Sunday, March 31, 2013

‘Wendell K. Walker Lecture 2013’

If it’s spring, it must be time for the annual Wendell K. Walker Lecture hosted by Independent Royal Arch Lodge No. 2 – “Old Number 2” – of the First Manhattan District. It’s this Thursday!

Courtesy Rome Sentinel
RW Bro. Bruce Renner will speak on “The Outermost Order: Freemasonry and the Western Esoteric Tradition.” Bro. Renner is a Past Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of New York, and is the president of the board of trustees of the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library. In the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Bro. Renner holds memberships in several Valleys in upstate New York; he holds the 33°, and he currently is working on a comprehensive history of the AASR in New York from the Union of 1867 to the present. In the York Rite, he is a Past Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of New York, and holds both the KYCH and the Order of the Purple Cross. (I have never heard of the latter.) His lecture Thursday night will define what is meant by “esoterica” in the Craft, and will explain various paths an esoterically inclined Mason might wish to pursue, acknowledging however that not all the brethren are so motivated.

Once again, the lecture and the dinner will take place in separate venues, and reservations are required. Leave me a note with your name and e-mail address (not for publication) in the Magpie comments section, and I’ll put you in touch with Bro. George, the Junior Warden of the lodge. The lecture will be hosted in the Empire Room on the twelfth floor of Masonic Hall (71 West 23rd Street in Manhattan) at 7:30 p.m. Afterward, the brethren will retire to dinner at Aleo, located at 7 West 20th Street. The fixed price menu, at $50 per person, includes wine and beer, and gratuity. A cocktail cash bar will be available.

See you there!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

‘Town Hall’

RW William J. Thomas
Come one, come all to the Town Hall... uh, meeting.

Brethren of the First, Fifth, Seventh, and part of the Ninth Manhattan Districts are welcome to attend a program hosted by RW Bill Thomas, Deputy Grand Master, and other grand staff on protocol and etiquette, to be followed by questions and answers.

Wednesday, April 10, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Masonic Hall, Jacobean Room on the eighth floor. Attire: suit and tie or grand staff uniform, but no regalia.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

‘Join the club’

Craft apron, probably European, I shot at the House
of the Temple a few years ago.

Bro. Bil Vassily of New York announces the formation last week of The Traditional Observance Club at Liverpool. Any Master Mason from a lodge under the Grand Lodge of New York or from a lodge within a grand jurisdiction in amity with GLNY is eligible to apply for membership. Just contact Bil at bilgeo(at)

For more information on the Traditional Observance movement in Freemasonry in the United States, visit the Masonic Restoration Foundation here, and don’t forget about the MRF’s annual symposium in August.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

‘Spring 2013 Truman Lecture’

This just in from Bro. Aaron: The Spring 2013 Truman Lecture, hosted by Missouri Lodge of Research, will take place Saturday, May 4 at noon at the Grand Lodge of Missouri headquarters in Columbia. Bro. Alton Roundtree will speak on the history and development of Prince Hall Freemasonry, followed by a question-and-answer session.

Brethren, their ladies, and guests are welcome.

Tickets, at $20 each for lunch and the lecture, are available here. This is far outside the Magpie Mason’s regular orbit, so unfortunately I won’t see you there, but having heard Bro. Alton speak on this subject before, I promise it is worth your time. The history of Prince Hall Masonry can be vexing, so it is best to have a guide like Bro. Roundtree.

‘2013 College of Freemasonry’

The flier below speaks for itself. This part of New York is too far north for this Magpie, but if you are in the area, you would do well to attend this event. To have all of these speakers together for a single day very well may be too much, but it is a good kind of too much.

Click to enlarge.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

‘Bro. Lyn Beyer: Friar of the Briar’

While the Craftsmen’s Calumet Club, by far the pre-eminent society for pipe smoking Freemasons in New Jersey, is off to a start, with three gatherings held since January 22, we’re always on the lookout for persons, places, or things that connect the Craft to the art of setting gentle flame to fragrant leaf. That is where the Spring 2013 issue of Pipes and Tobaccos magazine comes in, with its illustrated four-page feature article on Bro. Lyn Beyer, Grand Senior Deacon of the Grand Lodge of Kansas. (The grand lodge is only days away from its annual communication, and I do not know whether Beyer will remain/advance in the line.)

Courtesy Pipes and Tobaccos magazine.
In the cozy (read: shrinking under pressure) culture of tobacco enjoyment, Bro. Beyer is a giant in his home state. Writer H. Lee Murphy provides a biographical sketch of his subject, chronicling Beyer’s professional and personal love of pipes and tobaccos. Beyer (pronounced Buy-er) is proprietor of Cigar & Tabac, Ltd., “one of the heartland’s best retail shops,” located in Overland Park, Kansas. Beyer also is a co-founder and (naturally) sponsor of “one of the best clubs anywhere,” the Greater Kansas City Pipe Club, with about 50 members gathering in the store to greet guest speakers and enjoy tobacco samplings. (The store’s smoking lounge seats more than two dozen.)

The Grand Senior Deacon also is a craftsman; he carves briar pipes, makes repairs for his customers, and devises his own blends of tobaccos “with assistance from McClelland Tobacco Co., which is headquartered a short drive away.”

It’s enough to make me want to leave the New York City area to settle in Manhattan, Kansas.

Courtesy Pipes and Tobaccos magazine.

And there is a second shop, Town & Country Tobacco, located in Town and Country, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.

Amid all the words devoted to Bro. Beyer’s personal and professional histories, there is a quick and unexpected mention of our Craft. “Lyn now spends more time with one of his abiding passions, the Masonic Lodge. He’s a 32nd Degree Mason, is in the grand lodge line in Kansas, and is devoted to various fundraising projects…” These two sentences’ appearance pose a non-sequitur, so I gather their inclusion by the writer is to make the point of showing Freemasonry’s importance to his subject.

Read an excerpt of the article here.

I recommend subscribing to Pipes and Tobaccos to all pipe smokers. It is a quality publication on heavy, glossy paper with content devoted to its eponymous subjects that often is contextualized to reveal a bit more about the pipe world than one might expect, as is the case with this feature on Lyn Beyer. Reading this magazine is an excellent way to learn about the people who manufacture our pipes, blend our tobaccos, and bring them to market; and there are informed reviews of tobaccos, and lots more useful information written in engaging and thoughtful style. (The tobacco review feature is titled “Trial by Fire,” which might bring to mind a certain ritual element of esoteric initiation.) Regrettable is the reduced pipe events listings, which I suppose indicates a decline in the number of pipe clubs and their happenings and the preference for on-line advertising by many of the clubs still extant, but that is a sign of the times. Because practically every aspect of pipe commerce concerns small businesses, even the advertisements in the magazine can be counted on for helpful information and direction. Subscribe here.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

‘Kent Henderson on tour’

Before there was Laudable Pursuit; before the Knights of the North; before Vitruvian; before there was a Traditional Observance lodge in the United States; before there was a Masonic Restoration Foundation; before this whole modern movement to introduce Freemasonry to Masonic lodges in the United States – okay, maybe not before St. Alban’s in Texas and John Mauk Hilliard’s seven rules – there was Kent Henderson and Lodge Epicurean 906 in Victoria, Australia. And this spring, Henderson will be here in the Northeast on a speaking tour, with stops in New Hampshire, Boston, and we’re working on New Jersey.

His treatise titled Back to the Future was practically a VSL to those of us in the early years of the previous decade who knew there had to be more to Freemasonry than the tedium and mendacity provided by the service club lodges that overwhelmingly dominate the Order here in America. Here is Guideline No. 1 in Back to the Future: “The aim of the lodge in all its endeavours will be quality, in ceremonial, in workings, and in after proceedings. We believe quality must be paid for.” So you see the self-evident culture shock.

Go hear Kent Henderson speak. Ask him about Epicurean, its ethos, conception, founding, obstacles, success, and current state.

More on the potential New Jersey date as soon as I firm up some details.

MAGPIE EDIT: Bro. Kent’s visit to the United States has been canceled. Another time, perhaps.

Click the images to enlarge.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Bro. Chris Hodapp, author, raconteur, heart of The Masonic Society, Blue Friar, The Most Interesting Man in Indiana Freemasonry, &c., &c., has several speaking engagements here in New Jersey next week.

New York also.

Visit the Dummies blog to see the particulars.