Special Report: The Illuminati in Freemasonry

all seeing eye

This is investigative reporter Donald P. Stoddard for Secret Society Watch.

Over the past year, I have infiltrated a Masonic Lodge in order to find out the truth about the Illuminati-Freemasonry connection. Freemasons have been denying any association with the Illuminati for years, but this reporter remained suspicious about the information surrounding the two orders.

The primary reason that I believed such a connection must exist was the fact that Freemasons had opposed such an assertion vehemently. When I met with a local Mason on the street to ask him about the Illuminati’s presence in the fraternity, he replied “I don’t even know what the Illuminati is.” A suspicious statement for a man that is suppose to keep such a connection secret. When I later petitioned a Masonic Lodge so that I might gain admittance and thus become privy to their well-kept secret, I was asked why I wanted to become a Mason. I replied, “I’m interested to see what sort of affect that the fraternity has on society, if you catch my drift.” The investigating Masons laughed and I was accepted into the lodge shortly thereafter, a clear sign that I was on the right track to discovering the presence of the Illuminati in one of America’s largest and most secret organizations.

After receiving the degrees, it was quite clear to me that the Masonic fraternity was interested in presenting allegorical lessons that required further learning in order to understand their meaning, or more correctly, become a functioning member of the Illuminati. The members of the lodge informed me that most of the United States’ presidents had been Masons. I was only aware of fourteen that had belonged to the fraternity, but several Brothers assured me that other presidents had indeed belonged. This reporter will refer to those presidents and other public officials that are not publicly known to be Freemasons, but are claimed as Brothers in the organization as “Secret Masons.” I discovered that such Secret Masons included Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Dick Cheney, and even Simon Cowell. So the Masons, or the Illuminati, weren’t only concerned about controlling the country or the world, but they were also eager to fill the airwaves with terrible pop music in order to dull the senses of the masses. Ingenious!

When I finally got around to asking the Worshipful Master of the lodge—and yes I said worshipful as in to be worshiped–if I could attend one of the Illuminati’s meetings, he informed me that I was asking the wrong person. Of course, he was correct. I had made the error of thinking that a simple Master Mason belonged to the Illuminati. It was obvious that only 32nd Degree members were allowed to attend these meetings. I quickly became a member of the Scottish Rite to earn that degree and was once again disappointed to find that I would not be admitted to the meetings of the Illuminati as a 32nd Degree Mason. It was evident that I would have to receive the 33rd Degree, which I would have to wait nearly eight years to obtain. Indeed, these Masons were no novices at running the world. It is quite smart to make sure that only the most devoted members are allowed to have their voices heard at a meeting of the Illuminati.

However, when I asked one of the 33rd Degree members if I would be able to finally find out more about the Illuminati when I reached that degree, he replied, “Well, you might find just what your looking for by becoming a Shrine Clown” and whipped out a petition. I eagerly signed it and donned my red nose and floppy shoes so that I could finally become a member of the Illuminati. So I have been tirelessly performing at the Shrine Circus in order to gain a reputation among the other clowns and be invested with membership in the Illuminati. It appears that the Masons realize that the key to global domination is to influence the inexperienced minds of America’s youth. This is certainly a conspiracy that even Dan Brown couldn’t develop.

Yes, you heard it here first folks, the Shrine Clowns are the modern day version of the Illuminati and they are aided by the help of their many fellow Secret Masons in the entertainment industry. The truth is that the vast majority of people featured on programs such as CNN’s Showbiz Tonight are fellow clowns, helping to spread the Freemasons’ gospel of a New World Order. Now, this reporter is off to what he hopes is his first Illuminati meeting where about twenty of us will be gathering to discuss our master plan in a 1990 Ford Festiva disguised inconspicuously as a circus vehicle.

Until next time, this is Investigative Reporter Donald P. Stoddard for Secret Society Watch.

emblem, bronze, Scottish Rite, Los Angeles

Learning a Lecture

Memorizing Masonic ritual has long been an important part of carrying on the work of Freemasonry. Those that masterfully perform Masonic lectures have long been revered as prestigious members of the fraternity and have been pointed out as men worthy of emulation. However, while many Masons have relished the opportunity to memorize one of the lectures, many have avoided such an undertaking.

In modern times, it isn’t unusual to hear Masons say things like “I sure wish I could perform lectures like that” or “I’m going to memorize that lecture one of these days” without ever taking the time to actually do so. Some cite the inability to memorize, which is true in some cases, and others claim that they don’t have the time. It often seems like the few Brothers that are willing to memorize a large part in the ritual end up memorizing all of these parts, while the majority of Masons avoid memorizing anything above and beyond the minimum requirements.

This is a frustrating observation, but the point of this article isn’t to demean the Brothers that haven’t learned a lecture. Instead, it is meant to show those Brothers that haven’t done so what they can gain by making the effort to learn one of the prominent parts in Masonic ritual. The key to becoming motivated to memorize ritual is simple: learn it for your own benefit, not the benefit of the lodge.

But what do I mean by this?

In all Masonic degrees, the lecture contains a vast amount of information that explains the ritual. In the three symbolic degrees, the lectures actually contain the majority of information given to the candidate in the degree. Like with all orations, the listener retains very little information from the lecture given to him when he receives the degree. This is a travesty, since this limits a Mason’s understanding of the symbolism of the ritual. To illustrate this point, think about a lecture that you have not memorized and then consider how much of that lecture you can actually recall. Chances are that it is little to none. In order to properly grasp the degrees of Masonry, learning the lectures is essential.

The Mason that has memorized a lecture has its teachings impressed upon his mind and his heart. The slightest reference to the symbolism of the lecture that he knows brings the explanations Masonry’s allegories to the front of his mind. A person that has not learned a lecture can never understand the full benefit of having this information memorized. It expedites and enhances Masonic study and often serves as a reminder when we are about to do something of an un-Masonic nature.

There is also another benefit to memorizing ritual. Most Masons regard their passage through the degrees of the order as one of the most impressive and influential experiences of their lives. However, there is a Masonic experience which supersedes receiving the degrees: conferring the degrees. Most Masonic lecturers have had the special experience when they see the light of Freemasonry shining in the eyes of the men to which they are reciting the ritual. To see the new candidates “get it” is an incredible feeling. It is the most fulfilling of any opportunities afforded in the fraternity.

Learning a lecture is hard work. Contrary to the misconception by many that those that learn lectures just read them once and are able to perform them, most men that have taken it upon themselves to memorize large parts of the ritual spend months memorizing the work and perfecting their recitation. But the work is worth it and learning a bit of Masonic ritual is like riding a bike, you never lose the ability to perform it.

Understanding Masonic symbolism and transmitting the lessons of Masonry form the instructive tongue to the attentive ear are the actions that preserve Masonry. Do yourself and Masonry a favor and dust off that ritual and take some time to learn a lecture. You will reap what you sow.


“It is demonstrated,” he said, “that things cannot be otherwise: for, since everything was made for a purpose, everything is necessarily for the best purpose. Note that noses were made to wear spectacles; we therefore have spectacles. Legs were clearly devised to wear breeches, and we have breeches. Stones were created to be hewn and made into castles; His Lordship therefore has a very beautiful castle: the greatest baron in the province must have the finest residence. And since pigs were made to be eaten, we eat pork all year round. Therefore, those that have maintained that all is well have been talking nonsense: they should have maintained that all is for the best.”
Professor Pangloss in Voltaire’s Candide

Voltaire’s story Candide is an examination of the belief held by many that all is for the best and that we live in the best of all possible worlds. This philosophy is propounded by a professor—whom Voltaire describes as a teacher of metaphysico-theologo-cosmonigology—named Pangloss and is taught to the naïve protagonist of the tale, Candide. Throughout the story, Candide is the victim and witness of numerous atrocities and yet still attempts to maintain that his dear Professor Pangloss was correct that all is truly for the best.

The idea that all is for the best brings to mind the concept of predestination. Predestination in theology can be defined as “the act of God foreordaining all things gone before and to come.”1 In modern western religions, this concept doesn’t seem terribly outrageous as God is viewed as a beneficent, merciful father figure. Surely if God is all powerful and all knowing then everything that exists and all events that occur must be for the best. However, when one considers some of the ugliest tragedies in history, the holocaust or acts of terrorism for instance, it is hard to believe that God as a merciful and all powerful being would permit something like that to happen. This has doubtless led many to forsake a belief in the Divine in order to pursue the practice of atheism; if man has no creator then it is easier to understand how mankind can commit great acts of evil. Still, many religious people in society blame Satan, Lucifer, or some other being that exists in opposition to God in order to come to terms with such events.

In Islamic countries, Insha’Allah is a term that is commonly used to give the probability of a future event. It means “God willing” or “if it is God’s will.”2 This term takes a step back from much of the modern thought on religion as it does not express any idea that God wills events for the benefit of mankind to happen, but that he will permit those events to occur that he has chosen, good or bad. This hearkens back to the Hebrew traditions where God was often a wrathful, jealous, and manipulating character. Exodus says that God hardened Pharoah’s heart when Moses tried to convince him to release the Israelites from the bonds of slavery.3 Was this hardening of Pharoah’s heart intended to allow God to inflict the plagues upon Egypt and therefore satisfy his anger with them? Or did God wish to bring hardship to his chosen people to prove to them that without their God, the Hebrews were but a meek group of humans?

These concepts, whether it be the idea that all is for the best, the doctrine of predestination, or the idea of Insha’Allah, have doubtless led to complacency in the human race. If all is for the best or happens at the will and pleasure of the Divine, then how are we to speed up the advancement of our society? One can only wonder how different our world would be if women had only been allowed to receive equal wages for equal work when God willed it or if the genocide of Muslims in the Balkans was all for the best. Yet, society has come to accept sin as a natural part of the world as a consequence of the fall of man.

The Gnostic gospel of Mary Magdelene gives an unorthodox view of sin in the world. Chapter 4 of the partial scripture reads: “The Savior said there is no sin, but it is you who make sin when you do the things that are like the nature of adultery, which is called sin.”4 Therefore, sin is not inevitable, but is made by a man’s own act of free will. While it is easy for a society to proclaim the Panglossian dogma, it is a flawed philosophy. Man has the right to do what is moral and right in every situation. He chooses to sin and he chooses to cause the suffering of others. That suffering is certainly not for the best.

Today, we do not live in the best of all possible worlds. There is pain to be alleviated and justice to be delivered. Free will requires the greatest responsibility from those that practice it. It is important to keep in mind the repercussions of our personal actions at all times and endeavor to act rightly in all situations. As the more experienced Candide tells Pangloss at the end of his travels, “we must cultivate our garden.”

1. http://www.answers.com/predestination

2. http://www.answers.com/topic/insha-allah

3. Exodus 10:20

4. Gospel According to Mary Magdelene 4:26

Wine, Kings, and Women

Which is the greatest? The strength of wine, the power of Kings, or the influence of women?

emblem, red cross,order of the red cross of constantine

Illustrious Order of the Red Cross of Constantine

Those of you that have been received in the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross will doubtless recognize this question. In the degree, Darius offers this question for discussion in his forum and a discussion ensues on the correct answer. This question brings some critical concepts to light for all Masons.

The foundation for this story is found in the Apocrypha.

The Apocrypha is a collection of works that were considered for addition in the Bible, but were generally not included in canonical texts. Because these books are not in most Bibles, many Masons are unfamiliar with the content of these works. The story relating to the aforementioned discussion is found the the book of 1 Esdras.

“And when they had eaten and drunken, and being satisfied were gone home, then Darius the king went into his bedchamber, and slept, and soon after awaked. Then three young men, that were of the guard that kept the king’s body, spake one to another; Let every one of us speak a sentence: he that shall overcome, and whose sentence shall seem wiser than the others, unto him shall the king Darius give great gifts, and great things in token of victory…The first wrote, Wine is the strongest. The second wrote, The king is strongest. The third wrote, Women are strongest: but above all things Truth beareth away the victory.” (1 Esdras 3:3-12)

Throughout the rest of the third and fourth chapters, the discussion relating to these questions take place. Not surprisingly, the man which states that “Truth beareth away the victory” is considered the victor.

For the Mason, these four influences may be applied to the four cardinal virtues: temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice. The strength of wine leads to disregarding the concept of temperance. This virtue instructs the Mason to “avoid excess, or contracting any licentious or vicious habit.” However, the strength of wine encourages indulging in excess and creates vicious several vicious habits. The man who claims that wine is the strongest defends his thesis by saying:

“It maketh the mind of the king and of the fatherless child to be all one… It turneth also every thought into jollity and mirth, so that a man remembereth neither sorrow nor debt: And it maketh every heart rich, so that a man remembereth neither king nor governor; and it maketh to speak all things by talents:And when they are in their cups, they forget their love both to friends and brethren, and a little after draw out swords…(1 Esdras 3:19-22)

The power of kings requires that the virtue of fortitude be considered. The virtue of fortitude is described in Masonic ritual as “that noble and steady purpose of the mind whereby we are enabled to undergo any pain, peril or danger, when prudentially deemed expedient.” The man who claims that the king is the strongest states of the king:

And yet he is but one man: if he command to kill, they kill; if he command to spare, they spare; If he command to smite, they smite; if he command to make desolate, they make desolate; if he command to build, they build; If he command to cut down, they cut down; if he command to plant, they plant. (1 Esdras 4:7-9)

These sentences can describe only one thing: absolute tyranny. Fortitude is that virtue which admonishes the Mason to resist the efforts of tyranny to influence him to forsake his own morals. The strength of kings does not refer only the power of monarchs, but the power of any person who may use their influence for unscrupulous purposes.

The influence of women mandates that the virtue of prudence be observed. Masonic tradition states that this virtue “teaches us to regulate our lives and actions agreeably to the dictates of reason, and is that habit by which we wisely judge, and prudentially determine, on all things relative to our present as well as to our future happiness.” Does not the lust for women cause the Mason to momentarily consider forgetting the dictates of reason or sacrifice a happy future for a moment of pleasure? The man who makes this assertion says: “Yea, many there be that have run out of their wits for women, and become servants for their sakes.Many also have perished, have erred, and sinned, for women (1 Esdras 4:26-27).” Certainly, the lure of peculiar form and beauty will influence a man to disregard the virtue of prudence.

However, the third man who asserts that the influence of women defeats the strength of wine or kings also states that truth is the victor over all of these influences. This is consistent with the Masonic view of justice, which the ritual states “is the very cement and support of civil society.” For justice to be served, the truth must be ascertained. The man who introduces this argument to the conversation says that:

As for the truth, it endureth, and is always strong; it liveth and conquereth for evermore. With her there is no accepting of persons or rewards; but she doeth the things that are just, and refraineth from all unjust and wicked things; and all men do well like of her works. Neither in her judgment is any unrighteousness; and she is the strength, kingdom, power, and majesty, of all ages. Blessed be the God of truth. (1 Esdras 4:38-40)

Truth leads to justice and to overcoming the vices presented by the strength of wine, the power of kings, and the influence of women. Only through truth can the problems created by the influences be identified and corrected. It provides the support of civil society and is even symbolically represented by the feet, the foundation of the body. Therefore, truth is certainly the victor.

Blessed be the God of Truth.

masonic author, 20th century, Carl Claudy

What is the Lodge?

Masons often work to improve lodges by performing a number of tasks. Many actions have been taken or proposed in order to create better lodges and much debate has taken place about the proper way to improve Masonic lodges. However, in order to improve a lodge it is important that Masons take a step back and consider just what the term lodge means.

Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

Albert Mackey

Mackey gives three definitions of the term lodge in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. The first definition is “a place in which Freemasons meet.” The second refers to the congregation of members which constitute the lodge. This definition compares the term ‘lodge’ to the term ‘church’ which refers to both the members of the organization and the building. The final definition that Mackey creates says that “the lodge, technically speaking, is a piece of furniture made in imitation of the Ark of the Covenant.” Mackey states that as the Ark contained the law of the Hebrews, the lodge contains the Book of Constitutions and the lodge’s warrant.1

Mackey’s definitions are somewhat different than the definition given in Masonic ritual:

The lodge is composed of a constitutional number of Masons, duly assembled, with the Holy Bible, square and compasses, and a charter or warrant empowering them to work.

So perhaps the literal definition of the word ‘lodge’ may be: an assembly of Masons with a warrant to work by a recognized grand jurisdiction or a word which refers to the meeting place of a group of Masons.

However, the lodge also has a symbolic meaning. Carl H. Claudy says:

The lodge is a symbol of the world. Its shape, the “oblong square” is the ancient conception of the shape of the world. The Entered Apprentice is taught its dimensions, its covering, its furniture, its lights, its jewels, and will learn more of it as a symbol as he proceeds through the degrees. Although a symbol of the world, the lodge is a world unto itself; a world within a world, different in its customs, its laws, and its structure from the world without. In the world without are class distinctions, wealth, power, poverty, and misery. In the lodge all are on a level and peace and harmony prevail.

masonic author

Carl Claudy

Considering Claudy’s explanation of the lodge as a symbol, it is clear that the lodge has little to do with the brick and mortar of which the building is composed. The lodge is a peculiar society, a Brotherhood which is able to live by the Utopian ideals that the profane world can never realize

Therefore, to improve the lodge is to improve the Brotherhood. It matters not where the lodge meets or the condition of its building. Filling the coffers of Masonic bodies or accumulating numbers will not necessarily improve the Brotherhood.

Instead, the focus must be on improving the Brotherhood through the self-improvement of its members and the relief of its distressed.

A lodge is at least seven Masons with a warrant empowering them to meet and to practice Masonry. It is no more, it is no less. In order to improve the lodge, we must improve the Brothers which constitute that body. That is the only path to improving Masonic lodges.

1. Mackey, Albert G. Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and its Kindred Sciences. p. 449-451.

2. Claudy, Carl H. Introductory to Freemasonry—Entered Apprentice

The Christian Mason



Is Freemasonry Christian?

“Boy, am I perplexed!” said the young Brother as he sat down on the bench outside of the lodge building. Ferris Thompson, a Past Master who spent most of his time mentoring his younger Brethren was sitting on the bench contently puffing his bent bulldog pipe.

“What has you confused? Not that I’m promising that I can help, but I sure can listen.”

“Well, I just get so frustrated with some of the folks from my church, they really believe all of that stuff about how Freemasonry is evil. It just frustrates me so much because I’m certain that our fraternity has made me a better man.”

“So why are you so upset? If you are happy with Masonry, then damn those who mock it,” Ferris gave a little grin as he took a draw from his pipe. Something about swearing while he gave Masonic advice seemed humorous to him.

“Its just that I know it isn’t evil and I can’t stand them mocking the organization that I love. I tried to show them that we weren’t anything to be worried about, heck I even showed them what idiots those anti-Masonry folks on the Internet are. They just told me that I needed to repent or I’d be condemned.”

“Is that really such a bad option?” Ferris chuckled.

“How can you find this so humorous! This is serious stuff we’re talking about!” The Brother said incredulously. He was quite unnerved and beginning to perspire in the sultry summer evening.

“I apologize for upsetting you, my Brother,” Ferris turned toward his protege and removed his pipe from his mouth in order to initiate a more serious conversation. “Let’s get to the heart of the matter then. Just what did they specifically say to you that makes you so upset?”

“Well, they said that we are not a Christian organization.”

“And we’re not.”

“But, they said we commune with non-believers!”

“Which we do.”

“But…well…they said that we allowed men of other faiths to have their book open upon the altar!”

“And we do.”

“Well…geeze Ferris…are you trying to make me feel better or not?!” The young Brother proceed to mop his forehead with his handkerchief and paced back in forth of Ferris who resumed smoking his pipe.

“Perhaps the real question is whether you believe that Freemasonry is compatible with Christianity or not. I believe it is. I have been a Freemason a long time and a Christian longer. I have never found any reason to believe that Masonry is in conflict with my religion and I enjoy the company of my Brethren from other faiths. When some Christians make statements like those which you have just specified, I think of the story of the four chaplains in World War II. To me, Freemasonry is an organization built upon the very spirit of that story. But it isn’t about what I think, the question is do you believe that your Masonic involvement is compatible with your religion or are you just trying to prove to yourself that it is by arguing with the other members of your congregation?”

The young Brother was silent and sat down on the bench with his hands in his pockets. He stared at the cracks in the concrete. “I guess I don’t know.”

“Well, only you can answer the question which I have just proposed. I might suggest that you forgo attending this evening’s meeting and do a little personal reflection. Perhaps you should meet with your preacher as well. It’s unfortunate that you must deal with this after becoming a Mason, it is best to deal with this problem during the petitioning process, but your personal faith needs to come before the fraternity.”

The young Brother nodded his head. “Goodnight, Ferris. I think that I do need to go home and think a bit.”

Ferris smiled. No matter what decision the young man came to, the fraternity would benefit.

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My Mentor Passes on to the Celestial Lodge

masonic holidays, foundations, important dates

My Masonic mentor, friend, and Brother Dr. John “Doc” Schwietert passed away this morning. Doc epitomized the word ‘Mason’ in everything that he did. He was a devoted member of the Blue Lodge, York Rite, and Shrine. While Doc was a man that found great purpose in his Masonic involvement, it was his ability to pass on that same pride in the fraternity that truly defined him as a Mason. Doc was the first Mason that I had ever met when he investigated me for admission into the Lodge and he mentored me through the Third Degree catechism.

Doc Schwietert was in his 80’s when he became my mentor. But when we met to discuss the proficiencies, he didn’t seem a day older than me. I would call him late at night when I was finished with my work and he would be happy to have me over. Sometimes it would be 10:30 or later in the evening, but Doc was a night owl and enjoyed his Masonic company. I would ring the doorbell to his house and he would meet me at the door by saying, “Oh, don’t ring the bell, you’ll wake my wife. Just give three distinct knocks,” after which he would cackle and slap his knee. We would talk about the catechism and Masonry for hours. He was always excited to see how I interpreted the lessons and would give his own personal view of Masonry’s symbolism. When I would make a mistake in reciting the ritual, Doc wouldn’t be rude with me. Instead he would throw down his book, smile, and say, “No honey, this is how you do it!” Then he would continue to teach me the correct way to perform it with all of the patience of a loving grand father. When our sessions would end, he would pat me on the back and say, “We love ya Brother!”

The night that I presented my Master Mason proficiency in lodge will always be the greatest memory I have of my mentor. Doc suffered from a respiratory ailment and had to carry an oxygen supply with him everywhere he went. However, as he seated me in the middle of the lodge he waved any seating arrangement for himself, slung his oxygen tank over his arm, clasped his hands behind his back, and stood up straight with his chest puffed out. He was proud of me and he was proud of our presentation. As he asked me the questions and listened to me respond, his smile became wider and his shoulders raised even further. It was the last time Doc made a presentation in lodge and I hold that memory very dear to my heart. It was Doc Schwietert’s last stand and I am honored to have been a part of his opus.

Doc is the reason I became a Mason, he is the reason that I am still a Mason, and he is the reason that I will always be a Mason and will never stop laboring for this fraternity. With that, I would like to present one of my Freemasonic Fables entitled Ode to a Mentor. It will only take you a moment to realize that it was written about my friend Doc Schwietert.

Doc, if you can see this, thank you for everything, my Brother. May we meet again when I too shuffle off of this mortal coil.

Ode to a Mentor

Eli was one of the finest Masons I have ever met. He was a two-time past master, never missed a lodge function, always treated every Brother with respect, and mentored every single candidate who received the degrees of Masonry for an entire decade. I was lucky enough to be one of his pupils during this time. After each degree, Eli would come up to me, hand me his phone number, and say, “Call me when you are ready to study this a bit, I have all sorts of time on my hands.” The next day, I would place the phone call and would be graciously invited to his humble abode that evening to work on my proficiency.

When I would arrive, I’d always forget that I was not to ring the doorbell (his wife was asleep). However, Eli wouldn’t dare scold me for it, instead he would politely remind me, “Just give three distinct knocks,” then he’d slap his knee and give a good hearty cackle. Once inside, we would sit down and go through the catechism. Eli would never hesitate to correct me, “No honey! You do it this way!” His enthusiasm was infectious and his love for Masonry was great. We would also discuss a plethora of other topics ranging from the history of the lodge to current events of the day. I would always learn a lot and many times Eli and I would chat until well after eleven o’clock.

When the time would come for me to prove up in lodge, Eli would always tell everyone how studious and impressive I was. He did that with all the candidates, but you’d feel like you were the only person he had ever said that to before. As we went through the questions, Eli would smile and nod every time I answered correctly. After we were through, he would lead the lodge in a thunderous applause. Eli always made you feel special.

I was invited to a lodge banquet while I was still a Fellow Craft. When I arrived, everyone was already seated and I felt like a fish out of water. Then I heard, “Well if it isn’t my number one student! Come and sit down, honey!” Eli would then proceed to introduce me to everyone and made sure that I was involved in every conversation. When we would part for the evening, Eli would always remind me, “We love ya’ Brother,” and would give me a pat on the back.

Now, I am the one mentoring our new Brethren. Everything I do is almost an exact reflection of how Eli treated me. I consider myself one of his disciples and our job is to make every Brother feel welcome and well informed. Last week, I was examining a new Fellow Craft in lodge. I automatically told everyone how impressed I was with his studies.

Eli grabbed me after lodge and said, “If I remember right, I said the same thing about you when you were going through.”

I put my arm around his shoulder and replied, “You don’t suppose I took a few lessons from an old pro do you?” I winked and Eli smiled.

As we were climbing into our cars Eli yelled out, “Love ya’ Brother!” That is when I realized that I had finally found the secret of Freemasonry.

Long Pine Lodge Thrives

Long Pine Masonic Lodge No. 136

Long Pine Masonic Lodge No. 136

In the small town of Long Pine, Nebraska (population 326), there exists a Masonic lodge that is truly on the upswing. Long Pine is in an area that I am very familiar with and I have many fond memories of the beautiful Sandhills region of Nebraska. However, anyone who lives there will tell you that it is sparsely populated and would probably be considered by most Masons as a region where it would be difficult, if not impossible, to operate a dynamic and growing Masonic lodge. Despite living in this sparsely populated area, Long Pine Masonic Lodge has found ways to make itself a thriving organization of which its members are very proud.

Long Pine has about 37 members, a quarter of which live outside of Long Pine and the lodge members have an average age of 55. Typically, 10 or 11 people attend meetings which is an impressive percentage of its members since many lodges have less than 10 percent of members attend meetings. There are no other Masonic organizations in Long Pine, the Eastern Star and York Rite organizations that used to exist there have disbanded and closed their doors. Faced with the burdens of a dilapidated building and an uninspired organization only a few years ago, the Brothers of Long Pine decided it was time to take matters into their own hands.

The lodge’s web master Alvin Benemerito, a Past Master, says that the organization “Had a resurgence of pride in membership in the lodge” in 2007. The lodge members decided to renovate their facilities themselves rather than hire expensive contractors. The roof was leaking badly and the lodge needed a new heater among other problems. The lodge members donated materials to the renovation and offered their craftsmanship. They replaced the ceiling and Brothers donated refrigerators, ovens, and a pellet stove along with pellets for heat. “We keep telling our members that this is our house,” said Alvin Benemerito. To cover the expenses of renovating the lodge building and maintaining their refinished quarters, the Brothers created a budget and mailed it to all members showing how much they needed to raise dues in order to keep their lodge open. Their straightforward approach worked and the lodge raised its dues from $30 a year to $75 a year. The lodge also rents out part of its facilities to a Brother’s business for $200 a month to cover expenses. The lodge does not do any fund raising. But Long Pine Lodge realizes that it isn’t only the facility which makes the organization successful, but the experience it provides to its members.

With the permission of Nebraska’s Grand Lodge, Long Pine began using the Chamber of Reflection as part of its Entered Apprentice degree conferral. This ceremony requires that a candidate sits alone in a small room prior to his degree where he is asked to write down responses to questions such as “Why do you want to join the fraternity” and “What do you expect from the lodge?” in order to remind him of the reason that he petitioned the lodge. The candidate is given the questions prior to his admission into the chamber of reflection so that he may prepare his answers and the responses are read openly in lodge prior to the degree conferral. This capitalizes a very thorough admission process which involves a formal meeting with candidates to clearly explain the obligations to the lodge that they will assume as a Mason. The lodge also requires that candidates complete the full form proficiency and prefers to not send candidates to any one-day degree conferrals because the lodge wants the work. “We don’t care if it takes them a year to be a Master Mason,” says Brother Benemerito. The lodge also opens in the Entered Apprentice or Fellowcraft degree whenever it must in order to keep all of its members engaged in the lodge’s activities as soon as they become a Mason.

The lodge’s members also wear special attire. “We wear dark suits, dress aprons, and white gloves,” says Alvin Benemerito. The aprons are UGLE style dress aprons and the dress instills their members with a sense of pride. Brother Benemerito says that the members have come to regard the lodge meeting as a special occasion. He says that “we come to lodge because we enjoy each others company. We don’t come to lodge to say let’s hurry up, we’ve got to go somewhere.” The lodge recognizes that some Brothers may not have or be able to afford a dark suit so they have acquired a number of suits from Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and other sources which are stored in the lodge building in order to be given to a Brother in need. “It becomes a culture, it becomes a custom of the lodge,” says Brother Benemerito. The lodge publishes all of its degree conferrals and events in the local newspaper. Fathers will often see their sons who have just received their degree surrounded by men in suits and purchase a suit for their son to wear when they go to lodge.

The lodge has one stated meeting and conducts a lodge of instruction every month. They have regularly featured educational sessions during which a Masonic paper may be read. However, many of the meetings are consumed with the busy work of restoring the lodge. After every lodge meeting, the Brethren of Long Pine Lodge have a light meal or snack along with a wine tasting. “We’re learning to be wine connoisseurs,” laughs Benemerito before he adds, “They all taste the same to me!” This provides the lodge with fellowship time and the Brethren are very careful to ensure that they do not convert the means of refreshment into intemperance or excess.

The Brothers also participate in a number of activities to enrich the community. They display and retire the flags for the Long Pine cemetery for Memorial Day. The members conduct a Lodge of Military Tribute that they have performed at lodges throughout the state and their travels together have built strong bonds of Brotherhood between them. They have also put on an event for the Child Identification Program, but Alvin Benemerito was very adamant when he said “We do what we enjoy doing, not because we have to do it.” This attitude defines the lodge which operates in order to meet the needs and desires of its members. A number of awards are available for lodges through the Grand Lodge of Nebraska, but Long Pine Lodge does not take the time to worry about submitting the paper work necessary to receive an award.

Brother Benemerito operates the lodge’s website which has two noticeable features. The first is a number of high quality pictures of the lodge which show its impressive regalia, beautifully remodeled facilities, and smiling Brothers. “Pictures paint thousands of words, you can visually see what the lodge is doing,” says Benemerito, who takes pictures at every lodge function and publishes them on-line. The other excellent function of the lodge’s website is a yellow pages section for all of the lodge members’ businesses. These yellow pages help lodge members stay connected with each others’ business services and has been a good incentive for lodge members to remain active.

The lodge members exhibit a great amount of pride in their lodge and do not view Long Pine Lodge as a gateway to other Masonic organizations. “It’s hard to sell something you don’t believe in,” says Brother Benemerito, “We would like to give a special Masonic experience in the Sandhills of Nebraska.”

You can find out more about Long Pine Masonic Lodge and view their numerous photographs at their website.

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The Chronicles of Philosophus: Violating the Sabbath

On the day of the Sabbath, the builders were exiting the temple after they had worshiped to return to their homes. It was the law among the Jewish builders that they could not work on the Sabbath, but they noticed one of their fellow craftsmen, a man named Amon who was born in Gebal, mixing mortar in order to proceed with work on the judge’s house which was being constructed at that time. They became incensed that he was ignoring the law of their religion and approached him in numbers in order to rebuke his desire to work on a holy day.

“Why do you insult God your Father by rejecting his day of rest?” yelled one of the members of the mob. “Perhaps he should be employed to build the temples of the pagans!” shouted another.

Amon spoke saying, “I have no quarrel with you or your Lord, I only subscribe to the religion of my land which has created no ordinance against working on this day. For is there any law by which I am to abide which requires that I rest on the Jewish Sabbath?”

The craftsmen talked amongst themselves before one spoke. “Have you not heard the commandments which Moses has received upon Mount Sinai? Do you deny the very commandment of your Lord?”

The craftsmen became even more excited as some began to suggest that Amon should be brought before the priest. Others said that he should be stoned. Finally, they decided to fetch one of the master builders from their assembly. Zachariah was sent to the temple of the builders, where the master builders were and approached Philosophus, who immediately followed him to the angry mob of craftsmen.

Hearing their cries for Amon’s prosecution, Philosophus shouted “Silence my Brothers! What charge do you desire to bring against your fellow craftsman?”

The most vocal of the group replied, “He denies the commandments of our Lord and is performing work on the Sabbath which has been forbidden.”

Philosophus asked of Amon, “Do you worship as your father did?”


“Was he a Jew?”

“No, he was raised in Gebal and worshiped the God of that land as his father had done before him.”

“When you were obligated as a builder, did you take your obligation in the name of Jehovah, the God of the Jews?”


“Were you ever informed that under the law of the order that you must conform to the laws of their religion?”


Then Philosophus asked of the group of craftsmen, “Were you obligated in the name of Jehovah, the God of the Jews? Were you ever informed that under the law of the order that you must conform to the laws of the Jewish religion?”

The group was silent. Philosophus said, “You were only instructed that it is required that you to follow the tenets of your personal religion, for the name of the God you worship does not determine whether you are an able craftsman. The order does not regard a man for his personal religion, but for his desire to be industrious, to improve his craft, and to assist his fellow Brethren.”

One of the craftsmen then inquired, “But who will inspect his work? For the master builders all follow the Judaic law.”

Philosophus walked over to the work station of Amon, picked up a trowel and spread a layer of mortar over one of the perfect ashlars to examine its consistency. The Brethren questioned this action in whispers among themselves, for they believed that Philosophus was now in violation of his religion. One shouted, “Master, you violate the commandment of your God!”

Philosophus once again spoke. “Did I come from your home land? Have I ever been circumcised or accepted in your temple?” The Brethren were silent for none of them had ever seen Philosophus worship at their synagogue. “Neither this Brother nor myself are children of Abraham; I will inspect his work. Now return to your homes and attend to the duties of your religion.”

The craftsmen agreed and apologized to Amon for their accusations. Before returning to their abodes, they saluted him as a Brother. From that time it became a custom among the builders to tolerate the laws and customs of their Brother’s individual religion.

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Two Schools of Masonic Thought: Part 2-Individualism


individualism - don't tread on me

This is the second article in a two part series on how Masons believe that Freemasonry should be governed. If you haven’t read the first article, please read it here. There are essentially two schools of thought when it comes to how Freemasonry operates: collectivism and individualism. These are obviously the two extremes in the spectrum of Masonic philosophy. All Masons who are active in some aspect of the craft have adopted ideas from at least one of these philosophies and in order to understand modern Freemasonry, it is necessary to discuss these opposing ideals and how they relate to Freemasonry. These articles are the opinions of the author of this column, but they are presented so that Brotherly discussion about this subject may take place.

Masonic individualism is the philosophy by which every Mason pursues his own interests in Masonry. Individualism as a philosophy is defined as “the doctrine or belief that all actions are determined by, or at least take place for, the benefit of the individual, not of society as a whole.”1 Individualism allows for every Mason to have his own goals and directions. It relies on the peculiar strengths of each individual Mason in order to improve each other and through this process, the society becomes stronger.

When a man becomes a Mason, he is professing his belief in the individualist idea of self improvement.

That I might travel in foreign countries, work and receive Master’s wages, being better enable to support myself and family, and contribute to the relief of poor, distressed, worthy Brother Master Masons, their widows and orphans.” (Emphasis added)

The Mason is only asked to serve the fraternity in such a manner that its reputation may be upheld; the degrees regard the Mason only as an individual. This is because only a strong sense of individualism can serve to make a good man better and make the rough ashlar into a perfect ashlar.

The individualist Mason partakes in Masonry as much as his personal finances allow. He decides what the worth of his membership is and will decide for himself whether to sacrifice his other luxuries for his Masonic involvement or discontinue his membership. He does not expect the work of others to be modified for his needs. He refuses to deny the ego of man and is unapologetic about the elite nature of the Masonic fraternity. The individualist does not demand that the efforts of others in the fraternity be diminished in order to make him feel as an equal.

Individualism allows every Brother to pursue Masonic education as he wishes and to be distinguished by his particular studies. This concept realizes that some Masons may be the teacher while others may be the student. It encourages the individual to satisfy his own philosophical needs without regard for the interests of others. It allows the individual to accept or ignore the educational products created by other Masons and encourages educational presentations within the lodge because it accepts the individual nature of such a performance.

The individualist Mason desires to contribute to charity on his own terms and to the cause of his choice, regardless of the feelings of the other Brethren. He will create his own charitable endeavor if he desires to do so. He will accept the contributions of others, but only if it satisfies his intent. The individualist does not require the support of the masses for his charitable cause and will pursue his philanthropy with or without the assistance of others. He partakes in charity not for the good of the people, but to satisfy his own conscience.

Individualism dictates that Masonic leaders should be chosen by their individual merits. It requires that they possess leadership qualities in order to gain any sort of authority. This philosophy requires that Masonic leaders pursue the goals that they feel best as a leader, but it also requires that the leader does not encroach upon the pursuits of other individuals. It requires a working agreement of mutual respect between leaders and the individual Masons, but it demands that neither is forced into a form of servitude.

Masonic individualism requires that the Mason becomes the creator of the fraternity. It does not care where his Masonic pursuits take place or what they are as long as they maintain the reputation of the fraternity. It dictates that Masons should not be concerned with the opposition of those within or without Masonry. Because the individualist pursues his Masonic endeavors for his own pleasure, the disapproval of Anti-Masons is of little concern to him. He wishes to neither pay attention to them nor dispute their claims. He does not require the approval of others to feel that his individual goals are worth his time and dedication.

Masonic individualism creates a stronger fraternity. It enables each man to grow as an individual by pursuing his own interests and utilizing his peculiar talents. This fabric, woven with the strong threads of individuals, becomes a beautiful tapestry which intrigues and attracts men of the finest character. It allows them to find their own Masonic satisfaction and through their personal endeavors, the tapestry becomes stronger and more beautiful. Individualism is the model of Masonic operation which concerns each individual Mason and improves the fraternity through each member’s personal evolution.

Men have been taught that it is a virtue to agree with others. But the creator is the man who disagrees. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to swim with the current. But the creator is the man who goes against the current. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to stand together. But the creator is the man who stands alone.
Howard Roark in The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

1. http://dictionary.reference.com/

Two Schools of Masonic Thought: Part 1-Collectivism