Sunday, May 30, 2021

‘CoinWeek tries again for Masonic angle’

Courtesy PCGS
Obverse and reverse of a 1950 Franklin half dollar (proof, deep cameo).

CoinWeek, an online periodical for numismatists, published a story days ago headlined “History Hidden in Plain Sight: Freemasons on United States Coins.”

The reporting this time is more detailed, accurate, and useful than the previous story that purported to discuss Masonry. I see Bro. Todd Creason in an acknowledgment at the bottom.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

‘A St. John’s Lodge Bible’

So you know about the famous Bible owned by St. John’s Lodge 1 in Manhattan—that employed for George Washington’s first presidential inauguration in 1789–but does anyone know about the Bible associated with St. John’s Lodge 1 in New Jersey?

That’s an inquiry, not a rhetorical question, into the existence of a 500-year-old Matthew’s Bible.

What is a Matthew’s Bible? Click here.

In my reading about rare and historic Bibles owned by Masonic lodges, I came across this item in the book Masonic Bibles by Charles S. Plumb from 1936:

Click to enlarge.

I suspect that mention of 1519 is a typo that should read 1539.

This lodge is still at labor, although it moved to the suburbs long ago. I emailed the principal officers and others four weeks ago to ask if this unique VSL is in use today, but it doesn’t look like I’ll get the courtesy of a reply. It’s possible this is the first they’re hearing about it. If anyone knows anything, please leave word in the comments section. (Make mention if you don’t want me to publish the comment.)

Sunday, May 23, 2021

‘New Grotto in Jersey’

Courtesy Simba Grotto

Congratulations are in order to Monarch Mark, Chief Justice Donald, and Master of Ceremonies Craig—Esteemed Prophets all—on becoming the principal officers of the newly warranted Simba Grotto!

The Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm has been absent from New Jersey for many years. Until a few decades ago, there had been one in Secaucus (Yalomed, I think) and one somewhere in south Jersey. A hundred or so years ago, there was Zem Zem in Jersey City, and New-Ark in...Newark. Starting in about a month, Simba will fill the air with the boos and hollers of Sympathy and Good Fellowship in Cherry Hill.

Some kid stopped me on 23rd Street a couple of months ago and asked why I’m so interested in the MOVPER. Just when I was about to say “Snap it, pal!” I caught myself and instead decided to answer him. I said because it is and it does what it says it is and does. Also, the Freemasons who take lodge and chapter seriously can appreciate having a Grotto for frivolous refreshment. Now get away from me, kid. Ya bother me.

Monday, May 17, 2021

‘Our first meeting back’


Publicity Lodge 1000 met tonight for the first time since March of last year. A short one, just for our elections.

If you’re looking for us, we’re at Tappo on 24th.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

‘Book launch: Freemasonry on the Frontier’


At last, the fruits of the research that went into the Freemasonry on the Frontier conference will be published soon.

It’s remarkable because the conference never took place. Organized by Quatuor Coronati 2076 and announced in September 2019 for a weekend at the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts the following September, it was cancelled about midway due to the pandemic.

But it seems much (all?) of the papers that would have been presented are to be available to us in book form. 

A video book launch is planned for next week, on Friday the 28th.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

‘BBC video today is latest publicity win’


A three-minute video from the BBC today is the latest in a number of recent positive portrayals of Freemasonry in British news media following the release of the United Grand Lodge of England’s 2020 Annual Report.

I know what you’re thinking: “British journalism, Eddie—best in the world.”

Well, have a look. Click here for “Freemasons: Young people ‘on waiting lists’ to join notoriously secretive society.”

And now, Tatler is in on it!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

‘Pennsylvania Lodge of Research’


Pennsylvania Lodge of Research will meet next month in Conshohocken for its Installation of Officers and to hear Moises present a paper. From the publicity:

Pennsylvania Lodge
of Research
Saturday, June 26
10 a.m. to noon
Fritz Lodge 308
RSVP (a must) here

Agenda items to include:

  • Installation of Officers, including the Brother Senior Warden, Yasser Al-Khatib, being seated in the Solomonic chair.
  • Moises Gomez, the Right Worshipful Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey, to present “Freemasonry in Cuba.”
  • Lodge business and lunch.

1801 Fayette Street in Conshohocken.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

‘A look at the Philly Temple’

The executive director of the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia will be available Saturday for an online talk on what it’s like to manage one of the magnificent Masonic landmarks in the United States. From the publicity:

An Executive Director’s
Look at the Masonic Temple
Saturday, May 15
3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Reserve here

Hear from Masonic Library and Museum Executive Director Mike McKee on what it’s like to lead the Temple. He will take you through the daily maintenance operation and event management. Both will show and hold true to Masonic principles.

Michael McKee
Since 2019, Bro. Michael D. McKee, of Jerusalem Lodge 506, has overseen operations for the Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania as its executive director. Previously he was director of compliance and risk management for the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. He has a B.S. in business administration from Peirce College and an Executive M.B.A. from Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business.

Friday, May 7, 2021

‘Three held in thwarted lodge attack plot’

French authorities arrested six today, having prevented their alleged plot to attack a Masonic lodge in eastern Moselle, according to news reports and a statement from the Grand Lodge of France.

Three of the suspects were held and were referred to anti-terrorism prosecutors for possible indictments, said the Associated Press, which cited French media in labeling the suspects “neo-nazis.”

The trio, two men and a woman, already were being surveilled by police, said the AP, attributing the information to Le Monde.

Grand Master Pierre-Marie Adam released this statement via social media:

Click to enlarge.

Adam said he is amazed by the news of the alleged plot, and he praised law enforcement for their speed and efficiency.

The Grand Lodge of France is not the French jurisdiction that enjoys fraternal relations with grand lodges in the United States. (Instead it is the National Grand Lodge of France, established 1913, that has ties to the Anglo-American Masonic world.)


Monday, May 3, 2021

‘The Order of the Phantom Knighthood’

Why can’t the makers of crappy movies leave us alone?

Incidentally, this is the kind of nonsense inspired by silly neo-templarism.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

‘Brethren and allies in the Masonic war’

Allies Day, May 1917 is an oil-on-canvas by American artist Childe Hassam from 1917. It is said to be the most famous of his ‘flag paintings,’ and it captures a scene on Fifth Avenue, not far from his studio.

If you remember the game show Concentration, you may appreciate pattern recognition skills. This edition of The Magpie Mason is inspired by a match made of mind in me while reading a book of Grand Lodge proceedings and recollecting the painting above.

On this date, and at this very hour, in 1917, the Grand Lodge of New York opened its 136th Annual Communication inside the Grand Lodge Room of Masonic Hall, off Fifth Avenue.

Among the orators that day were Bro. Theodore Roosevelt, former President of the United States—whose remarks deserve their own Magpie post—and a Brother Mason visiting from Canada.

Less than a month earlier, the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany, bringing America into what we today term World War I.

The Canadian visitor was The Hon. William Renwick Ridell, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ontario. With his nation being integral to the British Empire, and having deployed an enormous number of troops—disproportionate to its population, in fact—to France and Flanders, Ridell could not have neglected to discuss the war that day. The comforting notion of Freemasonry transcending nationalities to cement a Brotherhood of Man has its practical limits, you understand.

I can’t reproduce Ridell’s complete remarks here, so I’ll zero in on what prompted my memory of Childe Hassam’s Impressionist painting Allies Day, May 1917.

Most Worshipful Sir and Brother Masons: I was prepared this afternoon to make a set speech. I prepared myself with manuscript and notes. I threw them away after the reception which I have received from you, my brethren of the United States, and I shall speak to you as a brother—as an American, if you will, because I was born on the Continent of North America, and a Briton as I am to my fingertips, and Canadian to the last drop of my blood, I claim the privilege and the heritage which Americans have wrought out for Canadians and Americans and Britons together. ...

But our Masonry as we know it, our Speculative Masonry as we know it, the Ancient Free and Accepted Masonry as we know it—it was organized and placed in systematic form and made eternal by the work of the English Masons who had drunk deep of that which characterized the Masons and that which characterized the Englishmen, that which characterizes all those who have received even a part of their institutions from old England: liberty.

Let it not be forgotten, Oh you Americans, proud of your own United States and of your Declaration of Independence—let it not be forgotten that the Declaration of Independence is the last outcome of the long struggle for liberty which took place in the little island from the time of the Dark Ages—because the English could never willingly bow the knee to the tyrant, and he was the only man throughout the ages—and I am not even excepting my own ancestors of Scotland—the only man throughout the ages who never yet bowed the knee to a tyrant. That freedom which characterizes English Freemasonry characterizes our own Freemasonry. When we are told that when English Freemasonry was introduced into France and Germany that which characterized it most was its brotherhood, we begin to appreciate the significance of our brotherhood. It was Masonry’s brotherhood which attracted the attention of the Frenchmen and which attracted the attention of the Germans, and it was its brotherhood which was the great theme throughout all these lodges which had their origin, which spring out from the great mother across the sea. ...

This is a Masonic war. This is a war for that which Masonry has always stood, for which Masons stand, for which Masonry must always stand, unless it denieth itself and sells itself for a mess of pottage. This is a war for the brotherhood of the world. This is a war for that which is the finest characterization in public life of the democracy of the Masonic life, of the brotherhood of the Masonic Lodge: democracy. ...

Masonry is democracy; true Masonry is democracy. There are no grades in Masonry. The degrees in Masonry are open to all honest men alike. Those there are indeed in authority over us, but those are elected by the free vote of their fellow Masons. There is no King or Kaiser or Czar born to govern and born to rule. Masonry is in itself democracy, and it is for that reason that this war should appeal to all Masons. ...

Coming down Fifth Avenue today I saw a sight that made my heart leap for joy: The Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, hanging in the center, flanked by the Tricolor of France and the blood red banner of England. That is the place for the American flag. It is the place for the American flag to be in advance of both those flags and between them. There was the American Revolution, sir, which was the origin and spur for the French Revolution, and it was that thin line of farmers which stood embattled on Bunker Hill, owing little to the recruiting officers and none to the drill sergeants, but everything to their own strong hearts and determination to be free, it was that thin line of farmers standing on Bunker Hill which forced democracy, which was nearly dead in England, which forced democracy to the front. ... If the United States spends their last man and last dollar, it is their intention that the very soul of Masonry shall not die from off the face of the earth.

Childe Hassam (1859-1935) studied in Paris in the late 1880s. While he is considered an Impressionist, and does employ those techniques here, he also uses an architectural precision that you can see in the many clear lines that shape the pieces in the composition.

It was the June 29, 2020 post of the great Ephemeral New York blog that introduced me to this artist and this painting. I find this image so gripping I remembered it immediately upon reading Ridell’s description of the scene.