Leadership Civility

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. David A. McCuistion, PM, 32º, KCCH

Are you fully satisfied with the growing uncivil culture magnified through movies, TV programs and society in general?

How does it affect your leadership, more specifically your "serving the needs of society”, which your behaviors broadcasts to those with whom you interact each and every day.

I am proposing that everyone resolve to be more civil not only in their leadership, but also in their everyday lives and personal interactions with everyone – 24/7, 365 days a year. 

For years human nature dictated behavior in treating others with respect, with ethical correctness, and with interactions grounded in the Golden Rule - "Doing unto others as you would like others to do unto you." Our esteemed President George Washington, at age sixteen, created 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, which he based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595.

The entertainment media seems to be on a quest to erode that standard with publicly abusive foul language, public sexual conduct that belongs in private, and disrespectful behaviors toward others as if nature gave them the right to do so. All purportedly a God-given right under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as if it is the natural behavior to exhibit.

For this reason Civility Projects are springing up nationwide attempting to return civility to society - personally and professionally. Hence, the very nature of Servant Leadership is the most logical leadership philosophy to be followed, again personally and professionally.

Speak Your Peace, Rutgers University, Alverno College, and the Oshkosh Civility Project are a few examples of entities who have initiated actions to return civility to society. In addition, P. M. Forni's book "Choosing Civility" expounds on 25 way to improve civility in human interactions.

Speak your Peace Civility Project suggests 9 Rules of Civility as core behaviors in dealing with others in a civil manner.  Below are a few examples for leaders to follow to promote civility and improve their leadership relationship with others.

1. Pay Attention/Listen.  Listen intently when others are speaking. Inhibit the "inner voice" from interrupting with comments such as "The problem is.......", or "We've always done it this way" in an attempt to stop the flow of ideas and suggestions. Listen for the "intent" and “will” of what is being said. Look for non-verbal communications and maintain eye-to-eye contact with the person with whom you are speaking. Lastly, listen to understand.

2. Be Inclusive.  Civility knows no ethnicity, no level of leadership, no forum, no religion, no sexual preference, no generation, and no bounds. Being inclusive includes everyone. It is about leading and serving for the betterment of mankind.


3. No Gossiping. Gossiping is one of the most hurtful behaviors and accomplishes nothing. Most times it is negative and idle words, that is divisive and destructive. In some cases, it is also racist.  All of which, quite possible, only lowers esteem.

4. Be Respectful. First of all, remember, respect has nothing to do with liking or disliking someone. Everyone deserves a certain level of respect; we all expect to be respected for who we are and what we have accomplished. A point I always make with my students is that, contrary to the common comment of “respect is earned,” how much more or less respect one garners depends on individual behavior, respect toward others, and the common decency, i.e. civility, extended toward others. Civility is “Respectful Behavior”, Respect is “Honorable Behavior.”

5. Build Relationships. Servant Leadership is about building relationships. Therefore, being civil is especially helpful in this process. There is no room for boasting and prideful attitudes, humility is the adhesive that solidifies teamwork and seeks to repair damaged relationships. Seek to apologize, forgive and affirm success of others.

6. Use Constructive Language. Be mindful of the words you use, when you use them, and also of the words you speak through your non-verbal communications. Foul language in the middle of the ocean, out of sight and sounds of others, may serve a purpose. However, foul language in a public forum is disrespectful toward others. More specifically, foul language often times indicates an inability to properly use correct language, as well as a limited repository of words and their usage.

7. Take Responsibility. Don’t shift responsibility or place blame on other people. Hold yourself accountable, accept your own faults, speak positively, clean up your language and respect everyone. Be The Example!

These are just a few of examples Servant Leaders need to follow in their interactions with other – all the time, in every situation and regardless of the type of organization in which one belongs.

Not only is it time to restore civility in all aspects of our lives, it is essential in your servant leadership principles and practices. 

Are you doing your part? Are you always civil in the example you set for others?

I hereby resolve for 2015 and the coming years that I will “Be the Example!” in treating everyone with Civility in all my personal and leadership behaviors. How about YOU?

Keep the Quest Alive!

~DAM

Brother David McCuistion 32° KCCH is Past Master of Garfield Lodge No. 41 in La Conner, Washington, Past Grand Chaplain of the MW Grand Lodge of Washington and Past Deputy to MW G. Santy Lascano, Grand Lodge of Washington. He is also a member of Scottish Rite Orient of Washington, Valley of Everett, and a member of the York Rite Bodies of Washington. He is a member and Past Royal Patron of Tulip Chapter in Mt. Vernon, WA, a member of Madrona Chapter, OES and a member of the Masonic Society. Brother McCuistion is a Navy Junior ROTC Instructor and Program Manager in Tennessee and an author of several leadership articles for AboutLeaders.com and several groups on Linked IN, an active member of The Members Guild. He is President of Vanguard Organizational Leadership (VOL), whose Blog can be found at www.vanguardldrship.wordpress.com and President of the McCuistion (and other spellings) Family of Scots-Irish descent. He can be reached via email at davidmcc44@epbfi.com

Ignorance … Is It Truly Bliss?

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Wayne DJ Greenley E.A.



I don‘t want to tread on too many toes here, however in my very short time as an Entered Apprentice I have observed a common theme from non-masons when I tell them I am a Freemason. Some of you may think a newly appointed Entered Apprentice may not have the right to make a judgment about a certain practice some Masons have partaken in. Maybe I am being a little bit presumptuous however this is something, I believe, should be addressed. 
I live in Brisbane, Australia and was initiated at a lodge on the 26th February 2015. On my first degree I received a square and compass lapel pin and was told to wear it whilst walking down the streets of the city (As is the way here in Queensland), and I also do so at work and university with pride. Most people don’t register in their minds that I’m even wearing a lapel pin, but for those few who do, say I must be a really big fan of Star Trek. This is funny in one way but sad in another, people confusing the Square and Compass (a symbol which is centuries old and can be seen in public in many major cities) with a symbol of a science fiction program which has only been around for 50 years. 
Now, this is the concerning theme I have come across. When I tell a person I am a Freemason, the response I get from that person is that they have known another Freemason in the past who told them “I can’t tell you anything about Freemasonry, it’s a secret”. Now I’m not going to make a dispute about a Brother who is keeping that of which is to remain secret, secret. Of not, that’s the charge of every Mason to do so. However saying such comment, to me, sounds like a phrase a member of a secret society would make, which we are not. I have to wonder about the motive behind a Mason who says we can’t discuss the Brotherhood in anyway. That’s wrong. It is perfectly acceptable to say something on the lines of “We are a fraternity of men, who derive from different religions, economic and social background, and come together as perfect equals and raise money for charity”. So why don’t those men say something like that? 
Maybe they’re uncomfortable talking about the topic, fearing judgment and persecution from a conspiracy nut-crazed Cowan. Perhaps they don’t know the best way to describe Freemasonry, they don’t want to let the team down by saying something wrong. Or maybe they wish to enforce this ideal that we are a mysterious society that is only meant for a few select individuals (I hope though that is not the case). 
Regardless of motive the result is still the same, non-masons being ill-informed about Freemasonry, which begs the questions, is ignorance of our society by Non-Masons what we want? Is ignorance truly bliss? 
NO! It’s not. It has and will have a continuing negative effect on our fraternity.
If history has taught us anything it’s that we humans fear anything that we don’t understand and to quote a very wise and beloved character from the Star Wars franchise, “Fear leads to Anger, Anger leads to Hate, Hate leads to Suffering”. Ignorance of Freemasonry leading towards Fear, Anger, Hate and Suffering may be a little bit of a stretch, but I hope you get the point I’m trying to convey. Allowing someone, who has asked you what Freemason is, to continue in a state of ignorance in not a good thing. 
That person may start having misconceptions that we are a select secret society or worse, they may do their own “research” and after clicking on a few website may come to the belief that we are either:
  • Associated with devil worship (an ideal created by Léo Taxil) 
  • A bunch of murders who will cold-bloodedly kill anyone who threatens the secrecy of this society (an ideal created by the William Morgan affair) 
  • Actually Lizard like Aliens who have come to earth for world domination (an ideal created by idiots who have never read a book)
In my opinion a short response, such as the one I gave earlier, would be adequate to answer peoples questions. A Brother though, may feel more inclined to give their own interpretation of what Freemasonry means to them, which is fine, as long as you give an answer. If they persist for more information advise them to read a book such as Freemasonry for Dummies or if they prefer a different medium of learning I would suggest Brother Robert Johnson's greatly informative podcast Whence Came You?. Better yet, tell them the best way to find out the answers to their queries is to simply join. Let that man know, should you believe him to be a good candidate to Freemasonry, that the option to join is there should he wish to take it. Maybe then we will have a new Brother. This is a more fitting result than the former. Don’t you agree? 




Bro. Wayne DJ Greenley is an Entered Apprentice (Soon to be Fellowcraft) hailing from Queensland Australia. He is a student at University and loves classical music as well as the theatrical arts. He is anxiously awaiting his next steps in the fraternity.

In Search Of… Charles Pelham

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB. Adam Thayer

A painting of Charles Pelham by John Singleton Copley.
If you’ve read my papers, listened to my lectures, or spent any time talking to me, you will know that I don’t generally enjoy discussing historical or famous Freemasons. Occasionally, however, even my curiosity is peaked enough that I fall victim to researching and discussing a brother who once served within our lodges. With that caveat in mind, I’d like to present to you the story of Right Worshipful Brother Charles Pelham.

Every good story has a solid beginning, and ours begins like a mystery novel; I received an unsolicited email from a fine art dealer in London requesting information on a painting he had acquired. Two photos detailing the portrait were also attached. If this were the next Dan Brown novel, what follows would be full of exciting, intricate conspiracies, exotic locations scattered across the globe, and, of course, beautiful, intelligent women. Before you get too excited, recall that we are not in a novel, so the conspiracy was small and not far-reaching; I never left my couch while researching the background, and the only woman involved was my wife who, though both highly beautiful and very intelligent, was 9 months pregnant at the time.

The painting, according to the art dealer, was allegedly by the artist John Singleton Copley, and the subject was believed to be one Charles Pelham. The only clue that there was any Masonic connection was a small medallion worn near the breast. My intrigue was increased by the fact that the symbols on the medallion did not include the normal square and compass, the main symbol that the public recognizes us by. Only a brother who had spent some time in lodge learning our symbols would have recognized that this medallion marked him as a Mason. Truly, there must have been a great treasure hunt ahead of me, because we all know that the best treasure hunts start with small, seemingly innocuous clues!

Let’s step back a bit for an art history lesson. John Singleton Copley was a painter in colonial America, who produced around 350 paintings and drawings before his death in 1815. Included in his works were some prominent Freemasons of the time, such as Thomas Jefferson and Paul Revere, as well as men who had strong Masonic connections such as Samuel Adams and James Warren. While Copley himself was not a Freemason, he had significant familial connections to the early American Freemasonry through his mother Mary, which may have contributed to him painting the Freemasons that he did.

John’s father dies when he was around the age of 10, and Mary remarried a portrait artist by the name of Peter Pelham. Peter taught many of his techniques to John, including the newly rediscovered mezzotint printing method which Copley later incorporated into his artwork with great effect.
Peter is known to have been a Freemason: he was raised in First Lodge in Massachusetts in 1738, which had been granted its charter from the Premier Grand Lodge of England in 1733. First Lodge holds the honor of being the first duly constituted lodge in America, and many of its early members were influential in the American Revolution. They still meet regularly to this day, having changed their name to St Johns Lodge of Boston.

A close-up of the medallion in the painting.
Peter also took to heart the Biblical adage “Be fruitful and multiply”; he had seven known children from three different women. While at least one of them followed his footsteps and became successful as an engraving artist, our focus instead lies with his second oldest child: Charles Pelham.

If you’ve managed to follow the twisted family tree here, you’ll see that Charles Pelham was the step-brother of John Singleton Copley, the artist. This made it significantly more likely that the portrait in question was, in fact, a true work by Copley of Pelham. Looking into it closer, there is another known painting by Copley of Pelham. This one was painted when he was a younger man, while the subject I received appeared to be of a man later in his life. Even with this age difference, the resemblance is strikingly close enough to feel certain that both subjects are, at the least, very closely related, if not of the same person.

While we could spend hours discussing the artist, he was not a Mason, nor of much interest to me. Instead, my interest lay in the subject himself. Not much is known of Charles Pelham’s early life. He never achieved the level of success as his father or his brothers in artistic endeavors, and remained mainly neutral during the American Revolution. We don’t even know for certain when or where he was born; all we do know is that he was baptized in December of 1722. While Charles did not lead a fascinating public life, his Masonic life is much more interesting for our considerations. He was raised in 1744 at First Lodge, and was placed as their Secretary at the following business meeting. I cannot even imagine asking a newly raised Mason to take over as Secretary today, and it was very unusual, and somewhat controversial, at the time.

A self portrait of Copley.
Why was there such a rush to place him as Secretary? While none of the records themselves spell it out, we can put together a pretty clear picture of what happened by examining the minutes of the lodge themselves, and more specifically the handwriting.

In 1740, Charles’ father Peter was installed as Secretary for First Lodge. Strangely, the handwriting on his original petition and in his private correspondence does not closely match up with the handwriting in the lodge minutes. In fact, it’s almost as if it was written by a completely different hand! Even more curious is the fact that the handwriting is an identical match with that from Charles during the following years when he was secretary.

Examining the handwriting, it appears that Charles was transcribing the lodge minutes for his father for four years before he had been accepted into the lodge! This discovery would explain the rush to move him in – he would have already known many Masonic secrets due to his work transcribing the minutes, and until he took his obligation he had no requirement to keep them.

He was obviously exceedingly good as a Secretary, as he continued to serve his lodge until 1754, and during the years of 1750-1752 he also served as Grand Secretary for the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
This is where, to me, he moves from being “just another brother” to being worthy of examination as a “famous” Freemason. His work for the Grand Lodge was revolutionary for the time, as he served as the first Grand Secretary for the state, and the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts traces its charter back to the first permanent Provincial Grand Lodge in North America. (As an aside, there was one provincial charter prior, but it was only granted for a two year period) For all intents and purposes, he should be considered the first Grand Secretary in the country!
A known painting of Pelham by Copley.

A large part of Charles’ service to the Grand Lodge was to copy the proceedings of the Provincial Grand Lodge of New England into the permanent records of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, forming their first few volumes of proceedings. The written history of American Freemasonry can all trace back to Charles’ work!

Having established what I believed to be, at best, a reasonably convincing amount of proof, I re-contacted the art dealer with the information I had uncovered, and while I didn’t feel completely certain that we had the correct brother, I felt safe in saying that we were definitely in the correct family. At this point, I proceeded to close out all of my research websites, feeling that there was no further information to be teased out of the picture, and ready to start thinking about my next research piece.

Our story would have ended there, should have ended there, but I received one more e-mail from the London art dealer with a subject that got me excited all over again: “I’ve x-rayed the painting, and found something important!” Included was another photo, showing the x-ray, and my hands nearly shook while opening the attachment.

The fact that I’m explaining all of this here, instead of in my exclusive tell-all interview with The History Channel, is due to the fact that The History Channel no longer returns my calls, and the author of my life doesn’t write grand adventures of discovery for me to go on.
An x-ray taken of the area where the medallion is located.
The x-ray showed, quite clearly, the jewel of a Past Master, and some symbols of the Holy Royal Arch degree. While it was disappointing that it wasn’t a map to a hidden Templar treasure, or scandalous proof that George Washington was a secret cross dresser, what it symbolized was oddly comforting: here was a brother, who had been through the same experiences that I myself had been through, hundreds of years before I was born. The great wheel of Freemasonry continues to turn, unbroken, through the ages.

In the end, who knows the truth about this brother’s life? Until this paper, I doubt you had ever even heard his name, and I doubt you’ll long remember it after we’re done. That is why, to me, it is very important to recognize him as a Freemason: he does not represent the celebrated artist who gained international prestige, or the great orator who brought peace in times of war. He represents the everyday majority of us, silently toiling away in the darkness, trying to bring a little bit of light to the world. To quote Jung, “As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” If that is true, I can think of no greater example to emulate than Right Worshipful Brother Charles Pelham.

~AT


Bro. Adam Thayer is the Junior Warden of Lancaster Lodge No 54 in Lincoln (NE) and the Worshipful Master of Oliver Lodge No. 38 in Seward (NE). He’s an active member of the Scottish Rite, and Knight Master of the Lincoln Valley Knights of Saint Andrew. Adam serves on the Education Committee of the Grand Lodge of Nebraska. You can contact him at adam.thayer@gmail.com

Want to Buy a Rolex?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB. Gregory J. Knott

I was visiting the famed Silk Market in Bejing, China a few years ago and ran across a booth that was full of watches.   Being a watch collector, I took an interest in what was being sold. I was amazed to see so many Rolex, Omega, Breitling, etc.   All of these were very high quality brand names that sell for several thousand dollars in American jewelry stores.   But it was my lucky day; the vendor told me I could have a brand new Rolex for only $50.   Wow, I must have won the lottery to have been so fortunate to find someone to sell me such a fine quality time piece.
In examining the watch, it said Rolex, was gold in color and had a box with papers that all said Rolex.  It must be real deal correct?   So being the concerned consumer, I asked how the vendor came across such a “fine” time piece and was able to offer it for only $50.  “It’s made right here in China”, he told me.  
Of course as you guessed, the watch was a Chinese made knockoff.  It looked like a Rolex, kept time and had a box that said Rolex, but it was a complete fake.
In the world of Freemasonry, there are many groups where you can find people wearing Masonic regalia, quoting ritual and for a “slight” fee, will initiate you into their group.   But these groups are just like the Rolex I was being sold in China, they are bogus and fake.    Freemasons refer to these groups as clandestine and irregular and are run by people who are forming lodges and grand lodges that are not recognized by main-stream Freemasonry.
Brother Charles Harper Sr. has written extensively on this topic with his book Freemasonry in Black and White and his new book A Spurious State of Confusion.   Brother Harper once himself unknowingly joined one of these lodges, until he was educated by others. He later petitioned and joined a mainstream lodge.  He is now a member of Pleiades Lodge No. 478 and Illumination Lodge No. 5 both of the Grand Lodge of Illinois.
But who decides what lodge/grand lodge is “regular” and what difference does it really make anyway?
Recognition and regularity are a big deal in Masonry, especially when you want to visit other lodges.   The Conference of Grand Masters of Masons of North America is a group that tracks fraternal recognition of legitimate Grand Lodges around the world.   Their Commission on Information for Recognition is charged with recommending which Grand Lodges meet the standards of Recognition.  These standards are:  
  1. Legitimacy of Origin
  2. Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction, except by mutual consent and/or treaty.
  3. Adherence to the Ancient Landmarks – specifically, a Belief in God, the Volume of Sacred Law as an indispensable part of the Furniture of the Lodge, and the prohibition of the discussion of politics and religion
Ultimately each Grand Lodge decides for themselves who they recognize in regards to having formal fraternal relations.
Yes – it’s complicated.   Your Grand Lodge Secretary will maintain a listing of all Grand Lodges for which their particular jurisdiction recognizes.   Each year, Pantagraph Printing out of Bloomington, Illinois publishes a book that contains a listing of all recognized Grand Lodges.
But why does it matter?  Because as a Mason you are charged with having only Masonic relations with those fellow Masons who are members of a recognized lodge and grand lodge.   Sitting in a lodge of clandestine Masons, may result in your dismissal from Masonry.  It’s a serious matter.
It’s not an easy task to track all of these knockoffs, but each Mason has the obligation to educate themselves on the matter.  One of the better sights on the web to check is ran by The Phylaxis Society.  They maintain a current list, although the site is far from complete, as these bogus lodges and grand lodges can appear rapidly.

Do your homework if you are going to plan on visiting a lodge.  Is it a recognized lodge by your grand lodge?  Likewise if you have a visitor to your home lodge, does the Master appoint a committee to examine the brother to ensure he is legitimate?

Just like the Chinese knockoff cheapens the image of a Rolex; clandestine/bogus masonry cheapens regular Freemasonry.  Take due notice thereof and govern yourself accordingly.


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.

Happy 3rd Anniversary Midnight Freemasons!

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Todd E. Creason
 
Midnight Freemasons at Illinois Grand Lodge 2013

Three years ago today, on April 15th, 2012, the Midnight Freemasons Blog was born--or perhaps I should say re-born.  So on this special anniversary I thought I'd tell you how this all got started.  I've stayed pretty quiet over the last three years, but I'm going to do a little bragging about the Midnight Freemasons now--so get ready.

This blog began at some point in 2007 as my personal blog.  It was a place to dump the leftover research material from my books and articles.  I posted three times a week on the same schedule the Midnight Freemasons use today--Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  I got a pretty good following.  It had a couple different names early on, before I settled on The Midnight Freemason.
Midnight Freemasons with Author Christopher Hodapp
There has been a lot of conjecture about the deep Masonic meaning behind that name "The Midnight Freemason."  To be honest, I've just let people think it has a deeply rooted symbolic meaning.  It's been three years however--perhaps it's time to tell you what that name really means.  So here's the truth.  It has no deep Masonic meaning.  It simply alludes to the fact I do most of my writing late at night, and after finishing that writing well after midnight, I often answer emails, and return text messages--one person texted me back one evening at nearly one in the morning and said he always knows it's me when he gets a text that late because I am . . . the Midnight Freemason!  I liked the name immediately, and changed the title of the blog that very minute.  It's been The Midnight Freemason(s) ever since.


Midnight Freemasons Creason, Schimian, and Knott at Ogden Lodge No. 754
But after five years, I was running out of research leftovers.  I had to start researching original pieces for the blog.  It got to be too much for me to keep up, but as I said, I had a pretty good following--too good to let it go.  So as Masons do, I called on a few Brothers (and a Sister) to help me.  The idea was simple--to put together a group with different perspectives and experiences within our Fraternity and let them write on the topic of Freemasonry.  I wanted to get a Blue Lodge guy, a Shriner, a York Rite guy, a Scottish Rite guy, etc.  And I wanted a woman's perspective as well, because as any active Freemason will tell you, women play a vital role in our "all male" Fraternity.  The original five were all close friends of mine.
Midnight Freemasons Creason, Knott and Shirley at Eastern Illinois University
The original Midnight Freemasons (plural) were Greg Knott, Robert Johnson, Michael Shirley, Judy Gordon, and Scott Niccum.  Soon after, James Frey and Steve Harrison joined our little group of writers--also friends of mine.  But it was Greg Knott that launched us with the first Midnight Freemasons piece on this day three years ago with RMS Titanic: The Amazing Story of Brother Oscar Woody.  Two things were obvious right from the beginning: 1.) We had hit on something really remarkable, and our hit count increased almost daily, and 2.) it was actually more work for me to manage a contributor site than it was to write three pieces a week myself--too much work for me to manage and write books.  I sent out a dire email not long after we began, saying unless somebody wanted to take it over, I was afraid we'd have to let it go.  I figured when I sent that email, it was done.  DOA.


Managing Editor Robert Johnson
But to my amazement, Robert Johnson raised his hand and said he'd take it.  He's been the Managing Editor ever since.  He's taken this blog places I could have never taken it.  And our family has grown--we are now twelve.  Robert has added a few more Midnight Freemasons to our group--Brian Schimian, Bill Hosler, Aaron Gardner, Robert Walk, Jason Richards, and most recently, Adam Thayer.  And over the last three years we've had a host of "guest contributors" who have posted articles on the Midnight Freemasons that add even more voices to the mix and more perspectives on the Fraternity.

In three short years, you'll find our pieces reposted on blogs everywhere.  You can hardly Google a topic relating to Freemasonry and not have one of our pieces come up in the search.  You'll find us in Lodge newsletters, mirrored on the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction "Mason's Only" forum, and we've even been featured in the Working Tools Masonic Magazine.  We've had pieces translated and reposted in several different languages--we have a very open sharing policy (just give us proper credit).  And I'm sure Robert Johnson would agree, the best part of this blog are the emails we receive from men all over the United States (and a couple other countries) who have been reading our blog and have decided they want to join our Fraternity.  I couldn't begin to guess how many candidates Robert and I have put into contact with Grand Lodge Secretaries over the last few years.
Midnight Freemasons Todd E. Creason and Scott Niccum (2011)
And something else unexpected has happened as well--all by itself.  The Midnight Freemasons have become a family.  We don't all live in the same place, or see each other often, but we get together and write joint pieces together often through the wonders of the information age--bouncing articles back and forth through email.  I've written pieces with several of the Midnight Freemasons (most often Michael Shirley and Greg Knott), and the other Midnight Freemasons have gotten together and done the same thing.  Very often those pieces we write together from differing perspectives are the best ones--two heads are always better than one.

Of all the things I've had the opportunity to do in Freemasonry, the Midnight Freemasons is one of the most remarkable.  Greg Knott and I took a trip to Washington D.C. to attend Mason Week.  I met Masons from all over, and was absolutely astounded how many of the Masons I met knew the Midnight Freemasons well.  And I think we're just at the very beginning of the Midnight Freemasons journey.
Midnight Freemasons Knott, Gordon and Creason at York Rite Grand Chapter (2014)
My bio on here says I'm the Founder of this group.  But you may note that when I post a piece I do so only as a "Midnight Freemasons Contributor."  I'd love to take credit for this whole thing, but as I told you, this blog really got started through the act of me deciding to let it go.  The Midnight Freemasons made this thing happen with Robert Johnson at the helm.  They weren't about to let it go.  It was that original group of six or eight that decided with or without me they were going to see where this bizarre experiment in writing lead.  I'm glad I hung around--it's been one of the most amazing examples of teamwork I've ever seen.

One thing I've learned over the decade since I first petitioned a Lodge of Freemasons--you don't get anywhere alone.  It is together as a group, focused on the same goal that we accomplish the most.
Knott, Richards, and Creason at Mason Week, Reston, VA (2015)
And of course we owe the biggest thanks to our readers.  Without your support we wouldn't be doing this--and we have a mix of both Masons and non-Masons.  We write knowing we're not in a tyled lodge and our topics reflect that--we write "for Masons and those interested in the topic of Freemasonry" just like our banner says.  Contact us.  Let us know what you like and what you don't like.  Comment when we get it right, and when we get it wrong.  Is there a topic you'd like us to cover that we haven't?  Let us know--this is a group here that loves to tackle meaningful topics.  And if you're reading us because you're fascinated by the topic of Freemasonry and wondering how you might take that interest to the next level, read our tab "How Do I Become A Freemason."  Or better yet, email me or any one of the Midnight Freemasons and we'll put you in contact with a Masonic Lodge in your area, or a Grand Lodge Secretary in your jurisdiction.  
 
Midnight Freemasons Michael Shirley and Judy Gordon

So this is thanks to the Midnight Freemasons and their remarkable editor Robert Johnson for their hard work over the last three years, and to our readers who have made us so successful.

Thank you all, and Happy 3rd Anniversary to the Midnight Freemasons! 

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and continues to be a regular contributor. He is also the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog, where he posts on a regular schedule on topics relating to Freemasonry.  He is the author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and currently serves as Secretary, and is also a member of Homer Lodge No. 199.  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, Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL), and a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research.  He was recently awarded the 2014 Illinois Secretary of the Year Award by the Illinois Masonic Secretaries Association.  You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

The Amway of Freemasonry? - The Clandestine Order of International Masons

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Brian Schimian

International's Lapel pin
Today being a Monday, I was not expecting much to come from it other than drywall dust and a lot of vacuuming.  But to my surprise, and after my coffee pot took an extra long time to brew its delightful nectar (I guess everything takes time to get back into the routine after a 3 month hiatus) inspiration stuck.  I have not delved into the world of “clandestine” or “irregular” Masonry, but after reading a post by a Brother on a social media page, I just had to.

Here is the post:
“So yesterday I had somebody who saw my ring. He asked if I could defend my light. I said what? He replies, answer questions correctly or I take your ring and give it to your lodge so you can be instructed. I said I've been a member 13 years and we never do that… He says he's a brother and whips out his card. IFAMM. I just left laughing.”

Before I get going on my diatribe here, let me first say that, I couldn't care less.  I am not looking to start the next crusade and rid the world of organizations that are not recognized by or chartered under the UGLE, State Grand Lodge or whatever.  Any organization that takes good men and makes them better is fine in my book.  I will however abide by my obligation and neither attend nor allow a member of such an organization admittance into my Lodge.  My only fear is that the ideology of Freemasonry and I have known it since I was eight years old, is being used to line someones pockets, regardless of any “good” they report to have been doing.

Okay, back to the regularly scheduled rant…  So in the thread of posts, someone took the time to actually find this organization and share the link.  Should you choose to venture over to their site (www dot international masons dot org), it is rather well put together.  The name of the organization itself raised some red flags with me: International Free and Accepted Modern Masons, Incorporated.

Apparently the creator of the CORPORATION was crafty at using the same terms and abbreviations that the A.F & A.M./F.&A.M Lodges that have been regularly constituted for use.  He just added “International” (hey, why not?  International CORPORATIONS and pretty prestigious) and took the “M” and made it “Modern”.  According to their website, they received their “American Issued” Charter in 1950, but does not disclose under what jurisdiction it was granted.  They continue: “…This American issued charter empowers International Masons to the same rights as those charters issued directly from the Grand Lodge of England or the Grand Orient of France…”  I suppose if they say so, evidently they are writing their own rules anyway.  Unless this organization shows dispensation under the UGLE (which there is no claim of on their site), how can it offer its members the rights and recognition?

The CORPORATION’s stated purpose is: ”provide moral, financial, benevolent, and charitable leadership to serve this present age”.  Okay, I don’t know anyone that could argue with those points, as they are all noble causes.

Their site goes on to say that: “The institution of Free and Accepted Masonry is the outgrowth of Ancient Free Masonry, as adopted by Modern Masons in 1717 at the Apple Tree Tavern, England. It adheres to the ancient moral principles of Freemasonry…”, right, right.  All Good!!!

It continues: “…but has been modified from time to time, that it may have all current and modern benefits to be offered by a Free Mason Fraternal Order…”, Errrr…. Whaaaaat?!?!?!?!  Okay, It wasn’t until I got t the bottom of the page under “Benefits” where the wheels in my head came to a screeching halt and I had to scroll backup to make sure I read this line correctly.  They have six such “Benefits of Joining”, the first being a “Low-cost endowment benefit for which you designate a beneficiary. Paid up after 20 years.”  Now we start to see this CORPORATION for what it is.  I will get to the other five “benefits” in a bit…  Let me see, I sent in for membership information and received no word back, nor could I find any information on their site about membership, dues or these endowment fund fees.  I can only imagine what kind of return on investment percentage one could expect to get and how much interest the CORPORATION was getting on all that money from everyone.  I would have to believe that there is a “pyramid” type set up where Lodges filter the money in a “per-capita” type system to the “Supreme Council”.  A quick scroll thru the  online store was interesting.  They will sell you, in two parts, a “Duncan Ritual” for $16.50 ea., that would be $33.00 for both.  Part of me believes that this is the Duncan Masonic Ritual Monitor from 1866 that is freely available on the internet for no more cost than the time to do a Google search and download the file.  How nice of the International CORPORATION, eh?

Continuing on they claim: “…We have no quarrels with other Masonic Bodies, and will be glad to cooperate with them in building Masonry as a True Righteous Order based on the principles of the Holy Bible…”  Cool.  Upright and Just… Almost.  How do they say they have no quarrel with other Masonic Bodies, yet their members threaten to relieve Masons of their rings if they cannot “defend their light”?  I also have to question the repeated statement referring to themselves as a “Christian Order”.  True Masonry does not single one religion out above another.  I have to wonder what they would do if they came across a Brother that was Jewish, Muslim or that of any other religion of the world.  They claim on their website that: “…deny no person the right to fraternalism, regardless of race, color or creed…”, but then again state that they are a CORPORATION based on “Christian Principles”.  I have to wonder if there are non-Christians allowed in their CORPORATION.

Next they list their “cardinal principles” and state that they “appeal to its membership in such a manner as to” and again, not much to argue about here, until the end…
“Promote better understanding and coordination.
 To improve such fields of thought which tend to ensure sound judgment.
 To install in the minds of youth the necessity of intellectual progress.
 To regard all that tends to develop character and wholesome personality traits.
 To establish only such assets or liabilities which are within the financial range of the   membership.”
Establish assets or liabilities which are within the financial range of the membership.  Sounds like they are talking about the “Supreme President & CEO” having to live within the means of what the membership dues will allow.  I wonder how many of the Brothers of this CORPORATION have truly taught more Light and have come to see what this organization is all about.  I am sure that not many are aware of the scheme they are wrapped up in.

The “History” continues: “…Other institutions of Freemasonry across the nation swell with pride at the great progress our Organization has achieved in this century. A large measurer of credits must be given to the well known reputation that Freemasonry enjoys throughout our nation and around the world…”  Um, not so much.  The Regular Institutions of Freemasonry are not swelling with pride.  If anything, they swell with feelings of sadness for the members that have been sold a worthless bag of goods and are being used to fill the coffers of a select few on the coattails of a "Right & Just Order."

Continuing on, they again state: “…our beliefs in the Bible and Christian principles, we teach charity, and service to all mankind and we try to induce an ethical way of life which brings about those improvements necessary to the construction of good, clean respected citizenship…”  Sounds great, but if they truly were such an organization, they would qualify for tax exempt status and thus would not be “Incorporated”.

Under the “Why Join?” heading I found a peculiar line: “…you will have a chance to improve your prestige…”  So much for everyone being “On the Level”.

A little farther down the page, we come to the “What Do We Offer?” section.  Here they state that: “…International Masons is democratically sponsored and controlled. Members vote for and elect their leaders. To prevent perpetuation all heads of departments have term limits…”  This sound good as well, until you realize that having begun in 1950, they have only had 4 people serve as “Supreme President & CEO”.  One of which was the founder and another that was appointed as interim after the founder passed.  One self appointed, one temporary replacement, that leaves 2 “Leaders” that have been voted into office in roughly 65 years?  Given that there are no years of service associated with the people, I can not find clarification on what the “term limits” are.

Getting to more of the “Six Key Benefits”, I will only cherry pick the 2 others beside the one previously discussed.  “…Reasonable costs associated with joining and maintaining membership…”  Again, I can only imagine what the “Supreme President & CEO” feels is “reasonable”.  They make no mention of anything financial on their site.  “…Yours is a lifetime transferable membership. If you move to another city, state or country, your membership will be transferred, and you retain your same seniority. You will be welcome to visit lodges and/or chapters wherever you go…”  Great, transferable memberships, love this.  But what kills it is the use of the term “seniority”.  How can an organization that claims to be Masonic, which maintains all members come together “On The Level” have a scheme of seniority?

Under the “Other Special Advantages” heading they list some rather concerning language mixed with that of an upstanding nature.  Here they mention again the Endowment fund but then add the word “protection” to it.  Interesting.  Then they dangle a carrot in the form of a “Bonus” for bringing in new members.  They state: “…CLEAN SOCIALS: Family events for both youths and adults. You are taught how to enjoy yourself without the use of liquor, gambling or other forms of vice. Planned excursions and picnics are a regular part of our activity…”  Nothing to argue with there, seems Upright & Just.  Then they go back to “Prestige” and say: ”…You are no longer a lost soul in an asphalt jungle of houses…”.  I am not going to get into the clearly defined racism and bigotry I feel with this sentence.  I will just let it fall on it's own accord.  They then ask that you: “…bring this message to your neighbors at every opportunity…”, of course, don't forget the “bonus” you get and the “Supreme President & CEO” that needs to live within the financial means of the membership.

I have had all I can stomach on this website and need to close this article out before I get any more upset for the wayward Men, Ladies and Children that have been misled by this CORPORATION.  What better way than to use their own words.  Somehow I truly believe that these are the most true words on this entire website that speaks to the very root of what this CORPORATION is all about, wealth and how much they can get of it.

“…There is an old toast that goes: "May you have health, wealth, and love, and a long life to enjoy them." This is our sincere aim…”

~BJS

Bro. Brian Schimian is Life of Member A.O. Fay #676 in Highland Park Illinois and the Medinah Shriners - Lake County Shrine Club. He was also the Past Master Counselor of DeMolay - Lakes Chapter in 1995. Most recently, Brian became a Companion of the York Rite, joining Waukegan Chapter #41 R.A.M. Brian is a father of two children. "Start Square, Finish Level"