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

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Speaking Friday 8/16 at W. Lafayette, Indiana High Twelve

I'll be speaking this Friday, August 16th, at the Lafayette High Twelve Club lunch meeting at the MCL Cafeteria, 521 Sagamore Parkway West, West Lafayette, Indiana. 

I'll be presenting a Power Point talk, "In Search of the Lost Grand Master - Alexander Buckner" about the Grand Lodge of Indiana's founding Grand Master in 1818, his hasty departure from the state, and how he also became important to Missouri Freemasonry by founding a new Indiana lodge by the Mississippi River.

The meeting begins at noon.
If you haven't a clue what a High Twelve Club is, High Twelve International got its start in Sioux City, Iowa in 1920. Its founder, Edgar C. Wolcott was, at the time, General Secretary of the local YMCA in Sioux City. He felt very strongly that members of the Masonic fraternity were in need of additional fellowship they weren't getting in the lodge room. So he cooked up the notion of local clubs of Master Masons who met informally over their lunch hours, broke bread together, shared fellowship with Masons who weren't all from the same lodge, had a speaker or presentation, and maybe raised a little money.

Today, there are approximately 4,000 members in 150 clubs nationwide and in foreign countries. If you haven't got one near you, they are easy to start. Visit their website for information.

And if you're in the area around Lafayette and Purdue University, drop in and have lunch.

I'll leave it to the assembled crowd to decide whether my presentation is an appropriate use of a wind instrument or not.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Onetime Home of Manly P. Hall For Sale Again

After two major, multi-million dollar restorations in twenty years, Frank Lloyd Wright's historic Los Angeles Ennis House is once again up for sale. It's been quietly listed since last year for $23 million. 

If it looks familiar, you've probably seen the house in movies like The House on Haunted Hill, BladerunnerThe Rocketeer, Game of Thrones, and many more. It's hard to miss its iconic cast cement block pattern pillars and door frames, and its pseudo-Mayan temple silhouette. In the architecture realm, it is considered the finest "Mayan-revival" style building anywhere, although I'm guessing you can count the number of 20th century, pre-Cancun resort "Mayan-revival" buildings on one hand.

What you may not know is that the Ennis House was briefly the home of famed esoteric author Manly P. Hall.

The original owners who commissioned the home were Charles Ennis and his wife Mabel. Charles was originally from Pittsburgh, and relocated to LA to open a clothing store.

Ennis was a Freemason, and some have squinted at the concrete block design and seen a Masonic square and compasses in it.

Brother Ennis only lived in the house for four years after it was completed. He was also a Knight Templar, and when he died in 1929 his funeral service was conducted in the living room by Los Angeles Commandery No. 9.

For a detailed telling of the Ennis House story, see LA Magazine: House on Haunted Hill from 2006. That article briefly mentions Manly P. Hall's time in the house:
Founder of the Philosophical Research Society on Los Feliz Boulevard, author of The Secret Teachings of All Ages (a history of esoterica), and a spellbinding speaker, Hall was one of Los Angeles’s most charismatic figures of the 1930s. Although he worried about the leaks (“water gathered in the zigzags of the blocks,” he later recalled), he did nothing to stop them. For him, the house was a stage set for an outsize life. Using the glass-tile fireplace as a backdrop, he set up an ornate lacquered Buddhist shrine and held court for an array of seekers and celebrities.
Manly P. Hall in the 1930s in front of
the Ennis House fireplace and his
Buddhist shrine.
Throughout the 1930s, Manly Hall and his wife Fay had been just one of several groups of high-visibility 'personalities' who had been invited to live rent-free in the two bedroom house. Living inside a quirky work of art isn't the easiest thing to contend with. Despite its deliberately massive feel and appearance, on the inside it's more of a two-bedroom bungalow than a sprawling mansion. 

In reality, the house is spectacularly impractical from a daily living point of view. As built, it had a Tiffany mosaic fireplace without an actual flue, the grand entrance sits underneath the fairly small kitchen, and the place was infested with bees on a regular basis. After the usual round of spring rains in LA, the lower level would be soaked with two feet of standing water. 

The house was nevertheless an appropriately theatrical setting that suited Hall's public persona as a celebrity philosopher/mystic/esotericist, but even he got fed up with it and soon moved out. Not long afterwards, Hall's wife Fay committed suicide in 1941.

Here is usually when I step in and mention that all of Manly P. Hall's metaphysical writings about Freemasonry were written in his younger days, and that once he actually joined the fraternity in the 1950s (late in his career and life), he never wrote another word about it. His Secret Teachings of All Ages is a magnificent book, but most of his Masonic writings should not be considered as anything but speculative, and are considered more than a little fabulist by most modern Masonic researchers. 

After one expensive restoration following damage from the 1997 Northridge Earthquake, in 2011 the Ennis House was again sold for just $4.5 million to billionaire investor Ron Burkle, who poured another $17 million into its restoration. The former supermarket magnate seems to have an adoration (or masochistic tendency) for rehabilitating significant houses that are too expensive and bothersome for others. He also bought Bob Hope's Toluca Lake house for $15 million, and that comic's amazing Palm Springs house for $13 million.

The Ennis House is problematic, and always has been. Even Brother Charles Ennis, the original owner, said of it when asked about what it was like to live in such a spectacular work of the architect's art, "It leaks." After Ennis' death, the architect would occasionally show up unannounced and stomp through the house, bitching about any cosmetic changes made to it.

It sits in an isolated hilltop neighborhood in Los Angeles off a twisting road on just a half acre with miserable parking, making it useless as a museum or public venue of any kind. That's a real shame, because as CurbedLA.com, said of the house in 2011, 
"While we're sure Ennis would be a great place to live, it might also make a really perfect Masonic Hall--the pattern on the Ennis' textile blocks is "perhaps an allusion to the Masonic Order, of which *[Charles Ennis, who commissioned the house,] was a member, and the organization's symbol, the compass with the letter 'g' in the middle representing God."
It would indeed make a breathtaking Masonic lodge, if only the neighbors didn't caterwaul any time more than three cars show up. Imagine the festive boards in the dining room. 

"Gather round the festive board!"
Would that we still had among our members the eccentric millionaires who loved the Craft enough to bankroll such projects for us, or donate their estates to us once they shuffle off to join The Great Majority so the fraternity would have impressive clubhouses, instead of anonymous steel pole barns in bean fields built on the cheap.


Of course, in my 30s I secretly wanted the Ennis House to become the location of the never-built Forest J. Ackerman Science Fiction Museum, who lived nearby in the very same Los Feliz neighborhood, and whose vast and irreplaceable collection was all auctioned away before and after his death. 

Ah, what might have been. Masonic Lodge or the world's greatest science fiction museum. Tough call.

(All photos from CurbedLA.com)

Monday, August 12, 2019

'What Treasures Does Your Lodge Hold?'

This little essay was posted on the Grand Lodge of Mississippi's Facebook page from WB Rick Clifton, Past Master of Bay Springs Lodge 167:
What Treasures Does Your Lodge Hold?
When Minute Books of fifty of the oldest American Lodges as of the period between 1800 and 1825 are compared with the Minute Books of the same Lodges as of the period 1900 to 1925 it will be discovered that the subject of the Lodge inventory was somewhere lost, abandoned, forgotten in the years between. Every so often in the early days a Secretary, with loving care, and often with an openly expressed pride, wrote out his inventory; and such inventories are for us now one of the best sources for a knowledge of what Lodge life was a century and a half ago. Those inventories coincidentally make vivid and clear one thing wrong with Lodge life now— something lost out of Masonry, like the Lost Word, an old Landmark unintentionally violated; a thing lost though not necessarily beyond recall.

The inventory was not of the carpets, walls, windows, or other structural equipment, nor was it for real estate or taxation or fire insurance purposes; it was an inventory of the treasures of the Lodge. In almost every instance each item was described as a gift from some Brother, or as a memento of some occasion long remembered; there were oil portraits, framed prints, photographs; jewels kept in cases, of silver, and engraved, once the property of officers who later had presented them to the Lodge; aprons, collars, ballot boxes, gavels, Bibles and books, music books, an organ, sets of plate, glass and dishes, altar coverings, certificates, cherished letters in frames, punch bowls There were gifts which the Lodge had made to itself, such as hand-made carved chairs for the officers or a visitors' book bound in morocco. The Lodge Room had a feeling of being richly furnished; it was filled with the emblems and symbols of Freemasonry, of the Lodge's own past, of the community's esteem for it, and that the members who had gone were not completely gone.

Men loved their Lodge, and because they did there was no need to devise schemes for persuading them to attend.

In every Lodge, even the crassest, there are these untapped feelings of affection. Each one should have an inventory. When a Lodge room is empty, its walls bare, it has no atmosphere of its own. It does not feel like home. The Ritual loses its soul because it has not the environment it requires.

The worst effect of the bare Lodge room is that its Masonry in turn becomes barren because the Lodge has only the sense of being in a room and does not have a sense of being in the midst of a living and moving Fraternity; nor can it have a sense of its own past, or the Fraternity's past, but sinks into a feeling of isolation and flatness—it cannot even have a banquet because it has nothing to have it with. The inventory was one of riches; the riches came not out of the members' dues but out of their affection.
Rick Clifton, PM
Bay Springs #167

WB Clifton's thoughtful piece echoes a passage that H. L. Haywood wrote in his 1948 book 'More About Masonry,' and it can't be over-stated:
"In the Eighteenth Century Lodges the Feast bulked so large in the lodge that in many of them the members were seated at the table when the lodges were opened and remained at it throughout the Communication, even when the degrees were conferred. The result was that Masonic fellowship was good fellowship in it, as in a warm and fruitful soil, acquaintanceship, friendship, and affection could flourish - there was no grim and silent sitting on a bench, staring across at a wall. Out of this festal spirit flowered the love which Masons had for their lodge. They brought gifts to it, and only by reading of old inventories can any present day Mason measure the extent of that love; there were gifts of chairs, tables, altars, pedestals, tapestries, draperies, silver, candle-sticks, oil paintings, libraries, Bibles, mementos, curios, regalia’s and portraits. The lodge was a home, warm, comfortable, luxurious, full of memories, and tokens, and affection, and even if a member died his, presence was never wholly absent; to such a lodge no member went grudgingly, nor had to be coaxed, nor was moved by that ghastly, cold thing called a sense of duty, but went as if drawn by a magnet, and counted the days until he could go.
"What business has any lodge to be nothing but a machine for grinding out the work: It was not called into existence in order to have the minutes read: Even a mystic tie will snap under the strain of cheerlessness, repetition, monotony, dullness. A lodge needs a fire lighted in it, and the only way to have that warmth is to restore the lodge Feast, because when it is restored, good fellowship and brotherly love will follow, and where good fellowship is, members will fill up an empty room not only with themselves but also with their gifts."
What business, indeed... 

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Education: MSA Short Talk Bulletin Podcasts Online

Every month for almost a full century now, the Masonic Service Association of North America has published The Short Talk Bulletin, an informative, chatty discussion of some aspect of Freemasonry, be it ritual, symbols, allegories, history, individuals, lodge operation or practical applications, culture, and more. Over the years they were written by some of the wisest noggins in the Craft. 

The STB is sent every month to all lodges of the constituent Grand Lodges that comprise the MSA, and are intended to be read in every single lodge. When your Secretary holds it up every month, waves it in the air, and blandly mutters, "The Short Talk Bulletin is up here on my desk if anybody wants to look at it," don't just sit there. Somebody go up and read it aloud, because that's what it's there for. It's a ready-made little hunk of Masonic education for YOUR lodge that takes no effort to impart to your members besides about 10 minutes of reading out loud.

Aw, who am I kidding? 

Few of you will actually do that. "Who reads brochures anyway?" goes the churlish Mason now. "Modern Men (insert registered trademark symbol here) are too impatient to sit here and listen to somebody talk for ten minutes." Possibly true, I suppose. But then those same men will walk to the parking lot, get in their cars, and on the drive home they'll listen to their favorite podcast of someone blathering away for 10, 15, 30, 60 and more minutes. Some will even sit parked in the garage when they get home just to listen to the end.

Michael A. Smith
The MSA has answered the call. Since March, they have presenting a past Short Talk Bulletin in an audible version as a podcast or downloadable audio file twice every week. It can also be found on iTunes. So far, each has been read by Brother Michael A. Smith from Maine, who is also an audio book producer in real life when he isn't playing with Masons. The Bulletins are currently being released at the rate of twice a week, so there's a substantial list already. And there are quite literally hundreds more already written where they came from. The bi-weekly podcasts are made possible by a grant from the Grand Lodge of Maine A. F. & A. M.

This week I had the honor of narrating a relatively recent STB about the Grand Lodge of Nebraska's important decision this year to again raise their Masonic proficiency standards, bucking the national stampede to make Masonry simpler and painless for "Modern Man®" (whoever that is). Nebraska figured out that by reducing proficiency standards for new members many years ago, dumping memorization overboard, essentially making personal mentors obsolete, and creating a culture of dread for ritual, they have done more harm to the fraternity in their state than good. 

I didn't write this STB, but I absolutely agree with its message and Nebraska's bold move to stand athwart conventional grand lodge wisdom and holler "HALT!" 

If you didn't read this STB when it came out in the spring, click the link below, sit back for a few minutes, and listen to the dulcet tones of a Dummy soothe you into absently drifting into the next lane. Do it when you leave the lodge and you shouldn't even have to sit in the garage to hear the end.

By the way, the MSA has also collected all of the STBs created between 1923 and 2017 into a series of six freshly typeset, edited, indexed, hardbound volumes that you can use for research, or just as intended from the start as education pieces. Each volume is a goldmine, and you can literally walk into your lodge, open it to any page and start reading it aloud. 

Who says basic Masonic Education has to be more complicated than that?

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Detroit Hosts 2019 Masonic Library & Museum Association Conference: 9/20-22

The Masonic Library & Museum Association was founded in 1995. Its ongoing mission is
“to assist and support, through education, facilitation of communication, coordination of effort, and other means, those individuals charged with the collection, management, and preservation of the Masonic heritage.” Its members range from trained museum and library professionals to dedicated members of the fraternity who work voluntarily and have all different levels of experience. Membership in the MLMA is open to any person who expresses an interest in Masonic libraries or museums. Institutional membership is open to any Masonic body considered “regular” by most Grand Lodges in the United States.

The Detroit Masonic Temple Library, Archive, and Research Center is hosting the 2019 Masonic Library and Museum Association Conference. The center is located in the breathtaking Detroit Masonic Temple, 500 Temple Street, Detroit, Michigan. The Detroit Temple is the largest building 
in the world dedicated to the Masonic fraternity.

Participants will enjoy two days of excellent presentations, and unparalleled networking and fellowship.

Masons and non-Masons alike are welcome to attend.


Friday, September 20th
  • 12:00 pm: Finger lunch 
  • 12:30 Brian Rountree, President, Masonic Library and Museum Association: Welcome/Introductions
  • 1:00: Rob Moore, Executive Director, Detroit Masonic Temple Library, Archive, and Research Center 
  • 1:30: Dirk Hughes, Director, Michigan Masonic Museum and Library 
  • 2:15: Mark Tabbert, Director of Museum and Library Collections, George Washington Masonic National Memorial: "George Washington and Freemasonry "
  • 3:00 Library Service Work
  • 6:00 Dinner

Saturday, September 21st
  • 9:00 am: Coffee/light refreshments 
  • 9:30-11:30: Detroit Masonic Temple tour 
  • 11:30-1:00: Lunch on your own
  • 1:00: Glenn Visscher, Museum of Masonic Culture, Trenton NJ: "Building and Developing a Masonic Museum "
  • 1:30: Maureen Harper, Collections Manager, Scottish Rite Museum and Library: "Packing Artifacts for Shipment "
  • 2:00: Thomas Hauder, Past Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Nebraska, A:. F:. & A:. M:. "Freemasonry and the Roman Catholic Church "
  • 3:00: Christiano Franceschini, Museo Simbologia Massonica, Firenze, Italy: "Freemasonry in Italy "
  • 4:30: Visit Burton Historical Collection
  • 6:00: Dinner on your own 

Sunday, September 22nd
  • Optional Library Service Work 

Registration includes attendance of the entire program and dinner on Friday evening. Tickets for this event are priced at $75. But if you take advantage of their Early Bird rate, it is just $55 per person through August 20th. The cutoff for general registration is September 8th ($90 after that).

To make reservations, visit the Eventbrite page HERE.


A block of rooms has been reserved at Motor City Casino Hotel (2901 Grand River), a short distance from the Temple. Register by calling 1-866-STAY-MCC and mention the Detroit Masonic Temple Library block or go to this link:



Contact Rob Moore at 248-863-8008 or dmtdocents@gmail.com

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Masonic Chair From Famous Truman Visit Destroyed in Beech Grove Lodge Fire

President Harry S Truman visiting Beech Grove Lodge in 1948
As reported last month, a fire broke out  on July 8th in the East of Beech Grove Lodge No. 694 on Indianapolis' south side. The blaze and subsequent damage destroyed the lodge room and its furnishings. The rest of the 1943 building sustained extensive damage as well. 

Beech Grove Lodge became an important part of Masonic history in 1948 when Freemason, Missouri Past Grand Master and President Harry S Truman famously snuck away from the press during a campaign stopover in Indianapolis to attend a Master Mason degree. Donald Bauermeister, a young sailor from Indiana who was his physical therapist on board the Presidential Yacht back in Washington, was being raised that evening, and Truman suddenly informed his staff that he intended to be there, sending the Presidential party and Secret Service detail into an organizational tailspin.

Sadly, the brethren of Beech Grove Lodge have reported that the three-seated Worshipful Master's station chair that President Harry S Truman occupied during his "secret" trip to the lodge in 1948 was damaged far beyond repair in last month's tragic fire. They will explore the possibility that a small memento can be made of the surviving pieces.

The 2nd floor has been gutted and demolition has begun on the main floor. A decision will soon be made on how many, if not all, of the joists for the roof will need to be replaced. The stone and block exterior of the temple survived the fire and will be retained in the rebuilding efforts.

Most of the paper records of the lodge survived the fire, but were heavily smoke damaged and waterlogged. However, the Masonic ring given to Don Bauermeister by his parents and handed to him by Harry Truman himself, along with his Masonic Bible signed by the President are still safely on display at the Masonic Library and Museum of Indiana, located in the Indianapolis Masonic Temple.

Details about Truman's visit to Beech Grove Lodge in 1948 can be found in Dwight L. Smith's Goodly Heritage (1968), Allen E. Roberts' Brother Truman (1985), and most recently in my own book, Heritage Endures (2018).

UPDATE 8/9/2019:

At the Indiana Masonic Home at Compass Park in Franklin today, Grand Master Kenneth Roy, Jr. presented Beech Grove Lodge's Master WB Kevin Upshaw with their new charter to replace the one lost in the fire.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Masonic Museum Is A Snapshot of Spain's Anti-Masonic Past

While many Masons today have at least a passing familiarity with the persecution of the fraternity under the Nazi regime, far less is widely known about similar actions under Spain's long-ruling dictator, Generalissimo Francisco Franco Bahamonde. The Spanish Civil War (often called the dress rehearsal for World War II) raged between 1936 and 1939, resulting in Franco and his Nationalist Party's ascendency to power. The two big name fascist dictators of the period, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, both fell in 1945. But Franco ruled in Spain all the way through his death in 1975.

Under Franco and his (largely Catholic) Nationalists, Freemasonry was outlawed, and Masons were often arrested solely for their membership. In the wake of Franco’s victory in the civil war, many Freemasons, some of them well-known figures, were either exiled, imprisoned or, in some cases, shot. As was done throughout Europe under the Nazi occupation forces, Franco's regime seized the property of Masonic lodges throughout Spain and occasionally set up spooky museums of Masonic artifacts as propaganda exhibits to frighten the population. In a way, you can blame some of the modern day European distrust of Freemasonry on generational fears first stoked by these attempted exposés under the fascist regimes in the 1930s and 40s.

Franco spared no expense in stamping out Freemasonry in Spain. In 1949 the Spanish government included nearly $100,000 in its budget for ongoing maintenance of a special tribunal to suppress Masonry.

The Generalissimo never tempered his anti-Masonic sentiments. Henderson and Pope's book Freemasonry Universal claims that under Franco's almost 40 years in office, more than 10,000 Freemasons were arrested for their alleged membership, and the Grand Orient of Spain went into exile in Mexico. Even in his final speech before his death in 1975 given from (where else do dictators speak from?) the balcony of his Royal Palace, Franco railed against the imaginary "Jewish-Masonic Conspiracy". 

After Franco died, Spain finally began a slow transition to democracy, but it wasn't until 1979 that the laws against Freemasons were lifted - and only then after their High Court overruled the Interior Ministry’s ongoing refusal to allow Masons to again organize.

A Masonic lodge in Gijon, Spain was plundered by the Spanish Nationalists in 1938, and a propaganda museum was created that year to display its symbols and artifacts in the creepiest manner possible. The exhibit was created by Marcelino de Ulibarri, a member of Franco’s government with the intention of frightening the public with the "dangers" of Masonry. But according to an article on the Atlas Obscura website, the museum was never officially opened during the war. It wasn’t until 1993 that it finally opened to the public as a part of a historical exhibition in the town of Salamanca’s Barrio Antiguo district, housed in a 17th-century building at Saint Ambrose College.

Chamber of Reflection at the Salamanca museum exhibit
From the article:

On display in the temple, you’ll find books, medals, jewelry, documents, ceremonial clothing, Masonic symbols, and a reproduction of a Masonic Chamber of Reflection used by new members. The most shocking details, such as skulls or black masks, received special attention with the aim of shocking the public of the 1930s. Today they look like your usual Halloween decoration.
Ulibarri made sure to include any spooky imagery he could dig up, populated it with black-hooded mannequins and skulls, and prominently displayed an apron showing a severed head.

It is of interest to Masons today in part because of this dark episode of persecution across Europe. But it is also a unique snapshot of Spanish Freemasonry from the pre-1940 era, as long as you bear in mind the sensationalistic nature of the way it's presented. 

The Masonic Lodge Museum today is located inside the National Archives building in Salamanca, Spain at 2 Gibralter in the Barrio Antiguo.  

There's a great story about Franco and American Freemasons that happened in the 1950s. This was in an article from the Spanish El Pais website called "Why did General Franco hate the Freemasons so much?":

Fall 1958, the Pardo Palace in the outskirts of Madrid: Franco’s official residence. Two US senators, along with a high-ranking military man, are received by Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Their mission is to sound out the dictator about a possible visit by the then president of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower. What kind of reception would he get? Franco is delighted at the prospect, and begins expanding on the need to eradicate once and for all the Communist threat, and is willing to help the United States in its fight against the Soviet Union, hoping to win the support of the West in the process – after all, it had only been admitted to the United Nations in December 1955.
Carried away in his euphoria, Franco also declares that freemasonry must also be done away with. At which point, one of the senators politely interrupts: “Sir, President Eisenhower is a protestant, I’m a mason, and my colleague here in the Senate is Jewish. We would all be in jail if we lived in Spain.” The military man, Eugene Vidal, an old-school Yankee blueblood and head of aeronautics at West Point military academy, drove home the point with a certain degree of sarcasm: “No, no my dear sir, I’m also a mason and I too would be shot here.” The story of the meeting was told many years later by US writer Gore Vidal, the son of Eugene Vidal and the grandson of another US senator, Thomas P. Gore...
Freemasonry has slowly recovered in Spain. The Gran Logia de España today is widely recognized as regular throughout the Masonic world, and has about 2,700 members and 185 lodges.

(All Museum photos from the Atlas Obscura site)

Congresswoman Introduces Bill To Remove Pike Statue in D.C.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced a bill in Congress Tuesday officially calling for the removal of a statue of the Scottish Rite's sage Albert Pike from Judicial Square in Washington, D.C. The 11-foot tall bronze sculpture by Italian artist Gaetano Trentanove was erected in 1901 and donated to the city by the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction to commemorate their 100th anniversary. 

The original 'House of the Temple' was actually a series of three connected brownstones diagonally across the street from the statues' present location, which is why Pike is placed there today. In 1901 it stood on a tiny triangular sliver of land next to 433 Third Street NW, at the intersection of Third and D Streets. Because the Federal District is owned and operated by the Congress, it required an act of Congress to place the statue there 118 years ago. It now requires another such act to move or remove it.

Original House of the Temple at 433 Third Street NW in Judiciary Square.
Now demolished.
Out of their first 90 years, Albert Pike had served as the AASR-SJ's Sovereign Grand Commander for 32 of them—over a third of the Supreme Council's entire lifespan at that time. The original House of the Temple held their headquarters, their auditorium for putting on degrees, their vast and growing library, and Albert Pike lived and died there. So did his TWO successors. That makes this particular corner historically significant.

As the National Parks Service describes it, Pike is portrayed: 
“...in civilian dress and presented as a Masonic leader rather than a military man. Pike stands 11 feet tall upon a high granite pedestal. Below his feet about halfway down the west face of the pedestal, sitting on a ledge, is the allegorical Goddess of Masonry, holding the banner of the Scottish Rite. The figure is in Greek dress and posed as looking down. Pike holds a book in his left hand, perhaps his popular Morals and Dogma of Scottish Rite Masonry.”
There are eight inscriptions around the corners of its granite base: Author, Poet, Scholar, Soldier, Philanthropist, Philosopher, Jurist, and Orator. On the front is a Latin phrase, Vixit Laborum Ejus Super Stites Sunt Fructus. ("He has lived. The fruits of his labors live after him.") Despite the fact that detractors object to it on the grounds that Pike had served very briefly in the Confederate Army, making it the only statue of a former Confederate soldier in the District, the sculpture does not depict him as a Confederate soldier. There are no references to the Confederacy, and the banner in the hand of the Grecian figure is not a Confederate flag or symbol, but a Scottish Rite one featuring the double-headed eagle. It is purely a Masonic statue.

This current campaign by Norton to remove it dates back to August 2016 at the height of a national call to hide, move or destroy countless Confederate statues commemorating the Civil War. Nevertheless, Norton's bill is only the latest attempt to have Pike scraped off of this historic corner. The statue has been controversial for the last 30 years or more. Fringe politician Lyndon Larouche made an unsuccessful but noisy, high visibility attempt in the 1990s, and it is a frequent target of vandalism.

In 2016, D.C. radio station WTOP reporter Amanda Iacone interviewed Art de Hoyos for a follow up story:

“I think that people have misunderstood the intent of that statue,” said Arturo de Hoyos, grand archivist for the Scottish Rite in D.C.
The Scottish Rite is the largest branch of Freemasonry in the world. And the regional headquarters for the southern half of the United States is based on 16th Street at the House of the Temple, where Pike is interred.
His statue, erected at the dawn of the 20th Century by the Scottish Rite, celebrates his contributions to Freemasonry and his life as a civilian after the war, de Hoyos said.
Still, the organization will support whatever decision is made regarding the statue’s future, he said.
“We certainly don’t want a monument, which was really placed there to honor the fraternity, to be a divisive point within the community on racial matters,” de Hoyos said.
De Hoyos described Pike as a “man of his times,” who was known to abandon ideas and views over the course of his life. That included his views on slavery and he later developed a friendship with a leader of Prince Hall, a black Freemason society.
“Before and during the Civil War, he accepted slavery as a social institution …. He was a person who actually looked forward to a time when slaves would be free men,” de Hoyos said.
Norton’s full statement on the removal of the statue is included below:

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton
Statement of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes NortonOn the Introduction of a Bill to Remove the Statue of Confederate General Albert Pike
July 30, 2019
Madam Speaker.
I rise to introduce a bill to require the removal of a statue of Confederate General Albert Pike from federal land near Judiciary Square in the District of Columbia. This statue was authorized, not by the District, but by Congress in 1898, when the District had no home rule. The statue was constructed using both federal and private funds. The Freemasons, of which Pike was a member, donated the majority of the money needed to build and install the statue in 1901. I oppose tearing down Confederate statues, because I believe they should be moved to more appropriate settings, like museums, to avoid erasing an important part of history from which Americans must continue to learn.
Pike was a Confederate general who served dishonorably and was forced to resign in disgrace. It was found that soldiers under his command mutilated the bodies of Union soldiers, and Pike was ultimately imprisoned after his fellow officers reported that he misappropriated funds. Adding to the dishonor of taking up arms against the United States, Pike dishonored even his Confederate military service. He certainly has no claim to be memorialized in the nation’s capital. Even those who do not want Confederate statues removed will have to justify awarding Pike any honor, considering his history.
After meeting with the Freemasons, I believe that the best course of action is to remove the statue and find a more appropriate place for it. The Freemasons themselves support the statue’s removal, given its divisive nature. The D.C. Mayor and the Council also support the removal of the statue.
My bill clarifies that no federal funds may be used to remove the Pike statue. I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.

There is much misinformation in her statement, and I discussed the statue, its history, and Pike's past in a much longer article in 2016. See Albert Pike, Statues, History and Hysteria. At the time I wrote that long, long diatribe, the country was enmeshed in statue removal fever, and locally we had just had a spate of bored teenagers vandalizing area statues using the excuse of political "offense" to justify getting drunk and breaking things. A deliberately provocative newspaper "reporter" had even published a helpful list of 'Indianapolis Statues You Might Find Offensive' so they could be more easily targeted for destruction.

The sad truth is that almost no one in America outside of perhaps 1/3 of current US Freemasons - a few hundred thousand at best - know or care who Albert Pike is anymore, including the tiny handful of Masonic members in Congress. In 1901, those numbers were legion. Not anymore. If we're honest, looking out over the back parking lot of the House of the Temple is probably where Pike's statue really belongs today. Although I can convincingly argue its current location is useful to mark the historic location of the former HOT and where he actually lived, worked, and died.

Or as an old indecisive ad executive I used to know frequently waffled, "I feel strongly both ways..."

H/T Mark Tabbert

Monday, July 29, 2019

A 'Masculinity Crisis' and the McGuffey Readers

A month ago, I wrote a post about the effects of the elimination of the McGuffey Readers on America's 'civic virtues,' and especially how they affected Freemasonry and similar voluntary associations – along with almost everything else.  (See How the 1960s Really Killed American Freemasonry's Future).

This idea is getting around.

It turns out I'm not the only one who was struck by Charles Murray's observations in his brilliant 2012 book Coming Apart. Have a look at this essay from last July by Jon Miltimore on the Intellectual Takeout website that talks about the 'code of manhood' that the Readers used to reinforce that stopped when the books were phased out.

Miltimore's concentration is on what he describes as the "disappearance of manliness" in America, and he was just as taken with Murray's fascination with the McGuffey Readers as I was. From A Code of Manhood for a Generation Suffering a ‘Masculinity Crisis’:
For generations, every child who attended school was taught codes of behavior, usually through McGuffey Readers, of which about 120 million copies were sold between 1836-1960. As the National Park Service explains, the books were far more than a compilation of textbooks; they essentially framed the country’s morals and shaped American character:
“The lessons in the Readers encouraged standards of morality and society throughout the United States for more than a century. They dealt with the natural curiosity of children; emphasized work and an independent spirit; encouraged an allegiance to country, and an understanding of the importance of religious values. The Readers were filled with stories of strength, character, goodness and truth. The books presented a variety of contrasting viewpoints on many issues and topics, and drew moral conclusions about lying, stealing, cheating, poverty, teasing, alcohol, overeating, skipping school and foul language.”
Even after circulation of McGuffey Readers declined, the code essentially survived for some time and was still being communicated to boys. For a boy growing up in the early 50s, as Murray did, the code went something like this, he writes:
“To be a man means that you are brave, loyal, and true. When you are in the wrong, you own up and take your punishment. You don’t take advantage of women. As a husband, you support and protect your wife and children. You are gracious in victory and a good sport in defeat. Your word is your bond. Your handshake is as good as your word. It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. When the ship goes down, you put the women and children into the lifeboats and wave good-bye with a smile.”
Some will read these lines and see it as a series of banal platitudes. That, Murray would say, is the whole point. The fact that these clichés existed demonstrated that boys had a clear model to which they could align their behavior. This code of behavior was taken seriously enough by the people who ran America that it was propagated in its institutions. Those days are gone.
“If you see or hear any of those clichés used today among the new upper class, it is probably sarcastically,” Murray writes. “The code of the American gentleman has collapsed, just as the parallel code of the American lady has collapsed.”
What has replaced the code? “A mushy set of injunctions” Murray calls “ecumenical niceness.”

But Coming Apart was published in 2012. Since that time, much has changed. One suspects Murray might have a different answer today.
Social justice morality has become a new religion of sorts in American institutions, embraced and propagated by schools, corporations, libraries, and universities. The problem with social justice morality—well, one of them—is that it tends to emphasize what boys should not do and largely ignores the classical virtues and religious values emphasized in McGuffey Readers.
This is the product of what Murray calls nonjudgmentalism. Timeless values like temperance, hard work, and self-denial are often practiced by the cultural elites who design America’s systems but almost never preached, presumably because this would be viewed as a sort of judgment upon the have-nots...
Read the whole article HERE

H/T John Nagy

Sunday, July 28, 2019

'Illuminated: the True Story of the Illuminati' Premieres Tuesday Nationwide

There is a recurring character that permeates the world of conspiracy theories in the same way that the nefarious butler dominates old mystery novels. Just like "the butler did it" has become a catchphrase for bad detective stories, ever since the end of the French Revolution "the Illuminati" has been a generic, all-purpose boogeyman for any imaginary, unnamed group of Unseen Masters who control the world, rig the banking system, manipulate global politics, arrange wars, eliminate or erect borders like a game of Risk, move immigrants around like chess pieces to deliberately alter demographics, dominate the music recording industry, and monopolize the market on $6 coffee joints on every street corner until "Phase One is complete." 

If someone holds court on the New World Order, the Bilderbergers, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Club of Rome, the World Government Summit, the Bohemian Grove, the Freemasons, or any other purportedly elite puppet masters who arrange the world like a deliberately planned game of three-dimensional chess, sooner or later they'll utter the word 'Illuminati.' It's popular because people desperately want a chaotic and unpredictable world to be more easily explained with a simple set of white-hatted good guys and black-hatted (or hooded) bad guys, like an old Western. But it just isn't true, and it never has been.

There really was a genuine organization called the Illuminati, founded in 1776 in Ingolstadt, Bavaria by a young university professor of Canon law named Adam Weishaupt. That original group never attracted more than about 2,000 members across Europe in its heyday, and it really did die out by the mid-1780s after being publicly exposed. Weishaupt and his co-creators left behind reams of writings that detailed their lofty goals, their evolution, and even their secret rituals. And thanks to a dedicated group of researchers in the last twenty years, much of that information that has always existed in the German language has been translated into English and given wider circulation.

But reality has never kept a good scary monster story down.

Johnny Royal
Filmmaker and musician Johnny Royal's new motion picture, Illuminated: the True Story of the Illuminati, may be the very best onscreen treatment of the storied Bavarian Illuminati ever made. If you know nothing about the Illuminati, or even if you think you know everything about them, you need to see it. 

The film premieres at select theaters around the U.S. on Tuesday, July 30th.

Royal is a tremendously talented filmmaker, and Illuminated is a combination of documentary and re-creation that results in a concise, yet atmospheric, telling of the organization's authentic history and rituals. He has interviewed some of the top experts on the topic, including Josëf Wäges, Reinhard Markner, Adam Kendall, and Olaf Simons, among others. Significantly, Wages and Markner have recently published the translated rituals of the Illuminati, along with an extensive collection of Weishaupt's philosophical writings, making them accessible to a wide audience at long last.

This is a thoughtfully crafted film from top to bottom. In addition to Johnny Royal's direction, Daryl Gilmore's stunning cinematography also deserves strong mention. Illuminated differs enormously from the usual spate of bad History or Discovery Channel exposés because it is not out to be sensationalistic. Just the opposite. There are no breathless cliffhangers or hyperbolic claims designed as the video version of clickbait to lead you on until the last seven minutes of factual information. It chronologically and methodically explores Weishaupt's life and philosophy, the Enlightenment-era political, literary and religious world he inhabited that spawned his group in the first place (originally called the Perfectibilists), their goals and methods, their fans and detractors, and the development of the various Masonic-influenced degrees they created. All of that needs to be seen and comprehended in context before anyone can properly understand just what the Illuminati really was, and why it came about when it did.

Once it goes into wider release as a DVD, screening the film will make an outstanding evening of education for your lodge. But if Illuminated is playing near you, make the effort to see it in theaters. Watching it on a computer screen alone does a disservice to the film, as it deserves to be seen on a big screen, and with an audience.

Sadly, the true believers that The Illuminati™ still exists today, pulling the strings on the world from behind their velvet curtain, will continue to delude themselves about the death of the group. It's almost tragic these days that every time I post a story in this blog that mentions the word Illuminati, I get deluged with scores - and often hundreds - of spam messages attempting to separate a gullible public from their cash with promises of actually joining them. They promise untold riches, power, influence, physical beauty (!), unbridled success, and the secrets to Life, the Universe and Everything if only the starry-eyed, duped pigeon just forks over some cash - often lots of it. It's not true, it's never been true, and those "Join the Illuminati" messages in your incoming messages are the modern-day update of the old Nigerian email scams.

Hopefully, Illuminated will finally provide more people with the true history and reality behind this shadowy set of boogeymen instead of the pop culture image that's been cultivated ever since the day they were disbanded.

We can at least hope.

 Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies for Dummies