Freemason Tim Bryce.

Stand Up For Morality: Part 6


– Solving problems of Morality (an exercise).

This is Part 6 in my series on “Morality” as derived from my new eBook “Stand Up for MORALITY.”

In Part 5 we discussed the other institutions affecting morality. Here, in Part 6, we will consider some Moral problems as an exercise.


Let’s consider some sample scenarios and determine whether or not they are moral. This can either be done individually or collectively as teams. Allow time for people to think and discuss. Make it competitive if you like. Some are simple, others more complex. All are from real life situations.

1. You happen to find a wallet on the sidewalk filled with a considerable sum of money but no identification as to the owner. Nobody saw you pick it up or knows you have it. What should you do?

A. Pocket the money and discard the wallet claiming “Finders keepers.”

B. Turn it over to the police in case the owner comes looking for it?

2. You are a professional programmer with many years of experience. You have just been hired by a new company and placed on a project to write a program. In designing the software, you realize the logic of the program will be similar to another program you wrote for your previous employer. What should you do?

A. You finalize the logic of the program and write the code anew.

B. Since you kept copies of the programs you have written on a flash drive, you copy the code from your previous assignments. Nobody will know the difference.

3. You are a parent of a high school senior and, naturally, you are concerned about the progress of your offspring. You believe your son/daughter to be a good student. However, the student brings home a high “C” on an important test. You become concerned the grade will cause the student’s grade point average to drop thereby making it harder to be eligible for a certain college. What should you do?

A. You call and ask to arrange a meeting with the teacher whereby you ask advice on how the student should work to improve his/her grades.

B. You call and ask the teacher to change the grade to a low “B”. If the teacher refuses, you
call the principal and register a complaint about the teacher’s competence.

4. You are a patent attorney who has been asked to discuss a new invention as created by a prospective client. You arrange an initial meeting at your office where you discuss the invention. No nondisclosure agreement is signed. The invention is of interest to you as you have a friend who owns a manufacturing company who can build such a product. The invention would be simple to reproduce. What should you do?

A. Tell the inventor you do not believe it is a viable product. You and your manufacturing friend then jointly apply for a patent for a similar offering. After all, you did not accept the inventor as a client, nor did you sign a nondisclosure.

B. You inform the inventor you do not have an interest in the product but provide a reference to another attorney who may be able to help him. The matter is dropped.

5. Commuter traffic is preventing you from getting to work on time. It will also cause you to be late for your weekly meeting where you normally report on the status of your department. You know five other people who will be attending the meeting, all of which are your subordinates. You now realize you will be late for the meeting by at least 30 minutes, maybe longer. What should you do?

A. Using your cell phone, you call the office and notify the attendees you will be late; they can either start without you or wait until you arrive.

B. 30 minutes isn’t a long wait. Instead of calling, you decide to focus on driving to work as quickly as possible.

6. You are a clerk in a cigar store. Mr. Smith is one of your regular customers. He appreciates your efforts and, even though he is under no obligation to do so, he always gives you a $5 tip for the cigars he purchases. One day, Mr. Smith is in a hurry and in signing his credit card receipt, he forgets to add a tip and total. Before you can catch him though, he is gone. What should you do?

A. Knowing he will not mind, you add the $5 tip to the receipt and total it accordingly.

B. You leave the tip blank and use the subtotal as the total.

7. You are a 24 year-old male office worker. You joined a company straight out of college and are enthusiastic about the mission of the business, its products and services. Although your immediate boss is easy going, the department’s senior director is older and very straight laced. Over time, you begin to grow facial hair which, admittedly, looks rough. One day, you decide to wear tattered blue jeans and a T-shirt to work. The senior director stops you in the hallway and admonishes you about your appearance. He instructs you to go home, change clothes, shave, and report back to work. This upsets you as you believe you look fine for the job and being unfairly treated. What should you do?

A. Ignore the Director and go about your business.

B. Do as the Director instructs.

8. You are a talented illustrator who produces artwork for magazines and books. A publication has hired you to develop a political illustration. However, you do not agree with the political point of view you are to depict. What should you do?

A. Produce an illustration in accordance with the specifications of the publisher.

B. Produce an illustration that changes the theme of the graphic and expresses your own political beliefs.

9. You are a well-known and respected newspaper reporter. You have been researching a major story for the last three months. You finally write the article which has the potential of becoming a whistle-blowing expose. You review the article with your editor. Although he thinks you have done an admirable job with the column, he is worried about the political ramifications of the piece, particularly to a politician the newspaper favors. Consequently, he orders you to either change it so it doesn’t embarrass the politician or drop it altogether. This offends you as you realize this is an important subject which the public should be made aware of. What should you do?

A. Do as your editor instructs; you either change it or drop it.

B. You give the story to a colleague who has it printed in a competing newspaper.

10. You are an intolerant anti-smoker. While at an outdoor cafe you observe a person at the next table smoking, which is legal to do so. You detest the smell and instantly develop a dislike for the smoker. What should you do?

A. Ask the smoker to extinguish the cigarette as you claim it bothers you. Should the smoker refuse to do so, you ask the waiter for another table further away from the smoker.

B. When the smoker isn’t looking, you grab the pack of cigarettes and throw it in the trash.

11. A new mother receives a mailed gift containing two of the same expensive item for her baby, but the shipping invoice indicates the giver was charged for only one item. Clearly, one item should be returned to the store with an explanation of the mistake. What should you do?

A. Keep the extra one to give as a shower gift.

B. Take it back to the store for a refund.

NOTE: Both answers are wrong.

As much as we might like to do one thing, we must resist temptation in order to fulfill our moral obligation. To some, the temptation is too great to resist. The more frequently we turn away from our moral values, the more our culture deteriorates. Consider the permissiveness of our society today. Was it like this during our parent’s generation? Our grandparent’s generation? Or great grandparent’s generation? I am fortunate to have witnessed five generations in my family. Each had their own unique perspective of morality and sense of tolerance. Some of the differences were subtle, such as drinking, smoking, and language; others were more pronounced, such as their perspectives on citizenship, patriotism, love, assisting others, etc. The impact of economics, war and peace played a dramatic role on their values, as did their participation in organized religion. It is my contention each generation becomes more permissive than the last due to changing perceptions of the country. What is considered acceptable today, may not be considered so yesterday, or possibly tomorrow. Ask yourself the question, who was more tolerant, your parents or yourself? And who is more tolerant, you or your offspring?


“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 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.

Freemason Tim Bryce.

Stand Up For Morality: Part 5


– The observation of consequences (reward and punishment) is an important part of learning moral values.

This is Part 5 in my series on “Morality” as derived from my new eBook “Stand Up for MORALITY.”

In Part 4 we discussed how Morality is taught and learned. Here, in Part 5, consider the other institutions affecting morality.

Let us also consider the other institutions affecting morality:

FAMILY – it is the inherent duty of parents to teach the lessons of right and wrong to their offspring, either at the dinner table or by being a role model. However, due to the economic pressures of today, more and more are taking a “hands off” approach for teaching morality to their children, thereby defaulting the responsibility to others. Many simply do not grasp the significance of it.

SCHOOLS – still have a role to play, but mostly on issues relating to cheating, plagiarism, and general conduct (fighting, tardiness, absenteeism). Formal training on morality is certainly not in the mix. Consider this, reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag is now considered optional in many schools.

COMPANIES – establish codes of conduct, but somehow immoral practices still surface in the cutthroat world of business. Too often, companies fail to practice what they preach.

NONPROFITS – youth sports programs and scouting were originally designed to teach such things as citizenship and “fair play.” To illustrate, consider their Oaths, Laws, and Pledges:

Boy Scout Oath

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

More on the Boy Scouts and Freemasonry

Boy Scout Law

A Scout is:
Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful,
Friendly, Courteous, Kind,
Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty,
Brave, Clean, Reverent.

Little League Pledge

I trust in God
I love my country
And will respect its laws
I will play fair
And strive to win
But win or lose
I will always do my best.

Despite their good intentions, such organizations are experiencing a decline in membership. For example:

“The organization, long an icon of wholesomeness in a simpler America, has seen its membership plunge by 42 percent since its peak year of 1973, when there were 4.8 million scouts. In the last decade alone, membership has dropped by more than 16 percent, to 2.8 million.”

– New York Times
“Boy Scouts Seek a Way to Rebuild Ranks”
July 30, 2010

“As for Little League, which covers kids aged 4 to 18, about two million kids played in the U.S. last year, compared to about 2.5 million in 1996—an overall decline of 25%.”
– Wall Street Journal
“Has Baseball’s Moment Passed?”
March 31, 2011

Fraternal organizations, who also claim to promote morality, and organized religion are also in decline. Consider the Freemasons and their allied bodies, such as the Shrine, Grotto, Eastern Star, Scottish Rite, York Rite, Job’s Daughters, DeMolay, Rainbow Girls, et al. Membership in the Masons is in serious decline. So much so, Lodges and chapters of the various allied bodies are shrinking and closing their doors. According to the Masonic Service Association, membership in the Masons (in the United States) has dropped 68% since its high in 1959.

Attendance at church services has also dropped over the last fifty years, but appears to have stabilized, particularly as the Baby Boomers grow older. In December 2012, Gallup reported New England and the Northwest are now considered the most non-religious states in the country (with the South being the most religious). It’s hard to believe New England, the birthplace of many of our founding fathers, has retreated on religion.

Is the decline of fraternal and religious institutions indicative they are not keeping up with the times or are the attitudes of the public changing in terms of participating in such perceived moralistic organizations? Probably both. Are we really ashamed of participating in such organizations or are we being conditioned to think this way? I suspect the latter.

In the absence of everything else, our youth learn morality and religion from the media as delivered through technology. If morality and religion is lampooned, youth will take note and likely follow suit. It is rather sad when Hollywood has more sway in influencing children than their own parents.


Let’s try to define some basic moral values that all can accept. This should be done as a group discussion, be it at the dinner table or office. Here are some commonly referenced values:

* Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

* Respect elders and those in superior position.

* Adhere to the laws, rules and regulations of the land.

* Help, aid, and assist all persons less fortunate, as I am able to.

* Not wrong, cheat or defraud another.

* Respect the property of others.

* Work faithfully, professionally, and industriously for those employing my services.

* Respect the dignity of the human spirit and treat people equitably.


“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.

author, freemason, business management, from the edge
Freemasonry From the Edge

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.

Scottish rite, freemasonry, education, brent morris

A Timeline of High-Degree Masonry


Dr. S. Brent Morris, PM gives a video lecture from the WEOFM (Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry) series.

I have a lot of respect for Br. Morris and think you will appreciate this presentation. Originally published on the WEOFM website on December 31, 2011.

An interesting point, with the distribution of information today delving deep into masonic history, all discussion seems to reach the same point of origin.

Does this lack of further history devalue the history or does it merely give us a marker by which we can move from exploring Masonic history to studying present day contributions?

Either way, I think you’ll enjoy this presentation.

Masonic Holidays

Collected here are notable dates to those in the history of Freemasonry and founding dates of particular aspects of the craft.

If you know of a particular date that’s not on the list, drop it in the comments, and it will be added to the roll.

Unlike national holidays or religious observance holidays, these may (or may not) be widely celebrated, but should perhaps be considered as special days of note in the Masonic calendar and days to give pause for a few moments to reflect on their significance to the wider craft.

Follow this calendar on Google Calendars.

This is a living post in that it will be open to additions in the future.

Masonic Notable Dates


January 4–8, 1808 – Grand Lodge of Ohio was establishedº≠
January 9, 1844
– Grand Lodge of Iowa Founded
January 12th, 1886Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 Consecrated in London
January 13, 1818 – Grand Lodge of Indiana established º
January 14, 1892 – The beginning of the Allied Masonic Degrees in America
January 17, 1706
Ben Franklin born.  Statesman, Diplomat, Past Grand Master
January 17, 1865 – Grand Lodge of Nevada was founded in Virginia City, Nevada
January 17, 1872 – Grand Lodge of Utah was established≠
January 23, 1910SCIOTS adopted their name (originally Boosters from 1905)
January 25 1759 – Robert Burns born (d. July 21 1796)º
January 26, 1866 – Grand Lodge of Montana was founded≠
January 27, 1756 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart born (d.5 December 1791)º


February 7, 1981 – Grand Lodge of Alaska was established in Anchorage, Alaska
February 19, 1811 – Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia founded
February 22, 1732 – George Washington born, first President of the United States
February 24, 1853 – Grand Lodge of Minnesota foundedº


March 6, 1775Prince Hall, was made a Master Mason in Irish Constitution Military Lodge No. 441
March 12, 1807Albert Gallatin Mackey – d. June 20, 1881 – Masonic Author, notably of the Masonic Dictionary
March 17, 1856 – Grand Lodge of Kansas established, Wyandotte County, Kansasº
March 18, 1919Order of DeMolay founded in Kansas City, Missouri, later to become DeMolay International
March 25, 1882 – Grand Lodge of Arizona was established in Tucson

Maundy Thursday

A Feast Day that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. Maundy Thursday move between March 19th and April 22nd with the Easter holiday. Celebration is held on the Thursday before Easter.


April 6, 1922International Order of the Rainbow for Girls founded in McAlester, Oklahoma
April 8, 1790 – Grand Lodge of New Hampshire was founded≠
April 16, 1838 – Grand Lodge of Texas established in Houston, Texasº
April 17, 1787 – Grand Lodge of Maryland was founded
April 20, 1884 – Pope Leo XIII published an encyclical, Humanum Genus against Freemasonry based upon the hoax by Leo Taxil
April 21, 1821 – Grand Lodge of Missouri was founded in Columbia, Missouriº


May 6, 1850 – Grand Lodge of California was established in Sacramento, CA
May 11, 1865 – Grand Lodge of West Virginia was founded≠
May 17, 1921High Twelve founded, Sioux City, Iowa
May 20, 1989 – Grand Lodge of Hawaii founded
May 31, 1801
– Ordo ab Chao, Founding of the The Supreme Council, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, USA


June 1, 1820 – Grand Lodge of Maine was founded≠
June 6, 1806
– Grand Lodge of Delaware Established
June 11, 1821 – 
Grand Lodge of Alabama was established in Cahawba, Alabama°
June 13, 1889 – Grand Lodge of North Dakota was established at Mitchell, South Dakotaº
June 13, 1890 – Grotto, or the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm was founded, Hamilton, New York
June 14, 1873Order of the Amaranth organized  in New York City, New York
June 20, 1812 – Grand Lodge of Louisiana was established

June 20/21

Saint John the Baptist Day / Summer Solstice
St. John the Baptist Day as a religious holiday is celebrated on June 24°

June 22 1867 – Walter Leslie Wilmshurst born (d. July 22 1939)*
June 23, 1868
– Grand Lodge of Idaho founded

June 24, 1717

Proto Grand Lodge, Grand Lodge of London and Westminster forms at the Goose and Gridiron alehouse in St. Paul’s Churchyard, London, England.

June 27, 1791 – Grand Lodge of Rhode Island founded≠
June* of 1826 – Grand Lodge of Michigan was established (Bessel suggests September 14, 1844)º≠


July 3, 1863

The meeting of Armistead and Hancock on the battle field. Union Captain, and brother, Henry H. Bingham coming to the aid of Confederate Brigadier General, and brother, Lewis Addison Armistead. Said to be “one of the greatest examples of the ideals of Freemasonry in action” leading to the dedication of the Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial statue at the Gettysburg National Cemetery.≠

July 6, 1830 – Grand Lodge of Florida Founded
July 8, 1789
– Grand Lodge of Connecticut founded.
July 21, 1875 – Grand Lodge of South Dakota was formed≠
July 24, 1783 – Simón Bolívar (d. December 17, 1830) – Venezuelan military and political leader.

Like Washington and the American founding fathers, Bolívar played a key role in Latin America’s successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire. Bolivar was initiated in 1803 in the Masonic Lodge Lautaro which operated in Cadiz, Spain and was given the 33rd degree of Inspector General Honorary in April of 1824.

July 27, 1818 – Grand Lodge of Mississippi was founded
July 30, 1733 – Grand Lodge of Massachusetts founded


August 2, 1861 – Grand Lodge of Colorado founded
August 5, 1813
– Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite founded
August 7, 1742 – William Preston born – d. April 1, 1818.  Author of the revised Masonic Ritual
August 7, 1877 – Grand Lodge of New Mexico was founded≠


September 11, 1826 – the beginning of the Morgan Affair and the rise of the Anti Masonic Party – William Morgan arrested (and then abducted on September 12, 1826) in Canandaigua (city), New York
September 15, 1851 – Grand Lodge of Oregon was established (Bessel lists August 16)
September 21, 1880Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis consecrated
September 23, 1857 – Grand lodge of Nebraska was founded.º
September 26, 1872 – founding of the Ancient Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.
September 26, 1786 – Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania was established in Philadelphia, PA.

Feast of Tishiri

15th day of the 7th month – though the date moves with the Jewish Calendar (7th Month of the Jewish calendar somewhere between September and October).

The origin of the Feast of Tishri is described in the book of Leviticus where it is said that the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying that on the fifteenth day of the month of Tishri of the Hebrew civil calendar, “ye shall have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the Lord.” The Feast of Tishri is the Hebrew equivalent of Thanksgiving or Harvest festival.

The origins and significance of the Feast of Tishri make it the most Scottish Rite of festivals. No other occasion epitomizes the character and purpose of the Feast of Tishri more wholly than the dedication of King Solomon’s Temple. The rich legend of the Temples dedication, celebrated during the Feast of Tishri, is an essential part of the Fourteenth Degree.

By observing the Feast of Tishri, Scottish Rite Masons share the fraternal spirit and reaffirm our dedication to human concord and the brotherhood of all men. As Brothers, we resolve to build, as King Solomon did, peace for all mankind.


October 5, 1874 – Grand Lodge of Oklahoma was established≠
October 13, 1778 – Grand Lodge of Virginia was founded≠
October 15, 1794 – Grand Lodge of Vermont was established≠
October 16, 1800
– Grand Lodge of Kentucky established (founded 1788)º
October 18, 1911
– Corner Stone laid in the Construction of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction house of the Temple in Washington
October 20, 1920 – The Order of Job’s Daughters, founded in Omaha, Nebraska
October 23, 1894White Shrine of Jerusalem was incorporated
October 30, 1771 – Thomas Smith Webb, (d. July 6, 1819) author of Freemason’s Monitor or Illustrations of Masonry, the foundation text of the York Rite American system of Freemasonry and the Founding Father of the York or American Rite


November 6, 1876Order of the Eastern Star first General Grand Chapter formed in Indianapolis, Indiana.
November 21, 1838 – Grand Lodge of Arkansas Founded*
November 30, 1835 – Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain, – d. April 21, 1910.  Author, humorist lecturer, and father of American literature.
November 30Saint Andrews Day – The Feast of Saint Andrew


December 8, 1858 – Grand Lodge of Washington was established.≠
December 9, 1787
– Grand Lodge of North Carolina was established.º
December 11, 1822
– Grand Lodge of Illinois founded.
December 15, 1782 – Grand Lodge of New York was established.º
December 15, 1874 – Grand Lodge of Wyoming was formed.
December 16, 1786 – Grand Lodge of Georgia founded.
December 18, 1786 – Grand Lodge of New Jersey≠
December 18, 1843 – Grand lodge of Wisconsin established.≠

December 21st/22nd

Saint John the Evangelist Day/Winter Solstice. Saint John the Evangelist Day as a religious holiday is celebrated on December 27.

December 25: Christmas and Freemasonry

December 27, 1813

United Grand Lodge of England established, the proto Grand Lodge,  Grand Lodge of London and Westminster forms on June 24, 1717

December 27, 1783 – Grand Lodge of South Carolina was established.≠
December 27, 1813 – Grand Lodge of Tennessee was formed.
December 29, 1809 – Albert Pike, author of Morals and Dogma born,  d. April 2, 1891 (aged 81)
December 31New Years Eve-Auld Lang Syne

° – Wikipedia
≠ – From Paul Bessel’s Website
* – Secondary source

Let’s Have An Online Discussion

Harmon Weston over at the (now defunct) Blue Lite forum posted the following:

 Modern Freemasonry was born in an environment where the laws of Church and State overlapped significantly (and still do if you scratch them with a soft cloth). A group of free-thinkers got together in a pub and closed the door, not because they were conspiring to take over the world but because they wanted to discuss things the “authorities” would prefer they didn’t and might well have prosecuted, persecuted or burned them at the stake if they were discovered. Ignorant, scared and (philosophically) illiterate people have always been the darlings of governments because they are easy to control, and over the centuries, many of our Brethren have been labelled “troublemakers” simply because they were publicly prepared to ask valid questions the “authorities” were not prepared or able to answer.”

blue light

Granted Masons are not supposed to be openly political when gathered as Brothers, but isn’t Liberty one of the defining requirements of Freemasonry?

Is not freedom of the individual a part of Masonic thought that permeates the Craft

Freemasonry was born out of the Enlightenment where church and state despotism was discarded by Masons for the New Age of freedom. Should Freemasons then not uphold the right of every individual in the world be a master of their own destiny? Are free-thinkers required to keep their mouths shut if they are Freemasons? Are Freemasons largely responsible for the rise of democratic government in the world?  If so why must they avoid talking about politics (as distinguished from partisan politics)?

Doesn’t the quote help explain the secrecy in Freemasonry?


History of Scandinavian Freemasonry

Scandinavian MasonryThe evolution of Scandinavian Masonry by Dr. Andreas Önnerfors as published on the World Wide Exemplification of Freemasonry, better known as WEoFM.

He is the former director of First Academic center of Freemasonry and Fraternalism at the University of Sheffield.

In this lecture, Dr. Önnerfors explores the history of Scandinavian Freemasonry and the dissemination of Freemasonry in the Danish and Scandinavian world.

Interestingly, he explores this style of Masonry and its strong Christian connections.

The Evolution of Scandinavian Freemasonry from WEOFM on Vimeo.

Freemasonry’s Epic History

Frontispiece from Anderson's Constitutions

Frontispiece from Anderson’s Constitutions

Any Freemason that has taken a moment to delve into the history of Freemasonry, has undoubtedly discovered a legendary history of the order. Typically these histories will include an account of the fraternity as carried down from Adam through the building of King Solomon’s Temple and practiced by Pythagoras. For many Freemasons, these histories are confusing. While they are very grand and interesting, they leave much to be desired by the inquiring mind. Today, we will examine where these legends came from, discuss their purpose, and hopefully shed some light on these epic Masonic histories.

The first known account of Masonic history that included prominent characters from the Bible and the classic periods was included in Anderson’s Constitutions of the Free-Masons. This particular history is very elaborate and includes the great influence of Masonry throughout the existence of man, including its effect on the history of England. Anderson’s Constitutions does not explain whence this account originated nor does it reference any documents which can provide additional information. It is a speculative account of Freemasonry’s origins, which was developed to imply the greater grandeur of the noble order.

The practice of creating these histories was not uncommon during the period that Anderson composed the Constitutions. A quick investigation of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows will show that this organization also provides a speculative history. Some trace that particular order back to the exile of the Israelites in Babylon.2,3 These elaborate histories are intended to provide a sense of pride in the fraternity by appealing to one’s religious and geographical identity. Not surprisingly, the founders of modern Freemasonry in England included characters from the Old Testament and British royalty in their history to appeal to their member’s religious beliefs and patriotism. Perhaps the fact that the Freemasons had one of the most detailed and awe-inspiring historical accounts contributed to their unmatched success as a fraternal order.

Despite the fact that this historical account seems obviously fabricated to create a greater reverence for Masonry, many Masonic scholars have expanded upon these legends. These elaborations are probably the primary reason that some Freemasons are quite convinced that these legends are true. Albert G. Mackey, Albert Pike, and Manly P. Hall are among those that embellish the first Masonic epic from the Constitutions of 1723. These accounts include a detailed history of how Masonry was established and passed among the Hebrews, the union of chivalric orders such as the Knights Templar with Freemasonry, and the effects of the mystic traditions on the fraternity. Whether these scholars intended for their histories to be viewed as legendary or factual is unknown. What is known is that these accounts are completely lacking in any historical basis and like the history provided by Anderson, was probably intended to provide a sense of purpose for the order.

What we do know about the origins of Freemasonry is that the first Grand Lodge was formed in the early 18th Century by a few speculative lodges that had been operating independently for some time. We may never know the true history of our speculative art, but we can take pride in the organization that it has become. Additionally, our speculative history does serve as the basis for many of our beautiful degrees. It is entertaining and rich in symbolism. It is a part of who we are as a fraternity and as long as we recognize the Masonic legend for its ritualistic significance and not as factual evidence of our longevity, it will continue to serve our noble order well.

Be All You Can Be in Occult America

Occult America by Mitch Horowitz

I just had the pleasure of finishing Mitch Horowitz’s book Occult America and am a bit surprised at the story it tells, and some of what it doesn’t.

Only recently did I come across the 2010 Bantum Books edition, (the first edition published in hardback in 2009) and it was the sub headline of the books title Occult America: White House Seances, Ouija Circles, Masons, and the Secret Mystic History of Our Nation, that grabbed me, making an interesting premise to open the cover and start reading the book.

Once started, it delivers – developing a body of ideas creating an evolution of thought influenced in an era before the Catholic witch trials of Cagliostro and began in the new world with the voyage of the Quaking Shaker Ann Lee (later to re-dubbed Mother Ann) who traveled from Manchester in 1774 to New York with a cohort of 8 followers who together cobbled resources to form a small religious colony in Niskayuna near Albany.

Horowitz takes on a daunting task, the challenge of not sounding encyclopedic and pulling a variety of disparate pieces of Americana together to tease this occult history out from the facts.  In some ways, the telling of Occult America mirrors the troubled story of Mother Ann that Horowitz introduces us to in the opening of the book, inauspiciously to the unintentional spread of ideas everywhere.

So as not to ruin the fun of discovering the secret history for yourself Occult America links together a progression of thought, in an age not known for its wide degree of communication, that at its present day apex has shaped the widest segment of religious and spiritual thought to such a degree that, Horowitz suggests, shaped the 1980 to 2001 “Be all you can be” slogan of the U.S. Army as a mantra of sorts to the ultimate of New Thought self development.  His suggestion is that many aspects of the New Age philosophy (what was at first called “New Thought”) have become integral to much (if not most) of out day to day life.

Sydney Omarr, son of a grocer and housewife, was at one time dubed by Time magazne Astrology’s “most skillful and sober public protagonist.” In Occult America, Horowitz explores how Omarr went from magic shop cruiser and Atlantic City fortune teller to the grandfather of modern newspaper astrology still published in newspapers today.

How so, you might be wondering?

Just a few of the ideas that were at one point considered occult include the evolution of human consciousness, the connection of the mind-body-spirit health, and the ever growing trend of people moving (which data supports) away from organized religion to pursue instead a spirituality.  All of these various aspects, he says, have a root in the developments of the past 200 years through this subculture of Americana.  For those who may not remember, even the Scottish Rite Journal was titled the New Age for many years and represented a fraternal flag ship to the movement.

In some respects, you could bookend Occult America with Jeff Sharlet’s The Family because as the Family chronicles the rise of the Fundamentalist religious right, Horowitz traces a line through the various sub culture movements that transmitted one idea to the next movement and so on.  As a Masonic reader you will be interested to know that at points he acknowledges the presence of Freemasonry as well as other esoteric/occult groups as major players to the dissemination of ideas.

What the book doesn’t do, which might be a product of necessitating many more pages, is chronicle the earlier presence of occult ideas that at the time were a regular part of the American landscape.  For instance, it’s impossible to look at the early American development without seeing Freemasonry (Washington was inaugurated on a Masonic bible which speaks to its presence) as a major contributor in many earlier instances.  Horowitz does touch on this earlier history, but he starts his telling with the founding of Mother Ann’s religious Shaker colony and its promulgation of ideas forward.

Ouija Board, talking board

One of the more entertaining chapters that I enjoyed was the lineage of the Ouija Board, started in the age of séances and the selling of spiritualism.  He makes a very good case for how the rapping tables and automatic-writers of the burgeoning psychic era moved from formalized sitting room sessions to game boards made by Hasbro (now Glow in the Dark) to sit between two kanoodling lovers knees playing slide the planchette.

(I did stumble across a cool glass topped octagonal Tree Of Life Ouija board that’s worth looking at here.)

You can almost sum up the history of the Occult in America in the story of the Ouija Board, from the home spun to the highly processed and manufactured message, but to do so would omit so much of the rich history that the Occult has traced through America, and Horowitz has really captured in an album of snapshots of our esoteric landscape starting with Mother Ann, who was at the time called by her followers “Christ returned in female form.”

I definitely recommend Occult America: White House Seances, Ouija Circles, Masons, and the Secret Mystic History of Our Nation as a fun and light read into the heavy and often deeply woven history of the New Thought/New Age America we live in today.

Freemason Tim Bryce.

Bryce American History Quiz

Last week I asked my readers to take a simple quiz regarding American government and history. I wanted to see just how well we knew some of the basics, such as our governing docs and some historical events. Nothing elaborate, I just wanted to take a pulse of our knowledge in general. 134 brave souls took the quiz for which I give my thanks. I didn’t want the quiz to be complicated which is why I tried to keep it as simple as possible. I could have asked for such things as age and political party affiliation, but I didn’t want to muddy the waters and turn people off.

Out of those who took the test, probably 25 people got a perfect score. I was not surprised by this as I didn’t try to invent a complicated quiz, just something that could give us some fundamental idea of what we know and what we don’t.

The quiz was far from scientific, yet I believe I can draw some conclusions from it based on the input. But first, let’s review the responses to each question. I’ll show both the number of responses and the percentage of the total, followed by my comments.


1. Signed in 1620, it is the first governing document of Plymouth Colony as written by the colonists, later known to history as the Pilgrims. It was in essence a social contract in which the settlers consented to follow the document’s rules and regulations for the sake of survival.

22 – 17% – Magna Carta
92 – 69% – Mayflower Compact (CORRECT)
06 – 04% – Pilgrim Declaration
12 – 09% – Plymouth Compact
02 – 01% – Standish Consent and Decree

Comment: I considered this a tricky question as most people are unaware of any American history prior to 1776. I was pleasantly surprised to see how many people got it right. Those that answered “Magna Carta” disappointed me; even though it is an important document that influenced others, it was still developed in England, not America. I consider it significant that people recognized its name though. By the way, the last three, Pilgrim Declaration, Plymouth Compact, and Standish Consent and Degree were figments of my imagination.

2. How many “separate but equal” branches are there in the U.S. Federal Government?

000 – 00% – 1
002 – 01% – 2
131 – 98% – 3 (CORRECT)
001 – 01% – 4
000 – 00% – 50

Comment: People may have gotten other parts of the quiz wrong, but somehow the concept of “three separate but equal branches of government” representing the checks and balances of government has been successfully stamped into our brains. Only three people missed this.

3. What is the following quote from?
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

27 – 20% – Bill of Rights
94 – 70% – Declaration of Independence (CORRECT)
06 – 05% – Gettysburg Address
00 – 00% – Oath of Office
07 – 05% – US Constitution

Comment: The lion’s share of answers went correctly to the Declaration of Independence, but I was surprised to see how many people picked the Bill of Rights. As an aside, many of us had to memorize this section of the Declaration in elementary school.

4. Which U.S. President was NOT impeached?

34 – 25% – Bill Clinton
20 – 15% – Andrew Johnson
80 – 60% – Richard Nixon (CORRECT)

Comment: I expected this kind of response to the question. Richard Nixon resigned before impeachment proceedings could begin. The other two were impeached, meaning to hold trial in the Senate, yet were found not guilty. No U.S. President has ever been forcibly removed from office through peaceful means (assassination is another matter altogether).

5. What is the following quote from?
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,…”

04 – 03% – Bill of Rights
32 – 24% – Declaration of Independence
02 – 01% – Gettysburg Address
00 – 00% – Oath of Office
96 – 72% – US Constitution (CORRECT)

Comment: Most people got this correct, but notice how many confused it for the Declaration of Independence. This particular quote is from the Preamble of the Constitution. Like the Declaration, many of us had to memorize this in grade school, but I don’t think they do so anymore.

6. What U.S. President served as commander-in-chief during World War I?

11 – 08% – Calvin Coolidge
07 – 05% – Warren Harding
18 – 13% – Theodore Roosevelt
03 – 03% – William Howard Taft
95 – 71% – Woodrow Wilson (CORRECT)

Comment: I expected this question to be a little tougher as a lot of us have forgotten the events of nearly 100 years ago. Baby boomers may still be familiar with World War II, but I thought they would surely have problems with the first war, “The War to end all Wars.” I wasn’t surprised that Teddy Roosevelt captured the number of responses that he did simply because of his strong name recognition. By the way, William Howard Taft was the only President who also became Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (and the first to throw out a baseball on opening day).

7. What is the following quote from?
“…and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

001 – 01% – Bill of Rights
000 – 00% – Declaration of Independence
000 – 00% – Gettysburg Address
127 – 95% – Oath of Office (CORRECT)
006 – 04% – US Constitution

Comment: I was flabbergasted that anyone got this wrong. The six who answered “US Constitution” should have read the question more carefully.

8. What is the following quote from?
“…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

005 – 04% – Bill of Rights
002 – 01% – Declaration of Independence
122 – 91% – Gettysburg Address (CORRECT)
000 – 00% – Oath of Office
005 – 04% – US Constitution

Comment: I was pleased to see most people remembered Lincoln’s speech. Interestingly, Lincoln was not the keynote speaker that day and, because of this, his words were almost overlooked by reporters in attendance. Thank God somebody was paying attention.

9. It stated that further efforts by European countries to colonize land or interfere with states in the Americas would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention. It asserted that the Western Hemisphere was not to be further colonized by European countries but that the United States would neither interfere with existing European colonies nor meddle in the internal concerns of European countries.

009 – 07% – Emancipation Proclamation
002 – 01% – Kansas-Nebraska Act
000 – 00% – Kennedy Doctrine
116 – 87% – Monroe Doctrine (CORRECT)
007 – 05% – NATO Accord

Comment: I was pleasantly surprised by this one as I had assumed many people had forgotten about the Monroe doctrine, an important document which, to this day, is still in effect. I wonder if those who answered “Emancipation Proclamation” really understood the significance of that document. Probably not.

10. Which U.S. President was NOT directly involved with the Vietnam War?

81 – 60% – Dwight Eisenhower (CORRECT)
49 – 27% – Gerald Ford
01 – 01% – Lyndon Johnson
03 – 02% – John Kennedy
00 – 00% – Richard Nixon

Comment: This was perhaps my most controversial question as some of you argued that Eisenhower sent advisers to Viet Nam. True, but we send advisors to a lot of places. Viet Nam was Kennedy’s “line in the sand” to stop the proliferation of Communism. As to Ford, he inherited the Paris Peace talks from Nixon following his resignation and was in charge when we finally pulled out in 1975. Interestingly, I find younger people have no clue about this war whatsoever.


A few things occurred to me as I was compiling the results. First, the Gettysburg Address is better known than the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The Gettysburg Address is a moving speech but it certainly doesn’t bear the significance of our governing documents.

Second, it seemed to me that a lot of people cannot distinguish between the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. They view them as synonymous documents. For what it’s worth, the Declaration was used to sever Britain’s authority over its American colonies. The U.S. Constitution specifies how the government is to operate. The Bill of Rights is an attachment to the Constitution and specifies the basic rights of the citizens, specifically the first ten amendments. It was greatly influenced by such documents as the “Magna Carta.” All three documents, the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, are important reads that all citizens should be familiar with, not just students in grade school.

Finally, here are the number of correct answers versus incorrect answers submitted on the quiz:

1034 – 77% – Correct Answers
0306 – 23% – Incorrect Answers

In most schools, a 77% would represent a “C” which is probably not as bad as we think. Actually, this number is probably higher than the national average as I like to believe my readers are smarter than most.

Keep the Faith!

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

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

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Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


Glenn Beck – The Illuminati is going to off him…

Chris Hodapp over on Freemasons for Dummies does a terrific job of capturing the exchange of Glenn Beck and David Barton, from the Wallbuilders ministry organization, on the Fox News Channel in an exchange over the Founding Fathers and Freemasonry.

As Br. Chris captures the exchange perfectly, there seemed to be more misinformation given than factual info.  See for yourself in this clip from the program.

I won’t get into the facts of the program, but as discussed by Barton such as Washington’s sincerity in Masonry, his lodge activity, or the difference between American and European Masonry at the time.  One document I will point you towards is The Origin of Freemasonry written by a contemporary of Washington, one amongst the pantheon of founding fathers, Thomas Paine.  I’m sure Barton may glean much from this short work.


As for Beck, if you haven’t’ paid close attention to his program lately, he has laid a foundation of the Founding Fathers atop the gestalt of Faith, Hope, and Charity even promoting it so far as to create his own university of the triumvirate as the great virtues.  Samuel Adams as Faith, George Washington as Hope, and Franklin as Charity which unmistakably two of the three were prominent Freemasons, one of whom was a Grand Master of Freemasons in Pennsylvania in 1734.

But, to Beck, the principals of Faith, hope, and Charity (as seen on these products) are the principals that, he says, are Christian principals which Beck has tied to American Principals and supports with the edifice of the founding fathers.  He’s developed it to a point that he’s formed his own Beck University to impart them.  While the ideas behind these great social virtues are rightly extolled, what Beck missed is that Faith, Hope, and Charity were ideas adopted into Freemasonry as three tenants by which the Mason were to strive for, but not I would argue, in the way Beck suggests.

Faith – a faith in the divine, the Great Architect, the primitive idea of deity that all men can agree, founded on the Golden Rule, the principal of Do unto others as you would have done to you.

Hope – As an idea that stretches into antiquity as an evil released from Pandora’s Box which entered the world to torment man.

Charity – Is a simple idea that translates to the agape styled love, a fraternal brotherly love towards mankind, which facilitates the other two.

These are three subjects I cover in much greater detail in the book Masonic Traveler.

So, if Beck and Barton won’t brush up on their Masonic history maybe you can help let him know and send him an email to with your thoughts about it.