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


Thursday, April 18, 2024

Man Accused of Vandalising and Setting Fire To Chattanooga Masonic Hall Considers Plea Deal

Kadum Harwood's mugshot from Hamilton County (TN) Sheriff's Dept.

by Christopher Hodapp

Kadum Harwood (age 29) was arrested last September in connection with vandalism and an arson attack on a Masonic Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Harwood has been federally charged with arson, traveling in interstate commerce to carry on arson, and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, the indictment shows. 

According to a story in Wednesday's Chattanooga Times Free Press, Federal prosecutors have apparently offered a plea deal to Harwood. Details haven't been disclosed as yet, but his public defender, J. Damon Burk, filed an unopposed motion Tuesday to continue the case shortly before the federal courts closed. 

In an earlier hearing, he pleaded 'not guilty' to all counts.

Harwood's trial was scheduled to begin May 7th at the Joel W. Solomon Federal Building and Courthouse, but Burk has requested the judge grant a 30-day extension so he and his client can more fully study the details.

The affidavit filed at the time of Harwood's arrest provides a few more details in the case (from the WZTV website on September 5th):

The affidavit says the Chattanooga Fire Department responded to a fire alarm at the Chattanooga Masonic Center around 2 a.m. on September 4th.
When crews arrived, the affidavit says they noticed forced entry at the front door as well as 2 separate fires on the property.

The affidavit says one fire was in the shrubs to the left of the front door and the other was in the cafeteria where a podium was set ablaze.

This was all caught on surveillance video, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit says the surveillance footage also shows Harwood using a sledge hammer to vandalize several sections on the Masonic Center.

Harwood 'recklessly' discharged a large caliber firearm into the air before leaving, the affidavit says.

The footage shows a blue Toyota SUV at the center, which the affidavit says was know [sic] by police to be driven by Kadum Harwood based on his social media posts.

The affidavit says officers also found social media posts from Harwood of him threatening to "burn the Free Masons building downtown."

For several months before, he had written Facebook posts threatening to burn down local businesses, a fire station, and a Masonic hall. The night of the attack, when police and firefighters arrived at the scene to respond to an alarm, several walls, windows and interior decorations and furnishings had been smashed with a sledgehammer. There were two small fires smouldering, one inside and the other outside. 

Harwood fled the scene and crossed the border into Georgia to evade police. Local police there located him in a hotel near the border, and arrested him.

The Masonic Center is shared by Temple Lodge 430, Chattanooga Lodge 199, John Bailey Nicklin Chapter RAM 49, and Lookout Commandery 14.

Previous related stories

September 4, 2023: Tennessee: Another Masonic Hall Vandalized

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Indiana University Annual Giving Day Raising Money For the Center For Fraternal Collections & Research

by Christopher Hodapp

Three years ago, Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana opened the new Center for Fraternal Collections & Research (CFCR), headed up by Dr. Heather Calloway. The mission of the CFCR is to collect, preserve, and protect objects and ephemera of fraternal and religious groups for study and research in a permanent and accessible collection.

Today, April 17th is #IUDay at Indiana University, and the Center is attempting to raise $10,000.

During the "Golden Age of Fraternalism" from the end of the American Civil War until the Great Depression in 1929, over a thousand different fraternal, ritual-based or "secret societies" formed in the U.S. For too long, American fraternalism wasn't considered to be important enough for respectable historians to investigate. Yet the fraternal movement with its so-called "secret societies" was critical to the building and strengthening of American communities, and every bit as important as churches, political clubs and parties, social activist groups, and other local institutions. Masons, Elks, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Knights of Columbus, Ancient Order of Hibernians, Red Men, Woodmen - these were the most widely known. But there were hundreds and hundreds more.

"Indiana University's CFCR works to collect, preserve, and make accessible historical and cultural materials related to fraternal organizations and their membership, with an emphasis on organizations that are extinct or without stable historical repositories. They promote research into the history of fraternal organizations in service of the university’s teaching, research, and service mission."

                CFCR Board Menber Seth Anthony

These societies epitomized a commitment to community and personal advancement. So many of these once-vibrant fraternities have now slipped into obscurity, putting their rich legacies in jeopardy. But as these organizations merge or shutter their doors, precious records and artifacts face the threat of permanent loss. What becomes of their enduring legacy when these groups fade away?

 The Center for Fraternal Collections & Research provides three types of scholarly support to IU students and faculty, non-IU scholars, and the public:
  • Collecting and stewarding rare fraternal organization materials donated to Indiana University for the sake of scholarly research. 
  • Creating and supporting research related to fraternal studies at the student and faculty scholarly levels.
  • Disseminating research and information related to fraternal studies via public events, academic symposia, exhibitions, media presentations, and publications.

Items donated to the CFCR are unique or rare due to their content, subject, and other special importance; therefore, they're considered special collections. Unfortunately, materials that are not protected with preventative measures will eventually deteriorate. It is their goal to save this history.

Besides camaraderie, the groups often provided insurance benefits, mutual aid, funeral funds and more. These groups weren't just for white, middle-class men or college students – there were societies that supported immigrant and ethnic communities, religious denominations, women, children, even certain professions or occupations, such as traveling salesmen (National Travelers) or logging workers (Concatenated Order of Hoo Hoo).

The CFCR is located in the IU Collections, Teaching, Research and Exhibition Center, located in the historic McCalla building on the IU Bloomington campus. Following a $6 million renovation of this one-time elementary school building, the Center now provides a safe, climate controlled facility for collections, plus seven display galleries, meeting areas, and a state-of-the-art media digitization and preservation department, all under one roof. 
Last year, the Center played host to the Scottish Rite Research Society's Fall presentation of papers.

Current generations have little or no understanding of the very existence and importance of these organizations, and too many of their publications, artwork, artifacts and jewelry disappear into the garbage or get melted down for their precious metals. The CFCR is now a welcome and secure repository for the quickly vanishing ephemera of American fraternal history.

So if you're interested in helping to support this new center, CLICK HERE to donate for #IUDay.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Meet, Act & Part Podcast Interviews Indiana PGM Roger S. VanGorden

by Christopher Hodapp

The brethren from the Meet, Act & Part Podcast featured a long chat with Indiana Past Grand Master Roger S. VanGorden several weeks ago (Episode 62: Roger Van Gorden). Roger was my first contact with Indiana Freemasonry (back in 1999, during the Pleistocene Epoch when dinosaurs ruled the Earth), but his involvement with the fraternity goes back to his time as a DeMolay. 

If you don't know Roger (or know OF him), he's currently the Active member of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite NMJ for Indiana, the Magus for the Indiana College of the SRICF, and most important for this particular discussion, president of the Masonic Renewal Committee of the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons In North America.

Never heard of the MRC? Well, that's partially something Roger and the Committee are trying to change, to make sure grand officers, lodge leaders, and rank and file Masons DO know who and what they are, and how they are providing programs and information to raise awareness of the fraternity. 

Their Masonic Education Resources page alone is well worth taking the time to go through, as it is a collection of programs, lessons, and other practical information collected from all over the Masonic world. Year after year, grand lodges come up with new programs, oftentimes reinventing the wheel over and over, instead of availing themselves of resources that already exist.

Roger also delves into recent research regarding demographic trends, generational differences, and how they affect Freemasons, in particular. Roger turned me on to Robert Putnam's seminal work, Bowling Alone, more than 20 years ago, and he sees great hope in Putnam's most recent studies, The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again.

Give the show a listen. (And BTW, Bill Hosler, get well soon.)

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Speaking at New York's Pelham Lodge 712 on City Island, April 16

by Christopher Hodapp

Next Tuesday night, April 16th, I'll be speaking at Pelham Lodge 712 on City Island in Bronx, New York. I had originally been scheduled to be here last September, but a decidedly UN-scheduled broken ankle rent everyone's best-laid plans in twain. My thanks go out to the brethren there for their kind understanding and for rescheduling this event.

For those who are so inclined, I should have plenty of books on hand.

Pelham Lodge is in the beautiful Bronx District of the Grand Lodge of New York, and located in the City Island Masonic Temple at 241 City Island Avenue. Dinner will be at 6:30pm, and lodge opens at 7:30pm. Master Masons only for the meeting itself. Please RSVP to Brothers Muñoz or Cuthbert at the numbers listed on the poster.

Tuesday, April 09, 2024


by Christopher Hodapp

Just in case you came to this site wondering if all of us "High-Ranking 33rd Degree Knight Templar Supreme Pontiff Freemasons" got safely transported off the Earth by our reptilian allies during Monday's total solar eclipse, the answer is no. I haven't checked in with members of the Royal family in England yet, but at least stateside, all of us 33rds here somehow managed to survive the ordeal. I realize that if you look at my garage and see the piles of home repair and building supplies, boxes of odds and ends, lawn equipment, unused TVs and refrigerators, old furniture, aging paint cans and mismatched tools, you might think I had been raptured up just as I commenced work on a major remodeling project. But no.

When it comes to the recrudescent rounds of conspiracy theories involving world destruction and the purported involvement of the fraternity of Freemasonry, the eclipse brought out a whole cavalcade of loons, buffoons, kooks, crazies, moonbats, asshats, bedlamites, basket cases and the perennially paranoid, all eagerly panting for updates from the usual gang of infernal, yodeling blowholes who peddle these portentous pronouncements of puerile pish posh as deliberate clickbait. Usually for profit.

RW Cameron Bailey, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Washington (state) had a column on his substack site this week on this very topic. See I'll Send Your Orders In The Morning.

During times like these, I usually find myself whistling the tune of "I've Got My Tinfoil Hat On, Hip-Hip-Hip Hooray."

The trouble with “end o’ the world!” conspiracists is that, sooner or later, they have to be right just once, or their gulled followers might begin to suspect them of crackpottery. The world didn't end after Adam and Eve got their eviction notice for pissing off the Landlord, and it never has ever since that time. So the doomers and gloomies who trot out their 'The End Is Nigh!' sandwich board signs every couple of years just don’t seem to have a winning record.

No, I'm not going to link to any of the daffiest anti-Masonic claims online because I don't want them to benefit from any more undue attention than they have already received. But I did sort of wonder why the Masons, NASA, the entire national security apparatus, Starbucks and The Government™ planned to precisely launch some sort of non-specific "attack" on the citizenry under the cover of momentary darkness, during the few brief minutes of totality. Last I checked, I do believe that the world gets dark for at least 10 or more hours at a stretch, every single night, depending on where you live. Plus, the odds of those usual suspects pulling off some sort of cataclysmic event timed to precisely coincide with just a few minutes of darkness at any point along the shadow's path are astronomical. Neither The Government™ nor the Freemasons have never done anything on time in their lives.

As for me, I haven't had this much to not worry about since Comet Kohoutek, New Coke, the Y2K Virus, and the night I threw away my battered Mayan Calendar.

Nevertheless, I do have to say this linked website from the Butler Eagle newspaper in Pennsylvania provided what is now officially my favorite headline of this festive End Times occasion:

I'm here to blow up the Earth. It obstructs my view of Venus.

It seems the brethren of John E. Mair Masonic Lodge 729 in the Earth-bound borough of Mars, Pennsylvania hosted an eclipse viewing party. Because of the town's astronomical name, a pretty decent sized clot of eclipse watchers poured into the area just so they could say they watched the solar light show from their position on Mars. 

Teaming up with a pair of local businesses, the event included free pizza, soft drinks, Moon Pies (natch) and an ice cream truck. The person showing up with the best solar-themed shirt even won a telescope.