Tuesday, August 28, 2007

You're invited to The Burning Taper's First Ever Virtual E-Masonic Reunion

In the comments section of a recent article, Bro. Ephraim suggested, "W.S., might I ask you start a post where posters can introduce themselves so we might be able to better understand one's background and views? I think this would be beneficial to the regulars of your blog."

Voila! So mote it be.

You're invited to the Burning Taper's First Ever Virtual E-Masonic Reunion (FEVER).

Grab a beer from the bottomless ice chest (but only if your Masonic Grand Lodge approves; we've got soft drinks and bottled water, too — whatever you want), pull up a lawn chair, and introduce yourself.

Are you a Mason? For how long? Where are you from? What Masonic groups do you belong to? Are you "mainstream," Prince Hall, Le Droit Humain, etc.? What awards, gold chains and fancy aprons have you collected?

Are any of your family members involved in Masonry? Anyone involved with the Eastern Star?

What do you think of Freemasonry? Love it, hate it, tolerate it, wish it was better, or think it's peachy-keen just like it is?

Do you blog? Have you written books or papers, Masonic or otherwise? Feel free to post links.

What do you do for a living? Maybe someone here could use your services.

And since this isn't an official and/or tyled meeting, let's talk religion and politics. (Your lips are already loosened by that beer you're drinking, so speak up.) Are you an American? Are you politically conservative, liberal, libertarian or anarchist? Who do you support for U.S. president in 2008? What do you think of the War in Iraq?

Are you Christian (please specify sect), Muslim, Jew, pagan, agnostic, atheist or what? Do you support mixing Masonry and religion inside the lodge?

Oh, and what kind of drink did you pull out of our bottomless ice chest?

Kick back. Enjoy. Have fun. We'll turn on the karaoke machine later.

| | | | |


  1. Woot, I think I'm the first one to comment!
    My name is Tom Bowersox.
    I'm a Master Mason of 5 years (Wow! A bit longer than I thought!) a member of Marion #6 in Iowa. My entire family has been involved in masonry - my dad and both granddads are involved in lodge, my mom and one grandma is involved in OES.
    I'm also involved in DeMolay as an advisor, and while I was an active member, I attained the office of State Master Councilor.
    I think I fall most easily into the category of agnostic, so far as religious preferences are concerned. I believe that there is a higher power, but to even begin to quantify it is to limit it.
    Work-wise, I'm a software developer/web developer at Rockwell Collins.


  2. <Pulls up lawnchair>
    <Grabs Sprecher Root Beer from ice chest (WI Grand Lodge has a no alcohol except with prior written approval policy)>

    Name: Joshua M. Armstrong
    Age: 22
    Gender: Male
    Race: Caucasian (White)
    Species: Homo Sapiens Sapiens/Neophilus
    Lodge Affiliation: Grand Lodge of Wisconsin
    Country: United States of America
    State: Wisconsin
    City: West Allis (suburb of Milwaukee)
    Birthplace: Portsmouth, Virginia, U.S.

    I am a Master Mason. I am not a member of any Appendant or Concordant Masonic Bodies. I am the Worshipful Master of Excelsior Lodge #175 Free and Accepted Masons of Wisconsin. Excelsior Lodge is located in Milwaukee, WI. Not Excelsior, WI (which does exist) but is over 100 miles away from me :)

    I love Masonry. In all its forms. I enjoy degree work, both watching and participating. I like meeting new people and enjoying the brotherhood that comes from Masonic visitation.

    During high school, I went through a spirituality exploration phase. I finally settled on Discordianism which is a parody religion akin to the Church of the Subgenius and Pastafarianism. By the time I joined Masonry, however, I was looking for something much more serious. Most of the Masons in the lodge I joined were Christians. I was never once witnessed or proselytized to at a Lodge meeting. Yet their positive influence was enough to convince me that Christianity was where it's at. So I studied a lot and received Christ. A year later, I joined the only local church that would accept me as a Mason, First Lutheran Church (ELCA, the very liberal Lutheran church in America). Some preachers from the WELS (the very conservative Lutheran church in America) started giving me noise about the ELCA being Satan's playground and such and I got very afraid and was almost ready to quit my church and Masonry and college and go be a "hermit for Jesus." My mom, grandmother, and Lodge brethren, therapist, and pastor talked me out of it.

    I think I have a much better understanding of Masonry because of my religion and vice versa. Masonry is still very exiting to me and I hope to continue despite the current membership and attendance problems my lodge is facing.

    (I don't care about politics. I'm technically moderate leaning toward liberal but I see realistic socialism like the former mayors of Milwaukee as the ideal political system.)

    Check out the Lodge website at http://www.excelsiorlodge.org.

    If you can stomach the drive from wherever you are to Dousman, WI (our Grand Lodge), you can participate in our mega Master Mason event. We're doing an outdoor MM degree on September 29, 2007 at 10 AM at the Grand Masonic Center in Dousman WI. It's gonna be BIG! Like over 100 MMs in attendance. All MMs are invited.

  3. From the other side of the Atlantic Ocean

    Name: Jose Ruah
    Age: 42
    Country: POrtugal
    City : Lisbon
    Grand Lodge Legal Of Portugal ( recoginized by all regular Grand Lodges)
    Mother and Only Lodge: Mestre Affonso Domingues nº 5
    Ritual: Ancient and Accepted Scotish rite - blue lodges

    I'm a Mason since 1991, Master Mason in 1992.
    32º Degree Scottish Rite since 1994

    Was WM of my lodge in 1996/1997

    I Am actually Grand Inspector in my Grand Lodge, having the ritual supervision of more than 35 Lodges country wide.

    I have been Grand Junior Warden, Grand "Orateur", And Grand Senior Deacon - AS we practice a different ritual these are the aproximative positions at York.

    With two other bretheren of my lodge we publish at


    several themes concerning freemasonry.

    Jose Ruah

  4. My name is David German.
    I have been a Mason for 5 years and a member of Garden City-Builders Lodge #587. Right now I am the Senior Warden while also being a Grand Steward. I have been involved with the MICHiP prpgram for the past 4 years. MICHiP is the Michigan CHild Identification Program. Right now there are about 26 states involved with their own child program.
    I am also a member of the Royal Arch, Council, Commandery and College. On myspace you can find me under the name of Masonicbuilder. Thanks for the add Widows Son.


  5. A Master of St. John from Copenhagen, Denmark, currently staying in Oakland, CA. Been a Mason since 2005, and it has been a wonderful experience, not the least to take on the road. I am a member of the Danish Order of Freemasons, which is a Christian, a-dogmatic system (called Swedish Rite) - it is a beautiful ritual unlike anything I have encountered elsewhere, and I already miss it, even though I'm happy to be visiting and enjoying the global fellowship.

    I have written some about my journey into masonry here:

    And I am blogging here:


  6. Welcome to the reunion, brothers. Glad to see you here. Make yourselves at home.

    — W.S.

  7. Widow’s Son, First, I must say that truly enjoy your blog. It remains to be interesting and informative and I wish you the best in your continued blogging.
    So, I’ll grab a lawn chair and pull a frosty Samuel Adams from the bottomless ice chest.
    I’m originally from South Carolina, USA but currently live in Japan. I’ve been over here for close to 7 years. My grandfather was a Mason. I have contemplated becoming a Mason for about 12 years. About a year ago, I decided I’d like to become a Mason began talking with the local lodge, but, unfortunately, there was and continues to be a familial conflict regarding my decision. So it looks like I will remain an outsider and continue to read about the fraternity from afar.
    I think Freemasonry is a great organization. There are, like any large organization, a few bad apples that tend to spoil the bunch, affect the organization and the public’s perception. I sincerely believe the intent of the majority is good. And the organization, as a whole, has it’s heart in the right place. Freemasonry probably could be better, IMHO. Not entirely sure how, but I think it should start at the local lodge level. The active participation of lodge members that have the desire and perseverance to maintain a persistent, enriching experience are the key to a good lodge and in turn a better organization. Some lodges have this, others, sadly, do not.
    I don’t have a blog. I’m still mulling over the theme and design of it. One day I may actually start it. I originally didn’t think I had much to say, but now I think that I may have more than I once thought…
    I’m in Information Security/Computer Security.
    I am American, through and through. I never much cared for politics, but I’m finding myself increasingly interested. Lately, I’ve been asking myself where I see myself on political topics. Maybe because of the presidential race, I don’t know. I consider myself an open-minded-moderate-conservative. I’m still trying to get a feel for all of the presidential candidates. The Democratic candidates don’t really do it for me and I’m not informed enough about the Republican candidates. I didn’t think the Iraq War was the right choice initially. However, I do think for the US to leave at this point would do much more harm for everyone involved.
    I would categorize myself as a Christian. Unsure of the sect, that has been something that I have been coming to grips with for over the past 2-3 years. I don’t agree with mixing Masonry and religion inside the lodge. Throughout my religious self-discovery, as mentioned above, I have on more than one occasion offended folks by just asking simple questions about one’s faith to gain understanding. You would be surprised (actually, maybe not considering the adventures you've had with this blog and the Barrel of Snakes affair) how many folks have never really questioned anything outside of what they have been taught by their religious leaders for many years. I'm not advocating disrespect of authority, just the deep digging and soul searching to find what one believes, not what society, peers and family wants them to believe. What one in their heart of hearts can truly see as their own belief (sorry, I feel pretty strong about this).
    The forefathers of Freemasonry were very correct in leaving politics and religion outside of the lodge. They have perpetually been a polarizing agent amongst people.
    Oh, one more thing, I’m starting the line for the karaoke machine (I’ve been in Japan way too long and it shows- I love karaoke).

    (Kinda got carried away, sorry for the length)

  8. The virtual reunion is a great idea. Let's see...

    Master Mason (3 years)
    Cincinnati, OH, USA
    JD of Norwood-Winton-Carthage Lodge #576 (Grand Lodge of Ohio)

    Also member of:
    Norwood Chapter #192, R.A.M.
    Scottish Rite, Valley of Cincinnati

    I had the pleasure this year of reversing tradition a bit and bringing my father into the fraternity.

    Christian - Southern Baptist (yes we do exist)

    I work in IT for a very large multi-national tech-type company and own a few small companies myself (some technical, some not.)

    I'm drinking an ice-cold Coke not because the GL of OH says so but that's just how I roll (most of the time.)

    My outlook on masonry is looking up as of late, our SW (if elected WM) has big plans for more community involvement and reaching out to our members. We are a very large lodge hovering near 900 members so we can do much more.

  9. Call me the new guy, at least among the MMs here... Raised last week at Jacques De Molay Lodge #1390 in Houston, TX. Debating joining Scottish Rite, as there's a reunion in 2 weeks and now would be the time to do it, but part of me wants to get more comfortable within the workings of the Blue Lodge before I extend my realms of opportunity and knowledge. My great grandfather was a Mason in New York until his death in the early 1970's. I haven't yet been able to find out what lodge, or if any of his pins, rings, certificates or other regalia may have been passed on to any of my other relatives. (Though the beginnings of that quest have lead me in some interesting directions, including a brief correspondence with J.D. Salinger's ex-wife, strangely enough...)

    The brother who sponsored my petition has been a good friend since high school, a groomsman at my wedding, and is the godfather of my daughter. Joining was something I'd been interested in doing for many years, but it wasn't until 2007 that all the pieces fell into place in my life for things to work out as they should. Now that brother is chaplain of our lodge, and I can't think of a better brother to have in that seat (he studied comparative religion in college, and I don't think I'd be able to pin him down to a specific denomination, though he's clearly one of the more spiritual men I know.)

  10. Greetings brother and sisters!
    My name Tom Coste. Iam a Past Master of Rocky River 703 in Ohio.
    It is a suburb of Cleveland. I joined the fraternity thinking it was one of the last "mystery schools" around, plus seeing shows depicting our founding fatehrs as masons.
    Well, while traveling to the east, IMHO, I was one of the new guys asking " is this all there is?". So I also joined evry group there was looking for further light, but was disappointed in what the other groups offered in way of philosophical teachings and light(this is my perception and not everyones, so rebuttals are not necessary, I am talking about MY experience in my little masonic world)

    So I pulled back and concentrated on Blue Lodge and Blue Lodge only. I slowly became a student of the history to get a better understanding of the environment that spawned the GL of 1717.

    I then became aquainted with other young masons, who were the brunt of much negative masonic conversations, so I took the time to talk to these young men, ad also could not believe what I was hearing, so I investigated, and saw that the young masons where being mistreated without any recourse, so I threatened to step down as Worshipful Master of my Lodge if this situation is not rectified honestly. Well I than became a plural memember of Halcyon 498, started a Blog that was documenting the misbehavior being shown us, and was ordered to shut it down, which I did.

    I now am a masonic war veteran of many a battles for our right as a Lodge, am one of the eldest in the Lodge at 40, researching and studying as much as I can about the beginnings of masonry. I firmly believe that the masonry the Ben Franklin, geo washington, paul revere, hancock, voltaire and lafayette was greatly different than what we practice today, and that is what I search for, that is what I feel has been lost to us and needs to be redisovered.
    WS, great blog, you are a light in a world attempting to darken the idea of free speech. Many of our forefathers were imprisoned for speech and writing against the leaders of society, so that is one of a masons job is to ensure all get free speech, that is one freedom that will should never be taken from us, but many a mason would rather us continue to operate in the dark.

    WS, keep up the good work.
    Brother Tom Coste
    Halcyon 498
    (now that that is done, I will reach into my cooler and pull out a Corona Light, dieting a little, unfold my chair, break out some nacho's and beef jerky, and enjoy the festival)

  11. *removes purple apron and Masonic bling and stores them in apron case*

    *grabs a Rolling Rock from ice chest*

    *pulls up chair next to Tom Coste, and hands him a jar of home-made salsa for the nachos*

    (Bro. Coste, I'm dieting, too!)

    I'm Tom Accuosti, from one of the blogs next door. Connecticut readers might also know me from some of the articles that I've done for "The Square & Compasses" magazine and "The Connecticut Freemason" newspaper. Or maybe from that stunt I pulled at the 2005 Grand Lodge session...

    I was raised in Nov 2001, got sucked right into the officer's line, and was WM of Friendship Lodge No. 33 in 2006. In April of 2007, they decided to toss me a purple apron and see how I'd do as the District Grand Lecturer (which means that I get to oversee the quality of ritual work for 8 lodges). I also serve on the Masonic Education Committee, where I've finally learned that I should stop looking interested at meetings, lest I be "volunteered" for anything else.

    I've lived in Connecticut all of my life, and I'm the only Mason in my family.

    My religious background is *ahem* "varied," and I had a copy of the "Tao Teh Ching" on the altar for my EA. Personally, I dont' mind some mixing of religion in lodge, because I understand that there is a close connection between religion and morality for most Masons.

    Politically, I identify as "Libertarian," although I'm not registered with any party.

    I run a small manufacturing business, specializing in small-quantity CNC machining.

    And before y'all pass the karoke mic to me, I'd better have another beer. Got any Meatloaf tapes?

  12. I bring you greetings from Unification, Lodge #1712 of the American Federation of the International Order of Co-Freemasonry, Le Droit Humain. And that is, admittedly, a mouthful. To recover, I'm cracking a beach beer, a Corona with lime, because today is going to be a scorcher. Hey, Bro. Tom, will you pass that homemade salsa?

    Co-Freemasonry is a system in which men and women work together as equals within mixed lodges. The name of my obedience, Le Droit Humain, translates loosely as "human rights," but it carries a connotation similar to what our founding fathers laid out as our unalienable rights in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence. This order was founded in France in 1893.

    I work in the Orient of Los Angeles, in a lodge that is small and lively. When not doing ritual work, our emphasis in lodge is on the discussion and presentation of papers produced by the brothers and sisters, mostly on philosophical topics. We are unique among the lodges of the American Federation because we use a ritual translated directly from the French which is called the Continental Ritual here in the U.S., while in France they call it the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.

    I have been a Mason for 8 years, a MM for 6, because we spend a year in each of the first two degrees before being raised into the 3rd. I'm currently holding the position of Junior Warden, which in our system is the Warden in charge of educating the EAs.

    My husband is a member of my lodge too. Both of us had grandfathers who were Masons. Mine was a Shriner as well--I still have his fez. My other grandfather was a Knight of Columbus. But the fact that our grandfathers were members of fraternal organizations had little to do with either of our interests in FM. Rather, our interest in it comes from a fascination with the ideas (and ideals) of the 18th century.

    My politics lean liberal and I do not belong to any organized religion. I believe strongly in the virtue of Tolerance, one of the cornerstones of our teachings, so I do enjoy listening to contrasting viewpoints, and absolutely respect everyone's right to believe as they choose. That might be one reason why I enjoy this blog so much!

  13. Wow, I'm glad this reunion is turning out quite well.

    Time to introduce myself.

    Initiated 6-21-07, returned my degree work in the 14 day minimum limits, and raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason 1 months 10 days ago. I am an 18 year old Mason in Texas. My personal philosophy is that anything I do, I will pour my heart into. Does age really have any bearing on what I am able to perceive or comprehend? What is the limiting factor to what I can or cannot do?

    What made me interested in Freemasonry is the ideals and philosophy that it holds. I'm quite active in the local lodges attending 2 lodges weekly. Another aspect I enjoy is the fellowship, but that’s not my main reason I'm there.

    I'm the first one in my family to become a mason, perhaps because I am an Asian American.

    I have written a couple of papers but I don’t blog. Yours is the only one I comment on. Aren’t you special.

    Since I'm still new, I'm blue lodge only and actually plan to stay that way for a while. I'm considering Royal Arch but maybe for a future time. I like the blue lodge because that’s where the self-improvement really happens. I think there is a lot of unnecessary politicking going on in the other bodies. I feel that if people took to heart more of the teachings, masonry would be a lot better off.

    Religious affiliation: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Do I support mixing religion inside the lodge? No. I enjoy meeting others from other religions who have the tolerance to respect others for who they are. If they want to learn more, I’m always open to share.

    Politically aloft, not enough time for everything.

    Regarding freemasonry today? I believe that it could always use improvement. Couldn’t we all become better? I believe that what freemasonry stands for is very meaningful but what could improve are the people. As in all organizations, you do get some bad ones, after all, we are all human.

    Drink I pulled from the bottomless ice chest? Bottled water. I’m underage and my body is a temple :).

    Always a pleasure W.S.,

  14. Bro Accousti, Thanks for the home made salsa...
    I used to drink the rock when I was in Pa.
    may I interest you in some John Mayall on the boom box? Great jazz fusion.........
    I've dropped about 20lbs. so far....
    If you want to check me out go to our webpage and I'm the guy posing with the prince hall brothers in the brotherhood section....
    Cheers to you Brother!
    Here's looking up your old address
    Bro Coste
    halcyon 498

  15. << introduce yourself. >>

    I prefer not to reveal my identity, or even my grand lodge affiliation, because I believe it would reflect badly on the Masons in my area.

    << Are you a Mason? >>

    That's hard to say, but I'm definitely no longer welcome in "regular" lodges here.

    << For how long? >>

    I was a Mason for just short of 10 years before the Grand Master in my state declared me "suspended pending trial." He then appointed 5 of his closest friends to "try" me as a "Grand Lodge Trial Committee," and they sentenced me to what's believed to be the longest "definite suspension" in the history of Freemasonry -- 50 years.

    My crime? As Worshipful Master of my lodge, I held a successful public fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina victims, and the Grand Master (who wasn't there) claimed that I allowed two former Masons to attend the event with their families and friends. Even if that could be considered "un-Masonic," the fact is that I didn't do it, and half a dozen Past Masters attested to that fact at my "trial." If the "jury" had cleared me, however, my acquittal would have proven the Grand Master wrong, and the politically appointed jury members lacked sufficient courage and/or integrity to do that.

    << What Masonic groups do you belong to? >>

    I am (or was) a "perpetual" member of both my blue lodge and the Scottish Rite (Southern Jurisdiction), and I was a member of the York Rite Chapter, Council, and Commandery. The Grand Lodge and the Scottish Rite kept my $900 in "perpetual" dues, so I suppose they think I'll outlive my sentence and automatically be reinstated in 2055.

    << Are you "mainstream," Prince Hall, Le Droit Humain, etc.? >>

    Mainstream, "Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons."

    << What awards, gold chains and fancy aprons have you collected? >>

    I was frequently "Mason of the month" at my lodge, and if the Grand Master hadn't kicked me out, I would have soon been nominated for the "Pillars of Solomon Award," which is the highest honor a blue lodge here can bestow upon its members. I was nominated for the award once before by a committee consisting of all my lodge's living recipients, but it required unanimous consent of the principal officers, and since I was the Worshipful Master at the time, I declined on the grounds that it would have been a conflict of interest.

    At the time I was suspended, I was also considering accepting a nomination for Grand Secretary, a position held in my jurisdiction for the last 17 years by a Past Grand Master with only a high school education, who receives a compensation package of about $100,000 per year. In our jurisdiction of fewer than 18,000 members, which also employs a bookkeeper and a receptionist, that seemed excessive to me, and if elected, I'd planned to donate at least half of it back to the fraternity.

    << Are any of your family members involved in Masonry? Anyone involved with the Eastern Star? >>

    After I joined the lodge in the mid 1990s, I learned that a few of my distant relatives and ancestors had been Masons, but none of my immediate family ever was, and they weren't particularly enthusiastic about me joining. They were perceptive enough to realize that if Masonry was all it claims to be, it wouldn't need to constantly defend itself against all sorts of criticism, and the institution would be flourishing rather than dying.

    << What do you think of Freemasonry? Love it, hate it, tolerate it, wish it was better, or think it's peachy-keen just like it is? >>

    At best, it's an organization where good men can meet other good men, enjoy each other's company, support each other in difficult times, and encourage each other to uphold high moral standards. At worst, it's a good-old-boy's club where unscrupulous politicians and bureaucrats hone their manipulative skills on a naive and docile membership, which is largely addled by dotage.

    Unfortunately, my experiences have revealed a lot more of the latter than the former, and despite the moral lessons of the rituals, most brothers value their membership more than their integrity. If forced to choose between doing something they know is wrong, or possibly losing their lodge affiliation, the vast majority of Masons will choose the former, even specifically violating their obligations.

    << Do you blog? Have you written books or papers, Masonic or otherwise? Feel free to post links. >>

    I don't blog myself, although I do enjoy reading this blog, and I occasionally post anonymous comments when I'm so inspired. I particularly enjoy the dialogs that develop here between new Masons who believe all the rhetoric they're taught, and "old heads" like me, who've been around long enough to see that the actions of most Masonic leaders don't match the lessons taught in the degrees and lectures.

    << Are you an American? >>

    Yes. My family immigrated to America in the 1600s, and came to my particular state 175 years ago. I can trace my lineage directly back through the American Revolution.

    << Are you politically conservative, liberal, libertarian or anarchist? >>

    Most people probably think I'm a lot more conservative than I really am, but I find my present inclinations leaning toward anarchism.

    I don't believe that "free" people need to be constantly surveilled, or to have goon squads beat them into submission for stepping out of line. The world I see today increasingly resembles the dark, socialistic societies depicted in George Orwell's "1984," and Pink Floyd's "The Wall."

    As a case in point, I read last week that the first Chief of Police at our most prestigious state university, is about to retire. The university had existed for over 100 years when he was hired in 1971, and never had a police force until that time. As one of his major "accomplishments," the chief noted his persuasion of the university Board of Trustees to allow his officers to begin carrying firearms on campus in 1976.

    A few days later, I noticed that a smaller state university here, whose police department is even newer than the one mentioned above, has just purchased more than a dozen new "M-16" military assault rifles, and has sent its officers for special training in the use of military machine guns.

    Why should a state university in a sleepy Midwestern town, need a campus police force armed with military assault weapons? What's next, military tanks to crush anyone who attempts to demonstrate or express any form of individuality? Oh, wait, that's communist China, our "Most Favored Nation" trading partner, whose cheap products made by child and prison labor, are endangering the American public and putting countless American workers and companies out of work.

    << Who do you support for U.S. president in 2008? >>

    I haven't seen a single candidate who favorably impresses me, and I don't expect to. In the end, the American public will be left choosing between the lesser of evils, just as we've done for the past multitude of election cycles.

    There's an old cliche that says: "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach; but those who can't do either, become politicians." I think that's a fairly accurate assessment, at least in regard to politicians. American politics is a dirty business, and it attracts dirty people. The last thing anyone would do who's honest, successful, and psychologically stable, would be to enter American politics as a career choice today.

    << What do you think of the War in Iraq? >>

    I think the war in Iraq is a quagmire orchestrated by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, both of whom are holdovers from the notoriously corrupt Nixon administration. They and their cronies have made billions of dollars from the conquest and occupation of Iraq, but nothing beneficial has been gained, or even had the potential to be gained by the average citizens of America, or Iraq.

    Hussein was the most "westernized" of all the political leaders in the Middle East. He wore a military uniform or a business suit, instead of sheets and napkins like most of the leaders in surrounding countries, and he kept Iran and other Moslem extremist nations in check, while affording no quarter to Al Qaeda.

    Today, ordinary citizens in Iraq can't even buy groceries without getting blown to bits in their local markets. Unemployment is 85%, and people are routinely abducted and murdered while waiting in line for jobs. Public services and utilities are intermittent (at best), and both Al Qaeda and Iran are stronger than ever.

    More than 3,000 of America's finest young men and women have been killed, and over 20,000 have been maimed and/or disabled, yet what's been accomplished? Has international opinion of the US been enhanced? Has the security of American citizens at home and/or abroad been strengthened? Are Americans better off today than they were before the present administration took office? By and large, the clear answer to all those questions is "no."

    In the end, the outcome will be the same as it always is for all wars: a few rich people will get richer, while a lot of poor people will get killed. Call it what you will, but that's going to be the ultimate outcome.

    << Do you support mixing Masonry and religion inside the lodge? >>

    Anyone who attempts to argue that religion and Masonry aren't inseparably mixed, is either disingenuous, or woefully naive. If Masonry wasn't "religious," there'd be no need for the institutional discrimination against atheists. Likewise, there'd be no need to recite all the Bible verses employed in the various degrees, such as: "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together....," and "Remember now thy creator....."

    American Masonry can't be characterized as strictly "Christian," because the ritual focuses on events (such as the building of King Solomon's temple) that happened prior to the time of Christ. It is, however, most fundamentally Judeo-Christian in nature, as the entire premise revolves around the stories and philosophy of the Old Testament.

    << Oh, and what kind of drink did you pull out of our bottomless ice chest? >>

    Just a glass of water (which is more than I can get today at any "regular" lodge in my own state).

  16. Excellent post brother
    I cannot argue with one thing you stated!
    Great Job and stay vigilent

  17. AEdifico [still wearing his Zorro mask for the time-being] has arrived!

    Arizona, Acacia Lodge #42
    New to Blogging.

    I bring greetings from 110 degrees (and I ann't talking about masonic...I mean farenheit).

    I come from a very long line of Mexican Roman Catholics (I still practice) who settled in the Southwest (US) and Northwest (MEX) about 300 years ago. We were here before there was a U.S., and I expect we'll outlast it to. Please don't be offended...even the Egyptian Empires were outlasted by the locals.

    [Hey! Pass the chips...I brought more salsa.]

    I regularly drink Tequila (not the crap you guys might know from college...I drink the sipping kind) and I enjoy all types of food and drink (but not at Lodge...we're dry).

    My time in the Marine Corps was nothing compared to some of the battles I have seen waged over the silliest of Masonic concepts...but that's what makes our Craft so much fun!...Right?

    I was raised in 1994, and with the love and support of my brothers, I hope they will make me their WM this fall (I am now the SW).

    Scottish Rite 32. AZ Research Lodge #1. Hispanos Unidos (Spanish Speaking) Lodge #83.

    Because I am an Attorney, I tend to be a bit serious...as clearly revealed by some of my blogs. But I do enjoy a good laugh as often as I can get my hands around its throat.

    I am glad to put some personality behind some of the names I read about (I tended to lurk-around on Masonic blogs till I started my own...now I participate a little more).

    Thanks for hosting the pic-nic. And yes...I will have another beer, thank you very much.

  18. <lurks outside the circle of lawnchairs for a while>
    <pulls another one up>
    <grabs a Moxie from the cooler>

    I'm not a Mason yet, but I'll try to stay out of everyone's way until my petition is voted on in a couple of weeks. :)

    I hail from the hinterlands of western Massachusetts (central, really, but as far as Boston folks are concerned, anything west of Framingham is "western mass", so western it is.)

    My maternal great and great-great grandfathers were both Masons, and I have at least one paternal ancestor who was very active in Freemasonry, but I pretty much stumbled into this on my own. My mother-in-law said she's going to give me her late father's Masonic ring if/when I'm raised. My father-in-law was a DeMolay, but never pursued the blue lodge. I believe his father was a Mason, too.

    I've been blathering on about my Masonic experience thus far at The Examined Life since June.

    I'm a web programmer by trade, working at home for a small, virtual company.

    Although I wouldn't exactly call myself "affiliated", I was raised in the United Church of Christ. I am grateful for what I was taught in church and sunday school growing up, which was more or less "try to be a good person, and be nice to your family and other people, and don't be a jerk."

    Politically, I consider myself disillusioned. I do vote, but it usually feels like I'm choosing the least objectionable candidate, as eloquently described by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. I would call myself fairly centrist with a liberal bias.

    As I have not yet experienced whatever types of discourse may go inside the lodge (any lodge, or the one I'm petitioning), I am perhaps not qualified to answer whether or not I support mixing Masonry and religion inside the lodge. I will say though, that it seems to me that a reasoned discussion of comparative religion (as opposed to a debate over WHICH ONE IS RIGHT) would not necessarily violate the concept of "keeping religion out of the lodge." Given that blue lodge ritual is drawn from Judeo-Christian lore, I don't see how one could possibly avoid the subject entirely. Knowing how personally and passionately some people take their religion, it does seem like the best policy is to discourage religious discussion as a rule.

    Please don't anyone feel offended if I split when the karaoke starts. :)


  19. Dewi is the name I post under this David in Welsh. So yes my name is David.

    Are you a Mason? Yes
    For how long? 4 years
    Where are you from? Connecticut
    What Masonic groups do you belong to? Blue Lodge and Scottish rite
    Are you "mainstream," Prince Hall, Le Droit Humain, etc.?A.F.&A.M.
    Are any of your family members involved in Masonry? Yes my father and My Mother is O.E.S.
    What do you think of Freemasonry? I love it, and think that more people should learn about it. However it can improve.
    Do you blog? No
    Have you written books or papers, Masonic or otherwise? No
    Feel free to post links.
    What do you do for a living? Adjuster
    And since this isn't an official and/or tyled meeting, let's talk religion and politics. (Your lips are already loosened by that beer you're drinking, so speak up.)Beer hell I've been drinking the wine.
    Are you an American? No, I am a Yankee from Connecticut. Oh, yes I'm American.
    Are you politically conservative, liberal, libertarian or anarchist? Conservative mostly
    Who do you support for U.S. president in 2008? None of the people that are running.
    What do you think of the War in Iraq? What is there to think about it?
    Are you Christian (please specify sect), Muslim, Jew, pagan, agnostic, atheist or what? I'm Episcopalian.
    Do you support mixing Masonry and religion inside the lodge? No
    Oh, and what kind of drink did you pull out of our bottomless ice chest? Wine Red Wine


  20. Are you an American? No, I am a Yankee from Connecticut.

    Heh heh - not the first time I've heard that!

  21. (Pulls up chair, grabs ping of Guiness from the bottomless ice chest.)

    If you read the commentary that Widow's Son posts to the side of his blog, you'll know that my real name is Don Tansey.

    I was raised in St. John's Lodge #2 in Middletown Connecticut a year ago February. I am also a member of the Philosophic Lodge of Research here in CT. I guess you'ld call the branch of Masonry I belong to as "mainstream". Although our Past Grand Master suggested, while he was in office, that "George Washington" Masonry would be a better title.

    No awards or gold chains. Just a Senior Deacon.

    I'm the first of my family to be involved in Freemasonry.

    I happen to love Freemasonry. I think that the biggest change I would like to see is more programs at the Craft Lodge level. Just posted about it in fact.

    I blog (Movable Jewel) and I have written two papers: "A Guide For The Fellowcraft, Or What The Heck Is A Modillion", and "The Nonverbal Lessons Of The Three Degrees". The first was presented in my home Lodge, the second at the Philosophical Lodge of Research. It's what got me voted in as a Research Member.

    I work in Information Security for a relatively small company here in Connecticut.

    I'm a US citizen and a Libertarian. I have not chosen a candidate to support in '08 yet. I regret our involvement in Iraq, but I have no easy answers. I would just like to see our men and women in uniform come home safely and leave a stable country in their wake.

    I prefer to keep the specifics of my religious practice to myself and wish that others would do the same. I believe in a Source Of All and worship in my own faltering way. As far as I know, I am a religion of one.

    In a way, I support the mixing of religion and Masonry. I believe discussing religion factually, as is done in a college course on comparitive religion, and not in trying to change another's religious belief could be a benefit to the Brethren in breaking down stereotypes and promoting tolerance.

    And, sorry I'm late, but I was busy planning first wedding anniversary this week.

    Traveling Man

  22. Oh yeah, and I'll out Meat Loaf Brother Accousti any day of the week and twice on Sunday.


  23. Great idea. Unfortunately, being from the same state as WS (Grand Lodge of GA), I must decline to definitively identify myself as it would be easy to know who I am.

    I was raised in 1999 at the age of 49. My father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all Master Masons. My great-great-grandfather founded a lodge in GA back in the early 1800s. I have not been very active in Masonry or any appendant bodies. I attend meetings but do not have time to take on officer positions, etc.

    Ironically, I am a baptized Catholic. However, I became agnostic in college. Like many of the Founding Fathers, I am also a Deist ("god left the world to run like clockwork").

    Workwise, I am a published scientific researcher, with an MD (neurology), a Ph.D. (biochemistry) and an MBA (finance).

    Polically, of course, I am a Libertarian though I would never join that party. Like the Founding Fathers, I believe in limited government, a revolution every few years, less taxes, more individualism and more of an isolationist approach to foreign affairs.

    Drink beer. Any beer. It is the best diuretic money can buy.

    Fraternally yours,
    The Libertarian

  24. I hope I didn't miss the party? Maybe I'm fashionably late?

    Name: Dean Kennedy
    Age: 33

    I live in Halifax, NS, Canada. I was raised in Woodlawn Lodge #131. Actually flew back for my third degree after moving to Ontario. I met many good masons in Toronto, Ontario before I moved back home again.

    I'm a past master, shriner, yellow dog and member of the Scottish rite (14th). As well as a past member of the Toronto Masonic Research Society. Someday I'll get back and finish the rest of my scottish rite degrees but I'm busy with my business and young family right now.

    I just affiliated with Ad Astra #130 in Halifax. They do a lot of education and social events.

    Some of you may know me from my masonic Blog... free-mason.blogspot.com

    I'm also an insurance broker, have a domain and hosting website and I am an ongoing marketing entrepreneur. Anything to keep me busy when the rest of the house is asleep or watching something on TV! Well enough about me...


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.