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


Monday, November 30, 2020

Online Tour of the Detroit Masonic Temple

by Christopher Hodapp

If you've never had the chance to visit the world's largest Masonic building, Detroit's Masonic Temple, Brother Rob Moore, the docent, caretaker and all around good guy was interviewed for an online Youtube show called Powers Pow Wow. The result is a 90-minute, top to bottom video tour of this incredible architectural gem. 

Click the video above or follow the link HERE.

The Temple is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

NPR: 'Freemasons Say They're Needed Now More Than Ever.'

by Christopher Hodapp

NPR is running a story this weekend that I was lucky enough to be a part of: Freemasons Say They're Needed Now More Than Ever. So Why Are Their Ranks Dwindling? 

I spoke with reporter Christianna Silva several weeks ago, and she actually comes from a Masonic family - both her father and grandfather were Masons. Along with myself, Ms. Silva included interviews with Illus. S. Brent Morris, author and editor of the Scottish Rite Journal, along with historians Dr. Jessica Harland-Jacob (Builders of Empire) and John Dickie (The Craft). 

Freemasons argue that the reason to uphold the fraternity goes beyond maintaining historic traditions or belonging to something that once bore immense influence. It might not be a secret society full of presidents and powerful men pulling the strings of society from the shadows, but that's never been the point for these members. Instead, they joined to establish friendships outside of work, and vibe with a community that isn't divisive. At a time in which polarization and division in the U.S. is growing more intense, Freemasons say it's refreshing to spend time with people who aren't arguing.

"People are isolated," Hodapp said. "People are locked in their apartments, or locked in their parents' basement at the age of 35, and don't associate with each other, and social media has them screaming at the computer screen at 3:00 in the morning because somebody told them to get stuffed over something. Every Mason you talk to will stand there and say, 'Yeah, we're needed now more than we've ever been needed.'"

The challenge, he said, is finding a way to communicate that.

"How do you get the message of, yes, there is a place where you can go where people aren't at each other's throats, there's a place that deliberately stops the kind of arguments that are making your life miserable."

In response to the story this morning, I received a message from a gentleman in Washington, D.C. who turns out to be a man after my own heart. He's not a Mason himself, but mentions something I've felt quite strongly about for the last few years:

"I have a suggestion for rebuilding your membership: The most useful thing an organization like the Freemasons could do right now, to make themselves completely relevant and indispensable to the fabric of society, would be to become the ignition point for an American renaissance in civic duty, civic education, and an instrument for advancing the ideals of the enlightenment founded in reason and scientific inquiry, democracy, democratic institutions, the rights of all persons, equality before the law, and above all, the sanctity and liberty of the individual. Now more than ever, we need an institution which can polarize the American people toward decency, duty, and democracy. 
"In Washington-speak, they essentially need to become a think-tank like AES, Brookings, or Cato, but differ, with a powerful implementation arm that embeds civic education and reason into school curriculums, civic organizations, popular thinking, the media, and hold leaders and media accountable for upholding democracy, reason, and truth. If the Freemasons used their heritage, assets, and infrastructure to set about bring such a renaissance in thinking about, I might even join."

He's absolutely spot-on, and it's a mission I've proposed for Masons many times. 

When Masonry spread throughout the early years of the U.S., between about 1790 and 1826, it did so as part of an attempt by influential East Coast intellectuals to find a way to educate a rough, disparate, illiterate, and largely isolated pioneer population in the western territories about how to run this new democratic republic. The lodges forbade the discussion of both religion and politics in their meetings, the two subjects guaranteed to erupt into fights. And they taught their members how to hold elections, pass legislation, conduct trials, and lose arguments gracefully. In an age before widespread, organized schools, the lodge ritual introduced members to the concepts of the Enlightenment, of the liberal arts and sciences, of the importance of honor and duty, of the cardinal virtues, and more. It was a code of conduct for good citizenship during a period of expansion and chaos. Most of all, lodge taught cooperation among men who had almost nothing in common. The Masons were a finishing school for the 'civic religion' the Founders knew were vitally needed or the new nation would perish. Because first and foremost, when they adopted the Constitution, they recognized it would quickly fail without a population equipped with a basic code of conduct, truth and honor.

To coin an old marching song from WWII, we did it before. And we can do it again.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789

by Christopher Hodapp

General Thanksgiving

By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America 

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in moft humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by conftantly being a Government of wife, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

The very first official presidential proclamation issued in the United States. Published in the The Massachusetts Centinel, Wednesday, October 14, 1789.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

GL of DC: Junior Grand Deacon Suspended Just Two Hours Before Elections Open

by Christopher Hodapp

In the annus horribilis that is 2020, I suppose none of us should be surprised by erratic or irrational behavior from even the best of men. Between the COVID plague isolation, the anti-social media civil war skirmishes, the fraying of human interaction, and the myriad frustrations that have accompanied nearly everything we all do this year, it's probably unfair to think that Masons could rise above the fray somehow. Hell, just the toilet paper hoarding alone would be enough to drive sane men to madness.

I've gotten two items sent to me in the last week that both seem quite odd. The first one comes out of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia

RW Adam N. Tager

On November 13, 2020, Grand Master Michael D. Nicholas, Sr. suspended the current Junior Grand Deacon Adam N. Tager from the fraternity, for allegedly writing or publishing a mass communication "with intent to denigrate or harm the Masonic fraternity..."  I haven't seen whatever it is that he is accused of writing, but what's odd was the timing of events. The suspension was issued and circulated via e-mail at approximately 4:04 PM last Friday, just two hours before electronic voting for grand lodge officers officially opened at 6:00. (Click the image above to enlarge.)

The GL of DC's annual communication this year is being held 'virtually' because of the COVID shutdowns. Consequently, online voting has remained open since last Friday, and officially closes on Saturday.

The last-second timing of Tager's suspension resulted in him becoming ineligible for advancement to the position of Senior Grand Deacon. Now it's been reported that several sitting Masters (and voting members of grand lodge) have subsequently filed charges against two other brethren who are challengers for the Deacon positions now that Tager has been shut out.

Curiously, the suspension announcement email was accompanied by a second letter from the Grand Secretary explaining that brethren are free to contact RW Brother Tager, "so long as there is no discussion regarding the secrets of Freemasonry."

(I said I have two stories. The other is coming out of South Dakota, and I'm still trying to piece that one together...)

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Masonic Author W. Kirk McNulty Passes

W. Kirk MacNulty portrait by Travis Simpkin

by Christopher Hodapp

My Brethren, the roll of the workmen has been called, and one Master Mason has not answered to his name. Brother Shawn Eyer reported on his Facebook page that esteemed Masonic author William Kirk MacNulty has laid down his working tools at the age of 88.

WB MacNulty was the author of three deeply thoughtful and philosophical books about Masonic symbolism: The Way of the Craftsman (1988), Freemasonry: A Journey Through Ritual and Symbol (1991), and Freemasonry: Symbols, Secrets, Significance (2006). MacNulty’s writing focuses on the impact of Masonic history, philosophy and symbolism on the psychological and spiritual development of the individual. For many Masons, his books introduced them to a whole new understanding of our esoteric symbolism and philosophy, and he urged all Masons to seek out and find our personal interpretations.

He was three times Master of Lodge of Living Stones, was a member of the Lodge of the Nine Muses No. 1776 in D.C. and of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22 in Virginia. He also was a member of Quatuor Coronati Lodge. In recognition of his contributions to Masonic literature, he was named as Friar No. 94 in the Society of Blue Friars in 2005.

From the Craftsmen Online Facebook page:
W. Kirk MacNulty was born in California in 1932. He studied at Stanford University and the University of Tennessee, and had a career in the United States Marine Corps and in corporate information technology.

His interest and involvement in Freemasonry spans more than fifty-five years. He received the degrees of Masonry in 1961 at Carson Valley Lodge No. 33 of Gardnerville, Nevada. He later affiliated with lodges in Hawaii, Tennessee, England, and Virginia. He was Worshipful Master of the Lodge of Living Stones No. 4957 in Leeds, England, in 1979, 1980, and 1991. He is the Charter Master (1997) of the Lodge of the Nine Muses No. 1776, a Traditional Observance Lodge in the District of Columbia.

His literary efforts have earned outstanding recognition. In 2008, he was received as a member of London's prestigious Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, the world's premier lodge of research. In 2016, he was recognized as a Fellow of the Philalethes Society for his many contributions to the literature of Freemasonry.

He was born in Long Beach, California. His father was an Officer in the Marine Corps, and Kirk traveled to many places during his childhood. When his father retired, his parents settled in San Mateo, California; and he attended San Mateo High School, and graduated from Stanford University. Kirk became an Officer in the Marine Corps where he served for several years. Upon leaving the Marine Corps he became a Freemason in 1961 while living in Gardnerville, Nevada. It was a small country town, with a Masonic Lodge and a dedicated group of members. As he went through the ritual of the Third Degree, he had some profound insights about his own life, the meaning of life, and the meaning of Freemasonry. That started him on a quest to learn more, to know more, and to communicate to others a real and deeper meaning of Masonry than many of its members are aware. Then, while living in London for 18 years, he had the opportunity to get to know Lord Northampton, John Hamill, and other luminaries of the United Grand Lodge of England, and they encouraged him in my Masonic writing.

In addition, he has run, and participated in, Masonic Study groups both in the US and the UK, using the kinds of concepts described in his latest book: Contemplating Craft Freemasonry, in the process gaining enormous insight into his own life, as well as a deeper understanding of the nature of the Craft.
Several years ago, Kirk presented one of his talks as part of the M.A.T.S.O.L. (Masonry at the Speed of Light) online lecture series, which was the brainchild of Indiana Mason Al McClelland long before we all became self-trained experts in Zoom presentations:

"The Philosophical Background of Masonic Symbolism" - W. Kirk McNulty

As of Tuesday evening, I have not seen any notices about funeral services.

He has laid down the working tools of the Craft and with them he has left that mortal part for which he no longer has use. His column is broken, and his Brethren mourn.

Requiescat in pace.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Special Promotion for 'Freemasons For Dummies' - Now Through December

by Christopher Hodapp

Over the last couple of months, I have been working with the good folks at Wiley Publishing to find a way to offer a substantial discount to lodges and grand lodges who wish to order copies of Freemasons For Dummies for their new petitioners and candidates, without being required to buy large quantities. 

For a limited time you, your lodge or your grand lodge can order multiple copies of the paperback edition of Freemasons For Dummies directly from the publisher at 30% off the $19.99 list price. This special offer will extend from now through December 31st, 2020.

Because of the COVID virus shutdowns, Masonic lodges throughout the United States have been largely forbidden from meeting in person and conferring degrees on new candidates. 
In many states, Masons have been prevented from conferring degrees at least until the end of the year. At the other end of the situation, thousands of interested men who have been trapped at home by the shutdowns have been contacting grand lodges directly or logging on to the www.BeAFreemason.com website expressing new interest in joining the Masonic fraternity. The result has been a growing group of potential new Masons stalled and unable to move forward until states fully reopen and lodges can once again meet together in person. 

Freemasons For Dummies is the perfect introductory book for potential new Masons. 

So here are the gory details for this deal:
To get the 30% discount, you MUST order through the Wiley.com website at: https://www.wiley.com/en-us/Freemasons+For+Dummies%2C+2nd+Edition-p-9781118412084
OR call their order line directly Monday thru Friday at ‭(800) 225-5945‬
Use the following private Promo Code: MAS20
There is NO minimum number of books you must order for the 30% discount. It works even for single copies (but do watch out for their postage fees).
The Wiley folks were kind enough to extend this discount all the way through the end of this year.
Be aware that this 30% discount applies only to the paperback book, not to the audio, Kindle or other electronic editions. It also doesn't apply to any foreign language editions. Also, this discount cannot be used at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or anywhere else. Only through Wiley's customer service department.
Several grand secretaries have told me they have been purchasing Kindle gift codes from Amazon in advance and sending one as a gift to men who who complete their degrees. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to secure a discount code for Kindle versions from Wiley because those have to come from Amazon. But I'm still trying to find an alternative.

If your lodge or grand lodge is looking for even more of a discount (such as for a one-day class or other large group event), they can offer the following bigger price breaks:
  • 50-99 copies = 35% discount
  • 100+ copies = 40% discount
Let me know if you have that kind of interest, and I'll put you in touch with the marketing office.


Wiley Can Make Customized Editions

Don't forget that Wiley has a special branding department that can work with your Grand Lodge to create a customized version of Freemasons For Dummies specific to your jurisdiction. It makes the perfect welcome gift for new members. In fact, in 2011 the Grand Lodge of New Mexico and their Lodge of Research created their own customized edition of the book that was given to all of their Entered Apprentices.

What this means is that your Grand Lodge, education committee, or research lodge can have its own special edition of the book for your members, provided you are able to order in sufficient quantities. Your official seal or other artwork specific to your Grand Lodge could be featured on the outside, and a message from the Grand Master, Grand Lodge Education Committee, Lodge of Research, or other official group could be printed on the inside covers. The book is also a popular one for non-Masons, and your members could be encouraged to pass it to friends or family who might have an interest in the fraternity—the cover could include the Grand Lodge contact information, internet address, phone numbers, etc. Of course, it's also popular as a gift given by many lodges to new Masons. The inside cover might include a custom plate in which to inscribe the members’ name and lodge, and degree dates.

Both Wiley and I are willing to work with you on design, artwork and content. There is one caveat: No changes can be made to the text of the book itself, so if there is something in the book's current text that is NOT correct or applicable for your jurisdiction, that part can’t be changed. Only the inside and outside covers can be altered.

The retail price of Freemasons For Dummies is $19.99, but you can save between 45%-50% off the cover price, depending on the quantity being printed. The minimum order for a custom version is 1,000 books ($11 per copy or 45% off), with an additional price break at 2,000 copies ($10 per copy, 50% off). So obviously it behooves you to keep any messages or information generic enough so that it doesn't become dated before you use them all.

If you have any interest in this program, please do not hesitate to contact me directly, or Molly Daugherty, director of Custom Solutions and Brand Licensing for Wiley Publishing in Indianapolis at 317-572-3465, or at Mdaugher@wiley.com

Thursday, November 05, 2020

COVID: UGLE Suspends Masonic Meetings in England Again

by Christopher Hodapp

The Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England has once again ordered the suspension of all Masonic meetings throughout England in the wake of new increases in COVID cases. 

The order, which is effective today, was prompted by new government restrictions issued on Saturday. England has essentially ordered another nationwide lockdown and is forbidding nearly every kind of non-family gathering.

Royal Arch leadership in England has made a similar pronouncement concerning Chapter meetings.