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


Monday, July 22, 2024

Kansas Masonic Con This Weekend - July 26-28

by Christopher Hodapp

There's still time to sign up and attend the Kansas Masonic Con this coming weekend, Friday - Sunday, July 26-28, 2024, at Rosedale Lodge 333 in Mission, Kansas (near Kansas City).

Speakers will include:
  • Chad Thomas – “Freemasonry: Form vs Function”
  • Jon Ruark – “Stoic Resilience in an Age of Uncertainty”
  • Nicholas Laine – “The Creation of Enlighteners in Lodge”
  • James R. Morgan III – “The Lost Empire: Black Freemasonry in the Old West”
  • Duane Marshall – “The Journey of a Mason”
  • Chad Kopenski – “The Power of Masonic Myth”
  • Lincoln Wilson – “How Much Masonry Do You Want?
Rosedale Lodge 333, Mission, Kansas

There will be a Friday evening 'meet and greet' with the speakers, with the bulk of the program on Saturday, followed by a masquerade festive board Saturday night, and wrapping up with an outing on Sunday. Tickets can be had for each event individually, an all program pass, and for virtual attendees who wish to watch online. 

Sunday, July 14, 2024

New Book by Chris Ruli: 'Brother Lafayette' Available for Presale

by Christopher Hodapp

It's Bastille Da today, so I think it's appropriate to post this story. Macoy Publishing has announced the pre-sale of Brother Christopher Ruli's newest book, Brother Lafayette: the Marquis de Lafayette's Masonic Travels in America 1824-25 (Macoy, 2024, $24.95) now through September 24th, when it's expected to begin shipping. 

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Major General Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette’s triumphant goodwill tour of America between 1824-25. Fewer and fewer Americans these days have been taught about Major General Lafayette and his role in the American Revolution, and even fewer know of just how dedicated he was to the cause of liberty, before he arrived in America, and long after he returned home to France where he was swept up in its own revolution. But in addition to his long career as a military figure, statesman, revolutionary, protector, political prisoner, and so much more, he was also a Freemason.

In 1824, Lafayette visited America at the invitation of President James Monroe, and began traveling the country. The American Revolution’s 50th anniversary was approaching, and Lafayette was the last of George Washington's major generals who was still alive. During his whirlwind goodwill tour, he spoke in many places, including several Masonic lodges. He was treated with much the same sort of awe and adoration that had been reserved for George Washington himself, which never ceased to astonish him. Everywhere Lafayette went, adoring crowds followed him through the streets. Balls, dinners, tours, concerts, parades, and public honors of every kind were arranged to honor him, and what started out to be a three-month trip lasted over a year. It was during that visit that the park north of the White House was renamed to honor him. Literally hundreds of other parks, towns, cities, and counties throughout the United States are named after him. And there were more than a few Masonic lodges chartered in his name.

Lafayette's famed American tour took him to all 24 of the United States at that time – 6,000 miles in all – and in the decades following his visit, it seemed as though every Masonic lodge in the country wanted to claim their members had some kind of meaningful contact with the legendary general and Freemason.

Ironically, despite the high-profile visitations and associations with Freemasons while he was here, just a year later, William Morgan would disappear in Western New York, allegedly murdered by Brother Masons, and the most vehement period of American anti-Masonic persecution would erupt throughout the country.

Now, author and Washington DC Mason Christopher Ruli has done a deep dive into the itineraries, letters, diaries, minute books, and press reports of the time to create a full and definitive account of Brother Lafayette’s Masonic contacts and travels throughout his famed trip. The result is 
Brother Lafayette: the Marquis de Lafayette's Masonic Travels in America 1824-25a detailed, fascinating, and eminently absorbing travelogue with a uniquely Masonic focus. 

Similar in nature to Chris' previous Masonic history of the Presidential Mansion in Washington, DC, (The White House & the Freemasons, Macoy, 2023, $29.95-39.95) Chris has meticulously tracked down every known instance of Lafayette visiting Masonic lodges, grand lodges, and individual Freemasons. Through diaries, newspaper accounts, even lodge minute books, he has provided the best documented evidence of Lafayette's interactions with Masons all along the route. And they were considerable in number!

You'll find letters, transcripts of speeches, tributes, toasts, diplomas, songs written for the occasion, descriptions of medals and other gifts given to Lafayette. He was granted honorary memberships in lodges and grand lodges. When the weather turned cold in November 1824, he wintered at Alexandria, Virginia's famed Gadsby's Tavern. In January of 1925, halfway through the trip, he wrote to his friend Thomas Jefferson, "I contemplate to set out for the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, New Orleans, and the western states, upwards of 5,000 miles to be performed in 99 days with only 13 days rest...and 300 miles through a sort of wilderness. We will do the best we can." 

He was 69 years old, and the trip would have been grueling for men half his age.

(Typically for my own state of Indiana, which had only been granted statehood less than 10 years before, our legislature, our governor, and our grand lodge made no effort to issue Lafayette an invitation, and the only reason he set shore here was when his steamboat ran aground—the 19thy century version of only stopping at an Indiana truck stop on the way someplace else.)

Macoy's is offering the book for pre-sale now for $24.94, and delivery is expected in September. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.

Just as an added aside, the 
American Friends of Lafayette have been preparing for celebrating the bicentennial of Lafayette's farewell tour, erecting historical markers, arranging for events all along the 6,000-mile route of his original trip. Festivities will begin August 16, 2024 in New York City and wind up at Mount Vernon in September 2025. If you live or belong to a lodge in an area that Lafayette actually visited, you should consider erecting a permanent historical marker describing the visit. Or if your city or town is already doing so this year, be sure your lodge contacts the local group arranging for the marker and ask if your lodge or grand lodge can take part in the dedication and other festivities.

If you don't know much about Lafayette or can't fathom why he was so adored by Americans at the time, read the excerpt below adapted from my 2005 book, Solomon's Builders:

Monday, July 08, 2024

Partnership of Grand Lodges Purchase Grand View Systems

ByChristopher Hodapp

Grand View Systems, creators of one of the most popular membership management systems designed especially for Masonic organizations, has just been acquired by a joint partnership of grand lodges in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, California, and North Carolina.

From the press release:

Dear Valued Grand View Users,

We’re thrilled to announce that Grand View, your trusted membership management software system, has been purchased by a partnership of four Grand Lodges: the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, Grand Lodge of North Carolina, Grand Lodge of California, and Grand Lodge of Minnesota. This acquisition marks a significant milestone in the Grand View journey, and we are excited about the future prospects it brings.

Our vision for Grand View is that it’s owned by the fraternity, ensuring that its mission aligns closely with the values and needs of Masonic organizations. We are delighted to inform you that Brother Jeff Clarke will continue to lead Grand View, and all of its dedicated staff will remain in place, ensuring continuity and stability for our users. Jeff and his team will continue to be your main point of contact.

As we look to the future, Grand View’s immediate goals are to assess and enhance its capabilities to onboard new Masonic organizations seamlessly while continuing to provide robust support to its existing users. Your satisfaction and success are our and Grand View’s top priorities, and we and the Grand View team are committed to making Grand View an even more powerful tool for your membership management needs.

We are also eagerly looking forward to the upcoming Users Conference, where Jeff will share more detailed plans and ideas. This will be a fantastic opportunity to hear directly from you about how we can all work together most effectively moving forward. Additionally, we’ll discuss how other Grand Lodges and Masonic organizations can join the ownership group in the future, expanding our collaborative efforts.

Thank you for your continued trust and support in Grand View. We are excited about this new chapter and are confident that under its new ownership, Grand View will achieve great things.


Friday, July 05, 2024

Missouri's 2024 Truman Lecture Features Oklahoma's Robert G. Davis, PGM in September

by Christopher Hodapp

Each year, the Missouri Lodge of Research hosts an important speaker for their Fall Truman Breakfast, named for PGM Harry S Truman of Missouri, who was instrumental in founding this educational special purpose lodge almost a century ago.

This year's speaker will be Oklahoma Past Grand Master, RW Robert G. Davis.

Robert G. Davis is a Past Master of three Masonic lodges in Oklahoma, a 33° Mason and recipient of the Grand Cross. He is a Past Grand High Priest of Royal Arch Masons, Past Grand Master of Cryptic Masons, Past Grand Commander of the Knights Templar in Oklahoma, and Past Sovereign Grand Master of the Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States. He served the Craft as Grand Master of the Oklahoma Grand Lodge, AF&AM in 2021. He currently serves as a Board member of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia.

He is the author of four books, including: The Mason’s Words, outlining the history and evolution of the American Masonic ritual; Understanding Manhood in America, focusing on the fraternal quest for the ideals of masculinity; The Journey of the Elu to Enlightenment, providing a contemporary interpretation of the degrees of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite; and In Search of Light, a course of hieroglyphic and symbolic moral instruction for the Symbolic Lodge.

The Fall Breakfast takes place during the annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Missouri AF&AM, which moves around to a different part of the state every year. This event will take place September 17, 2024 at the Convention Center in St. Charles, Missouri. (St. Charles is on the far northwest side of St. Louis.) 

It's a 7:00AM breakfast before their grand lodge meets, so late risers need to adjust accordingly.

Important note: You MUST register and pay for tickets for the Fall 2024 Truman Series Lecture in advance, no later than July 31st, if you want to attend this event. 

Male and Female Grand Lodges Counter Misinformation With New 'Council for Freemasonry in England and Wales'

by Christopher Hodapp

If you've been reading Freemasonry Today, the official magazine of the United Grand Lodge of England, over the last couple of years, you've doubtless noticed an increasing number of articles highlighting female Freemasonry and reporting on cooperative actions between the male-only UGLE, female Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons (HFAF), and the the Order of Women Freemasons (OWF). Back when the UGLE celebrated its 300th anniversary of the founding of the first grand lodge in 2018, the female grand masters from both the OWF and the HFAF were invited to the festivities. In fact, for quite some time, UGLE has stated that they consider both organizations to be in all ways "regular" Freemasons, apart from admitting women as members. In recent years, they have cooperated in joint public outreach programs, such as UGLE's Universities Scheme, which brings Freemasonry's message and opportunities to university campuses and encourages students to join a nearby Masonic lodge.

A couple of weeks ago, the UGLE, the OWF and the HFAF announced their most public cooperative partnership yet: the formation of a new Council for Freemasonry in England and Wales, a joint commission made up of representatives of the three English grand lodges specifically created to present a united voice for Freemasonry in the United Kingdom.

In a statement released online, the Council explained its formation and purpose:
This new Council aims to enhance further existing and longstanding collaboration and promote the fundamental principles of Freemasonry, including merit, tolerance, diversity, and inclusion, between the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the Order of Women Freemasons (OWF), and the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons (HFAF).

Even in 2024 Freemasonry continues to face various unfounded criticisms and inaccurate misconceptions, often stemming from deep-rooted prejudices, or preconceived falsehoods. Contrary to the erroneous claim that Freemasonry is exclusively male, women’s Freemasonry has been an integral part of Freemasonry in the UK for over a century. While Freemasonry is practised in single-sex Lodges, this is no different from many other activities, including most sports as well as many other community groups.

The establishment of the Council for Freemasonry will formally establish an overarching forum for collaboration. In addition, the Council will bring together the community service ambitions of all three bodies, coordinate communication and engagement with other organisations, drive the membership growth ambitions, particularly for women Freemasons, and allocate resources and facilities for the general benefit of both male and female Freemasonry.

The Council will include the heads of each Grand Lodge, and each Grand Lodge will provide the President for a twelve-month period, chairing Council meetings in strict rotation. The President for the first two years will come from the OWF and HFAF, with UGLE covering the third year.

The formation of the Council for Freemasonry in England and Wales marks a pivotal step towards enhancing cooperation, addressing misconceptions, and promoting the values of Freemasonry. This historic initiative reaffirms Freemasonry’s commitment to integrity, friendship, respect and service, while keeping community service and charitable giving at the absolute forefront of this historic organisation.
Almost immediately, the new Council got a chance to make its first big public noise. It all started over the news of a longtime male-only institution. 

In May, London's venerable Garrick Club (see these photos from their website) voted to admit women to full membership after almost two centuries of being exclusively for men. I guess Old Blighty is now saved after this brave and bold move. 

You'd have thought the good news just came in from Waterloo. It was the biggest victory since Old Boney got sent packing. Naturally, the UK press could scarcely contain itself.

The Garrick was originally founded in 1831 as a gentleman's club for actors, theatrical directors, and playwrights, along with deep-pocketed patrons of the arts—as its bylaws stated, for those of "gentlemanly accomplishment and scholarship." The club is named for David Garrick, considered to be the greatest actor of all time, or at least in the 18th century when he lived. Fans of Winnie the Pooh stories may have heard of the Garrick; upon his death, author A.A. Milne left the rights and royalties from the Pooh stories to the club in perpetuity. 

As a big, odious clot of bellyachers, the press in the UK despises same-sex clubs of men (Not clubs of women, of course. Same-sex clubs for men are branded as secret enclaves of deal-making, back-patting, and good-ol-toffey-nosed job networking, while same-sex clubs for women are to be celebrated as 'bold, brave, groundbreaking, and long-overdue.') So, whaddya think the UK press did after beating their rheumatic chests in victory over toppling another venerable bastion of male-only institutions? Of course, they took it as an opportunity to once again swipe at the Freemasons for not following suit and 'getting on the right side of history.' 

Private English mens' clubs were all the rage in the 19th century, and nobody in their right minds wanted to eat or socialize with actors anyhow back in the 1830s, so it made sense for them to establish a club of their own. The clubs flourished throughout the 20th century, as any faithful reader of P.G. Wodehouse novels* can attest, but private anythings for men have come under attack off and on for the last 50 years or so throughout Western society, especially in Britain. The Garrick still has plenty of actors and rock stars on its membership rolls, but it's also got its share of the upper icing-covered layer of the society cheesecake these days: not just actors, but lawyers, judges, high-profile businessmen, government ministers and policy advisors, even King Charles III himself. An attempt was made by some members back in 2010 to admit females as full members, but the existing membership failed to make the change at that time. A handful of members resigned in protest over the issue, making a big public show of it on their way out the door, but the Garrick held fast for another 14 years.

Earlier this year, the Guardian decided to stir the pot again and publicly published a list of the current Garrick members in an effort to force another vote on admitting women. As has been done in the past, the goal was to paint male membership in private clubs as a shameful, despicable fetish that shouldn't be permitted in a progressive society. Consequently, the club's reputation took a public beating over it, with the usual claims that these big-deal, establishment male movers and shakers in important parts of government and other institutions meet in their private clubs to make deals, craft legislation, scratch each others' needy backs, hire each other, and otherwise screw over whatever the English version is of smelly Walmart people and the Deplorables. And, by Zeus' thunder! the laydeez deserved to join their ranks so they could do it too, dammit! 

So, to stab into the soft underbelly of this story, the Guardian's exposure of the members fulfilled its purpose: a bare majority of 51% of the members of the Garrick finally voted in May to open the doors to the ladies, and immediately named Dame Judy Densch and Sian Phillips as full members. 

I suppose the Empire is saved now.

So what does this have to do with Freemasonry?

After the story broke reporting the Garrick's admission of women, the longtime journalist and English peer Baroness Patience Wheatcroft (not a made-up name), posted a column on the New European site entitled, Forget About the Garrick, What About the Freemasons? She seemed to have no problem with the Garrick excluding women because it's just an old geezer home for unemployed, has-been actors, and she even spent a few paragraphs declaring such clubs to be just fine and harmless because they're really unimportant to powerful people:
Put aside the fact that the rules ban business talk, a stricture that admittedly might be hard to implement, the [Garrick's] ornate Covent Garden building is not the beating heart of Britain. It is a haven for elderly thespians and those who wish to rub shoulders with them. Yes, that includes a gaggle of Conservative politicians but Michael Gove would probably be more interested in collecting the autograph of Brian Cox or Hugh Bonneville than trying to discuss matters of state. Jacob Rees-Mogg, should he ever deign to sit at the communal long table, would surely be too occupied playing to the crowd to say anything of import. . .

The Cabinet Secretary and the head of MI6 have stressful jobs and, like Pooh, probably enjoy a bit of relaxation and some favourite food. As they, along with a gaggle of judges, rushed for the club exit in the face of the Guardian campaign, they weren’t trying to ensure that women have equal access to power, merely that their own careers would not be blighted by allegations of unfair discrimination. Their willingness to drop their Garrick membership shows how little they value it – these people know where power really resides nowadays: in Silicon Valley, the trading desks of Goldman Sachs, and the offices of Blackrock.

However, the Baroness continues, as for those flaming Masons:
And right next door to the place where the Garrick’s historic vote was taken early this month – the Connaught Rooms – is the imposing Freemasons’ Hall. That’s home to the United Grand Lodge of England, an organisation which far pre-dates the Garrick and which remains firmly closed to women.

If the Guardian really wanted to pursue the principle of equality, then the mysterious power and influence of Freemasonry could be worth its attention. This international movement lists its principles as “Integrity, Friendship, Respect and Service”, all qualities that might be thought to have appeal to those of every gender and none. Undoubtedly, the movement does charitable works but there are some who suspect that its charity most decidedly begins at home.

Elaborating on its aim of fostering friendship, the Grand Lodge literature says: “All members share a sense of togetherness that strengthens their ability to succeed and grow”. Would it be at all surprising if that success at work was given a helpful nudge, perhaps a promotion, by a fellow mason in the same company?
And, yes, lest you think it was somehow left out of the piece, farther down in her editorial, the baroness managed to work in the universal English press anti-Masonic mark of snark: a reference to 'rolled-up trouser legs' (although, the term 'dodgy handshakes' was somehow left out).

Funny. This 'New European' sounds remarkably like the 'Old European' to my tin ear...

But this time, when the press began to crank out "the Garrick now admits wimmin, so wut in God's holy teeth is wrong with those bloody Masons?" columns, instead of spreading out and laying prostrate for another public flaying by the rent-seeking, activist presstitutes pounding on their tripe-writers, the brand new Council for Freemasonry immediately answered

United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), The Order of Women Freemasons (OWF) and the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons (Freemasonry for Women) are united in our surprise and unease at an article published in The New European by Patience Wheatcroft. The article contains a number of significant inaccuracies and we feel obliged to respond in order to provide Baroness Wheatcroft, and her readers, with an accurate representation of the truth.

Beginning with the numerous claims about Freemasonry’s entry requirements, we are delighted that the author has visited the UGLE website and reflected on the organisation’s core values of Integrity, Friendship, Respect and Service. While she was there, it is a shame, however, that Baroness Wheatcroft did not manage to locate the section of our website dedicated to Women Freemasons, who have been proudly meeting in this country for over 100 years. Indeed, even more simply, a cursory Google search would have revealed the websites of the two female Grand Lodges that meet in the United Kingdom, as well as their numerous social media channels. The links for all three of our websites can be found in the footer of this statement and we encourage you to peruse them at your leisure.

Secondly, on the points raised about our charitable commitments, we are proud of the impact that we, as Freemasons, have within the community. We are pleased that in 2020, during the dark and uncertain early stages of the pandemic, Freemasons contributed over £51.1 million to deserving causes. This includes not only financial contributions but also the dedication of over 18.5 million hours annually to volunteer work. In 2021, as the societal impacts of the pandemic continued to take hold, UGLE allocated over £4.7 million through specific relief programs, focusing on community support, food aid, domestic abuse, homelessness, and mental health.

Thirdly, in relation to the points made about members, we celebrate the diversity of our membership. Freemasons have been part of a unique and enduring social organisation for over 300 years, with no political or religious affiliations. Our diverse memberships include individuals of various ages, races, religions, cultures, and backgrounds. This is something that we wholeheartedly celebrate.

In reference to Baroness Wheatcroft’s remarks about customs within Freemasonry, we are surprised that such timeless traditions appear unfamiliar to a sitting Member of the House of Lords, where ancient practices linking the existing body to its predecessors are rightly celebrated. In the same way, our traditions come from historical links to medieval stonemasons and more information can be found about this on our websites and social media channels.

Finally, we are proud to be Freemasons. Articles such as the one referenced above only serve to spread misinformation and misconceptions and we are determined to not only stand up for our members, those of all genders and those of none, but to present, once and for all, the truth about Freemasonry.

Our doors remain firmly open.

United Grand Lodge of England, Order of Women Freemasons & the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons (Freemasonry for Women)
One of the primary jobs of the new Council for Freemasonry is to counter public misinformation and press attacks against the fraternity by spreading the message that English Freemasonry is NOT just for men; that male and female Masonic organizations coexist, and are all alive and well and open for membership; and that none of these three grand lodges in Britain have any desire, intention, or reason for changing their practices or ideology of being a sanctuary from the outside world for their particular members, male or female.

So, if Baroness Wheatcroft finds herself somehow lacking in enough titles, memberships and benefits of her lofty station in life, she's certainly free to apply to the OWF or HFAF. After all, she's got as much chance of getting in as anyone else, provided she can pass an investigation and ball-and-cube vote. . .

*Just as an aside for Wodehouse fans, not only was P.G. himself a member of the Garrick (which doubtless provided him with endless fodder for his fictional Drones Club stories), but so are both actors Stephen Frye and Hugh Laurie, who played Jeeves & Wooster in what are the very best filmed versions of those stories ever made. 

Small world. Wouldn't want to paint it...

Monday, July 01, 2024

"It's A Big Secret. Everybody Knows About It."

by Christopher Hodapp

Brother Mike Comfort posted a link on Facebook last week to a 2017 Super Bowl ad I'd completely forgotten about, pimping for - of all things - Mexican-grown avocados. Us sooper-secret 96nd degree Supreme Sovereign Grand Master Templar High Priest Freemasons control those, too. 

That's right.  Without you even knowing, we lurk everywhere.

Even in your party dip.