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Thursday, October 31, 2013

New TO Lodge in North Carolina

North Carolina has started a new Traditional Observance lodge, and the local press covered the event.
From the Salisbury Post today:

When you first hear about 18th century classical music playing, the burning of incense, the candlelight setting and the periods for meditation, you might ask whether the Masons’ new Sophia Lodge is filled with flower children.
Even the lodge’s meal after the regular meeting is called the “Agape,” the ancient Greek word for love, and it’s enjoyed within the backdrop of brotherly love.

But the Sophia Lodge — the first “Traditional Observance” lodge in North Carolina — is anything but laid-back. It actually offers its members a harder-core version of Freemasonry that Lodge Master Larry Thompson says isn’t for everyone.
The lodge dues are much higher. There’s a dress code in which tuxedos are encouraged — a minimum requirement is a black suit, white shirt and black tie.
The Agape, always catered and usually held at a local restaurant, is filled with formal toasts steeped in the tradition of Freemasonry and discussions of papers presented during the regular meeting.
Those papers might touch on topics such as symbolism, initiation, ritual, metaphysics, philosophy and art and their relationship to Masonry.
These are not lodge meetings devoted to the reading of minutes or payment of bills. There are no discussions about social activities or upcoming charity fundraisers.
Rather, the Traditional Observance lodge tries “to create an atmosphere where members can learn the lessons of Freemasonry and how they can be inculcated into their daily lives,” says Dennis V. Chornenky, president of the Masonic Restoration Foundation.
N.C. Grand Master Dewey Preslar says the Sophia Lodge could be for Masons who feel like they’re missing something at their local lodge.
Masons from across North Carolina — many of them high-ranking leaders within the fraternity — met in Salisbury last week for a ceremony signifying the Sophia Lodge’s establishment.
It is not yet considered among the state’s 371 chartered Masonic lodges, but Thompson says if everything goes as planned, North Carolina’s grand master will charter Sophia Lodge by September 2014.
The Masonic Restoration Foundation, which provides education and support for Traditional Observance lodges, lists only 39 of these kinds of lodges in the United States.
The name “Sophia” comes from a Greek word for “wisdom.”
As of now, Sophia Lodge has 34 members with another application in the works. Preslar — the state’s first grand master from Salisbury in 75 years — is a member, as are five of nine Grand Lodge officers in Raleigh.
North Carolina has roughly 44,500 Masons.
The ceremony last Thursday night drew 51 Masons, reflecting how important this kind of lodge is, Preslar says.
“It’s generating a lot more interest than we thought,” adds Thompson, who first became a Mason in 2000 as a member of Blackmer Lodge No. 12 in Mount Gilead.
Though all the current Sophia Lodge participants belong to lodges elsewhere, Sophia Lodge eventually will be initiating men new to the Masonic order.
“This could be your only lodge, if you wanted it to be,” Thompson says.
The Traditional Observance lodges are characterized by a much more solemn, ritualistic approach. Members and officers are quiet as they ceremoniously march into the lodge room and take their seats.
Traditional Observance calls for periods of silence and meditation. A Tibetan singing bowl resonates during one time of reflection, when the Masons are contemplative and trying to push their everyday thoughts and worries from their minds.
As part of the schedule, the classical music played is meant to reacquaint the members with its relationship to Masonic traditions.
Thompson says Traditional Observance emphasizes the use of the five senses — a reason, for example, for the singing bowl, music, low lighting and burning of incense. The focus also is on introspection, “trying to be the best we can be,” Thompson explains.
After the lodge meeting is formally closed, Traditional Observance calls for the members to gather at the altar for a ceremony known as the Chain of Union.
Chornenky says it is “meant to symbolize the common commitment to Masonic ideals and connection with other Masons from all over the world.”
Besides the presentation of papers at regular lodge meetings, Sophia Lodge will be scheduling guest speakers on other dates through the year.
Those speakers most likely will be authors and lecturers on Masonic observances, Thompson says.
The demographics behind Masons look to be getting older. The average age of Freemasons in North Carolina is 60.5.
Maybe surprisingly, a younger age group seems to be drawn to the Traditional Observance lodges such as Sophia, whose average age is 51. The youngest member is 33; the oldest, 72.
“This type of lodge is growing across the country,” Preslar says.
As grand master, Preslar has constituted two new lodges this year. Sophia is the second.
Preslar’s year as grand master winds up Dec. 7.
“We’ve had a great year,” he says. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

Thursday, October 24, 2013

National Treasure 3 Within Two Years

From the Worst Previews website today:

"National Treasure" hit theaters back in 2004 and went on to gross $348 million worldwide on a budget of $100 million. Considering the budget, the film wasn't considered a huge hit, but a sequel was greenlit. That sequel was released three years later and grossed a whopping $457 million.

Clearly there's a fan-base for this franchise, butDisneyhas yet to move forward with a third installment. Now that director Jon Turtletaub is promoting his "Last Vegas" film, Collider asked why we have yet to see "National Treasure 3."

"It's so damn hard to write a great historical mystery based on fact," he replied. "We want to do the movie.Disneywants to do the movie. We're just having the damnedest timewritingit."

Turtletaub continued: "I'd say we're about half-way there. It's not onlywritinga great historical mystery, but we've gotta write something that has nothing to do with anything we've done before. We really want to make sure that the third one doesn't just feel like a repeat of the first one."

When asked if he believes "National Treasure 3" will ever happen, he replied "I do. I'll bet that within two years, we'll be shooting that movie."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Congressional Stenographer Suffers Freemason Derangement Syndrome

Did anyone else see this tonight?


A Congressional stenographer went berserk Wednesday night during the vote in the House to raise the debt limit and reopen the government. The woman named Dianne Reidy got up to the microphone and began yelling, "“He [God] will not be mocked,” as she was dragged off by security. “The greatest deception here is that this is not one nation under God. It never was. It would not have been. The Constitution would not have been written by Freemasons. They go against God. You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God. Praise be to Jesus!”

Watch the clip here.


Better audio here.





Stone and Time Capsule Moved By GL of Michigan


The cornerstone and time capsule to a long lost Masonic site has been found in Michigan and moved to the Grand Lodge.


It's a moment almost 90 years in the making that was nearly lost in time itself.
A 3,000-pound Masonic stone that hid from its members for years traveled across town Tuesday morning before coming to a final resting place at the Grand Rapids Masonic Lodge.
The stone, much like the time capsule it once held, tells a story of the fraternity's grandest of celebrations in the Grand Rapids area nearly a century ago.
That is, before it was forgotten — twice.
"I want to learn of the men who put the stone there … I know what I went through to get it here, I can only imagine what they went through to put it there," said Michael Clark, a local Freemason.
"I am so happy that maybe I've done a little bit to continue what they started — that's Masonry; we always look back to those that came before us."
Clark joined the local Masonic fraternity in 1976 before moving to Florida and returning years later in 2008.
A self-described history buff, he's poured over minutes of the Grand Rapids Masonic Lodge No. 34 and discovered references to a "Cryptic Deposit" located on the site of the former Masonic County Club in Walker, which now is home to the Green Ridge Square shopping center.
Freemasons across Michigan gathered by the thousands in 1922 at the site of the country club, celebrating the opening of the new course for their members.
It featured 27 holes, tennis courts and a giant amphitheater to host sporting events and more. The Grand Rapids Herald at the time called it "an impressive ceremony" with a 40-instrument band providing entertainment.
The Freemasons were so proud of their achievements that they chiseled a hole inside one of the largest stones on the site and put in it a time capsule, not to be opened until June 19, 1999, 75 years after its dedication.
It contained a coin, some letters to future mayors of Grand Rapids and Michigan, in addition to a small trowel, which is a Masonic symbol, Clark said.
No one really remembered the course nor the time capsule until some 75 years later, in 1999, when Amy Van Steenbergen, living in Virginia, inquired.

"A lady called … saying, 'When I was a little girl, my grandfather attended the dedication and told my father to tell me he wanted me to attend. So when's the ceremony?'" Clark said. "We said, 'We had no idea what you're talking about.'"

From The Grand Rapids Press, in 1999:
"The morning of June 19, she, her brother, Michael Hill of Albuquerque, N.M., nephew John Frisk, of Salt Lake City, and her husband, Terry, parked their car along the road behind Green Ridge shopping center. They got out and walked up the hill toward the old ninth green. Terry carried a metal detector, scanning the ground, looking for the time capsule, but finding nothing but junk."
About a week after the story was published, a local neighbor contacted the Masonic Temple, Clark said. She knew where the crypt holding the large stone was and led members of the Michigan Masonic Library to its hiding place.
But the time capsule and the bronze door had been removed — likely decades earlier — its contents yet again lost, Clark said. Because the stone was really of no value to anyone with no real plans to have it moved, the stone's location again was lost.
Clark said it's been his personal journey since 2008 to find the deposit.
With a map of the original country club in hand that year, Clark said he explored an area near the original 9th hole of the course, yelled "Where are you!?" and found it just yards away from where Van Steenbergen and her family walked just a decade ago.
A team of three workers from River Ridge Landscaping helped to lift the stone from its spot to its new home Grand Rapids Masonic Temple for a little more than $1,000 in equipment and manpower.
Plans now are in development to create a new time capsule to be placed inside the stone to celebrate the Grand Rapids Masonic Temple building's 100th anniversary in 2015.
And when that day comes around, Van Steenbergen wants to be there.
"Moving the stone is a good idea because it's something historical that the Freemasons can keep an eye on," she said. "It just is something like a family mystery to me ... my dad told me to go there, and I'll look forward to finally getting the chance."

Standards


From the Kansas Freemasons. H/T to Michael Halleran.

Aaron Shoemaker Elected to Masonic Society Board


I'm happy to pass along the news that Brother Aaron Shoemaker has been selected to fill the vacant Fellow Member position on The Masonic Society board of directors. Aaron is a Founding Fellow of The Masonic Society. He is also editor for the Missouri Lodge of Research and Chairman of the Truman Lecture Series. Congratulations, my friend!

Monday, October 14, 2013

New York Attorney Helps To Save Detroit Masonic Temple

A young New York attorney has emerged as a protector of the Detroit Masonic Temple.

From today's Detroit News:


If ever the world’s largest Masonic Temple needed a crusading knight to fend off bill collectors and lawyers, that time is now.
From the east comes a third-generation Mason, originally from Farmington Hills. When New York City attorney Bradley Dizik read in April the historic Cass Corridor institution was in tax foreclosure, he took it as a call to arms. Dizik is helping slay the temple’s debt and vanquish a lawsuit. He’s playing a major role in the quest to return the temple as a significant entertainment venue, and trumpet the Masonic brilliance of the 1,037-room facility.
“I am a protector of the temple,” said Dizik, who just turned 30. “My job is to screen people. No more bad actors will be allowed to enter.” Since May, he has held the title of special adviser to the Masonic Temple’s board of trustees.
Dizik isn’t the only who has come to the temple’s aid since The Detroit News revealed six months ago the facility owed Wayne County $142,000 in back taxes. It faced being sold at the annual auction of foreclosed properties. Bidding for the 14-story Gothic structure, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, would have started at $160,000. Out of the blue, Detroit-born rocker Jack White stepped forward and paid the tax bill.
“We’ve got much support, not just from him but many people who understand that the Masonic Temple is a priceless asset,” said Roger Sobran, president of the Masonic Temple Association. “We certainly appreciate Brad’s enthusiasm and skill. He’s playing a big part.”
Dizik specializes in tackling large, complex financial battles. The North Farmington High graduate went to Georgetown University Law, where he obtained a master’s of law degree in securities and financial regulation. He worked for the Washington law firm that handled General Motors’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy. He once did a stint in Kyrgyzstan to defend a client. Earlier this year, he started his own consulting firm, Tiberian Regulatory Advisers .
“I’m an anti-corruption lawyer. I just hate seeing good people getting taken advantage of; I always want to correct that,” he said. He now spends about half his time in Detroit and at the Masonic Temple. “I am helping them restructure.”


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Masonic Cops Discriminated Against in England

Official discrimination against Freemasons in England continues apace, despite EU court rulings and the changes in regulations a few years ago that put an end to Jack Straw's witch hunt against Freemason police and judges. Thankfully in the US we don't have to deal with such nonsense, but our English brethren continue to be 

The Hillsborough disaster was an incident that occurred on 15 April 1989 at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England, during the FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest football clubs. The crush resulted in the deaths of 96 people and injuries to 766 others. The incident has since been blamed primarily on the police. The incident remains the worst stadium-related disaster in British history and one of the world's worst football disasters.


From today's Mirror:



Police officers who are Freemasons have been banned from working on the criminal investigation into the Hillsborough cover-up.
The revelation adds weight to the theory that members of the secretive organisation suppressed the truth after 96 Liverpool fans died in 1989.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission took the unusual move after families of the football fans who died in the disaster demanded that no members of a lodge be involved.
All of the employees in the IPCC investigation have also been told they cannot be from South Yorkshire or Merseyside, where the tragedy occurred.
Former West Midlands Police officers have also been banned after their force carried out a review that led to the flawed inquest verdicts being quashed last year.
Officers from the force have also been accused of changing witness statements.
The probe into the police’s role on the day of the disaster – codenamed Operation Resolve – employs 170 people, including 70 officers. The latest review, led by former Durham chief constable Jon Stoddart, was expected to report soon but the team has been swamped with evidence and has to interview 237 officers who were on duty at the match.
A source close to the probe said: “We have been told that no Freemasons are allowed on the investigation.
“One theory at the time was that the whole conspiracy was covered up by the group’s members as there are so many Masons in the police.
“The families have raised concerns… so we have prohibited them from being part of the investigation team. The deadline that officers were working towards is impossible and the review’s findings will be delayed.”
An IPCC source confirmed that Freemasons and former officers from the three forces had been banned from the probe.
The investigation team, while independent from the fresh inquests into the deaths, is helping coroner Lord Justice Goldring to prepare for and carry out the inquests, set to start by March 3, 2014.
Hillsborough was Britain’s worst-ever sporting disaster. Thousands of fans were crushed on the Sheffield Wednesday ground’s Leppings Lane terrace during Liverpool’s 1989 FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.
Last December verdicts of accidental death from the original Hillsborough inquest in March 1991 were quashed.
The action was taken after the Hillsborough Independent Panel reported that there had been a huge cover-up.
The IPCC has previously revealed that statements given by witnesses could have been changed by police.
Secret society pervades the establishment
The Freemasons is a “fraternal brotherhood” dating back to the 14th century. It started as an organisation to monitor the qualifications of stonemasons.
But in modern times the organisation is seen as an elitist group that has been dogged by allegations of corruption.
The all-male group, governed by the United Grand Lodge of England, has 250,000 members. Many figures in authority are Freemasons. The first US president, George Washington, and another leading American revolutionary, Benjamin Franklin, were Masons. Today a significant proportion of the Royal household are members, and the Duke of Kent is grand master of the UGLE.
Despite royal patronage, and their presence in the judiciary and the higher reaches of the City, the Masons deny being an underground arm of the Establishment.

Friday, October 11, 2013

NJ's Atlas Pythagoras No. 10 To Host Symposium

Cliff Porter, Timothy Hogan, and Anthony Mongelli will appear at New Jersey's Atlas Pythagoras Lodge No. 10 on November 2nd.

An outstanding Masonic Education Symposium will be hosted at Atlas Pythagoras Lodge No. 10 F&AM on Saturday November 2nd, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. featuring the following Masonic authors: WB Cliff Porter, WB Timothy Hogan and Bro. Anthony Mongelli. If you are interested in Masonic Enlightenment, then you would not want to miss this event.

Tickets are on sale at http://www.porterhoganmongelli.com/ for $25 per person which include Lunch. Books will be available for purchase and autograph. Please sign up now to help us properly plan for food.

Atlas Pythagoras Lodge No. 10 F&AM is located at 1011 Central Avenue in Westfield, NJ 07090. This event is open to Master Masons only. and dues cards will be checked.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Bay City, MI Event Cancelled

My trip next weekend to the Bay City, Michigan Scottish Rite has been cancelled and rescheduled for February 22nd of next year. My apologies to anyone who was coming, but the turnout was going to be too small. So we've rescheduled for a date when they will be conferring degrees next year. Looking forward to being there.

Fire Guts Quincy, Mass. Temple

Yesterday, fire gutted the beautiful Masonic Temple in Quincy, Massachusetts.

From the Patriot Ledger:


Firefighters have put out the four-alarm blaze that ripped through the Masonic Temple on Hancock Street in Quincy. However, crews will remain at the charred building overnight to make sure it doesn't flare up again.
As of 3:40 p.m., firefighters had stopped dumping water on the building and no flames or smoke were visible. The fire started at about noon Monday when two construction workers were using grinders on the heating system in the basement, Leo Martin, the realtor who has agreed to buy the building, said.
"All our history is gone," David Elsner, head of the Masonic Temple Association of Quincy, said. The Rural Lodge of Masons has occupied the building since it was erected in 1926.
As of 6 p.m., the section of Hancock Street that had been previously closed as crews battled the fire was partially re-opened to traffic.
Firefighters were ordered out of the building shortly after arriving because of the heavy flames, Quincy Fire Chief Joseph Barron said. Ladder trucks from Quincy and Boston's fire departments responded to the blaze.
Thick billows of black smoke could be seen from miles away. As flames shot out of the temple’s roof, large crowds gathered at street corners and in parking lots in Quincy Center, black-charred debris raining down from the sky.
Quincy Police Chief Paul Keenan said there were no injuries and none of the surrounding buildings were evacuated. However, a reporter observed that the Sovereign Bank and Citizens Bank near the temple had closed early Monday.
For several hours, a portion of Hancock Street - from the Adams Street intersection to the rotary at the Church of Presidents - was closed to all traffic. As a result, all drop-offs and pick-ups at the Quincy Center MBTA were diverted to the Burgin Parkway side of the T station.
Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, who was attending a meeting on Hancock Street when the fire started, said the roof has collapsed.
“Hopefully the shell will survive," Koch said.
Leo Martin, a Quincy realtor who has agreed to purchase the temple, said the fire started shortly after noon when two construction workers were "grinding out a heat line" in the basement, and the insulation caught fire. The two employees exited the building safely, Martin said.
The Quincy Masonic Temple, a neoclassical structure built in 1926 for the Freemasons, is valued by the city's assessors at $3 million. The Rural Lodge of Masons currently have about 400 members, Elsner said.
"It's an architectural jewel," lodge member Jim Bennette of Weymouth said. Bennettee rushed to the temple once he heard about the fire.
"We love this building," he said. "We care about this building. It's a great loss for the whole city and the South Shore."
The three-story building, at 1170 Hancock St., was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. The building, 21,653 square feet in size, stands out because of its archaic stone facade, which includes four pillars and a gold Freemason symbol at the entrance.
Hanover-based broker 1st US Realty listed the property for sale over the summer. Elsner said Martin had plans to rehabiliate the temple and continue allowing the masons to use it.


H/T Michael Dodge

From Temples to Condos

Last week, the Wall Street Journal featured a depressing article about the increasingly common story of Masonic temples being turned into condominiums. Read it here.