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


Wednesday, August 30, 2023

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.)

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