Sunday, February 28, 2021

‘Jacob is ’21 Sankey Lecturer’

     

The prestigious annual Sankey Lecture in Ontario is reverting to its customary schedule this spring with a highly promising event to be streamed live.

Professor Margaret Jacob, who deserves a fair share of the credit for the 21st century revival of interest in Freemasonry, will take to the lectern four weeks from today.

Jacob is the author of The Radical Enlightenment: Pantheists, Freemasons and Republicans (1981); Living the Enlightenment: Freemasonry and Politics in Eighteenth Century Europe (1991); The Origins of Freemasonry: Facts and Fictions (2005); and others.

The graphic above has the particulars. Click here to attend.
     

Thursday, February 25, 2021

‘From Taverns to Temples’

     
Courtesy historical-markers.org


And, speaking of Masonic meeting places in early America (see post below), there will be an online presentation Saturday afternoon that promises to be historically interesting.

W. Bro. Mike Comfort, director of the Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania, will discuss “From Taverns to Temples: Homes of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania since 1731.”

From the publicity:


Saturday, February 27
3:30 p.m. Eastern
Free—click here

“From Taverns to Temples” is an illustrated presentation on each of the different locations in Philadelphia used for meetings of the Grand Lodge from its inception in 1731 until the present. The paintings and photos show what was once there and what is there now, narrated with other historical and Masonic information.

W. Mike Comfort, PM, Melita Lodge 295 in Philadelphia, is the director of the Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania. A Temple University graduate (B.A. Journalism) he has been a lifelong devotee of historical and genealogical research. He currently serves an advisor to both the History Committee and the Committee on Native American Regalia, Boy Scouts of America, an organization he has been part of for 50 years.


UPDATE: The lecture has been uploaded to YouTube:

     
     

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

‘NEW BOOK: Masonic Almanac’

     


The first volume of a collaboration of Mark Tabbert and John “Bo” Cline is available now!

(I get excited about these things.)

Almanac of American Freemasonry 1730-1774 is: “the listing and activities of every known Masonic lodge in North America from 1730 to 1774. This information is presented chronologically, by colony, and by chartering source.”

Get it through Lulu here.

Also from the publicity:


The information therein contained is unparalleled. Proceeds of the book will pay for new editions and the publication of Vol 2: 1775-1799 which is 50 percent completed.

Foreword by Shawn E. Eyer.

Contents:

  • Glossary of Terms, Abbreviations, and Contractions
  • Part One: Chronology of Masonic Events (1730 — 1774)
  • Part Two: Chronology of Lodges by Colony and Location
  • Part Three: Lodges in North America by Chartering Source
  • Part Four: Lodges in North America by Colony

Appendices:

  • British Military and Colonial Militia Lodges in North America
  • Lodges in Canada
  • Caribbean Lodges
  • Biographies of American Provincial Grand Masters
  • Famous American Freemasons
  • Bibliography
  • Alphabetical Listing of Lodges (1730-1774)


You know the authors. Bro. Mark Tabbert is the Director of Collections at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia. He is a member of Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076 in London, and is the author of several other books. And Mark was a member of the Masonic Society’s Board of Directors for a number of years. The late Bro. Bo Cline served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Alaska and then was the President of the Masonic Society from 2012 to 2014. We lost him to the Lodge on High last July. Bo was a great friend to have.
     

‘Help Wanted: decoding these symbols’

     
The frontispiece of a 200-year-old Masonic monitor, written by a New York City Brother, includes several symbols that elude me. Please use the comments section below if you have any ideas of the following:

Click to enlarge.

  • The crossed quills are standard, but what of those three crowns? The three GMs? But why with the quills?
  • The item below the quills?
  • I have no idea what that is to the right of the moon.
  • The chalice? Is that from a ritual beyond the three Craft degrees, or something still in use by English lodges?

The image quality is the best I can manage.

Click to enlarge.

Nothing in the pages of this substantial book explains the frontispiece.
     

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

‘Lodge culture discussion’

     


I have been remiss in keeping pace with the Meet, Act and Part podcast, having missed the previous eight or so episodes (When did they get the English guy to voice the intro and outro?), but I couldn’t skip yesterday’s episode.

Titled “Lodge Culture,” Episode 30 brought to the microphone Bro. Michael Arce, a warden in Mount Vernon Lodge 3 in Albany. Okay, I admit that’s why I listened. I’m a bit of a chauvinist regarding New York Freemasonry, and am interested in hearing from the brethren here.

As an aside, Mount Vernon 3 dates to February 21, 1765, so happy anniversary, brethren! It is the eldest lodge outside New York City.

Anyway, co-hosts Bill Hosler, Greg Knott, and Darin Lahners welcomed Arce for the nearly hour-long chat on the numerous and varied dynamics that comprise lodge culture. Of course we’re all familiar with the common tales of faltering lodges, but there can be remedies in certain—not all—situations. Maybe there’s an individual with Tom Brady-like star power who can inspire and lead, or perhaps a committed core group could execute a deliberate, longterm reform. The point is whatever it takes will depend on people and the relationships among them.

Listen to the four knowledgeable and experienced Freemasons here.
     

Sunday, February 21, 2021

‘Prince Hall: Founding Father’

     
And, speaking of Prince Hall (see post below), the March issue of The Atlantic features an article on the Masonic and Civil Rights legend.

Harvard University scholar Danielle Allen penned “A Forgotten Black Founding Father” as part of the magazine’s “Inheritance” essays on African-American history. She is a granddaughter of a Prince Hall Mason who aims to raise awareness of the life and work of the abolitionist and African Lodge founder. She first encountered Hall in history six years ago, and since has “made it a mission to teach others about him.”

She is exploring the feasibility of running for governor of Massachusetts.

You might balk at the claim Prince Hall has been “forgotten,” but I think she means he has not received the due recognition as an essential civic leader in the Founding. See what you think. Read all about it here.
     

‘Grant dollars to benefit grand lodge historic building’

     


The headquarters of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia will be the beneficiary of grant funds to assist with renovations of the historic building.

The City of Atlanta is contributing $1.5 million, raised through a segment of property taxes allocated to help non-profit organizations. Additional funds are expected from other sources. The work is expected to be completed in August.

“The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia is excited to have the City of Atlanta’s support as we restore our historic home on Auburn Avenue,” said MW Corey D. Shackleford, Sr., Grand Master on the grand lodge website. “We look forward to doing our part to sustain the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., while educating the world about the vibrant, economically progressive Black community where he was born and raised.”

The result is expected to be a preserved 330 Auburn Avenue NE, where the brethren will continue to meet on the top floor, with various retail and other commercial tenants occupying the ground floor and second story.

The National Park Service will lease the basement and first floor areas to provide educational exhibits devoted to King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Read more about the building and its great significance here. Read more about the project here.
     

Saturday, February 20, 2021

‘Gronning’s golden anniversary’

     


A happy fiftieth anniversary to my AMD council! On this date in 1971, J. William Gronning 83 was duly constituted under the auspices of the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States of America.

This was before my time, y’understand, so I can’t speak to what happened or even who was there (although I would guess Thurman was present), but I surmise some of the brethren had returned home from AMD Weekend at the Hotel Washington in D.C. the previous week, where Grand Council hosted its annual meeting and issued our charter.

J. William Gronning
J. William Gronning was a prominent York Rite Mason from the area who served as MEGHP of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons in 1962. Remind me to tell you more about him some time.

I was tapped for membership in the invitational group in 2001; served in the East in 2003 (two years before I became Master of my Craft lodge); and even manned the Secretary’s desk for a stretch during the first decade of this century.

It’s hard to think of myself as one of the old timers, but the math supports the allegation. I’m still active, attending two of our quarterly meetings each year. Now I’m newly active with the Grand Council, having been asked to work as editor in chief of Allied Times, a long overdue national newsletter, initiated by MV Mohamad Yatim, to keep the brethren apprised of what’s going on. The first issue is in the works.

AMD membership had been a highly exclusive prize for many years. It took Grand Council nearly forty years to issue its 83rd charter—ours—in 1971. Today, fifty years since then, the number of charters issued in total is nearing 600. As the Masonic Order in America has been contracting precipitously in these recent decades, the number of these councils has proliferated unpredictably. The essential purpose of AMD is two-fold, one of those tasks is to present academic-like research, and I don’t have to tell you there are very few Masons doing that work these days. The growth makes no sense, but here we are.

I strongly doubt there will be a hundredth anniversary for Gronning Council, so I raise a glass to our fiftieth today. Cheers!
      

Friday, February 19, 2021

‘A Masonic menu for our return to lodge’

     

     
These are grim days on social media, but one cry of pain I saw on Farcebook yesterday tugs at the Naked Heart. A brother in England said he was dying for a Festive Board.

Perfectly normal. Perfectly understandable. Who knows how much longer it will be?

Something else I stumbled across a day or so ago in a Masonic Standard from 1903 is a humorous item about a recent dinner, to wit:


Masonic Menu

The Quarterly Bulletin of Cedar Rapids publishes the following bill of fare of a banquet given by Emulation Lodge 255 at Clinton, Iowa:

Oysters
(Silence and Circumspection)

Celery, Olives, Pickles,
Sliced Chicken
(The Faithful Breast)

Sliced Tongue
(The Instructive Tongue)

Potato Salad
(Oil of Joy)

Ham Sandwiches
(The Hidden Mysteries)

White and Brown Bread
(Corn of Nourishment)

Ice Cream
(Here Cold and Mute)

Cake, Fruit, Nuts, Coffee
(Wine of Refreshment)

Cigars
(Brought to Light)


I’ll have to remember that cigar line and work it into conversation.

That P-J ad at the top comes from an English Masonic periodical from the same era. Piper-Heidsieck is my own favorite label, but I wouldn’t decline a flute of Perrier-Jouet at table. It’s been so long, I would effuse joy and gladness for a cup of cold duck. Vivat!
     

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

‘The human being and architecture’

     


The Institute of Classical Architecture and Art offers a free lecture Thursday night on, what a Freemason might call, the essentials of Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty in architecture.

(In Masonic theory, to link architectural integrity to the human form, it may be useful to recollect the Apprentice’s Perfect Points of Entrance and the Master’s—formerly the Fellow’s—Five Points of Fellowship, among other ritual elements in the lodge.)

From the publicity:


The ancient Vitruvian analogy between the human being and architecture was reconsidered in the Early Renaissance, most profoundly by Leon Battista Alberti. His writings emphasize the role of a human being as an ideal type, worthy of representation in the visual arts. According to Alberti, beauty in architecture is innate, which means that a person cannot help but respond in a positive way to a well proportioned building. Alberti even believed that if an army were to enter a city with the intention of destroying it, but the buildings were beautiful, the warriors would lay down their weapons and act in a peaceful manner. This utopian theory provides insight into architecture’s extraordinary role of maintaining civic life. In his theoretical writings, Alberti assisted architects by outlining the steps to be followed when designing a building.

This premier of a video course presented by Peter Kohane, Senior Lecturer of Architecture at UNSW Sydney, will review Alberti’s principles and discuss both their relation to the architecture of the Renaissance and how they can be applied to architectural debates today. The video premiere will be followed by live Q&A with Dr. Kohane.

What You Will Learn

  • Alberti’s principles, including the steps involved in making a classical building.
  • That an architect in the Renaissance strived to create forms which accord with the constitution of a human being.
  • That a building by Alberti was intended to have a positive impact on a beholder, which involved acting in a civilized manner within the city.
  • How to invoke Alberti’s ideas to clarify the nature of debates in the present about architecture and the city.

Register here.
     

‘The performing arts and Masonic values’

     
The downtime granted us by this endless quarantine lockdown business seems to have permitted a burst here and there of musical creativity.

The following are two songs newly uploaded to YouTube that express Masonic sentiments I think we all can appreciate. As we in New York say in the lecture of the Second Degree: Music “wraps us in melancholy, and elevates us in joy.”







Because it rings like a drinking song, I’m partial to the second one—despite the mistaken mention of James Madison, of whom there is no record of being a Freemason.
     


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

‘The fine arts and Masonic values’

     


The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania has issued the call for entries in its 2021 open art competition.

Artists, ages 18 and up, amateur and professional alike, are invited to enter the contest.

“Embodying Masonic Values” is the theme, as eligible works shall “display a visual interpretation of some aspect of Freemasonry in Pennsylvania, whether it be philosophical, historical, scientific, social, fraternal, charitable, architectural, etc.”

Entrants may submit up to three pieces, with nominal fees, before the August 5 deadline.

Jury selection will be announced August 27. The grand exhibition will open October 1, and the show will run through that month at the Masonic Temple on North Broad Street.

Read all about it here.
     

Sunday, February 14, 2021

‘Wanted: Masonic citizens’

     

The Masonic Society
Lecture 2021
 
In lieu of the Masonic Society’s usual banquet during the annual Masonic Week festivities in Virginia, we gathered via Zoom Friday night to host one of the most dynamic thinkers and persuasive speakers on the Masonic scene today. Apresident of the Society, I hadn’t anticipated the pandemic would still hound us into 2021, so I in fact had been planning for our customary dinner-lecture at the hotel in Arlington when I first contacted MW Bro. Akram Elias last June. It was my desire to find a speaker who would continue a theme opened by RW Bro. Eric Diamond, one of our Board members, who addressed the group in 2019 with a speech that rightly should arouse Freemasonry’s latent desire to infuse a positive energy into the public square because, candidly, Freemasonry has turned into an introspective and persnickety historical society. Having discovered earlier in 2020 the Masonic Legacy Society, co-founded by Elias, I recognized exactly such a presenter of urgent Masonic ideals. He graciously agreed to join us, without any hesitation, mental reservation, etc.
 
MW Elias has been a Freemason since 1996, when he was initiated, passed, and raised in Potomac Lodge 5 in Washington, DC. He has presided in the East of La France Lodge 93, Benjamin B. French Lodge 15, Cincinnatus Lodge 76, and Pythagoras Lodge of Research, all in Washington, where he also is a founding member of other lodges. In 1999, he joined the Grand Lodge officer line, culminating in his term as Grand Master in 2008. He is a York Rite and Scottish Rite Mason, and a Shriner, as well as a member of invitational groups. His Masonic accolades and accomplishments are too numerous to include here. In his professional concerns and employments, Elias has been engaged in the field of international relations for more than thirty years; he is a co-founder and president of Capital Communications Group, Inc., an international consultancy that provides to governments and private clients alike an array of strategies for navigating across humankind’s varied nations and cultures.



H
is presentation is titled “Freemasonry in 2026: A Force for Good, or a Footnote in History? He spoke for approximately 
thirty minutes before fielding questions for an hour. We are in the process of editing the webinar video to make it available online to all. The following summary of Elias’ remarks will appear in the upcoming issue of The Journal of the Masonic Society, due out in April.
 


I hope every Freemason would take a few moments to truly think deeply and seriously about what it means to be a Freemason in our country five years before our country celebrates the 250th anniversary of our independence,” he begins. “And about the special relationship that has existed between the Founding of the Great Experiment and the role Freemasonry has played in the establishment, development, and evolution of the Great Experiment; and where we are today—at a major crossroads. Will Freemasonry rise to the challenge once again to help propel this Great Experiment into the future?”
 
Elias defines the Great Experiment as the uniquely American system of governance needed to advance the human condition. Not only democratic elections, which had been tried with only partial benefits to previous societies, but also “the genius of the Founding Fathers,” meaning government as a systems engineering machine that people can use to solve their own problems.” By employing individual liberty, self-governance, and the rule of law, America, which he acknowledged was led at that time by white, Anglo-Saxon property owners, could set in motion a system that would “expand the Experiment” so as to include and embrace all the people of America.
 
“Enlightened citizens are of the utmost importance to the success of this Great Experiment,” he also says, and that is where Freemasonry enters the history. “Masonic lodges truly were incubators” where its members elected their leaders, voted on legislation, and honed their skills in rhetoric. The lodge experience produced leaders of local communities who could safeguard freedom, which is always endangered. “America created civil society,” he adds. While the world always had “society” consisting of structures—religion, ethnicity, family—that predetermined a person’s identity, it took the American Experiment to birth a place where an individual could relieve himself of constraints and enjoy freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble, and other inalienable rights. “It is also, from an Enlightenment perspective, freedom from ignorance, freedom from bigotry, freedom from superstition.”
 
“Masonic lodges spread across the country. It was a place where people learned to govern themselves,” Elias continues. “They were laboratories where Masonry is taken seriously. How does Masonry take an individual and make him better? That happens by studying seriously the deeper meanings of the symbols and allegories of our Craft. It is the esoteric, the hidden aspect, that enables a person to transform from within.”
 
“Masonry was instrumental to help bring people together of different backgrounds to try to work together to build their communities.”  The result over time was making the Great Experiment more inclusive. “One way to look at the evolutionary history of the United States is to see each generation had to fight its own viruses—we live in a COVID pandemic right now. Viruses have variants and can spread sometimes like wildfire. Well, ignorance, superstition, bigotry, and extremism are viruses, and each generation of Americans would face those,” he says, referring to the revolutions in American life that ended chattel slavery and racial segregation, and that expanded suffrage and economic opportunity beyond the original Founders’ social class. “It took generations and generations of Americans to fight hard and make the Experiment more inclusive.”
 
“As Masons, we are taught in our ritual—we live it in many jurisdictions in our country—we need to attract people of different faiths, backgrounds, races, nationalities, etc.,” he explains. We know what are the minimum criteria for someone to knock at the door and be accepted in our Craft.”
 
“Five years before we celebrate our 250th anniversary, given where our country is, what are Freemasons going to do?Are we, as Freemasons, going to go to lodges and do the stuff that we would typically doconduct some business, maybe spend some good time together because we are fellows who like one another and spend an evening together—or  are we going to really go back to the fundamentals of Freemasonry and make it relevant again?”
 
“Freemasonry has a unique role: It is to build a better person, a more engaged, enlightened citizen, and that’s what we need, because if we don’t have enlightened citizens who take on the responsibility, engage the system engineering machine, to move us forward, solve our problems, always expanding opportunity for all—if we don’t do that, it becomes the rule of the mob,” Elias adds conclusivelyAs Benjamin Franklin told that lady who asked What have you given us, Dr. Franklin? And he said A republic, madam, if you can keep it. And a republic needs enlightened, engaged citizens.”
 

‘Esotericism and Masonic Connections’

     


The Ninth International Conference of Freemasonry is scheduled for Saturday, April 10.

The day-long affair will begin at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Titled “Hidden Meanings: Esotericism and Masonic Connections,” it will be a webcast bringing together top scholars you’ve been following for many years.

Register here.

Ric Berman, John Cooper, Shawn Eyer, Adam Kendall, and Will Moore will be among the presenters—and there’ll be more heavy hitters during those eight hours.
     

Saturday, February 13, 2021

‘Grotto Day: an opportunity to howl’

     



Azim Grotto

After a period of quiescence for the summer, Azim Grotto No. 7, Veiled Prophets, will again be in active eruption next Saturday night, Sept. 26. Potent Monarch J. Harris Balston says in his notice to the prophets:

“You need a good laugh, you need an opportunity to howl, you need a change of scene, so don’t let any ordinary circumstance prevent your being present on Saturday evening, Sept. 26. There are a few real smooth things in this world that you have not seen yet, and in order that your eyes may behold and your ears hear, some of those things will on this occasion be revealed to you. There will be novel surprises, for the same old committee on ‘ways and means’ has been devising a lot of ‘warm ones’ for the candidates.”

The Masonic Standard
September 19, 1903


Not to be squelched a second time by the pandemic, the Veiled Prophets of Azim Grotto 7 will initiate a group of, ah, initiates next month at Masonic Hall.

Yours truly, on account of my spiritual powers, y’understand, will serve as the chaplain for the life-changing ceremony.

The graphic above has the particulars. Send an email to that gmail for your petition for membership, but do it today!

(For the record, I have no idea what “warm ones” refers to.)
     

Monday, February 8, 2021

‘Be there on Friday’

     


Join us Friday for the Masonic Society’s virtual meeting when we will welcome to the lectern MW Bro. Akram Elias, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Washington, DC.

In lieu of our annual banquet amid the Masonic Week festivities in Virginia, we shall gather via Zoom to enjoy our guest speaker’s presentation.

Just as when we meet inside the hotel, this “meeting” is open to all Freemasons and friends of the fraternity.

In all seriousness: Evidently there are grand lodges that proscribe the use of online platforms for Masonic purposes by their members. Govern yourselves accordingly.

MW Bro. Elias will challenge us to look five years into the future, to the 250th anniversary year of the Declaration of Independence, for a candid assessment of Freemasonry. Will it be as vital to our world as it was in the time of the Founding?

Dress as you would for a Masonic meeting. See you there.
     

Saturday, February 6, 2021

‘33 & Beyond’

     


I have seen 33 & Beyond: The Royal Art of Freemasonry, and it is good.

I finally had chance to watch Johnny Royal’s 2017 film love letter to the fraternity yesterday and, while I won’t write a review, I recommend it.

The movie runs 90 minutes. With numerous interviews and footage of various untiled Masonic persons, places, and things, it relates philosophical interpretations of the degrees of Craft Masonry, the A&ASR-SJ major degrees, and the York Rite too.

In the interviews, we hear from young and not so young, and from famous and not yet famous brethren. Most, I think, are Californians, including Kendall, Cooper, and Doan; and there are Oklahomans Bob Davis (now Grand Master) and the late Jim Tresner, both of whom, unsurprisingly, are indispensable.

Conspicuously missing are any New Yorkers—the closest we get is a three-second clip of a homeless guy on MacDougal Street—but I guess you can’t have everything.

Watch it on Prime Video or Xumo. And stay through the end credits for a funny coda.
     

Friday, February 5, 2021

‘Oscar is next OpenLFM speaker’

     
I can’t prove it, so I probably shouldn’t say it, but I think Oscar has cloned himself. How else can one reasonably explain the pace he maintains in his various stations and places and concerns and employments?

If that is true, then it surely is secret, so I’ll keep it inviolate.

Anyway, it’ll be Oscar Alleyne’s turn at the lectern for this month’s Open Lectures on Freemasonry session. From the publicity:


The Masonic Legend
of Count Roume de St. Laurent
by Bro. Oscar Alleyne
Saturday, February 27
2 p.m. Eastern Time

In the year 1832, there arrived in the City of New York the Count de St. Laurent. He was a member of the Supreme Council of France and Grand Commander (ad vitam) of the Supreme Council 33 for Terra Firma, New Spain, South America, Puerto Rico, Canary Islands, etc. He found the old council sleeping in consequence of political and anti-masonic troubles existing at that time. This lecture discusses his role in resuscitating that council and many of the mysteries connected to him as he introduced Scottish Rite to African American Masons.

More info here.

Register here.
     

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

‘The historic lodge without a grand lodge’

      
The seal of Holland Lodge 8, warranted September 20, 1787 when it worked the three degrees of Craft Masonry and the Mark Master Mason Degree. Its motto, ‘Deugd Zy Uw Cierrad,’ means ‘Virtue Is Your Jewel’ in the Low Dutch of that period.

I noticed fairly early in my studies of Freemasonry how its history generally is the story of Freemasons segregating themselves from other Freemasons. That is what 1717 was about. That’s what 1751 was about. Ditto the proliferation of the countless high degrees in Europe that century.

During the 1800s and closer to home, a series of schisms, rebellions, and flashpoints in New York Freemasonry made it simply miraculous that our fraternity survived intact by 1900. There was frictional competition for leadership between city and country lodges; there was one or two start-up grand lodges; they had various Scottish Rite factions; and in the back rooms, famous Masons who wielded great political power from their public offices battled each other within the fraternity. And, keep in mind, all the above happened during the same era that also saw the twenty or so years of collapse following the Morgan Scandal.

Absolute anarchy.

Amid these catastrophes, Holland Lodge 8, established 1787, saw reason to break from the Grand Lodge of New York and be at labor independently.

On Thursday, February 25, from 7 to 8 p.m., the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library will host a lecture online that will explain the unusual story of Holland’s secession.

From the publicity:

The Crane-Balestier Letters
by W. Bro. Bradley Corsello

This presentation will tell for the first time the complete story of Holland Lodge’s independence, introducing the Masons whose plots and intrigues nearly destroyed one of the oldest and most eminent lodges in New York City.

W. Corsello is a Past Master of Solomon’s Lodge 196 in Tarrytown. He also is a Royal Arch Mason in Ancient Chapter 1, and is a Prophet in Azim Grotto 7.

Admission is free. Register here.

     

Monday, February 1, 2021

‘To work in the color purple’

     
Israel Antiquities Authority
Israel Antiquities Authority

“And now I have sent a cunning man, endued with understanding, of Hiram my father’s, the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre, skillful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson....”

2 Chronicles 2:13-14


A certain piece of cloth that is significant to Freemasons made the news last week. No, not some talk show host’s Prince Hall sweater. This is a scrap of fabric said to date to the Iron Age epoch the Hebrew Bible informs us was the time of David and Solomon.

Even without particular literacy in the Hebrew Bible, Freemasons will recognize the above verses from their ceremonies. Mention of a skilled workman, able to craft metal, stone, and wood is straightforward, but kudos to the Masons who wonder about the placement of colors on that resume, and extra credit to those who investigated it.

We today take our colors for granted. In paints and inks, and in dyes and food colorings, purple is made to appear all around us. In ancient times, however, things were extremely complicated.

Tyre, home of King Hiram, was famous in antiquity for several reasons, including its manufacture of purple and blue dyes. To produce a single ounce of the colorful substance, fishermen would draw from the Mediterranean thousands of a certain kind of snail. The mollusk contained a gland that secreted a substance that was found to have the potential for creating purple, red, and blue dyes. The process was extremely labor intensive and its chemistry required the use of urine. Between the gutted snails and the urine, sailors knew they were approaching Tyre just by the smell. I bet the guy who discovered that process had some funny stories. Anyway, the expense and scarcity of the coloring mandated its use be reserved for royal and priestly leadership.

Might this piece of fabric have been part of a garment worn by Solomon, King of Israel?

Read The Times of Israel here, and BBC Science Focus here.