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



Popular Recent Stories

Popular Posts This Month

Thursday, July 09, 2020

A Prince Hall Brother Responds

by Christopher Hodapp

My post on July 4th, Why Freemasonry Still Matters, generated an unprecedented amount of discussion, pro and con, in numerous Facebook groups and elsewhere over the last several days. (If you didn't see it, go read it before you continue below.) I also received an astonishing number of private messages about it. But one response especially stood out.

Brother James R. Morgan III is a Prince Hall Mason in Washington, D.C. and a Curatorial Consultant at that city's African-American Civil War Museum. He is an author and historian, and recently published the outstanding book, The Lost Empire: Black Freemasonry in the Old West (1867-1906)

On Sunday, James was motivated to pen his own thoughtful response to my essay, entitled 'What to the Prince Hall Freemason is the Fourth of July? - Why Black Masonic Memory Matters' (his title is a deliberate play upon a famed abolitionist speech by Frederick Douglass in 1852, commonly known as 'What to the slave is the Fourth of July?'). In it, he rhetorically points out incidents and issues I did not discuss in my original post, and seems to be less critical of what I actually said than of what I did not say. 
Please read it and decide for yourself. 


Freemasonry is needed more today than at any time in the last century and a half in this country, because we as Masons hold the key to building and protecting and advancing enlightened civilization just as we have done at critical moments in the past. What's important is that I don't regard James and myself as being on opposite sides of the issues I originally wrote about — we are merely looking at it from both sides of a picket fence that sometimes blocks as much as it admits. If the Masonic fraternity is to remain relevant to today's society and tomorrow's, it will be because we meet upon the level and discuss controversies in a reasoned, tolerant, calm and rational manner that is passionate without 'growl and batter,' and always departing as friends and brothers. 

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Your Goat Gag of the Month

Photo: Flint C. Hollars

by Christopher Hodapp

The Masonic Temple in Healdsburg, California is home to Sotoyome-Curtis Lodge 123. Their ground-floor tenant has apparently been listening at the door of the lodge for inspiration.

Apologies in advance to all goat gag-hating Masons out there

Since I brought up murals in the last post, the Healdsburg Temple has one that's not necessarily Masonic in nature, but portrays some of the town's history. At least the horn section has a Mason.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Northern California Artists Paint Masonic Mural

Photo: (George Johnston — Daily News)

by Christopher Hodapp

NOTE: This post has been edited to credit artist Carl Avery who designed this particular mural.

A volunteer group of graphic artists has pooled their talents to cover the exterior walls of their northern California town with public art, and the local Masonic lodge is the newest beneficiary.

The group calling itself Tehama Creatives has just completed a Masonic mural on the wall of Red Bluff's Vesper Lodge 34. The design was created by artist Carl Avery and it's one of several that almost completely line an alley in Red Bluff's downtown area. Tehama Creatives consult with the building owners on the designs, and they hope to eventually adorn every building in the alleyway. They just need funding and the building owners’ approval before doing so.

It started with a gathering, a convening of artists who wanted to connect, inspire and be inspired. “We wanted to see the creatives get together,” says Athena Dyer, an original convener of what has become Tehama Creatives. It didn’t take more than a few meetups at what are now affectionately referred to as Drink and Draws for Tehama Creatives to become a firebrand group dedicated to public art and community connection.

This burgeoning art movement in Red Bluff has cultivated enough energy to paint an alley with murals, transform drab downtown planters into vibrant works of art and connect artists to each other. “It’s starting to have practical applications to deal with issues in our community,” says Tehama Creative Michelle Carlson, also an educator, who notes that incidents of tagging are down where art goes up.
“With the Drink and Draw comes the dreaming,” says Carlson, who values the group for pulling her out of isolation exploring her artistic expression. The bi-weekly gatherings at Cedar Crest Brewery in downtown Red Bluff fueled her creative fire and introduced her to kindred spirits. “We’ve carved out a little safe space for people to be artists,” she adds. “It’s providing momentum.”
This is a terrific idea for any town or neighborhood, especially today with so many talented artists connecting with each other online. And I'm guessing if you told a creative artist today that your lodge is interested, there's enough Masonic symbolism to supercharge any artist's imagination. If you have a suitable blank wall on your lodge hall, why not offer it up as a blank canvas? A mural is far more likely to catch the eye of curious non-Masons than just a sign in the yard or a square and compass over the front door. (Check with your local zoning board first for any signage codes that might prevent this.) 

Here are some more photos from artist Carl Avery's Facebook page.

Artist Carl Avery's Facebook page has more photos of the project,
including this wide shot of the completed work posted by Forrest Stamper.

Artist Carl Avery at work painting

Looking for inspiration? here are some previous stories of murals - both interior and exterior - from other lodges around the U.S.:

Monday, July 06, 2020

Mother and Son Lost At Sea Last December Were 'Cleansing' Her of Freemasonry

by Christopher Hodapp

Sometimes a story comes along that is so completely odd that I just sit and stare at the screen and wonder how to even begin to describe it.

An elderly dementia sufferer from Australia named Felicity Loveday (84) and her son , Adrian Meneveau (56), were lost at sea last December during a three-day boat trip. Adrian had been caring for his mother for seven years before they disappeared after December 13th. A photograph of the two of them preparing to leave a wharf in Frankston, Victoria, Australia was snapped on December 11th by Felicity's daughter, Christina, and family members were sent a text message by Adrian two days later. But their submerged boat was found by a fisherman on December 15th, about 15 miles away, and their bodies were never found. 

The photo showed Ms Loveday seated in an upright position wearing a life jacket. She looked extremely pale and was staring ahead, rather than at the camera, which is why police questioned her condition. 

The story first appeared last December, but it got fresh legs in June after daughter Christina made a statement to the press, stating that her mother was definitely alive when the boat left the wharf. (The Daily Mail version of the story in June gives a decent recap of the facts and is not behind a paywall.)

So what does this have to do with Freemasonry? 

Felicity Loveday, sitting in the center, had served as the Master
of a lodge of Co-Masons several years ago
It seems that Felicity had been the Worshipful Master of an Australian Co-Masonic Le Droit Humain (French for 'The human Right') lodge in the mid-2000s before her dementia set in. Police have been told the boat trip was part of a plan to 'cleanse' Felicity of 'evil spirits' of Freemasonry that had somehow 'awoken' in her. 

No, I'm not kidding.

Senior Police Constable Chris Obst told the Herald Sun that "Adrian and Felicity were practicing meditation for some time and believed Felicity had woken black magic and Adrian felt responsible for it... The boat trip was a means of reversing it – they needed to be on the salt water to get rid of the black magic."

Co-Masons on Australia's Gold Coast were contacted by police and the press about this daffy development, and they responded as respectfully as they could in the face of the allegation.

"The personal beliefs and practices are in no way associated with Freemasonry nor are they associated with her role as a former presiding officer of one of our Lodges," the Federation's Grand Commander and Supreme Council Representative (who was not named in the press accounts) said. "Freemasonry has nothing to do with evil, black magic and cleansing ritual."

Of course it doesn't. But that never stopped the press from plastering the word Freemasonry in the headlines.

This is a tragic story, especially since Felicity suffered from dementia, so it's entirely possible she was the one who insisted on 'cleansing' herself in this way. There's no way of knowing if her son and the rest of the family bought into it as well, or if they were merely humoring her. It's just a shame that the press would go nosing around and seize upon this purported Masonic connection.

The Australian Federation of Le Droit Humain is part of the world's largest variety of Co-Masonry, which accepts both men and women as members. Le Droit Humain has been around since 1893 when it started in France, and today it claims 32,000 members in more than 60 countries working a variation of the 1-33 Scottish Rite degrees. It is considered as irregular and unrecognized by the vast majority of the more than 4 million male-only Freemasons throughout the world. 

Who also don't have anything to do with evil, black magic or cleansing rituals. 

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Why Freemasonry Still Matters

by Christopher Hodapp

The United States has been rocked over the past month with images and stories relating to massive protests, rioting and statue-removing furor set off by the death of George Floyd while being arrested in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As the weeks passed, the toxic confluence of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, anger, widespread unemployment, summer heat, pent up frustration, a breathless media, and the echo chamber of the Internet have all worked their worst influences to bring out some of the most socially divisive traits, allegations and arguments among Americans in more than 50 years. 

Over the last couple of weeks, some enthusiastic or activist Masons have advocated for the fraternity to 'get on the right side of history' and support the Black Lives Matter movement. Some energetic Masonic keyboard artists have created graphics to combine the square and compass of Freemasonry with symbols of social activism, such as a clenched fist of BLM, confederate flags, the 'gay pride' rainbow,' or others. Such symbols have been making the rounds of the Internet, often with the exhortation to 'get on board' with one side or another, because, according to the bromide, 'silence is violence.'

With all due respects to my energetically demonstrative brethren, that's not the role of Freemasonry. It never has been, and it cannot be today. Its role is just the opposite.

Freemasons are human beings, and as individuals, we often take different sides in arguments. This is as it has always been throughout the history of the fraternity, sometimes violently so. When you examine the wars involving America and other Western nations in which Masons have fought in the last 300 years, you will find dedicated Freemasons on both sides of those conflicts. We tout the famous Masons who led the American Revolution, but there were plenty of loyalist Masons throughout the American colonies who fought and died to keep us British. (And, no, the Boston Tea Party was NOT a Masonic action, despite what you might have been told.)

Individual Freemasons may fight for the causes they support, but 'The Freemasons' do not take sides in social, political, cultural or religious conflicts.

Masons as a group cannot and will not support any political or social movement

That's why images like this one are not appropriate for any Freemason. This very moment in time is an excellent teaching moment for this lesson, and our youngest, newest members need to understand it. 

Freemasonry teaches men to behave properly, to treat each other fairly, to live by the cardinal virtues and follow our precepts. But it does not tell Masons what to think, how to vote, how to worship God, what protests to march in, what products to boycott, or what bumper stickers to put on our cars. The sanctuary of the lodge is absolutely shattered by any member who seeks to abuse its good offices by assigning political or religious motives to it that do not exist. 
Freemasonry is a force for good by espousing and teaching mannered toleration, reinforcing the cardinal virtues, and providing a sanctuary from the divisive nature of the profane world. If a Mason abuses the square and compass into a symbol that creates a deliberately divisive atmosphere within the Masonic community, to compel his brethren to also adopt his favored cause, or to erroneously create a false public perception of Masonry's motives -  that Mason has erred, not the fraternity.

James Anderson listed in the Constitutions of Masonry our responsibility to the civil authorities (second only to God):

A Mason is a peaceable Subject to the Civil Powers, wherever he resides or works, and is never to be concern’d in Plots and Conspiracies against the Peace and Welfare of the Nation, nor to behave himself undutiful to inferior Magistrates ; for as Masonry hath been always injured by War, Bloodshed, and Confusion, so ancient Kings and Princes have been much dispos’d to encourage the Craftsmen, be- cause of their Peaceableness and Loyalty, whereby they practically answer’d the Cavils of their Adversaries and promoted the Honour of the Fraternity, who ever flourish’d in Times of Peace. So that if a Brother should be a Rebel against the State, he is not to be countenanc’d in his Rebel- lion, however he may be pitied as an unhappy Man ; and if convicted of no other Crime, though the loyal Brotherhood must and ought to disown his Rebellion, and give no Umbrage or Ground of political Jealousy to the Government for the time being; they cannot expel him from the Lodge, and his Relation to it remains indefeasible.
Masons from the past who have been prominent leaders of revolutions (along with not-so-prominent ones who were on the losing sides of failed ones) never marched at the head of mobs wearing a giant square and compass on their chest or helmet, for good reason. Riots, revolts, revolutions, wars - these take place between nations or factions or masses or mobs of peoples. Freemasonry is practiced between individual human beings who seek to retain their individual honor and humanity, and to civilize and improve their town, their country, and the world by their own actions. Freemasonry is not a movement - it is a cultural institution that can only function if it is seen as a diverse, calm, civil, and evenhanded organization of a community's best leaders, regardless of their particular political affinities. 

The Western world is currently caught up in a moment that measures diversity only by the hue of skin color - literally the one human trait that cannot be altered, controlled or changed, and therefore the very least important one - and not by diversity of thought, belief, achievement, or aspiration. That is how Freemasonry seeks to differ from the outside world. If we're doing it right, we welcome diversity among men in all its intellectual, theological, economic and vocational forms. But I have never in my 20 years as a Mason seen a petition for the degrees of Freemasonry that asked a man's race. 

It is why, for instance, the meetings of lodges under the Grand Lodge of Israel are attended by Masons who are Jewish, Muslim and Christian, from all races, and from political persuasions that are diametrically (sometimes militantly) opposed to each other in that turbulent part of the world. Even the seal of their grand lodge reflects its uniquely Masonic diversity. It is the true meaning of meeting 'on the level.'

We say that Masonry becomes the 'center of union' because it conciliates true friendship among men who would for any other reasons have remained at a perpetual distance. Living through a tumultuous moment in time with heated passions on all sides doesn't imbue any of us with the ability to decide who is 'on the right side of history.' That's the nature of mass conflict and social unrest and upheaval. Only the lapse of time and history itself can make that judgement. 

The famed 'Friend To Friend' statue at the top of this post, erected at Gettysburg by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, is a parable in bronze that demonstrates the unbreakable mystic tie between two Masons on opposing sides of a deadly conflict.  Union General Winfield Scott Hancock and Confederate General Lewis Addison Armistead were personal friends and both were Freemasons. Secession wasn't a Masonic cause, and neither was preserving the Union. These two men had served and fought side by side in the US Army before the Civil War broke out. But Armistead said he could never raise his sword against his fellow Southerners and joined the Confederate Army in 1861. 

Armistead led his men against Hancock’s troops in the ill-fated Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, but was mortally wounded in the battle - by the irony of fate, Hancock was also wounded during the same battle. The statue depicts Union Captain Henry Bingham, also a Freemason and staff assistant to General Hancock, rendering aid to the fallen Confederate General. It was a bloody day - Henry Bingham himself had been wounded in the fighting, but he knelt by Armistead's side as he died. General Armistead is shown handing his watch and personal effects to be delivered to his friend and Brother, Union General Hancock. A final act of friendship among men who would for any other reasons have remained at a perpetual distance.

It's one of those lessons people can learn if statues aren't toppled by mobs. 

UPDATE: JULY 7, 2020

This post generated an unprecedented amount of discussion, pro and con, in numerous Facebook groups and elsewhere over the last several days. 

Brother James R. Morgan III is a Prince Hall Mason in Washington, D.C. and a volunteer coordinator at that city's African-American Civil War Museum. He is an author and historian, and recently published the outstanding book, The Lost Empire: Black Freemasonry in the Old West (1867-1906)

On Sunday, James was motivated to pen a thoughtful response to my essay above, entitled 'What to the Prince Hall Freemason is the Fourth of July? - Why Black Masonic Memory Matters' (his title is a deliberate play upon a famed abolitionist speech by Frederick Douglass in 1852, commonly known as 'What to the slave is the Fourth of July?'). In it, he rhetorically points out numerous incidents and issues I did not discuss in my original post, and seems to be critical less of what I said than of what I did not say. 
Please read it and decide for yourself. I don't regard either of us as being on opposite sides of things, merely looking at it from both sides of a picket fence that sometimes blocks as much as it admits. 


Monday, June 29, 2020

Masonic Lite Podcast Interview

by Christopher Hodapp

I had the pleasure of appearing on Episode 99 of the Masonic Lite podcast, which we recorded last week. It's being released today, for those so inclined. Many thanks to hosts Pete Ruggieri, Larry Merris, Jack Harley, Tim Dedman and producer Josh Lyter for their kind invitation.

Episode #99 is supposed to be posted sometime today. CLICK HERE for the list of the latest Masonic Lite episodes. 

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Eddie Izzard Cast As Illus. Peter Solomon 33° in Upcoming 'Langdon' TV Series

by Christopher Hodapp

More casting news is trickling in about NBC's upcoming TV series Langdon, based on Dan Brown's Masonic-themed novel, The Lost Symbol. The Deadline website is reporting that actor/comedian Eddie Izzard (Six Minutes To Midnight) and Valorie Curry (The Tick) and are set to star opposite Ashley Zukerman's Robert Langdon.

Eddie Izzard has been cast as Peter Solomon, Director of the Smithsonian, billionaire philanthropist, and Robert Langdon's mentor at Harvard. Peter Solomon's character in the novel is also a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Mason and Masonic scholar. Frankly, this is a stroke of casting genius, as Peter Solomon (in the book, anyway) has a fine sense of humor, a thorough understanding of history, philosophy and theology, and it is through him that the best explanations and messages about Freemasonry ultimately unspool.

Eddie Izzard as 'Bertie,' Prince Albert Edward, son of Queen Victoria
in 'Victoria and Abdul'
If you only know the 58-year-old Izzard from his standup comedy material about being a transvestite and an atheist, you might be alarmed by this development. Frankly, his casting may give some Masons a case of the vapours. But if you've seen his dramatic performances (why do all comics want to be serious actors?), you know he's ideal for the part. He once said in an interview,
“I have noticed a reluctance in earlier years to know exactly where to start with research. Maybe it’s a laziness or lack of confidence about which way to go into it... The obvious thing that came into my head, or that I realized, was the better you researched it – the better you are into the character before you land on the set, the easier it’s going to be. You’re just going to be fully formed, I mean, obviously Daniel Day-Lewis does this to a huge extent, and that’s what I want to do, that’s the direction I want to head to, so that when I’m there, getting to the set, I know where I am, rather than a week into it, getting the hang of it."

The other announcement was that actress Valorie Curry will play Katherine Solomon, Peter Solomon's sister and the scientist conducting experiments on Noetics. You might know Curry as 'Dot Everest' in The Tick or Kelsey in Showtime's House of Lies.

The Deadline website is also reporting that NBC has firmly committed to actually start shooting the Langdon series later this year (the COVID pandemic shutdowns placed many shows slated for Fall in question).

Brown's The Lost Symbol novel — the sequel to The Da Vinci Code — was a 500+ page love letter to our fraternity, so I look forward to seeing how Hollywood treats us. I'm not dumb enough to think the fraternity will get an entirely fair treatment. In the most commonly used Masonic ritual in the U.S., we teach the lesson of Jacob's Ladder, and stress that Faith, Hope and Charity are its three principal rungs. 'Faith is lost in sight' - I have little faith that Hollywood can tell a Masonic story without screwing it up, based on having seen countless earlier examples. 'Hope ends in fruition' - so this project will hopefully not stink. But 'the greatest of these is Charity,' so I shall remain charitable until proved otherwise. 


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Alaska PGM 'Bo' Kline Hospitalized

by Christopher Hodapp

Word came late Wednesday night that RW John R. "Bo" Cline, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Alaska and Past President of the Masonic Society, is in critical medical condition. 

Bo's wife Beth sent out a message that he is in the Intensive Care Unit at the University of Washington Medical Center with acute leukemia.

According to Beth's message, Bo is "in critical condition but hanging in there. Please let the brethren know and keep him in your thoughts."

Indeed we shall, Beth. It has been my privilege to know both Bo and Beth since I was invited to speak at Alaska's annual communication on Kodiak Island back in 2009, when he was elected as Grand Master. Bo went on to lead the Masonic Society as its third President. He has been a very active, enthusiastic and well-traveled Mason as long as I have known him, and I never knew where he was going to show up next. 

Alice and I are praying hard for them both.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Washington's Albert Pike Statue: After the Fall

by Christopher Hodapp

On Saturday morning, the fallen bronze carcass of Albert Pike's once noble statue in Washington, DC's Judiciary Square was ignominiously hauled away on the back of a flatbed truck to an unspecified location. Pike's figure was toppled and defaced by a mob of protesters late Friday night. 

The Scottish Rite's Art De Hoyos was interviewed on the local NBC affiliate in Washington DC on Saturday for his comments on the incident. Unfortunately, little of Art's interview actually made it into the segment, which was edited to reinforce the false narrative that this was a 'Confederate monument.' NBC-4's 'fact checkers' were in such a hurry to do so that they misspelled Art's name.


To me, that's most frustrating about the incident — the dishonest media coverage and deliberate mischaracterization of Albert Pike and the statue itself. Of course this wasn't a 'Confederate monument.' It was a Masonic representation of Pike's accomplishments as an author, philosopher, orator, lawyer, historian, polyglot, and a soldier (not only in his brief stint in the Confederate army, but also in the Mexican-American War). He wasn't atop a horse; he had no sword dangling from his belt; there was no declaration of heroship, and no phony bromide about 'healing a divided nation' that are the hallmarks of Civil War statues. Pike stood there with a book in his hand and the inscription Vixit Laborum Ejus Super Stites Sunt Fructus. "He has lived. The fruits of his labors live after him." Yet few - if any - who tore it down had any interest in actually looking up what the fruits of his labors really were.

I find myself in a curious position over ol' Albert. I have never been a staunch fan of Albert Pike's writings. In the very first edition of my book Freemasons For Dummies written in 2004, I wrote about him because he was such a dominating influence on a large part of the fraternity, and because he was such a lightening rod for conspiracy theories. Albert Pike never had an unexpressed thought in his entire life — he wrote thousands of pages of books, letters, articles, rituals, poems and more, on top of his legal career, newspaper editorship, translations of foreign and ancient texts, and his role on the Arkansas Supreme Court before the war. Just by committing so many words to paper across his 82 years on Earth, that alone left an enormous pile of material that permits conspiracists to claim literally anything about him. And they have.

I had been a Mason for barely six years at the time I was writing, and I was not (and am not today) a member of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite - Southern Jurisdiction. In the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction we read and know almost nothing about Pike, nor did we adopt his rituals. The Northern and Southern Jurisdictions have almost nothing in common, ritualistically. Those of us in the fifteen northeastern states of the AASR-NMJ have never been handed copies of his masterwork, Morals & Dogma (as opposed to ALL Southern Jurisdiction members until the 1970s). So we have never particularly revered him or even studied his work, unless it is done independently by individuals. Until the advent of the easy circulation of information wrought by the Internet, quite literally half of the Masonic population of the United States and an enormous part of it outside of the U.S. would hear the name of Albert Pike and tell you, "Never heard of him." And they weren't lying.

In a sidebar section of my book called 'Mysticism, magic, and Masonic mumbo-jumbo,' I was speaking about a group of intellectual 19th century Masons who chose to believe that Masonry had far more mystical and esoteric origins than it likely had. I put Pike in that group of writers who had "dazzling intellectual and spiritual knowledge."  

"The works of these men were filled with fabulous tales of beliefs and cultures and cryptic theories of the deepest and earliest origins of Freemasonry," I confidently wrote.  

"In short," I said, "they wrote a lot of crap." 

Let's just say that in 2004, I had a less than serviceable appreciation of Pike's true scholarship. Since that time, I revised that passage of the book and removed that offhanded and ill-chosen dismissal of Pike and writings. Nevertheless, I find myself in the bizarre position today of pleading his case posthumously to an uncaring and prejudicial mob of press, civic officials, destructive protesters, and casual observers who have an even more superficial comprehension of Pike than I did 16 years ago.

There's no way of knowing how many people encountered the Pike statue over the last 119 years and said "Who the hell was this guy?" and actually tried to find out. But that is always the lingering hope when civic leaders erect statues to former icons - that future generations will try to discover why that person was considered honorable or admirable or heroic enough to be cast in bronze for the Ages. 

Apologists for the mob's destruction claim Pike's bronze figure's very existence caused 'pain,' but not because of anything actually on the statue itself. It could only cause distress if a person believed the lopsided message that Pike's brief time in the Confederate army was the defining aspect of his life (which it certainly was not). Or the completely unproven allegation that he had anything whatsoever to do with the Ku Klux Klan (which he disparaged). Or that he was an ardent proponent of slavery (he was not, and wrote against it on numerous occasions). Or that he was a bigoted racist who really hated people of color (he lived among the Indians, defended their rights and interests to the U.S, Supreme Court, learned numerous languages, studied and admired numerous non-Western cultures, religions and peoples, and assisted the Prince Hall-descended Scottish Rite by becoming friends with its African-American Commander and giving them copies of his revised ritual).* 
Scraping Pike's image from the face of the Earth doesn't change a single person's life, save a life, sustain a life, or improve anyone's life in any way. 

Yet, passing by or reading about Pike's statue and making a note to follow up and see WHY he was revered can, and has, changed lives of men who joined the Masons because they were intrigued by Morals & Dogma or Esoterika or other writings of Pike's they stumbled into by accident. No real way of knowing how many, but I'll bet a functioning kidney that far more were influenced positively by it than those who truly were genuinely emotionally distraught over its existence. 

And now, that influence no longer going to be possible. 

As society changes, so do the people we admire and honor as a combined culture. I occasionally ponder who the current society we have really admires now by general agreement and acclimation. We don't erect many statues anymore in the West, not because they have fallen out of favor, but because we as a society no longer agree on admiring ANYONE anymore, unless it's a sports figure or some anonymous 'Everyman' sort of generic representation of the common man. Politicians, explorers, writers, artists, musicians, inventors, theologians, philosophers, military figures – all those areas of achievement used to be celebrated and honored, and sometimes even rose to the stature of 'heroic.' But we've become so used to tribalizing, trivializing, snarking, digging for dirt, picking at scabs, and otherwise seeking the tarnish on every person who rises to prominence because they don't fulfill some impossible level of perfection and purity. Miserablism as a teaching method has triumphed, 
and we have become incapable of discovering individual heroes worthy of memorializing For the Ages anymore. The best we can seem to work up in 2020 is a participation trophy-style of group heroism and admiration, like 'our first-responder heroes,' our 'medical personnel heroes,' our 'brave restaurant workers.' One idly wonders if 50 years from now anyone will propose a Washington DC memorial installation to their memories.

I wonder what Joseph Campbell would make of us all right now, knowing that humans have always craved the lone figure of 'The Hero' for inspiration and emulation, and seeing that Western society is incapable of it anymore.

In February 1993, the Philalethes magazine published a piece about the Pike statue controversy that was raging back then. It was written by the Reverend Howard L. Woods, a Christian minister who served for ten years as the Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas F&AM. In 1991, he had been invited as the Lecturer for the Philalethes Society, the first Prince Hall Mason ever asked to do so, and still many years before Prince Hall recognition became widespread. GM Woods wrote before more recent scholarship has brought to light more of Pike's writings and verification that Pike did indeed provide his revised Scottish Rite rituals to help the Prince Hall aligned Scottish Rite.

The reverend Grand Master Woods' perspective in 1993 deserves to be repeated now, in light of what has happened this weekend.

The Albert Pike Statue: Let It Stand
There is no love lost between Prince Hall Masons and the memory of the late Albert Pike, Masonic Historian, writer, alleged ritualist for the Ku Klux Klan, but, if Freemasonry is to remain the bulwark of free-thinking people, then, "Let the statue remain!"
Like the natures he wrote about, Albert Pike showed the light and dark sides of his own soul, when with one breath he spoke of his willingness to give up his Freemasonry rather than recognize the Negro as a 'Masonic Brother' and with another breath, declared that every man should be free, for a free man is an asset, while a slave is a liability. Mankind is that way, and as long as the statue stands, America and Freemasonry will survive.
Let the statue be torn down and America and Freemasonry will be in jeopardy, for one would have to wonder, "What would be next?" As a Prince Hall Mason, an African American and supposedly free-thinker, I can see a higher power than the mortal mind of Albert Pike guiding his pen as he wrote such beautiful words of life without an occasional helping hand from someone "bigger than you or I."
Let the statue stand, even if it is proven that Albert Pike did write ritual for the Ku Klux Klan; more ignoble deeds have been done by others without sacrifice of their historic heroism.
Let the statue stand as a reminder that the good and evil of men are in equilibrium within us, and we all should strive for perfection now and in the future, not in the past. Let the statue stand!
 --Rev. Howard L. Woods, Grand Master, Prince Hall Masons of Arkansas.

*NOTE: Between 1887 and 1891, Albert Pike happily shared personal, autographed copies of his Scottish Rite Masonic degree rituals with his counterpart, Thornton A. Jackson, in the parallel Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction for black Prince Hall Masons, in order to assist their fledgling organization. Pike's correspondence has not survived, but in writings of the period, Jackson described Pike as his friend. Later comparisons of their two sets of rituals confirmed that the Prince Hall AASR-SJ today remain very close to those Pike wrote in the years before 1887.

Photos by Brother Efrian Olujimi Dalle; H/T to Brother Michael Wright

As a final post script to this entry, the following message about the Pike statue incident was issued on Sunday by MW Michael D. Nicholas, Sr., the Grand Master of the District of Columbia:

Grand Master's Statement

My Brethren,

This communication is directed to the Freemasons in the Grand Lodge, F.A.A.M of Washington, DC.

Most of you know of the recent destruction of the statue of Albert Pike in our Nation’s Capital. Regardless of your personal opinions about Albert Pike, I hope we can all agree as Masons that mob violence is not the way to resolve differences of opinion. The statue, which belongs to the U.S. National Park Service, was erected by an Act of Congress in 1898 and has been controversial from the beginning. Since its placement, neither the Scottish Rite nor our Grand Lodge has had ownership, responsibility, or control over the maintenance or fate of the statue.

To ignore the many positive contributions that Albert Pike made to Freemasonry later in his life, or to ignore the several controversial issues that his biography raises, would be equally disingenuous and dishonest. None of us are perfect human beings. Were we each to be judged solely by our bad decisions, rather than the totality of our life’s work, there would be very few statues indeed.

Those who vandalized the Pike statue are entitled to receive that same consideration. I hope you will choose to focus on the values of redemption, forgiveness, and love when forming your perspectives of this incident – towards both factions. Our task as Freemasons is to build bridges of communication and understanding. By looking forward instead of backward, we make progress in improving ourselves and our nation as we strive to build a more perfect Union.

The main purpose of this message is to address the here and now. What happened last Friday night is neither the beginning nor the end of these struggles toward the realization of the more egalitarian and representative society that our ritual teaches. And many of you are rightly passionate about these issues.

As we engage as members and leaders of our communities, I ask you to remember some of our core lessons, where we are instructed to “keep our passions within due bounds.” The ‘secrets’ of Freemasonry are not about some hidden treasure, but about how to control ourselves. It is a daunting challenge. Today’s abundance of social media outlets offers each of us almost countless opportunities to stress the limits of that control.

For your consideration I offer here the “Conclusion” of our Grand Lodge Social Media Policy, available on our website:

"Posting a comment related to the Fraternity and then posting a disparaging comment about a social or political stance can easily mislead a reader to believe your stance is representative of Masonry and all Masons. Remember that the public and members of the Masonic Fraternity are reading your posts online. You should always maintain your online conduct in a manner that elevates non-Masons’ image of the Craft and of your own dedication to it, and avoids any implication of improper or un-Masonic behavior as defined in the Code of our Grand Lodge."

Brethren, I ask you to heed this advice. Help to lower the temperature, not raise it. Be extremely conscious of the choices you make. And when you choose to comment on social media or provide remarks to the press, be aware that you speak as an individual. You are certainly – and hopefully – informed by your Masonic knowledge, but you do not speak for our Grand Lodge, nor Freemasonry in general. There is only one voice temporarily burdened with that responsibility.

In the absence of a clearly evident rationale for it, we must control our ego and avoid associating ourselves with our Craft in social postings. Let us be particularly vigilant to avoid using our wonderful but confusing honorific titles that cause further consternation among non-Masons.

Brethren, be part of the solution and do not exacerbate the problems. Together we can take up the challenge to circumvent divisiveness and act to help heal our Nation.

I want all of you to know that the leadership of your Grand Lodge is very much aware of the situation, and we are constantly looking to foster and promote the concepts of Freemasonry in our wonderful city of Washington, DC.

Thank you. May the Grand Architect continue to bless your families and your endeavors.

Sincerely & Fraternally,

Michael D. Nicholas, Sr.
Grand Master
The Grand Lodge, FAAM of Washington, DC

And the following statement was issued by the Grand Commander James Cole of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction (click image to enlarge):

Freemasons For Dummies is the internationally bestselling guide to the Masonic fraternity.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

De Hoyos on Pike: "The fruits of his labors live after him"

by Christopher Hodapp

As reported last night, the bronze statue of Freemason Albert Pike in Washington, DC was toppled by a mob of demonstrators, wrongly claiming it to be a 'Confederate monument.' Later reports detailed that the crowd (described as 'peaceful' in numerous reports all night) spent nearly two hours working to drag the Federally-owned statue from atop its tall stone plinth while scores of D.C. police officers stood by at their adjacent precinct building and just watched. Only after the statue fell and was set on fire with lighter fluid did officers move in, and only to extinguish the flames.

I've seen no report in the aftermath this morning as to what will be done with the fallen sculpture. And there has been no word as to whether anyone in the crowd will be charged with destroying Federal property.

Arturo De Hoyos
For those who haven't seen it this morning, Illus. Arturo De Hoyos posted the following statement on his Facebook page. As the Grand Archivist of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction, Art is arguably the world's foremost expert on Albert Pike's writings. If there is anyone on Earth who could claim to be intimately familiar with the record of Pike's life and works, it is Art. 

I quote him in his entirety:

** He has lived! The fruits of his labors live after him **

Like many of you, I watched the news last night as a mob pulled down and burned the statute of Albert Pike. Earlier in the day I gave a TV interview in which I said that Freemasons did not want the statue to be a point of conflict, but that it was property of the United States, under the Parks Service. I preferred that it be moved to a museum where he could be understood in context.

Last night, as the mob did their work, the news media called it a “Confederate Statue,” the presence of which was “painful.” In truth the statue had nothing to do with the Civil War. It was Pike as a Freemason, in civilian clothing, holding a copy of Morals and Dogma.

Pike was a man of his times who embodied the strengths and weaknesses of his generation. Freemasons acknowledge Pike’s personal foibles and frailties, and revere his ethical and moral teachings. They respect what he accomplished, and see in him an example of a person who was willing to abandon personal prejudices on the path to self-improvement.

Among his strong points was his pursuit of knowledge and self-improvement. Within one lifetime he seems to have lived multiple lives that sometimes overlapped each other. He was, for example, an advocate for Native American rights, an accomplished attorney, an author, an educator, an explorer, an historian, a military leader (Brigadier General), a philosopher, a poet, and a translator.

A Boston native, Pike’s wanderlust led him to explore the South and follow the Santa Fe Trail. He had a particular fascination with Native Americans, and became a friend to several tribes, compiling personal dictionaries of their languages and dialects. Later in life, as an attorney, he became a legal advocate for Native Americans, trying to secure the rights which they had been promised by the government.

As with other “larger than life” vocal personalities, he was occasionally controversial. Strongly in favor of the Tenth Amendment (States rights) Pike, like many other Americans, sided with the South during the American Civil War. Although his wife’s family owned slaves he personally considered slavery a great evil, and the greatest calamity of the South. In 1856 he walked out of the Southern Convention saying, “he would suffer himself to be torn by wild horses before he would justify the renewal of the African slave trade.” He was ridiculed for his hope that a time would come for all men to be free, but he failed to condemn slavery outright. Following the war, under President Johnson’s amnesty proclamation, Pike returned to private life and in late 1869/early 1870 he moved with the Scottish Rite to reside in Washington, DC.

Pike has been quoted to say that he preferred to leave Freemasonry than sit in lodges with Black men. If this was his earlier view, he matured and changed. In fact, he became a supporter of Black Freemasonry and enjoyed a friendship with Thornton A. Jackson, Grand Commander of the Prince Hall Affiliation. Pike even shared his rituals with the Prince Hall Freemasons, and exchanged cordial and fraternal letters.

After Pike’s death he was maligned when it was falsely alleged that he had been a member of the KKK. Pike’s enemies claimed he was one of the founders and/or chief judicial officer of the KKK. However, when the US Congress investigated the KKK in 1871, its report failed to support these allegations. (Testimony Taken by the Joint Select Committee to Inquire into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States, 13 vols. [Washington: Government Printing Office, 1872]). The allegations were so prevalent and persistent that even some Masonic writers were fooled and repeated them. However, there are no primary documents, membership records, or letters from Pike’s time which suggest his participation in any way. In the vast collection of the Supreme Council’s archives, there is not a single document connecting him with the KKK.

Another false claim is that Pike was a “Luciferian.” The French hoaxer Leo Taxil (Gabriel Jogand-Pages) asserted that Pike was the “Sovereign Pontiff of Universal Freemasonry,” and that he taught the worship of Lucifer in the Scottish Rite’s highest degrees. Taxil later publically admitted this was a hoax, at the expense of the Catholic church. Although Freemasonry admits good men of any faith, Pike was himself a Bible-believing Christian, who encouraged Masons to respect Jesus “Above all the other great teachers of morality and virtue” (Morals and Dogma 28:573). In several long passages, Pike implored Masons to follow Jesus’s example, calling him “the Great Master” whose life was an “undeniable Gospel” (M&D 28:575). Pike urged us, “Believe that there is a God; that He is our father; that He has a paternal interest in our welfare and improvement; that He has given us powers, by means of which we may escape from sin and ruin; that He has destined us to a future life of endless progress toward perfection and a knowledge of Himself—believe this, as every Mason should, and you can live calmly, endure patiently, labor resolutely, deny yourselves cheerfully, hope steadfastly, and be conquerors in the great struggle of life” (M&D 12:22). 

Throughout his writing Pike encouraged us to make the most of ourselves, to see ourselves as part of a human family, and to do good to all: “Learn, that you may be enabled to do good; and do so because it is right, finding in the act itself ample reward and recompense. To attain the truth, and to serve our fellows, our country, and mankind—this is the noblest destiny of man” (M&D 4:8-9).

Perhaps, however, his most famous saying is that famously engraved near his bust at the House of the Temple: “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” These wise words remain as true today, as when he spoke them.

Freemasons honor Albert Pike for the several reasons: for his love of a fraternity which seeks to improve the social order and encourages humankind to find commonalities to form bonds of friendship; for his willingness to discard personal prejudices when confronted by better information; and perhaps, most of all, for his love of the truth and commitment to share whatever truth he discovered.

Like the rest of us, Albert Pike was far from perfect. But he had the moral courage to abandon the past and move forward. He tried to make his personal weaknesses into strengths, and his writings encourage us to do the same. The remainder of his life was dedicated to a Fraternity that seeks to transcend barriers, both real and artificial, to make strangers into Brothers. This is why, when his statue was erected in Judiciary Square in 1901, it was attended by men who had previously faced each other on the battlefield.

Pike never wanted a statute of himself. Rather, he said:

“When I am dead, I wish my monument to be builded only in the hearts and memories of my Brethren of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, and my name to be remembered by them in every country, no matter what language men may speak there, where the light of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite shall shine, and its oracles of Truth and Wisdom be reverently listened to.”