New Year’s Resolutions For Masonic Lodges?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM

For as long as I can remember people have looked at the beginning of a new year as a time to” Turn over a new leaf”, a chance to start anew.  Losing weight, quitting a bad habit, or trying to better themselves have always been popular resolutions on the new year. While many of these resolutions fall to the wayside by February, many people are able to make life-altering changes to themselves by sticking to their resolution and either prolong their life or give themselves a better quality of life. 

I know the thought of creating new year’s resolutions for a Masonic lodge at first blush, might seem to be a bit crazy. Under normal circumstances, the words ”lodge” and ”change” go together like ”ice cream” and ”mustard” but the events of this previous year may have possibly given us the ability to consider the possibilities. 

I’m sure each one of us was, if we were honest, we could think of some issues our lodge could resolve to change in the upcoming year. Just like a human could develop bad habits over its life or there are practices the lodge could adopt that would prolong its life. These issues could be anything from resolving to getting your membership to learn the ritual well enough to perform your own degree work instead of relying on outside degree teams to assist you or to clean and repair your building. As much as I can’t tell you what you should resolve to do for yourself in the next coming year in like manner only you and your Brethren know what your local lodge needs to resolve to work on. It might be worth a discussion. 

It won’t be easy and we all know there might be pushback among some members but it’s worth a try. If you get one thing corrected you are on your way to improving your lodge. Stay positive and don’t give up! We are in this for the long hall. Just like it may take a person several attempts to quit smoking when they finally do drop the habit it changes their life. The same thing applies to your lodge. Just keep trying. 

It may sound silly but I believe that if each lodge locally were to resolve to improve itself there would be no issues in Freemasonry. We all look to grand lodges to resolve our issues like they are some kind of lifestyle guru when actually we are the ones that hold the keys to our future. Individually we are the ones that affect change for ourselves and I feel it is the same for our lodges. Take advantage of the new year and make things happen! 

I wish you and your lodge members nothing but success and prosperity in the upcoming year.  


WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco, Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this, he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.

Now in Paperback! The Better Angels of Our Nature - Review

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
by Robert H. Johnson

Editors note - This review was first published a few years ago. However, I have updated it because it's now out in paperback. I for one am very excited about this. You can pick up the new paperback HERE.

Several years ago, I reviewed an older book, which I found to be excellent. It was called A House Undivided. I had followed this up about a year later with a similar book, in that the subject matter was the same. However, this particular book, The Better Angels Of Our Nature - Freemasonry In The American Civil War, is not so much a collection of colorful anecdotes as the previous book had been. Instead, it was a real investigation into Civil War stories, verified using real scholarly work. Many Civil War stories have embellishments and unbelievable outcomes. This new book cleared it all up.

In the first chapter, it opens up with a doorbuster. Using all the resources available and even written accounts, Halleran proves that Hancock and Armistead's highly regarded story never happened. This story, forever memorialized in the "Friend To A Friend" Masonic Memorial at Gettysburg, and also the basis of the 26th Degree in the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, is false. It's a great story, but it just isn't true.

After that substantial disappointing blow, the book goes on, and I prepped myself for further disappointments. But my disappointment was staved off. Instead, I had confirmation after confirmation of even more amazing stories regarding the influence of the gentle Craft in wartime. In fact, many of the stories which were confirmed were more fantastic than any other stories I had heard before. Stories that pulled at your heartstrings and made you think about the times and situations these Brothers had been in. Cover to cover, the book draws you in.

The book's overwhelming and underlying question or theme seems to be-- "What was it about the Masonic Obligation that superseded the rules of war?". This was a question that the book guides you into asking yourself as you hear story after story of verified fraternalism on the battleground. Stories of soldiers "accidentally" escaping and lodges being fashioned in prison. Even enemy officers of those prison camps attending the prisoner based lodges—all verified through journal entries and cross-referenced in other journal entries by the actual Brothers who were there!

Mike Halleran even goes to the lengths of inspecting sources that were not Masonic. Journal entries by the profane of the period. In these entries, the profane complain that Masons got better treatment and even were let go on occasion—it was "unfair." These profane often wrote in their journals of how, when the time would present itself, they too would join the fraternity out of witnessing the bonds that had been on display to them during the war.

The book does a fantastic job of verifying, separating truth from colorful anecdotes, and disproving Masonic "whoppers". I say this book is a must-read. Where "A House Undivided" brings you the fairytales, perhaps this book brings you the straight dope on what happened, and in the end, this book proves we are indeed the greatest fraternity in the world.

Just recently, the book has been released for the first time as a paperback. If you've been waiting to pick this book up, now is the time. It's never been more accessible. Pick up the book at this link.


RWB Johnson is a Co-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 Theatre which focuses 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 Form of a Lodge and the Universality of Masonry

by Midnight Freemason Emeritus Contributor
Brian L. Pettice, 33˚

I would like to discuss an interpretation of a passage from one of the lectures of the First Degree.  This interpretation isn’t original-- others have written about it.  In spirit, it will be very much like other ritual interpretations I have shared with you before.  The interpretation will be very similar to the idea spelled out even more strongly in the Charges delivered in the rituals of some other Grand Jurisdictions that all of humanity has claim upon our kind offices and that we as individuals are to do good unto all.  So, while the interpretation I am about to propose to you has been commonly known in many circles of Freemasonry, it seems that, in our sometimes tumultuous and divided times, it has not been as commonly remembered or practiced and bears repeating. 

Therefore, I would like for us to consider this passage, “The form of a lodge is an oblong rectangle extending from east to west between north and south, from the earth to the heavens and from the surface to the center.  It is said to be thus extensive to denote the universality of Masonry and that a Mason’s charity should be equally extensive.” 

Let’s look at the first sentence.  “The form of a lodge is an oblong rectangle extending from east to west between north and south, from the earth to the heavens and from the surface to the center.”   If you think about what this sentence says you will find that the description of the form of a lodge describes the entire world as we know it.  The lodge is our world and the world is our lodge.  Its symbolism goes much deeper than that simple sentence but for our talk tonight that sentence is enough. 

Now let’s look at the second sentence.  “It is said to be thus extensive to denote the universality of Masonry and that a Mason’s charity should be equally extensive.”   The first part of the sentence explains that the lodge, extensive as to be the entire world, describes the universality of Masonry.  Universality—a word defined as the quality of involving or being shared by all people or things in the world or in a particular group or as the quality of being true in or appropriate for all situations.  For us, as Masons, this means that we are universally-- that we are always and in every situation—Masons.  There is not a place or time in the world where we are not.  Everywhere we go, everywhere we are, all of the time; we are to act as Masons should.  We don’t get to take a break.  We don’t get to shut it off. 

The second part of the sentence explains that a Mason’s charity should also be as extensive and universal as the entire world.  His charity—that agape love for others that enables him to put another’s needs ahead of his own, that lets him see a being loved by God in everyone he meets, that lets him set aside the desires of his own ego—is to extend to everyone he meets in the world.

Is this a tall order?  You bet it is.  It is impossible for any of us to behave like this all of the time.  However, it is not perfection that Freemasons will achieve in this life, but it is perfection that we should aspire to.  I am going to try.  How about you?


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 a 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

The Smartest People I Know

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

A couple of years ago I was scrolling through Twitter when I came across a Tweet from Warren Buffet, the famous billionaire investor. His Tweet was titled, “The smartest people I know…” and went on to list seven characteristics that he felt met this definition. I copied that Tweet down and recently discovered it in a notebook I was looking through. I wanted to share it with you along with some of my thoughts about it.

The Smartest People I Know
Warren Buffet - Twitter August 26, 2018

Don’t get easily offended
Read more than they talk
Enjoy intelligent discourse
Quickly admit when they’re wrong
Comfortable changing their opinion
Surrounding themselves with intelligence
Seek to understand every perspective on a topic

In today’s social media and sound bite world, these are sound advice. Let me walk through these with a few views of my own.

“Don’t get easily offended” - social media is full of people who quickly react to any comment or meme. The talk (or type) first, think later trend that has swept society in the last few years, I believe has contributed to the toxic environment that now seems to permeate nearly everything. By not being easily offended, you might actually be able to understand someone else’s point of view.

“Read more than they talk”
- to me these are the type of people who are seeking to find the facts and read a diverse array of sources.

“Enjoy intelligent discourse” - is this still possible in today’s environment? I think so, and I always enjoy talking with people who are ready to have a serious discussion about issues, history, their families, etc.

“Quickly admit when they are wrong” - I’ve never been one who is so entrenched in my thinking that I can’t admit when I have been wrong. This has come easier with age and personal growth.

“Comfortable changing their opinion” - I have no problem changing my opinion, when I learn new facts, learn from other people’s experiences, and expand my knowledge.

“Surrounding themselves with intelligence” - if you spend all your time on social media, let me assure you, you're not surrounding yourself with intelligence. Social media has a place, but pick up a book, read a newspaper, attend a lecture at the local college, conduct masonic education for your lodge.

“Seek to understand every perspective on the topic” - the best way to expand your horizon, is to seek out diverse points of view on something that interests you. You will quickly learn there is more than one truth out there on a subject.

As Freemasons we can utilize Warren Buffet’s advice to help advance our personal growth and to utilize these skills in studying all the lessons that Freemasonry has to offer. Thus making us smarter Masons!


WB Gregory J. Knott is a founding member and Senior Contributor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign-Urbana. He is also a member of ANSAR Shrine (IL) and the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. Greg serves on the Board of Directors of The Masonic Society and is a member of the Scottish Rite Research Society and The Philathes Society. He is a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. and serves as its Secretary. Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts—an Eagle Scout himself, he is a member of the National Association of Masonic Scouters. You can contact him at

They Kept the Lights On

by Midnight Freemason Regular Contributor
WB Christopher Hathaway

Those born between 1928 and 1945 are known as the Silent Generation. The Silent Generation is a generation that does not get much attention. They certainly do not get the credit they deserve in our society or in the Masonic Lodge. As kids, they were taught it was better to be seen than heard. They always flew under the radar but managed to contribute to society by working hard behind the scenes without the need for attention or recognition. 

We all know about the Greatest Generation of WWII heroes and the economic prosperity the country enjoyed post-war. We know about the Baby Boomers and their countless internet battles with the Millennial generation (one that I am a member of). The newest Generation Z is all the rave now as writers try to analyze their every move to determine what kind of leaders they will be. So why did the Silent Generation get overlooked? Why do we criticize them in the lodge instead of praising them for their contributions to the fraternity? The answer is because we do not know much about them and often lump them together with either the Greatest Generation or the Baby Boomers. 

They are a sandwich generation that were kids or coming of age during WWII. They were young adults in relatively good economic times. They had good jobs to enter right out of high school. One key contribution that does not get attributed to them is the leaders they produced during the Civil Rights Movement. Although they led that change, they are well known to be traditionalists. The baby boomers brought on cultural change that overshadowed the slow and steady attitude of the Silent Generation. Think of the Silent Generation as the middle child. Even the war they fought has become unnoticed. This generation fought in the Korean War AKA the Forgotten War as it was fought between WWII and the Vietnam War.  They also are a generation that was never represented in the White House. 

The Masonic lodges they inherited were largely made up of the Greatest Generation and by the time the Silent Generation was able to step into leadership roles, Masonic membership was on its way down. The Baby Boomers stopped joining anything that was considered part of the establishment. The Silent Generation ran Masonic Lodges just as they ran the rest of their lives: respect for tradition, loyalty, and hard work. 

We often complain that the older generation turned the Masonic Lodge into a social club or charity driven organization that turned the fraternity away from the original purpose of Freemasonry. That may be true, but they also kept Freemasonry alive and available to the common man. Many of us that complain today would not have been high enough on the social ladder to be even considered for the degrees of Freemasonry, let alone able to afford it. We would not be presenting education in our lodges if the Silent Generation did not step-up big time to maintain Freemasonry during its darkest years. They could have given up, they could have closed the doors, but they did not. 

This generation had to work hard to maintain our lodges. We complain about the pancake breakfast and how “that’s all they want to do.” That is because they had to. They did not enjoy a membership boom during their tenure. They had to bring in money to support our lodges. We complain about the green beans at dinner. Chances are, the Junior Warden of your lodge has been in the position many times due to necessity and they are burnt out. Be thankful the green beans are on the table because that means the lodge is still open. These men supported lodges night after night performing degrees to any lodge within their cable tow. This generation was not really afforded the luxury of focusing on education; they have been maintaining our membership rolls and buildings for years. Even those that do not attend, regularly send in dues payments year after year because they see it as their duty. I see too many non-payment of dues suspensions go out to people that become uninterested in the fraternity. They do not see it as their duty to financially support the lodge once their self-interests are no longer being met. 

Change is slow and takes effort. It is not instantaneous, and we cannot expect it to be.  We wonder why the older members will not change. The truth is it has not been in their best interest to change. It worked for them, now we need to find out what will work best for us. 

Thank you to the average men of America that kept the doors open for us so that we have a platform to enlighten our members on our principles of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. We may have our thoughts about what makes a proper Masonic lodge, but we are only to present these thoughts as Master Masons due to their commitment to keeping the lights on. In my lodge, it was the Ronnie Vallangeons, the Ronald Tranchants, the Seigel Halls, and countless others that will go down in no other history book besides the hearts of the men they influenced. Master Masons today should be forever grateful to the members of the Silent Generation. Traditions Matter. Progress Matters. It takes all of us from all generations to bring out the best traits in each other to make the Masonic Lodge sustainable for years to come.


WB Christopher J. Hathaway was raised in Catlin Masonic Lodge #285 and is the current Worshipful Master of Bloomington Masonic Lodge #43. He belongs to the Valley of Danville, AASR where he is the Most Wise Master of the George E. Burow Chapter of Rose Croix and Membership Chairman. Other appendant bodies include the Gao Grotto, Mohammed Shriners, and the Illinois Lodge of Research. Outside of the lodge, he enjoys spending time with his wife Taylor and cheering on the Fighting Illini and Chicago Cubs.    

Willing or Willfull?

by Midnight Freemason Emeritus Contributor
Bro. Erik Marks

In preparing to present for the December Lodge of Instruction (LOI), I began to think about the start of my masonic career. I was asked repeatedly and in a variety of ways if I was joining without coercion and if it was my sincere wish to be a mason, to accept the mantle and work it implied. Was I willing or willfully resistant? 

As I pondered for preparation and planning for LOI, I encountered my own willful resistance to the process and of presenting. I had to admit to myself where I was willfully resisting an aspect of my life, of reality. My willfulness was a barrier I placed in front of my ability to change: it is the roughness needing smoothing before I will be able to place this stone. I had to either approach the effort of planning with a willing mindset or decline the honor altogether. 

Recently, a dear brother asked if I was “over my writer’s block.” This was his gentle and generous way of inviting me to contribute without pressure or seeming challenge. Stated this way, I was left undefended against the powerful admonishment to bettering myself. Stated another way: will you remain willfully resistant, Erik, or are you willing to contribute? 

So here I am, Brother. Willing. I recognize in myself the errors of my initial agreement to write. These were self-aggrandizement and one-sidedness of ego (an imbalance I can discuss more off-blog for those interested in the conversation). Further, if I am to change myself for the better, I have to be willing to honor your request despite my grievances with my Self and subdue my passions. Moreover, it is my willingness to move through those grievances with Chisel and Gavel, to work to set myself right. 

And so, this is my challenge to us all, in any given moment, are we willing, or willfully resistant? To listen? To understand? To care? To love? To engage, thoughtfully? To subdue our passions (read: reactivity)? For me, this question is foundational in Freemasonry: Do we bring ourselves fully to this precious life and willingly look deeply inward to break off that which does not serve humanity and world?


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:

Opportunity Is Calling. Will You Answer?

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. T.J. Williams

COVID-19 is the pandemic that stopped the world in 2020. Operations and organizations worldwide were faced with the realization there was no working preparedness plan to keep us at work and business flowing. We've been forced to make plans in reaction to events as they come, but are plans being made for the long-term address of challenges?

A quote came across my Facebook feed that made me think very differently in this time of unknowns.
"Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." -Albert Einstein
As a fraternity, I believe the Grand Architect of the Universe has given us the opportunity to reflect, to plan, to make changes, and to forge a path forward.

I believe we need to redefine our purpose and how we reveal ourselves to the public. Many recent articles have alluded that we have an identity crisis in describing Masonry, and I sincerely agree. The way I describe our fraternity is going to be different than the next person. Each Lodge has its own identity, and while the teachings are the same, the approach to the work of the Lodge may vary from another. Does your Lodge have a unified approach and mission statement to share with the public? What is your Lodge known for? If your Lodge does have such a statement, does the work of your Lodge match it?

Next, I think we should take an inventory of our Lodge. I don't mean the assets of the Lodge; I mean assess what your Lodge is proficient in and what it's lacking. Is there a member mentoring program, officer training program, established means of sharing Masonic education regularly, meaningful community outreach? Is your Lodge known in the community, or is it just a building where men meet regularly? When you look at these different aspects of the Lodge, you can identify what needs work and plan your next steps.

Often, we only see a small percentage of our members coming to the Lodge's regular meetings and events. Why? Is there something missing? I believe we should be looking at and analyzing our membership regularly to learn and adapt operations to better the Craft. This information will help with making future plans for your Lodge and add value to the experience.

I've heard it many times, "we've always done it that way." Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a period where what we've always done isn't exactly working, and some of the smallest changes can create large differences. It's essential we evaluate and adjust. We must always be mindful of who we let pass through the West Gate, but we need to look at what we do after a person passes through. We don't have a membership problem; we have an active membership and retention problem. Without a solid plan, we'll keep getting what we've always gotten.

If these conversations don't start to happen, if we don't start planning for our future, where will we be in the next decade? The decade after? We can't just idly sit and talk about the challenges; we must find answers and take appropriate actions. With the future of Freemasonry at stake, from the local Lodge to Grand Lodges worldwide, opportunity is calling. Will you answer the call?


Bro. Thomas “TJ” Williams, is a member of Triangle Lodge #1 in Portland, Maine, and King Hiram Lodge #57 in Mexico, Maine. Currently, he is serving as Wor. Grand Pursuivant to the Grand Lodge of Maine. Among his Blue Lodge membership, he is actively involved with the Valley of the Androscoggin, Scottish Rite NMJ, and started his journey through the York Rite bodies. Though he only joined the Craft in 2018, he is actively working to enrich the experience through his service on the Member Education and Lodge Services Committee. He is well known amongst Maine’s Grand Jurisdiction as a “The Traveling T”, a nickname given by the current Grand Master, as he finds himself in lodges several nights a week.

From a point

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners 

When we are taught in the Fellowcraft degree about the winding staircase in the middle chamber of King Solomon’s temple, and of the three, five, and seven stairs encompassing it, we are told the number seven alludes to the seven liberal arts and sciences which are: grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. We are told that Masonry is founded on geometry or the fifth science. We are then taught that Geometry is that science which treats of the powers and properties of magnitudes in general, where length, breadth, and thickness are considered - from a point to a line, from a line to a superficies, from a superficies to a solid. We are then taught:

· A point is a dimensionless figure; or an indivisible part of space.

· A line is a point continued, and a figure of one capacity, namely, length.

· A superficies is a figure of two dimensions, namely, length and breadth.

· A solid is a figure of three dimensions, namely, length, breadth and thickness.

We are furthermore instructed that: By this science, the architect is enabled to construct his plans and execute his designs; the general, to arrange his soldiers; the engineer, to mark out the ground for encampments; the geographer, to give us the dimensions of the world, and all things therein contained, to delineate the extent of seas, and specify the divisions of empires, kingdoms and provinces; by it, also, the astronomer is enabled to make his observations, and to fix the duration of times and seasons, years and cycles. In fine, geometry is the foundation of architecture, and the root of the mathematics.

Douglas Adams famously answered in his novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, that "The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42." While there are 42 principles of Ma'at, the ancient Egyptian goddess – and concept – of physical and moral law, order, and truth, Douglas famously said that there is no significance regarding the number. "The answer to this is very simple," Adams said. "It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base 13, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat on my desk, stared into the garden, and thought 42 will do. I typed it out. End of story." What would you say if I told you the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything that was taught to you in the Fellowcraft degree and that it is written above in the four bullet points?

From this geometrical perspective, the process starts with a point; the point moves, and in doing so generates a line; the line moves, in a direction not parallel to itself, and generates a plane (superficies); the plane, moving in a similar way, generates a solid. But more importantly, it is a glimpse into how the universe began.

The predominant theory of how the universe began (most commonly known as The Big Bang Theory) is that there was a single point of singularity (a point in time-space of extremely high density and high temperature) from which the universe expanded instantaneously and continues to expand. Or: from a point to a line, from a line to a superficies, from a superficies to a solid.

Looking at the Sefer Yetzirah, or “Book of Formation”, which is a book about the theories of ma’aseh bereshit, or the account of the creation of the universe in which is important to Kabbalistic thought. The first chapter of the Sefer Yetzirah explains the sefirot—these sefirot of the Sefer Yetzirah differ from the ten “aspects of God” that appear later in kabbalistic thought. In the Sefer Yetzirah, they take the form of numbers with mystical qualities, each one representing the stages of creation. Beginning with the first sefirah, Keter, the sefirot emanates from one another as one number follows another. Or: from a point to a line, from a line to superficies, from a superficies to a solid.

These words should be familiar to every mason from Genesis 1:1-3:

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Or in Hebrew:

Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim ve'et ha'aretz.

Wəhā’āreṣ hāyəṯāh ṯōhû wāḇōhû wəḥōšeḵ ‘al-pənê ṯəhôm wərûaḥ ’ĕlōhîm məraḥep̱eṯ ‘al-pənê hammāyim.

Wayyōmer Ělōhîm "yǝhî ôr," wayǝhî ôr

God is a mistranslation of the Hebrew Elohim. El is the root word for deity, Eloh is a feminine singular for deity, im is the plural ending for things that are masculine. So Elohim should be translated either as “Gods and Goddesses” or “Dual-Gendered Deity”. Later on in Genesis 1:26, this is confirmed: “Then Elohim said, “Let us make humans in our image, in our likeness. Let them rule the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the domestic animals all over the earth, and all the animals that crawl on the earth.” Elohim is best described by Lon Milo Duquette in The Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford on page 30 as: “all-powerful, eternal, really, really holy and very, very large; who is so big It is both the King and Queen of the Universe, who is so all-encompassing and huge that It nowhere to sit down because all of the chairs are inside of itself, who, because It is everywhere and nowhere, everything and nothing, had no one to play with – this dude of dudes created the Universe.”

For those of you who are in York Rite, you will know these words from John 1:1-3 which is saying the same thing:

In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The same was in the beginning with God.

All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.

So Elohim was both nothing – a dimensionless figure, or an indivisible part of space or a point that created heaven and earth…. something. Elohim spoke, and commanded that there be light, and there was light. A ray of light, a line extending into infinity. When we look to the heavens at night, we see these rays as stars, and we are in essence looking back in time as it has taken light-years for those rays to reach our eyes.

Then Elohim says:

“Let there be an expanse in the midst of the water! Let it be for separating water from water.” So Elohim made the expanse and it separated the water that was below the expanse from the water that was over the expanse. And it happened so. Elohim called the expanse “sky.” Would sky not be a superficies? It has length and breadth.

Then Elohim said, “Let the water below the sky be gathered to one place. Let the dry ground appear.” And it happened so. Elohim called the dry ground “land,” and the collection of the water He called “seas.” And Elohim saw that it was good. The land and sea, part of the solid planet Earth.

From a point to a line, from a line to superficies, from a superficies to a solid. The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.  Pretty incredible if you ask me.  Masonry has the lessons.  All you need to do is to pay attention and learn. 


WB Darin A. Lahners is our co-managing Editor.  He is a Past Master of and Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph. He is also a plural member of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL), where he is also a Past Master. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of 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). You can reach him by email at 

Men of Faith

by Midnight Freemason Regular Contributor
WB Christopher Hathaway

Freemasons are men of faith. Men who believe in something greater than themselves. We do not quarrel about dogmatic differences as we believe it is up to the individual's own journey to make peace with the Creator as they see fit. We are not a religion. In fact, religion cannot even be discussed in a Masonic lodge as it may cause disharmony amongst the brethren. Why has there been opposition by many denominations throughout history? There are many reasons that can be stated but, in my opinion, the church sees Freemasonry as competition. The leaders think they are competing for time, energy, and money, of the same men that would belong to churches, men of faith. Freemasons ought to be so involved in their faith communities that the religious leaders see the craft as a benefit to their congregation. In my home church, four out of the five Deacons were Freemasons. There was no question in that church that Freemasonry was a friend, not a foe.  

In a Gallup study from 2018, church membership has dropped 20 percentage points since 1998, down to 50%. This is sourced from membership in the three major religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The decline in Freemasonic membership and church membership is correlated for sure. This is not to say that one group is causing the decline of the other, but we are sourcing the same type of people. How do you grow the number of people that believe in a higher power? You get involved with your church. Where do you find qualified men who would be good Freemasons? More than likely in the church. It has been discussed in other articles that we must get out of the lodge and into the community. I will take a more specific stance to say get out of your lodge and into your church. I am not saying go there and recruit Freemasons. I am saying to have conversations with men of your faith, grow your church, and be a shining example of Freemasonry. As stated in the 23rd Degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, NMJ, Christians should truly be Christians and Jews should truly be Jewish…realizing common ideals for the good of humanity. I paraphrased that a bit, but you get the idea. We need to be involved in our respective religious circles.

If organized religion is not your thing, find other outlets in your community that puts you in a space with like-minded gentlemen. The percentage of agnostics in America is on the rise and I do not see this trend slowing down. These men may find our principles of toleration and truth appealing. 

The sense of mystery surrounding Freemasons is both a blessing and a curse. We must use this to our advantage as we tap into the curiosity of prospective members, but we cannot be so obscure that we alienate our friends in the church. We must be knowledgeable to dispute falsehoods and rumors spread about the fraternity. We must build personal relationships and be trustworthy to gain the respect of those with questions. I know I have a lot of work to transition myself from a passive member in my church to one that is active and engaged.  Our motto of making good men better should be evident by the way we carry ourselves in all we do, including the church. 

“Bowling Alone” by Robert D. Putnam goes into detail about the decline in membership for both civic and religious organizations. Many factors are outside the control of a single church or lodge. But we can control the partnerships we form locally and the relationships we build with each other to ensure sustainability for generations to come. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it's that people are social creatures and need to interact with each other. Let us be the place that good men seek when we can come together again safely. A warm, strong handshake as we exit a building sure beats exiting out of a zoom meeting every day of the week.


WB Christopher J. Hathaway was raised in Catlin Masonic Lodge #285 and is the current Worshipful Master of Bloomington Masonic Lodge #43. He belongs to the Valley of Danville, AASR where he is the Most Wise Master of the George E. Burow Chapter of Rose Croix and Membership Chairman. Other appendant bodies include the Gao Grotto, Mohammed Shriners, and the Illinois Lodge of Research. Outside of the lodge, he enjoys spending time with his wife Taylor and cheering on the Fighting Illini and Chicago Cubs.    

Welcome Chris Hathaway!

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin Lahners

It is my pleasure to introduce the newest Midnight Freemason regular contributor, Christopher Hathaway.  I have known Chris for a number of years and on a personal level I'm ecstatic to be able to have him join us in writing for the blog. Chris was raised in Catlin Masonic Lodge #285 and is the current Worshipful Master of Bloomington Masonic Lodge #43. He belongs to the Valley of Danville, AASR where he is the Most Wise Master of the George E. Burow Chapter of Rose Croix and Membership Chairman. Other appendant bodies include the Gao Grotto, Mohammed Shriners, and the Illinois Lodge of Research. Outside of the lodge, he enjoys spending time with his wife Taylor and cheering on the Fighting Illini and Chicago Cubs. 


NPR Missed the Point

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Randy Sanders

Editor's Note; On November 20th, 2020, NPR ran an article entitled "Freemasons Say They're Needed Now More Than Ever. So Why Are Their Ranks Dwindling?". In it, the usual fare is discussed. In this editor's opinion, it was nothing new and honestly a bit tired. Nonetheless, I urge you to read the article for full effect. The best reading stemming from this article was the responses drawn from across the fraternity. Below is one such response from Bro. Randy Sanders. 


It absolutely missed the point. Freemasonry is Freemasonry, and fraternity is fraternity. After WWI and WWII (and back to the late 1800s), the fraternity of men drove the massive increase in membership. Once that and my generation have gone, Freemasonry will return to a more traditional rate of those seeking us out. That next generational membership level is well below even the current numbers. I personally estimate about another 40% drop in membership over the next 10-15 years. This will return us to the membership levels we had previous to the World Wars.

The massive influx was also attributed to a less mobile, more tightly constrained population without anything like we understand of modern communication. Urban centers without much to do and little to no TV programming, drove people to look outside for social activities. The later suburban flight carried with it an influx of membership in Lodges to city outskirts while signing the death warrant for most urban Lodges. You can see this in the massive Lodge consolidations of the '70s and '80s that the second wave of urban sprawl shifted Masons and Lodges to even greater distances.

Now we move into an information age, where sharing communication is no longer limited to the US Postal Service and rotary dial telephones between Lodges. I can, and have successfully created, Masonic education presented across vast distances never before even considered possible excepting the occasional science fiction author. I can and have communicated and debated esoteric philosophy in real-time with Masons on other continents.

Brothers, the NPR article's real point should be a simple heads up that we have some planning to do. We know we will have a massive reduction in dues-paying members, so the leaders we elect to Grand Lodge positions must stop kicking the can down the road for the future. Grand Masters must begin to reduce spending, focus on stability through the massive reduction in membership we will experience, and create a solid framework incorporating technology into the Lodge setting. We don't have to be tiled to educate our members, and we don't have to be in the same room to have Masonic fellowship with only one exception: Ritual. Yes, I said it. We must be together physically as Brothers, and we must also find the best ways to fit the technology into the other times.

We must also stop the focus on charity. WHAT??? Heresy, you say. Nope. Charity is a natural outreach of spreading Brotherly Love, and that is the focus. We won't stop being charitable, but we MUST stop the focus being on charity. We must return the focus to Brotherly Love and allow the charity to extend from that point of view. Why? Isn't it the same? Charity is an extreme position, while Brotherly Love is a balanced position of working internally first, then reaching out to help others. Think of it as putting on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you. Charity for charity's sake is a consuming pit into which it's difficult to escape. Charity and Love, from a point of balanced strength, allows us to be more precise in our picks for charity. It allows us to keep a focus on "what's good for the Lodge and the members first" then, from that position of balance and love, reach out to help the members and community.

Virtual Masonic education has already changed Freemasonry, whether a pioneering podcast, a video-conference presenter to a Lodge or gathering, or a continued global propagation of virtual education platforms such as Refracted Light and Supere Aude. Electronic communication is the genie out of the bottle, and those that refuse to embrace it will sadly be left behind. As Masons, we must remain accessible to those less technically inclined, reach out to other Lodges and Brothers to share this relatively new platform of education and focus on applying the working tools to our daily lives in a post-pandemic environment.

We won't stop making Masons out of good men, but we must now focus on doing so with far fewer resources and Grand Lodges across the country that spend money they don't, or won't, have. We must appropriately embrace the technology while keeping the spirit and focus of Freemasonry within circumscribed bounds. Freemasonry is not dying, but we must act for the future to set ourselves up for success.


Bro. Randy Sanders lives near St. Louis and is active in Missouri and Oklahoma Freemasonry. He is Co-Librarian of the Valley of St. Louis, MO., Clerk of the Academy of Reflection based out of the Valley of Guthrie, OK., Lodge Education Officer of 2 Blue Lodges, and develops and delivers Masonic education across the region in blue lodges, AASR SMJ, and York Rite AMD. Randy works in IT/Telecom, mentors IT and business professionals, and also teaches Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and is an NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer. Randy and his wife raise Great Pyrenees dogs, enjoy gourmet cooking classes, and travel internationally. He has been involved in search and rescue, community response, and disaster mitigation for over three decades. He served as Logistics Section Chief on a federal disaster team and deployed to the Oklahoma City Murrah Building bombing and St. Thomas, USVI, for Hurricane Marilyn, among many others.

Turn On Your Camera and Stay Off Mute!

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson

As things began to look good, I felt somewhat at ease. Illinois was in Phase 4 of Covid-19 restoration, and 3 vaccines were announced. "Normal" was around the corner. Then, the first frost hit and the news that we were rolling back to Phase 3 in Illinois. My Lodge had weathered the pandemic fairly well. We had two of our younger members get it and recover.

When the news first hit about Covid, our lodge immediately moved to meet online. Not opening, just meeting as we would have. We didn't need a dispensation to hang out online. A few weeks later, the news came from our Grand Lodge, laying out the rules of engagement when meeting online officially. Then a few days later, the rules were revised. And then revised again. Our Grand Lodge did a good job, and they continue to. They've been fluid.

It didn't take long before we were meeting in a mixed format. We would open in person within a large meeting hall to maintain distance, wore masks the whole time, and had we drank the amount of alcohol we put on our hands...well, you get the idea. Also, we snagged a Blue Yeti mic and a webcam to allow our at-home members to be a part of the meeting. It was a lot of work to get it to all moving well. But we did it.

And now, we're moving back to full digital meetings, at least for the foreseeable future. At the time of writing this, it's 24 hours until my Lodge's annual Feast of Saint Andrew. We're all going to sign on to our computers at 6:00 P.M. and cameras on while we eat dinner together. Yeah...sounds weird right? I've been working at home since March. When this whole thing started, I'd get on Skype meetings, and no one had their cameras on.

I mean it. In 5 years, I had never witnessed one person turn on their camera...ever. By mid-April, I began turning my camera on so whoever I was talking to could see me, even if I couldn't see them. And I have to say, most of the time now, we all have our cameras on. For whatever reason, people are shy about it. Perhaps they think their background is too messy or don't like how their hair turned out today. Whatever the case is, it's a thing.

The only time I don't have my camera on now is if I'm eating. And this Feast is going to happen, and I'm going to be eating on-camera...a first for a Masonic meeting...a first really for any online meeting for me at least. These are, as we've heard infinitely, strange times. I am sure this will be fun. I know the guys who planned it. They're top-notch individuals.

All this rambling above is just that--rambling. What I really want to say is, "Turn on your camera...for us." We miss your face. Oh, and by the way...You're on mute!


RWB Johnson is a Co-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 Theatre, which focuses 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.