time, weeping, virgin, broken pillar

A Young Mason’s Journey To Find, The Making Of A Good Man Better

Today’s guest writer, Canadian Brother Mark Kapitan, comes to us by way of Canadian Brother Wayne Anderson’s weekly Masonic newsletter. Anderson publishes a new or old-from-the-Masters article each week and forwards it to everybody on his list. Topics cover a wide variety of issues and interests but they are always Masonic. If you would like to get on Brother Anderson’s list simply E-Mail him at wda_572@sympatico.ca . Word to the wise, the newsletter is dark for the summer, except for this recent very special edition.

The big question is could you, if asked, explain how Freemasonry makes good men better? Or does it? That’s what Kapitan, a relatively new Freemason, wants to find out. And his quest has culminated in a fascinating paper he presented just this week.

A Young Mason’s journey to find, the making of a good man, better.

by Brother Mark Kapitan, F.C.F. Ivy Lodge No. 115 A.F. & A.M. G.R.C.

This talk was delivered at Rideau Lodge No. 460, Seeleys Bay, July 5, 2012

freemasonryThe journey starts for many of us, with the initial contact of someone who will probably be our sponsor. We sit down with a person, whom we have never met before, or may not know very well, and ask questions in order to decide whether a Masonic journey is for us. This is probably one of the most important decisions many of us have to make at this time, do I join, or not, remembering that our choice will be based on an enormous amount, of limited information. I recall sitting with my sponsor for three hours, who, during this time, did a very good job of answering all my questions, and quite frankly, telling me absolutely nothing. But, the one comment he did make that tweaked my interest, was that “Freemasonry takes a good man and makes him better”. Personally, I know as men, we have no problem re-assuring ourselves, that yes, “I” am a good man, however, as many of us can attest, it is not uncommon for our better halves to remind us, there is always room for improvement.  Upon hearing this oh so wise reminder in my head, it became one of my reasons, to fill out an application, and join Freemasonry.

After a successful Examination, a report is given and we are balloted on. A letter follows from the Lodge, and if positive, your date of Initiation is chosen. You now ask.. What will be next? Well, the journey continues with the big night, nerves are on high alert, and one questions oneself, “what am I doing here”? Everyone is so friendly, smiling at you, shaking your hand, one could assume the best, or the worst, is about to happen. It is at this time; at least it was for me, that the nerves got a kick in the stomach. One of those new friendly faces informs me that I am going to have to change out of this nice suit I have on, and into an interesting pair, of what is best described, as pyjamas, and even further, that I will be blind folded for a short period of time. As the meeting starts and you are not yet part of it… I am sure some of us have wondered if it would not be wise to change our minds, and leave. After all, I was sure I could get down the stairs and out the door, before the Tyler, who distracted with returning his knocks, could have gotten to his sword. Finally, some of the Brethren come out, one asks some questions, making references to an ancient penalty, which you are not to worry about of course, and this again sends the mind off wondering, what have I gotten myself into? Then that point of no return occurs, you pay the requested monies, and another Brother, with what appears to be a spear, is there to make sure you are properly prepared.

fellow craft, tracing board, second degree, esoteric masonry, second degree of freemasonryIt’s now time! You are walked around a room blindfolded, listening to every word, from all directions, trying to remember, how many did I see come in, are they behind me, in front of me, what’s happening, what will be next? Your head is bursting with so many questions. You repeat something, seal it, and then, the Blind fold is off. You are moved here and there; different Brethren are coming up to you and overwhelming you with parts of the ritual. Finally, at last, it’s done. The Master comes down to the level, congratulates you, which is followed by a round of applause from all those in attendance, and then asks the big question, “Do you have anything you would like to say?” Wow, what a question! Let’s see, I’ve come here dressed up in a suit, paid you 3-4 hundred dollars, was paraded around, dressed in pyjamas no less, initially blind folded, in front of 20+ men I have never met before, been over whelmed with some of these strangers speaking to me individually, have been asked to change back to my suit, only to come back in and be overwhelmed again, the whole time not understanding half of what is said to me, and YOU are wondering if I would have anything to say? Of course I do, what just happened? And, ultimately, how will this make me, a better man?

Many of us continue on our journey to be Passed and Raised to the degree of a Master Mason, proving each of our degrees in front of the members of our lodge, or depending on the evening, perhaps a few more than normal. I have often made this statement with regards to the Degrees: The First, is the one that just happens. I feel that this is the Degree that binds us as Brethren, for here, we all experience the same thing, with pretty much the same results, nervousness and confusion. The Second, is the one you do for yourself, we practice and learn, wanting to do it well; and finally, the Third, this is the one we will never forget.

After this point, when one has been raised, it might be difficult for the Mason to see, just how does Masonry, take me, a good man, and make me, better?  And it is here that I began my quest for an answer. From what I thought I could see, my memory was improving through practicing of the Ritual for my degrees, was I on my way to becoming a better man? I was quickly reminded by my lady who was still asking me “did I forget” … it was garbage day, or, that we were going to her mother’s tonight. Improved memory??? I guess she would tell you, I was still suffering from that well known man’s disease called, selective hearing Or listening.

After proving our third, some of us believe we are ready to assume the role of an Officer and most actually do, to the delight of the many recycled Past Masters, however, for many of us, it is difficult to get up and speak in front of others, myself included. I presumed the proving of degrees, would help prepare for the journey through the chairs, allowing us the opportunity to somewhat feel comfortable, speaking in front of others, at least in our own Lodge. Interests are peaked during this time, yet I feel often, are not tapped. For many of us, we want to be more involved, but being new, don’t know how to, are afraid to ask, are simply just assigned ritual, or, may have been deterred with that famous phrase, “Because that’s the way it’s always been”.  Looking at my own Masonic journey thus far, you can imagine that I have heard those words on more than just a few occasions. Another of my favourite phrases is, “wait until you have sat in the East”…..  I see! It would be preferred that we Rock the boat when we are all a little older, and a lot less stable on our feet. In all fairness though, these two statements are both very viable comments to many. The first shows that we, as a fraternity, have stayed true in the longevity of our institution, and the second would reference obviously, experience and education. Is this how a good man is made better, longevity, experience and education?

I was hoping this wasn’t the full answer, as some things are in fact being done differently and are not the way they were. To start with, many older Brethren have often told me that when they joined the Craft, one would have to wait possibly several years just to get in the Junior Steward’s chair. This would mean that many men would have been 10 plus years a Mason, before they became the Master of the Lodge. During these times, although some Lodges were doing plenty of Degrees, many still found the time to do some form of Masonic Education, and turn outs were good. The time spent waiting to get in the officer line up, combined with the journey itself of ten plus years, would provide one the experience and education needed to make the second statement true, “Wait till you have sat in the East”. One could also add that with reference of the charge “to make a daily advancement in Masonic Knowledge”, many of the older Brethren, in fact, did.

This charge, was it put forth to encourage oneself to go out, find it, to take the initiative, seek knowledge through education, and then, put it in place? We all know this is not always an easy task, as for many of us; we need to see what is missing, in order to desire it, or know it is in fact missing. Was this charge to encourage one to find what makes a good man, better?

In today’s time of hustle and bustle, we find in many Lodges there are few new members joining, or there is a lack of attendance, which is forcing many Past Masters to do the officer line up, in various rolls, several times. In order to resolve the pressure on the PM’s, we find many Masters are being made in a considerably shorter time, in many instances; it is 5 years or less. Leaving us with these questions: are these Brethren good with the ritual? Are they good men?  Are they good examples of Masons worthy to project a public image of the Craft? Of course they are!

However, do they have many years of Experience in the Craft? Are they Masonically Educated? Familiar with the Protocol and Etiquette expected through experience and practice? Would sitting in the East, be a sign of Experience and Education, as it once was, in only 5 short years? These last few questions prompt me to ask, did this become the “fast track” to making a good man, better? And, do they, as the older masons did, make that daily advancement in Masonic Knowledge?

Third Degree Masonic Tracing Board

Third Degree Masonic Tracing Board

The Answer to the last question I feel is best summed up, this way; when I look at this call to make a daily advancement in Masonic Knowledge, which as stated was done by dedicated older Brethren, in their time, I find in our era, we profess a desire to, but, find it easier to provide an excuse not to, which usually involves, “having no time”. These days, I look at this act of making a daily advancement and compare to something as simple as eating. Some of us use a knife and fork, yet others, like me, should use a shovel. Some chew and enjoy every bite and others couldn’t tell you how what they ate, tasted like 20 minutes later. Many eat healthy, and others, junk they shouldn’t. But the most honest reference I can use to compare this daily advancement, to eating, is in this hustle and bustle of the busy lives we lead presently, one must surely admit that it is not uncommon to skip a meal, even though, we know that it is not healthy, or good for us.  Unfortunately, it is easier, after a few times, to develop a bad habit rather than the “better” one.

This question, “how does Masonry make a good man better”, I have asked of many. It often made me feel like a youngster asking his parents, where do babies come from? I am sure in the time Freemasonry has been around, and from many different geographical areas; someone must have answered this question. But why was it so allusive to me. Am I looking in the wrong places, asking the wrong men? Truthfully, many I have asked could offer me no more than, it just does.  For them, being good men, who have been in the Craft for many years, well, maybe it just did. Others, suggested it could be found in education. What Education? The Mechanics, the History, the Ritual, Operations, Protocol and Etiquette, is it any one of these, all on them, or is there something more?

After being Raised, I enrolled in the Masonic Arts and Sciences Course or as it was originally called the Master Masons Course. This course offered me the education in many of the areas I have just mentioned. It is a correspondence course that has been available since 1984, yet many of the Brethren, young and old, have never heard of it, or know very little about it. At present there are only 259 grads since its inception. Did I find the answer to my question in education? Am I a better man? Nope! Just a Mason with a little more education than I started with, and the privilege of adding the initials of FCF, A Fellow of the College of Freemasonry, to my Masonic Signings. The completion of this course has offered me many different opportunities and experiences, for upon being a Grad I was invited to an Alumni group, where education, is ongoing. We have a forum for questions and debates by many experienced and well educated Brethren. Could I possibly ask my question here?

What I was finding, was some very interesting educated views from scholarly Masons, providing discussions and debates far superior to my knowledge, about various topics that I was interested in, the protocol and etiquette, Ritual, and History. Yet, as a member, and a very young Mason, I could not find the nerve to ask my quested question, but hoped I could find the secret by searching in the Q & A’s of the alumni forum history. No such luck!

My patience, or lack of nerve, was rewarded a few months later, and you can imagine my excitement when I received an email, with this exact question from the Alumni, The Making of good men better, What does this actually mean and how do we do this?   There it was. Honestly, I must have checked my email for replies every 10 minutes for that whole day.

Many answers where offered to this question, but one in particular caught my attention, causing me to read it several times. I will read to you the answer, which came from Brother Terry Spalding – Martin FCF;

“These same questions come up time and time again on the various Masonic email forums. It is a phrase, thrown out there with little thought, or meaning.

I consider Freemasonry, to be the biggest and oldest self help group in the world. The emphasis, is on “self”.

For the most part, our society wants everything given to them. We will move mountains, if it means we don’t have to do any work. Thus, making men better is generally perceived as something Freemasonry “does” to men.

It is, actually something Freemasonry makes available to men. Freemasonry holds it out, and then, the brother has to do some work in order for it to happen.

Another trite phrase is, “you get out of it, what you put into it.” But it’s true. If you just sit on the bench, nothing much happens. You don’t become better, you don’t become any smarter, and you don’t become anything, other than older.

Brethren frequently discuss the relevance of learning ritual. What’s the use of learning all that archaic language, and then saying it to someone?

Psychologists say that speaking in public is more fearful to the average person than dying. Rather than give a eulogy, we’d prefer to be in the box. By learning ritual, we expand our capabilities for memorization. Something many of us, haven’t done since public school, if ever. By delivering ritual, we overcome our fear, and learn to public speak. This capability boosts our self worth, and self confidence.

Consider each one of the officer chair duties. Each one of them teaches a skill of some sort; Keeping minutes, learning the lodge membership list, interacting with people we do not know, Meeting a new man, and, taking responsibility for showing him around, Setting goals, Organizing volunteers to accomplish a set goal. Each chair, has something of value.

But, we actually have to do it ourselves. Nobody can do it for us.”

This is probably the most practical response, that I have seen or heard to the question I have been asking. Myself, believing that this is at least part of a possible solution, that Freemasonry offers us what we need, right here, in our Ritual, Protocol and etiquette, history, mechanics and very simply, in our operation of the Lodge. Then I have to ask this question, “If we do these very things offered in Freemasonry, “poorly”, will we get the same results”?

It’s an interesting thought! Should we not take pride, in what, and when we do things? I believe the answer is, yes! So, how do we achieve this? Is it through Education? Again I would say, yes! Then one may ask, what education, who will teach it and who needs it?

Going back to my eating theme for the answers, What Education, any number of things we eat, can provide us with nutrition and enjoyment, or, very simply, satisfy a hunger.  Who will teach, well, some of us like to cook, and those that don’t, have probably been asked to take a turn cooking, at some point. Truthfully, our wives would tell us, it always tastes better when someone else is doing the cooking, and I believe some of the recycled Past Masters would feel the same way, with that reference. And, the who needs it, we all have the need to eat and most importantly, we all like to eat.

It may be bold of me, a Mason of just over 2 years, to make the comment that we all could benefit from some form of education, but I will offer up this situation for my defence. This past December my Daughter turned 16. My Lady suggested that I should be the one to teach her how to drive, after all, I should have more patience, because “I was a Mason”. My surprised look prompted her to offer up in her defence, “making a good man better”. I couldn’t argue with that statement and, after several successful lessons teaching from my 30 plus years of experience, it was still recommended that we enroll her in Drivers Education. Firstly, for the Insurance breaks, but,  in all honesty I must admit, that with Driving, I have been doing it for so long, some bad habits might have crept in, not to mention the changes in the laws over the years, that I  may have missed learning. After a few short classes I started hearing things like, “do you know that was a rolling stop?” Or  “You are speeding” at 5 km over the limit which most of us are guilty of. As a man, who is proud to be a Mason, I display Masonic emblems on all our vehicles, so truthfully, I do not mind being reminded by her, or, re-taught for lack of a better word, as it can only improve the way I drive and the way I project being a Mason in the public eye. When I wrote this paragraph, I couldn’t help but be reminded, that there are many circumstances where someone will view our behaviour, to evaluate what they will considered to be acceptable behaviour for themselves.

I have stated, and it is a fact, Speaking in public is a very tough area for me. It is much easier when the ones you are speaking to, work for you. Knowing I couldn’t afford to hire all of you, I thought I would ask some fellow Brother for some constructive criticism of my, talk prior to me coming here. Those that have read or heard this, all seem to get something different from it but have encouraged me to change very little. Brother David Ross FCF did however offer me a thought of his that I wanted to share.

His Comments…. “Back to the “good man better” topic. My personal opinion, is that I am a better man for being a Mason – funnily enough, my wife believes that too, and that is because I truly ‘believe’ what I am saying when I recite ritual, and I try to follow its lessons – especially the second half of the Installation General Charge. The problem we face is, that many of the brethren doing the ritual can recite the work word perfectly, but they do not necessarily understand the ‘true’ meaning – if the teacher does not understand the subject fully, then the pupil, (or candidate) has no chance. Again I look to education to make a difference. Learning ritual and understanding ritual are two completely different things.”

Is Masonry working for me at this point in my journey? After my Initiation, I was posed with this question from my spouse, well, what is it about? I am sure many of you might have been asked something similar. How do I answer?  In my infinite wisdom, I responded, it’s about morals; you know making a good man, better. A short time after me answering this question to her, I recall an incident, when driving on the HWY, and being cut off, I proceeded to voice, within our car of course, what I felt would be a good solution, to my dissatisfaction. My better half enjoyed offering her opinion to my comments, “well that isn’t very Masonic”. Truthfully, I would have to admit; in the beginning, after joining the Craft, I did hear that comment on a numerous occasions. As I tend to hear it a lot less now, I would like to believe that Freemasonry, is offering me the results through my activeness; as opposed to the alternative, she just got tired of saying it. But, honestly, I believe she simply found a new way to say it. Instead, she now offers “making a good man better”. I haven’t asked her yet, but her comment of making a good man better would imply that maybe I’m not the only one in our house that believes I am a good man.

In closing, from the view offered by our fellow brother Terry Spalding-Martin FCF, I must say, for me, my feelings are, he does have the answer to my question, and has simply, laid out the short version. Freemasonry offers what is required, and our own action is the key to success. In hind sight, every bit of our involvement has offered us the opportunity to work toward this; starting with our coming forward of our own free will and accord, asking questions of our sponsor, filling out an application, our roles in the Initiation, the degrees, our proving, visiting, all our participation, what we do while we are here, the desire to do it well but most importantly, learning and the acquisition of knowledge. I did however find two additional points not fully spelled out in his reply that seemed to be obvious. First, no time line was offered to achieve the goal, so, it must be an ongoing, continuous journey, and one should strive to stay involved, even if it is just in the form of making the effort to attend our regular Lodge meetings. Secondly, it seems much of it often involves us doing it together, as brothers, supporting one another, and working together for our common goal. If all of these things are true, and I believe they are, I must thank you Brethren, for assisting me, with my own continuing journey, by making a good man better.

Thank you


Initiated into Freemasonry May 4th 2010 at Ivy Lodge No. 115 A.F. & A.M. G.R.C. which is located in Niagara District A, and was Raised on December 7th 2010. Proved his Third Degree February 1st 2011 and immediately enrolled in the Masonic Arts and Sciences offered by the College of Freemasonry that day. Became a graduated of this course 9 weeks later on April 2nd 2011. Joined the Royal Arch Masons on April 8th 2011 and completed the RAM Degree on June 10th 2011. Was a part of the District Degree Team’s Annual Degree on July 9th 2011 and will be again this year on July 14th .

In July 2011, enrolled in the District Deputy Grand Master Course and became a graduate 3 weeks later. Enrolled in the original, and at the time new, Worshipful Masters Course in September of 2011, graduating from this course a week later. September 2011, became a mentor of the College of Freemasonry. December 3rd 2011, spoke at the St. Thomas District’s Lodge of Instruction about the College of Freemasonry and the Courses offered.

January 3rd 2012, was invested as the Senior Deacon of Ivy Lodge No. 115 A.F. & A.M. G.R.C. and was enrolled as Senior Sojourner in Chapter January 13th 2012. Has attended a couple of business meetings for the Grand Lodge, Committee of Masonic Education and assisted in the restructure of the new modular system.

The Hour Glass

The Hour Glass

African American Freemasonry In The State Of New York 1812-2012
By Ezekiel M.Bey

A Review by:  Wor.  Bro. Frederic L. Milliken

Talented Prince Hall Masonic authors and writers are not as plentiful as grapes on the vine. So when one comes along we need to take notice and pay close attention to his works. Such a man is Ezekiel M. Bey whose latest book is “The Hour Glass, African American Freemasonry In The State Of New York 1812-2012.” The Hour Glass records the sands of time in the life of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York, the great men therein who shaped the world to come and the part Bey has played and continues to play in the development of Prince Hall Freemasonry in New York and the nation.

Ezekiel Bey is a writer, a Historian and a poet all rolled into one. He combines that unusual dual talent of being a great researcher and historian and a great writer at the same time. Bey is no esoteric closet intellectual, however. He is a Past Master and has served on the Grand Lodge Committee on Works & Lecture, the Committee on Masonic Education where he spent some time as Secretary and the office of Grand Historian from 2006-20011. He is a Fellow of the Phylaxis Society and has spent 10 years on its Commission on Bogus Masonry much of that time as its Deputy Director. At the same time he has served as editor in chief of his Grand Lodge’s publication, The Sentinel until 2008.

One of Bey’s pride and joys is the nationwide E-Group Blue Lite which he founded. A Prince Hall discussion and educational undertaking it has blossomed into one of the most active gatherings of Masons on the Internet. Recently he has added the Prince Hall Research & Information site Blue- Lite.com.

Ezekiel M. Bey

Ezekiel Bey has paid his dues. Now all that blood, sweat and tears – that hard work and dedication and honing of skills – has culminated in a fascinating work of Masonic history, The Hour Glass.

The Hour Glass begins where every other Prince Hall Masonic book doesn’t, with the Haitian Revolution, the revolt of African American slaves from 1791-1804. The connection here is by way of Freemason Jean Pierre Boyer who was to become the second President of Haiti. Sometime during this conflict when the US and France were fighting the Franco-American War he, and all the others on his French vessel, was captured by the American war ship Trumball and brought back to Connecticut as a prisoner of war. Discovering him to be a Mason they gave him a modem of freedom and then sent him to Pennsylvania where he was ultimately set free. Boyer who attended some Lodges while he was in Pennsylvania seems to have had a profound effect on all he came in contact with as New York’s first African American Lodge, African Lodge #459 New York chartered by African Lodge #459 Boston in 1812 soon changed its name to Boyer Lodge #1. After assuming the Presidency of Haiti Boyer welcomed a migration of freed Black Americans to his country.

Bey then takes us through the Underground Railroad and the part that early New York African American Freemasons played in that historical time after which there is a detailed account of the false information that the first African American Grand Lodge in New York was Boyer Grand Lodge supposedly formed in 1845. Upon due research Bey confirms that the first African American Grand Lodge in New York was The United Grand Lodge of the State of New York formed in 1848 which later changed its name to The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the State of New York.

Next comes the painful experience of the National Grand Lodge or Compact as it was called. It was extremely stressful for New York as the United Grand Lodge of the State of New York never joined the Compact and its failure to do so resulted in the Compact attempting to expel the United Grand Lodge. Within Prince Hall Freemasonry the whole National Grand Lodge episode is a sore that will not heal. Remnants of the National Compact remain today but they are clandestine as many would say they always have been. While Mainstream Masonry also flirted with a National Grand Lodge at the same time it never pulled the trigger. Bey has contended that the whole National venture was illegal and he takes the reader through the steps of how this all came about.  The documentation he provides on the history of New York African American Freemasonry at this time and New York’s involvement with the Compact is outstanding. Any historian who would like to have a better understanding of this issue should refer to The Hour Glass.

What follows is a wealth of information on clandestine African American Freemasonry in New York. Bey takes us through the Committee on Clandestine Masonry and The Legal Committee reports at Grand Lodge Sessions 1954-1969. We learn who the players are, the measures taken by the MWPHGLNY to combat bogus Freemasonry and even about a court case filed against two bogus New York Masonic Grand Lodges.

From the 1962 report of the Legal Committee to the Grand Lodge:

Litigation was commenced against two of these spurious organizations in New York State about three years ago. In November of 1961, there was a trial involving your Grand Lodge and one of these spurious organizations. In January of this year, injunctive relief was secured against this organization known as the Supreme Council of the United States of the Sovereign Grand Inspectors General of the 33rd and Last Degree A.A. Scottish Rite. This was the first case of its kind in the State of New York, in which injunctive relief was granted to a Masonic organization, giving it the right to put the spurious organization out of business. Moreover, the decision specifically stated that Prince Hall Masonry was legitimate and that it had a prior or better right to practice Masonry as against the organization which was enjoined. Your Legal Committee reports that this organization is now out of business.

Bey has continued in the footsteps of Harry A Williamson and Joseph Walkes in association with the Phylaxis Society in educating the Craft and those seeking membership about the evils of Bogus Freemasonry. This remains a continuing battle against ignorance. The Hour Glass exposes each and every one of these clandestine organizations, names names, dates and places, for all to see.

No story would be complete without heroes. Bey, in addition to his mentor Joseph Walkes, chronicles the lives and contributions to Prince Hall Freemasonry of RW Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, Harry A Williamson and S. David Bailey.

Schomburg, a native of Puerto Rico, was a promoter of Spanish speaking Lodges within Prince Hall New York. He was a researcher, historian, writer and accumulator of many Masonic books and manuscripts. In 1911 with John A. Bruce he formed the Negro Society for Research. Schomburg was elected Grand Secretary in 1918 and served in that position through 1926.

Bey tells us:

Schomburg saved every bit of information that he could get his hands on and built an archive in which he donated to public libraries. He is the reason that today Freemasonry and the black struggle in America have a huge section in the New York City Public Library in Harlem. This spirit of saving information for our future influenced his good friend and Brother, R.W. Harry A. Williamson, Grand Historian of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York. It was Arthur Schomburg who encouraged Williamson to place his collection of over 800 books, manuscripts, photographs, periodicals, pamphlets, and scrapbooks in the N.Y.C. Public Library’s Division of Negro Literature, History and Prints.

By the year 1925, Schomburg had acquired over 5,000 books, pamphlets, manuscripts, etchings and many other items. When the Division of Negro Literature opened in the New York City Public Library on 135th Street in Harlem, Schomburg sold his collection for $10,000 to the Carnegie Corporation to be placed in the new library. Schomburg later became curator for the library in 1932 in the Division of Negro Literature, History and Prints. In memory of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, the New York City Public Library in Harlem was renamed in 1973, “The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture”.

Another giant of Prince Hall New York that Bey writes about was Harry A Williamson. Grand Historian from 1911 through 1924 Williamson held many Grand Lodge offices including Senior Grand Warden and Deputy Grand Master and chaired many Grand Lodge Committees. He was a prolific writer and was an early crusader against Bogus Freemasonry in the state of New York.

The third legend from Prince Hall New York was S. David Bailey an accomplished jazz percussionist. Bey tells us that he had:

collaborations with most of the Ellington Alumni, such as Mercer Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Ben Webster, “Shorty” Baker, and Al Sears. David Bailey also played with Billy Taylor, Clark Terry, Bob Brookmeyer, Miles Davis, Chris Conner, Billie Holiday, Marian McPartland, Lucky Thompson, Lena Horn, Harry Bellefonte and the Gerry Mulligan Band(s) for 13 years until 1968 when he left to join the newly formed “Jazztet” featuring Art Farmer, Benny Golson,

But Bailey had another love – flying. Again we learn from Bey:

From 1968 to 1973, David worked with famed criminal attorney F. Lee Bailey as Vice President of Marshfield Aviation in Marshfield Airport, Massachusetts, 20 miles south of Boston. As Chief Pilot and flight instructor, and the attorney’s personal pilot, David flew the business Learjet in and out of Logan International Airport in Boston. Dave was also a Designated Pilot Examiner for the FAA in Boston as he was in New York. David enjoyed a good professional relationship and warm friendship with F. Lee Bailey.

But in a strange twist of career paths Bailey returned to his first love when he became Executive Director of Jazzmobile.

In Prince Hall Freemasonry Bailey became a District Deputy and his efforts in Masonic Instruction and Masonic Education became renowned. He headed up the first Grand Lodge Committee on Education and now 86 years old he can look back upon an illustrious Masonic career of 60 years.

It is difficult to know where you are going unless you know where you have been. The Hour Glass will prove to be a most valuable work for Prince Hall New York Masons to remember where they have been and to honor and treasure the memories of those who have gone before them.

It is vitally imperative that within the Craft records and archives are kept to show a clear path of what Freemasonry has stood for and what it has withstood throughout its history. Ezekiel Bey has been meticulous and detailed in his research for this book. The Hour Glass is both interesting and informative.

Not shy in expressing himself, Bey writes with a passion that jumps out at you from the pages of his book. His love for the Craft comes through loud and clear.

Moreover, Bey blazes a trail that other Prince Hall Grand Lodges should take. A chronicling of the history of any Grand Lodge casts in stone what defines that Masonic community and it is by such a work as this that a Grand Lodge can tackle the future with a mission statement in hand.

This is a monumental work that will be on every library shelf and in many a Mason’s bookcase. It should be in yours also.

Symposium on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism – CFP

Masonic history, history of freemasonry, heritage Museum, Scottish RiteCALL FOR PAPERS – Symposium on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism, deadline December 15, 2011.

National Heritage Museum, Lexington, Massachusetts
Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The National Heritage Museum announces a call for papers for its biannual symposium, “Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism,” to be held on Saturday, April 7, 2012, at the Museum in Lexington, Massachusetts.

The National Heritage Museum is an American history museum founded and supported by Scottish Rite Freemasons in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States. As the repository of one of the largest collections of American Masonic and fraternal objects, books and manuscripts in the United States, the Museum aims to foster new research on American fraternalism and to encourage the use of its scholarly resources.

The symposium seeks to present the newest research on American fraternal groups from the past through the present day. By 1900, over 250 American fraternal groups existed, numbering six million members. The study of their activities and influence in the United States, past and present, offers the potential for new interpretations of American society and culture. Diverse perspectives on this topic are sought; proposals are invited from a broad range of research areas, including history, material and visual culture, anthropology, sociology, literary studies and criticism, gender studies, political science, African-American studies, art history, economics, or any combination of disciplines. Perspectives on and interpretations of all time periods are welcome.

Possible topics include:

  • Comparative studies of American fraternalism and European or other international forms of fraternalism
  • Prince Hall Freemasonry and other African-American fraternal groups
  • Ethnically- and religiously-based fraternal groups
  • Fraternal groups for women or teens
  • Role of fraternal groups in social movements
  • The material culture of Freemasonry and fraternalism
  • Anti-Masonry and anti-fraternal movements, issues and groups
  • Fraternal symbolism and ritual
  • The expression of Freemasonry and fraternalism through art, music, and literature
  • Approaches to Freemasonry – from disciplinary, interdisciplinary, or transnational perspectives; the historiography and methodology of the study of American fraternalism

Proposals should be for 30 minute research papers; the day’s schedule will allow for audience questions and feedback.

Proposal Format: Submit an abstract of 400 words or less with a resume or c.v. that is no more than two pages. Be sure to include full contact information (name, address, email, phone, affiliation).

Send proposals to: Aimee E. Newell, Ph.D., Director of Collections, National Heritage Museum, by email at anewell@monh.org or by mail to 33 Marrett Road, Lexington, MA 02421.

Deadline for proposals to be received is December 15, 2011. For more information about the National Heritage Museum, see www.nationalheritagemuseum.org. For questions, contact Aimee E. Newell as above, or call 781-457-4144.

Coolest set of working tools ever

Caught this off of BoingBoing yesterday.

This is simply the coolest set of “Working Tools” ever.

The device comes from designer Jac Zagoory, who says on his website that he’s been “churning out Desk Art and Writing instruments since 1995.”

Something tells me that at some point in that career he passed through the West gate.

The Hour Glass, African American Freemasonry In The State Of New York

I’ve Walked With Friends

The Hour Glass, African American Freemasonry In The State Of New York

Ezekiel M. Bey

I’ve Walked With Friends
A Masonic poem
by Ezekiel M. Bey, FPS

What’s a companion,  What is a Friend
What’s the beginning, what is the end
What is the answer, to every question
What is the moral to every lesson

How can we fall, not knowing all
Why do we think, we know it all
Foolish the man who thought was tall
Foolish the person, who missed his call

A sight that’s blurry, a mental fog
Near sighted vision, can’t see the stars
Spiritual Kingdom greatly prepared
Where is the road, to lead me there

Is there a thought, I can create
A mental ship, to navigate
Is there a compass that I once knew
That I once measured, all latitudes

I can’t remember, I can’t recall
Did I forget, we all once crawled
What is the message to life itself?
To build internal, spiritual wealth

When will we see, what is above
The true experience, eternal love
So what’s the beauty that lives inside
I walked the distance with friends beside

A Deadly Deception?

The following comes from a very bright young woman who is very involved with the Masonic Youth Orders that I had the pleasure to meet on Twitter. You can read her full bio below the article.  I wanted to say that she offers a fresh and interesting perspective on the fraternity from a unique perspective of both being within and without the regular goings on of the Blue Lodge.  After reading her paper, I thought it offered a great deal of value to the community on several levels and she graciously allowed FmI to republish her work.

I think you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I did. – MT

A Deadly Deception?
by Anne M. Stegen

Freemasons on the history Channel

The History Channel gets a lot of things wrong.

That is, they get facts wrong concerning certain details of say, Freemasonry or Masonic symbols. Considering that Freemasonry is the History Channel’s biggest obsession, just behind World War II, this is a rather serious offense. They take an obviously negative attitude towards Masons, connecting them to conspiracies left and right. One special about the alleged 2012 shift even mentioned that Freemasonry is inherently a conspirator in the matter. The program alluded to the “secrets” that Masons have, but gave no evidence to definitely connect the two. That form of ignorance is frustrating. The paranoia that has arisen in the general public is unfounded. There is no plot to create a “new world order.” Masons are not that coordinated. Instead, they focus on making their members better people, and helping their communities. Freemasonry is a benevolent society and is unjustly connected to conspiracy theories and plots for a new world order.

I am not a Mason. I am a woman, but I have extensive observations of the “Craft” of Freemasonry from my father and grandfather’s extensive involvement in the fraternity. My father started in the Blue Lodge, the basic Freemasonry. He was a member of Camelback Daylight Lodge No.75 in Mesa, Arizona. Yearly installations of officers are held and are often open to the public. Camelback Daylight Lodge’s membership consisted of elderly gentlemen, so the Regular Installation of Officers were usually an event with ill-fitting and wrinkled tuxedos, walkers, bolo ties, oxygen tanks, and hearing aides buzzing away, but also warm handshakes, and big hugs for me. It was always astounding to think that these men were accused of plotting world domination.

The fear comes from the unknown. Freemasonry still has some traditions that have been lost to the ages in common society. While ignoring the symbolism, people get hung up on the details—“Why are they wearing aprons?”—and jump to the conclusion that these gentlemen are obviously conspirators. Freemasonry began as an operative masonry guild—thus the aprons—that transformed into a gentlemen’s club that fostered the ideas of tolerance and truth during the Enlightenment. “Speculative” Freemasonry (as opposed to operative masonry) and the Illuminati were formed during the same era, so they are often connected. The Illuminati was formed on the same basis, tolerance and truth, and was not able to continue due to persecution by the Bavarian government. The Illuminati is no longer in existence, despite what Dan Brown says, and it is definitely not connected to Freemasonry. The fear in America that comes from the term “Freemasonry” is based on Americans’ general paranoia of anything they don’t yet understand. My challenge to you, then, is to join the fraternity and judge for yourself.

It is unlikely that such a plot for world domination or a new world order could be conceived in Freemasonry, even in the higher levels of the organization. The Blue Lodge is not governed by an international, or even national leader. In the United States, every state is autonomous. The Grand Lodge of the state regulates and directs the local lodges in their jurisdiction. The many different Grand Lodges are kept in check by a process of recognizing each other. If the Grand Lodge of one area decrees something that is against Masonic teachings, the Grand Lodges of other areas will declare it a “clandestine” Lodge, and members are forbidden from attending lodge meetings there. This system makes it nearly impossible to create a viable conspiracy of the magnitude of a new world order. There are other branches of Freemasonry, such as the York Rite and the Scottish Rite, but to join these appendent groups, one must first be a member of the Blue Lodge. There is no conspiracy within these branches because the Grand Master, the leader of the Grand Lodge, ultimately controls those branches as well. The fabled 33rd Degree Masons are often charged with making malicious plots in the dark smoky room. First of all, smoking is not allowed in lodge rooms. Secondly, these men are just Scottish Rite Masons, still subordinate to the Grand Master. Thirdly, many of these men are also Shriners, the same elderly gentlemen who wear the funny red hats, dress as clowns and do tricks in miniature cars in parades. The finger pointing must stop.

Many people and groups today attack Freemasonry without looking into the truth. Thousands of web sites claim things like “Freemasonry is a Non-Christian Occult Religion,” “Christians Beware – of Freemasonry,” (Keohane) and “Freemasonry proven to worship Satan, as its symbols venerate the sex act.” Bad grammar, poorly constructed HTML layouts, and “telling” photographs of “Masonic” symbols and regalia accompany these sites. The experts referenced have Masonic titles, like 33rd Degree, slapped at the end of their name. Anti- Masonic literature has the same fallacies. The Indiana Freemason web site analyzes one such book, The Deadly Deception: Freemasonry Exposed by One of Its Top Leaders by James Shaw, and finds four outright lies on the front cover alone. The various arguments against Freemasonry are baseless and uninformed.

Yes, Masons keep secrets. When you were little, did you ever have a club? Did that club have passwords that you kept secret from “outsiders”? Did it make you feel special to be a part of that club, especially because it had secret passwords? Apply that same concept to a club for older men, and you get the idea. While a Mason may not tell you what the passwords are, they are not really secrets anymore. If someone is really curious, the Masonic “Ritual,” a book containing Masonic ceremonies is already published in various forms. Charles William Heckethorn (1965), secret society expert, says, “The outside world, who cannot believe that Masonic meetings, which are so jealously guarded against the intrusion of non-Masons, have no other purpose than the rehearsal of a now totally useless and pointless ritual, followed by conviviality [a break for refreshments], naturally assume that there must be something more behind; and what seems to fear the light is usually supposed to be evil.” The ceremony to initiate new members has always been an object of attack because of the seemingly strange things parts of the ceremony. Essentially it involves the reenactment of a story. Various objects and words are used to represent a lesson that the initiate should always bear in mind. The phrase “on the level” comes from one such lesson.

What is the creed of Freemasonry? What do they believe? Much confusion has arisen over the issue, and anti-Masonic groups do all they can to keep it that way. Freemason Roger Firestone articulately answers, “Freemasonry strongly encourages its members to belong to an established religion, although that is not a requirement for membership (only that a candidate profess a belief in a Supreme Being). Masonry is a fraternal organization that encourages morality and charity and studies philosophy. It has no clergy, no sacraments, and does not promise salvation to its members.” Every Masonic activity starts with a prayer (and the presentation of the national flag, when appropriate). John the Baptist and John the Evangelist are the patron saints of Freemasonry, keeping high ideals and high pursuits at the forefront. Freemasonry is not a religion itself, but it strengthens the beliefs and morals of its members.

Members of the fraternity enjoy the privileges of having brothers all over the world. Masons and their families can always call upon other members in times of need. Travelers, the infirmed, those in distress can take comfort when they meet up with another Mason, whether they have known him previously or not. The Masonic family, including the women’s and youth groups, is a tight-knit community. Often a Masonic ring on a man’s right hand signifies that he will meet you on the level.

Freemasonry is dedicated to the betterment of its members, but also its community. Shrine hospitals, the Arizona Masonic Foundation for Children, the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, the Hearing Impaired Kids Endowment, the Amaranth Diabetes Foundation and Scottish Rite hospitals are all beneficiaries of Masonic sponsorship. The South Carolina Freemasonry web site says, “The Freemasons of North America contribute over two million dollar a day to charitable causes.” Local Lodges also have programs to help the nearby schools, hospitals and youth organizations. If Freemasonry had malicious intentions, would not these resources be better employed elsewhere?

Suggesting that Freemasonry is anything but benevolent is ludicrous. Implying that it is involved in conspiracies is ignorant. Americans worried about a new world order should turn their attention to other groups with that goal. And the History Channel needs to get these facts correct. Factual errors and dramatization are unacceptable. In the war for public opinion, Freemasonry should be the benign and prestigious organization that teaches belief in a Supreme Being, high ideals for living, and brotherly love.


Chapter Five: The Reverend James Dayton Shaw,. (n.d.). Retrieved October 29, 2009, from www.indianafreemasons.com/imoanti/isittrue/chap5.htm

Conder., B. E. (n.d.). The Hon. Miss St. Leger and Freemasonry. Retrieved October 29, 2009, from http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/aqc/aldworth.html

Firestone, R. (n.d.). A Page About Masonry: Questions: Difficult Questions About Freemasonry. Retrieved October 29, 2009, from http://web.mit.edu/dryfoo/www/Masonry/Questions/difficult.html

Freemasonry is a Non-Christian Occult Religion. (n.d.). Retrieved October 29, 2009, from http://www.godonthe.net/cme/links/masons.htm

FREEMASONRY PROVEN TO WORSHIP SATAN, AS ITS SYMBOLS VENERATE THE SEX ACT — STUDY OF SYMBOLS PART 5 . (n.d.). Retrieved October 29, 2009, from http://www.cuttingedge.org/free16.htm

Gilmour, P. (Director). (2006). Mysteries of the Freemasons DVD [Documentary]. United States: A&E Home Video.

Heckethorn, C. W. (1965). The Secret Societies of All Ages and Countries (v. 2). New York: General Books Llc.

Keohane, S. (n.d.). Christians Beware – of Freemasonry . Retrieved October 29, 2009, from http://bibleprobe.com/freemasonry.htm

What do Freemasons Do (Philanthropy). (n.d.). Retrieved October 29, 2009, from http://www.scgrandlodgeafm.org/FAQ/Philanthropy.htm

Upon beginning research for the paper, I contacted Michael T. Bishop, the Grand Mater of the State of Arizona (at the time), for further information and insight. My school deadline did not allow me to wait for a response, but I have since heard back from him. The Grand Master is a busy person, and I would like to sincerely thank him for his time.

My questions to him were:

  • How does Freemasonry help American communities?
  • How has Freemasonry helped America?
  • How does Freemasonry make good men better?

Here is his reply, in it’s entirety:

“The first two questions are much the same. Freemasonry has philanthropies and charitable projects, but its contribution is far deeper and more significant. Jacob Needleman in The American Soul speaks of a strong communal mysticism in early colonial America, especially in Quaker Pennsylvania. He emphasizes the importance of mystical communities in America and the founding fathers’ affiliations with Freemasonry. Many ideals that Americans consider definitive of our nation were introduced by these mystical communities. Today, Freemasonry is perhaps the strongest thread that binds us to our past, to that communal mysticism that seemed so strong 250 years ago. It is a search for truth, which can be translated “a closeness to our Creator.” Freemasonry embraced the philosophy of John Locke (1632-1704) who declared that human beings have natural rights and that reason and rational self-interest motivate people to freely establish governments by their own consent and for their own benefit, a philosophy embraced by the founding fathers. Jefferson would say that these rights are God given.

Freemasonry claims to make good men better, but a friend has suggested that the phrase should be that it makes better men good. To be a truly good man is what we should strive to attain. The teachings of Freemasonry in its ritual are valuable in themselves for their instruction for living a good and moral life, but its lofty goal to seek knowledge, truth, and closeness to God are perhaps more important. It was Freemason George Washington who said that the great aim of Freemasonry is to promote the happiness of the human race.”

Anne M Stegen
Anne M. Stegen

Anne Stegen is a sophmore at Arizona State University. She is studying journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Anne wants to work with non-profit organizations, social media and digital media tools. Anne is highly involved with Job’s Daughters International in Arizona. She works with residential life at Arizona State. She is a Community Assistant at Taylor Place at the downtown Phoenix campus. She is also Vice President of the ASU chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.



The Art of Being a Gentleman

The English Gentlemen by Richard Brathwait’s (1630) showing the exemplary qualities of a gentleman which are Youth, disposition, Education, Vocation, Recreation, Acquaintance, Moderation, and Perfection.

The art of being a gentleman is lost.

Nowadays, you can see few real gentleman in the course of your your day to day activity.

In this modern day and age, acting like a gentleman is considered a forgotten art. How could it not with so many examples of men behaving badly, from Hollywood Actor Charlie Sheen to Political talking head Newt Gingrich. If society is to do any following by example, the media shouldn’t be the source for proper behavior.

But with a little bit of commitment and an ounce or two of discipline, one can become a changed man and transform himself into being a true gentleman.

By actuating this little measure of discipline you will enable yourself to change your own personal view of yourself, change how others see you and alter your perception of the world in general.

Here are some tips that will help you improve yourself and in your relationships with others (professionally and socially) at home and in your workplace and hopefully put you on the road to become a true gentleman.

  1. Being a true gentleman entails having pride in your physical appearance. More people will respect you when they see you are clean and neat in the grooming of your body and in the clothes that you wear. You will also become highly regarded when you are equipped with complete and suitable wardrobe and wear decent clothes as fittingly as possible. In other words, if you look the part, you will BE the part.
  2. Be mindful of the way you carry yourself. It might be OK for JayZ to walk around with a chip on his shoulder, but it dosen’t speak well to how others perceive you to be a gentleman. Having attitude and swagger is one thing, but to much bravado is quite another. And, don’t forget the golden rule, and do unto others…but you have to act the way you want to be treated – respectfully, and with considerate kindness.
  3. Did I mention respect? When you want to be respected, it is also imperative that you return respect to others especially for women and older folks. Always show respect in everything you do. Modern manhood necessitates being sensitive to others needs and making life easier for them. Therefore, when we see a stalled car in the middle of the road, the best we can do is to stop and help the one in need. Perhaps a bit more closer to home – the next time we see a women or older people standing in public places or public transportation, the most likely thing for a gentleman to do is to offer his seat. A good rule of thumb whenever you see a men who helps an elders or disabled persons cross the street, open a door for a women or give up their seats for them – these are the actions of a true gentleman.
  4. Always practice good manners and avoid offense. It is best to avoid using foul language, profanity, or committing vulgar acts such as spitting, shouting, rudely gesturing, threatening, or raising one’s voice in public. Sometimes elevating the voice is necessary, but to do it in poor taste or to simply rise above the din is uncalled for.
  5. Don’t stink. Sweating happens, and a distinct part of being a gentleman is that your still a man. And to be a man means you have to work which often leads to sweating. But, as the saying goes ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’ (which actually came from Cleanness of body was ever deemed to proceed from a due reverence to God from Francis Bacon’s Advancement of Learning). Clean up after yourself with some soap and water.

Undoubtedly, the list could go on and on, and perhaps at some future date we will do just that. But for now, consider this the entry level list of becoming a gentleman.

Why you might be asking should you strive to become a gentlemen? Men who do enjoy life more when they consider themselves gentlemen because they are soon regarded as one. By following the steps of being a gentleman, very soon they too will reap the fruits of their labor when other people reflect their meritorious behavior.

It is gratifying and satisfying when people regard you as one which means that you are doing well in your relationship with others especially at home, in the workplace, or in the lodge room

memento mori, remember that you will die

10 Signs an Occult Group Leader is Losing It

memento mori, remember that you will die

This came from the internet from some time back. It has a more magical bend but could probably apply to any “esoteric” or “secret society.”

If there are other tell-tale signs that you think are missing, drop them in the comments blow.

10 signs that an occult/esoteric group leader has lost his focus.

  1. The leadership starts to think that they, and their group, are actually important.
  2. The leader starts to claim that they are the re-incarnation of a famous leaders and/or occultists.
  3. Their leadership takes a lot of drugs or start drinking.
  4. The leadership decides to pack in their day job and live off their students of their Order.
  5. Leaders start claiming authority from Secret Chiefs or Invisible beings. (or I’ll add a Moral Law).
  6. They ask you to give you all their money or want to shag you or your partner to assist your spiritual path.
  7. They start to become incredibly paranoid.
  8. They feel the need to attack other orders, personalities and systems.
  9. The leadership lose any sense of humor.
  10. The leadership starts to believe their own bullshit.

The list gets into each point and makes for a fun read correlating them to one particular group or another. And, I suppose, you could equate the list to any group: religious, social, fraternal, etc.

The best advice is that you should you find yourself following such a person or group  – “trust in the universe that you will find new teachers.”

Minister Louis Farrakhan’s got a job for you.

Just a few words of “wisdom” from Minister Louis Farrakhan about Freemasonry.

“What is the function of the Masons and Shriners today, now that the secret that you were hiding is out? Your function is to help me build what was in the nature of Hiram…”

“Master the 360 degrees of knowledge, not just the 33.”

He does get into the Fez of the Moors…


square and compass, freemasonry, S&C, freemason information

Masonic poerty – A Mason and A Creed


From The Virginia Masonic Journal, Richmond, Va
March, 1916

A Mason’s hand is a hand that helps, That
lifts the fallen one ‘
That comes, in need, with a kindly deed To him
whose strength is gone.

A Mason’s heart is a heart that loves The best that
is good and true;
He stands the friend, his best to lend, Under his
banner blue.

A Mason’s eye is an eye that smiles And his a
cheering voice;
He spreads the light, dispels the night And makes
the world rejoice.

Over the earth in stranger lands,
Where distant peoples dwell,
The eye, the grip, the life, the lip, Of love
unchanging tell.


From Square & Compass, Denver, Colo.,
June, 1915

Hark ye, Masons, men of love,
Men of faith and men of fame!
Listen to the muffled cries
Of men in bondage, bound in shame!

Oh, what ignorance rules supreme!
Oh, what darkness hides the Light!
Oppose and fight all, things unclean
You are champions of the Right!

God in all His glory rules,
Watching over us with care;
He sends us wisdom, love and truth
With our fellow men to share.

Teach men how to see the Light
Not by word of mouth or pen,
But by deeds so kind and bright
Illuminate life’s path. Amen.