Thursday, December 8, 2016

‘(Just Like) Starting Over’

(With apologies to John and Yoko.)

The radio today won’t let you forget how on this date in 1980 John Lennon was murdered outside his home in the Dakota. Only two months past his fortieth birthday and about three weeks after the release of Double Fantasy, the LP that returned him to public life after the better part of a decade of domesticity and scaled down celebrity. (This was so long ago that a rock legend could walk around Manhattan unmolested, except for the occasional autograph or photo.) In promotional interviews, Lennon explained this new record of his and his wife Yoko Ono’s was a message to the fans who had come of age listening to his music, basically saying Hey, I’m still here. Forty years old now, and doing well. Hope you are too.

Lennon was not a Freemason but, when a younger man, was one of the Quarrymen.

Hearing the signature song from that record, “(Just Like) Starting Over,” put me in a mood to share this belated update of my recent Masonic exploits, the biggest of which concerns my exit from New Jersey Freemasonry in favor of New York Masonry. I have preferred the latter for many years, and in fact wanted to make this change more than a decade ago. If you know me, you may have realized I sometimes procrastinate. Also, it was hard deciding on a lodge where I should affiliate. Anyway, I think I reported somewhere previously on The Magpie of my being elected to membership in Publicity Lodge 1000 in Manhattan about two years ago, but this is my first mention of leaving my original lodge, Peninsula 99 in Jersey.

© The New Yorker

It is misunderstood by some at Peninsula that my defection reveals a dislike of the brethren there. This is wholly untrue (except for one old timer). Peninsula Lodge is one of the strongest lodges among the hundred or so constituent to the Grand Lodge of New Jersey; its membership—again, except for that one—are the friendliest Masons you’ll meet. It is true the lodge does not provide what I personally require to enjoy a Masonic cultural experience, but this is not why I quit the lodge. I could have continued as a dual member of both Peninsula and Publicity. I had no particular desire to leave Peninsula. In fact, I’ll be there tonight for the installation of officers.

My demit simply was an escape from the grand lodge. Many of you know why, but if you don’t, ask me next time we meet and I’ll tell you.

But that is the ugly past, and for me, it is a distant past. I requested my demit from New Jersey on April 29 (the day after Grand Master Montuori left office); the lodge balloted on my request May 12; and I received the demit (New Jersey incorrectly spells it “dimit”—figures!—see Mackey’s Encyclopædia, etc., etc.) on June 3. I’m supposed to surrender this certificate to Publicity’s secretary, but I haven’t been able to let it go. It makes me feel good. I never had my 33° patent framed, but I want to have this matted and framed in gilded oak. Except I can’t. I have to give it to my lodge secretary. And I will. Eventually.

I’m having a great time assimilating into Publicity Lodge and New York Masonry. At the earliest opportunity, I qualified for NorthStar certification. That’s the future of Freemasonry, thanks to its basis on ideas obviously gleaned from the Knights of the North, the Masonic Restoration Foundation, and maybe a few other outspoken thinkers. I also passed the Masonic Development Course—and I received parchments in both these things! I want to get them framed too, and I never saved stuff like that. As your faithful blogger, I’m really looking forward to the Digital Square Club’s Webmasters Conference at Masonic Hall next month. At lodge, I’m especially grateful for being able to join this group of cheerful, hardworking Masons. Our Worshipful Master’s enthusiasm is infectious. The dedication of the officers is inspirational. Attendance at meetings is encouraging. About twenty Masons have been made in the past year, and a number of them are active in lodge life. They made me Tiler of the lodge on Monday. You read correctly. The original Tiler had to give it up for some reason, and the Master nudged me to take the job. I would have promised and sworn on a stack of VSLs that my officer days were over, but there I am, alarming at the outer door when the latecomers arrive.

I go to Square Club meetings.

The Magpie Mason is a member of the Square Club. The district’s Square Club! No Masonic education. No esoterica. No philosophy. No mindfulness exercises. No frankincense. Not a single beeswax votive anywhere. They plan parties and stuff. Golf outings. I go to these meetings. Me. There’s one next Wednesday.

As justifiably jaded as I am, starting anew in New York Freemasonry is (just like) starting over.

(God, I just heard Greg Lake has died.)


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