Friday, May 11, 2012

‘Have you heard the good news?’

Like I mentioned in a post somewhere below, there are some good things happening in New Jersey Freemasonry these days, some beginning at the top, but others rising from the grass roots.

Every year, our grand lodge hosts what it calls a leadership conference at the Elizabethtown campus of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. I don’t know what goes on there – when I used to bother asking about it, brethren either would just stare at their shoes or start gushing wildly about brotherhood, and frankly I don’t perceive a statewide improvement in leadership – so I can’t describe it to you in any detail, but it is several days of classroom-type instruction and break-out sessions, and the like. This year it will take place at the end of October.

Anyway, and don’t ask me how this has come to be, but Cliff Porter will be the guest lecturer this year!

W. Bro. Cliff is a Past Master of Enlightenment Lodge No. 198 in Colorado. He is the author of several books: The Secret Psychology of Freemasonry and Masonic Baptism among them. In addition, he is one of the guiding lights behind the Sanctum Sanctorum Education Foundation, and Living Stones Magazine.

Undoubtedly one of the sharpest thinkers on the Masonic scene today, and I’m sure he’ll be great at the leadership conference.

In other good news, and this one strikes close to home because it concerns publishing, is the complete change of direction given to New Jersey Freemason magazine, the official periodical of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey. When I was a young Master Mason, this publication was produced on newsprint, in tabloid shape if I recall correctly. Through the foresight and toil of the editors then, it made the transition to magazine format on glossy paper about 10 or 12 years ago. The problem through all that time to the present has been the content of the magazine, which ran the gamut from uninspired to unnecessary. Actually it has been very typical of grand lodge magazines: big on posed “grip & grin” photos, charity work, necrology, and bureaucratic odds and ends, but bereft of anything Masonic. I guess they did the best they could, but now the magazine is under the direction of W. Bro. Cory Sigler, editor and publisher of The Working Tools e-zine. Cory reached out to New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education No. 1786 to tap into its talent, and otherwise has made a strong effort to build a staff of writers to provide solid Masonic education pieces, current events reportage, and other content that thinking Masons actually will want to read. I haven’t seen the finished product yet, but it’s in the mail somewhere.

The first printed issue of The Working Tools.
In addition, let me congratulate Cory on his first hard copy publication of The Working Tools. After 51 issues over the course of six years, he has just gone to press with an actual magazine magazine. (Cory, forgive me, but except for your first issue, I’ve never really read The Working Tools before. I can’t read magazines on-line. I need the physical book in my hands. It catches my cigar ash, you see.)

And last but not least in the Good News Department is the launch of a book club in northern New Jersey. The brethren of the Second Masonic District, chiefly at Fidelity Lodge, but also drawing Masons from other lodges, recognized a need to discuss real ideas in Freemasonry, and thus this book club and discussion group.

You know they mean business and are hungry for reform when the first text they choose is Laudable Pursuit, the biggest plum among the fruits of the labors of the Knights of the North. Truth be told, it mainly is the work of Chris Hodapp, but it was published anonymously at the time (around 2005) for reasons I hope we’ve all forgotten by now.

I found out about the book club’s first meeting by accident, but then was contacted by the organizers. I said sure I’ll come! I thought they’d get a kick out of having a KOTN alum present, and I did get a few minutes to speak and share some inside baseball.

For better or worse, the topics confronted by LP stimulated the group to the extent that conversation was hard to organize, and we realized a second meeting to discuss LP was necessary. I missed that one. But what was really cool was the group itself: about 30 Masons, varying from a newly raised Master Mason to the District Deputy Grand Master.

The group will meet next on Monday the 21st at Nutley Lodge No. 25, and another KOTN alum will be there: none other than Hodapp himself, who will be in New Jersey for a few days to co-star in our 2012 Scottish Rite Symposium, with Bob Davis and Brent Morris. Click here for info on that! Thanks to the size of the auditorium, we actually have some seats remaining. Only $50 per person, which covers breakfast, lunch, and souvenirs.

There are other good things in the works here, and I look forward to telling you about them when the time is right or as they develop.

1 comment:

The Editor said...

Thanks for the mention of Living Stones Masonic Magazine.

I'm enjoying your blog very much.

Robert Herd
Living Stones Masonic Magazine