Are we “Woke” or is everyone else just now catching up?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM


This last weekend the London-based newspaper The Telegraph published a feature story entitled “Millennials and Vegans welcome: Have the Freemasons gone woke?”.  Needless to say, discussions on various Masonic groups on social media went into overdrive.

In this piece, I am giving the author the benefit of the doubt that he was just trying to give the story a headline that would gather the most link clicks or readers. My jaundiced eye on many things in life, (Especially on the media’s coverage of Freemasonry in the United Kingdom), thinks it was a veiled way to take a swipe at the Fraternity. They did this knowing it would cause many of the elder Brethren in England to ruin their appetite for their Sunday roast dinners and cause negative posts on the web, making us look like fools.  If that was objective. Mission accomplished.

I will be completely honest with you and tell you I did not read the story that was published.  It was placed behind a paywall and, to be honest, I have read enough of these types of stories over the years so I am pretty much convinced how it was slanted.  If I am wrong I will totally apologize to the author of the piece Joe Schute.  Honestly, none of this is why I am decided to write about this today.

One of the biggest pet peeves I have discovered since I started writing is people on social media who will just read the headline of a piece, maybe look at the attached photo and form an opinion and begin to comment in the post, having no idea what they are talking about, not only making themselves look like fools but their ignorance usually ends up causing a flame-fest instead of an educated dialogue.  This topic was no different.

The Brethren on our various social channels went insane with crazy comments and kneejerk reactions.  Not to mention a few snippets of ritual some brethren have memorized when they want to prove their point.  All of this because of a silly made-up word.  “Woke”

I do my best not to express my political beliefs when I am writing on any Masonic topic.  I say this because I want no one trying to twist my words saying I am advocating, either way for Freemasonry and some political or cultural agenda.  If you know me personally you know my feelings and so I am sure you know I am not advocating for anything of any kind.  The thing that gets me this whole thing is much to do about nothing.  I will explain why.  

What many of these young people are calling “being woke” here in the last few years.  We collectively have been calling it “Freemasonry.

We are told we are not to judge people by the color of their skin or their national origins.  We as Freemasons believe that our Fraternity is inclusive.  We judge no man by his color or from whence he came.  All we ask is that he be a law-abiding citizen and be willing to join us and comply with our rules and keep our secrets.  We are the originators of the concept of “All men are created equal” and being upon the square.

These young people believe in conducting “Days of giving” and Days of service”.  Needless to say, Freemasonry has been trying to make a better world for almost three centuries.  (Don’t make me pull out the old cliche about how we donate two million dollars a day to charities). 

Freemasons have always been at the forefront of social justice too.  (Sadly, sometimes individual members have been on the wrong side of it too).  Many Brethren fought wars or marched in protest of injustice and tyranny.  I truly hope and pray we will continue to do so.

These are just examples.  Yes, I know there is someone out there just itching to point out how there have been Freemasons who have been also on the wrong side of things.  That is true, as we all have our opinion and free will.  Those men will have to answer to the Supreme Architect of the Universe for their transgressions.  I just like to believe that there are more Brethren out in the world working for good than for evil.  If that is not the case then what I write here makes no difference.  My point still stands. For centuries Freemasons have been “woke”.  It’s now the rest of the world that has been in darkness is finally beginning to catch up with us.

In the end, it really does not matter what color a man's skin is, his nationality, or his heritage.  Nor does his socio-economic status, his sexuality, or his diet. Rich, poor, gay, straight, vegan, it doesn't matter! If he has circled that altar as you have, he is your Brother and you need to treat him as such. I want to leave you with this last thing.  It might be the most important part of this whole essay.  Guard your writings.

If you go back and read the comments on this story on social media or any story like this you will see what I am saying.  I hate to say it but some of the comments on these posts are hateful! Racial slurs, comments on people’s sexual choices, profanity.  Not to mention name-calling.  I hope most of them are trolls, but I must believe some of these posters have sat in a Masonic lodge.  How can a man who professed to love his Masonic Brother and assist him in his times of distress call him vile and vicious names?  Apparently, that man has not learned anything from our teachings. Posting in the public comments of a story or on Facebook…etc. whether anonymous or not still reflects an image of us in the profane world.  It is almost the equivalent of being drunk in public while wearing a Masonic T-shirt.  You are making the rest of us and you look bad.

Like I said at the beginning of this piece.  I have no idea or not whether this journalist created that headline for clicks or to get ignorant and vile kneejerk comments to make us look bad to the world.  If that was his intention you fell right into his trap and gave him what he wanted.  

Well played Brethren.

~BH

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.

Frank A. Hamer

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

Francis A. Hamer was born on March 17, 1884, in Fairview, Texas. His parents were Frank and Lou Emma (Francis). He grew up on the Welch Ranch in San Saba County, Texas. The family moved to Oxford in Llano County in 1894, where Hamer worked at his father's blacksmith shop. In 1901 he and his brother became wranglers on the Pecos County ranch of Barry Ketchum. Ketchum's brother was the outlaw Tom "Black Jack" Ketchum. In 1905, Hamer was a cowboy on the Carr Ranch, where after capturing a horse thief, he was recommended by Sheriff D. S. Barker to join with the Texas Rangers.

Frank Hamer enlisted in the Ranger service on April 21, 1906, joining Company C. Company C was commanded by Capt. John H. Rogers. As a private, Hamer worked the country along the Rio Grande from horseback. In those days, a Ranger company traveled around its assigned area which was usually hundreds of square miles. They investigated reports of cattle rustling, smuggling from south of the border, and were continually on the lookout for wanted outlaws. It was still very much the wild west. 

Being a Texas Ranger was not the glorious job that it has been romanticized to be.  Rangers lived a very rugged life. They usually lived off the land, ranging where ever they were ordered to go, forgoing any romantic or familial attachments. Hamer was a commissioned Ranger from 1906 to 1933, however, there were periods of time where he had resigned for various reasons and sometimes better paying positions.  During this time, aside from being a Ranger, He was the city marshall of Navasota, Texas, a special officer for the city of Houston, Texas, and a Prohibition Officer.  Another reason he resigned was due to Ranger commissions being given out by the governor of Texas and the corruption of some of these officials. However, he was discharged in 1933 with the rest of the Rangers when Miriam Ferguson took the Governor's office for the second time.

Although he had resigned several times, Hamer had become a Ranger captain by the early 1920s. He had been involved in more than 50 gun battles and had been wounded 17 times.  Hamer would not discuss his gunfights throughout his life and refused to talk about how many men he had killed. After Frank Hamer was discharged as a Captain from the Texas Rangers, he was sought after as a peace officer. He participated in several manhunts, the most famous of which occurred in 1934. It was during this year, he was commissioned as a special investigator for the prison system and tasked with ending the crime spree of  Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow, and their gang.  

At 9:15 AM on May 23, 1934, Frank Hamer had set up a ruse to have Bonnie and Clyde stop their car on a rural road near Gibsland Louisiana. Hamer and other deputies called for the pair's surrender, but with a car load of weapons at the ready, Bonnie and Clyde moved toward those weapons. Hamer was armed with a Remington Model 8 semi-automatic rifle with a special 15-round magazine (although some accounts have him firing a Browning Automatic Rifle) and along with his entire posse opened fire putting more than 100 rounds into the suspects and their vehicle.

Frank Hamer retired from all police work in 1949.  He died in 1955 at the age of 71 of natural causes. He was buried in Memorial Park Cemetery in Austin, Texas next to one of his sons, Billy, a Marine killed in Iwo Jima.

Hamer's Master Mason Ring 

Brother Frank Hamer was a Master Mason, receiving his degree in 1909 at Navasota Lodge #299, Texas.

~DAL


WB Darin A. Lahners is our co-managing Editor.  He is a Past 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 darin.lahners@gmail.com. 


Bridging Traditions: Conventions of a Spiritual Nature

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson
 


Throughout history, when general philosophy and religious philosophy get together, sometimes there’s a union, and what is born are rites of passage, degree systems, morality plays, and wholesale organizations. Freemasonry can undoubtedly be called a school of wisdom, born from moral philosophy and transitioning into an even more vast system of objective philosophy that permeates every aspect of the practitioner’s life.

But Freemasonry isn’t alone. While Freemasonry may have birthed or been the impetus for various occult organizations being started, they aren’t the only kids on the block. For many people worldwide, the topics discussed in organizations such as Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Ordo Templi Orientis, Martinism, Rosicrucianism, A:.A:., Builders of the Adytum, Fraternity of Light, and many more, fill a void.

These organizations all have some similarities. Whether they’re called Rites, Degrees, Grades, etc., lessons are to be learned, and the practitioners are guided through with a delicate hand. There are also systematic overlaps in these orders much of the time—things like astronomical significances, similar characters in the degrees, different archetypal topics, and more.

Freemasonry, however, is likely one of the most vital organizations in which many of these practitioners reside, and because of it, there’s a lot of educational overlap. Freemasonry touts the tagline, “The fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man,” and we can see this in action when so many faiths meet under a single roof. When a Freemason takes the stage at their local Lodge to deliver education to those assembled, how many folks are we generally speaking to? Two? Five? Ten? Whatever the number, it isn’t huge. The topic might not be so interesting to the “regular” guys.

A few years ago, when Manasseh Lodge in Virginia hosted the Mid-Atlantic Esotericon, it brought together more than just Freemasons. The topics and lectures for discussion were far more varied and profound than the topics usually viewed through the smaller lens of Freemasonry itself. Suddenly, information and lectures from various occult disciplines blew the doors off the front porch--and it was wonderful.

Brothers, Friends, and kindred spirits present reveled in listening to lectures, nay, sermons given on a full range of esoteric concepts. It was a smashing success. So when 2020 rolled around, and the group of Brothers who put on the first Mid-Atlantic Esotericon began to plan the next event, of course, it went digital--but you know what? It was still amazing.

On June 12th, 2021, the Mid-Atlantic Esotericon held its third event in a Zoom-based webinar format. This year, there were some changes, and they made it even better. The organizers even took the time to manually add and remove people as presenters to talk and have fellowship over the lunch break. There were terrific lectures given by Jaime Paul Lamb, Ben Williams, Don McAndrews, Adam Goldman, Ben Wallace, Mitch Horowitz, Ryan Flynn, and even a contemplative meditation to begin the day by Bro. Chuck Dunning.

Freemasonry truly brought together some of the greatest minds, lectures, and discussions this year in the form of Mid-Atlantic Esotericon 2021. While the conference speakers were all Freemasons, save one, the topics ranged the gamut. Those studious folks out there may have noticed something about the first and second-year logos for Mid-Atlantic Esotericon that is different from this most recent year. Give up? It’s the Square and Compasses; they’re absent.

Moving forward, the conference is going to be MORE. Yes, more than just Freemasonry (although this is a conference put on by Freemasons), and also, more than just the Mid-Atlantic. Beginning next year, this conference will simply be known to all as Esotericon. The dates will be June 10-12, and the planners are already hard at work for the event.

Not only does Freemasonry bring together many faiths under a roof, but we also bring together various disciplines and mind-expanding conversations and education. Esotericon is proof of this--and I absolutely love where it’s going.

~RHJ

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", “The Master’s Word: A Short Treatise on the Word, the Light, and the Self – Annotated Edition” and author of "How to Charter a Lodge: A No-Nonsense, Unsanctioned Guide. More books are on the way.

The Three Masonic Bodies to Which You Should Be a Member

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Adam Samuel Roth


When you join Freemasonry, your options for participation and learning are endless. There are blue lodges, lodges of research, and grand lodge activities. There are a myriad of appendant bodies, ranging from the Scottish Rite, York Rite, and Shriners, just to name a few. How do you choose which lodges and appendant bodies to join and in which to participate? Every Master Mason should be a member of three Masonic bodies. The lodge that raised him, his local lodge, and the body that speaks to his passion. Allow me to explain why.

You will always have a special bond with the brothers and lodge that raised you. Hopefully, you will have spent countless hours with a mentor or several brethren who taught you the catechism and ritual. This lodge introduced you to Freemasonry and gave you your first impressions of it. This lodge "berthed" you as a mason, which is why it is often referred to as your mother lodge. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the fifth commandment is to "(h)onor thy father and thy mother." So should you honor the lodge that raised you with your continued membership and prompt payment of dues. Though you may move far away from this lodge, you now have a duty to ensure that it is sustained. This duty continues even if your mother lodge merges with another.

Your local lodge is where you can truly be a part of your community and do the most good. The men of your local lodge, and their families, are your neighbors. You will see them at school, the supermarket, and elsewhere about town. You will get to know them well. They are the ones who will lend a helping hand when you are in need. It will also be easier for you to help your fellow brother when he is in need. Due to your proximity to the lodge, the labor you do will not place an undue burden on you or your family. You can also do the most good for your community with your local lodge. The local lodge is the lodge that sees what the community needs and acts to alleviate it.

There are many forms of Freemasonry. There are ritualistic, social, historical, charitable, and esoteric forms of Freemasonry. I am sure that one or more of these forms of Freemasonry is what you were looking for when you joined the fraternity. Perhaps you discovered a new passion during the process of becoming a Master Mason. No matter which form of Freemasonry you wish to practice, there is a lodge or appendant body that will feed your passion. If your mother or local lodge is not providing you with the form you crave, don't give up on them. Find the lodge or appendant body that satisfies your needs. This will keep you engaged and make your labors within the quarry more enjoyable.

Some are lucky enough to have a single lodge perform two or all three of those functions. But why should you stop at three? Shouldn't you join all the appendant bodies? The answer is quite simply no. If you spend all your time going to Masonic events, you leave no time to practice your Masonry out in the real world. Your spouse, your children, your family all want to see you. Isn't that the purpose of all of that we do and why we devote our time to the Craft?

I hope that all Masons, young and old, heed this advice. It keeps not only our passions within due bounds but our labors as well. It ensures that our families don't resent our participation in the Craft. It prevents us from getting burnt out. Most importantly, it keeps us engaged and happy. 

~AR

Bro. Adam Samuel Roth is the Chaplin of Anacostia-Pentalpha Lodge No. 21, in Washington, DC and a member of Acacia Lodge No. 16 in Clifton, Virginia. He is the curator of the Masonic Archive, which can be found at www.masonicarchive.org. He is also a devoted husband and father who works in the IT industry.

Community Visibility: It’s Not About Being Seen - It’s About Reinforcing Front of Mind Status

Part 5 in a series

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Mark St. Cyr



First, as we have been doing every-time before we begin, let me make the following abundantly clear...

None of the following is to be interpreted as some offhanded cheap shot or ad hominem attack directed at any Grand Lodge, officers, members, appendant, concordant or anything or anyone else in-between. There are many dedicated Brothers from white aprons to gold bullion’d working diligently to try and turn around what many believe is an inevitable outcome from coming to pass. And this entire series is to help enable those trying to figure out the best methods possible for doing just that. I stand in solidarity with every single one of them and offer my endearing support to that cause. Period, full stop.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program...


Everywhere you read throughout the Masonic community, one point is repeated over and over again, which is: "We need to be more visible in the community!"


Sounds fantastic. Here's the issue: What is this specific "community" of which you speak?


A lot of you reading this are going to knee-jerk a response that probably sounds a bit like this, "Where people can both see us and interact with us in a public area. i.e., Be seen, so the public knows we're (still exist?) here!"


Again, that all sounds great. However, what I'm going to ask you to clarify is this: Tell me precisely what that means and what appreciable end can be measured for effectiveness?


From this point on, most will give many reasons why what they're doing matches their goal of "being seen in the community." Most will revolve around (again, for example purposes only) something that follows along these lines...


"Well, we do a ________________ (fish fry, pancake, sandwich, etc., etc., etc.) fundraiser or booth at our local event, and our booth is always just nuts! People line up, swarm us, and we raise a ton for charity every year. We've got this "being seen in the community" thing down to a science."


The above, in any form, is laudable. However, this does not address the true point of the question, which is...


What did you do to raise awareness in the dignity of Freemasonry in the eyes of the community for the men that seek to become one, and the members that already are?


Fish fry, pancakes, sandwiches do not answer that question.


This is the area (awareness in the dignity) for when we talk of "seen in the community," I want to address because far too many misinterpret what this concept may actually represent, not only from a strategy and tactical perspective but rather, from an actual efficacy calculation.


Now, with the above as a qualifier, let's dig into what may truly be going on that some may not realize. I'll postulate this through an entirely applicable example that many can relate to. However, I fear there are far too many that may not fully understand or quite interpret the ending results correctly at first blush, as I'll demonstrate.


Ready? Here's the premise...


Two booths are set up as a "Green Bean Salad Bar" on a local parade route. The route is packed with locals and more from the surrounding communities. It's truly a big event and on the tip of everyone's tongue in both lead-up as well as afterward. For lack of a better description - It's packed, wall-to-wall with people carousing and partaking in the local fanfare.


One booth (a Masonic one) is named "Lodge XX" and is adorned with a sizable square and compasses logo. The other (profane) is called "Lounge X," where it also sports a large logo consisting of a large crisscross (or an X, if you will) with a very big gold "L" directly in its center.


Both are offering a similar dish, and both are doing a very brisk business. However, both will reach a very different result in the end that needs to be understood for the Masonic calculation, which is this...


Let's say the Masonic booth in sheer volume (i.e., patrons) and dollars raised beat out the other by a factor of 2 to 1. In this type of environment, that would be a very healthy "win."


However, in the public relation game, in regards to both "being seen" as well as "recognition for giving to charity," it's the loser. It's also the loser in dollars and sense (pun intended). Let me explain why.


In the general public's eye, there will be no differentiation between the two of them. Both logos will be seen, and there will be no regard given to either. i.e., It's all about the 'green beans' in the immediate.


People who may be connoisseurs of 'green beans,' just looking to try something different, or just plain hungry as they're passing by, may stop and buy.


Yet, as they buy, they'll give little, if any, regard to what the logo represents, such as: who you are or if you're giving the proceeds to charity. That calculation, if it ever reaches the front of mind aspect, will be used as an afterthought to make them feel better about their purchase - afterward - not before.


This is where the reflexive, "Oh, that's nice!" will come in if the Masonic booth informs them of it. But, in reality, again, it's a reflexive answer and will be forgotten before they even take their first bite.


Arguing that this is not the case for the vast majority of any and all patrons for this exercise is meaningless.


Here's an experiment for those that think I'm wrong...


How many vendors have you chased down after any event, such as a parade, fair, et cetera, to buy more of what they were selling throughout the year afterward?


It's OK, take your time, truly think. If you come up with just one, you're already in such a small minority that it's not even worth calculating.


Here's the most likely scenario for most...


If they go to either this particular event the following year or to one similar--if they're in the mood for 'green beans' and they've only tried that dish once prior. If they see a big "X" with a golden "L" or a big "Square and Compasses" with a golden "G," they are only going to associate one thing and one thing only: green beans and where they can now get them. Period.


Here's the kicker...


Even if they originally visited one booth vs. the other, it will not matter. Both will represent the same conclusion. e.g., 'Green Beans' and where to get'em.


Connoisseurs of green beans may know the difference (i.e., the difference between logos and what recipe is used) But, that only means whether they like the Masonic version of "Green Bean Salad" over the other.


That. Is. It.


Now, when we started down this path, I suggested that even though the Masonic booth may do double the business of the other in both dollars and patrons, in the end, it would be the loser. So, let's extrapolate why that may be the case.


Let's use some basic figures, for example, purposes only, so we can get a feel for what they may imply...


If booth "X" did $1000 in sales and made a 50% net profit and stated that it supported (as in, donates) to a charity, that would mean it had $500 to do with how it sees fit.


If booth "G" did $2000 in sales and also made a 50% net profit (in actuality, it should/would do much, much more because the help expense would be donated time), it would have $1000 to do with how it sees fit.


Now here's where the differences become evident...


In regards to "brand exposure," both are the same. However, "X" actually benefits more than "G." Why?


"X" is in the "Green Bean Salad" business, so any and all attention, sales and more, goes directly to that purpose. Or, said differently, It is its raison d’ĂȘtre; therefore, a profitable day with lots of exposure is a "win-win."


"G" is in the "Making good men better" business. However, any and all attention for sales and more has done nothing for that business except to help solidify an idea that maybe, Masons make better green beans. Think about it.


As far as charity? Team "G" will more than likely donate any and all proceeds (probably well above the $1K example) to a favored charity - and the viewing public will not only be none the wiser; in reality, most will never give it a second thought.


"X" can donate any amount they want, even if it's only $1. And the same thing applies to them in regards to the public perception as booth "G."


(Please hold all the, "Well, it means something for the charity!" Yes, yes it does, but again, we're talking here about "being seen" for the purpose of public relations within the broader community, remember?)


Now, here is where many should pay very close attention, for this is where a subtle difference in the details has compounding effects.


"X" will, more than likely, take a generous amount of the proceeds and reinvest it in both advertising, better equipment, and more. This is what a business does. (Again, these are over-simplistic examples on purpose.)


"G" will, from an obligation aspect, feel compelled to donate every last remaining cent (some will even donate more, leaving the endeavor to a net loss) to a designated charity, to then do it all over again the next year, basically using all the same accouterments and display.


When the next year or event comes around, team "X" may now sport an even spiffier-looking setup, better utensils, and probably attract more attention. Team "G" (usually) will look just the same.


However, with the above now in calculation, it can be reasonably asserted that "X" with its reinvestment and upping of its game has the potential (and more than likely probable) to swing the next year in its favor for paying patrons, taking from "G," as to switch the prior outcome and now command twice the business of "G.," i.e., the roles can be reversed.


What will team "G" do should this happen?


Hint: Probably nothing more except for writing a smaller check to their charity and get ready to do the same exact thing next year. Rinse, repeat.


What do you think "X" will do next? Or, said better: who's winning here? Helpful clue: it ain't team "G."


Now, you may be thinking I'm trying to make this a "money" thing. Trust me, I am not.


This is about effectiveness and understanding precisely what one is doing and why. But, more importantly: How does one actually tabulate their desired outcome for effectiveness? For that, "Dear Hamlet" is the correct question to answer.


In the above examples: If "being seen" for the purposes of a Masonic outcome is the desired result, it doesn't take a business expert to see the above is an absolute losing proposition and waste of time.


But hold on!


Before you throw that stapler or any other object at your screens while yelling, "Garbage!" and a few other not-safe-for-work expletives, let me now explain how doing the "Green Bean Salad" thing can actually work. But, it's the details of the process that determines success vs. failure from a "G" perspective.


So now that we have the premise and understanding of just what may be transpiring for certain endeavors and outcomes. Let's now view the above in a different manner that can have a far more profound effect if engaged thoughtfully.


The idea of raising money is one thing. The idea of, for what desired end, is quite another.


Many raise money for charity and think it's doing one or multiple things for their image or visibility within the broader community. I'll argue that it is doing less to nothing regarding the general public and may be doing only slightly better (in regards to public opinion) within the charity itself.


Again, think I'm off base? Fair point. So, in that light, let me make the following argument, and you be the one that decides which is seen as more appropriate in regards to general public awareness.


(Note: this is for example purposes, nothing regarding the worthiness of the endeavors. I'm speaking directly to public relations through the prism of charity work to clarify the arguments for "being seen in the community at large" and its efficacy. And no charity example should be taboo; if so, then answering the questions everyone is arguing to have answered is just an exercise in futility. Period.)


Question: If you were to ask anyone in the general public, "What charity do the guys in those funny red fez hats known as "Shriners" support?" I feel it would be a safe assumption that those who knew of them at all, even if only for seeing them in their crazy go-karts in parades, you would have a plethora of answers revolving around "Gives to child disabilities or hospitals."


If you were to ask this same group, "What large charity or charities do the Freemasons donate to?" You would get a blank stare. Tell them that those "Shriners" are also Freemasons? You'll probably get the same reaction I used prior in the 'green bean' examples that sounds a lot like, "Oh, ain't that nice. Hey, can I get fries with those green beans?"


In my area, for this year, the G.L. of Ohio made what I will call a brave and noteworthy decision not to pursue its annual funding for the "Special Olympics."


Let me be clear: I do not speak nor represent anything regarding any G.L. However, in reading the explanation given by our Grand Master, I applauded his decision and reasoning.


I personally believe, the current circumstances resulting from the virus, as well as going forward, that this is precisely the time to reevaluate everything. And by "everything," I mean just that - everything.


Again, I am not implying this is the reason for our G.L.


What I am saying, speaking from my own perspective, is that the current circumstances of upheaval are also just the right circumstances to possibly allow for the breaking of certain traditions without the awkwardness of having to come up with some clever retort as to note why. Here's an example...


Q: "Why are you not giving us a check this year? 

A: "We're reevaluating everything. Covid has changed everything for us. We'll let you know if things change in the future."


End of discussion.


No one needs to say anything more, for there's nothing more that needs to be said. It's honest, and it just makes things simple. Also, it should be used now where needed or applicable while its efficacy is still potent to do just that.


"Special Olympics" is a very worthy charity doing good things for those that are disadvantaged. But (and this is a very but!) the amount of dollars given, from a pure public relations perspective in the eye of the general public, I will argue, is less than minuscule.


Let me address it this way...


Would it not be better, from a public relations perspective, to donate funds raised going forward and provide them to the "Shriners Hospitals?" (this is for example purposes only.)


"Why?" you ask. Great question. Let's ask it this way and have you answer for yourself, as it should be. Ready?


If the idea is "public relations" and "worthy charity.", would it not be better for Freemasons to support truly Masonic endeavors that are still seen in the public eye (although minutely) to help raise awareness that they are indeed Freemasons providing the charity?


Furthermore, does not the charity of "children's hospital" translate from the larger context (e.g., nationally) down to the local level? Also, is this not just as worthy of a charity as the other?


The differentiation...


One charity helps to bolster or solidify in the public eye the idea of Masonic charity endeavors.


The other?


We're only important to that charity's fundraising committee for tabulation. i.e., Our checks mean nothing more than another to be counted. The general public is clueless and will remain as such indefinitely, regardless if our picture gets taken with a big check and is in the local news. No. One. Cares.


Here's another aspect to all this to truly give thought to...


In many jurisdictions, Masons or their lodge will partner in different offerings with their local chambers of commerce or businesses. i.e., They'll either pay to have a booth or will be paid to man one. Here's the dirty little secret that most don't fully comprehend...


They (the chambers or businesses et al.) do not care one iota that you are Freemasons or anything else concerning the fraternity. You are either one that needs to be asked to sell what they are offering to help fund their monetary endeavor. (think: purchasing a booth or table, etc.) Or, you're nothing more than the hired help. (think: you man one of their tables, and they pay you for it)


If you think you're anything more than that? I'm sorry to inform you; you're sadly mistaken. You're not seen in a reverent eye as if "Hey, if we could get the Freemasons, that would be a big deal!"


No, what they're more than likely to be thinking is, "How can we get this done cheap? Hey, I know, what if we ask the Masons?!"


Sorry to inform many, but if you think it's anything different? Again, sorry to be the one, because I know from experience.


But there's a different way to do all the above and have it truly impact the way so many are desperately trying. And all it takes is this...


Changing the thought process for calculation, nothing more. And we'll discuss precisely that in the next installment. Hope to see you then.


Mark St. Cyr
 Freemason

Father's Day

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Ken "JP" Stuczynski



{Wrtitten before my Father's death in 2018, not previously published}


We all can daydream, at least once, about what it would be like to be Grand Master, though we ought to be careful what we wish for. In a moment of weakness, I pictured myself ascending to the East, knowing what my first act would be. I would make my father a Mason on sight (if that's even allowed in our jurisdiction) so that he could sit within the tyled communication near me in the East. I could see him putting on his apron for the first time, and for me, it would be an unforgettable sight.

But the truth is my father doesn't need an apron. He already has made his whole life a journey that of a good man ever becoming better.

Masonic myth reaches farther back than recorded history and rational sense would limit. We have a tendency to elevate the legends and likes such as Solomon, or even Noah and Adam, as having been Masons. We want to retroactively install our spiritual antecedents as Grand Masters. We want them to be our rightful forefathers in order to stake a lawful claim in their heritage.

But I don't have to reach that far back. The values I would learn from Freemasonry were already prepared in my heart in the days of my youth by my father, as they were in him by his own father. The secrets of being an upright man were passed down unimpeded without ceremony or ritual, at least in the sense we mean it.

The scriptures tell us that during the age of the First Temple, revered men and masters were addressed as "Father", a tradition not unknown to a certain carpenter centuries later who taught us to pray. I do not think mankind has changed so much that we may not learn from this lesson today. I know I have.

But I must be clear. I do not speak of this to say the existence and practice of our moral science is unnecessary to the world or superfluous to ourselves. There are many who need such tools to aspire to higher thoughts and nobler deeds. And we share a common language useful for people who share in human charity and affection, such traits qualifying and guiding them to the Craft long before their first knocks upon our doors.

What I do mean to say is that men are not required to be Masons to be square and good and true. We share in the title Brother, but should never forget this claim extends to all under the Fatherhood of G-d. The grandest riches to be discovered in the soul of a man is the entitled inheritance of every man, regardless of how one finds it. Additionally, this means all good men are our spiritual ancestors and equals.

So we do not need to wish our father, or ancestor, or this or that person in our lives to be or have been a Mason. Masonry was founded and enriched by such men just as others were made better by it.

If I may learn one thing about Masonry from my own father's life, let it be this: our Fraternity is only one possible fruit of the goodness found in the hearts of men. It is not a written law, or cold tradition, or special entitlement to some few, but a practice of faith that binds us to, rather than separates us from, our fellow man. Apron or not, we all play our part in Divine Providence. And we should recognize, both within and without, faithful fellow workmen, our Brothers, and Fathers, as worthy of all our Love and admiration.


Bro. Ken JP Stuczynski is a member of West Seneca Lodge No.1111 and recently served as Master of Ken-Ton Lodge No.1186. As webmaster for NYMasons.Org he is on the Communications and Technology Committees for the Grand Lodge of the State of New York. He is also a Royal Arch Mason and 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, serving his second term as Sovereign Prince of Palmoni Council in the Valley of Buffalo, NMJ. He also coordinates a Downtown Square Club monthly lunch in Buffalo, NY. He and his wife served as Patron and Matron of Pond Chapter No.853 Order of the Eastern Star and considered himself a “Masonic Feminist”.

Any Tickets For Sale?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Randy Sanders


A scene from the Led Zeppelin concert film: The Song Remains The Same highlights a young woman standing outside Madison Square Gardens asking loudly to passers-by: “Any tickets for sale? Do you have any tickets?” 

We see this in parallels in Freemasonry in the need for inclusion.  We’re on the outside, looking for a key or some means of entry.  The exact opposite is true.  The key is within us, and Freemasonry provides a set of tools to find that internal key. Freemasonry provides the means and understanding of stepping into that journey of self-discovery, but we have to put the work in by ourselves. 

“You get out of it what you put into it” 

I heard this from many older Brothers when I joined, and I found myself using those words a couple of times.  Stop using those words.  They no longer mean what you think they mean to the younger generations.  We live on the cusp of the Age of Information, where the initiatic experience can be looked up instantly, where knowledge is at your fingertips.  Why would a new Mason in the current society be interested in enigmatic phrases that, at their time made sense, but now simply ring hollow without demonstration?  That new and perfect Mason standing in the corner needs to hear what the charge actually means, both to you and to him.  He needs to understand what the lecture means to you so he can come to his own conclusions.  He’s still on the outside thinking there’s a ticket that needs to be purchased for admission when in reality he is his own ticket.  

How do we adapt to make sure the breadcrumbs line up, because right now those breadcrumbs not only don’t align, those breadcrumbs don’t look edible?  The new Masons coming into the craft already understand more symbolism than many of us because they learned to communicate with symbols via emojis, games, and anime’, so let’s align the breadcrumbs.  Make sure to include the new Masons in every lodge committee, function, or duty, and let him know he doesn’t have to do all of it.  Make sure to assign at least one good verbal communicator to every function, so the new Masons get learning opportunities. 

Mentoring is only a part of it.  It’s time to look beyond the mentoring to get deeper into symbolism right away.  That way the young Mason doesn’t have to go immediately into Appendant Bodies to get his best Blue Lodge experience.  His ticket is already in his hand.

~Bro. Randy

Bro. Randy and his wife Elyana live in O'Fallon, MO just outside of St. Louis. Randy earned a Bachelors in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry, and he works in telecom IT. He volunteers his time as a professional and personal mentor, is an NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer, and enjoys competitive tactical pistol. He has a 30+ year background teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and healing arts. Randy's Masonic bio includes lodge education officer of two blue lodges, running the Wentzville Lodge Book Club, active in York Rite AMD, Scottish Rite Valley of St. Louis co-librarian, Clerk of the Academy Of Reflection through the Valley of Guthrie, a trained facilitator for the Masonic Legacy Society. As a pre-COVID-19 pioneer in Masonic virtual education, Randy is an administrator of Refracted Light and an international presenter on esoteric topics. Randy enjoys facilitating and presenting Masonic esoteric education, and he hosts an open, weekly Masonic virtual Friday Happy Hour. Randy is an accomplished home chef, a certified barbecue judge, raises Great Pyrenees dogs, and enjoys travel and philosophy.

UAP’s, Extraterrestrials and Freemasonry – A Thought Experiment

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners


This article is not for everyone.  If you are not interested in the topic, then read no further.  The purpose of the article is to make you think about how Freemasonry is impacted or could be impacted by the recent acknowledgment of the United States Government that UAP's are a real phenomenon or the possibility of an announcement that extraterrestrial life is visiting Earth. There are no right or wrong answers to the questions I am asking. These are my own thoughts and opinions, and they do not reflect any official doctrine or opinion of the Grand Lodge of Illinois or any other Masonic body that I am affiliated with. Also, if you came here via a google search looking for a conspiracy about Freemasons being shape-shifting reptilians, how we are hiding knowledge of UAP's, extraterrestrials, or any other conspiracy Freemasonry is accused of; I am afraid you will not find anything of the sort in the below article.

UAP’s or Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (Commonly known as UFO’s or Unidentified Flying Objects) have been in the news recently culminating in a 60 minutes segment where the two naval aviators that encountered a white tic-tac looking object while on maneuvers off the coast of San Diego went on camera to discuss the encounter.  This incident, better known as the Nimitz Incident, occurred in 2004. Subsequently, Forward-Looking Infrared Camera footage, radar data, and other corroborating data has been declassified regarding military encounters with these strange craft in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.  While many that study the phenomenon believe that disclosure by our government regarding the existence of extraterrestrial life is right around the corner, A report that is due to be presented to congress by the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force seems to only confirm that we know that what we are encountering is not a top-secret American Military project. Otherwise, we do not know what they are.  According to the former head of the Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), Luis "Lou" Elizondo; these craft exhibit five key observables or characteristics. 

1. Anti-Gravity Lift - They are able to hover in one place or travel with no visible means of propulsion.  They also have no visible flight surfaces like wings.  They are able to stay aloft without the apparent need to refuel. 

2. Sudden and Instantaneous Acceleration  - The objects accelerate or change direction so quickly that no human pilot could survive the G-Forces associated with the movements.  Most of our most advanced aircraft could survive 15 G's before disintegrating. The UAP in the Nimitz Incident was observed making erratic turns (One of the pilots involved in the incident, Commander Dave Fravor, has stated that its side to side movements reminded him of a ping pong ball)  and tracked by radar operators on the USS Princeton, which was part of the Nimitz taskforce, at speeds of 3600 mph (60 miles per minute).  As a frame of reference, that is over twice the maximum speed of the F/A - 18 Super Hornet jet that Commander Fravor was flying.  (12o0 mph).   

3. Hypersonic Velocities without signatures - These objects do not cause sonic booms or leave any vapor trails even though they are able to travel at incredible speeds. 

4. Low Observability or Cloaking - Observation of the craft is difficult either visually, through radar, or other means.  One of the Navy Pilots who was involved in an encounter off the East Coast in the summer of 2014 stated that he could not see the object through his helmet camera even though his radar told him it was there and he was able to lock onto the object. 

5. Trans-Medium Travel - These objects have been observed traveling through different mediums like space, the atmosphere, underwater; sometimes all three during one encounter.  

Obviously, this causes a lot of concerns from a national security standpoint.  If there is a foreign adversary with this technology, then it stands to reason that the United States Military is behind the proverbial eight-ball when it comes to a potential confrontation because by all accounts, the UAPs can outperform our top of the line aircraft.  For the sake of argument, let us assume that UAPs are not from a foreign adversary.  From all accounts, based upon some of the documents that were released by the Kremlin at the end of the cold war, we know that the Russians have been encountering these craft as well.  We also know that our allies have also encountered them, so it stands to reason that this is a worldwide phenomenon.  If these objects are not man-made, then who made them, and what are they?

There are quite a few theories about where these craft come from assuming that they are not man-made.  Some think that in the future humanity discovers time travel and that these are time machines coming from the future to visit the past.  Others hypothesize that these are from another dimension or space in between dimensions.  There is another belief that these objects are piloted by the fallen angels/demons/djinn which are referenced in many of the various world's religions volumes of sacred law.  There are some that believe that these are part of a breakaway civilization that originated on earth.  The most common belief is that these craft are extraterrestrial. 

One of the landmarks of Freemasonry is the belief in a supreme being.  As we all know, there is no Masonic God.  A Freemason remains committed to the God of the religion he professes. We meet with a common respect for the idea of a supreme being, but that the definition of that being is a part of each individual’s religious belief, and we do not attempt to join religions together as a part of Freemasonry.  Instead, we use the term Great or Supreme Architect of the Universe to recognize the concept of God in a non-denominational way. As part of this thought exercise, let us assume that there is an acknowledgment by the United States Government sometime in the not too distant future that what is being observed is not of this earth.  Would the acknowledgment or discovery of extraterrestrial life impact Freemasonry?  Many religions already have accepted the idea of life not just existing on earth.  If the Great Architect allowed life to blossom on our planet, then it stands to reason that given the enormity of the universe, that the Great Architect would be capable of allowing it to do so throughout the universe.  I do not see how Freemasonry is impacted by the discovery or acknowledgment of extraterrestrial life.    

For the sake of this thought experiment, let me take this a step further.  Let us assume that we make contact with an extraterrestrial race and communication with them is established.  Taking it one step further, let us also assume that this race communicates that it has no knowledge of the Supreme Architect. The extraterrestrials do not believe in a supreme being, they have no religious dogma in their civilization, and they are adamant that during their vast travels throughout the universe, they have never encountered any other civilization that has a belief in a supreme being. Would this impact Freemasonry?  We currently practice Freemasonry in and live in a world where there are many individuals that are atheists.  I do not see how a technologically advanced atheistic civilization would impact Freemasonry.  However, from my own personal perspective, my faith in a supreme being does not change just because another form of life tells me it should.  If my faith is or my belief in the Supreme Architect is strong, then it does not matter if Mr. Gray the alien, or Mr. Grey my next-door neighbor tells me something contrary? Who is to say what the extraterrestrials are stating is the truth?  Just because an extraterrestrial race is technologically superior does not mean that they are ethically or morally superior.  It also could also mean that for some reason, the Great Architect has decided not to make itself known to them.



As we finish our thought experiment, let us assume that this extraterrestrial race that has made contact with us does believe in a supreme being, religious dogma and they have a volume of sacred law. However, their religion is completely foreign to humanity. Let us suppose that being a technologically advanced civilization, they have been observing humanity, our beliefs, our social structures, our governments, and our technological advances. Let us also suppose, for the sake of argument, that they have knowledge of Freemasonry through this awareness. Let us suppose that at least one of them might be interested enough in Freemasonry to petition a lodge for membership.  Let me suggest that we do not understand much about our new extraterrestrial visitors. We do not know much about their history, their customs, or their society in general. If the individual entity in question has a belief in a supreme being, is of lawful age, and joins of their own free will and accord, and they prove themselves to be of good repute, would you allow them to join your lodge?  

I am interested in your answers to that last question.  Please comment below, email me or comment on social media.  If you are interested in the UAP subject or similar high strangeness, I will shamelessly plug a project I do on the side with the other editor of The Midnight Freemasons blog and host of the Whence Came You podcast, Robert Johnson, called Beyond the 4th Veil.  Robert and I discuss our encounters with UAP's in the first episode. The link to our YouTube channel is below:


~DAL

WB Darin A. Lahners is our co-managing Editor.  He is a Past 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 darin.lahners@gmail.com.