The golden Fleece in Freemasonry

The Golden Fleece

The golden Fleece in Freemasonry

Masonic tradition informs us that the lamb skin apron is more ancient than the Golden Fleece. Ancient being the operative word, just what exactly does that implication imply and how is the Golden Fleece remembered in more contemporary times as it may relate to the apron given to the newly raised entered apprentice?

Golden Fleece, Argonaut, Argo
Jason and the Dragon
Print by Salvator Rosa, 1661-1666
Jason casts a sleeping potion given to him by Medea into the eyes of the dragon guarding the golden fleece.

In Greek tradition, the fleece of the Ram Chrysomallus, was the object of Jason and the Argonauts expedition.

The mythological story of the Golden Fleece begins in the telling of the story about Phrixus and Helle who were the children of the goddess Nephele (a cloud nymph) and Athamus. The two part ways allowing Athamas to remarry Ino, who, in turn, becomes jealous of her step children, Phrixus and Helle, hatching a plot to do them in. Ino destroys a seed crop and then sends messengers to consult with the oracle at Delphi on what to do. To put her plan into motion, Ino persuading the messengers to return from the Oracles with prophecy that to restore the fertility of the fields Phrixus would need to be sacrificed.

Nephele, seeing the ruse, sends a golden ram to rescue her children, losing daughter Helle in the process as she falls into the Hellespont (known today as Dardanelles, which is a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara). Phrixus, makes the trip safely arriving at Colchis where he marries the daughter of King Aeetes. In celebration of the rescue and the marriage, Phrixus sacrificed the winged golden fleeced ram to Poseidon returning its soul to the deity in turn creating the constellation Aries.

knightly order, ram, golden fleece
Philip the Good
Duke of Burgundy,
Founder of the
Order of the Golden Fleece

In his appreciation, Phricus gives the pelt (the Golden Fleece) to Aeetes, the king of Colchis, who placed the in an oak tree defended by bulls with hoofs of brass and breath of fire. It was also guarded by a dragon with teeth which could become warriors when planted in the ground. Here it remained until Jason and his band of Argonauts arrived to claim it.[1]

So goes the story of the Ancient Golden Fleece. Thought to be the oldest of Greek poems, Argonautica Orphica, and the telling of Jason’s quest to capture the Fleece appears to originate somewhere in the 5th or 6th century CE.[2] The Hellenistic epic Argonautica dates to a period of the 3rd century BCE.[3]

Wells, in his Builder article on the subject, mentions a knightly order called the Order of the Golden Fleece which was a celebrated Order of Knighthood in Austria and Spain, founded by Philip III, Duke of Burgundy and the Netherlands, at Bruges, on the tenth of January, 1429, on the occasion of his marriage with Isabella, daughter of King John I. of Portugal.[4]

Wells says:

This Order was instituted for the protection of the Roman Catholic Church, and the fleece was assumed for its emblem, from being a staple commodity of the Low Countries. The founder made himself Grand Master of the Order, a dignity appointed to descend to his successors; and the number of knights, at first limited to twenty-four, was subsequently increased.

Contests arose between Spain and Austria as to the possession of this Order of Knighthood, which were finally adjusted by introducing the Order into both countries. In Austria the Emperor may now create any number of Knights of the Golden Fleece from the nobility. If Protestants, the consent of the Pope is required. In Spain, Princes, Grandees, and personages of peculiar merit are alone eligible to membership in this Order.

It’s said that the Duke’s stated reason for founding the Order was:

for the reverence of God and the maintenance of our Christian Faith, and to honor and exalt the noble order of knighthood, and also …to do honor to old knights; …so that those who are at present still capable and strong of body and do each day the deeds pertaining to chivalry shall have cause to continue from good to better; and .. so that those knights and gentlemen who shall see worn the order … should honor those who wear it, and be encouraged to employ themselves in noble deeds…

An interesting biography exists on the Order through an association, La Confrérie Amicale de la Toison d’Or, dedicated to preserve its history. It says of the Order that the the meaning behind the use of the Fleece goes deeper than merely being a Hero’s Quest, saying,

It is clear from the icon of Jason on the early Golden Fleece insignia that the daring voyage of the Argo to bring back the sacred Golden Fleece from the edge of man’s known world touched Philipp deeply and helped inspire his dreams. The Argonauts were few in number, carefully selected for their nobility and talents and dedicated to the most noble of causes that also held religious and humanitarian importance. It is these values that we see in the statutes of the Order of the Golden Fleece.

Given the use in the degree as an ancient symbol, it seems unlikely that the knightly order is the point of reference within the Masonic degree. More likely is the mention of the fleece in the aspect of the Hero’s Quest, including allegories to jealousy, selfishness and sacrifice.

Wells goes on, saying,

The legend of the Golden Fleece, for which the Argonauts searched, is like the story of Masonry, a search for that which was lost. It is familiar to most readers of poetry and myths, and is interesting as being among the first known voyages of discovery.

Jason escaping with the fleece

Interestingly, Jason went on the quest for the Fleece in order to reclaim his kingdom from Pelias, an almost Biblical parallel to the story of Moses suggesting a deeper borrowing of Greek tradition in the writing of the Old Testament narrative.

Albert Mackey, in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and its Kindred Sciences (1914), says of the Fleece that it is “…evidently not to the Argonautic expedition in search of the golden fleece, nor to the deluge…but to certain decorations of honor with which the apron is compared” suggesting instead that the “…Order of the Golden Fleece was of high repute as an Order of Knighthood. It was established in Flanders, in 1429, by the Duke of Burgundy, who selected the fleece for its badge because wool was the staple production of the country. It has ever been considered…one of the most illustrious Orders in Europe” making it the “the highest decoration that can be bestowed upon a subject by a sovereign of Great Britain. But the Masons may have been also influenced in their selection of a reference to the Golden Fleece, by the fact that in the Middle Ages it was one of the most important symbols of the Hermetic philosophers.”

Interesting here that Mackey traces the distinction of the Fleece to the chivalric order and not the more widespread mythology of the ancient world. One line of thought that deserves greater exploration is the importance of the Golden Fleece to the Hermetic philosophers and what, if any connections that bears to Freemasonry.

As an aside, there is some (Masonic) suggestion that the Golden Fleece story suggests the bringing of sheep husbandry, grain, or wisdom to Greece from the east or the panning for gold with sheep’s wool in the ancient world.

The Golden Fleece has made its way into the material culture such that it exists in several iterations in film and in video games. In the World of Warcraft MMORPG universe as a unique drop trinket that “May cause extra gold to drop whenever you kill a target that yields experience or honor and is a sign of wealth and status amongst the Saurok.” which perhaps supports the notion of it being a symbol of authority and kingship. It also made an appearance in the game God of War II where it can be seen hanging from the mouth of a cursed Cerberus that had devoured Jason.

 The quest for the fleece was also the subject in the 2013 film Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. In the film, the teen Argonauts quest to find the Golden Fleece (with the power to heal anything) to rescue their diefic haven from oblivion.

Golden Fleece Sochi

In a more modern parlance for those wanting to undertake the quest for the ancient wool, artists Piotr Khrisanov and Jakov Matusovski have recreated the mythical Golden Fleece in Sochi, Russia.  The monument aims to bring back the symbol of prosperity to the Black Sea town near where Jason and his crew went searching for the fleece in Caucasus. Made of bronze and covered in a layer of gold, it’s suggested that it weighs roughly 5 tons.  A sister monument will be erected in the Greek city of Volos, which is believed to be where the Argonauts had set out for their campaign.

However you look at the Golden Fleece, in past or present telling, it still remains an emblem younger than the apron of a Mason.

[1] THE ORPHIC ARGONAUTICA – Pseudo-Orpheus 4th c. CE or laterm translated by Jason Colavito (2011)
[2] Argonautica Orphica –
[3] The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Argonautica, by Apollonius Rhodius
[4] Excerpts of The Presentation of the Apron by Br. John W. Wells, from the Builder Magazine October, 1915
Freemason Tim Bryce.

D-Day +70 Years – We Will Always Remember

A tribute to our Normandy vets, and a history lesson for our youth.

On this anniversary of the D-Day invasion, we would be wise to remember the sacrifices and hardships our veterans endured to liberate a continent. Through their eyes, we see the true character of America and the price of freedom. The French certainly haven’t forgotten, nor should we.

Codenamed “Operation Overlord,” the Allied invasion of Europe via Normandy, France was conducted 70 years ago today. Most of the veterans of the largest amphibious invasion of all time have since passed, but we should be mindful of their achievement and the sacrifices they bore. It was their job to cross the English Channel and breach Hitler’s formidable Atlantic Wall, laced with a million land mines, booby traps, anti-tank traps, miles of barbed wire, battle hardened troops, and concealed fortifications with heavy armament. The Germans were commanded by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the legendary “Desert Fox” from the North African campaign. As such, the Allies recognized this would be a daunting task.

The Supreme Allied Commander was General Dwight Eisenhower, better known as “Ike.” It was his job to plan, organize and implement this massive invasion. Devising a suitable strategy would prove difficult. The conventional wisdom at the time assumed the Allies would invade at Pas de Calais, representing the shortest distance between England and France. Not surprising, this area was heavily fortified by the Germans in anticipation of the crossing there. Realizing the considerable number of soldiers and equipment needed to make the invasion a success, Eisenhower needed to rely on the element of surprise. Consequently, Normandy was selected. In addition to the strategy, the job was made complicated by the number of Allied countries involved, the number of personnel and equipment required, the weather and lunar cycle, which dictated the tides, and some slight of hand to keep the Germans off balance. To this end, Eisenhower devised an entire phantom army around General George S. Patton, using decoys, props, and fake signals. The charade caused the Germans to believe Patton would lead the invasion at Pas de Calais.

The politics and logistics of assembling the invasion under tight secrecy was incredible, and a tribute to Eisenhower’s determination, organizational skills, and political finesse. Ike hinted at his approach by saying, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” In reality, Eisenhower had to walk a fine line not to offend any of the Allies involved with the invasion. This included not showing favoritism to the Americans and belittling the British. As a result, overall command of the ground forces was given to Britain’s Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.

160,000 Allied soldiers would land on June 6th, a day after the original target date, delayed due to inclement weather. They were supported by nearly 5,000 ships of varying sizes and shapes, making it the largest armada ever assembled. The troops landed on the Normandy coast which was divided into five sectors codenamed:

Utah Beach – represented the right flank, the most western side of the attack. The US 4th Infantry Division met light resistance there.

Omaha Beach – was the most heavily defended and where Allies suffered the most casualties. Here, the untested US 29th Infantry Division was joined by the veteran 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One).

Gold Beach – was charged to the British 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division.

Juno Beach – was charged to the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division and commandos of the Royal Marines.

Sword Beach – was located closest to the town of Caen. It was charged to the British 3rd Infantry Division who met armored resistance from the 21st Panzer Division.

Pointe du Hoc – was the highest point between Utah and Omaha Beaches and heavily fortified by the Germans. US Army Rangers scaled the cliffs and overcame the Germans.

Just prior to the invasion, thousands of Allied airborne troops invaded behind the lines at Normandy under the cover of darkness. Their mission was to secure bridges and strategic locations until relieved by troops coming from the beaches. At the town of Sainte-Mère-Église, American paratroopers suffered heavy casualties as they descended on the town, thanks in large part to a building on fire and illuminating the night sky, making the soldiers easy targets. Many other paratroopers fell into fields deliberately flooded by the Germans. Burdened by considerable equipment, many Allied soldiers drowned.

Eisenhower’s attack caught the Germans by surprise, including Hitler and Rommel, causing them to react slowly. Nonetheless, 12,000 Allied casualties were recorded on the first day, with 4,414 confirmed dead, and several others missing. The Germans would lose 1,000 men, small by comparison. Although the Germans were finally able to mount a counterattack, the Allies had secured Normandy and began to move inland. Two months later, they would liberate Paris. Eleven months later, the war in Europe would be over.

Those who survived the invasion were left with indelible impressions of their experience. In a letter to his wife Mabel, Army Chaplain and 2nd Lieutenant John G. Burkhalter described his experience on landing at Omaha Beach with the 1st Infantry Division:

“When my part of the Division landed, there were impressions made on my mind that will never leave it. Just before landing we could see heavy artillery shells bursting all up and down the beach at the water’s edge under well directed fire. As I stood in line waiting to get off the LCI to a smaller craft to go into shore, I was looking toward land and saw a large shell fall right on a landing craft full of men. I had been praying quite a bit through the night as we approached the French coast but now I began praying more earnestly than ever. Danger was everywhere; death was not far off. I knew that God alone is the maker and preserver of life, who loves to hear and answer prayer. We finally landed and our assault craft was miraculously spared, for we landed with no shells hitting our boat.

Nobody can love God better than when he is looking death square in the face and talks to God and then sees God come to the rescue. As I look back through hectic days just gone by to that hellish beach I agree with Ernie Pyle, that it was a pure miracle we even took the beach at all. Yes, there were a lot of miracles on the beach that day. God was on the beach D-Day; I know He was because I was talking with Him.”

Chaplain Burkhalter would go on to receive the Bronze Star for valor, the Silver Star for gallantry, and the Purple Heart for injuries sustained. His full letter was published in the Miami Daily News on Sunday, August 6, 1944.

Many memorials have been erected to commemorate World War II, but the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial has particular significance for D-Day veterans as it represents the final resting place of 9,387 Americans who perished at Normandy, and 307 graves are marked unknown. Another 1,557 names are inscribed on a wall there who lost their lives but could not be located or identified.

At the cemetery during the 40th anniversary of D-day, President Ronald Reagan asked, “Where do we find them? Where do we find such men? And the answer came almost as quickly as I had asked the question; where we have always found them in this country; on the farms, in the shops, the stores and the offices. They are just the product of the freest society the world has ever known.”

And that’s just the point, the lesson taught by the veterans of D-Day, and all the other veterans who fought for our country is simple, Freedom is not free. It has to be paid for by the sweat and blood of those willing to fight and protect it. We must be mindful of their sacrifice well after the last Normandy veteran has passed.

As Reagan said at the 40th, “We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may be always free.”

Let us hope future generations will be able to rise to the occasion when called upon, just as the D-Day vets did. Congratulations veterans and Thank You.

For more information on D-Day, see the National WW2 Museum.

Keep the Faith!

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

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Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


Recognition, History and the Masonic Path Least Traveled with the Man and Freemason – Fred Milliken

Fred Milliken

Fred Milliken is a man who needs little introduction, least wise to anyone who has had an ear to hear the heartbeat of Masonry for more than the last 15 years. With a finger, hand, foot and toe in just about every corner of the digital space, Fred either knows what’s going on or someone who does.  Never afraid of tackling the wrongs in the craft, some might say that Brother Fred Milliken is Quixote-esque in his championing of what many see to be the status quo of an immovable force.  But unlike Quixote, Fred see’s the challenges before him as opportunities to inspire and inform others rather than tilting insistly at allegoriphical windmills. If one thing can be said, Fred is unafraid of Change. To the contrary, he embraces it as easily as a man takes in a breath of air. If ever there was a valiant knight in shining armor who took on every dragon beset before him, Fred would be that knight. In every instance from which I’ve had the vantage of seeing the results of his work, Fred Milliken has demonstrated that he is the epitome of a just and upright Mason.  A brother to me, I find his story fascinating. I think you will too.

Want more? Listen to Fred on the Masonic Central pod cast.

Greg Stewart (GS) You’ve been in Masonry for some time; what has your Masonic journey been?

Fred Milliken (FM) Well it really starts with joining DeMolay in Lexington, Massachusetts on an invitation from my lifelong friend. Here I got to see the world of Freemasonry through the eyes of Dad Advisers and through meeting at a Masonic Temple.

I entered the line and became a Master Councilor. One of the really interesting events that my DeMoaly Chapter participated in was the state ritual competition when I was Senior Councilor. Pitted against many other Chapters from all over we made the first cut, the second cut, the third cut, the fourth cut and in the runoff won the coveted state prize of DeMoaly ritual champions for the state of Massachusetts. Those skills I learned were pivotal to my success as a Master in Freemasonry. I learned how to speak before a crowd, how to memorize ritual and how to organize a Lodge.

Much later (30 years later) when I was working in Plymouth, MA, I asked to join Plymouth Lodge. I was appointed to office and went up the line. When I became Master I had five Past Master Councilors and five Past Masters from Simon W. Robinson Lodge in Lexington install me and my officers. As Master, I invited the DeMolay Chapter from Brockton, MA, to perform the DeMolay Degree for us.

It wasn’t long before I joined Paul Revere Lodge in the city in which I lived. Paul Revere was in another Masonic District.  I can remember doing the First Degree Master’s ritual on a Monday night for Plymouth Lodge and the next night, Tuesday, doing the Senior Deacon’s Middle Chamber lecture for Paul Revere Lodge.  One of the first things I did upon joining Paul Revere Lodge was to become a member of the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team which performed the Third Degree in Colonial costume attaching a patriotic message at the end of the degree. All of us were required to also adopt the name of a Revolutionary War Mason. When I joined the team all the really famous names were already taken so I researched my own name. After doing some research at Grand Lodge I chose Brother William Munroe from my home town of Lexington, Massachusetts. Lexington was the birthplace of the American Revolution when on April 19, 1775 Paul Revere rode into town hollering, “The British are coming, the British are coming.” There to meet him in the early morning hours was Captain Brother William Munroe of the Lexington Minute Men who was on an all night vigil on the Lexington Common. Years later William Munroe would become the first Master of Lexington’s first Lodge and he would journey to Grand Lodge to get his charter from Grand Master…Paul Revere.

The Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team traveled … everywhere. And we were always well received.

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

As Master of Plymouth Lodge I brought the Colonial Degree Team to Plymouth Lodge where we performed before five different Masters and three District Deputies, one delegation being from Rhode Island. I had to hire a police officer to control the traffic, parking and the crowd.

Fred Milliken

In due time I became Master of Paul Revere Lodge and one of the first things I did was to take the Colonial Degree Team to Simon W. Robinson Lodge in Lexington. It wasn’t just a performance of the Degree Team, however. It was also the first Tri Table Lodge in the state. Three Lodges got together with permission from the Grand Master to perform a Table Lodge together. So there were three Junior Wardens in the South, three Senior Wardens in the West and three Masters in the East. We started at 4:00 PM with the degree and finished the Table Lodge at 11:00 PM on a Saturday.

But our biggest trip was one which I started working on as Master and didn’t bring to fruition until I had stepped down from the East. And that was the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team’s longest and farthest performance to Monroe Lodge in Bloomington, Indiana.  On a Friday afternoon we flew 18 Colonial Degree Team members into Indianapolis where we were met by a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Indiana in a small bus and transported to Bloomington. After a stop at the Shrine Club for a steak dinner and welcome we were transported to the state DeMolay Chalet for billeting. The next morning we were picked up and transported to the Lodge for Breakfast followed by a bus tour of Bloomington. We performed the Degree Saturday night raising one Brother to the sublime degree of Master Mason and flew back to Boston Sunday afternoon.

Now there is a lot more to tell…but there are other questions waiting to be answered.

GSThat’s an incredible early journey, I have to ask does the Masonry you do today match what your ideal of it was before you joined?

FM – Yes and no.  It does in my own personal Lodge and Grand Lodge because I have chosen them because they do match that ideal. But in other jurisdictions across the U.S.A. it clearly does not. Today many Grand Lodges are out of control and overstepping their bounds at every turn.

GSAt some point in your Masonic career, you demitted from your, then, ‘regular’ grand lodge to join a Prince Hall system. What motivated you to move over?

FM – When I moved to Texas from Massachusetts I naturally transferred from the Mainstream Grand Lodge of Massachusetts to the Mainstream Grand Lodge of Texas. After joining a Lodge near my house I stated to travel. I love traveling as a Mason, meeting new Brothers and sharing ideas and thoughts. About the third Lodge I visited demonstrated to me a problem in Texas Mainstream Masonry which has been reported to me many times over by Brothers in other Southern jurisdictions. After the meeting we all gathered in the dining room for some fellowship with coffee and cookies. I was having a discussion with a group of Brothers around a large table when one Brother piped up,

Do you know what the difference between Masonry down here in Texas and up where you come from is?

I took the bait and said no.

We don’t allow no niggers in Lodge down here.

Now this wasn’t out in the boondocks somewhere. This was in an affluent suburb of Dallas.

Later, a friend of mine who I had corresponded with on one of the Masonic forums was getting raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason. So I trekked the 40 miles to his small town to help in his raising.

About three months later he got in touch with me all upset.

They are making racial jokes in an open tyled Lodge. I don’t know what to do. I cannot condone this outrage, yet some of these Brothers are my bosses at work, some are in my church and others are leaders in the community. If I make a big stink my life will be hell.

So I told him, keep your mouth shut and stop attending Lodge, if you want. I’ll make the big stink for you.

I wrote to the Grand Lodge of Texas and explained the situation without mentioning names or location, asking them if they would please get back to me with some plan of action to curb this abuse. No reply came.

At the time I was the feature writer on [Stephen] Dafoe’s Masonic Magazine and I wanted to publish the story there. Dafoe said that absolutely no names or locations could be used because of possible legal retaliation, but otherwise the story was a go.  So the story went out.

Now somehow, who the article was directed at leaked out – but as it was just a floating rumor and could not be directly placed in our court. Finally a Brother from England wrote the Grand Lodge of Texas and demanded an answer and posted his question and answer he received publicly. Here was the response of a Grand Lodge officer who must, even to this day, remain nameless.

The respected and well known Grand Officer of the Grand Lodge of Texas said, and I paraphrase his remarks

Masons are all about toleration. We as Brothers have learned to tolerate different lifestyles, religions, political affiliations etc. Racism is just another point of view. As Masons we are obligated to tolerate this view even though we may not accept it. That’s what we are all about as Freemasons.

And that is when I demitted from my Texas Mainstream Lodge and applied to Prince Hall. Now you know the rest of the story.

GSThat’s a terrible story, with a conclusion that still seems to be playing out in slow-motion today. But I’m curious, why Prince Hall and not a Co-Masonic Lodge? Were you willing to leave Masonry all together if Prince Hall didn’t offer you up a home?

FM I chose Prince Hall because even while in Mainstream Masonry I was outspoken for the admittance of African Americans to all American Grand Lodges. And that was what the quarrel with the Grand Lodge of Texas was all about, its treatment of African Americans. So, I thought, what better place to continue the fight than right there with many of them.

If Prince Hall didn’t take me, then I could maintain my Massachusetts affiliation and practice Freemasonry on the Internet only.

GSThus far, what’s your experience been like with Prince Hall Masonry?  Do you find many differences or more similarities?

FM – The Freemasonry is remarkably similar. The Texas Prince Hall ritual is almost exactly the same as the Massachusetts Mainstream ritual with one word here or there changed and additional ritual added. One would not feel uncomfortable at all, ritual wise, coming into a Prince Hall Lodge from a Mainstream Lodge for the first time.

Style wise you will notice a difference. Prince Hall Freemasonry tends to be a little more religious. Christian Prince Hall Masons are vocal about Christianity and about politics. But don’t be fooled, all views and all religions are readily admitted and none are disparaged. You have to remember the history of African Americans. Back 200-250 years ago Blacks, free or slave, were not allowed to congregate except maybe in New England. There were no Black picnics or BBQs, no club meetings, no horse races and no Black Grange nor sports events. The one exception was the Black church. Here African Americans were permitted to congregate without interference. So to the church came the politicians, Freemasonry and meetings and social events of every kind. Everything operated out of the church because that is the only place Whites were comfortable letting blacks assemble.

Consequently African Americans did not, until recently, recognize a sharp division between church and state. Hence many aspects of Black society intermingled in the same venue producing a giant mixing bowl that seemed to bring all aspects of society together into one big recipe rather than to have separate distinctions.

Thus, until recently, almost every Prince Hall Freemason came out of the church. That is, he was a church member recommended by a Brother. That’s where everything emanated – from the church. African Americans do not hesitate then, when 100% of a Lodge is Christian, to express that Christianity. Who would object? The vast diversity you find in Mainstream Masonry is not prevalent in Prince Hall. But times are changing and that is not so true anymore.

GSHow So? How is it not so true anymore, from your observation?

FM – Well, when I came into Prince Hall Texas in 2006 I was one of a few White men visible in the Fraternity. Today I see many, many more Caucasians. I saw almost no Hispanics in 2006. Today I see a small cadre of Latinos. Same with Asians.

Prince Hall has traditionally been mostly Christian, Protestant and heavily Baptist and AME. Today I can point to a number of Muslims, some Catholics and some spiritual men with no organized religious affiliation.

The other big distinction that I see is that Prince Hall Freemasons meet with their female counterparts. The Heroines of Jericho (HOJ) and the Order of the Eastern Star (OES) meet in Grand Session in the same building and at the same time that Blue Lodge holds its Grand Sessions. The women are included in many local Lodge social and charitable undertakings. Both sexes within the Prince Hall Family work very closely together.

GSSo then, what bodies do you still carry dues cards for?

FM – In Texas PHA, I carry dues cards for all the York Rite Bodies and Blue Lodge. When I was in Massachusetts I was a member of the Scottish Rite and briefly a Shriner. I have not continued these affiliations in Texas because I do not have the time to belong to everything.

GSSo, let’s flash forward to more recent times. You were the appointed director of Phoenix Masonry, the on-line archive of Masonic texts, artifacts, and materials. Where do you see Phoenix Masonry going in 2014 and beyond? Any big plans you can share?

Phoenix Masonry

FM – Phoenixmasonry started as a website only, and one that featured mainly the old Masters of literature in the library and Masonic antiques in the museum. Even before I signed on as Executive Director, President, and curator, David Lettelier was posting my articles. The 21st century article section kept expanding after I signed on. Some “newer” books were added. Upon becoming Executive Director I turned Phoenixmasonry on to Social Media.

First it was a Facebook Page, then Twitter and lastly Rebel Mouse. After that I opened a Prince Hall Section to the website. The first thing posted in this new section was the six part YouTube video series of the William H. Upton Unity March & Memorial Dedication conducted by The Grand Lodge of F. & A. M. of Washington State and The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington State. What a great story. If you don’t know it William Upton, Grand Master of Mainstream Masonry in the Grand Lodge of Washington State recognized Prince Hall in 1898. After he stepped down the next Grand Master rescinded the recognition. In his will PGM Upton demanded that no marker be placed on his grave until the two Grand Lodges once again recognized each other and coexisted in peace and harmony. Well it took until 1990 for that recognition to occur. And in 1991 both Grand Lodges met at the cemetery and in a special ceremony installed a headstone on the grave of PM William Upton. The videos show this ceremony.

The years went by, and as we came closer to the present the Museum was transported to Utah and set up in its own special housing. David stepped down from the Presidency portending a gradual turning over of the reins to youth.  And that is what the future portends. David and I will gradually fade into the background and new fresh, young blood will take over management. Where they take Phoenixmasonry remains to be seen but it will always be a place of universal Freemasonry.

GSFor as long as I’ve known you, you’ve always had your ear to the Masonic web, how did that happen? Do you have any favorite haunts on the web that you still frequent?

FM – It all started with surfing the web in the late 90s. I came upon a Masonic E-forum called Masonic Light run by Jeff Naylor out of Indiana. Chris Hodapp was one its early members. I became a regular poster and when that kind of petered out I moved over to The run by Stephen Dafoe who was also a regular on Masonic Light.

Over time I became one of the Moderators of the [Lodge Room] site.  Theron Dunn and I used to have an ongoing head to head debate. I was the first interviewee on Dafoe’s Radio Free Mason in March of 2005, something I would repeat on Masonic Central a few years later.

Fred being presented the Cup Of Knowledge at the 2014 Phylaxis Convention.
Fred being presented the Cup Of Knowledge at the 2014 Phylaxis Convention.

I joined the Knights of the North but after about a year left charging that they were all talk and no action. When Stephen Dafoe pulled out of the Lodge Room forum, his moderators took over and renamed it The Three Pillars. I bowed out from that responsibility and stuck around for awhile but ultimately the position of the site [became one] that one could not criticize a Grand Lodge no matter what it did or did not do, leading to a parting of the ways. I switched over to and became a moderator but ultimately the same problem cropped up and I faded away to use my talents elsewhere.

I formed my own Masonic Blog the Beehive and merged that with Freemason Information upon invitation by Greg Stewart.

I pretty much stick to Freemason Information, MyFreemasonry and Phoenixmasonry as well as The Phylaxis Society where I am a Fellow. Facebook is now a primary Masonic Source. I don’t need to haunt any locations because people are sending me stuff all the time.

GSSo where does eMasonry stand today? Do you have any observations or insight on the pulse of the eMasonic world?

FM – Masonic blogs, forums and Yahoo groups are out. That is, they are passing out of existence.

Outstanding Masonic websites still have a following, such as Freemason Information, MyFreemasonry and Phoenixmasonry. Freemasonry on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are in. It’s an ever evolving change in tastes. Tomorrow it will be something different perhaps in an entirely different form.

GSSwitching gears here, I know that the subject or Prince Hall and mainstream recognition is very close to you. Given your position as having been in both denominations of Masonry, do you still see them as two branches of the same family tree or do you think the two have grown and evolved into their own separate entities?

FM – Both mainstream and Prince Hall practice the same Freemasonry. In this aspect they are two parts of the same tree.

But, at the same time, they are their own separate entities.

Prince Hall, PHA, black freemasonry

Traditions, ways of doing things, Masonic government, and the Masonic approach to society have evolved over the years into just two different ways of doing the same thing. Those on the Mainstream side that call for Prince Hall to merge into Mainstream are too late. They should have welcomed Prince Hall into their ranks when over and over again Prince Hall requested such a merger 200 or more years ago.  The two now have grown apart as any society would do after more than 200 years of separation.

They are like two Christian denominations that split apart and went their separate ways. After more than 200 years apart, forcing them back together would be a big mistake.

But they can and will, when allowed, exist side by side in peaceful coexistence. And they have since the first recognition to stick permanently was accomplished in 1989.

GS You mention the recognition that happened in 1989.  Which was that?

FM – 1989 is an important date in the Prince Hall Community. It was the first lasting recognition of Prince Hall Freemasonry that stuck – and stayed – by the Grand Lodge of Connecticut.

There were other recognitions in years past that were short lived and did not last. Today 42 states recognize Prince Hall. Look how far we have come since 1989. I am proud to have taken a teeny weenie part in all that. (You can see a up-to-date list of Prince Hall Masonry Recognition on Paul Bessel’s website)

GSWith that in mind, is recognition still an issue?  Was it really ever?

FM – No recognition is no longer an issue as has been proven by 25 years of peaceful coexistence in all but a few states. That Mainstream and Prince Hall Freemasonry can exist side by side in the same state without incident cannot be challenged. The brotherly love and peace & harmony among regular Masons is now an American reality.

Those 9 states that are left who refuse to recognize Prince Hall no longer practice regular Freemasonry.  The race issues aside, look at the Grand Lodge of Florida’s attempt at excluding non Christians.  No Prince Hall Grand Lodge, no matter how vocal it’s Christian expression, would ever do that. This separation that exists in these 9 states is no longer a recognition issue. It is now an issue over the corruption of Freemasonry into something it was never intended to be. Those 9 Mainstream states no longer practice Freemasonry.

GSElaborate on that.  What is it you think they practice?

Marshall, PM Mike Bjelajac and PM Beaux Pettys of Gate City Lodge No. 2
Mike Bjelajac, Fred, Beaux Pettys and Victor Marshall of Gate City Lodge No. 2

FM – It’s not just the refusal to recognize Prince Hall, although that plays a part. It is also the refusal to admit African Americans. I remember vividly the battle with Victor Marshall and Gate City Lodge No 2 in Atlanta with the Georgia Grand Lodge who were ready to expel a Black man who “accidentally got raised” to be a Georgia Mainstream Master Mason.  It was then we learned that the Georgia Constitution had a bylaw that prohibited non Whites. Freemason Information was in the forefront of that push back. We all have testimony that when Black Mainstream Master Masons from New York visited Florida that Masters refused to open Lodge and instead held Masonic educational sessions until said Black Masons left.

It is also the refusal to admit non Christians. Such thinking, long held quietly in the breast of local Masons who black-balled every non Christian who applied, became widely exposed when the Grand Lodge of Florida expelled Corey Bryson and Duke Bass for non Christian religious beliefs. Freemason Information was right there in the midst of this fight reporting all the details.

And the third big damning characteristic of these infamous 9 Grand Lodges is their refusal to follow Masonic convention or even their own Constitutions. The Grand Masters have taken over their Grand Lodges with total totalitarian rule. They expel Masons without a trial and close down Lodges without a reason or explanation. THEY GOVERN WITH FEAR.

We covered examples of this at Freemason Information with the stories of PGM Frank Haas and Derek Gordon.

In civil society when democracies rig elections and ignore the rule of law, they become Banana Republics, democracies in name only. When these 9 Grand Lodges govern their Grand Lodges in the manner described above, they become rogue Grand Lodges, Freemasonry in name only.

Not only do they give the rest of us in the Masonic community who live by the book a bad name, but they exist only because we have no national Masonic identity, no set of rules that would apply to all Grand Lodges in the United States.

GSWhy do you think the 42 other states still recognize them?

FM – The rest of the 42 states recognize them because of the tradition of standing together and not interfering in another Grand Lodge’s business and because, like politicians, they know if they stand by the indiscretions of their Party members, all the other members will stand by them when they step off the reservation. The problem with this is there is no check on the abuse of power in Freemasonry. In civil society we have The Constitution and the Supreme Court. What do we have in American Freemasonry?

GSWouldn’t that be taking it a bit to far?  Is it, after all, an “at will” association meaning that we choose to be in and a part of it  Given that it’s not a part of our day to day lives, like government, do you think most members are THAT actively engaged as to want to contribute like that?

FM – There must be SOMETHING to hold American Grand Masters responsible and accountable to acceptable Masonic practices. Otherwise Freemasonry in the United States is whatever a Grand Master and a Grand Lodge says it is, and you end up with 51 versions of Freemasonry, and sometimes Freemasonry out of control. There is a difference between differences because of tradition and differences solely for the purpose of an agenda that ends up corrupting the Craft. There is an urgent need in the United States for an American Masonic identity that binds all states and all members of the Craft in one common purpose and outlook.

This need not be some cumbersome bureaucracy added onto American Freemasonry. It could be as simple as a national Constitution and Freemasonry in the United States could be overseen by existing Masonic apparatus – the Conference of Grand Masters and the Masonic Service Association of North America.

Let’s look at an analogy – professional Major League Baseball. In the 20s you had the Black Sox scandal precipitated by abuses of the owners. In addition team owners were doing whatever they wanted with no standardized practices. Finally baseball realized it could not operate this way anymore, that the total freedom and separateness was dooming the national pastime. So the owners got together and appointed a Commissioner of baseball that still exists today. It keeps all the teams operating under the same set of rules and practices thereby eliminating corrupt and hurtful practices.

Like baseball teams, American Grand Lodges should not be able to do whatever they want. Now we perhaps don’t want a Commissioner of Freemasonry but we could continue on with a National Constitution with any administering or adjudication performed by the Council of Grand Masters with the help of the MSANA. This solution is simple, not adding any bureaucracy and keeps the sovereignty of each state Grand Lodge.

GSYou make an interesting point, one I’d like to come back to someday.  But, let’s shift gears here and talk about your out of lodge work in the craft. You’ve written quite a bit over the years, about a lot of things, is there any one piece, or collection of pieces (Masonic or otherwise) that stand out in your mind as ground breaking or game changing?

FM – Well, I can think of four pieces that really stand out in my mind. One is a rather obscure piece titled Ballot Reform in which I make the point that we should no longer allow one Brother to hold the entire Lodge hostage to his personal prejudices. The way out of this enigma is something for you to find out by reading it. I will not spoil it just as I wouldn’t tell you who did it before you read a murder mystery nor explain the details of a good movie you have not yet seen.

In Of Revolutions and Reforms I make the point that before you market a product you best be sure the quality is up to snuff. I also say a lot of other stuff you can read about at your leisure.

Then there are the two papers I delivered in Alberta, Canada

First was World Peace through Brotherhood where I make the claim that if the majority of the world were Freemasons there would be no war. Again there is a lot of other stuff in more than 20 pages of point making if you want to look it up.

Lastly there is the intriguing Native American Rituals and The Influence of Freemasonry. Here I point to all Native American rituals that mirror Freemasonry as having been borrowed from the White Man – EXCEPT ONE – for which there is no rational explanation of how it got here (North America) or who designed it or how it happens to resemble a Masonic degree.

GSSo, given your history and experience, what do you see as the future of Masonry?  Where do you think its heading?

rooftop raising Dalla skyline

FM – Take a look at the progression of human communication. First there was mostly hand written letter writing.  Then came the telegraph which was more a message medium than a communication one. Soon after came the telephone and we could talk, voice to voice, to one another. Then along comes the Internet and we are all introduced to E-Mail. Not long after texting became the preferred method of communication which is really a personal telegraph in everybody’s hands. And today with venues like Skype and a webcam we can do it all!

So goes Freemasonry. From Lodge meetings attended by large numbers in person we have evolved into eMasonry that is trending now towards virtual Freemasonry. Soon we will have actual degrees being conferred in electronic Lodge rooms where all can gather from their smart phone or computer and see each other in a private (tyled) room. Just as personal communication is becoming more impersonal so is Freemasonry. Lodges are lacking attendance while web Masonry hums!

Look for more of the same. Today people value convenience and the ability to pop in and out just as quickly as a virtue. This is not your grandfather’s world. A 9 to 5 world no longer exists. Because of that Freemasonry will follow wherever technology goes. Already the rising stars in Freemasonry are the Masonic techies!

GSSo then, this leads me to wonder about the elephant in the room – membership has always been this invisible/silent specter for all moralities of the craft. Given your experience in both the Prince Hall world and mainstream world, do you see this is a universal issue between all branches?

FM – Yes, it is a universal issue in all branches of Freemasonry and I place the blame squarely upon Grand Lodges. Membership is the life blood of any organization and the way we replace ourselves. Without new blood we wither and die.

GSWhy do you think that is?

Fred giving the On Yonder Book Charge at Grand Lodge Grand Raising
Fred giving the On Yonder Book Charge at Grand Lodge Grand Raising

FM – Look at the answer above in the future of Masonry. Grand Lodges are still trying to operate in the modus operandi of yesteryear. They are all still driving model T cars. They can’t understand why people would rather text than write hand written letters. And that has been the problem from the start with Grand Lodges. When the world wide web first exploded across America they refused to participate in it and some even banned their members from becoming involved in it Masonically. It was like pulling teeth to get GLs to create a web page. A masonic forum, where Freemasonry was openly discussed, was considered heresy.

And now, as we are changing even more in our methods of communication, Grand Lodges have failed to come along. They are always lagging one step behind.

If we could find a Grand Lodge that would sell its building and operate out of a movie [theater] one to up to four times per year, with a live broadcast only available to you through your computer by a password protected (tyled) site, we might be getting somewhere.  If, on a smaller scale, local Lodges could hold all their meetings in the same manner, then perhaps we would be on top of technology promoting it, instead of lagging behind, discouraging it.

If you can sit home and go to church from the favorite room in your house you ought to be able to do the same with Freemasonry. Personal meetings would then be confined to social affairs like BBQ’s, banquets and taverns.

GSBut, do you think that would change the tone of the lodge experience, or even masonry itself?

Fred beneath the Royal Arch
Fred beneath the Royal Arch

FM – While touting E-Degrees and all that modern technology brings us, I’m still old school enough to think that degrees should be done “in the flesh.” And you would want to do banquets and celebrations likewise. But other than that I think that Masonic Lodges meet too often and I compare them to the all news networks on TV. These networks, if they have no new news to report, have to make up the news just to keep broadcasting.

Masonic Lodges that meet often have to make up things to do in order to have their meeting. They do a very bad job at that. Many hurt their cause rather than help it.

My ideal Lodge would meet quarterly and gather for celebrations, trips and banquets as scheduled. Those four Lodge meetings might have a degree; always have a dinner and often a guest speaker. In my mind it is better to do a bang up job once in a while rather than a mediocre job more often.

Does that change the tone of Freemasonry? You bet. It gets rid of boring business meetings where you decide how many rolls of toilet paper to order with bad coffee and stale donuts afterwards. Business can be done online and by an Executive Committee with a quick Lodge sanction.

GSOver the years, there has been drum beats for everything from a Masonic Congress, a national Grand Lodge, lifting territorial jurisdiction restrictions, break away Masonic lodges and even start-up Grand Lodges.  Why do you think they have had only limited success, if any at all?

FM – If an organization is to exist across territorial bounds, if it is to be a movement open to everybody, everywhere, who meet certain basic qualifications, then it must have structure, it must be able to govern itself. Without structure there [would be] chaos.

My problem is that the structure that Freemasonry has chosen for the United States is woefully inadequate. This is no longer 1776. Our nation today has evolved into a centralized federal government of immense power. It long ago gave up the Articles of Confederation and evolved into a Constitutional federalized Republic. But Freemasonry has remained stuck in the 1700s.

This does not suit our modern mobile society. Today, unlike the 1700s, you could grow up in New York, go to college in Illinois, get your first big job in Texas, a promotion in California and then retire to Florida. And everywhere you go Freemasonry would be different. Sometimes radically different. Take it from someone who has experienced this first-hand, both in Northern and Southern Freemasonry.

We have 51 little fiefdoms with 51 variations of American Freemasonry. THERE IS NO AMERICAN IDENTITY TO FREEMASONRY IN THE UNITED STATES. And that’s a shame. People today don’t think of themselves as New Yorkers or Nebraskans or Arizonians. They think of themselves as Americans. But Freemasonry prohibits the adaptation of that concept to the Craft.

GSSo what do you think would remedy that?

FM – For awhile I was for a National Grand Lodge. But some wise Brothers pointed out that if states Grand Lodges are screwed up, think about the politics and control a National Grand Lodge would do. Also Prince Hall tried a National Grand Lodge and it didn’t last.

I am now of the opinion that there needs to be a national Masonic Constitution. This would not interfere with the sovereignty of each state Grand Lodge but would bind each one to some basic, general cornerstones. That would provide a national identity for the Craft in the United States and would eliminate the corruption of Freemasonry that can happen when separate entities remain apart for an extended period of time.

GSWhat do you mean by corruption? Do you mean in a tangible way, as in a literal systemic corruption or in an intangible way such as in its ethos of corruption?

FM– No, [I mean] a corruption that alters and changes things. Like the English language as it is spoken.

Contrast the way English is spoken in England, America and Australia. It all started out the same, but separation over time introduced idiosyncrasies and a flavor that distinguished each version from the other. And that is really because they were apart for such a long time.

Now take 51 Grand Lodges and leave them to their own devices, totally separate and apart for a long period of time and you end up with 51 versions of Freemasonry. That’s corrupted Freemasonry. It would not be unexpected within the world, that is English Freemasonry or Australian Freemasonry, to be different. But, within the same country?

In a highly mobile society all you are doing is confusing people. And you end up with innovations like no Blacks allowed, Christian only, the Grand Master is God, cowboy hats and jeans, one year Grand Master terms, three year Grand Master terms, voting in Grand Lodge, no voting in Grand Lodge, a Grand Lodge line, no Grand Lodge line, an appointed Grand Master, five Landmarks, nine Landmarks, 13 Landmarks, no Landmarks at all and on and on and on.

Given enough time and you can find a Masonic Grand Lodge in the USA that is no longer Masonic.

GSOn that somber note, let’s talk about something more tangible. I always like ask what, or who, was your greatest Masonic influence? Who do you look up to in the Masonic world?

FM – There is no doubt in my mind that I owe an enormous debt to Stephen Dafoe.

Dafoe nurtured my writing and taught me how to do it right. He gave me a column in his magazines The Fourth Part of A Circle and Masonic Magazine. He encouraged me to keep at it and when I botched it up he showed me how it would read better.

Dafoe was instrumental in providing an all expenses paid trip to Alberta in 2005 for both me and my wife where I got the royal tour and the chance to address Alberta Lodges with two papers I had written. And a special thank you is due John Hayes who also joined Dafoe in welcoming me to Alberta and who was kind enough to board me and my wife at his house. There is nobody that did more to mentor me than Stephen Dafoe and I am eternally grateful.

And then there is also the encouragement and home for my writings provided me by David Lettelier. David was the one who offered me the post of Executive Director of Phoenixmasonry and I have grown immensely with Lettelier at my side.

GSYou mentioned writing in two places, in addition to the Beehive column, where you have written Masonic articles? Where else have you or do you now write?

FM – I started out by writing posts on Masonic forums in the 90s. When Theron Dunn and I went head to head those posts could be lengthy. That developed into articles for those sites. After Theron died my main antagonist became Grayson Mayfield. It was at this point that Stephen Dafoe took me under his wing and invited me to write articles for “The Fourth Part Of A Circle” and “Masonic Magazine.” After forming my own Blog “The Beehive” I merged it with Freemason Information. I also guest wrote at some other popular Masonic blogs. Then I began writing for Phoenixmasonry. Today I still write for The Beehive but I also write for my Grand Lodge publication “The Texas Prince Hall Freemason” where I am Associate Editor.” And I write for the Phylaxis Magazine where I help with editing and where I hold the office of Visual Archives Director. In March of 2014 I delivered a major paper to the annual session of the Phylaxis Society in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They presented me, as they do with anyone who delivers a paper, the award of the cup of knowledge.

I write in and for other fields of endeavor, owning some other websites, but as I like to keep the different aspects of what I do separate from one another, those shall remain in the dark here.

GSIt might be good to touch on one last thing about you and your Masonic journey, and that is your conversion to Catholicism.  How difficult is it to be a Catholic Mason today?

FM – Well first of all for all those judgmental Catholics out there, I was not a Catholic who joined Freemasonry. I was a Mason who joined Catholicism. And I had two close Catholic Brothers in my Lodge who were by my side every step of the way. And my Priest, Father Jack, thought Freemasonry was great.  At my first confession he said there is nothing bad about Freemasonry. Come into the church with full sacramental rights. You are most welcome.

The problem is that Father Jack isn’t in every Parish and I don’t always get the same approval. So I don’t push the subject. I don’t avoid it but I don’t go out of my way to mention it either. My conscience is my guide.

There is much acceptance of Freemasonry within the Catholic Church even though its official position is otherwise. It is going to be a long term re-education project. But I don’t intend to miss out on either world because some people have got their facts all wrong.

GSSince you brought it up, your conversion to the Catholic Church, what was it that led you to that conversion?

FM – A number of things led me to become Catholic. Since my wife has always been a Catholic, I was exposed to it all the time.

After worshiping as a Protestant for many years I came to realize that they were worshiping the Bible. For a Protestant everything is about scripture and scripture answers every question and solves every problem.

I would rather worship Jesus, so I converted to Catholicism.

We often talk about the mysteries of Freemasonry. Well, there are also the mysteries of Catholicism. In practice Catholicism can be quite mystical. Protestantism tries to explain the unexplainable with reason and logic. It is a church of the Word. Catholics have the mystical experience of the Eucharist. It is a church of the Sacraments. The ritualism and pomp and circumstance of Catholicism remind me of Freemasonry.

Given all that it still was a difficult leap to make. What pushed me over the top was this story.

I cannot tell you why, but when I was still a Protestant I began going to a Catholic healing services in a neighboring town in Massachusetts. After communion we would approach the front where there were groups of three – a Priest, a nun and a deacon or lay leader. They would surround you and after asking you what problems you had. They would lay hands on you praying – faster and faster, ending in a great crescendo. Many would collapse on the floor in what we call being slain by the Spirit. I never was.

A friend of mine, we worked together and I brought him into the Lodge, was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer and given six months to live. He was a non practicing Catholic. I recommended he go to one of these healing services. He went, but I could not go with him as I had to work. I asked him how it went and he said well I don’t believe in all that mumbo jumbo, especially the fainting part. So I was surprised when he said he was going into Boston for a healing service led by a Priest who had just come in from Ireland. His report back was quite different this time. He said you won’t believe it, but I passed out for 20 minutes.

Within a month he had to go back to the doctor for a progress examination. His liver and pancreatic tumors were all gone. What was, he had been told, a 98% chance of dying within 6 moths now was a complete cure. That was 15 years ago. My friend is still alive.

GSThat’s an amazing story. I always feel in awe over mystical experiences like that. Before we wrap up, is there any other important piece to the Fred Milliken story that needs to be put on the record?

Squire Bently

FM – I can’t leave this interview without mentioning how I became Squire Bentley.

When I first started out on the Internet I used Squire as a pseudonym because I feared censorship by my Grand Lodge. Today I no longer have that fear and have dropped the Squire camouflage in most applications.

I was invited by the Fellowship Players a Masonic drama club from Fellowship Lodge in Bridgewater, MA, to try the part of Squire Bentley in the Carl Claudy play A Rose Upon The Altar. That is a very emotional part and was a challenge I was up for. I can especially remember two performances.  The first was before the local Knights of Columbus and their wives. And the second was before a delegation of visiting Masons and their wives from England. That performance was open to the public and members of my family came.  Performing in this play was one of my passions in Freemasonry.

And right beside me as I write these words is my Squire Bentley lantern, a present from Stephen Dafoe.


Fred, as always, my respect and appreciation to you for your wisdom and time.  I can say, every time I speak or listen to you, I learn something new – both about the fraternity and about you. You can read more from Fred “Squire Bently” Milliken at the Bee Hive.

Editor’s note – Fred has since stepped down and retired from the position of Executive Director at Phoenix Masonry and no longer occupies that position saying of it “It was a great moment in my life and I would not want to ignore it or sweep it under the rug”

Freemason Tim Bryce.

Across the Generational Divide

– The Baby Boomers versus the Millennials, and beyond.

There is a divide widening between the Baby Boomers and its succeeding generations, the Millennials. Both sides are frustrated and do not understand the other. What was commonplace in the Boomer generation is not so anymore, and the other generation look upon the Boomers as fossils who should be put out to pasture (and out of their way). The truth is both sides need each other if, for no other reason than to accommodate a smooth transition from one to another.

The differences between the two groups are primarily based on perspectives and priorities; to illustrate:

A Different Sense of “Class”

Office organization and decorum has changed considerably. Offices used to be very structured and tidy. This was done for two reasons: it was believed an organized office ran better if people knew where everything was, and; to demonstrate the professionalism of the office to its customers, thereby leaving a favorable impression and encouraging a longtime business relationship. Offices today are noticeably less tidy and more relaxed thereby allowing employees to think of it as a second home. Customers are no longer offended by disorganization in the workplace as it is essentially no different than their own office. Instead of encouraging craftsmanship and seeking perfection, there is now a tendency to settle for second best.

Focus of Attention

Instead of focusing on work products, the emphasis today is on the amount of time spent. Whereas the Boomers would think nothing of working nights or weekends to complete a task, their successors are obsessed with the number of hours they spend at work.


Back in the 1970’s you could hire a programmer fresh out of college for as little as $15K/year. Not anymore. Today, college programmers expect as much as $85K or higher, plus a signing bonus of perhaps $20K. According to a recruiter friend of mine, the idea of a signing bonus originated with pro-sports. If the student-athlete can get such a bonus for joining the pros, why not everyone else? In other words, young people fully expect hefty salaries without having to demonstrate their abilities. The concept of apprenticeship is no longer accepted. This is the antithesis of yesteryear where you started low and proved your worth over time. This represents a delineation of entitlement versus responsibility. Whereas the Boomers sought responsibility in order to demonstrate their worth, the Millennials expect entitlement. Not surprising, there is no corporate loyalty, and “job hopping” is the norm today.

Sense of History

Whereas the Boomers were taught the background of their craft by their predecessors, the Millennials frankly couldn’t care less. By learning their craft, the Boomers were less inclined to repeat mistakes.

I’m not really sure how well history is being taught to the Millennials. Recently, I overheard a college professor of management make the observation, “The PC did away with middle management in the 1990’s.” When I asked him to explain, he admitted he had generalized a bit but insisted the proliferation of the PC led to a reduction of many types of jobs, and claimed studies suggested a reduction in middle management due to this technology. I had a hard time swallowing this. During the 1990’s there was an effort to flatten bloated organizations a la General Electric’s Jack Welch (who earned the nickname “Neutron Jack” for such efforts). Interestingly, this approach was derived from Joseph Stalin’s purges of the Soviet government, not from the proliferation of technology.

True, the PC helped reduce clerical staff, but I did not see it have much of an effect on eliminating middle management. However, it displaced clerical burdens on management; e.g. word processing, spreadsheets, etc.). Today, you do not see many secretaries in offices, which is a shame in my opinion. A good secretary could make an office run like a top. I still question the need to place clerical burdens on management. For example, consider air-travel; instead of contacting an in-house or commercial travel agent to arrange ticketing and reservations, we now spend an inordinate amount of time performing this task ourselves (with frequent screw-ups being common place). By doing so, we have substituted the professional with the amateur.

Interpersonal relationships

Whereas the Boomers were taught to master skills involving human relationships, such as persuasion, negotiation, presentations, interviewing, etc., the Millennials are more inclined to rely on technology to get their point across. Instead of trying to understand the requirements of their customers, there is more of a push to simply juggle numbers. This means people are viewed as nothing more than objects and not treated with respect.

This phenomenon regarding generational divide is essentially no different than when the Greatest Generation was being replaced by the Boomers. To the Greatest Gen, the Boomers were perceived as more permissive, more tolerant of mistakes, and somewhat lazy. This shouldn’t be surprising when you consider the Greatest Gen survived the hardships of the Great Depression and World War II. The difference though was both sides found a way to bridge the gap. To illustrate, during the 1990’s, when aircraft manufacturers cleaned house and retired their older workers, they found themselves helpless when technical problems arose (anybody remember Clint Eastwood’s “Space Cowboys”? Same idea.). Because of this, companies are not so quick to eliminate older workers in the event of a reduction in the work force.

Neither the Boomers or the Millennials understand each other and, as such, can find no room for compromise. Thereby the generational divide expands and gridlock ensues. The Boomers perceive the Millennials as addicted to technology and easily swayed by the media. They appear to lack social skills, work ethic, and empathy for others. Because of this, it should not be surprising that micromanagement is on the rise. This suggests the Millennials tend to go on auto-pilot and prefer to be told what to do.

Each generation wants to leave its mark on the world, and each sees it a little differently. Perspectives and values understandably change over time. What one generation considers normal and rational, may not be so by another. It’s called “change” which is actually quite natural. The Baby Boomers learned the practices of the Greatest Generation, adapted, and modified them to suit their needs. Not so between the Boomers and the Millennials where the younger generation is ignoring the Boomers and inventing their own sense of reality. By not studying the past though, they are likely to commit the same mistakes as their predecessors. In other words, they are doomed to learn the hard way.

The question next becomes, how will the Millennials relate to Generation Z who is now going through school and is much more imbued with technology than their predecessors. For example, 25% of two year-olds now have a smart phone. Their dependence on technology is much stronger than the Millennials. I suspect such technology addiction will cause another divide between generations, but not to the degree we are currently experiencing.

Regardless of the reason, be it parenting, the Boomers dropping the ball, the effects of technology addiction, the brainwashing by the media, or changing moral values, a growing chasm exists between the Boomers and their successors, and I can see no way of stopping it other than to simply reach out to the other side and talk, and listen as well.

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&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

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Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Arturo de Hoyos

Br. Arturo de Hoyos – Grand Archivist and Grand Historian of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite, SJ
Br. Arturo de Hoyos – Grand Archivist and Grand Historian of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite, SJ

Esoterica, anti-Masonry and the Scottish Rite with Grand Archivist and Historian

In this installment of Sojourners, noted author, editor, and translator Arturo de Hoyos takes some time to discuss anti-Masonry, esoterica, and his work and role as the Grand Archivist and Grand Historian of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite in the Southern Jurisdiction.

His biography on Amazon reads that he is considered“America’s foremost scholar on the history, rituals, and symbolism of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, and most other Masonic orders, rites, and systems,” a claim that readily becomes apparent in even just a few brief minutes of talking with him.

Greg Stewart (GS) – Br. de Hoyos, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule.   I’d like to start with the basics by asking how long have you been a Mason? Do you recall who or what ultimately induced you to become one?

Arturo de Hoyos (AdH) – I’ve been a Mason about 26 years. I was actually interested in joining earlier, but didn’t know any Masons. When I was a kid, I grew up in Utah. My parents are LDS and, when I was young, I was raised in their faith. Although I no longer share their religious views, I was intrigued when I learned that Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism was a Mason, as were many of its other early leaders.

As I began to investigate Masonry I was impressed with its principles, its unique system of morality, by its antiquity, legends and rituals. The notion of men meeting upon the level, uniting in a common good irrespective of nationality or creed appealed to me. A couple of years after moving to Texas I attended an open house at my local lodge (McAllen No. 1110), and asked for a petition. Remarkably, I was the only person to attend that night, but I’m glad they left the lights on, and I think it also paid off for them. At least I hope so!

GS – Did your experience live up to the expectations you had built up about it?

AdH – Joining definitely lived up to my expectations. I found the ritual very satisfying and the members of my mother lodge amazing. The secretary was a Past Grand Master and Thirty-third Degree Scottish Rite Mason, and we had the strongest lodge in the Rio GrandeValley.

My lodge has given Texas three Grand Masters, of whom we’re quite proud. We were frequently called upon to confer degrees in other lodges, and several of our members were expert ritualists. But it was more than that. There was a genuine comradery amongst the members, which I can honestly (and perhaps sadly) say I haven’t seen equaled in other lodges.

GS – How so?

Although I’ve certainly enjoyed my lodge experiences elsewhere, I felt that my mother lodge had a perfect balance.

Perhaps it’s an idealized reflection like one’s “first love,” but there was such a deep affection and friendship among the members, that we were willing to help each other at the drop of a hat. There was a warm spirit in the lodge, and a sense of pride that we had several members capable of conferring all the work and giving all the lectures. If someone was ill, we’d show up and help with whatever we could. It was like the The Lodge in Friendship Village, if you’re familiar with the book.

GS – Without a doubt your role with the Supreme Council speaks to your affinity with the material, but I’m curious what lead you into your role?

AdH – It’s pretty easy to get my position. You simply have to read everything on Masonry ever written, remember most of it, and then write about it.

I’m joking of course, but it was my fascination with everything Masonic that eventually got me here.

I am, first and foremost, a bibliophile. Once I joined I read everything I could get on Masonry, including things like Mackey’s and Coil’s encyclopedias, cover-to-cover. The first Masonic book I wrote was a response to anti-Masonry in which I revealed all the sources used in a sermon against the fraternity, and showed how the speaker was disingenuous.

Although the speaker didn’t reveal them all, I was familiar enough with Masonic literature, that I recognized his unreferenced sources, and knew what was taken out of context, and paraphrased or distorted.

GS – Do you remember who that preacher was and the sermon that you rebutted?

AdH – I do, The preacher which caused me to respond was Dr. Ron Carlson (d. 2011) [he] made a living selling anti-Masonic tapes, and giving anti-Masonic sermons, along with bashing other faiths which were not his brand of Christianity.

GS – The sermon was Freemasonry, Masonic Lodge and the Shriners Are Not Compatible with Biblical Christianity.  Did Carlson ever respond to your book?

AdH – Carlson refused to debate me publicly, even though he was the one who made the offer.

Sadly, he died before I could send him my Albert Pike’s MORALS and DOGMA of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of FREEMASONRY (Annotated Edition). I wanted him to see how he’d misquoted Pike, and blamed him for “ant-Christian” remarks that were actually made by Christian ministers.

The book I sent him was Cloud of Prejudice. He signed the receipt, which I included in the second edition, along with my acceptance of his challenge to a debate but wouldn’t talk to me personally.

[At some point] When he was on the radio in the Pacific Northwest, someone called him and referred to my book, and acceptance of his challenge, and he just kept saying that I was unfair, and took him out of context. I have a chapter on Carlson in [the book] Is it True What They Say About Freemasonry? The Methods of Anti-Masons, Revised Edition

GS – So then, how does one become a Grand Archivist and Historian in the Rite?

AdH – I have tried to learn about every aspect of Freemasonry: its history, symbolism, and ritual. I have tried to read and study something about the history and rituals of every Masonic organization on the planet, in order to understand how they are interrelated, and grasp their inner teachings. This is not an easy task, and my abilities as a polyglot were a great help. Stubbornness is also useful!

Ill. C. Fred Kleinknecht, 33°
Ill. C. Fred Kleinknecht, 33°

How did I get here? Grand Commander C. Fred Kleinknecht asked me to take the position.

For about 20 years I’ve served on the board of the Scottish Rite Research Society, and had previously done some contract work for the Supreme Council over the years. I had also traveled to DC on my own and would spend days at a time researching in the library and archives when I was researching the origins of Morals and Dogma. I knew the library and archives so well that they’d actually call me in Texas to ask where something was located.

When the position opened, Bro. Kleinknecht called me and invited me to fly to Washington to discuss it. I accepted.

GS – Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?

AdH – Yes, I would. It’s involved a tremendous amount of work, but has been rewarding.

GS – Is there any one instance that would sum up your role as the Grand Archivist and Historian? Any good take aways from the experience?

AdH – I believe that my role is to preserve and disseminate Masonic light and knowledge. One of the things I’ve tried to do is publish and/or write books which I wish had existed when I was a younger Mason. It was well-nigh impossible to find some of the things I’ve published when I was younger.

What have I taken away? The satisfaction of knowing that I kept true to my obligation as a Past Master to share Masonic light and knowledge with my Brethren.

GS – So, I’d like to delve into an area that is a personal favorite of mine. Very often terms like occult, esoteric, mystical and so on get tossed around in the definitions of descriptions of Masonry. I’m curious, from your perspective, what do you see as the role of these esoteric aspects?

AdH – Some people see Freemasonry as the outer fraternity to an inner mystery. Certainly, some types of Freemasonry employ symbols common to the esoteric schools and to alchemy, but not all types of Freemasons do. There’s a question as to how, and whence it derived its esoteric symbolism.

Our Masonic forefathers were familiar with the interests of their day, and as well as the popular contemporary literature. Freemasonry is both eclectic and organic. It uses symbols to teach lessons in a way very similar to the books of Choice Emblems published throughout its formative years in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries.

These books assigned moral meanings to the square, compasses, skull and cross bones, pelican, and other familiar symbols.  They taught virtues like constancy, zeal, brotherly-love, and even used the bee hive as an emblem of industry. I think we must have borrowed symbols from them as well as from alchemical texts, which I believe I demonstrated in an article I published 20 years ago on the Royal Arch word (The Mystery of the Royal Arch WordHeredom, Vol 2., 1993)

But what role does it all play if our teachings don’t have any practical purpose? If they have none, they aren’t really of value. I think they are there to point us to further fields of study, as do other things mentioned in Masonry, like the orders of architecture, or the cardinal virtues.

Freemasonry states its truths, and points the way to education, admonishing us to learn the greatest mystery: who and what we are, and what our obligations are.  Freemasonry is “occult” in the sense that its mysteries are hidden or concealed, which it the literal meaning of the word. I do believe that Masonic ritual conceals its truths in unique ways which are esoteric, but Masonry does not teach practical magic. It is not an occult school in that sense, as Pike makes clear in a couple of places.

GS – This may dive even deeper, but what do you see as some of the deeper meanings of Scottish Rite Masonry? Is it a subject that can easily be distilled down into a few sentences?

AdH – Scottish Rite Masonry is the intelligent advocate of the principles of an enlightened society. It advances the notion that we can create an empire of reason and wise morality, and its degrees provide practical examples, in symbolic form, of what is necessary to achieve this. It prompts us to consider ourselves as integral to the advancement of the human race, and challenges us to make ourselves fitting to the task. It teaches us that duty is the one great law of Masonry, and obligates us to its performance stressing that we must come to understand the great mystery of who and what we are: mortal in body, although immortal by the results of our actions.

GS – You’ve spent a great deal of time surrounded by Pike’s writings, ideas and ephemera. Do you have a sense of what he was ultimately trying to communicate in the body of all his work?  Did what he was trying to say change over time and do you think his ideas work in the world today?

AdH – Pike’s ideas did change with time, as I explained in the book Albert Pike’s Esoterika: The Symbolism of the Blue Degree of Freemasonry.

As he matured, [Pike] discarded some of the popular but unfounded notions on the origins of Masonry, and realized that Freemasonry’s practical value lay in its ability to transform lives for the better, but he believed it also assured us of a future existence after this life.

Pike’s ideas continue to be valuable today because human nature is the same. Technology is merely a tool for humans; it doesn’t modify who we are.  Pike notions of Masonry inspire men to greatness.

His ritual revisions provide valuable teachings in a profound and simple way, which resonates with the thinking man who has overcome the notions and credulities of childhood.

GS – So, from the depths of the esoteric, I’d like to come back up and talk about the Supreme Council in general. I’m curious what you see as the greatest strengths of the Scottish Rite and how that compares with the strengths of lodge masonry? Do you see the two as different institutions on similar paths or one and the same occupying the same space?

AdH – In my view, the strength of the Supreme Council lies in its coherence and stability.

Unlike Grand Lodges, [the Scottish Rite’s] government does not change every year, or every couple of years which permits the Scottish Rite to set and follow its goals without fearing they’ll be discarded in twelve months.

Grand Lodges are necessary and useful, and not in any way a competition to the Scottish Rite. In fact, I believe that Scottish Rite adds value to the Blue Lodge by its coherence. The best Scottish Rite Masons I know are strong supporters of the Grand Lodges.

I agree with Pike when he said,

“Let us … always remember, that first of all and above all, we are Master Masons; and wherever we work and labor, calling ourselves Masons, let us work and labor to elevate and dignify Blue Masonry; for we owe to it all that we are in the Order; and whatever we may be elsewhere, we are always amenable to its law and its tribunals, and always concerned to maintain and magnify its honor and glory.”

GS – Is there any one artifact, work, item or book that you feel really stands out as a jewel in the crown of the Rite that readers might not have heard of before?

AdH – That’s tough. I believe that Esoterika is such a jewel.

Before I published it, almost no one knew that Pike had written a book on Blue Lodge symbolism, since there were only two handwritten copies in the world.

Of course, Morals and Dogma is a masterpiece of an anthology on comparative religion and philosophy.  The 20 years I spent reverse-engineering the text, and the 4000 notes I put in my published annotated edition taught me a hell of a lot along the way. It’s quite remarkable when read with the notes, if I can flatter myself for a moment.

GS – One last question, who is the person who influenced you the most?

AdH – Masonically, it’s not Albert Pike.

I know that may surprise some people, but the Mason I respect most is Giles F. Yates (1799-1859), of Schenectady and Albany, who was once a member of our Supreme Council, but later transferred to the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction eventually becoming Grand Commander.

Yates was indefatigable. He revived Francken’s Lodge of Perfection, authored the first Scottish Rite Monitor, wrote the first ritual revisions of the Scottish Rite, wrote an etymological study of its secret words, and pushed J.J.J. Gourgas to revive the Scottish Rite in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction following the Morgan affair. He was an antiquarian, and built the Schenectady Lyceum and Academy which future President Chester A. Arthur attended. There’s much more I could say about Bro. Yates, but let me sum it up by saying he was an amazing man and Mason. His personal motto was “prodesse quam conspici” (accomplish rather than be conspicuous).


My thanks to brother de Hoyos for taking the time out of his busy schedule to spend some time as one of our Sojourners.

You can find more information on the Scottish Rite by visiting their website.

Works by, edited by or with Arturo de Hoyos:

Sojourners is an occasional column featuring interviews with notable individuals from around the Masonic landscape.

Freemason Tim Bryce.

A Simpler Time

Were the good old days really better?

As we grow older, we tend to get aggravated by the complexities of the world and yearn for simpler times. You suddenly recognize the complications caused by technology, overcrowding, government bureaucracy, and changes in moral values, thereby causing you to fondly think back to less stressful times, particularly in childhood. I happened to mention this to some of my older friends recently who began to reminisce about the simpler times they experienced growing up. Their descriptions make for an interesting tapestry of images.

At home it was not uncommon to have two newspapers delivered daily, a morning paper and another for the evening. Yes, back then people would read habitually as they wanted to know what was going on in the world and, believe it or not, actually trusted the press. You would also listen to the radio routinely and use your imagination. When television came along, there would be just three channels representing the major networks and possibly a fourth channel for a local independent which feature classic monster movies on Saturday nights hosted by such people as the “Cool Ghoul.” Somehow the programming seemed better as we enjoyed the golden age of television which included comedies, dramas (particularly Westerns and detective series), talk shows, soap operas, and variety shows. Only the cream of the crop made it to the television screen, and, No, there were no reality shows. Remote controls were a rarity. If you wanted to change the channel, you had to get out of your chair to do so. Not surprising, you became a devotee of a single network. Instead of cable we strapped bizarre looking antennas to chimneys and grounded them in fear of lightning strikes.

Party phones were common in many households whereby two or more parties shared a line, thereby saving costs. It wasn’t uncommon to pick up the phone and hear your neighbor talking with someone else. If this happened, common courtesy dictated you hang up quietly as opposed to listening in.

Only the very rich had remote controls to open garage doors. Most people had to get out of their car to open the door, or dispatch their children to do so.

If your neighbor needed help, you didn’t think twice to lend a helping hand, be it to shovel snow, cut their grass, run an errand for them, lend your car, deliver a meal, or help any way you could. Everyone instinctively watched out for each other and you could keep the front door unlocked.

Kids kept busy by cutting grass, raking, sweeping, and other chores around the house. For entertainment they would play baseball, fishing, swimming or outdoor games like tag, hide and seek, Red Rover, Dodge Ball, Johnny on the Pony (aka Buck Buck), etc. You also built a lot of forts to hide in and plot skullduggery. In the winter you would skate, sled, make snow forts, and a snowball fight was always imminent. You would also collect and trade baseball cards, shoot marbles, and play with yo-yos, tops, Super Balls, even Hula Hoops. Only if it rained, were you allowed to stay inside. If you were really lucky, you went to a double feature on a Saturday afternoon.

Sundays were used to bring the family together. After church you would go to either the home of your grandparents or that of an aunt or uncle, where you enjoyed a large dinner. You might also go to a nearby park where you could barbecue. Such festivities would be concluded late in the afternoon so people could get home to watch Disney, Lassie, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, or Ed Sullivan.

As to humor, it seemed everyone knew how to tell a joke and, no, they were not always politically correct. Kids told knock-knock jokes and puns. Parents gravitated to burlesque or vaudeville type of jokes. Groucho Marx would make you think, Jack Benny’s “cheap” persona was always good for a laugh, and “Uncle Miltie” and the “Great One” ruled the airwaves in the early days of television.

The focal point of the neighborhood was the corner store where you would purchase items for the household, be it food or sundries. If they didn’t have it, they could order it for you. They were the precursors of today’s convenience stores, only better. Proprietors were well known and respected in the neighborhood. It wasn’t uncommon for customers to stop in simply to chat and gossip about what was going on in the community. Before air conditioning, such stores had ceiling fans to circulate the air, wooden floors, and the front door was screened with a retracting spring to keep it closed. When it swung shut it made a distinctive snapping sound. Old cash registers were behind the counter, built of brass and had brilliant designs etched into them. When a sale was made, a small bell would ring and the cash drawer would pop open. Items purchased at the corner store were often done so “on credit.” The proprietor would keep tab of everything and at the end of the month you were expected to “settle up.” The store smelled heavenly of fresh ground coffee, bead, and there was a pickle barrel with a delicious brine.

For kids, stores offered “penny candy” which was an array of sweets consisting of such delicacies as rock candy, paper strips with dots, root beer barrels, fireballs, licorice, gum drops, pixie sticks, etc. For a mere dime you would have more than enough sweets to satisfy you. Soft drink machines came as horizontal chests, not “uprights”, where you would slide a glass bottle by its neck across an inside track and into the dispenser where you deposited your coins. I never saw a fat kid, probably because we either ran everywhere or rode bicycles which represented freedom. We would drive our bikes for miles, either to school, the store, a fishing spot, a camp site, a baseball field, or wherever. As kids, we would camp out, cook over a camp fire, and cleaned up afterwards. We also carried swimming suits with us in case we found an inviting pond or stream to jump into. A rope swing into the water was heavenly. Occasionally we would experience an accident, but you learned to take your medicine. Crying was natural but if you did so too long, you were a “spazz.”

Many items were delivered to your home. The milk man would deliver glass bottles to galvanized metal boxes by the kitchen door. If they sat there for awhile, you could watch the cream rise to the top. Bread was delivered, as were eggs, butter and cheese. The ice man would deliver large chunks to keep your “ice box” cold (not refrigerator). Coal was delivered through chutes going into the furnace room of your basement. It was normally the responsibility of the children to keep the furnace stoked during winter time. A popcorn man would make the rounds, selling bags for pennies. Ice cream was sold likewise. The fish man would also visit regularly, usually announcing his presence with a cowbell or some other audio attraction. There was also a person to sharpen knives and cutlery. The Fuller Brush man visited your home with a wide variety of brushes for sale, and Avon called frequently. Peddlers also went door-to-door selling medicines, salves, spices, concentrated flavors for cooking, and just about anything else. In other words, the vendors came to the customer, just the antithesis of today. And before trucks, there were pushcarts and horse drawn wagons.

Libraries played an important role in society where reading was stressed. They too traveled to the public in mobile libraries. Children were encouraged by parents to read. Before bedtime parents would read classics to their offspring like “Peter Pan,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Moby Dick,” and the Dr. Seuss classics. Kids have a natural attraction to story telling, and it was a great way to wind up the day.

To get to school, you either walked, rode a bike, took a bus, or went in a carpool. Walking offered you freedom to take your time, talk to your friend, and investigate every shortcut. Yes, it seemed like we walked for miles, but it wasn’t really that bad. If you took the bus, you could make last minute adjustments to your homework or prep for a test. Taking your bike was the most fun as you were proud to show off your bike and, No, you didn’t have to lock your bike with a chain. In Connecticut, we participated in a carpool where the mothers took turns driving the kids to school and pick them up afterwards.

Most kids took a brown bag to school for lunch which included sandwiches wrapped in wax paper, and some fruit. Lunch boxes were a luxury. During my time, you longed for a lunch box featuring Davy Crockett, the Lone Ranger, or Superman. Inside would be a thermos filled with either hot soup or a cold drink. You paid pennies for milk. Cafeteria lunches were also available, which were both delicious and inexpensive (as cheap as a dime). Personally, I loved the meatloaf the Polish women made at my Chicago Junior High School.

Kids would go to school equipped with a pencil box which included fresh pencils, erasers, a ruler and a sharpener. Before ball point pens there were fountain pens. At your desk was a bottle where you would draw the ink into the pen. This was later replaced by pens with ink cartridges. No matter what you did though, you would somehow find a way to get ink on your shirt pocket. And just about everyone had a box of Crayola crayons.

You would go to school well dressed and properly groomed. Boys wore collared shirts, slacks and street shoes were the norm. T-shirts, blue jeans, shorts, and sneakers were verboten. Girls wore dresses or skirts with blouses. You were sent home if the dress was too short or looked inappropriate. Likewise, hair had to be cut to specific lengths (off the collar), and facial hair was not allowed.

The school day would begin with the pledge of allegiance to the flag and a patriotic song. Some schools also followed this with a nondenominational prayer. To be selected to the school’s Safety Patrol was considered an honor, as well as to raise the flag in the morning and strike the colors at the end of the day.

Classes included reading, writing, and arithmetic, with a lot of penmanship thrown in for good measure. You had to memorize the preambles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, if not more. Both American and World history were stressed, as well as civics. We also took speech classes, Earth Science, and learned the various branches of mathematics, not to mention typing.

In High School you were offered the opportunity to learn new skills in Wood Shop, Metal Shop or Mechanical Drawing. In such shops you built a variety of things, particularly a wide array of book shelves and bird houses. In the drawing class, you learned to master t-squares, compasses, and my personal favorite, the French curve.

Everyone knew not to fight in school as you could expect corporal punishment with a paddle. Instead, if somebody had a beef with another, you arranged to meet off campus and duke it out. At the end of the fight, when both boys were exhausted, they shook hands and consoled each other. Whatever they had been fighting over had been forgotten.

Teachers and parents were allowed to bring home-baked goods to school, such as donuts, pies, and cakes. Nothing was brought in from the store. During Halloween you would receive regular sized candy bars, popcorn balls, and candied apples. There was no such thing as “fun size.” I still remember Mrs. Derdarian’s fabulous caramel apples on a stick.

Time seemed to crawl along at a snail’s pace. You couldn’t wait for the bell to ring to go back outside. Today it seems time moves at a much faster pace and we are required to multitask everything. I wonder if we have forgotten to relax.

There was a genuine respect for the law. When a police officer asked you to move along, you did so as you trusted his judgment. There was no thought of talking back to him. He was your friend and you knew him by name, as he knew yours as well as your parents. He knew who the good kids were, as well as the trouble makers.

In business, you were expected to work hard regardless of your job, and put forth your best effort to produce quality work products, and take on a professional attitude. Instead of working at odds with your co-workers and boss, you tried to get along and work together. As in school, you dressed neatly and bathed regularly. You were charged to use your head and find a way to get the job done. And the customer was always right.

This is not so much about nostalgia as it is about how society seems to have made life more complicated than it needs to be. The world depicted herein is how many of us like to remember yesteryear. As a kid, you learned to innovate, adapt, and be resourceful. You also learned life was full of consequences, for every action there was a reaction. The emphasis back then was to work and play outdoors, be it summer or winter, but the kids today stay indoors hooked to their technology and now possess a sense of entitlement. They cannot possibly relate to the world of yesteryear where you were adventurous and took responsibility for your actions. Government at all levels has evolved into an incredible bureaucracy with a mind-boggling number of laws, rules and regulations aimed at stifling business and frustrating ambition. And our morality has shifted to the point where a person’s word is no longer their bond and we are suspicious of the motives of others.

So, were things really simpler in the good old days? Our predecessors probably asked the same question years ago. With every new technology comes another level of complexity which youth can more readily adapt to than their elders. Although technology may simplify some things, it complicates others. While today’s computers and smart phones have enhanced communications and expedited administrative tasks, people have developed an addiction which seems to have altered their personalities, interpersonal relationships and priorities. There is even a lack of concern regarding current events, and our youth has no interest in news.

As we grow older the differences between then and now becomes more apparent, but it is too late to change it back, you must go forward. I have also learned you do not truly appreciate the simplicity of the past until you’ve survived into the future. If you have no knowledge of the past, you have nothing to compare the present to and no appreciation of simpler times. To today’s youth, these are the good old days. Anything before is lost on them. They may be proficient in social media and computer games, but they will never appreciate the sheer joy of capturing a firefly, whittling, building a campfire, reading a book, or running a “pickle.” It’s the little things that make life enjoyable, not its complexities. The older generation may not be as proficient in the use of technology, but they didn’t suffer from all of today’s anxieties, allergies, obsessions and disorders either. Back then, there was no such thing as OCD, PTSD, BDD, bulimia, Prozac or Cialis. Instead, we had such things as Scouting, 4H, dime stores, Tarzan, J.C. Higgins, Louisville Sluggers, the YMCA, and God.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He is also the Secretary of Dunedin Lodge No. 192 F.& A.M. in Florida.  He can be reached at

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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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Freemason Tim Bryce.

Billy Mitchell – The Original Whistle Blower

What we can learn from a famous whistle blower from yesteryear.

We’ve been hearing a lot about whistle blowers lately, particularly Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who ignited the U.S. surveillance program scandal. There are also the whistle blowers involved with the Benghazi scandal and the IRS intimidation program. Whistle blowers have actually been with us a long time. In my life, it goes back to Daniel Ellsberg who in 1969 released the “Pentagon Papers” to the “New York Times,” detailing the military activity in Viet Nam under LBJ and Nixon. This, of course, ultimately triggered Watergate. However, let’s go a little further back in time to 1925 when the Army instigated a court-martial against Colonel Billy Mitchell, an episode which has quickly been forgotten in history, but has an important bearing on the whistle blowers of today.

Although Mitchell is primarily credited for building Air Power in this country, his military history goes as far back as the Spanish-American War where he served as the youngest Army officer (at age 18). Mitchell’s notoriety though began during “The Great War” (WWI) where, as Major, he became the first American officer to come under fire in the trenches of France. During the war, he earned several decorations and citations. More importantly, it was in France where he developed his fascination and passion for the airplane as a military weapon.

Mitchell understood the potential of the airplane. His superiors did not, and saw it as nothing more than a trivial instrument for observing enemy forces. They laughed at him when he claimed airplanes could sink a ship by dropping bombs on it. At the time, battleships were considered invincible. He finally got an opportunity to prove his claims and sank the German battleship “Ostfriesland” which was to be scuttled following the war. Nonetheless, the military was unimpressed. Following the war, in peacetime, there was an emphasis on shrinking the military. Even though Mitchell begged for money for research and development, he was ignored. He even urged the military to form a separate branch dedicated to an air service, but was denied. Consequently, American Air Power diminished almost to obscurity. The English, French, Italians, even the Germans had far superior airships than the Americans, and Mitchell made sure the newspapers knew about it.

Knowing Mitchell’s image was growing larger in the press, the military sent him on assignments in order to make him disappear. In 1924 he was sent to study military defenses in the Pacific. During this time, he visited Japan and witnessed firsthand how the Japanese were embracing Air Power and realized America was far behind their counterparts. Following his tour he produced an extensive 323 page report on his assessment of American defenses in the Pacific. It was in this prophetic report that he predicted how Japan would attack Pearl Harbor with remarkable accuracy. Even though the military dismissed his report as ridiculous, Mitchell’s predictions would come true 17 years later. Nonetheless, he was buried again by the military.

One year later, in 1925, the Navy dirigible “Shenandoah” was destroyed in a storm in Ohio, with a loss of thirteen lives. Mitchell was outraged as he knew the ship was archaic and denounced the Navy for its “almost treasonable” attitude towards aviation:

As a patriotic American citizen, I can stand by no longer and see these disgusting performances…at the expense of the lives of our people and the delusion of the American public. We may all make mistakes but the criminal mistakes made by armies and navies, whenever they have been allowed to handle aeronautics, show their incompetence…This, then, is what I have to say on the subject, and I hope that every American will hear.(1)

Although Mitchell became a hero to the American people for his bold statements, his superiors felt otherwise and was given a court-martial for insubordination. Actually, the court-martial was what Mitchell was hoping for as he figured it was the best way to bring attention to the problem and create change. The case garnered a lot of attention in the press, and many notable proponents of Air Power testified on his behalf. In the end though, Mitchell was suspended from the Army for five years. Instead, Mitchell resigned in 1926 and spent the remainder of his life speaking on behalf of Air Power. He would die in 1936 never knowing how accurate his predictions would become in World War II. In 1942, President Roosevelt, recognized Mitchell’s contributions to Air Power by restoring his status and elevating him to the rank of Major General. In 1946, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, “in recognition of his outstanding pioneer service and foresight in the field of American military aviation”…10 years after his death.

Read: Seeing Ghosts in Lodge

There are some similarities, as well as differences, between Billy Mitchell and Edward Snowden. Both tried to do what they perceived to be right. Mitchell was a visionary who used his court-martial to draw public attention to the problems of Air Power. Snowden is not a visionary. He just stumbled on a problem and reported it. Whereas Mitchell stood and took his medicine as a military officer, thereby garnering the support of the American people, Snowden took flight as he didn’t want to suffer through a career ending court case as Mitchell did.

The big problem with becoming a whistle blower is that it doesn’t pay well. You might earn the admiration of the American people, but you must also face the wrath of the establishment. For example, State Department witnesses in the Congressional hearing on Benghazi have reported their career is essentially over. Likewise, Cincinnati IRS witnesses have allegedly been intimidated. It takes someone with a lot of character to stand up and report a problem, whether it be in the corporate world or government. The prime difference between Billy Mitchell and Ed Snowden is simple: Mitchell stood and took his medicine; Snowden has not. Understand this though, the American Air Power we knew today can be directly attributed to the efforts of Billy Mitchell. Had he not spoken up when he did, our air defenses would have been primitive by the start of World War II. Mitchell knew what he was talking about and would not be intimidated by the powers in authority.

Keep the Faith!

1-“The Billy Mitchell Story” by Burke Davis, page 102

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) 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:

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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Freemason Tim Bryce.

Stand Up For Morality: Part 8

– Unidirectional teaching is one thing, but it is also important to develop a two way dialog.

This is Part 8 in my series on “Morality” as derived from my new eBook “Stand Up for MORALITY.”

In Part 7 we discussed simplifying complex moral problems and made some more observations about the properties of Morality. Here, in Part 8, we will wrap-up our series with a discussion on “Where do we go from here?”


There is an old maxim derived from psychology which contends, “You cannot treat a patient if he doesn’t know he is sick.” If we can admit we have a problem with morality in this country, the next concern should be how to treat it. The answer should be rather obvious, become more proactive in teaching morality. We have been reactive far too long, probably because we falsely believe someone else is going to properly teach it for us, such as the schools and the media. This “hands off” approach is probably the single biggest cause for the decline of morality in this country. Unless you are willing to do what is necessary to teach morality yourself to your offspring or subordinates, someone will invariably do it for you, and probably not to your liking.

First, when should morality be taught? The sooner, the better, particularly for impressionable youth. Lessons of “good versus bad” should be given repetitively, as well as challenging the subordinate to think for him/herself, e.g.; “Is that right or wrong? Why?” Such lessons should be applied consistently. If not, the subordinates will question its validity as it applies to them. If a person understands the cause and effect of a moral lesson, they will more likely embrace it.

Unidirectional teaching is one thing, but it is also important to develop a two way dialog, thereby allowing the teacher to understand what the pupil is thinking. For most families, the dinner table can be invaluable for discussing morality. Openly discuss difficult subjects such as sex, drugs, alcohol, crime, violence, government, politics, etc., not in a crude way, but in a calm, rational manner. Do not try to escape your responsibilities, confront them. If you do not address it now, you will have to react to it later as your offspring will learn it elsewhere. Such an open discussion is invaluable for building trust, confidence, and bonding. For parents, it is particularly useful for understanding what is going on in your offspring’s world, e.g.; what kind of friends they have and what are they saying and doing.

As we have stated, understanding the consequences of our actions and decisions is an important part of learning moral values. To this end, be sure to reward and punish fairly and consistently. Anything less, will be observed by the object of your attention.

Next, become a positive role model. This may very well mean you will personally need to “shapeth up and geteth thine act together.” This will likely involve some soul-searching. You should always be cognizant that as a parent or boss, you are the prime role model and, as such, you should lead your life the way you want your subordinates to do. If this means cleaning up your appearance, dress, speech, habits, or whatever, such is the price for teaching morality. Yes, this means sacrifice.

It also pays to routinely monitor and analyze the progress of your children or employees. This can be done simply by developing a checklist and grading the person in question. On a scale of 1 (High) to 5 (Low) consider these universally applicable attributes associated with a person’s Morality:

Adherence to rules and regulations – whether written or unwritten
Authority, respect for – respectful versus disrespectful
Compassion – Kind and caring versus vicious
Courtesy – exhibits good manners versus crude
Duty, sense of – exhibits dependability, trustworthiness and responsibility
Honesty – truthful versus habitual liar
Language – articulate versus crude
Promptness/Tardiness – always on time or is regularly late

If this sounds like an Employee Evaluation form, it essentially is. Whereas managers/employees typically review such forms jointly to guide the employee, this should be considered optional in this situation. It may be more desirable to prepare this analysis and not divulge the contents to the person as it will become a guide for you, the mentor or parent, as to what issues need to be concentrated on. Then again, openly reviewing it with the other person provides an opportunity to discuss what is right or wrong with their moral values, along with “Why” you believe this is a problem. Conducting such an analysis on a routine basis, such as annually or twice a year, makes it rather easy to plot improvements or detect problems emerging.

I have developed such a form which is included at the end of this manuscript. If desired, please use it as you see fit.

I admonish you to get involved in the teaching of morality, not just at the dinner table, but become actively involved in the lives of your offspring or employees, particularly in the early formative years. If you do a good job early on, it will be more rewarding later on. For children, encourage and support their interests, be it athletics, academics, music or hobbies. If this means becoming a coach, an umpire, a volunteer, or a member of the PTA or Scouts, so be it. However, do not become overbearing thereby inhibiting their personal development. In other words, do not try to live your life through your children. Be more of an observer and offer advice as required. Investing your time now will pay dividends later.

Finally, applaud those people exhibiting strong moral character or committing some unselfish action. Encourage such behavior, do not ridicule it. Such positive feedback will encourage others to emulate them as opposed to criticizing it. If you see someone who has committed some special moral act, either compliment them, or report it to the media, be it the local newspaper, television station, or on the Internet. Recognizing moral behavior is important for others to emulate, be it an act of honesty, keeping one’s word, extending one’s self to help another, or some other act. If people understand their actions are being observed by others, it can have a profound effect on their behavior, as well as others surrounding the person. Most people are modest and avoid reporting simple acts of moral courage they have committed. They modestly see it as nothing more than something they do on a normal day-to-day basis. Nonetheless, we need more role models to emulate, regardless of their social standing in life. We need more people to “Stand Up for Morality.”


“I do not believe the greatest threat to our future is from bombs or guided missiles. I don’t think our civilization will die that way. I think it will die when we no longer care. Arnold Toynbee has pointed out that 19 of 21 civilizations have died from within and not from without. There were no bands playing and flags waving when these civilizations decayed. It happened slowly, in the quiet and the dark when no one was aware.”
– Laurence M. Gould
President Emeritus
Carleton College

EPILOG – Friends, I hope you have enjoyed this series on Morality. Again, you can obtain the entire text as an eBook entitled, “Stand Up for MORALITY,” which is available in PDF, Kindle and Audio formats.
All are available through MBA Press.
The Kindle version is available through AMAZON.


Mr. Bryce is available to speak on this subject

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&JB Investment Company (M&JB) 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.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News with Dave and Lance” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Freemason Tim Bryce.

Stand Up For Morality: Part 7


– What is the effect of the decline of morality?

This is Part 7 in my series on “Morality” as derived from my new eBook “Stand Up for MORALITY.”

In Part 6 we considered some Moral problems as an exercise. Here, in Part 7, we will discuss simplifying complex moral problems and make some more observations about the properties of Morality.


In other words, moral situations may very well be complicated requiring some thought to dissect them to their most fundamental form before recognizing a moral solution. What situations may be simple for some, may be complicated to others. Perhaps the most difficult situations to interpret are those involving sex, violence, drugs and alcohol. Again, it is necessary to break the problem into its fundamental components and determine its morality. For such situations, it is necessary to be mindful of the formal laws, rules and regulations pertaining to a subject, and understanding its effect on others. It also helps to operate from a standard base of moral values.

To illustrate the point, many years ago I happened to be in Cincinnati during a severe winter storm. The city was experiencing blizzard conditions on a work day and the roads were icy. Nonetheless, I was charged with driving to the bank to make a deposit for our company. There were few people on the roads as most had been warned of the road conditions. The route to the bank involved passing through a major four-way intersection which was normally very congested. On this day though, there were but two cars in one lane waiting at the intersection for the light to change. As I approached them from behind I suddenly realized how slippery the roads were. So much so, I quickly realized if I applied my brakes I would surely begin to slide, possibly moving sideways and hitting the other cars. It wasn’t that I was traveling too fast (I was going no faster than 20mph), as much as the driving conditions were simply too treacherous. My options were to obey the law and stop at the traffic light, whereby I would have certainly begun to slide and likely hit the other cars, or pass through the red light thereby causing no injury to anyone. In the flash of an eye, I made the decision to disobey the law and travel through the intersection. Had a police patrol car spotted me, I would have likely been charged with a moving violation. Nonetheless, I made the decision based on my perception of the harmful effect I would have caused others as opposed to adhering to the letter of the law. I tend to believe I made the right decision under these extraordinary circumstances.


WE LIVE IN AN IMMORAL WORLD. Morality is a human invention. If everyone practiced morality in a uniform manner, we would live in a moral world. However, because of the inconsistency by which morality is applied in the world, there will always be discrepancies and omissions. As such, realizing a 100% moral world is unrealistic.

WE CANNOT BE MORALISTIC 100% OF THE TIME. There will always be an indiscretion, large or small, we will overlook, perhaps because it does nothing more than inconvenience us. Regardless, we should strive for self-improvement and seek perfection. This brings up a a point, PRACTICING MORALITY REQUIRES EFFORT. A person must make a concerted effort to practice morality, not just in their actions but also in their decision-making process.

LEADING A MORALISTIC LIFE IS NOT EASY. In addition to effort, the moral person may be ridiculed, chided, criticized, or ostracized for doing so (it’s not necessarily “Cool”). Nonetheless, you must live with yourself and look at yourself in the mirror. It is your conscience.

What is the effect of the decline of morality? It represents a decline in courtesy, law, the loss of respect of others (their rights and freedoms), and a decline of our civilization. WITHOUT MORALITY, WE WOULD LIVE IN A PRIMITIVE/BARBARIC CULTURE.


“Stand Up for MORALITY” is an eBook available in PDF, Kindle and Audio formats.
All are available through MBA Press.
The Kindle version is available through AMAZON.

Mr. Bryce is available to speak on this subject

Keep the Faith!

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

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

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.