A book that turned a man into a Mason

OK, maybe the title is presumptive, but I couldn’t resist the hook especially given its coming from the Scottish Rite.

Where it comes from is a review that mentions the iconic Bruce Dickinson, of Iron Maiden fame, and the intelligent and modern Alchemist – Timothy Hogan, both very good company to be in.

You can find the review in the Scottish Rites Holiday Book Review list written by Jim Tresner published in the upcoming November-December 2010 edition of the Scottish Rite Journal.

From the review:

This is a great little book. A non-Mason friend saw it on my table and asked to borrow it. He brought it back two days later, asked some questions, and told me he was going to petition the lodge in his home town. I enjoyed all the essays in the book, but especially XVII, on the E.A. Tracingboard. I am a bit more optimistic (or perhaps a bit more in denial) than Bro. Stewart when it comes to the future of the fraternity, but no one can deny his essays are thought-provoking and powerful.

My thanks to the AASR and to Br. Tresner for the kind review and, from the sounds of it, the soon to be brother it will make.

Imagine what it could do on your coffee table.  The Masonic Traveler is available on Amazon.

The Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago breaks new ground

From REJournals.com – Leopardo begins work on Scottish Rite headquarters.

Leopardo Construction recently began work on a 61,000-square-foot HQ of the Valley of Chicago Scottish Rite Cathedral Association.

The new two-story building, located at the corner of Lake Street and Medinah Road in Bloomingdale, will feature a museum and library, traditional lodge hall, kitchen facilities, dining room for 290 people, bar and game room, grand hall, administrative offices, theater with seating for 270, and parkign for 190 cars.

“The history of the Scottish Rite will be evident in the interior by integrating symbology, patterns, artwork, and historic items from the former Scottish Rite Cathedral on North Dearborn Street in Chicago,” said Gregory Klemm, Valley of Chicago executive secretary and chief operating officer.

“Given the Scottish Rite’s great history in artisanry, architecture and construction, we are honored to be building such a prestigious and significant facility for the fraternal organization,” said Michael Behm, senior vice president at Leopardo.

Check out the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago website which has a lot of great information on The Rite in the Windy City.

From the images, it looks like a beautiful new facility.

double headed eagle

American Scottish Rite – Unexpressed Potential?

double headed eagleBy Bro. C.G.
32nd Scottish Rite Mason,
Valley of Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

I have often wondered the reasons why the Scottish Rite, one of the most complex, complete and fascinating initiatic systems of the Western tradition, is often compressed in a single two- or three day-Reunion in all, or most, to the best of my knowledge, Valleys in the United States. At a time when it was required to be a York or Scottish Rite Mason to be admitted into the Shrine, this probably made sense, although it deprived the Scottish Rite of part of the effectiveness of its ritual. This is not so anymore. Free from the constraints of allowing Masons to rush through its degrees, I believe it would greatly benefit the Scottish Rite and probably the whole of Freemasonry, if candidates were allowed to go through the degrees more gradually.

Freemasons in American Valleys have the rare chance of watching the degree work staged in beautiful halls and auditoriums and rendered with exquisite magnificence, costumes and scenography. I believe American Masons deserve more time to savor the Scottish Rite degrees and to better understand the lessons they heard during the Reunions. I know I would have wanted to be granted more time, when I was initiated to the SR in the US. I needed more time before passing on to the following degree. The amount of teachings that candidates are confronted with is so big that it is doubtful that they can retain everything they are presented. Would it not be better, for instance, to be conferred the degree of Secret Master during the first Reunion, to let the masonic path of the Scottish Rite commence with the gravity it deserves, without rushing?Then, at the following Reunions, maybe at intervals of at least one year, the degrees of Perfect Elu, Knight of Roise Croix, Knight of Kadosh and Master of the Royal Secret could be conferred, so to respectively complete the Lodge of Perfection, the Chapter, the Council and the Consistory. Actually, this is similar to what our brethren in my home country, Italy, do. I think it makes sense. I do not think many Masons would object to this new modus-operandi, because it would allow them to discover a wealth of new degrees that are usually just rushed through. It would allow them to attend meetings in the Lodge of Perfection, in the Chapter, the Council, the Consistory, and display their regalia. It would increase attendance to the SR Reunions, because whole classes would come back to receive the following degrees. It would make the study of the SR ritual and teachings easier, because it would be gradual, slower.

Besides, Masons are Traveling Men, and the goal of Freemasonry is to improve men, to make good men better by letting them progress, step by step, degree after degree, along a masonic path of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. Isn’t Freemasonry a journey? Why shorten it, then? By making it quicker we are not helping Freemasonry to achieve its goal, we are actually risking to hinder it and not fully appreciate its power. I think the Scottish Rite has the potential to help generate membership to Freemasonry, but this potential must be unleashed. The Scottish Rite can be on of the brightest gems of Freemasonry, and the power of its ritual could lead the way to attract new members to our Institution. However, as long as it is reined in by the constraints of short Reunions, I am afraid it will just be a shimmer in darker skies.

Dan Brown’s Influence On World Peace

lostsymbolAlong with my Short Talk Bulletin I recently rescued from my mailbox came with it MIC’s (Masonic Information Center – a part of MSANA)  FOCUS, a short communication on whatever is HOT right now in Freemasonry.  And what is hot right now, as we all know, is Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.

MIC published a letter Dan Brown sent to the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, on his apology for not been able to speak before them.  In that letter was a really important gem.

“In the past few weeks, as you might imagine, I have been repeatedly asked what attracted me to the Masons so strongly as to make it a central point of my new book.  My reply is always the same.  ‘In a world where men do battle over whose definition of God is most accurate, I cannot adequately express the deep respect and admiration I feel toward an organization in which men of differing faiths are able to break bread together in a bond of brotherhood, friendship and camaraderie.”

While this is something all members of the Craft realize, yet its implication for application on a much wider scale is overlooked.  Come imagine with me, play fairy tale – what if all or at least an overwhelming number of people in the world were Freemasons?  What effect do you think that would have on world peace?

Dictatorships and totalitarian regimes who do not respect the worth of the individual do not like Freemasonry. Radical Muslims and radical Christians and other radical religionists who portray themselves as the only people on earth “to be saved” and who seek to eradicate other faiths and what they see as corruptions of their own faith, do not like Freemasonry either. Closed minds with agendas cannot accept free associations of differing views. The ability to “live and let live” is lost on those who have the one and only true way which becomes their mission to impose on everybody else for the good of the whole.

Learning how to live in peace and harmony – two very coupled Masonic words – has been something I have been writing on for many years as a Mason because it was Freemasonry that taught me the concept and it was Freemasonry that made me realize how it can be done and it was Freemasonry that showed me how important this is for the world.

In 2005 I wrote a long paper which I delivered in Alberta, Canada titled World Peace Through Brotherhood. In that paper I quoted Brother Joseph E.A. Salem of the Israeli Scottish Rite and his words are worth repeating.

“Too many people believe that peace is a diplomatic maneuvering, a series of talks and shuttle trips between countries, or a pile of documents signed in Paris or on the lawn of the White House, in Washington.  Real Peace can only come from the hearts of men.”

“The greatest ideal in the world today is fraternity, not as a mere sentiment, but as a science, a practical philosophy and a way of life.  If ever there was a generation eager and willing to try out the philosophy of brotherhood with wisdom and patience, it must be this generation.  We have been shown in letters of blood and fire, what hate, envy and greed can do.”

“I believe Freemasonry can do a lot towards building a better world, fit to live in, unstained by blood, undefiled by hatred.  This is the challenge to our craft.”

“’Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.’  This is the Commandment to which Freemasonry dedicated itself, to establish brotherhood among men so they can live in peace with each other in this world.”

“The struggle of Freemasonry is the struggle of the human race against tyranny and oppression.  From the beginning, Freemasonry has realized that religion, tradition, and habits of life can divide the peoples of the world into hostile camps.  Freemasonry takes no part in these quarrels, rather it provides a common meeting ground where all men can meet on the level.”

“Every Masonic lodge is a temple of peace. In it, men of different religions and stations in life meet together, and on its altars, the Sacred Volumes of all faiths are placed.  The spirit of harmony and cooperation prevails.  The Masonic teachings of equality and fraternity are the only tie that can bind the human family together, and create a world order based on brotherly love and peace.”


After I delivered World Peace Through Brotherhood at one Albertan Lodge, the Worshipful Master came up to me and he said. “Do you know what stood out for me out of that hour long lecture you gave?”  And he immediately answered his own question with, “Every Masonic Lodge is a temple of peace.”  EVERY MASONIC LODGE IS A TEMPLE OF PEACE. And that is so true.  Just as one might check his weapon at the door, every Mason checks his agenda at the door.

And what Salem imparts to us is that peace starts with the heart not with actions of civil servants. And that is where Freemasonry starts right from the very start.  Where is a man first made a Mason?  In his heart  – and he is raised, reborn into a new way of life, one of respect for others, for love for all humankind, for tolerance of different beliefs, styles and cultures and non judgmentalism leading to peace, harmony and accord.  This works very well as long as what is given is also received back. And here is where our dream, our fantasy of what would the world be like if every person was a Mason comes into play.

Lest anyone think that I am just substituting one, one and only true way with Freemasonry as the new one and only true way let me say this. Freemasonry is not the one and only true way.  It’s not even the only way.  But it is the best way I know of right now at this moment.  Religious organizations, houses of worship and secular organizations have a role to play also.  But the difference is this.  While they seek to impart peace through adherence to a certain dogma, creed or agenda Freemasonry does not.  Freemasonry’s dogma, creed and agenda is no dogma, no creed, no agenda except generalities of righteousness and nobleness that have been recognized by every religion, every culture, every free government since time immemorial.

Now talk as I may, and talk as the great writers around me may, none of us will have so many ears listening as will those who listen to Dan Brown.  His words that he tells us he repeats over and over again, will have a tremendous effect on those who seek to implement worldwide peace and harmony in our time.

Thank you Dan Brown.  We are overjoyed that you understand!

Freemason Tim Bryce.

The Blue Lodge – the Bedrock of Freemasonry

The Family of Freemasonry
The Family of Freemasonry

I was smoking a cigar with a Brother the other day and we got into a lively discussion on the Blue Lodge (aka, Craft or Particular Lodge). He wondered why I was so committed to the Blue Lodge and not the other bodies of Freemasonry. Although I joined the Shrine and High 12, my participation in these bodies can be described as spotty at best. As to the Scottish Rite and York Rite, frankly, they haven’t made their case for me yet.

My friend argued, “Surely you do not believe the body of Masonic knowledge stops at the Blue Lodge door?”

Perhaps not, but I countered that the Blue Lodge is the bedrock of the fraternity. If it crumbles, so will all of the other Masonic bodies.

The Blue Lodge represents the foundation of the fraternity. All of the other Masonic bodies are built on top of it and, as such, they are totally dependent on its existence. Yet, it seems people are anxious to be raised and move on to these other bodies that are seemingly more fun and interesting. Perhaps this is because there are more rules and regulations heaped on to a Blue Lodge than the other bodies. Consequently, Blue Lodges are inhibited by their Grand Lodges, some to the point of paralysis.

Small wonder people want to move on to other bodies.

These other Masonic bodies often behave autonomously, as if they were independent of the Blue Lodge.

They’re not. They are totally dependent on it. Yet, they rarely lift a finger to help the Blue Lodge. Instead, they fly overhead like vultures waiting to pick off the new members for their own organizations. This is resulting in a growing rift between the Blue Lodge and the other bodies, a very unhealthy situation. Instead of snatching bodies, the other Masonic organizations should be looking for ways to cooperate with the Blue Lodge, such as attracting members, presenting educational programs, helping in fund-raisers, assisting in Lodge newsletters and web sites, etc. Instead of an adversarial relationship, they should be building a spirit of cooperation and trust. Unfortunately, this is not what is happening. Relations have gotten so bad that some Lodges flat-out refuse to let the other bodies in their doors.

I guess the point of all this is that we are all on the same team, but we should always be cognizant of the fact that the Blue Lodge is the bedrock of the fraternity. I like to think of it as the offensive front-line of a football team; without them, everyone else will get clobbered.

Keep the Faith.

Freemasonry From the Edge
Freemasonry From the Edge

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

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

Article reprinted with permission of the author and www.FreemasonInformation.com. Please forward me a copy of the publication when it is produced.

To receive notices of Tim’s writings, subscribe to his Discussion Group.

Also be sure to check out Tim’s Pet Peeve of the Week (non-Masonic related).

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

W.Bro. S. Brent Morris – on Masonic Central

Brent Morris

W. Br. S. Brent Morris – Sunday, November 9, 2008

Editor of “The Scottish Rite Journal” and the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Freemasonry.

S. Brent Morris, joined the Masonic Central podcast where he discussed the importance of the Scottish Rite in the 21st Century, the differences/similarities between the Scottish Rite and the York Rite, American Masonry today and shared his thoughts on how to proceed into 21st century Masonry.

In this podcast Morris discusses his personal Masonic journey including his time as the first (and only) American to head the Quatuor Coronati lodge of research and delve into the nuanced history of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in America.

We also talk about the development of the Scottish Rite Journal (the largest Masonic publication in the world with more than 250,000 circulation) from its former incarnation as the the New Age Magazine.

In this episode we dig deep into the issues facing Freemasonry (member retention), masonic literacy and the future of the gentle craft. This was a fascinating conversation to get to know Brent and his amazing work in furthering the fraternity.

This podcast was originally recorded on Sunday, November 9, 2008.

More from W. Br. S. Brent Morris: Landmarks And Liabilities.

More on S. Brent Morris.

Robert Davis 33°, GC, Secretary of the Guthrie Oklahoma Scottish Rite

Brother Bob Davis 33°

Join us in this episode as we meet and talk with Robert Davis 33°. Together in this episode, Greg and Dean go deep with Br. Davis on his intimate family connections with Freemasonry, the Guthrie Scottish Rite, and the future of Freemasonry in Oklahoma and the rest of the nation.

Br. Robert is the author of Understanding Manhood in America and the writer behind the blog Papers of Robert G. Davis. Who can argue that experience and leadership are two of the most fundamental elements of a successful lodge, but how do you develop those elements? Leading change is one way, but not in a destructive manner, which is at the heart of this interview.

In our discussion we focus on Oklahoma Masonry, the Guthrie College of the Consistory study program, the role of the “mature masculine” in Freemasonry, and his thoughts on the future of Craft.

In this program we talk about the Guthrie Scottish Rite and its College of the Consistory program and touch on a wide range of topics, including:

  • Br. Davis’s history in Freemasonry and the factors in his life that led him to it.
  • The relationship between the quest of manhood and the role Freemasonry plays in it.
  • Leadership and successful lodges at the local level.
  • How to bring change to lodge (when change is desired) and
  • How activity breeds activity in any organization

Without a doubt you will find a point of deep connection to Br. Davis and with what he has to say.  He is probably as traditional as traditional Masonry gets but with an open stance of improving the fraternity and seeing it grow in the future.  At his core is the identity of the masculine male, manhood, and the recovery of that role in America today.

More on the web:


This show was originally recorded November 2, 2008, at 6PM PST on the Masonic Central Podcast.