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.

7 comments:

  1. As a member and Fellow of The Phylaxis society I must agree that the listings of "bogus" groups can be difficult to keep current as these groups are poppin' up faster than Jiffy Pop popcorn, which is the same analogy that can be applied to the degree mills that are in place.

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  2. I am @williamsbuck, on Instagram. You stole a creation of mine, "midnightfreemason." And I want it take down immediately. You don't follow me on Instagram, and have not given me any credit. Moreover, other people are posting it as well. This is not how brothers treat brothers! Shame on you!

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  3. I'm not sure what you're accusing us of stealing or what you think we should have given you credit for . . . the art in this piece is something we created. That's my face actually. And this blog has been up and running since 2007, and has been "The Midnight Freemason" since about 2009. If you'd like to be more specific about what you think we need to credit you for, I'd be happy to address your concern.

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  4. @williamsbuck, please let me know what you believe we stole. If indeed we did, I will of course remove it. Please do not accuse anyone of theft. Shoot me an email at wcypodcast@gmail.com so we can discuss.

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  5. @williamsbuck it seems I got to the bottom of this this morning when apparently our Instagram shared one of your Instagram photos however I regret to inform you that you used my artwork which was published in May 2012 on my blog Whence Came You?, in which the title was, Was Captain America a Freemason?" I created that artwork specifically for the piece and you stole it.

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  6. So perhaps a bit more civility is in order before accusing a Brother of theft--especially if you're guilty of the same thing you're accusing him of. Most of our artwork and all of our content (unless otherwise clearly noted) is either original created for a piece, is public domain, or is used with permission. When we do error, and we have once or twice, we fix it by either crediting the photo, or taking it down--depending on the owners preference.

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  7. Ironic on a post about fake Masonry, that a brother who stole artwork from the Midnightfreemason, isn't honest about his own theft.

    Want to buy a Rolex?

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