Are Freemasons Weird?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, PM, FMLR

     I recently attended a non-Masonic function held in a church where the Freemasons had dedicated the building.  Out in the parking lot after the function had ended, I made note of the cornerstone.  Not realizing I was a Mason myself, one of the others in the group gasped, "Isn't that weird!"  

     Weird.  The word echoed through my brain like it had exploded from my 1970s quadraphonic speakers playing one of those old reverberating radio stations.  Weird.  Are we weird?  I mean, I know there are people who think Masons are weird, but they're usually the types I think are weird, right backacha.

     The person who said it, in fact, was a member of the church where we met.  It's a mainstream Christian church that I always thought was pretty open-minded and tolerant.  Not weird.  What's more, on the way in I had seen what I presume to be a parishioner's car with a Shriner's emblem on it.  Is he weird... the church pariah, perhaps?  I doubt it.  And besides, if that was the viewpoint of the church, why on earth did the members decide to have the Masons dedicate it? I can't believe that's the case at all, so I have to believe that collectively, the church members hold Freemasons in high enough regard to have them dedicate the building.  So I figure it must have been that individual's point of view.  It's a view held by a few others, isn't it?

     Freemasons are weird?  Are the men (and women) who support the Shriner's hospitals weird?  Are the people who support dozens of other charities like the Knight Templar Eye Foundation and Scottish Rite Clinics weird?  

     George Washington... was he weird? Omar Bradley? Clark Gable? Will Rogers? Thurgood Marshall? Richard Dreyfuss? Fifteen US Presidents? Peter Marshall?  What mainstream Protestant thinks Peter Marshall was weird? How about the founders of the Mayo Clinic?

     Is the Fraternity whose Lodges served as an early model for democracy weird?  Were many of the leaders of the American Revolution weird?  How about the very first organization to break down class barriers, declaring everyone in Lodge to be equal?  Or the Lodges in Belgium that first put forth the shocking idea that women are equal to men?  How weird is the first organization known to promote worker's rights?  Guess where many of those "weird" leaders in medicine, education, the arts, literature, music and architecture came from.

     I'll admit there are some Freemasons who have done some weird things.  In fact, I'm writing a book about them.  However, for every Freemason who did something a bit offbeat, I'll bet I can come up with a hundred non Masons who were more weird.

     This wasn't the first time I had heard someone express an opinion that Freemasons are somehow weird and it won't be the last.  Still, it perplexes me.  Maybe I'm just a little... well... weird.

     This article has been revised from a similar article the author published in the Missouri Freemason magazine.  The author thanks the Masonic Service Association, whose new pamphlet, "What Has Masonry Done For The World," served as a reference for this article.

~SH

Steve Harrison, 32° KCCHis 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 Senior Warden.  He is a dual member of Kearney Lodge #311, St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite, Moila Shrine and is a member of the DeMolay Legion of Honor.

What Masonic Secrets are the FBI Hiding?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott


     While on a trip recently to Washington DC, I had the incredible opportunity to visit the HQ of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI HQ is located at 935 Pennsylvania Ave, NW inWashington DC. The HQ is officially known as the J. Edgar Hoover Building.
     Hoover was director of the FBI from 1924-1972. Until July 1, 1935 the FBI was known as the Bureau of Investigation. Hoover was a devoted Freemason and we will touch on this later.
     When arriving at the Hoover building, there are multiple layers of screening that take place before you enter. You must be escorted at all times. The building itself was designed in the 1960’s and eventually finished in the early 1970’s and takes up at least 2 city blocks of prime real estate. The FBI has recently put forth a proposal to replace the Hoover building with a new HQ in the DC metro area.
     No pictures were allowed except in the outdoor atrium area. It was there that I found some very interesting plaques. The first that caught my attention was a seal with the words Annuit Cceptis. This is of course the backside of the Great Seal of the United States of America. Annuit Coptis means "He [God] has favored our undertakings".
     For decades speculation has been that the great seal is a Masonic symbol placed on the dollar bill as a sybol of Masonic domination. After leaving the courtyard we visited the FBI Museum, which features a timeline of events of many of the major cases that the FBI has worked on including the Unibomber, Chicago Gangsters and September 11.

     On display are many artifacts associated with the cases. J. Edgar Hoover himself was there in lifesize form as a wax figure. He was standing beside an American flag and wearing his Masonic ring.
So what Masonic secrets were the FBI hiding? 


     Well perhaps I will truly never know, but the influence of Brother Hoover is still very obvious in the agency today.


The courtyard also featured a plaque honoring J.
 Edgar Hoover. Brother Hoover was a member of 
Federal Lodge No. 1 in Washington DC having been raised
 on November 9, 1920. In 1955 he was coroneted a 33rd Degree
Inspector General by the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite,
 Southern Jurisdiction and received the
Grand Cross of Honor in 1965.
~GJK

WB 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) and the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. 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.

Teddy Roosevelt "Get on the Horse!"

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


I’m not much of a shopper, but I’m married to one. My wife and I can go into a store selling nearly anything and I’ll be done looking and ready to go before she’s made it past the first display. But we both love antique malls, and there our styles complement each other: she’ll look at every item, while I’ll do five laps to see if something catches my eye. Sometimes she’ll see something I’ve missed and show it to me as I run past, and sometimes I’ll find something I think she’ll like and go get her to accelerate her shopping experience. It works for us, we have fun, and occasionally we find something we have to have.

Recently, we found ourselves in a consignment and antique shop, and as I was preparing for my customary laps, she pointed at a framed photograph of Theodore Roosevelt and said, “What do you think of this?” It looked like a page cut from a magazine, behind rough glass in a homemade wooden frame, showing a grinning Roosevelt on horseback, looking too alive and vital to just be a record of a moment in 1906. I bought it, took it home, and hung it in my library. 


Theodore Roosevelt has never been a particular hero of mine, although he’s fascinating to even the most casual observer. I’ve never been particularly taken with his career, although I’m grateful for his championing of national parks. Even among Masonic presidents, he’s not at the top in my personal pantheon (Harry Truman stands there alone). But in that picture he embodies a Masonic quality better than any other public figure of whom I’m aware: doing things with great joy. From his sickly childhood to his early death, Theodore Roosevelt believed in doing things. Whether it was hunting big game, exploring the Amazon, reforming the New York police, organizing a volunteer company to fight in Cuba, using the presidency as a bully pulpit, or just getting on horseback for a vigorous ride, he was never still. He lived each day as if there weren’t enough hours to do all that needed to be done. “Great thoughts speak only to the thoughtful mind,” he wrote, “but great actions speak to all mankind.” He was a truly joyful man of action, and his life spoke loudly to anyone who paid attention. As it still does.

So now that picture hangs on my wall, where Brother Roosevelt, still seemingly alive over a century later, reminds every day me that I have things to do, that the opportunity to do them is to be seized, and that I should do it all joyfully. Roosevelt loved all forms of exercise, but it was on horseback that he seemed most fully alive. It might be a metaphor for his remarkable life, and it reminds me daily of his example. That picture tells me to get on the horse, take the reins in my hands, and ride. 



R.W.B. Michael H. Shirley is the Assistant Area Deputy Grand Master for the Eastern Area for the Grand Lodge of Illinois A.F. & A.M.  He is the Past Master of Tuscola Lodge No. 332 and Leadership Development Chairman for the Grand Lodge of Illinois. He's also a member of the Illinois Lodge of Research, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. He's also a member of the newly-chartered, Illini High Twelve No. 768 in Urbana-Champaign. The author of several articles on British history, he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.

The Will of the Worshipful Master


by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert Johnson 32°






June 11th, 2012. Almost 8 months ago I visited a local lodge to be in the audience for a 3rd degree. The night was great, it was my first visitation of any lodge outside of my own. I remember walking in and headed downstairs for some fellowship and a meal.

I remember it smelled like something good was cooking. I smelled ham and eggs. Now normally I am not very into breakfast for dinner, but these fellas did a great job. I had 2 plates of ham and eggs with cheese and onions. It was going to be a great night. I still remember how cool it was to watch another lodge within my district perform the Sublime Degree of Master Mason, the lecture, the lodge room, the presentation was just so very different, but still so very familiar. I loved it.

Just before the final gavel that evening, the Worshipful Master said, “Thank you all for coming out tonight, and I know you’ll all get home safely.” I said my good-byes for the evening and I hopped in my car, which coincidentally my mom had been driving for a year or so and I had just gotten back. I was parked on the grass and had to maneuver my car around several other vehicles parked in the grass as well. I attribute my excellent skills of the successful navigation of this make shift parking lot to my off-roading skills.

But all kidding aside, I started driving home. I was on the phone with my wife via a Blue-tooth hands free speaker, telling her about the night and how nice it was. I hung up with her and decided there was enough time to give my mom a call as well since I was twenty or so minutes from home yet. As I started to press the handsfree device in order to give a voice command to call my mom, I heard something. It was a honking from a car. I looked and saw the car in front of me get side swiped and then I swerved out of the way as well, but without effect. I had been hit on the driver's side and then I smashed into the car in front of me, essentially a t-bone.

Needless to say my car was totaled, at first I couldn’t tell what was going on. I couldn't see anything, that is, everything was blurry. In the confusion I pressed my hands free device to call my wife, because my phone had disappeared in the collision, but was still synced. I got a hold of her and she immediately scolded me for not calling 911 first. So I hung up with her, and still not knowing why everything was blurry, I hit the hands free device again and I told it to call 911, the reply from the device was “Sorry Robert, I cannot dial 911”. So I then proceeded to look for the phone, and in the process, I saw my glasses laying there on the floorboard of the car.

 Both airbags deployed, ripped
the tire off and broke the axel.
Mystery of my blurry vision solved. I then found my phone which had been displaced a great deal from the impact and called the police. You can imagine the rest of the evening. I ended up in the emergency room where they checked me over. My only complaint? My left arm. It hurt bad. They gave me an X-ray and found no breaks. The Dr. was stern, she said, "you'll need the next two or three days off to recoup, you're going to be extremely sore tomorrow and the next few days." She gave me a prescription for some muscle relaxers and sent me home.

You can imagine my night, in the sense that the first time I ventured out to another lodge, this happens. The next day I had to meet the insurance adjuster out at the scrap yard where my car had ended up. I’ll never forget his words that day. As he was there looking over the car, reviewing the police report, noting the approximate speeds and impact zones, he said, “So how’s the driver?” I said, “You’re looking at him.” At that point he looked at me and said, “You’re kidding me, you run this accident ten times and nine out of ten you're dead pal. Go buy a damn lottery ticket.”

So that night when the Worshipful Master of Sequoit Lodge #827 in Illinois bid that I get home safe, I guess he holds a good weight with the Man upstairs, because although I was in an accident, I did get home safe. My friends and Brothers call it my death day and I’m sure when the one year anniversary of that day comes up, I’ll be having a pint of lager with the many people I consider my manifold blessings. So I propose a toast to Worshipful Masters and Past Masters everywhere for their gift of good fortune to their brethren. After all, He did say "I know you will get home safely." and I did get home safe and sound. And so you all know, I never got sore and I never had to use any pain medication. That's some serious divine providence.

~RJ


Sir Knight Robert Johnson, 32° is the editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog.  He 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, and a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago.  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 Apprentice of Creation Pt. 2 Working Tools of the Spirit

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
By J.E. Frey, 32°



Part 2 Working Tools of the Spirit


These working tools of the mind and body together symbolize both the force of change in the natural world.   As well as corresponding psychological forces which drive us to change both the world and ourselves, and whether these forces are natural or psychological they are rooted in the same  place: divine consciousness. 
The idea of Divine Consciousness and its direct relation to the individual consciousness is echoed during the ceremony of initiation when the Candidate is brought to light from the darkness. The Rite of Illumination is conducted with aid from the moment of creation itself.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (Gen 1:1-3)
The Apprentice is then brought to light after being inspected and found to be qualified for moral improvement. This moment is closely connected with the Kabalistic moment of creation, the Candidate upon taking his obligation and receiving the light of  Ein Soph” or Infinite Conscious, Limitless Light. This First Principle of Consciousness is the moment in which Divinity realizes it’s own conscious and potential, just as the Candidate on a psychological level must realize his own connection to the “collected unconscious” which correlates to a step in the psychoanalytic process of “Individuation”. 
Following the Rite of Illumination the Candidate is made know of the lesser lights of the Order, the Sun, Moon, and Master of the Lodge which is a reverberation of the next line found in (Genesis 1:4) “God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness he called night.” 
It is clear to me that this ceremony is recreating the moment of creation of the Apprentice’s individual consciousness, revealing his own inner divinity unto himself. But how does the creation of the individual’s consciousness connect with the meaning of the working tools? It connects through the Kabbalistic creation of the universe. A fundamental premise of the Kabbalistic creation is that there is a pure and indefinable state of consciousness, which manifests as an interaction between force and form, which the Apprentice now brought to light represents. But for the potential for creation to take place is based upon the trinity of consciousness, force, and form. Consciousness emerges with an inherent duality; there is an energy associated with consciousness which causes change or force, (The Gavel) and there is  a   capacity   within consciousness  to constrain that energy and cause it to  manifest in a form (The 24 inch gauge). 

                                                                     First Principle             
                                                                                of                              
                                                                   /  Consciousness   \                                   
                                                                 /     (Ein Sof)             \                  
                                                                /                                   \            
                                                    Capacity                                   Raw                          
                                                   to take form  ______________ Force 
                                                      (Binah)                             (Chokhmah)
                                                                            
So if the Apprentice and his working tools are symbolic for the inner divinity of the Apprentice and his ability to create a spiritual, and psychological change in himself and his environment. The Apprentice should understand that his consciousness and matter and intertwined and unified through divinity. In this theory of creation this unity creates the world of perfect form balanced between heaven and earth.

                                               First Principle
                             of                              
                     /  Consciousness   \                                   
                    /         |          \                  
                   /          |           \            
               Capacity       |           Raw                          
               to take  _____________ Energy/Force
                Form          |
                   \          |           /
                    \         |          /
                     \        |         /
                           Material
                            World



This perfect form, which is the product of the Apprentice’s labor, is the understanding that the perfected man is balanced between his material and spiritual selves. It is at this moment the Apprentice stand in the northwest corner contemplating both the rough, and perfect ashlars. How his own consciousness is connected with infinity, how the force of his will can change the world around him through morality and justice, how his own choice gives form to change, and how true change is both spiritual and psychological. It is a change in social consciousness, a unifying of humanity regardless of ideals, religion, or creed. It is the realization that all is united through act of creation and exists in Infinite Consciousness. That life is but a vision, and that he is but a thought. 

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.

The Dishwasher King

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, PM, FMLR



      "I call him Sammy."  

Bro. Sam Regenstrief
      My dad was driving me home close to the end of my senior year in college.  I had drifted off; or maybe I was just daydreaming.  Whatever the case I hadn't heard what he was saying and I shot back the uber-intelligent response you might expect from someone about to graduate from college, "Huh?"

      "Sam Regenstrief," said Dad, "He bought our company.  He's a real powerhouse... one of the richest guys in the state... been everywhere... done everything... used to be a big shot at Philco.  Before he came on board, one of our engineers said he invented the dishwasher."

      "Cool," said the articulate near-graduate.

      "Well, he didn't," said Dad, "He perfected it.  I guess those things used to leak all over the place and just didn't work right.  Sammy fixed all that, invented some sort of timing device for them and started manufacturing them in Connersville.  He pretty much cornered the market... made a fortune.  They even call him 'The Dishwasher King.'"  Dad went on to explain that people were a little nervous about the new tycoon roaming the halls.  Conversations had even speculated on what they should call the new boss: Sam, Sammy, Mr. R, Mr. Regenstrief or whatever.  Dad was one of the top guys in the company and had decided to dispense with any formality.  Sammy it was.  Fact is, though, that's probably the name Sam Regenstrief preferred.

      Dad's company, Wallace Expanding Machines, had started out as a small tool and die company in Indianapolis.  My dad, Robert (Noblesville Lodge #57, Indiana), was a corporate officer, one of the few shareholders and served as purchasing agent.  As the company grew, its engineers invented and patented a way of expanding metal without exceeding tensile strength specifications and a whole bunch of other things I don't know much about.  Along with that, the company developed "The Expander," a gargantuan machine to do the job.  The Expander could stamp out all kinds of widgets from a cylinder of metal fed into it.  In goes a cylinder and... voilĂ ... out comes four Ford car doors.  Or, in goes a cylinder and out comes a complete dishwasher body.  And that was what Sammy was interested in, and that's why he bought the company.

      Dad was right.   Sam Regenstrief had quite a track record.   Born in eastern Europe in about 1906, he moved to the US with his family two years later.  He studied at Indiana University, then transferred to the Baum School of Engineering in Milwaukee, staying there until the school folded.  A series of jobs led him to Rex Manufacturing in Connersville, Indiana, where he began to make his mark.  Rex, a supplier of steel refrigerator cabinets, was in serious financial trouble.  Sam turned the company around and by the age of 29, was running the show.  Instead of just manufacturing refrigerator cabinets, he soon had Rex making complete refrigerators and selling them to, among others, Philco.  He did such a good job Philco bought Rex and made it a subsidiary with Sam as president.

      A few years later most thought Sam, by then a Philco corporate Vice President, was on track to become its President.  Instead, in 1958, he left the corporate giant and started his own company, Design and Manufacturing (D&M), in Connersville.  There, he earned his Dishwasher King title, transforming the household dishwasher from a piece of near-junk into the modern appliance most of us use today.  That alone would be enough, but there is more to his story.

      Sam Regenstrief was a Freemason.  A member of Warren Lodge #15 in Connersville, he was raised October 28, 1948.  Fueled in part by the same strong humanitarian principles inculcated in the Craft, Sammy first provided for his family and then became a generous philanthropist.  Among his other endeavors, in 1969, he founded the Regenstrief Institute, an internationally recognized healthcare research facility.  In turn, the institute developed the Regenstrief Medical Record System, a progressive, comprehensive patient care data collection system.  For this, he has had numerous medical facilities named in his honor.  Even when Sam was still at Philco, Brother William Denslow listed him in his iconic work, 10,000 Famous Freemasons:

      “Sam N. Regenstreif Vice President Philco Corp. (manufacturing appliance division) and President and director of Rex Manufacturing Co. b. in Vienna, Austria. Was consulting management engineer, specializing in management policies of numerous policies of numerous corporations, Indianapolis, 1931-39. Member of Warren Lodge No. 15, Connersville, Ind., receiving degrees on Sept. 9, Oct. 21, 28, 1948.”

      Brother Sam Regenstrief passed away January 17, 1988. Looking at his accomplishments would not reveal how humble his beginnings really were.  Shortly after his birth, a fire destroyed his family records.  He never knew what his birthday was and remarkably, he was never sure where he was born (his family has said Romania; Sam himself once wrote he was born in Austria).  Throughout his life he proved those things really don't matter that much: the clichĂ© is true – it's not where you start out, but where you end up.  

      Sam valued his employees highly and maintained a good working relationship with them, including my father.  And, just as he said that day driving me home from college, Dad always called him Sammy.

      Me? I called him Mr. Regenstrief.  Now, years later, I can also call him Brother.




~SH

Steve Harrison, 32° KCCHis 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 Senior Warden.  He is a dual member of Kearney Lodge #311, St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite, Moila Shrine and is a member of the DeMolay Legion of Honor.

Finding More Time In A Busy World For Freemasonry

by Midnight Freemasons contributor
Todd E. Creason


If there's one thing I'm good at, it's time management, so I thought I'd offer a little advice today.  I've got a tip that I guarantee will open up hours of time for many of you every week.  You'll have plenty of time to dedicate to the Craft if you just do this one thing.

Freemasons are a very industrious group of individuals, and the most common complaint I hear is that there isn't enough time every month to do all the things we want to do.  There are Lodge Meetings, events, degree work, workshops, schools, committee assignments, Past Master Diners, etc.  Not to mention the York Rite, the Scottish Rite, Shriners, Allied Masonic Degrees, Widows Sons, Tall Cedars, Eastern Star, High Twelve, etc.  There's no shortage of things for you to participate in, and most of us enjoy it so much we want to do it all.  If you wanted to, you could be a Freemason full time--and many of our retired brethren do, and that's certainly my plan one day.  My District Deputy Grand Master was just saying the other night, "I could sure use another week every month."

So here's a simple tip that I promise you will work:

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day.  If you forget to buy a card, some flowers, a nice gift, or a romantic dinner for your beloved . . . well, you'll have all kinds of time for Freemasonry.

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and continues to be a regular contributor.  He is the author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series.  He is member of Homer Lodge No. 199, and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL).  He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), the Ansar Shrine (IL), Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, and Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL).  He is also the author of the blog From Labor To Refreshment . . .

The Apprentice of Creation Pt. 1 Working Tools of the Mind and Body

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
By J.E. Frey, 32°

Part 1: Working Tools of the Mind and Body

My Brethren, during the ceremonies of our initiation we dedicate ourselves to mysteries in many ways yet to be reveled to us. I hope each Mason personally found it a very humbling experience, to subject your will into the trust of your unknown brothers. Your faith being well founded and your trust in a stranger’s hands you begin your journey into the darkness of yourself. This feeling resonated with the Apprentice being a “bearer of burden” putting his trust into his brother’s hands to be lowered into the quarries of darkness to cut the stone which would become the spark of creation. 
But the subjection of your will and your personal sacrifice to live up to the standards of the fraternity will not be in vain. Your gift for such dedication and zeal earn you the privilege and opportunity to now wield the working tools of life. These working tools are presented to the Mason at each degree to show how he can specifically build a moral character, but their meaning is steeped with deeper mysteries then we are enlightened upon. 
The first working tool the Apprentice receives is referred to the “Common Gavel” which is said to derive its shape from a gable, or a corner of a foundation, where a corner stone would be laid. The word gavel is derived from the German word Gipfel, which refers to the peak or summit of a mountain. (Mackey,1921) So it can be safe to associate that the gavel has a direct correlation to the idea of the ashlar are a reflection of it both being of a steep design as opposed to a blunt hammer. The gavel is given to remove the rough corners of the rough ashlar, which the Apprentice brings up from the quarry. The Gavel removes all undesired natural material from the stone. These undesired parts are symbolic for the negative aspects of our psyche. In Jungian psychoanalytic psychology the first step in the psychological process of individuation is to face what is known as the shadow archetype accepting the aspects of yourself you do not wish for society to recognize about you. Psychologically the gavel works the same way, we morally must recognize the negative aspects of ourselves and accept that we must have a willingness to change.
Kingston Parish Church


      The idea of the Gavel is given as a symbol of force of power that initiates the act of creation. “It’s a powerful instrument. When used for power alone it can be destructive. But power that is channeled toward good purposes will result in constructive achievement.” (Allan Roberts, 1971) This shows the Apprentice that the force within him is choice, or will. Will is important concept that has been pondered by both theologians and philosophers alike. 
Will is the ability of the individual Mason to affect his environment around him for the better. This force is how the Mason must engage in change of himself for the betterment of society. This force is his first tool to shape society by influence and justice. In the tradition of Masonry the force of the people is liberty. But as the society we build is liberated from oppression and the tyrant, it remains the individual duty of the Mason to enlighten his people through intellectual leadership. 
“The blind Force of the people is a Force that must be economized, and also managed... It must be regulated by Intellect. Intellect is to the people and the people's Force, what the slender needle of the compass is to the ship--its soul…Thought is a force, and philosophy should be an energy, finding its aim and its effects in the amelioration of mankind… The FORCE of the people, or the popular will, in action and exerted, symbolized by the GAVEL, regulated and guided by and acting within the limits of LAW and ORDER, symbolized by the TWENTY-FOUR-INCH RULE, has for its fruit LIBERTY, EQUALITY, and FRATERNITY,--liberty regulated by law; equality of rights in the eye of the law; brotherhood with its duties and obligations as well as its benefits.” (Albert Pike, 1871)
So it is almost placed upon the Apprentice to be a guardian to remain vigil that the motivations of the unjust do not rise and pollute the good reason of society. We are to realize that we must subject our will to the will of the people aiding in civic society and representing the intellect that must guide the force of the people. 
The 24-inch gauge is given to the Apprentice as the symbol of the intellect that must measure and determine which aspects must be removed to create form. It is symbolic for structuring our selves, mainly structuring our force into three equal parts, eight for the service of God, eight for usual vocation, and eight for rest and relaxation. This is symbolic of the formation of our will, or an intellectual birth if you will. Once we as the Apprentice becomes conscious of his ability to structure his potential force he may give that energy form thus creating a change toward a more perfect state. 


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.


The Impact of Taking Your Values to Work


by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
R.H. Johnson 32°


I sometimes wonder how different my work ethic would be if I did not take the values of Freemasonry to work with me. I look back to before I was a Brother, a mere six years ago and ask myself, do I like who I remember? Probably not as much as I would hope to. 

Don't be this guy
The values I took and continue to take from the Craft are seemingly infinite. When you think about it, there really is not one choice I make in a day that Freemasonry  doesn’t impact in some way. It’s like a little reminder in the back of my brain, always there, always poking me and saying “Hey, are you sure you want to go about it that way?” whenever I have to make a questionable judgment call. It’s like a mother-in-law guilt trip, joking of course. 

But in all seriousness, when a difficult situation arises those values just seem to come through and it shows. You see, my “day job” is in safety in the workplace. Although I am not a manager, I seem receive more respect from employees than many. Those same employees come to talk to me in place of the human resources department for advice, family issues and anything else and I believe its because I am able to keep secrets and offer advice which is safe, truthful and meaningful. 

And where did I learn to do this? Well at the place all Masons are first prepared to become  a Mason. In my heart, but those qualities were absolutely refined in the lodge room. 

My supervisors all know my lodge schedule, they don't interfere with it either. They know, that to me, it’s my “church”. They know that I am a charitable man, a good man, a powerful man (in the sense of the examples I set in honesty and integrity in the work place), and above all a rich man, not with money of course. The richness that comes from family, friends, neighbors, Brothers, Fellows and life itself. 

A square deal.
There are times I catch co-workers staring when I have a conversation with a well off client. They see me talking and laughing with them, shaking hands and even hugging some of them. After the client leaves my supervisors would say, “How do you know that guy?” And I simply say “He’s one of my Brothers”. 

At the end of the day, I can say that Freemasonry lends itself to a professional and meaningful experience in the work place. There is an  an excerpt, the phrase “Plain dealings  distinguish us” which shows that we are men of truth, that there are no hidden objectives, in other words, no manure, or whatever other colorful word you choose to use. 

These virtues which we are taught and employ don’t stop at the threshold of ANY door, especially the work place. Freemasonry is not just a weekly meeting, it’s a way of life, and so you should employ it for everything contained within your life.

~Bro. R.H. Johnson 32°

Sir Knight Robert Johnson, 32° is the editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog.  He 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, and a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago.  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 Incident


by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
 Steven L. Harrison, PM, FMLR

Prince Hall
      The following story is true.  As is usually the case in sensitive stories, all references to individuals and the Lodge involved have been removed.  I was not present, but I have heard this account from multiple first-hand sources and what they say is consistent.

      In January 2013, the members of "Standard Lodge #101" met to consider the petition of an African American man.  For his own personal reasons the man had decided he did not want to petition for Prince Hall affiliation.  The investigating committee had reported full and favorable and the Lodge proceeded to vote.  Four black cubes appeared in the ballot box, denying the man admission to the fraternity for no other reason than his race.  It was not an issue with most members of the Lodge, some of whom reported the incident to a member of the state's Grand Advancing Line.

      Two weeks later, at Standard Lodge's next stated meeting, members were surprised to find the Grand Officers of the state at their meeting, with the candidate who had been denied membership.  The Grand Master opened Standard Lodge #101 and called for another vote on the candidate.  We will never know what was in the ballot box; speculation is that there may again have been four black cubes.  The Grand Master, however, as is his prerogative, declared the ballot "clear in the East."  He then conducted the initiation of our new Brother.

Bro. Zulu, out of CA.
      Four members of Standard Lodge, in protest, have demitted.  While the remainder of the members of Standard Lodge voted in favor, our new Brother has transferred to a different Lodge, where he is as welcome as any new member.


      The history of the United States began with many accepting the scourge of slavery.  Today, we have an African American president.  We've progressed a long way.  Freemasonry, likewise, has come a long way.  Regrettably, as evidenced by this incident, the journey is not over.  We are, however, traveling men, experienced with overcoming the perils of a rough and rugged road. 




~SH

Steve Harrison, 32° KCCHis 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 Senior Warden.  He is a dual member of Kearney Lodge #311, St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite, Moila Shrine and is a member of the DeMolay Legion of Honor.

The Renewal of a Lodge


by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Gregory J. Knott
St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph Illinois

        Recently St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph Illinois hosted Most Worshipful Brother Terry L. Seward, Grand Master of Illinois AF & AM for the raising of a brother to the sublime degree of Master Mason.  This was quite a special visit for our lodge.  We are a group of brethren that has brought a lodge back from the brink of death to become a vibrant, growing and active lodge in our area.
Having the Grand Master present was special because it really solidified all the hard work that has been done by the members over the last 5 years.  St. Joseph Lodge has grown in membership four consecutive years, won the Illinois Grand Masters Award of Excellence twice; in 2011 we became the first lodge in Illinois ever to win the Mark Twain Award from the Masonic Service Association.
We have increased our awareness in the community by sponsoring our high school Scholastic Bowl Team, the annual community Memorial Day service, established a Scouting Venturing Crew, award a scholarship to a high school senior, began an outreach program to our widows, involving our families with our annual picnic, Thanksgiving dinner and a movie night for kids in the lodge room.
To recognize the community we give our annual Community Builders award, honoring members of our community who make significant contributions to our community.
For our brethren we have had events such as Saturday morning Masters Breakfasts, Lodge education nights, walking in a 5K and an election night gathering.
Phoenix symbolizing rebirth.
I bring our story to you for the purpose of encouraging you to improve your lodge.  Give the brethren a reason to come to your stated meetings. Try something different other than reading the minutes and paying the bills (we don’t read our minutes by the way they are printed and handed out).  
Start with a simple goal of improving one thing for your lodge this year.  Perhaps you bring a new brother in as member, provide a masonic education moment at a stated meeting or reach out to your widows.   
I can assure you that the effort you put into lodge will be returned to you tenfold.


Sincerely & Fraternally,

W.B. Gregory J. Knott

WB 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) and the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. 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.


We Are Never Alone: Honoring Our Departed Brothers

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Todd E. Creason

Used with permission of Living Stones Magazine
As a Lodge Secretary, I can tell you that one of the most important duties I perform is reporting the passing of a Brother to the Brethren, and when the family requests it, helping to organize the Masonic Funeral Rites.  I wanted to tell you a story about an experience I had a few months ago that demonstrated just how important Masons take this final responsibility to our Brothers.

I received notice one evening some months ago that one of our members had passed away.  He was in his 90s, and hadn't been to lodge in years.  Only a few of our members were old enough to remember him, but Masonry had been a very important part of his life in his younger years and he'd been very active in the lodge, and in the Shriners.  The family requested the Masonic Rites performed after the visitation (that's generally how its done where I'm from), and we were happy to do so. 

We never have a problem turning out a good showing for the Masonic Funeral Rites.  In fact, we have a regular group that performs the Rites with great skill.  If you've never seen a Masonic Funeral Rite, it's probably one of the most emotionally moving and meaningful ceremonies you're ever likely to see.  In addition to the Rites, the family needed some help with another detail.  They wanted to know if I could line up some pall bearers as well. 

It's a wonderful thing to live a long and active life, but one of the costs of living so long is that very often you outlive all your friends, much of your family, and sometimes even your children--and that was the case with this Brother.  There just weren't enough close friends and family left.

The funeral was during the day, and during the middle of the week. To be honest, I was a little concerned about the request when I first agreed to line up six Masons.  We're a small lodge in a small Midwestern town.  I knew most of our members who would be available for the funeral weren't much younger than the Brother who passed away, and those who were able worked during the day.  I put the word out to Masonic Lodges far and wide that we needed pall bearers because I knew it was going to be tough to find able-bodied Masons during the workday. 

But I was completely wrong about that.  I needn't have cast my nets so far and wide--within an hour I had my six lined up and about another dozen on standby.  We wound up with the Master of the Lodge, Treasurer, three 33rd Degree Masons, and an Assistant Area Grand Master as pall bearers--and three of the six missed work to attend.  That's how important that obligation is.

I learned something from that experience--I wasn't taking that responsibility of a Master Mason seriously enough.  It's easy sometimes to skip a Masonic Funeral Rite by saying "I didn't even know him" or "it's been a long day."  But that Rite isn't just for the departed Brother--it's for the family.  And in those cases where the Brother lived a very long life, it can be very meaningful to those family and friends that remain to see this large group of Masons show up dressed in suits and wearing white aprons and gloves, many of which never knew the deceased, and perform this touching tribute in his memory.  It leaves a long and lasting impression on them.

It's not a task, and it's not a chore--it's an honor.  And it's comforting to know that when our time comes, the same will be done for us. As my new friend and Brother Robert Herd said, "In Brotherhood we find comfort in knowing we are not alone, even upon the occasion of our death."

I'd like to thank Bro. Robert Herd and Living Stones Magazine for letting me use his graphic quotation at the opening of the article.  I'd just about finished this article when I saw it on Facebook, and realized it would be a perfect compliment for this piece.  I contacted Bro. Robert Herd and asked his permission, and as expected, he basically said "what's mine is yours, Brother." 

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the original founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog, and author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series.  He is member of Homer Lodge No. 199, and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL).  He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), the Ansar Shrine (IL), Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, and Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL).  He is also the author of the blog From Labor To Refreshment . . .