Wednesday, March 16, 2016

‘Don’t miss this monumental event!’

Don’t miss this monumental event!

M.W. Anthony W. Montuori,
Grand Master of New Jersey
- and -
M.W. William J. Thomas,
Grand Master of New York

Will Dedicate the New Headstone
of M.W. Jepthah B. Munn,
Grand Master of New Jersey, 1820-23

Sunday, April 3 at 11 a.m.
Madison Lodge No. 93
170 Main Street
Madison, New Jersey

For many years, the headstone of M.W. Munn had been in dire need of the skill of a master stonemason. Finally, thanks to donations from generous Freemasons, a new headstone is ready to be unveiled in honor of this unique Grand Master who played a fascinating role in Freemasonry in both New Jersey and New York.

Light refreshments to be served after the ceremony.

Attire: Staff Uniform, or business suit, with apron and jewel.

Parking at the lodge is reserved for Grand Lodge senior officers and those with physical need. All others shall park at Madison Junior School, behind the lodge.

For more information: R.W. Moises I. Gomez or R.W. David R. Berger.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

‘Food for thought in Tennessee’


Magpie file photo.
This portrait of General Andrew Jackson by Charles Wilson Peale hangs in the office of the Grand Master of Pennsylvania in the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia. I don’t think art historians, or anyone else, are aware of its existence. I shot this photo in October 2007.

I typically avoid matters of Masonic politics and recognition on The Magpie Mason—I doubt my own powers of persuasion, and I don’t find these foibles all that interesting—but as today is the (249th) birthday of Andrew Jackson, there is something I cannot resist pointing out.

If you do not follow anything on Freemasonry in social media, you may not be aware of the public relations disaster being foisted upon the entire Masonic fraternity in the United States by two grand lodges down south: Georgia and Tennessee. Both recently have banned gay men from Masonic membership. As usual the most comprehensive and level-headed coverage can be found on the Dummies blog. Not only is the matter examined here and there in Masonic cyberspace, but more recently NPR and other mass media outlets have reported on it.

Tennessee has taken the additional step of proscribing Masonic membership for those who cohabitate without the benefit of marriage.

Enter Andrew Jackson, Grand Master of Masons in Tennessee, 1822-24.

In a tragedy of errors when Jackson was in his early twenties, he married Rachel Robards, the daughter of Jackson’s landlord who happened to have been married already to one Lewis Robards. She erroneously believed that first marriage, a very unhappy union, had been terminated, and that she was free to marry again. This was not the case, and her wedding to Jackson legally was viewed as bigamy and adultery. The Robards’ marriage eventually was ended in divorce in 1793 on the grounds of Rachel’s adultery. She and Jackson wed for the second time, and for keeps, several months later.

This would haunt Jackson through life, although it evidently did not affect his rise through the ranks of Tennessee Freemasonry. Actually, the record of his initiation is unknown today, but we know he served as Grand Master in the early 1820s. In 1806, he killed a man in a duel who had impugned his wife’s reputation. In his campaigns for the presidency, his opponents and enemies savagely exploited the illegal adulterous first marriage for political advantage. It worked in 1824, when Jackson lost to anti-Mason fanatic John Quincy Adams when the election was settled in the House of Representatives. As for Rachel, she would not see the White House. She died December 22, 1828 after Jackson’s election to the presidency, but before his inauguration in March 1829.

Her death did not satiate the puritans, and the Jackson administration would fall apart from another matrimonial scandal when Secretary of War John Eaton’s marriage to Margaret “Peggy” O’Neill was scrutinized. Eaton, a widower at 28, was a U.S. Senator from Tennessee and a Mason in Cumberland Lodge No. 8; Peggy was married to a Navy man named Timberlake who died overseas in 1828. It was thought Eaton arranged to have Timberlake deployed overseas so he could keep time with the wife during his absence. It also was thought the widow failed to observe a traditional period of mourning her husband’s demise before marrying again. The 1820s version of real life real housewives of Washington, DC conspired to shun the Eatons, keeping the couple from having any social life within the city of power, a very potent peer pressure indeed. The animus affected President Jackson’s cabinet to the extreme point where nearly all the cabinet members would resign only two years into the administration. It also ended Vice President John C. Calhoun’s presidential aspirations, as it was his wife who organized the ostracizing of the Eatons.

Political satire during the anti-Masonic hysteria in the early 1800s included illustrations such as this one depicting President Andrew Jackson, on the right, with members of his cabinet who also were Freemasons. This drawing appears in Light on Masonry, the massive compendium of Masonic ritual exposures, edited by Arturo de Hoyos, and published by the Scottish Rite Research Society in 2008.

There is resistance among Tennessee Freemasons to what has been done, but there also is support. The Grand Lodge will convene next week for its regular elections and balloting on legislation, so we’ll soon learn how this question will be settled. Follow the Dummies blog for that news.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

‘Feast of the Paschal Lamb’

New York City Chapter of Rose Croix, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, will host its Feast of the Paschal Lamb later this month.

Click to enlarge.

I’m going, if for no other reason than to hear Cliff speak.

Friday, March 11, 2016

‘Watching Washington at Federal Hall’

Every year, New York Freemasons stage a re-enactment of the first inauguration of George Washington as president of the United States on (or about) the anniversary of the historic occasion in 1789, and the 2016 event has been announced. I assume the George Washington Inaugural Bible will be on hand. From the publicity:

George Washington Presidential
Inauguration Re-enactment
Friday, April 29
11 a.m.
Federal Hall
26 Wall Street

Please join us as we commemorate the inauguration of George Washington and the Heroes of 1776—many of whom were Free and Accepted Masons—and to proclaim our heritage.

Magpie file photo
Statue of Washington at Federal Hall, NYC.
Two hundred and twenty-seven years ago, on April 30, 1789, George Washington was sworn in as the nation’s first president, and gave the first inaugural address. The American government was based in New York that year. Congress had met for the first time on March 4, 1789 in the former city hall at the corner of Wall Street and Nassau Street, which a year earlier had been redesigned by Pierre Charles L’Enfant in the Federal architecture style—the first such building design in America—thus the building was renamed Federal Hall.

This event is sponsored by the George Washington Inauguration Reenactment Committee of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York.

Click here to read about Washington and his adding “So help me God” to his oath.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

‘Knuffels to Rotterdam’

From her Facebook page, Betty Langenberg
with two of her beloved dogs.

Freemasonry, going back to the first grand lodge’s first book of jurisprudence, published 1723, is said to be best understood when it “becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remain’d at a perpetual Distance.” The authors weren’t talking about geographic or physical distance, although in retrospect that may make sense, but were alluding to the artificial barriers of religious opinions that estranged Roman Catholics from Protestants, and that also divided Protestants by their differing denominations. And then there was politics! In modern times, that Center of Union that closes any “perpetual distance” often exists on the internet. The term “E-Masonry” was coined in the book The Temple That Never Sleeps, written by Josh Heller of Pennsylvania and Gerald Reilly of the United Kingdom. Heller is the co-founder, with Chris McClintock of Ireland, of a discussion forum named Masonic Light; Reilly is one of that group’s original conversationalists. T3NS, as the book is known among us, recounts the history of the group, making clear the wonderful alchemy created when Freemasons of numerous backgrounds, from a galaxy of lodges, and of both sexes unite in respectful discussion of all things Masonic. (Actually, “All Things Masonic” was the name of the original e-group. It became Masonic Light in May 2000 after Yahoo! acquired the e-groups.)

It is difficult to explain the bond that existed among those of us who were regular participants in the free flowing conversations that made this group so special. On February 20, 2004, Tim Wallace-Murphy phrased it this way:

“Perhaps I am simply a romantic old Irish curmudgeon who still has both feet planted firmly in mid-air, but … there is indeed a spirit of community among us, one which manifests itself in compassion for any members illness or miss-fortune; delight in members’ achievements and a growing sense of fraternity that crosses all man-made boundaries of class, culture, religious belief, as well as those barriers imposed by nature such as geographical location. ’Tis surely better to progress slowly over a long period of time to create an ambience which lasts longer than we will as individuals.”

I’d better come to the point.

I was admitted to this eclectic and wonderful group in January 2001. Not finding anything remotely akin to the Masonic education I expected from my lodge and the many Masonic fraternities I had joined since 1997, I looked to the internet for informative and inspiring Masonic discussion and instruction. Yahoo! Groups were big at the time. I signed up for a number of them, including Paul Bessel’s MasEd (as in Masonic Education) forum, and it was there where I encountered a female Mason named Betty Langenberg from the Netherlands. Specifically, she was with—at that time—Pythagoras Lodge No. 5, under the Dutch Grand Lodge of Freemasonry for Men and Women, located in Rotterdam. (Later in life, she would affiliate with Loge Ziggurat in the Hague.)

More than the novelty of “meeting” a woman Freemason, it was Betty’s knowledge, wisdom, warmth, and humor that cemented many friendships between her and many of us in the group.

On March 8, 2001, after consulting with both Josh and Chris, I invited Betty to join us on Masonic Light. It would initiate a whole new dynamic in our group discussions. Janet Wintermute arrived after a few days. Then Nadia from Athens. And Vera from Belgium. And many more over the years, most electing to avoid conversation, and others commenting in reserved tones, but many gregariously joining in the sharing of Light. I’d say we all benefitted. Personally, by the time I was being installed Master of my lodge in 2004, I felt I possessed a somewhat worldly perspective on Masonic life. I certainly was more understanding of the Craft’s teachings, and their diverse interpretations, than most of my peers who served in the East of their lodges near me at that time. There probably were about fifty MLers (there have been many hundreds who have been members these sixteen years) whose participation in the group discussions have enriched my personal Masonic experience immeasurably. I will remain indebted always.

And there were private chats outside the group.

Sister Betty and I talked (I mean e-mails) at some length, off and on, for many years. Our respective frustrations with Masonic bureaucracy. Our mutual love of tobacco. The weirdness on the streets of the Netherlands I sometimes followed in the news. Her repeated offers to let me crash on her couch should I ever visit her country. I regret not acting on this, not only because I haven’t traveled to the Netherlands since 1990, but naturally because it would have been amazing to meet up and make the personal connection (and maybe even get a tour of her lodge and grand lodge!). I never closed that “perpetual Distance.” There just never seemed to be enough time.

We all have so little time.

Betty Langenberg wrote poetry. (Click here to read a few poems.)


Brother, is there something between you and me?
The east is glowing in a golden candlelight,
we listen to Mozart, and think in different languages,
Yet, I understand you, as you understand me.

I dont know your place in your society,
I do not know to which God you daily pray,
There must be thousands things that seperates you and I.
Brother, is there something between you and me?

You make the sign and know the word.
I know you now,
although you live under a different sky;
You are my brother, seated next to me.

Brother is there something between you and me?
Between us, in the chain, the secret lives.
I heard your heart, as you heard mine,
and from countless miles, we recognize.

Betty passed away January 6 after a long illness. She was 66 years old. Her funeral service was held January 12. Her remains were cremated.

I didn’t intend to post this edition of The Magpie Mason on the fifteenth anniversary of Betty’s joining us on Masonic Light. I wanted to do it in January, but I sometimes procrastinate, and especially did so here. By the time I stopped dreading writing this and got to it, I observed the coincidental timing. I accept this in a very positive way!

What also is positive, and also with fortuitous timing, is Josh’s new effort to get Masonic Light revived and buzzing again. ML (and I think probably all Yahoo! Groups) has been quiet and still for several years, as we all have migrated to more modern social media platforms. To rally everyone, I launched Masonic Light 2.0 on Facebook in 2014 for the fourteenth anniversary of ML’s founding. It ain’t the same.

Betty almost always concluded her posts to the Masonic Light group with “Knuffels from Rotterdam” (or from a rainy Rotterdam, or a cold Rotterdam, or a sunny Rotterdam). Knuffels are hugs.

I close this tribute to my Masonic sister and friend with Knuffels to Rotterdam. Goodbye.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

‘Things to do in March’

Now through May 8
Mystery and Benevolence:
Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk Art
from the Kendra and Allan Daniel Collection
Folk Art Museum
2 Lincoln Square
Click here.

March 4 and 5
Red Book Conference
New York City
Click here.

Saturday, March 5
7 p.m.
The Four Ages of Man: Myth or Truth
by Robert Blejer 
School of Practical Philosophy
12 East 79th Street

From time immemorial and from cultures around the world there have been stories and conjectures about a Golden Age that existed when mankind first made an appearance. As in the story of the Garden of Eden, life was a paradise free from strife and unhappiness. However, the paradise lasted only for a time; eventually something led to a life less than golden. Frequently, this movement has been described in descending order of spiritual understanding and moral values, with the various stages being named after the four primary metals: gold, silver, bronze and iron.

Join us for a presentation on the Four Ages of Man as we uncover the qualities of each age and consider questions such as: what leads to the decline, is it universal or individual, is it ordained and inexorable or a choice and under humanity's control? Finally, what lessons can the seeker of truth take from these stories?

Tickets cost $25, which includes refreshments, and are available here.

Wednesday, March 9
7 p.m.
Mariners Lodge 67 Stated Communication
and Maritime Festive Board
Work of the Evening:
Talk by Bro. Robert G. Davis titled
“The Journey to the Mature Masculine Soul”
Masonic Hall
71 West 23rd Street
Doric Room, Eighth Floor

Bro. Davis is a Freemason of over thirty years standing, having served in numerous Blue Lodge, Scottish Rite and York Rite capacities. He is a Past President and Fellow of the International Philalethes Society, a Past President of the Masonic Restoration Foundation, and the author of Understanding Manhood in America, Freemasonry’s Enduring Path to the Mature Masculine, and The Mason’s Words: the History and Evolution of the American Masonic Ritual.

Maritime Festive Board Menu—a Southern-style Feast: Low Country Fried Chicken; Barbecue Beef Short Ribs; Chicken Fried Steak with White Pepper Gravy; Macaroni & Cheese; Mashed Potatoes with Brown Gravy; Creamed Spinach; Long-Cooked Collard Greens; Buttermilk Biscuits; Soda, Seltzer and Mariners Punch.

Cost per person of the Festive Board is $35, plus transaction fees. Click here.

Saturday, March 12
9:30 a.m.
New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research
and Education 1786
Papers will be presented
535 Main Street
(Hightstown-Apollo Lodge 41)
Hightstown, New Jersey

Sunday, March 13
Grand Master’s Day at Tappan
Click here.

Thursday, March 17
7 p.m.
2016 Wendell K. Walker Lecture:
by MW William J. Thomas, Grand Master
Independent Royal Arch Lodge No. 2
Masonic Hall
71 West 23rd Street (room TBA)
(details to come, and will be updated here)

Friday, March 18
7:30 p.m.
“Freemasonry and the Mystic Schools of the East”
by Bro. Mohamad Yatim
Westfield, New Jersey
Master Masons only.

March 18-19
SteinerBooks Seminar and Party:
NYU Kimmel Center
60 Washington Square South

SteinerBooks’ annual spiritual research seminar at New York University’s Kimmel Center will feature professionals actively engaged in the world in developing new heart forces in social life, law, medicine, and education. Aonghus Gordon, Peter Gruenewald, Maureen Curran, and William Manning will explore contemporary problems and offer new models and paradigms to find creative solutions and opportunities for building a more human future. Read all the details here and plan to make the short walk up town for the After Party on Saturday, March 19.

Anthroposophy NYC is honored to host the SteinerBooks Spiritual Research Seminar After Party for a second year at our branch home just a few blocks away from NYU. Following last year’s well attended and spirited evening, we’ll again be offering a meeting place for seminar attendees to gather after the weekend’s events to enjoy warm company, live entertainment, biodynamic wines, and light refreshments. The party will commence shortly after the close of the seminar on Saturday. We invite everyone to join us for hearty post-seminar conversations before heading out to explore the NYC nightlife. Thanks to SteinerBooks for their collaboration and to all those who filled our branch last year. We look forward to another evening of living community!

Saturday, March 19
1 p.m.
Discuss Spiritual Laws with Dr. Lonnie Edwards
Rosicrucian Cultural Center
2303 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.

Once we learn to tap inner resources, living will be an invigorating affair continuing. We need to keep foremost in our consciousness certain principles, conditions and laws to gain access to spiritual tools and to arrive at permanent solutions to life's challenges. Through lectures, participation in meditation, and visualization exercises, we will be given the opportunity to experience the value of discussing these principles in a group setting.

Facilitating the discussions will be Dr. Lonnie Edwards, Vice President of the EGL Board of Directors, and author of Spiritual Laws that Govern Humanity and the Universe.

Tuesday, March 29
“The Relations Between Freemasonry
and the Vatican”
by Bro. Pierre F. de Ravel d’Esclapon
Cocktails at 6:30 and lecture at seven
Masonic Hall (room TBA)
$20 per person
Open to Masons, family and friends
To benefit Holland Lodge Historical Society.

March 31 through April 2
New England Masonic Academic Convocation
Grand Lodge of Massachusetts
186 Tremont Street
Tickets and necessary information here.