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Monday, December 21, 2015

Japanese Book About Freemasonry?

I received a message today from a Brother wanting to know if Freemasons For Dummies is available in Japanese. I'm afraid it's not - French, Dutch, German, Romanian and Turkish, I believe, are the only international editions that have been printed by Wiley.

Does anyone know of a good, introductory book on Freemasonry that's available in Japanese? I have never heard of one. Please let me know at hodapp@aol.com, or post it here as a comment. Many thanks.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Master of Infamous P2 Lodge Dies

The modern world's most notorious clandestine, so-called "Mason" died yesterday.  Licio Gelli, the Venerable Master of Italy's infamous Propaganda Due (P2) Lodge , died at the age of 96 at his house, Villa Wanda, in Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy.

(UPDATED NOTE 12/22/2015: For a much more detailed news article about Gelli than the one cited below, see one from the Telegraph  from 12/16/2015 - CLICK HERE)

From a story in Malta Today:

The venerable master of the clandestine freemasons lodge Propaganda P2, one of Italy’s most sinister organisations believed to be at the heart of a fascist conspiracy, has died

Licio Gelli (born 1919) died on Tuesday, 15 December, at the age of 96 at his house, Villa Wanda, in Arezzo.

La Repubblica dubbed the financier, as the man behind “all of Italy’s darkest mysteries”: in 1981, his P2 lodge was raided by the police, and since then he has been nicknamed ‘the puppetteer’, ‘Belfagor’, and ‘the venerable master’, having played a part in 40 years of scandals against the Italian republic: the Borghese coup, the strategy of tension that rocked Italy in the 1970s, the Sindona bank scandal, the Calvi murder, the Moro assassination, mafia and tangentopoli.

In 2008 he famously declared that Silvio Berlusconi, himself a former member of the P2, was “the only one who could go ahead in politics in Italy” citing him as the man who was putting in action P2’s ‘plan for Italy’s democratic rebirth’ – a clandestine plan to take over the country’s institutions and thwart critical and left-wing opposition.

During the 1930s, Gelli volunteered for the Blackshirts’ expeditionary forces sent by Benito Mussolini in support of Francisco Franco's rebellion in the Spanish Civil War and subsequently became a liaison officer between the Italian government and Nazi Germany, with contacts including Hermann Göring.

He participated in the Italian Social Republic with Giorgio Almirante, founder of the neofascist Italian Social Movement (MSI) – which later became Alleanza Nazionale, which ruled in coalition with Berlusconi’s Popolo della Libertà.

In 1970, during the failed Borghese coup, he was delegated the role of arresting the Italian President, Giuseppe Saragat.

As grand master of the Propaganda Due (P2) lodge, Gelli had ties with very high-level personalities in Italy and abroad, in particular in Argentina, where he was fugitive in Argentina for many years. Gelli affirmed that he introduced Juan Peron to masonry and was also named minister plenipotentiary for cultural affairs in the Argentine embassy in Italy, providing him with diplomatic immunity.

He had four diplomatic passports issued by Argentina, and has been charged in Argentina with falsification of official documents. During the 1970s, Gelli brokered three-way oil and arms deals between Libya, Italy and Argentina through the Agency for Economic Development, which he and Umberto Ortolani owned.

In 1990, a report on RAI Television alleged that the CIA had paid Gelli to foment terrorist activities in Italy. Following this report, which also claimed that the CIA had been involved in the assassination of the Swedish Prime minister Olof Palme, then President Francesco Cossiga requested the opening of investigations while the CIA itself officially denied these allegations.

Gelli's downfall started with the Banco Ambrosiano scandal, which led to a 1981 police raid on his villa and the discovery of the P2 covert lodge. A list of alleged adherents was found by the police in Gelli's house in Arezzo containing 962 names, among which were important state officials, some important politicians and a number of military officers, including the heads of the three Italian secret services.

On the run, Gelli escaped to Switzerland where he was arrested on September 13, 1982 while trying to withdraw tens of millions of dollars in Geneva. Detained in the modern Champ-Dollon Prison near Geneva, he managed to escape and then fled to Chile for four years.

Finally, Gelli surrendered in 1987 in Switzerland to investigative judge Jean-Pierre Trembley. He was wanted in connection with the 1982 collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano and on charges of subversive association in connection with the 1980 Bologna railway station bombing, which killed 85 people.

He was sentenced to two months in prison in Switzerland, while an Italian court sentenced him on December 15, 1987, in absentia, to 8 years in prison on charges of financing right-wing terrorist activity in Tuscany in the 1970s.

Gelli's extradition in February 1988 required a high-level security apparatus, including 100 sharpshooters, decoy cars, a train, roadblocks and two armoured cars to transfer him to Italy.

In July 1988 he was absolved of charges of subversive association by a Bologna court but was presented with a five-year prison term for slander, having side-tracked the investigation into the 1980 bombing of the Bologna train station.

In 1992 Gelli was sentenced to 18 years and six months of prison after being found guilty of fraud concerning the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano in 1982. This sentence was reduced by the Court of Appeal to 12 years. In April 1994 Gelli received a 17-year sentence for divulging state secrets and slandering the investigation, while the court threw out the charge that P2 members conspired against the state; Gelli's sentence was reduced, and he was placed under house arrest two years later.

In 1996, Gelli was nominated as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, supported by Mother Teresa and Naguib Mahfouz.


For more information on the P2 Lodge, have a look at Ed King's Masonic Info page here, and Question 5 on the Anti-Masonry Frequently Asked Questions page of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon website.

-----------------------------------
UPDATE:
I received an email from Brother Cornelius Ludwig who informs me that the bulk of the Malta Today article about Gelli has been almost entirely plagiarized from the Wikipedia article. Sadly, this is the state of news reporting these days. I have looked at the other articles that have been posted over the last few days about Gelli and the P2 lodge by news organizations from all around the world, and not one of them made the point that the lodge had its charter revoked by the Grand Orient of Italy, making it very clear that Gelli and his more than 960 members were acting outside of the laws of both Freemasonry and the nation of Italy. But I'll leave this one on my page because it is more informative than the others.  I will, however, give you the links to Wikipedia's articles on both Licio Gelli and the Propaganda Due organization and its scandals.  This is one of the reasons anti-Freemasonry is  so strong in Europe.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Help Needed For International Freemason Study

Brethren, I received the following message today from Worshipful Brother Vincent Lombardo, a Past Master of Quinte St. Alban’s Lodge No. 620, in Thornhill, Ontario, Canada, a regular lodge chartered by the Grand Lodge of Canada AF&AM in the Province of Ontario. He is seeking information for a huge study he's working on about the statistics and practices of Freemasonry all around the world. Here is his note:


Dear Sir and Brother Hodapp,

I am searching for information for a Study about the present conditions of Freemasonry in the world, which I have undertaken. I already have the answers for Pennsylvania, Montana, New Brunswick, Cuba, Germany, and Italy.

Masonic Protocol does not permit me to contact Grand Lodges directly, and since such information is rarely or not at all available on the internet, I would like to post on your blog an invitation to any brother who has knowledge in the matters pertinent to my study to help me out by sharing with me whatever knowledge he/they may have.

The purpose of this research is to form a snapshot of the Present Conditions of Masonry in the world, as compared to the past, and draw from it lessons that may help us Masons work to address present issues, recognize successes or failures, and find solutions for the better future of our Craft. The sources of the information I may receive will remain completely confidential, and under no circumstance I shall disclose it. At the conclusion of this study I will disclose my findings, but not the sources, to all those who have contributed, and they will be free to use this information as they deem it proper.

I have prepared a series of questions for this study, and I have attached it to this message for your consideration.

I will be grateful for any help you may be able to afford me in this endeavor.
Fraternally,
Vincent Lombardo 


The questionnaire may be downloaded by clicking here: FMStudy.doc

If you read it, you can see that while some of the questions may be answered by lodge Masters or Secretaries, many of them require up to date information that only state or national Grand Masters and Grand Secretaries have access to. This is beyond the scope of even District or Provincial areas.

This is not being done officially by his Grand Lodge - it's a private project - hence his desire to go straight to the Brethren who have this information without the formality of contacting individual GLs through his own GL. That's why he came to me, since I get between 2,000 and 6,000 readers every day, plus the Brethren I reach on Facebook.

If you are a regular reader here, I hope you realize I would not knowingly endorse anything that would be injurious or embarrassing to the Craft. WBro. Lombardo is embarking on a massive research project, and the results, once he publishes them, will be of great use to Grand Lodges all over the world as they plan for the future direction of their own programs in the near future. 

Please take a moment to look over the questions. If you are not a grand officer, and you know your own Grand Master or Grand Secretary well enough that you feel comfortable passing the document along to them, please do so at your earliest convenience. Obviously, he can't complete his study without assistance of Masons all over the world.

If you have any questions about his study, you may email him here, and his phone number is in the document.

Many thanks in advance for your help.

Illus. Brother Emmanuel Lewis


I'm a little late in discovering this, even though many Prince Hall Masons already knew it for quite a while, but Illustrious Brother Emmanuel Lewis 33°, child star from the TV show "Webster" that was aired between 1983-1987, is a Prince Hall Scottish Rite Mason.  He is a member of W.C. Thomas Lodge No. 112 PHA in Atlanta, Georgia. He is also a Past Commander-In-Chief of Atlanta Consistory No. 24A (2013-2014), and reportedly very active in the Phylaxis Society, the Prince Hall Masonry research society.

He was born in 1971 in Brooklyn, New York, and is the youngest son of Margaret Lewis, a former computer science professional. He was nominated four times for the Young Artists Awards, and interestingly, in Japan, he is best known as a singer, and his song, "City Connection," rose to No. 2 on the Japanese Oricon Music Charts.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Scottish Rite Day 11/12/2016


The Sovereign Grand Commanders of both the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic and Southern Jurisdictions have declared Nov. 12, 2016, as Scottish Rite Day. Valleys and Councils of Deliberations will come together to celebrate the Scottish Rite. It is hoped that planned events will make it a fun and memorable occasion. Plans are not yet finalized, but, for now, be sure to keep the date open on your calendar. 

Read upcoming issues of The Northern Light and the Scottish Rite Journal for more details.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

David Lindez' Father Passes Away

My friend, Brother and Frater in the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis, David Lindez, who many of you may know from Masonic Week over many, many years, has suffered a terrible loss. His father passed away today at his home in Ireland. David is flying out from New York to get there as soon as possible. 

Please keep Brother Lindez in your thoughts and prayers.

Many thanks to my dear friend Billy Koon for the message.

Historic Murat Shrine Decides Not To Sell

The members of Indianapolis' Murat Shrine have decided to keep their historic building, after all. The operators that lease the auditorium, Live Nation, wanted to buy the whole building from the Shrine, but the offer has been rejected.

From the Indianapolis Business Journal:

The group that owns the landmark Old National Centre entertainment and hospitality venue in downtown Indianapolis has decided not to sell the building.

IBJ reported in December 2014 that Live Nation had reached an agreement with the Murat Temple Association to buy the property at 502 N. New Jersey St.
But most of the 300 members of the Murat voted to rescind the contract, Larry Jefferson, the association’s recorder, said Tuesday morning.
“It was overwhelming,” Jefferson said of the vote, which quietly took place in September. “Unless we’re offered a total windfall, you’ll never see it come up for a vote again.”

Beverly Hills, California-based Live Nation made an offer to Murat members to buy the building, prompting the vote, Jefferson said. He declined to divulge the amount of the offer.

The 130,379-square-foot building and land are assessed at a total value of $5.2 million, according to Marion County assessor records.

The company operates the 2,600-seat Murat Theater, the multipurpose Egyptian Room and other venues in the building, which sits where East Michigan and North New Jersey streets intersect with Massachusetts Avenue.

The existing operating agreement the Murat has with Live Nation will remain in effect, Jefferson said.“It’s our heritage,” he said of the building. “It doesn’t make sense to move.”

The temple indeed has a storied history. Built in 1909, it’s the largest Shrine temple in the country and is named for the Frenchman Joachim Murat, who was one of Napoleon’s generals in his Egyptian campaign.

Its architecture is based on Islamic temples found in the Middle East and Egypt. Features of the building include stained-glass windows, terra cotta trim, minarets, and brown and yellow brick banding. The Egyptian-themed auditorium, added as part of the 1922 addition, had been planned before the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, which coincided with the opening of the auditorium, according to the temple’s history.

Live Nation did not respond to requests for comment.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Brother Chuck Williams, Founder of Williams-Sonoma, Passes at 100


Our Brother Charles "Chuck" Williams, founder of the Williams-Sonoma culinary store chain, passed to the Celestial Lodge Above on Saturday, December 5th, 2015 in San Francisco. He was 100 years old, and died of natural causes. He has no survivors.

He was a member of Temple Lodge No. 14 in Sonoma, California. His column is broken, and his Brethren mourn.

From an article about him in the December/January 2009 California Freemason Magazine:


Like many men of his generation, Williams’ father was a Mason, and he followed his father into the craft.“Back in Jacksonville, Florida, where I grew up, my father was a Shriner and my mother was in Eastern Star. I really grew up with Masonry all around me,”Williams relays.“I remember when I was 10 years old, my father took me along for the ride to a Masonic event, and he really knew so much about it.” 
At 38 years of age, Williams became a brother of Temple Lodge no. 14 in Sonoma.“I remember the day: november 14, 1953. i received a letter from the master – which I still have – and I got my third degree at a ceremony at the lodge,” he says.“An electrician from Sweden was one of my friends and he was very involved as a Mason, so we were in the lodge together.” That same brother from Sweden hosted Williams on his fateful first trip to Europe, which ignited his love for French cookery. 
Williams opened his first store less than two years later, and by 1958 had moved his home and business to San Francisco. That same year, just blocks away in the same city, the California Masonic Memorial Temple was dedicated as the new home of the Grand lodge of California. For both Williams and Grand lodge, the year 2008 marked a 50th anniversary milestone. 

From his obituary:

Born Oct. 2, 1915, Williams came by his love of cooking by baking with his grandmother in her Jacksonville, Florida, kitchen. The Great Depression took the family to Southern California, to which Williams returned after serving as a mechanic with the Army during World War II. A golf trip with friends introduced him to Sonoma, and, enamored with the then-sleepy town, Williams relocated there in 1947.  
Inspired by a fateful trip to Paris with fellow food enthusiasts, Williams purchased the Sonoma Hardware store in 1956 and began offering Americans the kind of high-quality cookware and culinary tools he'd admired in France. The store proved an instant success, and in 1958 Williams-Sonoma relocated to San Francisco. With the publication of Julia Childs' classic "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," America's taste for haute cuisine exploded, and Williams-Sonoma's fortunes rose, with another major expansion of the San Francisco store and a flourishing catalog business. 
Williams sold the company in 1979, but he remained closely involved in many crucial facets of the business up until his death, such as his authorship of many titles in the company's noted cookbook line. 
"He worked on over 50 titles that have sold over 100 million copies worldwide," said Patrick Connolly, executive vice president of Williams-Sonoma, to the San Franciso Chronicle.  
Lauded with numerous awards over his career, including spots in the Halls of Fame for both the Culinary Institute of America and the Direct Marketing Association and a lifetime achievement award from the James Beard Foundation, Williams is lauded by many for helping to revolutionize and diversify American cooking.  
"With his impeccable taste and unique talent for selecting the right products at the right time, he built a powerful brand that inspired a cultural revolution around food and had immeasurable impact on home and family life around the world," said Janet Hayes, Williams-Sonoma brand president.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

The Grand Lodge of Scotland Whisky

From the Grand Lodge of Scotland's Facebook page:


The Grand Lodge of Scotland has launched its' own Single Scotch Malt Whisky named: The Grand Master Mason's CHOICE.
Specially selected and produced by the Isle of Arran Distilleries for the GLoS this is robust 46% proof single malt of character.

The 70cl bottle comes boxed and uses the GLoS tartan as its' main design theme.
The label on the reverse of the bottle bears the following message:
THE GRAND MASTER MASONS' CHOICE
The Grand Lodge of Scotland has had the pleasure of representing Freemasons working under the Scottish Constitution since 1736.
Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest secular fraternal societies and which originated in Scotland. Below we explain Freemasonry as it exists under the Grand Lodge of Scotland which is the corporate body governing Freemasonry in Scotland and Scottish Masonic Lodges in in many other parts of the world.
Freemasonry is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Its members are taught its precepts by a series of ritual dramas. These remain substantially the same form used in Scottish Stonemasons’ Lodges and use Scottish Stonemasons’ customs and tools as allegorical guides. 
The essential qualification for admission into and continued membership is a belief in a Supreme Being. Membership is open to men of any race, colour or religion who can fulfil this essential qualification and who are of good repute. 
For many years Freemasons have followed three great principles:
BROTHERLY LOVE
Every true Freemason will show tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and behave with kindness and understanding to his fellow creatures.
RELIEF
Freemasons are taught to practice charity and to care, not only for their own, but also for the community as a whole, both by charitable giving, voluntary efforts and works as individuals.
TRUTH
Freemasons strive for truth, requiring high moral standards and aiming to achieve them in their own lives.
COST
£40. per bottle. We will ascertain the age and post the details here. Apologies for the omission.
At this time this whisky is only available from the Grand Lodge shop within Freemasons' Hall (after 10.00 am due to Scottish licensing laws) but arrangements are in hand to allow for it to be shipped worldwide. Details will be posted on this page as soon as they are available.
[In Scotland in is illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 18 years - Section 110 of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005]

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

"Don't Get On That Shuttle Again!"

There's an article on a the Circuit Writer blog written by a United Methodist Church pastor in Sioux City, Iowa that is well worth a read. He talks about his church constantly carping about loss of membership, and the the perception it creates, particularly to young people. I'm not a Methodist, but the entry makes excellent points that relate very strongly to the recurring discussions in U.S. and Canadian lodges and grand lodges.

Have a look at: Don't Get On That Shuttle Again!

(Excerpt)
I’ve come to believe that all of the continued discussion and hand-ringing about our membership is counterproductive and may even be dangerous to the possibility of future growth for our Church and more importantly to the mission of our Church.
Why? Because it creates and strengthens negative perceptions about the UMC, about or local churches and even about our ministry. It makes membership numbers THE litmus test for the work of the Church and it may indeed discourage persons looking at the UMC from becoming a part of our family of faith.
Why do I say that our continued churning about membership could actually keep people out of the Church? Because a lot of the growth and success (if we want to use that word) of any organization or human endeavor rides on perception.
If we all have a negative perception about the future of the UMC or the future of our local church that negativity is felt by persons who come as guests to our churches, who read about our faith family and are looking for a place to call their faith home.
I’ve shared the story more than once that I joined a local civic organization when I was younger. After joining I had an older member of the group come to me and say something to the effect, “I’m so glad you have joined. Boy we need young people. Our organization is dying. We probably won’t be around much longer. So glad you are here!” I very seriously considered asking for my dues back and walking out the door. The last thing I wanted to be was the token young person who was going to save their organization. Yet that same organization had a lot to offer that they were failing to tell me about because they could not stop talking about membership decline.

H/T: Timothy Bonney