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


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Animus Over Amity


Back in November I posted information promoting Amity, a smartphone app designed to make traveling simpler for Freemasons all across the world. In the wake of the persistent rumors that Pantagraph Printing was planning on discontinuing publication of its annual  List of Lodges Masonic (which I stress that it has NOT yet done), the Amity app seems like the most logical progression for ease of checking regularity and amity between grand lodge jurisdictions - especially since the vast majority of the world is carrying around a smartphone in their pockets these days. Unlike Pantagraph, the Amity app now has data on almost 37,000 lodges across 285 grand jurisdictions, covering just about every country in the world. Currently, there are Masons using Amity from about 2,500 Lodges, which cover 164 grand lodges and 70+ countries. This represents a herculean effort on the part of the two Masons who have created it.

One of the most vital elements of the Amity app is cooperation of grand lodges and grand secretaries in keeping information up to date, and for verifying that each and every user of the app is a member of their jurisdiction. Grand jurisdictions have cooperated with Pantagraph for decades, which is what made their annual List so invaluable. Despite that Amity is offered free of charge to all Masons and jurisdictions, charges no fees for enrollment of any kind, and its two original founders created it entirely without any outside help (or salaries, while working other full-time jobs), as we all know, no good deed ever goes unpunished.

Sadly, it seems that with so many grand secretaries in the world, someone was bound to object and cause a problem.

This past weekend at the Northeast Conference, MW Carl B. Willi, the Grand Secretary of Rhode Island, made the completely unfounded, unjustified, and false accusation that Amity and its creators are somehow selling or otherwise exploiting private information of Masons, and doing something improper with membership lists. He has apparently withdrawn any support of the Amity app in his state and un-verified their members, and I am being told that he has also sent messages to other jurisdictions now in an effort to convince other grand secretaries to follow his lead. He then followed this with an email sent to Masons in Rhode Island, which was forwarded to me anonymously:

(Click to enlarge)

I have no connection to Copiri software or to the developers, but I am an enthusiastic supporter of the Amity app nevertheless. I had long conversations with Michael Radigan and Jeremy Barnes back in November and asked many questions that addressed these very issues. Further, they were interviewed on several Masonic podcasts, and were quite open and consistent in their explanations about what data they were and were not using, how it was being used by them, and in their emphatic assurances that they were not monetizing the information in any way. I was - and remain - fully satisfied by their privacy assurances and policies. They have also been honest about how they hope to eventually monetize certain VERY LIMITED aspects of the software. 

Consequently, I do not believe Copiri Software or its two partners are doing anything improper with the small amount of information they are in possession of. And most important, they are not, and never have been, in possession of or been granted access to ANY grand lodge’s database of members. They do NOT have access to MORI, GrandView, or any other Masonic database systems, in any way. Amity does not compete with those systems, either. They simply provide each grand secretary with access to a secure web portal, and request a simple yes or no verification as to each of their members' current membership status. This type of verification was always done from the start in order to PROTECT lodges and individual Masons from outsiders and to ENSURE their privacy.

But what concerns me most of all is that GS Willi didn’t even bother to contact Copiri software’s partners (who are both Masons) and even confirm his accusations before smearing their business and reputations by making these allegations publicly and acting upon them.

In answer to this situation Copiri has sent the following message to all now-formerly verified Masons using Amity in Rhode Island:

My Brother, 
It has come to our attention that false rumors are being spread about Amity and how we handle your personal data. Because of the seriousness of these allegations, and the levels at which they have been repeated, we have decided to take the unusual step of sending you this message. Thank you for your understanding as we navigate this unexpected situation.

Please know that the following points are true: 
1. The Amity Team has never, and will never, ask a Grand Lodge (or a Grand Lodge's management system vendor) for their membership data. Similarly, we have never and will never ask to purchase such data. We're clear about this because...
2. We will never provide your personal data to others. Our Privacy Policy has been clear about this since Amity started: our baseline policy is that we do not disclose PII to anyone. We don’t rent it, we don’t sell it, and we don’t give it away.
3. Amity generates revenue by creating a marketplace where Masons can buy things from one another, and by charging transaction fees when that happens (like we do with MSA's Short Talk Bulletin). We've also been clear about this for years, and if you'd like to hear more just check out the podcasts we've appeared on: X-Oriente, Fort Worth Lodge #148, and Whence Came You?.
We will not speculate on the source of these rumors, but we value the trust you've placed in us and we want you to know that your trust is well founded. We are evaluating what other actions to take, and in the interim we welcome the opportunity to respond to any questions that you may have. Just respond to this message, and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Sincerely and Fraternally,Jeremy and MichaelThe Amity Team

As for myself, I continue to support Amity’s use, and I strongly take issue with the allegations being made, just as a matter of principle. I hope this is the end of any “controversy” and that MW Willi reconsiders his position and actions. And I CERTAINLY hope that no other jurisdiction follows his lead. This app is a tool that Masons all over the world can benefit from, and the creators have offered it to the fraternity without any possibility of it being a commercial revenue generator. After dedicating hundreds of developmental and administrative hours to its creation, we all owe them our gratitude, not trumped up accusations or imaginary horribles.

Because they are Masons who are versed in the practices of the fraternity, the Copiri partners went out of their way to design the app in such a sway to protect its users and grand jurisdictions by going the extra mile and requiring member verification. Perhaps what is really going on is that the Rhode Island GS office finds this requirement to be unduly time consuming (it's not), or simply an annoyance, even though it is to their own advantage and for their own good.

Pantagraph has been rumored to be going away for years now, and no national body like MSA or the COGMMNA wants to step up to the plate and fill that void. (That said, Pantagraph is now calling for updated information for their 2019 edition so they still appear to be continuing next year - rumors of its death have continued to be premature.) These two brethren did this on their own and pulled off a major accomplishment with their app. Right now, Amity is the ONLY reputable source of current Prince Hall jurisdictions and lodges - and comprehensive recognition status - in more than a handful of states, which is problematic when sojourning Masons seek to travel. While every Mason should arrange their travels in advance through their own Grand Secretary's office, we all know that isn't how things work in the practical world. And very few individual Masons carry around a Pantagraph List in their apron cases.

Moreover, the future of the fraternity's administration gets more digital every day, not less. Every grand jurisdiction should be actively and gratefully promoting Amity and updating their information regularly. Instead, I fear that everyone will dither until Pantagraph eventually stops publishing their directory, and then a flurry of half-baked substitutes will hurriedly pop up while everyone argues that it doesn't do things 'the right way.' The result will be chaos, less traveling, and more confusion over regularity and recognition, without any cooperation. That's not good for the fraternity if we can’t even manage to administer our lists of recognition. 

Not good, but sadly all too typical.

To read more about Amity, visit their website HERE. It is available as a free download for both Apple IOS and Android. If you use it and find it helpful, please consider dropping a note to your Grand Secretary and encourage his ongoing support. And if your grand jurisdiction is not currently supported, urge yours to do so.

Frankly if I had my way, Amity would become an international standard that COGMMNA and PHCOGM and international groups fully adopt, so these questions and issues can be addressed far more easily and quickly. It would also vastly improve the ability of the Commission on Information for Recognition to do its work. Perhaps the work the Amity guys are doing on their own needs to be adopted and placed under the protective wing of the MSA, at least on this side of the hemisphere. MSA could at least encourage cooperation and compliance with updating info far, far better two brethren trying to do this on their own.

In the end, I honestly don't care who comes up with a solution. Amity was first and did it well, so good for them. And they aren't even making a dime off the thing. Why are folks obsessive about finding fault with it now, instead of helping them improve it? No, let's just hound them out of bothering at all.

How Masonic.

UPDATE 8/4/2018:

Amity has sent the following official message and enclosures to Grand Secretaries this week in response to this situation:
Brothers Grand Secretary,

Please find attached Amity's official statement on the allegations made at last weekend's Northeast Masonic Conference, which you are welcome to share as you see fit. We have spoken with many of you over the course of this week, and appreciate the counsel that you have provided over the course of this unexpected situation.

We are committed to supporting the membership of your Grand Lodge, and to working with you to do so in the best manner possible. Your trust in Amity is our priority -- please reach out to Michael or to me if you have any questions or concerns, whether about the attachments specifically or about Amity in general. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely and Fraternally,
Jeremy Barnes and Michael Radigan
The Amity Team


Saturday, July 28, 2018

Local English Council Fails to Pass Anti-Freemason Policy

For the last year or so, English Freemasons have enjoyed greater public visibility owing to the 300th anniversary of the 1717 founding of the premiere Grand Lodge. But on the heels of that visibility, out has popped a resurgence of anti-Masonic messaging across England in several government venues that had largely died down over the last dozen or so years. In contrast with earlier strategies of refusing to answer or confront critics, the United Grand Lodge of England has been fighting back with the #EnoughIsEnough campaign.

That hasn't dissuaded various bureaucrats from singling out Freemasons in government as being somehow nefarious, or at least worthy of having their membership publicly declared. The implication is that there is something suspicious about Freemasonry above any other social, political, religious or cultural organization. The problem, as many Masons around the world outside of the U.S. are well aware, is that public declaration of their membership only winds up being used to discriminate against them by anti-Masons. Plus, such policies violate the EU's Human Rights Act because they single out Freemasonry alone for such requirements. The fraternity is a non-sectarian, non-political, voluntary association, and Masonic membership is perfectly legal in England. Therefore, attempting to figuratively brand politicians or government workers with a scarlet square and compass as though there is anything wrong with Masonic membership — solely because of their membership — is demonstrably illegal, throughout the U.K. and Europe.

The County of Norfolk's governing Council is the latest to attempt to 'out' Freemasons in a purported crusade for "transparency" in government. On Monday this week, Labour Party councilor Mike Smith-Clare proposed a policy forcing any sitting Masons on the Norfolk Council to declare their membership publicly, singling the fraternity out specifically. The proposal was made despite the fact that the UGLE's legal counsel Andrew Proctor notified the Council that such a requirement "would be unlawful." 

The result of the motion being made on Monday wasn't what the Labour members had hoped for.

From an article on the Eastern Daily News site by Dan Grimmer, 'Labour in mass walk-out as Freemasons vote is 'wrecked'':

Labour councillors left a Norfolk County Council meeting en masse after accusing the Conservatives of “wrecking” a motion calling for councillors to have to declare if they are freemasons.

Labour’s Mike Smith-Clare had tabled a motion calling for members who are freemasons to have to declare it on their register of interests. Freemasons on Suffolk County Council already have to do that.
Mr Smith-Clare said: “The motion is neither controversial or contentious.
“It’s an honest attempt to promote accountability, openness and transparency amongst us. 
“It represents an opportunity for a declaration in line with public expectation to avoid any future potential conflicts of interest.” 
Conservative Ron Hanton said he was a freemason and proud to be one.
But he said the motion discriminated against freemasons, questioning why it was not seeking for councillors to declare themselves as members of, for example, rotary clubs, the round table or of trade unions.
Fellow Tory Tom Garrod, who is also a freemason tabled an amendment to the motion. 
It removed all reference to freemasons and instead asked the standards committee to review the code of conduct to ensure members operate within a framework of accountability and transparency. 
Conservative Stuart Dark said he was concerned the implication of singling out freemasons was that there was something wrong with being a member of that organisation and made reference to the Human Rights Act. 
That angered Labour deputy leader Emma Corlett, who said it was rich of the Conservatives to talk about that when there are cuts to social care.
She accused the Conservative amendment of being a “wrecking motion” and said it was a “shambles”.
All Labour councillors then walked out of the council chamber.
In their absence Conservative Bill Borrett said he thought people would like to know which Labour councillors were members of Momentum.*
The Conservative amendment was passed, with Tory Tom FitzPatrick saying it made sense for the issue to be looked at by the standards committee.
Labour did not return for the rest of the meeting.
Suffolk County Council asks for all groups to be declared, which is not limited to the freemasons. They ask for declarations of interests in regards to many things, such as bowls clubs or even charity organisations such as St John Ambulance.

(*NOTE: 'Momentum' is a left-wing political activist sub-group within the Labour Party that is supportive of Jeremy Corbin.)

The United Grand Lodge of England has given guidance to members on this subject before. From an open letter to UGLE's Proctor and published in a previous article on the same site, Donald Taylor wrote, 
“Freemasons are welcome to disclose their membership voluntarily and are obliged to disclose their membership where a specific conflict of interest could arise. 
“However, the proposed motion if passed would impose an unlawfully wide obligation on Freemasons.
“The United Grand Lodge of England encourages Freemasons to acknowledge their membership, but advises them that they are not obliged to comply with unlawful disclosure requirements.”

Friday, July 27, 2018

David Lee Hargett, Jr. Passes Away

Longtime friend and Brother David Lee Hargett, Jr. passed away Thursday morning at the age of 79. David was well known throughout the fraternity, especially in the Scottish Rite and numerous York Rite-related appendant bodies. The Masonic honors and offices held throughout his lifetime are too numerous for me to accurately ascertain, but if you regularly attended AMD/Masonic Week each February, or went to the annual Great Smokies Summer Assembly of York Rite Masons in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, you undoubtedly knew him. 

David's Masonic biography reads like an entire lodge full of active men.

Although suffering from cancer and in rapidly failing health, David was nevertheless at Maggie Valley earlier this month, and it was openly understood by those who attended that he was there to say one last farewell to his brethren.

For those who knew him, David was a patient and kind mentor who inspired so many others to emulate his example. That soft-spoken kindness was coupled with an uncompromising level of standards and expectations, an unsurpassed enthusiasm for the fraternity, and an eternally questing mind. David spent his life always seeking greater knowledge, always making greater and deeper friendships, and always building for those who followed.

David's official obituary has not been published as of Thursday night, and I will update this post here when it is available with his funeral arrangements. In the meantime, I want to post his Masonic biography from 2011 when he was elected as Grand Sovereign of the York Rite Sovereign College. So many of our members lament that they just don't have time to attend or help out in their lodge or their appendant group - bear in mind this was written seven years ago when David was 72, and he continued to be an active participant throughout the fraternity long after the following biography was written:
David L. Hargett, Jr., was born June 23, 1939 in Monroe, North Carolina to Helen Williams and David Lee Hargett, Sr. He was educated in the Monroe City Schools and later at The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, Wingate College, Central Piedmont Community College and North Carolina State University. He married Robin Thames and they have two sons, Joey Hargett and Jeff Hargett and five grandchildren. 
He is a member of the Junior Order of United American Mechanics - Awarded the Certificate of Merit. He also taught management classes in “Controlling Employee Turnover and Absenteeism,” “Human Relations and Motivation,” and “Job Instructor Training” for the Educational Foundation of the University of North Carolina. 
Grand Sovereign Hargett is a life member and Past Master of Monroe Lodge No. 244 in Monroe, North Carolina. He received the Mason of the Year award in 1995. He is a founder and Charter Life Member of Truth Lodge No. 749. He has served as District Deputy Grand Master for the 39th District of North Carolina and was the Grand Lodge of North Carolina representative to the Masonic Service Association in 2000. He received the title Knight Commander of the Order of the Temple of Solomon from the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina for distinguished Masonic service and achievement. He also received the Joseph Montford Medal for Meritorious Service in 2000. He has served as a member of the Long Range Planning Committee of the Oxford Orphanage in North Carolina and also on the Committee on Masonic Ceremonies and Miscellaneous Publications. He received the twenty-five year Service Award also from the Grand Lodge of North Carolina. He was elected to the Grand Lodge Committee on Finance 2005-2007. He is the Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Vermont near the Grand Lodge of North Carolina. He is also a member of A. Douglas Smith, Jr. Lodge of Research No. 1949 in Virginia. He delivered the W.B. Jack Ball Lecture to Albert Pike Lodge No 1169 in San Antonio Texas and was awarded the Sam Houston Medal by the Grand Lodge of Texas A.F.& A.M., the highest award given by The Grand Lodge of Texas. 
In the Royal Arch Chapter, Grand Sovereign Hargett is life member and Past High Priest of Monroe Chapter No. 64, Royal Arch Masons. He is a Past President of the Order of High Priesthood in North Carolina and holds honorary membership in thirteen Chapters. He holds the Certificate of Appreciation for Faithful Service and Exceptional Dedication to2the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of North Carolina. He is PHP of Mount Ararat Research Chapter No. 3 and Grand Representative to the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Colorado. He has also received the Certificate of Commendation for Contribution for Faithful Service and Exceptional Dedication to the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of North Carolina. He is PHP of Mount Ararat Research Chapter No. 3 and Grand Representative to the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Colorado. He has also received the Certificate of Commendation for Contribution and Dedication from the General Grand Chapter, Royal Arch Masons International. Grand Sovereign Hargett is a life member and Illustrious Past Master of Solomon of the Silver Trowel Council No. 24, Royal and Select Masters and a member of Lenoir Council No. 38 and Roanoke Council No. 1 over which he also presided. He holds honorary membership in eleven other Councils. He has received the Honorable Order of Ish-Sodi from both North and South Carolina and the Simmons Jones Baker Medal for Outstanding Service to the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of North Carolina. He is an honorary life member of the Association of Southern Grand Masters of the Cryptic Rite and is Grand Representative to the to the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of Vermont. He received the Meritorious Service Award from the General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons International and the Cryptic Mason of the Year Award from the General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons International in 1999. He was made an Honorary Member of Grafton Council of Anointed Kings No. 16 of the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of England and Wales and its Districts and Councils Overseas on November 22, 2010. In Commandery, he is a life member and Past Commander of Malta Commandery No. 19, Knights Templar and is a Past Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of North Carolina. 
He is a Life Sponsor and a member of the Grand Master’s Club of the Knights Templar Eye Foundation. He served as President of the Southern Breakfast Association 1992-1994; Chairman of the Finance and Budget Committee and as Chairman of the Leadership Development Committee of the Grand York Rite in North Carolina. He also served on the Committee on Charters and Dispensations of the Grand Encampment, Knights Templar of the USA, 1992 – 1994 and on the Committee on Foreign Relations 2006 – 2012. He was Southeast Department Commander for the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the USA, 1994 – 1997. He holds the distinction of Knight Crusader of the Cross, as Knight Commander of the Temple, and as Knight Grand Cross of the Temple and Knight Commander of the East, 1994. He is an honorary member of 14 Commanderies. 
He has served as Preceptor of Sovereign Grand Preceptor’s Chapter of the Sovereign Order of Knights Preceptor, is Past Sovereign Grand Preceptor of Grand Chapter and belongs to the Preceptories in Virginia and Maryland. He is the Grand Representative to the Grand Commanderies of Knights Templar of the State of Iowa and the State of Texas. In the Knights of the York Cross of Honour, Grand Sovereign Hargett is Past Prior and current Registrar of Lily of the Valley Priory No. 1. He holds honorary membership in four priories. He is Past Grand Master General of Convent General, Knights of the York Cross of Honour, serves on the Committee on History and Publications and is Knight Grand Cross. 
In the York Rite College, Grand Sovereign Hargett is a charter member and Past Governor of Western Carolina York Rite College No. 78. He has served as Deputy Grand Governor and Grand Governor in North Carolina. He received the Order of the Purple Cross in 1985 and was President of the Associate Regents Council 1993-1994. He served the York Rite Sovereign College of North America as Standard Bearer and Marshal General (1996-1998.) He was elected to the Board of Directors in 1998 and was Vice President of the USA Charitable Fund 1998-1999. He holds the Athelstan Jewel with one silver pentagon. He was elected a Regent of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America and holds honorary membership in fifteen Colleges. He has received the rank and decorations of Knight Commander of the Purple Cross and the Grand Cross of York. He served as Governor General of the York Rite Sovereign 3 College of North America 2002-2004. He currently serves as Chairman of the York Rite Sovereign College Committee on Finance and Budget. Purple Cross and the Grand Cross of York. He served as Governor General of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America 2002-2004. He currently serves as Chairman of the York Rite Sovereign College Committee on Finance and Budget. He is an honorary member of the Grand York Rite Bodies of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia. He holds honorary membership in the DeMolay Legion of Honor. Grand Sovereign Hargett is a Past Excellent Chief of St. Patrick’s in America Council No. 1, Knight Masons of the USA. He served on the Board of General Purposes, Grand Council of Knight Masons USA, 1996– 2004 and was appointed to the Investment Committee of the Grand Council of the USA in 2001. He is currently serving as Grand Junior Knight of the Grand Council of Knight Masons of the USA. 
In the Allied Masonic Degrees Grand Sovereign Hargett is a life member and Past Sovereign Master of St. Andrews in America Council No. 1A. He also holds life memberships in J. Ray Shute Council No. 184, Anson Council No. 202, J. Allen Suther Council No. 377 and is a charter member of Horry Council No. 433. He holds honorary memberships in five additional councils. He is Past Commander Noah in St. Andrews in America No. 1A Royal Ark Mariners Lodge and a member of Howell No. 3A Royal Ark Mariners Lodge. He is a past president of the North Carolina Association of Allied Masonic Degrees and holds the title of District Expert Master of the First District of North Carolina from the Supreme Quarry of the World, Masons of Tyre. Grand Sovereign Hargett served the Grand Council, Allied Masonic Degrees of the USA as Most Venerable Sovereign Grand Master and was appointed Grand Representative to the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees of Canada in 2000. He holds the distinction of Knight Grand Cross of the Order. As such he is Past Grand Supreme Ruler of the Grand Conclave of the Order of the Secret Monitor or the Brotherhood of David and Jonathan in the USA and is a member of the Grand Conclave of the Order of the Secret Monitor or the Brotherhood of David and Jonathan in the British Isles and its Districts and Conclaves Overseas – he was inducted and received into the Order in Summus Conclave No. 3 and admitted a Prince of the Order. He presided over the Red Branch of Eri and was awarded the title of Past Most Enlightened Grand Master and Knight Supreme Grand Cross. He is a Past Grand Bung for the Americas of the Ancient Order of Corks and Past Commander General of the Masonic Order of the Bath in the USA. He holds the Degree of Knight Priest of the Order of Holy Wisdom. He is one of the Nine Muses, elected in 2004 and served as Sovereign Master in 2010-2011.  
In the Masonic Order of Athelstan for England, Wales and its Provinces Overseas, he was admitted and installed December 18, 2008 in the Province of Hwicce at Watling Street Court No. 3 in England. He consecrated and constituted The Provincial Grand Court of the United States of America and was Installed as Very Worshipful Deputy Provincial Grand Master on February 9, 2011 and awarded Grand Rank (Grand Sword Bearer) by M.W. Michael Henry Roalfe, Grand Master. He consecrated and constituted the North Carolina Court No. 73 on February 9, 2011. He became a member of the Royal Order of Masonic Knights of the Scarlet Cord in the UK on November 12, 2008: 1st Degree 2nd Degree Obligated, entrusted, and Invested an Ostiarius or Door-keeper 4 Invested a Lector or One of the Eleven Elected. Chosen and Further Invested as a Healer and One of the Nine Elected. 2nd Degree Invested a Lector or One of the Eleven Elected. Chosen and Further Invested as a Healer and One of the Nine Elected. 3rd Degree Chosen and Promoted to Fellow of the Scarlet Cord and Elevated to the Rank of Exorcist February 13, 2010. He has received the President’s Degree On November 22, 2010 he was also elected to membership in Grafton Council of Anointed Kings No. 16 at Mark Masons Hall in London, England. 
He is a member of the Sirius Study Circle that meets at The Masonic Hall on Grove Road, Sutton, UK. He holds the Royal Order of Zanzibar and is a member of the Grand Lounge of North Carolina and the Grand Lounge of Florida. In the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite he is Past Venerable Master of the Lodge of Perfection in the Valley of Charlotte, Orient of North Carolina. He received the 32nd Degree on April 30, 1970 and is a Knight Commander of the Court of Honour. Grand Sovereign Hargett is a honorary life member and permanent life member of the Provincial Grand Lodge of the Royal Order of Scotland for the United States of America. 
In the Shriners he is a Noble of Oasis Shriners of Charlotte, North Carolina and a member of the Past Masters’ Unit and Hillbilly Clans No. 2 and No. 3. He is a member of the “Replace Yourself with One” membership program for the Imperial Council of the Shrine. In the Grand College of Rites, Grand Sovereign Hargett received the Knight Grand Cross of the order in 2004. He served as Grand Redactor in 2008, Grand Prelate in 2009-2010 and is Grand Senior Vice Chancellor in 2011. In the Red Cross of Constantine, Grand Sovereign Hargett was installed in St. Titus Conclave in 1986 and served as its Sovereign in 2002. He served as Intendant General for North Carolina and was elected and installed as Grand Sovereign on June 11, 2011 in Boise, Idaho. He holds the Knight Grand Cross of the Order. 
In the SRICF he is Chief Adept of North Carolina College, holds the IXth Grade and serves the High Council for the USA as its Preceptor. Grand Sovereign Hargett is a member and Past Preceptor of Holy Sepulchre Tabernacle No. III Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests and received the rank and decoration of Knight Commander. He is Grand 5th Pillar for the Grand College of America, HRAKTP. 
He is a member of the South Carolina Lodge of Research, The Scottish Rite Research Society, The Philalethes Society and is the North Carolina local secretary for Quatuor Coronati Lodge of Research No. 2076. 5 Grand Sovereign Hargett is a member and Past Patron of Monroe Chapter No. 113, Order of the Eastern Star and received the Rob Morris Membership Jewel. He served as a District Deputy Grand Patron of the 18th District in North Carolina and is an honorary member of eight other chapters. He became a member of Blackheethe Chapter, T.I. Order of St. Thomas of Acon February 17, 2000 and was a charter member and founder of Trinity Chapter No. 112 in the United States and also a charter member and founder of Shute Chapter No. 53 in Monroe, North Carolina. He is a Past Worthy Master and currently serves as Provincial Grand Marshal of the Provincial Grand Council, USA. He is also a founder and Cellarer of Pride in Surrey Chapel No. 93 in the United Kingdom. 
Grand Sovereign Hargett is a Knight in the Chevaliers Bienfaisants De La Cite Sainte (Knights Beneficent of the Holy City.) He has been invested with the Supreme Grade of the Order and serves as Prefect of the Southeast Prefecture. He also belongs to the Grand Priory of Knights Beneficent of the Holy City of the Rectified Scottish Rite of England and Wales where he was made a member of St. James Priory No. 3 at Mark Masons Hall in London, December 18,2009. He received the Professed and The Grand Professed Knight Orders of the CBCS and received the Laying on of hands October 9, 2010 in Newark, NJ. In other bodies, Grand Sovereign Hargett is a member of the Grand Order of the IMPS; a member of the Military Order of the Garter and the Order of the Golden Poppy. He was somewhat embarrassingly presented the Drowning Bear Award by the Nantahala Survivors. 
He was inducted into the George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey Water Conservation Society in Recognition of a Unique, Tall Walking, Smooth Talking, Mastery of the Fine Art of “Going With The Flow.” He is a lifetime member of the Sour Mash Quaff and Quote Consanguinity, Elijah Craig Chapter No. 1. He was made a Tennessee Squire and Life Member of the “Society for the Preservation of Early American Art” Tennessee Type. 
In the esoteric orders he is a member of the Oriental Masonic Order of the Primitive & Rectified Rite of Memphis Misraim, having received the 33rd thru the 95th Degrees September 11, 2009 in Sutton, England. In the Order of Isis he is a member of Urania Temple. His record in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is as follows 0=0 Grade of Neophyte October 22, 2005 December 18, 2005 December 9, 2006 September 27, 2008 December 5, 2009 February 28, 2010 1 = 10 Grade of Zelator 2=9 3=8 4=7 Grade of Theoricus Grade of Practicus Grade of Philosophus Portal Ceremony Received as an Adeptus Minor in the Order of the Rose Cross Grade 5=6 April 10, 2011. In the Martinist Order of Unknown Philosophers his record is as follows: Associate Degree Initiate Degree Unknown Superior Degree October 21, 2005 6December 18, 2005 December 19, 2005 Initiate Degree Unknown Superior Degree Unknown Superior Initiator In the Unknown Philosophers (Elus Kohen): December 18, 2005 December 19, 2005 December 19, 2006 Chevillion – Chambellant. Affiliation: Temple of Florida 1st Degree thru 7th Degree 8th Degree – Elect Master Kohen 9th Degree – Knight of the East 10th Degree – Reaux Croix (Parvis and Porch Class) (Grand Architect)September 4, 2009 (Temple Class) (Grand Elect of Zorobabel)December 8, 2009 (Temple Class) March 14,2010 at Sutton, UK He received Charter for Hermes - Hiram Chapter of Unknown Philosophers. 
In the Hermetic Order of Martinists he was invested by the Grand Master of the World (Christopher Hatton) on November 11, 2008 as Superior Inconnu S:I:I with the ability to act within the dictates of his conscience. Received into the Hermetic Chapter of the Martinist Order of Spiritual Knights in the UK in Kether Chapter - March 10, 2009. Founder and Orator of Azoth Chapter of Spiritual Knights for the USA on February 10, 2010 which was Chartered and Constituted by John Paternoster, Grand Master. Grand Sovereign Hargett became a member of the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, Sacramentum Regis No 2, in New Zealand as a courtesy for Sepher Berashith Temple of the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross in the UK: 0=0 March 21, 2008 1=10 March 22, 2008 2=9 December 9, 2009 He became a member of Prince Edwin Conclave of Pilgrim Preceptors in the UK and was received as a Pilgrim and Advanced as a Pilgrim Preceptor on November 14, 2008. He was a founder and officer of Mayflower Conclave of Pilgrim Preceptors for the USA on March 15, 2010 at Radlett, UK. He was inducted into the Worshipful Society of Free Masons, Rough Masons, Wallers, Slaters, Paviors, Plaisterers and Bricklayers (The Operatives) in Bryn Athyn Quarry Assemblage Allentown, PA: 1st and 2nd Degree 3rd Degree 4th, 5th, 6th Degrees November 28, 2008 June 27, 2009 February 14th, 2010 at Alexandria, VA. 7 He was presented a Charter as a Passed Master VI for Solar White Quarry Assemblage IV to I in Monroe, NC, in the Region of North America, United States of America Region for The Operatives (USAM) and 4th, 5th, 6th Degrees February 14th, 2010 at Alexandria, VA. He was presented a Charter as a Passed Master VI for Solar White Quarry Assemblage IV to I in Monroe, NC, in the Region of North America, United States of America Region for The Operatives (USAM) and appointed Regional Deputy Jachin. He was made a life member of Radlett Cork Lodge on May 14, 2009 and created an Admiral of Lake Monroe by the Grand Fleet of Noble Corks at Radlett, UK. In the August Order Of Light he presented on March 14, 2009 at Radlett, England and received: 1st Degree Passing of Garuda Degree 2nd and Final Degree September 5, 2009 at Radlett December 12, 2009 at Radlett March 13th, 2010 at Radlett Grand Sovereign Hargett belongs to the Pre-Nicene Ekklesia Apostolic Church Of The Golden and Rosy Cross. He was raised to The Holy Order of the Diaconate on September 2, 2010; raised to the Holy Order of Priesthood March 15, 2011 and admitted to the Sacred and Noble Order of the Knights Corvida on September 3, 2010 Hampsted, UK. In The Fratres Lucis he was received and admitted into the Degrees of: Knight Novice of the Third Year, the Fifth Year, the Seventh Year, Knight Levite and Knight Priest at Grand Chapter on November 1, 2010. He received a Charter for Elias Ashmole Chapter to be held at Monroe, NC and was appointed as the first Preceptor, was appointed National Archon (National Grand Master) and received the CHARTER for the National Grand Chapter for the United States of America of the Fratres Lucis November 1, 2010. He was admitted to the Order of Fratres Lucis in The Philadelphia Preceptorial Chapter No. 1 in Anglia and is recognized as such by all Knight Priests. He was made a Knight and Brother Priest and elevated to Preceptor of the Order. He was admitted into the Healing, Teaching and Chivalric Order of St. Michael & St. Raphael and invested with the Rank, Title and Dignity of Knight of the Order on December 10, 2010 and Knighted by Leila Boyer, Grand Master and Lord Abbot...
It is an understatement to say that Masons like David Lee Hargett, Jr. don't come along very often, and they leave behind an enormous void for the rest of us to attempt to fill. When columns like David's break and fall at last to the ground, this fraternity shudders to its very foundations. 

And of course, I want to offer my very deepest condolences to his wife Robin and their entire family. Their loss is greater than the rest of us can adequately comprehend, but I thank them from the bottom of my heart for letting us all have so much of David's time. That is a debt none of us can possibly repay.

His column is broken, and his Brethren mourn.

Requiescat in pace.

UPDATE 7/27/18:

The funeral services for David are as follows:

Gordon Funeral Services
1904 LancasterAvenue
Monroe, North Carolina

Visitation: Saturday, August 11 (Time not yet posted)
Funeral Service: Saturday, August 11, 3:00PM

Visit the funeral service website HERE for updated information.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

AMC Series 'Lodge 49' Premieres 8/6

The trailer for AMC network's upcoming new series Lodge 49 has been released. 

The show premieres on Monday, August 6th at 10PM.

A shorter trailer has also been released.

Actor Wyatt Russell plays Sean "Dud" Dudley, a new member of Lodge 49. In real life, he is the son of actors Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. 

From AMC's latest information about the upcoming show:

Written and created by Jim Gavin, Lodge 49 is a modern fable set in Long Beach, California and centered on Dud (Wyatt Russell), a likable ex-surfer who attempts to maintain his positive outlook on life while still reeling from the death of his father, the collapse of the family business, and any semblance of the idyllic middle-class life he knew. Dud finds himself deposited by fate at the doorstep of Lodge 49, home to the Ancient and Benevolent Order of the Lynx, a dusty dying fraternal order.
There he meets his mentor, Ernie Fontaine (Brent Jennings), a “Luminous Knight” of the Order, who sells plumbing supplies by day. Despite the constant pushback from his more skeptical, pragmatic twin sister, Liz (Sonya Cassidy), Dud and Ernie find themselves drawn by the Lodge into some long-buried secrets and modern day conspiracies. Through his newfound connection with the Lodge, its mysteries and its people, Dud comes to find the missing sense of purpose in his life and confront his deepest fears and greatest hopes.
Ernie Fontaine is an African-American "Navy veteran, plumbing supplies salesman, longtime bachelor, working class 'Renaissance Man,' and longtime member of the Order of the Lynx, Lodge 49." 

Liz Dudley, Dud’s twin sister is "smart, fiercely independent, deeply cynical, and searching for a way to escape her life." 

Scott Mills (Eric Allan Kramer) is a "Long Beach Port Harbor Patrol officer and straight shooter, who enjoys his personal watercraft and playing drums in a surf rock cover band." 

And Blaise St. John (David Pasquesi) is the "resident philosopher of the Lynx. He tends bar at Lodge 49 and runs his own pot dispensary." Sounds like a bartender variation of Claudy's The Old Tyler. Or maybe Wodehouse's The Oldest Member of the Club. The description doesn't say it, but I'm guessing he's "crusty-but-benign."

In its original press releases last year, AMC posted the following:

“Lodge 49 is a show that defies easy categorization. It is, at once, a show about a loveable loser, the idea that life can be magical if you look at it from the right angle, what it means to be on the fringe, and the importance of community. It’s also incredibly funny, poignant and truly entertaining” said Joel Stillerman, President of Original Programming and Development for AMC and SundanceTV. “This is a formidable creative team beginning with series creator Jim Gavin, show runner Peter Ocko, and the awesome producing team of Dan Carey and Paul Giamatti.”
As I have observed over the last year, television seems to have suddenly discovered fraternalism as a worthy subject matter, and not merely as an object of parody. Between Queen Sugar's depiction of a Prince Hall lodge's funeral service, AMC's Lodge 49, Netflix's college fraternity drama Burning Sands, and most recently, History Channel's Knightfall, it may be that depictions of fraternal brotherhood resonate with hope during deeply cynical and fractious times like ours. These programs certainly all seem to reinforce that. I wonder if it will translate into real live interest. If nothing else, it's certainly gratifying to see lodges and fraternities treated respectfully instead of as punchlines or excuses for goat-riding gags.

Episode 1 is appropriately titled "As Above, So Below."

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Marshalltown Masonic Temple Damaged By Tornado

Marshalltown Masonic Temple 

More than 25 separate tornadoes blasted through the Midwest on Thursday, hitting several towns across Iowa. The communities of Pella and Bondurant, Iowa both sustained major damage, and downtown Marshalltown was also hit.

The Marshalltown Masonic Temple was damaged in the storm. The temple is home to Marshalltown Lodge No. 108, plus York Rite bodies, an Eastern Star Chapter, and a High Twelve Club. 

Brethren at Marshalltown Lodge have posted the following reports on their Facebook page:
We've been asked how we fared. In comparison to other buildings in the downtown, it could have been worse. All our windows along the south and west are broken and the beautiful cornice along the south wall roofline is gone. As far as interior damage, we will have to see. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for residents of Marshalltown's northside and the businesses of the historic downtown.
On Friday came this plea:
Please share! If Iowa Masonic brothers are available, we need help boarding up all the windows and other such labor. With the power outage the elevators are out of commission and everything needs to be taken up the stairs.

Now on Saturday came this update:

After taking care of the storm situation at her own home and getting her car out of the garage yesterday, the office manager got inside the Temple this morning and took some photos. The electricity is on (but not yet at her house). The smell of freshly cut plywood, which covers most of the windows here, is quite noticeable. Department of Corrections has quite a bit of cleaning up needed in its offices while the law firm is almost done. The Masonic office only received damage to the storm windows, but there is no phone, Internet or cable service in that office. The hardest hit rooms were the dining hall and kitchen, where six of the nine windows were broken and the wind could swirl freely. Thankfully there was little rain involved.

No reports of fatalities or injuries within the Masonic community that I have been able to encounter as of Saturday 1:30PM. Please notify me if anyone has any news regarding Masons in Marshalltown, or any of the other towns that were hit on Thursday.

Meanwhile, this:

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Doorways of Solomon's Temple

A recent post on the Biblical Archeology website explores a curious detail about the entrance of Solomon's Temple as described in the 1 Kings account of its design which plays such an important role in Masonic ritual and legend.

From "The Doorways of Solomon’s Temple" by Megan Sauter:
King Solomon’s Temple was resplendent. Described in 1 Kings 6–7, the temple was divided into three parts: the forecourt (ulam), the outer sanctum (heikhal) and the inner shrine (devir), also known as the Holy of Holies. Built of stone and roofed with wooden beams, Solomon’s Temple was intricately ornamented. Its interior walls and floors were lined with wooden boards and covered in gold. It took seven years to complete the temple and its furnishings.

Despite the Biblical description and archaeological parallels, there are still some mysteries about Solomon’s Temple. For example, 1 Kings 6:31 describes the doors between the outer sanctum and the inner shrine of Solomon’s Temple as having five mezuzot (the plural form of mezuzah). What is a mezuzah? In the Bible, mezuzah is normally translated as “doorpost.” However, in the context of Solomon’s Temple, doors with five doorposts do not make sense...
A nearby temple of the similar period located just 20 miles away from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem — Khirbet Qeiyafa — may hold the answer to this curious description and the enigma of "five doorposts." That temple is known to have been occupied in the 11th-10th century B.C., and was a fortified site in Judah from the time of King David.
[Researchers] Madeleine Mumcuoglu and Yosef Garfinkel present a building model from Khirbet Qeiyafa that depicts a doorframe with three—or maybe four—interlocking doorframes surrounding an opening. They suggest that these interlocking frames are what is meant by mezuzot in the description of Solomon’s Temple. According to their interpretation, then, the doors to the inner shrine (devir) of Solomon’s Temple did not have five doorposts—but rather five recessed doorframes.

Temples with recessed doorways have been uncovered throughout the ancient Near East, and Madeleine Mumcuoglu and Yosef Garfinkel further note that recessed doorframes set apart inner rooms and spaces as being sacred. In the case of Solomon’s Temple, the more recessed the doorframes, the holier the space:

"There is a gradual increase in the number of recessed doorframes from the entrance to the forecourt (three) to the outer sanctum (four) and finally to the entrance from the outer sanctum to the devir (five). It is as if the devir had the highest number of mezuzot because it was the most sacred part of the Temple."

This reconstruction of the doorway into the Khirbet Qeiyafa temple (photo) depicts an elaborate doorframe surrounding the opening. The recessed doorway within the four interlocking frames sets apart the inner room as a sacred space. These may have been what was referred to in the Biblical account as the five mezuzot.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Illus. Jim Tresner Passes Away

The very sad news has been reported that renowned author and Oklahoma Freemason, Illustrious James T. Tresner II, 33° Grand Cross passed to the Celestial Lodge at 2AM Thursday morning. The fraternity has truly lost one of its very finest leaders.

Born and raised in Enid, Oklahoma, Jim Tresner held a Ph.D. in communications. 

He was a perpetual member of Garfield Lodge 501 in Enid, Oklahoma; Past Master and perpetual member of Albert Pike Lodge 162 in Guthrie, Oklahoma; a member of the Oklahoma Lodge of Research; a member of Oklahoma College, Masonic Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederalis; Past Sovereign Master of Father Murrow Chapter, Allied Masonic Degrees; and served as Grand Orator of the Grand Lodge of the State of Oklahoma. And he was extraordinarily active in the Guthrie Valley of the Scottish Rite (SJ).

Jim was an honorary Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, and was awarded the Grand Master’s Medal of Honor by the Grand Lodge of Kansas.

Jim Tresner was awarded the Medal of Honor by the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma, serving on on numerous Grand Lodge Committees; as the Grand Lodge official spokesman on matters of Freemasonry and religion since 1993; and as Grand Orator. 

For many, many years he was the publications editor for the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma, and the editor of the state Masonic magazine. Ill. Tresner was also a longtime editor and book reviewer of the Scottish Rite Journal, and Director Emeritus of the Scottish Rite Research Society. He served as the Editor-in-Chief of The Plumbline, and was the author of the popular biography Albert Pike: The Man Beyond the Monument. In 2001, he was the recipient of the Albert Gallatin Mackey Award for Excellence in Masonic Scholarship, the Scottish Rite Research Society’s highest honor. And in 1999, he was named as the 86th Friar of the Society of Blue Friars, an honorary organization specifically made up of Masonic authors.

Many of Jim's essays can be found on the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma's website HERE.

What all of those lists of accomplishments and accolades fail to express is the untold influence he had in the lives of countless individual Masons in the course of his lifetime. Jim was first and foremost a kind and dedicated Masonic mentor, and Facebook today was filled with tributes to him. This one from Brother John McCracken is representative of the feelings of hundreds and hundreds of his brethren over the years: 

This man pointed [and] lit the way for generations of men, showing them that there is deeper meaning and purpose to be found in this life.  
It’s hard to explain to people outside of the Fraternity, but Jim literally made the world a less darker place... and did so with an ease that made it look like a much simpler task than many might assume. He carried a dragon headed cane for the later years of his life (Hard to miss)... a Knight having long since defeated such obstacles. 
The World has lost one of its last Great Sages of Wisdom... All of Masonry has lost a Teacher, Friend, and Brother...
His column in broken, and his Brethren mourn.

Requiescat in pace.


The Grand Lodge of Oklahoma has made the following announcement:
Funeral Services for our Beloved Br. Jim Tresner are scheduled [in Oklahoma City] for Thursday, July 19, 2018 at 10:00 A.M. Services will be at the Church of the Servant; 14343 N. MacArthur Blvd. in Oklahoma City. The family has requested in lieu of flowers that donations be made in Jim’s name to the Grand Lodge Museum & Library which houses much of Jim’s book collection. It is a 501 (C) (3) tax exempt organization.

Bobby L. Laws, PGM, Grand Secretary
Grand Lodge AF&AM of Oklahoma
405-282-3212, Ext 4

UPDATE 7/18/2018:

Jim Tresner's official obituary has been published:
November 11, 1941 - July 12, 2018 GUTHRIE James Tracy 'Jim' Tresner was born in Enid to Margaret and Jack Tresner. He attended grade school through high school in the Enid public school system. He attended several colleges and earned two masters degrees and a PhD in business communications. He was a longtime member of Mensa.

Following college, Jim was a Professor of Drama and Speech at Connors State College. He spent the next several years as the Chief Underwriter at the family insurance company. Jim loved reading, cooking, writing, and entertaining his friends at the Tresner cabin in Colorado.

Dr. Tresner was internationally known as a Masonic author, writer, speaker and scholar. He joined the youth group of the fraternity, the Order of DeMolay, at the age of 12 while living in Enid. He became a member of the Masonic fraternity in 1963 in Garfield #501 in Enid. He was asked to move to Guthrie in 1987 to use his considerable skills in behalf of the fraternity. He was appointed a consultant to the Oklahoma Grand Lodge, the Oklahoma Masonic Charity Foundation, the Scottish Rite in Oklahoma, and the House of the Temple, the national Scottish Rite headquarters in Washington, DC. He was the book review editor of the Scottish Rite Journal, the national organ of the Scottish Rite, and was a recipient of the 33°, Grand Cross, the highest honor the Rite can give to a Scottish Rite mason. Dr. Tresner also served on the Masonic Information Center of the United States and was recently named an emeritus member of the Board of Directors of the Scottish Rite Research Society. He was elected a Blue Friar by the Society of Masonic authors worldwide in 1999.

In Oklahoma, he also belonged to the York Rite Bodies and the Oklahoma Lodge of Research. He was appointed the director of the degree work for the Guthrie Scottish Rite soon after he arrived in Guthrie and continued in that role until his death. Through his own community theatre experience, he brought an understanding of the theatre form of education to a level unsurpassed in the fraternity. Dr. Tresner inspired almost every man who knew him to make the study of Freemasonry a lifelong love and experience.

He served as the worshipful master of Albert Pike #162 in Guthrie in 1995 and was honored with 50 years of service to Masonry in 2013. Jim held many committee appointments for the Oklahoma Grand Lodge. In 1996, he was awarded the medal of honor, the highest honor a member can receive in Oklahoma Masonry. He had the rare distinction of being named an Honorary Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma. Upon his passing, he was the editor of the Oklahoma Mason and the Grand Orator of the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma. Dr. Tresner was the author of several books, including 'Albert Pike: The Man Behind the Monument,' 'Vested in Glory: The Aprons, Collars, Caps, and Jewels of the Degrees of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry,' 'From Sacrifice to Symbol: The Story of Cornerstones and Stability Rites,' and 'But I Digress.' In addition, he wrote extensively on all of the Masonic Rites and penned many educational papers, brochures, articles, and booklets on Freemasonry.

He was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his two brothers, John, of Placitas, NM; and Jack, of Edmond; two nephews, Jevon, of Oklahoma City; and Jeff, of Edmond; four great- nieces and nephews, Payden and Rhonan, daughter and son of Jevon and Cheryl; and Jester and Jovy, son and daughter of Jeff. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Grand Lodge Library and Museum, which will house the collection of the Tresner Library. A Funeral Service will be held Thursday, July 19 at 10 a.m. at the Church of the Servant, 14343 N. MacArthur in Oklahoma City. Graveside Service will follow in Enid, OK at Memorial Park Cemetery. Viewing will be available July 16 - 18 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Community Funeral Home, 1624 N. Pine, Guthrie, OK.