What Is Masonic Education? Part 3


by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

Midnight Freemasons (L to R) Senior Contributor Greg Knott, Managing Editor Robert Johnson, and Founder Todd E. Creason
So in the first couple installments (which you'll find by clicking here), I've talked a lot about Masonic education.  The difference between Masonic education and ritual instruction.  I've talked about how providing meaningful Masonic education in your Lodges can solve a lot of the problems your Lodges are having with membership and money.  But now we're down to the big question.  How do we get it going?

Resistance

As with any new things you're going to want to do, you're going to encounter resistance to the idea.  You're going to have that group that doesn't want to do anything differently than they always have.  So go slow, don't ask for a help, and be willing to do the work yourself.  Because when it comes right down to it, most of the resistance you're going to encounter are going to come from members that simply don't want additional work or expense.  I'm sorry to say that so bluntly, but it is true. 

Just ask for ten minutes at the end of the meeting.  If you can't get that, ask for a few minutes in the dining hall before or after the meeting.  Then put together really, really interesting topics to present.  Don't waste that time by just reading an article from a Short Talk Bulletin, or from The Midnight Freemasons.  Put something together they are going to enjoy.  Something that is interesting to them.  This is sell job, so sell it.

Have you got one member a little more resistant than the others to change?  What's he interested in?  If I were you, I'd be putting something together that he's interested in, and then during the presentation, ask him if there is anything he'd like to add.  Do you see what I'm talking about now?  Go slow.  Start really small.  Don't waste the time you have. Sell it.

Birds Of A Feather

You're going to find others interested in what you're doing.  Recruit them.  Get them interesting in helping.  Get them interesting in presenting pieces during that ten minutes.  Make that ten minutes the ten minutes in that meeting that everyone looks forward to.  That's how the Midnight Freemasons started.  Just me.  Three days a week.  Lucky to get two or three hundred hits a day.  Just doing my thing, and then I found others.  There's now more than a dozen Midnight Freemasons, with over 2 million readers.

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You've heard the expression, "you give him an inch, and he'll take a foot."  That's me.  Always has been.  And if you want to get this going, that needs to be you as well.  Ask for a little more time once you get it going.  Ask if you can invite an outside speaker--maybe somebody from another Lodge.  Ask if you can advertise your topics and invite other Lodges to join your meetings so they can enjoy the presentations.  Again, don't waste that time, and take the time necessary to prepare really good presentations.  Offer to do the same in other local Lodges.  Let it be known you'll travel and do ten minutes wherever you're invited.  And you will be invited--I promise you that.


What You'll Soon Discover

If you're successful, those critics in the beginning will become your biggest fans.  They'll see more people attending meetings.  They'll enjoy the education you're providing.  You may even find the meetings go faster and are a little less tedious because because the members will be focused on getting to the education portion of the meeting.  That "education portion" of the meeting that was originally met with so much resistance will become the center of your meetings.  Your members will be talking about it, and as a result you may even receive new petitions.  Other members will begin having ideas about education in the Lodge.  We had a Trivia Night and we invited other Lodges to join us one evening--basically it was Jeopardy on Masonic topics.  It was very fun to do.  How about a symposium?  How about a table lodge?  Get ready, because if you can get through that initial resistance to change, you're going to find a very enthusiastic following, and no shortage of ideas.

Where Does It All Lead?

To better men--that's where.  That's our purpose, and the world has never been more in need of men of good character.  As a society, we don't teach values as well as we used to, and a Masonic Lodge should be a place where young men can come to learn those morals, values, and ethics that makes a young man a gentleman. 

To a more prosperous Lodge.  My Lodge has a museum.  We put that together to share the history of our Lodge, our historic building, as well as Freemasonry in general.  We have open houses every so often, and the community comes up and tours our museum and our building.  We have a young college student interested in joining our Lodge.  His aunt had arranged for him to tour the building five or six years ago when he was still in grade school.  He never forgot it.  I think we'll soon get a petition from him.

In my opinion, the education officer in the Lodge has one of the most important jobs there is.  If he does his job right, he can save a dying Lodge by bringing light back to the membership.  He can bring new energy and interest to the members.  There are libraries full of knowledge and teachings on the topic of Freemasonry.  It has intrigued and interested generations of men, and it still holds that power today if one person in every Lodge simply took an interest in it, and made it their job to bring it to their Brethren. 
One Last Story

A few weeks ago, I was the keynote speaker at a symposium put on by the Illinois Lodge of Research.  It was a well planned and well attended program.  The purpose of that program was two-fold really.  First, the Illinois Lodge of Research for all intensive purposes has been dormant for many years.  So that programs was kind of a coming back out party.  The second purpose was to rebuild the organization by rebuilding a core group of strong Masonic authors, researchers, scholars, and presenters. 

Now the Midnight Freemasons are not taking any direct credit for the resurgence of the Illinois Lodge of Research, but as I looked around the room, I realized the Midnight Freemasons influence was definitely there.  There were three Midnight Freemasons there presenting topics, and three additional Midnight Freemasons guest contributors in attendance--one of those played an integral role in planning and putting on the event!  The Master of the Illinois Lodge of Research, Jim Tome, is also the Most Excellent Grand High Priest of Illinois, and has been instrumental in helping us get a new education-based Chapter of the Royal Arch started in my Lodge in Homer, Illinois--Admiration Chapter.  He's been involved in much of what we're doing with Admiration Chapter, and he's seen a lot of what we've been doing with our Masonic Temple in Homer, Illinois.  And at the end of that symposium, Jim Tome announced where they'd like to hold the next symposium.  I'm sure you'll never guess.  At the Masonic Temple in Homer, Illinois.  The home of Admiration Chapter! 

So when I tell you to start small, don't think it's going to stay small.  It won't.  Like a snowball rolling down hill, you'll gain momentum, and the size will continue to grow.  Others will see what you're doing, and be inspired to start their own projects.  There is tremendous interest out there about Freemasonry, and if you teach it, and if you do a good job teaching it, you're going to find tremendous success.  So if you want to see change, you can't sit around waiting for somebody else to do it.  You have to be the change. 

Good luck, my Brothers!  Now get busy!  There's work to be done!

~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

Remembering Our Past Masters

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Adam Thayer, PM


Every year, on the Friday prior to Memorial Day, my lodge holds a ceremony in honor of our deceased past masters. Now, many lodges in my area pay tribute to the past masters of their lodge, however my lodge has developed a uniquely beautiful ceremony that honors our history and reminds us of those we have lost. I’ll include a copy of the script for the ceremony below, however first I would like to explain some of the set up for the ceremony and the traditions behind it, so that you may use this ceremony for your lodge if you choose.

Our past master’s event is arranged by the junior past master, although he is given the full support of the officer line in anything he may need. It begins with a nice dinner (usually one of the nicer dinners we hold for the year), and all members and their families are invited, as well as the widows of those past masters who are no longer with us. During the dinner, both the junior past master and the current Worshipful Master have an opportunity to speak, and if we’re very lucky we may also get to hand out an award for service; at this year’s dinner, I had the honor of presenting a member with his sixty year service award!

Following the dinner, we all retire to the larger of our two lodge rooms, where the lights have been dimmed. The altar has our holy book open, and a spotlight to light it, while the rest of the room is in near darkness. In a semi-circle on the west of the altar are the chairs for our past masters to sit in (all except for the junior past master, who sits in the east with the current Worshipful Master). Our digital projector is set up with a slideshow that has a photo of each deceased past master of our lodge, and it is the Junior Deacon’s responsibility to control the slides at the appropriate time.

Once everyone is situated in the lodge, the junior past master gives the order, and all of the past masters process into the lodge, in order of the year that they served. Each holds a number of white carnations; there is one carnation for every deceased past master of the lodge, and they are split evenly between those who are still living.

When all of the past masters have taken their seat, the following ceremony begins:

Memorial Service for Deceased Past Masters
Lancaster Lodge No. 54, A∴F∴&A∴M∴

(Soft lights and background of subdued music . . . meditation. Presentation given by the junior past master)

In honor of W.B. Guy O. Seaton, I shall use, for the most part, the text written by him for this Memorial Service.

On April 20, 1874, a group of 26 Lincoln Masons were granted a dispensation by the Grand Lodge to organize Lancaster Lodge No. 54. On September 3, of that year, the lodge was duly constituted under a charter granted by Alfred G. Hastings, Grand Master. 

During the 143 years of its existence, 135 of its members have served the lodge as Master, and have given unstintingly of their time and talents to the end that the affairs of the Lodge might be handled judiciously; that the principles of Masonry might, by precept and example be taught to those who seek them; and that the virtuous inculcated in Masonic teachings might become a living, vital part of the life of its members.

We are assembled here in observance of the 102nd annual Past Masters’ Day, and as we enjoy the fellowship which such an occasion makes possible, it seems only fitting that we pause for a few moments to honor the memory of those who served the Lodge so faithfully and well as Masters, and who have been called from their labors here on earth to the Great Beyond. They now number 104.

Let us turn our thoughts to them, who, but a comparatively few years ago, were among us in the pride and power of life. Let us be mindful of the record of their wisdom, their good deeds, their words of truth and their works of mercy and justice, that we may imitate them. Let us each rededicate himself to the high principles for which our great fraternity stands.

Today they sleep, watched over by the sun, the moon, the stars and by the God who fails not to mark the sparrow’s fall. Dreamless and untroubled in their slumber. Mighty forces may clash on the lands, on the seas and in the skies, but nothing of this reaches them. Utter peace they know and naught of this world’s strife. Rains give life to the turf above them, causing it to grow and shelter their resting places. All above them is life and the turn of the seasons. When Nature rests, snowflakes sift down to cover their beds; when Nature wakes and all is green and glad above them, still they are sheltered. The years pass – one-by-one – and through them all they sleep in peace.

These white flowers are emblematical of that pure life to which they have been called. As we deposit them upon the altar in their memory, may we be reminded that, as these flowers will soon drop and fade away, so, too, we shall soon follow them. But, let us then remember the evergreen, symbol of our faith in immortality, and know that they are but sleeping, and that the imperishable part within has survived the grave and shall never, never, never die. For in our archives their names and deeds are written, and in our hearts and memories there shall always remain a place for them.

I shall read the names of our departed Past Masters and the years they served. As I do, one of the Past Masters present will lay a white flower upon the altar in memory of him whose name is spoken.


*** In the interest of not boring you with a list of names of men you’ll never know, I have omitted that information, and will instead describe this portion of the ceremony. Each name is read, along with the year (or, for the very early past masters from when we were getting established, the years) that he served as Worshipful Master. As his name is read, his photo is displayed (the earliest members had portraits painted instead of photos, but the idea is the same), and one of the present past masters lays a white carnation on the Bible in his honor. This continues, one name at a time until all deceased past masters have been honored. Due to the large number of deceased past masters in my lodge, this portion of the ceremony is getting close to taking half an hour to complete. ***

As the sun sets in the west to draw to a close, so, one-by-one, we lay us down in the darkness of the tomb; to wait in calm repose for the time when the Heaven shall pass away as a scroll; and man, standing in the presence of the Infinite, shall realize the true end of his pilgrimage here below. Let these flowers be to us a symbol of remembrance of the virtues of these, our Worshipful Brethren, who have preceded us to the silent land; a token of that fraternal alliance which binds us together while on earth and which shall finally reunite us in heaven.

Memorial Service Prayer
(Prayer by the Worshipful Master)
O, merciful and loving Father, encourage to perseverance all who labor in the cause of truth and virtue and the rights of men, and keep them from becoming weary, faint-hearted, assuring them that none shall labor without result, nor at the last are unrewarded.

Protect and perpetuate, we pray Thee, civil and religious liberty in this land, and prevent tyranny, subversion of constitutional government, oppression, injustice and usurpation, and defeat all mad and wicked schemes that with plausible pretexts lead to ruin. Teach all men the great truth that peace, good government, political freedom and religion walk hand-in-hand; and as Thou has united these, let none put asunder.

Make this Order of Freemasonry worthy of its high pretensions. Persuade its initiates everywhere to illustrate its holy principles of truth, brotherly love, virtue and tolerance; and when our labors in this earthly lodge and workshop in which we serve our apprenticeship are finished, admit us to the companionship of those who have worthily worked and gone away before us, in that temple of the heavens wherein Thy throne of love is established forever. Amen.

This concludes the Past Masters’ Day Memorial Service.

~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!

The Rite of Adoption - OES Before OES?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RW Robert H. Johnson

This early cabinet card depicts a woman dressed in Masonic regalia and holding her working tools.  Image courtesy of Phoenixmasonry.org


We're all familiar with the Order of the Eastern Star. Some love it, some hate it. Whatever your feelings are I couldn't hep but think about it and the way it operates when reading a section of the Lexicon of Freemasonry by Albert Mackey. In a section labeled, "Adoptive Masonry", Mackey outlines the Rite of Adoption, a system born in France, under the Grand Orient.

The interesting facts are many, but here are just a few for your edification--Regular lodges would adopt a lodge of women. The women's lodge would operate as a kind of arm to the parent regular lodge. It conferred four degrees consisting of; Apprentice, Companion, Mistress and Perfect Mistress. An interesting side note is that their degrees carry much of the flavor of our original 3rd degree, not the Hiramic legend, but that of the Noachite legend. If you're unfamiliar of the original 3rd degree, I can tell you it's all about Noah and his sons. It's pretty cool. I digress.

A Master Mason of the regular lodge had to be present for the body to operate, however the man could not hold the presiding office, rather that was the duty of the Grand Mistress. Much more can be read on the topic and I invite you do just that. You can click HERE to open a PDF copy of the Lexicon. Once open simply search the PDF for "Adoptive Masonry" and read the 5 page entry.

So did the OES come out of the French Rite of Adoption? Did OES pull its requirements from this system? Leave a note below and lets talk!

~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.

A Fine Paradox: Christianity and Freemasonry - Revisit

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Steven L. Harrison, 33˚, FMLR

Editors Note: This one came out way before Illustrious Bro. Harrison was a regular contributor here at the Midnight Freemasons. It was published back in April of 2012. In fact, you may have even heard this on the "Whence Came You?" Podcast. I think this piece will still speak to many. I think Bro Harrison hits on some very poignant ideas. Read on, you won't be sorry. 

Masonic altar with three books of faith
I am a Christian. It's none of your business, mind you, but it probably is pertinent to any slant I might put on what I'm about to say.  And apparently, the jury is still out on my belief system anyway. Why? Well, I've been personally told, "You're not really a Christian because you're a __________ (insert any Christian denomination which is not your own)." And we've all heard this one: "You can't be a Christian because you're a Freemason." 

I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank anyone who has ever told me those things for clarifying to me what I think and believe.  There was a time in my life when I thought that was between God and me, but I'm so grateful you have set me straight.  Sarcasm aside, some Christians, it seems, want me to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ but get really upset when I keep it personal.

Having said all that, let me drop the bombshell: Freemasonry is not a Christian organization. When the cries of "heathen" die down in response to that I'll continue to say there are many reading this who would think, "Well, that's so obvious I don't even know why he would say it." The rest of you are probably the ones shouting "heathen."

What a fine paradox. Some think we can't be Christians if we are Freemasons and some think Freemasonry should promote Christianity.

Without dropping some dry statistics, let me just acknowledge I live in an area which is predominately Christian. Many even include it in the so-called "Bible Belt." So being a part of an organization that requires a belief in God and living where I do, it's not much of a surprise to see many of my Brothers emphasize the Christian influences in our fraternity; not just in our ritual, but also in our activities. How many times have you been to a Lodge dinner when someone wraps up a prayer "in the name of Christ?" This happens so often in my area that a couple of years ago two former Grand Masters (one a minister in a Christian denomination, one Jewish) along with an eminent RWB asked me to reprint a Masonic Service Association "Short Talk" article about its inappropriateness. The gist of the article was, "Stop praying Christian prayers in our Lodges... it embarrasses and perhaps even humiliates our Brethren of other faiths."

Another  piece from the Masonic Service Association of North America puts it concisely: "Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. It requires of its members a belief in God as part of the obligation of every responsible adult, but advocates no sectarian faith or practice. Masonic ceremonies include prayers, both traditional and extempore, to reaffirm each individual's dependence on God and to seek divine guidance. Freemasonry is open to men of any faith, but religion may not be discussed at Masonic meetings."

The same, I might add, is true for the publications I edit: No discussion or promotion of religion.  And if you're sitting there thinking, "He just said we shouldn't talk about religion but wrote a whole column about it," respectfully, you missed the point... that point being Freemasonry certainly includes Christianity, but it is an ecumenical group.  Those among us who have a hard time with that should heed this observation from one of our most famous Brothers, especially when sitting in Lodge:

 "So much blood has been shed by the Church because of an omission from the Gospel: 'Ye shall be indifferent as to what your neighbor's religion is.'  Not merely tolerant of it, but indifferent to it. Divinity is claimed for many religions; but no religion is great enough or divine enough to add that new law to its code." 

 ~Samuel Clemens 

 ~S.H.




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.

The 50 Year Member: The West Gate

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM


The 50 year member was getting excited. Today was going to be a monumental day in his life. (Well, okay, not like the day he got married or the birth of his children, but still life changing). Today was the day he was going to purchase his first smart phone. Not just a flip phone like most of the guys in the lodge have but a real, up to date smart phone!

For years, the old man had resisted becoming like everyone else, walking around with a phone stuck in their ear, unaware of their surroundings. It had seemed silly to him; why couldn’t a call wait until you got home? If it was that important just drop a dime into a payphone and call them!

Then the 50 year member had started looking around as he was out in the world. The pay phones were gone! He realized it had been a long time since he carried a dime or any other form of currency, just money on a plastic card he carry in his wallet. He also watched Pudge, and his ability to answer any question or perform a multitude of tasks just by looking at the phone he carried in his pocket! After noticing this, the 50 year member decided having a cellphone could be a benefit and not just an “electronic leash” as he used to think of it.

This was a day for firsts. Not only was he going to buy a mobile phone he was going to try his first “fancy coffee”! The old man had been drinking coffee all his life. Black, no sugar. His father had always said “If you are going to drink coffee, you better learn to drink it black. There will be places you go that won’t have cream and sugar.” Dad had learned that in the army during the war. The 50 year member hadn’t ever encountered issues like that, but he guessed his dad was right.

The 50 year member was standing in the coffee shop staring at the menu board trying to decide what kind of coffee to try. There were so many choices! Most of them he couldn’t pronounce let alone figure out what was in them. You couldn’t even ask for a large! "What is a venti?"

As he is trying to decipher what to try, Pudge walks in and slaps him on the back. “You order yet?”, Pudge asked. “Are you kidding?” The 50 year member said with laughter in his voice. “People talk about Masons and their secret codes! I think I am going to need a translator just to order .” Pudge laughed and volunteered to pick a coffee for him if he would grab a table for them. The old man gratefully agreed.

As they sat down and waited for their coffees to cool, the two started discussing which phone would be the best for him. Pudge said “I have been dealing with this salesman for a while. I have been thinking about talking to him about our lodge and see if he would be interesting in joining. He seems like a decent guy.”

The old man was staring at his coffee cup. “What is in this? It’s so hot I can’t taste it! I hope I don't scald my tongue! I never had a coffee with whipped cream. Is this coffee or dessert?” He asked aloud while trying to blow into the cup to cool it down. “I don’t understand the chocolate sprinkles on top.”

Pudge was laughing. “Did you even hear what I said?” The old man said “I understand why they put the little cardboard sleeve around the cup now. I have never seen coffee this hot before!” Pudge was laughing “John, are you still here?” The old man looked up and said “Sorry, maybe it’s all the caffeine. I did hear you. Do you know this fella outside of his job?” “No” Pudge said “But I know we need members. The representative from the Grand Lodge who visited us recently said so, and this guy seems ok, so I thought it was a good idea.”

“He might be a wonderful person” The old man said “He might make the perfect Mason, but you can’t tell about a man’s character just by a few interactions. You know he will be friendly and a perfect gentleman while he is at work - his job depends on it. You need to get to know the man. Find out what he is like when he is out in the world. Maybe after a while, say after a few months, if you deem him to be worthy, bring up the subject. If he seems interested, maybe give him one of those pamphlets we produce.”

The old man blew on his coffee again, hoping it was finally cool enough to drink. “We don’t need more men. We have plenty of them on the books now. Members go through the degrees and then never return. Instead of just running men through the lodge room like cattle at an auction, collecting initiation fees, just to see them walk back out the door with a new apron and a Dues card in their hands, never to hear from them again until we hear their name read in lodge for suspension of non payment of dues, we need to figure out why they don't come back and keep them interested in coming back every week.”

The old man lowered his head and began to stir his coffee with the little green stick the barista gave him “The fellas who wear the gold collars can't seem to understand this. They just keep hoping if we keep adding names to the books, some of them will stay. I guess in a way they were right; I stayed and Pudge you stayed, but how neat would it be if the majority we brought in would hang around?” Pudge sitting in deep thought, unfurrowed his brow. “I know you are right. We stayed and kept coming. I think fellas like you and I need to keep working on our lodge, and maybe we can figure out ways that may encourage other new guys to return to lodge or newly obligated Brothers to continue coming back.”

“Exactly!” The 50 year member stated as he took the top off his coffee cup. “Maybe I'd I take the top off this thing it will cool off. It's like mixing strong coffee with ice cream. It's weird but I think I could get addicted to this.” the old man said. Pudge laughed.

The old man continued “Masonry is kinda like this coffee shop. They have to make coffee that people will like. If they don't, it won't be long and they will be out of business. If they just serve strong black coffee that the old men drink and tell customers "We know this is really what you want and we have served it that way since 1945", folks might buy one cup to try it, but they'd never come back. We need to start giving young men the ingredients they want in their coffee so they will keep coming back and getting their coffee from us!”

“You’ve got a point John” Pudge said “Businesses have to keep up with the times to keep customers coming in. We have to give the people what they want without ruining the original product. Just like this coffee shop.”

The 50 year member had a big grin on his face as he jumped up from his chair “Well! I think we solved that problem! I say we get out of here and look at these phones! It might be the caffeine talking but I have had this much energy in years!” the old timer said with a laugh in his voice “I feel like I could run to the phone store! Say, I think after we buy this phone we should stop at a kitchen supply store and buy one of these fancy coffee machines for the lodge! Just imagine if we give a cup or two of this stuff to the Past Masters before we open lodge; they might actually stay awake for degree work!”

Pudge got up from his chair laughing “Maybe. Or maybe I can get you home and get your new phone  charging so it will be fully charged when you wake up from your nap after this caffeine buzz wears off and you crash.”

~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.

Back In Action: The Illinois Lodge Of Research

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

Illinois Lodge of Research Spring Symposium, May 6, 2017, Normal Masonic Lodge No. 673, Illinois
Every once in awhile, I see Freemasonry heading in the right direction with a perfect clarity of purpose.  Saturday, May 6th was one of those days.  The Illinois Lodge of Research, which has for the most part been dormant for a very long time, is coming back out into the education realm again under the leadership of their new Master (and my friend) Jim Tome.  Jim has been at the forefront of a few efforts to make Masonic education a priority for our members.  He's also the current MEGHP of Illinois, and has been instrumental in helping us establish our research and education based Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter--along with several state-wide efforts including improvements to the Royal Arch publications.

Midnight Freemasons Regular and Guest Contributors: L to R Robert Johnson, Michael Overturf, Jason West, Todd E. Creason, Greg Knott (missing but also in attendance was Scott Dueball)
ILOR had a symposium in Bloomington, Illinois, and I was invited to give the keynote address.  There were a number of terrific presenters, including Midnight Freemasons Greg Knott and Robert Johnson.  So far as I know, that's the first time three original Midnight Freemasons contributors have been presenters at the same event--and we had three additional Midnight Freemasons guest contributors in attendance as well!  All the speakers were fantastic, including a fantastic writer and comedian (and Freemason) Bull Garlington, who I hope will begin writing some pieces for the Midnight Freemasons soon.   There was also Joe Malatia who gave an excellent talk, and event organizer Scott Dueball who lead the panel, and herded the cats.  The event was remarkably well attended . . . that's a good sign that in our part of the world, our Freemasons are wanting more from their Lodge experience.
Event organizer Scott Dueball (also a guest contributor of the Midnight Freemasons)
As I said during my part of the program, the problem Freemasonry has with providing education in our Lodges, is that in many places it has been so long since education was a part of the lodge culture, there just aren't the members there with the knowledge necessary to do it.  I also pointed out that for the first time in a couple generations, our younger members are seeking us out for the purpose of learning about the principles of Freemasonry--not so much because they're looking for a social club.  The purpose of the symposium was to get a group of Masons together who were interested in learning how to research, and how to write, and how to present.  To begin putting together the next generation of scholars.  And I think it was obvious that the interest in doing just that is there.

We've got a long way to go, but it's wonderful to see the Illinois Lodge of Research back to taking a leadership role again.

~Todd E. Creason

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

Oscar Wilde: Freemason Wisdom *Revisited*

by Midnight Freemason Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33˚

"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all."

~Oscar Wilde
Apollo University Lodge #357
Oxford England

From the Editor - Published almost six years ago, this piece received some good traction even at a time when the Midnight Freemasons weren’t so big. It speaks to the nature of truly living. Oscar Wilde being one of the crafts most prolific thinkers has been quoted countless times, however this one is one of my favorites. Enjoy
~RHJ
-------

We are the designers of our own lives. We make all the decisions, good and bad. It's easy to look at your life as something that happens to you, instead of something you're in charge of. The truth is, it's up to us whether we participate in life, or sit back and watch it pass by.

Perhaps you're thinking to yourself right now "yeah, someday when I'm not so busy, and I have more time, I'd really like to spend more time enjoying life." But nobody knows how much time they have on earth. It could all be over in another eighty years, or before the sun goes down today. There are too many unknowns in life to assume you can do things tomorrow, or ten years from now, or when you retire maybe. If you really want to get into the game, shouldn't you do that today?

If not now, then when?

~TEC

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




Recycling the Rubbish of the Temple

by Midnight Freemason contributor
Bill Hosler, PM


As Freemasons, we know all about and in many cases make fun of the dreaded fundraiser. Fish fries, pancake breakfasts, raffles…yadda, yadda yadda. They are all a part of lodge life. Sometimes a small profit will be raised but in many cases the cost of putting on the fundraiser can be more than the revenue which is generated. (Not to mention the difficulties trying to beg members and family members to volunteer to work at the event). Wouldn't it be great to have a fundraiser which doesn't require a huge outlay of capital, or the constant arm twisting of Past Masters to “Volunteer”?

No I’m not trying to convince your lodge to join me in a multi-level marketing scheme selling soap powder or vitamins to your friends. But I think I have stumbled across the perfect fundraiser!

Recently on a Scottish Rite mobile app I read a post created by Illustrious Brother Micah Evans, 33° who is the Secretary General of the Valley of Omaha , Nebraska. Brother Evans explained the local Knights of Andrew was holding a yard sale. This in itself isn't all that impressive but this was a special kind of yard sale. The Knights were holding a MASONIC YARD SALE!

The Brethren within the Valley of Omaha are asked to donate unwanted Masonic items like chapeaus, swords, Masonic watches, rings..etc and the items are offered for sale to the membership. The most recent sale brought in over nine hundred dollars from items that would have continued gathering dust in some dark corner of a Brothers home.

When I read about this program my mind began to wonder. During my misbegotten youth I used to be the building manager of a Masonic temple. Several times a month I would get a call from a widow or the child of a Mason. They would tell me their father or husband had passed away and they had an whole trunk of “Masonic stuff” the departed member had left behind and wondered what to do with it.

I've known several times my lodge came upon the same issue. In many cases, a member of the lodge would pick up the items and put them in a closet in a dark corner of the temple where these items would reside until it was decided they needed to go into a dumpster.

So many times you see a Masonic item listed on eBay which were purchased in an estate sale and put up for sale to the profane world for some crazy opening bid (You know the person believes the piece is priceless because it's Masonic, and all Masons are rich). Wouldn't it be better if these pieces of Masonic history be offered to the membership and help to raise funds for a lodge or another Masonic body?

My thought is if one Brother (or several) would be willing to gather items donated by members or members families, sift through the donations and throw away stained or broken items and price the remaining merchandise, then before stated meetings and degree work (or any Masonic event) the items could be placed on a table and offered for sale. Capital outlay is virtually nothing so if your revenue was only fifty dollars at each meeting and you made the same amount over the course of a year, this small enterprise could bring in five hundred dollars! That is five hundred dollars which in many ways would be like “found money” which could be used in a number of ways.

If this venture is deemed to be a success, you might even consider setting up your stand alongside the information superhighway. If you have a member who is somewhat tech savvy you could even offer your merchandise for sale on a site such as Etsy, or even start an eBay store of your own. The sky is the limit!

I'm not saying your lodge will get rich or save your temple from the auctioneers hammer but let's face it, neither will a fish fry or flipping pancakes. In my opinion, this is a great way for your temple or lodge to make some money and help recycle some once treasures Masonic items which would otherwise end up in a dumpster or cluttering your house.

~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 Cowan

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

A few years ago at Missouri’s Grand Lodge session, the Grand Secretary asked me, with approval from the Grand Master, to take some photographs of the tiled Grand Lodge meeting.

We held the meeting in a large conference center jam-packed with over 1,000 Brothers. As I walked around the room trying to figure out the best angles for the photographs it became apparent I wouldn’t get a good photo from the convention floor. Fortunately, there was an office area above with a bank of draped windows overlooking the cavernous meeting room. That, I figured, would give me the best vantage point for the shot the Grand Secretary wanted.

I hauled my equipment upstairs and entered the office. There, I peeked out of each window to determine the best angle for my impending work of art. I selected the appropriate window, opened the drapes just enough to stick my head and camera through, knelt and started snapping pictures.

When I lowered my camera I noticed a flurry of activity on my end of the room. Right below me, Brothers were waving their arms and pointing at me. Some were even heading toward the door. Momentarily, the meeting stopped. The Brothers had exposed a cowan in their midst… and it was me!

Being a man of decisive action, I decided it was time to make a quick exit. “Feet,” I thought, “don’t fail me now.” I grabbed my stuff, whirled around and prepared to make myself scarce.
Too late.

As I stood up, the office door flew open. There, holding his angled rod in front of his body with both hands, legs planted apart, silent and ready for battle, stood the Grand Pursuivant.

Do I need to mention it was an uncomfortable moment?

I didn’t know the man but it was pretty obvious he was a Brother. As a few others began to show up behind him, I introduced myself and told him what I was up to. It didn’t take too long to convince him I was legitimate and the crisis quickly ended. A few smiles even broke out.

I suppose there are some things to be learned from the incident… like, for example we probably should have announced that the photos were being taken. Mainly, however, I learned some Brothers apparently have eyes in the back of their heads, since they were all facing away from me when I took the pictures.
Although I edited the Missouri Freemason magazine at the time I never published the photo. The only use ever made of it was a copy that now hangs in the Masonic Museum at the Masonic Complex in Columbia.

That Grand Pursuivant, Richard Smith, was elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Missouri in September, 2016. We’ve gotten to know each other pretty well and every once in a while we share a smile recalling the way we met.


~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.

Toleration Amongst Brothers

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason


One of the things I enjoy as a Scottish Rite Mason is a part that I do in the 4th Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.  It's the Prologue part of the 4th Degree--an introduction to the Scottish Rite in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.  I do it twice a year, at our Valley Spring and Fall Reunions, and have for many years.  It's a great honor to do that part, because it's a very important part.  It's the first Scottish Rite degree our new candidates see, and I'm the first person they see on stage at the very beginning of their journey.  Those words in the prologue, and my delivery of them sets the tone and the expectation for what those candidates can expect as they pursuit their goal of becoming a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason.  So I make sure that I strive to do it the best I possibly can every single time.

In that Prologue, I tell those candidates a few things they need to know about how the Scottish Rite works, and I talk a little bit about the principles the Scottish Rite holds in high regard.  Without giving away any Masonic secrets, amongst those principles are Truth, Love, Charity, and Toleration.  They'll learn much more about those principles and many more on their journey through all 29 degrees of the Scottish Rite.

In today's world, I think one of those principles is more important than ever.  Toleration.  Freemasonry has always been a society that believes in toleration.  That's one of the reasons we don't discuss religion and politics in our Lodges.  There are few topics that can so quickly escalate into bitter conflict than a conversation on the topics of religion or politics.  I lost a good friend and Masonic Brother over politics.

My friend was a very active Mason.  He was involved in his Lodge, he served the Grand Lodge, and he was active in many appendant bodies including the Scottish Rite.  And like me, he absolutely loved history.  He was also a writer.  We became very good friends and occasional research and writing partners.  We'd have lunch together and get into huge debates over points in history.  And we discussed the importance of Freemasonry at great length.  

But during a very nasty and contentious national election cycle, contrary to our long standing tradition, some of the members of his Lodge began arguing over politics (outside the Lodge).  And these arguments divided these men.  In the end, my friend got so angry over the politics of some of his Brothers, he felt he could no longer sit in Lodge with them.  He didn't find a new Lodge to attend.  He quit.  He quit his Lodge.  He quit the position he held with our Grand Lodge.  He quit every single appendant body he was a member of.  Almost overnight he went from being one of the most active and involved Masons I knew, to just being gone.  I haven't spoken to him in months, and in our last conversation he said he'd never sit in Lodge again.  

One of the great strengths of Freemasonry is that we come together on the things we agree on and do amazing things together.  It's our diversity that makes us unique, and it's toleration of our differences that makes that diversity possible.  I don't want to sit in Lodge with a bunch of guys exactly like me.  That's not why I joined.

It pains me to say it, but I think my friend was right to quit.  I still hope one day he'll come back, but I do understand why he left.  If I get to the point where I can't sit in Lodge because somebody thinks differently than I do, or believes something differently than I do, I'll quit too.  I'll have to, because it would mean that I have totally missed one of the most fundamental principles of Freemasonry.  

Toleration.


~TEC 

Todd E. Creason is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog, and the author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series.  He is the Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL).  You can email him at webmaster@toddcreason.org  

Masonic Con 2017

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RW Robert H. Johnson

Up early and out the door. Five minutes away from home when my wife says, "You grabbed some pins right?" "Nope, I laid them out and forgot to grab them." I replied. She said she could turn around and go back, but I just hate feeling rushed for the airplane. So we kept on driving.

Fast forward through a typical airport experience, to the point where I'm picking up my checked baggage at Logan Intl. airport in Boston, MA. The first thing I see while approaching the baggage carousel is WB. Jon Ruark peeking forward, wearing his TMR t-shirt. We greeted each other, and I also met Bro. Sec. of Ezekiel Bates Lodge (the hosts of Masonic Con 2017), Bro. John.

Bro. John then proceeded to drive Jon Ruark and I to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. If you followed my Instagram feed, you can see all the pictures. It was fantastic. A highlight was meeting the Grand Historian, Walter Hunt. The work RW Hunt has done for archiving the lineage of the fraternity is awe inspiring.

Grand Lodge Massachusetts 

Next it was off to "Media Night" at Ezekiel Bates. It was at this point I was able to meet the architect of the event, Bro. Bryan Simmons and his entire crew. To say that these guys worked hard is an understatement. Another highlight of the trip was to meet Bro. Greg Kaminsky of the Occult of Personality Podcast. I turned into an instant cheeseball, shaking hands with the Brother who's led me down some deep rabbit holes, and more importantly who's also kept me grounded at times.

Being interviewed for the YouTube channel.

Oh, and did I mention Frater O was there? So Greg, Frater O and I all were on a quick excerpt style interview for Greg's podcast, being interviewed by Greg's cohost Rudolf, all the way in Europe. It was "Media Night" after all. I was also able to see Bro. Ryan Flynn as well (who is hilarious by the way). In short, the precursor to Masonic Con 2017 was a memorable one. I'll never forget it, especially being interviewed by Bryan Simmons for the YouTube channel.

Presenting.

The next morning started off by pulling up to the lodge and having to find parking. Walking up to the huge edifice might seem intimidating, except I was struck by the amount of people in attendance, giving it a feeling of being almost too small! Tons of people were there. I made my way upstairs to see the first presentation, "Kabbalah and Freemasonry" by Greg Kaminsky. Greg basically blew our minds with facts and interesting things to ponder. Of all the presentations this was my favorite.

I was up next. I think mine went okay, at least I hope it was, you never quite know. I was
greeted by so many Brothers who listen to the podcasts, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. It was so very humbling.

Brothers Blend Coffee

Next up was Bro. Angel Millar who gave an edifying talk on the Upright Man. This was followed by Richard Cassaro who spoke about Secrets in Cathedral Architecture, and an excellent presentation by Illustrious Brother Piers A. Vaughan on the depiction of Solomon's Temple within the KJ Bible used by Washington. More great presentations followed including, Paul Smith on Masonic Music and Oscar Alleyne on Clandestine Masonry.

Later on we had a Master Mason panel discussion, which was a tyled event. Panelists included, Bro Jon Ruark as our moderator, and on the actual panel; Aaron Sherman, Greg Kaminsky, Oscar Alleyne, Frater O, Angel Millar and myself. Unfortunately the panel did not go as long as hoped but I think we were able to convey some good information.


The Master Mason Only panel discussion.

All throughout the day, there were vendors galore. I think I spend about $200 on wears. A highlight here was Bro. Andy Chase of Grip and Word Handmade Haberdashery. I was able to get some very nice bow ties, cuff links and lapel pins. Upon the Point was also there selling some exquisite pieces. My favorite was the Chamber of Reflection coin, which has a rather mirrored and polished finish...I wonder why? ;)

The night capped off with a amazing dinner at an undisclosed location with several Brothers mentioned above as well as a few Brothers of Ezekiel Bates and one of my new good friends, Alex Powers of the Historical Light Podcast.

The next morning we all said our good bye's but not before traveling to the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island for a tour and some history lessons from Bro Rick Lynch. Amazing, is the only way to describe what I was seeing and hearing. We all then went to lunch and headed back to the airport.

Grand Lodge Rhode Island.

In short, Masonic Con 2017 was literally the best Masonic conference I have ever attended. My enormous thanks go out to the Brothers of Ezekiel Bates, the vendors, the fans, the Grand Lodges for opening their doors and also to the other presenters.

Thank you! I can't wait for next year!!!

~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.

From the Archives: Being A True And Upright Mason

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
(originally published 6/13/13)
Todd E. Creason

"To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."
~Newton's Third Law of Motion

I can't help but think that Newton's Third Law of Motion doesn't just apply to motion. In fact, it applies to a lot of things. It can apply to life as well, and to a way of living. Just think how many sayings are similar to Newton's Law that apply to a lot of different things. How many times have we heard the saying "what goes around comes around." Generally, when somebody uses that expression, it means that when you do something rotten to somebody, eventually, it comes back on you. But the same can be said of good deeds as well. Another version says it better--you reap what you sow. You do good things, you get good things, and when you do bad things, you better get ready for bad things to come back to you. But all these sayings are suggesting the same thing. That when you live your life with the intent of doing good things, you're rewarded with good things.


That idea has been around for a long, long time. It's ancient wisdom, and it's been around for so long, because there is great truth in the idea that great things come to those that live to do great things. There's a version of that idea in every culture and every major religion. It could be called a lot of things. It could be called goodwill towards man. It could be called "creating good Karma." It could be called gratitude. It could be called living "The Golden Rule." Masons call it living like a true and upright Mason.

After I was raised a Master Mason, minutes after the lodge was closed, a young man probably fifteen years my junior came over and sat down next to me. I knew who he was--he had been my safe conductor through all three of my degrees. He never spoke to me after my first two degrees, so I was a little surprised when he came over and sat down next to me as I sat on the sidelines in the lodge room trying to absorb all that had just happened. I knew something had just happened. Something had just clicked in me. But I certainly didn't know then that my life had just changed in a very significant way. He sat down and gave me a piece of advice that I've never forgotten. It was a version of the same idea I'm talking about here. He told me that the thing about Freemasonry is, you get out of it what you put into it.

It took a little time for me to figure out that "putting into it" was more than sitting in a chair, and memorizing a few lines of ritual. The more time I spent with Masons, the more I seemed to change for the better. It can be a powerful influence being surrounded by men of good character. It makes you want to work on your own character. It makes you want to be a better man.

Of all the things I've done and accomplished since I've been a Mason, the one thing I think I've benefited from the most from these true and upright Masons, is the improvements to my own character--and that is the intent. To make good men better. I always credit the Fraternity for renewing my faith in mankind, and helping me erase that cynical view of the world I'd developed. I've done a lot of work chipping pieces off that ashlar. It's a little smoother now than when I joined, and I'm still working on it. And any Mason will tell you, that one of the most difficult undertakings you'll ever experience is being able to looking at yourself in the mirror honestly, and accepting the fact that you need a lot of work. Change is very hard.

It doesn't take long for a Master Mason to begin to realize the best way to improve yourself is through the things you do for others. Being honest in your dealings with mankind. Being dependable and hardworking. Being charitable. Being willing to give a helping hand where you can. Giving back to others with no expectation of reward. And the more you work on doing these things, the greater that desire becomes to do more. It's a fact, you just can't receive without giving.

Freemasons don't hold a patent on these ideas. As I said, it's ancient wisdom. But over centuries, the Freemasons have certainly learned an excellent way to teach it. By example.

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog, and author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the Master of Homer Lodge No. 199, and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL). He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), the Ansar Shrine (IL), Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, and Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL).