Fred Milliken,Freemason Information,The Beehive

Is Change A Dirty Masonic Word?

I was coming home from work the other day and listening to the radio when the announcer said that the production of CDs was slowly being stopped. The era of the CD is over. Oh my, I wondered, what am I going to do now? And then I realized that I hadn’t even gotten rid of all of my 8 track tapes yet.

Now I know how my grandfather felt. He was born in 1881 and died in 1980. He once told me that he had seen the advent of what was then every modern invention, from the mass use of the auto, to the radio, to TV, the airplane, the refrigerator, air conditioning and on and on. When he started out his career in his 20’s he was a salesman operating out of a horse and buggy. Before he died he saw a man land on the moon. Now that kind of change can frizzle your brain.

Change is so prevalent today. Our President ran his first campaign on the slogans of HOPE and CHANGE. But it seems, at least to me, that the change that technology is bringing us is moving at a more rapid rate every decade or is that just my imagination? One can purchase the latest in technology and it is outmoded in what seems a flash. My first computer lasted me 10 years, my second only 5 years and my third will be replaced after 3 years.

Here is an idea of what the near future could see.


From the mundane to the extraordinary, it seems every day a new piece of technology is released that promises to revolutionize the way people live. The Mind Lamp from Psyleron uses electron tunneling, a process that measures quantum-scale probabilistic events, to determine what color your mind is thinking about in order to shift the lamp to that color. For people who have trouble texting, the Android application “ThickButtons” anticipates which letters are most likely next when typing a text on a touch screen smart phone, and the program expands those letters to make texting easier. From the co-inventor of Twitter comes Square, an accessory that plugs into your smart phone that allows a mobile merchant to swipe a credit card anywhere they receive cell service.


Thanks to advancements in the field of medicine, the quality and length of human lives continues to improve. Scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles have engineered mesoporous silica nanoparticles that successfully increase the percentage of cancer fighting drugs delivered to tumors during chemotherapy. A vaccine developed by Pfizer called CDX-110 causes white blood cells in the body to target and destroy cancer producing cells in the brain. Two studies released in “The New England Journal of Medicine” have proved that the asthma pills Singulair and Accolate work as successfully in preventing asthma symptoms as steroid inhalers. Each of these inventions offer a chance to ease the suffering of individuals afflicted with these conditions.


Recent developments in scientific equipment have allowed scientists to continue uncovering the mysteries of the universe. A half-mile underground in Geneva, Switzerland, is the Large Hadron Collider, a particle accelerator designed to allow physicists to study the smallest known particles. Physicists hope to use the collider to recreate the conditions that existed immediately following the Big Bang. NASA’s Gravity Probe B has confirmed two key predictions related to Einstein’s theory of relativity by measuring the warping of space and time around a gravitational body, and how much a spinning object pulls space and time when rotating.


Researchers from Google have developed a car that drives itself automatically using artificial intelligence software. The car’s on board computer uses video cameras, radar sensors and laser guidance software, along with detailed maps, to navigate roads and traffic. The firefighting vehicle Amatoya has an insulated cabin that can withstand temperatures of more than 600 degrees, and is armed with dual high-powered water cannons that allow the vehicle’s crew to fight fires from within.

Read more: Recent Innovations in Technology at



All this has me wondering of course about Freemasonry. While the world spins on a high speed hi tech mode of constant change, what is Freemasonry doing? Of course I don’t mean the message but the messenger. The tenets and virtues of Freemasonry are timeless as is its ritual. So the question is, are we really keeping up with the times in the deliverance of that message?


Could Freemasonry using technology actually hold a meeting online?

Could it do away with altogether its Lodge building?

Could it streamline itself into having all degrees performed at Grand Lodge, as part of a Grand Lodge session, three times a year for every Lodge in the jurisdiction?

Could its record keeping become 100% digital?

Could all the messages a Lodge or Grand Lodge needs to deliver to its members be done electronically?

Does Freemasonry make efficient use of websites, You Tube and E Readers now?

Does Freemasonry in your jurisdiction use Facebook and Twitter now?

Does your Grand Master, Grand Lodge officers and local Lodge Master text?


What I see now is also the death of the home PC and even the laptop. The younger generation is communicating by texting, reading from E-readers, and connecting to the World Wide Web and everything and anything via smart phones. If Freemasonry desires to connect with the present generation will they be willing to use the tools that this generation uses? And will they be able to communicate the timeless message of Freemasonry in a manner that today’s hi tech youngsters can receive? Or is change really a dirty Masonic word?

Phylaxis Society Honors Nelson King

Nelson King Phylaxis Society memorial

The Phylaxis Society just published its magazine totally dedicated to Nelson King.

It is all King, nothing but King, every page.  I don’t know how the other two Societies, The Philalethes Society, of which King was a past President and editor of its publication, and The Masonic Society, of which he also was a member, are honoring Brother King. But it would surprise me if they dedicated the entire contents of one of their publications to just Nelson King.

Right about now perhaps many Mainstream Masons are scratching their heads wondering why there is this Prince Hall adulation of Brother King.

Phylaxis President John B. Williams introduces the latest issue of its publication with these words.

“Nelson King was a friend to Prince Hall Masonry when it was quite unpopular to be so.”

Renowned Prince Hall author and speaker Alton Roundtree, FPS adds:

“I placed Nelson King in the same category as Jerry Marsengill, Allen Roberts and other editors of the Philalethes Magazine who had kept the issue of Prince Hall Freemasonry up for discussion in the Magazine. Nelson seemingly went farther than others in that he took on the role of a defender of Prince Hall Freemasonry.”

“Nelson King was not popular in many quarters, especially outside of Prince Hall Freemasonry. He was subject to threats and humiliating comments. Nevertheless, wherever he stood, he stood.”

Robert N. Campbell, FPSH Phylaxis Society Council of Representatives and President of the Phylaxis Society board tells us:

“He (Nelson King) along with Phylaxis President, the Hon. Joseph A. Walkes, Jr., Ralph McNeal and myself, were among a number of us whose lives were threatened, over the internet for our work and involvement to spread the true ‘cement of B.L.R. &T.’”

The Hon. Rev. Tommy Rigmaiden, FPS, FPC (H-Life) & President Emeritus of the Phylaxis Society in a “A Tribute To My Beloved Nelson King” in the magazine highlights a couple of important events in the life of Nelson King.

He says that in March 2000 King, at that time President of the Philalethes Society, attended the Phylaxis Society’s annual session in Kansas City, Missouri where he inducted 8 African-American Prince Hall Masons into the Masonic Order of Blue Forget-Me-Nots. In the next year, 2001, King invited Phylaxis President Joseph A. Walkes to attend the annual session of the Philalethes Society during Masonic week in Washington D.C. Walkes being ill, Rigmaiden, 1st Vice President, went in his place and enjoyed himself immensely.

On Masonic Central: Nelson King and the Philalethes Society

Another who brings us much information about Nelson King is Brother Aubrey Brown, Sr., MPS who reiterates much of what others have said.

“Perhaps for PHA Masons, his most important distinction is being virtually the last of the great Prince Hall Warriors from within the ranks of Mainstream Masonry. Following in the footsteps of his mentors such as the late Bro. Allen Roberts, Nelson fought to the end for full unilateral recognition of PHA Masonry worldwide within regular Freemasonry.”

Brown also reminds us that

King demitted from his Ontario, Canada Lodge to join the Grand Lodge of Costa Rica to protest his mother Grand Lodge’s refusal to recognize Prince Hall, which it eventually did.

A Fellow of the Philalethes Society King became its only President who was not a United States citizen. He also served as editor of the Philalethes publication and is only one of two Society members to hold both positions at the same time.

Prince Hall Masons recognized Nelson King for his achievements during his lifetime. Brown tells us that in 2000 he received the Prince Hall Civil Rights Activist Award. In 2004 he was made Honorary Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Costa Rica. In 2005 he was inducted into the Phylaxis Society’s Harry A. Williamson Hall of Fame. In 2006 he was made Honorary Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut.

Brown then to proceeds to chronicle what he considers King’s “Two Most Cherished And Successful Projects Most Never Knew About.”


As webmaster of the Philalethes Society King created a visitor’s section called “The Welcome Wall.” Here any and every question about Freemasonry was answered. It became so popular that King could not keep up all by himself. So he appointed a three man Board or Committee of one American Mainstream Mason, one European Mason and one Prince Hall Mason. The PHA Mason was Brother Brown.

When King stepped down from his management positions within the Philalethes Society he sold the site to the Society and moved The Welcome Wall to Guestbook.  Alas in failing health the Society that he had devoted so much time and effort to decided to stab him in the back.

Brown recounts:

“As Nelson became aware of his failing liver, The Philalethes Society contacted and informed him that they felt the name “Welcome Wall” was their intellectual property since he created it while an Officer of the Society. Considering the more important battle facing him, he decided to just close his site. The Welcome Wall died a quiet death. No acknowledgement was given to the Committee members or the Founder of the Welcome Wall when control of the name was taken. Today their version is not as popular or nearly as successful as the real Welcome Wall.”


Many Freemasons are totally unaware of King’s exploits in this labor of love. It all started in 1998 when King and his wife visited Cuba. There he touched base with the Masonic community and saw firsthand what dire straits they were in. When he returned back home to Canada, he started with aspirin and vitamins. Soon he progressed to much needed bandages, drugs and medical equipment.  Because of size limitations some shipments had to be sent to Costa Rica who then sent them on to Cuba.

King created an E-List for the Cuban Relief Fund and solicited donations from anybody and everybody. King’s heroic efforts became known far and wide across the island of Cuba and many letters of thanks were published on the E-List.

The work that King started lives on even after his death. And once again the Masonic community transcends the political divisions that separate good men in order to provide for the well being of those in need.

Within the magazine there are also a few of Nelson King’s more memorable speeches. The first titled “Black and White” was given at the 7th annual Sam Houston Lecture in 2004 at Holland Lodge No. 1 AF & AM, Grand Lodge of Texas, Houston Texas, and was on the legitimacy of Prince Hall Freemasonry. King told me privately and personally that because of the large number of death threats he received that he felt it necessary to hire two body guards.

Another lecture in this issue of the Phylaxis Magazine was an address given at Wilberforce Lodge, MWPHGL, Ohio.

Nelson King’s parting shot and demonstration of his solidarity with Prince Hall was to have Prince Hall perform his funeral ceremony and so Past Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ontario, MW Joe Halstead, and his team did just that on August 20, 2011 at the Ogden funeral Home in Toronto.

Rest in peace Brother King. Well done good and faithful servant.

Part 1: Prince Hall Masonry from WEOFM on Vimeo.

Norwegian Order of Freemasons expel Breivik

The following was posted Sunday on the Grand Lodge of Norway website from the Grand Master of Norwegian masons.

The Norwegian Order of Freemasons expressing compassion and care

– I am appalled by the horrible atrocity that was committed in the government district and at the Utøya island, says the Sovereign Grand Master of the Norwegian Order of Freemasons, Ivar A. Skar.

We are filled with mourning and compassion for those who have been affected and their relatives.

It has appeared in the media that the accused has been a member of the Norwegian Order of Freemasons.

He has now been excluded (expelled) – the exclusion immediately effective.

The exclusion reflects that the acts he is accused of having carried out, and the values that appear to have motivated them, are completely incompatible with what we stand for as an Order.

We build our activity on Christian and humanistic values and want our members to contribute to the promotion of charity, peace and goodness among all people.

The police will of course get all the help and information we can give to contribute to the investigation.


Norway Monster Anders Behring Breivik

It’s been reported that Norwegian gunman and bomber Anders Behring Breivik was, amongst several affiliations, a freemason, this according to the British Mail-online.

In addition to the claim, it is also said he was a nazi, and right-wing anti muslim.

You can read the reporting in the Mail Online article: Norwegian massacre gunman was a right-wing extremist who hated Muslims

The link comes from Breivik’s Facebook profile, in which it is reported that his interests included body-building and freemasonry.

Perhaps unnecessary to say, his actions in no way reflect the teachings of Masonry, and to the contrary contradicts its teachings and even its very essence. The taking of human life is one of the most heinous of acts humanly possible making Breivik’s actions those of a monster.

Our hearts go out to those affected by this tragedy.


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

Made a Mason at Sight

Two new brothers were added at sight in the last week, and Chris Hodapp at the Freemasons for Dummies blog gave them both a terrific introduction to the fold. Welcome to the newly made brothers Shaquille O’Neal and Brother Richard Dreyfuss. Dreyfuss, Hodapp reported, was made by M:.W:. Grand Master Jesse Villarreal of the Grand Lodge of D.C., and O’Neal by M:.W:. Grand Master Frederick B. Summer of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts F&AM.

With the at sight making coming with some contention, I thought it interesting to look at what other notables have been made at sight n the last 100 years.

The following list was composed from the terrific website of Brother Paul Bessel which you can find here.

Men Made Masons at sight.

Apr. 28, 1863 – Joseph A. Gilmore, an American railroad superintendent from Concord, New Hampshire, member of the state senate, and served two terms as Governor during the Civil War.

1897 – Samuel W. Pennypacker, Governor of Pennsylvania. Most notable, during Pennypacker’s term in office, he signed into law the Child Labor Act of 1905, which set a minimum and standard for young workers. He also created the Pennsylvania State Police and the State Museum, overseeing the completion of the new state capitol building.

1897 – Lloyd Lowndes, former Senator and Governor of Maryland.

1898 – John Wanamaker, the father of “Modern Advertising” and a pioneer in marketing. In his role as a businessmen he reportedly in the 1890’s gave to his employees free medical care, education, recreational facilities, pensions and profit-sharing plans.

1902 – Cyrus A. Dolph, businessman and financial counselor and promoter of the railway enterprise in to the Pacific Northwest. He was variously a Bank President, surveying company director, attorney, and seated judge. his greatest focus, it could be said, was to build and bolster the young Pacific Northwest.

1902 – Solomon Hirsch, active civic builder, Hirsch was a lifelong member of the Portland, Oregon, Library association belonging to several community organizations as well as the Chamber of Commerce. Early in his career he served as the presidential appointed Ambassador of Turkey in 1889.

Feb. 1909 – William H. Taft, then President Elect of the United States.

1921 – Bishop William A. Guerry was the discoverer of the grave of General William Moultrie, hero of the American Revolution for his repulse of the British fleet at the battle at Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina on June 28, 1776.

1923 – Tasker G. Lowndes, Chairman of the Maryland State Board of Education

1924 – Dr. Robert Wilson, whom no information is available on the web.

1928 – Andrew and Richard Mellon, were civic builders, industrialists, bankers , and philanthropist’s from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

1930 – George A. White, U.S. Army Major General in command of the 42st Infantry Division in World War II and founder of the American Legion.

May 12, 1933 – Frank P. Carter, businessman and philanthropist.

1934 – Gen. Charles P. Summerall, Army Chief of Staff 1926 – 1930, later to become president of The Citidal, The Military College of South Carolina, from 1931 to 1953. Summerall was also decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star for his command of the 1st Division in World War II.

Jan. 17, 1936 – Douglas MacArthur, Chief of Staff to the U.S. Army, MacArthur was the American General and field marshal of the Philippine Army.

1938 – Dr. J. Ryan McKissick, of whom no information is on the web.

Dr. Henry N. Snyder was the president of Wofford college and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church in whose capacity he argued in favor of racial segregation, publishing an autobiography, An Educational Odyssey, in 1947.

Dec. 16, 1941 – General George C. Marshall, called the organizer of Victory by Winston Churchill for the Allied victory in World War II, Marshall was the Chief of Staff of the Army, Secretary of state, and the Secretary of Defense. In 1953 Marshall was awarded the Nobel Prize for the post war European Recovery Program given his name and dubbed the Marshall Plan.

Jesse H. Jones, Texas politician and entrepreneur. Jones served as Secretary of Commerce from 1940 to 1950 and after he headed the Reconstruction Finance Corporation from 1932 to 1945 which worked to fight the Great Depression financing the industrial expansion of World War II.

1949 – Gen. George H. Decker was Chief of Staff of the United States Army from 1960 to 1962. Decker was made commanding general of the 5th Infantry Division in 1948, later to be assigned to the Office of the Comptroller of the Army as Chief of the Budget Division.

1951 – Milton S. Eisenhower was president of Kansas State University, 1943, then Pennsylvania State University, 1950-56, and the Johns Hopkins University between 1956 to 1967 and again in 1971 – 1972. He was also brother of President Dwight Eisenhower.

1955 – Gen. Jacob E. Smart was a U.S. Army Air Force Colonel in World War II and Cold War era Air Force General who became Deputy Commander of the U.S. European Command in July 1964 when he later became an administrator at NASA.

1955 – George M. Leader, was an active social and economic conscious Governor of Pennsylvania.

1965 – Robert J. Lamont, whom little information is available on the web.

John S. Campbell, Jr, whom little information is available on the web.

Nov. 4, 1967 – Wallace M. (Wally) Shirra, Jr., American test pilot, Navy Captain, one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, flying in the first three space programs logging more than 295 hours of space flight.

Dec. 13, 1975 – Admiral John C. McCain, Jr was a U.S. Navy Admiral who later became Commander, United States Pacific Command. McCain was decorated with the Silver and Bronze Star and because of his strong advocacy of naval sea power came to be called Mr. Seapower.

1976 – Fitz Eugene Dixon, Jr., was the American sportsman who variously became an owner and investor of every Philadelphia professional sports franchise, including the Eagles, the Phillies, the Flyers, and the Wings. His most notable but his most sports investment was the Philadelphia 76ers where he served as Vice Chairman when they won the Stanley Cup in 1974, 1975. In 1976. Dixon was also a philanthropist know most for his purchase of the Love Sculpture in 1976.

Mar. 8, 1976 – Robert Shevin was a member of the Florida House of Representatives in 1964 and a member of the Florida State Senate in 1966. He was elected 1970 to the position of Attorney General a position he served until 1979 when he ran an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Florida in 1978.

Bert Thomas, President of Winn Dixie stores who championed the stores growth into 135 new stores into the 1980’s.

1982 – John E. Rakar, whom little information is available on the web.

1983 – Carl J. Finney, whom little information is available on the web.

1983 – Sen. George D. Aiken who was the Governor of Vermont from 1937 to 1941 and U.S. Senator of the state from 1941 to 1975. Of his many accomplishments Aiken was known for his work to break monopolies of major industries such as: banks, railroads, marble companies, and granite companies. He also is known for encouraging suffering farmers in rural Vermont to form co-ops to get crops to market and to get better access to electricity.

March 15, 1984 Muzyad Yakhoob, better known as Danny Thomas who was a consummate American performer of stage, television, and film. His most notable work was in the show of his same name, The Danny Thomas Show, as well as in Make Room for Daddy. Probably of greatest memory is Thomas’s founding of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 1962.

1997 – James Rees, Executive Director of George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate and Museum center. Rees was formerly worked on the nationwide properties program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, as Public Relations Director for The College of William and Mary and the Virginia Shakespeare Festival, and as a reporter for the Daily Press newspaper in Tidewater, Virginia.

1998 – Col. Paul J. Evanko served as Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police overseeing the command of more than 4,100 enlisted members. He is the recipient of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Award for Distinguished and Meritorious Service, the U. S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration Award for Outstanding Contributions in the Field of Drug Law Enforcement and the Chapel of Four Chaplains Humanitarian Award.

Colonel Joseph H. Westcott, Deputy Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police.

Trooper Roberto Soto, is a distinguished member of the Pennsylvania State Police who is the recipient of numerous commendations and awards for his work in drug law enforcement. Soto is most noted for his letter of commendation from the Mayor of the City of Reading.

2001 – Larry Christenson is a major league baseball player who notably played his entire career with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1973 to 1983.

Walter Dunkle, was the vice-president and general manager for Westinghouse Electric.

Oct. 28, 2001 – Alan M. Hantman served as Architect of the U.S. Capitol, which is a federal agency responsible for the maintenance, operation, development, and preservation of the United States Capitol Complex. He served from February 1997 until February 2007

J.P. London, CEO of CACI International, Inc., which is a professional services and information technology company headquartered in Arlington Va.

Tony Russo, CEO of InPhonics, Inc.; which was an American company which sold wireless services and devices online.

Ronald D. Schiff, Associate Justice of the 5th District of Maryland and member of many state commissions and Task Force.

John W. Springer who is a Managing Partner of Capital Asset Management Group which is a strategic planning and development institute for financial independence.

July 21, 2003 – Senator Norman B. Coleman, Jr., is an Attorney, a former mayor of St. Paul, and Minnesota state Senator from 2003 to 2009. Coleman notably was embattled in a 6 month legal battle with Al Franken over the senatorial seat.

June, 2011 – Richard Dreyfuss, who is an Oscar winning American Actor who has appeared in numerous films from the aquatic masterpiece Jaws to the touching Mr. Holland’s Opus. Dreyfuss is noted recently for his work on the Dreyfuss initiative that will “create a broadcast special that will explore and educate its audience in a unique and entertaining way.”

Shaquille O’Neal who is a 19 year career vetran of the NBA. O’Neal is also an accomplished rap star, film actor, and civic developer as he has turned his eye to help Orlando homeowners from mortgage fraud and foreclosure.

Is there anyone I’ve missed? Let us know in the comments.

One item I do find interesting is the dichotomy between the groups in the eras in which they were “Made”.  From the social barons of industry to the more modern celebrity and politician.

In the mean time, welcome to the newly “Made” brothers.

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

Stealng from the Temple Coffers

From the Boston Herald

A 58-year-old Maine man accused of embezzling more than $1 million from within the secretive headquarters of the Massachusetts Grand Lodge of Masons is scheduled to be arraigned today in Suffolk Superior Court.

Vincent Paul Reed Jr. of Shapleigh, Maine, spent $1.25 million in Mason funds on personal travel expenses, household pets, utilities and credit card debt, prosecutors said.

The theft is alleged to have taken place from 2001 to 2008 — while Reed served as elected treasurer of the Boston Council of Royal Select Master Masons and the St. Paul’s chapter of the Royal Arch Masons, said Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley.

The investigation was said to of begun in 2008 when a lodge member discovered irregularities in the accounting.

Vincent Paul Reed Jr has pleaded not guilty to the charges that he transferred more than $1 million from the secretive organization into his personal accounts to pay for shopping sprees, exotic trips and lavish dinners.

As quoted int he Boston Herald on May 11th, Reed was able to get away with it without any real oversight.

“All of these expenses are despite the fact that the two Mason organizations had no cars, no pets, no known credit cards and no need to shop,”

“Reed was a popular personality and held elaborate parties for the Masons. He was a gregarious and well-liked member and operated without oversight.”

Read the full articles Freemason charged in $1M embezzlement. and Former Masons treasurer pleads not guilty to $1M grab

Thankfully, a Grand Lodge spokesman said Reed “was booted as soon as financial improprieties were discovered.”

William Shakespeare – the Freemason

William Shakespeare Freemason

Its been debated in a sea of endless questions, was William Shakespeare a Freemason?

Well, this week (April 23rd -30th) is a celebration of all things William Shakespeare as Stratford’s Greatest son’s celebrates his 447th birthday.

For the non mason, its hard to really pick up on the clever word play that is so intricately woven into Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays, and one is often left wondering “was it Shakespeare who applied Masonic ideas into his works, or the Freemasons who appropriated the ideas from the bard of Avon?” Most scholars suggest the latter, but Masons familiar with the wordplay might see otherwise.

Its been in debate for a long while, at least in Masonic circles, appearing in the Builder Magazine in 1919 with a score of quotes and lines to illustrate the point.

Some of my favorites include:

“What is he that builds stronger than either Mason?”
Henry V., I, 47.

“Here, Robin, an I die, I give thee my apron.”
2 Henry VI., II, 3:75.

“The nobility think scorn to go in leather aprons.”
2 Henry VI., II, 2:14.

“Hold up, you sluts, your aprons mountant.”
Timothy of Athens, IV, 3:135.

“To hold opinion with Pythagoras
That souls of animals infuse themselves
Into the trunks of men.”
Merchant of Venice, IV, 1.

“What is the opinion of Pythagoras concerning wild fowl?
That the soul of our grandam might haply inhabit a bird.”
Twelfth Night – IV, 2

Pythagoras is a bit of a Masonic patriarch, and aprons are in abundant supply throughout the fraternity.

And I found a few more from the Grand Lodge of British Coloumbia’s page on Shakespeare:

What! My old Worshipful Master!
Taming of the Shrew, Act V, s.1.

I have not kept my square,but that to come shall all be done by Rule.
Antony and Cleopatra, Act II, s.1.

I particularly like this one, which has so much in common with the Hermetic ideas of Know Thyself.

If circumstances lead me, I will find
Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed
Within the centre.
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark Act II, s.2

Much of this comes out of the work of Peter Dawkins “Shakespeare and Freemasonry” to which he suggests:

Moments of jest in Shakespeare…often carry the deeper and more veiled allusions to the Mysteries, but this is not always so. The Tempest, for instance, gives many Masonic allusions quite openly, and indeed might be said to be a most complete Masonic play. For a start the play is based upon Virgil’s Æneid, Books III and VI. Book VI in particular deals with the ancient Mysteries, whose degrees of initiation are echoed, howbeit with different allegories, by those of Freemasonry.

How much of this is want to see the work of Masonry in Shakespeare’s plays or the real deeper mysteries artfully woven into them – this is the question!

Some suggest that Shakespeare’s work is a clever use of Gematria, the letter numerical interplay seen in the esoteric applications associated with the Kabbalah, which Shakespeare skillfully worked into illustrating his Mason Mark, the right-angle triangle. Its in this same discovery that some suggest that Kit Marlowe wrote the Sonnets because of the discovery of the Masons Mark.

Peter Bull, on his website Marlowe wrote Shakespeare, suggests:

Shakespeare seems to have been fully conversant with the Masonic symbolism of the Square – and thus the symbolism of Euclid’s 47th Proposition. We have seen in Anthony and Cleopatra (II, iii) reference to the lines:

Read not my blemishes in the world’s report;
I have not kept my square, but that to come
Shall all be done by the rule.

The Bard also makes a number of pointed references to a ‘mark’ in his Sonnets. An analysis of these, in my book reveals that their placement is not a casual matter but clearly predicated by Masonic considerations of a very exact and specific nature. They all refer to his own Masonic mark.

Marke how one string sweet husband to an other, (s8)
For slanders marke was euer yet the faire, (s70)
Marke how with my neglect I doe dispence. (s112)
O no, it is an euer fixed marke (s116)

Shakespeare’s mark turns out to be no different from that of Alexander Hamilton – the right-angle triangle. He uses it consistently throughout the Sonnets to encode his name.

The context of the first Marke actually has a clear association with a right-angled triangle. In this sonnet the discussion concerns the three-way play between ‘sweet husband’, ‘happy mother’ and the ‘child’ they bring forth; there is also, in the following sonnet, the strongest indication that the mother is a widow. This scenario brings to mind the legend of Osiris, Isis – the widow and child Horus. The most common representation of this relationship in Masonic symbolism (following Plato) is the 3-4-5 right-angled triangle: the upright represents Osiris, the horizontal Isis and the hypotenuse Horus . Therefore it’s interesting to note that the word Marke is the 828th word in the Sonnets – and 828 is the gematria value of the Hebrew words BN ALMNH – The Widow’s Son.

I’ve always been keen to the idea that William Shakespeare was really the statesman Francis Bacon, the writer of the almost eerily Masonic tale – The New Atlantis. You can spend a lot of time following the threads about their connection on Sir Francis Bacon’s New Advancement of Learning.

Shakespeare and Freemasonry by William Norman M’Daniel, from 1912 suggests something similar:

Hence, to read these plays as mere stories in dramatic form, filled in with many wise reflections, is to miss their real character. The Tempest may be read simply as such a story, and even as having a moral purpose. Sir Edward Strachey says quite aptly that it is “a mimic, magic tempest which we are to see, a tempest raised by art, to work moral ends with actual men and women,” But he fails to show how it is to bring about such a state in the actual affairs of men, say of our day or of any time. The play contains hints suggesting that it is meant to be of universal application. It will yet be clear that this play can be fairly interpreted as an allegorical drama, summing up the whole method of Francis Bacon’s philosophy, and especially his moral philosophy, as it is to affect in actual life the individual, and all the relations which men and women sustain toward each other, from the primary relations of the family to the highest, which is that of government. And when so interpreted it will be found that it is also the philosophy of Freemasonry.


I do find it to be very interesting to think about and consider Shakespeare’s involvement with the early invention of Freemasonry (I’ve had conversations that he was at the same time Grand Master of both the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons) – well before it coalesced in its 1717 founding. And, it seems that the brothers of the United Grand Lodge of England felt of like mind in 1929 when pro Grand Master Lord Ampthill, accompanied by 600 masons in full regalia, laid the foundation stone of Stratford’s Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. The UK fraternal magazine Freemasonry Today [now archived] suggests that the connection can be found in the meaning from a quote found in Love’s Labour’s Lost as it being the essence of a Freemason’s purpose: to be a builder of love.

“For charity itself fulfills the law, and who can sever love from charity?”
Love’s Labour’s Lost, IV.iii

Perhaps the mystery is the greatest clue to the bard’s mystic tie to the fraternity. Alfred Dodd, writing his examination of the plays and poems, says it unequivocally:

The story is told in the Great Shakespeare Folio of 1623 . . . the greatest Masonic Book in the world. The System was buried in secret and left to grow and root itself, like a bulb, in the dark for a hundred years. The emergence of the Masons in 1723 was a PLANNED emergence . . . …….the Centenary of the 1623 Folio. William Shakespeare was not only a Freemason, he was the FATHER and FOUNDER of the FRATERNITY, the Writer of the Rituals.

Was he or was he not to be…a Freemason?  That is the question!  Asking the questions is likely more fun than knowing for sure, but so long as conspiracy theories abound, this is one of the fun ones.  Are the greatest works of the English language and drama really manifestos of esoteric ritual word play?  We may never know.

But asking gives us more reason to celebrate the worlds greatest writer and dramatist – Happy Birthday Shakespeare.

This post was in contribution to, a tribute to Shakespeare by bloggers from all over the world to post on how Shakespeare has impacted their lives.  This celebration is sponsored by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust which owns and cares for the five Shakespeare Houses.

Masonic Toasts, festive board, lodge celebration

Masonic Toasts

Masonic Toasts, festive board, lodge celebration

We are now approaching the holiday season where we typically enjoy several year-end parties. For many Grand jurisdictions, it marks the end of the Masonic Year, and the birth of a new one. Knowing the festive atmosphere of such occasions I posted a request on the Internet soliciting favorite Masonic toasts. As usual, the Brethren responded generously. Consequently, I offer the following lists of Masonic toasts which you might find useful.

Thanks to all of the Brothers for their contributions. Be sure to read the comments for more toasts, or to add your own to this festive collection.


Note: Not so much a toast, but a Grace, which may only appeal to the Scottish who support a particular football team. Origin unknown.

God bless the meat and God bless the stovies,
God bless the Jews, the Muslims and Jehovies.
God bless the Catholics and God bless the strangers,
And if you’ve any Blessing left Lord,
God bless the Rangers!

– courtesy of Bro. Peter Taylor
Worshipful Senior Warden, Lodge Albert No. 448, Lochee, Scotland
Secretary, Lodge Discovery No.1789, Dundee, Scotland


A toast on the occasion of a Brother being passed to Fellow Craft.

Worshipful Master, Brethren,

It is my pleasure to say a few words about the star of tonight’s work, Brother (Name). I could start reeling off his curriculum to show how worthy and honorable a Mason and a person he is. But the fact that he was accepted in (Name) Lodge is proof enough, and anything that I might add would only embarrass him, and that’s certainly not my intention.

When we met for the first time, Brother (Name)’s last name brought immediately to my mind the hero of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew,” Petruchio, the gentleman from Verona who came to marry well in Padua.

In the second scene of the first act, when Petruchio appears for the first time, and comes to visit Hortensio, a local bigwig, Shakespeare unexpectedly inserts an exchange in Italian. Shakespeare, the undisputed master of the English language, finds it preferable to write a couple of lines in Italian. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps to show off, to demonstrate his knowledge of foreign languages, not only English.

For whatever reason, this is what William Shakespeare wrote:

Petruccio speaks:
Signor Hortensio, come you to part the fray con tutto il cuore, ben trovato, may I say.

And Hortensio replies:
Alla nostra casa ben venutto, molto honorato signor mio Petruchio.

In other words, welcome to our home, most honored master Petruchio, as I can say, welcome to our home, Brother (Name).

Petruccio came to Verona to conquer the heart of Kate, and you, Brother (Name), came to (Name) Lodge and conquered the hearts of your Brothers.

So let us all rise and lift our glasses. Brethren, a toast to our Brother (Name)!

Alla salute!

– Courtesy of W:.Leon Zeldis, PM
Tel Aviv, Israel

Read: The Mystical Meaning of So Mote It Be


Author comment: I do not know of any special toasts but I have often felt the need for a collection of Masonic honors which go with the toasts, such as this one for Lodge Irrigation:

Down the channel and over the wheel (with suitable gestures),
flow back to Irrigation (three times, hand and foot etc.),
and for Lodge Ibis (the Ibis is a medium sized water bird):
Dip your beak (hand outstretched fingers in a beak pointing down),
spread your wings (arms outstretched),
fly back to Ibis (hands flapping) three times,
apron heart and hands.

Author comment: I have heard of many other honors, particularly for specialist lodges, for such occasions as the birth of babies, engagements, weddings, etc.

– courtesy of Bro. Ian Alexander
Lodge Leeton-Yanco 313, UGL NSW & ACT


Toast to Grand Lodge
Toast to Queen and the Craft
Toast to the Office of President of the U.S.A (if American Brethren present)
Toast to the candidate
Response by the candidate
Toast to Visitors
Response by a visitor
Junior Warden’s Toast – Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part,
Happy to Meet Again

– courtesy of W:.Marty Brokman, PM
Bedford Lodge 638, A.F.& A.M., GRC
Toronto, Ontario, Canada


This, in Latin, is the motto of Caliburn Lodge. Translated it means, “Peace, Love and Harmony.”

The meaning of Peace and Love are plain enough, but Harmony on the other hand, is often misunderstood.

Is it merely the absence of conflict, and if so, is this a desirable goal?

Imagine a world where everyone is always in agreement with each other. Can you? Of course not! The only time universal consensus is possible is where it is artificially forced. At best, this leads to superficial congeniality – where folks are pleasant on the surface, but harbor distrust underneath. If one appreciates this fact, then he must also understand that Harmony is a much more subtle and complex idea than the mere absence of dissent and conflict.

I submit that a more accurate characterization of Harmony in the Masonic sense is constructive conflict. Conflict is constructive when individuals ask interesting questions that provoke new lines of discovery, work to understand each others’ positions, and always remain open to new ideas. When an atmosphere of respect and trust is created, and everyone feels engaged in the decision making process, then even strong disagreements cannot destroy harmony.

Isn’t this a more apt understanding of what we, as Masons, mean by Harmony? Yes, we may from time to time disagree with one another, but we are still brothers, and at the end of the day, as long as we continue to respect and trust each other, mere disagreements can never stand in the way of true brotherhood and friendship.

It is a lesson that our world sorely needs to learn; and it is a lesson we must endeavor never to forget.

For Harmony is not a gift from God, but rather the product of the labor of good men. We must work each and every day, and work hard, to create Harmony.

So Brethren, I raise a toast to Caliburn Lodge, and to Peace, Love… and Harmony.

– W:.Richard A. Graeter, PM
Caliburn Lodge No. 785 F.& A.M.
Cincinnati, OH, USA
At our Festive Board on October 5, 2006.

Masonic Toasts around the room

Thanks to R. W. Goldwyn for this extensive list.


  1. Our most Worshipful Grand Master. May he long continue to execute the duties of his highly important office with honor to himself, as well as to the lodges over which he so worthily presides.
  2. All grand officers around the globe. May they square their lives by the strictest regard to the rules of morality, and regulate their conduct by the plumb line of equity, so that when any of them shall be consigned to the silent grave, it may be inscribed on his tomb “here lies a good man.”
  3. Health, happiness, and unanimity to all the fraternity of free and accepted masons, around the globe.
  4. To all the members of the ancient and honorable craft. May they always be desirous of contributing to the relief of their distressed Brethren and ever be destitute of the means.
  5. May every Mason entertain that ardent and generous good will to his Brother, which makes his Brother’s situation his own, and do to all as he would they should do to him.
  6. To all ancient Masons, wherever dispersed and oppressed. May they soon find friends able and willing to relieve them.
  7. May every Mason, who Is desirous of assisting a distressed Brother or his family, be always possessed of the means.
  8. All regularly constituted lodges throughout the globe. May peace, harmony and love predominate in all their meetings and happiness be the portion of every member, in his individual capacity.
  9. May the funds of all lodges be managed in such a manner, that the distressed widows and orphans of deceased members may never have the mortification of applying for that relief of which they stand in need, but cannot obtain.
  10. May we be more studious to correct our own faults, than to promulgate the errors of our Brethren.
  11. May no honest heart ever know distress.
  12. May the fragrance of a good report, like a sprig of acacia bloom over the head of every departed brother.
  13. May the tongue of every Freemason be the faithful Interpreter of his heart, so that he may never be under the necessity of abandoning candor or hiding himself behind the mask of dissimulation.
  14. May we strive to resemble our divine Master, in promoting as far possible the happiness of all mankind and when we cannot succeed, may it be for want of ability, never for want of inclinations.
  15. May we enter apprentices to virtue; be fellow-crafts with charity; and always masters of our passions.
  16. The heart that conceals, and the tongue which never reveals.
  17. The immortal memory of the Widow’s Son.
  18. The good Samaritan. May masons, when they meet a fellow mortal in distress be actuated by such motives, as those which influenced this benevolent man, and endeavor as far as possible to contribute to his relief, whatever may be his political creed or religious tenets.
  19. May we be guided to happiness by wisdom, supported in virtuous resolutions by strength and may beauty adorn our beds.
  20. Sincerity! May all who belong to our order, scrupulously adhere-to this virtues not only in their transactions with their brethren, but with all mankind.
  21. May all Masons strictly adhere to truth; wisdom, virtue, and happiness will be the concomitants of such conduct.
  22. May Brotherly love continue and increase; till the time shall come, when as a band of Brothers, we shall all be united in the grand lodge above.
  23. Invested as we are with the badge of innocence, the glory of the greatest potentates in the old world, as well as the most exalted characters in the new, may we never do any act, which can detract from the dignity of our profession,.
  24. May every Mason be obedient to all lawful orders of his superiors, friendly to his equals, and condescending to his inferiors.
  25. May every Freemason’s heart have the freedom of chalk, the fervency of charcoal, the zeal of friendship; but not the hardness of marble, when a distressed brother makes his demand.
  26. May universal benevolence be the plumb line of all our actions
  27. May every Mason endeavor to attain a thorough knowledge of himself.
  28. May the square form our conduct through life; the level and plumb line remind us of our condition, and teach us to walk perpendicularly and act uprightly.
  29. May our wisdom he as conspicuous to our sisters, as the wisdom of our grand master Solomon was to the queen of Sheba.
  30. May every free and accepted Mason rise in the East, find refreshment in the South, and when he rests in the West, may he enjoy the same reward as was bestowed on our patron St. John, that of being the disciple, whom the savior. of mankind loved.
  31. The American fair. May virtue, modesty, grace and love, endear them to the affections of their husbands.
  32. Success to every Mason, who stands plumb to his principles, yet on a level with his Brethren.
  33. The President and constituted authorities of the United States. Though in the lodge, we can have nothing to do with political disputes, we must all unite in wishing health and prosperity to the magistrates of our country.
  34. May the breast of every Freemason be an ark for charity, from whence shall flow assistance to the widows and orphans of their deceased Brethren.
  35. May the rays of celestial light dart from the east. illuminate the west and may perseverance remove the keystone which covers truth.
  36. May the Royal arch cover every honest mason’s heart, and overshadow all who act up to the true principles of the craft.
  37. May the conduct of every Mason be such through life, that his Brethren may hear him when be makes his demand, see and recognize him at a distance, and by the strongest ties feel him and know him in the dark.
  38. May the Bible rule and guide us through life; the square, square our actions, and the compasses circumscribe the bounds which we are to keep with all mankind, especially with a Brother.
  39. May Masonry flourish till nature expire. And its glories ne’er fade till the world is on fire.
  40. The Craft. Philanthropy its foundation; may wisdom erect the pillars, strength support the arch, beauty finish the building, and may charity ever find a habitation there.
  41. The immortal memory of our late most Worshipful brother, general George Washington, the father of his country, and the friend of man.
  42. Our Sisters. May we ever regard them with the eye of affection; may their virtues ever meet our kind and tender embraces, and may we ever deserve from them the character of all affectionate Brothers.
  43. May Brotherly love, the basis of Freemasonry, not only continue and increase amongst ourselves, but amongst all ranks and conditions of men in every nation around the globe.
  44. May secrecy, good fellowship, morality, and an ardent desire to promote the happiness of each other be the polar star of every Mason.
  45. May Masonry flourish and vice decay.
  46. May the two great parallels be our guide to the grand lodge above.
  47. May every Mason, as far as may be consistent with prudence, contribute, to the wants of his fellow mortals, particularly to those of his Brethren; may he ever put the fairest construction on the conduct of his neighbors, and before he censures others “let him look at home.”
  48. May Masonry continue to flourish till time shall be no more.
  49. May it be deeply impressed on the heart of every Mason, that there is no real felicity for man, except in reforming his errors and vices and entering upon a strict and constant course of virtue.
  50. Religion! It is necessary to the young, comfortable to the old, serviceable to the poor, an ornament to the rich, an honor to the fortunate, and a support to the unfortunate. May every Freemason ever be actuated by its divine precepts.
  51. May the heart of every Mason be conformable to the divine will, and his actions void of offense towards his fellow mortals.
  52. May we as Masons be affectionate to our friends, faithful to our Brethren, obedient to the laws, and just even to our enemies; and may it ever be a maxim of our creed, to fear death less than the least reproach of our conscience.
  53. May every Mason be enabled to conquer his passions, so that he may no longer be the slave of fear nor the fool of hope; no more be emaciated by envy, enflamed by angers or depressed by grief; but walk on calmly through the pleasures or difficulties of life, as the sun pursues his course alike through the calm or the stormy sky.
  54. The great Masonic virtues faith, hope and charity. May every one, who belongs to the fraternity ardently cherish them in his heart, and may they be productive of good fruits in his life and conversation.
  55. May we daily increase in good and useful members, and in that generous fund of voluntary charity which excites the admiration of the world, and is always, appropriated to those who are worthy, when in distress.
  56. May the whole Brotherhood continue constant in good works, and adorn their profession, whilst arts and learning flourish amongst men, even to the end of the world.
  57. The secret and silent.
  58. All mankind.


  1. To SOLOMON, the luminary of the EAST, and WASHINGTON the glory of the West.
  2. To all those who steer their course by the three great Lights of Masonry.
  3. May every Mason who stands in need of Friendship be able to say EUREKA!
  4. May the Tuscan order support us; the Ionic guide us, and the Corinthian reward us.
  5. May we never feel want, nor never want feeling.
  6. The Brother who stands plumb to his principles, yet is level to his Brethren.
  7. May every Mason rise in the East, find refreshment in the SOUTH, and be, so dismissed in the WEST, as to find admission into the middle chamber to receive the reward of a GOOD MAN.
  8. May the altitude of our virtues, ever be at high twelve.
  9. To each faithful Brother, both ancient and young, Who governs his passions and bridles his tongue.
  10. The heart that conceals, and the tongue that never reveals.
  11. May we learn to be frugal, before we are obliged to be so.
  12. Pleasures that please on reflection.
  13. May we never meet an old friend with a new face.
  14. The woman we love, and the friend we dare trust.
  15. May the single be married, and the married be happy.
  16. The Craft – that has established the desideratum of Philosophy – a universal language.
  17. May we never be unmindful of Judas’s fate.
  18. May each Mason revere, the book, compass and square.
  19. To those whom we love, and to those who love us.
  20. May we correct our own faults, before we publish those of our Brethren.
  21. Great men Honest, and honest men Great.
  22. Riches to the Generous, and power to the Merciful.
  23. Love to ONE, friendship to a FEW, and good will to ALL.

To HIM who all things understood,
To HIM, who furnished stone and wood,
To HIM, who nobly spilt his blood—
In doing of his duty;
We hail the day! we hail the morn!
On which those three great men were born!
Who did the TEMPLE thus adorn

– courtesy of R:.W:.Ronald M Goldwyn, LMPS

The Toast to the Visitors

From Australia, the toast is in the form of a poem called. “The Toast to the Visitors.”

Tonight I have the pleasure
To all I must confess
To give to you this toast
To our Visitors and our Guests

The fellowship that you bring tonight
Is something that can’t compare
You know we like to see you
And glad that your always there

The harmony, the chat and jokes we have…
With our old and new found friends
We wish it could last for hours
And somehow never end.

But… all good things must come to an end
And we go our separate way
We hope you enjoyed yourself tonight
And return again someday

And now I ask the members to stand
To raise a glass in cheer
To toast to all our visitors
Who supported us this year
Our Visitors

I understand that this poem is quite old and comes from England.

– Lord Peter Wright Lodge No. 156
Alice Springs, Australia

Keep the Faith.

Freemasonry From the Edge
Freemasonry From the Edge

by W:.Tim Bryce, PM, MPS
Palm Harbor, Florida, USA
“A Foot Soldier for Freemasonry”

Originally published on FmI in 2007

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this essay are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of any Grand Masonic jurisdiction or any other Masonic related body. As with all of my Masonic articles herein, please feel free to reuse them in Masonic publications or re-post them on Masonic web sites (except Florida). When doing so, please add the following:

Article reprinted with permission of the author and

Fred Milliken,Freemason Information,The Beehive

A Case For Decentralizing American Mainstream Tribal Freemasonry


Fred Milliken,Freemason Information,The BeehiveFreemasonry in the United States is at a crossroads and now is the time to do some soul searching and make some tough decisions.  The question that needs to be asked is, are Freemasons going to continue to allow the erosion of the power of the local Lodge?  Are they going to halt the spread of invasive, centralized Grand Lodge rule over every aspect of Freemason’s lives?

The plain fact is, ALL FREEMASONRY IS LOCAL. That was not a contested notion in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The power of decision making rested in the local Lodge and Grand Lodge was more of a facilitator and adviser. It was once the job of Grand Lodge to organize its territory and attend to the ceremonial functions of grandeur and pomp leaving the “running of the business” to each individual chartered Lodge. Oh, there were broad guidelines including in some jurisdictions Landmarks to go by. But in reality the Grand Master used to function much as the present day King or Queen of England does.

That has all gone by the board. We have a new era of Grand Lodge dominance with strict top down rule. Right about now the reader will butt in with the thought that Freemasonry is not a democracy. Well, yes and no. The Worshipful Master of the local Lodge has and has always had unlimited power to rule and govern his Lodge.  He can rule it as a democracy or he can rule it by Master’s edict. He has by-laws, rules and regulations of Grand Lodge and the Landmarks to abide by. In generations past Grand Lodge requirements were of a general nature leaving broad room for local interpretation and application.  Not so today. Grand Lodge rule is very specific and detail orientated.  While the Lodge Master has always been granted absolute power within the guidelines enumerated, the Grand Master has never traditionally been granted such power.

It is only since the 20th century that Grand Lodges and Grand Masters have usurped power and decision making from local Lodges. There are two plausible reasons that we might surmise for the Grand Lodge power grab.

  1. The failure of local Lodges to address the problem of declining membership
  2. The over commitment to buildings, charities and other Grand Lodge promises that could no longer be affordably sustained in the light of a drastic decrease in money coming in.

Where there is a vacuum, someone, something will rush in to fill it. But we need to ask ourselves as Masons is this the best course of action? Is this the best way of governing ourselves or are we actually stifling creativity and strangling development?

Glenn Beck offers some observations in his new book Broke that are applicable. While they are made in the atmosphere of the civil, political world, they can offer Freemasonry some insight.

“The world of innovation and the world that is our federal government are on two separate bullet trains headed in opposite directions. Technology is getting smaller, faster, and is doing more with less; the federal government is getting bigger, slower, and doing less with more.  The new trend in business is decentralization; the trend in government is exactly the opposite.”

“Over the last century the government has taken control of virtually everything it could get its hands on, from education to energy, from finance to health care.  It’s hard to understate the enormity of what has happened, but consider this: The number of federal regulators has more than tripled over the last fifty years to keep up with the government’s growth.”

“And yet, for all the talk about innovation and technology, most of government’s policy prescriptions remain surprisingly clunky and outmoded.  When they want to ‘fix’ the auto industry, they appoint a czar.  When they want to tackle environmental issues, they appoint a czar. Health care?  Green jobs?  Bank bailouts?  Czar, czar, czar.”

“It’s ironic, but to cut through the bureaucracy and get things done, politicians like to create another level of bureaucracy.”

“That, of course, is the opposite of how successful companies operate.  The tendency in business is toward shifting away from centralized technology and a top down management style and replacing it with a looser, flattened, decentralized management.  Out with the old mainframe computer, in with the iPad; out with middle managers in corporate headquarters, in with franchise owners or branch managers who have real authority.”

“The reason this trend is happening is simple: It works.  Just look around at the companies that are doing well.  I can guarantee you that very few of them have a centralized bureaucracy with workers paid to punch the clock instead of innovate, create and make informed decisions.”

“Technology is decentralizing power and giving individuals more choices and freedom at lower costs and higher quality.  The internet itself is about as decentralized a system as could ever be created (although some are even trying to centralize control of that). You can pick the applications you want on your cell phone, do your banking online, buy virtually any product on the planet, and get news from a whole host of sources, some as small as an individual, some as large as a Fortune 500 corporation.  And that’s exactly the point: Decentralization helps create more freedom.”

“We are in the midst of a revolution in decision making and control and the reason is simple: Decentralization improves performance, generates new innovations, and empowers individuals by encouraging them to take on greater responsibility in return for greater potential rewards.”

So which model should American Mainstream Freemasonry emulate? There is today a large Masonic presence on the Internet.  Is there a need for a Masonic Internet Czar with centralized control to rule and govern Internet Freemasonry?

Where we are today is one step below a feudal Masonic system.  In Middle Age England (and elsewhere) Earls and Barons ruled all powerful little fiefdoms much like Grand Lodges in Mainstream Masonry have in every state. The only difference is that in the feudal system money and homage and support had to be passed onto the King.  We have no National Grand Master in the United States. That makes our American Masonic System tribal, a bunch of smaller kingdoms, inside the larger territory we know as the United States, answerable to no one.

If you look at Afghanistan today you see a tribal system of government. The President is a mere figurehead, all power being rested in warring tribes. Some African nations have the same model. Before the white man came to America Native American tribes ruled the land. Tribal governance is perhaps the worst way to organize and rule a territory. The levels of dissimilarity grow in a tribal territory and often there are clashes and jealousies. Mexico is on its way to becoming a tribal territory as warring drug cartels assume power the government used to posses.

Tribes develop their own particular styles and ways of doing things that are often quite different from other tribes in their area. This tends to blur any concept of nationality, leaving residents not citizens of a country but rather members of just a tribe.

The antidote to tribalism is not outlawing tribes and replacing them with an all powerful, centralized government, but rather diffusing any institution of total control, restoring localism with a federated national consensus.

That describes where we are at today in American Freemasonry. A host of tyrannical Masonic fiefdoms have been empowered, allowing each jurisdiction to make up whatever rules it desires, often times rules and regulations that destroy the real meaning of Freemasonry. Not only is there no American Masonic identity, neither does the tradition of ALL FREEMASONRY IS LOCAL exist anymore. Local Lodges have been stripped of all of their power.

All the recent cases of tyrannical Masonic abuse by Grand Lodges are directly proportional to the amount of centralized power they have grabbed. There is nothing in the history and traditions of American Freemasonry that permits lifting of a Lodge’s charter without reason or recourse, expulsion without a Masonic trial, all Masonic trials held at Grand Lodge, refusal to allow private Masonic websites in the jurisdiction, automatic expulsion for legal Masonic discourse via E-Mail, not allowing sponsorship of DeMolay & Rainbow or for them to meet in a Masonic Lodge and the list could go on and on.

Beck tells us this:

“Professor Lino Graglia of the University of Texas Law School once explained that keeping power decentralized and at a local level ‘controls tyranny’ and produces greater diversity and respect for individual preferences. ‘It can be shown arithmetically,’ Graglia wrote, ‘that as an issue is decided by larger units, involving more people, the likelihood increases that fewer people will obtain their preference and more will be disappointed.’”

The choices before us are really narrowed to three.

  1. The status quo – which most will choose
  2. A National Grand Lodge
  3. Decentralization

Choices one and two will only prolong the agony and are or would be the major cause of disillusionment within the Craft.

The Autobiography of Mark Twain aka Samuel Clemens

An 86 Year Old Book Review

The Autobiography of Mark Twain aka Samuel ClemensLooking for something to read, I went back into my library and pulled out a copy of The Autobiography of Mark Twain which I have had since High School.

I’ve always been an admirer of Samuel Clemens’ work, but I have to admit I balked at taking his autobiography seriously years ago. This time though, I was in the proper frame of mind and wanted to know more about the renowned author and humorist, not so much about the facts and history of his life, but more about his perspective of the times. I wasn’t disappointed.

The book was originally published in 1924 (fourteen years after Twain’s death) and basically consists of sketches describing his life spanning the years from 1835 to 1910, which is known as a very rich period of American history. He describes life prior to the Civil War, his involvement during the war, and the expansion west. I found his narratives of life in the Midwest, both as a child and an adult, particularly colorful and interesting. Clemens did a remarkable job describing life as a boy living on a farm. His description of the foods of the period made me hungry and I could vividly visualize the school he attended and life on the farm.

I’m afraid African-Americans will not be too happy with the book as Twain uses the “N” word liberally, but not maliciously. It was just the way people talked back then. There was no ulterior motive for using the word, nor venom in his language, it was simply a snapshot of the times. Nonetheless, African-Americans may call for the book to be banned from schools if they read it.

As a writer, I found his rich vocabulary, sentence structure, and punctuation particularly interesting. It was much different than what I am used to in the 21st century. Unlike today where we typically try to gorge ourselves on a novel as expeditiously as possible, Twain’s style forces the reader to slow down and savor each sentence. You can tell that it was written by a craftsman intimate with the English language.

His humor is also different. Instead of today’s “in your face” approach to comedy, Twain mischievously takes the reader down an unknown path where he inevitably springs a humorous conclusion on you. It is not backslapping funny, just elegant humor very tastefully presented. His anecdotes are always designed to teach a lesson and cause a chuckle in the process.

I wanted to read his autobiography, not so much to learn about his family history, which he volunteered reluctantly, but more to understand his perspective of the times which I found was essentially no different today than 100 years ago.

He made a few comments that particularly caught my attention; the first was the cycle of life, to wit:

A myriad of men are born; they labor and sweat and struggle for bread; they squabble and scold and fight; they scramble for little mean advantages over each other. Age creeps upon them; infirmities follow; shames and humiliations bring down their prides and their vanities. Those they love are taken from them and the joy of life is turned to aching grief. The burden of pain, care, misery, grows heavier year by year. At length ambition is dead; pride is dead; vanity is dead; longing for release in their place. It comes at last – and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence; where they achieved nothing; where they were a mistake and a failure and a foolishness; will lament them a day and forget them forever. Then another myriad takes their place and copies all they did and goes along the same profitless road and vanishes as they vanished – to make room for another and another and a million other myriads to follow the same arid path through the same desert and accomplish what the first myriad and all the myriads that came after it accomplished – nothing!

The second observation that caught my attention was his comments regarding success. In the book, he comments on the many bad business deals he had made in his lifetime which cost him dearly. He also missed an opportunity to invest in Alexander Graham Bell’s new invention, the telephone. However, an acquaintance of Twain’s invested $5,000 in the company and was paid back many times over thereby causing the writer to observe:

It is strange the way the ignorant and inexperienced so often and so undeservedly succeed when the informed and the experienced fail.

Concerning heroes:

Our heroes are the men who do things which we recognize with regret and sometimes with secret shame that we cannot do. We find not much in ourselves to admire, we are always privately wanting to be someone else. If everybody was satisfied with himself there would be no heroes.

On writing, which I wholeheartedly agree:

…when the tank runs dry you’ve only to leave it alone and it will fill up again in time, while you are asleep – also while you are at work at other things and are quite unaware that this unconscious and profitable cerebration is going on.

Although Clemens was known to be a Mason (Polar Star Lodge No. 79, St. Louis, MO) there was no direct mention of his affiliation with the fraternity in the book. However, there were a couple of passages that suggested Masonic influence (I believe it was “wrong, cheat or defraud” and something else along those lines). The only other Masonic connection was Clemens’ meeting with Bro. Rudyard Kipling (Hope and Perseverance Lodge No. 782. E.C., Lahore, India, and one of the original forty Fellows of the Philalethes Society). Clemens spoke at length of his meeting with Bro. Kipling while the latter was but a young 24 year old visiting the United States for the first time. In his travels, he made it a point to look up Clemens where he was working in Elmira, New York.

Although they only met for a couple of hours, Kipling impressed Clemens by his breadth of knowledge, causing Twain to write:

He is a stranger to me but he is a most remarkable man – and I am the other one. Between us, we cover all knowledge; he knows all that can be known and I know the rest.

Samuel Clemens was a past master of the anecdote. His autobiography was assembled more as a collection of such stories as opposed to a flowing history. I appreciated his cogent comments regarding the world of the 1800’s. His ability to paint a picture with words and tell a story was like taking a ride on a time machine. I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed the trip, but I’m not sure today’s younger readers would feel likewise as his stories are less about the complexities of life and more about the simple truths of living it.

Most book reviews are printed either just prior to publication or shortly thereafter. I apologize for the slight delay.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.