Saturday, November 26, 2016

‘Research lodge doings in Jersey and Virginia’

New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education No. 1786 will meet Saturday, December 10 for our installation of officers. While we usually meet at Hightstown-Apollo Lodge No. 41 in Hightstown, we will gather at the Trenton Masonic Temple (100 Barrack Street in Trenton) for the biannual installation of officers. Lodge opens at 9:30 a.m.

The lodge concludes a two-year term characterized by common sense stability under the instruction of Worshipful Master Dave Tucker. Ask anyone who is active in a research lodge in the United States (I’m in regular touch with many), and you’ll be told how difficult it is to keep the lodge productive. It has been my chief complaint about the fraternity almost since I was raised a Master Mason that Freemasonry here has done a poor job of cultivating a membership of intellectually curious men. It’s not necessary to hold a Ph.D. to be a Freemason or to enjoy a lodge of Masonic research, but despite the accessibility, research lodges all over suffer from a deprivation of talent and the resulting shortage of scholarly findings for presentation at the lectern. This results in fewer meetings of research lodges, and often in a flickering of weak Light during the meetings that are opened.

Our incoming Worshipful Master is Bro. Robert Howard, who currently serves the Grand Lodge of New Jersey as its Right Worshipful Grand Historian. Bob is a Mason who “gets it.” While he hasn’t divulged to me his overall plans for his two years in office, he has asked me to take the lead at our March 11, 2017 meeting at Hightstown to address the problem I defined above. My talk is titled “Question Everything (And Answer as Best You Can),” and the point is to explain what Masonic research and education means with the goal of demystifying work that really is straightforward and within most Masons’ grasp. More on this in a later edition of The Magpie Mason as that date nears.

Since 1995, Civil War Lodge of Research No. 1865 has been a forum where Masonic scholars mutually enjoy research into the innumerable ways the story of Freemasonry intersects with the history of the U.S. Civil War. Chartered by the Grand Lodge of Virginia—which probably holds the record for having the most lodges of Masonic research within one jurisdiction’s borders (I’ve lost count. Either five or six.)—and authorized to travel about Virginia and beyond, this lodge convenes meetings at various lodges, historic sites, and other venues where this singular focus of academic endeavor fits. Membership is open to Master Masons within and without Virginia. One of the Past Masters is a New York Mason!

The lodge’s installation of officers will take place Saturday, December 10 at Manasseh Lodge No. 182 (9810 Cockrell Road in Manassas). Lodge opens at 10 a.m. and the installation will begin at 11:30. Lunch to follow.

For 2017, the lodge plans to meet April 8 at Appomattox, July 8 at Winchester, and October 7 at Fredericksburg. Details to come.

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