Friday, March 31, 2006

Southern Baptist seminarian calls World Council of Churches "the Anti-Christ"

How is it that most anti-Mason conspiracy theorists — you know, the ones that say Freemasons worship the Devil or "false gods," etc. — are Southern Baptists, and, a very high percentage of Freemasons, at least in the southeast, are Southern Baptists? How can that be? And what is it about Baptists that makes them more likely than others to act so hateful towards those who don't agree with them doctrinally? Why do they think of themselves as God's Chosen People?

Another case in point:

The Ninth World Council of Churches Assembly was held February 14-23, 2006 in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

The World Council of Churches has 347 member denominations in more than 120 countries, including most of the mainline Protestant denominations in America.

The World Council of Churches is made up of most denominations except for Southern Baptists:

"The World Council of Churches has long been a boutique of paganism in Christian garb," said Russell D. Moore, senior vice president for academic administration and dean of the school of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. "This year’s assembly happenings, including the recognition of 'the Holy Spirit' working in non-Christian world religions, only continues the downgrade.

"Regenerate believers across the world, whatever their denomination or communion, recognize the spirit of the World Council for what it is: the spirit of antichrist," Moore said. [Source: Zen and the Art of Obsession]

Moore is the Senior V.P. and Dean at the same Southern Baptist seminary our old friend Mason-basher Josh the Baptist attends. Last time I looked, Pastor Josh was still blogging away on his mis-titled site "Practical Theological Discussions" about how Freemasonry is a "religion" that worships "false gods" and is bent on sending us all to Hell. No real discussion is allowed there — any comments you leave that don't "bring honor and glory to God!" tend to get deleted.

I find it simply amazing that God's Ultimate Plan consisted of creating over the last 2,000 years or so 347 "anti-Christ" false Christian denominations when all we needed was the One True Version of Christianity, namely the Southern Baptists.

— Widow's Son

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Traveller's Tale: A Masonic Allegory, by the Wayfaring Man

Traveller's Tale: A Masonic Allegory, by the Wayfaring Man

The following tale was related by a good Brother and fellow member of the Widow's Son's lodge. The story is of life before being Raised, as well as experience in the Lodge and what was seen there.

Now it came to pass as I came from the West, traveling towards the East, in search of That which was Lost, I found myself along the fertile waters of the Nile.

I paused for a time at Karnak, being welcomed by the brethren of the University of Amen where Moses the Lawgiver received his teachings. After much study and conversation with these learned and generous brethren, I resumed my journey, crossing the Nile at Memphis, with my heart set on Jerusalem and the Great Lodge of Solomon.

Alas! Upon my arrival in the Holy City I found the Most Excellent King Solomon and Hiram, King of Tyre in retreat upon Mount Sinai, and the Lodge under the clandestine control of three corrupt PM's calling themselves J-la, J-lo, and J-lum, who were abusing the Brethren and refusing to pay them their just wages, paying them not with wine but vinegar, not with corn but with moldy bread, not with pure sweet oil but with that which was rancid.

When I objected to this as a violation of the Uniform Work, they fell upon me, crying out that they would do with me as their fathers had done with the Grand Master H---- A----.

I fled from before them with only an apron to cover my loins — a despairing escape — for they had shut up the whole city in search of me. Thanks be to God that true Brethren were about, who clothed me and aided my escape by the south gate, setting me on the road to Alexandria.

To be continued...

— The Wayfaring Man

Read Chapter II of Traveller's Tale: A Masonic Allegory...

Artwork: "The Wanderer" is a 1924 painting by George Grosz, an early Nazi resister. He fled Germany in 1932, and became an American citizen in 1938. In describing Grosz, Trewin Copplestone said: "A deeply disillusioned man, he saw humanity as essentially bestial and the city of Berlin as a sink of depravity and deprivation, its streets crowded with unprincipled profiteers, prostitutes, war-crippled dregs and a variety of perverts."

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Small Town Freemasonry — Part Three: A Day in the Life of a Junior Warden

If you have not read Parts One and Two of "Small Town Freemasonry," please do so before you read the following. You'll find links on those articles to return to this one.

Click here for Part One: Bucket of Rattlesnakes

Click here for Part Two: Masonic Ambush

The following report was written on June 18, 2005, about an hour after the incidents described took place, to document the experience before I might forget any details.

A Day in the Life of a Junior Warden

One of the responsibilities of the Junior Warden is to "superintend the brethren during the hours of refreshment." Another responsibility is that of being the officer who prefers charges against a Brother Mason when necessary.

A few months ago, I was instructed by my Lodge to prefer charges against a Brother who had been charged by the State in a court of law with "Sexual Exploitation of a Child" for having had sex with a girl 16 years of age. A second charge of "Sexual Exploitation of a Child" for the act of possessing a videotape of the act was dropped.

The Brother pleaded guilty to the first charge, and received a sentence of probation.

The Brother has been a Mason for four or five years. His father, a well-known and successful businessman in our town of 7,000 (county population of 20,000), recently received his 50-year Masonic award and is a Past Master, having sat in the East in our Lodge perhaps 40 years ago, but has not been active in Masonry for many years. I have never seen him or the Accused at any Lodge function other than the father one time, to receive his award.

After the secular courts accepted the guilty plea and pronounced sentence, I was instructed by my Lodge to draw up and prefer charges. In March, 2005 I went to the county courthouse, found the original indictment, and repeated the indictments, including the one that was dropped by the government court, changing the court's name to that of the Lodge, signed the paper on behalf of the lodge in my position of Junior Warden, and submitted it to the Lodge Secretary. The Secretary read the charges aloud, the Lodge accepted the charges by unanimous vote, and the process of planning for a Masonic trial began.

On Saturday, June 18, 2005 a pre-trial conference was held at the Lodge. Two Brethren representing the 9th Masonic District of Georgia's Trial Commission conducted the pre-trial conference, which was open only to members of our lodge and to attorneys for the charged Brother.

The Lodge's only evidence was the plea of guilty. No one had witnessed any acts or crimes by the Accused Brother, nor seen the videotape.

The Accused Brother was represented by two attorneys, one of whom was a Mason from a nearby lodge in the 9th District, appointed by the Masonic Trial Commission. The other attorney was a well-known local attorney, who had acted as the Accused Brother's attorney throughout his secular hearings and trial.

This was a pre-trial hearing, not a trial. The Accused's attorneys gave no defense prior to the Accused being given the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. A plea of not guilty would have set the wheels turning for an August 20, 2005 trial date.

The Accused pleaded guilty to both charges. His attorneys were given the opportunity to make opening statements as well as closing statements. As Junior Warden, I sat in as "Prosecutor" since no one had told the Secretary that we were supposed to contact the Trial Commission's Prosecutor as well as the Trial Commission's Judges. The Accused's attorneys did not want to make opening statements, only closing statements, and urged the Judge to make the decision regarding punishment. I was given the floor to speak. Being put on the spot, not knowing I would be in the Prosecutor's seat, I simply stated for the record that we were saddened that the matter had come to this point, but, from a Masonic standpoint, it was the right thing to do. I was asked if I wanted the Judge or a jury of Masonic peers to decide on the punishment. After conferring with our Lodge's Worshipful Master, I said we would prefer the matter taken care of today, and that we would appreciate and abide by the Judge's decision.

The Accused's non-Masonic attorney then stood up, and put on what appeared to be an act of not understanding a Masonic trial and of not being "comfortable" being in a room of Masons. He noted that the meeting had opened with a prayer, and said he “assumed” we believed in honesty. He delivered a sad story of how 16-year old girls can be the aggressor in a sexual relationship, and how the Accused was just following human nature, and how in years past the age of sexual consent in Georgia had been only 14 years of age. He said that the Accused having pleaded guilty not only in a court of law but in this Masonic conference, proved that the Accused was an honest man, worthy of a second chance.

At the end of his talk, the non-Masonic attorney asked permission to leave the room, citing his discomfort and saying he didn't want to be around during Masonic discussion. To me, it was obvious he was “playing to the jury,” only there was no jury.

The Masonic attorney then put on his act, eloquently telling us how non-eloquent he was at public speaking. He directed all his comments at the assembled Brethren, not the Judge, even though it was the Judge who would make the decision regarding punishment. He invoked Masonic compassion and charity, and repeatedly tried to sway the Brethren, as if we were to make the decision regarding punishment.

As he closed his talk, the Masonic attorney several times tried to convince the Judge that the matter of punishment should be left to the assembled Brethren rather than to the Judge himself, either by taking a vote or having the Brethren speak openly.

When the second attorney completed his talk, the Accused was given an opportunity to speak. He spoke only few words, repeating several times "I'm sorry" and "I apologize" but only twice did he say for what he was apologizing -- once "for embarrassing the Lodge" and once "for embarrassing my father." He sobbed once, and wiped his eyes a few times.

The Masonic attorney once again asked if he and the Accused could leave the room so that the assembled Brethren could discuss the punishment. The Judge conferred with his associate (the more experienced former Judge for the 9th District Trial Commission), and said that no, they would not be allowed to leave the room. Instead, the Judge and his associate would leave the room to confer.

The Masonic attorney once again requested that the Brethren be allowed to speak. It was obvious that he wanted the Accused's father, who was present, to speak before his fellow Brethren, many of whom he had probably known for dozens of years.

The Judge granted the attorney's request, and the Accused's father immediately stood to speak. The father repeated several times "that's my son and I love him no matter what." He thanked one Brother who had spoken to him before the conference began that "this doesn't reflect on you [the father]."

The Secretary then stood and told the story of how Jesus forgave the prostitute, and how there were probably sins in all our lives we would wish to keep secret.

No other Brethren spoke.

The Judge called the meeting to ease and he and his associate left the room to confer.

It was approximately 15 minutes later when they reconvened the meeting. Saying that after much thought, consideration and prayer, and that not only were the eyes of our Lodge and the lodges of the 9th District upon this decision, but the eyes of every Mason in Georgia, he pronounced the sentence of expulsion, and wished the Accused well.

Within 30 seconds of the meeting being adjourned, the father of the Accused (whom I had never met before), a Past Master of the Lodge, approached me, and with malice in his voice and anger in his eyes, shouted “I hope you're happy!” I replied that I was simply doing my job as Junior Warden. He continued to talk, and attempted to block my path, but I said, “I'm not going to discuss it with you” and walked around him, carrying chairs that we had used in the proceeding back to the dining hall.

I returned to pick up more chairs, and the father approached me again, saying the same thing. I brushed past him to pick up more chairs. The Judge and his associate, as well as several Brethren, approached me and told me they had seen the father's actions and heard his words. The Judge told me to let him know if anything further happened, that what they had just witnessed itself was gross un-Masonic conduct by the father.

I took another set of chairs to the dining hall, and began cleaning up and turning off coffee machines, etc. After I was done with that responsibility, I stopped in the vestibule and spoke with a Brother and with the Worshipful Master. Several Brethren, along with the Expelled, his father, and his non-Masonic attorney, were standing outside the doors talking.

As soon as I walked out the door, the Expelled began pointing his finger at me, yelling "I'm gonna get you!" "You just wait!" "If I wasn't on probation...." "You want a piece of me?!" "You just better hope you're never in a legal situation!" and other taunts and threats. Two Brethren stood between us. I said "I have nothing to say to you." The Expelled continued to point and yell and threaten me. No one said a word until his father took him by the arm and led him away, saying, "You said you wouldn't do this" (which to me indicates pre-meditation). The Expelled continued to yell as he was led away. As he was walking away, the father was mumbling something about how I had violated my obligations to a Brother, apparently by bringing charges in the first place. It apparently didn't register with him that he and his son were the ones violating obligations this day, threatening me with bodily harm and legal action.

The situation was witnessed by our Lodge's Worshipful Master, Senior Warden, Secretary, two other Brethren, as well as the Expelled's father and his non-Masonic attorney.

And it wasn't even noon yet, on this, another day of superintending the Brethren during the hours of refreshment.

— Widow's Son

Read Small Town Freemasonry — Part 4: Masonic Coverups, Collusion and Cronyism

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Bob Larson: Exorcist and anti-Mason

Well, I guess it's official. All Freemasons are "clandestine." Or at least that's what Bob Larson says.

Who is Bob Larson? At first glance he's just another anti-Masonic fundamentalist Christian with a website. He runs Bob Larson Ministries and a Protestant church called the Spiritual Freedom Church of Phoenix. He seems to be making quite a bit of money selling his books, holding retreats and lectures across the globe, and providing personal coaching. Oh, and exorcising demons.

There's no mention of his price for casting out Satan.

Yes. Bob's also a Protestant exorcist! He has even teamed up with the Catholic super-exorcist the Burning Taper showcased a few weeks ago, Father Gabriele Amorth. Larson has even written a book, Larson's Book of Spiritual Warfare, outlining how you, too, can become an exorcist. Only $15.99, while supplies last. Weighing in at a hefty 500 pages, one wonders if you're supposed to beat the Devil out of people with the book.

A self-proclaimed "expert on cults, the occult and supernatural phenomena," Larson's latest book, Larson’s Book of World Religions and Alternative Spirituality, "explores more than one hundred non-Christian religious movements, covering everything from Islam to feng shui to reincarnation."

If the rest of the material this man offers his readers is as full of errors as his rant on Freemasonry (which his website spells Freemassonry), they're being sold a load of ka-ka. Larson's anti-Masonic rant on his website is packed with errors and meaningless trivia.

Larson erroneously tells his readers that third-degree Masons are called Shriners, and that "Masons refer to their 33rd degree Masons as 'Worshipful Master.'"

For benefit of Burning Taper readers who do not know, all Master Masons are third-degree Masons. To be a Shriner you (currently) must be a Mason, but not all Masons are Shriners (currently there are less than 500,000 Shriners in the US, compared to five million Masons). The Shrine is a separate organization.

Also, a Worshipful Master is the elected Master of a local lodge, usually serves only one year, and while he may be a member of other Masonic bodies, he only has to be a Master Mason. Any degree higher than the Third is a Scottish or York Rite degree, and has nothing to do with a Worshipful Master.

If you want to hold your own exorcism, here's Larson's checklist of what to bring:
  • Your own Bible so you can look stuff up quickly.
  • Another Bible, of a different translation.
  • A complete, unabridged concordance, as God might
    lay a verse on your mind to smite Satan with, and you might not remember what chapter and book it comes from.
  • Water and light, healthy snacks for you and the Possessed One. This could go long, you know.
  • A portable cassette player and tapes of praise and worship music to torment the demons with.
  • Toilet facilities should be nearby, and all items that could be used for suicide should be removed before the exorcism begins. If the Exorcist and the Possessed are of opposite
    sexes, someone of the same sex as the Posessed should be present.

Ever vigilant, Larson's website's home page warns visitors not to believe anything negative they may have read or heard about Larson:
SPECIAL NOTICE... In your effort to locate our web site, you may have encountered other sites devoted to attacking our ministry. Be aware that these sites contain misinformation, disinformation, twisted facts and outright lies. Many of these accusations are sinister distortions of reality and fabrications designed to look truthful. Our response is that of Nehemiah: "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you (Nehemiah 6:3)?" To those who maliciously malign our efforts to reach the lost for Christ and see those in demonic bondage set free, we respond as our Savior commanded us. We "pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44).
A 1993 Cornerstone magazine article was quite critical of Larson, saying that in the 1960s and 1970s, Larson tried to make a name for
himself being an anti-rock'n'roll crusader, but didn't hit the Big Time until he became an anti-Satanic cult-buster when it became fashionable in the 1980s? (Remember Geraldo Rivera's fascination with so-called Satanism?)

According to the Cornerstone article, Larson's fundraising techniques have long been controversial. It is alleged that he ran and re-ran taped religious radio programs for years as if they were live, setting the call-in numbers to be "busy" while keeping the toll-free 800 number donation line open. Later, the article says, he got more sophisticated and did live commentary while re-using old call-in recordings, manipulating would-be donors with a called-in pledge that was "sent by God."

An ex-employee claims to have not only ghost-written but totally fabricated Larson's account of the Satanic ritual abuse of a small girl.

Even Christian magazines and other ministers have painted Larson in a less-than-flattering light. Apparently, Larson lashes out with charges of conspiracy whenever anyone speaks out against him.

Maybe if he reads this blog entry, he'll at least correct the errors about Freemasonry on his website. I mean, if you're gonna trash Freemasonry, at least get it right.

More stuff:
  • Video — Watch Tom Brown, another Protestant exorcist, send Satan scurrying in this History Channel video

  • Interview — The introduction to "My Dinner with Bob Larson," a 1994 interview with musician and member of the Church of Satan Boyd Rice, says of Larson:
    Bob Larson should be a familiar name to anyone reading Snake Oil. His high-pitched tirades against rock music and, indeed, all aspects of popular culture can be heard for two hours a day on Christian radio stations across the country. From Beavis and Butthead to Howard Stern to the latest death metal band, you haven't arrived until Bob does a show about you. Bob sees the influence of Satan everywhere and is big into worldwide Satanic conspiracies, generational Satanism, ritual abuse, and demon possession. A good episode of "Talk Back With Bob Larson" is scarier and more lurid than The Exorcist. The term "Christian Pornography" has been aptly applied to Bob, but like all good Exploitation peddlers, he justifies his sensationalism with moral outrage.
  • Sacred Feminine / Catholic website that supports Bob Larson — Along with many articles about the Sacred Feminine, and more than a few drawings and photos of female breasts in religious settings, you'll find an amazingly flattering write-up about Bob Larson from Rasa von Werder, the operator of and the College of Matriarchy and the Feminine Divine.

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Anti-Masonic vandalism in Bermuda

Anti-Masonic vandalism has hit the island of Bermuda, according the The Royal Gazette.

In the last few weeks, misspelled grafitti calling Freemasons homosexuals have had to be painted over on the wall of the St. Theresa's Cathedral, the Catholic rector Bishop Robert Kurtz told police.

Kurtz also reported that he heard that Freemasons Hall nearby had been targetted by vandals, including an instance in February where a concrete block with anti-Masonic messages written on it was thrown through a window of the lodge building.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

RRCG members speak out: Brother Scott Brumley

Why I stand firmly behind The Rose Cross of Gold, by Brother Scott Brumley

When I was a child I had very highly evolved ideas of ethics and morality. There were certain things you did, and certain things you did not do.

Who taught me these values? My parents? Super-hero cartoons? In any case it led me to become the bully-basher. If there was a bully I was able to find him with my super bully-detection skills (or more commonly known as “smart ass comments”) and he would often challenge me to duel of sorts (mostly a fist fight at recess). These ideals served me very well into my adult life. But then there came a time of questioning, when people around me entered into unethical business practices just to earn a quick buck. Should I take that path just for prestige and money?

Now enters Freemasonry. I had very little idea what it was about, but I started to study it between my first and second degrees. I was encouraged by a group of friends that were Masons who also suffered from highly evolved ideas of ethics and morality. I took the degrees very seriously. As I went through them I started to learn more about Masonry. I read Albert Pike, Waite, Mackey, and many others. It soon became apparent that I had been a Mason long before I had even heard of Freemasonry. So my ideals where cemented and renewed. You could say I was born again. But Freemasonry was not anything like the Freemasonry I had learned about from my elders. Freemasonry was declining in membership and many practices going on in the lodges were suspect.

Now enters the beginnings of the Rose Cross of Gold. On several occasions a visiting Grand Master asked for our help in staving off the decline of Freemasonry. A small group of us decided to help. We orchestrated a marketing campaign to find out what attracted new brothers to the lodges and kept them coming back.

What did new brothers want? Coincidentally it was the same thing that brought us to Freemasonry and kept us together — Brotherhood, Liberty, Justice, Equality, to name a few. We took action, preparing information to present to the Grand Lodge here in Georgia. To say we were meet with hostility would be a gross understatement. After several years of trying with the Grand Lodge many members of the newly started Rose Cross of Gold were falsely led by their brethren of the blue lodges into a trap reminiscent of the meeting with Long Shanks in the movie Braveheart.

Eventually we broke free of this useless cycle of watching the Grand Lodge trying to bury us while smearing our good names. We cut ourselves down from the nooses we had been hanged with. The Rose Cross of Gold was reborn that day. Perhaps not so ironically this Masonic death and funeral allowed our brothers of the Rose Cross of Gold to rebound, releasing the Phoenix within the ashes of Freemasonry.

In the last several months I have seen the Brothers of the Rose Cross of Gold reach out to Blue Lodges that were in fear of losing their lodge buildings, I have seen their membership swell with good men, and I have seen a regular meeting of Masons that are glad to be there.

Gentlemen: Freemasonry has been reborn in the United States of America.

— Brother Scott Brumley

Image: Phoenix Rising


RRCG members speak out: Brother Erik

Why I am joining the Rose Cross of Gold, by Brother Erik

[Brother Erik will soon be initiated into the Rose Cross of Gold]

Ironically, my journey into the mysteries of Freemasonry began on Sept. 11th, the very night of an American Tragedy. The initiation was a long time coming; I had studied Freemasonry via Mackey and Pike for several years and had involved myself in a little conspiracy theory espionage (way before The Da Vinci Code) in high school, working on the apparent world domination of Masons. Interestingly enough, I think that many new Masons today come to know the Craft through conspiracy theories first, and then their interest deepens and takes them down more authentic routes. Of course, once I was made a Mason, it became obvious that Masons were planning on dominating the world just as soon as they got through deciding which parking lot was the best location for their next BBQ.

Needless to say, I found Light in the Lodge — yet I wanted More Light. I felt there was a great gulf fixed between the Freemasonry that I had studied and the one that I had experienced. I began to seek the Haute Grades, and though it was interesting to go in one day as a Third Degree Mason and come out the same evening a Thirty-second Degree, I was again left feeling less than illuminated. I sought further experience by seeing all 28 degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite under the direction of Jim Tresner and found the work stimulating. Yet even though there is certainly a place for the "Theatre of the Fraternity," I didn't feel like the Initiations happened to ME.

Even as an Entered Apprentice I began seeking Light outside of the mainstream when I began a series of e-mails and conversations with Brother Jeff Peace. Here, I found a REGULAR Mason who believed in the true principles of the Craft and the need for renovation of the Rituals, who understand the desires of younger Masons to study the Hermetic Tradition and the impact of Freemasonry on world-view shifts such as the Enlightenment. It seemed that More Light was right around the corner, yet I was hesitant due to my proximity to the Grand Lodge and my closeness to several Grand Lodge officers who "encouraged" me to cease and desist! And then, a few years later, we have the edict from Grand Master Garner proclaiming the Rite of the Rose Cross of Gold to be "clandestine."

So, I have been a quiet supporter and seeker all along. It was time to sit back no longer. My quest is more important than a slap on the wrist, and the work of the RRCG is more important than edicts and warnings! In fact, the very idea of it being silenced is reason enough for this revolutionary brotherhood to be united and to take up our proverbial arms to fight for liberty, equality and fraternity. Sounds a bit like the French or American Revolutions, eh?

I feel that the RRCG is moving Masonry in the right direction on all accounts. It is a matter of time before this great Rite becomes the premiere experience for Masons who seek authentic work and study. I am ready to take the plow myself and to give back to the Rite in any way that I possibly can.

Do I pine for the 33rd Degree? No. Am I patiently awaiting nomination to some Grand Pooh-bah office? No.

Yet I readily admit to my excitement at being made a Brother of the Rite of the Rose Cross of Gold!!! Thank you, and may the blessings of T.G.A.O.T.U. be with you all.

— Brother Erik

The image is of the Boston Tea Party.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Rock the Boat — What do you think of Freemasonry?

Over there to your right is a new questionnaire / poll, asking you for your opinion on Freemasonry.

Let us and the world know what the Internet community thinks about Freemasonry. Are we good guys, bad guys, a mix of both? Proud and gloriously noble knights transmitting the secrets of the ages or drunken buffoons in silly hats? Evil demons who secretly rule the world, or good ol' boys who can't even agree on what style of sauce to use at the barbecue fundraiser?

All of the above? None of the above? Don't see a response you like? Then write one in!

Make your opinions known. We'll count the hanging chads later.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

RRCG members speak out: Brother Evangelos

Why I joined the Rose Cross of Gold, by Brother Evangelos

I was waiting in the dining room while the brethren went upstairs to open the lodge. It was the night of my Entered Apprentice degree. My heart was beating fast; I was excited and nervous trying to guess what I was about to experience. The deacons came down to take me into the preparation room. My Masonic trip was about to start....

I have always been an inquisitive soul. The unknown, the secret, the supernatural, the philosophical, the mystical always attracted me. I stumbled upon Freemasonry on a couple of occasions while growing up but couldn't find much information about it. It was enough though to pique my interest. Years later, after college, I learned that a good family friend is a Freemason. I talked to him and started reading about Freemasonry. I contacted my local lodge and went to one of their dinners. I was fascinated: a peculiar system of morality... oldest fraternity... society with secrets... brotherly love.... It seemed like an excellent way to learn and discuss moral and philosophical issues along with serving my fellow citizen. I submitted my petition to join....

..."Who comes, who comes, who comes here?" I entered the lodge as a poor blind candidate and went through the EA ritual. Later at home I tried to make sense of my experience. It was a good ritual but I was not very impressed, in fact I felt a little disappointed. I couldn't remember a thing from the lectures either, only that they were vague. Well, maybe it will make sense in time, I thought. Besides, there are two more degrees to go through.

Unfortunately those two degrees did not change my perspective. As a Master Mason I started attending lodge meetings. I soon realized that they were utterly boring: a series of recognitions, reading of the minutes, sick and deceased report; no interesting lectures or philosophical discussions. There was no place for these.

Fortunately for me, there were a few younger guys in the lodge and in talking to them I started learning some fascinating things: Albert Pike was introduced to me and then a series of other books on various topics and a new world opened in front of me. So there IS more to freemasonry; my gut instinct that drove me into the Craft was not wrong after all. I also learned about the Rite of the Rose Cross of Gold and experienced the First Degree. What a different experience that ritual was! All I can say is that I wish that ritual were my first experience with Freemasonry and not the Blue Lodge one that I went through.

If fish frys and boring meetings satisfy your intellectual curiosity then the RRCG is not for you. But if you are a fellow inquisitive soul — then welcome, Brother!

— Brother Evangelos


Small Town Freemasonry — Part Two: The Masonic Ambush

If you haven't read Part One: Bucket of Rattlesnakes, please do so and then return here to read Part Two.

While making comments to add to a post on Free-Mason-Alert yesterday, I inadvertently found myself writing Part Two of my story "Small Town Freemasonry." Let's call this chapter "The Masonic Ambush."

The brother who writes Free-Mason-Alert had related how a visitor to a sister lodge had worn a 100-year-old York Rite apron to a Master Mason degree where he was assisting. Someone at the lodge took offense to the unusual apron and instead of simply asking the brother about it, took it upon himself to call the Grand Master of Alabama to complain! The GM then fired off emails to the "offending" brother accusing him of wearing a "clandestine" apron of the Rose Cross of Gold.

I wrote this in response:

Apparently running to the Grand Master every time something happens in a lodge that someone doesn't like is the typical way things are done in the rural South.

Lodges should be fully capable of handling their own issues without having to "run to daddy" every time the peace and harmony is breached.

As my lodge's webmaster, I posted news from my lodge on the website I ran for the lodge. About two weeks after I posted a particular news item, I received a frantic call from a Past Master of my lodge, demanding that I take that material off the web immediately. I refused, and then set up a meeting with the lodge's Master and Senior Warden. I was Junior Warden. We planned a meeting for that evening to decide what course of action we wanted to take regarding the information that had been placed online.

An hour later, the PM who had called me in the first place called back again, saying he had taken it upon himself to call the Grand Master ("I know him," he said), and that the Grand Master had told him to tell me to take the information offline. I politely told the PM to have the GM phone or email me with that "order," and I would remove the information.

The elected chief officers of the lodge — the WM, SW and me — met and decided what course we wanted to take; we were going to put the question to a vote of the lodge. We never heard from the GM, only from the PM supposedly relaying his words.

The next evening was our regular communication. As soon as I arrived, I was asked to "come in here" by a different Past Master, and when I entered the preparation room I found myself face-to-face with three PM's of our lodge, already wearing their aprons and their stern faces. This episode has come to be known as the Masonic Ambush.

In a scene reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch, they told me three times: "We demand that you remove the information from the website."

Twice I told them that the elected officers of the lodge had made a fair decision about what to do, that we were going to have the lodge vote on it.

"But we don't want you to be embarrassed when you lose the vote," they chorused.

I really didn't care one way or the other how the vote came out. I simply wanted to get out of the preparation room. I didn't feel physically threatened, but I certainly felt emotionally disheveled by the event. Here were three men representing together over 100 years of Masonry, men whom I (at the time) respected. Two of them had coached me through my catechisms. I had no desire to go against their wishes....

But they were wrong. Wrong in the way they'd approached me, and certainly wrong in making demands of an officer, especially after they were told that the WM was aware of the issues and was prepared to handle it in a fair way (with a vote).

The WM was totally unaware that this Masonic Ambush was going on in the preparation room just before the meeting, and I didn't have a chance to mention it before the meeting began.

At the New Business point in the meeting, I stood and told about what had happened, not just the ambush but the entire story, and called for a vote. Two of the PM's stood and spoke against me, and against the information being presented on the website.

Oh, haven't I mentioned what this was all about? Our lodge had a brother who pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor in state court, and he was at that time under charges of gross unMasonic conduct for the same. Pursuant to my understanding of Masonic Code which says we should publicize that type of thing so as to show we as Masons do not condone it, I had simply announced those facts on our lodge's website.

The vote was overwhelming in favor of hiding this information from the public by removing if from the website, and not in publicizing it so that the public would know that we didn't condone the actions of the offending brother.

That didn't end the situation. It was only just the beginning.

Later that week, the WM, now aware of what had been happening, issued a summons for an "emergency meeting" of himself, the four PMs, and me, plus two other brothers: One, a "neutral" PM, the other a younger brother who had supported my actions by speaking up in the lodge meeting the previous Tuesday night. The PM who started the whole thing with the phone call didn't attend; everyone else showed up.

At this meeting, two of the ambushing PM's made mild apologies to me for "hurting my feelings" (it wasn't my feelings they'd hurt, but my respect for them and my pride in being a part of that lodge). The third PM simply barked that if the younger brother spoke, he would leave.

After one of the PM's told the younger brother, "You don't know what Freemasonry is about," the younger brother stood to speak. Immediately, the third PM stood and banged his metal chair loudly (we were in the dining hall area) and stomped off in a huff.

Needless to say, no one left the meeting feeling better about any of what had happened.

— Widow's Son

Small Town Freemasonry — Part Three: A Day in the Life of a Junior Warden


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Coming Soon

Here's a list of some upcoming esoteric, science fiction, psychological and historical films that Masons may find of interest:

(QuickTime 7 may be required to view some trailers.)

March 31 — The Devil and Daniel Johnston. Daniel Johnston is a manic-depressive genius singer/songwriter/artist, revealed in this portrait of madness, creativity and love. The Devil and Daniel Johnston is a stunning portrait of a musical and artistic genius who nearly slipped away. Watch the trailer.

April 28 — Flight 93. A real time account of the events on United Flight 93, one of the planes hijacked on 9/11 that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania when passengers foiled the terrorist plot. Watch the trailer.

May 19 — The Da Vinci Code. The murder of a curator at the Louvre reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected since the days of Christ. Only the victim's granddaughter and Robert Langdon, a famed symbologist, can untangle the clues he left behind. The duo become both suspects and detectives searching for not only the murderer but also the stunning secret of the ages he was charged to protect. Watch the trailer.

June 6 (6.6.06) — The Omen. A remake of the 1976 horror classic The Omen (1976), an American official realizes that his young son may literally be the devil incarnate.Watch the trailer.

June 30 — Superman Returns. Following a mysterious absence of several years, the Man of Steel comes back to Earth in the epic Superman Returns. While an old enemy plots to render him powerless once and for all, Superman faces the heartbreaking realization that the woman he loves, Lois Lane, has moved on with her life. Or has she? Superman's bittersweet return challenges him to bridge the distance between them while finding a place in a society that has learned to survive without him. In an attempt to protect the world he loves from cataclysmic destruction, Superman embarks on an epic journey of redemption that takes him from the depths of the ocean to the far reaches of outer space. Watch the trailer.

July 7 — A Scanner Darkly. From the book by Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly is set in suburban Orange County, California in a future where America has lost the war on drugs. When one reluctant undercover cop is ordered to start spying on his friends, he is launched on a paranoid journey into the absurd, where identities and loyalties are impossible to decode.Watch the trailer.

August 4 — Apocalypto. A heart stopping mythic action-adventure set against the turbulent end times of the once great Mayan civilization. When his idyllic existence is brutally disrupted by a violent invading force, a man is taken on a perilous journey to a world ruled by fear and oppression where a harrowing end awaits him. Watch the trailer.

Fall 2006 — Marie-Antoinette. Based on Antonia Fraser's book about the ill-fated Archduchess of Austria and later Queen of France, Marie-Antoinette tells the story of the most misunderstood and abused woman in history, from her birth in Imperial Austria to her later life in France. Watch the trailer.

Still in production — The Number 23. A man becomes obsessed with a book that appears to be based on his life but ends with a murder that has yet to happen in real life.

Descriptions are from Internet Movie Data Base or the film's official website. Image is from A Scanner Darkly.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

So Dark the Con of Man

The murder of a curator at the Louvre reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected since the days of Christ. Only the victim's granddaughter and Robert Langdon, a famed symbologist, can untangle the clues he left behind. The duo become both suspects and detectives searching for not only the murderer but also the stunning secret of the ages he was charged to protect.

Watch Tom Hanks in the exclusive trailer for The Da Vinci Code, based on the best-selling novel by Dan Brown.

The film opens worldwide May 19, 2006.

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RRCG members speak out: Brother Darren

Why I joined the Rose Cross of Gold, by Brother Darren
When I became a Freemason in 2000, I was amazed to find that the inner workings of this once-revered institution was in a state of advanced decay. The once-hallowed halls of Masonry had become filled with men who were more like the characters you find lurking in the smoke-filled dens of a gambling hall, men who sought only to further their social standing with extravagant titles and philanthropic associations. Their own quest for personal fame and financial gain was the impetus for their pretended pious adherence to the Lodge.

I joined the RRCG because I feel that they are in the spirit of TRUE MASONRY. They adhere to the old ways and value honor, integrity, and brotherhood over title-grabbing and fame-seeking. It is an order that values enlightenment and masonic education over fish-fry dinners and BBQ's.

True charity begins with compassion for the spirit. All other acts of charity follow. Truth... above all else.

The Grand Lodge of Georgia has become a "Whited Sepulchre." It is full of dead men's bones. Nowhere is there Light to be seen — only old blind men sucking their own blood. They deny the Light to the weary traveler. The sacred fire has been taken from their own hearth.

Yet Prometheus remains bound. The thief is in their own ranks and he shall bring it to that place swathed in purple, where the unrighteous shall hoard its meager light unto themselves and hide it from the worthy.

As the righteous dead implore the Lord, "How long must we wait before thine vengeance is meted out upon the usurpers of the truth?", we watch and wait until the ultimate and ineviteable end of all evil intentions runs its course.

I will cleave to the RRCG, this pinnacle of what true Freemasonry can be.

And I shall defend it to my own end, should it be necessary.

— Brother Darren


Power corrupts

So a girl walks into a bar....

If you think some Freemasons are bad, check out the kind of police officer Nicole ran into recently.

Happy Vernal Equinox!

Happy Vernal Equinox! Today in the Northern Hemisphere, it's the first day of Spring, when the sun crosses the Celestial Equator and enters the sign of Aries.

It's a day for mourning the Goddess's consort, the Dying God, who has co-ruled with the Goddess during the autumn and winter months.

It is the first day of the year in the Zoroastrian calendar. It is the feast day of the Anglo-Saxon Goddess Easter, known to the Mesopatamians as Ishtar.

The Dying God is celebrated by an inscription in the Vatican, which says, "He who will not eat of my body, nor drink of my blood, so that he may be one with me and I with him, shall not be saved." No, that's not Jesus talking, but the God-Man Mithras, upon whose Temple ruins the Vatican was built. Mithras was a solar deity known as The Redeemer. His worship was before and concurrent with that of Jesus, but eventually faded away.

Mithras was Known as the "Good Shepherd" and the "Light of the World," just as was Jesus. Mithras's followers shared ritual communion meals of bread and wine. Mithras was born in a cave, of a virgin, on December 25th. Shepherds attended at his birth.

As the Burning Taper discussed some time ago, many God-Men were born on the Winter Solstice, and many died on the Vernal Solstice. Attis's mother was Cybele, a virgin, known as Queen of Heaven. Further back, we find the Babylonian Goddess Ishtar and her dying/resurrected son/lover Tammuz, born/resurrected at the Winter Solstice, dying at the Spring Equinox.

Even the name Easter comes from the word Ishtar.

The cross is an ancient symbol, pre-dating Christianity, often used to represent a solar deity. Inside a circle, the cross represents the Earth and her four seasons.
From "The Temple of Love: The History of the Temple of Ishtar":

In Her Temples in many lands from Egypt to Assyria to Babylon to Crete to India, in Rome and Greece and many Celtic lands, Her Temples had Sacred Priestesses who were also called Prostitutes by those of body denial religions. Her worship was in the arms of the Priestess who embodied and represented The Goddess(s). These worshipers are sometimes known as pagans.

A fundamental difference in the concept of worship is important to note: In the Temples of the old ways people would go to the temple TO BE WORSHIPPED not to worship. Women would go to the temple to serve the Goddess to embody Her, to represent Her, to be worshipped as Her. Women would spend a day, or a week, or a year serving at the Temple as a priestess, as a sacred Prostitute, as a whore in service to the Goddess. There they would be worshipped as the incarnation of the Goddess, as The Goddess Herself.

Men would come to Her Temple TO BE WORSHIPPED. Men would be welcomed and served by the Priestesses and men would represent the divine male principal, the Horned One, the Sacred Bull, The God. Men would come to the temple to give their love and passion to The Goddess, and would receive the passion, love, and affection of The Goddess.

But some three millennia ago there came monotheists who refused Her Worship preferring instead to be diminished in body and spirit. They called Her, "The Whore of Babylon, who leads men into fornication." They called our sacred sexuality "sin," and cast shame on Her sacred Priestesses. They held up a "virgin" as the ideal that women should imitate instead of the sacred Goddess that they had always held as the most sacred image of Woman. This is essentially the state of things in the modern world.

The two principal deities of ancient Babylon were Baal and Ishtar. Baal was the god of war and the elements and Ishtar the goddess of fertility - both human and agricultural. These two deities have roots going back before Babylon to Nimrod at Babel and to Assyria. Through the ages they were imported into other nations and under different names but always retaining the same basic characteristics. Baal was also called Bel, Baalat, Molech, Merodach, Mars and Jupiter, and was frequently represented as a bull. Ishtar was also called Aphrodite, Astarte, Ashtoreth, Cybele or Sybil, Diana, Europa, Isis, Semiramis and Venus. The two main elements in the worship of Baal were fire and human sacrifice, usually children.
Happy Spring!

The Temple of Love: The History of the Temple of Ishtar
The Burning Taper: Let There Be Light
Born Jesus: Mother, behold thy Son! Son, behold thy Mother!

This article is cross-posted on

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Alabama Getaway: Young Masons flee the Blue Lodge

Looks like there is Masonic trouble with a capital T brewing in the great state of Alabama.

At Seeker's Observations, a new Mason tells why already he has stopped participating in lodge activities, yet remains a Mason in his heart.

At Free-Mason-Alert, we're told about how one brother was attacked for wearing an antique York Rite apron while visting a lodge, only to be accused by the Worshipful Master, Grand Master of Alabama and other brothers of wearing an apron from the so-called "clandestine" Rite of the Rose Cross. You can read a series of emails between the parties involved.

[Addendum to the original post] Also new at Free-Mason-Alert today is a short essay titled "The Fading Away of the Old System." In part it says:
What have they done to our fraternity? They have transformed it into a tyrannical power based upon the greed for money, titles, and the lust for power. How many of you step into a Lodge and feel the evil directed towards you? How many "Brothers" can you trust today? Do you feel a sense of danger? I do. So what are we going to do about it? [end of addendum]
Freemasonry in the South has found itself in a sorry state. Young, energetic, free-thinking Masons are being rebuffed, abused and threatened with exile for trying to find more in Freemasonry than good ol' boy networking, fish fry dinners and boring, meaningless business meetings. Masonic education is not only frowned upon; it's discouraged. Brotherly love no longer prevails.

"Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act." — George Orwell

Photo: Empty Masons.


Sunday, March 19, 2006

Support Masonic youth groups with an ad on "A Million Pixels US"

DeMolay is an organization dedicated to preparing young men to lead successful, happy, and productive lives. Basing its approach on timeless principles and practical, hands-on experience, DeMolay opens doors for young men aged 12 to 21 by developing the civic awareness, personal responsibility and leadership skills vitally needed in society today. DeMolay combines this serious mission with a fun approach that builds important bonds of friendship among members in more than 1,000 chapters worldwide.

DeMolay alumni include Walt Disney, John Wayne, Walter Cronkite, football Hall-of-Famer Fran Tarkenton, legendary Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne, news anchor David Goodnow and many others. Each has spoken eloquently of the life-changing benefit gained from their involvement in DeMolay.

Brother John Ratcliff of Lake Saint Louis, Missouri, is Chapter Dad for the Troy, Missouri, DeMolay. As a fundraiser for the group, he has set up

Mary and the Widow's Son urge you to support this DeMolay chapter by buying a pixel ad on Brother John's site.

Here's more about the concept, from John's blog
I’m sure you have heard by now about the guy who sold a million pixels on the Internet for a dollar a pixel and, yep, he made a million bucks. Good for him. And, perhaps, you have heard about the guy who sold a million pixels on the internet for a penny a pixel and made a cool ten-grand. Good for him too.

This got me thinking, could I use this same approach as a fundraising opportunity for my son’s youth group? I checked out these other sites and the first thing I noticed is that they are really ugly. It is also clear that fairly random people bought advertising on the sites just because it was part of a fad.

However, there can only be so many "million pixel" sites before the idea loses its appeal. In fact, when I investigated getting a URL reserved for a site it was obvious I wasn’t the only one who had this idea. In fact, there are now thousands of "million pixel" websites out there competing for your pixel dollars. It has even created a whole new class of internet advertising called "pixel ads."

One advantage of pixel ads is that it is a neat way to browse a lot of sites from a single portal. That said, I think it would help if the links were all related by some theme instead of this random mish-mash of marketing mania found on these other sites.

I concluded there should be some basic requirements set for a new pixel-ad site that would have any chance of success in this crowded market. Here is what I came up with:

All money goes to charity. I’m not trying to line my own pockets. Every link purchased is a donation to a worthy cause.

Each time someone donates to "A Million Pixels US" they not only get acknowledged for their generous contribution but they will also know exactly where their money goes. Every single penny raised will be reported and every penny spent documented on this public website. For example, currently my son’s youth group is trying to raise money so they can attend the annual State convention in May. We need at least $2,000 to send the entire chapter. If we are lucky enough to raise more money than we need for State Conclave then we will donate it to the other Masonic Youth groups in our area, including Rainbow for Girls and Jobs Daughters, as well as supporting own charities.

We will not accept links that are inappropriate or do not match the general theme of the site. This means there will be no ads for weight-loss, internet gambling, or any other inappropriate material. We will accept links to the following kinds of Masonic-themed sites:
  • Personal weblogs of Master Masons
  • Links to Masonic-themed message forums
  • Masonic Blue Lodge sites
  • Shrine sites
  • Eastern Star Sites
  • Rainbow Sites
  • DeMolay sites
  • Masonic magazines or books
  • Scottish Rite
  • York Rite
  • Job's Daughters
  • Amaranth
  • White Shrine
  • Shrine Circus
  • Masonic Buildings/Facilities
  • Masonic-themed photographs or histories
  • Grand Lodge sites
  • Commercial sites selling Masonic supplies
  • Anything else deemed appropriate, such as links to non-Masonic themed weblogs, appropriate discussion forums, and vanity links to photo-albums
To make the site visually appealing, the graphics real-estate being sold will be negative space on an attractive image that helps sell the theme of the charity. Since my charity is Masonic Youth groups I used a classic image of the "Square and Compass" as the background theme.

Image space is pre-divided. Effectively turning it into a "subdivision" where you buy a specific piece of image real-estate. Allmost all space that is being sold is in square blocks (except for a few rectangular plots) that are an even multiple of 10 pixels on a side.

The million pixels (of which we are selling about 500,000) is subdivided into 201 plots; ranging from $4 for a 20x20 pixel square to $100 for a 100x100 pixel spot. For every $10 you donate you will receive an additional free "micro-link" that will be hidden somewhere in the image. Here are the plots available for sale.
  • $100: (100x100) 13 plots offered, 10 bonus micro links with each
  • $81: (90x90) 5 plots, 9 micro-links
  • $64: (80x80) 5 plots, 6 micro-links
  • $50: (100x50) 32 plots available, 5 micro-links
  • $49: (70x70) 1 plot, 5 micro-links
  • $36: (60x60) 10 plots, 4 micro-links
  • $25: (50x50) 7 plots, 3 micro-links
  • $16: (40x40) 20 plots, 2 micro-links
  • $9: (30x30) 32 plots, 1 micro-link
  • $4: (20x20) 77 plots, no micro-link offered.
All plots sold include, for free, a one pixel border all of the way around the edge to help distinguish your ad from its neighbors. We are not selling all "one million pixels." We are, in fact, only selling about half of that, at a penny a pixel. The rest is reserved for the original background artwork or for free bonus micro-links.

Since my charity is Masonic Youth Groups (DeMolay, Job’s Daughters, and Rainbow for Girls), I want to engage the very active online Masonic community. Freemasons are, by nature, generous. We give frequently to many charities within our own lodges and area. However, there is another Freemason community out there which is bound, not by individual lodge, but by Weblogs and discussion forums. Here, with the click of a mouse button, a brother Master Mason can donate a few dollars to a worthy charity and receive a link to their blog, forum, or lodge website.

View or donate: See the million pixels page

Photo: Alex Ratcliff being installed as Chaplain of Troy DeMolay

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Small town tries to run off drama teacher

The recent post about my experience in a small town lodge brought more traffic to the Burning Taper than we've ever seen. My thanks to all who've stopped by and to all who have linked to the article.

An article about a school teacher in a small town in Missouri got my attention today. Fulton High teacher Wendy Devore is also the school's drama coach.

Devore is being run off — threatened with being fired if she doesn't resign — for having her drama students perform such "tawdry" plays as Arthur Miller's The Crucible, Shakespeare's A Mid-Summer Night's Dream, and the musical Grease, made famous by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in 1978. Grease depicts highschoolers in the 1950s.

A handful of Callaway Christian Church members complained about scenes in Grease that showed teens smoking, drinking and kissing.

Bending to the pressure, Superintendent Mark Enderle told DeVore to find a more family-friendly play. She chose A Mid-Summer Night's Dream, which features suicide, rape, and the loss of one's virginity.

Enderle and the school's principal now decline to discuss the matter.

Publicity has spilled over to the mainstream press. A front-page story recently ran in the New York Times, calling Fulton, Missouri, an intolerant small town.

"We have become a laughingstock," teacher Paula Fessler told the Fulton Sun.

Oh, yeah... there's trouble in River City.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Small Town Freemasonry — Part One: A Bucket of Rattlesnakes

It seems like every week or so I discover another new Masonic blog or website. Internet-savvy Masons in general seem to me to be more enlightened, more interested in esoterica and in restoring Freemasonry to that which it once was, than do our elder non-Internet-using brothers. More than just an age difference, I think it reflects a different attitude towards Life.

Our elder brethren came of age during the World War II-Korean War era, in a world that still (at least superficially) resembled a Norman Rockwell painting. Even today, in smaller towns, especially in the South, Life still plods along like it's Mayberry, R.F.D., and "traditional" values haven't changed so much. The older lodge members were already fathers or about to become fathers when the tradition-changing 1960s came along. Clinging to their roots, they held fast and became even more neo-phobic — afraid of change — shunning ideas like sexual and racial equality, free thought in spiritual and religious matters, etc.

During the sixty years since WWII, Freemasonry has seen a great rise, and then an even more dramatic drop, in interest and in membership. Since the 1960's membership has fallen, especially in urban areas, leaving smaller, more rural lodges making up a greater percentage of the Masonic population.

I guess it was inevitable that these smaller lodges took on the personality of the small towns they were in, reflecting the political and religious views of their members. Cliques took over; good ol' boy networks of Past Masters began running lodges from behind the scenes, leaving current officers "in charge" in name only until they'd bent their own personalities into the "group think" mentality of the older brethren. The beautiful, scripted prayers to the Great Architect of the Universe, intended to be recited or read during lodge meetings, were replaced by chaplains who were ordained ministers praying loud and long to Jesus, despite the admonition against religious sectarianism in the Lodge Room.

With suburban sprawl, highways led "city boys" to the country. The Information Superhighway had opened the educated professionals' minds to seek the ancient and historical lessons and secrets of Freemasonry. It was inevitable that Culture Clash would eventually arrive behind the Tyled Door.

Most of the newcomers to Freemasonry didn't stay around long. Some continue to keep paying their dues — because they still want to belong — but they seldom darken the doors of their lodges anymore. They quickly discovered that the old men in their local lodges didn't have any esoteric secrets to share. Sure, there were always men in the lodge who knew the catechisms well enough to teach them to the newcomers, but few of the teachers could explain the meanings of the rituals. Many couldn't even pronounce some of the words correctly.

Some hardy souls who became Masons stuck it out. They felt that sense of camaraderie, that sense of brotherhood, that sense they had become part of something special. They felt something greater than themselves, something mystic, even though what they were seeing with their eyes didn't match. Inwardly, they felt a mystical tie with, if not all the brethren, at least with someone in the lodge. Perhaps it was the man who signed their petition, perhaps the man who acted as Worshipful Master and raised them, or perhaps they felt this sense of brotherhood with the man who coached them through their catechisms.

Outwardly, though, the new Mason probably saw this: Men 20 to 30 years their senior, most of whom reminded them more of their grandfathers than their fathers, whose religious and ultra-conservative political views were, to the new Mason, anachronistic, old-fashioned... and... in spite of the rules the new Mason had been handed, openly touted in the Lodge.

While there were successful older men in the lodge, their rural upbringing and their WWII/Korean War era military service had offered most of the older, locally-born lodge members little in the way of higher education... another cause of Culture Clash with the newly-arrived, city-bred, educated, esoterica-seeking new Mason.

At this point in your reading, I must interject to say this: I'm talking here about my experience. I am the younger, city-bred, college-educated, Internet-savvy, esoterica-seeking newer Mason that moved to a small town in north Georgia and then became a Freemason after meeting a generous, kind, and compassionate (and unusual for the area, college-educated) local-born Mason who "adopted" my entire family as his own, and through his upright manner, led me to want to become a Mason, too.

I loved (and still love) Masonry. When I joined, I jumped right into the lodge, and have held all the floor offices up to and including Junior Warden, and have acted as both Senior Warden and Worshipful Master on several occasions. I was one of those
guys who was there "every time the doors were open." I even earned an honorary membership at another lodge, I was so active.

I was respectful of the obvious differences between myself and the more rural brethren, and for quite some time sublimated my personality for sake of "peace and harmony" and for the "good of the Order."

A member of our lodge — another "outsider," an 80-year-old native Canadian medical doctor who had transfered his membership to the lodge from the metro Atlanta area a few years earlier — and I became fast friends. Brother Bob was our lodge's Director of Masonic Education. He had traveled the world extensively, and during his travels he always tried to visit lodges in other countries.

He would bring back stories and photos and Masonic coins and trinkets and often have a show-and-tell during his talks in lodge meetings.

One day Bob asked me to come to his house. When I arrived, he confided in me that he was dying, that he'd been given less than six months to live. He asked me not to tell anyone, because "people treat you differently when they know you're dying." As a medical doctor, I'm sure he'd seen that phenomenon many times with his patients.

Bob had no sons, only daughters. As an educated man, he had collected many books, magazines, and articles about Freemasonry over his Masonic career, and he wanted me to have them all. That day we filled the trunk and backseat of my car with a library's worth of Masonic literature. I was honored he had chosen to give his materials to me.

Worshipful Brother Bob died three months later. I still miss him. The lodge named me as his successor, the new Director of Masonic Education.

Not having traveled and visited lodges around the world like Bob had, I focused my lectures on Masonic history, Masonic etiquette and Masonic values.

The first thing I learned was that old men have very short attention spans. The second thing I learned was that most of them didn't care a hoot about Masonic history, Masonic etiquette, or Masonic values. "Greet, eat and meet" were the three watchwords, unless there was degree work to be done. Undaunted, I continued studying about Freemasonry and then, true to my "job" as Director of Masonic Education, I prepared lectures to educate my brethren.

One of my best lectures ever was given at an open meeting attended by over a hundred members and visitors, including all of the Grand Lodge officers, at our flagpole dedication ceremony. I received a rousing ovation after delivering a talk on how the Pledge of Allegiance came into being, and several requests for copies of my talk.

The Worshipful Master at the time, however, began to find reasons to not let me speak. "We're going too long," he said nearly every other meeting, though what we "went long" on was usually bill-reading and other non-Masonic time-wasters and overly-long recitals of who was sick with what disease, and how they were related to someone, followed by yet another long prayer for each sick person by name. (Did I mention, the lodge meetings more and more came to resemble a Wednesday night Baptist prayer meeting?) Occasionally, the WM would ask me what my topic was to be, and then tell me that it was too "controversial" and that I would upset the "peace and harmony" of the lodge. I soon realized that if I wanted to continue to speak, I had better stick to safe topics like short biographies of famous Masons.

Privately, I consulted with that particular WM and with a Past Master about something that bugged me more and more each time it happened — the long, drawn-out prayers addressed to and spoken in the name of Jesus, sometimes led by a kneeling brother who would actually weep or cry out as he prayed. I saw more than one newly raised Mason not come back after an ordained minister called down Jesus upon the lodge as the candidate was being Raised.

When I pointed out, in private, that the rules of Freemasonry and of the Grand Lodge of Georgia said that we should not be saying sectarian prayers, the WM told me, "It's the spirit of the law we should uphold, not the letter." The Past Master (who was about my age) whom I consulted privately — one of the most "guilty" of this particular breach of Masonic etiquette — simply told me, "You're right, Brother, but I'm not gonna change. That's the way I pray." Others later accused me of trying to control how a person prays.

I don't care how a person prays privately or if they pray at all. But in a Lodge, I think we should act like Masons and follow the rules and traditions of Masonry.

After failing to gain any ground with the WM and the PM, I brought it up in open lodge. I didn't do it blatantly, but calmly and in the guise of a lecture about Grand Lodge rules and how following them is what defines us as Georgia Masons. I later wrote about my experience that night, in an article I called "The Christianization of Freemasonry," and posted it on an Internet Masonic forum where I found that most Masons agreed with me and were aghast at what happened. The article was eventually seen by my local lodge brothers, and has now become known as the "Bucket of Rattlesnakes" article.

Here's the short essay I called "The Christianization of Freemasonry."
Our lodge routinely invokes Jesus in every prayer uttered. No one in the lodge has even memorized the prayer to GAOTU (who?, they would say) in our Manual that is to be used in opening and in ritual work. EA's and FC's and MM's are prayed over by red-faced ministers and lay-ministers who pray for souls to be won to "the Lord" and the ill to be healed. I'm embarassed for the new members, but most of them seem to think that's the way it's supposed to be. I try to ignore it, thinking "it is what it is" and try to do my part in raising the consciousness of my brethren, but I'm probably just spinning my wheels paying off Karmic debt or something.

As part of a lecture in lodge several months ago, I was elaborating on the principles of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, and how as Georgia Masons we are "defined" in a way by those rules we had sworn to uphold. It was a pretty cut-and-dried talk, not one of my best, just sorta going over some basics...

...until I read paragraph #5: "It [Freemasonry] is religious in that it teaches monotheism; the Volume of the Sacred Law is open upon its altars whenever a Lodge is in session; reverence for God is ever present in its ceremonial, and to its brethren are constantly addressed lessons of morality; yet it is not sectarian or theological." I simply added this comment:

"Brethren, that means, technically, that we should not be closing our prayers 'in Jesus's name', but rather simply direct our prayers to God."

You would have thought I'd asked everyone to disrobe, kill a virgin and sing Sympathy for the Devil or something! You've never seen a bunch of bored old fish-fry Masons come to life so quickly!

I lost the floor immediately in a torrent of unhappy and unpleasant comments, most of which came from Past Masters who you'd think that, if they didn't know better about the context, at least would know better about the decorum of jumping down my throat.
  • "You ain't puttin' no other book on that altar!"
  • "We can pray any way WE want!"
  • You're talking about idols! They worship idols!"
  • "I don't see no Jews or Muslims in here! We ain't gotta worry about that!"
  • [my favorite] "I thought you had to be a Christian to be a Mason!"
The exclamation points were there, in their voices. I was amazed at how ruffled their feathers were. I was more than amazed — I was astounded.

And though I certainly didn't mean to cause such an uproar, I guess deep down I actually enjoyed it. It was the most exciting Blue Lodge meeting I had ever been to. Finally, people were at least paying attention and having an opinion.

One good Brother (a Christian, but one who didn't agree with the Mountain Baptist reactionaries) stood to talk on the point, and was basically told to sit down.

"We could go on about this all night, but I'm not gonna stand for it!," one PM stated, flailing his arms in the air.

Afterwards, one young Mason — who agreed with me in theory but not in practice — who grew up here in the mountains, going to the same Mountain Baptist churches the upset elder Brethren did, spoke with me after the meeting, saying, "You didn't just open up a can of worms... you knocked over a bucket of rattlesnakes."
Not content just to have rocks thrown at me (figuratively) for pointing out a Masonic truism, it was my fate to learn yet more about small town Freemasonry.

About the same time that I gave the "rattlesnake lecture," I was instructed by the lodge, in my capacity as Junior Warden, to draw up Masonic charges against a member of our lodge who had pleaded guilty in state court to having sex with a 16-year-old.

Little did I realize that doing my Masonic duty and filing those Masonic charges as instructed with our lodge's Secretary would lead to my being cursed and physically threatened at the Lodge by the Accused after he pleaded guilty to the Masonic charges, and later to having charges of unMasonic conduct threatened against me by a Grand Lodge member for following Masonic Code by publicizing the child-exploiter's state and Masonic convictions.

More to come....

— Widow's Son

Go to Small Town Freemasonry — Part Two: The Masonic Ambush
Small Town Freemasonry — Part Three: A Day in the Life of a Junior Warden

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