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


Friday, January 28, 2022

Pre-Order From Masonic Book Club: Samuel Pritchard's Masonry Dissect'd

by Christopher Hodapp

The newly revived Masonic Book Club has just announced the pre-publication ordering window for their second volume: a new edition of Samuel Pritchard's 1730 ritual exposure, Masonry Dissected

The pre-publication order window will be open from January 27, 2022, until February 28, 2022, at 11:59

The 'old' Masonic Book Club first published this book in 1977 with wonderful commentary by Masonic scholar Harry Carr, Past Master and Secretary of Quatuor Coronati Research Lodge No. 2076 in London.This 144-page reprint of that 1977 edition features Carr’s classic commentary, revised and updated by Ill. Arturo de Hoyos, 33°, G.C., and S. Brent Morris, 33°, G.C.

Pritchard's book included the first known publication of the details of the Master Mason degree, which had only been incorporated into the premiere Grand Lodge of England's ritual in 1726, just nine years after the 1717 formation of their grand lodge.

During the years before 1726, English ritual consisted of only the Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft degrees. While Pritchard's book was doubtless seen as a dastardly act and a betrayal of Masonic secrecy and honor at the time, it does provide historians a written record of the Masonic degrees as they existed in those formative years. It was also extremely popular at the time, presumably for both a curious public, and for Masons trying to learn to memorize their ritual.

From the MBC's description:
"When the Grand Lodge of England was formed in 1717, there were only two degrees: Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft. A “master mason” either held the contract at a job site (think “general contractor”) or was the elected presiding officer of a lodge. The first conferral of the Third or Master Mason Degree in a Masonic lodge occurred in March 1726 in Lodge Dumbarton Kilwinning No. 18. The degree apparently was conferred in May 1725 at a social club of Masons in London, the Philo Musicæ et Architecturæ Societas. There is no hint of what the ceremony may have been—not in the Old Charges, manuscript rituals, or publications. Nothing!
"Then on October 20, 1730, Samuel Prichard published Masonry Dissected with full details of the ritual for what he claimed was the Master Mason Degree. A second edition came out on October 21, and a third edition on October 31, all three published by Wilford in London. A presumably pirated edition dated “MD.CC.XXX” (1730) and printed by Thomas Nichols “without Temple Bar” (London) probably had made its appearance by the end of October 1730. Other presumably pirated versions were printed in Read’s Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer, on October 24, 1730; Northampton Mercury, in two parts on October 28, 1730, and on November 2, 1730; and the second half in The Original Mercury, York Journal: or, Weekly Courant, on November 2, 1730 (the reprint of the first half has not been located).
"Thus, there were three separate editions by Wilford for Prichard, a pirated edition by Nichols, and a newspaper version, all printed in London, plus a two-part pirated newspaper version printed in the Midlands, and another pirated newspaper version printed in the North of England, all within fourteen days. This was a popular book!

Here are the specifics from Brent Morris:

The pre-publication order window will be open from January 27, 2022, until February 28, 2022, at 11:59  
The special MBC pre-publication price is $30. Regular retail price will be $40. 
This time during the pre-publication sale period, we also will be offering a "First Day of Issue" signed edition for $45. These copies will not be available later for retail. 
We only will accept pre-publication purchases placed using the MBC order form. Pre-publication orders are not available through the Scottish Rite Store.

The printing industry currently is experiencing massive supply chain disruptions. We cannot place the order for Masonry Dissected until pre-publication purchasing is completed and reviewed. We hope to place the order by March 3, 2022. Our printer estimates "approximately 78–83 business days" to manufacture the books. We expect the books to be mailed about June 15–22, 2022, and will keep you informed of progress and changes. Thank you for your understanding during these unusual times.

**Due to GDPR and other complications, we only can accept credit card charges from and ship to the USA, US territories, Canada, and Mexico.

** However, Lewis Masonic in the United Kingdom is accepting a limited number of pre-publication orders (signed & unsigned editions) for the rest of the world. For details, please click the "Order Masonry Dissected" button below and answer "All Other Countries" to the first question.

If you have any questions, please visit the "FAQs" section on our MBC web page or email us at mbc@scottishrite.org.
There are no dues for the new Masonic Book Club. Books are announced for pre-publication orders and payments are only collected as books are ready to be manufactured. All transactions are handled exclusively online. Without a rigid calendar driving publications, new books can come out as quickly as nine months or as late as eighteen months, as resources permit. Book prices range in the $30 vicinity for pre-publication orders, or $40 retail if you miss the pre-pub ordering window. Volumes will no longer be numbered as in the old Club, but if the hardback edition sells out, the MBC will make a paperback print-on-demand edition available of the books. 

If there are sufficient pre-publication sales, MBC members will be notified after the pre-publication window closes at 11:59 pm ET on Monday, February 28, 2022. The books will be printed, and will ship around June 15–22, 2022.

If there are insufficient sales, members will be notified; and refunds will be credited about March 21, 2022.

To the relief of the MBC's older original members, the new Club actually communicates with its members twice a year with an electronic newsletter to keep everyone in the loop about upcoming volumes in the works and their production status. Despite his recent retirement from his longtime job of editing the AASR-SJ's Scottish Rite Journal, S. Brent Morris 33° continues to manage the MBC, and this endeavor has truly been a labor of love for him. 

The mission statement of the resurrected Masonic Book Club is to publish classic Masonic works with the goal of increasing Masonic knowledge and to become a profit center for the House of the Temple Foundation. More information can be found at the MBC's website HERE. If you are interested in this or subsequent volumes, you need to sign up on the website. If you have any questions or suggestions, please address them to mbc@scottishrite.org.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

GM of Georgia Issues Edict Banning Widows Sons Motorcycle Riders

by Christopher Hodapp

The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Georgia F&AM, Donald C. Combs, has just issued an edict in his state (No. 2022-2) forbidding the Freemasons in his jurisdiction from belonging to the Widows Sons International Masonic motorcycle riders association. Georgia Masons who do not comply by dropping their WS membership risk expulsion from the fraternity. Further, the edict orders ALL Masonic-related motorcycle clubs and associations in Georgia to disband, with the exception of motorcycle clubs affiliated with the Shrine. (Click images below to enlarge.)

This is not the first time this has happened in the U.S.

Back in 1998, a group of Masons who shared a love of motorcycles organized the first chapter of the Widow’s Sons Masonic motorcycle riders club, led by Brother Carl Davenport out of Chicago, Illinois. Open to all Master Masons, the goal of the Widows Sons was (and is) to promote motorcycle riding among Masons, and to promote Masonic membership among the general public. They regularly support and contribute to Masonic programs that help widows and orphans of Brother Masons. But almost from the outset, there was a cohort of Masons who strongly objected to the public image of the Widow’s Sons, and criticized the group’s first logo design, patches and leather vests as looking entirely too much like an unsavory outlaw motorcycle gang. 

Original logo for the Widows Sons included a sultry, red leather-clad 'Widow.'
(Image from Hiram's Knights website)

Their early vests often featured a Masonic square and compass, and a common objection was that Masonic symbols would be seen in bars on brethren who may not be able to subdue their passions. It was especially objected to in states where a grand lodge forbade Masons from serving and consuming alcohol at lodge functions. And their earliest logo featured a sultry 'widow' dressed in red leathers looking entirely too MILF-like. By the early 2000s, several grand masters around the U.S. issued decisions and edicts against the group, and in more than a few cases, ordered the groups to completely shut down, threatening expulsion for Masons who defied these orders. Other states forbade the wearing of Widows Sons signature leather vests in Craft lodge meetings.

(See Grand Master of Texas Edict: Widow's Sons Motorcycle Group from 2011; I don’t believe that anything has changed in Texas since then concerning Masonic biker groups.)

Photo: widowssonsinternational.com

Unfortunately, Masonic motorcycle associations have always - and continue to attract - extra scrutiny from critics and more than a few grand masters. Motorcycle-riding GMs in general have no issues with them, but plenty of other GMs find them problematic, asserting that motorcycle clubs of any kind attract an unsavory sort of man and are antithetical to the upstanding image that Freemasons have historically cultivated. There are also allegations that the state grand chapters of the Widows Sons set themselves up as a conflict of interest with grand lodges.

Over the last couple of hundred years or so, enthusiastic Masons have often sought to form special interest clubs or groups with like-minded brethren based on their professions, hobbies, or obsessions. There are Masonic veterans’ groups (National Sojourners), fishing clubs, gun clubs (like Hiram's Rangers Western action shooters club), stamp-collecting groups (Masonic Philatelic Club), RV owners (National Camping Travelers ), Masonic luncheon groups (like High Twelve International), and lots more. The most obvious manifestation of this phenomenon can be seen in the Shrine. Upon joining a local Shriners temple, new members are often encouraged to join and participate in a specific affinity group like the clowns, Masonic or Shriner degree teams, little car drivers, classic car enthusiasts, model railroad clubs, boat owners, private plane pilots (the “Flying Fezes”), and often one of the most popular, motorcycle riders. 

Other states have managed over the years to hammer out agreements between their grand lodges and the Widows Sons, so hopefully this will be a brief incident.

UPDATED 1/27/2022 9:00PM

A closer reading of the edict gives a better sense of what it is attempting to address. From his edict I took away that the GL of GA must officially recognize or authorize any group calling itself ‘Masonic,’ and that the entire collection of clubs being disbanded or forbidden never bothered to officially get those approvals. I believe he’s saying, ‘Clean up your act, decide if you want to be Masonic, and apply for approval with the proper committee. Let’s do this right instead of ignoring the GA code and procedures.’

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

NBC/Peacock Announces Cancellation of Dan Brown's 'The Lost Symbol'

by Christopher Hodapp

NBC's Peacock streaming network has announced that there will only be the single season of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol that has already aired. The 10-episode series aired between September and November 2021, and there are no plans for future episodes.

Based on Brown's 2009 blockbuster Masonic-themed novel, The Lost Symbol starred Ashley Zukerman as symbologist Robert Langdon, along with Valorie Curry (“Blair Witch”), Sumalee Montano (“10 Cloverfield Lane”), Rick Gonzalez (“Arrow”), Beau Knapp (“Seven Seconds”), and actor and comedian Eddie Izzard as Peter Solomon.

According to the announcement in Variety on Monday
, "Peacock and producers believed that the series adaptation of the book told the complete story of the source material." 
The completed series will continue to be offered to subscribers on the Peacock streaming platform.

The creative team for the series made an early decision to modify much of the Masonic content of Brown's original novel and invent a super-secret level of Freemasons within the fraternity (called 'Leviathan') in order to free the show from having to stick to known facts, symbolism and practices of Masonry. And I was told a major consideration of the producers was their legal departments' advice to not show the square and compass in order to avoid any possibility of being sued for copyright or trademark infringement by the fraternity. (I'm only reporting it.) 

Apparently the Peacock advertising department never got that memo...

The so-called "Leviathan cross" depicted in the show is actually the alchemical symbol for sulphur (also for volcanic brimstone), and series creators invented the fictional group as a special collection of powerful, select, brainy, unseen Masonic masters who protect the really secret secrets to life, the universe and everything.

The Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction created an eleven-part YouTube series that acts as a Masonic viewers' guide to the Lost Symbol program. Hosted by Brother Maynard Edwards, ° KCCH, the multi-part program, Symbols & Secrets, explores and explains the symbols, terminology and accuracy of The Lost Symbol. As the program explains, this is NOT a Masonic symbol. 

Friday, January 07, 2022

Zanesville, Ohio Masonic Temple Destroyed By Fire

(Photo: Times-Republic)

by Christopher Hodapp

The historic Masonic Temple in downtown Zanesville, Ohio was gutted by fire last night, and numerous nearby buildings and businesses were ordered to be evacuated (including the Muskingum County Jail's 100 prisoners). 

Fortunately, there were no injuries or fatalities reported. 

According to stories in the Zanesville Times-Republic, no statement has been made concerning the source of the blaze, whether it was accidental, faulty wiring, or deliberately set. With the rising number of Masonic lodges being the target of arsonists all over the world, that's a vital bit of business to discover.

Photo: Kelly Sims

Firefighters were called at about 11:00 PM, but the fast-burning flames spread quickly. Although the brick and limestone exterior survived the devastating blaze, the interior floors were almost completely destroyed.

The Temple was opened in 1901 and has been the longtime home of Lodge of Amity No. 5, along with York Rite groups and other appendant organizations. But the Temple was also an important place to the wider community. Between 50 and 60 artists have rented studio space in the Temple for many years. Other renters included a law firm, property management agencies, and a bail bonds agency. Its 7-story height made it the tallest building in the town.

(Photo: Times-Republic)

Because the entire structure was completely gutted, it now poses an immediate danger to people and nearby business if it collapses. Zanesville fire department officials have ordered the Temple to be demolished - possibly as early as this weekend.

On Saturday, the first ever Zanesville Arts Walk was to have taken place, with much activity around the Temple artists' studios. 

Amity Lodge No. 5 is one of the first five Ohio lodges that formed the Grand Lodge of Ohio in 1806. The lodge sold the Temple building several years ago, but continued to lease their lodge rooms from the new owners. Bill Hosler reports that the lodge had officer's jewels made by Paul Revere on display, as well as the military sword belonging to Rufus Putnam of American Union Lodge No. 1. No word as yet as to the fate of those items.

Saturday, January 01, 2022

Fire at Grand Lodge of Ireland in Dublin

by Christopher Hodapp

NOTE: This story has been updated to include a statement from the Grand Lodge of Ireland.

The Irish Times and other sources are reporting that a fire broke out at the historic Dublin headquarters of the Grand Lodge of Ireland this evening (New Years Eve) at about 5:30 PM local time on New Years Eve. The building was supposed to be empty at that time, and fire officials suspect arson. 

Witnesses said that a man in his 30s was seen climbing through a broken window into the building and setting fire to a Christmas tree that was displayed in the building's library. The fire brigade arrived at 5:40 and quickly extinguished the blaze.

A bizarre anti-vaccination message was also painted on the sidewalk outside.

The graffiti is understood to be reference to mRNA, the technology used in some Covid-19 vaccines.

The Grand Lodge of Freemasons of Ireland grand secretary Philip Daleydescribed the attack as “very serious” and “completely out of the blue”.

However, he said there had been previous demonstrations outside the hall and other Masoni halls in Ireland by anti-vaccination campaigners.

“The view is that we created the virus and we are part of the new world order and we have to be stopped. It’s ridiculous stuff,” he said.

An unidentified man was hospitalized with spinal injuries after falling at the scene. No one is saying yet whether this person is under suspicion for the blaze, or merely an innocent bystander.

The magnificent Freemasons Hall on Molesworth Street in Dublin has been the home of the Grand Lodge since 1860. While the fire was mostly contained to one room, the library is the perhaps the worst of all possible places to be damaged. 

UPDATE: January 4, 2022, 3:40PM

The following statement was issued this morning by the Grand Secretary for the Grand lodge of Ireland:

Dear Brethren,
Thank you for the many emails, texts, and calls offering support and assistance following the arson attack at Freemasons’ Hall. It is impossible, at this time, to reply individually due to the large volume, however we really appreciate your support.

The insurance assessors have been working over the weekend to assess the damage, but it will take some time to complete this. Our first objective is to get Freemasons’ Hall open and operational. It is hoped that electricity and gas will be restored within the next 24 hours and the clean-up has commenced.

Although the damage is extensive, it is repairable, and work will commence over the coming weeks. The books and the paintings in the café / library have suffered smoke damage and a plan is in place to protect them prior to restoration.

I would ask for your patience in dealing with administrative matters at this time. It may take a little longer to get a reply as our computers and telephone services have not yet been restored.

Sincerely & fraternally,

Philip A.J. Daley
Grand Secretary

 Meanwhile, two photos of some of the interior damage to the library and cafe have been circulated on Facebook without attribution. If anyone knows who took these images, let me know and I'll add their credit.