Closed, Cloistered, Secret Sect or Open, Fraternal, Society Partner

This article could have been titled “The Castration of Freemasonry, Part 2” but I have chosen a new title so that both articles can stand on their own separately, not that there won’t be a fair amount of repetition between the two. Somehow I just keep seeing more and more material related to this subject, almost if an angelic messenger was shoving new considerations under my nose.

The original article, Part 1, has been published by A Partir Pedra and can also be read here: It will perhaps provide some needed background to a continuation of the same theme. The title of this article has no bearing in reality; rather it is what is perceived by the general public not actually authored by the fraternity. In essence it is an exaggeration that does point to different schools of Masonic practice.

A number of Masonic writers and thinkers have mentioned that Freemasonry around the world has different priorities and focus.  It has been pointed out that European Masonry’s main focus is philosophical, North America’s social and South America’s political or to put it another way – passive, neutral and proactive in its role with society.  All practices are charitable although the U.S.A. carries its mission of relief to an extreme position.

Could it be that European Masonry, using Britain as a model, over time after The Enlightenment became accepted and codified into law and practice, evolved by melding with a governmental structure that promoted an official state religion, and that influenced Freemasonry to remain private?  If Freemasonry here is a quasi governmental/religious structure, some say captured by them, might that prevent it from entering into any kind of rebellion, reform or societal change and mold it into an organization which withdraws within itself mirroring that privacy found in English Gentlemen’s Clubs? Perhaps France with its French Revolution is the exception here that might explain their fracture into multiple Grand Lodges.

Could it be that North American Masonry, using the U.S.A. as a model, actually became so identified with the overthrow of British rule, reform and remaking and restructuring of the entire society, always placing the leaders of the Craft in the public eye, the end result being a system of checks and balances and separation, separation of church and state, that it actually programmed itself to walk away from being allied with church and state (Washington refused positions as both President for life and national Grand Master)? The United States Constitution, its political, legal and judicial systems were all crafted democratically, with heavy Masonic influence, to be a new way of doing things that reversed and corrected the odious tyrannical despotism of its European heritage. And because of all that, might we be able to say that North American Masonry accomplished its mission of liberty, equality and fraternity and now went on to just develop social relationships?

And could it be that South American Freemasonry because it was never able to ally itself with a religion, as most of the area was Roman Catholic, nor with government because it was most often undemocratic and tyrannical, never developed into the European model? Is it not true that the Roman Catholic Church often did ally itself with the government so that what Masonry fought elsewhere to reform – freedom of religion, free public schools instead of parochial church schools, democracy and separation of church and state – never got implemented in South America until much later?  So could we not say that Masonry, a product of the Enlightenment, was still fighting to get the Enlightenment implemented into society in South America? And that of course would explain it being tagged as political.

Then perhaps we could say that European Masonry, which implemented the Enlightenment without a complete remake and restructure of church and state, was able to ally or attach itself to these institutions and thus Masonry became passive. And North American Masonry, which became the leading philosophical influence on political thought and actual leadership of a complete societal remake, revolution and writing a Constitution from scratch, accomplished its mission and separated itself according to the rules it drew up and thus became neutral.  And South American Masonry, which neither blended with the rulers of society nor was successful in implementing the Enlightenment, fought on and thus became pro active.

But these, as you can see, are all only questions.  And what I am hoping for are others in the Craft more knowledgeable to offer correction and refinement of these musings. There are so many exceptions to the hypotheses, France and Italy, Canada and Brazil and others. Perhaps we have really only been talking about British, United States and Mexican Masonry.  But it does seem that the course society takes has a direct correlation with the course Masonry takes.

But there have been other influences on Masonry besides society. Another influence on how it sees its role is Masonry’s origin.  What are Masonry’s roots and how has its traditions made it into what we see today? Heretofore, two schools of thought as to Masonry’s origin held the most public prominence.  One school said that Masonry came out of the stonemason guilds while a second postulated that Masonry started with the Knights Templar.  Of course there are some who desire the best of both possible worlds by stating that Masonry was an amalgamation of the two.

Mark E. Koltko-Rivera, writing in Heredom, formulates another hypothesis. He backs up Mackey in stating that Masonry roots are in esoteric knowledge passed down from generation to generation in many different forms.

Mackey’s claim was:

  1. Knowledge of the reality of God and the immortality of the soul was transmitted through a line of biblical personages, from Adam to Solomon and beyond.
  2. After the biblical period, this knowledge was preserved, over the course of human history, in the civilizations of late antiquity and on until the European Enlightenment, through societies of esoteric knowledge and initiation, culminating in modern Freemasonry.
  3. And the manner of transmission involved imitations employing symbolism and allegory.(1)

Koltko-Rivera refines Mackey’s assessment of biblical personages to mean communities of esoteric philosophy operating in the name of those biblical personages, so he talks about the communities of Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah and Abraham. After the biblical period he talks about the Eleusinian initiatory mysteries, the Qumran sect, Gnostic groups and the rite of Five Seals, Jewish Hekhalot and Merkavah mysticism, Hermetic societies in Egypt, other mystery schools in Greece and Rome, on to the Kabbalah, Elias Asmole, Sir Isaac Newton and the Rosicrucians. Although we might have left out a few groups along the way, we have enough to get a clear picture of where this school of thought is taking us. Perhaps it is quite a stretch to link all these parts into a whole or to say they were all interconnected. Personal genealogy is hard enough to research, but group or organizational genealogy going that far back would seem to many schooled in the scientific method to be a giant guess. What is important, however, is not the veracity of the claim but what kind of influence has this kind of thought had on Masonry?

Recently there has been a revival in Gnostic adherence since the discoveries at Nag Hammadi and the Kabbalah especially among Masons. These esoteric teachings and schools steer Masonry into being a philosophical society teaching Gnostic thought, that is that Masonry really does have some secret, special, superior knowledge over and above what the obvious, literal reading of its ritual says.  Even Wilmshurst will tell us that. Thus we have in Freemasonry a society that possesses this Gnostic esoteric knowledge of a superior life making Masonry an elite, closed organization that can only reveal the secrets of a better life to those who become part of the inner circle. This looks close to the European Model of above.

But is Masonry another mystery school or is it today a maker of leaders?  Is Masonry perhaps more open, declining any special secret or superior knowledge?  Can it be that Masonry is most successful at putting together a complete package of education and ethics along with toleration and non-judgmental acceptance of every school of thought and practice, race, religion and standing in life? Can it not support justice and freedom and show the world how it can live together peacefully? Can Masonry not help guide society and turn out leaders from its ranks to work in society to make for a better world? This looks closer to the above models of North and South America.

So the question really is, is Masonry’s purpose to just privately improve its own members who then are keepers of the sacred knowledge or is it to prepare men to be leaders within society in the various disciplines of politics, science, business, medicine and religion etc, to stand for what is just, right and ethical in a fallen world and to be a beacon of light for peace and harmony among all peoples and nations and to actively work for such?

What is most important, what one believes or what one does? It sounds like the Christian argument of salvation by faith or by works.

We read in Ephesians (2:8-9):

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this not your own doing: it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast.”

We read in the book of James (2:14-17 & 24)

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works?  Can faith save you?  If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your full,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead………You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

An American friend transplanted in Britain almost 20 years ago and raised a British Mason, after reading “The Castration of Freemasonry” E-Mailed me some comments.

There is a real and tangible difference between Freemasonry in England/Wales and Freemasonry in the United states,” he said.  “Here there is a slight tinge of stink attached to being a Freemason.  People don’t know why they think this, but there has always been the suspicion that Freemasonry is a gentlemen’s club in which one hand scratches the other’s back.  Thus many local councils prohibit Freemasons from public employment, and police authorities and the judiciary require that their members and employees disclose Masonic membership.”

“People here generally do not wear Masonic rings or ornaments outside the Lodge.  You don’t normally discuss Masonry or your membership with every one of your best friends.  You might discuss it with close friends, or mention it if someone shows interest, but you don’t talk about it very much.  There are no items such as Masonic number plates for cars, nor are there signs at town and city borders telling you when the local Masonic lodge meets.”

“I believe the best way to combat all forms of intolerance is to start from within and work outwards.  Each man builds his own Temple inside, making it strong, watertight, and integral within itself.  When everyone has done this, the world will be a better place.”

From an American viewpoint, I would counter with that there is a certain price to be paid for being so closely associated with the rulers and power structure of society.  And that being so private as to be labeled secret arouses all sorts of public jealousy and suspicions.  It is the fire that fuels conspiracy theories.  And finally if we wait until everyone builds a better Temple for himself, we will wait until hell freezes over.  It was Martin Luther King, a friend of Masonry, and Brother Jesse Jackson who saw a need to go public and to openly tweak the conscience of society.

So again we ask what is most important what one believes or what one does? And we ask the same question of Masonry.  What is most important for Masonry, its privately held knowledge and belief system which one has to be initiated into or its public doings partnered with society thereby bolstering freedom, liberty, equality, opportunity and justice for all and its positive influence on world peace?

We as individuals are all products of our traditions, our culture and our upbringing.  We are also products of the society we live in.  The same can be said of Masonry. Can we as individuals change and take on a different persona? There is nothing we can’t do but remaking yourself is one of the hardest tasks you can attempt. And so we must conclude the same for Freemasonry.

(1)        “The Transmission of Esoteric Knowledge & The Origins of Modern Freemasonry: Was Mackey Right” by Mark E. Koltko-Rivera, Heredom, Volume 15, pg. 184

Patriots Day

April 19th is Patriots Day in Middlesex County, Massachusetts.  It marks the day of the first Battle of the American Revolution on April 19, 1775 , the Battle of Lexington & Concord – “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” & “The Shot Heard Round The World.”

About 70, maybe 80, Patriots stood on the Lexington Green on the morning of April19, 1775 and faced the British.  Approximately 26 of them were Masons and there wasn’t even a Masonic Lodge in Lexington at that time.

Remember, my Brethren, of the sacrifices Masons made for the freedoms we all enjoy today.  Remember that Freemasonry always stands for liberty, democracy and the worth and rights of the individual. Pay homage to the those Freemasons that came before us and played a significant role in the greatest experiment the world had ever seen.  Remember the roots of American Masonry.

The Old Past Master Part 3

As the Old Past Master pulled into the Lodge parking lot he knew he was early enough to get the Master’s ear for a bit.  He and the Master had cooked up one bang of an evening for tonight’s Communication. He needed to do more than cross his fingers though.  He needed to pray to the Grand Architect of the Universe to help guide the Lodge and see us all through this night.

Upon entering the Masonic building he went straight to the office.

“Evening Worshipful, are we all ready for tonight?”

“Ready as we’re ever going to be. Do you really think the members are going to go for this idea?”

“Well what other choices are there?”

“As usual your logic wins the day.”

“Let’s hope I am really as persuasive as you think I am.”

The two parted, the Master to greet the Lodge arrivals and The Old Past Master to look over his notes.

Lodge started right on time and as has been the case lately the Master breezed through the usual business, tabling some measures until the next meeting.

When he rose to speak you could hear a pin drop.

“Brethren, as charged at the last meeting, I led a delegation of three, the other two being Past Masters Schmidt and Crowley, into a conference with the Grand Master.  We had received an offer from a charitable non-profit agency for us to donate our building to them whereupon they would make the necessary repairs and then give us a 99-year free lease.  This seemed like a win/win proposal but we lacked the ability to dispose of our building, it being the property of Grand Lodge. So the meeting with the Grand Master was a plea to wave that Grand Lodge regulation and allow us to go through with the agreement with the Non Profit. “

“The Grand Master said he could not do that.  It would set a precedent for the entire jurisdiction, for how could he do it for us and not for everybody.  While once again he sympathized with our plight he explained that Grand Lodges had to maintain possession of all Lodge buildings for liability reasons, for in the event a Lodge went bankrupt and left significant creditors, the courts had previously ruled that Grand Lodge was liable for those debts.  The only way for Grand Lodge to be able to protect itself was to have full rights of ownership of its chartered Lodges building and property. Once again he suggested a merger or a rental someplace else.”

“I told the Grand Master that his refusal pretty much stymied us. We had investigated a merger, I told him, and it was not possible in the only other Lodge in our area. To travel a greater distance to another Lodge would result in poor attendance and be a death knoll.  I reminded him that we still had a $40,000 mortgage on the building and faced with continuing to pay that off and a rental someplace else at the same time was beyond the means of the Lodge to accomplish. I told him that we had a grand old building that now was in serious disrepair and that unfortunately the Lodge had all its money tied up in the building.  What we had now was a grand old albatross around our necks.”

“And lastly, before parting, I informed the Grand Master that it was entirely possible, based on a vote of the Lodge at its upcoming meeting, that the Lodge would turn in its charter and disband.”

“And that’s it, Brethren.  Now I would like to hear your thoughts on the subject.”

The Master was playing it really cool.  He had The Old Past Master waiting with his surprise but on his advice he was going to let the hand play out until their was no solution left but what The Old Past Master would lay on them.

Brother Hughes asked to be recognized.  “I think we out to ask all our members for an emergency donation,’ he said.

“That might mean a thousand dollars per member, Brother Hughes”, replied the Master. “Do you realistically think that in these terrible economic times that we can expect that kind of immediate, and I do mean immediate, donation from each and every member? Many of our members are retired and on fixed incomes.”

“Have we,” asked Brother Hathaway, rising and get the nod of recognition, “investigated the bank forgiving the mortgage and /or spreading the payments out over a longer period thus reducing the monthly amount and the town of giving us four or five years to update the electrical wiring?”

“That’s the first thing we did before we called these emergency meetings,” retorted the Master.

Past Master Schmidt you wish to speak. “Well Worshipful,” Schmidt despairingly spoke, ” I don’t see any other choice than for us to surrender our charter and disband.”

Not a sound could be heard in the Lodge room as Past Master Schmidt was one of the Lodge’s oldest and most respected members, next to The Old Past Master, that is. Nobody had another good idea. Most of the Brethren just stared at the floor in sadness.  If you looked really hard you might have even seen a tear or two.

That was the moment The Old Past Master was waiting for as he rose and spoke in a clear, loud voice of authority, “Worshipful Master.”

“Old Past Master”, responded the Master.

“As of this morning I now hold the note for the mortgage on this building, having paid off the bank with $40,000 plus fees. What I propose that we do is just what you have come to the conclusion that we must do.  But I have a plan for the Lodge to rise again out of the ashes.”

“First we surrender our charter.  Next I will foreclose on the building.  Then I will convince the Building Inspector who is a friend of mine to immediately condemn the building and put large signs to that effect on the outside. Now the repairs total about $40, 000 and the balance on the foreclosure will be $40, 000 with an additional $10,000 in interest, fees and other charges.  That’s $90,000 Grand Lodge is going to have to invest to get the building in a position to be resold.  Furthermore I will call in the entire amount of the note immediately which I can do on a condemned building. Now I will hold the note through a series of holding companies so that my name is hidden in all this.”

“After that I will make an offer to the Grand Master to purchase our building for $40,000.  He gets the mortgage paid off free and clear and I get the building.  I doubt he is going to want to invest all that money to get the building resalable because there are no buyers out there for the building.  We are headed for a depression in the economy and nobody in their right minds is investing in real estate of any kind.”

“Once I have the building back I will deed it to the Lodge with the stipulation that they take up the Non Profit on their offer. Now we will have a 99 lease free of charge on the building we are in now but we will no longer be a Lodge because we have no charter.  I have been bending the Senior Warden’s ear a lot lately.  He and I go back many, many years.  He has assured me that if we apply for another charter in good financial shape after he assumes the East in three months he will grant us a brand new charter and we are back in business.  I will simply tell him that a wealthy donor who wishes to remain anonymous came forward to bail us out and that we are now financially stable thanks to him.”

The only thing I ask is that the Lodge, now with no rent, heat, light or repairs to pay reimburse me at the rate of $200 per month for the rest of my life.  When I die any balance due is forgiven.”

After the period of shock and awe had subsidized, Past Master Schmidt rose and said, “I think I can speak for most all of us.  That, Old Past Master, was a right generous thing you did for the Lodge.  And your plan is well thought out and just deserts for a Grand Master who seemed very reluctant to bend any rules to help us.  Now if your plan works the Grand Master will give up his right to the building with no gain, he getting rid of this albatross around his neck in order not to get stuck with many years of taxes and ultimately a loss. It’s a shame that the end result for us via a circuitous route is the same as if the Grand Master had found a way to be our benefactor. My only concern is that if we go through with your idea, Old Past Master, the Grand Master might not take the bait.”

“In that case,” replied The Old Grand Master, “we are no worse off because without launching this plan the only real option we have is to desert the building, and either meet at somebody’s house or disband.”

With that the Master declared, “The East will now entertain any motions.”

A motion was made, seconded and passed to accept The Old Grand Masters plan and for everybody to keep their finger crossed.  Lodge closed at 10:21 PM in short form, after which most everybody retired to O’Reilly’s where many stories of past good times at the Lodge in this building were recounted.


The plan proceeded as scheduled.  The Building Inspector came down and put big condemned signs on the Lodge building, the Old Past Master foreclosed on the property against the Grand Lodge and the Master made a trip back to Grand Lodge with an official letter of the Lodge containing the vote of the Brethren and turned in the Lodge Charter.

After about a month the lawyer for The Old Past Master met with the Grand Master and offered to take the building off his hands for the cost of the $40,000 mortgage and all improvements needed to get the building up to code and repaired.  In lieu of that the lawyer said on behalf of his client the building owner he would expect full payment of the balance of the mortgage plus attorney fees, bank fees, court filing fees and town fees in 30 days. After 30 days the lawyer stated that all fees would double and the building owner would charge a late fee of  $1000 per month.

That seemed to have done the trick for in 29 days the Grand Master replied to the lawyer that he would accept the offer of the building owner.  Papers were signed with less than 30 days remaining on the Grand Masters term in office. Immediately afterward the Master notified the Non Profit that deal to donate the building to them in exchange for a free 99 year lease was on, contingent on obtaining a Charter and that he would keep them informed.

The next step was the new charter for the Lodge.  About a month after the former Senior Grand Warden had been installed as Grand Master, the Master and The Old Past Master met with him at Grand Lodge. The Master explained that they had received aid from a benefactor and were now ready to rent space free and clear form all financial obligations.

The Grand Master was a bit suspicious.  “It seems very convenient that all of a sudden you have some one donating emergency relief to you. Where was he just a few months ago when you could have used his help to avoid all this and who is he?”

“The donor is some one who wishes to remain anonymous,” replied the Master.  He didn’t hear or know about our predicament until the condemned signs went up on the building.  After this entire situation was not exactly front page news.  It was kept pretty quiet.”

“And where will you be renting space,” queered the Grand Master

“We will initially be meting in the back conference room of LaRusso’s Restaurant.  But we are negotiating right now to rent space back at the old Lodge building from the new building owner,” answered the Master.

“Now that’s a little too good to be true,” said the Grand Master. “I want your assurance that there was no skullduggery done here.”

This time the Old Past Master answered.  “Grand Master we have known each other for years and my conversations with you when you were Senior Warden were to keep you apprised of our situation and to provide you with all the facts as to what we were doing and what we hoped might happen in the future.  Let me say we have been most fortunate but that we have done nothing unmasonic or illegal. Everything has been above board.  This all could also have been avoided if the former Grand Master had found a way to help us.”

“Under the circumstances I am inclined to grant you your new charter.  However, since there might be some questions as to how convenient this all fell together, I am going to wait 5 months until Grand Session convenes and put it to a vote of Grand Lodge with my recommendation,” intoned the Grand Master.  “What would you like to name your New Lodge?”

“Mirabeau Lodge,” replied the Master.  “As you know George Mirabeau is the real name of The Old Past Master.”

Five months later at Grand Session Mirabeau Lodge #848 was granted a charter.

A few weeks later at their first meeting  in the Old Lodge building since disbanding the Old Past Master came to Lodge early and conferred with the Master in the office.

“I am feeling guilty over that little white lie I told about the anonymous benefactor,” said the Master. “I will do penance for that, but if I had to do it all over again, I would do the exact same thing.”

“Don’t beat yourself up over something so trivial, when a Grand Master who could have granted special dispensation and bailed us out wouldn’t go out of his way for us.  I too regret we had to fib a little to get this through but the disposition of the property was honest and legal” replied The Old Grand Master. This is a new beginning.  Let us begin.”


More on the Old Past Master:

Truth Or Consequences

One of the mistakes made in Masonry by our grandfathers and great grandfathers was to never answer the critics of the Craft. Turn the other cheek and keep your mouth shut was the motto of many who came before us.

But this was a serious mistake because it only led the majority of the public watching and listening on the sidelines to think that perhaps there was some truth to the outlandish claims made by the loudmouth detractors of Masonry. After all if the claims against Masonry were false why would Masons allow them to be repeated over and over again without refutation? Unfortunately this line of reasoning has lead to the acceptance of many false doctrines.

Perhaps our forebears were reacting and influenced by the stories told about the Morgan Affair. If you are not familiar with the full story of this tumultuous time in Masonic history I would recommend “From Batavia To Baltimore” by Stephen Dafoe in Volume 15 of the Heredom publication of The Scottish Rite Research Society. To our merit the Mason of today will be much less tight lipped.  He will not allow the profane to get away with lies and slander.

The Pursuit of Truth can be a sticky and nasty affair. While you have what you think is a portion of the truth others will tell you that you are wrong and that they have not only the correct path but also the correct version of the facts that led them there.  Which is all well and good for nobody possesses the whole truth, nobody is perfect and nobody is without fault.  When the police interview eyewitnesses to a crime scene they often times get slightly different versions from each person.  That’s because we don’t always see things and interpret things in the same manner with the same result.  But some of the true believers believe that they can bully their way into winning the debate.  The scream and yell and employ many an Ad Hominem argument. That causes the timid to keep it to themselves and the heartier to be very wary of stepping on the bully’s toes.

The very fact that we are Masons should put us into a constant search mode.  We are by nature a society that is constantly in the pursuit of Truth. We refuse to lead lives as cowards, fools, non-thinkers or libertines. And that’s as it should be.  For what is a Mason, what has he got, if not a vision and a mission then he has naught. As we as Masons empower our vision into a mission we often times come in conflict with those inside and outside the Craft. And when that happens it is important to remember also that how we handle ourselves is also another measure of a man as a Mason. For Masonry teaches us to be kind, well-mannered, soft spoken, tolerant and a gentleman in all things.

Lest anyone interpret my silence at my recent scolding and dressing down as acceptance of the Truth the way the other fellow sees it, rest assured I have only been trying to practice the virtues of being a Mason. And I take great solace in the words of Manly P. Hall.

“The situation, should remind Freemasons that they have something to live for…….We have the power to build worlds, the wisdom to govern them, and the divine right to inherit the earth and preserve it in good condition in order to pass it on to our descendants as a place of happiness, usefulness and security for thousands of years to come.  We are not asking for treason or disobedience, only…….that in every way possible, when they have the choice, stand for truth, and, if necessary, take a little punishment for it.”

In Pursuit Of Truth

grand lodge of west virginiaI think many Freemasons from many Obediences have heard about Minnesota withdrawing Recognition from West Virginia. The Blue Lodge reports the story:

Minnesota Masons Join the call for Change:

It appears that the Masons in Minnesota are now joining the call for change from within our fraternity. Below is the motion that passed during this years GL Of Minnesota’s session:

Whereas the Grand Lodge of West Virginia has arbitrarily and recklessly ignored the will of their brethren, expelling a Past Grand Master without trial or redress, violating the ancient and accepted customs and tenets of our Fraternity and bring shame and disrepute on all Masons and Freemasonry, and

Whereas they have been named in a civil suit further bringing the Craft into public disrepute and score,

Therefore be it resolved that the Grand Lodge of Minnesota expresses its concern over these actions and will consider suspending recognition of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia upon the recommendation of our External Relations Committee at our next Annual Communication in 2010 if there is not correction of these actions and a renewed willingness by the Grand Lodge of West Virginia to enter into the modern fraternity of Freemasonry.”

Some time ago I took a lot of flak for coming out and actually saying that I thought The Masonic Society was a bad mistake.  Not only were the makers and shakers over there on the rebound after a failed and foiled attempt at a coup d’état over at The Philalethes Society but they insisted, unlike The Scottish Rite Research Society or The Philalethes Society, on only permitting full membership from those Masons in good standing or in amity with the Conference of Grand Masters of Mainstream Masonry.

Now we have before us this problem.  It’s called West Virginia.  And whether you believe it or not and whether you like it or not or whether you care or not, what West Virginia does is a reflection on all of Freemasonry especially those Grand Lodges formed together into The Conference of Grand Masters of Mainstream Masonry. For you see the CGMMNA recognizes West Virginia and they do so like most Mainstream Masons and especially the Masonic Society no matter what The Grand Lodge of West Virginia does.  By wedding yourself  – and that goes for anyone – to support The CGMMNA through thick and thin you remove your ability to remain INDEPENDENT.  And if you cannot remain INDEPENDENT then you cannot be in pursuit of the TRUTH.  And seeking the TRUTH is something we all are supposed to be doing as Masons.

That’s the main crux of what I was saying before and what I am reiterating now.  As a Mason subscribe to your Grand Lodge but do not tie yourself down by signing on to entangling agreements with others to pit one group or Obedience against another or others.  Do not decide the TRUTH beforehand thereby perhaps allying yourself with what may become the less honorable or less noble position.  Remain neutral, investigate, educate yourself and then try to make the best possible decision you can on your own coming from your heart and your conscience not from the lynch crowd who have already made a pre judgment.

Those that pre-judge are then muzzled and when they find one of their group that is out of line, unmasonic, untruthful they cannot speak out or right a wrong because they have agreed in advance to support other groups no matter what. The Good Old Boys Gentleman’s Agreement – you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. You promise never to criticize me and I promise I will never criticize you no matter what the circumstances.  It smacks of our Congressmen who tell their peers, you vote for my earmark and I’ll vote for yours.

I have heard all the other objections that you will bring up. Again we don’t mess in another Grand Lodge’s business.  What another Grand Lodge does is no concern of mine.  And we are only getting one side of the story. I reserve judgment until I hear the Grand Lodge side of the story.

Quite frankly that’s never going to happen.  So your pursuit of TRUTH is going to have to go on without it unless you have already signed onto those who have agreed in advance never to criticize in which case you can never pursue the TRUTH.

And that’s when YOU HAVE SOLD OUT.  “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men to do nothing.”

But the problem will not go away if you ignore it, refuse to talk about it and bury your head in the sand.  And it hurts, it hurts so bad.  Listen to the Millennial Mason:

“All throughout Fridays sessions, I would run into M.W.B. Haas and I would discuss the situation of Masons in West Virginia. He told me everything from handicapped brethren not being allowed to be made Masons even if it occurred fighting for our Nation’s freedom, the lack of recognition for Prince Hall Masons in West Virginia and the fact that Lodge halls may not be used by groups like OES and Demolay to fundraise. Although he could not discuss the matter of his own expulsion as it is currently in court, I was intimately aware of his plight through sources found online and elsewhere. It is truly shocking what has and is continuing to happen in West Virginia.”

“I have looked at the different messages throughout the Internet, and I would like to clear up some miscommunication about the motion (which carried) concerning the Grand Lodge of West Virginia. The motion does not revoke recognition immediately nor even at the next Communication. The motion charges the External Relations committee to look into the regularity of the Masonic practices of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia and to report its findings to the Craft next year. At that time, it is possible that the Grand Lodge will vote on withdrawing recognition of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia.”

“As I am sure most of you are aware, it is a terrible, repugnant state of affairs within the borders of West Virginia for the average Mason. If he voices support for M.W.B. Frank Haas’ case, he is expelled through edict. The Grand Lodge is using hidden codes within their communications to flush out critics of their policies if that critic should give the communication to the Masonic Crusade. It is truly a story that even a fiction writer could not have invented.”

“Why am I so passionate about this issue? I met M.W.B. Haas and I immediately recognized that he was a good man, a man seeking to improve himself and his Grand Lodge in Masonry. This should be our calling as well.”

Brother Nick, this cannot be our calling unless we are FREE and INDEPENDENT to pursue the TRUTH. So heed the words of Brother George Washington and avoid the entanglements of foreign alliances (outside your Grand Lodge). Be true to yourself and let your conscience be your guide and act for the good of the Craft. And the truth shall set you free!

The Old Past Master Part Two

The Old Past Master pulled into the Lodge parking lot later than usual.  Others had already arrived.  He sat in the car for a bit, contemplating all that had taken place over the last three months. He had been in charge of the committee to look into selling the building and renting elsewhere. It’s sad, he thought, how may complain and how few volunteer to serve.  He had one new Brother who wanted to serve and he called a number of others until finally Past Master Crowley signed on.

His committee met at O’Reilly’s Pub and over an adult beverage of choice, hashed out a plan of action. Past Master Crowley took the commercial Real Estate offices to see how hard it would be to sell the building.  Brother Jenkins, one of the Lodge’s newer Masons, took the task of finding rental space. He went to talk to the Master, Wardens and Building Trustees of Fidelity Lodge to see about a merger or a straight rental. They agreed to meet back in one month at the same place.

One month later the news was not good.  PM Crowley reported that there virtually was no market for the Lodge.  Property foreclosures were heavy; the market was flooded with property that would not sell. The economy continued to tank and even bargain hunters were hard to find.  Brother Jenkins found three private locations that would serve the Lodge’s purpose for between $800 and $1400 per month.  Unfortunately all would need extensive renovation or restructuring to make them into a Lodge room and offices and any such remodeling would be at the tenant’s expense.  He had met with all concerned at Fidelity Lodge and later in the month they brought the subject up at their Communication for vote.  Fidelity Lodge would have no part of a merger.  They would, however, rent their Lodge building for $1000 per month. But there was something about their condescending attitude that left a lot to be desired.

All this passed through his mind in a matter of minutes.  He wondered how Findler and his committee had made out and if the Master had any luck with the Grand Master.  Well the only way to find out was to get into Lodge.

He entered the building and found the Master at the door as usual greeting Brethren.  The Master pulled him aside and said, “We need to have a private tête-à-tête after we close.  How about getting together at O’Reilly’s?”

“Sure thing Worshipful,” replied the Old Past Master.  “You buying?”

And with a nod of his head the Master was gone to attend to other business.

Lodge opened at exactly 7:00 PM, right on time, and the Master quickly dispensed with the usual business. He then arose to address the Lodge.

“As you know Brethren we have set aside most of this meeting for the purpose of continuing our dialogue of what to do financially as the costs of our building and the deepening economic crisis have put us in danger of bankruptcy.  As we left off our last get together on this subject three months ago you will remember that I appointed three committees counting myself and so let us start off with these committee reports.  Old Past Master can we have your report?”

The Old Past Master rose and delivered all he had gone over in his mind in the parking lot.  There was no market for selling the Lodge building, private rentals were available at an average of $1000 a month but the Lodge would have to pick up the cost of major interior remodeling.  Finally he reported that Fidelity Lodge did not want a merger but would rent their building to us for $1000 per month.

As he sat down Brother Johnson rose and was recognized.  “Seems to me there is no fraternal discount from Fidelity Lodge,” he stated.  “It almost sounds like they don’t really want us.”

“I agree,” replied the Master. “I have had some follow up conversation with the Master over there and he seems to feel that old bad blood between the two Lodges might spill over into today if the association was so close.”

“Well, I will give you my report next,” continued the Master.  “I met with the Grand Master at Grand Lodge and explained to him how desperate our situation was. We needed to upgrade our building right now and make the necessary repairs in order to continue to meet there.  He told me that, while he sympathized with our plight, that Grand Lodge was also feeling the pinch of the depressed economy and would have to be giving up some of its programs and lay off some full time paid staff at Grand Lodge. Under those circumstances he didn’t think it would look too good to lay off staff while subsidizing Lodges.”

“I asked him about a possible loan and he countered with, ‘Well Master do you think you have the where with all to pay it back?’ I allowed as how that might be a problem. But then I got his Irish up by mentioning that the Grand Lodge had some trust funds it could tap into.  He curtly informed me that it wasn’t all that easy and that these funds were set up to be untouchable except for their stated purpose under extreme circumstances. I countered with the fact that considering the state of our economy these were extreme circumstances.  And that abruptly ended our meeting. So, Brethren, it looks as if Grand Lodge cannot be our savior.”

“Let us hear now from Brother Findler.”

Brother Findler rose and reported, “Brethren, my committee searched for ways to increase our revenue.  The most likely prospect would be to get some good paying tenants for our building.  As you all know we have a pretty large building which has many more rooms in it than just a Lodge room.  With some minor alterations we have space available for certain businesses and organizations like a church or community service groups.  The committee scoured the area for prospective tenants but found nobody that wanted to make a move in such tough economic times unless we were offering free rent.  All hope seemed lost until I ran into this large Non Profit Group, which had been endowed by a wealthy deceased patron with a good sized trust fund.  They are in cramped quarters now and were looking for a larger space. We had some long conversation over the past two months and to make a long story short, they have made this offer to us.  If we will donate them the building they will make all the necessary repairs and upgrades at their expense and offer us a 99 year lease free of charge.  They are a 501©3 corporation involved in community charitable endeavors and thus will pay no corporation or property taxes. One of their community programs is refurbishing and remodeling old run down, condemned and vacant property and then turn it over to a needy family for a place to live. That provides them with the necessary tradesmen to perform the repairs and remodeling to our building at a reasonable cost.  This committee recommends that the Lodge look into the possibility of taking up this organization on its offer.”

At which point Secretary Dobson rose like he was shot out of a cannon. “Now I am sure Brother Findler knows that the Lodge building is the property of Grand Lodge and cannot be disposed of us as we please.”

“I am aware of that fact Brother Secretary,” replied Brother Findler,”but I thought perhaps the Grand Master might make an exception considering the seriousness of the circumstances and the dire straits our economy is in.”

Brother Gonsalves rose and after the Master nodded his head said, “I think the idea has a lot of merit and we should see what we can do.”

“I second the motion,” chimed in another Brother.

“The East will then entertain a formal motion,” declared the Master.

A motion was made that the Master appoint such Brothers as he deemed necessary to accompany him to Grand Lodge and meet with the Grand Master again to see if he could and would release the Lodge building to the disposal of the Lodge.  The motion was seconded and carried by a hand vote.  From the count there were no objections but a few Brethren refused to vote.

The Master than stated, “I think that will be all for tonight, Brethren.  We should address this subject again at our very next meeting in one month. If no one has anything else to bring before the Lodge I will proceed to close.”

Lodge closed at 10:10 PM in short form.

Afterwards at O’Reilly’s The Old Past Master and the Master huddled in quite conversation over a libation.

“You know, the Grand Master is not going to go for this idea either,” lamented the Master.”

“Unfortunately you are right,” replied The Old Past Master. “Yet our ammunition is far from being spent.  I have an idea up my sleeve that I have been saving.  I think that if we …………………………………………….”

More on the Old Past Master:

Five Reasons NOT TO BE A Freemason & One To Be One

Awhile back Brother Rui Bandeira of Portugal asked me if he could translate my Beehive posts “I Had A Dream” and “The Last Degree” into Portuguese and post them on his Masonic Blog – A Partir Pedra. I was honored and in no time there was The Beehive in Portuguese.

The moment was not lost on me however.  There is this natural curiosity in me and also a yearning to learn about other people in other lands, especially within the Masonic family. So I asked Brother Bandeira if he would write something for The Beehive that would give us some insight into Portuguese Freemasonry. Thus the article which you see below.

But there is one thing the reader needs to know.  Brother Bandeira’s native tongue is Portuguese .  He is not accomplished in English.  He does pretty well as you will see but concentrate more on the content of the article rather than the grammar.  I just wish I could do what Brother Bandeira can do and I offer him a tip of the hat!

The words below are all Brother Bandeira’s for he is my guest and he has written a a guest post for the Beehive. Thank you my Brother!


Political Influence – Power

Contrary to what many may think, Freemasons have no more influence in political power than any other social institution. The only influence that Freemasonry can exercise is only the moral one, by the example of its members through the application of its principles. They are wrong those who think that by joining the Freemasons they will have access to the corridors of power … Indeed, one of the things that a freemason soon learns within the Order is that it is much more comprehensive the illusion of power, than it itself. Each one has only the power that all the others recognize and accept one exercises. In Lodge, the holder of the Power, the leader, the decision maker, who holds the symbols of power, is the Master. Well, as anyone who has sat on Solomon’s Chair soon found out, in the job of Master of the Lodge one, after all, does not have more rights than the youngest Brother and has more duties than all the other Freemasons. Therefore, those who seek the perfume of the power, seek it elsewhere, not in Freemasonry. You will only learn the performance of your duties.

Economic Influence – business and money

Those who think that Freemasonry’s West Gate is a door for contacts and business and to provide conditions for “going up in life”, think again and think better! If this is the reason why you would like to join Freemasonry, save yourself to the work and costs of it. Within Freemasonry, you will makes the same business that you would make outside it. What everybody will ask you in Freemasonry is to give something of yourself in favor of others. From the others, you get what you actually need and what they can give you, not what you want or selfishly think that suits you. The business of Freemasonry is of moral and spiritual nature. Who wishes to enter the Temple must leave his metals outside.

Social Influence – honors and recognition

Freemasons use aprons and collars and jewels, it is true. But Freemasons consider it mere objects. The only difference between the most rich, beautiful, colorful and embroidered Grand Officer apron and the simple white apron is that who wears the former paid much more for it than who wears the latter. Moreover, from all the aprons which a Freemason can have, that which means most to him is the latter, the simple white apron. That is what any Freemason, whatever his grade or quality, can and should always symbolically wear. That is the adornment that a Freemason should always take care to maintain always white and pure, and therefore never sully it by objectionable or unworthy actions. Freemasons like to use his Lodge jewel, not because it is beautiful or valuable, but only because it is one of the symbols of his Lodge and its use shows everybody in which brotherly group he is incorporated. Freemason wears a collar when exercising a function, not because it is elegant, but just as a distinctive of the job he is doing. In good accuracy, the Freemason does not wear the collar; the job collar wears the Freemason… Neither does the Freemason, in the profane society, get any status or privilege other that the recognition of his qualities as a person, nor within Freemasonry the social, professional, academic or fortune status that makes any difference between a brother and another. The youngest Entered Apprentice has only a way to address the Most Worshipful Grand Master: “My Brother!” And that is thee treatment he gets in return from the Grand Master. So, he who dreams Freemasonry might be an ideal place to gain or strengthen social recognition, do not be fooled by his dream nor deceive the Freemasons: abstain himself of trying to join the Freemasons!

Charities – to help the others

The well-intentioned who seeks in Freemasonry the instrument to fulfill his desire to help the next, to be charitable, if that is the main reason that moves him, if that is what he only sees in Freemasonry, he is also wrong. Not that Solidarity and Charities are not practiced by the Freemasons. Sure they are! But they are not Freemasonry’s main reason to exist. It is not because of Solidarity and Charity that Freemasonry exists. Solidarity and Charities are simple consequences of being a Freemason. In economics speech, although they are practiced, Solidarity and Charity are not the “core business” of Freemasonry. In business speech, even as important as they are, Solidarity and Masonic Charities are simply Freemasonry byproducts. Therefore, if it is Solidarity and Charities that attract the well-intentioned, and nothing more, and not essentially something more, then the best that the well intentioned has to do is to  fulfill his desire through other organizations specifically dedicated to that. Angel Flight is a good option. Red Cross, also. Cancer Aid, idem. Child Foundation, the same thing. And there are many more organizations that provide solidarity and charities. And even without joining any organization, certainly in your street or in your town you can find someone who needs your help. Give it to him or her!

Curiosity – to know the “Freemasons secret”

If it is curiosity that makes you want to become a Freemason, do not be fooled: you do not need to be a Freemason to know what you are curious about. Do you want to know the Freemasons words of mutual recognition? Arm yourself with a bit of patience, read some books, find some works which transcribe ancient rituals and please yourself! Never heard that Freemasons preserve tradition? Then just take the consequence of it, what was done previously is still valid now… But, what? Do you want to be a Freemason just to know this without the searching work? My friend, laziness is a mortal sin … If this is just why you want to be a Freemason, be aware that Freemasons do not want lazies among them… And – believe me! -, I assure you it will take more work and take much longer to learn these words, grade by grade, than to read them in some books. Everything is published!  Do you want to know the Freemasons secret signs? Poor soul,  what’s YouTube is for? So, dear curious, if it is curiosity that moves you to Freemasonry, forget it! You have other means to satisfy it! And finally, if you just want to know what Freemasons think, what they do, what they deal about, you do not even need to bother much: you just need to read Freemason Information and The Beehive!

And now, here is the single reason to become a Freemason

Desire for personal improvement

There is only one valid reason to want to be admitted a Freemason: the desire to improve yourself personal, ethical, and spiritually. He who, being a faithful man, defending freedom and morality, has this design and is willing to use the masonic method of search of the transcendent, he is welcome! He can be certain that nothing will be taught to him, but he can learn everything. He can trust that nothing is imposed to him, but he will willingly accept the conduct rules he will find. He can and should be prepared for a long and difficult and laborious journey, but he will never be alone, he will always be accompanied by his brothers. He will find that his works begin when he gets its first degree and will be finished only with his passage to the Lodge Above. He, if he works consistently and well, will become better, will act better in all aspects of his life and it will be by virtue of his improvement that he will be respected and can aspire to influence the others, perhaps in politics, perhaps in business, certainly in social relations, especially in the hearts of those who know him. He will be supportive and merciful, because that is the condition of a freemason, a fair and full and interested man, with the naturalness of breathing and the discretion of the sleep. He, if he has done consistently well his work, can aspire to Know, to Know what nobody can pass him, to Know what only he can sense, the glimpse of Divinity, the meaning of life and creation. And, if he is successful, he will understand that words can not convey this knowledge to anyone else, he can just help his brothers to make their journeys in order to aspire to sense, to perceive, to look. And then realize that this is the famous masonic secret! He, if he has done consistently well his work, even if he never will be anything more than a simple sideliner in a simple Lodge, he will be a true Grand Master, of himself, his consciousness, his initiatory journey. He will not have the honor to be admitted freemason; freemasons will be honoured that he has agreed to join them.

Rui Bandeira

The Old Past Master and Lodge Foreclosure

The Old Past Master left the house for Lodge extra early this night.  The meeting tonight would be a lively discussion that he hoped would not become a three-ring circus. He would like to arrive early before anybody else to see if he could be of assistance to the new Worshipful Master.  He was a good fellow but so young and inexperienced.  But he was working hard and always seemed to arrive very early to a meeting of the Lodge to prepare his program and greet every Brother at the door.

The Master had sent out notice in the Summons that tonight he would be discussing the future of the Lodge and its financial situation.  The topic all seemed to stem from a series of articles the Master called “blogs” which had appeared on the Internet titled “Preventing Lodge Foreclosures.” It seems two Brothers were debating back and forth on the proper action that a Lodge could take in the wake of tough economic times.  Last month the Master had shown him these articles and after reading them they had only time for a very short discussion on what the ramifications might be for our Lodge.

I guess I am just going to have to break down and buy a computer, The Old Past Master thought to himself.  Lord knows how I am going to learn how to use it.  They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  Well we have a number of young dogs in the Lodge now.  Surely they will come to my aid.

As he rounded the corner and pulled into the Lodge parking lot he spied the Master’s car in its usual spot. Upon entering the building he proceeded to the office where he found the Master at the computer with papers flying out of the printer in rapid succession.

“Good evening, Worshipful,” he called out.  “Getting ready for tonight’s donnybrook are we?”

“I’m afraid so,” replied the Master.  “It looks to me that this will be a tough meeting.”

How can I be of assistance,” offered The Old Past Master.

“Well I’m not sure how to broach the subject nor how deep into it we should get tonight,” queried the Master.

“Try placing the problems as you see them on the table and then let the Brethren draw their own conclusions and come up with their own solutions.”

“Ah, I see.  Don’t try to ram the whole deal down everybody’s throat.  State the case and sit back and listen.  I think I’m getting the hang of this leadership thing thanks to you.”

“Every Mason should lead his Lodge once in his lifetime.  It teaches him how to command by building a consensus.”

“Well I doubt if we will get a consensus tonight.  I am worried about the whole situation getting out of hand.  Maybe I should just downplay this whole thing.”

“Now is not the time to second guess yourself.  Part of good leadership is not shying away from the tough problems and decisions of the Lodge.”

“I know you are right but I would feel a bit more comfortable if you would be in my corner tonight and soften any harsh words.  It always helps to have backup.”

Don’t worry, Worshipful, I’ll help keep us on an even keel.”

Just then a few Brothers could be heard entering the building.  The Worshipful Master went out to greet them. Soon more and more were pouring in. The Old Past smiled to himself.  Here they come he, thought, all the old fogies who never come to Lodge until the talk of money becomes serious.

Lodge opened and the Master, after breezing through the Minutes, Bills and Correspondence, got right down to brass tacks.

“Brethren it is time to discuss our future and I have allotted most of this meeting having previously informed all the Brethren via The Summons.  Our nation is in deep economic distress and we are barely hanging on here.  Our building has no other tenets and its maintenance, upkeep and repair are an ever-increasing burden that presently consumes 90% of our budget. With Cap & Trade taxes and significant inflation coming our electricity and heating costs could double. We have already received notice that our property taxes are going to be increased by 10% next year. The paint is starting to peel on the outside of the building.  We have gotten estimates on having it repainted and the lowest bid is $8,0000. But the worst news of all is that the Building Inspector recently made an inspection of the Lodge and he has told us that the electrical wiring in the building no longer meets code and it will have to be replaced. And I am not even counting the increased taxes you all will individually soon be paying.  Now Brethren I am open for suggestions.”

“Well I hope you didn’t call us all together to raise our dues,” a voice bellowed from the sidelines.

“Yeah, because we’re going to vote that down, right quick,” came another anonymous voice from the crowd.


“Brethren I am going to ask you to rise and wait until I recognize you before speaking,” commanded the Master.

“The day I have to ask permission to speak in this Lodge is the day I find another Lodge”, roared Brother Clarke

“Well that’s your choice,” replied the Master.  “But for tonight you will rise and wait until I call on you.”

Worshipful Master I just done told you I ain’t going to do no such thing, “repeated Brother Clarke.  “Did you or did you not call us here in order to raise dues?”

“Brother Senior Deacon”

“Worshipful Master”

“You will pick up the Junior Deacon and the Stewards and proceed to escort Brother Clarke out of the Lodge room.”

Are you really going to throw me out of my Lodge, “ screamed Brother Clarke?

“It’s our Lodge,” replied the Master, “and nobody is above the law or in this case the rules.  We will see you another night, Brother Clarke.”

“You will never see me again.  Who wants to belong to a bankrupt Lodge anyway,” screamed the now red faced Brother Clarke

‘If he goes I go,” said a voice.  “That goes for me too.”  “And me” “And Me”….”Me,” “Me,” “Me,”

The Old Past Master rose and the Worshipful Master immediately recognized him.

“Looks like we can get that dues increase passed now, Worshipful” he said with a smile.

“I guessed I changed my mind,” “Yeah, I might as well stick around,” “Same for me,” “And me,” “And me,” …….”Me,” “Me,” “Me”

After Brother Clarke was removed and order restored, the Brothers stood and were called on one by one by the Master.  Suggestions and ideas abounded. One Brother suggested that the Lodge merge with Fidelity Lodge on the other side of town. But an argument ensued whether Fidelity should join us at our building or we should sell ours and join them at their building.  Many Brethren wondered if Fidelity would be amenable to any of this and so offered that we should sell the building and just rent our own space somewhere else. Still others asserted that nothing drastic really needed to be done.  Things would find a way of working themselves out like they always did.  A number of Brethren suggested that we find paying tenants for our building. Still others suggested a series of fundraisers. Yet another wanted to ask Grand Lodge for a loan. And the last thought for the day came from a Brother who thought maybe we could get some corporate sponsorship in the form of charitable write off relief.

After two hours of what seemed like exhaustive exchange, Past Master Crowley rose and was recognized.  “And what do you think we should do, Worshipful,” he asked?

The Master rose and slowly and deliberately replied, “I don’t think I have enough information yet nor does really anybody.  The way I see it we can elect one of four choices:

1) Do Nothing

2) Give up our Charter and return the Lodge to Grand Lodge

3) Sell the building and property and rent elsewhere

4) Increase our revenue substantially – make it work.

The problem has developed into such a magnitude so quickly that I will automatically rule out dues increases, fund risers and loans as acceptable solutions.  But what I will do is petition Grand Lodge for an outright gift.  The next Grand Session is a little over a month away. For now I will also rule out choices #1 and #2.  That leaves us with two choices and for those I will appoint two committee heads who will choose the rest of their committee and research and investigate their appointment and report back to the Lodge for further discussion. I will ask the Old Past Master to chair the choice #3 committee and Brother Findler, our Treasurer and a CPA, to head the choice #4 committee. Do both of you Brothers accept your appointment?  Seeing two heads nodding I so declare it done.”


“I will charge both committees to be ready to report in detail three months from now at our monthly business meeting and I will so note it in the Summons. I will also be ready to report to you what Grand Lodge will do for us. Now if there is no further business to come before this Lodge I will proceed to close.”.

More on the Old Past Master:

Further Adventures of the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team

So here I am sitting in the East in a two-year line of a Lodge with significant resources and a great budget.  I had just taken the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team to hometown Lexington.  What to do next?  Think big Fred, I thought, think big!  After all that was one of the decisions that led you to affiliate with Paul Revere Lodge in the first place, its ability to provide the means to facilitate those who wanted to do great things.

So the first time around I thought of my heritage and how that fit with the Colonial Degree Team going to Lexington. Now once again I turned to what I knew and where I had been before and how that fit in with the Colonial Degree team and with my family and its origins.

I had just gotten my first computer a year before being installed as Master of Paul Revere Lodge. And one of the first things I did with that new toy was to explore cyberspace for signs of the Craft.  The most active areas at that time seemed to be New York and Indiana. I joined the GFN and made some interesting friends such as Ian Donald and Ellis Mills.  I also latched onto an enterprise launched by Jeff Naylor out of Indiana, a Masonic forum and discussion Board, Masoniclight that was very active and interested in the betterment of the Craft. Such later notable Freemasons as Chris Hodapp, Nathan Brindle, Roger Van Gorden, Bill Hosler, Tom Fellows and Eric Schmitz who I was later to meet in person hung their hat there.  Plus others I am sure these old brain cells just can’t conjure up.  This group became very reform minded and later formed The Knights of The North, which I also associated with, and wrote Laudable Pursuit.

My wife’s hometown was not Lexington, MA but Bloomington, Indiana and I had been there a few times and also north of Indianapolis to visit the other side of her family.  So why not take the Paul Revere Colonial Degree team to Bloomington, Indiana? It wasn’t England but then I didn’t know anybody in England and maybe that would be carrying thinking big just a bit too far.  But heck Indiana was only a thousand miles away. When I looked up the Lodge in Bloomington I found out that it was Monroe Lodge #22.  And I was William Munroe on the Colonial Degree Team.  Those who know me well know that I don’t believe in coincidences.

I broached the subject in a sort of trial balloon to the members of the Degree Team and to a certain few well-placed members of the Lodge. Many said that nobody had ever tried something that ambitious and they doubted it would fly. But I am not one to be easily discouraged.  I took the founding head of the Colonial Degree Team, now its Historian, and a revered Past Master of the Lodge out to lunch.  I told him what I wanted to do and I said to him that if he did not there and then approve and be willing to openly say so, that I would drop the idea.  Quite frankly without his approval the idea was going nowhere.  When he gave his full blessing to the project and actually brought it up in open Lodge we got the go ahead on our end of the line.

I had meanwhile already gotten in touch with Monroe Lodge and struck up a conversation with its Master.  Soon I was pushing for him to have the Colonial Degree Team out to his Lodge.  The conversation lasted over many months as he liked the idea but working out all the incidentals of actually doing it was no small project. First and foremost were the financial arrangements.  We would pay for our airfare out there and back for approximately 18 Degree members.  They would have to pick up the bill for our meals and board.  That looked like no easy task.  Before we could even think of making this trip we had to have prior approval from The Grand Master of Indiana and our own Grand Master.  Some states had locked us out, refusing to allow Massachusetts’s ritual to be exemplified in their state. That really seemed so petty to me and was later to influence me into becoming an advocate of more cooperation among the various American jurisdictions and the crafting of some sort of American Masonic identity.

After eight months of negotiations the talks broke down and the trip seemed to be just a dream never to be actualized. The Master in Indiana was enthusiastic about having us out but he just couldn’t seem to work out the logistics of accomplishing it on his end.  Now it was time for him to step down and turn over the East to a new Master. It was also time for me to step down and do likewise at Paul Revere Lodge. As a famous Mason once said, “The best laid plans of mice and me, oft go awry.”

Many, many other wonderful things were going on in the Lodge during all this time and I stepped down knowing that it had been a wonderful two years in the East.  Still I was despondent and sulking over what could have been.

Months went by when all of a sudden the new Master of Monroe Lodge #22 E-Mailed me.  He had solved the problems on his end and wanted to know if we were still interested.  WERE WE INTERESTED!!!

We flew out of Boston on a Friday afternoon in October of 2001 just four weeks after 9/11, eighteen members of the Degree Team making the trip.  My biggest laugh was seeing our Marshall a Past Master and a retired Boston cop get patted down and practically stripped search before our eyes. They had him down almost to his birthday suit right there in the open in the terminal.

Upon arrival in Indianapolis Past Grand Master MW Richard Hickham and the Master of Monroe Lodge #22 , Wor. Gary Denson met us with  a mini bus with a bunch of bedding in the back.  We drove about 75 miles south and stopped at a Shrine Club just outside of Bloomington where we were treated to a great steak dinner and some beers and  MW Hickham announced our arrival to all gathered.  Afterward we were driven to the place where we were going to stay.  They had us billeted at the state DeMolay chateau about 20 miles east of Bloomington in a rural area.  The bedding in the back of the bus was for us to make up own bunks (we brought our own towels and toiletries). The Chateau was a beautiful two story natural wood building, somewhat like a giant log cabin.  The top floor had a large wrap around deck.  The bottom floor consisted of eight bedrooms each with two bunk beds (upper and lower) and a bathroom.   Upstairs was a bathroom and huge living/dining area with a small kitchenette. In the kitchenette refrigerator was two cases of beer.

Saturday morning  MW Hickham and Wor. Denson were back with the bus and we went down to the Lodge where they had breakfast prepared for us, eggs and bacon and sausage and grits and fruit and biscuits and honey. Then we took a tour of Bloomington and Indiana University, I being able to stop at my wife’s grandmother’s old house.  We had lunch out and then it was back to the Chateau to shower and change clothes for the Degree. We arrived back at the Lodge around 5:00 PM for a tour, set up and pre- dinner fellowship.  The Lodge prepared a wonderful meal after which we retired to the Lodge room for the ceremony we had come 1000 miles to perform.

We marched into Lodge to the beat of our drummer, all in costume with tri- cornered hats.  The degree went flawlessly and we raised three Indiana Masons to the sublime degree of a Master Mason.  William Munroe gave the “Canadian Charge” and the Historian his usual patriotic message.  Afterward we presented the Lodge with an engraved Paul Revere bowl and they gave us all presents. Many visitors were there including one Massachusetts Mason from the Plymouth district who was visiting IU. After many introductions and good cheer all around we retired to downtown Bloomington for some real cheer.

We all gathered at an Irish pub for celebration and a continuation of Masonic fellowship.  As it was a warm night we all sat out on the outdoor sidewalk café of the pub.  There is nothing like sitting on the sidewalk of a big college town on a warm night.  The sights were something that sent the blood of old men bubbling.  I have a picture of Wor. Denson, Master of Munroe Lodge #22 and me at the pub included here and also Past Master Eric Schmitz with MW Richard Hickham – the last two pictures at the bottom.

Sometime after midnight, I can’t quite remember when, we all piled into the Chateau.  Sunday morning the bus was there to take us to the Lodge for another great breakfast.  We all told many Masonic stories over breakfast including how much we enjoyed their company and all they had done for us. We said our goodbyes and the bus brought us back to the Indianapolis airport for a Sunday afternoon flight home. Monday morning we were all back to work with memories of a time we shall never forget.

And that’s what can happen when you think big!  1000 miles and back – all in one weekend!

Everything Comes Back To Lexington

I have always thought that my interest in Freemasonry came from my interest in DeMolay that was triggered by my love of history.  And my love of history was triggered by the rich Revolutionary War history of the town in which I was born and grew up in, Lexington, Massachusetts. It was here that Paul Revere galloped into town with the message “The British are coming, the British are coming.” And it was here that the first battle of our war for independence was fought on April 19, 1775.

Battle Reenactment

April 19th is a holiday in Middlesex County, Massachusetts.  It’s Patriots Day and every year on that date Lexington does a recreation of Paul Revere’s ride and the battle on the Lexington Green in the morning followed by a huge two-hour parade in the afternoon.

When I was five years old my father died. My mother took on three jobs to support my two sisters and me.  It was the 50s and you didn’t take welfare then even though it was available.  By day she was secretary for the First Parish Church, our church, which sat on the Southwest corner of the Green.  By night she was Secretary and Recorder for the town Planning Board Sessions. And on the weekends she was tourist guide at the Buckman Tavern.  The Buckman Tavern was there on the Northeast corner of the Green in 1775.  Here The Minutemen gathered in response to the call because British soldiers were marching into the countryside. I can remember as a boy of about 8 sitting on the steps to the Buckman Tavern and listening through the screen door to my mother recounting the tale of Paul Revere’s ride and the ensuing battle to groups of tourists.

Buckman Tavern

“Listen my children and you shall hear,

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere”

Much later at my public installation as Master of Paul Revere Lodge AF & AM, having been so installed by The Colonial Degree Team in full regalia, I would introduce my mother and remind her and all assembled of her days at the Buckman Tavern. But that is getting ahead of this story.

On the Northwest corner of the Lexington Green sat the Masonic Temple and in that Temple met Battle Green Chapter, Order of DeMolay. My best friend Ron invited me to become a DeMolay in the late 50s.  He was later to tell me that he sat in homeroom behind a very nice girl he thought I should ask out. This year that girl and I celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary.

DeMolay Diploma

Battle Green DeMolay was a very active Chapter. Most meetings one could count forty or more members present.  We had a basketball team and a bowling team.  I was a bowler.  We sold ice cream at the Patriots Day parade but our main fund raiser was the production and sale of a town wide community events calendar, listing all the important dates for all the groups in town – social, religious, governmental, fraternal, educational and specialty organizations like The Women’s club and garden clubs. Armed with a hefty bank account we did much, such as special dinners, BBQs and trips.  The highlight of our social season was the annual DeMolay/Rainbow Sweetheart’s dance.  It was to that dance that I escorted my future wife on our second date.

When I was senior Councilor in the West we once again entered the state ritual competition at the State Conclave.  Previously we had been able to garner some honorable mentions and a third place finish.  Some years we didn’t enter at all.  This particular year was the largest participation ever recorded and after a semi final and a final competition we came home with first place.  That gave Battle Green Chapter a tremendous amount of statewide prestige especially among the Rainbow girls who flocked from all over to our many social events.

The work that went into that state wide ritual competition, the camaraderie that it produced and the pride and enthusiasm that it generated among us were things I never forgot. It influenced me years later when I became Worshipful Master at Plymouth Lodge and then Paul Revere Lodge, for the themes of my tenures in the East was always “Let’s Celebrate Our Masonry.” I was always thinking of ways to put on some big bash by bringing together large numbers of Masons in some special exemplification of our heritage and our philosophy.  But that was much later.

The next term I became Master Councilor and it became my turn to lead the Chapter from the East. Once again that experience was to have a profound effect on my future choices in Freemasonry.

Soon I was off to school earning a BA in government & history and blazing new trails, leaving my fraternal childhood as nothing more than a memory.  What followed was marriage, a child, and many years of overwork and bad choices.  When I finally got my head screwed back on right, the first thing I did was petition a Masonic Lodge.

I was raised in historic Plymouth Lodge also steeped in American History where I cut my teeth working my way up the chairs. I was installed as Master in a public installation by 5 Past Master Councilors of Battle Green DeMolay who were also all Past Masters of Simon W. Robinson Lodge of Lexington, MA. Needless to say they were old friends also.

When I became Senior Warden I affiliated with Paul Revere Lodge in Brockton where I actually lived. Almost immediately I joined the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team which performed the second and third sections of the Third Degree in colonial costume while adding a patriotic message at the conclusion. And then upon assuming the East in Plymouth I also took the chair of Senior Deacon at Paul Revere.  I can remember doing First Degree ritual as Master in Plymouth on a Monday night and then on the very next night, Tuesday, doing the middle chamber lecture at Paul Revere on the second degree.  That spring in the East at Plymouth Lodge I invited the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team to perform.  I also invited everybody else in the world I could think of including a large contingent from Rhode Island.  We had 5 District Deputies present that night and such a packed house I had to hire a policeman to direct traffic out front.  We did celebrate our Masonry that night including a well-attended dinner.

The Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team was formed in 1975/76 to celebrate our country’s bicentennial.  It was such a huge success that the team continued to perform anywhere a Lodge would invite them and is still working to this day. We marched into Lodge to the beat of our drummer in the dress of the 1700s with tri-cornered hats and conducted ourselves in the Lodge room like a precision military drill team.  After raising the candidates, giving the Third Degree lecture of the Emblems and a Charge our Historian would take the floor.  He first would give a message about our flag.  The team used the Betsey Ross American flag.  Then he would describe the hardships that colonial Masons endured.  After that he would have each member of the team rise and identify who they were as each one of us took the name of a famous Revolutionary War Mason.

When I joined the team it had already been functioning for 17 years and all the “good” or most recognizable names had already been taken, like George Washington, Ben Franklin, Israel Putnam, Paul Revere, John Hancock, Benedict Arnold etc.  I ask the director if I could choose my own team name and he gave his assent.  I thought back to my days in Lexington to the battle of April 19, 1775.  I wondered if any of the 70 odd Minute Men who stood against the British that day were Masons.  There was no Masonic Lodge in Lexington at that time.  So I wrote to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, the Grand Lodge library and asked them that question. Back came a letter that listed 26 Masons who fought the British in that battle on April 19, 1775. From those 26 names I chose one whom I would represent.

William Munroe

I chose William Munroe who was stationed on an all night watch on the Lexington Green the night of April 18, 1775.  He was a sergeant in the Lexington Minute Men and proprietor of the only other tavern in town, the Munroe Tavern. It was William Munroe who received Paul Revere into the town of Lexington on the wee hours of the morning of April 19, 1775 with his message, “The British are coming.” It was William Munroe who helped Paul Revere rouse Hancock and Adams who were sleeping overnight in Lexington and tell them they best get out of town. And it was William Munroe who sent out the alarm to the rest of the Lexington Minutemen and to units from all the surrounding towns. Most units outside Lexington did not arrive until the British had already marched onto Concord and “fired the shot heard around the world.” But they were ready for them on the return trip where the British took heavy losses.

Later William Munroe would form Lexington’s first Masonic Lodge and I went into the Grand Lodge Library and read the minutes of 1791 when one William Munroe was escorted to the East with his petition for a Charter.  And he was received by the Grand Master who was pleased to shake his hand — Most Worshipful Paul Revere.  Hiram Lodge met for 40 years in especially constructed back rooms of Munroe Tavern until it moved to the neighboring town of Arlington.

Munroe Tavern

Munroe Tavern still stands today a stones throw away from The Scottish Rite National Heritage Museum where you can visit a lighted display and a historical recounting of the Battle of April 19, 1775 called “Lexington Alarmed.”

I performed the Charge for The Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team and utilized many different charges but the one I liked the best and used the most we called “The Canadian Charge.”  It went by many other names, so much so that my correspondence with Ian Donald about it caused him to research the charge and write a paper on it called “A Charge By Any Other Name Is Still A Charge” and which can be read on

I was installed as Master of Paul Revere Lodge in a public installation by the members of the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team in full costume. The soloist sang “God Bless The USA” and I recited 4 stanzas of Longfellow’s poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”  As I have said I introduced my family and honored my mother by telling the story of her third job at The Buckman Tavern. And the Historian did also take the floor and give his usual talk followed by team members introducing the Colonial Mason they represented.

One day I got a call from the oldest member of my church. She was in her 90s and was selling her home to go into assisted living.  The house had been in her family for generations but neither she nor her sister who was now in a nursing home had ever married.  So the old homestead was on the market and a group of church members had just helped her pack up what she could take with her and sell or discard what she couldn’t. Down in her basement was found a Masonic diploma dating from 1840 and she did not recognize the name of the person and she asked if I would like it.

Colonial Degree Team before the altar is at Simon W. Robinson Lodge in Lexington, Massachusetts

When I picked it up I noticed it was issued from a Lodge in Connecticut so I felt it should be returned to them.  Later that week I phoned the Grand Lodge of Connecticut and got the contact information for the Secretary of that Lodge. And before you know it I had a bus full of Lodge members and the District Deputy rolling down the highway to make a visit to Putnam Lodge in CT and officially return this man’s Masonic diploma to the Lodge. We had a dinner and a nice presentation and before we all left I informed Putnam Lodge about our Colonial Degree Team. Six months later we were back with the whole team performing before the Junior Past Grand Master, three District Deputies and a packed house.

Right from the start as Master of Paul Revere Lodge I set out to take the Colonial Degree Team to Lexington. So I called the Secretary of Simon W. Robinson Lodge who was the Master Councilor when I was Senior Councilor and we won the state DeMolay ritual competition.  He got with the Master and after much discussion and preparation we scheduled a gala event for the nearest Communication to

Presenting Paul Revere bowl to the Master of Simon W. Robinson Lodge Lexington, MA

April 19th.  The Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team was to perform followed by a tri Table Lodge, the Frank W. Thompson Lodge , the District Deputy’s Lodge, of neighboring Bedford, MA being invited in on the festivities. No one I knew had ever heard of a tri Table Lodge but all three Lodges shared in the ritual of that occasion. We marched into the Lodge to the beat of our drummer before a packed house. We performed the degree after which William Munroe gave “The Canadian Charge” and the Historian delivered his patriotic message. Then one by one we introduced ourselves with the name of the Revolutionary War Mason that we each represented. I was very proud to announce that I represented Lexington’s William Munroe. Afterward we presented the Master of Simon W. Robinson Lodge an engraved Paul Revere Bowl commemorating the occasion. We started on a Saturday afternoon at 4:00 PM with the Colonial Degree Team and we finished the Table Lodge at 11:00 PM. We had the usual 7 course meal with 7 toasts and much merriment and brotherly love and affection. Over 100 Masons gathered that day for what was truly a memorial Celebration of the Craft.

Special Lodge Notice Cover

I had published a special Lodge notice for that month with a colored front to back page of the American Patriot Rebels picking off the British as they marched back to Boston from Concord.  In it were extra stories of Paul Revere and April 19th.

And so I can truly say that for me everything comes back to Lexington.