From The Archives: The Real Strength Of Freemasonry

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

I've said it many times before.  I was telling somebody the other night that I think one of the great strengths of Freemasonry is that a.) it gives us the opportunity to use skills we wouldn't normally have the opportunity to use, b.) develop skills we wouldn't normally use, c.) use skills we already possess to greater effect, and d.) have the opportunity to improve ourselves as we work together towards making the world a better place.

I went into Freemasonry with well honed skills in leadership, management and organization which I use in a variety of ways.   From Masonry I've gained skills in writing, researching, speaking, networking, and fundraising--as well as some refinements in how I conduct myself and present myself (it should be obvious I've got a lot more work to do there).  And I've been given the opportunity to build on a use some of the skills I have in art in music.

But I never really appreciated the self-improvement aspect of the Fraternity until recently.  I'm aware that I've changed over the years, and gained a lot of wisdom from my mentors and teachers along with a good deal of knowledge from my studies.  I've always worked to pass that along to new members, and I think I've done a pretty good job as a mentor and teacher.  But recently I saw an example that really showed me the potential of what Freemasonry is capable of accomplishing in a man's life when properly applied.

I've been mentoring a young man for about a year now.  He contacted me through the Midnight Freemasons with some questions about the Fraternity, thought it sounded like something he could benefit from, and he's now a  new Master Mason.  He's very enthusiastic about Freemasonry, and it occurred to me in talking with him why.  This is the first time in his life that he's been able to see what he has to offer, see the potential of what he can become, and see what the contributions of just one person can do to make one thing better in the world--and then compound that by joining forces with a group of like-minded men all with that same desire.

The Fraternity has opened his eyes, and there's a good chance he'll never be the same again.  His life was off track when he joined--our original conversations were about whether a Lodge would even want him.  Of course they did, and he joined.  Freemasonry helped put him back on the right track.  He's contributing to the work of his Lodge, he's helping out in his community, he's got a new job he loves, replaced a few bad habits with a few good ones, and is in a new relationship that's much better than the one that got him off track.  He's even begun attending church, which he hadn't done since he was a boy.  He's transformed his life, and it's truly been a marvel to see. 

I might get boos for this, but it isn't all about doing Freemasonry--attending events, degrees, meetings, etc.  It's about living Freemasonry, and when given the opportunity teaching Freemasonry.  Those of us who do, who take those ancient teachings and apply them to our life and help others do the same thing find the greatest strength of Freemasonry--the path to a well-balanced, peaceful and happy life.

This piece was original posted on Todd E. Creason's From Labor To Refreshment blog and originally appeared on the Midnight Freemasons 8/19/16.


Todd E. Creason, 33°, FMLR 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, where is currently serves as Secretary.  He is the 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.  He  currently serves as Excellent Grand Orator of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the State of Illinois.  You can contact him at:

Historic Nauvoo

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

Nauvoo Illinois Temple
Fellow Midnight Freemason Darin Lahners and I were looking for a road trip after the morning session of the 180thAnnual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Illinois. We decided to head to Nauvoo, Illinois, which is located on the Mississippi River on the far western side of Illinois.

The area was settled in the in 1820’s when the first whites moved in and originally the town was known as Quashquema, named after a Native American chief. The town was later renamed Venus, then Commerce and finally in 1840 acquired the present-day name of Nauvoo.

Nauvoo is famous for being the home of Joseph Smith, who was the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormons. The Mormons were persecuted by non-Mormons and eventually decided to leave and head west to Utah. You can read more of the history of Mormonism on this PBS website

Today Nauvoo is bustling small town. In 1999 plans were announced by the LDS church that they were going to rebuild the Nauvoo Temple as it had been in the 1840’s. Overlooking the Mississippi River, this magnificent structure was finished and dedicated in 2002.

The Mormons operate a recreation of historic Nauvoo down on the lower parts of town. Several buildings have been recreated as they were in the 1840’s and are staffed by Mormon missionaries and are dressed in vintage clothing of the era.

Recreated - Nauvoo Masonic Temple
Darin and I didn’t have a lot of time to visit so we went right away to the Nauvoo Masonic Lodge.Recreated as an exact replica of the original lodge building, we able to go in and visit with some very nice ladies who were extremely knowledgeable of the building’s history. The original lodge was located on the third floor of the building and we traversed up three flights of stairs to see the lodge hall. It was fun to think about what Freemasonry would have been like on the western frontier of Illinois during that time.

Our next stop was to the home and shop of Jonathan Browning. If you have ever heard of the Browning shotguns or rifles, they got their start right there in Nauvoo. A recreation of his shop contained all the working tools of his trade. Several vintage firearms are on display. Browning went west to Utah when the Mormons left Nauvoo.

I am aware of the alleged similarities between our Masonic ritual and the Mormon practices. Joseph Smith the LDS founder was a Freemason. This short video, produced by the LDS Church talks about the role of Joseph Smith and Freemasonry.

The historical connections of our fraternity to the world around us seem to be endless. I enjoy learning this history and about those who came before us.


WB Gregory J. Knott is the Worshipful Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 in Ogden (IL) and a plural member of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC.

King Solomon’s Pass: A Digital Addition to Your Dues Card

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson

It’s no secret that the Craft often moves slowly. “No innovation in Freemasonry!” is our standard platitude for those less "forward-thinking", and as an organization led by representative, deliberative bodies loosely organized in a decentralized network of mutual recognition, even truly great ideas take a long time to become generally accepted. So long, sometimes, that they die on the vine. This is a shame.

A closer look at the history of Freemasonry, however, shows innovation at nearly every turn. The core principles of the Craft have remained stable while trestleboards gave way to paper newsletters and then to email updates. Candles became oil lights, and Lodges are now lit with electricity. Even our ritual--still best learned mouth to ear--has long been committed to paper and is quickly moving to secure digital formats. In Illinois, our Constitution and Bylaws restrict us from using a "Stereopticon", meanwhile digital projectors are all the rage.

One of the most recent tools to be updated is the good old membership card. Originally conceived at a Grand Lodge Convention in the 1840s, dues cards were a response to the proliferation of plain-text ritual books, which enabled cowans to learn all they needed to enter a Lodge. This emergent response morphed to tradition, and many Grand Lodges around the world now require an officially-issued form of identification to prove one’s status as a Mason in Good Standing. And if you travel, you better have some kind of letter from your Grand Secretary too.

In an era before computers, Grand Lodges required as much security for membership cards as could be mustered: a raised seal that was manually applied to each card, signatures and more. The cards were to be issued on a regular basis, often annually... and without the ability to check directly with the issuing Grand Lodge on the arrival of a visitor. Remember, no email, no telephone. The card was effectively imbued with the Brother’s Good Standing status for the term it covered.

Today’s technology offers the opportunity for important updates to this process. Everyone with a smart phone is familiar with creating an account for some service or other, and entering their credentials to verify--in real time--their authority to access that service. Electronic security measures are nearly as old as computers themselves, and have allowed for time savings in almost every process. Imagine... How much less work would you get done if you had to contact Google and show a membership card every time you wanted to access your email? Insane right?

Freemasonry is finally receiving the benefit of this not-so-modern-anymore technology with a new tool created by the team behind Amity, called simply King Solomon’s Pass. The Pass is a digital complement or addition to your dues card, and integrates with the membership systems of nearly fifty Grand Lodges around the world (it covers over 700,000 Masons in the US alone!).

For Grand Lodges this innovation is an important one, because it puts member verification back where it belongs: in the Grand Secretary’s hands. Instead of using a card that acts as the Grand Lodge’s authority for a set term, it lets the Tiler check with the Grand Lodge for the Brother’s status... in real time, every time.

For Freemasons, the Pass is nothing short of a quantum leap forward. It offers a secure, digital profile for any Brother, photo included, that can be used to verify all of the required administrative criteria: "Are you who you say you are?", "Does my Grand Lodge recognize yours?", "Is your Lodge active?", "Are you in Good Standing?", All that’s left is the Tiler’s Investigation, which of course must not be omitted and can never be replaced by an app.

King Solomon’s Pass is available at no cost to any Mason with an account in the Amity app. Over 50,000 Masons across 200+ Grand Lodges are already using the app, and Amity has just completed their live Integration with the MORI membership system (all of the other major systems are already supported).

For Masons in the Grand Lodge of New York, the new dues cards set to be issued in the next few weeks will all carry an Amity QR code. Other Grand Lodges can also get this tech at no cost, allowing their members to share their status in real time with anyone in the world.

It has been said that the only constant... is change. No matter how slowly our Craft moves, it is still ever-changing... perhaps not our Landmarks and goals, but certainly the methods we use to perform our Work. King Solomon’s Pass is a long-overdue addition to the Craft, and allows Masons from any Grand Lodge to better understand how we are all related... which, ultimately, benefits the Craft.

And before I leave you all, I want to say something else, The guys behind Amity have taken your digital security to the top level. Currently NO GRAND LODGE SOFTWARE offers the protections required by law like CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) and the European Standard GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). But guess who does abide by and is compliant? AMITY and King Solomons Pass Does/is. This is truly awesome technology that is digitally safer than even MORI or Grandview or any other database out there in regards to Freemasonry and our data.

You can find out more about King Solomon’s Pass at, or use it directly at


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 Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183 UD. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatrewhich 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. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry" and is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon

From The Midnight Freemasons Archives: The Masonic Conspiracy Behind Rolling Rock Beer

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

"Beer is proof that God loves us, and wants us to be happy."

~Benjamin Franklin

There has always been speculation that there is some connection between Latrobe's Rolling Rock Beer and the Freemasons--I mean, it's obvious, there's a '33' right on the bottle!  And the 33rd degree is the highest degree that can be attained by Freemasons.  Is it possible the Latrobe's were Freemasons?

It's one of those great beer controversies--where did the '33' come from?  Everyone seems to have a theory, and nobody has the definitive answer. 

And there are many theories:

-One common theory is that it was to celebrate the repeal of prohibition in 1933.  That was an important year for brewers and beer drinkers alike!

-Another legend is that the Rolling Rock brewery was started with money won at the horse track. The winning bet was placed on #33, "Old Latrobe," and that is why there is a horse and the '33' on the bottle.

-Another has it that brewers in those early days belonged to the local union #33.

-Another claims the reservoir the brewery got its water from was fed by 33 streams.

And the theories go on and on and on . . .

Sadly, the most likely version is the least exciting.  It may have simply been a printers mistake in the beginning.  This version of the story comes from a very reliable source--the former CEO of the company.  He was also very interested in where that '33' had come from--his name was James Tito.  What he discovered is actually very simple.

The slogan on the back of the bottle read originally:
"Rolling Rock – From the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe, we tender this premium beer for your enjoyment as a tribute to your good taste. It comes from the mountain springs to you."
That's 33 words.  There were a number of different versions of the slogan in the beginning, but the Latrobe family finally settled on the shortest one--the one that ran only 33 words.  Somebody noted that in the margin, and when it went to the printers, the printers didn't realize that the 33 wasn't part of the text and included it. The mistake wasn't discovered until a large batch of bottles had been produced, and back in those days, the labels were painted right onto the bottles, and those bottles were reused, which explains why the mistake wasn't immediately corrected

And just maybe it wasn't corrected later because of the stir it had created when those bottles reached the public.  Everyone talking about and debating what that '33' meant and speculating about where it had come from.  Perhaps Latrobe saw that controversy as a good thing.  Here it is more than seventy years later, and people are still talking about it.  I guess you'd call that 'beer buzz'.

So that's the big Masonic conspiracy behind Rolling Rock Beer.  It doesn't have anything to do with the Freemasons at all.

Not to propagate a myth, but I can tell you, I do have it on good authority that at least one 33rd Degree Freemason enthusiastically approves of the product--he finds it crisp and refreshing with a easy-to-drink flavor. 

In fact, I think I'll go have one now . . . 


I couldn't even guess when I wrote the original version of this piece.  Probably in 2007.  I rewrote it and expanded it after 2011 and again after 2015.  I added the Ben Franklin quote to this version.  Let's just say it's made the rounds over the years.  I like it because it's one of those weird conspiracy theories attributed to the Masons that people like to talk about--like the imagery on the the back of the Grand Seal of the United States that everyone claims is Masonic.  I thought I'd post it again--I saw a discussion on the topic in one of the Masonic social media groups.  They were both wrong as it turns out . . .  Enjoy!

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog, and an award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. Todd started the Midnight Freemason blog in 2006, and in 2012 he opened it up as a contributor blog The Midnight Freemasons (plural). Todd has written more than 1,000 pieces for the blog since it began. He is a Past Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) where he currently serves as Secretary. 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). He is a charter member of the a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 and currently serves as EHP. You can contact him at: