The Final Countdown (Not the song by Europe)

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

I was looking for something to watch tonight (July 17, 2018) and saw that one of my guilty pleasure
movies was available on demand. The movie, ‘The Final Countdown’, was released in 1980. Starring Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Charles During, Katharine Ross, James Farentino, and Ron O’Neal, the premise is that while on maneuvers outside of Pearl Harbor, The USS Nimitz, encounters a strange storm. After some investigation, it becomes apparent that the aircraft carrier has been transported through time to December 6, 1941. The crew then must make a decision regarding whether to impact history by destroying the Japanese fleet before it can attack Pearl Harbor, or allow history to take its course. Ultimately, the decision to attack the Japanese Fleet is made, but the strange storm reappears. Unable to outrun the storm before they can destroy the fleet, they return to the present day. Of course, this is an over simplification of the plot, but the movie made me think about something.

Imagine if you will, “You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead- your next stop, a lodge meeting in the past.” If you were able to travel back in time, to a lodge meeting say 100 years ago, what do you think you’d encounter? Most of us would probably answer that we’d see a lodge room full of our Brothers engaged in fellowship. The golden age of Freemasonry. But my guess is that after those brothers were done investigating you and probably questioning your manner of dress, that you’d encounter brethren frustrated with the state of Freemasonry.

We tend to have a romantic view of the past. If you want some interesting reading, read through the minutes of your home lodge from 100 years ago. (Or an older lodge if your home lodge was formed after 1918). I am willing to bet that you will see that the attendance was not much better than it is today. Sure, each lodge may have had a greater membership, but I’m willing to bet that you’re going to see attendance pretty much the same. You’re going to read about all of the issues that face us as Masons today, facing them. You’re going to quickly realize that Freemasonry as an institution hasn’t really changed in the past 100 years.

So being 100 years in the past, what advice could you possibly give to your Brothers? What wisdom would you impart? Do you think that you could change something in the past that would radically impact the future? Would you reveal that you were from the future?

We each most likely will have different answers to the above questions. If you’re a regular reader of our blog, then I tend to believe that you probably care about Freemasonry. I’d also be willing to believe that you are an active member of Freemasonry. So if you have answers to the above questions regarding advice, wisdom or change that you could give to our Brothers in the past then guess what? You can impact Masonry now. If the issues of Freemasonry haven’t changed in 100 years, whatever answers you could provide for then would still be relevant now.

I know, I know... Past Masters, bylaws, impediments. It’s not that easy to change the institution. Actually it is. If you aren’t getting out of Masonry what you want to get out of Masonry, then I’m willing to bet there are a good number of Brothers in neighboring lodges that feel the same way. Find them. Seek them out, and tell them there has to be a better way. Apply your answers to the questions above by finding a lodge that is in need of saving (At that point, the remaining Brethren of that lodge are going to be more open to change in order to keep the lodge open), or form a new lodge. You can’t change the past. You have the ability to change the future. You just need to find a corner of the world to create something that you and other like-minded Brethren have a stake in. “It has to start somewhere. It has to start sometime. What better place than here? What better time than now?”-RATM, Guerilla Radio 


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 No. 282, 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. You can reach him by email at

Death Creeps

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson

"The Scythe is an emblem of time, which cuts the brittle thread of life, and launches us into eternity." These words spoken near the end of the Master Mason Emblems lecture catch us of guard. I know the first time I heard them, I almost didn't hear anything else after. As the lecture moves on, we hear the following, "We follow our friends to the brink of the grave, and standing on the shore of a vast ocean, gaze with exquisite anxiety, until the last dreadful struggle is over and see them sink into the fathomless abyss."

I've always thought that that particular bit was a striking visual representation of what it's like to watch people around you die. But the lecture continues still, "We feel our own feet slide from the precarious bank on which we stand, and but a few suns more, my Brother, and we too will be whelmed mid Death's awful waves, there rest in the stilly shade where the worm shall cover us, and naught but silence and darkness reign around our melancholy abode."

Is there a better description of feeling that emotional anxiety that comes with realizing our own mortality? "...Our own feet sliding", reminds me of growing up on the ocean, standing there gazing out at the vastness and as the waves crash and the water creeps up the beach, we think, surely it won't get us. But it's reach is underestimated. We stand there, gazing out, and in a matter of minutes our feet are buried in the sand as each waves pulled us deeper into the ground.

The last two weeks have been trying. This past Sunday, a Fraternity Brother, along with his wife were in a bad car accident. They will recover. That same evening, another Fraternity Brother in my area suffered a traumatic stroke. He's still in the hospital, and has been unresponsive, although he has had some marked improvement. Then we lost Bro. Tech, aka Frank Rook, aka Lance Kates on Thursday. Later that same day, we lost Jim Tresner, a titan in Masonry. And the morning I am writing this, Sunday July 15th, my sister called me to tell me my brother passed. Totally unexpected. He was 46.

We return to the lecture, focussing now on the Hour Glass. Time moves, it passes almost imperceptibly. "Today he [man] puts forth the tender leaves of hope; tomorrow blossoms, and bears his blushing honors thick upon him; the next day comes the frost, which nips the shoot, and when he thinks his greatness is still aspiring, he falls, like autumn leaves to enrich our Mother Earth."

Death is organic. It's biology, it happens everyday. These losses are nothing in comparison to the whole, but in my circles, we received a reminder of the important lesson on Death. A good friend, Bro. Ben Wallace was talking to us one day and he said, "The test always comes before the lesson." Well, we've been tried and tested. Perhaps the lesson is in the retrospection of how we handle these tests.

It's time to keep moving.


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 is also a Past 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 the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry" and is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.

The Pitfalls Of Being Worshipful Master

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

I recently ran across some photos of being installed Worshipful Master of Ogden Lodge back in 2010.  I recall that day clearly.  I remember going home after being installed, all wound up about all the things I was going to accomplish during my year in the East.  I told my wife, Valerie, that it wasn't necessary for her to call me Worshipful at home--she could just call me MASTER.  

I was only joking, but it made her so angry, I didn't see her for two solid weeks!  Well, actually after a week, I could see her a little bit out of my left eye.


Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blogYou can contact him with complaints about this piece at:


by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

I had my last meeting as Master of St. Joseph #970 on June 7, 2018. I’ve made no secret about my struggles as Master if you’re a regular reader of The Midnight Freemasons. As a Farewell address, I said the following to the Lodge members there. We actually had all of the chairs filled for my last meeting, which was due to having a dinner and ceremony honoring the Veterans and First Responders in the Lodge. The names have been expunged for privacy reasons. I present it below, in edited format:

     "People talk about how the seat in the East is a hot seat, but you really don’t grasp it until you sit here. As a Mason, you have to remember to act in a certain way while in public in order to not give the Fraternity a bad name. As the Master of the Lodge, this is doubly so. You are the public face of the Lodge to the Community. You’re expected at every Grand Lodge school, every local event.

     We’ve had successes this year. We’ve brought in two amazing Brothers. "Brother K" and "Brother C". We raised a lot of items for the food bank with our "trunk or treat". We should look to try to expand that this year. I think it is still a great idea. We are still having an adult pinewood derby and most of that money is going to another worthy cause. The multi lodge chili dinner was a success also. I think tonight is a success. We are blessed to have Bro. S and C. They are amazing cooks. Let’s give them a round of applause to thank them.

     It’s been a rough year for me. I faced a lot of challenges. Stairs, juggling officers, falling attendance at meetings and lodge events. I’ve been super critical of myself as Master this year. I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I wanted to. I blame myself for a lot of things that were out of my control, but because they happened on my watch they feels like they are my legacy."

(Note to the reader: We spent over 5k on stair repairs. My Junior Warden had an opportunity to go to school, so he discussed it with me and we both agreed that he couldn’t pass it up. However it put me in a position where I had to elevate my Senior Deacon to Junior Warden for a majority of the meetings.)

     "I don’t think we maintained the level of excellence that we should have. There were a lot of events that we needed numbers for officer wise, and we weren’t able to do it. Now these are just accolades, but I still think that we need to have some standard set. We will become sloppy without instruction. Hopefully we can start having schools of instruction again, even if they are before meetings. I’d also like to see us try to reach out to brothers who haven’t come to lodge to check us out. I know that my hope was that would happen tonight."

(Note to the reader: The Grand Lodge of Illinois awards a Grand Master’s Award of Excellence. Last year we were second in the state for lodges under 80 members. This year we will not receive the award. This is the level of excellence to which I’m referring. My hopefulness regarding getting brothers to lodge was due to having a dinner to recognize members of the lodge that were Veterans or First Responders before my last meeting as Master. My hope was that we’d have a decent turnout of some members of the lodge that hadn’t been to lodge in a while. It seems my optimism was not well founded. However we had every chair filled in the lodge and two of our Fellowcrafts were present, so it was better than the average attendance.)

     "I also think we lack in the area of education. As the District Education Officer, I’d like to see the incoming Master appoint a lodge education officer for me to work with. I’d like to see education be a part of the meetings going forward. I know there are groans and sighs, but if you make it short, it can work. Even if it’s just showing some short YouTube video, something is better than nothing. Education doesn’t need to just be Masonic. There are many folks here that have a wealth of experience in life that you might not know about. Bro. W for example is a WWII vet. And if he’s willing to share some of those stories, that can be your education. Or Bro. Secretary B… B was on Hillary Clinton’s security detail when she came to give the commencement speech at the U of I in 1994. My point is, there are opportunities for education within this room, which can be utilized with little or no effort.

     We need to challenge ourselves to show up for events. If we discuss an event in lodge, and everyone agrees to it, then I see that as a de facto confirmation that you’re going to be able to participate. There is nothing more frustrating as a Master than to try to do things as a lodge, fun things like a movie night, and only have one or two brother’s show up. So if you can’t make it, don’t vote for it. Tell the lodge that you can’t make it. Make sure the Master is aware. Don’t be afraid to communicate, or think that other brothers will think less of you. Honestly I would have thanked you for your honesty and been able to schedule or reschedule based upon the input of the lodge. So I’d encourage the lodge to try get more exposure doing things together. Involve the newer members, get them active. They are the key to our future growth. If we give Bros. K, C, W, and C a good experience in Lodge, then they will get other men like them to join.

     To Bro. F, our incoming Master. Rely on your officers. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Use our secretary B. He’ll move heaven and hell for you. Just make sure you communicate everything with him. The issues I had this year were mainly due to me trying to do a lot of stuff myself, and not using him or communicating with him.

     Good Luck, try not to let the chair get to you. If you need anything from any of the Past Masters, they’ll be willing to give you advice. Good Luck and may the Great Architect bless your endeavors for the coming year.

     And since I’m a glutton for punishment, I’m going to be Master at Homer 199. Try to come visit us on the 3rd Monday at 6 for Dinner and the meeting is at 7. We’ve made education our focus there and I think we’ve got a formula that works. I’d like to see more lodges adopt it. So come out and see what all the fuss is about.

    Thanks again for the opportunity to serve you and the lodge as Master.


And with that, my time in the East at Saint Joseph was done. I had a week’s respite before being installed at as Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge #199. I know that some of what I said fell on deaf ears. I’ve always been a believer in actions speaking louder than words. I hope that the energy I poured into St. Joseph #970 will pay dividends. As for me, I’m solely going to be focused on bringing Brothers to Homer #199 for education and fellowship. We meet the 3rd Monday of each month, with dinner at 6 PM, and the meeting at 7pm. One thing unique that we do at Homer is that we have education first. We also allow any visiting brethren to leave if they don’t want to stay for our business. We realize that you’ve come a ways to visit us. If you’re ever in the East Central Illinois area, you can meet not only myself, but also Midnight Freemasons Founder Todd E. Creason and Senior Contributor Gregory J. Knott. We’d love to have you.


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 No. 282, 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. You can reach him by email at

A Witness to History

How big ideas come from small conversations

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Michael Arce

Sometimes it’s the things we say to each other outside of lodge that have the greatest impact within the craft.

History by its very nature is abundant in Freemasonry. Photographs of our distinguished Brothers hang in our lodges. Pictures of our esoteric ideas and symbolism decorate our halls. The legacy of George Washington is so strong, I would bet that there is not one member today who would fail to identify the “Washington as a Freemason” portrait with him wearing his Worshipful Master apron while standing at his station. Close your eyes, you can see it too.

History’s mark is evident on every event in Freemasonry. In our first degree we as the candidate, who after months or years of preparation, have finally come to the moment we have longed for; to become a Brother and learn the secrets of the craft. Think back to your EA degree. Do you remember the feeling you had when something was demanded of you? That brief moment creates an impressive lesson in our masonic career that spurs our desire to be a part of something great.

Some of us continue on the path of contributing a worthy accomplishment for the benefit of the craft. 

This summer I was fortunate to witness history in New York Masonry. “We haven’t had a Lodge dedication in Monroe County since 1927,” proclaimed Deputy Grand Master of New York Masons, RW Richard J. (RJ) Kessler. “That was around the same time as ‘The Great Gatsby,’ must have been some year!” On Saturday, June 9, 2018 Ecclesia Lodge No. 1189 was officially presented its charter by the Grand Master of New York Masons, MW William M. Sardone and Past Grand Master, MW Jeffrey M. Williamson, along with members of the New York State Grand Line. Our Grand Master, in his address, spoke to the significance of the day’s event. How too often we hear of lodges consolidating or worse, surrendering their charter and closing their door forever.

What made this lodge dedication special was more than the fact that it was the first new lodge chartered in Rochester in 91 years -- it was that the beginning of this lodge started as a conversation in the backseat of the car ride to a masonic event in Buffalo between three Brothers. As Bro. Sam Friedman, the newly installed Junior Warden of Ecclesia Lodge and author of “Millennial Apprentices: The Next Revolution in Freemasonry”, described that moment as, “we were just talking about what we wanted from a lodge.” The ‘we’ here is Bro. Ryan Ramplin, now Secretary of Ecclesia Lodge. “I wanted created a lodge that I was excited to attend,” exclaimed Friedman.

The dedication of a lodge is a grand ceremony, if you have the chance to attend one, I highly recommend it. The experience will leave you with energy from the excitement of joy and pride on the faces of the new lodge members who accomplished years of planning and preparation that led to the day. “We began researching the process of chartering a new lodge,” said Friedman. “The steps are outlined in our constitution but as you know, it has been sometime since the last lodge was dedicated.” For example a lodge under dispensation in New York State must show proficiency in the Standard Work and Lectures. “We had to prove ritual proficiency. Did that mean we needed to display opening and closing of a lodge? Did we have to provide proof of degree work? We were unsure. There were many times we contacted Grand Lodge for answers and direction.”

What made this challenge unique to Ecclesia was that their idea for this new lodge was not typical by any means.

As Sam shared with me, “Our goal was to create a lodge that hearkened back to the experiences that the Brethren in the 18th century experienced, a Lodge that not only fulfilled the spiritual needs of its members, but also actively assisted them as they sought wisdom and enlightenment.”

By design business meetings were replaced with discussions as the Lodge meets quarterly on a Saturday afternoon with a fifth meeting exclusively, “For elections, reading petitions to affiliate, balloting, and paying bills,” Friedman commented. Ecclesia offers a “Builders Library” as part of its membership. Included in their dues are the books and reading materials, the subjects of lodge discussions (so far they have provided 6 books to members) as well as the cost of meals.

In December of 2017 I was invited to attend an Ecclesia meeting by a formal invitation sent from Worshipful Master Bill Edwards. I quickly extended the invite to two of my Brothers from the Old 17th District to make the three hour road trip to Rochester. Included in the invite was a letter outlining the assigned reading material as well as “The Rules of Engagement.” Each Brother was expected to contribute to the discussion. When you wanted to request the opportunity to speak, we were instructed to turn on the light of our small candle placed in front of our name card on the table. The subject for discussion was “What Is the Interplay between Punishment and Redemption,” which comes from the lessons in the numerous references in our ritual for breaking masonic obligations. The assigned book title along with a summary of the reading became the main talking point during our car ride to Western New York!

Ecclesia has a unique manner in how their meetings are conducted. Before lodge you enter the Chamber of Reflection to collect your thoughts, meditate, and focus. You can smell the scents from the oils fueling the lights, combined with the aroma from incense and candles burning in the lodge room. The mood is calm and sober. When you enter the lodge room you see three tables set up like a table lodge or festive board, in a U formation. These tables and seats are positioned just south of the altar. The officers sit in their respective stations to start each meeting. After the Opening of Lodge, the Worshipful Master instructs the Brothers attending to take their place at one of the three tables assembled in the center of the room. Once seated the primary officers began the discussion by sharing their thoughts; it wasn’t long until every candle was lit.

When the discussion was ended by the Master, the officers and Brethren returned to their stations and places for Closing of Lodge. Afterwards I looked down at my watch with surprise to see that it had been THREE hours since the meeting began. It felt like 30 minutes! I can’t tell you how many times it has felt the other way around after a typical “business meeting.” Ecclesia then hosts a post-meeting dinner at a restaurant where the conversation continues during the reception along with the usual fellowship we all enjoy at masonic meals. As visitors we felt just as welcome and included as the regular attendees. Our three hour drive back to the Capital Region was filled with highlights from the meeting and a desire to bring this discussion format to our lodges back home.

I realize, this concept, an open dialogue in lodge, is hard to fathom. The idea that every Brother contributes to a discussion may seem impossible. But Ecclesia Lodge has found a way to encourage the conversation flow. After attending their meeting in December, seeing every candle glowing and hearing every Brothers’ voice, an invitation was sent to Sam Friedman to present this format to my mother lodge, St. George’s #6, in Schenectady, New York. His talk was one of the highlights of our year with many members asking follow up questions, wanting to know how we could create a similar experience in a future meeting. He also spoke at our Masters and Officers (District) meeting that winter, again with the same response. Six months later while sitting in Grand Lodge, I smiled proudly when the Grand Master read that Ecclesia’s charter had been approved. At the Grand Master’s dinner that evening I congratulated Ecclesia’s Master, Bill Edwards, on the Lodge’s accomplishment. I was surprised to learn that two and half years had past since Sam and Ryan’s idea was put into action, they were now official!

Instead of accepting the norm, dare to change it.
The work for the members of Ecclesia Lodge #1189 is really just beginning. Now they must band together to sustain this idea, constantly working in harmony to ensure their lodge is relevant to future members and the craft. There is no denying that Masons today are all seeking the education and enlightenment promised to us when we are raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason. Books and recorded history are resources that will continue to be at our disposal in seeking the additional light we are promised. Finding the light is rarely the problem. Finding a place to light our candle, share our knowledge with like-minded Brethren, and improving ourselves --- that is constant challenge that has persisted to exist throughout the detailed history of modern American Freemasonry.

The lesson that we can learn from the Brothers of Ecclesia Lodge #1189 is that history is present to those who dare to make it. If you want to improve your lodge discussions; do it. Become a part of the solution: get involved! Share your ideas with the Brothers of your lodge or district. Tell your Master that you would like to present a program in an upcoming meeting. Be that single source of light that begins small and grows into a chorus of burning passion. As John F. Kennedy once said, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”

To contact Bro. Sam Friedman to learn more about engaging lodge discussions, visit his website at


Michael Arce is JW of St. George’s #6, Schenectady and a member of Mt. Zion #311, Troy New York. When not in Lodge, Bro. Arce is the Marketing Manager for Capital Cardiology Associates in Albany, New York. He enjoys meeting new Brothers and hearing how the Craft has enriched their lives. He can be reached at

NASA - Giordano Bruno and Other Worlds

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Travis Simpkins 

The best parts of being a freelancer are the frequent surprises that come along with it. When you open yourself up and are willing to work with anyone, you never know who will reach out to you next.

One morning a couple months back, I woke up and checked my email like I always do. Mixed in with the usual communications was a rather peculiar one. The message was from NASA, and the writer was looking for permission to use my artwork depicting the 16th Century Hermetic philosopher/astronomer Giordano Bruno in an upcoming presentation in Sorrento, Italy. The artwork was to be projected on screen during a lecture by Colonel Roger Hunter, program manager of the Kepler Mission, and this particular section of the presentation would focus on Bruno's theories regarding “other worlds.” After restraining my excitement and quickly verifying the information, I very happily agreed to the request.

It was obvious why NASA is interested in Giordano Bruno (1548-1600). He was an ex-friar turned natural philosopher, whose Hermetic teachings put him at odds with the dominant ideological visions of the Church. Condemned by the Inquisition as a heretic, Bruno was burned at the stake in Rome's Campo di'Fiori on February 17, 1600. Among the many theories introduced by Bruno, one of his most profound was the idea that the universe is infinite and the stars we see in the night sky are actually suns being orbited by other planets that have life on them.

It was also obvious how Colonel Roger Hunter and the Kepler Mission are inspired by Giordano Bruno's work. According to the official statement on NASA's website: “The Kepler Mission, NASA Discovery Mission #10, is specifically designed to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover hundreds of Earth-size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone and determine the fraction of the hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy that might have such planets.”

Less obvious, to me anyway, was just how strong the Masonic connection was to all of this. I knew of astronomical references in the lectures and of Bruno's influence on memorization, relevant to our ritual studies, through his well known work on “The Art of Memory” which utilized the many mnemonic devices we all use (whether we credit Bruno for it or not). However, I didn't fully see another much deeper and direct Masonic connection until I shared the news of this project on my Facebook page. Soon after posting the update, Shawn Eyer commented asking if I had seen the old Fellow Craft lectures that related to Bruno's theory. I replied in the negative and he sent me a fantastic article he had written titled “Numberless Worlds, Infinite Beings” that had originally been published in Philalethes (Vol. 65, No. 3) back in 2012. Among the mosaic of valuable insights contained within the essay was an eloquent quote, once included in the Fellow Craft Degree, that directly corresponded to the subject. I found myself reflecting on it's meaning and implications for much of that day. The words were taken from William Preston's 1780 Lecture of the Second Degree: “Here we perceive thousands and thousands of suns, multiplied without end, all arranged around us, at immense distances from each other, attended by ten thousand times ten thousand worlds, all in rapid motion; yet calm, regular, and harmonious; invariably keeping their prescribed paths, and all peopled with a myriad of intelligent beings, formed for endless progress, in perfection and happiness.”

Ask a number of supposedly learned people about Giordano Bruno and at least half of them will reply, “Who?” Never elevated to his proper status among the historical luminaries that comprise the world's greatest thinkers, Bruno is under-appreciated and yet his enduring influence is still ever-present in the shadows. On the landing of the main staircase in the House of the Temple, chiseled into the wall, is a quote attributed to Albert Pike that reads, “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” While meaningful in their own right, Pike's words echo a sentiment written 300 years prior by Giordano Bruno: “What you receive from others is a testimony to their virtue; but all that you do for others is the sign and clear indication of your own.” (On the Infinite Universe and Worlds, 1584)


Travis Simpkins is a freelance artist with clients throughout the United States and Europe. He currently works on projects for the Supreme Council, 33°, NMJ in Lexington, Massachusetts. He also serves as a portrait artist for the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Grand Lodge of New Jersey and other jurisdictions across North America. His artwork is in many esteemed collections, including the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum in Independence, Missouri.

Bro. Simpkins is a member of Morning Star Lodge A.F. & A.M. in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is a 32° Mason in the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite- Valleys of Worcester and Boston. He is also a member of Eureka Royal Arch Chapter, Hiram Council of Royal & Select Master Masons and Worcester County Commandery No. 5, Knights Templar.

A Brother’s Love

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Robert E. Jackson

Seven score and 17 years ago, the United States of America was ripped apart and thrust into war with each other. The 85 year-old debate between State independence and centralized Federal control, was coming to a head. The descendants of those who worked and lived side by side in a fight for independence from the British Crown, had turned their guns and aggression onto each other. Families were split, and the friends and Brothers found themselves in opposition on the battlefields. The entire world was watching, not only to see if this experiment in democracy could survive, but as 75% of the worlds cotton originated in the southern states, the topic of slavery and 'free' labor had global economic implications.

Roughly two years into the war, 155 years ago this week, the soldiers and civilians of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, would witness a battle more horrific and bloody than anything imaginable at the time. During a 3 day period, the lives roughly 50,000 people were eliminated, with more deaths following due to complications of the countless injured. To give this some perspective, the entire population of Providence, Rhode Island, in 1860, was about 50,000 people. An entire city's worth of people, gone. The estimated 2400 civilians who lived in Gettysburg, PA, no longer had to imagine what hell was like, they could see it with their own eyes.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee thought his army was invincible, and on the 3rd of July, 1863, directed his soldiers to charge up the open fields of Gettysburg and attack the defenses of Union General George Meade. These men were supported by several commanding officers, and thousands of soldiers. Two sides, fighting to the death, and yet amidst the fighting, a symbol of true unconditional love, emerged.
Confederate Brigadier General Lewis Armistead, in an unwavering display of courage, charged through the bodies and bullets, and crossed the Union Lines. As he prepared to turn the Union cannons around and fire onto their owners, he was struck down. As Armistead fell, Union Captain Henry Bingham, noticed a familiar sign. Bingham was an aide to Union Major General Winfield Hancock, a man who knew, and was friends with, Armistead, since the 1850s. Again, friends battling friends. But these men were more than friends, they were Brothers. Bingham stepped into the fire, to the aid of General Armistead, his direct opponent. These men were ready to kill each other in battle, but when one fell, the fear and anger immediately turned to love and compassion. Armistead reportedly told Bingham “Tell General Hancock for me that I have done him and you all an injury which I shall regret the longest day I live.”

Yes, the Fourth of July is the day we celebrate the time when the founding fathers of the United States of America, stepped forward and pushed back upon an oppression. A task that seemed insurmountable. These men, many of which were Brothers, sacrificed everything for a better future for their children. But when Brothers disagreed on the future of our Country, they divided, and fought to the death. Throughout the cookouts and fireworks, it would behoove us as Masons to remember the value of Charity displayed by Brother Henry Bingham. We will never all agree on everything, but those differences are what strengthens us. When we feel divided from our Brothers, and from our Lodge, have the fortitude to reach across the battle lines, and spread the cement of Brotherly Love and Affection.


Robert Edward Jackson is a Past and presiding Master of Montgomery Lodge located in Milford, MA. His Masonic lineage includes his Father (Robert Maitland), Grandfather (Maitland Garrecht), and Great Grandfather (Edward Henry Jackson), a founding member of Scarsdale Lodge #1094 in Scarsdale, NY. When not studying ritual, he's busy being a father to his three kids, a husband, Boy Scout Leader, and a network engineer to pay for it all. He can be reached at