A Fine Paradox: Christianity and Freemasonry

by Guest Contributor
Steve Harrison 

Masonic altar with three books of faith
I am a Christian.    It's none of your business, mind you, but it probably is pertinent to any slant I might put on what I'm about to say.  And apparently, the jury is still out on my belief system anyway.  Why?  Well, I've been personally told, "You're not really a Christian because you're a __________ (insert any Christian denomination which is not your own)."  And we've all heard this one: "You can't be a Christian because you're a Freemason."

I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank anyone who has ever told me those things for clarifying to me what I think and believe.  There was a time in my life when I thought that was between God and me, but I'm so grateful you have set me straight.  Sarcasm aside, some Christians, it seems, want me to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ but get really upset when I keep it personal.

Having said all that, let me drop the bombshell: Freemasonry is not a Christian organization.  When the cries of "heathen" die down in response to that I'll continue to say there are many reading this who would think, "Well, that's so obvious I don't even know why he would say it." The rest of you are probably the ones shouting "heathen."

What a fine paradox. Some think we can't be Christians if we are Freemasons and some think Freemasonry should promote Christianity.

Without dropping some dry statistics, let me just acknowledge I live in an area which is predominately Christian.  Many even include it in the so-called "Bible Belt."  So being a part of an organization that requires a belief in God and living where I do, it's not much of a surprise to see many of my Brothers emphasize the Christian influences in our fraternity; not just in our ritual, but also in our activities.  How many times have you been to a Lodge dinner when someone wraps up a prayer "in the name of Christ?"  This happens so often in my area that a couple of years ago two former Grand Masters (one a minister in a Christian denomination, one Jewish) along with an eminent RWB asked me to reprint a Masonic Service Association "Short Talk" article about its inappropriateness. The gist of the article was, "Stop praying Christian prayers in our Lodges... it embarrasses and perhaps even humiliates our Brethren of other faiths."

Another  piece from the Masonic Service Association of North America puts it concisely: "Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. It requires of its members a belief in God as part of the obligation of every responsible adult, but advocates no sectarian faith or practice. Masonic ceremonies include prayers, both traditional and extempore, to reaffirm each individual's dependence on God and to seek divine guidance. Freemasonry is open to men of any faith, but religion may not be discussed at Masonic meetings."

The same, I might add, is true for the publications I edit: No discussion or promotion of religion.  And if you're sitting there thinking, "He just said we shouldn't talk about religion but wrote a whole column about it," respectfully, you missed the point... that point being Freemasonry certainly includes Christianity, but it is an ecumenical group.  Those among us who have a hard time with that should heed this observation from one of our most famous Brothers, especially when sitting in Lodge:

 "So much blood has been shed by the Church because of an omission from the Gospel: 'Ye shall be indifferent as to what your neighbor's religion is.'  Not merely tolerant of it, but indifferent to it. Divinity is claimed for many religions; but no religion is great enough or divine enough to add that new law to its code." 

 ~Samuel Clemens


Steve Harrison is a 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 Junior Warden.  He also posts regularly to his blog The One Minute Mason which is a collection of short scenarios about items of interest to Masons, and has frequently been featured on The Midnight Freemason.

The York Rite: A Video By Robert Johnson

Here's another video produced by one of The Midnight Freemasons regular contributors Sir Knight Robert Johnson about the York Rite.  If you scroll down to the bottom, you'll find his other video Whence Came You? in case you missed it--it's also excellent.  Robert is also the producer and voice of the podcast Whence Came You? 



A Video: Whence Came You?

This is a video produced by Sir Knight Robert Johnson.  Robert is the producer and voice of the podcast Whence Came You? which I've talked about on here frequently.  In fact, there is a player in the right-hand of The Midnight Freemason.  You can listen to Robert's podcasts as you peruse the posts here.

And now here comes the fun part!  Robert Johnson is joining us as a regular contributor!  He'll be posting articles on The Midnight Freemason on a regular basis.  As I told you earlier, Robert--welcome to the asylum.


Sir Knight Robert Johnson is a Freemason out of the First North-East District of Illinois. He belongs to Waukegan Lodge No. 78. He is also a member of the York Rite bodies Royal Arch, Cryptic Council and Knights Templar. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts a weekly Podcast (internet radio program) Whence Came You? which focuses on topics relating to Freemasonry. In addition, produces video shorts focusing on driving interest in the Fraternity and writes original Masonic papers from time to time. He is a husband and father of three. He works full time in the safety industry and is also a photographer on the side as well as an avid home brewer. He is also working on two books, one is of a Masonic nature.

Benjamin Franklin's Virtues Week 3: Resolution

This is the third in a series of articles about the 13 Virtues of Benjamin Franklin


Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

Benjamin Franklin included resolution as one of his virtues, because he knew that by mastering it, he would master all the others as well. Resolution is about finishing what you start, and about accomplishing what you set out to do.

We’ve all heard the expression; don’t let your mouth write a check your ass can’t cash. Before you take something on, give serious consideration to whether or not it can actually be accomplished. We often have a difficult time saying no, and as a result, we wind up in situations where we can’t possibly do all the things we intended to do.

Decide those things that are important, and focus on them. Resolve to complete every task to the best of your ability before taking on more. Don’t take on more than you can possibly do. Nobody wants to be described as that person that “talks a good game, but doesn’t deliver.” In many ways, resolve it at the heart of the reputation we have. We are either a person that does what they say they’ll do, and accomplishes what we’ve promised—or we are not.

Which one are you?


This is one of a series of Wednesday posting that examine Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues he believed necessary to achieve moral perfection.  You can find all the related articles by searching the blog under the “Franklin’s Virtues” label.

How Do I Become A Freemason?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Uncle Benjamin

Over the years, The Midnight Freemason has talked a lot about what Freemasonry is, and about famous Freemasons, and about different groups within Freemasonry.  But I don't remember Todd ever talking about how to become a Freemason.

Freemasonry is a fraternity of adult men, who all share a basic moral philosophy, and a desire to improve ourselves.  Freemasonry strengthens the moral character of our members through our three major tenants:  Brotherly Love, Truth, and Relief.  We believe strongly in building moral character, in fact, the main goal of a Freemason is to become a better man.  Those three tenants are strengthened through education, leadership, and charitable activity.

If you're interested in becoming a better man, there is no better place to begin your journey than with a lodge of Freemasons. To join, you need only ask a Master Mason, and the requirements of membership are quite simple:
-You must be an adult.  In most places, that is 18 years of age. 
-You must have a belief in a Supreme Being. Atheists need not apply, but men of any religious affiliation are welcome. 
-You must be of good character.  In other words, a law-abiding citizen with a good reputation. 
-You must apply of your own free will.   In other words, you're not joining because of undo pressure from friends or family.  It has to be your own choice to petition for membership.
-You must be recommended.  That means, a Master Mason needs to vouch for your character--a friend, a family member or co-worker.  If you don't know a Mason, you need only contact a local lodge, and they will be more than happy to talk to you, get to know you, and if you meet the basic requirements, sponsor your petition.  If you ask, you'll probably be surprised to learn you know more Masons than you thought.

Once you've meet those basic requirements, you will fill out a petition and submit it to a lodge of Freemasons.  Your petition for the degrees of Freemasonry will be read in open lodge by the lodge Secretary, and the Master of that lodge will appoint a committee to investigate you.  But don't worry, that's not as ominous as it sounds.  Basically, a small group of Masons will meet with you and satisfy themselves that you meet those basic qualifications.  Once they report back favorably to the Master that you are well qualified to join, the lodge will vote on you as a member, and once the lodge votes unanimously to elect you (and yes, it's true, we use black and white marbles), you will begin receiving the three degrees of Freemasonry.

Those degrees are Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and finally, the degree of Master Mason.  There is no higher degree than that of Master Mason.  There are additional degrees offered by the York Rite, and the Scottish Rite, and other appendant bodies of Freemasonry (most people have heard of a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, a Shriner, or a member of the Knights Templar). You can choose to join those groups or not.  These are additional degrees, and each a great honor to receive, but the highest degree of Freemasonry is that of Master Mason that you will receive in your local lodge (also known as a Craft Lodge, or Blue Lodge).

The rules and the processes involved in joining a lodge and becoming a Master Mason may seem archaic, but as the world's oldest fraternity, that is our tradition, and it's worked very well for us for centuries in countries all over the world.  That's unlikely to change any time soon.

So that is the basic process, and it begins much as our little saying goes--2B1ASK1.

WB Sean McBride (left) and Midnight Freemason
 founder, Todd Creason, after he was installed as
 Worshipful Master in 2010
I'd only add one thing to this.  When I was raised a Master Mason, I thought I'd graduated.  I thought I'd attained my ultimate goal.  Little did I know at the time, that I'd only just begun.  For many Freemasons, being raised a Master Mason puts us on a very different path in life.  If you let it, it can change your life. It can change you for the better. Freemasonry will make you a better man if you're willing to allow it to.

If you're interested in joining, either ask a Master Mason you know, contact your local lodge, or do a simple Google search for the Grand Lodge in your state or jurisdiction (we may be archaic in our ritual traditions, but we're all on the internet these days). The Grand Lodge in your jurisdiction will put you in contact with a lodge secretary close to you, and he'll contact you and get you started.

Or you can just contact The Midnight Freemason himself. Todd Creason is a lodge secretary, and he can put you in contact with the Grand Lodge of any jurisdiction in the world. Just be sure to tell him where you live.

You can contact Todd at webmaster@toddcreason.org for that information, or you can post any questions on here, and I'll be happy to answer them.

~Uncle Ben

Uncle Benjamin is a historian, published author, blogger, and a political pundit. He's also a Freemason--a Past Master, member of the Scottish Rite, and a Shriner. He's the member of several Masonic research lodges, and research societies.  Uncle Benjamin has been a periodic contributor to The Midnight Freemason for several years.

Freemason Wisdom: John Wayne On Bullies

Big Duke & Little Duke

“I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them."

~John Wayne from The Shootist
Marion McDaniel Lodge No. 56
Tuscon, Arizona

It's hard to believe, but even "The Duke" was razzed and picked on by bullies on the playground.  It wasn't easy growing up with the name Marion.  "Defending that first name taught me to fight at an early age," John Wayne once remarked.

He earned his nickname when his family moved to California in 1911.  His constant companion was the family Airedale, and the local fireman, who watched him pass the firehouse each day, began calling the dog "Big Duke" and the boy "Little Duke."  The name stuck.  When he showed up at the firehouse one day with a black eye and a split lip, one of the firefighters, an ex-boxer, began teaching Little Duke to defend himself.  It wasn't long before the bullying stopped.  "I really looked up to those guys. They were heroes in my book," John Wayne remembered.

We live in a world today that spends a lot of time talking about bullying, and trying to eliminate it from schools and playgrounds--but it's always going to be a fact of life.  There's always going to be that overly assertive person trying to punch your buttons--and sometimes pacifism isn't the answer.  It's important not only to teach our kids not to be bullies, but also how to stand up for themselves when it inevitably happens.

Some people my age and older have a different view of the problem  Many of us had that one defining moment back in school when they finally got tired of dealing with a bully, and turned on them.  I had this conversation with a few of my old friends.  Each had a moment like that, they still remember the bully's name, and remember the look on the bully's face when they finally got fed up and confronted them.  They remember it as an defining moment in their life--the moment they stopped being the victim.  When they realized the pain of a black eye hurts a lot less than living their life in fear.

And it doesn't just happen to kids--there are grown-up bullies as well.  Most of us know one.  Most who had that defining moment in youth know how to deal with people like that--those who didn't wind up being pushed around by them even as adults.

Kids learn a lot on the playground--not all of it is pleasant.  By removing adversity, are we making our kids stronger, or weaker? 


Join The Team: Do You Have An Idea For The Midnight Freemason?

I announced a couple weeks ago I was taking a break--a little hiatus to finish my degree.  It's going to take me a couple years.  My original plan was not only to take a break from writing books, but to cut down on my weekly posts on The Midnight Freemason.  But over the last six months, interest in this blog has been increasing each month (nearly doubling each month in fact), and I've been having some second thoughts about cutting back.  I've worked hard on this blog, and I'd hate to let it slide just when the interest in it seems to be on the rise--so I've come up with a different idea.

Instead of cutting back on one voice (mine), I'm going to open it up to many more voices.  The Midnight Freemason is going post at least three times a week and be written by a number of weekly contributors for the next couple years--I'll go down to just one post a week.  I have a few regular guest contributors lined up--and I need a couple more. 

So now is your big chance.  Read my Guidelines For Guest Submission.  Got an idea?  A post can be anything though--it can be a quote, a short story about a famous Freemason (Brother Harrison, the One Minute Mason has mastered that format), or it can even be a link to a video.  Have you visited a historic lodge, or taken a great photo?  Write a short story about it, and send it to me at webmaster@toddcreason.org.  These posts have to be original content--NO RE-POSTED CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND ATTRIBUTION AND LINKS BACK TO THE ORIGINAL POST.

And I'm still looking for one or two more weekly guest contributors--want to post a regular article each week?  Send me an e-mail with your idea and a sample article, and you, too, could be a regular.  You may even get your own day.

But please--read the guidelines. I'm looking for unique content.  Personal stories.  Unique perspectives.  Items that fit in nicely and will be of general interest to readers of the blog.  I'm looking for ideas that make people think, educate them about something they didn't know, or take them someplace they've never been. 

You're thinking about something--aren't you?  Email me at webmaster@toddcreason.org


Benjamin Franklin's Virtues Week 2: Order

This is the second in a series of articles about the 13 Virtues of Benjamin Franklin


Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

Benjamin Franklin wanted to get more out of his life, and he knew the key to that was organization. He knew if he wanted to get the really big things done, he’d have to make sure the little things didn’t get in the way. So he worked on making sure he had a place for everything, and kept everything in its place.

You would think in a world of computers, ability to maintain organization and order would be easier, but it’s not. With new technology come new distractions, and mankind, as it always has, struggles to stay organized, manage their time, and make sure a million tiny details don’t overcome us at any given time.

So this week, as you consider this virtue, take a few minutes each day, and plan out your day. Take a few minutes each morning to get organized. Take a few minutes to contemplate if you’re reaching those big goals in your life, or if you’re mired down into the day to day struggles with the small ones.

Isn’t it time to get your house in order?


This is one of a series of Wednesday posting that examine Benjamin Franklin’ 13 Virtues he believed necessary to achieve moral perfection.  You can find all the related articles by searching the blog under the “Franklin’s Virtues” label.

Inside Naval Lodge No. 4, Washington, D.C.

by Guest Contributor 
W.M. Gregory J. Knott
St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 (IL)

Naval Lodge No. 4
There is nothing more exciting than a trip to our nation’s capital, Washington D.C.  This city is alive with the history of our past and with those of the present who are making the history of our future.  For Freemasons visiting D.C. there are numerous sites to see such as the Scottish Rite House of the Temple, the George Washington National Memorial in Alexandria, VA and the Order of the Eastern Star International Headquarters

Not only can you visit these magnificent structures, you also have the opportunity to visit any one of number of lodges in the District, which is under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, Free Ancient Accepted Masons, which was founded in 1811.

Unique winding staircase
On my recent trip, I visited Naval Lodge No 4.  Naval Lodge is actually older than the Grand Lodge of D.C., having been founded on May 14, 1805 under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Maryland.  When the Grand Lodge of D.C. was established, it came under their jurisdiction. 

If you have read Dan Brown’s novel The Lost Symbol, you know that Naval Lodge was featured in his book and may also appear in the upcoming movie.  Naval Lodge owns its lodge building located at 330 Pennsylvania SE, Washington, D.C.  This building is very unique and the lodge is located on the 4th floor--the other floors in the building are rented by tenants.  To get to the fourth floor, you can either take the elevator or the very unique staircase.  The elevator is a small hand-operated elevator believed to be the oldest operating elevator in D.C.  On lodge nights, one of the brethren is on hand to work the elevator.    The stairwell is seemingly interwoven into the building and as you gaze up from the bottom, you can see the bannisters of each level above you.

Upon my arrival, I was greeted warmly by the Brethren of Naval Lodge.  I rode the historic elevator up to the fourth floor, got off and entered the dining room.  The dining room was simple, yet functional, and we had a fine dinner prior to the meeting.

Naval Lodge No. 4 Lodge Room
With D.C. being such a transient city, most of the Naval Lodge members are from other parts of the country.  This creates real diversity within its membership--the night of my visit, I spoke with Brethren working on Capitol Hill, members of the military, small business owners and federal employees.  Naval Lodge like many others is in the midst of a rebirth of sorts.  The membership is young and energetic.  There were ten Fellowcrafts going through the degrees.  Quite a turnaround, since one member told me that just a few years ago, Naval Lodge was about to close its doors forever.

Beautiful vaulted ceiling with starry sky above
After dinner, we adjourned to the Lodge Room.  This room is nothing short of spectacular and is based on ancient Egyptian themes.  It has a towering 2-story tall vaulted ceiling with a starry decked sky in the center, and a singular alter light far overhead.  This is surrounded by a series of Egyptian eagles in gold.  The Masters station in the East contains an alcove which is painted with a historical mural in the rear.  There is an obelisk on each side with an arch painted with numerous hieroglyphics on each side.  The letter "G" appears in blue above the Masters chair.

Naval Lodge altar featuring three books of faith
The Senior and Junior Warden’s station are also high ornate, with the Senior Warden's station being the most ornate.  His station is surrounded by 2 pillars, and behind the Senior Warden's chair there is another mural.  In the center of the room is the altar, sitting on a mosaic pavement, and surrounded by the three lesser lights.  Upon the altar rests several books of faith representing the religious diversity of the membership. 

It was a great visit and the brethren of Naval Lodge should be commended for reinvigorating their lodge membership and preparing this historic lodge for another 207 years of Freemasonry.   Should you find yourself in Washington D.C., Naval Lodge meets the 1st and 3rd Thursday’s at 7:30pm with dinner served before the meeting at 6:30pm. 

I wish to thank the Brethren of Naval Lodge for a great visit and I hope to sit in lodge with them again in the near future.


I'd like to thank Bro. Gregory J. Knott for sharing this story with us--I've been pestering him for a long time to write a piece.  He has the opportunity to travel quite a bit, and always visits Masonic Lodges during his travels, and other places of interest to Masons.  He always has great stories to tell--and great photos, too.  Greg has agreed to become a regular contributor to The Midnight Freemason.  I think you'll enjoy both his photographs, and the stories he has to tell about the places he's visited.  I'm looking forward to this partnership--Greg's going to take us to a lot of interesting places.  

Greg is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph, Illinois and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754, and Homer Lodge No. 199.  Greg is also a charter member (and Secretary) of the soon-to-be chartered Illini High Twelve Chapter No. 768 in Champaign-Urbana (IL)--a little project he and I have been working on for some time.  Greg is also very involved in Boy Scouts--an Eagle Scout himself, he serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois as their representative to the National Association of Masonic Scouters.


RMS Titanic: The Amazing Story Of Brother Oscar Woody

by Guest Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

It was 100 years ago that the fabled ship RMS Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean near Newfoundland, Canada in 1912.  1,514 person perished aboard the Titanic, many found floating in the ice-cold waters waiting to be rescued.  The Titanic was touted as unsinkable and it failed to have enough life boats for the passengers and crew--and many truly believed the claims that Titanic was unsinkable as many of those lifeboats were far from full when they were launched.

Bro. Oscar Woody
The Grand Lodge of Maryland Museum is featuring a special exhibit this weekend about a Virginia Freemason Oscar Woody, who served as Postal Clerk on the Titanic and died in the disaster and Ada Perrine who was married to a Freemason and lived at the Maryland Masonic Grand Lodge Home.
Brother Woody was a member of Acacia Lodge No. 16 in Clifton, Virginia.  He was one of five postal clerks aboard the Titanic who refused to leave their jobs and kept moving the mail the ship was carrying to the upper decks even as the Titanic slowly sank.  Their dedication has become legendary amongst the postal service.  In 2004 President George W. Bush signed a Bill designating the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 223 South Main Street in Roxboro, NC. as the "Oscar Scott Woody Post Office Building".   Each year in April, Acacia Lodge passes a resolution honoring Brother Woody and they invite a local postal official to have dinner with them to remember his heroism and dedication.  

His body was later found and was buried at sea.  Amongst the items found on Brother Woody, were his Masonic dues card, his watch and a Masonic pocket knife.

Photos from the Smithsonian Institute website
I've reposted this piece from Bro. Greg Knott's blog, Eastern Illinois Freemasonry--I thought it was excellent.  Even in the midst of such a horrific tragedy, many stories of valor were reported--this is but one of many of those amazing stories.  

I read earlier this week, that had Titanic hit the iceberg head on, even at the speed it was traveling, there's every possibility it could have remained afloat because of the water-tight doors--several of those compartments could be flooded and still allowed Titanic to remain buoyant.  But because Titanic tried to steer around the iceberg, the iceberg raked the entire side of the ship, opening the hull across several of those water-tight compartments--the ship had no chance of staying afloat. 

If you enjoyed this piece, I have good news for you.  Bro. Knott, the author, has agreed to be a regular guest contributor to The Midnight Freemason.  He's an excellent photographer, and visits many places I think you'll enjoy seeing through his photographs, and hearing about through his commentary.  You'll get your first chance to see his work on Monday, when Greg tells us about his visit to Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, D. C.--with some truly remarkable photos!

Benjamin Franklin's Virtues Week 5: Tranquility

This is the fifth in a series of articles about the 13 Virtues of Benjamin Franklin

Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

Every day we encounter distractions, annoyances, and conflict. It’s inevitable. We have no control over these things, but we do have the ability to control how we react to them.
We all know that person that tries to control every situation, and winds up not only driving themselves crazy, but everyone around them as well. What is actually very simple and easy for most people becomes very complicated for them, because they make it that way. But there are very few things in the everyday course of life that are actually complicated. The simpler you keep your life, the less stress you’re going to feel, and the happier and more relaxed you’ll become.

There are things within your power to change, and there are things that are outside your ability to change. Focus on those things you can change, and let everything else go. If you can come to that acceptance, you’ll find there is a lot less stress in your life.

And when you’re calm and tranquil, when you stop worrying about those things that don’t matter very much, you’ll find you weather the real problems that come up much easier.


This is one of a series of Wednesday postings that examine Benjamin Franklin’ 13 Virtues he believed necessary to achieve moral perfection.  You can find all the related articles by searching the blog under the “Franklin’s Virtues” label.

Benjamin Franklin's Virtues Week 6: Silence

This is the sixth in a series of articles about Benjamin Franklin's Virtues:


Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself;
avoid trifling conversation.

Sadly, polite manners and common sense have not kept pace with the modern technological developments of our rapidly changing society. In the world of Facebook, Twitter, cellphones and text messaging, many Americans spend so much time focused on themselves, and talking about themselves, and how wonderful they are, they seem to forget that other people exist at all.

We don’t listen to each other anymore. We’re so busy talking that we’ve forgotten than God gave us one mouth, but two ears. We’ve become a very selfish society, where it is perfectly acceptable to answer a phone call and have a loud discussion in a movie theater. Where it’s perfectly fine to block traffic in a busy intersection while you answer a text message. Where it is not considered rude by many to play ‘Angry Birds’ on your iPhone instead of listening to a presentation a co-worker spent weeks putting together.

Give yourself a break. Go off-line one day this week. Leave your cellphone at home. Stay off Facebook and Twitter. Give the ‘Angry Birds’ a rest. Notice the things going on around you for a change, and live in the real world for just one day. Listen to what other people say. Read what other people have written. Think about what you’re saying before you say it.

You might just realize after re-introducing yourself to the real world again, that it’s not all about you. You learn much more by listening than speaking.

This is one of a series of Wednesday postings that examine the 13 Virtues Benjamin Franklin believed necessary to achieve moral perfection.  You can find all the related articles by searching the blog under the “Franklin’s Virtues” label.

Benjamin Franklin's Virtues Week 8: Moderation

This is the eight in a series of articles about Benjamin Franklin's Virtues:


Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

We’ve all had that experience of a new relationship. In the beginning, you can’t keep your hands off each other, but as time passes, soon you grow listless and bored as the electricity begins to fizzle out of the physical side of the relationship, and you realize there isn't much more there.

Or a new restaurant opens in your neighborhood, and you eat there constantly in the beginning.  It's not long before you begin tiring of it, and you start looking for other places to eat again.

Or you go on vacation to a beautifully breathtaking place, and for the first few days, you’re absolutely awed by the scenery. But by the time you leave a couple weeks later, you’ve gotten used to it.

We're all about finding new forms of stimulation, and we think the more we get the better off we are.  But in truth, we quickly we get used to things, and since we have a tendency to overdo everything, we quickly become numb to the things that once gave us so much pleasure.

We’re wired that more is better. We want more fun. More sex. More beer. More food. More money. More recreation.  More stuff. But the more we get of those things, the less we seem to enjoy them, and the less satisfied we are.  We all know somebody that seems to have it all, and yet, they don't seem happy.  How could that possibly be, you wonder.  You think if you had all the things they did, you could certainly find happiness--right?

That’s because the secret to fulfillment isn’t excess—it’s moderation.

This week, take a break from seeking new stimulation, and reconnect with the things around you that you’ve grown numb to. Notch things down a little bit, and learn to live in the moment. Appreciate the night sky. Stop wolfing down your food, and try and appreciate the flavors and textures. Turn off the television, and fall into a novel. Rediscover an old CD you haven’t listened to for a long time. Go outside, without your iPod, and enjoy the simple pleasures of the natural world around you.

We’re often victims of too much stimulation, and we get little enjoyment out of the things that should give us the most pleasure. Take a fast from stimulation—reserve those things you enjoy the most as rewards, and you’ll get more enjoyment out of them. You’ll find the anticipation of that treat is almost as good as the treat itself.

This is one of a series of Wednesday postings that examine the 13 Virtues Benjamin Franklin believed necessary to achieve moral perfection. You can find all the related articles by searching the blog under the “Franklin’s Virtues” label.

Benjamin Franklin's Virtues Week 13: Humility

This is the thirteenth in a series of articles about Benjamin Franklin's virtues:


"Imitate Jesus and Socrates."

Most people misunderstand what it means to show humility.  It doesn't mean you have to be timid.  It is simply the absence of pride--and it's not that easy.  Benjamin Franklin was the first to admit that humility (and maybe one or two other of his virtues) was the one he had the most difficult time with. 
We're taught to be proud of the the things we accomplish.  We live in a world where we're taught than being accomplished is important--so when we accomplish something, we're anxious to brag about it.

Of course, in our Twitter and FaceBook saturated culture, it's all about "me, me, me . . ."  We believe the world begins and ends with our last post, or our last tweet.  We believe there are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, waiting in anticipation in cyberspace for our next update.

You may be chuckling right now.  But I think it's very American to have a difficult time showing humility.  Try something this week.  Try going a whole week without talking about yourself, taking credit for something, or bragging about something you accomplished.  You might find it a little more difficult than you thought.


This is one of a series of Wednesday postings that examine the 13 Virtues Benjamin Franklin believed necessary to achieve moral perfection. You can find all the related articles by searching the blog under the “Franklin’s Virtues” label.

Benjamin Franklin's Virtues Week 12: Chastity

This is the twelth in a series of articles about Benjamin Franklin's virtues:


"Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation."

Perhaps the concept of chastity is outdated in our new modern society.  We live in a world where sex is everywhere.  It's used to sell goods and services, it's all over the internet, all over television, and the idea of waiting until marriage to have sex is laughable to many today.

But it doesn't seem like we're better off living in a world where sex is meaningless--just look at our divorce rate.  In our hook-up culture, we look at dating and sex the same way we look at buying a car--we're not going to buy a car without taking it for a test drive.  And after we buy that car, we'll drive it for a few years, until something goes wrong or it fails to thrill us anymore, and then we'll just trade it for another (perhaps a newer model.) 

The problem is, casual sex doesn't prepare us for settling into a meaningful relationship, in fact, it makes it more difficult for men to settle down, and give up the fun and adventure of new conquests.  It's also very hard for a "player" to find someone to be in a relationship with, due to his reputation and sexual history.  It's going to be hard to find a nice girl to settle down with someday that's going to forgive you for your numerous sexual partners--let alone ever trust you knowing your past behavior around the opposite sex. 

It would be a difficult sell to convince a young man to think twice about jumping into bed with the first female that winks at him, but it's worth thinking about.


This is one of a series of Wednesday postings that examine the 13 Virtues Benjamin Franklin believed necessary to achieve moral perfection.  You can find all the related articles by searching the blog under the “Franklin’s Virtues” label.

Benjamin Franklin's Virtues Week 11: Justice

This is the eleventh in a series of articles about Benjamin Franklin's virtues:


"Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty."

The concept of justice has been argued by philosophers for centuries, but it basically boils down to making sure everyone gets what they have coming to them.  If you do a day's work, you should receive a day's wages in a just world.  If you wrong somebody, you should be punished in a just world.  It means paying people fairly.  It's about not expecting people to do extra work without proper compensation.  It's about making sure that justice is blind, and the same punishments are distributed fairly for the same crimes.

We too often see justice as something our legal system or our government is responsible for ensuring, but we're all responsible to ensure that justice is served.  We see a co-worker treated badly and say nothing.  We hire somebody to do a job for us at far below what we know the job's worth.  We see somebody discriminated against and do nothing to rectify the situation.  We know somebody is guilty of a crime and say nothing because we don't want to get involved.

We can't depend on the police, the courts, and the government to provide justice.  If we want to live in a just society, we, as individuals have to take an active role.


This is one of a series of Wednesday postings that examine the 13 Virtues Benjamin Franklin believed necessary to achieve moral perfection.  You can find all the related articles by searching the blog under the “Franklin’s Virtues” label.

Benjamin Franklin's Virtues Week 10: Cleanliness

This is the tenth in a series of articles about Benjamin Franklin's virtues:


"Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation."

I'm often a little surprised by how people show up for work these days.  Wearing a shirt that looks like it's been slept in, flip-flops, and three days growth on their face.  Then they complain about their job.

We may live in a more relaxed society than we once were, but don't fool yourselves that appearance is no longer important.  How we present ourselves is just as important as ever, and first impressions are still hard to overcome. If you present yourself as a disheveled disaster, that's the idea people are going to get about you.  And as relaxed as our society is, I still don't see a time when a big cobra tattoo on your neck isn't going to hold you back in the business world.

Having a good appearance not only helps to make a first impression, but it makes us feel good about ourselves.  It makes us feel more confident.  It tells our co-workers and our employers that we take our work seriously.  As a wise manager once told me, "you don't dress for the job you have, you dress for the job you want."
Think about that tomorrow morning as you're getting ready for work.

This is one of a series of Wednesday postings that examine the 13 Virtues Benjamin Franklin believed necessary to achieve moral perfection.  You can find all the related articles by searching the blog under the “Franklin’s Virtues” label.

Benjamin Franklin's Virtues Week 7: Industry

This is the seventh in a series of articles about Benjamin Franklin's Virtues:


Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

One thing has not changed since Benjamin Franklin’s day. People are easily distracted, and predisposed to waste time if given the opportunity. We’ve never in our history had more ways to waste time than today. We have more free time than ever. We have television, movies, handheld devices, computer games, Facebook, Twitter, vacations, concerts . . . there is no shortage of things we can do to entertain ourselves. And we do.

But it doesn’t stop people from complaining about the fact they never have enough time to do the things they want to accomplish in life. Benjamin Franklin’s answer to that? Don’t waste time. Focus on the things you want in life, and pay attention to how your spending your time.

Ben Franklin had a little schedule he carried around with him. It reminded him how he should be focusing his time. He set time aside for work. Time for meals. Time for recreational pursuits. And time for rest. He worked hard to make sure the time he wasted he kept at a minimum—and look at the things he accomplished in his life.

Another of America’s Founding Fathers well-known for his industriousness had this to say about it.

“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.”

~Thomas Jefferson

Spend some time this week thinking about where you waste your time—is it television? Facebook? Computer games? Give it up for a week and spend that time in pursuit of those goals you want to accomplish. See what can do in just a week, if you eliminate those frivolous distractions that occupy so much of your time.

This is one of a series of Wednesday postings that examine the 13 Virtues Benjamin Franklin believed necessary to achieve moral perfection.  You can find all the related articles by searching the blog under the “Franklin’s Virtues” label.

Benjamin Franklin's Virtues Week 9: Sincerity

This is the ninth in a series of article about Benjamin Franklin's virtues:


Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

Often sincerity is confused with earnestness--genuine interest in those things a person professes to be interested in.  But actually sincerity is the absence of deceit.  In other words, honesty. 

Sincerity isn't just about telling the truth, it's also about being trustworthy.  About earning people's faith in you by being a person that keeps his confidences and avoids deceit.  Without a doubt, Franklin felt that honesty and integrity were the marks of true character.

We live in a world where we don't think much about what we say or do.  Almost as soon as we have a thought, we slap it up on Facebook or Twitter it without any consideration about what it says about others, or what it says about us.  When people don't agree with us, instead of trying to see the world from their perspective, we attack them.  We don't think much about how our actions reflect on our character.  We live in a no-regrets society where bad behavior is perfectly acceptable.

Back in Franklin's day, men worked a lot harder on building a solid reputation, and strove to be known as men of good character.  And while without question they misbehaved, said things they later regretted, and may have made some of the same errors we do today, they seemed to be a lot closer to their core values than we are today.

Of course, back in that day, if you insulted someone's character, you might find yourself facing off with them in a duel.  That was back when character meant something, and it was so important to maintain, you'd defend it at risk of death.

This is one of a series of Wednesday postings that examine the 13 Virtues Benjamin Franklin believed necessary to achieve moral perfection. You can find all the related articles by searching the blog under the “Franklin’s Virtues” label.

Freemason Wisdom: Brad Paisley On Relationships

You have to admire a man who keeps his priorities in order--like Bro. Brad Paisley from Hiram Lodge No. 4 in Franklin, Tennessee.  We've all thought it from time to time, but it took a true visionary to actually say it!

Enjoy your weekend!


Benjamin Franklin's Virtues Week 1: Temperance

This is the first in a series of article about the 13 Virtues of Benjamin Franklin


Eat not to dullness;
drink not to elevation.

When Benjamin Franklin determined to pursuit a state of moral perfection and established his 13 virtues, one of the first he decided to focus on was temperance. He focused on this one first, because he knew attaining self-discipline over his tendencies to overdo things would make adherence to the other virtues easier.

Of course, Franklin’s definition speaks of moderation. Eating not to dullness or excess, but rather eating because you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full. And drinking not to elevation, but remaining in control of your actions, accepting personal responsibility and knowing when enough is enough.

Remember this weekend, as your dining out, or enjoying a few beverages, to think about what you’re doing. You are the master of your own universe, and in order master that universe, you must first gain mastery over yourself.


This is one of a series of Wednesday posting that examine Benjamin Franklin’ 13 Virtues he believed necessary to achieve moral perfection.  You can find all the related articles by searching the blog under the “Franklin’s Virtues” label.

About The Mark Twain Masonic Awareness Award

"We are all alike, on the inside."

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

Bro. Christopher Hodapp posted an excellent piece this week about this years Mark Twain Masonic Awareness Award winners on his blog Freemasons For Dummies this week.  It's an interesting article about the history of the award, and the criteria for winning it.  Be sure to check it out.

I know I mentioned it before HERE, but Illinois had its first winning lodge in 2011--St. Joseph Lodge No. 970.  It's a lodge I'm very familiar with, so I want to congratulate them again, and all the 2011 winners for a job well done:
Alabama - Rising Sun Lodge #29 Decatur, Alabama

Alaska - Matanuska Lodge #7 Palmer, Alaska

Arkansas - Key Lodge #7 Siloam Springs, Arkansas

Arizona - Oasis Lodge #52 Tucson, Arizona

Illinois - St. Joseph Lodge #970 St. Joseph, Illinois (Go Illinois!)

Michigan - Byron Lodge #80 Byron, Michigan

Minnesota - Red Wing Lodge #8 Red Wing, Minnesota

Nevada - St. John Lodge #18 Pioche, Nevada

New Hampshire - Benevolent Lodge #7 Milford, New Hampshire

New Mexico - Chapman Lodge #2 Las Vegas, New Mexico

Ohio - North Bend Lodge #346 Cleves, Ohio

Ohio - Oxford Lodge #67 Oxford, Ohio

Pennsylvania - Manoquesy Lodge #413 Bath, Pennsylvania

South Carolina - Mariner Lodge #2 Charleston, South Carolina

Utah - Damascus Lodge #10 Provo, Utah

Virginia - Herndon Lodge #264 Herndon, Virginia

Virginia - Fredericksburg Lodge #4 Fredericksburg, Virginia

Washington - Daylight Lodge #232 Seattle, Washington


What Is High Twelve International?

I've written about several Masonic appendant bodies over the last few years, and I thought I'd tell you a little something about a group I recently became involved with, and have enjoyed a great deal--High Twelve International.  I'm paraphrasing most of this information from the group's website. 

High Twelve is a social extension of Freemasonry. You could most easily describe it as a lunch club, which is how it got its name.  Long ago, noon was known as “high twelve” and the time to call workmen from labor to refreshment.  Accordingly, many High Twelve clubs – but not all – meet at noon.  It's very casual, and there is no ritual.  While there is a lot of variety from club to club, High Twelve usually meets at a restaurant, they have lunch, and perhaps listen to a speaker. 

High Twelve was started in 1921, and today boasts a membership of approximately 9,000 members in over 250 clubs nationwide and in foreign countries.

But High Twelve is much more than a lunch club--it's an association dedicated to bringing Master Masons together, and dedicated to service to the fraternity--High Twelve adheres strictly to the Masonic Laws of whatever jurisdiction it's in.  

And as with all Masonic groups, there is a philanthropic aspect as well. The Club's two primary focuses are on youth and education and it strongly supports the Order of DeMolay, Rainbow Girls, Job’s Daughters and the Wolcott Foundation that was established to provide scholarships for students at George Washington University who seek public service careers in government.

Illini High Twelve

Charter members of Illini High Twelve
As I said, I've recently gotten involved with High Twelve. One of High Twelve's newest charters in Illinois is the Illini High Twelve, which serves the Champaign-Urbana area (home of the University of Illinois.)  I'm very proud to have been elected as the Charter President of that group. We started as a small group of Freemasons who all worked at the University of Illinois who got together occasionally for lunch.  We decided to set a regular monthly lunch date and location, and invite more Masons to join us.  It went from three or four meeting for lunch, to about twenty in a very short period of time.  We decided it was time to take it to the next level--to charter a High Twelve club.

Our club is very casual--come as you are. Spouses are invited. All Masons are invited.  We even encourage our members to bring friends they think would make good Master Masons and give them a chance to meet a few Masons.  

It's something we all look foward too each month.  If you're interested in joining a High Twelve group, visit the High Twelve International website, and there you'll find a listing of all the groups in your area.