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President's Message, January 2022

By Jay Hochberg, FMS
President of The Masonic Society

Brethren, this is my final President’s Message to you. I wish I had come to this job at a different time, not only to avoid the problems of the pandemic, but actually at another stage of life when I might have been better able to perform. Or maybe that “best time” is not an objective reality. As we learn repeatedly in Freemasonry, we are given time, but what we do with it is what makes a life. Now I feel even worse. (Just between you and me, Bro. Oscar, our incoming President, tackles the Twelve Labors of Hercules every couple of hours, but you never see so much as his bowtie askew. Amazing.) Freemasonry teaches how time is a subjective reality. We are handed the Working Tool symbolic of how best to divide the day; later we are admonished to keep an eye on the Hourglass. I suppose we can be flexible in precisely how to interpret the Twenty-Four-Inch Gauge in practical daily application, but there’s no negotiating with that Hourglass. That’s as objective a reality as they come.

My journey with the Masonic Society is not finished. I simply am stepping outside the leadership team to join the Past Presidents—a tiny club of Masonic thought leaders whose limitless sagacity isn’t tapped nearly enough. Having been named to the Board of Directors on Day One in 2008, it will be strange to no longer be around full time. One of the obvious strengths of the Masonic Society is in how its leadership, both Directors and Officers, is chosen from various stations and places in the fraternity. Our Past Presidents are brethren I admire greatly: Roger VanGorden, Michael Poll, the late Bo Cline, Jim Dillman, Ken Davis, and Patrick Craddock.

And there’s a stellar crew moving up. My sincerest thanks to First Vice President Oscar Alleyne and Second Vice President Greg Knott. The coming four years for the Masonic Society will be a golden age simply for having these fine Masons at the helm. Also to Mike Poll and John Bridegroom, who create the most accessible and best looking magazine in the English-speaking Masonic world. I know I’ve driven you both crazy occasionally. I’m sorry. I have to invoke the “bygones clause” of Masonic brotherhood. (I think it’s one of the Furthermores in one of the obligations.) And Nathan Brindle? Our Secretary-Treasurer extraordinaire? I’m not sure we’d even still exist if not for his steady hand at headquarters. There was this one time he was on the phone teaching the IRS how to do its job while simultaneously applying the molten red wax to the membership parchments. Well, that’s the legend, anyway.

To the A-Team that is our current and recent Directors: John Bizzack, John Bridegroom, Eric Diamond, Reed Fanning, Gregg Hall, Chris Hodapp, (Chris, I don’t have words. God bless ya.) Mark Robbins, and Aaron Shoemaker: Thank you for your energy and input in steering the Masonic Society. I hope each of you advances up the officer line.

Many have come and gone through our team during these fourteen years. I do not intend to neglect anyone, but I must salute: Ron Blaisdell, Andrew Hammer, Jim Hogg, Mark Tabbert, and Randy Williams.

Cheers to others on the editorial team, past and present: Tyler Anderson, Christian Christensen, Mike Moran, Chris Rodkey, and Shawn Eyer. Hope I didn’t miss anyone.

But most especially, I thank all of you members of the Masonic Society. Of course without you there would be no Masonic Society. When I took office, we had 775 members, and I had hopes of rebuilding that number to more than 1,300, which was how many we had several years ago. I put the arm on many old friends and unfamiliar brethren alike in asking that they rejoin us. Many did, but not the hundreds I had daydreamed about. That only makes me even more grateful for all of you who support what we do here. When it comes to lodge, I am a small numbers guy, but for a group like the Masonic Society, a big membership translates directly into more action, like giving membership jewels to everybody to mark our fifth anniversary, or hosting that stunning weekend of discussions and festivities four years ago in Kentucky. We have plans in the files to support scholars who would research subjects in Freemasonry and travel to lodges presenting their papers, and if we succeed in rebuilding our membership we will have the funds to do that and more. Please tell your lodge brethren about us.

I don’t think I’ll attend Masonic Week beyond next month. My first was 2002, and I think twenty years is an apt time to exit quietly and allow someone new to have that seat in the audience, so I might not see some of you again. My main Masonic activities henceforth will concern my two research lodges. Please feel free to check my website—The Magpie Mason—if you’re ever curious about my whereabouts. I wish you all the best in life. Don’t ignore the Hourglass.