Friday, November 28, 2014

‘An honest man is always in trouble’

The Death of Socrates by Jacques Louis David, oil on canvas, 1787.
On exhibit at the Met, located only three blocks from our meeting.

“When I leave this court I shall go away condemned by you to death, but [my accusers] will go away convicted by Truth herself of depravity and wickedness. And they accept their sentence even as I accept mine.”

It is not intentional, but I really have been remiss in updating The Magpie with news of recent events—Masonic, Rosicrucian, and other experiences of recent months. This one took place at the School of Practical Philosophy on East 79th Street the Sunday before last. “The Trial of Socrates” was the day-long program, involving readings from Plato’s Apology, lots of group discussion, and watching a brief couple of scenes of a relevant film. Plus a surprisingly great Greek vegetarian lunch midway, and a wine reception afterward. The best Sunday I’ve had in some time.

So what is Plato’s Apology? First, an understanding of the word. Here it does not signify any expression of remorse. “Apology” derives from the ancient Greek word “apologia,” meaning a formal rebuttal tendered by a defendant in court.

My own copy of the text comes from one of those Walter J. Black Classics Club books from 1941. (I haunt used book sales in the hope of assembling a complete 44-volume set.) Apology actually is a chapter in the book Five Great Dialogues by Plato, as translated by Professor Benjamin Jowett, a luminary at Oxford University in the nineteenth century. Here is the Introduction, penned by Professor Louise Ropes Loomis:

It is the year 399 B.C. Four years ago Athens drove out the bloody terror of the Thirty, which the Spartans had set up to govern her after their victory in the Peloponnesian War. She has restored her democratic constitution, but hardly yet begun to recover from the shock of her terrible defeat and humiliation. Her citizens are embittered, suspicious, eager to blame anyone and everyone for the mistakes and failures of the past. In this year Socrates, now seventy years of age, is accused by three men, Meletus, Anytus, and Lycon, of the formidable crimes of corrupting the youth of the city and professing to disbelieve in the ancestral gods. Of the accusers themselves we know almost nothing. Meletus and Lycon, we hear, resent especially Socrates’ attitude toward the current fashions in poetry and other literature. Anytus is angered by Socrates’ outspoken criticism of the narrow commercial training he is giving his only son. But the charge they bring is such as to stir up superstitious fears of sacrilege and moral uneasiness in the popular mind. Several of Socrates’ old pupils have indeed been involved in the disgraceful events of recent years. His case comes before a citizen court of five hundred and one jurors, a majority vote being sufficient to convict.

The Apology is Plato’s version of his master’s speech in his own defense, written down possibly within two or three years after its delivery. That Plato was present and heard it we know from Socrates; allusions to him [are within the text]. How nearly he has reproduced Socrates’ very words we cannot, of course, judge. As it comes to us, the Apology is actually three speeches. In the first, Socrates, fearlessly and with much play of ironical humor, refutes not only the formal charges contained in the plaintiffs’ immediate indictment, but also the slanderous stories circulated about him by his enemies in years past. He explains and justifies his way of life and religious beliefs, and in a sharp bit of cross-examination exposes the insincerity of the quickly befuddled Meletus. At the close, the court votes him guilty by the comparatively small majority of sixty. The penalty for his offense has next to be determined, since it comes under no existing law. The accusers demand a verdict of death. By rule of court, however, the culprit may propose a counter penalty, the jurors then to choose between the two. In a short second speech, Socrates, less conciliatory and more hotly defiant than before, proposes that instead of punishment he receive the reward of a distinguished citizen, honorable maintenance at the public expense. If he must pay something, he may with his friends help scrape together enough for a moderate fine. The court, annoyed, we may suppose, by what seems his obstinate frivolity, votes to approve the death sentence. In his final words, Socrates, now calm again, accepts the decision and bids his judges and fellow-citizens farewell.

I cannot reproduce here the entire text, which runs about twenty-seven pages in the book, but I’ll share some of the passages that got our attention during the group discussions. If you ever have caught hell for telling the truth—I mean really paid a price—then this is a must read, but everyone should be familiar with this Socratic Dialogue. We didn’t begin at the beginning, but we did start early on. Here Socrates explains to the court how he came to be renowned as the wisest of men:

And here, O men of Athens, I must beg you not to interrupt me, even if I seem to say something extravagant. For the word which I will speak is not mine. I will refer you to a witness who is worthy of credit, and will tell you about my wisdom—whether I have any, and of what sort—and that witness shall be the god of Delphi. You must have known Chaerephon; he was early a friend of mine, and also a friend of yours, for he shared in the exile of the people, and returned with you. Well, Chaerephon, as you know, was very impetuous in all his doings, and he went to Delphi and boldly asked the oracle to tell him whether—as I was saying, I must beg you not to interrupt—he asked the oracle to tell him whether there was anyone wiser than I was, and the Pythian prophetess answered that there was no man wiser. Chaerephon is dead himself, but his brother, who is in court, will confirm the truth of this story.

Why do I mention this? Because I am going to explain to you why I have such an evil name. When I heard the answer, I said to myself, What can the god mean? And what is the interpretation of this riddle? For I know that I have no wisdom, small or great. What can he mean when he says that I am the wisest of men? And yet he is a god and cannot lie; that would be against his nature. After a long consideration, I at last thought of a method of trying the question. I reflected that if I could only find a man wiser than myself, then I might go to the god with a refutation in my hand. I should say to him, “Here is a man who is wiser than I am; but you said that I was the wisest.” Accordingly I went to one who had the reputation of wisdom, and observed to him—his name I need not mention; he was a politician whom I selected for examination—and the result was as follows: When I began to talk with him, I could not help thinking that he was not really wise, although he was thought wise by many, and wiser still by himself; and I went and tried to explain to him that he thought himself wise, but was not really wise; and the consequence was that he hated me, and his enmity was shared by several who were present and heard me. So I left him, saying to myself, as I went away: Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is—for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, then, I seem to have slightly the advantage of him. Then I went to another, who had still higher philosophical pretensions, and my conclusion was exactly the same. I made another enemy of him, and of many others besides him.

After this I went to one man after another, being not unconscious of the enmity which I provoked, and I lamented and feared this: but necessity was laid upon me—the word of God, I thought, ought to be considered first. And I said to myself, Go I must to all who appear to know, and find out the meaning of the oracle. And I swear to you, Athenians, by the dog I swear!—for I must tell you the truth—the result of my mission was just this: I found that the men most in repute were all but the most foolish; and that some inferior men were really wiser and better.

So, it’s a good way to make enemies. Assess the big shots you see in life, and usually see them rightly as empty suits. After spending some time conferring with politicians, poets, and artisans to gauge their knowledge, assuming each to be far more knowing than himself, he found them to be lacking in “high matters.”

This investigation has led to my having many enemies of the worst and most dangerous kind, and has given occasion also to many calumnies, and I am called wise, for my hearers always imagine that I myself possess the wisdom which I find wanting in others: but the truth is, O men of Athens, that God only is wise; and in this oracle he means to say that the wisdom of men is little or nothing; he is not speaking of Socrates, he is only using my name as an illustration, as if he said, He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing. And so I go my way, obedient to the god, and make inquisition into the wisdom of anyone, whether citizen or stranger, who appears to be wise; and if he is not wise, then in vindication of the oracle I show him that he is not wise; and this occupation quite absorbs me, and I have no time to give either to any public matter of interest or to any concern of my own, but I am in utter poverty by reason of my devotion to the god.

Addressing the nature of the punishment that awaits him, Socrates invokes a stoicism that would be familiar to Master Masons:

Someone will say: And are you not ashamed, Socrates, of a course of life which is likely to bring you to an untimely end? To him I may fairly answer: There you are mistaken: a man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong—acting the part of a good man or of a bad. Whereas, according to your view, the heroes who fell at Troy were not good for much, and the son of Thetis above all, who altogether despised danger in comparison with disgrace; and when his goddess mother said to him, in his eagerness to slay Hector, that if he avenged his companion Patroclus, and slew Hector, he would die himself—“Fate,” as she said, “waits upon you next after Hector.” He, hearing this, utterly despised danger and death, and instead of fearing them, feared rather to live in dishonor, and not to avenge his friend. “Let me die next,” he replies, “and be avenged of my enemy, rather than abide here by the beaked ships, a scorn and a burden of the earth.” Had Achilles any thought of death and danger? For wherever a man’s place is, whether the place which he has chosen or that in which he has been placed by a commander, there he ought to remain in the hour of danger; he should not think of death or of anything, but of disgrace. And this, O men of Athens, is a true saying.

In the end, Socrates is left to face his death sentence, and to ponder the nature of the afterlife. Twenty-four centuries after, we still study Socrates, but his persecutors are unknown, long forgotten, except as their names appear in this ancient literature.

Let us reflect in another way, and we shall see that there is great reason to hope that death is a good, for one of two things: Either death is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness, or, as men say, there is a change and migration of the soul from this world to another. Now if you suppose that there is no consciousness, but a sleep like the sleep of him who is undisturbed even by the sight of dreams, death will be an unspeakable gain. For if a person were to select the night in which his sleep was undisturbed even by dreams, and were to compare with this the other days and nights of his life, and then were to tell us how many days and nights he had passed in the course of his life better and more pleasantly than this one, I think that any man, I will not say a private man, but even the great king, will not find many such days or nights, when compared with the others. Now if death is like this, I say that to die is gain; for eternity is then only a single night. But if death is the journey to another place, and there, as men say, all the dead are, what good, O my friends and judges, can be greater than this? If indeed when the pilgrim arrives in the world below, he is delivered from the professors of justice in this world, and finds the true judges who are said to give judgment there, Minos and Rhadamanthus and Aeacus and Triptolemus, and other sons of God who were righteous in their own life, that pilgrimage will be worth making. What would not a man give if he might converse with Orpheus and Musaeus and Hesiod and Homer? Nay, if this be true, let me die again and again. I, too, shall have a wonderful interest in a place where I can converse with Palamedes, and Ajax the son of Telamon, and other heroes of old, who have suffered death through an unjust judgment; and there will be no small pleasure, as I think, in comparing my own sufferings with theirs. Above all, I shall be able to continue my search into true and false knowledge; as in this world, so also in that; I shall find out who is wise, and who pretends to be wise, and is not. What would not a man give, O judges, to be able to examine the leader of the great Trojan expedition; or Odysseus or Sisyphus, or numberless others, men and women too! What infinite delight would there be in conversing with them and asking them questions! For in that world they do not put a man to death for this; certainly not. For besides being happier in that world than in this, they will be immortal, if what is said is true.

Wherefore, O judges, be of good cheer about death, and know this of a truth: that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death. He and his are not neglected by the gods; nor has my own approaching end happened by mere chance. But I see clearly that to die and be released was better for me; and therefore the oracle gave no sign. For which reason also, I am not angry with my accusers, or my condemners; they have done me no harm, although neither of them meant to do me any good; and for this I may gently blame them.

Still I have a favor to ask of them. When my sons are grown up, I would ask you, O my friends, to punish them; and I would have you trouble them, as I have troubled you, if they seem to care about riches, or anything, more than about virtue; or if they pretend to be something when they are really nothing, then reprove them, as I have reproved you, for not caring about that for which they ought to care, and thinking that they are something when they are really nothing. And if you do this, I and my sons will have received justice at your hands.

The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways—I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows.

The title of this edition of The Magpie Mind comes not from Plato or Socrates, but from Henry Fool. Google it, and go to your favorite source of movie downloads.

Monday, November 24, 2014

‘Have a Quattro Coronati cigar’


I take my tobacco seriously. To quote Winston Churchill, “My tastes are simple. I am easily satisfied with the very best.” In addition to smoking cigars and pipes for just about three decades, I worked part-time for a number of years in Lew Rothman’s flagship store, learning everything I could about quality tobacco, from the agriculture to the last ash. So, I am happy to have found out this morning of the release over the weekend of Quattro Coronati cigars. “Ultra premium Dominican handmade cigars by brethren for brethren.” That’s brother Freemasons by the way.

The Feast Day of the Four Crowned Martyrs passed this month, so the timing of this launch is right. The Freemasons behind this endeavor are Eduardo R. Adam, Oliver M.S. Guillet, and Timothy W. Hogan. You’ve probably heard of Hogan, the author and traveling lecturer.

  • The Agape is a robusto shape. Ten to a box that retails for $144.
  • The Sanctum is a figurado measuring 5 7/8 x 56. Also 10 to a box that retails for $144.
  • The Magus is a double corona at 7 x 50. Ditto 10 to a box that retails for $144.
  • The Gran Solomon is a monster of 7.8 inches with a 63 ring. Five cigars, each in a coffin, per box at $165.
  • The Ruffians, a toro shape, also sells for $144 for a box of 10.
  • The Anthology is a sampler containing two sticks of each shape. Also 10 to a box for $144.

Sales are mail order only. So far, at least.

I look forward to trying these smokes, and I wish the brethren all the best!

‘Mark Tabbert on George Washington, Freemason’

(Another cross-post with American Creation.)

Mark A. Tabbert
This is premature—the ink on the contract may not be dry yet—but also scratches an old itch. I want to report the inevitability of a serious biography-history on the subject of George Washington the Freemason by Masonic scholar Mark A. Tabbert. The author figures the book will be published in about three years, a deadline I assume might be intended to coincide with the tercentenary celebration of Freemasonrys emergence into the public, which occurred in London in 1717.

It is a necessary book. Practically all existing literature on the subject of Washington the Mason was published in adoration of both the man and the fraternity. Much of that offers a childlike mythologizing (think Grant Wood’s spoof of Washington the youth, with a 60-year-old face, taking the rap for felling the cherry tree) of the subject, and none of the material is recent enough to have profited from modern research abilities and standards. I wouldn’t say Tabbert aims to eviscerate anyone, but there is a need to cut to the truth. Too many within and without the fraternity think Washington lived and breathed Freemasonry. Too many believe the man had almost nothing to do with Masonry. The truth, I imagine, is somewhere between, and encompasses information that will birth a new understanding of American Freemasonry’s most famous brother.

A cropped image of Parson Weems' Fable by Grant Wood.
Oil on canvas, 1939.

For the past nine of his twenty years of museum experience, Tabbert has served as Director of Collections of the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia. Prior to that, he devoted almost seven years a Curator of Masonic and Fraternal Collections at the National Heritage Museum (now the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library) in Lexington, Massachusetts. He also is a leader in the fraternity itself, having served as President of the Masonic Library and Museum Association, as Treasurer (previously Secretary) of the Masonic Restoration Foundation, as Trustee and Founding Fellow of The Masonic Society, as a published scholar in the most prestigious research lodges and research societies in Freemasonry in the United States and England, and in numerous other capacities in the fraternity that share responsible scholarship. Among his books are American Freemasons: Three Centuries of Building Communities.

My point: He knows his business, and he is capable of rendering an honest portrait of Freemason George Washington based on what one of my former teachers at university calls “the best obtainable version of the truth.”

Tabbert’s book will be published by an academic press. The most credible books attempting to define this subject were published under Masonic auspices, the most recent dates to 1952, to commemorate the bicentenary of Washington’s initiation into Freemasonry.

For fun (my word, not his) Tabbert maintains a blog where interested readers can follow his research. American Creation readers who want the truth about Freemason George Washington and related subjects should check it out, as the most recent post addresses Masonic membership among the Founding Fathers.

Disclaimer: Mark Tabbert not only is my brother Mason, but also is a friend.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

‘The Anthroposophist Alka-Seltzer ad man’

Courtesy Adweek
One finds the strangest facts in the oddest places. It is unsurprising that Adweek would publish actress Julianna Margulies’ obituary of her father, advertising legend Paul Margulies, but she explains how Anthroposophy was central to his life.

The following is copyrighted ©Adweek magazine.

My father always thought it was ironic that people swooned when they found out that he was the genius behind the famous ad campaign for Alka-Seltzer.

I grew up not really understanding his fame in the advertising world because he never allowed us to watch television. I knew he had a big job, a job that took us to different countries. Ad agencies hired him as their creative director and boasted to have him as their leader. He was the man, after all, who had come up with “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!”

I remember on a happy occasion one summer, my father taking my two older sisters and me to Beverly Hills, California. We stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel! It was so exciting. He had to shoot the commercial in California, and we got to watch them film it. I must have been about seven years old. I remember thinking he was so cool, in his fedora straw hat, his silk cravat, denim shirt and khaki safari jacket.

He was, tall, dark and handsome, and women were constantly blushing around him. I understood how dashing he was at a very young age. We were living in Paris, I was three years old, and we walked into a shop, and I thought the shop lady was pretty. Worried about his well-being, not having a wife, I said, “Mon papa est tres jolie, n’est-ce pas?”

My father always regaled that story, with his sweet chuckle, to anyone who would listen. And everyone always seemed to listen to my father. He was unique to this world, not because of his success in advertising, although some may argue that, but because he was a gentle soul who found himself, at a very young age, searching for the meaning of man.

He had been a philosophy major at Dartmouth College, and then, feeling the pressure from his parents (his mother was one of the first women lawyers to practice in New York state), he found himself at Columbia Law. He told me he dropped out after one year because he always found his way to the philosophy library. Law studies just didn't hold his interest.

What did hold his interest was the question of Being, Self, Soul. Why are we here? What is our journey? How can we make this world better? How can we advance ourselves to a life of truth and goodness and love? It was deep stuff.

In his quest, he went to a farm in Pennsylvania and studied biodynamic farming. It was there that he decided to stop eating meat. It was 1959 and still a time when people thought if you didn’t eat meat, you would get sick and eventually die. My poor grandmother would send him steaks and leave them at his door on Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village, begging him to stop the nonsense. But he never did. He always understood other people’s concerns, never pushed vegetarianism on anyone, but kept quietly to his regimen.

My father was drawn to a philosophy called Anthroposophy, founded by Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher. He began to read Steiner’s books and study his lectures. It was in Anthroposophy that my father found his calling.

He bumped into advertising at around the same time, and having three little girls and two ex-wives, he saw a way to make a living. But he had tremendous conflicts with the demands of the advertising industry. He was worried that his love for Anthroposophy, the way in which he was choosing to lead his inner life, would contradict his work life. He sought out Dr. Franz E. Winkler, the man who had originally introduced him to the works of Steiner, and expressed his concern. Dr. Winkler told him that as long as he was true to himself, it could never be a contradiction.

And so he embarked on a career as a copywriter with his ideals intact: He would never write for tobacco, alcohol or the meat industry, and he stuck to those principles for his entire career.

In his later years, my father wrote an essay that was published for the Anthroposophical Press: “A Comparison of Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl, and Knowledge of Higher Worlds, by Rudolf Steiner.” He had written many famous jingles, several children’s books and a wonderful screenplay about the boxer Daniel Mendoza, but it was in this essay that his most fulfilled work shone through. He delighted in the response to it, the depth of it. He was somehow able to explain the esoteric in simple English.

This is not to say that my father looked down on his life in advertising; he knew he had a talent for it, I would say a great talent, but I’m just a gloating daughter. But he constantly struggled to enrich his inner life while working in an industry that was only skin deep. At times that was frustrating for him; but at other times he really enjoyed it. However, it wasn’t who he was. It wasn’t where he wanted to be. He always told me his dream was to retire to the countryside somewhere in New England, just to be left alone with his books and his study groups. And he did just that at the young age of 50, and embarked fully on a lifelong dream.

As I became more prominent in my career as an actress and voiceover artist, I began to understand what an effect he had in the advertising world. People knew him, respected him, reacted to his name as though he were an iconic figure. He was known as The Man who created “Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz.” I got a kick out of showing up to my voiceover sessions and hearing the writers ask me if my father had approved the copy. When I landed the Chase Bank campaign, I told my dad and he brought out his portfolio that had his original ad from the ’70s: “The Chase is on!” He kept everything he had ever done, and he showed them to me with a gleam in his eye.

I know my father has helped many people find their inner peace. He was heralded as a great teacher, friend and leader in his community in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where he had retired. But I also know that without his ability to sell a product in 30 seconds and excel at it so beautifully, he wouldn’t have been able to reach all the curious minds that ask the question, “How can we live in truth, goodness and love?” As he often quoted from Socrates, one of his favorite philosophers: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

And that’s exactly how he lived his life.

Monday, November 17, 2014

‘Cultivating an Enlightened Mind’

New York Theosophical Society will host a national lecturer Sunday at its headquarters in Manhattan. From the publicity:

Cultivating an Enlightened Mind
Presented by Pablo Sender
Sunday, November 23 at 2 p.m.
New York Theosophical Society
240 East 53rd Street in Manhattan
(Enter through Quest Bookshop)

In some of her writings Mme. Blavatsky described a state of mind (manas) that is illumined by the spiritual wisdom (buddhi). She called this the radiant mind (manas taijasa). In this program we will explore the philosophical foundations of the subject as well as some practices geared towards stimulating the union of our mind and the principle of divine wisdom in us.

Pablo Sender, Ph.D., became a member of the Theosophical Society in his native Argentina in 1996. He has worked at the International Headquarters of the Society in India, and currently is a staff member at the National Center of the Theosophical Society in America, in Wheaton, Illinois. He has presented Theosophical lectures, workshops, and classes in India, several countries in Europe, and the Americas.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

‘Cincinnati’s Freemasons’

Congratulations to Bro. Donald Crews of Ohio on the publication a few weeks ago of his book Cincinnati’s Freemasons by Arcadia. From the publicity:

The first Masonic lodge in Cincinnati was chartered in 1791, less than three years after the town’s founding. Many prominent Cincinnatians have devoted their time, money, and effort to the fraternity. Many have also found knowledge, fulfillment, and camaraderie within the main and appendant bodies of the brotherhood. This book offers an introduction to the order’s members, buildings, and related organizations in southwest Ohio. The contributions of the Queen City’s share of the world’s oldest and largest fraternity are revealed through images from lodges and other bodies, buildings, individuals, and numerous other sources.

Donald I. Crews moved to Cincinnati as a sojourning Freemason 25 years ago and was immediately drawn to the city’s oldest lodge in part because of its long and fascinating history but also because of its home in the massive and amazing Cincinnati Masonic Temple. Images of America: Cincinnati’s Freemasons is an outgrowth of that interest, appreciation, and amazement at the variety of people, organizations, and buildings connected to the Cincinnati Masonic family.

Those of us who attended the Masonic Restoration Foundation’s Fifth Annual Symposium in Cincinnati in August met Bro. Crews, who presented, unsurprisingly, a history of Freemasonry in Cincinnati. He is a Member of The Masonic Society too.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

‘Symposium Sunday in San Francisco’

This just in: The Scottish Rite Valley of San Francisco will be the site of a symposium (free admission) on Sunday titled “Revisiting the California Gold Rush, Stories Untold: The Role of Freemasons, Women, African-Americans and Religion.” The Scottish Rite is located at 2850 19th Avenue.

I usually do not publicize events 3,000 miles away, but those of us who like to see academia study the role of Freemasonry in general history are obliged to support the endeavors however we can. From the publicity:

The Policy Studies Organization invites its partners and friends around the nation to join us for the 2014 Enriching History Colloquium. The event will be held in San Francisco, California and streamed in multiple cities around the country, courtesy of the American Public University System. Enriching History aims to be part of a new series enriching American Studies and social science teaching, to deepen interest in the American saga by showing new ways of looking at our past. The series’ mission is to influence the ways in which we learn and discuss the various experiences that have produced an ever evolving country. The program brings together a diverse group of individuals who believe in the wide dissemination of, and attention being paid to, scholarly works on important historical events and figures.

Organized in cooperation with the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of California, this year’s Enriching History conference looks to explore the California Gold Rush and the involvement and influence of different minority populations within the period. This year we explore the role of Masons, women, and Jewish forty-niners, as well as examining the culture that surrounded them. This annual seminar is for social science educators and all persons interested in aspects in the social history in America.

The presenters will include Ava F. Kahn on “Jewish Voices of the California Gold Rush: Transnational Traditions,” and historian Gary Kurutz, director of the Special Collections Branch of the California State Library, with a lecture “On the Extremity of Civilization: The Golden Words of the Argonauts.” And Carson City songster CW Bayer will play music from the Gold Rush-era.

Satellite viewing locations will be offered throughout California in Scottish Rite Centers. There will be time for questions submitted via e-mail from those joining us at the below venues. Please contact each center to find out details:

· Burlingame Masonic Center at 145 Park Road in Burlingame
· Fresno Scottish Rite Center at 1455 L Street in Fresno
· Long Beach Scottish Rite Center at 855 Elm Avenue in Long Beach
· Palm Springs Masonic Temple at 450 South Avenida Caballeros in Palm Springs
· Pasadena Scottish Rite Center at 150 N. Madison Avenue in Pasadena
· San Bernardino Scottish Rite at 4400 N. Varsity Avenue in San Bernardino
· San Diego Scottish Rite Center at 1895 Camino Del Rio South in San Diego
· San Jose Scottish Rite Temple at 2455 Masonic Drive in San Jose

Please note that refreshments and lunch will be provided, free of charge, thanks to our generous sponsors. However, we do ask that you register for seating and catering purposes. Click here for the schedule of events. We hope that you will be able to join us at this exciting and informative event!

Policy Studies Organization also is planning the World Conference on Fraternalism, Freemasonry, and History: Research in Ritual, Secrecy, and Civil Society for next May in Paris. Click here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

‘Mystic Tie in Maryland’

Maryland Masonic Research Society will meet for lunch at noon on Saturday, December 13, and Past President Joi Grieg will present “The Mystic Tie: Tying and Untying with Words.”

This will take place in the Roman Room of the Grand Lodge of Maryland, located at 304 International Circle in
 Cockeysville. Dining fee: only $15.

In addition, there will be the election and installation of officers for the ensuing year.

From the publicity:

Joi Grieg will present for discussion the topic of the Mystic Tie that connects Masons, and the language used across the fraternity to tie it together, or, in some cases, to distance. In the field of linguistics, this is called the language of inclusion and exclusion. Examples of the terms and the range of definitions used across the United States, some common and others almost contradictory, will be covered. It will include trends away from use of some of these words (such as “profane”), in the public sphere. There are choices that can be made by each of us as individuals, bound by obligations, rules, and Masonic entities, which can continue the status quo, or become more inclusive.

The Maryland Masonic Research Society was founded in 1979 with the mission and motto “Masonic Enlightenment through Research.” It is not a lodge, and is open to all who have an interest in Freemasonry. Lodges, libraries, and other organizations may become institutional members. MMRS meets at least four times a year at various locations throughout Maryland to hear and discuss research papers and presentations on philosophy, science, Masonic history, and other subjects of interest to members.

Please send your intent to mmrs1979(at) by December 7 if you plan to attend.

Monday, November 10, 2014

‘Introduction to Rosicrucianism’

Several programs that are worth your time are scheduled for this week and beyond at the Rosicrucian Cultural Center in New York City (2303 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.).

Tuesday, November 11 at 6:30
Introduction to the Rosicrucian Order

Who are the Rosicrucians and what do they do? Join Julie Scott, Grand Master of the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC, in this experiential introduction to Rosicrucian teachings and practices.

Wednesday, November 12 at 6:30
Rosicrucian Techniques for Radiant Health

In this experiential workshop, Grand Master Julie Scott introduces many Rosicrucian practices for Radiant Health on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. All are welcome!

Saturday, November 15, from 1 to 5 p.m.
Discuss Spiritual Laws with Dr. Lonnie Edwards

It is important for us as students of spirituality and mysticism to become aware and acquainted with the tremendous resources that are available to make our lives more harmonious.

Once we learn to tap these inner resources, living will be an invigorating affair, advancing and expanding the consciousness.

Through lectures, participation in meditation, and visualization exercises, we will be given the opportunity to experience the value of these principles in a group setting. Facilitating the discussions will be Dr. Lonnie Edwards, Vice President of the English Grand Lodge Board of Directors, and author of Spiritual Laws that Govern Humanity and the Universe.

Sunday, November 16 at 5:30
Spiritual Movie Night: What the Bleep Do We Know!?

Each Sunday, November through December (with the exception of December 21 when we will meet on Friday the 19th at 6:30), we will watch a film that dramatizes spiritual lessons, then discuss the film through the lens of Rosicrucianism. Our selection for this week is What the Bleep Do We Know!?


‘Tonight it’s AnthroPOEsophy’

It’s Edgar Allan Poe night at Anthroposophy NYC. From the publicity:

Literature Alive: Edgar Allan Poe
With Lenard Petit, Daniel Kelly & Ensemble
Monday, November 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Anthroposophy NYC
138 West 15th Street in Manhattan
$10 per person

Join us for a haunting evening of dramatic reading and musical interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Raven,” and “The Bells.” Lenard Petitfrom the Michael Chekhov Acting Studio, and award-winning composer Daniel Kelly’s inventive chamber ensemble pull at the fabric of Poe’s textured writing. Poe’s poems and stories of suspense and terror have their place in our collective cultural psyche. Come hear these stories anew, with Petit’s powerful performance accompanied by animated and uncanny music from Kelly, whose work Time Out New York calls “powerfully moving.”

Sunday, November 9, 2014

‘Remembering the cold cheap masonry’

I couldn’t let today’s silver anniversary of the tearing down of the Berlin Wall pass without comment. Something I had thought wouldn’t happen in my lifetime was made real as I watched in suspicious disbelief as it occurred on this date in 1989. An amazing turning point in human history that, amazingly, is nearly forgotten already in the United States.

The lessons for Freemasonry are stark. Speculative builders who work in virtue and morality, in brotherly love and truth, “create societies out of freedom,” as one Mason (a total stranger) I met before my initiation phrased it. (“A lodge cannot deprive a brother of his civil rights…” Constitution and Laws, 29-27, Grand Lodge of New Jersey, F&AM.) What was wrought in the “Democratic Republic of Germany” in 1961 was an immoral and hateful masonry: cheap concrete that surely would have crumbled by now, leaving only the rebar and rocks that went into the cement. When masons are free, they can build temples and churches of resources gifted by nature and handcrafted into masterpieces. When they are not, they’ll throw up slabs of shitty cement to imprison a city. Freemasons should never forget the symbolic working tools found on the flag of the DDR: The hammer of industry and the compass of science should serve to remind us all of the versatility of any tool. What matters is the hand that wields it, or as German filmmaker Fritz Lang put it in his Weimar era masterpiece Metropolis: “The mediator between the head and the hands must be the heart.”

My own mementos of the Berlin Wall acquired during a visit in 1990 include
several shards of the Wall and a few East German military and political medals.

‘Rosicrucian workshop at Nutley’

Julie Scott, Grand Master of the Rosicrucian Order’s English Grand Lodge for the Americas, will present a workshop Saturday, November 29 at the Order’s Pronaos in Nutley, New Jersey. From the publicity:

H. Spencer Lewis Pronaos
175 Chestnut Street in Nutley
Saturday, November 29
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
AMORC members only
Fee: $54—Click here

H. Spencer Lewis Pronaos, AMORC will be honored to have Grand Master Julie Scott present a workshop at our Pronaos quarters. The theme for the day will be “Expansion of Awareness.” You will be participating with her in an experience that will help you discover your eternal, infinite, inner Cosmic Consciousness that seeks to guide you on your life’s journey. Be sure to take advantage of this precious opportunity.

Doors open at 9:30
Council of Solace at 10
Workshop Part I at 10:30
Lunch at 12:30
Workshop Part II at 1:30
Convocation at 3:30
Social hour at 4:30

Saturday, November 1, 2014

‘Garibaldi Lodge at 150’


In the name of Freemasonry, Virtue, and Universal Benevolence, historic Garibaldi Lodge No. 542 was re-dedicated last night in celebration of its sesquicentennial year, as was done on its centenary and golden anniversaries—and no doubt will be done in 2064—too. By comparison, Italy, as a nation-state, is only 153 years old.

The first Italian-language lodge under the Grand Lodge of New York, Garibaldi would beget no fewer than nine daughter lodges over the years, yet Garibaldi remains unique for its periodic conferral of the French Rite Entered Apprentice Degree. In italiano. Spectators swarm from seemingly everywhere to witness the stunningly symbolic ritual of spiritual transformation that the lodge received from L’Union Française No. 17.

The Grand Master and the Worshipful Master.
Grand Master William J. Thomas and a team of Grand Staff officers opened the Grand Lodge in the Corinthian Room, spreading the elements of consecration upon the symbolic lodge in a ceremony open to the brethren’s ladies and friends. Masons from afar were in attendance; I chatted with brethren from Portugal and Paris. 

The first great care of the two GLNF brethren upon entering the room was “Why are the women here?”

Courtesy Bill Thomas
October was a busy month for the lodge, with New York City’s Columbus Day Parade and an anniversary banquet leading up to the lodge re-dedication last night.

Congratulazioni e buon anniversario, i miei fratelli!