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Friday, July 21, 2017

Templar TV Series 'Knightfall' Releases First Preview

Knight Templars, Levant Preceptory members, DeMolay lads, medieval mavens, fans, and curiosity seekers can rejoice. A preview for the long announced History [Channel] program Knightfall has finally been released, and it looks well done, at least from the production standpoint anyway. It's been so long since development of this program was announced, a lot of folks assumed it had just fallen by the way side into typical Hollywood development limbo, but it turns out that it's going to come to screens after all. It will air sometime "later this year" on the History network is all they are saying at this point. 

From the Entertainment Weekly website today:

HISTORY’s new scripted series Knightfall follows the Knights Templar, a legendary organization of warrior monks, as they desperately search for the Holy Grail in France — and in an exclusive trailer, that quest gets bloody quick.
The show picks up in 1306, toward the end of the Templars’ run as one of the most powerful organizations in the Christian world. Thanks to the bloody battles of the Crusades, the Templars are losing allies at the same time they’re gaining enemies, such as the King of France. With the help of a special sword and the knowledge that the Holy Grail is somewhere in France, the Templars bet everything on this grand quest.
Knightfall was executive-produced by Jeremy Renner alongside showrunner Dominic Minghella. It stars Tom Cullen, Pádraic Delaney, Simon Merrells, Olivia Ross, Ed Stoppard, Sabrina Bartlett, Jim Carter, and Julian Ovenden. Watch the trailer above, and look for Knightfall coming soon to HISTORY.
The preview was released in time for the San Diego ComicCon weekend. According to the Inquisitr website today:
Not only has a new trailer been released, but fans attending San Diego Comic-Con can get their photo taken with a Knight Templar, have their valuables protected by a Knightfall-themed storage service, and pick up the comic which is a prequel to the television series.

Friday, July 14, 2017

PA's Thomas W. Jackson Honored on Brazilian Postage Stamp

The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania's former Grand Secretary of many years, Thomas W. Jackson has received untold awards, titles and accolades over the years, but this is a first for him. He is depicted on a new official postage stamp of the nation of Brazil, and solely in his capacity as a Freemason. I'm not talking about the kind of customized stamp you can have your grand kids or pet terrier printed on for your Christmas cards. I'm talking about a real live, national bureau of engraving-style, printed by the Casa da Moeda do Brasil, no-kidding postage stamp.

I don't even remotely pretend to know the first thing about philately, much less read Portuguese, so if anyone wants to chime in with more information, feel free. I did look over their postal service website (Correios) enough to know that any social or philanthropic group is welcome to suggest a subject for depiction on a stamp.

The local newspaper in Tom's home town of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania posted a long interview with him yesterday in which he describes his many travels during his 16 years as the Executive Secretary for the World Conference of Masonic Grand Lodges. The position also gave him the opportunity to engage in his other passions of hunting and fishing in very exotic places. I recall seeing Tom get off of an elevator at Masonic Week one year and I asked him what he had coming up. He replied that he was scheduled for heart surgery in the  coming weeks and he hoped for a fast recovery, as he was planning to go big game hunting in Africa about 10 days afterwards. He's truly unstoppable.

“I've been to Brazil about 15 times,” he said. “I'm very active in Freemasonry, and that's the reason I'm generally in Brazil. Although, I do go down and fish in the Amazon once in awhile.”
The avid fisherman and hunter said he's been working for many years in trying to bring Brazilian Freemasonry together.
“There are three different Masonic groups, and although they relate to each other, they don’t acknowledge each other or recognize each other, and I’ve been working for years to get them rectified,” he said.
Jackson had attended a Freemasonry conference in Brazil last month, and on the conference’s last day, June 24, leaders presented him with the stamps as a symbol of their appreciation. On the stamp, it says in Portuguese that it is in recognition of his service in promoting universal Freemasonry.
“I had no idea they were doing this,” he said. “It really surprised me.”
Jackson is known across the globe in Freemasonry circles, a fraternal organization celebrating its 300th anniversary of its formal creation this year. Two rooms in Jackson’s home are filled with an array of medals that have been given to him over the years. Many of the items are in a room that has dozens of mounted animal heads, such as buffalo he hunted in Australia and Botswana.
He said the position took him to many countries. He didn’t know how many countries he has visited, but his wife of more than 50 years, Linda, keeps track by placing red pins on a world map at their home. Jackson noted he has visited all 50 states in the U.S. and all Canadian provinces.
“I'm generally out of the country half the year. I've been to 10 countries so far this year, and quite a few more to go,” he said. “I’ve really been fortunate. I have traveled to much of the world. I’ve been hosted by eight presidents, (and) several prime ministers.”
Jackson added he has met the presidents of Portugal, Chile, Romania, Mozambique, Mali, Gabon, Chad, and Congo. He has also met former U.S. President George H. W. Bush.
“In eastern Europe and Africa, they want to meet with me to find out what contributions Freemasonry can make to their developing societies,” he explained. He noted the executive secretary position didn’t have a salary, but his expenses were always covered.
Jackson also said he mediated disputes over the years, such as the three Freemasonry groups in Brazil.
 “One thing you’re dealing with, and you can’t avoid it, is ego,” he said. “You get so much power in Freemasonry in the hands of one man, and it really becomes an issue once in awhile.”
He said he has been fortunate to be able to mediate, and the key to the discussions is trying to listen to reason.
Jackson stepped down from the position in 2015, but he still gets calls to travel somewhere to advise on a situation.
“I’m supposed to be retired,” he said, with a laugh. “When I stepped down as executive secretary, I thought now I’ll be able to spend time on my farm. It hasn’t happened yet.
Read the whole article HERE

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Connecticut Lodge to Confer MM Degree in Operative Quarry 8/19/2017

Events like this used to be more common than they are these days, so I wanted to call attention to it.

Moosup Lodge 113 (one of my favorite town names) in Moosup, Connecticut is conferring a Master Mason degree in an operative stone quarry on Saturday, August 19th, 2017. The lodge will be officially opened in their Temple's lodge room shortly before 4:00PM, and immediately called to refreshment. A picnic will then start at 4:00PM at the nearby Moosup Little League Complex and playground on Lions Drive.

At 5:15, the brethren will caravan to the quarry and the lodge will reconvene there for the degree. Labor will resume at 6:00PM for the first section. At its conclusion, the lodge will pause at refreshment and torches will be lit for the second section, which will commence at 7:45. Five brethren are expected to be raised during the evening, and the lodge is expected to be closed around 10:30.

Attendees are cautioned to wear appropriate clothing and especially rugged footwear—there is no dress code for the evening, as long as you're comfortable. You are also advised to bring a lawn chair or cushion for the evening, mosquito repellant, and any cooler you might wish to have on hand, as there will be no services available at the site. The lodge will have 100 aprons on hand for the use of members and visitors. You are welcome to bring your own in case there is a shortage, but caution is urged if your apron is especially fragile, decorative, or sentimental, because of the rough, outdoor conditions. 

Take note: there is NO rain date! Updates will be posted on the lodge's Facebook page HERE.

Click image to enlarge.

The picnic itself is by reservation only and will be limited to just 100 attendees. You must contact the lodge Secretary, WB Brian Keith, at 860-564-8807 or by email at moosup113@yahoo.com for reservations and for more detailed information and instructions.

Moosup Lodge 113 is located at 69 Prospect St, Moosup, CT 06354. The community is actually a borough in the town of Plainfield, CT. For those coming from out of town, there are close hotels in Killingly, Danielson, and Griswold, and it is 20 minutes from both the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos in case your spouse or partner wants to play while you are busy Masoning.

(Top image from 2009's event. H/T Jim Verge)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Statement by Andrew Hammer

The currently ambiguous status of Virginia's Alexandria-Washington Lodge 22 and its now former Secretary, WB Andrew Hammer has gained some new clarification. There has been much speculation and concern in the Masonic world regarding the situation, as all of those involved have been unable to comment publicly. Finally at about 10:30PM Tuesday evening, WB Hammer publicly posted the following message on his Facebook page:
I have demitted from the lodge in Virginia of which I have been a member, in good standing, and possess documentation from the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Virginia, A.F. & A.M. to that effect. I am not under charges, and I am not suspended. I am no longer a Mason under the Grand Lodge of Virginia, A.F. & A.M.
I am proud to be a Mason in good standing under the following grand jurisdictions:
- The Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, F.A.A.M.
- The Grand Lodge of North Carolina, A.F.& A.M.
- The Grand Lodge of Ireland
- The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York, F.&A.M. (Honorary)

One chapter ends. A new one begins.

My work in the quarries has been valued by a number of Grand Lodges. My book, Observing the Craft, has even been bought by Grand Lodges to distribute to their lodges, officers, or members in general. I have been honoured by two Grand Lodges who invited me to serve as a Grand Lodge officer.

I am very fortunate to count among my closest friends in the Craft past, present, and future Grand Masters who are intimately familiar with my work and understand my points of view on Freemasonry in general.

The object of the observant Mason is to remain focused on positive action and to put forth positive energy as much as possible in all situations. The good of Freemasonry itself is what we must have in view.

That does not mean that one is never to express criticisms or to speak honestly to errors; we are charged to do exactly that on our Masonic path, and indeed our most esteemed thinkers throughout history have been those brothers who spoke uncomfortable truths in interesting times.

But the far greater object is to create happiness, both spiritual and temporal. We must never lose sight of that. Otherwise the task will not be worth doing.
As reported here on June 28th, members of AW22 lodge received a letter dated June 19th explaining that the lodge's charter had been removed and announcing the replacement of the Worshipful Master, Senior Warden and Secretary by the Grand Master of Virginia, Vernon S. Cook. An upcoming meeting was announced for the members for this coming Thursday, July 13th. It is hoped that the charter will be returned at that time.

I have not chatted with Andrew yet, but he is still scheduled to speak at several Masonic events throughout the year. Thankfully, this resolution to the AW22 situation and any issues that may have existed between him and the Grand Lodge of Virginia means that his status as a regularly affiliated Mason in good standing will not pose any problems anywhere he is scheduled to appear. That is ultimately good news.

As for the lodge, it will be up to the new officers of AW22 and their active members to decide how they proceed in the coming months. Hopefully, this unfortunate episode will not result in them entirely turning their back on the initiatives they have undertaken in the last few years. They have been an outstanding example of 'observant' styled practices and a national leader in demonstrating what can be done within the limitations of existing rules to create a different lodge experience that appeals to a growing number of American Masons. It would be a tragedy for them to discard that in order to return to a cookie cutter style of lodge meeting that so many Masons have found so uninspiring for so long. 

Grand lodges lose more members from non-payment of dues than any other reason. Those are overwhelmingly men who were underwhelmed by what they found in their own lodges. Our jurisdictions have hundreds of lodge laboratories in which to experiment to find better ways to appeal to their own brethren. We squelch those experiments at our own peril.

The very best wishes to everyone going forward. And onward.

(Andrew Hammer is the author of Observing the Craft.)

Saturday, July 08, 2017

VIDEO: 'The Masonic Pub Crawl' by Robert Johnson

Many years ago when the Grand Lodge of Indiana was debating a resolution (which failed) to permit our lodges to allow alcohol in our buildings, accompanied by a raft of restrictions, limitations, qualifiers and requirements, all of the usual anti-hooch bromides poured forth from the floor of agitated delegates. One elderly brother angrily rose to his feet, wagged his finger in the air, and burst out, "If the founders of this fraternity ever discovered that this grand lodge is actually considering permitting alcohol anywhere near the inside of our Masonic lodges, they'd roll over in their graves!"

You know, the fraternity that started in taverns.

At the 2017 Masonic Con in April, RW Robert Johnson of the 'Whence Came you?' and the 'Masonic Roundtable' podcasts presented a talk that is a sort of introductory thumbnail sketch about three early, notable Colonial taverns in New England connected to American Freemasonry: the Tun Tavern, the Bunch of Grapes, and the Green Dragon. He was kind enough to permit it to be videotaped, so I share it here for the benefit of that elderly brother if he is still out there somewhere.

Charge your cannons.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Milwaukee Masonic Terror Suspect Claims Entrapment

The defense attorneys for a man arrested for conspiring to commit a mass shooting at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center in Milwaukee last year are claiming entrapment by the FBI informants in the case. Samy Hamzeh was nabbed in January 2016 after discussing the terrorist plot with what turned out to be undercover FBI agents and receiving a machine gun and silencer from them. Now his lawyers are seeking his release, alleging he was conned into it by the agents.

Sixteen months after the FBI announced it had thwarted a planned mass shooting in downtown Milwaukee, lawyers for the man charged in the plot say he adamantly refused to participate when pressed by informants they say had been goading their client for months.
The claim comes in a new court motion that Samy Mohamed Hamzeh, 25, should be released on bail pending his trial, now set for February.
The motion reveals new details about the defense's claim of entrapment, gleaned from hours of now-translated Arabic conversations the informants recorded.
His family says Hamzeh, who was born in the U.S. but lived much of his childhood in Jordan before moving to Milwaukee at age 19, was set up by the FBI.
The request for Hamzeh's release says he is a U.S. citizen with no criminal record, a solid work history and a job waiting for him, and a family who supports him. They argue Hamzeh should be released on GPS monitoring and give up his passport.
While the news of Hamzeh's arrest in early 2016 carried overtones of terrorism — federal prosecutors said he was planning to kill at least 30 people to "defend Islam" — the resulting charges were two counts of possessing a machine gun and one count of possessing a silencer, all of which he bought for $570 from undercover FBI agents. Each count carries up to 10 years in prison.
Hamzeh's attorneys, federal public defenders Craig Albee and Joseph Bugni, note that the criminal complaint against their client fails to mention that despite the hours of recorded Arabic conversations with the informants, he ultimately "rejected their overtures and lectured his informant friends about why such a plan would be wrong."

The motion says the complaint also doesn't describe everything that led up to Hamzeh briefly possessing the machine guns and silencer in January 2016, when he was arrested. The informants, the motion states, "frequently lobbied Hamzeh to get a machine gun despite his repeated protests that all he wanted was a legal handgun to protect himself."
According to the defense motion, discussion of the Masons first came in January 2016.The informants told Hamzeh the Masons were affiliated with the Islamic State and the enemy of Islam, and that three men had watched YouTube videos purportedly showing Masons eating hearts.
Hamzeh later told others about how Mike had begun constantly denigrating Masons and first floated the idea of attacking the Milwaukee center.
The Scottish Rite group was actually a fraternal organization whose membership had declined from 6,000 in 1985 to about 700 today. The center was mostly rented out for weddings and other events and is now planned for sale and conversion into a hotel.
A psychiatrist who evaluated Hamzeh in jail concluded he does not fit a profile of someone who would kill strangers and "has a strong moral code with a very prominent conscience and empathy."
His attorneys note that by the time Hamzeh's trial would start in February, he will have been in jail 25 months, and that even if convicted, the guideline range sentence for the crimes is 24 to 30 months.

The defense characterizes much of the recorded talk as mere bravado by Hamzeh and obvious attempts by Steve and Mike to steer him toward discussion of jihad and machine guns.
"There is also no evidence that Hamzeh ever made any plans or was doing anything other than making empty boasts to express his resentment about Israel or to gain attention," reads their brief in support of the bond motion.
"That’s not to say the conversations aren’t unsettling, but there is nothing to show an intent to take the leap from pontificating within the comfort of Milwaukee’s coffee shops about Palestine and the treatment of Muslims to Hamzeh risking his life in Gaza."

For the background on this story, see these previous stories:

1/27/2016: FBI Stops Plan For Mass Shooting At Milwaukee Masonic Temple

 2/1/2016: Masonic Plot Suspect May Escape Terror Charges

2/10/2016: Milwaukee Man Indicted in Plan to Attack Masonic Center

8/29/2016: January Milwaukee Masonic Terror Plotter Update

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Somewhere, Somebody's Laughing

The annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana was held this past week, and nothing especially unusual happened. Just the quiet, annual changing of the guard. But buried deep in the copy of the Advance Proceedings in the report on foreign correspondence was a small paragraph noting that a small, new Arkansas grand lodge was requesting recognition from Louisiana.

The Regular Wheaton Grand Lodge of Arkansas.

I am NOT making this up. I'll post an image when I can get one.

I'm assured that neither Louisiana's Grand Secretary and the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Recognition are the type who engage in pranks. It did actually make it into print.

The request was not brought to the floor for a vote...

UPDATE: 7/4/2017

Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Alexandria-Washington 22 Developments

In April, I reported that one of the nation's most famous lodges,  Alexandria-Washington Lodge 22 in Alexandria, Virginia, suddenly had its charter removed with no warning by that state's Grand Master, Vernon S. Cook. His reasons have remained unexpressed to the lodge's members at large.

After more than two months of silent unease, a letter was received last week by the members of AW 22, informing them of the subsequent actions of the GM and the officers, and their current situation. The letter dated June 19th was signed by Michael P. Bible PM, the new Worshipful Master Designate of Alexandria-Washington Lodge 22. It reads in part:

"I would like to update you concerning the status of our Lodge charter and some information, as I know it. I share your frustration with regards to the lack of communication with our membership throughout this process.
"On April 13, 2017, the Grand Master of Masons in Virginia arrested our Lodge Charter. The Grand Master directed the Worshipful Master to contact the Grand Lodge Office for a meeting to discuss getting the charter restored.
"On April 21, 2017, the Worshipful Master, 8 days later, contacted the Grand Lodge for an appointment date with the Grand Master.
"On May 10, 2017, the officers of the Lodge, with the exception of the Senior Warden, met with the Grand Master in Richmond, Virginia. During that meeting the Grand Master requested the Worshipful Master and the Secretary to write and send letters to him, explaining how the lodge plans to address and correct the issues for which the charter was arrested.
"We believe the Grand Lodge received the requested letters sometime during later part of May.
"On June 2, 2017, the Grand Master sent letters to the Worshipful Master, the Senior Warden, the Treasurer, and the Secretary, removing them from their officer responsibilities. After a personal meeting between the Grand Master and the Treasurer, the Grand Master rescinded removing the Treasurer from office.

"The Grand Master has made the following decisions; I have been selected to serve as Worshipful Master, RW Mark Underwood, DDGM, will serve as Senior Warden, and RW Jack Canard, PDDGM, will serve as Secretary. The charter will be returned and the new officers will be installed at our Stated Communication July 13, 2017. The Grand Master will also address the lodge at that time.
"Brethren, the last few months have been an emotional and challenging time for all of us. We, who make up the membership of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22, at this particular moment in history, are the caretakers of our lodge and will determine its path forward from this fragile time in the life of our lodge. Together we will restore our lodge and her great traditions and fraternal relationships. I ask for your participation and support, but more importantly your prayers. I ask prayers for relationships to be healed and prayers for our lodge and our great fraternally. I hope to see all of you at our July 13, 2017 stated meeting."
There is much that I can't and won't comment on right now, however nothing good will come out of any of this, I'm afraid. 

The dust has not entirely settled and there isn't even a charter back on their wall yet. If you have been planning an upcoming visit to a meeting of AW22, which is located inside the George Washington National Masonic Memorial, you are still unable to do that at this time

Also, if you have an upcoming event scheduled with author WB Andrew Hammer who is a very popular speaker, I suggest you contact him PRIVATELY and NOT through the lodge's appointed interim Secretary, nor via the generic lodge email link to AW22's Secretary you might have had from the lodge website. That link will NOT reach him anymore.

As I posted before about this, all Virginia Masons are duly admonished to be aware of, and fully comply with, the Grand Lodge of Virginia's extraordinarily draconian rules regarding online communications. Take notice and govern yourselves accordingly. 

Sadly, grand lodges that enact such rules only create a sense of bolder defiance when un-Masonic activity or overreach happens, and the result is never good for anybody. Politicians, entertainers, and corporate executives have all demonstrated there's no such thing as 'keeping it all quiet' anymore. Masons haven't figured it out yet, I'm afraid. Masonic secrecy was always about honor, and never about covering up less than honorable behavior.

At least, that's what it's supposed to be about.

Masonic Society Conference in Lexington, KY September 7-10, 2017

After months of planning, the Masonic Society has announced the full details for its 2017 Conference on September 7-10th in Lexington, Kentucky. This promises to be one of the best of these the Society has hosted, and the organizers have done an outstanding job. An amazing list of speakers, panelists, and presenters will be on hand for an intensive program.

PLEASE NOTE: You do NOT have to be a Masonic Society member to attend this event. We'd love for you to join TMS, but anyone may sign up for the Conference regardless.

Speakers and panelists will include:

Thomas W. Jackson
Mark Tabbert
Jordan Yelinek
Dr. Elquemedo Oscar Alleyne
Patrick Craddock
Allan Casalou
Andrew Hammer
Jon T. Ruark
Dr. John Bizzack
Cameron C. Poe
Richard A. Graeter
A certain Dummy

Early check-in begins at noon on Thursday September 7th, with a Welcome Reception at 6PM. The main Conference events kick off at 9AM on Friday with introductions, followed by Tom Jackson's opening presentation of The History of the Future of Freemasonry. Speakers and panels will take place throughout Friday and Saturday, with a closing panel discussion on Sunday morning from 9-11AM.

Lexington is a fascinating city with a very storied history of its own. Included with the Conference fee are optional tours to Kentucky Horse Park and Henry Clay's historic home in nearby Ashland. Please sign up for these on the registration so the organizers know how many people to expect to accommodate. (Note: spouses or friends not attending the Conference itself can sign up for the tours for $20 apiece.)

The Conference website is available HERE.  Registration is $125 for the Conference only, plus $45 per person for the Festive Board on Friday evening (this dinner is for Masons only - back tie or business suit, please). If you happen to be a member of Lexington Lodge 1, there is no charge for the Festive Board, as you are the local hosts.

All events will be held at the Embassy Suites in Lexington. For online reservations using the Masonic Society Conference code, CLICK HERE.

To become a member of TMS, visit the website at http://www.themasonicsociety.com

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Ohio Legislature Commemorates 300 Years of Freemasonry

Last Wednesday, June 21st, the House and Senate of Ohio both adopted Special Resolutions celebrating the 300th anniversary of the formation of the Premiere Grand Lodge of England and modern day Freemasonry. Officers of both the Grand Lodge of Ohio F&AM and the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ohio F&AM were on hand at the Statehouse in Columbus for the occasion.

(Click images to enlarge)

A video is available on Facebook (with almost inaudible audio) HERE.

Brad Paisley Talks About Freemasonry

Country music signer-songwriter Brad Paisley is a member of Hiram Lodge 7 in Franklin, Tennessee. He's also a Scottish Rite Mason, a Shriner, and a Senior DeMolay. In this video, he speaks about Masonry and the importance of tolerance. This clip was actually posted online over a year ago, but I forgot to hit the send button on it back then. Someone over on Reddit reminded me about it today, so here it is.

He's also done promotional work for the Shrine and DeMolay.

Brother Paisley was duly constituted a 32° Scottish Rite Mason in the Southern Jurisdiction on October 28, 2006 at the House of the Temple in Washington D.C. According to an article in the Northern Light Magazine, he was in the Washington-Baltimore area as part of a concert tour. Both Brad and his keyboardist Kendall Marcy joined the Scottish Rite that day:
Joining Brad for this ceremony was his father Doug Paisley, 32°, who works with Brad on his tours as man- ager and bus driver. Sovereign Grand Commander Seale, with help from Inspectors General Hoyt Samples, 33°, of Tennessee, C.B. Hall, 33°, of West Virginia, and Hans Wilhelmsen, 33°, of Maryland, presided over the event. In addition to Paisley and Marcy joining the Scottish Rite, country music legend “Little Jimmie” Dickens was honored. He is known for his work on the TV show Hee Haw and on stage at the Grand Ole Opry.

Unfortunately for the proliferation of Internet errors, there are dozens of web links mis-numbering Paisley's Mother lodge as #4 and even #107. Hiram Lodge 7 is noteworthy on its own, even without the worldwide fame of Brother Brad. Originally built in 1823, it was the tallest building west of the Allegheny Mountains. Their building is the only known meeting site between a sitting President and representatives of a Native American Nation, when President Andrew Jackson met with a delegation from the Chickasaw Indians to sign a treaty in 1826. It's listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

If anyone knows just when Brad Paisley became a Master Mason there, I'll be happy to update this post. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Students Create Masonic Mural in Myrtle Beach

Do you have a newer, plain, utilitarian looking temple building that people drive past every day and never notice? There's a way to change that. Here is a perfect example of a lodge and community partnership benefitting each other.

The local students in Coastal Carolina University's Arts 499 'Special Topics in Art' class teamed up with Grand Strand Lodge 392 in North Myrtle Beach. Freemasonry and the lodge provided the inspiration and a very big canvas in the form of a large, blank wall, and the students executed a beautiful, traffic-stopping mural depicting Masonic symbolism, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. (Click the photos to enlarge.)

Janet Blackmon Morgan at the Sun News has posted 13 photos of the student artists at work on the lodge mural as the project nears completion at myrtlebeachonline.com

The mural was designed by the class' lecturer, Brother Brian "Cat" Taylor. He teaches the class each summer semester, and students learn the history and contemporary use of public art, especially in more urban settings. Each year, they also get the practical experience of working on an actual project like this one. 

Taylor teaches true 'street art,' not paint vandalism 101, and murals designed by him and his students dot the landscape around campus and the surrounding towns that make up South Carolina's Grand Strand beach communities. He seems to have a good working relationship with the nearby town of Conway (where the university is located) and others in the area, and his students have executed murals in the past that have been designed as part of supported community projects. Many cities and chambers of commerce are ecstatic to have serious artists decorate blank cinderblock walls (Naperville, Illinois is very supportive of these projects, for example). A call to your local college with an art program could very well yield a happy result. 

(Just be sure you don't run afoul of local zoning and signage laws before you start painting! If your town is restrictive, as an alternative, see if an art class might decorate your lodge room, instead.)

Grand Strand Lodge 392 is located at 919 6th Avenue in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

H/T Ed Potter

UPDATE 6/22/2017:

I was just sent a link to another project, this one from Greenwood Lodge 253 in Greenwood, Washington. Designed artists Jacob Dixon and James Nielson. (That's a window in the lower right.) According to Dixon's website, it was done in the summer of 2014 and took 50 days to execute.

Then there's this mural of 'Legends of Masons' on the side of Grapevine Lodge 288 in Grapevine, Texas. (I can't find the artist of this one.)

And this one of Prince all on the Prince Hall Public School in Boston, Massachusetts.

The multi-language Masonic wiki website, Friemauer-Wiki has a page dedicated to Masonic  murals and street art HERE.

H/T Christopher Sicurella

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Alberta, Canada's Legislature Declares June 24th as Masonic Day

After my post last week about Arizona's Governor Ducey declaring 'Freemasonry Day,' I got a note from Brother Ilya Raykhlin of Bow River Lodge 1 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It seems that Calgary's Mayor has declared June 24th annually as 'Freemasons Day' starting back in 2013. Then Edmonton's Mayor followed suit last year. Now, the whole Province of Alberta has jumped in on the idea.

From Brother Raykhlin's e-mail:
This is wonderful news to all of the brethren in the Canadian province of Alberta, and we share in Arizona's delight as our provincial government has also just declared June 24th as Masonic Day in Alberta (see above).
Personally, this recognition of our fraternity’s contributions to society at large and to our communities specifically, is how I plan to help turn the tide on the falling membership and participation levels that have plagued our North American lodges for decades.
I am the founder of Freemasons Day in Calgary, and the Chairman of the Freemasons Day Planning Committee. Back in 2013, I successful lobbied our municipal government to formally recognize June 24th as Freemasons Day, and our Mayor has continued to proclaim this every year since. He also attends and speaks at our annual Open House at Freemasons Hall, and he has become an outspoken supporter of the Craft.
As a result, the Mayor of Edmonton — our provincial capital — became inspired to show his city’s gratitude to our organization, and in 2016 also declared June 24th as the first Masonic Day in Edmonton.
Masons have a long history in Alberta. The first Premier of the Province of Alberta was a Mason. As were the first Mayors of Calgary and Edmonton. And of course, so was the first Prime Minister of Canada.
Consequently, just on time for this year’s celebrations in Calgary and Edmonton — and in recognition of this being the 300th anniversary of the founding for the Grand Lodge of England — our provincial legislature has also formally recognized June 24th as Masonic Day in Alberta (below).

It is my goal to see to it that Freemasonry returns to its former prominence, especially in a day an age where people have become so disconnected and hopeless. This sort of formal recognition of our past is such great publicity, that it serves to promote what we still do and stand for to an audience of young men who otherwise would be too distracted to notice. Here in Calgary, our annual Open House which has served to both celebrate Freemasons Day with our brethren, as well as to build new bridges with the citizens of our city — has led to increases in membership across all participating lodges.
If June 24th became recognized and celebrated in every jurisdiction as Freemasons Day, what would our numbers look like in a decade? Something to think about.
In the meantime, if you would like a quick overview of the history of Freemasonry in Calgary, please visit our website at www.freemasonsday.com, where you will also find our Mayor’s 2017 declaration letter.
 (Click the images above to enlarge them.)

L'Union Française Lodge 17 in New York and the 'Cosmopolitan 10th District'

My apologies for the short notice, but I just found out about this coming Tuesday's event over on Jay Hochberg's blog, the Magpie Mason. Way too many of you guys in the northeast part of the U.S. don't know how lucky you are to live within an easy train ride of the greatest variety of Masonic lodges in the country. Take the opportunity to travel, and do it often!

The oldest lodge of the world-famous 10th Manhattan District, L’Union Française No. 17, chartered in 1797,
 will initiate four candidates this Tuesday evening, June 20th. The ritual will be conferred in French, and appropriately in the French Doric Room on the 10th Floor of New York's Grand Lodge building at 71 West 23rd Street in Manhattan.

L’Union Française No. 17 will confer the Entered Apprentice Degree using the 'French Rite' ritual, which features rites of purification elements of Rosicrucian origin kept alive since 1797. UF17's degrees are similar to the ten famed, formerly French lodges in Louisiana that work what are often referred to as 'Scottish Rite Craft degrees' or as 'Red Lodges.' 

L’Union Française 17's Tuesday event details are:

Tuesday, June 20 at 6 p.m.Masonic Hall71 West 23rd Street, ManhattanFrench Doric Room, 10th floor
The degree will begin at 6:45, after which no one will be admitted. 

Arrive EARLY, because the room is NOT large, and these evenings tend to fill up very fast.

Photo ID is required to enter Masonic Hall, and your current membership card is required to work your way into the lodge room. Brethren will retire to a nearby restaurant afterward ($50 per person, cash only).

The French Rite or 'Modern Rite' was originally developed by the Grand Orient of France in the 1780s (back when everybody recognized them). They decided that the hauts grades were quickly swelling up and getting out of hand, so they essentially took the 'Scottish Rite' degree system and limited it to just seven degrees. Also in New York's 10th District, Garibaldi Lodge confers their degrees using similar ritual, derived from the French Rite, but worked in Italian. 

UF17 is the oldest lodge in the 10th Manhattan District. It was chartered back on Christmas Day in 1797, but its origin was an earlier 1773 lodge known simply as "The French Lodge, formed by French Huguenot refugees and French soldiers who came with Rochambeau and Marquis de Lafayette for the American Revolution. Just two years after receiving their charter (originally #14—it's a long story), they were invited to be the first lodge to walk in the procession for George Washington's Masonic funeral service at Mount Vernon on December 30th of 1799.

The lodge had many early members who immigrated to New York from Louisiana and Saint-Domingue (the French name for Hispaniola for about ten minutes until Toussaint Louverture and the slave rebellions threw them all out and created Haiti in 1804). Another early member was Pierre-Napoleon Bonaparte, nephew of Old Boney himself.

It was also John James Joseph Gourgas' lodge. He was actually born in Switzerland in 1777, and went on to become the first Secretary General of the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction in 1826 and its third Sovereign Grand Commander from 1832 to 1851, during the misery of both the anti-Masonic period and the Cerneau mess. Which is a whole 'nuther story...

There are 16 lodges today in the 10th Manhattan District, and they grew out of the enormous immigrant populations that came to America and settled in the New York City area. The Tenth Manhattan is home to the lodges permitted to work Craft degrees in French, Italian, and Spanish, and more, which differ—often substantially—from the traditional Preston-Webb rituals you find in almost every other state in the U.S. (with the notable exception of Pennsylvania). 

It's not for nothing that this group of lodges refers to themselves as the 'Cosmopolitan Tenth,' which is how you'll find them on Facebook these days: 

    Abravanel, New York
    Alba, New York
    All Seeing Eye, New York
    Anatolia, New York
    Archimede-Roma, Baldwin
    Brazilian, New York
    Columbus-Davinci-Galilei, New York
    France L.C.A.C., New York
    Garibaldi, New York
    Hellenic – Plato, New York
    La Fraternidad, New York
    La Sincerite, New York
    La Universal, New York
    L’Union Francaise, New York
    Mazzini, New York
    Parthenon, Long Island City

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Arizona's Governor Proclaims June 24th, 2017 as 'Freemasonry Day'

Arizona's Governor Douglas Ducey has officially proclaimed June 24th, 2017 as 'Freemasonry Day' all across the Grand Canyon state to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the 1717 founding of the premiere Grand Lodge of England in London. 

Kingman Mayor Monica Gates and Kingman 22's Master Ken Chism

Not to be outdone, the Mayor of Kingman, Arizona, Monica Gates, has also declared June 24th as 'Free and Accepted Mason Day.' 

Kingman Lodge 22's Master Ken Chism was on hand for the occasion.

From a Friday story in the Daily Miner newspaper in Kingman, Arizona:

Freemasonry continued to expand over the years to encompass the nation, including the Arizona Territory about 150 years ago.
Kingman’s local Freemasonry lodge, No. 22, came into existence in 1915. The fraternity, including Lodge No. 22, has become well-known throughout the world for their philanthropy and charity work that Mayor Monica Gates has proclaimed June 24, 2017 as Free and Accepted Masons Day in the City of Kingman.
The proclamation of a specific day to honor the Freemasonry fraternity is a big step for an organization that has been in existence for centuries.
“We try to improve not only the individual, but also the community,” said Ken Chism, Kingman lodge’s Worshipable Master. “We make good men better. It’s not a political fraternity. It’s not a religious fraternity.”
June 24 will be the official 300th anniversary of Free and Accepted Masonry.
While the fraternity has been around for much longer than 300 years, the title and recognition of Free and Accepted Masons was not established until 1717.
 The Mayor’s official recognition of the fraternity, as well as the proclamation of “Free and Accepted Masons Day” on June 24 has excited many of the local lodge members.
“It means a strong growth for the fraternity,” said Chism.
Along with Kingman’s dedication of the 300th anniversary, Arizona’s Governor Douglas Ducey also proclaimed June 24 as Freemasons Day.
“On behalf of the Grand Lodge of Arizona, I have requested and received a Proclamation from Governor Douglas Ducey that this day will be proclaimed Freemasonry Day in the State of Arizona,” wrote Scott Thomas, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Arizona in a post on the lodge’s website. “We should as Masons, all be proud of our Fraternity because we will have the benefit of this public recognition in our community to commemorate this anniversary.”
To celebrate this monumental anniversary, the local Kingman lodge will hold an open house event for the community.
Chism said that locals will be welcome to come by and tour the lodge.
The Lodge No. 22 membership will serve refreshments, and attendees will be able to learn a little bit more about the fraternity.
The open house will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 24 at the Kingman Masonic Lodge located at 212 N. Fourth St.
Kingman Lodge is unique, as it was originally built in 1939 as a public WPA project, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.