The Pillars of Charity: Honoring Donors to the House of the Temple

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Travis Simpkins


The House of the Temple in Washington, DC, is the headquarters of the Supreme Council, 33°, Southern Jurisdiction. Inside the building are the Scottish Rite SJ's Museum, Library, Archives, Temple Room, offices, banquet hall and other spaces. The edifice is also a mausoleum, with two crypts holding the earthly remains of Past Sovereign Grand Commanders John Henry Cowles, 33° (1863 – 1954) and Albert Pike, 33° (1809 – 1891). Between the tombs of these Illustrious Brethren is an alcove lit by a radiant stained glass window, with the words Pillars of Charity chiseled above. On either side of the alcove's walls are small pillars with the names of those who have made the generous contribution of $1,000,000 or more to either the House of the Temple Historic Preservation Foundation, Inc. or the Scottish Rite Foundation, SJ, USA, Inc. In further recognition of their generosity, donors are also immortalized with an oil painting to be displayed in the nearby portrait gallery.

Earlier this year, I was commissioned by the Supreme Council, 33°, SJ to paint the latest addition to the Pillars of Charity Portrait Gallery. I am honored that the Scottish Rite, SJ thinks highly enough of my talents to ask me to create this important recognition of generosity. The subjects of the double-portrait, Ill. Thomas A. Rossman, 33° and his wife, Patricia, are dedicated supporters of the House of the Temple and this was their 2nd donation of $1 Million to the Historic Preservation Foundation. A native of Detroit, Illustrious Brother Rossman was raised in Center Line Lodge No. 550 and joined the Scottish Rite Valley of Detroit (NMJ) in 1963. The Rossmans moved to Hawaii in 1989, where he is now a life member of the Valley of Honolulu (SJ) and Mrs. Rossman is a member of Lei Aloha Chapter No. 3, Order of the Eastern Star.

As Masons, we must keep in mind the importance of contributing to the long term maintenance of our magnificent buildings for future generations. The House of the Temple is a cause that is certainly worthy of any support you can offer. Not all of us have a million dollars to spare, but most all of us are capable of making some financial contribution. Please visit the Scottish Rite, SJ's website and click on the “Giving” tab to see the many ways in which you can help. Or on a smaller scale, when you make a purchase from their online store, please click “yes” on the checkout tab when asked if you'll round up the total to support the House of the Temple. Their website is www.scottishrite.org

-TS

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

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

The Cowan Within

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB:. Robert E. Jackson

I've recently joined a new company. Well, recently is a relative term, so we'll say about 3 months ago at the time of this writing. Getting the new job was quite an accomplishment to me. The company seemed amazing, and every person I spoke with was so incredibly kind, and smart. 

Soon after starting the job, like probably the first day, I started wondering if I deserved to be in such a good company. I would worry about not being good enough, or smart enough, where at times I wouldn't be able to focus on my work! Colleagues would tell me that they all felt that way, and everybody goes through it, but it was so hard to believe that they felt the same amount of anxiety. Then, during a team dinner, I learned that it wasn't just me. Hell, it wasn't just this company. It was Impostor Syndrome.

So, like any good Mason, I started searching, and reading, about Impostor Syndrome. Sometimes called the Impostor Phenomenon, the condition was introduced in 1978 by Dr. Pauline Clance and Dr. Suzanne Imes. It was initially seen in high performing women, being introduced to a male dominated work force. These women, although worthy and well qualified, didn't feel like they belonged, always feeling like they weren't good enough.

For some time, it was believed that this issue was only evident within females, but it was later discovered that the feeling had no gender bias, but recognition did. Kevin Cokley, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin, stated that “people who are experiencing or struggling with impostor feelings struggle alone. They think that they’re the only ones feeling that way.” Men typically tend to either compartmentalize, or not admit this feeling of inferiority, especially among their peers. Some feel that the best way to battle the phenomenon is to recognize and encourage the positive outcomes. Be sure to give the accolades when they are due. However, asking for such recognition and encouragement, can be deemed a sign of weakness in many circles, further exacerbating the problem. 

There have been several papers and articles written on the Impostor Phenomenon, and some studies have attempted to correlate the Phenomenon to family upbringing, or correlation with other disorders such as anxiety and depression, as well as perfectionism. What appears to be at the core, however, is the belief in a false-self, whose value depends solely on what others think and how you’re perceived. The apparent Impostor (I say apparent because they are an impostor only in their own perception) obsessively analyzes and reflects upon their mistakes, big and small, and always wonders what they could have/should have done. What some may see as a common error, the apparent impostor sees as a personal deficiency, another imperfect aspect of their own ashlar. The fear of exposing another deficiency, revealing another weakness to the community, can cause procrastination and be debilitating at times. Any success (such as a new job) is viewed as luck, or an oversight of somebody else. 

As Masons, I see several opportunities for the Impostor to sneak in. Think of when you might have delivered a presentation, or a section of ritual. Often times your Brothers will congratulate you on your success. If you've ever focused more on your mistakes, or had a fear that the bar was now higher for your next delivery, you've heard from your Impostor. If you aren't sure, go ahead and take this online test (yes, there is a test for everything now). 

Thank you for reading this far. A big portion of this article for me was researching and trying to understand, and cope with, the feelings I had in this new job. Seeking to understand the false self, and the lack of a true static self, has helped, but my search is far from over. If you're curious, the best paper I've found online about the phenomenon is from the Journal of Behavioral Science. In which Dr. Clance identifies six potential characteristics of the 'Impostor:' (1) The Impostor Cycle, (2) The need to be special or to be the very best, (3) Superman/Superwoman aspects; (4) Fear of failure, (5) Denial of competence and Discounting praise, and (6) Fear and guilt about success. One of my favorite quotes during the research, however, was from Business Insider; "And yes, the biggest deceiver in all of this really is us: Not in how we believe we lie to others, but in how we lie to ourselves. You see, impostors tend to mistake feelings for facts. But, feelings, unlike facts, lie — and they lie often."

Of course I'm no expert, but if you recognize a similar struggle, or patterns within yourself, please don't hesitate to discuss it with others. The phenomenon isn't a weakness, or a handicap, but to truly understand your own process, seeking a professional is always the best option.

~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

Freemasonry: Finding Our Future In Our Past

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

I attended a really memorable meeting last week--I enjoyed it, I learned something from it, and I'm still thinking about some of the things that were said a week later.

The meeting was small in numbers, but big in content.  It was a regularly stated meeting of Admiration Chapter No. 282 (IL) Royal Arch.  We focus our meetings less on business and more on education, and during this meeting, I lead a discussion, the topic of which was suggested by fellow Midnight Freemasons contributor Brian Pettice, 33°.  The topic of the meeting was what Freemasonry means to us.

I started the discussion by having everyone follow me out of the Lodge and through the Tyler's room and we crowded into the Preparation Room.  Nobody knew why.  I had the last two members out of the Lodge grab the Steward's rods and once we were all crowded into that small room and had closed the door, I picked one of the members to step forward, the Stewards closed in on either side--flanking him.  I repeated those questions we all answer before we enter a Lodge for the first time.  We reenacted that very first bit of Masonic ritual we experience at the foot of the path we take in Freemasonry--it most likely varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but here in Illinois we call that the "Secretary Interrogatories".  That familiar bit of ritual took everyone back to those moments before we entered the Lodge for the first time.

What did we expect this experience to be like?  What brought us there?  What did we expect to gain?  What was our opinion of the Fraternity then?  What was our impression of the Masons that brought us to this place?  How did we think we were going to be changed?  All those questions we asked ourselves in that moment.

When the Masons in that little room realized what I was doing, it got very quiet as those words came back to them, and those memories they associated with that part of our ritual returned.  

Some of the Mason in that little room had been a Mason for decades, and others a very short time.  By going back in time like that, and putting ourselves back to that moment when we were looking at that door for the first time from the outside prompted a lively discussion after that exercise in which every member in attendance participated.

We talked about the purpose of Masonry.  We talked about mentoring.  We wondered if those coming into our Fraternity were having the same quality of experience that we had when we entered.  We talked about what we were doing right, and we talked about where we were falling short.  We talked about whether Freemasonry was still relevant, and determining unanimously that it was, we talked about how it's more important than ever in today's world.  And yes, we talked a little about recruitment and marketing who we are and what we are to a world that sometimes doesn't exactly understand who we are and what we are.

There are so many topics you can discuss.  There are so many creative ways you can get these discussions started.  So many formats from speakers, to presentations, to discussions, to book clubs.  The possibilities are endless when it comes to Lodge education and member development. Or do as we're doing--try a little bit of everything and let your members decide what they enjoy the most.

The members in attendance last week are already looking forward to our next meeting, and our next presentation.  They aren't looking forward to hearing minutes, or the treasurer's report--they're looking forward to talking about, and learning about Freemasonry and how to apply it to their lives.  How the application of the principles of Freemasonry is what Masonry is all about.

If your Lodge focuses on these basics you'll be amazed at what happens.  If you rebuild your Lodge on the foundations of Freemasonry, you'll find these Masonic principles are still relevant, still applicable, and still something men today are interested in talking about, applying, and living.

Tear into that ritual and teach your new members not just how to do it, but what it actually means.  Open those dusty books in your Lodge library and teach others the wisdom they contain.  Have conversations about what it is to be a Mason.  Mentor each other.  Advise each other.  Learn from each other.  Improve each other.  Then take that out into the world and serve as examples.

My Brothers, that's Freemasonry!

~TEC

Next week I'm going to tell you about another terrific meeting I attended last night . . . this meeting was lead by Midnight Freemasons Senior Contributor Greg Knott at Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) A.F. & A.M. where he currently serves as Worshipful Master.

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

Hauts Grades Academy

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Erik Marks 


Joining the Scottish Rite, I sought to deepen my understandings of blue lodge work, and masonry overall. I knew this was an adjunctive choice, not in place of my blue lodge work. I wasn’t disappointed. Following my first reunion, I was encouraged to apply to Hauts Grades Academy to expand and reflect upon what I had experienced. Early on, the Scottish Rite was known as Hauts Grades. I eagerly went to the web pageand signed up on the wait list. Hurry up and wait, the useful lesson to temper impulsivity and mobilize contemplation. When my admission email arrived, I paused, then logged in and got started. The program is the Northern Jurisdictions answer to further light self-study.

A video introduction gives a brief and clever overview of the Rite, packed with historical high and low points. Hauts Grades labor consists of three sections: Level I explores the rituals of the twenty-nine degrees by reading through each degree and taking an on-line quiz about the contents. In level II one is asked to choose nine of the twenty-nine degrees, review them in even greater depth, and write a personal reflective piece about those selected. There are specific requirements that frame the task including how lessons and core values might be implemented in lodge and life. Level III is a research paper of the candidate’s choosing which has been approved by the HGA committee; the areas of research represent the history, ritual, or philosophy of the Scottish Rite. Being a lengthy endeavor, a year is granted to complete the task. Here the master mason can make a Scottish Rite journey and study very personal, seeking to explore and bring into the light an aspect of our world of particular interest to him, potentially expanding the body of literature as well.

I have just completed level II and both sad and excited its over; though I realized a few papers back, I can do the same with any and every degree I choose as much as I want. Now knowing the format, I can continue the reflection without the oversight for my own edification. It has been fulfilling and curious to note the difference in writing about degrees I’d never witnessed, ones I have experienced once, and the ones I’ve witnessed two or three times. It mattered and changed things in the visceral response and personal nature of the reflection papers. I also chose to write about the degrees that move me the most, first.
In the middle of the experience it is a meaningful, moving, self-paced study and practice. I’m asked to consider and reflect on how I will implement the lessons of the degrees in my day to day life in and out of lodge. Regardless of education level, HGA participants have a chance to delve into their masonic and Scottish Rite experience and practice reflection and research with the goals of expanding education and understanding, and promoting service. I was talking with my Brother the other day lamenting the fact that I hadn’t gone through the line in lodge beforedoing the work in HGA; he admonished me stating he hoped more of us would take longer and do more internal and expository writing prior to stepping into line thereby improving the depth and breadth of knowledge each new officer brings to the line. HGA provides an additional route through masonry for those who find this modality inviting and inspiring; hone your living tradition as well as your writing and communication tools. I’m grateful to my NMJ leadership of the Hauts Grades as we pay no fee for the privilege of doing this directed work. All nine papers are reviewed sequentially before the next may begin. Important to note, this venture means a lot of work for a few already active in the craft. Thank you. In the interested of more labor and light, I thought I would share it with you here. Though HGA is part of the NMJ, it is available to SMJ master masons who choose plural membership with a valley in the NMJ. New to masonry or a well-traveled leader, I strongly encourage further study through the Hauts Grades Academy. ~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

Aztlan Lodge No. 1 in Prescott, Arizona

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Travis Simpkins


On a recent trip to the Southwest, I accepted an invitation from Wor. Ken Davis to visit Aztlan Lodge No. 1 in Prescott, the oldest Masonic Lodge in Arizona. Located in a commercial area on Willow Creek Road, the plain exterior of the modern building veils the fascinating history contained therein. Wor. Ken and the Lodge's current Worshipful Master, Wor. Ted Gambogi, graciously provided a tour of the building and relayed much of the Lodge's long history.

Aztlan Lodge No. 1, chartered in 1866, actually pre-dates the Grand Lodge of Arizona by 16 years. The Lodge applied for dispensation from the Grand Lodge of California in 1865. The petition required a recommendation from the nearest Lodge to Prescott, which happened to be about 400 miles away in Santa Fe. The weathered document (which is on display in the current Lodge) was relayed on a rugged journey by horseback and returned a year later. Once formed, the first official meetings of Aztlan Lodge No. 1 were held in the log cabin of the Territorial Governor.

The early Brethren had to contend with all the dangers and hardships of the frontier and their first Masonic burial was for a Brother killed during an attack by Indians. Aztlan Lodge's Master in 1872, Morris Goldwater (uncle to future U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater), who went on to become Grand Master of Masons in Arizona, later let the Lodge meet on the upper floor of his business in downtown Prescott until funds were raised to construct a dedicated Masonic building. The first Masonic Temple in Prescott, a grand edifice which stills stands today on Cortez Street, was constructed in 1907.

The four-story building was utilized for over 70 years, but with no elevator an aging membership eventually found the steep flights of stairs to be too arduous. The Lodge sold the Cortez Street building in 1979 and purchased a then-undeveloped large tract of land where the current Temple now stands. Surrounding lots were sold to various businesses to further finance the construction and provide for future upkeep. As a centerpiece within the new building, and a very noble historical tribute, an exact recreation of the 1907 Lodge room was constructed on the second floor.

The Masons in Prescott are doing great work. In addition to Aztlan Lodge No.1, the building is also home to Golden Rule Chapter No. 1 (the oldest Eastern Star Chapter in Arizona), three York Rite bodies, a Scottish Rite study group and a newly formed DeMolay Chapter.

Special thanks to Wor. Ken Davis and Wor. Ted Gambogi for their kindness and hospitality.

More info about Aztlan Lodge No. 1 is available on their website www.aztlanlodge.org
~TS

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

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

What Does YOUR Behavior Say About Freemasonry?

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

I posted this on my personal blog some time back and it got a big reaction.  I don't know that we think about this a lot.  We should.  I've talked about it before. 

When I became a Mason back in 2005, I was joining a group of men.  Not only was a joining a group of men, but I became a representative of that group.  I joined that group with a desire to improve myself.  I embraced those principles, ideals, and morals that the group believed was important to develop in ourselves in order to become men of good character.  There was nothing in any of those basic building blocks of character that conflicted with my religious or personal beliefs.  And over the last fourteen years I've met some of the finest men I've ever known, and learned a great deal about Freemasonry, about life, and about the characteristic of being a man of principle.  We aspire to live by a higher standard than those in the profane world outside.

I used to say that Freemasonry's best advertising was its members.  In the social media age, I'm not sure that's true.  I'm frequently embarrassed by the way I see Masons behave on social media. I see Masons posting memes they know will start a huge debate, and then take part in online fights that are disrespectful and crude.  There's one social media page that seems to pride itself on the lack of respect that they show each other.  It's also a public forum.  That behavior certainly doesn't represent my values nor most of the Masons I know, and it certainly doesn't demonstrate the standards of our fraternity either. 

I wonder what non-Masons think about our Fraternity when they see our members behaving this way?  I wonder what perspective Masons looking for information think when they stumble on these forums?  I'll tell you honestly, if I'd seen some of that back in 2004 when I became interested in Freemasonry, I'm not sure I would have joined.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have. That conduct of our members (our representatives) is not what I thought Freemasonry was about back then, and it's definitely not what I know Freemasonry is supposed to be about today. 

I'm a true believer in what this Fraternity can do for men, what it can do for communities, and the positive influence these values we instill in our members can have on the world.  I've studied it.  I've applied it.  I've written about it.  I've spoken about it.  I've lived it for the last 14 years.  I must admit, however, I sometimes question the direction we're headed.  This public foolishness is beneath us.  We can't even talk about something as mundane as how we should dress for official functions without getting into ugly public fights with one another.

We've become so inwardly focused on ourselves as individuals and our own needs in this era that we forget we're part of a group--each representing each other and all of us representing a higher standard that we aspire towards.  We've forgotten that we're not Freemasons to change Freemasonry into an image of ourselves, we became Freemasonry to be changed by the traditional teachings and values of our Fraternity.  To become part of a long and proud tradition.  To become better men--to rise above the crude and profane world around us and serve as examples to others.   

Let's remember who we are when we interact with the world . . . and try to remember that when we represent ourselves as Freemasons to the world, each of us represents ALL of us.

~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 Non-Masonic Road Trip

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Erik Marks


We set out early on a Saturday morning for a two-week road trip to show our sons a large swath of the northern half of the United States. Corinna had taken them a southerly route in 2014 and I had met them in Phoenix, AZ for the second 10 days of the trip. So for this family trip, I took a nod from Brother Creason’s post, I recently purchased a baseball cap emblazoned with “the symbol” on the front and secretly hoped to attract the attention of many a traveling Mason on my journey, to hear tales of American Masonry across the states: no luck.

16 states (one of those was actually a province (Niagara Falls, ON, Canada), 15 days, 14 campgrounds, 5 lodges (from the outside at town-appropriate drivingd speed), 4 National Parks including Theodore Roosevelt NP (with no mention of his Masonic status—I’m writing to complain), 3 state parks, several thousand tourists, and I met 0 Masons. I spoke with many people between long drives and at the parks, and received scores of double-takes at my cap…no questions about the cap, though.

On a side note about branding and caps: As much as I was hoping to have my hat noticed by a brother, I was in turn searching every sea of tourists and their vehicles for Masonic swag and saw none. I did get glimpses of hundreds of caps and realized that my little gold symbol, powerful as it is to me, was often lost in a flood of somewhat esoteric looking product endorsements and well known sports, college, or product emblems. True, it is also my product endorsement, though not one used to garner financial profits. I suppose our symbol does generate a profit for the company who embroidered the gold thread on the black hat I liked so much. As we know, symbols are powerful, though in those seas, how would anyone distinguish it from any other product if they had not known of its existence or meaning previously?

We want our sons to experience parts of our country and world they have never seen as well as be in the presence of others with whom they might otherwise never come into contact. Corinna and I made a similar drive our first summer together, though this time in addition to Badlands and Yellowstone, we included Glacier and TRNP. At intervals, listened to the first section of The omnivores dilemma driving through corn and cattle country, laboring to understand a particular view of agriculture, business, and disenfranchisement felt by many whose farms and family legacies were shaped by grain and government policy—the undoing of a Masonic president’s efforts to balance and stabilize the economy for the good of all. I’m grateful to have visited TRNP and hear several lectures about his life, albeit devoid of the spiritual and philosophic roots in his heart that lead him to the gentle craft and the reciprocal influence the fraternity had on his public actions.

Despite the lack of overt Masonic brethren, the trip was wholly spiritual for me. I've always felt connected with nature, which I think is easy to accomplish when visiting such impressive natural wonders. But there was more. In meeting and speaking with people, mostly men, I was surprised their willingness to engage easily and without guardedness, the same I feel from brethren wherever I have had the good fortune I’ve had to meet them. Attribute this ease to road culture, vacation vibe, being away from New England? I'm not sure. However, three conversations stood out:

Charlie, a retired history teacher, now volunteers to greet visitors at a highway rest area in a central state. He vibrantly expressed the way he understands the lack of emphasis on history in education and the lessons imparted as the root of many social ills as well as its study as grist for solutions. As I continue my way through Whence Came You, by M. Deutsch (Recommended by Grand Librarian and author Right Worshipful Hunt), I look for encouragement, light, and lessons about what to, and not to, repeat in my Masonic career.

Bud, a stocky white haired native of Tennessee we spoke with in Glacier NP, was deeply pleased holding a can of bear repellent, wishing he had it with him a few years back while visiting Nashville for a family emergency: "I've been packing heat for 40 years, thank God I never had to use it." He recounted a food court confrontation between two other men in which he, “had to stand up. Put my hand on my piece and shake my head at the guy who was reaching for a weapon inside his jacket...he just pulled his hand out and sat down...I'd rather have had this." holds up the bear spray. We returned from the day of exploring to discover our tent had been vandalized, possibly by the same Grizzly youngster who had been interrupted the day before by our camp host (see next paragraph) when it was engaged in the same curiosity behavior with another person's tent. No bear spray needed!

Abraham, a recent graduate of a tribal college, discharged several rounds heard through the campground on our first evening in camp in an attempt to scare the young Grizzly bear away from tents and people. Generally avoiding humans, the bear only got itself involved with tents while their occupants were away. Abraham said in a conversation he had never needed to use that strategy before and believed his actions useful for two and four legged creatures to remain harmonious neighbors—at a distance. I found him earnest, forthright, and tactfully generous in our conversation. We leaned the following day parts of Glacier NP were closed off to visitors due to unusual grizzly activity in those areas.

Though none of these men were Masons, they could be. Each saw my cap, none asked about what it meant or about Masonry. In each case, I wondered about appropriate ways to entice them to find us. All of them reside in states far from my own, so asking them to join me for dinner would be absurd. I'm staying in touch with one, where our conversation went on longer and there seemed a natural reason for us to exchange contact information. Though Massachusetts allows Masons to ask men if they want to join, I don't like the idea of asking directly. I will never get someone to join. I firmly believe in the process of a man needing to make the first inquiry of his own free will and accord; and continue to proceed with assistance and mentoring though expressly without pressure. If through getting to know me and/or seeing the ways Masons contribute to societal improvement a man feels the stir in his heart to be and give more, he will make it happen. I hope our brief meetings sparked some curiosity that might cause them to seek and be more in our particular way, even if our roads never intersect again.

~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

Star Trek and Freemasonry

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners



August 19, was what would have been the 98th birthday of Star Trek’s creator, Gene Roddenberry. As luck would have it, I injured my back somehow last Wednesday which put me in bed for the better part of that evening and most of Thursday. There was a Star Trek Marathon on BBC America which I can only guess was being done due to his upcoming birthday. It consisted of TOS (The Original Series), The Next Generation, as well as some Voyager thrown in. I know that these are available on Netflix, but for some reason I was compelled to watch some of the broadcast marathon. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has watched any of the Star Trek shows or movies and not seen any similarities to Freemasonry present. For the purposes of this article, I am only going to use Star Trek (The Original Series) as my example.

There’s a popular conspiracy theory that Roddenberry was a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Freemason, although there is absolutely no evidence to support this. Roddenberry considered himself a humanist. Wikipedia defines Humanism as such: Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism and empiricism) over acceptance of dogma or superstition. This isn’t to say that he was an atheist, his friend Charles Muses is quoted as saying that before his death, Roddenberry stated: 
It’s not true that I don’t believe in God. I believe in a kind of God. It’s just not other people’s God. I reject religion. I accept the notion of God.” 
Roddenberry is quoted as saying: 
“Understand that Star Trek is more than just my political philosophy, my racial philosophy, my overview on life and the human condition.”
This being said, it’s easy to see why there’s a belief that Roddenberry might have been a Freemason. The Star Trek universe parallels many of our teachings in different ways. First and foremost, the United Federation of Planets espouses liberty, equality, justice, peace and universal cooperation. It is described in the TOS episode “Whom Gods Destroy” as being an enlightened group of humanitarians and statesmen that had a dream, which became a reality and spread throughout the stars. I think we can look at the history of our own fraternity and say something very similar. While not spread throughout the stars, Freemasonry has spread to all seven continents and the moon. (Antarctica’s first lodge Antarctic Lodge No. 777 was established on Feb. 5, 1935 by members of Admiral Byrd’s Antarctic expedition of 1933-1935. The lodge on the moon (Tranquility Lodge 2000) was created by Buzz Aldrin with special dispensation given to him by the Grandmaster of Texas. If you want to know more: http://tl2k.org/history/)

Freemasonry and Star Trek reflect the cardinal virtues. The virtues of Justice, Prudence, Temperance and Fortitude are represented by the three principal officers on TOS, Kirk, Spock and Dr. McCoy, but also by the three principal officers of the lodge. Kirk being Captain of the USS Enterprise would represent two of the virtues, namely Justice and Fortitude. Spock, being Vulcan and relying on Logic more than emotion, would represent Prudence. McCoy, whose emotion balances Spock’s logic, would represent Temperance. Parallel to this in the Lodge, The Worshipful Master would represent Justice and Fortitude, The Senior Warden Prudence, and the Junior Warden, Temperance.

Even the Starship USS Enterprise evokes some Masonic symbols. The twin Nacelles could be representing Jachin and Boaz. While the Saucer section when viewed from above could mimic the Circumpunct (point within the circle) with the bridge serving as the point within the circle. If the Nacelles were extended, they would most definitely serve as the two parallel lines often depicted with the Circumpunct. Another interesting side note relating the USS Enterprise to Freemasonry is that it is a Constitution Class starship. Roddenberry originally wanted to name The USS Enterprise the Constitution. The only Masonic lodge to be instituted on an active ship of war was Major General Henry Knox Lodge. The lodge was instituted on March 17,1926 on the gundeck of the USS Constitution.

The idea of a brotherhood is also prevalent throughout Star Trek. The most striking example from the Original Series is portrayed in the episode, “The Menagerie”. In this episode, Spock hijacks the Enterprise to transport his severely disabled former Captain, Captain Pike, to the planet of Talos IV where he would be able to live out the illusion of a normal life. Is this not something that we as Freemasons might do? We promise to aid all poor, worthy distressed Brothers.

Spock being a Vulcan (half human – half Vulcan), has some interesting connections to Freemasonry as well. Vulcan as we know is the Roman God of fire and metal working. Albert Mackey wrote in A Lexicon of Freemasonry in 1860 about T C, stating: 
“He was the inventor of edge-tools, and introduced many arts into society which tended towards its improvement and civilization. T C is the Vulcan. In after times TC figured as workers in metals and inventors of the mysteries… For these reasons TC has been consecrated among Masons of the present day as an ancient brother.”
Furthermore, to quote an article written by Bro. Robert Johnson regarding the passing of Leonard Nimoy on this very blog, there is a parallel between the Vulcan culture and Freemasonry. (http://www.midnightfreemasons.org/2015/03/freemason-is-to-earth-as-vulcan-is-to.html): 
“There is a direct parallel to Masonry here, at least to me anyway. It would seem like the Vulcan culture manifested in the universe of Star Trek mirrors the logical thought processes we as Masons are taught to use in our everyday lives. To suppress vice, to break away from the superfluities and obey the dictates of logic. And to self-sacrifice for the good of humanity.”
I’m sure there are other similarities between Freemasonry and Star Trek that I am missing given the expansive Trek universe. However, I hope I have proved that the themes of the show parallel ideas and concepts that we have in Freemasonry. The ideas of liberty, equality, justice, peace and universal cooperation between mankind which are taught throughout our degrees are the same principles which guide the United Federation of Planets. Perhaps one day these principles will guide us if we contact an extraterrestrial civilization. Perhaps one day we will see Freemasonry spread amongst the stars. As long as there are men that are willing to carry forth these ideas, I think that’s a real possibility.

~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.