Tuesday, October 31, 2006

UGLA Mason David Cooksey interviewed on Huntsville, Ala. radio show

Bro. David Cooksey, Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of America, moments ago finished up an eye-opening interview with David Person of WEUP-AM in Huntsville, Ala. I listened online at the radio station's website http://www.weupam.com.

During the fifteen minute interview Bro. Cooksey told how the United Grand Lodge of America came into existence, after brothers in Georgia were "erased" from their blue lodges by the Grand Lodge of Georgia. He explained that the UGLA accepts all worthy brothers as Masons, without concern for skin color, unlike the Grand Lodge of Alabama.

He told of his 13 years as an Alabama Mason, before he resigned his blue lodge and the Scottish Rite and joined the UGLA, relating incidents of racism and character assassination that led to his resignation. He related a story about an Alabama Deputy District officer who was overheard telling another Mason that he "just can't imagine that black people can go to Heaven... because they have no souls."

Bro. Cooksey said that most Masons in Alabama interpret, or are told to interpret, the traditional requirement that a candidate for Freemasonry be "freeborn" to mean that no black man can be a Freemason. When he then exclaimed, "There aren't any black slaves anymore!", the interviewer and another man in the studio, both of whom are black, replied with "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

The interviewer took Bro. Cooksey's concerns to heart, asking at one point "What century do they [Antient Alabama Masons] think they are living in?"

When asked if Gov. Riley and other prominent Alabama politicians could be members of a racist organization without knowing it, Bro. Cooksey said that yes, when you first join a Masonic lodge you may not realize it's a whites-only group, but that after 20 or 30 or 40 years of never seeing a "person of color" in a lodge meeting, it should become obvious. He also told about the Alabama Shrine Potentate Larry Simms who reneged on allowing a concert at a Shrine building in Montgomery when he learned that the concert-goers were primarily Latinos.

Radio host David Person invited Bro. Cooksey back to talk more about racism in Alabama Freemasonry. Bro. Cooksey has been mentioned many times before on the Burning Taper. Use the Blogger search engine [above] or the Technorati search engine [right] to find other Burning Taper articles about him.

| | | |
| | | | | | |

Son of United Grand Lodge of England's Grand Master to marry at the Vatican

The royal son of the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England converted to Catholicism in 2001. This weekend Lord Nicholas Windsor, godson of Prince Charles, will marry a Croatian noblewoman in a religious ceremony at the Vatican. They were legally married in a civil ceremony in England on October 19.

The following is reprinted from Independent Catholic News.
The Vatican will witness an historic moment in relations between the Catholic Church and the British Monarchy on Saturday, when Lord Nicholas Windsor, son of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, is married at a church situated in the papal gardens behind St. Peter's Basilica.

Lord Windsor, the least known member of the Royal Family will marry British-born Croatian noble, Donna Paola Doimi de Frankopan, in the Church of Santo Stefano degli Abissini. Bishop Alan Hopes, an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Westminster, will conduct the ceremony.

Lord Windsor, whose godparents are The Prince of Wales and the late Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Coggan, will become the first ever member of the Royal Family to marry at the Vatican.

He will also be the first ever member of the Royal Family to marry openly and legally within the rites of the Roman Catholic faith since the Reformation. A recent meeting of the Privy Council confirmed the Sovereign's approval of the wedding as is required by law.

Lord Windsor converted to Catholicism in 2001 and by doing so automatically lost his rights of succession to the throne because of the notorious 1701 Act of Settlement that bars Catholics from becoming monarch.

The little known and publicity shy Lord Nicholas has since his conversion, been very active in Church affairs. He privately joined tens of thousands who queued for hours to file past the body at the lying in state of Pope John Paul II in April 2005.

He and his Cambridge educated wife, Paola attend Mass regularly at Westminster Cathedral and Brompton Oratory.

In 1994, his mother, the Duchess of Kent, became the most senior member of the Royal Family to convert to Catholicism. Lord Nicholas's uncle's wife, Princess Michael of Kent, and his sister-in-law, the Countess of St. Andrews, whilst Catholic from birth, both conducted civil marriages.

His father, The Duke of Kent, who is the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Freemasons of England, is expected to attend the Vatican ceremony.

The Duke, who is known to be very close to his son, also and unusually issued an official engagement photograph taken by him at Kensington Palace.

Spokesman for the couple, Mr. Anthony Bailey said: "The wedding will be a small and strictly private family affair. It is expected that only immediate family members will attend. Lord Nicholas's godfather, The Prince of Wales, will not be attending as His Royal Highness will be returning from an Official Visit to Pakistan at the time which was arranged many months ago. Lord Nicholas and his bride will however be organising a private party to celebrate their marriage in London sometime in the New Year for other members of the Royal Family and close friends who will be unable to travel or have other commitments at this time."
Image: Lord and Lady Nicholas Windsor

| | | | | | |

Monday, October 30, 2006

Is there free speech in Freemasonry?

Is there Free Speech in Freemasonry? by W:.Tim Bryce, PM, MPS

There is a rumor circulating on the Internet that there is a resolution being prepared by a grand jurisdiction in the U.S. Southeast ("Dixie") that would, in effect, censor all forms of Masonic communications, including publications, blogs, discussion groups, e-mails, web pages, etc. This would mean that virtually anything pertaining to Freemasonry in the grand jurisdiction would have to first be reviewed and approved by the Grand Lodge prior to publication. If this is true (and I hope it isn't), this would be setting up a preposterous situation whereby Masonic communications would be grid locked at all levels. Such controls would be reminiscent of those enacted by Hitler and Goerbels in Nazi Germany.

There has always been a certain amount of censorship in Freemasonry. For example, some jurisdictions prohibit the publication of proceedings and any correspondence pertaining to Masonic charges. There have been instances where Masonic web sites were shut down and Masonic publications suspended simply because Grand Lodges wanted absolute control over what was written and said in their jurisdictions. Is this a violation of First Amendment rights? Undoubtedly. Nonetheless, this has occurred on several occasions around the world.

In my case, when I was censored by my Grand Master last year, I was given no warning and ordered to shut down my Masonic publications and web pages. To this day, I am at a loss as to exactly why this was done (nobody spoke to me about it before or after the order was issued). Based on the letter I received from the GM, it was obvious to me that he was unfamiliar with my work and was acting on some bad advice by his handlers (my detractors). Nonetheless, this forced me to find new venues for my work which is now published by Brothers in other jurisdictions. Interestingly, as a result of the censorship, my stock rose radically while the GM's plummeted. I am now asked to write for a variety of publications and speak to groups outside of my grand jurisdiction.

So, is there free-speech in Freemasonry? Only as much as allowed by the Grand Lodge. Constitutions are interpreted and enforced at the discretion of the Grand Masters which basically gives them broad powers to censor whoever they want. In other words, Masons must walk gingerly on egg cartons or face repercussions. Inevitably, this is causing Freemasons to go underground in their communications. Vehicles such as the Internet provide a convenient means for Masons to cloak their identity and whereabouts. When you think about it, this is barbaric as Masons should be allowed to identify themselves and speak on the level without fear of retribution.

To me, censorship is another indicator of how the tables have turned in Freemasonry. Instead of the Grand Lodges serving the Craft Lodges, it is just the other way around. It means Grand Lodges want nothing less than absolute power.

In a way, it reminds me of a chapter from Ayn Rand's acclaimed novel, "The Fountainhead," about a brilliant architect who dares to stand alone against the hostility of unimaginative conformists. In the book, Howard Roark, the protagonist, is brought up on charges of destroying a building he designed. In the courtroom, he offers an eloquent defense which ultimately leads to his vindication. Although space prohibits me from including his complete courtroom testimony here, there are several passages which have a bearing on the subject at hand. In the courtroom, Roark explains to the jury....

"Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received — hatred. The great creators--the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors — stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.

"Man cannot survive except through his mind. He comes on earth unarmed. His brain is his only weapon. Animals obtain food by force. Man has no claws, no fangs, no horns, no great strength of muscle. He must plant his food or hunt it. To plant, he needs a process of thought. To hunt, he needs weapons, and to make weapons--a process of thought. From this simplest necessity to the highest religious abstraction, from the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and everything we have comes from a single attribute of man — the function of his reasoning mind.

"But the mind is an attribute of the individual. There is no such thing as a collective brain. There is no such thing as a collective thought. An agreement reached by a group of men is only a compromise or an average drawn upon many individual thoughts. It is a secondary consequence. The primary act — the process of reason--must be performed by each man alone. We can divide a meal among many men. We cannot digest it in a collective stomach. No man can use his lungs to breathe for another man. No man can use his brain to think for another. All the functions of body and spirit are private. They cannot be shared or transferred.

"We inherit the products of the thought of other men. We inherit the wheel. We make a cart. The cart becomes an automobile. The automobile becomes an airplane. But all through the process what we receive from others is only the end product of their thinking. The moving force is the creative faculty which takes this product as material, uses it and originates the next step. The creative faculty cannot be given or received, shared or borrowed. It belongs to single, individual men. That which it creates is the property of the creator. Men learn from one another. But all learning is only the exchange of material. No man can give another the capacity to think. Yet that capacity is our only means of survival.

"Rulers of men are not egotists. They create nothing. They exist entirely through the persons of others. Their goal is in their subjects, in the activity of enslaving. They are as dependent as the beggar, the social worker and the bandit. The form of dependence does not matter.

"But men were taught to regard second-handers--tyrants, emperors, dictators — as exponents of egotism. By this fraud they were made to destroy the ego, themselves and others. The purpose of the fraud was to destroy the creators. Or to harness them. Which is a synonym.

"The only good which men can do to one another and the only statement of their proper relationship is — Hands off!

"Now, in our age, collectivism, the rule of the second-hander and second-rater, the ancient monster, has broken loose and is running amuck. It has brought men to a level of intellectual indecency never equaled on earth. It has reached a scale of horror without precedent. It has poisoned every mind. It has swallowed most of Europe. It is engulfing our country."

The legislation proposed by the Dixie jurisdiction is frightening. If enacted, it sets into motion the enslavement of Masonic minds and, consequently, the erosion of this great fraternity. Freemasonry must remain free.

Keep the Faith.

NOTE: As with all of my Masonic articles herein, please feel free to reuse them in Masonic publications or re-post them on Masonic web sites (except Florida). When doing so, please add the following:

Article reprinted with permission of the author and www.FreemasonInformation.com

Image: Gary Cooper as Howard Roark, in Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead

| | | | | | |

Newly raised black Mason receives hate mail

A Massachusetts black minister who recently became a Mason by joining a regular Antient blue lodge working under the Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts says he received a letter last week showing an African-American man and containing racist remarks.

According the news reports by television stations WHDH-TV in Boston and WJAR-TV in Providence, the flier claimed the minister is being watched by the Ku Klux Klan, and bore the symbol of Freemasonry, the Square and Compasses.

"A brain is terrible thing to waste, that's why (expletive deleted) don't have any," the message said.

"To think that they are prominent up here as opposed to down South, no one thinks that," Bro. Chan-Williams said. "But now one must ask the question, how prominent are they up here?"

Bro. Chan-Williams refuses to believe the letter could have been sent by a new brother Mason.

"I think it's a coincidence that needs to be investigated by the police and by my lodge and the Grand Lodge. Whether it's a Mason, I do not believe so," Bro. Chan-Williams said.

The FBI and police call it a hate crime, and authorities have increased patrols around the minister's home.

The flier tells Bro. Chan-Williams that he should go home to Brooklyn, New York.

"I'm home," he said. "I'm not going anywhere."

Without a suspect, we're left here with only idle speculation. I doubt they're going to bring out the team from CSI to investigate this incident. Did the Klan send the letter? Did the Masons? Is it just a Halloween prank by some kid? Did the recipient fake it and send it to himself? Is this all a dream we'll wake up from when we click our heels together? Who knows?

All we can say for certain is, someone in the Boston area — home of the Boston Tea Party and the first Prince Hall Masonic lodge — doesn't want to join the 21st Century with class or style.

We'll keep you up to date if this story develops further.

| | | | | | |

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Masonic sheriff lets Masonic prisoner attend lodge meetings

Minnesota sheriff Mark Harig is in hot water for allowing his Masonic brother, James Colstrup, an alcoholic serving 180 days for domestic abuse, out of jail to attend lodge meetings and to cook at a Masonic pancake breakfast. The convict has also been taken to a community festival for two days; whether he was supervised or not during the local Rendezvous Festival is not clear from the stories I've read.

Apparently the Freeborn County (interesting Masonic reference, isn't it?) jail has a policy of releasing prisoners temporarily so they can attend AA and NA meetings and religious services.

After this publicity, Colstrup is no longer being allowed time off for attending Masonic meetings, but is still under a work release program. Bro. Harig says Bro. Culstrup did not violate his work release and that the situation has been blown out of proportion.

Bro. Colstrup is in jail for domestic abuse after he refused to accept the alternate sentence of attending an alcoholic treatment program.

While in attendance at the Rendezvous festival, he helped his wife — the victim of his abuse for which he was incarcerated — sent up their tent, and was allowed to teach children over the two days of the festival. What they sold and taught at their tent is not mentioned.

Is this much ado about nothing, or a serious breach of ethics and a risk to the public? Is it a sign of Masonic favoritism? Is the story getting more attention that it would otherwise because Sheriff Harig is up for re-election in less than two weeks?

Read the local newspaper's and the local tv station's versions of the story, and tell us what you think.

| | | | |

Friday, October 27, 2006

Masonic Racism: The October Surprise that won't go away

This morning's Huntsville Times features an editorial from David Person, its regular editorial opinion columnist.

This writer seems to understand Masonry a little better than the AP writer Jay Reeves, who "broke" the "Riley-Masonic Racism in the South" story a few weeks ago, and who followed that article up with another AP national wire story a few days ago. Person not only better explains the segregated nature of the dual Grand Lodges in Alabama (and elsewhere), but he understands, probably correctly, that Riley and other Alabama politicians (from both parties) might not actually be racists, though they all belong to a "racist organization." Face it, Freemasonry isn't the Klan, though I know several Masons who could be, and maybe are, members of the KKK, for all I know. God knows I've heard enough "nigger" jokes in lodge to last a lifetime.

Two other things are noteworthy to me about Person's editorial.

First, it marks the first time that I am aware of that a major publication has mentioned by name the less-than-a-year-old United Grand Lodge of America. The UGLA was formed in Atlanta last December after the 2005 Grand Master of Georgia Al Garner issued a bitter edict banning certain Masons from meeting to discuss ancient French Masonic rituals (Red Lodge Masonry) and the 2006 Grand Master of Georgia F. Ray Jackson threatened expulsion without trial of those members who would not sign letters of renunciation. Masons who refused to sign letters of renunciation were summarily "whited out" from their lodges' rolls at the turn of the year last January.

The second thing this article points out without knowing it is pointing it out, is that a majority of Freemasons don't know a thing about Freemasonry. The editorial quotes Alabama Gov. Bob Riley as saying he hasn't attended a blue lodge meeting since he was in his 20's, and doesn't even know who this year's Grand Master is. (Hint: That's him in the recent photo above, standing next to you!) He's just another one of those "Pay Your Dues So You Can Call Yourself a Mason" Masons. Did he just memorize his lines well enough to get through the Three Degrees, earn the right to wear a ring and call himself a Mason, and then dust off his shoes and not look back? It seems he's a Mason only by virtue of paying his dues every year. Big shots do that all the time. They join all the groups they can, for the business contacts and the networking and to say "Yeah, I belong...."

I conferred the Entered Apprentice degree, and acted as Senior Deacon during his 2nd and 3rd degrees, on a bank president a few years ago that we never saw in the lodge again after he was made a Master Mason. It happens all the time, everywhere, I'm sure. These aren't the guys that stop coming to the lodge because they didn't find what they were looking for; these are the guys that got exactly what they were looking for — membership and privilege without responsibility and honor, without truly becoming a part of the brotherhood except in name only.

And they gave Riley the KCCH!

Here's the article by David Person, from today's Huntsville Times:
Gov. Bob Riley and the Masons, Redux by David Person

Friday, October 27, 2006
Reprinted from The Huntsville Times

Some folks say that the most segregated hour of the week is Sunday morning at 11 a.m. That's when most folks go to church, and most — even in this new century and millennium — don't worship with people of other races on a regular basis.

Seems church folks have something in common with Masons, who are as segregated as Sunday morning. Most white Masons are members of the Grand Lodge. Blacks become Prince Hall Masons.

If both groups merely were self-segregating as most churches are, it would be bad enough. But this is worse because by charter or tradition, Grand Lodges across the South won't allow Prince Hall Masons to become members or even visit their meetings.

In turn, some Prince Hall Masons have reportedly done the same thing.

Why does any of this matter? Because it's an election year, and the rap on Gov. Bob Riley is that he is a racist because he is a member of Alabama's Grand Lodge.

I don't think Riley is a racist, but I understand why others do. What's the old saying? Lay down with dogs and....

In Riley's defense, he said he hasn't attended a meeting since he was in his 20s.

"I don't even know who the head of the Masons in Alabama is," he told The Times editorial board Tuesday afternoon. Well, the head Mason knows who Riley is.

In May 2005, Riley's Grand Lodge brothers gave him the rank of Knight Commander of the Court of Honor. When I asked Riley about this a month or so ago, he dismissed the honor as ceremonial.

Nevertheless, active or not, he didn't turn it down.

Other Alabama Masons have been more decisive. After a failed attempt to integrate Alabama's Grand Lodge in 1999, some members left it.

White Masons in Alabama now can be affiliated with the United Grand Lodge of America, which was formed specifically to ensure that Masonry does not discriminate based on race or religion.

Most Grand Lodges across the nation now practice what is called "mutual recognition," meaning that they accept blacks as members and visitors. The Associated Press reported that Masonry is segregated only in the South - Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

The governor's responses to this issue have been somewhat tepid, but his campaign's have been worse. The Montgomery Advertiser reported that campaign spokesman Josh Blades outed lieutenant governor candidate and former Gov. Jim Folsom as a Mason, along with House Speaker Seth Hammett and state Sen. Lowell Barron, both of whom are running for re-election.

If the message from the Riley campaign is that we should get off the governor's back because Democrats are in the Grand Lodge too, that's the wrong message.

Masons refusing to accept members based on race is wrong, whether white or black, Republican or Democrat. Riley knows this, as does the head of Alabama's Grand Lodge, Grand Master Frank W. Little.

To his credit, Little told The Advertiser that while he doesn't know of any blacks among the 32,000 Masons in his Lodge, "if I heard of any lodge that denied a man membership because of his race they wouldn't be a lodge for long."

Riley, to his credit, told The Times editorial board that he agreed.

"I think that's where you go," he said.

However, we all know that saying the right thing isn't the same as doing it. Little needs to investigate what his lodges are — or are not — doing. And the governor needs to back up his words with action.

If Riley doesn't believe that Masons should be discriminating — if he truly believes that mutual recognition is the way to go — then he ought to use his bully pulpit to get loud and pushy about it.

If the Grand Lodge won't budge, Riley should disassociate himself with it. And so should Folsom, Hammett, Barron and any other Grand Lodge member who wants to be elected to public office.

Riley should also renounce the rank the Grand Lodge gave him. Knight Commander of the Court of Honor sounds mighty royal. But there's no royalty in racism.
| | | | | | |

Nifty new ideas for raising and spending Masonic funds

It's been my experience that Masonic blue lodges in the U.S. aren't that experimental in their fundraising activities. I've seen a couple of horse shows and rodeos sponsored, but many lodges simply rely on the tried-and-true traditional fundraiser: selling food. Lots of lodges host annual or bi-annual barbecues, fish frys, fried chicken dinners, or "hobo dinners" (beans and rice). A more recent variation, according to Small Town Texas Masons blog, is the "no chicken" chicken dinner. Apparently, you tell the public "If we felt like cooking, we'd have a chicken dinner, and you'd buy a plate, not because you're hungry but to help us, so look, let's just pretend we went to all the trouble of frying up some greasy chicken, and you give us $6.00 a plate for it, okay?" Kind of reminds me of that bit from Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy where Ford tells the foreman it's a given that Arthur will be lying in the mud in front of the bulldozer all day, so let's just say that he is actually lying there, but really we're going to pop off to the pub for a pint or two, and why don't you join us?

Hey, if it works, I say, go for it.

Keys Lodge No. 297 of Hyderabad, India, has found a unique fundraising idea: A contest to determine who has the best signature. Yep, the three best signatures will win gold worth 10,000 rupees (about 221 USD), silver worth 7,500 rupees, and a DVD player worth 6,000 rupees. Ten runners-up will receive prizes worth 500 rupees (11 USD) each. And maybe a plaque. Masons like plaques. Funds raised will go towards buying supplies and equipment for a government-run school in the slum area of Hyderabad.

What do lodges do with the money they raise?

Most give it to a charity or a "cause" of some sort, eventually, or so I hope. Often money is simply given, with no strings, to a local Boy Scouts unit, or to a children's charity, or to a general health-related or health-issue-specific group. My lodge had to form a committee just to figure out which charities in the area were worthy of receiving a donation. Seldom have I seen money go to a group where you would see an immediate community benefit; donated funds seemed to just slip into the budgets of ongoing charity organizations.

The lodges under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of New Zealand in Rangiora have come up with a novel use of their funds — Using them to help improve the health not only of their own members, but all men. While men's health is often talked about — or should I say grumbled about? — unofficially at lodge meetings, a concerted effort by Masons to help other Masons, and all men, is not something I've heard of before.

Our New Zealand brothers have enlisted the help of a New Zealand television celebrity, Lloyd Scott, who was recently diagnosed with colon cancer, to help them gain attention for their program.

The lodges are sponsoring a month-long men's health campaign called "No More Secrets." Masons nationwide will hold events at lodges and community centers to encourage men to taker positive steps to improve their health.

Specialist speakers will talk about blood pressure, stress, diabetes, heart conditions, prostate, kidney, bowel and testicular cancer, alcohol use and abuse, obesity and erectile dysfunction.

"I think we have to face it, men are not fussed on dashing off to the doctor. We tend to put up with complaints, rather than seek advice — at times we are actually are a bit secretive about our health, I guess you could say this campaign is about revealing those secrets," said Lloyd Scott.

Image: Lloyd Scott (right) meets Deputy Grand Master Neville Patrick of Rangiora, New Zealand. Note Scotty's t-shirt.

| | | | | | |

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Dirty deeds done dirt cheap

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap by A Concerned Freemason

The society of Freemasons was founded three hundred years ago in London, England. Since that time it has become a global society composed of men and women from around the world. Time, however, has not been kind to the society of Freemasons in America. It has devolved from a society of enlightened thinkers and artists into a run of the mill social club administered by the surviving veterans of World War II. Plagued by racism, financial scandals, and immoral behavior the once honorable society has dwindled in numbers since 1963.

Recent articles from the Associated Press reveal many disturbing facts about American Freemasonry. In places throughout the country it is divided along strict racial lines, with African Americans being left out of the main body of the group, and forced to form their own lodges. That this type of human behavior is still taking place in the United States of America will be a shocking revelation to many.

The problems, however, go beyond just racism. Independent journalist Sandy Frost has revealed a multitude of financial issues that include both fraud and theft. To become a Freemason in the United States is quite easy, according to the Grand Lodge of Ohio. A man can become a Master Mason over the course of a day for as little as one hundred and fifty dollars. According to Frost and the Orlando Sentinel the real cost of Freemasonry is not to the Masons, but to the public. Many of the charities organized by the Masons barely meet the legal guidelines regulating charitable organizations. According to the Orlando Sentinel only about twenty-five percent of the monies collected from the public actually go to help anyone. The largest amounts go to support private golf courses and liquor purchases for the Masonic Shrine organization.

According to one Internet blog site, The Burning Taper [http://burningtaper.com], Freemasons were expelled in Georgia for their opposition to both the racism and fraud within the organization. This may be a sign of growing unrest within the organization as new leaders begin to replace the aging group that has controlled the society for the past fifty years.

The House of the Temple of the Scottish Rite, the national headquarters of American Freemasonry, admitted in a recent interview that the society had fallen into hard times and was suffering significant membership losses. When questioned about the racial and financial issues they had no comment.

— A Concerned Freemason

| | | | | | |

There's a new Masonic blog in town: 'Small Town Texas Masons'

I recently discovered a new Masonic blog I think you'd enjoy. Called "Small Town Texas Freemasons," it's written by a 78-year old brother named Corkey, who lives in Pine Island, Texas.

With only eight posts so far, he's already taken on the anti-Masonic Christians John Ankerberg and John Weldon, and covered Masonic lodge barbeque fundraisers, the Knights Templar as Masonry's predecessors story, racism in southern lodges, the Morgan Affair, and today, Masonic "toleration."

Check Brother Corkey's blog out. I think you'll like it.

| | | | | | |

Monday, October 23, 2006

Chinese bloggers must sign their names, Ministry of Information demands

The Chinese government's Internet Society of China, the "consulting" arm of the Ministry of Information, has recommended that Chinese bloggers be required to register their blogs in their real names, Reuters reported.

Apparently, all those anonymous Chinese bloggers are saying things the Chinese government doesn't like.

"A real name system will be an unavoidable choice if China wants to standardize and develop its blog industry," the official Xinhua news agency quoted the Internet Society's secretary general, Huang Chengqing, as saying.

"We suggest, in a recent report submitted to the ministry, that a real name system be implemented in China's blog industry," Huang said.

WTF is a "blog industry"? Are there millions of Chinese adults and children hunched over in sweatshops, churning out blogs for mere pennies per day?

Bloggers anonymously disseminating untrue information on the Internet brought about a negative influence on society, the Xinhua report said.

Just like its namesake in George Orwell's novel 1984, the Ministry of Information's sole job seems to be to suppress information.

Has the Ministry itself gone high-tech yet? They better be using some pretty sophisticated computers, to keep up with the 1,313,973,713 people living in China as of July, 2006, according to the CIA World Factbook.

Then again, with half the population having just one of nine surnames, and 90% of the population having one of only fifty surnames, they're likely to have a lot of bogeys on their watch list. How do they keep up with them all?

Fifty percent of the Chinese population is surnamed Chen (Chan), Lin, Huang (Hwang, Hwong), Li (Lee), Zhang (Chang), Wu (U, O, Oh), Wang (Wong), Cai (Tsai) or Liu.

Complicate matters with the fact that Chinese parents, just like their counterparts in the United States and elswhere, tend to give their children trendy first names, so that everyone ends up with the Asian equivalent of Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Emily, Emma and Madison (2005's top three names of newborn boys and girls in the USA).

Here is the order of frequency of the most common characters chosen for Chinese first names:

1. Wen (culture, writing)
2. Zhi (will, intention; emotions)
3. Yi (cheerful)
4. Ya (elegant)
5. Ming (bright)
6. Hui (smart, wise)
7. Hong (great, wide)

Chinese names
American names

| | | | | |

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Atomic buckshot: Contest to name newly discovered element #118

What do you get when you bang calcium together with californium, really really fast?

A new element, Number 118, that's what!

Experiments in 2002 and 2005 have been adjudged "for real" (as if anything in the atomic world is really real) and given a place on the Periodic Table to the not yet formally named element being referred to variously as ununoctium (Latin for "one-one-eight"), eka-radon, or just good ol' Number 118.

Ununoctium didn't stay around long, just a mere nine ten-thousandths of a second, but the presence for any length of time at all is all that is needed to qualify as "existing." Oh, I do loves me some quantum physics.

"One never knows what the application of the things you find may be," said Darleane Hoffman, a professor of chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley, tossing out the example of plutonium-239, the key fissile ingredient in atomic bombs, first created in 1941, the Washington Post reported last week.

Nature, without the help of man, has only given us 92 elements of which the universe is composed. The 26 newer elements are the results of lab experiments, and usually are of only a fleeting state of existence.

When the calcium and californium smacked into each other, they transformed into the new Element 118, which them rapidly threw off a pair of protons and a pair of neutrons to make element 116, then did so again to make element 114, and again to make element 112, which then split in two. Nobody hangs around long up in the triple-digit neighborhood of the Period Chart.

Researchers are working on ways to make these elemental cameo appearances last a bit longer.

"We're nibbling away at the shores of the island of stability," said Livermore Laboratory's physicist Ken Moody.

See a real live Periodic Chart. It's interesting to note that the recent elements numbered 111 and above have names beginning with "unun." Why not name them after gods and goddesses, like we do planets and planetoids, or sell the naming rights to corporate sponsors, like we do stadiums and football bowl games?

Until they come up with a better method of naming these high-end elements, I hereby officially claim the unofficial rights to unofficially name the following numbered elements:

Element 111 — Widowssonium
Element 112 — Burningtapersacredfemium
Element 113 — Freemasonium
Element 114 — Ronbondsium
Element 115 — Grouchogandhium
Element 116 — Robertantonwilsonium
Element 117 — Dylanium
Element 118 — ???

As self-proclaimed unofficial Namer of the High-Numbered Elements, I'm leaving Number 118 unnamed for the moment, while we take suggestions. Please post your ideas in the comments section. What should be the name of Element Number 118?

Thanks and an aluminum foil hat tip to GrouchoGandhi's Greatest Week in History for digging up this story last week.

| | | | | | |

Friday, October 20, 2006

'No more deviant love for you!'

Despite 17 centuries of the Church's "unofficial" approval of dividing and alienating families, Pope Benedict has finally had to put his foot down.

Yes, after all those years of breaking up families by burning daddy at the stake, twisting kids' minds and abusing kids' bodies at the hands (and mouths) of pervert priests, and making average Christy Catholic into a neurotic with all those rules against divorce and sex while making her wear those cute little Catholic school skirts, the Pope has at last said enough is enough.

Maybe it was the "Priest gets naked with Mark Foley" story that drove the Pope to rally the troops for Family Values.

Earlier today His Holiness spoke in Verona, Italy to a national convention of Italy's politically powerful Roman Catholics. He urged them to defend the traditional family and in an apparent reference to gay marriage said they should oppose any moves to legalize "weak and deviant" unions.

While he did not specifically mention gay marriage, thousands of listeners at the fairgrounds in Verona's outskirts strongly applauded the two parts of his speech about the family and "other forms of unions."

Ironically, he urged them to fight "with determination... the risk of political and legislative decisions that contradict fundamental values and anthropological and ethical principles rooted in human nature." By ironically, I mean, he played the "anthropological principles" card, meaning, I assume, that he thinks it's "natural" for one man and one woman to be married, but yet, denies the right of marriage to his own Christian Soldiers, er, I mean, priests.

The Pope said they had to defend "the family based on matrimony, opposing the introduction of laws on other forms of unions which would only destabilize it and obscure its special character and its social role, which has no substitute."

In another section of his speech, the Pope made another apparent reference to homosexual marriage, stating that the Church had to say "'no' to weak and deviant forms of love."

He said the Church wanted instead to say "'yes' to authentic love, to the reality of man as he was created by God."

Since his election in April 2005, Benedict has firmly backed the Roman Catholic Church's strong opposition to legalizing gay marriage or to legally recognize unwed heterosexual couples.

Studies have shown that the more homophobic a man is, the more likely he is to be a closet homosexual.

More info at The Daily Mail.

| | | | | |

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Gov. Bob Riley's 'racist' Masonic association again in the national news

The Associated Press just moments ago moved with a story again featuring the charge of Alabama Gov. Bob Riley's association with what has been called the "racist" Grand Lodge of Alabama. It talks about the 1999 episode at their Grand Lodge meeting where Bro. Alex Harris was shouted down for even discussing the idea of white Alabama Masons recognizing black Alabama Masons.

ABC News affiliate WMAR-TV in Baltimore links to the article from their homepage, where the story is titled "Black, white Masons in South struggle with racial separation." Such frontpage coverage indicates it will probably be a featured story on their news programs this evening.

The report also delves into the Grand Lodge of North Carolina vote a few weeks ago, which once again kept that state's white group from recognizing the black group.

It also looks at the recent vote in Delaware, where that state's Grand Lodge finally joined the 20th century and began recognizing their black counterparts.

This story also contains some of the first remarks from black Masons about the race issue in Freemasonry, quoting Arkansas Prince Hall head Cleveland Wilson as saying, "...[W]e're fine without [white Masons]. I'm of the attitude that since they haven't shown any interest, I'm not interested, either."

With the recent movie flap over The Da Vinci Code, the upcoming sequel The Solomon Key, and many other books on Freemasonry and "secret societies," the mass media has been writing more and more stories about Freemasonry. The New York Times recently wrote about the fraternity in its Sunday edition, and countless small newspapers across the country have been writing features and/or printing items on their "society pages" about upcoming meetings and lodge anniversaries, etc.

It's interesting — and hopeful — to see the mainstream media picking up on stories The Burning Taper and other Masonic blogs have been following for several months. It's also good to know that the "Masonry is the last bastion of racism" meme is going to finally get an airing in the national media. Just wait til Jesse Jackson, a Freemason, Al Sharpton, status unknown, and other black national spokesman put the issue on their radar.

Update, Sunday, Oct. 22: Other news outlets apparently saved this AP story for their Sunday editions. The Columbus, Ga., Ledger-Enquirer, for example, ran this story in today's edition.

Update, Monday, Oct. 23: And now the Houston Chronicle has published the AP story, as has Yahoo News.

Update, Monday, Oct. 23, later: I've just received a list of over 40 newspapers, news sites, and television stations that have published the most recent Jay Reeves AP story about racism within Freemasonry, that noble and ancient institution dedicated to universal brotherly love. The world now knows about what we've been telling you here for months, that Freemasonry in the South is the last bastion of institutional racism.

| | | | | | | | | |

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Save the Internet: Tune in tonight to PBS's 'The Net at Risk'

The following is an email I just received from SavetheInternet.com.

Tune in to PBS tonight to see the SavetheInternet.com Coalition featured in "The Net at Risk," a documentary produced by award-winning journalist Bill Moyers.

Then join other SavetheInternet.com members in an online Web discussion at PBS.org.

Bill Moyers' show airs at 9 p.m. in most cities (check local listings). Immediately following the East Coast broadcast, PBS.org will host a live Internet debate between Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott and phone industry flack Mike McCurry.

You can be a part of this online debate. Here's how to join in:You'll be asked to log in to participate in the online discussion. With your help, we hope to light up the PBS Web site with our campaign to save Net Neutrality.

It's important to have you there. In the six months since the SavetheInternet.com Coalition was launched, millions of Americans have joined the campaign, spoken out for Internet freedom, and put Congress and the phone companies on notice.

Tonight's program could make millions more aware of this issue.

They need to hear the real voices of people like you instead of industry mouthpieces. Help us use the Internet to save it from corporate efforts to stifle online innovation, free speech and competition.

Please join us tonight!

Timothy Karr
Campaign Director
Free Press and SavetheInternet.com

1. For the latest information on the campaign visit www.SavetheInternet.com

2. Don't miss Bill Moyers' new essay on Net Neutrality: "Against an Imperial Internet"

| | | |

Monday, October 16, 2006

It is in dying that we are born

The Prayer of Saint Francis

"O Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light, and
Where there is sorrow, joy.

Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life."

| | |

3,001 coalition troops have died in Iraq — for what?

There have been 3,001 coalition deaths — 2,767 Americans, two Australians, 119 Britons, 13 Bulgarians, six Danes, two Dutch, two Estonians, one Fijian, one Hungarian, 32 Italians, one Kazakh, one Latvian, 17 Poles, two Romanians, two Salvadoran, three Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, two Thai and 18 Ukrainians — in the war in Iraq as of October 16, 2006, according to a CNN count. The list includes the names of the soldiers, Marines, airmen, sailors and Coast Guardsmen whose deaths have been reported by their country's governments. The list also includes seven employees of the U.S. Defense Department. At least 20,895 U.S. troops have been wounded in action, according to the Pentagon.

For what?

These two American troops died yesterday:

ADCOCK, Shane T., 27, Capt., Army; Mechanicsville, Va.; 25th Infantry Division.

WALSH, Justin T., 24, Sgt., Marine; Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio; Eighth Engineer Support Battalion, Second Marine Logistics Group, Second Marine Expeditionary Force.

What did their deaths accomplish?

Click here for the entire list of 3,001 Americans and coalition forces who have died in Iraq in the last three years.

| | | |

Sweet Home Alabama: Mason Meltdown, Part 1

The following is reprinted with permission from Sandy Frost's website, and was originally published on Oct. 11, 2006.

Sweet Home Alabama: Masonic Meltdown, Part 1 by Sandy Frost

“In Birmingham they love the Gov'nor.
Now we all did what we could do.
Now Watergate does not bother me.
Does your conscience bother you, tell the truth.” — Lynyrd Skynyrd

On Monday, September 25, two veteran Birmingham, Alabama radio talk show hosts, Russ and Dee Fine, were fired an hour before their program was scheduled to end, in large part for “outing” Alabama’s Governor Bob Riley (R) as a member of a secret society that is still governed by documents forbidding membership to “negroes or other inferior races.”

As a result, a rally to protest “Masonic Racism in Alabama” will be held at 4 pm, Wednesday, October 11, 2006 outside the Birmingham Scottish Rite Masonic Center where Ronald A. Seale, the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, is expected to appear. Other than animal cruelty protests held by former Shriners outside Shrine circuses, this is the first known Masonic protest to be held outside a Masonic event.

The Fines had questioned why Riley had not renounced his membership in the “racist” Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons of Alabama. “As a private group, we believe the Masons and any other private group should certainly be entitled to their own membership guidelines,” Dee said. “But when a sitting governor who is running for re-election is found to be a member of such a group, and we have the temerity to expose and talk about it and then we get fired for telling the truth, people who believe in freedom of speech should become very concerned.”

The Fines have tackled controversial issues from illegal aliens to Islam but, according to Dee, "It looks like we can talk about everything BUT the Masons.”

Her co-host and husband, Russ, said “We’ve been in radio nearly twenty years and have never experienced anything like this. Here we are in Birmingham, Alabama, the virtual epicenter of the civil rights movement; a place where our local and the state’s largest newspaper, the Birmingham News, runs some story with a civil rights angle nearly every day of the week, yet their editorial page editor and their nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist won’t touch this story, even though the editor admitted to me, in a one word email reply, that ‘yes,’ it bothered him. I don’t understand the media’s refusal to run with this.”

“It is far more important and sinister than former Florida Congressman Foley’s homosexual dalliances,” he continued. “Why? Because a sitting Republican governor is a member of an organization that discriminates against black citizens of his state and a sitting president came to Alabama to endorse and fund raise for him the Thursday after we were fired on Monday.”

“Although I can’t prove it,” Russ continued, “clearly, getting us off the air the week the President was coming to Birmingham was no coincidence. The President should have told the governor to do the right thing but apparently silencing us was their collective view of what doing the right thing meant.”

“Information and photos revealing the governor’s membership in the racist Alabama Lodge had been on our site for a couple of weeks,” Russ revealed. “There’s no way the President’s advance men didn’t know about this. They are way too good for this to have slipped through any cracks.”

“It’s chilling,” he concluded, “especially in view of that which happened recently in 'Pootie’s' Russia.” Investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya was recently found shot dead. She had been finishing up a story about military torture and abductions in Chechnya.

Russ’ day job is as a biomedical research scientist and tenured professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Medicine, where he has been for over 30 years. He earned his Ph.D. in Biostatistics and Epidemiology from the University of Oklahoma in 1970 and conducts research and runs three research centers, two of which deal with injury-related neuron trauma, with emphasis on head and spinal cord injury.

On 9/29/06, he wrote on the Russ and Dee website:

“This is not rocket science: Bob Riley is the Governor of Alabama and is running for re-election. The President of the United States came to Birmingham, yesterday, September 28th, to help raise more money for Riley’s re-election campaign.

However, that which the mainstream media fails to address or conveniently chooses to ignore is that Bob Riley is a Mason, a member of the Grand Lodge of Alabama. So far so good. No big deal. Lots of well-known people are Masons. But, when we learned and then exposed on our former morning drive radio talk show that Governor Bob Riley’s Grand Masonic Lodge discriminates against African Americans, by formal resolution... that they will not allow a black man to become a member — we knew that his affiliation — because he is the governor and wants to be the governor for four more years — was and is 100% wrong.”

The “media blackout” was partially lifted when an AP story by Jay Reeves was widely published the same day:

“BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Gov. Bob Riley is defending his membership in a Masonic organization that critics say excludes blacks. Riley, a Republican…is a member of a Masonic lodge in his east Alabama hometown of Ashland that is affiliated with the Grand Lodge of Alabama, a statewide group with no known blacks among more than 30,000 members.

Speaking in an interview with The Associated Press, Riley said he did not know whether his lodge had any black members. But Riley denied that the Masonic group is racist, as did two leaders of the organization in interviews Friday.”

The protest rally has been organized by a former high level member of the Masonic affiliate, the Scottish Rite Orient of Alabama, David Cooksey.

“The Grand Lodge of Alabama’s 1876 resolution states very clearly that they do not allow African-Americans to join,” he explained. Cooksey resigned from both his Blue Lodge and the Scottish Rite after 13 years of Masonic service in protest after emails between lodge and grand lodge officers emerged that allegedly attacked his character for having asked questions regarding racism and financial misconduct.

Cooksey’s letter of resignation stated:

“This system is now dysfunctional and its leadership has no glue, its Honor Court is not honorable; it is filled with political hat wearers and the incompetent. Hats, awards, pins, chains and rings do nothing except stroke the egos of the unworthy. I can no longer be a part of such filth and such negativity any longer.... It will die in its present form because its leadership refuses to learn from their mistakes, but especially because they will not make the effort to learn from them.”

Coincidentally, it was confirmed today that an audit team of two from the Masonic affiliated groups, Shriners Hospitals for Children and the Shriners Imperial Council, spent the morning at the Cahaba Shrine in Huntsville, Alabama investigating allegations of Bingo theft that were, according to an anonymous source, reported all the way up the chain of command three years ago but remained “swept under the rug” and ignored. Questions left with the office of Willard E. Fawley, Shriners’ controller, remain unanswered at the end of the business day. Cahaba Shrine Potentate, Robert Utley, was unavailable for comment.

Back to the Gov’nor.

It seems that there is a connection between Governor Bob Riley and Michael Scanlon, who pled guilty last November to conspiring to bribe a member of Congress and other public officials. Scanlon was partners with Jack Abramoff in the “ripping off Native American tribes for $85 million in gambling lobbying fees” scandal. Abramoff pled guilty to defrauding of American Indian tribes, corruption of public officials, conspiracy and wire fraud.

According to a 4/13/06 Birmingham News article:

“A Washington lobbyist who has been convicted of bribery gave $100,000 in 2002 to four Alabama political action committees that contributed heavily to Gov. Bob Riley's campaign that year. Michael Scanlon, who had been Riley's press secretary during part of his first term in Congress, gave four $25,000 checks to PACs run by Fine Geddie and Associates on June 6, 2002, two days after Riley won the Republican primary for governor, campaign disclosure reports show....

When Scanlon contributed the money to the four PACs, he was representing an Indian tribe in Mississippi that operated casinos…At the time of the Alabama donations to the Fine and Geddie PACs, Scanlon was running Capitol Campaign Strategies, a public relations firm that shared clients with Jack Abramoff, the convicted lobbyist at the center of the federal investigation. One of the clients that Abramoff and Scanlon shared was the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, whose casino interests feared an expansion of gambling next door in Alabama. Riley campaigned for office as a gambling opponent; Democratic candidate Don Siegelman backed a state lottery. Asked if his 2002 campaign received money from Scanlon, Riley said Wednesday, 'I don't know.' He referred questions to his campaign staff.”

Unlike other elected officials who quickly disassociated themselves from this web of corruption by either returning or donating the tainted campaign contributions to charity, the Riley camp has remained silent on the issue.

Conflict of Interest?

In the “Current Interest” section of the Nov/Dec 2005 edition of the Scottish Rite Journal , it was reported that:

“Alabama Governor Bob Riley was invested with the Rank and Decoration of Knight Commander of the Court of Honor on May 9, 2005, in a private ceremony held at the Alabama Governor’s Mansion. Following the Investiture, a reception was hosted by Governor and Mrs. Riley.”

It is not yet known if Riley violated Alabama conflict of interest or any other laws by hosting the Scottish Rite ceremony and reception in the Governor’s Mansion, presumably at tax payers’ expense.

However, the same article reported that:

“On July 20, 2005, Ill. Ronald A., Seale (the same as mentioned above), 33°, Sovereign Grand Commander, opened a Court of Honour in the auditorium of the Memphis Scottish Rite Bodies for the purpose of investing fifty-year member, Bro. Jabie Sanford Hardin, Jr., the founder of Sysco foodservice company, the premier supplier to commercial kitchens.”

According to a May 10, 2005 press release from the Governor’s office:

“GENEVA — Governor Bob Riley joined local officials to welcome Sysco Corporation to Geneva, where the food service giant will open a distribution center. Jack D. Carlson, Vice President of Real Estate and Construction for Sysco, said several factors were involved in selecting the facility’s location. 'This site was chosen because of the availability of an existing high quality building in a location that could easily serve a growing Gulf Coast marketplace. Additional factors influencing the decision were an available outstanding workforce, and the willingness of the city, county and state officials to assist in securing economic development incentives and other assistance,' Carlson said.”

Carlson failed to mention another possible factor, that the founder of Sysco and Governor Riley both held high positions in the Scottish Rite.

Editor’s [Sandy Frost] Note: The Shriners Hospitals for Children and Shriners Imperial Council have also attempted to silence those who question them by filing a defamation lawsuit against whistleblower Vernon Hill and website operator/accountant, Paul Dolnier. In early September, the men were sued for defamation after they questioned Shriners finances and alleged that the group might “be of interest” to Pennsylvania authorities after Dolnier spent hours with PA investigators explaining findings, based on tax returns, that showed that instead of the required 100%, only 23% to 48% of what was raised by some Pennsylvania temples was going to charity. More coverage at: http://sandyfrost.newsvine.com.

All copies of material reprinted or duplicated from “by Sandy Frost” must include the following credit line: From http://sandyfrost.newsvine.com/ Copyright © 2006 by Sandy Frost. Used by permission.

— Sandy Frost

Image: Sandy Frost

| | | | | | | |

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Seattle Masonic lodge openly accepts gay members

While Masons here in the South continue to bitch and moan about who is or is not a racist, or about whether black Masons should be accepted as Masonic brothers, the rest of the Masonic world, more or less, seems to have figured this brotherly love thing out and has stopped hating people who might be different. I mean, that's the whole point of Masonry, isn't it? Truth, Relief and Brotherly Love....

At the opposite corner of the country, up in the state of Washington, there is a Masonic lodge that accepts — even openly invites — gay men as Freemasons.

Daylight Lodge No. 232, which calls itself Seattle's Masonic Lodge of the Arts, is not a gay lodge, but rather, a lodge with gays.

From Daylight Lodge's website:
What is the Masonic policy on gay members?

There is nothing in the so-called Ancient Landmarks of Masonry that would forbid a gay man from joining. Of course there are gay men in Masonry. It is a simple thing, sexual orientation is not a determinate for admission, it is not even asked and that is a Masonic standard. The Washington Mason Code does not address the issue because each petitioner is judged by the lodge and its members.

Since membership is voted on by the members of the lodge, a situation of exclusivity could exist, as with any organization. For instance a lodge could be made up entirely of Spanish speaking people, at which a non-Spanish speaking person may not feel comfortable. Similarly, when a gay man is selecting a lodge to petition for membership, the make-up of that lodge should be considered. It is conceivable that the majority of members of a lodge could have a problem with someone being gay and thus prevent membership from being attained. That is certainly not the case at Daylight Lodge #232.

Because Daylight Lodge has since its inception been involved with the arts, it is a logical assumption that there have been and are gay members, but for the same reason it is not an issue that is even considered important. All that Daylight Lodge asks of a member is that be loyal to the lodge and Masonry. Also that he obey the laws of his city, state and country and there is no law against being gay. Masonry does not discuss religion and that is the source of most of the objections to the gay life style.

So, yes! Gay men can join Masonry and be accepted as a brother; just be conscientious of the lodge you are petitioning. The members of the lodge do vote in secret on petitions for membership and it is possible that a member may cast a negative vote. At Daylight Lodge #232, however, being gay will never prevent you from being accepted and loved like a brother.
Daylight Lodge No. 232 is also unusual in that it elects its officers for two-year terms, giving officers enough time in each station to actually enact and carry out a concerted plan of action. A moving force in the changes for the better in Daylight Lodge for the past several years has been Anthony Monaco [pictured], who is now serving as the lodge's Worshipful Master. Almost all of the officers of Daylight Lodge are in their 20s and 30s.

| | | | | | |

The Masonic Grand Lodge system has failed us

W. Bro. Tim Bryce's latest article, "Reinventing Grand Lodge Government" [see below], strikes a nerve with me, and hopefully with you, too.

The Grand Lodge system of Freemasonry has failed us. The "brotherhood of equals" has become like the brotherhood of animals in George Orwell's Animal Farm, with some brothers being "more equal than others."

Title-seeking, gold-chain-wearing good ol' boys are appointed into the Grand Lodge "line" by their older mentors, pals, and/or cronies. The Appointed One traditionally calls the One Who Appoints Him his "Masonic grandfather."

Where is democracy? Where is honor and brotherly love? Where is the will of the Brethren regarding who they wish to "govern" them? "Elections" in blue lodges as well as at the Grand Lodge are often a sham and a farce.

The Grand Lodge system has become a self-perpetuating "monarchy" which Average Joe Mason has been programmed to accept as "natural" by his obligations of "obedience" and by the regular-as-clockwork visits from Deputy This-and-That bringing "greetings from your Grand Master."

Does a Grand Master answer to "his" Masons? Apparently not.

We have now twice publicly asked the Grand Master of Masons in Georgia, M. W. Bro. F. Ray Jackson, to express true brotherly love by recognizing black Masons as true and lawful brothers, or to tell us why he won't do it. It was under Bro. Jackson's reign, too, that several Brothers were "whited out" — erased — from their blue lodges last winter without Masonic due process or trial for not signing letters of renunciation for having been involved with the Rite of the Rose Cross of Gold.

In about ten days, a new Grand Master of Masons in Georgia will be installed at the 220th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Georgia (which, from the ad on the Grand Lodge's website, looks like it will be a late 4th of July celebration). Will he be "elected"? Of course not. Like his predecessors, he's been "in line" for the "honor" for years. Behind him is a never-ending parade of same-ol' same-ol' same ol' same ol' ad infinitum.

When Freemasonry's Grand Lodge form of leadership was established, it was assumed that good and honorable men would rise to positions of leadership, men who would serve the tenets of Freemasonry — brotherly love, relief and truth — first and always. That hasn't always been the case.

— The Widow's Son

Re-inventing Grand Lodge Government by W:.Tim Bryce, PM, MPS

With rare exception, Grand Lodges follow a top-down dictatorial form of government. This means the Grand Master appoints officers in state, zone, and district positions to carry out his will and pleasure to the Craft. The only exception to this top-down approach is when the Craft drafts legislation to be presented at Grand Communications (assuming it can get past the red tape), but such legislation often fails as it is written by well meaning Brothers with little or no experience in writing such resolutions.

Let me take this a bit further and play devil's advocate for a moment and ask, if we were to invent a Grand Lodge in the 21st century, would we truly design the government of our institution in the same manner as our forefathers? Come on, would we really? Knowing what we do today in terms of government, politics, and Freemasonry, I doubt it seriously.

A big part of the problem is the top-down approach I just mentioned. Too often the Craft feels powerless against the will of the Grand Lodge and believes, right or wrong, their voice is not heard. This results in apathy and distrust in the Grand Lodge system. Instead, what if we were to institute a Congress or Parliament (or whatever you want to call it) of delegates elected by the Craft and representing the various Districts of the grand jurisdiction? This body would meet regularly (perhaps bimonthly or quarterly) for the purpose of drafting legislation for the Craft to vote upon at the Grand Communications. This would inevitably result in some very well thought-out and articulate resolutions. As there are currently no real "checks and balances" in Masonic government, such a body would contribute to this purpose as its members would be elected by the Craft and not appointed by the Grand Master.

The Grand Master is, of course, the executive power of the Grand Lodge but one has to question his term of office. For example, in most grand jurisdictions the Grand Master serves for no more than a single year which is often considered far too short a period of time to accomplish anything of substance, nor does it promote continuity in programs. Perhaps a longer term limit should be in order, such as two or possibly four years. Further, life for the Grand Master would be simpler if an effective legislative body was put into place.

Whether you agree with these suggestions or not, I think it is safe to say how we would design a Grand Lodge in the 21st century would be noticeably different than what we did in the 18th century. Keep in mind the political climate of the early 1700's when the Grand Lodge system was invented; monarchies were still very much in vogue and democracy was a nebulous concept. I'm sure there is a lot more we could do to improve our effectiveness and promote the best interests of the Craft.

Critics would argue that implementing such changes would politicize our Grand Lodges. I would respond, "Who is kidding who?" It is already politicized. This merely legitimizes the process. Besides, as evidenced by the governments of the free world, it works!

Keep the Faith.

NOTE: As with all of my Masonic articles herein, please feel free to reuse them in Masonic publications or re-post them on Masonic web sites (except Florida). When doing so, please add the following:

Article reprinted with permission of the author and http://www.freemasoninformation.com/

— Tim Bryce

| | | | | | |

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Prince Hall's African Lodge, warranted Sept. 29, 1784

Here is the text of the Warrant given in 1784 by the Grand Lodge of England to African Lodge, of which Prince Hall was the first Master:
TO ALL AND EVERY our Right Worshipful & loving Brethren, we Thomas Howard, Earl of Effingham, Lord Howard, etc. etc. etc., Acting Grand Master under the authority of His Royal Highness, Henry Frederick Duke of Cumberland etc. etc. etc., Grand Master of the Most Ancient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons, sends greeting:

KNOW YE, that we, at the humble petition of our right trusty and well-beloved, Brethren, Prince Hall, Boston Smith, Thomas Sanderson and several other Brethren residing in Boston, New England in North America do hereby constitute the said Brethren into a regular Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, under the title or denomination of the African Lodge, to be opened in Boston aforesaid, and do further at their said petition, hereby appoint the said Prince Hall to be Master, Boston Smith, Senior Warden, and Thomas Sanderson, Junior Warden, for opening the said Lodge, and for such further time only as shall be thought proper by the Brethren thereof, it being our will that this our appointment of the officers shall in now wise affect any future election of officers of the Lodge, but that such election shall be regulated agreeable to such by-laws of said Lodge as shall be consistent with the general laws of the society, contained in the Book of Constitution: and we hereby will and require you, the said Prince Hall, to take special care that all and every the said Brethren are or have been regularly made Masons, and that they do observe, perform and keep all the rules and orders contained in the Book of Constitutions; and further, that you do, from time to time, cause to be entered in a book kept for that purpose, an account of your proceedings in the Lodge, together with all such rules, orders and regulations, as shall be made for the good government of the same, that in no wise you omit once in every year to send to us, or our successors, Grand Masters, or to Rowland Holt, Esq,. Our Deputy Grand Master, for the time being an account in writing of your said proceedings and copies of such rules, orders and regulations as shall be made as aforesaid, together with a list of the members of the Lodge, and such a sum of money as may suit the circumstances of the Lodge and reasonably be expected, toward the Grand Charity. Moreover, we hereby will and require you, the said Prince Hall, as soon as conveniently may be, to send an account in writing of what may be done by virtue of these presents.

Given at London, under our hand and seal of Masonry, this 29th day of September, A. L. 5784, A. D. 1784.

"By the Grand Master's Command, R. Holt, D. G. M."
"Witness Wm. White, G. S."
| | | | |

'What a shame that Freemasonry has sunk so low'

A friend recently shared with me a link to a PDF file of a speech given by Nelson King, BF, FPS, Editor of the Philathes Society in May, 2004. The speech discussed the history of the Prince Hall lodges, made up primarily of black Masons. Bro. King explores the many rumors and myths surrounding Prince Hall and Prince Hall Masonry. It is interesting reading about a subject few Masons — white or black — actually know anything about.

What really got my attention in this speech, though, was Bro. King's closing remarks. Sadly, his words ring very, very true. He said:
Over the last number of years it has become my custom to close with the following.

Brethren, I would like all of you to stand now I would like you to turn to the Brother beside you and grasp his hand with the Grip of a Mason.

Now I want you to ask yourself how many Masons would you trust with your life savings, your home, your family's well-being, and even your life, on that Grip.

If you are honest, the answers will be "not many" or "very few" or even "I can count on one hand the number that I would trust." Why even some of you, will say to yourself "not one."

Well, my Brethren, it never used to be like this. What a shame that Freemasonry has sunk so low. It is up to each and every one of you to help bring Freemasonry back to her former glory. Thank you and God Bless.
| | | | | | |

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday the 13th: The darkest day for the Knights Templar

Today is Friday, October 13, 2006, the 699th anniversary of the mass arrests of Jacques de Molay and his Knights Templar by French King Phillipe VI and Pope Clement V, which effectively shut down the open operations of the Knights.

Two weeks ago, I had planned to write a great essay on this event, and publish it here today.

I forgot.

Fortunately, Bro. Greg Stewart at the Masonic Traveler didn't forget, and neither did GrouchoGandhi. Both have written great articles on This Dark Day in History. Don't miss them.

"Jacques de Molay, tu es vengé!"

Image: Many people believe the image on the Shroud of Turin is that of Jacques de Molay, not Jesus. The Shroud has been carbon-dated to about the same time as de Molay's death.

| | | | | |