Monday, February 18, 2008

'Mean-spirited and vindictive' edicts

The following anonymous article was submitted by a brother from America's heartland.

A brother and his family in the central US have recently been spending a considerable amount of time helping restore a 19th century cemetery in their family hometown.

The cemetery is located in the business district of a small town near the convergence of two rivers, which prior to extensive modification in the 1980s, occasionally overflowed and produced serious flooding in the area.

Over the years, many of the older monuments in the cemetery were displaced or damaged by floating debris, and recovery efforts sometimes resulted in the removal of grave markers, many of which were natural stones with no apparent inscriptions.

While recently visiting family graves, the brother now helping restore the cemetery discovered a child's marble headstone, which was almost completely covered beneath a thick carpet of grass. The monument was broken at its base, and the lower portion was missing, but a systematic search of the nearby area revealed the lost part, and the stone was repaired with stainless steel pins machined specifically for the purpose.

The search for the lost piece also resulted in the accidental and unexpected discovery of several other markers, as well as numerous white bricks buried at approximately regular intervals. When the locations of the bricks and buried monuments were marked with surveyors' flags, a pattern of unmarked graves began to emerge in a large section of the cemetery where no visible monuments remained.

Several weekends of work have now revealed the locations of more than 50 graves identified by buried bricks and monuments. To date, 40 of the missing or badly damaged stones have been replaced with new markers, while about a dozen marble and natural stone monuments have been excavated and restored. Remarkably, the majority of the lost stones have been found upright, but buried beneath the present surface of the ground.

Many of the town's early records have been lost or destroyed, and no plot maps or burial charts are known for the older part of the cemetery. It seems likely that the exact number and identity of the people buried there may never be known, but the brother who's been assisting with the restoration isn't particularly concerned about that.

"It doesn't matter to me who's buried there," he says. "I'm sure they were people whose lives mattered just as much to them as ours do to us, and I think they deserve to have their graves marked, even if no one ever knows who they were."

The brother's ancestors arrived in the area in the 1830s, and were among the earliest pioneers. After generations as farmers, merchants, and public servants, however, his parents' generation moved away in the years following World War II.

"I feel a connection because of my family history," he says, "but I've never lived there myself, and I'm just an outsider to the people there today. Few of them remember my family, and when I tell them that my ancestors were there 175 years ago, I think a lot of them really don't believe it."

"My grandparents and great-grandparents are buried in that cemetery, and it's possible that even my great-great-grandparents could be among the unmarked graves. They died and were buried in that area in the 1860s, but no records or monuments are known to indicate exactly where."

Today, the brother helping with the restoration efforts prefers to remain largely anonymous. "I don't want any recognition," he says, "I just hope no one complains."

Unfortunately, another reason he prefers to remain anonymous in this forum, is that he's currently serving an unjust 50-year "definite suspension" from Masonry, imposed by the grand lodge in his state for "un-Masonic conduct."

He isn't ashamed of his suspension, but he doesn't want to embarrass the brothers who lacked the courage to stand behind him in his time of need. "Most of them aren't bad guys," he says, "they were just scared the grand lodge would kick them out too, and they did what they had to in order to maintain their memberships."

"If the shoe had been on the other foot," he admits, "I would've stood up for them, but it would've been a lot easier for me because I have a full life outside of Masonry, and I was so sick of all the grand lodge corruption that I wanted out anyway.

"My first experience with our grand lodge occurred several years ago, when a grand lodge officer who was one of our state's top law enforcement officials, filed charges of un-Masonic conduct against a young brother of our lodge for 'a long history of writing hot checks.' I was assigned to a committee to investigate those charges, but we declined to pursue the matter when it was revealed that the brother had written only three hot checks in seven years, the total of which amounted to less than $150, and he'd made full restitution for all of them as soon as he was notified of the insufficiency.

"The grand officer testified to our committee that there were outstanding warrants for the brother's arrest, but attempts to confirm those allegations through sources in two different law enforcement agencies, revealed no such warrants. Whether the grand officer intentionally lied is a matter of speculation, but he had the same resources available to him that we had to us, yet the information he reported was clearly inaccurate.

"When that grand officer rose through the ranks of our grand lodge and became Grand Master, I was elected Worshipful Master of my blue lodge, and I was repeatedly warned that he and several of his cronies were planning to set me up. I didn't know specifically what they were planning, however, so I just continued doing the best I could for as long as I could, and put my trust in God that everything would eventually work out.

"Even though I hoped for the best, I prepared for the worst by teaching the junior officers as much as they were willing to learn about how to keep the lodge going in the event of my absence. I was almost certain that the grand lodge was going to kick me out, but no one else seemed to believe it until it actually happened. Obviously, they had a lot more faith in their grand officers' integrity than I did.

"I was one of the most active members at my blue lodge for a number of years, usually being the first to arrive and the last to leave. I taught lectures and ritual work, and conferred all the blue lodge degrees, but I also organized charitable fundraisers and engaged our lodge in as many activities as I could, to make us an asset to our community.

"My wife and I were usually the only ones who showed up to support the T-ball team our lodge adopted, but that turned out to be a lot of fun. It certainly was a lot more fun than being at lodge at 3:30 on Saturday mornings to help with lodge breakfasts like I did for years, or mowing the lodge lawn and cleaning the bathrooms.

"I brought elderly brothers to lodge and took them home when they weren't able to drive. I took them to doctors and hospitals, and visited them and their families when they were sick. I planned our meals to have leftovers for needy brothers when I could, and I attended more of their funerals and graveside services than I care to remember. For me, that was the worst part about Masonry; most Masons are older men, and just like childhood doesn't last very long, old age doesn't last very long either.

"The end for me came when the Grand Master accused me of violating a new edict he'd issued prohibiting 'suspended' or 'expelled' Masons from attending all lodge events, including those open to the general public. The Grand Master even admitted that the edict was directed specifically at me, because I'd continued extending a hand of friendship to Masons the grand lodge had unjustly kicked out, and I welcomed them just like I welcomed everyone else at public events at our lodge.

"Of course, I thought the Grand Master's edict was mean-spirited and vindictive, but I realized it might be the foundation for the 'setup' I'd been warned about. I figured the grand lodge was hoping I'd disregard it and give them a good excuse to kick me out, but I didn't have any other 'public' events scheduled for the rest of the year, and I hoped circumstances wouldn't arise that would make it relevant to me.

"As it turned out, however, I didn't get that lucky. Hurricane Katrina devastated two of our neighboring states, and within the following week, I organized a fundraiser at our lodge to collect donations for Masonic relief efforts. The event was advertised in local newspapers, as well as several radio stations, and two former Masons who heard about it showed up with their families to contribute to the effort.

"I was informed of the former Masons' arrival by a grand lodge employee who met me on the parking lot as I returned from a nearby restaurant where I'd gone to get more food. I asked his advice about how to comply with the Grand Master's directive, but he just told me he was glad he wasn't in my shoes, then he got in his truck and drove away.

"Being left to my own devices, I decided to read the Grand Master's edict to the expelled Masons, and I did so with three other Worshipful Masters and our own Junior Warden and most senior Past Master as witnesses. I don't know what I'd have done if the suspended and/or expelled brothers had refused to leave and demanded to be treated like any other paying members of the public, but they apologized for the inconvenience they'd caused, graciously wished me success with the fundraiser, and left without further incident.

"I'd sent the Grand Master a written invitation to the event, but he ignored it and chose not to attend. I'm sure he was disappointed to hear that I followed his directive, but he didn't allow that to interfere with the plan to oust me. A few days later, he sent me a certified letter saying he'd removed me from office as Worshipful Master, and declared me 'suspended pending trial' on charges of un-Masonic conduct, namely that I'd 'allowed' two expelled Masons to attend the fundraiser in violation of his directive.

"About four months later, just before the end of his term of office, the Grand Master appointed six of his close friends to 'try' me. He appointed his immediate predecessor in the grand line to serve as 'prosecutor,' and he appointed the prosecutor's best friend to serve as 'chairman' of the Grand Lodge Trial Committee.

"The 'trial' was held in a back room of the grand lodge offices, and only invited witnesses were allowed to attend. Despite irrefutable proof of my innocence, attested to by four Past Masters and a Senior Warden, all of whom witnessed the event firsthand, the Grand Lodge Trial Committee declared me guilty and sentenced me to a 'definite suspension' of 50 years.

"The reason they imposed a 'definite suspension,' rather than 'expulsion,' was to deny me the right of appeal constitutionally guaranteed to expelled Masons in this jurisdiction. The Past Grand Master who served as the prosecutor at my 'trial,' declared during his term as Grand Master that Masons here who are sentenced to 'definite suspension,' have no right of appeal.

"I guess that was the dirtiest thing they could think of to do to me, but it worked out in ways that would have been difficult to predict. I don't think I ever could have turned my back on the brothers of my lodge and willingly walked away, but the more I'd realized how corrupt and morally bankrupt our grand lodge is, the more conflicted I'd been about indirectly supporting it through my efforts to promote Masonry. I really wanted out, and it's a strange twist of fate that their corruption set me free.

"With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, I can say that joining a Masonic lodge is a good way to make acquaintances, but a bad way to make friends. While the majority of Masons aren't very active, most of the ones who are value their lodge affiliations above their personal friendships, their sense of right and wrong, their religious affiliations, and often even their family relationships. I don't think that's the way Masonry was intended, but it's the way it's turned out, at least in my experiences.

"I don't have much interest in Masonry anymore, and I'm glad that part of my life is over. I've had the full Masonic experience from beginning to end, and I'm looking forward to spending the rest of my life with my family and friends, who care about me for reasons less superficial than my lodge affiliation.

"For a number of years, I thought my best friends were my lodge brothers, but I found out the hard way that I was wrong. In that regard, Masonry is a lot like the culture that revolves around the use of illicit drugs. It's a subculture where people experience the illusion of friendship, but the more deeply they become involved in it, the more it actually separates them from their real friends and family.

"I don't regret the time I spent in lodge, because I realize that those experiences have helped me become the person I am today. I am thankful, however, that I'm no longer involved with it, and was fortunate enough to get my life back.

"I'm not aware of anything worthwhile that my former lodge has done in the years I've been gone, but I can point to the graves of more than 50 people right now that'd still be lost if I hadn't gotten kicked out, and I think that's a more significant achievement than any Masonic title or degree.

"If I could give one piece of advice to Masons and potential Masons, it would be this: Don't let people manipulate you into doing things you know are wrong. Follow your conscience, and don't be afraid to stand up for what you believe. People who try to prevent you from doing that are not your friends, and they aren't people who deserve your time, money, or respect."


Restoration efforts continue at the cemetery mentioned above, which was recently named to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Past Grand Master who orchestrated the Masonic lynching, now serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial Association, in Alexandria, Virginia.

The chairman of the Grand Lodge Trial Committee that imposed the unjust 50-year sentence, recently completed a term as the Executive Officer for the International Order of DeMolay in his state. His friend and colleague, the Past Grand Master who served as prosecutor in the case, was fired from his law enforcement career for sexual harassment, and now teaches criminal justice at a university in another state.

The grand lodge employee who refused the brother's request for "good counsel" about how to comply with his Grand Master's directive, has now been elected to the state's grand line, and is on schedule to serve as Grand Master in 2012. Like the others intimately involved with the unjust suspensions and expulsions, this future Grand Master is a proud recipient of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite's 33rd and highest honorary degree.

The picture of the brother upon whom the unjust 50-year suspension was imposed was removed from the wall of his lodge by order of the Grand Master, who declared that because he didn't "honorably" complete his term of office, he isn't entitled to any form or recognition as a "Past Master."

Neither the Grand Lodge of Mississippi, nor the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, ever so much as sent a "thank you" card to the brother's blue lodge for their contribution to Masonic relief efforts, which totaled approximately $3,000.00.

— A Mason

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  1. My Brother! You have my sympathies and Love!

    I, as well, have had my picture removed from Rocky River No. 703 wall of Past Masters for being suspended without a trial.
    It was an edict sent down the line. This was 3 years after I was Master.

    I as well got involved in the saving, restoration and preserving of a registered Historical Building that resides within an Historical District.
    Once it was understood that the young men planned on resurrecting the Temple and the Lodge, we were attcked monthly by the Grand Lodge minions with edicts that were mean-spirited and had NO VALIDITY, so we would not comply.

    It is a shame how very active, high integrity men get ran out of this fraternity on a regular basis.

    We also experienced a rigged masonic trial put on by cronies too.

    So, incidents in the south regions, up North, WVa, Etc..
    i am glad it is only isolated incidences by a few whiners and complainers over not getting their way. That is what the mainstreamers say about ANYONE critical of any Grand Lodge or its minions, they are whiners and complainers for not getting their way....

    Well, they do not seem to whine or complain until thrown out for trying to "make changes from within".

    I am glad you are Free my Brother!
    I am also glad to see you have your Life back. Masonry is filled with small minded men with WAY TOO much free time.

    I am holding to line from the movie, "Kingdom of Heaven", when discussing the Templars/churches actions towards their fellow humans, " What would Jesus do"

    Well, to Grand Lodge of this brother, and the grand lodge dupes of WVa,Ga and Ohio...
    when in the postion of Grand Master, do you make decisions as Jesus would, or Pilate would?

    The decisions ARE NOT that tough...

    You as the Highest ranking masons in your States, has your actions been Christ like or Pilate like, and when the ragular masses of masons ask themselves have their leaders acted like Christ or Pilate, when comming to an answer, do you still follow Pilate?

    Life and decisions can be that simple!

    Nemo me impune lacessit

  2. 2 bowl cain

    It seems persons of high intergrity are often targeted in situations such as this because their intergrity and inherent goodness poses a threat to those whose intentions are not so honorable or whose moral compass has lost it's direction.

    Such people do not want a light shown on their faults and therefore try to to vilify truly good and honorable people, to discredit them out of fear of being compared to them and found lacking.

    This brother seems to have made peace with this unjust treatment and come out a stonger person.

    Let us all learn from his experience and try to emulate his courage.

  3. The Light is a scary thing to ones who operate in the dark

  4. If this truly happened to this brother, it is a sad thing and should not have happened. The brothers of high integrity in our lodge are why I am a Freemason with the word 'free' truly ensconced in the word. Sorry to hear about your expulsion, 2 bowl cain-perhaps you can fill us in on the details? I'm familiar with Halcyon lodge's attempts to save their building, but the details are obscure after they went to the GOUSA. Some of us are sincerely intrigued.

  5. "The end for me came when the Grand Master accused me of violating a new edict he'd issued prohibiting 'suspended' or 'expelled' Masons from attending all lodge events, including those open to the general public ."

    Near the end of 2007, the Grand Master suspended the Master of my Lodge and advised the Senior Warden that the suspended Master could not attend the installation of 2008 officers scheduled in December. The reasons for the suspension are not at issue here; the denial of attending the public installation is! The reasons for this denial were not made known to Lodge members. The result was the resignation of the elected/appointed 2008 line, almost to a man. Several Brothers are young men born in the Philippines who were shocked that freedom in America could be so ignored. To date, none have paid their 2008 dues and the Lodge does not have an installed line for 2008.

  6. Interesting post on Gen-Xers over at your blog, Noon. Doesn't look good for much of anything-not just Freemasonry, but society in general (never had much hope for the latter anyway). Sorry to hear about the events in your lodge.

  7. Masons are unjustly expelled/suspended each year in the United States at the whim of Grand Masters. Justice, Integrity, Morality are merely pretty words that Masons repeat but never accept ot put into action.

    Most active Masons live in fear of losing their membership if called upon to make a moral decision. They simply do whatever they're told, regardless of whether it's right or wrong.

    They have good reason to fear retribution. There are plenty of examples of Masons being expelled for standing up against racism, fraud, immoral acts, injustices, etc.

    As this poster of the article stated Masonry is "morally bankrupt" in the United States.

  8. Freemasonry has voted successfully against the GL selling off tbe Masonic home in our area, has stopped an unreasonable raise in dues, have given money or other aid to needy families and brothers in need. Our lodge sends aid to the troops overseas in the form of care packets. One brother I know dedicated months of his life in the Katrina area helping out victims. This is the Masonry I know, and only a small sampling of the good done in our area. To my knowledge, only one brother has been dismissed from lodge due to his beginning a prison stint unrelated to Masonry. The GL has power, yes, but they serve at the will of the brethren-not the other way around. The Grand Master is a good mason and a moral person. It has been a line like this for years. When I needed someone to fill in for a roughian, I called the DGM in a nearby town. He had a roughian of high quality for me the next day. These allegations are sad in other areas (areas I have no idea where they are) but they do not represent Masonry everywhere,

  9. "Freemasonry has voted successfully against..." - Francois

    That is not true and you know it.

    "Freemasonry" hasn't voted against anything. Perhaps your Grand Lodge has voted in that way, but that is only one of more than 80, when you consider Prince Hall.

  10. "Freemasonry has voted successfully against..." - Francois

    That is not true and you know it.

    "Freemasonry" hasn't voted against anything. Perhaps your Grand Lodge has voted in that way, but that is only one of more than 80, when you consider Prince Hall."

    I was at the particular GL meeting, with some 150 (guess) regular brethren in attendance from their respective lodges. It was a heated debate, but the delegates voted against the GL resolution, much to the latter's chagrin. Having been there and seen it, I know Freemasonry 'voted against' it. It is TRUE, and I know it, because I was there and voted. I watched the count and received the reaction from several GL and regular members. Our GL didn't vote any way-the brethren it serves did the voting. I cannot speak for 80 other GLs, just my experience.

  11. Francois,

    That's very very deceptive remark. You appear to be trying to deceive the general public into believing that Freemasonry is one cohesive body when you know it is not.

    Each Grand Lodge operates independently and makes its own rules and decisions.

    Your earlier remark appears to speak as if all of Freemasonry is doing the things you listed. This is an outright fabrication. Your use of rhetoric in this case was clearly meant to deceive those ignorant of the facts.

    I'm more amazed every day at how far mainstream Masons will stretch the truth and avoid dealing head-on with their failures.

    After all of your high sentenced language in other posts you now stoop to the level of fabrication to try and make a point. Very sad and very immoral.

    Apparently, not all Freemasonry is composed of moral men.

  12. I think I'm finally willing to make on call on Francois' identity. I've studied his language and rhetoric and compared it with other known sources.

    Hello Bro. Brent Morris. :-)

    Nice to have you with us on the Taper. You can learn more about Masonry here than anywhere else.

    It was nice of you to invite your little friend Stoic to be with us as well. ;-)

  13. "Each Grand Lodge operates independently and makes its own rules and decisions."

    Nothing I said was meant to be deceptive. Absolutely, each GL operates independently.

    "Your earlier remark appears to speak as if all of Freemasonry is doing the things you listed."

    To you perhaps, but I clearly said it was my experience. How it appears to you cannot be helped. It is my experience, and according to what I have read and heard about elsewhere, it is not an isolated incident. As before, I cannot speak for 80 other GLs. I do not doubt that there are good things happening there as well. Your fabrication of what I said is very deceptive. Very sad and very immoral by your standards. I do not believe all masonry is composed of moral men, and allow for the dictates of conscience to decide one's own morality. It's not my decision.

    As for me, I was relating MY experience in Freemasonry, which has been a very positive one. NOTHING stated was untrue, and nothing was intentionally deceptive. Take my word for it if it matters enough to you, read it over to prove your point if you can (you cannot)or show where I was being intentionally deceptive. You can't, because it just is not true. Am I in error to think that my experience is not reflected elsewhere? I don't know, but I highly doubt that I am.

    Thanks for the hello, but I am not Brent Morris. Nice investigative work, I must say. ;,) I am not stoic either, although I've always admired the school of philosophy. I do not know stoic, and do not recall talking to him before. He seems intelligent and a good mason.

  14. Come on, guys. You two have become quite petty with your ad hominim attacks against each other, and who cares what the "real name" of a particular poster is? Last time I checked, I don't require passports or drivers' license ID's for people to make comments on this blog.

    Hell, I don't require ANYTHING, but I certainly would appreciate good manners.

    And as you might remember, I'm not a big fan of "outing" people. If someone is using a screen name, they have a reason. It's not your place to judge why, and it's certainly not your job to broadcast their alter ego to the world. Alfred kept Bruce Wayne's secret; Jimmy would have never outed Clark had he found out.

    Here's an experiment: Try imagining each other as someone you love and respect. Pretend the other guy is Jesus Christ (without the rumored "perfection"), or Thomas Jefferson (without the slaves), or your father (without your Oedipus complex). Explain. Engage. Argue your side of an issue. With absence of malice. With a Masonic attitude. With good manners, witty banter, and sharp, on-the-mark logic.

    Like I said, an experiment. Try it for a week and see if you're not happier.

    If you're not happier after a week of acting like and treating each other like gentlemen, then ascertain each other's identities privately, meet in a boxing ring, and beat the living $#!+ out of each other. :)

    — W.S.

  15. Your words are well-considered, WS. I will definitely take a crack at it. I'll admit I enjoy a bit of a row, but it really doesn't help much aside from entertainment value. What say you, Howard? Think we can do this? I'd prefer to meet as friends anyway.

  16. I'll take option #2.

    Nine rounds at the new Halcyon Golden Gloves Ring sounds like a better use of time. Besides, I only respect those who have earned it through just and moral action. You failed the test.

  17. Francois,

    In all seriousness (Boxing was a poke at you) there is much that you do not know. My opinion of mainstream Freemasonry has been formed over twenty years of experience dealing with the worst of the thugs. Sometimes I was the only person willing to stand-up against the racism, fraud, and corruption.

    I don't have much respect for armchair generals who haven't made a stand for what is morally right. I'm not saying that you are such, but Hodapp and Stoic certainly are; they talk the talk but get weak in the knees when it comes to walking the walk.

    When it comes to publishing Masonic educational materials, I've written hundreds of pages on the subject and never asked for anything in return. I've even paid my own way just to sit down with a groups of brothers in other states and teach them about the history of Freemasonry.

    Freemasonry should be about bringing out the best in people and enlightening them about our world and the nature of being a human being. People want and need this. It is unethical, in my opinion, to profit at the expense of those who seek personal betterment. There are some things in life that we are morally bound to give freely to others, and this is one of them.

    Mainstream Freemasonry can be fixed but it will require far more courage and commitment than I've seen demonstrated thus far.

  18. "Freemasonry should be about bringing out the best in people and enlightening them about our world and the nature of being a human being."


    In this we find a common ground. Freemasonry has, for me, been an incredible and rewarding experience. I have seen it touch the lives of others and myself.

  19. holiness is in right actions and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves
    and goodness is what God desires in the head and heart- man makes decisions to be good or bad.

    and when you stand before God, you cannot say,"But I was told by another to do thus, or that Virtue was not convenient at the time"
    This, will not suffice....................

  20. nor, " I would not get my KYCH or goofy hat if I took a stand",
    will suffice either..

    Way too many masons in ohio will have to answer to their makers about sitting idly by while men slandered, stole bullied and lied their way through our ranks.

  21. "Howard," you can pitch your sanctimony somewhere else. Didn't make a stand for what is morally right? Weak in the knees? You personally know better than that, which makes you a liar.

    I suppose Preston and Webb and Pike and Mackey and Macoy and Coil and Denslow and Allen Roberts and Mike Poll were greedy bottom feeders every time they sold a book to a Mason. And our regalia manufacturers should be handing out aprons and officers' jewels for free. In fact, we are all criminals for charging dues. Free Freemasonry for everybody. Anything else is just picking the bones clean of our destitute brethren.

    "Laudable Pursuit" was given freely to the fraternity, and still is. Neither I nor any of the other co-authors have ever sought to profit from it. It was intended internally for members of the Craft, and we hoped it would lead to changes we all believe are necessary.

    But Wiley and Ulysses Press separately came to me, not the other way around. Writing those books was the opportunity of a lifetime to educate non-Masons about the fraternity, and a far greater opportunity to do so than some obscure web page could ever be. And if "Freemasons For Dummies" or WBro. Brent Morris' "The Complete Idiot's Guide To Freemasonry" had been published generically as "A Guide To Freemasonry" by the Grand Lodge of Indiana or Georgia or Maryland, given some generic cover, with no brand recognition and no distribution into mainstream bookstores, how much effect on the potential mass of new members would they have had? Or how many of our own members would have picked them up?

    Let me put it another way. The marketplace will decide better than you or I what is and is not useful. Have the fortitude to write your own material and put it out in the marketplace. Pouting and claiming I am some kind of traitor to the fraternity simply because a mainstream publisher paid me for months of full-time work stinks like the sour grapes that they are.

    I keep saying the same thing over and over: show everybody what you've got, Jeff. Not what you want, but what you have really done. Show us your better lodge, not some imaginary perfect place that doesn't exist. Introduce us to your superior Masons. Finally put a stop to your years of anonymous (and often schizophrenic) sock puppetry. Tell us who you are, what you stand for, where you meet, what your successes have been, what challenges you faced. Write your book and give it away for free. Prove you are a better Mason than us poor, deluded "con men" in mainstream Freemasonry, instead of sitting in Mom's basement throwing rotten vegetables at the rest of us and crying because you got the boot from your Grand Lodge. And if what you have is truly superior, the world will beat a path to your door. So far, all I hear is ceaseless yammering, boasting, name-calling and scorn.

    Big hat, no cattle.

    If this is your new brand of Masonry, it's all yours.

    BTW Jeff, if I'm such a evil, money-grubbing goniff, why did you call me wanting to collaborate on a book together about your trials and tribulations? Why would you have ever wanted to be associated with such a "con man?" Or did it suit your own purposes then?

  22. Maybe Jeff does not know how to market to dummies and complete idiots, so that was why he looked to you?

    Jeff's wife was not writing a book about templars to get him invovlved in the fraternity, out of curiosity.
    He was a mason before he joined, spent 20+ years infighting the wrongness and got shafted.

    Since the dummies and complete idiots ideas are praised by the Mainstream masonry, why not try to get an opposing view out there to the dummies and complete idiots?
    You have the audience already..
    that is smart for jeff to solicite the dummies and complete idiots

    And I guarentee, the authors you mentioned who have published books, did not publish them with the idea that the "masses"/ profane would be buying them.

    They had probably spent a considerable amount of time in the craft before approaching a book about this craft.

    Who knows, I just personally have a problem associating with a bunch of dummies and complete idiots!
    Just me though.
    Same with racists too. I do not like associating with hypocrites as well....

    But I am sure the dummies and complete idiot books will draw the highest caliber of men seeking enlightenment, because that is the first section intelligent, well read men turn to, the dummies and complete idiots area of literature.
    oh well, reap what you sow

  23. Why is it that so many of our most distinguished brethren expend great effort poking each other in the eye, yet often completely ignore the particular topics at hand?

    This topic wasn't about Jeff Peace or Chris Hodapp, or who's done the most or least for Masonry, it's about clear wrongs committed against a brother who spent a significant part of his life in the devoted service of his lodge, then got royally screwed by a group of men who shouldn't even be Masons!

    Am I the only one who swore an oath not to "wrong, cheat, or defraud... or knowingly suffer it done?"

    If not, what's more important, the fact that a dedicated brother was defrauded of his membership by a corrupt cabal of grand officers, or the fact that another brother wrote a book and received some compensation for it?

    Why not set aside personal egos and agendas for a while, and write a few lines about the actual topic at hand? It's an excellent opportunity to express your opinion about secret trials, rigged juries, and the corrupt persecution of innocent brothers by guilty ones. Why not take advantage of that opportunity to tell the world that isn't how Masonry is supposed to be, and you're appalled by such behavior?

    Furthermore, if you really take your Masonic obligations seriously, and you're sure that your own grand lodge is nothing like the one described, why not call this situation to the attention of your grand officers, and urge them to take action to formally disavow those whose corruption is obviously tarnishing the reputation of the whole the fraternity?

    This isn't "theoretical," it's a real wrong committed by OUR fraternity, against a brother who was as innocent as anyone has ever been. If Masonry really means anything in our lives and our hearts, wrongs like this shouldn't simply be ignored and forgotten.

    Somewhere in our midst, there's at least one grand lodge led by a long line of corrupt officers. There's also at least one good and decent brother who's suffering a harsh and unjust penalty for something he didn't do, while the rest of us completely ignore his plight.

    It's rather like watching the ruffians attack Grand Master Hiram Abif, yet cowering in the shadows, too afraid to do anything about it.

    Is that the sort of men ALL Masons are?

    If not, there's no one better to prove it than you.

    -- Diogenes

  24. Pertaining to “Mean-spirited and vindictive edicts"

    One has but to review the stories related in this Blog to realize something is not right in Masonry.

    I think all will agree the root philosophy of Masonry is or was in its inception a good thing.

    The original craftsmen in an effort to keep the skills of the stonemasons on a par excellence sat standards of accomplishment and only suitable applicants were qualified as apprentices and each apprentice had to serve a minimum time in each degree. Then further demonstrate they had mastered that level and were prepared to advance.

    Requirements were also set for speculative masons. Requirements of a moral nature meant to be demonstrated by deeds and further articulated by words rather then physical skills.

    Sadly many who knelt at the alters of Free Masonry have failed to learn the lessons that were so earnestly and diligently pointed out to them. We as a society are no longer representatives of our forefathers. Our Fathers, Fathers had little need of lawyers. If they said it, it was so. There was no need for written contracts. Most of our forefathers were illiterate. Thus there was a need for learning lectures and memorizing degree work.

    Not so today. The doors of Free Masonry have not been well tiled. Even when the committee does their best to insure the candidate is suitable material, he may well prove to be a wolf in lambs clothing.

    Just as a politician says with out meaning words necessary to get elected. So does the candidate recite words he’s told? Quicker then political votes can be tallied. The promises of politicians are forgotten and in like manner the words repeated by the candidate are also forgotten. He pays little heed to unfamiliar words and is only confused by alien phraseology. But it is of little concern; he is only interested in getting through the degree and progressing to the next.

    Though he may have been first prepared at heart, he was not prepared by his future Brothers.

    When I was assigned to a committee of investigation. I made a point of asking the petitioner what they new of Masonry. In almost every case the answer was, “very little really”. To which I asked a further question. “Do you make it a habit to join organizations of which you know little or nothing?” A perplexing question to be sure. But I also followed it up by asking. What would you like to know? And I was prepared to answer any question, at least to their satisfaction.

    There -WERE- but three secrets in Free Masonry.

    1. Pass words.
    2. Signs of recognition, Grand Hailing signs of distress.
    3. Conduct of the degrees.

    These too have gone to the wayside.

    When I was entertaining the idea of petitioning the Masonic Fraternity. I sat with a Master Mason for over four hours and (I drug him over the coals). All my questions were answered. Even when I asked, “What is the pass word”? Yes, even that question was answered. His answer was, “that my friend will be answered for you at the proper time and at the proper place”. Not the answer I was seeking but a plausible answer nonetheless.

    Instead of answering apprentice’s questions emphases is given to learning lectures. Lectures with out explanation. He is left to his own to interpret words and phrases. It is little wonder so many interprets incorrectly and since no Brother has seen fit to lead them into enlightenment some fail or loose interest in seeking light altogether and where is he.

    Lost, lost to the fraternity, to himself, and possibly even lost to mankind. Where was Masonry? Why was no one there to put meaning to the words he was just exposed to? Where were those Masons who had just professed the most important tenants of Friendship, Morality and Brotherly Love?

    It is no wonder he has climbed to the top of the ladder and now wears the purple of the fraternity yet he has not learned the lessons of Free Masonry. Though he entered and passed through the degrees and is raised even to the panicle of the Fraternity he is without the understanding. Though he may well have spoken the word Brother many times, he knows not what it means.

    Yet there is an even sadder part to this tail. Though it is true many of those wearing the purple of the Fraternity no not how to Love their Brother and though they persecute those they address as Brothers it is the Fraternity it’s self that has failed him.

    You see it was a member who nominated him. It was yet another who seconded his nomination and the membership who elected him. Sadder still this failing was repeated time and time again.

    There is no law in any Lodge I am aware of that states anything remotely resembling the progression through the line of offices that has grown to be the accepted states quo. The membership has turned aside and allowed those who seek accolades, titles, ribbons, badges and the like to be elected to the high offices of the Fraternity.

    They have arrived at the apex of their ambitions and think themselves to be leaders. And behold they are without compassion, understanding and Love for their Brothers. But they are leaders for the Fraternity has said they are and they lash out at their Brothers with any and everything but Brotherly Love. In a vain effort to prove them selves to be the leader the fraternity has said they are.

    How easily we forget…”the white balls elect and the black ball reject”.

    OD. Burtcher. PM
    Treasurer Harmony Masonic Lodge
    Independent Masonic Lodges of AR.

  25. I can't speak about any other Grand Lodge, because I don't know their law, and the GL in question is not named. In Indiana, there is no rule that says an expelled or suspended Mason may not set foot on a lodge's property, or that someone under that sentence cannot attend dinners, fund raisers or any activity, other than a tyled meeting.

    US Masons have, in many cases, given the divine right of kings to Grand Masters, and allow them to make edicts that are contrary to their jurisdiction's rules, or in direct violation of them. Again, I can only speak up for Indiana to say that a GM here is forbidden to circumvent existing GL laws, a change made in 1999. Now, what is the penalty for breaking that rule? His edict is reversed by the annual Communication at the end of his term, and his actions deemed "improper." In the case of an edict or an indefinite suspension, he is reprimanded, but that didn't get the suspended brother back into his lodge any faster. Other states require that a suspension be accompanied by a trial by the brothers' lodge. But as has been seen in West Virginia, the GM during his term can ignore such rules, and if GL slaps his wrist and says he was improper a year later, the suspended brother didn't get back in for a year.

    Do I believe the activities described in this incident were harsh? Absolutely. If we're hearing the whole story exactly as it went down, with nothing left out, you betcha, I think it was grossly unfair. And to slap a 50 year suspension to circumvent any chance of him getting back in is especially tragic. It is so harsh that I have to wonder what else went on to so poke the eye of the GM that he would lash out like this. Maybe nothing. Maybe more than we're hearing.

    I spoke with a brother I respect very much in Alexandria at Masonic Week. We were discussing actions of GMs around the country, good and bad. "Unfortunately," he said, "attempting to rid this fraternity of all the a-holes is a fool's errand." It can't be done. There will always be good, honest, visionary leaders who will take us to great places and inspire us; and there will always be blinkered, vindictive, narrow-minded ones who will misuse the power they've been entrusted with. And there will always be a vast spread of men in between. Unfortunately, with 51 mainstream and another 35 or so PHA GLs in this country alone, there are 86 chances every single year to get it wrong or get it right. Frankly, I think most of us feel that their Grand Masters are either good ones, or at least mostly harmless. But out of those 86, there's no question there will be a-holes, just by probability. And we're back to that fool's errand.

    I hope the brother who was suspended in the story waits for a year and makes a personal appeal to the next GM or the one after him. And I hope that one of them sees greater value in showing kindness and brotherhood to a Mason who sounds like he has worked hard in the service of his brothers, than in perpetuating what might have been a personal vendetta of a predecessor. Again, I don't know the men or the issues, apart from what has been told here. But we all get the government we deserve, in our communities and in our Grand Lodges. What a GM MAY do and what he SHOULD do are two different issues. Until we as Masons demand rule changes that limit the powers of our GMs, get those changes passed, and make them stick, these stories will, sadly, continue to happen.

    Does that mean there's an epidemic of tyrants installed in the 86 Grand Easts from sea to shining sea? Of course not. And if the problem of small minded GMs, 'clothed in little brief authority,' as Allen Roberts famously said, was as widespread as some would have us believe, then Freemasonry wouldn't be living up to its promise. But these stories ARE rare. Out of all the Masons in your jurisdiction (about 68,000 in Indiana for instance), how many expulsions or suspensions take place in a given year? And of those, how many are for felons or some real activity that actually does warrant such a sentence? I've known a couple of Grand Masters pretty well, and suspensions are the sentence of last resort. Most of them go out of their way to avoid suspending brethren.

  26. Hodapp,

    I'm afraid that you can't see the wood for the trees.

    This brother was suspended/expelled years ago, and simply waiting for another GM is meaningless.

    There *IS* a group of "Masons" in this country in the highest offices of this fraternity who in engaged in a conspiracy of fraud and embezzlement. Anyone who questions their actions is systematically removed on trumped-up charges of un-Masonic conduct or being "clandestine" or whatever they decide.

    You may not want to see it but it is non-the-less very real.

    If you truly want to help save Freemasonry then come down off your high horse and look at what's taking place across the country.

    Halcyon didn't want to leave - they were forced to by the Grand Lodge of Ohio. It was either run or fight and they chose to make a stand for what they believed in. The brothers at Euclid simply walked away and refused to continue to be a part of the ongoing scam. Now there are two new lodges in California composed of brothers who just walked away from the GL of C. Another new one in West Virginia.

    What do these brothers know that you don't? What have they seen with their own eyes that you have not?

    Bro. Burtcher helped form a new lodge in Arkansas of brothers who also saw the reality of what's taking place. And, they are all PM's and Past DDGM's.

    Doesn't this tell you something?

  27. Chris Hodapp writes:

    "I can't speak about any other Grand Lodge, because I don't know their law, and the GL in question is not named."

    You don't need to be a detective to figure it out.

    In the article, the brother suffering the 50-year "definite suspension" says:

    "Hurricane Katrina devastated two of our neighboring states, and within the following week, I organized a fundraiser at our lodge to collect donations for Masonic relief efforts."

    The postscript then says:

    "Neither the Grand Lodge of Mississippi, nor the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, ever so much as sent a 'thank you' card to the brother's blue lodge for their contribution to Masonic relief efforts, which totaled approximately $3,000.00."

    Arkansas is the only state that's a neighbor to both Louisiana and Mississippi, and to further confirm that conclusion, a Past Grand Master from Arkansas is in fact listed as a member of the Board of Directors of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial Association, in Alexandria, Virginia, just as stated in the article's postscript.

    As I'm sure you know, every "regular" grand lodge in the United States holds annual meetings, and the reports of those meetings are published and distributed to all other grand lodges in books called "Proceedings." That's how grand lodges communicate with each other about what's going on in other jurisdictions.

    Regardless of where you live in the US, if you're a member of a "regular" grand lodge, it shouldn't be any trouble to access the books of "Proceedings" for the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, located in your own grand lodge's library. In those, you should be able to find the reports of Masonic disciplinary actions, and see what's been happening according to that grand lodge's own written accounts.

    First, you should notice if an unusual number of Masons have been suspended and/or expelled in the last few years, for reasons other than felony convictions, etc. Then, you should pay particular attention to any "unusual" sentences that were imposed, and the percentage of trials conducted by Grand Lodge Trial Committees, rather than individual lodges.

    In my jurisdiction (and I believe it's this way in all US jurisdictions), when a brother is tried for un-Masonic conduct, the jury votes on his punishment in order from the most severe penalty, to the least. The prescribed penalties in order of severity are as follows:

    (1) Expulsion
    (2) Indefinite suspension
    (3) Definite suspension
    (4) Reprimand

    When the jury votes, the first penalty that receives a majority, is the penalty that's imposed, but if no penalty sustains a majority vote, the accused brother is acquitted.

    Since a "definite suspension" is intended to be the least severe penalty next to a "reprimand," what justification could exist for a 50-year "definite suspension?" Doesn't that in itself suggest something wrong, like a life sentence for a traffic violation?

    In the entire history of Freemasonry, has any other Mason ever been sentenced to a 50-year (or comparably severe) "definite suspension?"

    If not, why was this particular brother treated so differently than the countless millions of Masons before him, and the millions who are still members today?

    Perhaps more to the point, if the penalty really is as unjust as it seems, why has an entire fraternity of "good and decent" men chosen to look the other way, thereby allowing the injustice to continue unchallenged?

    If the Grand Lodge of Arkansas really is as corrupt as it seems, it's easy to understand why the brothers within that jurisdiction wouldn't be able to do anything about it. They'd simply be the next ones targeted and kicked out. On the other hand, other grand lodges have it within their power to exert as much pressure on the Grand Lodge of Arkansas as they need to, in order to force their reformation, or isolate them from the rest of "mainstream" Masonry.

    A few years ago, virtually every grand lodge in the US united against one particular grand lodge which "recognized" a certain foreign grand lodge. In order to maintain its relationship with the 50 other "mainstream" American grand lodges, the individual grand lodge was forced to reverse its decision.

    If peer pressure can work in that situation, why can't it work just as well in other situations, such as the recognition of Prince Hall Masonry, and the unjust persecution of brothers in Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, West Virginia, etc.?

    Is there really any justifiable excuse to turn a blind eye to wrongdoing and malfeasance within our fraternity?

    Exactly what "downside" should there be, for trying to stand up for what's right?

    -- Diogenes

  28. diogenes,

    I don't know who you are but you have said what I've been trying to say along, but far more eloquently.

    As Masons were are all sworn to defend each other but when it comes to defending one another against the Grand Lodge we run in fear.

    Did the brothers in Arkansas deserve to be suspended/expelled without proper due process?

    Did the brothers in Georgia deserve to be expelled without any due process whatsoever? Without due process how can a Mason defend himself before his brothers? Without due process anyone can abuse their power and cover up their actions. They get to write the history of the events in the proceedings of the Grand Lodge and no one can ever question whether it's true of just a bunch of lies.

    There is a serious morality and justice deficit in American Freemasonry.

  29. I'd like to thank you all for shedding LIGHT on these subjects for me. "Thank You" from the bottom of my heart. I'm a young MM and hope to be an old one, but not at the cost my heart and soul. I'm sure that my path will be an interesting one. It has been a pleasure learning your lessons. I hope my future actions are just and upright.

  30. My only response in this post (despite continued defamatory talk of conspiracies by Howard Roark against my person) is as follows:

    If money was sent to aid the Louisiana victims of Katrina, then in my capacity as an individual Louisiana mason, I want to thank those responsible and anyone else who sent aid to Louisiana and the entire Gulf Coast Region. Many brothers lost everything in the Hurricane including those brothers who served on the relief committee that distributed the funds. We are still recovering and the entire southeastern area is still in recovery. Thank you and God bless you for any charity!

    Finally, I also lament the fact that injustice may have occurred in other Masonic jurisdictions. And, if the allegations of injustice are true in these jurisdictions, then I hope that justice is done as would any mason of good character. However, I would never offer any judgment based on hearsay and innuendo without sufficient evidence--so far this is all that has been offered on this blog.

  31. Any contributions that have been made to Louisiana, I just wish that I could have done more, are more than Masonry. It is humanity. Masonry itself is just a working tool. It is a means to an end, not an end unto itself.

    Many people gave, some were Masons, most were not. Having spent some part of my life in the Big Easy my heart fell when I saw the news of the waters crashing through the city.

    Any good Creole man would step up to the plate on a matter such as this. There are so many things more important than Masonic politics.

    I look forward to the day when we can put the vitriol aside then we can live and work as Brothers.


  32. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleaseur in them.
    While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain.
    In the days when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened.
    And the doors shall be shut in the streets when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low.
    Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree will flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets.
    Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the whell broken at the cistern.
    Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

  33. Not only does this story make me sick to the stomach, but also the way you Brethren are treating each other. In the immortal words of, well, Rodney King "can't we all just get along?"

  34. As the next generation of Tolpuddle Martyrs we will not run in fear of Ho Chi Minh

    Thomas Sr. T.M.'s 4thGGS


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