Saturday, November 18, 2006


To my Masonic brothers, I wanted to fill you in on the lack of blog activity over the past couple of weeks. I have a few on going medical problems involving vision and I wanted to let you know that I have not forgotten about the blog, but I am finding it difficult doing the work I have to do with my vision being in the state that it is in.

I would like to take this time to urge any brothers who have anything to contribute to this blog to please do so. If anybody wishes to contact me they can email me at

As more information is received regarding my medical condition, I will gladly share what I can and I will make every attempt to keep this blog going. Until then I wish you all well and I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers.

W.: Pat Bellotti

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Most men do not understand the process of getting membership in a Masonic Lodge. No one is ever invited to become a mason or to join a Masonic Lodge. Though all morally good men would be welcome in any Masonic Lodge, however, the man himself must ask a mason about becoming a member. Once he has done so, he will be given an application (petition) to complete and he has taken the first step. It is then submitted to the local lodge for processing.

The lodge will select a committee to investigate the candidate and report its findings. He must receive unanimous approval of the members.
Having passed the ballot box, the candidate then receives the first of the three degrees which make up the symbolic Lodge. The first degree is the Degree of Entered Apprentice. The second is the Degree of Fellow Craft, the third is the Degree of Master Mason. After he has completed all degrees he is then an accepted member of a great and noble fraternity.


Sunday, October 29, 2006


(From The Builder, Anamosa, Iowa, March, 1915)

Is it Masonry
To dare to take God's name in vain,
Or be careful of our speech;
From evil thoughts and words refrain,
And practice what we preach?
Is it Masonry
To boast of your fine jewels,
Or purify your heart;
To be a man and Mason
And act a Mason's part?
Is it Masonry
To fail to help your brothers,
Or your obligations fill?
To leave it for the others,
Or mean and say "I will"?


Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Bro. and Rev. Schieck is a member of Penn-Morris Lodge #778, Morrisville, PA and is a Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.

Forty-five years ago, which was my eighth year as a young minister in the Methodist Church, and in my fourth year as pastor of the Methodist Church in Frackville, PA, I knelt before the altar of Freemasonry. It was in Frackville Lodge No. 737, I was asked, In whom do you put your trust? Then, in repeating after the Worshipful Master, I took the oath and obligation of an Entered Apprentice Mason. The experiences that November evening, 45 years ago, have been indelibly etched in my mind. Many men were present in Frackville Lodge that evening, and I was amazed to have seen nearly every man who was a leader in the congregation where I was the pastor. Over the years this has been my continuing experience. In 25 years in parish ministry, and nearly 20 years in church administration, most of the leaders I worked with were Masonic men.

Membership in Masonry has always been a universally recognized badge of honor. Its stress has always been on character. The fun-damental Masonic teachings are love of God, loyalty to country, a high standard of personal morality, and a belief in the universal brotherhood of man. In the life of a Mason, these fundamental teachings reach out through participation and support in church and community life. Masonic men find an inner peace and contentment when they are contributing to the well-being, growth and support of the church of their choice.
I asked myself again and again, what attracted these men to Masonry? What was its appeal? Why were so many of them ardent and active members throughout their lifetimes? Also, in my parish and church administration responsibilities, I was privileged to work with Masons of varied cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds. I soon realized that the questions just posed also applied to me -as I am sure they must have been of concern to each of us during our early and most impressive Masonic years.

Certainly it was not due to solicitation. No man is ever asked to join. However, today, the literature and public relations of the outstanding Friend To Friend program, used in Pennsylvania, is encouraging a positive response for Masonry from men in many areas of life.
I believe the answer is found in Freemasonry’s lofty idealism. Its stress has always been on character. Membership in Masonry is recognized as a standard of honor, of Brotherhood, of uprightness and decency. From the Revolutionary period through the founding of this nation, and through today, fourteen Presidents of the United States of America were Masons. Innumerable Senators and Representatives, Justices of the Supreme Court, National and International military leaders, Governors and elected officials in the many states, leaders in education, industry, medicine, science, and space technology have also been members. Also, many of the persons who led their native lands into democratic forms of government in Europe, South and Central America were Freemasons.

We as today’s Masons have been climbing on the shoulders of an endless line of splendor, of men across the centuries who believed in and acknowledged the basic teachings of Freemasonry. Today, I am convinced the teachings of Masonry have not changed. While all dimensions of life are adjusting to a new age, to a changing world, to computer technology, the basic concepts of the Fatherhood of God, of Brotherhood, of honor, of uprightness and decency will never change. We have a rich heritage in Freemasonry. It is ours to grasp and follow during our lifetimes, and is incumbent upon us to pass it on to future generations.
Let us never forget, or lose sight of the truth, that Masonry begins at the Altar in the Lodge Room. Its foundation is a belief in the existence of a Supreme Being. This is the first and fundamental principle in the life of every Mason. Hear again the question, In whom do you put your trust?

King Solomon is credited by most Biblical scholars for the words in Proverbs 3:5- 6, words written a thousand years before Christ, or three thousand years ago, Trust in God with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. In all aspects of life God is to be taken into account. The thought of God is not to be limited to special seasons or sacred places. God is to be acknowledged in the home, in business, at work, and at play. In other words, God is to be thought of sufficiently to influence conduct and life. To acknowledge God requires true humility. He has made us and not we ourselves are the words from Psalm 100:3. Upon God we are dependent for life and breath and everything. Acknowledging God will help a man not to think of himself more highly than he ought to.

Yet, Masonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for Religion. Masonry is not interested, nor is it concerned in how a man may develop his religious faith. However, it stands for, teaches and practices, tolerance toward all faiths that rest upon this first and fundamental principle, belief in the existence of a Supreme Being! Men of various religious faiths come into Masonry, here in our great nation, as well as in nations in the uttermost parts of the world. They retain the religion of their choice and are strengthened in the practice of their particular beliefs by the truths and teachings of Masonry. God is known by many names, and worshipped in many ways. There is no religious bar to anyone who would become a Mason, provided he is not an atheist. So, a Hindu, a Parsee, a Buddhist, a Moslem, a Hebrew, a Christian can all agree on the inscription on our coins, In God We Trust.

Everything in Masonry has reference to God, implies God, speaks of God, and points and leads to God. Every degree, symbol, obligation, lecture, charge, finds its meaning and derives its majesty from God, the Great Architect and Master Builder of the Universe.

While Masonry is religious, it is not, even in the remotest sense, a religion. Masonry has no creed, no confession of faith, no doctrinal statement, no theology. Masonry does not assert and does not teach that one religion is as good as another. It does not say that all reli-gions are equal simply because men of all religions are Masons. It is precisely because we are not a religion, we can come together as men of faith. Masonry asks only if a man believes in God. If he were asked if he believed in Christ, or Buddha, or Allah, that would be a theological test involving a particular interpretation of God. Belief in God is faith. Belief about God is theology.
From its very beginning, Masonry has been consistent that religion and politics—are not suitable subjects for consideration within the Lodge Room. Masonry believes in principles rather than political programs. Principles unite men, political programs divide them. So we are taught to leave our opinions on religion—and politics outside the door of the Lodge Room.
While Masonry is not a religion, it is not anti-religious. We are a completely tolerant body. It is a Brotherhood whose trust is in God. Its stress has always been on character.

We are charged to maintain peace and harmony, and to uphold the chief Masonic virtue, charity or brotherly love. Membership in Masonry is recognized as a standard of honor, of Brotherhood, of uprightness and decency. We are sure that he who is true to the principles he learns in Freemasonry will be a better church member, a better businessman, because of it.
As Grand Chaplain, Brother Charles H. Lacquement of Pennsylvania points out, “Freemasonry gets its amazing vitality because its foundation is laid on the great truths from which come the great moral lessons it inculcates. Behind the two great truths, the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, is the chief Masonic virtue, Charity or Brotherly Love. Masons are taught to practice this virtue at all times and to assimilate it into their very lives. It is this virtue that leads Masons to do their duties, to stretch forth a helping hand to a fallen brother, to hold a brother’s reputation equally with his own, to whisper good counsel in his ear, and in the most friendly manner, endeavor to bring about the best person this brother can be. In so doing the Mason is strengthening his own inner self and bring-ing about the best in himself. Masonry makes in men, strength of character, of thought, and of emotional stability.”

And so, following that most impressive and unforgettable night 45 years ago, when I first knelt before the Altar of Freemasonry, and was asked the question, In whom do you put your trust?,

I have traveled, as you have, across many peaceful and many troubled waters, and again and again my trust in God strengthened me. No person, more especially a Mason, can live for himself alone. We are guided by the great teachings of Masonry, the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man, and the chief Masonic virtue, Charity or Brotherly Love.


Monday, October 23, 2006


(From The Builder, Anamosa, Iowa, October, 1916)

Foot to foot that we may go,
Where our help we can bestow:
Pointing out the better way,
Lest our brothers go astray.
Thus our steps should always lead
To the souls that are in need.

Knee to knee, that we may share
Every brother's needs in prayer:
Giving all his wants a place,
When we seek the throne of grace.
In our thoughts from day to day
For each other we should pray.

Breast to breast, to there conceal,
What our lips must not reveal;
When a brother does confide,
We must by his will abide.
Mason's secrets to us known,
We must cherish as our own.

Hand to back, our love to show
To the brother, bending low:
Underneath a load of care,
Which we may and ought to share.
That the weak may always stand,
Let us lend a helping hand.

Cheek to cheek, or mouth to ear,
That our lips may whisper cheer,
To our brother in distress:
Whom our words can aid and bless.
Warn him if he fails to see,
Dangers that are known to thee.

Foot to foot, and knee to knee,
Breast to breast, as brothers we:
Hand to back and mouth to ear,
Then that mystic word we hear,

Which we otherwise conceal,
But on these five points reveal.


Sunday, October 22, 2006



There's a fine old Mason in the land, he's genial, wise and true,

His list of brothers comprehends, dear brothers, me and you;

So warm his heart the snow blast fails to chill his generous blood,

And his hand is like a giant's when outstretched to man or GOD;

Reproach nor blame, nor any shame, has checked his course or dimmed his fame

All honor to his name!

This fine old Mason is but one of a large family:

In every lodge you'll find his kin, you'll find them two or three;

You'll know them when you see them, for they have their father's face,

A generous knack of speaking truth and doing good always;

Reproach nor blame, nor any shame, has checked their course or dimmed their fame -

Freemason is their name!

Ah, many an orphan smiles upon the kindred as they pass;

And many a widow's prayers confess the sympathizing grace;

The FATHER of this Brotherhood himself is joyed to see

Their works -they're numbered all in Heaven, those deeds of charity!

Reproach nor blame, nor any shame, there check their course or dim their fame -

All honor to their name!


Saturday, October 21, 2006



You have all seen pictures of the famous “leaning Tower of Pisa.” You know it leans precariously many degrees from the perpendicular. An American tourist, seeing the Tower for the first time, was not impressed. He grumbled, “that looks like the work of the same contractor who built my garage!”
Masons are builders! In fact, a famous Mason named Joseph Fort Newton wrote a book about our Craft called The Builders.

All Freemasons know that we trace our traditional origins to the ancient craftsmen who par-ticipated in the building of King Solomon’s Temple. Most also realize that the forerunners of modern Masonic Lodges were the medieval lodges of devout craftsmen. Few, however, may be aware that the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol was laid by Masons in 1795. Not brick masons. Free Masons! The Grand Lodge of Maryland reportedly sponsored the ceremony. And, a painting by Stanley Massey Arthurs shows the Father of our Country, George Washington, at the ceremony dressed in Masonic regalia.

Today we like to say we are no longcr “operative masons.” We are “speculative Masons”—which means we do not build physical buildings or other structures. our building task is symbolic. We build character. We build good men. We build just and honorable relationships. We build brotherhood .


1. Let us put it this way - good Masons do not build walls or fences. Our work is not to separate or divide people. Our fraternity ought never to isolate or alienate human beings from each other.

An interesting fact is that the original Americans never built fences or walls. Private ownership of land and property boundary-lines were strange notions to Native Americans. The Europeans brought that concept to these shores! The Indians never walled out other In-dian nations or European settlers from their land. They were welcoming and open. They believed in sharing.

Masons do not wall out men because of creed or physical characteristics. We have never excluded people on the basis of strict doctrinal standards. Ours is an inclusive brotherhood which welcomes Jews, Christians, Moslems, and persons of other religions. We only ask for a basic belief in God and a dedication to moral living. We welcome all men who intend to build their lives and their relationships according to the compass of virtue, the plumb line of morality, and the square of ethics.

We disagree strenuously with any church leader who says a Christian cannot be a Mason without compromising his beliefs or his allegiance to Christ - and, therefore, that Masonry should have a Christological test for membership. That was the misconception of the minister who resigned from Masonry and wrote denunciatory letters to the editor about our fraternity. That was the mistake of another minister who wrote a sermon 35 years ago at-tacking Masonry. Titled “Freemasonry and Christianity” and now being circulated, this sermon said in part:

If Masonry asks its initiates to acknowledge and confess Jesus Christ as Lord and the true God, then Masonry’s God is the true God. But if Masonry does not require its members to confess and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and the true God, then the God of Masonry is not the true God! That reminds us of the smug, self-righteous fellow who spoke condescendingly to someone who belonged to a different denomination. He sniffed: “that’s alright. We’re both just trying to serve the Lord - you in your way and I in His! “

That spirit has no place in Masonry! Nor does the attempt to impose some kind of doctrinal “litmus-test” on members and potential members. That is building walls between people. Masons do not build walls and fences. We agree with Robert Frost when he writes, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” The poet takes exception to the man who says “good fences make good neighbors.” So do we! Like Frost, we ask:

“Why do they make good neighbors! Isn’t it where there are cows? But here there are no cows. Before I built a wall I’d ask to know what I was walling in or walling out, and to whom I was like to give offence.”

II. Masons do not build walls. We build bridges. Bridges connect. Walls divide. Bridges enhance communication. Walls obstruct communication. Bridges promote friendship. Walls cause isolation. Webster defines a bridge as:

“any structure—raised to afford convenient passage over river, railroad, ravine or any other obstacle. “

Masons build bridges of understanding. We connect people by brotherhood. We construct passageways of friendship between persons who may differ in Church or language or race. We build tolerance as a conveyance that brings human beings together. Building bridges of friendship is at the heart of Masonry. For ex-ample, an item appeared March 24, 1985 in the New York Times. Here is what it said:

“Religious pluralism has long been a hall-mark of the Masons, as is seen by the annual family dedication breakfast this morning of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York. About 2,000 members of the fraternal order and their families will gather at 8 a.m. at three sites - St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Roman Catholic) at Fifth Avenue and 50th Street;

St. Bartholomew’s Church (Episcopal), at Park Avenue and 50th Street, and the east 55th Street Conservative Synagogue (Jewish), between First and Second Avenues. After the services, the Masons will assemble and parade together to the Sheraton Centre for breakfast.”

That is what we mean by Masonry building bridges! Someone named E. Larsen has sum-med it up in a little piece which is appropriately titled “Building Bridges.”

People, like islands, need bridges - a way to cross over, speak, reach, see, over all that silent water. It is the only way. Because people aren’t people, not real people, with-out that bridge; and the only action, the only REAL action, takes place on the bridge between people. So if I wait, you wait, everyone waits; when I don’t start, you don’t start. Nobody arrives. No builders, no bridges. The meaning of the world doesn’t change; it always stays the same - same hopes, same challenges, same tragedies, same fears and victories. What does change is my involvement with it - my awareness, my understanding, my growth. And growth is only a deepening of what passes between you and me - what passes on the bridge.


What could be better than to be a builder of bridges between persons and groups? What could be a better way to be remembered when we are gone? Would we not like people to say of us

“He was a builder of bridges”?! Can you think of a more noble cause? Can you imagine anything truer to the purposes of Freemasonry? In his book, “The Builders,” Joseph Fort Newton suggests a challenge with which I would like to leave you. He tells us the mission of Masonry is “to form mankind into a great redemptive brotherhood” (pg. 267). He capsulizes the spirit of Masonry by daring us “to be friends with all men, however they may differ from us in creed, or conditions; to fill every human relationship with the spirit of friend-ship.” And, finally, with the words of an old hymn by John Oxenham:

“Join hands, then,
Brothers of the faith,
What e’er your race may be;
Who serves my Father as a son
Is surely kin to me.”


Thursday, October 19, 2006


1. Masonry is a place where you can confidently trust every person, entrust your family with them.

2. Masonry is a place where, within moral and civil guidelines; free thought, free speaking and the spiritual growth of man can grow into its fullest potential.

3. Masonry is a place, which provides the opportunity to meet, know, and call brother, outstanding individuals from all walks of life that, I would not otherwise have met.

4. Masonry is a place to be a part of an organization that has for its principle tenets- Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.

5. Masonry is a place that provides self-development opportunities, leadership training and experience, and to improve public speaking skills.

6. Masonry is a place you can go to give support as well as seek it.

7. Masonry is a place where moral virtues are taught and through these teachings a regular reinforcement of the moral virtues is experienced.

8. Masonry is a place to spend time with a group of brothers, who by acting as good men make me want to become a better man. Not better than others, but better than I would have otherwise been.

9. Masonry is a place to become better prepared to serve church and community.

10. Masonry is a place to meet with established members of the community and to become a part of the community.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006


In America we are proud of the fact that the Church is separate from the State, and justly so! Our freedom of faith is our most precious heritage, a thing of priceless worth. Too often we take it for granted, forgetting what it cost and to whom we are indebted for it. The right of each man to worship God in the way his heart loves best is so in keeping with the idea and spirit of Masonry, so much a part of its genius, that we need to celebrate it anew in the 150th year of our National Life. If for no other reason, because both directly and indirectly, our Craft had much to do with it becoming a part of our Constitution.

Our fathers founded our Republic upon a new basis, reversing the whole history of mankind. Before that time a country without its National Church with its Official Creed, was quite unknown. But America broke new ground, made a new adventure which must be recognized, by far, the most important since the Reformation, and even more far-reaching. Such a thing was not done without difficulty.

Even in Colonial Times, Church and State were one. In New England the ideal was theocracy, a Church which included the State. In the South, if the State included the Church, they were none the less united. Religious liberty was almost unknown, except by those who defied the law and endured the persecution to enjoy it.

Few realize that prior to the Revolution it was against the law not to go to Church. It was a crime not to Baptize a child in the established Church. It was a crime to bring a Quaker into the colony, and there was a law on the statute books - though, happily not enforce - that permitted the burning of heretics. Witches had been burned in New England; Quakers had been hung. Everybody was required to pay tithes to maintain the Church, and that regardless of their religious affiliations. Those who failed to do so were thrown into prison.
Smarting under these infringements on religious liberty, Jefferson led, and Madison followed, in the fierce struggle to separate Church and State. To Jefferson, more than to any other man, we owe our liberty of faith today. The famous law which first forbade any religious tests for public office was written by Jefferson, and its principles were embodied in the first amendment to the National Constitution. The heart of that stature, couched in noble language, is as follows:

“We, the General Assembly of Virginia, do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall he be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, or shall he otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or beliefs; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by arguments, to maintain their opinions in matters of religion; and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or effect their civic capacities.”

What seems a natural and inalienable right of man to us today, was a daring demand in those days. It is a curious fact that while Jefferson did not differ widely in his religious views from Franklin, Adams and even Washington; he was singled out for the most savage attacks for his part in writing the above law, and pressing for its passage in Virginia - and later, in the Nation.

Throughout his life he was a target of bitter abuse, nor did it cease after his death. Even the casual reader of the newspapers and pamphlets of that day knows how Jefferson was lampooned for his fight for liberty of faith. He was called a “Skeptic,” an “Infidel,” an “Atheist” - names which had terrifying meanings in those days - all because he demanded that each man have the right to hold such religious faith as seemed to him right and true and good. So much our liberty of faith cost; against such odds the spirit of tolerance had to make its way.

The writings of Jefferson abound in allusions to his religious views, which he made no effort to conceal. They also show his familiarity with the Bible, in which he surpassed any leading man of his time, not excepting Franklin who was a student of it. The ethics of Jesus fascinated him. During his first term in the White house he found time to make a syllabus of the teachings of Jesus compared with the moral codes of other religions, in which he made a strong case for the superiority of the ethics of Jesus. In 1816 he wrote to his friend Thompson of what he had been doing:

“I have mad a wee little book, which I call the Philosophy of Jesus. It is paradigm of his doctrines, made by cutting the texts out of the book and arranging them on the pages of a blank book, in a certain order of time and subject. A more beautiful; and precious morsel of ethics I have never seen. It is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.”

Yet this was the man denounced as an “Atheist,” and held up to scorn as enemy of God and man, because he held that others had a right to disagree with him and yet enjoy the honors of citizenship. No wonder he wrote his confession of faith in the word: “I have sworn upon the Altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” Ignorance and intolerance were the two enemies which he fought all his days, without truce.

From Paris he wrote to George Wythe in 1786: “Preach, my dear sir, a crusade against ignorance, establish and improve the law for educating the people.” To that end he himself had founded the University of Virginia, in which there were no religious tests for professors or pupils. Students of theology were invited to attend and enjoy the lectures and the library. As he said:

“By bringing the sects together and mixing them with the mass of other students we shall soften their aspirates. liberalize and neutralize their prejudices and make the general religion a religion of peace, reason and sanity.”

In his own life Jefferson was brought up in a Church, and was a fairly regular attendant on its services. As an Architect he planned at least one church, and gave freely to the erection of others and to the support of public worship. A lover of the Bible, he gave freely to Bible Societies. No one ever heard him use an oath, and his magnanimity was such that he placed a marble bust of his political antagonist. Hamilton, in the hall of Monticello. Such was the man who, dying murmured with his last breath, as he sank into sleep the old, beautiful Bible Prayer: “Now Lettest Thy Servant Depart In Peace.”

While it has not been shown that Jefferson was a Mason, as was at one time thought, all Masons will honor in the Lodge, and in their hearts, the man to whom, more than to any other of the men who laid the foundation of our Republic, we are indebted for the religious freedom - that is, for the glory of a free Church in a free country. For it was as much an emancipation
for the Church as for the State, and it has been an unmixed blessing to both.

To have written the Declaration of Political Independence was a great honor, but not a few will think it an even greater honor to have led in the achievement of religious independence. It closed a long and bloody chapter of history; it marked a new era, second only to that of the advent of Christ among men.

As has been said, Masonry had much to do with it, directly and indirectly. Directly in that the leaders with whom Jefferson worked and without whom he would have failed were, most of them, Masons. And indirectly by virtue of the fact that Masonry does its greatest work, not by laws and edicts, but by its teachings and influence. If any one will read the Virginia Statue on religious liberty, and the first amendment of the Constitution, along side the article on God and Religion in the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of England in 1732, he will discover that the spirit and purpose of all three documents are the same. The Masonic Constitution, written more than fifty years earlier, was one of the ancestors of the other statements.

Thus by our history, no less than by our Constitution and genius, Masons are pledged to keep Church and State separated, and to watch vigilantly every insidious effort to unite the two. Such efforts are always afoot, disguised in all sorts of ways, but we ought to be able to detect the wolf even when it wears the white rode of a lamb. It asks for clear thinking and tireless vigil, but Masons will not fall asleep and let the work of our fathers be undone.

Just now the whole set of the old world is against the spirit and ideals of our Republic. Dictators strut to and for, declaring themselves supermen born to rule their fellows. Heretofore the loss of political liberty has always been followed by a loss of religious freedom. The two go together, as our fathers joined them; and what God hath joined man must not put asunder.


Monday, October 16, 2006


By: Michael W. Walker

On his initiation, the Brethren are assured that the candidate is 'living in good repute amongst his friends and neighbours.' He is therefore, or should be, a peaceable and law-abiding citizen who gets on well with others. A little later on, the candidate affirms that he comes 'with a preconceived notion of the excellence of the Order, a desire for knowledge and wishing to make himself more extensively useful amongst his fellow men.' Later again, on being charged, he is told that the foundation of Freemasonry is 'the practice of every social and moral virtue.' He is exhorted to learn how to discharge his duty to his God, his neighbour and himself, to be an exemplary citizen and that, as an individual, he should practise every domestic as well as public virtue and maintain those truly Masonic characteristics, benevolence and brotherly love.

Following his second degree, he is told that he should 'not only assent to the principles of the Craft, but steadily persevere in their practice.' Finally, following his third degree, he is told that 'his own behaviour should afford the best example for the conduct of others.'

Later still, at the peak of his Craft career, on being installed in the Chair of his Lodge, he consents to a comprehensive list of instructions as to his attitude and behaviour. All in all, the entire underlying principle is that by entering Freemasonry and by his acceptance and practice of its tenets and precepts he should become a credit to himself and an example to, and benefactor of, others.

It is expected and hoped that Freemasonry will bring about this state of affairs but that, in his daily life, a Freemason will interact with others as an individual and not in his capacity as a Freemason. Freemasonry is therefore an intellectual and philosophic exercise designed and intended to make an individual's contribution to society, and development of self, greater than they might otherwise have been had he not had the opportunity of extending his capacities and capabilities through membership of the Order.

What Does Freemasonry Provide?

Election to membership of a Lodge and initiation into that Lodge are an overt indication and confirmation of one's worth or value; and recognition of such, by the Brethren. In itself, this should increase self-esteem and hopefully generate a conscious or sub-conscious desire to prove worthy of others' confidence and trust. Subsequent promotions through the second and third degrees are symbolic of the Brethren demonstrating their satisfaction that their original choice and decision were correct and that the candidate is worthy, both innately and by virtue of his zeal, interest and proficiency in the symbolic Craft, for such promotions. These additional and consequent marks of esteem should engender in the candidate further personal satisfaction and self confidence.

The Lodge teaches many skills, often untaught, or not experienced, elsewhere. A Brother must speak in public, think on his feet, make decisions, vote on issues, and chair meetings. These are invaluable assets in all other aspects of his life and for many this may well be the only opportunity of learning, practising and perfecting these skills and techniques.

Is Freemasonry a Charity?

Freemasonry is not a Charity, but as in any fraternal setting, the need of a Brother or his dependents, will receive the sympathy and support of his Brethren, not always or necessarily, financial. Charity is a natural off-shoot of Brotherly Love and is promoted explicitly in the Masonic ethos, but it is not the 'raison d'etre' of the Order.

The Purpose of Freemasonry

The purpose of Masonry is 'self-improvement'-not in the material sense, but in the intellectual, moral and philosophic sense of developing the whole persona and psyche so as, in the beautiful and emotive language of the ritual, 'to fit ourselves to take our places, as living stones, in that great spiritual building, not made by hands, eternal in the Heavens.' Such a hypothetical whole, developed, complete person must, in his journey through life, and in his interaction with others, make a more extensive contribution to society in general, thus realizing and fulfilling his expressed wish on initiation, to become 'more extensively useful amongst his fellow-men.' Such are the lofty, lawful and laudable aspirations of the Order.
Society Today

As world changes happen faster, and in more complex and unpredictable ways, our natural needs for security, control, certainty and predictability- are being undermined. This type of environment is a breeding ground for what is now termed the 'Achilles Syndrome' where more and more people who are, in fact, high-achievers, suffer from a serious lack of selfesteem-men apparently more so than women. This is gleaned from an article on the work of Petruska Clarkson, a consultant chartered counsellor and clinical psychologist.

Dr. Donal Murray, former Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin and now Bishop of Limerick, identifies 'a hunger which is not being satisfied. People need to feel they belong; they need to feel they can be fully committed to something. The prevailing mood, in Ireland and elsewhere, is one of disillusionment and cynicism. We have come to see ourselves as living in a world of institutions and structures-we think of ourselves as belonging not to a country but to an economy; we think of our national life and resources in terms of statistics and of the machinery of Government, rather than of people and culture.'

Dr. Murray goes on to say 'it is increasingly presumed that the ideal citizen possesses no strong religious or moral beliefs, or at least has the decency not to intrude them into the public arena. Strong moral beliefs are, we are told, divisive; religious belief is, at best, embarrassing. In other words,' he continues, 'one is not meant to participate in national life with one's wholeself, with one's religious beliefs and moral convictions. These are private matters. We are in danger of trying to build a culture which regards as irrelevant the very realities which make people tick. Divisiveness results only when religion and morality are misunderstood. The individual conscience is worthy of respect because it seeks the truth, as every human being is obliged to do.'

Freemasons will hardly fail to notice these references to ethics, morality and truth the very foundation of Masonic teaching and endeavour. But these cultural jewels-without-price are coming under increasingly powerful destructive forces which are eroding the foundation and base on which they rest. Conor Cruise O'Brien-a distinguished Statesman and commentator-says that 'for as far back as we can go in history, human discourse concerning ethics has been infected, in varying degrees, with hypocrisy.' Another commentator states that the term 'business ethics' is fast becoming an oxymoron-that is a contradiction in terms; and the Bishop of Waterford felt it necessary to denounce publicly 'the Cult of Excessive Individualism.'
What is needed, in all this, is some form of mental sheet-anchor-a. sort of fixed navigational point like the pole-star which, when the clouds pass, can be seen and provides the traveller with the means to identify his exact position and thereby the knowledge to return to the true path.

Freemasonry - A Part of, or
Apart from, Society

Every individual, on occasion, is forced to be a little introspective and ask himself 'who am I and where am I? Even an organization such as the Masonic Order must also occasionally ask itself 'what are we and where are we'? What we are has, to some extent already been dealt with. We are a fraternal organization, the aims of which are brotherly love, the relief of our distressed Brethren and their dependents and the search after 'Truth' which we may express as, and expand into, public and private morality, the knowledge and fear of God and, following on from that, respect for, and love of, our neighbour. This respect includes toleration of his personal viewpoint, his religious beliefs and his political opinions. If we pursue the aims of the Order, our search should widen, yet focus our vision, while ever making us more deeply aware of, and closer to, the Great Architect of the Universe, heightening our spirituality and deepening our insight into that which we may never hope fully to understand-and something like the search after the mystic Grail as sought for, and fought for, by our possible, even probable operative forebears, the Knights Templar who followed on, in their own way, from the mythical Knights of the Grail Romances and Arthurian Legend. There is so much more to Freemasonry than the shallow depth of today's assessment and its scant inspection by today's society, obsessed as society is with material success for the individual rather than his contribution to society.

Into the Next Millennium

I have endeavoured to identify who we are, what we are and where we are-now it is time to speculate on where we go from here. We are an unfashionable group whose numbers are falling-not perhaps in the developing countries, but in the developed world we are viewed as an anachronism with an ethos which may represent an embarrassment to many of today's moral lepers. 'Whence comest thou Gehazi'? You will remember Elisha's devastating question to his servant who had run after Naaman, seeking to profit from his Master's-that is, someone else'sperformance and use of his talents.

As those who joined Freemasonry in great numbers after the Second World War, because they found it the closest alternative or substitute for the fellowship and support they found within the Forces, now pass on to their reward, there is no surge of candidates to replace them. So recruitment becomes a necessity, though the means and emphasis must be very carefully gauged.

We must try to correct the false perception of us by, in particular, the media and the Churches for they are the agencies who can and do formulate and direct public opinion; and both are highly suspicious and/or antagonistic.

What I am trying to emphasise is that as we move into the next millennium we must be steadfast in our adherence to the Aims and Principles and not attempt to obtain public acceptance through promoting or pursuing non-masonic activities which can only, in the long term, prove our undoing. We must be patient and bide our time for we will come again. I have heard it said that the pace of life and its stresses will get even more frenetic than at present and that while we may be able to cope with this intellectually, it is questionable if many can cope with it emotionally. In these circumstances with the Internet bombarding us with a Quatermass-like availability of ethical and unethical information in the privacy of our own homes, I believe that Brother Michael Yaxley, President of the Board of General Purposes of the Grand Lodge of Tasmania is quite correct when he writes 'Society does have a need for a body such as Freemasonry. I believe that this need will increase rather than decrease. In the next century the work place will not offer fellowship and camaraderie sufficient to satisfy the social instincts that people have. Many people will work at home, linked to the office by computer and telephone. Others will work in an office with complex but nevertheless inanimate equipment. The irony of the Age of Communication is that people spend, and will spend, more time by themselves.'


As the American writer, Henry Adams saw it, 'The Indian Summer of Life should be a little sunny and a little sad, and infinite in wealth and depth of tonejust like the season.'
I think that pretty closely describes Freemasonry today-a little sunny and infinite in wealth and depth of tone-we all can sympathise with that. A little sad too with memories of past greatness; and quieter more settled times when bogeymen were not found everywhere and Freemasonry was a recognised, accepted and fashionable part of society. Will our time come again? I think it will-not perhaps an exact replica of the past, for we cannot turn back the clock, but a slimmer, trimmer version with new
vigour and enthusiasm ready to meet the new millennium.

But remember, Brethren, as we enter and endure 'the Winter of our discontent' we must maintain our standards and our dignity. There can be no compromise with quality in any facet of our Institution. One of Ireland's greatest actors and one of its best-known characters, Michael Mac Liammoir, was once accused by a critic of being ,square. ' 'Yes' said Mac Liammoir, 'perhaps you are right, but so much better to be square than shapeless.' How appropriate for Freemasonry at this time-let us hold firm to the symbolism of the square and the compasses and let them be the means of restoring Ordo ab Chao - order out of mental and moral chaos--as we strive to readjust emotionally to the crushing pressures and stress of modem life.

Now Brethren, let me close on one final exhortation taken from the beautiful language of our ritual - 'See that you conduct yourselves, out of Lodge as in Lodge, good men and Masons'; and remember those immortal words of Polonius giving advice to his son Laertes as he departs from Denmark, on his return to France, in Shakespeare's greatest play, Hamlet 'This above all, to thine own self be true; and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.'

Almost the entire Masonic ethos can be found in those few words-so easy to remember, so difficult to put into practice.


Sunday, October 15, 2006


"I've been a Mason six months now and I ought to know something about Masonry. But there are more secrets in the fraternity I don't know than those I have been told!" The New Brother was puzzled. The Old Tiler laid down his sword, picked up a half-smoked cigar and lit it, and settled back in his chair.

"Get it out of your system," he invited. "Is Masonry a religion," continued the New Brother, "or a system of philosophy, or a childish getting together of men who like to play politics and wear titles? I have heard it called all three. Sometimes I think it's one and sometimes the other. What do you think?"

"It isn't a childish getting together for the love of titles and honors," answered the Old Tiler. "Men would soon invent a much better organization for the satisfaction of such purposes. In fact, he has invented better ones. Men who want to play politics and be called the Grand High Cockalorum of the Exalted Central Chamber of the Secret Sanctorum can join these. If Masonry were nothing but play, it wouldn't live, and living, grow.

"Masonry isn't a religion. A religion, as I see it, is a belief in deity and a means of expressing worship. Masonry recognizes Deity, and proceeds only after asking divine guidance. But it does not specify any particular deity. You can worship any God you please and be a Mason. That is not true of any religion. If you are a Buddhist, you worship Buddha. If a Christian, Christ is your Deity. If you are a Mohammedan you are a worshipper of Allah. In Masonry you will find Christian, Jew, Mohammedan and Buddhist side by side.

"Masonry has been called a system of philosophy, but that is a confining definition. I don't think Masonry has ever been truly defined." "Or God," put in the New Brother. "Exactly. A witty Frenchman, asked if he believed in God, replied, 'Before I answer, you must tell me your definition of God. And when you tell me, I will answer you, no, because a God defined is a God limited, and a limited God is no God.' Masonry is something like that; it is brotherhood, unlimited, and when you limit it by defining it you make it something it isn't."

"Deep stuff!" commented the New Brother. "Masonry is 'deep stuff,'" answered the Old Tiler. "It's so deep no man has ever found the bottom. Perhaps that is its greatest charm; you can go as far as you like and still not see the limit. The fascination of astronomy is the limitlessness of the field. No telescope has seen the edge of the universe. The fascination of Masonry is that it has no limits. The human heart has no limit in depth and that which appeals most to the human heart cannot have a limit."

"But that makes it so hard to understand!" sighed the New Brother. "Isn't it the better for being difficult of comprehension?" asked the Old Tiler. "A few days ago I heard an eminent divine and Mason make an inspiring talk. I hear a lot of talks; nine-tenths are empty words with a pale tallow-tip gleam of a faint idea somewhere in them. So when a real talker lets the full radiance of a whole idea shine on an audience, he is something to be remembered. This speaker quoted a wonderful poem, by William Herbert Carruth. I asked him to send it to me, and he did; please note, this busy man, president of a university, and with a thousand things to do, didn't forget the request of a brother he never saw before!" The Old Tiler put his hand in his pocket and took out a much-thumbed piece of paper. "Listen you," he said, "'till I read you just one verse of it:

"'A picket frozen on duty; A mother, starved for her brood;
Socrates drinking the hemlock, and Jesus on the road;
And millions who, humble and nameless, The straight hard pathway plod;
Some call it consecration And others call it God.'"

The New Brother said nothing, held silent by the beauty of the lines.

"I am no poet," continued the Old Tiler, "and I know this isn't very fitting, but I wrote something to go with those verses, just to read to brothers like you." Shyly the Old Tiler continued:

"Many men, banded together Standing where Hiram stood;
Hand to back of the falling, Helping in brotherhood.
Wise man, doctor, lawyer, Poor man, man of the hod,
Many call it Masonry And others call it God."

"I don't think it makes much difference what we call it, do you?" asked the New Brother.


Saturday, October 14, 2006


Bro. James Garfield, 20th U.S. President , Second to be AssassinatedSix months after he became president, Ohio's James Garfield was the second American president to be shot while in office. (The first was Abraham Lincoln.) That tragic event had been preceded by a contentious election in which Bro. Garfield had defeated Winfield Scott Hancock by a mere 10,000 votes. During the Republican convention, Bro. Garfield had actively campaigned for his political ally John Sherman. When ballot after ballot failed to nominate apresidential candidate, Bro.Garfield was named as a "dark horse" possibility and finally received the party's support for president on the 36th ballot. In his six months as president, Bro. Garfield fought corruption but encountered significant opposition from Senator Roscoe Conkling, who had taken offense to Garfield's political appointments. When Conkling resigned from the senate in protest, Bro. Garfield's position of power was reinforced, but it wasn't to last. Attorney Charles Jules Guiteau, who had also unsuccessfully sought a government appointment, shot the president at the Washington, D.C. railroad station. Despite attempts to remove the bullet, including the use of an early metal detector developed by Alexander Graham Bell, Bro. Garfield died of blood poisoning several weeks later. Bro. Garfield was initiated November 19, 1864 in Columbus Lodge 246 at Garrettsville, OH, passed the same year and raised in 1864. He ws Chaplain in 1868, and 1869. He was also a member of Pentalpha Lodge 2 at Washington, DC, of the Mark and Royal Arch, and of the Scottish Rite. He was also a Knight Templar. (The Learning Kingdom)

Bro. Thurgood Marshall,- first African-American justice on the U.S. Supreme CourtBro. Thurgood Marshall's grandfather was a former slave who fought on behalf of the Union Army during the Civil War. His mother was among the first women to graduate from Columbia Teacher's College. And Bro. Marshall himself was a pioneer, becoming the first African-American on the Supreme Court of the United States in 1967. During a lengthy legal career with the NAACP, Bro. Marshall gained significant experience arguing cases before the court on which he one day would serve. In the 32 cases where he was called upon to argue on behalf of defendants or plaintiffs, he was victorious 29 times. Perhaps the most famous of those victories was 1954's Brown vs. The Board of Education, which ultimately resulted in the forced desegregation of schools across America. While on the Supreme Court, Bro. Marshall was often at odds with conservative justices. He became known for his eloquent dissent and sharp wit. Upon his retirement in 1993, he was replaced by Clarence Thomas.

Bro. George M. Cohan inspired the movie At the age of 16, Bro. George M. Cohan published his first song, "Why Did Nellie Leave Home?" It was his first of hundreds of tunes, some of which would become standards. Bro. Cohan's song list includes popular tunes like "Give My Regards to Broadway" and "Mary's a Grand Old Name," as well as such patriotic anthems as "You're a Grand Old Flag" and "Over There." Twenty-three years later, just before America's entry into World War II, Congress authorized Bro. Franklin Roosevelt to present Bro. Cohan with a gold medal. In addition to song writing, Bro. Cohan was a playwright, producer, and actor. He appeared in "Ah Wilderness" and "I'd Rather Be Right," and wrote plays including "The Little Millionaire," "Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford," and "The Merry Malones." He was immortalized in 1942 in Hollywood's "Yankee Doodle Dandy," and in 1968 in the Broadway musical "George M!" Bro. Cohan was raised in New York city's Pacific Lodge No. 233 in 1905. He was also an active Shrine Mason. (The learning Kindom)

Bro. Benjamin Franklin -- one of the America's first spies.Students of history have long respected Bro. Benjamin Franklin as ascientist, statesman, inventor, and diplomat. But, he was also one of the first Americans to actively engage in espionage for his country. During the American Revolution, Bro. Franklin went to France on behalf of the fledgling United States to court the support of the French government. Bro. Franklin appeared to be a harmless emissary of his government, but was actively engaging in propaganda efforts and paramilitary operations to further the cause of American independence. Among his most successful schemes was the creation of a false impression that American and British relations were about to take a turn for the better, prompting France to sign a military alliance with the United States. Bro. Franklin also helped plan the only American attack on the British Isles, and created false news reports thatswayed British public opinion against the war. The CIA has honored Franklin's pioneering acts of espionage: The Learning Kingdom

Bro.. Douglas Fairbanks Sr., (1883-1939) Helped Found United Artists.
In 1916 alone, Bro. Douglas Fairbanks Sr. starred in nearly a dozen successful silent movies. The talented actor, who had made his first film just a year earlier, was commanding the then-enormous salary of about $10,000 a week. Bro. Fairbanks' good looks quickly gained him a loyal following among fans that loved his swashbuckling action films. Among his most notable pictures were "The Mark of Zorro," "The Three Musketeers" (both released in 1921), "Robin Hood" (1921), and "The Thief of Bagdad"(1924). Bro. Fairbanks' career wasn't limited to playing the leading man in early motion pictures. With Charlie Chaplin, Bro. D.W. Griffith and his wife, Mary Pickford, he co-founded United Artists in 1919. Using the pseudonym Elton Thomas, he also wrote a number of scripts for films in which he starred, including "The Black Pirate," "The Iron Mask,"and "The Gaucho." In 1927, Bro. Fairbanks served as the first president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an organization he had helped found. Bro. Fairbanks was a memveof Beverly Hills Lodge 528, California. Bro. Griffith was a member of St. Cecile Lodge 568, New York City. (The Learning Kindom)

Bro. Matthew Henson, (1866-1955) Co-discoverer of the North Pole
Not honored until decades afterward. An African-American born at Charles County, MD a year after the end of the Civil War, Bro. Matthew Henson was one of the first men ever to reach the North Pole. He accomplished this feat in the company of Admiral Bro. Robert Peary, his longtime partner in exploration. Bro. Matthew Henson was orphaned as a youth. At age 12 he served as a cabin boy on the saiiing ship Kathie Hines. He met Bro.Robert E. Peary while working in a Washington, D.C. store in 1888 and was hired to be Peary's valet. He accompanied Peary on his seven subsequent Arctic expeditions. During the succesful 1908-1909 expedition to the North Pole, Bro. Henson and two of the four Eskimo guides reached their destination on April 6, 1909. Bro.Peary arrived minutes later and verifyed the location. Bro. Henson had accompanied Bro. Peary in a number of prior journeys to both Arctic and equatorial regions. An early trip to Nicaragua cemented their relationship, and the two men spent the next two decades in various attempts to chart points in the far north and reach the North Pole. Because he was black, Bro. Henson shared little of the recognition awarded Bro. Peary. Not until decades later was he honored by the Explorers Club in New York. Henson's account of the expedition, "A Negro Explorer at the North Pole" was published in 1912. In addition to the .Congressional Medal awarded all members of the North Pole Expedition, Henson also received the Gold Medal of the Geographical Society of Chicago and, at age 81, was made an honorary member of the Explorers Club in New York, NY.. After his 1955 death, he was buried in an obscure cemetery in North York, but 32 years later his grave was moved to Arlington National Cemetery, beside that of his old companion, Bro. Robert Peary. Bro. Matthew Henson was initiated on Nevember 5, 1904 in Celestial Lodge No. 3 of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York. (The Learning Kingdom. Chase's.)


Friday, October 13, 2006


Sousa was born in Washington D.C. to John António de Sousa and Maria Elisabeth Trinkhaus. His parents were of Portuguese and Bavarian (German) descent. John first learned the violin beginning at age 6. He found to have absoulutly perfect pitch. When the young Sousa reached the age of 13, his father, a trombonist in the Marine Band, enlisted his son in the United States Marine Corps as an apprentice. The boy soon attempted to run away and join a circus. John served his apprenticeship for 7 years, until 1875, apparently learning to play all the wind instruments, and maintaining his skills on the violin.
Several years later, John left his apprenticeship to join a theatrical (pit) orchestra where he learned to conduct. He returned to the U.S. Marine Band as its head in 1880, and remained as its conductor until 1892. Sousa also led the marching band of Gonzaga College High School.
Sousa organized his own band in 1892. It toured widely, and in 1900, represented the United States at the Paris Exposition before touring Europe. Sousa repeatedly refused to conduct on the radio, fearing a lack of personal contact with the audience. He was finally persuaded to do so in 1929 and became a smash hit.

He wrote well over 100 marches; some of his most popular are:
"Semper Fidelis" (1888) (Official March of the United States Marine Corps)
"The Washington Post March" (1889)
"The Thunderer" (1889)
"The Liberty Bell" (1893) (credits theme for Monty Python's Flying Circus)
"Manhattan Beach March" (1893)
"King Cotton" (1892)
"The Stars and Stripes Forever" (1896) (National March of the United States)
"El Capitan" (1896)
"Hands Across the Sea" (1899)
"Fairest of the Fair" (1908)
"U.S. Field Artillery" (1917)
"The Gallant Seventh" (1922)
"The Black Horse Troop" (1924)
The marching brass bass, or sousaphone, is named after him.

The Queen of Hearts (1885), also known as Royalty and Roguery
The Smugglers (1882)
Desiree (1883)
El Capitan (1895)
The Bride Elect (1897), libretto by Sousa.
The Charlatan (1898), also known as The Mystical Miss, lyrics by Sousa.
Chris and the Wonderful Lamp (1899)
The Free Lance (1905)
The American Maid (1909), also known as The Glass Blowers.
These operettas which Gervase Hughes calls "notable" (1) also show a variety of French, Viennese and British influences. (In his younger days, Sousa made an orchestration of HMS Pinafore and played the first violin on the American tour of Jacques Offenbach.) The music of these operettas is light and cheerful. The Glass Blowers and Desirée have had revivals, the latter having been released on CD like El Capitan, the best known of them. El Capitan has been in production somewhere in the world ever since it was written and makes fun of false heroes. Still more outspoken against militarism is The Free Lance, the story of two kingdoms becoming united, which found its way to Germany (as "Der Feldhauptmann") by the time the Berlin Wall came down.
Marches and waltzes have been derived from many of these stage-works. Sousa also composed the music for six operettas that were either unfinished or not produced: The Devils' Deputy, Florine, The Irish Dragoon, Katherine, The Victory, and The Wolf.
In addition, Sousa wrote The Mikado march, the elegant overture of Our Flirtations, a number of musical suites, etc.
(1) Gervase Hughes,Composers of Operetta, New York, 1962

Sousa the Freemason
One year after the 1882 Transit of Venus, Sousa was commissioned to compose a processional for the unveiling of a bronze statue of American physicist Joseph Henry, who had died in 1878. Henry, who had developed the first electric motor, was also the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
A Freemason, Sousa was fascinated by what the group considered mystical qualities in otherwise natural phenomena. According to Sten Odenwald of the NASA IMAGE Science Center[1], this played a significant role in the selection of the time and date of the performance, April 19, 1883, at 4:00 P.M. Dr. Odenwald points out that Venus and Mars, invisible to the participants, were setting in the west. At the same time, the moon, Uranus, and Virgo were rising in the east, Saturn had crossed the meridian, and Jupiter was directly overhead. According to Masonic lore, Venus was associated with the element copper, and Joseph Henry had used large quantities of copper to build his electric motors.
The "Transit of Venus March" never caught on during Sousa's lifetime. It went unplayed for more than 100 years, after Sousa's copies of the music were destroyed in a flood. As reported in The Washington Post, Library of Congress employee Loras Schissel recently found copies of the old sheet music for Venus "languishing in the library's files."[2] The piece was resurrected recently, in time for the 2004 Transit.
Sousa also composed a march, "Nobles of the Mystic Shrine", dedicated to the high degree freemasonry Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.

Other writing, skills, and interests
Sousa exhibited many talents aside from music. He wrote five novels and a full length autobiography as well as a great number of articles and letters-to-the-editor on a variety of subjects. As a trapshooter, he ranks as one of the all-time greats, and his skill as a horseman met championship criteria.
In his 1902 novel The Fifth String a young violinist makes a deal with the Devil for a magic violin with five strings. The strings can excite the emotions of Pity, Hope, Love & Joy- the 5th string is Death & can be played only once before causing the player's own death. He has a brilliant career but cannot win the love of the woman he desires. At a final concert he plays upon the death string.
In 1920 he wrote another work called The Transit of Venus, a 40,000-word prose story. It is about a group of misogynists called the Alimony Club who, as a way of temporarily escaping the society of women, embark on a sea voyage to observe the transit of Venus. The captain's niece, however, has stowed away on board and soon wins over the men. [3]
Sousa held a very low opinion of the emerging and upstart recording industry. In a submission to a congressional hearing in 1906, he argued that:
These talking machines are going to ruin the artistic development of music in this country. When I was a front of every house in the summer evenings, you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal cord will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape.
Law professor Lawrence Lessig cited this passage to argue that in creating a system of copyrights in which control of music is in the hands of recording studios, Sousa was essentially correct.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006



Who wrote the Pledge of Allegiance to our Flag?

Can you imagine a time when this was not known?

Well, truth is stranger than fiction, for up until 1939 it was not certain who had written the Pledge, and what's more, until that time no one seemed to care. Finally, in that year, after years of research a committee of the U.S. Flag Association ruled that Francis J. Bellamy had indeed written our Pledge of Allegiance.

The Reverend Francis J. Bellamy was a Mason, a member of Little Falls Lodge No. 181, Little Falls, New York. The Order of the Eastern Star erected a memorial tablet to him in 1955 in Oriskany, New York.

At the First National Flag Conference in Washington, D.C., June 14, 1923, the words "the Flag of the United States" was substituted for "my flag." The change was made on the grounds that those born in foreign countries might have in mind the flag of their native land when giving the Pledge. The Second National Flag Conference in Washington on Flag Day, 1924, added, for the sake of greater definition, the words "of America." On Flag Day, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an Act of Congress adding the words "under God." For greater meaning and proper presentation when reciting the Pledge there should be only three pauses:
1. After "America;"
2. after "stands;" and
3. after "indivisible."

Due to the fact that no author was mentioned when the Pledge appeared in 1892, few knew who actually had written it and in time its origin was completely veiled in obscurity. This is the story of how the Pledge of Allegiance came into being, and of a long-delayed tribute to its author.

James B. Upham was a man imbued with patriotic fervor. At the close of the last century he was a partner of the firm publishing the Youth's Companion, a juvenile periodical of Boston. One of his strong beliefs was that an American flag should be flown over every schoolhouse. To this end he persuaded his magazine to sponsor a plan to sell flags to schools at cost; the idea being so successful that 25,000 schools acquired flags in just one year. He also campaigned to have flags flown over public buildings--his success in this endeavor is clearly evident today.

Brother and Sir Knight James B. Upham is known as the "Father" of the move-ment to display flags in schools and in public places. We Masons, who pride ourselves on our patriotism, salute him!

He was a member of Converse Lodge, Malden, Mass.
Brother Upham had still another idea--that on Columbus Day, 1892, the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America, every public school in the land would hold a flag-raising ceremony under the most impressive circumstances, and every school child rededicate himself in love and service to his country.

Upham conceived this as a National Public School Celebration of Columbus Day.
Daniel S. Ford, the owner of the Youth's Companion and uncle of James Upham, appointed Francis Bellamy, a member of the Youth's Companion staff, the national chairman of a committee to enlist the support of educators, mayors, governors and members of Congress in this tremendous undertaking. The results of their labors surpassed their fondest dreams, for the President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison, enthusiastically endorsed the plan and declared a national holiday for Columbus Day, October 21, 1892.

There was great excitement in the schools throughout the land during the months preceding the great day of celebration. Committees were busy at every school, planning the Columbus Day program down to its finest detail. It was understood by all that the climax and the most important and impressive part of the ceremony would be the raising of the Flag and the salute to it by the students. In preparing the suggested program for the Columbus Day Observance to be printed in the Youth's Companion, James Upham hesitated when he came to the salute by the students. He was not entirely satisfied with the "Balch" salute, then in common usage.

This was written in 1887 by Colonel George T. Balch, and went:

'' We give our heads and our hearts to God and our country--
One country, one language, one flag. ''

A variation of this was:

"I give my heart and my hand to my
One country, one language, one flag. ''

Upham discussed his dilemma with Francis Bellamy and asked for his help. Here is Bellamy's account of the thoughts that went through his mind as he wrote the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag--note the attention he gave to each word of the Pledge:

Mr. Upham and I spent many hours in considering the revision of this salute. Each one sug-gested that the other write a new salute. It was my thought that a vow of loyalty or allegiance to the flag should be the dominant idea. I especially stressed the word ''allegiance. '' So Mr. Upham told me to try it out on that line.

It was a warm evening in August, 1892, in my office in Boston, that I shut myself in my room alone to formulate the actual pledge. Beginning with the new word "allegiance," I first decided that pledge was a better school word than "vow" or "swear''; and that the first person singular should be used, and that ''my" flag was preferable to "the'' When those first words, "I pledge allegiance to my flag'' looked up at me from the scratch paper, the start appeared promising.

Then: should it be "country,'' "nation," or ''Republic?" "Republic'' won because it distinguished the form of government chosen by the fathers and established by the Revolution. The true reason for allegiance to the flag is the ''Republic for which it stands."

Now how should the vista be widened so as to teach the national fundamentals? I laid down my pencil and tried to pass our history in review. It took in the sayings of Washington, the arguments of Hamilton, the Webster-Hayne debate, the speeches of Seward and Lincoln, the Civil War. After many attempts, all that pictured struggle reduced itself to three words, "One Nation, indivisible. ''

To reach that compact brevity, conveying the facts of a single nationality and of an indi-visibility both of states and of common interests, was as I recall, the most arduous phase of the task, and the discarded experiments at phrasing overflowed the scrap basket.

But what of the present and future of this indivisible Nation here presented for allegiance? What were the old and fought-out issues which always will be issues to be fought for? Especially, what were the basic national doctrines bearing upon the acute questions already agitating the public mind? Here was a temptation to repeat the historic slogan of the French Revolution, imported by Jefferson, ''liberty, equality, fraternity. '' But that was rather quickly rejected as fraternity was too remote of realization, and equality was a dubious word. What doctrines, then, would everybody agree upon as the basis of Americanism? ''Liberty and Justice'' were surely basic, were uneatable, and were all that any one Nation could handle. If these were exercised ''for all'' they involved the spirit of equality and fraternity. So that final line came with a cheering rush. As a clincher, it seemed to assemble the past and to promise the future.

That, I remember, is how the sequence of ideas grew and how the words were found. I called for Mr. Upham and repeated it to him with full emphasis.

"I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indi-visible, with Liberty and Justice for all. ''

Thus was our Pledge of Allegiance born-- and it was proclaimed with great rejoicing throughout the land on October 21, 1892. In writing the Pledge Bellamy was only fulfilling one of his many assignments for the magazine, but those who knew the man himself knew also that he was fulfilling a deep desire to compose a simple dignified message of loyalty which would convey the truest and most noble sentiments of a devoted patriot toward his native land.

All Masons salute him!


Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I've learned that you can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk. age 6

I've learned that if you want to cheer yourself up, you should try to cheer someone else up. age 13

I've learned that although it's hard to admit, I'm very glad my parents are strict with me. age 15

I've learned that silent company is often more healing than words of advice. age 24

I've learned that brushing my child's hair is one of life's great pleasures. age 25

I've learned that there are people who love you dearly, but just don't know it. age 41

I've learned that the greater a person's sense of guilt, the greater his need to cast blame. age 45

I've learned that children and grandparents are natural allies. age 46

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a man by the way he handles: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. age 52

I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you miss them terribly after they die. age 53

I've learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life. age 58

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back. age 64

I've learned whenever I decide something with kindness, it's usually the right decision. age 66

I've learned that even when I have pain, I don't have to be one. age 82

I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love that human touch - a hug or just a nice pat on the back. age 85

I've learned that I still have a lot to learn. age 92


Monday, October 09, 2006


One of the most irritating and disconcerting things during any
Masonic meeting is when two or more Brethren on the sidelines get
into a sotto voce discussion. It's even worse when one of them is
hard of hearing. When this happens during degree work, it can throw
off even the best of ritualists. We've all seen--and heard--it

It is a distraction from the solemnity of the ritual. It's
discourteous to the degree team; it's robbing the candidate of the
benefit of what should be a meaningful experience; and it is
insulting to the Brethren who are trying to hear.

Unfortunately, the offending offensive Brethren don't seem to realize
that they are disturbing their colleagues. They don't realize that
they can be heard ..or, possibly they don't care.

How to overcome situations like this is a leadership problem which
faces many Masters. Should he rap the gavel and ask for quiet? Should
he have someone go over to the offending Brethren and ask them to be
quiet? Should he ask them to leave the lodge room? Or should he
ignore them?

The answers to these questions will depend on many factors. The
mantle of leadership comes in many guises. The personality of the
Master will to a large degree, dictate the manner in which he can
best cope with the situation. There are some with strong
authoritative images, who can maintain order merely by a meaningful
glance; while others must resort to persuasion, reasoning or other
methods .
We recognize that the Worshipful Master has the authority to take
strong action. His word is LAW. However, in the interest of "peace
and harmony" he will--if he is a good leader -- use only the "force"
necessary to overcome an infraction. Gentle persuasion is probably
the best tool he has. By "whispering wise words of counsel in the ear
of an erring Brother" or having it done, will usually secure the
desired results.

We heard of one Grand Master who was speaking at a lodge in his own
Jurisdiction which had a reputation of sideline chatter. Even as he
was speaking, the lodge Secretary and the lodge Treasurer became
involved in a heated, whispered argument, which proved most
distracting. In fact, it became so disconcerting that the Grand
Master lost his train of thought. Rapping the gavel, he addressed the
talkative Brothers and sternly told them that he had been invited to
speak; that he intended to speak, but that he was not going to have
any competition. Upon resuming his prepared remarks, you could have
heard a pin drop, it was so quiet. In fact, the remainder of the
evening, the lodge maintained a subdued attitude. Everything was
quite proper.

As he left the temple, he said to himself that that was probably the
last time he would be invited to that lodge. How wrong he was. He
later learned that at the next meeting of the lodge, the Secretary
apologized to the Master and to the lodge for the embarrassment they
had caused and moved that the Grand Master be elected an Honorary
Member of the lodge. The Treasurer seconded the motion, which was
unanimously carried. He is the only Past Grand Master holding
Honorary Membership in that lodge.

In recounting that story, the Grand Master, now Past Grand Master,
uses it to illustrate several valid points of leadership. (I) Leaders
MUST lead! (2) When you are in the "right," you have nothing to fear.
(3) Leadership is expected and respected. (4) Harmony must prevail .

Courtesy - common courtesy - is a trait of mankind. It is a two-way
street. It is a hallmark
of a Mason.

We frequently see Masters who try too hard to be a "good old boy."
They joke too much, and in doing so, invite a great deal of sideline
chatter. Their meetings become .so informal that the lodge is
subjected to ridicule. Their lack of leadership is counter-
productive. Instead of creating an atmosphere of dignity and decorum,
they produce a comedy of contagious errors, which reflect upon the
character of the lodge, and frequently drives the Brethren away from
the lodge in droves.

Even worse, however, is the silver-tongued Master who is a born
ritualist. His intonations,
expression and sincerity are superb when he delivers the ritual. BUT,
as soon as the lodge is closed, he becomes a loud-mouthed, foul-
mouthed, woman-chasing rogue. He completely ignores his own beautiful
rendition of the charge "to put into practice outside the lodge,
those principles which are inculcated therein." This "Frankenstein
Monster" has the leadership potential of an "off mule."

Everyone in leadership positions in any field of endeavor, either
consciously or subconsciouly, develops a style of leadership
techniques which fit their personality. What is effective for one
might be an absolute flop for another. Some of the leadership
techniques could easily be described as gimmicks.

On the night of his installation, one Master announced that he was
assigning a specific task to each of the 200 members of the lodge,
which he would like to have completed within three months. What he
had done involved a great deal of planning which is an essential in
leadership. Over a period of months, he had developed a list of
things which needed to be done around the lodge. He charged one
member to see that each task was accomplished.

No one job involved much time or effort, but it did involve everyone.
Tacking down a piece of
upholstery on the Junior Warden's station; scrubbing the lavatory;
painting the stair rail; repairing strings on aprons; cleaning the
glass on the Past Master's pictures; replacing a frayed cord on the
Secretary's desk lamp; oiling the hinges on the Preparation Room
door; replacing a tile in the kitchen floor; having the window
curtains dry cleaned; helping the Secretary address envelopes;
preparing a telephone roster; refinishing the Stewards' and Deacons'
rods; developing a roster of Widows-and the list went on and on. Each
task was matched with a member's name, one who had the time and
ability to do it.

To coordinate and supervise the execution of the assignments, the
Master assigned his officers. This, too, is an important element of

In the following weeks, the lodge building was a hub-bub of activity,
as the members gathered to carry out their respective
responsibilities. Some came during the lunch hour, others in the
afternoon and some in the evening. Fellowship reigned as one Brother
helped the other. Wives frequently came along to help out, and often
brought along refreshments. Even after a job had been finished, many
came back to see what else was being done. A coffee-klatch developed.
Cribbage and pinochle games often started after the work was done.

The exciting thing that happened though, was the dramatic increase of
attendance at even the Stated Meetings. And, at these, the Master was
careful to exercise another trait of leadership by recognizing the
accomplishments of each member and showing appreciation. Not only did
the lodge building sparkle with its improvements, the members had
become Masons in the true sense of the word, with a genuine concern
for one another.

Just as the "spin-offs" of the Space Program have produced many
improvements in our daily lives, the "spin-offs" of this Master's
leadership have had a lasting effect upon the lodge and upon the
community. A Master is expected to show leadership. He did. And his
leadership is respected. However, his brand of leadership might not
"fit" another.

The first impression many visiting Brethren get of a lodge is their
reception by the Tiler (or, if you prefer-Tyler). How meticulous is
he in checking your dues card; having you sign the register; seeing
if you can be avouched for or if you need the "dreaded Committee;"
providing an apron or in taking up "the word" can either "turn you
on" or "turn you off." His is a thankless-yet important-job, yet it
is somehow often ignored.

One Tiler in a small town lodge was getting more than his share of
harassment from one of the members one night. Finally, after about
five minutes of constant harangue, the Tiler became fed up. Picking
up the "implement of his office," he said,, "My job is to keep off
cowans and eavesdroppers. I wish to H------it was to keep off horses-
asses." It was crude. Yet it was forceful. It accomplished its
purpose. It was a form of leadership.

Much has been said and written about Masonic Leadership. (See Short
Talk Bulletins: 1-70, Lodge Leadership; 4-52, Masonic Man- ners; 2-
41, Master; 10-39, Art of Presiding; 2-48, Parliamentary Law in
Freemasonry; 10-74, Powers of the Worshipful Master.) (See Masonic
Digests: Leadership - how to Develop It; Leadership Training; Think
Tank for Junior Wardens.) There are no hard and fast rules.
Leadership is a matter of interest for every Mason. Leadership is
common courtesy. Leadership is a two-way street. Leadership is
essential .

We show our leadership by the way we act toward others. It's as
simple as setting the example by the way we conduct ourselves on the
sidelines, or as complicated as controlling the discussions on an
emotion-packed motion.

Each of us has some leadership potential or ability. It's a trait
worth developing and practicing. Just as a pair of pants won't fit
everyone, we must tailor our leadership abilities to fit our own


Saturday, October 07, 2006


How Were/When Were Railroad Lodges Born?

Railroad Lodges were generally found in communities that housed what was called "Section Gangs" on the railroad. These were railroad track men who were responsible for maintaining a section of railroad, and hence, usually were/are found in small communities that, were it not for the railroad, would be called farming communities. These Lodges usually met on Friday nights, since track work generally went on till dusk, and track gangs normally quit early on Friday, giving them enough time to go home, clean up, and have supper before Lodge meeting. I've been in have talked to some fine Masons who are members of "Railroad Lodges." For example, a good friend and Mason who is a member of Gordonsville, VA Lodge once invited me to stated (which I believe was on a Friday evening) with the disclaimer: "It's a Railroad Lodge." Where to look for Railroad Lodges? Find a map of all the railroads in Virginia (or elsewhere), and search for where the old depots were...Most of those towns will have been, or had a Railroad Lodge at some point. City lodges, such as Widow's Sons' #60 in Charlottesville, VA where I am SW, may might have a Railroad Lodge in the background somewhere, but are farremoved from it today. However, many small railroad communities maintain fairly fresh memories of track gangs and the Railroad Lodge. Thanks to Bro. Tim Edwards who grew up in Verona, KY...A section gang town surrounded by farms. His Father railroaded for the L&N Railroad for 30+ years, and Bro. Tim was raised in Verona Lodge, #876, Verona, KY, which was a Railroad Lodge and met on Friday evenings. His y email is: or Tim Edwards, SW Widow's Son's #60 Charottesville, VA


Coming to New York City soon? Why not enjoy an escorted tour of New York Grand Lodge and its newly renovated magnificent 1,200-seat Masonic Hall, its Museum and Library, numerous Lodge rooms and other facilities. Included is a short introduction to our New York State and USA MASONIC History. All you need do to arrange a tour is contact , Bro. Steven S. Grant, Tour Guide. What to bring with you? Your family and friends, Masons and non-Masons. You'll want to bring a Camera to take photos you can show to your Brethren back home. If you want to attend a Lodge in session, you'll need a document establishing your Masonic Affiliation, of course. And your Apron which would make a most welcome subject for our local Brothers to see (though we can provide a White Apron before your entrance into the Lodge ). Sound interesting? Need Date, time and place to be mutually acceptable. Tour Office located on the Main floor in "MASONIC HALL," 71 West 23rd Street, corner 6th Avenue, NY, NY. Steven S. Grant, Masonic Hall Tour Guide PDDGM Third MANHATTAN. Masonic District E-mail is: Telephone and FAX # (201)263-0711 (You may call me up to midnight, including Weekends.)

Bro. James Garfield, 20th U.S. President , Second to be Assassinated

Six months after he became president, Ohio's James Garfield was the second American president to be shot while in office. (The first was Abraham Lincoln.) That tragic event had been preceded by a contentious election in which Bro. Garfield had defeated Winfield Scott Hancock by a mere 10,000 votes. During the Republican convention, Bro. Garfield had actively campaigned for his political ally John Sherman. When ballot after ballot failed to nominate apresidential candidate, Bro.Garfield was named as a "dark horse" possibility and finally received the party's support for president on the 36th ballot. In his six months as president, Bro. Garfield fought corruption but encountered significant opposition from Senator Roscoe Conkling, who had taken offense to Garfield's political appointments. When Conkling resigned from the senate in protest, Bro. Garfield's position of power was reinforced, but it wasn't to last. Attorney Charles Jules Guiteau, who had also unsuccessfully sought a government appointment, shot the president at the Washington, D.C. railroad station. Despite attempts to remove the bullet, including the use of an early metal detector developed by Alexander Graham Bell, Bro. Garfield died of blood poisoning several weeks later. Bro. Garfield was initiated November 19, 1864 in Columbus Lodge 246 at Garrettsville, OH, passed the same year and raised in 1864. He ws Chaplain in 1868, and 1869. He was also a member of Pentalpha Lodge 2 at Washington, DC, of the Mark and Royal Arch, and of the Scottish Rite. He was also a Knight Templar. (The Learning Kingdom)

Bro. James Polk - America's first In 1844, many observers expected the Democratic convention to nominate former President Martin Van Buren as its candidate for chief executive. Bro. James Polk had been mentioned only as a potential nominee for vice president. However, Van Buren opposed the annexation of Texas, which lost him support in his battle with Lewis Cass, and Bro. Polk emerged as a compromise candidate when the convention became deadlocked. Ultimately, votes from delegates in the southern and western states resulted in Bro. Polk's nomination in the ninth ballot. A taciturn man, Bro. Polk nonetheless went on to defeat eloquent statesman Henry Clay of the Whig party, who also opposed territorial expansion, to become 11th President of the US. In his single term of office, Polk saw the boundary between Oregon and Canada established by treaty with Britain. He also gained a huge territory through his success in the Mexican War, in which American troops eventually occupied Mexico City until Mexico ceded California and New Mexico, and gave up all claims to Texas. Bro. Polk was iniiated, passed and raised in 1820 in Colmbia Lodge 21, Columbia, TN. He was Junior Deacon in 1820, then Senior Warden of that same Lodge. He was also a member of Mark and Royal Arch. (The Learning Kingdom; Freemasonry: A Celebration of the Craft)

Bro. Thurgood Marshall,- first African-American justice on the U.S. Supreme Court

Bro. Thurgood Marshall's grandfather was a former slave who fought on behalf of the Union Army during the Civil War. His mother was among the first women to graduate from Columbia Teacher's College. And Bro. Marshall himself was a pioneer, becoming the first African-American on the Supreme Court of the United States in 1967. During a lengthy legal career with the NAACP, Bro. Marshall gained significant experience arguing cases before the court on which he one day would serve. In the 32 cases where he was called upon to argue on behalf of defendants or plaintiffs, he was victorious 29 times. Perhaps the most famous of those victories was 1954's Brown vs. The Board of Education, which ultimately resulted in the forced desegregation of schools across America. While on the Supreme Court, Bro. Marshall was often at odds with conservative justices. He became known for his eloquent dissent and sharp wit. Upon his retirement in 1993, he was replaced by Clarence Thomas.

Bro. George M. Cohan inspired the movie

At the age of 16, Bro. George M. Cohan published his first song, "Why Did Nellie Leave Home?" It was his first of hundreds of tunes, some of which would become standards. Bro. Cohan's song list includes popular tunes like "Give My Regards to Broadway" and "Mary's a Grand Old Name," as well as such patriotic anthems as "You're a Grand Old Flag" and "Over There." Twenty-three years later, just before America's entry into World War II, Congress authorized Bro. Franklin Roosevelt to present Bro. Cohan with a gold medal. In addition to song writing, Bro. Cohan was a playwright, producer, and actor. He appeared in "Ah Wilderness" and "I'd Rather Be Right," and wrote plays including "The Little Millionaire," "Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford," and "The Merry Malones." He was immortalized in 1942 in Hollywood's "Yankee Doodle Dandy," and in 1968 in the Broadway musical "George M!" Bro. Cohan was raised in New York city's Pacific Lodge No. 233 in 1905. He was also an active Shrine Mason. (The learning Kindom)