Wednesday, June 30, 2021

‘The ALR resumes its labors’

The American Lodge of Research meets in the Colonial Room on the tenth floor of Masonic Hall, but is free to meet anywhere in the State of New York.

The American Lodge of Research—not the first, but now the oldest lodge of research in the country—was recalled to labor Tuesday night.

Most Worshipful William Sardone, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York, sat in the East and sounded the gavel at 7:36 p.m., ending a period of darkness that had spanned approximately four years.

“This is the time to reboot, to get back on track, and to move things forward,” he said.

This meeting was for a quick election and installation of officers. Working behind the scenes, Sardone and Right Worshipful Oscar Alleyne, Junior Grand Warden, assembled a team to take the elected offices for this term. They are:

Worshipful Master
Conor M.
Senior Warden
Angel Millar
Junior Warden
Michael Livschitz
David Pearlmutter
Michael Chaplin

Our appointed officers, which I believe are only the deacons, are yet to be announced.

There already is a website available, and other improvements will be coming soon.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

‘Philly temple on TV’

Courtesy GL of Pennsylvania

The Masonic Temple in Philadelphia will be featured on a local television show Thursday night.

The episode of WHYY’s Movers & Makers is at hand. It seems the building’s history and architecture will be highlighted. That’ll be 7:30 p.m. Click here for a teaser. (Try to ignore whoever said there are no secrets in Freemasonry.)

Watch it on the web later.

Monday, June 28, 2021

‘Project Lyre goes live’

I think this is something like three years in the making, but one California Mason’s goal to return music to ritual work advanced one big step this afternoon when Project Lyre went live on Reverb Nation.

Geoffrey Schumann, of North Hollywood Lodge 542, has posted four compositions on the musician networking site:

The Exalted Jewel March
The Grand Theme
The Staircase
Time to Vote

The objective is to return That Elevated Science to the ambiance of lodges that are bereft of organists. Schumann previously made files available by request, but this endeavor seems to be for the benefit of the Masonic world. I think the grand lodge’s website will host the files later.

It is a lamentable fact that the fraternity suffers a shortage of musicians today. There’s no rule anywhere that stipulates organ playing for lodge life, but that evidently was the tradition for many years. Plenty of lodges today have a large keyboard instrument neglected somewhere on the north side. Other instruments could be played, but I suppose the power of a reed or electric organ really fills the room. (At Masonic Hall, a pipe organ occupies the west of the lodge rooms, behind the Senior Warden, and I don’t know where my lodge would be without Bro. Erik.)

Well done, Bro. Schumann!

Saturday, June 26, 2021

‘Congratulations are in order’

Tremendous news broke earlier today.

Bro. Oscar Alleyne, the Right Worshipful Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of New York, the First Vice President of the Masonic Society, and a lot more, has been elected to membership in Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076 in London.

Holy cow!

If you’re not familiar, that’s a kind of immortality in Freemasonry.

Meanwhile, at the meeting of Pennsylvania Lodge of Research, Bro. Moises Gomez was named a Fellow of the lodge! Huzzah! Moe is the RW Grand Historian of New Jersey.

I don’t know if I can sit with you guys at lunch anymore. I’ll certainly avert my eyes in the hallway.

But, wait, there’s more!

In the outside world, two Prince Hall brethren are on their way to elected public office.

RW Bro. Darren Morton, the Grand Senior Warden of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York, won the Democrat Party primary Tuesday for Comptroller of the City of Mt. Vernon. And Bro. Malik Evans, of Eureka Lodge 36, won the party’s nomination for Mayor of Rochester.

Well done, brethren, and good luck in November!

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

‘Bailey’s boycott’

Cameron M. Bailey
The Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of Washington published a personal statement Sunday saying he believes it is necessary for grand lodges to withdraw fraternal recognition now from those few remaining jurisdictions that still have not established relations with their Prince Hall Affiliated neighbors.

Writing on SubstackCameron Bailey, in an essay titled “Prince Hall Recognition: It Is Well Past Time,” says:

By recognizing as legitimate those jurisdictions that refuse to recognize their Prince Hall counterparts, the Grand Lodge of Washington, through its silence, gives its consent to an ongoing moral wrong. It stands silent as a discrimination that should have been done away with in 1897 continues in a small handful of states.

This was wrong in 1897, it is wrong today, and if we don’t do something about it, it will be wrong next year as well.

It is well past time that the Jurisdictions that do recognize their Prince Hall counterparts take positive action standing up for that which is good and right and moral.

This is no sudden outburst from the Grand Master. His opinion has been known for a long time. His reference to 1897 is a recollection of how his Grand Lodge made the extraordinary move to close the racial divide by recognizing PHA Freemasonry. At that time, the other grand lodges in the United States beat Washington into submission by withholding their recognition of that jurisdiction.

Washington tried it again in 1990, and that time the diplomacy worked, sparking the revolution that has spread across the country to all but six jurisdictions in the South.

My thoughts on this may be primitive, so please be patient. First, I don’t know that instigating less recognition is the best way to create more recognition. Maybe it would be. I do not know. Second, recognition between two parties must be mutual. I can’t say for a fact that the PHA grand lodges affected today even want the friendship of these now rogue southern grand jurisdictions. Maybe one or more or all would choose to establish mutual relations. I don’t know. (I’m one of the few who admits publicly that I don’t know things. My motto, “I drink and I don’t know things,” was co-opted and turned upside down by that dumb TV show.) Thirdly, it’s possible that progress is being made already in one or more of these southern states—say it with me: I don’t know—and an audacious provocation like this might be counterproductive.

Should make for lively conversation at the Conference of Grand Masters next February!

Sunday, June 20, 2021

‘You can’t spell MASONS without SONS’


In the trestleboard from New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786 this month is an interesting item concerning the Master Mason Degree and the Lewis. Submitted to the publication by one of its Past Masters:

There Is a Ritual for Everything

Believe it or not, there is diversity in Masonic rituals. What is worked in New Jersey does not match perfectly with rituals in neighboring jurisdictions, something you will notice instantly when visiting a lodge in Pennsylvania, and pretty quickly in a New York lodge. In addition to the official published rituals, lectures, and charges, there are other pieces that sometimes can be added to your degrees and meetings.

Perhaps you have joined a Chain of Union after lodge is closed. Maybe you have been lucky to hear the “Canadian Charge” (it goes by several names) after a Master Mason Degree. Some European forms of Freemasonry even have ceremonies in lodge for weddings and baptisms. That’s a bit much for my tastes, but here is an item I found while researching for a paper I’m writing. In the pages of the April 1915 issue of The Builder, the magazine published by the National Masonic Research Society, is an oration authored by brethren of Lyons Lodge 93 in Iowa. It is a charge a brother delivered to his son upon being raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason.

My son: Tonight you become a member of an order—not only of friendsbut of brothers. In your life, as you master its teachings and experience its good influences, you will have a great mental growth.Masonry fosters only the right doers; its principles, its teachings, its mysteries all tend to the elevation of man.

Masonry gives maturity to the good character, and character may be likened to a universal bank. The deposits that are made in the bank of character bear an eternal interest. No thief can steal them; no panic can dissipate them. The life of him who is pure, just, honorable and noble, finds within the tenets of Masonry loyal protection “from the evil intentions of our enemies.”

We believe that you will be true and faithful to the teachings of Masonry, and we trust that you will so live that your words and your actions will be such as to brighten the memory of all the good men who have stood where you and I now stand—amid friends and amid brothers.You are the son of a Mason who reveres Masonry’s teachings and stands uncovered in the presence of its sublime mysteries.

If you will have your conduct in harmony with the principles of Masonry, you will aid my remaining years to pass in peaceful satisfaction.You are not only my son, but you are also my brother. Believing that you will always prove yourself as being worthy of having been this evening “raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason,” I hope to be steadied by your arm as my son and as my brother when I depart on the journey whose goal is the realm of silence.

Even the All-Seeing Eye has a tear after that. Please feel free to keep this handy if you or a lodge brother ever comes to enjoy the honor of seeing a son become a brother. Happy Fathers Day!

Saturday, June 5, 2021

‘My Dinner with Andre’


It has been decades since I last watched it, so there’s a lot more to get out of it now. Try it.

Louis Malle seats you in a booth at Cafe des Artistes with Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory for quail entrees and conversation. The former, the attentive ear, is a Square of dependable, resolute ninety degrees. The latter, the instructive tongue, is the Compasses extended to extremity.

At length, Gregory tells of his extrinsic doings during bizarre travels about the face of the earth in recent years. A monk here. Experimental theater there. Observations on a world in waking sleep. There even is talk of a chamber of reflection in the woods followed by a ritual raising. Wally Shawn counters with rhapsody for simple domesticity: a coffee, a book, quietude with his girlfriend.

They would appear to be irreconcilable.

The film has the feel of improvisation, but in fact it was scripted meticulously. (Best Screenplay of 1982, BSFC.) The photography is scientific—you may catch yourself absentmindedly fiddling with the white tablecloth while listening. The restaurant actually was a set constructed inside a defunct hotel in Richmond, Virginia, but the orbiting waiter (Jean Lenauer), cadaverous and imposing, is a wry detail viewers of a certain age will smile at.

Oh, and music by Satie!

One year after the film’s release, critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, conversationalists themselves, asked the actors what in retrospect, if anything, they would do differently. We’d trade places, they answered.

Friday, June 4, 2021

‘Amity publishes The Acacia Book’

Courtesy Amity

The brethren behind Amity, the mobile app that helps sojourning Freemasons wherever dispersed about the face of the earth find regular lodges—and helps lodges identify worthy and well qualified Masons—have published The Acacia Book.

Think of it as the successor to Pantagraph’s old school (and typically out of date) List of Lodges Masonic. They say bulk shipments to grand lodges are imminent and copies for individual sales will be made available.

“New features” are promised too. We’ll find out soon.

There’s a lot to Amity. Plenty to read: Short Talk Bulletins and more too.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

‘Those are different Veiled Prophets!’

Princeton University
Ellie Kemper
Amid the flotsam of “news media” this morning is the non-story of how a fairly obscure and innocuous actress had been an honoree at a debutante ball more than twenty years ago.

The organization that hosted the ball is named the Veiled Prophets. For reasons not explained in any of the “reportage” that I’ve seen so far, the group is being called racist. In the depravity of social media, it is likened to the Klan, etc.

Search Ellie Kemper, and you’ll see what I mean.

Whatever these Veiled Prophets are, they are not associated with Freemasonry’s lovable Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm, also known as the Grotto. This other group is local to St. Louis and predates our Grotto by a decade or more.

‘Don’t be like Joey Ramone!’


I never imagined these words could pass my lips, but, for this one time, in this unique context, never to be repeated:

Don’t be like Joey Ramone!

Instead, join me in my travels this month to the research lodges in the general area.

New Jersey Lodge
of Masonic Research
and Education 1786
Saturday, June 12
9:30 a.m.

The lodge will allow me some time to speak from the lectern about the Masonic Society. Real research papers are on the agenda also. Then, we will retire downstairs to watch the first half of Terra Masonica. Then, we’ll enjoy a picnic feast to send us into the summer refreshment.

At Hightstown-Apollo Lodge 41 (535 North Main Street) in Hightstown.

Lodge of Research
Saturday, June 26
10 a.m.

Installation of Officers: My old friend, Senior Warden Yasser Al-Khatib, to be seated in the Solomonic chair. Other old friend Moises Gomez to present his paper “Freemasonry in Cuba.”

At Fritz Lodge 308 (1801 Fayette Street) in Conshohocken.

The American
Lodge of Research
Tuesday, June 29
8 p.m.

Finally something close to home: I think this will be The ALR’s first meeting in several years, and it’ll be the Installation of Officers. I’m told a new leadership team is being chosen to get this historic institution back to labor.

Inside the Colonial Room of palatial Masonic Hall in beleaguered New York City.

And, the following night, live from Maryland Lodge of Masonic Research 239:

Click to enlarge.