I've also had several business and personal issues to deal with — all good — but time-demanding.
The Burning Taper may have dimmed a bit for a couple of weeks, but the Light will never go out. My thanks to all who sent messages of inquiry and concern.
I noticed a couple of amusingly noteworthy Masonic-related online items in the past few days. One is about Shriners, and the other is about The Burning Taper itself.
The Giant Napkin is a parody website, a sort of junior The Onion wannabe. On July 5, the site ran a fake story about drunk Shriners crashing their little cars into the crowd, killing 12, during a Fourth of July parade in Greenville, South Carolina. The story ends with a fake quote from a fake Shriner: "We didn’t think it was a very big deal. Before a parade, we usually drink even more than that."
Apparently, quite a few Shriners were distressed, not that a parody had been published, but that drunken Shriners had killed 12 people with their little cars. In other words, a lot of people initially believed the story to be true! The article and later accompanying commentary was emailed all over Shrinerdom, judging from the number of email addresses attached to forwards sent to me by an anonymous (to you) amused Shriner. Emails circulated among the Shriner list trashed The Giant Napkin's publisher as a "joke" for writing such "crap." Apparently these particular Shriners fail to see humor in satire and parody. I mean, stereotypes that lead to parody already exist in the public's mind; otherwise, the story wouldn't be written. The image of drunken Shriners is a part of the American psyche, thanks to, well, to drunken Shriners. The story had just enough "truth" in it to be almost believable. "It could happen," as they say in the movie Magnolia.
One emailer wrote:
While I was "on the line," and especially when I was Potentate, I tried hard to see that there was no drinking by our paraders. I feel confident other Temple officers, as well as non-officers, have made, and are making, the same attempt. Unfortunately, we occasionally miss one or more who seem unable toThat a Past Potentate should write something like this on a semi-public forum at all indicates that the drunken Shriner stereotype has its basis in fact.
function without "a little lubrication." but I think that overall our efforts have paid off and our units have performed soberly and delightfully....
Like I said, it's amusing. No judgment on my part; it's just funny. I understand. I'd want a drink or three myself before I'd paint my face like a clown and climb into a tiny little car.
Over on the Masonic forum Novus Ordo Saeculorum, under the heading "I am fed up with Freemasons trying to destroy Freemasonry," Bros. Bill McElligott, Theron Dunn, Pythagoras, Prometheus, Peter and someone using the screen name The Widow's Son (not me) have struck up a conversation about The Burning Taper. I guess I should be flattered, that after not posting for the better part of a month, I'm still on their radar screen.
Bro. Bill led off the thread citing several past stories from the Taper, saying "The Burning Taper blog, it seems is heel [sic] bent on spreading bad news about Freemasonry." He took me to task for incorrectly saying that the city of Perth was in England instead of Scotland in a story from November, 2006 about a woman who was raped soon after leaving a late-night function at a Masonic hall. He didn't think I should have mentioned the Masonic sheriff who granted special favors to a Masonic prisoner at all. And he dismisses some other Taper stories with "so what?"
And indeed, so what?
He closed his post saying the Taper and a "couple of other masonic sites... need a kick up the preverbial [sic]."
Pythagoras responded with "The questions that seem to linger are why do these 'brothers' seem to spew forth from these blogs, seemingly doing more to hurt Freemasonry than help it. More importantly, why do these 'brothers' not seem to be concerned with how their action may be affecting the craft."
The other The Widow's Son joined the chorus by accusing me of having a "nanny complex."
Nanny or not, I certainly do hope that The Burning Taper is "affecting the craft," in a positive way, by bringing the fraternity's flaws and its challenges to light. For too long, "good Masons" have tried to hide the dirty laundry. No wonder the public thinks of us as drunk, secretive baby-killing Satan worshipers. Few Masons will speak out to expose the problems or dispute the conspiracy theories.
Bro. Theron Dunn, a prolific Masonic poster everywhere but here, joined the frenzy with "Well, fact is, anyone can post on that blob [sic]. I suspect, based on the lack of source and total antimasonic agenda that they are not masons that are posting. There are trolls out there, Connie Mack Berry, a convicted Felon being just one of them, that lives throgh [sic] sock puppets to attack masons.
"Burning Taper makes absolutely no attempt to verify identity, and posts like that you note Bill are likely just more antimasonic propaganda. The RAPE you note has nothing to do with masonry other than a very tenuous association... it would be like stating the RCC raped her after attending mass... typical antimasonic BS.
"I wish JP would attend the Burning Taper a bit more closely."
Let me interrupt the narrative here and say that, until now, based on what I had read previously by Bro. Dunn on various forums, I had a certain degree of regard for him. I even spoke up for him when an anonymous poster left unfavorable comments here on the Taper back in May, calling Bro. Dunn a "grand lodge buttlicker."
My respect for him has faded after reading Bro. Dunn's comments suggesting that "JP," by which I can only assume he means Bro. Jeff Peace, is in charge of this blog or of what I write.
And yes, Bro. Dunn, anyone, even you, can post comments on The Burning Taper. So what? I have no desire to run yet another private club secret forum where a small number of people can snicker and pontificate in private. We do it in public here, thankyouverymuch.
Let me see if I have your rules straight: You and your Masonic droogies can hide behind closed forum doors and make snide remarks and post inaccurate information about other Masons, including me, but somehow it's wrong when I post an article about Masonic goings-on in the world that may cast an unfavorable light on the fraternity.
Back to the forum comments....
Peter, an administrator of the Novo Ordo Saeclorum forum, who is from Scotland and rightly knows where Perth is, reiterated that I'm inadequate at British geography and called The Burning Taper "nonsense and propaganda." Good one. Gonna have to add that one to the sidebar!
Bro. Dunn came back with "I am not sure if the guy running the blog is even really a mason, or just an agitator poking masons in the eye." That comment was so good it's already made it to the sidebar. I mean, you can't make this stuff up!
Finally, we get to what was really on Bro. McElligott's mind when he started the thread about the Taper.
He wrote: "...why is it [the rape story] on what is supposed to be a Masonic web site, or maybe it's not a Masonic web site? I picked this up because three searches I did looking for some masonic items led me to The Burning Taper, so it is well served by the search engines."
Aha! The Taper shows up higher in the search engines when you do searches on Masonic subjects than do "official" or "mainstream" Masonic websites and blogs.
"Well served by the search engines...." Imagine that. A public blog discussing news and items of interest to not just the Masonic community but the world at large ranks high. That's terrible!
Or as a Past Master in my own lodge said to me, "You shouldn't be talking about Masonry. It's bad! It's bad! It's bad for Masonry. You shouldn't be talking about Masonry to the public. It's bad!"
On the forum, Prometheus pontificated about me that "It is clear to me that he was shoving stuff in a lodge where they had a specific way of practicing FM and they shoved back.
"It is also clearly apparent that his personality is such that he sees something is wrong with the behavior and practice of others but does not have the capacity to see what is wrong with his behavior.
"It comes down to what I've shared with you before: You MUST respect the rules of the room."
The rules of the room define Freemasonry? I gotta disagree. Rules of the room detract from Freemasonry. At some point, what goes on inside a lodge room may even cease to be Freemasonry if you vary from or violate Masonic code, etiquette and tradition far enough.
Bro. Theron sums up the thread with "Yes, I am tired of those that have nothing good to say about anything. They need to grow up."
And then (I'm not kidding) the thread deteriorates into several posts about the virtues of the animated "Hamster Dance."
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