Freemasons in the Grand Lodge of France (GLNF) are livid with French Grand Master Francois Stifani for entering the political arena and are threatening to desert to the Grand Lodge of Spain (GLE).
GM Stifani wrote in a letter to French President Nicolas Sarkozy:
“I will help you everything you need in your projects, as Masons do my obedience to you. You are the first president with whom we fully agree. And you can count on our order to carry out its future reforms.”
In a rough translation from El Confidencial Sarkozy reportedly wrote back:
“I trust you certify and support given to me, comfort me in my determination to continue the reform movement initiated to bring our country to new emergencies and give it a place in the evolution of the world.”
The issue in the GLNF resulted in GM Sifani refusing to call Grand Lodge into Session to debate the issue, his resignation as President of GLNF while keeping his Presidency of the organization or foundation.
Now the French Masons are in court to bring the issue to a head (shades of Frank Haas).
Meanwhile some GLNF members have contacted the Spanish GLE as to the likelihood of joining the Spanish Grand Lodge.
Spain has recently emerged from its own Masonic problems with current Grand Master Oscar Alfonso cleaning up the mess left by the previous Grand Master Jose Carretero.
I wonder what this all has to say about the Right of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction that some American scholars have written originated in Europe?
If Masonry had a patron saint in Hollywood, Nicolas Cage would be the guy.
I’ll admit, there are a lot of actors who in the past fit the bill including the stalwarts like John Wayne, Audie Murphy, Ernest Borgnine, Clark Gable, or Roy Rogers. Some amongst that list have been more vocal and out front about their affiliation, which is, in the end a personal choice.
No, I say patron saint to Masonry because Cage seems to have a track record of making movies in and around the subject matter that circles that of Freemasonry without any open connection to his affiliation with the fraternity.
Think of it as a parallel line of thought, or of art imitating life.
I don’t think the making of these films is to suggest that Cage or his producers are doing it intentionally. Hollywood films, as you’ve seen in the end of film credits, involve a lot of people with a degree of diversity from film to film. The common denominator in this scheme is types of roles played by Nicolas Cage himself.
Is he doing it intentionally or is there some cosmic push that’s at work directing Cage towards these roles?
This is just a quick list of films that, I think, could be argued as being pro-Masonic or at least positive towards Masonic tradition.
National Treasure 2004
The Wicker Man 2006
National Treasure: Book of Secrets 2007
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice 2010
Season of the Witch 2011
Now these are just a few of the 60+ films he’s stared since his silver screen debut in 1980, but in these six films, you can get a sense of a recurring theme.
National Treasure, released in 2004, we find Cage playing amateur historian and treasure hunter Benjamin Gates who after deciphering a secret code on the back of the U.S. constitution, stumbles on to the lost treasure of the Knights Templars, protected in modern times by the Freemasons, who we meet in agent Sandusky as played by Harvey Keitel.
The Wicker Man, a remake of the film of the same name from 1973, has Cage playing Edward Malus, an American policeman who goes on the search for his missing daughter, when he inadvertently finds himself in the middle of an English Wiccan/Pagan Society to become the Burning Wickerman himself at the end. The link to Masonry, though less obvious in the film, is that modern Wiccan/Paganism was founded by Freemason Gerald Gardner who popularized its reemergence in the 1950’s.
National Treasure 2 saw the return of Benjamin Gates on the trail of the Book of Secrets, which included mentions of the Scottish Rite’s Albert Pike, and the founding fathers. The pre-release advertising of the film leaned heavily on the Masonic connections of its predecessor, while this film itself focused on another “fraternity” the Knights of the Golden Circle. This films success has been successful enough to the talk of a National Treasure 3 in the future.
In Knowing, Cage played Professor Jonathan “John” Koestler, Astrophysicists by day and numerologist (read here gematria, the Hebrew system of words and phrases assigned by their numerical value as seen in the study of Kabbalah) by night that discovers the secret coming end times by decoding the written number sequences found in a 50 year old school time capsule.
Though less overt, the film plays up his ability to read the prophecy and down his ability to its inevitability.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice from 2010, while a remake of the animated Disney film of the same name, held true to this same series where Cage played Balthazar Blake, a sorcerer trained by Merlin who’s magic is more akin to Alchemy and the power of the mind, a theme prevalent in many Rosicrucian circles and similar to the idea of the Kybalion, that everything is mental – the power of the mind. A strong theme in the film links the ideas of magick to modern physics and the science behind energy.
In the new film Season of the Witch, Cage plays Behman, a long standing (Templar?) Knight of the crusades who grows weary of the holy Catholic Church’s work in slaughtering innocent people, only to be pulled in to one last mission to save an innocent girl possessed by the spirit of a powerful demon. How to slay the demon and its ilk is a Latin reading of the “Wisdom of King Solomon”, a powerful spell that destroys witches and demons.
Again, this is only 10% of his on screen time, but its not terribly hard to see a pattern here of Knights Templars, Freemasons, Magick/Alchemy/Kabbalah, and King Solomon each of which are keys components to the study of Freemasonry.
Without a doubt, one could argue that just as much of his work is about quirky guys doing quirky things – from stealing cars in Gone in Sixty Seconds to stealing Diapers in Raising Arizona.
But none of his filmography follows the same pattern of the six films listed above, and even fewer actors in Hollywood have the same resume of cinema choices that parallel such a recurring theme, unless their character is reprising a role in a sequel. Harrison Ford comes to mind in the Indiana Jones franchise, but here again he is playing a reprisal of a character, not a different character with a recurring thematic undercurrent.
So how does all of this make Nicolas Cage the Silver Screen Saint of Freemasonry? Simply by continuing to play roles in films where he champions the ideas of the fraternity, even the more esoteric ideas, and by keeping it in a positive light.
Will every viewer of these films see the connection? Probably not, but for those with eyes to see, with so many loose connections its hard to miss the underlying current. The other possibility is that Cage has simply been typecast as the ‘guy’ who plays these roles so successfully at the box office that he has become the go to man for the everyman cinema esoteric.
Who knows, based on his resume, maybe we’ll see Cage in the role of Robert Langdon in the film adaptation of The Lost Symbol as its rumored that Tom Hanks may have scheduling conflicts.
In the meantime, pop some popcorn and spend a few evenings watching Cage in these movies and see if you don’t see some connection deeper than a square and compass on a ring or on the bumper of a car as with most Masonic mentions in movies. You might just see him as a patron saint of Masonry too.
What is “Masonic Intercourse” many Masons ask? The definition can mean many things and different authors have given their opinion as to the actual purpose of having it in our rituals.
In The Meaning of Masonic Obligation, PGM R.V. Harris of Nova Scotia defines Masonic Intercourse as, “…to refrain from Masonic Intercourse with outsiders, and with irregular Freemasons and to discountenance all irregularities and immoralities.” Well, this is still not clear enough to define or determine its meaning. The web-site, “The Beacon Light of Freemasonry”, gives another definition which states, “Masonic communication, or as it is alternately called, Masonic Intercourse, involves any type of communication involving sharing the secrets of masonry. Primarily, that is sitting in a tyled lodge session, which is any type of Masonic meeting where the general public is NOT allowed, or where the qualification for attendance is being a Mason.”
The truth is that we must clearly and truly understand the difference in what we call “Masonry” vs. what some want to create out of it. There are two forms of Masonic Intercourse. There is the verbal (exoteric) which we are aware of, but many are not aware of non-verbal (esoteric) communication. The verbal is common understanding, as we would clearly understand that if you communicate with a clandestine (Bogus) Mason about the modes of recognition like passwords, grips and signs, you are in strict violation of your obligation. You can communicate verbally limited aspect of esoteric messages via words, but not many are Masonically educated enough to reach that level. Now, what we fail to realize that there is such a thing as non-verbal communication (esoteric). This is where some lose sight of the meaning of communication. Non-Verbal communication is a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, behavior, dress or gathering. It is to be in sync with one another for a common goal. It is like a tuxedo ball. Everyone is in sync until someone enters with jeans and sneakers. As the jeans and sneaker guest walks in, a communication automatically is transmitted via a non-verbal transmission. He is automatically out of place due to his appearance. Non-Verbal communication does not always reveal a negative existence and is hidden in its esoteric engagement. When we do not realize we are communicating or engaged in communication, we are blind of the effects it can cause. Masonic Intercourse is an exchange of verbal and non-verbal communication between parties whether you are communicating with legal Masons or not. Being invited to, accepting and attending in your Masonic regalia at a function such as an official Divine Service or St. John’s Day from a so-called Masonic group that is clandestine and irregular is Masonic Intercourse.
In Prince Hall Masonry, we have functions that we consider Masonic in nature that are called, “Divine Services, Prince Hall Day, and St. John’s Day” to name a few. In these events, we are clothed in formal Masonic regalia. We do so in reverence to our founder “Brother Prince Hall” and to reflect the struggles this organization has gone through and how we have evolved throughout two centuries. Most importantly, when our leadership is clothed in Masonic attire, we are representing the craft. When your Grand Master or his representative at anytime wears his jewel and apron, he is representing “Grand Lodge”. It is an official act. This is a form of “communication or communicating”. Communicating in the above fashion is clearly Masonic in nature as we are dressed in the order of business for the purpose of an official Masonic gathering. It is Masonic intercourse. In the above events, we must clearly recognize a few things.
Although no modes of recognition are displayed, through the very act of presenting ourselves in full regalia, we are communicating to each other the respect of accepting each other as equal (i.e. a Peer).
Although non-Masons are allowed, it is a form of education to advocate unity, love and admiration to one another within the fraternity. However, if a clandestine Mason (Bogus) is dressed the same, our act of acceptance is considered “irregular”, and that is only if we accept them as peers.
We are a distinct organization different from college fraternities, social organizations, political parties and most important, the average citizen.
Because of the struggles, of our path finder within this organization, we agreed to follow our progenitor’s path.
Lastly because of our rich history and knowing who we are and where we came from, that we will not devalue our institution by sympathizing and recognizing what our ritual and constitutions recognize as clandestine and irregular. That is, so-called Masons that belong to groups that cannot prove that they came from a competent Grand Body that empowered them to work.
Let us investigate what is “Clandestine”? Macoy’s Encyclopedia describes clandestine Lodges as “Lodges which have been formed by avaricious Freemasons, who take money from those people who have no idea of the difference between warranted Regularly Constituted Grand Lodge and one that is not regularly constituted.” History demonstrates that many of the bodies that call themselves Masonic in African American communities, were organizations established by suspended or expelled Masons. Why are we today placing our guards down against groups that have not come via the same regular or similar way as those who are known to be regular?
Their threat to legitimate Prince Hall Freemasonry is threefold:
They deprive our lodges of potential good recruits, and deprive those men of the opportunity to become genuine Masons;
Many of them bring Masonry into disrepute in the eyes of the general public by conducting degree mills for profit; and
Their very existence, and often their conduct, cause confusion among those mainstream Masons who assume that all Blacks calling themselves Masons are of Prince Hall Affiliation, and also among some Prince Hall Affiliated Masons who are tempted to place racial solidarity ahead of legitimacy of origin and global Masonic acceptance.
This is not to say that Prince Hall Grand Lodges do not have their problems, however, here in New York, we have a record within our proceedings and recorded transactions via committees that show the complications we have had in our state, due to Bogus and Clandestine Masonry.
Let us get back to “Masonic Intercourse” as this is our main focus and in truth really define the crux of the matter. In true Universal Freemasonry the pigment of a man’s skin has never been a signature of regularity, nor gives him the same rights as a member of a legally established Masonic Fraternity. However, in the history of Freemasonry in the United States, the concept of race has reared its ugly head and, has been a barrier to the acceptance of men of color, in particular “Prince Hall Masons”. Nothing is more sensitive than a subject that touches on racial lines especially when speaking of our own community. We must not confuse our various relationships and associations with individuals, social clubs, political organizations, college fraternities, or churches, to name a few, with Universal Freemasonry. Often times we believe that anything that looks like us are us. This is not always true. In my opinion, we do a severe disservice to ourselves and our organization by communicating with Bogus Masons in the act of accepting them as our peers by being fully regaled in Masonic gatherings that we hold dear to our organization. There is nothing wrong in educating them of history and our organization, as many of them are good timber and practice Masonry in their hearts, but we must understand that there is a difference between “Masonry and Freemasonry”. Freemasonry is the institution and it has specific rules found in our Constitution and Masonry is the original nature of the Universe.
We do not realize that the moment you enter a gathering in your esoteric garb known as gloves, apron, and jewels with a clandestine Mason, you have just committed Masonic Intercourse whether you initiated it or not.
Some of these so-called Grand Lodges are considered “Spurious” in nature, because spurious can be considered bodies of illegitimate birth, outwardly similar or corresponding to something without having its genuine qualities. It is a so-called Masonic entity that falsifies or erroneously attributes its origin to some non-existing Masonic source. It is deceitful in nature. Remember, if a thing is false, it cannot be a fact in its representation. The only fact is that a spurious Lodge is a false Masonic body. The word “spurious” was used in England as far back as 1824 when they considered lodge No. 557 spurious. This spurious Lodge met at an inn called, “The White Bear” and thereafter “The Royal Hotel”. Many who are spurious or even part of a spurious body do not know the origin of his Grand Lodge/Lodge, and are hoodwinked with false pretense that he has joined a respectful organization thinking that its main objective and cause is for the upliftment of humanity, never noticing fraud or deceit. Many good Men have been sucked into these organizations by way of ignorance. They, along with clandestine and irregular bodies, have often used the false history of Masonry and in particular the history of Prince Hall Freemasonry. They have used the mud throwing of calling us paupers of charters, beggars of recognition, and even calling Prince Hall Masons racist of their own kind, not knowing that although an organization with a make-up of predominately men of color, we have hundreds of white Brothers in our ranks.
On June 6, 1956, M.:W.: G.M. L Ernest DuBois in his address under Clandestine Masonry went on record as per the minutes of the 111th Annual Grand Communication:
“As like the two (2) previous subjects, this too has received a considerable amount of attention, not only in this jurisdiction, but throughout the Country by White and Negro Masons alike.
Our White Brethren have seen and read enough about Prince Hall masonry to the extent that they are fairly well convinced of our legitimacy and while they do not accept us as a group, they do, to a great extent, accept us as individual Masons, and as a whole do not consider us a threat to the Masonic Institution, just so long as we do not conduct ourselves and our activities in such a manner that it will bring reproach upon the Masonic Fraternity. This is an indication, in my opinion, based upon conversations with a few of our outstanding White Brethren that like integration, recognition by this group is on the way, but do not get the impression from these remarks that, like prosperity many years ago, it is just around the corner. This is far from the case, but there is a great interest in this subject on the part of our White Brethren and I hope and pray that if and when such recognition is accorded all Prince Hall Masons, we will be ready to accept it and will be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with Brother Masons throughout the World. Much depends upon the manner in which we conduct our affairs and the interest we take in, not only our Lodges, but our share of the community responsibilities.
“Several months ago your Grand Master addressed a communication to Grand Master Amos T. Hall of Oklahoma, and the President of the Grand Master’s Conference, in which was suggested that a committee composed of representatives of the Grand Master’s Conference, together with representatives of the Concordant Bodies, and the Shrine, convene for the purpose of discussing the subject of clandestine Masonry and suggest ways and means by which this great evil might be over-come. Several Jurisdictions have taken these groups into court and decisions in favor of the Prince Hall Jurisdictions have been handed down, but at a great expense financially. It was in my mind that if a concerted effort could be made, sponsored by the Grand Lodges and National organizations, a much more effective job might be done and in a much shorter space of time. In due time Grand Master Hall answered my communication and informed me that he appreciated the suggestions and would discuss it further at the Grand Master’s Conference.”
“While attending the conference the week of May 20th, Brother Hall informed me that about the same time he received my communication, he was the recipient of a like communication from the Sovereign Grand Commander, II. George W. Crawford, inviting him to come to the City of Philadelphia prior to the Supreme Council Session to discuss this matter with him and his officers.”
“It gives me pleasure to report to this M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge that definite steps have been taken in this direction. The Officers of the Supreme Council, together with the Imperial Council of the Shrine, have pledged their support to the Grand Master’s Conference to assist in combating clandestine Masonry. President Hall has been empowered by the Conference members to select a committee to work with the aforementioned groups for the purpose of study; the securing of data relative to clandestine masonry and in due time make recommendations as to how best to handle the situation. This, I believe, is a step in the right direction- at least a more concrete step than ever taken before and another indication that the entire Prince Hall Family is going to pull together toward one end. And I am just conceited enough to feel that New York State has had a small part in a great undertaking.”
I believe that our Brothers of the past had a better understanding of what was happening around them and focused on the good of the organization. Today, we have leadership who accepts Bogus Masons as their peers and recognize them as Masons only because the majority look like Prince Hall Masons in complexion, wear Masonic paraphernalia, meet in buildings labeled “Masonic Temple” or hold Masonic titles. Is this a good and wise reason we should accept and embrace these organizations as “Masonic”?
In my article, “Education For A People Unaware”, I stated:
“Regularity is a big question for most. Many have no clue what it really means. In the search for truth, we must investigate all the parameters that make up the substance of that which is to be considered for evaluation. Certain standards must be used for guidelines in which to measure against the intended interest of one’s choice, whether it’s an object or viewpoint. Freemasonry has been established centuries ago by Ancient Landmarks, Ancient Charges, Constitutions, and many unwritten laws. Taking basic attributes that make up regularity such as establishing Lodges from a “competent jurisdiction empowering it to work”, or abiding by the ancient charges in which most follow Anderson’s Constitution, you will see that many Lodges or Grand Lodges which erected them-selves illegally did not follow these basic rules. Lodges in order to be regular must have been established by a regular Grand Lodge. It must be truly independent and self-governing with undisputed authority over Craft Masonry. Freemasons under its jurisdiction must be Men having no Masonic Intercourse with Lodges, which admit Women or Clandestine Masons. You must believe in a Supreme Being, and take the obligation over a Volume of Sacred Laws. The three great lights must be displayed with the Square and Compasses, and finally to follow the tenets of Freemasonry to name a few.”
Most rituals of the day have some clause or state that you will not be at the in****, pas**** or rai**** of a clandestine Mason, so why are we going to joint events in our Masonic dress with individual that you are prohibited from witnessing their in****, pas**** and rai****? How can I be obligated to not be present at their initiation and advancement, but recognize them by being in function with our esoteric clothing representing Masonry? I do not know one man that can dress up as a Police Officer and think he can arrest crooks just because he has a police uniform, gun and badge and impersonates a cop. You can save hundreds of lives by impersonating a Doctor and practicing medicine without a license does not make you a physician. Making a certificate or degree on your computer does not mean you have a Masters like the many so-called charters that bogus Masons produce. Some even get a charter from the state and confuse the public and regular Masons as if a state charter is equal to a Masonic one.
In Massachusetts in 1903, a decision was made about John G. Jones, an attorney in Illinois and member of the MWPHGL of Illinois after his expulsion that:
The MWPHGL of The State of Massachusetts, does not and will not affiliate with or in any way recognize Masonically, any person affiliating with, recognizing or in any way having Masonic Intercourse with John G. Jones, recently expelled from Masonry by the MWPHGL of Illinois, or with those with whom he is in affiliation.” This was signed by GM William H. Jackson, and attested by Benjamin C. Hazel, Grand Secretary”.
In New York, In accordance with the foregoing communication, Most Worshipful Edward V.C. Eato at the time Grand Master of the MWPHGL of New York issued an edict warning the Lodges and their members not to have any Masonic Intercourse with Jones or his representatives under pain of punishment for contumacy.
Here is one example of a Prince Hall Mason being expelled from Masonry and today, the Grand Lodges that he created and their splinter groups have disguised themselves as legitimate bodies. Why are some of our leadership engage in fellowshipping instead of educating these groups of their origin?
On June 9, 1961 (116th Annual Grand Communication) Report by the Committee on Clandestine Masonry.
“As secretary of the Committee on Clandestine Masonry, I wish to make the following report: A Bogus Mason is a Bogus Mason. Perhaps a ‘faker’ is more appropriate term. For generations particularly during the second half of the nineteenth century deceptions, hoaxes, and ruses have been prostituted upon Men of Color in the fair name of legitimate Freemasonry. These would be Masons, or better styled, Masonic pirates, have worked there will of misbrands as they see fit, not recognizing the fact nor caring to that an entire race of people were being victimized, retarded and delimited, and very much so.”
“Some perpetrators may indulge in this fraudulent practice for the pure enchantment and needed treat it affords, others, for the monetary gains, power and self-esteem, it would rightly offer. Whatever the reason, it effects perversion and confusion. Masonry among Men of Color is made impure and the defiled stream reeks with a regurgitating stench of impurities and foreign bodies.”
“To be sure, deception and hoaxes have prevailed in the character of men from earliest times. It would seem to be innate within the personality of some. “Skim milk masquerades as cream,” and someone or some group is the unwitting recipient. The Old Testament tells the story of Jacob’s calculated deception, and also his dupe, to which he in turn was subjected (Genesis: chapter 27-29). From Homer, various Greek plays, medieval romances, and the deceived appear. Ellery Queen’s famous mysteries not to be excluded.”
“It should be perfectly clear in the mind as a consequence why some Negroes have entered and prospered in the business of bogus Masonry and why some individuals are ready made dupes of same: the cultural gap, lack of education and appreciative understanding, and the complexities surrounding a myriad of problems, also, imposed restraints moreover, encourage such malpractices. Such is the position of the American Negro and his continued role in Freemasonry, in a new decade, dedicated to Human Rights and the Betterment of Humankind.”
“At our 113th Grand Communication (1958), recognizing an indisputable “urgent need,” Grand Lodge did empower a special committee, the expressed purpose of which was to reduce and totally eliminate clandestine bodies and their fragments.”
“The first concern or object of this Committee was to identify the field. This having been done, it became necessary to determine believable procedure targeted to eliminate bogus bodies operating within our Grand Jurisdiction. Realizing that a Masonic millennium among “Men of Color” would not occur overnight, we took the immediate as well as the long view of our mandate. All objective evaluation of the prevailing situation leads us to believe that we had a long, tedious, and perhaps costly fight on our hands. This and all else, in order to rid Negro Masonry of this blight, and prevent future defiling of the pure stream.”
“A comprehensive and imaginative program was subsequently developed and formulated. In this fight, the Committee was firmly convinced that, every permissible tool in any permissible way should be used to advance our interest.”
“In the process of shoring up our court case, and future cases notwithstanding, a large amount of basic research became readily apparent. At first, we may have been under some form of self-delusion, as relative to our so-called secure position. However, we were abruptly confronted with bald reality as we attempted to olympicly wade through seven “examinations before trial.” What primary evidence we lacked, what points we were completely uneducated upon, were enough to give us pause. Nonetheless, at this time, we can report that our position has been advanced.”
“In conclusion, I wish to affirm the fact that, The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York must commit the full strength of its great capacity, in order to realize its object. The full energy and vitality of the Craft is imperative. It is hoped that at the 117th Grand Communication, we can report that everything is in progress.”
Harold A. Wilson, Secretary
Committee on Clandestine Masonry
There will be more information when I complete my book, Bogus Masonic Outfits, The Danger to Prince Hall Masonry.
It is my feeling that Freemasons are by nature creative people, that is serious students of the Craft and not MINOs (Masons In Name Only). Some serious Freemasons are painters, some are sculptors, some are publishers, some have radio programs, some are musicians, some are actors, some own and operate large Masonic websites, others Masonic Internet Forums, some are magicians, many are teachers and clergy and a whole bunch are writers. And if an active Freemason doesn’t fit into any one of those categories he will at least tend to be a prolific reader. Now not all Freemasons fit into this mold but the percentage that do are very high. A person in the arts sees something in Freemasonry that draws them to it.
Twenty-eight year old Brother Hando Nahkur fits the mold described above. He is a concert pianist, a native Estonian who came to the United States 8 years ago. His first stop was Yale University in Connecticut where he spent 3 years studying music with Boris Berman, followed by 2 years at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston with Gabriel Chodos, and then 3 years in the music program at Texas Christian University (TCU), Fort Worth, Texas where he is still matriculating under the tutelage of Tamás Ungár.
Nahkur is not done with his studies at TCU. Already in possession of a Masters Degree in Music he hoped to finish his DMA (Doctor of Music Arts) but an opportunity has risen, a great honor, which he cannot turn down, that will delay his further education. He will participate in the quarter finals of the 9th F. Liszt International piano competition at the Spring Festival in Utrecht, The Netherlands in March 2011. Auditions took place in Shanghai, Moscow, Utrecht and New York City. Over 200 pianists auditioned but only 24 were chosen, and Nahkur was one of those 24.
Nahkur also studied in Estonia before coming to the United States. He made his debut with the Estonian symphony orchestra at the age of sixteen. He went on to perform with the Orchestra of the Estonian National Opera.
While he frequently performs solo Nahkur has performed with the Bergslagen Symfoniker, the St. Andrews Festival Orchestra and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. He has played at the Amersterdam Concertgebouw in the Netherlands, the theater of Markopoulous Mesogeas in Greece, Vienna Konzerthaus in Austria, H. Reimann Hall in Switzerland, the Teatro Eden in Italy, the Casa de la Cultura de Reynosa in Mexico, George Weston Hall, Toronto, Canada, Harris Concert Hall, Aspen, USA, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Jordan Hall, Boston, USA, Steinway Hall, New York City, USA, Ed Landreth Hall, Fort Worth, USA and the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, USA to mention a few.
He has played in 22 of the states of the United States, in Costa Rica, Italy, Sweden, Germany, Finland, Estonia, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, Israel and Russia. Nahkur has garnered top prizes in both national and international piano competitions, including top prizes in Estonia, Italy, Greece, Russia, USA and Canada. In 2005 he was awarded the Golden Medal of Merit from Toronto, Canada.
Nahkur was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason in Newton, Massachusetts at Waltham Triad Lodge in the Fall of 2007. The cause of his interest in Freemasonry is a story that should be paid attention to by members of the Craft who seek to add new blood. During his stay in Boston, Nahkur attended a music concert that just happened to be held at the auditorium of the Scottish Rite National Heritage Museum in Lexington, Massachusetts. The exhibits there piqued his interest and he started asking questions. Some who were in his party that were Masons answered his questions and one ended up bringing him to his Lodge in Newton. Within the year he was a Master Mason. And within another year he had moved to Texas and affiliated with Fort Worth Lodge #148 of the Grand Lodge of Texas AF & AM, where he is the Lodge’s musician –
Nahkur in addition to being a performer is an arranger of music and he plays and arranges some popular and romantic music as well as classical pieces. He also teaches music part time. His favorite classical composer is Liszt with Chopin and Schubert runner ups. His upcoming concerts include Boynton Beach, Florida in February and his native Estonia in April.
He is ecstatic with the rave reviews he has received on his latest CD, DeusExClavier. On his coming trip to Utrecht, Brother Nahkur hopes to go to Lodge there and meet Freemasons from the Netherlands. He speaks Finnish, Estonian, Italian and English languages. If you were to talk to Nahkur there are two character qualities that would stand out, his passion for what he does and what he is and his discipline.
If you would like to hear a sample of his playing and learn more about this talented Freemason, visit his website
There only remains to be said – not bad for a man of twenty eight years.
Chris Hodapp over on Freemasons for Dummies does a terrific job of capturing the exchange of Glenn Beck and David Barton, from the Wallbuildersministry organization, on the Fox News Channel in an exchange over the Founding Fathers and Freemasonry.
As Br. Chris captures the exchange perfectly, there seemed to be more misinformation given than factual info. See for yourself in this clip from the program.
I won’t get into the facts of the program, but as discussed by Barton such as Washington’s sincerity in Masonry, his lodge activity, or the difference between American and European Masonry at the time. One document I will point you towards is The Origin of Freemasonry written by a contemporary of Washington, one amongst the pantheon of founding fathers, Thomas Paine. I’m sure Barton may glean much from this short work.
As for Beck, if you haven’t’ paid close attention to his program lately, he has laid a foundation of the Founding Fathers atop the gestalt of Faith, Hope, and Charity even promoting it so far as to create his own university of the triumvirate as the great virtues. Samuel Adams as Faith, George Washington as Hope, and Franklin as Charity which unmistakably two of the three were prominent Freemasons, one of whom was a Grand Master of Freemasons in Pennsylvania in 1734.
But, to Beck, the principals of Faith, hope, and Charity (as seen on these products) are the principals that, he says, are Christian principals which Beck has tied to American Principals and supports with the edifice of the founding fathers. He’s developed it to a point that he’s formed his own Beck University to impart them. While the ideas behind these great social virtues are rightly extolled, what Beck missed is that Faith, Hope, and Charity were ideas adopted into Freemasonry as three tenants by which the Mason were to strive for, but not I would argue, in the way Beck suggests.
Faith – a faith in the divine, the Great Architect, the primitive idea of deity that all men can agree, founded on the Golden Rule, the principal of Do unto others as you would have done to you.
Hope – As an idea that stretches into antiquity as an evil released from Pandora’s Box which entered the world to torment man.
Charity – Is a simple idea that translates to the agape styled love, a fraternal brotherly love towards mankind, which facilitates the other two.
These are three subjects I cover in much greater detail in the book Masonic Traveler.
So, if Beck and Barton won’t brush up on their Masonic history maybe you can help let him know and send him an email to email@example.com with your thoughts about it.
This new venture emanates from Sheffield, England and bills itself as “A Bridge between different traditions of scholarship“. In essence this undertaking will publish scholarly contributions in regards to fraternalism in its many forms blending in culture, art, history, music and other disciplines while maintaining a Masonic focus. Its high level of scholarship is evident as the Journal sees itself as “a scholarly journal following strict rules of assessment, peer-review and rigid quality control.”
The JRFF will not be tied to any Grand Lodge as it joins the growing number of scholarly undertakings who do not want to be encumbered by the restrictive definitions and rules of individual Grand Lodges nor Apologists for them. Rather it will be an independent voice employing freedom of inquiry and broadening the scope of research into currents of social, political and cultural crossovers.
Editor Andreas Onnerfors explains why JRFF is needed at this time.
“The historiography of one of the oldest and most fascinating fraternal organizations – freemasonry – has for a long time been dominated and guided by internal needs. Academia has only relatively recently discovered that a better understanding of freemasonry and related fraternal organizations offers a fascinating insight into the many neglected fields of social, cultural and political history. And Masonic scholars have realized that broadening the scope and rigour of research will reveal new insights about their own organizations, alongside a deeper understanding of its proper place in the history of events and ideas.”
I found in its just published first edition a most interesting article which I could access without becoming a member. Nationalism, National Identity and Freemasonry by Timothy Baycroft was a work which I found extremely well written and one that rang my bell.
First there must be an understanding of the concept of “nation.” Baycroft lets us know that this is no easy task.
“One can measure the area, population, Gross National Product (GNP), and identify the institutions of a state, but nations are conceptual, emotional, abstract entities which may be associated with a state, but can only be grasped through their representations, symbols, and the understanding of those who consider themselves to belong to the nation.”
So look here! Freemasons are not the only ones who employ symbolism. And words are not the only or even best way to allow the human brain to conceptualize an abstract concept. But Baycroft doesn’t stop there. Every cake has to have its icing.
“Like nations, freemasonry can also clearly be understood and conceived as an ‘imagined community.’ This is true both in the sense that the number of masons has always been far too great to be known personally, and that members project into the wider community their own individual understanding of the meaning, values and culture of the association as a whole” (bold added by The Beehive).
So we can’t know everybody, yet to have a mass identity something must bind us together. Thus it is the mere fact of abstract imagining using symbols, artistic expressions (statues, music etc.) and shared beliefs that nations and Freemasonry bind themselves together. For just one example, with nations it may be the flag and with Freemasonry it may be the square and compasses which bonds complete strangers into a common community.
For years I have seen the American Masonic scene as one of separatism and parochialism. While some see much merit in that method of organization I have always felt distanced and a lack of bonding, of closeness and community with other American Masons. It even goes so far as to see so much difference between American Grand Lodges that some even seem un-Masonic.
Nobody in the world has as many regular, recognized Grand Lodges in one nation as the United States of America. Fifty Grand Lodges in Mainstream Masonry and around 40 recognized Prince Hall Grand Lodges with more to come pushes the number of separate Grand Lodges in the U.S.A. to bordering on 100. Nobody else in the world even comes close, not even Canada and Australia. And that fracturing of power leads to differences and differences lead to separate ways and separate ways lead to jealousies and animosity. American Freemasonry is like a football team with no coaches. Each player does his own thing and the concept of “team” is ignored.
That has led me to advocate a greater sense of cohesiveness through political means such as a National Grand Lodge or an American Masonic Constitution and Bill of Rights. The fracturing of power in American Masonry has led to a fracturing of fraternalism. In this time of high mobility and “The Information Age” the world is supposed to be getting smaller, everywhere I guess but American Freemasonry.
But I no longer call for a political coup d’état of American Freemasonry but rather a sense of American identity whereby we think of ourselves as American Masons first and Masons of our individual states secondarily.
And nobody reinforces that change of thought on my part better than Timothy Baycroft. We can create symbolism that will allow an “imagined community” to develop from sea to sea. The effect would be to enlarge the Masonic community and bring it into the 21st century where high mobility and the use of the tools of the Information Age will send ripples of wider and wider interconnectiveness, like rocks skipped on a pond.
The pride in which we hold America and the traditions of our hard fought heritage of liberty and freedom need to spill over into our Masonic culture to reinforce the Brethren with a sense of cultural-political-fraternal community.
Marching forward with an American identity, American Freemasonry can forge elements of common purpose and practice, uniting all American Masons in a cooperative effort without diminishing the authority or the hegemony of individual state Grand Lodges.
Many books have been written about Freemasonry’s “occult” symbolism, the assertion of its quasi religious practice, the connections between Freemasonry and the founding fathers, and the bizarre layout of Washington D.C. Each of these texts offer a glimpse into the present tense fraternity, as they ask the same questions that many masons themselves ask. But those books fall short of answering questions put forth by those without any prior knowledge of the craft. That is why this book is a must read for anyone asking the question “What is Freemasonry?”
As the fraternity enters into the 21st century digital age, there needed to be an answer to that question. There needed to be an easier way to communicate the particulars of what Freemasonry is today, right now, which is at the heart of this free e-book.
I encourage you to download the e-book, read it, and share it with others. As you go through it, I hope that it will help you to explore the questions put forth in it that describe what the modern fraternity is today and how it exists in the present.
With the Illuminati back in the news with the release of Angels and Demons, we wanted to get to the bottom of all of these pervasive conspiracy theories that seem to keep popping up, and what better way to do it than on a Masonic Interweb show!
Were not just going to take Geronimo’s skull out of the closet, we really want to get to the bottom of why these ideas exist, who their greatest proponents are, and if in the information age they can stand the test of common sense.
The Freemasons, the Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Trilateral Commission, The Bilderberg Group, Bohemian Grove…
Well, we all know that the Freemasons are behind it, right?
Are there really any conspiracies out there that are seriously bent on control of the world?
In the small town of Long Pine, Nebraska (population 326), there exists a Masonic lodge that is truly on the upswing. Long Pine is in an area that I am very familiar with and I have many fond memories of the beautiful Sandhills region of Nebraska. However, anyone who lives there will tell you that it is sparsely populated and would probably be considered by most Masons as a region where it would be difficult, if not impossible, to operate a dynamic and growing Masonic lodge. Despite living in this sparsely populated area, Long Pine Masonic Lodge has found ways to make itself a thriving organization of which its members are very proud.
Long Pine has about 37 members, a quarter of which live outside of Long Pine and the lodge members have an average age of 55. Typically, 10 or 11 people attend meetings which is an impressive percentage of its members since many lodges have less than 10 percent of members attend meetings. There are no other Masonic organizations in Long Pine, the Eastern Star and York Rite organizations that used to exist there have disbanded and closed their doors. Faced with the burdens of a dilapidated building and an uninspired organization only a few years ago, the Brothers of Long Pine decided it was time to take matters into their own hands.
The lodge’s web master Alvin Benemerito, a Past Master, says that the organization “Had a resurgence of pride in membership in the lodge” in 2007. The lodge members decided to renovate their facilities themselves rather than hire expensive contractors. The roof was leaking badly and the lodge needed a new heater among other problems. The lodge members donated materials to the renovation and offered their craftsmanship. They replaced the ceiling and Brothers donated refrigerators, ovens, and a pellet stove along with pellets for heat. “We keep telling our members that this is our house,” said Alvin Benemerito. To cover the expenses of renovating the lodge building and maintaining their refinished quarters, the Brothers created a budget and mailed it to all members showing how much they needed to raise dues in order to keep their lodge open. Their straightforward approach worked and the lodge raised its dues from $30 a year to $75 a year. The lodge also rents out part of its facilities to a Brother’s business for $200 a month to cover expenses. The lodge does not do any fund raising. But Long Pine Lodge realizes that it isn’t only the facility which makes the organization successful, but the experience it provides to its members.
With the permission of Nebraska’s Grand Lodge, Long Pine began using the Chamber of Reflection as part of its Entered Apprentice degree conferral. This ceremony requires that a candidate sits alone in a small room prior to his degree where he is asked to write down responses to questions such as “Why do you want to join the fraternity” and “What do you expect from the lodge?” in order to remind him of the reason that he petitioned the lodge. The candidate is given the questions prior to his admission into the chamber of reflection so that he may prepare his answers and the responses are read openly in lodge prior to the degree conferral. This capitalizes a very thorough admission process which involves a formal meeting with candidates to clearly explain the obligations to the lodge that they will assume as a Mason. The lodge also requires that candidates complete the full form proficiency and prefers to not send candidates to any one-day degree conferrals because the lodge wants the work. “We don’t care if it takes them a year to be a Master Mason,” says Brother Benemerito. The lodge also opens in the Entered Apprentice or Fellowcraft degree whenever it must in order to keep all of its members engaged in the lodge’s activities as soon as they become a Mason.
The lodge’s members also wear special attire. “We wear dark suits, dress aprons, and white gloves,” says Alvin Benemerito. The aprons are UGLE style dress aprons and the dress instills their members with a sense of pride. Brother Benemerito says that the members have come to regard the lodge meeting as a special occasion. He says that “we come to lodge because we enjoy each others company. We don’t come to lodge to say let’s hurry up, we’ve got to go somewhere.” The lodge recognizes that some Brothers may not have or be able to afford a dark suit so they have acquired a number of suits from Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and other sources which are stored in the lodge building in order to be given to a Brother in need. “It becomes a culture, it becomes a custom of the lodge,” says Brother Benemerito. The lodge publishes all of its degree conferrals and events in the local newspaper. Fathers will often see their sons who have just received their degree surrounded by men in suits and purchase a suit for their son to wear when they go to lodge.
The lodge has one stated meeting and conducts a lodge of instruction every month. They have regularly featured educational sessions during which a Masonic paper may be read. However, many of the meetings are consumed with the busy work of restoring the lodge. After every lodge meeting, the Brethren of Long Pine Lodge have a light meal or snack along with a wine tasting. “We’re learning to be wine connoisseurs,” laughs Benemerito before he adds, “They all taste the same to me!” This provides the lodge with fellowship time and the Brethren are very careful to ensure that they do not convert the means of refreshment into intemperance or excess.
The Brothers also participate in a number of activities to enrich the community. They display and retire the flags for the Long Pine cemetery for Memorial Day. The members conduct a Lodge of Military Tribute that they have performed at lodges throughout the state and their travels together have built strong bonds of Brotherhood between them. They have also put on an event for the Child Identification Program, but Alvin Benemerito was very adamant when he said “We do what we enjoy doing, not because we have to do it.” This attitude defines the lodge which operates in order to meet the needs and desires of its members. A number of awards are available for lodges through the Grand Lodge of Nebraska, but Long Pine Lodge does not take the time to worry about submitting the paper work necessary to receive an award.
Brother Benemerito operates the lodge’s website which has two noticeable features. The first is a number of high quality pictures of the lodge which show its impressive regalia, beautifully remodeled facilities, and smiling Brothers. “Pictures paint thousands of words, you can visually see what the lodge is doing,” says Benemerito, who takes pictures at every lodge function and publishes them on-line. The other excellent function of the lodge’s website is a yellow pages section for all of the lodge members’ businesses. These yellow pages help lodge members stay connected with each others’ business services and has been a good incentive for lodge members to remain active.
The lodge members exhibit a great amount of pride in their lodge and do not view Long Pine Lodge as a gateway to other Masonic organizations. “It’s hard to sell something you don’t believe in,” says Brother Benemerito, “We would like to give a special Masonic experience in the Sandhills of Nebraska.”
You can find out more about Long Pine Masonic Lodge and view their numerous photographs at their website.
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