Why Do I Dress For Lodge?


by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

Three sharply dressed Midnight Freemasons at a Masonic education symposium.  Left to right: Greg Knott, Robert Johnson, and Todd Creason.
The topic of dressing for Lodge keeps coming up.  I made a comment on a discussion our editor Robert Johnson started the other night on social media.  I thought I’d expand on that remark a bit.

When I joined the Fraternity I didn’t own a jacket.  I’d been wearing a shirt and tie to work for years, but I’d never worn a jacket.   I was in my late thirties, and I didn’t even know my size.  I went and bought one days after I was raised.  It was the first of many new experiences I had when I became a Master Mason.  Part of becoming a Master Mason is learning to see ourselves differently.  I’ve become something different over time as a Mason.  Something better than I was. I didn’t join the Lodge to stay the same, I joined to change.  I didn’t join the Lodge to be accepted as I was—I joined the Lodge out of a desire to learn to be something more.

It was the culture of Masons in my Lodge to dress for degree work and special events, and so that’s what I do.  That's what I've done since the beginning.  We dress alike to show we’re Brothers.  We dress because we’re supposed to be leaders and examples in our community.  We dress to show respect for the due solemnity and importance of the work that we are doing.  We dress to impress upon our new members that what they are becoming a part of is very different from what they’ve known.  We dress so that when others in the community see us coming and going from the Lodge they know we must be doing something important.  

I’ve seen a number of young men dress in that jacket and tie for the first time since then.  I’ve taught a few of them how to tie a tie.  In fact that first jacket I bought somehow shrank over time (probably all the dinners), and I gave it to a new member to wear.  I’ve seen other Masons do the same thing.  When I joined the York Rite Chapter, I didn’t have a red jacket which is customarily worn in my area—and I didn’t really have the cash to lay out at that time to buy one.  My good friend Sean McBride was traveling with the Grand Chapter and found a jacket in his travels for me to wear.  That meant a lot to me at the time that he’d thought about me.  I was able to go to meetings properly dressed like my Brothers in Chapter.

Now a few people in that first discussion said they can’t dress for Lodge because they go right from work to Lodge.  So do I.  So do many more of us in my Lodge.  You know how many times I’ve changed at work before going to Lodge, or changed at the Lodge when I get there?  I wish I had a dollar for every time I’d changed into a suit in the bathroom of a funeral home prior to Masonic Funeral Rites.  I often leave my jacket and my apron at the Lodge so I don't have to run home for them when I'm pressed for time.  And I’m not the only one—you know what you see in cars parked outside my Lodge on a Royal Arch Chapter night?  Masons walking in carrying their suit bags.  There’s a difference between “can’t dress” and “don’t want to dress” for Lodge. 

Now whether or not you dress for Lodge should be up to the culture of your Lodge.  We don’t dress for regularly stated meetings.  Some Lodges do—in fact, I just visited one that wears a full tuxedo and gloves!  I had Midnight Freemasons Greg Knott and Darin Lahners with me that night, and we all felt a little under-dressed in our suits.  But it was a wonderful evening, and that Lodge had one of the best evenings and festive boards I’ve ever enjoyed in the Lodge.  Some Lodges wear blue suits.  Some wear black suits.  My Lodge just wants our members to wear a jacket and tie.  I usually wear the best jacket, vest, and pants I can find in my closet that are free of stains--those pieces usually belonging to about three different suits.  

I think a lot of the conflict over dress is about Lodges having a tradition to dress in a certain way, and a few members disregarding it.  The members get upset, and those that have disregarded the traditional standard of dress set by the Lodge get in a huff and say they shouldn't be judged by how they dress, and they don't have time to dress, and it's too expensive, and the internal not the external qualifications of a man, etc.  At least that’s what I see during these debates almost without exception.  I've never really understood that.  I knew the members of my Lodge dressed up.  I'd seen it before I'd joined.  I looked forward to doing the same, and knew I'd have to buy some clothes after I was raised. If I had a problem with dressing up, I certainly wouldn't have joined my Lodge, because I knew full well they dressed up. 

Masonry is a tradition.  Each Lodge has its own unique identity and culture.  By all means, if your Lodge has a custom and a tradition to dress in a certain way either for all their events or certain events . . . respect it!  Freemasonry, and your Lodge in particular, shouldn’t have to change to accommodate you—the idea is that you’re going to change as a result of Freemasonry!  Isn't that why we joined? 

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog, and an award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. Todd started the Midnight Freemason blog in 2006, and in 2012 he opened it up as a contributor blog The Midnight Freemasons (plural). Todd has written more than 1,000 pieces for the blog since it began. He is a Past Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) where he currently serves as Secretary. He is a Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research (FMLR). He is a charter member of the a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 and currently serves as EHP. You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

The Empty Chair

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Erik Marks


The Empty Chair degree at Montgomery Lodge, this past Memorial Day, in Milford, MA was more moving and meaningful than I had anticipated. Brethren from Montgomery, visiting brethren, veteran and non-veteran alike, family and friends gathered in the lodge room following the Memorial Day Parade and a light lunch. For me it was a beautiful way to pay respect to those who did not return from service alongside brethren that did.

As Master Mason's entered, we were asked to bring a piece of Thuja Occidentalis, Northern white cedar, representing the Sprig of Acacia, from a wooden box in which they were provided. The current secretary and past master of Montgomery Lodge, our own R. E. Jackson, handpicked cedar for the occasion. The Sprig of Acacia is one of my favorite Masonic symbols. I agree it was fitting to have Cedar as the representative evergreen. It is referred to repeatedly in the Torah or the Bible as the wood of choice for the construction of King Solomon's Temple. Practically, it is an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, insect repellent, and strong. In ancient Egyptian culture it was resin was used for embalming and burned in Tibetan Monasteries as incense. Many of us find its scent pleasing. Spiritually or energetically it and its resin are burned or used for cleansing and purification, protection and consecration; it is calming, grounding, and amplifies spiritual and ritualistic intent.

This is the third year Worshipful Brother Jackson has organized and officiated the Empty or Vacant as it is sometimes called, degree at Montgomery Lodge on Memorial Day. Though I've not attended a Masonic funeral service, I'm told the two are similar. The degree was open to the public, which I appreciated. For me the openness served the dual purposes of education about some of what we do and how we conduct ourselves, and for people to have an experience with us that is positive and dignified. I won't recount the specifics of the degree here as I feel I would not adequately convey what I experienced. It's worth making the trek to be present for it in person when you are able, at Montgomery or Lodge nearer you.

EAM

Brother Erik Marks is a clinical social worker whose usual vocation has been in the field of human services in a wide range of settings since 1990. He was raised in 2017 by his biologically younger Brother and then Worshipful Master in Alpha Lodge in Framingham, MA. You may contact brother Marks by email: erik@StrongGrip.org

The International Language

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert E. Jackson, PM


As Masons, we strive to improve upon the three moral virtues, Faith in a higher power, Hope in immortality, and Charity with all mankind. We reference the phrase from the book of first Corinthians, 13:13, which states "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." The King James version of the Bible uses the term "Charity," however, many other versions use the term "Love." Now think of that first line again…Love with all mankind. As men, for years it seems we have been taught to suppress our expression of Love. We need to be strong, brave, and courageous. Men don't cry, or talk about their feelings. Although I agree that there are times we do need to step up our strength and bravery, there are many more times when we need to honestly Love and care for one another. The way in which that Love is expressed, however, varies greatly across humanity.

I've recently learned of the five categories in which love can be given, or received. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, Dr. Gary Chapman documented "The 5 Love Languages" to help people understand their own, for lack of a better term, currency. The currency stipulates what you can offer another in the form of Love, but also what you appreciate most. According to Dr. Chapman, the five core languages of Love are (in no particular order):

· Physical Touch

· Receiving Gifts

· Words of Affirmation

· Quality Time

· Acts of Service


In other words, some humans appreciate simply hearing 'I Love You,' or another complement to audibly receive Love and gratification. For others, the words have little meaning next to a hug, or simply spending time together. The way that you express and show your Love for your spouse, family member, or Brother, may not be what they need in order to feel Loved. This isn't an unsurmountable challenge, however, and can be easily resolved through communication and understanding.

For starters, it's helpful to understand how you prefer to receive Love. Take some time to internalize and meditate on the actions of others that have truly made you happy. Not a simple laugh, but an action that can lasts for days. Many months ago, I received a hand written letter from a dear Brother. Something so simple, but that Act of Service, still means so much to me. I still have that letter on my desk, and when I become frustrated, that letter helps restore my faith in goodness and Brotherly Love. You may be surprised how easy it is to realize what your Love Language is.

Finding the Language of your partner, friend, Brother, or family member may be more challenging. Try discussing your Love Language with the other person (and no I'm not talking about Ricky and Mrs. Smith's International language from Better Off Dead). Share what you have learned, and start that conversation about what makes them happy, what gestures or events in their lives really made them feel loved. Once they start talking, let it be about them…you're there to listen and learn. Once you can understand how they feel loved, your relationship can only grow stronger with compassion and understanding.
If you have any interest in improving your relationships with either your spouse or friends and family, I would strongly encourage you to do some reflection and discover more about how you Love! More information about "The 5 Love Languages" can be found on Dr. Chapman's website, https://www.5lovelanguages.com, including quizzes that can help you, or your partner, identify your Love Language. "The greatest of these, is LOVE!"

~REJ

Robert Edward Jackson is a Past Master and Secretary 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 info@montgomerylodge.org

Basic Keys To Civility

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

Over the last six months or more, I’ve been doing a lot of research into character development with the idea that eventually this is going to turn into a book. I think historically, one of the most important roles that Freemasonry has served in the lives of its members is in the area of personal growth. It teaches a moral code, it provides us with tools to apply to our daily lives, and through our interactions with other like-minded men also striving to improve themselves, we find mentors and examples of many of these principles that we can emulate.

Brian Pettice mentioned in his piece Character & Making Good Men Better earlier this week, a discussion I lead at Admiration Chapter on the topic of character. I won’t rehash his piece but to say I too got a lot out of the discussion, and I was surprised at some of the insights our members shared. One topic that comes up over and over is this topic of civility. Brian has lead a discussion on this topic, too. I think the reason our members are so interested in this topic is because there is so little of it being shown in our world today. We don’t see good examples of civility, and often we don’t display good examples of civility.

I believe there are certain prerequisite skills in character development. I've been asked many times where you should start when it comes to improving yourself.  Well, I'm going to tell you.  I'd start right here with these three traits.  There are many more, but I see these as fundamental character traits.  They are necessary for true growth because just about every other positive character trait you may wish to work on in your life links back in one way or another to these three foundational elements.  And when it comes to basic civility, you'll find much of the conflict in your life will evaporate if you begin improving yourself in these three areas first.

Self-Discipline 

One of those basics is self-discipline. Without the ability to control ourselves and our behavior, there is no possibility of improvement. Freeemasonry has always understand that . . . it goes back to that “learn to subdue my passions and improve myself” line we all know so well. When it comes to civility, self-discipline is probably the most important skill—so much of incivility is careless speech and actions--and in recent years this has clearly been exacerbated by social media. We get caught up in the moment, and something comes out that shouldn't have.  When we learn to think before we speak, act, or post something we will prevent a lot of conflict that leads to incivility.

Humility

C.S. Lewis once said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” Humility is not a weakness—it is a strength. It is also one of the most difficult traits to develop, because it requires us to take ourselves out of the equation. We don’t put ourselves and our own needs first, we work to do what is best for all. It requires us to be more concerned with doing what is right rather than being right. Humility is the acceptance of the reality of who we are—and without question we are all fallible human beings and should conduct ourselves as such.

Empathy 

Empathy is the ability to understand and concern ourselves with other people—understand how they think, how they feel, what they believe, and why they believe it. It requires us to listen rather than speak. It requires us to open our minds and really try to understand the minds of others. We too often fall into this mindset that there is only one way to think about a subject, or one way to feel about a topic, and anyone who disagrees with us is just wrong.  That's a big cause of incivility.  Lack of understanding.  Everyone talks but nobody listens--and we miss out on a great many benefits.  When we become attuned to the way others think it helps us in our own lives, and our own development—it helps us understand how the things we may say and do may be received. When we’re paying attention to other people and their reactions, it might also help us to see how we come off to other people and give us an opportunity to improve in our deportment and our communication.  We don't have to agree, but what we should always be looking to achieve is understanding and respect even when we don't.

Oddly enough all three of these traits are also import skills to develop for leadership. Self-discipline is necessary if you want to be an example. Humility is putting the needs of the many before the needs of the one. And empathy is that most sought after ability to connect and understand other people. Can you imagine what kind of world we could build if we’d only work to improve ourselves in just these three areas?

Next time you see an example of incivility, think of these three things. I’d be willing to bet you’ll find at least one, possibly two, or maybe even all three of the characteristics involved. Conflict often begins because somebody said something he should have known better than to say. It started because somebody is being selfish and putting their own needs first.  It started because somebody is set in their own mind and isn’t willing to try and understand another point of view.

I hope I’ve given you something to think about.

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog, and an award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. Todd started the Midnight Freemason blog in 2006, and in 2012 he opened it up as a contributor blog The Midnight Freemasons (plural). Todd has written more than 1,000 pieces for the blog since it began. He is a Past Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) where he currently serves as Secretary. He is a Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research (FMLR). He is a charter member of the a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 and currently serves as EHP. You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Character & Making Good Men Better

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Brian L. Pettice, 33˚


At a recent meeting of Admiration Chapter RAM in Homer Illinois, Midnight Freemasons founder and EHP at Admiration, Todd Creason, led a conversation about character and character building. It was a lively discussion with many ideas exchanged. One of the ideas mentioned was the notion that Freemasonry was once largely concerned with building positive character among its members and that it should be again—that it should, “make good men better.” The question becomes, how do we do that? How do we make good men better? At the meeting, ideas like holding conversations at lodges just as we were that night; building relationships, especially mentoring relationships, among individual brethren; presenting educational activities; and striving to set a good example were some of the answers brought forth. Towards the end of the discussion, Companion Creason asked what virtues constitute good character. The companions present offered such virtues as honesty, civility, and toleration among others. As I sat there listening, I began to think of some of the virtues mentioned in some of the lectures of the blue lodge degrees. Words from the ritual like patience, perseverance, silence, and circumspection came to me. The conversation went on for a little better than an hour, but could have went on for much longer.

I have an almost hour drive home from Homer and, as often happens after meetings such as this, I thought about what was discussed during most of my drive. I thought about the words from our ritual that had entered my thoughts and again the question, how do we make good men better. I started to specifically think about the Emblems lecture of the Master Mason degree and an idea came to me. In that lecture nine classes of emblems or symbols are introduced. There are twelve emblems in total and their symbolism is rich and its interpretations limitless, but some of the words used to describe the symbols suggested a method for a Mason to begin to improve himself on a simpler basis. If a man was to ask himself questions suggested by these descriptions it would start him on the road to self-examination and knowledge which is essential if a man is going to improve his character. I am not going to go through all of the symbols here, but I will share a list of questions, a man might ask himself or his brother, suggested by this lecture.

1. What does it mean to have a pure heart and is my heart pure?

2. Does my heart glow with gratitude?

3. Am I industrious and concerned for my fellow man?

4. Am I silent and circumspect?

5. Do my hidden thoughts, words, and actions, match those that I present to the world?

6. Am I living my life as one who has hope?

7. Am I a lover of the arts and a sciences?

8. Am I using my time on earth wisely or am I squandering it?

This is not an a complete list of questions you could derive from this ritual but if a brother asks himself these questions and honestly reflects on them, he will surely find work he needs to do to begin to build better character. So, ask yourself these questions or better yet bring this up at your lodge. See if your brethren want to join you in asking themselves these questions. If you honestly reflect on them and study them, your answers will suggest what work you need to try to do. You can then begin to work to improve yourselves and your character. If you do that, Freemasonry will begin again to, “make good men better.”

~BLP

Brian L. Pettice, 33° is a Past Master of Anchor Lodge No. 980 and plural member of Olive Branch Lodge No. 38 in Danville, IL and an Honorary Member of a couple of others. He is also an active member of both the York and Scottish Rites. He cherishes the Brothers that have become Friends over the years and is thankful for the opportunities Freemasonry gives and has given him to examine and improve himself, to meet people he might not otherwise have had chance to meet, and to do things he might not otherwise have had chance to do. He is employed as an electrician at the University of Illinois and lives near Alvin, IL with his wife Janet and their son Aidan. He looks forward to sharing the joy the fraternity brings him with others. His email address is aasrmason@gmail.com.

The Mid-Atlantic Esotericon

Should I have gone, and what did I miss?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson 


A year ago, some brothers decided to plan a masonic conference, not unlike the MasonicCon that has happened at Ezekiel Bates in Massachusetts, but with a strict observance on Esoterica. No history—no debate on origins of ritual. Just an exploration of the spiritual aspects of the craft, of philosophy and of the teachings that have been written about for thousands of years.

First thing’s first, lets just set this out there. This event sold 147 tickets, (which was the limit for the occupancy of where the event was held.)  and pulled in attendees from as far as Canada and Washington state. The Mid-Atlantic Esotericon also partnered with the largest Rainbow Girls Assembly in the state, 20+ girls served food, drinks and cleaned. They [the Rainbow] took in a staggering amount of donations. Conversely, The Mid-West Conference of Grand Lodge Education had a whole 20 dudes present. Let that sink in--a moment of thought. Alright, ready for more? I thought so.

Brother Joe Martinez and Kevin Homan were the architects of the event and had wanted to do something like this for a long time. It just took the balls to do it. And you know what? They did it.

                                 

Should you have gone? That depends. Do you feel like their is more to Freemasonry than ritual? More to Freemasonry than fellowship? More than almoners funds and paying bills? Do you enjoy reading and researching the mystical? How about questioning the literal translations of our religious texts? What about the teachings of a medieval genius? The psychotropic substances and references to the plants mentioned within our ritual? The axial procession of planets and their relation to Freemasonry? If you answered yes to any of those, than you definitely should have come. If you didn’t...well...you should have come anyway.

The night before, my wife Cori and I took an Uber with Joe Martinez and his wife Barb to a brewery where we were meeting everyone who was coming to Esotericon. We packed the place. I have to say that I was so overwhelmed with those Brothers who went out of their way to say hello to my wife. She had a wonderful time!

A quick run down of presentations:

  • Pierce Vaughan talked about John Dee and his philosophy. 
  • Jon Ruark talked about the many pieces of symbolism contained within Freemasonry that have an archetypal value to other systems. 
  • P.D. Newman gave us information on the Acacia and opened our eyes to the ancient references to the plant in the early rituals which clearly alluded to its use as a psychoactive compound used to open the mind for ritual. 
  • Jamie Lamb talked about the Anno Lucious dating system and how the procession of stars gave us clues to ritual origins and even magick. 
  • Don McAndrews spoke to us about a great book which told of Jewish Patriarchs moving into Europe, who were actually Pharos from Egypt. 
  • Greg Kaminsky gave an amazing talk on the medieval thinker, philosopher and genius, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. He also offered insights into ritual prayer. 
  • Frater O, spoke about the hidden symbolism within the temple of Solomon and how it aligned with chakras and other systems. 
  • And Yes, I presented as well. I spoke on the topic of immortality and manifesting your destiny. 
The documentary crew from Roadmap to Freemasonry was also present, getting interviews and filming some amazing things.

I was impressed with the questions that were asked after the presentations. We were truly surrounded by men and women who understood the deep concepts to which we were all speaking . I took copious notes on topics that I was unfamiliar with. I looked around the room, no sleepers, no one snoring, all awake, all mentally present.

I looked around and I thought about how everyone who was present and how together, we’re making a difference in how we teach Freemasonry, how we can get our members to think more deeply about what we espouse in the ritual.

I can’t say much more, other than THANK YOU! Thanks to the attendees, the speakers, the organizers. It went from the Mid-Atlantic Esotericon, to the First Inaugural Mid-Atlantic Esotericon. That’s right, it’s coming back next year. I'll end on a quote from a newer Masonic Blog that recently posted about the event - From Darkness to Light

"This is what Freemasonry should be, and this is what Freemasonry needs to become again."
~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 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.

The Unfinished Mark



After receiving the Honorary Degree of Mark Master Mason, it is expected that a Mason will create his mark and submit before he continues on to receive the Royal Arch Degree. This mark is unalterable as it is meant to identify all of your work. What about those of us who don’t finish our mark before laying down our working tools?  What about that unfinished mark?


My father, John Hambrecht, was raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason on March 25, 2017.  This was only 11 months after I was raised. He the received the honorary degree of Mark Master Mason, in August 2017.  He began working on his Mark. 


He was to receive the rest of his Royal Arch Degrees in, I believe, late October as part of a Royal Arch Class. By then he was feeling well enough to go to the class. You see, my father had heart problems and numerous levels of nerve damage, in his legs and hands, from diabetes as well as the years of work he had done in manufacturing. He was in pain every day.  


By Thanksgiving he was in the hospital, again, from heart related issues.  After Christmas, he had decided he’d had enough and went into hospice at the end of January.  On February 16, 2018, he laid down his working tools and never finished his mark. Or had he?

Certainly my father never completed the mark for the Mark Book but had he finished his mark?  Since before I was born, my father worked for the company from which he would retire. They actually had a policy of putting your stamp, mark, on everything you produced.  My father was a very hard working quality oriented man and he did this well for them.  He did it so well that, after getting his Bachelor’s Degree and then later a Master’s Degree, he ended up working in the HR Department as a Training Manager.


I was born in 1968.  Over the next 49 years my father did much.  Working as many as 6 days a week and, when times were hard, as little as 3 days a week on a 3 shift rotation.  Still he found time to teach me to play baseball, to change the oil in the car, how to work with tools to build things, how to shoot, how to hunt, and all through that time he taught me things that I didn’t even know I was learning.  As is the case with fathers and sons, we would be close then grow apart only to return to the closeness again. It’s kind of a never ending roller coaster ride but it’s just how men are with each other.  In the end I believe that I was his mark.  He left me unfinished, as all fathers must leave their sons, because we are there to finish the work ourselves and begin a new mark to leave behind.


-MH

 

Bro. Mike Hambrecht was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason on April 20, 2016 in Village Lodge #274 F & AM in Burton, Ohio. Currently he is a member of Triandria Lodge #780, where he is Junior Deacon and Lodge Education Officer, and a member Lake Shore Lodge #307. He is also a member  Willoughby Royal Arch Chapter #231, where he is Scribe, Ohio Royal Arch Chapter of Research, where he is Secretary, Windermere Council of Royal & Select Masters #113, Eagle Commandery #29, where he is Standard Bearer, Scottish Rite Valley of Cleveland, and more recently a Noble of the Al Koran Shrine. He also serves on the Grand Lodge of Ohio’s Education Committee. He works in the IT field and has a wife, daughter, two dogs, and two cats.

Benjamin Franklin: America's First Self-Improvement Guru?

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

Benjamin Franklin had a particular practice that he established in his 20s and continued to practice throughout the course of his lifetime. He made a list of 13 virtues, printed them on little cards that he kept in his pocket, and each week he focused his efforts on improving himself in one virtue. Each day he kept track of how he did on that week’s virtue on his scorecards, and after he’d cycled through his list he started all over again. Franklin’s 13 “virtues” were temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility.

These are frequently hailed as “Franklin’s 13 Virtues” . . . but that’s not exactly what they represent. It’s true that all thirteen of these traits are virtues, however, if you read about Benjamin Franklin, you’ll quickly come to realize that these aren’t Franklin’s virtues—this list represents his vices! After a long look in the mirror, Franklin realized at some point in his youth that his character was in bad need of improvement. He didn’t make a list of virtues he possessed, he made a list of virtues that he needed to work on. And that’s what he did. What’s most remarkable is that he continued working on these for the rest of his life.


Change is hard, and personal improvement and character development is even harder. As we learn from Franklin’s example, it’s a lifelong pursuit with a goal we never reach. It’s hard because it requires us to look in that mirror and be honest with ourselves. We have to be able to see ourselves as we really are, and recognize where we need work. And there are no shortcuts to building character. It’s very hard work. It requires dedication. It requires sustained determination. It requires self-discipline and self-control.

But as Masons, that’s what we signed on for—to learn subdue our passions and improve ourselves in Masonry. In other words, to learn self-control and self-discipline and begin down the path of becoming a true and upright Mason. To begin seriously working on that ashlar, knocking off all those rough and superfluous parts of our character.

I challenge you to do as Franklin did . . . reflect honestly on yourself, make a list of areas that need improvement, and start down that path to a better you.

A version of this article was originally published by the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville (IL) Valley Echoes Newsletter.

~TEC 

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog, and an award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. Todd started the Midnight Freemason blog in 2006, and in 2012 he opened it up as a contributor blog The Midnight Freemasons (plural). Todd has written more than 1,000 pieces for the blog since it began. He is a Past Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) where he currently serves as Secretary. He is a Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research (FMLR). He is a charter member of the a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 and currently serves as EHP. You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Masonic Haikus

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A Lahners


Recently, Midnight Freemasons founder Todd E. Creason challenged many of us who write for the Midnight Freemasons to provide broader content for the blog. As a lifelong fan of the Haiku, I was surprised to find that there were few examples of them with Masonic themes. Here's my attempt to start to rectify that. If they are well received, I may do more. 


Blindfolded barefoot 
Point of a sharp instrument
Against Naked Breast

Guards the inner door
Cowans and eavesdroppers near
Tyle accordingly

Faced the east kneeling
Brought to light within the Lodge
Transformed forever

Level Plumb Square tools
Pillars on the temples porch
Three Five Seven Stairs

Grumpy Past Masters
Argues about the meal bills
Never Coming Back

West Gate Unguarded
Quantity beats Quality
The Craft is ruined

Educating Men
Hidden meanings are revealed
Teach the mysteries

Bearer of Burden
Entered Apprentice Mason
Bib turned up

Earn Masters wages
Aid worthy distressed brothers
Travel foreign lands

~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.