My Lodge’s Type of Charity

My Lodge, Pride of Mt. Pisgah #135, Dallas, Texas prefers to do its charitable/community outreach with programs that takes them directly to the people to actually perform a service or provide relief in some manner to those in their own community who they can meet face to face.  In other words we are not big on Institutionalized Charity nor do we desire to turn Freemasonry into a Service Club.  As Masons we are called to help those in need if within the length of our cable tow.  But my Lodge wants a direct connect with those who they aid.

Thus we do Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets which we present directly to the people who are receiving them. Our latest venture is involvement in the Keep Dallas Beautiful program sponsored by the City of Dallas, whereby we enter a section or area of the community and clean up, fix & repair and make attractive areas of the community as well as individual private property.  Last Saturday was our second work day in the community which we have now adopted.  Past Master LaGrone explains the program and what we accomplished in more detail.

“On September 26th along with the Keep Dallas Beautiful program the Pride of Mount Pisgah #135 P.H.A. successfully completed phase one for our adopted community, Cedar Oaks.  When I first brought this idea to the lodge to increase our community service and visibility, we unanimously voted to participate in 4 events throughout the year to help communities identified as needing assistance.  We later voted to adopt Cedar Oaks as our own and in the past have picked up trash and last week painted a retaining wall.”

“The Cedar Oaks community was phase one of the pilot program of Keep Dallas Beautiful (KDB).  As KDB is a city funded program, each year the city of Dallas  moves to a new phase and  adopts new communities while  dropping  the communities from the existing year after providing a year of support.  Speaking with W.M. Williams the decision has been made to continue to support Cedar Oaks as a community providing whatever assistance we can within the length of our cable tow. “

“I wanted to thanks all the brothers that have participated and wished to participate as well as our W.M. for his commitment to the community.”


To: Fran Phillips, President, KDB, Jim Hobbs, KDB

From:     Joy McBeth, Community Projects Manager, VCNT

CC:       Dan Fitzgerald, Chief Financial Officer, VCNT

Shari Hicks, City of Dallas

Date:     September 28, 2009

Re: Pride in Your Neighborhood Cedar Oaks Beautification Event

Event Date: Saturday, September 26, 2009

Event Time: 8am – 12 noon

Total Attendees:           19

KDB Board Members:    1

(External) Volunteers: 7

City Employees:

VCNT Staff: 1

Residents: 10

In-kind donations:       Water, Gatorade

Total Expenses: $17.72


The residents of Cedar Oaks and volunteers from the Mt. Pisgah Masons group were involved in a neighborhood beautification project this past weekend.  Mr. Taylor, HOA leader, identified a retaining wall at the entrance of the community on Marsalis Ave. that needed re-painting.   Residents and volunteers painted over graffiti as they gave the wall a fresh coat of paint.

Next Steps:

Cedar Oaks has completed its second beautification event and is now ready to begin the home improvement incentive.  We plan to conduct site visits and begin the work this week.

Masons to Host Nation’s Capital Masonic Day of Prayer


glanivlogo1bWashington, DC (MMD Newswire) September 28, 2009 — Freemasons (or Masons), their families and friends, from the national capital region, the country, and the world will gather in Washington, DC on October 3, 2009 for a service of prayer and thanksgiving. The Nation’s Capital Masonic Day of Prayer will take place at 12:00 noon on Saturday, October 3, 2009, at the Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church, located at 3401 Nebraska Avenue, Washington DC. Refreshments will follow the service. The event is being jointly organized and hosted by the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the District of Columbia and the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons of the District of Columbia, Inc.
The event will take place some two weeks following the publication of Dan Brown’s much heralded new book, “The Lost Symbol”, which has a plot focusing on Freemasonry and Washington, DC.

The Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia is the governing body of Free and Accepted Masons in Washington, DC. Freemasonry has been a major part of community life in the United States for over two hundred and fifty (250) years. Freemasonry is America’s largest and oldest fraternity and is predicated on the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God. Freemasons seek to promote friendship, morality and brotherly love in all their activities. They are bound together by a philosophy of moral standards, mutual understanding, and brotherhood in which all men are on a level and equal.

Contact: Walter Hoenes
Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the District of Columbia
voice: (202) 686-1811
fax: (202) 686-2759

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Stopping By The Lodge On A Rainy Evening

I left Tuesday’s Lodge Meeting on a high  not induced by alcohol nor anything swallowed internally but by the actions of my Lodge and what transpired within.  We have three candidates going through the degrees and they are now Fellowcrafts.  Now I have outlined before what transpires in my Lodge in bringing men through the degrees but a short repeat is in order as new visitors to this wonderful website are a frequent occurrence.

In my Lodge the average time for candidates to complete the three degrees is between 6 months and one year.  Now in many other PHA Lodges and in Mainstream Masonry it is usually three months.  I would say that is because most Lodges hand out a small book which requires candidates to know the answers to the questions therein and to recite their Obligation from memory.

But my Lodge is different. You see that little book that is given candidates is only concerned with the first section of each degree what many call the Obligation part. But in my Lodge the candidates are required to also answer questions on the second section of the first two degrees and the second and third sections of the third degree.  That means that they must know the lectures, what they say and what they mean and how they might be applied to daily life. But that’s not all.  They must also know what the Biblical references are to all parts of each degree. As an example every candidate who goes through the degrees in my Lodge knows the genealogical history of Boaz who we meet in the Book of Ruth. But that’s not all.  In addition candidates must know how politics, religion and community blend in the light of Masonic morality and responsibility.

There is no way that  this type of learning can be accomplished in one month for each degree.  In fact all candidates in my Lodge must after receiving a degree return to the Lodge for an hour or more of questioning, not once, not twice but three, four or even five times – FOR EACH DEGREE.  And candidates only proceed to the next degree when a vote of the Lodge deems them worthy to proceed.

Bearing all that in mind the Communication last Tuesday was a Business Meeting and Questioning of  three Fellowcraft  Brothers who had endured two previous Fellowcraft questioning sessions.  Here is what I heard.

The Worshipful Master asked them if they had learned Invictus.  Now stop right here and ask yourself if you have ever heard a Worshipful Master ask that question of any candidates you have witnessed in your Masonic life.  Then tell me if you know what Invictus is.


by William Ernest Henley; 1849-1903

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeons of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

They recited the poem in unison, word for word without hesitation.  Then the Worshipful Master asked each of the three what the poem meant.  There followed a discussion of  what each thought and what the Worshipful Master and the rest of the Lodge could add as a lesson to be learned.

Next the worhipful Master asked the three if they they knew “If.”  While some of you may have by this time followed the way this post is going to pick up on what “If” is, I don’t  blame many who are still in the dark because I did not instantly recognize it myself………………until the first verse was read.  The key clue here is Rudyard Kipling.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream –
and not make dreams your master;
If you can think –
and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

The three Fellowcrafts stumbled and stopped, and resumned a few times but they got it all in. Then the Worshipful Master asked each of the three what the poem meant.     There followed a discussion of  what each thought and what the Worshipful Master and the rest of the Lodge could add as a lesson to be learned.

Then the Worshipful Master asked the three if they had learned  “The Bridge Builder.”  And they all said they had not.  They were then informed by the Worshipful Master that the Lodge would hear their recitition of that poem at the next meeting.  There followed a discussion of where the three were in their journey and they were asked if they had any questions.  When all was said and done the three Fellowcrafts gave their salutations and proceeded to retire from the Lodge.


An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim-
That sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when he reached the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting strength in building here.
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way.
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head.
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him

The three Fellowcraft were on their way out of the Lodge when Past Master Walker played the best imitation of Columbo I have seen live.  “Just one more thing,” he chortled before they could reach the door.  “Who was Mary’s Father,” he asked.  Of course y’all know the answer to that question, don’t you?

Prince Hall Americanism Day

The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas explains what this day is all about:

“As the Christian has a revival, the Moslem has a pilgrimage to Mecca, so do Prince Hall Masons have revivals, and they are called Prince Hall Americanism Day, celebrated on or as close to September 12th each year.  It is a time for the Prince Hall Mason to take stock of his life, renew his faith in God, Country and Fraternity, which will include his neighbor.  It is a time to renew his faith in God, his patriotism to his country and his duty to mankind.  It is in the truest sense a Masonic Revival.”

September 12th is chosen because it is alleged that Prince Hall was born on September 12, 1735

Many Prince Hall Jurisdictions , like Texas, celebrate over two or three days, most often a weekend. This year , as in most, Texas scheduled a dance Friday night 9/11, a picnic 0n Saturday 9/12 and a church service on Sunday 9/13.  The picnic got rained out this year as we had two solid days of rain and flooding here and there. I didn’t make the dance but I did participate in the church service.

Prince Hall Masons worship often together and they bring the whole Prince Hall Family.  Individual Lodges will schedule a church service at least once per year whereby all members of the Lodge, their families, and Sisters in the Prince Hall Family attend.  Not only will Blue Lodges do this but also York and Scottish Rite Bodies will do the same. Districts will also call for a church service at least once per year. And OES and the Heroines will also do likewise and invite the Brothers.  Unlike Mainstream Masonry, Prince Hall Masons will openly celebrate their Christianity together.  Some outside PHA then form the mistaken impression that Prince Hall only accepts Christians.  That is not true.  It accepts men of every Faith.  In my Lodge we raised two Muslims last year. But when 99% are one religion it is not unnatural for there to be fellowship along religious lines within the fraternity.

This year Prince Hall in my area combined the celebration by uniting Districts 10, 11 and 20 within the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  And that was also Districts 10, 11 and 20 from  the Heroines of Jericho and OES.  There were as many Sisters present as Brothers.

Grand Lodge representatives led us in most phases of the worship held at Central Pointe’ Church of Christ in Dallas, all phases except for the sermon.  This message was delivered by Pastor James M. Hutchins of the New Life Community Church of Frisco, Texas and a rousing message it was. Pastor Hutchins used the Scripture of Exodus 3: 1-14, the story of Moses and the burning bush, to bring us the theme of Being Prepared and Being Ready. He told us that Moses was once a powerful man in Egypt, the #2 man behind the Pharoah.  But then he killed a man when he was 40 and fled.  Now at 80 he just wished to live out his life in quiet obscurity.  When called on by God his attitude was who me?  I’m 80 years old what can I do?  Give me something to make my mission believable to those whom you want me to lead, Moses ended up requesting.  Who shall I say is sending me? Pastor Hutchins then , poised for the dramatic moment,  proclaimed, – Tell them “I Am That I Am” sent you.  And then the Pastor reminded us the difference between I Am That I Am and I AM What I Am.

I loved it when Pastor Hutchins said God could have sent a 45 foot tall Angel with a booming voice and scared the Egyptians half to death or gone Himself.  Instead he chose 80 year old Moses.  Which goes to show you that one needs to be prepared and be ready.

The Pastor’s message concluded with his reminding us that God sees us, hears us and knows all about us and still loves us unconditionally.  “You mean God knows that I lie awake worry about how I am going to pay my bills,” exhorts Pastor Hutchins.  His message brought to us the reality that God is always with us and always loving even when we are not.

Many times Brothers and Sisters  stood up and applauded during the sermon.  It was a great message  for the Prince Hall Family for a great man of history who in the sands of time has made an important and lasting impact on the African American community.

Afterward we gathered in the dining room for some soul food and some great fellowship.  I had  some good conversations with Brothers and Sisters I do not get a regular opportunity to mingle with.

As I left the church and drove out of the parking lot I thought about what I had just experienced – the warmth of “comrades in arms,” the ringing words of Pastor Hutchins and the great stature and example of Prince Hall who was supposed to have his monument on the Cambridge, Massachusetts Common dedicated today but as its fund raising and construction is running behind there was a service of dedication instead. But all these components running through my mind had me thinking – Well done good and faithful servants.

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Oldest Living Man Is Also Oldest Freemason

Imagine being a Mason for 75 years having not been raised until the age of 37!   That means you were a Mason before WWII and that you could have collected Social Security for 50 years!  That describes Walter Breuning, the world’s oldest man at 112, who will be 113 this month.  Brother Breuning lives at the Rainbow Retirement Center in Great Falls, Montana.

But Breuning is far from confined to bed.  Why he gets all over town.  Both the billings Gazette and the Great Falls Tribune report:

Despite his age, Breuning is not confined to the Rainbow. A few years ago, he was given a motorized four-wheel scooter, and Moore might be able to get a photo of him zipping along the sidewalks downtown — if the weather’s right.

“Ten or 12 of us here have scooters, and we can go just about anywhere,” Breuning said. (1,2)

Breuning usually rises around 6:00 AM every morning, breakfasting at 7:00. He attends to errands and meets with friends until 2:00 PM when he usually retires to his room to read, write and listen to the radio.

“Normally I eat about 600 calories for breakfast, eggs and toast, or French toast, or pancakes, or the fruit bar.” By eating just two meals a day and restricting his calories to about 1,200, his weight has remained stable at 125 pounds for the past 30 years, said the 5-foot-6 Breuning.(1,2)


Breuning has received a great deal of attention since attaining the status of oldest living man.  Governor Brian Schweitzer recently paid him a visit and they talked politics and history for hours.   Following Governor Schweitzer was Imperial Potentate Jack Jones making the trip from Tampa, Florida to honor this man. John Moore, a famous Pulitzer photographer from Denver, came to take his picture.

KRTV of Great Falls also came and they tell us:

Members of the organization (Masons) came from all over the state – and country – to honor the legend, including the Imperial Potentate of Shriners International and the highest ranking Shriner in the world, Jack Jones.

Walter was given a plaque and pin for his seven-plus decades of dedication to the cause during a Sunday ceremony at the Rainbow Assisted Living Center in Great Falls.

“There’s many men who are interested in these organizations, but when it comes to commitment, Walter is the man,” explained Grand Warden Tom Duffy, Jr. “He’s had years of commitment, 75 plus in Masonry and Shrinedom. Boy, if Webster had a definition behind it, wouldn’t it be Walter right behind ‘commitment’?” (3)


Middle picture shows De Smet, South Dakota where Breuning grew up.

A man who has seen and done much, that’s Walter Breuning.  But he has much more to do. He is still travelling upon that Level of time from whose bourne no traveler returns.


(1)  Oldest Man Has  Hands Full With Media, Great Falls Tribune –

(2)  At 112, World’s Oldest Man Has No Time For Nonesense, Billings Gazette –
(3)   Walter Breuning Receives Another Honor, KRTV –


templar engraving, masonic knights, templar seal

The new age of Masonic Expression and the continued excellence of David Naughton-Shires

David Naughton-ShiresWhen I first started expressing myself in Freemasonry the medium that I used was the one which all the great old Masters of Masonic scholarship used – the word, the printed word.  So I wrote many words, words of explaining, of informing, of changing, of reform – so many words.  Isn’t that what every Masonic author does – conveying his or her messages in many words?

stephen dafoe, compass and the cross, book, legend of the knight templarThen along came Stephen Dafoe who, within Freemasonry, decided words are nice, they are the very bread and butter of every author, but they are not the totality of an integrated work of scholarship.  What an author’s work needs, proposed Dafoe, was proper illustration and artwork.  So Dafoe was meticulous about the covers to his books and the magazines he published.  He hired Steve McKim to produce some beautiful artwork for his covers and some for the inside pages.  Dafoe would always add many illustrations and pictures to his work and if you take a look at Nobly Born and The Compasses and the Cross you can see the development of this style to its utmost perfection. You can’t read a Dafoe work today with just words, or let’s say not very often anyway.

Then along came Greg Stewart.  He wasn’t writing books but he was still in the profession of Masonic scholarship.  Stewart is very good with words but he is also an excellent graphic designer and an originator of some of his own Masonic artwork. Stewart immediately saw the need in online Masonic websites for a marriage of the printed word and the visual.  Right from the start on his websites you could actually visualize what he was also writing, culminating in his remake of Freemason Information into a consortium of Masonic writers where with the expertise of Dean Kennedy he crafted a website using word, pictures & artwork and video.

Words without pictures leaves little to the imagination and often allows no room for personalization of the message.  The author is leading the reader in a direction he wants to take him/her only utilizing the printed word. The journey is well structured but if the reader becomes claustrophobic or fails to connect with the intent of the author the two will part company.

Pictures without words allows the observer’s imagination to wander off in a hundred different directions at once.  There is not enough structure for the artist to be sure that the receiver understands the message that he wishes to convey.

When words and pictures are used together the mind can be brought back into a narrower focus on what the author is trying to convey, yet there is room for the reader to personalize the message and through the powers of imagination carry it into his or her own life experiences.

5612_109646175977_519860977_2266747_2870014_nWhich leads us to symbols.  Symbols are a representation of a concept.  They are drawings with a definite purpose in mind. Whether it is the Cross, the Golden Arches or the Square and Compasses, they are a picture with unspoken words attached.  That is why they are so powerful; they can do double duty simultaneously. And that is why multi talented creators like Dafoe & Stewart who can turn a good word while at the same time provide great visual effects that enhance their work are so successful at what they do.  Now put them in a setting where the use of symbols runs strong and you provide them with the ultimate opportunity to unleash their creativity.  Add to that the fact that both men are excellent speakers and have produced Masonic radio shows to compliment the rest of their work and you have two artists who have the ability to present their work using many different avenues of perception.

Nobody knows this better than David Naughton-Shires.  He may be the newcomer to the scene but he is following in the footsteps of Dafoe and Stewart. He understands, as they do, how important the use of all the human senses is in the creation of the work of an artist. He realizes that in order to get one’s work recognized, a creator has to appeal to the observer in many different ways. It is my humble opinion that Naughton-Shires is no newcomer to the knowledge of these facts nor is he new to the ability to produce such integrated work but that it has been his involvement with Freemasonry that is new to him and that has unleashed his creativity and ability into actual great creations and enabled his work to be noticed.  And that is because, in my opinion, the power of the symbolism of Freemasonry is so great, so strong and so conducive to the creative artist being able to express himself that it just opens an artist’s creative juices to full flow.  Freemasonry is the best platform from which to create great works because of its great symbolism, its long history spanning centuries, and its message of passion for nobleness, righteousness and equality.  There are very few other settings that are as conducive to opening up the greatness of an artist.

templar engraving, masonic knights, templar sealNauthton-Shires is carrying the New Age Of Masonic Expression into its next phase.  He has a little twist on the applications of Dafoe and Stewart.  Rather than producing words with enhancing visual effects, he is producing the visual, artwork, enhanced by words. This removes Masonic scholarship even further away from the bookshelves.  Soon applications such as Power Point presentations which can be shown almost like movies will be a Masonic creative specialty and I have no doubt that a man like Naughton-Shires will be leading the pack in taking Masonic expression into deeper and unexplored waters.

blood_cross-242x300That being said Naughton-Shires is proving he is no flash in the pan, no fluke, no 90-day wonder. Rather what I see is continued growth and depth of presentation in his work as demonstrated by his latest Issue 3 of The Masonic Art Exchange Newsletter.  He has adopted a Knights Templar theme for the next four or five issues and this Newsletter is sort of an introduction to Templar art. Naughton-Shires asserts:

“Most of the ‘standard’ Templar art is seen in almost every book, magazine and article on the warriors who wore the red cross, and I will attempt to include this in my article but I hope to show art by lesser known modern day artists in the issues that will cover this subject.”

MAE_cover1_3-212x300The cover page of this issue is a compelling picture of a Knight Templar called “Fear” and painted by the brilliant Argentinean artist Ignacio Bazan.

And Naughton-Shires outstanding feature article in issue #3 is titled, The Art of The Knight Templars:  Artistic Representations of The Crusader Knights of God. In it he features the story and work of Benedictine Monk Mathew Paris and a plethora of early Templar art.  Later issues will feature more modern Templar paintings and drawings.

The Knights Templar have been as Naughton-Shires says, “an enigma for many years.” Yet they hold an amazing attraction for modern day society that just can’t seem to get enough of the “lore of the Knights.” Like many of us Naughton-Shires has the “Templar bug” and I asked him what first intrigued him about this society?

“I have had a keen interest in the Templar since watching the movie Ivanhoe many many years ago in which they are depicted as the ‘bad guys’; of course after research I discovered that as with any group there were bad guys indeed but also many good guys.”

Caballero-201x300There is one picture in the article that really caught my eye.  It looks like a tapestry and features green and orange colors.  I couldn’t quite make out what was going on in what looked like a story of some kind in pictures.

Naughton-Shires explains what he knows about this work of art:

“The image is of a twelve century map of Jerusalem which depicts a crusader knight in a white mantle assisting the other knights. It is believed to actually be a depiction of St George but this is based on the Latin inscription behind his head that reads Scs Georgius”

There is also an Apron article in this issue and some other tidbits not available for viewing at the time this article was written.  But then again, I wouldn’t want to tell you all the good things in Issue #3 of The Masonic Art Exchange’s Newsletter.  Better you should go find out for yourself.


4762_94091970977_519860977_2024766_3953554_nAnd as you do that note where Masonic scholarship seems to be going. We are entering a new age of Masonic Expression, one where the visual arts vault into first place ahead of the word.  And leading the charge is Naughton-Shires carrying the torch from Dafoe and Stewart who are shoo-ins for the 21st Century Masonic Hall of Fame. Sometimes the pupil surpasses the Master but that remains to be seen.

Naughton-Shires is still climbing the wall of stardom. It might behoove us all to grab onto his cable tow and let him pull us into greater heights of Light and once in awhile in the rough places, the precipices that do not hold, for some of us to pull him up and out.  The journey together, the journey shared is very rewarding. Naughton-Shires is beckoning for you to come along for the ride.  My advice is do it and don’t look back.

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Shot From The Cannon – David Naughton-Shires And The Masonic Art Exchange

If I were to tell you that there is a man raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason in 2007 who has in just a short period of time started a Masonic organization with a newsletter which has exploded with membership overnight beyond his wildest dreams, who is writing a novel, producing a graphic novel, working on a book for a college, writing several Masonic research articles for Masonic Journals, is an officer in his Craft Lodge, a member of a Research Society, producer of an upcoming Templar comic presentation, a Committee Chairman for The Masonic Society and an editor for The Global Fraternal Network (GFN) would you not want to know more about him? Who he is?

Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, —no it’s Brother David Naughton-Shires.

Until the last few years, 38 year old Naughton-Shires lived a rather quiet, modest life with his wife and three children in Sixmilebridge, Ireland just 9 km out of Shannon where he helped his wife run a small dance studio and scraped together a rather meager living in graphic design and illustration.

THEN HE JOINED FREEMASONRY…………….AND BANG AS IF SHOT FROM A CANNON, the life of David Naughton-Shires has not been the same since.

He was raised to the third degree in October of 2007 in Ormonde Lodge 201 in the Province of North Munster in the Irish Constitution where today he holds the office of Inner Guard. He hopes to go onto the Royal Arch in just a few months.  But as you can see it will be October of 2009 before he has completed two years in the Craft which makes his Masonic accomplishments quite remarkable – as if shot from a cannon.

He tells us that right away, “I found the Craft had produced over the years a wealth of fantastic art, and I started to collect what I could find that fell within my meager budget.  This consisted of items such as Ladies Festival Menu cards, lodge summonses, and certificates.  From time to time I came across a beautifully illustrated book or two, and as I continued to collect I noticed there was a lack of current art for Freemasons available and what there was, well hidden within the Craft with the exception of the wonderful art of Brother Stephen McKim. Also the standard of publications being produced internally and externally was not always inspiring.”

“I asked myself the question why was this and how could this be resolved?  I know that many Lodge newsletters and other similar publications were produced by very well meaning Brethren with only limited experience and knowledge of design who under increasing pressure produced the best they could, and I came to the conclusion they needed help not criticizing.”

So help them he would.  He decided to start a group in Facebook with this idea in mind.  He wanted to centralize in one place where Brethren with talent who were prepared to help could come together and share their work for the use of anybody who needed it.  He called his new group THE MASONIC ART EXCHANGE. The concept hit the Internet like a sudden Texas thunder storm, exploding into over 500 members in just a few weeks. In his own words Naughton-Shires describes the mission of Masonic Art Exchange.

“In a nutshell the aims of the group is to provide a central ‘hub’ for the coming together of people who wish to improve the graphical look of the many newsletters, leaflets, circulars and the such presented within the craft by providing a forum and communication point for each other to offer advice and support on a design basis”

Naughton-Shires decided that a newsletter that the members could contribute to and pass onto the members of their Lodge would be a good illustration of what could be done with a little help. In a few more weeks, which is where we are as of this writing, the Masonic Art Exchange has grown into a membership of over 1100 and Naughton-Shires has decided to produce the newsletter bi-monthly and add a website and a forum for non Facebookers (  The first newsletter consisted of just six pages including the front and back covers.  But the second and most recent has twenty two pages with some really super articles as well as illustrations. One of them is “Skull & Gold: Creating Knight Templar’s Aprons,” a brief outline of the story behind The Knight Templar’s Aprons along with the beautiful creations of Ginger Wood Smyrl.  Also in this issue is “Et in Arcadia Ego,” by Brother Nathan M. Glover who shares with us the symbolism found in the Et in Arcadia Ego paintings. Those of you searching for some portraits of George Washington in Masonic regalia also will not be disappointed.  Issue #3 is being worked on as of this writing but it already has some very interesting stories and illustrations, two of which will be “Art of the Templar Knights” & “Painted Aprons.”

To help in this enterprise which was growing by leaps and bounds Naughton-Shires added Vice-President Brother Martyn Greene who handles the Facebook group and put writer Brother Kevin Noel Olson in charge of articles for the newsletter.

The Masonic Art Exchange is open to everyone, Mason and non Mason alike.  The rules are pretty simple and straight forward.  If you are posting to the site the work must be yours and not somebody else’s and you must be prepared to share it with everybody.  If you are using something from the site you must give credit to its author, inform the author of what publication it is being used in and use it only for nonprofit enterprises.  In addition:


For ease and maximum exposure there are two sites where you can  download the newsletter, scribd – and issuu  –

Or if you prefer you can now do the same thing from the website – or on Facebook.

But as we have already seen this man shot from the cannon has many irons in the fire. He is a correspondent circle member of the Lodge of Research Number 200 in Ireland ( Soon he will have his first paper published in the Hibiscus Masonic Review ( ). He is a founding member and Irish Second Circle Committee Chairman of The Masonic Society ( He is the new Graphics Editor for the Global Fraternal Network (GFN) and has just completed designing his first issue for them ( Here is another project he is working on:

For those who might denigrate Masonic activity on the Internet I ask them to come see what David Naughton-Shires is doing online.  He is a man who has accomplished more in his two years in the Craft than many of us do in a lifetime.  The secret to his success is the quality of his work.  You only have to spend a few minutes on The Masonic Art Exchange to be impressed.  It would seem that what he has started may expand and become a broader concept than it is now.  Also success can breed more success in spin offs and related enterprises and that may well be a path for Brother David Naughton-Shires. All of us at Freemason Information wish him all the best and continued success.  Above and beyond all this is the great service available to us all to improve the quality of all our publications whether big or small.  Also up to now there has been no site dedicated to Masonic artists.  We may find around the world many Freemasons who are artists and who have been operating in the shadows of ignominy.  No more.  They will shine in the light of The Masonic Art Exchange and we shall all be able to enjoy their works.

Where Were You First Made A Mason? – An Answer To Fundamentalists

Me: Bill, I had a great time this weekend with my Lodge. We went out to Union Park with our families and had a big BBQ.  The swimming was good and the food was great.  But the best time was just sitting under the shade tree and reminiscing with old and new friends.

Bill: You are always talking about your Lodge but I don’t get this Masonry thing.  I never could see why a man would join.  I know you get a lot of pleasure from it but I don’t see what is so special about it.  I go out to Union Park with friends now and then myself but none of them are Masons.

Me: Well Bill, Masonry is more than social good times.  It’s also about reverence, respect, knowledge, a helping hand and close bonding relationships. As a matter of fact it is a philosophy, a virtual way of life………ah, a method of looking at the world and yourself through a different prism.

Bill: So how does this new way of life, this different prism do for you at Union Park with all your Mason friends?

Me: Well I know where the heart is of all my Brothers, even the ones I don’t know.   And that’s important to me.  Someone once said that – “you are who your friends are.”  My contention is that nobody is perfect and that it is possible to be led into or to follow the wrong path in life.  One can get lost in superficial and unrewarding patterns of life by constantly associating with corrupting influences.  I choose to surround myself with those who try to be noble and righteous and I believe that encourages me to “make something of myself” and to improve myself as a person and that is what God wants for me.

Bill: I didn’t realize how deep Masonry is.  I have to say now that it sounds almost like a religion. Would you say that your Brothers look upon their Lodge as church?

Me: I am sure some mistakenly substitute Lodge for church but their reasoning is faulty and their actions bespeak of one who is lazy. Masonry has many religious people in the fraternity but the approach in Lodge is more spiritual than religious.  By that I mean that it has nothing to do with sectarian dogma but everything to do with an appreciation of the Creator and the wonders of His creation.

Bill: My Pastor does not speak complimentary about Masonry.  He says that I don’t need another Guidance System, the one I have right here in church has everything I need.

Me: Well Bill, church is about worshiping the Almighty Creator.  Its focus is salvation, its work the improvement of the soul.

Lodge is not focused on the Hereafter.  Its theme is the interrelationships right here on earth.  It delineates an earthly philosophy the practice of which points you to seeking that relationship with your Creator.  It sends you to church to complete the edification of the other half of yourself.

Bill: But it sounds to me from all that I have heard and of what you have had to say that you are offering a system of morality, a way of life as you call it, that teaches a certain path that should be taken to live your life.  That sure sounds to me like a competing Guidance System as my Pastor believes.

Me: Look Bill, we talk about the virtues of Masonry………er, of being a virtuous person using the already established patterns of life that are universally accepted by all cultures.  Masonry is the application of your creed not a competing way of worshiping. Being a believer in Democracy rather than totalitarianism is a philosophy, a way of life.  But no one is calling that path a competing religion or guidance system.

Bill: I’m a little bit confused and I am not sure how to separate the two, Masonry and church.

Me: Many facets of life, Bill, don’t compete with each other they are intertwined. There is a lot of crossover here in the applications used to take this journey we call life. You can chop them up into neat little boxes but that is a separation that is artificial and does not deal with the complexity of actually living life. Try looking at what you call –competing guidance systems – as interrelated, intertwined aspects of the same discipline all leading to the same end.

Bill: So what you are saying is that while we all think that we are doing something different we are really all doing the same thing?

Me: Now you are getting the idea, Bill.  Which is why a Jew, a Muslim and a Christian can all sit in Lodge together.  We are all worshiping God but we are not holding a worship service. And all that we talk about in Lodge is universal to them all.

Bill: I can see why some people misunderstand all this.  It takes a little bit of thinking about it to grasp Masonry’s niche in the scheme of things. But I can see now that Masonry is a universal application of all that is good and righteous in life.  I would now have to say that makes it complimentary not competing.  I wonder why my Pastor and others think of it as a competing religion?

Me: Because in most instances we do it so well.  We end up being more influential in a man’s life than his Pastor and some Pastors just can’t take that.

Bill: So how come you have never asked me to become a Mason?

Me: Oh but I have.  Not in so many words, but as you have said I talk about my Lodge quite often.  That information is then there for you to act upon.  We do not invite you in, you ask to join.

Bill: So when I go through the ceremonies of initiation I will come out this new person?

Me: No.

Bill: Just when I thought I had a good handle on what is going on here I find myself lost again.  Again I am confused.

Me: The ceremonies are required so that your mind has a logical understanding of where your heart already is.

Bill: So are you saying that I am already there?

Me: Where is a man first made a Mason?

Bill: I don’t know.

Me: In his heart.

Bill: I finally, finally got it!  All I have to do now is ask.

emblem of industry

The Knight At Ease

Steve McKim is a Master of Masonic art and he designs many good presentations. One of his latest works is called Masonic Dreams.  And from that collection here is characterization of a good friend.

You can see much of the rest of McKim’s artwork

Stop and browse awhile.  If you ever do a Masonic presentation or write a book consider Steve McKim or Greg Stewart to do the artwork for you.

Realizing The Opportunity

Gate City Lodge 2

A printed media distributed over a wide area of Georgia called The Sunday Paper has published a long story on the Gate City Lodge 2 situation titled, “Letting In A Black Man, Atlanta Freemason Lodge Fights For Equality.” The paper tells the story of Victor Marshall the soft spoken Black Army Reservist raised by Gate City 2 who has become the center of a controversy being reported across the nation and to the world.

As we all know now the charges have been dropped but Attorney Brother David Llywellen explains the continuance of the Lodge’s counter suit.

“The apparent lack of foundation for the charges filed against Gate City, as well as a fear of losing their charter, led Bjelajac and Gate City to file a lawsuit in DeKalb County to stop the Grand Lodge of Georgia from taking internal action against the lodge and its leader. Llywellen contends that the Grand Lodge had an obligation to dismiss the charges leveled by Hicks and Etheridge as soon as they were filed. Instead, says Llywellen, the Grand Lodge, including a South Georgia attorney named Franklin Aspinwall, who was to chair the Masonic charges and is named in the suit, violated their contractual obligation to Gate City members by putting their charter in jeopardy based on “spurious” charges. Although the internal charges made by Hicks and Etheridge have been withdrawn, the Gate City Masons want some assurance they will not be subject to similar charges in the future before they withdraw their suit.”

And as The Sunday Paper reports there was also some high level Georgia Masonic support for Gate City 2.

“ The controversy surrounding Gate City Lodge has resulted in two resignations at the state level. David Herman, a member of Gate City Lodge, resigned from his post as district deputy to the Grand Master. ‘As a District Deputy, I must be the Grand Master’s representative; nothing more and nothing less. Yet, as a Freemason, I could not sit on the sideline and be a passive witness to these events. I resigned so that I might stand with my [Gate City] Brethren.’ Gate City fell under the jurisdiction of District Deputy John Holt, an 82-year-old retired machinist and salesman, when Victor Marshall became a Master Mason. Grand Master James Jennings asked Holt to tender his resignation after the controversy broke.”

So far this is a rehash of what most of us know.  But this writer would like to contend that it is the heroic efforts of many Masons across North America in putting pressure on the Grand Lodge of Georgia that has been influential in returning a positive outcome to a divisive and despicable action foretelling enormous consequences.

From Greg Stewart’s breaking fully documented story, My Brother’s Keeper. Open Racism in Georgia Freemasonry,” to my own efforts and articles, to the articles and intercessions of Terence Satchell, we at Freemason Information have been a leader in bringing to you the reader the story in all its components and aspects and to adding our voices  working for an amicable solution based on brotherly love and the virtues of Freemasonry.

“As the drama between Gate City and the Grand Lodge plays out, it is likely to have effects beyond a shake-up of Georgia’s Masonic officers. South Dakota’s Mt. Rushmore Lodge No. 220 has petitioned the Grand Lodge of South Dakota to ‘issue a formal, public statement that it will not accept racial or religious intolerance, prejudice, or bigotry in any of its subordinate lodges.’”

Added to this effort of Brother Satchell has been the efforts of Chris Hodapp as reported by The Sunday Paper.

“’It’s humiliating for the rest of the world of Freemasonry,’ he says. ‘I contacted my Grand Master and said, ‘If it turns out that these charges go through and if something happens to Gate City Lodge or its members because of it, I would strongly recommend considering withdrawing recognition of Georgia.’”

“Despite the stickiness of the situation, Hodapp feels there are things the Grand Master could do to resolve deeper problems surrounding the Gate City situation. A statement denouncing racism in Georgia Freemasonry would help erase any confusion over the role of race in Georgia Masonry, says Hodapp. The Grand Lodge, he says, could also move to recognize Georgia’s Prince Hall Freemasons. The predominantly African-American group sprang up as a response to the segregation inherent to nearly all social groups in the United States before the mid-20th century, and is recognized by most Grand Lodges in the U.S. Recognition of Prince Hall Masons by Georgia’s Grand Lodge would make Prince Hall Masons welcome at meetings of Masonic Lodges across Georgia and blur the implied color line that comes from having two separate grand lodges in the state.”

There is an opportunity here that already has been seen by some.  That is a chance to move into high gear the breakup of the KKK influence in Southern Freemasonry and the adoption of racial mixing with the recognition of Prince Hall Masonry throughout the region.  If the Mainstream Grand Lodge of Georgia were to issue a proclamation of racial harmony as a policy of the Grand Lodge and if they were to accompany that with Prince Hall recognition they would break the back of racism in Southern Freemasonry and blow wide open the continued discrimination of Blacks and the non recognition of Prince Hall.

If you look historically at important changes in life, of new courses chartered in unfamiliar waters, in most cases you will not see them just sort of falling together of their own free will and accord but rather being driven by an outspoken leader or group who rallies public opinion to the extent of overwhelming all who disagree.

We have just such an opportunity today if many of us will just come out of our little insular Masonic shell and view the Craft in the U.S.A. as one fraternity not 50 different societies.  There is no reason that Freemasons from every region and every state cannot be united in seeking enforcement of certain basic principles of righteousness taking heed of the methods of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King to bring about change and acceptance of basic human and civil rights.  There is no reason today in the Information Age Society in which we live to be restricted from speaking out against human wrongs and working actively for human rights because you belong to another Masonic jurisdiction. Non Masons are going to look at and judge Freemasonry as a whole not selectively differentiating between what the Grand Lodges of Minnesota and Vermont do in contrast to how the Grand Lodges of Georgia and Louisiana operate.

There are other Brothers working in other jurisdictions to bring about peaceful reconciliation. They feed off and are inspired by our support.  If the Grand Lodge of Georgia were to close Gate City Lodge 2 and pull its charter then that would be a setback for development in other jurisdictions, for Grand Masters who seek to keep things as they were 100 years ago would be emboldened. It is the sharing of information and the encouragement we give that can motive those caught in a seemingly hopeless situation to nevertheless continue on. And it is important for all of us in the Fraternity to recognize that we are in the Information Age where ideas are exchanged, information published and discussion made available.  This is no longer your Grandfather’s Chevrolet.

Most important of all is the ability for us to recognize that we are all one.  Californian Masons and Kansas Masons and Michigan Masons and Maryland Masons and South Carolina Masons and Florida Masons and Kentucky Masons and Arkansas Masons and Colorado Masons and Alberta Masons and Ontario Masons and Nova Scotia Masons are all one, all Brothers of the same Three Degrees, all children of God working for the Brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God. We are all one.

The story in The Sunday Paper, Letting in a black man – Atlanta Freemason lodge fights for equality, has since been archived and the site disbanded.