Friday, July 22, 2016

‘Follow me: Freemasons walking tour’

I probably shouldn’t even post this—I learned of this New Jersey event just now, practically accidentally through social media, so I’m sorry for the too late notice. I believe registration was closed yesterday, although tickets seem to remain available still. I don’t know how, where, or if the lodge has publicized this at all, but here’s the word from the Morris County Tourism Bureau:

The Freemasons in Morristown
July 23, 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Masonic Lodge

Jacob Arnold’s Tavern on Morristown Green
George Washington was among 68 officers in attendance at a December 27, 1779 Masonic meeting held in Morristown at Jacob Arnold’s Tavern celebrating the Festival of St. John the Evangelist. The American Union Lodge was meeting locally to select a grand master, and General Washington was one of the choices. It is estimated that of the 10,000 officers who served during the Revolution, 2,000 were Masons.

The Freemasons formed their own local lodge, Cincinnati No. 3, in the early 1800s. Many of the most prominent residents throughout the town’s history have been members. Here’s a chance to tour their building (c. 1931) on Maple Avenue with Masons and view the displays and artifacts in their onsite museum and library which opened in 2015.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the “secret society” of the Masons, here’s your opportunity.

Saturday, July 23 at 1 p.m. The tour will be held at 39 Maple Avenue, Morristown. Tour size is limited to 30. Cost: $15. Metered parking is available on adjoining side streets.

The Summer 2016 Historical Walking Tour Series from the Morris County Tourism Bureau is being generously sponsored by AAA Northeast and Whole Foods Market, Morristown.

The Morris County Tourism Bureau is a Destination Marketing Organization that positively affects the economy of Morris County by promoting the area’s exceptional historic, cultural, and recreational opportunities by providing services to residents, business travelers, and tourists.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

‘CANCELLATION: Masonic Stamp Club of New York’

After posting yesterday about the George Washington Masonic Stamp Club’s latest news, it occurred to me to have a look at the website of the other Masonic stamp club I know, and I found this sad announcement of the pending controlled demise of the Masonic Stamp Club of New York:

Click to enlarge.

It’s a sorry sign of the times that speaks to, yes, the shrinking of Masonic membership, as this announcement notes, but also to the indifference of society beyond the lodge doors toward philately. And frankly, the U.S. Postal Service does neither itself nor anyone else any favors by producing too many stamps today that lack artistry and that pander to short-term attention to fads.

I happen to be one of those few Freemasons who recognize the need, justifications, and advantages of Masonic groups voluntarily closing down. Look at one of those diagrams of the “Masonic family tree” and see where you’d start pruning. And where you might stop. The Sciots was founded in San Francisco to help Masons recover from the earthquake and fire that destroyed the city. Why it exists eleven decades later, and has spread to locales far beyond California, is beyond my abilities to explain. (I’m always picking on the Sciots—and offered a small joke at its expense yesterday in The Past Bastard comments—but there are others worthy of being taken off life support.)

But a stamp club is something that ought to appeal to all kinds of people. To collect stamps is to collect art. A collection may be as large or small as desired, just as a stamp club can be intimate and portable as its members please. Participation requires no formal education; collecting imparts an education. It’s not necessary to spend much money; depending on what is collected, there could be great value to have in the future. Philately is a pursuit one may enjoy solo; it also lends itself wonderfully to a club setting. To see this club—the Masonic Stamp Club headquartered in New York City—go dark is to witness a eulogy that laments much more than the decline of interest in a hobby. It is a cancellation of what was a cultural cornerstone in our society.

Monday, July 18, 2016

‘Freemason Sibelius and his Opus 113’

The George Washington Masonic Stamp Club will meet in September in Baltimore. The keynote speaker for the meeting will be Walter Benesch, past president, who will discuss “Jean Sibelius: The Great Finnish Composer and Mason and the Strange History Behind His Opus 113.”

From the publicity:

George Washington Masonic Stamp Club
Meeting at the Baltimore Philatelic Exhibition
Saturday, September 3
1 p.m.

Wyndham Hunt Valley Inn
Salon C
245 Shawan Road
Hunt Valley, Maryland

Summer 2016 message from the President

For those who missed the Annual Meeting in February, it was a delightful meeting.

There were four new candidates for the Degree of Philately. This was followed by our election. Yours truly was re-elected President for another two years. Our new First Vice President is Ralph E. Olson. Dr. Rudy Krutar continues as our Second Vice President. John Allen and Sherrill Watkins continue as Secretary and Treasurer, respectively. Michael Aulicino was re-elected as our Cachet Maker-Cover Chairman. But what is good, we now have an official Assistant Cachet Maker, Casey Polowitch. Hopefully Casey will be ready to take over at the next election in 2018. It is always great to see our younger members step up to help out.

Our summer meeting will be at BALPEX on Saturday, September 3 at 1 p.m. in Salon C. The program will be Part Two of last year’s presentation on Jean Sibelius, the great Finnish composer and Mason, but this talk will be on the strange history behind his Opus 113—his “Masonic Opus.” You will hear brief excerpts, and learn one of the strangest histories of any musical composition, including why the Grand Lodge of New York holds the copyright. There will be the traditional door prizes and sale items. Your President is attempting to lessen his collection, so there will be several valuable binders offered to Club members.

BALPEX is held at the Hunt Valley Inn. There is plenty of free parking and a quality restaurant in the hotel, with other restaurants down the road. If there is enough interest, we may go as a group for an early dinner at around 4 p.m. I want everyone to have enough time to review the exhibits at BALPEX, to talk to the vendors, and add to your collections.

Remember, the Club depends on new members, so talk up the George Washington Mason Stamp Club at your lodge and other Masonic bodies. If you don’t have an application, click here.

The next Annual Meeting will take place Sunday, February 27, 2017 at the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

‘Metro Masonic webmasters conference to be planned’

The Digital Square Club of New York enjoyed a successful conference during St. John’s Weekend in Utica last month. Masonic webmasters and other online publishers met in person and by teleconference to learn from each other about the nuances of online communications.

Courtesy Thomas J. Fuzia
I wasn’t there (I don’t know if bloggers meet the criteria), but it seems the real highlight of the meeting was the presentation of the new Digital Cornerstone Award to RW Ron Steiner, who has labored long in helping New York Freemasonry with both public relations and encouraging the use of the web years ago, when hardly anyone in the fraternity knew how to maintain a competent web presence for their lodges. Congratulations, Ron!

Ken Stuczynski, webmaster of Grand Lodge and chairman of the Communications Committee, reports the likelihood of another conference in the Metro area later this year or early 2017 specifically to help the region in most need. (You’d think lodges in the media capital of the world would be more hip, but maybe that’s not the case, although Stuczynski does praise “incredible, cutting-edge work” being done here.) Stuczynski and Grand Master Jeffrey Williamson will speak. I’m sure others will too. I will attend that one.

The Digital Square Club website is being revamped too.

EDIT OCTOBER 7: We could be looking at a Saturday, January 21 meeting for the Metro lodges.

Monday, July 4, 2016

‘Don’t Be a Sucker’

Listening to the radio for some Independence Day rock & roll, the program currently tuned in mixes an occasional odd sound bite amid the tunes, including a minute or so of a U.S. War Department film titled “Don’t Be a Sucker.” Released in 1943, and revised after the war, this short partially explains how the Nazis rose to political power in Germany and drove the country to ruin in the Second World War. The story is told by a Hungarian-born university professor (Paul Lukas) who had fled Europe for the United States in the nick of time, and became an American citizen.

After an introductory segment explaining how political rabble rousers are akin to con men in their common strategies for duping the public, the film uses one character’s membership in Freemasonry to make the emotional connection for the viewer to realize that bigot demagogues typically are talking about them when blaming society’s ills on members of ethnic, racial, and religious minorities. “What’s wrong with the Masons? I’m a Mason,” the startled onlooker wonders before reappraising his opinions on American society.

Freemasonry is an odd choice of vehicle to cross that bridge, but that’s how it is in “Don’t Be a Sucker.”

It has been a number of years since Bro. Sal Corelli was mentioned on the Magpie, and I figure these photos he sent me five days ago would be perfect to share on Independence Day.

Sal was in Queens, New York and visited the site of the 1964-65 New York Worlds Fair, which boasted an impressive Masonic pavilion, some of which remains standing.

I close this Independence Day edition of The Magpie Mason with a look at Bro. George Washington: General of the Continental Army, President of the United States, and Freemason.

Courtesy Sal Corelli

Courtesy Sal Corelli

Courtesy Sal Corelli

If the likeness of Washington looks familiar, it is because the sculptor who created it was a prolific replicator of Washington in bronze. New York artist Donald De Lue’s other Washingtons stand at the New Orleans Main Public Library; the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia; Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus, New Jersey; the Masonic museum in Lexington, Massachusetts; Mariners Church in Detroit; the Masonic Home in Indianapolis; and elsewhere.

Gotta go! The Nerds are playing some little suburban town soon, before the fireworks.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

‘2016 Esoteric Book Conference’

The organizers of the Esoteric Book Conference have announced their plans for 2016. The eighth annual will be in Seattle on September 10 and 11.

Regular Magpie readers will recognize names of some of the presenters, sponsors, etc. Click here for all the news.

‘The buzz about The Beehive Club’

There is a Freemason named Burx, who recently relocated to Idaho from Virginia, bringing with him an idea for Craft Lodge education he calls The Beehive Club. On May 16, he discussed this practice on The Masonic Roundtable.

He describes it as a study group he had introduced at Herndon Lodge 264 in Virginia where the brethren would devote two hours per month to various topics. No membership dues, no meeting minutes, no fuss, no muss—just discussion to profit everyone in attendance. But no sideliners either. Eventually, all who attend participate in the talks to contribute to the common stock of knowledge. On occasion there even is room for Apprentices and Fellows to keep them engaged and on the path.

Click here to listen. The chat gets moving at the 15-minute mark.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

‘Much Ado about Threefold Center’

The Anthroposophical Society’s Hudson Valley campus, the Threefold Educational Center, hosts an amazing variety of programs aimed at infusing spiritual values into the arts, education, and community life, and the gentle people there have been doing it for 90 years.

While I have been enjoying the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s 30th season already this summer, I’m going to make time for this Threefold presentation too. From the publicity:

Babbling Brook Players Present
Much Ado About Nothing
by William Shakespeare

Sunday, August 14 at 6 p.m.
Admission: Free
($20 suggested donation)

Green Meadow Waldorf School, Rose Hall
307 Hungry Hollow Road
Chestnut Ridge, New York

Come spend an evening with Rockland County’s own Babbling Brook Players and a cast of characters that are sure to make you laugh and feel great in one of Shakespeare’s best comedies of love that triumphs over any gossip and mischief.

Courtesy Babbling Brook Players

Sponsored by Threefold Educational Center and the Green Meadow Waldorf School.

‘Scottish Masonic 2° in NYC next week’

Just because it’s July don’t mean there’s nothing cool going on in Freemasonry in New York City.

Mariners Lodge 67 in the venerable First Manhattan District will host brethren from Lodge Greenock Kilwinning XII, from the arguably even more venerable Grand Lodge of Scotland, July 13 for an exemplification of their Scottish Fellow Craft Degree and the customary awesome Mariners Festive Board. And, remember, Scottish Freemasonry has no standardized rituals, so there is no guessing what we will see here.

From the publicity:

You are cordially and fraternally invited to the Lodge’s upcoming Special Communication and Maritime Festive Board.

Wednesday, July 13 at 7 p.m.
Masonic Hall
Doric Room, eighth floor
71 West 23rd Street

Work of the Evening: Exemplification of a Scottish Fellow Craft Degree by Lodge Greenock Kilwinning XII.

This meeting is open to Master Masons and Fellow Crafts only. Black Tie for officers and Black Tie or Business Formal for Brethren.

Captain Cook had yet to discover the Antipodes, and Culloden was still eighteen years away when the first meeting of Lodge Greenock Kilwinning No. XII was held in the hostelry of vintner Robert Moor on The Feast of St John, on 27 December 1728. No. XII was represented at the institution of the Grand Lodge of Scotland at Mary’s Chapel, Edinburgh, on 30 November 1736. The lodge received its charter from the Grand Lodge of Scotland on 12 October 1737, with the number on the roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland based on the date of the first meeting of the lodge.

In the two hundred and seventy-five years and more of its existence, Lodge Greenock Kilwinning No. XII has been proud to count among its members aristocrats, captains of industry, provosts, ministers of religion, servicemen, tradesmen, magistrates, butchers, clerks, lawyers, and many others from all walks of life. All have had but one aim in view: to promote the fundamentals of our order—Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.

Maritime Festive Board Menu: Seared Flank Steak, Garlic Chicken, Slow-Roasted Marinated Pork Shoulder, Baked Macaroni and Cheese, Chopped Salad, Buttermilk Biscuits, Assorted Cannoli, Sodas, Water, Wine, and Flowing Bowls of the Infamous 19th Century Mariners Punch.

Cost of the Festive Board is $35, plus transaction fees. Click here to purchase a reservation via the Mariners Lodge web portal.

(More than a quarter of the available seats are sold out already as I post this on Saturday morning, so don’t delay! Special dietary concerns can be accommodated.)