Thursday, September 30, 2010

‘Allied Lodge’s lecture series’


W. Bro. Hans Momplaisir, Master of Allied Lodge No. 1170, has announced the curriculum of the lodge’s lecture series for 2010-11. All Master Masons in good standing are welcome.

Monday, October 4 – Brother-Bring-a-Friend Night and a discussion on “Time.”

Monday, October 18 – “Egyptian Mysteries and the Development of Consciousness.”

Monday, December 20 – “First Degree Tools, Emblems, and Prayer.”

Monday, January 3, 2011 – “Secrets of the Sphinx.”

Monday, March 7, 2011 – Fellowship Night with Shakespeare Lodge No. 750 and Boyer Lodge No. 1. Discussion: “Second Degree Tools, Emblems, and Prayer.”

Monday, April 4, 2011 – “The Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences.”

Monday, May 2, 2011 – “The Sprig of Acacia and Walk about the Lodge.”

Monday, May 16, 2011 – “The Kabbalah.”

Chartered in 1975, Allied Lodge is the daughter lodge of historic Alpha Lodge No. 116 in New Jersey.

Masonic Hall, of course, is located at 71 West 23rd St. in Manhattan. Allied Lodge meets in the Colonial Room, which is located on the tenth floor.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

‘Sunday in the park with Germans’

Additional reasons why the Grand Lodge of New York is the center of the Masonic universe in the greater metropolitan area:

  • On Sunday, Grand Master’s Day at Tappan will showcase DeWint House, one of George Washington’s headquarters during the Revolution. Owned and operated by the GLNY, it is a treasure of a historic site. Click here for photos from last year’s Grand Master’s Day. Hopefully the weather will be just as nice. (Brunch again will be served at Old ’76 House at 11:30 a.m. Cost: $25 per person, payable at the door.)

  • And later on Sunday, the Ninth Manhattan District (the one with the German lodges) will host the 120th Annual Traubenfest (Grape Festival) at German Masonic Park in Tappan, only a short ride from DeWint House. 89 Western Highway. Cost: only $5 per person. Parking is free.

See what I mean? Of course not everything is perfect in New York. For example, the Magpie Mason will appear at the lectern of American Lodge of Research on Friday, October 29 and, believe me, no one will earn points for that debacle, but on the whole good things are happening there.


Monday, September 27, 2010

‘Euclid and Atlas-Pythagoras’

Bro. Steve Burkle will speak at Atlas-Pythagoras Lodge No. 10 in Westfield, New Jersey on Friday, October 15 in the Worshipful Master’s continuing program titled “Enlightening the Temple.” Steve’s lecture is titled “The 47th Problem of Euclid and the Magic Squares.”

The event is open to Apprentices and Fellows, properly avouched by Master Masons.

Bro. Burkle’s mother lodge is Scioto Lodge No. 6 in Ohio, and he is well known in Masonic education circles, being a Founding Member of The Masonic Society, and a frequent contributor to Bro. Bruno’s Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry. He also is a member of the research lodges of New Jersey, Ohio, and New York, as well as research societies, like the SRRS. In addition, Steve is an active member of Cushite Council No. 474 of Allied Masonic Degrees.

Atlas-Pythagoras Lodge is located at 1011 Central Ave. Kindly make your reservations with W. Bro. Mohamad Yatim at atlaspythagoras(at)

The lodge’s year of “Enlightening the Temple” has brought outstanding Masonic lectures to the brethren, including those by Trevor Stewart, Rashied Bey, Tim Wallace-Murphy, David Lindez, and others.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

‘Knowing the difference’

The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library at the Grand Lodge of New York will host an ambitious program on the evening of Monday, October 18, when Bro. E. Oscar Alleyne of Wallkill Lodge No. 627 will discuss: “A Look at the Various Forms of African-American Freemasonry.”

The title is awkwardly phrased, but you know what he means. The program is described: “What is the difference between PHA, PHO and non-Prince Hall? How many Grand Lodges are there in New York State? Is there any difference between 3-lettered and 4-lettered lodges? These and several other topics will be discussed as Bro. Alleyne presents this riveting and enlightening discourse.”

Seating in the Library is very limited, and reservations are required. Send an e-mail to:

Masonic Hall, of course, is located at 71 West 23rd St. in Manhattan.

Monday, September 20, 2010

‘Oh thank heavens!’

Congratulations to Bro. Dean Kennedy and Bro. David Naughton-Shires on their newly completed website for Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076.

I mean, someone has to say it. (The previous site looked like it was built when the Macarena was trendy.) Well done, and thank you David and Dean.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

‘Civil War Lodge of Research in NYC’

The fall meeting of Civil War Lodge of Research No. 1865 will take place Saturday, October 2 at 10 a.m. in the Renaissance Room of Masonic Hall in Manhattan.

Manhattan? Isn’t that an unusual location for a meeting of a research lodge focused on the role of Freemasonry during the Civil War? Not really. New York City figures fairly largely in the annals of the war, including what became known as the New York Draft Riots.

Four months after the enactment of the Enrollment Act of Conscription, which established a military draft system that preyed upon the poor by allowing those with money to send replacements into the army in their stead, and only days after the bloodbath at Gettysburg, thousands of New Yorkers fearful of being fed into the military meatgrinder terrorized the city’s East Side. The extent of that show of mobocracy perhaps was not seen again in the United States until the rioting in South Central Los Angeles in 1992. Union troops had to be deployed to New York to restore order. If I remember correctly, the film Gangs of New York concludes with a riot combatted by artillery raining upon the city. That is a depiction of the Draft Riots.

(I have no idea if this is what attracts the lodge to New York City, but it’s worth mentioning.)

After the meeting, some of the brethren will visit Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument (Riverside Drive at 89th Street) and Grant’s Tomb (Riverside at 122nd). They also might want to check out Cooper Union, where Abraham Lincoln’s oratory propelled him to national prominence. And from there of course one must visit McSorley’s, which merits a full day’s attention in itself.

Masonic Hall is the home of the Grand Lodge of New York, located at 71 West 23rd St. in Manhattan. The Renaissance Room is on the sixth floor.

Civil War Lodge of Research is based in Virginia, a state that is home to, I think, six research lodges!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

‘One World’s two concerts’

In another instance of the Magpie Mason wishing he could be in two places simultaneously to enjoy a concert and a lecture, tomorrow offers the almost painful choice of attending either Atlas-Pythagoras Lodge to hear Bro. Trevor Stewart, or visiting St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church for the One World Symphony’s performance, featuring Bro. Michael Crane.

Fortunately, Trevor will speak again Saturday night at St. John’s Lodge, and Michael will perform again Sunday night at the Church of the Holy Apostles. Still I want to attend them all!

Crane is a member of Kane Lodge No. 454 of the Fourth Manhattan District. He will perform Sergei Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 4 (For the Left Hand), Op. 53. Composed in 1931 (debuted in 1956), Prokofiev dedicated this piece to pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm in World War I. The calamities and horrors of war appear to be the unifying theme of the program for these two concerts, which begin One World Symphony’s tenth anniversary season.

The other performances:

John Lennon: Imagine (1971), the world premiere of the orchestral arrangement by Andrew Struck-Marcell.

Richard Strauss: Four Last Songs (1948), the composer’s final work, musical meditations on the destruction wrought on his country during World War II.

Olivier Messiaen: From Quartet for the End of Time (1941), was composed while Messiaen was a prisoner of war, this piece was premiered in Stalag VIII-A to an audience of 5,000 POWs. This performance will be the world premiere of new orchestration by Sung Jin Hong.

Dmitri Shostakovich: Four Songs, Op. 86 (1951), was written at the request of Yevgeni Dolmatovsky for a play that needed an “aeronautical beacon,” or songs for a pilot to sing to help him navigate through the Alps. This will be the world premiere of orchestration by Eric Lemmon.

Sung Jin Hong: Eye of the Storm (for audience and symphony) (2010), another world premiere, inspired by traditional Korean drumming, pulsates with his personal experiences at the Demilitarized Zone. Commissioned by West Village Concerts.

Dates, times, and other information:

Friday, September 17 at 8 p.m.
St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church
157 Montague St. in Brooklyn Heights

Sunday, September 19 at 7 p.m.
Church of the Holy Apostles
296 Ninth Ave. (at West 28th Street) in Manhattan

$30 students/seniors with ID
$40 general

Proceeds will benefit One World Symphony’s Community Music Program, which enables students and parents, who otherwise would not be in a position to afford classical concerts, to obtain tickets to live performances of One World Symphony’s season.

Each concert is estimated to run an hour and 40 minutes, with an intermission.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

‘Which nobody can deny’

Thursday, September 2 was the occasion of the Public Apron Presentation Ceremony honoring RW William J. Thomas, Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge of New York at Shakespeare Lodge No. 750. The American Room in Masonic Hall proved too small, as more than 200 well wishers – New York Masons, wives, friends, brethren from Boyer Lodge, a Masonic VIP from the Czech Republic and others – filled the lodge room and adjacent areas to show their support for a jolly good fellow who gives so much to the Craft. Readers of The Magpie Mason might remember Bill Thomas from posts concerning American Lodge of Research, Thomas Smith Webb Chapter of Research, Shakespeare Lodge, the Livingston Masonic Library, or other bastions of Masonic culture. News of his election to the Grand Treasurer’s Office even has been published in the September issue of The Cross Keys, the monthly newsletter of Lodge Houstoun St. Johnstone in Scotland.

The Magpie Mason’s role in all this was Photographer/Nuisance, the latter title earned by circulating about the room blinding participants with the dazzling Nikon SB-600, my camera flash of choice because I can use it to make popcorn.

Bill, I will mail you a CD containing more than 130 photographs, but here are a few in the meantime.

This was shot after the ceremony had ended, and the VIPs were making their exit. Out of about 225 photos taken, this one of Bill and his wife Susan is my favorite.

Piers Vaughan, left, with Curtis Alan Banks.
Piers will receive the 33° next August in Chicago.

Left: Henry Marx of St. John’s Lodge No. 1 and Henry Colon of Shakespeare Lodge. Right: Lenny Kagan, Secretary of Shakespeare Lodge.

Daniel Semel, left, offers remarks before presenting
the Grand Treasurer his new apron.

Bill puts on his apron.

Left: MW Vincent Libone, Grand Master of New York, is presented.

Tom Savini, director of the Livingston Masonic Library;
Michael Chaplin, secretary pro tempore of American Lodge of Research;
Michael Caine Seay, boyfriend of Miss Lauren Gwaley; and
an unidentified, nervous-looking fellow.

Ted Harrison, Grand King of the General Grand Chapter
of Royal Arch Masons, with George Harrison.

Bill gets a hug from Martin Merman, past president
of the Metro District Deputy Grand Masters.

The Metropolitan Life Tower was the tallest building in the world a century ago. It is only one of the beautiful landmarks in view of Masonic Hall’s windows. (Sorry for the blur, but the tower is far from where I stood.)


Monday, September 6, 2010


From the Master of Compact Lodge No. 402:

Dear Brother,

You and your Masonic friends are cordially and fraternally invited to attend and to contribute to the work of Compact Lodge No. 402, in the Corinthian Room at Masonic Hall, at its Four Hundred Fifty-Seventh Stated Communication on Tuesday, September 14 at 7: 30 p.m. for a special evening with guest lecturer Bro. Kevin Townley, noted esoteric scholar and Freemason, on:

“The Problems and Solutions of Masonry Are Astronomical.”

“Masonry is an earthly manifestation of a heavenly archetype, with the clouded canopy and starry decked heavens as its covering. In this discussion we will explore the astronomical nature of the lodge and its principal officers as symbolic representations of the movement and marking of the sun through the 12-month zodiacal year, as well as through the 25,960-year cycle of the precession of the equinoxes.”

Come and join Brother Kevin Townley for fraternal and stimulating conversation in the recesses of a tyled lodge, upon the carefully guarded secrets of Masonry.

Bro. Townley’s books – The Cube of Space, Meditations on the Cube of Space, and the beautiful centennial reprint edition of Henry P.H. Bromwell’s Restoration of Masonic Geometry and Symbolry – will be available for purchase and signing. These books are of great esoteric value, and due to Brother Townley’s diligence they are once again in print and available.

I look forward to greeting you in Lodge.

W. Jonathan Edward Cross, Master

Masonic Hall of course is located at 71 West 23rd Street in Manhattan. The Corinthian Room is on the eighth floor.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

‘Never too early’

And from our Never Too Early to Plan Ahead Department....

In April of next year, the Magpie Mason will be the guest lecturer at Mythology Café, the New York City Chapter of the Joseph Campbell Foundation. Date TBA. Mythology Café meets at Ciao Stella Restaurant, located at 206 Sullivan St., between Bleecker and Third streets, in Manhattan.

The topic, unsurprisingly, will be Freemasonry, consisting of a summary of the fraternity’s complicated history, with explanations of the spiritual aspects of Masonic ritual and symbol. Mindful of the audience demographic, the speaker will anticipate pointed curiosity of Masonic tenets, practices, and even the vast diversity of lodges in New York City.