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Don’t sit alone in the dark – where to go for your Freemasonry fix

April 20, 2020 3 comments

As the social distancing and self-quarantines stretch on, Freemasons are feeling the itch to get out and have some fellowship with their brothers. While not quite the same as sitting around a table and chatting over coffee or an aqua vitae, many Freemasons have already found a way to indulge in discussion with like-minded brethren — not just from their lodge, but from around the state, and even around the world.

For those who haven’t done more than share pictures of their dinner or grandkids on Facebook, the social media giant has dozens of groups for Masonic discussion, both informal and educational. Some of the larger ones are:

The Winding Stairs Freemasonry Group: One of the fastest growing Masonic groups, with over 20,000 members (not all online at once), this moderated group has a wide mix of educational articles, questions from new and old Masons, some humor, and general information.

Masonic World Wide: A large, established group with a large percentage of members from across the pond. While mainly a chat group, one will find a lot of fascinating information here.

Freemasons Page: One of the largest and oldest Facebook groups, there’s something here for everyone. Chat, education, articles of interest, and plenty of humor to lighten the mood.

Freemasonry is not confined to just Facebook; Reddit, one of the largest online news sharing and social groups has a club (known as a subreddit) for every interest, including Freemasonry.

The Reddit Freemasonry group (http://reddit.com/r/freemasonry) is one of the largest active online groups outside of Facebook, and has dozens of discussions going at any time.

The Lodgeroom UK (http://lodgeroomuk.com/forumphpBB/index.php) One of the oldest web forum based groups, and not limited to UK Freemasonry.

Those hoping for a more “live” online experience can join the Freemasonry group on Discord, a popular chat and messaging app. Those of you with a Discord account can find it at: https://discordapp.com/invite/fezFP88

For those of you who would prefer to listen to some background discussion instead the news, there are some fantastic podcasts by Masons, covering a wide range of topics of interest. Some of the best known are:

The Masonic Roundtable: (http://themasonicroundtable.com) A group of Freemasons running a weekly podcast, with guests, Masonic news, and some good natured banter.

Masonic Lite (https://www.masoniclite.com): Inspired by The Masonic Roundtable, a decidedly lighter flavored group of guys, just sitting around and talking about anything with a Masonic spin.

Whence Came You? (https://wcypodcast.com/) A more educational podcast, with a wide range of topics, presented by different speakers.

The Craftsmen Podcast (http://www.thecraftsmenpodcast.com) A monthly podcast discussing “… the nuances of the Scottish Rite, humor of the York Rite, and all things Masonic, except for the secret handshakes. Sometimes we even share our favorite recipes,”

Occult of Personality (http://occultofpersonality.net) With a focus on authenticity, accuracy, and quality, Occult of Personality peers behind the veil to provide recorded interviews with serious esoteric practitioners, scholars, and teachers from all over the world.

Finally, for those of you who would rather relax with some reading material, there are still some excellent blogs online.

The Midnight Freemasons (http://www.midnightfreemasons.org/) Topics of interest from a variety of authors.

The One Minute Mason (http://oneminutemason.blogspot.com/) Short essays on various topics.

Freemasons Are Us (https://freemasonsareus.wordpress.com/) Mainly historical topics about the development of Freemasonry.

The Traveling Templar (https://www.travelingtemplar.com/) A variety of history, information, and personal blogging.

Noble Science, Royal Art (https://noblescienceroyalart.wordpress.com/) Essays on various Masonic themes.

Addendum: For the latest in up-to-date Masonic news, don’t forget to put Chris Hodapp’s  Freemasons for Dummies blog (https://freemasonsfordummies.blogspot.com/) on your reading list.

A list of other blogs, podcasts, and further online resources can be found at:

Ashlars to Ashes (http://ashlars-ashes.blogspot.com/)

 

 

 

 

 

Connecticut beats the virus by going virtual

April 1, 2020 3 comments

According to an upcoming article in The Connecticut Freemasons Magazine, the Grand Lodge of Connecticut will be the first US Grand Lodge to charter an all-internet based lodge. According to the article by editor RW Frank Way:

While there have been a few other lodges calling themselves an “internet lodge,” none of them have actually been constituted as internet only, or “virtual” lodges; most of them are what I’d call hybrid lodges. The UGLE has Internet Lodge No. 9659, but the members belong to other lodges, and the lodge itself is not allowed to confer the degrees. Besides, they actually meet three or four times a year in a physical building.  Likewise, Ireland’s Lodge 2000 is also a hyrbrid, meeting quarterly in a building, and without the ability to confer degrees.  On this side of the pond, a couple of states have attempted to start some kind of internet lodge, but none of them have been actual lodges, in the sense that they can meet, confer degrees, and have regular communications. In fact, I can’t think of any offhand that are even still operating.

The most successful attempt at an online, virtual lodge has come, surprisingly, from our neighbor to the north. Well, considering that it is based in, and chartered by the Grand Lodge of Manitoba, maybe it’s not so surprising; as anyone who has ever driven through the area can attest, there’s nothing out there except frozen tundra, except for maybe two months in the summer, when there are nothing but mosquitoes and biting horse flies. That aside, Castle Island Virtual Lodge, CIVL (or “Civil,” as it’s known among the various internet groups) is mainly a research lodge, although it is allowed to confer the degrees if they can do so in a building.

CIVL about the closest any Grand Lodge has come to an actual lodge that meets only on the internet, until now.

Owing to advances in internet meeting technology which weren’t even on the horizon five years ago, the Grand Lodge of Connecticut has given dispensation for a new, entirely internet based lodge. Operating out of the town of Southington, with the officers and most members coming out of the Fifth Masonic District, the Farmington Valley Virtual Lodge (UD). FVVL (or Favvil, as the members call it) will be a fully functioning Masonic lodge, using state of the art meeting technology, and the officers will have the ability to confer degrees to online candidates.

While a virtual lodge for the state has been in the works for some time, the recent COVID virus pandemic has obviously made an impact on garnering the approval of the Grand Lodge, which has cancelled its own annual communication, and has ordered the brick and mortar lodges to suspend their own communications for the foreseeable future. The Grand Lodge sees FVVL as the first of a number of virtual lodges that will be instituted around the state (“around” being merely a term of availability, instead of location).

With the possibility of the pandemic causing a closure of public meetings running into the next few months, it’s quite likely that most of the lodges in the state will remain dark throughout the summer month and not re-open until September. We are hoping that the success of FVVL will quickly lead to more such lodges opening in Connecticut by the end of the year. Then we will truly be able to have fellowship with other brothers in the privacy and safety of our own homes.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Freemasonry

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Categories: Freemasonry

Grand Lodge of California drops recognition of Grand Lodge of Connecticut over ring decision

April 1, 2019 6 comments

Most of you will remember that early in February, Connecticut Freemasons woke up to discover that there now is actually a correct answer to the age-old question of which way to wear one’s ring. The Grand Lodge, tired of the endless debates on Facebook, instructed their DDGMs to quietly “correct” members during their lodge visits so that sitting and past Masters would wear theirs with the points facing out, and those who had never made a trip to the East would have to wear theirs with the points in. The decision was made so that it could be announced and confirmed at the next Grand Lodge annual communication.

Even though the directive is being kept quiet for now, it’s been all over the various Facebook groups, because Freemasons are famous for not being able to keep secrets – so obviously, none of this comes as any surprise.

Now, while the Connecticut Grand Lodge decision is an open secret, it hasn’t been met without some resistance. Naturally there were the usual complainers on the various internet groups in which this was discussed, and several podcasters had some snide comments. However, nobody expected the reaction from the Grand Lodge of California last month:

Whereas the Grand Lodge of Connecticut has cast aside the time immemorial traditions of Freemasons with regard to the correct disposition of the wearing of one’s Masonic ring, and,

Whereas the Grand Lodge of Connecticut has forced upon their members an unnatural and specious decision with regard to the aforementioned,

Be it known that the Grand Lodge of California now holds the Grand Lodge of Connecticut to be in violation of the Ancient Landmarks of the Fraternity, and is now an unrecognized body, and will remain as such until they and their regulations comply with the Landmarks and customs of our order.

Knowing the Grand Lodge of California to be a fairly liberal and progressive minded group, many West Coast Freemasons have expressed surprise that the Grand Lodge has taken such a hard line stance on what is essentially an unenforceable decision that would probably have been rescinded in a year or two. However, others have noted that the Grand Lodge has taken up social justice causes in the past; for example, California no longer uses the term “clandestine” to describe unrecognized lodges or Grand Lodges.

Worse, rumors about the potential dropping of recognition made for tense moments at the Conference of Grand Masters of North America (COGNMA) in February, as many officers from different states quietly aligned, siding with either Connecticut or California.

It is written someplace that “Freemasonry is a progressive science,” but the term was not meant to be used in the modern, political connotation, and it’s unfortunate to see such schisms in our midst. However, we should also keep in mind that much of what we take for granted now were once considered changes, alterations, and deviations from ancient craft masonry.

While no other Grand Lodges have (at this time) indicated that they intend to follow California, traveling men headed to Connecticut should just be aware that some brothers may be paying closer attention to your ring.

In the meanwhile, I’m hopeful that this will blow over, like so many other Freemason fads, and that we can get back to discussing important issues, such as whether it’s better to wear one’s apron under or over one’s jacket.

Categories: Freemasonry, Rings

Grand Lodges need to respond to potential new threat

April 1, 2018 Leave a comment

Most of you are probably aware that the social media world has been rocked by the news that Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and Google have been secretly recording our voices and using that information to sell to digital marketers who then buy advertising from those large online companies. Ever notice how you’re talking to your coworker about a particular product, and the next day you start seeing ads for that product on Facebook? It’s not a coincidence.

And have you ever thought about why Google gives away Gmail, or why Microsoft gives away Hotmail or Outlook mail? It’s to scan your emails and to sell advertising. Those of us who are familiar with the process have taken this kind of marketing for granted, and it’s just something that runs in the background. However, recently Freemasons around the US, UK, and Canada have noticed a disturbing development: Over the last year or so, many newer officers have been been seeing ads for architectural tools and building products popping up on Facebook and Google feeds. While some found it amusing at first, discussions about this have led us to believe that smartphones have been listening in while officers have been rehearsing their lines; the repetition seems to have indicated to the marketing companies that the officers have an interest in buying trowels, bags of cement, floor tile, or decorative columns.

Word filtered up to some of the more progressive Grand Lodges, and most of them are already in the process of writing up regulations that will affect many of those who are reading this.

In the near — very near — future, you can expect your Grand Lodge to ask you to turn off not only your smartphone (i.e., iPhone or Android), but also your Amazon Echo, or your Google Assistant, or your Apple Siri assistant while rehearsing your lines. Yes, those innocuous little devices all over your household that let you set timers, play music, and switch on your lights work by setting aside a small amount of memory to record your voice. The concern among Grand Lodges right now is that Alexa or Siri has been quietly collecting the ritual from various jurisdictions, and that hackers are already compiling what they have into a digital volume or ebook that they will be able to sell — a modern version of Duncan’s Ritual, if you will.

If you have these devices from Amazon, Apple, or Google, then you need to be aware that you essentially have electronic cowans and eavesdroppers right in your kitchens, offices, and bedrooms. Yes, we all know the joke that the wife or children of a typical Mason knows the work because they keep hearing the guy talking to himself (usually in the bathroom). But this is different: Alexa or Siri is actually recording what you are saying. and Google can match up what you are saying with some of the works that are already all over the internet. In fact, if you are using Google Assistant on your Android phone, it could probably even correct or prompt you as you’re rehearsing.

And if you are in a jurisdiction in which the Grand Officers still use their old flip phones, and aren’t aware of the 21st century technology, I urge you to contact them as soon as possible, and make them understand that this will be an issue in the coming years. If Facebook and Google executives admit to putting tape over their laptop cameras, shouldn’t we be as diligent in tyling our own doors?

 

 

 

 

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