UPDATE Masonic Rings: Points In Or Points Out?

by Midnight Freemasons contributor
Todd E. Creason, 33°
Several weeks ago, Brian Schimian and I wrote a piece together called Masonic Rings: Points In Or Points Out.  To say it was well recieved would be an understatement--I've been doing this since 2007, and I can say I've never seen anything like it before.  It was all over Facebook, and Twitter, and I couldn't even begin to guess how many emails I got from all over the USA.  Everyone had a thought about how Masonic rings should be properly worn.

Brian and I knew it was a good discussion topic, because the subject had come up more than once during group discussions on Facebook, and it always led to an entertaining exchange between the points up Masons and the points down Masons.  All it good fun, of course.  We thought it would be fun to open up a discussion, and find out what everyone thought, and hopefully learn what some more of these customs were and the logic behind them.  It worked fabulously.

As Brian Shimian and I suspected, there were a lot more customs out there than we thought.  I thought I'd post a few of those customs our readers were good enough to share.  There was a lot of variety but three main schools of thought on the topic emerged.  They are as follows:
1.)  Points in when you are a Master Mason, because that is the way the square and compass first appeared to you.  Points out when you are a Past Master, because that is the view of the square and compass when you present them.
2.)  Points in when you are in lodge.  Points out when you are outside the lodge.
3.)  Points out when you're traveling so that other Masons might recognize you as a Brother.
There was one comment in particular that I really liked.  It wasn't a lodge custom, it was the individual Master Mason's custom.  He said he didn't look at the ring when he put it on in the morning.  He said if it happened to be points in, it meant that on that day, he was going to work on becoming a better man.  If it happened to be points out, he was going to do what he could that day to make the world a better place.  I thought that was a fantastic way of looking at things.

And one Master Mason said you wear your Masonic ring with the sharp points out before coffee, to warn those that might not be aware that it was unsafe to approach.  I pretty sure he was pulling my leg. 
And while so many were willing to share their local customs on how to wear Masonic rings, nobody seemed to think it was particularly important.  One thing that was said over and over in the comments and emails was that it really doesn't matter so long as you wear the ring proudly and that you always present yourself as a good example of what a Freemason is. 

And, of course, that is correct--it really doesn't matter.  Brian and I had come to that conclusion long before we wrote the piece.  Thank you all for participating in our discussion.  It was great fun!


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). You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org     

Budgeting the Lodge - For the Better of the Fraternity

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Aaron Gardner

We all see the saving tips and how to turn your dollar into a million plans all over the Internet. Rather they are get rich schemes or legitimate savings tips and ideas, they are all over the place. In today’s world of credit it’s easy to see why. So many individuals are actually going further in debt to pay off other debt. Which is ridiculous, however we do have a Government that shows that it is perfectly all right… No, I am not going to start giving ideas on how we can fix our Federal Government’s current financial predicament. Although, in our fraternity we do have a similar situation—on a much smaller scale that is.  

Countless times I have talked to brethren across the nation and even in different countries to find one problem that we have in our society. Our lodges are struggling to provide for the communities they serve, the buildings they use and sadly the brethren who sit inside the lodge. 

Every lodge has a minimum amount of funding they have to have in their given financial institutions. It could be a zero balance or it could be ranging anywhere from $1 to $5,000 dollars.  Regardless of what they have in the account, there is a troubling situation when our lodges are having a hard time coming on top of their overhead.  Many point the finger at the loss of memberships and lack of petitions. When the bills start piling up, are those really the problems we need to identify? 

I’d like to make a couple suggestions on where we should focus in order to be sure we have enough money in our lodge for our usual expenses, emergency expenses as well as expenses for new programs. 

First, for those lodges who have lost members, yes this is tragic, however it doesn’t mean that your lodge can’t come out on top.  We may be suffering from fewer members than in previous years; however, our fraternity has lasted through out the centuries despite the challenges set against us.  If you have a masonic body made up of fewer than 10 members who regularly show for stated meetings, perhaps its time to consider consolidating with other local lodges. 

I know, this is not in the best interest for the history of your lodge and you want to uphold that history. Yet, is it really upholding the lodge history when you may have to close the doors due to lack of membership? Remember, when we close a lodge we always ask the members if they have anything for the better of the fraternity; trying to uphold one particular lodge’s history is not for the better of our organization. Let’s consider the benefits of consolidating: 

  • Bills would be shared amongst a different lodge. 
  • We can always learn from other lodges experiences.
  • We can be a part of history and create a newer lodge in the community and create fresh ideas out of the rubble of two or more closed lodges. The phoenix of your community. 
  • A larger community to reach out to and possibly receives more petitions.
  • With a larger body, the sometimes-lacking ritual can be restored without more than one person sharing roles. 

These are just a few benefits that our local lodges would experience. There are a lot more and together we can contemplate these. I just suggest our WM’s and PM’s and officers alike consider these when sitting at the trestle board trying to save their lodge. 

For those lodges that are not lacking in membership, but are still having a hard time paying the bills, let me ask you a simple question. What is your lodge’s primary means of income? If you answer with your member’s dues, are they high enough? If they are low enough for a member to pay out of pocket change, perhaps you should increase them. I have talked to brethren across the country about their dues and they all seem to agree about a months worth of pay should be average for the year. Now, of course this all is depending on your location and the average income for a household in your community. It is up to your lodge to find a medium with your members on what their membership is worth to them.  

If your member’s are already paying a considerable amount for their dues perhaps it is time to look at your expenses. If you have a large enough body of members and they are paying a substantial amount for dues, where is your lodge’s money going? What programs is your lodge participating in that could use some readjustments? I suggest you write down all of your bills in order of precedence. First and foremost you need to pay overhead. That is the most important bill, there would be no building without it. Overhead consists of the usual, Property Tax/Rent, Electricity, Gas (If you have it) Heating and A/C. Then write down the programs your lodge is funding in order by expenses, The Most expensive first. 

Once you have all your outcome money written down in order of precedence, start looking at the programs and figuring if any of the programs can be either scrapped, consolidated or you can provide less money for any of them. If there is a program that seems to not be going anywhere, and is more costly than producing results, GET RID OF IT! These types of programs are toxic to our society and more damaging to your community. Yes, I understand your lodges “Christmas Bike Program” is a great and noble cause, it works in other lodges and your hoping it will eventually become worth the money spent and the time invested.  Well, until that time don’t fund it. It is important that your lodge stays above water or else it wouldn’t be very beneficial. 

Refocus your lodge’s money through the programs. If you are spending a substantial amount of money on one program but not another, ask why that is. It could be that one program legitimately needs that money dedicated toward it. It’s also possible that some of those funds are not functioning the way they should.  The solution to this is rather simple; pull some of those funds and divide them amongst other programs that may need more attention. If none of this helps get your lodge back above water, there are other solutions to the funding issues. 

Do you have a lack of obedience in your lodge?  Are members causing distractions during degree work? Fine them. There are plenty of lodges across this nation who are known to cite a fine toward their members if they are being less than productive during work.  It is a simple way to earn money in the lodge and it helps instill discipline.  A win-win if you ask me, although I really do not want to be the member that has to pay the fine. 

Finally, there is one more solution I have in my toolbox that we can use across all of our lodges. It will, possibly, cost some money at the beginning if your lodge is lacking in maintenance. However, turn your lodge into something that could bring money in from the community. When I was raised, I was raised in the very lodge that accepted my family and friends into their fellowship hall for my graduation/going away party when I was 18 years old and heading off for the Army.  Flushing Lodge #223 rents out their fellowship hall to members of the community for a decent price.  It is a great way to bring in some kind of external revenue to help alleviate the woes of the recession our country and world is going through.  Not to mention bring in potential petitions. Once you get your lodge up to standard and make it more of a sellable product you can become more visible in your community. I will not take any thunder away from fellow Midnight Freemason contributor W.B Greg Knott.  He is working on his series of “Increasing Your Lodge’s Visibility. It is a great series and beneficial to lodges looking for a way to breathe again in the recession. You can find his article here

With these set in place our lodges can become the shining light in our community, they once were. A community coming together for the better, our Craft of Freemasonry upstaging the conspiracies and allowing the public to see us in a different light.  Now that really is a Win-Win. 


Bro. Aaron Gardner was raised as a Master Mason in his hometown lodge of Flushing, Michigan. He has served in active duty with the United States Army for the last seven years in which he has become well traveled around the world. He is currently stationed in Lawton, Oklahoma where he is a member of Triangle Lodge #548. When Bro. Gardner is not defending the nation, he takes great pride in writing articles for his blog Celestial Brotherhood, writing his fiction novel and researching all he can involving the Craft.

Dr. Conrad Murray: Freemason Or Not?

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Todd E. Creason, 33°

On June 25th, 2009, the world received some shocking news--Michael Jackson, the "King of Pop" was dead at the age of fifty.  Once the shock of the news subsided, what the world wanted to know was why and how the pop star came to such an untimely end.  And all eyes began to focus on Michael Jackson's personal physician--Dr. Conrad Murray.  Without question, Michael Jackson was using some very powerful drugs, including the surgical anesthetic propofol administered by Murray.  Murray ultimately was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to four years in prison--he was released after serving two.

During the trial, the above photo was released by Murray's attorney, and the press went wild with the news that Murray was a Freemason.  According to the information provided, Murray is the Grand Medical Director of the United Most Worshipful Scottish Rite Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F.&A.M. 

Michael Jackson
1958 - 2009
This evidence satisfied the press of his Masonic credentials, and the story was repeated over and over again that Murray is a Freemason.  But most Masons will see the problem almost immediately with both his title and the Masonic organization he belongs to. There is simply no such title as "Grand Medical Director."

But that's not all . . . The United Most Worshipful Scottish Rite Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F. & A.M. is bogus, too--it is not recognized by any official Masonic body and isn't associated with any Grand Lodge of Freemasons.  It is certainly not affiliated with the Grand Lodge of Texas.  It is not affiliated with the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas.  And it is unknown to the Scottish Rite of Texas.

The United Most Worshipful Scottish Rite Grand Lodge of Texas is one of many phony Masonic organizations that are out there today (or what Masons would call clandestine organizations).
So back to the original question.  Is Dr. Conrad Murray a Freemason?
No, he is not.


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). You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Working with Others in the Community: The Third in a Series

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

In the first installment of this series, I reviewed setting goals to improve your lodge, the second installment focused on lodge visibility regarding the physical presence of your lodge in the community.  For the third installment I want to discuss relationships with others in the community as a means of raising visibility and growing your membership.

Perhaps we should look at the definition of community.  According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary community is “a group of people who live in the same areas (such as a city, town, or neighborhood), a group of people with the same interests, etc.” 

How a lodge defines their community will differ from lodge to lodge.   If you are in a rural town it could be the village where the lodge is located, surrounding rural areas and perhaps other nearby small towns.  If you live in a more urban environment your community may be defined by neighborhoods, groups of people with similar interests etc.

I am a member of three different lodges in my area.  They are very close to one another only about 5 miles apart.   This harkens back to a day when agriculture had a major influence on the developments of villages and communities.

One of these lodges St. Joseph No. 970 is the focus of this series.  One of our goals was to increase our membership, after all we were about to turn the lights out forever.   The lodge is located in St. Joseph, Illinois which is a small but growing community located about 10 miles from the University of Illinois.  Over the last twenty years, the town has experienced a lot of growth, meaning many new families have moved to town.

St. Joseph Lodge hadn’t been able to capture the benefit of this growth, primarily because the lodge had lost its identity and place within the community.  People simply didn’t know we were around, despite that fact that our lodge hall was one of the largest buildings downtown.

So we began to work on the membership growth from a number of angles.  First we put ourselves in a situation to be seen in the community.  The lodge conducted an I-Chip program with the local pre-school, the son of one member decided to petition, and soon a local school superintendent did as well.   For the first time in several years we began having degree work on a regular basis.

I was serving as Cub Master for the local Cub Scout Pack and this seemed like a natural group to work with as well.  In planning the annual lodge pancake breakfast, we decided to team up with the Pack and do it together.  The Pack has a built in audience with parents and Cub Scouts eager to help.  This opportunity also soon introduced the parents to the lodge and what we were about.

Community 9-11 Memorial Service
The relationship with the Cub Scout and Boy Scouts grew and we have jointly sponsored the annual Community Memorial Day observance.  In 2011 we worked together to sponsor a 10th anniversary of September 11 and had over 400 members of the community present.  Since then we have also began working with the Girl Scouts as well.

 Our lodge is now the chartered organization for a new Venturing Crew, which is a co-ed group for youth ages 14-21 as part of the Scouting movement.

We have worked with the local American Legion to help with their fish fry again helping our visibility and also helping the Legion keep their long standing fish fry continue in the community.  The Legion has allowed the lodge to use the Legion Hall when we have held dinners.

Community Builder Award
In 2010 we began the St. Joseph Lodge Community Builders Award and we have honored several members of the local community for their efforts in making St. Joseph a stronger place to live.  The lodge also established an award “Stand By Your Mason - SBYM” given to the significant other of a lodge member for their support of our Lodge activities.

 We are the sponsors of our local high school Scholastic Bowl team and have a pizza party for them each year to celebrate their accomplishments.   Our lodge has sponsored a breakfast for the teams that participate in the regional tournament when it is held at our school.   Additionally we sponsor a scholarship each year for a graduating senior.

These are just some of the activities that we have participated in that have put the lodge back on the community radar.  The community knows we are here again and the growth in our membership has shown very positive results.  From the scouting connections alone we now have ten new members who have a Scouting affiliation.

My advice is to get out into the community and see where the lodge can help make a difference.  Exposure to what our great fraternity is about can only be done when others learn about who we are.  St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 is now preparing to celebrate our 100th anniversary.  This celebration is not just for the lodge, but the entire community of whom the lodge is an integral part again.

The next installment of this series will focus on publicity and ways for getting the word out about the lodge in the media and beyond.


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), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign-Urbana. He is also a member of ANSAR Shrine (IL) and the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. Greg serves on the Board of Directors of The Masonic Society and is a member of the Scottish Rite Research Society and The Philathes Society. Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts—an Eagle Scout himself, he is a member of the National Association of Masonic Scouters.

Wear Your Masonry Out Loud

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

My wife and I don’t get date nights as often as we’d like, and they tend not to be much more than dinner, coffee, and bookstore browsing, but sometimes we’re able to plan enough in advance to do something special. So when I found out a few months ago that Ladysmith Black Mambazo was going to have a concert at the Doudna Fine Arts Center at Eastern Illinois University, where I work, I bought tickets as soon as they went on sale. We’ve loved their music since Paul Simon’s album Graceland, and this was too good an opportunity to pass up.  So after a nice dinner without the kids in tow, we headed to the theater, greeted old friends, and stood in line. I was looking around, and noticed a guy wearing a ball cap with the square and compasses. I didn’t know him, which was odd, since I know most of the Masons around here at least by sight. As it turned out, his seats were right behind ours, and we had a chance to talk. He and his son had just moved to central Illinois from Oklahoma, where he’d been an active Mason, and he felt a bit lost. I was able to give him contact information for his District Deputy Grand Master, tell him a bit about local lodges and Masonic events, and generally extend greetings to a Brother who missed his normal Masonic fellowship.

None of that would have happened if he hadn’t been wearing a hat with the Square and Compasses on it. He also had a couple of Past Master’s jewels around his neck, several rings, and a Masonic t-shirt, and he asked me why no one in Illinois wore Masonry that way. Everyone back home did, he said. I told him that we tended to stick with rings and the occasional polo shirt, although if he came to a degree, he’d likely see some Brothers with pins enough to act as a bulletproof vest. We parted ways after the concert, musically sated and Masonically refreshed. But he got me thinking. Why don’t more of us wear our Masonry out loud?

My fellow Midnight Freemasons, Todd Creason and Brian Schimian recently had a conversation about whether a Masonic ring should be worn points in or points out. As both of them would freely admit, this is an “angels dancing on the head of a pin” question, where the answer doesn’t matter as much as the discussion, and it appears that a good time was had by all who read it and commented. What does matter, though, is that we do wear the Square and Compasses so that people can see them. As Todd put it in an article we wrote a few years ago, “Traditionally, Freemasonry’s only form of advertising is Freemasons.” Our character is certainly our first and most important form of declaring to the world that we are of the Craft, but part of our responsibility to the Fraternity is letting potential Masons know that our character and the Craft are intertwined, and that it’s there for them too. Freemasonry is becoming better known than it was a few years ago, but Freemasons aren’t unless they wear their Masonry in tangible form. I would never have talked with my Brother from Oklahoma if he hadn’t been advertising his Masonry so visibly, and 2B1ASK1 doesn’t work if no one knows who to ask. If more Brothers wore their symbols with as much visibility and pride as did my Oklahoma Brother, more men would know who to ask about the Craft. 

So, I’m taking a lesson from that evening. I’m going to pay more attention to being a Mason in more tangible ways. It’s certainly true that if I want my lodge to thrive, I need to be visibly a Mason in character, word, and deed. I need to encourage my Brethren to do things for the community, to exemplify the Work, to study our history, and to embrace the lessons of the Fraternity, but I need to do more than that. I need to wear my Masonry out loud. 


R. W. B. Michael H. Shirley is Assistant Area Deputy Grand Master for the Eastern Area for the Grand Lodge of Illinois A.F. & A.M, as well as a Certified Lodge Instructor and Leadership Development Chairman for the Grand Lodge of Illinois. A Past Master and Life Member of Tuscola Lodge No. 332, a plural member of Island City Lodge No. 330, F & AM, in Minocqua Wisconsin and he is also a member of the Illinois Lodge of Research, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. The author of several articles on British history, he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.


by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Aaron Gardner

When addressing the Nation with his first inaugural speech, President and Brother Franklin D. Roosevelt gave us a line that we still use today because of how true it really is. He is speaking in regards of the Nation’s future when he says “ The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” He continues to define exactly what fear is, the unreasoning and unjustified terror. Fear holds us back as a nation from doing what we need to do in order to progress further into the future. However, doesn’t it motivate from the other side as well? 

When I was seventeen years old I enlisted in the Army. I didn’t let my fear of the future get in the way, I just signed the dotted line and barely listened to what the recruiter had to say. The truth is, I knew what I was doing before I walked into the recruiting office. I was signing up for new adventures, an education and an experience that few could have on their own. I left for basic training a year later, pumped and motivated but a little afraid of what was to come. I have seen all the movies, TV shows and the Youtube videos of the Soldiers in training, but I knew that it wouldn’t be like that because I did training already for a year with my recruiters and different Soldiers. Still, the uncertainty left a sense of fear in my mind of what was going to happen. 

When I walked up to that door feeling ridiculous in the clothing I was wearing, the hoodwink over my eyes; I couldn’t help but have a sense of fear of what was about to happen as my hand was fixed upon the door to render 3 loud raps. I have been a Soldier for quite some time by now, with tours all across Iraq, Africa, Europe and the United States there wasn’t much to make me feel scared. However, losing a sense that I rely very heavily on tends to put that sense of fear in my heart. I knew there was nothing to be afraid of, by all the research I had conducted regarding Freemasonry, but still I was somewhat exposed and had no choice but to rely on my conductor and other senses to guide me around. Knowing not what I was really getting myself into, the fear motivated me to want more and find out where I was going on this path of enlightenment. 

Here I sit, writing this article with great zeal and love for the Craft and still with some fear in my heart. It isn’t uncommon for me to write an article, complete the entire article and not have it published. I may write it, revise and edit it then decide the article isn’t quite what I was looking for. I fear the article may have some backlash, or that it doesn’t represent Freemasonry in the light that I want to portray it. When this happens I simply save the article into my documents and forget about it. I may eventually publish the articles down the line if I feel that I can reedit them to how I want, or if I feel that my previous fear was irrational. 

Regardless, my fear keeps me going. I write constantly because of my fear. I am afraid that the article may not be good enough for my audience. Making me turn around a different article in order to be better. My fear makes me strive to perfect my ashlar and work on my trestle board of writing. So, is fear necessarily a bad thing? 

The answer to that question is a double edged sword. Yes, it can be a good motivator in what ever you need to be motivated in. It can also cause harm. When we are so afraid to do something that we don’t do it, what opportunities did we miss out on? What in life are we allowing to pass us by? 

For example, I have been in the Army for close to eight years. I am now beginning my process of getting out and adjusting back into the civilian life that I once lived when I was a teenager. Of course, like anyone else growing up I have changed. My views on the world, my opinions, my skill set and everything else about me has changed since I was 17 years old. Not only have I changed but the way of the world has changed. When there were few jobs that I could get, now there are less. It can be very daunting for a Soldier to leave the Army and become a civilian once more, especially with the economy the way it is today. Even more so, what I would like to do when I get out of the Army just doesn’t offer the financial stability that I am used to working for Uncle Sam. 

The future is very daunting indeed, but that doesn’t mean I can just give up on what I want to do. Because of Freemasonry, I have gotten more into writing and that is exactly what I want to do. It can be a very fulfilling life and career, as long as you have you the support system that you need in order to be successful. I would dedicate most my time to researching Freemasonry, writing about it, writing different philosophies on life in regards to Freemasonry, writing my own novels and whatever else comes to mind. Yet, the fear of what will happen will always resonate in my mind and it makes me debate whether I want to reenlist or not. I can not allow that fear to get in the way. I may need to obtain some kind of job outside the Army to ensure I have stability, but one way or the other, I can not allow the fear of leaving what I have known hinder me from what could be. 

Brethren, because of my past experiences I have learned to not let my fears control me.   Because of Freemasonry, I have the opportunity to head forth into the darkness with no known knowledge of what I am heading into. I am equipped with all the tools of Freemasonry so that I can light the way for future brethren who wish to follow the path. I however encourage everyone to make their own path and use the tools that we are given within the craft to light the way, and leave no corner of the world in darkness. 


Bro. Aaron Gardner was raised as a Master Mason in his hometown lodge of Flushing, Michigan. He has served in active duty with the United States Army for the last seven years in which he has become well traveled around the world. He is currently stationed in Lawton, Oklahoma where he is a member of Triangle Lodge #548. When Bro. Gardner is not defending the nation, he takes great pride in writing articles for his blog Celestial Brotherhood, writing his fiction novel and researching all he can involving the Craft.

Stick A Freemason In It...

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, 33°, FMLR

"I was a Freemason before it was trendy." ~Mr. Burns, The Simpsons

Oh, Freemasonry is trendy, all right; and the "modern" trend, in my estimation, began November 19, 2004.  That's the day a blockbuster film, National Treasure, had its United States debut.  The movie takes you on a wild adventure as competing groups track down and rediscover history's greatest treasure.  Adding to the mystery of the search is the revelation that the loot is the fabled Templar Treasure, hidden and guarded by none other than those enigmatic Freemasons.  The popular film sparked an interest in Freemasonry, with Grand Lodges reporting an increase in inquiries and petitions.

Soon afterward, author Dan Brown released his national bestseller, The DaVinci Code.  The book contained Masonic symbolism and references, some disputed, but once again, interest in Freemasonry surged.  Hollywood, ever mindful of the financial benefits of capitalizing on a popular trend, took notice.  The DaVinci Code movie soon came out, followed by the sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets. Brown followed with Angels and Demons, another book with Masonic allusions, with a film that followed.  Finally, Brown published his long-anticipated Lost Secret.  In all of these works of fiction, the Masons were generally, but not always, the good guys.  They were also cloaked in mystery.  The Masonic ritual in Brown's books had many inaccuracies, but the general public would not know that.  The end result was that Freemasonry found itself on a pop-culture roll that continues through today.

Now, a slew of Hollywood writers have jumped on the bandwagon.  It seems the new theory is this: to make a story (good or bad) more popular — stick a Freemason in it.  Freemasons are popular and mysterious.  Fiction writers know they can weave interesting, even supernatural, tales into shows involving Masons and, since they are perceived to be so secretive, who is to dispute what is and is not fact?

Apparently viewers are eating it up.  The History Channel, A&E and others are replete with Masonic programming ranging from documentaries about the Freemasons to sinister "exposés."  Even CBS recently tossed its hat into the ring with a segment about the Masons on its popular Sunday Morning show.

Prime-time TV has seen new shows that have followed the trend.  This season alone, at least three popular dramas have gone the "stick a Freemason in it" route.

Sleepy Hollow is a modern-day rendering of Washington Irving's classic short story of the same name.  In the new version, Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman return to life in the 21st century to continue their dichotomous and apparently never-ending battle representing good vs. evil. Crane teams up with a female lieutenant in current-day Sleepy Hollow's police department to fight against the forces wreaking havoc on the town.  Perhaps an interesting enough scenario to those enjoying the genre, the authors have stirred the pot further by making Crane a Freemason.  The series depicts the Freemasons as having mystical powers with secret and magical tools to help ward off the evil forces.  Additionally, it turns out under the leadership of George Washington, they were the architects of a plan to thwart the Apocalypse.

Castle is an ABC crime drama now in its 6th season.  Its premise: a best-selling novelist, Richard Castle, teams up with a New York homicide detective so he can do research and, together, they end up solving crimes.  It does not have any sort of Masonic undertones but this season, in an episode entitled "Get A Clue,"  the pair are thrust into a case reminiscent of The DaVinci code and Lost Symbol.  The episode weaves a tale with the protagonists bouncing from one Masonic clue to another, culminating in the discovery of a Masonic treasure.

White Collar debuted in 2009 on the USA network.  In this series, a former criminal gains an early release from prison by agreeing to help the FBI solve crimes.  Several episodes this year have chronicled a case guided by an ancient Masonic codex which leads the pair through several Masonic venues, ultimately leading to the solution of the crime and recovery of a great treasure, the sister stone of the Hope diamond.

Without going into too much detail, let's just say none of these shows gets Freemasonry right.  In Sleepy Hollow, we learn Freemasons have tools like "hex candles" with magic powers.  In Castle, we see "Masonic symbols" that aren't Masonic symbols.  In White Collar we find "Masons have their hand everywhere including all the Masonic symbolism on Michael Jackson's Dangerous album cover."  We also learn asking a reluctant Brother — and I quote exactly — "Who will help the widow's son," will induce him to offer minor assistance, in this case a drink of water.

In addition to all this, the granddaddy of all the media attention coming our way this season is a new movie simply called The Freemason.  It's different from the other shows.  It's producer, Joseph James is, in fact, a Freemason.  He didn't "stick a Freemason in it;" he wrapped the entire film around Freemasonry in a well-produced nail-biter of a who-done-it.  Brother James has acknowledged some of the Masonic events and symbolism in the film aren't exactly as you might expect, but that's on purpose: there were some things he felt he shouldn't put in a film.  Yet, more than other shows it's true to the Craft and — big spoiler alert — the Freemasons are the good guys.  

So there you have it.  Pop culture may or may not be getting it right, but trendy we are.  The question is, so what? Are Freemasons prepared for this?  How do we deal with it?  Do we continue to ignore it? Can we take advantage of it?  Do we have a (gasp!) plan?

This trend isn't going to go away anytime soon.  Plans to release films like National Treasure III and The Lost Symbol are in the works.  Maybe it's time we bite the bullet and come up with that plan —  perhaps a plan to help make future Masonic references more realistic; or to help dispel some myths; maybe one to subtly promote the fraternity.

Y'know, when Hollywood makes a medical show, producers hire doctors as consultants.  For legal shows, they consult with attorneys.  How about a few Freemasons as consultants in shows with a Masonic theme?  And just maybe we should work with producers like Brother Joseph James and writers like the Midnight Freemasons' own novelist Todd Creason who know the fraternity and are already casting it in a good light. In fact, maybe we should encourage Brothers James and Creason to team up... that would work for me.


Steve Harrison, 33° KCCH, is a Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is the editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine, author of the book Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research and also its 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.


by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Judy A. Gordon

This is an article by Judy A Gordon originally printed in The Working Tools magazine. 

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

~ Bro. Mark Twain

If you hear me say…”go take a H.I.K.E”.…do not be insulted. In the Job’s Daughters word, H.I.K.E has a new meaning. Here is a brief history of H.I.K.E.;

The HIKE Fund, Inc. (Hearing Impaired Kids Endowment Fund) collects funds to award to children who are in need of hearing aids or other assistive listening devices whose parents or guardians are unable to meet this specific need.

The HIKE Fund, Inc. was created in 1985 by Emma Tedrick and Charles Terrill, the international leaders for Job's Daughters International (JDI). The Fund was developed as the philanthropic project of the JDI, a Masonic youth organization for girls, to give the members of that organization a specific and unique charity to which they were able to devote their energies.

The first years of existence of The HIKE Fund, Inc. was focused on establishment and it’s stability. Articles of Incorporation were filed in the State of Nebraska in 1985, and HIKE was temporarily set up as a 501(c)(3) organization with the Internal Revenue Service of the United States. During the first year of operation, approximately $20,000 had been donated to the fund and awards were granted to seven children in the Philippines. Soon after, a $10,000 base endowment was placed in a certificate of deposit. In 1990, a review of the fund's records brought a final ruling from the IRS for The HIKE Fund, Inc. to be considered a tax-exempt charity.

Since those early years, several things have occurred to increase the reputation and responsibility of the organization.

With increased donations and awards has come increased community awareness. Each year the number of applicants increases dramatically. Fortunately, the revenue of The HIKE Fund has increased such that all worthy applicants are provided funding, although there is a waiting list of up to six months for many applicants.

The price of hearing devices continues to inflate. The HIKE Fund, Inc. awards funds to all children and adolescents from birth to the age of 20 years that have demonstrated both a medical and financial need. Recipients can reapply for an additional award after four years. There is no limit on the number of awards given per family.

As the work of The HIKE Fund, Inc. grew, the organizational structure was modified and the size of the board of directors was increased to better serve the purposes of HIKE. Additional board members have been added and responsibilities have been modified to increase the effectiveness of HIKE.

There continue to be no paid solicitors or paid board members. All members of the Board of Directors and all helpers and members of Job's Daughters who collect the funds are unpaid volunteers and the percentage of donations distributed to needy children approaches 95% of all funds collected.

Many challenges, both structural and financial, continue to challenge the work of The HIKE Fund, Inc. Today though, the fund continues to prosper and has reached over $3,000,000.00 in awards to children with hearing loss in the United States and the Philippines.

The structure of The HIKE Fund, Inc. is such that it allows for the organization of 36 states from Alaska to Texas and from Hawaii to Delaware into a cohesive unit, working towards a common goal.

There is also, a H.I.K.E. Fund Canada, Ltd. which serves similar needs in that country In the near future; there may be the establishment of a HIKE Fund Brazil as the JDI organization in that country has been giving serious consideration in establishing their own branch.” (www.thehikefund.org)

This past weekend, I was able to witness a 12 year old young lady become a recipient of the H.I.K.E. Fund. She received an $1800 check for her communication needs.
On September 21, 2013, Illinois and Missouri had a joint event called the Lincoln/Truman H.I.K.E. The two states had a friendly competition as to which state raised the most money for H.I.K.E. They met at Cahokia Mounds; (IL) went on a hike, ate lunch (proceeds of lunch to H.I.K.E) and gave out awards to the top Job’s Daughter for the most funds collected. Donations raised that day were Missouri $2397.43/Illinois $2471.00/Lunch $455-total for the day $5323.43!!! 

In Illinois, we have an Honorary State Honored Queen and her project is the H.I.K.E. fund. She is selling purple can cozies that say “kids helping kids “ on the front and “HIKE” on the back ($5). Also, the chairman of grand representatives project for the year is H.I.K.E. as well; and she is selling ear buds, which are in a case ($10). Both young ladies are working very hard to collect funds. For more information on H.I.K.E., please contact: Kaitlyn S kaitiebugg14@gmail.com Chairman of Grand Representative or Annaliza H glassman93@yahoo.com Honorary State Honored Queen.

If you know of a child that is in need of a communication device, go take a H.I.K.E., you will be amazed at the results.


Judy Gordon is very active in Job's Daughters. She's the Past Honored Queen, and Past 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). Judy is the recipient of the Degree of Royal Purple (2012) and elected to the Grand Line Illinois Job's Daughters (2015-16). Boaz joined the family in September 2013 and grandmother of 3 wonderful grandsons.

The Twelfth

Ever since he was a profane, this man, now Brother would email me and ask questions. Not long ago, he finally was raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason. Of course I am speaking about Brother Robert Walk Jr.

Brother Robert Walk Jr. is a brand new Master Mason with an old soul, he maintains his own blog On Freemasonry & Humble Pie as well as stopping by "The Midnight Freemasons" every once in a while to give us a guest post. I know Brother Walk had been clamoring for his third degree, but what he didn't know, is that I too was clamoring for it, as it meant I would then be able to invite him to join us here on our little blog.

About a week after Brother Walk's raising, I sent him an official invitation to join us as a regular contributor, needless to say, he accepted. I can not tell you all how excited I am to have Brother Walk's writing talent as well as his eternal bond as a Brother. I know I speak for everyone when I say "Welcome to the group!".

Brother Robert Walk Jr. is the creator and sole writer for On Freemasonry and Humble Pie: a Wordpress blog dedicated to his experiences and journey from being a petitioner, to Initiation, Passing, and to being Raised. A dialysis technician being his main work, he enjoys writing, rock climbing, drumming and craft beer in his free time. He is a Master Mason at Jephthah Lodge No. 222, A.F.&A.M. in Essex, MD.