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


Thursday, October 28, 2021

Marilyn Braatz Passes Away

by Christopher Hodapp

Many Masons throughout North America know RW George O. Braatz and his wife Marilyn. Word came this week that Marilyn passed away Monday night, October 25th, at their home in Westerville, Ohio, after battling cancer for the last year. She was 76.

George served as Grand Master (1987-88), and then Grand Secretary (2000-2009), of the Grand Lodge of Ohio. And between 2011 and 2016, he served as Executive Secretary of the Masonic Service Association of North America. In that role, he and Marilyn traveled extensively, visiting scores of annual meetings and other grand lodge events promoting the MSA. 

The Braatz's have both been espacially active in Masonic youth groups of Rainbow for girls and DeMolay for boys. There's no way to even estimate the thousands of lives they have touched over the years.

A native of Genoa, Ohio, Marilyn was a 1963 graduate of Genoa High School, and a 1967 graduate of Bowling Green State University. She was employed at BGSU for more than 30 years in the Dean's office of the College of Education as a communications and program design specialist, and later as a development officer. In 2000, she became a public relations officer for the Ohio Department of Education in Columbus, until her retirement in 2008. 

Mrs. Braatz was active for more than 50 years in the Order of Eastern Star in both northwest Ohio and later in central Ohio. She was twice the Worthy Matron of Grand Rapids (now Triune) Chapter, and later Worthy Matron of Worthington Chapter. She also had served each Chapter as its Secretary. In 1977, she was Deputy Grand Matron of District 7 in Lucas, Wood, and Ottawa counties. Later, she served the statewide Grand Chapter of Ohio Eastern Star on several committees and for eight years headed the statewide Chapter Excellence program for local Eastern Star development. 

For many years she was the Mother Advisor of chapters of the Rainbow Girls in Bowling Green and Grand Rapids, and still today many women across the state refer to her as "Mom Braatz."
She and her husband, George, traveled extensively around the Ohio and the nation. In recent years, they have spent the winter season in Lakeland, Florida. She loved taking pictures of the places they went, as well as capturing on film many occasions in the lives of her children and grandchildren. She also enjoyed sewing and gardening.
George and Marilyn were married in 1967, and they celebrated their 54th anniversary in June. Please remember George and their sons David and Michael, daughter Wendy, and their grandchildren in your devotions.

Funeral services will be held next month on November 12-13. The family will receive friends from 5 pm to 7pm on Friday, November 12, 2021 at Schoedinger Worthington Chapel, 6699 N. High St Worthington, OH, where an Easter Star Service will start at 7pm. On Saturday November 13,2021 additional visiting hours will take place from 9am-11am with a service to follow at 11am at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, 100 E Schrock Rd, Westerville, OH 43081.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contribution be made to the Braatz Family Scholarship Program at Bowling Green State University.

Resquiescat in pace.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

UPDATED: GL of Georgia Votes For Prince Hall Recognition

by Christopher Hodapp


I've had three different sources attending the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Georgia F&AM today inform me that the assembled brethren voted overwhelmingly to officially extend recognition to the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Jurisdiction of Georgia. The recommendation was made by the Committee on Recognition, there was no discussion, and the proposed recognition passed "by a landslide."

Still too early yet for many details beyond the recommendation and the vote. However, a couple of documents leading to the vote contain a couple of curious items.

Below is the request for amity/recognition sent to the Grand Lodge last December by Prince Hall GL of Georgia's Grand Master, MW Corey D. Shackleford. My apologies for the fuzzy quality of images. Click them to enlarge:

GM Shackleford states in his letter that their goal is to achieve formal acknowledgement of each other's organization as legitimate, "but to maintain our separate existence." The request included the following "safeguards for both institutions":
  1. There shall be no visitation at the subordinate lodge level unless authorized by both Grand Masters;
  2. The amity/recognition agreement shall never constitute future merger;
  3. There shall be no instance of demitting to the other Jurisdiction, and;
  4. If approved and ratified by the GLGA, this request shall not be amended nor revisited within five (5) years of the date of acceptance from the GLGA.
In essence, the request seems to simply be that the MWPHGL of GA just doesn't want to be called clandestine or irregular anymore, but not much else. And, as is often the case, they seem very concerned that the big fish might eventually swallow up the littler fish if the Prince Hall brethren get to visit the mainstream lodges. 

Or as the old World War I song went, "How are you gonna keep them down on the farm once they've seen gay Paree?"

When the Grand Lodge of Georgia's Commission on Recognition took up the Prince Hall GL request, they added a couple of changes to that list of "safeguards" that are even a little more restrictive:

To wit:
  1. Remove the line "unless authorized by both Grand Masters" so it now reads, "There shall be no visitation at the subordinate lodge level."
  2. Change the time limit that prevents future amending or revising the agreement from the proposed five year period to ten years.
Now, nobody has ever been reckless enough to stick me on a Jurisprudence Committee, but my albeit flawed understanding has always been that the assembled grand lodge voting members cannot legally prevent action being taken by a succeeding grand lodge for any period of time in the future. That's possibly a jurisdictional difference, but I'd be shocked if that really turned out to be backed up by either of the two Georgia grand lodge constitutions. You can't insist that future grand lodge members can't ever pass new legislation - or you can't enforce it, anyway. It's like a dying man trying to discipline his unborn grandkids by drawing up an odious will. He might feel victorious when he signs it, but once he's dead, he can't prevent them from installing a urinal and a dance floor over his grave once he joins the Choir Invisible. "The Grand Lodge" officially ceases to be when the gavel falls at the annual communication, and does not exist again until the opening gavel of the next year's meeting. The rest of the year, the Grand Lodge is invested in the Grand Master.

(Paging Glenn Cook...

In fairness, these types of limitations forbidding visitations between mainstream and Prince Hall Grand Lodge members for a fixed "cooling off" period have been more common in recent years, and are almost always requested by the Prince Hall Masons, not vice versa. The approach is to get everybody's members comfortable with the joint recognition idea and hopefully weed out the truly hardcore critics on both sides who would rather curl up and die than let "one of those guys" visit his lodge. After all - after telling your members for 150 years that the other grand lodge in your state is clandestine and irregular, you're going to have members who aren't exactly going to wake up tomorrow morning singing the Rainbow Bright Unicorn song when you announce that everything has changed now. 

What seems to be turning into a pattern is that these limitations are agreed to, everybody finds out that Masons are all pretty decent folks in both organizations after all, and the imagined horrible incidents everybody was afraid of don't materialize. The truly offensive naysayers stay home or demit, or at least learn to hold their wagging tongues. And usually within two or three years, the ban on visitations get lifted.

As I wrote many years ago, getting a grand lodge to change is like steering an aircraft carrier: they're slow to change course, hard to steer, and take forever if you want to stop them. 

Nevertheless, the baby step has been taken, and the brethren of Georgia's two legitimate grand lodges are to be commended at last. 

And then there were five...

Monday, October 25, 2021

JUST RELEASED: Newly Revised 'Freemasons For Dummies' 3rd Edition

by Christopher Hodapp

It's been a busy – and occasionally frantic – couple of months around Hodapphäus that has resulted in few stories being covered here. Alice and I have had a convergence of four major publishing projects since June, along with several related road trips. Along with the summer release of RVs & Campers For Dummies, we've been prepping two of Alice's historical romance novels for release at the end of the year. But the big news here on the Masonic home front is that Wiley has just released the revised, 3rd edition of Freemasons For Dummies. Amazon began shipping today.

This is the second major revision of the book since it was originally published back in 2005. While the publisher merely wanted a minor updating, I took the opportunity to start at the beginning and completely revise the whole book. If you read it before, it's likely you won't detect much difference in the contents, besides updating things like membership statistics, Prince Hall joint recognition information and other developments in the fraternity over the last few years. I also updated grand lodge contact information and website addresses. But while all of that sounds minor, the new edition is some 40 pages longer than before. I'll leave it to the readers to decide whether that's good, or just an improper use of a wind instrument.

The most obvious change is the new look of the book. Wiley began updating the format of their For Dummies series a couple of years ago, and they wanted Freemasons For Dummies to reflect that new appearance. So there's a whole new cover, and the book itself has been redesigned on the inside. Sadly, gone are the Rich Tennant 'The 5th Wave' cartoons that marked the different sections of the book. And they no longer permit the small icons that mark tips, technical stuff, origins and other points in the text to have any customization. So, the Ask the Past Master and Myth Buster symbols we used originally have been replaced by generic ones. It's the price one pays for being part of a larger brand. If you never saw the original editions, you'll never miss them. 

An odd choice is that they have moved the author's dedication, author bio, and most of all, acknowledgements to the very back of the book instead of their traditional placement at the beginning. I suspect this is because of Kindle editions that are set up to automatically open at Chapter 1, so Kindle readers never see any of the front matter in books these days, unless they deliberately flip back to earlier pages. So if you were acknowledged in the previous editions and don't see it in the new one, you still are there. It's now on the last pages instead of the first ones.

Finally, it wouldn't be 2021 without inflationary price increases. Like the new format, pricing the book is out of my hands. The new 3rd edition of Freemasons For Dummies now lists for US$24.99, and US$15.00 (Kindle). If your lodge, grand lodge or research group is interested in bulk order pricing, let me know. Big orders are best done through Wiley's customer service department, and I can usually score you a discount code.

Meanwhile, the 2nd edition of Freemasons For Dummies remains in some inventories around the country and will continue to be sold until those run out. If you are looking for a better deal, Amazon is currently selling it for US$16.49 until those stocks are depleted. He who hesitates is lost. Or is at least charged full retail.