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


Monday, August 31, 2015

PA Academy of Masonic Knowledge 10/17

The 2016 Fall session of the Academy of Masonic Knowledge will be held on Saturday, October 17, in the Deike Auditorium of the Freemasons Cultural Center on the campus of the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. Registration will open at 8:30 AM with the program beginning at 9:30 AM. A lunch (requested contribution of $10) will be served at noon and the program will be completed by 3:00 p.m. All Masons are welcome to attend. Dress is coat and tie.

The program for the day includes: 

Professor Kenneth Loiselle will speak on topics from his research and his recently published book Brotherly Love: Freemasonry and Male Friendship in Enlightenment France in a lecture entitled: From Enlightenment to Revolution: Masonic Friendship in Eighteenth-Century France.
Kenneth Loiselle, PhD, is an Associate Professor of history and international studies at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX. Prof. Loiselle's research focuses on the relationship between the Enlightenment and the political revolutions that unfolded during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the history of friendship and private life, and French colonialism in the Americas. He is presently conducting research on a book co-authored with Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire on Old Regime Freemasonry.

Karen Kidd will speak on Co-Freemasonry in North America: its beginnings in Pennsylvania, history and contemporary practice, and its relationship to Male-craft and Female-craft Freemasonry.
Karen Kidd is the sitting Right Worshipful Master of Shemesh Lodge No. 13 under the Honorable Order of American Co-Masonry and an internationally recognized author on the history of Co-Freemasonry in America. Her published works include On Holy Groud: A History of the Honorable Order of American Co-Masonry and Haunted Chambers: the Lives of Early Women Freemasons. She has also published articles in Heredom, the Transactions of the Scottish Rite Research Society.

Pre-registration is required! To pre-register, please send your name, address, Lodge number and telephone by e-mail to: AMKSecretary@pagrandlodge.org

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Sad Circumstance

I received the following heartbreaking letter today:

Mr. Hodapp, 
My name is A. B., and I recently started reading your book, "Freemasons for Dummies". Unfortunately, I haven't gotten very far in the book, for a rather sad reason. 
Since several of my family members have been Masons and also Shriners, I was interested in possibly joining my local lodge here in ________. 
Per the information I was given at a public Shriner's event, I attended my first Masonic meeting about a month ago in order to find out more information about the organization. At the meeting, I asked if the fact that I have a physical disability would preclude me from joining the organization, and was told that it was a matter to be discussed in private.  
Approximately ten days passed, and I received a phone call from the Worshipful Master of the Lodge, who wanted to meet with me to discuss my admittance. The Worshipful Master was very kind, and we talked for several hours about many different topics. However, at the end of our meeting, I was informed that I would not be able to join the organization. Although very few specifics were offered, I was told that there were components to the initiation ceremony that I would not be able to do, and that, by order of the Grand Lodge, no exception or allowance could be made. The Worshipful Master said that there was wording actually written into the constitution of the organization which in some way precluded my admittance, but I wasn't given very much information. Apparently, the Worshipful Master had contacted the Grand Lodge in __________; he said he attempted to go before Jurisprudence, and finally met with the master of the lodge, and was told to drop the issue, and that I could not be admitted. 
Disgusted, I sent a lengthy email to the Grand Lodge, stating the situation. No reply has been provided. 
From what I've read in your book, it sounds as though the decision of the Grand Lodge is entirely final and binding within the state where that lodge has jurisdiction. So, it would appear that I am barred from joining any lodge in the state of _________ because of a physical disability.However, according to many other informational sources I have found, exceptions are often made for individuals with various physical disabilities and other conditions. 
My question for you is this: Do I have any other recourse in my situation, given the answer I was given by the local Worshipful Master and his conversation with the Grand Lodge of _________? It seems very strange to me and also short-sighted for an organization that prides itself on being of the utmost moral and ethical character to behave in such a discriminatory manner, especially without even providing me with concrete facts relating to the decision. At no time was I asked questions about the specifics of my disability; I was simply dismissed from consideration and told I could not join.Do you happen to know of anything in the Masonic constitution or charter that would preclude someone with a physical disability from being accepted into the order? I find it very hard to believe that my family, or any one else for that matter, would knowingly be a member of an organization that would be so callous. I should also mention that I meet all of the other stated requirements set forth both in your book and on the ________ website for admission. 
Any information you can give me would be very much appreciated. I have no desire to cause a problem for anyone or become a nuisance, but I do not feel that I've been treated fairly in this situation, and I would hate to think that something similar has happened to other good people.Thank you very much for your time and attention.
In Indiana we have a wonderful lodge called Bartimaeus Lodge U. D. that exists solely for the purpose of initiating, passing and raising men with disabilities that would normally preclude them from participating in the ceremonies of Masonry. Membership is drawn from existing Masons in the state, and the lodge has dispensation to assist any Indiana lodge with this situation. They have brought in men who are blind, confined to wheelchairs, and everything in between.

In fact, one of the most active and well known Indiana Masons is paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, and he was Master of his lodge a few years ago.

I know that many grand lodges have over the years held to a doctrine of physical perfection (Indiana actually had a law until the 1970s that any man with a truss was ineligible for the degrees of Masonry). But with the passage of time and modern day awareness of people with disabilities, I would think grand lodges would relax this requirement. It seems tragic to turn away an excited man who has a family history with the fraternity because he can't kneel or walk a floor with squared corners. Especially with so many wounded veterans in this country. Can't we come up to date, brethren?


I just got off the phone with the Grand Master of the state in question, and he said they make all sorts of accommodations for physical disabilities. Apparently the gentleman in question was extremely vitriolic with the Master and the grand lodge office, and was not the sort of man that would make a good Mason. Apparently he was nice to me, but not so nice to those involved.

The man was upset. The Master was misinformed and told the man that no accommodation could be made. The man erupted and was scathing in his correspondence to Grand Lodge. It was decided that he was too much of a hothead to pursue this any farther. The Grand Master said his letter to him would have had him up on charges, had he been a Mason.

These days when everyone seems to be on the eternal lookout for reasons to be offended by others, sometimes "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves..."

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Masonic Awareness At The Speed of Light New Address

Masonic Awareness at the Speed of Light has a new web address. Click here for an incredible array of Masonic education lectures.  The Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry 2011 Lecture Series was a free presentation by the Grand Lodge of Indiana F&AM, beginning January 1, 2011 and running through December 31, 2011, with the forum’s “Intenders” presenting the story of the fraternity since 287 AD to present. It is the world's first exclusive Masonic video library with almost 60 different lectures.

This was a labor of love by Indiana Freemason Al McClelland, and he did a masterful job of assembling the greatest Masonic scholars alive to present their papers. Give it a look. You're bound to find something to interest you.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Speaking in Louisville Next Week

I will be speaking in Louisville, KY on Thursday, August 20th at Buechel Lodge No. 896. This will be their Past Masters night and will meet at the new Kosair Shrine Center, with dinner at 6:30PM and my talk at 7:30. I will be speaking on the Masonic origins and misconceptions of Washington DC. I'm looking forward to being there. The Shrine is located at 4120 Bardstown Road in Louisville.

The next week, I am traveling to Cleveland, Ohio to go to the Cleveland Clinic for three days to see if their doctors can determine why my back hurts all the time, and why I pace the living room for twelve hours a day.  After four years, no one has been able to figure this out, so fingers crossed.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Shrine Outlaws Confederate Battle Flag

The Shrine has outlawed the Confederate battle flag in its parades and events:

Special Order No. 4
Series 2015-2016
To the Potentates, Officers and Members of Shriners International, fraternal greetings: Attention has been drawn to the political debate over the Confederate Battle Flag in the wake of the recent incident in Charleston, SC. As a result, in my opinion, as Imperial Potentate, I believe it is in the best interest of the Order and the Nobility that no temple, unit, club or member of Shriners International shall display in any form the Confederate Battle Flag or any image that reasonably can be construed as a reference to the Confederate Battle Flag.
Under the circumstances, it is my opinion, as the Imperial Potentate of Shriners International, that the following order with respect to the Potentates, Officers and Members of Shriners International should be, and hereby is issued.
Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by § 206.5(a) (1) and (5) of the bylaws of Shriners International, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
No Noble (in his capacity as a member of Shriners International) or club, unit, organization of Nobles or affiliated or appendant organizations of Shriners International, shall display any Confederate Battle Flag or any image that reasonably can be construed as a reference to the Confederate Battle Flag in Shrine or Civic Parades, Temple activities or in Shrine or non-Shrine public appearances.
No Noble (in his capacity as a member of Shriners International) or club, unit, organization of Nobles or affiliated or appendant organizations of Shriners International, shall participate in non-Shrine public appearances in which a Confederate Battle Flag or any image that reasonably can be construed as a reference to the Confederate Battle Flag is expected to be displayed by the organizer, promoter or by those in control of the premises or facility of the non-Shrine event.
Dated this 10th day of August, 2015
Jerry G. Gantt, Imperial Potentate
ATTEST: Jack H. Jones, Imperial Recorder

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Duane Vaught Elected Grand Master of Knights Templar

My friend and brother Sir Knight Duane Lee Vaught, PGC, PGM, has been elected as Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United Stated of America. Congratulations on such an historic moment for Duane and for all Sir Knights in Indiana! I'm looking forward to a great three years in Templary.

Mark Koltko-Rivera Speaking in NYC Aug. 23rd

Mark E. Koltko-RiveraIf you are in the New York City area, come out and see my friend and Brother Mark Koltko-Rivera at the Museum of Interesting Things on Sunday, August 23rd at 4:00PM, at the Prince Street Loft. The topic will be "Freemasonry in 19th Century New York: A True Story of Murder and Resurrection." Please note that seating is quite limited and that advance tickets are a must.
Come and explore the history of Freemasonry with the New York 19th Century Society! From mysterious origins to current practice, the speaker Dr. Mark Kotlko-Rivera will discuss the origins and activities of the ancient order of Freemasons, commonly know as the Masons. PLUS FREE admission to the Secret Speakeasy immediately following, where you can see and handle real Masonic antiques and artifacts and enjoy lively discussion over drinks with fellow 19th-century enthusiasts!
The world’s oldest and largest fraternal organization, the Freemasons entered the world of nineeteenth-century New York as a respected group that claimed many civic, religious, and political leaders among its numbers. By the late 1820s, Freemasonry was in tatters, under accusations of having committed ritual murder in an upstate community, and it became the focus of the first single-issue political party in American history, the Anti-Masonic Party. Hounded almost to extinction, Masons regrouped in the 1840s, and began a rise to national prominence resulting in the Age of Fraternalism later in the century, when thousands of Masons marched publicly on the streets of Manhattan at regular intervals, and Masons publicly dedicated the Statue of Liberty and Cleopatra’s Needle. Yet by the end of the century, the seeds had been sown for the rumors that plague Freemasonry to this day: accusations of devil worship and attempts at world domination.

Dr. Mark Koltko-Rivera will go behind the events to explain the forces behind Masonry’s expansion, persecution, and triumph, in 19th century New York. Dr. Koltko-Rivera holds a doctoral degree in psychology from NYU. The author of Freemasonry: An Introduction (Tarcher/Penguin, 2011), he is a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Freemason and a Masonic Knight Templar. He has appeared as an authority about Freemasonry on such television shows as Hunting the Lost Symbol, America’s Book of Secrets, Brad Melzer’s Decoded, and Ancient Aliens.

All proceeds benefit the New York 19th Century Society, a non-profit organization that promotes the study and understanding of life in 19th-century New York City through participatory workshops for the public.

Buy your tickets at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2135482

Event takes place at The Museum of Interesting Things
Secret Speakeasy
177 Prince Str 3rd flr NYC (between Thompson & Sullivan streets)

All tickets also include free entry to the Secret Speakeasy at 6pm
Tickets $15 in advance & $20 at the door

Friday, August 07, 2015

2016 Prestonian Lecturer Coming to the US in January

According to my friend and Brother Dr. Brent Morris, Dr. Richard Berman, will be the 2016 Prestonian Lecturer from Britain. He will arrive in Atlanta for the American History Association’s annual meeting on January 5th or 6th and will give a paper to them on Friday, January 8. He would be happy to speak at US lodges while he’s here. This is a unique opportunity for you to arrange a visit to hear an outstanding, world-class speaker on Freemasonry.

If you are interested, you should contact Bro. Ric directly at rab@sabrecorp.com and see how your dates fit into his schedule. Your costs would include airfare for him to travel to your lodge and return to an international airport, lodging for when he’s with you, and an honorarium would be nice (Ric says he doesn’t need one, but he IS the Prestonian Lecturer). All Prestonian Lecturers sell copies of their lecture to raise funds for their designated charity, and thus he would want to sell (and sign!) books at your venue.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

George Washington Masonic Memorial Named National Landmark

The federal government named Alexandria’s George Washington Masonic National Memorial a national landmark today.
Here’s what the National Park Service and Interior Department had to say about it, from the news release issued today:
Towering over the first president’s hometown of Alexandria, the George Washington Masonic Lodge National Memorial is a prominent feature of the Washington, D.C. area skyline.
Today, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis announced the memorial as one of four newly designated national historic landmarks. The designation recognizes sites that possess exceptional value and quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.
“Though very different from one another, these places reflect the creatively and ingenuity of the American spirit,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “National historic landmarks are an example of how the mission of the National Park Service extends beyond park boundaries to recognize additional places of national significance in communities throughout the country.”
In naming the Masonic Temple as a national landmark, the government said:
The George Washington Masonic National Memorial stands among the most architecturally significant projects to honor George Washington and one of the boldest private efforts to memorialize him. The Grand Lodges of the states and territories, which usually operate independently, joined forces to build this national memorial. This eclectic building combines neoclassical architecture common to American memorials and civic buildings with a modern skyscraper design.

See story here.

Today G. Washington Became A Master Mason

On this day in 1753, George Washington became a Master Mason, the highest rank in Freemasonry. His promotion occurred at the Masonic lodge in his hometown of Fredericksburg, Virginia. He was 21 at the time, awaiting his first military commission.

Derived from practices and rituals in the medieval guild system, freemasonry gained popularity in the 18th century, especially in Britain. British Masons organized their first North American chapter in 1731 in Pennsylvania. Members are required to express their belief in a supreme being and in the immortality of the soul. Masons are also expected to obey civil laws, hold to high moral standards and contribute to charities.
For Washington, joining the Masons served a rite of passage and a reflection of his dedication to civic responsibility.

After the American Revolution, some Masons floated the notion of organizing a “Grand Lodge of the United States,” with Washington becoming its first grand master. But the idea never gained traction. Soon, independent grand lodges formed themselves within each state.

Because of their mysterious rites and closely held secrets, Masons aroused suspicion in the young republic that Washington led.

After Washington’s death in 1799, the renamed Alexandria-Washington Lodge became the repository of many of his artifacts. The lodge rooms, however, proved inadequate for the display and storage of the former president’s memorabilia. A fire in the lodge in 1871 destroyed many of the items.

In 1922, ground was broken in Alexandria, Virginia, for a masonic memorial to Washington. The 36-acre site was chosen because it followed a tradition to locate masonic temples on hilltops. It was situated on land that Thomas Jefferson once proposed as the ideal site for the nation’s capital.

Work on the nine-story George Washington Masonic National Memorial was completed in 1970. It is open to the public.