Tuesday, October 25, 2016

‘Light! Camera! Aprons!’

What a great night at Masonic Hall underway now! As this edition of The Magpie Mason goes to press, a film crew from Pinstripe Productions Ltd. from Glasgow is filming inside the Livingston Library for an upcoming BBC Scotland documentary on Robert Burns and the importance of Freemasonry to his life and work, but just a little more than an hour ago they were filming a group of us making believe we were in lodge assembled for a philosophical discussion.

Forget Hollywood glitz, this is Glasgow glamour!

The production company contacted Grand Lodge a week ago to express its desire to include New York Masons in this documentary to illustrate how Burns’ poetry is beloved in America. None other than RW Bro. Piers Vaughan—a U.S. citizen with a Brighton accent—was put in command of organizing this thing. (He has experience managing CBS News in Masonic Hall.) So, after securing the permission of the Grand Master, of the Masonic Hall Trustees, and, most importantly, of the building management staff, he was able to corral everybody inside the Empire Room on 12, while securing the altar cloth (but no Washington Bible) and regalia of venerable St. John’s Lodge No. 1 so we’d all look good. We’re told this will be broadcast in the United Kingdom next Burns Night.

As I mentioned, the crew is now in the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library interviewing Librarian Morgan Aronson and Curator Catherine Walter on the library’s various Rabbie Burns artifacts and books, but for our segment, we were seated in the Empire Room for a talk on the Masonic symbolism of the Number 3.

Piers, standing, addresses the East, with RW Jim,
RW Earnest, and Bro. Parker listening.

It was great fun. Nothing was scripted, and I think about 20 of us took turns to be upstanding for the Worshipful Master, holding the Sign of Fidelity, and expounding on the various meanings the Number 3 has to the Masonic Order.

Our impromptu Junior Warden.
I didn’t take a lot of notes because we were supposed to look natural, but the discussion ranged from religious trios (Father, Son, Holy Spirit; Osiris, Isis, Horus) to Masonic ritual (three degrees, three ancient grand masters, three to open a lodge, “three distinct knocks,” three raps of the gavel, etc., etc.) to Craft symbolism (three stages of life, the Trivium, three symbolic supports, Theological Virtues, etc., etc.) and a lot more, even from outside the fraternity, such as the three equal branches of American governance. None of this has anything directly to do with Robert Burns, Freemasonry’s Poet Laureate, but the point was to display to the television audience how a Masonic lodge functions. The more than half-hour discussion probably will be distilled to a half-minute clip in the final production, I’d guess.

Later someone noted there were 33 of us in the meeting!

At some point during the exhibition, The Magpie Mason rose, stood on the Sign of Fidelity, and suggested:

Worshipful Master, in Freemasonry we see the Freemason himself embodying the Number 3. By symbolically being the Rough Ashlar in need of moral improvement; and by being the builder himself who endeavors that work; and finally by becoming the Perfect Ashlar at the end of life’s labors, it is Masonic Man who is the Number 3.

(When it looked as though things were winding down, I also offered: “This is off topic, but when we get to the Festive Board, we will charge our cannons and fire three times,” hoping for more of a laugh than I got!)

WHY IN THE EAST?—Wearing a kilt tonight got
you plum seating for the shoot!

So, those of you in the U.K. should expect to see us, however briefly, on January 25, 2017—Burns Night. Maybe the program will make it to American viewers on one of the BBC cable channels eventually.

God, I love New York Freemasonry.

1 comment:

Steven Papadakis said...

It was definitely a fun filming. Can't wait to see our segment aired.