When the Unenlightened Approach

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RWB Robert H. Johnson



There are many times I am talking about Freemasonry in my day to day life. I'm sure you're no different. We're brothers, and we like to discuss the craft, but what happens when someone comes near and isn't a Freemason?

Let's look at a potential scenario: You're at the office, you're talking to a couple of co-workers who are also brothers of the fraternity. One of the brothers starts talking about some sensitive topics and he can't see the approach of someone who isn't a member (a profane) from behind. You panic, what can you tell them so they silence their speech? Or change it up?

A review of an entry in Mackey's Encyclopedia gives us the answer. "R" for "Rains". Apparently, if this happens, you should simply say, "It rains." and that's all the warning anyone needs.

Rains:

It was a custom among the English Freemasons of the middle of the eighteenth century, when conversing together on Freemasonry, to announce the appearance of a profane by the warning expression It rains. The custom was adopted by the German and French Freemasons, with the equivalent expression, Es regnet and II pluie. Baron Tschoudy, who condemns the usage, says that the latter refined upon it by designating the approach of a female by II neige, the French for It snows. Doctor Oliver says (Revelations of a Square, page 142) that the phrase It rains, to indicate that a Cowan is present and the proceedings must be suspended, is derived from the ancient punishment of an eavesdropper, which was to place him under the eaves of a house in rainy weather, and to retain him there till the droppings of water ran in at the collar of his coat and out at his shoes. [Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Book 2]

So there you have it, next time you're in this position, remember the phrase. 

~RHJ

RWB. Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Waukegan Lodge No. 78 where he is a Past Master. He also serves as the District Deputy for the 1st N.E. District 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. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry and is also an avid home brewer. He is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.

St. John The Evangelist's Day, 1811

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



On December 27, Freemasonry worldwide celebrates St. John the Evangelist Day. On that day in 1811, a Friday, our Brothers at St. Louis Lodge 111 gathered for a feast and, as a part of the proceedings, sang the following song in celebration of the life of St. John. Especially for that occasion, Lieutenant Joseph Cross of the US Artillery wrote the lyrics to the tune of Lochabor No More ( http://bit.ly/2gIh7X8 ), a folk tune claimed by both Scotland and Ireland.

Frederic L. Billon, a former Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Missouri, recorded the words of the song in his extensive Masonic Journal, even though the event took place when he was only ten years old.

Brother Billon's dedication to history allows us the opportunity to celebrate this year's St. John's Day across time, perhaps for the first time since that celebration long ago, with our Brothers from A.L. 5811.

It was simply titled, A Masonic Song:

"O look at Creation! With a Mason's bright eye,

The Grand Architect's temple, resplendent in light,

Its wisdom, its strength, and its beauty outvie

The conception of Mortals — o'erpowers their sight —



The circle, whose radiance all space cannot bind

For its centre is Love — almighty in mind;

Our vision is darkened — then bend low the knee,

And in Faith, Hope & Charity ever agree —



Let the cadence of joy, steal soft in the ear,

While mystical love rises warm in each heart;

The bright jewels of virtue we'll ever revere,

And nine times united, enshrine our grand art:



The Evangelist's birth let our honors proclaim

In fraternity echo St. John's brilliant name,

And remember our Brother who justly defined

The chant of affection — a Free Mason's mind —



Yes, remember our Brother whose birth we now sing,

And remember the axioms he gave to our art;

Tho a Brother in darkness let love still upspring,

Oh! enlighten his soul — and pour oil in his heart —



Tha' a Brother may err still our Father doth love

And his son will induct to the Grand Lodge above;

As Masons we're bound to toil with each other,

"Then never forsake an unfortunate Brother."



As spotless as White is the innocent mind,

As constant as Blue is the soul to the Light,

Whose effulgence ennobles the Free Mason's mind

When the Red beams of love enrapture the sight



Then think of the angle, whose square is so true.

And the compass which guards and encircles us too;

Let not _____ vice our attraction e'er draw

Subjecting our passions to a Mason's wise law —



Think not dearest sister, that pride can conspire,

To exclude your loved sex from the Lodges on earth,

We fear the bright charms — which are love's holy fire

Would mingle our duties — to dissention give birth;



The blush of aurora enkindles the earth

E're the radiant God sheds His light in the west;

Your virtues and charms in our hearts are a feast

And Masons are born that the fair may be blest,



Our sparkling goblets, let Temperance fill

With the juice of the grape to all Masons who are Free.

Their acceptance we drink with fraternal good will.

And in brotherly love may we ever agree —



May their bosoms be bright, their daughters be fair,

Their passions well governed, their hearts free from care

Their corn, wine and oil in plenty abound,


And their happiness last while the globe shall go round—

~SLH
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 amazon.com.

Take A Few Minutes Every Day To Broaden Your Horizons - Revisited

by Midnight Freemason Founder
Todd E. Creason 33˚
Notes by
RW:. Robert Johnson

"There is nothing so stupid as the educated man if you get him off the thing he was educated in."

~Will Rogers
Claremore Lodge No. 53, Oklahoma


Editors Note: When this piece was originally authored back in 2011 by Ill. Bro. Creason, I hadn't gotten into this whole "Internet Masonry" thing. From time to time, I go back in the archive of pieces written and pull one back to the top. Such is the case with this one. In the opening quote Will Rogers hits us with some stark truth. Are we that guy? Are we so educated in just that one thing that we are oblivious to all other things? Bro. Creason brings to light something here which speaks to the general cognitive dissonance many of us feel when presented with ideas and concepts we aren't familiar with. We'd rather just keep on going with what we know, many times, even if it's been proven wrong. Take a minute, read through this and maybe take a challenge. All the best, and a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah to all. ~RJ


People have a tendency to stick with the things that interest them.  It's only natural to study and learn about the things that you find endlessly fascinating, but at the same time, it can be a little limiting.  I try to take a little time each day to explore the world, and it's way easier to do now than it was twenty years ago.  These little daily adventures over the years have lead to me to become interested in a number of subjects (not just Freemasonry and American history).  In fact, my original interest in Freemasonry came from surfing expeditions I did after seeing the movie National Treasure.  Then I started reading, then there was a petition, three degrees, authored three books, Scottish Rite, York Rite . . . But it wasn't too many years ago when I had no interest in the topic of Freemasonry at all because it hadn't managed to hit my radar, and now, I can't imagine a life without it.

Which is why I love books like this.  The Intellectual Devotional provides a very easy way to learn something about an area you otherwise may never be exposed to.  And you can do that every day in just a few minutes--these short readings are a page each.  I found these several years ago, and I think there are about five of them now.  There are 365 short readings, one for each day of the week, a different subject each day, and if you read one each night before going to bed, it's remarkable how much you can pick up.  I think there are five of these collections now.

This isn't the only book of this ilk.  There's also the Bedside Baccallaureate series--I think there are two of those.  The title might be a bit of an over-reach, but it's full of short lessons on a variety of topics too.  But books aren't the only place you can can get a quick daily fix of learning.  Years ago I had a calendar that would offer up one interesting fact about science each day.  There are website that I enjoy like American History Fun Facts.  I love collections of useless information.  I have dozens of quote books (and I put some of my favorites together in my own collection called A Freemason Said That?)  

It's a big world out there--take a little time out from your day to day life and explore it.  You might just be surprised at what you find out there that interests you.  You might just find, like I did, something you don't even know exists yet that could change the course of your life forever.

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and is a regular contributor. He is the award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog. He is the Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754, where is currently serves as Secretary. He is the Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research. (FMLR) and a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Thank You to My Brethren

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott


As this year draws to a close I wanted to take an opportunity for a few personal reflections on several brethren who help make this fraternity a great organization.

First is Todd E. Creason, who founded this blog and has been a friend for more than 25 years. His commitment to Masonic education and a willingness to embark on any project to help further this fraternity is nothing short of remarkable. At times when I have gotten discouraged, I only needed to seek a bit of encouragement from Todd and onward we go. Todd has been there with me on this journey since he was on the investigation committee as I petitioned Ogden Lodge No. 754. I owe him a huge thank you for being a true brother and friend.

Robert Johnson is nothing short of an inspiration to so many, including myself. He took on the editorship of the Midnight Freemasons and has helped transform it into what I believe is one of the great lights for education in all of Freemasonry. His dedication to Masonic education is making an impact on not only the present, but the future of the Craft. Week upon week, I can count on listening to a new educational piece on Whence Came You, where Robert has expanded my knowledge on so many subjects. It is huge honor to call him my brother.

No one works harder in the quarries than Sean P. McBride. I met Sean during my first degree and he has been a true friend and brother ever since. Sean is one of these guys who never says no and he is a hard person to say no to when he asks you to take a part in a degree, help with an event, etc. No one exemplifies servant leadership in this craft today more than Sean.

There are a number of brothers in my local lodges of whom I have the greatest respect, for their ongoing dedication in ensuring success of the lodge. Ogden Lodge/Homer Lodge members Denver R. Phelps and Steve Hooper who do more degree work in this area than just about anyone else I know. Carl D. Lewis and Carl W. Lewis who have worked for decades to ensure the lights in Ogden Lodge stay on. St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 Treasurer Eric Buzzard who is always available to work on the building never misses a meeting and can always be counted for an encouraging word.

Just a few of the others I need to mention include William J. Hussey Jr., whose humor and dead straight honesty is exactly what Masonry needs. Brian L. Pettice, who is not only a tremendous ritualist, but has deep insights into the values we seek to espouse and he lives them daily. Michael J. Dooley travels around to our events further than anyone I know. Mike is extremely loyal and can always be counted on to follow through on his word.

The risk of making a list is leaving someone off and no doubt I have. There are countless other brothers whom I have met that make Freemasonry what it is, a special organization that is unlike anything else in the world.

To all my brethren, I extend my sincere thank you in helping me become a better person.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and prosperous New Year!

~GJK

The Secretary's Problem - Communications

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RWB Robert H. Johnson


It has been said that it's really the "Secretary's Lodge", not the Masters Lodge. It's a funny joke but the reason it's said is because of the sheer amount of work that being a lodge Secretary entails. It's a real deal part time job. It isn't uncommon to spend two or three hours, five nights a week working for the lodge.

Is it necessary to spend this much time? Certainly not. But, if one wishes to do all the things our lodges want us to do and do them in a timely manner, then we tend to spend the time to get it done. Compile this with the programs, emails and forms we put together for our Grand Lodges, I'm sure you get the picture.

In Illinois we use MORI, an electronic membership system. It's great. It cuts down much of the book keeping, but it's only as good as the data that's put into it. It tracks membership, dues payments, arrears, suspensions etc. It can export a fair amount of data which can help us in our search for answers, specifically the answer to the membership question. This assumes however, we know what questions to ask and how to read the data. Fluent Excel knowledge is also helpful, something to keep in mind for a prospective Secretary. I digress, back to the point.

So, you've been primed. What is the Secretary's problem? Aside from all that above, in my case the Secretary's problem is communications. And if you look across the board in the entire state of Illinois, it's the same. In this day and age we have so many ways to reach out; Telephone, e-mail, snail mail and social media (Facebook groups, pages etc).

With all those ways to contact members, you might ask, "So what's the problem?" And the problem is this brothers, out of sixty thousand members in the state of Illinois, we only have a small fraction of e-mail addresses. We have a slightly larger number of phone numbers. You want real numbers? Well, look no more. As the DDGM for the 1st NE district of the state of Illinois, I will share with you the numbers and rest assured they are similar across the state.

Number of Masons in the district - 1077
Number of missing phone numbers - 342
Number of missing e-mail addresses - 577

Unique number of members who have no email AND no phone number? A staggering 285 members!

So, you can see with these numbers, that there is a huge problem. There are 285 guys we cannot contact unless we send a physical letter, and that's just here in the 1st NE district. Most lodges only send out a piece of snail mail when required to do so e.g. Dues notices, dues cards and bylaw changes. Many times a year we as secretaries receive returned mail as well. So we have a problem with invalid addresses. I am not interested in placing blame, rather I am dedicated to fixing this issue. Luckily we have a district team looking to do everything possible to update our modes of contact for each and every member.

While this may be the Secretary's problem, largely, its the lodges problem. These two items are intimately connected with membership retention and maintaining the health of the lodge. Do what you can to make sure your home lodge has you current contact info. If you're a Secretary, keep on TCB'n.

~RHJ

A "New" Working Tool

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

One aspect of our ancient Craft that fits right into this so-called Age of Diversity is the fact that our various rituals are nothing if not diverse. All I have to do to find a ritual that looks strange to me is to drive just a few miles west into Kansas (no offense, Kansas).

Rather than gripe about the potential for this to add to any "confusion among the Craft" I think it's better to look at it from the point of view that, like most diversity, it makes things more interesting.

That said, there is a certain ritualistic continuity here in the US through which we all "recognize" the degree work in spite of the fact that a Steward may hold his rod differently in one jurisdiction than he does in another. Years back, however, I saw a group of Brothers from the United Kingdom perform a Third Degree. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around some of that.

I found something fascinating in the Emulation Rite practiced in the UK and elsewhere: a "new" working tool. In the words of Otha Wingo, a Past Master and Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research, "The Emulation Rite surprises us with three Working Tools for this degree: the Skirret, the Pencil, and the Compasses."

The Pencil and Compasses: I get that. The Skirret: never heard of it.

I just had to know what that was. Go ahead… Google it and depending on which one of the accepted spellings you use, you'll wind up with a biography of actor Tom Skerritt… or a vegetable of the same name. Believe me, it's hard to find. The Internet may not be your best source for obscure and archaic working tools.

Still, a little perseverance paid off.

A Skirret is a wooden tool shaped like the letter "T" — about halfway down the vertical stake is another piece of wood parallel to the one at the top. The two wooden cross-pieces are connected by a dowel at each end. A long piece of string is wound around the dowels.

(And if the paragraph above doesn't prove "a picture is worth a thousand words," nothing will).


When in use, the craftsman unwinds the long piece of string from its spindle and uses it to lay out the design of the structure being built. It acts on a center pin from which a line is drawn out to mark the ground in the fashion of a chalk line:

"The Skirret is an implement which acts on a centre pin, whence a line is drawn to mark out ground for the foundation of the intended structure."

In certain instances, with the spindle as the center, it is also handy for drawing a large circle.

The Skeritt's symbolism is fairly straightforward: it represents the straight, true and undeviating conduct we must use to lay out the course of our lives in our pursuit of more light:

"...the Skirret points out that straight and undeviating line of conduct laid down for our pursuit in the Volume of Sacred Law."

So there you have it: the Skirret — a working tool so ancient it's not only not in use today, but it's also almost forgotten; yet brand new to many of us in the United States.

And, I might add, now among my favorites.

~SLH

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 amazon.com.

Gonzo Freemasonry

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Adam Thayer


“We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.” With this line, Hunter S. Thompson began his 200+ page masterpiece of drugs, sports, and gonzo journalism. While he was being paid to write an expose on a murdered journalist, he instead locked himself in a hotel room, did a massive amount of drugs, and wrote the novel he is best known for.

Thompson specialized in a style of journalism he coined as Gonzo journalism; the story told is as much about telling the story as it is about the story itself. In other words, while the author may have been writing about a murdered journalist, the writing itself was about the author’s experience, and is an accurate (if biased) recreation of the events as they were seen by the author. It is often disjointed, confusing, and rarely objective, but when done well, it can make you feel what the author felt, and that is truly a rare feeling.

Lately, I’ve noticed a trend towards Gonzo journalism within the most popular Freemasonic writings. Now, I must admit that I myself am guilty of this (yea, I am more guilty than the rest), so please don’t think I’m pointing fingers at anyone besides myself.

There are, I am certain, as many reasons for this trend as there are authors following it, but I believe more than anything it is a reaction to the times we live in. We are used to sharing our personal stories with strangers, as the briefest of searches on Facebook will attest, and Freemasonry is nothing if not personal.

Once, our great Masonic authors examined the meanings hidden in our symbolism in deep, often dry writings that brethren would study for hours upon end. While they were truly great works, they were inaccessible to the average brother, and served to divide that unity which we strive so hard to inculcate. For anyone who has not experienced this firsthand, I challenge you to read any writing by Albert Pike; once you hit the third page of a single sentence, you will understand what I’m telling you.

Today, most of our greatest Masonic authors write shorter pieces; bite sized chunks that you can pick up, read on your cell phone in the bathroom (c’mon, I know at least ONE of you is doing that right now), and then get back to what you were doing. If it is done well, it will keep you thinking long after, and lead you to discover the secrets for yourself. After all, if you find it for yourself, you’ll treasure it much more than if it’s handed to you.
Freemasonry, at its core, is about the experience. Ask yourself: how much of your degrees would you still remember if you had been sat down at the dining room table and had them explained to you? While I can’t remember the specifics from my lectures, I can still tell you who sat where in each of my degrees, and what I’ve learned since then has been in large part due to those men.

It is dangerous, I believe, to look too far into the future, as one is almost guaranteed to be hilariously incorrect, however if I were to hazard a guess to the future trend of Masonic writing, I believe that the near future will see us continue to write more about our experiences while we invent new ways to sneak “actual” education into our writing. If I have learned anything from studying our history, however, it’s that we are a cyclical society, and while today the pendulum swings towards experience, tomorrow it will swing back towards cold facts. A new generation of writers, who grew up Masonically on today’s authors, will rebel against us by “inventing” the “new” form of Masonic research that involves a dry examination of our symbols, and history will again repeat itself.

This same fight plays out in lodges across the world today; the fight between the “old” members of the lodge and the “new” members. Of course, it’s a friendly fight, usually handled in the most polite way possible, but it still comes down to one side seeking change, and one side seeking stability. Knowing that we will, at least once in our lives, change from one side of the argument to the other, we should be mindful of the arguments that our brethren present us.

If I could leave you with one thought to apply to Freemasonry, it would be this quote from one of my favorite of Dr. Thompson’s writings (and one of the few non-Masonic pieces I’ve taken the time to memorize): “And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.…

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

~AT

WB. Bro. Adam Thayer is the Senior Warden of Lancaster Lodge No. 54 in Lincoln (NE) and a past master of Oliver Lodge No. 38 in Seward (NE). He’s an active member in the Knights of Saint Andrew, and on occasion remembers to visit the Scottish and York Rites as well. He continues to be reappointed to the Grand Lodge of Nebraska Education Committee, and serves with fervency and zeal. He is a sub-host on The Whence Came You podcast, and may be reached at adam@wcypodcast.com. He will not help you get your whites whiter or your brights brighter, but he does enjoy conversing with brothers from around the world!

A Wild Tale

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Jared Hargrave, 32° K.C.C.H.

Editors Note : On Sunday, November 13, the Evangelistic Center Church in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, caught fire and nearly burned to the ground. The building, a total loss, was the original Kansas City Scottish Rite Temple. Jared Hargrave, 32° KCCH, editor of the Kansas City Valley's "Rite Start," gives this first-hand update on the disaster and the silver lining in its cloud.

This last week has been the most eventful and wonderful ones I have ever had in Freemasonry! Right now is a very exciting time for our wonderful institution. Specifically, our Valley and our Illustrious Personal Rep have been in the forefront of news in Kansas City. 


As I related, last week, our predecessors built a magnificent temple, located at what is now Truman road and Troost, right on the outskirts of downtown Kansas City. The members who walked through these doors are staggering. Everyone from the founders of Kansas City to the political and businees leaders and the every day working men of the city.

On November 13, our first home was destroyed in a massive fire. News crews from across the country showed up to capture the horrific fire that left one of the oldest churches in Kansas City homeless. The cornerstone of this church was laid in 1903. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to stop and see the church, our original home. I have been in the church a few times over the years, knowing it was our fraternity that built it. The salvage crews were so kind to stop and talk during their break time. They were fine gentlemen, one of whom will receiving the degrees that we offer. They shared, with me, teir personal connections with the tragedy they were cleaning up. It was a very sad experience to see that rubble, knowing some of the colorful history of the building.

Demolition and salvage of the church.
However, like the pheonix that rises from the ashes of disaster, salvage workers uncovered a hidden treasure. New life has been breathed in to our loving home! Illustrious brother Ben Kenney, Personal Representative, was contacted concerning an item they found. The cornerstone, laid in 1903, withstood the intense heat. Inside the cornerstone was a time capsule. What is contained in it? We have no idea.


Cornerstone, as it sits at the temple.
Brother Ben, once again, presented the public with a warm and welcoming message. Not only are we immensly excited, the public is being included in the events! Both local and national news media are showing the face of Freemasonry, the Scottish Rite, and Kansas City. 

As we, as Freemasons, know, our Fraternity is deeply rooted in some cities. Kansas City is no exception. Between people like Ethelbert Allen, Colenel Abernathy, Harry Allen, William Thayer, and countless other freemasons, Kansas City would not be the wonderful town it is today.

All of these men, in addition to our 33rd president ( Harry S. Truman ) and Kansas City famed banking family, the Kempers, have passed through the doors of this magnificent building. Their spirits will be present with us on January 25, when the time capsule will be opened for our brethern. What will this time capsule tell us about the men, mentioned above? What can they tell us about their lessons? What happened during the 1903 flood? The only thing we can see in the capsule is a book, no doubt bound and printed in Kansas City, is a book about the 1903 flood.


Time capsule as it sits in our vault.

Illustrious Brother Ben Kenney related to me, today, that we will be hosting a public opening ceremony. On January 25, 2017, this time capsule will be revealed. Please mark your calendars. Our regular business meeting for January will be a public event. Invitations have been extended to both Masonic and public leadership, news media, and governmental officials. The opening ceremony will be planned for 6:00 PM, prior to our dinner meeting.

Further details, as well as a personal recollection of events from Illustrious Brother Ben, will be presented in next week's Rite Start. Please watch closely for the announcements.


Please, also, see these links for the interviews and media coverage on this tragedy and amazing discovery.

Illustrious Brother Ben's Interviews:

Jared Hargrave, 32° K.C.C.H. is Editor Kansas City "Rite Start" - Valley of Kansas City

As The Sun is in the South

By Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM


As the sun is in the south is at meridian height it is the glory and beauty of the day.” I know most of you have heard a phrase like this while you have attended lodge (your actual ritual may very). The sun is at its highest point in the sky and the rays of light cast down on us, illuminating the great works of the Supreme Architect of the Universe. During this point of the day most of us follow the lead of the Junior Warden and take time to rest and refresh ourselves before returning to our labors.

Since the majority of us labor at our vocations during the daylight, we never stop and consider that some men work at various times around the clock. Much like the twenty four inch gauge, the workday is divided into three equal parts: day shift, or as most us us refer to it as first shift, the evening shift or second shift, and the night shift, which is commonly known as third shift (Or by its nickname “the graveyard shift”). Some jobs are scheduled differently than above but, as a hard and fast rule, most workers generally fall into one of these eight hour shifts.

At the time when you are about to cease your labors and go home, many men are rising and on their way to their jobs in the evening, and still others are about to go home when you arrive in the morning at your workplace. Today's world requires people to be working at various hours around the clock.

Rarely are these men thought of when we think about Freemasonry. I know that many men, at one point myself included, have had to reluctantly quit attending their lodges regularly stated meetings and degree work because their regular vocation forced them to work in the evenings. It's sad because they have to miss the fellowship which being a Mason brings. They have to abandon their Masonic career to pursue their vocational career.

Many times I have seen a young men who wish to join our fraternity be rushed through degrees in a one day class or on a Saturday morning. Once he is raised, you don't see him again, not because he is disgruntled with the Fraternity but because he works a different shift. He becomes just a card carrying member through no fault of his own, just because he has to provide for his family. In a way, it could be said that everyone benefits in this situation. The lodge gets his yearly dues and the Brother gets to claim the title of Freemason.

This arrangement has worked for decades. While we are told our families and our usual vocations aren’t to take a backseat to our gentle craft, a Brother who doesn't have the opportunity to attend lodge regularly does miss out on the fellowship of his Brother Masons and, at times, good and wholesome instruction which could possibly make him into the better man he professed he wished to become.

We as a Fraternity are also missing many opportunities not only to increase our membership, but to better use the resources we already possess. I believe we as a Fraternity should encourage the creation of more daylight lodges within our jurisdictions!

Daylight lodges are simply lodges that meet during the daytime instead of the evening. Everything else is exactly the same except the time of day!

Almost every Masonic temple in North America (or around the world for that matter) sits idle for twenty hours a day, six days a week, unless there are multiple bodies meeting within the building during the month, but even then the edifice is empty and idle for the majority of the time. The building is still being heated and cooled, but no one is using the building. To me that seems like a waste of resources. Especially when we have so many current and potential Brethren who could be using the building.

If a daylight lodge is chartered within the temple not only will it put this space to better use, but there is potential that Masonry in your area may receive new members it wouldn't receive in only lodges that meet at traditional time, such as younger men with different work schedules, men with young children who wish to stay home with their family at night or even retirees who can no longer attend lodge at night because their eyesight has gotten to the point they can no longer drive at night. Many of these retirees could also benefit these new lodges; most of these men are long time members, even possibly Past Masters would can help direct the newer members in building their lodge. It also gives retirees a reason to get out of the house and socialize.

A lodge could be opened at ten or eleven and once business or degree work has ceased and lodge closes they could serve a lunch at noon, just in time for members on second shift to make their way to their jobs!

Another benefit could be Brethren of other lodges who work during the day could take their lunch breaks at the temple and “spread cement”before going back to work! Nothing could be better for Freemasonry than for Brethren gathering together for a few moments between their individual labors.

I have heard concerns from some Brothers that a lodge which is open only during the day may only become a place where men gather for networking and socializing instead of for the lodges intended purpose. I believe it could happen; I have known lodges that meet in the evening that become the same thing.

Each individual lodge is like an individual person. They have their own personality and are conducted by the will of its members. I believe if the numbers allow it that several daylight lodges could be chartered and a potential member should visit several lodges before he asks for a petition much like a conventional nighttime lodge to find find the right fit for him. If several exists he has a better chance in which suits his needs.

If one or more chartered daylight lodges are successful in your community other appendant and concordant bodies may also form new bodies like a daytime York Rite body, Shrine club or even a Scottish Rite club. How wonderful would it be to have many healthy, active Masonic bodies meeting in your building. Not only will it make Masonry stronger but think of the extra revenue more dues will bring in!

Brethren, Freemasonry can be just as active while the sun is in the south just as much as it is as when it's in the west at the close of the day. Let us think outside the box and put our members, potential members and resources to better uses. 

~BH

WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.




Remembering Pearl Harbor

By Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott
Attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941
December 7, 2016 is the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii by the Empire of Japan. This day marked the entry of the United States into World War II and changed the course of history of the world.

Over four years, 1941-1945, 16 million Americans served in the US armed forces, with 416,800 paying the ultimate price. Defeating the Axis powers in Europe, total victory was achieved as the war ended with surrender of Japan aboard the USS Missouri where the Japanese government signed a treaty to end the war.

These service men and women came home and resumed their lives, raised a families and became active in their communities, including many who joined the Masonic fraternity in record numbers.

Today, the veterans who served in this war are quickly passing away and a few of them will gather one more time at Pearl Harbor to remember their fallen comrades. The years may go by, but the pain suffered by many is still very real.

Pearl Harbor Survivor Remembers Fallen Colleagues
It’s impossible to fully thank these Veterans for their service and sacrifice, but the herculean task they performed to save the world will never be forgotten. 

Tom Brokaw in his book The Greatest Generation ended when he said, “After talking to so many of them and reflecting on what they have meant in my own life, I now know that it is in those small ceremonies and quiet moments that this generation is appropriately honored. No fanfare is required. They’ve had their parades. They’ve heard the speeches. They know what they have accomplished, and they are proud. They will have their World War II memorial and their place in the ledgers of history, but no block of marble or elaborate edifice can equal their lives of sacrifice and achievement, duty and honor, as monuments to their time.

As you go about your day, take a few minutes to think of their sacrifice and the freedom they have ensured for all of us.

Thank you.
~GJK


WB Gregory J. Knott is the Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC.   He serves as Sovereign Master of Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 of the Allied Masonic Degrees and is a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D.  Greg serves on the Board of Directors of The Masonic Society and is very involved with the Boy Scouts of America and is himself an Eagle Scout.  He is Assistant Dean of the University of Illinois Library.  You can contact him at gknott63@gmail.com.  

The True Strength Of Freemasonry

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason

I've said it many times before.  I was telling somebody the other night that I think one of the great strengths of Freemasonry is that a.) it gives us the opportunity to use skills we wouldn't normally have the opportunity to use, b.) develop skills we wouldn't normally use, and c.) use skills we already possess to greater effect, and d.) have the opportunity to improve ourselves as we work together towards making the world a better place.

I went into Freemasonry with well honed skills in leadership, management and organization which I use in a variety of ways.   From Masonry I've gained skills in writing, researching, speaking, networking, and fundraising--as well as some refinements in how I conduct myself and present myself (got a lot more work to do there).  And I've been given the opportunity to build on and use some of the skills I have in art in music.

But I never really appreciated the self-improvement aspect of the Fraternity until recently.  I'm aware that I've changed over the years, and gained a lot of wisdom from my mentors and teachers along with a good deal of knowledge from my studies.  I've always worked to pass that along to new members, and I think I've done a pretty good job as a mentor and teacher.  But recently I saw an example that really showed me the potential of what Freemasonry is capable of accomplishing in a man's life when properly applied.

I've been mentoring a young man for about a year now.  He contacted me through the Midnight Freemasons with some questions about the Fraternity, thought it sounded like something he could benefit from, and he's now a  new Master Mason.  He's very enthusiastic about Freemasonry, and it occurred to me in talking with him why.  This is the first time in his life that he's been able to see what he has to offer, see the potential of what he can become, and see what the contributions of just one person can do to make one thing better in the world--and then compound that by joining forces with a group of like-minded men all with that same desire.

The Fraternity has opened his eyes, and there's a good chance he'll never be the same again.  His life was off track when he joined--our original conversations were about whether a Lodge would even want him.  Of course they did, and he joined.  Freemasonry helped put him back on the right track.  He's contributing to the work of his Lodge, he's helping out in his community, he's got a new job he loves, replaced a few bad habits with a few good ones, and is in a new relationship that's much better than the one that got him off track.  He's even begun attending church, which he hadn't done since he was a boy.  He's transformed his life, and it's truly been a marvel to see. 

I might get boos for this, but it isn't all about doing Freemasonry--attending events, degrees, meetings, etc.  It's about living Freemasonry, and when given the opportunity teaching Freemasonry.  Those of us who do, who take those ancient teachings and apply them to our life and help others do the same thing find the greatest strength of Freemasonry--the path to a well-balanced, peaceful and happy life.

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33°, FMLR is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and is a regular contributor.  He is the award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog.  He is the Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754, where is currently serves as Secretary.  He is the Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research. (FMLR) and a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D.  You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

The Longview

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott


There is a small town in southern Champaign County, Illinois named Longview. Longview has less than 200 residents and is a traditional Midwestern farm town. Most of the business have closed and now all that is left is a United States Post Office and some service business.

What intrigues me most about Longview is the name of the town itself. The name originates from the long view of the open Illinois prairie landscape.

But I often think about Longview as more than just this small Midwestern town. It is also a way to consider the work that is and needs to be done in Freemasonry. We often get stuck in the rut of discussions on topics such as declining membership, the costs of dues and building issues. These are important areas of concern, but are often the cause for taking our eyes off the ball of the more fundamental and needed changes for the future continued success of Freemasonry. I always advocate taking the Longview.

What does taking the Longview mean? Here are some of my thoughts:
  • Freemasonry is built one brother at a time. 
  • Understand that whatever challenges we are having today, they are not insurmountable. 
  • Have crucial conversations with other brothers within the lodge about what you would like to be as an organization in the future. 
  • Develop a written plan on how you can get there. 
  • Celebrate success. If you raise a new Master Mason it is a cause for celebration for him personally and the lodge as a whole! 
  • Become visible as an organization within the community. 
  • Offer a reason for members to come to your events. 
  • Education is a core element of a successful lodge. 
  • We are a fraternity to help grow the individual man. While charity is important, it is not the primary mission of Freemasonry. 
  • Have some fun! 

There are of course many other ideas, but the key element I want to emphasize is the Longview. Change may not come instantly. Having the patience, persistence and perseverance will pay huge dividends for a success future.

Enjoy the Longview!



~GJK

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. You can contact him at gknott63@gmail.com

Defenders Of Freedom

by Midnight Freemason Emeritus
Bro. Brian J. Schimian

Monday November 21, 2016 was just another day. Nothing spectacular or special.  A few days earlier on Friday, I received a text from Bro. Johnson asking if I was able to be at the Stated Communication for Waukegan #78. Of course I would do my best to attend.  Lodge isn't close to home, but I missed my adoptive Lodge Brethren. When asked why, the only response was that he "had something for me". Well, that was good enough for me, I made sure to put the meeting on my calendar and planned to attend, it gave me a reason to get out of the house and it gave my fiancĂ© a night to have quality time wth her son.

I got ready, grabbed my apron case and headed out for my journey. I was certainly excited to see my Brethren, they had just had an installation and seeing the Brothers in their new chairs was gong to be fun. I made my way around the hall shaking hands and saying hello to everyone. I also got a chance to do my thing... I grabbed the WM's hat and snapped a selfie in front of the dais. What can I say, old habits die hard. When I was in DeMolay, all the Chapters had this thing where we would abscond wth something from another Chapter. Usually a mascot or something with their name on it. I will admit, every once in a while when traveling, I come across a Lodge that houses a DeMolay Chapter and I still think about it.

I know to most on the outside of Masonry it is silly and to many inside, it is just another pin and piece of paper to collect and joke about... but I am blessed to live in a rather forward thinking GL jurisdiction that would go out of their way to recognize public service personnel. I am even more blessed by the Brothers I have sat in Lodge with across this Country. I am blessed that Bro RJ is a part of my life and thought to include me for this recognition.  I was completely caught off guard and humbly surprised when I was called to the East to receive the “Defenders of Freedom” certificate and pin from the WM Duran & RWB Johnson.



One Brother made the statement "...hold in high regard, the pins & certificates that we achieve because of the passion the man has put forth to get them...". I never thought of it that way. Throughout my entire career, I made it well known that if I got wind of any special recognition, awards or certificates coming my way, I wouldn't be there to accept it. That's not why I did the things I did. I did them because it was my job, and I knew it was a job that most couldn't do. I was blessed with the ability to do certain things and do them very well. I don't regret my decision to be that way, it made my command chain understand that I was truly doing my job because I believed in the mission and making life better for those around me. That mindset made me very effective for many years.

This is certainly the most important certificate & lapel pin I could ever receive. It calls me back to my career, it reminds me that I have Brethren that care and think about me and most of all, it reminds me of all that Freemasonry has given to me.  A debt that I certainly could never repay in a thousand lifetimes. To all the Brethren in IL that are receiving this recognition, I thank you for your serine and sacrifice. Being including amongst your ranks is truly humbling to say the least.

It really is the little things in life that make it all worth it.

“Start Level, Finish Square.”

~BJS


True Or False? The Legend Of Harry Truman's Silver 33rd Degree Ring


by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason

There has always been a rule that 33rd degree rings are to be made ONLY of gold.  It caused quite a stir when Frank S. Land, the founder of Demolay, had a ring crafted of silver.  And he wore it! There's no question about it--that's absolutely true.


But years later, a rumor started that Harry S. Truman, after he received his 33rd degree, was seen also wearing a silver 33rd ring.  As a Past Grand Master of Missouri, and a former President of the United States, the idea he would have worn a 33rd degree ring made of anything other than gold caused quite a controversy amongst Scottish Rite Masons.  Some said it simply wasn't true--that Truman never owned or wore anything other than a gold ring.  Others claimed the ring he was seen wearing was actually Frank Land's ring--they were friends.  But Harry's silver ring never turned up, so as time went on most people believed it was probably just a rumor--a myth.  

When I received my 33rd degree in 2011, I asked one of the active members of the Supreme Council about the rumor that Harry S. Truman wore a silver 33rd ring.  I was told very curtly that it never existed.  I was also reminded that in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, 33rd Degree Masons were to ONLY wear the ring they were given.  I wasn't to even think about buying one of those flashy 33rd rings with the lacquer and diamonds.  There were rules about such things after all.  And there was absolutely no evidence what-so-ever that Truman ever owned, wore, or had a ring like that made.  

Case closed.  It's false, right?

Well guess what turned up last December?  That's right.  A silver 33rd degree ring.  Harry S. Truman's silver 33rd degree ring no less!  And we even know now where it came from.  In hindsight, it makes perfect sense.  It was inscribed inside to  Harry S. Truman . . . a gift from Frank S. Land.

The Missouri Lodge of Research's 2016 Truman Lecture will mark the first time that both of those silver rings will be exhibited together.

But what's really odd is just about the time that ring surfaced, something else vanished!  That article I wrote some years ago claiming that ring was most likely a myth because there was no evidence it ever existed.  Odd, huh?

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33°, FMLR is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and is a regular contributor.  He is the award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog.  He is the Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754, where is currently serves as Secretary.  He is the Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research. (FMLR) and a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D.  You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org 

Black Friday - A Chance to Exercise the Art

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RW Robert H. Johnson


Amidst the debates on whether or not stores and businesses should close for the Thanksgiving holiday, there are those underlying thoughts about the day after Thanksgiving -- Black Friday. Black Friday is a day for retailers nation wide, to throw open their doors and deliver savings so big, so amazing, so insane, that the public will be motivated to get up and go to those retailers at 12:01 am.

The days following Black Friday seemed to echo the sombre and sickening pathos normally attributed to that shroud, that color we typify with the color Black. We watch news clips on television, YouTube and cell phone videos of human beings, reverting to ferocious animal states as they battle one another over monetary savings.

Kids trampled to death, men and women alike suffocating in the thick of herds of what can now only be some distant cousin, some untamed, ungoverned, rapacious beast. But alas, it is us. It is human, although unrecognizable.

This year, stores did close and then decided to stave of some of the anarchy by opening later in the evening on Thanksgiving. I decided that for the first time since the last and only other time I had gone Black Friday Shopping, to go out to see what I could see.


What I saw did not disappoint. I don't mean that in any way to suggest I was looking for disorder, rather, I was hoping to see people being people. People caring and being courteous. Amid the sea of winter coats and red Starbucks cups, were the voices of happy people, saying "Excuse me", and complementing each other and of course, complaining about the long lines.

The moral fabric of humanity is a weave of altruistic principals, something we practice as Freemasons. It is something we are charged to do. To be courteous, kind, friendly, humble, to be the example. In the coming weeks we will be tried, Brethren. We will be taken to the edge and back again. Our patience, our affability will be put in the spot light. Use the stresses of the season to exercise our art of Friendship, Morality and Brotherly Love.

I know it can be hard, but the stakes are as high as they've ever been, and the world is watching. Be Freemasons.

~RHJ

Bro. Robert Johnson, PM is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Waukegan Lodge No. 78 where he is a Past Master. He also serves as the District Deputy for the 1st N.E. District 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. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry and is also an avid home brewer. He is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.

Supporting Widows and Orphans

By Midnight Freemasons Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott


The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Illinois recently announced they were closing the Illinois Masonic Children’s Homes in 2017.

In the email release sent to all 469 Illinois lodges, the Grand lodge indicated that the Board of Directors of the Illinois Masonic Children’s Home voted to close the homes and transition away from residential care. Citing liability concerns and significant increases in the cost of liability insurance, exposure to lawsuits, and the costs of spending $2.4 million per year on the 40 residents of the home, were given as primary reasons the decision had been made.

On social media there were a number of brethren who both agreed with the decision and others who expressed concern over the closure.

Masonic Children’s Homes, like Masonic Nursing Homes have largely closed across the country. Most of the institutions were started more than 100 years ago before the social safety net that exists as we know it today was created.

So how in the 21st century can the masonic fraternity still support worthy distressed Master Masons, their widows and orphans? How do we define charity in 2016? Do we still as a fraternity have an obligation to the distressed Masters Masons, their widows and orphans?

The answer to these questions can be complicated. Burdensome government regulations, a litigious society and drastic changes in health care have all contributed to the changing models of charitable care.

In Illinois after the sale of the Masonic nursing home, the Grand Lodge established the Illinois Masonic Outreach Services (IMOS). This program provides assistance to Master Masons in a number of ways such as helping with home care, buying hearing aids or providing short term financial assistance. This program reaches far more members than running the nursing home facility did.

While the forms of charity may change over time, Freemasonry continues to meets our obligations by helping others.

~GJK

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. You can contact him at gknott63@gmail.com

Donald J. Trump: Freemason Or Not?

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason 


"You have to think anyway, so why not think big?"

~Donald Trump
45th President of the United States

Never in American history has the result of a Presidential election come to such a shocking conclusion than did the election of 2016, when Donald Trump, to the stunned surprise of millions, defeated Hillary Clinton.  Perhaps the reason it was so surprising, was that Hillary Clinton had been favored to win the election from the beginning, and all the polling had supported the foregone conclusion that Clinton would easily win.  Everybody was wrong.  The unorthodox Trump campaign delivered a populist message that resonated with an electorate that was sick of "business as usual" politics by electing a complete outsider to the nation's highest office.

The outspoken real estate billionaire has been in the public eye for more than thirty years, most recently for owning the Miss America Pageant, and for his popular television show The Apprentice.  After announcing his candidacy for President, Donald Trump went on to defeat 17 Republican challengers, including some of the party's best and brightest, to win the Republican nomination.

There will most likely never be a campaign as ugly as the Presidential Campaign of 2016--lets hope not.  It was a free-for-all of both Republicans and Democrats against Donald Trump, and yet in the end, Trump prevailed.  They will be studying this election for years to come, but in the end, Donald Trump did a better job connecting with those who mattered--the American people.

There have been a number of reports that Donald Trump is a Freemason, and suggestions have been made since the election that the Freemasons were behind the shocking election results.  In fact, a number of nude statues of Donald Trump by Las Vegas based sculpture, Ginger (aka Joshua Monroe) appeared in a few major cities during the primary campaign.  One of the most interesting things about those distasteful statues was the fact that Donald Trump was clearly wearing a Masonic ring.

However the truth of the matter is, Donald Trump is not a Freemason.

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33°, FMLR is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and is a regular contributor.  He is the award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog.  He is the Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754, where is currently serves as Secretary.  He is the Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research. (FMLR) and a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D.  You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

The New Ghostbusters

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Chris Streeper


I know what you’re thinking… I’m reading a blog about Freemasonry, what does the new Ghostbusters movie have to do with that? Much like anything esoteric, to the uninitiated it means absolutely nothing; however an enlightened mind or a trained observer can find within the film series some striking parallels. And although the new Ghostbusters movie has gender swapped the roles of the main characters, I can promise you that there will be no mention of allowing females to become Freemasons. With this assurance, you can safely proceed.

First I must admit, I’m a Ghostbusters purist. Although I was a young child when I first saw the original Ghostbusters movie I was enamored with it. I loved everything about it; the epic mythology Egon and Ray would share from Tobin’s Spirt Guide, the fellowship the team had while sharing mediocre Chinese takeout within the hallowed halls, the symbolism of a temple hidden within a refrigerator, and of course high tech gadgets, Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. My point is, I really liked my Ghostbusters the way it was back in 1984.

Five years later Ghostbusters II was released. The nuts and bolts of the movie weren’t vastly different from the first film and it did pretty well at the box office. What viewers found at the beginning of the movie however was that five years into Ghostbusting the team had fallen on hard times. They really weren’t into Ghostbusting as much as they had been when they first formed the team and took up residence in an old firehouse. Ray and Winston were performing at children’s birthday parties. Peter, the illustrious leader of the group, appeared to have split away from the group completely and was hosting his own cable TV show. Egon was the only Ghostbuster still actually dabbling in the science of the paranormal. To defeat the villain, the team had to reassemble and examine not only themselves, but the inner workings and infrastructure of New York City. I’m not going to lie, watching the Statue of Liberty cross the Hudson to “Higher and Higher” was awesome! Sure, it was pretty good flick but it wasn’t the original Ghostbusters.

Today we find ourselves with 32 years having passed since the 1984 release of the original film and there is a new team of Ghostbusters which hit the theatre, and came out on video last month. Although there is a new director at the helm and team is now entirely female, the cast of characters is still the same; Erin (Peter) is a kooky scientist who hides her true passion because she wants to recognized as cooler than she appears, Abbie (Ray) is all in and not concerned with anything else but Ghostbusting and studies everything she can get her hands on about the subject, Jillian (Egon) is the foundational support of the group without whom nothing could be accomplished, and then there’s Patty (Winston) the new initiate who doesn’t really fit in and wouldn’t understand the symbolism behind a Twinkie. The ladies don’t operate out of a firehouse, the live atop a Chinese restaurant. They don’t drive a 1959 Cadillac ambulance, it’s now a beat up old station wagon… but it’s still a Cadillac. Although things seem to have downgraded a bit, the new team of Ghostbusters has a host of new tools at their disposal; an ectoplasmic power-glove, a paranormal wood chipper, and the internet… Seriously, what would the 2016 Ghostbusters be without YouTube?

Some of you may be thinking that I just wrote the worst movie reviews in history; some of you might be seeing the bigger picture. If it hasn’t become clear yet, let me break it down frame by frame… I didn’t want to see the new Ghostbusters movie at all… In fact, I was adamantly opposed to going to the theatre only to sink my money into what I knew would turn out to be nothing more than an abomination of a film I loved 32 years ago. My kids however caught a glimpse of the preview and were dying to see it, so I did what any dad would do… I took my kids to the movies. It was there with a giant bowl of popcorn in my lap, sitting next to my sons who are just about as old as I was when I saw Ghostbusters for the first time, that I had a startling revelation… This movie was pretty good. Sure, there were some parts I didn’t like, such as the updated Ghostbusters (I’m Not Afraid) theme song performed by Fall Out Boy and Missy Elliott, but those things were few and far between. Overall I found the movie to be an exciting, humorous and faithful rendition to the original film. As a matter of fact, after watching it I’d probably be willing to go see the sequel. Who would have thought?

We are members of a legendary fraternity which has a notable cast of characters, however the modern Craft seems to be mere a shadow of its former self. The Masonic Services Association (MSA) has conducted research, as have a host of other organizations and individuals, which show the Craft to have been in a steady decline over the past thirty plus years. Oddly enough, there has been a recent uptick in the amount of men interested about the Fraternity. Sadly, while the research points to a surge in interest it also shows a decline in membership. This decline often occurs not from the death of senior members but from the newly initiated dropping out and seeking fulfillment elsewhere; often within the first five years of joining. I won’t go into the list of reasons cited by men who leave the Craft, but trust me when I say it most often has to do with stagnation and complacency within our fraternity.

Innovation is a good thing, except it seems when you are a Freemason, which is silly because we are an organization which portrays itself as a progressive science. Needless to say, innovation is quite often debated within lodge rooms ending with members to scared to try out a new idea because it “wasn’t the way we did it my year.” What those same members don’t realize is that while the fraternity has been in decline it was not them, but the advent of the internet which helped anyone interested about our fraternity to find out more; especially via the blogosphere on sites like Christopher Hodapp’s Freemasonry for Dummies and on YouTube where public discussions about the Craft are held regularly by groups such as the Masonic Round Table and the Prince Hall Think Tank. The internet has almost become the new door to our fraternity.

Like it or not, Ghostbusters (2016) will always be compared to Ghostbusters (1984) and that’s a mighty big shadow to get from under – no matter how talented the cast, the writers, or the director involved with it. One thing I found interesting about the new edition was that ALL of the original stars got behind the film. They helped promote it, they helped produce it, and they even had cameo appearances in the film. They didn’t grumble about how the new Ghostbusters wasn’t done the way they did it in 1984, they worked with the new team to produce a pretty amazing product. Sure, every single update to the franchise doesn’t land successfully, but they do pay homage to the original film and the various elements contained within each are 100% Ghostbuster.

The point I’m making is this… much like the traditions of Freemasonry, the original Ghostbusters will always be something special to me. It was great just the way it was, but my memory has attributed it with this legendary status which causes me to remember it better than it actually was. I believe the same can be said of the fraternity, and although the fundamental tenants of Freemasonry have remained the same, each time we alter even a minor aspect of the Craft it becomes steeped in controversy. I believe that the same is true with the new Ghostbusters. Yes, the original was and still is something very special; the good news is that there’s a whole new generation that’s about to feel the same way about this version.

With all that being said, the new Ghostbusters was pretty good. No, it wasn’t the original, but it still felt familiar. I still enjoyed it… a lot actually, I even felt like I got what I paid for. I did however walk out of the theatre with this understanding; the modern version of the film would not have been nearly as successful without the involvement and support of the original cast members. It was not only their guidance, but the faith they put in their successors, which made the film as good as it is. It is honoring the past while embracing the future which makes the new Ghostbusters movie great, and that same concept can help Freemasonry the same way.

You can take this for what it’s worth, but I leave each generation of Masons with the following taglines; To the Past Masters and older generation of members, “We’re ready to believe you.” To the newer members, including myself, “I ain’t afraid of no ghost.” So I guess in our case, crossing the streams would be very, very good.


~CS



Bro. Chris Streeper is a York Rite Mason and a member of Dickinson Lodge #1324 AF &AM in Dickinson, TX. He is an alumnus of Sigma Nu Fraternity, a veteran of the United States Coast Guard and a professional educator.