Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Truth about the "Antients" and the "Moderns"

The Truth about the "Antients" and the "Moderns" by Bro. Jeff Peace

For many Freemasons the schism between the "Moderns"’ and the "Antients" is a thing of the remote past. Most believe that it was over the usage of the secret passwords used during the degrees and never give it any further consideration. Looking back does it seem reasonable that the entire Masonic organization would have splintered in two over something so simple? Is it possible that there was something much deeper taking place — something as shrouded in secrecy today as it was two hundred and fifty years ago?

As a historian it is my job to ask such probing questions and, if possible, attept to uncover the answers. Much of the written history of Freemasonry was written by men who could only speculate upon the details because they had little, if any, material from the early period of Freemasonry from which to work. Oliver, Mackey, Pike, Hall, and Wilmshurst were forced to work from the material they had available at the time they wrote their famous works. Serious Masonic scholarship wouldn't begin until the 1960's with the scholarly works of Yates. Today Masons have more accurate material to work with than at any other point in Masonic history. In 2002 the Russian government returned thousands of manuscripts, stolen by the Nazis in World War II, to their rightful owners in Paris and the Netherlands. This is original material from the eighteenth century when Freemasonry first began. It is from these documents that any serious history of the conflict between the "Moderns"' and the "Antients" must be derived.

The purpose of this paper isn't to discover who was right and who was wrong, but to discover the details of what ultimately led to the schism. It is believed that the schism came to an end with the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813, when the two opposing Grand Lodges merged. This, however, may not necessarily be entirely accurate.

The "Moderns" are typically portrayed as elitists and the "Antients" as commoners. This has led to the belief that the "Moderns" were composed primarily of educated men, and the "Antients" were uneducated peasants and soldiers. On the surface this does indeed appear to be true, but when we look through the membership rolls of the "Antients" we discover the names of many educated men as well as those of certain members of the nobility. This begs the question "could this schism have really been over secret passwords and the refusal of some 'Modern' lodges to admit Irish Masons?" The available evidence suggests something far deeper. Before evaluating the evidence we need to take a brief look at the merger of 1813 and the changes in society that led up to it.

The philosophical movement that led to the birth of Freemasonry is commonly referred to as the Enlightenment. This movement was built upon the ideas passed down to it by philosophers from the Age of Reason: men such as Sir Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes, and Benedict Spinoza. The Enlightenment is characterized by the abandoning of faith for reason. The concepts of human rights, modern democracy and the equality of people were given birth to during this period. Science and mathematics went from being heresies and forms of magic to legitimate disciplines at the universities.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century there was a reaction within society led by certain minor philosophers of the Counter-Enlightenment such as F. H. Jacobi. Jacobi is usually closely associated with the Romantic movement and their opposition to the Enlightenment concept of sufficient reason. Sufficient reason is where all things can be explained through scientific inquiry and logic. The Romantics saw this as a form of determinism that effectively removed the concept of freedom of will.

The merger of the two Grand Lodges takes place at a point in history where the ideas of the Enlightenment were falling victim to the moral fears of the Romantics. It is also worth noting that the "Antients" had far more lodges than the "Moderns" and out numbered them in Masons significantly. I think it is safe to say that "Moderns" simply gave up their quest to continue with their Enlightenment-based ideas.

So what exactly did the "Moderns" hope to accomplish? What were the differences that separated these two groups of Freemasons? In short, it was moral philosophy. The "Moderns" taught that the Great Architect of the Universe was eminent in his creation while the "Antients" taught that he was transcendent and not even involved in the creation. To the "Moderns" the deity was ever present and beyond good and evil. To the "Antients" the Cosmos was the creation of a demiergos and the deity was altogether transcendent of both the demiergos and the Cosmos because all physical matter was unclean and/or evil.

Ultimately, the argument would come down to a debate over the ideas of Benedict Spinoza versus those of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. The "Moderns" viewed Spinoza's Geometrical Morality as the key to uniting mankind into one great universal brotherhood. The "Antients" saw this as pure heresy and adopted Leibniz as their patron saint because of his open opposition to Spinoza and his support of Judeo-Christian cosmology. By the time of the merger in 1813 Jacobi and the Romantics were also ardent supporters of Leibniz.

Throughout the nineteenth century the "Antients" flourished around the globe, but more especially in the United States. Then, in 1905, a previously unknown scientist shook the world with a radical new view of the universe. Albert Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity ended once and for all the debate over Leibniz's cosmology. In one brief moment of history the entire philosophy of the "Antients" was rendered incorrect. When Einstein was asked whether or not he believed in god, his reply was "In Spinoza's god."

The early "Moderns" had been right in their beliefs but it would take almost 200 years to prove it. Unfortunately, for both humanity and Freemasonry the "Antients" had nothing of value to offer in Einstein's new cosmology. It was at this point that Freemasonry was set adrift on a high sea without a guiding star. The philosophy and symbolism of the "Moderns" had been lost and forgotten. In 1949 things begin to look better for Freemasonry in America. It was the beginning of the Age of Social fraternities, and Freemasonry had the Shrine. Finally, after fifty years of wandering aimlessly the "Antients" had found something they could sell and people would buy. The Shrine reigned supreme up until the 1960's when social fraternities began to fade. At the beginning of the 21st century Freemasonry had declined to less than fifty percent of what it had once been.

On December 27th, 2005 a new Grand Lodge was formed based upon the principles and ideas of the "Moderns." The United Grand Lodge of America is dedicated to continuing the pursuit of the brotherhood of all mankind through the same peculiar system of Geometrical Morality envisioned by the "Moderns" of 1717. The United Grand Lodge of America offers a unique form of natural philosophy, the same as that of Thomas Jefferson. It supports a progressive scientific agenda believing that through knowledge and understanding mankind can overcome the many obstacles it faces today. The United Grand Lodge of America isn't your grandfather's Freemasonry; it is the Freemasonry of the 21st century.

— Bro. Jeff Peace

Image: Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677)

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Burning Taper blog named "Link of the Month"

We were notified yesterday by that the Burning Taper has been selected to be their "Link of the Month" for June, 2006. You can see the Burning Taper link prominently displayed in the upper left corner of each of their pages.

Their webmaster wrote to us:
Dear Brother,

Your website have been selected as "Link of the Month" for June at

Congratulations for your great job.

Fraternal regards,

Robert Moray

Thank you, Brother Robert. We are honored that you have noticed our Work, and we greatly appreciate the honor you have given us.

Not familiar with Check them out. It's a group of Masons from all over the world, who have bonded together to create a truly unique Masonic website.

Here's their "About Us" page:
We are freemasons. Freemasons coming from everywhere in the world. Different cultures, different masonic ways. We are proud of this virtual real fraternity.

Internet is a wonderful tool, with extrordinary ressources for all masonic interests. But it's so large, so huge, so complicated, so changing...

With we create an internet masonic departure point. From here, you can acces to the best of masonic websites around the world. Then, depending of your quest, you will continue your own masonic travel.

We didn't want to make an exhaustive links websites. Too much informations kills the information. Here, you only will find the most representatives, selected, handpicked, masonic websites, but about quite all the subjects interesting for the Brethren.

It's a fantastic work. An hard work: search and visit quite all the masonic websites of the internet and then, select, classify, verify and daily update the best of the best. Today, we are proud of our contribution to the internet masonic community.

We are open-minded. We think it's not our role to promote or expurgate any masonic way of thinking. We only would like to help our Brethren to use internet masonic ressources more easily. We believe you are able to make your own choices and visit or not the masonic websites according to your own decision. We are your brothers, not your fathers ;-))

Sorry for our incorrect english sometimes. It's not the mother tongue of all participating Brethren. We obviously cannot ask for our american or british Brethren to always revise all our texts. So we decided to do our best... with some errors ;-)

For any comment, problem, encouragement, proposal...

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More Masonic racism: "That which God has put asunder, no man should put together"

A good brother from Alabama unearthed this 50-year-old document from the archives of the Grand Lodge of Alabama. It speaks not only for its time, but for now. Sadly, not much seems to have changed in the minds of most of our Alabama brethren.

"Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Alabama" for 1956:

George Johnson, Grand Orator of the Grand Lodge of Alabama

"We are now living in trying times, with respect to racial relations brought about by an unavoidable edict of the Supreme Court, invading again the rights of the states. The Grand Master of the Universe created all men and all races, which no God fearing person could or would want to deny.

"I submit that it is my humble judgement, brethren, that segregation is manifested in the creation.

"I went, last spring, to the beautiful gardens in Mobile, Bellingrath Gardens and I saw, there, a beautiful squirrel blue-necked swan down at one end of the lake, and its friend, the white one, down at the other end of the lake. As I observe geography and plant life, I see that alfalfa is grown yonder in the north and northwest and is not adaptive, without supplemental treatment, to this section of the country. I observe that the great Creator of the Universe put the white bear in the Arctic regions and the black bear in the mountains and I looked across the scopes of this creation and saw the dark man down yonder in Africa and the yellow man, my brethren, yonder in the Orient, and the white man here in the United States and over on the the edges of middle and central Europe.

"My friends, I don't want to presume upon the greatness of this question, man is so finite that I sometimes wonder if we ought to presume upon the great and Omnipotent creative handiwork of God, but I say, in all humility, that it is my conception that segregation is written all across the face of the earth, and I say to you, my brethren, it is my humble, but deep conviction, that that which God has put asunder, no man should put together.

"Yes, the Supreme Court has seemingly turned from jurors to psychologists and have thrust upon us a vicious edict called integration which, in my opinion, is destined to destroy the peaceful relationship which has gradually been built up between the races of our country over the past one and a quarter centuries. This integration is a monster unworkable, and undesired by either race in Alabama. It can only serve as the father of chaos and strife and I dont believe we have to have it here in Alabama until we want it, which will be a long, long time."

Image: The Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons of Alabama held an emergent Grand Lodge Communication at The George Washington Masonic National Memorial to inaugurate November 2001 as The Grand Lodge of Alabama Month at the Memorial. Officers of the Grand Lodge of Alabama who participated were: M.W. V. Wayne Causey, Grand Master; R.W. Roger A. Simmons, Deputy Grand Master; R.W. Billy C. Ford, Senior Grand Warden; R.W. Darrell Neill, Junior Grand Warden; M.W. Jerry M. Underwood, PGM and Grand Secretary; W. Lew W. Jones, Junior Grand Deacon; Lyn Emfinger, Senior Grand Steward; and Luther S. (Pythagoras) Holder, Chairman, Committee on Work and Past Junior Grand Steward.

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Masonic Racism

Brother Tim Bonney, a Baptist minister and Freemason who is also an outspoken critic of the United Grand Lodge of America, has lately been beating his drum calling the UGLA's public stand against segregation and racism in American Freemasonry "...a smoke screen to cover the fact that they were expelled from Masonry for not following the laws, rules, and regulations of a lodge of Master Masons."

I'll let the UGLA defend themselves if they wish against Bro. Bonney's illogical suppositions and innuendos. No UGLA member was expelled; they were simply "whited out" (no pun intended) from the rolls of their Blue Lodges without so much as a hearing. Expulsion requires a Masonic Trial.

Bonney calls UGLA brothers whom he does not know "hot-heads who threw a temper tantrum when they could not get their way." Amusing how he keeps pointing out that UGLA Masons failed to follow Masonic rules while he himself violates the obligation against speaking ill of a Brother Mason.

I'm amused at Bro. Bonney's "I'm not a racist" claims. Like we saw in Bro. Williams' email in the previous post here on Burning Taper, Bonney trots out the "some of my best friends are black" defense.

But what really interests me is Bonney's inadvertent explanation of what is truly rotten in coventional American Freemasonry.

He worries that individual Masons will be denied visitation rights to their sons' raising, or some poor dead Mason won't be eligible for a Masonic burial, etc., should Grand Lodges that do recognize Prince Hall lodges withdraw recognition from Grand Lodges that do not recognize Prince Hall.

"In these cases those who were 'punished' likely knew nothing about disagreements between Grand jurisdictions," he writes.

Therein is the true rottenness of conventional American Freemasonry: Grand Lodges, period. Far too much power has been claimed by a small group of usually self-appointed, not elected, "career" Freemasons. The rank-and-file Mason indeed "knows nothing" about the politics and behind-the-scenes goings-on in Grand Lodges. In my experience, Average Joe Mason is content to show up once in a while at his Blue Lodge (usually only when someone he knows is being initiated), shake a few hands, listen to the minutes, and maybe help fry the fish for the yearly fundraiser. When the big issues arise, they look towards busy-body Past Masters to take care of them, and defer to "The Grand Lodge."

George Wallace (1919-1998), multi-term governor of Alabama and long-time Freemason, was perhaps America's most famous racist and segregationist. He left us with a few choice quotes teaching us about Masonic brotherly love:
  • "If any demonstrator ever lays down in front of my car, it'll be the last car he'll ever lay down in front of."

  • "I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."

  • "Sure, I look like a white man. But my heart is as black as anyone's here."

Image: Gov. George Wallace blocks the doorway to Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, June 11, 1963

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"That doesn't make any of us racists, we just like our lodges the way they are."

We received an email last night from a brother named Robert Williams of Monroe, Louisiana. It was addressed to Bro. Alex Harris.

I had to search through the archives of the Burning Taper to figure out that the writer was replying to an article posted here on March 13, 2006, which in fact was a reprint of a speech given by Bro. Harris at the 1999 Alabama Grand Lodge. Bro. Harris' speech called the Alabama Grand Lodge to task for failing to recognize Prince Hall Masonry, which is composed predominantly of black Masons.

I found the email fascinating, sad, and a bit disgusting, actually. I haven't heard the "I have friends who are black" and "there are some good black people out there" lines used to justify racial segregation since I was a child.

— Widow's Son

Here is the email, just as it was received:



Images: Theophilus Eugene "Bull" Connor, Alabama police commissioner, public service commissioner and outspoken segregationist during during the 1940s, 50s and 60s, reportedly was a Freemason and a "very active" Shriner. It was Connor who ordered the police to have the German shepherd dogs attack protesters, and the fire department to turn their firehoses against them, in Birmingham in 1963. One disgusted fireman said later, "We're supposed to fight fires, not people."

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Old Tiler's Talk: What is Masonry?

The Old Tiler is a character in a series of very short vignettes by Bro. Carl H. Claudy, written between 1921 and the late 1940s. The story usually involves a conversation between The Old Tiler and a newly raised Mason called "the New Brother."

When I was the webmaster for my Blue Lodge, I had dozens of Claudy's Old Tiler Talks on the lodge website, and in my role as Director of Masonic Education, I would often read one of these talks during a lodge meeting.

Sadly, I found that even the reading of these short stories from the early 20th century bored most of my brothers. I never did figure out why most of them even came to lodge meetings, other than to shake hands with each other, drink coffee and tell each other who was sick and who had died.

Here follows a short introdution by Bro. Claudy, and then the first of many Old Tiler Talks I hope to post here in the days and months to come.

— Widow's Son

The Old Tiler first appeared in print in August, 1921 when the first of four hundred and fourteen "Old Tiler Talks" were printed in the Fellowship Forum, a fraternal newspaper published in Washington, D.C.

In 1925 the publisher (The Temple Publishers) asked the author to select a few of the best of the talks and thirty-one were accordingly made into a little volume, copyrighted in that year. The book, which sold for a dollar, ran into two editions of five thousand copies each.

By the time they were all sold the Fellowship Forum ran head on into the depression and disappeared and with it the Old Tiler.

His homely philosophy, sharp tongue and common sense, however, had made a place for him in the hearts of readers; demand for the book has never ceased, although it has lessened in the twenty-four years since the Old Tiler first spoke from between the covers.

At long last the Old Tiler sits again before the door of his lodge, there to repeat the tales which made him liked so long ago, and, from the wealth of material of his hundreds of homilies, make thirty-nine talks new to the book, a total of seventy in all.

These have been roughly classified under seven headings. To offer in defense of his fanciful classification the author has no other alibi than the weak statement that the Old Tiler is himself a fancy!

The portrait of the Old Tiler on the book jacket is the loving work of Brother Frank A. Stockwell of Buffalo, New York, who has (at least to the author's eyes) succeeded in getting the biting sarcasm, courage and philosophy of the Old Tiler into his kindly face.

The author does not always agree with the Old Tiler — perhaps it is the Old Tiler who disagrees with the author! Some to whom that statement is made make answer: "Why don't you make him say what you think? You are the boss man!"

All who have written know that, if they live, pen and ink characters have minds and thoughts of their own, sometimes to the benefit, sometimes to the grief of their fathers!

Therefore, with what is hoped is becoming modesty, this invitation is extended: whatever you like in the Old Tiler's talks, credit it to his creator; if his sharpness or his ideas offend, blame the Old Tiler and not.

— The Author

What is Masonry?

"I've been a Mason six months now and I ought to know something about Masonry. But there are more secrets in the fraternity I don't know than those I have been told!"

The New Brother was puzzled. The Old Tiler laid down his sword, picked up a half-smoked cigar and lit it, and settled back in his chair.

"Get it out of your system," he invited.

"Is Masonry a religion," continued the New Brother, "or a system of philosophy, or a childish getting together of men who like to play politics and wear titles? I have heard it called all three. Sometimes I think it's one and sometimes the other. What do you think?"

"It isn't a childish getting together for the love of titles and honors," answered the Old Tiler. "Men would soon' invent a much better organization for the satisfaction of such purposes. In fact, he has invented better ones. Men who want to play politics and be called the Grand High Cockalorum of the Exalted Central Chamber of the Secret Sanctorum can join these. If Masonry were nothing but play, it wouldn't live, and living, grow.

"Masonry isn't a religion. A religion, as I see it, is a belief in a deity and a means of expressing worship. Masonry recognizes Deity, and proceeds only after asking divine guidance. But it does not specify any particular deity. You can worship any God You Please and be a Mason. That is not true of any religion. If you are a Buddhist, you worship Buddha. If a Christian, Christ is your Deity. If you are a Mohammedan you are a worshipper of Allah. In Masonry you will find Christian, Jew, Mohammedan and Buddhist side by side.

"Masonry has been called a system of philosophy, but that is a confining definition. I don't think Masonry has ever been truly defined."

"Or God," put in the New Brother.

"Exactly. A witty Frenchman, asked if he believed in God, replied, 'Before I answer, you must tell me your definition of God. And when you tell me, I will answer you, no, because a God defined is a God limited, and a limited God is no God.' Masonry is something like that; it is brotherhood, unlimited, and when you limit it by defining it you make it something it isn't."

"Deep stuff!" commented the New Brother.

"Masonry is 'deep stuff,'" answered the Old Tiler. "It's so deep no man has ever found the bottom. Perhaps that is its greatest charm; you can go as far as you like and still not see the limit. The fascination of astronomy is the limitlessness of the field. No telescope has seen to the edge of the universe. The fascination of Masonry is that it has no limits. The human heart has no limit in depth and that which appeals most to the human heart cannot have a limit."

"But that makes it so hard to understand!" sighed the New Brother.

"Isn't it the better for being difficult of comprehension?" asked the Old Tiler. "A few days ago I heard an eminent divine and Mason make an inspiring talk. I hear a lot of talks; nine-tenths are empty words with a pale tallow-dip gleam of a faint idea somewhere in them. So when a real talker lets the full radiance of a whole idea shine on an audience, he is something to be remembered. This speaker quoted a wonderful poem, by William Herbert Carruth. I asked him to send it to me, and he did; please note, this busy man, president of a university, and with a thousand things to do, didn't forget the request of a brother he never saw before!"

The Old Tiler put his hand in his pocket and took out a much-thumbed piece of paper. "Listen, you," he said, "till I read you just one verse of it:
'A picket frozen on duty;
A mother, starved for her brood;
Socrates' drinking the hemlock,
And Jesus on the rood;
And millions who, humble and nameless,
The straight hard pathway plod;
Some call it consecration
And others call it God.'
The New Brother said nothing, held silent by the beauty of the lines.

"I am no poet," continued the Old Tiler, "and I know this isn't very fitting, but I wrote something to go with those verses, just to read to brothers like you." Shyly the Old Tiler continued:
'Many men, banded together
Standing where Hiram stood;
Hand to back of the falling,
Helping in brotherhood.
Wise man, doctor, lawyer,
Poor man, man of the hod,
Many call it Masonry
And others call it God.'
"I don't think it makes much difference what we call it, do you?" asked the New Brother.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Living with War: Memorial Day 2006

American Military Casualties in Iraq
  • American deaths since war began (3/19/03): Total, 2,460; In combat, 1,983

  • American deaths since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03): Total, 2,323; In combat, 1,886

  • American deaths since capture of Saddam (12/13/03): Total, 1,995; In combat, 1,677

  • American deaths since handover (6/29/04): Total, 1,594; In combat, 1,351

  • American deaths since election (1/31/05): Total, 1,024; In combat, 866

  • American Wounded: Officially, 17,648; Estimated, 18,000-48,100

  • Other Coalition Troops deaths: 214

  • US Military Deaths in Afghanistan: 295

  • Iraqi civilian deaths reported by American sources: 37,918-42,288

As of May 26, 2006

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How many people died in the Vietnam War?

Quick answer: Approximately 5.4 million total.

The official number is 58,148 Americans killed during service. An additional 114 were captured and died in captivity.

In the five years following the war, the suicide rate of veterans was 1.7 times the non-Veteran population, yielding an estimate of 9,000 suicides as a direct result of the war. After five years, suicide rates fall back in line with the general population.

Source: Testimony by Dr. Houk, Oversight on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, 14 July 1988, page 17, Hearing before the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, United States Senate, one hundredth Congress, second session. Also "Estimating the Number of Suicides Among Vietnam Veterans" (Am J Psychiatry 147, 6 June 1990 pages 772-776)

A total of approximately 67,000 Americans.

Also on the American "side" were 223,748 South Vietnamese soldiers killed, as well as 5,282 of other nationalities. (See for the breakdown.)

A total of approximately 300,000 so far....

Vietnamese casualties are far less specific, and they were deliberately falsified prior to 1995, leading to some of the confusion. According to the Agence France Presse (French Press Agency) as reported on, "...the true civilian casualties of the Vietnam War were 2,000,000 in the north, and 2,000,000 in the south. Military casualties were 1.1 million killed and 600,000 wounded in 21 years of war. These figures were deliberately falsified during the war by the North Vietnamese Communists to avoid demoralizing the population."

So approximately 5.1 million total Vietnamese casualites.

And a grand total of approximately 5.4 million.

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Number of German Freemasons who died in German concentration camps, 1933-1945: 80,000

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Memorial day is celebrated as a National Holiday the last Monday of May. It is sometimes called Decoration Day or Poppy Day. It is set aside to honor those Americans who gave their lives for our country.

The Holiday was first celebrated by the people of Waterloo, New York on May 5, 1866 and then again on May 5, 1867. The Remembrance was first suggested by a druggist named Henry C. Welles in 1865.

General John A. Logan, Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of The Republic, proclaimed May 30th as Decoration Day by General Order 11 on May 5, 1868. This was two years after the 1866 and 1877 celebrations in Waterloo, New York.

Since the end of World War I Memorial Day has also been known as Poppy Day. This was the idea of Moina Michael, inspired by John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields."

In 1971 The Federal government designated the last Monday in May as Memorial Day.

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American War Deaths

Revolutionary War: Wounded, 6,188; Dead, 4,435
War of 1812: Wounded, 4,505; Dead, 2,260
Mexican War: Wounded, 4,152; Dead, 1,733
Civil War (Both Sides): Wounded, 412,175; Battle Dead, 214,938; Total Dead 558,052
Spanish American War: Wounded, 1,662; Dead, 385
World War I: Wounded, 204,002; Dead 53,402
World War II: Wounded, 671,846; Dead 291,557
Korean War: Wounded, 103,284; Dead, 33,741
Vietnam War: Wounded, 153,303; Dead, 58,262
Persian Gulf War: Wounded, 467; Dead. 147
Iraq War: Wounded, 17,648; Dead, 2,460

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Listen to Neil Young's new album Living with War in its entirety online

Image: Flanders Field, Waregem, Belgium, holding the graves of 368 Americans killed during World War I.

Source: Grand Lodge of Scotland
Source: Wikipedia

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Apocalypse Not

I guess we can toss another End of the World scenario onto the rubbish heap. The fragments of Comet 73-P missed hitting the Earth earlier today by about six million miles.

That pile of discarded Doomsdays is getting higher and higher. Swine flu... Killer bees... Jesus's return in 1988... Y2K... SARS... Anthrax... Avian flu.... and now, 73-P.

Americans (and it seems, the Japanese, too) love a good scare. As a species, we seem to enjoy fantasizing about horrible things happening. Or worrying about them.

"Mind is the builder," Edgar Cayce said.

"Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last you create what you will," wrote George Bernard Shaw.

"Emotional power behind your expectations powers your expectations into physical reality," we're told by Seth. "You must remember, once more, that expectations are the blocks with which you build your reality. There are no exceptions to this rule."

"Our intention creates our reality." — Dr. Wayne Dyer

It's time we, as individuals and as humanity-at-large, adopt a new paradigm of Life. A new way of thinking. A new way of visualizing the future.

Or else, eventually, we're going to create something really, really unpleasant.

Image: String Theory, by Kiyoko Saiki

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Video: Comet collides with Earth!

Other stories about Comet 73-P on Burning Taper:Story on on
You saw it here first. Actual footage from the comet collision that will happen later today.

Okay... it's a simulation, but DAMN!

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Prince Hall Masons accused of kidnapping, beating

St. Thomas, Virgin Islands — More than a dozen witnesses, including a DNA expert, testified in the trial of three Prince Hall Masons accused of kidnapping and beating a Frenchtown man in Superior Court Wednesday, May 3, the Virgin Islands Daily News reported.

The three standing trial, Virgin Islands police officers Bill John Baptiste, 34, of Estate Tutu and Dorian Foster, 36, of Anna's Retreat and tow truck driver Elvis David, 44, of Estate Tutu whispered to their attorneys and scribbled notes during witness testimony throughout the day. The three men are current members of the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge.

Michael Veraart, past worshipful master — or president — of the Carib Tradewinds Lodge No. 589, a Prince Hall Georgia affiliation, said during testimony Wednesday afternoon that John Baptiste and Foster were not bona fide members of the organization on Dec. 2, 2002, when prosecutors say the men abducted Sean Gagliani, then 24, and beat him before Gagliani was able to escape.

Veraart said both men became official members of the chapter in January 2003. David was already a member.

The three face counts that include first-degree assault, kidnapping and false imprisonment, aiding and abetting and conspiracy. A fourth unidentified man remains at large.

Assistant Attorney General Denise George-Counts used federal agents to detail the chain of custody for evidence that included interior parts of a Police Department Chevy Blazer seized for the investigation.

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The Freemason Battle Revived: "Antients" vs "Moderns"

The Freemason Battle Revived: "Antients" vs "Moderns," by Bro. Jeff Peace

From the very beginning of Speculative Free-Masonry there has been a silent internal schism that at times has resurfaced into an open wound. The famous schism of 1751 between the "Antients" and "Moderns" is perhaps the most well remembered but it is but one of many such incidents in the history of the Craft. As with all history the victors account will become the commonly accepted truth but eventually the facts overtake this view and the conflict begins anew.

Today, many Free-Masons live in the false belief that all Free-Masonry is the same. Nothing could be further from the truth! The "Antients" want to preserve the mysticism of the Middle Ages while the "Moderns" want to chart a progressive course of enlightenment through natural philosophy, science and morality. The "Antients" won the conflict of 1751 and the Masonry we have today is a result of that victory. Where has it led us? It would appear back to the darkness of the Middle Ages.

On December 27th, 2005 the Grand Lodge of the "Moderns," first formed in 1717, was reconstituted with a formal Declaration of Independence from the American "Antient" Grand Lodges. The new United Grand Lodge of America is the re-birth of "Modern" Free-Masonry and the true essence of spiritual and intellectual enlightenment. The Light of George Washington’s Free-Masonry once again burns brightly across America.

In 1751 the "Antient" Grand Lodge referred to its great predecessor mockingly as "The Grand Lodge of the Moderns," today "Modern" Masons wear that badge with honor because we are "Modern" and progressive, and even more importantly we are the legitimate Grand Lodge of Speculative Free-Masonry. We have purged our rituals of the deceptive symbolism of the "Antients" and restored that which we intended from the beginning. Free-Masonry was never intended to be a mystery to its initiates. A "Modern" Free-Mason understands his Craft and can reveal its secrets to his Apprentice.

For those brothers who have wandered in darkness for so long and by led by the cable-tow down dead-end streets with the promise of further Light, your days of aimless wanderings have come to an end. The United Grand Lodge of America welcomes all true brothers into the brotherly love and Light of true Free-Masonry.

— Bro. Jeff Peace

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

NASA said it! I believe it! That settles it!

Other stories about Comet 73-P on Burning Taper:
It's official. We're safe!

NASA says:
There will be no tsunamis, firestorms or mass extinctions to spoil your Memorial Day weekend.

Although the Internet is rife with speculation that a fragment of Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 will strike the Earth on May 25, neither the main comet nor any of its more than 40 fragments pose a danger to Earth.

"We are very well acquainted with the trajectory of Comet 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann 3," said Donald Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office. "There is absolutely no danger to people on the ground or the inhabitants of the International Space Station, as the main body of the object and any pieces from the breakup will pass many millions of miles beyond the Earth."

However, you can see the comet falling apart right before our eyes, thanks to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

Recent Hubble images have uncovered many more fragments than have been reported by ground-based observers. These observations provide an unprecedented opportunity to study the demise of a comet nucleus.

None of the comet's fragments will come closer than 5.5 million miles to Earth during its closest approaches May 12-28. That's more than 20 times the distance from the Earth to the moon.

The main fragment, designated fragment C, will pass closest to Earth on May 12 at a distance of approximately 7.3 million miles. It will be visible to small telescopes during the morning hours in the constellation Vulpecula. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope will observe the comet in May.

Astronomers have been observing the comet for more than 75 years. The trajectory of this comet has been monitored and refined over time, and its path around the sun is well understood. Amateur and professional astronomers around the world have been tracking its spectacular disintegration for years.

The comet is currently comprised of a chain of fragments, named alphabetically, stretching across several degrees on the sky. (The sun and moon each have an apparent diameter of about 1/2 of a degree.) Ground-based observers have noted dramatic brightening events associated with some of the fragments indicating that they are continuing to break-up and that some may disappear altogether.
I find it interesting that Eric Julien's prediction has garnered so much attention on the Internet, including on this site, that NASA had to directly respond to his tsunami forecasts.

Image: Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys took images of the disintegration of Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3's fragment B. Credit: NASA, ESA, H. Weaver (APL/JHU), M. Mutchler and Z. Levay (STScI)

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Bro. Peace responds to Bro. Olano

A Response to "Without Faith," by Jeff Peace, May 9, 2006

Bro. Rudy Olano was kind enough to write a brief response to my short essay entitled The Future: Advancing Masonic Morality in both Natural Philosophy and Geometry. I feel it necessary to respond to his article to correct the inaccuracies, misrepresentation, and, in some cases, outright distortions of the original meaning of my essay. Below is a copy of Bro. Olano's response, for those of you who have not had the opportunity to review it.

Without Faith
By Rudy Olano
May 5, 2006

In The Future: Advancing Masonic Morality in both Natural Philosophy and Geometry, by Jeff Peace, the article certainly caught my attention as the title suggests a subject that could have shed further light to the study we know as Freemasonry. The use of key phrases such as morality, philosophy and geometry as the title succeeded in drawing attention and curiosity. Reading on, one could not help but realized that the piece was about promoting the "United Grand Lodge of America." The organization claims to be "a lighthouse of the original Masonic philosophy of the early eighteenth century" and "in the position to advance the Royal Art to levels never before imagined by Masons of any generation." The author boldly claimed that the "dream to the Free-Masons of 1717" can now "be realized for the first time." While the article championed the virtues of being pro-activeness and exhort "our gentle Craft" to rise and "meet the challenge of generations yet unborn," it also blamed the current Freemasonry or as the author described as "our Peculiar System of Morality," for the failure of "both Masonry and humanity." The eight paragraph article concluded with an ominous declaration "to the purveyors of darkness, superstition and tyranny" of their betrayal and dramatic end of their life.

The repeated use of "Free-Masonry" in place of normally used "Freemasonry" raises the question of the purpose and motive of the writer. Skirting legal issues? The UGLA's website has the look of a regular Masonic body. The symbols, quotations from Masonic scholars and publications such as Ancient Landmarks, Anderson’s Constitution, etc.., are liberally utilized to achieve the appearance of legitimacy. Are they? The article audaciously proclaimed that the old tradition is lifeless and that "guarded secret" should be given to the "rightful inheritance of humanity as a whole," that is "time to restore this gift to its rightful owners." Abandoning tradition for the sake of what? More members therefore, more paid dues? Does the UGLA really believe that if the humanity knows the "secret word," that mankind will change and live a life without fear, hunger, and sickness?

For someone with daring to proclaim that the past — the traditions is dead and those who clings to that notion "will die with it," is a sad conclusion which could only come from someone who seems to be at loss of understanding of what the Craft is all about. A system whose aim is to make a good man to be a better man is alive. What appears to be dying is the comprehension of who we are and what purpose Freemasonry exists.

Freemasonry is not about paid off dues card; it's not about achieving "32nd degree," not about making children laugh or about changing the world to New Order. It's about building a temple not made by hands but eternal in heaven. The allegory behind the study of grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy directs us to better understand ourselves. Understanding our own strengths and frailties make us appreciate the struggles within ourselves. Man will always contend with wickedness within himself, for as long as man walk on the face of this Earth, man will always be exposed to evil. That's why we are men not gods.

The journey will take us to a rough and rugged road; it's not going to be easy but that’s what life is always been. And in that journey, it is hope that by becoming a better man, we can influence our surrounding to make it a better place. The Scottish Rite teaches us the importance of finding the balance between good and evil. The Order of Knights Templar of the York Rite dramatizes the commitment to defend or readiness to defend ones Faith. Faith is what we believe, it maybe as simple as preserving the tradition, it could be the meaning of Life or as complex as knowing the Ultimate Unknown. Without Faith is sailing without rudder — without destination. How can a Mason search for something that was supposed to be lost, if he never knew that he lost something valuable in the first place?
Bro. Olano has a penchant for distorting facts and quotes in the vain hope that his audience, being ignorant of the truth, will simply accept his words at face value. Unfortunately for Bro. Olano, cheap rhetorical tricks are no longer sufficient to win the argument. I shall begin by pointing out his factual errors and how he has tried to turn the meaning of my essay on its head by either taking quotes out of context or by misquoting my words outright.

While the article championed the virtues of being pro-activeness and exhort "our gentle Craft" to rise and "meet the challenge of generations yet unborn," it also blamed the current Freemasonry or as the author described as "our Peculiar System of Morality," for the failure of “both Masonry and humanity." — Text as quoted by Olano

"It is, however, our 'Peculiar System of Morality' that has failed both Masonry and humanity. This is not due to fallacies in the original system as given to us by the patriarchs of our progressive science, but in our failure to maintain and adapt the system to mankind’s ever-growing knowledge of himself and the Universe." — Original text

One doesn’t have to be a master of rhetoric to see Bro. Olano’s distortion of my original statement. He states that I blame "the current Freemasonry... for the failure of 'both Masonry and humanity.'" When I actually stated that it is "our 'Peculiar System of Morality' that has failed both Masonry and humanity." Note how Bro. Olano inserts the idea that I blame the "current Freemasonry" for the failure by redefining the "Peculiar System of Morality" as the current generation of Freemasons. He then twists my statement further by claiming that I blame the current Freemasonry for "the failure of 'both Masonry and humanity'" when I actually said our peculiar system of morality had failed both Masonry and humanity. The system of morality failed, not Masonry or humanity.

"The eight paragraph article concluded with an ominous declaration 'to the purveyors of darkness, superstition and tyranny' of their betrayal and dramatic end of their life." — Olano

"Let me finish with a warning to the purveyors of darkness, superstition and tyranny: While your numbers have grown during our fitful slumbers we have not forgotten your treachery or the flames of your pyres. The All-Seeing Eye is ever watching over its children." — Peace

Perhaps Bro. Olano could enlighten us all by showing where I stated anything about the "dramatic end of their life." Clearly, the closing sentence is meant to be nothing more than allude to the reawakening of Masonic scholarship and the threat that this represents to the old guard of today’s decaying Free-Masonry. The only "dramatic" death threat here is in the paranoid imaginings of Bro. Olano's mind.

His paper goes further than merely quoting things out of context; he goes so far as to splice fragments of my statements together with those of his own invention. In this last example he preys upon the assumed complete ignorance of his audience by inserting his own fabricated statements. This type of purposeful deceit of Masonic readers by the present generation of Masons is exactly why their days are numbered. Modern Masons simply don’t have the time or inclination to search through all the lies and propaganda; they need honesty and demand integrity.

The present leaders of Masonry in America need, indeed hope for, the continued ignorance of their members in order to maintain their power and authority. The sad truth is, they are themselves wholly ignorant of Free-Masonry as the following example demonstrates.

"The repeated use of 'Free-Masonry' in place of normally used 'Freemasonry' raises the question of the purpose and motive of the writer. Skirting legal issues?" — Olano

The newest Entered Apprentice, even one with the least curiosity, can readily discover that Bro. Anderson, in his famous Constitutions of 1723 used the term "Free-Masonry" as opposed to the more modern distortion "Freemasonry." Bro. Olano, however, relies on the ignorance of his audience to make his next statement appear believable. He asks a rhetorical question: "Skirting legal issues?" He does this in hopes that you, his reader, will believe there is something illegal taking place, when he knows that Free-Masonry is not a protected corporate entity; it is a school of enlightenment.

In his next paragraph he asks an important rhetorical question: "Abandoning tradition for the sake of what?" It is important because it, like everything else in his paper, relies on your ignorance of the facts. Any quick reading of my essay The Future: Advancing Masonic Morality in both Natural Philosophy and Geometry, will show that it addresses the betterment of humanity through Free-Masonry and moral philosophy. Bro. Olano understands this but hopes that you don't. In my essay I state: "The old rules that regulated our conduct must be abandoned and replaced with new ones that better reflect the environment in which Free-Masonry now exists. Masons who live in the past will die with it, but for those who see the necessity for progress and change there is a future filled with hope and service to both the Great Architect and mankind."

I have taken his statement out of the entirety of its original context above, but will now examine it more thoroughly.

"Abandoning tradition for the sake of what? More members therefore, more paid dues? Does the UGLA really believe that if the humanity knows the "secret word," that mankind will change and live a life without fear, hunger, and sickness?" — Olano

Bro. Olano keeps twisting and perverting my statements about the value of humanity and service to the Great Architect of the Universe. At first he tries desperately to associate it with pecuniary benefits derived from a growing membership (in and of itself a ludicrous claim as the UGLA was formed in part as a reaction to the shameful chasing of candidates and dollars by the invention of one day classes) but then abruptly stops and asks yet another rhetorical question. Notice his use of rhetorical questions. He asks many questions but doesn’t provide his readers with any answers. He wants you to fill-in the answers based on where he is leading you. He relies entirely on your ignorance and gullibility, and wants you to rely on him instead for the facts.

Nowhere in my paper do I mention a "secret word" nor do I make any claim that something so silly could help aid humanity. The focus of my essay is morality and how that Free-Masonry’s highly advanced system of geometrical morality and natural philosophy can help humanity navigate through the present tumultuous times in which it now finds itself.

The next paragraph of Bro. Olano’s paper is well worth exploring.

"For someone with daring to proclaim that the past — the traditions is dead and those who clings to that notion 'will die with it,' is a sad conclusion which could only come from someone who seems to be at loss of understanding of what the Craft is all about. A system whose aim is to make a good man to be a better man is alive. What appears to be dying is the comprehension of who we are and what purpose Freemasonry exists." — Olano

He begins by arguing my misunderstanding of the Craft. Of course my supposed misunderstanding is based entirely on his restructuring of my sentences. He then loosely quotes the modern Masonic marketing slogan: "A system whose aim is to make a good man to be a better man is alive." I take up issue with this slogan because the early Free-Masons never mention any concept of making good men better. Instead, they spoke in terms of enlightenment, natural philosophy and progressive science.

Lastly, he states: "What appears to be dying is the comprehension of who we are and what purpose Freemasonry exists." Actually, from a purely historical perspective, it is his generation's perversion of the purpose of Free-Masonry that is dying and being replaced with the original intent of the founders of the society.

He, however, continues his rhetorical argument by providing his readers with the following supposed proofs.

"It's about building a temple not made by hands but eternal in heaven. The allegory behind the study of grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy directs us to better understand ourselves." — Olano

He begins by quoting from the allegory: "...building a temple not made by hands but eternal in heaven" but then says the allegory is actually behind the Trivium and Quadrivium. He says that by studying these we will come to a better understanding of ourselves. The Trivium and Quadrivium are not allegorical; they are the ancient system of education that was still in use in many places throughout the nineteenth century. The Trivium teaches the skills necessary for communication and critical thinking while the Quadrivium explains the mathematical characteristics of the Cosmos, of which the terrestrial and celestial globes atop Jachin and Boaz are an example.

Bro. Olano confuses that which is allegory with actual paths of learning and enlightenment. His failure to clearly recognize this is a demonstration of how deeply the whole "Masonic" system upon which these errors are based is sunk in darkness and confusion.

His last paragraph is a rambling bit of prose that admonishes us to have faith and seek that which was lost.

The journey will take us to a rough and rugged road; it's not going to be easy but that’s what life is always been. And in that journey, it is hope that by becoming a better man, we can influence our surrounding to make it a better place. The Scottish Rite teaches us the importance of finding the balance between good and evil. The Order of Knights Templar of the York Rite dramatizes the commitment to defend or readiness to defend ones Faith. Faith is what we believe, it maybe as simple as preserving the tradition, it could be the meaning of Life or as complex as knowing the Ultimate Unknown. Without Faith is sailing without rudder – without destination. How can a Mason search for something that was supposed to be lost, if he never knew that he lost something valuable in the first place? — Olano

The last sentence of this paragraph is worth looking at more closely. "How can a Mason search for something that was supposed to be lost, if he never knew that he lost something valuable in the first place?" This is another example of historical error and misunderstanding. The concept of something be lost is presented in the Master Mason degree. This degree was an addition to the original system of two degrees. It was implemented around 1725, about eight years after the founding of the Grand Lodge in 1717. The present group of Masons hasn't bothered to go back and review the events surrounding the creation of the Master Mason degree. If they had, they would have discovered that what was lost to mankind, that Hiram Abiff possessed, was the courage to progress without fear.

And, so it shall be that the next generation of Masons will progress without fear. We will go forward and advance human understanding through natural philosophy and our progressive science. We will give humanity a system of geometrical morality to light the way through its times of trial and tribulation. Yes, we fully expect that the old guard of what has become of American Masonry will fight us with propaganda, distortions, and lies to their last breath, but we shall persevere. The Masonic system lost to generations of Free-Masons will be restored.

— Bro. Jeff Peace

Artwork: "A Slight Disagreement" by David Reekie

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Masonic Podcasts: Freemasonry on the Air

Masonic Podcasts: Freemasonry on the Air by W:.Tim Bryce, PM, MPS,, Palm Harbor, Florida, USA
"A Foot Soldier for Freemasonry"

Back in 2001 I created my "Masonic Update" Internet broadcast which was delivered in RealPlayer, MS Media Player, and MP3 formats. This was a weekly broadcast that lasted 15-20 minutes and included news, announcements, a calendar of events, book reports, and an occasional interview. I believe this was the first such Masonic broadcast of its kind. Originally, I produced it just for my Masonic District in Pinellas County. But interest in it rapidly grew and the program quickly evolved to a Zone basis (Tampa Bay), to the State level, and finally to an international basis. I learned a lot during this process and kept refining the broadcast each week as my audience grew. Unfortunately, this came to a screeching halt when I was censored by the Grand Master of Florida in December 2005.

Another Brother also picked up on the idea and created a separate Masonic related broadcast, "Radio Free Masonry," by Bro. Stephen Dafoe of Alberta, Canada. This was a slick program that discussed Masonic issues. Unfortunately, this show also went under earlier this year.

Fortunately, three other broadcasts have emerged to pick up where "Masonic Update" and "Radio Free Masonry" left off:

The first is "The Master's Mix" by W:. Robert Jump, PM in Oregon. This is a weekly downloadable podcast (MP3) featuring editorials, interviews, news, and some excellent music to entertain Brothers.

Next, is the "Masonic Pride Project" which is a monthly podcast (MP3) by Bro. Errol Hinton of Vermont. This too includes editorials, news, interviews, and Masonic education.

"X Oriente" is an upbeat program featuring commentaries and news pertaining to Freemasonry, and hosted by Eric Diamond.

All three broadcasts are more ambitious and better produced than their predecessors. They are both slick and contemporary, making them particularly attractive to younger Masons who are Internet-savvy. These shows are thought provoking and are excellent for promoting the fraternity. They should also be welcomed by those Brothers who haven't been able to sit in Lodge for a while (perhaps due to illness). But understand this, these shows are all produced by individuals and are independent of Grand Lodges. As such, the producers are smart enough not to pretend to represent any Grand Jurisdiction and, as such, are open to general dialog.

Frankly, I'm surprised there are not more such broadcasts, particularly at the Grand Lodge level where it would be an excellent means to communicate and promote activities in the jurisdiction. Its simple and very cost effective in terms of conveying a message. But if Grand Lodges do not understand the power of the Internet, as I suspect most do not, this will never happen.

In the meantime, it is important we support independent efforts such as those from Bros. Jump, Hinton, and Diamond.

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 "FreeMason Information"

— Bro. Tim Bryce

Monday, May 22, 2006

May 25: Comet to fall on day Jesus ascended

Like the soon-to-be-drowned unbelievers who laughed at Noah, we're all having a good laugh at Eric Julien's prediction that a fragment of Comet 73-P will fall into the Atlantic Ocean around noon local time (Time Zone Oscar, GMT-2) on May 25, causing underwater volcanos to erupt, leading to a 200-meter high tsunami wave that will reach the British coastline some 12 hours later.

Of course it won't happen... it couldn't happen (could it?). Yeah, it's just something to amuse ourselves thinking about this week. After all, a man who has seen UFOs (like the Biblical Ezekiel) and who receives telepathic messages from otherworldly sources (like every Bible character who claimed to talk to God) is just a crackpot, right? And to believe him would make us crackpots as well, or at least, superstitious, gullible fools. Right? Can I get an Amen!

Oh, by the way, speaking of superstitions....

Thursday, May 25, the Day of the Comet, just happens to also be Christianity's Day of Ascension, which marks the day that a man (either a preacher or a would-be king) who was put to death on a cross (or a tree) and who was miraculously resurrected three days later (if you count Friday night to Sunday morning as "three" days), finally ascended, bodily, into Heaven. A dead man rose from the grave, and walked the Earth for 37 days, we've been told, and then flew like Superman straight up into the sky, never to be seen again except "in our hearts" and when we die.

According to Wikipedia, a few superstitions have grown up over the past two millenia about Ascension Day (which falls forty days after Easter, which, of course, falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere):
  • According to Welsh superstition, it is unlucky to do any work on Ascension Day.
  • In Devon, it was an ancient belief that the clouds always formed into the familiar Christian image of a lamb.
  • If the weather is sunny, the summer will be long and hot; but if it rains, crops will do badly and livestock, especially cattle, will suffer from disease.
  • Eggs laid on this day will never go bad and will guarantee good luck for a household if placed in the roof.
  • Rain collected on Ascension Day is said to be good for inflamed or diseased eyes.
  • Those suffering from goitre should bite into the bark of a peach tree at midnight on Ascension Day, so that the disease passes to the tree and the sufferer is cured.
  • Gifts to the blind or lame made on this day are sure to be rewarded with great wealth within the following twelve months.

If the Big Rock does fall, and anyone survives, I'm guessing a future version of Wikipedia might include a new superstition: It's unlucky to go to the beach on Ascension Day.

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Masonic Brothers disagree over formation of new Grand Lodge

The press release announcing the formation of a new Masonic Grand Lodge has met with mixed reviews from conventional Antient Masons.

Brothers Rudy Olano, Wade Miller and Rich Graeter exchanged these messages in Free-Mason @ on Friday. (No attempt has been made to correct typos or spelling.) Bro. Olano has long been a critic of the United Grand Lodge of America and the Rose Cross of Gold.
In Free-Mason @, wade miller wrote:

My friend, it is very true what you say about todays lodge. I was shocked at how well you described mine, even though you were describing yours. New ideas are OK but there is nothing wrong with the old ideas. Problem is just like you state it. I've seen the brotherly love thing tossed out over wall hanging! And I'm serious. But lodge rules in regards to clandest are what they have to be. If they were not then anyone could change the rules for their benifit and start up from new, with no looking back.

Friend, use the power of the vote to change freemasonry for all. Lead by example. And voice your opions be strong seek console with other like brothers. Your thoughts are great now you have to be great.

Wade Miller
Snow Lodge #44
Leclaire Ia

+ + +

RmOlano says:

As the movie Da Vinci Codewas released today, people here in US are exercising their rights to see and oppose the movie. As I mentioned in my previous post, a genre was born to refute Dan Brown's book which we all know is a NOVEL. It is not surprising to note that some marketing savvy individuals and companies capitalized Brown's success or controversy to advance their own bottom line and /or agenda. The latest of this dismal stunt can be viewed in this thread "For Immediate Release." The title could be might as well as "Young Free-Masons Form Their Own Grand Lodge."

The obvious targets are the young viewers who might get a grin on the old-man-with-coffee-and-doughnut routine. The new release line was to suggest that the Free-Masons portrayed in the DaVinci movie is real and can be found in "United Grand Lodge of America." Despite of ala-1960's Woodstock era slogan, Peace, Love and Harmony the article offers, a visit to their website would make one to pause as the use o f words showed contempt against the traditional Grand Lodges which most of us belong.

For a group that call themselves members of the Rite of Golden Cross of Rose who can't understand why a Grand Lodge would declared their assembly to be "clandestine" and eventually expelled, it is somewhat surprising considering the strategy of using the very recent Hollywood movie. People with some background in history, marketing and advertising are not slow to see the advantages of what Don Brown book generated. Instead of using their talents to work within the system which some of the readers can vouch for, these "Young Free-Masons" decided to go on their own and burned the bridges after they crossed. Sad picture indeed but not an original attempt in the long history of our Craft.

As Bro Wade suggest, not because our vote is a on the losing side, it is contrary to the good of the Order to form our own Grand Lodge. And for “Young Free-Masons With a New Grand Lodge,” if I may recommend to go ahead and read Freemasonry for Dummies, it is popular and someone mentioned that there are enough materials in there to come out better than when you started.

on the level,
by the plumb,
upon the Square.

Rudy Olano
Lincoln Lodge No. 34 (Phil)
Hanford Lodge No. 279 (CA)

+ + +

Dear Bro. Olano:

As an heretofore silent observer, it appears to me that you have a personal pique or quarrel with the UGLA guys that seems color your views. Yes, you are indeed correct, the thread could indeed have been titled "Young Free-Masons Form Their Own Grand Lodge." In fact, that was the entire point of the press release, so I guess you should be congratulated for understanding it so clearly.

And so what? They got fed up with what they felt was a corrupt, racist good ole boys club and decided to start out fresh. You speak as if this is some cardinal unMasonic sin. Well guess what; the formation of new grand lodges is almost as old as the Craft. As far as I am concerned, they, or any three lodges of Master Masons for that matter, have the time immemorial right to form a grand lodge. No one gave this power exclusively to the 51 US grand lodges. If so, show me. Now, it is certainly the right of the 51 state grand lodges to decline to recognize them, but my bet is that the UGLA really does not lose too much sleep over that fact.

From my review of their web sites, both and, they make a pretty compelling case for their decision to strike out on their own. My guess is that the vitriol that you and other "mainstream" masons continue to hurl at them is really rooted in your fear that they may just be on to something, and that young potential candidates will see that too, and leave the old lodges in the dust. And you know something? Those fears might be justified.


Richard A. Graeter, PM
Caliburn Lodge #785
Cincinnati, Ohio

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

The History of Freemasonry: Lodge Kilwinning No. 0, Scotland

The History of Freemasonry

Almost every Freemason learns sooner or later, that the first Grand Lodge in the world is founded on the feast of St. John the Baptist, on the 24th of June, 1717, in the Goose and Gridion, St.Paul’s churchyard in London, when the representatives of four existing Lodges came together.

It is a fact, that all other Grand Lodges in the world accept, that the Grand Lodge of England is the most senior in years, and from that derives all rights, that come with this.

The Lodges, who became part of this formation. And all other Lodges, who existed in that time, must therefore have given themselves charters somehow, they must have given themselves a constitution, because there was simply no Grand Lodge who could have given charters to them. Later, but still in the same century, the Grand Lodge of York claimed, that they were in any case at least fifty years before 1717 a Grand Lodge then the United Grand Lodge of England.

Before I continue here, we need the definition of a Grand Lodge. These days, a Grand Lodge needs to be a independent, sovereign body, which is not obedient towards any other Masonic body. This demand excludes therefore every Provincial Grand Lodge and also all other Lodges who work under the charter of a different Grand East.

A Grand Lodge, which never has given out any charters, will, even if she fulfills all other demands, be only a 'nominal' Grand Lodge, one in name only, if it is a Grand Lodge at all.

All English, and Scottish Lodges, except one, who existed before 1717, would pass the test of independency, but they gave out no charters, and were therefore not Grand Lodges.

After the Grand Lodge of 1717 gave out a book of constitutions in 1723, the existence of such rules has become more and more a demand for the establishment of a rightful Grand Lodge. But, this demand is merely a invention of the UGLE as we can see.

One of the Lodges, who existed from before 1717, was the one who is now at the head on the roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and carries number 0 (number zero). This Lodge, Mother Kilwinning, is one of which the constitution dates from "befor 1598."

The Lodge Kilwinning was self-constituted, very independent, and did not need to pay any obedience to whatever superior body before 1736, when the Grand Lodge of Scotland was constituted. The history of Kilwinning is a extraordinary one, and after you have finished reading, you can see easily, that Mother Kilwinning was the first Grand Lodge on earth, even when we go by the definitions of a Grand Lodge, as given by the UGLE.

The date mostly given, when the Abbey of Kilwinning is mentioned, is 1140. About that period, the Pope created corporations or brotherhoods of masons, and gave them special privileges and immunities, with the goal to send Italian artists, who were famous for church building, abroad, to erect churches in other countries. A company of these foreign masons seem to have come to Kilwinning, in order to build the Abbey of Kilwinning, and they have erected the first regular constituted Lodge of Scotland.

The Lodges were held in the Chapterhouse, a room measuring 38 by 19 feet, which lay at the eastside of the Abbey. On the broken walls and crumpled bows of the Abbey, one can still see some very nice Masonic marks.

When the Abbey was being built, inhabitants of the city of Kilwinning were hired to help with the project, because there were only a few other masons available at that time. To gain the trust and the help of the population, to create interest in the construction of an enormous large religious building like the Abbey, the population of Kilwinning was paid largely with privileges. They were allowed to learn the secret of the trade of the mason-monks, and they were given, by the Pope himself, the right to call themselves Freemasons, wherever they went.

And so, the ancient and worthy Lodge Mother Kilwinning is established in the Chapterhouse, where, according to the stories, the first Masonic meeting was held, and the recruits from the population of Kilwinning were initiated in the vital secrets of the Ancient Free and Accepted Scottish Rite.

Kilwinning created the Lodges Scoon and Bertha (now Scone and Perth) in about the year 1193, as we can see from a charter, which is now in the archives of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Little else is known about the early history of Mother Kilwinning, because all the early records are lost.

Tradition tells us that the records of the Lodge were taken by the monks to France, after the fall of Catholicism in Scotland. It is, however, reasonable to accept that with the destruction of the Abbey the records are also gone.

After the Grand Lodges of Kilwinning and York had been established (the jurisdiction and infinity of the Grand Lodge of York has been long since accepted throughout Freemasonry) Freemasonry grew quickly in both kingdoms, and various Lodges were erected in various parts of the island.

Scottish Freemasonry had as her Grandmaster always their king. He, if he wasn't a Freemason himself, appointed one of the brethren, to act as his deputy at meetings, and to see to it that all affairs concerning Freemasonry was done according the rules. James I (1406-37) was Royal Grand Master till he arranged a yearly income of four Scottish pounds, to be paid by each Master mason in Scotland to a Grandmaster, who was elected by the Brethren, and approved of by the crown.

James II (1437-60) was also a Freemason, but gave the job of Grandmaster to William St. Clair, the builder of Roslyn Chapel, Earl of Orkney and Caithness, and to his heirs. The Roslyn family stood without interruption at the head of Freemasonry in Scotland, till 1736, when William St.Clair, the last heir from the direct male line, gave back the title to the Scottish Lodges.

The ancient mother Lodge possesses other Masonic degrees, then the Johaniter, or blue degrees. Laurie, for instance, writes in his book, History of Freemasonry, that the Knight Templars of Scotland, when their order was persecuted, fled to Robert de Bruce. Robert de Bruce created the Masonic order Heredum de Kilwinning after the battle of Bannockburn (1314), and claimed for himself, and his successors, the title of Grandmaster. The last Stuart still believed that he had that right, and gave charters to Lodges on the continent. This "Royal Order" is still in high esteem in France, where it was created with a charter from Scotland, and even by the Pretender himself.

The creation of this branch of Freemasonry on the continent is remembered by a medal, which is made in Paris, and which, amongst others, carries the Arms of Scotland. The brothers of the Lodge in Arras still have an original charter of the Order, handed to them in 1747, by Charles Edward Stuart, and signed by this unfortunate prince himself, as a representative of the Scottish kings.

The oldest records now in possession of the Lodge are from December 20, 1642, however a document, found in Englington Castle with the title "the statues and ordinances to be observant be all the masters maissonis within his realme, sett doune by William Shaw, maister of Wark to his Maiestie and General Wardene of the said Craft, with concent ot the Maiesteris efter Specifeit" that goes about the Lodge Kilwinning, is from 1598.

In 1736, St. Clair of Roslyn, grandmaster of Scotland, called a meeting of 32 Lodges in and around Edinburgh, and gave all rights, and other titles, that he or his heirs had, back as Grandmaster of the Freemasons of Scotland. Thus the Grand Lodge of Scotland (GLoS) was created at November 30, 1738.

Mother Kilwinning was represented by proxy, and from her midst the first officers of the Grand Lodge were chosen, and she stayed there for several years, until the brothers wanted to number the Lodges, according to their infinity. The point of infinity was naturally claimed by Kilwinning, but was contradicted by the Lodge St. Mary’s Chapel in Roslyn, who claimed to have older written records than Mother Kilwinning. That is how St. Mary's Chapel became No. 1, and Mother Kilwinning No. 2. This verdict was of course very much against the representatives of Kilwinning, and therefore, Kilwinning left the Grand Lodge in 1743, regained her independent status, and started to give out charters again. These daughter Lodges did not stay restricted to Scotland, because Lodges were created, from Kilwinning, in Ireland, US, Antigua, and the Caribbean's.

We can see that the Lodge Mother Kilwinning gave out at least 12 charters to Lodges, before the forming of the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1736, which she later joined again. It is also clear that at least two of those Lodges had been erected in 1678, nearly 40 years before the meeting in the Goose and Gridion in London. We can state safely, even with the rules of the UGLE, that Mother Kilwinning was the first Grand Lodge who worked as a Grand Lodge in the world. Perhaps we can even go a bit further.

The present Grand Lodge of England is, as I already stated here before, not the same as the original one from 1717. The present UGLE was created in 1813, when the original Grand Lodge, and York, finally decided to work together, and the now well known UGLE appeared. It is usual under the English constitution that when two Lodges, or Grand Lodges, merge together the most ancient Grand Lodge gets priority qua status.

If we continue this line of argumentation to Mother Kilwinning, who finally joined the GLoS again in 1818, it is logical to justify the infinity of Kilwinning as a Grand Lodge, when she joined the GLoS. And this, brothers and sisters, would give a date at least from 1195 for the oldest Grand Lodge in the world... Mother Kilwinning.

So mote it be.

This article is reprinted from, who in turn reprinted it from a printed source produced by the Mother Lodge of All Freemasonry, Lodge Kilwinning Number 0, in Scotland.

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