Wednesday, May 12, 2021

‘BBC video today is latest publicity win’


A three-minute video from the BBC today is the latest in a number of recent positive portrayals of Freemasonry in British news media following the release of the United Grand Lodge of England’s 2020 Annual Report.

I know what you’re thinking: “British journalism, Eddie—best in the world.”

Well, have a look. Click here for “Freemasons: Young people ‘on waiting lists’ to join notoriously secretive society.”

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

‘Pennsylvania Lodge of Research’


Pennsylvania Lodge of Research will meet next month in Conshohocken for its Installation of Officers and to hear Moises present a paper. From the publicity:

Pennsylvania Lodge
of Research
Saturday, June 26
10 a.m. to noon
Fritz Lodge 308
RSVP (a must) here

Agenda items to include:

  • Installation of Officers, including the Brother Senior Warden, Yasser Al-Khatib, being seated in the Solomonic chair.
  • Moises Gomez, the Right Worshipful Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey, to present “Freemasonry in Cuba.”
  • Lodge business and lunch.

1801 Fayette Street in Conshohocken.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

‘A look at the Philly Temple’

The executive director of the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia will be available Saturday for an online talk on what it’s like to manage one of the magnificent Masonic landmarks in the United States. From the publicity:

An Executive Director’s
Look at the Masonic Temple
Saturday, May 15
3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Reserve here

Hear from Masonic Library and Museum Executive Director Mike McKee on what it’s like to lead the Temple. He will take you through the daily maintenance operation and event management. Both will show and hold true to Masonic principles.

Michael McKee
Since 2019, Bro. Michael D. McKee, of Jerusalem Lodge 506, has overseen operations for the Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania as its executive director. Previously he was director of compliance and risk management for the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. He has a B.S. in business administration from Peirce College and an Executive M.B.A. from Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business.

Friday, May 7, 2021

‘Three held in thwarted lodge attack plot’

French authorities arrested six today, having prevented their alleged plot to attack a Masonic lodge in eastern Moselle, according to news reports and a statement from the Grand Lodge of France.

Three of the suspects were held and were referred to anti-terrorism prosecutors for possible indictments, said the Associated Press, which cited French media in labeling the suspects “neo-nazis.”

The trio, two men and a woman, already were being surveilled by police, said the AP, attributing the information to Le Monde.

Grand Master Pierre-Marie Adam released this statement via social media:

Click to enlarge.

Adam said he is amazed by the news of the alleged plot, and he praised law enforcement for their speed and efficiency.

The Grand Lodge of France is not the French jurisdiction that enjoys fraternal relations with grand lodges in the United States. (Instead it is the National Grand Lodge of France, established 1913, that has ties to the Anglo-American Masonic world.)


Monday, May 3, 2021

‘The Order of the Phantom Knighthood’

Why can’t the makers of crappy movies leave us alone?

Incidentally, this is the kind of nonsense inspired by silly neo-templarism.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

‘Brethren and allies in the Masonic war’

Allies Day, May 1917 is an oil-on-canvas by American artist Childe Hassam from 1917. It is said to be the most famous of his ‘flag paintings,’ and it captures a scene on Fifth Avenue, not far from his studio.

If you remember the game show Concentration, you may appreciate pattern recognition skills. This edition of The Magpie Mason is inspired by a match made of mind in me while reading a book of Grand Lodge proceedings and recollecting the painting above.

On this date, and at this very hour, in 1917, the Grand Lodge of New York opened its 136th Annual Communication inside the Grand Lodge Room of Masonic Hall, off Fifth Avenue.

Among the orators that day were Bro. Theodore Roosevelt, former President of the United States—whose remarks deserve their own Magpie post—and a Brother Mason visiting from Canada.

Less than a month earlier, the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany, bringing America into what we today term World War I.

The Canadian visitor was The Hon. William Renwick Ridell, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ontario. With his nation being integral to the British Empire, and having deployed an enormous number of troops—disproportionate to its population, in fact—to France and Flanders, Ridell could not have neglected to discuss the war that day. The comforting notion of Freemasonry transcending nationalities to cement a Brotherhood of Man has its practical limits, you understand.

I can’t reproduce Ridell’s complete remarks here, so I’ll zero in on what prompted my memory of Childe Hassam’s Impressionist painting Allies Day, May 1917.

Most Worshipful Sir and Brother Masons: I was prepared this afternoon to make a set speech. I prepared myself with manuscript and notes. I threw them away after the reception which I have received from you, my brethren of the United States, and I shall speak to you as a brother—as an American, if you will, because I was born on the Continent of North America, and a Briton as I am to my fingertips, and Canadian to the last drop of my blood, I claim the privilege and the heritage which Americans have wrought out for Canadians and Americans and Britons together. ...

But our Masonry as we know it, our Speculative Masonry as we know it, the Ancient Free and Accepted Masonry as we know it—it was organized and placed in systematic form and made eternal by the work of the English Masons who had drunk deep of that which characterized the Masons and that which characterized the Englishmen, that which characterizes all those who have received even a part of their institutions from old England: liberty.

Let it not be forgotten, Oh you Americans, proud of your own United States and of your Declaration of Independence—let it not be forgotten that the Declaration of Independence is the last outcome of the long struggle for liberty which took place in the little island from the time of the Dark Ages—because the English could never willingly bow the knee to the tyrant, and he was the only man throughout the ages—and I am not even excepting my own ancestors of Scotland—the only man throughout the ages who never yet bowed the knee to a tyrant. That freedom which characterizes English Freemasonry characterizes our own Freemasonry. When we are told that when English Freemasonry was introduced into France and Germany that which characterized it most was its brotherhood, we begin to appreciate the significance of our brotherhood. It was Masonry’s brotherhood which attracted the attention of the Frenchmen and which attracted the attention of the Germans, and it was its brotherhood which was the great theme throughout all these lodges which had their origin, which spring out from the great mother across the sea. ...

This is a Masonic war. This is a war for that which Masonry has always stood, for which Masons stand, for which Masonry must always stand, unless it denieth itself and sells itself for a mess of pottage. This is a war for the brotherhood of the world. This is a war for that which is the finest characterization in public life of the democracy of the Masonic life, of the brotherhood of the Masonic Lodge: democracy. ...

Masonry is democracy; true Masonry is democracy. There are no grades in Masonry. The degrees in Masonry are open to all honest men alike. Those there are indeed in authority over us, but those are elected by the free vote of their fellow Masons. There is no King or Kaiser or Czar born to govern and born to rule. Masonry is in itself democracy, and it is for that reason that this war should appeal to all Masons. ...

Coming down Fifth Avenue today I saw a sight that made my heart leap for joy: The Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, hanging in the center, flanked by the Tricolor of France and the blood red banner of England. That is the place for the American flag. It is the place for the American flag to be in advance of both those flags and between them. There was the American Revolution, sir, which was the origin and spur for the French Revolution, and it was that thin line of farmers which stood embattled on Bunker Hill, owing little to the recruiting officers and none to the drill sergeants, but everything to their own strong hearts and determination to be free, it was that thin line of farmers standing on Bunker Hill which forced democracy, which was nearly dead in England, which forced democracy to the front. ... If the United States spends their last man and last dollar, it is their intention that the very soul of Masonry shall not die from off the face of the earth.

Childe Hassam (1859-1935) studied in Paris in the late 1880s. While he is considered an Impressionist, and does employ those techniques here, he also uses an architectural precision that you can see in the many clear lines that shape the pieces in the composition.

It was the June 29, 2020 post of the great Ephemeral New York blog that introduced me to this artist and this painting. I find this image so gripping I remembered it immediately upon reading Ridell’s description of the scene.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

‘The ALR and YOU, Part II’


I’ll close out a pretty inactive month of April with the encouraging news coming from The American Lodge of Research.

Twenty-four hours ago, a Zoom meeting was co-hosted by Grand Master Bill Sardone, Junior Grand Warden Oscar Alleyne, and ALR WM Henry Abel to announce plans and to listen to ideas concerning returning the lodge to its urgent and prestigious labors.

1. There will be elections and installations of officers on June 29 at Masonic Hall. If I understand correctly, there will be an infusion of new leadership. I do not know any names of who may become involved in moving the lodge forward. Henry did state he doesn’t want to be Master for the rest of his life, and he will step aside.

2. Improving communications with the lodge’s brethren and with the fraternity at large is a vital goal. For years there has been no website, no social media presence, and, to my knowledge, contact only with a limited number of ALR members. Fair enough, perhaps, since there haven’t been any meetings either.

3. It wasn’t defined in detail, but there is to be a kind of working relationship with the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library. As you know, the library has maintained a longstanding monthly schedule of popular lectures. There is a lot of logic in the two institutions collaborating on projects of mutual interest. If I’m not mistaken, the library and the lodge were created by many of the same Masons way back when, so we’re close family.

Surely other things to do will arise as progress develops. For my part, I volunteered to assist with reigniting The ALR’s social media activity. (I do that for other lodges and Masonic groups, including New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education’s Faceypage.) I also made myself available to the fledgling officer line. I had served in the Deacons’ chairs for a total of three years long ago, and with 19 years of experience in New Jersey’s research lodge, and as president of the Masonic Society, maybe I can help there. I definitely would want to discuss making a few logistical changes to The ALR.

We’ll know more in two months.


Saturday, April 17, 2021

‘Raise your glass to Horus Lodge’

With all the gods of ancient Egypt that were connected to the brewing and drinking of beer, it’s unexpected how the Masonic Craft Beer Society would inherit Horus Lodge, but that’s how it shook out.

Named, warranted, and consecrated in 1906, the lodge met in various London neighborhoods before settling into Great Queen Street in 1942, according to Lane’s Masonic Records. Numbered 3155, the lodge is among the founders of the Metropolitan Grand Lodge and also is a Hall Stone Lodge.

The MCBS announced yesterday that Horus 3155 is now the official lodge of the society. Two meetings a year, on third Saturdays in May (Installation) and October (Regular Meeting), at Freemason’s Hall.

Membership is open to brethren from outside the United Grand Lodge of England (providing, of course, your grand lodge is in amity). Dues and fees, including dining fees, are stated here.

Every meeting shall feature the wares of a different craft brewery. Maybe they’ll be able to arrange something with these guys in California.

Courtesy MCBS

Best wishes to you, brethren! Vivat!

Friday, April 16, 2021

‘Our last lunar lodge’

Courtesy Steven A. Rubin

Under the Grand Lodge of New York, there have been several lodges named for Revolutionary martyr Joseph Warren; up the Hudson in Rhinebeck, there is at labor Warren Lodge 32–our last “moon lodge.”

Of course human progress has obviated all need for lodges to await the light of the Full Moon to convene, which makes Warren 32 a portal to our past, replete with lantern lighting for the lodge Opening.

As Rhinebeck is a hundred miles from Masonic Hall, I haven’t visited yet. Still, I bet a moon lodge today is not mere quaintness, nor stubbornness, and certainly not an affectation. I have been reading a lot of New York Masonic history lately, to the exclusion of everything else, and it’s surprising how many appealing traditions have been lost to changing times or changing rules. Meeting on or about the night of the Full Moon is a tradition that defies orderly convenience in favor of a thoughtful nod to the spheres in the heavens. (Does your smartphone’s calendar app report the lunar cycles?) To be accurate, Warren meets on the Thursday preceding the Full Moon.

Courtesy Steven A. Rubin

In his very enjoyable newsletter The Craftsman, Grand Treasurer Steven Rubin has been championing Warren Lodge, and he reports today that those of us who do not have the good luck to be at labor there still can support our last moon lodge another way. Warren offers a “Midnight Rider Subscription.” At $32 annually, a Mason receives the lodge newsletter, a handsome certificate, and, of course, a lapel pin that will identify you as a Mason who knows his waxing gibbous from his waning crescent.

Visit Warren’s Faceypage to read more and for contact info.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

‘Philly temple on TV’

Courtesy Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania

I’ll be sure to update this when the broadcast date is known but, in the meantime, it has been announced that WHYY has been recording in the Masonic Temple on North Broad Street for an upcoming episode of Movers & Makers.

The program consists of feature stories about local cultural places and events, and the people behind them.

Courtesy Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania


Saturday, April 10, 2021

‘Live respected and die regretted’

Associated Press
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, Baron Greenwich, died yesterday at Windsor Castle, just two months shy of his hundredth birthday.

Rather than try to compete with, or expand on, the many eulogies and other good thoughts prompted by the death yesterday of Bro. Philip Mountbatten, I think it best to forward to you Bro. David Staples’ summation, as expressed to the BBC earlier today.

Staples is the Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England.

Courtesy Met GL
Click to enlarge.


Thursday, April 8, 2021

‘Bringing the Dead Sea Scrolls to life’


I had a feeling the recent discovery of Dead Sea Scrolls fragments would inspire more Lawrence Schiffman lectures, and so it has.

Register here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

‘Blue Lodge, the Masonic video game’

Courtesy Three Lights Studio

I know nothing of video games, gaming, that whole culture, but let me tell you about Blue Lodge, the new game for Freemasons. It was rolled out recently, and what I find interesting is how it is tiled—as in off limits to the public.

What a concept.

As the player, you become Adam, a young Entered Apprentice, who journeys forth to become a Master Mason, but to play, your grand lodge first must contact Three Lights Studio to enroll and join this gaming community.

I wonder if the creators thought that through. I mean, I see resistance by grand lodges to support the GWMNM’s digitization project, and that service is somewhat self-serving for the grand lodges. But I digress.

Click here to read more about it. And here’s a well made, if not exactly informative, video:


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

‘Two Sages: Hall and Jung’

The Philosophical Research Society offers an online discussion that will address two thinkers who contributed mightily to the twentieth century refinement of esoteric thought. From the publicity:

Manly Palmer Hall
and Carl Gustav Jung:
the Story and Message
of Two Sages
Presented by Stephan A. Hoeller
of the PRS
Thursday, April 29
10 p.m. Eastern Time
Reservations here

Philosopher Manly Palmer Hall and visionary psychologist Carl Gustav Jung both revived the Esoteric Tradition. The future republication of Hall’s work The Secret Teachings of All Ages, and the recent publication of Jung’s Black Books (amplifying his Red Book) call attention to the contributions of these two sages.

Stephan A. Hoeller was Manly P. Hall’s principal lecturing associate at PRS for more than twenty years. He is a noted scholar and lecturer on Gnosticism and the message of C.G. Jung. He is the author of five books, and is president of Besant Lodge of the Theosophical Society in Hollywood.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

‘Never gonna do it without the fez on’

Today, I finally make a point to sit down and watch D.W. Young’s documentary from last year The Booksellers. A few minutes in, a dealer of, what he calls, esoteric books is on camera. Didn’t catch his name.


Another National Grotto Day is in the books. At Azim, sixteen new Prophets received the mysteries of the Order in what was a fairly well attended ceremony, all things considered. I was genuinely moved by the atrociousness of the occasion.

I’ll have to update this edition of The Magpie Mason with photos when they become available later. We were enjoined from photographing, but an official photographer was on hand, and our Facebook page will have the evidence soon.

Okay, okay. I’ll volunteer to be the photographer next time.

One additional great moment came when a lifetime achievement award was presented to Prophet Leon Weinstein in thanks especially for his keeping Azim alive years ago when all seemed lost. Then in 2010, this Grotto was revived by the arrival of a new generation, so the boos and hollers of Sympathy and Good Fellowship shall reverberate throughout Masonic Hall for future Veiled Prophets.

I had the chance to attend one of the Zoom conferences hosted during the winter in preparation for today’s nationwide event, and one of the facts I took away from the conversation is the awe in which Azim is regarded across the Enchanted Realm. Grottoes throughout the country are looking to New York City to learn how it’s done. Of course you’d expect that in any case, but it’s nice to hear.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

‘History in Tennessee’

Courtesy Amazon
A new chapter in the history of Freemasonry in Tennessee was started today when the voting members of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee agreed it is time to extend the fraternal hand to their neighbors of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge.

The two have coexisted since 1870. Details, like visitation, are not yet settled.

Congratulations everybody!

There remain six U.S. grand lodges that have yet to establish relations with Prince Hall Masonry.

Many thanks to Oscar for spreading the good news.

Monday, March 22, 2021

‘The ALR and YOU’


No kidding, I was just about to post a Do You Know Where The ALR Is? edition of The Magpie Mason, in hopes of learning from someone if it still is at labor, when I unexpectedly see the above notice in the new issue of The Empire State Mason.

I emailed a reply to the address provided, and I encourage you to do likewise.

Masonic education has a very limited appeal, unfortunately, and lodges of research are an even narrower niche, but I want to think Freemasonry in Manhattan can sustain a research lodge. Maybe we can.

If my email receives an informative reply, I’ll let you know. Actually, I’ll let you know either way.

UPDATE: There will be a Zoom meeting April 28 co-hosted by the Grand Master, the Junior Grand Warden, and The ALR’s Master ad Vitam to discuss membership, research topics, and more.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

‘An Ode to the Freemasons’


Today is World Poetry Day. Poet Maria Matuscak penned the following verse, which was read aloud by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario one day in 2017 on the occasion of a cornerstone ceremony there.

An Ode
to the Freemasons,
Gathered Here Today

Walk onward, brothers, arm-in-arm
towards the giants rising in your midst. Together you form a chain
……..which will ensure the monsters of poverty and intolerance
……..your line taught, unyielding to the false gods
…………..that feed the starving masses in your streets. For you
care not
Who is the Creator,
…….God or Man: the goal is simply to strive.
For you hold, you hold tight
And dear you are stone
And one of you cannot sink if his brothers hold him tight.
Whom but God could wrench the wounded man
……from your embrace? And you march forward,
……toward an ever-receding horizon, but the point is:
……… march.
……………..And you do not stop.
……………..And those who cannot march on their own accord
……….you carry,
And the cornerstone too weighs upon your shoulders,
The one you brought with you here, today,
The one you set down as a reminder,
That one bears the weight of the whole,
That there may or may not be a final stair
…….but still you keep climbing
…….because the rain falls with equal benediction on you all.

Click here to see an interview with Ms. Matuscsk.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

‘Bro. PacMan’

Courtesy Mamamayang Pilipino Lodge (UD)

Philippine Senator Emmanuel Dapidran Paquiao has been made a Freemason, having received the Entered Apprentice Degree in Mamamayang Pilipino Lodge (UD) in the Philippines.

Bro. EA Paquiao is known worldwide as Manny “PacMan” Paquiao, the devastating prize fighter who set multiple records in championship boxing in an amazing career that spanned almost 25 years.

In 2016, he was elected to his nation’s Senate as a member of the majority Philippine Democratic Party-People’s Power, which was cofounded in 1983 by Benigno Aquino (who, you may recall, was murdered that year in the event that spelled the end of the Marcos regime).

PacMan is retired from boxing, but I wouldn’t want to be a Ruffian in his Third Degree.

Freemasonry in the Philippines has inauspicious origins in the mid eighteenth century due to friction between British colonists who were Masons and the Spanish Roman Catholic authorities. It played out pretty much as you would expect with the latter harassing, jailing, and deporting the former. The Spanish government banned Freemasonry several times in the early nineteenth century. In later decades, Portuguese and German Masons were able to establish lodges, and in 1876 the Grand Orient of Spain made a provincial grand lodge, and so the fraternity was cemented in the country.

The Spanish-American War resulted in the Philippines coming under U.S. control, which was hugely beneficial to Freemasonry there, as grand lodges in California, Scotland, and elsewhere began establishing lodges.

The Grand Lodge of the Philippines was founded in 1912. Naturally its fortunes were shaped by the Second World War, but it flourishes today. In addition, there are thriving lodges of ethnic Filipinos in New York, New Jersey, and elsewhere in the United States.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

‘Cryptic Rite Festival this fall’


The Cryptic Rite companions of New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts will gather for a day of degrees this October on the Hudson. (This is rescheduled from May 8.)

From the publicity:

Cryptic Festival
Saturday, October 9, 2021
Saugerties Masonic Temple

Royal Master Degree by Connecticut.
Select Master by Massachusetts.
Super Excellent Master by New York.

I haven’t seen Super Excellent since I received it 20 years ago. Looking forward to this!

To paraphrase Churchill, who was opining on something completely unrelated, “I would let the clever Masons learn Royal Arch as an honor, and Cryptic as a treat.”

Monday, March 15, 2021

‘National Grotto Day is near!’


National Grotto Day is approaching, but there is still time for you—well, maybe not you—to join Azim, the Most Handsome Grotto in the Realm!

The Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm is one of the many Masonic groups founded in the State of New York. Sure its primary activities run along the lines of seeing how many guys in gorilla suits can fit inside McSorley’s, but there also is a sincere humanitarian effort at the cause of it all. I personally recommend Grotto membership, seeing it as the perfect complement to the enlightening work of the Lodge and the numinous quality of the Chapter.

We’re doing it at Masonic Hall in Manhattan on Saturday the 27th. Yours truly will be the Chaplain in the life-changing ceremony. 

Click here for the petition. Fill it out (especially the felony part) and send it here


Saturday, March 13, 2021

‘Ancient York’s sesquicentenary’


Three months from today, Ancient York Lodge 89 in New Hampshire will commemorate its sesquicentennial anniversary with what looks like a fantastic celebratory program. From the publicity:

Sunday, June 13 at 2 p.m.
150th Anniversary Celebration

The program for the afternoon includes:

Reconsecration ceremony conducted by the officers of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire, F&AM.

Presentation by the Nashua Historical Society on Nashua in the 1870s.

Lodge history presentation by the officers and brethren of Ancient York Lodge.

Presentation by Worshipful Brother Christopher Murphy, Masonic lecturer, Past Master of Fibonacci Lodge 112 in Vermont, and Fellow of the Philalethes Society.

Music by Worshipful Brother Joseph Olefirowicz, world-renowned conductor and Minister of Music at First Church in Nashua.

And more!

Of course there will be a very special dinner, and that will incur a dining fee, so please reserve for that in advance here.

‘Salon de la Rose+Croix’


The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York continues its virtual programming this month with its third annual Salon de la Rose+Croix. From the publicity:

Salon de la Rose+Croix
Thursday, March 25
7 p.m. RSVP here

This month we are proud to present the third annual Salon de la Rose+Croix, featuring Tony Crisos, Adina Dabija, and Milosz Jeziorski live on our YouTube channel. The evening will begin with a short lecture on the history and philosophical value of the Golden Fleece through existing literature and archaeological findings followed by a poetry reading by Dabija, and concluding with a presentation on esoteric art by Jeziorski.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

‘Brent Morris to retire’

S. Brent Morris
I wouldn’t want you to be caught unawares, thinking it’s some April Fools prank, so with his blessing I share the news that S. Brent Morris is retiring from his employment situation at the Scottish Rite at the end of the month. The details will be discussed in Issue 52 (Spring 2021) of The Journal of the Masonic Society, which is at the printer now and will reach our members next month.

Don’t panic. Brent will remain active in the Masonic fraternity! He’s your Brother Mason. He just won’t be in the official management and the de facto spokesman of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction. He has served as editor of The Scottish Rite Journal and as strategic communications director for the Jurisdiction for many years.

Let’s be honest: the grand masters and other politicians come and go, but it is the steadying hand of experience, governed by wisdom and knowledge, that leads us for the long term.

His successor, Bro. Mark Dreisonstok, has been in place already. I’m told part of the institutional knowledge Brent has imparted is a reminder to consult both this blog and the other one each morning to see what’s going on in this fraternity. Mark holds a Ph.D. from Georgetown University, where he specialized in medieval languages and literature, and has taught at many universities in the DC area. You may have read him in a number of Masonic periodicals and area newspapers.

Bro. Brent says he will take with him a portfolio of responsibilities—things he loves doing, such as editing the Scottish Rite Research Society’s annual Heredom, and the offerings of the recently revived Masonic Book Club. (The first of which, come to think of it, will reach us members in a couple of weeks.)

Brent is in his fiftieth year as a Freemason, and it wouldn’t be easy to enumerate the many stations and places in our fraternity where he has been an inspiring exemplar. Of course, he is a Founding Fellow of the Masonic Society. And a Past Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076–the first American to be such. Grand Abbott of the Blue Friars. Naturally, a 33rd Degree Mason and holder of the Grand Cross in the real Scottish Rite.

He was made a Fellow of the Philalethes Society in 1980. Get it? Brent was made a Mason in 1971, and was elected to join the forty Philalethes Fellows nine years later.

The Masonic credentials and accolades go on almost endlessly. (Oh, and he wrote and co-wrote a bunch of books, including Committed to the Flames and this handy book.) Outside the apartments of the Temple, Brent holds a Mathematics Ph.D. from Duke. He labored as the Executive of the Cryptologic Mathematician Program of the National Security Agency, and has taught mathematics and computer science at Duke and Johns Hopkins. His affiliations in the math world are as impressive and numerous as his Masonic ties.

If you know him, you know of his expertise with card tricks—in essence, another manifestation of mathematics. He even wrote a book on that.

(None of the other tributes to Brent Morris you’ll see will include this obscure trivia, but way back in the first decade of the century, when Masonic cyberspace was primitive and small, one of the little rascals who constantly made a spectacle of himself with his various frauds called Brent names in such a bizarre outburst, I laughed so hard, the bowl of my Peterson 302 popped off its stem and tumbled down my shirt, the burning tobacco ruining everything in its path.)

I have pleasant memories of meeting him for the first time at a nearby Masonic dinner in 2007, and other “experiences” too.

Best wishes to you, Bro. Brent! Thank you for what you have given Freemasonry. (The retirement bash better look like something Leo Taxil would throw.) I hope to shake your hand again soon.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

‘Wednesday arts update’

Six items for you in tonight’s arts update.

  • Bro. Ryan Flynn recently put the finishing touch on his greatly anticipated portrait of Bro. Prince Hall.

If you have been following his progress on this via social media, you could feel justifiably amazed by his balance of creativity and respect for his subject. There is no way to know exactly what Hall looked like, so Flynn instead rendered contextual elements to tell the story. Items depicted in the foreground and background and, of course, Hall’s regalia and gavel tell a remarkable life story with a veracity you can count on.

Prints are available for purchase now. Click here.

  • Bro. Erik LaMarca, of Kosciuszko Lodge 1085 and Shakespeare 750, is the subject of the recent Craftsmen Online, one of a number of digital magazines serving New York Freemasonry.

LaMarca’s photography will be on exhibit next month at Solas Studio in a show titled “Revelation: Sight Through Symetry.” Click here to enjoy a look at a few pieces.

  • Bro. Scott J. Watson’s latest venture into art history conducts us to a lodge in eighteenth century Vienna. Mozart’s lodge, specifically.

I’m sure we’ve all seen the painting showing the great composer seated in lodge. I’ve used it here on The Magpie Mason a number of times over the years.

Watson explains what goes on in the image, and one thing particularly zapped me. Watson has us cast our eyes to the East, where hangs a painting I somehow never before thought about.

Let Royal Ark Mariners who have ears hear. And click here. Sign up for his newsletter too.

  • There is a mural decorating downtown Mt. Vernon, Ohio that will make every Mystic Prophet smile:

Courtesy Marty Trent

Unveiled (See what I did there?) in November 2017, but brought to the Prophets’ attention a few days ago in social media, It is painted on the side of the former Masonic hall in the neighborhood, and is a tribute to the groups that contributed to the local social scene. The nearly 3,000-square-foot piece was painted by John Donnelly, an art professor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

  • I had intended to post something about this last year, but when I saw the Wall Street Journal had beaten me to it, I kind of forgot about it.  Rothko Chapel, the landmark ecumenical spiritual space in Houston, has reopened, following a $30 million renovation that took almost a year.

The rehabilitation was mostly structural in nature, with the building being bolstered to withstand the hurricanes the region receives. Mark Rothko’s 14 paintings arrayed throughout the chapel now benefit from a new central skylight and modern interior lighting. On the grounds without the chapel, the landscape has been stripped of all sights except for Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk, the crystal-shaped shaft perched atop a pyramid that arises from a reflecting pool. Dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1971, the artwork symbolizes the chapel’s purpose as a human rights locus.

Rothko Chapel marks its fiftieth anniversary this year. Click here for photos.

  • And, finally—I can’t do this all night, you know—is the latest from Piecework magazine, which contains a brief article on aprons.

“Unfortunately for historians, makers of aprons did not sign their work,” writes Deborah Dwyer. “Newspapers of the period advertised professional embroiderers specializing in military and Masonic regalia; sign painters offered painted aprons, and stationers supplied engraved ones. Undoubtedly, family members made some aprons as gifts.”

Read all about it here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

‘The province in Freemasonry’

Courtesy Freemasonry Today
Bro. Aubrey Newman
The next speaker coming in the Open Lectures on Freemasonry series will be Bro. Aubrey Newman!

Practically a legend in the Craft, Newman is one of those eminent figures who make me wonder how they get it all done. The Past Junior Grand Deacon is a Past Master of Quatuor Coronati 2076 and a Past (2003) Prestonian Lecturer. He received the rare Order of Service to Masonry in 2017, at age 90, having been selected by HRH the Duke of Kent, Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, himself.

Also, I think Newman was with us in the Masonic Light group years ago. I’ll have to check with Josh on that.

His subject on Saturday, March 20 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time will be “The Place of the Province in Freemasonry,” something that has been central to Newman’s research for many years.

Visit Open Lectures on Freemasonry here.

Bro. Oscar Alleyne’s lecture from Saturday is on YouTube: