The Rite of Adoption - OES Before OES?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RW Robert H. Johnson

This early cabinet card depicts a woman dressed in Masonic regalia and holding her working tools.  Image courtesy of Phoenixmasonry.org


We're all familiar with the Order of the Eastern Star. Some love it, some hate it. Whatever your feelings are I couldn't hep but think about it and the way it operates when reading a section of the Lexicon of Freemasonry by Albert Mackey. In a section labeled, "Adoptive Masonry", Mackey outlines the Rite of Adoption, a system born in France, under the Grand Orient.

The interesting facts are many, but here are just a few for your edification--Regular lodges would adopt a lodge of women. The women's lodge would operate as a kind of arm to the parent regular lodge. It conferred four degrees consisting of; Apprentice, Companion, Mistress and Perfect Mistress. An interesting side note is that their degrees carry much of the flavor of our original 3rd degree, not the Hiramic legend, but that of the Noachite legend. If you're unfamiliar of the original 3rd degree, I can tell you it's all about Noah and his sons. It's pretty cool. I digress.

A Master Mason of the regular lodge had to be present for the body to operate, however the man could not hold the presiding office, rather that was the duty of the Grand Mistress. Much more can be read on the topic and I invite you do just that. You can click HERE to open a PDF copy of the Lexicon. Once open simply search the PDF for "Adoptive Masonry" and read the 5 page entry.

So did the OES come out of the French Rite of Adoption? Did OES pull its requirements from this system? Leave a note below and lets talk!

~RHJ

RWB, Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Waukegan Lodge No. 78 where he is a Past Master. He also serves as the District Deputy for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry and is also an avid home brewer. He is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.

A Fine Paradox: Christianity and Freemasonry - Revisit

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Steven L. Harrison, 33˚, FMLR

Editors Note: This one came out way before Illustrious Bro. Harrison was a regular contributor here at the Midnight Freemasons. It was published back in April of 2012. In fact, you may have even heard this on the "Whence Came You?" Podcast. I think this piece will still speak to many. I think Bro Harrison hits on some very poignant ideas. Read on, you won't be sorry. 

Masonic altar with three books of faith
I am a Christian. It's none of your business, mind you, but it probably is pertinent to any slant I might put on what I'm about to say.  And apparently, the jury is still out on my belief system anyway. Why? Well, I've been personally told, "You're not really a Christian because you're a __________ (insert any Christian denomination which is not your own)." And we've all heard this one: "You can't be a Christian because you're a Freemason." 

I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank anyone who has ever told me those things for clarifying to me what I think and believe.  There was a time in my life when I thought that was between God and me, but I'm so grateful you have set me straight.  Sarcasm aside, some Christians, it seems, want me to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ but get really upset when I keep it personal.

Having said all that, let me drop the bombshell: Freemasonry is not a Christian organization. When the cries of "heathen" die down in response to that I'll continue to say there are many reading this who would think, "Well, that's so obvious I don't even know why he would say it." The rest of you are probably the ones shouting "heathen."

What a fine paradox. Some think we can't be Christians if we are Freemasons and some think Freemasonry should promote Christianity.

Without dropping some dry statistics, let me just acknowledge I live in an area which is predominately Christian. Many even include it in the so-called "Bible Belt." So being a part of an organization that requires a belief in God and living where I do, it's not much of a surprise to see many of my Brothers emphasize the Christian influences in our fraternity; not just in our ritual, but also in our activities. How many times have you been to a Lodge dinner when someone wraps up a prayer "in the name of Christ?" This happens so often in my area that a couple of years ago two former Grand Masters (one a minister in a Christian denomination, one Jewish) along with an eminent RWB asked me to reprint a Masonic Service Association "Short Talk" article about its inappropriateness. The gist of the article was, "Stop praying Christian prayers in our Lodges... it embarrasses and perhaps even humiliates our Brethren of other faiths."

Another  piece from the Masonic Service Association of North America puts it concisely: "Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. It requires of its members a belief in God as part of the obligation of every responsible adult, but advocates no sectarian faith or practice. Masonic ceremonies include prayers, both traditional and extempore, to reaffirm each individual's dependence on God and to seek divine guidance. Freemasonry is open to men of any faith, but religion may not be discussed at Masonic meetings."

The same, I might add, is true for the publications I edit: No discussion or promotion of religion.  And if you're sitting there thinking, "He just said we shouldn't talk about religion but wrote a whole column about it," respectfully, you missed the point... that point being Freemasonry certainly includes Christianity, but it is an ecumenical group.  Those among us who have a hard time with that should heed this observation from one of our most famous Brothers, especially when sitting in Lodge:

 "So much blood has been shed by the Church because of an omission from the Gospel: 'Ye shall be indifferent as to what your neighbor's religion is.'  Not merely tolerant of it, but indifferent to it. Divinity is claimed for many religions; but no religion is great enough or divine enough to add that new law to its code." 

 ~Samuel Clemens 

 ~S.H.




Bro. Steve Harrison, 33° is Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is the editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine, author of the book Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research and also its Worshipful Master. He is a dual member of Kearney Lodge #311, St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite, Moila Shrine and a member and Past Dean of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. Brother Harrison is a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasons blog as well as several other Masonic publications. His latest book, Freemasons: Tales From the Craft & Freemasons at Oak Island. Both are available on amazon.com.

The 50 Year Member: The West Gate

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM


The 50 year member was getting excited. Today was going to be a monumental day in his life. (Well, okay, not like the day he got married or the birth of his children, but still life changing). Today was the day he was going to purchase his first smart phone. Not just a flip phone like most of the guys in the lodge have but a real, up to date smart phone!

For years, the old man had resisted becoming like everyone else, walking around with a phone stuck in their ear, unaware of their surroundings. It had seemed silly to him; why couldn’t a call wait until you got home? If it was that important just drop a dime into a payphone and call them!

Then the 50 year member had started looking around as he was out in the world. The pay phones were gone! He realized it had been a long time since he carried a dime or any other form of currency, just money on a plastic card he carry in his wallet. He also watched Pudge, and his ability to answer any question or perform a multitude of tasks just by looking at the phone he carried in his pocket! After noticing this, the 50 year member decided having a cellphone could be a benefit and not just an “electronic leash” as he used to think of it.

This was a day for firsts. Not only was he going to buy a mobile phone he was going to try his first “fancy coffee”! The old man had been drinking coffee all his life. Black, no sugar. His father had always said “If you are going to drink coffee, you better learn to drink it black. There will be places you go that won’t have cream and sugar.” Dad had learned that in the army during the war. The 50 year member hadn’t ever encountered issues like that, but he guessed his dad was right.

The 50 year member was standing in the coffee shop staring at the menu board trying to decide what kind of coffee to try. There were so many choices! Most of them he couldn’t pronounce let alone figure out what was in them. You couldn’t even ask for a large! "What is a venti?"

As he is trying to decipher what to try, Pudge walks in and slaps him on the back. “You order yet?”, Pudge asked. “Are you kidding?” The 50 year member said with laughter in his voice. “People talk about Masons and their secret codes! I think I am going to need a translator just to order .” Pudge laughed and volunteered to pick a coffee for him if he would grab a table for them. The old man gratefully agreed.

As they sat down and waited for their coffees to cool, the two started discussing which phone would be the best for him. Pudge said “I have been dealing with this salesman for a while. I have been thinking about talking to him about our lodge and see if he would be interesting in joining. He seems like a decent guy.”

The old man was staring at his coffee cup. “What is in this? It’s so hot I can’t taste it! I hope I don't scald my tongue! I never had a coffee with whipped cream. Is this coffee or dessert?” He asked aloud while trying to blow into the cup to cool it down. “I don’t understand the chocolate sprinkles on top.”

Pudge was laughing. “Did you even hear what I said?” The old man said “I understand why they put the little cardboard sleeve around the cup now. I have never seen coffee this hot before!” Pudge was laughing “John, are you still here?” The old man looked up and said “Sorry, maybe it’s all the caffeine. I did hear you. Do you know this fella outside of his job?” “No” Pudge said “But I know we need members. The representative from the Grand Lodge who visited us recently said so, and this guy seems ok, so I thought it was a good idea.”

“He might be a wonderful person” The old man said “He might make the perfect Mason, but you can’t tell about a man’s character just by a few interactions. You know he will be friendly and a perfect gentleman while he is at work - his job depends on it. You need to get to know the man. Find out what he is like when he is out in the world. Maybe after a while, say after a few months, if you deem him to be worthy, bring up the subject. If he seems interested, maybe give him one of those pamphlets we produce.”

The old man blew on his coffee again, hoping it was finally cool enough to drink. “We don’t need more men. We have plenty of them on the books now. Members go through the degrees and then never return. Instead of just running men through the lodge room like cattle at an auction, collecting initiation fees, just to see them walk back out the door with a new apron and a Dues card in their hands, never to hear from them again until we hear their name read in lodge for suspension of non payment of dues, we need to figure out why they don't come back and keep them interested in coming back every week.”

The old man lowered his head and began to stir his coffee with the little green stick the barista gave him “The fellas who wear the gold collars can't seem to understand this. They just keep hoping if we keep adding names to the books, some of them will stay. I guess in a way they were right; I stayed and Pudge you stayed, but how neat would it be if the majority we brought in would hang around?” Pudge sitting in deep thought, unfurrowed his brow. “I know you are right. We stayed and kept coming. I think fellas like you and I need to keep working on our lodge, and maybe we can figure out ways that may encourage other new guys to return to lodge or newly obligated Brothers to continue coming back.”

“Exactly!” The 50 year member stated as he took the top off his coffee cup. “Maybe I'd I take the top off this thing it will cool off. It's like mixing strong coffee with ice cream. It's weird but I think I could get addicted to this.” the old man said. Pudge laughed.

The old man continued “Masonry is kinda like this coffee shop. They have to make coffee that people will like. If they don't, it won't be long and they will be out of business. If they just serve strong black coffee that the old men drink and tell customers "We know this is really what you want and we have served it that way since 1945", folks might buy one cup to try it, but they'd never come back. We need to start giving young men the ingredients they want in their coffee so they will keep coming back and getting their coffee from us!”

“You’ve got a point John” Pudge said “Businesses have to keep up with the times to keep customers coming in. We have to give the people what they want without ruining the original product. Just like this coffee shop.”

The 50 year member had a big grin on his face as he jumped up from his chair “Well! I think we solved that problem! I say we get out of here and look at these phones! It might be the caffeine talking but I have had this much energy in years!” the old timer said with a laugh in his voice “I feel like I could run to the phone store! Say, I think after we buy this phone we should stop at a kitchen supply store and buy one of these fancy coffee machines for the lodge! Just imagine if we give a cup or two of this stuff to the Past Masters before we open lodge; they might actually stay awake for degree work!”

Pudge got up from his chair laughing “Maybe. Or maybe I can get you home and get your new phone  charging so it will be fully charged when you wake up from your nap after this caffeine buzz wears off and you crash.”

~BH

WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.

Back In Action: The Illinois Lodge Of Research

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

Illinois Lodge of Research Spring Symposium, May 6, 2017, Normal Masonic Lodge No. 673, Illinois
Every once in awhile, I see Freemasonry heading in the right direction with a perfect clarity of purpose.  Saturday, May 6th was one of those days.  The Illinois Lodge of Research, which has for the most part been dormant for a very long time, is coming back out into the education realm again under the leadership of their new Master (and my friend) Jim Tome.  Jim has been at the forefront of a few efforts to make Masonic education a priority for our members.  He's also the current MEGHP of Illinois, and has been instrumental in helping us establish our research and education based Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter--along with several state-wide efforts including improvements to the Royal Arch publications.

Midnight Freemasons Regular and Guest Contributors: L to R Robert Johnson, Michael Overturf, Jason West, Todd E. Creason, Greg Knott (missing but also in attendance was Scott Dueball)
ILOR had a symposium in Bloomington, Illinois, and I was invited to give the keynote address.  There were a number of terrific presenters, including Midnight Freemasons Greg Knott and Robert Johnson.  So far as I know, that's the first time three original Midnight Freemasons contributors have been presenters at the same event--and we had three additional Midnight Freemasons guest contributors in attendance as well!  All the speakers were fantastic, including a fantastic writer and comedian (and Freemason) Bull Garlington, who I hope will begin writing some pieces for the Midnight Freemasons soon.   There was also Joe Malatia who gave an excellent talk, and event organizer Scott Dueball who lead the panel, and herded the cats.  The event was remarkably well attended . . . that's a good sign that in our part of the world, our Freemasons are wanting more from their Lodge experience.
Event organizer Scott Dueball (also a guest contributor of the Midnight Freemasons)
As I said during my part of the program, the problem Freemasonry has with providing education in our Lodges, is that in many places it has been so long since education was a part of the lodge culture, there just aren't the members there with the knowledge necessary to do it.  I also pointed out that for the first time in a couple generations, our younger members are seeking us out for the purpose of learning about the principles of Freemasonry--not so much because they're looking for a social club.  The purpose of the symposium was to get a group of Masons together who were interested in learning how to research, and how to write, and how to present.  To begin putting together the next generation of scholars.  And I think it was obvious that the interest in doing just that is there.

We've got a long way to go, but it's wonderful to see the Illinois Lodge of Research back to taking a leadership role again.

~Todd E. Creason

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and is a regular contributor.  He is the award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog.  He is the Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754.  He is a Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research. (FMLR) and a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D.  You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org