Category Archive: News

Editor’s Corner, JTMS Issue 44 (Spring 2019): The Art of Failure

The Art of Failure

by Michael R. Poll, FMS

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

~ Winston Churchill

A few years ago I visited a lodge to attend a Masonic function. Before the meeting, I noticed the Worshipful Master sitting downstairs in a corner by himself. He looked like the weight of the world was on him.  I went over to him and sat down. We began talking about life and Masonry. I then told him that he seemed troubled and asked if there was anything wrong.  He said that he was frustrated because everything he tried to do in his lodge seemed to fail. He said that he had planned a lecture at one meeting with a good speaker. He publicized the meeting and began talking about it when he was Senior Warden. At the night of the lecture, there was hardly enough members present to open the lodge. He was hurt and embarrassed. At another meeting, he spoke on having a lodge barbeque. Arguments broke out among the members as to where to hold the event. One member was so angry at the venue selected that he stormed out of the lodge vowing never to return. The lodge was not very large, but it seemed split in two or three factions. Each group had their own opinions and showed no interest at all in working with the other groups. The young Brother seemed to be at his wit’s end. He said that he just felt like quitting everything.

I believe that we have to realize that success and failure are subjective terms. With some lodges, it is fair to say that the Worshipful Master had a successful year simply because he was able to open the lodge for most of the meetings. The bar is higher with other lodges. But, the reality is that our goals as Masons are personal goals. Freemasonry gives us the tools with which we can improve ourselves as human beings. Our responsibility is to improve ourselves. It is not our responsibility, nor is it our right, to try to force anyone else to “improve.”  This assumes that we know what is best for others. It assumes that our knowledge of their path is greater than their own knowledge of it. It also denies the other of any benefit from a change that might be forced on them. We improve by making personal decisions and finding what is right for us. We may well believe that someone is completely on the wrong path. We may believe that they are lost and in serious need of help — our help. With that belief, we interfere in their lives. But, by forcing them in a direction that we believe is right, we may be denying them the ability to learn from their own mistakes. We don’t improve ourselves, or others, by forcing unwanted interference. This goes for individuals or groups such as a lodge.

Many lodges seem to have personalities of their own, not unlike people.  You may find lodges that are warm and friendly with outstretched hands to visitors, others that are cold and unresponsive. Some lodges just feel and act successful with everything running like clockwork and others clearly struggling. Most importantly, some lodges openly seek assistance and others do not, at all, desire it.  Lodges can be like people. With some lodges, you can quickly become friends. Other lodges just do not have the qualities that you desire.  You can’t (no matter how hard you try) be good friends with everyone.

It is not a failure to recognize that you are not on the same page as a person or a lodge. We all travel different paths and that is the same with lodges. The blame game helps no one. We are in a time when some lodges desire the deeper aspects of Freemasonry. They want to grow with the tools our ancient Brethren used and in the same manner as they use them. But, other lodges wish a simpler life. It is the right of everyone to choose their own path.  If you are in a lodge and nothing you try works, don’t be disappointed. The lodge may simply be on a different path than you. We all have that right. Move on to another lodge that may be moving more in line with your views of Masonry. It is not disloyal. It’s not a failure. The only failure is when you remain with something that you know is wrong for you.

Issue 41 Erratum

It has come to my attention that the membership application form in the Summer 2018 issue of the Journal was printed with the wrong mailing address.

Please be aware that mail sent to that address will be returned to sender.

The correct mailing address for the Society is PO Box 80126, Indianapolis, IN 46280-0126.

We regret the error and apologize for any inconvenience.

Secretary’s Minute

For anyone who is wondering why I have been very silent for the last couple of weeks, particularly anyone who has recently joined or renewed but hasn’t yet received a response from me — We went on vacation two weeks ago today and I thought I had added a vacation notice to the join and renew pages like I normally do, to indicate that I would be out of the office and not processing anything until today (7/2/2018).  Apparently I neglected to do that, for which my apologies.

I am working through the backlog now and will be sending out cards and (to new members) patents and pins and all the stuff.  If I owe you back issues, that will be handled as well.  I know I have at least one order hanging in the store and that will be taken care of this week.

By the way:  We have a pretty extensive stock of back issues.  The only ones not available are #2 and #5 (we simply don’t have any left to sell).  We’d really like to move these back issues out, so if you have any interest (or want a set for your lodge, whatever), please navigate over to https://themasonicsociety.com/store and see what’s on offer.  Back issues are $5 each for US and Canada ($10 each for other overseas purchasers, because even 1st Class standard flats are priced ruinously when they go anywhere but the US and Canada).  Note:  If you are an overseas purchaser, and you want to order a large number of back issues (we’ll say more than 5), please DO NOT use the store to order your magazines — instead, email me directly at secretary -at- themasonicsociety.com and I will work up an exact quote for you for the postage.

Thanks for your patience, sorry for my forgetfulness, and thank you for being a member of The Masonic Society!

— Nathan Brindle, Secretary-Treasurer

Freemason’s Tour: Scotland and England

We have been informed of a Freemason’s Tour of Scotland and England, which is to take place between September 12 and 22, 2018.  A brochure in PDF format can be downloaded here: Scotland England Tour


* Please note that The Masonic Society is not associated in any way with this tour and is providing the PDF brochure as a courtesy to the Fraternity only.  The Masonic Society will not respond to or forward any inquiries regarding the tour.  Please direct all communication regarding the tour to the contact person listed in the brochure if you are interested in joining the tour. *


 

President’s Address, 2018 Annual Meeting

The following was read on behalf of WBro. Davis at the 2018 Annual Meeting of The Masonic Society on February 9, 2018, in Alexandria, Virginia.


Brethren and guests,

I regret that treatment for prostate cancer prevents my attending this meeting, but I know I am leaving it in good hands.

In October 2015, my predecessor, Jim Dillman, called and chaired a board retreat in St. Louis, Missouri, to set strategic goals for The Masonic Society. We were one vote short of a quorum, so the gathering was not an official board meeting, but several of us attending said that the meeting was one of the most productive we had ever participated in. At the meeting, we set three initiatives for the next two years, and distributed them to the members for online discussion.

I subsequently, before taking office at Masonic Week 2016, talked with each board member separately, as well as other key members of TMS, and learned their own priorities and commitments.

Our first initiative was an annual TMS conference, and indeed we had TMS’s first two annual conferences, a small but excellent one in San Jose, California, in October 2016, organized by board member Gregg Hall, and a larger one in Lexington, Kentucky, in September 2017, organized by board member John Bizzack. Chris Hodapp, editor emeritus of the Journal of The Masonic Society, called it “one of the very best and most useful Masonic symposiums I’ve attended in a long time.”

My own hope is that TMS Conferences will attract and serve not only Masonic leaders and researchers, as Masonic Week does so effectively, but also more and more of the many Masons who have, perhaps only recently, become interested in the history, philosophy, and symbolism of the Craft. If they attend only one national Masonic event, I hope it will be ours.

But conferences are expensive, and require an extraordinary amount of planning and preparation time, so our now-available funds and volunteers may not be able to support an annual conference. Increasing our membership may allow us to continue annual conferences, but for now at least, we may be able to hold conferences only biannually.

Our second initiative was a TMS School. So far, the school has offered one course, in the history and philosophy of Freemasonry, created and conducted online by Michael Poll, editor of our journal. The board has begun discussing another TMS School program, an educational tour of Masonic sites in the UK, organized by board member Greg Knott.

Our third initiative was a TMS Scholar program, to offer financial support for a major project by a selected Masonic researcher, who in turn would be available to speak to lodges of research and other Masonic organizations during his or her term of service. Planning for this initiative is ongoing.

And I know that many of you share my view that under Mike Poll’s editorship, The Journal of the Masonic Society continues to be Freemasonry’s leading periodical.

My personal highlight during my term as president occurred a year ago, at Masonic Week 2017, when board member Greg Knott and his lodge brother Todd Creason arranged for past president Jim Dillman and me, representing TMS, to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, at Arlington Cemetery. We did so, in full Masonic regalia. I was especially honored to be allowed, as a veteran, to render a hand salute to our fallen heroes.

In conclusion, it has been an honor for me to serve as The Masonic Society’s president during the last two years. It has been a pleasure to know and work with my brother directors and officers, as well as many other TMS members. I am very optimistic about the society’s future.

Again, I’m sorry I can’t be among you tonight. But I know you’ll proceed to meet on the level, act by the plumb, and part on the square.

Fraternally and sincerely,

Ken Davis, President, The Masonic Society

Enough is Enough

The United Grand Lodge of England has determined to take a public stand against Anti-Masonry, after a series of articles slandering the Fraternity appeared in the Guardian newspaper last week.  We reproduce here, in full, their CEO’s statement of this morning.  Please feel free to share from the UGLE website and/or from their Facebook page.


What follows is a personal letter by our CEO Dr David Staples. This has also been placed as a full page advert in The Times and Daily Telegraph

At the United Grand Lodge of England, we value honesty, integrity and service to the community above all else. Last year we raised over £33 million for good causes.

As an organisation we welcome individuals from all walks of life, of any faith, age, class or political persuasion. Throughout our 300 year history, when people have suffered discrimination Freemasonry has embraced them into our lodges as equals.

The United Grand Lodge of England believes that the ongoing gross misrepresentation of its 200,000 plus members is discrimination. Pure and simple.

We owe it to our membership to take this stance, they shouldn’t have to feel undeservedly stigmatised. No other organisation would stand for this and nor shall we.

I have written to the Equality and Human Rights Commission to make this case.

I appreciate that you may have questions about who we are and what we do, so over the next six months our members will be running a series of open evenings and Q&A events up and down the country. These will be promoted in the local media and on our website.

I am also happy to answer any queries directly. Please feel free to write to me here at Freemasons’ Hall, 60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ and I will come back to you.

We’re open.

Dr David Staples
Chief Executive
United Grand Lodge of England

Tenth Annual Dinner and Meeting

The Masonic Society - Logo

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

The Tenth Annual Dinner and Meeting
of
The Masonic Society

At Masonic Week 2018
The Hyatt Regency Crystal City at Reagan National Airport
Arlington, Virginia

Friday Evening, February 9, 2018
Gather at 6:00 PM
Dinner at 6:30 PM

Featured Speaker:
WBro. Eric Diamond

All Freemasons and Ladies are Welcome!

Please make all reservations through the Masonic Week 2018 Website:

http://yorkrite.org/MasonicWeek

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

RESERVATIONS MUST BE MADE AND CHECKS RECEIVED BY THE MASONIC WEEK STAFF BY FEBRUARY 1, 2018.


Sorry — No TMS Masonic Week Hospitality Suite in 2018

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 2019.  Please catch us in the lobby bar or in other places around the Week.

TMS Change of Postal Address Effective 29 Dec 2017

UPDATE, 21 Aug 2018:  The membership application form in Issue #41 of the Journal (Summer 2018) incorrectly contains the OLD mailing address.  If you are signing up by postal mail, please be sure to use the NEW mailing address, or your mail will be returned.  We regret the error and apologize for any inconvenience.

We also continue to receive dues payments via bank-generated checks that are addressed to the OLD address.  If you pay your dues this way, please take the time to log into your bank portal and change the Payee Address for The Masonic Society accordingly.  We cannot guarantee that mail sent to the old address will continue to be forwarded, as it has now been over six months since we registered the change of address with the USPS.  Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.


TMS was given notice this morning that our private mailbox provider is shutting down at close of business tomorrow (30 Dec 2017).  So I did a bit of a dance to get new mailing address in place today.

All postal mail should now be sent to the following address:

The Masonic Society
PO Box 80126
Indianapolis, IN 46280-0126
USA

Anything that comes in to the old address starting Tuesday, January 2, 2018, will be returned to the post office (luckily, the same one where we just rented a box) and held for me to pick up, so hopefully we will not lose any mail.  I picked up the mail today (29 Dec) and processed received payments from members 02366 and 02912.  I will check again tomorrow (30 Dec) and pick up anything else that has been delivered by that time.  After tomorrow, I will check once or twice a week at the post office for any mail returned from the 1427 W 86th St address.

If mail is returned to you from the 1427 W 86th St address, please resend it to the new PO Box, or, if it was a renewal, you might consider renewing online instead.

Thanks for your understanding.  We certainly had no idea this was going to happen, or we would have made the change months ago.

S&F,

Nathan Brindle, Secretary-Treasurer

At The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier

At The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor

Todd E. Creason, 33°

Reprinted by permission

The first time I saw the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery, I was five years old. We were in Washington, D.C. on a family vacation. I remember it very clearly. That solemn ceremony left a very deep impression on me. I’ve watched on television as Presidents on Memorial Day have laid the Memorial Day wreath many times, and every time, I’m struck with that same sense–a mixture of American pride, patriotism, honor, and deep respect for the sacrifices that have been made in the name of freedom.

Two years ago, I saw the changing of the guard again–more than forty years later. Fellow Midnight Freemason Greg Knott and I flew to Washington D.C. for a Masonic event, and less than an hour after the plane landed at Ronald Reagan International Airport, we were standing at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Boy Scouts were there that day, and during the changing of the guard, they presented a wreath–the same exact ceremony the President takes part in on Memorial Day. We both knew what we wanted to do on our next trip out–to place a wreath on behalf of Freemasons everywhere to honor our fallen heroes. In February, we were able to do just that. Greg and I on behalf of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and with the blessing of Our Grand Master of Illinois, Anthony Cracco. We also asked the President and Past President of The Masonic Society to join us–Kenneth Davis and James Dillman were only too happy to do so.

The reality didn’t really set in until I was standing at the top of the steps looking out over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the cemetery beyond as the Relief Commander slowly ascended the steps before us. The wreath we provided was already in place waiting for us as we descended together in step.

It was about thirty-five degrees with a thirty mile-per-hour wind, but the four of us barely felt the bracing cold. We were there to represent Freemasonry, so we left our winter jackets behind in favor of our suits, jewels, aprons, and gloves. We were about to honor our fallen veterans on behalf of Freemasons everywhere by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider.

Once the wreath was placed, a soldier played Taps. It was an indescribably moving experience listening to Taps as I fixated on words on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier: HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD. It was an experience I don’t think any of us will ever forget. I certainly won’t.

Left to right: Todd E. Creason, Gregory J. Knott, James Dillman, Kenneth Davis

Afterwards, we stood and watched the guard for some time. It occurred to me that there had been a guard watching the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, uninterrupted, since I’d been there as a five year old child. It was that important. And the honor of being able to serve in that capacity is considered one of the highest honors in military service.

As we left the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a funeral procession was in progress–something that happens on average twenty-four times a day at Arlington National Cemetery. Greg Knott and I walked to a large tree in the center of one of the plots to get a better view. As the horse drawn cassion passed with the flag draped coffin on top, and I looked out across the cemetery at the thousands and thousands of identical stones, I was struck by the high price Americans have paid for freedom. And yet it’s a price that generation after generation of Americans have continued to pay, because in the end, there is nothing more important to who we are as the American people than those freedoms provided us under the United States Constitution.

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33°, FMLR is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog, where he is a regular contributor. He is the award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog. He is the Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754, where is currently serves as Secretary. He is the Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research. (FMLR) and a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

This article was originally published on The Midnight Freemasons website, and is reproduced here with WBro. Creason’s kind permission. WBro. Creason retains all rights to his article. Please contact him directly for republication permission.

Original URL: http://www.midnightfreemasons.org/2017/03/at-tomb-of-unknown-soldier.html

Paul Bessel’s Website Up and Running Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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