Tuesday, November 24, 2015
New Jersey Lodge of Masonic
Research and Education No. 1786
The 2016 Prestonian Lecture
New Light on the Formation and
Early Years of the Grand Lodge
Presented by Bro. Richard Berman
United Grand Lodge of England
Thursday, January 14, 2016
Stage House Tavern
366 Park Avenue
$49 Per Person
by Advance Payment
PayPal $51 (includes transaction fee)
Or bring your $49 check, payable to NJLORE 1786,
to our December 12 meeting.
Be among the first in the world
to hear the 2016 Prestonian Lecture!
Saturday, November 21, 2015
The coming year will feature yet another entity outside the Masonic fraternity—see here and here—that will show its considerable interest in the Masonic fraternity.
The 47th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies will be hosted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania March 31 through April 3, 2016. Among the subjects to be taken up is “Eighteenth Century Freemasonry and the Arts,” chaired by Rebecca Dowd Geoffroy-Schwinden of the University of North Texas.
From the publicity:
Freemasonry represented a new social and cultural institution during the eighteenth century. The ideologies of Freemasonry opened new frontiers to the application of Enlightenment philosophy to lived experience, to the creation of new spaces of socialization, and to the integration of new forms of spirituality with Newtonianism and sensationism. The practices and ideologies of Freemasonry called for humans to rethink their relationships: with themselves and their peers, with authority figures, and toward the natural and supernatural realms.
Artists across the visual, performing, and literary arts came to occupy a crucial role in the development, expansion, and sociality of Masonic lodges. This panel seeks to explore the significance of the relationship that Freemasonry, from its rituals to its social structure to its values, shared with the arts. Recent scholarship has begun to reveal the rapport between Freemasonry and the visual, performing, and literary arts. This panel aims to bring scholars of the arts into conversation to pursue a holistic theoretical and methodological framework through which to understand the mutual influence of Freemasonry and the arts during the eighteenth century.
|Rebecca Dowd Geoffroy-Schwinden|
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
A communiqué sent Saturday from Grand Lodge to Masonic brethren in France:
R.W. Brother Claude Legrand
Grande Loge Nationale Française
12 Rue Christine de Pisan
Dear Right Worshipful Grand Secretary,
Our Grand Master, Most Worshipful William J. Thomas, wishes me to express to you, your Grand Master, and your entire Grand Lodge, our sincere and heartfelt expression of sympathy and sorrow for the loss that your nation has suffered. There are few places other than New York that can truly understand what you are now feeling, and the length of time before you are even able to fully express your grief. We stand ready to help you if and when we are asked to do so.
When you are finally in a position to do so, we would very much appreciate it if you would provide us with the names and contact information of any Masons who were directly affected by this unspeakable horror. Thank you.
With tears of sorrow, and with fraternal love and affection,
Paul M. Rosen,
Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons
of the State of New York
At the French consulate on Fifth Avenue, flags were flown at half staff Saturday, while New Yorkers of all backgrounds gathered outside to express sympathy with the French people.
|The Helmsley Building,|
Park Avenue, Manhattan.
Monday, November 16, 2015
Bro. Michael Kearsley, who served the United Grand Lodge of England as its Prestonian Lecturer in 2014, will return to New Jersey next month for another speaking engagement. On the first Saturday of December every year, the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of New Jersey hosts its Feast of St. John, which is highlighted by a keynote speaker. Rarely is there a Masonic topic—if I’m not mistaken, 2007 was the last such talk, delivered by Chris Hodapp, which was the only of these events that I’ve attended—but Bro. Kearsley is slated to break with form and present something of important and odd Masonic history.
Feast of St. John
Saturday, December 5
Social Hour at 5:30
Dinner at 6:45
Program at Eight
1114 Oxmead Road
Burlington, New Jersey
$45 per person
RSVP no later than Friday. Tables for eight or ten guests can be booked. Phone 609.239.3950, and have your credit card ready.
|RW Michael Kearsley|
Roberto Calvi, nicknamed “God’s Banker,” was murdered in outlandish circumstances in 1982 after being at the center of the billion dollar mafia-Vatican bank collapse that is said to have involved a Masonic lodge named Propaganda Due, or P2 for short.
Don’t Google it. Let Bro. Kearsley’s telling of the story stimulate you and leave you with much to talk about.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education No. 1786 is immensely proud—we can hardly sit still!—to present Bro. Richard Berman, the 2016 Prestonian Lecturer, who will deliver his lecture titled Foundations, on Thursday, January 14, 2016.
The location, dining fee, and other necessary details are not worked out yet, but they will be publicized here and throughout social media soon. For now, please save the date.
From the publicity:
The 2016 Prestonian Lecture
Foundations: New Light on the Formation
and Early Years of the Grand Lodge of England
Ric Berman outlines the connections between Freemasonry and the British establishment in the eighteenth century, and how and why its leaders positioned Grand Lodge as a bastion of support for the government. He also touches on how Freemasonry was used to advance Britain’s diplomatic objectives and for espionage.
The Lecture marks the upcoming 300th anniversary of the formation of the first Grand Lodge, and sets a context for 2017’s celebration.
The Prestonian Lecturer is appointed by the United Grand Lodge of England. This year’s lecturer, Ric Berman, is the author of Foundations of Modern Freemasonry, first published in 2011 and now in its second edition; Schism (2013), which discusses the conflict between Moderns and Antients Freemasonry; and Loyalists & Malcontents (2015), a history of colonial and post-colonial Freemasonry in the American South.
An extended version of the lecture is available for purchase via Amazon. The proceeds are donated to charity. Ric Berman’s Amazon page is here.
TAKE NOTE: Bro. Ric will NOT have copies of his lecture available for sale at this event. Please make your purchase from Amazon, and bring the book with you for inscribing.
Bro. Ric’s tour of the United States includes:
January 7 to 9 – American Historical Association, Atlanta, Georgia: Chairing the session “Freemasonry – The First Global Society,” and giving the paper “Antients or Moderns? Reflections on the Genesis of American Freemasonry.”
Prestonian Lecture presentations:
January 9 to 10 – Greensboro, North Carolina
January 11 to 12 – Chapel Hill, North Carolina
January 13 – Des Moines, Iowa
January 14 – New Jersey (location TBD)
January 15 – Washington, DC
Of course January is early in the year, and it is not impossible Bro. Ric could return to the United States later in 2016 for more appearances.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
MindfulNYU offers another public event next week, which I publicize here (and will attend) largely for Parabola’s Tracy Cochran’s involvement. From the publicity:
Mindfulness and the Arts
Hosted by MindfulNYU
Wednesday, November 18
7 to 8:30 p.m.
238 Thompson Street, Room 461
New York City
Free tickets here.
What do a cast member of Star Trek, a pioneering social justice filmmaker, and a highly accomplished journalist have in common? Mindfulness!
Join MindfulNYU’s Generation Meditation, Stressbusters and three mindful artists for a night of interactive activities and stimulating discussion as we explore how mindfulness can enhance our creative lives.
The Journal of the Masonic Society No. 29 has been reaching Society members these past weeks. Dubbed “The Review Issue,” this Journal offers opinions on a variety of goods marketed to Freemasons—from books to clothing to regalia, and beyond—in addition to feature articles, Masonic studies, analysis of the state of the Craft, plus the Journal’s regular features.
The Journal is the primary, but not only, benefit to members of The Masonic Society—the best $39 you’ll spend in Freemasonry. Membership is open to regular Freemasons from recognized grand lodges. Click here for more membership information.
Patrick C. Carr, the Right Worshipful Grand Senior Warden of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, treats us to his “In Search of the Genuine Æthelstan,” in which he reviews the known history and biography of the early English king who figures so prominently in Freemasonry’s embryonic literature. Carr reasons “While we cannot ever know exactly what impact King Athelstan and his rule did directly for the Craft, we can agree that King Athelstan and his actions provided the world with a laudable set of values in which we should meet, act, and part. Whether or not it directly impacted the creation of the fraternity is irrelevant. What it did manage to do was place the beliefs of the king strictly into the rituals and the belief systems that Freemasonry still teaches today.”
Always a popular topic of conversation is Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma, the dense collection of lectures the early Sovereign Grand Commander of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (Southern Jurisdiction) intended to accompany the 32 degrees, as worked by A&ASR bodies for many decades. Giovanni A. Villegas, of Jacobo Zobel Memorial Lodge 202 in the Philippines, bravely offers his “Unabashed Literary Book Review” outlining the problems he perceives in the text. “The true test of understanding Morals and Dogma is finding the honesty to first admit that one does not fully understand it,” he says, “or at least not immediately.” He continues, explaining how factors such as the period style of the writing, Pike’s lifting of text from earlier sources, and Pike’s personal interpretations of mystical subjects conspire to leave readers in 2015 vexed. He concedes M&D is “essential reading” for the Scottish Rite Mason who can weather it, but also recommends the casual reader seek out more recent texts, including Rex Hutchens’ A Bridge to Light, and, of course, Arturo de Hoyos’ Annotated Edition, which provides tons of clarifications, corrections, references, and other useful guides to those who want the full Morals and Dogma experience.
Yasha Berensiner’s regular feature “Masonic Collectibles” treats us to a look at William Hogarth, the eighteenth century (today is his 318th birthday) English artist and satirist—and brother Mason—whose “comic histories” paintings chronicled London life, and didn’t spare the Masonic fraternity his lampooning. Perhaps you are acquainted with his Times of the Day prints but, if not, seek it out, and get an eyeful of the one titled “Night.”
Under “Thoughts on the Craft,” Stephen J. Ponzillo, III, a Past Grand Master of Maryland, visits the touchy topic of lodge dues and other expenses in his “The Cost of Belonging: Is it Enough?” In the early years of this century, when the Knights of the North and the Masonic Restoration Foundation were advancing the simple view that lodges must collect in dues the revenue they need to function properly and survive into the future, it was so inflammatory to the establishment that a mere whisper of responsibly addressing lodge financing would prompt anger and panic. Today, younger and wiser heads are prevailing in lodges all over the country, and appreciation for the cost of living these days affects how forward-thinking lodges plan their financial futures. In his article, inspired by a recent discussion on the Masonic Society’s Facebook page, he scores several points structured around his comparing and contrasting cost of living figures of 1957 and 2014. It’s actually not simply a matter of inflation; Ponzillo illustrates the more significant facts of what Freemasonry asked men to pay for initiation and dues during those two periods. It’s about the percentage of a man’s annual income. In 1957, for example, a lodge that collected a $75 initiation fee from a man who earned $5,000 for that year was taking 1.5 percent of that income. In 2014, a man making just less than $70,000, and paying a $250 initiation fee, gave about a third of 1 percent of his annual pay to join a lodge. Is it enough? Indeed.
In his President’s Message, Jim Dillman humorously bemoans his efforts to meet his deadline, but in all seriousness, he writes on “Uncovering Freemasonry’s History,” urging us to look at what is right in front of us—as in lodge records, ephemera, books, etc. stored away in lodge closets and corners. “I’m going to challenge each of you to take a day, a week, or a month off from social media or your time-waster of choice, and devote the time you would have spent to some sort of Masonic research. Go back and read the minutes of your lodge from 50 or 100 years ago,” he says. “Dig through some of those old boxes lying around.” I know we all want to uncover the mysteries of Masonic secrets, but a curious and diligent brother can do his lodge great good simply by bringing to life local Masonic history for his own lodge.
There is a lot more to Issue 29: “The Masonic Baseball Game,” current news from around the globe, the detailed calendar of Masonic events through next May, and a great “Guide to Masonic Encyclopedias” by Tyler Anderson of New Mexico, among other attractions.
In other Masonic Society news, the Board of Directors and Officers gathered in St. Louis over the weekend to give shape to some serious plans for the Society’s future. We’ll meet again at Masonic Week to finalize some of these designs upon the trestleboard, and when you find out about them, your eyes will pop. Stay tuned to The Magpie Mind in February for those details.
The Masonic Society Board of Directors’ marathon planning session over the weekend at the St. Louis Airport Hilton just happened to coincide with the annual meeting of something named St. Matthew’s Grand Lodge. In fact, when I arrived at the hotel Friday afternoon, I found the lobby crowded with their members and Eastern Star ladies having a grand time. This photo partially shows the schedule of Saturday events posted in the lobby. Unfortunately, I couldn’t undertake my usual membership development efforts, as St. Matthew’s exists outside the mainstream of the Masonic fraternity. (Click here for membership guidelines.) I wonder what they thought of us!
And speaking of Masonic Week 2016, the registration information should be posted this week, I’m told, and you’ll see the Masonic Society’s banquet has been moved from the Friday night to Saturday, making us the only official dining choice for that evening. President Dillman will announce the choice of keynote speaker shortly, and I hope those of you who will attend Masonic Week will elect to be with us that night. We will have a number of big announcements.
See you there.
The Traditional Martinist Order will host an Introduction to Martinism Saturday afternoon in New York City. In January, the Order will undertake a new cycle of classes, and I gather this meeting will provide answers about the Order and its teachings. Julian Johnson will lead the discussion. From the publicity:
Introduction to Martinism
Saturday, November 14
Rosicrucian Cultural Center
2303 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.
New York City
Focusing on the works of Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin, we will explore the foundations of Martinism, a mystical movement deeply rooted in the Western Esoteric Tradition.
We anticipate people will ask about how and when they can receive the Associate Degree Initiation, as well as other questions pertaining to membership in New York Heptad.
On the following Saturday, November 21, the local heptad will confer the Associate Degree. (New York Heptad now meets at the Theosophical Society/Quest Bookshop at 240 East 53rd Street in Manhattan.)
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
|Courtesy Kristine Mann Library|
28 East 39th Street (between Madison and Park avenues). Open Mondays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. And Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A word to the wise: don’t delay. The library is not a bookstore, so while it offers many great titles for sale, it does not replenish inventory.
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Eve M. Kahn’s antiques column in today’s New York Times discusses “Art from Fraternal Societies” (wasting no space before plugging Aimee Newell’s recent book), and reveals how two art venues in New York City will feature Masonic and other fraternal material culture in January.
From January 20 through May 8, 2016, Masonic and Odd Fellows pieces—gifts from collectors Allan and Kendra Daniel—will be shown at American Folk Art Museum.
|Courtesy Folk Art Museum|
|Courtesy Folk Art Museum|
|Courtesy Folk Art Museum|
Bruce Lee Webb, author of As Above, So Below: Art of the American Fraternal Society, 1850-1930, will bring certain pieces to sell at Outsider Art Fair, January 21-24 at Metropolitan Pavilion, just around the corner from Masonic Hall.
|Courtesy Webb Gallery|
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
This edition of The Magpie Mind admittedly is a mess, but here are announcements of some great local events, so be sure to scroll all the way through.
Last weekend, I had the chance to enjoy some time in my alma mater’s main research library and, instead of doing something useful, I poked through a tiny bit of the thousands of unusual texts pertaining to Freemasonry. Here are just a few images:
- Tomorrow night, The American Lodge of Research will meet to hear Worshipful Master Michael Chaplin present his paper “Patron Saints of the Operatives.” Eight o’clock in the Colonial Room on 10 at Masonic Hall (71 West 23rd Street in Manhattan).
- Monday, November 9 is the deadline for booking your seat at the Scottish Rite Valley of Central Jersey’s Rose Croix celebration featuring Billy Koon:
|Click to enlarge.|
- Next Wednesday, Bro. Mohamad will speak at Livingston Masonic Lodge in New Jersey:
|Click to enlarge.|
- Congratulations to the new officers of the Masonic Library and Museum Association: President Aimee Newell, Vice President Brian Rountree, Secretary Cathy Giaimo, and, returning for another term, Treasurer Eric Trosdahl.
- The MLMA’s 2016 annual meeting is planned tentatively for October at the Lee Lockwood Scottish Rite Library and Museum in Waco, Texas.
- Speaking of Masonic libraries, the Grand Lodge of Nebraska dedicated its library and museum last month at the grand lodge headquarters in Lincoln.
- On Sunday, November 8, Cincinnati Masonic Lodge No. 3 in Morristown, New Jersey (39 Maple Avenue) will unveil the Morristown Masonic Center Museum and Library with an opening reception. Dignitaries to include the chairman of the New Jersey Historical Commission, the chairman of the Morristown Historic Preservation Commission, and RW Bro. Glenn Visscher of the Museum of Masonic Culture in Trenton (and a Past Master of the lodge).
- Looking around the interwebs, I recently found the finest source of Masonic news: The Past Bastard. Click here and be amazed!
- Madison Masonic Lodge No. 93 in New Jersey has undertaken the project of replacing the headstone of Jepthah B. Munn, who was Grand Master of Masons for the State of New Jersey in the 1820s. Donations are welcome here.
I shot these photos Monday in the Presbyterian cemetery across the street from the lodge and, as you can see, this stone has seen better times.
Munn deserves the overdue attention. He was grand master during the age when grand masters were graaaand! A quick history:
In 1837, the Grand Lodge of New York expelled a number of Masons and closed a few lodges that were at labor in New York City. (I haven’t yet learned why they were expelled.) These brethren regrouped and called themselves St. John’s Grand Lodge. At that time, the Grand Lodge of New Jersey adopted a resolution voicing its support of New York’s authority to expel these Masons. This resolution was passed to make it clear from the start that all New Jersey lodges were prohibited from having communication with this clandestine grand lodge.
However, St. John’s Lodge No. 2 in Newark (it became No. 1 later) ignored the prohibition and other, less formal, requests from individual grand officers, and had Masonic intercourse with these New York guys, hosting them in their lodge, etc. For their role in this, Jepthah Munn and John Darcy, both past grand masters, were punished by Grand Lodge of New Jersey for defying grand lodge’s order to not interact with those expelled Masons.
During all of this, some New York lodges, in retaliation for the New Jersey past grand masters’ meddling in this episode, refused to allow New Jersey Masons to visit their lodges. This feuding continued for a number of years, even into the 1850s. What has to be remembered during all of this is that this period is the tail end of the anti-Masonic era that came in the wake of the “Morgan scandal” that nearly saw the fraternity in New York and New Jersey wiped out. For example, in 1842 New Jersey Freemasonry consisted of 162 Masons in eight lodges. So this bickering is kind of like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Also, this episode is not all that unusual in the 19th century history of New York Masonry. In the early years of the 1800s, a split between the “country lodges” and the “city lodges” took place that really caused problems. Two very real grand lodges coexisted until 1827, when they united.
Anyway, the clandestine grand lodge Munn aided is not unknown to New York scholars (there actually is a New York lodge named after Munn). He was an interesting man: Born in East Orange in 1780, where there is a Munn Avenue; a renowned medical doctor, who served as president of the Medical Society of New Jersey in 1828, and a co-founder and eventual president of the Morris District Medical Society; a respected member of the New Jersey General Assembly.
He was made a Mason in 1804 in Paterson Orange Lodge 13; affiliated with Cincinnati No. 3 in Morristown, serving as Master from 1809 to 1814; was warrant master of Chatham Lodge 33 (now Madison 93) from 1814 to 1819; and affiliated with St. John’s No. 1 in 1850. Was elected Senior Grand Warden of Grand Lodge in 1817, and served as Grand Master from 1820 to 1824.
Because of his activity in the New York episode, Munn—and this is why I’ve been crazy about him from the minute I learned of him about seven years ago—was subjected to charges of unmasonic conduct in 1842. Charges dropped the next year. Censure was imposed by Grand Lodge in 1850, but withdrawn in 1852. He continued to attend grand lodge communications through 1860, until ill health slowed him down. He died in 1863 in Chatham.
Friday, October 23, 2015
The School of Practical Philosophy on 79th Street offers two great programs next month characteristic of its mission to show how philosophical concepts can be applied to our daily lives. Tickets are selling out, so don’t delay. From the publicity:
All are welcome to attend the School’s special events program, which draws from a broad spectrum of disciplines in the arts and sciences. The programs are organized and presented by senior students in the School who speak from direct experience in seeking to make philosophy practical within their chosen field. Each event offers good food for the mind, body and spirit and is open to school members, their family, friends, colleagues as well as the general public.
Plato Study Day
Sunday, November 8
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Study Day program comes from Plato’s Alcibiades I, an imagined conversation between the great philosopher Socrates and the 18-year-old Alcibiades, an ambitious and talented youth who would later play a major role in Athens and on the world stage. In this dialogue, Socrates takes the lead in trying to awaken Alcibiades to the ignorance that prevents him from understanding the true qualifications for achieving his enormous ambition, and, more importantly, from realizing his own true nature.
As we watch Socrates’ intelligence at work, it becomes apparent that, not only Alcibiades, but we ourselves will benefit from examining our beliefs, priorities and actions in light of the questions raised in this dialogue:
• What are the most damaging ideas to hold?
• How can ignorance be removed?
• What are the success factors for a happy life?
• What is self-knowledge?
Our active participation and self-examination during the day will make it abundantly clear that philosophy works!
Emerson and Spiritual Knowledge
with Barbara Solowey
Saturday, November 14
The teaching of Ralph Waldo Emerson is an expression of the highest spiritual knowledge, the philosophy of Unity known as Advaita. Drawing on the wisdom of Plato and the Eastern spiritual traditions, he proclaims the Supreme Reality: the Oneness of God, the Soul, and the Universe.
Emerson knew from direct experience and observation that realization of this Unity is possible. His call to humanity was for a new consciousness “to restore that bond by which their own self was linked to the Eternal Self; to recover that unity which had been clouded and obscured by the magical illusion of reality, by the so-called Maya of Creation.” (The Orientalist note-book)
Join us to discover how Emerson’s transcendental teaching to discover “the infinitude of the private man” can inspire us in our own journey to be Self-reliant, to awaken Reason, and to follow Divine Law.
Saturday, October 17, 2015
It’s too much of a commute for me, but I want to share the news of the Freemasons in Middlesex, England soon launching Social Media Lodge, which is welcoming Founder Members now. Of course, the United Grand Lodge of England already has Internet Lodge, but the focus of this new endeavor is to establish and maintain an active voice on the web. From the publicity:
Social Media Lodge
Monday, November 30
Brethren, as you will know, the Province of Middlesex is looking at forming a new Lodge aimed at using social media and the internet to promote, recruit, and communicate.
The new Lodge also will be looking at running itself using technology, rather than paper, where appropriate.
If you are interested in being a Founder Member of, or simply joining, the Lodge, we will be holding a meeting, which the Pro Provincial Grand Master will attend, on Monday, November 30 at Staines Masonic Hall at 7.30 p.m.
I would be grateful if you would email me to confirm your attendance so we have an idea of numbers.
If you are aware of others who you think might be interested in joining as a Founder Member, please pass the information to them.
In the true spirit of the new Lodge, please Like, Share, Retweet, Favourite on the various social media channels.
Many thanks and I look forward to hearing from you.
Provincial Communications Officer