The Last Chance Halloween: Revisit


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

Editors Note: As I was scrolling through Facebook the other day, I came upon a meme which said how many days away Halloween was. I smiled  It's my favorite holiday, you know. It made me also think of this piece written by Ill. Bro. Harrison a few years ago. It plays on Halloween, Magic and Freemasonry. Go ahead and read on...if you dare.


I figured I'd better get upstairs. I didn't want to go to the séance... yes, the séance... and after that the top three floors would be closed — forever. I'd worked in the building three years and never been up there. This was my last chance. With no working elevators, I hoofed it up the stairs and emerged in a dark fourth-floor hallway of the doomed building. My eyes adjusted and I slowly made my way to the rooms in the northwest corner. I opened the door and entered the fabled room. There were no drapes covering the windows and the bright light nearly blinded me. The room was stark and dirty. To my left was a broken wheelchair. A sink jutted out from the far wall. Its basin was stained and dusty. Beneath it was a wastebasket — full. A bed frame with an old mattress was over by the window. All told, the room was disappointing. It just didn't seem... well... as auspicious as it should have, given what had happened there many, many years ago on Halloween.

Halloween and Freemasonry: There are probably many tie-ins what with all the costumes worn in degree work, skulls and other symbols; and that's before the conspiracy theorists weigh in. Occasionally, though, the pairing of the mysterious holiday and Freemasonry brings to mind images of Harry Houdini, a life member of St. Cecile Lodge 568, New York City.

A man of mystery, you could almost say Brother Harry lived Halloween 24/7. Aside from being, arguably, the world's greatest magician and escape artist, Houdini maintained an abiding interest in the paranormal. He did not, however deceitfully promote it as he felt many did. He despised fraudulent seers and mediums and worked tirelessly to expose their chicanery. He felt everything he couldn't expose as being fake must be real.

He made many attempts to communicate with his mother after she died, but found no evidence of
contact. Still, feeling communication with "the other side" was possible, he made a pact with his wife Bessie that the first to die would attempt to contact the other through a coded message. No one knows what the full message was, but part of the pact was that Houdini would open a pair of silver handcuffs they owned. Bessie never received any communication from Houdini after his death, but hundreds of psychics claimed they did. 

On Halloween 1936, the 10th anniversary of his death, she held a final séance in which he failed toappear. After that, Bess declared the search over and said she believed he could not come back, "It is finished." Two years later she created a firestorm in the world of spiritualists when, playing herself in the film Religious Racketeer, she said she did not believe communication with the dead was possible.

During his life the great Houdini did everything he could to separate the fake aspects of spiritualism from what he thought might be real. Shortly before his death he testified before congress against spiritualists and fortune tellers licensed to practice in Washington, DC. So adamant was he that they were charlatans, the hearing broke out in a shouting match and some of the spectators tried to attack Houdini.

On the other hand, still believing there was something to communication with the spiritual world, he worked with Thomas Edison in an attempt to develop a "delicate psychic detecting instrument." The object of the "ghost machine," as it was called, was to be so sensitive it could detect the presence or touch of an ethereal being from another world. There is no evidence the machine was ever built.

On October 26, 1926, Houdini received a painful blow to the stomach in a demonstration at McGill University in Montreal. Contrary to popular opinion, most medical experts believe the blow was unrelated to the appendicitis attack that followed; however, Houdini failed to get treatment thinking the pain in his stomach was due to the punch to his abdomen. After his appearance in Montreal, he traveled to Detroit where he collapsed at the end of a performance. Five days later, on Halloween, Harry Houdini died.

I was standing in a nondescript empty room on the fourth floor of old Grace Hospital in Detroit. The building, once considered progressive and modern, had deteriorated to the point that it would be torn down in a few months. I ran the Information Technology department downstairs and once my group moved out, the wrecking ball would move in. I soaked it all in. Somehow it just didn't seem that special, but shortly several people and the news media — this year including Time Magazine — would gather there as they had done for years on Halloween.

This wasn't just any room. This was the very place where, on October 31, 1926, Brother Harry Houdini died. I took a final look and turned to leave. As I walked away, people filed past me to enter the room for Houdini's last séance.

Houdini, as had been the case on every Halloween in Grace Hospital since he died, did not show up.

~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.

A Lutheran Approach to Ritual Part 2: Contextual Examination of the Ritual

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Scott S. Dueball


Previously, I introduced an approach that my church teaches when reading the Bible and suggested that applying each element of this approach to our ritual studies could provide value to our understanding of the philosophy. In this piece, I will expand on the first element, Contextual Reading. Contextual reading is giving regard to the historical and literary situation during the period of composition. This means we must first understand when the ritual was composed, what it was composed of, who composed it and how it was composed.

Of course, this is a large subject consisting of far more than 30 texts and documents. It would be impossible to give a just explanation here. I recently submitted a piece to the Philalethes where I addressed a question primarily rooted in the contextual examination of the ritual. I was interested in the word "condescending", as it is used in the 3rd Degree Charge of present-day Preston-Webb ritual in the United States. If we hear condescend only in our own, present-day, context then it sounds as if we are charged to be condescending toward our superiors. I understand that to mean that we are to sarcastically patronize our leaders based on my understanding of the modern use of the word. This seems like an odd thing to teach Masons. In first applying the literary contextual reading, I looked at dictionaries and etymological resources to determine if the definition of the word has evolved. Surprise: it has! Condescend did not always mean what it means today. Then the question is, “When did it change?” I applied the historical context to see how other sources used the word during the same period (late 18th early 19th century). Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice is a notorious example of this use of condescend. This gave me a clue to which definition of condescend was employed during the period of interest. This allowed me to better understand that what was meant was for a man of superior station to lower himself and speak on the level with any other as an equal.

You can perform a very similar review because almost all of the documents I used for that project are available online via archive.org or other sources. It will be necessary to begin with the litany of questions I ask above. You need to know about the world the authors grew up and lived in to understand what they were writing about. You need to understand how the fraternity viewed the various documents and what stage the fraternity was in as it was being formed. These things offer clues to help us understand the language that sometimes sounds archaic to our modern ears.

What are we possibly missing from the ritual if we don’t dig into the elements that are unclear to us? Our modern minds forget that the sciences displayed in the Fellowcraft’s lectures composed the sum total of agreed upon science at the time. A recently article in the Rocky Mountain Mason explained that some of these ideas were the very things that Giordano Bruno was executed for. Those facts (globes, senses, architecture, geometry) no longer represent all that we know but at the time were revolutionary. One example of our continued learning in my field is that we now understand that we have at least 6 senses (adding proprioception). That doesn’t invalidate the lecture but one could deduce that there is an additional lesson that we must be interested in understanding the world around us to our fullest ability by constantly remaining open to new scientific theory and research.

These are just a few examples of how contextual examination of the ritual can deepen your understanding of our ritual and philosophy. I will address the use of analogy in ritual in the next edition in the series.

~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

What Is Character?



by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

I’m lucky enough to sit in lodge with two Midnight Freemasons, Todd Creason and Greg Knott in both Ogden Lodge #754 and Homer Lodge #199 here in Illinois, where I am a dual member.   I am serving as Todd’s Junior Warden in Homer this year.  I was recently humbled when WM Todd Creason, asked me to give a presentation and facilitate a discussion about character for the next Homer lodge meeting.      Both he and Greg have been amazing mentors to me, and we’ve become great friends as well.  While doing my research for my presentation, I came to learn that the word character comes from the Greek root word: kharakter for “engraved mark”, “symbol or imprint on the soul”, and “instrument for marking”.  This immediately made me think of the marks that operative masons put on their work. 


“In stonemasonry, regulations in Scotland in 1598 by James VI’s Master of Works, William Schaw stated that upon admission to the guild, every mason had to enter his name and his mark in a register. There were 3 types of marks used by stonemasons.
 
1. Banker marks were made on stones before they were sent to be used by the walling masons.  These marks served to identify the banker mason who had prepared the stones to their paymaster.  This system was employed only when the stone was paid for by measure (ie: by the number of stones installed), instead of by time worked.  Banker marks make up the majority of mason’s marks, and is generally what is accepted when the term is used.
 
2. Assembly marks were used to ensure the correct installation of important pieces of stone work. IE: Stones marked with a numeral would identify the order in which they should be installed.
 
3. Quarry stones were marked to identify the source of a stone, or the quality.”
The above should be familiar to any of you who have undergone the degree of Mark Master in the York Rite.  If you haven’t gone through York Rite, I don’t want to give any of the degree away.  Like the Operative Masons, we Speculative Masons should also mark our works in Masonry.  How do we do this? My answer is by our character.   

I remember reading a booklet before joining called “Should I Ask?” by the Supreme Council Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.    In it, they begin with a chapter called, “The Masonic Commitment to Character”.  It begins with a quote by Dr. Albert Schweitzer, “It is not enough merely to exist….. Every man has to seek in his own way to make his own self more noble and to realize his own true worth.”  It goes on to say this quote captures the meaning of Freemasonry.  It explains that man’s most valued possession is his character.  It states that the belief of Freemasons is that the strength of the family, the church, the community and our country rests with men of strong conviction, firm ethical and moral values and a devotion to our democratic system of government.  As Masons, it goes on to read, we help each other identify through our devotion to these values.   It goes on to mention that in this day and age, where very few aspire to rise to become the best in life, that it’s good to know there is a group where a man can work to really improve himself.  Furthermore, in lodge meetings that there is no talk of politics or religion, although every Mason must believe – to his own understanding—in deity and devotion to his country.  It states that Masons are concerned with developing their minds and enlarging their scope of knowledge.  Because every man’s personal desire to build his own character is at the heart of being a Mason, that you must ask to join.  It finishes speaking about how men from every walk of life belong to Masonic Lodges, and they share a belief in brotherhood, country and the Masonic acts of charity and compassion.

We emphasize this in Speculative Masonry with the symbol of the plumb.   The plumb is a symbol of rectitude of conduct, integrity, and upright moral character which makes a good man.  In Operative Masonry, the wall of a structure is tested with the plumb.  If the wall is not exactly perpendicular, then it endangers the strength and stability of the structure as a whole.   Just as we meet on the level, we must each build our character to withstand the test of the plumb, or risk weakening the Fraternity we seek to serve.

How does one define character?   Character is shaped and influenced by our upbringing, i.e.: where we grew up, our parent’s examples and our academic and religious education.  But the test of character is whether one can hold to their morals, no matter how sorely tempted or how painful the outcome of the situation.  Character is usually most tested in times of tragedy or emergency, but it can be tested in every situation in one’s life.  How you react to these situations, is how you leave your mark as a Mason.  This is how your character is ultimately defined.  If you are able to rise above the situation and choose the outcome that is least selfish and most disciplined, then you are well on your way to making that rough ashlar a perfect one.

Why should one develop character?   Choosing to live one’s life with character often means living a disciplined and unselfish life.   It means benefiting the whole community before the individual.   It grants us the ability to master our surroundings, by choosing the correct ways to overcome them. This offers us a sense of freedom, as it allows us to see what is right and empowers us to do it.   Lastly, as we are molded by our companions, we can mold others by being exemplars for them.         

You see, much like the Operative Masons received their wages by the number of stones that bore their mark, we as Speculative Masons will receive our wages by the marks we leave on our fellow man.  We all will eventually stand before that ultimate paymaster who will judge if we are worthy of receiving our wages or not.  For the Speculative Mason, our hope is that we are allowed to travel in the ultimate foreign country, where we can continue to work and receive Master’s wages.  That is a wage well worth working towards.   

~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.

A Lutheran Approach to Our Ritual: Introduction

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Scott Dueball


When I was taking new member classes for my current congregation, we were provided a handout titled, A Lutheran Approach to Interpreting Scripture. This guide concisely describes the unique, scholarly approach that the Lutheran sect of the Christian church takes in reading the bible (ok, if you are a serious Lutheran you know there are nuances, but let’s not get caught up in the minutia). I am not suggesting that anyone else read the Bible this way; it works for me while I continue to admire the sundry of religious ideology within our Gentle Craft. However, as I look back at my Masonic writing, I notice that I take this same approach in regards to our ritual and philosophy. It is ingrained into how I experience the world. What I want to address here is how we might use this in the examination of our Masonic teachings. There are four points to this approach:
  • Contextual Examination-both literary and historical
  • Principle of Analogy
  • ‘Scripture in light of Scripture’- remaining faithful to the broader message of the text rather than picking a choosing the parts that support our position
  • Assigning value-Some elements of the text are given more value than others
Some of these points are supremely important to our present understanding of the ritual and others open up some of the deepest questions I have ever pondered. When we are examining the ritual do we give consideration to the language, world understanding, and political climate that each section was written in? To that end, do we (the larger fraternity) understand when and how the ritual was composed? It seems obvious that analogy and allegory play a role in our ritual but do we explore new ways to apply the ritual to our modern lives? Do we zoom out and examine the entire body of ritual text(s) to better understand the broader themes or do we piecemeal the parts that specifically fit within our current worldview? Lastly, how do we assign value to the various elements of our ritual? Over a series of posts, I will expand on these techniques for use in our reading of the ritual and hope to incite some deeper reflections within each of you. Each piece in this series will address new ways to use this approach to develop our understanding of the ritual.

~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 Legend of Adam's Grave: Revisit


by Midnight Freemason contributor
Robert H. Johnson

Editors Note: As intense as the worlds is at the moment, I offer you a brief escape into a mental land of adventure. I first wrote this as a new contributor to the Midnight Freemasons back in 2012. I've not done any further research, but the story still fascinates me and many others. There may be some allusion to the Noachite mysteries here as well. I hope you enjoy. I do say, enjoy. 
  
In 1868, German-American adventurer Heinrich Schliemann arrived at Troys location. Before this, it was thought that Troy was only a legend. Of course it was an amazing discovery to find out that the Iliad spoke of a real city. There are thousands of ancient legends, one of which, I stumbled upon one day while reading Macky's Masonic Encyclopedia.

As I was flipping through the pages, I came across "Adam" the supposed first man or at least the first modern man according to Hebrew and Christian texts. I am not inclined to share my religious beliefs, at least not in the short essay, however when I reveal to you this short passage which set my mind on fire, you will know why I chose to write about it. 

Here is the passage:

"Upon the death of Adam, says traditional history, the pious Gregory declared that the "dead body should be kept above ground, till a fulness of time should come to commit it to the middle of the earth by a priest of the most high God.'' This traditional prophecy was fulfilled, it is said, by the body of Adam having been preserved in a chest until about 1800 B.C., when "Melchizedek buried the body in Salem (formerly the name of Jerusalem), which might very well be the middle of the habitable world."

Interesting right? Especially when you do the math. This means that Adams body was laid to rest a mere 3,812 years ago. I don't need to tell you that we dig up bones older than this all the time. And there would most certainly (hopefully) be bones, since it says the body was "preserved". Further research reveals a kind of time line. At some point Noah went to the land of Eden and retrieved the case containing Adam's remains. 

"When Noah died, he commanded Shem concerning the bones of Adam, for they were with them in the ark, and were removed from the land of Eden to this earth."

Next the legend continues saying the bones were distributed among Shem and Melchizedek. Some accounts say that Shem was given the skull of Adam and the body of Adam to Melchizedek. Shem then took the skull and buried it in Jerusalem, in the place of the skull also known by other names in the Masonic system and to some as Calvary. And the body was placed in a tomb, supposedly the very same tomb where Jesus was later laid to rest. Another account varies slightly, saying that Shem and Melchizedek went to the ark and retrieved the bones.

"And he journeyed by night with the angel before him, and Melchizedek with him, until they came and stood upon the spot where our Lord was crucified. When they had laid the coffin down there, the earth was rent in the form of a cross, and swallowed up the coffin, and was again sealed up and returned to its former condition."

Some crude maps have been drawn showing where this hill is and the land has not seemed to change, at least in description. There is a good chance something could be found if a joint effort was established. Coincidentally this hill is very close to the dome of the rock, which as we are all aware is the site of the western wall of King Solomon's Temple, the place where Mohamed ascended to heaven and perhaps the real spot where the body of Adam was laid to rest. 

Regardless of your religious views, this story propagated in Masonic lore is fascinating. No doubt there has to be more information available somewhere. I have been reading on the subject for months now, but information has been elusive to say the least. Like Troy, perhaps this legend may trigger a research and archeological mission.  Who knows, we may find something of value to the world. 

~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.

The Blue Lounge Social Club Comes to America

by Midnight Freemason Managing Editor
Robert H. Johnson


So first of all, you may be asking, "What the hell is the Blue Lounge Social Club"? To answer that, let me just paste the verbiage which appears on their website:

"The Blue Lounge Social Club is an initiative that allows young freemasons to come together with friends and family in a social setting where they can enjoy each other’s company.

Originating from Victoria Australia, the Blue Lounge Social Club was created to achieve the mission of the recruitment, retention, education and support of young freemasons. Whilst our club hosts regular social events, where young freemasons can gather together outside the lodge in a non-formal environment, we are much more than a social club.

The Blue Lounge’s main purpose is to be an association of young freemasons that is focussed on supporting and fostering a younger and brighter future for the craft.

There has never been a more exciting time to be a freemason and the Blue Lounge Social Club is here to support you as a young freemason through your journey in our wonderful craft."

Now that you know what it is, I'm really proud to say that the first one in the USA is right here in my district! Our membership chairman for the district had thought about creating a club right here for some time, and he struck when the iron was hot. Some of the great things about this club is that there is no membership, so non-masons (profane), wives, girlfriends, family etc. can attend. It serves as a driver for membership as well as a great tool for the fulfillment for masons between the ages of 18-45. 

Feel free to read more about the Blue Lounge Social Club on their website www.blueloungesc.com or contact the Blue Lounge Illinois president at illinoispresident@blueloungesc.com . 

Now, this came up several times when I initially announced it, so to stave off questions, let me say that since there is no membership, Grand Lodge is not involved and has no jurisdiction (I only say this because it is inevitable for someone to ask if we obtained Grand Lodge permission. And it's not needed.) Secondly, a brother showed concern that with all the other options for men to join, this had the potential to take men away from the Craft Lodge, York, Scottish Rite or even the Shriners. To this, all I can say is that the BLSC seeks to advance Masonry by empowering, teaching and fulfilling the young masons in their Masonic journey. 

Tonight is the official launch and we are gathering for pizza and beer. It's sure to be a blast, and I just want to say thank you to Bros. Aqulina and Mitchell for your hard work and dedication to making this fantastic idea come to life.

~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.

Powerful Words

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott


The Scottish Rite Creed
The cause of human progress is our cause,
the enfranchisement of human thought our supreme wish,
the freedom of human conscience our mission,
and the guarantee of equal rights to all peoples everywhere,
the end of our contention.

Words have powerful meanings. Some of the most powerful words in Freemasonry for myself, is the Scottish Rite Creed. When thought about deeply, these words encompass everything that Freemasonry should be about. Let me use this article to breakdown further and what I believe they mean.

“The cause of human progress is our cause” A cause when defined as a noun by the dictionary means a principle, aim or movement that, because of a deep commitment, one is prepared to defend or advocate. As a Freemason, I can think of no higher calling than working towards the progress of all human beings. We have numerous opportunities to work towards this progress within our fraternity. By building the individual man, we prepare him to enter back into the world a stronger, more committed individual capable of improving the people and places around him. These contributions move humanity forward in a positive direction.

“the enfranchisement of human thought is our supreme wish” Human beings are unique amongst all the Supreme Grand Architects creations in that we have the capacity of intellectual thought. When something is enfranchised, it is set free or liberated and guaranteed. As freemasons, we are builders. We are builders with our thoughts, with our actions and with our deeds. A free mind has boundless capabilities and when encouraged and nourished will produce remarkable results that will have a profound impact on the world around us.

“the freedom of human conscience our mission” Knowing right from wrong is a foundational bedrock of a civilized society. By liberating the human mind, we allow mankind to progress in our intellectual capacity in obtaining a deeper understanding of the world around us. The freedom of human conscience puts no limits on the ability of the individual to develop their own beliefs in areas such as religion and politics. As freemasons, we place a priority on the individual to develop to the very best of their ability and contribute in positive manner to society and mankind.

“and the guarantee of equal rights to all peoples everywhere, the end of our contention” Oppression is still present throughout the world and the forces of darkness seek to limit the freedom of the individual. Freemasonry builds men to improve themselves as individuals, in turn we are to be exemplars in society helping to build and improve the world around us.

Does Freemasonry live up to these lofty ideals? My answer is yes. Do individual freemasons fall short? Yes, we do. We work towards the perfection of the individual knowing that achieving such may be impossible. Collectively we put forth our efforts together to make a difference in our families, nation and world.

There has never been a time in human history when the ideals of freemasonry are needed more. Let us resolve to continue our work of self-improvement and thereby having a positive impact on the world around us.

~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.

Star Wars and Freemasonry - 5 Things You've Never Thought Of

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
RWB:. Michael Jarzabek


Editors Note: I first was introduced to RW Jarzabek a month ago by the master mind behind Masonic Con in Attleboro Massachusetts, Bryan Simmons. Mike Jarzabek is a profound thinker and blew my mind with what he told me about the seemingly insane connections between Star Wars and Freemasonry. Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Mike and record a new episode of "Whence Came You?" podcast where we really dove into some of these ideas. That episode is a couple weeks away, when it goes up, I'll post a link in this article as well. Until then, here's a teaser... 
________________________________________

I'm not saying that George Lucas borrowed Masonic ideas, though he may have.

I'm saying that there are certain ineffable truths which speak to the human soul to which both Star Wars and Freemasonry allude. We will explore five such allusions.

Anakin, Luke, and Hiram as the Master Craftsman:

When we first meet Anakin and Luke we learn that they are both very mechanically inclined. Anakin builds C-3PO from junk parts. Luke repairs him.

When we first see the droid he is without skin. R2-D2 comments that he is naked. When he finally gets skin, it is tarnished brass. Later in the story, he receives gold skin as a gift from Padme.

The Hiram that we meet in the Bible (1 Kings 7:13-14) is the son of a widow sent to cast the bronze furnishings of the temple. In 2 Chronicles 2:13-14, he is said to be, "skilled to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, stone and wood, purple and blue, fine linen and crimson, and to make any engraving and to accomplish any plan which may be given to him..."

If we, like Vitruvius, interpret the temple to be representative of the human body...

Death Star as the unfinished temple:
The monad or point within a circle has always been a symbol of the creative principle.
The Death Star mirrors this although it is illustrative of the destructive principle.

How can one symbol mean two different things?

In 1 Kings 8:63 we learn that 22,000 oxen and 20,000 sheep and goats were sacrificed to dedicate the temple to the lord.

The Death Star was to designed to serve as a symbol of the strength of the Empire. It was employed to sacrifice planets in the service of maintaining order in the galaxy.

Are the unfinished temple and the unfinished Death Star two sides of the same coin?

Darth Vader as the Tragic Hero:

George Lucas has gone on record proclaiming Anakin as the hero in Star Wars. He is a hero in the tragic sense. He earns redemption through sacrificing himself for his son.

Where is the parallel to Freemasonry? Preston included many literary allusions in the lectures. Among these is a reference to Hamlet's famous soliloquy. Hamlet is one of the best known tragic heroes in literature.

"To be or not to be..."

Broken Column:

In Freemasonry we see the broken column as a symbol of the fragile state of our mortal coil.

In Star Wars we see this symbol in the use of the bacta tank. Both Darth Vader and Luke are seen broken and floating in the healing fluid.

Is this a symbol of our humanity?

Hero's Journey:

George Lucas was influenced heavily by the work of Joseph Campbell who is the author of a book called, "The Hero with a Thousand Faces". After reading this book Lucas intentionally structured Star Wars as a monomyth or hero's journey. What makes Star Wars interesting is that it is hard to identify just one hero or journey. There are multiple heroes each at different points in their journey.

The same can be said for Freemasonry. Throughout the three degrees, reference after reference is made to heroes from history and literature. However, the individual lodge, better than any ritual, represents this principle as we the Masons within it are all on our own hero's journey. At different times in our Masonic career we are the neophyte, the mentor, and the Master.
Whether or not Lucas or Preston intended any of these allusions is immaterial. All that matters is that these allusions speak to us and help us to better understand the world through understanding ourselves.

"May the Force be with you."

~MJ

RWB Michael Jarzabek is a Past Master of Brigham Lodge in Ludlow, Massachusetts. He is a PDDGM of the 28th Masonic District. He currently serves as Chairman of the Lodges of Instruction Committee for the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts.

What Kind of Mason Are You? Revisit


by Midnight Freemason Founder
Todd E. Creason

Editors Note* Published just before Christmas in 2012, this piece recently came to mind when I was thinking about the types of Freemasons we have. Specifically, the dues payers and the guys who show up and make it happen. In any case, enjoy this one, it's the third time it's been posted. Guys just seem to love it, it's great! - RJ

Are you an active member
The kind that would be missed
Or are you just content
That your name is on the list?

Do you attend the meetings
And mingle with the flock.
Or do you stay at home
To criticize and knock?

Do you take an active part
To help the work along
Or are you satisfied to be
The kind that just belongs?

Do you ever go to visit
A member who is sick,
Or leave the work to just a few
And talk about the "clique"?

Think this over
You know right from wrong,
Are you an active member
Or do you just belong?

~anonymous

Midnight Freemasons Contributor Greg Knott forwarded this to me about this time last year. Everyone seemed to enjoy it a great deal last year, so I thought I'd repost it for those of you that have joined us since. I hope it makes you think . . .

~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 member 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). He is also the author of the blog From Labor To Refreshment . . .

Spreading Cement?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM


"The trowel is an instrument made use of by operative masons to spread the cement which unites a building into one common mass, but we, as Free and Accepted Masons, are taught to make use of it for the more noble and glorious purpose of spreading the cement of brotherly love and affection, that cement which unites us into one sacred band or society of brothers, among whom no contention should ever exist, but that noble emulation of who can best work or best agree."

I was recently watching a home improvement show on TV. The host was explaining to his audience that when most people refer to the slurry which hardens and creates a hard, unmoving mass, they call it cement, however they are actually creating and using concrete or mortar. Cement is actually just one component in creating concrete; it is a binder which holds all the ingredients of the mass together.

It's no secret our fraternity is now smaller than it was after World War 2. Some say the large numbers who joined during the conflict had been an anomaly, that the number of men who hold membership in our gentle craft is supposed to be small. Others believe the decline in membership is a cause for alarm, and the Fraternity needs to try to bring the number of members back to the “post war” numbers (or even to surpass them) at all costs.

Freemasonry has been trying to replace these lost members for nearly half of a century, trying everything in their power to entice new members into knocking on the doors of our lodges. Slogans like “2B1ASK1” and “I M Committed Now R U”, offering one day classes, discounts on dues, even premiums like T-shirts or sunshades for your automobile have brought some new men into our Fraternity, but for one reason or another they have all left the quarries to seek what they are looking for elsewhere. We keep asking ourselves “why?”

Maybe, much like that concrete we have been calling cement by mistake, we are offering these men something we call Freemasonry but which doesn’t measure up to the expectations we have laid out.

If you ask any builder, a sure way to weaken a building you are making is to substitute the quality ingredients of concrete with inferior ingredients. Sadly, many buildings have been destroyed over the years by using “shoddy” building materials in order to maximize profit or to lower the price of a bid in order to get the work.

These inferior materials may stay in place long enough to complete the building, but after a while the entire edifice will begin to crumble and eventually collapse. Usually, sadly, many unsuspecting souls who are occupying the building can lose their lives to the builders greed or incompetence.

Slowly our Fraternity has been replacing the quality ingredients which creates the strong concrete which has held our Fraternity together and has replaced them with inferior materials or left them out of the slurry altogether.

From the late nineteenth century, when a few intolerant “temperance” zealots thoroughly removed refreshment while ignoring the virtue of temperance by convincing Grand Lodges to remove all alcoholic beverages from our meetings and Temples, we have slowly been replacing the quality ingredients that made a lodge successful, which, in my opinion, has been causing the cracks in our once solid foundation.

We have further weaned our Fraternity by replacing dues which paid the bills of our lodges and paid for the maintenance of our buildings by offering Freemasonry as cheaply as humanly possible and replacing the money by holding fundraisers which no one volunteers for and which are rarely patronized even by the members.

The once fantastic food that lodge members enjoyed on fine china placed, on a beautifully pressed linen tablecloth, has give away to baloney sandwiches and potato chips on a floppy paper plate washed down with warm iced tea or cold coffee.

At one point in our history, the Brethren gathered into a beautifully ornate lodge room. They sat quietly while the lodge organist would play a light tune before lodge was opened and a thoughtful evening of discussion and learning made the men feel spiritually fulfilled. Sadly today we get badly performed ritual done by a Brother who was asked at the last minute to fill the chair. Once lodge is opened the process of listening to several sets of minutes from previous meeting be read in a monotone by Brother Secretary while the Treasurer gets prepared to tell the lodge how much money they don’t have.

As an added bonus you get to spend the rest of the evening arguing over the cost of the lodge’s bills and then vote to pay them (even though everyone there knows these bills were already paid several weeks ago).

The rest of the evening is begging for volunteers for fundraisers or to fix a piece of the building that has fallen down, and everyone tries to escape as quickly as possible. The last one out of the building, please shut off the lights.

The last ingredient which remains, “the cement”, has been reduced to young men hearing “Back in the sixties, we had fun. You should have been here then.” When the young man suggests reviving these old traditions or starting new traditions they are stopped cold. They are told “We couldn’t do that” or the ever popular “Grand Lodge won’t allow that.” Eventually these young “living stones” fall out of our Masonic edifice because the mortar which binds them there isn’t strong enough to hold them in place.

The young men who are looking to join are looking for those quality materials we tell the world we build with. They are looking for education, enlightenment, a sense of Brotherhood and friendship, a reason that they are on this planet. They have been told that “Freemasonry makes good men better.” That is what they are looking for.

Brethren if we want a strong fraternity which will stand up to the the storms and trials of the coming centuries we have to replace the “inferior” building materials with the things which made us the strong Fraternity we once were.

~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 Consultant

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


Congratulations to Very Much Most Worshipful Brother John Henry Doe, who has just been elected the Grand-Grand Master of all of Freemasonry.  This is an opportunity he has long sought.  He's been griping for years about the problems facing the Brotherhood and now he, and he alone, has the power to turn things around.  So, now what?

VMMWB Doe: Well, first, I put on my gold jewel, gold apron, gold crown, grasp my gold baton of authority and sit in my gold chair in the East.  

Then what?

VMMWB Doe: Oh, you mean that isn't enough?  Well,  talk, as you know, is cheap.  So all the griping I've been doing has pretty much been hot air.  If I have real responsibilities here, I guess I'd better hire a consultant who has a track record of turning organizations around… someone from outside the fraternity who can take an objective look at Freemasonry and make recommendations in the unlikely event we're doing something wrong.

Accordingly, VMMWB Doe, after much consideration, hires the best business consultant around, Edsel P. Highpower III, MBA, to analyze the Craft and recommend actions for improvement.  Highpower studies the fraternity and reports back to VMMWB Doe.

VMMWB Doe: Well, Highpower, what do you think?

Highpower: I think you're nuts.

VMMWB Doe: Excuse me?

Highpower: Everyone says you have a membership problem.  Membership has been declining for decades and continues to decrease.  I understand you don't just want anyone to join, but, still, you really do have a membership issue.  YET YOU EXCLUDE HALF THE WORLD FROM BECOMING MEMBERS!

VMMWB Doe: Are you suggesting we should admit women?  You just don't understand us.  I can assure you we will never admit women.  What other bright ideas do you have?

Highpower: You lack strong consistent leadership.  Throughout the world Freemasonry is a conglomeration of separate Grand Lodges loosely connected, each making up its own rules.  It's even worse in the US — Fifty or so separate Grand Lodges sharing territories with fifty or so other Grand Lodges, some not recognizing others for whatever reason; and, frankly, a couple of Grand Lodges going completely off the rails.  

VMMWB Doe: You just don't understand us.  Freemasonry is a grass-roots organization.  We will never have a universal central leadership.  All they would ever do is raise our per-capita.

Highpower: You missed the point. Where is your single voice for Freemasonry?

VMMWB Doe: What about me? I am, after all, the Grand-Grand Master.

Highpower: You know very well this is a fictional piece.  Let's move on to the next issue.  This is not your father's world; this is not your father's Freemasonry.  We live in a world steeped in promotion and advertising.  It's everywhere.  Google isn't just a search engine, FaceBook isn't just a social network; their very essence is all about advertising.  Freemasonry does little to promote itself in a world that increasingly only responds to hype.  The public usually only sees stuff from places like the History Channel with overtones suggesting creepy things are going on behind Lodge doors.  You need to consistently, regularly get the word out about your real purpose and activities.  You need to do it in a classy way and not come off like a bunch of snake-oil salesmen.  To put it succinctly, you need a public relations program, and it goes back to needing that single voice for the Fraternity.

VMMWB Doe: Highpower, you really don't understand us.  Some of the stuff on TV and the Internet is such drivel it's not worth our response.  And we certainly don't like people who blow their own horn.  Advertising or, as you call it, promotion, is beneath us.  You won't see that around here.  Didn't you find anything I can use?

Highpower: I found this — most of your Lodge meetings are boring.

VMMWB Doe: How would you know? You're not a Mason and you're not allowed to attend our meetings.

Highpower: YOUR OWN MEMBERS SAY THEY ARE BORING.

VMMWB Doe: If our own members thought the meetings were boring attendance would be really low.

Highpower: I rest my case.

VMMWB Doe: Highpower, you're fired.  I don't need you.  I can come up with my own ideas to turn this Fraternity around.  In fact, I'm planning to introduce one that will be great.  I'm going to call it "Every Member Get A Member."

Epilog: After implementing his innovative "Every Member Get A Member" program, Very Much Most Worshipful Brother Doe continued to see membership decline, but at a slightly slower pace.  He counts that as his greatest achievement as the Grand-Grand Master of all of Freemasonry.

~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.