Freemason Wisdom: Quotes For The New Year

Bro. Benjamin Franklin
St. Johns LodgePA
This being my last post in 2011, I thought I'd leave you with a few inspirational "Famous Freemason" quotes as you ponder your New Years Resolutions.  As for me, I just keep that same list every year, and write "ditto" at the bottom.  I hope you all have a safe and happy New Years Eve.

"Words may show a man's wit but actions his meaning.

~Benjamin Franklin
St. Johns Lodge, Philadelphia, PA

"It isn't sufficient just to want--you've got to ask yourself what you're going to do to get the things you want."

~Franklin D. Roosevelt
Holland Lodge No. 8, New York, NY

Bro. Douglas MacArthur
Manila Lodge No. 1, Philappines
"Character, not circumstances, makes the man."

~Douglas MacArthur
Manila Lodge No. 1, Philippines

"Stand upright, speak thy thoughts, declare the truth thou hast, that all may share; Be bold, proclaim it everywhere: They only live who dare."

Lodge of Nine Sisters, France

Happy New Year!


And of course, if you like these quotes, these and many more can be found in my collection A Freemason Said That? Great Quotes of Famous Freemasons.

My Year In Review . . .

I've begun a very long and much needed vacation.  I don't know how often I'll be posting during this vacation, but there is a good chance it won't be with the same regularity I usually do.  So I thought I'd wrap up the year by looking back on what has been a very remarkable year for me . . . don't worry, I'll just hit the highlights.

Published My First Novel

I've wanted to write a novel for years--and I've tried a few times. It isn't as easy as you might think. Most of those earlier attempts are still gathering dust in my file cabinet.  But that was about to change.  I got an idea for a novel on a long drive home from a meeting in 2009.  It was an idea that was brand new for me, and by the time I arrived home, I knew I had something.  I worked on it all night, and by morning when my wife got up, I was sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and a rough outline of a novel called One Last Shot.  About a year-and-a-half later (Spring 2011) I published it.  It became so popular so quickly, that I immediately began a second novel--a follow-up to the first.  I'd actually gotten the idea for the second novel while I was editing the first.  The second novel, A Shot After Midnight, will be released in Spring of 2012.

I Got Fired, And Then Sentenced To Life The Same Day

I finished my term as Worshipful Master at my lodge. I had mixed feelings about it.  I enjoyed my time in the East a great deal. Many are relieved when their term as Master is over, but I would have gladly done another year.  We did a lot of interesting things the year I was in the East, perhaps my favorite of these events was sponsoring the play "December's Rose" at our lodge, and using the proceeds to help a local family.

But, the members of my lodge had a plan for me after all--they elected me Secretary.  So now I have a job for life (unless I really mess up.) 

The 33rd Degree

The cap ceremony at the Valley of Danville (IL)
It goes without saying that receiving the 33rd Degree is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It's not likely I'll ever forget that trip to Chicago in August.  Receiving the 33rd Degree is without question one of the greatest honors I've ever received.  We had so much fun, we ate some great meals, and made many new friends.  It's also the first time Valerie and I had a few days alone since our four-year-old was born (she stayed with her grandparents that week).  There are all kinds of pictures of that weekend posted here. You just never know where life is going to take you, but I can honestly say, I certainly never thought I'd be considered for such a great honor.  I certainly never dreamed where my writing would lead when I started writing the Famous American Freemasons books back in 2006, but the idea it might one day lead to a white cap certainly never crossed my mind. 

The first weekend of November, I received the last part of that honor--the white cap from the Valley of Danville.  As is the tradition in my Valley, Valerie had the priveledge of putting the cap on me (as Katie watched).  That guy in the purple hat standing off to the right is the Illustrious James L. Tungate, 33, our valley Active member of the Supreme Council.  Jim has become a very good friend of mine, so I asked him to write the introduction of Famous American Freemasons: Volume II, which he did.  It was a terrific introduction, and Valerie claims it added a much needed "touch of class" to my books (I don't know what that was supposed to mean). 

I should also mention that Bro. Tungate received a big honor recently, too--he was elected Grand Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (NJ). It's a big honor, and much deserved--congrats Bro. Tungate!

Two Day Booksigning At Illinois Grand Lodge

Brian "Rooster Cox & Todd E. Creason signing books
Our outgoing Grand Master, Richard L. Swaney, gave me and another Masonic writer Brian "Rooster" Cox a unique opportunity at our Grand Lodge's Annual Meeting in Springfield (IL).  Grand Master Swaney gave us a table, and for two days, Rooster and I talked to Masons all over the state about our books, about writing, and about publishing. We had a lot of fun doing it, and on the second day, our wives and our kids came and joined us. And we might have been having a bit too much fun--our corner was said to be the noisiest one there.  It wasn't all us--we had plenty of help turning that corner of the lobby into a circus. Brian and I went back and worth all weekend, and he even remarked that I shouldn't be surpirsed if he didn't make me a villian in his next book. But be careful, Brian, two can play that game. But it was certainly a fun weekend, and a nice family trip for us. 

Helped Charter a New Chapter of High Twelve

Now this one hasn't happened yet, but we're well on our way.  There was a group of local Freemasons that work at the University of Illinois that were getting together every so often for lunch.  Sometimes we had five or six, and other times there were just three of us.  But we got talking about doing something more with our little unofficial lunch club--maybe use it as a means of networking with other Freemasons in the area, or to use the club to introduce perspective Masons to other Freemasons in a more social setting.  So we started meeting more regularly, and inviting more people to join us for these lunches.  By our second meeting, we had enough we started thinking about chartering a High Twelve chapter.  Well, the state representatives for Illinois High Twelve joined us at our last meeting, and we're well on our way to chartering the Illini High Twelve.  And it was a great honor for me to be named the Illini High Twelve's first President!

A New Novel Is Coming!

I've been getting a lot of emails asking about when the sequel to One Last Shot will be released.  One thing I do plan on finishing during my vacation is my second novel A Shot After Midnight.  The first big round of editing is done.  I'm working my way through the second edit now, and then there will be one more round, just to catch anything we missed, and to finish fine tuning.  We are right on schedule for a Spring 2012 release.  It's looking like possibly April at this point.  And this story is a doozey--I think it's even better than the first novel.

What Next?

This is going to be tough year to beat without a doubt, but I plan to get to work on the last volume of the Famous American Freemasons series this year.  I'm also planning on working on a few articles and pieces this year--in fact, the first of these will be published soon in The Working Tools Masonic Magazine.  And there's another idea for a possible third novel too.  We'll just see where this next year takes us.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!


Vacation Begins Now!

Starting today, I'm on vacation until the 9th of January.  I do plan on continuing to post blogs on The Midnight Freemason, but I may not be posting as frequently as usual.  But don't worry, I'll be back to my usual shenanigans after the holidays.  I plan on spending a good portion of that free time with my family, and working on the final edits of my new novel A Shot After Midnight due out in the Spring.

I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday.

Merry Christmas,

Todd E. Creason

What It Means To Be Worshipful Master

A friend of mine sent me this from an old installation ritual--the book it came out of was about a hundred years.  I thought it was pretty interesting.  I hope you enjoy it. 

The Office of Master is of great antiquity and respect, and is one of the highest dignities to which we may aspire. Its incumbent, to rule well, should possess and practice several important prerequisites.

As a MAN, he should be of proven integrity and irreproachable morals, freed from the dominion of hasty temper and ill-governed passions, of good repute in the world, and practicing, as an example to his Brethren, the cardinal virtues of Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice.

As a CITIZEN, he should be loyal to his government, obedient to its laws, prompt in the duties he owes to society; and, [should demonstrate] a pattern of fidelity in all social and domestic relations.

As a MASON, he should cling to the old landmarks and be sternly opposed to their infringement; be desirous to learn and apt to teach; be prompt to aid and relieve, and be ever mindful that, though elevated for a time above his fellows, he is elevated by them, and should therefore cultivate, everywhere and at all times, the golden tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.

As an OFFICER, he should remember, first of all, that he is an individual Mason, sharing in that respect a common lot with his Brethren, and therefore interested in the welfare of each and all; be devoid of undue ostentation and haughty overbearing; be accessible to all, cultivating the closest friendship and the most unlimited confidence with his associate Officers; be eager to take counsel with his Brethren and ready to give it; be ready to reward good; be devoid of favoritism; and, [be] wholly impartial.

Such are some of the most important qualifications the Master should possess and the errors he should avoid. It may be that most, if not all of us, have failed to reach this standard; but, it is attainable, and be it your purpose to reach it, and be a bright and shining example to those who shall come after you.


Harry S Truman: To Dot, Or Not To Dot?

Truman said he had two choices in life: politics or piano player
Any regrets, Harry?
Only in America could a controversy erupt over whether it is appropriate to use a period after Harry Truman's middle name. Harry didn't have a middle name--it's just S.  It was apparently a compromise between his parents and it stood for the name of both his maternal grandfather Solomon Young, and his paternal grandfather Anderson Shipp Truman.

Seems Truman may have created the controvesy himself--possibly in jest.  It's possible, because he was well known for his funny stories. He told a group of reporters in 1962 that the period should be omitted.  Here we are 50 years later still discussing it.  I guess you'd have to give him credit if it was a joke--good one, Mr. President!

However, more often than not (both before and after he told those reporters that in 1962), Harry used a period after the S in his signature, although there are a few examples of when he didn't.  Maybe he did that just to mess with us.


Sam The Snowman: Freemason Or Not?

Ever since Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer premiered on NBC in 1964, it has been rumored by conspiracy theorists that "Sam the Snowman" was in fact a Freemason.  I mean he did know an awful lot about the story considering he wasn't actually a part of it. As additional evidence, there are also a number of fuzzy photographs of Sam whispering in Rudolph's ear, and a very suspicious handshake between Sam on one of Santa's elves. 

But it is true--"Sam the Snowman" a.k.a. The Illustrious Burle Ives, 33° was indeed a Freemason.  And now, boys and girls, you know why nobody knows how Santa delivers all those packages in one night. It's a Masonic secret!

Merry Christmas!


To My Masonic Brethren: A Christmas Challenge

Many Americans feel that the true meaning of Christmas has been lost--I'm one of those.  The mall parking lot is full, while the church parking lot is empty.  We spend a lot of time this time of year trying to think up thoughtful gifts for our friends and family as we rush around at the last minute trying to buy gifts. We all love opening presents on Christmas morning, but more often than not, we get things we like, but don't really need. Isn't there a better way to spend that money?

Why not do something different this year? We're two weeks from Christmas. Most of those gifts aren't bought yet. Instead of asking for that sweater, or the socks, or a nice tie, or that fancy coffee maker or Nook I talked about a couple weeks ago, why don't you let your family know you'd rather they take that money they usually spend on you, and donate it to a worthy cause.  If you have a favorite charity, let them know what it is, and tell them to write a check to that charity. There are a lot of people in need right now. I've listed a few suggestions below, but there are thousands of worthy causes in need of support--especially at this time of year.  If you're one of those lucky individuals that has everything they need, why not give your gift to those who really need it.  Isn't that what the spirit of Christmas is really about?

Luke's Wings  is an organization dedicated to the support of service members who have been wounded in battle. Recognizing the immediate need for families to be with their loved ones at such a difficult time, Luke’s Wings provides families with the means to visit during the service member’s hospitalization and rehabilitation. By purchasing travel agency services and travel tickets for loved ones, Luke’s Wings provides an immediate and invaluable service to the families of our men and women at arms while also helping to encourage and motivate the service member’s recovery. I would add they are trying to raise $100K before Christmas that so that no wounded warrior spends Christmas alone.  Check out the website for more information.

Shriner's Hospitals  The generosity of donors is what enables Shriners Hospitals for Children® to deliver life-changing medical care without placing burden on the families of our patients. There are many ways to give, from participating in one of our many fundraising events throughout the year, to creating a plan for giving. No matter how large or small, every gift to Shriners Hospitals for Children makes a difference in the life of a child.

Wounded Warriors Project  began when several veterans and friends, moved by stories of the first wounded service members returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq, took action to help others in need. What started as a program to provide comfort items to wounded service members has grown into a complete rehabilitative effort to assist warriors as they recover and transition back to civilian life.  Tens of thousands of Wounded Warriors and caregivers receive support each year through WWP programs designed to nurture the mind and body, and encourage economic empowerment and engagement.

For animal lovers.  The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee was founded in 1995, is the nation's largest natural habitat refuge developed specifically for endangered African and Asian elephants. The Sanctuary operates on 2,700 acres in Hohenwald, Tennessee — 85 miles southwest of Nashville.  The Elephant Sanctuary exists for two reasons:  1.)  To provide a haven for old, sick or needy elephants in a setting of green pastures, dense forests, spring-fed ponds and heated barns for cold winter nights. 2.) To provide education about the crisis facing these social, sensitive, passionately intense, playful, complex, exceedingly intelligent and endangered creatures.  A friend and brother Master Mason brought this worthy charity to my attention.  They do good work--check out their website.

St. Judes Children's Research Hospital was founded by a Master Mason!  When entertainer Danny Thomas opened the doors to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 1962, he was not just changing the lives of those children who would walk through its doors. He was changing lives across the world. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is internationally recognized for its pioneering research and treatment of children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. Ranked one of the best pediatric cancer hospitals in the country, St. Jude is the first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children.

Ask yourself a question--what did you get for Christmas last year.  Do you remember everything? I'd be willing to bet you don't. I hope you consider supporting one of these worthy causes, or one in your own community, and ask your friends and family to give to them rather than to you.

Merry Christmas!


Freemasonry: How Far Does It Go Back?

Pompeii mosaic altar top (circa A.D. 79)
I read a piece over the weekend on Bro. Steve Harris' blog The One Minute Mason I thought was interesting.  It was a little historical footnote that I didn't know, and as Steve's blog entries so often do, it lead me to look into it a bit further.

According to what I've read, archaeologist found an ancient lodge room when they were excavating Pompeii in 1896.  You have to remember that Pompeii was destroy when Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79, so we're talking about a long time ago.

What archaeologist found was a large mosaic altar top in the center of a rectangular room, much the same way that Masonic altars have always been set up.  The mosaic was of a remarkable quality, and depicted a large square over a deaths head.  There was a plumb line from the angle of the square to the middle point of the crown of the head.  Robes were suspended from each of the arms of the square--one red, and one purple.  Those are distinctive colors associated with the Royal Arch Degrees. 

Masonic working tools found in Pompeii in 1896
Along with some other well-known Masonic symbology on the mosaic, some working tools were also found in the room.  These included a setting maul, trowel, a spade, a small chest (thought to represent the Ark of the Covenant), and a pot of manna.  As if all these objects weren't confirmation enough, the inscription over the door of the house read "DIOGENE SEN."  That translates to "Diogenes the Mason."

So how long has Freemasonry been around?  We may never know, but there is certainly evidence that it was alive and well in 79 A.D.


I know I've mentioned Bro. Steve Harris' blog The One Minute Mason before. It's become one of my favorite blogs. His posts are short, and more often than not, so interesting and entertaining that I wind up looking further into the subject--as I did today. We all need some of that--something that sparks our curiousity.

Regarding Freemasonry

This is a very long letter--a response to criticism of Freemasonry written by a new Master Mason (raised April 2010).  It's long, but I think it's well worth the read.  The original was posted at You Are the 1%.  If you go to the original article, there are a number of links at the bottom that are well worth check out as well.  It was well researched--in fact, as you're reading it, ask yourself how many Master Masons you know have learned as much about our fraternity as this new member has.


I’m so glad you approached me about the Masons yesterday. I’d love to be a resource to clarify any questions you may have. While I’m relatively new to the fraternity (joined in April of 2010), I am continuously reading Masonic literature on the history, philosophy, and application of Masonic principles.

The following is a lengthy discourse I’ve spent several hours working on to give you a sense of what and who Freemasons are.

Masonry spans many different subjects, histories, and concentrations, so your first resource would best be Wikipedia. From there you can get a basic understanding of what Freemasonry is and branch out to the more interesting facets.

In a nutshell, Freemasonry is a system of morality (a code of ethics), veiled in allegory (expressed in a way that can be interpreted subjectively by the recipient), and illustrated through symbols (taught in a way that hearkens back to the time when most people were illiterate and learned from masters drawing in the dirt on the floor to teach an apprentice). It is the oldest and largest fraternity in the world and exists in every corner of the free world and underground in countries where such organizations are illegal (Iran, North Korea).

In it’s present state, the ritual of the Freemasons comes from northern England in the early 1700s where it was crafted by pious men of God (read: “Christians”) who applied the operative symbolism of the stone worker trade guilds to a speculative philosophical art. It went from medieval European cathedral builders to builders of “good men” on a foundation of service to God. Using the symbols of stone masons and the allegory of the building of King Solomon’s temple, we impart deep and virtuous teachings on our members.

Where most people are turned askew are the “secrets” of Freemasonry, which are the modes and manner of recognition (handshakes and passwords whereby two Masons may recognize each other in the darkness as well as in the light). Freemasonry is not a “secret society”, but more appropriately a “society with secrets”. As I explained, these secrets (the handshakes, passwords, and ritual) can all be found on Google in under 5 minutes and have been exposed in published writings back in the 1780s.

There is also no “Masonic conspiracy” as perpetuated through Dan Brown and films like National Treasure. The idea that Freemasons are power brokers of the world stems from the fact that in early Masonic history, the men that associated fraternally in the taverns were the mayors, doctors, lawyers, clergy and merchants. The image of the wealthy and powerful meeting together was intimidating. But what conspiracy theorists never tell you is that the farmers, carpenters, blacksmiths and bakers were also in the Lodge room and had equal standing regardless of position in life outside the Lodge room.

Masons meet on a plane of equality that disregards race, creed, color, sexual orientation, political views, material wealth and any other dividing bias. In fact, the reason why Masons dress in formalwear when we meet is to make a visual display of that equality, that regardless of whether you just got off the job from the bank or the bakery, we are all equal in the Lodge. I regularly meet with men through the fraternity who would be inaccessible to me if I didn’t have a Masonic introduction.

The idea of spiritually aware, good-natured, God-fearing men meeting under the precept of brotherhood still attracts new members to join a massive network of men who prescribe to the same moral values as another Brother. It truly is a brotherhood. There are men who I’ve met who would drive 100 miles to help if I broke down on the side of the highway. Men who would give with all their ability if I were in financial trouble. Masons who would visit me daily in the hospital. And still there are a handful who would lay down their life for me if the situation arose. And more importantly, I do and would do the same for them. When I find someone to be a Mason, I know that his moral compass far exceeds my expectations of the non-Mason and that he is bound by certain oaths to serve God and his fellow man in a manner of service and dedication found in no other organization. I can go just about anywhere in the world and know that if I need help, or a place to stay, or a warm meal, I can find it.

Masonry is also very independent. There is no national or international governing body. In the US, each Masonic lodge is chartered by the state’s Grand Lodge. It receives a warrant to meet as a regularly recognised body of Freemasons and enjoys parity and reciprocal recognition with lodges around the state, in other countries, throughout the world. The word “lodge” in Masonry means three or more Masons assembled in one place under the authority of God. It refers to the people as well as the place, just as “church” means two or more believers assembled in the name of God and also refers to the place in which they meet.

While there is a statewide governing body, each individual lodge is free to operate the business of the lodge; it’s agenda, it’s events and activities, it’s buildings and grounds, as it sees fit, as determined by a democratic majority of its members. Each Lodge owns and operates its own facilities. While there are national and international conferences of Masonic bodies, they neither have the objective or authority to legislate on the behalf or to affect the local lodge. There is no Masonic, new world order, conspiracy. We have hard enough of a time planning a picnic let alone plotting world domination. Is it really that hard to believe that our God who created the infinite universe could gather a few million Masons under the banner of brotherly love?

In every Masonic lodge, there is an altar on which a Volume of Sacred Law is opened during meetings. It is symbolic of the Light of God that comes through His unerring word and that the Lodge is governed under His divine Truth. In most lodges, the Volume is the Holy Bible. But it may also be the Tanakh, the Koran, even the Book of Shadows for a Wiccan, in an extreme example. Whatever the belief of the congregant Masons, their holy book is represented as a source of Light (read:”knowledge”) on the altar. For example, at Acacia Lodge #20 in Dover, the Bible, Tanakh and Koran are always present on the altar because of its religiously diverse membership.

So in reality, there is nothing secretive about the Masons today. It’s actually less secretive than the Roman Catholic fraternity and civic organization, the Knights of Columbus. Where as the Knights must invite you to become a member, the Masons follow a “2B1Ask1” model where someone interested in joining must ask to petition the Lodge for membership. Not the other way around. We also are expressly forbidden from actively soliciting membership, which is why some think we’re so secretive.

To become a Mason, one must be a man (whatever your driver’s license says), over the age of 21, who doesn’t have a criminal record, is of sound mind, and believing in a Supreme Being. The Masons don’t mandate what that Supreme Being is called, and uses the umbrella term “Grand Architect of the Universe” and is referred to as ‘God’ or ‘Deity’ in our meetings and represented by the letter “G” in our square and compass symbol.

This is where Randy got caught up with me and I have heard the same argument from another, more conservative evangelical Christian on my mission trip to El Salvador. Masonry is not a religion, or a substitute for religion. We don’t teach a path and we don’t offer salvation. We don’t tell people what to believe or where to seek God. We encourage Masons to be active in their local church or synagogue, but the imperative concept is that seeking the face of God is a personal journey, and not one that the Masons will dictate or enforce under a certain sect or brand of faith. We do teach tolerance for all faiths, the right to the freedom of religious belief, or non-belief, regardless of whether we agree or not with those beliefs, and defend that right of freedom for all people. But no atheist can be a Mason.

I’m relatively new to the evangelical contemporary Christian movement, but in my upbringing as a Catholic, evangelizing; converting heathens and non-believers, is not natural or encouraged, per say, save Catholic Charities missions. Going out and being the hands and feet of ministry was something that was talked about as a concept, but never practiced, at least in my church. Masonically, it is improper to impose or convert people from their own belief or non-belief. We endorse seeking God through whatever path makes sense in the time and place for an individual. For example, Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God works for me, right here, right now, but it might not be the case if I lived in China or India 3000 years ago. Masons concede that our human minds are too limited to know all the ways in which God works and are open to the idea that He may work through other prophets and paths to Him.

A study of world religions reveals that for the most part, they all share many commonalities and even similar teachings and parables. Christianity remains to be the only one that teaches salvation through grace and the God who became flesh to become a blood sacrifice for our sins eternally. But simply because I believe that doesn’t negate or vilify the other belief systems in the world. I’m not going to use the idea of Jesus to place myself on a pedestal above Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, Deists, and Atheists. But if someone comes to me asking for a path to the Light I would share with them the message of love and forgiveness of the Gospel.

One facet of the Masonic lodge (the group of men meeting) is that any discussion of politics, religion, and personal gain are prohibited to keep the peace and harmony of the Lodge. Our meetings consist of a benediction, the Pledge of Allegiance (to the US flag), a review of sickness and distress amongst the members, paying the bills, new and old business, a closing prayer and God Bless America is sung.

Our other activities include initiating new members, which is like a college fraternity initiation, except there is nothing contained within it that will humiliate, harm or embarrass members. No alcohol, no paddles, no goats. Very benign. Very symbolic. Very powerful presentation. It’s nearly word-for-word unchanged for over 200 years. The same cornerstone laying ceremony we conduct publicly today is the same ritual George Washington used when laying the cornerstone of the Capitol Building or when Masons layed the cornerstone of the Statue of Liberty (which was a statue designed by a French Mason and donated by French Freemasons to the people of America. It was American Freemasons who funded the construction of the Statue when it arrived here. And ironically, the statue is not just Lady Liberty, but a torch bearer, the bringer of Light to a new world of darkness. A very Masonic theme.) Further, the flag of our country was made by Betsy Ross, whose husband was a member in the same Lodge as George Washington, who commissioned the work. There are many other similar Masonic connections with the history of our nation. Incidentally, the initiation ritual for many college fraternities are directly taken from Masonic ritual.

We also are very active in the civic affairs of our community. We do a ton of volunteer work. Worldwide, Freemasons donate over $2 million a day to various charities. My Lodge in Madison does 2 blood drives every month, has 3 scholarships for local high schoolers, and has an “Angel Fund” where we partner with local schools and social services to anonymously cover any requested donation. For example, a child in Madison elementary school needs eyeglasses but the parents can’t afford them. The nurse tells the principal, the principal contacts us, and our Angel Fund committee dispatches services free of charge. The child can go to a doctor or pharmacy and we will already have arranged ahead of time to pay in full. In Boston, their Angel Fund is so large that they literally have warehouses of shoes, coats and clothing for children in need that are distributed across the state. All requests are processed and fulfilled in about 3 days. The recipient never knows who provided the services. And we like it that way. We don’t like to take credit for God’s work.

A recent example of this at work was last year when a house fire destroyed a home in Madison, killing the single mother of two children. Our Lodge was contacted to help and we fully funded the cost of school lunch for the kids. They don’t know who took care of it or why, but they know that someone cares. That God cares.

You may have heard of the Shriner’s hospital for burned or crippled children. The Shriner’s are an appendant order of Masonry, meaning you must be a Master Mason to join. We provide free medical care at these hospitals. Another branch of Freemasonry that I belong to called the Scottish Rite (which actually has its origins in France) runs children’s dyslexia centers around the country which offer free tutoring in a method of reading for people with learning disabilities. These free services, hospital treatments, and scholarships are available to anyone who needs help, not just Masons, their family or friends.

In New Jersey, the Masons also donate time each Sunday at the VA hospitals to bring the veterans to Sunday services in the chapel. We believe it’s an important duty to so serve those who gave of themselves for the freedoms we so freely enjoy. Every year we also host a Wheelchair Track & Field Meet, which is like a Special Olympics for disabled children.

So, in addition to the esoteric philosophical teachings of the Masons, we live out a tangible expression of our service to God and our fellow man. Very much like how Liquid Church brings church to the people through its engaging outreach ministry. In the sense of a civic organization, the Masons are comparable to Kiwanis, Lions Club, or Rotary. And in matters of God, the Masons are like the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, which are devoted to God, but don’t say what God to which they are so devoted.

On that note, to answer the root question; no, we don’t teach that Jesus is the only way to God. In fact we don’t tell Masons at all how to come to know God. We do teach that by humbling yourself to others, studying the science, art and mystery of our created world, and realizing the ultimate fate of our physical body and the resurrection of the eternal soul to a oneness with God, a Mason can work toward perfection and unity with the Creator.

Sidebar: common phrases like “level with me”, “give me a square deal”, “rap of the gavel” or “he gave me the third degree” are Masonic in origin.
I reached out to my friends on Facebook for some good articles and scholarly papers on the subject of Freemasonry and religion, specifically Christianity, and it was actually another member of the Morristown Campus Staff that pointed me to a website called which houses 600+ articles, a glossary of Masonic terms, graphics, and short talk bulletins on every subject imaginable concerning Masonry.

I’ve selected a handful of articles and papers that answer some of the questions you posed to me and I hope that the candor and at times, pedigree of the author, provides a more complete picture of how Freemasonry not only is compatible with Christianity, but draws people closer to our God.

You asked me “If Christianity is complete on its own, why do you need Freemasonry at all?”. And the answer is, you don’t. You don’t need Freemasonry to worship God. But for our organization, you need to worship God to be a Mason. Freemasonry is religious in nature, but not a religion. It complements, meaning that it enhances the experience of a believer in God, the life of a follower of God, but doesn’t conflict or interfere with his duty to God, his country, or his fellow man.

The values of a Freemason- Faith, Hope, and Charity; are complemented by core tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. Universal values that encompass and strengthen a Brother, or any person, for that matter. As your staff member Janet can attest, as a member of the Order of the Eastern Star (like a Masonic ladies auxillery), Masonic values are universally applicable to all faiths and philosophies, most notably those that preach a message of love and compassion for our fellow brothers and sisters, especially the widows and orphans.

Because of this, you will find about 80% of Masons are Christian, with the rest following other faiths. Our ritual has its beginnings in Christian England and much of our ritual draws directly from Scripture (KJV with the thees, thous, and thys). And while the Catholic Church is officially opposed to Freemasons, believing our ability to organize a threat to their establishment, we accept Catholic Brothers with open arms.

The Masons carry a weird mythos and misunderstanding and if there are any questions I can answer that can clarify any of those points, I would be more than happy to do so. The more transparent Masons are and upfront with information about what we’re about, the less suspicious and critical the public can be. There are enough movies and History Channel documentaries to cause confusion. I’d love to provide insight.

Scanning through the list of Masons below, you may be surprised by who is or was a Freemason. From all times, places, professions; Masonry persists. I also invite you to visit my Lodge in Madison or the lodge in Morristown to meet with other local Masons and learn about what we do. I also have a friend who is an evangelical minister as well as a Mason and would gladly share his experience. There is a lot of misinformation out there. And if I can help dispel rumor, I will do so honestly, respectfully, informatively and pleasurably.

To conclude, it has been my experience that you will find no more humble a person, someone as selfless, serving, loving, and accepting than a Brother Mason, a Sister of the Eastern Star, or a child of DeMolay or Rainbow Girls/Job’s Daughters(Masonic youth groups). These people are truly the salt of the earth and I encourage you to embrace and learn from them rather than fear and reject them. You would be surprised how many Masons are in our Church, let alone our community, in the grocery store, pumping your gas, fixing your toilet, cleaning your gutters, filing your taxes, preparing your coffee or editing your morning paper.

Sincere regards and Happy Monday.

Your Brother in Christ,

Chase William Kruppo

Kids Say The Darndest Things . . .

It's a jewel . . . and an apron, Katie!
When I was installed as Senior Warden of my lodge, my daughter Katie (then two) was there. She got to sit with me in the West after I was installed in my chair--you see her? She was being particularly shy and quiet, which is a little out of character for her.

After installation, it was just the two of us.  Her mother had to work, so I took her to McDonald's for a Happy Meal. The McDonald's was packed, and when we finally got up to the counter, I sat her up on the counter and ordered.  When the server asked Katie what she wanted, she exclaimed in a loud voice:

"My daddy was just wearing a dress--and a necklace too!"

You could have heard a pin drop at McDonalds.  I'll never forget the look at that young girl's face behind the counter either.  I'll never be able to go back there again.

Enjoy your weekend.


Lodge Secretary (For Life): A Thankless Job

Contemplating my life sentence at our installation
I'm about six months into a life term as Secretary of my lodge.  Masons think that's funny, and there's a reason for it.  Truth is, there aren't many members that really want to be the Secretary of the lodge.  It's a big job.  Those that will take it, usually wind up in the chair year after year, decade after decade, until one day, they are found, face down on their desk blotter clutching a copy of the Constitution and Bylaws in one hand, and a Notice of Petition Received in the other.
The Secretary job is an important one without question.  Master's come and go, but the Secretary remains year after year.  He's responsible for managing the lodge, and he becomes what's called "institutional knowledge" after a few years behind the desk.  He is responsible for everything from keeping the meeting minutes, to keeping the member records current.  That includes all the addresses of the members, phone numbers, emails, and knowing that Charlie goes to Florida every winter, so for three months, he wants his lodge newsletter sent there.  The official duties are rather extensive.  Secretaries keep track of all the degree work going on, are responsible for knowing the rules of the Grand Lodge, and they quickly become the person the members look to for information.  And the Secretary is usually the one that receives the call from the family when a member passes away (often late at night), and makes sure those records are updated, and works with the family to arrange the Masonic funeral rites.  Secretaries also make sure the widows are taken care of long after their husbands have passed, and we keep track of what their needs may be.  That's what we do.

It's a big job, even in a small lodge.  There are about a million forms.  Every time a petition is received--there's a Grand Lodge form.  Every time an address changes--there's a form.  Every time a degree is done--there is a form.  Then there is collecting the annual dues--lots of forms and stamps required there.  It is a lot of work, but the salary package is excellent!  It's basically the base salary times the number of years you've been a Mason.  The base salary is $0.  So in my case, the calculation is $0 x 6 years.  Okay, so basically I get reimbursed for stamps.  Oh, and Secretaries get a lot of credit too--they get credit for everything that goes wrong, and the Master gets credit for all that goes right.  I loved that rule last year, but not so much this year.  I miss my old job--I had that nice fedora, and that oak gavel, and a lovely perch on top of the dais in the East with the big chair under the "G".  And my Secretary made all those brilliant things I thought up actually happen.  You know, that same guy that talked me into being Secretary in the first place.

Now I knew I was going somewhere with this, and I just remembered what it was.  I couldn't have picked a better time to become a Secretary.  After six months of doing things the old way, I went to a meeting last week and got training on "the new way."  That was a relief to me since I've found forms that were sent to our Grand Lodge in 1920 that look exactly like the same forms I've been filling out since I was installed in June. Our Grand Lodge of Illinois is going hi-tech.  Most of the forms are going away, and I'll be able to do most of my work online now.  I'll be able to maintain member records myself instead of sending in all these forms.  Our new system will even keep track of dues payments.  I'm too embarrassed to admit how I'm doing it now--it doesn't involve stone tablets, but it's not much more sophisticated than that. 

My job is about to become much easier.  I can even print off member rosters, address labels, and reports out of this new system.  I'm very impressed.  Got to give a lot of credit to our Grand Secretary, Frank Cline!  I even overheard Frank say at that meeting he was able to update a record right from his smart phone when he ran into a Brother at a gas station with a new address.  He updated that address right into the Grand Lodge database from the cashier counter at the gas station.  I gotta get one of those smart phone thingies.  My wife has one, but it seems to make her mad--something about Angry Birds.

It's a great honor to be a lodge Secretary.  Much of the information I've gotten for my Famous American Freemasons books has come from the lodge Secretary where my famous Freemasons belonged.  I've sent hundreds of letters and emails in search of this information.  These Secretaries serve in lodges all over the United States--some are old, and some are very young.  But they are never shy about being willing to dig through the dusty musty files in search of information for me.  And they've come up with some very unique stories written  in lodge minutes. They've even scanned and sent me pages from their minutes, or scanned copies of the signature of the famous Freemason in their roster books.  Thanks to those efforts, some of the details in my books about these famous men you probably won't find anywhere else.

It's an important job.  If you're asked to be the Lodge Secretary, don't do it unless you're willing to do it right, because part of your job is writing history for your community.  And one day, those words you write might just mean the world to somebody that isn't even born yet. 

Todd E. Creason
Secretary (for life)

A Few Great Gift Ideas For Dad!

As a dad, I thought I'd help a few of you out with a few gift ideas.  Believe it or not, we love the ties and sweaters and slippers, they're lovely, but how about trying something a little different this year.  Dads are usually hard to buy for, because they don't require much.  I know buying for my dad is impossible. 

After Christmas last year, I wrote a post about one of my favorite gifts--the Keurig Coffee Maker.  I called it my "new favorite thing."  Here it is a year later, and it's still my favorite thing.  I use it every day and I still think it makes great coffee and tea.  Actually I have two of them (wife gave me one, and daughter gave me one so I guess the hints worked well)--I took one to work.  I've got a few favorites when it comes to the K-Cup varieties--my favorites include Donut House Extra Bold and Caribou Morning Blend.  But Starbucks have come out with a few that are good too--including their popular Pike's Place brew.  They've got something for any taste from very mild to "holy crap!"  And the tea selections have gotten better over the past year too--Tazo is now available in K-Cups.  A Keurig would be at the top of my list if I was looking for a gift for a java junkie.

Another nifty toy I never thought I'd like is a Nook.  I thought I was a book-reading purist, and I'd miss the tactil experience of reading on an electronic screen.  Guess what?  I don't miss paper that much.  I bought one about a year and half ago, and I'm seldom without it.  So if dad likes to read, try that, and put a few books he'd like on it so he can try it out right away, perhaps the entire Todd E. Creason library would be a good thing to load on it.  That would be my suggestion anyway.  Once he starts reading it, getting used to it takes very little time, and the inability to leave the house without it sets in almost immediately--wallet, keys, phone, Nook.

There's a couple choices to think about.  Of course there's a Nook Color, which doesn't appeal to me much because I'm a book reader, and black and white is fine for what I do.  But if dad reads a lot of magazines or comics, that color version is very nice.  And there's the new black and white reader with a touch screen (I have the old one)--the Nook Simple Touch.  If dad just reads books, that's the one you should get.  I am very, very tempted by that one (the guy at Barnes & Noble let me borrow one during my visit the other day.)  I'll probably wind up with one eventually, but I still like the one I have.

You know another thing dad might like--a nice hat.  Delmonico Hatter has a great selection, and I highly recommend them as an online seller.  Their service in impeccible, and they carry everything from western hats, to fedoras, Stetsons to Tilleys.  I'd recommend a nice wool winter hat--I've been wearing a Tilley winter hat for about a month now, and I just love it.  It's toasty warm, and very comfortable.  There are a number of different models, find one you think dad would like, and get it for him.  The bonus is you can do this without leaving the house--they ship right to your door, and usually the shipping is free.

And if you don't know his hat size, there's an easy way to get it.  Find a hat he wears all the time.  If it's fitted (like a western hat or a higher end ball cap) the size will be inside the rim.  If it's one of those "one size fits all" adjustable numbers, borrow moms sewing tape measure and measure around the inside rim of the hat--there is a chart that will convert that inch measurement to hat size.  Easy huh?  And if you'd like to buy your favorite author a hat, that's a 7 3/8. 

So take good care of dad this year, and have a Merry Christmas,


My Favorite Harry S Truman Story

Harry & Bess Truman
I don't know how many times I've opened with this story over the years, but it's one of my favorites. 

Harry Truman made a speech at the Washington Garden Club. He gave credit for his beautiful flowers to the good "manure" he used to fertilize them. The prim and proper ladies didn't think much of the President's repeated use of the word "manure." 

One of them said something to the First Lady, Bess Truman.  She asked Bess if she could make him stop using the word "manure."  It was a vulgar word in their opinion, and he was, afterall, the President of the United States.

Bess replied, "Heavens no! It took me twenty-five years to get him to say 'manure.'"


Take A Few Minutes Every Day To Broaden Your Horizons

"There is nothing so stupid as the educated man if you get him off the thing he was educated in."

~Will Rogers
Claremore Lodge No. 53, Oklahoma

People have a tendency to stick with the things that interest them.  It's only natural to study and learn about the things that you find endlessly fascinating, but at the same time, it can be a little limiting.  I try to take a little time each day to explore the world, and it's way easier to do now than it was twenty years ago.  These little daily adventures over the years have lead to me to become interested in a number of subjects (not just Freemasonry and American history).  In fact, my original interest in Freemasonry came from surfing expeditions I did after seeing the movie National Treasure.  Then I started reading, then there was a petition, three degrees, authored three books, Scottish Rite, York Rite . . . But it wasn't too many years ago when I had no interest in the topic of Freemasonry at all because it hadn't managed to hit my radar, and now, I can't imagine a life without it.

Which is why I love books like this.  The Intellectual Devotional provides a very easy way to learn something about an area you otherwise may never be exposed to.  And you can do that every day in just a few minutes--these short readings are a page each.  I found these several years ago, and I think there are about five of them now.  There are 365 short readings, one for each day of the week, a different subject each day, and if you read one each night before going to bed, it's remarkable how much you can pick up.  I think there are five of these collections now.

This isn't the only book of this ilk.  There's also the Bedside Baccallaureate series--I think there are two of those.  The title might be a bit of an over-reach, but it's full of short lessons on a variety of topics too.  But books aren't the only place you can can get a quick daily fix of learning.  Years ago I had a calendar that would offer up one interesting fact about science each day.  There are website that I enjoy like American History Fun Facts.  I love collections of useless information.  I have dozens of quote books (and I put some of my favorites together in my own collection called A Freemason Said That?)  

It's a big world out there--take a little time out from your day to day life and explore it.  You might just be surprised at what you find out there that interests you.  You might just find, like I did, something you don't even know exists yet that could change the course of your life forever.


Happy Birthday Bro. Mark Twain!

"There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded."

~Mark Twain
Polar Star Lodge No. 79
St. Louis, MO 

We all know that blowhard that never stops bragging about the things he does.  How much money he makes.  How many good works he does.  How much he donates to charity.  They are all over the internet.  He's the guy the spends more time talking about the volunteer work he does than actually doing any. 

I grew up being taught that true charity was something you didn't brag about.  It was something that should be done quietly because it's not really about you.  It's one thing to bring attention to an important cause (I do that all the time), but it is quite another to use that cause to advertise what a wonderful person you are. 

Every year around this time, we read about gold coins found in Salvation Army buckets.  We read about some anonymous secret Santa that gives away thousands of dollars, a hundred dollar bill at a time, to needy people.  We don't know who those people are because they don't do it for themselves, they do those things because its something they believe in.  I think that's what I like about Freemasonry--the fact much of the work Fremasons do nobody ever sees.  That's the true spirit of giving--not that jerk that posts on his Facebook "Hope you all enjoyed the football game while I just spent three hours serving meals to the homeless."  Oh, brother.

Yesterday marked what would have been Mark Twain's 176th birthday.  It wouldn't take a genius to figure out that he's one of my favorite authors as much as I quote him on The Midnight Freemason.  There are three great sources of American wisdom when it comes to finding quotes--there's Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, and Will Rogers.  Those are my "go-to" guys when I need a good one.  And of course, all three of those men were Freemasons.