The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:
Hardly a man is now alive 
Who remembers that famous day and year.

One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



Suddenly the words came back to me more than 35 years after I first heard and read them. They have been familiar to generations of Americans since 1860 when they were penned by American Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Longfellow (1807-1882) was a prominent educator, serving on the faculty of Harvard University and living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

It was Longfellow’s home that I came across, as I walking through a neighborhood in Cambridge that brought his famous words to my memory. Now a National Historic Site, operated by the National Park Service, the home stands as a timeless reminder not only to Longfellow, but also George Washington.

Washington used the house as his Headquarters as he took command of the Continental Army in July 1775. His wife Martha, her son, daughter-in law and several enslaved servants joined him at the house as they converted into a functional residence/HQ. Here Washington would meet with many prominent men of his day such as Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and others, as they consulted with him on the war for independence.

The house was passed through several owners until Longfellow became the owner in 1843, buying it from Elizabeth Craigie. Longfellow had rented a room from Craigie from 1837-1843. He lived in the house until his death in 1882. Longfellow left his position at Harvard University to dedicate his full time efforts to writing and scholarship. It was during this time, in 1860 that he wrote his now infamous poem about Paul Revere.

As I walked about the beautiful grounds of the house, I thought about the courage and conviction of those founding fathers as they fought against tyranny. An army that was ill-equipped, untrained, in-experienced was going against the strongest military force of the time. Paul Revere, a silversmith and Freemason from Boston, whom Longfellow memorialized in this famous poem, was one of these patriots who had taken up the call to action and joined the Continental Army.

I realized I was standing on hallowed ground.

Longfellow closed out his poem about Paul Revere writing:

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm, —
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

~GJK

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.

Living A Life That's Too Small

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

One thing you learn when you petition a Lodge of Freemasons, is that there are a lot of steps involved. The petition is submitted. It sits for a predetermined period of time. It’s voted on. 1st degree. Things to learn. 2nd degree. Things to learn. You get the idea. It’s methodical steps, and each step is intentional. It’s part of the process. Some steps give the lodge time to be intentional with a decision about whether to admit a candidate or not. Some steps are so the candidate learns everything he needs to know to advance to the next level with the knowledge he needs to do so.

When I was in school, video games were huge. It was the 80s, and I spend a great deal of time, and all of my resources (allowance, mowing money, etc.) one quarter at a time. Of course video games are all set up the same way. Hard in the beginning, but it gets easier as you become proficient in the skills required, and once you’ve got the skills mastered for that level, you go on to the next level—and that level is harder and usually requires additional skills. Hour after hour, and quarter after quarter, I’d get to higher and higher levels in the game. And in that era, that meant starting at the beginning very often and going through all the levels you’d already mastered. Those lower levels that challenged me in the beginning, were nothing to get through now. Inevitably however, something would always happen. I’d either reach the final level of the game, or I’d get to the point that the game was no longer challenging me anymore and I’d go looking for a new game to play.

Life is the same way. We always need new challenges to keep it interesting. We need to develop new skills to get to the next level.

That’s what brought me to Freemasonry in the beginning. I was looking for something I didn’t have. I was looking for new experiences. I was looking for new skills. I was looking for ways in which I could improve myself and contribute more to the community than I had been. I was looking for a different way to live my life because I’d been on the same level for too long. And I found everything I was looking for. I got over my fear of public speaking that had held me back for years. I found a voice in writing and have written six books (soon to be seven). I’ve learned leadership skills. I’ve made innumerable friends. And I’ve learned what one person with a good idea is capable of accomplishing—moreover, what one person with an idea and a group of friends willing to help is capable of accomplishing.  As we quickly approach 3 millions readers, The Midnight Freemasons blog is a good example of what my original idea, and a lot of help and hard work (and excellent writing) from my friends can accomplish. Freemasonry has taught me over and over again that like many others, I underestimate the impact and the potential of the individual. We make good men better, and we do that by helping to bring out the hidden talents and abilities of the one.

I don’t think I know a single person that is completely happy with where they’re at—that includes all the Freemasons I know. I think it’s almost universal for us to feel as if we want more out of the few years we live on this earth. But too often, especially when you get to be my age, we get to a level we’re comfortable with, and we stay there. We get the job we wanted. We get the house we wanted. We have the spouse and the kids and the dog and the yard, and we say to ourselves “well, that’s everything I set out to get in life.” And we stay there. And as happy as we may be in that place, part of us misses the challenge of getting there. There’s a part of us that knows there’s still more to be done and still more to be experienced in life.

It really is up to you how far you get . . .
It seems counter-intuitive, but mankind was built to be challenged, to be tested, and to keep growing. Just like in those video games, we have a built in desire to see what’s at the next level. Living a life that’s too small for us inevitable leads to future regret. It’s not the things we’ve done in life that we wind up regretting in the end. It’s the things we didn’t do.

~TEC


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 a Past Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) where he currently serves as Secretary. He is the 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 a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 where he currently serves as EHP. He represents the Grand Lodge of Illinois A.F. & A.M. as the Eastern Area Education Officer. He is also a member of Tuscola Odd Fellows Lodge No. 316. You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Camp Masonry 2018 Recap

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson


"What in the world is Camp Masonry?", you may be asking. Well, I suppose before I tell you how it went, I'll tell you what it is. About three years ago, Bro. Jason Shamy and a group of close Brothers decided to do a camping trip together. Long story short, it's evolved into a huge thing. Two days at one of the largest campgrounds in America, cabins, tents, presenters, home cooked camp meals, fellowship and a few choice vendors. This year I had the opportunity to go and the honor to be a presenter. What I experienced was nothing short of what I can only describe as "a truly unique and definitive Masonic experience."

I arrived on Friday morning before the event took off. We pulled into the large parking lot of Camp Miakonda, the 6th largest camp in America and oldest in Ohio. It's a Boy Scout camp. The history at this camp was inspiring. I loaded my bags onto a cart and climbed aboard. We took a short cruise through a forest, over a bridge to a hollow where there stood a picnic ground, a large hall called "Council Lodge", the Ford Center and several small bunk house cabins.


The Council Lodge building was really nice. It's a round building which we were told used to have a fire pit in the middle and the roof would allow for ventilation. I'm unsure if it can still accommodate this feature, but it was amazing nonetheless. Walking around the camp grounds and familiarizing myself with the surroundings was a small adventure in itself. I soon met up with and made quick friends with Dan Hrinko, author of "The Craft Driven Lodge".  I'll spare you the details of our conversation and instead direct you to his awesome book linked above.

Later on I was able to set up my bunk. An old metal frame bunk with a vinyl pad, a sheet courtesy of Bro. Shamy and my sleeping bag...the one I borrowed from my 8 year-old son. I set out to explore more of the camp sight and meet new brothers. I met Nate, a thirty year-old Army Veteran who's looking to become a pilot. I met Bro. Ken, an educator by trade who had a knack for keeping us focused on the days first real task, a free form exploration of Mackey's Masonic Encyclopedia.

We sat around the park benches, we all had a copy of Mackey's and we arbitraraly flipped through pages until we found something of interest. We took turns reading the excerpts and discussing what we knew. Bro. Ken kept us on track. Before long it was time for the next agenda item, The Demolay Initiation.

I had never seen an initiation quite like it. They had a full slate of officers and lecturers perform the ceremony for six new members. I watched Masonic dads from around the room become very proud. Their sons were either performing the ritual or becoming initiated. It was a sight to see. Dinner followed and it was just a great time to eat and fellowship.

There were some brief remarks made by some Ohio VIPs and then I was up. I gave a presentation on Esoterics 101, what I refer to as part one of the Quantum series lectures. After this, it was 9:30 at night and it was time for the Mark Master degree. We began the walk down the trail through the dark forest, buzzing with nightlife noises. Frogs and bugs of all sorts provided the backdrop for a walk lit only by torches. The degree was put on in the "Fort", an enclosure with an open roof. The trees were all lit up red. Bro. Dave Bacon was one of three Brothers to become Companions. Full costumes and they had the A-Squad for the degree work.


The night wasn't over. We made our way back up the trail to camp where Bro. Albert H. McLelland provided us with an exclusive screening of Terra Masonica. If Albert sounds familiar, he is the creator and founder of MATSOL. After the movie, I headed off to bed, it was well after 1:00am.

Waking up at 7:30am and headed to the Council Lodge for a nice breakfast and to start out the days events. We once more made our way down to the Fort for the exemplification of the first section of the Master Mason degree. It was hot out. I had my black Camp Masonry shirt on and I had forgot my sunglasses in my bunk. A remarkable experience in any case. Next up, Lunch followed by a wonderful presentation by Bro. Jason Bryce.

Jason spoke about the varied symbolism within the letter G in our Craft lodges. He went into some deeper aspects of our spiritual work as Masons. I highly enjoyed his talk and found it edifying. Dan Hrinko, whom I had met the day before was the next presenter. We gathered outside and sat around picnik tables while he talked about Masonic experience and how to make it better. He outlined much of what his lodge, "Arts and Sciences" does and detailed it's success.

Next up was Dave Bacon who had quite the crowd. He spoke on how our individual experiences shape how we see symbols. He dove into the science of our brains, how we interpret things and as any good presenter will do, he made us all a little uncomfortable, a necessary part if we're to grow.

Bill Carter from the Grand Lodge of Ohio was the next to speak. He spoke at length about cellular technology, the ramifications for using it constantly, and how to counteract those consequences through fraternal means. It was my turn to present again, this time I spoke on the Tetragrammaton, or the ineffable name of God.

The Festive Board was the next thing on the agenda. Bro. Hrinko lead the evening with songs and toasts. The last speaker for the Festive Board was the Grand Master of Masons of Ohio, Eric R. Schau. WB Schau talked about his experience at the 300 event in UGLE. It was a great conversation.

After the Festive Board wrapped up it was time to take the "road to Eleusis", that trail lit only by torches once more, to the second section of the Master Mason degree. Arriving at the Fort again, this time in procession, and the trees were now lit by blue lights. It was a sight to behold. What followed, you can guess. Top-notch degree exemplification and a changed man.

On the road back to camp many of us said our goodbyes and went to bed. I awoke the next morning, packed up and flew home. Writing this, I cannot help but reminise on the new friendships, experiences and feeling I had over the weekend. I certainly hope anyone reading this will consider coming next year. There are few national Masonic events that are noteworthy. Most are filled with expensive dinners, endless introductions and programming aimed at raising charity funds. Those events are fine, but are not truly Masonic.

This was a Masonic event in every impart of the word. Education and Fellowship. No administrative tasks, no whining, no pomp just conversations which offered solutions. It was refreshing. Thanks to all who put on the event and to all my new friends. Until next year, Brothers!

~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 is also a Past 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 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.

Impact of War – Part 3

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott



Part 3 of a series of the Impact of War on the Grand Lodge of Illinois and Freemasonry. Part one is here and part 2 is here.

Illinois had long been a destination for those immigrating from Germany. Many of my own ancestors had come to Illinois looking for opportunities in farming, commerce and industry. They brought with them their German languages and culture. By 1850 35.9%of foreign born Illinois residents were from Germany.

So, it was only natural that as freemasonry grew, lodges were forming with the work done in the native language of the membership. By 1918 according to the Proceedings of the MW Grand Lodge of Illinois, nine lodges were working the ritual in German, all in the Chicago area. But the Great War was about to have a direct impact on these nine lodges.

MWGM Austin H. Scrogin ordered that these lodges cease working in German and conduct work only in English. Scrogin said, “Fully realizing the great danger to America institutions by the German propaganda, I took up with the nine German-language lodges in Illinois the advisability of a change to the medium of speech in America. I had a consultation with the masters of the German lodges in Chicago. A second meeting was then held. At this all the masters, wardens, secretaries and most of the past masters of the lodges in the state, working in the German language, were present...”

Six of the lodge readily agreed to change their work to the English language. Three did not agree and MWGM Scrogin issued an edict that was mandated to be read in all lodges in Illinois that forbid the use of the German language in the work. Only English was to be allowed. His edict said in part, “A World Crisis is impending; the right of the Nations of the World to choose the form of government under which they shall live is attacked by a predatory militaristic power with a savagery and inhumanity which shock the moral sense of the world; the success of this attack would destroy democracy and free government and the achievements of the moral and religious progress and development of the human race for the past two hundred years; the liberties of all free nations, the perpetuity of the fundamental principles and precepts of Freemasonry now hang in the balance. At such a time, in such a crisis, every loyal and patriotic Mason must be conscious of the personal duty resting upon him to aid in all ways possible, in this supreme moment, to defeat this menace to humanity….”

One lodge refused to submit, Leasing Lodge No. 557. The proceedings reported that by a nearly unanimous vote, the members refused to adhere to the edict. MWGM promptly pulled Leasing Lodge’s charter. Scrogin made a visit to the lodge and concluded that the lodge membership did not understand the power of the office of Grand Master. Leasing lodge later complied with the edict and their charter was reinstated.

The 1918 proceedings also include a section titled “The Point of View” written by Delmar D. Darrah, Past Most Worshipful Grand Master of Illinois. Darrah was a Professor at Illinois Wesleyan University and one of most prolific masonic authors of his day. On the German speaking lodges, he wrote: “…This action was inspired, not so much because of prejudice against the German people in this country and their language, as it was to prevent the segregation of peoples of one nationality under the guise of Freemasonry. The fathers of Freemasonry who formulated the principles under which the fraternity is today working never contemplated the organization of class lodges wherein men of different nations, creeds, and professions might segregate and use the lodge as a means of propagating their own peculiar ideas and practices. The purpose of Freemasonry as originally conceived was that of a fraternal democracy, wherein men of every country, sect, and opinion, religious belief and political party, might come together around a common altar, upon a common equality and meet their fellows as children of one father. Lodges made up exclusively of Germans, Frenchmen, Italians, Swedes, and using the particular language of constituents is not a Masonic lodge; but a lodge composed of men representing these different nationalities and using the language of a country wherein the lodge is located is Masonic. If the war has done nothing else, it has awakened us to the danger of class lodges and has served to bring to us a better understanding of the object and purposes of genuine Freemasonry.”

In part 4 of this series, I will look to the future of Freemasonry in Illinois (after 1918) and provide a reflection 100 years later how these changes initiated in 1918 are still having an impact on the fraternity.

~GJK

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.