The Lodge on a Hill

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM


While visiting Alaska I had planned on checking out the various Masonic temples in the cities we visited across the state.  We had a very full schedule planned for the 10 days we planned to be in the state so I wouldn’t be able to explore Alaskan Freemasonry as much as I would have like to or to the extent it deserves to be featured.


On our first day we left Anchorage for the coastal town of Seward. The town’s economy is primarily based on tourism and fishing.  There are also a few museums and a historical downtown with plenty of shopping and restaurants.  It is easy to fall in love with the laid-back atmosphere of the city.


As we were checking into our hotel I happened to look to my right as I was removing the luggage from our car.  Just a few blocks down was this beautiful chapel sitting on a hill, behind it was a mountain and some tall, lush trees.  It was like a picture postcard brought to life.  After admiring the scene for a few seconds.  Then, I went about removing the luggage.  


Each time I walked out of our acclimations this little chapel caught my eye.  I decided before I left Seward, I would have to get a closer look at this beauty.  I snapped a photo, trying to capture the beauty of this scene with just my meager smartphone but the results were good but paled in comparison to actually being there.


Finally, one afternoon I had a bit of free time and decided I would use my leisure time to find the Masonic lodge building in Seward.  As a reference, I checked the Grand Lodge of Alaska’s website and I seen Seward Lodge #6 doesn’t actually have its own Masonic temple.  They meet in a church building.  The lodge meets two Saturdays each month at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Seward.  After consulting Google maps, I find that St.  Peter’s is the cute little chapel on the hill!


Seward lodge Was chartered in 1916 by the Grand Lodge of Washington #219.  In 1981 at the formation of the Grand Lodge of Alaska, Seward assumed the number #6 under the authority of the newly formed Grand Lodge.  


Seward lodge met in several places during its lifetime in this fishing village.  From 1916-1921 the lodge shared a lodge room with the local Oddfellows lodge on the third floor of the local hotel.  In 1921 they moved to the second floor of an office building until the 1960s when they built a building of their own.  I couldn’t find documentation on the web which explained when and why they moved from their building and began meeting in the church.  


St. Peter's Episcopal Church, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 106.  In 1908 the church was completed.  In 1925 a Dutch Artist Jan Van Emple pained a reredos of Christ's Resurrection which according to the church’s website says “The $650 cost was raised by popular subscription. This unique work depicts the Ascension as well as the Resurrection of our Lord. The empty tomb is shown against the background of Resurrection Bay (In Seward). Instead of apostles, the painting includes people of Alaska--Indian, Eskimo, trapper, prospector (a self-portrait of Van Emple), and homesteader, underscoring the Church's teaching to "preach peace to them that are far off and to them that are nigh." The angels on either side of the Lord are portraits of Van Emple's two sisters.”



I wish I would have had the opportunity to see the interior of the building in person or visit the brethren of Seward Lodge.  I hope someday soon I will be able to revisit and spread cement with the brethren of the lodge.  


I’m sure the members of the lodge are proud of their lodge’s unique history and the beautiful building they are fortunate enough to meet in.  I am also sure they feel lucky to reside in such a quiet, beautiful little seaside village on America’s last frontier.  


~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.

Ritual Without Reverence Is Meaningless

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Mark St. Cyr


Since my invitation from Bro. Johnson earlier this year to contribute a short series of essays here at the Midnight  Freemasons, discussing a succinct topic and application possibilities via my past business acumen, I had wondered if I  should write anything further. After all, I continually pondered,  “Just who am I, from a Masonic perspective, to speak to the  Craft about the Craft?”  


Although the Craft is full of Masons that know the finest details of how to deliver Ritual and more. Personally, like I’m guessing many others, when I return to Lodge my rustiness will be as much on full display as that seen on cars within a junkyard.  

I know, you know, precisely what I’m addressing. 


Many will be fearful if, or more like when, those in the “whispering section” shake their heads in disbelief, if not outright disgust,  that anyone would allow themselves to let the “basics” appear so sloppily applied, if not, forgotten entirely. 


And it is here I’m going to make a statement that might skip that,  more than likely will send a few into the gnashing of teeth.  However, that’s precisely what I’m paid to do when I speak to an audience of businesspeople whose combined sales figures rival most countries GDP. So, this really isn’t something new for me. 


This point is not a slyly slid, self-serving detail. There’s a reason for it as I’ll explain.  In what I know is a broad brush, I’m going to make a factual statement via my own observance: Everyone tries and does the “What” part of Ritual i.e., Do this first, that second, stand here,  walk here, recite this, and so forth. We have “Degree teams” to show the excellence of delivery, we award for ‘Best In Show” type categories. The list goes on and on.  


There’s a good reason for it, and I’m not denigrating any part of it. So, do not misconstrue my argument. What I am speaking directly to, and is of my own opinion, no one else, is that all of it, yes, all of it is meaningless without reverence to:


The WHY we do it. The reason why the fraternity is struggling is because it has lost  the meaning of: “Why.”  


It is now, to the extent of all else, laser-focused on getting more  and more Masons proficient into the “What” aspect of Ritual,  rather, than addressing the ever-present silent screaming  question of “Why?” Masons recite lectures verbatim with no prompting, word for word, from pure memory. A feat that is worthy of praise and accolades.  Personally, I was floored during my own EA degree when it was delivered to me.  However, with that said, I have had that “silent screaming question” reverberating in my head before joining the Craft. It actually was the driving force that made me “Knock…” 


I thought I would hear, read, be lectured, ____________(fill in your own here) with precisely that as I went to meeting after meeting,  visited other Lodges, attended symposiums put on by governing bodies et cetera. 

Hint: The silence on this topic (e.g., The Why) has been deafening. 


Let me try this to provoke your thinking in asking you a very pointed question that I would like you to answer in the privacy of your own mind, regardless of your rank, jurisdiction or affiliation of a concordant body, which is… 


Who would you be more comfortable to put your faith in as a  Brother, that you can count on when the time demands?: 


One that could recite the longest and most complex lecture verbatim, without prompting, and without a mistake. Yet, cares little for Masonic traditions sept for his involvement in seeking a  higher rank or accolade for the sole purpose of title and awards? 


Or… 


One that can’t remember more than two sentences without needing prompting, shakes with frustration in his inability to be able to perform half as well as he tries to prepare. Yet, has complete and utter reverence into why he’s doing what he’s doing and has such respect for it, he is madder at himself for messing up than a pew full of Past Masters full of scorn for his ineptness? 


I’ll take the latter every time, thank you. And so should you. 


And for those that think I’m off base on all this? I’ll ask you to consider the following… 

Every Mason knows (and will tell you without prompting!) that  George Washington was a Mason, some in great detail. 


What very, very, very few can articulate: Is Why?


Think about it.


~Mark St. Cyr - Freemason

The Gifts of the Magi

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Randy Sanders


Recently as I prepared my meditation space, my mind wandered as it often does.  This time, it was again toward the mixture I like, and that I was getting low on my supplies.  It was time to reorder some resins so I might combine them the way I prefer.  This time I also began thinking of where the supplies might originate, and all the generations using incense before me. We know incense has been used for millennia, whether you find it on temple walls in Egypt and other ancient cultures or simply look in the book of Exodus to note Frankincense called out for use in worship thousands of years ago.

As I meditated that morning, I let thoughts come and go, and recurring was the consideration of the gifts of the Magi as noted in the New Testament book of Matthew.  Out of nowhere, three Magi show up bearing gifts to Mary and Joseph for Jesus.  This is the only major note, but it has a recurring theme in the subject of the gifts.  Gold, we can all agree, would be extremely useful, and while valuable as a commodity, Frankincense was essentially a perfume to most of that time while also used in the temples, and Myrrh was a perfume often used in embalming or around embalming because of the smell.  The usage of incense is repeated in the bible, in other holy books, and passed down through almost every culture.

So who were these Magi?  The only group using that term at the time were the Zoroastrian priests.   The common historical belief is the three visitors of legend weren't actual Oriental Kings, but they were in all likelihood traveling priests of Ahura Mazda.  More on that in some other paper, but the result doesn't change.  The three priests gave their most precious gifts to someone they believed would grow up to be amazing and special.  They gave incense as an equal gift to gold.

But wait, there's more.  Frankincense, like most incense, is sourced from plants.  In this case, Frankincense is the dried resin from the Boswellia plant and was found to have psychoactive antidepressant and antibiotic properties through Johns Hopkins and other university studies.  Even if Myrrh was only considered in funeral rites, and the symbolism of that alone is staggering, Myrrh was known to have other properties as well. The Magi/Priests gave Jesus the gift of two medicinal plants also used in meditation.  I smiled and continued my own morning meditation exercises knowing the secrets weren't lost.  Oh, and if you want my preferred blend, come see me.  I'm happy to tell you in person, and I look forward to our discussions afterward.

~RS

Bro. Randy and his wife Elyana live near St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Randy earned a Bachelors's Degree in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry, and he works in Telecom IT management. He volunteers as a professional and personal mentor, NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer, and enjoys competitive tactical pistol, rifle, and shotgun. He has 30 plus years teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and healing arts. Randy served as a Logistics Section Chief on two different United States federal Disaster Medical Assistance Teams over a 12-year span. Randy's Masonic bio includes past Lodge Education Officer for two Symbolic Lodges, Founder of the Wentzville Lodge Book Club, member of the Grand Lodge of Missouri Education Committee, Sovereign Master of the E. F. Coonrod AMD Council No. 493, Co-Librarian of the Scottish Rite Valley of St. Louis, Clerk for the Academy of Reflection through the Valley of Guthrie, and a Facilitator for the Masonic Legacy Society. Randy is a founding administrator for Refracted Light, a full contributor to Midnight Freemasons, and an international presenter on esoteric topics. Randy hosts an ongoing weekly Masonic virtual Happy Hour on Friday evenings. Randy is an accomplished home chef, a certified barbecue judge, raises Great Pyrenees dogs, and enjoys travel and philosophy.

Big John: Freemason or Not?

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
Gregory J. Knott 33° 

Fellow Midnight Freemason Darin Lahners and I were returning from a road trip when we decided to pull off the interstate to visit Metropolis in deep southern Illinois.   If you are a fan of DC Comics, you might recognize Metropolis as the home to Superman.  Superman dutifully watches over downtown Metropolis in front of the Massac County Courthouse and will on a moment's notice leap into action to save the day. 


As Darin and I were traversing our way to Superman, lo and behold we see another super life-sized statue of “Big John”.   Big John stands on east Fifth street in Metropolis in front of the Big John Grocery Store. Big John was the creation of the store owner back in the 1960s and is also very popular with tourists.

As Big John stands watch, he is carrying a bag of groceries, waving to everyone who passes by, and he always has a big smile on his face.  He is dressed in a red polo shirt with brown khaki pants and has on a ….wait for it…... AN APRON!  Now, being a Freemason, I immediately wondered if Big John was a Freemason or not.

How can we determine if Big John is a Freemason?  My first indicator is the huge smile that Big John has on his face.   He appears to be a pleasant individual who enjoys working and helping others.    As a Freemason, our disposition towards others is important as others form an impression of who we are and what we do 

Big John also is waving to passersby which creates an inviting and welcoming atmosphere.   Does your lodge, chapter, etc, create a warm and welcoming atmosphere that brothers want to return to?   Are you actively engaging new brothers in helping them get acclimated to the lodge, helping them understand what happens within the lodge, and encouraging them to come back?  Are you a mentor to others and assisting them to grow?

Carrying a bag of groceries shows me that Big John is proud of his work.   He appears to have his 24-inch gauge well situated with 8 hours for his usual vocation and probably utilizes the other 16 hours in helping others, learning and resting, and refreshing himself.   How do you utilize your 24-inch gauge?   Are you effectively managing your time and putting forth your best efforts in your career, to your family, and community?  Are you taking time for yourself and caring for your health and mental well-being?

Finally, I notice that the apron Big John is wearing is in perfect condition and unspotted to the world.   As Freemasons, it is our duty and obligation to keep our aprons pristine and unspotted for the world.   Not only our physical apron but keep our daily lives unspotted as we seek to do our best for others, contribute positively to our communities, and further our own personal growth through continued learning and engagement with others.

Big John, Freemason or Not?   My conclusion is yes, Big John is a Freemason.  

~GJK

Gregory J. Knott, 33° 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 gknott63@gmail.com

Brother Richard Dreyfuss Speaking This Friday

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson




In 2011 The Grand Lodge of Washington D.C. took Mr Richard Dreyfuss and made him a Freemason. He then went on to become a 32˚ degree Brother as well. Ten years before this, a film was produced called, Mr. Dreyfuss goes to Washington. The film is a an exploration of the US Capital and its monuments. The film teaches us about our nation and our founders--our values. Among these values is civics.

Brother Dreyfuss has always believed in the idea of Civics and what it means to be an American. In 2008, the Richard Dreyfus Civics Initiative was created. His unique perspectives tend to inspire. You can catch a ted talk about bringing civic education back to the classroom here.

Civics and Freemasonry go hand in hand. Civics is not politics, but rather, for Freemasons, it might relate  those things you agree to when becoming a Freemason. It is your (civic) duty to conform and to stand up for those things that we're called to do--to be an informed citizen. Not much is taught in the way of civics in today's learning environments. This makes it doubly important that Freemasonry make an impact on our communities and our spheres of influence.

The only reason I have for this post today, is to let you know that Brother Dreyfuss is going to be joining a webinar where he is interviewed by several well known Freemasons that you all know. And this will be happening this Friday at 6:00 P.M. Central. We've got space for 500 and the overflow will go to the Valley of Washington D.C. Scottish Rite's Facebook feed.

The event is free and I hope you can join us.

Register by visiting www.tinyurl.com/aasrdreyfuss

~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. He is the current V:. Sovereign Grand Inspector for AMD in IL. 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.

Moral Courage in the Lodge Room

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners


This past weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Kentucky with Senior Midnight Freemason contributor, Greg Knott.  Greg has a home right off of Lake Barkley.  Saturday while trying to decide what to do, I asked Greg if he had ever been to the Patton Museum of Armor at Fort Knox.  Greg had not, and after deciding that it wasn't too far away; we took off for that destination. The Patton Museum has been rebranded as the "Patton Museum of Leadership".  Upon entering the museum, the visitor sees several screens projecting qualities of leadership.  It should come as no surprise that Character was one of the very first screens. 

The quote displayed on the screen, by George S. Patton Jr; "Moral Courage is the most valuable and usually the most absent characteristic in men" really struck me.    Let me define what Moral Courage is.  I know Wikipedia isn't the greatest of sources, but it says that: "Moral Courage is the courage to take action for moral reasons despite the risk of adverse consequences.  Courage is required to take action when one has doubts or fears about the consequences.  Moral courage, therefore, involves deliberation or careful thought".   

Another word for deliberation or careful thought is Contemplation. Contemplation works on two levels for me personally:  
1. It is the act of thinking profoundly about something.
2. It is the act of having an inner vision into oneself that transcends the intellect, entering a state of mystical awareness of God's being (however you define "God") through various practices like prayer/meditation.  
I'm sure I've oversimplified the definition, but as I said, this is my definition of my personal contemplative practices. 

This being said, the majority of our society and Fraternity seems to be lacking both Moral Courage and the ability to contemplate on both levels.  I am the first to admit that I am among those lacking Moral Courage.  Let me explain.  I have for far too long seen the polarizing influence of the profane world invade the sacred space that I call my Masonic Lodge(s). I have endured my brethren talking about things that we know to cause disharmony in a lodge (politics and religion) building, in a lodge room, and sometimes during the meeting itself.  My personal failing is that I have lacked the Moral Courage to say anything.  I have used the personal mantra of the Duties of a Senior Warden as an excuse for my personal cowardice. "Harmony being the strength and support of all institutions, especially ours."  I say nothing because I don't want to cause issues with my brethren.  I realized in reading the quote from Patton this weekend, that I am wrong. 

But what about the idea of whispering wise counsel?  Wise counsel works when it's another brother.  Wise counsel doesn't work when it's a majority of your lodge members.  What needs to be said, is that to paraphrase the song lyrics by Twisted Sister: "I'm not gonna take it anymore".  What I need to communicate is that the lodge is where we do contemplative work as defined by both of the above, and that should be our business. If we can't leave the outside world behind when we enter the building, then why are we here?   Are we really becoming better men by regurgitating everything that we are hearing in the media or reading on social media to our brethren in a lodge building?

The goal of our lodges should be to practice contemplation.  Masonic Education should have the goal of improving either our critical thinking skills (definition 1) or how we view our relationship with the divine (definition 2).  Something that is done in some jurisdictions is that at the close of a meeting, the brethren come out on the floor and they form a circle around the altar, which is to illustrate the universality of the memberships of all being on the level in the lodge and the eyes of God, but also to focus the Supreme Blessing upon the brethren.  Some jurisdictions have ritual to accompany this.   However, something as simple as this is a contemplative practice that can be done prior to closing in those jurisdictions that don't already have it as a moment of unity and silence.  

Ultimately, we need to take back the sanctity of our lodges.   We need to have the moral courage to fight back against the influences of the profane world.  We need to engage in contemplative work so that we can help each other use the tools of Freemasonry in our own lives.   The tools that should be allowing us to display moral courage in our own lives.  Because if we start showing that we're Freemasons, and living according to the values that we're taught, and displaying moral courage in the profane world, then we can be a force for good.  Let's put in the contemplative work to make that happen. 

~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.  

I Was Second

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, 33°, FMLR

Anticipation consumed me as I sat in the large dining area with my father. A voice from a man I did not know came out of the hallway to my right and bellowed, "It's time, let's go." The room, filled with about 40 others, began to clear. Each got up, including Dad, and stood in line in front of a logbook on a counter, and signed in. Within minutes there were only four of us left in that empty room. 


I sat in eerie silence with two other guys I didn't know at the long table where I had eaten breakfast. The fourth guy in the room was, we learned, the Tyler. He introduced himself. He joked, told us stories, and tried to put us at ease. I was not at ease. It wasn't because I was concerned about what I was going to go through, but because I wanted to get right to it. Time drug. In fact, it seemed to stop altogether. What were they doing in that Lodge room that was taking so long?


Finally, a guy stuck his head around the corner to my left and called out, "Randy!" 


Rats. I wasn't going to be first. He took Randy away. More joking with the Tyler. More waiting. Eternity came and went. Finally, the same guy appeared at the corner to my left. I said a small prayer: "Make him say my name. Please make him say my name…" 


"Steve." 


Prayer answered, I leaped up and followed him into a place that was more a closet than a room. The three guys in there helped me put on a pair of… well… pajamas. They took a gold cross I wore on a chain around my neck, replaced it with a cord of some sort, slipped a sandal on me, and then in their haste apparently forgot to put on the other one. After they blindfolded me, the main guy, followed by the other two, escorted me to a set of double doors, knocked, and announced my presence. After a small wait, I was, for the first time in my life, in an open Masonic Lodge room.


I went through the degree, trying to soak it all in. I learned the lack of a second sandal was not a mistake. I learned why they took the gold chain from me. But it was like drinking from a fire hose. Other things I had experienced… well… I had questions. 


They took me back out of the Lodge room, had me put on my street clothes, took me back in and we wrapped things up. It was amazing that the degree that seemed to take so long while I was waiting had passed in a flash. Parts of the degree swirled through my head as I tried to remember everything I had been through.


Then, suddenly, as they sat me on the sidelines, I realized there would be another degree for the poor guy who was still waiting outside, and I would get to see it. I was elated they had called me second, so I could immediately review what I had seen. 


There was a knock at the door I had recently passed through. The same three guys walked in with the third candidate. I focused my attention. I hung on every word, every motion, every symbolic allusion. I watched transfixed with my Brothers… my BROTHERS… and tried to absorb it like a dry sponge in water. My Masonic education had begun.


~SLH

Bro. Steve Harrison, 33°  is Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is also a Fellow and Past Master of the Missouri Lodge of Research. Among his other Masonic memberships is the St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite bodies, and Moila Shrine. He is also a member and Past Dean of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. Brother Harrison is a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasons blog as well as several other Masonic publications. Brother Steve was Editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine for a decade and is a regular contributor to the Whence Came You podcast. Born in Indiana, he has a Master's Degree from Indiana University and is retired from a 35-year career in information technology. Steve and his wife Carolyn reside in northwest Missouri. He is the author of dozens of magazine articles and three books: Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, Freemasons — Tales From the Craft and Freemasons at Oak Island.

Let There Be Light!!!!

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners


A recent road trip to Salt Lake City, Utah with my girlfriend, Lisa, and youngest son, Spencer, took us from east-central Illinois to several cities, National Parks, and National Monuments on the way.  In order to get to Craters of the Moon National Monument, one would find themselves traveling through Arco, Idaho.  Arco's claim to fame is that it is the first city in the world to be powered by Atomic power.  Arco was powered briefly (for about 1 hour) by the Experimental Breeder Reactor (EBR-1) at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commissions National Reactor Testing Station, about 20 miles from Arco.  

Home of Arco Lodge #48

The author in front of the door to the entrance to the Lodge 

As luck would have it, right across from the City of Arco City Office, there stood a Masonic Temple, which is (assuming my research is correct) is home to Arco Lodge #48 of the Grand Lodge of Idaho, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, which would give it by default the distinction of being the very first Masonic Temple powered by Atomic power.  I thought that this was a very important and historic fact given our ritual's connection to light. 

This being said, I find it fascinating that one of the symbols that we are taught about in the First Degree, the point within the circle or the circumpunct, bears a striking resemblance to a Hydrogen atom.  Illinois ritual states:
"Lodges in ancient times were dedicated to King Solomon, he being our first Most Excellent Grand Master; in modern times to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist - two eminent Christian patrons of Freemasonry; and since their time there has been represented, in every regular and well furnished lodge, a certain point within a circle, embordered by two perpendicular parallel lines, representing St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist.  On top of the circle rests the book of Holy Scriptures; the point represents an individual brother, the circle the boundary line of his duty. In going round this circle we necessarily touch on the two parallel lines, as well as on the book of Holy Scriptures; and while a Mason keeps himself circumscribed within their precepts, it is impossible that he should materially err."



The idea of keeping one's self within due bounds is personally a lesson that I consider to be a building block of the ideals of Freemasonry.  I look to that image above and it reminds me to contemplate keeping myself grounded.  As I look at it, I see not only myself and the length of my cable-tow but myself and my place in the world as well as my place in the macrocosm.  Should it be any surprise to us as Freemasons, that in following the hermetic principle of: "As above, So below", that our bodies should also be made up of Hydrogen on the microcosmic level?  Hydrogen is one of the elements that is a building block of life. 

Hydrogen is also electrically neutral.  Is the circumpunct not trying to keep us as Freemasons neutral (grounded) by reminding us to keep ourselves within those due bounds?  I refuse to believe that this is by accident.  As such, I believe that the Great Architect on his trestle board designed the Hydrogen atom as such to be not only one of the building blocks of life but also to teach us a fundamental lesson about how to act as Freemasons.  That is pretty powerful (pun intended) when you think about it.

~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.  

Be Like Joe

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Randy Sanders


A good friend and Brother Joe Stewart just handed over the reins for the second lodge in two consecutive years to other strong leaders, and I want to spend a few moments to call out the achievement and scale. Worshipful Brother Joe Stewart was installed as Master of Missouri’s Naphtali Lodge #25 in 2019 while installed as Senior Warden of Wentzville Lodge #46. Just after the 2020 Naphtali installation, Worshipful Brother Joe was installed as Master of Wentzville Lodge #46 and served a very successful year in each Lodge. You read that correctly: two consecutive terms leading the craft as Master in each of two different lodges. All the while he was active in DeMolay and Rainbow youth organizations at Wentzville, active in Knights of St. Andrew, Valley of St. Louis AASR, Chapter, Council, AMD, and active within his family.

He deserves some time to cool down, and I hope he takes it. However, I know Brother Joe as one of my best friends, and I know his dedication to the craft. I admire his focus and dedication to making the most of his 24-inch gauge. It will be difficult for him to sit on the sidelines, and I know it’s only a matter of time before the offers come pouring in for him to assist here, take the helm there, and be active in whatever is next on his horizon.

There are some lessons we can learn from Worshipful Brother Joe, and observing his work I can only hope to pass these lessons along. Worshipful Brother Joe understands what it means to do what you can and that much of what happens is beyond your control. Sometimes that is frustrating, but putting your best foot forward still accomplishes goals. Maybe the goal wasn’t exactly what was planned, but success follows accomplishment. That’s my paraphrasing, but WB Joe embodies the spirit of getting things accomplished. He won the very first Craftsman Of The Year award our lodge decided to give annually.

Approach life with humor. WB Joe is quick with humor, makes the most of situations, and on the very few times I’ve ever seen him down, he had already started the process of climbing out of the hole of darkness. He had already refocused on the light and how to get back to making the best of the situation. Humor is an attitude, how it applies to you will be different in every situation. My lesson from my Brother Joe is to find the way to levity, even if only a short distraction, in order to keep everything in perspective.

Live within the chaos. We all have chaos in our lives, and WB Joe’s lesson here is understanding that everything has chaos, find a means of structure, and build on it. Maybe the lodge reconstruction isn’t exactly the most organized with tools and materials scattered, but a quick break, a good look around, and tracking down where that hammer went can go a long way toward creating your own mental structure of how that project is progressing. I witnessed Bro. Joe take charge through the chaos many times.

Celebrate your successes. It seems to me to be a natural, but many people don’t stop to celebrate the successes no matter how small the success, nor how small the celebration might be. Worshipful Brother Joe can take a 5-minute breather and celebrate the progress made, and it inspires others around to get more done.

We can all take a moment, as leaders in this fraternity, to understand the above. Many of us already do much of the same in our own ways, and many of us, me included, can benefit from a bit of work toward our attitude and how we approach projects, the lodge, the brethren, and our lives. Be like Joe.

~RS

Bro. Randy and his wife Elyana live near St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Randy earned a Bachelors's Degree in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry, and he works in Telecom IT management. He volunteers as a professional and personal mentor, NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer, and enjoys competitive tactical pistol, rifle, and shotgun. He has 30 plus years teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and healing arts. Randy served as a Logistics Section Chief on two different United States federal Disaster Medical Assistance Teams over a 12-year span. Randy's Masonic bio includes past Lodge Education Officer for two Symbolic Lodges, Founder of the Wentzville Lodge Book Club, member of the Grand Lodge of Missouri Education Committee, Sovereign Master of the E. F. Coonrod AMD Council No. 493, Co-Librarian of the Scottish Rite Valley of St. Louis, Clerk for the Academy of Reflection through the Valley of Guthrie, and a Facilitator for the Masonic Legacy Society. Randy is a founding administrator for Refracted Light, a full contributor to Midnight Freemasons, and an international presenter on esoteric topics. Randy hosts an ongoing weekly Masonic virtual Happy Hour on Friday evenings. Randy is an accomplished home chef, a certified barbecue judge, raises Great Pyrenees dogs, and enjoys travel and philosophy.

Dear Prudence…

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Randy Sanders


I worked recently to clean up an older presentation of mine, and the cardinal virtue of Prudence kept coming to mind. In the presentation, I review how contemplative practice gives us time to deeply consider decisions, to maybe bounce an idea around inside your own head. This in itself is an example of Prudence.  I focused on prudent practicality as an example, more specifically posing the desire of wanting to build a bridge. The prudent considerations are, do I have resources? Do I have time to complete it? 

There's more to Prudence than just the practical example, and I missed that part in my considerations. The presentation doesn't need to deep dive into a sub-lecture in Prudence, but I needed to consider this more carefully. With some keyword searches and some reading, I stumbled across an article on Prudence that seemed to reflect and even summarize my thoughts.

"The word 'prudence' is used in several ways in contemporary English, and its different philosophical senses to some extent reflect that variety. Traditionally, Prudence is the ability to make morally discerning choices in general; but the term is also used to denote a habit of cautiousness in practical affairs; most recently, attempts have also been made to identify Prudence with practical rationality, perhaps even with the pursuit of the agent's own interests, without any specifically moral implications." 1

Morally discerning? Cautiousness in practical affairs? Practical rationality? Pursuit of interests without moral implications? What was this crazy talk?

However, I believe this author might be on to something, and that something might help Masons like me looking into the Cardinal and Theological Virtues. Practicality, morality, and cautiousness don't just pop out of thin air. We must work toward sharpening skills here, or in other words, we have been given working tools to assist us in bettering ourselves. 

Bettering our skillset with regard to Prudence comes down to understanding three things about our own behavior, and this applies to each of the virtues. We have to gather knowledge. This can be an instantaneous snapshot from childhood warnings to look both ways before crossing streets, or it can be walking into a building and scanning for threat assessment – is there anyone here who potentially poses a threat/what is that threat? We apply our own acquired knowledge, hopefully as wisdom, toward this assessment of any given situation. We now make a decision based on our best judgment, and then we act in the best manner we can achieve—a little more on that.

For you folks that studied risk, we gather information, and then we make a decision based on what we know. In other words, we create a risk analysis, we make a decision based on that risk analysis, and we take the risk path that best suits our situation at that time. Is that always the right choice? I'm glad you asked. No, it isn't always the right choice. However, it can be the best choice we have at the time, based on what we know and observe. We can make the choice that we know is morally right, and still, someone possibly gets hurt, but if we work with our working tools, we can sleep at night knowing we put our best effort toward our actions. Our own moral compass sits solidly on Prudence. 

~RS

1. Hughes, G.(1998). Prudence. In The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Taylor and Francis. Retrieved 28 Aug. 2021, fromhttps://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/prudence/v-1. doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L078-1

Bro. Randy and his wife Elyana live near St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Randy earned a Bachelors's Degree in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry, and he works in Telecom IT management. He volunteers as a professional and personal mentor, NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer, and enjoys competitive tactical pistol, rifle, and shotgun. He has 30 plus years teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and healing arts. Randy served as a Logistics Section Chief on two different United States federal Disaster Medical Assistance Teams over a 12-year span. Randy's Masonic bio includes past Lodge Education Officer for two Symbolic Lodges, Founder of the Wentzville Lodge Book Club, member of the Grand Lodge of Missouri Education Committee, Sovereign Master of the E. F. Coonrod AMD Council No. 493, Co-Librarian of the Scottish Rite Valley of St. Louis, Clerk for the Academy of Reflection through the Valley of Guthrie, and a Facilitator for the Masonic Legacy Society. Randy is a founding administrator for Refracted Light, a full contributor to Midnight Freemasons, and an international presenter on esoteric topics. Randy hosts an ongoing weekly Masonic virtual Happy Hour on Friday evenings. Randy is an accomplished home chef, a certified barbecue judge, raises Great Pyrenees dogs, and enjoys travel and philosophy.

Freemasonry, Notwithstanding, Has Still Survived!

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Chris Hathaway


The lessons in our ritual are the backbone of the fraternity. I should say, applying the lessons learned in our ritual is the backbone of fraternity. True brotherhood flourishes when members internalize and follow through with the lessons and charges given to them. One of my favorite pieces of ritual comes from the Middle Chamber lecture in the 2nd Degree from the Grand Lodge of Illinois AF&AM.

It's ritual that is deeply important to me and my mission in this fraternity; ensuring its longevity so that future generations can enjoy and benefit from the wisdom of the craft. This particular piece is inspiring because it shows that no matter how tumultuous the world may seem, Freemasonry will survive. It is not about the amount of money, members, or buildings we have on our balance sheet. It is about the attentive ear, the instructive tongue, and the faithful breast. Improve those three things in the guys that are active in your lodge, and you will ensure a smooth transfer of the fraternity to the next generation.

The Middle Chamber is also deeply reflective, scientific, and holy. It teaches us to reflect on the world around us, enjoy its vastness, and be mesmerized by the unknown. It teaches us to appreciate the science of geometry and all of the allegory contained within. The ritual shows us equality by explaining that we are all governed by the same laws of nature regardless of our rank, tenure, or ability.

Freemasonry is not in decline. Timeless, ancient lessons do not go out of style. Popularity does not measure success. We all know this, but we still try to measure our own worthiness based on membership numbers. Masons throughout history have carried on the fraternity in far more desperate times.

We have carried it through civil wars, world wars, anti-masonic time periods, outright bans by governments and religions, and times with little money or people. In the Scottish Rite, NMJ, John James Joseph Gourgas, 33° kept the Rite alive single-handedly with just a vision and a copy of the ritual for many years. He knew what he had was important, and he persevered until the right group of guys were up for the challenge.

You have taken the obligation; you have been recorded in the Middle Chamber. It is your choice how you travel this life journey, but I can assure you that you and I will pass to the Grand Lodge above before Freemasonry disappears from the world.

What does the Middle Chamber mean to you?

~CH

WB Christopher J. Hathaway was raised in Catlin Masonic Lodge #285 and is a plural member of Normal Masonic Lodge #673 as well as Bloomington Lodge #43, where he is a Past Master. 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. He is the Oriental Guide in the Divan for the Mohammed Shiners and the 1st Vice President of the Bloomington Shrine Club. Other appendant bodies include the Gao Grotto 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.