mt. Pleasant Chapter No. 13, R.A.M., King David Council No. 19, R.&S.M., St. Elmo Commandery No. 12, K.T., Boumi Shriners, the National Sojourners, and many, many other Masonic organizations. . .

By 1966, the then current Grand Commander, Luther A. Smith, placed Fred in positions of increasing responsibility, leading to his appointment as Assistant to the Grand Commander on January 1, 1966, and Acting Grand Secretary General on January 1, 1967. The Supreme Council endorsed Bro. Smith’s confidence and elected Fred Grand Secretary General and S.G.I.G. at-large on September 28, 1967. He served in this position for nineteen years until the Supreme Council elected him Sovereign Grand Commander on October 23, 1985. . .

The funeral for Ill. C. Fred Kleinknecht, 33°, Past Grand Commander, will be held at the House of the Temple, 1733 16th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009, 202–232–3579, on Tuesday, December 6, 2011, at 11:00 a.m., officiated by Rev. W. Kenneth Lyons, 33°, G.C., Grand Chaplain of the Supreme Council. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the House of the Temple Historic Preservation Foundation, Inc."


Ohio: Freemason University Online Leadership Program

The Grand Lodge of Ohio has just announced the formation of Freemason University, an online learning program designed to promote ritual appreciation, lodge management and lodge leadership, using video, audio and written material. The website is still being developed with material (have a look at the Leadership area). Check back regularly for more information.