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Darkness Falls

June 24, 2016 2 comments

This being St. John’s Day, I thought it appropriate to mention a few things.

First, this is typically the time that lodges in the Northeast US “go dark” for the summer. Now, there’s some disagreement on whether the expression “to go dark” should be used in this case, since the lodges will reopen for business in a few months. Some old-timers associate the expression to mean that a lodge turns in their charter and closes for good. If the lodge still has a charter and officers, then there’s some “light” available, and the lodge can not be totally dark. That said, I’ve noticed that the expression is so widely used, that even if it may be wrong, it’s not going to make a difference because everybody will be using it anyhow. You know, similar to the expression “I could care less;” it’s obviously wrong, but the usage is so widespread that nobody even thinks about it anymore.

Irregardless*, many of my friends in other parts of the US and UK have asked why we close at all during the summer. I’ve been told (although without any substantiating evidence) that it was the farmers needed the time off to tend their fields. Now, I grew up in rural parts of Connecticut, and while I claim no experience or expertise in this subject, I’m beginning to question if indeed, the farmers actually needed this time. As I drive past fields and pastures, I don’t see very much activity going on in July and August. In fact, the few local farm stores I pass are either closed or selling produce that obviously didn’t come from their fields. Do the crops need tending? Of course they do, but is there anything more labor intensive that happens during the hot months?For that matter, a quick perusal of the area Grange chapters seems to show that they are open during the summer. You’d think that if the professional farmers could manage to till the weeds (or whatever it is that they do) and get to a monthly Grange meeting, then the suburban Freemasons could manage a night off.

Hopefully some more agriculturally educated brothers can enlighten us.

It’s interesting to note that historians are also not in agreement on when the longer summer vacation for schoolchildren started. Again, while we are told that it was to help with the farming, historians of the Colonial period in the US tell us otherwise. tmtlampoonsvacation2

My own theory on this is that most lodges in the Northeast US were formed after the Industrial Revolution, and in the days before air conditioning and wine coolers, most of the members simply didn’t want to bother scheduling meetings when the children were out of school. Family trips, beach days, and other vacation days simply made it too difficult to get all of the members at a meeting; better to just not have them for a couple of months, and pick things up in September.

Something else of note is that this marks the week that The Tao of Masonry web log was first published in 2006. Initially started as a way to track events and keep people informed during my year as Master of Friendship Lodge No. 33, I turned it into a public sideshow for my ego collection of my thoughts on Freemasonry. The early to mid-2000s was probably the Golden Age of blogging, and I’ve listed several hundred blogs by Masons either on the blogroll or on my RSS feeds. While blogging is still a thing (as evidenced by the number of excellent bloggers listed on the Ashlars to Ashes aggregate), it’s also a little sad that most of those blogs from the early years have “gone dark” themselves. I think that  the Dummy Chris Hodapp, and Millennial Nick Johnson may be the only other Golden Age bloggers still regularly writing.

Since it’s my 10th bloggiversary year, I’m including some links to a couple of old posts from that time. And enjoy your summer, whether it’s light or dark.

Not a dry eye in the house.

Masonspotting: You’re doing it wrong.

WWHD?

But what was Plan A?

Cui Bono?

Who’s in charge, anyway?

 

* Irregardless. It’s a perfectly cromulent word.

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The pot calling the kettle black: Part 3

March 25, 2016 8 comments

Note: This is the third of a three-part article from a brother who wishes to remain anonymous. The online discussions of the past few weeks prompted him to write about his experiences, and what he would do if it were in his power to promote changes.

I saw some of his writing elsewhere, and asked if I could use some of his ideas; he responded by filling in some details and presenting what you see here. While I don’t necessarily agree with him on all points, he does make an interesting case for why Grand Lodges should remove recognition from those states that do not practice what the membership believes to be the higher ideals of our society. I’m presenting this as some food for thought.

Part 1 is here
Part 2 is here

 

The chief argument that I have made in the preceding parts of this article is that racism and homophobia are not limited to the Grand Lodge of Georgia and Tennessee. Instead, I am of the opinion that racism and homophobia are present throughout the Craft and must be addressed with comprehensive and meaningful solutions provided by the various Grand Lodges.

This article originated due to the fact that there have been several posts on social media sites applauding the letters condemning the policies against homosexuals and African Americans in Georgia and Tennessee. While these letters represent a step in the right direction, they carry very little weight in terms of their ability to effect change within the fraternity. The position more or less taken by a few Grand Lodges largely amounts to, “While we condemn the actions of the Grand Lodge of Georgia and Tennessee, they are entitled to their opinion, but in our jurisdiction we welcome homosexual Brethren.”

To that I reply, “Awesome, but what about Brother Clark and his husband? They will not be permitted to visit your Lodges anytime soon because they were wrongly expelled from the fraternity.”

Furthermore, I would reply, “Tremendous! Surely, however, there is another homosexual Brother in Georgia or Tennessee who will have to conceal their life from a Brother for fear of prosecution and persecution. When they are charged and this whole process repeats itself in the eyes of the public how is the Craft going to look then? Are we going to have our spokesman Brother Chris Hodapp rush to our aid to grant more interviews in which he says, ‘Well, the decision is up to the Grand Lodge, but this type of behavior is considered repugnant by the vast majority of Freemasons?’”

Moreover, I would reply, “Excellent. Now, what exactly will happen when another Grand Lodge decides to follow the example of Georgia and Tennessee because they know that the only consequence is a stern letter from three Grand Lodges and the Scottish Rite? More stern letters?” If that happens, heaven forbid, then we are going to have a lot more to worry about than a black eye.

If you do not think the damage has been done in the fraternity, I can point to a 38 year old Past Master in Georgia who is demitting because of the action his Grand Lodge took. I can point to a number of worthy candidates who will never file a petition because our reputation has been tarnished. I can also point to a more recent situation where I visited a Lodge and an Entered Apprentice refused to go forward with his work because of what happened. Brethren, this is not a Georgia problem, this is not a Tennessee problem, this is a problem that will have ramifications across the Masonic world and the best that we have come up with is, “Well, the Grand Lodges have the authority to make those decisions, we cannot question that authority, but we can assure you that our Grand Lodge will not make a similar decision.”

Spare me. Spare us. Our fraternity is far better than that and we should expect more from it.

In fact, I am going to propose a far more meaningful and comprehensive response to what has occurred than what our Grand Lodges have offered. My response is one that makes it clear, in no uncertain terms, that there will be consequences if a Grand Lodge or any other Masonic body for that matter decides to engage in racism, prejudice, or homophobia. Brethren, the truth of the matter is that actions speak louder than words and the time has come to take action.

With that said, here is what I would have done if I were the Right Worshipful Grand Master of Pennsylvania.

  1. Issue an edict reforming the Masonic judicial process.

As I mentioned in the last part of this article , there are barriers that prevent Freemasons from being able to address the issue of unmasonic conduct. As the Right Worshipful Grand Master, I would eliminate those barriers in multiple ways.

First and foremost, all black balls would be able to be appealed to a panel of three District Deputy Grand Masters anonymously if there were suspicions as to why they were cast. The appeal would require the showing of cause as to why an individual believed that a black ball was unfairly cast. Upon receiving the appeal, a District Deputy would inform the Worshipful Master of it and give them 30 days to make their case. Abstract explanations as to why a vote was cast will not be sufficient. Instead, there must be a valid reason such as a criminal record or other hard proof that the person is unfit to join the fraternity. The District Deputies would then investigate the claims and if well founded would uphold the vote and the petitioner would be rejected. If, on the other hand, there is no evidence to support the casting of a black ball, then the District Deputies would have the power and authority to overturn the vote of the Blue Lodge, expunge the record of the vote, and order that the petitioner be initiated by a simple majority vote of the three. Furthermore, the petitioner would be given the status of Candidate at Large and have the option of pursuing membership at another Lodge. If the candidate chose to do so, then the Blue Lodge that they petitioned would have to turn over the initiation fee to the petitioner’s Lodge of choice and it would be credited toward their initiation fee and dues.

Second, ANY member would be permitted to bring charges against ANY other Lodge or member anonymously on the basis of racial, prejudicial, or homophobic conduct. The charges would be filed with the District Deputy who may assign any member of his district to visit the Lodge and investigate the claims. If the claims are verified, then the District Deputy will either have the power to bring charges against the individual or the entire Lodge depending on the nature of the infraction. If racism, prejudice, or homophobia is found to be systemic within the Lodge and the Lodge is convicted, the District Deputy Grand Master under the authority of the Right Worshipful Grand Master would have the power to confiscate the Charter of the Lodge. Furthermore, every member that participated in such conduct would be subject to expulsion from the fraternity upon conviction.

Third, in terms of discovery, the District Deputy would have to produce the statements made by the anonymous Brother and his investigator. The Lodge and member would reserve the right to serve interrogatories through the District Deputy in order to confront their accuser. The accuser must respond to the interrogatories within 30 days and they must be served upon the Defendant.

Fourth, all decisions made by the District Deputies may be appealed to the Right Worshipful Grand Master.

  1. Grand Lodges that engage in homophobic or racist conduct will no longer have fraternal ties with the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania

As the Right Worshipful Grand Master of Pennsylvania, it is not enough for me to write a letter condemning racist, prejudicial, or homophobic conduct. Instead, I have a duty and a responsibility to lead by example within the Masonic world.

The first thing that I would do is issue an edict prohibiting Masons from the Grand Lodge of Georgia and the Grand Lodge of Tennessee from visiting Blue Lodges under my jurisdiction effective immediately based on the decisions made by their Lodges that reflect poorly on the Craft.

Next, I would propose that the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania sever fraternal ties with the Grand Lodge of Georgia and the Grand Lodge of Tennessee until the edicts are reversed, until they pass legislation that bringing charges of unmasonic conduct on the basis of race, religion, and sexual orientation are strictly prohibited, publicly disavow their current position, expunge and dismiss any and all cases that have been brought against any Brethren on the basis of race, sexual orientation, or religious belief, and reinstate the Brethren that have been expelled and grant them life membership.

  1. Proposing to bring back the Masonic Jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging and issuing an edict waiving residency requirements for Brethren who have been the victims of racial, homophobic, and religious policies, and declaring any and all decisions rendered against those Brethren by their respective Grand Lodges void and unenforceable within my jurisdiction.

One of the peculiarities of the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania is that the full title of the Grand Lodge is The Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons in Pennsylvania and Masonic Jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging. While the official title of the Grand Lodge is a mouthful, many people wonder what Masonic Jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging means.

Masonic Jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging means that Lodges affiliated with the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania extended beyond its borders at one point in history. In fact, the Grand Lodge had chartered Lodges in the Dominican Republic, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, South Carolina, and most notably for our present purposes Georgia. In fact, the website for the Grand Lodge of Georgia notes that a Lodge known as Hiram Lodge #42 was Chartered by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania on the basis that they disapproved of the work being done by Solomon’s Lodge #1 in Savannah.

Furthermore, one of the unique things about the Right Worshipful Grand Master of Pennsylvania is that he can unilaterally issue edicts without putting them to a vote and his edict is absolute. In a book titled The Exemplar, Right Worshipful Past Grand Master Carpenter states, “It may be of great interest for Pennsylvania Freemasons to know that the inherent powers of the Right Worshipful Grand Master are unequaled throughout the Masonic World. There is no appeal of the decisions or actions of the Right Worshipful Grand Master of Pennsylvania. It has been stated many times that his power is frightening.”

Given the power that I would have as Right Worshipful Grand Master and historic precedent, I would propose that we bring back the tradition of the Masonic Jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging. If the vote were approved at a meeting of the Grand Lodge, then I would immediately issue an edict stating that any Blue Lodge in Georgia or Tennessee that disagreed with the edicts of the Grand Lodge of Georgia or Tennessee could surrender their charter to me and would immediately be granted a new Charter under the jurisdiction of the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania provided that they adopted legislation that bringing charges of unmasonic conduct on the basis of race, religion, and sexual orientation are strictly prohibited, publicly disavow their current position, expunge and dismiss any and all cases that have been brought against any Brethren on the basis of race, sexual orientation, or religious belief and would be entitled to keep their ritual and customs which are distinct from those in Pennsylvania. Alternatively, if they did not wish to be affiliated with the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and wished to form an independent Grand Lodges, then their Grand Lodges would be immediately recognized by the Grand Lodge upon declaring their existence and would receive whatever aid was necessary from the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in order to form provided that similar legislation was passed at the inception of the new Grand Lodges.

Furthermore, I would use my power of making a Mason at Sight to admit any Brother who was a victim of racial, homophobic, or religious misconduct leading to their expulsion, their records would be immediately cleared, the residency requirement to join the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania would be waived, and they would be permitted to join effective immediately free of charge and until their Grand Lodges removed the obstacles to their membership and rescinded their policies.

Conclusion

As one can see, my policies are very broad and truly make a statement that racism, homophobia, and prejudice will not be tolerated by the Craft. On a local level, I provide the mechanisms necessary in order for investigations to occur, charges to be brought, and the barriers to be broken down that prevent unmasonic conduct from being reported. On the Grand Lodge level, I would use the power vested in me to give other Grand Lodges the courage to stand up to the policies of the Grand Lodge of Georgia and Tennessee while aiding and assisting Brethren who were victims of those policies.

Under my edicts, my Grand Lodge would not issue a letter simply condemning racism and prejudice. My Grand Lodge would begin the process of isolating Georgia and Tennessee from the rest of the Masonic world because of the inherently unmasonic decisions that they have rendered. When their Blue Lodges either joined my Grand Lodge or formed their own Grand Lodges that would receive immediate recognition, they would know that they had a true Masonic friend in Pennsylvania that upheld the virtues and principles of equality in the fraternity above all else.

Instead of the public seeing little action, they would see a precedent set that if you tarnish the reputation of the fraternity with racist or homophobic edicts, then there is a price to pay in the form of severe consequences. Those consequences would not only be severe enough to make every Mason within my jurisdiction think twice about engaging in racial, homophobic, or prejudicial conduct, but they would have a devastating impact on Grand Lodges who engaged in such conduct.

If other Grand Lodges followed my example, then Georgia and Tennessee would have no choice but to reverse their edicts and overturn the convictions that have been entered against Brethren on the basis of race, religion, and sexual orientation due to the sheer amount of pressure exerted on them. Moreover, we would not have to throw in the towel and say, “Well, there is not much we can do about it,” when we face the media. Additionally, no other jurisdiction would even consider enacting such policies by the time it was said and done because they know that my jurisdiction will act against it. If we responded with edicts and actions similar to the ones proposed, then the discussions that we are having about Georgia and Tennessee would not be concerned with how they are tarnishing the reputation of the fraternity. Instead, we would be enhancing the reputation of the fraternity by taking a firm stand that inequality does not have a place in a Blue Lodge or any Grand Lodge. Simply put, if we do not take action, then the public sees us as being just as much a part of the problem.

I have chosen to remain anonymous owing to the fact that I no longer live in Pennsylvania. Instead, I now live in one of the jurisdictions that have passed the edict against homosexuals. Although I am saddened by the fact that no Grand Lodge has chosen to act, I fully intend on joining a Lodge in this jurisdiction, making my way to the East, and gaining the ability to vote against the current policies of the Grand Lodge. I fear that if my identity is exposed that I will have problems joining a local Lodge with the hope of making positive change. I hope, however, that my series of articles will cause you to see the problem of inequality within the Craft, that you will demand that action be taken within your respective Grand Lodges, and become an active part of making a change within the fraternity that live up to our ideals of equality within our ranks.

 

 

there is a reaction

March 16, 2016 10 comments

GL-TN-Response

The Grand Lodge of Tennessee, the other major player in the situation currently unfolding in US Freemasonry, issued their response to the suspension of fraternal relations by the Grand Lodges of California, and of Washington DC.

It might be cynical thinking on my part that instead of posting these as they come, I should have a page that has the list and we could keep adding to it.

 

Shots fired! GL CA suspends recognition with GA and TN

March 8, 2016 244 comments

From a Facebook post this morning:

By letter of March 7, 2016, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of California has suspended recognition of the Grand Lodges Georgia and Tennessee until the next regular communication of the Grand Lodge of California.

Verification and more developments to follow.

Edit 1: The text of the email, which went out to lodge officers yesterday:

M. DAVID PERRY
GRAND MASTER
GRAND LODGE
FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS
OF CALIFORNIA
CALIFORNIA MASONIC MEMORIAL TEMPLE
1111 CALIFORNIA STREET
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94108

WWW.FREEMASON.ORG

Via electronic mail

March 7, 2016

To all Grand Lodges in amity with the Grand Lodge of California:

You might have read of recent events in Georgia and Tennessee where the Grand Lodges
there have adopted new rules or enforced existing rules to discipline Masons because of their
sexual orientation.

The Grand Lodge of Georgia ratified Grand Master McDonald’s Edict No. 2015-4 at the last
Annual Communication of their Grand Lodge, thereby adding the following language to their
Grand Lodge law: homosexual activity with anyone subjects the offender to discipline.
The Grand Lodge of Tennessee recently suspended two brothers from Masonry for violating
a provision of the Tennessee Masonic Code when they posted photographs of their wedding to
each other on Facebook. The Tennessee Masonic Code states that it is a Masonic offense to
promote or engage in homosexual activity.

In each case, I construe these actions as a sectarian stand which is inconsistent with and does
not support the General Regulations of Freemasonry. I have therefore suspended
recognition of The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Georgia and the
Grand Lodge of Tennessee F. & A. M. until the next Annual Communication of our Grand
Lodge.

I am happy to share with you further details about my decision, if you so desire.

Sincerely and fraternally,
M. DAVID PERRY
Grand Master

 

Edit 2: Chris Hodapp has confirmation that the Grand Lodge of DC has likewise suspended recognition. I think that MW Bro. Fuller’s words sum things up nicely:

“On a personal note, as an ordained Christian minister who holds deep religious convictions, I find the actions of these Grand Lodges all the more troublesome. Many faiths, including my own denomination of Christianity, are divided on several social and moral issues, yet it is our duty as Masons to ensure these disagreements do not spill over into our fraternity and sow disharmony.

“In closing, let me reiterate the words of my predecessor and approved by our entire Grand Lodge: we are open to all men of faith based upon their personal merit and good character, without reference to race, creed, sexual orientation, specific religion or national origin.

“I hope, pray, and trust that the hand of providence and the light of wisdom will guide our fraternity to a swift resolution to this unfortunate matter.”

 

 

The Grey Area

July 7, 2015 Leave a comment

Since everybody else is all gaga about some kind of proposed TV series about Freemasons that’s been going around lately, I figured I’d try my own hand at marketing a Freemason-themed movie based on the idea of a script from a book I haven’t written, for which I got the idea by lurking at fanfic groups.

Here’s the pitch:

A new Mason looks to the Worshipful Master of his lodge for some guidance, and ends up being asked to become a Steward – which compels him to spend his time cleaning and cooking, after which he is slowly coerced into memorizing lectures. Before he’s even aware of what’s happening, he is seduced into taking committee positions, running picnics, and planning lodge events, while the Master and other lodge members become more and more demanding of his time and energy.

The story continues following him over the next several years as he makes his way through the officer’s line and eventually becomes the Master of the lodge – during which time he mentors a new Mason by asking him to take on some simple duties…

I’m going to pitch this book idea, so I don’t want any of you people stealing this, okay? I’m going to call it:

Fifty Shades of Freemasonry.

How most Masons spend their first couple of years at their lodge.

I’m hoping to get enough donations so after I finally write the book, and then script, and then get the movie deal, we can shoot on location at such exotic places as Podunk, Connecticut.

 

Back (ward?) to the Future

November 6, 2014 7 comments

Several contentious years of Grand Lodge politics have culminated in an unprecedented (in Connecticut, anyway) upheaval in which the progressive Grand Line officers were voted out and replaced by a new line of elected officers.  The hotly contested elections (reportedly needing four votings to arrive at a majority) ended with the election of two Past Grand Masters and the re-instatement of a former Grand Line officer. The future of the Grand Line officers appointed during the past year is uncertain, as is the standings of the dozen or so Grand Lodge committees.

Edit: At the time of publication, several of the appointed GL officers appear to have resigned, as have several District officers.

In the time-honored tradition of keeping Masonic news as dry as possible, that would almost seem to be the entire story. Indeed, the only thing that would appear to be missing at this point would be a picture of MW Simon LaPlace presenting a gavel to our new Grand Master MW Tom Maxwell as both of them grin into the camera. Unfortunately, that is not the situation.

Leaving aside the rumors of collusion and conspiracy (on all sides) that have strained the patience of Connecticut Masons for the last couple of years, the situation at hand seems to be that a number of members, unsatisfied with the changes (both made and proposed) in Connecticut Masonry, managed to convince enough of their brothers that the changes were damaging to our organization, and that the only remedy would be to remove the current elected officers and to replace them with those who had a different vision.

This, of course, is the purpose of a democratic system, and it’s good to see that Freemasons remembered how it works.  Sometimes the good intentions behind having a “progressive line” in most US states leads to stale, if not undesirable Grand Lodge policies. At a time in which our membership is continuing to decrease and our societal culture moves away from joining groups, the remaining members have often been slow to react or have been unwilling to make changes that would attract or retain new members. In the US, this has led to Grand Masters with little or no vision, or Grand Lodge policies or programs that have little relevance to the needs or desires of the younger members that are joining the ranks. The events last week in Connecticut will hopefully serve as an example to Grand Lodges elsewhere around the US that members of the Craft can – and will – take the necessary steps to get the kind of leadership that they want.

That said, there is something symbolical about the recent overturning of the Grand Line that has many Connecticut Freemasons concerned: Does the election of older Past Grand Masters, who served respectively 18 and 25 years ago, mean that we could not find anyone younger, or more attuned to the needs of the latest generation of Masons? Or does it mean that our vision of Masonry for the state looks more like the 1970s instead of the 2020s, and that our desire for the coming years is actually just a reboot of something from the past?

Personally speaking, I share these concerns. I became a Mason in 2001, just before the DaVinci Code and Nick Cage movies were reigniting an interest in Freemasonry. Back then, many Grand Lodges still did not even have a website, let alone electronic contact information, PDF Trestleboards, or online committee meetings. Connecticut Masons have been fortunate that Grand Lodge officers from the previous several years have been forward-thinking, and willing to adopt new methods. More importantly, some of them have been willing to take on the difficult task of changing the culture of our organization. For example, we have nine Masonic districts in Connecticut, ostensibly to correspond with the train system that was extant in the early 1900s. With nine Grand Lodge officers, we have had a century of a progressive line, one officer from each district, with a new one appointed every nine years from the outgoing Grand Master’s district. The last two years saw a change in the district structure, and with it, a different way of choosing new officers. Changes like this are huge in Masonic terms, and it would be easy to believe that the voting reflects a reactionary attitude from members who object to these and other kinds of alterations (or “innovations,” if you will) in the organization.

A reactionary mindset among the members raises other concerns for the future of our fraternity, mainly that younger or more progressive minded members will no longer desire to work toward improvements, or even to aspire to a Grand Lodge or District position if it means constantly butting heads with the old guard. Ours is a volunteer organization, and most of our members are paid only in the satisfaction of a job well done; feedback in the form of being voted out of office with little or no prior warning would seem to be a disincentive for many of those who would be qualified for those positions.

Again, democracy obviously works — the recent voting was proof of that.  But we should also remember the words of Comte Joseph de Maistre: “Every democracy gets the government that they deserve.” For the sake of Freemasonry in Connecticut, let’s hope that we all have not taken a big step backwards.

 

 

In For A Penny…

January 17, 2014 3 comments

Back before I even became a member at my lodge, I can remember wondering which appendant body I should join next. The esoteric Scottish Rite — full of Morals and Dogma, and discussions of symbology, and the seemingly infinite number of degrees? Or the more traditional York Rite, to continue the Masonic lessons in the way that the early speculative Freemasons have done in the past? Oh, sure, older and wiser Masons cautioned me to wait a bit until I had a chance to settle in, but what the hell did they know?And then join the other things!

But you know how things happen. Right after I joined, I got sucked into was asked to join the officer’s line, and that turned into five years just trying to do a decent job, and I figured that after my year in the East, I’d start looking at joining something else again. But no sooner was I shunted off to the old Past Master home, when I found myself with the capacity to aggravate people in an more-or-less official capacity as a District Grand Lecturer. That became three more years of my being out several nights a week, and I really had no desire to add more meeting nights to my plate.  And then I was busy with work, and barely had time to get to Friendship a few times a month, let alone do anything else. And then my daughter was in her last year of high school, and we spent quite a bit of family time together before we would send her off to be indoctrinated college.

And then in the fall, it got too cold (and dark!) to do any bicycling in the evening after work, and I found myself  — somewhat uncharacteristically — with little to do.  So , I again pondered my choices, and after some reading, and some discussion with friends who had been there before me, I asked a brother who frequently stops in at Friendship for a petition. Naturally he had one in the car (Masons, amirite guize?); I filled it out, asked a few friends to sign off for me (fortunately the Past Grand Master just happened to be there), and turned it back in that afternoon. I got lucky, because the next meeting was in two weeks, and as it happened, the Keystone Chapter No. 27  was free enough to confer a Mark Master Mason degree.

After a few back and forth emails, I showed up at the Meriden Masonic Temple on the appointed date, and even somewhat early. We had been having a particularly frigid cold snap, and I found it amusing that the thermometer in my car said 4º when I pulled into the parking lot. I chatted with a few of the guys, and was surprised that I hadn’t actually met any of them before except for RW Bob, who was going to be acting as the RWM that evening.

The brothers are to be commended for putting together a degree on such short notice, especially since several people were sidelined by the weather. I had a surprise at the end of the evening when the Senior Grand Warden revealed that he was originally from Minnesota, and was a good friend — in real life, no less — of one of the few remaining Masonic bloggers.

While most of the guys were anxious to get home, a few of us did hang around afterward, talking about the degree and some of the history behind it. I’m looking forward to doing this again.


Meriden Masonic Temple - in the daylight.

Here’s a picture of the Masonic Temple in Meriden, CT., in which a number of lodges and chapters meet.

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