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

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Goose & Gridiron Lodge 1717 Established in Ohio

The Grand Lodge of Ohio held its annual communication this past week. A new special purpose lodge was just chartered there with a very unique mission and method among American lodges: Goose and Gridiron Lodge No. 1717.

From their website:

The Lodge is named after the Goose and Gridiron tavern in London where the United Grand Lodge of England was organized in 1717.
While the lodge will be a legally constituted Lodge of Master Masons working under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, it will proudly claim its heritage as a English Emulation Lodge with a special mission: to practice and share the customs and rituals that imbue the fraternal experience in England and the Commonwealth. With Goose and Gridiron Lodge No. 1717 Ohio Masons may experience English Emulation Ritual and custom without leaving the state.
In addition to its study of Emulation Ritual, the lodge seeks to capture and practice many of the foundational elements of English Lodges, such as festive boards, philosophical education, dress, programs and charities. By doing so, the Lodge will provide an environment that is distinguished and warm, social and philosophical, exclusive and inviting.
Goose and Gridiron Lodge No. 1717 will meet four times a year in dedicated lodge rooms within the state of Ohio unless authorized by special dispensation of the Grand Master.
To become a member of Goose and Gridiron Lodge No. 1717 a Brother must be a Master Mason, join as either a plural or dual member and must remain in good standing with his primary Lodge.

I understand that several Ohio Masons who are also members of UGLE's Internet Lodge 9659 helped to get this lodge started, with some especially passionate remarks on the floor from RW Caid McKinley, PDDGM. They were also encouraged by Grand Lodge officers who attended UGLE's 300th anniversary celebration in London last year.

By the way, congratulations are in order to MW Jess N. Raines, the new Grand Master of Ohio for 2018-19 (photo). And to outgoing Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Rick Schau for his outstanding year.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Once Upon A Time

G. K. Chesterton once said that "the world would never starve for wonders, but only for the want of wonder."

Once upon a time, there was this great and admired fraternity called the Freemasons. The Masons did incredible things, attracted the best and the brightest, proudly made a difference in society, and were the very pillars of their communities. 

Everybody knew it.

They also built magnificent Temples that stood the test of time which were the most splendid clubhouses anywhere. 

Take the Masonic Temple in the photo above. It was built at the height of the fraternal building boom in 1927, and there were hundreds of them all over the country that looked just as sturdy and impressive. In those heady days, the Freemasons had to compete with the Woodmen, the Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, the Knights of Columbus, and scores of others for the hearts and minds of fraternal-minded Americans. So they constructed these landmark Temples to rise above, to stand out from all others, and to make sure there was no one in their community who wasn't aware of just who and what the Freemasons were and where they were located, right in the heart of their town. It was built to impress, to inspire both non-Masons and Masons alike, and to make a statement that the Freemasons were the best of the best. It told the whole world that great things went on inside, and that great men believed in Masonry and being a Mason. It didn't look like any other sort of building. It was designed to make passersby stop and look. It was awe inspiring. It was stable. It was immovable. It wan't temporary. And it sure wasn't cheap.

Well, it's not 1927 anymore. There's no competition anymore. The Masons in this particular town have sold their Temple building recently to a Buddhist Temple. All of the usual reasons were cited: dwindling membership, rising maintenance costs, too much space to heat and cool. So the Masons got $425,000 for it, and I'm sure they felt like they were lucky not to have to pay anyone to take their white elephant off their hands. "Phew! That was lucky!" I'm sure someone said, as they cashed the check and fled.

Today when all of those imaginary "young men" who are supposed to "save the fraternity" come driving through their town looking for the lodge to join, where can the Masons be found now? Where have they moved to now? Where are the Freemasons of this town who used to be so prominent in their community? Are they in a proud new Temple that impresses, that equally proclaims their pride, their noble stature, their legendary heritage and the promise of an equally legendary future, just in a slightly smaller but equally magnificent edifice?

Not a chance.

They're right here. Inside of a generic office building that looks like a medical office. 

Or a real estate firm. 

Or an accountant. 

Or insurance company.

Or anything besides a Masonic Temple.

When the local paper interviewed one of the the Masons for a story on the sale of their old Temple, the most enthusiastic thing that he could find to say about their new location was that it has "better parking." 

But hey, I'll bet the elevator works flawlessly and the roof doesn't leak. What more can anyone want? Perhaps someone will even put their lodge names on the office directory in the lobby.

John Ruskin once famously wrote, “There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey.”

For a fraternal group that so mythologizes its origins among the most storied and legendary builders and architects of the Biblical and Medieval worlds, how can we as Masons now accept the most banal mediocrities as being suitable for our Temples, which are supposed to be our sanctuaries from the chaotic and mundane world around us?

The most grotesquely misunderstood and abused phrase in all of Freemasonry is "it is the internal, not the external qualities of a man which Masonry regards." That phrase has been used as an excuse to accept, condone and perpetuate mediocrity. It's used to excuse sloppy dress and personal appearance, to excuse bad public behavior, to excuse generic pole barn Temples, to excuse poor ritual performance, and worst of all, to justify the failure to provide a quality lodge experience to our own members. We don't have a new member problem, we have a retention problem. New members flee today almost as quickly as we make them Masons because they are disappointed by our lodges and the experience we gave them. And we have no business bringing another new man into this fraternity until our existing members love it, cherish it, believe in it, practice it, and make it the very best it can be. Those sort of Masons don't leave.

The good news is that the Buddhist Temple folks DO believe in the value of their former home of the Freemasons. They recognize it's still an important landmark in their town, and they are treating it accordingly. They are repairing it, cleaning it, heating and cooling it, and are happy and proud to be its new owners. So at least it won't be razed and scraped from the face of the Earth as so many others have been. And will continue to be, as temple after temple shambles down this same, dreary, future path. 

It's hard to find the resources and strength and resolve to keep these irreplaceable places, to think creatively, and to involve the community, so we all don't lose them forever. Because one thing is certain: we Freemasons sure won't replace them with anything better these days. 

Not by a long shot.

Tomorrow, people will drive past this still impressive and beautiful Temple with its new owners. Someone will undoubtedly ask "What was that place, anyway?" 

And someone else will undoubtedly answer, "Once upon a time, there was this great and admired fraternity called the Freemasons...." 

Frontier Masonic Advertising

The annual Feast of the Hunter’s Moon event in West Lafayette, Indiana is one of the largest 18th century festivals in the country. It recreates the period between 1717-1791 around the French Fort Ouiatenon and its trading post along the banks of the Wabash River.  The first European settlement in Indiana, Fort Ouiatenon was the crossroads for numerous peoples and cultures that built our state and the nation.  

Thousands of skilled interpreters, Native Americans, plus French, English and other colonial and military reenactors, musicians, and artisans all converge here each year to share the music, food, cultures, and crafts of the past.  For fifty-one years, tens of thousands people come from across the country and around the world to take part. 

As a regular part of this event, Dayton Lodge 103 and their volunteers annually offer authentic rabbit stew to the crowd at its tent site adjacent to the Fort’s blockhouse.  

Their cook fire area features an enormous, frontier-appropriate square and compass made from tree branches that proudly proclaims their Masonic heritage to the thousands of visitors. 

This year’s Feast was October 6th and 7th.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Freemasons For Dummies: Customized Editions from Wiley Publishing

For the last dozen years, Freemasons For Dummies has remained the world's best-selling introductory guidebook to the Masonic fraternity. Wiley Publishing has a unique program that may be of interest to your Grand Lodge. They are able to print a special edition of Freemasons For Dummies with your Grand Lodge information in it, featuring a customized cover, along with custom information on the inside covers. This makes the perfect welcome gift for new members.

In fact, in 2011 the Grand Lodge of New Mexico and their Lodge of Research created their own customized edition of the book that was given to all of their Entered Apprentices.

What this means is that your Grand Lodge or research lodge can have its own special edition of the book for your members, provided you are able to order in sufficient quantities. Your official seal or other artwork specific to your Grand Lodge could be featured on the outside, and a message from the Grand Master, Grand Lodge Education Committee, Lodge of Research, or other official group could be printed on the inside covers. The book is also a  popular one for non-Masons, and your members could be encouraged to pass it to friends or family who might have an interest in the fraternity—the cover could include the Grand Lodge contact information, internet address, phone numbers, etc. Of course, it's also popular as a gift given by many lodges to new Masons. The inside cover might include a custom plate in which to inscribe the members’ name and lodge, and degree dates. 

Both Wiley and I are willing to work with you on design, artwork and content. There is one caveat: No changes can be made to the text of the book itself, so if there is something in the book's current text that is NOT correct or applicable for your jurisdiction, that part can’t be changed. Only the inside and outside covers can be altered.

The retail price of Freemasons For Dummies is $19.99, but you can save between 45%-50% off the cover price, depending on the quantity being printed. The minimum order for a custom version is 1,000 books ($11 per copy or 45% off), with an additional price break at 2,000 copies ($10 per copy, 50% off).

If you have any interest in this program, please do not hesitate to contact me directly, or Molly Daugherty, director of Custom Solutions and Brand Licensing for Wiley Publishing in Indianapolis at 317-572-3465, or at Mdaugher@wiley.com

Just as an aside, it's not widely known that the headquarters of the For Dummies series is located here in my home town of Indianapolis on the north side, not far from my home. AND the headquarters for the competing "orange book," the Complete Idiot's Guides, is ALSO right here in Indianapolis. Which means that we are ground zero for Dummies and Idiots...

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Edward Henry Fowler, Jr. Passes Away

Edward Henry Fowler, Jr
Word has come that our esteemed Brother Edward Henry Fowler, Jr. passed away Friday night at the age of 86. Among his many Masonic achievements throughout his life, Ed was a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania (1992-3), and Past Grand Master General of Knights of the York Rite Cross of Honor.

He is perhaps best known as the long-serving immediate Past Provincial Grand Master of the Royal Order of Scotland, a position that he held from 1997 until 2014.

Born in 1932, his Masonic career began in Avalon Lodge No. 657 in Bellevue, Pennsylvania six and a half decades ago at the age of 21, in 1953. 

Ed was considered to be one of the most influential Masons in the U.S., especially in the realm of the numerous York Rite-related invitational bodies like Knight Masons and the Allied Masonic Degrees. If you ever attended 'Masonic Week' in the Washington D.C. area over the years, you undoubtedly ran into this fine gentleman and Brother. His longstanding dedication to the fraternity was unsurpassed.

Appropriately, it was Ed Fowler as the Grand Master of Pennsylvania who dedicated the famous 'Friend To Friend' sculpture at Gettysburg in 1993.

Family and friends will receive visitors on Friday, October 5 from 5 to 7 PM at Ferguson funeral home, 700 Broad Ave., Belle Vernon, PA. Masonic services will be held at 10 AM on Saturday, October 6 at Ferguson funeral home.

Memorial contributions should be sent to the “Edward and Lois Fowler Charitable Trust” c/o Matthew D Dupee, PO Box 1266, Aiken, SC 29802.

His column is broken, and his Brethren mourn.

Requiescat in pace.

(NOTE: This post will be updated when his obituary is posted.)

Photo: John Bridegroom

UPDATE 10/2/2018:

Ed Fowler's obituary complete with his Masonic history has been posted on the funeral home's website:

Edward H. Fowler, Jr., 86, of Belle Vernon, passed away Friday, September 28, 2018 in Jefferson Regional Medical Center. A son of the late Edward H. and Lauretta Huy Fowler, he was born in Venice, California on June 28, 1932. Formerly of Belleview, Ed, along with his late wife, Lois, had resided in Belle Vernon for four decades, and, for the past year, was a resident of the Masonic Home in Sewickley. He served in the United States Navy, having served two years on board the USS Dennis J Buckley DDR 808. He retired in 1991 from Alcoa as the Manager of Property, Sales and Excise Tax division, having had responsibility for the real estate tax assessments for Alcoa’s many real estate holdings throughout the United States and abroad. Having received many professional designations and certifications, Ed was a founding member and Past President of the Institute of Professionals and Taxation and an Associate Member of the Tax Executives Institute.
Having been a lifelong active Mason, in 1992-93, Ed served as the Right Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, Free and Accepted Masons, the oldest and largest grand lodge of the Masonic fraternity in the United States. In this capacity, he embarked on a pioneering project to offer leadership development skills to members of the fraternity throughout the Commonwealth.
Additionally, he was the past presiding national officer of the Convent General, Knights of the York Cross of Honour, the Grand Council of Allied Masonic degrees of the United States of America, the Grand Council of Knight Masons of America, the Governor General of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America and the Provincial Grand Master of the Royal Order of Scotland for the United States of America from 1997-2014. One of his highest Masonic honors and privileges was to be the personal guest of HRH, Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England at the 275th Anniversary of organized Freemasonry and to be the only American to have been awarded the privilege of speaking this Event. He was an honorary member of the Grand Lodges of Alaska, Greece, Hawaii, Nevada and Portugal. For his Masonic service, he received numerous awards including the Bronze Medallion from the Chapel of Four Chaplains in Valley Forge Pennsylvania, and an honorary member of the Acacia fraternity. At the national level, Ed received the Knight Grand Cross, or its equivalent, in almost every Masonic organization of which he was a member and was instrumental in introducing several Orders into the United States through his leadership and influence. He was awarded the 33rd degree in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, the Legion of Honor from the Order of DeMolay and the Grand Cross of Colors from the International Order of Rainbow for Girls. Ed was a member and past presiding officer of Bellevue Royal Arch Chapter, Roland C Fisher Mark Lodge, Allegheny Council, Allegheny Commandery, Valley of Pittsburgh, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Keystone Priory KYCH, United States Premier Conclave Knights of the Red Cross of Constantine, Gateway to the West Council, Golden Triangle York Rite College, Transfiguration Tabernacle, HRAKTP, Pennsylvania College SRICF, Royal Order of Jesters Court No.2, The August Order of Light, Susquehanna Court Masonic Order of Athelstan, and the Mayflower Conclave Order of Pilgrim Preceptors. Additionally, he was a member of Syria Shrine, Bryn Athyn Quarry Assemblage, Saint George Prefectory #1 CBCS, Hermetic Order of Spiritual Knights among many other Masonic affiliations.
After retirement, he continued traveling the world for his many Masonic endeavors and to enjoy sightseeing, photography and fine dining in more than 40 countries. He was a retired member of the Charleroi Rotary club, a member of the Sheriff’s Reserve for Allegheny County, a Member of the Philadelphia Priory Sovereign Military Order of the Temple, and was a Freeman of the City of London.
Survivors include two nieces and four nephews: Karen Poziviak and Kitty Dzatko, Guy Hess, Fred Hess, David Coyne, Robert Coyne, and friends, Matthew and Susan Dupee. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife, Lois Hess Fowler on March 17, 2014 and a sister, Lois Jean Coyne. Friends will be received from 7 to 9 P.M. Friday, October 5, 2018 in the Ferguson Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc., 700 Broad Avenue, Belle Vernon. 724-929-5300 www.FergusonFuneralHomeAndCrematory.com. Additional visitation will be in the funeral home from 8:30 to 10 A.M. Saturday. Masonic services will begin at 10 A.M. Saturday followed by funeral services with Rev. Matthew Stabe officiating. Entombment will follow in Belle Vernon Cemetery.
If friends wish, tax deductible memorial contributions may be made to the Edward H. and Lois H. Fowler Charitable Trust, c/o Matthew Dupee, Esquire, P.O. Box 1266, Aiken, SC 29802.

Friday, September 28, 2018

New Hampshire Statewide Masonic Open House 10/20/18

The Grand Lodge of New Hampshire F&AM will be holding a statewide open house on Saturday, October 20, 2018 to heighten public awareness of Freemasonry's members, beliefs, history, and community work.

All Masonic lodges around the Granite State will open at 9AM and remain open until 3PM. Masons will be on-hand to answer questions and give guided tours of their beautiful and meaningful meeting rooms.

Members of organizations affiliated with Masonry including the Scottish Rite, Shrine, Order of the Eastern Star, the youth groups of International Order of the Rainbow for Girls and DeMolay International will also be in attendance in many locations.

For more information or to find a lodge to visit, see the Grand Lodge website HERE.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Tri-State Masonic Degree Day Nov. 3rd in Indianapolis

On Saturday, November 3rd, three midwestern U.S. Grand Lodges will come together for an all-day Masonic Degree Exemplification. The Entered Apprentice Degree will be performed by the Grand Lodge of Indiana; the Fellow Craft Degree by the Grand Lodge of Michigan; and the Master Mason Degree by the Grand Lodge of Ohio. 

This is a great chance to see how the three Craft lodge degrees are conferred in our sister jurisdictions. and it's part of our 200th anniversary of the founding of the Grand Lodge of Indiana this year.

This event will take place in the auditorium of the incredible Indianapolis Scottish Rite Cathedral. If you've never visited it before, take this excellent opportunity.

This event is FREE and open to all MASTER MASONS from jurisdictions in amity with the Grand Lodge F&AM of Indiana.

Following the degrees, there will be a reception at the Cathedral for a small cost of $10.

Register today for this fantastic and unique event, and take advantage of this wonderful opportunity during our Bicentennial year of Freemasonry here in Indiana!

To register, visit the website at: https://is.gd/TriStateDegree

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Time and Participation

I just came across an old post from back in 2007 that had a sentiment worth sharing again. Brother Kurt Kurosawa had recently visited a lodge in the Philippines that year, and they told him that they regularly had an average 40% attendance rate at their stated meetings.

Remarkably astonishing, as compared to the longstanding U.S. average of 10% or less. 

It seems that the lodge includes this admonition to her Masons on a regular basis:
"[The 24 inch gauge] teaches us that all men are gifted with the same good measure of time each day to discharge all their duties in life, as well as for work, refreshment and rest, but they remind each other that a 30-day month contains 720 hours, so that the bare minimum involvement of attending a stated communication, if it consumes 4 hours, would demand of them only half of one percent of their time."

SC Lodge Battling Over Eminent Domain

The town of Lexington, South Carolina is seeking to condemn the temple of Lexington Lodge 152 using eminent domain for the purpose of constructing a parking lot for a proposed new Springhill Suites by Marriott hotel across the street. There seems to be a somewhat yawning abyss between the two sides concerning the temple's value.

From the LakeAndMain.net website on September 20th, 'A Hotel, The Town,and the Masons'):
In May of this year, it was announced that a vacant lot – and prime piece of real estate – in the middle of downtown Lexington had been purchased by the Lexington Hospitality Group. The intention is to build a hotel, believed to be a Springhill Suites by Marriott, on that Main Street location.

There has been some controversy over the proposed development, primarily about traffic. But then, there’s always concern about traffic in Lexington. One of the main worries of residents and those who do business in town is parking for the hotel. There is precious little parking already and the idea of adding an 80-100 room hotel only elevated curiosity about the project.
Across Butler Street. a block north of Main Street is the Lexington Masonic Lodge #152. According to one Mason who spoke to L&M, Lexington Mayor Steve MacDougall – the main proponent of the hotel – sought to condemn the Masonic property using the authority of eminent domain and construct a parking garage that would service the new hotel. The Lodge would be compensated for the property, but, apparently, in the $300,000 range. The group rejected the offer because the proposed purchase price was far too low. To rebuild and relocate would cost the Masons an estimated $1 million, effecting an almost $700,000 loss for the lodge.

Such is the way of eminent domain. Government decides that private property should used for purposes it determines is “in the best interest of the public.” Assessed value is determined as the purchase price with no regard for owner sentiment or the cost to relocate the residence or business.
Supposedly, the Lodge and Town are negotiating for a solution, but confirmation from the Town or members of the Town Council is difficult. Lake and Main has confirmed that Mayor MacDougall was invited by the Lodge to discuss the issue, but he sent surrogates in his stead.

That confirmation had to come from outside the town council because such matters are discussed in closed or “executive” session, away from public scrutiny. Contract negotiations can be delicate and it is considered prudent to be discrete.

Nonetheless, to condemn via eminent domain the property of such a vaunted organization as the Freemasons is distasteful. It is, of course, the business of the Masonic Lodge what terms will be satisfactory, but woe betide the Mayor if the Town under his direction attempts to force the issue over the Masons’ objection.

A post-script to the story was added Friday, September 21st:

The $300k figure (called “range” in the article is the assessed value of the property. Mayor MacDougall’s plan to condemn (the proper term) the property under eminent domain is based on the assessed value as the initial compensation. If rejected by he owner of the property (the Masons), negotiations are conducted to reach a compromise. That is what happened. Ultimately, if the two parties cannot resolve, the Town can “condemn” and confiscate it and pay the assessed value. In this instance, it has been determined that it will cost the Masonic Lodge an estimated $1 million to purchase land, build a comparable facility and relocate. The Town will most certainly not pony up a million dollars to buy land to build a parking lot/garage for the hotel Mayor MacDougall is promoting. The negotiations are ongoing, though, so it will be the decision of the Lodge as to the outcome. There are “rumors” about a possible solution, but that could not be verified, so it was not published.

Monday, September 24, 2018

MSA Issues South Carolina Disaster Relief Appeal

Cleanup and assessments of damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence along the East Coast have continued in the affected areas. The Masonic Service Association of North America announced a Disaster Relief Appeal for North Carolina nine days ago. Today, MSA's Simon LaPlace now reports that Grand Master Michael D. Smith, Sr. of the Grand Lodge of South Carolina has also requested the MSA issue a Disaster Relief Appeal for his state due to the hurricane and extensive flooding of South Carolina.

As always, Grand Lodge secretaries and lodges are encouraged to circulate this message.

The announcement reads as follows:

MSA has received the following from the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of South Carolina, MW Gerald L. Carver:
"The Eastern Part of South Carolina is now having devastating flooding from the flow of Hurricane Florence water from North Carolina through the rivers in the Eastern Part of the State. Three Lodges have already been flooded, and several Brethren and many other South Carolinians have had to leave their homes which are now flooded. Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come with the rivers cresting later this week. Also, the pollution from the North Carolina pig farms and chicken houses is and will be causing major pollution in the flooded South Carolina Rivers which flow through cities and towns along the inter-coastal waterway where hundreds if not thousands have been ordered to evacuate in anticipation of the flooding later this week. Our Grand Master, Most Worshipful Michael D. Smith, Sr requests that you make an appeal to our Sister Grand Jurisdictions on behalf of the South Carolina Brethren."
Accordingly, the Masonic Service Association is announcing a Disaster Relief Appeal for the Grand Lodge of South Carolina.
Even ten days after the hurricane, the rivers have not crested yet, and Brothers and their homes and Lodges have seen tremendous damage. In some areas, water is expected to rise over ten feet, and it is feared more will die as a consequence. Please contribute whatever you can for these distressed worthy Brothers.
The Disaster Relief Appeal for North Carolina continues. The same conditions are impacting their Brethren.
MSA deducts no part of your contribution for administrative expenses. All expenses, charges by PayPal, bookkeeping, or cost of acknowledgment letters, everything, is absorbed by MSA in its operating budget. Your entire gross donation is sent to the affected jurisdiction. That's the way it's always been, and that's the way it will continue.

Donations can be made online at www.msana.com.
Please forward any donations you feel appropriate to help in this stricken jurisdiction to MSA. Please make checks payable to MSA Disaster Relief Fund and send to 3905 National Drive, STE 280, Burtonsville, MD 20866.
When remitting by check, please clearly mark that you wish the funds to go to the South Carolina Disaster Appeal.
MSA is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
Donations may also be made directly via MSA's Paypal link below:


Click images to enlarge:

October Knight Templar Magazine Highlights

The Knight Templar magazine arrived in the mail this afternoon. John Palmer, the magazine's editor for many, many years now, does a remarkable job in the world of Masonic publications these days. Not only does he fill each issue's 36 full-color pages with new, original articles and features, AND customizes the center pages for every single state's local material, but he does so on a crushing monthly schedule. If you are an author and have an original paper or article of reasonable length, or perhaps a photo spread that would be of interest to members of Masonry's chivalric order, I know that John is always seeking new material.

There are two items in the October 2018 Knight Templar that caught my eye on the first flip through. The first is that the Knight Templar magazine will soon be available as a mobile app for use with smartphones and tablets. The entire library of every issue since Volume 1 No. 1 in August 1955 will soon be accessible and searchable when the app goes live. Phase II of the app will be to make translated issues available in every major language spoken by Grand Encampment members all over the world. The dead tree edition will still be mailed to members unless they choose to opt out. And it is currently readable on the Grand Encampment website, as well.

The second item is a fine article by SK James Marples of Texas about famed 19th century actor William J. "Billy" Florence (1831-1891). Florence was an active and enthusiastic Mason based in New York, and was one of the founders of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, today more simply known as Shriners International

Born William Jermyn Conlin in 1831 to Irish Catholic immigrant parents, Billy Florence and Dr. Walter M. Fleming devised the Shrine, along with eleven fellow Masons around their regular table at the Knickerbocker Cottage in New York in 1872.  The actor was legendarily inspired by an overseas trip to Morocco, and his later initiation into a Arabic-themed, quasi "secret society" at a Marseilles costume party. 

Florence was also a 33° Scottish Rite Mason, who had his degrees conferred upon him by Charles T. McClenachan, author of the Book of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. And he was a member of the Royal Arch, the Cryptic Council, and the Knights Templar.

While the Shrine is known today primarily for its 22 Shriners Hospitals that provide burn care and orthopedic treatment for children, it's always important to know just when and how an organization began, and the society it inhabited at that time. Victorian stuffiness was the prevailing atmosphere in the 1870s. American had largely removed the alcohol from its Temples, and regular lodge night accompanying feasts were being phased out. Anything resembling frivolity was frowned upon in the lodge, and Masonic trials for unbecoming behavior out in public were on the increase, too. Grand lodge rule books began to fill up with all sorts of new restrictions on behavior outside of the lodge. So the Shrine was conceived from the start as a refuge from the sternness of the now stuffy lodges. Yet, the new Shriners were by no means considered drunken, wanton libertines. Billy Florence inspired the Shrine's original motto: "Pleasure without intemperance, hospitality without rudeness, and jollity without coarseness should prevail among all."

That didn't mean that the Shriners were un-serious about their Freemasonry. Quite the contrary. It is a shame that the Shrine did away in 2000 with their longstanding prerequisite that new members belong to a lodge, plus either the Scottish Rite or the York Rite first, or both, so that the fun Order was seen as an ally of Craft Masonry, Consistories, and Commanderies alike. 

It was a bonus that I came across this article today. I had just read an absurd anti-Masonic article on a militant Catholic website falsely accusing Freemasonry by way of the Shrine for purportedly requiring members to be obligated on the Quran (absolutely untrue), thereby declaring that we're all infidels. It never ceases to irritate Masons when we encounter non-Masons who claim to know more about us than we do ourselves, including degrees that we have all experienced. So it was nice to discover that Billy Florence himself and founder of the Shrine and its rituals was a Roman Catholic Freemason. He was a major benefactor to Brooklyn's St. Agnes Parish, and upon his death, floral arrangements arrived bearing squares and compasses. The parish priest permitted the wreaths to remain on the altar, as long as Brethren did not attend wearing Masonic aprons or uniforms.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Louisiana Restores Amity with Grand Encampment of Knights Templar

Louisiana participant jewel, Masonic Knights Templar 31st Triennial Conclave, Chicago,1910.
Louisiana Jewel from 31st Triennial in 1910
Photo: Art de Hoyos
I was going to wait until Monday to post this when I could get hold of the actual letter, but I have received enough multiple reports today out of the South Central York Rite Conference in San Antonio that I am sufficiently convinced of its veracity. 

After a private meeting with Grand Master Jeffrey N. Nelson of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, MW Martin Reinschmidt, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana verbally announced that he has rescinded edict 2018-02 and restored recognition to the Grand Encampment. 

The Grand Commandery of Louisiana also met in special session and re-elected their Grand Commander, Keith Gates. 

Both Grand Masters stated together that they would work with each other during the new Triennium.

MW Reinschmidt posted an announcement this morning on the Louisiana Brethren private phone application, circulated among more than 600 Masons in the state. In it he stated that he had "verbally rescinded" the edict, and that a letter would be forthcoming Monday.

I will post the actual letter when IF I receive it.

For background on this story, see the following articles:

8/20/2018: GM of Louisiana Withdraws Recognition of Knights Templars

8/25/2018: Immediate MEPGM of Grand Encampment Responds To Louisiana Edict

9/2/2018: Lousiana v. Templars: Grand Commander of LA Responds

UPDATE 10/4/2018:
The official text of the letter dated September 26, 2018 has appeared on the Grand Lodge website HERE and reads as follows:
My Brothers,
Through a series of meetings and emails between M:E:G:M: Jeff Nelson of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America and myself, we were able to work out the differences that had arisen between the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, F & A M and the Grand Encampment, leading to my removing our recognition of the Grand Encampment.
Based on an agreement between the M:E:G:M Nelson and I, I have rescinded Edict 2018-02 effective Saturday, September 24, 2018, and have restored recognition to the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America.
May the Grand Architect of the Universe bless the Grand Lodge of Louisiana and the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America.
Martin J ReinschmidtGrand MasterGrand Lodge of Louisiana

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Was It Something I Said?

Photo: David Icke. Yeah, I went there.
If you think the current national and international imbroglios over speech codes, "hate crime" speech laws, trigger warnings, and the awesome, unassailable, sheer naked power of Google and Facebook is overblown, you might reconsider that.

At about 1 PM Wednesday, I logged on to post a new story here, only to discover that I had been locked out from my blog account by the nameless, faceless, multi-tentacled Leviathan known as Google. The blog was still online and could be viewed by everyone, but I was prevented from accessing the administrative features because my Google+ profile had been "suspended." And if I remained "suspended" for 90 days, the blog would subsequently be taken down entirely.

Of course, Goggle's robotic speech police force never sent me an email or any other explanatory message to inform me of this. No warnings beforehand. No message telling just WHY I had been suspended. Just BOOM, no access.

Here's how I found out when I tried to access the blog yesterday:

Had I offended someone? Had someone else posted something inappropriate in a comment? Had someone hacked my account? Was there malicious html code lurking in my site's formatting? Had someone slipped in a virus disguised as a photograph? Did anyone complain about something? Had some crazed anti-Mason or former high school girlfriend just lied to Google and claimed I had broken some rule, or was advocating revolution, or drowning kittens online? Do Freemasons just seem to be too 'conservative' for Google's staff?

I STILL don't know what happened. And I probably never will.

This blog has been up and running for over a dozen years now. To date, I've had 9.4 million views of my nearly 3,000 articles, and tens of thousands of comments have been posted here (in addition to the thousands on Facebook, where these articles also appear). Whatever you might think of my content, it's not what much of anyone anywhere would regard as controversial, adversarial, alienating, or even irksome, unless you really, really dislike or distrust Freemasons. I stick to Google's rules, since they own the platform and provide the Blogger feature free of charge and without advertising, and no one has ever accused me of violating their service terms or community standards. If I use a photo or excerpt an article from elsewhere, I always try to link back to the source or give credit. In the less than five cases over the years that someone has objected to my use of their proprietary material, I have always acceded to their wishes by removing it or giving proper attribution. (In a twist of irony, I'm sure notorious anti-Mason David Icke will be irked that I've cribbed his All Seeing Eye of Google image above. He's worried about us FREEMASONS?)

Moreover, this site is HEAVILY moderated by me. You won't find profanity here, or ad hominem attacks, or even good old fashioned flame wars of yesteryear. It is one of the least contentious sites on the web simply because I run it like an autocrat (or a Worshipful Master), since I can read online fights anywhere and everywhere else I look these days. I just don't want it in here.

What was most troubling about Google shutting down my access yesterday was the total silence from their staff. Nobody contacted me before, during or after the shut down. And if you find yourself suspended by Google, I can tell you from this experience that there is NO WAY to get in touch with Google's support team or speech police. I was told to log in and post a question on their discussion board, yet I had to have a valid, NON-SUSPENDED Google+ profile to do it! So, I have no idea why I was padlocked out of my own site.

Photo: Calibre Computer Solutions

My best guess is that this was deliberate sabotage by someone who was bored, or who just wanted to vandalize a positive site about the Freemasons. Or it was a spammer who was livid that I keep deleting their comments inviting everyone to "Join the Illuminati!" I get dozens of those idiotic comments every day (and I suspect the mention of it here will result in another flood of spam). So I am left to infer that one of these miscreant basement dwellers possibly decided to falsely report this site for some sort of violation of Google's terms of service, which resulted in my access being denied for twelve hours until a human could actually investigate it.

My account was finally restored in the early hours this morning, so I hope this is the end of it. However, I am finally taking steps to get off of Google's platform, and I'm sure all of you web wizards out there who hate the antique way this site looks are heaving a sigh of relief. I'm slowly building the new blog site, so don't have a conniption when it goes live unexpectedly in the coming days or weeks. My goal is to preserve ALL of the prior posts here, along with their graphics AND comments.

I fully expect this to happen again as Google keeps trying to pull off the impracticable with its new censorship and quixotic war against 'fake news.' They announce daily developments as they attempt to make politicians, parents, professors, propagandists, protest groups, pornographers, social justice warriors, free speech advocates, free speech monitors, free speech deniers, nattering nabobs of negativity, the Turks and the Chinese all happy, simultaneously. Sadly, once they got into the content removal business, they crossed into a dangerous minefield, and they can't seem to navigate their way back out again. Once Google and Facebook decided they were NOT the phone company, and not a publisher either, they screwed themselves into being 'responsible' for pulling off the impossible. And it's going to get worse before it gets better.

So if you have a blog or website hosted by Google, run, do not walk, to the nearest exits and get your account off of Google's platforms. Neither myself nor anyone posting on my blog said or did anything to deserve shutting down, albeit briefly. But that doesn't seem to matter anymore. This situation is going to keep happening with greater frequency from now forward because all it takes is a vengeful or devious teenager with a keyboard or a smartphone to shut you and your site, your business, your communications with friends and relatives, down by squealing to the REAL All-Seeing Eye that is Google. And both Google and Facebook are now working hand in hand with governments all over the world to craft ever more intrusive laws, rules, regulations, codes, and punishments for speech, equating words with actual physical violence. How did we get here?

It's a shame that society can't seem to get along with itself anymore, and that social media has become nothing but anti-social media instead. Such a waste of a precious resource like freedom of speech and expression. Speech codes, safe spaces, hate speech laws — that is how the People un-learn Liberty. But then, that's what happens when society can't be civil to itself anymore, shares nothing in common anymore, and has no cohesive agreement on what decent behavior is. Instead, we pass laws and enact regulations to do what common sense, decency and manners used to accomplish.

Brother Winston Churchill said a great many things throughout his lifetime (and even more is attributed to him than he actually said). But in 1938 in a radio address to the United States he said:
(Winston Churchill photo: Lodge of Hope)
"They are afraid of words and thoughts; words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home--all the more powerful because forbidden--terrify them. A little mouse of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic. They make frantic efforts to bar our thoughts and words; they are afraid of the workings of the human mind. Cannons, airplanes, they can manufacture in large quantities; but how are they to quell the natural promptings of human nature, which after all these centuries of trial and progress has inherited a whole armoury of potent and indestructible knowledge?... [A] state of society where men may not speak their minds, where children denounce their parents to the police, where a business man or small shopkeeper ruins his competitor by telling tales about his private opinions; such a state of society cannot long endure if brought into contact with the healthy outside world."
A healthy outside world. 

Heck, I'd be content if everyone just got along as well as Freemasons in a lodge...

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Netflix Offering 'Inside The Freemasons'

Netflix has started streaming availability of "Inside the Freemasons," the five-part documentary shown in England on Sky1 network during the United Grand Lodge of England's 300th anniversary celebration last year. The program was that rarest of television treatments of the fraternity - calm, even-handed, truthful - and features numerous Masons throughout England discussing their membership. It was created with the cooperation of the grand lodge.

That said, there's a certain wry irony that Netflix has labeled the series as "controversial." 


Because they say it is.

See it HERE. A subscription is required.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

D.C. Area Lodges Mark 225th Anniversary of Capitol Cornerstone

This evening, members of Congress and representatives from the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the Grand Lodge of Washington, D.C., and Masons from the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland marked the 225th anniversary of the laying of the U.S. Capitol cornerstone.

The original Capitol cornerstone ceremony, led by George Washington, took place in 1793.

This event was coordinated by a bi-partisan committee of congressmen, in addition to a Masonic committee composed of the Grand Lodge of D.C. and the three lodges that were present during the original ceremony (Federal Lodge No. 1 and Potomac Lodge No. 5 of DC; Alexandria-Washington, No. 22 of VA).

C-SPAN aired the ceremony live this evening, and it can be viewed online at the link below:


Saturday, September 15, 2018

MSA Issues Disaster Relief Appeal For North Carolina

Simon LaPlace at the MSA has issued the following message concerning the hurricane in North Carolina:

Most Worshipful Speed Hallman, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina has requested the Masonic Service Association of North America to issue a Disaster Relief Appeal. Hurricane Florence has produced massive flooding across the state. The Grand Lodge is aiding and assisting their Brothers, their families, and their communities in providing aid and assistance.

Further information will be made at www.msana.com/msappeals.asp as available. Please keep up to date at MSA's website as well as MSA's Facebook Page and Facebook Group. This link can also be added to websites to direct donations through MSA.

Particular information and photos can be sent to MSA at msaoffice@msana.com

Donations can be made online at www.msana.com.

Please forward any donations you feel appropriate to help in this stricken jurisdiction to MSA. Please make checks payable to MSA Disaster Relief Fund and send to:

3905 National Drive
STE 280
Burtonsville, MD 20866 

When remitting by check, please clearly mark that you wish the funds to go to the North Carolina Disaster Appeal.

All administrative expenses, bank charges, bookkeeping, and cost of acknowledgment letters is absorbed by MSA in its operating budget. Your entire donation will be sent to the affected jurisdiction. That's the way it's always been, and that's the way it will continue.

MSA is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

You may also donate directly via the MSA Paypal link below:

North Carolina MSA 2018 Disaster Appeal

Click image to enlarge.