Tuesday, March 11, 2008

'Common Sense': Opposing Masonic tyranny

The "illegal" blog Masonic Crusade is reporting that conditions have further deteriorated in West Virginia Masonry between current Grand Master Charlie Montgomery and many W.V. Masons over the expulsion of Past Grand Master Frank Haas and another brother.

The Crusade reported that after an out-of-state brother visited a W.V. lodge and spoke in support of Haas' agenda (which after being approved by vote of the brethren was "dumped" by a later grand master), a "secret" letter has gone out from Montgomery to lodge Masters across the state dictating what can and cannot be discussed in lodge meetings. The Crusade says that the letter also warns Masters that they cannot reveal the contents or even the existence of the letter.

Bro. Chris at Freemasons for Dummies has weighed in with his own commentary on this matter, calling it a "Masonic crisis."

I think every free-thinking, freedom-loving Free-Mason should weigh in on this matter. If what is being reported is true, Masonry is truly diseased. As the Crusade writes, "we cannot let Charlie's mockery of real Masonic Principles go unanswered."

As we yammer and yaw about sometimes meaningless Masonic things on this blog and elsewhere, the very core of Masonic principles is being challenged in most unmasonic ways in West Virginia. A real revolution, far bigger than the troubles we've seen in Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, etc., is on the horizon, if not already taking place.

One thing that we inherited from British Masonry that strikes me as wrong is the idea that a grand master and a grand lodge are omnipotent and "infallible." Freemasonry is a fraternity, not a kingdom, and Freemasons are free citizens and brothers, not subjects. The line of succession in grand lodges is not unlike the monarchy in England, where the crown is handed down based on heredity. This "right of succession" was displayed almost arrogantly at the Georgia Grand Lodge I attended last fall. The new grand master, while introducing the junior grand officers, repeatedly referred to one man or another as his "Masonic son" or "Masonic grandson." Short of death, nothing will stop the line of succession, and nothing will ever change. "Election" of grand officers is a mere rubber-stamping by timid subjects, not votes by free men or Free Masons.

To the brothers in West Virginia, I have said:
If your Grand Master is indeed telling your lodges what they can and cannot discuss, and forbidding Masters to disclose his communications, then Masonic tyranny and terrorism has truly arrived.

Stand and fight, men. The Masonic world is not laughing at you; we are behind you.

Lately I've been reading Thomas Payne's "Common Sense." It is said that in early 1776, even the staunchest loyalist couldn't read this tract to the end without being persuaded to becoming pro-independence. Perhaps something in Payne's words can embolden West Virginia brethren to take action against King Charles' tyranny.

"O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth!" — Thomas Payne, "Common Sense"
I call upon the other 50 grand lodges in the U.S. to take action for the good of Masonry and Masons, and to rein in King Charles' abuse of power. And I call upon all Masons of good and noble character to learn more about what is going on in West Virginia, and to offer your brothers support, relief and brotherly love.

Image: Thomas Paine

| | | | | |


  1. Brother WS;

    In GENERAL I agree with your comments, and will be posting pretty much the same on my blog shortly. Where we disagree is your characterization of freemasonry IN GENERAL being diseased because of the incredibly awful events in West Virginia.

    I think it would be MUCH more accurate, and honest, to state: The statement should, more accurately, I think, state: If what is being reported is true, Freemasonry IN WEST VIRGINIA, is truly diseased.

    MY freemasonry (Grand Lodge of California, F&AM) does NOT have this problem, nor does Nevada, Arizona, Texas or 30 some odd OTHER grand lodges. We will accept, as given, that perhaps, therefore, 13-15 of the 111 Regular Grand Lodges in the United States do not have this problem.

    so, at worse, 12% +/- (!) MIGHT have this problem. It seems uncharitable, at best, to so mischaracterize all of freemasonry because of one Grand Master...

    just a thought.

  2. oops, I spotted a typo as it saved. That should read 101 Regular Grand Lodges in these United States, not 111.

    Darn keyboard... just does what I tell it instead of what I want it to do...


  3. Truthfully, I think it becomes easier to not bother to deal with it anymore rather than take up Payne's arms. Why when politics are rife with corruption, inflation is out of control, and any number of daily challenges are at hand... Is the fight worth it to be a part of a social institution that I pay money to to still play politics?

    My guess is that its not, and the numbers show it.

  4. The Grand Lodge of Ohio tried to mandate we take down Paine's and Soinoza's work off of our website as well!

    I asked RWB Ed Phelps what the problem was with Spnoza's "Ethics" book, and he did not know and said it was not in accordance with the teachings of the Grand Lodge of Ohio.

    Ethics is something the Grand Lodge of Ohio did not want us to read and make available to new brothers.

    What has happened Liberty, Equality and Fraternity?

  5. Bro. Theron:

    Anyone who has read any Masonic-related blog or forum in the past couple of years knows that YOUR Freemasonry is just peachy-keen perfect. There are no out-of-check egos in positions of authority, no corruption, no problems. No one ever so much as misses a "the" or an "and" when performing your rituals. The food at your barbecues and fishfries is always 4-star rated and is never greasy. Your lodge buildings clean themselves and the bathrooms never run out of toilet paper. All is well with YOUR Freemasonry.

    There... I feel better. Sarcasm is cathartic. Thanks for the opportunity.

    Freemasonry is a body of men, of brethren, not a tapestry of loosely knit rags. State boundary lines and "who recognizes whom" are meaningless except to those who choose to make them so. If a man (or woman) identifies himself/herself to me satisfactorily as a Mason, I don't need to know whence they came. Brothers first, until and unless they show themselves unworthy. You and I and Masons from across the globe are brothers, living cells of a fraternity.

    We're a body of Freemasons.

    When a body is diseased in one part of itself, it is diseased in its entirety. A diabetic with a foot ulcer, for example, isn't just sick in his foot; his whole body is diseased.

    It's the same for Freemasonry. When part of it is ailing, all of it is distressed and in need of attention. If it isn't taken care of locally, infection spreads. Its a failure in overall "health care" that leads to outbreaks of disease in various parts of the fraternal anatomy.

    Please stop being so self-centered protecting YOUR Freemasonry. It's become a broken record. We know you love it, and, like a moon-eyed newlywed, you can't see anything wrong with your beloved. Even your mantra of "It's not about me changing them; it's about me changing ME" is self-centered, focused on me me me.



  6. Glad that the saracasm works for you. I find it, like the dunce who keeps posting... nothing, to be pretty useless.

    Now, that written, you are, of course, correct. There is a problem in freemasonry, and in my mind, it is that some men have forgotten what freemasonry is supposed to be, and have tried to make it into something it is NOT.

    Freemasonry is about us making ourselves better men. If you walk about under a cloud all the time, looking for nothing but negatives, well, guess what, you WILL find it. It can clearly be seen here... you find what you want.

    I want to improve myself in masonry. So I seek the good in it, and take the good in. You see it as self centered, frankly, I see all this carping and whining as pretty self centered and useless... but if all this incessant negativity helps you, well, knock yourself out.

    You see all Freemasons as one body, and as I have noted elsewhere, I do not. Not everyone that claims to be a brother really is, and I chose to CHOSE who I recognize as a brother and who I do not.

    That written, there IS a problem in West Virginia, but it is NOT a problem that exists in each obedience or grand lodge. EVERY organization of men has problems... EVERY ONE OF THEM.

    Most Worshipful Montgomery has a problem, is creating a problem, but in a year, HE WILL BE GONE AND HIS ACTIONS UNDONE. So all we have to do is hold our breath for a year and its over. Heck, i served a term in the Air Force, I can tell you that time heals all wounds.

    But, as has been pointed out so often, each grand lodge is sovereign, and while Georgia Brothers are masons, I can do NOTHING about what happens in Georgia. NOTHING.

    Same in West Virginia. I do not like what the current GM is doing, and have said so in my blog, however, there is not one darn thing I can do about it other than blog, write letters, make calls, post blog entries to call attention to it, and run articles in magazine over it.

    That written, I am sorry YOUR Freemasonry is broken. By your posted logic, that means the grand orient and Halcyon #2 are ALSO broken, since they are Freemasons, and clearly that is not your opinion, so I guess its only "all of us" when its Regular Masonry.

    Check your logic at the door my friend, I think you left it behind when you came in.

    I am not blind to the faults of some grand lodges, nor even to the faults of MY grand lodge. However, rather than sit and complain about it and point fingers at everyone (which seems to be the past time around here, as long as its regular freemasonry fingers are being pointed at...) I DO SOMETHING other than sit and write complaints.

    If you want us to do something, why not try to do what I did on my blog in reference to this issue, and suggest a couple of courses of ACTION.

    I note you seem pretty angry because I am happy with my grand lodge... would you rather I was just another drone, complaining endlessly about something I don't want to actually fix?

    Some people seem to want to have something to complain about. I see problems, I try to find a solution, I work with other, like minded brothers to find and implement the solutions, and in so doing, find my happiness in Freemasonry... that and working to make me a better person.

    Working together toward a common goal is quintessentially masonic, but it requires stepping away from the computer. Your choice.

    let the slagging continue...

  7. Dear Bro. Theron,

    You are perhaps one of the most devoted Mainstream Free-Masons that I know. That is a good thing for your obedience, the GL of CA. Do not let your devotion become blind. I am not saying that you are looking through rose-colored glasses, but I am warning that you should always take things as they are, not how you want them. Perception does make your subjective reality, but do not become naive in the process. I believe you are a good man in your heart, but you know that there are many ills in Free-Masonry today. Take this as it is; I am not saying that all Free-Masonry is bad.

    You must choose how you will make Masonry better. For many, it is working from within the system. For some, such as WS, it is shedding light on the ills. When light is shined on darkness, the darkness becomes light. For others such as the Grand Orient of the USA and myself, we have chosen to leave mainstream Free-Masonry altogether and create a new form of Cosmopolitan Free-Masonry based on the European model. Each of these methods has merit, but they are all different. I respect what you are trying to do, but I have chosen a different way, as has WS.

    My hope for the future of Free-Masonry is that all systems will eventually open their doors to all Brothers, regardless of race, sex, creed, and even Masonic 'regularity'. That is the type of Free-Masonry that will make the world a better place to live. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.


  8. Of all the Masonic Blogs that I read, I always find the Burning Taper to be the most educational and entertaining. Thank you W.S. and all of the regular posters for your insightful thoughts and opinions. It is a shame what is happening in West Virginia. I agree that most likely when the current GM is gone the problems that he caused will be reversed. It is unfortunate that the conditions existed that allowed these things to happen in the first place. If changes are not made there is nothing to stop it from happening again in the future.

  9. Bro. Yancy,

    The real problem is that it keeps happening over and over again in different states. (GA, FL, AL, OH, MI, VA, KY, WV, MO, AK etc. just off the top of my head)

    To fix a problem you must first acknowledge that it exists. Too many mainstream Masons put on blinders and just hope the problems go away.

    Bro. Theron loves Freemasonry and wants to do what's right but feels powerless in states outside of CA. He knows that if he interferes too much he will be suspended or expelled and he doesn't want to become the latest victim.

    I can't blame him. It's gotten so ugly and nasty that at some point even the best brothers just throw up their hands.

    I did my best to promote positive changes in Georgia and they responded by just nuking me without charges or trial. Then they tried to brush the whole thing under the rug.

    I now realize that the same thing could happen to anyone. All you have to do is question the status quo like me or Haas, and you're doomed.

  10. Bro. Roark, So true. The sadest thing though is that there are a third class of Masons besides those that rebel and those that put on blinders. There actually are some Masons who are perfectly happy with the way things are and have no desire for any change. Just goes to show that things are seldom black and white, there is usually a shade of grey somewhere. You and Bro. Haas have my sincere sympathy for what you both have gone through.

  11. Thomas Paine made himself very unpopular both in England in the Americas with his radical positions following the American Revolution. He didn't think it went far enough. He called for absolute freedom of conscience, not toleration. That doesn't fit our pictures. We demand that people think and behave as we do.

    So folks talk about supporting the brothers in WV and other places with percieved problems. People call for action.

    What form does that support take?
    What actions are being called for?

    Without answers to those questions, it's all just electrons gone into the ether.

  12. So went Roma, so to will go the old Grand Lodges --it's just a matter how much sand is left in their hour glasses. The more important issue is: what we will learn from their history for if we do not learn from their mistakes, are doomed to repeat it --it's in our code.

  13. Jeff;

    I do nothing out of fear, and to so characterize it minimizes me, and i am sure that is not what you had in mind.

    What i keep trying to communicate here is that I do not have anything to fear from my Grand Lodge for acting on my conscience. That and I keep my obligation scrupulously.

    I just do not think that there is anything that I can, or more accurately, SHOULD do regarding actions being taken in other jurisdictions. Jeff, you were expelled without a trial, and you should have had a right to face a jury.

    And yet, what can I, a member of the Grand Lodge of California do about what was done in another jurisdiction? Each grand lodge is sovereign, right or wrong.

    Why is it that when a handful of masons complain about masonry, its all whoppee, yet when a man who enjoys freemasonry steps up and says: whoah there, its open season on him, as if its a crime here to be happy about freemasonry!

    If i did not love my freemasonry, if I had the fear that some of the posters here claim, i would quit it. I just don't see the angst some seem to claim.

    And I am not some Pollyanna that cannot see wrongs where they exist. Is it wrong, to send a letter telling people to not allow discussion and to keep the letter itself secret? Yes, it is, in my opinion, holding just those facts.

    We, each one of us, has choices. We can look at the glass and see it half full or half empty, or we can splash some water out and scream that its empty.

    If there is something wrong, fix it. Pointing at a temporary problem and screaming that all freemasonry is falling apart because of the actions of a few is not useful or helpful.

    Freemasonry has survived for 300 years, and some grand masters have been MUCH worse than M.W. Montgomery, yet after his term in office, other brothers have come along, fixed his actions, improved as a result, and freemasonry continues.

    Its about each of us making ourselves better through the teachings of freemasonry. MEN make mistakes and commit crimes, FREEMASONRY is a philosophy, a way of life, a way of living.

    M.W. Montgomery is not Freemasonry, he is A Freemason. I am not Freemasonry, I am a Freemason. You could as easily judge Freemasonry by me as by M.W. Montgomery.

    Yet, we are just men, both of us, seeking to improve ourselves in Freemasonry, to polish our ashlars.

  14. Bro. Theron,

    Someone must make a stand for what is right if truth and justice are to prevail.

    You are a true brother. Are there others?

    Let us stop this fighting among ourselves and wage war against the true enemies of the Craft.

  15. When I saw the corruption taking place within the West Side Masonic Temple and its residence, and how the GL was "handling" by protecting their cronies and trying to bury the young, new masons of Halcyon, I as sitting Worshipful Master of another Lodge in a different facility, threatened to step down as Master in protest of how things were being handled and would be very vocal about it.

    It effected change.
    It did make people stop and take a look and realize that men had responsabilities to seek truth and justice.
    and some would not turn a blind eye.

    What can be done?

    Discussing the Ills in Freemasonry within Lodge is one way. Shedding light on the darkness will always help.

    Appointing District Deputies who are competant in seeing wrong doings. Men, who when viewing records, have training in finance so they can see problems and handle it, instead of guys who trust everyone and and do not even know what to look for.

    Competant leaders.
    Should a janitor be trying audit temple companies books? How would he even know what to look for?


  16. "The life (sovereignty) of the land is perpetuated in (by) righteousness"

    Substitue Freemasonry for land.

    The life(sovereignty) of Freemasonry is perpetuated in(by) righteousness.

    So, what does this statement mean to WV masons?
    Other states where Ill prevails?

    Bully for those who small corner is swell.

    We need to then reach out and attempt to right the wrongs which have permeated our portals.

    The Life of Freemasonry is will only perpetuated in Righteousness!

    Black and white!
    West Virginia needs to be handled! That is a rogue Grand Lodge not perpetuating the tenets of Freemasonry. PERIOD!

    Hello masonic world, are you out there?
    While Jester's(freemasons) slease there way around our portals, Grand Master's are acting like Stalin!
    Wake Up and act now!
    The time is now, not tomorrow!

    I am glad our masonic forefathers did not sit around and wait till the king died and a new one would come in after him and then we will hope for change. Well, I guarentee the next Grand Master in west Virginia is not that different than the present, why? If he was a man of integrity we would have heard HIS protest about the actions of his Grand Master.
    Ofcourse, in my harsh, critical humble opinion.

  17. If you choose to view Freemasonry as "one body" then reducing the ills in that body ceases to become a thing of percentages. "Only 12%", as if you would say, " Well my left leg is all gangrenous and owing to it's severe state of putrefaction it must be removed.It's okay though, that's only 25% of my appendages." Ridiculous.
    The idea that you can do "NOTHING" about the vile actions being perpetrated by some Lodges/Grand Lodges is part of the problem.How do you think these charlatans come to act in this manner? Maybe because nobody does anything.They should be crushed under the deluge of voices speaking out.Large groups of REAL Freemasons should travel the states where problems exist and show some solidarity for the victims
    If I have to see the phrase "My Freemasonry" again I am going to be violently ill.

  18. Numbernine: better get the bag out...

    Look guys, can you tell me how the actions of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia affect the Grand Orient of France, or perhaps the Grande Oriente d'Italia, or the LDH in Los Angeles?

    It doesn't. Since it doesn't, it doesn't affect my freemasonry in California. Frankly, this is a temporary problem in an isolated place, by one man who will soon be gone...

    Lets try to keep these things in perspective instead of getting out a M44 cannon because of a hangnail on our little toe. Is what M.W. Montgomery doing wrong according to masonic tradition? Based on the little bit we are seeing, it does APPEAR to be wrong.

    We are all of us outsiders to the GLoWV. What, exactly, would you see a mason in Oregon, say, do about a problem that will be gone in six months?

    The racism in the GL of (whatever) is bad, but as I keep noting, what can I, in another state realistically do that will not cause MORE damage than writing articles and shining a light on it will do? Nothing.

    As for the Jesters, well, I have asked my Grand Lodge to derecognize the Shrine, and it seems unlikely I could get even 30% of the brethren to agree, so that's not going to happen.

    As I noted, M.W. Montgomery is NOT Freemasonry, he is a Freemason, in one Grand Lodge. And his tenure will be over soon enough. Lets not call in a nuclear strike when a bit to time will cure the ill.

  19. The question was aptly posed what can we do in someplace far away.

    As a model of government, we can complain to our “elected” leadership that what is happening in other locations (states) that we are in amity with, is unconstitutional (if we had a national constitution) or better yet unMasonic. We can insist that it is contradictory to Masonic behavior to eject a brother without a form of public trial, and can lead to cause that state to lose recognition by states that judge those actions as being heretical to the foundation and landmarks of Freemasonry.

    That is what we, in far distant lands (California) can do.

    The reality is that we look at masonry as being a Democratic free society that follows the precepts of open elections, follows the tenants of brotherly love, relief, and truth, and believe in equality amongst all masculine dues paying brothers. To most dues paying masons, there is much that can be done.

    But to those 10% who do participate, we can do something, but it requires a whole lot of effort and time, and in the short spectrum, would put those demand justice under the gaze of our own grand lodges for not being quiet and towing the line.

    What you can do is demand that your respective states Grand Master pull recognition from states where these gross violations are being perpetuated. But it requires our motivation to write letters, engage leadership, and demand change. Participatory, not observational, if you want change you must engage in active participation.

    For those concerned with what's happening in west Virginia, here is their contact:

    West Virginia Grand Lodge
    Ancient Free and Accepted Masons
    107 Hale Street
    P. O. Box 2346
    Charleston, WV 25328-2346

    and their number is:
    (304) 342-3543

    both readily available at their states website:

    Pass it onto your Grand Secretary or Grand Master with your concerns. This is what we can do when we feel a brother is far away and being treated unfairly. You can voice your concern to the channels you choose to live within.

  20. MT - I'm not going to say that "nothing can be done", but I am going to say that there's going to be a lot of flailing around before somebody figures out what can be done, and how, and by that time, it's quite likely that the current GM will already be out of office.

    Most GLs prefer not to have Masons from other jurisdictions contact them without going through "proper channels" or protocol. That means that you "should" write a letter to your Grand Sec, who will then contact the Grand Sec in WV. Any of us bothering to write to the GLWV will simply have our emails deleted, if they aren't simply forwarded to our own GLs, with a note asking them to keep a closer eye on the people who aren't following protocol.

    Another issue is that the GL of WV is going to say that those of us outside WV really don't know the whole story (true enough) and would probably add that it's none of our beeswax. And if I'm any judge of human nature, it would probably make them roll up the drawbridge and become defensive of their territory and prerogatives.

    One of the reasons that Masonry moves so slowly is that it might be months before a GL gets together with anyone from the other states who might be in a position to whisper some good counsel.

    I'm trying to imagine what would happen if my own GM, Most Worshipful Bill, called up WV and asked "Hey, Monty, what's up with you guys down there? We're hearing all this talk and rumors, and now I'm reading some stuff on the intertubes. What's the deal, man?" I suspect that ol' Monty would tell him just where to get off. "Mind yer own store up there, Bill. Y'all already got 5 loudmouth bloggers in yer state alone; they'll be gunning for you and your'n next."

  21. Only 5 nutty bloggers... And they have an inventory of them? Wow that's pretty good. I knew those GL offices kept track of us, I just didn't know they barcoded and inventoried us to that degree. LOL

    Good account of the phone call though Tom. Can you call on the BT Call Me button and leave a message with actual voice impersonations so I can show our Widow Friend how to post voice messages too? Please!

  22. Br. tom, you are soooo right. But, in the abscence of nothing, its something. And, it gets registered in that celestial pile of complaints that at some future point, when something else happens, they can say, yep, there were complaints then too, time to act.

    If anything else, it gives a means to address a problem, and who knows, perhaps will institute a change in the short or long run. The first step is applying the motivation to make that change, and that comes with addressing the need.

  23. Theron Dunn writes:

    "Look guys, can you tell me how the actions of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia affect the Grand Orient of France, or perhaps the Grande Oriente d'Italia, or the LDH in Los Angeles? It doesn't. Since it doesn't, it doesn't affect my freemasonry [sic] in California. Frankly, this is a temporary problem in an isolated place, by one man who will soon be gone..."

    The "logic" of that argument could be applied equally to apartheid in South Africa, genocide in Rwanda, or the Nazi holocaust in Europe. I suppose brother Dunn would say:

    "Can you tell me how the actions of governments in South Africa, or Nazi Germany, or Rwanda, affect me here in California? It doesn't, and since it doesn't, I don't really care about it."

    He seems to have forgotten that "no man is an island," and "as the rights of one man are violated, the rights of all men are diminished."

    To spell it out in a practical way, people perceive things according to their own experiences. In places where Masonry is corrupt and/or racist, people who perceive that, believe it's representative of Masonry everywhere. Therefore, they develop an unfavorable impression of the institution, not just in one place, but in all places.

    In our world of increasing globalization, what happens in one place really does impact what happens elsewhere. When a grand lodge in one area is corrupt, the word spreads, and when people in other areas research the fraternity, they learn about the corruption, injustice, and racism, and are immediately turned off (or, worse still, those who are interested in joining a corrupt, racist organization, are turned on!).

    Consider the case in New York a few years ago, where some idiots at a blue lodge shot and killed a young Fellowcraft during an initiation ceremony. Can anyone honestly say that didn't affect Masonry anywhere except in New York?

    How many mothers or wives discouraged their sons or husbands from joining lodges, solely based on that one incident? The number would be impossible to calculate.

    Obviously, many Masons realize the impact of negative publicity, which is the reason they go to such great lengths to silence it. Unfortunately, they often focus only on eliminating the negative publicity by attacking those who report it (as in the case of brother Tim Brice and the Grand Lodge of Florida), rather than eliminating the problems that caused the negative publicity.

    The way forward isn't to ignore problems and attack the messengers who call attention to them; it's to acknowledge problems, and take action to correct the source.

    In brother Tom's reply above, he suggests that if questioned about un-Masonic behavior, "ol' Monty" in WV might likely respond in an un-Masonic manner, and therefore, it's best not to question him at all. What kind of "logic" is that?

    Is Tom really saying it's better to ignore bad actions, rather than opposing them? Actually, that IS what he's saying (whether he realizes it or not), and it's exactly that course of inaction which has led to the sort of situations we see today.

    Wrong is never righted by ignoring it, and nothing beneficial is ever accomplished by saying: "that isn't my job," or "that doesn't affect me."

    If Masonry is worth anything, all "brothers of our election" owe it to each other to fight for what's right, and eliminate that which is wrong.

    -- Diogenes

  24. "Glad that the sarcasm works for you. I find it, like the dunce who keeps posting... nothing, to be pretty useless."

    Mr. Dunn PLEASE for your sake, our sake for anyone who reads the BT or any other blog your regularly comment on. (The Smoldering Stub?) Do what ever is necessary but please get a sense of humor!

  25. Since when do Masons, who no matter how active are only involved part time (work and family is more important), worry this much about politics.
    The question is: Is what ole Charlie did wrong? If so, do something. Amnesty International (for example) has on occasion been successful by letter writing campaigns and throwing light on a situation been successful in reversing a particular situation. Unfortunately the people that are responsible are still there.
    So we can just sit and wait while a good Brother gets trampled. Next year there will be a new Grand Master, who will be entirely different from this one, who will just make everything better. Do you really believe that no one knew what Charlie was like before he was installed in the Grand East?
    I hope that RW Bro Lewis is a better candidate for the office than this current thug is. Yes, I said thug. That is how he is behaving. He is throwing his weight around, using secret edicts to beat down any opposition.

    Oh well, the beatings will continue until morale improves.

  26. SQ: Duuuude... I was being funny. You have no idea how endlessly amusingly droll I find the dunce (appropriately named, by the way) to be in his every off tangent, off target, and off... period, posting... LOL

    Now, funny, isn't it, that the best that can be mustered against my argument is not a REASONED one, but, typically, a violation of Godwin's Law?

    The problem in West Virginia is a temporary one, and will pass with Grand Master Montgomery. And WHEN, not if, it passes, reasonable heads will prevail and his actions undone. I would offer that the angst, energy, wailing and gnashing of teeth over the issue is doing more harm to Freemasonry than anything else M.W. Montgomery can/is doing.

    I have ALSO, in case you haven't read my blog on this very issue, called for brothers to write to THEIR grand lodges and ask them to take action, to write a letter.

    These actions are really more about feel-goodism than of any real substance, but if you feel good for doing it, please, by all means, do so.

    Freemasonry moves slowly, deliberately so, and Americans have been conditioned by five decades of television to expect resolution to all problems in an hour or less, including commercials. By the time any of us can get any action taken, regardless of the action, the grand master's term will be over!

    I agree that his actions are abominable, based on the facts at hand today. They are antithetical to everything that freemasonry teaches us. Happy?

    Now what? Its not all about just feeling better, its about substance. Its about, in this case, the brethren of West Virginia standing up and taking action, which is happening! If you really want to help, go join a WV lodge and then send letters, make calls, go to grand lodge, whatever.

    I am not asking that you do nothing, or that you not be outraged by the reported actions of the Grand Master. Heck, BE outraged, knock yourself out. Its kind of silly being angry with ME, as a proxy, I guess, because I won't burst into flames of righteous indignation and wail and gnash MY teeth.

    Read my blog. I agree that if the situation is as reported, it is terrible... yet, it is only ONE man, temporarily, for a SHORT time, acting outside the teachings of the craft.

    He will be gone shortly enough, and his actions along with him. There have been worse grand masters than M.W. Montgomery is reported to be, and MUCH better. No one rails about the great grand masters or the good they have done (for instance, M.W. Rex Hutcheson, GLoAZ 2005-2006).

    My point is you can steep your mind in "bad things", or you can seek good and embrace that good. Freemasonry is about you making yourself better. You should be asking yourself what you have done today to make freemasonry better, NOT gnashing your teeth over real or perceived wrongs you can do nothing about.

    I won't even address the stupidity of comparing the situation in West Virginia and my unwillingness to leap into righteous flames over it to the Nazi atrocities or the untenable actions of the Rhodesian and South African governments toward their black minority citizens.

    If you actually are willing to act like a mason, lets take a stab at rationally discussing what you would LIKE us to do... instead of trash talking and slagging someone that thinks differently than you do on this issue.

    How about it, "Diogenes", you interested in an intellectual discussion about courses of action, or are you satisfied with taking cheap shots that offer nothing?

    Your choice, brother.

  27. Well, worshipful brother shadrack and myself will be roadtripping to Fla. for about a week or so. I plan on visiting many Lodges along the way.
    We will definately stop into a few WVA Lodges to let them know we support them and that we do care.

    Let them know they are not isolated.

    Ronnie Lott broke his finger multiple times. It became a problem to his ability to perform as an all star, so he cut it off!

    I guess bro theron what the problem is amongst us is that NO ELECTED LEADER has stepped up and condemned Monty's actions.

    So, we, who wield less power than our elected grand officials, see our leaders with their hands tied, how can a lowly blue lodge mason do anything?

    If Grand Master's are apparently powerless, what does that make us?

    So, seeing men who CAN affect change, NOT act publicly, is disheartening, that is all.

  28. I'm with Bro. Theron on this one. He's absolutely 100% right in his opinion. Mainstream Freemasonry is designed to adapt and change slowly and cautiously. There is nothing of value brothers can do to affect change in other states. The best thing to do is ignore the problems and then brush them under the table discretely. In this way the situation can be easily controlled for an indefinite period.

    How wrong I have been about these things. I simply couldn't see the wood for the trees - so to speak.

    The best course of action is to wait and see - hoping that the future GM will be better and resolve the issues. Radicalism and rebellion are futile because the system is purposefully designed to defeat it. Working from within the system for positive change is the only practical way of operating.

    We must learn to recognize the importance of this line of logic to the future of the Craft in America. Only in this manner can meaningful changes occur.

  29. Ok, so its fun to make fun of brothers who point out the obvious, that there is nothing we can do, but, as Br. 2BC noted below, express our support... which, I believe, I have done, here and on my blog, and on the several forums I post on.


    Now, does anyone have a constructive suggestion as to what we CAN do, other than express our support and write letters to OUR grand lodges? Or is running away any time the going gets a little tough to start your own club outside freemasonry the best it gets?

  30. I ponder Theron's last comment as I sit across the street, locked out of my office, sitting in the Great Canadian establishment of Tim Horton's with my laptop, lucky enough to be in range of my WiFi so I can warm up my laptop.
    Most democratic organizations have an impeachment process or hold the power of not re-electing the individual. The individual or government typically wants to be reeleceted so they try to keep the popular favor of the populous long before this becomes an issue.
    It occurs to me that this is not a motivating factor for a Grand Master as they probably have no intention of being reelected and in many jurisdictions have an appointed successor waiting in the wings. The only real motivator you may weild perhaps, and it really depends on the ego of the person in power, is to push to have their PGM status revoked by their successor. I would like to hear from a more learned person as to wether is is a possibility... Anyone???
    OK I have to get back to my coffee now and watch across the street for someone with keys to arrive. Look forward to the replies.

  31. Theron Dunn writes:

    "Lets take a stab at rationally discussing what you would LIKE us to do... instead of trash talking and slagging someone that thinks differently than you do on this issue. How about it, 'Diogenes,' you interested in an intellectual discussion about courses of action?"

    As a matter of fact, I am.

    It seems to me that in order to logically formulate any "course of action," however, one must first identify the problem(s).

    So what exactly IS the most significant problem in "mainstream" American Masonry today?

    Personally, I think it's institutionalized corruption among MANY "mainstream" grand lodges, and I'll enumerate a few examples that have been reported on this blog during the last few months:

    (1) Numerous brothers in Georgia were "expunged" from the Masonic fraternity without charges, trials, or any opportunity whatsoever to defend themselves.

    (2) A Past Master in Arkansas suffered a heart attack while waiting to testify at his own Masonic "trial," and was expelled by a jury appointed by his accuser, who declared him guilty in absentia while he was undergoing emergency heart surgery.

    (3) A brother in Florida who maintained a blog and wrote articles of Masonic interest, was ordered by his Grand Master to "cease and desist" all Masonic publications, thereby silencing his voice and depriving him of his Constitutional right to freedom of speech.

    (4) A Worshipful Master of a blue Lodge in Arkansas was removed from office by order of his Grand Master, "tried" in a secret trial, and sentenced to a 50-year "definite suspension" from the Masonic fraternity by a "jury" appointed by his accuser.

    (5) A Past Grand Master in West Virginia was declared "expelled" from the Masonic fraternity by the presiding Grand Master of West Virginia, who opposes his progressive views, as well as the progressive policies he helped implement.

    (6) A Shrine club in Arizona was disbanded without explanation, and Masons were ordered to prevent other Masons from entering the facility under threat of trespassing charges.

    (7) A Shriner who blew the whistle on corruption in his own temple, was kicked out of Masonry and either sued, or threatened with a lawsuit by his former brothers.

    (8) A group of 20 or more Jesters in New York, are currently being investigated for violating the federal Mann act, and/or promoting child prostitution.

    Supposing that the brief list above suffices for illustrative purposes, I propose the next thing we should attempt to establish, is agreement that all of those things are wrong.

    Do you agree?

    If so, do you also agree that the wrongdoing is widespread, at least from Florida to New York, and from West Virginia to Arkansas and Arizona?

    If you don't agree that those things are wrong, or that the wrongdoing is widespread, I don't think there's any point in continuing, as we've clearly reached an impasse. There's absolutely no way I'd condone ANY of those actions, and I can plainly see that they've occurred in a geographical area that spans the majority of the continental US.

    Supposing you agree that those things are (1) wrong, and (2) widespread, then there are a few other issues we should probably resolve; namely (1) that all of those events involve the Masonic fraternity, and (2) that you and others here are members of that fraternity.

    If you acknowledge the fact that wrongs have recently been committed by and within the Masonic fraternity, and you're a member of that fraternity, do you recognize any obligation to your brethren or your own conscience to attempt to do anything?

    Personally, I believe that some degree of responsibility or duty must be acknowledged before any plan(s) of action can be legitimately discussed. If those problems occurred in the Knights of Columbus, for example, but we weren't members of that organization, perhaps we might have no more moral responsibility for becoming involved than any other member of the public.

    As Masons, however, albeit from different areas, do we have a legitimate right or even a duty to look after our own, and be concerned about what happens throughout our fraternity? Personally, I believe we do.

    If I see or hear the "Grand Hailing Sign of Distress," my obligation isn't confined to the members of my own blue lodge, or my own jurisdiction, it extends to ALL Master Masons, everywhere in the world. Likewise, my obligation to "aid and assist all poor or distressed Master Masons, their wives, widows, and orphans, wherever dispersed...," etc.

    If you agree, then we've successfully identified and acknowledged some problems, as well as a duty and/or responsibility to ourselves and others to help resolve them. From this point, the options are essentially limitless.

    If the people causing the problem(s) are allowed to maintain a wall of secrecy, they're going to continue doing what they're doing, but in order for reformation to begin, some "critical mass" of knowledge about the wrongdoing has to be attained. Then, if enough people become sufficiently inspired to discuss real action, it might be a good motivation for those who've been doing wrong, to start changing their ways.

    If they demonstrate sincere remorse, a willingness to make amends, and a resolve to do better in the future, what more could be asked? Of course, I don't think that's likely to happen, but I'd say that as brothers, we owe them the opportunity.

    If no one wants to admit wrongdoing and/or attempt to rectify it, then I'd say other measures would be appropriate. If upright grand lodges are truly the majority rather than the exception, they should have sufficient strength of numbers to unite and exert considerable pressure on rogue grand lodges, under threat of "de-recognition."

    Surely, certain standards must be met in "mainstream" Masonry, in order to maintain fraternal recognition among other grand jurisdictions. Hopefully, those standards include real moral integrity, rather than just historical relationships, and if so, then perhaps certain "mainstream" grand lodges might find they actually have more in common with other grand lodges (Prince Hall or otherwise), than with their traditional sister jurisdictions.

    For example, if the "regular" Grand Lodge of California is upright and moral, but the "regular" Grand Lodge of West Virginia isn't, perhaps the Grand Lodge of California (and all of "mainstream" Masonry) might be better served to withdraw fraternal recognition. They might find another grand lodge in West Virginia (such as the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, etc.) that more closely reflects their own Masonic ideals, or they might choose not to "recognize" any Masonic authority in that area. Either way would surely be preferable to the endorsement of corruption through continued fraternal recognition, despite the most obvious philosophical differences.

    The possibilities for persuasive action are only as limited as the imagination. Of course, I don't advocate illegal or amoral measures, but I DO advocate promoting right, while actively discouraging and disavowing wrongs. There are ways of accomplishing that -- both with carrots and sticks, but the initial key is the dissemination of information, and the resulting recognition that institutionalized wrongdoing IS a significant problem in "mainstream" American Masonry.

    Without corrective measures, the culture of corruption that's developed in many Masonic jurisdictions, will surely spread throughout the rest. I hope it hasn't happened already, but if it continues to be ignored, it will undoubtedly be coming to a lodge near you, much sooner than you probably think.

    -- Diogenes

  32. Diogenes;

    First, my brother, lets start with defining our terms. Corruption. NONE of the things you describe come under the definition of corruption. Sorry.

    Are many of them WRONG? Sure. Do you want to sit here and play who's right? The brother who was expelled in Georgia was expelled LEGALLY. Its in the Masonic Law of that state, so its not corruption.

    The brother who was tried in abstentia... yeah, I would agree IF all the circumstances you described were exactly correct that it was WRONG to do that, but hardly corruption.

    Was Tim told to shut up? Yes, he was. However, you confuse constitutional rights with membership rights and obligations. Tim has the absolute right to speak, still. He could start up all his blogs tomorrow, and there is nothing that the grand master could do to him... except bring him up on masonic charges.

    You see, you don't understand what Tim clearly understands... he has an obligation to obey the Grand Master's edicts and rules... IF he wants to stay a mason. If he doesn't, he can do what he wants. Its HIS choice.

    Yes, i agree that IF the situation in Arkansas is as you describe it, and there are no other extenuating circumstances, that trying him in secret was probably not the right thing to do... however, that does not rise to the level of corruption, after all, the Grand Master was acting within the limits of the Masonic Code of Arkansas in removing and trying him... or does that masonic code require all trials to be held in public? Do you even know? Do you even know what he was charged with? Do you know if he was guilty? I don't, and am thus loathe to pass judgment where I do not have all the facts.

    Do I think that expelling a past grand master is wrong, given the circumstances you describe? I guess I do, seeing as I have SAID SO several times on this comments section and on my own blog and on at least six masonic forums.

    I know the circumstances of the suspension of the Shrine Club in Arizona, and YES, I fully agree with the actions of M.W. Hutcheson, and frankly feel that given the unmasonic provocation he received from them that his actions were MEASURED and just. In the end, even they agreed, and the suspension was lifted.

    You wrote: A Shriner who blew the whistle on corruption in his own temple, was kicked out of Masonry and either sued, or threatened with a lawsuit by his former brothers. WELL, WHICH IS IT? You don't even seem to have a grasp of the basic facts, so how can you ask me to judge based on YOUR OWN LACK of facts???

    As for your last accusation, the fact that they are under investigation not convicted or even being tried yet pretty much says there are not enough facts at hand to proceed upon.

    So, my brother, it seems to me that you are proceeding upon hearsay, innuendo, and presumption in your accusations, and then proceeding to a false conclusion based on that very lack of facts.

    This is proof of the very unmasonic actions of a few that post here, and a definite lack of masonic charity, seeing as you seem to be willing to presume the worst based on your own declaration, a paucity of facts!

    Are there a few, scattered, small problems? Sure there are, there always will be in any group of men, and usually we move on correcting the issues.

    My lodge found a man was running an internet porn site, prefered charges, held a trial (NOT open to every brother either, by the way) found him guilty (it helped that he admitted it and told us it was none of our business) and expelled him from the craft. His trial was reviewed by the Jurisprudence Committee before the trial and after, and the GRAND COMMUNICATION, being presented the facts, voted to uphold the conviction and sentence.

    The system DOES work... or are you not at all interested in FACTS that disprove your foregone conclusions?

  33. Brothers,
    I believe that we may be missing the point entirely. It is not about the expulsion of M:.W:. Brother Haas or any other transgression. It is about Freemasonry.

    Regardless of our differences, and those differences seem to be legion (I promise that they are not as big as they seem), we are all still Masons. We don't have to visit each other's lodges. Very little Masonry happens there anyway. Masonry happens internally (for the individual Mason), between Brothers in the world, and between Masons and the profane world in which we live and work.

    What is our purpose? Do we really personify that purpose by bickering or name calling? I would say "no."

    I have never had the pleasure to meet Brother Theron Dunn, though I hope to one day. I cannot visit his lodge and his jurisdiction does not allow him to visit mine. So what. He and I could still break bread together and share in fellowship that is derived from similar personal goals.

    Masonry is important. Not for the administration that we all know and love (that is the only sarcasm in this post I promise), but for the indisoluable chain of sincere affection. If I may, we have in the person of Brother Theron Dunn and Brother Jeff Peace two opposed ideas. I also know that if either of them were to be in need each would rush to the aid of the other. That is Masonry in action. Yes, those two Brothers will fight like cats and dogs, but when the chips come down, they will fulfill their obligations to aid a Brother Mason in need. I know that I could call upon either of them if I were hurt or just needed an ear to onload to.

    My dear Brothers, we are Masons first. We are Masons together - regardless of ideas or jurisdictions or anything other that separates Brethren. Since my separation from the Grand Lodge of Michigan I have Brothers that won't speak to me. I have Brothers that refuse to respond to me on web forums. I have Brothers that used to speak well of me that now spew venom about me. Luckily I have several Brethren that still speak well of me, support me, care for me, and are willing to help me if I were to be in need. Amongst those I count both Brother Jeff Peace and Brother Theron Dunn. They have never given me reason to think otherwise. They have also always been more than ready to whisper advice (even if I did not want to hear it).

    We are all flawed but growing. We are all Masons that sometimes drift from that point within the circle. We all fall down. That is to be expected, we are only human. We are also Masons who should support each other no matter how much we disagree.

    To this end the venom must stop. There is nothing gained by fighting amongst ourselves. We have much bigger issues to deal with.

    I call on every Mason wheresoever they may be. To stand strong and act as a Mason. Care for your Brothers and do right as your conscience dictates.

    I have at times failed in this myself. I ask your assistance in standing and I will assist all of you.

    When dust settles we will all dine together in that Lodge made not with hands.


  34. Amen, So Mote it be, forever and ever without end, Br. Brandt.

    Jeff and I may disagree, but he will be the first to tell you that I have ALWAYS been there for him when he needed me, and he has been there for me, as a teacher and a friend and brother. Sure, we disagree of form, but we DO NOT disagree on the substance of Freemasonry.

    Freemasonry, its about the internal, its about ME changing ME... and sometimes, as my Worshipful Brother Giovanni tells me, we need to rub the rough surfaces of our ashlars together to grind off those high, rough spots...

    G-d bless you one and all.

  35. Thomas Paine

    This freethinker and author of several books, influenced more early Americans than any other writer. Although he held Deist beliefs, he wrote in his famous The Age of Reason:

    "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my church. "

    "Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifiying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity. "

  36. Liberty Tree
    In a chariot of light from the regions of day,
    The Goddess of Liberty came;
    Ten thousand celestials directed the way,
    And hither conducted the dame.
    A fair budding branch from the gardens above,
    Where millions with millions agree,
    She brought in her hand as a pledge of her love,
    And the plant she named Liberty Tree.
    The celestial exotic struck deep in the ground,
    Like a native it flourished and bore;
    The fame of its fruit drew the nations around,
    To seek out this peaceable shore.
    Unmindful of names or distinctions they came,
    For freemen like brothers agree;
    With one spirit endued, they one friendship pursued,
    And their temple was Liberty Tree.
    Beneath this fair tree, like the patriarchs of old,
    Their bread in contentment they ate
    Unvexed with the troubles of silver and gold,
    The cares of the grand and the great.
    With timber and tar they Old England supplied,
    And supported her power on the sea;
    Her battles they fought, without getting a groat,
    For the honor of Liberty Tree.
    But hear, O ye swains, 'tis a tale most profane,
    How all the tyrannical powers,
    Kings, Commons and Lords, are uniting amain,
    To cut down this guardian of ours;
    From the east to the west blow the trumpet to arms,
    Through the land let the sound of it flee,
    Let the far and the near, all unite with a cheer,
    In defence of our Liberty Tree.

    Thomas Paine


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