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Friday, December 02, 2016

House of the Temple In Lego


Illus. Brent Morris passed along the news that the Scottish Rite SJ's Washington DC headquarters, the House of the Temple, has now been immortalized as a Lego project. Designed and constructed by a hobbyist known online as "Plandscape88," it is being featured on the official Lego Ideas website.


Given the obvious limitations of the medium, there is a remarkable amount of detail on the model, right down to a removable roof to display the sooper-secret Temple Room. Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol fans finally get to sort of see the room without the bother of having to actually travel to DC and tour the place in person.


If you have a minute, sign up for a log-in account on the Lego page and hit the "support" voting button over on the right side. If 10,000 folks vote in favor of it, the project will officially be made available as a kit by the Lego folks. Hurry up, though. According to the page, those 10,000 likes must come in before the end of January 2017. As of 2:30PM today, there are just 70.

Indianapolis Masonic Temple Open House Thursday 12/8


The public is invited to tour the historic Indianapolis Masonic Temple next Thursday, December 8th, from 5PM - 7PM. The tour is being held in conjunction with the Indiana Landmarks Foundation as part of their annual Holiday Open House program.

Egyptian-themed Red Cross Room

Also known as Indiana Freemasons Hall, the temple was designed by Preston C. Rubush and Edgar O. Hunter, the architects responsible for other famed Indianapolis landmarks between 1905 and 1938, such as the Circle and Indiana Theaters (both still in use today), the Columbia Club, the Indiana School for the Deaf, and the former City Hall.

Not mentioned in the event listing is that the Masonic Library and Museum of Indiana will also be open for the evening on the 5th floor, displaying artifacts and telling the story of the fraternity in Indiana since its beginnings in 1818.

The open house is free for members of Indiana Landmarks. R.S.V.P. at indyhoh16.eventbrite.com

For more details, visit the event website HERE.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

GM of New York Issues Post-Election Message


In the wake of the recent U.S. presidential election, emotions have been running extraordinarily high, and unfortunately, many Freemasons have been unable to subdue their passions, most especially on social media outlets and in public. Sadly, Brother has been turned against Brother, and some public exchanges have been truly unfortunate, indeed.

The Grand Master of New York, MW Jeffrey M. Williamson, has felt the need to remind his members that, among other things, Freemasons by our very definition, are expected to have "a high level of thought and discourse," and "to work diligently, live creditably and act honorably by all men.”

The Reverend James Anderson in his first Constitutions was writing about religious acceptance, but most Masons over the years have applied the sentiment of his opening Charge to all potentially contentious matters between Brethren: 
"...leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguish’d; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must else have remain’d at a perpetual Distance."
The GM's entire message is above. Click the image to enlarge and please read it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Oklahoma Edict on Arkansas Lapses: Amity Restored

The edict issued on October 31, 2016 by the now immediate Past Grand Master of Oklahoma suspending Masonic amity with the Grand Lodge of Arkansas has turned out to be short lived. The assembled voting members at the MW Grand Lodge of AF&AM of Oklahoma's annual communication last weekend, November 11-12,  failed to affirm PGM Dudley "Ridge" Smith's Decision No. 3, and so it has been rescinded with the election of MW Richard Allison as their new Grand Master.

Regular, recognized Masons in those jurisdictions may again inter-visit.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Custom Book Restoration and Conservation

If you are anything like me, you trawl the web, Ebay, Abebooks, and other sites constantly on the lookout for that rare volume of Masonic writing, or just one more you don't already own. I'll say right up front that I despise ebooks as a format for actually reading. Alice owns two versions of Kindles, a Nook, and a Surface, and I never use them. Even Google Books, despite being the sole online repository of numerous rare books long out of print, drives me crazy to actually sit in front of the screen for hours to go through a helpful or interesting tome. Please don't pass along the usual pap about "carrying a whole library in one device," because I'm not doing it. Our house has 84 linear feet of bookcases, all filled, and every room, with the exception of one bathroom, has a bookcase in it.

Over on Facebook, Illus. Art de Hoyos gave a shoutout to a small company that many Freemasons might find beneficial, most especially us book collecting obsessives. Brother Joseph Adams down in Texas is the proprietor of Eidolon House, and specializes in the hand crafted processes of fine book binding, rare book conservation and restoration, and other associated services.

On the website, he explains the difference between conservation and restoration: "Conservation aims to stop any current deterioration of the book, as well as limit further damage. Restoration aims to bringing the book back to its original state and strength as far as archival methods will allow."


Art posted a couple of examples of Brother Adams' work done for books in his collection (above), but the site includes numerous images of other projects, as well (John also raises Angora rabbits on the side). He seems to especially interest people with old, rare, or just sentimental Bibles and other religious or inspirational works. 

One slightly different option to a total rebinding is the creation of a leather or cloth slipcase or enclosure (right) that is beautifully decorated on the outside, even though it might just be for a rare or sentimental paperback inside.

Other Masons chimed in on Art's post about work John has done for them, their lodge, or library, so he comes very highly regarded and well recommended. 


Monday, November 07, 2016

Paris To Change Name of Former Templar Location


The Paris Templar Enclos as it appeared in 1795

I received a link to to a French Change.org petition today. It seems that some central planning genius in Paris has decided to rename the city's Square du Temple after Elie Wiesel to memorialize the Nobel Prize-winning author, activist, and Auschwitz survivor.

Some stories I have found conflict: the petition says its new name will be 'Square Elie Wiesel,' while Le Parisien says it will be hybridized into 'Square du Temple-Elie Wiesel.' So, I'm a little confused. That article says it has already been renamed, so it may be that no public input was allowed, and petitions to stop it are already meaningless.


Patrick Marguerit, Socialist Party mayor of the 3rd Arrondissement, made the official announcement last Thursday. Apparently, the Paris Council made the decision September 12th in a vote that was not unanimous, and it has angered many of the citizens of the city, especially those who reside in the area. 

So, I read it and signed it, for whatever good it might accomplish. These Change.org petitions rarely prevent any political steamrollering anywhere. I’m certainly all in for a Parisian location or monument to memorialize Wiesel. I was introduced to his works in high school, beginning with Night, and his books have humanized and personalized the unfathomable horrors of the Holocaust in a way that few other authors could ever equal, because he lived it. His books have been read by millions all over the world, and continue to impact new readers today. As they should. They should remain in circulation for as long as words can appear in print, and then repeated by rote if we ever descend into a world like Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. (In an age of speech codes, safe spaces, and trigger warnings, such a notion no longer seems unthinkable, I'm afraid.)


But Paris planners could certainly have chosen somewhere other than this particular location that occupies such an important place in history. Wiesel lived in Paris after the war, but I haven't been able to figure out whether he lived on or near Square du Temple. He is largely regarded today as an American author. 

Unfortunately, if you go poking around too much on Parisian websites, the controversy over the renaming gets wrapped up in French anti-semitism, with the usual shrieks of Zionist conspiracies to obliterate Christian sites. Such is the territory of certain types who inhabit the web.


There is literally nothing physical left in this area today to even hint that the Templars had such an enormous presence in the city besides its name and nearby Metro station. Even the sole remnants of the Templar's 13th century Great Tower - its doors - were moved to Chateau Vincennes two centuries ago. 

Here is a rough translation attempt of the wording of the petition:

NO to the renaming of the Square du Temple Square Elie Wiesel!
Without consulting the residents, the mayor of the third arrondissement, Pierre Aidenbaum, expressed the wish to give it the name of Elie Wiesel at Temple Square. 
This decision, if implemented, would erase the memory of the Enclos du Temple (Enclosure of the Temple) from the twelfth century and whose fortified tower appears on a seal dated 1290.  
The fortified enclosure was the [headquarters] of the Knights Templar in France in connection with the Temple in Jerusalem. 
After its dissolution in 1312, the order gave way to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem (Order of Malta) . L'Enclos survived and remained a vibrant free city with its many artisans. The activity of costume jewelery still very present today remains a living testimony.  
Economically and religiously vibrant, the Yard was behind its walls [was home to] famous people like Rousseau and Beranger. Mozart played there before the nobility. 

(Model of the enclosure time in the eighteenth century https://goo.gl/gQRddb )
[During] the  Revolution with the imprisonment of the royal family in 1792 and the death of little Louis XVII in the tower, which was destroyed in 1809, [followed by] the Paris Commune and the Premiere International [an international organization of left wing political groups and labor unions] in 1871, the area of the Temple was the Parisian field where political movements mingled with force, and often tragically.   
The Second World War did not spare the neighborhood; a monument recalls the names of 85 small Jewish children deported and exterminated in Auschwitz with their family from 1942 to 1944.    
The palace of the Grand Prior no longer exists but its garden is still there. Since 1857 it bears the name of the square of the Temple built by Alphand. 
If affixing the name of Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize [winner], died July 2, 2016, should not seem to be criticism in itself, as can be reserved for a [different] Parisian site, however, it is particularly questionable want to wish erase the memory of the Temple. 
The people of the 3rd love the Square du Temple. This is a lively place and very popular with people of all ages! All have their say on what is the heart of their district!  
NO to the arbitrary decision of the name change!   No to the oblivion of the memory of one of the oldest neighborhoods in Paris! The Square du Temple should bear this name, a name that marks the true historical heritage of the capital.

The first time Alice and I went to Paris after I became a Mason, like every good John Robinson reader, I eagerly sought out any site that had anything to do with the Order. We visited the tiny park on the Ile aux Juifs as soon as we got to town, and saw the plaques marking the death of Jacques de Molay (the one over the steps placed by the DeMolays and the other official one by the city). The next day, it rained all afternoon, but we hiked up the Rue du Temple to the Square, and I desperately searched for some remnant, some fragmented wall, some old archway, or even just a chunk of foundation stone in the park. But Napoleon did his job and erased every bit of it.

Interestingly, as was pointed out in one article I saw, Elie Wiesel himself wrote, "A man without a past is poorer than a man without a future." If the Council is wedded to the location for some reason, then just name the park there after Wiesel (although, even that is troublesome, as it was the Templar Grand Prior's own garden). But not the square. Don't erase history. 

If you are so inclined, click here to sign the petition. 

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Reporter Has Kittens Over GL of Victoria, Australia Hiring Female CEO

The Weekend Herald Sun in Melbourne, Australia featured a lengthy article on Friday about the Grand Lodge of Victoria (Freemasons Victoria) breaking with longstanding tradition, throwing in the towel, and hiring a woman as their new Chief Executive to run the business and public image side of the fraternity.

It's difficult sometimes to tell with a news article whether the reporter intentionally added needless, ignorant and insulting swipes to the story herself, or if some sneering editor inserted their own after the piece was submitted. That's especially true with anti-Masonic insults. I've come to just expect them in the UK papers with stories about the fraternity, but it seems like a recent development in Australia. 

Unfortunately, smart-assed, snarky news writers seem to be the big thing in the mainstream press now, in some desperate attempt to remain "entertaining" enough to snag enough eyeballs to justify their ad rates.

From The Woman Set To Save Freemasonry by Susie O'Brien:


Freemasonry is an ancient worldwide secular society of men with its antecedents in medieval stonemasons’ guilds. 
It has a long and distinguished history in Australia, starting with botanist Joseph Banks on board the Endeavour in 1770. 
Until the 1970s, just about all Australian prime ministers were Freemasons. Other well-known members included cricketer Sir Donald Bradman, Sir Robert Menzies, Graham Kennedy and the inventors of the Freddo Frog and Vegemite.However, these glory days are well and truly gone. 
In the 1960s the Freemasons had 110,000 members in Australia; now there are only 9500 [sic - see my note at the bottom]. The organisation is losing 700 members annually — an unsustainable 8 per cent loss per annum. 
It’s no wonder this men’s-only club is undergoing the biggest overhaul in its Australian history. 
There is simply no choice. With declining revenues, memberships and relevance, the Freemasons must modernise or slowly die. 
In a startling move, the person Freemasons Victoria has chosen to oversee this monumental task is a woman; its first female CEO, Jane Sydenham-Clarke. 
Engaging, razor-sharp and dressed in chic black, Sydenham-Clarke has built an impressive reputation turning around struggling organisations. Or, as she calls it, undertaking “change-management journeys”. 
This is one woman who likes a challenge. 
[snip] 
Sydenham-Clarke is more inclined to address the gender issue head-on. 
“I want to state the obvious. I am not a man,” she told a room of curious Freemasons in September. “But I am daughter of a very proud Freemason.” 
It was just nine days after taking her post, and Sydenham-Clarke was addressing a Freemasons business lunch in a distinguished mahogany-lined room at the Rendezvous Hotel. It was almost certainly the first time anyone at such a gathering had thrown around such un-Masonic terms as “robust in the digital space” and “building brand architecture”. 
“We’ll be moving with the times,” she told the lunch. This involves “getting the product right” and working out “what success looks like”. 
“Today’s young man is well-educated, they have a family and they’re time-poor, so we need to ensure we are relevant to their lives,” she said later.Given the average age of a Freemason is 67, this emphasis on engaging younger members is no mean feat. 
Five weeks later, after a frantic whirlwind of meetings, events and research, Sydenham-Clarke admits the Freemasons is like a “parallel universe”.But it’s one she’s clearly happy to inhabit. 
It’s fair to say that in her previous positions she didn’t get escorted to her car after a meeting by a swordsman decked out in ceremonial garb. 
It’s telling that this ancient organisation has turned to a woman to rescue it — a woman it won’t admit as a member. 
This doesn’t appear to be an issue for Sydenham-Clarke. She is adamant the Freemasons can bring about renewal and rejuvenation without admitting females as members.
[snip]
A tour of the new Box Hill Lodge, led by Freemasons Peter Atkin and Richard Elkington, is both enlightening and baffling. 
It is a nondescript office-style building on Maroondah Highway, but inside it contains two plush meeting places redolent with ceremonial artefacts and centuries-old traditions. The meeting rooms are grand and rectangular, with wooden seats facing inward towards a rectangular chequerboard carpet. 
Ancient symbols of Masonry abound. These include the rough and smooth stones representing the journey from ignorance to knowledge and the compass and square representing lessons in conduct. 
A letter G is suspended over the central carpet, and three grand wooden thrones dominate one end of the room. There are also wooden cupboards containing symbols of the three degrees of Freemasonry teachings and ritual processes: the shaping tools, the managing tools and the recording tools. 
Once a month Freemason members from surrounding lodges meet there. They come to meetings in dinner suits, wearing different sheepskin aprons according to their rank and experience. 
Atkin says the sheepskin is highly significant because it “reminds us that despite how high up you get, you remember who you were when you first came through the door”. 
A sign in the Box Hill Lodge cloakroom for a prostate cancer support group symbolises the age range of the cohort. 
Atkin says he was initiated to the Freemasons 46 years ago. 
“I’m a young guy,” he chuckles. 
This is what passes as a joke in Freemason circles. 
It’s hard not to be impressed by the passion and respect both Atkin and Elkington feel for this somewhat strange set of rituals. But at the same time, it’s all a bit odd. 
Where else do grown men discuss the Grand Architect of the Universe? Wear ceremonial aprons? Stand around talking about installation of the Sunshine Wisdom Lodge or the Lodge of the Golden Fleece? 
And that doesn’t even include the secret bits they don’t talk about: the rumoured rolled-up trouser leg on initiation, the secret handshake involving... 
There it is, right on cue: the rubber stamped "rolled-up trouser leg" trademark of the Anglo-influenced press. Never mind. You get the picture. But honestly - was there some compelling reason to take special schoolgirl glee in the middle of an otherwise fairly respectful piece to go out of the way to toss off completely unnecessary and uncalled for insulting wisecracks, and even childishly dish up what she thinks is the "secret handshake"? 

Then there's this a little farther down:
Change is definitely afoot, but there’s a long way to go. Sydenham-Clarke will have her work cut out. 
First the Freemasons need to get over the public perception that their organisation is little more than a bunch of old men keeping ancient secrets, exchanging secret handshakes and riding goats at initiation ceremonies.Reynolds is keen to make one thing very clear — there are no goats.“I haven’t seen one yet,” he says. 
Given he joined the organisation at 24, and has been a Freemason for close to 40 years, he probably knows. 
Secret rituals? Yes. 
Handshakes? Yes. 
Goats? No. 
Good to get that cleared up. 
Sydenham-Clarke also wants to move the agenda on from handshakes and farmyard animals...
Yuk. Yuk. Yuk.

Feel free to read the whole thing if you feel some morbid compulsion. Sadly, this is what passes for "journalism" now, and we need to be aware of it before we go nosing around for publicity. It's certainly been all over the mainstream press in England since the 1990s, and it has apparently been transplanted to Australia now. 

If so, I'm afraid Ms. Sydenham-Clarke's mission to build Freemasonry's brand architecture in Victoria may be an arduous uphill battle.

NOTE: Reporterette O'Brien obviously wasn't taking careful notes and makes things appear more dire than the truth. She asserts early in the piece that there are just 9,500 Masons in Australia today, down from a height of 110,000. While it is certainly down substantially from its greatest post-WWII numbers these days, the most recently compiled Australian numbers actually show there to be 36,907 Masons nationwide. (That number does not include lodges operating under charters of the three Home GLs of England, Ireland, and Scotland. And if you want to unofficially toss New Zealand in just because they're so close, that adds another 7,900.)

From Grand Lodge figures reported in late 2015:

NSW 12,000
Queensland  7,400
South AU and Northern Territory 2,507
Victoria  10,200
Western AU  3,600
Tasmania  1,200

Was There a Soul Before the Max Planck Institute?

It has apparently taken a doubtless extravagantly funded study at Munich's prestigious Max Planck Institutes to come up with a bold, new, groundbreaking theory: that human beings might actually have some sort of soul-like thingie called "quantum information" in "sub-atomic tubules" that kind of maybe might actually continue to exist somewhere out in some non-specific place out in the ether after we die. Or something.

As Alice says about the "State of Infinite Perfection" postulated before the Big Bang Theory, somehow I'll bet that doesn't involve anything that spells "dog" backwards. 

It is extraordinarily depressing to conclude that Mankind has arrived at a stage of development that a concept that people have taken as an article of faith for several millennia has suddenly been transformed from the basis for numerous religions throughout  recorded history into an "eerie theory" worthy of a press release and a research grant.

From yesterday's issue of that respected journal of scientific knowledge, the UK tabloid The Sun:
Scientists have claimed that death may not be as final as we once feared – and that humans have souls that can leave the body after their hosts kick the bucket.
It may sound like a supernatural myth, but the idea that human consciousness lives on after death has been put forward by a number of well-respected scientists.
And the British scientist at the forefront of the eerie theory claims that humans have souls which don't die along with the body.
We may not know exactly what consciousness is, but physicist Sir Roger Penrose believes that it's just a packet of information stored at a quantum - or sub-atomic - level.
Sensationally, he claims to have found evidence that this information, which is stored in microtubules within human cells, leaves the body after a person dies.
Sir Roger has argued that when a person dies temporarily, this quantum information is released into the universe, only to return to the body's cells if the host is brought back to life.
He argues that this explains why people can have near-death experiences, and believes that this quantum information amounts to a soul leaving the body.The physics expert said: "If the patient dies, it's possible that this quantum information can exist outside the body, perhaps indefinitely, as a soul."
And Sir Roger is not alone in believing this, since his theory is backed by researchers at the renowned Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich.Experts there argue that our physical universe is just a perception, and that once our bodies die there is an infinite life beyond.

SRICF High Council Meeting Was a Huge Success

I spent the last three days at the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis' annual High Council meeting in Louisville, catching up with old friends and making new ones. There were many outstanding accomplishments this year, great presentations, and participation has improved since moving out of the longstanding association with Masonic Week two years ago. That's been extremely beneficial because our programs have expanded from being restricted to just a few hours of being shoehorned into someone else's schedule, into allowing two very full days dedicated solely to us. And it's always an added bonus to have a decent delegation from outside of the U.S. to give us a much broader spectrum of understanding of what is happening around the world.

This was a working meeting. On Friday, there were breakout sessions for both Chief Adepts and Celebrants. I attended the latter, and it demonstrated the challenges faced by many SRICF colleges here, because of the current, somewhat schizophrenic nature of the group in the U.S. Despite its stated mission as an invitational Masonic organization rooted specifically in Rosicrucian philosophies and practices, the truth is that for decades it was, in reality, mostly a supper club for Past Grands, Past Imperials, and Past AASR body officers, whose members knew little more about actual Rosicrucianism than I know about astrophysics. That situation has been ever so slowly changing, in part due to the restriction on the number of colleges in the country (generally just one per state), its invitational nature,  and the constitutional limit of no more than 72 members per college. Now, more Masons who are truly interested in esotericism of this nature are being brought into the older colleges as existing members drop out or pass away, and new colleges are being chartered in states where none exist. Those new ones are starting from scratch, and they are especially concentrating on truly exploring the Rosicrucian concepts that were intended from the beginning.

In addition to a blessedly brief business session, grades were exemplified Friday with outstanding work done by Colleges from Ohio, Wisconsin and Alabama in the afternoon, as well as elevations performed later in the evening with assistance from our English and Scottish fratres. 

On Saturday, RW Frater W. Stephen Burkle, PhD, gave an extensive Alchemy presentation that probably should have really been expanded into two separate sessions, simply due to the sheer amount of information he attempted to squeeze into what grew into three hours. The High Council has published a very comprehensive book on the subject written by Stephen, based on his presentation. The Art and Science of Alchemy should be available soon from their website for $50. If you are truly interested in a serious understanding of the subject, it is well worth the investment.  He is a practicing alchemist, who trained for several years in France, and is no mere weekend hobbyist.

In the afternoon, Frater Piers Vaughn gave a beautifully illustrated and fascinating presentation on the Kabbalah's Tree of Life, concentrating on the Christian variant that appears throughout Rosicrucian philosophy. He followed it with an abbreviated, meditative Practicum to demonstrate how such an exercise might be effectively employed in College meetings. 


Frater Michael Buckley was the keynote speaker at Saturday evening's banquet. His topic was on the life, philosophy, practices, and many travels of the 16th century physician, philosopher, and occultist Philippus von Hohenheim, better known to history as Paracelsus, whose life and activities may arguably have been the initial inspiration for the legend of Christian Rosenkreutz. A contemporary of Copernicus, Martin Luther, and da Vinci, Paracelsus invented, developed, or just promulgated techniques that would help to revolutionize medicine, chemistry, and even psychotherapy. Though he was regarded as heretical by many at the time, his writings formed the basis of many scientific and medical practices we take for granted today. 

Supreme Magus William H. Koon has done an incredible job of helping to guide the restoration of this Order to the rightful path that was intended from its 1880 beginnings, and his dedication combined with an unstoppable sense of purpose for the benefit the Order cannot be underestimated. Added to that are the many fratres who have worked tirelessly within the High Council and all across the country who are passionately devoted to Masonic Rosicrucianism. Suggestions from last year were implemented this year, and Bill again asked for input this time to improve next year. Remarkably, they were very few in number and astonishingly miniscule. I heard no negativity from anyone all weekend. That is astonishing all by itself, and I believe the future will only bring greater things.





Just as a surprise when I got home was a link on my alerts reminders to a New Yorker magazine story from last month that gives a thumbnail sketch of the origin of Rosicrucianism, with a review of a book that has a different take on the foundational documents of the Fama, Confessio, and especially the Chymical Wedding. 

See Reimagining a Shadowy Medieval Brotherhood That Probably Didn't Exist  by Peter Babergal.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Grand Master of Oklahoma Suspends Recognition of GL of Arkansas

The Grand Master of the MW Grand Lodge of AF&AM of Oklahoma, MW Dudley R. Smith, has issued an edict dated October 31st, Decision No. 3, officially suspending recognition of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas. (Click the image above to enlarge it.)

It reads, in part:
"The conventions whereby one Grand Lodge recognizes another evolved from principles promulgated by the United Grand Lodge of England in 1929 to define the relationships between Masonic jurisdictions... 
The Grand Lodge of Arkansas has diverged from these principles on more than one occasion, especially in the areas of the right to transfer membership and the right to due process in the administration of Masonic discipline."
The annual communication for the GL of Oklahoma will take place November 11th, at which time the voting members will decide whether to affirm the GM's edict or not.

The problem has been brewing since around 2012, when the Grand Secretary's office in the GL of Arkansas began an unofficial policy of failing to issue letters of good standing for Arkansas Masons who wished to transfer their membership out of state - reportedly to those jurisdictions that recognize their Prince Hall counterparts, but to Oklahoma especially. That said, the Grand Master's edict does not provide the details behind his reasons. He will apparently present them with more specificity at the annual communication next week.

For background on this situation:

3/13/10: Grand Lodge of Arkansas Pulls Charter, Files Charges Over Website
12/16/10: News From Arkansas
2/17/11: A Gathering Storm In Arkansas
2/18/11: More Sad News From Arkansas
11/9/12: Shrine Declared Clandestine in Arkansas
1/31/13: South Carolina Suspends Relations With Shriners Internationa
6/19/16: Arkansas Rumblings
6/26/16: Reprehend With Justice
8/23/16: GL of Arkansas Suspends Grand Senior Warden
8/28/16: Grand Lodge of Arkansas' Yezhovshchina: Grand Line Officers Purged
9/3/16: More Antics Out Of Arkansas
9/11/16: Arkansas: Floggings Continue, Yet Morale Doesn't Improve
10/10/16: New Allegations in Arkansas

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Presidential Assassination Attempt Thwarted 66 years Ago

Today, Brother Robert Johnson over on the Midnight Freemasons blog posted a brief story concerning an assassination attempt on November 1st, 1950 against President Harry S Truman by Puerto Rican Nationalists. The incident at the time was described as "...the biggest gunfight the Secret Service had ever seen." In the course of the attack, two White House police officers were wounded, and a third was killed - Leslie William Coffelt (photo). Despite being shot three times, Coffelt returned fire, killing one of the assassins, before he lost consciousness and collapsed from his own mortal wounds. 

Like Truman himself, Officer Leslie Coffelt was a Freemason. Brother Coffelt was a member of the District's Potomac Lodge No. 5.  

After Robert posted the story, he received a link to the Potomac Lodge's Facebook page that includes details about their fallen Brother. You may read it HERE, but not everyone has a Facebook account (hard to believe, I know). So, I reprint it below.


Every November 1st, the brethren of Potomac Lodge No. 5 honor the passing of White House Police Officer and Brother, Leslie W. Coffelt. On this day in 1950, two armed Puerto Rican Nationalists carried out a failed assassination attempt on the life of President Harry S. Truman who was living at the Blair House during the White House renovations. 
On the day of the attempt, Bro. Coffelt was stationed at the west corner guard booth of the Blair House when one of the assassins took Coffelt by surprise and shot him four times at close range, mortally wounding him. The assassin then moved to help his partner who had been engaged in a shootout with other secret service agents. Miraculously, Coffelt stumbled out of the guard booth, propped up against it, and fired his revolver at the assassins from 30 feet away, shooting one in the head, and killing him instantly. The other assassin was taken into custody and Coffelt was rushed to the hospital. He was pronounced dead four hours later. Coffelt was the only officer to die that day and thanks to the bravery of the Secret Service, the two assassins never made it into the building.
Coffelt was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with a Hero’s Honors. A Masonic Funeral was also performed by Potomac Lodge No. 5, in the presence of Mrs. Coffelt, members of the family, President Truman and Mrs. Truman, as well as other masons across the District of Columbia. The pallbearers for the event were fellow officers of the White House Police and all Freemasons. Pallbearers included: two brothers from Potomac Lodge No. 5, two from Anacostia Lodge No. 21, one from Petworth Lodge No. 47, one from Kemper Lodge No. 64 of Virginia, and one from Spencer Lodge No. 126 of South Dakota. 
 (Click to enlarge.)
Potomac Lodge is fortunate to have a copy of President Truman’s letter to the lodge expressing his sincerest thanks and condolences for the loss of Bro. Coffelt. We also have a letter from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who was an active mason, expressing his thanks for sharing a special commemorative newsletter regarding the passing of Bro. Coffelt.
Truman was a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Missouri and a 33° Scottish Rite Mason, along with being, coincidently, the 33rd President.

Three and a half years later, on March 1st, 1954, four similarly motivated Puerto Rican Nationalists stood up in the spectator balcony overlooking the Chamber of the House of Representatives and opened fire, wounding five Congressmen: Alvin M. Bentley (R-Michigan) took a bullet to the chest, Clifford Davis (D-Tennessee) was shot in the leg, Ben F. Jensen (R-Iowa) was shot in the back, as were George Hyde Fallon (D-Maryland) and Kenneth A. Roberts (D-Alabama). Amazingly, all five survived the shooting.

Out of those five, Bentley, Davis, and Jensen were all Masons.

Denver Airport Finally Embraces Its Bizarre Reputation


One of the murals at the Denver International Airport, painted by Leo Tanguma.


Ever since opening to both fanfare and derision in 1995, the Denver airport has been ground zero in the conspiracy theory world, if only for the very long list of blatant peculiarities it contains, mostly in plain sight. I covered most of them HERE in June. 



Denver is kind of unique in conspiracy circles because you don't have to make it all up - most of it is right out in front of God and everybody to see. From the fascistic imagery on murals and the Masonic control panel-looking capstone touting a "New World Order" (sort of), down to the giant, blue-with-glowing-red-eyes horse of Lucifer's on the road into the terminal areas, the place is its own worst enemy.

Now, apparently, the CEO of the airport has decided to openly embrace the paranoia.

From an article in today's Denver Post:
“We have a CEO (Kim Day) who really embraces the conspiracy ideas,” said Heath Montgomery, senior public information officer for DIA. “We decided a few years ago that rather than fight all of this and try and convince everybody there’s nothing really going on, let’s have some fun with it.” 
2016 marks a turning point in the airport’s marketing savvy. For the first time, DIA is featuring a modest, museum-style exhibition of the most notable (and, admittedly, least controversial) theories in honor of October as “Conspiracy Month.” Events have included a “conspiracy-themed costume party” and free “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” screening — chosen because the coordinates for the alien landing in the 1977 film supposedly point to DIA’s location (in reality it’s an empty field 51 miles northwest of the airport).Most of the theories are so laughable and easily disproved that DIA is happy to weaponize them as marketing tools. That, in turn, translates to an estimated “hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars” in free publicity, Montgomery said. 
“Those aren’t even pictures of our airport,” he said as a Buzzfeed video played on a TV screen behind him in the conspiracy exhibit, which runs through Oct. 31 in the main terminal. “People see it out of context and then it continues the dialogue. YouTube is a big propagator of this. There’s been so much misinformation out there that people just regurgitate and spout it without thinking or addressing the reality behind it.”
(I never knew about the gargoyles and the Close Encounters thing. This place is a gift that just keeps on giving.)

Read the whole article HERE.

Monday, October 31, 2016

GL of California Reaffirms Suspension of Recognition with GA and TN

On the heels of last Tuesday's annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Georgia F&AM at which voting members narrowly failed in their attempt to remove the language barring homosexuals and co-habitation among Masons in that state from their Code, the members of the Grand Lodge F&AM of California have quickly responded.

At California's annual communication on Friday, a vote was taken to reaffirm Grand Master M. David Perry's edicts from March of this year that had suspended recognition of Georgia and Tennessee. The motion passed overwhelmingly. 

Back in March when his edicts were issued withdrawing recognition, Grand Master Perry stated, 
The Grand Lodge of Georgia ratified Grand Master McDonald’s Edict No. 2015-4 at the last Annual Communication of their Grand Lodge, thereby adding the following language to their Grand Lodge law: homosexual activity with anyone subjects the offender to discipline. The Grand Lodge of Tennessee recently suspended two brothers from Masonry for violating a provision of the Tennessee Masonic Code when they posted photographs of their wedding to each other on Facebook. The Tennessee Masonic Code states that it is a Masonic offense to promote or engage in homosexual activity. 
In each case, I construe these actions as a sectarian stand which is inconsistent with and does not support the General Regulations of Freemasonry. I have therefore suspended recognition of The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Georgia and the Grand Lodge of Tennessee F. & A. M. until the next Annual Communication of our Grand Lodge. 
As a result, California will officially continue to suspend Masonic amity with those two grand lodges for at least one more year, until the annual communication votes again, or the new 2016-17 Grand Master restores amity himself. Or until Georgia and Tennessee remove their restrictive rules.

Grand lodges of California, the District of Columbia, and Belgium all withdrew recognition with Georgia and Tennessee earlier this year over their rules barring homosexuals from membership.

For the ongoing background in this situation, SEE HERE.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Freemasonry in India

India's former National Congress president, Pandit Motilal Nehru in Masonic regalia

Most US Freemasons are told our fraternity is a worldwide brotherhood, but we tend to think of it primarily as a Western institution. Nevertheless, Masonry does indeed flourish all over the world. 

A little over a decade after the official formation of the premiere Grand Lodge of England, in 1729 Freemasonry came to British India on the ships of the East India Tea Company. A provincial grand lodge was established in Bengal and Lodge No. 72 was chartered and met at Ft. William in Calcutta in 1730. The Grand Lodge of Scotland also established their own provincial grand lodges in the region, and the Grand Lodge of Ireland eventually chartered lodges in the country, as well. 

The earliest lodges were reserved for English and Scottish colonizers and merchants, but in 1776, the first Indian Mason, Omdat-ul-Omrah, was initiated at Trichinopoly. Lodges in western India took considerably longer to welcome Indians as members, not recorded until 1843.

Brother  Rudyard Kipling was made a Freemason at Hope and Perseverance Lodge No. 782 (E.C.) at Lahore Punjab, India on April 5, 1886. He is best known in Masonic circles for his short story, The Man Who Would Be King, as well as his famous poem, The Mother Lodge, both of which drew upon his experiences as a Freemason in India. 

India attained independence from Britain in 1947. The Grand Lodge of AF&AM of India was finally established in New Delhi in 1961 by an agreement with the three parent grand lodges, and Major General Dr. Sir Syed Raza Ali Khan, His Highness the Nawab of Rampur, was installed as their first Grand Master. 

Today, there are 403 lodges under the Grand Lodge, with more than 20,000 members.

An article in The Indian Express yesterday explored the role of Masonry in India. Read 'From leaders to cities, how India owes a lot to the secret order of Freemasons' by Namit Hans:
On February 19, 1884, a young Narendranath Datta joined the Anchor and Hope Lodge and became a Freemason. Within three months, 21-year-old Datta was raised to the degree of ‘master mason’. After nine years, the world came to identify this young boy as one of the greatest spiritual leaders ever born in India and the first to have brought Hindu philosophy to the west. 
Narendranath, who was by then known as Swami Vivekananda, surprised everyone as he spoke on Hindu culture and religion at World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. 
It is believed that the freemasons helped Swami Vivekananda during his time in Chicago. 
[snip] 
The many mysteries
Swami Shantanmananda of Ramakrishna Mission in Delhi, when contacted, told IndianExpress.com that literary evidence of Swami Vivekananda as a member of the society is limited to one of his biographies written by his followers.
 
Apart from Swami Vivekananda, several prominent Indian leaders are believed to have joined Freemasonry in the past. Pandit Motilal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad and Fakhrudin Ali Ahmed are just a few names among many. Any documentary proof regarding their stint with Freemasonry is however hard to find. 
In his autobiography, Harivansh Rai Bachchan writes this about Pandit Motilal Nehru:
“Babu Rajaram was a friend of Motilal Nehru; I saw a photograph of him and Motilal in freemasons’ garb; there was, I recall, a freemasons’ lodge somewhere in town. Motilal Nehru was keen on institutions of this kind, and was later attracted to the Theosophical Society”.
In the west, great leaders like Franklin D Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington among others are also believed to have joined Freemasonry. It is said that this close relationship of Freemasonry with world leaders influenced many movements around the world including the French and American revolution and the Indian Independence movement.
If the Freemasons actually played a role in these, then why is it that their contribution is seldom talked about? 
Freemasonry, Geometry and Architecture
“The whole of Delhi was planned using two specific geometric shapes: the triangle and the hexagram. The fact that the Imperial city of Delhi was planned using triangles and hexagrams is not surprising given that most English royalty had masonic links and Edwin Lutyens himself had masonic links,” said Ashwin Sanghi, author of Rozabal Line and other books. 
“Similarly, the shape of Connaught Place is designed by Robert Russel who was also a Free Mason. The inspiration for Connaught Place was the Royal Crescent building (in Bath, England). Why were both the Royal Crescent and Connaught Place designed in these specific shapes? The crescent (Connaught Circus) represents the moon while the central portion (the circular park area) represents the sun. Again, both sun and moon figure prominently among masonic symbols,” he adds. 
Royal Crescent Building in Bath

It is said that the stonemasons designed the architectural wonders of the ancient world including the Temple of Solomon. As per the traditional theory of their origin, which was propounded just six years after establishment of first Grand Lodge in London in 1717, the practice is closely related to geometry which originated with Adam. The story goes that it’s knowledge was ‘implanted in Adam’s heart’ by God, who then passed it on to his sons Cain and Seth. It is then said to have been preserved by Noah at the time of great flood. 
Thus, many signs and symbols that adorn the Masonic temples and uniforms resemble the geometrical shapes. The Star of David is most popular among them all. This, along with the long tradition of secrecy, led to a belief that it was a jewish conspiracy inviting backlash from Church and Islamic fundamentalists. In 1983, the practice was banned in Pakistan and their buildings were taken under control by government. Earlier, in January this year, the FBI thwarted the plot to target Masonic Center in Milwaukee by one Samy Mohamed Hamzeh. 
Freemasonry in India
The Freemasons’ fraternity in India is thriving. There have been no reports of any major opposition to their existence in the past. Brought to India by the British, there are now 380 lodges spread across the country controlled by Grand Lodge of India (New Delhi). According to Grand Secretary V K Gupta, there are around 30,000 registered Freemasons in India out of which 30 per cent are youth. “More and more people are showing interest in the fraternity,” he says. 
 According to Grand Secretary V K Gupta, there are around 30,000 registered 
Freemasons in India out of which 30 per cent are youth.  
The current head or ‘grand master’ is Harcharan Singh Ranauta. The Freemasons do not believe in practicing any religion, but do not put any restrictions on anyone at the same time. “Our rituals and practices are maintained as a secret just to ensure that Freemasons can identify each other easily. A Freemason in India can go to any other country and he will be treated as part of the fraternity and helped by them,” says a Freemason who did not wish to be named. 
The Grand Lodge of India runs a polyclinic inside its complex in Janpath in New Delhi and it is also involved in many developmental and philanthropic activities. 
Believers in one God or ‘Father of Universe’, they go by the motto of ‘brotherly love, relief and truth’.

The Grand Lodge of India has a brief page of history of Freemasonry in the country HERE.

For a longer history of the growth and development of Scottish Constitution Freemasonry in India , SEE HERE.