Was the Past Truly Amazing?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson

A few weeks back, I asked my Grand Lodge about the digitization process for our Grand Lodge Proceedings. For those of you who don't know what those are, they are for lack of a better term, Grand Lodge Minutes.

I know, sounds riveting, right? Well they kind of are. Grand Lodge proceedings have so much information. A years worth of amazing communications, great orations on the craft, who recognizes who, and of course lots and lots of drama...and controversy.

in a vein of coincidence, I accepted a position as the new Webmaster for the Illinois Lodge of Research, and in order to really get things moving, I decided to take a page out of Ill. Bro. Harrison's book. Find the cool stuff in our history and tweet it out. Want more context? Check out the book and read it.

The Grand Lodge of Illinois actually had two iterations. The first from the 1820s-- then they went dark before 1830. They reemerged in the late 1830's or Early 1840s. Why the discrepancy? Well, the first proceedings book for Grand Lodge No. 2 was 1840. But there is a book out there that's dated 1838. So the jury is our until I can examine this book.

I'm currently going through each volume that's been digitized and finding wonderful and interesting things. Some amazing, some scandalous and some...shameful. But we should remember that reading these things should strengthen our fraternity. We read, we reflect, we self correct. Hey--that rhymes. You can thank me later, and if you make it a T-Shirt, send me one.

Here are a few interesting excerpts I pulled for examples in the blog post.

1854 - WHEREAS, it has been represented to this Grand Lodge, that a Brother of Union Lodge 78 has declared that he will oppose the admission of any person, making application [for the mysteries] of Masonry, who does not first distinctly avow to the Lodge his belief [in the] Authenticity of the Holy Scriptures : Therefore— RESOLVED, That, in the opinion of this Grand Lodge, such requirement on the Mason, is unmasonic and contrary to the fundamental law of Masonry; and that no [one] making application to a Lodge for the mysteries of Masonry, should be interrogated [on his] religious belief, further than his belief in a Supreme Being.

The above serves as a reminder that here, in these United States of America, Freemasonry is an organization open to ALL, who profess a belief in a Supreme Being. Beyond this, to ask anything else is-- Unmasonic Conduct. We are not made of a single denomination.

Here is another gem.

1856: Resolution - XXI . Resolved, That, in the opinion of this Grand Lodge, the Wardens of a Subordinate Lodge may preside and confer degrees in the absence of the Master, without regard to their having taken the Past Master's degree.
This one is more historical. It gives us some wild insight. It alludes to the fact that you used to not be able to preside or confer a degree if you hadn't had the Past Master Degree. Could you imagine?

Remember I said they could be scandalous? How about this one?

1856: Suspensions - Suspension Nunda Lodge No. 169 — R. C. Cady, for unmasonic conduct with a school mistress.
One wonders what "unmasonic" conduct with a school mistress entails... In any case, our proceedings have much to offer. History, reflections and even some entertainment. I may write about these findings from time to time. It may be here, it may be a tweet from the Illinois Lodge of Research, or maybe it will be on our blog, "The Lamp" on the ILOR website. I hope you find it interesting.


RWB, Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 2nd N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183. 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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