Many of you have already heard about this, but I figured it’s worth mentioning anyway: Most of the older blogs by Freemasons have been bought up by the growing internet news outlet, Masonic Newswire Media. You may not have heard of them, but you’ve probably heard of their more “public face” online news site, The Past Bastard.
Sometime in the middle of 2016, when the rest of us were too busy arguing over the US elections on Facebook, The Past Bastard — or rather, their parent company — quietly began making offers to buy up those older blogs. Many of those blogs were started between 2005 and 2010, and have been long since defunct, or not updated in several years. Those sold quickly, with the authors taking the quick $100 in Google Credits being offered; the agreement being that the authors will no longer re-open those blogs to publish anything.
The more active blogs, though, have also been slowly falling to the new publishing company; instead of buying those blogs outright (not that there are many actively writing anymore), the authors will be paid by the article, which would first need to pass vetting by The Past Bastard (or rather, their Masonic Newswire Media editors).
In my opinion, very little will change. Even the more “active” blogs (for example: The Millennial Freemason, Ars Latomorum, One Minute Mason) rarely publish more than a few times a year. Other bloggers tend to post less consequential fluff pieces (such as: All Things Masonic, Freemason Information, Midnight Freemasons). My guess is that very little will change in terms of frequency or content, and that goes also for my own little blog, which I suspect was purchased only for the name recognition.
So. Those being the facts at hand, let’s get on to the juicier stuff.
Rumors on the various internet boards are suggesting that Chris Hodapp’s Freemasons for Dummies is going to sell out as well, which is a little sad because Chris is the only other “masonic news blog” of any real note; I’m concerned that we are going to be in a situation in which all the Masonic news will be controlled by a small group of media specialists who would have little competition, and who would be able to spin Masonic news their way.
The question that I haven’t heard many people asking, though, has to do with the identity of The Past Bastard, and more importantly, the Masonic Newsire Media. Personally, I had long suspected that The Past Bastard was the work of the After Lodge Podcast guys, although it has recently come to light that at least several of The Past Bastard writers are based in California. This makes sense, because in my opinion, only people from California would imagine that old blogs are worth anything. Also, who else would have the desire to build up a new media syndicate? Computer and social media guys, that’s who.
Which brings up another question: Who is behind the Masonic Newswire Media? When I first heard about it, I figured The Onion, or Gawker, or some other online news system was just buying things up without understanding what they were getting into. But the more I think about it, I’m beginning to believe that the backers are one (or maybe several) of the larger Grand Lodges in the US. Who else would have the motivation (not to mention the finances) to control Masonic news? It’s certainly not for the advertising, as Freemasons are notoriously tight-fisted, unless it comes to scotch. Or cigars. Or rings. Or bling. Or a lot of things, with the exception of their dues.
So, that leaves us with a shadowy group of Freemasons who are trying to control the media. Is it a Grand Lodge (or more likely, a cabal of Grand Lodges), hoping to acquire enough control over the craft to sway their opinions on something? The running jokes (at least, we think that they were jokes) are that the Grand Lodge of Arkansas (which took down their own website for some time), is behind the push to control the remaining Masonic bloggers to keep any public criticisms off the internet. However, that could easily apply to a number of other Grand Lodges, some of which have published some very restrictive web and social media guidelines.
Is a group of Grand Lodges, trying to subtly push an agenda? I don’t know. All I know is that at the moment, I’m happy to take my Google Credits and start filling up my Android with some tunes from one of my favorite groups.
Published by The Tao of Masonry – A Masonic Newswire Media blog
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.
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.
Note: ‘R’-rated language and adult situations follow:
The novel begins with Robert Langdon being invited to speak at a conference in Washington by a man who will inevitably die in the first few pages. Sure enough, after arriving in the Capitol building, he discovers a gruesome murder scene laden with dense Masonic imagery and blood. Langdon then spends the next couple of pages kicking down doors and looking behind curtains, trying to find who’s fucking with him. He is pissed. “Who do you think I am, fucking Angela Lansbury?” he screams.
Still, Brown’s eye for detail and knowledge of the minutiae of famous historical sites is superb, and it immediately becomes clear he’s still a master at weaving a gripping yarn. A scene where Langdon and his companion visit the Lincoln Memorial and climb up the hollow pant leg, to discover the true Emancipation Proclamation (it’s a huge gold penis) packs more tension and interest than a dozen Nick Cage turdstravaganzas.
I won’t spoil who the true villain of the novel is (let’s just say he’s the CEO of Apple) but the antagonist who features most prominently throughout the course of the novel is a tattooed Masonic thug named Mal’akh. Throughout the novel he uses his secret Masonic powers (polishing, grout work and levitation) to stymie Langdon’s efforts at every turn.
Langdon’s romantic interest this time around is Dr. Katherine Solomon, a specialist in noetic science, which is a field I’m not even going to bother relating here. OK, I lied. It’s horseshit. Regardless of her career, like all of Langdon’s companions, her sole purpose is to ask a lot of leading questions to Langdon as they rush past important pieces of art. She’s also the descendant of King Solomon and has a map to the moon tattooed on her back–facts which may become relevant in later chapters.
The long delay in this book sparked rumors that Brown had developed a case of writer’s block. Others have less charitably suggested that, buoyed by success, Brown had developed a distaste for the formula that made him a success and was raging internally at having to write another such piece. You can see this conflict when in one early scene, a character remarks to Langdon about how much he enjoyed reading about his antics in Paris a few months ago in The Da Vinci Code. When Langdon turns his back the character makes a “jerking off” motion with his hand. Even stranger is another scene set at a cocktail party, were actor Tom Hanks meets Langdon and tells him that he likes the “cut of his jib.” Another character nearby, introduced as Ban Drown, comments: “Can you believe the sheep who keep eating up this shit?” He then shares a high five with Tom Hanks, before they drive off together in a Hummer-limo full of models.
Anybody interested in reading Chris Bucholz’s unexpurgated review can see it at the Cracked Magazine blog: A DaVinci Code Sequel Review.
I am so tired of the hype about the new Dan Brown book “The Lost Symbol,” that I have declared a “Brownout” at The Tao of Masonry this month. That’s right, I’m not going to be writing about Dan Brown or his new book for the rest of the month.
Admittedly, I didn’t write anything all summer long, but still — I’m upholding a principle.
The hype actually started back in 2006 when “The DaVinci Code” movie was released, and the rumors abounded that Brown would soon — perhaps as early as that fall — be publishing a follow-up book called “The Solomon Key.” Frankly, back then I was pretty excited. Freemasonry was getting some very public PR, and not from Freemasons themselves, nor because of some scandal. “National Treasure” was still talked about and it was looking like that dusty, old club that your grandfather used to visit a few times a month was getting a much-needed makeover. Most Freemasons waited for the next Brown book, hoping that it would continue to add to the mystique — and to draw in a few members.
Three years later, Brown is set to release the most long-awaited sequel since Thomas Harris’ “Hannibal Rising.” I’m going to avoid the temptation to compare the intriguing and complex character of Hannibal Lecter with the cardboard cutout of Robert Lang. You know why?
Because this is a No Dan Brown month at The Tao of Masonry, remember?
For weeks, Freemason bloggers and other members of the e-Mason community have been offering suggestions that our fraternity be ready for the huge tide of public interest. What are we going to tell people who ask us about Masonry? What kinds of responses will we have if Brown writes something unflattering? What will we have to offer if Brown writes something that sparks interest? Essentially, we are being told that we should turn on the porch light and bake a batch of cookies for the potential visitors — except for those who are saying that we should batten down the hatches for the potential storm.
How many movies in the last ten years had some slight reference to Freemasonry? Let’s see: Two National Treasure movies, The DaVinci Code, From Hell, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Magnolia. So, a film every couple of years, with the more recent ones are the most referential. In fact, National Treasure has more Masonic references, and arguably a much more favorable perspective than the other movies combined.
Our Grand Lodge website has been tracking the numbers of those interested enough in the Craft to ask to be contacted. If I recall correctly (and I’m sure somebody will correct me if I’m wrong), the numbers amounted to approximately one person per day.
I think that we can handle the influx of inquiries.
Look, it’s great that some groups are printing up material that brothers can use in case somebody decides to ask them about Freemasonry. But it occurred to me after last night’s Masonic Central podcast that we are expecting people to ask questions such as “What is Freemasonry” and “Why do you have those symbols?” and “Where can I get a petition?”
In my own experience as a student of human nature, I think that the questions are going to be more along the lines of “Do you really drink blood out of a human skull?” or “What’s with the goat? Do you really have some kind of demon worship?” or “Don’t you feel silly dressing in those old-fashioned costumes?” or “What’s with the secrecy? Do you guys really stick together to fix parking tickets and stuff?” or “What’s the deal with the Holy Grail, the lost Templar Treasure, and the Denver Airport?” and of course, “Why is it that when Masons turn up in books and movies, there’s always a secret plot, and people end up getting killed?”
I’m just saying that maybe some of us might be over-preparing for the wrong questions.
Driving to work this morning, I was thinking about the Masonic Central show, and about some of the questions that co-host Greg Stewart posed, which he believed would be important for Masons to think about in the face of the possible public relations stories that might come of this. He asked things like “What is Freemasonry? What do you get out of it? How does it make you a better person? What about the fraternity has kept your interest? What good things do you see it providing?”
Fellow guest Tim Bryce had a great explanation of our fraternity, almost elegant in its simplicity:
“Freemasonry is a Brotherhood of men who share common values, and who are interested in improving themselves, their community, and the world at large.”
After hearing this, it made me think that perhaps it’s more important for us, as Freemasons, to answer these questions for ourselves. Only when we know the answers to our own questions will we be able to answer — in the most positive light — the questions of the interested and curious.
I thought that the X-Files and its short-lived spin-off Millenium was the last major attempt by Freemasons to pass instructions coded into broadcast media, but as I was watching television the other night, I saw what can only be a resumption of those messages.
Amateur students of Masonic Konspiracies have most likely missed the commercial tie-in of Burger King and Spongebob Squarepants, but it did not escape me that this is a blatant attempt to pass along coded messages, and perhaps to insinuate the hidden Masonic agendas into our youth culture.
For those who may have missed the commercials, they are an ingenious method indeed; most adults would not bother to watch commercials aimed at pre-teens, and what could be a more innocuous cartoon than Spongebob? That’s the genius of the plan.
But think about the character itself: Spongebob Squarepants is a square-shaped creature, a geometric shape to which Masons frequently refer. The commercial features the rather creepy Burger King. The term “King” is too obvious for me to reference, and I won’t go into the minutiae about how “Burger” refers to the German-Austrio Hapsberg royal house. But the tie-in itself obviously references an alignment of the Freemasons – who have notably been allied with the British House of Windsor – with other members of the European royal houses. It’s not clear if the Freemasons are severing their relationship with the Windsors, or if (more likely) there is to be a merging of the lines in preparation to a One World Order.
I’m sure that there is no need to mention that the original Illuminati were from Austria.
And it wasn’t lost on me that using “rap” music was an intentional signal. Masons frequently use “raps” of gavels in their secret ceremonies, and by co-opting an old tune by “Sir” (another clue about royalty!) Mix-A-Lot was meant to catch the attentive ears of brother Masons in the English-speaking countries.
The commercial features a number of otherwise shapely young women dancing to this “rap” music, all of them wearing square-shaped boxes in their pants, which they display – indeed, call attention to – by their rhythmic shaking. Once you look past the overtly sexual innuendo, one realizes that they are shaking their “booty”, a reference to the riches to be gained by controlling the world’s monetary supply.
A secondary reference, though, is that “booty” is a term associated with pirates; pirates have been in the news lately, and alert konspiracy researchers will no doubt be aware that Freemasons may have descended from the heretical Knights Templar who escaped the purge of 1307, many of whom were rumored to have taken ships and plied the Mediterranean and southern European coasts. These ships were known to have sailed under a flag on which was a picture of a skull with crossed bones – a gruesome image with is still referenced by Freemasons even today.
And in case there are still some doubting Thomases, the 30-second commercial is really just an edit of a much longer, 2-1/2 minute message that is being broadcast through the YouTube medium. I haven’t had time to decipher the entire code, but I have managed to secure a copy of the text, which I have verified by listening to the commercial a number of times. I would appreciate any help or insights from other Masonic konspiracy experts in further deciphering what appears to be a message of callipygian importance.
I like square butts and I cannot lie
Squid and Sea Star can’t deny
When a sponge walks in, four corners and his pen
Like he got phone book implants, the crowd shouts
All the ladies stare
Dang those pants are square!
Swimming through the seaweed tangle
Is a butt with sharp right angles
Now Sponge Bob, I wanna get witch-ya
‘Cuz you’re making me rich-ah
Underwater, we keep it grungy
‘Cuz everybody knows that ‘He so spongey!’
You dance, but your hips don’t bend
So groove it and move it
If you got caboose, then prove it
Sponge Bob is dancing
And Squidward is glancing
He’s hatin’… wet
He’s got Sponge Bob runnin’ his set
I’m tired of all these chairs
They don’t accommodate these squares
Take the average box tell him that
You gotta have square back
Mr. Krab! Yeah!
Has Sponge Bob got the butt? Oh yeah!
Then shake it, now shake it
Shake it, now shake it
Shake that cubicle butt
Sponge Bob got back
Naw, dude, I said cubicle, not booty-ful. Don’t trip.Yeah baby, when it comes to sea life, curves ain’t got nothin’ to do with Bob’s selection.
2 by 2 by 2 square trousers, working that black belt, looking like dotted lines.
That’s how Sponge Bob like to rock them threads baby.
A word to the DC sponges who wanna get wit it
And watch Sponge Bob kick it
I gotta be straight when I say you gotta scrub ’til the break of dawn.
Bob got it goin’ on
Been known to rock him a thong
Them round butts won’t admit it
But they’d wear that gear if they could fit it
You can draw his body on paper
His waistline really don’t taper
Your girlfriend wants to squeeze him
Wanna push his pores and tease him
But Sponge Bob ain’t gonna have too much of that squeezin’
You other sponges don’t want none …
…unless you rock square buns!
To the new sponges in the magazines
You ain’t it Miss Thang
We rock them cubes, gals and dudes
Put it down at the goo lagoon
Some other box must get jealous
At the moves that come from square fellas
See Bob and they wanna get him
But Sandy Cheeks she won’t let ‘em
If you happen to wander on land
And you wanna be a square butt fan
And drive the crew right to Burger King
And give that sponge a ring
Sponge Bob got back!
It’s difficult to understand just what this message means. I’m counting on everybody reading this to share their insights so that we can figure it out.
Another blogger comes out of the closet this week. In real life, the mono-nymed Radcliffe happens to be one of my best friends, and has been writing The Metaphysical Freemason for the last year or so. For reasons as yet unexplained, he decided to cast off the cloak of anonymity with the anagrammatically titled post “Edman named.” As it turns out, Radcliffe is really WB Dave Edman, Past Master of Friendship Lodge (voted “Best Lodge in Conn” by 33% of Connecticut bloggers). WB Dave joins the surprisingly small number of blogging brothers who publish under their real names, and I welcome him to the club.
Being an inveterate attention seeker and egomaniac, I fail to understand the hesitation which many of my brothers seem to have over such public disclosure – at least, under normal circumstances. I do understand that some brothers feel the need to publish anonymously, though. In the UK and other parts of Europe, Freemasons have come under scrutiny because of accusations of nepotism and favoritism in government and business dealings; and let’s not forget that Freemasons were actively persecuted in WWII. In the US, some Masons in the Bible Belt might be hesitant to announce their memberships because their neighbors, co-workers, or employers might belong to a congregation that looks askance at the Order, which conceivably could impact one’s job security.Some brothers are just new to Masonry and are shy and unsure of what they can write, for rear of ridicule from less their expressive brethren. And, unfortunately, some Masons even fear reprisals from their own, as last year’s events in West Virginia have showcased.
But these are exceptions. To me, the surprising thing is that 2/3 of the 100+ bloggers that I’ve counted choose to do so under a nom-de-plume. Bro. Radcliffe Dave writes something that echoes sentiments that I’ve seen elsewhere:
“[…] does it matter what a persons name is, does it cause less credibility or more, when one is attempting to move ideas. I would generally suppose that while of potentially little harm it probably causes even less good.”
The essential question that Dave – and others – poses is this: “What difference does my name make? What does it matter who I am? Why can’t you just evaluate what I’m saying on its own merits?” And on some level this is a perfectly valid issue: The truth – or at least, what one believes is true – really should take priority over who is reporting it. The value of an opinion offered should not change depending upon who is opining.
At one time in our society, you might have seen advertisements like “Try Doc Johnson’s Vit-A-Tonic. It adds pep to your step!” in magazines and newspapers. Those were simpler times, though. Marketing experts have long since realized the importance of adding some amount of authority to the context of the message in order to create a degree of verisimilitude in order to increase the attractiveness of the product. My grandmother would buy almost anything endorsed by Robert Young, the actor who played Doctor Marcus Welby, MD on a show of the same name.
But now, in our post-modern, self-aware society, the discriminating among us demand more than the patina of realism; we want actual authority in order to give meaning within the context. And while the desire for meaning within context is a mark of critical thinking, do we sometimes discount the validity of facts or opinions when they are divorced from the context? I would say that we do, especially in the internet world – but that we do so not without reason. The speed in which various internet hoaxes are passed around by the unaware is amazing, and the tenacity of these hoaxes (or rather, the belief in them) rival the faith that some people have in religion.
Don’t believe me? How many times in the last decade (yes, it’s been at least that long) have you seen emails promising money, free meals, or prizes (from a merger of Microsoft, AOL, Outback, and Disney, apparently) based on your propensity to forward it to as many people as possible. And almost every such email contains the phrase “I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s worth a try, isn’t it?” Newer versions, ironically, even contain such “authority” phrases as “My sister in law is an attorney, and she says it’s legal” or “My accountant says that this is binding” or now, the ultimate in authority: “I saw this on Snopes.com, so it must be true.”
Yet, the messages which some people would claim have merit even without a context, have certainly been created with some context; context that enhances the impact of the message itself. If I wrote an article about my concerns over publishing something critical of my Grand Lodge (Connecticut, one of the more progressive and forward-thinking states), it would not have the same impact as (for example) an author from West Virginia, knowing that some members of the Craft have been expelled for speaking their mind, and that their Grand Lodge has been actively seeking the authors of an anonymously written blog chronicling the issues involving the Past Grand Master Haas. Indeed, the words of both articles may be the same, but the knowledge of the environment of the authors impacts the sense of meaning that the reader develops.
I’m not suggesting that my brothers in self-imposed anonymity suddenly announce their names; they obviously have their own reasons, and I would never suggest that their reasons are not valid – at least, to them. But I do encourage anyone who can, to write freely about Masonry; to write about their experiences, their beliefs, and their education. In our post-modern times we have opened up our lodges so that non-Masons can see what goes on, in hopes of encouraging some of them to join our ranks. Maybe, by being more open amongst ourselves, we can encourage those of us in the ranks to help mentor and educate each other, as well as those who have chosen to follow similar paths.
The morning email from my friend 3M was my first clue.
Yet again high praise for my CT blog brethren. Scottish Rite Journal!
Congrats guys for getting etched in the annals of history.
Not being a subscriber to the SRJ – in fact, not even being a member of the SR, I Googled my way through several links to find that one of their book reviewers must not have had any interesting Masonic tomes this month, and decided to do an article on some of the denizens of cyberspace.
written by James T. Tresner II, 33°, Grand Cross, Book Review Editor
I must admit that I have not been a fan of the Internet phenomenon known as “blogs” (from web logs). For one thing, irrational as I know this is, I simply think the word itself is ugly. It does not “ring with a joyful tune upon the ear.” In fact, it sounds distinctly disrespectful. In addition, I have never been enough of a small-d-democrat to be interested in what the uninformed had to say on any topic. I grudgingly admit that everyone is entitled to have an opinion, but I am less willing to grant they have a right to publicly inflict it on others. One only needs watch the talking heads of celebrity experts on any cable news channel or listen to “talk radio” to see what I mean.
I have to admit that I was a bit put off at first; I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to in the last couple of years that, upon hearing that I write a blog, have proclaimed similar sentiments about blogging, and it makes me think that they are either short-sighted, or have not bothered to read very many.
Recently, a columnist in a local newspaper wrote almost exactly the same thing as Bro. Tresner, adding that she had no desire to read about the dull aspects of other people’s lives, such as, e.g., what they had for breakfast, or to see pictures of their kids, or to hear about their shopping trips. It’s the height of irony that she, herself, has a regular weekly column in which she writes about exactly those topics. It’s fascinating to think that people who get paid for writing their opinions so often have such a low opinion of those who simply give theirs away.
Fortunately, Bro. Tresner has a good friend who was able to give him a more relevant perspective:
So when I was recently shamed into visiting a Mason’s blog, I was greatly surprised at what was to be found. There was some first-rate writing, and an expression of ideas that stimulate thought. I found that to be true of other blogs as well. There is also a great deal of dross mixed with the gold.
While I’d like to think he was writing specifically about The Tao of Masonry, the fact is that a good number of bloggers really are talented and interesting writers. I read a few years ago that most blogs fail within three to six months, presumably for lack of interest on the part of the writer. That means that those blogs that have crossed that particular bank of the Jordan have done so because the writers have displayed an above-average amount of effort in their craft. They have a dedicated number of readers, they publish with some kind of frequency, and they manage to follow most of the rules of grammar and usage in order to make an article easy to grasp.
I read most blogs through Google Reader, and I catch some of the less-frequently posted blogs through the excellent King Solomon’s Lodge Feed Aggregate – a website that collects RSS feeds from dozens of blogs with Masonic content.
And yes, there is dross mixed in with the jewels; even some of the better blogs have the occasional off day. However, with over 100 blogs (by my last count) with some Masonic content, it’s natural to expect that a few will not meet one’s particular interests.
Rather a bit like those “book” thingies that I keep hearing about.
But since blogs have become the major forum for the exchange of Masonic ideas and debate about modern interpretations of traditional values as well as the forum of most Masonic publishing today, it seemed appropriate to spend a little time alerting you to some of the most interesting. If I omit your favorite, please forgive. There are many, many of them out there.
While I disagree that blogs have become the major forum for discussion – I still believe that web forums are the preferred choice for those interested in the give-and-take of debate – you can’t ignore that blogging has grown incredibly in the last decade. Masonic blogs were virtually unheard of just 5 years ago, and have probably doubled in number just in the last year. Much of this is due to the ease of use of the major blogging platforms: Blogger (now owned by Google), WordPress, and TypePad – all of which have had major upgrades in usability, and all of which are free to use for the basic packages. In other words, nobody needs to be a computer geek to blog anymore.
In Connecticut, no less than 5 blogs were started in the past year. I suspect that most of my brothers, having seen my own modest attempts with the cyber-pen, said to themselves “If Tom can do this, anybody can.” The result is that the Nutmeg State now has the highest per capita Masonic Blogging Density (MBD), which I expect to double in the next month after a few dozen more Connecticut readers see this post.
For the 23 of my Connecticut readers, here’s what Bro. Tresner had to say about one of your local media stars:
Many blogs focus on specific sets of issues. Masonic Renaissance, http://masonicrenaissance.blogspot.com/, created by Bro. Charles Tirrell, PM Momauguin Lodge No. 63, Connecticut, DDGM, and 32°, focuses on the general renewal of interest in Freemasonry and the opportunities and problems it creates.
I’m sure that VW Bro. Charles, my District Grand Lecturer counterpart in the 4th District is aghast at learning of his promotion to District Deputy. Over the last year, I’ve realized that many US states do not have District Lecturers, and for some people the Very Worshipful title doesn’t quite register. I suspect that they see purple and immediately start thinking DD or DDGM.
Of course, as a DD he would only be responsible for 5 or 6 lodges, not the entire 18 in that district, so maybe . . .
Bro. Tresner didn’t comment on the other Nutmeg State bloggers, either for lack of space, or because they choose to write (sort of) anonymously. I’m sure it can’t be for lack of interest, because we’ve got some excellent writers in the 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 6th districts.
A word or two of warning. Many of the writers on these blogs are young men. Even Gandhi, as a young man, did not understand the importance of sacred cows. It was only in his more mature years that he realized that the sacred cow played a truly vital role in the social life and economy of his country. A second, very important point to keep in mind is this: Not all cows are sacred.
I’ve subdued my passions enough to avoid the offhand snarky comment, but I do have to say that the above paragraph made me wonder about the typical reader of the SRJ; why would Bro. Tresner feel compelled to warn the readers about some of the topics that appear on the various blogs? Wouldn’t most readers be able to judge for themselves the worth of a writer’s opinion on, say, Prince Hall recognition, or the seemingly unfair expulsion of Past Grand Master Haas, or Traditional Observance lodges, or the desire of some younger Masons to jettison the fish fries and pancake breakfasts in favor of something else?
I’ve been told by a number of my brothers – usually, but not always older members – that the openness of the internet would be the death of Masonry because too many contentious writers can anonymously sling mud at our sacred cows, which could be read by just anybody, including potential members. Presumably, these potential members would be turned off by the nattering nabobs of negativity and stay away in droves from petitioning.
I still maintain that we, as a fraternity, are better off when those who apply have shown themselves to have critical thinking skills. As I wrote recently on this issue of contentious internet writing:
During my travels, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to meet another half a dozen new Masons who came up to me after a degree to mention that they’ve read this blog. Not only does this increase my readership by almost 50%, it indicates that more and more men – mainly the under-40 group – are using the internet to discover more about our fraternity. It also suggests that they are not being frightened off by some of the contentiousness that can be found on blogs and web forums, to the contrary of those who have decried the use of this medium. Being one of those who used the internet heavily in his own research before joining, I still maintain that those people who are so easily swayed in their opinion of the fraternity by the antics of a handful of anti-Masons Masonophobes – or by a few disgruntled Masons – are probably not the best candidates in the first place.
It may sound as if I’m complaining about the review; I’m really not, and I’m actually pleased to have been included in his list. I’m also glad to see that Bro. Tresner managed to develop a better perspective on blogging during the course of his research. I am, however, just a little disappointed to see that some people – and Bro. Tresner is by no means alone – still regard “Masonic blogging” as an inferior medium. I’m all the more mystified because Bro. Tresner, himself, has his own section – “Tresner’s Talks” – on The Sanctum Sanctorum, one of the latest blog/web forums to have been set up in the last year. More interestingly, I’ve seen several discussions in the Sanctum Sanctorum forum decrying certain forms of “internet Masonry.”
A web forum for Masons in which some of the participants have issues with Masons on the internet? Really?
I suspect that the big problem is that Masonry – or, more correctly, Masons – on the internet is still a new concept for the Fraternity, and most of the brothers, many of whom remember a life before television, have not adopted the working tools of the internet. That’s to be expected, of course; new technology that brings about cultural change is often viewed with concern until a large population manages to figure out what to do with it.
My own observation, which is purely anecdotal and not to be taken as any type of statistical study, is that most of the Masons joining in the last few years are under 40 – indeed, we’ve seen a lot of them under 30 at Friendship Lodge – and most of them have used the internet as a tool in deciding to join. Maybe it’s time that some of us learned a little bit more about how that tool works.
That said, the article finishes on a good note:
As you can imagine, the blog list is endless, and as you follow different links into the deepest, darkest regions of Internet Masonry in search of light, remember: have fun, take nothing at face value, and research things for yourself so that you might form your own opinion—although reading the opinions of others makes for fun and education.
Bro. Tresner goes on to list several blogs which he thought worth a look.
The Relevant Mason, by Cliff Porter, who I know mainly through his participation on various web forums.
Freemasons for Dummies, by the irrepressible Chris Hodapp, author of several of those book thingies that people used to read before the internet came along.
Dispatches from Maine, by the engaging Christian Ratliff, who is the District Education Representative, which appears to be similar to the District Grand Lecturer here in Connecticut.
Kingdom of Conscience, by Osiris, who appears to have taken his blog down a year ago.
The Inquisitive Master , by Nimrod, who appears to have made 13 posts early in 2008, and has not updated since.
Bro. Tresner also had something to say about my favorite blog:
For Masonry taken seriously, but no too seriously, visit The Tao of Masonry, http://www.masonictao.wordpress.com. It is run by Brother Tom Accuosti, who lists among his credentials “Past Master, Friendship #33.3, AM&FM, Area 51, Atlantis.” Again, thought-provoking articles with a fine sense of balance.
“Not too serious” and “a fine sense of balance?”
That’s Taoism in a nutshell!