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Friday, October 28, 2016

Addressing Clandestine Freemasonry: Why It's Important

I'm going to be a blatant fanboy with this post about a Brother each and every one of you needs to know.

WB E. Oscar Alleyne made a whirlwind trip to Oslo, Norway, Rochester, NY, and then Indianapolis earlier this week - an astonishing feat that is frankly exhausting to even contemplate for most of us. Despite little sleep over those several days (and having to be back in New York by 9AM for a meeting on Wednesday morning), he gave a remarkable presentation at Lodge Vitruvian No. 767 on Tuesday night (above). His topic was Clandestine Freemasonry.

I will not exaggerate: Oscar's presentation needs to be heard far and wide, in lodges, districts, and grand lodges. Far more important, it should be seen and heard at the Conference of Grand Masters in North America, AND the Conference of Grand Masters Prince Hall Masons, no matter how uncomfortable the subject may be to some. And I mean that with all sincerity and insistency. If you are reading this and are involved in the programming for either of those national conferences, I strongly urge you to put him on the program next February for all attendees.

"Clandestine Freemasonry" is probably one of the most misunderstood terms we casually sling around in the Masonic world, and in many corners, it results in a highly charged confrontation. We mention it obliquely in our obligation, and then never officially refer to it, or even define it, ever again. As Oscar's presentation made evident Tuesday night, while it is overwhelmingly an artifact in the African-American community, it is by no means just isolated there (he showed a list of no fewer than 70 such groups in the US that are predominantly made up of caucasian or Hispanic men).

What makes his talk of such importance to us all is multi-layered. He explains the breadth and ancestry of the situation starting with the initiation of Prince Hall and his 14 compatriots and the issuing of a regular charter to them by the premiere Grand Lodge of England, up through the various schisms within that sphere, their National Compact experiment and breakaway groups, and finally what has become the many self-created national, state, and local organizations and individual, independent lodges. So, for those Masons who know little or nothing about this world, he goes from zero to 60 in less than an hour.

But he also shows how all of this is extremely important to each of us. The Internet in particular has made it all too easy for these clandestine groups to sign on to LegalZoom, file a proper notice of incorporation with the Secretary of State's office with the correct paperwork, pick up a copy of Duncan's at the bookstore, buy a blank charter and a stack of very impressive grand officer aprons and jewels from Macoy's or an online Pakistani embroidery company, pick out dazzling Masonic rings, start a lavish website, and print out posters inviting folks to come on down to the rented Masonic lodge (once owned by a legitimate lodge or even grand lodge, but sold years ago) on Saturday with their $1000 check and be a 33° Mason that night. They'll have a dues card, and they'll have all of the right words and signs. (Just as an aside, what makes their process any different from one of our own One Day Classes that take them "from sidewalk to Shrine" in a dozen hours, I'm not entirely certain. But I digress.) 

Only after those men try to interact with regular, recognized Masons do they discover, too late, that no, they cannot visit lodges all over the world (or town), and their dues card won't really get them out of jail.

Many of these groups often engage in severe hazing practices, such as punching blindfolded candidates, branding, actual blood letting, and far worse. Petitions that contain releases to hold the organization harmless from liability if the candidate is injured are common. Their members frequently tell of fees, dues, insurance premiums and fines costing thousands of dollars a year. When they encounter mainstream and PHA lodge members and are rebuffed, or if they complain about the hazing, they are told that "those regular guys" will do a whole lot worse to them if they try to join us instead. 

One of the largest, the International Free and Accepted Modern Masons, Inc., is principally an extremely successful money-making scheme (as are many others). They are frequently depicted as wearing a Masonic apron along with a Shrine fez. The Internationals pay their members a bounty for bringing in new recruits and require payment into what is a massive pyramid scheme. Like many of the larger clandestine groups, they have a board of directors and officers like President and CEO, instead of grand lodge line officers and trustees. They have a large and active Eastern Star "Department" and youth groups. They do often operate very visible charities in some communities. 

After numerous lawsuits, they were forced to change their trademark from a standard S&C by adding a key underneath it. It is not uncommon for their members (and many other clandestine "Masons") to shake hands with an unsuspecting regular Mason while "trying" him with a ritual question, then snatch the Masonic ring from his finger, telling him he's "not worthy."

How pervasive is this problem for us all, ultimately? Well, the Master of Vitruvian went to the Indianapolis airport to pick up Oscar Tuesday, and because they didn't know each other, he wore a ball cap with a S&C on it. Before Oscar arrived, two black men walked up to him and started openly displaying due guards and signs at him, giving him the grip. For a moment, he thought perhaps Oscar had sent them ahead just to fool with him. But no, when he asked their affiliation, it was an organization he had never heard of.

Oscar fully understands this situation. He spent 14 years as an active member of a clandestine New York "grand lodge," a town (and state) that is filled with these groups. It was only when he started asking questions and investigating that he found out just what he had joined. Oscar is not some bumpkin, by anyone's metric. He just simply didn't know, and no one ever explained it, in person, in lodge, or online. And there are thousands of men just like him all over the country. It is a vast underground culture that uses our symbols, our literature, our rituals, and our reputation, to make money and defraud unsuspecting men. 

One of the principal reasons they have gotten away with it is our historic institutionalized racism. For over two centuries, state grand lodges openly said black men couldn't be Masons at all (that whole "freeborn" business made it easy to pervert the meaning). And even if they let it slip that black men could be Masons, well, that Prince Hall lodge downtown was where they had to go. Likewise, PHA lodges often told white men looking for Masonic membership to go elsewhere.

I'm not flogging anyone over the past, but the future starts right now. Even in the 42 US jurisdictions that share recognition with their PHA counterparts, there is a prevailing attitude on the part of BOTH organizations that if you are a "man of color," the Prince Hall world is really their "proper" destination. Lodges on both sides have not largely desegregated, and joint recognition has in its own way been harmful by simply enforcing our separation, generally unknowingly and with the best of intentions, and most often out of our own confusion and discomfort in addressing the complex question of race in this country.

As Oscar points out, the African-American clandestine groups thrive, in part, by turning our own past history on its ear now. When their members are turned away by a local mainstream lodge or rebuffed by regular Masons on Facebook and elsewhere, it must be because of "racism," not their lack of regularity, and the "I told you not to go there" admonitions fall trippingly from the tongue. Their Masters and Grand Masters will ask their members, "If you're drowning and give a distress call, will those so-called Masons come and save you? If you are broken down by the side of the road and give a sign, will they stop for you?"
But what is more concerning are the outward signs of this phenomenon. 

In New York City, it is common for literally a dozen or more of the phony Masonic groups to march in parades, proudly sporting their flashy regalia, and carrying banners to draw in potential members. They sometimes operate charities that are highly regarded in the community.

In a photo (right) released by his attorney when he was accused of complicity in Michael Jackson's death, Doctor Conrad Murray was wearing a grand lodge jewel that proclaimed him to be the "Grand Medical Director" to prove he was somehow "connected" and a "high-ranking Mason" to the outside world. His Masonic background was explored by news sites like Fox and People Magazine. Never mind that he held that position in a phony "grand lodge" that solely encompassed the metropolitan area of Houston, Texas. Such distinctions are ignored or simply never spotted or known by non-Masons (and even by many Masons themselves). The Jackson family alleged Murray was part of a Masonic cabal that controlled the music business who had ordered Jackson's murder, and the jewel in the picture "proved" that. Because many hip hop stars refer to Masonic symbolism or use it in their stage shows and album artwork, it becomes harder to just shrug off this nonsense.

Starting in 2015, a story hit the news from southern California about the arrest of three people in connection with impersonating law enforcement officers, and proclaiming themselves to be part of a "Masonic Police Department." In their trial appearance (below) that was covered by the Associated Press and other news outlets, "Absolute Supreme Sovereign Grandmaster" David Inkk Henry, Brandon Kiel, and Tonette Hayes proudly sported their Masonic regalia. Hayes wore a jeweled Shrine pin and a minister's collar, while Kiel and Henry wore their grand officer collars. 

In a bizarre video released by Hayes around the same time (that has since disappeared from YouTube), he defended his activities from the criticism by other Masons and said that anyone who did not understand his actions needed to consult their own grand master for clarification.

In neither case did reporters, prosecuting attorneys, or law enforcement contact the regular, recognized grand lodges of their states for information, or even to check their claims of association. They don't largely because Freemasons are all thought to be just part of just one, same, big, happy, secretive, global treehouse. Regularity and recognition are arcane and meaningless to everyone but us.

Starting in the 1980s and 90s, the late historian and author Joseph A. Walkes, Jr. helped to establish the Phylaxis Society to specifically research issues and history surrounding Prince Hall Freemasonry. At that time, much misinformation and even less authentic research material existed about their unique and historic branch of US Freemasonry, and the Phylaxis Society under Walkes' early leadership provided a haven for Masonic scholarship. 

As part of their mission, they embarked on a daunting task that was astonishing in an age before computerized, online public records. They went state by state, and often into municipalities, and researched the incorporation records for what became the Joseph A. Walkes, Jr. Commission on Bogus Masonic Practices to identify the hundreds of phony organizations in the US claiming to be Masonic. 

The list is now ten years out of date, and hasn't kept up with the most recent proliferation of these instant lodges and grand lodges, but it is a good starting point for anyone wanting to get a taste of just how massive the problem really is. Check your own state. Illinois and New York have in the several hundreds, and there are thousands nationwide.

At the very least, EVERY SINGLE regular, recognized grand lodge in the U.S. should have a menu item on its website defining "clandestine" Freemasonry (and acknowledging its existence in the first place), explaining why regularity is important for potential petitioners, AND if a man is ALREADY a member of a clandestine group, how he can join a regular, recognized one. If your grand lodge has a specific process for such men (retaking the obligations of all three degrees, a simple "healing" by the Grand Master, a committee hearing with the candidate, or even completely starting from scratch and retaking the degrees completely - or some other option), your website should openly spell it out. We need to address the problem, not ignore it, because this is a much larger and more widespread phenomenon than most of us understand - more such organizations pop up every week, in every state. Members of these groups CAN be brought into our fraternity family, and we make a big mistake by not telling them how. And if your grand lodge does NOT have a process, you should formulate one. 

If you happen to be in one of the nine PHA jurisdictions left that is not recognized by its mainstream counterpart, you STILL need to address this problem - maybe even more than everyone else, because these groups use the historical racism of the past to flourish in your own backyards. The lack of joint recognition only bolsters their arguments, and they cannot be as easily refuted, solely becuase of the current situation there. If for no other reason, BOTH of the regular grand lodges in each of those states need to stop ignoring each other, finally leave the old bigotry and distrust in the past where it belongs, and find common ground.

I'll wrap this up, but I strongly urge all regular, recognized jurisdictions to invite Oscar, and more important, to invite members of their state or PHA counterparts, as well as the general public. Cast a wide net and make special attempts to encourage attendees from these clandestine groups to attend, as well. It can open their eyes, as Oscar's own eyes were opened. Moreover, consider the very important demographic he represents: he is young, African-American, extremely educated (a doctor of epidemiology in New York) and well traveled, he was once a member of a clandestine Masonic lodge himself, and is now extremely active and respected in the Grand Lodge of New York. He has walked a path that many of these men have themselves. He will appeal to the very men we seek in our own lodges, and who most of our grand officers freely admit they do not fully understand. Oscar does. 

I'm not his shill or booking agent. I get nothing by promoting his message. But please consider adding him to your upcoming Masonic program. It's vital to us all to pay attention to his message and to fully understand an issue we are all obligated to fight.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Homosexual Ban Remains in GL of Georgia

A resolution to remove the language banning homosexuals from Freemasonry in the Grand Lodge of Georgia F&AM's Code has failed late Tuesday afternoon. The resolution lost in a close 231-247 vote at the annual communication today.

There was a possibility that the failed resolution could be reconsidered and voted on again at Wednesday's session, but that did not happen.

From all reports, MW Drew Lane, Grand Master for 2015-16, did an outstanding job of running the proceedings with great dignity, fairness, and understanding. It could have been a highly contentious situation when the legislation came to the floor, and that did not happen. I also understand that one Past Grand Master made a passionate and persuasive statement in favor of the proposed bill that changed some minds.

At this time, the grand lodges of Georgia and Tennessee are the only two regular Masonic jurisdictions that have regulations in their codes that prohibit homosexuals from membership.

Earlier this year, grand lodges of California, the District of Columbia, and Belgium all withdrew amity with Georgia because of the edict and subsequent approval by the voting members affirming the homosexual ban, and numerous other grand lodges around the US and the rest of the Masonic world issued various statements condemning Georgia and Tennessee.

The Grand Lodge of Tennessee also had amity withdrawn by DC, CA and Belgium for its own homosexual ban, although that rule had been in place for over 30 years and had only recently been enforced.

Georgia and Tennessee Masons seeking regular, recognized, alternative membership options outside of the state that do not have residency requirements, SEE THIS POST.

For the complete background on this issue, SEE HERE.

UPDATED 10/26/2016

Monday, October 24, 2016

History of Freemasonry in Indiana: A Favor

I have been tasked with writing a new history of the Grand Lodge of Indiana F&AM, concentrating especially on the last 50 years. So, I have a great favor to ask of Freemasons throughout the state of Indiana, but I am intentionally casting a wider net than just posting on the appropriate Facebook pages or a blurb in our magazine. 

The late, esteemed Masonic author, Dwight L. Smith, who served as our Grand Secretary for over four decades, wrote the definitive chronicle of the Grand Lodge, Goodly Heritage, for our 150th anniversary in 1968. While my book will certainly encompass that first century and a half, I have no intention or desire to reinvent the wheel of Dwight's making. He spent two decades researching and 12 years writing it while he edited the then-monthly Indiana Freemason Magazine, and I would be fooling myself to believe I could similarly cover that same period in the kind of detail he did.

In addition, an earlier work, A History of Freemasonry in Indiana from 1806 to 1898, was written by Daniel McDonald, and it too provides great detail of earlier years. 

So, my principal task is to tell the story of the fraternity in Indiana between 1968 and today. And this is where my favor comes in. If your lodge has had a history compiled for a major anniversary or building dedication or other such event, I would very much appreciate a copy. If your lodge has been through what your members considered a time or event of great change or upheaval or improvement or innovation or catastrophe, especially in the last half century, I would like to have that information. Even if you are an individual Indiana Mason and you believed you experienced something that would be important enough to include in the book, feel free to pass that along, as well. 

All of that goes for appendant bodies in Indiana, as well. While the book will primarily be about Craft Freemasonry in our state, I would also like to include references to appendant groups that didn't make it into Dwight's book. The other bodies have influenced and affected Masonry in and out of the state, and they were mostly ignored in the two previous major works.

Likewise, if you or your lodge or appendant organization are NOT in Indiana, but took part in an event that happened in Indiana or that involved Indiana Masons specifically, and you believe it might be of interest to readers or future researchers, please send that to me, as well.

I've been waist deep in research for a year already, but these types of histories and anecdotes are difficult to come by, outside of what I have personally collected myself, or what we have in the Masonic Library & Museum of Indiana. So, I would deeply appreciate any contribution anyone would care to provide. 

I need to completely finish the entire project by next September in order to get it prepared for the printer to have it printed, bound, boxed, shipped, and ready for Founders' Day on January 13th, 2018. So, if you believe you have something for me, please forward it while you're thinking about it. 

My email address is hodapp@aol.com and do me a favor by putting "HISTORY" in the email header so I can easily spot it.

Thanks in advance, Brethren.

Anti-Masonic Comic Creator Jack Chick Dies

A chapter - albeit, a small one - has closed in the bizarre world of anti-Masonry. According to his Facebook page, comic book religious tract artist Jack T. Chick joined the Choir Invisible yesterday at the age of 92.

Chick was a California evangelist who took up the pen and brush against any religious belief, tradition, or philosophy that was at odds with his own brand of evangelical Protestantism. Over five decades, his company purportedly distributed more than 750 million of his tiny comic books (once described by media critic Steven Brill as "religious pornography") that railed against Catholicism, Judaism, Mormonism, Islam, homosexuals, divorce, Dungeons & Dragons, Harry Potter, Freemasonry, and many others, at less than two bits apiece.  He eventually published more than 150 different titles in 100 languages.

He was especially savage towards Roman Catholicism (referring to the communion host as a "death cookie"), and blamed many of the world's problems on that faith, including the Ku Klux Klan (!), the Holocaust, and world Communism.

Unsuspecting "sinners" often found these little gems of paranoia, brimstone, and hatred tucked under their windshield wipers, stuck between the beans in the canned vegetable aisle, or jammed into the seat pocket on their vacation flight. Sadly, some even made their way into care packages sent to U.S. troops overseas.

"Oops! There's Baphomet again!"

In the Masonic world, his tracts That's Baphomet?, The Curse of Baphomet (now out of print)and The Unwelcome Guest were notorious for perpetuating the 19th century Leo Taxil hoax, among other hoary whoppers. Albert Pike got strategically misquoted (or just plain had quotes invented), "Satan" took up residence in lodge meetings, the Eastern Star ladies were accused of witchcraft, and even Shriners got a swipe for their red fezzes, because, according to Chick, the Muslims originally dipped them into the blood of Christians. 

Unfortunately, the pervasiveness of his little booklets perpetuated this madness to an unsuspecting public, and plenty of Masons over the years have had to answer questions from nervous friends and relatives who got their delusional information straight out of Chick's tracts.

According to the company's website, they intend to keep distributing his miniature missives, despite the loss of their founder.

Requiēscat In Pāce

Friday, October 21, 2016

Massachusetts Lodge Is Unique Local Landmark

While most of us think of Masonic lodges built after about 1950 as being less inspired architectural landmarks compared to the grander temples of the first third of the 20th century, there are standouts from later periods. Not every post 50s temple has been a steel, prefabricated pole barn in a cornfield.

Last weekend on October 15th, the brethren of Social Harmony Lodge in Wareham, Massachusetts joined with many other Massachusetts lodges to celebrate a statewide Masonic open house, allowing the public an opportunity to come in, look around, and ask their questions. The unique structure is a landmark in the town.

The lodge was originally chartered in 1823 in nearby Middleboro before moving to Wareham a few years later. It was located in various sites in the town, including one on Main Street where it was situated for more than a century before finally moving to its present location in 1964. They currently have about 140 members on the rolls.

(While somewhat smaller in size, it is reminiscent of the similar A-frame design of Abraham C. Treichler Lodge No. 682 at the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, PA, below.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

WB Oscar Alleyne To Speak at Lodge Vitruvian in Indianapolis 10/25

Lodge Vitruvian 767 is Indiana's only "European Concept" lodge, featuring limited membership, brief meetings, formal dress, fine feasts, and the celebration of Masonic learning.

The final stated meeting of the lodge for 2016 will be next Tuesday, October 25th, opening at 7:00 PM in the Temple of Broad Ripple Lodge 643, at 1716 Broad Ripple Avenue, on the north side of Indianapolis, IN. 

Our traditional Festive Board will follow at Capri Ristorante, located at 2602 Ruth Drive in Indianapolis (just off Keystone Avenue, between 71st and 75th Streets). Attendees are responsible for the cost of their meals.

Our guest speaker for the evening will be Dr. Elquemedo Oscar Alleyne who will discuss the topic of Clandestine Freemasonry, and relate his own experiences as a former member of a clandestine lodge. Since his early introduction to the fraternity, he has since gone on to serve twice as Master of Wappingers Lodge 671 under the Grand Lodge of New York F&AM. He is a Director of The Masonic Society, a well respected and widely published researcher and author, and an extraordinarily active and enthusiastic Mason - on top of an incredible professional career in public health management. 

At Vitruvian we believe in formal dress for our members. While it is the internal and not the external parts of Man that Masonry regards, dressing in tuxedo and white gloves is actually a great leveler in a lodge - who can then say who is the banker, the bricklayer, the Ph.D. professor or the plumber?  Visitors are requested to wear tuxedo or business attire.

Unfortunately, the mundane business of grand lodge requirements will lengthen this meeting slightly, as our elections must be held that evening. However, it is always our best intention to dispense with our actual meetings in under an hour, so we will accomplish this as quickly as possible in order to get to Capri in a timely fashion.

Reservations are not required, but would be deeply appreciated. Please visit the event page HERE.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Grand Lodge of Cyprus Celebrates 10th Anniversary 10/29

The Famagusta Gate on the island nation of Cyprus

The Grand Lodge of Cyprus will celebrate its 10th anniversary on October 29th in Nicosia. 

According to the Masonic Press Agency website today:
Cypriot ties with Freemasonry dates back more than two centuries. The first documents are found Larnaca, the main port on the island at the time. The first Masonic Lodge in Cyprus was founded in the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of England. Cypriot Lodges are currently working in Greek, English, German and Italian. 
The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Cyprus is Most Worshipful Petros S. Machalepis. The Masonic Ceremony will take place at Famagusta Gate, built in 1567 by the Venetians.  
Map from Maphill

From the Wikipedia entry about the GL of Cyprus:
There are three recognized jurisdictions or organizing units of freemasons in Cyprus, each holding authority over its respective lodges.
Grand Lodge of Cyprus is a sovereign grand lodge, derived from originally Greek chartered lodges but which now works in at least four languages, including Greek, English, German and Italian.
Another group, the District Grand Lodge of Cyprus, is a unit of the United Grand Lodge of England, subordinate to that external jurisdiction, and operating in English to serve mainly British citizens living on military bases or elsewhere on the island: Cyprus is a Commonwealth nation, and favored Mediterranean holiday destination for citizens of the UK.
The third group is the lodges that operate under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Turkey at the northern part of the island. While the Grand Lodge of Turkey and the Grand Lodge of Cyprus are not in mutual recognition, the United Grand Lodge of England is in amity with both grand lodges, permitting intervisitation and plural membership.
The Grand Lodge of Cyprus shares control, or jurisdiction over Masonic activity in the south of the island due to the historical and continuing presence of the United Grand Lodge of England’s District Grand Lodge of Cyprus, which serves Freemasons from the UK’s twin military bases on Cyprus and other British citizens and English speakers residing there. In the north Cyprus only three lodges with charters granted by the Grand Lodge of Turkey operate. A treaty of full amity was reached with the UGLE, defining terms of mutual recognition, free intervisitation and good will as ratified by the UGLE on June 6, 2010.
Now widely recognized among international Freemasonry, the Grand Lodge of Cyprus holds mutual recognition treaties with 140 of the world's Masonic grand jurisdictions, as of the end of 2012.Such agreements exist in the form of letters or patents that proclaim that, as of a certain date, freemasons from one jurisdiction may visit and attend lodge meetings or other Masonic functions in another. These agreements are reciprocal, and foster the cherished Masonic principle of intervisitation.
The complex story of how the widespread recognition and the unique agreement among Masonic bodies on Cyprus was finally achieved can be found HERE

Larnaca Lodge Hall

The Grand Lodge of Cyprus operates four Masonic temple buildings on the island in Nicosia, Larnaca, Paphos, and Limassol.

GL of Kentucky Approves Joint Visitation With Prince Hall Lodges

The Grand Lodge of Kentucky F&AM recognized the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Kentucky F&AM in October 2011, however no visitation privileges were granted at that time. The Prince Hall Grand Lodge had asked for recognition without visitation. They were simply recognized as a sovereign jurisdiction only. 

I just received word that the GL of Kentucky has at last approved joint visitation with their Prince Hall counterparts today at their annual communication.

This still leaves Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia as the last nine remaining mainstream grand lodges that do not recognize their Prince Hall counterparts.


Brother John Bizzack has passed along the additional news that the Grand Lodge of Kentucky also approved legislation that will grant lodges the option of opening Stated Meetings and conducting their business on the Entered Apprentice degree. Actually it must lay over until a final vote next year, but this is a major advancement. 

It's taken a couple of years to accomplish this, and it's a welcome change that more and more jurisdictions are adopting. This is the longstanding manner in which the overwhelming majority of lodges around the world conduct their business, and the practice of restricting business meetings to Master Masons only was an unfortunate product of the 1843 Baltimore Convention that introduced many innovations to American lodges.  Glad to see it laid to rest in Kentucky.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Euclid, Freemasonry, and Philosophical Geometry

In the last section of the Master Mason degree lecture recited in Preston-Webb Masonic ritual, Euclid's 47th Proposition from his collected Elements of Geometry is only briefly referenced:
“The Forty-seventh Problem of Euclid was an invention of our ancient friend and brother, the great Pythagoras...This wise philosopher enriched his mind abundantly in a general knowledge of things, and more especially in Geometry, or Masonry. On this subject he drew out many problems and theorems, and, among the most distinguished, he erected this, when, in the joy of his heart, he exclaimed Eureka, in the Greek language signifying, "I have found it," and upon the discovery of which he is said to have sacrificed a hecatomb. It teaches Masons to be general lovers of the arts and sciences.”
Anderson's Constitutions of 1723 follows the trail from Pythagoras to Euclid, who was credited with assembling the various theories of geometry into a cohesive science, or as Anderson calls it, the Royal Art: 
"[T]he Greater PYTHAGORAS, prov’d the Author of the 47th Proposition of Euclid’s first Book, which, if duly observ’d, is the Foundation of all Masonry, sacred, civil, and Military...
"But after PYTHAGORAS, Geometry became the darling Study of Greece, where many learned Philosophers arose, some of whom invented sundry Propositions, or Elements of Geometry, and reduc’d them to the use of the mechanical Arts. Nor need we doubt that Masonry kept pace with Geometry; or rather, always follow’d it in proportion’d gradual Improvements, until the wonderful EUCLID of Tyre flourish’d at Alexandria; who gathering up the scatter’d Elements of Geometry, digested them into a Method that was never yet mended, (and for which his Name will be ever celebrated) under the Patronage of PTOLOMEUS, the Son of Lagus King of Egypt, one of the immediate Successors of Alexander the Great."
Apart from Freemasonry's obvious operative-era connection to the science of geometry, how did Euclid's 4th century BC writings wind up being referenced in an 18th century fraternal organization in Britain? 

It turns out that Euclid's theories were actually common currency among Enlightenment era political philosophers, and were not necessarily being used for mathematics. They were being applied to demonstrate the scientific "proof" of concepts like equality among men, even as late as Abraham Lincoln's arguments against slavery in the 1850s and 60s. It's not an enormous leap of imagination to suspect that Founders like Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, Hamilton, John Jay, and many others probably had a volume of Euclid's Elements lurking on their bookshelves at home.

Nautilus is an online magazine dedicated, in part, to applying science to everyday life. An article recently appeared that explores this Euclidean application to philosophical thought. 

From Euclid As Founding Father, by Adam Kucharsky:
“In the course of my law-reading I constantly came upon the word demonstrate,” Lincoln said. “I thought, at first, that I understood its meaning, but soon became satisfied that I did not.” Resolving to understand it better, he went to his father’s house and “staid there till I could give any propositions in the six books of Euclid at sight.”
He was referring to the first six of books of Euclid’s Elements, an Ancient Greek mathematical text. On the face of it, Euclid’s Elements was nothing but a dry textbook: There were no illustrative examples, no mention of people, and no motivation for the analyses it presented. But it was also a landmark, a way of constructing universal truths, a wonder that would outlast even the great lighthouse in Euclid’s home city of Alexandria.
Elements proposed that definitions were at the foundation of knowledge, and led to self-evident axioms that needed no proof. From these definitions and axioms, Euclid showed how to prove dozens of mathematical propositions, producing knowledge that was objective and undeniable. A person of reason would have to accept a proven fact, no matter what their personal beliefs or convictions were. Elements would become a best-selling work, second only to the bible in printed editions, and used until recently as the standard text for mathematics classes. It profoundly influenced Western thought, and shaped Western science and art. What’s less recognized is its role in the creation of modern politics: The distance from proofs about equilateral triangles to the foundations of democracy in Europe and the United States turned out to be just about two millennia.

John Locke was an early pioneer of Euclidean thinking in politics. Born in 1632, the Englishman grew up in a time of turbulence, with a nine-year civil war beginning in 1642. Locke, whose father had fought against the Royalists in the war, would go on to develop a great interest in the concept of morality. In forming his ideology, Locke took guidance from the logical structure of Elements. He believed that by following the logical consequences of self-evident statements “as incontestable as those in mathematics,” it would be possible to demonstrate what was right and wrong.
Historically, absolute monarchs and the church had dictated laws and justice. Enlightenment thinkers such as Locke sought to challenge this tradition. Rather than defining equality from above, he wanted to root it in natural, objective laws. Locke believed that the “natural rights” of a society could be established in a similar manner to geometric theorems, and would therefore be “as certain as any demonstration of Euclid.”

(Read the whole article HERE.)

Several 17th and 18th century philosophers like Benedict Spinoza and Thomas Hobbes used Euclid's Elements as a basis for demonstrating the truth of their philosophical theories. So it's not surprising that the Royal Society members and other Enlightenment thinkers who helped transform Freemasonry from an "operative" skill to a "speculative" philosophy for tolerance and equality among diverse members would sneak Euclid under the door.

H/T to Redditer "poor_yoricks_skull" today.

Amazon's New Review Polices Could Affect Authors

Amazon's new book review police are out in force

The rise of Lulu.com and Amazon's CreateSpace have changed the face of small batch self-publishing forever. Before they came along, if an author wrote a book that had limited readership appeal, the paths to actually getting it into print were generally pretty limited: track down a small, independent press that didn't mind printing up a small batch of copies and warehousing them for years (or decades); or pay a vanity press to print up a couple of thousand books that the author would then stack up in his garage until the mice finally chewed into the boxes. 

With the new online self-publishing services, that has changed completely. Now, an author can upload a Word file, pick a predesigned cover, and in a matter of minutes, have a book listed online on the world's biggest book retailer, that looks exactly like something from Random House. For Masonic authors, this has been especially exciting. It would be difficult to find a field of study that has more books written about it for such a comparatively tiny sliver of the book buying public than Freemasonry. Because of this new technology, we have greater access to more Masonic books than at any time in our history. If you think there's a dearth of Masonic education resources in the world, you haven't been paying attention.

One of the most important aspects of promoting (or buying) any book, regardless of the subject, is positive reviews. It's difficult enough to convince a substantial group of readers to actually buy a book in the first place. But it's even harder to count on them to actually take a few minutes after they've read it to sit down and type out a few sentences about what they thought of it. Reviews are the lifeblood of the book business, and most especially for the self-publisher. They are important because more (and better) reviews make a book listing look more promising to a shopper who is reluctant to part with $14.95. And the more confirmed sales there are of a book on Amazon, the higher the ranking number becomes, along with a greater likelihood of the title being promoted on another popular book's page by Amazon's inscrutable marketing algorithm. 

So, over the years, desperate authors have sought out numerous ways to encourage folks to give public feedback for their work on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and elsewhere. Some have tried asking Facebook friends for reviews, while others have resorted to a sort of soft bribery by offering gift cards in return for a few kindly sentences and a five-star rating.

Unfortunately, unscrupulous authors (or savvy ones, if you think that way) have found ways to game Amazon's ranking system over the years. Some authors have paid for reviews, created dozens of phony screen names and posted their own sock puppet reviews, and other schemes. 

Now, apparently, Amazon has decided to take the matter in hand and announced (or just quietly enforced without fanfare) new rules regarding the posting of reviews. If you are an author of a Masonic book, and especially a self-published one, these rules could affect how you go about seeking sympathetic brethren's online opinions of your work. 

Author Anne R. Allen co-hosts a blog that deals with writing, and yesterday she posted an extensive article examining the new review rules and how they could touch on what you and your readers might otherwise regard as harmless attempts to help each other out.

See Amazon's New Review Rules: Should Authors Be Worried?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

2017 Masonic Week Info

The 2017 Masonic Week schedule has been published. This annual event will run from February 9-12 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Crystal City, Virginia (a stone's throw from Washington DC, the Reagan International Airport, and the Pentagon). Masonic Week traditionally hosts annual meetings and degree conferrals of lesser known Masonic organizations, many of which are invitational bodies.

The following groups will be represented this year: the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon; Masonic Order of Athelstan; Order of Knight Masons; Society of Blue Friars; Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests; Allied Masonic Degrees; The Royal Order Masonic Knights of the Scarlet Cord of the United States of America; The Masonic Society; Rectified Scottish Rite (CBCS); Ye Antiente Order of Corks; Grand College of Rites, the Philalethes Society, Sovereign Order of Knights Preceptor, Masonic Order of the Bath; and the Worshipful Society of Free Masons, Rough Masons, Wallers, Slaters, Paviors, Plaisteres and Bricklayers (aka “The Operatives”).

An additional group appears on the list this year: the Universal Craftsman Council of Engineers. I thought I had come across almost every Masonic group currently at work in this country, but this is a new one on me. They have apparently been around since 1899, and information about them can be found on their website HERE.

A reservation/registration form has not been posted yet, and neither has hotel reservation information. So keep an eye on the page for upcoming updates.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

'Inside the Freemasons' Tells UGLE's Story to a Worldwide Audience

Several months back, the United Grand Lodge of England granted access to a British production company to create a four-part series for the Sky television network to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the modern founding of the fraternity in 1717. The result is Inside the Freemasons, and the final show has been expanded to five episodes. Now, it may be distributed to other television markets outside of the UK.

From the BroadcastNow.co.uk website yesterday:
The series was commissioned as a four-parter but on delivery earlier this year, Sky and the Freemasons themselves agreed that it should be extended by one hour.
Emporium [Productions'] Emma Read, who is renowned for securing difficult access after series like Sky 1’s Harrow: A Very British School, won the confidence of the organisation and has delivered a series that she says “found the fun” in Freemasonry, as well as uncovering its secrets.
The show features stories from across England and Wales, including the consecration of a new lodge in Cardiff, and features individuals from many walks of life – from ex-military members in the north-west to biker Freemasons in Newcastle.
“We told a story of 21st century men and why they joined, what they get out of it, and why they would want to join something where they have to learn all these rituals perfectly and dress up in aprons and gloves,” Read explains.
The show is being distributed by Hat Trick International. Director of sales Sarah Tong says that because of the unprecedented access and the intrigue that surrounds the organisation, she expects it to easily attract an international audience.
“People will think they know what a Freemason is – this sort of secret society – so they’ll watch thinking it’s all very peculiar and strange, and that’s why it will sell,” she explains.
The society has members across the world, including a massive contingent in the US, which Tong says she hopes will give the show traction there. Hat Trick is also targeting Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavian and Europe.

Friday, October 14, 2016

PA Academy of Masonic Knowledge: Live Steaming on Saturday

Brother Seth Anthony just passed along this information about their meeting tomorrow, 10/15:
The Academy of Masonic Knowledge is meeting this weekend and we are pleased to announce that this event will be live-streamed, via YouTube, on Saturday. The stream will begin around 9:15 AM, with the first speaker taking the stage at 9:30AM. 
To view the feed, just visit the Masonic Villages of PA channel on YouTube and the live link should appear at the appropriate time. 
We will be taking some internet based questions for the speakers (although the number is to be determined.) I'll be sure to watch this thread for potential questions, as well as the comments on the YouTube video and via Facebook. Remember, this is not a tiled event, so please keep any questions appropriate. 
As a reminder, the speakers are:
Heather Calloway – Heather is the Archivist and Special Collections Librarian and an Assistant Professor at Washington College in Maryland. She served the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction as Director of Programming, Museum Curator, and Digital Media Director at the House of the Temple in Washington, DC.
John Hairston – Bro. Hairston is a member of Harmony Lodge No. 2, under the jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and is the author of the new groundbreaking book “Landmarks of our Fathers: the Critical Analysis of the Start and Origin of African Lodge No. 1."
Christopher Murphy – Bro. Murphy is the Charter Junior Warden of Fibonacci Lodge No. 112, the first Observant Lodge chartered by the Grand Lodge of Vermont. He is a member of Vermont Lodge of Research No. 110 and the Philalethes Society. He will present his paper “The Tavern Myth.”

GL of Ohio Changes Alcohol Rules

Word is trickling out that the Grand Lodge of Ohio F&AM  has just approved legislation that will permit renters of Masonic facilities to serve alcohol at events. 

Doubtless there will still be restrictions involved, but this will be excellent news for lodges struggling with raising funds to protect and maintain their buildings, especially historic ones. Far too many event planners pass our facilities by because of restrictive alcohol bans, even for outside renters and caterers with proper permits.

Legislative Ballot 2016-1 was passed and is now officially Ohio Masonic law:
Chapter 34, SEC. 34.02 Lodge Prohibitions  
a) A Lodge or Temple Company may rent, lease or sub-lease the public areas of its building, excluding the Fraternal, dedicated areas in which the Lodge Room(s) is located, to any person or persons or to any business entity for rental events at which alcoholic beverages are served. Licensed caterers only approved by the Trustees or Temple Company of the Lodge, shall have full responsibility for obtaining all liquor licenses and necessary insurance coverage for serving and dispensing all alcoholic beverages. Prior to undertaking the provisions to which this regulation applies, the approval of the Grand Master or his designee must be obtained.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Knights Templar Arrested 709 Years Ago Today

Today marks the 709th anniversary of the arrest of the Knights Templar on October 13th, 1307. 

The tale of the Knights Templar is a story with a larger-than life aura of myth, that finished in an abrupt and almost unbelievable tragedy. Founded in 1119 by nine crusading French knights as a tiny band of dedicated protectors of Christians in the Holy Land, the Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon shot across the political landscape like a meteor, vaulting from obscure guardians of pilgrims in Jerusalem into the most powerful and influential force of their age. They were fierce warriors, devout monks, skilled diplomats, and international bankers. Within just a half century of their birth, they walked with kings and advised popes, brokered treaties, and built castles and preceptories on a massive scale. Then, even more inexplicable than their rise came their fall, less than two centuries after they began, in a harrowing plunge into arrest, trial, flight and execution that shocked the medieval world, both East and West. 

The end began for them at dawn on Friday, October 13, 1307. The sealed order to King Phillip IV's seneschals and bailiffs had gone out a full month before. It was accompanied by a personal letter from the king, filled with lofty prose about how heart-rending it was to be compelled to do his duty, while detailing frightening accusations against the Templars. The letter would have had an eye-popping effect on the king’s men, and their secrecy was undoubtedly assured. The sealed arrest order was not to be opened until the appointed day.

At this time, France was the most populous nation of Europe, even greater than Russia. France took up more than 40,000 square miles, an enormous area to cover from the back of a horse. Yet Phillip IV managed to carry off his own Night of the Long Knives, in a country without telephones, trains, or automobiles. It was a stunning piece of work. Hundreds of the king’s men simultaneously opened letters all over the country that morning, ordering them to converge on every Templar castle, Commandery, Preceptory, farm, vineyard, or mill.

It was shockingly effective, instantly chopping off the head of the Order. Phillip obviously had a hit list of the most important knights to capture. Accounts differ wildly, but the most respected ones agree that 625 members of the Order were arrested in the first wave. These included the Grand Master Jacques de Molay; the Visitor-General; the Preceptors of Normandy, Cyprus, and Aquitane; and the Templars’ Royal Treasurer.

The vast majority of the literally thousands of Templar properties in France were small manors and farms, tended by as few as two or three aging brethren. Often, a small Preceptory with a few serving brothers and the occasional aged knight was all there was to meet these armed bailiffs of the king. The average age of those arrested was 41. They were not, as a rule, the cream of the Order’s hardened fighting force, and many of those tending these unfortified properties were in their 60s and 70s.

The Templars were put into isolation, and immediately subjected to the gruesome tactics of medieval interrogation on the very first day of their arrest. The technique of the strapaddo was common. It involved binding the victim’s wrists behind his back, passing the rope over a high beam, pulling him off of the ground, and suddenly dropping him, snapping his arms and dislocating his shoulders. Stretching the victim on the rack was another favored method. Perhaps the most horrible was coating the victim’s feet in lard or oil, and then slowly roasting them over a flame. More than one knight was handed the tiny bones that fell from his burned feet by his dedicated torturers. Subjected to these agonies, the overwhelming majority of the knights confessed to any charge that was put to them.

Phillip’s goal was to arrest all the Templars, subject them to torture immediately, and exact confessions from them on the very first day. He knew that the pope would be livid over his actions, and that Church officials would be wary of agreeing to the kinds of interrogations Phillip had in mind, so time was of the essence. He wanted to hand Pope Clement V a stack of confessions so damning that the pope would lose his stomach for siding with the Order.

The pope reacted just as Phillip had planned. His outrage over the arrests turned to dread and resignation as the “evidence” was presented to him. Phillip leaned on Clement to issue papal arrest warrants all across Europe, which were largely ignored or skirted around by other monarchs. Very few show trials went on outside of France, and there were no cases (outside of the tortured knights in France) of Templars who admitted to any charges of heresy.

In an outburst of courage and remorse, most of the arrested Templars subsequently recanted their confessions, and proclaimed to Church officials that their statements were made under the pain of torture and threat of death. To intimidate the remaining Templars, Phillip ordered 54 of the knights to be burned at the stake in 1310, for the sin of recanting their confessions.

In 1312, Clement finally decided to end the situation at a council in Vienne. Just to make certain the decision went the way he intended, Phillip stationed his army on the outskirts of the city. The pliant pope officially dissolved the Order, without formally condemning it. (In truth, he had secretly absolved the Order of all wrongdoing after his own investigation at Chinon in 1308 in a document that served to at least save the knights in the hereafter, even though he was powerless to stop Phillip in the temporal world.) All Templar possessions apart from their cash were handed over to the Knights Hospitaller, and many Templars who freely confessed were set free and assigned to other Orders. Those who did not confess were sent to the stake. Phillip soothed his loss of the Templars’ tangible assets by strong-arming a yearly fee from the Knights Hospitallers, to defray his costs of prosecuting the Templars.

By 1314, both the pope and public opinion had completely abandoned the Knights Templar. The four senior Templar officers in Phillip’s custody had been waiting in prison for seven grim years. All of them were old, the youngest being Geoffroy de Charney, who was almost 60. Jacques de Molay was in his 70s and had spent four years in solitary confinement. The four men were finally led onto a platform in front of Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral to hear the charges and make their public confessions. The charges were read, and two of the men accepted their fate of perpetual imprisonment and were led away.

But Jacques de Molay and his trusted follower Geoffroy de Charney did not follow suit. Weakened with age and imprisonment, de Molay shouted in a voice that startled the assembly that he and the Templars were innocent of all the charges. They were returned to their cells at once, while Phillip called together his council and quickly pronounced sentence, using the insane logic of the Inquisition; if they had recanted their confessions, then they were considered “relapsed heretics,” and the penalty was the stake.

Late that afternoon, de Molay and de Charney were led to the place of execution, which was a tiny isolated island adjacent to the Île de la Citè, called the Île-des-Juifs (Island of the Jews) in the middle of the River Seine. The condemned men could see Notre Dame Cathedral in the east, but the site was not chosen for their view. Rather, it was chosen so that King Phillip could enjoy the entertainment without leaving his palace just across the river.

Each man was stripped down to his shirt and tied to the stake. Jacques de Molay, with unbelievable courage, asked not only that he be turned to face the Cathedral, but that his hands be freed, so that he could die at prayer. His request was granted. The two men were roasted alive by the Inquisitional method that began with hot coals, so that their agony could be prolonged as much as possible. It was dusk on March 18, 1314.

When the Pont Neuf was built, the Île de Juifs was joined to the rest of the Île de la Cité, and today there are not one but two plaques near the bridge to commemorate this event. Jacques de Molay did not go to his God in silence. Legends insist that he died defiantly shouting his innocence and that of the Templars, calling on King Phillip and Pope Clement to meet him before the throne of God in one year’s time, where they would all be judged together. Indeed, both men, relatively young, would be dead within the year. One month after the death of de Molay, Pope Clement V, age 54, died, it was said, of cancer. Phillip the Fair, age 46, died in a hunting accident probably brought on by a stroke. He died on November 29, 1314, managing to get in just under the wire.

The gruesome death of Jacques de Molay is the last act of the Templar story. At least, the last act of the accepted, scholarly story of the Knights Templar that is told, in names and dates, between the covers of the history books. But in reality, his death is only the beginning. It’s the beginning of the myth of the Knights Templar, which is the maelstrom around which an endless stream of fact blended with speculation swirls, unabated.

(Excerpted from The Templar Code For Dummies)