Sunday, January 1, 2017

‘Big news for 2017’

Cinema Group Ventures

New Year’s greetings to everybody in Masonic cyberspace, and thank you for reading The Magpie Mason, which begins its ninth full year with this post you’re reading now. I don’t know what everyone has been eating for breakfast lately, but readership has been in the several thousands per day during the past month or so, a reach I don’t think I’ve seen since the golden age of Masonic blogging back in 2009-10. Honestly, it is humbling to learn how what is basically a hobby of mine can be interesting enough to so many others who make time to read it. My thanks to you all.

But the big news for 2017 mentioned in the subject line concerns The Masonic Society, which also begins its ninth year this year.

Next month, The Masonic Society will hold its annual meeting in Virginia. That’s Friday, February 10, amid the Masonic Week festivities to take place at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City at Reagan National Airport in Arlington. This is one of the few events on the Masonic Week calendar that all Masons, their ladies, and friends of Freemasonry may attend. But unlike, say, the Society of Blue Friars meeting, our banquet is not free of charge. The food was terrific last year, and I’m sure it will be again, but we pay in advance. Click here to take care of that.

Our keynote speaker for the banquet will be Michael Poll, a Fellow and Past President of The Masonic Society, as well as the editor in chief of The Journal of the Masonic Society. Mike is owner of Cornerstone Book Publishers, and is a New York Times bestselling writer and publisher, in addition to being a prolific writer, editor, and publisher of Masonic and esoteric books. Additionally, he is a Fellow of the Philalethes Society, a Fellow of the Maine Lodge of Research, secretary of the Louisiana Lodge of Research, and a full member of the Texas Lodge of Research. As time permits, he travels and speaks on the history of Freemasonry, with a particular focus on the early history of the Scottish Rite.

If you plan to attend Masonic Week in any way, or if you live in the Washington, DC area and want to check it out, please make sure you get to this banquet—arguably the highlight of the annual event’s calendar.

Looking later into 2017, The Masonic Society will host its annual conference in Kentucky. “Celebrating 300 Years of Freemasonry” is the theme of this event to take place September 7-10 at the Embassy Suites in Lexington. Our cosponsors are Lexington Lodge 1 (chartered in 1788), the Rubicon Masonic Society, the Grand Lodge of Kentucky Education Committee, William O. Ware Lodge of Research, and Ted Adams Lodge of Research.

More details on everything to come later in 2017, but do anticipate a roster of nationally known speakers, a formal festive board at Spindletop Hall(!), and tours of local attractions, like the Kentucky Horse Park.

The initiative behind this upcoming conference in Kentucky is John Bizzack, a Fellow of the Society, and a member of its board of directors. You may know him through any of the five (I think it’s still five) books on Freemasonry he has written, or through the Rubicon Masonic Society and other educational groups and activities in Kentucky, or from Masonic cyberspace.

Speaking of Masonic cyberspace, The Masonic Society has a new member on our board of directors. Eric Diamond of Chicago joined the team in late 2016 upon the resignation of José Diaz. Eric is a Past Master of Oriental Lodge 33, Chicago’s oldest lodge. Surely you know him from X-Oriente, the podcast—actually the granddaddy of Masonic podcasts—that has been educating Freemasons all over the world since 2004.

The leadership of The Masonic Society is an all-star team, like the Harlem Globetrotters, or the 1927 Yankees, or the ’94 Rangers. The weak link in the chain is myself, but the other officers and the board members are Masons whose work you have been enjoying for years, even if you don’t know their names. Writers, researchers, lecturers, makers of bespoke regalia, officers at the national level—all proponents of improving the condition of the fraternity. (If you have noticed the degree of turnovers in our leadership ranks, let me explain it is because of the demands of serving The Masonic Society. It’s real work. I can name a number of Masonic groups that are happy with the prestige of gathering eminent Freemasons among their leaders, but The Masonic Society asks much of its officers and directors, and sometimes a brother decides it’s better for all concerned if he steps aside to allow for another to carry on the labors.)

The chief labor of The Masonic Society is its quarterly periodical The Journal of The Masonic Society, the 34th issue of which reached members’ mailboxes in December. Under the guidance of Editor-in-Chief Mike Poll and Art Director John Bridegroom, The Journal has a new look and a sharper editorial focus now. (Advertisers, contact me here to place your message in the pages of The Journal.)

Issue No. 34 features:

Fascinating content from the Society’s Fall 2016 conference in California: “Freemasonry on the Frontier.” John Bizzack (there he is again!) offers “The Expansion of Freemasonry into the West: The Pivotal Role of Kentucky, 1788-1815,” in which he explains how America’s first western state was home to American Freemasonry’s westernmost grand lodge, which set about chartering lodges throughout the nation’s north, south, and west regions. This resulted in a kind of standardization of customs and usages based on Kentucky’s own, with results enduring through today.

Knights of the North alum (and possibly the most handsome man in Freemasonry) Bill Hosler, who likes to scatter his lodge memberships among a number of states to keep people guessing, asks “Living Stones or Bricks?” in which he weighs the meanings of making oneself better in the Masonic context.

Barry Denton, also of Kentucky, submits “Thoughts of Freemasons: Freemasonry and the Generational Gap,” that endeavors to make some sense of what Masons of different generations require of the fraternity.

In addition, there are book reviews (with maybe a literary feud in bloom!), poetry, breathtaking photography, the Masonic Treasures feature on the back cover, and much more.

C’mon, it’s $45 a year for membership in the United States. Make it a New Year’s resolution, and join now.

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