Wednesday, May 06, 2009

You can't have a light without a dark to stick it in

Last weekend I was driving home from the grocery store. As I approached an intersection, I noticed a fez-wearing Shriner standing in the road, shaking his paint-bucket at drivers as they crawled past him.

Arm after arm appeared from a car or truck, each dropping coins or bills into his bucket.

"It's for the children," I'm sure most of the brains attached to those arms rationalized to themselves, as they blew their own kids' lunch money in an attempt to feel charitable.

"Brother, don't you know where most of that cash is going?" I wanted to cry out.

"Somewhere between two and twenty-five percent of what you collect might make it to 'the children.' The rest is for the parties, for the booze, for the hookers... and you, good brother, probably won't even be invited!"

Yeah, I'm still jaded. Ignorance is bliss, and I'm no longer ignorant about some of the "secrets" of Freemasonry.

The financial misappropriations and the sexual improprieties in the Shrine and in their subgroup the Royal Order of Jesters are no longer secrets. Investigative reporter Sandy Frost, as well as the New York Times and the Buffalo News have splashed their findings across their front pages.

Three Masons/Shriners/Jesters — a judge, a former police captain, and an attorney — have pleaded guilty in upstate New York to transporting prostitutes across state lines to service "brothers" at Jester parties. Gary N. Martin, the head of the Jester organization, claims the group knows nothing about such activities, and says that the actions of these men were "extremely isolated events."

While the ROJ leadership denies everything, more and more Jesters and former Jesters have been spilling the secrets about what goes on at a "Book": humiliating hazings including having to walk around naked all weekend carrying a brick tied to a string tied to your penis, fellatio contests, rampant alcohol and drug use, and more.

Is it true? I can't say; I can only report what I've read and what I've been personally told by brothers who were members of the ROJ.

According to an article in the May 4 Buffalo News:
Retired State Supreme Court Justice Ronald Tills; his former law clerk, Michael R. Stebick of Orchard Park; and retired Lockport police Capt. John Trowbridge all pleaded guilty to transporting prostitutes across state lines. Trowbridge is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday in Buffalo’s federal court, and Tills is scheduled for a pre-sentencing conference Thursday.
The FBI is still investigating a "human sex slave" network that involves a "massage parlor" where prostitutes who are said to have been at Jester functions "worked."

And Brazilian authorities have now brought charges against an American who allegedly organized "fishing trips" for Jesters which were really alcohol-drug-sex party cruises with underage Brazilian girls.

Why bring this up again, and why now?, you might be asking. Didn't I write months ago that I was done talking about the problems within Freemasonry, and that I would only write about "good stuff"?

Apparently, no news has been "good news," because I haven't written very much on this blog since I said that in early March.

In hindsight, though, I realize that despite my disgust, The Burning Taper exists and always has existed as a Point of Light in the Masonic World, a Light that has for nearly four years shined on the good and the bad within Freemasonry.

For most of its existence, The Burning Taper had one or the other, sometimes both, of these quotations as its masthead:
  • You can't have a light without a dark to stick it in. — Arlo Guthrie

  • And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. — John 1:5
It's time these powerful statements were placed back into their positions of prominence, and time for The Burning Taper to return to its mission of shining the Light of Freemasonry upon Freemasonry.

Be Seeing You.


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