It's A Bird! It's A Plane... Nope, It's Bro. Paul "Zacchinni" Creason!

by The Midnight Freemason
Todd E. Creason


Grand Lodge of Missouri A. F. & A. M.
I had the great privilege last week of having a piece published in The Missouri Freemason Magazine, the magazine of the Grand Lodge of Missouri A.F. & A.M.  I'd previously published the piece on here, and it was a nice addition to a magazine that was due to be in mailboxes right before the Memorial Day weekend--the piece was entitled Freemason Trivia: Final Respects and Tributes.

I'd like to thank the editor Steve Harrison for affording me that honor--I get the magazine each month as a member of the Missouri Lodge of Research, and it's always full of great articles. And I've got a few Mason friends over there, and it was fun to contact them all and ask if they'd gotten their magazine yet (it's on page 70 in case you missed it).

I knew it had been mailed one day last week when all the sudden my email was full of messages from Missourians. I got home that night and my wife said somebody from Missouri had left a message for me on her phone.  His name was Paul Creason (there was something very familiar about that name).  So I called him.  Of course we tried to figure out if we were related first, and we probably are considering his sense of humor, but we couldn't make the connection, so we just started talking.  Then Paul got telling me his story.  And what an interesting story it was.

Now I've met a lot of interesting people since I've been a Mason, but I have to admit, Paul is the only retired human cannonball I've ever known.  That's right.  He was a circus performer.  He performed with the Zacchinni act, and if you know anything about circuses, you know that legendary name. Ildebrando Zacchinni invented the human cannon, and his son Hugo was the first human cannonball (Ildebrando was obviously smart enough to invent the cannon, and smart enough not to test it on himself).

This invention lead to generations of Zacchinni human cannonball performers, and for many years, my new friend (and possibly distant relative) Paul Creason performed in that act as Paul Zacchinni.  As he pointed out, the stage name didn't fool too many.  After talking to him a few minutes, it was pretty obvious to anyone that he wasn't Italian--he was pure Missouri Hillbilly (those are his words).  And of course Bro. Paul Creason performed in many a Shriner's Circus during his long career.

I had a great conversation with Paul "Zacchinni" Creason.  It never ceases to amaze me the people I've met over the years and gotten to know just because we share one thing in common--our fraternity.  We're brothers, one and all, connected by that one shared experience.

There's a great video of Paul Creason being fired from a cannon at the Yesterday's Town blog--scroll down the page until you get to Circus America #18: Cannon Act.  I'm thinking about trying that out--wonder if Paul could set that up for me.  That would sure cut down on my commute time... well, at least once.

~TEC

Brother Truman: A Lifetime In The Craft


 by Midnight Freemasons Regular Contributor
Michael H. Shirley

The Illustrious Harry S Truman, 33rd Degree
“The Masonic Lodge was one enthusiasm that he has had that’s been a life-long one, and the Masonic Lodge has made him very well known.”

–Ethel Noland (Harry Truman’s cousin)

Most Worshipful Brother Harry S. Truman, Senator from Missouri and President of the United States, counted as the greatest honor of his life his election as Grand Master of Masons in Missouri in 1940. His biographers, however, mostly overlook Freemasonry’s place in his life.  It’s not surprising, since biographies of “Great Men” tend to focus on the events that made them great in history’s estimation, and Freemasonry, for most such men, rightly merits only a passing nod, especially since the “secrets of the Craft” owe most of their secrecy to a lack of surviving records. Truman was different. His Masonic career was unusually distinguished, and he lived in an era where records tend to survive. (Andrew Jackson, the only other Grand Master (of Tennessee) among the Masonic Presidents, has far fewer existing records of his Masonic career, and there is no evidence that the Craft occupied as central place in his life as it did in Truman’s.) Even David McCullough’s Truman, the most comprehensive of all Truman biographies, mentions Freemasonry on only a few of its more than 1,000 pages.

Published 1985, Anchor Books
Fortunately, those who want to read more about Truman’s life as a Freemason have an excellent resource available: Allen E. Roberts’s Brother Truman: The Masonic Life and Philosophy of Harry S. Truman. Published in 1985 for the Missouri Lodge of Research, Brother Truman is based on available secondary works, including Truman’s own memoirs, and thousands of original documents held at the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri. Organized chronologically, it tracks the events Truman’s public and private life, focusing on his Masonic activities, while providing enough historical context that a full sense of Truman the man emerges.

And it’s the context that astonishes.

Initiated in 1909 as an Entered Apprentice at Belton Lodge No. 450, Truman founded Grandview Lodge No. 615 in 1911 and served as its first Worshipful Master, served the Grand Lodge of Missouri as District Deputy Grand Master and District Lecturer from 1925 to 1930, and as Grand Master from 1940 to 1941. A great student of history all his life, he signed the Charter for the Missouri Lodge of Research in 1941, and served as its Master from 1950-1951. He was an active member of just about every Masonic organization, including the York Rite, Knights Templar, Shrine, Red Cross of Constantine, Allied Masonic Degrees, and the Order of the Eastern Star (Roberts provides a complete list, with dates, in an appendix). During that time he was a farmer, Captain of Artillery during World War I and Colonel in the Army Reserves, County Judge, Chief County Judge, United States Senator, Vice President, and President of the United States. While serving as Grand Master, he was also working as a very busy Senator and running for reelection. One is left with the impression that Harry Truman was the hardest-working man in both Masonry and politics.

That he was also a man of the highest sense of honor is also clear. Roberts provides numerous examples of Truman’s understanding that he was a public servant, and that when he was honored as President it was the office that was honored rather than the man.

This is not just a book for Masons. Roberts includes a glossary of Masonic terms for the general reader, as well as transcripts of Truman’s speeches on George Washington, the Mason, The Masonic Service Association, and the dedication of the George Washington Statue at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. In a valuable evaluative postscript, Roberts explores Truman’s understanding of Masonic philosophy, and connects it to his life and career. There is also a fairly complete index.

In 1948, Secretary of State George C. Marshall, a man not known for complimenting anyone with whom he worked, was a guest at a private birthday party for President Harry S. Truman. As toasts were being given, Marshall rose unexpectedly, and with a serious expression on his face said of Truman, “The full stature of this man will only be proven by history, but I want to say here and now that there has never been a decision made under this man’s administration, affecting policies beyond our shores, that has not been in the best interest of this country. It is not the courage of these decisions that will live, but the integrity of the man.” Brother Truman is an essential source for the reader who seeks to understand why Marshall said that, and belongs in the library of anyone who wants a full picture of  the man who was arguably the greatest Mason ever to become President.

~MHS

W.B. Michael H. Shirley
Michael H. Shirley is Past Master of Tuscola Lodge No. 332 and Leadership Development Chairman for the Grand Lodge of Illinois A.F.& A.M.  He's also a member of the Illinois Lodge of Research, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, a Shriner, and a member of the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. The author of several articles on British history, he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.


Todd's Note:  I'd like to welcome Michael Shirley to the Midnight Freemason's blog.  I was introduced to Michael about three years ago in Mattoon, IL, by the Grand Master of Illinois at the time, Richard L. Swaney.  He told me that Michael was somebody I should know--those are the kinds of introductions you tend to pay attention to.  He was right--we've become good friends over the last few years, both sharing a passionate interest in history and Freemasonry.  In fact, he gave me a copy of "Brother Truman" a couple years ago--it's a prized (and very well thumbed) addition to my collection.  Recently, we've become writing partners.  We've just finished one, of what we now believe will be a series of articles on topics of interest to Freemasons.  And I'm sure they'll all wind up reposted on here eventually.  It'll be interesting to see where this partnership may lead.

~TEC

An American Treasure Restored: The Jefferson Bible

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
S.K. Robert Johnson

The Jefferson Bible (1820)
As a Freemason, I necessarily research all I can due to my oath as a Fellowcraft and also to satisfy my own search for light. I have been all over the map spiritually and eventually Freemasonry has given me a guide or a starting point rather. In my researching over the years, I read about Deism and Christian Deism and how many founding fathers were described of having these beliefs. Benjamin Franklin in fact was a Deist. 

Thomas Jefferson
One of the founding fathers of the United States Thomas Jefferson (sometimes associated with Freemasonry, but never proven) was a Deist and pieced together a work of art. The Jefferson Biblewas painstakingly put together with a razor blade piece by piece by Jefferson himself in an effort to put fourth the ideas of what was true and right in the world but eliminating all references to the divinity within the life of Jesus of Nazareth.  

The Smithsonian Institute has bought an original copy, restored it and even put it online. Now you can view it here in its entirety for FREE. You can also see great pictures of the Jefferson Bible in both its original and restored state. 

Happy research and take care everyone.

~SKRJ

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, he 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.


The 28th Degree Of The Scottish Rite


by Guest Contributor
James E. Frey

My Brethren, the 28th degree is held by the Scottish rite to be one if its most treasured and cherished degrees of the rite. This is because of its deep philosophical and mysterious nature.  Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma commits 219 pages to its mysteries and explanation of its symbolism. But through all his explanation the most relevant section regarding this degree comes from the first paragraph. “God is the author of everything that existith, the Eternal, the Supreme, the Living and Awful being; from whom nothing in the Universe is hidden. Make of Him no idols and visible images; but rather worship Him in the deep solitudes of sequestered forests; for He is invisible and fills the universe as its soul and liveth not in any Temple!” ( Morals and Dogma, p. 219)

Now as a Mason you are taught in the Ancient craft to build a temple of your character, to build a temple in your heart, and to perfect yourself morally and create a temple by which God can dwell. What Pike believes the main value of this degree is the importance of creation. It is the creation of a better world through the realization of simple truth, that simple truth is the liberation from the darkness of the material to the light of the spiritual. This first paragraph states that God fills the universe with his soul. This is the great teaching of alchemy, to turn lead into gold by the spirit within all material. For man to tap into that divine presence that surrounds us all, to be one with God, that is the true philosopher’s stone, to be connected to the source of all light in this world of darkness. The blackness of material lead to spiritual gold is symbolic of the concept of from darkness to light. You can see where how Rosicrucian teachings begin to reflect our own teachings. Manley P. Hall 33°, in his book The Secret Teachings of All Ages, discusses the Masonic and Rosicrucian connection when he states “The story goes on to relate that the Rosicrucian adepts became dissatisfied with their progeny and silently withdrew from the Masonic Hierarchy, leaving behind its symbolism and allegories, but carrying away the keys by which the locked symbols could be made to give up their secret meanings.” (Secret Teachings of All Ages, P. 450)

In the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction the first candidate of this degree was Elias Ashmole.  One of the founders of the first Grand Lodge of England, he was regarded as a known alchemist, suspected Rosicrucian, and “the first gentleman, or amateur, to be accepted” into the Masonic order in 1646 according to Frank C Higgins, a Masonic Symbologist.  So it can be said that Masonry came full circle from a trade guild to a philosophical school of thought by the influence and reimagining of the symbols of masonry by the Rosicrucian influence. We can clearly see the influence of Rosicrucian’s into ancient lodge ritual quite clearly. Alchemists are taught to seek the philosopher’s stone, just as we as masons are taught to seek our own quest to seek the lost word. Mackey in the encyclopedia of free masonry writes “The WORD therefore may be conceived to be a symbol of Divine Truth; and all its modifications, the loss, the substitution, and the recovery-are but component parts represents a search after truth.” What Truth? To know the true name of God, to know that divine presence we seek in the material world, but cannot find, except through the mysteries of the soul.

Bro. Charles T McClenechan tell us how to use this truth in the “Book of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite” says “Appropriate truth to your use, let it be the spring from which you shall drink all your days, and you will have in yourselves immortality of the sages.” (P. 400, 1884)

We can see cleared how the symbolism of Alchemy adds weight to this search. Two symbols mentioned in this degree are the red dragon, and green lion. In alchemical symbolism and mythology the red dragon is representative to the heating of the lead, or the burning away of the material to leave only that true essence behind. It is symbolism of Hiram Abiff, the slain builder who is final footsteps we all must walk. He like the dragon is stripped of his material form, his baser instincts, his sinful nature, a soul, the true spiritual form. To the alchemists this spiritual form was one with the source, or God, the Green Lion symbolized this. I also find it interesting that after the slain Hiram is failed to be raised by the previous grips it is the grip of the Lion’s paw that raises him to spiritual rebirth. This is symbolic of that spiritual connection to God. Albert Pike goes into greater detail to explain this symbol his explanation of the 28th degree that “The murder of Hiram Abiff, his burial, and his raised again by the master, are symbols, both of death, burial, and the resurrection of the Redeemer; and of the death and burial in the sins of the natural man and his being raised again to a new life, or born again, by the direct action of the Redeemer; after Morality, symbolized by the entered apprentice grip, and philosophy, symbolized by the fellow craft grip, had failed to raise him, that of the lion of the house of Judah is the strong grip, never to be broken, with which Christ of the royal line of that house, has clasped to himself the whole human race, and embraces them in his wide arms as closely and affectionately as brethren embrace each other on the five points of masonry.” (P. 641)

The truth that men seek after, the search for the lost word, or the philosophers stone is the connection to each other, the connection to the world around us, the connection to God. Universal love for each other, this was the greatest teaching of Christ, and divine truth as its essence. We are all spiritually connected together through the soul that fills the universe, the eternal presence of God, the source of all-light in the darkness, the symbol of the Sun. So when you look upon that final image of the Sun, think to yourself as its light illuminates the entire world, so should our compassion, mercy, and love illuminate those still seeking after truth that has become lost to them. 

~JEF
 

James E Frey, 32° is a Past Sovereign Prince and current librarian of Valley of Danville AASR. Founder of the R.E.B.I.S Research Society he sits on two Blue Lodge Education committees as well as a guest lecturer on Occultism and Esoteric studies in masonry. He is also a Member of the Oak Lawn York Rite, Medinah Shriners, and Golden Dawn Collegium Spiritu Sancti. He also works as a counselor with emotionally and behaviorally challenged children.

Freemason Wisdom: Benjamin Franklin On Patience

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Judy Gordon 

Reggie--volunteers as a therapy dog

“He that can have patience,
 can have what he will.”

~Benjamin Franklin

 

Job's Daughters have been taught from the very beginning that "patience is a virtues for which we should all strive."  However, not everyone has patience.

For instance--the very spoiled dog that we have does not have any patience.  He lives for the moment.  He has a favorite toy that we call "angry bird."  It makes noise and he loves it, but he will make sure no one else can have it.  One day I noticed the stuffing was coming out of the bird, so I performed surgery.  Reggie couldn't wait to get it back.  While I was sewing, he was crying.  After the surgery was complete, he took it and was happy again.

Reggie isn't that unlike many people I know. We live in microwave society. We want things instantly, and when we don't get what we want as quickly as we might like, we aren't shy about showing it.  But patience is a virtue.

Is there an area in your life where your impatience shows?  Are there things you have a difficult time waiting for?  Perhaps it's time to learn a little more patience . . .  

~JAG  

Judy Gordon considers herself a York Rite Child. She's very active in Job's Daughters. She's the Past Honored Queen, and Bethel Guardian of Bethel No. 55, Pekin (IL). She received the Cryptic Masons Masonic Youth Leadership Award along with her husband, Ray Gordon in July 2007. She's also Past Matron of the Morton Chapter No. 974 (IL) of the Order of the Eastern Star and Historian of the Emblem Club No. 424 of Pekin (IL) Ray and Judy have two (soon to be three) grandkids, and a very spoiled dog, Reggie (who incidentally volunteers as a Therapy Dog at local hospitals and nursing homes.)

Freemasonry: A Personal Perspective

by The Midnight Freemason
Todd E. Creason

Pekin (IL) Not a great speech, but
I made some really good friends.
I was very enthusiastic about the fraternity when I first joined in 2005, and I still am today, but early on, there was one part of Freemasonry that made me decidedly nervous.  Public speaking.  I was never able to do that, and so much of our work involves memorizing and reciting the ritual opening and closing of the lodge, and parts in the three degrees of Masonry.  Before I was raised, I about never got through the "proving up" where I had to go into open lodge with my mentor, and recite word for word what I had learned in the first two degrees in order to pass on to the last degree--Master Mason.  The idea alone of doing that would keep me up nights for week preceding those meeting dates--and there were nightmares, too, most involving me forgetting to wear my pants.  But I managed it--mostly because I trusted fully in my mentor and was able to focus on him instead of those watching.

All the ritual in Masonry is memorized word for word--and if you get one word wrong, Masons will notice.  It's a tradition that goes back a long ways, and it's important to our lodge to do ritual correctly.  Within a couple months of being raised, I was put in the Chaplain's chair, and I had two short prayers to memorize--one when we opened, and one when we closed the meeting.  I memorized them easily, but every month when the time came to give them--I choked.  I knew those words by heart, but I just couldn't seem to spit them out.  It was disappointing to me that I couldn't seem to do this in front of fifteen or twenty Masons that I had come to see as good friends.  

Speaking at a Past Master's Dinner
I really wanted to be involved in my lodge, but I knew early on, from the Chaplains chair, I'd never be able to do ritual or be an officer.  I had to find another way to be involved--some way to be involved without having to speak in front of a group.  One thing I always could do was write, so I decided once I got the idea to write the book Famous American Freemasons, that I would just stay behind the scenes and focus my enthusiasm on writing books about Freemasonry.  That's right, the original idea to write books was out of cowardice.  

Little did I know at the time that my book would do well, and I'd be invited to talk about it.  I sure hadn't thought it through very well to say the least.  The very first invitation to speak came from somebody I couldn't say no to.  My friend and Brother in Masonry, William J. Hussey.  He invited to speak after a dinner in Lawrenceville, Illinois.  He knew I had a fear of public speaking, and I'm convinced, he invited me to help me get over this fear I had.  

Drove to Chicago to do the first "big" interview--not a rousing
 success, but I learned a few things that served me well later on.
I spent a month writing a remarkable speech and practicing it.  I wrote all the key points out on numbered index cards, just like I learned to do--I didn't need them, but I knew how nervous I got, so I counted on them in the event I froze up.  During that three hour drive down to Southern Illinois, I practiced the speech over and over in the car--I had it nailed.  It was a little bigger group than I thought--maybe thirty.  No big deal--right?  I knew almost everyone there.  But I was nervous, and as Bill Hussey introduced me, I was nervously shuffling my hands--no, I was actually shuffling those carefully numbered index cards.  I got up there, and looked out at the thirty or so faces in the crowd, and couldn't remember even how the speech started--and the cards were of no help, because when I looked down at them, the card on top was the conclusion.  There is no doubt in my mind that speech was a disaster--a real mess.  I finally gave up on it.  I left the script I'd planned way later than I should have, and told two stories about my experiences in the Craft from the heart.  

I wish I'd done that sooner, because if I had, I could have saved a tragic failure.  On the long drive home I realized that.  But I also realized that my failure was actually a success.  I'd done it!  Success or failure, I'd done what always had scared me to death.  I stumbled, and mumbled my way through fifteen minutes of incoherent babbling, then left the speech behind and told two stories that obviously had an impact--because I've been asked to tell those two stories again and again--one day, I'll tell them both here.  

3 great books minus mediocre speaker = unexpected reward!
One of those hands is mine!  3 x 33 minutes afterwards.
I'd like to say I'm a great public speaker now--but I'm not.  But I can do it now, and I have--many times.  I've spoken in lodges, and I've spoken in Scottish Rite Valleys.  I've given a speech to the Illinois Lodge of Research (where oddly enough I'm now where I started in my lodge as Chaplain and am just as nervous today as I was then) and I've addressed the Illinois Council of Deliberation--gave them my great Fourth of July speech that wasn't so great.  I've learned chairs, and can spit out the ritual now (most of the time).  I've done some big parts and small in the Scottish Rite--thanks to great mentors and teachers that helped me learn them.  I've learned all the chairs as best as I could (some better than others), and been Master of my lodge--and that's the biggest part any Mason will ever be asked to take, and very little of that duty has anything to do with memorizing parts.  I may never be a great speaker or ritualist, but I know the more I try it, the better I'll get.  And I must be getting better at it, because I keep getting invited back.  I've got a ways to go to be good at it, but I'm no longer afraid of public speaking--and I'll get better each time.

Freemasonry's goal is to make good men better.  I can tell you from personal experience that it does.  Some of that improvement comes from the men we met.  Some of that comes from the values Masons believe are important.  Some of it comes from being able to use the things we're really good at--I'm a great manager, which is why I'm now Secretary of my lodge (for life).  And some of that comes from being given the opportunity to try many new things--just outside our comfort zone.  I've never once been chastised for doing a lackluster job, in fact, it's one of the few places I've ever found that rewards the effort more than the result. 

I've been told many times that I'd get out of Freemasonry what I put into it.  I agree with that, but I was offered an alternative view which I find even more meaningful--the Illustrious William J. Hussy, 33, my friend and Brother told me shortly after I joined the Scottish Rite, "Freemasonry is what you make of it."  I tend to agree with Bill Hussey.  You can never put into it what you get out of it.  It's more about charting your own path.  You'll never know what you're capable of until you try it.  You can sit on the sidelines of life, or you can play in the game--it'll scare you to death, but you'll walk away better from the experience.

Freemasonry is what you make of it.    

~TEC 

The Value of Time . . .


by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Sir Knight Robert Johnson


When I first became a Freemason, an entered apprentice that is, I was mentored by a great man. His name was Curtis Carman. At a point in my life before I knew who I was, he told me so many things that changed the way I looked at things. But one thing he told me was how valuable time was. He said to me, "Once you become a Master Mason, don't get sucked into joining other appendant bodies right away. If you do, you'll have a meeting every night, and while that means you'll always have a friend at the lodge, you won't have one at home." What he meant was that if you have a meeting every night of the week, your wife might get upset and even leave you.

He told me to wait a year and then it would be okay to join an appendant body. His reasoning was two fold; first to dedicate yourself to learning and growing within the lodge i.e. subduing your passions and improving yourself in masonry, and secondly, to make sure you have time to practice what you have learned within your community and most importantly at home with your family. As you may well know, masonry is a family first organization and nothing should interfere with the time you spend with them. 

~RJ

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, he 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.

Bro. Burl Ives: A Visit To His Final Resting Place

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Gregory J. Knott


Final resting place of
The Ilustrious Burl Ives, 33rd Degree
"When you've set goals and dreams, you don't feel old."

~The Illustrious Burl Ives, 33°
Magnolia Lodge No. 242, California


I was driving to my wife's family's house in southern Illinois and I had the opportunity to stop and visit the cemetery in which American folk singer Burl Ives is buried. He is one of my favorite singers of all time, and I had the opportunity to see him perform in 1981 when I was Scout attending the National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill Virginia.

Bro. Ives had a long association with freemasonry:

Brother Ives was involved in Freemasonry as a youth, becoming a DeMolay on December 5, 1927. Then, after moving to California, he petitioned Magnolia (now Magnolia-La Cumbre) Lodge No. 242.  In 1977, he joined the Scottish Rite Bodies of Santa Barbara, California, becoming a dual member in the Valley of Bellingham, Washington, in 1990. In recognition of his many services to our Order, he was invested with the Rank of Knight Commander Court of Honour in 1985, coroneted an Inspector General Honorary in 1987, and elected a Grand Cross by The Supreme Council in 1993.



Appropriately, the passing of Ill.·. Bro.·. Ives was marked by a memorial service held, under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of F. & A. M. of California on May 4, 1995, at the Scottish Rite Cathedral in Los Angeles. Also, following graveside services by the Reverend Stephen Willis, Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Newton, Illinois, the officers of The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of the State of Illinois assembled on May 15, 1995 at Mound Cemetery to conduct a memorial service of the Craft for Brother Ives as a courtesy to his home Lodge, Magnolia-La Cumbre No. 242, of Santa Barbara, California. The cremains of Bro.·. Ives were then placed in the grave.


As I walked through the Cemetery, I noticed that several other members of the Ives were also buried there, including his parents Frank Ives 1880-1947 and Cordella Ives 1882-1954, both of whom were associated with Masonry and Order of the Eastern Star. Their graves are right next to Bro. Ives.



The gravesite of Burl Ives' parents Frank and Cordella--
both active in the fraternity
~GJK

Gregory J. Knott is the Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He's a member of both the Scottish Rite, and the York Rite, and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club in Champaign-Urbana. He's also a member of the Ansar Shrine (IL). Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts--an Eagle Scout himself, he serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois A. F. & A. M. as their representative to the National Association of Masonic Scouters.

Book Review: House Undivided by Allen E. Roberts

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
SK Robert Johnson

What an amazing book.  The House Undivided – The Story of Freemasonry and The Civil War by Allen E. Roberts showcases the history of Freemasonry throughout the Civil War.  Even as unbelievable and as unspeakable the horrors of war are, you feel proud reading about how Freemasons fighting the Civil War conducted themselves. 

Two examples are a showcased.  In one, a Northern ship needed to dock in a southern port for a Brother who had passed away. The Southerns granted them an escort to the Masonic Lodge for a service and burial and allowed safe transport back to the ship--becasue they were Masons. 

Another story took place as a town was being sacked and looted.  A woman ran outside her home and screamed the hailing sign, and an officer on horseback put four of his men on the four corners of her house and guarded it against being looted. 

The honor that we hold as brothers continues today, but to really understand how the standards were applied in the past, check out this book. I was shown the book by a PM who was Senior Deacon when I was Raised. He is a civil War researcher and reenactor. So my thanks to him! 

~SKRJ

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, he 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.

Freemason Wisdom: Benjamin Franklin On War

 by Midnight Freemasons Regular Contributor
Judy Gordon

 
"Wars are not paid for in wartime, the bill comes later."

~Benjamin Franklin


The benefit was the conclusion of a full day of events that included a 5k run/walk at Coal Miners Park in Pekin and a memorial motorcycle ride around the area. The actual benefit consisted of a Pekin Community High School Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps memorial presentation, live music, a silent auction and raffles, spaghetti dinner and the Illinois Patriot Guard Fallen Heroes Traveling Memorial Wall.

The benefit began with a POW/MIA presentation by the PCHS JROTC. Both Bastean and Shaffer were members of the JROTC program while attending PCHS. A dinner table set for five was the center of the display and represented those missing or killed in combat and their sacrifice. At the conclusion of the presentation, the JROTC played a song called “Soldiers of the Clouds” by ‘Doc’ Gill that appeared to bring out great emotion,  and even tears, from the crowd.

“This day is to remember the veterans and not let those who have fallen pass from our memory. This hits home — I’ve seen too many of these. For me to do something to honor the fallen, that’s just what I do,” said retired U.S. Army Sergeant John Stoor, who organized the memorial motorcycle ride that preceded the benefit.

For full article

It's always good remember who actually pays the price for war--families, communities, friends, teachers, mentors.  

 ~JG/TEC

Judy Gordon considers herself a York Rite Child. She's very active in Job's Daughters. She's the Past Honored Queen, and Bethel Guardian of Bethel No. 55, Pekin (IL). She received the Cryptic Masons Masonic Youth Leadership Award along with her husband, Ray Gordon in July 2007. She's also Past Matron of the Morton Chapter No. 974 (IL) of the Order of the Eastern Star and Historian of the Emblem Club No. 424 of Pekin (IL).


Master Yoda: Freemason Or Not?

"Good point that is Brother Senior Warden--
order more pancake mix for our
breakfast fundraiser we will." 

"Do or do not . . . there is no try."

~Yoda
Jedi Grand Master


Is it possible that the Jedi Knights are Freemasons--the evolution of our Craft thousands of years in the future?

I couldn't help but notice as I watched the Star Wars movies again how similar the ancient order of Jedi was to Freemasonry.  I began to wonder if maybe George Lucas hadn't modeled that ancient Jedi order on the Craft. Once I started looking for it, I noticed how often terms like "apprentice" and "Master" and "Knight" had been used in the movies. And of course there's the Jedi Council that meets in the Temple--and they have a Grand Master, Yoda. A source of great wisdom, enlightenment and leadership.

Sure enough, I wasn't the only person that had noticed it--do a Google search if you dare. The stark symbolism of darkness and light. The emphasis of staying on the more difficult enlightened path, and not being seduced by the dark side. The goal of becoming a better man. The idea of old mentors of the Craft helping apprentices learn traits and skills that enable them to be a force of good in the world.  All very strangely Masonic (yes, I know, it could apply to a lot of organizations, but I'm telling this story).

He's still angry over being expelled for
un-Masonic conduct
And then there are the levels, much like in Freemasonry:

The Younglings--  Demolay?  Or perhaps Entered Apprentices?

The Padawan--  Fellowcrafts?

Master Jedi--  well duh, that should be obvious. I'll bet there are rings--and lapel pins!

Jedi Knight-- maybe a title for those who have advanced in the York Rite of the future?

The Jedi Grand Master-- I'll bet Yoda sits in the East!

The movies never show what happens after the regularly stated meetings, but I wonder if there are hot dogs and green beans afterwards?

Sir Knight?
I wonder if they have a big annual Convocation where all the Jedi Masters come together and have a meeting, then enjoy a few nice dinners together at a nice hotel.  There are probably vendors set up in the basement where the Jedi Masters can buy belt buckles, key-chains, and cuff-links with light sabers on them.  Of course they'll have those little round Master and Knights emblems for sale for the back of the family Landspeeder, and maybe a nice sweater for the family dog that says "My Master is a Jedi Master."

So was Yoda a Freemason?  I don't know how to tell you this--you better sit down.  Star Wars isn't real.

No, Yoda is not a Freemason. But try watching those movies again now, and not seeing the similarities.

May the Force be with you.

~Todd E. Creason
The Midnight Freemason


Arlington National Cemetery and Freemasonry

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Greg Knott

There is no more solemn place in our nation than Arlington National Cemetery.  Thousands upon thousands of white granite stones in symmetrical rows mark the final resting place for the heroes of America. 

Here lie those who have protected our freedom through some of the darkest moments in our nation’s history.  Yet their service and sacrifice have provided the opportunity of freedom for countless future generations.  Theirs is legacy of commitment and honor that a grateful nation shall never forget.

Among those laid to rest in Arlington are many members of the Masonic Fraternity.  There are numerous headstones with the square and compass or other Masonic insignia.  This will be the first in an occasional series where we look at the Masonic brethren whose final resting place is at Arlington National Cemetery.

Dr. John Mills Browne, who was Surgeon General of the Navy, was born May 10, 1831 in Hinsdale, New Hampshire.  Dr. Brown was made a Mason on June 3, 1852, in Philesian Lodge No. 40 at Winchester, New Hampshire, where he received all 3 degrees in one day under dispensation from the Grand Master, because he was ordered to sea.  He later affiliated with Naval Lodge No. 87 at Vallejo, California and was Master in 1870.  Dr. Brown served as Grand Master of California Masons from 1875-1879. 

He was exalted in Benicia Chapter No. 7 at Benicia, CA on November 25, 1866 and was Grand High Priest of California Royal Arch Masons in 1878.  He was Knighted in California Commandery No. 1 at San Francisco on December 27, 1867 and received the Cryptic Degrees in California Council No. 2 on September 2, 1871.

Dr. Brown was very active in Scottish Rite as well, the Fourth through the Thirty-Second on February 1, 1870.  He later was Venerable Master of Naval Lodge of Perfection at Vellejo from 1870-1877 and Commander-in-Chief of the California Grand Consistory from 1874-1876 and was coroneted a 33° in 1876. 

He had an impressive naval career, entering the service in 1853 as Assistant Surgeon, having graduated from Harvard University.  He served on several naval ships, including the Kearsarge for 3 years, including when the Alabama was destroyed off Cherbourg in June 1864. 

Brother Brown died in Washington DC December 7, 1894, the funeral serviced being held in St. John’s Episcopal Church, which is near the White House and was interred in Arlington.  His tombstone is marked with the Scottish Rite emblem of a 33° Mason.

~GK

Gregory J. Knott is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He's a member of both the Scottish Rite, and the York Rite, and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club in Champaign-Urbana. He's also a member of the Ansar Shrine (IL). Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts--an Eagle Scout himself, he serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois A. F. & A. M. as their representative to the National Association of Masonic Scouters.


Sources:



Review of Stephen King's Dark Tower: Wind Through the Keyhole

I know there are a lot of fans of Stephen King's Dark Tower series on here--my post about the Dark Tower Series still holds the record for view count.  I ripped through Stephen King's latest installment, The Wind Through the Keyhole recently, and I must say, it's good to be back in Roland's world.  In the chronology, it falls between Wizard and Glass (book 4) and Wolves of the Calla (book 5).

Do I have to read all the Dark Tower books first to enjoy this one?

No--Stephen King answered that question in the introduction, and gives you all the information you need to know to enjoy the story (which isn't much).  It does very well as a stand-alone story, and what a remarkable story it is.  Actually, it's three stories. 

It begins with Roland and his ka-tet where we left them at the end of Wizard and Glass.  Sheltering from a terrible storm, Roland helps to pass the time by telling a story, actually two stories--a story within a story nestled together one inside the other like Russian nesting dolls.  It starts out with Roland's story going back to when he was a young gunslinger and was send to hunt down a skin man--a shapeshifter.  And of course that story falls into another story. 

Many readers weren't very satisfied with the conclusion of The Dark Tower Series. It was fun to jump back in the story and find Roland, Jake, Eddie, Susannah, and of course, Oy back along with path of the beam.  

It was a great yarn, and will give fans another look into Roland's mysterious world. And for Stephen King, it was really short, too, at just over 300 pages.  Well worth the price of admission. As Stephen King said in the book "A person's never too old for stories.  Man and boy, girl and woman, we live for them."

I have a feeling this book is going to introduce many new readers to Roland of Gilead.  Read it, and if you enjoy it, the series starts with The Gunslinger and the words "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."

~Todd E. Creason
The Midnight Freemason

Freemason Wisdom: Walter Chrysler on Success

 by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Judy Gordon
(and Todd E. Creason)



"The real secret to success is enthusiasm."

~Walter Chrysler
Lodge Unknown


Anyone who has been successful in life will tell you that the secret to success is having a passion for those things you want to accomplish.  You have to truly believe in what you're doing.  Another famous Freemason, the singer Eddie Cantor once said "It takes twenty years to make an overnight success."

If you want to be successful, you have to love what you do, because it doesn't happen overnight--it is usually a long journey to the finish line.  Those that make it arrive there because they were passionate enough about what they wanted to do to see it through the many obstacles that stood in their way.

Are you as successful as you want to be?  Do you love what you do?  If not--what are you passionate about? 

~JG/TEC

Judy Gordon considers herself a York Rite Child. She's very active in Job's Daughters. She's the Past Honored Queen, and Bethel Guardian of Bethel No. 55, Pekin (IL). She received the Cryptic Masons Masonic Youth Leadership Award along with her husband, Ray Gordon in July 2007. She's also Past Matron of the Morton Chapter No. 974 (IL) of the Order of the Eastern Star and Historian of the Emblem Club No. 424 of Pekin (IL) Ray and Judy have two (soon to be three) grandkids, and a very spoiled dog, Reggie (who incidentally volunteers as a Therapy Dog at local hospitals and nursing homes.)

Of Brotherhood . . .

  by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Sir Knight Robert Johnson

  
The brotherhood of man has long been known, but only for a short time been realized. And yet is still not practiced by everyone. What do I mean? Let us consider slavery, classes and bigotry. Certainly you would not let your brother be indentured into slavery, for he is your equal. Classes push fourth the idea that those of us with an excess of monetary funds (although not in all cases) will be of a better stock or more inclined to rule or govern other men. There is no doubt this has started to break down with the decline of monarchies but it is still alive and well within the political world. This paper being of a Masonic nature, we will leave it at that. Because politics is something that separates all men. Finally we come to bigotry.  Bigotry is the great divider of men. Not only does it tell us of colors and races, it lets us who are outside of bigotry's reach, know who is essentially unintelligent. Because if you believe races determine anything other than geographical evolutionary traits, you are, in fact, unintelligent.

In our qualifications required for admittance into a lodge of Masons, it is asked Are you "freeborn"? We also take an oath to be level and upright and to obey the laws of our country. So naturally in the days of our rituals writings it would have been a violation of our masonic oaths to let (what was then considered) someone's "property" to be an equal. However this is where we have made progress in leaps and bounds. Slavery is no longer in practice in the United Staes of America, but nonetheless this is still within our ritual. It does seem from the earliest times of Freemasonry we have supported the not always popular idea of equality among all men and this being so, I believe it is the reason for the progress the world has made in equality of all men.

When I speak of equality between men, I am not writing of socialism or anything of that political nature. I speak of equality of a man's rights in this world both physical and spiritual. I speak of his DNA. An African American man's DNA is of the same as an Anglo's etc. We are the same species. We are tame beasts of this planet who search, live and build together. Our blood runs through the same heart. Whether an English gentleman or a "savage" from an unknown island who has never seen another man of color, we are the same. I am sure that the human race will persevere through the eons. I am equally as sure that our fraternity will survive as well, although there may be rough spots with low membership. One day there will be a time when two people meet in a cafe or office somewhere, and they will ask "Whence came you?",  and the answer will for the first time be two fold. The first answer, you know, and the second answer will be "Earth".

~Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson is a regular contributor to The Midnight Freemason.  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.

           

Franklin's Virtues: In Conclusion

Over the last 13 weeks, The Midnight Freemason has been running this series of Benjamin Franklin's virtues. Franklin was committed to improving himself, which is why he established this list of virtues, and developed a program with which he spent a week trying to work on each one individually. He repeated this exercise over and over again through his lifetime. 

Franklin would be the first to admit he never accomplished his goal of moral perfection, but he felt he benefited greatly from constantly working on it. 

I hope you've enjoyed the series, and that you got something from it.  Below you'll find links to each of the virtues, and Ben Franklin's definitions of each.  I hope you'll revisit them again and again.  If you want to learn more about Franklin's Virtues, there's a number of books on the subject including The Art of Virtue: Ben Franklin's Formula for Successful Living.  Perhaps, if you are so motivated, you might even try Franklin's exercise yourself.
 

Benjamin Franklin's Virtues: The Introduction 

 

 Temperance

"Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation."

Order

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

Resolution

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

Silence

"Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; Avoid trifling Conversation."

Frugality

"Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing."

Industry

"Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions."

Sincerity

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

Justice

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

Moderation

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

Cleanliness

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

Tranquility

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

Chastity

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

Humility

"Imitate Jesus and Socrates."

~TEC

Freemason Wisdom: Winston Churchill On Life

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Judy Gordon
(and Todd E. Creason) 


 "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

Sir Winston Churchill
Studholme Lodge No. 1591, England


Most Freemasons, like Winston Churchill, have learned that life isn't about what you take out of it, it's measured by what you put into it. Everyone, no matter how rich or how poor, has something to give.Whether it's donating your time, your muscle and sweat, your blood, or writing a check--we all have the ability to make a difference.

How can you contribute to the greater good this week? 


Judy Gordon is the Past Honored Queen, and Bethel Guardian of Bethel No. 55, Pekin (IL). She received the Cryptic Masons Masonic Youth Leadership Award along with her husband, Ray Gordon in July 2007. She's also Past Matron of the Morton Chapter No. 974 (IL) of the Order of the Eastern Star and Historian of the Emblem Club No. 424 of Pekin (IL) Ray and Judy have two (soon to be three) grandkids.

Judy is taking over one of my most popular weekly posts on The Midnight Freemason--"Freemason Wisdom."   I learned early on that people love a good quote--in fact I put together a whole book of them called A Freemason Said That?  She'll also be writing feature articles.  And I'm very happy to have her as a regular Contributor--she seemed like a natural choice.  She grew up in our fraternity, and her and her husband Ray Gordon are very active in the fraternity.  I asked her to do this because I thought she'd bring a unique perspective.  And she loves quotes, and posts them frequently on her Facebook page (often from my book)--and she knows how to pick them.  Her choices often lead to spirited discussions.  Welcome Judy!

~TEC