Freemason Tim Bryce.


Can it be expressed as a calculation?

It had been three years since Joshua Steivenson’s father passed away, yet the son was still cleaning out his father’s belongings. The old wooden house in Buffalo, New York was built in the 1930’s. Years ago, the cellar included an ancient coal furnace and chute, typical for the time. His father, Millard, converted it to a gas furnace a few decades ago in order to develop a clean and quiet place to study. His mother, who still maintained the house, encouraged Joshua to clean up his father’s belongings as she did not want to deal with it anymore. Everything in the cellar was tidy, which is uncharacteristic of a mathematician, but his voluminous books and notes filled shelf after shelf. Joshua had cleaned up the attic and his father’s closets upstairs, but it was now the cellar’s turn for attention. He had looked forward to pouring through his father’s notes, as he remembered the amount of effort and detail the elder devoted to them.

Millard Steivenson was a well known mathematician who had worked at the old Westinghouse plant years ago. His calculations were primarily used in manufacturing and design, earning him accolades not just from his employer, but with other mathematicians through his research papers. Joshua had followed in his father’s footsteps by also becoming a mathematician. As he grew up, father and son spent numerous hours arguing over formulas and equations; it was tremendous mental gymnastics, something both enjoyed immensely. Now that his father was gone, Joshua was eager to look through the elder’s body of work.

Millard’s notes were maintained in meticulous chronological order, in three ring binders, representing over sixty years worth of logic. This made it particularly interesting to study and watch his father’s work evolve over time. A lot of it consisted of simple formulas for use in product design, but now and then, he would try to explain concepts in physics which were often submitted to a mathematics union where papers were printed in journals and arguments presented, both pro and con. The father’s work was frequently featured in these journals.

Day after day, Joshua absorbed the journals, often going late into the evening. He remembered some of his father’s early work, but most of the pages included unfamiliar formulas and algorithms. Analyzing each computation, Joshua began to understand his expressions without having to review the accompanying notes. It all made sense to him. Then, in a binder from December 1965 he happened upon a section marked, “The Secret of Happiness,” consisting of a rather lengthy equation describing in mathematical terms how a person can discover his own personal happiness. This piqued Joshua’s interest as he didn’t recall his father discussing this concept and thought it a rather odd subject for a mathematician to pursue.

Joshua poured through the extensive formula carefully. At the heart of his father’s argument was the identification of a person’s purpose in life, both personal and professional, plus the motivation to achieve them, thus resulting in joy through fulfillment. By doing so, a person could elevate their personal self esteem through their chosen vocation and find happiness. Also included was mathematical language describing how to overcome adversity, to teach morality by discerning right from wrong, and the necessity to subdue passions, such as anger, greed and lust. It was all rather extensive. Basically, the formula was intended to unlock a person’s inner self. More importantly, Joshua couldn’t find anything wrong in the logic. It appeared everything was properly defined and interconnected. The son was rather impressed and began to quietly chuckle knowing of no other attempt to write such a formula. However, why had his father kept it a secret for so many years?

Following the formula, there were several accompanying notes, including reviews of the work. Years ago, his father had submitted a paper regarding the formula to the mathematics union. However, it was rejected out of hand with some rather sharp critiques with the contention, “You cannot synthesize human emotion.” Joshua was surprised by the open rebuff, particularly after analyzing the formula carefully. The critics even went so far as to publicly ridicule him, which may explain why his father stopped working on it. As Joshua read through the criticisms, he became angry as it became rather obvious few of the respondents had actually read the formula. The last note written by his father on the subject was a short footnote which appeared to be added many years afterwards; it simply read, “Joshua, when you are ready,” and was circled in red ink. This surprised Joshua who interpreted it as a request from his father to pursue the formula again.

As it was late, Joshua went to sleep thinking about both the formula and the criticisms of it. The logic was perfect, yet people didn’t seem to grasp the significance of it fifty years ago. What about today? What about today?…

The next morning, Joshua decided to resubmit the formula to the mathematics union for their consideration. He included an introductory letter, and updated his father’s supporting notes. One short week later, his documents were returned by the union with a strong letter condemning the work. “We are well familiar with your father’s work in this regard. As we notified him years ago, we do not consider this a viable formula. Trying to calculate human emotion is pure folly. Please do not waste our time again. Sincerely…”

Joshua was surprised the formula was dismissed out of hand so quickly. Perhaps too quickly. Obviously they didn’t study it in detail as the logic was flawless. He was particularly perturbed by their skepticism.

The refutation did not deter Joshua. As he was also well versed in computer programming, he decided to write an “app” for the formula suitable to be used in smart phones, tablets and computers. He expended considerable time coding the formula into the program. Special touch screen technology was added to simplify the use of the program. To do so, a person would simply need to press and hold his/her finger on the app logo whereby a screen was displayed showing the person’s hidden desires. This was done by accessing the person’s central nervous system through the finger where the logical and emotional spheres of the brain were read and scrutinized. The analysis judged the person’s intellectual and emotional stability, frustrations, along with wants and desires. From this, it would visually display the person’s preferences for happiness and offered viable alternatives for achieving them. Basically, it was offering a blueprint for the person’s next stage in life.

Joshua tested the program thoroughly on himself and was surprised to discover he should be making adjustments in his own life; suggestions he immediately understood and embraced. After making the last few technical adjustments, he uploaded the app to the various Internet app stores for free public download under the name, “The Secret of Happiness.” After he uploaded it, he called it a night and went to bed.

The next morning, he checked on the app counter and found 325 people had downloaded it overnight and more were continuing to do so before his eyes. When checking his e-mail queue, he discovered several messages praising him for the app and how it already was changing people’s lives for the better. Day after day, Joshua watched as hundreds of people downloaded the app, then thousands, then tens of thousands, there was no stopping it as it went viral in the first week. News reporters took notice and began contacting Joshua for interviews. Many had used it themselves and became fans well before they asked their first question. This resulted in an avalanche of publicity and “The Secret of Happiness” became the darling of the press. The requests for interviews and correspondence overwhelmed Joshua, so much so, he started to shy away from reading his email.

Then one day, a letter arrived in the mail from the mathematics union requesting a personal interview with Joshua regarding the formula. This surprised him after receiving the terse letter earlier. The tone of the letter was less antagonistic, so he agreed to meet with the union.

Joshua appeared in the union’s offices at the arranged time, dressed in suit and tie. As he waited to be announced, he looked around the office. The building was massive and very well equipped and decorated. It appeared the union didn’t suffer financially, but he wondered how it was paid for; this certainly couldn’t be based on just equations and formulas.

A receptionist led him into an opulent board room with a beautiful table, chairs, and state-of-the-art multimedia screens on the walls. Several officials greeted him, seven in all, and asked him to take a seat. All were much older than Joshua and were dressed as authoritative figures. Their demeanor was serious, giving Joshua the uneasy feeling this was going to be more of an inquisition than a casual interview.

“Mr, Steivenson,” the Chairman began, “We have asked you here to discuss the app you introduced using your father’s formula for happiness. As you know, we have reviewed the formula, both recently and years ago, and found it unacceptable as a means of defining happiness through mathematical language. In fact, we believe it to be reckless on your part to release this to the public as an app.”

“Sir,” Joshua responded, “There is nothing compelling people to use the app. It also comes with a warning that it can only be used on a voluntary basis. So far, I have received no complaints, only compliments from the public, that it is helping them realize their potential and improve their quality of life.”

“We’re well aware of that,” the Chairman continued, “and that’s part of what disturbs us; we’ve tried it ourselves and could not see how it works on any of us here. It didn’t impact us, so we thought this was nothing but a scam or placebo, and are willing to go to the press in order to get you to retract your claims of its effectiveness. We do not wish to see the public suffer.”

“Suffer?” Joshua said, “Hardly. I have testimonials from hundreds, if not thousands of people from all over the world who have described the positive impact the app and the formula has had in influencing their lives positively. The formula does, in fact, work, but only for those who want to believe happiness can be attained in their lifetime. In your case, I knew you would not accept it, so I added a ‘skeptic’ function to my father’s formula, whereby it will not work with people such as yourselves who do not possess an open mind.”

“You mean…”

“Yes, in order for it to work, you must either believe in the formula or are willing to give it an honest try. Since your minds have already been made up, regardless of how ridiculous your arguments are, you will never be able to use it and, as such, will never realize how it can help you with your lives.”

“That’s preposterous,” the Chairman exclaimed, “You cannot use math to deduce skepticism.”

“Really?” Joshua said smugly, “You also said that about my father’s happiness formula and I now have millions of people who have a new outlook on life thanks to it. You do not believe simply because you do not WANT to believe, and that is sad. It is hard to make progress when the people in charge invent irrational egotistical roadblocks. Sometimes you have to do an end-run to get something done. Good day, gentlemen.”

Joshua rose from his chair and turned to exit. Before he could leave though, the Chairman said strongly, “Young man, you have no idea who you are dealing with; no idea whatsoever. You better be careful.” Joshua didn’t like the sabre rattling but chalked it up to old men in their dotage, and he departed.

Following the meeting, Joshua returned home and to an adoring public who thanked him many times over for helping them rebuild their lives and pointing them in the right direction. The app was so infectious, the mood of the country began to change. A wild spirit of entrepreneurship and prosperity blanketed the nation consisting of new companies offering new products and services, all built or delivered with a high sense of craftsmanship. Consequently, the Gross Domestic Product began to rise, money was generated for the people and taxes; so much so, the federal debt was arrested and actually began to retreat. People no longer resisted going to work, but openly welcomed it instead. Grades in schools substantially improved, and education was made meaningful again. Crime rates declined radically, as did unemployment, and spending on welfare. America awoke from the doldrums to once again become a leader in industry. The rest of the world started reporting similar successes as well.

Then, one day, a computer virus was quietly introduced to the world over the Internet, some claimed it originated from China but nobody knew for sure. It was designed to seek out and destroy Joshua’s “Happiness” app and the virus circled the globe like wild fire deleting it from all machines. In just five short days, it had completely eradicated the app, including Joshua’s machine containing the source code for the program. It was gone, all gone, and the public’s attitudes began to shift back to complacency as before the app was introduced.

Joshua could not understand who or why anyone would want to destroy the app. He began to investigate the virus by capturing and dissecting the code embedded within it. Inside he found some interesting clues consisting of mathematical formulas and expressions leading him to believe he had been sabotaged by the mathematics union. Infuriated, he rushed to the union building and demanded an audience with the Chairman, and surprisingly, it was granted.

Although he felt his blood boil, he stopped to take a breath and regain his composure before entering the Chairman’s office. He desperately did not want to express panic under pressure and maintain a cool demeanor.

As he entered the office, the Chairman greeted him, “Good afternoon Mr. Steivenson, I have been expecting you.”

“You have?” asked Joshua.

“When we heard your app was the target of a virus, we knew you would blame us.”

“And I suppose you are going to claim ignorance on the matter?” Joshua asked.

The chairman came out from behind his desk and sat down next to Joshua. In a calm and fatherly voice, he said, “No, Joshua, we had nothing do do with it. At our last meeting, I tried to warn you that you had no idea who you were dealing with, and to a certain extent, neither does our own organization. We are the eyes and ears for various government agencies around the world, who happen to fund our work, something we are paid well for.”

He continued, “I will admit I opposed your father’s formula at first, but I finally overcame my skepticism which allowed me to work with your app. Frankly, I was amazed how well it understood me and recommended changes in my life which I have embraced. Believe me, you wouldn’t have gotten into this building if I didn’t believe the app worked. I apologize for not believing in your work and not encouraging you to pursue it, but I was directed to discourage you and let the matter drop, as your father did years ago.”

“Why was that?”

“Joshua, ask yourself the question; what government would want its citizens to be truly happy? You’ve already seen some of the effects your app has had on our country, that we were becoming a vibrant society again, one that began to challenge the status quo and change the political landscape. That is more than any politician can stand. They want apathetic voters and people with a low confidence level, thereby making them more inclined to accept government control. I honestly do not know which country produced the virus, it could have been America, China, Russia or many others, it doesn’t matter, it was inevitable. They simply do not want the citizens to rise beyond their control. Your app was a very real threat to them, so I am not surprised. I know this isn’t much solace, but I’m honestly sorry about all this. I had no idea it would go this far.”

Joshua slouched in his chair. He realized he was defeated. To pursue his dream meant doing combat with the governments of the world, very much a losing proposition.

Days after his meeting, Joshua returned to his father’s cellar and organized his notes in another three-ring binder. Included was a printed copy of the app’s source code which Joshua had printed prior to his computer being attacked, along with schematics and other documentation explaining the program’s logic.

Before closing the binder for the last time, he took out a red pen and wrote on the last page, “For my son, when you are ready.” He then swept the cellar, made sure it was as tidy as his father had kept it, and turned off the lights.

NOTE: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters in this story and any real person, living or dead, is not intentional and purely coincidental.

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 © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

The Old Past Master Battles Mainstream Madness Part 3


The Old Past Master presented his plan and a masterful one it was. He told the Lodge that it came down to a matter of fight or flight –  or cave in which was the least palatable option. He said that he would present the flight alternative but that those who wished to stay could stay.

“As this Lodge is only 50 miles from the state line I looked into literally transferring our Lodge into another state”, he said. The Old Past Master then related how he had spoken to the Grand Master of the adjoining state (they were old friends) about whether what he proposed would meet with any objections. The Grand Master told him that as long as he was not involved in a war with another jurisdiction, as long as he did not have to take sides and if the Brethren from The Old Past Master’s Lodge wished to apply for plural membership in his state and then later apply for a new Lodge charter, well that was all legal and above board and he could see no violation of his jurisdiction’s Constitution and would welcome them.

Then The Old Past Master informed his Lodge that he had spoken to the Master of Smithville Lodge in Smithville right on the border. They had a nice building and he asked whether an entire Lodge of Brethren affiliating with his Lodge who would perhaps in the future apply for a charter of their own would be acceptable. The Master informed him that as long as they all paid a year’s dues without the possibility of any rebates they were most welcome.

But The Old Past Master was not finished yet. He then advised the Lodge that it would be wise to sell their existing Lodge. The way things were going at Grand Lodge another edict might come down from the Grand Master that all Lodge buildings were to become the property of Grand Lodge. Thus the funds from this Lodge would be forever lost. The Old Past Master said that he knew that the Prince Hall Lodge in this area, now meeting in temporary headquarters, was looking to purchase a permanent location. He broached the Master and offered to sell this Lodge for a reduced cost, no money down and that his Lodge would be the banker providing Prince Hall would grant his Lodge a 99 year lease free of charge. He made the offer contingent on approval by a vote of the Lodge and the Prince Hall Master said that he needed to do likewise.

After his presentation Master Reynolds asked the Lodge to hold all discussion until the stated meeting two weeks hence. And he admonished all that what was said within the walls of the Lodge room stayed within the walls of the Lodge room. He said that all the Brethren needed time to think things over and that many right now might be on information overload. With that he promptly closed Lodge. Much discussion followed with the collation after Lodge but no decisions were made.


For the second time the Master was there already when The Old Past Master pulled into the Lodge Parking Lot. This was going to be a large and long stated meeting and perhaps for some the last at this location.

The Old Past Master breezed into the office.

“Worshipful, everything is happening so quickly.”

“I know. It is for the best. Let us get our heads together once more to prepare for one heck of a night.”

And so they did, the Master and his right hand man, The Old Past Master.

Master Reynolds opened Lodge right on the dot of 7:00 PM dispensing with all formalities except the reading of the minutes of the last Special Communication after which he addressed the Lodge.

past_master_jewel 2

“Brethren we have all had two weeks to ponder the proposals of The Old Past Master and his committee, Master Reynolds started off. “We owe these Brethren a debt of gratitude. I have spoken to many, many of you either via telephone or E-Mail. At times my wife thought maybe I was operating a bookie joint out of the house.”

“I have heard from about 20 Brethren that they have already applied for affiliation to Smithville Lodge in our neighboring state,” he continued. “I have done likewise myself. Tonight it is a time to say goodbye to some, to make sure we provide for those who are staying and to vote on whether to sell the Lodge building. So let’s open the floor for discussion.”

“Yes, Senior Warden Leavitt.”

“I will be joining you in Smithville as well as will the rest of your officers to a man”, offered Senior Warden Leavitt. “I will miss this building and will hold in memory all the great times that I have been a part of here. But a new day is dawning, a day that will see us not among the downtrodden but rather flourishing in peace and harmony.”

“Here, here,” rose a chorus from the sidelines.

“I guess all of us will miss this place”, stated Brother Garcia. “Why I remember when we had the Kilwinning Degree Team here to a packed house. Even the Grand Master came that night and instead off battling us he locked arms and sang Auld Lang Syne with us.”

“I remember the night we had a roast of now departed Past Master Lee,” responded Past Master Hathaway. “Oh what a night that was!”

And so it went on for the better part of an hour. Each Brother rose to tell a story of a time in the past where the Lodge held a grand affair which meant something special to him. After the stories died down Master Reynolds again addressed his Lodge.

“Now comes the part where we must decide the fate of the Lodge building. I have heard from the Prince Hall Master who informs me that his Lodge has accepted our offer of sale. We must now vote on whether to sell this building.”

“I move that this Lodge building be sold to the Prince Hall Lodge according to the stipulations drawn up by The Old Past Master and his committee,” proposed Secretary Levin.

“Second the motion,“ Brother Allendes added.

“Brethren you have heard the motion to sell this building,” said Master Reynolds. “Is there any discussion on the motion?”

“Is this something that will go through right away,” asked Brother Brown, “before word gets out that we are jumping ship and the Grand Master steps in to void the sale?”

“Day after tomorrow we will be passing papers if we get a favorable vote here tonight,” replied Master Reynolds.

“Seeing no other questions, all in favor say aye, those opposed nay. The ayes have it, the building will be sold.”

Master Reynolds having heard one or two nays further stated, “Sorry Brethren but this is one instance where majority rules.”

“Until such time as we figure out where our Lodge will ultimately land or if there will actually be two Lodges, one in each state, we will set up a trust fund to receive payments from the Prince Hall Lodge,” stated Master Reynolds. At such time as there is a final determination of our fate the trust fund will be fairly allocated.”

“Past Master Steuben, I understand you will be one of the ones staying.”

Yes Worshipful, I am too old to do all that traveling,” replied Past Master Steuben.

“Well as the senior member here I will appoint you to organize those who remain after we depart as most of us will be demitting from here after we are fully entrenched in our new jurisdiction. Now let us close Lodge and celebrate our decisions.”

EPILOGUE – 6 Months Later

The officers and members of The Old Past Master’s Lodge were accepted into the Lodge in Smithville without incident. The brotherly love and affection with their new Lodge was so great that they had not yet decided on whether to apply for a charter to form a new Lodge in their new jurisdiction or to just remain as members of Smithville Lodge.

Things were not quite so harmonious back in their old jurisdiction. When all the demits came in and the Grand Master learned of the mass flight to another jurisdiction and the sale of the Lodge he threw a fit. He promptly pulled the charter of the Lodge. Then he started a lawsuit against the Lodge for the misuse of Lodge funds and for selling a charted Lodge building to an entity not part of the jurisdiction. Finally he decreed that any Brothers who had set up shop in the neighboring state would never receive a reciprocal funeral service should their family apply.

More on the Old Past Master:

The Old Past Master Battles Mainstream Madness – Part 2

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Exactly two weeks to the day The Old Past Master pulled into the Lodge’s parking lot and parked right next to the Master’s car. He was extra early but still the Master had beaten him there.  Breezing into the office he found Worshipful Reynolds at his desk.

“Evening Worshipful,” offered The Old Past Master. “What’s new since we talked on the phone a couple of days ago. Did you get to have a tête-à-tête  with the Grand Master?”

“Yes I did,” replied Master Reynolds. “And the news is all bad?

“How so, Worshipful?”

“The Grand Master would not give an inch and even added the requirement, coming out soon in a follow-up edict, that every Lodge will have to submit a budget to the Grand Lodge.  It will have to include all expenses and proposed expenditures of the Lodge as well as all income and resources upon which the Lodge plans to draw.”

“Well that’s going a little overboard, isn’t it”

“It fits right in with their micro management of chartered Lodges and points to a continued grab for power. I am afraid we must proceed with Plan B.  How have you and your committee come along with a solution to our problem?”

“We have all the preliminaries in place. All we need now is for the go ahead to execute.”

For the next hour The Old Past Master and Master Reynolds huddled in deep conversation, planning that night’s meeting and how everything would be presented.

On the dot of 7:00 PM Master Reynolds opened the Special Communication of Lodge and addressed the Brethren. Due to the Summons outlining the topic for the evening and word of mouth, the Lodge room was packed.

“Brethren, I bring you bad news from our Grand Master with whom I have personally met this week. He refuses to compromise on the order that we received and discussed at the last stated meeting two weeks ago. Furthermore he has added the requirement, forthcoming in a written order, that we submit a budget, along with every other constituent Lodge, to the Grand Secretary revealing all our sources of income and forecasting all our expenditures. The question becomes Brethren do we submit or do we refuse?”

“The chair recognizes,” Brother Andrews, declared the Master.

“Why that’s outrageous, ” bellowed Brother Andrews. What are the consequences should we refuse to comply with the Grand Master.”

“The consequences could be my expulsion and the expulsion of any and all others as well as the Grand Master taking our Charter and closing the Lodge,” replied Master Reynolds.

“Then I say that we should not fight the Grand Master on this,” countered Brother Parantopoulos after being recognized by the Master..

“And I say that if we give in now we will face yet another showdown in the future on an equally contentious issue,” said Brother Allendes jumping up from his seat and getting the nod from the Master.

Senior Deacon Jackson slowly rose and after getting the eye of the Master wearily uttered, “When will it all end? When will we decide enough is enough? Is it now or later?”

“LATER,” rose a chorus from the sidelines.

“NOW,” rose another chorus from the sidelines.

“I move that that we take a vote for informative purposes to see where we stand, ” offered Senior Warden Leavitt.

“I second the motion,” chipped in Brother Garcia.

“Brethren we have a motion before you to take a vote to see where we stand on this issue,” declared the Master. Do I have any discussion on the motion.

“All those in favor say aye, those opposed nay.”

“The ayes have it, ruled Master Reynolds. “The Chair declares that this will be a secret ballot. The three top officers will count the ballots. Brother Deacons, prepare a secret ballot which will be in written form. Brethren you will write on a slip of paper ‘yes’ to signify that we should resist the Grand Master and ‘no’ to signify that we should submit to the Grand Master.”

After the vote had been counted  Master Reynolds addressed the Brethren. “Out of a total of 63 total votes cast, the results are 41 yes votes to resist and 22 no votes to submit to the Grand Master.”

Past Master Early asked for the floor. “Worshipful, what does this mean? How can we proceed if we are divided? Either decision will alienate some Brethren. Do we go  just by majority rule?”

At this point Master Reynolds looked over at The Old Past Master. With a nod The Old Past Master assumed the floor. You could hear a pin drop as he stated, “Brethren the Committee that was appointed to look into an escape route has a plan that will satisfy both those in favor and those opposed to refusing to submit to the Grand Master. Here is the plan…”

More on the Old Past Master:

The Old Past Master Battles Mainstream Madness

The Old Past Master loved to get to Lodge early. There was something about opening that Lodge room door and gazing on that altar when all was quiet. And then sitting down in a seat on the sidelines and just thinking and mediating about all that had gone on over the many years in that room. It sent shivers down his spine.

All the Masters gave him the keys to the Lodge. They welcomed someone dependable who could open everything up in case they were running late. This evening Master Reynolds was early coming in right on the heels of the Old Past Master. Worshipful went right to the office and plumped down in the chair at his desk. The look on his face could have frightened a scarecrow.

“What’s troubling you, Worshipful,” the Old Past Master softly ventured.

“It’s this darn letter from the Grand Lodge. They are instituting new financial reporting rules. Seems like every year that goes by Grand Lodge has more rules and regulations to impose on us,” replied Worshipful Reynolds.

“What are they looking for,” queried the Old Past Master.

“They want a complete evaluation of our property, the building and everything that’s in it, certified by a reputable estimator. Furthermore, and this is the real kicker, they want statements from our banks and brokerage houses as to exactly how much money we have, after which they want a complete written rundown on how we have spent every penny.”

“Do they explain why they feel that they need to have this information?”

“Grand Lodge says that if one of its constituent Lodges is sued that the litigators will always include Grand Lodge in the suit. Some of these suits are for embezzlement or suits when the Lodge gets in financial difficulties. The Grand Lodge feels that it needs to know our financial standing and that we are following acceptable accounting practices.”

“And what do you intend to do? It feels as if you are wrestling with a tough decision.”

“I intend to tell them to go fly a kite but I’m a little nervous about doing that”

“Who are you going to tell to go fly a kite,” asked Secretary Levin as he stepped into the office.

“Oh, nobody special,” piped up the Old Past Master, “Just Grand Lodge.”

After the two filled him in, he retorted, “I’m not surprised. Last year Grand Lodge issued rules on exactly how candidate instruction was going to be performed and what material was to be covered. The year before they required all Lodges to have both property and liability insurance and that it be purchased by the Grand Lodge provider.”

“Well it’s time to open Lodge,” Master Reynolds declared, “I think this issue should go before the entire Lodge. We will discuss it tonight and I would appreciate support and help from both of you. Oh, and Secretary Levin please post this issue in the next summons.”

“Right,” replied Secretary Levin.

“We have your back,” added the Old Past Master.

After opening the Lodge, Worshipful Reynolds dispensed quickly with the minutes, sick brethren concerns, charitable events, and other petty business. He then read the letter from Grand Lodge, explained his reluctance to comply and opened up the floor for discussion.

“The Chair recognizes Secretary Levin”

“Last year Grand Lodge issued rules on exactly how candidate instruction was going to be performed and what material was to be covered. The year before they required all Lodges to have both property and liability insurance and that it be purchased by the Grand Lodge provider,” exclaimed Levin. I say it is time for us to put our foot down and call their bluff.”

“Let’s not forget what has been going on in other jurisdictions,” added Brother Garcia as he rose and was recognized by a nod from the Master. We have the racial mess at Gate City Lodge #2 in Georgia where they sought to expel the Master, the expulsion of Past Grand Master Frank Haas in West Virginia, the almost expulsion of Derek Gordon in Arkansas, the expulsion of Mike McCabe in New Jersey, the recent expulsion of Past Grand Master Neal Bidnick of New York and the expulsion of the Deputy Grand Master of Arizona to name just a few. Could you be headed for expulsion, Worshipful, if you refuse to go along with Grand Lodge?”

“I can’t rule out the possibility,” replied Master Reynolds. “And if I choose that route I don’t want to bring any of you others with me.”

“Oh, I will gladly go down with you and the ship,” the Old Past Master replied.

“Here, here,” rang up a chorus from the Lodge room.

Rising the Senior Deacon, Brother Jackson pointed out, “What is really so very wrong and un-Masonic about many of these prominent Masonic expulsions is that they are done without a Masonic Trial, probably because there was no due cause for them in the first place. In the case of PGM Haas the Grand Master lured him into his Lodge on false pretenses and then before his Father expelled him without due recourse.”

Rising and being recognized Brother Brown chips in, “Are we going to all make a decision and all go along with that decision or are we going to let the Master, alone take the fall if we choose to fight Grand Lodge on this issue.”

“The chair recognizes Past Master Hathaway.”

“As you all know I just received my 50 year pin so I have been around awhile, explained Hathaway. It didn’t used to be this way. Grand Lodge was our ceremonial head much like the Queen of England is to the government of Great Britain. It required a uniformity of ritual and sent out District Deputies to insure compliance. We were all inspected but in the vast majority of cases if we were abiding by the Landmarks it was routine. We had our reports to file, but it wasn’t information that Grand Lodge used against us. Grand Lodge’s job was to represent us across the nation and worldwide, to charter new Lodges and approve of mergers and to offer instruction and help. It was not to micro manage the daily affairs of every constituent Lodge. Today Grand Lodge has become a control freak.”

“And it has to stop here and now,” yelled Brother Renault without being recognized.

The Master frowned at such an outburst but then looked over at the Old Past Master inviting him with his body language to take the floor and provide some leadership.

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“Well before we go off half cocked,” said the Old Past Master as he rose with a nod from the Master, let’s pursue avenues of accommodation. Let’s discover how pliable Grand Lodge will be. Perhaps we can meet Grand Lodge halfway, they give a little and we give a little. I think that we should try to settle this amicably with a meeting of the minds.”

“So be it,” declared Worshipful Reynolds. I will schedule a meeting with the Grand Master if he is willing and try to work out some sort of middle ground solution. In the meantime I would like a committee to explore other possibilities should the ax fall and come up with an escape route. Old Past Master would you chair such a committee?”

“Aye, Worshipful, I will do just that,” answered the Old Past Master.

“I will appoint Secretary Levin and Past Master Hathaway to that committee. Old Past Master please enlist up to two more Brothers of your own choosing,” said Worshipful Reynolds. The measure is tabled until our next Communication which will be a Special to be convened two weeks from today. Now let us adjourn.”

More on the Old Past Master:

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

Ancients Versus Moderns

Lynn stepped outside of the lodge building to have a cigarette. It was a cold winter night, the temperature had dipped below freezing and there was snow on the ground. The entire town seemed to be silent. There was no wind and the light from the full moon was reflecting off of the snow and softly illuminating the world around him. The cold air on his skin was refreshing and the beautiful scene made him feel at peace.

This peace was a welcomed feeling. Lynn had joined this lodge because they brought in Masonic historians and lecturers quite frequently. This evening’s speaker has chosen to expound upon the origins of Freemasonry. In particular, he had discussed the histories of the Ancients and the Moderns and had attempted to prove which Masonic movement was the “true” Masonry. The subject had produced a fairly heated discussion among the Brethren who believed that they were experts on the issue. Lynn hadn’t wanted any part of it and so he made a point to escape for a few moments before dinner was served and further discussion ensued.

What made the subject somewhat bothersome to him was that he wasn’t unfamiliar with the argument. Lynn had read several papers and even a couple of books on the history of Freemasonry. He had read works on the subject which had been written by a plethora of authors. Some of those authors were Freemasons and others were not. He had found it frustrating that the only conclusion that he could develop was that the number of theories about the origins of Freemasonry was directly proportional to the number of authors that created them. Only one thing was for certain: the jury was definitely still out on the subject.

Lynn puffed on his cigarette and stared at the red light which was being emitted from its end. Then he looked up to see the blue glow of the moon highlighting the white stones which composed the lodge building. The building was well built and all of the stones were nicely hewn and sat square in the edifice. The structural integrity of the lodge building seemed to be a monument to the solidarity of the order which it represented. A visual manifestation of the fraternity which it housed.

Lynn thought about the men that had built the lodge. He wondered how they had raised the money to construct it. He thought about the time that it took to quarry and hew the stones and assemble the structure out of those perfect ashlars. He wondered what men had been employed in this noble and glorious undertaking. How did they learn to perform their craft so proficiently?

Suddenly, he had an epiphany.

It didn’t matter how those men learned their craft. Some had probably learned how to construct such a building without any formal training. They had went to work for a mason or a carpenter early in their lives and had learned through experience. Perhaps some were professionally educated and trained and had earned prestigious degrees in their particular vocation. Regardless, they were able, they were competent, and they were experts. Their education did not matter, but the product that they were able to provide did.

“Maybe it doesn’t matter how the Brothers before us learned to be Masons or who was responsible for teaching them,” he thought, “maybe all that matters is what the institution has become and what it represents now.

Lynn put out his cigarette and reentered the lodge building. He noticed that he was a bit peckish and wondered what they were serving for dinner.

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

The Chronicles of Philosophus: Violating the Sabbath

On the day of the Sabbath, the builders were exiting the temple after they had worshiped to return to their homes. It was the law among the Jewish builders that they could not work on the Sabbath, but they noticed one of their fellow craftsmen, a man named Amon who was born in Gebal, mixing mortar in order to proceed with work on the judge’s house which was being constructed at that time. They became incensed that he was ignoring the law of their religion and approached him in numbers in order to rebuke his desire to work on a holy day.

“Why do you insult God your Father by rejecting his day of rest?” yelled one of the members of the mob. “Perhaps he should be employed to build the temples of the pagans!” shouted another.

Amon spoke saying, “I have no quarrel with you or your Lord, I only subscribe to the religion of my land which has created no ordinance against working on this day. For is there any law by which I am to abide which requires that I rest on the Jewish Sabbath?”

The craftsmen talked amongst themselves before one spoke. “Have you not heard the commandments which Moses has received upon Mount Sinai? Do you deny the very commandment of your Lord?”

The craftsmen became even more excited as some began to suggest that Amon should be brought before the priest. Others said that he should be stoned. Finally, they decided to fetch one of the master builders from their assembly. Zachariah was sent to the temple of the builders, where the master builders were and approached Philosophus, who immediately followed him to the angry mob of craftsmen.

Hearing their cries for Amon’s prosecution, Philosophus shouted “Silence my Brothers! What charge do you desire to bring against your fellow craftsman?”

The most vocal of the group replied, “He denies the commandments of our Lord and is performing work on the Sabbath which has been forbidden.”

Philosophus asked of Amon, “Do you worship as your father did?”


“Was he a Jew?”

“No, he was raised in Gebal and worshiped the God of that land as his father had done before him.”

“When you were obligated as a builder, did you take your obligation in the name of Jehovah, the God of the Jews?”


“Were you ever informed that under the law of the order that you must conform to the laws of their religion?”


Then Philosophus asked of the group of craftsmen, “Were you obligated in the name of Jehovah, the God of the Jews? Were you ever informed that under the law of the order that you must conform to the laws of the Jewish religion?”

The group was silent. Philosophus said, “You were only instructed that it is required that you to follow the tenets of your personal religion, for the name of the God you worship does not determine whether you are an able craftsman. The order does not regard a man for his personal religion, but for his desire to be industrious, to improve his craft, and to assist his fellow Brethren.”

One of the craftsmen then inquired, “But who will inspect his work? For the master builders all follow the Judaic law.”

Philosophus walked over to the work station of Amon, picked up a trowel and spread a layer of mortar over one of the perfect ashlars to examine its consistency. The Brethren questioned this action in whispers among themselves, for they believed that Philosophus was now in violation of his religion. One shouted, “Master, you violate the commandment of your God!”

Philosophus once again spoke. “Did I come from your home land? Have I ever been circumcised or accepted in your temple?” The Brethren were silent for none of them had ever seen Philosophus worship at their synagogue. “Neither this Brother nor myself are children of Abraham; I will inspect his work. Now return to your homes and attend to the duties of your religion.”

The craftsmen agreed and apologized to Amon for their accusations. Before returning to their abodes, they saluted him as a Brother. From that time it became a custom among the builders to tolerate the laws and customs of their Brother’s individual religion.

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The Old Past Master Part 3

As the Old Past Master pulled into the Lodge parking lot he knew he was early enough to get the Master’s ear for a bit.  He and the Master had cooked up one bang of an evening for tonight’s Communication. He needed to do more than cross his fingers though.  He needed to pray to the Grand Architect of the Universe to help guide the Lodge and see us all through this night.

Upon entering the Masonic building he went straight to the office.

“Evening Worshipful, are we all ready for tonight?”

“Ready as we’re ever going to be. Do you really think the members are going to go for this idea?”

“Well what other choices are there?”

“As usual your logic wins the day.”

“Let’s hope I am really as persuasive as you think I am.”

The two parted, the Master to greet the Lodge arrivals and The Old Past Master to look over his notes.

Lodge started right on time and as has been the case lately the Master breezed through the usual business, tabling some measures until the next meeting.

When he rose to speak you could hear a pin drop.

“Brethren, as charged at the last meeting, I led a delegation of three, the other two being Past Masters Schmidt and Crowley, into a conference with the Grand Master.  We had received an offer from a charitable non-profit agency for us to donate our building to them whereupon they would make the necessary repairs and then give us a 99-year free lease.  This seemed like a win/win proposal but we lacked the ability to dispose of our building, it being the property of Grand Lodge. So the meeting with the Grand Master was a plea to wave that Grand Lodge regulation and allow us to go through with the agreement with the Non Profit. “

“The Grand Master said he could not do that.  It would set a precedent for the entire jurisdiction, for how could he do it for us and not for everybody.  While once again he sympathized with our plight he explained that Grand Lodges had to maintain possession of all Lodge buildings for liability reasons, for in the event a Lodge went bankrupt and left significant creditors, the courts had previously ruled that Grand Lodge was liable for those debts.  The only way for Grand Lodge to be able to protect itself was to have full rights of ownership of its chartered Lodges building and property. Once again he suggested a merger or a rental someplace else.”

“I told the Grand Master that his refusal pretty much stymied us. We had investigated a merger, I told him, and it was not possible in the only other Lodge in our area. To travel a greater distance to another Lodge would result in poor attendance and be a death knoll.  I reminded him that we still had a $40,000 mortgage on the building and faced with continuing to pay that off and a rental someplace else at the same time was beyond the means of the Lodge to accomplish. I told him that we had a grand old building that now was in serious disrepair and that unfortunately the Lodge had all its money tied up in the building.  What we had now was a grand old albatross around our necks.”

“And lastly, before parting, I informed the Grand Master that it was entirely possible, based on a vote of the Lodge at its upcoming meeting, that the Lodge would turn in its charter and disband.”

“And that’s it, Brethren.  Now I would like to hear your thoughts on the subject.”

The Master was playing it really cool.  He had The Old Past Master waiting with his surprise but on his advice he was going to let the hand play out until their was no solution left but what The Old Past Master would lay on them.

Brother Hughes asked to be recognized.  “I think we out to ask all our members for an emergency donation,’ he said.

“That might mean a thousand dollars per member, Brother Hughes”, replied the Master. “Do you realistically think that in these terrible economic times that we can expect that kind of immediate, and I do mean immediate, donation from each and every member? Many of our members are retired and on fixed incomes.”

“Have we,” asked Brother Hathaway, rising and get the nod of recognition, “investigated the bank forgiving the mortgage and /or spreading the payments out over a longer period thus reducing the monthly amount and the town of giving us four or five years to update the electrical wiring?”

“That’s the first thing we did before we called these emergency meetings,” retorted the Master.

Past Master Schmidt you wish to speak. “Well Worshipful,” Schmidt despairingly spoke, ” I don’t see any other choice than for us to surrender our charter and disband.”

Not a sound could be heard in the Lodge room as Past Master Schmidt was one of the Lodge’s oldest and most respected members, next to The Old Past Master, that is. Nobody had another good idea. Most of the Brethren just stared at the floor in sadness.  If you looked really hard you might have even seen a tear or two.

That was the moment The Old Past Master was waiting for as he rose and spoke in a clear, loud voice of authority, “Worshipful Master.”

“Old Past Master”, responded the Master.

“As of this morning I now hold the note for the mortgage on this building, having paid off the bank with $40,000 plus fees. What I propose that we do is just what you have come to the conclusion that we must do.  But I have a plan for the Lodge to rise again out of the ashes.”

“First we surrender our charter.  Next I will foreclose on the building.  Then I will convince the Building Inspector who is a friend of mine to immediately condemn the building and put large signs to that effect on the outside. Now the repairs total about $40, 000 and the balance on the foreclosure will be $40, 000 with an additional $10,000 in interest, fees and other charges.  That’s $90,000 Grand Lodge is going to have to invest to get the building in a position to be resold.  Furthermore I will call in the entire amount of the note immediately which I can do on a condemned building. Now I will hold the note through a series of holding companies so that my name is hidden in all this.”

“After that I will make an offer to the Grand Master to purchase our building for $40,000.  He gets the mortgage paid off free and clear and I get the building.  I doubt he is going to want to invest all that money to get the building resalable because there are no buyers out there for the building.  We are headed for a depression in the economy and nobody in their right minds is investing in real estate of any kind.”

“Once I have the building back I will deed it to the Lodge with the stipulation that they take up the Non Profit on their offer. Now we will have a 99 lease free of charge on the building we are in now but we will no longer be a Lodge because we have no charter.  I have been bending the Senior Warden’s ear a lot lately.  He and I go back many, many years.  He has assured me that if we apply for another charter in good financial shape after he assumes the East in three months he will grant us a brand new charter and we are back in business.  I will simply tell him that a wealthy donor who wishes to remain anonymous came forward to bail us out and that we are now financially stable thanks to him.”

The only thing I ask is that the Lodge, now with no rent, heat, light or repairs to pay reimburse me at the rate of $200 per month for the rest of my life.  When I die any balance due is forgiven.”

After the period of shock and awe had subsidized, Past Master Schmidt rose and said, “I think I can speak for most all of us.  That, Old Past Master, was a right generous thing you did for the Lodge.  And your plan is well thought out and just deserts for a Grand Master who seemed very reluctant to bend any rules to help us.  Now if your plan works the Grand Master will give up his right to the building with no gain, he getting rid of this albatross around his neck in order not to get stuck with many years of taxes and ultimately a loss. It’s a shame that the end result for us via a circuitous route is the same as if the Grand Master had found a way to be our benefactor. My only concern is that if we go through with your idea, Old Past Master, the Grand Master might not take the bait.”

“In that case,” replied The Old Grand Master, “we are no worse off because without launching this plan the only real option we have is to desert the building, and either meet at somebody’s house or disband.”

With that the Master declared, “The East will now entertain any motions.”

A motion was made, seconded and passed to accept The Old Grand Masters plan and for everybody to keep their finger crossed.  Lodge closed at 10:21 PM in short form, after which most everybody retired to O’Reilly’s where many stories of past good times at the Lodge in this building were recounted.


The plan proceeded as scheduled.  The Building Inspector came down and put big condemned signs on the Lodge building, the Old Past Master foreclosed on the property against the Grand Lodge and the Master made a trip back to Grand Lodge with an official letter of the Lodge containing the vote of the Brethren and turned in the Lodge Charter.

After about a month the lawyer for The Old Past Master met with the Grand Master and offered to take the building off his hands for the cost of the $40,000 mortgage and all improvements needed to get the building up to code and repaired.  In lieu of that the lawyer said on behalf of his client the building owner he would expect full payment of the balance of the mortgage plus attorney fees, bank fees, court filing fees and town fees in 30 days. After 30 days the lawyer stated that all fees would double and the building owner would charge a late fee of  $1000 per month.

That seemed to have done the trick for in 29 days the Grand Master replied to the lawyer that he would accept the offer of the building owner.  Papers were signed with less than 30 days remaining on the Grand Masters term in office. Immediately afterward the Master notified the Non Profit that deal to donate the building to them in exchange for a free 99 year lease was on, contingent on obtaining a Charter and that he would keep them informed.

The next step was the new charter for the Lodge.  About a month after the former Senior Grand Warden had been installed as Grand Master, the Master and The Old Past Master met with him at Grand Lodge. The Master explained that they had received aid from a benefactor and were now ready to rent space free and clear form all financial obligations.

The Grand Master was a bit suspicious.  “It seems very convenient that all of a sudden you have some one donating emergency relief to you. Where was he just a few months ago when you could have used his help to avoid all this and who is he?”

“The donor is some one who wishes to remain anonymous,” replied the Master.  He didn’t hear or know about our predicament until the condemned signs went up on the building.  After this entire situation was not exactly front page news.  It was kept pretty quiet.”

“And where will you be renting space,” queered the Grand Master

“We will initially be meting in the back conference room of LaRusso’s Restaurant.  But we are negotiating right now to rent space back at the old Lodge building from the new building owner,” answered the Master.

“Now that’s a little too good to be true,” said the Grand Master. “I want your assurance that there was no skullduggery done here.”

This time the Old Past Master answered.  “Grand Master we have known each other for years and my conversations with you when you were Senior Warden were to keep you apprised of our situation and to provide you with all the facts as to what we were doing and what we hoped might happen in the future.  Let me say we have been most fortunate but that we have done nothing unmasonic or illegal. Everything has been above board.  This all could also have been avoided if the former Grand Master had found a way to help us.”

“Under the circumstances I am inclined to grant you your new charter.  However, since there might be some questions as to how convenient this all fell together, I am going to wait 5 months until Grand Session convenes and put it to a vote of Grand Lodge with my recommendation,” intoned the Grand Master.  “What would you like to name your New Lodge?”

“Mirabeau Lodge,” replied the Master.  “As you know George Mirabeau is the real name of The Old Past Master.”

Five months later at Grand Session Mirabeau Lodge #848 was granted a charter.

A few weeks later at their first meeting  in the Old Lodge building since disbanding the Old Past Master came to Lodge early and conferred with the Master in the office.

“I am feeling guilty over that little white lie I told about the anonymous benefactor,” said the Master. “I will do penance for that, but if I had to do it all over again, I would do the exact same thing.”

“Don’t beat yourself up over something so trivial, when a Grand Master who could have granted special dispensation and bailed us out wouldn’t go out of his way for us.  I too regret we had to fib a little to get this through but the disposition of the property was honest and legal” replied The Old Grand Master. This is a new beginning.  Let us begin.”


More on the Old Past Master:

The Old Past Master Part Two

The Old Past Master pulled into the Lodge parking lot later than usual.  Others had already arrived.  He sat in the car for a bit, contemplating all that had taken place over the last three months. He had been in charge of the committee to look into selling the building and renting elsewhere. It’s sad, he thought, how may complain and how few volunteer to serve.  He had one new Brother who wanted to serve and he called a number of others until finally Past Master Crowley signed on.

His committee met at O’Reilly’s Pub and over an adult beverage of choice, hashed out a plan of action. Past Master Crowley took the commercial Real Estate offices to see how hard it would be to sell the building.  Brother Jenkins, one of the Lodge’s newer Masons, took the task of finding rental space. He went to talk to the Master, Wardens and Building Trustees of Fidelity Lodge to see about a merger or a straight rental. They agreed to meet back in one month at the same place.

One month later the news was not good.  PM Crowley reported that there virtually was no market for the Lodge.  Property foreclosures were heavy; the market was flooded with property that would not sell. The economy continued to tank and even bargain hunters were hard to find.  Brother Jenkins found three private locations that would serve the Lodge’s purpose for between $800 and $1400 per month.  Unfortunately all would need extensive renovation or restructuring to make them into a Lodge room and offices and any such remodeling would be at the tenant’s expense.  He had met with all concerned at Fidelity Lodge and later in the month they brought the subject up at their Communication for vote.  Fidelity Lodge would have no part of a merger.  They would, however, rent their Lodge building for $1000 per month. But there was something about their condescending attitude that left a lot to be desired.

All this passed through his mind in a matter of minutes.  He wondered how Findler and his committee had made out and if the Master had any luck with the Grand Master.  Well the only way to find out was to get into Lodge.

He entered the building and found the Master at the door as usual greeting Brethren.  The Master pulled him aside and said, “We need to have a private tête-à-tête after we close.  How about getting together at O’Reilly’s?”

“Sure thing Worshipful,” replied the Old Past Master.  “You buying?”

And with a nod of his head the Master was gone to attend to other business.

Lodge opened at exactly 7:00 PM, right on time, and the Master quickly dispensed with the usual business. He then arose to address the Lodge.

“As you know Brethren we have set aside most of this meeting for the purpose of continuing our dialogue of what to do financially as the costs of our building and the deepening economic crisis have put us in danger of bankruptcy.  As we left off our last get together on this subject three months ago you will remember that I appointed three committees counting myself and so let us start off with these committee reports.  Old Past Master can we have your report?”

The Old Past Master rose and delivered all he had gone over in his mind in the parking lot.  There was no market for selling the Lodge building, private rentals were available at an average of $1000 a month but the Lodge would have to pick up the cost of major interior remodeling.  Finally he reported that Fidelity Lodge did not want a merger but would rent their building to us for $1000 per month.

As he sat down Brother Johnson rose and was recognized.  “Seems to me there is no fraternal discount from Fidelity Lodge,” he stated.  “It almost sounds like they don’t really want us.”

“I agree,” replied the Master. “I have had some follow up conversation with the Master over there and he seems to feel that old bad blood between the two Lodges might spill over into today if the association was so close.”

“Well, I will give you my report next,” continued the Master.  “I met with the Grand Master at Grand Lodge and explained to him how desperate our situation was. We needed to upgrade our building right now and make the necessary repairs in order to continue to meet there.  He told me that, while he sympathized with our plight, that Grand Lodge was also feeling the pinch of the depressed economy and would have to be giving up some of its programs and lay off some full time paid staff at Grand Lodge. Under those circumstances he didn’t think it would look too good to lay off staff while subsidizing Lodges.”

“I asked him about a possible loan and he countered with, ‘Well Master do you think you have the where with all to pay it back?’ I allowed as how that might be a problem. But then I got his Irish up by mentioning that the Grand Lodge had some trust funds it could tap into.  He curtly informed me that it wasn’t all that easy and that these funds were set up to be untouchable except for their stated purpose under extreme circumstances. I countered with the fact that considering the state of our economy these were extreme circumstances.  And that abruptly ended our meeting. So, Brethren, it looks as if Grand Lodge cannot be our savior.”

“Let us hear now from Brother Findler.”

Brother Findler rose and reported, “Brethren, my committee searched for ways to increase our revenue.  The most likely prospect would be to get some good paying tenants for our building.  As you all know we have a pretty large building which has many more rooms in it than just a Lodge room.  With some minor alterations we have space available for certain businesses and organizations like a church or community service groups.  The committee scoured the area for prospective tenants but found nobody that wanted to make a move in such tough economic times unless we were offering free rent.  All hope seemed lost until I ran into this large Non Profit Group, which had been endowed by a wealthy deceased patron with a good sized trust fund.  They are in cramped quarters now and were looking for a larger space. We had some long conversation over the past two months and to make a long story short, they have made this offer to us.  If we will donate them the building they will make all the necessary repairs and upgrades at their expense and offer us a 99 year lease free of charge.  They are a 501©3 corporation involved in community charitable endeavors and thus will pay no corporation or property taxes. One of their community programs is refurbishing and remodeling old run down, condemned and vacant property and then turn it over to a needy family for a place to live. That provides them with the necessary tradesmen to perform the repairs and remodeling to our building at a reasonable cost.  This committee recommends that the Lodge look into the possibility of taking up this organization on its offer.”

At which point Secretary Dobson rose like he was shot out of a cannon. “Now I am sure Brother Findler knows that the Lodge building is the property of Grand Lodge and cannot be disposed of us as we please.”

“I am aware of that fact Brother Secretary,” replied Brother Findler,”but I thought perhaps the Grand Master might make an exception considering the seriousness of the circumstances and the dire straits our economy is in.”

Brother Gonsalves rose and after the Master nodded his head said, “I think the idea has a lot of merit and we should see what we can do.”

“I second the motion,” chimed in another Brother.

“The East will then entertain a formal motion,” declared the Master.

A motion was made that the Master appoint such Brothers as he deemed necessary to accompany him to Grand Lodge and meet with the Grand Master again to see if he could and would release the Lodge building to the disposal of the Lodge.  The motion was seconded and carried by a hand vote.  From the count there were no objections but a few Brethren refused to vote.

The Master than stated, “I think that will be all for tonight, Brethren.  We should address this subject again at our very next meeting in one month. If no one has anything else to bring before the Lodge I will proceed to close.”

Lodge closed at 10:10 PM in short form.

Afterwards at O’Reilly’s The Old Past Master and the Master huddled in quite conversation over a libation.

“You know, the Grand Master is not going to go for this idea either,” lamented the Master.”

“Unfortunately you are right,” replied The Old Past Master. “Yet our ammunition is far from being spent.  I have an idea up my sleeve that I have been saving.  I think that if we …………………………………………….”

More on the Old Past Master:

The Old Past Master and Lodge Foreclosure

The Old Past Master left the house for Lodge extra early this night.  The meeting tonight would be a lively discussion that he hoped would not become a three-ring circus. He would like to arrive early before anybody else to see if he could be of assistance to the new Worshipful Master.  He was a good fellow but so young and inexperienced.  But he was working hard and always seemed to arrive very early to a meeting of the Lodge to prepare his program and greet every Brother at the door.

The Master had sent out notice in the Summons that tonight he would be discussing the future of the Lodge and its financial situation.  The topic all seemed to stem from a series of articles the Master called “blogs” which had appeared on the Internet titled “Preventing Lodge Foreclosures.” It seems two Brothers were debating back and forth on the proper action that a Lodge could take in the wake of tough economic times.  Last month the Master had shown him these articles and after reading them they had only time for a very short discussion on what the ramifications might be for our Lodge.

I guess I am just going to have to break down and buy a computer, The Old Past Master thought to himself.  Lord knows how I am going to learn how to use it.  They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  Well we have a number of young dogs in the Lodge now.  Surely they will come to my aid.

As he rounded the corner and pulled into the Lodge parking lot he spied the Master’s car in its usual spot. Upon entering the building he proceeded to the office where he found the Master at the computer with papers flying out of the printer in rapid succession.

“Good evening, Worshipful,” he called out.  “Getting ready for tonight’s donnybrook are we?”

“I’m afraid so,” replied the Master.  “It looks to me that this will be a tough meeting.”

How can I be of assistance,” offered The Old Past Master.

“Well I’m not sure how to broach the subject nor how deep into it we should get tonight,” queried the Master.

“Try placing the problems as you see them on the table and then let the Brethren draw their own conclusions and come up with their own solutions.”

“Ah, I see.  Don’t try to ram the whole deal down everybody’s throat.  State the case and sit back and listen.  I think I’m getting the hang of this leadership thing thanks to you.”

“Every Mason should lead his Lodge once in his lifetime.  It teaches him how to command by building a consensus.”

“Well I doubt if we will get a consensus tonight.  I am worried about the whole situation getting out of hand.  Maybe I should just downplay this whole thing.”

“Now is not the time to second guess yourself.  Part of good leadership is not shying away from the tough problems and decisions of the Lodge.”

“I know you are right but I would feel a bit more comfortable if you would be in my corner tonight and soften any harsh words.  It always helps to have backup.”

Don’t worry, Worshipful, I’ll help keep us on an even keel.”

Just then a few Brothers could be heard entering the building.  The Worshipful Master went out to greet them. Soon more and more were pouring in. The Old Past smiled to himself.  Here they come he, thought, all the old fogies who never come to Lodge until the talk of money becomes serious.

Lodge opened and the Master, after breezing through the Minutes, Bills and Correspondence, got right down to brass tacks.

“Brethren it is time to discuss our future and I have allotted most of this meeting having previously informed all the Brethren via The Summons.  Our nation is in deep economic distress and we are barely hanging on here.  Our building has no other tenets and its maintenance, upkeep and repair are an ever-increasing burden that presently consumes 90% of our budget. With Cap & Trade taxes and significant inflation coming our electricity and heating costs could double. We have already received notice that our property taxes are going to be increased by 10% next year. The paint is starting to peel on the outside of the building.  We have gotten estimates on having it repainted and the lowest bid is $8,0000. But the worst news of all is that the Building Inspector recently made an inspection of the Lodge and he has told us that the electrical wiring in the building no longer meets code and it will have to be replaced. And I am not even counting the increased taxes you all will individually soon be paying.  Now Brethren I am open for suggestions.”

“Well I hope you didn’t call us all together to raise our dues,” a voice bellowed from the sidelines.

“Yeah, because we’re going to vote that down, right quick,” came another anonymous voice from the crowd.


“Brethren I am going to ask you to rise and wait until I recognize you before speaking,” commanded the Master.

“The day I have to ask permission to speak in this Lodge is the day I find another Lodge”, roared Brother Clarke

“Well that’s your choice,” replied the Master.  “But for tonight you will rise and wait until I call on you.”

Worshipful Master I just done told you I ain’t going to do no such thing, “repeated Brother Clarke.  “Did you or did you not call us here in order to raise dues?”

“Brother Senior Deacon”

“Worshipful Master”

“You will pick up the Junior Deacon and the Stewards and proceed to escort Brother Clarke out of the Lodge room.”

Are you really going to throw me out of my Lodge, “ screamed Brother Clarke?

“It’s our Lodge,” replied the Master, “and nobody is above the law or in this case the rules.  We will see you another night, Brother Clarke.”

“You will never see me again.  Who wants to belong to a bankrupt Lodge anyway,” screamed the now red faced Brother Clarke

‘If he goes I go,” said a voice.  “That goes for me too.”  “And me” “And Me”….”Me,” “Me,” “Me,”

The Old Past Master rose and the Worshipful Master immediately recognized him.

“Looks like we can get that dues increase passed now, Worshipful” he said with a smile.

“I guessed I changed my mind,” “Yeah, I might as well stick around,” “Same for me,” “And me,” “And me,” …….”Me,” “Me,” “Me”

After Brother Clarke was removed and order restored, the Brothers stood and were called on one by one by the Master.  Suggestions and ideas abounded. One Brother suggested that the Lodge merge with Fidelity Lodge on the other side of town. But an argument ensued whether Fidelity should join us at our building or we should sell ours and join them at their building.  Many Brethren wondered if Fidelity would be amenable to any of this and so offered that we should sell the building and just rent our own space somewhere else. Still others asserted that nothing drastic really needed to be done.  Things would find a way of working themselves out like they always did.  A number of Brethren suggested that we find paying tenants for our building. Still others suggested a series of fundraisers. Yet another wanted to ask Grand Lodge for a loan. And the last thought for the day came from a Brother who thought maybe we could get some corporate sponsorship in the form of charitable write off relief.

After two hours of what seemed like exhaustive exchange, Past Master Crowley rose and was recognized.  “And what do you think we should do, Worshipful,” he asked?

The Master rose and slowly and deliberately replied, “I don’t think I have enough information yet nor does really anybody.  The way I see it we can elect one of four choices:

1) Do Nothing

2) Give up our Charter and return the Lodge to Grand Lodge

3) Sell the building and property and rent elsewhere

4) Increase our revenue substantially – make it work.

The problem has developed into such a magnitude so quickly that I will automatically rule out dues increases, fund risers and loans as acceptable solutions.  But what I will do is petition Grand Lodge for an outright gift.  The next Grand Session is a little over a month away. For now I will also rule out choices #1 and #2.  That leaves us with two choices and for those I will appoint two committee heads who will choose the rest of their committee and research and investigate their appointment and report back to the Lodge for further discussion. I will ask the Old Past Master to chair the choice #3 committee and Brother Findler, our Treasurer and a CPA, to head the choice #4 committee. Do both of you Brothers accept your appointment?  Seeing two heads nodding I so declare it done.”


“I will charge both committees to be ready to report in detail three months from now at our monthly business meeting and I will so note it in the Summons. I will also be ready to report to you what Grand Lodge will do for us. Now if there is no further business to come before this Lodge I will proceed to close.”.

More on the Old Past Master:

The Chronicles of Philosophus


Gebel-pyramidsAt that time in the land of Gebal, the builders would gather at high twelve on the day before the Sabbath. They would meet in the temple to discuss the work of the craftsmen and to study the ancient arts. The master builders filled the higher offices, with the craftsmen joining them on the floor. The quarrymen were to witness the deliberations from the audience gallery.

In the year of the reign of the Venerable Master Enoch, a man was accepted among their number by the name of Philosophus. He was a man from the eastern lands who claimed to be among the ranks of the builders. His work was inspected and he was found to be proficient in his craft and was accepted amongst the Brethren of Gebal. He had distinguished himself as a man of the utmost skill in the operative profession of construction as well as particularly knowledgeable in the ancient speculative arts.

At the rap of the gavel, the Brethren would come to order and at that time it was the custom to take up the pass from the several divisions of builders in order to ascertain their rank. The masters would elect from their number nine to take up the pass. Five were to collect the pass from the quarrymen, three to collect it from the craftsmen, and one to collect it from the masters. The elected officials would pass through the ranks of men and request of them the pass, which was whispered into the official’s ear.

While one of the officials was collecting the pass from the masters, he came upon a particularly well known Brother. He was an elderly man who had long served to build the magnificent edifices of the kingdom. However, on that day he was unable to properly communicate the password and the official announced to the assembly that there was a Brother without the pass. The Brethren were shocked and began to cast insults at the elderly master. The masters of the higher offices gathered to determine the fate of the Brother. To have a well known master without the pass was unprecedented and the outrage of the assembly pressured them to pass judgment on the man. The Master agreed that he must be removed from the Chapter. The Venerable Master Enoch spoke saying “Due to the lack of proper knowledge by this Brother, we must remove him from our Chapter in order to maintain our established regulations.” At that time, there were no regulations to deal with such an event. In order to make the judgment more fair, Enoch asked of the assembly “Does any Brother present at this assembly have anything to say in defense of this fellow?”

The Brethren were silent and refused to talk, even amongst themselves. The foreigner, Philosophus, stood to address the craft.

“Do not disparage this man for succumbing to the difficulties of old age. He has served his Lord, his masters, and his kingdom well for many years. There has never been a time when a fellow builder in need did not receive a contribution from his boundless charity. Yet, while he has been known unto you and you have benefited from his brotherly love, you are willing to remove him from this Chapter because of the unwillingness of his tongue. I say unto you, the pass of a master is found not upon the tongue, but upon the heart.”

The Brethren waited for the response of the Venerable Master. He spoke after a period of silence, “Our Brother from the east is correct, for the arts of a builder are revealed by his hands. We have no reason to expel a Brother who has used his hands in a manner so befitting of his title.”

And the Brethren were amazed at this chain of events and said amongst themselves, “Who is this man that calls himself Philosophus?”

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