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Date registered: 2 December 2016

Latest posts

  1. Accept no substitutes — 25 January 2020
  2. For members of the Valley of Houston — 10 January 2020
  3. New Book Review Editor — 14 September 2019
  4. Editor’s Corner, JTMS Issue 46 (Autumn 2019): The Journal of The Masonic Society — 13 August 2019
  5. 2020 Annual Dinner and Meeting — 13 August 2019

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President’s Message, Issue #23

One of the most common laments among freemasons suggests that we should be doing a better job of guarding the West Gate, the implication being that we are admitting a steady stream of unworthy men into our fraternity. You can wager with absolute certainty that any discussion of whatever is deemed to ail freemasonry at any particular moment will eventually result in someone insisting that the root of the problem lies in our failure to guard the West Gate. This is immediately followed by a chorus of nodding heads and various exclamations of assent. Honesty compels me, and likely you as well, to confess to pointing a finger at the West Gate to explain away our troubles on more than a few occasions. Let’s examine this old bromide to determine if there is actually any truth in it.

Freemasonry demands that its initiates be of good repute before the world with a strong moral fiber. There are other organizations and fields of endeavor with similar demands. How does freemasonry match up against them? I would say that we are doing much better than the public service and political arena and at least as well as doctors, lawyers, policemen, teachers, and the clergy. Do some men of weak character and low morals slip through the cracks and become freemasons? It happens, but rarely, and they are more often than not found out and expelled. We are a fraternity of mortal men who are as subject to human nature as anyone else. Good men sometimes make bad decisions and when they are freemasons, the cost of their poor judgment is usually their membership cards. The preponderance of the evidence indicates that we are pretty good judges of character.

So who are these allegedly unworthy men that are sneaking through the West Gate? It depends upon who you are asking. Ask one brother and he will tell you that they are bologna sandwich-eating Neanderthals who dress poorly for lodge, cover their lapels with pins, don’t read, cannot comprehend the true lessons of freemasonry, hold fish fries in their lodges, and think the entirety of freemasonry is contained within the ritual. Ask another and he will just as boldly aver that they are snooty, wine-sipping rich guys in tuxedos who read boring books, attend highbrow lectures, eat expensive food, could find Masonic symbolism in a chainsaw, and can’t go more than a minute without expounding upon the wonders of the kaballah and alchemy. One faction bemoans anti-intellectualism and the other screams elitism and the true spirit of brotherhood that we are obligated to extend to every freemason gets lost amid the bickering.

I see this debate, which often devolves into serious arguments, played out on social media, in Masonic discussion forums, and in parking lots after lodge. There is a somewhat humorous element attached to this. If you ask any individual brother, he will swear to Heaven above that he is upholding the tenets, traditions, and requirements of freemasonry and that it’s the other guys who are letting the undesirables pass through the West Gate. It occurs to me that the common ground we should be searching for is easily discovered if each of us thinks back to the time when we first knocked on freemasonry’s door.

Before we were initiated, we were all asked in one form or another if we sought the privileges of freemasonry based on, among other things, a desire for knowledge. The path that leads to knowledge is laid out in the Fellowcraft degree where we learn about the power of the human mind, which, with the aid of our five senses, enables us to seek and store knowledge. We are given a mini-course in architecture because speculative masonry, the building of a spiritual temple, corresponds so closely to operative masonry and the construction of temporal buildings. We are introduced to the liberal arts and sciences because all of the knowledge we attain falls within the realm of one of those arts or sciences. From that point on, freemasonry becomes a very personal journey and we are each entitled to pursue knowledge and further light by following a path that we choose for ourselves.

James R. Dillman, FMS
President, The Masonic Society

Summer Symposium

The Masonic Society and The Philalethes Society

Masonic Symposium

September 13, 2014

Valley of Chicago Scottish Rite Cathedral


Via Eventbrite: The Masonic Society – Philalethes Society Symposium (Link is no longer active)



Fees: Symposium (Includes Continental Breakfast) $15.00
Banquet (Must reserve by 10AM EDT, September 8, 2014) $35.00

Capacity: 100


Valley of Chicago Scottish Rite Cathedral
383 E. Lake St.
Bloomingdale, IL 60108-1191


All times are Central Daylight Time

9:00-10:00 A.M. Registration and Continental Breakfast
10:00-11:00 A.M. Presentation I – Steve Harrison
11:00-11:15 A.M. Break
11:15-12:15 P.M. Presentation II – Shawn Eyer
12:15- 2:00 P.M. Lunch (on your own)**
2:00 – 3:00 P.M. Presentation III – Mark Robbins
3:00 – 3:15 P.M. Break
3:15 – 4:15 P.M. Presentation IV – Alton Roundtree
4:15 P.M. End of sessions – free time till dinner
5:00 – 6:00 P.M. Social Hour (cash bar)
6:00 P.M. Banquet and Keynote Speaker
Speaker: Andrew Hammer

Banquet Menu: Prime rib of beef, soup, tossed salad, dinner roll, baked potato, green beans, cheesecake, coffee.

Dress: Minimum business casual (Collared shirt, dress slacks, no jeans, teeshirts, or tennis shoes)

Parking: Ample free parking on site

Smoking: The Scottish Rite Cathedral is a non-smoking facility. Smoking is permitted on the patio or a minimum of twenty-five feet from the entrance.

Handicapped Facilities: Yes

Accommodations: Discounted rate of $95.00 per night available at the Hilton Garden Inn, 551 N. Swift Rd., Addison, IL 60101 Telephone: 630-691-0500 and mention The Masonic Society to get the discounted rate or reserve online at:

Sorry, link is no longer valid.


* All times are Central Daylight Time

** There are a variety of options with various price points within easy driving distance.

Speakers for TMS-PSoc Symposium

Alton G. Roundtree, 33°, is a Past Master of Redemption Lodge No. 24 of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington, D.C. He is the Grand Editor-in-Chief of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge. Alton is also a member of the Jonathan Davis Consistory No. 1, Mecca Temple No. 10 (Shriners), Mt. Vernon Chapter No. 1 (Holy Royal Arch Masons), Henderson Commandery, and Redemption Chapter No. 14 of the Order of Eastern Star. Alton is a writer, publisher, researcher and editor of the Prince Hall Masonic Digest and The Phylaxis Magazine. He, along with Paul M. Bessel, is author of the bestseller and internationally acclaimed book, “Out of the Shadows: The Emergence of Prince Hall Freemasonry in America (Over 225 Years of Endurance).” He is also author of The National Grand Lodge and Prince Hall Freemasonry: The Untold Truth, and Conference of Grand Masters Prince Hall Masons, Conference History: 1887-2013. Alton, along with Tehuti Evans, is currently completing a history book on the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, History of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge: 1822-2013. He is also in the process of writing the updated history of the Prince Hall Shriners – 1993-2014. Alton is a member of two distinguished Masonic Groups, Society of Blue Friars (2011) and Masonic Brotherhood of the Blue Forget-Me-Not (2008). He is also a member of the Philalethes Society and a Fellow of The Masonic Society and The Phylaxis Society.

Presentation: Masonic Historical Research and Presentation: Intricate and Acceptance

The presenter will review the generally accepted steps and requirements necessary to ensure that Masonic historical research is done properly. Problems and approaches in Masonic historical research will be highlighted. Some of the problems and lessons learned in writing three Masonic history books will be reviewed. The requirements to make a successful presentation of historical research findings will be addressed. The presentation will also touch upon Masonic historical analysis and interpretation, significance and impact, in depth research, historical accuracy, historical context, and adherence to the theme.

Shawn Eyer is a Masonic scholar researching the history, ritual, iconography, symbolism and philosophy of Craft Freemasonry, and has lectured widely at both academic conferences and Masonic symposia. Bro. Eyer has authored dozens of articles on Masonry, and is the editor of Ahiman: A Review of Masonic Culture and Tradition, and of Philalethes. He is the Director of Communications of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia.

Presentation: The Role of Music and Song in Traditional Freemasonry

In the eighteenth century, during the classical period of Freemasonry, singing was a normal part of the lodge experience. Nearly every published book of Constitutions and Masonic lectures included a significant number of Masonic songs. Often set to familiar melodies, the lyrics of these songs transmitted and illustrated Masonic tradition. More than just drinking songs, they reinforced the culture of Freemasonry, taught the Craft’s special mythology, and underlined the ideal experience of the lodge as an analogue of the Temple of Solomon.

Steven L. Harrison, 33°, is Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri, and a dual member of Kearney Lodge #311. His Masonic affiliations include Liberty York Rite Bodies, Scottish Rite Valley of St. Joseph and Moila Shrine. A member of the DeMolay Legion of Honor, he is Past Dean of its St. Joseph Preceptory. Steve is the Master and a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research. He is a regular contributor to several Masonic publications and editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine. His latest book is Freemasons: Tales From the Craft. With a Master’s degree from Indiana University, he is retired from a career in information technology. Steve and his wife Carolyn reside in Kearney, Missouri.

Presentation: The Mystery of Oak Island: Masonic Connections to a Real National Treasure Site

For over two centuries a small patch of land on an obscure island has baffled treasure hunters and scientists alike. Tantalizing clues indicate it may be the site of the world’s greatest treasure, or it might be history’s most elaborate hoax. Speculation about who is responsible for its puzzling origin runs the gamut from pirates to space aliens; but when the facts are laid out the evidence on mysterious and enigmatic Oak Island points to one group… the Freemasons.

Mark Robbins is a Past Master of Mankato Lodge #12, AF&AM of Minnesota, currently serving as Lodge Education Officer. He became a 32° Scottish Rite Mason in 2007 in the Valley of Rochester in Minnesota, served as Venerable Master of the Lodge of Perfection 2011-2013, received the Knight Commander of the Court of Honour in 2011. A member of both The Masonic Society and the Philalethes Society, he was named an Esteemed Fellow of The Masonic Society in 2012. He was appointed Grand Lodge Education Officer of the AF&AM of Minnesota in 2014. Mark holds a Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University, and is currently on the faculty of the Department of Government at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Presentation: Freemasonry and Law Enforcement: Compatible or Conflicting?

Law enforcement in a democratic society has always been a complicated issue. If you add to the discussion the issue of Freemasonry, a whole new set of concerns are raised. Do the moral lessons inculcated in Freemasonry, the ideals of tolerance and universal brotherhood, make for a better police officer (or judge,) or does the “secrecy” and obligations Masons have to support each other bring about corruption and favoritism? We will explore some examples of the affect Freemasonry has had on law enforcement in Great Britain and America and how Masonic concepts fit within the ethics of law enforcement.

Andrew Hammer is a Past Master of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22 and holds a Gold Card in the Grand Lodge of Virginia, which certifies his proficiency in all aspects of Masonic ritual. He is a Royal Arch Mason, a Companion of the Allied Masonic Degrees and a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason. He is a member of the Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle, the Philalethes Society, the Masonic Society, and sits on the Executive Committee of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association. He resides in Alexandria Virginia. He is the author of Observing the Craft: The Pursuit of Excellence in Masonic Labour and Observance.

Presentation: Pending

TMS 5th Anniversary Commemorative Jewel

In commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the founding of The Masonic Society, we are proud to announce that we have commissioned a special medallion to be given to new members who join between May 1, 2013 and April 30, 2014. This beautiful medallion was designed and created by our good friend and brother John Bridegroom, and will be mailed to new members along with their patents, member pin, and member card.

Current members will be able to order this medallion, for a nominal cost (including domestic shipping and handling), from The Masonic Society store at

Thank you all for your continued support of The Masonic Society.

Sincerely and fraternally,

John “Bo” Cline
President, The Masonic Society

[NOTE:  These Jewels were sold out and no more will be produced.  Sorry!]

New Editor of the Journal of The Masonic Society

Many of you are aware that Chris Hodapp (founding Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of The Masonic Society) has been dealing with some rather significant health issues over the past few years. Despite this fact, he has endeavored to publish what many consider the best journal in Freemasonry today. Recently, Chris informed us that he is unable to continue as Editor-in-Chief, however he will remain involved with the Journal to the extent his health will allow.

Based on Chris’ revelation, we have secured the assistance of Michael Halleran who will assume the duties of Editor-in-Chief of the Journal. Michael is a freelance writer and a practicing attorney in the Flint Hills of East-Central Kansas. A lecturer at Emporia State University, he is also an active Freemason, and an officer in the Grand Lodge of Kansas A.F. & A.M. Michael is the author of the highly acclaimed book regarding Freemasonry during the American Civil War entitled The Better Angels of Our Nature and he previously was the editor of The Plumbline (quarterly newsletter of the Scottish Rite Research Society). In addition to Michael, Chris, and Jay Hochberg (Submissions Coordinator), I am pleased to announce that John Bridegroom will bring his extensive graphics design expertise to the editorial staff as Layout Editor.

Additionally, as some of you are acclaimed for your journalistic excellence or are associated with others through Lodges of Research and Masonic Research Societies who may or may not be published, please consider submitting your articles and/or inviting others to submit their articles for future editions of the Journal to Jay Hochberg at . Articles may also be submitted to . Thank you for your understanding during this time of transition and thank you for your continued interest in and support of The Masonic Society.

May I also wish for you and your family a very joyful and safe holiday season and a prosperous new year.

Sincerely and Fraternally,

John R. “Bo” Cline, President
The Masonic Society

Fifth Annual Dinner and Meeting

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

The Fifth Annual Dinner and Meeting
The Masonic Society

At Masonic Week 2013
The Hyatt Regency Hotel
Reston, Virginia

Friday Evening, February 8, 2013
6:00 PM

Featured Speaker:
Andrew Hammer
Past Master, Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22, A.F.&A.M.
Author, Observing the Craft

All Freemasons and Ladies are Welcome!

Please make all reservations through the Masonic Week 2013 Website:

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.


Masonic Week Hospitality Suite

The Society will once again sponsor a hospitality suite at Masonic Week 2013. Please check at our membership table for the room number.

The Quarry Project 2013

UPDATE: Schedule and Registration Information Are Now Available!

Direct Link to Eventbrite Registration (Link no longer active)

Initiatives like the International Conference on the History of Freemasonry, the Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry, and UCLA’s Freemasonry and Civil Society demonstrate an ever growing interest from the academic community in the history and philosophy of our fair Craft. It is gratifying to witness this increased attention from the non-Masonic community, and it presents a challenge for us as Masons to ensure that we retain control of our story and our heritage. The most significant aspect of this challenge is that few Masons hold the same level of knowledge and abilities as those in the academic community. To help rectify this discrepancy, The Masonic Society and the Masonic Library and Museum Association have joined forces to establish The Quarry Project. Phase one of this endeavor will be the Conference on Masonic Research and Preservation to be held at the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, VA on September 27-29, 2013. The conference is open to anyone interested in Masonic research and preservation, but will be specifically targeted toward two groups: members of Masonic lodges of research as well as authors, writers, and researchers, both published and aspiring, and Masonic librarians and museum curators.

The conference will draw from both the Masonic and academic communities to provide detailed instruction on Masonic research and the editing of same. In addition, the recommendations of a committee created to establish a set of voluntary standards for future Masonic research, writing, and editing will be introduced. Professional librarians, museum curators, and experts on display and preservation will address that area of interest. Multiple concurrent presentations on both fields of endeavor will be offered on all three days. A few success stories that will enthuse and inspire the participant will be mixed in along the way.

We are soliciting support from Grand Lodges, Lodges of Research, and the various Masonic Research Societies to help promote interest in this endeavor and encourage participation. Additionally, we are seeking patronage from those wishing to assist in making this quality event affordable to all who wish to attend. All contributions will be duly noted in The Quarry Project program. For more information on sponsorship levels and lodge promotions, please contact us at: .

Finally, we wish to hear comments and/or feedback regarding this conference. That feedback may also be sent to .

Program details and registration information for this event will be available in the fall of 2012.

Sincerely and Fraternally,

John R. “Bo” Cline, President
The Masonic Society

Mark A. Tabbert, President
Masonic Library and Museum Association

[Eventbrite signup applet has been removed as the event is long over.]

Semi-Annual Meeting, Philadelphia

The Masonic Society will hold its Semi-Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, July 28, 2012.

Date and Time

Saturday, July 28, 2012
Starts 9:00 AM Eastern Time
Concludes after the Banquet


The Union League of Philadelphia • The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania

The Union League of Philadelphia, 140 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Dress: Men, Jacket and Tie or Comparable Business Attire. Women should wear comparable attire. Please see the Union League’s Dress Code for more information.

The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, Masonic Temple, 1 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Society requests that attendees follow the Union League dress code for this event.


Full Conference: $75 per person, includes all events: Grand Lodge of PA tour/lunch, speaker program, and social hour/banquet. TICKET SALES CLOSED 7/21/2012, SORRY.

Banquet Only: $60 per person, includes the social hour/banquet ONLY. TICKET SALES CLOSED 7/21/2012, SORRY.

Program Only: $25 per person, includes the Grand Lodge of PA tour/lunch and the Union League speaker program ONLY.

The registration page is found here. Deadline for registration is Saturday, July 21, 2012. We still have a few presale or walk-in registration tickets left, but only for the day program (including lunch at the Masonic Temple). No more full-program or banquet-only tickets are available. See the reservation page.

NOTICE: Registration for the conference does not include accommodations. See below.


Friday, July 27, 2012
An informal get-together will be held at a local watering hole, location to be determined. This event is open to anyone interested; no ticket required. No food or drink provided by the Society.

Saturday, July 28, 2012
All events are for registered, ticketed attendees only.

Time Event Full Conference
Banquet Only
Program Only
9:00 AM – 11:30 AM Meet at the Masonic Temple, 1 North
Broad Street (about two blocks north
of the Union League).
Tour Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania
Temple and Museum
Included No Included
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Luncheon at the Temple Included No Included
1:00 PM – 4:00 PM Presentations at the Union League
by New Jersey Lodge of Research and
The Livingston Library (GL of NY)
Included No Included
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM Free time n/a n/a n/a
6:00 PM – 7:00 PM No-host social hour at the Union League Included Included No
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM Banquet and guest lecturer at
the Union League
Included Included No

Speakers for our afternoon session include

  • Thomas Savini, Director, Livingston Masonic Library Grand Lodge of New York – The Robert R. Livingston Library
  • Ben Hoff, PM, New Jersey Lodge of Research – The Original Ahiman Rezon
  • Howard Kanowitz, New Jersey Lodge of Research – Redemption at Gettysburg: A Study in Masonic Duty
  • Ray Thorne, current WM of the New Jersey Lodge of Research – Parallax, Transits and Geometry

Our Banquet speaker will be R. W. Thomas W. Jackson, Past Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, and Executive Secretary of the World Conference of Grand Lodges, who will speak on The Need for Masonic Education.


The following hotels are recommended:

The Inn at the Union League, $159/night. Contact the Union League directly for reservations at or 215-587-5570. LIMITED NUMBER OF ROOMS AVAILABLE. Note dress code.

The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia City Center, $149/night. This Hilton-branded hotel is about a block away from the Union League. A limited number of rooms have been set aside at this rate. Reservations can be made by calling 1-800-222-8733 and giving the group name Masonic Society. We will also have an online reservation link shortly. Please note that the last day a reservation can be made under the group name is June 27, 2012. Reservations made after that date will be accepted based on hotel availability at the prevailing weekend rate.

Please do not contact the Masonic Society for additional hotel information or for reservations. All such contacts should be made with the appropriate hotel.

Fourth Annual Dinner and Meeting

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

The Fourth Annual Dinner and Meeting
The Masonic Society

At Masonic Week 2012
The Hilton Alexandria Mark Center
Alexandria, Virginia

Friday Evening, February 10, 2012
6:00 PM

Our featured speaker is to be announced.

All Freemasons and Ladies are Welcome!

Please make all reservations through the Masonic Week 2012 Website:

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.


Masonic Week Hospitality Suite

The Society will once again sponsor a hospitality suite at Masonic Week 2012. Please check at our membership table for the room number.

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