Tuesday, November 28, 2017

‘Masonic Week 2018 info is posted’

The program for Masonic Week in February has been posted, as has the hotel registration page. Click here. I see some significant changes in the schedule, so have a careful look.

But the Masonic Society dinner remains in place on Friday night. We are finalizing the keynote speaker’s arrangements now, so there will be an announcement on that coming soon.

I am retiring from Masonic Week. Going forward, it’ll just be Masonic Friday for me, with the Masonic Society’s Board meeting that afternoon and the dinner later. After that, I’ll be heading home.

I started attending in 2002, when it was known as AMD Weekend. I was Senior Warden of my Council at the time, and it was a revelation seeing AMD’s top brass do their thing. I luckily enjoyed so many fun times over the years: The late night conversation in the hospitality suites; the Cabal’s top secret doings at Gadsby’s; and, of course, the birth of the Masonic Society in 2008 in the aftermath of a most interesting Philalethes annual meeting! Things have changed though. Many of the brethren who I delighted in seeing have stopped attending. And, at long last, I must give up my dream of becoming Grand Bung. I just wasn’t made for these times.

But we’ll have a great time at the Masonic Society banquet on Friday. See you there.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

‘BOTA Christmas Celebration at Masonic Hall’

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” in New York City: the tree coming to Rockefeller Center, heightened security measures all around, and rats the size of reindeer bumping into you. But seriously, the city’s Builders of the Adytum will host their Christmas Celebration at Masonic Hall next week! I am not a BOTA member, but I did attend its Christmas ceremony several years ago, and I want to go again. From the publicity:

May Light and Love fill your hearts this Christmas season with the healing and blessings of Fraternal Harmony to warm all living creatures who pass your way.

BOTA Christmas Celebration
Saturday, December 2 at 2 p.m.
Masonic Hall, Chapter Room
71 West 23rd Street, Manhattan
Photo ID required to enter building
More information here

Builders of the Adytum is an international non-profit teaching and training order for those interested in the Western Mysteries.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

‘The first Jewish Grand Master of New York’

I’m late in posting this, but there is plenty of time to add this to your calendar. The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York continues its monthly lecture series in November with a presentation by a beloved figure from the First Manhattan District. From the publicity:

Livingston Library Lecture Series
Thursday, November 30 at 6:30 p.m.
Masonic Hall
71 West 23rd Street, 14th floor

Join us as we welcome Most Worshipful Daniel M. Semel to speak about the first Jewish Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York.

Magpie file photo
A 2016 Distinguished Achievement Award recipient, MW Semel has been an active member of the fraternity throughout his entire Masonic career. He served as Judge Advocate for the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York from 1978 to 2015. Semel also helped facilitate the recognition of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the State of New York, of which he is an Honorary Past Grand Master. Additionally, Semel previously has served as the Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, and as the District Deputy Grand Master of the 6th Manhattan District in 1976.

This event is free and open to the public. White wine will be served. Photo ID is required to enter Masonic Hall.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

‘Sunday: The Great Escape’


The Great Escape! No, not the mass exodus of Masons from the “Grand Lodge of New Jersey,” I mean the School of Practical Philosophy’s Plato Study Day on Sunday! From the publicity:

The Great Escape:
A Day with Plato
Sunday from 8:30 to 4:30
School of Practical Philosophy
12 East 79th Street in Manhattan
($25 for full-time students)
Fee includes reading materials,
refreshments, lunch, and wine reception
22 seats remaining
as of Wednesday morning

Plato’s dialogue Crito enables us to listen in on a dramatic conversation in an Athenian jail cell in 399 BC. The great philosopher Socrates’ execution is set for the next day, and his closest friend Crito arrives offering a foolproof plan of escape. The only question: can he convince Socrates to flee?

Socrates makes it clear that he will only consent to escape if he can be shown that it is the right thing to do—the just and virtuous course of action. Crito, convinced that he has excellent reasons for escape, eagerly presents them one after another. How does he fare? What does Socrates decide? What is his reasoning?

Join us Sunday, November 19 to discover why Socrates said the “unexamined life is not worth living” and enter into a conversation involving life’s most important questions:

  • What is our true nature?
  • How do we attain real happiness and freedom?
  • What is the "price we must pay" to attain these?

In giving serious consideration to these, you may well discover answers for yourself that will positively impact your daily living.

The day includes an opening presentation, group study sessions, a great Greek lunch, light entertainment, and closing reception. Family and friends are welcome and no prior study of Plato is required.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

‘Why King Solomon’s Temple?’

The Scottish Rite Valley of New York City offers a lecture Tuesday night that addresses an important subject, and is open to Master Masons. SP Shlomo Bar-Ayal, 32˚ will present “Why King Solomon’s Temple: Why Did Freemasonry Choose this Building as the Basis for its Lodges Above other Ancient Structures?”

That’s at Masonic Hall (71 West 23rd Street, Manhattan) in the Gothic Room on 12 at 7:30 p.m. Photo ID is required to enter the building. Attire: either black tie or business suit.

I cannot attend, but I would love to hear his research. Many years ago, I also spoke on this subject, relying on the very earliest of Masonic literature to explain how the Tower of Babel had been the architectural focal point of Masonic thought, and how David and Solomon would be embraced as the Biblical models for English and European royal succession. (Succession was a huge deal during the generations leading up to the birth of modern Freemasonry as we know it.)

So make sure you get there, and bring your lodge brothers along.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

‘To remove the statue forthwith’

It seems the Scottish Rite has joined the growing consensus advocating the removal from public space in Washington of the Albert Pike statue at Judiciary Square, if the reporting of the Washington Post is to be believed—not something I recommend typically.

Nevertheless, a story published Monday quotes Ronald Seale writing in agreement on removing the 116-year-old giant bronze and marble rendering of his historic predecessor. The Post also claims Seale was party to an aborted scheme to “whisk away the statue at midnight,” meaning he almost linked himself to the ilk that recently damaged statues of Christopher Columbus, Theodore Roosevelt, and other figures historically essential to American society in the name of constant revolution. Fortunately, reason prevailed after it was realized how federal authority is required to move the monument lawfully.

The story never quotes Seale directly, but cites a letter he allegedly sent in August to a DC councilman saying the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction “will support an action by the District of Columbia to remove the statue forthwith so that it should not serve as a source of contention or strife for the residents of our community.”

Sounds good to me, as I said in the previous Magpie post on this subject, if the statue can be relocated to a Masonic property where, presumably, private property still can be kept safe from mobocracy. However, “contention or strife” are among the principal nutrients for a certain segment of American society that is insatiable for perpetual insurrection, replete with violence against people and property, so they will be back.

It is asked often, including in this Post story, why a Confederate Army general is memorialized in the capital city of the United States. Of course it is a fact that this statue of Pike celebrates Albert Pike the Freemason, and has nothing to do with his brief and undistinguished tenure as a CSA military officer, but perhaps Abraham Lincoln broaches this subject in his second inaugural address, delivered only weeks before he was murdered:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.