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


Friday, September 30, 2016

UGLE Charters St. Hubertus Lodge 9934 for Hunters

Since I'm catching up on English Masonic stories this week, I'll pass this one along, too. On the heels of the news a few days ago about UGLE's new "boating" lodge comes another affinity lodge - this time, for hunters and other lovers of the great outdoors. 

From a story on the Yorkshire Evening Post website:

A new lodge for lovers of country pursuits is set to be launched during a ceremony at Castle Grove Masonic Hall in Headingley on November 3. 
St Hubertus Lodge is thought to be the first new lodge to be launched in West Yorkshire since October 2013, when the Bradfordians Lodge was started for Freemasons connected with Bradford Grammar School. 
Named after the patron saint of hunters, the event will see Freemasons from all over the country travelling to Leeds to attend the consecration ceremony. 
St Huberts lodge will move around the country and hold its ceremonies in the afternoon, giving the members chance to travel to and from the meeting. The new lodge is the brainchild of Craig Kidd, a paramedic from Kellington near Knottingley, who is a qualified deer manager and stalker and a Mason of 19 years. 
Mr Kidd said: “St Hubertus is a lodge for those who love all types of country pursuits, be it shooting, fishing, horse riding, rambling, deer stalking or bird watching.” He added: “We already have 59 founders and seven joining members from all over the country, and it will be my honour and privilege to be its first Master.
November 3rd is actually the traditional feast day of the Christian Saint Hubertus, the patron saint of hunting.

(It would probably at this moment be prudent to mention that this new lodge has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with the group that US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was a member of, with whom he was participating when he died in February, outside of sharing inspiration from the saint. The different International Order of St. Hubertus is actually an Austrian fraternal hunting society that dates back to the 1600s. Its American chapter was started at none other than San Francisco's infamous Bohemian Club, the very same founders of the even more infamous Bohemian Grove - which of course makes it conspiracy fodder for the perennially nervous. )

The website for St. Hubertus Lodge No. 9934 is HERE. From their own description:
Saint Hubertus or Hubert (c. 656–727 A.D.) became Bishop of Liège in 708 A.D. He was a Christian saint who was the patron saint of hunters, also of mathematicians, opticians, and metalworkers. Known as the Apostle of the Ardennes, he was called upon, until the early 20th century, to cure rabies through the use of the traditional St Hubert's Key.
Saint Hubertus was widely venerated during the Middle Ages. The iconography of his legend is entangled with the legend of Saint Eustace. The Bollandists published seven early lives of Hubertus (Acta Sanctorum, November, 759–930 A.D) the first of these was the work of a contemporary, though it is very sparing of details.
He died 30 May 727 A.D. in Tervuren near Brussels, Belgium. 
Themed lodges have been proven to have a very high success rate as members have a common interest as well as Freemasonry. This new lodge will hopefully create an interest not only within the new membership but with candidates that wish to become freemasons and that also wish to get more out of Freemasonry especially with meeting up with friends outside of lodge time. The sports of Hunting, shooting & fishing are quite often enjoyed more in a small or large group which can only be good for Freemasonry in general and the sports that we all enjoy. 
To be a joining member you must have an interest in Shooting or Fishing. You must also have been initiated in a recognised U.G.L.E Lodge. A clearance certificate will be required from any current or past lodge’s.
New Candidates for initiation will have to conform to the requirements of being a Freemason as well as have an interest in Hunting, Shooting or fishing. St Hubertus will be a traveling or peripatetic lodge, this is one that is not fixed to any particular Masonic Hall, meetings are held by dispensation and can be held at any Masonic Hall or suitable meeting place. This means we can incorporate our hobbies even more. For example there is a Masonic Hall at Bisley which is the National Rifle Associations shooting ground where the Olympic teams train.
Venues for meetings will be chosen by the Worshipful Master and then submitted to the Officers and brethren for approval, it would be enjoyable to eventually go to every Masonic Hall that a member currently belongs.

London Mayor Stops Plan to Register City's Freemason Police Officers

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has squashed an attempt to require the city's Metropolitan Police Department (Met) officers to publicly declare their Masonic membership, pointing out that such a register would be illegal. Earlier stabs at this pointless exercise in Europe were eliminated in 2009 in the wake of a successful suit brought in the European Court of Human Rights by Italian Masons fighting a similar regulation. UGLE threatened a similar action and the Home Office scrapped its registration requirement of Masons in police departments and the judiciary six years ago.

Nevertheless, this "issue" keeps raising its head now and then in Britain. And, naturally, the press is right on the scent to keep it alive. Note the multiple swipes from The Independent on Tuesday.
The mayor’s statement comes despite the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) revealing that it is now investigating whether Freemasonry played a part in South Yorkshire Police’s handling of the Hillsborough stadium disaster and subsequent cover-up. 
Mr Khan ruled out a compulsory register of Freemasonry in the Met, the largest police force in the country, after Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the London Assembly, asked him to consider such a move in the light of the Hillsborough investigation, “to improve public confidence”. 
In his written response, Mr Khan said: “The Met is bound by the legislation of the Police Regulations Act 2003 which states that no restrictions other than those designed to secure the proper exercise of the functions of a constable shall be imposed on the private life of members of a police force.”

Criticising Mr Khan’s response, Ms Pidgeon told The Independent: “It is long overdue that police officers routinely declared that they were Freemasons.   Public confidence could only be improved through routine publication of such information.”
Currently the 31,000 officers in the Met are only required to declare associations with people who have the potential to conflict with their duties as a police officer.  They do not automatically have to declare membership of Freemasonry.
The Met does not collect information about how many officers are Masons and has never banned officers from joining the all-male fraternity, despite long-held fears that its ideals of mutual help could be twisted into collusion between police and criminals.
In 2014 Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howesaid human rights law made a compulsory register difficult, but added: “For me as a police officer the secrecy of membership is a concern.  I think police officers should be transparent: nothing to hide, then why not mention it?  My view would be that you ought to be open about your associations.”

Check out the whole article for the full-on effect of Adam Lusher's reportage. Even the article's title screams with indignation: "Sadiq Kahn refuses to make London police declare if they are Freemasons after Hillsborough questions raised." He goes back more than four decades and even farther to rattle old bones, with never any definitive proof of any actual wrongdoing by Freemasons as a group in police forces around the country. He seems to be auditioning for Martin Short's old job in England as the fraternity's chief accuser, especially as UGLE's 300th anniversary celebrations vie for more press coverage in the coming months. No doubt the Beeb will be calling him soon for his "insights."

Lusher (right) has now penned two smearing articles about Freemasons for The Independent in the last two months (HERE's the earlier one), so he now seems to be their official staff conspiracist. (In fact, as with the earlier story, the site has again included "conspiracy theories" in this one's hyperlink address.)

So if my English brethren see him trawling around Great Queen Street sniffing around for a quote, or to cover a Tercentenary event, you might just wish him a nice day and keep walking. He's not exactly what one would call a neutral observer.

Duke of Kent Opens New Freemason Exhibit in London

On Thursday, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, the 10th Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, officially opened a new gallery of artifacts and artwork dedicated to 'Three Centuries of English Freemasonry.'

A brief video about the opening from London Live features Diane Clements, Director of the Library and Museum of Freemasonry at the London headquarters on Great Queen Street.

Zimbio has a series of photos of the occasion HERE.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

UGLE Charters Boating Lodge: Spinnaker #9932

The concept of special interest or affinity lodges has never really caught on in the U.S., but more and more of them have been appearing throughout England. It was announced last week that the United Grand Lodge of England has recently chartered Spinnaker Lodge No. 9932 on the Isle of Wight, especially geared for area Masons interested in boating.

From the Yachting and Boating World website on 9/23:
Spinnaker Lodge, the first ‘boating lodge’ in the country for freemasons, will be launched later this year. 
This is one of many new special interest lodges in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight dedicated to a variety of subjects, from football and rugby through to scouting and motorcycling. 
This allows members to combine their love of a particular sport or activity with their masonic activities; self-development, raising money for charity and supporting the local community. 
There are more than 9,000 masons in Hampshire and Isle of Wight, many of whom either own their own boat or crew on a regular basis. 
The founding Master of the new Spinnaker Lodge, Frank Milner, is the proud owner of a Moody 27 and is looking forward to recruiting new crew members and receiving advice and help with projects from fellow boating enthusiasts.Spinnaker Lodge meetings will be held on a regular basis in spring and late summer at various masonic centres around the Solent, all of which are close to marinas. 
Members will arrive by boat, enjoy a pontoon party in the afternoon before attending the lodge meeting in the evening. 

This will followed by a meal or other social event, when wives and partners can also join in the festivities. 
Founder member Chris Waight, who owns Vulnerable, a Fairline Targa 47, sums up his thoughts on the new lodge. 
“I’ve been a freemason for over 20 years and really enjoy and value the friendships I’ve made in that time,” he said. 
“Joining the new Spinnaker Lodge will give me a great opportunity to meet up with other freemasons who like me, enjoy boating,” concluded Waight. 
The new lodge will be encouraging both existing and new members who are interested in yachting and motor boating, to meet, talk about all things boating and share experiences and knowledge with each other.
According to their Facebook page, the lodge will officially be consecrated November 4th at the Southampton Novotel. Their first meeting as a lodge will be in January 2017 at the Royal Naval and Royal Albert Yacht Club in Pembroke Road, Portsmouth. Summer meetings will be held at Cowes, Lymington and Southampton. These will be 'sail to' events, with evening events for all including non-Masons, guests and partners.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Br. Arnold Palmer Passes

2016 continues to be a dreadful year of ceaseless losses of famous personalities from my own childhood. Word has come late yesterday that golf legend, Brother Arnold Palmer has passed to the Celestial Lodge at the age of 87. He was a longtime member of Loyalhanna Lodge No. 275 in his hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and a 33° Scottish Rite Mason. According to a statement from his company, he died Sunday evening at a Pittsburgh hospital while awaiting cardiac surgery.

Brother Palmer was one of the first true celebrity golfers, known all over the world. Long before Tiger Woods, there was Arnold Palmer. He learned to play at the age of 4, and started his professional career in 1954. Throughout his lifetime, he would win 90 championships, and had his own platoon of dedicated fans nicknamed "Arnie's Army," who followed him from one course to the other to watch him play, and made the televised game of golf a popular programming choice in the 1960s. He was the first golfer to earn over $1 million playing the game. It's arguable that he was largely responsible for the popularity of golf for the last half century.

In 1997 when Palmer was made a 33° Mason in the NMJ, C. Fred Kleinknecht, 
then Sovereign Grand Commander of the AASR Southern Jurisdiction, penned a tribute to him. Read it here.

Well done, good and faithful servant.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Simon LaPlace Named New MSA Excutive Secretary

The Masonic Service Association of North America has officially announced that my friend Simon R. LaPlace, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut in 2013, has just been named as the new Executive Secretary of MSA. Simon is succeeding George O. Braatz, who is retiring after five years of service.

George will stay in his position through the end of the year.

Congratulations, Brother Simon!

Historic Masonic Documents Online

An expanding collection of historic Masonic documents and artifacts from the Scottish Rite's founding and development has recently been made available online by the dedicated folks at the Scottish Rite NMJ's  Van Gorden-Williams Library in Lexington, Massachusetts.  This message came today from the Library and Museum's Director, Jeff Croteau:
The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is happy to announce the newly launched Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Digital Collections website, which makes available some of the riches of the Library & Archives collection. The site currently includes 500 documents from the archives collection and continues to grow. Among the items that have been digitized so far are a large variety of Masonic certificates, a number of founding documents of the Scottish Rite, a selection of early 20th-century postcard views of Scottish Rite buildings throughout the United States, and the G. Edward Elwell, Jr. Autograph Collection of documents signed by well-known figures from American and European history. The site also provides access to a variety of other digitized materials reflective of the depth and breadth of the Library & Archives collection. 
Established in 1975 by the Scottish Rite Freemasons of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library tells the story of Freemasonry and fraternalism in the context of American history. Unique in the nation, the Museum aims to be the “historical society” of American Freemasonry by collecting, preserving, interpreting, and celebrating the history of fraternalism. We pay special attention to the history of the Scottish Rite and strive to serve the Masonic community.
We hope that you’ll explore the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Digital Collections website and take a look at the many wonderful documents that the Library & Archives preserves and makes accessible through the generosity of the Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, NMJ, USA, and its members. Let us know what you think. We are always happy to receive feedback from users. You can e-mail us at library@srmml.org.

To access the collection click HERE. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

UGLE Issues New Social Media Policy

The United Grand Lodge of England has issued new social media policies for their members who are readily identifiable online as Freemasons, whether posting on Masonic or non-Masonic pages and sites. 

Their longstanding Rule 179 states that a Freemason "has a duty not to engage in activity which may bring Freemasonry into disrepute." The new policy is a clarification of that wording and attempts to define just what that means in a world now dominated by Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, along with older Internet technology and platforms.

To read them in their entirety, click the below images to enlarge.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

NYC Bomb Close to GL of New York Masonic Hall

A quick comparison of maps of the New York City neighborhood of Chelsea where last night's explosion and subsequent second device were found shows that the Grand Lodge of New York's majestic Masonic Hall appears to be about a half block from the first explosion site.  Early news reports incorrectly showed the bomb that exploded was on the corner of 6th Avenue and West 23rd Street. The GL building is at 71 W. 23rd, directly across the street. One channel's site showed it directly in front of the building. 

The actual site of the explosion was in front of the Center for the Blind's residential apartments at 135 W. 23rd. The explosion happened at around 8:30PM.

A second device was found several blocks away at 27th Street, between 6th and 7th. It was defused by the NYPD Bomb Squad. It appeared to be constructed from a pressure cooker.

Approximately 29 people were injured by the blast, one seriously, and there were extensive reports of shattered windows throughout the area, as well as in passing cars unlucky enough to be directly in front of the bomb. 

However, messages this morning do not seem to indicate any Brethren were injured or killed, nor was there any damage to the Masonic Hall. For that, at least, we can be thankful. It was a crowded Saturday night in the popular NYC neighborhood, and directly in front of a blind center and St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church (although, the 170 year old parish was closed several years ago, despite major efforts to save it by area residents). The effects of this blast could have been far, far worse.

The photo below gives you some idea of just how close this was to the GL of NY. In the center is the St. Vincent de Paul Church, and on the right side of the frame is the Masonic Hall. The blind center residence is to the left.

Unbelievably, shortly after the bomb detonation in New York, another explosion was reported last night in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia just off of the pedestrian mall. It occurred at 3rd and Water Streets, just two blocks from Widow's Son Lodge No. 60's temple. Fortunately, authorities there have preliminarily determined it to have been an underground transformer explosion, and not related to anything nefarious.

Things were already on edge Saturday. Earlier in the day, a pipe bomb exploded in a trash can in Seaside Park, New Jersey at the site of a Marine Corps charity run. Similar to the New York incident, two more unexploded devices were located by authorities and defused. Registration for the Seaside Semper Five race was slower than anticipated, which delayed the start of the race. As a result, no runners were passing by the bomb at the time it exploded, and there were fortunately no injuries.

Brother Angel Millar passed along this photo from Sunday morning and reports that 23rd Street and 6th Avenue around the Grand Lodge are blocked to traffic, and police are still in the location. I also understand there are two parades scheduled in the city, and the President is traveling to the United Nations. So, chaos in the NYC area will be worse than the average Sunday. I suspect if you have a lodge or appendant body meeting on Monday at the GL building, you should call tomorrow just to make sure you can even get there or that the building is even open.

Brother Mark Koltko-Rivera passed this photo along with this message:
Another picture, this one from the website of The Daily Beast. The bomb went off between 500 and 600 feet west of Masonic Hall. In the photo, you see investigators at the actual intersection of 6th Ave. and 23rd Street, over 400 feet away from the blast. If you look on the upper margin towards the left, you see the bottom of the huge blue flag (with the words "New York" visible; the words "Grand Lodge" and the S&C are in gold, out of frame) that flies at the main entrance.


 At of Sunday afternoon, there is absolutely NO indication that Masons or any lodge buildings were targeted in these incidents. I'm simply noting the close proximity of the explosions to lodge locations, as well as responding to messages of alarm from concerned Masons who are familiar with the areas involved. After the incident in Milwaukee earlier this year, security has been stepped up in many lodge buildings, especially larger ones. New York has certainly done so. But it pays to be aware. 

It's worth mentioning that none of these incidents have been linked to radical Islamic or Jihadist activity as of this moment, and it is likely in the New York situation that the bomber was completely unaware of the location of the nearby Grand Lodge. I am certainly not making such a link. Had he been motivated by Islamic fundamentalism, he undoubtedly would have placed it right in front of the Masonic Hall. 

As Brother Millar reminded me today, anti-Masonic language is common in many parts of the Islamic world, such as the Hamas Charter, Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education curriculum, Jihadist propaganda circulated by ISIS and al-Queda, and even mainstream Arab world publications. Yet, so many Western analysts who purport to be experts in terrorism are all too often totally ignorant of the anti-Masonic undercurrents in so much Islamist media. Masons are frequently linked with Zionism, principally because of our Old Testament symbolism. And our religious toleration is simply not to be tolerated. And so it continues.

Fortunately, in this weekend's incidents, we don't seem to have been in anyone's sights.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

SRICF Indiana College: A Transition

The Autumnal Equinox meeting of the Indiana College of the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis was held this evening, and it was outstanding on all fronts. Our new Chief Adept Roger S. Van Gorden IX° officially presided over his first meeting, and as transitions go, it couldn't have been more spectacular - for both planned and unplanned reasons.

Due to a catastrophic flood that damaged the downstairs of the Murat Shrine earlier in the summer, our traditional meeting room was unavailable. As a result of a chain of events in scheduling, the majestic ballroom of the Scottish Rite Cathedral became available for us. So the location was perfect.

Roger and the incredibly talented John Bridegroom VII° spent the summer designing a series of appropriate symbolic banners for the room, and they helped to provide a whole new feel to the gathering.

The indefatigable Mike Brumback IX° started us down the path during his time as Chief Adept transitioning the College from just a bi-annual supper club that was started for former Grand Masters and Scottish Rite officers into a true Rosicrucian organization that actually exemplifies grades and hosts guest speakers.  Consequently, Roger's talk with us was to reaffirm that program, as well as to set the stage for a greater future concentration on the actual stated goal of the Society:
"The aim of the Society is to afford mutual aid and encouragement in working out the great problems of Life; and in searching out the secrets of Nature; to facilitate the study of the system of Philosophy founded upon the Kaballah and the doctrine of Hermes Trismegitus, which was inculcated by the original Fratres Rosae Crucis, A.D. 1450; and to investigate the meaning and symbolism of all which now remains of the wisdom, art, and literature of the ancient world."
It's probably too much to wish for that we'll be able to stay in the Scottish Rite ballroom in future, but it was certainly a perfect setting to set off on a new voyage for us all.

French author and aviator (and Freemason in the Grand Orient) Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince, once wrote “If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood, and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

Just a reminder to all SRICF members to be sure you have made reservations for the High Council annual meeting in Louisville November 4th and 5th at the Brown Hotel.  If you haven't, the program and reservation forms are HERE.

Hope to see all of you in November.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Masonry on TV: 'Queen Sugar'

A Brother just wrote this afternoon to let me know about an episode of Queen Sugar on Oprah Winfrey's OWN network that just recently aired. The episode is entitled "Evergreen," and is the second in the series. According to him, near the end of the show, a funeral takes place, and it depicted a Masonic funeral service, with the Brethren acting as pall bearers. He added that it was "well done," and several viewers remarked online that it was sensitively and accurately portrayed.

The drama is created, directed and executive produced by Ava DuVernay and based on a book by Natalie Baszile. The story is set in the fictional town of Saint Josephine, Louisiana. It tells the saga of three estranged adult siblings and their struggles to run a sugar cane farm in the South, inherited after the death of their father, Ernest Bordelon.

The "Evergreen" episode centers around the funeral for their father in which the Masonic service takes place. The title was derived from the sprig placed on the deceased Brother's coffin during the ceremony.

(Thanks to Peter Pendergast for alerting me, and to Mark Leo for sending the image.)

UPDATE: 11/20/2016

I just watched the episode of this show on demand tonight after stumbling across it by accident. What was especially interesting concerning the Masonic service as it was portrayed was that it was not billboarded or made a big deal out of. The actual gravesite service was already underway when the scene began, and it was treated as simply being a natural addition to the remembrance of a deceased Brother. 

The assembled brethren were dressed in their black suits, aprons, officers' jewels, and white gloves, and the Master and Senior Warden read their parts. A S&C was prominently displayed as an ornament on the Master's book. As it progressed, the Master explained the purpose of the evergreen as a Masonic symbol, and then they all placed their sprigs on the closed coffin lid. 

As was observed by others who saw this episode before I did, the scene was very respectfully and accurately presented. I noted that those portraying the Masons were not given screen credit, which makes me wonder a bit if they were actually local Louisiana Prince Hall Freemasons hired by the production company for the scene. Even the detail of brethren squaring their movements were shown, which lends credence to my feeling that at least one real Mason was involved in staging this scene, even if only as an advisor.

In any case, the writers and producers deserve great credit for including this small sequence and for using it to demonstrate the importance of fraternalism and tradition in the lives of many men, even in these cynical times. Nicely done.

Meriden, CT Temple Goes On the Block

The Meriden Masonic Temple in Meriden, Connecticut has just been put on the market.

From the myrecordjournal.com website today:
The Masonic temple on East Main Street is listed for sale and the lodges that occupy the space are trying to relocate to a smaller location in the city. 
Tom Gondek, president of the Meriden Masonic Temple Foundation, said although the 20,250-square-foot temple fulfills the needs of Center Lodge 97 and Meridian Lodge 77, membership can no longer sustain the cost of occupying the space.
“It can house a lot of people. The problem is a lot of people aren’t coming,” Gondek said. “The donations that we use to support the building aren’t nearly enough... It takes about $120,000 a year to run that building and we are probably in a shortfall of $35,000 to $40,000 a year.”
The three-story building was constructed in 1927 specifically for use as a Masonic Temple.
The Temple is home to  Meridian Lodge 77 (yes, I know, different spelling), Center Lodge 97, the Meriden Masonic History Museum,  and several appendant bodies.

Tom Accuosti brought up a program proposed by then Grand Master Simon LaPlace of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut back in April 2014, called Building & Organization Allied Sponsorship (BOAS) to create partnerships with private businesses specifically to find a way to save these irreplaceable buildings. Unfortunately, the plan vanished after Simon left office. That alone is a tragic enough comment. 

'Masonic' Pot?

Folks find "Masonic" symbolism in the damndest places sometimes. 

Brother Glen Stine sent the following message yesterday:
Interesting choice for a logo by an Illinois cannabis grower.
Ataraxia in Albion, Il. sells pot under the name 'Gold Leaf.'
Shown in the pic is their G6 strain. Seems sativas get an up arrow, indica a down arrow, and hybrids get both in the form of a square/compass.

The Catholic Church and Freemasonry

Back in 2009, Gate City Lodge 2 in Atlanta, Georgia held an outstanding series of lectures on the overall topic of Religion and Culture, which explored a wide variety of religious topics throughout the year. 

One of the presentations was "The Historical Relationship Between the Catholic Church and Freemasons: Why Roman Catholics are prohibited by the Church from becoming Freemasons,"  by Rev. Mr. John  J. McManus, JD, JCL. McManus is an attorney, a Catholic Deacon, and a Canon Lawyer, which means he has, in his words, "a pontifical licentiate that allows me to practice as a lawyer in the Tribunals, or courts, of the Roman Catholic Church, and also to advise the Archbishop or others regarding canonical issues, or those issues related to the law of the Roman Catholic Church." So, it is his job to know the most current and definitive rules within the Church.

I received a message this week from someone searching for the most up to date information on the subject of Freemasonry and the current position of the Roman Catholic Church. This is a common question I get asked by lots of men, and I always refer them to this link.

McManus' presentation is lengthy and extremely detailed in its citing of Roman Catholic laws, rulings, papal pronouncements, and the most current official position of the Church on Catholicism and the Freemasons. He was not at Gate City Lodge to accuse, defame, defend, proselytize, or argue.  He simply laid out the current information as it stands, along with the historical trail of laws and rulings that led to the Church's current position since Vatican II, and the subsequent statements of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1983, led by then Cardinal Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI.

The complete paper can be read on the Gate City Lodge 2 website HERE.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Is the Official Date of Our Founding Wrong?

The joint Conference on the history of Freemasonry held by Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 and Queens’ College at the University of Cambridge in England concluded Sunday. The Conference was dedicated especially to the 300th anniversary of the founding of the first Grand Lodge of England in 1717.

Mark Tabbert reports that a paper was presented by Drs. Andrew Prescott and Susan Mitchell Sommers that, in his words, "conclusively proved that the Grand Lodge of England was NOT founded in 1717, but in 1721."

The researchers have apparently discovered detailed minutes pertaining to the creation of the Grand Lodge of of London and Westminster (precursor to the Grand Lodge of England, and finally the UGLE) in 1721 at the back of one of London's Lodge of Antiquity No. 2's minute books. The minutes of that gathering describe a large and well organized event. 

The Lodge of Antiquity is the descendant of the lodge that met at the Goose and Gridiron Ale-house in St. Paul's churchyard, and one of the four original founding lodges that formed the Grand Lodge.

In addition, the minutes apparently state that the founding Grand Master of the premier Grand Lodge of England was actually John Montagu, the 2nd Duke of Montagu, and not Antony Sayer, as was stated in Rev. Anderson's 1738 Constitutions. Montagu has long been known as the first member of the nobility to serve as Grand Master, in 1721. But this paper upsets a rather substantial applecart of accepted Masonic history.

These newly discovered documents reportedly eliminate Sayer, George Payne, and John Theophilus Desaguliers from the lineup of first successive grand masters, along with moving the official founding date of speculative Freemasonry forward by four years.  

There has always been very little written record of that early period, aside from Anderson's account. So this discovery is of major importance. 

At the very least, UGLE may have to move their big banquet next year forward by four years...

There were some 160 delegates and guests in attendance at the Conference from around the world. The papers presented will be published next year, and members of the Q.C. Correspondence Circle will be able to purchase the book from Lewis Masonic at a substantial discount.

UPDATE 9/15/16:

Prof. Prescott presented sort of a prequel to this paper earlier this year in Ontario -  Searching For the Apple Tree: What Happened in 1716? 

Some of my takeaways from  the Sankey Lecture: Apple Tree Tavern was established in 1728, not 1716. It just wasn't there. So, the first meeting described by Anderson in 1716 simply could not have happened then or in that way. But there's LOTS to digest, including the lives of men mentioned by Anderson in 1738. Prescott doesn't say Anderson simply "made it up," but that he was charged by the GL to piece together a founding story from the records available in 1738.

It's a fascinating presentation. It's about an hour long.

But then I went and looked at Pine's engraved lists of lodges. Pine's list of lodges as early as 1725 lists 8 active lodges (with two already notably missing numerically). By 1729, there are 12. While the dates and people and places probably were reverse-engineered by Anderson in 1738, there were nonetheless 8 years after Anderson's claim of GL's formal founding at least 8 active lodges working. SOMETHING was happening to spread them. And George Payne obviously held SOME kind of position of importance at the time of Anderson's first edition in 1723, because Payne was said to have drafted the regulations in the book.

So THIS first paper presents obviously way more questions than it answers. Once the more recent paper given last weekend can be read and considered with this earlier lecture, it will be interesting to see the whole picture it presents.

UPDATE 9/9/2017

The collected papers from the Conference are available in a 700+ page hardback edition as of Summer 2017 HERE:  REFLECTIONS ON 300 YEARS OF FREEMASONRY
Price is £22.50 (approximately US$ 29.73 plus shipping)

The complete list of papers is as follows:

• Illustrations of Masonry

Yasha Beresiner: 300 Years of Masonic Caricatures

Martin Cherry: Illustrations of Masonry: the frontispieces of the Books of Constitutions, 1723 to 1819

Richard Burch-Smith: Early Freemasonry in the British Colony of Demerary Essequibo 1813-1835

Michael Allan: Freemasonry in Mauritius

• Freemasonry in the Colonies

Diane Clements: Masonic Yearbooks and the development of Provincial Identity

Aubrey Newman: The Evolution of the Province and the Provincial Grand Lodge in English Freemasonry

Gerald Reilly: The Urbanisation of Harwich 1832-1914: The Role of Freemasons in Particular.

John Cooper III: Freemasonry and Nation-Building on the Pacific Coast: The California Experience

Aimee E. Newell: British Freemasonry Comes to the New World: The First Ten Years of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts

Mark Tabbert George Washington, General Grand Master of Freemasons in the United States of America...or not?

• Other Degrees in Freemasonry

John Acaster: The Royal Arch before the Union and its particular adoption among the Moderns

John Belton: My Brother - Just One More Degree?

Richard Gan: The Full Spectrum of Freemasonry

• Freemasonry in the USA

Richard Berman: The Social Origins of Freemasonry in the Deep South
Brian W Price: Prince Hall Masonry

Hilary Stelling : English Transfer-Printed Presentation Pitchers in New England Lodges

The Sun is Always at its Meridian

Kent Henderson: The Origins of Australian Freemasonry

Mike Kearsley: Masonry in New Zealand

Kenneth Marcus: A Brotherhood of Constitutions - South and Southern Africa 1811 - 2017

Tony Baker: Freemasonry in the Encyclopedia Britannica

Robert Cooper :The impact of the formation of the Grand Lodge of England on Freemasonry in Scotland

Barry Hoffbrand: Portrait of the first Noble Grand Masterimages of John, second Duke of Montagu

• Masonry in Asia, China, and India

Anthony Atkinson: 250 Years of Freemasonry in Asia

Lisa Hellman: The first lodge in China: an international hub in 18th century Canton
Roeinton Khambatta Close Encounters of Different Kinds

• Masonry in Italy, Russia and Turkey

Maxine Gilhuys and Lucio Artini: Tuscany at the beginning of the XVIII Century: the English Lodge in Florence

Antony Lentin: A masonic utopia in the Russia of Catherine the Great

Emanuela Locci: The first English Lodge in the Ottoman Empire. The Oriental Lodge No. 687

• Dukes and Kings

Paul Calderwood: Royal Connection in the Twentieth Century

John Wade: Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Rulers of the Craft

Andreas C. Rizopoulos: Focusing on less known aspects of the life of Augustus Duke of Sussex

• Anti-Masonry and Italy

David J Peck: 1940's - Hitler, the greatest threat to English Freemasonry

Fabio Venzi: Freemasonry and the Catholic Church

Demetrio Xoccato: Friendship and prejudice: the relations between the United Grand Lodge of England and the Grand Orient of Italy

• Red Aprons, Mathematics and War

Jonathan Dowson: Jerusalem Lodge No 197 ( f.1731)

Steven Smith: The early Eighteenth-century Masonic connections of Mathematical Instrumentmaker Jonathan Sisson (1692-1749)

Michael Beacham: Military visitors to Guernsey

Dr Brent Morris: The Impact of English Freemasonry on America and vice versa

Andreas Onnefors: The Freemasons' Magazine 1793-1798

Róbert Péter: Freemasonry in the eighteenth-century British press: unmapped sources and novel research methods

Susan Snell: The art of discovering Masonic history: how to find gems among the archives at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry

Jan Snoek: Preston's Harodim Lectures and the UGLE Craft Rituals

Susan Sommers and Andrew Prescott: James Anderson: a Child of His Times

Yoshio Washizu: English Freemasonry - A Product of Club Movement?

Professor Andrew Prescott: in association with Professor Susan Sommers Searching for the Apple Tree

Brother Stars in 'Sacred Steel Bikes' on Discovery

Brother Bill Beverly posted this image of the cast of Sacred Steel Bikes, a motorcycle-building program on the Discovery Channel. The gentleman on the left in the Templar Commandery-inspired apron is Jason Wilson. He also sports a prominent Masonic tattoo.

He is a Freemason in the Los Angeles area. On his Facebook page is a photo of him in his officer's collar.

From the Discovery.com website for the show:

Ten years ago, Jason started 'Douche LaRouche' to create an atmosphere to camaraderie for his fellow bike enthusiasts and best pals. In the past, Jason has used his skills as a premium craftsman to make parts behind the scenes for some of the biggest names in the motorcycle game. Jason is ready to take center state and leave his 9-5 behind once and for all.
But Jason has had theses dreams before - and failed. Consistently, he struggles to find the delicate balance of having fun with the LaRouche Crew and putting in the work to make a business grow. With a new shop and clubhouse and another shot at his dreams, Jason has rejuvenated his passion (and that of his fellow club members) to throw everything they've got into make Sacred Steel a sustainable future for them all. And to make 'Douche LaRouche' a club they can be proud of.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Arkansas: Floggings Continue, Yet Morale Doesn't Improve

(Please note: This story has been edited at 12:35PM on 9/12/16)

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, there was a stark difference between the way sailors were treated in the English Navy, versus the much, much smaller and newer American one. The upstart U.S. ship captains would treat their sailors well, share prizes of war among them as rewards, and earned the loyalty and dedication of their men. By contrast, English captains generally maintained discipline among their sailors by simply flogging them, often to death. Likewise, U.S. sailors were encouraged to know the craft of seamanship and actually learn how to chart their position at sea, whereas an English sailor who got caught trying to discover such information for himself would simply be hanged for knowing too much.

I thought about this dichotomy all week long.

I wish this hadn't been a slow news week around the Masonic world. I wish I could find another story to occupy space here this weekend. And I wish it didn't seem like I have unfairly singled out the Grand Lodge of Arkansas F&AM to spotlight over the last few weeks. I assure all of you, I have not. As I have said before, posting these stories brings me no happiness or sense of satisfaction.

But what has happened is that the cork has been taken out of the bottle and the genie has now escaped. When Arkansas tried to stamp out dissension in the ranks by forbidding electronic communication among their members about Masonic issues, and then actually charging and suspending or expelling their members for doing so, they didn't solve the very real problems that actually exist in their jurisdiction which have led to those messages and comments in the first place. As is almost always the case, attempts at a cover-up or censorship are usually far, far worse than a bad decision or simple misstep. So, now that Arkansas brethren have reached a breaking point with their leadership, the dam is breaking and the flood is starting.

In the last few days, I have received numerous entreaties from brethren within Arkansas to tell their stories, because their own brethren are forbidden to do so. I have permitted anonymous comments here because of the situation. If it was from just one crank or pest who clearly didn't play well with others or just had an axe to grind, that could be ignored. I get those all the time. But that's not the case. And as I said last weekend, it is now affecting other jurisdictions and appendant bodies, and their future fraternal relationships with the Grand Lodge of Arkansas

In the last week, at least two brethren received summonses to appear at the Grand Lodge in Little Rock, and unlike almost any other jurisdiction I have ever encountered, these summonses were accompanied by an additional letter that gave the Brother the choice to either appear personally to answer the charges, or simply sign on a line and "self-expel" from the fraternity. Failure to appear for any reason would be followed by an immediate suspension. In both cases, the registered letters containing the charges could not be picked up at the post office until the Tuesday following the Labor Day holiday. The demands to appear were scheduled for the very next day. In one Brother's situation, the drive to the location of his trial was a 3 1/2 hour trip from his home. When he called the Grand Secretary's office to request a later date because of his work commitments that he was unable to rearrange on such extraordinarily short notice, the extension was denied and he was told to simply sign the self-expulsion paper. When he mentioned that his Entered Apprentice degree had told him that his obligation to the fraternity was not meant to interfere with his duties to his family or vocation, he was informed that such considerations did not matter, and that he was simply to appear or be suspended.

In both cases, these brethren stood accused of violating the regulation against electronic communications by commenting on either this blog or on a Facebook post. It should be pointed out that an expulsion - whether self-inflicted, or officially ordered by the Grand Lodge - is for life. Few jurisdictions anywhere would ignore such a stain on the record of a Mason who attempts to join one of their lodges.

Last month, a Brother was similarly summoned to Little Rock over a post on Facebook that he had not made, but that another person had placed in the comment section of his page. It was a "meme" that showed an empty conference room table, and above each vacant chair there was a noose. The photo was captioned "Grand Lodge Officers' Meeting." His wife had posted the image, who was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star. When he saw the image himself, he immediately deleted it, but it was too late. The brother was informed that the Grand Lodge looked upon this image as a 'terrorist threat,' and he too was offered a self-expulsion option. He subsequently received just a reprimand to be read in his open lodge and entered into the minutes. But during this hearing with the Grand Master, he was actually questioned whether he professed a belief in God - over a deleted photo that his wife had posted in jest, clearly seeing the reality of the current GL politics for herself.

The next day, the Worthy Grand Matron of the Arkansas Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star was telephoned by the GM and told that one of her members had broken the law (!) by posting the now deleted photo. It was clear that if she did not immediately remove her member from the rolls, the OES in Arkansas might receive the same fate as the Shrine in that state, and declared to be a clandestine organization. The lady demitted before a committe could be assembled to investigate.
(NOTE: Please see the response to this story from Vickie Staggs, Worthy Grand Matron, in the update below.)
Just in the last two weeks since the story broke publicly about the GS denying letters of good standing to brethren seeking to move out of state, the Grand Master and Grand Secretary in Arkansas have now told several secretaries individually that there is a new way to process demits - unofficially. In the Digest of Arkansas Masonic law it says that demits are to be presented to a lodge in writing, and if there is no objection in the lodge, it will be granted by his lodge's Secretary. But the new verbal guidelines being spoken of privately now are that if an Arkansas Mason desires a demit from his lodge, he must now appear in open lodge at a stated meeting and make the request personally. It will then be sent to the Grand Secretary's office to be checked against the suspension list. It was not revealed whether such demits would actually even be issued by the GS at all. This means that if an Arkansas Mason has moved out of state, or is deployed overseas in the military, he is now expected to fly back to Arkansas in time for his lodge's stated meeting, in order to request something as simple as a demit in person - that may or may not be granted by the GL.  This is blatantly an attempt by the GL to staunch the flow of Arkansas Masons seeking to either transfer out of the state, or simply withdraw their membership until better times come down the road. This is in addition to the increasing reports of the GS office not issuing letters of good standing to Masons seeking to transfer to states that recognize their Prince Hall counterparts.

In 1961, the East Germans built the Berlin Wall for a unique purpose. Almost every border fence, wall, and barrier around the world is erected in order to keep interlopers out. It is only when someone is attempting to imprison others that such an edifice as the one in Berlin gets constructed - to keep people who wish to escape inside. It appears that the Grand Lodge of Arkansas seeks to achieve that now.

Arkansas seems to be preventing those who wish to leave voluntarily from doing so, while ridding itself of those who express even the smallest hint of complaint. This is a volunteer organization. No one has to join it, and no one has to remain. Last week, I reported that between the 13 years of 2002 and 2015, the average loss of membership across the board among all U.S. grand lodges has been 32.8%, but that Arkansas leads the nation with a combined membership loss of 56.3%. There is a reason - or perhaps even a whole host of them - for that enormous difference there. In a reply to that post, Jay Adam Pearson, PGM of South Carolina and an honorary Past Grand Master of Arkansas, mused that an examination of the demits versus deaths would perhaps give a better understanding of that data. 

But I must simply ask here what I asked him - namely, are Masons just dying in greater numbers in Arkansas than anywhere else in the country? 

Or is it something else, over a long period of time?


This morning I received a message from Vickie Staggs, the Grand Worthy Matron of the Arkansas Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star.  
The original information about the episode did not come from Mrs. Staggs, and she had nothing to do with "leaking" any private information, including any details of her conversation with the Grand Master.

I have removed the word "threatened" and some other details of the call from the article, and apologize if I erred in the precise wording of her reported conversation. I had wanted to quote her message to me, but she has not permitted me to do that. Per her request, I have made changes above, but I have not just deleted the entire episode from the post. That was her desire, and I have reluctantly not done that. Perhaps that is not the gentlemanly thing to do, but I feel it is the best thing. 

The OES operates solely at the discretion of Grand Lodge and the Grand Master. If they lose his good graces, Arkansas has made it clear they have no hesitation to simply prohibit the Masonic connection with appendant groups in that state, as with their previous action with the Shrine.  I have no desire to make things difficult  or untenable for the OES or any other appendant body either at work in Arkansas, or whose officers and members outside the state have been affected by the  current actions going on. But pressure is being brought to bear on the appendant groups now, and the situation with the OES episode is NOT isolated. Nor is it just a local one.

Masons inside and outside of Arkansas need to know that. 

Background on this situation:

3/13/10: Grand Lodge of Arkansas Pulls Charter, Files Charges Over Website
12/16/10: News From Arkansas
2/17/11: A Gathering Storm In Arkansas
2/18/11: More Sad News From Arkansas
11/9/12: Shrine Declared Clandestine in Arkansas
1/31/13: South Carolina Suspends Relations With Shriners Internationa
6/19/16: Arkansas Rumblings
6/26/16: Reprehend With Justice
8/23/16: GL of Arkansas Suspends Grand Senior Warden
8/28/16: Grand Lodge of Arkansas' Yezhovshchina: Grand Line Officers Purged
9/3/16: More Antics Out Of Arkansas