The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:
Hardly a man is now alive 
Who remembers that famous day and year.

One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



Suddenly the words came back to me more than 35 years after I first heard and read them. They have been familiar to generations of Americans since 1860 when they were penned by American Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Longfellow (1807-1882) was a prominent educator, serving on the faculty of Harvard University and living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

It was Longfellow’s home that I came across, as I walking through a neighborhood in Cambridge that brought his famous words to my memory. Now a National Historic Site, operated by the National Park Service, the home stands as a timeless reminder not only to Longfellow, but also George Washington.

Washington used the house as his Headquarters as he took command of the Continental Army in July 1775. His wife Martha, her son, daughter-in law and several enslaved servants joined him at the house as they converted into a functional residence/HQ. Here Washington would meet with many prominent men of his day such as Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and others, as they consulted with him on the war for independence.

The house was passed through several owners until Longfellow became the owner in 1843, buying it from Elizabeth Craigie. Longfellow had rented a room from Craigie from 1837-1843. He lived in the house until his death in 1882. Longfellow left his position at Harvard University to dedicate his full time efforts to writing and scholarship. It was during this time, in 1860 that he wrote his now infamous poem about Paul Revere.

As I walked about the beautiful grounds of the house, I thought about the courage and conviction of those founding fathers as they fought against tyranny. An army that was ill-equipped, untrained, in-experienced was going against the strongest military force of the time. Paul Revere, a silversmith and Freemason from Boston, whom Longfellow memorialized in this famous poem, was one of these patriots who had taken up the call to action and joined the Continental Army.

I realized I was standing on hallowed ground.

Longfellow closed out his poem about Paul Revere writing:

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm, —
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

~GJK

WB Gregory J. Knott is the Worshipful Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 in Ogden (IL) and a plural member of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC.

Living A Life That's Too Small

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

One thing you learn when you petition a Lodge of Freemasons, is that there are a lot of steps involved. The petition is submitted. It sits for a predetermined period of time. It’s voted on. 1st degree. Things to learn. 2nd degree. Things to learn. You get the idea. It’s methodical steps, and each step is intentional. It’s part of the process. Some steps give the lodge time to be intentional with a decision about whether to admit a candidate or not. Some steps are so the candidate learns everything he needs to know to advance to the next level with the knowledge he needs to do so.

When I was in school, video games were huge. It was the 80s, and I spend a great deal of time, and all of my resources (allowance, mowing money, etc.) one quarter at a time. Of course video games are all set up the same way. Hard in the beginning, but it gets easier as you become proficient in the skills required, and once you’ve got the skills mastered for that level, you go on to the next level—and that level is harder and usually requires additional skills. Hour after hour, and quarter after quarter, I’d get to higher and higher levels in the game. And in that era, that meant starting at the beginning very often and going through all the levels you’d already mastered. Those lower levels that challenged me in the beginning, were nothing to get through now. Inevitably however, something would always happen. I’d either reach the final level of the game, or I’d get to the point that the game was no longer challenging me anymore and I’d go looking for a new game to play.

Life is the same way. We always need new challenges to keep it interesting. We need to develop new skills to get to the next level.

That’s what brought me to Freemasonry in the beginning. I was looking for something I didn’t have. I was looking for new experiences. I was looking for new skills. I was looking for ways in which I could improve myself and contribute more to the community than I had been. I was looking for a different way to live my life because I’d been on the same level for too long. And I found everything I was looking for. I got over my fear of public speaking that had held me back for years. I found a voice in writing and have written six books (soon to be seven). I’ve learned leadership skills. I’ve made innumerable friends. And I’ve learned what one person with a good idea is capable of accomplishing—moreover, what one person with an idea and a group of friends willing to help is capable of accomplishing.  As we quickly approach 3 millions readers, The Midnight Freemasons blog is a good example of what my original idea, and a lot of help and hard work (and excellent writing) from my friends can accomplish. Freemasonry has taught me over and over again that like many others, I underestimate the impact and the potential of the individual. We make good men better, and we do that by helping to bring out the hidden talents and abilities of the one.

I don’t think I know a single person that is completely happy with where they’re at—that includes all the Freemasons I know. I think it’s almost universal for us to feel as if we want more out of the few years we live on this earth. But too often, especially when you get to be my age, we get to a level we’re comfortable with, and we stay there. We get the job we wanted. We get the house we wanted. We have the spouse and the kids and the dog and the yard, and we say to ourselves “well, that’s everything I set out to get in life.” And we stay there. And as happy as we may be in that place, part of us misses the challenge of getting there. There’s a part of us that knows there’s still more to be done and still more to be experienced in life.

It really is up to you how far you get . . .
It seems counter-intuitive, but mankind was built to be challenged, to be tested, and to keep growing. Just like in those video games, we have a built in desire to see what’s at the next level. Living a life that’s too small for us inevitable leads to future regret. It’s not the things we’ve done in life that we wind up regretting in the end. It’s the things we didn’t do.

~TEC


Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and is a regular contributor. He is the award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog. He is a Past Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) where he currently serves as Secretary. He is the Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research. (FMLR). He is a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 where he currently serves as EHP. He represents the Grand Lodge of Illinois A.F. & A.M. as the Eastern Area Education Officer. He is also a member of Tuscola Odd Fellows Lodge No. 316. You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Camp Masonry 2018 Recap

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson


"What in the world is Camp Masonry?", you may be asking. Well, I suppose before I tell you how it went, I'll tell you what it is. About three years ago, Bro. Jason Shamy and a group of close Brothers decided to do a camping trip together. Long story short, it's evolved into a huge thing. Two days at one of the largest campgrounds in America, cabins, tents, presenters, home cooked camp meals, fellowship and a few choice vendors. This year I had the opportunity to go and the honor to be a presenter. What I experienced was nothing short of what I can only describe as "a truly unique and definitive Masonic experience."

I arrived on Friday morning before the event took off. We pulled into the large parking lot of Camp Miakonda, the 6th largest camp in America and oldest in Ohio. It's a Boy Scout camp. The history at this camp was inspiring. I loaded my bags onto a cart and climbed aboard. We took a short cruise through a forest, over a bridge to a hollow where there stood a picnic ground, a large hall called "Council Lodge", the Ford Center and several small bunk house cabins.


The Council Lodge building was really nice. It's a round building which we were told used to have a fire pit in the middle and the roof would allow for ventilation. I'm unsure if it can still accommodate this feature, but it was amazing nonetheless. Walking around the camp grounds and familiarizing myself with the surroundings was a small adventure in itself. I soon met up with and made quick friends with Dan Hrinko, author of "The Craft Driven Lodge".  I'll spare you the details of our conversation and instead direct you to his awesome book linked above.

Later on I was able to set up my bunk. An old metal frame bunk with a vinyl pad, a sheet courtesy of Bro. Shamy and my sleeping bag...the one I borrowed from my 8 year-old son. I set out to explore more of the camp sight and meet new brothers. I met Nate, a thirty year-old Army Veteran who's looking to become a pilot. I met Bro. Ken, an educator by trade who had a knack for keeping us focused on the days first real task, a free form exploration of Mackey's Masonic Encyclopedia.

We sat around the park benches, we all had a copy of Mackey's and we arbitraraly flipped through pages until we found something of interest. We took turns reading the excerpts and discussing what we knew. Bro. Ken kept us on track. Before long it was time for the next agenda item, The Demolay Initiation.

I had never seen an initiation quite like it. They had a full slate of officers and lecturers perform the ceremony for six new members. I watched Masonic dads from around the room become very proud. Their sons were either performing the ritual or becoming initiated. It was a sight to see. Dinner followed and it was just a great time to eat and fellowship.

There were some brief remarks made by some Ohio VIPs and then I was up. I gave a presentation on Esoterics 101, what I refer to as part one of the Quantum series lectures. After this, it was 9:30 at night and it was time for the Mark Master degree. We began the walk down the trail through the dark forest, buzzing with nightlife noises. Frogs and bugs of all sorts provided the backdrop for a walk lit only by torches. The degree was put on in the "Fort", an enclosure with an open roof. The trees were all lit up red. Bro. Dave Bacon was one of three Brothers to become Companions. Full costumes and they had the A-Squad for the degree work.


The night wasn't over. We made our way back up the trail to camp where Bro. Albert H. McLelland provided us with an exclusive screening of Terra Masonica. If Albert sounds familiar, he is the creator and founder of MATSOL. After the movie, I headed off to bed, it was well after 1:00am.

Waking up at 7:30am and headed to the Council Lodge for a nice breakfast and to start out the days events. We once more made our way down to the Fort for the exemplification of the first section of the Master Mason degree. It was hot out. I had my black Camp Masonry shirt on and I had forgot my sunglasses in my bunk. A remarkable experience in any case. Next up, Lunch followed by a wonderful presentation by Bro. Jason Bryce.

Jason spoke about the varied symbolism within the letter G in our Craft lodges. He went into some deeper aspects of our spiritual work as Masons. I highly enjoyed his talk and found it edifying. Dan Hrinko, whom I had met the day before was the next presenter. We gathered outside and sat around picnik tables while he talked about Masonic experience and how to make it better. He outlined much of what his lodge, "Arts and Sciences" does and detailed it's success.

Next up was Dave Bacon who had quite the crowd. He spoke on how our individual experiences shape how we see symbols. He dove into the science of our brains, how we interpret things and as any good presenter will do, he made us all a little uncomfortable, a necessary part if we're to grow.

Bill Carter from the Grand Lodge of Ohio was the next to speak. He spoke at length about cellular technology, the ramifications for using it constantly, and how to counteract those consequences through fraternal means. It was my turn to present again, this time I spoke on the Tetragrammaton, or the ineffable name of God.

The Festive Board was the next thing on the agenda. Bro. Hrinko lead the evening with songs and toasts. The last speaker for the Festive Board was the Grand Master of Masons of Ohio, Eric R. Schau. WB Schau talked about his experience at the 300 event in UGLE. It was a great conversation.

After the Festive Board wrapped up it was time to take the "road to Eleusis", that trail lit only by torches once more, to the second section of the Master Mason degree. Arriving at the Fort again, this time in procession, and the trees were now lit by blue lights. It was a sight to behold. What followed, you can guess. Top-notch degree exemplification and a changed man.

On the road back to camp many of us said our goodbyes and went to bed. I awoke the next morning, packed up and flew home. Writing this, I cannot help but reminise on the new friendships, experiences and feeling I had over the weekend. I certainly hope anyone reading this will consider coming next year. There are few national Masonic events that are noteworthy. Most are filled with expensive dinners, endless introductions and programming aimed at raising charity funds. Those events are fine, but are not truly Masonic.

This was a Masonic event in every impart of the word. Education and Fellowship. No administrative tasks, no whining, no pomp just conversations which offered solutions. It was refreshing. Thanks to all who put on the event and to all my new friends. Until next year, Brothers!

~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 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.

Impact of War – Part 3

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott



Part 3 of a series of the Impact of War on the Grand Lodge of Illinois and Freemasonry. Part one is here and part 2 is here.

Illinois had long been a destination for those immigrating from Germany. Many of my own ancestors had come to Illinois looking for opportunities in farming, commerce and industry. They brought with them their German languages and culture. By 1850 35.9%of foreign born Illinois residents were from Germany.

So, it was only natural that as freemasonry grew, lodges were forming with the work done in the native language of the membership. By 1918 according to the Proceedings of the MW Grand Lodge of Illinois, nine lodges were working the ritual in German, all in the Chicago area. But the Great War was about to have a direct impact on these nine lodges.

MWGM Austin H. Scrogin ordered that these lodges cease working in German and conduct work only in English. Scrogin said, “Fully realizing the great danger to America institutions by the German propaganda, I took up with the nine German-language lodges in Illinois the advisability of a change to the medium of speech in America. I had a consultation with the masters of the German lodges in Chicago. A second meeting was then held. At this all the masters, wardens, secretaries and most of the past masters of the lodges in the state, working in the German language, were present...”

Six of the lodge readily agreed to change their work to the English language. Three did not agree and MWGM Scrogin issued an edict that was mandated to be read in all lodges in Illinois that forbid the use of the German language in the work. Only English was to be allowed. His edict said in part, “A World Crisis is impending; the right of the Nations of the World to choose the form of government under which they shall live is attacked by a predatory militaristic power with a savagery and inhumanity which shock the moral sense of the world; the success of this attack would destroy democracy and free government and the achievements of the moral and religious progress and development of the human race for the past two hundred years; the liberties of all free nations, the perpetuity of the fundamental principles and precepts of Freemasonry now hang in the balance. At such a time, in such a crisis, every loyal and patriotic Mason must be conscious of the personal duty resting upon him to aid in all ways possible, in this supreme moment, to defeat this menace to humanity….”

One lodge refused to submit, Leasing Lodge No. 557. The proceedings reported that by a nearly unanimous vote, the members refused to adhere to the edict. MWGM promptly pulled Leasing Lodge’s charter. Scrogin made a visit to the lodge and concluded that the lodge membership did not understand the power of the office of Grand Master. Leasing lodge later complied with the edict and their charter was reinstated.

The 1918 proceedings also include a section titled “The Point of View” written by Delmar D. Darrah, Past Most Worshipful Grand Master of Illinois. Darrah was a Professor at Illinois Wesleyan University and one of most prolific masonic authors of his day. On the German speaking lodges, he wrote: “…This action was inspired, not so much because of prejudice against the German people in this country and their language, as it was to prevent the segregation of peoples of one nationality under the guise of Freemasonry. The fathers of Freemasonry who formulated the principles under which the fraternity is today working never contemplated the organization of class lodges wherein men of different nations, creeds, and professions might segregate and use the lodge as a means of propagating their own peculiar ideas and practices. The purpose of Freemasonry as originally conceived was that of a fraternal democracy, wherein men of every country, sect, and opinion, religious belief and political party, might come together around a common altar, upon a common equality and meet their fellows as children of one father. Lodges made up exclusively of Germans, Frenchmen, Italians, Swedes, and using the particular language of constituents is not a Masonic lodge; but a lodge composed of men representing these different nationalities and using the language of a country wherein the lodge is located is Masonic. If the war has done nothing else, it has awakened us to the danger of class lodges and has served to bring to us a better understanding of the object and purposes of genuine Freemasonry.”

In part 4 of this series, I will look to the future of Freemasonry in Illinois (after 1918) and provide a reflection 100 years later how these changes initiated in 1918 are still having an impact on the fraternity.

~GJK

WB Gregory J. Knott is the Worshipful Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 in Ogden (IL) and a plural member of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC.

Off to Camp Masonry

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson


Well, I was out at lodge late last night and I hurried home to quickly pack. Why? Well, I was invited to attend this years "Camp Masonry". Up at 5:15, hot shave and out the door. Friday morning airport commuting in Chicago isn't fun. Thanks to my wife Cori for taking me. Ask her to give you a ride to the airport and she'll likely give you a slap-- especially at 5:30 am.

Camp Masonry is something new for me. It promises to be a fun filled weekend full of speakers, fellowship and edification. You can read all about it on their website, www.campmasonry.com . There, you will find a wonderful array of speakers, events and even degrees which will be performed. I've always enjoyed camping and the outdoors and with that the chance to disconnect.

Disconnecting is hard for me and I am sure it's hard for you too. We manage facebook pages, moderate groups, write articles and keep in touch with our close friends on social media and text our closest loved ones. Take away a phone and it's bound to cause some anxieties-- anxieties that fade after 48 hours, but the point is they do fade.

I'm looking forward to disconnection from the glowing handheld block in my pocket and connecting face to face, through a handshake and good conversations. It's a rare chance in the fast paced world of today. I've written about things like process improvement, time savings, maximizing results and all of it is done through maximum technology engagement. What are we supposed to do when it's time to go against this? I imagine we're supposed to just sit back and relax and enjoy the ride. And that's just what I am going to do over the next couple of days. Sit back, relax and enjoy the company of friends and brothers. To be sure, I'll still be connected, but perhaps a bit less distracted.

Have a great weekend brothers, cheers!

~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 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.

A Point Within A Circle

Masonic Symbolism Hidden In Plain Sight On The Coast of California


by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Michael Arce

I'll admit it, I was a fan of the TV show "LOST." Yes, I loyally tuned in every week as the show veered off course from the code, the bunker, and what those mysteries all meant, in favor of time traveling and character side stories that spun the storyline out of control. Sometimes during my journey for Masonic knowledge, I feel like I am chasing the same answers the characters on the show pursued during their time on the island. One of my favorite quotes from the show comes during an exchange between John Locke, played by Terry O'Quinn (who won an Emmy for that role), and Eko, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.

The scene that came to mind follows Locke and Eko when they discovered missing film footage that explained the mysterious scientific research, performed on the island. "Think about it," Locke says to Eko, "somebody made this film. Someone else cut this piece out. We crash, two parts of the same plane fall on different parts of the island. You're over there, I'm over here. Now, there's the missing piece, right back where it belongs." While Locke is splicing the film back together, Eko sternly says to him, "don't mistake coincidence for fate."

That exchange echoed through my head when I received a text of Lodge building from my younger brother, David, who lives in Modesto, California. During my "wine and sunshine" visit with my girlfriend this past February, he remembered my disappointment when the local Lodge was meeting did not fall during the week of my trip. Since then, whenever he spots something to do with Freemasonry, he'll snap a pic of it and send it to me.

One Friday afternoon, fate arrived via a text message as I was coincidentally collecting my thoughts for an upcoming discussion on a Point within a Circle. I am working on a presentation with our Senior Warden for the upcoming Masonic year. Our goal is to cover the esoteric meanings explained in ritual along with the practical application of the teachings in everyday life. My phone buzzed on the table near my computer, I looked down at the screen and saw this.

Pacific Grove Lodge #311, Monterey County, California

Symbolism In Plain Sight

Freemasonry teaches that a certain Point within a Circle is represented in every Lodge. For the Brothers living in the coastal community of Pacific Grove, California, that symbol is present in and around their building. That is what I had to find out. Why? How many Masonic buildings have you seen where the traditional square and compass is moved to the side in favor of the Point within a Circle? Why would a Lodge place this symbol, this way? I reached out to Tom Thiel, Worshipful Master of Pacific Grove Masonic Lodge #311, to learn more.

"After talking with our Lodge Secretary, PM Herschel R. Amos, we're not exactly sure why they did that," shared Brother Thiel. I have to admit, I was hoping to hear a story that comes with so many artifacts and treasures in the Lodges and Temples I've visited. Bro. Thiel continued, "the members built the Lodge back in the fifties, all with volunteer labor. They definitely had thing for that symbol because it’s also on several paintings in the building." That caught my attention. Bro. Thiel then shared more photos of the Lodge and a video walkabout. 

The Master's Station

Above the Master's Chair

His last photo was a detailed painting that portrays the lesson symbolized in the Point within a Circle.  

A Point Within A Circle

The story behind this portrait exemplifies the meaning of where are first made a Mason. The painting was done in 1956 by Bro. Ernest U. Hardenstein Jr., who laid down his Working Tools on August 7, 2007. Bro. Hardenstein was born in Mississippi and made his way to Monterey, California during his service in the US Army. After the war, he settled in the community, raising a family. By the 1950's, Bro. Hardenstein completed several large paintings for his church and the newly constructed temple. His story reminds me of every Brother I have met, and those who I never will, who have physically contributed in someway to the care, decoration, and upkeep of their lodge or temple. Bro. Hardenstein’s paintings remain above the several stations in Pacific Grove Lodge Temple today, serving as an educational tool and inspiration for members and visitors.


Two Brothers, One Craft

What makes Masonry special is the history that is proudly displayed in our lodges and temples. I can't recall a Masonic building that I’ve visited that doesn’t have a local artifact, legend, story, or claim to have a famous member in their past. In the case of Pacific Grove, the Brothers raised their lodge, building it together. I asked Bro. Thiel, during a follow up phone call, how he explains the meaning of the Point within a Circle theme to visiting Brothers or guests who seek admission. It was at that point that we discovered that two Brothers, belonging to different jurisdictions on opposite sides of the same country, share a common bond. 

I opened up my Standard Work and Lectures of Ancient Craft Masonry, the ritual book that is given to every Master Mason when they are raised in the State of New York. From my book, I read an excerpt that explains the history of lodges. After my reading, Bro. Thiel opened his Monitor and Officers' Manual from the Grand Lodge of California, to read a passage that sounded very similar to what we profess in New York. A few seconds of silence passed before we agreed: the Brothers of Pacific Grove Lodge were simply following the instructions given to us as Masons. That symbol in and around their Lodge serves as a constant reminder, impressing the meaning of its lesson in everyday life. How could you pass by that building with that knowledge and not, for a few seconds, instantly connect what you learned to what you had just seen?

From The West

It’s fitting that you would find this symbol on the outside of a lodge building, in a city with the nickname "America’s Last Hometown." The historic city of Pacific Grove is nestled in Northern California’s Monterey County, one of the most beautiful coastal communities you will ever see. If you've never visited, I highly recommend walking through their Cannery Row, have dinner or drinks at Restaurant 1833 (it’s haunted and loaded with history), and if you’re a golf fan, take the iconic 17-Mile Drive to Pebble Beach. Don’t forget your camera! 

The last time I visited Monterey was almost five years ago for my brother's wedding, which just so happened to fall at the time I sought a petition from my mother lodge in Schenectady, New York. Ironic that fate would give me another reason to return… a trip that you bet will include a stop at Pacific Grove Masonic Lodge. They meet on the first and third Thursday of the month, September through May. Pacific Grove Lodge has been a part of their community for more than 100 years and I've heard they have some amazing portraits of a Point within a Circle that I need to see for myself.

~MA

Brother Michael Arce is the Junior Warden 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: michael.arce@me.com

Installing Our Tyler

by Midnight Freemason Senior Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

Members of Homer Lodge No 199 for installation of Carl D. Lewis as Tyler

Our Tyler for Homer Lodge No. 199, Carl D. Lewis (Carl D.) was recently unable to attend our installation of officers because he was ill. At our recent lodge meeting, WB Darin Lahners who is WM of Homer Lodge this year suggested that we go to Carl and install him in his office. We all quickly agreed that this was an excellent idea and made a date and time to make it happen.

Carl D. Lewis has been a Mason for more than 65 years. His home lodge is Ogden No. 754 and he is a plural member of Homer Lodge No. 199 (as several of us are). He is a veteran of WW 2, having served as a ball turret gunner on a B-24 and still is an active member of the Ogden American Legion Post. Carl D. faithfully attends both Ogden and Homer lodge meetings.

Carl D.’s son, Carl W. Lewis made arrangements for us to visit his father and reserved a place for us to meet. Carl D. didn’t know we all were coming and the look on his face when he saw us all in the room was priceless. He was totally surprised.

We explained what our visit was about and told him the honor of installing him would be given to his son Carl W. Carl W. proceeded to install his farther as Tyler of Homer Lodge No. 199 and presented him with the sword, apron and jewel of his office.

As with any proper installation we had some cake and cookies for afterword. Carl D. was really gotten by our presence and told us thank you and that he was truly honored by our act of brotherhood and friendship. I believe every one of us whom were there, felt it was our honor to be able to participate in this awesome experience.

Carl D. celebrated his 93rdbirthday on Monday and is recovering nicely and we anticipate him returning to lodge meetings very shortly.

As Midnight Freemason Founder Todd E. Creason commented on social media, “Excellent! Just Excellent! People ask me why I joined the Fraternity. This is one reason.”

I couldn’t agree more.

~GJK

WB Gregory J. Knott is the Worshipful Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 in Ogden (IL) and a plural member of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC.

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners


The Dream/Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters is an etching by Francisco Goya created in 1799. It shows the artist with his head on his arms, sprawled across a desk asleep. Above him are bats and owls, and to his side is a cat staring at him. The side of the desk has the words: ‘The Dream/Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.’ Aldous Huxley comments on this are as follows: “It is a caption that admits of more than one interpretation. When reason sleeps, the absurd and loathsome creatures of superstition wake and are active, goading their victim to an ignoble frenzy. But this is not all. Reason may also dream without sleeping, may intoxicate itself, as it did during the French Revolution, with the daydreams of inevitable progress, of liberty, equality, and fraternity imposed by violence, of human self-sufficiency and the ending of sorrow…by political rearrangements and a better technology.” - Aldous Huxley, “Variations on Goya,” On Art and Artists, Morris Philipson, ed., (London: Chatto and Windus, 1960), pp. 218-19. I have a different interpretation of it, which I hope will become apparent below.

Two things lead to this article. The first was a blog entry Midnight Freemason Founder Todd E. Creason put up recently. Read it HERE. The second was that I caught myself acting unmasonically towards Todd E. Creason today. I disagreed with a social media post and initially replied emotionally. Luckily, I made use of a lesson that we are taught in Freemasonry, to subdue our passions. I was able to edit my reply to use facts and reason, instead of emotion. Unfortunately, I see many brothers on social media forgetting this lesson. Many of us are not able to subdue our passions. It made me start to think why this might be. All of it leads back to some of the points that Todd made in his article. However, Todd’s main focus is the negativity of journalism. I think it needs to be expanded to all media, but especially electronic media. The negativity Todd touched on is only part of the issues I have with it. Yes, we are going to witness good acts, and there are still good people in the world performing these acts. Not everyone is crazy, but I think that it’s easier now for someone to go from normal to insane and then back to normal. We are all our own personal Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I think that many of us are abusing or addicted to electronic media. I think this is to blame for the madness we see all around us. Todd does make the same conclusion that I reach. We need to disengage from electronic media in order to see the beauty in the world. Luckily, I think if we use the Masonic lessons that we’ve been taught, we might be able to do just that.

Here are my reasons for thinking that we need to be weary of electronic media.

1. It does something to the brain.

The impact of electronic media (Smart Phone Apps, Videogames, Internet, Social Media, Television, and Movies) on the human brain, our subconscious, and our society has been studied with varying results. There have been studies done about television viewing, advertising and how watching it creates different stimuli and psychological responses. (https://www.jstor.org/stable/2746936?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents)

There have been studies about how the use of cellphones before bed impacts your brain and sleep patterns. (https://www.medicaldaily.com/using-cellphone-bed-does-your-brain-health-and-sleep-pattern-405599) There have been studies regarding how cell phone use stimulates glucose metabolism in our brains and how the impact of that is unknown. (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cell-phone-use-stimulates-brain-activity-201102231548)

Studies show Social Networking Site addiction alters brain anatomy. (https://www.nature.com/articles/srep45064) Studies show that Social Networks shape how the brain responds to social exclusion. (https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2017/the-link-between-brain-activity-and-social-networks/) Those are just a few examples, I could easily fill the article with links. Most of us have developed an unhealthy codependent relationship with electronic media, and some of us have become addicted to it. Think about how often you check your phone, or watch a news channel even though they keep repeating the same information over and over, or how you might rush home to play a videogame. My point is, we’re engaging in an activity that we don’t fully understand the repercussions of when it comes to our brain, and I think that’s dangerous.

2. We’re substituting electronic interaction for social interaction.

Every hour we spend on electronic media is an hour we could be playing with our family, creating something, learning something new by reading, or engaging in face to face conversation with our family or friends. Instead we communicate via text, even if our family member is in the next room or same house or same table. How many of you have been out to a restaurant to see a family all on their devices instead of speaking to one another? We’re not even taking the time to enjoy things with our own eyes. How many of you have been to a concert or another public event and didn’t see anyone holding up their phones to record it? We scroll through Facebook, Reddit and Twitter mindlessly. We waste hours on television, the internet, social media, and video games. This is time we will never get back. Worst yet, we are allowing our children to mimic this behavior. How many of your children actually play outside? We’re substituting the beauty of the world for the glow of a screen. I’m guilty, you’re guilty, and we all are guilty of this behavior at one point or another.

3. Electronic media programs us with negativity, creates unrealistic expectations, creates feelings of inadequacy, and poisons our belief systems.

Watch the News, Dramas, and Comedies on television and there’s nothing redeeming about them. Most every program also promotes or sensationalizes violence. On top of this, try finding a video game that isn’t violent. Even back in the day, Space Invaders allowed you to kill aliens, Pac Man ate ghosts, etc. Almost every video game, television program and movie has violence. 

Video games have now added nudity, adult language, and promotion of criminal behavior to be able to compete with other electronic media. Just about everything on television is also negative. Much of Social Media is negative. Go on Facebook or Twitter and try to find a post/tweet with no negative responses. The internet is filled with hatred. Bullying online is rampant. No wonder we’re so hostile to each other. We’re absorbing negative energy almost all of the time.

Couple this with the images we see in electronic media. Every image is altered in some way. We already know that television and the movies are guilty of this. Video games, television, social media, the internet and movies create an altered reality. When’s the last time you saw a picture or selfie of someone without a snapchat filter or filter in general? On top of that, we’re presenting a fake version of ourselves to the world. Have you ever seen a teenage girl take a selfie? They can’t just take one, they take several and then choose the best one for their Facebook or Instagram page. What you see as a final product has been heavily altered or edited. This in turn creates unrealistic expectations of each other and ourselves. We’re conditioned to worry about the exterior instead of focusing on the interior. We’ve become too concerned with each other’s outward appearances, and not focused on the quality of each other’s character.

Since everything is edited to show how awesome everyone’s life is, we develop feelings of inadequacy. We start to compare our own lives with the Instagram account of the celebrity we follow, our friends on Facebook, and in some cases, television or the movies. On top of that, you can’t go anywhere without seeing an advertisement for a product that will supposedly make you feel better about yourself. Of course, the advertisement is designed to show you how awesome the product is, and how meaningless your life is without it. The constant bombardment of the picture perfectness of everyone else’s lives leads to us not being happy with our own lives. When we feel inadequacy, it turns to more anger for our own shortcomings, followed by hostility. Instead of being content with what we have we’ve been conditioned to consume. We want the things we can’t have, and it’s driving us mad.

All of this is poisoning our belief systems. It’s difficult to separate fact from fiction in electronic media. It takes a lot of effort to research things to see if they are true or false, or if we’ve been given all of the facts. Many of us don’t take the time to do this. Instead we repost things on social media that conform to our personal philosophy. We absorb news that we are fed by television, social media or the internet and accept it as the truth. A recent study done by a group of political scientists showed that over 22% of Fake News visits were funneled to Americans by Facebook. Of the 2,525 Americans studied, 1 in 4 of them visited a Fake News site from October 7-November 14, 2016. (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/02/health/fake-news-conservative-liberal.html

So we’re absorbing all of this negative energy and information, and it’s very easy for us to react emotionally or instinctually. When we allow our passions to drive our behavior, we fail to treat each other according to the golden rule. On top of this, we are being bombarded with images that don’t represent reality which in turn has conditioned us to covet things we don’t have. Almost every religious, secular or humanist group has a code of conduct that is being violated by this behavior.

How do we combat this? I’ve already mentioned subduing one’s passions. If we do not control our emotions and desires, then will rule over our reason. When reason is not in control, we behave unmasonically. We regress to an animal state. This is how I interpret the Goya etching. When our reason is not in control, we behave like monsters.

If our passions are subdued, then we are able to improve ourselves by using the other working tools of Masonry. We are able to use the 24 inch gauge to manage our time so that we can guard ourselves against any intemperance or excess when it comes to our consumption of electronic media. When we have guarded ourselves properly, we are able to use it to make time to use the gavel to turn the rough ashlar into the perfect one. We are able to pursue the pursuit of the study of the seven liberal arts and sciences as we have been instructed to do. We are able to be industrious like we are taught to be when we learn about the beehive. We are able to have time to serve God, and practice the Golden Rule. We are able to act like a Mason should act, by the plumb. By acting by the plumb, we are able to be Free from all of the negative energy that electronic media pushes into our lives. So do yourself a favor, and put aside time every day to unplug, and do something to improve yourself or to help your fellow man.

As Manly P. Hall stated in his lecture: “How to turn off the TV and live happily ever after”, ‘So it seems that one thing we have to do to get away from this hypnosis of the tube is to realize that we have faculties within ourselves that do not need to be subjected to this continual negative conditioning, that we are certainly capable of thinking rather than merely watching the antics of someone else.’ He later states: ‘So if we want to really have a great history, we can study our own inner lives, if we want great theatre, we can be both the audience and the cast, if we want any of the inner understandings which make for philosophy, mysticism and so forth, they are all available inside of ourselves. 

The only thing we have got to do is bring it out, and we bring it out by dedication, it gaining strength in the inner life just as an athlete gains it by daily discipline; by the proper mental emotional disciplines we can become healthy individuals in terms of our minds, our emotions, our hearts and our jobs. These are the things we've got to work for and if it means that we must do it, we can with one quick twist of the wrist get rid of most of the corruptions of society and face the fact that these are imaginary corruptions. We’ve got plenty of real ones; we don’t have to build them up that way. What we have got to do is find out what corruptions are still lurking in us and correct them, and as soon as we correct the mistakes within ourselves, we begin to see better values in other people, because we see in others usually what we are ourselves focused upon. 

So, don’t let the great Big Bad Tube get you, be very careful about it and when uncertain – TURN IT OFF and you will find as you turn it off to do something interesting, beautiful or wonderful, you'll never miss it again.You cannot turn it off successfully, however, until there is something you want to be, or something you want to do, right then and there, that is more important than the tube. If you think it out that way, I think it will all work out alright in the end.’

~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 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 darin.lahners@gmail.com.

Four Large Brown Dusty Binders

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


Illustrious Brother James Williams was a Masonic Scholar. Missouri's representative to the renowned Quatuor Coronati Research Lodge, he maintained one of the finest private Masonic Literary collections anywhere. Upon his passing in 2011, he left that collection to his Brothers in Missouri. Sorting through the volumes, Brothers found four large brown dusty binders bulging with typewritten pages. Upon inspecting the material in them, the Brothers realized they had discovered a Masonic treasure.

Ray V. Denslow was arguably the most prolific Masonic author of the 20thcentury. Among his books were Territorial Masonry – the Story of Freemasonry and the Louisiana Purchase 1804-21; Civil War and Masonry in Missouri; History of Cryptic Masonry;The Masonic Fraternity, Its Aims and Goals; The Masonic Conservators; the History of Cryptic Masonry and on, and on. Not only does that list not scratch the surface, but it also does not include any of the dozens of pamphlets he authored.

Most Worshipful Brother Denslow served as Missouri's Grand Master in 1931-32, was a founding member and Master of the Missouri Lodge of Research, had a close friendship with President Harry Truman and served as Truman's emissary on Masonic missions around the world. From 1942-1945 he served as General Grand High Priest of the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, International.

To that impressive Masonic resume we can add what he considered his crowning achievement — the founding of the Royal Arch Masonmagazine in 1943. You may have heard of it. You might, in fact, have a copy of it sitting in your living room.

He passed his passion for writing on to his son, William R. Denslow, best known for his iconic work, 10,000 Famous Freemasons. He also passed something else along to his son: those four large, brown binders bulging with typewritten pages.

Brother Denslow, it seems, was a compulsive man. At home, he lived at his typewriter and pounded out every minute of his Masonic journey — the good, the bad and, yes, the ugly. He left those binders with his son and his son, in turn, handed them to Jim Williams with the strict caveat that they were not to be published until everyone mentioned in them had passed away; and for good reason — Ray Denslow pulled no punches.

The pages in this memoir record in detail his experiences as an author, a leader and Truman's personal representative as he operated at the zenith of the craft. It is a study in Masonic politics at the highest level. It is a rewarding story of how Denslow made friends across the globe and worked to unify Masonry at the close of World War II. It is also a record of how he crossed swords with a few of the most powerful and influential Masons of his time.

Work on compiling and editing this material has been in process for over a year. Now, over a half-century after his death, the Fraternity is about to see a new book — not about, but bythis great Masonic author.

The Missouri Lodge of Research did not strictly adhere to the stipulation that everyone mentioned in the book must have passed away prior to its publication. His granddaughter, Judith Denslow Ericson, and his grandson, William R. Denslow, Jr., are not only still around, but each contributed to the book. His grandson Bill, in fact, helped with the editing process and is the Executive Editor of the manuscript, bringing the Denslow name to a third generation of significant Masonic works.

The first volume of this two-volume set, Ray V. Denslow's Masonic Journey, is now hot off the presses. The Missouri Lodge of Research will distribute a hardbound copy, free of charge, to each of its members at the Grand Lodge of Missouri's annual communication in September. Frankly, the best way to ensure getting a copy will be to join the Missouri Lodge of Research. Volume 2, as well as softcover and Kindle editions, will follow in 2019. It's a must-read for serious students of Masonic history.



If you're looking for a way to join the Missouri Lodge of Research, here it is.


~SLH

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