Games in the Lodge

By Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

At a recent estate sale in my hometown, I acquired some items that were from the former St. Joseph Knights of Pythias (KP) lodge. This lodge closed at least 35 years ago and I didn’t know much about it. But in researching local history over the years, I know that many of the prominent citizens in our town were members and that it was quite an active organization.

The items I acquired, were not priceless pieces of KP history, but they were various pieces from some games. A cribbage scoring blank, a couple of dominoes, an inkwell bottle and a shuffle board puck. Similarly, when members of Homer Lodge No. 199 were cleaning out the attic, we found playing cards, poker chips and other games.

Like the items I acquired from the KP lodge, the items we found in the attic have no real monetary value, but do provide a real insight into the activities within the lodge itself from days gone by.

Growing up, we played all kinds of board games, card games including euchre, dominoes, etc. Most of the hours playing, were with my grandparents and others of the World War 2 generation. It was a great way to connect with each other and spend time.

I can imagine the brethren of the KP lodge, Homer Masonic Lodge and countless others across the nation also spent time together playing these games. This of course, was a time before social media and many other distractions that we use to fill time today, in our modern society.

These brethren were growing their brotherhood, by spending time together, without the need of a meeting or ritual. Just an informal setting, probably in the dining room, engaging in fun, and conversation. Doesn’t it sound relaxing?

At a future meeting, I am going to suggest that we have a game night. We can bring our favorite board games, dominoes or just a deck of cards. Invite family and friends. What a great opportunity to introduce a potential new member to the lodge, have an activity with our family, and build the bonds of friendship closer with one another.

Want to play?


WB Gregory J. Knott is the Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign-Urbana. He is also a member of ANSAR Shrine (IL) and the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. Greg serves on the Board of Directors of The Masonic Society and is a member of the Scottish Rite Research Society and The Philathes Society. Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts—an Eagle Scout himself, he is a member of the National Association of Masonic Scouters. You can contact him at

It's Not About Titles and Prestige, It's About Servitude to the Craft

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Dan Gentry

I have a secret. The brothers who have met me may or may not know this. It is a deep, dark secret and you must be patient with me, it is difficult to admit. Brothers...I do not wear Masonic regalia outside of lodge events. There, I said it. Upon my car, you will not see any emblems or symbols, my hands wear but one ring, my wedding ring and it is not Masonic in nature. My shirts are mostly covered in warnings to others to not mess with me or are in support of law enforcement or fire departments. My hat is from the 101st Airborne where I served in the US Army, and my sweaters are usually of my old high school, my daughters high school, or some name brand.

I know that some of you believe that you need to buy me some regalia and make me official, some may want to adorn my car in stickers and emblems. How can I be a Mason and not show others this prestige of which I belong?? But just like titles I have had, I pay this no mind. I do not find I must advertise my relationship to the craft. In fact, in most cases, I believe it to be detrimental. Okay, so why do I tell you this? Why would I forsake the ritual of wearing rings and pins and buying lapel extensions for more pins, hats, shirts and more pins? It is a simple answer: I see no need. Why would I? So people will ask me about the craft and I can be a walking billboard and advertisement? I am an elitist of thought, believing that the only way to further the craft, is to make it harder to join. Make it mandatory to go through degrees slowly and not cater to the whims of an individual to boost numbers. Follow the patterns of the craft these last few years, and you will see we are on a decline in membership and I say, "good." Why? Because I want men who want to help the community, who want to study history and want to understand the esoteric value. Again, I'm an elitist and an idealist. Fewer people and higher dues. More "Brothers" and less of every other title. Less pomp and circumstance and more value and work.

You see, many men climb and claw their way up the ladders, and when they reach the "top", they feel the journey is complete because now they are what they perceive as at the top, and they have the title they deserve. This is appalling to me for one very important reason. I have been taught that each man who goes through the initiation is a Brother and I have been taught that "Brother" is the greatest title that could ever be bestowed upon me. Now I'm being told, "no, you need to have Right Worshipful and a PM after your name to have an opinion or to show your opinion has any worth". Funny part is, I'm hard headed and I am not big on rank, all this does for me is make me never want to move through any lines, serve in any position or take up any office of the lodge and it causes me to have disdain. I have been in chairs, by the way. In fact, I was an "unofficial official Senior Deacon". I was good at what I did, tried to improve every time I did it, got down and dirty with the esoteric values of the work and did my due diligence. You see, I was where the lodge needed me to be, doing what they asked me to do. It's not about titles and prestige, it is about servitude to the craft, and that servitude is diminished when it is overshadowed when a wrong sense of worth is attached to a position of servitude.

Do us all a favor, drop the titles, the hurt looks you display when you are "only" called Brother, roll up your sleeves and get back into the quarry and show the other brothers you lead from the front. The Army taught me that there are men that are actually leading the group, and the other ones are just reminding everyone what their "rank" is because no one wants to follow them. Sorry if this is harsh, but in my opinion, we've put up with it for too long, and it's time for those concerned with titles to move on and let the Brothers do their work.


Brother Daniel "Doc" Gentry is a Brother Master Mason under the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Mason's of the State of Illinois, in the 1st Northeast district. His sign is Leo, and has been known to enjoy long walks in blizzards. He is stubborn and has no plans of joining the York or Scottish Rite anytime soon. Also in his spare time, he is a great DM for D&D games. Sacred Geometery! You can reach him by email at

Another Day, Another Cliché

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, 33°, FMLR

There is a common scenario that, in one form or another, seems to crop up in almost every initiation I've attended. You may recognize it: at the end of the degree the Master gives the attendees a chance to introduce themselves and speak if they wish. Congratulations abound and at some point one of the Brothers will tell the new initiate, "You will get out of Freemasonry what you put into it." Another day, another cliché.

Then there's that other scenario. You meet an old acquaintance whom you know to be a member and he tells you he dropped out, "All they wanted was my money."

Did you ever stop to think those two overworked remarks are related?

Take, for example, our two esteemed Brothers John Doe and Joe Doakes. John and Joe are the same age and, like all of us, have family responsibilities and demanding jobs. Raised on the same evening, their Masonic journeys take two distinct paths.

John dives right in, starts helping out around the Lodge, participates in the social functions and eventually fills in for officers in their absence. He participates in degree work, becomes interested in the ritual and begins reading articles about its meaning. The incoming Master asks him to step into the officers' line and his progression through the chairs begins. He eventually becomes Master, serves on Grand Lodge committees, joins appendant bodies, his Lodge of Research and maybe writes a couple of articles himself.

Joe, on the other hand, attends a few meetings after his raising but loses interest. Every once in a while he comes to a meeting, but doesn't have much to say; he's not involved in any of the Lodge's projects and most of the planning just bores him. He stops going to meetings altogether and loses touch with his Brothers. They, in turn, don't bother to stay in touch with him since he's drifted away. Joe's proud to be a member, thinks Freemasonry does good things but something seems to be missing.

Each year John and Joe receive a couple pieces of mail from their Lodge and maybe a couple more from the Grand Lodge. Face it, most of those letters contain an appeal for funds.

Then one day, years after becoming members, John and Joe receive their annual dues notices. John pays and doesn't think much about it, except maybe that it's a small price to pay for the value he gets from the fraternity. Joe, however, looks at the statement and thinks back to his only contact with the fraternity this year — those appeals for funds; and now it's not an appeal… it's mandatory. He decides it's not worth it and tosses the dues notice in the trash, "All they ever want is my money."

It is true that we as members have an obligation to stay in touch with Brothers who are no longer active and to encourage them to become involved. However, another cliché comes to mind: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

The ultimate responsibility for making this fraternity (or pretty much any other life experience) rewarding lies with each of us individually. When things get boring, do something about it (dare I mention, "when the going gets tough the tough get going?").
In the end both Joe and John are right. Joe was right when he said he only heard from the members if they wanted money. He was also right that something was missing. Unfortunately, what was missing was Joe himself.

John, on the other hand, indeed got out of Freemasonry what he put into it.

Most clichés become clichés because they are, ahem… "tried and true."


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

Day By Day, The Masonic Way: Anger

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Adam Thayer

Of all the emotions that we experience in our daily lives, anger may be one of the most potent. It has the ability to completely consume and overwhelm our rational mind, leaving us a complete slave to its whims. It, along with love, is one of our most God-like emotions; outside of love, the Bible speaks most frequently of God’s anger at His wayward children.

The most dangerous part about anger is that, often, it leads us into irrational, potentially damaging actions that can negatively affect us far into the future. Our peers, seeing our actions, may lose respect for us. We may say words in anger that damage, or even destroy, our relationships. If we’re especially unwise, we may even vent our anger in writing, leaving proof of our inability to control our emotions for all to see.

Brothers, this is an especially difficult topic for me, because I struggle with controlling my anger daily. To me, it has become an almost separate entity; a beast that has taken up residence in my mind and that I have to fight against to maintain the balance in myself. I had such a dread of writing this topic that I have developed an inability to write for the past two months and have had to rely on articles that I banked up for just such an occasion.

The thing about anger is, there really isn’t a good answer to it. If you indulge in it to get past it, you hurt those around you as well as yourself. If you bottle it up, it will eat away at you until you explode in rage. Besides, the whole goal was to control the anger, not suppress it.

In my search for more light about anger, I find myself contemplating two striking (and often overlooked) symbols from our ritual.

The first is the Volume of Sacred Law. Now of course each Mason brings to the table his own Volume, and I cannot begin to tell you what is in yours, however I can tell you the words of King Solomon that are in mine: “Fools give full vent to their rage” (Proverbs 29:11). Solomon was wise enough to recognize the importance of keeping his anger in check, and there is no greater example for a Freemason to inspire to.

The second symbol, which is one I find useful in so many situations, is the compass (or, if you prefer, compasses). The art of circumscription is one that can be applied to so many situations that it is hardly any wonder our ancient brethren chose it (along with the square) to be the most public symbol of our craft. It is a subtle craft; when appropriately applied, it may go unnoticed by the world outside of ourselves.

Taken together, these symbols become even more powerful; we can use the teachings of our Volume of Sacred Law to help us learn how to better circumscribe our anger. Our Volume of Sacred Law teaches us how to appropriately express our anger, and the compass reminds us of how to reign it in.

In theory, all of that is great. In practice, when the blood is boiling, and all I want to do is lash out and make the irritant feel as much torment as possible, it is very difficult to remember that there are boundaries to our actions that we must NEVER suffer our passions to cross. So, here are some practical solutions, in the hopes that you will find them useful, and that I will keep reminding myself of them:

1) Remove yourself from the situation. Odds are, if you stay within the situation, you’ll just make your anger worse, like leaving a pot of water on the stove until it boils over.

2) Think, think, think. What is causing your anger, what are some possible solutions, and most importantly ask yourself what the outcome would be if you really let your anger out like you want.

3) Talk, but do it carefully, and don’t stop thinking. It’s important to release the anger slowly and carefully, and in a non-confrontational manner. While you’re talking, instead of saying “you”, try saying “I”, and be specific. For example, instead of saying “You never do any of the work at the lodge”, try saying “I’m upset that I had to spend an hour cleaning the kitchen alone”. It is much more useful to express yourself in this manner.

4) Exercise. I hate exercise, but since I’ve started back in I’ve dropped weight, put on muscle, and feel much less stress than I used to. It’s important to not neglect the physical temple while we’re refining the mental temple.

5) Forgive. Forgiveness is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal, and can go a long way to healing ourselves and our relationships. If we start with forgiveness, we often find that the anger has resolved itself.

I hope this has helped you. I know that writing it, and just admitting my own issues, definitely has helped me.


WB. Bro. Adam Thayer is the Senior Warden of Lancaster Lodge No. 54 in Lincoln (NE) and a past master of Oliver Lodge No. 38 in Seward (NE). He’s an active member in the Knights of Saint Andrew, and on occasion remembers to visit the Scottish and York Rites as well. He continues to be reappointed to the Grand Lodge of Nebraska Education Committee, and serves with fervency and zeal. He is a sub-host on The Whence Came You podcast, and may be reached at He will not help you get your whites whiter or your brights brighter, but he does enjoy conversing with brothers from around the world!