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


Monday, January 30, 2017

WB Darren Klem Passes Away: Funeral Friday 2/3

My friend and Brother, WB Darren Jason Klem passed away on Sunday. 

That's a damned difficult sentence to type.

Darren came to Broad Ripple Lodge when we were really struggling, and God truly smiled on us when he arrived. He had just moved to Indianapolis for his job at Rolls Royce, but he had first become a Mason in Bayonne, New Jersey at Menorah Lodge 249, which had just merged in a Masonic stew of consolidations into Peninsula Lodge 99.  He was also a member of a very special Texas lodge, Tranquility 2000. So, Darren was already extraordinarily active and enthusiastic about the fraternity. 

Once here, Darren also became a member of our unique Bartimaeus Lodge UD, a special purpose lodge that exists solely to confer the Masonic degrees on candidates with physical handicaps or challenges that require extra care. That was the kind of man he was, who sought out ways to help. 

Darren became Master of Broad Ripple 643, and brought great leadership and fun to the position. He also became an active member of Lodge Vitruvian 767, and was moving through the officers chairs there, as well.

As part of his job, he had to travel extensively, to Europe, and often to Britain. When traveling, he would try to make time to seek out and visit a lodge in whatever part of the countryside he was in, and his experiences were unique. He had a deep voice and a hilarious sense of fun, and he embodied that rare combination of commanding respect, admiration, love, and humor, in one unassuming package. He rarely raised that voice, and yet others always seemed to be drawn toward his comments or decisions naturally. He wasn't always the first guy a stranger might gravitate to in a room, but Darren was very often the last one he was still talking to when they shut out the lights and locked the door.

After he served as Master of Broad Ripple, he eventually took the Secretary's chair over from Nathan Brindle when he moved on, and Darren held that position for many years. It was cancer that forced him out of that seat at last in November, and only then, reluctantly - actually in mid-meeting. 

He and I were both struck with nearly the identical type of cancer, in almost precisely the same spot, within just a few months of each other six years ago. That's a club I was not happy to share membership with him in. But whereas mine was eventually beaten surgically, chemically, and radiologically, Darren's was not. Time and again, he would pull though successfully, only for the damned horrid tentacles of it to cling on in secret and reappear again in months or a year, and the miserable process would begin all over again. 

Darren has a beautiful, loving wife, and of course my heart goes out to Tabitha, who has been by his side as this struck him again and again. She has been through her own hell that has been every bit as terrible in its own way as his. But he also has two young daughters. And there's no reason on God's Earth I can think of right this very moment to make sense of why the science worked and I lived, and why my friend, her husband, their father, did not.


(Obituary posted this morning HERE.)

Worshipful Brother Darren Klem's Masonic Memorial Service will be this Friday around 7:30pm. at Flanner and Buchanan in Broad Ripple. Please arrive at 7:30pm to prepare and make ready. 

Flanner and Buchannan - Broad Ripple
1305 Broad Ripple Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46220
(317) 475-4475

WB Klem made many arrangements before his death, and has asked that Lodge Vitruvian and our own Lodge be participants in the service.

We have also been invited by the family to attend the Catholic Service at St. Joan of Arc at 4217 Central Avenue on Saturday 2/4/2017 at 10am. as well as the burial at St. Malachy West Cemetery in Pittsburo, Indiana following the Saturday service and Memorial Lunch at St. Malachy Catholic Church 
(9833 E County Road 750 N, Brownsburg, IN 46112) following the burial.

Please direct any questions regarding this to me and I will do my best to answer them.

Fraternally and with a heavy heart,

Doug Eckhart, PM
Worshipful Master BR Lodge #643

May it be his portion to hear from Him who sitteth as Judge Supreme: “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joys of thy Lord”.

My friend Jay Hochberg knew Darren many years before I did from his days in New Jersey, and has written his own very personal memories of Darren on his Magpie Mason blog site HERE. Thanks, Jay.

Knights of Malta vs. Pope Francis: Update

On January 12th, I posted HERE about an imbroglio going on in Vatican City over the modern day Knights of Malta. The story at that time was strictly from the lopsided Catholic press, and especially from a columnist with a bone to pick about Freemasonry.

Well, Saturday the story finally broke out into the secular press, and the New York Times picked it up in a far more detailed and linear fashion than the piece I had quoted. It should be noted the single and largely insignificant reference to Freemasonry in this article. It seems to be largely a non-issue in this matter, as far as Pope Francis making any sort of new pronouncements, or even rumblings, about our fraternity.

Read: Ten Centuries Later, a Pope and Knights Do Battle by Jason Horowitz (how he drew the Vatican assignment, I'll never know).

Thursday, January 26, 2017

'Living Stones' Magazine Now Available For All

In September 2016, WBro. Robert Herd announced that he was discontinuing the publication of his well regarded Living Stones monthly Masonic magazine after six years, due to the dwindling number of high quality submissions. 

He has just recently and most generously decided to make all of the past issues available online for no charge, stating, "I feel the magazines and articles are in a way timeless, and will offer education and wisdom for years to come. I hope you enjoy them." 

Issues are organized by year, and may be viewed HERE.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Apparent Arson Fire at Historic Grand Rapids, MI Masonic Center

The CBS affiliate, WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan reported early this morning that a "suspicious fire" is being investigated by police at the Grand Rapids Masonic Center. 

According to the story:
The fire was reported around 1 a.m. Wednesday at the Masonic Center, located at 233 Fulton Street near Lafayette Avenue.

GRFD Battalion Chief Nancy Boss told 24 Hour News 8 that someone got into the building and set a small fire. Firefighters were able to extinguish it quickly and no one was hurt.
Authorities called the fire “suspicious.” It’s unclear who set the fire and why.
Forensic teams were on scene to help in the investigation.
As of late Wednesday evening, no further news reports had been posted, but the damage was apparently limited.

The Temple celebrated its centennial in 2015, despite a proposal the previous year to sell it, which was overwhelmingly rejected by the membership. It is the home to the Masonic Museum and Library, Grand Rapids Lodge 34, Doric Lodge 342, York Lodge 410, and the Grand Rapids Valley of the Scottish Rite. It is also the headquarters of the Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation.

Back in 1947, a much larger fire severely damaged the building (right), but an asbestos curtain drawn over the proscenium of the theater protected their priceless Scottish Rite degree backdrops from destruction. Photos of that incident appear on the center's Facebook page HERE.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

GL Arkansas Lawsuit Dismissed

As mentioned here back in October, the Grand Lodge of Arkansas lost $500,000 in a failed real estate investment scheme dating back to 2008. They subsequently attempted to recover their losses by suing various parties involved in the fund in federal court in April 2015. But by last October, the judge in the Arkansas Eastern District court, Hon. J. Leon Holmes, had already thrown out all charges against four of the six defendants in the case.

Well, last Wednesday, January 18th, Holmes tossed out the case against the last two remaining defendants and dismissed the case "with prejudice." The documents are available online HERE (Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Arkansas v. DCG/UGOC Equity Fund LLC et al) if you have a PacerMonitor subscription (they offer a free trial for 14 days, but be careful, as you could get charged $49 for the next month if you miss the email). Noteworthy across all of the judge's decisions is the repeated use of the phrase, "the Lodge has failed to carry its burden to show..."

(UPDATED LINKS to the pertinent documents: October 19, 2016 decision; and the January 2017 Decision)

Arkansas Masons have been asking whether the complete legal costs accrued by this Quixotic quest through the court system will be duly reported at next month's Annual Communication.

Large institutional organizations have problems from time to time. Any well-meaning one can make a poor investment through no fault of its own, and there's often nothing more damning about such an error or stroke of bad timing than, at most, maybe credulousness or bad judgement by an officer or two, who simply were out of their depth in the matter. The best of organizations are up front with their stockholders or members, promise to do better or change leadership, and get back to work. But Arkansas continues to rack up problem after problem, and they can't be hidden from their own members any longer. The practice of ejecting every single member who makes a critical observation out loud has taken on epidemic proportions: 23 expelled so far this year, and it's not quite the end of the term yet.

The question now arising is, will February's gathering in Little Rock erupt in a massive outburst of revolutionary anger, disgust, and exasperation? Or will some calming PGM or other admired Arkansas Mason emerge who rallies members to some noble cause and gathers their immediate approbation? Or will the assembled brethren simply sit quietly and watch it all unfold in emotional resignation - only to stop themselves at years' end when it comes time to write their dues check, and consign their notices to their shredders?

UPDATE 1/30/2017: 

According to court documents filed by the Grand Lodge in the lawsuit against the Equity Fund investment company, half of their $500,000 loss came out of their Perpetual Membership investment fund. As a result, the loss of investment income will be felt by every lodge under the Grand Lodge of Arkansas in the reduction of payouts from lifetime memberships.

To recap the entire Arkansas saga, here are the pertinent links:

French "Dummies" Author Phillipe Benhamou in Paris 2/25/17

My friend and compatriot in France who collaborated, translated, and greatly expanded that country's version of Freemasons For Dummies (Franc-maçonnerie Pour Les Nuls), Bro. Phillipe Benhamou, is a friendly, funny, and brilliant man who I am in the conflicting position of not being able to sit in the same lodge with under our rules of recognition. He is a longtime member of the Grand Loge de France, which is regular, but unrecognized by the majority of the outside Masonic world. Such is the state of Freemasonry and its own brand of internal and international politics. 

(They are the second largest grand lodge in France, after the irregular Grand Orient de France. GLNF, the one we all are in amity with, is third.) 

Phillipe's job when he wrote the French edition went far beyond a simple translation of what I originally wrote (which has been done in Germany). My version primarily concentrated on Freemasonry as it functions in the U.S., and to a lesser extent, in the British Isles. But the French Masonic landscape is hugely complex and very different from us, for a variety of cultural, historic, and political reasons. The result is now three major grand governing bodies of lodges in that country, along with another ten or more minor ones of enough popularity to at least mention. Plus the various appendant bodies attached to all of them. Additionally, at least 20% of the Masons in France are women, and the Order of the Eastern Star is unknown there (female and mixed lodges have been at work in France since about 1740, in case anybody thinks there's anything particularly "new" about it). 

Wiley Publishing's French partner for the Dummies series wanted a book that would appeal to all of the Masons in that country, along with the skeptics and non-Masons. So, the book Phillipe crafted is obviously very different from mine, and he faced an even more daunting task than I did. Unfortunately, it is often passed up by Masons there who would enjoy and benefit from it because they just assume it was written by a non-Mason, or an anti-Mason with a grudge. Most French readers have been surprised to find out he is indeed a member, after all. Interestingly, the publisher there has created a couple of different versions, including an expanded illustrated edition with many color photographs.

While he is occasionally featured on radio and elsewhere, Phillipe doesn't usually traipse the countryside making speeches to any lodge that will feed him the way I have over the years, so a public event with him is pretty rare. 

He will be speaking on Saturday, February 25th, 2017 at 2:00PM in the beautiful temple of the Grande Loge de France in Paris at 8 rue de Puteaux 75017, mere steps from the Rome Metro station. 

His topic will be "Freemasonry: What Good is It?" and I suspect he will be shamelessly hawking books and signing them for those who show up with their own copies. (Phillipe is also a novelist, along with his actual vocation as a scientist in the French space program.) His presentation is a part of the GLdF's Condorcet-Brossolette lecture series for the general public that discusses the role of Masonry in modern society by inviting a variety of speakers from a broad spectrum of viewpoints. The organizers are asking for attendees to register online HERE.

Levant Preceptory at Indiana York Rite Class This Sunday 1/28

Levant Preceptory will present the of the Order of the Temple at Angola Lodge No. 236 in Angola, Indiana this Saturday, January 28th, 2017 for the Grand Master's York Rite Class.

Here is the schedule for the day's events:

Saturday, January 28, 2017
Grand Master’s York Rite Class for Indiana

08:00 AM Registration and Coffee
09:00 AM Royal Arch Degree
10:45 AM Royal Master Degree
11:30 AM Select Master Degree
12:00 PM Lunch 
  1:00 PM Order of the Red Cross 
  1:45 PM Order of Malta (Short Form)
  2:30 PM Order of the Temple

Angola Masonic Lodge
35 S. Public Square
Angola, IN 46703-1926

Driving Directions

Mike Anderson  

Levant Preceptory technically operates under the existing Charter of Raper Commandery No. 1 by authority of both the Grand Commandery of Indiana and the Grand Encampment of the United States, but we draw our volunteer Knights from all over Indiana, and occasionally even surrounding states. We are dedicated to excellence in the performance of the ritual and Indiana's tactics for the conferral of the Order of Temple, in a manner that will have the greatest emotional impact upon the aspirant. We have been invited to perform throughout Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio.
We have no dues or formal structure, aside from choosing our Director of Work and our experienced inspector from within our active ranks. Our fellow Knights are, however, required to provide their own period equipment, which is available from several online resources. We can provide that supply information for you upon request. But far more important, our members are expected to learn their parts to perfection in word, and meaningful, powerful delivery. We adhere to proper Indiana tactics. 
Other groups are appearing all over the country attempting to recreate our success and impact on aspirants by simply buying period costumes. Anybody can buy clothes and props. That is NOT the key to what we do, and never has been since we began in 2007. Costumes are mere stagecraft, and if all a group does is dress differently, but still muddles through degree conferrals, it has achieved nothing meaningful. The true key is setting a consistantly high standard of excellence that will not be compromised, which is why we attract the very best Templar ritualists in the state - some of whom who might have otherwise departed their Commanderies in disappointment. 

If you are committed to that excellence as well, consider taking part in our activities.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

6th UCLA Masonic Conference: 300 Years of Freemasonry 3/4/17

The 6th International Conference at UCLA will be held on Saturday, March 4th, 2017. This year's conference is entitled 300 Years of Freemasonry: Its Meaning as Its Founding and Today.

As part of its collaborative partnership with the history department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the Institute for Masonic Studies presents an annual International Conference on Freemasonry on the UCLA campus. Open to students, historians, and members of the general public, these events seek to educate and inspire scholars of the craft.

Saturday, March 4
8:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.
Grand Horizon Ballroom, UCLA
$30 Conference registration/$20 Optional catered lunch

On June 26, 2017, Freemasons throughout the world will celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding of the first grand lodge in England – considered to be the landmark date from which the fraternity’s origins are measured. Although the values and rituals established by the earliest Masons are still at the heart of Freemasonry, it is an ever-evolving craft that has been inspired and transformed by the societies to which it has expanded as the years passed. Freemasonry has endured for centuries, but it remains a living craft that is handed down from generation to generation of good men seeking a more enlightened existence.
* Explore the foundation of the first grand lodge: Is the 300th anniversary historically accurate, or is the "history" we ascribe to based on legends handed down through the ages?
* Learn how a religious revolution sparked the fraternity's embrace of religious diversity, subjectivity, and rationalism.
* Study the Masonic rites in 18th century France, how they affected candidates, and how these historic ritual experiences reflect upon today's rituals.
* Discover how studying Freemasonry and government in early Mexico may offer insight into Masons' incentives to protect democratic societies.
* Gain a better understanding of how Prince Hall Masonry has come to be recognized throughout most of the United States.
Presenters include:
Said Chaaya, Ph.D. is a historian of the modern Middle East. He is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the UCLA History Department's Freemasonry and Civil Society Program.
Kenneth Loiselle, Ph.D. is a historian of 18th-century France with a particular interest in the history of Freemasonry. Loiselle is an associate professor of history and international studies at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and an affiliated researcher at the Center for the Contemporary and Modern Mediterranean at the University of Nice in France.
Andrew Prescott, Ph.D. is professor of digital humanities at the University of Glasgow. From 2000-2007, he directed the Centre for Research into Freemasonry at the University of Sheffield. He has also served as a librarian and archivist at the University of Wales Lampeter and as head of the Digital Humanities Department at King's College in London.
Cécile Révauger, Ph.D. is professor emeritus of English studies at Bordeaux Montaigne University in France. She is the author of five books which have been translated into multiple languages, including, "Black Freemasonry: From Prince Hall to the Giants of Jazz, Inner Traditions," 2016. She is also the director of "Monde Maçonnique" - a collection on Freemasonry.
María Eugenia Vázquez Semadeni, Ph.D. was a visiting professor at the UCLA History Department from 2010 to 2016. She has published several articles and book chapters on Mexican Freemasonry, the origins of the political party system in Mexico, and the formation of public opinion.
Susan Mitchell Sommers, Ph.D. is professor of history at St Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. She is the author of "Parliamentary Politics of a County and Its Town: General Elections in Suffolk and Ipswich in the 18th Century" (2002) and "Thomas Dunckerley and English Freemasonry" (2012). 

Register at the website HERE.

On the plus side, it's good to see Andrew Prescott and Susan Mitchell Sommers there with their new research that poses new questions and presents uncovered evidence about the founding of the Premier Grand Lodge of England, questioning the 1717 date.

On the negative side, it's disappointing that Cécile Révauger is being given more respectability than she deserves. I've seen and heard her in person with her open, contemptuous dismissal of anyone questioning her unsourced and/or questionable suppositions and conclusions. Her answer when questioned (by a HIGHLY respected, published, and eminently qualified fellow PhD several years ago in Scotland) about an unsupported and just plain wrong statement that formed a portion of her presentation was a dismissive wave of the hand and the sentence, "It is a well known fact." 

Dr. Oscar Alleyne's blistering back and forth exchanges with her in the most recent issue #34 of the Journal of the Masonic Society, following his scathing review in Issue 33, only reinforce my own (admittedly surface) personal observation of her methods. She makes too many superficial, cultural and 'historical' declarations and errors masquerading as sophisticated pronouncements to be taken seriously as a researcher regarding Prince Hall and African-American Freemasonry. Unfortunately, her book will become a future reference for academics for no other reason than the fact that no one else more rigorous or qualified than a white French woman filled the gaping void on the subject of an American, male organization within a minority community, that demands far deeper understanding of a complicated social relationship. That's a damn shame. 

I know this all sounds like jealous or misinformed whinging from a hack who writes For Dummies books, but I've read many of the same resources she has, and the scholars who questioned her have, too. So, while I really wanted to recommend her book, if only out of desperation for a scholarly treatment of the subject, I just can't in good conscience do it, and I am not happy that she's being trotted out for events like this, both in the US and internationally. It would be like me trying to publish a book striving to be the definitive text about the cultural and historical implications, causes, and effects of Laïcité based on what "everybody knows" and reading the Introduction to a Lonely Planet Paris tourist guide book.

Another disappointment is that John Hairston is not included in the lineup for the Conference, in light of his own new documentary research about the formation of Prince Hall Freemasonry. Unlike Révauger, his book really IS rigorous and important. But perhaps the speakers had been set in place before his book came out late last year. And I suspect John doesn't have enough respectable letters after his name for such a tony venue. I CAN recommend his work HERE: Landmarks Of Our Fathers.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Verity Lodge in WA: Freemasonry and Catholicism 1/27

For some odd reason, the last week or so has had more than the usual share of stories come up regarding Freemasonry and Catholicism. As a result, over on Facebook, Brother John Hurst called my attention to a related presentation going on out on the West coast at the end of this month.

On Friday, January 27th, 2017, Verity Lodge 59 in Kent, Washington will host a presentation by WB Vincent DiGiulio: Freemasonry and the Catholic Church - What Caused the Schism? 

Vincent is a Mason and a Catholic, and when he became a member in 1972, he was challenged by his local bishop to find the source of the longstanding dispute between the Church and the fraternity. He was subsequently permitted access to the Vatican Library to research the subject, and self-published his collected historical findings in a book available on Amazon's CreateSpace. (It is a sad side effect of Amazon's print on demand service that such books of any length are expensive, not through greed of the author, but usually just because of the printing process.) In addition to his Masonic membership, he is also a member of the Knights of Columbus. So, papal bulls, canon law, and opinions notwithstanding, he has obviously come to grips with the controversy enough to remain active in the Church and Masonry, and still sleep well at night.

The event at Verity Lodge will begin with a Festive Board at 6:30PM ($10 per person), followed by the Stated Communication at 7:30PM, during which WB DiGiulio's presentation will be made. Visiting Master Masons are welcome to attend. The lodge is located at 805 Smith Street, Kent, Washington. For more details, click the graphic above to enlarge it, or visit the lodge website HERE.

For the most recent scholarship on the Church's official position and current canon law prohibiting Masonic membership by Catholics, please have a look at Deacon John J. McManus' 2009 presentation at Gate City Lodge 2 in Atlanta, Georgia. CLICK HERE.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Ocean Lodge 89 in Spring Lake Heights, NJ

Back in March 2013, I made a whirlwind trip through New York and New Jersey, speaking at three lodges and the Scottish Rite in Bordentown, NJ. One of those lodges was Ocean Lodge 89 in Spring Lake Heights, NJ. Because of the craziness of the evening, I didn't get a chance to take any photos while I was there, and I always regretted that, because it was one of the most strikingly beautiful lodge rooms I've visited. Memory has faded, but I recall that the Master that evening told me that the lodge room was recently remodeled and redecorated by a group of very dedicated brethren, and their hard work showed. 

Fortunately, a brother has posted some photos on Imgur that show the loving care Ocean lodge's members have taken in their building. See them HERE.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Goat Question

 "Suddenly a loud voice exclaimed, ‘Prepare the Goat!’ and a large black and white goat was led forward. This caused me but little fear, as I had often heard that it was part of the ceremony. I was immediately mounted upon him, and told to hold by his horns, but no sooner had my conductors released their hold upon me, than I found myself thrown upon the floor, the goat having precipitated me over his head; at this a general laugh issued from those in the room."

Ah, the standard, dreaded "goat" question.

It came up over the weekend during a conversation with someone who spotted my Masonic jacket in the grocery. And no, I was not stocking up on milk, bread, and toilet paper for the nonexistent, media-hyped "Icepocalypse" that didn't happen. 

We actually have a DeMoulin Brothers & Company mechanical goat specimen at the Masonic Library & Museum of Indiana at Freemasons Hall in downtown Indianapolis, so it was also the subject of comments from the many Masonic visitors we had Saturday. Even plenty of Freemasons wonder just where the Hell this moronic urban myth originated.

I was poking around online tonight and came across my friend William D. Moore's 2007 outstanding article, Riding the Goat: Secrecy, Masculinity, and Fraternal High Jinks in the United States, 1845–1930. Will probably got tired of wondering too, so he went and found out, hopefully laying this damn subject to an exhaustive rest.

Blame the Odd Fellows.
The historical link between fraternal goat riding and witchcraft is troublesome. The mecha- nism by which the concept was transferred from seventeenth-century Europe to nineteenth-century America, if it exists, has not been adequately ex- plicated. Although Thomas A. Foster recently has identified references to sodomy and homoeroticism in an American anti-Masonic satire of the mid- eighteenth century, he does not factor goats into his analysis or indicate that they appear in his sources. Similarly, hoofed and horned ungulates are not featured in the multitude of anti-Masonic writings published in the United States during the 1820s and 1830s. The evangelical and political enemies of early nineteenth-century Freemasonry accused the fraternity of numerous transgressions, but carnality in the form of riding goats did not appear on their lists of indictments.
The anti-Masonic movement of the early nineteenth century had a deleterious effect on fraternal organizations in the United States. Because they were accused of promoting aristocratic and unchris- tian ideals, Masonic lodges all across the country simply stopped meeting. Pressure from evangelicals during these years similarly induced the members of Phi Beta Kappa to transform their organization from a ritual brotherhood into a scholarly society. 
The Odd Fellows, however, who, like the Masons, practiced secret initiation ceremonies, prospered during the 1830s and gained public approval, stat- ure, and membership in the 1840s.23 By 1845, 686 Odd Fellows lodges contained a total membership of 61,853 members and exhibited exponential annual growth. The organization’s success motivated a number of evangelical and radically democratic in- dividuals to publish pamphlets in the second half of the decade decrying what they described as the organization’s sins, errors, and ceremonies.

Anti–Odd Fellow publications of the 1840s con- tain the earliest references to the lodge goat yet located. The anonymous Odd Fellowship Exposed, published in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1845, for example, describes a horrific, if probably inaccurate, initiation process in which the poor candidate’s ce- remonial guides repeatedly utter the menacing phrase ‘‘Secresy [sic] or death.’’ The text of this pamphlet [quoted at the beginning of this post] deserves attention because it provides insight into how the idea of the lodge goat developed over time...
Read the whole article HERE

Then go have a look at the 1916 cartoon, Bobby Bumps Starts a Lodge. All the standard hysterical trigger warnings about cultural stereotypes of the period apply.

(Thanks to the Phoenixmasonry.org online Masonic museum website for hosting the article.)

Friday, January 13, 2017

John Nagy to Speak at Dwight L Smith LOR Saturday 1/14

If you are in proximity to Indianapolis tomorrow, we are well aware of the traditional January "End O' the World" weather predictions that always seem to happen long about now. Yes, we know, this time, freezing rain is predicted across the state in wildly varying guesses. Despite that, this is just a reminder that Indiana's Dwight L. Smith Lodge of Research U.D. will hold it's first 2017 meeting tomorrow, Saturday January 14th at 3PM, following the close of the Grand Lodge of Indiana's annual Founder's Day gathering. 

Just remember, our Founders got to Madison. From places like Vincennes. In January. On horseback. Before roads were built. 

Don't drive in anything truly dangerous, but the meeting is certainly going to be well worth venturing out for - especially since the City is starting the salt trucks before midnight tonight.

The meeting will take place on the second floor of Indiana Freemason Hall located at 525 N. Illinois St., Indianapolis, Indiana 46204.

The speaker will be Bro. "Coach" John S. Nagy, who will present The Craft Unmasked (based on his book of that name):
The Society of Free & Accepted Masons, which is better known to the world as The Freemasons, has been in existence for nearly three centuries. Since their official public beginning, they have spread their Craft to every country on the face of the earth, except for within those territories whose suspicious governments outlaw them. Society members include some of the most powerful men of their time. Yet, most do not know what the origin of the organization truly is or how to accurately describe what its members do.
By applying Masonic forensics to existing Craft evidence, Brother John S. Nagy carefully fossicked through and found long ignored Craft Light. His findings lift away the many masterfully placed masks that have concealed Masonry’s true origin since it first became known to the public.
Through his work, The Craft UNMASKED! - The UNCOMMON ORIGIN of FREEMASONRY and its PRACTICE, John invites you into the cleverly hidden world of Freemasonry and reveals the origin of the Society and what its true Craft is. It is history of which even its members remain blissfully unaware, that is, until now.
The Dwight L. Smith Lodge of Research is a special purpose lodge under dispensation, created by the Grand Lodge of Indiana, F. & A. M., for the purpose of furthering research and interest in the history, customs, and societal impact of the Masonic Fraternity. Our mandate is to study these areas from a worldwide perspective, but with a particular emphasis on how they have impacted the lives of Masons, their families, and the general public in the State of Indiana. From time to time, the Lodge publishes Perlustration, a compendium of its proceedings.

We welcome all Indiana Freemasons with an interest in research to join the Lodge (dues is a paltry $15) and to submit papers for its consideration.

NOTE: Here's a link to the area weather. As of 2PM Friday, they're saying chance for freezing rain here remains very low until Sunday afternoon, and then only 50%.

Happy Friday the 13th

For all of you friggatriskaidekaphobics out there, Happy Friday the 13th.

Tellers of tall tales blame the fear on the Knights Templar, or maybe just on King Philip IV, because the Order was famously arrested all across France on Friday, October 13, 1307. The story of this genesis of the superstition was trotted out as factual in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code
It should be noted that there is actually a second Friday this year that falls on the 13th, and it is, as luck would have it, October 13th, which will mark the 710th anniversary of the Templars' arrests.

Truthfully, fears of the date Friday the 13th don't really appear anywhere in print much before 1907. In fact, the phobia may have been popularized by the 1907 novel  Friday, the Thirteenth by Thomas W. Lawson, about a creepy stockbroker who engineers a panic on Wall Street on a Friday the 13th by playing on superstitious fears of the number 13.

Just to be contrarian, some insist that the proper term for fear of Friday the 13th is 

Paraskevidekatriaphobia was a recent term created in the 1990s by therapist Dr. Donald Dossey for fear of Friday the 13th. But the older term is friggatriskaidekaphobia. Friday is Frigga's day. Frigga was an ancient Scandinavian fertility goddess, analagous to Venus, who was worshipped on the 6th day of the week, so I suppose people have gotten frisky on Fridays for a very long time. Hence the term 'frigging' and its frequent substitution for The Monosyllable. Frigga was pegged as a witch by early Christians, and so the 6th day of the week was referred to as the witches' sabbath.

Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13. Friggatriskaidekaphobia combines frigga with triskaidekaphobia, and first appeared in 1911.

The names of mass murderers Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy all have 13 letters in them, in case you are the kind that worries about such things. And if you are the sort who is really concerned about it, stay the heck away from Sacramento, California, as it contains a street corner at the convergence of 13th Street and 13th Avenue.

For everything you ever wanted to know about Friday the 13th and anything else related to the dreaded number that hotels rarely attach to floors in their elevators, read Nathaniel Lachenmeyer's long out of print 2004 book, Thirteen : the story of the world's most popular superstition.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Pope Wants Knights of Malta Purged of Lurking Freemasons

A story appeared today on the website of Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN Global Catholic Network) that alleges Pope Francis is worried about Freemasons who may have infiltrated the modern-day Catholic lay organization, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (not to be even remotely confused with the Order of Malta conferred in our own Masonic Knights Templar body). 

See Pope ordered Card. Burke to clean out Freemasons from the Knights of Malta

Better known as the Knights of Malta and the very real inheritors of the mantle of the Crusade-era Knights Hospitaller, it is reputedly the the oldest surviving chivalric order in the world. According to the Wikipedia entry (usual disclaimers duly noted and understood), the order today is comprised of "13,500 Knights, Dames and auxiliary members, employs about 25,000 doctors, nurses, auxiliaries and paramedics assisted by 80,000 volunteers in more than 120 countries, assisting children, homeless, handicapped, refugeed, elders, terminally ill and lepers around the world without distinction of ethnicity or religion."

Apparently, the Knights have been rocked by the recent dismissal (or resignation, depending on the source) of its grand chancellor over their distribution of condoms in Africa and elsewhere to prevent the spread of AIDS.

The article by Deacon Nick Donnelly links to a public statement the Pope made in 2015 in which he mentioned Freemasonry only once, and he did not actually link the fraternity to "Satanists." But the article below attempts to make that jump by association and perpetuate the hoary old fables peddled by Leo Taxil in the 1890s. Francis by most accounts is not considered a foolish man, and one wonders why he would credulously repeat the absurd allegation that Freemasons had anything to do with "Satanism." From the actual statement in full context, he didn't really do that. Certainly there have been conflicts between anti-clerical, anti-Catholic Masons - mostly in Europe - but such commentary hasn't happened among U.S. Freemasons since the early 1960s, and then only limited to a single appendant body. Unfortunately, the Church continues the longstanding policy of making no distinction between organizations like the Grand Orient of France, versus regular, recognized Masonic jurisdictions, despite the very well known and well documented differences.

Likewise, the article links to an in-flight interview Francis gave in 2013 in which he only mentioned Masonry a single time, as being allegedly involved in lobbying efforts ("a lobby of masons") regarding social issues. Again, certainly not in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, and virtually any other Anglo-Saxon derived jurisdictions. 

Ultimately, it seems that Nick Donnelly has combed the Pope's statements and speeches over the years, desperately hunting for Masonic references of any kind, and found...two.

It has emerged that during a meeting between Pope Francis and Cardinal Burke in November about the scandal of the Knights of Malta distributing condoms and oral contraceptives in Africa, the Holy Father instructed Cardinal Burke to "clean out" Freemasonry from the order. The Holy Father gave this order to Cardinal Burke in his role as patron of the Knights of Malta by papal appointment. 
The Vatican journalist Edward Pentin revealed details of Pope Francis's concerns about the influence of the Freemasons on the Knights of Malta: 
Hopes that the contraceptive scandal would be addressed came on Nov. 10, when Cardinal Burke was received in private audience by Pope Francis. During that meeting, the Register has learned, the Pope was “deeply disturbed” by what the cardinal told him about the contraceptive distribution. The Pope also made it clear to Cardinal Burke that he wanted Freemasonry “cleaned out” from the order, and he demanded appropriate action. The concern was followed up by a Dec. 1 letter to Cardinal Burke, in which the Register has learned that the Holy Father underlined the cardinal’s constitutional duty to promote the spiritual interests of the order and remove any affiliation with groups or practices that run contrary to the moral law. 
Edward Pentin reports that Pope Francis was “deeply disturbed” by the evidence concerning Malteser International's distribution of condoms and oral contraceptives in the Far East and Africa during the tenure of Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager, a German Knight of Malta.  Boeselager was dismissed as grand chancellor following an internal investigation by the Knights of Malta. It is not clear why Pope Francis specifically identified Freemasonry as a problem in his response to the evidence presented by Cardinal Burke during the November meeting. 
Pope Francis has previously criticized the destructive influence of the Freemasons and their hostility towards the Church. During his address to young people during his apostolic visit to Turin the Holy Father spoke about "Masonic, hardcore anticlericals and Satanists": 
"At the end of the 19th century there were the worst conditions for young people’s development: freemasonry was in full swing, not even the Church could do anything, there were priest haters, there were also Satanists.... It was one of the worst moments and one of the worst places in the history of Italy. However, if you would like to do a nice homework assignment, go and find out how many men and women saints were born during that time. Why? Because they realized that they had to go against the tide with respect to the culture, to that lifestyle."
It was during his in-flight press interview in July 2013 that Pope Francis first expressed his concerns about the influence of Freemasons on the Church: 
“The problem is not having this [homosexual] orientation. No, we must be brothers and sisters. The problem is lobbying for this orientation, or lobbies of greed, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the most serious problem for me." 
2017 marks the 300th anniversary of the foundation of Freemasonry with the establishment of the first Grand Lodge in London. It is important for Catholics to remember that Freemasonry has a history of plotting against the Catholic Church. During the 200th anniversary of the foundation of Freemasonry St Maximilian Kolbe witnessed Freemason conduct sacrilegious demonstrations in Rome.  In front of St. Peter's Freemasons displayed banners declaring, "Satan must reign in the Vatican. The Pope will be his slave". St Maximilian Kolbe summed up the objectives of Freemasonry: 
"In particular, it aims to destroy the Catholic religion. Their deceits have been spread throughout the world, in different disguises. But with the same goal -- religious indifference and weakening of moral forces, according to their basic principle -- 'we will conquer the Catholic Church not by argumentation, but rather with moral corruption'." (Kolbe -- Saint of the Immaculata, p. 32). 
It is important that during the 300th anniversary of the foundation of Freemasonry that Catholics pay heed to Pope Francis's warnings about the continuing dangerous influence of Freemasonry on the Church.
Donnelley quoting the writings of St. Maximilian Kolbe is a pretty disingenuous attempt to shield his ending Comment from criticism, as Fr. Kolbe was beatified, and subsequently canonized, for being martyred in Auschwitz during WWII. He is famously known for sacrificing his own life to save a fellow prisoner from death by volunteering to take the man's place, and was starved to death. It was unarguably a selfless demonstration of his deep devotion to his own faith and principles. However, his newspaper articles before the war in the 1920s and 30s have been severely criticized as both anti-semetic and anti-Masonic, which referred to the spread of communism as part of a Masonic conspiracy by Zionists to take over the world. Scholars of Holocaust era propaganda and publishing differ in their opinions, with many simply acknowledging that Polish society at the time quite openly accepted the claims made by the fraudulent Protocols of the Elders of Zion. There is certainly great difficulty separating his conflicting written words from his ultimate personal deeds.

Yes, there are plenty of Catholic Masons in the world. Yes, almost all of them fully realize that Rome's official stance is that such Catholic members are in a "state of grave sin." They also almost entirely understand the flawed reasons for that pronouncement and know there are no conflicts with the faith in their jurisdictions. And they are all aware that Freemasonry is not a monolithic organization, and has not been since it began. The Vatican - or certainly Donnelley - never seem to acknowledge that when making sweeping statements (or encyclicals) about "Freemasons." Masonry has had its share of schisms over the years, but in that regard, in comparison to Catholicism, we're mere pikers.

For the brethren who sent me links to this story today who are afraid Pope Francis has some sudden excitement about pestering Catholic Masons, it should be noted that Donnelley runs his own website called Church Militant. He is based in the diocese of Lancaster, England. So he knows darn good and well the difference between truly anti-Catholic Masons (almost entirely from decades, or over a century ago) who are regarded as irregular and unrecognized, versus the garden variety he finds in Lancaster and the rest of his nation - in fact in all of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, even if he doesn't get to the continent very often. But he obviously has his own agenda to promote, as a search of his site today returned 171 results for the word freemasonry.  

As an aside, if you really desire a slightly more detailed approach to the current scandals about the Knights of Malta and the condom controversy than Deacon Donnelley's (and their mission to save lives first as a matter of priority, instead of strictly following dogma to save souls), try the National Catholic Register HERE. 

UPDATE 1/15/2017:

Wow. Donnelley is on a tear. I have a feeling as we go through the 300th anniversary of UGLE this year he's going to be increasingly shrill. Here's his followup post from Friday on EWTN:

Will Freemasonry's 300th anniversary be as violently anti-Catholic as 1917?

He quotes Kolbe again, who claimed in 1939 that Freemasonry's motto is or was, "Destroy all religion, whatever it may be, especially the Catholic religion.''  

Saint or not, Kolbe swallowed the Taxil hoax top to bottom, four decades after the guy's open confession, and kept perpetuating it, along with the standard crap from the Protocols. If you're going to try to take a swipe at Masons, Kolbe isn't really the guy to use to do it with. He regularly broadsided Jews and Masons in print and in person - right up until the Gestapo hurled him into Auschwitz for being a Catholic. Yes, his death was true martyrdom, but Kolbe was the very embodiment of Niemöller's commentary, "First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Socialist..."

Donnelley also goes on to quote a large excerpt from an anti-Masonic booklet by Fr. Ashley Beck, who lays out why he believes Freemasonry is "incompatible" with Catholicism. Nothing really new. Just the standard canards that if Masonic lodge rituals and ceremonies are not specifically and overtly Christian, they must therefore be anti-Christian.

Masonic lodges are NOT churches, nor do they pretend to be. They are spiritual neutral ground, and we leave a man's faith to himself. All we ask is that he has some in a higher power. How he chooses to conceptualize or commune with that God is his business, not ours.

I'm seriously not wanting to shine a bigger light on Donnelley's posts than he deserves, and I'm not going to keep doing it and sending traffic his way. It's just two coming in one week of the new year that made him pop up on the radar. It's just worth it for us to stay aware of the kind of stuff being circulated and targeted to Catholics who are our members, or those who may be considering petitioning.