Category Archive: News

President’s Message, February 2021

I have been negligent in submitting President’s Messages for publication here on our website, which several members have told me makes the Masonic Society, or at least its website, look defunct. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I apologize for the longstanding oversight.

To catch up, let me tell you about the Zoom webinar we hosted February 12 to hear the greatly anticipated comments of an eminent Freemason. We are working on editing the video of that event, and we will share it online for all to see soon. In the meantime, here is my summary of the memorable speech.

The Masonic Society Lecture 2021

In lieu of the Masonic Society’s usual banquet during the annual Masonic Week festivities in Virginia, we gathered via Zoom February 12 to host one of the most dynamic thinkers and persuasive speakers on the Masonic scene today. As president of the Society, I hadn’t anticipated the pandemic would still hound us into 2021, so I in fact had been planning for our customary dinner-lecture at the hotel in Arlington when I first contacted MW Bro. Akram Elias last June. It was my desire to find a speaker who would continue a theme opened by RW Bro. Eric Diamond, one of our Board members, who addressed the group in 2019 with a speech that rightly should arouse Freemasonry’s latent desire to infuse a positive energy into the public square because, candidly, we have turned into an introspective and persnickety historical society. Having discovered earlier in 2020 the Masonic Legacy Society, co-founded by Elias, I recognized exactly such a presenter of urgent Masonic ideals. He graciously agreed to join us, without any hesitation, mental reservation, etc.

MW Elias has been a Freemason since 1996, when he was initiated, passed, and raised in Potomac Lodge 5 in Washington, DC. He has presided in the East of La France Lodge 93, Benjamin B. French Lodge 15, Cincinnatus Lodge 76, and Pythagoras Lodge of Research, all in Washington, where he also is a founding member of other lodges. In 1999, he joined the Grand Lodge officer line, culminating in his term as Grand Master in 2008. He is a York Rite and Scottish Rite Mason, and a Shriner, as well as a member of invitational groups. His Masonic accolades and accomplishments are too numerous to include here. In his professional concerns and employments, Elias has been engaged in the field of international relations for more than thirty years; he is a co-founder and president of Capital Communications Group, Inc., an international consultancy that provides to governments and private clients alike an array of strategies for navigating across humankind’s varied nations and cultures.

His presentation is titled “Freemasonry in 2026: A Force for Good, or a Footnote in History?” He spoke for approximately thirty minutes before fielding questions for an hour.

“I hope every Freemason would take a few moments to truly think deeply and seriously about what it means to be a Freemason in our country five years before our country celebrates the 250th anniversary of our independence,” he begins. “And about the special relationship that has existed between the Founding of the Great Experiment and the role Freemasonry has played in the establishment, development, and evolution of the Great Experiment; and where we are today—at a major crossroads. Will Freemasonry rise to the challenge once again to help propel this Great Experiment into the future?”

Elias defines the Great Experiment as the uniquely American system of governance needed “to advance the human condition.” Not only democratic elections, which had been tried with only partial benefits to previous societies, but also “the genius of the Founding Fathers,” meaning government as a “systems engineering machine that people can use to solve their own problems.” By employing individual liberty, self-governance, and the rule of law, America, which he acknowledged was led at that time by white, Anglo-Saxon property owners, could set in motion a system that would “expand the Experiment” so as to include and embrace all the people of America.

“Enlightened citizens are of the utmost importance to the success of this Great Experiment,” he also says, and that is where Freemasonry enters the history. “Masonic lodges truly were incubators” where its members elected their leaders, voted on legislation, and honed their skills in rhetoric. The lodge experience produced leaders of local communities who could safeguard freedom, which is always endangered. “America created civil society,” he adds. While the world always had “society” consisting of structures—religion, ethnicity, family—that predetermined a person’s identity, it took the American Experiment to birth a place where an individual could relieve himself of constraints and enjoy freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble, and other inalienable rights. “It is also, from an Enlightenment perspective, freedom from ignorance, freedom from bigotry, freedom from superstition.”

“Masonic lodges spread across the country. It was a place where people learned to govern themselves,” Elias continues. “They were laboratories where Masonry is taken seriously. How does Masonry take an individual and make him better? That happens by studying seriously the deeper meanings of the symbols and allegories of our Craft. It is the esoteric, the hidden aspect, that enables a person to transform from within.”

“Masonry was instrumental to help bring people together of different backgrounds to try to work together to build their communities.”  The result over time was making the Great Experiment more inclusive. “One way to look at the evolutionary history of the United States is to see each generation had to fight its own viruses—we live in a COVID pandemic right now. Viruses have variants and can spread sometimes like wildfire. Well, ignorance, superstition, bigotry, and extremism are viruses, and each generation of Americans would face those,” he says, referring to the revolutions in American life that ended chattel slavery and racial segregation, and that expanded suffrage and economic opportunity beyond the original Founders’ social class. “It took generations and generations of Americans to fight hard and make the Experiment more inclusive.”

“As Masons, we are taught in our ritual—we live it in many jurisdictions in our country—we need to attract people of different faiths, backgrounds, races, nationalities, etc.,” he explains. “We know what are the minimum criteria for someone to knock at the door and be accepted in our Craft.”

“Five years before we celebrate our 250th anniversary, given where our country is, what are Freemasons going to do? Are we, as Freemasons, going to go to lodges and do the stuff that we would typically do—conduct some business, maybe spend some good time together because we are fellows who like one another and spend an evening together—or  are we going to really go back to the fundamentals of Freemasonry and make it relevant again?”

“Freemasonry has a unique role: It is to build a better person, a more engaged, enlightened citizen, and that’s what we need, because if we don’t have enlightened citizens who take on the responsibility, engage the system engineering machine, to move us forward, solve our problems, always expanding opportunity for all—if we don’t do that, it becomes the rule of the mob,” Elias adds conclusively. “As Benjamin Franklin told that lady who asked ‘What have you given us, Dr. Franklin?’ And he said ‘A republic, madam, if you can keep it.’ And a republic needs enlightened, engaged citizens.”

TMS 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting, Friday, February 12, 2021

Please join us next Friday evening, February 12, for The Masonic Society’s Virtual Annual Meeting, featuring guest speaker MW Akram Elias, PGM of the Grand Lodge of Washington, D.C., who will speak on “Freemasonry in 2026: A Force for Good, or a Footnote in History?”

President’s Message, October 2020

(Mea culpa from your Secretary-Treasurer — Jay’s column is late because I’m late putting it up! Sorry about that! — Nathan)

We Freemasons like our milestones. From our first entrance into the worshipful lodge, and through the degrees, and, for some, through the chairs, and, for a few, grand rank. Of course we also have our anniversaries: that first formative year as a brother, then the fifth year, and shockingly suddenly it is time for the silver anniversary, then the golden, and maybe more. With this issue of The Journal of the Masonic Society, we mark not an anniversary, but a milestone. An anniversary measures time, and time can be passed without effort, but a milestone is like a target. There’s a reasoned plan, a deliberate exertion, sustained determination, and—hopefully, but not always—the achievement. So here we are at Issue No. 50.

I have a unique vantage point for surveying the Masonic Society’s body of work. By dumb luck, I was invited to join at the start not only as a Founding Fellow, but even as a member of the Board of Directors. It seemed a little crazy to me, because the rest of the leadership team consisted of highly regarded figures on the Masonic scene in America. I was a recent Past Master and currently in the East of my research lodge, but I wasn’t a Past Grand Master, or an author, or a luminary of any kind. I hadn’t even unleashed my blog on the world yet. But I recognized the need for, and believed in the mission of, the Masonic Society—as I do still—and happily signed on with a desire to make a good fraternity better. As my colleagues writing to you here on this subject surely have mentioned, the basic concept of The Journal of the Masonic Society is to be “the Time magazine of Freemasonry.” (For those of you too young to know Time, it was the benchmark general interest magazine of American journalism, accessible to readers from all walks of life, and still around after 97 years.) We aim for a harmonious fusion of scholarly research, speculative thinking, news/current events, opinion/reviews, photography, and more. I believe we do it well, so perhaps in this context, respecting Time actually propels us toward a milestone.

Before our launch in 2008, there had not been such a resource available to the laboring Master Mason since the 1920s, when it was a pretty common thing. From the 1700s to the Great Depression, motivated Masons edited and published independently to satisfy a demand for useful information. The brethren wanted to read about their fraternity during a time before grand lodges and other bodies began supplying official periodicals. When those magazines debuted, the independents drifted away. What happened upon the advent of the Masonic Society was pretty amazing! Before, many existing magazines showed inevitable editorial biases. Grand lodge magazines were weighted in favor of the charitable work, while the publications of multi-state and national bodies seemed to struggle for want of good material. A different Masonic society was given to printing biographies of long deceased Baseball Hall of Famers. The arrival of The Journal of the Masonic Society changed much of that. The fruits of the labors of contemporary writers, showcased in a modern layout and design, and buttressed by the independence brought by paid memberships reminded Freemasons in America that it’s better to have the best. It was thrilling for me to see brethren come to our kiosk at Masonic Week to sign up for membership; to see brethren reading The Journal while relaxing in the hotel lobby. I’ll never forget strolling through the ground floor of Masonic Hall in New York City one night in May 2009 and overhearing a passing group of older Masons talking about us. “There’s a new society,” one said. “It’s alternative. It’s called the Masonic Society, and they publish a very attractive magazine.” And then there was the morning I received a call from the principals of that other Masonic society, offering me the editorship of their magazine (with $9,000 annual pay and a few perks) when they finally decided to plan a future without their longtime editor. That meant infinitely more to me than being coroneted a 33 Mason. I declined as graciously as I could given the shock I felt. I was committed resolutely to the Masonic Society and to building something new that was urgently needed in the Craft. (They wound up hiring away another key Masonic Society figure, and he has been doing a wonderful job with that academic quarterly.)

There is no rule and guide for presiding over a modestly sized non-profit group in the Masonic world. Worshipful Masters have their rituals, lodge bylaws, grand lodge constitutions, and generations of accreted traditions, habits, and preferences. Presidents of the Masonic Society? Not so much. Consequently the Society can differ in conspicuous ways with each new president’s term. It’s safe to say we have staved off chaos, but predictable, comfortable success is elusive too. That’s good though. Keeps us on our toes. Over the years, we have had to cycle through a number of officers and directors, worthy and well qualified Masons all, but who could not give the Masonic Society the sustained professional attention it demands. Our first Executive Editor was Chris Hodapp, probably the best known Freemason in the country thanks to his books, blog, and speaking engagements. He produced this great magazine—words and layout—for its first eighteen issues, even while he fought off cancer. Today he is our Editor Emeritus. Chris was succeeded by author Michael Halleran, Past Grand Master of Kansas, who continued the excellence. In more recent years, we have been lucky to have our second President, Mike Poll, at the helm, bringing his many years of experience as an eminent Mason and indefatigable book publisher to lead us to new heights, to more distant milestones, with Art Director John Bridegroom, graphic designer extraordinaire, crafting the layout.

And life goes on, Freemasonry is a “progressive science,” time waits for no one, and, as you read this fiftieth issue milestone of The Journal, we already are well into production of No. 51. See you then.

Jay Hochberg
President

President’s Message, August 2020

Issue 49 (Summer 2020) of The Journal of the Masonic Society has been out for about a month, so let me tell you about it in case you are not yet a member. You’ll find a lot of facts, logic, and reason within its pages.

In fact, the Winding Stairway of the Middle Chamber Lecture in the Fellow Craft Degree (for a great many of us) is presented in several contexts. Jim Rumsey of Texas gives us “The Masonic Philosophy of the Winding Stairway: A Pathway to Enlightenment,” in which he leads us up the stairs, step by step. On Music, for example, this elected member of his grand lodge’s Committee on Work explains how “Music teaches us to manage our time…and to understand that it takes time and patience to accomplish life.” And that “Harmony is bringing all things together and managing conflict.”

Meanwhile, in his “Light from the East Coast,” the President of the Masonic Society brings to our attention the Scottish Enlightenment philosopher Thomas Reid, whose name is noted in the Second Degree section of William Preston’s Illustrations of Masonry. Reid is renowned as the Father of Common Sense. His treatise titled Inquiry into the Human Mind expounds on the Five Physical Senses, also known to Free and Accepted Masons through the MC Lecture, and the President’s point is to urge Freemasons to use their faculties and common sense during the pandemic so as not to be “affected by hysterical media or by politicians who never planned for any emergency.” Hmmm.

Pennsylvania’s William Britton shares “Reflecting on the Reflections of a Newly Made Mason,” an essay that was inspired by a talk he witnessed in a lodge he had visited and that made quite an impact. Sharing his thoughts, for example, on Astronomy, Britton says:

As the seasons change—winter to spring, spring to summer—so the morning changes to midday, then afternoon, and leads us into the center, or middle chamber of the day. With that advancement comes maturity—time when we are fully able to make intellectual decisions in life, rather than using our emotions, relying on rationality as a means to make decisions based on reason. It is here, in the middle chamber, we are given more refined tools that become essential to the precision required in the building process. When a building is being erected, every stone in it must be so placed that the stress of gravity pulls on all portions of the structure in such a manner that its unity and consistency are preserved. Such it is when we base our decisions upon the foundation of rational reason.

I like what he writes in this piece. I think it recalls Stoic philosophy, but you decide for yourself. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been telling anyone who would listen that when our GMHA avows “My l u ma tk; bt m intg nv,” he is not referring to pure, honest duty. He is affirming how his obligations are integral to his being. When one speaks of a building’s structural integrity, he is not talking about the building’s honesty; he is referring to the building’s very ability to exist per the proper applications of the useful rules of architecture. The Emperor Marcus makes this very point in his Stoic reflections we know as the Meditations.

Upon opening this issue of The Journal, I actually landed in the middle, where we find “Masonic Perspectives: A Second Look at Aspects of Controversial Topics in American Freemasonry.” This is one in a series where the authors reach into history to demonstrate how—to borrow Karr’s famous axiom—the more things change, the more they stay the same. In this case, John Bizzack (Masonic Society Board Member) and Dan Kemble examine two articles from the May 1929 issue of The Builder magazine. The first is titled “The Future of Freemasonry,” by Herbert Hungerford, and the second is “Where Are We Drifting?” by R.J. Meekren. You probably can guess what these two vintage articles say, because you probably have been saying the same thing, namely that “we in America have been bitten by the lust for size, for numbers, for wealth.” (Hungerford) And that the “leaders of the Craft have very frequently expressed grave fears in regard to losses from various causes, especially those by suspension for non-payment of dues. Rather less frequently, doubts have been voiced as to whether the growth in the last decade has not been altogether too rapid.” (Meekren)

There is much detail provided in membership statistics, but it is not dry reading. It really is a very important lesson in Masonic practice that future grand masters ought to read and comprehend, so the Craft may break its pointless cycle of initiating and losing such high numbers of brethren.

In The Journal’s Spotlight section, we find an interview with the irrepressible John “Coach” Nagy, a persuasive voice in social media and a prolific author. Here Nagy extols the urgency of research, and illustrates the value of etymology in understanding Masonic vocabulary—something I prize myself. We use the terms Free and Accepted, Freemason, and free stone often enough, and Nagy explains that our word “free” should not be taken merely as “unrestrained,” but as per its French origin, franche, meaning “superior, excellent, pure, master.” The discussion spans three pages, but I wish it went longer.

Likewise looking into word meanings and our need to guard the West Gate, Francis Fritz of Arizona asks “Are We a Secret Society?” It’s a pretty short, but thoughtful, opinion piece that just may cure brethren of reciting a certain ubiquitous catchphrase about a society with secrets. Check it out and decide for yourself.

Giovanni “Joey” Villegas of Manila, Philippines renders a lengthy study in the back of the magazine on the subject of “Masonry in the Time of the Corona Virus,” that naturally was written independently of the President’s message in the front of the magazine, but that synchronously also encourages us to keep calm. After a deep recitation of facts and numbers on how the fraternity worldwide is dealing with the pandemic, Villegas reminds us that “Masonry is indeed about applying the tenets and teachings for the benefit of our brethren and of all mankind. You don’t need to have a meeting to learn and serve Masonry. It was never about collecting degrees or aspiring for positions and awards. It always has been about Brotherly Love (caring), Relief (helping), and Truth (learning).”

The regular features of The Journal consistently help us navigate the Masonic world outside our lodges. In the reviews section, Steven Shimp, a Past Master of St. John’s Lodge 435 in Pennsylvania (I’ve never seen a St. John’s Lodge numbered so high!) praises the Masonic Lite podcast, hosted by five fellow Pennsylvanians. Shimp credits the show for using informal talk to present Masonic education. In the books department, Seth Anthony (another Pennsylvanian!) discusses the Roger Dachez and Alain Bauer book Freemasonry: A French View, which he lauds as “an excellent, short read that is absolutely packed with Masonic knowledge” and that clarifies for the American reader the often vexing story of Freemasonry in France. My friend Dave Tucker of New Jersey sizes up Michael Poll’s Measured Expectations: The Challenges of Today’s Freemasonry, which was honored as the Grand Lodge of Illinois’ book of the year. “Measured Expectations examines the needs of a newly raised Mason,” Tucker writes. “The book is full of very practical observations and suggestions.” Another(!) Keystone State Mason, M. Vincent Cruciani, reviews the insightful Roy Wells’ Some Royal Arch Terms Examined. Noting how the book is more useful to English Royal Arch Masons than to Americans, Cruciani encourages us to read the book for its decoding of Hebrew terms.

Speaking of Mike Poll, the Editor in Chief of The Journal, in his Editor’s Corner column, also addresses Masonic life during the pandemic. (Let me point out that this issue of The Journal went into production in April, so it’s important to appreciate the time lapsed.) He notes the online discussions among Masons, and the organized efforts of brethren to help, aid, and assist the needy, whether they are Masons or not. “We are Masons and have the need to act like Masons.”

Perhaps as a kind of bookend, Masonic Society Second Vice President Greg Knott, in his photography feature “Through the Camera Lens,” takes us on a tour of the Civil War battlefield of Fredericksburg. He shows us the statue of Confederate soldier Richard Kirkland, who was thus memorialized because he risked his neck to bring water to the wounded Union men strewn about the field. “This selfless act is a reminder of the obligation we have as Freemasons to assist our brothers and others who might need some aid,” Knott writes. “During this time of COVID-19 pandemic, let us remember to reach out to our brethren and their families to ensure their well being.”

SMIB.

There still is more to this issue of The Journal of the Masonic Society, but it’s hard for me to believe you’ve read even this far, so see for yourself. It’s the best $45 you’ll spend in Freemasonry.

Fiat lux. Fiat lex. Fiat pax.

Jay Hochberg
President

President’s Message, June 2020

The faster society appears to spiral into oblivion, the more we, as Free and Accepted Masons, can be confident that our gentle Craft illumines the way forward. As I write this to you on the closing day of May, swaths of multiple American cities are left in smoking ruins following days of riots, looting, arson, and other savagery. Amid the current fog of war, seemingly everyone is pointing fingers at everybody else: It’s a rent-a-mob or it’s the far-Left or it’s the far-Right or it’s the Russians or maybe Martians. (The gallows humor in me recalls that funny hand gesture in the Table Lodge—following a very different kind of fire, and before a very different form of battery—when we ritually “Point! Left! Right! Point! Left! Right! Point! Left! Right!”)

In the rituals of many (most?) lodges in the English-speaking Masonic world, we reveal to the youngest Entered Apprentice the Four Cardinal Virtues: Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance, and Justice. Of the first, we, under the Grand Lodge of New York at least, say “this virtue is equally distant from rashness and cowardice, and should be deeply impressed upon your mind.” Of the second, we explain “Prudence teaches us to regulate our lives and actions agreeably to the dictates of reason, and is that habit by which we wisely judge and determine on all things relative to our present, as well as our future, happiness.” And Temperance, of course, is that “due restraint upon the passions which renders the body tame and governable, and frees the mind from the allurements of vice.”

That fourth virtue is considered apart from the first three. Whereas Fortitude, Prudence, and Temperance concern our inner work, the refinements of heart, mind, and body, Justice causes us to look outward. It is a product of successful moral building in Fortitude, Prudence, and Temperance that we project toward others to aid in constructing a just society. The ceremony of initiation in my lodge says: “Justice is that standard which enables us to render to every man his due, without distinction. This virtue is not only consistent with Divine and human law, but is the very cement and support of society; and, as justice, in a great measure, distinguishes the good man, so should it be your practice to be just.”

The rituals most of us in America employ basically originate from the writings of William Preston, but there were other essential thinkers in Freemasonry in Preston’s time. William Hutchinson published his book The Spirit of Masonry in 1775. His book didn’t catch on quite as successfully as Preston’s Illustrations of Masonry, but, if nothing else, on the subject of Justice he thoughtfully advises:

“To walk uprightly before heaven and before men, neither inclining to the right or to the left, is the duty of a Mason, neither becoming an enthusiast or a persecutor in religion, nor bending towards innovation or infidelity. In civil government, firm in our allegiance, yet steadfast in our laws, liberties, and constitution. In private life, yielding up every selfish propensity, inclining neither to avarice or injustice, to malice or revenge, to envy or contempt with mankind, but as the builder raises his column by the plane and perpendicular, so should the Mason carry himself towards the world.”

And:

“Yet merely to act with justice and truth is not all that man should attempt, for even that excellence would be selfishness. That duty is not relative, but merely proper; it is only touching our own character, and doing nothing for our neighbor, for justice is an indispensible duty in each individual. We were not born for ourselves alone, only to shape our course through life in the tracks of tranquility, and solely to study that which should afford peace to the conscience at home, but men were made as mutual aids to each other.”

That sounds great, but where do we begin? In my April message to you, I urged we keep to the Masonic adage “Follow Reason” when trying to decode the various and changing communications from government to the public on the subject of COVID-19. This latest pandemic of rioting and destruction is said to have been ignited by a policeman’s killing of a civilian in Minnesota. The accused police officer is white; the deceased was black. It didn’t have to happen, and it shouldn’t have happened, but, for our purposes, Follow Reason holds true here too. There are facts that accountable public officials, civic leaders, news media, and others neglect to share with the American public. They have their reasons, but we have Reason. The Federal Bureau of Investigation publishes its annual Uniform Crime Report, a compendium of all kinds of data—some of them imperfect due to collection methods—concerning crime and punishment in the United States. Therein you will find how most arrest-related deaths result mostly in dead white people, and that white police officers kill white civilians. White police officers have killed black civilians. Black police officers have killed white civilians. Black police officers have killed black civilians. If fiery riots erupted after each incident, we’d be living in hell—an atmosphere of ceaseless deadly heat and no Light.

I close with more from Hutchinson: “Let us then, by our practice and conduct in life, show that we carry our emblems worthily, and as the children of the Light, we have turned our backs on works of darkness…preferring charity, benevolence, justice.”

Fiat lux. Fiat lex. Fiat pax.

Jay Hochberg
President

President’s Message, April 2020

“May you live in interesting times,” goes the saying that simultaneously rings like a blessing, but actually is anything but well-wishing. You have to admit, these are interesting days. For the first time in living memory, people everywhere live in fear of a contagion that is killing thousands worldwide and leaving countless more infected. I, for one, am not panicking.

We, as Free and Accepted Masons, are taught to train our minds so that we seek information, refine it into knowledge, and then carry on with some degree of wisdom. The truth about this COVID-19 is, yes, it is lethal to some and is present practically everywhere, but this is not the end of times. Let us, as the Moderns of the eighteenth century said in motto, “Follow Reason.”

The number of Americans diagnosed and recovered vastly exceeds the number of patients who have succumbed. In my own life, I just received word—as I write this—that my 96-year-old aunt, who had been convalescing in physical therapy following recent shoulder surgery, has died. The facility has been quarantined for weeks for everyone’s safety, but nothing is foolproof.

Oscar Alleyne, the First Vice President of the Masonic Society, is an epidemiologist who serves as chief program officer for the National Association of County and City Health Officials. Oscar earned a Doctor of Public Health Degree at New York Medical College, and he has years of experience with far more serious outbreaks (H1N1, Smallpox, MERS, West Nile, etc.). In addition appearing frequently on television to reassure a jittery public, Oscar also has been co-hosting web conferences for Masonic audiences to explain what he knows about staying safe. Seek him out in these media because I can’t avouch for a more rational source of information. For raw data, please keep up with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here. At four o’clock every weekday afternoon, the CDC updates the statistics on the nationwide total deaths and total COVID-19 cases. Right now, there have been 3,603 deaths. I recommend ignoring the “death ticker” that one self-described news channel on cable television is maintaining. The number shoots up like the dollar amount on a gas pump. If nothing else, remember the flu is killing tens of thousands of Americans this season. Funny how we don’t hear about it.

In fact, I advise against consuming too much “news media.” The initiated eye will see it is intended to hold a fearful audience captive for increased clicks or viewers or readers or whatevers. Instead, Follow Reason. We Freemasons keep our faith in God and fear no danger. We’re not imprudent but, armed with the Cardinal Virtues and the Theological Virtues, we are better able to keep healthy, safe, and sane.

If you now are coping with a lot of extra time due to interruptions in your working life, please know there are myriad sources of Masonic interaction being kept current. There are webinars hosted by lodges, grand lodges, and other groups. Podcasts abound seemingly everywhere, including the new Meet, Act and Part co-hosted by Greg Knott, the Second Vice President of the Masonic Society. Just today, Founding Fellow Piers Vaughan released his translation of an obscure French text concerning Freemasonry, Martinism, and other topics here. And wherever you are at 9 p.m., please take part in the worldwide Time to Toast, organized by the United Grand Lodge of England, when we raise our glasses to absent brethren—because right now, we all are absent until we return to less interesting times.

Fiat lux. Fiat lex. Fiat pax.

Jay Hochberg
President

TMS, Your Secretary, and COVID-19

To preface:  No, I don’t have COVID-19 🙂

However.

As much as I am not inclined to panic over a virus that’s infected only a few people in my county, I’m still taking precautions because I’m in the demographic which is considered most at risk for complications from infection (over 60, diabetic, pre-existing respiratory issues).

As a result, I am cutting way back on excursions away from my home.  Luckily I’m a permanent telecommuter at my day job, and I’ve worked from home for the past 24 years and counting, so that’s not new for me.  My wife is still going to work, but where she works is closed to the public due to an executive order of the mayor, and they’ve cut staff way back.  At this point, other than for her work, we’re really only venturing out to go to the grocery and to take things up to my mother, who lives in a senior community that’s close by.

How does this affect TMS?  The post office that hosts our mailbox is in a completely different direction from our local grocery, my mother’s apartment, and my wife’s place of work.  So that means a special trip to an area of town I rarely visit.  Generally I get over there once a week and empty the mailbox, and take over anything I have to mail out that can’t go into the mailbox at our nearby shopping center (patents in their tubes, and other packages that aren’t allowed to be dropped in the mailbox; also magazines, because I don’t want them to get bent up by other things falling on them in the mailbox).

Because I’d like to minimize my potential COVID-19 exposure, I am not going to go to the post office every week for the foreseeable future.  So dues cards, patents, back issue orders, and that sort of thing are not going to be mailed out as often.  And of course I won’t be picking up mail as often, either, so dues payments coming in via postal mail won’t be handled as quickly.  But I will get all of this taken care of as fast as possible (of course barring any further government prohibitions on individual movement, in which case nothing will happen until those prohibitions are lifted).

That being said, I am about to print and send out dues notices for the 2nd quarter of 2020.  I would like to strongly recommend that members receiving dues notices after April 1, 2020, should please consider renewing online.  You can do that right here.  It’s faster, it’s more convenient, and it means I don’t have to take as many checks to the bank (which cuts out more trips away from home).

Please note also that we are considering sending out all dues notices by email starting in the 3rd quarter of 2020.  This isn’t a COVID-19 response, but it is faster, much less expensive (free vs. 55 cents for a stamp plus whatever the envelope costs) and more convenient — primarily for me, since I’m one guy and there are many of you and that’s a lot of envelopes to stuff, seal, stamp, and mail every three months, but also for you, since the emailed notice will have an embedded direct link to the renewal form.  If you have an email on file, we’ll use it.  If you don’t, we’ll send a paper invoice this time, but we will request that you provide us an email address for future communications.  Postage is just getting too expensive and with rare exception, everyone has email these days.  (If there is absolutely no way for us to send you an email (and we do have a few people in that situation) we will continue to send a paper invoice.)

We’re also working on building a member portal where you won’t have to type in all your information when renewal time comes up; it will let you see what we have on file for you, and you can enter changes at the same time you pay your renewal.  That’s probably not going to be ready for a while, but we are working on it.

Brethren, I hope and pray that this troubled time is soon past us, but in the meantime, I urge all of you — particularly those of you who share my category of risk — to keep your social distance, wash your hands, and stay well.  If your Grand Lodge has shut down Masonic activity in your jurisdiction, and you’re looking for something Masonic to while away the time, I can do no better than to suggest taking a look at WBro. Chris Hodapp’s blog post, “Traveling Without Moving: Masonic Improvement During the COVID-19 Panic”.

As the MW Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York has exhorted his members, “Masonry Never Stops.”

So Mote It Be.

Fraternally,
Nathan C. Brindle, Secretary-Treasurer
The Masonic Society

 

Accept no substitutes

We were informed this morning that a Facebook Group formerly calling itself the “Global Fraternal Network” has changed its name to “The Masonic Society”.

The Masonic Society is not associated with the Global Fraternal Network in any way.  The name change was made without our approval or any prior request.  The owners of the Global Fraternal Network are not members of The Masonic Society.

We have notified Facebook of this clear attempt to hijack the good name of TMS, and have changed the name of our Facebook group to “The Masonic Society – Official Facebook Page”.  Here is the link to our group.

The only other Facebook presence with official TMS sanction is the page The Journal of The Masonic Society.

Any other Facebook group purporting to call itself “The Masonic Society” has no permission to do so and should be considered illegitimate and spurious.

The Masonic Society, Inc., was formed and incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation under the laws of the State of Indiana in 2008, and has been recognized as a 501(c)(4) not for profit by the Internal Revenue Service since 2011. It has operated continuously since that time under the name and logos found on this site.

For members of the Valley of Houston

I was informed yesterday of a very nice article that appeared in the “Houston Scottish Rite News and Updates 01-07-2020” email regarding the Journal of The Masonic Society, specifically pointing out that one of their members (Bro. E. Raul Sarmiento, 32° KCCH) had an article in the current issue (#47), and encouraging members of the Valley to join The Masonic Society and get our Journal.  We’d like to thank the Valley of Houston for their praise, and for boosting of TMS.

That being said, there is one small error in the email.  It states

Membership in the Masonic Society is $45 per year. It is a good bargain, considering that you not only receive quarterly Issues of the Journal itself, but also a copy of the Heredom, The Transactions of the Scottish Rite Research Society. Now 29 Volumes in total and a high priority in masonic libraries, both institutional and personal, the Heredom moto “Let the unlearned learn, let the experts love to remember” is a taste of what you will find within its pages.

Now, while we yield to none in our vast admiration for Heredom, unfortunately it’s not our publication, and we don’t have any way to send you a copy of it.  Heredom is the annual publication of the Scottish Rite Research Society, an arm of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, USA.  To get copies of Heredom, you have to contact the SRRS.

We don’t know who originated the copy for this article but there was clearly a misunderstanding somewhere along the line.  For our part, we apologize if this error motivated members of the Valley of Houston to join TMS thinking they would receive that promised copy of Heredom.  But we hope you’ll stick with us for four quality issues of The Journal of The Masonic Society in the coming year.

New Book Review Editor

From Mike Poll, Editor in Chief of the Journal of the Masonic Society:

I have an announcement to make concerning the Journal of The Masonic Society that I am not happy about and a second one that does bring me pleasure. First, it is with regret that I announce the retirement of Bro. Tyler Anderson as Book Review editor of the Journal. I have every much enjoyed working with Bro. Anderson and his work for the Society has been outstanding. We all wish him the greatest success in the future.

So, who will be the new Book Review Editor? That brings me to the second announcement. It is with pleasure that I announce the appointment of Bro. and Dr. Michael Moran as the new Book Review Editor of the Journal of The Masonic Society. Bro. Moran comes to us with considerable editorial experience and has been a frequent contributor to the Journal. I know Bro. Moran from his work with the Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge and do look forward to working with him. I know he will bring the Journal top quality work and reviews.

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