The Six Points of the Master’s Square

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM 

When you are first raised to the Sublime degree of a Master Mason, chances are these days you will be asked to become an officer of the lodge. Although being asked to assume a chair in the lodge room, that seat comes with responsibility. You will soon discover as you advance through those chairs the seats become more comfortable, but the comfort of the chair comes with a price.

If you are anything like me, you are probably thinking “No biggie! I’ve got this!” You will even tell yourself, “I’ve chaired committees and I’ve been the president of other groups, it can’t be that much different!” Forgive me Brother, while I suppress a small chuckle as I continue to explain.

In the last few decades many lodges have replaced Masonic education in their stated meetings with a Secretary reading the minutes of the lodge in a quiet monotone voice, and delightful discourse of Past Masters complaining about the cost of doing business in the current year, versus what the cost of running the lodge was when Brother Gerald Ford sat in the White House.

This gives a newly installed Worshipful Master many issues. The poor guy needs to understand how Masonry works, but with no experience he will only discover, “What he did wrong", when, after the close of lodge, several bony fingers of Past Masters begin to harangue the poor guy with a laundry list of mistakes he made during the meeting or degree work (After they thoroughly argued amongst themselves). 

Where is this Master supposed to gain the experience he will need to sit in that comfy chair in the East? Sadly, there is only one place: The progressive line.

The progressive is to those of you who are new or not a Mason is the line of offices in a lodge room. A newly raised Master Mason if he chooses to become an officer will be placed in the office with the least amount of responsibility like memorization and floor work, in most places this is the office of Junior Steward and told to watch how the lodge works while under the supervision of his immediate overseer, the Senior Steward. (In some places like Texas the Stewards are charged with providing the lodge with food.)

Each year, in theory, the man is advanced (or progressed) to the next chair and his education is furthered and the responsibility of that chair continues to grow. Many Brethren (Including myself) aren’t the biggest fans of the progressive line system. Many argue that the progressive line just moves men along, from chair to chair, until they reach the position of Senior Warden and it is expected that the end of his term the brother should automatically be voted by the members of the lodge to advance to the position of Master. In most cases that is fine, but there have been times in every lodge (and if I am honest, Grand lodges, too since they follow the same line.) that a man is elected to the lodge's highest position who isn’t ready for the post. Or perhaps, is so incompetent that he will fail in his work or worse yet, has mercenary motives and shouldn’t be in an office and his attempts to enter should have been stopped before he passed through the West gate.

Sadly, in cases like this the Brethren of the lodge have few good choices. Most of the time it is a choice of desperation, the inoperancy of their current leadership and in almost every case resentment and the loss of attendance.

The progressive line is often the only source for leadership preparation and many officers must train themselves. Grand lodges may offer seminars or courses they consider to be training, but mostly it is just a course in what form to fill out in certain situations or what passage of the law book to read, and rarely has anything to do in regards with actual Freemasonry.

Brethren, until we can reinstate actual Freemasonry and Masonic Education back into our lodges, here, in my opinion, are a few ways we can help educate our officers and put them on the square of success.

Reading- An officers first upright step in his Masonic Education is to start reading Masonic material. Knowing our history and the symbology behind the way we do things never hurts and is always a good place to start.

Speak to experience- You will remember from your charge as an Entered Apprentice “At your leisure hours, that you may improve in Masonic knowledge, you are to converse with well informed brethren who will always be as ready to give, as you will be ready to receive instruction.“

Find a Brother, who can serve you as a mentor. Perhaps a well-educated Past Master, and pick his brain. The possibilities are endless! Discuss with him the books you are reading or ask him questions about his time going through the chairs. Ask him what he would do differently if he had the chance. Any advice a well-informed Brother gives you, will place you on the level of success.

Grand Lodge Sources- Ok earlier I did complain about the content at Grand Lodge seminars. But as part of a well-rounded education, these seminars could help you while governing your lodge. The seminars aren’t perfect but in conjunction with other sources of education these might become a valuable asset.

Watching- From the time you assume your place in lodge, You should begin to watch the way the other Brethren do things within lodge. From watching other men as they do their floor work and they handle their rods to how they stand and address others when they have the floor in lodge, can provide you a good primer in what you should be doing. As you continue to progress you will notice yourself able to square your floor work as well as your older Brothers. If you have questions about the process, ask the mentor we discussed above.

Planning- If you are on a progressive line your eventual destination will be that big chair in the East. One thing you will notice about that seat is you are sitting all by yourself for the first time in lodge. Every eye in the place will be on you and expect you to have all the answers. (Ever hear the old phrase “It’s lonely at the top”?)

This is the point where all the watching, reading and conversing comes into place but there is one more piece of the puzzle: Planning. Successful Worshipful Masters have a plan long before their election. (Planning ahead is the one true bonus about the progressive line.)

Starting the year, you become Junior Warden you should start planning your calendar. Special events (Like Past Master nights, Widows nights…etc) should be placed on the calendar and you should begin thinking about who you would like to chair these events. In many jurisdictions lodges have standing committees. You need to consider who should chair these committees and either let them pick their own members or whether you need to pick the members for them. You will also have to begin to decide who you will choose as your appointed officer line. 

Some Masters (Myself included) come into the East with several agenda items they wish to accomplish during “Their year” in office. Even though many of these items will have to be voted on by the lodge (and have the potential of being voted down by the membership), you will need to plan and staff these items too.

Brother, I know it can be tough. You will make mistakes and you will probably have to suffer the occasional wagging finger and rough lounge of a grumpy Past Master but that’s ok, you are tougher than that. Just learn from it and move on. Do your best and strive to make “Your Masonic year” to be the lodges greatest year and while doing so, strengthen your lodge and Freemasonry.


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.

Are You a Traveling Man? – What the TSA Can Teach Us About Freemasonry

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor

WB Martin O’Brien

“Make sure your laptop is out of its bag and your belt is off”. The TSA officer’s voice carries with authority over the quite shuffle of humanity. Collective sighs are heaved and the line progresses slowly forwards. The New Year has begun in an atypical fashion for me. Normally I don’t have to travel much for work but 2018 has started off differently. I have spent this month bouncing from airport to airport and from hotel to hotel and as those of you who have travelled on business can attest, the days have a tendency to blur together and time starts to be measured in terms of boarding passes and complimentary pretzels. While I can’t, with any legitimacy, count myself among the ranks of the grizzled road warriors that spend most of their working lives like this, the travel has toughened me some and the idle time between flights has afforded me some quite time for reflection. The result has been surprising insights into Freemasonry.

On one morning in particular I found myself in Bradley International, Hartford CT without any coffee and a 5AM boarding time. Despite the lack of caffeine, I had the mental acuity to be struck by the similarity that exists between passing though the TSA security check and our beloved Craft. “That’s ridiculous!”, you say. Wait a moment and let me explain. First, passengers are duly and truly prepared and they had better be or else the process can become much more personal than one would like. They are then divested of all metallic substances. They make their way along the winding stairs demarcated by pylons and nylon straps. They are caused to meet with obstruction until at last they reach the inner chamber, the sanctum sanctorum of the concourse proper and are no longer tormented by ruffians. Some candidates don’t make it through smoothly owing to some shortfall in preparation. These unfortunate travelers are shuffled to the side and are, perhaps, never seen again. Now doesn’t that sound like a Lodge?

The line waiting to pass through security is a scene of uncomfortable and self-conscious chaos as travelers unlace shoes and being neither barefoot nor shod, wrestle laptops and liquids out of bags. Take belts and jackets off and place them in those too small grey totes to later be invested with that of which they had been divested. In many ways this scene reminded me of the challenges that can present themselves as we try to move candidates and brothers through the degrees. And like those misfortunate travelers that are shuffled to the side, inevitably we lose some men who, for one reason or another, do not complete their degrees, do not return their proficiencies and so do not continue on the path laid out before them by our fraternity. In some cases, this is because the man is intimidated by the memorization work that is required, in others scheduling issues result in the new Brother losing interest and drifting away. 

In others still, the man, having dipped his toes into the waters of Freemasonry, determines that it is not to his liking and after making several excuses for why he isn’t available to meet his coach slips away into the ether. How can we retain good candidates? I suggest the problem is not one of retention but of election. We must closely look to our duty to guard well the West Gate. This is not a world shattering revelation and much has already been written on this topic. In my own Lodge we considered this problem from many angles and tried many strategies to overcome it. We made proficiencies easier, we made it more difficult, we picked candidates up in a limo and took them to their initiation. We met with them for several months before initiation, we initiated them as soon as they came through the door and still we lost some. Raising one in five. No strategy we adopted following their election to receive the degrees ensured that they would make it through.

I have become convinced from our failures that the answer lies in electing for degrees only those men who truly want to be Masons, men who are truly prepared in their hearts to be Brothers of the Craft and willing to pick up the working tools for their own betterment and the betterment of their communities. Let us not allow our fears of a declining membership to cloud our judgement and cause us to accept men who are deemed fit simply because they knock on our door and can fill a chair. Men who we determine will benefit from Freemasonry but never consider if Freemasonry will benefit from them. This way leads to frustration, doubt and ultimately the weakening of our order.

Let us return to our TSA analogy. While there is a winding line of travelers awkwardly preparing themselves to pass through scanners there is another group for whom no such burden is levied. These are the travelers for whom TSA has already guarded well the West Gate. These are those travelers who have already obtained the TSA Pre-check. There is no fumbling with luggage for them, no long lines that cause anxiety about whether or not flights will be made. For these well-prepared travelers there is only a steady and sure progression from the door to the inner chamber. There is far less uncertainty for these wanderers. They know for where they are bound and they have prepared themselves and been prepared sufficiently. So it is with our Lodges. Let us guard well the West Gate. 


WB Martin O'Brien is a Past Master of Cuyahoga Falls Lodge #735, now Star Lodge #187 in Cuyahoga Falls Ohio. He is a member of Cuyahoga Falls Chapter #225 Royal Arch Masons and Cuyahoga Falls Council #144 Royal & Select Masters.

The Importance of Being a Role Model

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

Todd Creason recently wrote a wonderful article about the importance of having a good reputation. You can find it here: What he said below really got me thinking:
"Men of good reputation and solid character used to be more common than they are today. We don’t teach the value of it anymore. Our society is so focused inward on ourselves, and our own selfish needs. We are a society of grown children, fighting and arguing on social media just like children used to fight and argue on the playground. We’ve never grown up and become men because we haven’t had the role models. And just like children, we don’t think about what we’re saying, and we don’t think about what our words and actions are saying about us."
It made me think about a few quotes from one of my favorite books (and later Movie):
“I see in the fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables, slaves with white collars, advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of the history man, no purpose or place, we have no Great war, no Great depression, our great war is a spiritual war, our great depression is our lives, we've been all raised by television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars, but we won't and we're slowly learning that fact and we're very very pissed off.”
“We’re a generation of men raised by women. I’m wondering if another woman is really the answer we need.”- Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
Our role models have been TV stars, movie stars, rock stars, and sports stars. We’ve been raised through television. I was what was called a latch key kid. Mom and Dad both worked, so I’d get off the school bus, walk home, turn on the television. It was my babysitter. With the advent of cable television in the early to mid-1980s, I would watch MTV. I would see images of rock stars behaving like children. There were videos with drinking, partying too excess. The sexual exploitation of both women and men was rampant. I was lucky enough to understand at a young age that it was just fantasy, but still, I wonder what type of effect it had. 

I was, and still am lucky enough to have both parents. But many of my friends come from broken homes, where mom or dad was left to work 2 or 3 jobs. Mom or Dad was absent. In most cases, (84% were raised by single moms). A large percentage of our teachers were female also. I went to a Catholic Grade School, so from k-8, I had no male teachers. The first male teacher I had was in High School. I didn’t really have any male role-models to look to. Also, my dad didn’t want to play with my brother and me after work. He wanted to come home, have a few beers and unwind. I love my Dad, and I don’t fault him for that, plus he probably had a hard time relating to me. Although he was a role-model, I liked things he didn’t understand. I used to go to a place in Bradley IL, called Castle Hobbies. I’d meet my friends there and we’d play Dungeons and Dragons, or Warhammer 40K, and other various miniature or role-playing games that were being played. My Dad didn’t understand the point of it all. He’d tell me this on many occasions. I think that he understood that I was off the streets, and not spending the money I had on drugs or alcohol. Although he did wonder why I was spending it on polyhedral dice.

My generation has been bombarded with 40 to 50 plus years of targeted advertising that teaches happiness = stuff. We are conditioned to believe that success is a measurement of what you own, not who you are. The size of your house, the clothes you wear, and the type of car you drive are all indications of how ‘Successful’ you are. We’ve been taught to consume, consume, consume. As Fight Club asks: “Do you know what a duvet is? It’s a blanket. Just a blanket. Now why do guys like you and me know what a duvet is? Is this essential to our survival, in the hunter-gatherer sense of the word? No. What are we then? We are consumers. We’re the byproducts of a lifestyle obsession.” Couple this with many of us not having a real male role-model growing up. Is it any wonder we’re all angry and selfish children?

I was lucky to have some male role-models in Scouting. They coupled with my Dad’s apathy towards volunteering made me want to be a volunteer soccer coach for my son’s teams, and also to be a Scout Leader. It was through Scouting that I met fellow Midnight Freemason Greg Knott. Greg Knott often jokes about him giving me 'Structure'. But he's not half wrong. Freemasonry came along for me when I was at cross-roads. You see, I was one of those selfish grown children that Todd referenced. I won’t get into details, but Greg saw something untapped in me that I didn’t recognize. He saw potential. He reached out to me. He told me about how Freemasonry promotes many of Scouting’s ideals. He helped to set me on a path that has changed my life forever. It was through Greg that I met Todd Creason. I slowly got more involved in helping them both with their mission to restore Homer Lodge #199. They both have become not just great mentors, but really good friends. All because Greg took a chance on me.

There has long been a notion within Freemasonry that ‘We make good men better!’ I would argue that this is false. First of all, we’re not just accepting good men. Every year at Grand Lodge when the role-call of Brothers being expelled for committing a felony is read, I’m reminded that we need to do a better job of guarding the West Gate. Secondly, we hardly go out of our way to make men better. How many times do we bring in a candidate only to have him attend lodge a few times, and then never return? Now, I will say some of this is on the individual brother, but most of it is on us. You see we are failing each other even in Lodge. The idea of making someone better implies that someone is doing the teaching.

Like I stated, I was lucky. I had a Masonic role model to emulate when I joined the lodge. But not everyone is as lucky. We as Masons also need role models. Now I’m sure if you’re reading this article, you can probably think immediately who you consider a Masonic Mentor or role-model. If you’re like me, you have several. But are you a mentor or role – model to someone else? Are you going out of your way to make new brothers feel welcomed, are you helping them with ritual, are you answering their questions as they come up? You see, we have an untapped market of men that we can reach. There are now a few generations of men that would benefit from having a Role – Model. We need to step up to the task.

How do we do this? I think it’s pretty simple really.

1. Guard the West Gate. We need to admit men that are going to actively participate in Freemasonry. Admitting everyone who has a pulse isn’t going to help our issues. We’re just going to spend more time chasing after late dues payments. Identify good men and make them your priority.

2. Stress Education. We need to structure our business meetings around Education. Get good speakers from the community (Masonic and otherwise) to address topics that men care about. Eliminate the waste from the business meetings. Bills can be auto-deducted, the Treasurers report can be emailed, as can the Secretaries Minutes and Announcements. Cut out what you can and keep only the essentials.

3. Be an exemplar. Let your actions speak louder than your words. Don’t engage in things that could soil your reputation or that of the Fraternity. Especially on Social Media.

4. Be a Mentor. Take new members under your wings. Meet with them outside of lodge, address their questions and concerns. Listen to their ideas.

5. Teach others how to do be a Mentor. This is self-explanatory. Pay it forward. Teach the men you mentor how to be Mentors.

6. Do things outside the lodge as a group. Last, but certainly not least, organize fun events for your members and their families. The events can be informal or formal.

Look, it’s going to take a tremendous amount of effort to get to where we need to be. It might not even happen in my lifetime. I believe in this Fraternity. I believe that we all can make the world a better place for ourselves and our families. Yes, it’s going to take work. We all need to pitch in. We should be able to project ourselves as Role – Models and give Men an actual enriching lodge experience. To quote another movie: “If you build it, they will come.”


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

Herbert Hoover and Freemasonry

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

A few accounts claim certain famous men who were not Freemasons intended to join the fraternity but circumstances did not permit them to do so.  Notable among these are Dr. Martin Luther King and President Abraham Lincoln.  King likely was to have been made a Mason upon returning from his tragic trip to Memphis.  Lincoln actually petitioned Tyrian Lodge No. 333 in 1860, but decided not to join until after his presidency, thinking becoming a Mason would look like he was doing so for political purposes.

There has never been any doubt about President Herbert Hoover's Masonic status.  He was not a Freemason.  History nor Hoover himself have never had much to say about why… he just wasn't.

In the unpublished memoirs of prolific Masonic author Ray V. Denslow, however, we learn there is more to the story. Former Secretary of Agriculture, Arthur M. Hyde, lived in Trenton, Missouri, near the town where Denslow resided.  After his presidency had ended, Hoover visited Hyde at his home and a few guests were invited to the affair.  Denslow and his wife Clara were among those fortunate to receive an invitation and he gave the following account:

"Mrs. Denslow and I were both invited to the Hyde home to meet both Mr. and Mrs. Hoover. The evening proved to be in the nature of a reception. I had opportunity to talk privately with Mr. Hoover for a time and to study him and his wife at close range. Mr. Hyde said to him 'this is the young man I spoke to you about.'

I never did learn what he was speaking about, unless it was that Mr. Hyde told me once that Mr. Hoover would petition the Masonic fraternity if he thought he could get in.  The inquiry came before campaign time and I assured Mr. Hyde that he knew, as well as I, that any attempt to present a petition at that time might be regarded as campaign propaganda. He said Mr. Hoover wouldn't consider it in that event and the matter apparently dropped here.

Another interesting thing Mr. Hyde said to me, was that when Hoover attended college in California he was not a member of any college fraternity. Several fraternity men attempted to keep him from going with Miss Lou Henry, later his wife, who was a sorority girl; this angered him to such an extent that he always regarded fraternities with a questionable eye. Not until after his experiences in Europe and this country did he assume a favorable attitude towards them."

Hoover's situation, then, was somewhat similar to Lincoln's — political reasons may have prevented him from becoming a Freemason.  What's more, he may have put off thoughts about joining until it was too late due to a prior negative experience with fraternities.  It's not clear how seriously Hoover may have thought he wouldn't "get in," but it is a near certainty he would have been elected to receive the degrees had he done so.

Lincoln, King, Hoover and probably many others have considered knocking at the outer door but for whatever reason just didn't take that first step; and in the vast majority of cases it's a shame.  The craft most certainly would have been all that much better having them as Brothers.


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

Freemasonry - Connecting It All

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RWB Robert H. Johnson

Freemasonry--that age old fraternity that conspiracy theorists claim “control everything”. We say, "We don't know anything relating to a ‘World Agenda’". They say, "You're just not high enough in the order." But what if for the first time ever, a Freemason, me, told the truth about how it's possibly all true? I guess, there's just no great way to begin, so I'll just illuminate all of you, right here, right now. In abbreviated form, keep reading for the truth.

In the beginning, man was simple, relating more to the side of primates. In fact, we lived alongside primates of every kind. Life on Earth was a paradise. Not in the sense of paradise like we know it to be, but in the sense of a well maintained eco system of flora and fauna. This was the case of course until the arrival of a sizable force of aliens had arrived.

These aliens did in fact, alter the human DNA while here. Perhaps to make docile workers in order to mine gold for their home world. There were many races, dwarfs, fairy types, giants or nephilim, elves and more. Even the mixed races like satyrs and minotaurs were among the creatures roving the lands. Humanity then revolted after a while, due to a few of the alien overlords giving man certain pieces of knowledge. They learned the truth! The wars that ensued are outlined in Hindu texts. Human kind then evolved and formed high societies. These societies formed huge kingdoms all over the Earth.

Heretofore, I have referred to our planet as Earth, however all of these events I have described, happened before we were Earth. Before we were Earth, we were called Tiamat. It was a monstrous planet and all around it were technologically advanced civilizations, utilizing technologies that would seem foreign to us even now, because they were in fact thousands of years more advanced than our current evolution of humanity.

These cities survive today as the mythical legends of Atlantis, Lemuria, Avalon, Shangri-La, and Camelot. At the apex of these civilizations existence, something truly remarkable and devastating happened. Nibiru, the mythical "Planet-X", a planet the size of our current Earth, and that has a wide elliptical path through our solar system, was identified as having been on a direct collision path with Tiamat.

Tiamat's leaders could do nothing to prevent this. All was lost when Nibiru smashed into Tiamat killing almost all life and eradicating most traces of the mythical lands we read about. Nibiru's trajectory had forever been changed and in fact would never return to it's prior orbit. However this impact created two new bodies known today as Earth and the moon, the only remnant of the once giant paradise, Tiamat. The rest of Tiamat is observable as our very own asteroid belt. Space debris.

Mankind's cellular DNA was spread all over the leftover mass of planet. Fast forward millions of years man develops and evolves yet again and civilizations like the Ancient Egyptians eventually discovered some of the high technology of our previous incarnations. These technologies were developed into teachings, which were so powerful, so life changing, they were only given to the priests and kings. These were the beginnings of the mystery schools. These schools eventually were adopted by many other cultures like the Greeks as the Dionysian rituals and to the Romans in their Mythraic cult which worshipped Sol Invictus.

The gods of old, the legends of Enoch, the legends all around the world of gods or watchers or angels, came to Tiamat and gave us civilization. Whether it was Quetzalcoatl, Kukulkan, Wan Hu, King Arthur, Hiram Abif, Thoth, Hermes Trismegistus or the mythical Jack Burton and David Lopan, they were here.

Freemasonry became the home of this hidden history and this is how we control the world. We practice the teachings discovered by the ancients, handed down to us from the unknown superiors and ....I almost had you. Almost.


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 Three Apprentices: An Experiment- Chapter One

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Adam Thayer

I recently took the first of my three apprentices. That is probably a bit of an obscure statement to most people, so please allow me to explain.

In the Schaw Statutes, which laid out some basic rules for Operative Masons, and set the groundwork for the transition to Speculative Masonry, there is a rule that is often overlooked, and I have only very rarely heard it discussed. It reads, “No master shall take more than three 'prentices in his lifetime, without the special consent of all the wardens, deacons, and masters of the sheriffdom in which the to-be-received 'prentice resides.”

Of course, in terms of Operative Masonry, this statute makes great logical sense: to protect the reputation and income stream of the order. If anyone could become a stonemason, the supply would quickly exceed the demand, and income for the working masons would quickly drop. Even worse, if someone less than reputable performed shoddy work at an inflated price, all stonemasons would suffer for it; for anyone needing a modern example, consider the auto mechanic. While most mechanics are good, honest people making a living, there are some who use their specialized knowledge to rob from those who don’t know any better, and so in the eyes of the general public (and especially stand up comics), all mechanics are out to “rip us off.”

The Schaw Statutes go on to further lay out some rules for apprenticeships, such as the term (fourteen years total, which may be abridged by a vote of the lodge), how the Master should care for the apprentice (he can’t, for instance, sell him to another Master), and some fines for breaking these rules (40 pounds, or approximately $11,234 in today’s money, if the University of Wyoming can be trusted to calculate the inflation properly). While this information is definitely interesting from a historical perspective, and is worth your time to read over, it doesn’t directly pertain to the topic of this paper and can safely be ignored for now.

Is there a value to following this same guideline today? If you’ve read any of my other papers, you know I don’t ask a rhetorical question like that unless I plan to address it in a way that supports my intention for writing the paper. But first, as is usually my habit, I’m going to go on a long winded rant that will describe the problem in enough detail that even those unfamiliar with the situation can understand why the solution is important.

In my few years of Masonry, I have seen many men get rushed into Masonry, and then, for various reasons, leave again. Some of them went on to be a part of the higher grades of Masonry, such as the various Rites, some were absorbed directly into the Shrine, but many of them just disappeared, never to be heard from again.

Now, I know we’ve all talked about the “membership issue” from many different thought processes (I personally like “we’re not declining, we’re refining”), but this is one angle that I haven’t seen discussed yet: what a WASTE that system is.

It’s a waste of a man who, if given the proper guidance and training, may have been an amazing asset to the lodge. It also means that if he ever does receive what he came to us for (improvement of self through esoteric knowledge), it won’t be from us, and we are supposed to be the experts on the topic!

Equally bad, it’s a waste of our time, and I can’t speak for you, but my time is severely limited. In addition to the time spent on the degrees themselves, there is the time the lodge spends practicing in preparation, and the time each brother spends individually practicing to give the candidate the best degree possible. (At least, I really HOPE you are, and if you need any motivation as to why you should be giving the best degree possible, go read my paper titled “On The Membership Issue or: Why The Troma Rules of Products Doesn’t Apply to Freemasonry”) That time is time that I could use for a dozen other things, like writing papers, or playing with my daughter. I definitely don’t want to waste it on someone who isn’t going to stick around.

“Someone who isn’t going to stick around”... That sentence sounds so much like I’m blaming the candidate for leaving us, but the truth is, it’s very rarely his fault for leaving, it’s almost always our fault for not keeping him. Shame on us.

So, what is the solution?

I truly believe that most men today come to Masonry to receive deeper learning that will help them improve themselves, even if they can’t put it into words, and all throughout the degree process we work directly with them, teaching them some basics, and promising they will learn everything once they have completed their degrees. Once they have finished their degrees, we tell them “Well, you get out of it what you put into it” and then turn our focus to the next candidate. What message does that send our new brothers? “Hey, we got you in, now you’re not important to us any more.”

Some of the smarter lodges will assign a mentor, who will work one-on-one with the candidate during the whole degree process, to help him memorize the ritual work he will have to recite, and even answering the occasional question, if it isn’t too complicated. This man will continue to work with the new brother until after he has completed his Master’s proficiency, but will most likely move on to the next as soon as that is finished.

To paraphrase Andrew Ryan, I reject those answers; instead I choose something different. I choose the impossible. I choose apprenticeship.

It may seem that taking an apprentice isn’t really that different from being a mentor, however there are some key differences. “Apprentice” implies first that he will be learning everything I know to teach him, not just the memory work for his proficiency. Now, I’ll grant that I know only a small portion of everything there is to know Masonically, but it is my hope that in the process of teaching, I’ll also be learning from him, and so we both become better Masons for it!

“Apprentice” also implies a longer process; the Schaw Statute recommends seven years of teaching followed by seven years of practicing before he can move from an apprentice to a fellow of the craft. Unfortunately, I don’t believe our Grand Lodge would be ok with me holding a man as an EA for seven years, and even if they did, I don’t know that I have enough to teach on a single degree for that long. Instead of seven years, let’s decide on “longer than the one month per degree that most men experience.”

Since (per the Schaw Statute) we are limited to three apprentices in a lifetime, I must be significantly pickier about who I choose for this process, as making a mistake in the selection means a large waste of time and resources, and it also means that someone who would benefit more from it is missing out. Note, I do plan to stick to this very strictly, unless (as Schaw later allows for) there is an extremely extenuating circumstance, in which case I will seek guidance from my three apprentices as to how they believe I should proceed. I will be turning to them instead of to all the masters and wardens, because I have no idea how large my sheriffdom is.

Finally, “apprentice” implies a significantly more intimate connection than a mentorship under the current process achieves. It is my hope that by the end of the apprenticeship, his family and my family have become friends, and that he and I are truly like brothers because of our shared experiences studying. In short, I hope that we have become what our founders envisioned us to be.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions, things I’m not quite sure how to tackle, but I’m hoping that once we get started it will become an organic process. I also imagine there will be quite a lot of adjusting course as we go along, so I’m trying to keep my plans flexible. As I said in the title, this is an experiment. Hopefully, the results will inspire some of you to try it as well, and the details of the process will help you avoid some of my pitfalls.

So, as I said at the start, I’ve taken the first of my three apprentices. His name is Neil, and over the next year or so you will get to experience his journey along with him, both through my observations (again, remember this is an experiment), and through his own words. His Entered Apprentice degree is in the very near future, so we will have quite a lot to talk about in the near future!
Until then.

WB Adam Thayer is a grumpy-ish past master of Oliver #38 in Seward, NE and Lancaster #54 in Lincoln, NE. He continues to be reappointed to the Grand Lodge of Nebraska Education Committee, as well as being an occasional host on the Whence Came You Podcast. He may be reached directly at or summoned by placing a certain number of lapel pins in a special pattern around a petition for an appendant body.

The Importance Of A Good Reputation

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason 33°

“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, 
and only one bad one to lose it.”

~Benjamin Franklin

One thing that was pounded into young men in my generation was the importance of building a good reputation.  It’s hard work, because your reputation is the public reflection of your character.  It is what other people see and come to believe about you.  It’s based on what you do.  It’s based on what you say.  It’s based on how you act.  It’s based on how you treat other people, and how you make other people feel.  There are few things more important than reputation when it comes to our success, or our failure as a person. It can take years to build a reputation—it can take mere seconds to destroy it.  It is something we should be very deliberate about building, and very careful about protecting because it is the essence of who we are.  And it’s very difficult to rebuild a reputation after you’ve allowed it to become tarnished.

I don’t deserve the reputation I have. 

I hear that a lot.  It’s very rarely ever true.  You see, you can have a few people in your life that have an unfavorable opinion of you.  Everyone does.  But your reputation is what most people that know you think of you.  If you have a reputation of being opinionated and outspoken, chances are you’re opinionated and outspoken.  If you have a reputation for being undependable, you’re probably undependable.  Sometimes people don’t think that’s fair—but reputation is based on a very sound principle.  It’s based on your past behavior, and any employer or supervisor will tell you that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. 

I’m going to to say what I want to say, and do what I want to do, and I don’t really care what other people think. 

I hear that a lot, too.  Sounds very tough and defiant, but actually it’s a childish attitude to have.  That selfish and narcissistic attitude demonstrates a complete lack of care or concern for other people—most specifically those that love you and care about you.  Your reputation reflects on you, sure, but you don’t think it also reflects on your spouse?  On your kids?  Your family?  Your community?  Your church?  Your fraternity?  Your employer?  You’ve never heard anybody say, “she’s a real nice lady, but her husband is a real jerk.”  You’ve never heard somebody say, “I don’t know why he hangs around with that guy—he’d steal the shirt right off your back.”  Of course you have.  Your actions affect everyone around you whether that’s your intention or not. 

Building a solid reputation is hard, because it requires an amazing amount of self discipline.  It requires us to learn from our mistakes and not continue to repeat them—those are the lessons that mature into wisdom eventually.  It requires us to learn when it is important for us to speak, and when it’s better to remain silent.  It requires us to to listen to others, and respect their point of view.  It requires us to admit when we are wrong, and to apologize when it’s appropriate.  It requires us to be truthful and honest in all of our dealings.  It requires us to do the things we say we’re going to do regardless of how difficult the task may be. 

Men of good reputation and solid character used to be more common than they are today.  We don’t teach the value of it anymore.  Our society is so focused inward on ourselves, and our own selfish needs.  We are a society of grown children, fighting and arguing on social media just like children used to fight and argue on the playground.  We’ve never grown up and become men, because we haven’t had the role models.  And just like children, we don’t think about what we’re saying, and we don’t think about what our words and actions are saying about us. 

We’d all be better off if we worked a lot harder at building ourselves as decent human beings rather than focusing so intently on satisfying our own needs.  And those of us who are able should focus on not only modeling those honorable character traits, but teaching others to be men of good character.  Men of good report.  Men of unquestioned reputation.


Originally posted on the From Labor To Refreshment blog January 9th, 2018

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 No. 282.  You can contact him at: