Saturday, May 31, 2008

10 more reasons to party

What do Freemasonic "amateur theater," gavel raps, circumambulations of the lodge, and maybe even fish frys have in common with monkey feasts, beer drinking, betting on when the ice will crack, food fights and looking for a naked man have in common?

Ritual! Tradition! Celebration! Solstices!

Travel + Leisure magazine's site gives us a look at what it calls the world's strangest festivals in a new article accompanied by a photo slideshow.

The article tells us:
The famed French sociologist Émile Durkheim wrote that social life is made of "high peaks" (ceremonies, festivals, and holidays) and "low peaks" (ordinary life and routine). "High peaks can't last — they’re exhausting," says Sarah Daynes, an assistant professor of sociology at the New School in New York City. "Individuals come together, celebrate, and social life is extreme."
In Japan, on the coldest day of the year men strip down to a loincloth and run around cities, looking for a naked man. Whoever finds him first earns 12 months of good luck, or so they believe.

At the Tomatina Festival in Buñol, Spain, each year they have the world's biggest food fight, and no one remembers why.

In Lopburi, Thailand, a feast and tea party is held for the indigenous macaque monkeys who have overrun the town.

In Cuzco, Peru, each June 24 (near the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere) the Incan sun ceremony is re-enacted, with a man representing the Sun God being carried about on a golden throne.

On December 23 (near the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, farmers in Oaxaca, Mexico carve their radishes into figures associated with Jesus.

In Iceland on March 1 of each year, the entire country does a pub crawl, drinking lots of beer, to celebrate the end of Beer Prohibition there in 1989. All other alcohol was only prohibited from 1915 to 1922.

Check out the slideshow for more freaky, funky festivals.

Pick a reason, name the season, and party hardy.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Freemasonry as 'Fight Club'

An excellent new Masonic-themed blog called 3 Ruffians, operated by the Illustrious Order of the Three Ruffians, attracted my attention today.

Its most recent article compares Freemasonry to Fight Club.

Here's an excerpt from the article. Hope you check out the entire article and the blog.
If you're a typical guy, then watching Fight Club gets you stirred up. As revolting as the senseless violence of it is, it makes you wonder what would, or could happen, if people really did do something to shake up their ordinary lives.

Maybe that's one more reason why men all across the country are still becoming Freemasons. It is a secret society. And it does promise real personal change to the individual. Why is that appealing? Sure we want change... each of us wants to better ourselves. That's a no-brainer.

What we also want as Freemasons... is to be a Part of something bigger than ourselves that can make some real changes in the world. We all read Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P Hall. And each of us has spent countless hours reading books and blogs and pouring over information about Masonry on YouTube and Google. We know that Freemasonry, at least from our Lodges, isn't really controlling the world. It's under fire out there and taking hits from religious groups and those who are either uneducated about the Craft, ignorant of its actualities... or just uninitiated. Still, as Masons ourselves, we want to stand for something, take part in something. We want to matter.

Freemasons today are looking for their Boston Tea Party. At least many of the new Brothers are. We're not Ruffians in the dark sense of the word. We're Ruffians in the sense that we know we have a lot to learn. We know we arent always patient enough. We do know the difference between right and wrong. We just want to DO something, stand FOR something and WITH others like ourselves.

Today, men across the country, as evinced by the May 18th article in the L.A. Times, are becoming Freemasons, becoming Brothers, because they Believe in something Higher and Greater than themselves. The new Brothers face the East and each look upon the same letter of God. This is their distinction. It lies within the simplicity of the only real prerequisite to join the Order... Belief in a Supreme Being. This is the belief in something greater.

Much like the protagonist in Fight Club, these men yearn to take action in their lives and in the lives around them. They want the Mysteries to be special... to make them special. They want the secrets to be answers to their personal questions. They want the men they find in their secret brotherhood to stand beside them in times of crisis and to accept them as they are. And so, they have faced the Three Ruffians and have been duly tried and prepared for new lives as Free and Accepted Masons.
Neither the blog nor the Three Ruffians organization actually exist, and thus, we can't talk about them. But even if they did exist, we still can't talk about them.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Teacher fired for 'wizardry'

There are religious nuts everywhere, but I think Florida may have the nuttiest.

Some paranoid little tattletale complained to the head of substitute teachers at Rushe Middle School in Land O' Lakes, Fla. after substitute teacher Jim Piculas performed a "magic trick" with a toothpick in front of his class earlier this month, Orlando's channel 6 reported.

Saying it was a "huge issue," the supervisor told Piculas he stood accused of "wizardry," and fired him. I suppose if we lived in even darker times, he'd have been burned at the stake.

Come to think of it, that's the original meaning of the word "fired."

Now how would students even know what wizardry was, if they hadn't been indoctrinated by those damnable Harry Potter books?

Burn the books! Burn the witches!

Thanks to Jennifer Emick at for digging up this nutty nugget.

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Witness ID's Jester sex-tourists as 'Masons'

In her recent article about the ongoing case involving underage sex-for-hire "fishing" trips by members of the Masonic-related Royal Order of Jesters, investigative reporter Sandy Frost included an excerpt from a deposition by a witness, Brazilian fishing guide Adilson Garcia da Silva.

In his 61-page deposition, Adilson described how certain American men he identified as being "Masons" returned year after year to Brazil for fishing expeditions that involved having sex with minor Brazilian girls. The females, some as young as 13, were hired, Adilson said, to provide "programs" that consisted of "oral sex, strip and dance contests."

In other Jesters news, The Buffalo News reported Saturday at least two Erie County, New York deputies have been caught up in the federal prostitution investigation which has already led former Niagara County police captain John Trowbridge to plead guilty to violation of the Mann Act. Also under investigation for "spreading the gospel of mirth and merriment" by spreading a prostitute's legs are former New York Supreme Court judge Ronald H. Tills and attorney and court clerk Michael Stebick.

The two unnamed deputies were implicated last week as being part of the Jesters group that transported prostitutes across state lines in violation of the Mann Act. Trowbridge was the owner of a recreational vehicle (RV) that was used to drive at least one prostitute to a Jesters function in another state.

The Royal Order of Jesters is a group made up of approximately 23,000 Shriners. The Shrine accepts into their membership only men who are Masons in good standing.

The Jesters try to take the "highest caliber Shriners we can get" who distinguish themselves in the community, Alex Rogers, business manager at the Jesters' Indianapolis headquarters, told reporters in March when this story first broke.

"We try to keep the cream of the crop," he said.

Another recent article by Sandy Frost ties the "whole thing" together, from her initial investigation into former Shriner Vernon Hill's allegations through the financial records and Shriner hospital records through the allegations of sexual impropriety by Jesters in Brazil and Buffalo.

Image: Royal Order of Jesters member and federal court witness Bro. Don Anderson showing off his peacock bass, taken sometime between Aug. 31 and Sept. 9, 2005, during a Brazilian fishing expedition. See the Wet-A-Line website for more photos.

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Cheney: 'How many dead Americans is Iraq worth?'

President George W. "Captain America" Bush is probably out riding a motorcycle today. Vice President Cheney is probably going hunting (with) his friends. And I plan to drink wine and fire up my new grill.

But at least 4081 American families will "celebrate" this Memorial Day with sadness. Their sons and daughters won't be joining them at family parties. They're dead, you see. Killed in Cheney's Quagmire.

Bring 'em home. Now.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hip L.A. Masons trashed in anti-Masonic video

By now, you've probably seen the Los Angeles Times article about the "hip" Freemasons from North Hollywood Lodge No. 542, Elysian Lodge No. 418, and Santa Monica-Palisades No. 307, all regular lodges under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of California.

Some of the brothers from North Hollywood Lodge No. 542 were featured in previous Burning Taper articles. See "The Mason's Nightmare" and "Award-winning 'Who's on First: The Movie' co-stars, co-directed and co-produced by sitting Worshipful Master."

Along with other Masonic bloggers, Bro. Chris at Freemasons for Dummies and Bro. Greg at Masonic Traveler picked up on this article the day it ran. The Chicago Tribune also ran the L.A. Times story.

An anonymous poster on one of my favorite blogs, author Christopher Loring Knowles' inspired-by-Jung The Secret Sun added his uninspiring take on the article by pointing readers to his cheesy, negative patchwork video [see below].

The video offers a great glimpse into the mind of an anti-Masonic conspiracy-monger with basic videography skills. You'll see what I mean when you watch the video. Apparently, the first rule of making an anti-Masonic video is to assume that the viewers share your fear of Freemasonry and that they already "understand" why they should be afraid of us. Attacking symbols without giving any thought to what the symbols might actually mean seems to be a favorite propaganda technique.

In this case, it's a fear of skulls and tattoos, neither of which are exclusive to Freemasons, along with a misunderstanding of the meaning of the Three Pillars.

In this video, after bashing the use of these symbols by Freemasonry, the creator goes on to try to define, or re-define, what "hip" and "trendy" actually mean. Like it or not, hip and trendy are defined primarily by what people in three cities say is hip and trendy. Those three places are Paris, New York, and the home of these "hip" new Freemasons, Los Angeles.

The opinion of an anonymous video-guy from Peoria on what is hip may be "valid," but it's hardly meaningful.

Neither is his video, actually, but I thought you might find it "interesting."

Note: Unless you're a fan of gangsta-hiphop liberally peppered with the word "niggah," you might want to turn down the volume before you press "play."

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Monday, May 19, 2008

What every Traveling Man needs

It's late spring. And that can only mean one thing. Er, two things. Okay, many things, but two things, too.


And graduation.

And if you're traveling, you need luggage.

And if you're graduating, you need luggage.

And if someone you know is graduating, you need a really cool gift.

So, obviously, you need to click on this link or on the advertisement in the sidebar for

My friend Grouchogandhi designed the ads and the website. Glen Colton owns the company.

Since I'm a Georgia Tech graduate, of course I chose luggage with the GT logo. There are many other college logos you can choose from, if you or your graduating nephew didn't go to the best school like I did.

This is no ordinary luggage. These are Swiss Army brand products. The quality is incredibly exceptional. Victorinox® has been making Swiss Army products since 1897.

My young son is the proud owner of a backpack with the GT Buzzy logo embroidered by computer onto it. He's the envy of his classmates — most of whom are University of Georgia fans. I mean, their team may win more football games, but their backpacks came from Wal-Mart.

And my Werks Traveler™ Tote [pictured] is perfect for one- or two-day getaways. No more lugging around an oversized, ripped, broken-zippered suitcase-bag half-empty. The tote is the perfect size... and tells the world I went to a college with a crappy football team but a great reputation for turning out eggheads like me.

Officially licensed college logos currently available from include:
  • Alabama State University
  • Arizona State University
  • Auburn University
  • Coastal Carolina University
  • Florida State University
  • Georgia Tech
  • Iowa State University
  • Kennesaw State University
  • Louisiana State University
  • Mississippi State University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Pfeiffer University
  • University of Alabama
  • University of Arkansas
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Florida
  • University of Kentucky
  • University of Mississippi
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of Tennessee
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Virginia Tech
  • Washington & Jefferson
Each of the deluxe travel bags, backpacks, duffel bags and cases in their line is made of ballistic nylon which is a very tough but flexible fabric designed to withstand the rigors of airline travel and especially airline baggage handlers. You could say that Victorinox® has deliberately over-engineered the product in anticipation of the world of mistreatment that awaits it.

Make Glen, Grouchogandhi, yourself and your graduating nephew happy. Buy new luggage.

— W.S.

This has obviously been an advertisement. If you are an author, publisher and/or seller of really cool merchandise, you can advertise or have your items reviewed on The Burning Taper, too. What's the catch? You gotta send me free stuff that I'll like as much as I do this luggage!

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Christian crazies urge Starbucks boycott

I can think of many reasons not to drink Starbucks coffee. But none of them would be because of their new logo.

The Star-Tribune reported today that Christian wingnut Mark Dice of "The Resistance Manifesto" has issued a press release calling for the boycott of Starbucks because their new logo — a throwback to the logo the company used in the 1970s — "...has a naked woman on it with her legs spread like a prostitute."

This isn't the first time The Taper has noticed The Resistance Manifesto. Back in January, 2006, we found a video by the group bemoaning the "fact" that Freemasons worship Satan. These conspiracy freaks are also vocal in their hatred for Hollywood celebrities, Mormons, and the Georgia Guidestones.

The new Starbucks logo [above] is a modified version of the company's first logo. The update has removed the nipples from the woman/siren/mermaid/goddess. Ouch!

I assume any woman, prostitute or not, can spread her legs, so "legs spread like a prostitute" probably means the Manifest guys have seen their share of hookers, and maybe are feeling a little remorseful over that, but even yoga practitioners can't do what the Manifestoids say the cup-model is doing. That's because those aren't legs.

What is it about nude bodies that drives so many religious people to the point of insanity?

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

'Walk right in -- I see you've travelled some'

Worshipful Brother Theron Dunn, a California Freemason and well-known Masonic blogger and forum participant as well as co-publisher of Lodgeroom International magazine, passed away on Tuesday, May 13, after a brief illness.

Along with thousands of Masons throughout the world, I mourn his passing, and extend my sympathies and condolences to Bro. Theron's family and friends.

Bro. Theron and I seldom saw eye to eye on Masonic matters, but we had a grudgingly mutual respect for each other. While publicly we were often seen "fighting," in private we did from time to time exchange cordial and brotherly communications.

I'd always hoped he would voluntarily submit an essay for the "We All Shine On: This is Who I Am" series here on The Taper.

Last summer, I assisted him with some technical matters involving the set-up of his blog, Beacon of Masonic Light. One of the things I suggested to him was that his photo should have him facing into the text of the blog, not away from it, as it was originally. He flipped it so that he would be looking into the text, forever etching into our minds the flower in his lapel thus being on the non-traditional right side of his jacket instead of the left.

In his honor, I'm re-flipping his photo [see above] back to its original form.

He was fond of the nickname he gave to The Burning Taper. He called it "The Smoldering Stub."

In his memory, I am temporarily re-naming this blog The Smoldering Stub.

"When your final summons comes,
to take that last, long trip
Adorned with Lambskin Apron white,
and gems of fellowship;
The Tiler at the Golden Gate,
with Square and Rule and Plumb
will size up your pin, and say, 'Walk in —
I see you've Travelled some.'"

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Monday, May 12, 2008

We've confused our priorities

This article originally appeared recently in Bro. Tim Bryce's column. It was written by Bro. Patrick O'Neill of Colorado. His message bears repeating and republishing.

Possibly the greatest danger to Freemasonry today is confusion — confusion of what it is, and what it is not. Without a clear-cut understanding of what Freemasonry is we find ourselves involved in extraneous matters. These diversions lure us away from Masonry's proper place.

After much study, Brother C. C. Hunt suggested that "Freemasonry is an organized society of men symbolically applying the principles of operative masonry and architecture to the science and art of character building." This is very simple and is the core of our art, and if we keep our eyes on the central objective, we may yet preserve Masonry.

"The concern of Masonry is the science and art of character building." Lodges frequently fall into the trap of engaging in many worthwhile endeavors, but which are not the direct concern of the Masonic Lodge. That is not to say that those endeavors are not worthy, or that they should never be the concern of Masons. But it does illustrate that often in trying to do too much we lose sight of our primary purpose; we head in all directions at once and get nowhere. Let us consider some of the things that Freemasonry is not — things that divert the Lodge from its central purpose of character building. It is not a charity, though it is charitable. It is not a service club; it is not a place to hone one's political or business skills. It is not a place to make business contacts or to look for better jobs. Freemasonry is especially not a self-glorification society. Neither, is it a mutual-admiration society. Many persons outside our membership consider it to be only this. In fact, I was told by a member that the reason he wanted to become a Mason was because when he was doing construction work on a Lodge he saw the master of the Lodge driving a Corvette; he was impressed by this, and he wanted to join Masonry to be like that man. This is certainly the wrong reason to seek out membership in Freemasonry. These men seek honors, not the opportunity for service, they flaunt their insignia, rank, and ostentatious trappings without the slightest inkling of their symbolic meaning, and they have no sincere dedication to those principles? If our own members are so confused, is it any wonder we're on the wrong path?

History proves that elevation of the human spirit is the product of devotion to principle, hard work, and sacrifice. No honor worth having can be earned by laziness, purchased with currency, or bargained for. The only true honor is earned by merit and is extended only through continued service to his fellow man. There is a vast difference between self-glorification and self-improvement. The one is ludicrous and a sham. The other is the road to life's fulfillment.

The member who takes office and honor for the sake of pride and personal glory and does not understand the deeper obligations implied, is truly the Emperor with no clothes. He is deluded in thinking the honor is deserved. He is an embarrassment and is actually the object of pity, not of respect and admiration. These men surround themselves with sycophants and "yes men," because they cannot stand the light of truth, they cannot look at themselves with an objective eye.

Men are drawn to Masonry by the quality of its members. When that quality is compromised in the Lodge, members of a different sort will attempt to maintain the Lodge by any manner of devices, not Masonic. They will attempt to become a "club" which deviates from the purpose of character building. This "club" will pat itself on the back at every corner, congratulating themselves for the most mediocre of accomplishments. They will build monuments to themselves and hang pictures and plaques on walls, congratulating themselves for mediocre years of service. They do not recognize the basic principle of Masonry. This is not Freemasonry, this is a sham.

This group will join the group of hundreds of "clubs" which had no definable purpose except self glorification. History has respected Masonry, but history will not be kind to the lazy, the self promoting; the insincere. This group or "club" will never attract the potential members and the leadership that the fraternity needs. Self-serving back scratching is too transparent to fool discerning men of principle. We have seen a great number of men come through our doors and not remain, "Why?" Is it because we asked too much of them, or is it because they found nothing but a shell of what was supposed be here behind our doors? I offer that it is the latter.

Now we can continue down this path to oblivion, or we can pull back and find our first purpose, that of character building. Sometimes Lodges start looking for a "purpose" so they adopt a cause or a charity, and while these pursuits are for the greater good they do not sustain or build the fraternity. Too often Lodges fall victim to the idea that rather than building the character of men we'll build a building or we'll fix up the one we currently occupy. They falsely believe that this will attract and keep members and by doing this everything will be all right. Nothing could be further from the truth. The purpose of Freemasonry is character building, not building or reconditioning buildings. Are great characters built in shiny new edifices with marble floors and chandeliers? Possibly. But they cannot be built without the dedication and hard work of a mentoring group. Marble floors and new buildings don't build character. I can name dozens of businessmen that while very successful in business should never be allowed to darken the door of our fraternity. Likewise, I can think of dozens of NFL and pro basketball players who have shiny marble floors and beautiful chandeliers whom I wouldn't lower myself to accept a petition from for membership in the fraternity. These men might even try to buy my respect by offering me great sums of money to rebuild the building I occupy. They might offer to build me a shinny new Lodge, but I would accept nothing from them because they are insincere in their motives.

The fraternity's major problem isn't charitable works or buildings, no the true problem lies in how we choose our leaders. I liken our current system, the progressive line, to musical chairs. The guy who is the only one remaining in the Lodge after the other new brothers are neglected and fail to return is the one they put in the progressive line, regardless of his qualifications and dedication to his job. It should not be this way. For years now we have promoted a series of men through our chairs who were not qualified to advance through them; that's not to say they aren't good people. They did not have the benefit of proper training and education. They cannot properly lead a Lodge of Masons because they don't know how. To the new members they appear to be confused and unsure about what they are doing. Men of character will not follow a fool even if he is tied to the oldest and most successful fraternity in the world, so they leave. We have allowed mediocrity to become the norm and it shows now in the membership.

Is it proper to promote people just because they were the only ones who continually showed up to Lodge or they wanted to do it "without putting in the work or having the leadership qualities so necessary for the propagation of our order?" This is completely backwards: There is no man, nor has there ever been one, who could thrive in a leadership position with no training and no guidance. Why wasn't character development and leadership development instituted as it should have been? The answer is simple: the men who had the responsibility of mentoring didn't do their jobs. No one is born a leader, leadership is taught, cultivated, and perfected. Character is likewise developed, it is cultivated, and it is certainly not found in each successive chair, after simply filling the former one with one's buttocks.

If we were to reevaluate our priorities and concentrate on our primary mission, namely character building, we can then expand our duties to take care of the widows and orphans as our obligation as Master Masons directs. Our obligation does not say pay for the building of a new lodge or the remodeling of a deficient one to the exclusion of character building or to the exclusion of those worthy distressed Master Masons, their widows and orphans. Until we address the fact that our foundation is buckling brick by brick, and strengthen those "bricks," Freemasonry will continue to suffer. Brothers, let's stop attacking symptoms and address the true problems of the fraternity, let us not fall into the trap of putting a fresh coat of paint on our building when the foundation is crumbling underneath us.

— Patrick O'Neill

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

A point of pale light

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Bro. Theron Dunn suffers renal failure, in grave condition

The Burning Taper joins with other Masons throughout the blogosphere and The Real World in sending our best wishes and hopes for a speedy recovery to our brother Theron Dunn.

He suffered kidney failure on Friday night, and is as of this writing reported to be in grave condition, with some slight improvement overnight. Details can be found on Bro. Chris Hodapp's blog Freemasons for Dummies, and I hope he and others will keep us up-to-date on Bro. Theron's condition.

Bro. Dunn is the publisher of both an online magazine and a blog dedicated to Freemasonry, and is a moderator on several Masonic forums. He is a past master of his California blue lodge.

We also wish Bro. Chris a speedy recovery from his recent surgery.

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

We all shine on: Bro. Fred Milliken, aka Squire Bentley

This is our 19th installment of "This Is Who I Am," our never-ending series of essays by and about readers of The Burning Taper.

My name is Frederic L. Milliken, a/k/a Squire Bentley. More about that pseudonym later. Yes I am a Freemason, but that is only one of my many interests even though it is the most compelling. I am also a history buff and a political junkie, and a dabbler in economics. I guess that follows having a BA in Government & History with a minor in Economics.

I was born in the town of Lexington, Massachusetts, the birthplace of the American Revolution. The battles of Lexington & Concord, the midnight ride of Paul Revere and the shot heard ‘round the world was something that influenced me from an early age. Growing up as a boy I became a member of Battle Green DeMolay which met at Simon W. Robinson Lodge, AF & AM beside the Lexington Green, eventually becoming Master Councilor. My first church was also bordering the Green as was the famous Buckman Tavern where my mother took a weekend job as a tourist guide explaining the Lexington battle. Years later I would return to Simon W. Robinson Lodge with the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team.

I also have a powerful interest in religion and all things spiritual. My religious journey looks like the stock market, up and down. I was raised a Unitarian (before the Universalists horned in), in college I joined the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. In just a few years I was a confirmed atheist and an Objectivist, a disciple of Ayn Rand. After twenty years as a non believer, I reversed myself again and joined a new church start up In the Presbyterian Church, PCUSA. I became a part time Presbyterian lay preacher. After ten years as a Presbyterian I converted to Catholicism where I am today. I am a frequent Lector at two churches.

Many say that you can tell a lot about a person by what he reads. I am an avid reader. In spirituality I love the Conversations With God series by Neale Donald Walsch. Dr. Walter Dyer is another favorite. 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper was an interesting recent read. In Economics, as a devotee of Hayek, Von Mises, Hazlitt and Milton Friedman, the latest read was Applied Economics by Thomas Sowell. A recent history read was Pearl Harbor by Newt Gingrich. My political reading has been recently The Connection by Stephen F. Hayes and I am just starting War and Decision by Douglas J. Feith. I also just completed Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver. I'm trying to learn how to write good fiction. My goal (and dream) is to write a salable murder mystery. Oh, for light reading I devour murder mysteries, most especially courtroom drama. I have a complete collection of Earle Stanley Gardner at the house. In Masonry my latest reads are The Knights Templar Revealed and Founding Fathers, Secret Societies.

Besides these interests I am a bicyclist doing ten miles every other day and I am a devotee of Contract Bridge when I can find a partner. I love music, my favorites being bluegrass and jazz. There is nobody better than Alison Krauss and Dianna Krall.

I decided early on in my Masonic career that I was going to do great things with large numbers; that I was going to rejoice, celebrate and enjoy being a Mason. I was raised in Plymouth Lodge in historic Plymouth, MA where the Pilgrims landed in 1989, Master in 1994. Soon after I affiliated with Paul Revere Lodge in Brockton, MA, Master in 1999 & 2000. I immediately joined the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team which performed the second and third sections of the Third Degree in colonial dress and afterwards the Team's Historian added a patriotic message about the flag and the sacrifice of colonial Masons. The Historian had each of us rise and introduce the Revolutionary War Mason we represent, as we each take a name of a Colonial Mason who fought for this country. When I joined all the famous names were taken so researching on my own I took the name of William Munroe, a Sergeant in the Lexington Minutemen. Brother Munroe was station on the Lexington Green on the night of April 18, 1775 on an all night watch for any British. He welcomed Paul Revere into town early the next morning with the news, "The British are coming." Later he was to petition Grand Lodge for a charter for Lexington's first Lodge and he its first Master. In 1791 he was received in the East of Grand Lodge with his petition by Most Worshipful Paul Revere. For the Colonial Degree Team I performed the charge and my favorite was one we call in New England, though it has many other names, "The Canadian Charge."

I took the Paul Degree Team to Lexington, MA where we participated in a Communication of three Lodges at the same time. After the performance we retired for a Tri Table Lodge with over 100 Masons present. We celebrated the Craft with great gusto that night. We made another trip to Connecticut with a similar crowd in attendance. But the best trip was our performance in Bloomington, Indiana in 2001 where we were billeted at the state DeMolay chateau and driven around in a luxury mini bus by a Past Grand Master. We celebrated afterwards there also at an Irish Pub. I have been on many other trips with the Colonial Degree Team and found each and every one to be a night of inspiration.

Celebration became the defining word of my two years in the East at Paul Revere Lodge. We participated in a District outdoor degree and I held a Masonic Roast a la Dean Martin style for a beloved Past Master who was the Don Rickles of our District. I also held special awards banquets for three other Past Masters, one being for our Colonial Degree founder and Historian in an authentic Colonial Tavern, all of us participating with our wives in colonial costume.

But the greatest joy and inspiration came when I was asked to join the "Fellowship Players," a Masonic drama club. At that time we were performing the Carl Claudy play A Rose Upon The Altar and I took the part of Squire Bentley — hence the pseudonym. We had been given dispensation from the Grand Master to perform the play before the general public after removing all Masonic modes of recognition from the performance. I performed in many moving renditions of this emotional and inspiring play. Two I remember quite well. One was for a Council of The Knights of Columbus and their wives and the other was before visiting Masons from England and their wives.

After stepping out of the East for the second time I thought my celebrating days were over, but I went on to becoming a moderator on the Forum and then a featured regular writer for Stephen Dafoe's magazines The Fourth Part of a Circle and Masonic Magazine. That led to an invitation from the Yellowhead Masonic District of Alberta, Canada for a speaking tour. They flew me and my wife up for an all expenses paid week in Alberta where I addressed Lodges with two papers I had written for the occasion, World Peace Through Brotherhood and Native American Rituals and the Influence of Freemasonry (can be read on One presentation was before a large group of Brothers at a restaurant in Edmonton where we also took part in a special Festive Board. It was a great week and we got to tour the area and its beautiful scenery. I had never been to the Rocky Mountains before.

I was just getting comfortable in my Pastmastership when all of a sudden we upped and moved to Texas. I spent a year in the Grand Lodge of Texas before transferring to Prince Hall Texas. They say if you have nothing good to say shut up, so that is what I will do on that score. But I was surprised that after a year in Prince Hall the Grand Master contacted me and asked me to address a Grand Lodge Session. I did so but the most rewarding part for me personally of that Grand Session was the charge I gave to a mass Grand Lodge raising of 81 Fellowcrafts to the sublime degree of Master Mason. I gave the Canadian charge with over 400 delegates also present and not one had ever heard that charge done before. Wow, did I have people's attention!

And so I go on celebrating. I write two blogs. The political blog is called The Northeast Corner and the Masonic blog is The Beehive. My latest project has come about from reading Deepak Chopra and Larry Dossey's book Space, Time and Medicine. I seek to reconcile science and religion by showing how Quantum Physics and religion come together. And along with that I am researching Sacred Geometry and showing how that intersects with Freemasonry. Finally I hope to show how all four are melded together. A most interesting book I have just started in this quest is The Self-Aware Universe by Amit Goswami. It looks like this will be a project of many years.

I have been a big critic of Mainstream Masonry, feeling that American Mainstream Masonry needs to come together and operate more on common ground. I am not talking about a National Grand Lodge or adding another layer of bureaucracy. But I do think the basic cornerstones of our fraternity — who we are and what we stand for — should be very similar, while at the same time allowing much diversification of ritual and practice. We need not express our Masonry in the same manner but the building blocks and principles should be similar. I also lament the dumbing down of Masonry and its being turned into a Service Club.

I believe that I have a unique point of view in life, a perspective gained from living in many different communities or worlds so as to speak and getting to know and understand how these different styles and beliefs think and feel. I am a blue collar worker in the Dallas Transit System but I am equally comfortable in the more intellectual world. I have been a Protestant, an atheist and a Catholic. I have practiced Northern formal Masonry, Southern redneck Masonry and Prince Hall Masonry.

I want very much to say that life is short and that great, joyous moments are food for the soul. But you have to seek them out. So do great things with your Masonry and be all you can be.

— Bro. Fred Milliken

To submit your own "This is Who I Am" essay, read this.

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