Sunday, October 26, 2008

Freemasonry’s ‘Time’ magazine

Membership in The Masonic Society is nearing 500 after only five months of existence, and will grow further thanks to the quality of its quarterly periodical, The Journal of the Masonic Society.

Issue No. 1 began arriving in our members’ mailboxes about a month ago, providing a much needed service and filling an obvious void in the Freemasonry of North America: a literary and informative magazine. There was a time, early in the last century, when such magazines flourished. Freemasonry had a more literate membership back then that supported publications like The Builder and The Master Mason, among others. These were nationally distributed magazines that delivered contemporary scholarship and current events to their readers, and were supported by revenues from both subscribers and advertisers. Only the devastation of the Great Depression could stop the presses.

TMS President Roger VanGorden summarized the mission of The Journal best: that it be the Time magazine of Freemasonry.

A mix of research papers, news coverage, informed opinion, creative fiction, colorful illustrations and other editorial elements recalling that golden age of Masonic publishing are compiled from writers from all over the world. Contents of Issue No. 1 include:

“The Ceremonies of St. John the Baptist and the Circle of Swords Contained Within the Entered Apprentice Degree” by James Hogg of Florida.

“Initiation in the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite” by Leon Zeldis of Israel.

“The Story of the Lost Word and the Power of Myth” by John L. Cooper III of California.

“Lodged in the Canon” by Quatuor Coronati Worshipful Master Brent Morris.

“Ethiopia in Freemasonry” by Timothy Hogan of Colorado.

Its introductory editorial explains:

The goal of The Masonic Society is not just to look backward at the history of Freemasonry, but to foster the intellectual, spiritual and social growth of the modern Masonic fraternity.

Our name intentionally alludes to the Royal Society, the innovative organization of visionary men who were at the forefront of the Age of Enlightenment, many of whom were present at the formation of what became modern, speculative Freemasonry. Likewise, The Masonic Society will be at the forefront of a new age of Freemasonry, and we intend to be a vibrant, active community within the fraternity.

To that end, The Masonic Society extends the hand of assistance and cooperation to individual Masonic research lodges in North America. It is the desire of The Masonic Society to be a partner with these lodges, to give their members the regular opportunity to publish their papers for an international audience, to applaud their achievements, and to publicize their activities.

What’s not to love? (Disclaimer: I am a member.)

A subscription to this magazine is only one of the benefits of membership in The Masonic Society. We also are working on building a schedule of events for our members’ enjoyment. First and definitely foremost will be our first (and thereafter annual) banquet on the Friday evening of Masonic Week in February.

In addition, members are granted access to the Society’s on-line forum, where hundreds of Masons from around the globe interact every day, helping each other advance in their Masonic knowledge.

And of course it wouldn’t be a Masonic organization without goodies like pins and membership cards, but the Society cranks up the quality of these items, producing elegant symbols of membership that are earning accolades. In addition, each member receives an 11x14 patent, personalized and highly stylized that you’ll want professionally framed. It is a very impressive document, on parchment with a hand-stamped wax seal.

But the true benefit of membership in The Masonic Society is the learning experience. Whether it’s an eye-popping topic in the magazine, or just simple conversation in the forum, there is no end to what a curious Mason can learn from his brethren in this organization.

In addition to President Roger, we’re fortunate to have as our Editor-in-Chief W. Bro. Chris “Freemasons for Dummies” Hodapp. And our Directors, Officers and Founders include many leaders in Masonic education, including authors, publishers, curators, lecturers and more.

Full membership for Master Masons in good standing of a lodge chartered by a grand lodge that is a member of the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons of North America, or recognized by a CGMMNA member grand lodge, including PHA jurisdictions duly recognized by their in-state neighbors.

No comments: