Thursday, October 21, 2010

‘Second Circle’s first meeting’

“No one has even begun to understand comradeship who does not accept with it a certain hearty eagerness in eating, drinking, or smoking.”

G.K. Chesterson
“What’s Wrong with the World”

Save the date, and make your reservations! The Masonic Society’s New Jersey Second Circle will hold its first Gathering on Tuesday, November 30 at 7 p.m.

Bloomfield Steak & Seafood House is located at 409 Franklin St. in Bloomfield, just a minute from Exit 148 of the Garden State Parkway.

We’ll meet at 6:30 for cocktails (cash bar) before retiring to our private room to enjoy a full course dinner. An entertaining address will follow, courtesy of Bro. Ben Hoff, the Right Worshipful Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey and Worshipful Master of NJ Lodge of Masonic Research and Education No. 1786.

Cost per person: $40. All Master Masons are welcome! Deadline for reservations is November 24. For info on how to make your reservation, just post a note in the comments section below, and I'll get back to you.

M.W. Roger VanGorden, the first president of The Masonic Society, greets keynote speaker Yasha Beresiner at the Society’s First Circle Gathering at Masonic Week last year. In addition to the First Circle Gatherings each February in Virginia, The Masonic Society hosts Semi-Annual Meetings in different cities around the country. (Indianapolis in 2009; New Orleans in 2010; and Salt Lake City for July 2011.)

The food at Bloomfield Steak & Seafood House is outstanding, and the ambiance and history of this unique establishment make it irresistible. It is the perfect venue for us, not only because it returns us somewhat to our Masonic roots in the taverns, but the story of this particular building is amazing, and even involves some notable Freemasons.

Here is how the Township of Bloomfield describes the site in its literature:

“Back in the 1600s, they built for longevity. Take for instance the Joseph Davis House.... The Davis house is a monument to the early history of Bloomfield, the oldest of the town’s pre-Revolutionary War homes. It is listed on both the state and national historic registers. Built by Thomas Davis in 1670, the house was occupied by his descendants until 1903. It has been associated with many historic events:

“During the Revolution, a tunnel in the cellar ran to the foot of Orange Mountain and was used by women and children to escape the British.

“A wounded English soldier was taken in by the Davis family and nursed back to health. To show his appreciation, the soldier built the well that still remains on the property, and hewed the stone wash basin that sits next to the well.

“General George Washington and General Henry Knox stopped at the homestead for directions to Morristown and were entertained for dinner. (Magpie Note: Both were Masons.)

“In the late 1700s, when the home was occupied by Deacon Joseph Davis, worship services were regularly held in the house. Otherwise, the closest churches were in Newark or Orange. In 1796, when the First Presbyterian Church on the green was built, Deacon Davis, a founding member, provided, for the sum of eight pounds, the land on which the church still stands.

“The charter of Bloomfield was signed in the house’s ‘beam ceiling room’ by General [and Bro.] Joseph Bloomfield in 1796. A group of citizens meeting at the home named the town after Bloomfield, who was a New Jersey governor and Revolutionary War officer.

“During the past two centuries, the Davis Homestead has been a farmhouse, hospital, church and restaurant. Only a handful of property transfers has occurred since Revolutionary War times, but what a tale the building tells from its early days!”

All 70 members of The Masonic Society who reside in New Jersey have been invited, but this event is open to all Master Masons from lodges of both the Grand Lodge of New Jersey and the M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New Jersey, AND grand lodges in amity with them. Reservations in advance are required; don't forget to post a message in the comments section of this blog for information about that.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

‘Welcome to New York!’

They met at Keens tonight. That’s the brethren of St. John’s Lodge No. 1, Ancient York Masons, and honored guest Bro. Robert Davis, at Keens Steakhouse for a Festive Board. Bro. Bob is President of the Masonic Restoration Foundation, the think tank that gave birth to the Traditional Observance movement in American Freemasonry. St. John’s attained its T.O. certification in 2007, the year of its 250th anniversary, proving that old lodges can learn “new” tricks. Since it began adopting the hallmarks of T.O. lodges, St. John’s No. 1 has transformed itself from a typical lodge on the Masonic landscape to a unique force in Freemasonry that others would be wise to emulate.

They dined on a three-course meal in the Bull Moose Room at Keens, named for Bro. Theodore Roosevelt, in the spirit of “making good men better!”

A little about Bro. Bob:

Robert G. Davis is Executive Secretary of the Scottish Rite Bodies in Guthrie, Oklahoma. He is a Past Master of three Masonic lodges, and served as the charter Master of Guildhall Lodge No. 553, a traditional practices lodge in Oklahoma. He is a KYCH, a 33° Mason, and recipient of the Grand Cross. He has been employed by the Scottish Rite in Oklahoma for 24 years. He is a Past Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Oklahoma, and serves as the Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Oklahoma Masonic Charity Foundation. He is a Past Sovereign in the Red Cross of Constantine, Past Sovereign Master in the Allied Masonic Degrees, and Past Governor of the Oklahoma York Rite College. Nationally, he is on the Education Committee of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America, the Masonic Education and Research Committee and Rituals and Ritualistic Matters Committee of the United Grand Imperial Council of the Red Cross of Constantine, and serves as the Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Scottish Rite Research Society and Editor of Heredom. He is President of the Masonic Restoration Foundation. He also serves on the Steering Committee of the Masonic Information Center of the United States. He is past President and Fellow of the Philalethes Society and serves as the editor of the High Council publications of Masonic Rosicrucians. He is a member of the Nine Muses Council No. 13 in Washington, D.C.

Robert is well known both in the areas of Masonic Research and Masonic Renewal. For his work in Masonic Renewal, he was awarded the Paul Horn Memorial Medal by the Grand Lodge of the State of Washington. He was the first person to receive this highest award of that state who is not a Past Grand Master. In 1999, he was selected to receive the Grand Master’s Award of the Grand Lodge of Kansas (the highest honor given by that Grand Lodge) for his work in Masonic Leadership.

Davis also holds the Cross of Honor and the Legion of Honor in DeMolay and is an Honorary Member of the Supreme Council of the International Order of DeMolay.

Before moving to Guthrie, Davis served 14 years in the City Management and City Planning professions. He is past president of the Guthrie Education Foundation and the Lions Club. He served two terms on the City Council of the City of Guthrie, where he served as Chairman of the Finance Committee and Chairman of the Guthrie Industrial Development Authority. In addition to being employed with the Guthrie Scottish Rite, Davis is also a freelance writer and a grant writer for governmental entities, Native American tribes, and non-profit organizations.

His hobbies include history, sociology, the esoteric traditions, men’s studies; and writing about all of these. He is currently writing a book on the history and evolution of the Masonic ritual, and has published a book on manhood in America, focusing on the fraternal quest for the ideal in masculinity. Robert is married. He and his wife Sharon have two daughters and three grandchildren.

Bro. Bob spoke tonight on “The Heart of Traditional Observance Masonry.” In addition, the George Washington Inaugural Bible was present, and there also was a supply of the miniature reproduction Bibles on hand for sale.

Sorry I couldn’t attend, but I hope to see you soon, Bob.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

‘Swedenborg, Yeats, and Freemasonry’

Breaking news!

The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York and the William Butler Yeats Society of New York present:

Swedenborg, Yeats, and Freemasonry

Marsha Keith Schuchard, who has written extensively on these three related subjects, will talk about the long-running Masonic melodrama into which Yeats was drawn when he met MacGregor Mathers, and the two dreamed of using esoteric/fraternal powers to bring independence to Scotland and Ireland.

She ties Yeats’ Swedenborgian and Masonic interests to the Nobel Prize he won in 1923.

Monday, November 8 at 6 p.m.
Masonic Hall
The Chapter Room, 12th floor
71 West 23rd St.
New York City

This event is free and open to the public.

‘Building the Great Cathedrals’


It’s not every day that I can endorse a television program, but tonight’s PBS broadcast of Nova, titled “Building the Great Cathedrals,” is an obvious choice. Although I haven’t seen it, if it is anywhere near as compelling as “Secrets of the Parthenon,” which I watched again Sunday night as a repeat, then it should be thrilling and revelatory.

As they say, check your local listings.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

‘Magic Flute in Morristown’


Conductor David Lockington lead the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra
through its “Best of Mozart” repertoire Thursday night
at the Community Theatre in Morristown.

Masonry-wise, it was only the Overture of The Magic Flute on the program, but the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra was wonderful Thursday night at the Community Theatre in Morristown. In its “Best Of” series, the NJSO sampled seven Mozart pieces – symphonies, operas, and concertos – plus Mozartiana by Tchaikovsky.

The acoustics in this venue are sublime. I’ve attended all kinds of concerts in all kinds of halls, but this theater is very different. I close my eyes while listening, and it is not possible to discern from which direction the music comes to you. It just kind of descends upon you like a mist. The dominance of the strings made the sound even more ethereal. It really seemed to appear supernaturally within the ears.

With only The Magic Flute’s Overture to connect the event to Freemasonry (if you don’t know, The Magic Flute is the opera known for its heavy use of Masonic symbols and themes in its story) I’ll let the photos do the talking. The venue does permit non-flash photography, which I did not know, which is why I didn’t have a real camera, which is why I used my Maxwell Smart shoe-camera, which is why these photos look the way they do. Sorry about that, Chief.

Readying for the Adagio of Sinfonia Concertante for Flute, Oboe, Horn, and Bassoon (K. 297b). From left: Principal Flute Bart Feller, Principal Bassoon Robert Wagner, Principal Horn Lucinda Lewis, and Principal Oboe Robert Ingliss.

A very affable conductor, David Lockington paused between pieces
to explain some musicology to his audience.

‘On the Magic Square’

Last night was the long-awaited appearance of Bro. Steve Burkle at Atlas-Pythagoras Lodge, where he spoke on “The 47th Problem of Euclid and the Magic Squares,” an exploration of historic and esoteric aspects of the Pythagorean Theorem. Steve is a prolific writer and presenter of research work, keeping busy in a variety of venues, including the AMD. His lecture was the last in the lodge’s “Enlightening the Temple” series, that brought to the podium seven guest speakers during the year, including Rashied Bey, Trevor Stewart, and Tim Wallace-Murphy.

On the historical side, Steve explained the known origins – mathematical and historical – of the Theorem, and explained away the clumsy manner in which it is explained in the lecture of the Third Degree. In the process, he told us about John Dee and a curiosity named Plimpton 322. The former, of course, was the 16th century English esotericist and mathematician. The latter is an ancient Babylonian cuneiform, numbered 322 among the G.A. Plimpton Collection at Columbia University, and might be the best known artifact to show mathematics in archeological history. It dates to 1900-1600 BCE, and it reveals the most advanced mathematics known previous to ancient Greece because it teaches how to form right triangles akin to the Pythagorean way.

The 47th Problem of Euclid is key to Freemasonry because it is elemental to the design of the universe. In short:

In any right triangle, the area of the square whose side is the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the areas of the squares whose sides are the two legs (the two sides that meet at a right angle).

Often written as the equation:

a2 + b2 = c2

With the number 3 being a common denominator of deity, there are many ways the triad speaks to divinity. Plato’s three-fold principle has Thought (father/generative power), Primitive Matter (mother/passive principle), and Kosmos (offspring/product). Plutarch, writing of Isis and Osiris, continues along this thinking and explains that within this right triangle the perpendicular is the masculine; the base is the feminine; and their offspring (Horus) is the hypotenuse. (Read the Master Mason chapter in Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma for a smarter rendering of this. Regardless of how much or how little one might meditate on geometrical theorems, this particular one can be appreciated as part of the “DNA” of the universe.)

Bro. Steve later explored numerology and gematria, linking the Pythagorean Theorem to what is called the Magic Square. A Magic Square is a matrix of rows and columns containing numbers that all agree on the same sum, no matter which direction is taken to add those numbers. To wit:

I think what I like most about Powerpoint presentations is how I can
photograph the images, instead of frantically taking notes!

Then, combining the geometry of the Pythagorean triangle with the numerology of the Magic Square and the cosmic implications of Kaballah, Steve illustrated his theory of a kind of code that defines the universe.

Read more about Steve’s presentation here. He explains Masonic symbolism very poetically and cogently, especially regarding the place occupied by the initiate upon taking his oath and obligation.

The Worshipful Master thanks Bro. Steve for the lecture.

Worshipful Master Mohamad Yatim deserves hearty praise for his work this year, a term during which he not only successfully governed the lodge’s traditional operations while setting attendance records with his lecture series, but also remained on top of the ever increasing mandates of the grand lodge. I am proud to know him, and am very excited to be working with him in 2011 at the Valley of Northern New Jersey, where we will be part of a group that revives a long-dormant Masonic education program. More on that later this fall.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

‘Prestonian Lecture at Buffalo’

W. Bro. Wayne Buffett Warlow, the 2010 Prestonian Lecturer, will speak Monday, October 25 at Ancient Landmarks Lodge No. 358 in New York. His lecture is titled “Music in Masonry and Beyond,” which he promises will inform, educate, and entertain.

The lecturer is a Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden from South Wales. A multi-instrumentalist, Bro. Warlow has been involved in some 1,800 film, television, and radio productions, with innumerable live performances, and theatrical performances with artists ranging from Sir Geraint Evans to Tony Bennett to Dame Anna Neagle to Catherine Zeta Jones. He has been the Conductor of the BBC Radio Orchestra and has produced film scores which have won awards at the New Zealand Film Awards and the Monte Carlo International Film and Television Festival.

Ancient Landmarks Lodge meets at Sweethome Masonic Hall, located at 641 Sweethome Road in Amherst. (This is the Buffalo area, very much outside the Magpie Mason’s habitual flight pattern.)

There is no cost to attend this lecture, but please know that W. Barlow has published his complete lecture in a 28-page booklet, the sale of which supports charitable causes. He also has produced a CD of the full versions of the many pieces of music that illustrate specific points of his lecture. The CD is intended to serve as a memento of the occasion as well as provide listening pleasure for almost 1 hour and 20 minutes.

The booklet and CD will be sold separately at $10 each.

Monday, October 11, 2010

‘Burning bridges, raising doubt’

It’s not news that the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction changes the corpus of its degrees very frequently, either by altering rituals or outright replacing them, but one of the newest innovations is especially painful. The Grand Pontiff Degree was one of those “Higher Grades” that connects the AASR to its roots in the French Rite of Perfection of the 18th century. It was the 19° then, and it was the 19° throughout the nearly two centuries of AASR-NMJ history, but as of August 31 it is gone.

The reasons for such shocking changes now are a familiar refrain: The traditional degrees are “dead, dull, overloaded with symbolism,” (see page 3 of the August 2010 issue of The Northern Light magazine) and too difficult to confer because too many ritualists are required. I don’t believe any of that could be said about Grand Pontiff. And no, this degree has nothing to do with the Holy Father of the Roman Catholic Church. “Pontiff” derives from the Latin for “bridge builder.” In the degree’s context, it means the life of the 19° Mason is but a connection between what was built before him, and what will arise after he is gone. The concept is not foreign or hard to understand; nor is it accidental that this ritual is the first of the Consistorial degrees, as it bridges the right thinking of the Rose Croix Chapter to the right actions exemplified in the Consistory. (I put that in the present tense because Grand Pontiff still lives among the degrees of the Mother Supreme Council and other jurisdictions. Thank God.)

The purportedly inscrutable Albert Pike, writing in his allegedly incomprehensible Morals and Dogma, his anthology of lectures for Scottish Rite degrees 1-32, perfectly lucidly explains:

“The true Mason labors for the benefit of those who are to come after him, and for the advancement and improvement of [the human] race. [It] is a poor ambition which contents itself within the limits of a single life. All men who deserve to live, desire to survive their funerals, and to live afterward in the good that they have done mankind, rather than in the fading characters written in men’s memories. Most men desire to leave some work behind them that may outlast their own day and brief generation. That is an instinctive impulse, given by God, and often found in the rudest human heart; [it is] the surest proof of the soul’s immortality, and of the fundamental difference between man and the wisest brutes. To plant the trees that, after we are dead, shall shelter our children, is as natural as to love the shade of those our fathers planted. The rudest unlettered husbandman, painfully conscious of his own inferiority; the poorest widowed mother, giving her lifeblood to those who pay only for the work of her needle, will toil and stint themselves to educate their child, that he may take a higher station in the world than they – the world’s greatest benefactors.”

Later in the lecture:

“It is the ambition of a true and genuine Mason [to know] the slow processes by which the Deity brings about great results; he does not expect to reap as well as sow in a single lifetime. It is the inflexible fate and noblest destiny, with rare exceptions, of the great and good, to work and let others reap the harvest of their labors....

“To sow, that others may reap; to work and plant for those who are to occupy the earth when we are dead; to project our influences far into the future, and live beyond our time; to rule as the Kings of Thought, over men who are yet unborn; to bless with the glorious gifts of Truth and Light and Liberty those who will neither know the name of the giver, nor care in what grave his unregarded ashes repose, is the true office of a Mason and the proudest destiny of a man.

“All the great and beneficent operations of Nature are produced by slow and often imperceptible degrees. The work of destruction and devastation only is violent and rapid. The volcano and earthquake; the tornado and the avalanche leap suddenly into full life and fearful energy, and smite with an unexpected blow....”

It’s a digression, but perhaps something additional was at work here, even if ulteriorly. This same lecture in Morals and Dogma also contains the quotation most often jerked out of context by religious demagogues accusing Freemasonry of {cough} devil worship: “Lucifer the Light-bearer! ... Lucifer, the Son of the Morning!” Left in its stated context, this is part of a short paragraph that explains how those who receive the Grand Pontiff Degree despise “all the pomps and works of Lucifer,” and warns that this most ironically named spirit (“Lucifer,” again from Latin, means simply “bearer of light.”) wields the power to blind “feeble, sensual, [and] selfish souls.”

So what has replaced this ritual? The new degree is called Brothers of the Trail, and it takes place on the Oregon Trail during the 1840s. It imparts a lesson in integrity.

Three other rituals were eliminated this year: Intendant of the Building (8°), Master Elect (10°), and Knight of the Sun (28°). In addition, Grand Inspector (30°) is subject to review, as the NMJ strives to reinvent itself on behalf of 21st century man. I was told privately that these changes are necessary because modern man does not learn in the same ways as our grandfathers, to which I immediately replied “But we coexist in the same country as the Southern Jurisdiction.” It cannot be said that the SJ makes no changes to its rituals – it certainly has – but it opts to retain its heritage and culture in the form of its traditional teachings.

Speaking of Knight of the Sun, which was the 23° of the Rite of Perfection, Pike writes: “Doubt, the essential preliminary of all improvement and discovery, must accompany all the stages of man’s onward progress.”

Sunday, October 10, 2010

‘Passion, tenacity, and prowess’

After the cornerstone ceremony (See “Consecrating the stone” below), I was off to Manhattan for One World Symphony’s second performance in its tenth anniversary season at Church of the Holy Apostles on Ninth Avenue.

The New York Daily News wrote Bro. Michael Crane’s performance was “a fete of sheer passion, tenacity, and prowess.” And so it was.
Crane, a member of Kane Lodge No. 454 of the Fourth Manhattan District, played Sergei Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 4 (For the Left Hand), Op. 53. Composed in 1931 (debuted in 1956), Prokofiev dedicated this piece to pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm in World War I. The calamities and horrors of war were thematic for the program of the evening. The repertoire can be read here.

I was too busy applauding to get a photo of Bro. Crane after his performance, but here are a few random shots from before the concert:

Church of the Holy Apostles is located at 296 Ninth Ave.

Its gorgeous interior with vaulted ceiling.

The church organ.

Tuning and warming up before the concert.

Mindful of the anti-war theme of the evening’s program, I was stunned upon my arrival at the church to find directly across the street this World War I memorial to the soldiers and sailors from Chelsea who fought in The Great War. Coincidental, yet powerful. This doughboy faces the church.

‘Consecrating the stone’

The Magpie got scooped by the Dummies blog! Fair enough. I’ve been a negligent blogger in recent weeks.

It’s rare that Freemasonry gets to display its timeless traditions in public, but the afternoon of Sunday, September 19 was one such occasion, as the Grand Lodge of New Jersey and the brethren of the local lodges in Union County performed the ceremony of consecration and cornerstone-laying at a church in Cranford.

Trinity, an Episcopal church that has stood in the center of town since 1875 (the church had been incorporated three years earlier) on land donated by parishioners, has renovated and modernized its building and grounds several times during its history. Hopefully this remodeling endeavor will serve the faithful for many years to come. The congregation will hold its first service in its newly renovated building on December 5, and on January 15, The Right Rev. George E. Councell XI, Bishop of New Jersey, will re-consecrate this sacred space.

This affair immediately brought to mind the 2009 Prestonian Lecture by Bro. John Wade, whose “Go and Do Thou Likewise” explained the purposes and history of English Masonic processions from the 18th to the 20th centuries. His title is borrowed from the King James Version of Luke 10:37, when Christ relates the parable of the Good Samaritan as the right thinking and right action rewarded with eternal life, so the connection to this ceremony on the grassless front lawn of Trinity Church is natural.

And we indeed had a procession. A century ago there would have been hundreds, if not thousands, of Masons and Knights Templar marching through town to celebrate an important cultural event for the town, but we do what we can these days. I’d say there were about 65 Masons present, with church congregants and other citizens drawn to the curious sight. The local police and fire departments were extremely helpful, closing off streets and hoisting an enormous 48-star flag for the occasion.

Templar honor guard leads the procession.

Members of local lodges approach the church.

An officer of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey addresses the audience.

The ceremonial Working Tools
and the Elements of Consecration are ready.

Junior Grand Warden David Dorworth proves the verticals
of the cornerstone by applying the Plumb.

Senior Grand Warden Glenn Trautmann pours the wine
of prosperity and gladness onto the cornerstone.

The Cranford Fire Department hoists
an enormous, antique 48-star flag over the site.

The Rev. Dr. Gina Walsh-Minor, Rector of Trinity Church,
sprinkles holy water onto the stone.

According to Bro. Wade’s research, there traditionally are three types of public Masonic processions: Display Processions, in which the brethren show themselves and their regalia; Ceremonial Processions, where Masons celebrate religious or civil occasions in public; and Building Processions, at which Freemasons demonstrate the operative origins of the Craft by inaugurating buildings. This occasion encompassed all three varieties.

“Processions are where we are most obviously in the public sphere,” Wade’s lecture concluded. “I suggest that we should explore the possibility of a return of these activities. I am concerned that, with regard to our public image, we have lost that civic association that we have had for hundreds of years. As we move further into the 21st century, we surely need to be proactive about our civic identity. For the man in the street, we should be demonstrating that we have a civic association with the community, and that we are not a secret society or private members’ club. Certainly we have our private space – and that is what distinguishes us from other charitable organizations – but we also have a rich heritage of moral integrity with its allegorical ceremonies and symbolism that has continued in unbroken tradition for close on 300 years. With such a sense of display, we can restore confidence in the genuine meaningfulness of what it is that makes us Masons.”

No argument here.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

‘Mozart in Mo-town’

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will return to the Community Theatre in Morristown next week to perform a Mozart program in its new “Best of” series of performances. A quartet of concerts will take the NJSO to four venues between October 14 and 17. Click here for the schedule and for tickets.

Excellent seats still are available, even at the $18 level!

Click here for audio of the selections, and to view a two minute promotional video featuring Music Director Jacques Lacombe, in his inaugural season with the NJSO.

The repertoire:

Mozart The Magic Flute Overture, K. 620

Mozart Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622
II. Adagio
Karl Herman: clarinet

Mozart Symphony No. 1 in E-flat Major, K. 16
III. Presto

Mozart Symphony No. 35 in D Major, K. 385, Haffner
Allegro con spirito

Tchaikovsky Suite No. 4, Op. 61, Mozartiana
III. Preghiera

Mozart Don Giovanni Overture, K. 527

Mozart Sinfonia Concertante for Flute, Oboe, Horn, and Bassoon,
K. 297b
II. Adagio
Bart Feller: flute
Robert Ingliss: oboe
Robert Wagner: bassoon
Lucinda Lewis: horn

Mozart Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551, Jupiter
IV. Molto allegro

Alex, get the Cincinnati boys together and get other there!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

‘History to take home’

Product endorsement is not the goal here, but since this involves St. John’s Lodge No. 1, Antient York Masons, in New York City, I thought it deserves mention. It is the new offer from Macoy Masonic Supply Co. of reproductions of the George Washington Inaugural Bible. These are smaller facsimiles of the same holy text upon which Bro. Washington placed his hand while taking the presidential oath of office for the first time on April 30, 1789. It is the altar Bible of St. John’s Lodge.

Read more about it here.

(I cannot vouch for some of the information quoted from [cough] Wikipedia at the bottom of this ad in the Macoy catalog.) These Bibles also are available at the lodge if you’re able to visit. A fine gift idea for the Mason who has everything. Just sayin’.

‘Heroes: Mortals and Myths’

There is no obvious connection here to Masonic ritual and symbol, unless you really do a background check on a certain artificer we know, during which you will bump heads with Greek gods and heroes like Hephaestus and Daedalus. Of course in other inquiries we can meet Hermes, Pallas Athena, and others. All this makes the current exhibition at the Onassis Cultural Center in midtown Manhattan well worthwhile for the thinking Freemason.

As the curator says:

Heroes: Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece
Exhibition to explore the role of heroes in society
Onassis Cultural Center
October 5, 2010 - January 3, 2011

The age-old figures of Herakles, Odysseus, Achilles and Helen continue to fire the popular imagination today-and so does the concept of heroes, which began with the stories and images of these and other fabled Greek characters. Yet the very word “hero” has a different meaning in our society than it did in an ancient Greek world that seemed, to its people, to be alive with Greek heroes and heroines.

Heroes brings together more than 90 exceptional artworks focusing on the Archaic, Classical and the Hellenistic period (6th - 1st century BCE), drawn from collections in the United States and Europe. Through these objects, which range from large-scale architectural sculptures to beautifully decorated pottery and miniature carved gemstones, the exhibition shows how the ancient Greek heroes were understood and how they served as role models. It also explores this human need for heroes as role models through the arts of one of the oldest and most influential civilizations in history.

To provide a better understanding of the lives, fates and meanings of the first heroes and heroines, to explore the inherent human need for heroes and to give audiences an opportunity to measure their own ideas of heroes against the ideas represented by a wealth of extraordinary Classical Greek artworks, the Onassis Cultural Center in Midtown Manhattan presents the exhibition Heroes: Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece, on view from October 5, 2010 to January 3, 2011. Admission is free.

The exhibition has been organized by the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, in cooperation with the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, the San Diego Museum of Art and the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA).

The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Comprehensive brochures are offered free to visitors.

Educational programs include guided tours for students of schools, colleges and universities and bi-weekly tours, every Tuesday and Thursday at 1 p.m., open to the public.

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m - 6:00 p.m.
Admission: Free

Entrances on 51st and 52nd streets between Fifth and Madison avenues.

Please do visit the Onassis Center website to read much more and enjoy the photos.

Maybe I will see you there. I’m going to try to get Mythology Café and my classical literature book club to make group trips and take the tour.

Head of Polyphemos, First or second century A.D., Roman, Thasian marble, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Photo © 2010 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Monday, October 4, 2010

‘The Magic Flute as poetry’

Wednesday, December 1 is the night when the 92nd Street Y will host poet J.D. McClatchy for an evening of readings from his new English translations of Mozart libretti, including his interpretation of The Magic Flute, which of course is the opera known for its employment of Masonic symbols and themes. As the Y puts it:

An Evening of Mozart
with J.D. McClatchy
and the Metropolitan Opera

Poet J. D. McClatchy’s English-language libretto of Mozart’s The Magic Flute has become a holiday favorite at The Metropolitan Opera. He has now translated seven of the libretti, including The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and Così Fan Tutte. “A remarkable achievement,” wrote Richard Wilbur. “Mozart and Da Ponte will be smiling down on this volume.” Upon the book’s publication, Mr. McClatchy is joined by singers from this year’s production of The Magic Flute for an evening of readings and performance.

In the music world, the translation of opera libretti out of their mother tongues is unorthodox and often disliked, and I bet McClatchy’s book of The Magic Flute raised eyebrows among opera traditionalists. (One would think they have their own ritual instructors demanding rigid adherence to the way it’s “always” been done!) Personally, I think he makes the opera accessible at no cost to the substance or nuance of the story.

The Magic Flute indeed returns to The Met this holiday season for eight performances between December 21 and January 6, 2011. Click here for information and tickets.

Photo courtesy 92nd Street Y.

‘Old No. 2 at 250’

Independent Royal Arch Lodge No. 2 in New York City will celebrate its 250th anniversary with a Black Tie dinner-dance later this month at a venerable private club in Manhattan. (Another wonderful event I cannot attend.)

From the invitation:

Independent Royal Arch Lodge No. 2, F&AM, stands as one of the oldest fraternal and social institutions in continuous existence in the City of New York. Chartered by Provincial Grand Master George Harrison on December 15, 1760, “Old No. 2,” as it is popularly styled, has, for two-and-a-half centuries, exerted a civilizing and fraternal influence in New York.

While we recognize 1760 as the date of our charter, many think that the lodge is actually older. Old Number 2 precedes the founding of the Grand lodge of New York, which it joined in 1784. However, IRA Lodge retained its Royal Lodge landmarks, such as the red trim on its aprons, and its right to grant the Royal Arch degree. It is generally held that we began as a military lodge during the French and Indian War, whether English, Scottish or Irish. IRA Lodge has a long military history; brothers of this lodge fought and served with valor and distinction in every American conflict from the Revolutionary War to the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Members of the lodge were instrumental in the founding and organization of Ancient Chapter Number One, Royal Arch Masons, which is one of the premier Royal Arch Chapters. In the centuries of its existence, Old No. 2 has either organized or sponsored 19 daughter lodges in the Grand Jurisdiction of New York. Today, Independent Royal Arch Lodge has a diverse membership consisting of prominent attorneys, physicians, writers, architects, educators, and businessmen, as well as professionals in the arts including performers with the Metropolitan Opera. Many brothers of the lodge are active with prominent clubs and societies in New York City, especially those relating to history, including the Society of the Cincinnati, Society of Colonial Wars in the State of New York, the St. Nicholas Society of New York, the St. Andrew’s Society of New York, and the St George’s Society of New York.

We of Independent Royal Arch Lodge No. 2 look back upon an eventful and productive fraternal history of 250 years. We move forward into the future united by the ancient precepts of our Gentle Craft, and strong in the faith of the ancient Masters who preceded us in Freemasonry. Our mission is to continue to breathe spiritual life into the hearts of men in our great city, and to infuse them anew with the bright light of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.