Wednesday, August 27, 2014
From today on NPR:
The members of the Queen Anne Masonic Lodge near downtown Seattle are on the young side. The guy in charge is 26.Danny Done, the lodge's worshipful master, is lounging on his designated chair in the room reserved for private ceremonies.His title comes with a top hat, though he avoids putting it on — he says it makes him look dorky. But he does like other aspects of Masonic regalia, like his Templar sword. Done uses it to point to a diagram on the wall that charts out the different kinds of Masonry."Here, you have the first three degrees of Masonry," he explains, motioning to the chart. "Which gets you to, basically, the beginning step of this section, which is called the Scottish rite. And the Scottish rite was invented from a lecture series by a Scotsman in France."Yes, one of America's oldest fraternities, the Masons, is still around. And in a conversation with Done, you quickly find they aren't nearly as secretive as you'd hoped — particularly in Washington state. Rules in each state are set by a "Grand Lodge," and Washington's claims to be relatively liberal in the rules governing what can be shared about the organization's ceremonies.There's so much information on the Internet about those rituals, many Masons say, that there's little point in being mysterious about them. Forging In-Person Connections In An Online WorldFor Done, the appeal of Freemasonry is pretty basic. "A lot of my best friends are here, and all of their friends typically come around, too, and it just becomes a really interesting social network that's not online," he says.A generation ago, Freemasonry began to decline, and many of the fraternity's buildings around the country were being turned into movie theaters. Membership in the U.S. fell from almost 4.1 million in 1960 to about 1.3 million in 2012. While membership is still falling, those declines have been less steep in recent years."Twenty years ago, I would not have been optimistic," says William Moore, a scholar of American Freemasonry who teaches American studies at Boston University. "I would have said, 'Yes, they were relics of a time that's left behind.' "But historically, he says, the fraternity does well during times of economic instability for men. The U.S. is in that kind of time right now.And some millennials, Moore says, are looking for the kind of long-lasting commitment available in a lodge."They know that those men will be their brothers no matter what their economic structure is," Moore says. "So they know that they can change jobs five, six, seven times in their careers, but they won't be changing the lodge they belong to; they won't be changing the men who are their fraternal brothers."On a warm Saturday, 150 brothers are on their lunch break in a private Masonic park about an hour outside of Seattle. They're in the woods, but they're also wearing suits, because they're here for the outdoor version of the Masonic initiation ceremony.There are brothers here from Prince Hall lodges, which are historically African-American, as well as brothers from Canada. In fact, the grand master of British Columbia, Philip Durell, is here — his proper title is grand master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient and Accepted Freemasons of British Columbia and Yukon.Still 'Just Guys'If you ask Durell about the fraternity's rule excluding women, he admits that it's "tough to defend." But, he says, the rule means a lot to the brothers. "Men behave differently when women are there. And they don't open up the same way as they will when it's just guys there."A few lodges in the U.S. do initiate women, but they're not recognized by the more traditional Masons. The organization instead points to special sister organizations for women, like the Order of the Eastern Star, and the fact that wives are often part of a lodge's social life — they just can't take part in the ceremonies.So back at the Masonic Family Park, the women do crafts while the men hold their ceremony. Vicky Roberts, the wife, or "lady," of Washington state's grand master, says she doesn't resent being excluded."Men are generally not as social as ladies are," she says. "They get stressed out — they don't really make the time that the ladies do to connect with other men."The men need that time, Roberts says. And besides, she adds, the women are probably having a better time in their part of the campground, eating and chatting, while the men spend the day in the woods, sweating in their suits.
From WVUE Channel 8 in New Orleans, by Dave McNamara:
Symbols are an important part of the fraternity of Masons. They adorn Masonic lodges, and members wear the emblems or jewels. The Masonic lodge in Greensburg dates back to the early 1850s. During the Civil War, Union troops took over the Greensburg lodge, and when the troops left Louisiana, something very valuable left with them.
"We knew that the lodge had been used as a barracks and that it was pretty well looted, you know, at the time of the Civil War," said Lodge Master Chuck Coburn. "That was in our history."
The stolen items included pure silver artifacts. All have deep meaning to the Masonic brothers.
"I like to make a comparison to them like a family heirloom," Coburn said.
For 150 years, the jewels were missing and presumed to be lost forever. But early this year, they resurfaced at a Masonic lodge in California.
"I was presented with these jewels that were given to us by a retiring or elderly brother who had them for apparently many years that were passed down to him and given to his father because he was a Mason," said Jeff Hertig lodge master at the Consuelo Lodge.
"We happened to have gotten along with the jewels a small 100-year-old note written by someone giving us some names to get the investigation started," said George Tegart, also with Consuelo .
"The note said they came from Charles Harvey, a soldier from Kane County, Illinois.
Harvey was later transferred into Company K of the Illinois 15th Calvary Regiment and ended up in this area around the end, around the early parts of 1864. A reading of Louisiana Masonic archives showed that the Greensburg lodge was missing its jewels.
"That was really a big eureka moment, all my gosh, we know who lost them," Tegart said.
California's Consuelo Lodge traveled to Greensburg, and in a special Masonic ceremony, hand over a long lost jewels.
But the jewels aren't the only things this group has lost over the years. The lodge in Greensburg burned down in 1950. Every single artifact in the building was lost. And that makes these historic jewels even more important.
From today's Toledo (Ohio) Blaze:
A local man was sentenced Tuesday to four months at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio for trying to set fire to the Toledo Masonic Complex, which will be followed by six months at the Correctional Treatment Facility in Toledo.Nathan Wietrzykowski, 25, of 817 Ketcham Ave., also was placed on community control for five years by Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Frederick McDonald. He had pleaded no contest Aug. 12 to attempted arson for throwing a brick and a Molotov cocktail through a window at the Secor Road complex on May 21.Patricia Wardrop, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, said that Masonic Complex representatives were shaken by the incident and a similar one on June 2.Wietrzykowski invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent when the judge asked him why he had targeted the complex. The judge ordered that he have no contact with the victim as a condition of his community control.
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Monday, August 11, 2014
I will be the subject of a question and answer period luncheon at the fifth annual Masonic Restoration Foundation annual symposium in Cincinnati on this Saturday, August 16th at 11:30AM. The Symposium will be held at the Cincinnati Masonic Center at 315 East 5th Street between August 15-17th. The Symposium will feature speakers and workshops focussed on enabling Masons and Lodges to improve their Masonic experiences.
The 2014 MRF Symposium will by co-hosted by four lodges, which represent the spectrum of new Lodges that have been formed over the last decade. Lodge Vitruvian No. 767 (IN) and Caliburn Lodge No. 785 (OH) are European Concept Lodges. Lodge Ad Lucem No. 812 (PA) is a Traditional Observance Lodge, and Arts & Sciences Lodge No. 792 (OH) is very much a blend of both styles of lodges with a emphasis on educational discussions in Lodge. Each Lodge will host a signature event during the Symposium to showcase one of their core practices.
This will be a brothers only event. There is no ladies program.
Besides myself, guest speakers at the Symposium include Brothers Oscar Alleyne, Michael Clevenger, Robert Davis, Robert Herd, Shawn Eyer, Paul Smith, and Andrew Hammer. There will be a Festive Board hosted by Lodge Vitruvian No. 767, a Lodge of EAs hosted by Arts and Sciences Lodge No. 792, a Pennsylvania Master Mason degree hosted by Lodge Ad Lucem No. 2, a Scotch Harmony hosted by Caliburn Lodge No. 785, and a Sunday morning panel discussion, as well as speeches and workshops throughout the weekend. There will also be a marketplace.
The Symposium is open to all Master Masons in good standing of Lodges under Grand Lodges recognized by the North American Conference of Grand Masters. Attendees must register and the cost of registration is $100.
The headquarters hotel will be the Holiday Inn Cincinnati Airport Hotel, located at 1717 Airport Exchange Blvd, Erlanger, Kentucky, and the Symposium's Friday and Saturday sessions will be held at the Cincinnati Masonic Center. Sunday's morning session will be held in the Hamilton room of the hotel.
All Symposium attendees will enjoy the Festive Board banquet on Friday. Lunch will be provided on Saturday as will appetizers during the Scotch Harmony. Saturday evening will be an opportunity for attendees to sample the many area restaurants on their own.
For more information, see the Symposium website by clicking here.
I hope you can join us.