About Me

My photo
Cookeville, Tennessee, United States
I am a member of Cookeville Lodge 266, Grand Lodge Of Tennessee.
This is a blog about my thoughts on Masonry. I also post other peoples thoughts and storys on the subject.
Thoughts on other topics are also posted here, such as religion, politics, and whatever else I can come up with.
I am still very new to Masonry. I was Raised Sept. 20th 2010. I am Looking forward to continuous learning (more light) throughout my life.
Thanks for visiting and feel free to comment.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

'A new look at ye olde Bible'

The following is a post by Magpie Mason. I follow his blog and enjoy his posts. I especially enjoy any kind of American Masonic history, so here is some for you.

Posted by:The Magpie Mason

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

'A new look at ye olde Bible'

A King James Version of the Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments, the 'George Washington Inaugural Bible' was printed in the 1760s, and has been owned since then by St. John's Lodge No. 1 AYM in New York City. On April 30, 1789, George Washington took his first presidential oath of office upon this Bible, his hands resting at Genesis 49-50.

I had the good fortune to be in the presence of a certain Bible on Friday night, one that has been discussed here before. A cherished, priceless document we in Freemasonry call the George Washington Inaugural Bible was brought to a local Masonic lodge in New Jersey to display during a ceremony.

I just want to offer a quick post on this now to share a perspective that is new to me. Two, actually, but I'll begin at the beginning.

The George Washington Inaugural Bible, a King James Version containing the Old and New Testaments, has been owned by St. John's Lodge No. 1, Ancient York Masons, in New York City since the lodge purchased it from Baskett printers in London in 1767, for use as the lodge's altar Bible. It earned its nickname because on April 30, 1789, George Washington took his first presidential oath of office with his hands resting on the pages of this Bible, opened to Genesis 49-50, in a ceremony on Wall Street.

In a fraternal order that cherishes its history and its artifacts, this holy text enjoys a unique standing; whereas those Founding Fathers who were members of Masonic lodges left this world long ago, this Bible serves as a portal that grants us today the chance to touch them in their day. Well, almost. The Bible is handled only by select members of St. John's Lodge when they travel with it on the very few occasions it is allowed to travel. But it does travel, unlike so many other pieces permanently encased in glass or locked in vaults, never to reach their full value as educational tools and cultural touchstones.

One of those guardians on Friday night was VW Bro. Piers Vaughan, who addressed the audience of approximately 150 to tell the history of this Bible, and his own thoughts on why this particular text came to hold its singular significance.

Piers Vaughan, in Masonic regalia, exhibits
a miniature replica of the historic George
Washington Inaugural Bible, one that
features the autograph of George H.W. Bush.
Piers spoke of how the preparations for Washington's inauguration were planned to the most minute detail, even down to the quantities of hay and water required to refresh the horses in the procession. How could it be that the very instant of inauguration could be bereft of a Bible? It is a depth of thoughtlessness that seems too improbable to be taken seriously. Instead, argues Piers, the president-elect himself fashioned "an elegant solution" to a potential political and religious misstep. With the new American states characterized by different sectarian beliefs, the choice of one holy text over another in the performance of this swearing-in ceremony could have had repercussions throughout the land. But because of the very high esteem in which the public regarded Freemasonry, Washington's choice of a "Masonic Bible" would have been appreciated as the best obtainable ecumenical solution to the ceremonial dilemma.

And the second point that caught my ear Friday night was the ranking in which Piers placed this Bible in political and civic importance: third, after only the Declaration and the Constitution.

His reasoning is because Washington was created president of the United States with the assistance of this Bible, the Executive Branch of U.S. government was thereby embodied by him that very moment. Enlightened by this view, I now see the aspiration of the Declaration of Independence as prelude to the covenant of the Constitution, rendered in the flesh as a civilian, temporary, and elected chief executive.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas charity at it's finest

Good stuff here!!!

New Jersey Lodge Celebrates Christmas in a Big Way

The brethren of Hiram Abiff Lodge No. 16 (Prince Hall) in Pleasantville, New Jersey held their annual Christmas party and gave away 72 bicycles and hundreds of toys. New Jersey's Prince Hall Grand Master Robert Oglesby, Sr. said between $8,000 and $10,000 worth of bicycles, toys, food and candy canes were given away on Saturday.

From the Press of Atlantic City:

Mayleanne Lugo smiled as she approached Santa Claus inside Pleasantville Middle School's cafeteria on Saturday morning.

The 3-year-old Egg Harbor Township resident's smile grew when Santa gave her a small container of Play-Doh, which she hugged against her chest until she became the first of 72 local children to win a bicycle, her first, at the 34th annual Hiram Abiff Lodge No. 16 Christmas party.

And even though Lugo's tiny feet did not know exactly how to maneuver the pedals on her new bicycle, her now enormous smile showed her excitement.

"I never heard about anything like this until a friend told me about it. But I love it, and she obviously loves it too," Lugo's mother Fabiola Rodriquez, 32, said while looking down at her daughter, who was inspecting her new wheels. "This is a wonderful thing they do."

The large-scale holiday tradition started under the direction of the Masonic lodge's past master Clarence Williams, who was at Saturday's event helping to hand out gifts.

"He told us he wanted to do something positive in the community for the children," said past Grand Master John Bettis, who was the president of that year's membership class. "We had 200 or 300 kids here for the first year, when we only had two bikes - one boy's bike and one girl's bike - to give away. And it just grew from there."

This year, more than 600 children - from infants to 12 year olds - flooded into the cafeteria for a chance to get one of the 72 bicycles or hundreds of other toys that were given away.

Friday, December 16, 2011

This Brother Makes Sense To Me

This Brother Makes Sense To Me

That Light (knowledge), that all men are seeking is how to be happy and be at peace. That’s the bottom line! To achieve these states of mind, it has to be attained through spiritual exercises. When someone achieves that level of living, it does manifest itself throughout their whole being, (this is the Christ or enlighten nature of man) and this living becomes a testimony to all who see. But please remember this, it is a process that ebbs and flows which means we have to be constantly working to stay in that realm of happiness and peace. Freemasonry has many lessons in its teachings to help guide us towards our enlightment such as; how to divide our hours and what it should pertain to. It is reminding you of your True Nature (from whence came you?), it is also telling you why you’re experiencing some difficulties (passions not being subdued). I do believe that all men have the Light within them; but just as lightbulbs have different wattages, so too men have different levels of Light within themselves and I believe it’s because of their environmental associations. But because he is determined to keep working on the internal self, his external self along with his environment will definitely change (or should I say become brighter). Yes, we are conservators of this Light, but we’re only one of many. Truth comes in many forms of teachings and we will forever be the Teacher (dispenser of Light) as well as the Student (seeker of Light), it’s a balancing act we have to learn to do. Just my opinion.
Bro. Jerome Womack
New Beginning #970

Monday, December 12, 2011

Great Article to the Non-Mason

Regarding Freemasonry

The following is a lengthy discourse on the nature of Freemasonry written for the non-Mason. It is an email that was sent to the pastor of my church who had made an inquiry about the Masonic medallion and stickers on my Jeep . I explained the best I could in the 7 minutes before Sunday service what Freemasonry is and the benevolent nature of the Craft with its intimate, separate, yet complementary role with organised religion. He then asked “If Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life; why do you need anything to even complement it? Why be involved in Freemasonry at all if you are saved through grace and faith alone?”

I realise that I hardly have to defend Freemasonry, but I felt it was appropriate to the use the opportunity as a teaching experience to share the beauty I’ve found thus far in this great organisation. Some new Masons and non-Masons would benefit greatly by reading this for content. Masonry is a truly a Craft of self-discovery. The back curtains are never really pulled away. Masons must seek the Light for themselves, talk with well-informed brethren, and dive in head-first to a world within itself. This article reveals some of the inner workings of how millions of men throughout the world can be united by a common bond, the Mystic Tie of brotherhood. My hope is that the reader can learn something new, reinforce their own beliefs, respond with a counter-argument, challenge and discuss what I have written with others, and thereby further the Craft through stricter examination of the perceptions of our gentle art.

What is written comes from the perspective of a 2-year old Master Mason from Northern New Jersey and thereby the explanations I’ve provided are derived from my relatively limited exposure to the whole of Freemasonry, the books I’ve read, the people I’ve talked with, and the orders to which I belong. As such, the details of membership, mode and manner of the Craft, and our governing bodies are geophysically relative and may not represent the circumstances in other parts of the United States and most certainly not in the rest of the world.
Respectfully submitted with Light, Life, and Love from our Beneficent Creator,

-Chase William Kruppo
Junior Deacon (2012) Madison Lodge #93, Madison, NJ
32° AASR Northern Valley, NJ, Northern Jurisdiction

Square & Compases

I’m so glad you approached me about the Masons yesterday. I’d love to be a resource to clarify any questions you may have. While I’m relatively new to the fraternity (joined in April of 2010), I am continuously reading Masonic literature on the history, philosophy, and application of Masonic principles.

The following is a lengthy discourse I’ve spent several hours working on to give you a sense of what and who Freemasons are.

Masonry spans many different subjects, histories, and concentrations, so your first resource would best be Wikipedia. From there you can get a basic understanding of what Freemasonry is and branch out to the more interesting facets.

In a nutshell, Freemasonry is a system of morality (a code of ethics), veiled in allegory (expressed in a way that can be interpreted subjectively by the recipient), and illustrated through symbols (taught in a way that hearkens back to the time when most people were illiterate and learned from masters drawing in the dirt on the floor to teach an apprentice). It is the oldest and largest fraternity in the world and exists in every corner of the free world and underground in countries where such organizations are illegal (Iran, North Korea).

In it’s present state, the ritual of the Freemasons comes from northern England in the early 1700s where it was crafted by pious men of God (read: “Christians”) who applied the operative symbolism of the stone worker trade guilds to a speculative philosophical art. It went from medieval European cathedral builders to builders of “good men” on a foundation of service to God. Using the symbols of stone masons and the allegory of the building of King Solomon’s temple, we impart deep and virtuous teachings on our members.

Where most people are turned askew are the “secrets” of Freemasonry, which are the modes and manner of recognition (handshakes and passwords whereby two Masons may recognize each other in the darkness as well as in the light). Freemasonry is not a “secret society”, but more appropriately a “society with secrets”. As I explained, these secrets (the handshakes, passwords, and ritual) can all be found on Google in under 5 minutes and have been exposed in published writings back in the 1780s.

There is also no “Masonic conspiracy” as perpetuated through Dan Brown and films like National Treasure. The idea that Freemasons are power brokers of the world stems from the fact that in early Masonic history, the men that associated fraternally in the taverns were the mayors, doctors, lawyers, clergy and merchants. The image of the wealthy and powerful meeting together was intimidating. But what conspiracy theorists never tell you is that the farmers, carpenters, blacksmiths and bakers were also in the Lodge room and had equal standing regardless of position in life outside the Lodge room.

Masons meet on a plane of equality that disregards race, creed, color, sexual orientation, political views, material wealth and any other dividing bias. In fact, the reason why Masons dress in formalwear when we meet is to make a visual display of that equality, that regardless of whether you just got off the job from the bank or the bakery, we are all equal in the Lodge. I regularly meet with men through the fraternity who would be inaccessible to me if I didn’t have a Masonic introduction.

The idea of spiritually aware, good-natured, God-fearing men meeting under the precept of brotherhood still attracts new members to join a massive network of men who prescribe to the same moral values as another Brother. It truly is a brotherhood. There are men who I’ve met who would drive 100 miles to help if I broke down on the side of the highway. Men who would give with all their ability if I were in financial trouble. Masons who would visit me daily in the hospital. And still there are a handful who would lay down their life for me if the situation arose. And more importantly, I do and would do the same for them. When I find someone to be a Mason, I know that his moral compass far exceeds my expectations of the non-Mason and that he is bound by certain oaths to serve God and his fellow man in a manner of service and dedication found in no other organization. I can go just about anywhere in the world and know that if I need help, or a place to stay, or a warm meal, I can find it.

Masonry is also very independent. There is no national or international governing body. In the US, each Masonic lodge is chartered by the state’s Grand Lodge. It receives a warrant to meet as a regularly recognised body of Freemasons and enjoys parity and reciprocal recognition with lodges around the state, in other countries, throughout the world. The word “lodge” in Masonry means three or more Masons assembled in one place under the authority of God. It refers to the people as well as the place, just as “church” means two or more believers assembled in the name of God and also refers to the place in which they meet.

While there is a statewide governing body, each individual lodge is free to operate the business of the lodge; it’s agenda, it’s events and activities, it’s buildings and grounds, as it sees fit, as determined by a democratic majority of its members. Each Lodge owns and operates its own facilities. While there are national and international conferences of Masonic bodies, they neither have the objective or authority to legislate on the behalf or to affect the local lodge. There is no Masonic, new world order, conspiracy. We have hard enough of a time planning a picnic let alone plotting world domination. Is it really that hard to believe that our God who created the infinite universe could gather a few million Masons under the banner of brotherly love?

In every Masonic lodge, there is an altar on which a Volume of Sacred Law is opened during meetings. It is symbolic of the Light of God that comes through His unerring word and that the Lodge is governed under His divine Truth. In most lodges, the Volume is the Holy Bible. But it may also be the Tanakh, the Koran, even the Book of Shadows for a Wiccan, in an extreme example. Whatever the belief of the congregant Masons, their holy book is represented as a source of Light (read:”knowledge”) on the altar. For example, at Acacia Lodge #20 in Dover, the Bible, Tanakh and Koran are always present on the altar because of its religiously diverse membership.

So in reality, there is nothing secretive about the Masons today. It’s actually less secretive than the Roman Catholic fraternity and civic organization, the Knights of Columbus. Where as the Knights must invite you to become a member, the Masons follow a “2B1Ask1” model where someone interested in joining must ask to petition the Lodge for membership. Not the other way around. We also are expressly forbidden from actively soliciting membership, which is why some think we’re so secretive.

To become a Mason, one must be a man (whatever your driver’s license says), over the age of 21, who doesn’t have a criminal record, is of sound mind, and believing in a Supreme Being. The Masons don’t mandate what that Supreme Being is called, and uses the umbrella term “Grand Architect of the Universe” and is referred to as ‘God’ or ‘Deity’ in our meetings and represented by the letter “G” in our square and compass symbol.

This is where Randy got caught up with me and I have heard the same argument from another, more conservative evangelical Christian on my mission trip to El Salvador. Masonry is not a religion, or a substitute for religion. We don’t teach a path and we don’t offer salvation. We don’t tell people what to believe or where to seek God. We encourage Masons to be active in their local church or synagogue, but the imperative concept is that seeking the face of God is a personal journey, and not one that the Masons will dictate or enforce under a certain sect or brand of faith. We do teach tolerance for all faiths, the right to the freedom of religious belief, or non-belief, regardless of whether we agree or not with those beliefs, and defend that right of freedom for all people. But no atheist can be a Mason.

I’m relatively new to the evangelical contemporary Christian movement, but in my upbringing as a Catholic, evangelizing; converting heathens and non-believers, is not natural or encouraged, per say, save Catholic Charities missions. Going out and being the hands and feet of ministry was something that was talked about as a concept, but never practiced, at least in my church. Masonically, it is improper to impose or convert people from their own belief or non-belief. We endorse seeking God through whatever path makes sense in the time and place for an individual. For example, Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God works for me, right here, right now, but it might not be the case if I lived in China or India 3000 years ago. Masons concede that our human minds are too limited to know all the ways in which God works and are open to the idea that He may work through other prophets and paths to Him.

A study of world religions reveals that for the most part, they all share many commonalities and even similar teachings and parables. Christianity remains to be the only one that teaches salvation through grace and the God who became flesh to become a blood sacrifice for our sins eternally. But simply because I believe that doesn’t negate or vilify the other belief systems in the world. I’m not going to use the idea of Jesus to place myself on a pedestal above Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, Deists, and Atheists. But if someone comes to me asking for a path to the Light I would share with them the message of love and forgiveness of the Gospel.

One facet of the Masonic lodge (the group of men meeting) is that any discussion of politics, religion, and personal gain are prohibited to keep the peace and harmony of the Lodge. Our meetings consist of a benediction, the Pledge of Allegiance (to the US flag), a review of sickness and distress amongst the members, paying the bills, new and old business, a closing prayer and God Bless America is sung.

Our other activities include initiating new members, which is like a college fraternity initiation, except there is nothing contained within it that will humiliate, harm or embarrass members. No alcohol, no paddles, no goats. Very benign. Very symbolic. Very powerful presentation. It’s nearly word-for-word unchanged for over 200 years. The same cornerstone laying ceremony we conduct publicly today is the same ritual George Washington used when laying the cornerstone of the Capitol Building or when Masons layed the cornerstone of the Statue of Liberty (which was a statue designed by a French Mason and donated by French Freemasons to the people of America. It was American Freemasons who funded the construction of the Statue when it arrived here. And ironically, the statue is not just Lady Liberty, but a torch bearer, the bringer of Light to a new world of darkness. A very Masonic theme.) Further, the flag of our country was made by Betsy Ross, whose husband was a member in the same Lodge as George Washington, who commissioned the work. There are many other similar Masonic connections with the history of our nation. Incidentally, the initiation ritual for many college fraternities are directly taken from Masonic ritual.

We also are very active in the civic affairs of our community. We do a ton of volunteer work. Worldwide, Freemasons donate over $2 million a day to various charities. My Lodge in Madison does 2 blood drives every month, has 3 scholarships for local high schoolers, and has an “Angel Fund” where we partner with local schools and social services to anonymously cover any requested donation. For example, a child in Madison elementary school needs eyeglasses but the parents can’t afford them. The nurse tells the principal, the principal contacts us, and our Angel Fund committee dispatches services free of charge. The child can go to a doctor or pharmacy and we will already have arranged ahead of time to pay in full. In Boston, their Angel Fund is so large that they literally have warehouses of shoes, coats and clothing for children in need that are distributed across the state. All requests are processed and fulfilled in about 3 days. The recipient never knows who provided the services. And we like it that way. We don’t like to take credit for God’s work.

A recent example of this at work was last year when a house fire destroyed a home in Madison, killing the single mother of two children. Our Lodge was contacted to help and we fully funded the cost of school lunch for the kids. They don’t know who took care of it or why, but they know that someone cares. That God cares.

You may have heard of the Shriner’s hospital for burned or crippled children. The Shriner’s are an appendant order of Masonry, meaning you must be a Master Mason to join. We provide free medical care at these hospitals. Another branch of Freemasonry that I belong to called the Scottish Rite (which actually has its origins in France) runs children’s dyslexia centers around the country which offer free tutoring in a method of reading for people with learning disabilities. These free services, hospital treatments, and scholarships are available to anyone who needs help, not just Masons, their family or friends.

In New Jersey, the Masons also donate time each Sunday at the VA hospitals to bring the veterans to Sunday services in the chapel. We believe it’s an important duty to so serve those who gave of themselves for the freedoms we so freely enjoy. Every year we also host a Wheelchair Track & Field Meet, which is like a Special Olympics for disabled children.

So, in addition to the esoteric philosophical teachings of the Masons, we live out a tangible expression of our service to God and our fellow man. Very much like how Liquid Church brings church to the people through its engaging outreach ministry. In the sense of a civic organization, the Masons are comparable to Kiwanis, Lions Club, or Rotary. And in matters of God, the Masons are like the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, which are devoted to God, but don’t say what God to which they are so devoted.

On that note, to answer the root question; no, we don’t teach that Jesus is the only way to God. In fact we don’t tell Masons at all how to come to know God. We do teach that by humbling yourself to others, studying the science, art and mystery of our created world, and realizing the ultimate fate of our physical body and the resurrection of the eternal soul to a oneness with God, a Mason can work toward perfection and unity with the Creator.

Sidebar: common phrases like “level with me”, “give me a square deal”, “rap of the gavel” or “he gave me the third degree” are Masonic in origin.

I reached out to my friends on Facebook for some good articles and scholarly papers on the subject of Freemasonry and religion, specifically Christianity, and it was actually another member of the Morristown Campus Staff that pointed me to a website called MasonicWorld.com which houses 600+ articles, a glossary of Masonic terms, graphics, and short talk bulletins on every subject imaginable concerning Masonry.

I’ve selected a handful of articles and papers that answer some of the questions you posed to me and I hope that the candor and at times, pedigree of the author, provides a more complete picture of how Freemasonry not only is compatible with Christianity, but draws people closer to our God.

You asked me “If Christianity is complete on its own, why do you need Freemasonry at all?”. And the answer is, you don’t. You don’t need Freemasonry to worship God. But for our organization, you need to worship God to be a Mason. Freemasonry is religious in nature, but not a religion. It complements, meaning that it enhances the experience of a believer in God, the life of a follower of God, but doesn’t conflict or interfere with his duty to God, his country, or his fellow man.

The values of a Freemason- Faith, Hope, and Charity; are complemented by core tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. Universal values that encompass and strengthen a Brother, or any person, for that matter. As your staff member Janet can attest, as a member of the Order of the Eastern Star (like a Masonic ladies auxillery), Masonic values are universally applicable to all faiths and philosophies, most notably those that preach a message of love and compassion for our fellow brothers and sisters, especially the widows and orphans.

Because of this, you will find about 80% of Masons are Christian, with the rest following other faiths. Our ritual has its beginnings in Christian England and much of our ritual draws directly from Scripture (KJV with the thees, thous, and thys). And while the Catholic Church is officially opposed to Freemasons, believing our ability to organize a threat to their establishment, we accept Catholic Brothers with open arms.

The Masons carry a weird mythos and misunderstanding and if there are any questions I can answer that can clarify any of those points, I would be more than happy to do so. The more transparent Masons are and upfront with information about what we’re about, the less suspicious and critical the public can be. There are enough movies and History Channel documentaries to cause confusion. I’d love to provide insight.

Scanning through the list of Masons below, you may be surprised by who is or was a Freemason. From all times, places, professions; Masonry persists. I also invite you to visit my Lodge in Madison or the lodge in Morristown to meet with other local Masons and learn about what we do. I also have a friend who is an evangelical minister as well as a Mason and would gladly share his experience. There is a lot of misinformation out there. And if I can help dispel rumor, I will do so honestly, respectfully, informatively and pleasurably.
To conclude, it has been my experience that you will find no more humble a person, someone as selfless, serving, loving, and accepting than a Brother Mason, a Sister of the Eastern Star, or a child of DeMolay or Rainbow Girls/Job’s Daughters (Masonic youth groups). These people are truly the salt of the earth and I encourage you to embrace and learn from them rather than fear and reject them. You would be surprised how many Masons are in our Church, let alone our community, in the grocery store, pumping your gas, fixing your toilet, cleaning your gutters, filing your taxes, preparing your coffee or editing your morning paper.

Sincere regards and Happy Monday.

Your Brother in Christ,

- Chase William Kruppo

Wikipedia- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freemasonry

List of notable Freemasons- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Freemasons

How A Man Becomes A Mason- http://www.mainemason.org/becomeone/index.asp

A response to critics of Freemasonry -http://www.masonicworld.com/education/files/apr02/include/a_response_to_critics_of_freemas.htm

Freemasonry and Religion- http://www.masonicworld.com/education/files/artoct02/masonry_and_religion.htm

Is Freemasonry A Religion?- http://www.masonicworld.com/education/files/frapr01.htm

A collection of articles on Freemasonry and Religion- http://www.masonicworld.com/education/files/artjuly01/Freemasonryandreligionpart2.htm

Our Trust Is In God”- http://www.masonicworld.com/education/files/apr02/include/our%20trust%20is%20in%20god.htm

Are Freemasonry and Christianity Compatible?- http://www.masonicworld.com/education/files/christianandfreemacomp.htm

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My rant, followed by More Light By Ed Halpaus

Article "More Light" is below my rant.

I was just speaking with someone today about something similar to the article below, written by Brother Halpaus. I had a customer in my office, they saw my ring and said that their son would be interested in me because I was a Mason. They said that his grandfather was a Mason and never spoke a word about it. The wife said she was trying to find out info for her son so she asked her baptist preacher and he said "it's a cult, he don't want to be involved in that!" It is amazing to me that people speak on things which they know nothing about.

The gentleman the asked me what I could tell him, so I said "Basically, Masonry is a system of teaching, though symbolism and stories, to help us become better men by adhering to the most basic of God's laws: do unto others as you would have done unto yourself, and love your neighbor as yourself." I also to him that it was a support group of like minded men that want to better themselves for God, family, community, and self.
In reference to the article below, I despise when someone quotes something out of context or doesn't give the whole story, so as to warp the point of view to coincide with their ideals.

A show on the history channel last night did just that. It was a show about "Mysteries of the Bible". Somewhere throughout the course of the show they said that "the Bible wasn't clear on why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah." They said that "Perhaps it was because of poor hospitality"??????? Really, poor hospitality????

I then told my wife that it was very clear on why. Then I read heard the story and she knew right away why. She had not read that story before, but it was very easy to figure out!

Anyway, I really felt like they were trying to cover up the reason because it would have been too controversial for TV or didn't coincide with their point of view. At the least extent it would have to do with forceful sex(rape), at the most, one could say homosexuality. Either way it paints a pretty vivid picture that what was being done was wrong in God's eyes. It was very clear. Read the whole story and don't quote things out of context!!!

OK, I'm off my soapbox. Read the article below if you're interested in Albert Pike, anti-masonry, or what I commented on above.

         ML #336     
            Posted by:      "Ed Halpaus"           
       Fri Dec 9, 2011 3:11 pm       

      *Mehr Licht – More Light*
Number 336 – December 09, 2011
Old LEO Letters
By Ed Halpaus
One of the things the anti-Masons seem to like to do is to vilify Brother
Albert Pike: In particular they like to tell anyone and everyone who will
listen that Pike was a devil worshiper, and along with that they also want
to convince the uninformed that Pike and all Masons in general worship a
Masonic god whose name is The Great Architect of the Universe. What they
may or may not realize, and what they don’t want to accept is the truth,
and the truth is that Pike was a Christian, and ‘The Great Architect of the
Universe’ is a interfaith name coined by the Christian theologian John
Calvin (he coined a number of names he used for God), and that Freemasonry
adopted his name or term (The Great Architect of the Universe) for use in
Lodges where Masons of more than one religion may sit in Lodge together.
Using an interfaith name, when Deity is referred to, is a good way to not
promote one religion over another among friends and Brothers; it allows
each man to accept the prayer as his own to the Deity of his religion when
it is given by one Mason on behalf of all of us. The prayer is ended with
the traditional word “Amen” to which all Masons can truthfully reply ‘so
may it be,’ by using an archaic word to say “So Mote It Be.”
Anti-Masons love to proof-text Brother Pike in his book Morals and Dogma.
Sometimes they will quote him, but most of the time they will misquote him
by proof-texting portions of Morals and dogma to make it look like Pike
wrote something he didn’t write. One portion the enemies of Masonry never
quote from pike is found on page 134U (meaning page 134 upper portion of
the page). Page 134 is a part of the 8th Degree of the Ancient Accepted
Scottish Rite of Freemasonry; reading the 8th degree will capture the
attention of any Mason who would read it, and I think, anyone who reads
will want to study that degree and others to learn more. Here is what pike
wrote on page 134U: *“Speak kindly to your erring Brother! God pities him;
Christ has died for him. Providence waits for him: Heaven’s mercy yearns
towards him; and Heaven’s spirits are ready to welcome him back with joy.
Let your voice be in unison with all those powers that God is using for his
recovery!” *
Those words from Brother Pike on page 134U of Morals and Dogma don’t sound
like the words someone would use if they didn’t believe in God and in Pikes
Case his Christian religion.
Don’t believe for one moment the lies and untruths the anti-Masons of the
world – the enemies of Masonry – want everyone to believe. What is true is
that the malarkey and falsities of these anti-Masons cannot stand up to
investigation, but what Masonry is, and stands for, can stand up to
investigation and study. So if you hear something that makes you wonder –
check it out; you’ll enjoy the process – or ask one of your Brothers who
likes to do research and study to help you check it out, you’ll still enjoy
the process as well as the learning that results.
Also don’t believe that Morals and Dogma is a hard or difficult book to
read – it isn’t – any Mason is capable of reading and understanding what
Pike wrote in it; although speed reading and understanding it, doesn’t seem
to work. One can read the book slowly and deliberately with a pen and paper
to take notes etc. and thus enjoy what Pike had to say.
Sadly, it has been reported that one Masonic library has been disposing of
excess copies of Morals and Dogma by destroying them or tossing them into
dumpsters. If you can get one of those copies others no longer want – get
it – and begin to read the book: There’s good information in it. (or Check
with Harold Davidson at brodave@wtp.net for a good used copy, or on-line
for an e-copy of the book.
One final comment: The anti-Masons want everyone to believe that Pike wrote
for all of Freemasonry – that he was and is “The” authority, and all Masons
adhere to his writings; he wasn’t, isn’t, and we don’t. But still his book,
Morals and Dogma, does contain some good information and is a pleasure to
read. When you read it pay particular attention to page ivm (Page iv of the
preface in the middle of the page): *“Every one is entirely free to reject
and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him to be untrue or unsound.”
* Albert Pike, just like the rest of us, wrote for himself only, not for
our entire fraternity; this is another truth the anti-Masons – the enemies
of Masonry – don’t want to accept.
* "The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the
moral order of the world and to the happiness of man, that arguments which
enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much
solicitude to the different characters and capacities impressed with
it."*--James Madison, letter to Frederick Beasley, 1825
James Madison is the 4th President of the United States; he is thought to
be a Mason, but no documentation or proof of his being initiated has been
found. I good book for research into questions like this is “Masonic
Membership of the Founding Fathers” by Ronal Heaton and available from the
Masonic Service Association of North America.
Words to Live by:  *"It is the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at
stated seasons, to worship the SUPREME BEING, the great Creator and
Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or
restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping GOD in the
manner most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his
religious profession or sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public
peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship."* --John Adams,
Thoughts on Government, 1776 –
President John Adams was not a Mason, and even though he is closely linked
with other Founding Fathers who were Masons he was an anti-Mason who wrote
letters as such, and his son President John Quincy Adams was a devout
To subscribe or unsubscribe to Ed’s Masonic emails send your request to
Questions and ideas for Masonic discussions and programs can be found at
www.lodgebuilder.org - just click on the Masonic Monday Question.
*It’s individual Masons who help their Lodge survive and thrive *-* *Ed
Ed Halpaus 32° K.C.C.H., FPS
Grand Lodge Officer
Grand Lodge A.F. &  A.M. of MN
Executive Secretary - The Philalethes Society
763-552-0466 - Home
763-516-4435 - Cell
Skype i.d.- edhalpaus
"No wise person ever wanted to be younger."
Native American Aphorism

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Struggles of an Esoterically Inclined Freemason

The following is an article that I read which I found to be very interesting. It's kind of long, but a good, thought provoking read. I agree with this brother and wish him the best in finding a new lodge that meets his needs.

I agree with the esoterical points and the ideas that are laid out here. I think there needs to be more education and discussion within our regular meetings. Business can be handled quickly and efficently, then move on to other educational aspects of Freemasonry.


The Struggles of an Esoterically Inclined Freemason part 2

The struggles of an esoterically inclined Freemason continue…

After another humiliating defeat at the hands of those who think that younger Masons only goal is to change things for changes sake, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the definition of a lodge and what the term has come to mean.

The lodge in its classical definition is a group of Freemasons from a particular town or neighborhood assembled and chartered by a Grand jurisdiction to perform the degrees of the craft. One of the most confusing things about the term lodge is that it becomes synonymous with the building or place the lodge meets. When masons were actual builders of structures they would often meet at their place of employment to instruct each other, to gain skill and help and support each other. I have always imagined a tent hastily thrown up on the side of a cathedral with masons doing business by candle light. When the first non-builders began entering into the craft there was no central meeting place as we have now and meetings would be held in any place that could properly be guarded from people who were not part of the group. Back then there was no confusion as to the meaning of the term lodge; it simply was the term to call the group, like a congregation or flock.

As more and more non-building masons entered into the fraternity speculative masonry was born. A lodge was no longer a place that men of a particular skill set met and discussed work, it became a place where philosophical and moral allegories replaced the simple building principals and instructions. The main reason this happened, in my opinion, is because that at the time many of these men lived in oppressive and authoritarian societies and the secret modes of recognition of masonry allowed them to be very selective in the company they kept in order to discuss enlightenment ideals that could have easily led them to incarceration and or death at the hands of their oppressors. New members were carefully investigated because if they let in someone of lesser ideals or morals it could literally endanger their lives. It mattered not where you came from or what your place in society was, all that mattered was that you could meet with men of a like mind on the level to expand your understanding of bigger things and help each other out as Brothers. This selective association aspect of a lodge is very important but I will address that later. As the ‘speculative’ masons replaced the ‘operative’ masons they needed a place to meet and since it was not near the place that employed them anymore it became a place that was convenient to the members of the lodge.

Freemasons began to meet in taverns, public houses and coffee rooms and the modern lodge was born. The place where you met almost became as important as the people you met there and the confusion began. A lodge of masons meeting at the Goose and the Gridiron Ale House would be loosely known by the place where they met. As speculative Freemasonry exploded and the separate lodge’s treasuries grew the Masonic temple was born. The men who met regularly as Freemasons wanted a permanent place to carry on their traditions and with a lot of money from its membership they began to build like their predecessors but this time for themselves.

Temples and Halls sprang up around the globe and since the Freemasons who met there were as a group termed a lodge, a Masonic ‘lodge’ took on a whole new definition and existence. The men who met in the lodge became less important and the ‘lodge’ became the focus of attention. The ‘lodge’ was the recipient of grandiose gifts and decorations of its dedicated members and the men of that lodge belonged to the ‘lodge’ and not the group of men who met there. The name and number of the ‘lodge’ you belonged became a badge of honor that you wore on a sleeve and its history and traditions were carried out with sacramental reverence and esteem. It was something a man could attach himself to, if he so wished, to add legacy to his own existence.

Herein lies the problem, when the lodge of Freemasons took on the existence of the ‘lodge’ it became less stringent upon the members and more focused on membership. The temples and halls needed vast amounts of money to operate and in order to accommodate this need a ‘lodge’ brought in as many men as it could and this only exacerbated the problem. A lodge of Freemasons no longer was a group of men who wished to discuss philosophy and morality in a selective and secret environment to help and support each other as brothers, it became a place where a man went to see the rituals of Freemasonry on a grand stage. Lodges with 100’s of men in membership became common and the institutionalization of Freemasonry occurred.

Unfortunately the spirit of the craft was lost in this institutionalization. The ‘lodge’ did things for the ‘lodge’s’ sake and the traditions of each lodge trumped the fraternal communion between Brothers. It was impossible to know and care for such a large group of men which was one of the principal reasons for a lodge of masons to form and the care of the ‘lodge’ became the focus.

When I joined this fraternity I was drawn into it not because of any ties or bonds to a ‘lodge’ but out of a search for the answers to the bigger questions in life. When I knocked on the door of a ‘lodge’ I was quickly lulled into the belief that the ‘lodge’ was the most important thing and that only by building or rebuilding that ‘lodge’ I could then start the quest that I originally began. There was only a small number of men in my ‘lodge’ that even dared to delve into the deeper aspects of the human condition and the majority were very happy to watch or participate in the dramatic aspects of the ritual and never take it to the next level. I existed in this environment with the belief that if only my brothers could save our ‘lodge’ and take part in the rebuilding could they discover the deeper aspects of our craft. This belief led me to experience many different lodges and ‘lodges’ in order to find something that would unite my ‘lodge’ into a lodge. (I am sorry for the confusion.)

This zeal for building led to me making excuses all of the time for some of the men I called brother that I would never associate with outside of Freemasonry. It was an easy exemption to make because I wanted my ‘lodge’ to be the best and in order to be the best we needed as many dues paying members as possible. In six years the amount like minded brothers I gained within my ‘lodge’ was very small and we would talk all of the time of how our common needs and desires not being met by our ‘lodge’. Time is a very precious thing and the only time many of us would finally have these philosophical discussions was after ‘lodge’ and since the more theatrical aspects of Freemasonry take a very long time, sometimes we found ourselves squeezing these conversations into a tiny scrap of time or way too long into the night, neither of which is very efficient or fair to men with families. Our solution to this problem was to try and turn our ‘lodge’ into what we came into Freemasonry for. We convinced ourselves that deep down in every Freemasons heart was this same desire and we believed if they only experienced this esoteric side of the craft the other brothers would join us in our quest.

It took two very humiliating defeats at the hands of the men who did not want to change their ‘lodge’ for me to finally realize that my ‘lodge’ can never become the lodge I wanted to be in. The lodge I was a part of had to meet at a different time than my ‘lodge’ and the dear brothers to whom I wanted to associate with and have the discussions of the deeper things in life were slowly being disillusioned with the fraternity and our ‘lodge’. I mean in no way to put down the men of my ‘lodge’ who do not think my way. They are happy with the Freemasonry that is delivered to them and it was very wrong of me to think that I could change things that they believe are sacred and unchangeable. They love the ‘lodge’ for the ‘lodges’ sake and it was a small group of newcomers with vision and initiative that tried to upset that belief. I have requested a demit from the ‘lodge’ I spent six long years trying to change because of this realization.

My vision of a Masonic lodge is a small group of like minded individuals who wish to explore the deeper meaning of life and to help each other become better men in every way. I believe that the rituals of Freemasonry are a tool to be used to enlighten a new comer or Brother and to test the dedication of the man to the lodge, but they are not the end all be all of the craft. Brotherly love is not something to be handed out flippantly. A man must prove himself worthy of the greater trust that comes with the ever expanding understanding and obligations of the order of Freemasons. Once earned that trust can be used to sit in a selective meeting where men can discuss things that they would not dare to in mixed company and to use the tools of the Freemason to help each other and the world they live in. This will naturally lead to the Brothers in being very selective of who they let into this mystic tie or band of Brothers. When men of a like mind come together in order to do things that improve themselves it will naturally lead them to try and improve the world around them as a unit. Charity should not be something that is forced upon a brother but something that wells up naturally. These are some of the things I believe in and want to dedicate my very valuable free to to.

I am not going to join another ‘lodge’ but I am desperately searching for a lodge. The quest begins anew.

From The North Eastern Corner

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TFS by Ed Halpaus

 TFS #209     
Posted by:      "Ed Halpaus"           
Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:12 pm        (PST)   

*Three, five, and seven*
*3   * *5   * *7*
By Stan Shapiro MD, Grand Lodge Education Officer G.L. of MN
*“Clear thinking requires courage rather than
” Thomas S. Szasz <http://thinkexist.com/quotes/thomas_s._szasz/>*
*The following well written and thought provoking article was sent Hans
Wang, Worshipful Master of Plymouth Lodge #160, is a new member of the
Minnesota Grand Lodge Writers* *Guild. *
* *
*Masonry as a Political Act*
* *
When Ole O. Moen retired from his position as Professor of North American
Studies at the University of Oslo this year, after teaching Norwegian
students about the United States for 32 years, he was asked what he thought
of current trends in America in general. His answer was simply that “for
the first time in history, [we have] a generation of Americans [that] are
dumber than their parents.”
Moen is hardly the first person to hold that opinion. In his 1985 book
“Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business”,
Neil Postman discusses the fact that Americans who were around during the
Lincoln-Douglas debates were fairly sophisticated in terms of their ability
to understand subtle nuances of argument. Postman points out that the two
“consistently drew upon more complex rhetorical resources – sarcasm, irony,
paradox, elaborated metaphors, fine distinctions and the exposure of
Neil Postman spends most of his book discussing how we have become lulled
into a state of apathy by the televised news media, that our future is
Huxleyan rather than Orwellian because, with a placated populace, there is
no need for a Big Brother Government. In later interviews, Postman spoke of
an endless sea of information where individuals become “preoccupied with
some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal
bumblepuppy.” Postman was worried that television brought with it
“misleading information – misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial
information – information that creates the illusion of knowing something,
but which in fact leads one away from knowing.”
*As Freemasons, we have a continuous duty to educate ourselves*. That duty
is emphasized, in particular, during the second degree. Yet education is
not simply knowledge; it also includes knowing how to evaluate the
credibility of various positions and the soundness of the arguments made.
Some have argued that Thomas Young (1773-1829) was the last man to know
everything. When invited to contribute to the Encyclopedia Britannica,
Young offered to assist with the following subjects: “Alphabet, Annuities,
Attraction, Capillary Action, Cohesion, Color, Dew, Egypt, Eye, Focus,
Friction, Halo, Hieroglyphic, Hydraulics, Motion, Resistance, Ship, Sound,
Strength, Tides, Waves, and anything of a medical nature.” In terms of our
duty to educate ourselves, Young is an example of what we as Masons should
aspire to.
The growth of the internet in the years since Postman’s death in 2003 has
brought with it yet another layer of complexity; the idea that every
argument, no matter how illogical, untested or contradictory, somehow has
merit. The problem is that not every argument has merit. During the middle
chamber lecture, Fellowcrafts are informed that “[l]ogic teaches us to
guide our reason discretionally in the general knowledge of things . . .
and in it are employed the faculties of conceiving, judging, reasoning, and
disposing [until] the point in question is finally determined.” If there is
one thing that the internet is particularly good at, it is continuing and
evolving arguments that have no merit yet persistently refuse to die:
zombie arguments.
In a recent issue of the NY Times Sunday Magazine, Stephen Marche reviewed
the film “Anonymous” – a movie that argues, in true Da Vinci Code fashion,
that Shakespeare did not write Shakespeare. Marche observes that “[t]he
Shakespeare controversy” is “one of the origins of the willful ignorance
and insidious false balance that is now rotting away our capacity to have
meaningful discussions. The wider public . . . assumes that if there are
arguments, there must be reasons for those arguments. Along with a
right-wing anti-elitism, an unthinking left-wing open-mindedness and
relativism have also given lunatic ideas soil to grow in. Our politeness
has actually led us to believe that everybody deserves a say.”
*Our duty to educate ourselves is broad, and clearly extends to the
political sphere. Politics with a small “p” has no place in a Masonic Lodge
– and rightfully so, but the act of being a Freemason is itself a Political
Act.* We rarely reflect on this because we live in a society where
Government does not overtly oppress us, but we do not need to look that far
out across our borders or into the history books to find those who believe
that the Masons pose a significant threat. Candidates for Freemasonry, in
our own State, used to be asked whether they espoused Communist leanings as
part of the interview process.
Tolerance, truth, justice and equality are terms frequently used during our
degree work, but how many of us stop to reflect on whether our own
political views actually embody those tenets? How many of us reiterate
arguments we have heard on television without knowing whether there are
facts to back those arguments up? The current economic downturn has ushered
in a sense of powerlessness that Americans have not felt for a long time
and there is enough blame to go around. People on the right blame
politicians, people on the left blame corporations, each only focused on
half of the problem. I am surprised that Freemasons have not been blamed
In the interview with the Norwegian newspaper Finansavisen, that the above
quote is taken from, Ole O. Moen discusses the fact that today’s students
do not bother to memorize anything since it is easy to look up the answer
to just about any question online: “[a]ctual knowledge has become a hurdle
to novel thinking. Instead everyone wants to reinvent the wheel.” Novel
thinking, in Moen’s view, requires knowing what others have done beforehand.
To navigate the sea of information Postman warned us about requires
education and intellectual sophistication. In the end, it does not matter
if you lean to the left or right politically. What does matter is that the
same healthy anti-authoritarian distrust displayed the degrees of Scottish
Rite Masonry also is applied to politics in general – that we as Masons
question those who deal in absolutes the same way we question authority in
general. Sometimes authority comes in the form of a leader who “flings his
corsair into the scales” to quote from the ninth degree, other times it
comes in the form of oceans of disinformation intended to pacify and
placate. Regardless of how authority manifests itself, our duty to educate
ourselves about it endures: a Political Act.
Hans Wang, Worshipful Master – Plymouth Lodge #160 2011
*Words to Live By: “Thinking is the hardest and most exhausting of all
labor; and hence many people shrink from it.” Wallace D. Wattles
* *
* *
If you have any comments, suggestions, or questions, please send them to
The Education Videos by our education committee can be viewed at:
The latest Masonic Monday Question, and some of the past questions, can be
viewed at www.Lodgebuilder.org  and at  www.mn-masons.org
Ed Halpaus 32° K.C.C.H., FPS
Grand Lodge Officer
Grand Lodge A.F. &  A.M. of MN
Executive Secretary - The Philalethes Society
763-552-0466 - Home
763-516-4435 - Cell
Skype i.d.- edhalpaus
"No wise person ever wanted to be younger."
Native American Aphorism

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Masonic Presidential Campaign

A Masonic President
The Campaign Of 1896
S. Dennis Phillips, 32°
The presidential campaign of 1896 clearly illustrates the diversity and high quality of the men who are drawn to Masonry.
Born in 1860 in Salem, Illinois, William Jennings Bryan (right above) grew up in an active Democratic family. He graduated from Illinois College as valedictorian and delivered his address on character. Bryan proceeded on to Union College of Law and in 1883 and opened his practice in Jacksonville, Illinois. In 1887 he moved his practice to Lincoln, Nebraska, where the outgoing, high-spirited young lawyer joined several organizations including Lincoln Lodge No. 14 on April 15, later affiliating with Temple Lodge No. 247, Miami, Florida. From Lincoln, Bryan began his ascent up the political ladder.

William McKinley (left above) was born in 1843 in Niles, Ohio. Young McKinley attended Allegheny
College, but due to illness and his father’s financial problems, he was unable to continue his studies. He was clerking in a post office in an effort to raise the money to continue his education when the Civil War broke out. McKinley enlisted in the twenty-third Ohio and, due to his excellent service, was mustered out as a brevet major in 1865. At the end of the war, McKinley, who was visiting an army hospital, noticed the friendliness with which a Union surgeon treated some wounded Confederates. After some inquiry, McKinley found that the wounded southerners and the surgeon were Freemasons. He soon made known his desire to join a fraternity with such strong bonds of brotherhood. The future President was raised a Master Mason in Hiram Lodge No. 21, Winchester, Virginia, by a Confederate chaplain, J. B. T. Reed, as Worshipful Master.

On re-entering civilian life, McKinley entered Albany Law School and, upon passing the bar examination, set up practice in Canton, Ohio. There, like Brother Bryan, he, too, began to ascend the political ladder. In 1896 when the Republicans gathered in St. Louis to nominate their presidential candidate, McKinley, then Governor of Ohio, was the clear favorite and became the Republican presidential nominee standing on a platform anchored by a gold standard plank.

When the Democrats gathered in Chicago, there was no such clear-cut front runner. The closest there
was to a favorite was Richard P. Bland of Missouri. No one seemed to consider William Jennings Bryan a serious candidate. That all changed during debate on a free silver plank when Bryan delivered what is arguably his most famous political speech, which he closed with one of the most famous lines in American history: "You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind on a cross of gold." After this speech, it was only a matter of
time, and on the fifth ballot Brother Bryan became the presidential nominee of
the Democratic Party.

In the campaign that followed, the styles of the two candidates were as
different as their political philosophies. McKinley knew that, when it came to
oratorical power and stage presence, he was no match for his much younger opponent.
He decided that rather than try to match Bryan, he would conduct a frontporch
campaign and speak only to those who visited him at his Canton, Ohio,
home. In fact, except for two non-political commitments he had made before the
convention and a one-week rest break in August, McKinley stayed in Canton
throughout the campaign.

Fortunately for McKinley, his campaign manager, Mark Hanna, and the National Republican Party
were not so passive. Hanna raised huge sums of money from Wall Street interests terrified of a Bryan presidency, and the Republican National Committee arranged transportation to Canton for thousands of people, all
potential or actual contributors, from across the country. On one day alone in September, special trains brought over 20,000 people to Canton to hear and see McKinley.
Bryan, on the other hand, had very little money to work with and had to contend with a national party
lacking strong unity. His greatest asset was his own stamina and oratorical brilliance. While his Republican opponent stayed home, Bryan put in 18-hour days, traveled thousands of miles, and made almost three thousand speeches. At one point in Delaware, the strain became too much, and Bryan collapsed but was fully recovered and ready to go the next morning.

On Election Day, McKinley continued the Republican domination of the
White House, but by the barest of margins. The Republican candidate won less than
51% of the vote, and Bryan carried five more states than did McKinley. On the
other hand, McKinley’s Electoral College margin was fairly comfortable.
The two Masons would face each other again in 1900 with McKinley again
coming out the winner. Then in 1901, President McKinley was felled by an assassin’s
bullet. During his tenure in office, McKinley led the country through an era of
great change, and, more importantly, he began the process of making the United
States into a world power.

Bryan, who many consider the founder of the modern Democratic Party,
continued his service to the nation until his death in 1925 at Dayton, Tennessee. In 1908, he was, for the third time, the Democratic nominee for President, served President Woodrow Wilson as Secretary of State from 1913 to 1915, and throughout his life, he remained the dominate figure in the Democratic Party.

Brothers William Jennings Bryan and William McKinley, two men in a line of many Masons who
dedicated their lives to their country, and two men of which our Fraternity can be truly proud.
-- The Scottish Rite Journal, August 1999

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Plumb, Level and Square

The Plumb, Level and Square

The Plumb teaches Integrity; Liberty.
The Level teaches Fidelity; Equality.
The Square teaches Sincerity; Fraternity.

The Test of our Integrity and Fidelity is our conduct in our relations to God, our neighbors, and ourselves. If we are not Fraternal (Square), in our relations we are lacking in Integrity, or Fidelity, or both.

Thoughts on the Second Degree.
In the First Degree of Masonry every Mason learns the lesson of Personal Liberty and the necessity for Individual Effort, upon his part, to subdue his evil propensities.

In the Second Degree he is taught the Principles of Masonry, or Construction, or Building. The man whose eyes have not been opened to the meaning of the symbols used can only see, in this degree, certain fundamental principles of Architecture. AH that is said upon this subject might be published broadcast, put into the hands of both the evil-minded, and the well intentioned, without restriction; and, if the Spiritual Truths behind the Symbols were not apprehended, neither Good nor Evil results would follow.

But, to the Intelligent Freemason, the Plumb, the Level and the Square, the Orders of Architecture, the Principles of Construction, the Symbolic Meanings of all of these things, comes New Light. Herein he discovers, by making the Individual Effort, those Secrets of Nature which are veiled from the eyes of those who sit in Darkness.
Herein the Illuminated Mason finds the Key to Individual Progress, and the Interpretations of Designs which the Great Architect of the Universe has drawn upon His Trestle-Board, for the Guidance of the Children of Light.

Happy is the Mason who has learned the lessons of the First Degree so well that he understands. Happier still is he who has apprehended the teachings of the Second Degree so fully that he can apply them intelligently to the Building of his Moral Character. It is important that the evil within us should be brought under Subjection to Reason, but, unless we go further and Build upon a Firm Foundation, using the Plumb, the Level and the Square in our Work, following the Plans on The Trestle-Board of the Great Architect; there can be no advancement made, because Character is only formed by Masonic, or Constructive Endeavor.

Taken from: Thoughts Inspired by the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite Degrees, Published by Edgar A. Russell Company, 1919

Monday, November 28, 2011

This article was originally published in The Philalethes, July 1946, Volume 1, Number 3.
By Sidney E. Harris, MPS

The Greek had an ideal and it was the man perfect in body, mind, and soul. He was a friend, not a recluse; did not sit on a pedestal and talk down to the people.
Luke 7:s4: "The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a
winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!" He had a perfect mental poise and was unafraid. Luke 8 records that Jesus slept in a boat and it was about to sink. The disciples woke Him; they were in great terror. Jesus rebuked the waves and there was great calm, and He said unto them: "Where is your faith?" And they, being afraid, said one to another: "What manner of man is this, for He commandeth the wind and waves and they obey Him."

A Samaritan village refused to receive Him; the disciples, like some of our politicians of today wanted
to have destruction rain upon them. But Jesus said (Luke 9:55): "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives but to save them."
The fundamentalists of His day, the Scribes and Pharisees, sought to destroy Him. So He entered into
the home of Zachaeus, the taxgatherer, and said (Luke 19): "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."

When the rulers brought Jesus to cynical Pilate, he said: "I find no fault in Him."
Being a man does not mean being a bully. It does not mean being objectionable by indulging in habits that make other people uncomfortable. One time Horace Greely met a drunken congressman who said he was a self-made man. Greely replied: "That relieves God of a great deal of responsibility."

We read that God created man in His own image and likeness. This refers to God's intellectual and moral nature, and also to His conception of what man should be. Sin came as the result of man's free choice. We cannot say moral choice, for as yet he had no experience of sin.
Theodore Parker, seeking to express the idea that every individual has his limitations, says "No man is as great as mankind."

The movies picture a great man as one whose life is filled with glamor; but this is most certainly untrue to life. Goethe says: "One cannot always be a hero; but one can always be a man."
Being a man is something that is supremely difficult. A true man has the strength, the vigor, the self-reliance of the male; the gentleness, the true refinement, and the sympathy and compassion of the female. Bailey says: "Let each one of us think himself an act of God, his mind a thought, his life a breath of God."

A true man is manly and self-reliant without bluster; temperate in all things without being offensive; calm without being cold and indifferent. He is courteous and cultured; endowed with a proper appreciation of the niceties and refinements of conduct, and yet always able to accommodate himself to the limitations of others. He is one who, nevertheless, never loses sight of the inner meaning of personal purity, integrity, truth, justice, and brotherly love. He lives his life as in the sight of God and always has a deep and abiding consciousness of eternity.

Kipling, in his poem "If," gives a very fine definition of the true man. One thing that needs to be constantly emphasized, and that is the true man's unconquerable spirit. "If you cannot meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors
just the same."

Being a man means having a body that is the embodiment of health; that is clean and vigorous. I am not forgetting that there are people who are handicapped; but even those can make the best of what they have.

Being a man means standing up and facing the world fearless and unafraid; it means doing our duty under all circumstances, regardless of consequences. It means accepting fully all the implications of the word "Brotherhood."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Big Uproar in Michigan Masonry.

GL of Michigan Withdraws Recognition of Shrine

The Grand Master of Michigan, MW Frederick E. Kaiser, Jr., has withdrawn official recognition of the Shrine there, and it has been declared clandestine and illegal. Michigan Masons may not attend tyled Shrine meetings in that state.

The problem stems from a Mason who was expelled by the Grand Master in July for conviction of a crime punishable by incarceration of one or more years, and per Michigan's Masonic rules. Unfortunately, the Elf Khurafeh Shrine and the Imperial Shrine (Shriners International) in Tampa didn't agree and kept the suspended Mason as a full member of the Shrine. A slight complication: he's the current Potentate. He pled guilty to possessing and operating gambling devices, and probably won't be sentenced until February. However, since he did plead guilty, the GM expelled him. The Shrine did not.


From the GM's letter of November 23rd:

The expelled Mason, by action of Elf Khurafeh Shrine, headquartered in Saginaw, Michigan continues to be a member and Potentate of that Shrine. Elf Khurafeh’s action to retain him was subsequently upheld by the Imperial Potentate. This situation exists despite the reputed requirement that a member of the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of
the Mystic Shrine (Shriner’s International) must also be a Mason in good standing.

Discussion was initiated with the Imperial Potentate, and counsel for the Imperial Shrine. The Grand Lodge of Michigan explained its position, and requested that the Imperial Potentate reconsider his decision, given information previously unavailable to him. Unfortunately for all concerned and with heavy heart, I must state that no modification of
his position, nor of Elf Khurafeh Shrine’s, has occurred.

Elf Khurafeh Shrine and the Imperial Potentate have failed to adhere to their own Shrine law, by retaining a non-Mason in their ranks. They have also failed to honor their obligations under Michigan Masonic Law. Therefore, acting under § of Michigan Masonic Law, the Grand Lodge of Michigan hereby withdraws formal recognition of the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Shriner’s International) as a Masonic organization in the State of Michigan. The relevant sections of Michigan Masonic Law are as follows:

§3.8.2: Any and all organizations, associations, or persons within the State of Michigan, professing to have
any authority, power or privileges in Ancient Craft Masonry, not fraternally recognized by this Grand Lodge, are
declared to be clandestine and illegal, and all Masonic intercourse with any of them is prohibited.

§ All Master Masons under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Michigan who hold membership in
Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine are forbidden to attend tiled Shrine meetings when there is in
attendance a suspended or expelled Mason.

It is therefore my order that no Mason who holds membership in a Michigan Lodge, or in a Lodge chartered by a recognized Grand Lodge who resides or sojourns in Michigan, may (1) attend any nonpublic function of any Shrine in Michigan or (2) have any Masonic interaction of any kind with any Shrine organization in Michigan. Furthermore, no Shrine function or activity will be afforded a special privilege not afforded any other unrelated organization that is allowed to use a building dedicated to Masonic purposes, or on the grounds of a building so dedicated.

Violation of these provisions by a Mason under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Michigan is punishable by charges of un-Masonic conduct.

Arguments with Grand Masters don't generally turn out well.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Transfer Of Membership

I just wanted to let everyone know that Saturday night was a new experience for me in Masonry. A little over a month ago I put in a petition to transfer membership to another lodge. When I first petitioned to become a Mason I lived in a different town, I have sinced moved to another town. The home lodge town that I lived in is about 25 minutes away from me now and the current town lodge is about 5 minutes away from me.

I felt bad about the petition to transfer at first, feeling like I was letting my home lodge and brothers down. I talked to a few other brothers and the Master of my home lodge. After extensive and careful thought, I realized that I just could not contribute to lodge or Masonry with being that far from my lodge and that a closer lodge would be better for me and the Craft.

I turned in my petition with the help of a brother from the lodge to which I wanted to transfer. I already knew some of the brothers in this lodge as some of them conferred and participated in my degrees.

I got to say, I was a little nervous for some reason. I knew they we voting on it Saturday and I wanted to be there. When it came time, the Master asked me to step out of the lodge room. I went out and talked to the Tyler for a bit. I heard some discussion going on inside the lodge room and it made me more nervous. I though "what could they be saying in there??" A few minutes went by and they came and got me. I went back in and the welcomed and congratulated me. I was a great feeling and I want to let everyone know that I am now a member of Cookeville, TN Lodge 266, Grand Lodge of Tennessee.

I am excited about being a member here, they are a very active and growing lodge with informational and educational classes and activities. This is truly the lodge that I have been looking for.

Thanks to the brothers at my new lodge and I look forward to learning and fellowshipping with you.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Traveling - Something I don't do enough.

Traveling to other lodges is a really fun an interesting thing to do if you have the time to do it. Especially in a different state.

I live in Tennessee and a several months ago I had the privilege to visit a lodge in Missouri. I am from Missouri and still go there quite often to visit family and friends.

I was really happy the day that my brother ask me about Masonry. I let him lead and just answered questions, trying to contain my excitement. After a few visits and discussions I thought that he would make a great Mason. I contacted the local lodge and set up a meeting.

The guys at the Shekinahlodge 256 in Crystal City, Missouri were very hospitable. We sat down very casually and chatted for a while. They have a great library and a beautiful lodge room, very ornate.
We got a petition, filled it out and turned it in right there. I went back to Tennessee and waited, impatiently, for the process to unfold. A few weeks went by and the Master of the lodge emailed me and told me that he had been voted in. The feeling I had was indescribable. My older brother following in my footsteps and in Masonry at that. Awesome!!!

Anyway, after several emails back and forth with the Master, I was able to arrange a trip to be present at my favorite degree, the Fellowcraft, of my brother's. When we got there and started lodge, I notice several differences in the order of things and wording, though it all meant the same thing.

They had two brothers going through that night. They asked my if I wanted to be a part of my brother's degree, and without hesitation I said yes. Then I got a little nervous as to the differences in wording and other things. I was Senior Deacon in my lodge, but there is no way I could have done it there. So they said I could be a Steward. They let my brother go second, that way I could just watch the first and get a feel for the differences.

Needless to say, with some help from the other Steward, I made it through. When my brother was brought to Light and saw me standing behind the Master, I could see his excitement as I'm sure he saw mine. He had no clue until that point that I would be participating in the degree.

Well, after it was all over, they asked me to stand up and say a few words. I thanked them all and told them that it was such an honor to participate. I also told them about the differences from Tennessee to Missouri, I shared some of our Catechism with them to show how even with differences in wording, the meaning was still the same.

Needless to say, it was an awesome visit and I plan on going there when I go to Missouri to visit my friends and family. Of course, those guys are my family as well, and they treated me as such from the very beginning. Please go visit a lodge if you can.

Here is an article I saw on the web, please read it.

Lodge as Lab Part 3: Let's travel!!!

Corinthian Lodge claims the great traveling sword of Faribault

In my continuing quest to help out Masters and other lodge officers in coming up with great ideas, I will discuss yet another important task that we took at Corinthian Lodge No. 67 during my year as Master. One project that we took upon ourselves was to meet other lodges throughout our area. The reason is that as Master Masons, we are encouraged to travel as much as possible to different lodges.

Traveling is an essential part of being a Mason. I was told by my grandpa, who was a railroad man, that during the end of the 19th and the start of the 20th centuries, railroad men would meet brothers whenever the crew would come into town, even if the lodge was not meeting on that day. The tracks were a fraternal lifeline connecting brothers from the beginning of their trip to the end. That's why many lodges were built near a railway station, as a welcoming spot for visiting brethren.

During my year in the East, we traveled to many different lodges. We didn't just limit ourselves to only the district but attempted to travel to as many different lodges as we had time for. You see, Minnesota is blessed to have many different types of lodges. We have a Traditional Observance lodge (Saint Paul Three), a British-style Lodge (Sir Winston Churchill Lodge No. 351), and a moon lodge (Accacia Lodge No. 51) just to name a few.

Traveling is a right, a couched right to be sure, but a right nonetheless. Traveling gains you new perspectives, new friends, and a new feeling of Masonic spirit. Before I took the East, we, as a lodge, rarely left Farmington. Farmington was home but sometimes, you gotta branch out and experience the wider world. And that's what we did.

Traveling has added benefits for a lodge. When you travel to a lodge, you become a representative of your lodge. If you represent your lodge well, you can create a connection, a bond with the lodge you visit. When we traveled to other lodges, invariably, we would get one or two guys to travel back to our lodge. As we traveled and shared ideas, we started something more. Lodges worked together on projects, success stories were shared, and we all became better men.

Have you traveled lately? Does your lodge have a travel schedule? What are your experiences in traveling as a lodge? Leave a comment.

 Thanks for the article Millenial Freemason