Social Media Is Killing Freemasonry?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Robert H. Johnson

“I think you ought to think about that…” That’s what he said to me after the meeting. I guess I should explain. After a meeting one night, I was talking to one of my mentors after I took a rather silly photo with another brother. The mentor said, “You know, I think you might want to slow down on this internet posting.”

Shortly before he said that, I had made mention that this picture would be all over the web by morning. I was joking of course, but it had an effect on my mentor. He went on, “You know the issue with your Entered Apprentices getting accosted by this clandestine lodge and things of that nature, it bothers me a great deal.” I asked him “How so? I didn’t cause that confrontation, I just wrote about it.” I was of course referring to the incident which took place last month. You can read about it here.

My mentor said, “You did cause that confrontation. You took a picture with the new EA and posted it on our Facebook Page.” “I guess I did, didn’t I?” I replied. I thought about it for a moment and I also thought about how many of these types of photos were indeed out there, pictures of new candidates, new Master Masons, etc. Heck, even the Grand Lodge of Illinois had a picture of someone taking their obligation right on the web and on the cover of its magazine. So how was this any different and how was this particular case an issue?

My mentor once again continued, “I know we do some silly things sometimes and I know we are all human, but do we want to show those things to the public? Do we want to be associated with the same type antics that biker clubs have and that sort of thing? We’re supposed to be this classy organization and yet it only takes one screw up, one photo or one person to get the wrong idea and it hurts the entire fraternity.”

He talked about a few other things, mostly about what personal information we as masons share on social media outlets. Personal family stories or anecdotes, and he asked if ultimately those things could have a potential to hurt the fraternity. It really made me think. Do I post too much? Should we be posting photos of our new Brothers, Fellows and Masters? Should we share images of our events?

After thinking about this, I realize that I just don’t know. I probably will be more selective about what I share on social media platforms. There is a Social Media Code of Conduct for Freemasons in some states, but Illinois isn’t one of them. I don’t think, however what we are talking about here is necessarily the issues to which that document is supposed to govern.

When we share these kinds of candid lodge photos, do we run a chance of someone getting the wrong impression and going after the fraternity for the wrong reasons? Are we playing Russian roulette? Should we guard the candid shots from finding their way to web?


Bro. Robert Johnson, 32°is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the First North-East District of Illinois. He is the Master of Waukegan Lodge No. 78 and Education officer for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He is also a member of the York Rite bodies Royal Arch, Cryptic Council, Knights Templar, AMD, The Illinois Lodge of Research and a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago as well as a charter member of the Society of King Solomon, a charity organization run by the Grand Lodge of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. In addition, he produces video shorts focusing on driving interest in the Fraternity and writes original Masonic papers from time to time. He is also a cohost of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of three. He works full time in the safety industry and is also a photographer on the side as well as an avid home brewer. He is currently working on a book of Masonic essays.

Memorial Day

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RWB. Michael H. Shirley

Memorial Day these days is a bit more celebrated than it was when I was growing up during the Vietnam War era. The parades and public celebrations were held, of course, but there didn’t seem to be much enthusiasm to them. But Memorial Day was still special to our family because of my grandfather’s poem. 

Ours was not a very religious family, but poetry took the place of liturgy on special occasions. Christmas was not Christmas unless we played the recording of Dylan Thomas reading his “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” and Edna St. Vincent Millay and Emily Dickenson were suitable for all occasions. Memorial Day, though, was for my grandfather, J. Allan Lind. He was a lawyer who won several important cases for Native American tribes, but more importantly to us, was a published poet, and his poem, “Memorial Day,” written at the height of the Vietnam War, was something we recited every Memorial Day, if only amongst ourselves.

When I was a child on Memorial Day
First came the veterans, old and grey
Then younger men, the in-betweens
Not too long back from the Philippines
Then came the young with guns in hand
The flag, the drums and the marching band

Now as I watch on Memorial Day
First come the veterans, old and grey
Then younger men, the in-betweens
Not too long back from the Philippines
Then come the young with guns in hand
The flag, the drums and the marching band

The only change that I can see
Is an imperceptible change in me
and fewer crowds than there used to be
There go the veterans old and grey
I remember when they marched away
When I was young and so were they

There’s much in that poem to consider, despite its simplicity: change happens; we grow; we decline; a generation ages and passes away; a new generation takes its place. But through it all, memory and memorial continues, passed down one generation to the next, in forms old and new. Sometimes the memorials are perfunctory in spirit, as they often were when I was growing up; sometimes they’re so over-the-top they seem disrespectful to the solemnity of the occasion. But Memorial Day is about coming together to remember those who’ve died in service, and to ensure that we, the living, hold them in a place of honor. It’s not about a day, or parades, or barbecues: it’s about people, and that’s something my grandfather understood. 

So if you want to use his poem, feel free. If you’d like to recite it in private or in public, go right ahead. I’ll be reciting it, too, in a family liturgy where words and people matter, in memory of all the things Memorial Day calls us to consider.

In memory of all deceased veterans, with thanks.


R.W.B. Michael H. Shirley serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F. & A.M, as Leadership Development Chairman and Assistant Area Deputy Grand Master of the Eastern Area. A Certified Lodge Instructor, he is a Past Master and Life Member of Tuscola Lodge No. 332 and a plural member of Island City Lodge No. 330, F & AM, in Minocqua, Wisconsin. He currently serves the Valley of Danville, AASR, as Most Wise Master of the George E. Burow Chapter of Rose Croix; he is also a member of the Illinois Lodge of Research, the York Rite, Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, Eastern Star, Illini High Twelve, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. The author of several articles on British history, he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.You can contact him at:

Dew Drops

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
S.K. Ken Baril

It was a warm, spring morning. The sun was shining in all its’ glory and the aroma of the grass and plants covered with early morning dew gave one an instant sensation of being so glad to be alive. Later that day, my wife and I would be boarding a chartered tour bus for a four - day trip to our Nations Capitol. We visited Washington, D.C. many, many years ago, including Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but this trip has a much more meaningful purpose to it. This was before the Vietnam Wall of Remembrance was erected. After seeing the monuments, which do not change over the years, my wife and I were to spend a good portion of the morning in Arlington National Cemetery. The last time we were here was twenty - seven years ago when we attended the military funeral for our son Paul, who was killed in action in Vietnam. He was twenty - two years old. It is a beautiful place, well kept and extremely peaceful. My wife and I knew exactly where our son’s final resting place was, so we immediately headed in that direction. It was a bit of a walk, so we took our time, hand in hand. No words were exchanged. We then came to the section where our son rests and proceeded to walk across the recently mowed green grass until we were at his marble cross.  
Paul J. Comstock
U.S. Army
Feb 19 1949
June 3 1971
 It is almost impossible for us to comprehend that we are standing at the grave of our son. He was only twenty - two years old. His life was just beginning. My memories of his happy childhood stood out in my mind; his first ride on his new bike when he claimed the training wheels were un-necessary until he fell and scraped his knee. His first time at bat in Little League was a disaster. He struck out. All the things a young boy goes through during that stage of life. I could go on, but you know of what I am speaking of.

He was twenty-years old when he came to us, held his Moms hand, and said, “It is time for me to go, Mom.” It was then we realized that war had come to the world again, and families were broken apart never to be the same. His eyes glistened as he left us, for he was ours no more, nor we his. He had started his solitary walk into the world of man’s wars. Our son’s name is one of the 58,282 names inscribed upon the Wall of Remembrance. Can you imagine that? Fifty-eight thousand two hundred and eighty two young men and women gave their lives during that war! The figure is staggering.

We patiently waited for word as to when his body would be brought home. What disturbed us the most is when our son arrived his casket was sealed. We were deprived of seeing him one last time, and of saying our last good-bye. Many unanswered questions remained. Did he suffer? Where was he hit and by what? A short time after the funeral we received a letter from a soldier who was in my son’s company. He gave us the details as to how our son died. 

He wrote that while out on patrol, the enemy ambushed them. Most of the men in the squad were wounded including our son. Disregarding his own wounds, he picked up and carried most of the other wounded to an area for cover. The letter writer was the last man our son was carrying when a grenade went off directly in front of them. Because our son was carrying him on his back, he took the full blast and the shrapnel just tore his body apart. With all the strength his body could muster, he carried his wounded comrade in arms as far as he could, before he dropped from loss of blood. He had saved one more life before he died a short time later. I answered his letter with many thanks. This brings some closure, but the sad part is that our son lost two lives; the one he was living and the one he would have lived.

For what seemed to be an eternity, my wife and I stood and stared at the marble grave marker, and then left. It was then, as we began to walk among the white crosses and stars that the tears began. They fell freely and neither Mom nor I attempted to hold them back. We were not alone, for through our tear – filled eyes, we could see others sharing the same experience. These tears will become Dew Drops on the Wall. It was extremely emotional. We returned to our sons resting place one last time. I came to attention, snapped a salute, and with a quivering voice said:

So long, my Son, sleep with God,
You have no more to give.
You gave your young life so couragesly,
So others, like us may live.

 After arriving back at home, I went upstairs to his room. Everything was exactly as it was the day he left for the Army. Even the clothes he sent home after his indoctrination still lie folded on the chair next to his bed. All the school pictures of him, his teammates, and the trophy’s are still standing on the shelf. The folded flag presented to his Mom and me, along with his medals are in the mahogany folded flag case, and standing on the dresser. Time seems to have just stood still. His baseball glove is there in the corner, and as I picked it up and gently slid my fingers inside, I could still feel his love and respect; his warmth and understanding, his sincerity and his compassion, gently flow from his heart to my mine. I removed the glove and placed it back in the spot where it was, and as I slowly closed the door to his room, I thought, “My son, once again, I bid you farewell. For the brief time that you honored me with your presence, you taught me more about life than anything I have experienced. None of us knows how much time we will have on this earth, but I do know that when my time comes, I can only hope that I have become half the man you had already become.” 

As the final notes of “TAPS” echo and fade away, we know we will never understand. The only thing we can do is to enshrine him in our memories and to keep faith with him by doing our best to create and preserve the kind of world he would have enjoyed. 

Our son lost two lives. The one he was living and the one he would have lived. War drew him from our homeland in the sunlit springtime of his youth. Those, our comrades in arms who did not return, remain in perpetual springtime, forever young, and a part of them is with us forever. As I live out my years, I will not forget all the days and nights and all the seasons you have missed, all the laughter and the sweet smell of
life you have lost forever. I make you this promise. I will never forget all the days and nights and all the seasons you have missed - all the laughter and the sweet smell of life you have lost forever. I will not forget and I will do all I can to ensure that others, somehow, will not forget either. This I owe you as long as I live. I make you this promise. I will never forget. 

May no soldier go unloved
May no soldier walk alone.
   May no soldier be forgotten
Until they all come home.

Let us pray to the Supreme Commander that all our comrades in arms will soon be back within our ranks. Those who do not return, we will never forget their sacrifices. May God cradle each one of these heroes in His loving arms. May each of them walk with God and sleep with the Angels.




WB Ken Baril was born in New Haven, CT. and moved to the Cincinnati area in 1999. He is a three time Master of his lodge, Temple Lodge No. 16. AF & AM, 1982-1983-1995, located in Cheshire, CT. While living in Connecticut and prior to his moving to Cincinnati, Ohio, Ken has been the featured speaker at many public schools and Veterans organizations. Ken is a published author who has written a book focusing on members of the Masonic Fraternity who have been recipients of our nation’s highest award for bravery, the prestigious Medal of Honor called " The Medal of Honor - The Letter G in Valor". Ken has dedicated his time and effort to researching and developing various programs including, “The Medal of Honor Program,” “The Immortal Four Chaplains,” as well as many others. His programs are dedicated to the preservation of an important portion of American history, contributions, and sacrifices, in the defense of the United States, and to the memory of all those who have given their lives in the pursuit of that objective. He also writes articles for various Masonic publications. He served his country during the Korean War in the United States Air Force. He currently resides in Hudson, FL. with his wife, Marion.

A Mind Numbing 2,772 Miles

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Brian Schimian 

The days leading up to February 9th, 2015 were filled with mixed emotions, but mostly dread for what lay ahead.  My time in So. Cal. had drawn to an end and I was going to have to head back to IL.  I left Chicago’s Midway airport on November 18th, 2014 at 1355 hours,(1:55 PM) bound for Denver and then on to L.A. with the plan to return on December 9th.  I never made that flight back.  For the better part of three months I was living a dream with my Lady, her adorable kids and some additions to my circle of “friends” that are better considered family to me.  The time was beyond epic; two and a half days of wine tasting on the coast, dinner every other Friday night with Cheri & Gabe, dinners with Bro. RPL and Natalie and their wonderful kids, invitations to Lodge’s for Degree work, DeMolay Chapter meetings, two days at Disney, Birthdays, Universal’s City Walk, lunch almost every day with my Lady and too much more to try and list.

Although I was traveling home, it felt like I was more so “leaving” home.  Besides all the people that I met, great food and places to visit, I was having to leave my Lady and her kids.  It was like cutting out part of my heart and leaving it behind.  A painful end to the “tease” of what my future would hopefully hold.  My plans for the journey home changed from taking a direct route along I-80 thanks to a low pressure system that moved in the days before I had to start back.  Oh yeah, while I was in So. Cal,. I purchased a vehicle so I had wheels to get around.  My route home was going to be taking a much more southern route to avoid the higher elevations and highway closures from the potential snow fall.  As I packed my vehicle and got ready for the trip, I made sure to put a legal pad and pen on the passenger seat so that I could keep a journal of my exploits on the way home.  The Hindenburg had a better experience landing than I had filling the pages of my legal pad.  Looking at the pages now, all I had filled in were seven lines.  The margin has twelve lines filled in where I tracked my fuel stops.

As I planned and announced my plans to return, I received requests to meet up with some old friends, co-workers and Brothers.  After saying goodbye to my Lady and the kids, I pulled out of the driveway just behind them.  She was on her way to drop the kids off at daycare before work and I was heading East.  I hit the highways and made it thru Cali., Arizona, New Mexico and got to the other side of El Paso, Texas before I had to stop for a little bit of a rest.  As I would lose radio reception, I clicked through episodes of the WCY and The Winding Stairs podcasts, hoping to spur something to write about.  It never happened.  I did however appreciate the familiar voices of Brothers RJ & Juan.  The last time I had gone through marathon of episodes, and the first time I listened to Juan (a week after he started The Winding Stairs) was when I was sitting in a Florida hospital the night before my father passed.  It was then that I passed the exit for 29 Palms, the place my Pops went for the USMC Boot Camp after enlisting for WWII.  To say that my trip had begun on a sad emotional note would be an understatement, and nothing seemed to be taking me in a happier direction, mentally or geographically.

I kept looking for a sign for a topic, but nothing came to mind.  Just nothingness.  As I continued down the road, I drove through the town of Liberty Hill Texas.  I passed a rather large structure that had few windows and a large fence around it.  The first thing that came to my mind was how I must be passing some sort of prison or institutional facility.  It turns out I was spot on, only the sign outside said, “Liberty Hill High School Home of the Panthers”.  Like I said, spot on, at least with the way I felt about my time in High School.  About the only thing during my entire time in the car on the drive home that remotely hit me with a Masonic tone was a line in a song, “…the devil is in the house of the rising sun…”

As chance would have it, a young lady that I was on the Fire Department with  had recently relocated
to the Austin, Texas area and she was going to be free all day so we made plans to meet up for lunch on Tuesday.  It certainly was great to see my “little sister” again, if only for a few hours.  She is an amazing woman and very strong.  It was a pleasure to spend time getting caught up and talking about life, where we have been and what we hope for in our futures.  From there I was headed North to the greater Dallas area.  Upon hearing of my plans to travel north, I received word from a few Brothers that I would be stopping in town to meet up, regardless of timing.  I took some time to drive around Dallas and see some sights on my way.  I even dropped by the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington,TX and sent a photo of it off to some people I know that (for some ungodly reason) are Cowboys fans.  As ridiculously confusing as the area highways are, I found my way to the Holy Grail Pub.  Such a fitting name for the conversations and Brotherhood that was had with Bro.’s Hosler & Berryman.  I think the three of us could have sat there all night and probably the next few days just talking.  Another prime example of “earning a Master’s Wage”.  Even though Bro. Hosler & I are writers here at The Midnight Freemasons, we had yet to meet in person.  Like Bro. Franklin said: “…He who seeks to draw wages in gold or silver will be disappointed.  The wages of a Mason are earned and paid in their dealings with one another…”  Regardless of where I considered my home to be, I was far from it, yet I felt warm in my heart as I sat with these Brethren and the discussions rolled on into the evening.

As it had to be, the theme of this journey being “all good things must come to an end”, eventually they had to return home to their significant others and I had to head North to meet up with another Brother in Des Moines, Iowa.  We paid our tabs, said our goodbyes and parted ways.  Again adding to the list of those I consider to be my family.  Luckily it was dark by then and I was spared the boring scenery of the plains as I made my way to Iowa.  Reaching Des Moines, I was able to meet with a good friend Bro. Buman.  We have a lot in common and have some great conversations about the Craft and life over the past year or so. We had a great afternoon as he took me around the area and showed me the Masonic sights.  I got to check out his Blue Lodge, the Za-Ga-Zig Shrine and we even got an extra special tour of the AASR Valley.  Talk about having things to research, LOL.  Ryan truly is my Brother from another mother.  I am happy to have met him and his family after he read an article I wrote and he reached out to get into contact with me.  We give each other a hard time about many things, but it is all in jest and we are as close as any Brothers could be.  I always look forward to our conversations, regardless of what time of day it is.  I even talked him into writing and submitting articles for The Midnight Freemasons. Hopefully by the time this article is published, so will some of his work.  He is as inspiring as he is interesting, for a Clown anyway.  Sorry, Bro., had too.

A few hours later I was at the end of the last 6 hour leg of my journey.  I pulled down the driveway and parked my truck in front of my house.  It was a bittersweet moment for many reasons.  It hurt to leave, but I had labors to complete in IL if my Lady and her kids were to have a suitable home should they return.  The reason I had to make this journey over halfway across the Country left me heavy in my heart with a numb mind.  But along the way I was lifted up and my heart filled in ways that only “family” can do.  After taking a weekend to be with my “Family” here in IL, I am making great progress in a short time on the house and I continue to travel in accordance with the terms of my Masonic Obligations.

I have already written about some of the exploits since being back and I feel like I am just getting started.  I have finally gotten in touch with a Masonic Motorcycle Organization that I was looking in to before I left for Cali. and I am one Club vote away from being a full member of a great group of guys that understand what “Brother” really means.  I already have one speaking engagement on the books for 2016 in PA (a big Thank You to Bro. Brian Evichin).  I will be one of 12 (or more) speakers over a 2 day “Weekend of Light” and I could not be more excited and humbled by the list of other presenters that will be there, I think currently there are five of the thirteen writers from The Midnight Freemasons that will be presenting.  My hope is to add several presentations across the Country between now and then.  This year has started out on bit of an emotional and geographic roller coaster for me.  Luckily I have deep running roots in Masonry that ground me and lead me.  Stay tuned, it should get interesting, to say the least.

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. You can follow his blog "It is. In God. I do." where he publishes even more excellent content. "Start Square, Finish Level"

Our Nation’s Capital

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

Fellow Midnight Freemason Todd Creason and I recently attended Masonic Week 2015 in Reston, VA.  While there, we took some time to tour our nation’s capital city, seeing many of the Masonic sites, plus many more.  I love visiting Washington DC.   The history, architecture, and sites are something I never get tired of seeing and I have been nearly 30 times.

Last year I became a dual member of Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington DC.   This lodge is one of the oldest and most historic in the District.   The Brethren there, have welcomed me with open arms and I consider them true friends.

I also enjoy taking pictures and have taken more than 15,000 pictures of the DC area.   I plan to share some of these over the coming year and will be working with Brother Creason on future posts that feature my pictures with his writing to highlight some of the sites I have visited.

I have a Facebook page Freemason Photography that I have started and will be feature pictures of not only DC, but also from across the country.   So to get us started, here is a very small sampling.

The U.S. Capitol Building

House of the Temple – Home of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, SJ
Brother John Paul Jones – father of the US Navy

Spring cherry blossoms on the National Mall 
with the Jefferson Memorial in the background.

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.