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

Thursday, April 09, 2020

'Your Son Is My Brother': the Masonic Service Centers of World War II

by Christopher Hodapp

Over the weekend I posted a link to a YouTube video of then-senator and Freemason Harry Truman addressing the nation in 1942 during World War II about the Masonic Service Association and what eventually turned into 90 Army-Navy Masonic Service Centers across the U.S. After I called attention to that clip, I received a sizable raft of feedback from all over the country asking about that program of the MSA and Truman's involvement. 

It seems that Masons today are interested today in how the fraternity banded together with enough solidarity during a time of previous world crises to do something that benefitted their country and their communities on a national basis. And some are asking why we can't do that again.

Since we're all essentially under home detention for the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic shutdown, I took the opportunity to update and slightly revise a Power Point presentation I did about the Masonic Service Centers last January for Indiana's Dwight L. Smith Lodge of Research U.D. 

It's available now on YouTube and on Facebook.

Your Son Is My Brother - Youtube

Your Son Is My Brother - Facebook

On Monday I'll be facilitating an online conversation with Harry Truman's grandson, Brother Clifton Truman Daniel talking about some of the important Masonic influences in President Truman's life and several important Masonic events he was involved with, even during his presidency. The Service Centers were only one of many Masonic projects he was involved in. Throughout his lifetime he was an active participant and supporter of the fraternity. The online program is being sponsored by the Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees, and I'll post login details as soon as I know them.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Indiana's Masonic Museum Artifact Highlighted

by Christopher Hodapp

Ah, timing is everything. On my local front, we were gearing up for summer visitors at the Masonic Library & Museum of Indiana. New banners, new promotions, new graphics, maybe some public programs — now all on hold indefinitely until the COVID-19 pandemic nationwide shutdown finally comes to an end.

So naturally, the April 2020 issue of Indianapolis Monthly magazine just arrived arrived today, especially highlighting all of our capitol city’s great restaurants — that we can’t go visit until the state's pandemic restrictions are lifted. Such are the odd vicissitudes of magazine deadlines closing sometimes months in advance of actual publication.

The back page of the magazine always features an unusual artifact from around the City every month. April’s artifact is none other than the Masonic Library and Museum of Indiana’s unique folk art sculpture by nineteenth century Indiana Mason George S. Frank. It is shown in a beautiful, full-page photo by Tony Valainis with a description of the piece, complete with a few words from our director Mike Brumback (click the image up top to enlarge it).

The magazine should be on news stands this week. It's a terrific mention of our little-known museum to the general public, and just in time for us to be shut down to all visitors and workers.

So it goes.

For more about this unique and complex hand-carved artifact from the late 19th century, have a look at this more detailed article: Symbolism in Wood: The Enigmatic Masonic Puzzle of Brother George S. Frank

Someday, when the world regains its health and sanity, stop in and see us on the 5th floor of the Indianapolis Masonic Temple at 525 N. Illinois Street in Indianapolis. Someday.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Truman: "None will look askance and say, 'Where was Freemasonry in this hour of need?'"

by Christopher Hodapp

Last year I was researching information about Masonic communities activities during World War II and the creation of a national network of U.S.O.-like service clubs by grand lodges and the Masonic Service Association. By the war's end there were 90 Army-Navy Masonic Service Centers located in major Masonic halls all across the country that provided meals, recreation, transportation, letter-writing material and services, and free long-distance phone calls to military personnel.

Now the Truman Presidential Library in Missouri has just posted this Youtube video of a later radio and newsreel address by Harry Truman about those very Masonic Service Centers. It was his second such message widely disseminated to the public about how Freemasonry served the military at the time.

(If it doesn't play above, visit the link HERE.)

The program was the brainchild of the MSA's director Carl H. Claudy and Missouri Past Grand Master, Senator Harry S Truman. In July 1941, Senator Truman gave a national radio address entitled “Masonry Serves the Armed Forces” in which he outlined programs being proposed by the Masonic Service Association to help, aid and assist servicemen in the event of war, and he exhorted brethren across the country to get busy immediately putting them into practice. It was clear that war in Europe and Asia was coming to the American soldier sooner than later, and Truman’s radio message was the official call to action for the nation’s Freemasons. Truman’s encouragement would become even more influential to Masons and the public in general, as he would soon be named as Roosevelt’s vice presidential running mate. 

The video above is actually a follow up message reporting on the activities of the Centers a year into the program.

Between 1941 and 1945, more than 16 million American men and women would eventually serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, and another 3.5 million worked as federal civilian employees during the war. Those are all sobering statistics today in an age when just one half of one percent of Americans are in uniform. Never before would so many Americans be uprooted from the familiar surroundings of their homes, families and communities, and moved to so many unfamiliar regions of the nation and the world with so little preparation and support.

The more than two and a half million U.S. Freemasons across the country had a major stake in the lives of military personnel. By 1944 during the height of the war, the MSA would estimate that 25% of all servicemen and women were either Masons, or from the families of Masons.

Years before the attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into World War II, the national Masonic Service Association had done a national survey of Masonic halls and military bases. It was determined that they already had ideal social facilities sitting in nearly every American city and town, large and small, in the form of existing Masonic temples. The post-WWI building boom of the 1920s meant the Masons had plenty of big, centrally located buildings that would could accommodate visiting soldiers in large numbers. 

With a little bit of work, combined with their own dedicated volunteers from within the wider Masonic family of organizations, the Masonic Service Centers were born. The first center was officially opened in 1941 in the large Masonic temple in Columbus, South Carolina. By the war’s end, there were about 90 centers nationwide.

The Masonic Service Centers were designed to address the huge morale problem of hundreds of thousands of young soldiers far from home for the first time in their lives, suddenly finding themselves in strange towns without friends or relatives. The Centers received no funding from the USO or any other federal agency. Many religious groups also sponsored their own similar sorts of social centers for soldiers, but in public notices about the Masonic centers it was stressed that they were open to all service personnel regardless of race, creed, color or Masonic affiliation. That made them different from other church-related centers across the country, or private membership clubs that often had racial or religious restrictions, which were so common to the period. 

In my own state, just between January 1944 and the official end of the war in August of 1945, Indiana’s Masons hosted more than 80,000 service personnel at its two Service Centers. Agents, hostesses and Cadettes wrote thousands of letters and made hundreds of phone calls on behalf of soldiers unable to contact home on their own, and even communicated with lodges in other jurisdictions to report on the status of their military members while in the state. Throughout the course of the war, an average of 100 soldiers a day came through each of our centers.

Harry Truman assumed the presidency upon the death of Franklin Roosevelt in 1945. After the conclusion of the war, President Truman and Carl Claudy still saw an ongoing purpose for the fraternity and the MSA’s national leadership in helping the military. At Truman’s encouragement, the Masonic volunteerism of the Service Centers was converted into the MSA’s hospital visitation program in 1947, which continues to this very day. 

There may be a very simple motivating factor that drove men to join the ranks of our fraternity during and after the war. Truman's messages went nationwide, on radio and in movie houses. In this one he says something that may have resonated with a bigger cross-section of the American public than you might imagine today when most of us don't hear common messages from influencers and newsmakers anymore. He says, 
"At this very moment, in foxholes and on shipboard, beneath the sea and in the air, countless hands are being clasped in fraternal recognition as brothers find one another in the darkness as well as in the daylight. And countless fathers bravely wishing 'Godspeed' to their departing sons are saying, "Boy, when your hour of darkness and loneliness comes, find a Freemason, and tell him you are the son of a Freemason, and you'll find a friend..."
Stop and think for a moment about the power that message must have had, coming from the man who would soon be Vice-President and then President himself, and the tens of thousands who remembered it and took it to heart, both during and after the war. Fourteen years after the end of the war, American Masonry hit its membership record of more than 4 million members.

It's no wonder they joined in droves.

SRRS Posts 'Future of Freemasonry' Issue of Plumbline Online - Read It Now

by Christopher Hodapp

About a month ago I called attention to the Winter issue of the Scottish Rite Research Society publication, The Plumbline and the feature article by Angel Millar, The Future of Freemasonry and What We Have To Offer.  At the time, I said it was important enough that every Masonic leader today needs to get hold of a copy and read it - Worshipful Masters, Wardens, and absolutely every grand lodge officer of any jurisdiction.

It really is that important.

The SRRS normally doesn't post their publications for free online, but they've just done so with this particular issue. It is available in its entirety at the link below:

The nationwide COVID pandemic shutdown makes this the perfect time to read this issue and ponder on the issues it discusses. In six pages, Brother Millar encapsulates a whole raft of topics and articles I've been posting about for three years now concerning the current social, economic and emotional issues facing men in American (and Western) society, and the generational changes over the last decades that are all having a transformative effect on our fraternity. 

We don't exist in a vacuum, and what happens in the world around us has good and bad transformational effects on our lodges and the men in them. The longstanding bonds that passed the traditions of Freemasonry from one generation to the next have almost all been shattered in the last 50 years. Diminishing male role models, single mother households, fewer (if any) siblings, the decline of religious worship and its related group activities, and the rise of the nebulous "I'm spiritual, not religious" mindset are all having measurable repercussions for us. Angel covers a lot of ground in this essay, and especially cites recent, vital survey results by Jon Ruark about attitudes of our members.

For two decades I've been weary with Masons who only want to proclaim, "Ya know what's WRONG with this fraternity...?" Those types of articles and speeches have little more value than the average barstool philosopher. That's not what this is. Angel is not trying to do an autopsy on a dead organization. The rest of the article discusses the new wave of bottom-up changes being made in local lodges that are reinvigorating — and redefining — Masonic education, and driving the evolution of the fraternity at the grassroots level. He spends time especially discussing the MasonicCon concept pioneered by Ezekiel Bates Lodge in Attleboro, Massachusetts, and notes its growing numbers of imitators. He also discusses a New York program, 'Brothers For Brothers,' that teaches the basic life skills to new generations who haven't otherwise had the opportunity to learn them before: communication, public speaking, personal grooming and sartorial care, professional development — all are confidence-building skills that used to be passed from father to son, but rarely are anymore.

Freemasonry started out as a fraternity of gentleman with the aim of educating and improving a growing class of rough and rugged middle-class men - making those good men into better ones by example and education. We have that very same mission today, and society needs us just as much as it did in London in 1717, or western Kentucky in 1800, or California in 1849.

Most of us have just been given a long period of time away from our day to day grind at this bizarre moment in time. Don't waste it. Use it to study the past, contemplate the present, and plan for the future. Our fraternity needs all of us going forward, and we can't waste our efforts just doing the same things we've been doing that have been shrinking our membership rolls and our roles within our communities for decades. It's long past time to act for positive and constructive programs and changes. And this issue of the Plumbline is a good starting place.

Thanks to everyone at the SRRS for making this happen. 

If you're not a member of the Scottish Rite Research Societythe Plumbline is their excellent quarterly publication of papers and articles, edited by Adam Kendall. This is in addition to the annual collection of Heredom, AND their annual bonus book or publication. It's truly the greatest value in the entire Masonic research world.

Additional reading from this site on these topics:

Robert Putnam's seminal study of the decline in social capital since the 1950s that is cited in countless articles, Bowling Alone, was released twenty years ago, yet it seems that frustrated Masonic leaders just keep freshly discovering it year after year. 

Putnam is releasing a new, updated edition of the book in June of this year: Bowling Alone: Revised and Updated: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. 

It is available for pre-order now.

Two good starting references for recent examinations of the post-Bowling Alone era breakdown in social capital and the current results on U.S. society are Charles Murray's Coming Apart, and Timothy Carney's Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse. There are many more, but these are good beginnings.

And every Masonic leader needs to be conversant with the General Social Survey, taken since 1972, which is the baseline study for almost anyone with an interest in studying the attitudes and activities of Americans.


Friday, April 03, 2020

"Freemasonry, notwithstanding, has still survived. "

by Christopher Hodapp

RW Michael Halleran, Past Grand Master of Kansas and former editor of the Journal of the Masonic Society, just passed along this artwork for a Masonic/COVID graphic. 

"Wanted to do something to help," Mike wrote. "Enclosed is a 6x9 jpg poster I did up today that any lodge or grand lodge can freely use...if it helps, please post it. The poster is suitable for social media posting as is, and can be printed (if that is still a thing) at a 1:1 ratio at 6 inches by 9 inches."

The quote, "Freemasonry, notwithstanding, has still survived," is taken from the explanation of Geometry that appears just before the Charge to the Fellow Craft that is fairly commonly heard throughout North American Masonic rituals in most jurisdictions. William Preston printed it in his Illustrations in 1779, and it quickly began to encircle the globe as Masons traveled on English ships to distant colonies.*

That passage is one of my favorites in all of Masonic ritual, and was part of the first extended lecture I ever learned in my whirlwind trip to the Worshipful Master's chair. 
"The lapse of time, the ruthless hand of ignorance, and the devastations of war have laid waste and destroyed many valuable monuments of antiquity, on which the utmost exertions of human genius have been employed. Even the Temple of Solomon, so spacious and magnificent, and constructed by so many celebrated artists, escaped not the ravages of barbarous force. 
Freemasonry, notwithstanding, has still survived.  
Indeed, it has. 

After the American Revolution. the Antients' lodges spread across the new nation and quickly supplanted the Moderns, who were largely seen as Loyalists. By then, Preston's lectures were already being incorporated into American lodge rituals. In 1797, Thomas Smith Webb's Freemason’s Monitor or Illustrations of Masonry, was published and was quickly adopted across America as the closest thing to an 'official ritual' most grand lodges would have for another century. Webb included the lecture verbatim. 

Since our beginnings, American Masonry and Masons have suffered revolution, persecution, numerous wars, countless diseases, epidemics and pandemics, multiple economic depressions, and more. 

But Freemasonry, notwithstanding, has still survived. 

Stay safe, Brethren.

By the way, here's one for my home jurisdiction in Indiana.

* (Yes, I've updated this post to reflect that the phrase did NOT originate with Dermott's Ahiman Rezon in the 1750s. Serves me right for not double checking my sources. It doesn't appear in an edition of Ahiman Rezon until Stickle's greatly expanded edition in the 1860s.)

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Jacksonville, Illinois Masonic Temple Hits the Market

by Christopher Hodapp

The truly unique art-deco Masonic hall of Harmony Lodge No. 3 in Jacksonville, Illinois has just hit the market. Their temple board voted last week to offer the Depression era for sale via an online auction.
The hall is also home to Zingabad Grotto. Both groups will continue to reside there until the building is sold. And some members have expressed a desire to continue to rent their lodge room space from new owners, if possible. 

I came across the early story of Harmony Lodge in an 1870 volume of The Masonic Trowel magazine. Following the shuttering of the first Grand Lodge of Illinois by 1827 during the most rabid years of the Anti-Masonic period, Masons in Jacksonville were issued a dispensation in 1837 by the Grand Lodge of Missouri, and chartered as Missouri's Jacksonville Harmony Lodge No. 24. In fact, the Grand Lodge of Illinois AF&AM was actually resurrected and organized at the original Masonic hall in Jacksonville on April 6, 1840. At that time, six Illinois lodges were issued their new Illinois charters and it became Harmony Lodge No. 3. Jacksonville was later the site of several annual communications of the revived Grand Lodge over the years. That's a significant milestone for Illinois Masons, and Harmony Lodge 3 deserves to have a significant home bespeaking its vital historical role. Let us hope they can remain in this unique temple, or erect a new one worthy of that heritage, and not just another anonymous steel shed in a cornfield. 

According to an article last Thursday in the Journal Courier, the Masonic center will be sold through an online, no-reserve auction by Cory Craig Auction Service at corycraig.com. Bidding will begin April 1 and continue through 6 p.m. April 30.

Jacksonville sits about 35 miles west of the state capitol of Springfield. According to the article, at its peak the lodge reportedly had almost 1,200 dues-paying members, likely during the height of Masonic popularity in the late 1950s—today, they are down to 250 (although it's unclear whether they meant the lodge or the Grotto). 

Brother Jerry Maples down in Texas has family ties to Jacksonville, Illinois , and he penned a thoughtful letter to the newspaper over the weekend. 
While I realize that membership is declining and rental revenues are declining from businesses that occupy parts of such eloquent buildings, I still feel sad over such sales.
I know they are needed, given those realities. Still, at one time the Masonic Hall of nearly any given city was a hub of community life. Masonry existed long before radio, TV, telephone or internet. Going to a lodge meeting was more than mere “male-bonding” — it was where one learned of births, weddings, community news, deaths and notices of people in need … and the Masons are noted as a benevolent association that endeavors to help others, both members and non-members.
Although the members constitute “the lodge,” I still maintain that the historic ambiance of some lodges add to the initiation experience of a candidate. Freemasonry is not a religion, yet it inculcates virtues lessons in ethics. The lodge halls can be downsized.
Masonry will survive, but somehow I don’t feel it will quite be the same. Yet I encourage any man interested in good moral virtues who wishes to associate with other like-minded men men to consider joining.
You’ll be glad you did.
James A. Marples, Longview, Texas

Amen, Brother. Amen.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Isolation Is A(nother) Good Reason For New Books

by Christopher Hodapp

UPDATE APRIL 6, 2020: 
I just received word as of today that the MSA is now officially sold out of ALL editions of these books - both the Master Mason cloth bindings and the grand Master leather ones! Richard asks that you please not try to order any more.

That said, Carl Davis' weekly devotional book also mentioned in this original post , Making Good Men Better, is NOT sold out and still very much available!


A major bargain on expensive Masonic books doesn't happen very often, but this is a real opportunity for lodges, libraries and individual Masons seeking a massive educational resource. 

As reported here several months ago, the Masonic Service Association is moving its headquarters from Maryland to Iowa. The complete six-volume set of hardbound editions of the Short Talk Bulletins starting in the 1920s is now on sale at what is almost a giveaway price. The full set of the Master Mason cloth-bound, hardback edition is just $120, and this combined set contains over 1,000 Short Talk Bulletins. 

If you are looking for the higher quality leather bound Grand Master editions, they are going for $40 apiece. All of these prices are less than a third of their original cover price.

This means you could have a complete set of these books for less than the price of two of them when they were first printed. Don't let this deal slip by. Every Masonic Lodge and Masonic research library really should have these sets.

There are hundreds of hidden gems, historical tales, ritual information, symbolism explanations and exploration, and scores of other sorts of topics to be found in these beautiful volumes. Every Single Short Talk Bulletin from 1923 through 2017 has been edited, re-typeset and blessedly indexed for these books by S. Brent Morris of the Scottish Rite Research Society. You could literally read one article every single day for almost the next three years. Never be at a loss for 'Masonic education' at you meetings ever again - you can walk into your lodge, literally open any of these books and start reading one aloud (once we can all meet again).

The sale was announced in the most recent mailing of the MSA Short Talk Bulletin and Emessay Notes. Note that the sale price is NOT reflected on the MSA's webpage, so you'll need to contact them directly. (Nothing on the MSA website seems to have been updated since Simon LaPlace left several months ago.)

Email: msaoffice@msana.com
Tel: (301) 476-7330
Toll-free: (855) 476-4010

A new book has just been released by WB Carl W. Davis, and it couldn't come at a more opportune time. Making Good Men Better: A 52 Week Personal Growth Plan Based on the Teachings of Freemasonry is designed as a weekly Masonic devotional designed to instruct and inspire the contemplative Brother with a year’s worth of lessons about our symbolism, our philosophy, and even the phrases we use. Since we are all trapped in our houses for the duration of the COVID pandemic, Carl's book gives you the chance to advance your own personal thinking about Masonic principles and concepts as the weeks go by.

The daily or weekly devotional reader was once one of those common items that almost everyone in the Western world was familiar with, at least until the last 50 years or so. Most commonly circulated in the Christian tradition, these little booklets provided short readings, Biblical quotations, homilies, stories, and other inspirational content to be used during a daily time of prayer or spiritual meditation. The brief passages were meant to inspire or prompt the reader’s own deeper thoughts and reflection throughout the course of a week, a month, or a year.

Making Good Men Better is divided into 52 chapters, intended to be read one per week, and each chapter is followed by space to record your own reflections or notes. Because Carl has traveled extensively and visited Masonic lodges in a wide variation of jurisdictions, he combines concepts from several rituals with which you may not be entirely familiar with in an effort to examine and broaden our understanding of them. Sometimes it's helpful to look at a very different expression of the same symbol or ritualistic aspect through the eyes from a different state or country. Our rituals weren't carved in stone in most cases until the late 19th century when printed ciphers began to unify the work in any given state. Up until then, jurisdictions or individual lodges often added or subtracted paragraphs or entire lectures seen or heard or invented elsewhere.

WB Davis' book covers all kinds of elements, from ritual and symbolism, to certain practices and traditions we observe in lodge every day without examining how or why we do them. And the book is designed to digest these interpretations in small chunks, with space to record your own thoughts. Put it on your bedside table, set a weekly reminder on your phone, and try to use it as it was intended. It's a worthwhile habit to take up.
Sadly, the widespread tradition of the devotional reader has fallen by the wayside among the wider population today (although ironically, in these days of self-publishing, there is no shortage of them to be found in print and online today).

Society could use more quiet contemplation these days. 
The current enforced isolation gives us all a new opportunity to pick up new habits. This is a good one.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Mississippi Lodge Partners With Local Developer To Save Historic Hall

A month can't go by without a story appearing about the loss of another significant Masonic hall or temple. But every once in a while, I get positive messages like this one. WB Matthew Farmer, Worshipful Master of Abert Lodge 89 in Starkville, Mississippi writes, "To all those whose historic Lodges are being sold or mismanaged, the potential is there, expand your minds and look at all opportunities..."

Our lodge has partnered with a local historic developer to completely renovate our lodge to it's historic glory. It will be a $1.2 million renovation to keep and improve our historical status in this city. Our lodge hosted the Rex Theater downstairs in the '20s. The Rex Theater was the first building in Starkville to receive air-conditioning.

This project will not cost the lodge a dime. (besides increased insurance and tax of course), but it otherwise ensures that the entire building will be around and in "lodge" hands for a while. We have signed a 55-year lease with the developer ensuring income for the lodge, more than accounting for inflation.

From a February 25th story on the WTVA website:

Mark Castleberry, a property developer in the Golden Triangle and owner of Castle Properties, partnered with local business, Glo, and the Masonic Lodge to restore the Rex Theater. The building is located on West Main Street.
He plans to transform the former theater into an office space for Glo. Glo sells liquid-activated, light-up cubes that are designed to be placed into drinks for a colorful sip.
The redevelopment of Rex Theater will provide a larger space for the business to operate.

The Starkville Masonic Lodge has occupied the property for more than 100 years. A fire destroyed the first building in 1929. When it was rebuilt in 1931, the theater was constructed on the first floor.
Castleberry plans to work with the National Parks Service and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to maintain the property’s historic integrity.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Scottish Rite NMJ Presents "Unpanic the Pandemic" with Surgeon General Thursday

by Christopher Hodapp

This Thursday, March 26th, the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction will present a live-stream information session with the Surgeon General of the United States, Jerome Adams, MD, entitled, "Un-Panic the Pandemic: Our Community Partnership on the 2019 Coronavirus ."

New York's Junior Grand Warden, Worshipful Brother E. Oscar Alleyne, 33°, DrPH, MPH, has arranged this program and he will be presenting along with with the Surgeon General. Illustrious Brother Alleyne, 33° is a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of the Hudson.

While Oscar is known far and wide within the fraternity as one of the most active and well-traveled Masons you'll ever encounter anywhere, many may not know that he is a Doctor of Public Health and the Chief Programs and Services Officer at the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) in Washington, DC. That's a long way of saying he's on the front lines of this pandemic right now, and has been working with the CDC and the Surgeon General to help stem the spread. 

The goal of the broadcast is to provide clear, truthful information to Brethren and their families as we all confront the challenges posed by the virus in our homes and communities. Sovereign Grand Commander Glattly will also field a few questions on how Brothers can continue to connect with Brothers in their lodges and Valleys. 

The program will be presented live on  on Facebook this Thursday, March 26 at 7:00 pm (ET)

The schedule is as follows:

  • 7pm (ET) Introductions
  • Dr. Jerome Adams, Surgeon General provides the latest updates
  • Brother Oscar Alleyne on the impact on our communities and what we can do to stay healthy and well
  • Michael C. Russell, Scottish Rite Executive Director, moderates questions
  • David A. Glattly, Sovereign Grand Commander addresses the Brethren
  • 7:30-7:45 Program Ends
To Join the Broadcast on Facebook, simply go to the Scottish Rite NMJ page at that 7PM. You can find the page here

If you are not on Facebook the program will be recorded.
The link will also be posted in the "What's Happening" section on the home page of the NMJ website.

Dr. Jerome Adams is an American anesthesiologist and a vice admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps who currently serves as the 20th Surgeon General of the United States. Prior to becoming Surgeon General, he served as the Indiana State Health Commissioner, from 2014–2017.

Dr. Adams attended medical school at Indiana University School of Medicine as an Eli Lilly and Company Scholar. He also received a Master of Public Health degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 2000, with a focus on chronic disease prevention. He is board certified in anesthesiology.

Illus. Dr. Oscar Alleyne, 33°, is the Chief Programs and Services Officer at the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) in Washington, DC. He has wide ranging experience in local and national public health sectors. He is skilled in in Epidemiology, Health Communication, Population Health Planning and Assessment, Government, Emergency Preparedness, Informatics, Biosurveillance, and Environmental Health.

He holds a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) focused in Health Policy and Management from New York Medical College and a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Environmental Health and Epidemiology.

UGLE Leads Nightly Nine O'Clock Toasts To Absent Friends

by Christopher Hodapp

"If at nine o'clock you listen
when around this festive board,
If you listen very closely,
with your hearts tuned in accord,
You'll hear, when in the West and South,
you're charged in fullest measure,
Some distant voices calling,
"Brother may we have the pleasure?"

For at nine o'clock we Toast you,
wherever you may stand,
At home, or maybe out of town,
or in some far-off land;
With cheerful hearts and distant thoughts,
we steal a moment's leisure;
To call our ancient challenge;
"Brother may we have the pleasure?"

For we are bound together
by a universal link;
We drink from that Masonic Cup
from which we all may drink;
To our far-flung Brotherhood,
whose fellowship we treasure,
The old Masonic greeting,
"Brother may we have the pleasure?"
Brethren the Toast is "TO OUR ABSENT BRETHREN""!

Last Saturday night at 9:00PM GMT, the United Grand Lodge of England encouraged Freemasons everywhere to raise their glasses simultaneously, wherever they were, and toast the time-honored toast "To our absent brethren." 

The worldwide event was promoted on Twitter with the hashtag #TimetoToast. 

UGLE's Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes posted a Twitter photo of himself leading the toast at 9PM in London. Here in the US, it was 5PM in New York, 4PM in Chicago, and 2PM in Los Angeles. All over the world, individual Masons everywhere joined in, raised a glass in the lonesome quiet of their own homes, and sipped "from that Masonic cup from which we all may drink." And for that moment, we shared in this brotherhood that is so important to us all.

The solitude of the enforced COVID-19 virus isolation only made it more poignant.

Great Queen Street quickly widened the scope of the nightly tradition, and now hopes the entire world - whether Mason or not - will pause at 9PM every single night, wherever they are, raise a glass, and think of absent friends. 

Indeed, on Sunday night, UGLE Grand Secretary, Dr. David Staples did likewise at the stroke of nine. 

The nightly toast and the hashtag quickly circulated the Intertubz and social media over the weekend, and by Monday, both Newsweek and UK's The Week ran the story.

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, however, Britain's Freemasons are breaking with convention to invite the general public to take part in a centuries-old tradition to remind people that they are "not alone."
The "Nine O'Clock Toast" is "a tradition within Freemasonry that has been observed for many hundreds of years," Dr. David Staples, the CEO and Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) told Newsweek on Monday.
From modern-day meetings at the pub to gatherings convened at the height of two world wars, the tradition, he said, sees members raise a glass during dinner at 9 p.m. each evening to honor their "Absent Brethren" or their fellow Freemasons who cannot be there with them.

"Our members know that wherever they are in the world and whatever they are doing at 9 o'clock, somebody will be raising a glass to them and remembering them," Staples said.
In the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has forced friends and family around the world to remain apart in order to avoid catching and spreading the virus, such a message could likely not be more welcome.

"This is a tradition that we have had for 300 years and it's something that we think helps people to not feel quite so lonely and isolated," Staples said.
With the COVID-19 outbreak forcing people to stay apart, whether they are living under lockdown policies, are in quarantine, or are choosing to self-isolate, Staples said he hoped that participating in the Freemason tradition might help them feel less alone.
Using the hashtag #TimetoToast, Freemasons and members of the public are being asked to participate in a nightly "virtual" toast.
"This is about sharing one of our traditions which we think will help people to feel a little less lonely, a little less isolated," he said. "If they can do that every night, to raise a glass to the people they're missing."
By Monday, even England's female Masons were on board with the idea. Grand Master Christine Chapman of the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons (HFAF), one of two English grand lodges of Freemasonry for women, issued her own statement in accord with David Staples: 

"We must combat loneliness by ensuring that, even if we are all in our own homes, we are still connecting across the country."
"Dr Staples and I urge everyone to charge their glass at 9pm and say a toast to absent friends, and those working on the frontline," Chapman said.

Why at 9:00 PM, you ask? It is at nine o'clock that the hands of a clock form the fourth part of a circle, an angle of ninety degrees, which is celebrated and described in Masonic ritual. 

In some traditions, the nine o'clock toast is explained by saying that our Mystic Circle is not complete because of absent brethren, represented by that missing fourth part. 

Of course, that is in places that wisely never followed the American dabbling in Prohibition taken up so enthusiastically by some U.S. Masonic jurisdictions and which continues today. The rest of the world didn't fall for such tommyrot.

One caution that Grand Secretary Staples did mention, even in the press, was for Masons not to post online videos or images of Masonic toasting "choreography." Toasting in Freemasonry is as just steeped in symbolism and tradition as everything else we do.

Anyone who has ever attended a true Masonic Festive Board replete with the ceremonial seven toasts can tell you it is a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and harkens back to our early 1700's tavern origins. It is noisy, occasionally athletic, and deliberately complicated - particularly by the shank of the evening and after imbibing five or six previous toasts. We Masons even have our own specialized glassware for the occasion, known as 'cannons.'

But the one thing it was never, ever meant to be was solitary. Isolation is the very antithesis of our Masonic fraternity, and the toast to absent Brethren reflects that lament.

The Atlantic just posted an article on Monday about the corrosive and lingering damage that further breakdown in communal life and activities will have on society as a whole. The Western world was already suffering from the destruction of communal life and institutions before the COVID pandemic hit. When it finally passes, let us all seriously pray that civilization doesn't suffer a social recession to go with the doubtless economic one that will come in its wake.

By Tuesday this week, Masons all over the world were either joining in at 9PM London time, or alternately, individual lodges and some grand lodges were encouraging their members to meet online at 9PM in their local time zone and remember their own absent brethren. 

Personally, I think that UGLE has the right idea. Let's encourage everyone, Mason or not, to pause at the very same moment and remember absent friends.

Traditionally, the final toast of the evening is commonly called the Tyler's Toast, and in my own Lodge Vitruvan 767 here in my home town, our Festive Board's 7th toast ends with these words:
Dear brethren of the mystic tie, the night is waning fast,
Our work is done, our feast is o'er, this toast must be the last.
Good night to all, once more good night,
again that farewell strain,
"Happy to meet, sorry to part, happy to meet again."

Brethren, I give you the Tyler's Toast:
To all poor and distressed brethren,
Wheresoe'er they may be, on the land, the sea or in the air.
Wishing them a speedy relief from their suffering,
And a safe return to their native land, If they so desire.
Let's extend that same sentiment to everyone the world over.

A speedy relief to your suffering, and a safe return to your home. 

And normalcy once again. 


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

New Facebook Group for Masonic Building Administrators

by Christopher Hodapp

The COVID shutdown has brought its own fresh set of issues for all building managers, but for Masonic buildings that struggle, it may affect some of us more than average buildings, depending on the ways yours is used. Many of our Masonic halls and temples are over a hundred years old, and those older buildings come with their own sets of expensive, unique and hard to solve problems. 

Brother Ernesto Fernando in Cambridge, Massachusetts has just started a new private Facebook page specifically for Masonic Building Presidents, Chairmen, Trustees, Directors, Masters of single-lodge buildings, or other principal administrators of Masonic buildings to share ideas, solutions, hunt advice, or just commiserate. 

If you are such a person, or know one, or are connected to a group who may have one in it, please join or share. The hope is to reach a critical enough mass of participants that the page becomes a working asset to all Masonic building administrators everywhere.



Historic Building Maintenance Online Resource

by Christopher Hodapp

About a dozen years ago, I encountered an incredible online resource with advice for the care and feeding of historic old buildings. Building preservation and restoration is not confined to any single type of structure.

The website was actually part of the People of Scotland Churches Trust, and the Maintain Your Church section was packed with articles, online toolkits, tutorials, glossaries and more, covering everything from retrofitting stone buildings for HVAC systems to repairing copper gutters. Very little of this knowledge is church-specific and can be applied to our older Masonic temples and halls, all over the world.

The shame is that the original website's Maintenance section got mangled and became almost impossible to negotiate about six years ago. But thanks to the Internet Archive, most of the original version lives on here: