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


Monday, October 31, 2016

GL of California Reaffirms Suspension of Recognition with GA and TN

On the heels of last Tuesday's annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Georgia F&AM at which voting members narrowly failed in their attempt to remove the language barring homosexuals and co-habitation among Masons in that state from their Code, the members of the Grand Lodge F&AM of California have quickly responded.

At California's annual communication on Friday, a vote was taken to reaffirm Grand Master M. David Perry's edicts from March of this year that had suspended recognition of Georgia and Tennessee. The motion passed overwhelmingly. 

Back in March when his edicts were issued withdrawing recognition, Grand Master Perry stated, 
The Grand Lodge of Georgia ratified Grand Master McDonald’s Edict No. 2015-4 at the last Annual Communication of their Grand Lodge, thereby adding the following language to their Grand Lodge law: homosexual activity with anyone subjects the offender to discipline. The Grand Lodge of Tennessee recently suspended two brothers from Masonry for violating a provision of the Tennessee Masonic Code when they posted photographs of their wedding to each other on Facebook. The Tennessee Masonic Code states that it is a Masonic offense to promote or engage in homosexual activity. 
In each case, I construe these actions as a sectarian stand which is inconsistent with and does not support the General Regulations of Freemasonry. I have therefore suspended recognition of The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Georgia and the Grand Lodge of Tennessee F. & A. M. until the next Annual Communication of our Grand Lodge. 
As a result, California will officially continue to suspend Masonic amity with those two grand lodges for at least one more year, until the annual communication votes again, or the new 2016-17 Grand Master restores amity himself. Or until Georgia and Tennessee remove their restrictive rules.

Grand lodges of California, the District of Columbia, and Belgium all withdrew recognition with Georgia and Tennessee earlier this year over their rules barring homosexuals from membership.

For the ongoing background in this situation, SEE HERE.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Freemasonry in India

India's former National Congress president, Pandit Motilal Nehru in Masonic regalia

Most US Freemasons are told our fraternity is a worldwide brotherhood, but we tend to think of it primarily as a Western institution. Nevertheless, Masonry does indeed flourish all over the world. 

A little over a decade after the official formation of the premiere Grand Lodge of England, in 1729 Freemasonry came to British India on the ships of the East India Tea Company. A provincial grand lodge was established in Bengal and Lodge No. 72 was chartered and met at Ft. William in Calcutta in 1730. The Grand Lodge of Scotland also established their own provincial grand lodges in the region, and the Grand Lodge of Ireland eventually chartered lodges in the country, as well. 

The earliest lodges were reserved for English and Scottish colonizers and merchants, but in 1776, the first Indian Mason, Omdat-ul-Omrah, was initiated at Trichinopoly. Lodges in western India took considerably longer to welcome Indians as members, not recorded until 1843.

Brother  Rudyard Kipling was made a Freemason at Hope and Perseverance Lodge No. 782 (E.C.) at Lahore Punjab, India on April 5, 1886. He is best known in Masonic circles for his short story, The Man Who Would Be King, as well as his famous poem, The Mother Lodge, both of which drew upon his experiences as a Freemason in India. 

India attained independence from Britain in 1947. The Grand Lodge of AF&AM of India was finally established in New Delhi in 1961 by an agreement with the three parent grand lodges, and Major General Dr. Sir Syed Raza Ali Khan, His Highness the Nawab of Rampur, was installed as their first Grand Master. 

Today, there are 403 lodges under the Grand Lodge, with more than 20,000 members.

An article in The Indian Express yesterday explored the role of Masonry in India. Read 'From leaders to cities, how India owes a lot to the secret order of Freemasons' by Namit Hans:
On February 19, 1884, a young Narendranath Datta joined the Anchor and Hope Lodge and became a Freemason. Within three months, 21-year-old Datta was raised to the degree of ‘master mason’. After nine years, the world came to identify this young boy as one of the greatest spiritual leaders ever born in India and the first to have brought Hindu philosophy to the west. 
Narendranath, who was by then known as Swami Vivekananda, surprised everyone as he spoke on Hindu culture and religion at World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. 
It is believed that the freemasons helped Swami Vivekananda during his time in Chicago. 
The many mysteries
Swami Shantanmananda of Ramakrishna Mission in Delhi, when contacted, told IndianExpress.com that literary evidence of Swami Vivekananda as a member of the society is limited to one of his biographies written by his followers.
Apart from Swami Vivekananda, several prominent Indian leaders are believed to have joined Freemasonry in the past. Pandit Motilal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad and Fakhrudin Ali Ahmed are just a few names among many. Any documentary proof regarding their stint with Freemasonry is however hard to find. 
In his autobiography, Harivansh Rai Bachchan writes this about Pandit Motilal Nehru:
“Babu Rajaram was a friend of Motilal Nehru; I saw a photograph of him and Motilal in freemasons’ garb; there was, I recall, a freemasons’ lodge somewhere in town. Motilal Nehru was keen on institutions of this kind, and was later attracted to the Theosophical Society”.
In the west, great leaders like Franklin D Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington among others are also believed to have joined Freemasonry. It is said that this close relationship of Freemasonry with world leaders influenced many movements around the world including the French and American revolution and the Indian Independence movement.
If the Freemasons actually played a role in these, then why is it that their contribution is seldom talked about? 
Freemasonry, Geometry and Architecture
“The whole of Delhi was planned using two specific geometric shapes: the triangle and the hexagram. The fact that the Imperial city of Delhi was planned using triangles and hexagrams is not surprising given that most English royalty had masonic links and Edwin Lutyens himself had masonic links,” said Ashwin Sanghi, author of Rozabal Line and other books. 
“Similarly, the shape of Connaught Place is designed by Robert Russel who was also a Free Mason. The inspiration for Connaught Place was the Royal Crescent building (in Bath, England). Why were both the Royal Crescent and Connaught Place designed in these specific shapes? The crescent (Connaught Circus) represents the moon while the central portion (the circular park area) represents the sun. Again, both sun and moon figure prominently among masonic symbols,” he adds. 
Royal Crescent Building in Bath

It is said that the stonemasons designed the architectural wonders of the ancient world including the Temple of Solomon. As per the traditional theory of their origin, which was propounded just six years after establishment of first Grand Lodge in London in 1717, the practice is closely related to geometry which originated with Adam. The story goes that it’s knowledge was ‘implanted in Adam’s heart’ by God, who then passed it on to his sons Cain and Seth. It is then said to have been preserved by Noah at the time of great flood. 
Thus, many signs and symbols that adorn the Masonic temples and uniforms resemble the geometrical shapes. The Star of David is most popular among them all. This, along with the long tradition of secrecy, led to a belief that it was a jewish conspiracy inviting backlash from Church and Islamic fundamentalists. In 1983, the practice was banned in Pakistan and their buildings were taken under control by government. Earlier, in January this year, the FBI thwarted the plot to target Masonic Center in Milwaukee by one Samy Mohamed Hamzeh. 
Freemasonry in India
The Freemasons’ fraternity in India is thriving. There have been no reports of any major opposition to their existence in the past. Brought to India by the British, there are now 380 lodges spread across the country controlled by Grand Lodge of India (New Delhi). According to Grand Secretary V K Gupta, there are around 30,000 registered Freemasons in India out of which 30 per cent are youth. “More and more people are showing interest in the fraternity,” he says. 
 According to Grand Secretary V K Gupta, there are around 30,000 registered 
Freemasons in India out of which 30 per cent are youth.  
The current head or ‘grand master’ is Harcharan Singh Ranauta. The Freemasons do not believe in practicing any religion, but do not put any restrictions on anyone at the same time. “Our rituals and practices are maintained as a secret just to ensure that Freemasons can identify each other easily. A Freemason in India can go to any other country and he will be treated as part of the fraternity and helped by them,” says a Freemason who did not wish to be named. 
The Grand Lodge of India runs a polyclinic inside its complex in Janpath in New Delhi and it is also involved in many developmental and philanthropic activities. 
Believers in one God or ‘Father of Universe’, they go by the motto of ‘brotherly love, relief and truth’.

The Grand Lodge of India has a brief page of history of Freemasonry in the country HERE.

For a longer history of the growth and development of Scottish Constitution Freemasonry in India , SEE HERE.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Addressing Clandestine Freemasonry: Why It's Important

Lodge Vitruvian No. 767 October 2016 Festive Board with Oscar Alleyne

I'm going to be a blatant fanboy with this post about a Brother each and every one of you needs to know.

WB E. Oscar Alleyne made a whirlwind trip to Oslo, Norway, Rochester, NY, and then Indianapolis earlier this week - an astonishing feat that is frankly exhausting to even contemplate for most of us. Despite little sleep over those several days (and having to be back in New York by 9AM for a meeting on Wednesday morning), he gave a remarkable presentation at Lodge Vitruvian No. 767 on Tuesday night (above). His topic was Clandestine Freemasonry.

I will not exaggerate: Oscar's presentation needs to be heard far and wide, in lodges, districts, and grand lodges. Far more important, it should be seen and heard at the Conference of Grand Masters in North America, AND the Conference of Grand Masters Prince Hall Masons, no matter how uncomfortable the subject may be to some. And I mean that with all sincerity and insistency. If you are reading this and are involved in the programming for either of those national conferences, I strongly urge you to put him on the program next February for all attendees.

"Clandestine Freemasonry" is probably one of the most misunderstood terms we casually sling around in the Masonic world, and in many corners, it results in a highly charged confrontation. We mention it obliquely in our obligation, and then never officially refer to it, or even define it, ever again. As Oscar's presentation made evident Tuesday night, while it is overwhelmingly an artifact in the African-American community, it is by no means just isolated there (he showed a list of no fewer than 70 such groups in the US that are predominantly made up of caucasian or Hispanic men).

What makes his talk of such importance to us all is multi-layered. He explains the breadth and ancestry of the situation starting with the initiation of Prince Hall and his 14 compatriots and the issuing of a regular charter to them by the premiere Grand Lodge of England, up through the various schisms within that sphere, their National Compact experiment and breakaway groups, and finally what has become the many self-created national, state, and local organizations and individual, independent lodges. So, for those Masons who know little or nothing about this world, he goes from zero to 60 in less than an hour.

But he also shows how all of this is extremely important to each of us. The Internet in particular has made it all too easy for these clandestine groups to sign on to LegalZoom, file a proper notice of incorporation with the Secretary of State's office with the correct paperwork, pick up a copy of Duncan's at the bookstore, buy a blank charter and a stack of very impressive grand officer aprons and jewels from Macoy's or an online Pakistani embroidery company, pick out dazzling Masonic rings, start a lavish website, and print out posters inviting folks to come on down to the rented Masonic lodge (once owned by a legitimate lodge or even grand lodge, but sold years ago) on Saturday with their $1000 check and be a 33° Mason that night. They'll have a dues card, and they'll have all of the right words and signs. 

(Just as an aside, what makes their process any different from one of our own One Day Classes that take them "from sidewalk to Shrine" in a dozen hours, I'm not entirely certain. But I digress.) 

Only after those men try to interact with regular, recognized Masons do they discover, too late, that no, they cannot visit lodges all over the world (or town), and their dues card won't really get them out of jail.

Many of these groups often engage in severe hazing practices, such as punching blindfolded candidates, branding, actual blood letting, and far worse. Petitions that contain releases to hold the organization harmless from liability if the candidate is injured are common. Their members frequently tell of fees, dues, insurance premiums and fines costing thousands of dollars a year. When they encounter mainstream and PHA lodge members and are rebuffed, or if they complain about the hazing, they are told that "those regular guys" will do a whole lot worse to them if they try to join us instead. 

One of the largest, the International Free and Accepted Modern Masons, Inc., is principally an extremely successful money-making scheme (as are many others). They are frequently depicted as wearing a Masonic apron along with a Shrine fez. The Internationals pay their members a bounty for bringing in new recruits and require payment into what is a massive pyramid scheme. Like many of the larger clandestine groups, they have a board of directors and officers like President and CEO, instead of grand lodge line officers and trustees. They have a large and active Eastern Star "Department" and youth groups. They do often operate very visible charities in some communities. 

After numerous lawsuits, they were forced to change their trademark from a standard S&C by adding a key underneath it. It is not uncommon for their members (and many other clandestine "Masons") to shake hands with an unsuspecting regular Mason while "trying" him with a ritual question, then snatch the Masonic ring from his finger, telling him he's "not worthy."

How pervasive is this problem for us all, ultimately? Well, the Master of Vitruvian went to the Indianapolis airport to pick up Oscar Tuesday, and because they didn't know each other, he wore a ball cap with a S&C on it. Before Oscar arrived, two men walked up to him and started openly displaying due guards and signs at him, giving him the grip. For a moment, he thought perhaps Oscar had sent them ahead just to fool with him. But no, when he asked their affiliation, it was an organization he had never heard of.

Oscar fully understands this situation. He spent 14 years as an active member of a clandestine New York "grand lodge," a town (and state) that is filled with these groups. It was only when he started asking questions and investigating that he found out just what he had joined. Oscar is not some bumpkin, by anyone's metric. He just simply didn't know, and no one ever explained it, in person, in lodge, or online. And there are thousands of men just like him all over the country. It is a vast underground culture that uses our symbols, our literature, our rituals, and our reputation, to make money and defraud unsuspecting men. 

One of the principal reasons they have gotten away with it is our historic institutionalized racism. For over two centuries, most state grand lodges openly said black men couldn't be Masons at all (mis-defining that whole "freeborn" business made it easy to pervert the meaning). And even if they let it slip that black men could be Masons, well, that Prince Hall lodge downtown was where they had to go. Likewise, PHA lodges often told white men looking for Masonic membership to go elsewhere.

I'm not flogging anyone over the past, but the future starts right now. Even in the 42 US jurisdictions that share recognition with their PHA counterparts, there is a prevailing attitude on the part of BOTH organizations that if you are a "man of color," the Prince Hall world is really their "proper" destination. Lodges on both sides have not largely desegregated, and joint recognition has in its own way been harmful by simply enforcing our separation, generally unknowingly and with the best of intentions, and most often out of our own confusion and discomfort in addressing the complex question of race in this country.

As Oscar points out, the African-American clandestine groups thrive, in part, by turning our own past history on its ear now. When their members are turned away by a local mainstream lodge or rebuffed by regular Masons on Facebook and elsewhere, it must be because of "racism," not their lack of regularity, and the "I told you not to go there" admonitions fall trippingly from the tongue. Their Masters and Grand Masters will ask their members, "If you're drowning and give a distress call, will those so-called Masons come and save you? If you are broken down by the side of the road and give a sign, will they stop for you?"
But what is more concerning are the outward signs of this phenomenon. 

In New York City, it is common for literally a dozen or more of the phony Masonic groups to march in parades, proudly sporting their flashy regalia, and carrying banners to draw in potential members. They sometimes operate charities that are highly regarded in the community.

In a photo (right) released by his attorney when he was accused of complicity in Michael Jackson's death, Doctor Conrad Murray was wearing a grand lodge jewel that proclaimed him to be the "Grand Medical Director" to prove he was somehow "connected" and a "high-ranking Mason" to the outside world. His Masonic background was explored by news sites like Fox and People Magazine. Never mind that he held that position in a phony "grand lodge" that solely encompassed the metropolitan area of Houston, Texas. Such distinctions are ignored or simply never spotted or known by non-Masons (and even by many Masons themselves). The Jackson family alleged Murray was part of a Masonic cabal that controlled the music business who had ordered Jackson's murder, and the jewel in the picture "proved" that. Because many hip hop stars refer to Masonic symbolism or use it in their stage shows and album artwork, it becomes harder to just shrug off this nonsense.

Starting in 2015, a story hit the news from southern California about the arrest of three people in connection with impersonating law enforcement officers, and proclaiming themselves to be part of a "Masonic Police Department." In their trial appearance (below) that was covered by the Associated Press and other news outlets, "Absolute Supreme Sovereign Grandmaster" David Inkk Henry, Brandon Kiel, and Tonette Hayes proudly sported their Masonic regalia. Hayes wore a jeweled Shrine pin and a minister's collar, while Kiel and Henry wore their grand officer collars. 

In a bizarre video released by Hayes around the same time (that has since disappeared from YouTube), he defended his activities from the criticism by other Masons and said that anyone who did not understand his actions needed to consult their own grand master for clarification.

In neither case did reporters, prosecuting attorneys, or law enforcement contact the regular, recognized grand lodges of their states for information, or even to check their claims of association. They don't largely because Freemasons are all thought to be just part of just one, same, big, happy, secretive, global treehouse. Regularity and recognition are arcane and meaningless to everyone but us.

Starting in the 1980s and 90s, the late historian and author Joseph A. Walkes, Jr. helped to establish the Phylaxis Society to specifically research issues and history surrounding Prince Hall Freemasonry. At that time, much misinformation and even less authentic research material existed about their unique and historic branch of US Freemasonry, and the Phylaxis Society under Walkes' early leadership provided a haven for Masonic scholarship. 

As part of their mission, they embarked on a daunting task that was astonishing in an age before computerized, online public records. They went state by state, and often into municipalities, and researched the incorporation records for what became the Joseph A. Walkes, Jr. Commission on Bogus Masonic Practices to identify the hundreds of phony organizations in the US claiming to be Masonic. 

The list is now ten years out of date, and hasn't kept up with the most recent proliferation of these instant lodges and grand lodges, but it is a good starting point for anyone wanting to get a taste of just how massive the problem really is. Check your own state. Illinois and New York have in the several hundreds, and there are thousands nationwide.

At the very least, EVERY SINGLE regular, recognized grand lodge in the U.S. should have a menu item on its website defining "clandestine" Freemasonry (and acknowledging its existence in the first place), explaining why regularity is important for potential petitioners, AND if a man is ALREADY a member of a clandestine group, how he can join a regular, recognized one. If your grand lodge has a specific process for such men (retaking the obligations of all three degrees, a simple "healing" by the Grand Master, a committee hearing with the candidate, or even completely starting from scratch and retaking the degrees completely - or some other option), your website should openly spell it out. We need to address the problem, not ignore it, because this is a much larger and more widespread phenomenon than most of us understand - more such organizations pop up every week, in every state. Members of these groups CAN be brought into our fraternity family, and we make a big mistake by not telling them how. And if your grand lodge does NOT have a process, you should formulate one. 

If you happen to be in one of the nine PHA jurisdictions left that is not recognized by its mainstream counterpart, you STILL need to address this problem - maybe even more than everyone else, because these groups use the historical racism of the past to flourish in your own backyards. The lack of joint recognition only bolsters their arguments, and they cannot be as easily refuted, solely becuase of the current situation there. If for no other reason, BOTH of the regular grand lodges in each of those states need to stop ignoring each other, finally leave the old bigotry and distrust in the past where it belongs, and find common ground.

I'll wrap this up, but I strongly urge all regular, recognized jurisdictions to invite Oscar to present, and more important, to invite members of their state or PHA counterparts, as well as the general public to that event. Cast a wide net and make special attempts to encourage attendees from these clandestine groups to attend, as well. It can open their eyes, as Oscar's own eyes were opened. Moreover, consider the very important demographic he represents: he is young, African-American, extremely educated (a doctor of epidemiology in New York) and well traveled, he was once a member of a clandestine Masonic lodge himself, and is now extremely active and respected in the Grand Lodge of New York. He has walked a path that many of these men have themselves. He will appeal to the very men we seek in our own lodges, and who most of our grand officers freely admit they do not fully understand. Oscar does. 

I'm not his shill or booking agent. I get nothing by promoting his message. But please consider adding him to your upcoming Masonic program. It's vital to us all to pay attention to his message and to fully understand an issue we are all obligated to fight.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Homosexual Ban Remains in GL of Georgia

A resolution to remove the language banning homosexuals from Freemasonry in the Grand Lodge of Georgia F&AM's Code has failed late Tuesday afternoon. The resolution lost in a close 231-247 vote at the annual communication today.

There was a possibility that the failed resolution could be reconsidered and voted on again at Wednesday's session, but that did not happen.

From all reports, MW Drew Lane, Grand Master for 2015-16, did an outstanding job of running the proceedings with great dignity, fairness, and understanding. It could have been a highly contentious situation when the legislation came to the floor, and that did not happen. I also understand that one Past Grand Master made a passionate and persuasive statement in favor of the proposed bill that changed some minds.

At this time, the grand lodges of Georgia and Tennessee are the only two regular Masonic jurisdictions that have regulations in their codes that prohibit homosexuals from membership.

Earlier this year, grand lodges of California, the District of Columbia, and Belgium all withdrew amity with Georgia because of the edict and subsequent approval by the voting members affirming the homosexual ban, and numerous other grand lodges around the US and the rest of the Masonic world issued various statements condemning Georgia and Tennessee.

The Grand Lodge of Tennessee also had amity withdrawn by DC, CA and Belgium for its own homosexual ban, although that rule had been in place for over 30 years and had only recently been enforced.

Georgia and Tennessee Masons seeking regular, recognized, alternative membership options outside of the state that do not have residency requirements, SEE THIS POST.

For the complete background on this issue, SEE HERE.

UPDATED 10/26/2016

Monday, October 24, 2016

Anti-Masonic Comic Creator Jack Chick Dies

A chapter - albeit, a small one - has closed in the bizarre world of anti-Masonry. According to his Facebook page, comic book religious tract artist Jack T. Chick joined the Choir Invisible yesterday at the age of 92.

Chick was a California evangelist who took up the pen and brush against any religious belief, tradition, or philosophy that was at odds with his own brand of fundamentalist, evangelical Protestantism. Over five decades, his company purportedly distributed more than 750 million of his tiny comic books (once described by media critic Steven Brill as "religious pornography") that railed against Catholicism, Judaism, Mormonism, Islam, homosexuals, divorce, Dungeons & Dragons, Harry Potter, Freemasonry, and many others, at less than two bits apiece.  He eventually published more than 150 different titles in 100 languages.

He was especially savage towards Roman Catholicism (referring to the communion host as a "death cookie"), and blamed many of the world's problems on that faith, including the Ku Klux Klan (!), the Holocaust, and world Communism.

Unsuspecting "sinners" often found these little gems of paranoia, brimstone, and hatred tucked under their windshield wipers, stuck between the beans in the canned vegetable aisle, or jammed into the seat pocket on their vacation flight. Sadly, some even made their way into care packages sent to U.S. troops overseas.

"Oops! There's Baphomet again!"

In the Masonic world, his tracts That's Baphomet?, The Curse of Baphomet (now out of print)and The Unwelcome Guest were notorious for perpetuating the 19th century Leo Taxil hoax, among other hoary whoppers. Albert Pike got strategically misquoted (or just plain had quotes invented), "Satan" took up residence in lodge meetings, the Eastern Star ladies were accused of witchcraft, and even Shriners got a swipe for their red fezzes, because, according to Chick, the Muslims originally dipped them into the blood of Christians. 

Unfortunately, the pervasiveness of his little booklets perpetuated this madness to an unsuspecting public, and plenty of Masons over the years have had to answer questions from nervous friends and relatives who got their delusional information straight out of Chick's tracts.

According to the company's website, they intend to keep distributing his miniature missives, despite the loss of their founder who has been wafted away at last to join the silent ranks of the Great Majority.

Requiēscat In Pāce

(See also The Tall Tales of Leo Taxil)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Massachusetts Lodge Is Unique Local Landmark

While most of us think of Masonic lodges built after about 1950 as being less inspired architectural landmarks compared to the grander temples of the first third of the 20th century, there are standouts from later periods. Not every post 50s temple has been a steel, prefabricated pole barn in a cornfield.

Last weekend on October 15th, the brethren of Social Harmony Lodge in Wareham, Massachusetts joined with many other Massachusetts lodges to celebrate a statewide Masonic open house, allowing the public an opportunity to come in, look around, and ask their questions. The unique structure is a landmark in the town.

The lodge was originally chartered in 1823 in nearby Middleboro before moving to Wareham a few years later. It was located in various sites in the town, including one on Main Street where it was situated for more than a century before finally moving to its present location in 1964. They currently have about 140 members on the rolls.

(While somewhat smaller in size, it is reminiscent of the similar A-frame design of Abraham C. Treichler Lodge No. 682 at the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, PA, below.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

WB Oscar Alleyne To Speak at Lodge Vitruvian in Indianapolis 10/25

Lodge Vitruvian 767 is Indiana's only "European Concept" lodge, featuring limited membership, brief meetings, formal dress, fine feasts, and the celebration of Masonic learning.

The final stated meeting of the lodge for 2016 will be next Tuesday, October 25th, opening at 7:00 PM in the Temple of Broad Ripple Lodge 643, at 1716 Broad Ripple Avenue, on the north side of Indianapolis, IN. 

Our traditional Festive Board will follow at Capri Ristorante, located at 2602 Ruth Drive in Indianapolis (just off Keystone Avenue, between 71st and 75th Streets). Attendees are responsible for the cost of their meals.

Our guest speaker for the evening will be Dr. Elquemedo Oscar Alleyne who will discuss the topic of Clandestine Freemasonry, and relate his own experiences as a former member of a clandestine lodge. Since his early introduction to the fraternity, he has since gone on to serve twice as Master of Wappingers Lodge 671 under the Grand Lodge of New York F&AM. He is a Director of The Masonic Society, a well respected and widely published researcher and author, and an extraordinarily active and enthusiastic Mason - on top of an incredible professional career in public health management. 

At Vitruvian we believe in formal dress for our members. While it is the internal and not the external parts of Man that Masonry regards, dressing in tuxedo and white gloves is actually a great leveler in a lodge - who can then say who is the banker, the bricklayer, the Ph.D. professor or the plumber?  Visitors are requested to wear tuxedo or business attire.

Unfortunately, the mundane business of grand lodge requirements will lengthen this meeting slightly, as our elections must be held that evening. However, it is always our best intention to dispense with our actual meetings in under an hour, so we will accomplish this as quickly as possible in order to get to Capri in a timely fashion.

Reservations are not required, but would be deeply appreciated. Please visit the event page HERE.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Grand Lodge of Cyprus Celebrates 10th Anniversary 10/29

The Famagusta Gate on the island nation of Cyprus

The Grand Lodge of Cyprus will celebrate its 10th anniversary on October 29th in Nicosia. 

According to the Masonic Press Agency website today:
Cypriot ties with Freemasonry dates back more than two centuries. The first documents are found Larnaca, the main port on the island at the time. The first Masonic Lodge in Cyprus was founded in the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of England. Cypriot Lodges are currently working in Greek, English, German and Italian. 
The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Cyprus is Most Worshipful Petros S. Machalepis. The Masonic Ceremony will take place at Famagusta Gate, built in 1567 by the Venetians.  
Map from Maphill

From the Wikipedia entry about the GL of Cyprus:
There are three recognized jurisdictions or organizing units of freemasons in Cyprus, each holding authority over its respective lodges.
Grand Lodge of Cyprus is a sovereign grand lodge, derived from originally Greek chartered lodges but which now works in at least four languages, including Greek, English, German and Italian.
Another group, the District Grand Lodge of Cyprus, is a unit of the United Grand Lodge of England, subordinate to that external jurisdiction, and operating in English to serve mainly British citizens living on military bases or elsewhere on the island: Cyprus is a Commonwealth nation, and favored Mediterranean holiday destination for citizens of the UK.
The third group is the lodges that operate under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Turkey at the northern part of the island. While the Grand Lodge of Turkey and the Grand Lodge of Cyprus are not in mutual recognition, the United Grand Lodge of England is in amity with both grand lodges, permitting intervisitation and plural membership.
The Grand Lodge of Cyprus shares control, or jurisdiction over Masonic activity in the south of the island due to the historical and continuing presence of the United Grand Lodge of England’s District Grand Lodge of Cyprus, which serves Freemasons from the UK’s twin military bases on Cyprus and other British citizens and English speakers residing there. In the north Cyprus only three lodges with charters granted by the Grand Lodge of Turkey operate. A treaty of full amity was reached with the UGLE, defining terms of mutual recognition, free intervisitation and good will as ratified by the UGLE on June 6, 2010.
Now widely recognized among international Freemasonry, the Grand Lodge of Cyprus holds mutual recognition treaties with 140 of the world's Masonic grand jurisdictions, as of the end of 2012.Such agreements exist in the form of letters or patents that proclaim that, as of a certain date, freemasons from one jurisdiction may visit and attend lodge meetings or other Masonic functions in another. These agreements are reciprocal, and foster the cherished Masonic principle of intervisitation.
The complex story of how the widespread recognition and the unique agreement among Masonic bodies on Cyprus was finally achieved can be found HERE

Larnaca Lodge Hall

The Grand Lodge of Cyprus operates four Masonic temple buildings on the island in Nicosia, Larnaca, Paphos, and Limassol.

GL of Kentucky Approves Joint Visitation With Prince Hall Lodges

The Grand Lodge of Kentucky F&AM recognized the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Kentucky F&AM in October 2011, however no visitation privileges were granted at that time. The Prince Hall Grand Lodge had asked for recognition without visitation. They were simply recognized as a sovereign jurisdiction only. 

I just received word that the GL of Kentucky has at last approved joint visitation with their Prince Hall counterparts today at their annual communication.

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


Brother John Bizzack has passed along the additional news that the Grand Lodge of Kentucky also approved legislation that will grant lodges the option of opening Stated Meetings and conducting their business on the Entered Apprentice degree. Actually it must lay over until a final vote next year, but this is a major advancement. 

It's taken a couple of years to accomplish this, and it's a welcome change that more and more jurisdictions are adopting. This is the longstanding manner in which the overwhelming majority of lodges around the world conduct their business, and the practice of restricting business meetings to Master Masons only was an unfortunate product of the 1843 Baltimore Convention that introduced many innovations to American lodges.  Glad to see it laid to rest in Kentucky.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Euclid, Freemasonry, and Philosophical Geometry

In the last section of the Master Mason degree lecture recited in Preston-Webb Masonic ritual, Euclid's 47th Proposition from his collected Elements of Geometry is only briefly referenced:
“The Forty-seventh Problem of Euclid was an invention of our ancient friend and brother, the great Pythagoras...This wise philosopher enriched his mind abundantly in a general knowledge of things, and more especially in Geometry, or Masonry. On this subject he drew out many problems and theorems, and, among the most distinguished, he erected this, when, in the joy of his heart, he exclaimed Eureka, in the Greek language signifying, "I have found it," and upon the discovery of which he is said to have sacrificed a hecatomb. It teaches Masons to be general lovers of the arts and sciences.”
Anderson's Constitutions of 1723 follows the trail from Pythagoras to Euclid, who was credited with assembling the various theories of geometry into a cohesive science, or as Anderson calls it, the Royal Art: 
"[T]he Greater PYTHAGORAS, prov’d the Author of the 47th Proposition of Euclid’s first Book, which, if duly observ’d, is the Foundation of all Masonry, sacred, civil, and Military...
"But after PYTHAGORAS, Geometry became the darling Study of Greece, where many learned Philosophers arose, some of whom invented sundry Propositions, or Elements of Geometry, and reduc’d them to the use of the mechanical Arts. Nor need we doubt that Masonry kept pace with Geometry; or rather, always follow’d it in proportion’d gradual Improvements, until the wonderful EUCLID of Tyre flourish’d at Alexandria; who gathering up the scatter’d Elements of Geometry, digested them into a Method that was never yet mended, (and for which his Name will be ever celebrated) under the Patronage of PTOLOMEUS, the Son of Lagus King of Egypt, one of the immediate Successors of Alexander the Great."
Apart from Freemasonry's obvious operative-era connection to the science of geometry, how did Euclid's 4th century BC writings wind up being referenced in an 18th century fraternal organization in Britain? 

It turns out that Euclid's theories were actually common currency among Enlightenment era political philosophers, and were not necessarily being used for mathematics. They were being applied to demonstrate the scientific "proof" of concepts like equality among men, even as late as Abraham Lincoln's arguments against slavery in the 1850s and 60s. It's not an enormous leap of imagination to suspect that Founders like Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, Hamilton, John Jay, and many others probably had a volume of Euclid's Elements lurking on their bookshelves at home.

Nautilus is an online magazine dedicated, in part, to applying science to everyday life. An article recently appeared that explores this Euclidean application to philosophical thought. 

From Euclid As Founding Father, by Adam Kucharsky:
“In the course of my law-reading I constantly came upon the word demonstrate,” Lincoln said. “I thought, at first, that I understood its meaning, but soon became satisfied that I did not.” Resolving to understand it better, he went to his father’s house and “staid there till I could give any propositions in the six books of Euclid at sight.”
He was referring to the first six of books of Euclid’s Elements, an Ancient Greek mathematical text. On the face of it, Euclid’s Elements was nothing but a dry textbook: There were no illustrative examples, no mention of people, and no motivation for the analyses it presented. But it was also a landmark, a way of constructing universal truths, a wonder that would outlast even the great lighthouse in Euclid’s home city of Alexandria.
Elements proposed that definitions were at the foundation of knowledge, and led to self-evident axioms that needed no proof. From these definitions and axioms, Euclid showed how to prove dozens of mathematical propositions, producing knowledge that was objective and undeniable. A person of reason would have to accept a proven fact, no matter what their personal beliefs or convictions were. Elements would become a best-selling work, second only to the bible in printed editions, and used until recently as the standard text for mathematics classes. It profoundly influenced Western thought, and shaped Western science and art. What’s less recognized is its role in the creation of modern politics: The distance from proofs about equilateral triangles to the foundations of democracy in Europe and the United States turned out to be just about two millennia.

John Locke was an early pioneer of Euclidean thinking in politics. Born in 1632, the Englishman grew up in a time of turbulence, with a nine-year civil war beginning in 1642. Locke, whose father had fought against the Royalists in the war, would go on to develop a great interest in the concept of morality. In forming his ideology, Locke took guidance from the logical structure of Elements. He believed that by following the logical consequences of self-evident statements “as incontestable as those in mathematics,” it would be possible to demonstrate what was right and wrong.
Historically, absolute monarchs and the church had dictated laws and justice. Enlightenment thinkers such as Locke sought to challenge this tradition. Rather than defining equality from above, he wanted to root it in natural, objective laws. Locke believed that the “natural rights” of a society could be established in a similar manner to geometric theorems, and would therefore be “as certain as any demonstration of Euclid.”
Like Euclid, Locke defined terms, then used these definitions to prove moral claims. For example, Locke defined property as “a right to any thing,” and injustice as “the invasion or violation of that right.” The statement “where there is no property there is no injustice” resulted naturally from these definitions. In his Two Treatises of Government, published in 1689, Locke noted that “creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the same advantages of nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal one amongst another.” It was therefore self-evident that, in the absence of rules or laws, humanity’s natural state was “free, equal, and independent.” He concluded that the aim of a government should be to preserve the natural rights of life, liberty, and property.

(Read the whole article HERE.)

Several 17th and 18th century philosophers like Benedict Spinoza and Thomas Hobbes used Euclid's Elements as a basis for demonstrating the truth of their philosophical theories. So it's not surprising that the Royal Society members and other Enlightenment thinkers who helped transform Freemasonry from an "operative" skill to a "speculative" philosophy for tolerance and equality among diverse members would sneak Euclid under the door.

H/T to Redditer "poor_yoricks_skull" today.

Amazon's New Review Polices Could Affect Authors

Amazon's new book review police are out in force

The rise of Lulu.com and Amazon's CreateSpace have changed the face of small batch self-publishing forever. Before they came along, if an author wrote a book that had limited readership appeal, the paths to actually getting it into print were generally pretty limited: track down a small, independent press that didn't mind printing up a small batch of copies and warehousing them for years (or decades); or pay a vanity press to print up a couple of thousand books that the author would then stack up in his garage until the mice finally chewed into the boxes. 

With the new online self-publishing services, that has changed completely. Now, an author can upload a Word file, pick a predesigned cover, and in a matter of minutes, have a book listed online on the world's biggest book retailer, that looks exactly like something from Random House. For Masonic authors, this has been especially exciting. It would be difficult to find a field of study that has more books written about it for such a comparatively tiny sliver of the book buying public than Freemasonry. Because of this new technology, we have greater access to more Masonic books than at any time in our history. If you think there's a dearth of Masonic education resources in the world, you haven't been paying attention.

One of the most important aspects of promoting (or buying) any book, regardless of the subject, is positive reviews. It's difficult enough to convince a substantial group of readers to actually buy a book in the first place. But it's even harder to count on them to actually take a few minutes after they've read it to sit down and type out a few sentences about what they thought of it. Reviews are the lifeblood of the book business, and most especially for the self-publisher. They are important because more (and better) reviews make a book listing look more promising to a shopper who is reluctant to part with $14.95. And the more confirmed sales there are of a book on Amazon, the higher the ranking number becomes, along with a greater likelihood of the title being promoted on another popular book's page by Amazon's inscrutable marketing algorithm. 

So, over the years, desperate authors have sought out numerous ways to encourage folks to give public feedback for their work on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and elsewhere. Some have tried asking Facebook friends for reviews, while others have resorted to a sort of soft bribery by offering gift cards in return for a few kindly sentences and a five-star rating.

Unfortunately, unscrupulous authors (or savvy ones, if you think that way) have found ways to game Amazon's ranking system over the years. Some authors have paid for reviews, created dozens of phony screen names and posted their own sock puppet reviews, and other schemes. 

Now, apparently, Amazon has decided to take the matter in hand and announced (or just quietly enforced without fanfare) new rules regarding the posting of reviews. If you are an author of a Masonic book, and especially a self-published one, these rules could affect how you go about seeking sympathetic brethren's online opinions of your work. 

Author Anne R. Allen co-hosts a blog that deals with writing, and yesterday she posted an extensive article examining the new review rules and how they could touch on what you and your readers might otherwise regard as harmless attempts to help each other out.

See Amazon's New Review Rules: Should Authors Be Worried?