Freemasonry: It’s What’s for Dinner

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM

I’m sure you're thinking by the title of this piece I am going to give you a great recipe for Salisbury Steak or a way to spice up green beans for your next lodge meeting. Nope! But it would make a great article (For Pinterest maybe, but not for this website.)

Recently I have begun to realize some dishes we eat every day will look and taste different, even though the dishes all have the same name. Take chili for instance.

If you order a bowl of chili in Texas, you will get a spicy red bowl of soup filled with chunks of beef like brisket, onions, beer without beans. Garnishes include sour cream, cheese or Fritos corn chips.

In the Midwest the soup will have lots of beans, sometimes several different types, ground beef and under normal circumstances, the midwestern dish will be less spicy than its Texas Cousin. It is usually served with saltine crackers.

Cincinnati chili is a totally different animal. Chili lovers in the Queen City cook their chili with a small amount of chocolate.The dish is also served in different “ways”. Two-way: spaghetti topped with chili, Three-way: spaghetti, chili, and cheese, Four-way: spaghetti, chili, cheese, and onions., Four-way bean: spaghetti, chili, cheese, and beans (beans substituted for the onions), Five-way: spaghetti, chili, cheese, onions, and beans.

There are other types dishes some people would call chili including a vegetarian dish and a white soup with white navy beans and contains chicken as it’s protein. In my opinion, these aren’t chili and in my opinion are clandestine and won’t be discussed here.

I also believe what you consider chili and your preferences for this dish comes from the part of the country (or world) from which you hail from. The spices which your pallet craves, can be a fun and educational event to attend, like a chili cook off where you can taste all of these versions of chili or even more varieties. Many times these competitions will display a cooks culinary capabilities (Or lack of capabilities in some cases). In my opinion, Freemasonry is much the same way.

As we all know here in the United States there is no general grand lodge. This leaves each state, or jurisdiction, to set up Freemasonry the way they feel it should be. Much like a chili recipe, each of these grand lodges started out their organization with a few similar ingredients and over the years while the dish was cooking they began to add or subtract ingredients which fit their tastes better until they had a dish which suited their pallet.

These recipes can endure for many generations, with the occasional addition or subtraction of an ingredient to satisfy a particular persons flavor profile.

Sadly some timeless recipes can be changed to the point in which the people who would be served the dish might find it inedible. Many times in the pursuit of profit, a business (Or even worse some lodges I’ve seen) will replace quality ingredients with less expensive items, maybe add “fillers” to stretch the recipe which brings the cost of servings lower, thereby expanding their profits. Or maybe, even leaving some ingredients out altogether to cheapen the costs and Maximize their profits. Most of the time the chili will begin to taste terrible and the customers will quit coming in, and the only way the business will survive is having to continually bring in new customers who haven’t tried their terrible food before. Eventually, the business will run out of new customers or word of mouth will keep others from trying the restaurants’ food. Sadly the the owner’s shortsighted practices will resort in the doors of the restaurant to close forever.

In the last few decades, In my opinion many Grand Lodges (Or local lodges) have began to change their original recipes, replacing Freemasonry’s quality ingredients like a quality Masonic experience, Masonic education, and Brotherly love with the cheaper ingredients like long boring meetings, arguing over bills and baloney sandwiches served with room temperature Kool-Aide.

Much like the chili, the cheapening of the recipe for a successful Masonic lodge, the removing of the quality will cause the lodge members to stop coming and the lodge will have to rely and a constant flow of new members joining to keep the lodge going until eventually, the flow of new members will dry up, and like the restaurant the doors of the lodge will close.

Brethren as much as people want to eat quality food they also want a quality lodge experience. Much like a restaurant wants return customers, Masonic lodges want their members to return to the lodge and be active. Over the last half century, we have established that long boring meetings, substandard ritual and constantly being shanghaied to work in fundraising activities isn’t working. If we want to be successful we must return to our original recipe.

Now if I can come up with a way to compare store bought canned chili to one day classes….


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.

The West Gate Dilemma

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

I have recently encountered a situation within Freemasonry that I had hoped that I would never encounter. I have always been steadfast with my belief that we need to Guard the West Gate. That there are certain men that lack the character to become Freemasons. While my view might be thought of as elitist, I still think that I need to protect the fraternity. This being said, let me discuss my situation.

One of the lodges I belong to read the petition of a man who had committed a felony when he was a young adult. The petition was read and I was the only vote in dissent of accepting it. The man who is the top signer is someone in Freemasonry that I admire. I trust his judgement, but yet I still feel obligated to guard the west gate.

Another brother that I respect and admire also told a story. It was about a brother who as a young man had too much to drink. He passed out in the backseat of a car. His two mates decided that it would be a good idea to take said car, with said brother in the back seat, to steal tools. They were caught and all three of them were booked. Luckily, the brother having no knowledge of the crime and not participating in it did not get in trouble. He went on to be a Past Master and a 33rd Degree Freemason in the Scottish Rite. It could have been a different story. His point was that youthful indiscretions should be forgiven.

We’ve all made mistakes right? Let those among you without sin cast the first stone! Where do I draw the line? I just can’t shake the feeling that I need to do what is right for the Fraternity. I don’t want to judge a book by its cover, however I also don’t want to make a decision that I’ll regret. You see my brethren, if we are so desperate for men to join our ranks that we will consider accepting felons, then I feel like we need to close the doors.

We have a real problem in Freemasonry currently. It’s a crisis of identity. An identity crisis is a period of uncertainty and confusion during which a person’s sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society. Applied to Freemasonry, we can’t decide what we want to be. Do we want to accept every petition that comes to our lodges just because we have an issue with membership? We need to make a choice. We need to decide what we want to be. Do we want to be an average fraternal organization or do we want something better for ourselves?

I want to have men that want to be Freemasons, but I also want to have men that I can look at proudly as being a member of the Fraternity. We as an organization are who we let into our fraternity. Not every man should be able to be a Freemason just because they pay their degree fees and fill out an application. I have, in my time, voted for members that later became habitually derelict on paying their dues. Those that never show up for lodge, and that we chase year after year for dues, don’t really belong in our organization do they?

We need to do better. If we allow the election of members that have committed a felony, then why do we kick those out that have committed felonies during the course of their membership? In my mind, they are one in the same. I’d go one step further, I’d ask for automatic suspension of any member that has a pending felony charge, along with a communication from Grand Lodge regarding said Felony. What would happen if we had someone that committed a Felony as a member of our Fraternity, but they took a plea deal that lessened their charge to a Misdemeanor? Don’t you feel like you would benefit from having this transparency? I would have a hard time being a member of an organization that put forth an aura of wanting only good men, to find out that we might have skeletons hiding in our closet.

So, I’m still left with my crisis of conscience. On the one hand, if I were in a similar situation, wouldn’t I want a second chance? On the other, I need to guard the west gate. The candidate in question is joining us for our pre-lodge dinner before we vote next meeting. So I’ve decided that I’m going to ask him a question. It’s really simple really. Why does he want to join our Fraternity? It’s a question that I have asked every candidate that I have been able to interview. Based upon what the answer is, then I’ll make my decision. So far a candidate has never convinced me not to vote for them. This is the first time that the answer will determine if I vote for them. I hope it’s the right answer.


WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. When he’s not busy enjoying Masonic fellowship, Darin spends his time as a DM for his children’s D&D campaign, reading, golfing, watching movies and listening to music. You can reach him by email at

Perfect Ashlars And Broken Sidewalks

 by Midnight Freemasons Guest Contributor
Bro. Gregory Dustin Farris

The bicycle path that I use on my way to 9:00 am class is of a peculiar design. In order to preserve the existing trees, the engineers designed two parallel, narrow walks, allowing for the trees to remain in the middle, rather than one wider path that allows for traffic to flow in both directions. One rainy morning, my path was blocked by flooding that had overcome the entire westbound lane. Eager to get out of the rain and be punctual to class, I steered my bike across the grass median, into the eastbound lane. Immediately, I was stopped by the pavement, which had become uneven, separating in large chunks as the force of gravity had conformed the pavement to the earth. Passible only in the proper eastward travel, I gave up on this path and walked my bike out and around the water.

As I pushed my bike, I kept hearing in my head the words of a Brother Master Mason who helped guide my early steps in the fraternity. “Masonry isn’t walking cornrows, and you’re trying to walk cornrows. Slow down,” he would say when I would attend the occasional workers club. This advice seemed to extend to the aspects of Masonry outside of the lodge, in the opinion of this man. When I was eager to get involved in an array of appendant bodies well before I had properly examined the Blue Lodge, I was met with the same caution against “walking cornrows.” This proved to be sound advice, as I found myself overwhelmed and in penalty of suspension for non-payment of dues. Nearly twenty years later, I am finally comfortable with tiptoeing into York Rite.

On that bike ride in the rain, I had the fortune of being slowed down enough by those puddles that I realized I had been walking cornrows and nearly missed an important Masonic lesson the world was offering. That piece of pavement was whole and straight when it was placed upon that stretch of earth. As the grade of the ground and the action of the bicycles pressed and pushed, the needs of the earth were realized by the pavement. This, in my opinion, is an amazing expression of a Rough Ashlar becoming the Perfect Ashlar.

Seeing the manner in which that bicycle path found the true purpose it was to serve in the whole of its existence inspired me to further consider the Ashlars. Just as a stone gathered from a quarry, rough and imperfect might be polished and worked to the specifications of the Master so as to fit the purpose an entire building, we Freemasons, have taken the quest of polishing and perfecting ourselves as stones to fit the specifications The Grand Architect has designed for this building called earth.

Each of us as Masons have our own missions. No matter the design of that mission, it certainly involves becoming a better person and being able to better help others. If we would each take the time to hear the words of my friend and Brother, Dr. William E. Alwerdt, and, “Stop walking cornrows,” we might all find, daily, ways to remove the rough and superfluous parts of ourselves and soon become a Perfect Ashlar like that bicycle path that slowed my day into reflection.

Each moment of a person’s life can operate as a learning opportunity. I have attended lodge under a Worshipful Master who makes the challenge to his lodge, immediately before closing, “If you have the chance to do something nice for someone, go ahead and do it.” Sending us Masons into the world with this instruction serves the purpose of better hueing the part of our personal stone that derives its strength from charity. There are opportunities to apply this thinking to all aspects of life. In any situation, a person can ponder how they might best be fit to serve that situation. How can you become the Perfect Ashlar in your home, workplace, marriage, church and community? The lodge that is our world under the watchful governance of the Supreme Architect tends to give clues to answering these questions if we slow down and apply masonic concepts to our perceptions.

Masonry does not have to stop when the lights turn of and the gavel sounds. Masons walk around in the same world as everyone else. The difference is, we have been taught how to view it. We all, as Masons, have an idea of our mission. Mine is to make the world a living lodge. I challenge you to define yours.


Brother Gregory Dustin Farris is a member of and was raised in George A. Sentel Lodge #764 in Sullivan, Illinois. He is a plural member and active attender at Urbana Lodge #157. He is a husband and dachshund enthusiast with the mission of opening a Masonic club for pet owners. He can be reached at

Freemason Roadtrip: Fort McHenry

by Midnight Freemason Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

"And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?"

~Francis Scott Key

We all know the story.  On the morning of September 13, 1814, British warship began a brutal bombardment Fort McHenry--a bombardment that lasted 25 hours.  However, the following morning, September 14th, it was obvious that the Fort had withstood the constant bombardment of cannon fire and rockets.  The message was clear.  The small storm flag which measured 17 x 25 feet, had been replaced with the garrison flag that Major George Armistead had ordered when he took over Fort McHenry.  He described the flag he wanted made as "a flag so large that the British would have no difficulty seeing it from a distance."  That flag measured 30 x 42 feet.  When the British saw that flag the next morning, it signaled to them that the Americans had won.  Francis Scott Key having witness that bombardment and the Star Spangled Banner waving proudly that morning wrote a poem called "The Defence of Fort M'Henry."  The words of that poem would later become the National Anthem.  The British withdrew, and Baltimore Harbor was safe.

I visited Fort McHenry a couple years ago.  Three Masons from Illinois decided to go on a road trip to Washington D.C.--Greg Knott, Denver Phelps, and myself.  We stopped a few places along the way.  Gettysburg and Fort McHenry were two stops we made.  I've visited old forts before, and generally, there isn't a lot to see other than brickwork.  Fort McHenry did have a huge place in American history, so I was pleased to have a chance to see it.  And it was a beautiful June day--clear blue sky, and a nice cool breeze.

They had a very nice visitor's center at Fort McHenry.  The fort is some distance away up the hill from it.  We went through the museum and took in all the exhibits.  Just about the time we were getting ready to leave they started a video presentation.  We decided to stay and watch it.  It was a description of the 1814 bombardment of Fort McHenry.  It was very well done, and made us all feel very patriotic and very anxious to go up and see the fort.  As the presentation ended, the National Anthem began to play--of course all the veterans stood up.  Suddenly, the entire wall that the movie was being shown on began to open up, and behind it was a huge picture window.  And up the hill in the distance stood Fort McHenry, with its enormous Star Spangled Banner waving over it.

That may have been one of the most remarkable things I've ever seen--it couldn't have been any better choreographed.  It's one of those things that makes the hairs stand up on the back of your arms, and puts a lump in your throat.  I've seen a lot of America, and visited many famous places, however, I'm unlikely to ever forget the first time I saw Fort McHenry.  I saw it much the same way Francis Scott Key had back in 1814.  I believe that was the entire point of that presentation--to show visitors Fort McHenry for the first time as Francis Scott Key had seen it as the daylight dawned on September 14th, 1814.

If you're in the Baltimore area, don't miss it. 


 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 No. 282.  You can contact him at: