Sunday, December 31, 2006

Florida Grand Master silences Bro. Tim Bryce

Last year W. Bro. Tim Bryce was ordered by the then-Grand Master of Florida to remove several excellent Masonic websites he was running from the Internet. Bro. Bryce complied, and the world is worse off for their absence.

A few days ago, on St. John the Evangelist's Day (once a day of major importance to Freemasons), the current Florida Grand Master, Robert Trump, ordered Bro. Bryce to stop communicating via email with Masons in other jurisdictions unless he had express written permission from the Grand Master.

On Dec. 27, W. Bro. Trump wrote to W. Bro. Tim, demanding he "cease and desist the distribution of any and all materials, either printed or transmitted, to be used by members of any other Grand Jurisdictions unless prior permission has been obtained by you in writing."

What the hell are they afraid of? What hackneyed powerbase are they trying to maintain? What has Freemasonry become, where a brother cannot communicate with other brothers without "permission"?

Bro. Tim, being a good Mason, is following the dictates of his Grand Lodge, and will no longer be sending out his regular email communications to other Freemasons. Again, the Masonic world is worse off because of the stupid "orders" of a self-serving Grand Master and Grand Lodge.

Freemasonry, once the bastion of free speech, self-improvement and self-knowledge, has shown itself once again to be the stronghold of archaic, petty would-be tyrants.

Below you'll find the letter from M.W. Grand Master Robert Trump to W. Bro. Tim Bryce, and Bro. Tim's reply:
RE: Articles to other Grand Jurisdictions

W:.Timothy L. Bryce,

Find enclosed a copy of a letter from the Grand Lodge of New York and a copy of an email from the Grand Jurisdictions of Iowa and Washington, in reference to materials sent by you to members of those Grand Jurisdictions and their stated concerns. As you can see, when communicating with members of other Grand Jurisdictions, there is a certain protocol to be maintained and proper procedures which must be adhered to.

Chapter 15, Regulation 15.01, Page 171 in our Digest of Masonic Law states, "All Inter-Jurisdictional correspondence shall be sent through the office of the Grand Master, except that request for "Work by Courtesy" to and from other Grand Jurisdictions may be made through the office of the Grand Secretary."

All Grand Jurisdictions have similar regulations to govern all correspondence with their members within their particular Jurisdiction, and your correspondence violates these regulations.

This latest letter from the Grand Lodge of New York and this email from Iowa and Washington are only two of several pieces of correspondence received from other Grand Jurisdictions by our Grand Lodge in the last few months, all of which questions the legality of your correspondence with, and to its members.

Therefore, in order to allow the Grand Lodge of Florida to be in compliance with the rules and regulations of other Grand Jurisdictions, and continue to maintain a good and friendly Fraternal relationship with said Jurisdictions, you are hereby ordered and directed to cease and desist the distribution of any and all materials, either printed or transmitted, to be used by members of any other Grand Jurisdictions unless prior permission has been obtained by you in writing. Also Regulation 15.01 in our Digest of Masonic Law must be adhered to in all future cases.

I firmly rely on your duty and honor as a Master Mason to see that this order is carried out immediately upon receipt of this letter.

With regards,
Robert D. Trump
Grand Master

RW Martin A. Danoff, GM/NY
RW Gilbert Savitsky GLNY
RW Robert P. Harry, Jr., DGM
RW Joe A. Fleites, SGW
RW Dale I. Goehrig, JGW
MW Roy Conner Sheppart, PGM&GS
RW David A. Henderson, DDGM-21
MW Richard E. Lynn, PGM/Chairman, Jurisprudence

December 30, 2006

M:.W:.Robert D. Trump
Grand Master,
MW Grand Lodge of F.& A.M. of Florida
East Palatka, FL 32131

Dear Bro. Trump,

I am in receipt of your letter of December 27, 2006 to "cease and desist the distribution of any and all materials, either printed or transmitted, to be used by members of any other Grand Jurisdictions unless prior permission has been obtained by you in writing."

As you know, I was ordered last year to cease and desist producing all Masonic publications, which I complied with. Since then I have written several Masonic articles aimed at improving the fraternity, all of which I make freely available to anyone who wants to publish them (except Florida). To this end, I include the following statement in my articles:

"NOTE: The opinions expressed in this essay are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of any Grand Masonic jurisdiction or any other Masonic related body. 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:

Reprinted by permission of the author and "FreeMason Information""

Accordingly, I have received numerous requests over the last year to reprint my articles in Masonic publications which I have granted. I have also been asked on several occasions by Florida Lodges to use my work, all of which I have denied. To this end, I believe I am already in compliance with your order.

Since I no longer operate any Masonic publication, I have no control over the physical publication of my articles, nor do I seek such control due to the censorship ruling by your predecessor. I would like to mention here that I have not received or charged one penny for any of these articles. Also, I do not discuss anything that could be construed as Masonically secret.

2007 represents my 10th year as a Mason. During the past several years, I have been in contact with Masons from around the world via the Internet. When a work of mine is published, I send out a notice to my contacts that it is now available and where on the Internet they can find it. I believe it is this notification you are referring to in your letter of December 27th. When I broadcast an e-mail message of the availability of my articles, I include the following statement:


Further, I do not charge anyone for these notifications or solicit any money for doing so. In addition to the notification, I include links to Masonic News stories as published on the Internet.

As per your order, I will cancel the weekly e-mail broadcasts and will notify my contacts accordingly.

However, I need some clarification: Do you mean to say that I can no longer communicate with a Mason outside of Florida? Please understand that I monitor obituaries in the Tampa Bay area, and when I come across a Brother who has passed away in our area from another jurisdiction, I notify the Grand Secretary of that jurisdiction and the Brother's home Lodge (if I can find them) of the passing. This is greatly appreciated by all involved. By your order, I assume I am no longer allowed to do this.

I also assume your order applies to all other Florida Masons and that I am not being singled out and discriminated against. In other words, no other Florida Mason should be making e-mail broadcasts or contacting Masons outside of our jurisdiction without the expressed written approval of the Grand Master or Grand Secretary. For example, I am on the e-mailing list of some of your District Deputies who forward to me your own weekly e-mail message. I did not ask to be placed on these lists but have not registered an objection yet. Nonetheless, I believe the Craft should be formally informed of your policy regarding e-mail in order to avoid any other embarrassments to the Grand Lodge.

My Masonic writings are something I do personally and have nothing whatsoever to do with my business, M. Bryce & Associates, a division of M&JB Investment Company. Any attempt to interfere with my business will be resisted by all legal means. I am beginning to believe there is a premeditated attempt by the Grand Lodge of Florida to interfere with my rights under the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Brother Bob, we have known each other for many years now, back to when you were State Chairman for the Grand Master's Charity where I built a web page to assist you. Since then, I have fully cooperated with you and have always been honest with you. I do not believe you can accuse me otherwise. It is for this reason that I am surprised and disappointed that you thought so little of me as to send me your letter as opposed to picking up the telephone to discuss the problem. From my end, it appears there are other forces at work here driving your decision.

Sincerely & Fraternally,

Tim Bryce, PM, MPS
Photo: W. Bro. Tim Bryce, PM, MPS

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Mary and the Widow's Son, and from these Chipmunk wannabes.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Lay down your gun and have some fun: Global Orgasm for Peace, Dec. 22

This article first appeared on on November 30.

Maybe the chill of winter won't bother you on December 22 if you participate in the Global Orgasm for Peace. Two peace activists/aging hippies are promoting this Day of Action as a massive anti-war demonstration on the first day of winter.

No need to march. Just stay at home and have a Big O. Or two. Or however many you can muster.

The Global Orgasm for Peace was conceived by Donna Sheehan, 76, and Paul Reffell, 55, who want everyone in the world to have an orgasm Dec. 22 while focusing on world peace.

"The orgasm gives out an incredible feeling of peace during it and after it," Reffell said. "Your mind is like a blank. It's like a meditative state. And mass meditations have been shown to make a change."

By promoting what they hope to be a synchronized global orgasm, they hope to get people to channel their sexual energy into something more positive.

The couple said interest appears strong, with 26,000 hits a day to their Web site,

Lay down your guns.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Is the 'Diamond Cutter' a Masonic symbol?

I'm not a fan of urban hip-hop music, nor of professional wrestling, so it's no surprise I'm only slightly familiar with rapper Jay-Z, or that I've never heard of pro wrestler Diamond Dallas Page before now.

Jay-Z, CEO and president of Def Jam and Roc-A-Fella recording companies as well as part-owner of the New Jersey Nets NBA basketball team, has recently heard from wrestler-turned-actor Page, though, through his attorneys, according to MTV News. Page is claiming that Jay-Z has misappropriated and used improperly Page's "trademarked" hand gesture, and is suing over trademark and copyright infringement.

Page, a pro wrestler since 1991, apparently uses as part of his stage persona a hand gesture that consists of putting his hands together into the shape of a diamond or triangle, touching his thumbs together and his index fingers together. The gesture, which Page calls the "Diamond Cutter," looks to me like what I've seen dozens of stage magicians do at one time or another.

What got my attention in an article about the case on the Memphis Rap website was this line: "The symbol is most common amongst the Freemasonry fraternity and other groups."

Anyone seen this symbol in a lodge? And if so, then can Masons claim that Diamond Dallas Page and Jay-Z are both misusing a Freemasonic trademark? What about all those other Masonic due guards, signs and symbols? Someone somewhere is bound to be using them, accidentally or purposefully, improperly. Can we claim trademark rights to the Eye in the Pyramid on the back of dollar bills? How about the very name "Freemasons," now used by an electronica/house music act from England?

Trademark lawsuits and licensing agreements could become goldmines for small lodges looking for new income streams. It would sure beat sitting up all night making barbecue to sell as a fundraiser.

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

'Change your thoughts and you change your world'

Last Tuesday, for the first time since the last election night 12 months ago, I attended a Masonic lodge meeting. I went to the Stated Communication of my home lodge, on election night.

There were a few fresh faces — a couple of new guys who appeared to be around 30 or younger — and many of the old faces I'd known for years. Some of the older guys seemed to have aged quite a bit, several were now home sick, and one had been put into a nursing home....

Most of the men greeted me warmly, as I did them. One — in his shiny suit and gold chain — did his best to avoid direct eye contact or having to speak to me. He stumbled as he zigzagged around a brother and me having a conversation in the vestibule.

One brother asked "Where ya been?" and I answered, "Learning to subdue my passions," which got a chuckle out of all those within earshot.

The meeting was the same as it ever was... some of the officers knew their opening lines, others (who had been in office since last December) still giggled and fumbled their way through the ritual.

The same Past Masters sat on the sidelines, talking too loudly to each other throughout the opening, mostly telling each other that one of the officers should have said this instead of that.

The opening prayer by a chaplain I didn't recognize was long, filled with faux emotion in the style common to fundamentalist church-goers around here. I'm sure I was the only one there who thought it unmasonic or even unusual, the prayer pleading with and begging Jesus-God-Father-Lord (every fourth word was one of those names) to save our souls, heal our bodies, and make us "ever humble in Thy sight," etc., etc. The prayer closed with a thunderous evocation of "in JEE-zuz PRECIOUS and HOLY name! Amen!" and we all sat down.

Before I knew it, just like every other meeting at this lodge I'd ever been to, "applications for relief" turned into men standing up and reciting a long list of ailments, maladies and diseases of everyone they knew, with a request that the rest of us "remember him in your prayers."

Finally, a break was called so everyone could smoke, go to the restroom, and/or put donations for "higher education" into a basket.

If you're not a Mason, you may not know this... but the above description is pretty much what all Masonic meetings are like, at least in the South. Unless there is a new candidate to be initiated, passed or raised, or an election (once a year), that's pretty much it for Masonry until next meeting. Except when the Gold Chain Guys show up to promote the Grand Master's "program for the year." The pretend humbleness is always interesting to watch.

I left at the break, as did several of the regulars. Masonic elections are never exciting. Campaigning, electioneering, or even saying you want an officer's position are against the rules. I left before they voted, yet I would bet $1000 that I know who was elected to every chair. The name of the man that "should be" elected to a particular office is whispered down the line as each vote takes place. I don't know why it's called an "election," or why they bother.

The most amazing thing to me about my attendance at this lodge meeting was this: I don't care anymore. I'm at peace with it. I see what's wrong, wish it would change, tried to change it, but don't care anymore if it does or if it doesn't. As some of my more enlightened friends say to me from time to time, "it is what it is."

The majority of the men in my lodge think that is what Masonry is — opening a lodge, saying a prayer, pledging allegiance to a flag, sharing all the details of his or his neighbor's recent surgery or illness, tossing a dollar in a basket, occasionally watching a new guy join (900 out of 1000 new members will stop attending within two months of joining, 90 will keep coming but never learn much about Masonry, and then there's that one in a thousand who will try to effect change from within, be beat down, and then start a blog like I did, or start a whole new Grand Lodge, like the UGLA has), closing the lodge and going home. Maybe their joy is in just being there, basking in the brotherhood or experiencing the sameness of it all, year after year.

Good for them. Good for you. Enjoy it, brethren. I wish you well.

I paid my dues. Figuratively as well as literally. I'm current. I'm legit. I'm "in good standing." I'm a Mason, a Freemason, and will always be. I remember my obligations, and I'm here if you need help.

Maybe writing this blog for the past 15 months really has helped me learn to subdue my passions, or at least get past my anger at what happened in 2005. I've often focused here on the bad things about Masonry — hypocrisy, lying, fraud, financial misdealings, backstabbing — and there is much wrong with Freemasonry today.

But just as you can't change the world unless you change yourself... you can't change Freemasonry without changing yourself.

I'm changing. A change in me will be reflected in a change in this blog, in Freemasonry, and in the world. I hope it's a change for the better.

"Change your thoughts and you change your world." — Bro. Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993)

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Oath-taking: Does it matter what Volume of Sacred Law you use?

In Masonic lodges, an opened "Volume of Sacred Law" always rests upon the Holy Altar when a lodge is at labor. In the United States, most often this book is the Holy Bible, but it is not a requirement. Some lodges may use other holy books from the Jewish or Muslim or other religion. Candidates for admission to Freemasonry may choose the Volume of Sacred Law they wish to take their oaths upon.

Sometimes we hear of lodges refusing to allow a non-Christian to use the book of his choice, and sometimes, a non-Christian candidate will for the sake of "peace and harmony" take his oath on a book that doesn't genuinely reflect his religious faith.

Congressman-elect Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota, recently announced that he intends to take his Congressional oath of office on the Koran, the Volume of Sacred Law of the Muslim faith.

Conservatives are aghast. Right-wing columnist and radio talkshow host Dennis Prager has posted a rambling, anti-Muslim diatribe about Ellison's decision, making a mountain out of what should be a molehill. Allowing Ellison to take his oath on the book of his choice, Prager says, will undermine "American civilization."

He bemoans: "[W]hy are we allowing Keith Ellison to do what no other member of Congress has ever done — choose his own most revered book for his oath?" The title of Prager's essay is "America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on," which would lead one to believe their are oath-taking rules or something in the Constitution that requires Congressmen to take an oath upon the Bible, when in fact there is no such rule.

There is no such rule or Constitutional mandate. In fact, Article VI of the Constitution of the United States says that members of Congress, state legislatures and all executive and judicial officers "shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

According to an editorial in the Hartford (Conn.) Courant, "John Quincy Adams held a law book and a copy of the Constitution at his oath-taking. Theodore Roosevelt didn't use any book. In Congress, at least one lawmaker carried the Book of Mormon, while others have brought along their Hebrew Bible."

The taking of any oath is a personal matter, and is not only a binding obligation to whatever organization one is taking a leadership role with (Masonic or Congressional), but is an obligation taken before one's own God, however the oath-taker defines his God. The book — if any — one takes an oath upon is matter of personal choice, not organizational mandate.

Prager is way off base in his anti-Muslim, America-love-it-or-leave-it rant.

Bro. Carl Claudy, who authored hundreds of short "Old Tiler's Talks" during the 1920s-1940s, wrote this interesting tale called "Book on the Altar."

"I heard the most curious tale," began the New Brother seating himself beside the Old Tiler during refreshment.

"Shoot!" commanded the Old Tiler.

"Friend of mine belongs to a midwest lodge. Seems they elected a chap to become a member but when he took the degree he stopped the work to ask for the Koran in place of the Bible on the Altar. Said he wanted the holy book of his faith, and the Bible wasn't it!"

"Yes, go on," prompted the Old Tiler. "What did they do?"

"The officers held a pow-wow and the Master finally decided that as the ritual demanded the 'Holy Bible, Square and Compasses' as furniture for the lodge, the applicant was wrong and that he'd have to use the Bible or not take his degree. And the funny part was that the initiate was satisfied and took his degree with the Bible on the Altar.

"I'm glad they have him, and not this lodge."


"Why, a chap who backs down that way can't have very much courage; I'd have had more respect for him if he'd insisted and if he couldn't have his way, refused to go on with the degree."

"All wrong, brother, all wrong!" commented the Old Tiler. "The Mohammedan initiate wasn't concerned about himself but about the lodge. He showed a high degree of Masonic principle in asking for his own holy book, and a great consideration for the lodge. This man isn't a Christian. He doesn't believe in Christ. He believes in Allah, and Mohammed his prophet. The Bible, to you a holy book, is to him no more than the Koran is to you. You wouldn't regard an obligation taken on a dictionary or a cookbook or a Koran as binding, in the same degree that you would one taken on the Bible.

"That's the way this chap felt. He wanted to take his obligation so that it would bind his conscience. The Master would not let him, because he slavishly followed the words of the ritual instead of the spirit of Masonry.

"Masonry does not limit an applicant to his choice of a name for a Supreme Being. I can believe in Allah, or Buddha, or Confucius, or Mithra, or Christ, or Siva, or Brahma, or Jehovah, and be a good Mason. If I believe in a Great Architect that is all Masonry demands; my brethren do not care what I name Him."

"Then think you this chap isn't really obligated? I must write my friend and warn him-"

"Softly, softly! Any man with enough reverence for Masonry, in advance of knowledge of it, to want his own holy book on which to take an obligation would feel himself morally obligated to keep his word, whether there was his, another's or no holy book at all, on the Altar. An oath is not really binding because of the book beneath your
hand. It is the spirit with which you assume an obligation which makes it binding. The book is but a symbol that you make your promise in the presence of the God you revere. The cement of brotherly love which we spread is not material-the working tools of a Master Mason are not used upon stone but upon human hearts. Your brother did his best to conform to the spirit of our usages in asking for the book he had been taught to revere. Failing in that through no fault of his own, doubtless he took his obligation with a sincere belief in its sacredness. Legally he would not be considered to commit perjury if he asked for his own book and was forced to use another."

"What's the law got to do with it?"

"Just nothing at all, which is the point I make. In England and America, Canada and South America, Australia, and part of the Continent, the Bible is universally used. In Scottish Rite bodies you will find many holy books; but let me ask you this; when our ancient brethren met on hills and in valleys, long before Christ, did they use the New Testament on their altars? Of course not; there was none. You can say that they used the Old Testament and I can say they used a Talmud and someone else can say they used none at all, and all of us are as right as the other. But they used a reverence for sacred things.

"If you write your friend, you might tell him that the ritual which permits a man to name his God as he pleases, but demands that a book which reveres one particular God be used, is faulty. The ritual of Masonry is faulty; it was made by man. But the spirit of Masonry is divine; it comes from men's hearts. If obligation and books and names of the Deity are matters of the spirit, every condition is satisfied. If I were Master and an applicant demanded any one or any six books on which to lay his hand while he pledged himself to us, I'd get them if they were to be had, and I'd tell my lodge what a reverent Masonic spirit was in the man who asked."

"Seems to me you believe in a lot of funny things; how many gods do you believe in?"

"There is but one," was the Old Tiler's answer. "Call Him what you will. Let me repeat a little bit of verse for you:

"'At the Meuzzin's call for prayer
The kneeling faithful thronged the square;
Amid a monastery's weeds,
An old Franciscan told his beads,
While on Pushkara's lofty height
A dark priest chanted Brahma's might,
While to the synagogue there came
A Jew, to praise Jehovah's Name.
The One Great God looked down and smiled
And counted each His loving child;
For Turk and Brahmin, monk and Jew
Had reached Him through the gods they knew.

"If we reach Him in Masonry, it makes little difference by what sacred name we arrive," finished the Old Tiler, reverently.

"You've reached me, anyhow," said the New Brother, shaking hands as if he meant it.

Thanks to The Blue Herald for the heads-up on this controversy.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Vatican reiterates stance against Freemasonry: "You'll go to Hell"

The Vatican has upheld Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz's decision 10 years ago that membership in Call to Action, a Catholic group founded in 1976 to examine and change certain church doctrines, "is totally incompatible with the Catholic faith" and results in automatic excommunication.

The Nov. 24 letter to the Lincoln bishop, made public today by Catholic Online, from Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops, to Bishop Bruskewitz said that his 1996 ruling "was properly taken within your competence as pastor of that diocese."

Cardinal Re was one of the electors of the new pope last year, and was himself considered for the position.

Bruskewitz's original ruling said that membership in the group Call to Action, or in 10 other unacceptable groups, would result in automatic excommunication. The other groups include Masons and organizations related to Freemasonry, such as Job's Daughters and Rainbow Girls, groups for young female relatives of Masons, and the Order of the Eastern Star, an organization for Masons and their adult female relatives.

"Parents have to tell children that they can't test everything in the medicine cabinet or drink everything under the sink," the bishop explained. "The church is our mother and gives us these instructions as protection against dangers we might not perceive.... It is liberating, not enslaving."

The bishop said he hopes people affected by his ruling will remedy their situations without delay.

"The Lord loves everyone and died for everyone, and he wants all to be saved," he said. "The best lesson that can be learned from everything that has happened is that one finds happiness, joy and satisfaction in obedience to the church." [Emphasis mine (W.S.)]

Image: Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops

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Monday, December 04, 2006

The Crazy Years

Science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein often mentioned the "Crazy Years" in his stories when writing about alternative timelines. It's been obvious for quite a while that we're living in those Crazy Years.

The following anonymously-authored piece was sent to me by a friend, and has nothing to do with Heinlein. But it is certainly indicative that we are indeed living in those Crazy Years he often alluded to. For all the craziness of the 1960s and 1970s, they were serene compared to today. What a difference a generation makes.

Scenario: Jack pulls into school parking lot with rifle in gun rack.

1973 — Vice Principal comes over, takes a look at Jack's rifle, goes to his car and gets his to show Jack.

2006 — School goes into lockdown, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

1973 — Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best friends. Nobody goes to jail, nobody arrested, nobody expelled.

2006 — Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario: Jeffrey won't be still in class, disrupts other students.

1973 — Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by Principal. Sits still in class.

2006 — Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his father's car and his Dad gives him a whupping.

1973 — Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.

2006 — Billy's Dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. Billy's sister is told by state psychologist that she remembers being abused herself and their Dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.

Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some headache medicine to school.

1973 — Mark shares headache medicine with Principal out on the smoking dock.

2006 — Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario: Mary turns up pregnant.

1973 — Five high school boys leave town. Mary does her senior year at a special school for expectant mothers.

2006 — Middle School Counselor calls Planned Parenthood, who notifies the ACLU. Mary is driven to the next state over and gets an abortion without her parent's consent or knowledge. Mary given condoms and told to be more careful next time.

Scenario: Pedro fails high school English.

1973 — Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.

2006 — Pedro's cause is taken up by state Democratic party. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he can't speak English.

Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.

1973 — Ants die.

2006 — BATF, Homeland Security, & FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny's Dad goes on a terror watch list and is banned from all commercial flights.

Scenario: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Teacher hugs him to comfort him.

1973 — In a short time Johnny feels better and goes on playing.

2006 — Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.

Image: A simpler time?

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Conspiracy theories for fun and entertainment

I found an amusing little conspiracy theory article recently that might have a kernel of truth among the wacky theories.

Which one do you think is most likely to be true?

• California is poised to become the battleground for a new race war between Anglos and Latinos, with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as the "generals" of each side.

Seinfeld actor Michael Richards is, in fact, a high officer in a particularly racist branch of the Freemasons called "White Masonry."

• A central motive behind the 9/11 attacks is one of the plot devices in the new James Bond flick "Casino Royale."

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The Masonic Wiki Wars

Wiki Wars are nothing new. They've become commonplace, especially in the political arena, and politicians and their supporters are constantly re-writing history on the World Wide Web's most popular source of "facts," the open-source written-by-the-public encyclopedia Wikipedia.

The fledgling United Grand Lodge of America, formed in December, 2005 by Free-Masons generally fed up with the state of "mainstream" Freemasonry in the southern United States, recently created an entry describing their history, goals and raison d'etre on Wikipedia.

Within hours, someone not affiliated with the UGLA had erased everything that had been written, and replaced the entry with a poorly written and generally inaccurate diatribe against the UGLA.

A UGLA member replaced it with the original entry, and again, the self-appointed anti-UGLA expert deleted it and put up his own negative piece.

The unknown anti-UGLA writer (if you can call his entry writing) supports his weak comments about the UGLA with but two links as sources, one to the official UGLA website and one to Bro. Ed King's website.

Some UGLA brothers think the mystery writer could be Bro. King himself. Bro. King is a self-appointed online Masonic "Know It All." Or for all I know, he's been officially recognized as such by some Masonic group. (Some Masons seem to love giving each other plaques and certificates.) Bro. King's website,, which claims to have been online for at least eight years, contains several inaccurate references to the United Grand Lodge of America, including calling its members "expelled Masons," which they are not. To my knowledge, members of the UGLA consist of demitted Masons, of Masons who were "erased" from their blue lodge and Scottish Rite temples without trial, and of Masons who still also hold membership in mainstream Antient blue lodges.

Bro. King has devoted a page on his website to discuss the UGLA. His stance is nearly identical to the one shown in the anti-UGLA article that keeps reappearing on Wikipedia.

I personally know many UGLA members, and have since before the UGLA was founded. Yet I'd never presume to be an expert on the organization. I'd certainly never hold myself up as someone who was competent to write an encyclopedia article about them.

Only someone authorized by the group itself should be writing an information article about the group.

If whoever is behind the recurring adulteration of the Wikipedia entry wants to write articles debunking or ridiculing the United Grand Lodge of America, that is fine. That's what your own website or blog is for.

But using an encylopedia to bash your opponents is just tacky, and definitely unmasonic. I call upon whoever is repeatedly changing the Wikipedia entry to stop his childish activity.

Incidently, as of this writing, Bro. Ed King's own blog, the egocentrically-named "Masonic Musings from ME!", hasn't been updated since August 10, 2006.

Here's the rather weak entry (typos and grammatical errors included) on the UGLA that someone keeps replacing the official entry with:
The United Grand Lodge of America is an unrecognized body of Freemasonry, aimed at practicing the Modern's version of Freemasonry. It's [sic] stated mission is "the Brotherhood of All Mankind under the All-Seeing Eye of Deity through Universal Tolerance and the enlightenment of humanity."

[1] One of the main differences between this orginization and Mainstream masonry is that the UGLA is willing to recognize all masonic and non-masonic bodies, not believing in the ideal of recognition. However, the UGLA has failed to receive any recognition from any other body dealing or not dealing with any concepts of accepted freemasonry.


The United Grand Lodge of America was formed by expelled masons on December 27th, 2005.[1] While it is uncertain the specific individuals that formed this fraternity, it is known that the individuals decided upon it's [sic] creation after being expelled from Freemasonry for various reasons. These individuals felt wronged by the Grand Lodge system and sought to form a orginization [sic] not relying on hierarchy.[2]

Conflicting Ideals

While the UGLA was founded by ex-masons, it's [sic] ideals are conflicting with current F&AMasons and AF&AMasons. These conflicts are listed below:

1)The UGLA was not chartered by any existing Grand Lodge, or any recognized group of Blue Lodges.

2)The UGLA is seeking the disappearance of the current Grand Lodge system, and have all blue lodges report to one Grand Lodge; current freemasonry is sovereign to each state.

3)The UGLA is not recognized by any masonic body, therefore any of it's [sic] members will not be recognized by the regular Masonic bodies found throughout the world.

4)The UGLA does not have the support base or historical credibility such as the current Freemasonry orginization. [sic]

See Also

UGLA Home Page
Masonic Info Home Page
Lodge Room US


1. United Grand Lodge Home Page, December 27th, 2005

2., United GL of America
And here's a recent version of the Wikipedia entry the United Grand Lodge of America posted itself:
The formation of the United Grand Lodge of America of Accepted Free-Masons represents a return to the principles of the Grand Lodge of 1717 and the true spirit of the "Modern" Speculative Free-Masonry. Our mission is the Brotherhood of All Mankind under the All-Seeing Eye of Deity through Universal Tolerance and the enlightenment of humanity. The Grand Lodge represents a confederation of sovereign Lodges composed of Free-Masons dedicated to the Royal Art.

We welcome all honorable men and Free-Masons from around the world, regardless of Masonic affiliation, race, or religion, into our Lodges for we truly believe that a man is first made a Free-Mason in his heart and that no institution can judge this sublime act of the Creator. Every man and Free-Mason must be judged by his own individual merits as a brother and a fellow human being. For far too long Free-Masons have allowed petty Grand Lodge politics to separate and divide them. If our message to the world is "brotherhood" then we must first reestablish the same within Free-Masonry and exemplify it before all mankind.

The United Grand Lodge of America was founded on December 27th, 2005 by Masonic representatives from several states who perceived a growing necessity for reform within the American Craft. These honorable brothers put their oaths, taken before the Creator, above their own personal comfort and security because they felt a greater obligation to fulfill their promises to both God and the Craft.

If you are new to Modern Free-Masonry you may want to visit Modern Free-Masons at

Mission & Ideals

Free-Masonry is a doorway through which one can pass that leads to a Speculative Science that teaches a Peculiar System of Morality through the use of allegory and symbol. This, however, is not its ultimate aim. A man who rightly understands the Art is forever changed from within through coming to a true understanding of Charity (loving kindness). It is at this moment that he perceives the divine in all things and how we are all the children of one great Father.

The mission of Modern Free-Masonry is the Brotherhood of All Mankind under the All-Seeing Eye of Deity through Universal Tolerance and the enlightenment of humanity. Free-Masonry for the sake of itself is devoid of meaning and purpose. Many Masonic organizations have lost sight of the divinely inspired goal of the Craft, and have attempted to turn Free-Masonry into nothing more than a social club and philanthropy. The effect of this is apparent throughout the Craft today as the eternal Light grows ever dimmer within it.

For most organizations, whether Masonic or other, their main priority is self-perpetuation. They establish rules and guidelines which they believe will ensure their survival. Therefore it would seem that our first priority should be to ensure the survival of the United Grand Lodge of America or Free-Masonry itself. This, however, is inconsistent with Masonic philosophy. We view service to the Deity as our number one priority followed closely by service to mankind. The survival of Free-Masonry is the result of the performance of our duties and obligations to both God and man.

While politicians and military leaders draw lines on the globe to separate and divide men, we build bridges to unite them in Peace, Love, and Harmony.

The mission of the United Grand Lodge of America is to create, for the first time on our shores, a single, unified Grand Lodge for all Free-Masons dedicated to preserving and extending the benefits of Modern Free-Masonry throughout the United States of America. Our Grand Lodge is dedicated to restoring the ancient Craft ritual first used by the original Modern Free-Masons at the dawn of the 18th century. In promoting this ritual, we seek to restore the original teachings of Free-Masonry of that peculiar system of morality that leads to an understanding that we are all part of a brotherhood of man under the universal eye of Deity. We have reinstated Masonic education to its proper place as the primary work of Free-Masonry. To prevent the abuses that infect other grand lodges, we are organized as a decentralized and democratic confederation of sovereign and independent lodges.


During the Masonic schism (1751-1813) between the Grand Lodges of the ‘Moderns’ and the ‘Antients’ the concept of Masonic recognition was introduced into Free-Masonry. Each Grand Lodge claimed that only those Lodges and Masons recognized by them were truly Masonic. Thus Lodges and Masons under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of the ‘Antients’ were considered clandestine by the Grand Lodge of the ‘Moderns,’ with the same being true for the Grand Lodge of the ‘Antients.’ Needless to say the concept of “recognition” served the political aims of the Grand Lodges while dividing individual Free-Masons into separate camps.

The most unfortunate result of the schism between these two Grand Lodges was that the concept of recognition was carried forward by future generations of Free-Masons and used by Grand Lodges to divide men who would otherwise have no natural animosity towards one another.

The concept of “recognition” is, in itself, un-Masonic and against the primary aim of Free-Masonry – the Brotherhood of all mankind under the All-Seeing Eye of Deity. The concept of recognition is made possible only when men agree to place their loyalty to an organization above what they owe to both God and their fellow human beings. Thus Free-Masons engaged in such a practice have abandoned the concept of the brotherhood of man and replaced it with the brotherhood of the chosen. In many respects this is no different than the Nazis or the KKK. The Grand Lodges will decide who are the perfect and chosen men and out of blind loyalty Free-Masons must agree or be punished.

From the time of the great schism between the ‘Moderns’ and the ‘Antients’ the concept of recognition has been used to discriminate against men. The English have used it to denounce the French and the Anglo-Americans have used it to denigrate their African American counterparts. All of this was done in the name of Free-Masonry, a fraternity founded upon the principle of brotherly love.

The founders of the United Grand Lodge of America have wisely prohibited it from engaging in the process known as “Recognition” through constitutional law. In this they reference the Charges of a Free-Mason by James Anderson (1723):

"...we being only, as Masons, of the Universal Religion above mention'd, we are also of all Nations, Tongues, Kindreds, and Languages... if you discover him to be a true and genuine Brother, you are to respect him accordingly"

Further, they have firmly established God and the brotherhood of man as the basis for all Masonic law. The Grand Lodge cannot enact any rule or regulation that would divide men and/or Free-Masons because it goes against the primary aim of Free-Masonry (the brotherhood of man), and because it violates the universally accepted idea that God created all men equal.

The United Grand Lodge of America opens its doors to all men regardless of Race, Religion, or Masonic Affiliation and seeks to unite them into one great brotherhood under God.

Resources 1. United Grand Lodge of America 2. The Modern Freemasonic Journal 3. The Grand Lodge At York
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Julbock the Christmas goat

Maybe he's the pagan Pan, maybe he's the universal scapegoat, maybe he's that mysterious creature Masons ride, or maybe he's just ticked off because he didn't get a front-row seat at the Manger Scene... whoever he is, he's one of the oldest Christmas characters around, probably pre-dating Christmas by hundreds of years.

He's the Julbock, the Yule Goat, a tradition in Scandanavia for centuries, and in Bishop Hill, Illinois, at least since the town was founded in 1846.

Today, a man plays the impish goat, popping out from behind corners, trees and windowes to bop passers-by on the head with a bouquet of dried flowers or just scare them silly. I imagine him as Ernest T. Bass, only with goat horns.

In the past, the Julbock was the bringer of gifts to the Midwest's Scandinavian-American children, but eventually, Christians complained about the Julbock's pagan heritage, and so he was slowly demoted to, basically, a Christmas elf or gnome. Eventually, he became in many places known by a new name, Jultomte, and with a new purpose. His job was to protect farmers' homes and barns while they slept, and to pay him, a bowl of porridge was left under the porch on Christmas Eve.

It's not just coincidence that the astrological month of Capricorn the Goat begins on December 22, the first day of winter in the northern hemisphere and just three days before Christmas.

Image: The goat Julbock with the elf Tomten, delivering presents. Courtesy

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