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


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Turkey's Göbekli Tepe: Discoveries at World's Oldest Temple

by Christopher Hodapp

The 10,000- to 11,500-year-old site of Göbekli Tepe in Turkey is the oldest place of worship on Earth ever discovered, predating the building of the first Egyptian pyramids by 6,500 years. New discoveries are emerging from the ancient site about the primitive hunter/gatherers here who developed a rudimentary understanding of geometry to create the first temples. At least fifty 15-foot-tall monolithic pillars rise out of the ground, covered with intricate carvings of animals like jaguars and reptiles, symbols of death like vultures, and wild game like the the wild boar that still roam these hills in southeastern Turkey even today.

Archeologists believe this to be a site of worship and not a residential settlement, because no evidence of residential buildings or fortifications other than the T-shaped pillars have been discovered. That said, the massive site of Göbekli Tepe, near the modern-day town of Şanlıurfa, has only been five percent excavated, so new discoveries are always possible. 

Each monolith is set within one of at least twenty concentric rings, each of which is built inside the other, with diameters ranging from 30-100 feet and weighing as much as 20 tons.

According to a new article on the Haaretz website, a discovery by Israeli archaeologists suggests the Göbekli Tepe temple complex was even more complicated than previously thought, and required an amount of planning and resources thought to be impossible for those times. A new study of the three oldest stone enclosures by archaeologists Gil Haklay and Avi Gopher of Tel Aviv University has revealed a distinct equilateral triangle that formed the overall architectural plan of these structures.

From Israeli Archaeologists Find Hidden Pattern at ‘World’s Oldest Temple’ Göbekli Tepe by Ariel David:
The finding confirms previous research by Haklay and Gopher at other sites showing that architects in the Neolithic or even in the late Paleolithic didn’t build shelters and homes haphazardly but had the ability to apply rudimentary geometric principles and create standard units of measurement.
At Göbekli Tepe, the discovery of the pattern is evidence of a complex abstract design that could not be realized without first creating a scaled floor plan, Haklay says. At a time when the invention of writing was millennia away, this could be accomplished, for example, by using reeds of equal length to create a rudimentary blueprint on the ground, he suggests.

Read the whole article HERE.

COVID: Things To Do During Lockdown

by Christopher Hodapp

Many thanks to the United Grand Lodge of England's Provincial Grand Lodge of Middlesex yesterday for sending out a list of '10 Things To Do During Lockdown.' Nestled amidst the suggested ways to keep in touch with Brother Masons, bone up on ritual, help charities and otherwise make a daily advancement in Masonry was the recommendation to read more. Complete with a swell beauty shot of Freemasons For Dummies.

That was a nice surprise. Thanks to whomever kindly suggested it.

See the entire list list of '10 Things To Do During Lockdown' HERE 

H/T to Jay Hochberg

Monday, April 27, 2020

Online Ritual Memorization Workshop This Thursday 4/30

by Christopher Hodapp

Lots of Masons are taking the opportunity of the COVID lockdown to brush up on their rusty ritual skills, or learn new parts they never had time to tackle before. That's always a good thing. But if you're one of those folks who struggle with memorization and have scrupulously avoided taking on anything besides your catechisms after you joined, there's a Brother who wants to help. 

This Thursday evening, April 30th, Worshipful Brother Anthony Kofi A. Osei-Tutu, Past Master of New York's famed Mariners Lodge 67, will be offering a Ritual Memorization Workshop online via Zoom. Anthony has been a Freemason for over a decade and has spent the majority of that time researching the Masonic symbolism and the arts of memory. He has trained dozens of Masons to improve their memory to learn Masonic ritual and is well known for his lectures on esoterics and ritual memorization. His website, www.supermemorize.com offers several courses online.

From the announcement of Thursday's online class:
Memorizing ritual is important, but no one teaches you how to memorize, so for most using outdated methods, memorization is a chore. That changes now. The Ritual Memorization Workshop will help you save time and energy memorizing Masonic ritual. You will feel more confident and motivated to tackle ritual of any size, and you will develop a deeper understanding of the Craft. We will dissect your current memory method, eliminate inefficiencies, and give you a series of tips, tricks, techniques, and ideas to turn it into a finely tuned tool of Masonic instruction.
  • The ancient reason Masons memorize ritual
  • The five Myths of Memory that are hurting your inner Ritual Rockstar
  • The simple Secret to Memorization and improving your memory (supermemorization) as confirmed by science and ancient practices
  • Why preparing before you study ritual will save you time and give you confidence
  • How to make ritual easier to study and recall by turning it into a catechism
  • Advanced memory tools
In case you're worried about evens and cowdroppers overhearing, Brother Anthony's workshops are not tyled and are open to the public when he presents them in person. So there's no need to lock yourself in the hall closet or sit in the car with your smartphone to participate in this video workshop.

The session begins Thursday, April 30th at 7:30PM. To participate, register HERE and you will be sent log-in information.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

COVID: Masonic Lodges Help Local Blood Bank Programs

by Christopher Hodapp

Local news sites all over the country are reporting on Masonic lodges taking action in their communities during the COVID-19 Wuhan Virus shutdown. The most common stories are about lodges hosting local blood drives. 
Stories are popping up everywhere of blood donation drives held in Masonic lodges: WisconsinNew JerseyNorth CarolinaTennesseeTexasCalifornia... the list is endless.

There are blood shortages all over the U.S. right now. More than 80% of the blood collected for the nation's supply comes from volunteer collection sites at community locations like churches and fraternal lodges. But over a month ago, on March 17th, the American Red Cross issued a statement that, due to the COVID pandemic, some 2,700 Red Cross blood drives had already been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in some 86,000 fewer blood donations.

Blood drive at Shoreline Masonic Lodge in Shoreline, Washington. Photo: ABC News
With the social distancing demands of the mass lockdown orders, blood banks (and food banks, by the way) are begging for all the help they can get. So, both churches and fraternal lodges are stepping up to help. 

This isn't new in some Masonic jurisdictions. Some grand lodges have statewide programs, others hold ad hoc blood drives at large events like their annual communications,  but most leave such things up to local lodges' gumption and motivation. 

The Grand Lodge of Virginia has long had their official Masonic Community Blood Program. Its longtime goal has been "to strengthen those Lodge Blood programs now in existence, integrate and coordinate them into an effective statewide activity, and to encourage creation of such programs in Lodges which do not have them."

Virginia's statewide blood program has been in place for many years, so it's unreasonable to expect one started from scratch in a new juriusdiction to be anywhere as organized or thought out as theirs. The middle of a pandemic when everyone is locked in their houses is a difficult set of circumstances to construct a structured framework like theirs. But have a look at Virginia's Community Blood program web portal HERE to get a better idea of their system. It's not so much a program as it is a set of guidelines and an ongoing blood donation contest between their lodges. They keep a statewide tally by lodge of number of pints collected.

There is also a two-page set of guidelines and organizing methodology available as a download HERE.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

The British Press Strikes Again: Hit Piece Disguised As Puffy Story

by Christopher Hodapp

American Masons don't know how good we have it. 

An article in the Britain section of April 25th edition of The Economist magazine told a human interest story about the Masons in Lincolnshire, speaking with Brother Matt Felgate of the Provincial Grand Lodge, and UGLE's CEO David Staples. The story is about what local lodges and Masons are doing under the COVID-19 Wuhan Virus shutdown to help the community, and the brethren there are truly finding some excellent and innovative ways to assist their fellow citizens during Britain's nationwide shut-down. 

But before they talked nice about anything the fraternity was doing, the unnamed reporter had to start right in with the swipes. The article was entitled 'Out of the shadows:The freemasons want to be known for hand wash, not handshakes' with the additional cynical addition, "Covid-19 offers a chance for some good publicity." 

Not "a chance to help," or "a chance to do good," but just the snark about publicity. And British reporters are downright obsessed with our 'secret handshakes.' It keeps them up nights worrying about it.

The opening paragraph has to lead off with the usual claptrap about sinister allegations:
The freemasons, a centuries-old network of fraternal lodges, have long provided fodder for thriller writers and folk with overactive imaginations.
Note the stylistic difference in Britain that they won't deign to capitalize Freemasonry or Masons when the terms appear in print. All the better to diminish any sense of respect for the fraternity, despite the fact that all of UGLE's written material capitalizes them.
Suggestions of conspiracy range from the outlandish to the banal. Steve White, a former chairman of the Police Federation, a cops’ union, claimed they blocked reforms to the service. Masons roll their eyes at such claims. “There is ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and the keyboard warriors going crazy,” sighs Matt Felgate, a freemason from Lincolnshire’s Provincial Grand Lodge. “But much to my disappointment, it’s mainly about making yourself a better person.”
What a reference to Steve White's absurd and baseless 2017 yawpings about the Police Federation is doing in this human interest article boggles the mind. An angry ex-union leader who was about to be voted out of office decided his failures weren't his fault — no, it were those bloody Freemason cops. Read his pathetic story HERE. And then ask why The Economist stuck it in the opening paragraph of an article about Masonic charity.

The article finally gets around to explaining that, outside of the lodge, Brother Felgate runs a gin distillery, and he's converted his production line to manufacture hand sanitizer that's been in short supply. Brethren in Scunthorpe have made more than a thousand masks for caregivers. Other area lodges have purchased thousands of masks from China to donate, or are loaning parking facilities to nurses. 
For once, being able to call in favours from a network of contacts seems positively altruistic...
Another swipe. "Calling in favors" is one of those baseless allegations that the press has convinced the public we engage in to get ahead of the common rabble. "Sod the proles, Brothers, do me a favor because we're Masons! Shake my hand."
In Belfast masons managed to find some 3,000 packs of loo roll. “I got together with someone I knew who owned a toilet-roll factory,” says Leslie Weir of the local lodge. “It’s just nice to be seen. We may have some secrets but it’s not a secret society.”

Masons emphasise that such charitable efforts are nothing new. Indeed, they claim their brotherhood is the second-biggest institutional donor in Britain.
It's not a "claim," it's a fact. But the press can't let that go without seeking the real motive:
As well as being a good in itself, such public acts of philanthropy help to counter the brotherhood’s reputation for secrecy. 
The whole article is hidden behind a paywall, so I won't quote all of it here. In fact, they have a huge application form to apply for a license to reuse their content, so I suspect I'll be scolded even for just these excerpts. But you get the gist.
UGLE's David Staples is fighting an uphill battle in trying to counter almost 40 years of deliberately insulting and false coverage of Freemasonry in Britain. 

I suppose this article is pretty benign, in comparison to the usual spate of downright insulting, accusatory and mocking articles that normally dominate the British press whenever Freemasonry gets mentioned. In many ways, it's a downright victory that it set aside the majority of the tropes that have filled papers in England since the 1980s. There wasn't a single mention of rolled up trousers, arcane rituals, or a reference to those handshakes as being "dodgy." 

I guess that counts as a win.

But a hit piece wrapped in a soft, velvety glove is still a hit piece. And The Economist should be ashamed of itself.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Video: 'George Washington's Rules for Freemasons in Life and Lodge'

by Christopher Hodapp

Macoy Publishing has just posted a short video about a little book that Mark Tabbert put together with illustrator Ryan Flynn a few years ago. I called attention to it when it came out in 2017, and I am reprinting that post from October 21, 2017 below.
[Back in 2016], my friend Mark Tabbert sent me a manuscript to look over, and graciously asked me to write a foreword to it if I saw merit to it. I absolutely did. It was an unusual little book, and actually a by-product of his own much larger research project. In 2013, Mark embarked on a massive attempt to identify, organize, document, and interpret every incident, object, and contact George Washington personally had to do with Freemasonry. Just making the list to start with was daunting enough, and he's still not close to being finished with the final book he has long envisioned. Nevertheless, since Mark is the Director of Collections at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia, his mission is guided by a sense of responsibility to Washington's Masonic legacy that surrounds him every day he drives up that long driveway on Shooter's Hill.

Anyway, back to Mark's research "by-product." One of the persistent things he kept encountering were references and quotes taken from a list of sayings often referred to as Washington's '110 Rules of Civility.' Over the years, people tended to be confused by that title, often believing George himself made them up, or maybe collected them over the years, scribbling them down as he heard them. But that wasn't how he came across them.
In the three centuries preceding this one, a common method of teaching penmanship to young students was by use of the copybook. This was a booklet filled with pages of blank lines, and at the top of each page was a saying, a proverb, or an aphorism, printed perfectly so that the student could follow the example and dutifully attempt to reproduce the precise handwriting presented. But those aphorisms had a more important effect over time. Those bits of wisdom, guidance, rules of proper behavior, and just plain common sense were handed down over the centuries, pretty uniformly, throughout much of Western society.

It was also the way that young George Washington learned his penmanship with a quill, and as an added bonus, how to treat people and be a civilized member of society. It is fair to say that the copybook and the repetitive writing of the sayings was a kind of basic training for living a decent life. By doing so, he also absorbed perfection of character and soul. Reading the Rules, it is striking that they concentrate, not on self-interest or personal happiness, but rather on the treatment and happiness of others. They call for the seemingly minor sacrifices that are required every day for the sake of living together in peace and harmony. The manners described in them go far beyond an obsession with when to tip one’s hat or bow when introduced, and are far more concerned with making other people feel welcome, or comfortable, or honored.

Or equal.

What makes all of this applicable to us as Masons and our lodges comes in something that Washington wrote in a letter in 1793, in which he said, "that the grand object of Freemasonry is to promote the happiness of the human race." That letter echoes a later quote from William Preston in 1796 that "happiness originates in the Lodge, and disperses its influence to the wide circle of the world."

And if it doesn't? I never say this, but I will this one single time. I hate to break it to you, but if it doesn't, you're doing it wrong.

Mark Tabbert has taken these 110 copybook aphorisms and done something unique with them. The result is his small book called George Washington's Rules for Freemasons in Life and Lodge.He's gathered Brother George's 110 Rules and rearranged them into different themes having to do with a Mason's behavior outside of, during, and after lodge (much as James Anderson did in 1723). In addition, Mark follows each Rule with a modern translation in plainer language for each one, much as the average grand lodge Monitor defines archaic language for modern Freemasons. (The original Rules come out of an early 17th century English translation of a French Jesuit book, so the language occasionally needed a gentle nudge of modernity.)

After the specifically Masonic-themed portion of the book, Mark also reprints the original 110 rules, unaltered, in order, so you can see the list of them as Washington wrote them down, for reference. The big bonus to the work is a meticulously detailed chronology of Washington's life and every instance of his contact with Masons, Masonic objects, or Masonic lodges. And finally, there is an extensive bibliography of trustworthy books regarding Washington and Freemasonry. For a book so deceptively small in size, it is densely packed with resources for your own future studies about our most famous American Brother.

At a paltry $10, you ought to pack one in your apron case and haul it out the next time you see a couple of brethren poking each other in the chest out in the parking lot after lodge. Better yet, order one for all of your lodge officers. Read a chapter out loud at your next meeting for a bit of education. Or send an anonymous copy to your grand master just as a reminder.

The copybooks of old largely disappeared in the mid-20th century, so these little proverbs haven’t been widely taught to school children for almost eight decades now. Within about 25 years of them vanishing from classrooms, Americans had already started to be a whole lot less civil, less respectful of each other. I suspect the social barbarism and grotesque treatment of our fellow citizens we are all living through these days is partially a result of the now total disappearance of these gentle, little reminders of truth and civility. They need to make a comeback, and fast.

Maybe as a tool to teach five year olds how to text on their kiddie cell phones, somebody could make an app and resurrect them again.

Mark Tabbert's book is available directly from Macoy Publishing HERE. It's currently unavailable from Amazon for no reason I can think of.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Spring 2020 Missouri LOR Truman Lecture: Moises Gomez

by Christopher Hodapp

The COVID-19 Wuhan Virus shutdown continues to demand innovative solutions to physical gatherings. The Missouri Lodge of Research has just announced their Spring 2020 Truman Lecture will be an online presentation by Right Worshipful Brother Moises I. Gomez, Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey. Brother Gomez will discuss Freemasonry and the Underground Railroad at noon on Saturday, May 16.

This presentation will be offered online via the Zoom platform. There is no charge for the lecture, but tickets are required. You may reserve your spot here: https://tinyurl.com/MOLOR-Spring-2020

 Freemasonry and the Underground Railroad
Once again, many Freemasons stepped in and gave of themselves with considerable risk and exposure for the sake of doing what was right. Not only did the Freemason stand up for those who could not stand up or defend themselves. Slavery has been and did play a significant part in American history, which led to the Civil War, turning brother against brother. Of course, it did not stop there but was a sounding board for what was to come leading to the end of slavery, voting rights, civil rights and the end of segregation in America.
This is a powerful lecture which deals in Toleration, Equality, Justice, Truth, Sacrifice, Acceptance and Respect for others. Regardless of one’s faith, someone believes in; the color of their skin, where they come from or from what culture or custom they were raised in, we stand for all and we are all one, we may not agree with each other or even like each other but we must respect each other. The greatest core value our fraternity has to offer and the most important one we have is that all men are created equal, that we all meet on the level and deserve to be treated as such. Because who we were is who we are, Freemasonry now and Freemasonry for everyone.
“The Time is Right to Always do What is Right”

(Click to enlarge)

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Heart's Blood: New Novel by Alice Von Kannon Released Today

by Christopher Hodapp

As Robert Burns famously penned, 'the best-laid plans o' mice and men often go astray... An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain.' 

He must have had a book scheduled to be published during a global pandemic, too.

Alice's historical novel Heart's Blood has officially been released today from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and most every major and minor booksellers. It seemed like a terrific date last November when we picked it, but now most of us are trapped in our own homes waiting out the quarantine period.

She's written and published other books over the years —maybe you've read the 'For Dummies' books we co-authored. But Heart's Blood has always been her problem child, so naturally, it is coming out at the strangest possible moment in modern history.

Heart's Blood is a sweeping historical novel set in 1803 that combines romance, adventure, murder and mystery against a backdrop of Salem, Massachusetts in its greatest age of sailing ships and exploration. It's the sort of sprawling story that made historical romance the most popular genre in the world for decades, yet no one wants to publish those anymore. Even though the world is still full of people who want to read them.

She hopes that includes you. Or maybe your spouse, mom, sister or significant other.

Heart's Blood by Alice Von Kannon
It is 1803, and the village of Salem, once known only for the dark horrors of its witch trials, is now a cosmopolitan seaport, the richest city in America. But in many ways, Salem is still a small village. Everyone knows that Captain Issac McCallister lost his mind in the desert, five years a slave in Barbary. He is a damaged man, looking for a reason to go on living.
He finds it when he meets Eleanor Hampton, a hard-headed New Englander living on his property. Isaac is bewitched by this determined, gifted woman, while Eleanor is unexpectedly drawn to him. He's not the man she expected—there is a gallantry in Isaac that couldn't be snuffed out by the hell of Algerian slavery. But Issac's unexpected proposal of marriage sets dark forces out of the past into motion, resulting in a stunning betrayal and a brutal murder. And as her passion for her enigmatic husband consumes her, Eleanor finds there's no danger she's unwilling to face to save him from the hangman.
"An engrossing tale of navigating new love and finding one’s way back home after a perilous journey." - Kirkus Reviews
"Intimacy versus desire is explored in depth in HEART'S BLOOD, a sprawling historical romance by Alice Von Kannon, as Isaac and Eleanor learn to fully love each other, not only in body but also in soul." - Indie Reader
Paperback: 480 pages 
Price: $8.99 
Publisher: MCP Books (April 21, 2020) 
Language: English 
ISBN-10: 1545674582 
ISBN-13: 978-1545674581

The past is like a foreign country - they do things differently there. Historical romance novels used to be million-sellers because they captured an exciting time and place and transported their enraptured readers into it. Alice hopes the story she tell of Captain Issac McCallister and artist Eleanor Hampton will capture hearts and imaginations just as those captivating novels of the past once did.

The paperback is deliberately priced at a paltry $8.99 because we want people to actually buy it and read it, review it, pass it to their neighbors, and tell their friends. It can be pre-ordered now, and it should start shipping after this weekend. Amazon , Barnes & Noble and AppleBooks will also be offering Kindle/Nook/eBook editions.

For more about how and where to order 'Heart's Blood,' visit her book page HERE.

If you watch enough of the History, Discovery or American Heroes channels, you've probably seen us both. In real life, Alice is my wife, henchwoman in all things devious, fellow poodle wrangler, occasional writing partner, Airstream co-pilot, and check co-signer, and we have been manacled to each other for well over four decades now. Just like Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones, but totally different — more gender-traditional, and minus the hip 60s racially-exciting symbolism. 

In college, they called us the Nick and Nora Charles of the film department. 

Bobbing along together in life's dinghy on a continuous voyage of discovery, and having learned — through experience or observation — both patience and humility (along with noting with some alarm that the appalling cost of divorce has far outpaced inflationary forces), we have evolved the theory that any marriage that hasn’t at least reached year twenty simply doesn’t count. You have no license to substantively grouse, gripe or otherwise creeb until you’ve endured at least five presidential administrations and your second bottle of Tabasco sauce together. Anything less is just puerile bellyaching. Of course, children alter this formula by introducing entirely too many chaotic variables, so we prefer dogs, as the bruises don't show through the fur.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Interview: 'Meet, Act and Part' Podcast

by Christopher Hodapp

Alice's first podcast interview in connection with Heart's Blood just went live tonight.

Alice Von Kannon and I have a previous following from our non-fiction books in the For Dummies series, and we've appeared together over the years in several TV programs, too. So it caused a surprising amount of interest in that audience when we announced that she has a new historical romance novel coming out, even though it is far removed from the world of secret societies, the Masons or conspiracy theories.

The hosts of the Meet, Act & Part podcast — Bill Hosler, Greg Knott and Darin Lahners — sat down with both of us on Sunday night for about an hour to talk about Heart's Blood, Salem and its exciting seafaring past, the Barbary pirates, Freemasonry, world travel, Egyptian ruins, and a whole lot more! After four decades of marriage and fifteen years of both of us writing, I'm afraid when you get us talking together, one thing leads to another.

Give it a listen: Meet, Act & Part - Episode 11.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

2020 Prestonian Lecture Now in Print

by Christopher Hodapp

The selection of the annual Prestonian Lecturer by the United Grand Lodge of England has been a tradition now for almost a hundred years. The yearbook of the UGLE describes the establishment by Preston himself:

‘During his lifetime William Preston developed an elaborate system of Masonic instruction which was practiced in association with the Lodge of Antiquity of which he was at one time Master. At his death in 1818, Preston bequeathed to Grand Lodge the sum of £300 for the perpetuation of his system of instruction… Lectures in accordance with this system were delivered from 1820 until 1862, when the Lectureship was permitted to lapse.
In 1924 the Prestonian Lectureship was revived with a modification to the original Scheme, the lecturer now submitting a Masonic subject of his own selection, and with the exception of the war years, 1940-1946, regular appointments have been made annually since 1924 to the present day.’
Since 1924 the naming of the lecturer each year has been an important addition to Masonic education everywhere, and the lecturer has traditionally traveled throughout the United Kingdom, and often all over the world, to make his winning presentation in person. Only the hardships of World War II have managed to interrupt the Prestonian Lecturers from their roving mission of enlightenment since its re-establishment in 1924.

And now this year comes along.

The Prestonian Lecturer for 2020 is George Boys-Stones, and it's the unfortunate bum luck of the moment that his travels have been curtailed worldwide by the COVID-19 Wuhan virus pandemic shutdown. Brother Boys-Stones' lecture is entitled, 'A System of Morality: Aristotle and English Masonic Ritual,' and he was scheduled to travel to the United States later this year as part of his international speaking tour.

Fortunately, the printed version of the 2020 Prestonian Lecture was published earlier this month, and now is available for purchase via Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions.

From the Amazon description:
English Freemasonry defines itself as a “system of morality,” but what does that phrase mean? This new study traces it back to the work of William Preston (1742-1818), who argued that Freemasonry teaches a philosophical approach to virtue. According to Preston, the rituals of Freemasonry are designed to lead the initiate through the ethical thought of Aristotle. His view proved popular, and was decisive in shaping the ritual approved for use by the United Grand Lodge of England shortly after its formation in 1813. Almost all English lodges, and many others throughout the world, still use a ritual derived from this one, and, perhaps without realizing it, continue to pay silent testimony to Preston and to Aristotle in their work.
Brother Boys-Stones is a Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies for the UGLE. When he wasn't hanging around with Freemasons, he was a professor of Classics at Durham University for twenty years from 1999 to 2019. This past year, he jumped ship for the Americas and is now a member of the faculty at the University of Toronto. He is the managing editor of Phronesis, a journal of ancient philosophy, and he is a prolific author on the topics of Greek and Roman philosophy. Phronesis publishes works about philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, logic and the philosophy of science and medicine, from their ancient origins down to the end of the sixth century A.D.

Last year, he published Platonist Philosophy 80 BC to AD 250: An Introduction and Collection of Sources in Translation which provided new English translations of some of the most important Platonic writings of the ancient world. He has an enormous body of work in print on these subjects. For a list of many more books George Boys-Stones has written, you can see them on his Goodreads page HERE.

Given Brother George's field of study, I suspect he's taking the philosophical approach to the global shutdown that's keeping him from touring now. Hopefully, the pandemic will turn out to be less dangerous than was initially projected and everyone can back to real life again. For myself, I look forward to seeing and hearing Brother George speak in person sooner than later. In the meantime, enjoy his books.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Digital Order of the Knights Quarantine

by Christopher Hodapp

In much the same way that nature abhors a vacuum, some Masons get the twitches when forced to stay away from degree ceremonies for too long a stretch. And there's a certain breed o' Masonic cat that lives the life of the degree tourist, forever questing in search of the NEXT degree, appendant body, ritual, sooper-secret level, or remotely related pseudo-Masonic group. Otherwise known as the 'dues-card-and-a-pin-I'm-in' crowd. 

Three quarters of the most obscure Masonic organizations you've never heard of were created over the years strictly because the 33rds were letting in too much riff raff. Over the last 150 years or so, grand lodges would rear up, stamp their collective foots down, and declare lots of these distantly related (or sometimes downright troublesome) side groups as being 'non-Masonic,' but that never stopped the indefatigable Masonic tourist locked in an eternal chase to grab the next Golden Bling. Threats of suspension frighten them not when there are more degrees yet to be experienced, more vainglorious titles to be acquired, and more bilious finery in which to be draped, even if only in the secluded, momentary sanctuary of a hotel conference room one day a year. 

Masonic spouses put up with it as long as we don't criticize compulsive shoe shopping.

Well, the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine and national shutdown wouldn't be complete without its own pseudo 'non-Masonic, but sort of Masonic' order all its own. Next Wednesday, April 22nd, at 7PM EDT, the Masonic Lite podcast will conduct its very own non-Masonic, socially distant, digitally conferred non-degree — the Digital Order, Knights Quarantine!

To quote the website:
You are about to take part in a Quest. It is a Quest to fend off the darkness descending on the Land and to find the Mantle of Light and keep our friends and families close to us. You will walk in the footsteps of a young muckraker and his trusty sidekick. You will meet strange and interesting characters along your way. And in the end, you will find the light that will burn brightly and guide us to a....... blah blah blah, yada yada yada...... You get the idea.
This is pure Masonic Lite Podcast stuff, and will be performed LIVE on-line. This "Not-a-Degree", has no official connection whatsoever with Freemasonry, the Illuminati (maybe a little) or any other fraternal order. It's just for fun. No Grand body has authorized this performance, and anyone with $30 (plus the Eventbrite fees) and a sense of humor is qualified to "receive" this "Not-a-Degree".
No Masonic Order (pseudo or otherwise) would be complete without the imaginary confirmation lavished upon it by having its own regalia, and the DOKQ is no exception. In the 21st century, it wouldn't be a proper fraternal organization if John Bridegroom didn't design an appropriate medal for it. 100% of the proceeds (after they pay for the jewels and shipping) will be donated to Meals on Wheels for the relief of hardships brought on by isolation.

In appreciation of your donation you will receive a beautifully crafted Jewel of the "Order", created by John Bridegroom himself, and also an authentic looking receipt suitable for framing, so you can always remember this time you will never get back. 
For more information, check the website HERE. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

COVID: 2020 Prince Hall Conference of Grand Masters Cancelled

by Christopher Hodapp

This new is several weeks old now. Nobody tells me anything any more. I just have to pick things up off the street.

Dorian R. Glover, Past Grand
Master of the MWPHGL of New York

The annual Prince Hall Conference of Grand Masters that was to be held in Springfield, Massachusetts this year May 13-17, was officially cancelled, another collateral victim of the COVID-19 Wuhan virus shutdown. 

The notice was officially issued March 23rd by President of this year's conference, Dorian R. Glover, Past Grand Master of the MWPHGL of New York.

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Tennessee Masonic Hall Struck By Easter Sunday Tornado

by Christopher Hodapp

(This story has been updated 
4/14/2020 at 8:05PM EST.)

At least nine people are dead and 150 injured after an EF-3 tornado ripped through southeastern Tennessee and northern Georgia late Easter Sunday night and early Monday morning. Among the the scores of buildings damaged or destroyed by the storm around Chattanooga, TN was the Masonic hall of Brainerd Lodge 736.

There is no word yet whether anyone from the lodge was injured by the storms. Early photos of the damage were posted Monday on the Grand Lodge of Tennessee's Masonic Museum Facebook page. Given that it struck in the wee hours on a Sunday night, and that everyone is currently required to stay home under the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown across the state, it's certainly unlikely anyone was in the building. 

An estimated 150 buildings were damaged or destroyed by the storm.

According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, at least two people died in Hamilton County, Tennessee, including one man who was killed by a tree that fell on him as he slept. At least seven people lost their lives in Murray County, Georgia. During a Monday afternoon news conference, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said the path of the wreckage in Hamilton County was about a half-mile wide and four miles long.

The National Weather Service said that a storm survey has found EF-3 damage with winds estimated around 145 mph. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee was quoted Monday saying, "There's been loss of life, there's been significant loss of property, and there are teams on the ground right now beginning that process of evaluating all of the damage and all of what needs to be done to support those down in that community and in those communities that are suffering this morning."

Timothy Brown posted more photos of damage to the lodge's dining room on Facebook.

Brainerd Lodge 736 in better days. According to the lodge cornerstone, their present hall was dedicated in 1986. It is also the home of Order of the Eastern Star Sunnyside Chapter 359.

UPDATE 4/14/20 at 8:05PM EDT:

The following message was posted Tuesday evening on Facebook:
Brainerd Masonic Lodge #736 and Sunnyside Chapter #359 was in the path of the Sunday night tornado that hit the East Brainerd area of Chattanooga. The lodge building took a significant hit. The building is structural[ly] unsafe and will be torn down and replaced. Fortunately most of the furnishings and historical items of the lodge and chapter was saved. We are already in the process of removing and storing such items. There are many memories of both the lodge and the chapter that we all share across the state.
We had no loss of lives of our membership . We do have some that have had damages to their homes. Please keep these members in your prayers as they move forward each day in repairing their homes and their lives. We ask for your prayers as we go forth as a lodge and chapter working together to get us back into our lodge/chapter home and be able to invite you back into our home.
Information will be forthcoming with the location where we will be meeting when the information is available. We will be seeing you across the state during this building process.
Daryl Isham  
Past Grand Patron  
Past Master
Brainerd Lodge #736