Saturday, February 26, 2011

‘Orations in Ramsey’

It’s been a long day, capped with a great feast at Sagaponack, and I’m too tired and overfed to post a Magpie recap of the utterly mind-roasting event hosted this afternoon by the Rose Circle Research Foundation. And tomorrow I want to get to the New York Public Library to catch “Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam” on its final day of exhibition. (It opened in October, and I just haven’t been able to get there. I missed MOBIA’s “A Light to the Nations,” and I ain’t missing this one!)

Where was I going with this?

Yes! Bedways is rightways now. I’ll post Rose Circle photos and info tomorrow. In the meantime, here is an update on New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education No. 1786:

We are going on the road next month. When the lodge was organized nine years ago, we spoke of maybe holding our meetings in different venues around the state, for the sake of variety and to bring our work to lodges far and wide. The brethren of Hawthorne-Fortitude Lodge No. 200 in Ramsey approached us last year and offered their hospitality, ergo our presence on Saturday, March 12. Lodge opens at 9:30 a.m. Attire: suit and tie. Lunch to be served afterward.

On the agenda:

“Ode to Joy,” a paper on the glorious Ninth by Ludwig van, presented by Bro. Howard Kanowitz; and

“Masonic Trestleboards,” an A/V presentation by Bro. Ben Hoff.

I was going to have a paper of my own on the subject of Ramsay’s Oration and what I suspect is its proper context within the Romantic Movement in the arts of that period, but it is incomplete. Perhaps less time blogging would be helpful.

Hawthorne-Fortitude Lodge No. 200 is located at 24 North Franklin Turnpike in Ramsey.

Friday, February 25, 2011

‘Stellar Theology in the Lamp of Knowledge’

Nutley Lodge No. 25 continues its Lamp of Knowledge Lecture Series March 21 with a presentation by RW Bro. Rashied Bey, who will speak on “Stellar Theology and Masonic Astronomy.”

Lodge opens at 7:30 p.m. (almost exactly 24 hours after the Vernal Equinox). 175 Chestnut St. in Nutley.

Apprentices and Fellows, properly avouched, are welcome.

Bro. Rashied is a member of Cornerstone Lodge No. 37 under the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

‘Wendell K. Walker Lecture 2011’

Independent Royal Arch Lodge No. 2 has announced the Annual Wendell K. Walker Lecture will take place on the evening of Thursday, March 24.

Bro. Trevor Stewart
on “Masonic Lodges in Colonial North America.”

16 Gramercy Park South

Cocktails at 7 p.m. in the Sargent Room (cash bar)
Dinner at eight in the Ball Room – $65 per person

Attire: Business

Open to Freemasons and their guests

Advance reservations are essential, and must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, March 18. Leave a note, with your e-mail address, in the Comments Section below (which will not be published) and I’ll send you the contact information.

Bro. Trevor Stewart is a retired lecturer who was educated at Birmingham, Sheffield, Durham and Newcastle universities. His academic work specialised in 18th century English literature, and his doctorate research focused on a coterie of gentlemen Freemasons who lived in the north of England during the Enlightenment period.

Trevor has continued to give fully documented papers on various Masonic subjects in American, Belgian, French, German and Scottish lodges – at both lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge levels – as well as in many English Lodges and Royal Arch Chapters, and in London’s ancient Guildhall. He also has taught in history seminars at Cambridge, Oxford and Harvard universities, which focused on newly discovered contributions which early 18th century English Freemasons made to the development and spread of Newtonianism. In October 2007 he was invited by the Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge to give his paper titled “A Way Forward – Some Seminar Techniques.”

Trevor contributed papers on Freemasonry in the Enlightenment period to international conferences held at the Canonbury Masonic Research Centre in London, the University of Bordeaux, and the International Conference on the History of Freemasonry in Edinburgh in both 2007 and 2009. He has published several other papers in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, the annual book of transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076; for Leicester Lodge of Research; for Hibiscus Masonic Review; and The Ashlar, the leading Masonic quarterly in Scotland. He edited the 2005 and 2006 editions of The Canonbury Papers for the Canonbury Masonic Research Centre in London. He also has edited From Across the Water, an anthology of eight past papers from AQC on North American Freemasonry in the colonial era.

In 2004, Trevor was appointed by the United Grand Lodge of England to be the Prestonian Lecturer, during which time his speaking tour brought him to the United States. He is a Past Master of three English lodges, including Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, and is currently Master of Lodge Sir Robert Moray No. 1641, a research lodge in Edinburgh. In December 2007 he was elected to Honorary Membership in both Alpha Lodge No. 116 in East Orange, and St. John’s Lodge No. 1 in New York City. He recently was elected to Honorary Membership in Cincinnati Lodge No. 3 in Morristown, and Atlas-Pythagoras Lodge No. 10 in Westfield, and he is particularly delighted to be associated so strongly with New Jersey Freemasonry. He was created a IX° (Magus) by the Masonic Rosicrucians in Washington in 2007.

Trevor has held office in all of the Orders which grace the English Masonic landscape; is a Life Member of various Scottish Orders, including the Grand Lodge of the Royal Order of Scotland; has been honored with Grand Rank in the Rectified Scottish Rite in Belgium; and has achieved the 30° in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in Germany. In the SRIA, the earliest modern Rosicrucian society, he was a member of its High Council, a Chief Adept of a Province, Director-General of Studies, and an active member of its Executive Committee. He edited the SRIA Transactions of 2005.

The Players is a private club founded in 1888 by Edwin Booth, Mark Twain, William T. Sherman, and a dozen others for the “promotion of social intercourse between members of the dramatic profession and the kindred professions of literature, painting, architecture, sculpture and music, law and medicine, and the patrons of the arts.”

The Wendell K. Walker Lecture is an annual event in memory of Bro. Walker, a beloved leader in the field of Masonic education.

Independent Royal Arch Lodge No. 2 is one of the oldest fraternal and social institutions in continuous existence in the City of New York. Chartered 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.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

‘Masonic Week 2011: Knight Masons’

I thought I’d be done with posting reports of Masonic Week by now, but you get what you pay for. Once again, sorry for the bad photographs, etc., etc.

The Grand Council of the Order of Knight Masons met for its annual meeting last Friday morning, as did Great Chiefs Council 0.

My notes from this meeting are even worse than my other notes. I must have used my notepad as a coaster at some point, as there is a perfect circle, in Guinness residue, that has soaked through the first several pages of the book. But the highpoints of this meeting are still in my memory.

Our new Great Chief is M.E. Kevin B. Sample.

The Grand Staff of the Grand Council of Knight Masons of the USA
gather for their swearing-in.

M.E. Kevin B. Sample, left, is congratulated by his predecessor,
M.E. Edward Fagan. Note the signet of office on Kevin's gloved finger.

No warrants for new Councils were issued, but Grand Council is eyeing two possibilities that I suppose may be acted on this year. The rare title of Honorary Past Grand Senior Knight was bestowed on Dan Pushee and Buddy Wagner. Grand Scribe Doug Jordan, during his travels, was honored by the Grand Council in Ireland. Doug also announced he is stepping aside as Grand Scribe, and that Peter C. Cook will be taking over. The dormant position of Grand Superintendent is being reinstituted, to assist Councils with ritual work and maybe to help create more Councils. Several were appointed then: George Haynes will serve for Pennsylvania, and another Cousin was named for New York – nice small jurisdictions! – but I failed to catch his name. Total membership in the United States at the end of 2010: 7,950. (Please apprise me of any errors or omissions in the comments section below.)

In other news, Knight Masonry has caught on in England, which surprised me because I would have guessed it existed there already. A recent ceremony at Mark Masons Hall saw the constitution of new Councils there, thus Great Chiefs 0 may no longer initiate English Masons. (The purpose of Great Chiefs Council is “chiefly” to initiate Masons who reside in areas where no Councils exist.)

The next annual meeting will take place Friday, February 10. See you there.

Graphic courtesy of Bro. Jeff at Lodgical.

Friday, February 18, 2011

‘To know the unknowable’

“Aloha is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation. Aloha means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return. Aloha is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence. Aloha means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.”

Hawai`i Revised Statutes Section 7.5

Yes, that is public law in the State of Hawaii. It also says:

In exercising their power on behalf of the people and in fulfillment of their responsibilities, obligations and service to the people, the legislature, governor, lieutenant governor, executive officers of each department, the chief justice, associate justices, and judges of the appellate, circuit, and district courts may contemplate and reside with the life force and give consideration to the “Aloha Spirit.” [L 1986, c 202, §1]

What I would give to see the criminals who govern New Jersey live up to that standard.

But I digress. Just announced:

On Monday, April 4, Nutley Lodge No. 25 will host a highly distinguished Mason, who will present “Freemasonry and the Spirit of Aloha.”

This Brother is a Pennsylvania Past Master. He is a lifelong student of the martial, meditative and metaphysical arts having received the title of Kahu from Kahu Lanakila K. Brandt on the Big Island of Hawai`i along with permission to teach the ancient Hawai`ian metaphysical tradition known as po`ohuna. He is also a lineage disciple in the Chinese/Hawai`ian martial arts style of Grand Master Daniel K. Pai and the founder of Dragon Moon Martial Arts Association in Bristol, Pennsylvania. He is a member of four Blue Lodges, including Honolulu Lodge, and a member of numerous appendant Masonic bodies. An attorney at law by profession, he enjoys the history, teachings, tradition, and universal brotherhood found in the ancient and gentle Craft of Freemasonry.

Nutley Lodge No. 25 is located at 175 Chestnut St. in Nutley. The meeting (Master Masons only) will open at 7:30.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

‘Masonic Week 2011: Blue Friars’

The annual meeting of the Consistory of the Blue Friars was the occasion of the welcoming of its 100th member: Alton Roundtree, a Past Master of Redemption Lodge No. 24 and the inaugural Master of David A. McWillliams, Sr., Research and Education Lodge, both under the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia. You more than likely have heard of this brother, as his fame extends far beyond our nation’s capital and across the jurisdictions of Freemasonry. I’ll stand corrected, but I would say he is most celebrated for co-authoring, with Paul Bessel, Out of the Shadows: The Emergence of Prince Hall Freemasonry in America in 2008.

Bro. Alton G. Roundtree,
Blue Friar No. 100
I wonder if there is a single facet of Masonic history that can be told accurately and in a linear narrative, free of byzantine confusions, detours, and expectations of willing suspensions of disbelief, but I doubt that exists. The complicated story of Prince Hall Freemasonry is no exception, which explains the heft of the book Roundtree and Bessel produced. His Blue Friars paper last Friday is titled “The Two Conventions that Changed Freemasonry,” and it recounts the dizzying story of the 19th century rivalry between different Prince Hall grand lodges, vying for establishment, recognition and, naturally, members. Conventions held in 1847 and 1878, and larger-than-life characters like Thornton A. Jackson, figure hugely in the creation of modern day Prince Hall Freemasonry.

I don’t want to give away too much because you should read Out of the Shadows and because this paper will be published, possibly in Heredom.

Grand Abbott S. Brent Morris closed the meeting on a humorous note when, in thanking Roundtree for his presentation, he said “I am shocked – shocked – to find out there were feuds in Prince Hall Masonry, because in our Freemasonry....”

The Society of Blue Friars is a fraternity of Masons who are published authors. Both Morris and Roundtree are Founding Fellows of The Masonic Society.

Monday, February 14, 2011

‘Masonic Week 2011: Nine Muses’

There now are more than 400 councils of Allied Masonic Degrees in the United States, and they all are special, but there is one in particular that is constitutionally capped at nine members, all of whom are elected for life, and “who have made outstanding contributions to the field of Masonic Literature Research,” according to said constitution. It is called Council of Nine Muses No. 13, and it also meets only once annually, at Masonic Week during AMD’s various events.

Prior to the installation of officers, the exiting Master delivers a lecture, and this year it was M.V. David Hargett’s turn. I believe he said the title of his paper is “Faith, Hope, and Love.” Of course that trio of virtues is known well to Freemasons, especially to those of us with a Rose Croix background.

It’s funny, but attending weddings over the years, I have noticed how common it is for there to be readings of St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians for its discourse on love. I think it funny because it is clear St. Paul is not writing of romantic or marital love that would fit the occasion of a wedding; his subject actually is a form of charity, but he also makes it understood it isn’t the-giving-of-alms kind of charity, but rather the spiritual gift of brotherly love form of charity (from the Latin caritas) necessary to community life. And that is where Bro. Hargett was going as well on Saturday morning, despite the approach of Valentine’s Day.

“I am grateful for a fraternity that allows me to embrace all mankind,” he said. “All nations in a brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God.... Freemasonry is a sacred thing because we can see the religious faiths of all men, and use our own faith to bring us closer to God and to one another for the noble and glorious purpose of making brotherhood a reality....

“When a man knows how to pray, how to love, and how to hope, he’ll know Freemasonry.”

He said a lot more, but I believe that is the gist of his prepared remarks. I have no idea if he chose this message for that day for any particular reason, but it meant an awful lot to me. Furthermore, his soft-spoken delivery made this lecture sound like the most important thing said all weekend. Maybe it was.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

‘Masonic Week 2011: Grand College of Rites’

(Many of the photos I shot at Masonic Week are blurry or otherwise unusable. Wanting to travel light, I brought my Panasonic Lumix – a perfectly serviceable camera – instead of the Nikon, which was a mistake for this kind of interior photography. Lesson learned. Won’t happen again.)

It was love at first sight, when I happened upon the Grand College of Rites while surfing the web for odd Rose Croix rituals one day about nine years ago. It seemed to me to be the perfect Masonic fraternity: one overall purpose expressed in one quality publication introduced at its one meeting per year. And I have looked forward to, and have enjoyed those single meetings yearly, and always look forward to Collectanea, the book produced by Arturo de Hoyos and the GCR’s Publications Committee.

The College hosted its 80th Annual Convocation Saturday morning in Alexandria, Virginia during Masonic Week, for the changing of the guard, the unveiling of the new Collectanea, and other necessary business, etc.

M.I. Franklin Boner invests our new
Grand Chancellor, M.I. Martin Starr,
with the jewel of office.
Our new Grand Chancellor is M.I. Martin P. Starr of Chicago, taking over for M.I. Franklin Boner. Among the necrology for the year is the loss of the Grand Seneschal, R.I. Sid Dorris of Tennessee, who passed away last fall. Taking his place in the officer line is R.I. Jeffrey N. Nelson of North Dakota, who is now Grand Mareschal (Grand Marshal).

And [drum roll please] our new Grand Seneschal is [fanfare please] R.I. Aaron Shoemaker of Missouri!

Aaron could not be with us this year, and yet he was with us because his labors for the College are vital.

In other headlines, three Fellows of the College were tapped to receive the Knight Grand Cross: Matthew Gibbon and Scott Schlappi, who staff the registration desk outside the meeting, and M.I. Starr, upon his installation as Grand Chancellor.

The College now has 1,222 members (excluding new members who just joined at the meeting).

Other notable deaths in the past year include two Past Grand Chancellors: William H. Thornley, Jr. (1998) and Frederick H. Lorenson (2003).

But about the new Collectanea: This, the 2010 publication, contains the Craft degrees of the Rite of Strict Observance, plus two high degree rituals from the 18th century. In introducing the text, Grand Archivist Art de Hoyos explained it is similar to that he’d published a few years ago in Heredom, but with some ambiguities and inaccuracies stemming from their translations corrected. Strict Observance, he added, was the rite promoted by Baron von Hund, and it is the ancestor of CBCS and the Swedish Rite. The two high degrees are translations of original French into German and into English here. They have Rosicrucian similarities, said de Hoyos, and these rituals were saved from confiscation by the Nazis during their destruction of Masonic lodges.

These Craft degrees are fascinating for their differences from the Anglo-American work we know so well. Unless I misunderstand, there is a break from Newtonian thought.

Said to the Apprentice:

“There is nothing here that does not present the opportunity for much contemplation. Apply yourself to it. To investigate mysteries is not forbidden to a noble student of wisdom. But do not err by placing too much confidence in your own opinions. The heart of man has its own hidden lacunae, and love of discovery makes one proud, and leads from one error to another. If you share your ideas with your Master, and lend yourself to his instruction, I do not doubt that when you become more familiar with our mysteries, which may still appear rather obscure to you now, you will praise three times that very day when you succeed in rejoicing in the Light.”

Said to the Fellow:

“You still find the doors to the innermost part closed. But I must not forget to mention the seven steps which you were so happy to climb today, and by which we actually brought you nearer to the entrance to the door of our sanctuary. They represent the seven principal virtues of a Freemason: obedience, silence, constancy, brotherly love, charity, courage, and resolution in death.

“These excellent qualities should not be lacking in any true Freemason; they are not mere adornments, but are rather essential parts of a good Brother. Obedience is the basis of all, and resolution in death is the last and most sublime test of our fidelity.

“Let everything, my Brother, that you have learned of our mysteries, be eternally locked away in your heart from all those who are outside. Submit to those who, as honest and true Brethren, offer you a helpful hand. Follow those whom we honor as the Superiors of our Lodges, and in the future they will open to you the inner sanctuary of our secret edifice, since you, my Brother, will explore the most profound sources of our mysteries, and will, as is much as is humanly possible, search and fathom them. If you discover something here and there that is obscure, then recall that the way to perfection is never free of all difficulties, and that wisdom often lays obstacles in the way, in order to keep lesser souls back, and to stimulate virtue.”

Said to the Master:

“You further beheld the body of a murdered victim, who was completely covered with blood. We have maintained this custom since time immemorial, as a sure sign that those who approach us are not condemned by their consciences for evil deeds, that they are pure and innocent, and that we can take them as true and faithful members into our bosom. What has been our reason for this I cannot yet reveal to you. Perhaps your own thoughts will lead you down the track of this mysterious custom....”

Past Grand Chancellor Franklin Boner, center, greets our two new recipients
of the Knight Grand Cross. Fellow Matthew Gibbon and Fellow Scott Schlappi
have been the brave guardians of the registration table for many years.

Friday, February 4, 2011

‘Thomas Smith Webb Chapter of Research’

You know about lodges of research, but what are not as common are chapters of research. Royal Arch chapters set to labor for the purpose of researching, accumulating, and presenting Royal Arch education for debate and discussion. Thomas Smith Webb Chapter of Research No. 1798, warranted by the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of the State of New York, will meet next month.

Thursday, March 3 at 4 p.m.
205 Wolf Rd.
Albany, New York

Topic: the founding of Cedars Chapter No. 335 in Beirut last year.

Business: election and installation of officers. R.E. Piers Vaughan to be High Priest.

Piers promises meetings in Manhattan and elsewhere about the state during his term.

Also, please know the chapter’s 2010 Book of Transactions has been published, and is now available. Members in good standing will receive it either at this meeting, or through the mail. Others may purchase it through our website.