X-Rated Freemasonry

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



Freemasons — those never kiss-and-tell pillars of society always adhere to the values of ethics and high-morals, observing the promises of their obligations. Well... almost always. There have been instances where society, depending upon the social mores of the day, may have judged Brethren harshly for "crossing the line." Some of those occasions by today's standards may seem as tame as a sleeping kitten while others might raise the eyebrows of the most iniquitous among us. Read on, and judge for yourself.

* * * * *
American Gothic
Brother Grant Wood (1892-1942), of Mount Hermon Lodge 263, Cedar Rapids, painted the acclaimed "American Gothic." Released in 1930, the painting shocked many when Wood said it was a portrait of a married couple. The scene depicts an elderly man holding a pitchfork standing next to a much younger woman. The age difference caused the scandal, so Wood eventually said the woman represented the man's daughter. He would, in fact, change that story and say she was his wife, depending on how he perceived the audience would react.

Four Too Many
Brother Tom Mix, a member of Utopia Lodge 537 of Los Angeles was one of the earliest film superstars. In an era where moviegoers were unaccustomed to some of the antics of Hollywood actors, they were shocked at what one might call his practice of "serial monogamy." Mix had five wives — at a time when that number was considered just about four too many.

Bare Facts
After visiting the Soviet Union Brother Will Rogers wrote a book entitled, "There's Not A Bathing Suit In Russia, And Other Bare Facts." Suggestive by the standards of the day, the publisher declined to put the second part of the title on the book's cover.

Stephen Austin's Nemesis
Anthony Butler (1787–1849) was a lawyer, a politician, a diplomat, the ward and friend of Brother Andrew Jackson and, yes, a Freemason. Jackson appointed Butler his secret agent in a surreptitious plan to purchase Texas for the United States. Upon arriving in Texas, Butler crossed swords with Brother Stephen F. Austin who was establishing colonies there. While there, Butler became interested in and began courting the daughter of a prominent Mexican family. Austin was a friend of the family. Upon hearing what Butler was up to, he exposed him as a man who had a wife and three children back in the US., thwarting the plan to purchase Texas and fueling a lifetime of animosity between the two Masonic Brothers.

The Bestseller
Charles P. "Chic" Sale (1885-1936), Urbana Lodge 157 (IL), was an actor and humorist in vaudeville and a character actor in movies. He never achieved a great amount of fame, however, until he became an author and published "The Specialist." The book sold 200,000 copies in three months and went on to be a million-seller. Its subject: outhouses. Considered risqué for its time, the book was nearly banned, but Brother Sale chose his words just carefully enough to avoid having it censored.

A One-Glove Striptease
Glenn Ford, a member of Riviera Lodge 780 in Pacific Palisades, California, got his big break when Humphrey Bogart turned down the role of Johnny Farrell in the 1946 blockbuster, "Gilda." In one scene his co-star, Rita Hayworth, was to take swing at him. She misjudged the distance between them and broke Ford's jaw. That was only the beginning of the scandal the film generated. In it, Hayworth performed a strip-tease in which she removed nothing more than one glove. That and a rumored affair between the two co-stars nearly caused censors to ban the movie.

Sin-Suffer-Repent
Brother Henry Lieferant (1892-1968), Lodge unknown, was a Polish-born and educated immigrant to the US who became a prolific author with several books and magazine articles to his credit. As Editor-in-chief of "True Story" magazine, he was responsible for its rise to popularity — and reputation as an "off color" magazine — when he developed the story format whereby a heroine "violates standards of behavior, suffers as a consequence, learns her lesson and resolves to live in light of it, unembittered by her pain." "True Story" magazine still survives using Brother Lieferant's tried-and-true, if not slightly salacious format known as "sin-suffer-repent."

Panty Raid
A Grand Lodge of California account from the mid-1960s describes a crime in which a Brother had been convicted of the theft of clothing, including 181 pairs of women's undergarments. The official police report described the incident as a "panty raid," stemming from the popular (and self-explanatory) hi-jinx occurring on college campuses at the time. The Brother came up on Masonic charges. In order to distinguish his serious crime from some youthful indiscretion, the Grand Lodge of California Proceedings for that year included the following: "We do not wish to be misunderstood as overemphasizing the gravity of that specification against the accused in which he is charged with a ‘panty raid.' Indulgence in such conduct by boys of college age for the purpose of displaying either skill or courage, if that be the purpose, differs from the conduct of the accused here, in that the theft of 181 pairs of ladies pants is not merely a playful prank."

Unchristian Conduct
The Presbyterian Church in 1831, sanctioned Nathaniel Beverley Tucker (1784-1851), second Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Missouri, for shocking "unchristian conduct." Certain parties, it seems, claimed he "partook of the amusement of dancing" on three occasions. There is no record of any action taken against him, but shortly thereafter MWB Tucker became an Episcopalian.

Keeping It In the Family
Brother Will Rogers asked his wife Betty to marry him in 1906. Betty, apprehensive about a life in show business, turned him down. A year and a half later the persistent Rogers changed her mind and they married. In the meantime`, Rogers dated every one of Betty's six sisters.

* * * * *

Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said of obscenity, "I can't define it... but I know it when I see it." That might apply to each of these little scenarios. As you form your opinion about their appropriateness, you might do well to drag your Bible off the shelf and read Matthew 7:1-3; And, while you're at it, ask yourself if the title of the article piqued your interest.

Note: Many of the accounts above are excerpted from Brother Harrison's book, "Freemasons: Tales From the Craft."

~SLH

Bro. Steve Harrison, 33° , is Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is also a Fellow and Past Master of the Missouri Lodge of Research. Among his other Masonic memberships are the St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite bodies, and Moila Shrine. He is also 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. Brother Steve was Editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine for a decade and is a regular contributor to the Whence Came You podcast. Born in Indiana, he has a Master's Degree from Indiana University and is retired from a 35 year career in information technology. Steve and his wife Carolyn reside in northwest Missouri. He is the author of dozens of magazine articles and three books: Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, Freemasons — Tales From the Craft and Freemasons at Oak Island.

Silence

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Scott S. Dueball, PM


At the beginning of Advent we heard Luke 1:11-25 and a sermon accompanying it. In this passage Zechariah is visited by Gabriel at an altar of incense. Gabriel informs Zechariah that his wife will give birth to John (the Baptist). When Zechariah questions the authenticity of Gabriel’s message, Gabriel makes Zechariah silent until John’s birth.

I all but completely missed this until the sermon called to my attention that the purpose of this silence may not have been punish Zechariah’s lack of faith but to encourage him to listen. This explanation caught my attention as it is present in Masonry and many of the old mystical traditions. Members of the Pythagorean community had to complete a 5 year period of silence. Many eastern and western traditions incorporate various modes of meditation which seek to increase mindfulness of the present. As Masons, the theme of silence is prevalent throughout the degrees. Similar to the story of Zechariah, silence can be understood through a punitive lens but I posit that the concept of listening without the burden of having to respond is of greater value to us as Masons and humans.

In the social media age we have been given a microphone without any instruction to listen (or think) first. I am just as guilty as anyone of feeling the need to respond to EVERYTHING. There is a fine line between things that are necessary to correct and things that likely won’t be solved by offering my opinion (or even facts). We miss out on a great many things when we become enamored by our own words.

As we approach this season of renewal (be that Christmas, Solstice, Chanukah or any other winter celebration), let us remember to listen to the beauty of the world surrounding us. The nights are getting longer and colder but soon the Sun will rise and give way to new beauty and warmth. Let us each commit to spending more time in silence and appreciating the sounds of yule logs crackling, children in wonder, and carolers spreading hope. Celebrate and cultivate that warmth which we as Brethren have the ability to share. Pay attention to the ways in which the Grand Architect has established his greatness in our lives. The beauty of spring depends on our ability to calm our thoughts and fully embrace the experience of winter.

~SSD

WB Scott S. Dueball is the Worshipful Master of D.C. Cregier Lodge No. 81 in Wheeling, IL and holds a dual membership in Denver Lodge No. 5 in Denver, CO. He currently serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois as the State Education Officer. Scott is also a member of the Palatine York Rite bodies and the Valley of Chicago A.A.S.R.-N.M.J. He is passionate about the development of young masons, strategy and visioning for Lodges. He can be reached at SEO@ilmason.org

The 50 Year Member - The Ghost of Christmas Past

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Holser, PM



The glistening white tablecloths were aglow from the flickering candles which danced in the shadows of the sparkling crystal glasses, sitting near the punch bowl, filled with homemade egg nog. Silver trays of colorful Christmas style cookies of every flavor.

Pudge chuckled to himself as the children of the lodge members would slowly walk up the beautifully laid table and take a handful of these sugary goodies and run back to the playroom which was set up for them in the corner of the temple’s ballroom. The kids were fully fueled by massive amounts of sugar as they ran away with a glint in their eyes thinking they had just pulled off the crime of the century.

The adults of the lodge were also filled with the holiday spirit. Pudge and his social room committee turned the Temples newly renovated social room into a winter wonderland which was lit only by candles and the twinkling colorful lights of Christmas tree sitting in the corner of the room. The committee had thought of everything including a sound system which was paired with wireless speakers hidden throughout the room playing a mix of soft music and Christmas classics which created a background for the joyful laughter and the clinking of crystal glasses. Pudge’s team even placed air fresheners in specific areas which tried give the illusion of a Christmas tree farm with a pine scent fragrance near the tree and a cinnamon scent near the refreshment table to give the illusion of someone baking.

The entire room was filled with smiles and laughter, except for one grinch sitting in a leather chair in the north part of the room, all alone.

Herbert Johnson was sitting all alone in a well-worn leather chair near the roaring fireplace. The older Past Master was sitting quietly, stating at his eggnog.

The 50-year member was talking to several Brethren when he spotted Herb sitting by himself. The old man walked over and sat down next to Herb, “What in the world is wrong with you? Did you find coal in your stocking?” Herb smiled a little and said quietly, “This old room, it looks so beautiful. Reminds me of the good old days.”

“Remember all the parties we used to have in here John? I keep thinking of all the old guys we used to have at these parties. They're all gone now. It’s like traveling back in time.” The 50-year member smiled and grabbed Herb’s hand. “Those were great times. I’m sure they are looking down at us smiling. But I’m sure they would be the first to tell you how lucky we are these kids started joining the lodge, and how they made it a point to restore this room back to what it once was.”

“I guess,” Herb started, “they are good kids but we have to be so PC now. Back in the old days, we called this a Christmas party. Now, to be Politically correct, it has to be a Holiday party! What’s wrong with saying, Merry Christmas for corn’s sake?!”

The 50 year member chuckled “There is nothing wrong with saying Merry Christmas. I’m sure if you said that greeting to anyone here no one would take offense. But in all honesty back then we should never refer to the party back then as a Christmas party.”

The 50 year member continued, “Herb we didn’t think about it much back then but Masonry wasn’t a Christian order back then and I bet there were non-Christians in the lodge back then but we didn’t think about things like that all those years ago.”

“Nowadays this lodge has men of all kinds of different faiths. It’s the same reason we have all of those Volumes of Sacred Law on our altar. Did you notice the Menorah on that table over there? That was donated to the lodge by Brother Epstein and his family. We have men who celebrate Christmas, Ramadan, Kwanza as well as Hanukah this time of year. It would not be fair to any of them to slight their beliefs in favor of ours. Especially since we all took the same oath to look out for each other.”

“I guess you are right John.” Herbert said “While I am sitting here missing the past I'm also missing the present. I should be thankful we are still here on Earth,  and thanks to these younger Brethren we still have a future.” The 50 year member arose from his chair, smiled and replied ”Exactly! So now quit sitting there like a lump and come join the rest of us. It’s about time for Santa Claus to pass out presents to the kids. Even a grumpy old guy like you will have to get a kick out of that.”

Herb smiled “Yes, I will John. Thank you for pulling me into the present. I think I will grab some cookies and freshen up this eggnog before the jolly old elf arrives. Merry Christmas Brother and Thank you.” The 50 year member put his arm around Herb’s back as they joined the party “No need to thank me, Brother, that’s what we're here for.”

~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.

The Weight of a Masonic Ring

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Adam Thayer



This evening, I had the pleasure of editing a paper for fellow Midnight Freemason Bill Hosler, which discussed the history of his Masonic ring, and it got me thinking about my own ring, and the cost associated with it. Everything in life has what economists call an opportunity cost; that is, what is given up for what you receive. The easiest example is buying a cup of coffee: the opportunity cost is the money you pay to receive that life-giving goodness.

Our rings come with an opportunity cost. Of course, it’s easy to give a dollar amount to my ring (it wasn’t very expensive, but in case my wife is reading I’m not going to admit exactly how much), but it has cost me much more than just the money I spent on the afternoon I bought it.

Over the years, my ring has cost me quite a lot in dues payments to different lodges and other bodies. My ring has obviously cost me many evenings away from my family. It has cost me thousands of hours spent studying ritual work when I would have much rather been rotting my brain with television. It’s cost me biting my tongue when some idiot at the grocery store is annoying me, because if I said what I wanted to everybody would know that it was a Freemason who said it. It has forced me to re-examine who I am, and to make changes for who I hope to be one day. Without exaggerating, it literally cost my old identity, who had to die to make room for who I am becoming.

When I first bought this ring, if I had known the cost that came with it, would I have still purchased it? Since the ring is just a symbol, a reminder to me of my obligation, I suppose the question would be better worded thusly: when I first signed my petition, if I had known the cost that came with it, would I still have petitioned? I believe I would have, because the opportunity cost is far outweighed by the benefits that came from it, however I must admit that if the fraternity had been pitched to me in that way I would have definitely paused a bit longer before signing my name.

Even more noteworthy than the cost of my ring is its weight. My Masonic ring weighs 8 grams, according to my kitchen scale, but of course this tidbit of information is only interesting to the most obsessive jewelers among you, and “weight” in this instance is yet another symbol, because the true weight of my ring is unbearably heavy for a man to maintain by himself.

My ring comes with the weight of all of the brothers who came before me; I owe it to them to represent them well to the current generation, and to ensure that the solid foundations that they built are maintained for future generations to enjoy. It is weighed down with an obligation which demands I constantly seek improvement, leaves no room for excuses, and provides for the stiffest of penalties (symbolic though they may be).

I find that often, while I’m writing, I turn to the wisdom of The Beatles, and this instance is no exception; the second side of Abbey Road contains one of my favorite pieces of music, which is nearly sixteen minutes long (even if it’s listed as separate tracks, it’s really one large one), and contains some of the deepest lyrics that they ever wrote. In the middle of this fantastic medley are a few words that come back to haunt me in my darkest hours: boy, you’ve got to carry that weight a long time.

~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!

Unicorns

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Scott S. Dueball

Most of you either hold membership in or know of a lodge that is just barely crawling along. A close friend and Brother messaged me the other day saying his lodge was going to fold. I was unsure if this was sentimental or if the proverbial train had actually been set in motion. He continued with the explanation that last week he sat in the lodge all alone at the time they had scheduled ritual practice. On its own, this is not a red flag but not surprisingly the same brother attended their annual Lodge Holiday Party with only 2 other families present. This called to mind an exercise I recently sent around to our own upcoming officers. As this situation is not at all unique to one or two lodges I would like to share the exercise for each of you to reflect.

What I am about to describe is in no way a reflection of my thoughts on the future leadership as I think the world of the men who will take over; it's simply an exercise. Our Annual Stated Meeting and Elections will take place in just over 10 days (no, I am not counting…). Those who are elected will be installed some time before our January Stated Meeting. I asked these leaders to consider hypothetically that no one shows up to the January stated except the 3 principal officers. I then asked them to reflect on the following questions:

  1. Who are the first people you call to ensure that they come to February Stated? Think about if that list contains the most critical people for the future success of the Lodge or if you are calling them because they will be the easiest to convince. This is rhetorical; I am not looking for a response per se.

  2.  How do you plan for February to entice those Brothers to come?

Of course, I neither hope nor expect this to happen. However, I find these to be important questions if we are truly creating a membership-centric plan. We should have an idea of who are most critical to the success of the lodge. While all brothers are equal, I often see an imbalance of brothers providing support only in a few specific areas. Basic supply and demand would suggest that if the there are gaps left by this imbalance--internet/social media work, communications, youth, or education (all real examples in my lodge)--then for the lodge plan to succeed, brethren who can fill those gaps are in higher demand.

Think about what tasks are most critical to the success of the lodge plan. Be cognizant that some of the easiest Brethren to motivate to attend may not be as critical to the lodge plan when it comes to ensuring that fundraisers actually raise funds or the needs of new members are met in order to maintain their participation. My lodge is flush with men able and willing to cook but when it comes to some of the nuts and bolts of a fundraiser, we are void of men interested in promoting any of the functions we have. It's not that I love or value the cooks any less but I recognize that someone executing on the other functions would make a massive difference to a fundraiser.

It's in the interest of the lodge to support a plan that encourages the participation of those men who can help fill in some of our weak areas. If we need someone to run facebook and website we have to be willing to offer him a fulfilling experience to encourage his participation. He has to want to elevate the priority of the Lodge above other wants and needs in his life. That isn’t going to happen because we offer green beans and a short meeting. Maybe the gaps can be filled by guys who live to help others. Or maybe the just enjoy fellowship. This requires the leadership to get to know their members and create balanced plans that give each brother more of what they seek. Its undoubtedly easier to do what we have always done but if that plan has left gaps necessary to the future success of the Lodge then it needs to be revised. All of this can be stated in a much more simplistic way:

  • Identify where the lodge has gaps in what needs to get done 
  • Identify brothers with those talents 
  • Identify ways to attract the interests of those brothers 

~SSD

WB Scott S. Dueball is the Worshipful Master of D.C. Cregier Lodge No. 81 in Wheeling, IL and holds a dual membership in Denver Lodge No. 5 in Denver, CO. He currently serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois as the State Education Officer. Scott is also a member of the Palatine York Rite bodies and the Valley of Chicago A.A.S.R.-N.M.J. He is passionate about the development of young masons, strategy and visioning for Lodges. He can be reached at SEO@ilmason.org

Masonic Symbolism in the Matrix Part 4 Conclusion

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darrin A. Lahners



*Editors Note* WB Lahners originally sent this to me in one post. I thought it best to split this up into a few pieces. Deciding where to break it apart was difficult, however I feel that we accomplished this so that one can read a part and contiue the next one without a refresher. Just the same, there will be links to each previous piece as the come out. I hope you enjoy!

The next scene reveals the Agents, led by the sinister Agent Smith, torturing Morpheus. Agent Smith reveals that they attempted to make the first version of the Matrix as a perfect world for humans, but that we wouldn’t accept it. He goes on to call humanity a virus and a disease and that the machines are the cure. Neo, realizes that he has to go back into the Matrix in order to save Morpheus, instead of killing him to protect Zion. Trinity pulls rank on Neo and says she’s going with him. Meanwhile, Smith is alone with Morpheus. He states his desire to get out of the Matrix because of how much he abhors humanity.

Trinity and Neo break into a secure building in order to steal a helicopter. After some out of this world gymnastic tricks and gun play in the building’s lobby, they make it to the elevator which they take to the roof. Trinity gets to the helicopter and downloads the program to teach her how to fly it, while Neo dodges all of the bullets of an agent that shows up. As an aside, this bullet dodging scene is now repeated in some form as an homage in many movies that follow it. Trinity and Neo board the helicopter, and rescue Morpheus. They then make it to an exit in a subway, where Morpheus and Trinity are able to escape. Agent Smith shows up, and he and Neo battle. Neo defeats Smith, but Smith is able to change his form into another person nearby before getting killed. Smith then re-appears and Neo runs for his life.

Neo makes it to room ‘303’ at the ‘Heart o’ the City’ Motel, where he is ambushed and killed by Agent Smith. In the meantime, the machines have located the Nebuchadnezzar and have sent their Sentinels to destroy it. The Sentinels are cutting into the hull of the ship, and Trinity confesses that Neo can’t be dead. She was told by the Oracle that she would fall in love with the ‘One’, and that she loves Neo. With her confession, Neo arises from death. He now sees the Matrix in code, and he’s able to manipulate it at will. He stops bullets in midair, and dives into Agent Smith. Smith then starts to overload, and explodes with a scream. The other agents flee, and Neo escapes the Matrix, allowing the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar to employ the EMP device. The movie ends with Neo issuing a warning to the machines from a phone booth. He flies up into the camera which is placed overhead, and the movie ends.


Neo in essence becomes a Fellowcraft upon his second foray into the Matrix to rescue Morpheus. Fellowcraft masons during their degree are shown a representation of the Middle Chamber of the Temple of Solomon. They are taught about the liberal arts and sciences. They are given more responsibility. This is mimicked by Neo, who upon his second entry in the Matrix, is able to better manipulate his surroundings. He is still lead by a true and trusty guide in the form of Trinity, but he is able to perform superhuman feats like dodging bullets.

The end of the movie shows Neo as taking the place of Hiram Abiff. Like Hiram, Neo is confronted by 3 agents (ruffians). Agent Smith, who plays the role of Jubelum as the head agent, kills him. Like the phoenix however, Neo is reborn. Neo is raised from the grave by the utterance of a specific word or phrase, and he is now a Master of the Matrix. A brother who portrays Hiram Abiff in the 3rd Degree is raised as a Master Mason and given a specific word or phrase. Much like the newly raised Neo is able to go on to have further adventures inside the Matrix, the new Master Mason is now able to go on to have further Masonic opportunities by joining the York Rite, Scottish Rite, or any of the other appendant bodies.

There are many themes in the Matrix that are worth observing from an esoteric perspective, the movie is steeped in Gnostic themes. There is also philosophical theme regarding the nature of reality which is alluded to by the inclusion of Baudrillard’s Treatise, Simulacra & Simulation, in the movie. The work, which is best known for its discussion of symbols, signs and how they relate to simultaneous existences. There are also some odd coincidences like Neo’s passport expiring on 9/11/2001, even though the movie opened in theaters in 1999, and was filmed in 1998. I tried only to capture what I felt were some of the Masonic themes in the movie. I’m sure I may have missed some.   I’d welcome other’s opinions on the movie as well. What did I miss? What do you think I misinterpreted? Let me know.

-DAL
WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. When he’s not busy enjoying Masonic fellowship, Darin spends his time as a DM for his children’s D&D campaign, reading, golfing, watching movies and listening to music. You can reach him by email at darin.lahners@gmail.com.

My Brother's Wife

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM


“Because she is my brother’s wife.” my dad said to my mother in a quiet, firm voice. “No, she isn’t.”, my mother said in the voice she used on me when I was in trouble “She is just the wife of some guy in that lodge of yours.”

The house was still except for the argument which my Mom and dad were having in the kitchen. I was sitting in our living room across from an elderly lady, who sat on our sofa. She looked like someone’s grandma except, she looked really tired and sickly. I wasn’t sure if she was crying into the handkerchief she held in her shaking hands over the words my mom and dad were saying or if it was something else that had this poor old lady upset. All I knew was at the tender age of ten, it was something that shook me to my very core and something I knew I would never forget.

~~~~

Earlier that day, I was in the car with my father as he was driving into town to buy my mother’s Christmas present. The inside of the car was toasty warm and comfortable as I snuggled into the leather car seat. Dad was busy streaming Christmas music through the car from his smartphone. The setting sun made the snow flurries look like they were magical elves dancing in the air as our car navigated the snowy roads to the local mall.

I was awakened by my Yuletide fantasy as I felt dad slowing the car as he made a turn down an unfamiliar long driveway. As Dad put the car in park, I looked at our destination. “I decided I need to make a stop before we get to the mall.”, he said as he started to remove his seat belt. I removed my seat belt and opened the door to follow him.

As we walked up to the house I began to get scared. This place we were at looked like a haunted house. The paint on the house was peeling off and I could hear the wind banging one of the houses shudders back and forth against a broken window. The wind was also blowing the limbs on the leafless trees surrounding this poor old house. I couldn’t understand why he stopped at some scary place like this. I mean, it was Christmas Eve, not Halloween. I took my dad’s hand and hid behind him as he knocked on the house’s door.

After several minutes the door opened slowly. Standing at the threshold was this little old lady. The poor lady had a confused look on her face and I’m sure if I was a little older I would have noticed she had a cautious look as she said in a frail voice “Can I help you, sir?”

“Mary, you may not remember me but my name is Lee Hamilton, I’m a member of Norman’s Masonic lodge.” Mary smiled frailly “Please come in.” I could feel the wind blowing through the house as we entered into the building.

“I’m sorry it’s so cold. I’m not used to having guests.” Mary said as I sat down on a broken chair. “The furnace went out about a year ago and I haven’ been able to afford a new one. Honestly, it doesn’t make sense to put one in any way. One of these days a good strong breeze will blow the house down anyway.” Mary said in a quiet voice. “It’s not too bad, I cover up with lots of blankets and it makes the place nice and cozy.” she said.

My father seemed shocked at the state of her home “I wish I knew you were having problems with your heating. Did you ever try to contact the lodge?” Mary looked down at her lap “I did a few years ago when I still had a telephone.” I tried, but no matter what time of day or night I tried to call I always got an answering machine. Sometimes I would leave a message but no one ever called me back. I figured it had been so many years since my Norman passed away the members didn’t remember him anymore so I gave up.” I read in the paper that the lodge was busy raising thousands of dollars to give scholarships to high school kids and other fundraisers to buy glasses for children. I just assumed they were too busy helping others in the community than to worry about me." Mary began to get choked up and reached for an old handkerchief.

Tears feel down the elderly ladies face as she continued “I get along ok. I get some money from Social Security every month and I have a part time job as a cashier at a small grocery store. The job is a blessing because my employee discount on groceries makes my food stamps last nearly the entire month. Luckily it’ Sonny’s about a mile away so it isn’t far to walk to get to work. I can’t drive anymore so I walk. Sometimes the manager of the store will drive me home. He also carries in my groceries.”

I was really getting nervous because I could see tears starting to fall from my Dads eyes. Dad always seemed like such a big, tough guy I never thought anything could make him cry.

In a quiet voice he said, “Mary, what are you doing for Christmas dinner?” Mary raised her head, trying to hide her emotions “Well the kids are so busy they can’t be here this year. They all have their own lives and my Grandchildren. They all live so far away I imagine they won’t make it. They haven’t been here for years now. I think they forgot about me.” Her hands were shaking as she continued “ I don’t need a lot. I have a brand new jar of peanut butter I’ve been saving and saltine crackers. At my age, you don’t need a lot to live on”. Mary began staring off into space. I’m not sure if she was trying to convince herself what she was saying was real or whether she was thinking about a Christmas time along ago and a time of happier memories.

Dad used the sleeve of his coat to wipe the tears from his eyes. You could tell he was trying to steady himself as he found his voice. “Mary, there is no way I’m leaving you here in this condition. Please gather some clothes together and come spend the holiday with us. I won’t take no for an answer. We have plenty, actually more than we really need. You are welcome to stay with us.”

~~~~~

I could hear my folks still discussing the current situation as Mary rose from our couch and slowly started walking toward my parents who were in the kitchen. “Please, Mister Hamilton, please take me home. The last thing I want to do is cause a family to fight, especially on Christmas Eve. I’ve lived in that house in its current condition for quite a few years. I want you to have a happy Christmas. One thing this old lady has learned through many years of living is once your family is gone all you have left is memories and they should be happy memories.”

I noticed my mom began to sob as my Dad said: “Mary there is no way. I could never have a happy memory of this Christmas if I knew you were freezing in an unheated house living on crackers.”

Dad continued “To be honest I’m actually ashamed of myself for waiting all these years to visit you and not upholding my Masonic obligation to you and now I wonder how many of our widows who we have allowed to live in such a state. Especially when we have raised tens of thousands of dollars to fund projects which have nothing to do with our Masonic obligations. You are going to stay here in our guest room until we can figure out what it will take to fix your house and make sure you never want for food or shelter ever again.”

Everyone in the room looked at my mother for her decision. Even at my young age, my mom felt bad at the thought of sending this woman back to her shack with no food. “Well,” mom said in a quiet voice, “I can see that this means a lot to Lee and we have plenty of room and definitely more than enough food for all of us. I have to say please stay.” Tears ran down the faces of both women as they embraced. “I bet you could use a nice warm bath and then we will get you some clean clothes. I hope you like roast chicken, I’ve been cooking all day.” The old lady smiled “I do and it would be an honor if you would let me help you cook tomorrow.”

Later that night I was hiding at the top of the stairs trying to stay awake long enough to get a glimpse of Santa Claus. Mom and dad were in the living room staring into a roaring fire in the fireplace. I saw Dad lean over and kiss my mother’s cheek. “What’s that for?” Mom said with a smile on her face My Dad smiled and said “For allowing Mary to stay here with us. I know that couldn’t be easy for you.” “It wasn’t but I could see if your face how important it was to you and I couldn’t, in good conscience send her back to a place that sounds so horrible. I just hope you can help her.” “I only have one regret.” Dad said.

“In all of this excitement with Mary I never got your Christmas gift.” He added with a slight hesitation. Mom just snuggled into Dads’ shoulder “That’s okay babe. I’m a lucky girl. I have everything I will ever need or want. Just having a good, caring man like you is gift enough.” Mom added “I do have one question. What made you stop by her house in the first place?” Dad took a deep breath “Honestly, I can’t tell you why. I was just driving down the road and then all of a sudden this voice told me to stop the car and pay a visit to Mary. Maybe it was Norman sending me a message from the Grand Lodge above.” my dad said with a chuckle.

Over the next few weeks the members of the lodge inspected Mary’s little home and sadly the place was so disheveled, it could not be saved. The lodge, with Mary’s consent, arranged for her to have a room at the Grand lodge’s Masonic home. Mary thrived in her new environment. She gained weight from the nutritious food served to her and she developed a glow as she met new friends and lived the rest of her life in a safe, warm environment with plenty of love and happiness.

Finding Mary living in such a disheveled condition acted as a wakeup call to Dad's little lodge. Dad used to the lodge’s next stated meeting as “The night the lodge quit making Masons and began to practice Freemasonry.”

Dad would always say, “There was a lot of apron gazing that night as the Brethren hung their heads in shame. Especially from the row of Past Masters who not only knew Mary’s husband but never thought to check on his widow, and all the other lodge widows for so many years. Needless to say, the Brethren worked hard and each took a solemn vow (Or reaffirmed their original Master Mason obligation) to care for each other’s widows and orphans.

~~~~~

“Johnny, were ready to start.” the Master of the lodge said to me as I heard the old tune “Solemn strikes the funeral chimes”. Standing here at my father’s coffin brought all those memories of that Christmas back to me from so long ago. I was told by the lodge I didn’t have to be a part of Dad's Masonic memorial service. I just felt like I should be there, following in his footsteps as a member of his lodge. Standing here holding Dad's apron and a sprig of evergreen reminded me of my new obligation to my own mother, as well as those other ladies. I just hope Dad is looking down and smiling at me, as the man that Freemasonry taught me to be.

~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.

Admiration Royal Arch Chapter Meeting

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott



On November 30, 2017 Admiration Chapter No. 282 held our first regular meeting since receiving our charter earlier this fall. This meeting was the first one in putting into action all the work that had been done over the last three years of working towards our goal of a charter.

At a time when so many other Masonic bodies are barely holding on, we seemed to have found a formula that is working. We provide members something of value and a reason to come to our meetings.

Sure, we must take care of the business at hand, but this is done quickly and efficiently. We didn’t start a new Chapter just for another opportunity to read the minutes. At our last meeting Brian Pettice, who was one of the key organizers of Admiration Chapter, reviewed the original mission, vision and goals for Admiration. Brian also read an email I had put together back in January 2015 with some of my thoughts on what new Royal Arch Chapter could be.

These are the points I listed in my original email to several brothers:

· I want to be part of an organization that has as its primary core values and seeks to exemplify, our core Masonic values, brotherly love, relief and truth.

· I have no interest in another organization that simply reads the minutes and pays the bills. We have plenty of these already. While the business matters of a Chapter are important, they shouldn't be the primary focus of meetings.

· Focus on quality meetings, not quantity of meetings.

· An organization that does not accept mediocrity, but rather strives for excellence in our relations with each other, our exemplification of degrees and our service to Freemasonry.

· A Chapter that has education as a primary means of sharing with its members, the lessons of Freemasonry, thus providing a means for its members to not only learn, but the opportunity to share in the educational opportunities as both student and teacher.

· An expectation that members of the Chapter will share in the obligations of Masonic Education.

· Utilizes the dining room for fellowship and gathering.

· Civility - I think much of our culture has lost the principal of civility. I see it in on-line forums, on the campuses where I spend time, in our government and elsewhere. We as Freemasons have a long history of exemplifying civility. I would challenge a new Chapter to not only exemplify civility within the Chapter, but provide leadership throughout Freemasonry and within our communities on the topic of civility. I think we have a real opportunity with this topic.

One area I am especially proud is our work in Masonic Education. Several Companions have given presentations and we have held facilitated discussions on topics such as civility and honor. It has been rewarding in listening to the Companions engage in these discussions. I have learned something on every topic we have had.

We are preparing for our second annual St. John’s celebration on December 27, where fellowship and education will be the focus, with the companions gathered in our dining room. If you have never held such an event, I encourage you to start one.
Admiration Chapter is just getting started.

~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.
















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1.)  We will not post comments that have anything to do with the Illuminati or that express anti-Masonic conspiracy theories.  There are plenty of websites out there like that, but we won’t be posting that nonsense here.

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We also reserve the right to refuse to post comments for any other reason we deem appropriate. Although these comments will never be posted or seen by the readers of the Midnight Freemasons, we do in every case report abusers and provide copies of the SPAM to Google.

For the rest of our readers, please keep the comments coming.  We enjoy reading them, and responding to them!

~Todd E. Creason

Masonic Symbolism in the Matrix Part 3

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darrin A. Lahners


*Editors Note* WB Lahners originally sent this to me in one post. I thought it best to split this up into a few pieces. Deciding where to break it apart was difficult, however I feel that we accomplished this so that one can read a part and contiue the next one without a refresher. Just the same, there will be links to each previous piece as the come out. I hope you enjoy!



Trinity then brings Neo some dinner and he overhears them speaking about a person called the Oracle. Neo then re-enters the construct and he is introduced to what Agents are. He learns the hard way that a sexy woman in a red dress could really be an agent in disguise. Morpheus explains that everyone that has stood and fought an agent has perished, but because he’s the one, Neo will be different. Neo is different because the agents are still part of the Matrix, and bound by the rules of the system, but he is not bound by the same rules. Once again, whereas the entered apprentice is taught lessons about how a Mason should conduct his life, Neo is taught how to conduct his behavior while inside the Matrix.

The lesson is interrupted by a machine called a sentinel that hunts down humans in the service tunnels they use to hide in and plug into the Matrix from. The Sentinel is handled by having the ship emit an Electro-Magnetic Pulse, which fries the electronics of the Sentinel. Neo then has a philosophical discussion with Cypher about the nature of him being the ‘One’ over some moonshine. This segways to a scene with Cypher inside the Matrix where he is having a dinner with Agent Smith.   Cypher wants to be put back into the Matrix because he says: “Ignorance is Bliss.” In return, he promises Agent Smith that he’ll deliver Morpheus to him.

Morpheus announces to the crew that Neo is ready to see the Oracle. In Greek mythology, the oracles were people (usually female) who provided wise and prophetic counsel, inspired by the Gods. Neo and the gang enter the Matrix. Cypher drops a cell phone into a trash can upon his arrival to give away his position to the agents. Neo is brought to the Oracle by Morpheus. Neo is brought into a living room with a bunch of other potential ‘Ones’. All of them are children, who are doing things like levitating building blocks or bending a spoon. The one bending the spoon reminds Neo that bending the spoon is impossible, because there is not a spoon, but that the self must bend. Neo goes into the kitchen to meet the Oracle who is an old woman baking cookies. She examines Neo and tells him that he’s not "the One."   She explains that he has potential, but that he’s waiting for something.

There are two things that stand out in this scene from a Masonic standpoint. The Oracle references a sign above the doorway of the kitchen that has the Latin phrase : ‘Temet Nosce’. She asks Neo if he knows what the sign means, and he turns to look at the sign. As he turns the doorway comes into view, revealing it to be adorned with the double headed eagle of the Scottish Rite. The sign: ‘Temet Nosce’ is the Latin translation of the Greek Delphic maxim: ‘Know Thyself.’ Knowing oneself is a theme that is alluded to in Masonry, but never strictly spoken about. The working tools of the Entered Apprentice are all designed to help the EA know himself. The lecture and the charges of the EA degree also serve this purpose as well, to help to direct the new brother look inward, instead of outward.

Once Neo and Morpheus make it back to the rest of the group, they go to make their escape from the Matrix. Neo has a case of Déjà Vu which means that something has been changed inside the Matrix. The trap that Cypher has set by leading the agents to his location is sprung. The crew finds themselves surrounded by Agents and one of their group, ‘Mouse’, is killed. The rest of the crew almost gets away by climbing through the walls, but Cypher intentionally sneezes to give away their location. Morpheus, still believing Neo to be the ‘One’, sacrifices himself to allow him to escape.

Cypher has somehow made it out of the Matrix and attacks Dozer and Tank with a giant lightning like weapon. Dozer and Tank are incapacitated, and Cypher taunts the rest of the crew who are waiting to escape the Matrix. He methodically kills both Switch and Apoc. He asks Trinity about pulling the plug on Neo, stating that if Neo is truly the one, it shouldn’t matter if he unplugs him. Trinity obviously cares about Neo, and this has made Cypher jealous. Cypher is about to unplug Neo when Tank arises and surprises Cypher, killing him with the same weapon he used against him.

To be continued...

Next week will conclude the series and ultimately reveal what the symbolism within the final moments of The Matrix mean! Don't miss it. Come back next Friday!

~DAL

WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. When he’s not busy enjoying Masonic fellowship, Darin spends his time as a DM for his children’s D&D campaign, reading, golfing, watching movies and listening to music. You can reach him by email at darin.lahners@gmail.com.

My Twelve Years As A Master Mason

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°



I received a card in the mail yesterday from the Grand Lodge of Illinois, A. F. & A. M. I get one every year, congratulating me on my anniversary as a Master Mason. It’s been twelve years. 

Sometimes that seems like a long time to me, and other times it seems like a very short time. Without a doubt, the event marked a very significant change in my life. It changed the way I thought about myself. It changed the way I thought about others. It changed the way I viewed my place in the world. 

Twelve years ago, when I was raised a Master Mason, I’d never published a book. I’ve now published six, and working on a seventh. I don’t recall even knowing what a blog was, let alone write one—now I’m known as the Founder of one of the largest and most successful blogs out there on the topic of Freemasonry. Twelve years ago, I was a history enthusiast—I enjoyed reading and learning about history. You certainly wouldn’t call me a researcher, or a scholar, or a Fellow. Twelve years ago I was living a very average and very routine life as a university accountant.  I can’t even begin to list the experiences I’ve had over the last 12 years that have been anything but routine. I was happy twelve years ago, but I wasn’t content. 

I joined because I was looking for something. Something I didn’t have in my life, and something I’m not even sure I could’ve defined then if you’d asked me. I was looking for a deeper meaning and a greater purpose. 

I joined for a lot of reasons. I was fascinated by Freemasonry from a historical perspective, and I wanted to become part of something with such a long history, and that has preserved so much of its historic roots. I wanted to improve myself, and I knew that the tenants of Freemasonry had long helped to build men of good character. I wanted to find ways to meaningfully contribute to my community. And I’ve always been kind of a strange dude, and I wanted to find a place where I could feel at home. I thought I was a little odd, but the weirdos I’ve found and become friends with in this Fraternity make me seem almost normal—a few of them write for the Midnight Freemasons. I would just say, that the Fraternity’s long tradition of attracting freethinkers is not exaggerated—our ranks are full of marvelously unique and talented individuals as it always has been.  I'd say one of the most significant changes Freemasonry has made in me, is that I no longer see myself as a solo act--I'm just one part of a much larger team now. 

I certainly found what I was looking for. Boy, did I find it! On December 10th, 2005, everything changed for me. It’s never been the same since. My only regret is that I didn’t find Freemasonry in 1995, or maybe 1985. It’s easy to look around the world today and find the things that are wrong with it. What you’ll find in our Fraternity are men who see the good that still remains in the world, and they work to build on those things—one man at a time. I plan to spend my anniversary as a Freemason in much the same way I do every year—my Lodge is hosting a 2nd Degree tonight. Maybe I’ll see you there. 

~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.  He is a Past 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

An Old Friend Returns

by Midnight Freemason Managing Editor
Robert H. Johnson


When I became a Freemason back in 2007 (became an EA), I was a hard working guy who worked with my hands, winter or summer, cold or hot. I was outside 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. This is no big deal to many of you reading this, as I'm sure many of you are the same. When I finally became a Master Mason, I was still in that job and I wanted ring, but one that would withstand ANYTHING.

Enter the world of stainless steel rings. The market is flush with them now, but back then, there was really one dude who was the genesis of the trend, Bro. Gordon Spurlock. My lodge had a custom ring with him, and it was only $100. I know, now days, you can get a ring for about $25 if you really want to.

But this one was made by a bro, cut from steel, hollowed, ground, and the individual iconography placed and glued by hand. I liked that touch. I bought it and wore it every day. It had been "gold fired" as well, but that wore off after a year. That thing got beat to hell on the regular. Being steel, it even saved my finger from a few incidents.

About three years ago I started a new gig and started working in the office. I became a little more Masonic, I gained weight. All kidding aside, that ring became too tight to wear. Being steel, I can't resize it either. Insert long story about inspirational healthy living here. I was walking around the house last week and my current ring was noticeably loose. I thought, "Huh, I wonder if my old ring would fit again."

Turns out, it did. I smiled, and kept it on. It's nice to have it back.

Oh, I almost forgot, "Points Out" ;)

~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.



Masonic Symbolism in the Matrix Part 2


by Midnight Freemason Contributor

WB Darrin A. Lahners



*Editors Note* WB Lahners originally sent this to me in one post. I thought it best to split this up into a few pieces. Deciding where to break it apart was difficult, however I feel that we accomplished this so that one can read a part and contiue the next one without a refresher. Just the same, there will be links to each previous piece as the come out. I hope you enjoy!

After taking the red pill, Neo is brought to another room and hooked up to electrodes. He begins to see the façade of the fake reality of the Matrix collapse. He awakes in a pod attached to wires and pulls a hose out of his throat. He looks around and sees thousands of other people in similar pods. A giant flying apparatus comes and grabs Neo by the throat with one arm. Another arm unplugs Neo and he’s flushed down a tube. He’s picked up by a giant metal claw and brought into a ship.

After his rescue, and his recuperation, Neo is literally brought to light by Morpheus. Morpheus explains that Neo is on a hover ship called the Nebuchadnezzar and that the actual year is around 2199, instead of 1999. He introduces Neo to the crew of the ship, and he and Neo enter into a program called a ‘Construct’, in which Morpheus explains the nature of reality and the Matrix.

It is at this point, that Neo is brought to light. He was in darkness (ignorance) of the nature of the Matrix, but Morpheus serving as the defacto Worshipful Master brings him to light (knowledge) by giving him the nature of reality and the Matrix. Also interestingly, the ship that Morpheus pilots is named after the King who destroyed King Solomon’s Temple.

Neo is unfortunately unable to handle the nature of reality and gets violently ill. Morpheus explains that it was risky for him to rescue Neo because of his age. He explains that it’s difficult for the brain to adjust once it has been in the Matrix for long period of time. He explains that he believes that Neo is ‘the One’ who is prophesied to save the human race. Neo then gets to have a discussion with Tank, who teaches Neo about Zion, which is the last human settlement buried deep underground. Zion refers to a hill in Jerusalem which was located south of Mount Moriah, but later became a metonym for King Solomon’s Temple. Esoterically, Zion is the point in the holy of holies located in King Solomon’s Temple from which reality emerges.

Neo then sits down in a chair and plugs into the mainframe construct. At this point, Tank goes through the process of uploading certain knowledge directly into Neo’s brain. The first thing he uploads into Neo is a ju-jitsu program, to which Neo remarks: ‘I know Kung-Fu.’ He then faces off against Morpheus in the construct. Morpheus defeats him because Neo doesn’t understand that he can manipulate the simulation. He’s not bound by any real physics. He can run faster, jump further, etc. Tank then loads up a program where Neo is forced to jump from the roof of one skyscraper to another. Once again, Neo’s ability to not understand that he’s not in a real place causes him to fail. He falls and when he lands he notices blood coming from his nose. He then learns that the mind cannot exist without the body, so if the mind dies in the Matrix, then you die in the real world. 

In Masonic terms, Neo is an entered apprentice. Like the candidate who is taught about what constitutes a lodge in his explanatory degree, Neo is taught about what constitutes the Matrix. However, he is still just taking his first steps in this new world of the real as well as understanding the new knowledge of the Matrix as being a facsimile of what was real. 

To be continued....

Next week Neo visits the Oracle! What happens and what symbolism will be revealed? Come back next week to find out!

~DAL

WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. When he’s not busy enjoying Masonic fellowship, Darin spends his time as a DM for his children’s D&D campaign, reading, golfing, watching movies and listening to music. You can reach him by email at darin.lahners@gmail.com.


Respect

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


Recently Brother Greg Knott wrote an article for this blog about a Medal of Honor. He described the respect he had for the man who earned it and, in fact, for the medal itself. It brought to mind something I saw years ago which has stayed with me and been a reminder that such items should be handled with the care and respect they demand:

I was working on installing a system in a large metropolitan bank's safekeeping department. The executive offices there were glass-walled and I saw a group inside one standing around something a customer had brought in for storage. I went over for a closer look and saw they were inspecting a violin — a Stradivarius violin. To date myself, this was back when employees could smoke in offices; and there stood one of the execs leaning over the priceless instrument with a lit cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Not only that, the butt had a long trail of ashes on the front which, predictably, dropped onto the violin. He brushed the ashes off and the gang continued gawking. I was stunned they could treat such an incredible piece so carelessly.
Over the years I've had occasion to see some pretty significant Masonic memorabilia. Many times when I've had "hands-on" access I think of that little scenario in the bank and remind myself to take the utmost care with the item.

I've seen many such items at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. The staff there "bends over backwards" to dig out documents and artifacts for researchers. White gloves are the order of the day as researchers go through the precious treasure trove of Brother Truman's life.

On one occasion I was there researching the well-documented account of the President's visit to Beech Grove Lodge in Indiana. While on his Whistle-Stop tour in 1948, Truman evaded the press and much of his traveling party to attend a meeting at that Lodge and raise a Brother who worked for him. At the close of the meeting he asked if he could keep the apron he had worn as a souvenir.

As the staff at the Truman Library gathered items relating to that visit, one of the artifacts turned out to be that apron. I was mesmerized as I looked at it. I felt as if I was in the presence of the President himself. Unable to resist, I broke one of the Library's rules. I slipped off my glove and…

I touched it.

I probably shouldn't have done it, but something inside me just wanted that connection with the historic apron. I don't think I hurt it at all. It didn't seem the same as dumping a pile of cremated tobacco onto a Stradivarius. What's more, I'm not sorry. I would do it again — guilty as charged. I didn't do it maliciously.

I did it out of respect

~SLH

Bro. Steve Harrison, 33° , is Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is also a Fellow and Past Master of the Missouri Lodge of Research. Among his other Masonic memberships are the St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite bodies, and Moila Shrine. He is also 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. Brother Steve was Editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine for a decade and is a regular contributor to the Whence Came You podcast. Born in Indiana, he has a Master's Degree from Indiana University and is retired from a 35 year career in information technology. Steve and his wife Carolyn reside in northwest Missouri. He is the author of dozens of magazine articles and three books: Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, Freemasons — Tales From the Craft and Freemasons at Oak Island.

The Curator Series Goes YouTube

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RW Robert H. Johnson

"RJ, when will you publish a podcast daily?" I've had to answer that question numerous times. I wish I could do this, but simply stated, I just can't do it without being employed as a full time content creator. That's just the way it goes sometimes. But you know, sometimes we do have *some* extra time, and with a little effort, maybe we could do a new project.

I started thinking a few weeks ago after WB Dueball wrote a piece about all the knickknacks we tend to collect over time as Masons. I thought, some of these things have a history to tell and many have little stories about how they were acquired. What if we told those stories a few times a week? So, I decided to go for it. Just like many of you, I have tons of Masonic things; certificates, medals, pins, skulls, pictures, plates, carvings, and more. A while back (a couple years) I started a series on the Midnight Freemasons that attempted, every once in a while, to showcase something in my collection in an article, one such piece is HERE.

I only wrote a few of these pieces, not because I was bored or I found it difficult, but I just had so much stuff. What would I pick next? So I decided it was time to just start a new venture. If you've already found the new show "The Curators" on YouTube, great! If not, have look. The goal is to have a few videos a week published, each one about a different item. I'll tell you the history, what it means to me, and in some cases, what it means symbolically. I'll tell you the story of how I cam across them too.

It's also my hope that when I meet Brothers on the road, if they have something unique, we can do an episode right there, live. Ah yes, the beauty of smartphones! Before I close out this little announcement, I want to throw a thanks out there to Bro. Alex Powers of the Historical Light podcast. I had this little idea and went to him to ask his opinion and to see if he felt it was a good concept. He cheered me on and has been an inspiration. Thanks, Alex! I also need to thank all the writers of this blog for their tireless work in telling stories and sharing history with us all. If you like what you see, please subscribe to the new channel. The new site is HERE.




~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.

Masonic Symbolism in the Matrix Part 1

by Midnight Freemason Contributor 
WB Darin A. Lahners




*Editors Note* WB Lahners originally sent this to me in one post. I thought it best to split this up into a few pieces. Deciding where to break it apart was difficult, however I feel that we accomplished this so that one can read a part and contiue the next one without a refresher. Just the same, there will be links to each previous piece as they come out. I hope you enjoy!

The 1999 movie, The Matrix, directed by the Wachowski siblings, is one of the most influential movies of the past 20 years. It popularized the effect known as ‘Bullet Time’, which is now a mainstay in almost every Hollywood blockbuster. It is also one of the deepest when it comes to esoteric symbols, philosophical ideas, and religious constructs. There is also a Masonic Allegory at play. If you have never seen The Matrix, this is your warning that there are Spoilers Ahead.

The film centers on the character of Thomas Anderson, aka as Neo, his hacker name. Neo is a shortened version of the word: Neophyte. A neophyte is a new member of a fraternity, a new convert to a religion, or a novice in a religious order. The film begins with the characters of Trinity and Cypher discussing watching him [Neo], and paranoid about the line being tapped. The screen morphs into the binary code of ones and zeros. We next see Trinity in a room at a run-down hotel, named “Heart O’ the City”, in room “303”. Of course, one could draw the conclusion that this is an allusion to the 33 degrees of Scottish Rite Masonry. The number 33 has special meaning, as Manly P. Hall states in 'The Secret Teachings of All Ages', “Alchemy is a threefold art, its mystery well symbolized by a triangle. Its symbol is 3 times 3--three elements or processes in three worlds or spheres. The 3 times 3 is part of the mystery of the 33rd degree of Freemasonry, for 33 is 3 times 3, which is 9, the number of esoteric man and the number of emanations from the root of the Divine Tree.” Trinity, whose name literally evokes the number 3, could be thought of being a senior member of the order to which Neo is on the threshold of joining, which Masonically would represent as a Master Mason in the Blue Lodge. 

The symbol of the Scottish Rite is the double headed eagle, with one head looking left and the other looking right. The Valley of Reading’s website eloquently defines its meaning: ‘Generally, the symbolic meaning of this symbol in the Scottish Rite is that of duality contained in or resolving itself in unity. Among other things, it reminds us that as man we are composed of both body and spirit, that he is both temporary and eternal; that both good and evil exist in the world and that we must perpetually espouse good while opposing evil. It also reminds us that knowledge comes both from study and insight; and that our obligations are both to ourselves and to others; that both faith and reason are necessary.’ It has also been associated with the idea of the mythical phoenix. The phoenix is a bird in Greek mythology which cyclically regenerated or reborn. The idea of the phoenix will make sense at the end of the movie.

Trinity is able to escape from the room 303 after being chased across rooftops by the sinister Agents, led by Agent Smith. The next scene reveals to the viewer, Neo. Neo has a belief that something is wrong with the world, and is led to believe that there is something called ‘The Matrix’ from his online encounters. He is told via computer to follow the white rabbit, which appears in tattoo form on the body of one of his hacker clients’ girlfriends. He is lead to a club by the girlfriend, who introduces him to Trinity. Trinity explains that a man named Morpheus can explain everything to him.

Morpheus makes contact with Neo at his office as the agents close in on him, but Neo is unable to make the Kierkegaardian leap of faith to reach him. He’s subsequently detained by the agents, who implant a tracking device in him. Morpheus contacts Neo again, and instructs him to meet him. Neo is picked up in an automobile by Morpheus associates, and the tracking device is removed by his associates. He is brought to Morpheus who is located in a building with the checkered black and white flooring of the Masonic Lodge. Morpheus sits in a stiff armchair, and Neo is seated across from him. Morpheus tells Neo that explaining the Matrix is impossible, and that Neo will need to see it for himself. He is given a choice of taking a red pill and learning about the Matrix, or taking a blue pill which will lead him back to his normal life. Neo takes the red pill, and his journey to the unknown begins.

Neo in this scene is allegorically undergoing a masonic degree of sorts. He is in darkness (ignorance) of the nature of the Matrix. He seeks knowledge (light) of what it is. Morpheus, who is named after the Greek God of Dreams, offers Neo this knowledge but only of his own free will and accord by taking the red pill. If Neo refuses, he would be given the blue pill, which serves as the cable tow by which Neo would be pulled from the Lodge (represented by the checkerboard floor of the building) over which Morpheus presides as Worshipful Master in his chair.


To be continued...

Next week we'll dive into just what happens when Neo takes the pill and what it all means symbolically! Come back next week!


~DAL

WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. When he’s not busy enjoying Masonic fellowship, Darin spends his time as a DM for his children’s D&D campaign, reading, golfing, watching movies and listening to music. You can reach him by email at darin.lahners@gmail.com.

Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction Looks Forward

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott


Illustrious John Wm. McNaughton 33°, the immediate Past Sovereign Grand Commander of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (AASR-NMJ) has written a new book titled Reclaiming the Soul of Freemasonry. It is available online in the Scottish Rite store or on Amazon in the Kindle version.

Brother McNaughton lays out his opinions on the current state of Freemasonry and in the forward writes:

“Today, many Masonic leaders no longer prioritize the same lofty ideals as did our forefathers. Focus has turned from the timeless principles of our craft to the ephemeral practice of arbitrarily enforcing rules and regulations. It is painful to think about what happened to the golden age of Freemasonry, when our members cared more about each other than about edicts and procedures. Today, it seems that some leaders of the fraternity are more concerned about the needs of the institution than the needs of the members. Buildings come first. Ritual comes first. Procedures come first. Everything but our obligation to each other has been given priority.”

In many ways, I believe McNaughton is spot on with this assessment. Think about the meetings of your local lodge or appendant bodies. What percentage of time is spent on topics such as the roof on the building, planning the pancake breakfast or reading the mail? What percentage of your meeting is spent on education? My bet in 99% of the cases is that education is a very small part, if any of your meeting.

AASR-NMJ commissioned a study whose purpose was to examine the issues within the fraternity and solicit input from both members and non-members. The survey itself was not included in the book, but McNaughton makes several references to what was found.

He writes that the survey makes an examination of the Millennial and Boomer generations, finding both generations share similar priorities such as wanting to be part of organization that makes a difference and the desire to be heard and respected. Common shared values included loyalty, authenticity and equality.

The conclusion is drawn that the Boomer generation should be the target market for recruiting new members into Freemasonry. That by doing so will ignite a generational interest that will in time also attract the Millennial generation to also join.

The book then explores what the survey said was the right message to attract new men to Freemasonry. Respondents essentially said they were much more interested in an organization that espoused the values they stood for and not long dead historical Masons.

The internal membership survey asked what current Scottish Rite members expect from the fraternity. Three primary areas were identified: first was that Scottish Rite members want more interaction with their leadership, more engagement with one another, and the ability to dive deeper into the craft (education). Second members stated they wanted to see more modern communication methods to enhance the member experience. Finally, the biggest challenges facing the Scottish Rite are related to interpersonal conflicts. The last point is explored in detail.

Brother McNaughton then explores the topic of ritual memorization and its relationship to leadership within the fraternity. Does the ability to memorize equate to the value a member can bring to the fraternity? Again, he explores this at some length.

The book looks at technology, member education and the Scottish Rite membership’s desire to have more of both and integrated together. Not for supplanting social gatherings or interpersonal relationships, but to further build their individual masonic knowledge.

AASR-NMJ emphasizes brothers caring for one another, which McNaughton argues is a critical step into keeping our obligation and as a key element for attracting new members into our ranks. He concludes that it is this obligation that should be emphasized and that the survey results verify this is where the organization and Freemasonry should go.

I agree with much of what Brother McNaughton has written. However, I do have concerns that the Boomer generation should be the primary target of membership growth. While I agree that many in this age group may have more free time than younger generations who are engaged in careers and/or raising children, I personally have found that these groups are also ripe for membership growth.

It was unclear to me the role member education will play in attracting new members in the new plans, but I am hopeful it will be a center piece, not only for attracting new members, but also for the existing membership. I firmly believe that masonic education is vital to both attract and retain members not only in the Blue Lodge, but also in the local Scottish Rite Valley, where it is virtually non-existent today.

I concur with McNaughton in regard to ritual memorization. Yes, I understand that ritual when done right necessitates having the parts memorized. This has been a timeless means of portraying our degrees to the candidate. But too often the ability to memorize is considered the key attribute to providing leadership within Masonry. While I am impressed with the ability of those who can memorize long passages of ritual, I often wonder if they have any idea what it means.

Overall, I think this is a well written book. I have seen comments questioning the methodology of the membership survey and as stated earlier the detailed survey results are not included in the book. But I will reserve my final opinions until I have an opportunity to see what the AASR-NMJ will be rolling out. Without a doubt, there will be many critics of what comes forth and that is OK, good civil debate is sorely needed within our fraternity, especially about our future.

Regardless I think we owe Brother McNaughton a debt of thanks for getting this process started and sharing his thoughts on how the fraternity, both the Blue Lodge and Scottish Rite should go into the future.

He cares deeply about our fraternity and so do I.

~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.