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


Wednesday, August 30, 2023

"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men"

by Christopher Hodapp

As I reported last week, I managed to fall and break a bone in my ankle ten days ago. No great story to regale you with — no spectacular bar fight, no mishap on my tricky ascent up the north face of Mount Schmatterhorn, no I wasn't worked over by a gang of pirates or bootleggers. I just managed to get a leg cramp after standing up all weekend, and fell over, snapping the ankle joint on my fibula (the thin calf bone in your leg), splitting the bone right up the center. So, I go in Friday morning for surgery when they'll fix it using the same technology I use in my own poor attempts at carpentry: drive a handful of screws in it and spackle over the problem.

The immediate bad news is that I must cancel my speaking engagement next Tuesday, September 5th at New York's Pelham Lodge 712 in the Bronx. I've spent two days on the phone with Brothers Hanson Cuthbert and Matthew Aponte trying to come up with a suitable solution (possibly driving to Indy, renting a flatbed trailer, and lashing me down onto it in a LaZBoy for an exciting road trip). But with the surgery, recovery, and followup appointments afterwards, I can't even commit to cogently presenting on video, as it's probable I'll still be loopy on pain-killing hallucinogens next Tuesday night. So, my deepest apologies to the lodge and to everyone who was planning on attending. I'm even more disappointed than you, I assure you. As soon as I am more certain as to recovery time, we will reschedule the event.

I also have events scheduled in October and late November, in Ohio and Connecticut. I'm not canceling those engagements at this time, but I will know a lot more in about a week or so.

Congratulations Illus. Brother James Dillman, 33°

by Christopher Hodapp

I'm furious that a stupid stumble wound up keeping me home from an event that was so important to the four portly gents in this old picture.

Fifteen years and way too many banquet dinners ago, there were these four Indiana troublemakers: an extremely overweight Dummy, WB Jim Dillman, RW Roger VanGorden PGM, and WB Nathan Brindle. The photo above was shot on a very hot summer afternoon in 2007, behind the Indianapolis Scottish Rite Cathedral. Jim, Nathan and I had just started serving together on the Board for the Indianapolis Masonic Temple. We were still two years away from founding The Masonic Society, of which Roger would become the first president, Jim its second, Nathan its Secretary/Treasurer, and I would edit the quarterly magazine. Several years later, Roger, Nathan and Jim would all go on to have officer positions in the Indianapolis Valley of the Scottish Rite.

Over time, we would all have incredible honors bestowed upon us by the fraternity that we never anticipated. Roger, Nathan and I would all be honored with the 33° by the Scottish Rite NMJ. (In my own case, I'm still bewildered and convinced someone snuck mine in accidentally. There's no chance it could have been done on purpose.)

And so it came to pass on Tuesday that now-Illustrious Brother James Dillman stood among his peers at Louisville's Palace Theater and was coroneted with the 33rd degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, NMJ. I would have given anything to have attended that ceremony, but my freshly broken ankle put a sudden kibosh to that plan. My deepest regrets, Jim. I really really wanted to be there.

In a further development amongst our little merry band of Hoosier Masonic cabal members, Illus. Roger VanGorden was named as an Active Member of the Supreme Council NMJ for Indiana.

I don't know what deeds I ever accomplished over the years to be associated with these esteemed brethren of such rare and varied talents, but I thank the GAOTU every day for it.

Illustrious Indiana Masons Among Honored With 33° In Louisville

by Christopher Hodapp

I had fervently hoped to attend the Scottish Rite NMJ's Supreme Council meeting in Louisville this week, for several reasons. I had it on my calendar for a year. We'd made the plans months ago. But my last-minute leg injury prevented us going, along with other events I've been forced to cancel. And I'm NOT happy about it.

Congratulations to our new Illustrious 33° Brethren from the Valley of Indianapolis in the photo at the top of this post.

Bradley Keith Keen
Steven John Sonafrank
Paul Irvin Gosnell
James Richard Dillman
Amzie Lee Wenning.
(Illus. James Edward Granneman also received his 33° in a special ceremony on July 20th.)

They were joined by these Illustrious Sirs also honored Tuesday from the other Scottish Rite Valleys across Indiana:

From the Valley of Fort Wayne
Lawrence Albert Davis
Fred Leonard Lucabaugh
Terrence Roe
Christopher Stewart Sanders

From the Valley of Evansville
Thomas Lee Bartelt
Roger Fuchs
David Scott Straw

From the Valley of South Bend
Timothy Francis Lawson
Lucas Pacukovski
Matthew K. Pollard

From the Valley of Terre Haute
Richard Wallace Allen
Stanley Wayne Frank, Jr.
Jason Benton Smith

From the Valley of George Rogers Clark
Richard Edward Milligan
Rex Robertson
Archie R. Smallwood

If you're not a Mason – or even if you are –the 33° of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry is likely the most misunderstood term and Masonic-related degree that people encounter

To slightly paraphrase from the official announcement concerning this honor as it is bestowed by the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (which covers the 15 US states north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi):

[A Scottish Rite member of the 32nd degree] — a Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret — who is not less than 33 years of age, may be elected at an Annual Meeting of the Supreme Council to receive the Degree of Sovereign Grand Inspector General, Honorary Member of the Supreme Council. The Degree of Sovereign Grand Inspector General shall be conferred only at the Annual Meeting of the Supreme Council.

The Sovereign Grand Commander's degree, the Sovereign Grand Inspectors General, cannot be petitioned for, nor purchased, it must be earned through work and dedication to the craft. The 33° is not an endpoint, but a beginning of the continuing work these brothers will give to their Valleys and Masonry in general.

The 33rd degree is NOT hidden from the public - as you can see, their names are openly announced, and there are about 500 holders of this degree in each of the Northern and Southern Jurisdictions. It is considered a great honor, but 33° Masons do not "outrank" other Masons. A man is a "full member" of Freemasonry once he has completed the three degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason in his Masonic lodge. The Scottish Rite is an additional organization a Mason may join to discover and explore further Masonic philosophy, and because they confer such a large number of degrees through the presentation of dramatic ceremonial plays, the Rite numbers theirs from the 4th through the 32nd degrees, with the 33rd conferred on a few members as a penultimate honor for their hard work in Masonry or the community. 

In the North, the degree of Sovereign Grand Inspector General, Honorary is just that – honorary. There is also a separate Sovereign Grand Inspector General, Active who is a voting member of the Supreme Council (which governs the Rite). These SGIG/Actives represent the different Valleys in each state. In the North, the 33rd-degree ceremony for the Honoraries is an elaborate ceremony presented live onstage and can only be attended by other 33rds. The Actives have their own separate conferral and obligation.

The Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite consists of the other 35 states and the District of Columbia. All their degrees from 4 through 32, plus their 33rd, are based upon the rituals written by Albert Pike in the mid- to late-1800s. Our two organizations impart Scottish Rite lessons in different ways: Pike favored mostly Old Testament-inspired framing for his rituals and included much in the way of ancient symbolism and pre-Enlightenment esotericism, while the North has created more recent scenarios for its ceremonies, including several inspired by American history. 

Another difference between the two US Scottish Rite jurisdictions is that the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction holds its biennial meeting and 33rd degree conferral in Washington D.C., which is the location of their headquarters, the House of the Temple. The 33° candidates for the Southern Jurisdiction lined up last week in Washington, as seen in this photo from Arturo De Hoyos.

The Northern Jurisdiction takes their biennial meetings on the road and generally tries to hold its 33rd degree conferral in an historic theater, if possible. Recent meetings have been in Indianapolis, Chicago, Rochester, Cleveland, and Louisville this year. 

(Yes, we know – Louisville's on the south side of the river. But it's a great city for big events. And face it: thanks to GPS and Google Maps, Mankind has lost the innate ability to read maps or find his way without asking directions. That's what we get for subverting evolution.)

Monday, August 28, 2023

AASR-NMJ: Illus. Walter F. Wheeler Installed As Grand Commander

by Christopher Hodapp

This just in from Louisville, Kentucky:

The Supreme Council of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction has just installed Illustrious Walter F. Wheeler as its new Sovereign Grand Commander.

This post will be updated.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Kentucky's Rubicon Masonic Society 11th Annual Feast and Symposium

by Christopher Hodapp

I'm tardy in thanking the Brethren of Lexington Lodge 1 in Kentucky, the William O. Ware Lodge of Research, and the members of the Rubicon Masonic Society for hosting such a fantastic event last weekend. Friday night was the Society's 11th annual Festive Board at the beautiful Spindletop Mansion, and it was outstanding, as always. Brother Antonio Mantica from Lexington Lodge delivered the keynote address. There was a superb dinner, wonderful surroundings, warm friendships, and the quite unexpected surprise of making me an honorary member of their august group. 

No Rubicon Feast is complete without a group photo
on the grand staircase (like this one from 2017)

On Saturday, I was one of the presenters of papers celebrating four “CLASSIC MASONIC AUTHORS OF THE 20th CENTURY:

* ANDREW SOMMERVILLE MACBRIDE – presented by W.B. Andrew Hammer.

* JOSEPH FORT NEWTON – presented by W.B. Dan M. Kemble.

* DWIGHT L. SMITH, P.G.M. – presented by W.B. Christopher L. Hodapp.

* THOMAS W. JACKSON – presented by W.B. John W. Bizzack.

Brother Mantica introduced the speakers and was moderator for the Q&A session. The program will be made part of Rubicon’s ongoing educational video channel on YouTube.

During COVID summer Rubicon began taping Masonic education presentations and posting them on YouTube. These programs feature a wide variety of speakers, both seasoned veterans and many new faces. They’re currently up to 52 episodes, and they continue to create new ones. I highly recommend these programs — they’re suitable for listening to in the car, or for showing them as part of an ongoing education program for your lodge. 


If you’ve never had the experience of attending Rubicon’s annual feasts, or if you are considering hosting a traditional Masonic festive board for your own lodge, I highly recommend a video that was created by these Brothers last year, The Masonic Table. Rubicon is blessed to have the services of Brian T. Evans Jr., who is a professional videographer. As a result, The Masonic Table is a beautifully shot program that demonstrates Rubicon’s traditions and practices when gathered around the festive board. There are as many ways to hold a Masonic evening meal and celebration as there are lodges in the world, but Rubicon’s draws upon formal English Masonic ceremonial dinners for inspiration. 

My deepest appreciation goes to everyone at Rubicon, especially John Bizzack and Bryan Evans for their invitation, their enthusiasm, and their always-warm hospitality.

Unfortunately, the rest of my weekend wasn’t nearly as enjoyable, and is the reason for my delay in posting. I took a hard fall at home early Sunday morning and somehow managed to fracture the business end of my fibula where it connects to the ankle. It’s in a plaster splint, but I’ll find this week whether that means a walking boot, a full on cast, surgery, or if I’ll just be frozen in a clock of carbonite and handed over to Jabba the Hut.

I'm furious that I didn't even get a decent story out of my injury. (AW, yeah, it looks bad, but you should see the OTHER guy!As you can see, even Sophie's already bored with the whole experience. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Stalking the Fraternal Lodge Goat

by Christopher Hodapp

The July 2023 issue of Indianapolis Monthly Magazine featured a unique artifact from the Masonic Library & Museum of Indiana in Indianapolis: 'Bucky,' our very own fraternal mechanical goat. (Click the image to enlarge)

This local guide magazine features news, entertainment, dining picks and reviews, museums, theater information, lifestyle articles, and more. Nearly every month, their staff seeks out unusual artwork, displays and other odd items, generally from local museums. 

A couple of years ago, they featured a unique piece of fraternal folk art — a composite assembly of hand-carved wooden symbols and objects used in the rituals of Freemasonry, the Woodmen of the World, and the Knights of Pythias, all made by a Hoosier Freemason in the 1860s and 70s (See HERE).

Unfortunately, the July 2023 issue's short blurb about our goat didn't give a whole lot of information, and didn't even mention our Museum as its home. But because I assembled a fair amount of material about our goat, I submitted a longer article that was in the Summer 2023 issue of the Indiana Freemason Magazine.

Freemasons, Fraternities, Lodges, and Goats

                          The house is full of arnica*,

And mystery profound;

We do not dare to run about

Or make the slightest sound;

We leave the big piano shut

And do not strike a note;

The doctor’s been here seven times

Since father rode the goat.


He joined the Lodge a week ago—

Got in at four A.M.,

And sixteen Brethren brought him home,

Though he says that he brought them.

His wrist was sprained and one big rip

Had rent his Sunday coat—

There must have been a lively time

When Father rode the goat.


“When Father Rode the Goat”, from The Lodge Goat and Goat Rides by James Pettibone (1909)
* — Arnica is a plant with yellow flowers that was commonly used to treat bruises.

At some point in our Masonic lives, most of us have heard brethren joking with nervous candidates about a “lodge goat” tied up out back for later in the evening. We’re told over the years that these jokes are inappropriate, that there’s no such thing as a “lodge goat,” and that the stories about Masons riding goats in their initiations are just myths. So, when first-time visitors explore the Masonic Library and Museum of Indiana, many are startled to round a corner and come face to face with a large, horned, furry billy goat. At several times throughout the history of the Grand Lodge of Indiana, various grand masters and grand secretaries have issued stern warnings to lodges, admonishing brethren to never joke about the solemn degree ceremonies, specifically warning against making goat jokes. And yet, here sits a prime specimen of the Capra hircus on the 5th floor of the Grand Lodge building (albeit an artificial, wheeled, mechanical critter of the species).


So, is our ‘Billy’ proof that the Masons really do “ride the goat” in their ceremonies?! Well, not exactly. 


The public has always had a fascination with the secret initiation rites of fraternal societies like the Freemasons, the International Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, the Rosicrucians, the Red Men, and many others, and goat lore has been attached to the “Secret Orders” from the very start. Interestingly, the word caper, meaning “a playful or slightly questionable activity” actually comes from the Latin root capra, the word meaning “nanny goat.” 


The eminent 19th-century English Masonic historians George Oliver and Robert Freke Gould traced the origin of Masonic goat tales back to the Middle Ages when bearded rams were seen as symbolic of the devil himself.  Legends were told of witches who called forth Satan, riding into town on a he-goat to take part in their blasphemous orgies, and witches were often depicted riding goats themselves. Early anti-Masons accused Masons of deviltry (when that meant actually dealing with the Devil, and before the term evolved to more commonly mean just childish mischievousness), and the goat-riding tales quickly got shifted from witches to Masons. 

The Golden Age of Fraternalism, from the end of the American Civil War up through the 1929 Great Depression, exploded with new fraternal groups and secret orders. In an article in the North American Review from 1897, the writer H. S. Harwood reported that fraternal groups claimed five and a half million members, out of a total adult U.S. population of about nineteen million. Four out of every ten American men belonged to at least one of more than 1,000 different “secret societies”, all competing for their hearts, minds, participation, and membership dues. Truly obsessive and enthusiastic fraternalists could attend a different lodge meeting every single night of the month, and every group had their own pseudo-esoteric initiation ritual that usually used classical, literary, or Biblical symbolism to teach lessons about morality, charity, honesty, and more. Some were more serious than others, but with so many groups a typical lodge meeting consisted of reading the minutes from the previous month, paying the bills, maybe enjoying a pitch-in dinner, followed by a hot hand of euchre. And so, to attract more members, newer groups began to invent decidedly un-serious initiation ceremonies. And on occasion, they could get quite raucous. Initiation rumors about the “Secret Orders” became so widespread during this period that it was only a matter of time before some group really would add a goat to their meetings.

The Modern Woodmen of America was founded in 1883 by Joseph Cullen Root specifically to offer insurance benefits to its members. In 1894, their ritual book introduced a new ceremony they called the “Fraternal Degree.” The ritual specified that the hoodwinked initiate be placed on the back of a mechanical goat and bounced around the “hall three or four times, care being taken not to be too rough.” Their official history, written in 1924, stated, “there was an immediate increase in interest in the work of our 'Camps' (i.e. lodges) and a corresponding impetus to growth resulted.”

The DeMoulin Brothers in Greenville, Illinois were already manufacturing furniture, costumes, props, and other paraphernalia for fraternal lodges by 1890, and they weren’t alone. They had lots of competition around the country to satisfy the needs of literally thousands of lodges, but the DeMoulin boys began specializing in building elaborate props for hazing new initiates, and their business skyrocketed. Products included exploding altars, collapsing chairs, electrified carpets, butt-paddling machines, trick guillotines, life-sized skeleton marionettes, water-squirting devices of all kinds, and, of course, mechanical goats. As you can imagine, college fraternities also became eager customers for the DeMoulins. 


At their height, they offered at least five different models of bucking goats, with optional accessories like electrified stirrups and water-squirting collars: The Bucking Goat; the Lowdown Buck; the Fuzzy Wonder; the Rollicking Mustang Goat; and the Ferris Wheel Coaster Goat.  The business became so lucrative that, around Greenville, their plant became known as “the goat factory.” 


Other fraternal supply houses began offering their very own goats and patenting their designs – J. Pettibone, J.P. Luther, Louis E. Stilz & Brothers, and several others all made mechanical goats for decades. In 1909, James Pettibone even published a 600-page book of poetry, cartoons, plays and stories about lodge goats, collected from dozens of different fraternal organizations, called The Lodge Goat and Goat Rides.

Lodge goats also appeared in pop culture during this period. In 1900, American artist Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, best known for his “dogs playing poker” painting, created one print in his famous dog series that showed a fraternal lodge filled with canines initiating a hoodwinked St. Bernard, led with a cable-tow around his neck by a cocker spaniel, and riding on the back of a goat. 

In 1916, a short, silent animated cartoon featuring a popular bad-boy character named Bobby Bumps was released, about a young prankster attempting to trick his best friend Mose into being blindfolded and butted in the backside by a barnyard goat. And over the years, many novelty postcard companies offered up collections of “lodge goat” cartoons, showing Masons or other fraternal members with a tipsy goat among their group, drinking toasts, butting candidates, acting as the lodge Tyler, and more.

Our particular billy goat at the Masonic Library & Museum of Indiana is a DeMoulin Brothers’ Model 188 “Bucking Goat.” Its metal wheels are mounted deliberately off-kilter to provide a more wobbly ride for the poor unsuspecting initiate, and the push handle in the rear allowed the tormenting operator to make the goat wildly pitch back and forth. Such a critter was never permitted for use in any Masonic degree ceremonies, and ours actually came from a former Odd Fellows lodge in southern Indiana. But that didn’t stop plenty of fraternal lodges from creating clubs and unauthorized  “inner orders” that made up side degrees specifically to make use of these kinds of hazing devices. 


If lodge members weren’t especially gifted at inventing their own ceremonies, the DeMoulins helpfully sold playbooks with various scenarios and recommendations for more effectively humiliating or scaring the hell out of candidates in order to enliven meetings, raise charity money, and delight the audience.  Of course, the whole point of all these raucous, hazing hijinks was that, after a new initiate had successfully withstood the humiliation from his Brethren, his greatest desire as the newest member of the lodge was to inflict the same treatment  – or even worse – on the next poor, blind candidate who knocked on the door.


Alas, the demand for goats and guillotines in fraternal lodges has long since fizzled out, but the DeMoulins are actually still in business today, specializing in band uniforms. They have their own very fun and unique museum in Greenville, Illinois displaying their wilder products from the fraternal past, including a selection of their bucking billies. It’s well worth a visit. 


He’s resting on the couch today

And practicing his signs

The hailing signs, working grip,

And other monkey-shines

He mutters passwords ’neath his breath 

And other things he’ll quote;

They surely had an evening’s work

When father rode the goat. 


Monday, August 14, 2023

MSA Issues Disaster Relief Appeal for Maui Fires

(Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

by Christopher Hodapp

The Masonic Service Association of North America has officially issued a Disaster Relief Appeal for the wildfire devastation on the Hawaiian island of Maui, on behalf of the Grand Lodge of Hawaii:

August 11, 2023
Hawaii Wild Fire Disaster Relief Appeal

"Last night, our beloved island of Maui was touched by the destructive forces of fires that swept through the community, leaving devastation in their wake. As Brothers of the Craft, let us remember that adversity only strengthens our bonds. Let us also use this moment to reflect on the fragility of life and the importance of being prepared, not just physically, but also in terms of the support systems we offer to one another."

Grand Master Dustin T. Verity has requested the Masonic Service Association of North America (MSA) to issue this Disaster Relief Appeal.

Please forward any donations you feel appropriate to help our devastated Brothers and their families in this stricken jurisdiction to MSA.

Please make checks payable to MSA Disaster Relief Appeal and send to:

Masonic Service Association
813 1st Avenue SE, Suite 357
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402

When remitting by check, please clearly mark that you wish the funds to go to the (Maui Wild Fires, Hawaii Disaster Relief Appeal.)

Sincerely and Fraternally,

Craig L. Davis, P.G.M.
Administrative Office Phone: (319) 206-5411

Remember that all donations made to the MSA are tax deductible, and they charge no service fees of any kind to Grand Lodges making the appeal—the amount you donate is what they receive.

In addition, the Masonic Charities of the Grand Lodge of Hawaii has its own GoFundMe page for making donations. And an Amazon list has been created for those wishing to donate specific supplies to the cause.

(Photo: AP)

Latest news is that the death toll has risen to over 100 people, with hundreds still missing. Estimates are that more than 2,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed by the fires last week that were stoked by a combination of the annual summer drought and 80+ mph winds from Hurricane Dora, which passed 500 miles south of the islands. Thousands of people from the western side of Maui remain displaced, and rebuilding will take years to accomplish.

I have not seen specific information about Masons and lodges in the affected areas: please forward any information available to me at hodapp@aol.com

See previous post for more details:

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Oklahoma Grand Master Issues Warning About Anti-Masonic Activity

MW Glen A. Chaney, Grand Master of the
Grand Lodge AF&AM of Oklahoma

by Christopher Hodapp

MW Glen A. Chaney, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Oklahoma, has issued a letter of warning to his jurisdictions' lodges concerning recent threats, acts of vandalism, and violence against Freemasons. This warning comes in the wake of the recent increase in Anti-Masonic behavior in the U.S. and Canada. 

In his letter, he provides a list of recommendations to help heighten security in and around Masonic halls. (Click image below to enlarge.)

It reads, in part:

As so many of you are aware, reports of crimes against members of our fraternity in various jurisdictions have been received. Also, persons desiring to take some action against our members and damage to buildings, temples and other structures associated with our Fraternity have been reported.

These reports remain fluid. Some initial reports and motives of the offenders cannot yet be verified. The images of structural damages due to fire and other vandalism are very disturbing. The level of concern that I have for the safety of our members and families in Oklahoma and around the world, is immeasurable and foremost in my mind.

Additionally, there are a number of lodges in our jurisdiction which have reported Anti-masonic literature that has been distributed to them or placed on surrounding vehicles. These incidents have not been determined to be related to one another, however, any lodge or member receiving such material should disregard its anti-masonic rhetoric but may desire to report their findings to their law enforcement in the event of any escalation or future incidents.

While the facts of each individual case are still being investigated. I caution all Masons and their families to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings. Please do not place yourself in any unsafe situations or locations and always remain cognizant of your immediate areas. Good safety practices include, but is not limited to:

• Speak with all members about safe behaviors and decisions.

• Increase and maintain all exterior lighting.

• After Masonic events, make all attempts to exit with someone else or in a group.

• Secure all Lodge doors, buildings and structures when meeting and departing.

• Use camera surveillance, if available, with recording features.

• Post signs or other indicators announcing the use of recording equipment.

• Report issues and any suspicious actions or behaviors of unknown persons.

• Check the exterior of your lodge regularly to identify any vandalism.

• Use chaperone to and from the door for our elder members.

Our responsibility is to remain aware and to take great care of our Brothers and Families. Please contact the Grand Secretary with any additional questions.

Attacks Against Masons Increasing

In the last couple of years, there appears to have been an alarming increase in the number of attacks against Masonic buildings over the last couple of years, and against Freemasons themselves. A Mason in McAllen, Texas was shot and killed outside of the local lodge by a man who believed the Masons had "put a curse on him." Recent arson fires and other serious vandalism have damaged or destroyed Masonic halls in Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Connecticut, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vancouver in British Columbia, and elsewhere. The Vancouver arsonist set fire to three Masonic halls in that city in a single morning, causing CA$2.5 million in damages, and was sentenced to 40 months in prison. His attorney claimed he "struggled with mental health issues and just wanted to draw attention to what he described as dark souls and CSIS tracking devices."

An arson fire in July at the Scottish Rite building in El Paso, Texas and the defacing of a Masonic mural in Naperville, Illinois have been the most recent incidents.  In the wake of these rising reports of incidents, the Grand Master of Washington (state) issued a letter earlier this month, warning members in his jurisdiction about a man who has issued numerous hate-filled, anti-Masonic threats about the fraternity.

Overseas, Masonic halls in Ireland and Greece have also been recently attacked by anti-Masons. There also seems to have been a major increase in anti-Masonic social media posts and videos.

HELP WANTED: Lodge Furniture and Vintage German Language U.S. Ritual

by Christopher Hodapp

I've been contacted by brethren from two Indiana lodges in need of some specialized items. If you're able to help with either of these requests, contact me directly ay hodapp@aol.com and I'll connect you with the appropriate brothers:

Fraternal Lodge Room Furniture Needed

If anyone knows of a Masonic lodge that is closing or consolidating, an Indianapolis lodge is moving to a new location later this year and is in need of a (hopefully matching) set of lodge room furniture. According to one of their Past Masters who dropped by our Museum, they are wanting to acquire an altar, the Master's and Wardens' pedestals, and all officers' chairs.

They'd also consider Secretary and Treasurer's desks if they match the rest of the pieces, and the J & B columns, if you have them. They do NOT need sideline seats.

He didn't give me a time frame, but they haven't broken ground on the new building yet, so it's not an immediate need. But they expect to be moved in before December. Obviously, the closer to Indiana, the simpler it will be to arrange transportation. I suspect they'd love to find something that can be reached within a day's drive from Indianapolis – but I'll let others sort that out.

German Language U.S. Ritual Material

Like many states in the midwest, early Indiana was settled by a large contingent of German, Swiss and Dutch immigrants, and we had a small handful of Masonic lodges here that performed their degree ceremonies and monthly work in the German language. (I think we had four or five such lodges at one time.) Lessing Lodge 464 in Evansville was the last chartered Indiana lodge that had official permission from the Grand Lodge to do their work in German — they ceased the practice in the 1960s, as I recall.

Lessing Lodge is now wanting to exemplify the degrees in German as a demonstration project — they believe they have enough German-speaking members and interested participants in the area to pull this off. But they haven't been able to find any sort of existing, German-language printed material of American Preston-Webb ritual. 

Any sort of material like this that may have existed at their lodge 60 years ago has disappeared long ago. As far as I've been able to find, we don't have anything in our Library/Museum. And it's entirely probable that there WAS no such printed material in the days when the German language lodges were active here — mouth-to-ear ritual instruction was the proper way of the Masonic world, regardless of language, up until the 21st century when we all got lazy and isolated. 

Obviously, Pennsylvania had a large German-speaking population, and I believe they still have some lodges today that do their degrees that way. But Pennsylvania's Blue Lodge degrees are so COMPLETELY different from the rest of the country that any German version of their work isn't really going to be appropriate in any other state (although, for demonstration purposes, maybe that's okay).

Another possibility might be material from a lodge in the American-Canadian Grand Lodge of Germany, although I don't know how closely their ritual tracks U.S. Webb Work.

It's certainly possible to scan Indiana ritual, feed it through translation software, and spend days trying to laboriously clean up the inevitable mistakes made by machine translations ("Welcome to the very Great Large Box of Indiana!"). But if anyone has already existing material, that would be extremely helpful. 

Again, contact me directly at hodapp@aol.com and I'll put you in touch with the appropriate brother.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Freemason and Odd Fellows Exhibit at Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock

by Christopher Hodapp

A new exhibition on Freemasonry and the Odd Fellows opened this evening at the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock: "Mystery and Benevolence: Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk Art from the Kendra and Allan Daniel Gift to the American Folk Art Museum."

The exhibit is on loan from the American Folk Art Museum in New York.

Mystical, evocative, and sometimes simply strange, the art of fraternal practice is rich in symbols that are oddly familiar yet strikingly uncommon. Through arcane and alluring artifacts, Mystery and Benevolence brings to light the histories of the Freemasons and the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows, two fraternal secret societies with deep roots in American history. The over eighty carvings, textiles, sculptures, and adornments that constitute this exhibition were used from the late eighteenth through mid-twentieth centuries, and retain their clandestine allure to this day.

The Historic Arkansas Museum is located at 1100 North Street, Little Rock, Arkansas. Hours are Tuesday – Saturday 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM; Sunday 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM. For admission and more information, visit their website at www.arkansasheritage.com

Friday, August 11, 2023

DISASTER: Hawaii Grand Master Appeals For Donations in Maui Devastation

(AP photo)

by Christopher Hodapp

NOTE: This story has been updated on Monday, August 14, 2023, 3:30PM

Wildfires fed by hurricane winds have destroyed a substantial portion of the Hawaiian island of Maui this week. Fires broke out three days ago, partially the result of the annual summer drought combined with high winds from Hurricane Dora, which passed 500 miles south of the island chain. 

As of Friday morning, 55 are reported dead, 12,000 have been forced to evacuate, and more than a thousand people are still unaccounted for. As the fires raced towards the coast, many desperate people were driven to jump into the ocean to escape the onrushing flames. 

Electricity and cell service has been cut off for much of the island, and thousands of homes, businesses, cars and infrastructure are completely burned to the ground in and around the historic town of Lahaina — former capital of the Hawaiian kingdom — at the western end of the island. Currently, six fires remain uncontained – five are in the center of the island.

The White House has officially declared the situation a federal emergency.

Today, MW Dustin T. Verity, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Hawaii F&AM, has issued a statement concerning the Maui fire devastation (click image below to enlarge).

It reads, in part:

I hope this message finds you well, though I understand that recent events have left us all with heavy hearts. Last night, our beloved island of Maui was touched by the destructive force of fires that swept through our community, leaving devastation in their wake. It is with a profound sense of sadness that I reach out to each of you today.

During these challenging times, let us come together as a united and resilient Masonic family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the individuals and families affected by this tragedy. We stand in solidarity with our Brothers and their loved ones who may be grappling with loss, displacement, or uncertainty.

In the true spirit of Freemasonry, let us extend our hands and hearts to offer our support wherever it is needed. While material possessions can be rebuilt, the emotional wounds caused by such events can linger. Let us be beacons of light for our community, providing comfort, compassion, and assistance as we can.

As Brothers of the Craft, let us remember that adversity only strengthens our bonds. Let us also use this moment to reflect on the fragility of life and the importance of being prepared, not just physically, but also in terms of the support systems we offer to one another.

I encourage you to reach out to our Brothers in Maui to express your condolences, offer assistance, or simply let them know that they are not alone in this challenging time. Our Lodge has always been a place of solace and unity, and now more than ever, we have the opportunity to exemplify those principles. Assistance may be provided through Masonic Charities of Hawaii, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, by contacting Very Worshipful Brothers David Gomes, davidgomes@hawaii.rr.com, or Anthony Escasa, anthony.j.escasa@gmail.com.

At this time, I haven't seen any updates concerning specific Masonic lodges or Masons in the devastated areas, although I do have a life-long friend there who was evacuated from her home ahead of the approaching fires. She hasn't been permitted to return just to inspect damage. But tragically, she has been told that looters have already been at work.

The Grand Lodge of Hawaii website does have a link to make donations, but at the time of this writing, the popup window with its 'donate' button doesn't seem to connect to anything — keep re-checking the site, as it has been reported to their webmaster. The official Masonic Charities of Hawaii GoFundMe page is at:


In addition, an Amazon Wish List is evolving, if you prefer to donate supplies to relief efforts:

Masonic Charities of Hawaii is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Also at this time, there has been no announcement of an official Masonic Service Association Disaster Appeal. This post will be updated if that changes.


Latest news is that the death toll has risen to over 100 people, with hundreds still missing. Estimates are that more than 2,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed by the fires last week that were stoked by a combination of the annual summer drought and 80+ mph winds from Hurricane Dora, which passed 500 miles south of the islands. Thousands of people from the western side of Maui remain displaced, and rebuilding will take years to accomplish.

I have not seen specific information about Masons and lodges in the affected areas: please forward any information available to me at hodapp@aol.com

The Masonic Service Association of North America officially opened a Disaster Relief Appeal today on behalf of the Grand Lodge of Hawaii. Click below for that information and to donate through MSA: