The Shotgun or The Sniper Rifle

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Adam Thayer

In today’s Masonic world, I find that most lodges treat new candidate recruitment and admission in one of two ways: as a shotgun, or as a sniper rifle. I admit, it’s a dangerous analogy to make, given that gun ownership is currently such a hot button issue, however a careful examination will prove that it is both prudent and fitting.

On one side, you have lodges who view recruitment as a shotgun blast; let’s bring in as many candidates as possible, in the hopes that one or two of them will stick. This type of lodge generally performs their degrees in one day (the so-called “Blue Lightning” classes), bringing in many men at once, and turning them loose at the end of the day as Freemasons. In the best of these lodges, there are mentors assigned to each man, so that they can continue to learn from the experience, and in the end still will make good Masons.

On the other side, you have lodges who view recruitment as a sniper rifle; they very carefully choose who they will admit, spending time selecting only those they deem worthy based on a set of ever-changing standards. Often, you will find that they only bring in one or two new members a year, and although those new members will stick around, their growth is not high enough to offset the attrition they are experiencing due to their aging membership.

I belong to two lodges in my home state; one of each type. In the larger lodge, the attitude is to bring in as many new men per year as possible, without resorting to one-days, accepting the loss of many of those men as inevitable, and hoping to retain a few good ones. While we do assign mentors to these men, the main purpose is to teach them the catechism, as our lodge requires the traditional “long form” prove-up between degrees. When we retain a man, he generally turns into an amazing brother, who will climb through the advancing line of leadership, and the lodge becomes better for it. It also provides us plenty of practice for degrees, and as a result we consistently have one of the better degree teams in the state.

Having said that, there are issues to this approach. Officer burn-out is common. Many men who would have been great brothers are lost due to (what they perceive as) our lack of interest in them as individuals. For those lodges that do participate in the one-day degrees, we find that the percentage of those who are retained is even lower; many find themselves disappointed that there was not more to the experience, and simply never come back.

In the smaller of my two lodges, the attitude is very different; we’re a close-knit community of friends, and are reluctant to let new men join until we’ve met with them multiple times, done a thorough vetting process, and verified that they’re a “good fit” for our lodge. The men we bring in almost invariably stay for life, and even if they’ve moved away they maintain a dual membership with our lodge, and we generally are all close friends.

While this sounds perfect, please note there are issues here as well. Our lodge is fighting to maintain our current membership levels. Our rate of attrition is growing annually, and while the replacement members are generally younger, a time will come when we don’t have enough members left to maintain the lodge. Due to our low membership numbers, our funding is significantly more limited, and the much needed repairs that our building faces have to be much more carefully planned and executed.

Both styles have some great advantages, and both come with unique issues. I’ve heard from many brothers that after ten years in the Craft, how you came in makes no difference in the level of education and involvement you find from these brothers, and I believe this to be true. One of my dearest brothers was the “victim” of a Blue Lightning class, and continues to be active in Masonry many, many years later.

There must be a happy middle ground somewhere; where we bring in a reasonable number of new members, enough to show positive growth across the fraternity, but bring in only those who will be active and involved, and who will give back for all that we have given them.

This is the point where a very smart, traditional author will offer the solution he has been carefully leading you to. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer. Believe me, if I did, I would sell the secret to every lodge in the world, and retire early, knowing I had done something great for the craft.
If there is an answer, I think it must come from blending the best of both methodologies, while removing those parts that detract from the overall goal. For lodges that take a shotgun approach, consider slowing down a bit, being more selective in who you choose, and forcing your candidates to receive their degrees the “hard” way. For those lodges who are taking more of a sniper rifle approach, consider opening up to more new members, take a few more risks with your candidates, and you may be happily surprised by both the quality and quantity of new men you receive.

Sometimes, simple awareness of a problem is enough to help you on the path to fix it, and in that I am in hopes that this short article will help your lodge to identify how they view candidates, and more importantly, what steps they can take to improve the functioning of your lodge.


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

Genealogy of the United States' Masonic Grand Lodges

Whence came your Grand Lodge?

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

The first time I saw it hanging in the Grand Lodge building in Columbia, Missouri, I thought, "That is the most complex, convoluted, confusing thing I have ever seen."  It was also captivating.  That "thing" is a large map of the United States as it existed in 1939.  In other words, there is no Alaska or Hawaii and, for some reason, it also lops off the bottom part of Texas (given the traffic I've encountered in Houston, I've often thought that might be a good idea).  

The map's title reveals it to be the "Genealogy of Masonic Grand Lodges of the U.S., prepared by George B. Clark, Denver, Colorado, September, 1926, revised September 1939."  The Masonic Service Association published it the same year. 

The individual states are colored either blue or gray, with concentrations of the blue states mostly in the midwest and west coast.  The Great Lakes are an appropriate aqua color.  Michigan's Upper Peninsula is also aqua, giving one the impression it may have been submerged at the time.

There is a large circle inside or (in the case of the smaller New England states) near each state.  In the blue states, the circle is filled with white.  In the gray states, the circle is gray with a red border.  Also inside most states is a series of smaller circles with the same color scheme.  Finally, in a master stroke of chaotic genius, a network of red lines connects the large and small circles.  

It's an exquisite mess.

In simple terms, the map shows the origins of each Grand Lodge along with the individual Lodges that formed it.  Using my own Grand Lodge as an example (it's all about me, of course), here's how it works:

The large circle inside Missouri is inscribed "April 24, 1841," indicating the Grand Lodge's date of origin.*  That circle connects to smaller circles labeled "140," "150" and "153."  Those circles connect to ones in Kansas containing, respectively, "1,"  "2" and "3." In turn, those three Kansas circles connect to to the large one in that state, which says, "March 17, 1856."  

In other words, the Grand Lodge of Missouri chartered Missouri Lodges 140, 150 and 153, all located in Kansas.  Then, when Kansas became a Grand Lodge on  March 17, 1856, those Lodges became, respectively, Kansas Lodges 1, 2 and 3.  For the record, those were Kansas Lodges Smithton 1, Leavenworth 2 and Kansas 3.

This intricate map shows the same information for each Grand Lodge in the continental United States.  You can follow the history of your own Grand Lodge by clicking on the accompanying link.

The Rest of the Story

The map is a patchwork of color: blue states, gray states, red lines and so on.  Some of the smaller circles connect to other circles with black numbers or red numbers or, in some cases, both black and red.  There is no accompanying key to explain the meaning of those and other color variations.  Without such indications I was quite curious to find out what all of the complex coloring meant.

I called MWB Richard Fletcher who, at the time, was Executive Secretary of the Masonic Service Association.  "I have the original map here," he told me, "and there are no colors on it."

Hitting that dead end, I called RWB Ronald Miller, who was the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Missouri.  "We created that map," he said, "for our Masonic Museum.  The consultant we hired for the project told us colors have more impact, so they were added for that reason.  The colors are random... they have no meaning."

Disappointing, but it just goes to show the old adage is true: "A camel is a horse designed by a committee..." or a consultant trying to justify an outrageous fee.

*The Grand Lodge of Missouri recognizes April 21, 1821 as its official organization date.  Historical documentation indicates the brothers did not assemble until Monday, April 23, 1821, and did not have a quorum until April 24, when the actual business of the meeting and election of Grand Officers took place.


Bro. Steve Harrison, 33°, is 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 Worshipful Master. He is a dual member of Kearney Lodge #311, St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite, Moila Shrine and a member and Past Dean of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. Brother Harrison is a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasons blog as well as several other Masonic publications. His latest book, Freemasons: Tales From the Craft & Freemasons at Oak Island. Both are available on

The Beaver Degree

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Ryan "T-Rex" Buman

Before I get into the deep subject matter of this article let me clear up a couple of things. The following information takes place in the symbolic pre-1840’s fur trade era, in a buck skinner encampment.  All the participants at these events, also known as rendezvous, are known as “skinners”.  All items, shelters, clothing, cooking, etc. are to be as period correct as possible. Modern items are kept hidden away unless absolutely necessary and even then they are tried as best as possible to be kept hidden.

The main camp activities have settled down for the day and campfires can be seen all around many cooking the night’s dinner or heating water to do the dishes, before settling in for the night to enjoy the completion of the day’s labors. You can see camps lit up with the candle lanterns where the kids may be playing games of some sort while the adults sit and talk, catch up on events since last meeting, or sing, play music, and all around have fun.  

Somewhere in camp tonight you know that there is a lodge held in a canvas tent of some sort, with Brother Master Masons preparing for the activities of the night. You await their arrival with patience but at the same time with some trepidation.  What will this night entail for you? What will happen tonight at this “Beaver Degree”?

A short while later two Brothers approach you, the initiate, out of the dark from somewhere in camp.  They ask if you are ready.  Before leaving camp, they take a look at your clothing to make sure that you are still dressed in proper period attire.  After meeting with their satisfaction, you walk with them along the path to their camp. On the way you say hello to other members of the camp, maybe stop and ask about their day. To them the three of you are just taking an evening stroll as friends.
Upon your arrival at the encampment, where the degree is to be performed, you meet with the other Brothers who have also came to join in the degree work. You the initiate, will be asked to wait with patience until the Boushway can be informed of your request to be inducted and his answer returned.

One by one the new initiates are taken into the tent, flaps shut, and then the degree, conferred upon them.  For those standing outside there is probably some wonder as to what is going on.  But as any member of our great Fraternity knows, waiting with patience always has its rewards.  While my obligation prevents me from going into detail about the degree itself, I can tell you this, if you are a buck skinner and a Master Mason this group is well worth it.

The first National Order of the Beaver degree  was conferred during the Third Annual Northeast Rendezvous  held in Exeter, Rhode Island in in the year of 1990, which was where the first conferral of the "Buck Skinners' Degree” was conferred. The new tradition that would later be known to many later as the Beaver Degree.  Each member initiated into the NAOOTB is given a number that can be inscribed onto the back of their own Silver Beaver when it is given to them after their degree.
The Beaver Degree, may be given to any Masonic “buck skinner” properly dressed in pre 1840’s attire, in a lodge of a primitive setting with a minimum of two members of the N.A.O.O.T.B. in attendance to confer this degree on any Master Mason with a current and valid dues card and paying the required fee set by the charter of the Beaver Degree members numbered 1 through 20.

What you will find interesting is that there are many Brothers within this organization that are members that you may have never known about before your initiation.  I myself while visiting a well-known rendezvous in South Western Wisconsin, walked through camp and met many Brothers who were also Brother Beavers that I hadn’t realized were members.  It was funny to see how so many of them had a different ways of showing that they were a Brother Mason from a simple Square and Compasses on a flag, to a metal cut out, stuck into the ground in front of their tent, a large pewter tankard with a beautiful handmade silver Square and Compasses on it, or the most memorable of all was a Brother who has a hand painted flag of a beaver, holding the “well-known cane and two balls”, wearing his Masonic Apron. This was right at the front of his lodge for all to see, but unless you are a Brother you have no further knowledge of what this means.

I was brought into the Beavers by a good friend of mine by the name of Big Horn, two years ago at a rendezvous in Steam Boat Rock Iowa.  Now if you know Horn you know what kind of man he is.  To say the least it was interesting night.  But I wouldn’t have changed it for anything.  Masonry was brought West by the buck skinners or mountain men of days long past and it is only right that they should still live on today through this wonderful degree.  Every year there is a rendezvous where the “Beaver Camp” is held.  It could be anywhere in the United States or Canada.  If you are a Brother Beaver please give me a shout and say hello.  If you aren’t a Beaver yet but are a buck skinner and would like to become one, let me know and I will see what I can do to help you out.

I end this article with a positive note to all of you Brothers.  Always keep looking for Further Light in Masonry.  I know that this degree opened my eyes to a whole other world that has created more interest in bettering myself as a Mason.  Goodnight Brothers.


Bro. Ryan Buman is a Brother Master Mason with Southgate Lodge #657 Des Moines, Iowa and also Pioneer Lodge #22 Des Moines, Iowa.  He is a Noble of the Za Ga Zig Shrine where he is a firefighter Clown. Ryan has worked as both a EMT and Firefighter in his career, married, and has two wonderful daughters who keep him on his toes

Being A Good Mason Is Its Own Reward

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Todd E. Creason

"It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them." 

~Mark Twain
Polar Star Lodge No. 79, MO

As with many things, it's one thing to say it, and it's another to do it.  It's easy to say you're a Freemason.  It's easy to look like a Freemason--you put a sticker on your car, and you wear a ring.  But would somebody be able to look at your life, and the way you interact with the world, and be able to tell you're a Freemason?  Are you living up to the standard, or are you going to Lodge to be seen in Lodge?  Are you there to learn and participate, or are you there to collect medals and certificates?

Unfortunately, too many men misunderstand what Freemasonry is about.  They enter into it wanting to accomplish something, however, what they believe is important is covering their walls with awards, and themselves with titles, jewels and ribbons.  That's not the point.  The purpose is to learn something--to improve yourself.  To open your eyes and see yourself as an instrument of purpose, and the world as an opportunity for service. You'll find those medals and acknowledgements often go to those Masons that aren't really looking for that kind of attention--much to the chagrin of those who really desire them.  And I've got a great story to illustrate that point. 

I helped a Mason's daughter a few years ago go through her father's Masonry stuff.   She was a friend of my father's, and she had a trunk full of it, and had no idea what to do with it.  So I went to check it out.  I'd have to admit, I was surprised at what was inside that trunk.  It was filled with a lot of Masonic stuff, but there were a considerable number of Masonic awards, plaques, certificates, ribbons, medals, etc, including his 33rd Degree cap and certificate--still rolled up in the cardboard tube where it had been since he'd received it no doubt.  I was surprised to find that stuff moldering in an old trunk.  Those are the kinds of acknowledgements Masons proudly display.  I asked her how they had wound up there.  Apparently, that was his trunk, and that's where he put them after he received them.  He never hung anything up, never donned the white cap of a 33rd, or wore his medals and jewels--he just filled up a trunk in his garage.

I told her that was a pretty amazing collection of accomplishment to be hidden away like that.  This isn't an exact quote, but she said to the effect, "I remember him receiving some of these awards.  I know Dad was always grateful and surprised when he received these things, but he said it wasn't the reason he became a Mason.  He said being a good Mason was its own reward.  He didn't need anything else." 

His example is something we can all learn from.  If you're doing something with the expectation of being rewarded, then you're doing it for the wrong reason.


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:

The Case for the Missing Comma

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB. Adam Thayer

Those who know me within Masonry know that I’m a bit of a ritual nerd. I think our ceremonies are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever experienced, and each time I watch them, it feels brand new to me. One of my favorite things to do Masonically is to take a piece of ritual work apart, and examine it from different angles, to try to understand the deeper meanings hidden within.

“What come you here to do?” It’s a question we are asked to consider in our Entered Apprentice degree, and while the answer is provided for us, it is up to each of us to determine what that means in our own lives.

There are two nearly identical answers to the question, depending on your jurisdiction, and the only grammatical difference is the placement of a comma. The difference in your stated purpose, however, is radical.

Some jurisdictions (my own included) do not have a comma in the answer, and as such it reads “To learn to subdue my passions and improve myself in Masonry.” When read this way, you are here for two purposes: to be taught how to control your passions, and to become a better Mason.

It’s possible that, in those jurisdictions without the comma, Albert Pike stole the comma for use in his writings.

Some other jurisdictions have the comma inserted, so that your purpose is “To learn, to subdue my passions and improve myself in Masonry.” Now your purpose is threefold: first and foremost, to learn, second to control your passions, and third to become a better Mason.

It’s a subtle difference, but an important one. Under this text, you aren’t just learning how to subdue your passions, you’re learning about a myriad of subjects. In addition, the focus is much more on action; you are actively seeking to subdue your passions, not just learning how to do so.

While I would never say that the ritual in my jurisdiction is incorrect, I will happily admit that I like it with the extra comma better. It puts more emphasis on working hard to be better men, and doesn’t limit the scope of your learning to a narrow field.

At the risk of committing a grave Masonic offense, I would put forward that there is an even better way to word it, and one that I hope you will keep in mind:

“What come you here to do? To learn, to subdue my passions, and improve myself THROUGH

We often say that our fraternity exists to make good men better. We don’t say to make better Masons, because Masonry is a collection of tools we should be using to turn ourselves into better men both inside and outside of the fraternity. If our goal is only to make better Masons, we should solely be focused on things such as improving ritual work, and learning to love the reading of the minutes.

Masonry is a lifelong pursuit of knowledge and perfection, and in the final tally, any improvement we make is worth the effort put in. With that in mind, what come YOU here to do?


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

What the Hecatomb?

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

The sum of the squares of the sides of a right triangle equals the square of the hypotenuse (a² + b² = c²).

Sounds simple, doesn't it?  Someone just looking at a diagram of the problem can pretty much assume it's true — a "no-brainer," as they say.

So, prove it.

Oops... easier said than done, isn't it?  That problem confounded scholars for ages until Pythagoras (c. 569 BC - c. 475 BC) became — allegedly — the first to prove it. Today, it still confounds high school geometry students everywhere.  

Imagine, then, how happy Pythagoras must have been when he finally solved the problem, known today as the Pythagorean Theorem (or, the 47th Problem of Euclid).  Anderson's Constitutions (1723), gives this account:

“The Greater Pythagoras, provided the Author of the 47th Proposition of Euclid's first Book, which, if duly observed, is the Foundation of all Masonry, sacred, civil, and military…” and in the Third Degree lecture: “This wise philosopher (Pythagoras) enriched his mind abundantly in a general knowledge of things, and more especially in Geometry, or Masonry. On this subject he drew out many problems and theorems, and, among the most distinguished, he erected this, when, in the joy of his heart, he exclaimed Eureka, in the Greek language signifying, "I have found it," and upon the discovery of which he is said to have sacrificed a hecatomb. It teaches Masons to be general lovers of the arts and sciences.”

Let's leave the actual proof to geometricians while concentrating on another problem: he sacrificed a... what the heck is a hecatomb?

Hecatomb: it's not a word you hear in everyday conversation and, in fact, I had never heard it before I witnessed a Third Degree lecture.  In context, I assumed it to be some kind of animal. After all, Pythagoras sacrificed it.  "Maybe," I thought, "it's a mammal... now extinct... perhaps something resembling a wild boar, only the size of a rhinoceros... yeah, that's it... a wild hecatomb."

Not even close.

Animal sacrifice to the gods was a common practice in ancient Greece.  On occasion, the ceremony took on a much more auspicious meaning to the point it required a major statement.  In these cases the Greeks sacrificed as many as a hundred animals, usually cattle, and generally followed with a feast.  The sacrifice and feast was a hecatomb.

In The Iliad, Homer describes a hecatomb as follows:
[455] ...When they had done praying and sprinkling the barley-meal, they drew back the heads of the victims and killed and flayed them.

[460] They cut out the thigh-bones... and then Chryses laid them on the wood fire....When the thigh-bones were burned and they had tasted the inward meats,

[465] they cut the rest up small, put the pieces upon the spits, roasted them till they were done ...and the feast was ready, they ate it, and every man had his full share, so that all were satisfied. As soon as they had had enough to eat and drink,

[470] ...all day long the young men worshipped the god with song, hymning him and chanting the joyous paean, and the god took pleasure in their voices;

 A Greek Hecatomb

The hecatomb's history is elusive.  There remain only a few documented instances of such ceremonies, according to Sandrine Huber, Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Lorraine in France.  "The landscape of the Greek Hecatombs," she says, "is a religious and civic landscape, in some cases of Panhellenic importance. [It involves] numerous and simultaneous sacrificial animals... It is... a soundscape, an olfactive landscape and finally a gustative landscape." In other words, it's noisy and smelly but can result in one heck(atomb) of a big barbeque.

Proving the theorem that today bears his name was a big deal to Pythagoras; and so was his reaction to it.  He sacrificed a hecatomb.


Bro. Steve Harrison, 33°, is 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 Worshipful Master. He is a dual member of Kearney Lodge #311, St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite, Moila Shrine and a member and Past Dean of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. Brother Harrison is a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasons blog as well as several other Masonic publications. His latest book, Freemasons: Tales From the Craft & Freemasons at Oak Island. Both are available on

Hermes Said What? Oh My Goodness!

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
WB. Sam L. Land

Hermes Trismegistus (Thrice Great) gave a very interesting statement on God and Creation
Atum creates the Cosmic Mind
The Cosmic Mind creates the Cosmos,
The Cosmos creates Time,
Time creates change.
Change creates Life.
Hermes believed that God (Atum) was the original source of everything; His essence filled everything; and that He controlled everything in perfection. His thought of Creation was the force that caused the Cosmic Mind (Consciousness) to exist and it was complete and perfect. The Cosmic Consciousness is the source of all knowledge and the force which makes physical Creation happen. This is done by the creation of the Cosmos.

The Cosmos is the entity that is composed of the stars and planets which turn and move in their respective perfect orbits and who always return to their starting point only to begin again in endless perfect repetition. The Cosmos is the place where all matter is created into its individual forms. The Cosmos is the creator of time.

Time is created by the perfect and continual revolutions of the bodies in the Cosmos. Since they all have a beginning and ending point of each revolution, the concept of before, now, and tomorrow are created. Because if their spin while in orbit we are provided with the concept of day and night. Those planets that have both a sun and moon provided their planet with the concepts of solar days and lunar days. This action also creates change.

Change is created because of the ability to measure things in time. We can count our years of existence because we use the anniversary of our birth. This separation of things into past, present, and future gives us the sense of time and movement through time. This change is the parent of life as we know it.

Life is made possible because the ability to change over time allows us to learn, grow, and increase. Each generation of creation is more advanced (physically, mentally, or spiritually) than the last one and more capable of knowing and understanding the principles of Nature and Creation.

Hermes goes on to say that it is the job of mankind to nurture and respect the creation process and that it is also our job to nurture and preserve our planet.

This process described by Hermes is very similar to the explanation of the Creation to be found in the Mystical Traditions of the Hebrew religion. It truly seems that the more different religious creation beliefs are studied, the more that they are seen as the same and tend toward the idea the religious thought and belief was once in total unity and divided into groups of individuals who thought and believed alike. These differences still divide us today but they need not. We may enhance the rejoining process of mankind into one unity by discarding our small differences and strongly emphasizing our many similarities.


WB Sam L. Land is the Worshipful Master of Linn Lodge No. 326 A.F. & A.M. in Linn, Missouri. He also holds membership in both York and Scottish Rite, including Knight Templar. He is a life member of the Missouri Lodge of Research,  a member of the Scottish Rite Research Society, and the Southern California Research Lodge. His articles appear regularly in The Missouri Freemason Magazine and he has been published by The Working Tools Magazine. He has also presented research work to the AMD.  He is currently enrolled a student of the Guthrie College of the Consistory and has received the been awarded the Past Venerable Master and Past Wise Master Orders. 

The Quarry Project

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. James Dillman
President of The Masonic Society

Before I delve into the main topic of this column, I’d like to express a few thoughts about “The Midnight Freemasons” blog and the brethren who write for it. I’ve been a regular reader from the very beginning and was immediately impressed by the quality of the writing. It is no secret why this blog has become so popular among Freemasons. It is an excellent mix of history, philosophy, symbolism, lodge development, editorial comment, and the personal experiences of the various writers. I am fortunate to know several of these brethren personally and I can assure you that each of these men not only talk the talk, they walk the walk of a Freemason. I am very grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to write a guest column about an event that I believe will be of value on some level to every Freemason.
The Masonic Society, the Masonic Library and Museum Association, and the Masonic Information Center, a branch of the Masonic Service Association, will present The Quarry Project II on September 18-20 at the Hilton Indianapolis Hotel and Suites in downtown Indianapolis, IN. 
The Quarry Project is a continuing effort designed to promote Masonic research and preservation by providing instruction and guidance to both new and experienced Masonic writers, researchers, and editors, both within and without the fraternity, and to Masonic librarians and museum curators on the display, preservation, and cataloging of Masonic archives. Phase II will feature a third track on Masonic public relations sponsored by the Masonic Information Center. The public relations track will feature presentations on the use of social media and other topics designed to improve communication between Masonic organizations, their members, and the public at large. 
The research, writing, and editing track is sponsored by The Masonic Society. Topics to be addressed in the breakout sessions include how to obtain original source materials, how to use an academic library, communicating your research, Masonic blogging, on-demand printing, and publishing options. One session will be devoted to the recently released Quarry Project Style Guide, a project that was initiated at the first TQP in 2013. The first edition of the style guide has been released and is published on the TQP website. Several prominent Masonic publishers have already agreed to adopt the style guide. 
The library/museum track is sponsored by the Masonic Library and Museum Association. Breakout session presentations will include library collection development, cataloging your library collection, using your museum collection in exhibitions, photographing and numbering your collection, connecting your audience to your collection, collection policies, and a case study on building a museum from the ground up. A round table discussion regarding procurement and use of college interns will also be part of this track. 
The public relations track is sponsored by the Masonic Information Center. The breakout session topics include use of social media, awareness via Masonic philanthropy, public relations and marketing, advertising and media campaigns, history of the MIC, and a look at Masonic public relations from outside the fraternity. 
In addition to the presentations, there is ample time to network with the presenters and other attendees. The opportunity to share experiences, address specific problems, and establish connections with experts in your particular area of interest often turns out to be as valuable as the presentations themselves.
You don’t have to be a published writer, author, or editor of a publication with a large circulation to benefit greatly from this conference. Neither do you have to be a grand lodge librarian or museum curator. The Quarry Project will benefit local lodges of research as well as anyone interested in conducting Masonic research. It also provides brethren who maintain the local lodge library and artifacts with information and instruction that is not readily available elsewhere.
The public relations track will prove very useful not to only grand lodge officers, but to current and future officers of local lodges. Every Masonic organization has to communicate and many of the problems that plague our groups tend to be associated with poor and ineffective communication. This will be an opportunity to hear from several grand lodges, as well as those in the private sector, who have successfully managed their communication, both internal and external.

You can visit The Quarry Project website at to view the complete list of topics and our distinguished group of presenters. You will also find all of the particulars on registration and accommodations. Questions can be e-mailed to . Once again, I wish to thank The Midnight Freemasons for this opportunity and I look forward to seeing many of you at The Quarry Project in Indianapolis.
Bro. James R. Dillman is a native of Royal Center, IN and was raised as a Master Mason in Royal Center Lodge 575 in Royal Center, IN on March 4, 2000. After relocating to Indianapolis in 2002, he affiliated with Logan Lodge 575 in Indianapolis and served as Worshipful Master in 2005. He also affiliated with Lodge Vitruvian 767 in Indianapolis and served as Worshipful Master in 2011. He is a member of the Dwight L. Smith Lodge of Research. 
Additionally he is a member of the Valley of Indianapolis Scottish Rite, currently serving as Thrice Potent Master of the Adoniram Lodge of Perfection.  He is also a member of the York Rite, AMD and York Rite College.
He currently serves as President of The Masonic Society, where he is a founding member and fellow. He has written for the Indiana Freemason Magazine, the Scottish Rite Valley of Indianapolis Double Eagle, The Journal of the Masonic Society, and The Art of Manliness e-magazine. He is a frequent guest speaker at Masonic lodges and related organizations.

Island City Lodge - A Farewell

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RWB Michael H. Shirley

My family’s annual two-week sojourn north has come and gone, where. I usually manage to get to a stated meeting and a breakfast at my lodge there, Island City No. 330, F & A.M., but the first Wednesday of June fell on the first this year, and we arrived the Saturday after, so I was only able to go to breakfast each week. Both times it was a pleasant way to catch up with Brethren I don’t see otherwise, and whose fellowship I value. 

On my first visit there a few years ago, Worshipful Brother Bill Hughes was in the East. I didn’t get much of a chance to know Bill, but over the years it became clear to me that he was a committed member of the Lodge, always doing what was he was asked, and filling whatever need he could. This year, he was Senior Warden. If I recall correctly, he wasn’t at the first breakfast this year, but was certainly at the second one. I didn’t have much of a chance to talk with him, but we were able to exchange greetings. I didn't manage to say goodbye to him when I left, but I wish I had, because he died, suddenly and unexpectedly, two weeks later. I found out when I received my monthly email lodge bulletin. It contained his obituary:

We mourn the loss of Brother Bill Hughes, who was called from labor by the Great Architect on Saturday June 27th. He now dwells in the Lodge Eternal with those who have gone before. 

He was Raised an Entered Apprentice on February 1st, 1970, Passed to Fellowcraft on February 21st, 1970, and raised to the Sublime Level of Master Mason on April 18th, 1970, in Valley Station, Kentucky. 

Bill was a Past Master and Trustee of the lodge. This year he sat in the West as Senior Warden. Brother Bill was devoted member of the lodge, and cheerfully made himself available for the numerous lodge projects that required him. We will carry with us fond memories of his soft Kentucky accent, and cheerful sense of humor. 

Bill is survived by his wife Marge, two sons, Mike and Travis, daughter-in-law Jenny, and two grandchildren, Riley and Bryson. 

There’s not much I can add to that, save this: Brother Bill Hughes reminds me, and should remind all of us, that the messenger of death comes when least expected; that nothing we do on this earth is matters, save those things that work toward the growth and perfection of individual character, which necessarily means loving our fellow creatures and working toward their betterment. This he did. We remember Brethren like Bill with affection and admiration because those departed Brethren are exemplars of what Masonry is. As the Illinois Masonic funeral ritual reminds us, “while our eyes may be dim with tears as we think of our departed brother, we may also, in the sincerity of our hearts, accord to his memory the commendation of having lived a useful and exemplary life, and as a just and upright Mason.” So may we all be remembered.  


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. A Scottish Rite Mason, he is past Most Wise Master of the George E. Burow Chapter of Rose Croix in the Valley of Danville, AASR-NMJ; 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:

Freemasonry Is...

Survey Says? Part II

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB. Robert. H. Johnson

Not long ago, I published the first in a series of articles I planned on writing involving Masonic data. I asked a simple question about the Scottish Rite and you can read about it and see the crazy results of that survey here.

This time around, I wanted to gauge whether or not we as a fraternity really understand what and who we are, that is--Do we know that we are a fraternity of men who are a total mix of different religions and whats more, that we are not tied to any one faith?

We had over 300 responses to the initial open-ended question:

So without bias, and for your edification, here are the results.

67.9% said there was no particular background.

13% said that Masonry is a Christian fraternity who accepts others.

19.1% said that Masonry was a Deist order who accepts others. 

The results are what I expected. An overwhelming number of respondents believe what I do, and that is we are indeed, "The Brotherhood of man, under the Fatherhood of God." The other results are somewhat concerning to me. nearly 33% feel that there is some kind of religious category we fit into. 

I'll leave you all with these results and to do with them as you will. Perhaps this is an opportunity for us to make those changes or to whisper some council in an erring brother's ear. Overwhelmingly, this boils down to a tolerance issue. And as far as tolerance is concerned, if you look it up in a dictionary, there should be a picture of the Square and Compasses. 


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.