I once wrote that the flame of The Burning Taper may flicker and burn less bright for a while, but that it would never be extinguished.
And that's true.
But as you may have noticed, The Taper ain't what it used to be. Once (or so I choose to believe) it was the most-read Masonic-related blog in the world. Up to 14,000 unique visitors dropped by each month. I was sometimes writing two or three posts a day, often stirring up controversy or shining a light on the darker side of Freemasonry.
I enjoyed it immensely.
So what happened? Burnout? Apathy?
Like the survivors on the television series Lost, who for a while were having their lives changed over and over by shifts in time, my life changed, in a couple of ways.
For most of the time I've published The Burning Taper, I had a nice, cushy job with an ample salary. Much of my work I could do with a few keystrokes on my computer. Writing articles for The Taper just came naturally, mixed in between button-pushing for work.
The recession hit the company I was working for early, late last summer, and along with several co-workers across the country, my employment contract was not renewed. I had to find new work, and join the majority of workers who actually get up and leave their house each morning.
So, obviously, my mind and my time were taken up with things non-Masonic and non-Burning Taper-related.
My intention over the past three and a half years in publishing The Burning Taper has never been to "destroy" Freemasonry, as some have suggested. What I have been doing is exploring and investigating Masonry, to discover what it "really" is, from my own perspective. From the first day I spoke to my investigating committee, it has never seemed like what I expected it to be, or what it is billed to be, or even what those men on the investigation committee assured me that it truly was.
I've discovered Freemasonry is a "whole 'nuther animal."
It isn't a giant conspiracy to control the world as the fundie Christian wackos would have us believe, though, as I quickly found out, there are conspiracies and cabals galore in Masonry, even in my own lodge.
Neither has it appeared to really be "dedicated to the holy Saints John, erected to God..." as we're told. Religious hypocrisy abounds, as I also soon discovered, again in my own lodge.
Don't get me wrong. I still love Freemasonry — the concept, anyway — and over the years I have come to know, love and trust many Masons who, like me, see in Masonry a real brotherhood based on compassion and mutual respect for our fellow human.
But by and large, especially here in the South, I've met or heard about way too many Masons who use their supposed "power" to try to control (and sometimes wreck) others' lives, or who use Masonry as a "cover" for their shenanigans, racism, and intolerance.
Even worse than that, though, are the Masons who remain in denial about the wrongs they see done in the name of Freemasonry, and the many sheep who blindly follow their "leaders" because they think their "obligations" are to men, not God.
A certain set of events last autumn is what directly led to me posting less regularly to The Taper, and to my having much less interest in Masonry in general.
I interviewed two Masons — one by email, and the other face-to-face in a three-hour conversation. One was a former member of the Royal Order of Jesters; the other was still an active member of the Jesters. One of the men is a fourth-generation Mason; his grandfather was Grand Master of his state's grand lodge. I saw an official printed "program" for a recent national Jester meeting. On that program I saw that a recent Grand Master from my own state was a Jester, and I recognized the names of other "high-ranking" Masons from Georgia.
Everything you're heard or read about the Jesters is true, according to my sources. The Jesters meet regularly, in four-star hotels all across the country, for what can best be called "sex parties."
My two sources told similar stories. They both said the actions of former judge Ronald Tills and his Masonic Jester pals in New York state, who have pleaded guilty to transporting prostitutes across state lines to attend Jester parties, are typical of Jesters, and are not simply "isolated incidents" of a "few bad apples."
I have no reason to doubt them.
Upon advice of several brothers whose counsel I value and trust, I never published these interviews, and won't, because neither source wanted his identity revealed. And without "verification," who would believe them?
Would these interviews put The Taper on the front page of The New York Times? I doubt it. Corruption, law-breaking and "perversion" don't attract headlines like they once did, unless the subject is mega-famous. People still love Michael Vick and Michael Phelps and Michael Jackson. Why would they care that a bunch of wrinkled old Freemasons like to get naked and jack off while watching a hooker go down on the new guy?
Would most rank-and-file blue lodge Masons even believe my sources? I doubt it.
I'm not disgusted that this kind of activity goes on. Whatever consenting adults do behind closed doors is okay with me.
But I am disgusted that it goes on under the umbrella of Freemasonry.
That's the last I intend to say about the Jesters, and hopefully the last "negative" thing I write about Freemasonry. If you want to know more about the Jesters, search this blog. There have been several articles about them in the past year or so.
When I begin posting regularly again to The Burning Taper, I intend to focus on positive, uplifting ideas about how we can heal and improve ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The Taper won't be about Freemasonry per se, but it will, I hope, encourage true Masonic tenets and ideals. Life is much too short to focus on the negative, as I have for the past few years, and now that I've taken both your consciousness and mine to the lowest of the low in the "family" of Freemasonry by discussing the Jesters' whoring around, the only place we can go is Up.
Masons | Royal Order of Jesters | Freemasonry | Burning Taper | BurningTaper.com