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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/)

 

 

 

 

 

Freemasons to watch Area 51 Run with alien friends, technology

September 18, 2019 Leave a comment

Alexandria, VA — The Connecticut Freemasons Magazine has learned that a number of prominent Freemasons from around the US and Canada, including some from Connecticut, will be on hand to watch the festivities of the upcoming Area 51 Run at the end of September from the high tech communications center at the George Washington Masonic Memorial.

Started as a Facebook joke in July, and called “Storm Area 51 – They Can’t Stop All Of Us“, the author suggested that hundreds of thousands of willing volunteers would be able to crash through the high security perimeter and find the aliens rumored to be working with (or possibly held captive by) the US government. The author went on to suggest that by using a maneuver from a Japanese manga (cartoon) called a “Naruto run,” the volunteers might be able to move fast enough to dodge bullets.

Aerial photograph of the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia.

The spire of the George Washington Masonic Memorial houses high tech communication equipment.

“It’s rather ironic that there are hardly any aliens left at Area 51 anymore,” said Art Morris, Special Communications Director at the George Washington Masonic Memorial. “They came, helped set up a few research centers, gave us some high tech equipment, and most of them either went home, or are quietly living among us as anthropologists, studying our culture.”

The Connecticut Freemason has learned that the spire of the George Washington Masonic Memorial actually contains very high tech communication equipment. While officials won’t confirm that it is alien technology, anonymous sources have admitted that “it’s like nothing else on Earth.”

That’s why the decision was made to use the Memorial as an observation post to watch the Area 51 event; large screen TVs will be set up to watch the various sensors and monitors around the Area 51 perimeter, and, should any volunteers actually make it inside, interior observation equipment will monitor their progress. The Facebook signups number almost 2 million, although it’s expected that only several thousands will actually show up. As a courtesy, a number of Freemasons, including a reporter for The Connecticut Freemason,have been invited to watch the event live.

“It will be an opportunity for some of the alien anthropologists to watch and ask questions to some of our own psychologists and sociologists, who will be there, along with a number of Freemasons from around North America,” explained Morris. “While they’ve been studying us for decades, they still don’t seem to ‘get’ some of our humor.”

He added “Although to be fair, a lot of humans don’t ‘get’ some of our own humor, either.”

 

 

Categories: aliens Tags: , , ,

Claims Adjustment

June 16, 2017 2 comments

Anyone who has been paying to US political news for the last year or so knows that 2016 was a particularly divisive national election year, and that 2017 has been pretty much one “crisis” after another, as Republicans battle Democrats, and Trump supporters battle “Never Trump” activists.

I’ll admit to having done a bit of troll baiting over the last year, mainly because, well, I’m a 15 year old teenager trapped in a grown man’s body. Despite that, however, my Facebook friends list has stayed fairly steady. I’ve been blocked or unfriended by a few family and friends, but for the most part, the people that I’ve gotten to know – online and off – as fellow Freemasons have managed to keep their conversations level; they have been all over the political spectrum, but our disagreements have not been enough to have them drop me as a friend, nor I them.

Until this week.

The shooting of Republican Congressman Steve Scalise earlier this week should have elicited sympathy, if not outrage. At the very least, one would have thought that the more enlightened people would have abided by the rule “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” That’s why I was not just surprised, but saddened at the comments of one of my friends who wrote, in essence, that Scalise deserved what he had gotten, that it was re-payment for his being a Tea Party supporter, and then added something about karma and female dogs.

The comment was not part of a conversation in which I was involved; I just blocked and later, deleted him from my friend list.

Oh sure, we’ve all had our moments of righteous anger. I can think of any number of times that I’ve read about some thug holding up a store, getting shot in the process, and thinking “Oh, good, maybe that’ll teach him a lesson.” But Scalise was not a thug; in fact, I had no idea who the guy was until I’d read the news, which indicates to me that he probably wasn’t an especially bad person. I’m guessing that for a lot of other people this was also the case.

“Okay, Tom,” you’re saying to yourself about now, “if I wanted to read about politics, I’d be on Facebook. How is this related to Freemasonry?”

Some US states have a piece at the closing of lodge (sometimes called the Closing Charge), that is sadly absent in Connecticut (and apparently elsewhere), but which I’ve run across, and I think it’s a moving bit of ceremony. A typical version runs like this:

Brethren: You are now to quit this sacred retreat of friendship and virtue, to mix again with the world. Amidst its concerns and employments, forget not the duties you have heard so frequently inculcated and forcibly recommended in this Lodge. Be diligent, prudent, temperate, discreet. Remember that around this altar you have promised to befriend and relieve every worthy Brother who shall need your assistance. Remember that you have promised to remind him, in the most tender manner, of his failings, and aid his reformation. These generous principles are to extend further. Every human being has a claim upon your kind offices. Do good unto all. Recommend it more especially to the household of the faithful. Finally, Brethren, be ye all of one mind; live in peace; and may the God of love and peace delight to dwell with and bless you.

I don’t know what made that pop into my head at some point yesterday, but there’s a part in there that I believe gets overlooked far too often:

These generous principles are to extend further. Every human being has a claim upon your kind offices. Do good unto all. Recommend it more especially to the household of the faithful.

That is, we have an obligation to be tolerant, if not downright charitable to everyone, regardless of political outlook. Maybe some of us need to be reminded of that not just in and around our lodge, but also whenever we log into our social media.

I, for one, welcome our new Masonic Media overlords.

April 1, 2017 2 comments

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).

What does this mean for you, the readers?

In my opinion, very little will change. Even the more “active” blogs (for example: The Millennial FreemasonArs LatomorumOne 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

 

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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