A Masonic Revolution - Education and the Front Lines of a War to Save Freemasonry

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson

There I was, leveling out at 30 thousand and snapping into Biscoff cookies. Why? Because It was happening again—Masonic Con. This marks the fourth year in a row that the event has been going on. Put on by an extraordinary group of Masons in Attleboro Massachusetts, this year was another home-run. Three years ago, I first went to this conference. I delivered a talk on Colonial America and Freemasonry to a packed room of Masons, their ladies and the profane. It was unreal. The technology was worked out, the schedule of speakers was amazing, and the venders… let's just say I spent a lot of money.

Last year was even bigger. It felt like San Diego Comic-Con but you know, for Freemasons. I hosted a discussion on Star Wars and Freemasonry with my good friend and occasional guest contributor here, RW:. Michael Jarzebek. Again, what an incredible time. Both years we marked with special tours of historical sites in and around the New England area by the mastermind of Masonic Con, Bryan Simmons, a Masonic titan in his own right. I spent time with men who inspire me, who I love and who bring out the best of me. Of course, there are Brothers that I know that couldn’t make the conferences, and I missed them.

Arriving at Logan Intl. Airport in Boston an hour late due to weather, I met up with Bro. Joe Martinez and we drove into Attleboro together. We caught up on news of our families, our jobs, our gripes and our joys. You know how it goes with a Brother in the car, the radio never comes on. Once in town, we met up with Mike Hambrecht and drove to a great restaurant and pub for some long-awaited beer and food. Yeah, we ate too much. Well, I did anyway.

This year was marked with some differences. Notably, I missed my good friend and Brother Alex Powers. You might know him from his podcast called “Historical Light”. Or maybe you’re just a participant in the Facebook group of the same name. Alex couldn’t be with us for personal reasons this year and that’s all I’ll say. But he was missed. I also missed one of my muses, Dago Rodriguez of Fraternal Review
That aside, this weekend was AMAZING...yet again. A full lineup of speakers which you can check out by clicking HERE. One of the presentations I was extremely excited about was on Tombstone Lodge. You might remember something I did about a fictitious lodge of gold on an old radio program called Masonic Radio Theatre. Chris Douglas did a great job on this presentation. I learned a lot. I also learned that Chris is an astounding creator as well. Check out these cuff links and this pin I acquired from him. “You're wearing real history.”, he tells me, as I put the pin on my lapel. He was right. I really was, and damn, it looked nice too.

I met Travis Simpkins, another contributor to our blog, for the very first time in person. He was as I imagined, a perfect gentleman, a model Mason. He brought along his wife, who also is a very talented artist. I had waited a long time to meet them and I finally had. Along with meeting them, I was able to really connect with several readers of this blog and listeners to the podcasts (WCY and TMR). To connect with the listeners is…”an opportunity I have long sought.” Alright, I admit that was a bad joke.

But seriously, it means so much to talk, to share and to listen to what you all think, not just about what I produce, but the things that are happening in the lodges around the country. It’s crucial to understanding and perpetuating Masonic Education—the reason for the Craft.

Speaking of education, I finally sat in the same room as Nicholas Laine of Castle Island Virtual Lodge out of Manitoba. Yep— he’s a real guy. Not just a computer simulation as I had once suspected. The Brothers from Canada were so gracious, and I’ve learned so much from attending the lodge they maintain. In fact, look for some exciting news coming very soon related to…well, you’ll just have to wait. 

Masonic Con at Ezekiel Bates somewhat kicks off the “season” for Masonic education conferences. Next weekend is the Mid-West conference on Masonic Education. After this, in June is the Inaugural Mid-Atlantic Esotericon, followed by the first ever South Pasadena Masonic Con on the West Coast which is then followed up by Camp Masonry! Can you believe all these opportunities for education and fellowship?

I won’t be missing any of it. I’ll be at all of them. Why? Because like all of you, I love Masonic Education. This year was the first time I attended Masonic Con in Attleboro and wasn’t a speaker. This made it a much different experience. As I stated, I was able to really connect with my Brothers. I spent the majority of my days with the lads from the Masonic Roundtable and the architect of Esotericon, Joe Martinez.

So many people made this weekend special. Talking with friends I’ve not seen in a year. Literally. Ryan Flynn, Mike Jarzabek, Nicholas Harvey, Aaron Chauncey, Chris Hodapp and more. Chris Hodapp actually wasn’t scheduled to speak but pinched hit due to a speaker not being present. He had a key gem that I took away from his talk and I want to share it with you. Paraphrasing, he said, “…Stop telling men that they will get out of Freemasonry what they put into it!” He then flipped the script as JFK once did. Chris continued, “…You will get out of your members what you invest in them.” I saw pencils taken to paper, scribbling this down, trying not to miss the next thing he’d say. It was so simple, yet…this was maybe…kind of new.

The weekend really culminated for me, and I’m sure many others at the Festive Board. The MC, Brian Simmons kicked it off with a toast and then asked the ladies present to talk about Freemasonry. Those ladies…I can’t tell you how amazing they were. It made me think about my own wife, who many of you know and how supportive she is with everything in my life. I wished she had been there. There’s no way she’s getting out of it next year.

When I began this write this up, my goal was to give a review of Masonic Con 2019. That’s probably not what we have here though. More of my reminiscing of the days I was there. There were many things I witnessed and heard this past weekend that I will inevitably write about. Here in this article though are a few I wanted to mention up front.

At the end of the day, I asked Brother Carlos Hernandez of Ascended Masters if he needed any help with packing up. While we chatted, a Brother approached and was buying a ring from him. This Brother was looking at the same ring I was looking at. He asked Carlos if he had the ring in a size 10, which coincidentally, was the same size ring I wore. When Carlos said he did have one, I asked him to get one out for me too. I’d like to buy one. At this, the brother who had approached to buy the ring expressed to me his gratitude for the WCY Podcast and that although he’d not been able to contribute to producing the show or donate, he wanted to buy this ring for me. I was completely taken aback. I didn’t know what to say. It was a moment in which I felt this overwhelming gratitude and I tried to explain that this wasn’t necessary. This brother would have none of it. He paid for the rings. We bot put them on and shook hands. It’s kind of a thing now. The ring is more than a neat design, it means something else. For me it’s representative of this Brother, and the mutual gratitude we felt. It’s apropos that the ring itself is the Ouroboros. I will say it again. Brother, you know who you are. Thank you!

Next was when the adept, Ben Wallace told us about the importance of two grown-ass men being able to say, “I love you.” to one another. It was a powerful moment that everyone in that room felt. And he was right. It’s something that is important. So do that. Next time you’re at lodge, tell a Brother, “I love you.”

Next was a moment in which Brother David Riley talked about what Freemasonry had done for him— accepted who he was and all that came with that. It was so powerful and so important, I asked that Brother to do his best in retelling it on the WCY Podcast.

Finally as the night wrapped up, the Festive Board was over and the lodge was nearly empty. I got to connect with Carlos Hernandez a little more. And I have to say, I found a man so dedicated to the Craft and to his art that it inspired me.

To all my Brothers of Ezekiel Bates, I want to thank you for putting this on again. It is the Granddaddy of Masonic Conferences. Yes, there are conferences put on by Grand Jurisdictions and all that, but those are full of pomp. Endless introductions. And so many backscratching lackeys…well, you get it. This was a local lodge, without Grand Lodge support, putting on an event that dwarfed anything that had been done before in their area. I believe in the mission so much, I “pluralled” up there. While I can’t attend but one meeting a year, the dues I pay is a small way I can vote with my dollars. It’s what I feel is important. But also, many men have also done the same. Ezekiel Bates boasts a membership of several out-of-state members for this very reason.

While at the airport reminiscing about the past few days, the emotions riding high and trying to make sense of the reality that we’d all have to go back home, to our own lodges. Our stale meetings of no education, no real brotherhood and sad Past Master luncheons that always have “endless soda, tea and coffee.” I received a text from Nicholas Harvey. He mentioned something similar. How do we bring this home? How can we do it? Perhaps this is one small way—to write about it. To tell others, to evangelize it.

While walking across the street in Cambridge, MA. On the way to see North Bridge, there is a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson etched into the walkway.

“The thunderbolt fell on an inch of ground, but the light of it fills the horizon.” 

I think that quote is one to contemplate, it’s so very relevant in our situation. It just might be…a revolution.

This year's Masonic Con was a success.


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 Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183 UD. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatrewhich 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. 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.


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