Recharge!


by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Adam Thayer




I, like many of you, am a nerd. Now, let’s not fight it, we’re on a website devoted entirely to education on a relatively obscure topic. You probably have at least half a dozen other tabs open in your browser right now, unless you’re reading this on your phone or tablet, in which case you’re using precious battery power to further your education. There is nothing wrong with being nerdy! The 1980’s, where we were skewered by pop culture, are far behind us.

Being a nerd, one of the most satisfying feelings in the world is seeing my cellphone and tablet batteries at 100% charge. Now, I know from a technical standpoint, this isn’t the best way to prolong my battery’s life, but I also know it makes me unexplainably happy to hit the power button on my phone and see that it’s fully charged and ready to go.

I forgot to charge my tablet last night. It was an incredibly long day, after an incredibly long week, and I just simply forgot to plug it in. When I woke up this morning and realized what I had done, there was definitely a moment of disappointment in myself; even though I will be spending the day with my wife and daughter, and will probably barely touch my tablet, it’s still nice to know it’s fully charged and ready to go. Right now, at roughly 7 am on a Saturday morning, my battery sits at 79%. (As a side note, yes I do get up stupidly early on the weekend, it’s the only time I have to write, due to the aforementioned beautiful wife and daughter.)

79%. That is plenty of battery left to get me through the whole weekend, and yet it feels like I need to conserve every bit of power it has. I have no idea why my mind works that way, but I’m willing to stake my writing career that at least one or two of you feel the same way. It’s especially silly, considering I could put it on the charger right now and solve the problem, but it is the wrong time of day to recharge; devices should be charged at night, not in the middle of the day. (This may be a whole other issue I have, that you don’t necessarily share.)

So here I am, on my third cup of coffee, staring at this tablet with 78% battery power, cursing myself for forgetting to charge it, and even more so for being crazy enough that I can’t charge it during the day, watching a terrible 80’s horror movie (one of my other guilty pleasures, and another reason I get up so early on the weekends), wondering if I’ve got enough power to get through the day if maybe I only read books on the tablet instead of watching videos and surfing the net, and I find myself asking this important question: how is my Masonic battery?

You see, we all have a limited amount of energy to put into our efforts; work, family, friends, civic efforts, Freemasonry… all of these things eat away at our batteries, leaving us worn down, sapped of strength, not even wanting to go outside and see other people. We all have to determine where our energy is best spent; how much time do I dedicate to work, how much time to my friends and family, et cetera, et cetera.

In a perfect world, we would be able to keep up with everything, without needing to worry about running out of strength, but in reality we all realize that we need to maintain our strength, and put our efforts into where they will be most valuable. We have to metaphorically (and, in some cases, literally) stop watching the tenth cat video, so we can spend some time studying our ritual work instead.

In the past, I have said that going to lodge helps recharge my batteries, and while that was true in the past, and surely will be true again once I’m through being an officer, right now it’s a significant drain on my energy and patience. I’m not complaining, I am beyond honored at being asked to serve my lodge in this way, but the reality of the situation is that being an officer in an especially active lodge will age you very quickly. Brother Robert Johnson has said in the past that being an officer is a full time job, and that is definitely true in my lodge; we meet nearly every week, and always have something going on to keep us occupied. It can get exhausting!

In the recent past, we have featured a few articles about Masonic burnout, and you don’t need to see another one to know it’s an issue we all face. Instead, let’s just use the reminder about how important it is to keep your battery fully charged, so you don’t get too worn down to continue perfecting your ashlar.
I’m now on five cups of coffee, midway through a second movie, my daughter is awake and ready to take on the world, and my battery is at 75%. Having spent this past hour or so writing to you, knowing that these words will help someone out there who is struggling, my Masonic battery is fully charged, so I have to ask you: how is YOUR Masonic battery?

~AT

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 adam@wcypodcast.com. He will not help you get your whites whiter or your brights brighter, but he does enjoy conversing with brothers from around the world!

Individuation of the Craft Pt. 4

by Midnight Freemason Emeritus
WB James E. Frey



The first step in the process of individuation is realizing our own potential for darkness, to do this the Initiate must strip away his false sense of self and his idealized nature. In the past an Initiate would be placed in a chamber of reflection for this purpose. The reflection upon the grim reminders of death not only strips the ego of its self-assuring illusion but mentally prepares the candidate to begin to notice the existential dilemma within. The Chamber of reflection formulates the candidate to perceive their own doubts and fears in a constructive manner, to reject the illusion of the ego and accept one’s limitations.

Similar to this is metaphorical duty of the Entered Apprentice who is declared a barer of burden and must descend into the darkness of the quarries, down into the primordial earth of the unconscious mind. Here in this primal darkness he would break off pieces of rough stone and carry it painfully up to the light to be exposed for its imperfections as a rough ashlar. The Mason is given the privilege of labor toward a greater cause than himself. This labor is the lesson taught in every degree on the progression of the Initiate through the darkness toward the light of greater growth.

This is why the initiate must choose of his own free will and accord to knock three times and enter the lodge hoodwinked to strip himself of his ego’s mask and engage directly with his own personification of darkness. Facing this doubt of our own ignorance and inability to bring light into our own lives through the ambitions of the ego is the first stage of Individuation This is allowing society to form your mask so that you may break free from it. To become a whole individual we need to recognize our own doubts and weakness within ourselves and embrace them as a vital aspect of who we are as an individual.

Next week we'll talk about recognizing these "shadows". Until then, my Brothers...

~JEF

Past Master

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
R.W.B. Michael H. Shirley

Last week the Master of my lodge, Worshipful Brother Dave McCrory, texted me to ask when he could come by. He wanted to make sure he had a chance to say goodbye before I left town for good. We settled on the following Thursday. This evening the doorbell rang, as expected, but it wasn’t just Dave who was at the door. Several other Brothers were there with him to present me with a Past Master’s apron. It was both unexpected and humbling. We chatted a bit about my plans, and then they took their leave. And so I was left to contemplate the past ten years, represented in that wonderful gesture and welcome gift.

Being Master of a lodge is a great responsibility. During my tenure, I learned to run meetings, to deal with our Grand Lodge, to confer degrees, and generally how to set an example to my newer Brethren. I had a wonderful time, and then, too soon, it was over. I was a Past Master, with the title “Worshipful Brother” in perpetuity, but with no power at all. And that’s as it should be. Masonry requires humility, and being a Past Master requires it even more. Humility—right-sizedness—for a Past Master requires not saying, “I didn’t do it that way,” or, “that’s the wrong way to handle things.” It requires silence when not asked for advice and prudence when given the chance to contribute. Wearing a Past Master’s apron is not an exercise in ego: it is a reminder that all things pass, that Masonry is eternal, and that every award given is an honor, not one’s just due. I’m truly grateful to my Brethren for their gift, and not just because I won’t have to search out the aprons with the long strings when I go to a lodge meeting. They’ve given me something that will remind me, whenever I put it on, that the chance to serve my lodge and my Craft are blessings. It is the internal and not the external qualifications of a man that recommend him to be a Mason, and that doesn’t change with fancy aprons or titles. My new apron is a continued admonishment to me to act as a Past Master should: with humility, reverence, and fraternity.

~MHS

R.W.B. Michael H. Shirley serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F. & A.M, as Leadership Development Chairman and Assistant Area Deputy Grand Master of the Eastern Area. A Certified Lodge Instructor, he is a Past Master and Life Member of Tuscola Lodge No. 332 and a plural member of Island City Lodge No. 330, F & AM, in Minocqua, Wisconsin. He is Past Most Wise Master of the George E. Burow Chapter of Rose Croix in the Valley of Danville, IL; he is also a member of the Illinois Lodge of Research, the York Rite, Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, Eastern Star, Illini High Twelve, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. The author of several article on British and American history, he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.You can contact him at: m.h.shirley@gmail.com

J. Edgar Hoover: Freemason Or Not?

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason

J. Edgar Hoover (1895 - 1972)
"The cure for crime is not the electric chair, 
but the high chair."

~J. Edgar Hoover
Director of the FBI 1935 - 1972

Possibly one of the most powerful men in American history, J. Edgar Hoover began his career in the Justice Department in 1917 working in the War Emergency Department, which was charged with identifying and arresting disloyal foreigners during wartime.  Having proven himself in that role he was made head of the General Intelligence Division of the Bureau of Investigation (B.O.I).  By 1924 he was made director of the Bureau of Investigation, and later in 1935 when it became the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he was named the first director.  He would remain the Director of the F.B.I. until his death 37 years later.

His long career began during Franklin D. Roosvelt's Presidency with the FBI going up against prohibition-era mobsters like Al Capone, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Machine Gun Kelly.  It ended during Richard Nixon's Presidency and with the Watergate scandal.  During his tenure, he built one of the most modern and effective crime fighting organizations in the world.

He became a very controversial figure during his years in office.  He was accused of abusing his power, collecting evidence illegally, and amassing secret files on political leaders.  President Harry S. Truman was one of his harshest critics accusing Hoover of turning the FBI into his own secret police force.  Truman once said, "we want no Gestapo or secret police.  The FBI is tending in that direction.  They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail."

Hoover's grave in Congressional Cemetery (Photo by Todd E. Creason)
Hoover remained the Director of the FBI until his death from a heart attack on May 2, 1972.  He was eulogized by both Chief Justice Warren Burger, and President Richard Nixon.  He is buried in Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

So was J. Edgar Hoover a Freemason?

He most certainly was, and all of his Masonic affiliations were in Washington, D.C.  Brother J. Edgar Hoover was a member of Federal Lodge No. 1, Washington D.C.  He was a charter member of Justice Lodge No. 46 in Washington, D.C.  He was both a York Rite Mason, and a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason.  He was also a Shriner--a member of Almas Shrine.

~TEC

Author's Note:  I got the idea for this post on a trip to Washington D.C. a few weeks ago with two other Masons, Greg Knott (also a contributor to the Midnight Freemasons) and Denver Phelps (the Worshipful Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754, Illinois).  I'd either forgotten, or never knew Hoover was resting there, but shortly after visiting many of the other famous Freemasons buried there, like John Philips Sousa, we found Brother Hoover quite by mistake.  It was an amazing trip, and over the next few weeks, I plan on sharing with the readers of the Midnight Freemasons a few of our remarkable adventures together on that road trip.  I'm sure it won't be our last adventure either. 

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 a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and currently serves as the Secretary.  He is also the Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and serves as Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), Ansar Shrine (IL), and Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL).  In 2015 he was honored by the Missouri Lodge of Research and named a Fellow (FMLR).  He is a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D.  Todd is the father of two daughters, and recently became a grandfather.  You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org