What is Texas Masonicon? Here is how they tell it:
In their efforts to seek more light, the brethren of Fort Worth Lodge #148 began a tradition of bringing in guest speakers for Masonic educational talks. Talk after talk, our membership flourished and was enriched. After how much we have enjoyed the benefits of this program, we have decided to share this experience with other brothers who desire to seek more light.
Masonic education is a critical component to every brother’s journey in the Craft. However, it can be extremely hard to come by, even though our fraternity is filled with extraordinary speakers who will gladly share their research. We felt it was our responsibility to share the results of our educational program and create a Masonic educational event that would benefit the Craft on a larger scale. The location? The Fort Worth Masonic Temple.
They’re calling it: Texas MasoniCon
The last two Aprils Ezekiel Bates Lodge in Attleboro, Massachusetts has held a Masonicon. It is generally an all-day event of Masonic speakers from different parts of the country gathered together to make presentations and includes followup workshops and group participation.
Texas MasoniCon is intended to be an annual Masonic educational conference, and will bring together interested Brothers looking for more light in Masonry with knowledgeable authors and dignitaries from around the country.
Their keynote speakers for their inaugural convention will be three distinguished Masonic authors: Bro. Michael Poll is the founder of Cornerstone Publishing, V.E. Piers Vaughan is Past Grand High Priest of New York, and Bro. Chuck Dunning is the founding Superintendent of the Academy of Reflection.
Michael R. Poll is the owner of Cornerstone Book Publishers. He is a Founding Fellow and Past President of The Masonic Society, a Fellow of the Philalethes Society and Fellow of the Maine Lodge of Research. and a contributor to Heredom, the publication of the Scottish Rite Research Society.
A New York Times Bestselling writer and publisher, he is a prolific writer, editor and publisher of Masonic and esoteric books, having published over 200 titles.
Very Excellent Piers Vaughan is a Past Grand High Priest for New York Grand Chapter. His Masonic membership began in England in 1979, and he joined a number of Orders before joining St. John’s Lodge No. 1 in New York. He has traveled extensively across the USA and in many countries abroad giving lectures on a number of topics, ranging from history to talks on the symbols and esotericism of Masonry. An interest in 18th Century French Masonic Ritual led him to translate a number of important treatises and rituals into English.
V.E. Bro. Vaughan has written the Capitular Development Course, and Renaissance Man & Mason.
Chuck Dunning has been a Master Mason since 1988, is a member of Blue Lodges and Scottish Rite Valleys in both Texas and Oklahoma, and also belongs to a number of Masonic research societies. In the Scottish Rite, Chuck is a Knight Commander of the Court of Honor, Director of Education for the Guthrie Valley in Oklahoma, and a Class Director for the Fort Worth Valley in Texas. In 2012 he became the founding Superintendent of the Academy of Reflection, which is a chartered organization for Scottish Rite Masons wanting to integrate contemplative practice with their Masonic experience.
Bro. Dunning has authored Contemplative Masonry: Basic Applications of Mindfulness, Meditation, and Imagery for the Craft.
Their guest speakers are experts in Masonic leadership and education. They are:
Brad Billings – PM, Texas Lodge of Research
David Bindel – PM, Jewel P. Lightfoot Lodge
Larry Fitzpatrick – Past Grand Orator, GL of TX
Pete Normand – PM, Texas Lodge of Research
Roberto Sanchez – author The True Masonic Experience
John Tolbert – past DDGM
It is events like this one that is educating a new batch of leaders for the Masonic Fraternity of tomorrow. It is also a way of holding first rate Masonic Conferences that seems to be popular and catching on all across the U.S.A. There is a new day dawning on Freemasonry in America. American Masonry is becoming more national and less parochial in its outlook and that is helping it keep up with the 21st Century and the Information Age.
If you haven’t been to a Masonicon try it. You’ll like it!
The mechanism behind the aphorism simply implying that if someone wants to be a mason, they need to ask one. Short, simple, and to the point.
The phrase encompasses the admonition that no Mason will (or can) ask someone to join or become one, because then the decision to join is solemn one—a turning point if you will. From existing in the profane world and a desire to enter into the company of like-minded individuals in pursuit of moral excellence, a theme I explore in the book The Apprentice.
2b1ask1 is a mantra familiar to every mason today. But does it work?
So, to join those in pursuit of that moral excellence, you have to ask for admission.
This process is as old as the fraternity itself and ensures that the individual seeking the degrees is doing so of his desire and will.
But is that the right interpretation of the 2 be one—ask one mantra? Should it be used in a way to necessitate those interested in the fraternity too, literally, have to ask to be one?
Or, should 2b1ask1 (alternatively written 2be1ask1 or tobeoneaskone) be interpreted as a slogan illuminating the process of how to become a mason, but NOT a barrier of admission necessitating the potential member to know beforehand.
In writing this, I went looking through a grand lodge constitution, but couldn’t find anything that implicitly said that the only way to become a member was to ask someone who already was one. In a more roundabout way, it implied the prospective member need fill out an application and then undergo the requisite investigation. It was in this process that it seemed to me that 2b1ask1 idea found resonance by ensuring the investigation went smoothly and avoided any hiccups causing the applicant apprentice from failing out of the process or receiving a cube in the vote.
So then, is the probation of having to ASK a Freemason to become a Freemason really a tradition from time immemorial?
Or is it a process to ensure the vetting process of admission be a near guarantee of entry—for a variety of reasons, all of which were mostly positive but to a degree (pardon the pun) the most beneficial to all involved on every level.
With that in mind, is the 2b1ask1 mantra working?
To assume someone would know to ask is a leap. The fact of necessitating it requires the asker knows in the first place their task. This would seem to be a barrier to entry without a large marketing campaign behind it telling prospective members “…Hey, you have to ask to join.” Maybe looked at in another way, it should be said: “Call us, we won’t call you.”
What would be the cumulative net value of flipping the script on this? Rather than necessitating a public who might not know anything about the fraternity to have to ask about it, approach it from the other way and work on a referral basis. Almost like an affiliate or feeder pipeline. You refer a friend, and they refer one, and so on… Yes, this would fly in the face of tradition to an extent, but wouldn’t solve the pipeline issue facing American Masonry today?
If people don’t know about something, they can’t join in.Think about this same concept in other terms.
Would you NOT invite people to come to your church? What about joining another social group you may belong to A club outing, a fantasy football league, a seminar on some social or political issue. Certainly, these are not necessarily on par with joining a Masonic lodge, but they still involve group participation with individuals you trust and hold in esteem.
What is it that Freemasonry demands to morally obligate people to have to ask to be part of?
American Freemasonry, in context, is challenging to understand as it relates to the rest of the world. In many ways American Freemasonry mirrors the form and function of the lodge but, because it grew-up in the crucible of democracy that was itself, at the time, unique and new to the world at large. American Freemasonry is so different, that it has its own unique designation as “American.” But why does this difference exist? To understand this question, it would take an outsider to examine American Freemasonry. And who better than a Frenchman.
Gregory Stewart (GS) Why write American Freemasonry? What inspired Alain de Keghel to be the one to write it?
Alain de Keghel (AdK): American Freemasonry is an issue which keeps rather controversial in some countries abroad, while people writing, reporting or simply delivering messages about it, not always simply knowing what matters. Quite often they sincerely believe to be aware but they never, by themselves, experienced American Freemasonry which is very diverse. America, as a whole, is a wide country and the addition of people of different creeds, different ethnic origins, different languages and specific cultural areas of origin, making together what we call the “melting pot.” And because I had myself the privilege to live in the USA for a long period of time, benefiting also from the Fraternity of American Masons before of that, for example in Germany and Japan, I felt that it may be useful to share this quite rare experience in writing a book without prejudice. Even though I keep of course a specific cultural French reference simply because my basic roots are there, I tried to do it without any partisan point of view. This requires being familiar with American history which includes also the political side.
Of course any one will agree that Freemasonry shouldn’t interfere in politics — but nobody can ignore the geopolitical dimension of the origins of the American Revolution and the French-British competition of two major powers that included important Masonic Figures like Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, La Fayette and of course George Washington. But we have to consider also other Freemasons and political actors like the Admirals Cornwallis and Grasse-Tilly who both took a decisive part along with Rochambeau in the famous battle of Yorktown (October 19, 1781) paving the way to the American independence.
Anyone may conceive that as a former diplomat and a Freemason I have indeed an acute interest in those aspects of French-American relationships as well from an international point of view as from both Masonic and historical ones. All these elements inspired me to write a book to try also to share the analysis from outside America. But I never intended to deliver a message which would pretend to be the “unique truth” which simply does not exist. Objectivity is a noble goal but I frankly believe that it does simply not exists.
GS: The French-British competition? Do you mean the anglo war or some other conflict?
AdK: I was referring more generally to the geopolitics at this period of time where the two then “super powers ” and kingdoms where competing all over the world. And for sure in America during the American Revolution.
GS: The press release for the book puts emphasis on the fact that American Freemasonry was “deeply influenced by the experiences of many early American political leaders, leading to distinctive differences from European lodges.” I’m curious if you could elaborate on this or, perhaps, give an example of one of those influences and what difference it’s manifested into.
AdK: In answering your previous question, I was just referring to major figures and early American political leaders while explaining why I choose to report and analyze American Freemasonry “with French eyes.” America, meaning the United States of America, is a young Nation and it appears to me important to refer to the early roots of this First power in the world today if we try to better understand how it evolved in the run of centuries since the famous arrival of the Mayflower with European refugees looking for absolute freedom of religion. Since absolute freedom of thought belongs to the most fundamental aims of Freemasonry, I would say that many of the first American political leaders spontaneously felt very comfortable with the political philosophy of the Enlightenment which is important for Freemasons all around the world. If you read the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence from Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, you very easily will find references to basic principles and values which belong to the patrimony of the Masonic Order. And it is not by chance because many writers of these texts were Freemasons. By the way, we see here the long lasting influence of this way of thinking since the values they referred to, are still accurate today. It is, to me, the most convincing demonstration that Freemasonry, while preventing of mixing in politics, is by definition a place where the civil society may find some references to ideals and principles of an ethical and political nature.
But, unlike in Europe, the same American segments of the society who emigrated to preserve their sacred right to practice their belief without fearing prosecution, these segments of society have also sometimes developed “protective reactions” which may seem contradictory to their aims. I refer here more specifically to the famous Morgan affair which I explain in my book. This was a major challenge to American Freemasons leading once to the candidacy of an “anti-Masonic party” running for federal elections. Since then, we can observe that the memberships of American Freemasonry kept totally away from its involvement in the political life of the American society.
European lodges never experienced this kind of extreme challenge and still keep outmost interested in debates over new issues like bioethics, control of birth, justice or death penalty just to list a few examples. In some countries, like France, lodges used to be a kind of “laboratory” or think tank where these kinds of issues belong to, of course beside and outside of the political partisan debate. This is one of the major distinctive differences with American Freemasonry which avoids playing any societal role and privileges the practice of ritual and of charity. It is not a critique but simply a matter of fact.
Another major difference remains, of course, and reflects specific social specificities on both sides of the Atlantic. In America white and black lodges work, mostly but not exclusively, seperately. In France, Masonic lodges are places where this kind of separation simply does not exist and could not be possible. But here again it is part of different histories.
GS: I’ve had the chance to speak with both Margaret Jacob and Arturo De Hoyos, so I’m familiar with their exemplar work on Freemasonry, but I’m curious why you chose them to pen the forwards for this book?
AdK: Because I am today mainly dedicated to research and academic activities, writing books and sharing my knowledge as a scholar all over the world. I spend a lot of my time working with Universities and Libraries which simply belong to the natural environment to collect and share accurate information and reliable sources. Having spent many years in the USA and still keeping the good habit to visit your country at least once a year, I have an ongoing good relationships with American academics.
Margaret C. Jacob, PhD, is best known as a professor of history at the UCLA and is one of the world’s foremost Masonic scholars. She is considered a pioneer in the field of the history of civil society with emphasis on Masonic history. For that reason it was important to me to have her delivering, also to American readers, a point of view which matters.
For other reasons, my old friend Art de Hoyos appears to me as one of the American Masons best entitled to write comments on my research since he also is recognized worldwide for his sophisticated Masonic education and knowledge. A Grand Archivist and Grand Librarian of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction he allowed me, as a French life member of the Scottish Rite Research Society, to implement very important research activities in Washington, DC in order to put more light on the French-American Masonic ties throughout time.
But let me also refer here to my other friend, the past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of California, John Cooper, who also agreed to write an important afterword taking into account what we together did in the nineties and later on for the promotion of inter-Masonic exchanges in Sacramento, Edinburgh and in Paris.
As a matter of fact, these choices reflect a reciprocal confidence of people having different experiences but sharing the same values and one goal: building bridges among people of goodwill!
GS: The title of the book, its dust jacket and interior art leans heavily on the pantheon of American early American Freemasonry. In your work, how deeply did you delve into the other ‘American’ Freemasonry in say Mexico, Canada and further down into South America?
AdK: I am very grateful to you for this question which provides me the opportunity to embrace American Freemasonry in its diversity as I honestly did in my research. If you read my book you will learn that I was also for several years a French Diplomat in charge of representing my country at several inter-American bodies: Organization of American States, ECLAC (a specific body of the UN for economical affairs in Latin America and the Caribbean countries), the Inter-American Bank of Development and the American Regional Health Organization (OPS). My American overview includes, for this reason, a global analysis with a special focus on Latin America. But in my present book, I do not write about this specific and very important dimension. But I just have directed and published, early in July 2017, a new book totally dedicated to Latin America and the Caribbean region. It may be soon also translated in Spanish.
GS: What is this book? Is it out now or is it coming soon?
AdK:This book was meanwhile published — in French so far — in July 2017: L’ Amerique Latine et la Caraibe des Lumieres, Dervy, Paris. It is about to be translated into Spanish and edited in Buenos Aires, Argentine.
One word more about Canada: the Freemasonry in this country belongs to the Conference of American Grand Lodges and I have of course also included a chapter to present it to English speaking readers.
GS: Interesting in your follow up there, you say Canada belongs to the CoAGL (Conference of American Grand Lodges) Why do you think that is?
AdK:It is not an opinion but a matter of fact. Mexican Grand Lodges similarly also included into this masonic regional conference.
GS: In the press release, you establish that there’s a difference between American and European lodges. Could you illustrate a few of what your work defines as differences?
AdK:The answer to this important issue is in fact easy: I have honestly tried to compare both sides and readers will discover in my book what I consider as fundamentally different. So if you allow me would prefer not to elaborate here and to keep the “surprise” for those who will read. But you may have already noticed that I was referring to one major difference. The “racial issue” simply does not exist in European lodges — unlike in America. It appears to me to be a very important difference but there are others which I address in my book. Maybe some reactions of American readers and a kind of dialog could arise from that.
I must confess that this would be of outmost interest for me and some way a privilege to establish such an exchange and dialog with American readers.
GS: Do you think these differences have affected membership levels on both sides of the pond?
AdK: For sure these differences had and still have, in my opinion, an impact on the memberships — but mainly on the influence or input of the Masonic values in the civil society. If you simply look at American statistics — and I do it also quite extensively in my book — you will realize that the memberships is steadily declining in American Lodges since the late 40s of the last century, while it is increasing in France. It is clearly one of the results of differences in addressing Masonic education, societal topics and actual issues.
Masonic education and Masonic tradition are of course both important. But young people connected with a very demanding society expect certainly more.
GS: Do you think the European version of lodge work could be implemented straight out of the box in America?
AdK: I would never say: “Do like us, and you will do better.” It would be, first, very arrogant — but also inaccurate because every society has its own rules resulting from history and culture.
But you raise a good question. Would it make sense to try to experiment with other practices? This is what some American Grand Lodges have already have begun to implement with some impressive success. It is the case in California, for example. No one has a miraculous recipe to offer. But “building the bridges,” a principle I was several times referring to in the run of this interview, may be part of the solution. It is my conviction that everyone has something to learn from encounters in a global world or a “world village” as someone once said. It is part of cross culture, a reality of modern times.
GS: Are there, or do you know of any examples of this implementation?
AdK: Of course yes. I know that specifically at least one Grand Lodge has recently engaged in this policy. It is the Grand Lodge of California.
GS: What do you hope American’s take away from reading American Freemasonry? What do you hope European (or non-American) Masons to take away from it?
AdK: In writing American Freemasonry, first in French, I had mainly in mind to explain to my fellow European Masons what I have learned from my American Masonic experience because they too often have a poor knowledge of America in general and quite often misunderstand it. I had claimed, in a previous answer, to build bridges, and my book is part of that. As an American Publisher, Inner Traditions (American Freemasonry’s publisher) accepted the idea to have my book also translated into English and edited in the USA. I was of course delighted to contribute this way to entertain a dialog with my American Fellow Brethren which is also part of building bridges and reciprocal confidence. At a period of time where the flow of information obeys the law of instantaneity and of superficiality, within the so called social networks with their “like” and “friends” who never encounter beside on the networks, I do hope that my writings may help to develop a better understanding founded on knowledge and not on prejudice.
Maybe, American Masons eventually could also be interested to discover how a French freemason sees them? But I may be mistaken and possibly nobody cares? Let us try!
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
Harmon Weston over at the (now defunct) Blue Lite forum posted the following:
Modern Freemasonry was born in an environment where the laws of Church and State overlapped significantly (and still do if you scratch them with a soft cloth). A group of free-thinkers got together in a pub and closed the door, not because they were conspiring to take over the world but because they wanted to discuss things the “authorities” would prefer they didn’t and might well have prosecuted, persecuted or burned them at the stake if they were discovered. Ignorant, scared and (philosophically) illiterate people have always been the darlings of governments because they are easy to control, and over the centuries, many of our Brethren have been labelled “troublemakers” simply because they were publicly prepared to ask valid questions the “authorities” were not prepared or able to answer.”
Granted Masons are not supposed to be openly political when gathered as Brothers, but isn’t Liberty one of the defining requirements of Freemasonry?
Is not freedom of the individual a part of Masonic thought that permeates the Craft
Freemasonry was born out of the Enlightenment where church and state despotism was discarded by Masons for the New Age of freedom. Should Freemasons then not uphold the right of every individual in the world be a master of their own destiny? Are free-thinkers required to keep their mouths shut if they are Freemasons? Are Freemasons largely responsible for the rise of democratic government in the world? If so why must they avoid talking about politics (as distinguished from partisan politics)?
Doesn’t the quote help explain the secrecy in Freemasonry?