Category Archive: News

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.

Editor’s Corner, JTMS Issue 46 (Autumn 2019): The Journal of The Masonic Society

The Journal of The Masonic Society

by Michael R. Poll, FMS

In 2008, the premiere edition of the Journal of the Masonic Society was released. The Journal was a new, shiny publication that followed the new, shiny Masonic Society. Our first President was Roger VanGorden and our Editor in Chief was Chris Hodapp. We hit a clear home run in both the Journal and the society itself. We were new, fresh, and very different.

From the beginning, the Journal was designed to be (in the words of Roger VanGorden) the “Time Magazine” of Masonic publications. We publish a blend of scholarly papers and educational/engaging nonacademic papers. We want papers that benefit, enlighten, challenge, and inspire you. We are very open to new ideas for papers. We will (and have) published first time authors side by side with some of the bright lights of Masonic literature.

I am delighted with the number of quality papers that we are receiving. But, we are beginning to have a problem with the formatting of a number of the papers sent in to us. We publish papers in a style used by general interest magazines. The papers must be easy to read and follow. The formatting that we need (especially the citation of notes) is simple and given in the Submission Guidelines on our website. In fact, I’m reprinting the guidelines below. Please read the guidelines as well as the papers published in the Journal before submitting papers. If helpful, you can also look up the Chicago Manual of Style and generally use that formatting. We want the Journal to be easy to read, uniform in presentation and pleasing to the eye and mind.

We want and need good papers. Please read our guidelines, follow them, and send us your papers.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

Needs:

We are looking for solid Masonic educational or historical works; interesting new takes on old Masonic philosophical, ritualistic or membership themes; unique papers on leadership or lodge improvement or photo essays of any interesting Masonic subject. We are also interested in well written papers on any of the related esoteric/metaphysical subjects. In short, if your paper grabs the reader in the first few lines, we are interested.

What To Send:

E-mail your paper to editor@themasonicsociety.com. Printed submissions sent via postal mail will not be considered unless you have contacted us first.

Submissions need to be in Microsoft Word. Keep the formatting basic. Use end notes, not footnotes. Do not use headers or footers other than page numbers. Do not include any special formatting. Keep the text as simple as possible. Do not use paragraph formatting in your document, simply double space for a paragraph break. Use single space, not double space for the text.

It is OK to use italics or bold text if necessary. In citing publications, use italics and not underline text.

Include a short author bio. and photograph.

Submitting Images

If you have images or illustrations (we encourage them), send them separately from the text file. Do NOT embed images in your Word file. In the text, use brackets around an image place holder. For example: [insert “image #1” here] The image file should contain an image by the same name (image #1.). We will then know which image to place in the area held by the place holder. Due to the nature of text and the size of both the image and the columns, we cannot guarantee exactly where the image will fall in the text.

Images should be no less than 300 dpi. If you find an image on the internet, it will likely be 72 dpi – that means poor quality for printing. If you increase the dpi of an image from a low resolution (dpi) to a larger one, you will not be increasing the quality. You will only be making a poor-quality image larger. If the image you send is of a quality that will not reproduce well, we may not use it. If you have questions, write us.

Rights

Each issue of the Journal is under a collective copyright by The Masonic Society. Authors own all rights to their work. Authors grant to the Journal first publication rights. Do not submit papers to us that have been published elsewhere, or which you are simultaneously submitting to others for publication, without first letting us know. Do not submit anything to us that is under copyright to anyone else without first letting us know and without YOUR obtaining all permissions to use the work in the Journal. If you have questions, write us.

 

2020 Annual Dinner and Meeting

The Masonic Society - Logo

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

The 2020 Annual Dinner and Meeting
of
The Masonic Society

At Masonic Week 2020
The Hyatt Regency Crystal City at Reagan National Airport
Arlington, Virginia

Friday Evening, February 7, 2020
Gather at 6:45 PM
Dinner at 7:15 PM

Featured Speaker:
WBro. Mark Tabbert
“A Deserving Brother: George Washington and Freemasonry”
A discussion of WBro. Tabbert’s recent research that went into his new book on the subject.

All Freemasons and Ladies are Welcome!

Please make all reservations through the Masonic Week 2020 Website (note NEW LINK):

http://www.amdusa.org/MasonicWeek/

Registration form link:  http://www.amdusa.org/MasonicWeek/RegistrationForm.html

PLEASE NOTE:
The Masonic Society will not have tickets for sale.
All tickets MUST be purchased in advance from the Masonic Week organizers; see links above.
Tickets will NOT be available at the door.
Dinner price per person:  $55

RESERVATIONS MUST BE MADE AND CHECKS RECEIVED BY THE MASONIC WEEK STAFF BY THEIR DEADLINE — PLEASE CHECK THE MASONIC WEEK WEBSITE FOR DETAILS.


Sorry — No TMS Masonic Week Hospitality Suite in 2020

Unfortunately, we are not in a position to operate a hospitality suite this year.  We know this is a popular activity and we look forward to returning to hosting a suite in 2021.  Please catch us in the lobby bar or in other places around the Week.

GL of Nebraska Issues Disaster Relief Appeal

The Grand Lodge of Nebraska AF&AM has issued a disaster appeal for Masons and their families across the state. The following message was posted yesterday:

Nebraska has experienced historic flooding in the eastern part of the state and devastating blizzards in central and western Nebraska, with major loss of farm and ranching assets and income in the month of March 2019. Many of our Nebraska Masonic family members have no doubt been affected by these catastrophic events and will need assistance to get back on their feet. Here’s how you can help.

DONATIONS

The Nebraska Masonic Relief Fund is collecting monetary donations that will be dispersed to Masonic family members affected by the floods and storms through an application process. If the donations exceed the needs of our Masonic family, the funds will be donated to other flood and storm relief efforts. Those interested in making a financial donation to support relief efforts can do so by clicking the Donate button below.

Donations can also be mailed to Grand Lodge of Nebraska, 301 N Cotner Blvd., Lincoln, NE 68505. Checks should be made payable to Grand Lodge Relief Fund, with flood/storm relief in the memo field.

Thank you so much for your support of this relief effort.

There is a direct Paypal link on their website to make donations online. CLICK HERE.

According to a report at noon today, the floods have affected 80% of the state of Nebraska, and the statewide estimates of damage exceed $1.3 billion so far. At this time, 89 cities and 77 77 counties have made emergency declarations. Many other parts of the Midwest, including South Dakota and Iowa, have also been affected by the disaster.

These types of fraternity-wide disaster appeals normally go through the MSA to take advantage of their international network and tax deductibility, but they haven’t taken that step just yet. As of Tuesday night, the Grand Lodge of Nebraska had not yet determined that there was enough damage and need within the Masonic family to request assistance from outside of the state. However, the floodwaters keep rising across Nebraska today, and the GS office continues to receive new reports.

They will determine by Friday whether or not a full-throated MSA appeal is required.

H/T to Thomas L. Hauder, PGM

Secretary’s Minute: A tale of two elevators

I have a backlog of requests — including several shopping cart orders — that have been held up because our storage area at Indiana Freemasons Hall has been inaccessible to me due to both of the Hall’s elevators being out of commission.  This situation started back in November (possibly in late October, I can’t find the emails right now) and took several months to resolve, at least partly because the elevators are in one case original to the building (1909) and in the other case a 1950’s era replacement using a refurbished car, controls, and elevator machine that had come out of a department store in downtown Indianapolis.  Finding parts for both of these elevators is often an exercise in patience and near-futility — one of the elevators needed a part a couple of years ago that literally had to be cast from a special metal that almost nobody uses anymore, at least not for that purpose.

The repair process was dealt a setback due to a tragic death in the building superintendent’s family at right about the same time, which took him out of state for a couple of weeks, and left the whole situation sitting, unresolved, until he was able to return.  I can hardly blame him under the circumstances, and nobody else is, either.

But getting beyond the purely technical and personal problems with getting the elevators repaired…

Due to the elevator problem, I was unable to get to our storage area on the fourth floor because I simply can’t climb that many stairs anymore, and certainly wasn’t in a position to climb back down with hands full of merchandise, either.  So all of these requests and orders hung fire waiting on the elevator repairs.

I can report that the elevators WERE repaired, finally, in late February, and were waiting for state-required inspections before they could be used by the public.  Those inspections were done last week and the elevators passed, and I now have access to our storage area again.

So if you are waiting for an order (and there are a couple that date from about the time the elevators went down), or had made a request either before or after that period that I have not yet fulfilled or responded to, please accept my apologies for the delay and be aware that I will be trying to get all of that backlog dealt with over the next couple of weeks.

We are also planning to move TMS’s property out of the Hall and into a brand new, climate-controlled secure warehouse near my home.  This will speed up my ability to handle such requests in the future (as well as cost the Society less money in rent), as over time I have spent less and less time at Freemasons’ Hall due to no longer being connected with the Masonic groups that meet there.  In hindsight, we probably should have made this move several years ago, but until the beginning of 2017 I was still in the Hall on a fairly regular basis.

I would like again to thank the brethren for their patience and apologize for the long wait some of you have experienced in getting your items.

Sincerely and fraternally,
Nathan Brindle, Secretary-Treasurer
The Masonic Society

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