“B” Proficiency Exams to be Conducted at Grand Lodge

Kansas Master Proficiency Pin

Live-blogging from the Area/District deputy Orientation in Salina, it is just announced that “B” proficiency examinations will be held at the Annual Communication in Salina, March 18 – 19, 2011.

In response to questions from the assembled district and area deputies, DGM Tracy Bloom and GSW Don Newman announced that brethren wishing to be examined for the first stage of GL Kansas proficiency should appear at the annual communication prepared to complete the examination.

The announcement was prompted by concerns from the floor that the mechanics for earning “B” proficiency cards are very difficult for those brethren who belong to lodges that have no proficiency card holders to conduct the examination of new proficiency candidates. Kansas currently offers B, A, Master and Unlimited proficiencies in ritual work

“We’ll work out the details,” said GSW Newman, “and make sure that we have people on hand to conduct the examinations.”  Newman said that in times past, proficiency cards were awarded at the annual meeting, and that “with brethren asking us for help, we need to step up and provide it.”

Brethren wishing to be examined for “B” card proficiency at Grand Lodge should email Grand Lodge using the contact form on the Grand Secretary’s page, providing their name, lodge name and contact information (email address, phone number) to reserve a time for the examination. Only “B” card examinations will be held at the Annual Communication.

At present, time and day of the examinations are to be determined. Information will be posted in this space as scheduling issues are resolved, and brethren emailing Grand Lodge will receive confirmation details as they are finalized.


Masonry in the News: Rock Musicians Join Mass. Lodge

Chris Hoddap’s blog Freemasonry for Dummies – a veritable clearinghouse for Masonic news worldwide – takes note of a story in the Boston Phoenix, an indie-urban entertainment newspaper (similar to Kansas city’s Pitch Weekly), “How the Boston rock scene grew up, got real jobs, and became Freemasons?” by reporter Eugenia Williamson.

Williams looked into some of the members of Amicable Lodge (which does not have a number) of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and found that its membership are not old, out of touch men, but former rock and rollers.

The Masons of Amicable Lodge have tattoos curling out from under their button-down shirts. They wear giant rings and waist aprons that look like oversize satin envelopes. They wear ties and medals and amulets. They carry staffs. Each month, they gather to practice secret rituals in Porter Square.

Once, they played in Boston bands like Slapshot, Crash and Burn, Sam Black Church, Victory at Sea, the Men, and Cradle to the Grave. Back then, none of them would have dreamed of joining the Masons. Masonry — a fraternal society that dates back to the 1700s — has not, heretofore, been associated with rock and roll.

But people get older and settle down. They get married. They have kids. They get jobs. They join the Masons.

The article alludes to the seemingly poor fit of rock and rollers with the ideals of Freemasonry, but one of the lodge members disagreed.

“I think a lot of people’s misconception of the fraternity is that it’s a bunch of stodgy old men,” says Master Mason J.R. Roach. Roach, 41, is a big dude with black hair and a couple of tattoos that he keeps covered up. Once he was the drummer for Boston stalwarts Sam Black Church and played with KISS, Ted Nugent, Motörhead, Black Sabbath, and Dio.

“There’s a saying in the ceremony that basically says the organization will not regard any man for his wealth or appearance. So it’s a very interesting mix of people. You go to Lodge and the reverend of your church could be sitting next to a guy with really long hair, and nobody cares. Everybody’s considered equal.”

Taken as a whole, the article portrays Freemasonry in a very positive light.  As Hodapp notes, many of the brothers featured in this story were also the subject of a story – along similar lines – that appeared in the Boston Herald in 2008, which also portrayed the fraternity in a positive light.

Stodgy lodges, traditional initiations and secret handshakes would seem to be the antithesis of punk rock.But a diverse group of Hub rockers are embracing centuries-old fraternal ideals to become the new face of the Freemasons in Boston.

“It’s not a religion, and it’s definitely not a cult,” said J.R. Roach, drummer for Sam Black Church and bassist for The Men, who also is master of the Masons’ Cambridge Amicable Lodge. “Everything is supposed to be dignified. There’s no hazing. We’re all brothers. It’s a movement for guys trying to find a deeper meaning in their lives.”

A new breed of Freemasons has surfaced locally, filling seats occupied for decades by community leaders, politicians and executives. Some join because their fathers or grandfathers were Masons. Others come for the male camaraderie or the intellectual challenge. And some simply want to get out of the house and go somewhere other than a rock club.

“It’s kind of like a history class that no one else can take,” said Dave Norton, drummer for Victory at Sea and The Men. He believes his membership in the fraternal organization will be especially rewarding when he tours Europe later this year.

“I can go anywhere in the world and find a brother,” he said.

A visit to Amicable Lodge’s web site will confirm that it continues to defy stereotypes – its web page is clean, well designed and timely updated, and the webmaster features the Boston Phoenix story front and center on the lodge blog.


Kansas Mason Online Poll

The printed version of the February 2011 issue has been completed ahead of schedule, with delivery expected before the first of February, thanks to a lot of hard work by the Kansas Mason staff, including Howard Duncan, Chet Peterson and Nolan Sump. The online edition is available now.

Since February 2010, the newsletter has undergone substantial changes. Are we living up to your expectations? Be sure to check it out and give us your feedback.


Winter 2011 Book Reviews

AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE KNIGHTS HOSPITALLER

By Stephan Dafoe

There are several good reasons for buying this book, but searching for a connection between the Knights Hospitaller and Freemasonry is not one of them.  Author Dafoe presents an extremely detailed history of the Knights Hospitaller from their formal creation by Pope Paschal II in the year 1113 [six years before formation of the Knights Templar] to the present day.  The Order’s mission was originally to  care of the sick and infirm within hospitals (it continues to this day), but from 1128 to 1798 it also included the militaristic crusading aspect.  That ended with Napoleon’s taking of Malta and two years later losing it to the British Empire.

The book gives a well developed view of the intricacies within the competing military, religious, and political powers in the medieval era.  The cruelty committed in the name of religion should inspire our present generation to a passion for freedom of religion.  Decapitated heads were flung at the enemy by catapult and cannon.  Surrender meant unarmed death or, if lucky, life as a galley slave chained to a rowing bench.

Dafoe is an excellent researcher and writer, qualities which make the book somewhat of a tome.  If you find that you do not want to read it all, it has some value as a beautifully illustrated coffee-table decoration.  The greatest value of the book is impressing upon our present humankind the true ugliness and tenacity of religious warfare.

Reviewed by J. Howard Duncan, Lawrence Lodge No.6

Ian Allan Publishing

160 pages

Paperback ($22.90)

THE DIRECTOR OF CEREMONIES

By Richard Johnson

The author surely had no expectation that his just released book The Director of Ceremonies, published by Lewis Masonic in England, would be of interest to Kansas Masons.

It was written as a very specific guide to the office of Director of Ceremonies in British blue lodge Freemasonry. We have nothing like this office in Kansas as it performs duties which we have spread over the positions of Master, Secretary, Senior Deacon, Junior Warden, Tyler, Stewards, and Coach. In effect, the British Director of Ceremonies is the Manager of lodge proceedings and meetings. Why should such a narrowly devoted book about something we don’t have in Kansas be of interest to Kansas Masons?

It serves as a highly interesting voyeur experience for the Master Mason curious about how English Masonry differs from Kansas Masonry. In the UK, the Director of Ceremonies is almost invariably a Past Master and a highly accomplished ritualist. Johnson is no exception to these basic characteristics, and he is a skillful writer with an entertaining sense of humor. How can you avoid an inward chuckle when reading his remarks about the Master splitting his trousers at an elevating moment in the third degree?

Perhaps the most singular distinction between American and English Masonry is formality and recognition regarding Provincial and Senior Grand Officers in Great Britain. These dignitaries, several of whom are usually present at any given meeting, have specific seats determined by rank and are given specific formal salutes by all except higher ranking officers. The English lodge attire is much more formalized, including the wearing of white gloves. Many of their meetings include wine toasts starting with to the Queen and the Craft. After the meeting, there is a bar and sometimes a meal. The English also have some specialized blue lodges known as Emulation Lodges which feature accomplished ritualists and do lengthy full ceremonies.

The book price is clearly a bargain compared to round-trip airfare. Even if you intend to visit an English lodge, buy the book as trip preparation.

Reviewed by: J. Howard Duncan, Lawrence Lodge No. 6

Lewis Masonic

80 pages

Paperback ($16.95)

THE MEANING OF MASONRY

By Albert Pike

While not a recent book of this century, or even the last, The Meaning of Masonry is a book that should hold a prominent location in the library or any Mason who seeks deeper meaning in the philosophy of the Fraternity.  As Pike notes, “Masonry is not speculative, but operative.  Good masonry is to do the work of life, its practical work is natural life.”

Albert Pike was requested to expound on his philosophy of Masonry at the meeting of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana in 1858.  At that time, several of the lodges and appendant bodies were in conflict with each other over who can best work and best agree.  This slim volume (44 pages) reproduces his lecture to the assembled Masonic bodies of Louisiana, describing his vision of Masonic fraternity in hopes of mitigating the acrimony.

Of singular interest to this reviewer was the timing of this seminal document relative to the publication, thirteen years later, of Pike’s masterwork, Morals and Dogma.  There is enough overlap between the morals and philosophy expressed in The Meaning of Masonry that it could be considered an outline or executive summary of the later treatise.  Every grand thought about the valor, honor, compassion, faith, hope, charity, and altruism that should be the mark of every good man and Mason is expressed by this book and elaborated upon by the later ritualistic work of the Scottish Rite.

The book was written for the Mason of the mid-nineteenth century, and it expresses the Masonic enlightenment beliefs of the mid-18th century, while remaining relevant to the Mason of the 21st century.  While written for Masons, it should be read by every man who thinks of petitioning the Fraternity, for it clearly and succinctly describes the reality of Masonic thought – stressing virtue, patriotism, liberty, fraternity, and equality in equal measure as the foundation of the Fraternity.

Reviewed by: J. Howard Duncan, Lawrence Lodge No. 6

Cornerstone Book Publishers, published for the Louisiana Lodge of Research

Paperback ($11.00), Kindle ($5.99)

If you are a Kansas Mason and would like to publish a book review in the Kansas Mason, please use the contact form to send a query to the editor telling about the book, and the length of your review (in words). We will respond to all queries promptly.


Annual Communication Info Now Online

The 155th Annual Communication will be held at the Salina Masonic Center, 336 South Santa Fe, Salina, Kansas on March 18 -19, 2011. Registration paperwork and proposed by-laws for the session are now online.

Accessible by members in the secure membership area (Membership/Official notices) , the registration form  may be downloaded, filled out, and mailed to Grand Lodge at the address provided. To obtain your password, contact your DDGM or ADGM. A hard copy of the registration form will also be included in the next issue of the Kansas Mason.

In future years,  the form will be integrated into the website as an electronic registration, eliminating the need to download, print and mail.

The by-law proposals are also incorporated as a .pdf file in the membership area (Membership/Official notices).  A hard copy of the proposed by-laws will also be included in the next issue of the Kansas Mason.

As a reminder, Article V of the Constitution states that all past masters of Kansas lodges and all currently serving, elected and appointed officers of a Kansas lodge (in good standing) are eligible to vote at the Grand Lodge session.

Please fill out your registration paperwork and plan to attend to make your voice heard.


Annual Communication to Feature Historical Apron Presentation

Bro. Patrick Craddock

Noted expert on Masonic aprons and regalia, author and historian, Bro. Patrick Craddock of Conlegium Ritus Austeri No. 779, Nashville, Tennessee will be speaking at the 155th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Kansas in Salina on March 18, 2011.
Craddock, who received his Master of Arts degree (Middle Tenn. State Univ. ’92) and Master of Philosophy ( University College of Wales – Aberystwyth ’01) in history, is a contributing author to Encyclopedia of Tennessee History, C. Van West, ed., as well as a past-curator of

exhibits at the Carter House Museum, Franklin, Tennessee. Initiated, passed and raised in O.D. Smith Lodge, No. 33, Oxford, Mississippi, he is a life member Hiram Lodge No. 7, Franklin, Tennessee and the sitting J.W. of Conlegium Ritus Austeri No. 779 in Nashville ( as well as a charter member of same). Additionally, he is the owner of The Craftsman’s Apron, manufacturers and providers of the highest quality Masonic regalia extant.

Custom-made apron created by Craddock

Bro. Craddock will present one of four Masonic education sessions during the Annual Communication.

His talk,  “Properly Clothed & Vouched For: Historical Masonic Aprons & Regalia” focuses on the development of the Masonic apron from its origins to the present day.

According to Craddock, Masons traditionally were responsible for their aprons, sometimes making them themselves, or crafted by a family member, and they brought them to lodge with them. Additionally, many of these aprons were decorated with masonic symbolism from the simple to the intricate.

“It’s a comparatively recent development that Masonic lodges supply cloth aprons to their members and guests,” he said, “but it hasn’t always been that way.”

Craddock’s presentation will trace the operative origins of the the Masonic garment and other Masonic regalia through the 18th and 19th centuries, showing hand-crafted and machine-made aprons from America and Europe. His presentation – the time to be determined – will be open to Masons and their ladies.


Grand Lodge 155th Annual Communication March 18 – 19

Brethren,

To remind you, the 155th Grand Communication of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Kansas will take place March 18 and 19, 2011 in Salina.  As I have highlighted when visiting with you this year, the Council of Administration has discussed at great length the importance of bringing Masonic education into the Annual Communication.  This year we will provide Masonic education sessions that are sure to interest all Masons, plus we have made an effort to bring in exciting and talented entertainment for the All-Masonic Banquet.

To give you a brief glimpse, there will be four (4) educational sessions that will run concurrently.  We plan to run each session twice so everyone attending will have an opportunity to attend two of the four.  I strongly encourage each lodge to bring more than one representative to get the benefit of all four sessions.  The sessions are as follows:

·         How To Conduct A Thorough And Proper Investigation

RW Daren L. Kellerman, Delphian No. 44

·         Masonic History and Symbolism

Bro. Patrick Craddock, Conlegium Ritus Austeri No. 779, Nashville, Tennessee

·         Build Your Lodge’s Strategic Plan

RW Rick Reichert, Hancock No. 311 & RW Robert Nelson, Emporia No. 12

·         By Virtue of the Letter G: Geeks, Gigabytes & Gmail; Better Masonic Communication Through Technology

W Michael Halleran, Emporia No. 12.

Our All-Masonic Banquet will mainly consist of a brief welcome, then entertainment that most everyone should thoroughly enjoy.  No other business or speeches will be planned for the evening.  This will be an evening of good food and entertainment.

Bro. Randy Riggle will be bringing his Las Vegas quality show to Salina for that Friday evening.  The nationally touring production of “NOSTALGIA” takes you down memory lane as we remember the times and people who changed our lives. You’ll be taken back to that fateful day at Pearl Harbor and travel through the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s until the first steps are taken on the lunar surface. Nationally touring stand-up comedian Randy Riggle will be your tour guide on a trip filled with songs and laughs in this 90 minute one-man show.

Randy entertains his audiences with stories, gun slinging, dancing, and pantomime.  His observational humor about the era is complimented with over 50 impersonations and a special tribute to veterans. The entire revue is backed with a multi-media slide presentation.

Please consider joining us for an evening of nostalgic memories of a by-gone era.  Check this website www.nostalgiashow.com for information regarding this performance.  I would also note that Randy is very proud to be a 25 year member of our fraternity in Pittsburgh, PA.

I look forward to seeing you at our Annual Communication.

Fraternally,

Kent


GL Indiana Airs Online Masonic Education

The Grand Lodge of Indiana has launched a new online Masonic education effort.  Beginning January 1, 2011, and continuing through December 31, 2011, The Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry 2011 Lecture Series provides – free of charge – videotaped lectures from some of Freemasonry’s most prominent scholars on the history of the fraternity from the Middle Ages to today.

Each presentation is broadcast live on Saturdays at 7 p.m. CST and stored online for two weeks.  Viewers who tune in live on the web will have an opportunity to join with the speakers in a live conversation on a related Facebook page .

The full lecture schedule may be found online, but highlights are here:

01-15-11 The Evolution of Scottish Freemasonry Robert L.D. Cooper, PM
01-22-11 Formation of the United Grand Lodge of England John Hamill, PM

02-12-11 Evolution of the Ritual Roger Van Gorden, PGM, Indiana
02-26-11 Why “Ancients & Moderns” ? Trevor Stewart, PM

03-05-11 The Grand Lodges in British Colonies, 1850-1900 Dr. Jim Daniel, PJGW, UGLE
03-19-11 A Vast Chain Extending Round the Whole Globe: Freemasonry and Empire Prof. Jessica L. Harland Jacobs

04-09-11 The Royal Secret in the U.S. before 1801 Dr. S. Brent Morris, PM
04-30-11 The Social Evolution of American Freemasonry Mark Tabbert, PM

05-07-11 Female Freemasonry Dr. Andreas Onnerfors
05-14-11 Why Brothers Killed Brothers in the American Revolution Prof. Steven Bullock
06-18-11 The Catholic Church & Freemasonry Michel L. Brodsky, PM

07-02-11 The Doctrine of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction Grayson W. Mayfield III, DDGM, SC
10-15-11 Part 1: Prince Hall Masonry Ralph McNeal, MWPHGL, Arizona
11-05-11 Hitler & Freemasonry Aaron Kornblum, MM

11-26-11 Is Freemasonry a Religion? Dr. Anthony Fels
12-03-11 God and Geometry Howard Coop, PM
12-10-11 An Historical Outline of Freemasons on the Internet Trevor W. McKeown, PM


Jury Returns Verdict in Favor of GL WV

In the culmination of the much-anticipated lawsuit brought by expelled PGM Frank Haas against the Grand Lodge of West Virginia and two former Grand Masters, the jury sided with the defendants yesterday, and refused to grant Haas damages for breach of contract or defamation.

Charleston Gazette story here.