Freemasonry: The Next Generation - Revisited

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson, PM

I first wrote this back in 2012 and now my sons are much older, I've see their personalities develop and I think perhaps, just maybe if we as a craft can pull it together, there may still be a lodge for them to join. Time will tell. I also now have a daughter, which means...I can't let her get married to a non Mason ;) Reflecting on the words I wrote almost 5 years ago, I ask myself, "Do I still feel this way?" I don't know. I'm not sure I feel the same about the York Rite or letting my daughter get involved with the youth groups. What do you all think?


As a father of three boys, it is of course my deepest wish that they too become Freemasons. And even more important to me is that they go into the York Rite together and then become companions. If you are well versed in the York Rite you will remember that there is a heavy significance with the number three, which is why it's so important to me.

The question is, when the time comes, what do I say? Do I wait until they are all 18 or of legal age? Or do I approach them individually? What do I say? Can I "solicit" for lack of a better term?

As a Freemason who really adheres to the "old school" tradition, I would rather not solicit. An interesting paper I once read said that "A father may say to his son, 'If you ever decide to become a Mason, I’ll be proud to sign your petition.'" Another quote from that paper was "A darker shade of gray may be the classic story of a grandfather’s discussion with the grandson on his 21st birthday. He said, 'Son, now that you’re 21, whose lodge are you going to join - your father’s or mine?'" And finally this take on the situation from the same article "The final kind of solicitation may be by the indirect method. Mothers may be responsible for encouraging sons to petition lodges for membership."

My view is of course a man with sons, however if I had had daughters, I believe I would have the same yearning for her to join a Masonic group such as the Rainbow Girls or Jobs Daughters. And as I dive deeper that eventually I would ask she be married to a Freemason. Freemasonry is just that important to me, and so many others. My son regularly compliments me on my Masonic ring. He asks if he can put it on. I tell him that he can't--not yet anyway.

No matter what happens, it goes without saying I'll always be proud to be a father to my children. Perhaps the right decision is the easiest. This is to just be a positive influence, attend meetings and when your kids ask where you’re going and what you do there is to just say hopefully one day you’ll find out.

~RHJ

Bro. Robert Johnson 32° is a Freemason out of the First North-East District of Illinois. He belongs to Waukegan Lodge No. 78. He is also a member of the York Rite bodies Royal Arch, Cryptic Council and Knights Templar. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts a weekly Podcast (internet radio program) Whence Came You? which focuses 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 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 also working on two books, one is of a Masonic nature.

Todd's Mail Bag: The Masonic Conspiracy Theorists

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason

I posted this a couple years ago on From Labor To Refreshment.  This is why we moderate our comments at the Midnight Freemasons.  Lets just say there's a lot of interesting people in this world with a lot of interesting ideas--especially about Freemasonry.  We get interesting comments and emails almost daily.  I thought you might enjoy this one.  I decided to have a little fun with this one. 

I thought I'd share a random email. I just never know what I'm going to get from day to day.  Every once in awhile, I get one like this--from that group known to all as the "Masonic conspiracy theorists."  A friend of mine calls them "secret squirrels."
Dear Mr. Creason (if that is your real name),
I thought I would let you know that as a 33rd Degree Mason, and one of your Godless organization's most prolific and skilled disseminators of disinformation about Freemasonry, your act is transparent. Most people know that Freemasonry is really the public front of the Illuminati, which is an evil organization dedicated to the destruction of our society for the profit and power of an elite few. Like you. 
E.M.
I was truly shocked--I didn't know what to say. Finally I answered.

Dear E. M.
I can't believe what you just said to me. I'm a 33rd Degree Mason? I had no idea! All these years, I've been wearing this ring upside-down! I turned it over, and you're absolutely right--it does say "33".  All this time I thought I was an "EE." Thanks for clearing that up for me.
Sincerely,
Todd E. Creason
Oddly enough, I haven't heard anything back . . .

~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.DYou can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Cereal Box Freemasonry

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Bill Hosler, PM

When I was a kid, I would get up really early on the weekends to watch the cartoons that were on television on Saturday mornings. Between cartoons, I would watch the commercials that the network would play. There were commercials for dolls and action figures, various other toys, but the commercials I remember most were the advertisements selling breakfast cereals.

These commercials could span from Tony the Tiger telling me that I should want Frosted Flakes to Bruce Jenner telling me how Wheaties made it possible for him to win the gold at the Olympics. (Yes I'm that old). Each one of these commercials had a few things in common; 1, the product in the commercial tasted awesome and 2, each one of theses boxes of cereal had a prize laying at the bottom.

The prizes they showed in the commercial looked amazing! I could picture myself having a great time playing with these toys just like the kids in the commercial I was watching. I would fantasize about the fun I would have as long as I could convince my mother I needed and would eat this cereal. This was not an easy task. My father worked hard but Mom only had a limited amount she could spend on groceries. She tried to stretch every penny.

If I was lucky enough, I could convince my Mom that I really liked this particular product and she would pick it up for me at the grocery store. When I got home, I would rip open the box and dump the entire contents of the box into a mixing bowl until I heard the clink of the prize falling into the bowl. Giddy with excitement I ran outside to play with this amazing new toy (after trying to fit all of that cereal back into the box and set it in the cupboard stuffed with the other opened boxes of cereal I hadn't eaten yet).

Once I began to play with the toy, I realized the toy in the bottom of the box that I begged my mom to buy was a plastic piece of junk! The prize in the box was nothing like the toy I had seen on the television commercial. The toy was either flimsy and broke right away or it just didn't work. I felt cheated, and the only people that made out well were the owners of the cereal company.

Every year, Freemason membership numbers continue to shrink. Grand Lodges continue to wring their hands and try to come up with new ways to package the fraternity like a product, and peak mens curiosity enough to entice them to join our fraternity in order to swell our ranks. A Grand Lodge or appendant body will approach an advertising agency, and television commercials are created; these days, even a social media campaign is created.

These commercials offer friendship, networking which promises to help advance your career, a chance to “Make A Difference” and fulfill a need to give back to their community by participating in charity (or whatever the advertising agencies polling unit tells them what young men of a certain age group want). The agency then puts together a presentation to the Masonic body, and if the Grand Lodge Officers like what they see they purchase ad time which is targeted to a certain age group of young men, Freemasonry crosses its fingers and waits for the young men to come to us and ask for a petition.

After seeing the commercial, a young man gets excited. Maybe this group sounds like just the thing he has been looking for to complete his life or he remembers Freemasonry from a Dan Brown movie he had watched. He visits an open house at a Masonic Temple near him. Looking around this magnificent building from another era, he gets excited and fills out a petition. His Masonic career slowly starts to go forward. He cannot wait until he is told to report for his degree work.

After receiving a summons from his lodge to begin his Masonic journey he begins the degree work. For several months, the young brother spends his free time memorizing the proficiency he is told he needs to know in order to finally advance toward the goal he is seeking: to be a Master Mason, to learn all of the secrets he has been promised and start his journey of self enlightenment that the commercials and his new brethren have promised him. Finally, that magical day arrives and he has been raised. He can now sit in lodge, join other Masonic groups and finally wear that Masonic ring he had already purchased.

Now it's meeting night. The first stated meeting he can attend and participate in because he is now a full fledged Mason. The newly obligated Brother slowly puts on his best suit, making sure his tie is straight. He admires himself in the mirror thinking how he looks like a Freemason already. The excitement continues to build inside him. He gets to the lodge early so he can get a seat right up front. “I want to be able to get a good view of everything.” he thinks. Meeting time comes and the room isn't even half full. Counting he realizes there are only seven other Masons in the audience. “Must be a slow night,” he tells himself.

This brother sits on the edge of his seat waiting to be blown away with all of the secrets he was promised. He sits through the half hour of the Secretary reading minutes of last month's meeting and the minutes from all of the called meetings for his degree work. He chuckles to himself because he was there for all of that. He really didn't need to hear about it.

Once the minutes are read he listens to motions be made to give money to several Masonic youth groups for their Grand sessions. He votes to give them the money to seem like he knows what is going on even though he has no clue what he is voting for.

The manager of the temple stands before the group and informs the Brethren present that the old lawn mower the temple has owned for forty years is broken and the mechanic states it can no longer be repaired and a new mower needs to be purchased. Several men stand up to argue about the cost of buying a new lawn mower for their temple. The argument seems to last forever he thinks. Finally a committee is formed to approach a member of the lodge who never attends but owns a hardware store to see if he will provide a new mower free of charge or at a deep discount. Then the meeting ends and everyone dashes out of the building like it's on fire.

The young man just sits there in his seat, dumbfounded. He still doesn't understand how this is going to make him a better man. “Maybe it was just an off night.” He decides. After attending for several months, he becomes disillusioned with his lodge and with Freemasonry, and he ceases to attend. At the end of the year, he ignores the dues notices which the lodge sends him and allows his membership to be suspended for non payment. Sadly, nobody even noticed he wasn't there.

Just like the child who expects the toy at the bottom of the cereal box to be the greatest thing in his young life, he becomes disillusioned with this new toy and casts it aside as something cheap and not worthy of his time. Just a piece of junk. Like the owner of the cereal company the only one who benefits is his Grand Lodge who received his fees.

Brethren, those of us who decided to continue to pursue Freemasonry knows what this young man received wasn't junk. Freemasonry, when practiced correctly, is a beautiful and life changing experience. We have learned to “package” our fraternity to entice new members to join; what we need to learn now is what is called “service after the sale”. Masonically we can call it providing Brotherly love, relief and truth.

Brotherly love: Instead of just promising to be a positive force in a man's life, let’s actually be that positive force! Instead of an evening of minutes, treasurer's reports and bickering, maybe we can provide the feeling of Brotherhood and education. Make sure to include this new Brother in upcoming lodge events, invite him and his family to dinner or a cookout. Or even a “Brothers-only night” for an adult beverage and conversation. Even something as simple as inviting him to eat at your table in the lodge dining hall. Positive social interaction with a new member will make him feel wanted, and he will want to become a valuable lodge member.

Relief: Remember that part of the obligation that says “I will help, aid and assist all poor and distressed Master Masons, their widows and orphans”? Maybe we should try doing that. Instead of sending a sympathetic card to a brother who we have heard is sick and offer to pray for him at the next meeting, get several Brothers together and visit him. Take a bag of groceries with you. If he needs help getting to a doctor's appointment, give him a ride. Be there for a Brother who is laying on that darkened square and offer to take his hand and raise him to his feet.

Truth: When young men are asked why they joined Masonry, most will answer Masonic education. We tell them their pursuit is truly laudable but we never fulfill their request. Sadly, education is one of the most basic, easiest requests we can fulfill. Many lodges don't want to prolong the length of a stated meeting with education (or suffer the wagging finger of the Past Masters who want to vote on business then go home), so education is dropped to the wayside. Or worse yet, a Brother will stand up and read a piece he printed from the Internet about the Masonic membership of George Washington. With little substance, the “education box” can now be checked off on a Grand Lodge form so that the lodge can apply for a special award.

In order to receive the maximum benefit of education, pick a non meeting night and have a group of Brethren gather together to have an education night. This could be a group who decides to have a book club (yes, like Oprah) where a mutually chosen book is discussed. The discussion can be as deep or as shallow as the group wishes. Another idea would be for the Brethren to take turns writing research papers and discussing them in the group. The possibilities are endless!

I would even suggest education need not be limited to Masonic subjects. Invite a tailor to discuss the benefit of owning a custom suit, or an expert on manners. Young men have a lot of questions, and sometimes they have difficulty finding answers to their questions. Be their source of light which will help them become a better man. The best part is that informal education nights can be conducted anywhere, including locations where you can enjoy fellowship over an adult beverage.

Brethren, these are just a few ideas in which we can provide “service after the sale”. I'm sure you and the members of your lodge can come up with dozens more. Not only will Masonry not be a cheap prize at the bottom of a cereal box, but we will elevate it to the ultimate treasure that keeps on giving.

~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.

I Have a New (Old) Skill

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

Latin is a dead language
Dead as dead can be
First Latin killed the Romans
Now it's killing me.

There were times I felt as if that was my anthem during the four years of Latin I took in high school.  Latin?  Four years?  Why?  I had my reasons… beyond openly exhibiting the fact that I was a pathological masochist.  Even back then, however, I knew — and others did not hesitate to point out — I was studying a language no one had spoken for centuries.  

"Impractical," they said.

Maybe so, if I was looking for a functional language; but not if I was interested in the Roman history that went along with studying the language; not if I wanted to study a language that formed the basis of many others and led to a better understanding of English.  Besides, when I took my college entrance exam, I tested out of all language requirements.  Take that, ye naysayers.

Still, I would never have advocated Latin should be a required subject.  To some it was, and remains, unnecessary… irrelevant… maybe even useless.  Today, many high schools don't even offer it as an elective.  I think that's unfortunate but I guess it's a sign of our times… and school budgets.

So now, it seems a new subject is the target of those who think it's unnecessary, irrelevant or maybe even useless: call it cursive, longhand, script or, in my case, scribble.

"Irrelevant," they say again, "We're all typists… uh, make that keyboarders," as they toss it onto the junk heap of forgotten subjects along with music, art and God knows what else – maybe Freemasonry; lots of people think that's archaic, too.

This, too, I think is unfortunate.  There is something to be said for studying subjects beyond the "Three Rs" — to broaden our cultural backgrounds.  But, sigh, I understand.  We must be practical.

I spent the bulk of this past year transcribing the Masonic memoirs of Frederic L. Billon, a 19th century Grand Secretary in Missouri.  Written in fading longhand, this was a difficult task, but well within my capability — and probably yours, given the fact schools didn't ditch cursive before our time.

As I went through this exercise I realized, in years to come, what I was doing would be a specialized skill.  Without its use being universal I can see cursive becoming a prerequisite for someone wanting to study history, as long as history doesn't fall off the educational cliff, too.  Those Founding Fathers didn't use keyboards.  

I suppose I could be an old fogey and lament the passing of another "useless" subject, but I might as well accept it and take heart in the fact I have a new (old) skill: I am a cursive specialist.

Cursive is a useless thing;
I've other skills to hone.
They should have written the Bill of Rights
On an Android or iPhone. 

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.

Burl Green

By Midnight Freemason Contributor
RWB Michael H. Shirley

We all knew it was coming. Worshipful Brother Burl Green, Tuscola Lodge’s oldest Past Master, had been in steadily declining health for a couple of years, and had recently had to move into assisted living a couple of hours from home. Knowing Burl, that was probably the last straw, so a few weeks ago he just laid back in his bed and died. He was 93, and had been a Master Mason for 69 years.

Burl was there for my degrees, and was at every meeting and degree I attended as long as he was healthy enough. When we had a lodge work day, he was there, on his hands and knees, using a hand vacuum behind the sideline. He was in his late 80s at the time. Burl was just always there, doing what he could, whenever he was able. He was Master of the Lodge three times, but was one of the humblest men I’ve ever known. Every stated meeting or two, Burl would slowly rise, be recognized, and talk about how wonderful it was that we had so many young men joining the lodge, how impressed he was at their devotion to the Work, and how good it was that they were doing what he could do no longer. When we had our lodge rededication on our 150thanniversary, he served as the Oldest Past Master, was expressly grateful throughout the day, and talked for years afterwards of how nice the Grand Lodge officers had been. 

A few months before he died, Burl stood in lodge, was recognized, and said, though he hated to do it, that he needed help with his yard, and was wondering if any of his Brethren might be able to help with cleaning it up. That Saturday, the lodge was out in force. To help a Brother is a privilege, and with Burl, we knew we might not have many more opportunities. 

We’ll miss him. We’ll miss the coffee stains on the floor that followed him wherever he went. We’ll miss his red truck driving fifteen miles an hour past the donut shop. We’ll miss his unmistakable cackle when something tickled his sense of humor. But we won’t miss his example, as it lives in all of us who knew him, and will live on in the stories we tell of a just and upright Mason who did what good he could, when he could, and always talked of how grateful he was to be a Freemason. Rest in peace, Brother Burl. Your column is broken, and your Brethren mourn.

Burl Green, 1923-2016


~MHS

R.W.B. Michael H. Shirley is a Certified Lodge Instructor, past Leadership Development Chairman, and past Assistant Area Deputy Grand Master for the Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F & A.M. He is a Past Master and Life Member of Tuscola Lodge No. 332 and a plural member of Island City Lodge No. 330, F & AM, in Minocqua, Wisconsin. He is Past Most Wise Master of the George E. Burow Chapter of Rose Croix in the Valley of Danville, Illinois, AASR-NMJ. The author of several article on British and American history, he retired in 2016 from the History Department at Eastern Illinois University. You can contact him at: m.h.shirley@gmail.com

Day By Day, The Masonic Way: Disappointment

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Adam Thayer


Brethren, as I look back over the pieces I’ve written in the past few years, I see many things I’m very proud of. There were a great many papers on various topics, full of emotion and passion, but what I’ve found missing is what I would consider “solid” education, that is, a practical application of the instructions we are taught in our three degrees. Over the next series of papers I write, I plan to address that issue. I hope to be able to provide some solid teachings, and learn something myself in the process!

Many minds far greater than my own have written examinations of the symbols that are presented, and I promise that if you spend the time pouring over their writings you will find it to be a rewarding and enriching pursuit. Instead of retreading the words of our forefathers, I hope to break new ground by discussing the issues that face our brothers today. I won’t even pretend to be doing this for entirely noble reasons; to a degree (if you’ll excuse the pun), this is my attempt to deal with these issues in my own life and, through that process, find peace for myself.

Tonight, the issue that is most heavy on my mind is that of disappointment. Disappointment comes in many forms; maybe you didn’t get the promotion you deserved, or your team ended their season with a 6-7 record (I’m looking at you Cornhuskers), or maybe your evening just didn’t go the way you had hoped it would. Disappointment is a common human condition, however to dismiss it so easily is to downplay how absolutely crushing the experience can be when it occurs.

At its core, disappointment comes from reality not living up to our expectations. Perhaps our expectations were set too high, perhaps we ignored the reality of our situation, or perhaps the world is a complex, sometimes cruel place where things don’t go the way they should. Whatever the real reason, disappointment taken to an extreme can lead to severe anxiety issues, with sufferers going out of their way to avoid any risk that may lead to disappointment.

King Solomon knew disappointment; even with all of his accomplishments he saw failure after crushing failure, leading him to say “I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” King Solomon definitely had a flair for the melodramatic, however I believe we can all identify with the sentiment: after all of our hard work and effort, when everything comes crashing down around us, what is the point of our labors?

When faced with disappointment, my mind first goes to thoughts of the mosaic pavement. Being the representative of human existence, it is necessarily equally checkered with both white and black tiles, which we are taught is emblematical of the good and evil in our lives. It could also be said to represent our victories and our defeats, our joys and our disappointments, which equal out in the long run of our lives.

A man much wiser (and significantly cheesier than I) once stated that walking the mosaic pavement is very hard on the feet. This is most especially true when we’re face to face with our disappointments.

There is an insidious danger in disappointment: often, we turn to our vices to help ease the pain. Solomon turned to both wine and women to make him forget the suffering crush of his disappointments, and it worked… for a while. However, he learned what we all must learn: the harder you try to escape reality, the more painful it is when it reasserts itself. After spending many drunken years amassing a fortune filled with every pleasure money could buy, he found himself more emotionally destitute than he began.

Truly dealing with our disappointments head-on takes courage, but it also takes a humble spirit. It begins with accepting what has happened, which many of us have a very difficult time with. It also takes time, something that I myself have an issue with; we want everything fixed right now, not at some magical later date. Finally, it takes a willingness to learn from the situation, to prepare us for future storms.

Here’s a little secret from me to you: life is full of disappointments. Rather than letting them destroy us, we have the opportunity to learn and grow from them. If the human life is an alchemical process, then disappointment is the process which transforms our rough ashlars into perfect ashlars.

I hope you can learn to channel your disappointments into your passion; for me, that passion is writing, and the large number of papers that have been posted since my first guest post nearly two years ago is a testament to the disappointments in my life. For one of my good friends, he pours his disappointment into music, and has constantly improved his talent to a near professional level. Whatever your passion is, I encourage you to pour all of your frustrations into it; let them fuel you as you strive to become ever greater.
I won’t leave you with a banal platitude like “when one door closes, another one opens” (in the words of Bill Murray, just open the door, that’s how doors work), but I will tell you that I have learned this: life is like a beautiful jigsaw puzzle. You can’t start to make sense of it until it has all fallen apart.

~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!

Interview with the Grand Master of Queensland

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Wayne Greenley


*Editors Note Last Friday, we ran an interview with the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the State of Illinois, as promised, here is the interview with the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Queensland by Aussie Correspondent and Midnight Freemason Contributor, Bro Wayne Greenley.

1. When were you first initiated?

I was initiated in June of 1973 in a small country lodge called Tibrogargan Lodge, number 305 UGLQ. I am still a member and I’ve been secretary for the past 22 years though I handed it over at the last installation and I am now the treasurer.

2. Why did you become a Freemason?

I joined because I was stationed at a forest research station at Beerwah. My next door neighbour had a BBQ and there I met a group of men from Beerwah that my neighbour knew, who wasn’t a freemason, but a number of these other men I met were Freemasons. Over the course of the next few months I got to know them, respect them, and I asked them about Freemasonry. Then I was in the lodge. (And now you’re the Grand Master, it’s been a good long journey) A 43 years long journey from today, sometimes one needs to cover a long period of time.

3. What are you favourite memories being in the lodge?

Without a shadow of a doubt it’s the mateship, the comradeship, the enjoyment of each other’s company, and especially that surrounding the new men into our craft.

4. If you could go back in time and witness any masonic event, what would you choose?

I would have liked to have been in Edinburgh in December of 1598 when William Schaw produced his first Statutes. (I do enjoy history and I look forward to reading the Schaw statutes). The three constitutions were present in Queensland from 1859 when the English came, 1863 when the Scots came and 1864 when the Irish came. For our 150 anniversary, we needed to do something very special. So the Librarian and myself decided to have in our presence the 1598 and 1599 statutes as they were delivered in Scottish brogue, a direct translation and a modern translation. I quote them quite often. Whilst my own lodge has an English background and I am familiar with the first premier lodge of 1717, I still if I was asked who do you think is supposed to be the father of Freemasonry, and I know that almost impossible to say, but for me the first person to put it on a map in a structured way was William Schaw.

5. How much of a difference do you feel you have made to Queensland Freemasonry?

Well I believe passionately that no-one person an affect change or achieve by himself. Thus in a team approach, I’ve had a very creative team around me and using their skills and expertise we have been able to introduce some structural changes. Importantly, thought, those structural changes have come associated with some significant constitutional change and that has been a significant change from the past. It was effected by communicating the need for change to our brethren. I went around the state with a campaign with ‘Organised Development equals change’ and the membership at large voted favourable for those changes.

6. What is your message to future Brothers?

The enjoyment of our fraternity and of your fellow Brothers. I sometimes highlight Freemason as three things. Mateship, Giving and Integrity. When you have a look at those three things and they are just a sort of modern way of expressing the old way of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth but in a sort of Aussie way. They for me are the things that are most important, what we don’t involve in there are the real landmarks in order of our terms of belief of a supreme being. However, what they do say is that we are about good, doing good within ourselves, doing better for ourselves and by doing that we become better members our community, better members of our family, better members of the workplace. There is no doubt in my mind that Freemasonry is a great good for an individual and for our community.

Listen to the audio file for the bonus message the Most Worshipful Grand Master has for the world of Freemasons on an upcoming episode of "Whence Came You?"

~WG

Bro. Wayne Greenley is member of Mount Pleasant Lodge No. 361 and research lodge Barron Barnett Lodge No 146 both holding under the United Grand Lodge of Queensland. Currently he is studying a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and a Bachelor of Business at QUT. In his spare time he likes to read, listen to music and research the Craft. He is looking forward to joining other orders when he’s permitted to in the next year and also to soon begin his journey through the progression of officers starting off with the Inner Guard.

Too Damn Serious

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson, PM



Looking back on why I joined, it was clear. I wanted to work on myself, talk philosophy, talk about the great truths of mankind and learn the secrets of antiquity. While I don't get that still, there are some lodges that do. In fact, they get a lot more. Solemn degree work, incense, spot-on ritual and a lodge dynamic which propels the notions of Freemasonry being an ancient and mystical art to the forefront.

Where I once was jealous for not having this, I have found peace in my own personal studies, the small groups of both men, and yes, women to discuss esoteric ideas with and ultimately personal answers to my own great questions about life. Currently, there is a push to the esoteric in lodges all across the world, especially in the new crowd joining. There is no age limit when it comes to the mysteries of the universe, those things that somehow, people think Masonry provides.

The new crowd found a voice in one state, setting the bar to lofty heights. From this stemmed all the things I mentioned above, including books, terminologies, ideas, new orders, and even the return of the Chamber of Reflection. These practices seemed to bring a multitude of new men into the fraternity, it seemed like the answer to everything. New magazines came out, new symposiums came out using terms like "restoration" and while these events were attended by multitudes, something else was brewing, something unsettled, weary and dreadful.

That thing was boredom. All in a sudden, the number of masons dropped off, the attendance of the conferences shrunk a bit and would continue to do so over the years. It's as if those driving the pack up the mountain forgot to slow down before toppling over the peak. How far was too far? Was it the dress code? The general malaise we all get when something new becomes old? Was it the new side groups with outlandish claims, so ridiculous that it turned men off completely?

We don't know for certain, but there is a feeling that has been tossed around quite a bit lately which has been one of awe-inspiring monotony. Simply, are we too damn serious? Is there no room for a light hearted fellowship? While what we do is very serious, to be so staunch about it as to limit the decorum likened to a funeral parlor, might be just too much. It can be stuffy, it can be arrogant and even pompous.

I think we need to look at what we've created, what the members want and more over look at successful lodges and adopt some best practices. While you say a lodge may be successful, lets think about just what that means. It isn't just attendance. A lodge of 350 that has 35 men show up isn't truly as successful as a lodge with 100 on the books who has 15 showing up. We're talking the ten percent rule. We need participation, so how do we get it? Perpetual change, a new dynamic, a fraternity that is all about change needs to actually change.

The young men entering the fraternity today hold that power. I hope they do something truly amazing with it and I'll be there to help wherever I can, will you?

~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 Education officer 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.

Thoughts Become Things

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



On a recent high-school tour, I saw a sign inside a classroom that read, "Thoughts become things." I like that idea. I had heard it before, but I wasn't sure where. I thought it might be a quote from an unknown person or something from a book or play. I decided to research it and maybe use it in an article.

So I went where we always go these days to find out — straight to the Internet. The first thing I ran into was this, from a Metaphysics site:

"Thoughts become things when they are given substance with feelings in the Mind."

Bunk.

It is true that thoughts can become things but it takes a whole lot more than "feelings in the mind" to make a thought — some might call it an idea — become a reality.

Good ideas are a dime a dozen; they really are. World peace — there's a good idea. Well, we've been rolling out "Visualize World Peace" bumper stickers for decades and we're still visualizing, aren't we?

Every Master or even Grand Master comes into his term filled with good ideas and the intention to make Freemasonry in general or his Lodge in particular better by the time he leaves. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't.

What are the secret ingredients?

I recently had a great experience working with a group of Brothers and Eastern Star Sisters that turned out a "thing" which had originated as a "thought." Together, we published a book. It was the journal of a former Missouri Grand Secretary who lived almost the entire 19th century. He recorded a first-hand account of Masonic events that took place during that time, not just from Missouri, but elsewhere as well.

The journal had been lost for nearly three quarters of a century. It contained information not known anywhere else about our Craft. Upon finding the journal, it was a "no brainer" for one of our Brothers, then a group of Brothers, to have the seminal thought that we should publish it. Eventually, that thought became a "thing." It didn't happen overnight and it didn't happen with "feelings in the mind."

It happened because over twenty people involved in the project were dedicated and put in a lot of hard work. Dedication and hard work — those, my Brothers, are the secret ingredients.

Steve Jobs, you may recall, had a lot of good ideas; and he knew how to turn those ideas into a lot of good things. I like what he said about thoughts becoming things: "Most people have a disease: they think once they've had a good idea they've done 90% of the work. Coming up with the idea is easy. Working to make it a reality is the hard part."

~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.

Interview with the Grand Master of Illinois

by Midnight Freemason Contributors:
Bro. Wayne Greenley
and 
Robert H. Johnson, PM

Anthony R. Cracco, Most Worshipful Grand Master Ancient Free & Accepted
Masons of the state of Illinois.
Quite a while ago, Bro. Wayne approached me about doing a couple of interviews, but not just any interviews. He said, "Robert, let's interview our Grand Masters, see the two messages they have." I though to myself, that's insane, these are Grand Masters, they don't have time for that sort of thing. But, we went for it anyway. Needless to say, both the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Illinois, Tony Cracco and the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Queensland, Dr Gary Bacon said "Sure!". I was stunned. So Wayne got to work with some interview questions, standard stuff really, but questions which cut to the heart of who these gents are, where they've been and to see their vision for our beloved craft. Below is the transcript of the interview with Most Worshipful Grand Master, Tony Cracco. I hope you enjoy. A special thanks goes out to GM Tony for doing this, I know how busy you are. We appreciate it immensely. Laid out here are seven questions and seven answers...

1. When were you first initiated?

GM Tony: I was initiated as an Entered Apprentice in November 1990.

2. Why did you become a Freemason?

GM Tony: I sought out Masonry as an opportunity to provide greater guidance to my life (including getting access to gentlemen who could provide wise counsel and direction), an opportunity to make lifelong friends, and a desire to give back to the people and community around me.

3. What does Freemasonry mean to you?

GM Tony: Our Gentle Craft provides the foundation to help quality men acquire genuine fraternal relationships as Brothers and friends. The knowledge acquired through the study of our Masonic history, the Ritual and other instructional material makes us different in a good way; by incorporating the wisdom of the ages into our daily lives, we can’t help but grow and develop into better men. Also, the ability through the several charitable efforts of our ancient and honorable fraternity to ‘relieve the suffering of others’ is a part of the timeless commitment that we have as Masons both towards our Masonic Family and the broader community.

4. What are your favorite memories being in the lodge?

GM Tony: As both a past Certified Lodge Instructor and Grand Lecturer, the excellent display of our degree work and other ceremonies that make a lasting impression are amongst my favorite. Our unique methods of instruction that have gone significantly unchanged for centuries is beautiful to watch and participate in. Basically, passing on Masonry to new Brothers and reconnecting with old friends through the many lodge activities will continue to be highlights of my experience as a Brother of our wonderful fraternity.
5. If you could go back in time and witness any Masonic event, what would you choose?

GM Tony: I would choose the laying of the cornerstone for the United States Capital. At such a historic event, to stand with Brothers like George Washington and the many shapers of our current way of life in America would be an exceptional experience. To experience firsthand the wisdom of these men acquired in part by their experience in Masonry would have been a genuine honor. As Masons, they promoted the many new freedoms that shape our country today. That time in our Masonic history in this country was a time of pride, visibility in the public and living daily the commitments made in our Masonic obligations.

6. How much of a difference do you feel you have made to (your jurisdictions) Freemasonry?

GM Tony: As Grand Master of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Illinois, it has been a privilege to serve our Illinois Masonic Family and the communities throughout the state that we positively impact. Like leaders of other large organizations, it takes a team of people to drive the success of our business and fraternal affairs in the state. By selecting talented Brothers, staff and volunteers to work on our several projects and operations, I’ve made a difference. By visiting lodges to promote the genuine care that we have for our Gentle Craft that has done so much for me and sharing that passion has inspired the positive actions of others. Through a continued reminder of the fundamental Commitment to one another as Brothers and the promotion of Civil behaviors has reconnected our jurisdiction to the more fundamental components of Masonry. Next, I continue to advocate the balance in both written and verbal communications about the elements of our fraternity that are timeless while similarly challenging us to translate our significant Masonic value to the current age through new communication mediums like video and Social Media. From this last point, we are seeing a positive response from our current Brothers and new men showing interest in Illinois Masonry.

7. What is your message to future Brothers?

GM Tony: Masonry is a time tested and honorable way of life. Though centuries old, our fraternity has demonstrated a flexibility to deliver clear value to the Brothers across those many years. Through our ancient and honorable fraternity, you will find unique fraternal relationships and have several opportunities to experience genuine fellowship. You will grow and develop as a man and Mason through the active study and teaching of the ‘wisdom of the ages’ which is part of our Stewardship to convey. You will join with like-minded men of various backgrounds to serve one another and the people around you through several opportunities to make a difference and contribute; fundamentally, to just Care for others. Overall, Masonry champions what is best in human behavior in how to live harmoniously and provides the means for passing along our Gentle Craft to future generations. Take good care of our timeless institution and translate its value into messages that your future generations will understand.

Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed. I'll have Wayne's interview with his Grand Master in another piece coming soon. Wayne scored an audio version as well and we will feature it on the "Whence Came You? Masonic Podcast. Many thanks to all who contributed to get these special couple of pieces done, especially to the Grand Masters and of course, our Aussie correspondent, Bro Greenley!

~WG & RHJ

Bro. Wayne Greenley is member of Mount Pleasant Lodge No. 361 and research lodge Barron Barnett Lodge No 146 both holding under the United Grand Lodge of Queensland. Currently he is studying a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and a Bachelor of Business at QUT. In his spare time he likes to read, listen to music and research the Craft. He is looking forward to joining other orders when he’s permitted to in the next year and also to soon begin his journey through the progression of officers starting off with the Inner Guard.

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 Education officer 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.

Freemasonry In Comic Books - Revisit

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Bro. Robert H.  Johnson 

Editors Note - Originally I wrote this piece for the Midnight Freemasons about four years ago. Wow, how time flies. I was reading another edition of The League of Extraordinary Gentleman recently and I though about this piece. I thought I'd share it again, now that so many comic movies are coming out and the Fraternity get so much more play in the pop culture scene today. Enjoy!

In the recent pop culture explosion and success of comic books and movies that bring in millions, I am reminded of an English writer who brought some wild, controversial and downright odd stories to paper…and eventually into the movie theater.

Alan Moore, is the one who gave you the movie From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, V for Vendetta and most recently The Watchmen. Moore is not a Freemason, but he does study occultism--I know the term sounds strange, but let’s just remember that occult means secret.


Captain Nemo, and those awesome doors! (A scene from the
movie, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman)
Alan Moore has given some insane story lines in his comics and stories many of which keep the mysteries of Freemasonry alive. Take the League of Extraordinarygentleman for instance; the comic series is littered with the jewels of a Fellowcraft and Master Mason. In fact in my count in the first book in the series, there are at twenty-one drawings of the square and compass in various forms. Not disguised either.

Check these books out if your into graphic novels, they are a good read, but mind you, there is extreme subject matter, nudity, violence, drug paraphernalia, and other adult themes. Read at your own risk and let me know how many Masonic things you can find.

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 Education officer 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.

Labor Day & Freemasonry: Is There a Connection? - Revisit

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Robert H. Johnson, PM

The first Labor Day parade, NYC 1882

*Editors note: This piece originally was published about 3 years ago. I hope you enjoy and learn a little history in the process!

Labor Day, the very idea of the holiday invokes the excitement of barbeques, back to school for our children and the end of summer. Labor Day is now marked by the first Monday in September, but the first labor day was actually on a Tuesday, Tuesday September 5th 1882 to be exact. It was celebrated for the first time in New York City and was organized by the Central Labor Union.

So who started Labor Day? Well, the answer can not be definitively answered. There are two men
President Woodrow Wilson
 (Left) with American Federation
 of Labor founder and long-time
 president, Samuel Gompers 
(Center), and DOL Secretary William B 
 Wilson at an undated Labor Day Rally.
who are credited with its creation. Peter McGuire and Mathew Maguire were both labor leaders and worked for the rights of workers. Peter was a carpenter and Mathew a machinist.

Many people ask whether either of these two men were members of our great fraternity, the Freemasons. Of these two men, Peter McGuire was a member of a Brotherhood. It just wasn't the Freemasons. He belonged to the Brotherhood of Carpenters and was quoted as saying something which to me, sounds Masonic in nature...

[There needs to be a day to celebrate those] "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold"

However promising this sounds, neither Peter nor Mathew have any record of being involved or affiliated with the Freemasons.

To find out more and view some truely astonishing photographs related to Labor Day, please visit the United States Department of Labor's website all about Labor Day.

Have a happy and safe Labor Day!

~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 Education officer 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.

Brothers Without Borders

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Wayne Greenley

*Editors Note When any one of the amazing contributors decides to mention me, I feel an obligation to preface the article, mostly because I'm perhaps self conscious about it. I feel it necessary to make it known that whatever praises I receive are literally reflections of the success of those making note. It is impossible to do what any of us have done without the actions and support of our friends and Brothers. Wayne starts his piece with an over-the-top complimentary stance on my character, and I can assure you, I'm absolutely humbled by it. He continues on into what can only be described as  1 out of a thousand testaments to the brotherhood this Fraternity promulgates  In his closing statement, I can only say that the feeling is mutual. We are truly Brothers without Borders. We all can be... Read on.
See that bloke pictured up above? He, ladies and gentlemen is Worshipful Brother Robert Johnson. One of the most intellectual, generous, genuine, kind, polite (I’m running out of adjectives) down to earth blokes I have ever met. As Robert is the editor of the Midnight Freemasons, I’m wondering how much of the previous sentence he’s left in.

I’ll just mention right now that haven’t written this article so far to flatter Robert.

I first contacted Robert on July 2012 via email (two and a half years before I was initiated.) I was just after some information regarding Freemasonry after I’d listened to his podcast ‘Whence Came You’. The next day he kindly responded to my queries. Two years later I contacted him again to let him know I was petitioning to become a Freemason and since then we’ve been in close contact, we’ve even on occasion sent each other gift parcels. Now one of the things, I believe, that makes our friendship special is that Robert lives in state of Illinois in America, where as I live in the state of Queensland in Australia. Not only do we not live in the same country, we don’t even live in the same hemisphere. Yet ignoring that barrier, through the spirit of our fraternity we are Brothers.

I believe in our fraternity that we are brothers without borders, I’ve heard so many stories of brothers going abroad, meeting fine masons and given warm hospitality at lodge. Some of those friendships last a lifetime I hear. That’s only on the proviso that you travel internationally or an international brother visits your lodge. For some lodges that isn’t a regular occurrence, especially for country town lodges. But what if there was a way for Brothers to meet other Brothers from different jurisdictions?

Social websites do create this, however it’s not a hundred percent safe. Some men could pose as regular masons when they are actually clandestine. I propose we create an online social network system just for Freemasons. Grand Lodge of each jurisdiction would be the only ones who to admit masons into this system, ensuring you’d only be talking to brothers in good standing. Brothers from all over the world, all you’d just need is a computer and maybe Google Translate. You could literally have masonic pen-pals all around the world, I think our elder brothers might appreciate that.

The friendship I have with Robert is unique and special to me. I can honestly say my masonic journey so far has been more enlightened than had it been if he weren’t there.

~WG

Brother Wayne Greenley is member of Mount Pleasant Lodge No. 361 and research lodge Barron Barnett Lodge No 146 both holding under the United Grand Lodge of Queensland. Currently he is studying a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and a Bachelor of Business at QUT. In his spare time he likes to read, listen to music and research the Craft. He is looking forward to joining other orders when he’s permitted to in the next year and also to soon begin his journey through the progression of officers starting off with the Inner Guard.