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Date registered: 2 December 2016

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  1. Secretary’s Minute: A tale of two elevators — 7 March 2019
  2. Editor’s Corner, JTMS Issue 44 (Spring 2019): The Art of Failure — 6 March 2019
  3. Issue 41 Erratum — 22 August 2018
  4. Secretary’s Minute — 2 July 2018
  5. Freemason’s Tour: Scotland and England — 21 March 2018

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Paul Bessel’s Website Up and Running Again

By Chris Hodapp, Editor Emeritus, The Journal of The Masonic Society

After more than two months of disappearance, Paul M. Bessel’s enormous website at www.bessel.org is once again up and running. Brother Paul’s site contains more than 200 individual pages of research that took him over two decades to compile, including Masonic statistics, lists, maps, and other resources that have been indispensable to other researchers for many, many years. His information regarding Prince Hall recognition alone is one of the most commonly referenced resources of its kind anywhere.

Restoring his site was accomplished with the gracious permission and assistance of Paul, and with the sponsorship and under the auspices of the Masonic Society, especially Nathan Brindle. In fairness, I kind of shoved it on Nathan when I saw the site had vanished around Christmastime, and we plunged ahead without really asking permission of the Society’s Board to do it on their behalf beforehand. Nevertheless, it’s up, it’s fixed, and it’s there to stay now, and the Board thankfully agreed it was the right thing to do.

The current goal has been to just get Paul’s old site back up and restore the thousands of hours of hard and tedious work he had done before. Numerous pages and graphics files were lost suddenly when his hosting company switched servers last year, so those had to be rescued from Wayback Machine archives. Additionally, Paul himself had not updated the site in several years. I’m sure it was a big job requiring constant tending and it undoubtedly became a chore after a while. My reason for wanting to restore the site was to ensure that the 20 or so years of research he had done before not be lost forever. Additionally, hundreds of other websites all over the world, as well as references in numerous books on Freemasonry, and even Wikipedia articles, had links or footnotes that pointed to data contained on his website. I felt it would be disastrous for all of those references to Paul’s information to just vanish into thin air and a 404 error message page.

Thankfully, Paul agreed and was very accommodating in permitting us access to his account and authorization to take over its administration. In return, we left Paul the option to update his site should he have the desire to do so in future. Somewhere down the road, we may tackle attempting to update selected pages – but bear in mind that his site is enormous, and it took him two decades to get it to where it currently stands. To truly go in and update the constantly changing things like grand lodge email or physical mailing addresses and websites, annual statistics, and much, much more, in addition to his numerous other pages that need tweaking, would be a major undertaking. It was his personal devotion that made the site so indispensable over time, and it would take an equally dedicated person or group of researchers to fix it all and keep it up to date again. And finally, I will just also add that Paul constructed the site with software that has been long outdated and unsupported, so it would also require technology changes to fix it properly without breaking anything. (My own websites suffer from the same problem, and I dread wading into it for my comparatively small website, much less one the enormous size of Paul’s.)

Some of this got discussed on the Philalethes Society email list last month when others began to notice the site was gone as well. In the wake of Paul and I explaining what was going on, I began to get private messages with suggestions for changes, or updated information from around the world, especially from folks in jurisdictions whose contact information or web addresses had changed. Please note that the immediate objective has been to preserve Paul’s existing work, and that has been accomplished.  I appreciate the updated information brethren passed along, but I’m afraid it will be a while before anyone gets around to taking a stab at the kind of serious updating the site needs if it is to truly become up to date again. Thanks so much for everyone’s kind offer of assistance, nevertheless.

There are few Masonic websites that are trustworthy, well researched and documented, and truly indispensable for Masonic and academic researchers of the fraternity: Paul’s site; the incredible website of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon that is largely the dedicated work of the inexhaustible Trevor McKeown; the ever growing PhoenixMasonry Masonic Museum and Library site which is the labor of love of David Lettalier; and the MasonicInfo.com Anti-Masonry Points of View website of Ed King. There are certainly others, but these four continue to stand out as massive online storehouses of reliable information any Masonic researcher or casual observer needs to have ready links to at all times.

Finally, take this as a cautionary tale. If you have a lodge, grand lodge, company, or personal website of any size or complexity, and you don’t wish it to vanish into the aether upon your death, incapacity, technical obsolescence, or just plain neglect, take steps to preserve it now before it becomes almost impossible for you or others to retrieve. Paul’s original files were partially on an outdated home computer he was able to access enough to create a DVD copy to send me, but not all of his files were there. His hosting company’s administrator went beyond the call of duty and seriously earned his hosting fee by painstakingly rebuilding the missing parts of the site from Wayback Machine captures for us. Don’t make the same mistake and force others to salvage your website the hard way. Make complete site backups and make sure others have access to your site passwords and account sign-ins somehow if something prevents you in future, for whatever reason.

* * *

This article was originally published on March 5, 2017, on Chris Hodapp’s Freemasonry for Dummies website, and is reproduced here with his kind permission.  Bro. Hodapp retains all rights to his article.  Please contact him directly for republication permission.

Original URL: http://freemasonsfordummies.blogspot.com/2017/03/paul-bessels-website-up-and-running.html

President’s Message, Issue 34: TMS 2016 Annual Conference

President’s Message, Issue #34, The Journal of The Masonic Society

How good and how pleasant it is …
by Kenneth W. Davis, FMS

I’m recently back from one the most interesting and informative Masonic events of my life, the 2016 Annual Conference of The Masonic Society, which took place October 7-9, in beautiful Morgan Hill, California.

2016 Annual Conference Program CoverHonoring the conference theme, “Freemasonry on the Frontier,” speakers took participants on a fascinating historical tour of the expanding North American frontier, from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Kicking off the conference Friday evening was Jefferson H. Jordan, Jr., immediate past grand master of Masons in New Mexico, speaking as Samuel Langhorne Clemens, “Mark Twain.” Clemens’s talk emphasized his Masonic experience and his travels on the Western frontier of the United States.

The first presentation Saturday was by William Miklos, who invited us to participate in “an Imaginary Conversation among the Thirteen Masons of the Continental Convention.” Bill is founding master of the Golden Compasses Research Lodge, past master of the Northern California Research Lodge, and a founding member of TMS.

Following Bill were Moises Gomez, past grand historian of the grand lodge of New Jersey, who spoke about the early traveling lodges of his home state, and Kyle Grafstrom, junior warden of Verity Lodge 59 in Kent, Washington, speaking on “Freemasonry in the Wild West.”

Saturday afternoon began with Adam Kendall, a founding fellow of TMS and editor of The Plumbline, the journal of The Scottish Rite Research Society, who presented “Pilgrimage and Procession: The 1883 Knights Templar Triennial Conclave and the Dream of the American West.”

He was followed by Wayne Sirmon, treasurer of Mobile Lodge 40 and past master of the Texas Lodge of Research, who spoke on “West by Southwest: The Expansion of Frontier Freemasonry from the Old Southwest”—by which he meant, to my surprise, not New Mexico and Arizona, but Alabama. (Who’d have thought?)

The “frontier-themed” presentations ended with a fascinating look at “Freemasonry and Nation-building on the Pacific Coast,” by John L. Cooper III, past grand master of the Masonic Grand Lodge of California. We were especially honored to have John present, as he is currently president of our sister organization, The Philalethes Society.

After Saturday dinner was a special bonus presentation by Moises Gomez, who in addition to his Masonic honors is a twenty-eight-year veteran of the Emergency Service Unit of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. As such, Moe was among the first responders at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He spoke on his experiences at “Ground Zero” and the Masonic values he saw embodied there, and he presented conference participants with a commemorative pin.

9/11 Commemorative PinThe single most important person in making the conference a success was TMS board member Gregg Hall, who coordinated all local arrangements and pitched in with preparing our gourmet meals.

The year 2017 will include two already-scheduled TMS events. The first will be our seventh annual dinner at Masonic Week, February 9-12, at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia. The dinner will take place Friday, February 10, at 6:30 pm, and will feature an after-dinner talk by Mike Poll, past president of TMS and editor of this journal. All Masons, ladies, and guests are welcome!

Our 2017 conference will be held September 7-10, at Embassy Suites in Lexington, Kentucky. The conference, tentatively titled “Celebrating 300 Years of Freemasonry,” is being coordinated by Masonic author and TMS board member John Bizzack and is being cosponsored with Lexington Lodge 1 (chartered in 1788), The Rubicon Masonic Society, The Grand Lodge of Kentucky Education Committee, William O. Ware Lodge of Research, and Ted Adams Lodge of Research.

Besides presentations by nationally known speakers, the conference will include tours of the Kentucky Horse Park and Ashland Estate, the home of famed nineteenth-century Mason Henry Clay, as well as a formal festive board at historic Spindletop Hall.

As a former faculty member at the University of Kentucky, a thirteen-year resident of Lexington, and an official, governor-proclaimed Kentucky Colonel, I know first-hand the beauty of the Bluegrass State and the hospitality of its people. Just as my wife, Bette, and I took advantage of the location of our 2016 conference to make a spectacular trip down the California coast, I hope many of you will take advantage of the equally beautiful and historical setting of the 2017 event.

(An aside: when I lived in Lexington, I was not yet a Mason and did not know John Bizzack. Only recently did we discover that I served on the very grand jury that indicted the criminals whom John and his fellow police offers rounded up in a sting operation. The Masonic world is a small one.)

I look forward to seeing many of you at Masonic Week in Virginia in February and at the TMS Conference in Kentucky in September. Each of them will be a must-go event in this Masonic anniversary year. Be there, and on the square!

Fraternally,

Kenneth W. Davis

New Year, New Look

Well — newer look, anyway 🙂

TMS has just completed a hosting switch, and moved from an old clunky Joomla CMS front end to a nice shiny WordPress front end.  It was less work than I anticipated, but it was less than easy because of the need to move a lot of home-brewed functionality over into WordPress.

While the new site looks a lot like the old site, the move into WordPress has given us more latitude to change look-and-feel, and to add new features, going forward.

In the move, I tried to click everything I could click and ensure that everything worked.  We’re still finishing up a few minor things like contact forms, but everything else should be working.  Should you run across something that throws and error or doesn’t seem to work properly, please feel free to let us know at webmaster – at – themasonicsociety.com .

S&F,

Nathan

Ninth Annual Dinner and Meeting

The Masonic Society - Logo

The Officers and the Board of Directors
cordially invite you to attend

The Ninth Annual Dinner and Meeting
of
The Masonic Society

At Masonic Week 2017
The Hyatt Regency Crystal City at Reagan National Airport
Arlington, Virginia

Friday Evening, February 10, 2017
Gather at 6:00 PM
Dinner at 6:30 PM

Featured Speaker:
WBro. Michael R. Poll
Masonic Author, Publisher, and Bookseller
and Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of The Masonic Society

All Freemasons and Ladies are Welcome!

Please make all reservations through the Masonic Week 2017 Website:

http://yorkrite.org/MasonicWeek

PLEASE NOTE:
The Masonic Society will not have tickets for sale.
All tickets MUST be purchased in advance from the Masonic Week organizers.
Tickets will NOT be available at the door.

RESERVATIONS MUST BE MADE AND CHECKS RECEIVED BY THE MASONIC WEEK STAFF BY FEBRUARY 1, 2017.


Masonic Week Hospitality Suite

The Society will once again sponsor a hospitality suite at Masonic Week 2017. Please check at our membership table for the room number.

President’s Message, Issue 33

President’s Message, Issue #33, The Journal of The Masonic Society

Point to Heaven . . .
by Kenneth W. Davis, FMS

You won’t be surprised to learn that my Masonic e-mail signature block includes the line “President, The Masonic Society.” However, the line before that carries another Masonic title, “Chaplain, Albuquerque Lodge 60 and the New Mexico Lodge of Research.” I value deeply my office in TMS, but I value equally the honor of serving as a chaplain. As chaplain, I try (succeeding only in part, of course) to follow the injunction given me when I was installed (from the monitor of the Grand Lodge of New Mexico):

“Reverand Brother . . . it is your special duty to conduct the devotions of the Lodge, and to present before the throne of Heavenly Grace the spiritual needs of your Brethren. In all your intercourse with your Lodge, it is expected that you will ‘point to Heaven and lead the way.’”

As chaplain, I recite the opening and closing prayers, as well as the prayers within degrees. But I also love—though I am a layman—the occasional opportunities to be “pastoral” for my brothers.

When we elect a new candidate for degrees, and after the secretary has called him, I give the candidate a phone call. I introduce myself, extend my congratulations, and ask him three things.

First, I ask him what Volume of Sacred Law he wishes to take his obligations on. I tell him that no one, at least in the context of blue-lodge Masonry, will ask about his specific religious tradition again. As our twenty-first landmark requires (again in the version within the New Mexican monitor), “that a Book of the Law, a religious code of some kind puporting to be an exemplar of the revealed will of God, shall form an essential part of the furniture of every Lodge.”

I often ask the candidate to check the website of the Grand Lodge of Israel. In that highly contentious country the seal of the Grand Lodge of Israel displays the Jewish Star of David, the Christian Cross, and the Muslim Crescent.

Second, I ask the newly-elected candidate to not read any details of the degree rituals, so he can experience the degrees without foreknowledge and preconceptions.

And third, I tell him about chambers of reflection. Like, I suppose, most North American lodges, the two blue lodges of which I’ve been a member do not have such chambers. So I ask the candidate to find three blocks of time between then and the degree—at least fifteen minutes each—when he can sit alone, in the dark and in silence, and meditate on his past, present, and future, including his eventual death.

(Incidentally, though I don’t have a skull on my personal home “altar,” I do have the polished box, provided by our cremation service, that will one day hold my ashes. That’s a pretty good memento mori for me.)

The most moving event in my service as chaplain happened in June of this year. John Baker, a fifty-year Mason and Albuquerque 60’s marshall and oldest active member, passed away. I had sat next to him in lodge for several years, and had come to rely on his friendship, advice, and occasional prompting.

While John was hospitalized, I had visited him and said a prayer, but a Masonic commitment prevented my attending his funeral. So I was grateful to be invited to his cremation. Three members of the lodge were there, along with John’s son-in-law, an artist.

We gathered around the uncovered cardboard box in which John’s unembalmed body lay. We each said our goodbyes, and I offered prayers. John’s son-in-law, though not a Mason, had painted on wood an abstract image of an all-seeing eye. He laid it on John’s chest, and asked him to personally present it as an offering to God.

With the funeral director, we put the cover on the box, wheeled it into the cremation room, and slid it through the open door of the furnace. The funeral director closed the door, and the other four of us together pushed the green button that started the flames. I had never before felt so powerfully the reality of the words from Ecclesiastes 12:7 recited in the Master Mason degree: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” I’ll tangibly felt John’s spirit making its final exit from his body.

Thanks for letting me honor John by telling that story. Please send me your own “chaplain” stories, or better yet, post them on the TMS member’s forum.


By the way, an excellent source for Masonic prayers, for many occasions, is the pocket-sized Compendium of Masonic Prayers and Graces, by Rev. Neville Barker Cryer, published by Lewis Masonic.


A final note:

This journal’s editor-in-chief, Michael Halleran, who gave us more than four years of excellent work, has resigned. I’m proud to announce that he has been replaced by Michael Poll, whose service begins with this issue. Mike Poll is eminently qualified for the job, and he has gathered an outstanding team: Assistant Editors Mark Robbins, Christopher Rodkey, and Christian Christensen; Art Director John Bridegroom; Advertising Director Jay Hochberg; and Review Editor Tyler Anderson. Please give them your thanks and support!

Fraternally,

Kenneth W. Davis

President’s Message, Issue 32

Important: For new information on the TMS Conference, Scholar, and School, see the tabs above.

By the Exercise of Brotherly Love . . .
by Kenneth W. Davis, FMS

Here in New Mexico, the first-degree lecture lists the “Tenets of a Freemason’s profession” as “Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth”—doubtlessly not a surprise to Masons everywhere.

The lecture continues by defining brotherly love:

By the exericise of Brotherly Love, we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family—the high, the low, the rich, the poor—who, as created by one Almighty Parent, and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support, and protect each other. On this principle, Freemasonry unites men of every country, sect, and opinion; and conciliates true friendship among those who might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance.

In the US, the “perpetual distance” between people of different religious and political tribes seems large. Even in some Masonic lodges, religious and political differences among brothers are causing discord, even hatred. Young brothers are being told, for example, that Freemasonry is for members of only one religious tradition.

How did our Craft get into this situation, and how do we get out? One answer, although certainly not the only answer, may seem puzzling at first. I suggest there may be a correlation between true brotherly love and a deep devotion to our ritual—including lectures like the one I quoted above—and to what it stands for.

Freemasonry is often defined as “a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.” We live in an age filled with signs but almost devoid of symbols. In the sense I am using the word sign—a sense drawn from the science of semiology—signs have single, simple, explicit, surface meanings. An octagonal yellow road sign usually means stop, and nothing else. (Even those who choose to ignore that meaning acknowledge it.) In contrast, symbols have multiple, complex, implicit, deep meanings. The American flag is not just a sign, but a symbol, with a wide range of meanings around the world, positive or negative or both.

To complicate the matter, something can be a sign to one person and a symbol to another. To someone who lost a loved one because of a driver running a stop sign, the octagonal yellow road sign may call up a host of associations and feelings; it may become a symbol. And to someone in the world with no particular feelings either way about the United States (can we imagine such a person?) the American flag will be just a sign, simply identifying the USA. The fading Coca-Cola painted on the side of my childhood home (an apartment over our newspaper shop) can be seen as a mere sign, pointing to a particular brand of soft drink, or as a symbol, representing a whole cluster of economic and sociological and psychological and historical meanings.

In some earlier cultures, people lived lives surrounded by what they saw as symbols. A rock wasn’t just a rock; it was a part of the body of Mother Earth, or the residence of a god, or an emblem of solidity, or an instrument of punishment, or all of the above. Our culture, in contrast, has few symbols. We tend to focus on surface meanings. A rock is just a rock—or at best an example of granite or marble or sandstone. Most of us are “fundamentalists” in one way or another, taking what could be symbols and reading them as if they were merely signs, with simple, single, knowable meanings, religious or scientific. The literalist religious fanatic and the radical atheist have much in common.

The language and imagery of Freemasonry is remarkably rich in symbols, if we respect them as such. As Masons, we have the opportunity, in every lodge meeting, to move beyond our everyday world of signs into a highly charged, deep symbolic world.

In my mother lodge, one of my brethren was an ordained Gnostic bishop steeped in Western esotericism, while others declared—quite vocally—that they hold little truck with esoteric interpretations. From my Gnostic brother, I was reminded that the letter G in the east end of a lodge can stand not only for geometry and God (the latter mostly only in Germanic languages), it can also stand for gnosis, the inner sacred knowledge—light, if you will—that we Freemasons seek. For me, now, when I see the G, I recognize that it is not just a sign: it has at least three symbolic meanings for me.

So Masonic ritual, if taken seriously, is deeply symbolic. What’s that have to do with brotherly love?

My answer is that the way we see things as signs or symbols is reflected in the way we see people. In the industrialized, materialist West, too many of us—especially men, I think—see most other people has having simple, single meanings. One way we do that is through labeling: he’s a Republican, she’s a Mexican, he’s gay. By giving a person a neat label, we can avoid—we can’t not avoid—looking into the depths of meaning that person carries. Another way we attribute simple, single meanings to people is through seeing them as functionaries, as things that exist solely to serve a narrow function for us. As an unknown (to me) writer put it, “People were made to be loved. Things were made to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos is because things are being loved, and people are being used.” We go through our days not really seeing the people who wash our cars, or clean our restrooms, or fight our fires, or teach our children.

A former colleague of mine who taught psychology was once leaving a ice cream shop near the University of Kentucky campus holding hands with his wife and carrying their young daughter on his shoulders. They passed two students heading toward the shop, then overheard one of the students whisper to the other, “If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that guy was my psych professor.” To that student, my friend existed only in the classroom; he couldn’t possibly eat ice cream, much less have a wife and daughter.

Because we men, especially, tend to look at other people in these ways, we find it very hard to develop close, initimate, deep male friendships. I suggest that a fundamental cause is our male tendency to dismiss other people as having simple, single, superficial meanings rather than complex, multiple, deep meanings.

When, as a brand new Mason, I learned that some of my brothers had partisan political views almost diametrically opposed to mine, I honestly questioned whether I had joined the right lodge. After all, I had spent much of my adult life avoiding relationships with “that” kind of people.

I’ve since learned how foolish that reaction was. (I was about to say “juvenile,” but realized that would be an insult to children.) I share with those brothers a respect for the deep symbolic language of our ritual, for its rich multiple meanings. Having this mutual respect, we are able to look past surface differences into the depths of each other’s being and respect what we find there. That’s not sappy sentimentalism, but a truth I’ve learned, to my great surprise, in my seventh and eighth decades of life. I believe I was a good man when I became a Mason at the age of sixty. Now, thanks to Masonry, I’m a lot better.

Millions of men in our culture are seeking that truth, without even knowing it. They are looking for deep symbolic meanings below the surface of things, and they are looking for deep male friendships. I suggest that those two yearnings are closely related, and that Freemasonry is uniquely positioned to fulfill them. Many lodges are finding that deep respect for ritual can lead to deep respect for one another.

In our time—with deep divisions among people and cultures that seem to remain “at a perpetual distance” from each other—the world desparately needs Masonic respect. It’s a gift Freemasons, in our daily encounters, can give the world. We call it Brotherly Love.

Fraternally,
Kenneth W. Davis

Annual Dues increase on tap beginning with 3Q2016 dues billing

(This article appeared in Issue #32 of The Journal of The Masonic Society.)

It is never easy to write to the membership of any organization to inform them that dues must increase. Thankfully, for most of the eight years since we started The Masonic Society, we have never felt that expenses were increasing to the extent that a dues increase was warranted, and the original annual rates for membership and subscriptions has remained at a very affordable $39 (US/Canada) and $49 (remainder of the world). However, in the past couple of years, expenditures have risen to the point where the Board of Directors has decided that the steady erosion of the Society’s purchasing power needed to be addressed. At the annual meeting of the Board of Directors in February, 2016, it was accordingly proposed and agreed to set the annual membership dues and non-member subscription fees at the following rates, effective for all new and renewal memberships and subscriptions starting October 1, 2016:

 

Your mailing address locale Old rate (US Dollars) New rate (US Dollars)
United States $39/year $45/year
Canada $39/year $49/year
All others $49/year $67/year

These rates reflect steady increases in postage costs which have eroded the bottom line. We have actually begun to incur small losses, particularly in overseas memberships, due to postage alone. We have also added staff members and increased compensation for them over the past few years, and the price of consumables and cost of rental space is also steadily rising. As we look to the future and new programs for the Society, it is clear that future budgets will soon overrun total income.

To ease the transition to the new dues structure, the Society will accept renewals for a maximum of three years for all members at the old rates through the cutoff date of September 30, 2016. Please note the following restrictions and recommendations:

  • Membership dues and non-member subscription payments at the old rate made by postal mail MUST BE RECEIVED IN OUR MAILBOX NO LATER THAN SEPTEMBER 30, 2016. Any payments received after that date at the old rate will be returned to sender and you will have to renew at the new rate.
  • We cannot base payment date on postmarks because a significant portion of the mail we receive either has an illegible postmark or no postmark at all (particularly in the case of electronic checks sent to us by your banking institution).
  • We recommend strongly that any “old rate” dues payments made after September 15, 2016, be made online rather than by postal mail.
  • Renewals received with payment for more than three years will be credited as three year renewals and the balance will be refunded by check drawn in US dollars (or via Paypal if the payment was made through Paypal).
  • If you pay us via postal mail by providing credit card information on the back of the renewal invoice, please indicate the number of years – up to 3 (three) years – for which you wish to renew. If no indication is made, we will assume 1 (one) year.

Please do not ask us to make exceptions to these provisions. We believe we are giving due and timely notice to all members and there should be no reason for any exception to be made.

Unfortunately, non-profit organizations are not zero-sum games where money in equals money out. Faced with a choice of spending down our existing capital and not raising dues, or raising dues to keep enough money in the bank for ongoing operations, we have chosen to increase revenue. It is our sincere hope that these increases will not prevent our current members from continuing to enjoy the Journal and the other programs provided by The Masonic Society.

Three Announcements

The Masonic Society announces:

1. The Annual Conference of The Masonic Society, taking place this year October 7-9, at Morgan Hill Masonic Lodge, Morgan Hill, California (just twenty minutes from San Jose International Airport). The theme of the conference will be “Freemasonry on the Frontier,” the role of Masonry in the westward expansion of the US and Canada.

The conference will begin Friday evening with an informal dinner and end with lunch on Sunday. The event is being coordinated by TMS Director Gregg Hall.

Details on the conference, along with a call for presentations, will appear in the Spring 2016 issue of The Journal of the Masonic Society. To receive advance information when it’s available, please email conference2016@themasonicsociety.com and ask to be put on the conference email list.

2. The Masonic Society School, a program of noncredit online Masonic “courses,” study groups, and reading groups, as well as possible tours and other experiences, exclusively for TMS members. We expect to launch the first offerings at the October conference. The school is being coordinated by TMS Director Greg Knott.

Details on the school will appear in the Spring 2016 issue of The Journal of the Masonic Society. To receive advance information when it’s ready, email school@themasonicsociety.com and ask to be put on the school email list.

3. The Masonic Society Scholar, an annual award to a Masonic researcher/educator. During the year of the award, the recipient will make himself available to speak at a number of lodges of research and other Masonic bodies throughout the world (with travel expenses paid by the local organization).

The first TMS Scholar will be announced at the Annual Conference this October. The program is being coordinated by the immediate past president of TMS, James Dillman.

Details on the program, along with a call for nominations, will appear in the Spring 2016 issue of The Journal of the Masonic Society. For advance information, email scholar@themasonicsociety.com and ask to be put on the scholar email list.

(By sending email to these addresses, you are opting-in to receive occasional emails about the three programs.)

President’s Message, Issue 31

Past, Present, Future

I grew up in the rural Midwest, in an apartment above the eight-page weekly newspaper our family ran. Across the alley from my bedroom window was the only three-story building around the town square, the brick Masonic building, with the town’s most popular café on the first floor. I wondered sometimes what happened on the second and third floors, behind the dark shades that got pulled down some evenings. But I guess I didn’t wonder enough to ask.

My maternal grandpa, in a nearby town, was a Mason. I remember that some evenings he would “go to lodge,” but he never talked about it. Apparently based on his membership, my mom was in Eastern Star, and my sister was a Rainbow girl, but I wasn’t interested enough to ask what all that was about either.

I stayed uninterested until my middle age.

For several years I had been part of an informal men’s support group, a group of men young and old, married and unmarried, gay and straight, who got together every week to share our inner and outer experiences of being male (in the words of a song from the musical Rent) “living in America, at the turn of the millennium.”

When the group broke up, I found that I missed their fellowship. And like many American men, I realized that I didn’t have many male friends outside of my workplace.

Along came the book The DaVinci Code, with its slight references to Freemasonry. Then along came the movie National Treasure, with its portrayal of Masons as keepers of an apparently long-lost, but actually long-held, treasure. Near the film’s end, when a close-up shot revealed that Harvey Keitel’s character, FBI Agent Peter Sadusky, was wearing a Masonic ring, I realized that I wanted, for the first time, to find out more about Freemasonry.

So I went on the Web and found my way to a lodge, and within a year, at the age of 60, I became a Master Mason. And indeed what I discovered was the male support and fellowship I had been missing.

But there was more. My doctoral dissertation had been on the teaching of mythology, a focus I had left behind professionally when I moved into the field of business communication, but one which had never stopped fascinating me. So it was a bonus for me that the fraternity I was joining had such a rich tradition of myth and ritual.

And it was an extra bonus to learn that Freemasons were indeed keepers of an apparently long-lost, but actually long-held, treasure, one much richer than the movie National Treasure could show.

As I explored the fraternity further, I found great pleasure in applying my knowledge and skills as an academic to a whole new world I felt passion for. And that led me to The Masonic Society.

Now, ten years after giving my first three distinct knocks on the door of a lodge, I find myself as TMS president. It’s a honor I prize almost as much as my PhD diploma and my DD Form 214. I truly love The Masonic Society—what it has done, and what it can do.

The bylaws of the society say it is “organized exclusively as a center of union for Freemasons who desire to study and promote Freemasonry, its history, philosophy, rites, customs and practices while promoting the common good and general welfare of its mystic art.”

It may be because I’ve been a career teacher, but the key phrase, for me, in that mission statement is “study and promote.” The words are a reminder that “promoting”—not so much in the sense of “marketing” as in the sense of “furthering”—the benefits of Freemasonry, for individual men and for the world as a whole, requires study.

As my immediate predecessor, WB Jim Dillman, has told you, the leaders of TMS who could attend met in November in St. Louis. Out of that intense one-day meeting emerged a focus on study, on learning. What also emerged were three programs I am happy to announce.

First is an Annual Conference of The Masonic Society, taking place this year October 7-9, at Morgan Hill Masonic Lodge, Morgan Hill, California (just twenty minutes from San Jose International Airport). The theme of the conference will be “Freemasonry on the Frontier,” the role of Masonry in the westward expansion of the US and Canada.

The conference will begin Friday evening with an informal dinner and end with lunch on Sunday. The event is being coordinated by TMS Director Gregg Hall.

Details on the conference, along with a call for presentations, will appear in the Spring 2016 issue of The Journal of the Masonic Society. To receive advance information when it’s available, please email conference2016@themasonicsociety.com and ask to be put on the conference email list.

The second new program is The Masonic Society School, a program of noncredit online Masonic “courses,” study groups, and reading groups, as well as possible tours and other experiences, exclusively for TMS members. We expect to launch the first offerings at the October conference. The school is being coordinated by TMS Director Greg Knott.

Details on the school will appear in the Spring 2016 issue of The Journal of the Masonic Society. To receive advance information when it’s ready, email school@themasonicsociety.com and ask to be put on the school email list.

The third new program is The Masonic Society Scholar, an annual award to a Masonic researcher/educator. During the year of the award, the recipient will make himself available to speak at a number of lodges of research and other Masonic bodies throughout the world (with travel expenses paid by the local organization).

The first TMS Scholar will be announced at the Annual Conference this October. The program is being coordinated by the immediate past president of TMS, James Dillman.

Details on the program, along with a call for nominations, will appear in the Spring 2016 issue of The Journal of the Masonic Society. For advance information, email scholar@themasonicsociety.com and ask to be put on the scholar email list.

(Secretary-Treasurer Nathan Brindle has rightly asked me to make you aware that by sending email to these addresses, you are opting-in to receive occasional emails about the three programs.)

So you see why I am so happy to help lead TMS through this exciting time.

Please let me introduce the other members of the leadership team, and the special projects they will be “owning”:

• First Vice President Patrick Craddock, who, with me, is looking at the society’s overall, long-term strategy

• Second Vice President Jay Hochberg, who is overseeing our presence on social media

• Secretary-Treasurer Nathan Brindle, who continues his excellent and expert job of keeping TMS operating

• Executive Editor Michael Halleran, who, with the help of Art Director John Bridegroom, produces Freemasonry’s best journal

• Fellow Director José Díaz, the “information architect” for our website

• Fellow Director Aaron Shoemaker, coordinator of our relationships with lodges of research

• Fellow Director John Bizzack, who is doing the initial work on a 2017 Annual Conference in Lexington, Kentucky

• Fellow Director Mark Robbins, who is leading our discussion of how to best use the wealth of knowledge that has appeared in the more than thirty issues of this journal

• Member Director Gregg Hall, who, as I’ve said, is coordinating the Annual Conference this October

• Member Director Greg Knott, “dean” of The Masonic Society School

• Member Director Oscar Alleyne, who is exploring the future of the Quarry Project

I also want to acknowledge our four past presidents, whose wisdom, skill, and commitment brought TMS to where it is today. As a further indication of that commitment, all have agreed to take on continued leadership roles. In chronological order of their presidencies, they are

Roger Van Gorden, who will be consulting with Patrick and me on long-term strategy

Michael Poll, who will work with Jay on social media

Bo Cline, who will work with the other past presidents on membership development

James Dillman, who, as I’ve said, is coordinating the TMS Scholar program

And you, as a TMS member or subscriber, have a leadership role too. Please let us know what you want from TMS, and more important, what you can give TMS. Just email me at president@themasonicsociety.com, and I’ll get your message to the right person.

Thanks for continuing support of, and faith in, TMS! I’m excited to be working with you!

Fraternally,
Kenneth W. Davis

President’s Message, Issue 28

The program for The Quarry Project II is almost complete and I’m pleased to be able to share many more details about the conference with our members and subscribers. The conference will be held in Indianapolis September 18-20. As noted in my previous column, this year’s event will all be under one roof. The Hilton Indianapolis Hotel and Suites in downtown Indianapolis will host all TQP events. It is conveniently located just west of Monument Circle in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. The Circle Center Mall has over 100 stores and is located just across the street from the hotel. There are dozens of restaurants and entertainment venues within easy walking distance.

We have assembled an impressive list of presenters from within and without the Masonic fraternity who will offer instruction and guidance on a variety of topics associated with the three different program tracks. I’d like to share some of the highlights with you. Please note that the programs are not completely etched in stone and remain tentative.

The research, writing, and editing track sponsored by The Masonic Society will feature keynote speaker David Hackett, PhD, who will present on academic research by the non-academic. Topics to be addressed in the breakout sessions include how to obtain original source materials, how to use an academic library, communicating your research, Masonic blogging, on-demand printing, and publishing options. One session will be devoted to the newly-released Quarry Project Style Guide, a project that was initiated at the first TQP in 2013. The first edition of the style guide has been released and is published on the TQP website. Several Masonic publishers have already agreed to adopt the style quide. The goal of this project is to establish some consistency in Masonic writing. A round table featuring editors of prominent national Masonic publications will discuss a topic related to publishing and public relations.

The library/museum track sponsored by the Masonic Library and Museum Association is not completed at this time, but the keynote address will be delivered by Helge Bjørn Horrisland, who will present on recovering Masonic history. Breakout session presentations will include library collection development, cataloging your library collection, using your museum collection in exhibitions, photographing and numbering your collection, connecting your audience to your collection, collection policies, and a case study on building a museum from the ground up. A round table discussion regarding procurement and use of college interns will also be part of this track.


Additional presentations

The public relations track sponsored by the Masonic Information Center (part of the Masonic Service Association) will feature keynote speaker Scott Monty, a former Ford Motor Company executive. The topic of his presentation is not available as this goes to print. The breakout session topics include use of social media, awareness via Masonic philanthropy, public relations and marketing, advertising and media campaigns, history of the MIC, and a look at Masonic public relations from outside the fraternity.

After Sunday’s keynote address, a panel featuring the steering committee members will review the event, answer questions, solicit comments from attendees, and discuss the future of The Quarry Project.

The speaker at the Saturday evening banquet will be John Bizzack, who will address the perils and consequences of poorly conducted research.

We are very excited about adding the public relations track sponsored by the Masonic Information Center to The Quarry Project. Although this may extend somewhat beyond the stated mission of The Masonic Society, we are always interested in contributing to the education of the craft and in being of service the fraternity at large. Communication within Freemasonry at both the local and grand lodge level has not always been our greatest strength. Public awareness and media relations have become increasingly important and we have not always put our best foot forward. This is a great opportunity to hear from people who have managed communications effectively at every level.

The Masonic Society and Masonic Library and Museum tracks are open to anyone, Freemason or not, with an interest in Masonic writing, research, editing, and preservation. The public relations track breakout sessions will only be open to Freemasons from jurisdictions in good standing with the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America. A valid dues card will be required for admission to those breakout sessions.

Please share this information with anyone you know who may be interested in attending. This conference is intended to be almost entirely instructional in nature. New and aspiring researchers and museum curators and librarians without formal training will profit tremendously from the information presented. It also gives attendees the opportunity to network and establish connections with experts in various aspects of writing, research, and preservation.

We particularly want to get information about TQP into the hands of the various lodges of research around the U.S. and Canada and we will be sending letters to as many of them as we can find addresses for. These letters don’t always end up in the right hands, so if you belong to a lodge of research, please share this information with your fellow members. Encouraging them to become members of The Masonic Society wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Go to The Quarry Project website at www.thequarryproject.com to find information on registration, accommodations, and the latest information on the programs.

Best wishes to all of you for a safe, healthy, and enjoyable summer. I look forward to seeing many of you in Indianapolis in September.

James R. Dillman, FMS
President, The Masonic Society

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