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By Nelson King, FPS
I confess that I am a Born Again, Fundamentalist, Freemason. Now before you have a cardiac arrest, or a stroke, let me explain what a Born Again, Fundamentalist, Freemason is.
I used to be a very [for want of a better word] liberal Mason. I am now a very Conservative or Traditionalist, Freemason. Therefore, I am Born Again.
By Fundamentalist, I mean that I believe that no one has a right to be a Freemason.
I believe those who want to be Freemasons must be good and true men, free born and of a mature and discreet age and sound judgment, no bondsmen, no women, no immoral or scandalous men, only good men of good report.
I believe that a man who wants to be a Freemason must believe in the existence of God, and take his Obligation on a Volume of The Sacred Law of his choice and that he owes a duty to that God and to his fellow men no matter what their creed, color, or religion.
I believe that a Freemason is obliged to obey the moral and civil law.
I believe that a man's religion or mode of worship should not exclude him from the Order of Freemasonry, provided he also believes in the existence of a Supreme Being and that Supreme Being will punish vice and reward virtue.
I believe that a Freemason is bound never to act against the dictates of his conscience.
I believe that Freemasonry is the center of union between honest men and the happy means of conciliating friendship amongst those who must otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance.
I believe a Freemason's Lodge is the temple of peace, harmony, and brotherly love; nothing is allowed to enter this Lodge which has the remotest tendency to disturb the quietude of its pursuits.
I believe all preferment among Masons is grounded upon real worth and personal merit only, therefore no Brother should be passed chair to chair, whether it is in a Lodge or Grand Lodge, just because he knows the right people or had held the previous officer for one year. no Grand Master, Master, or Warden is chosen by seniority, but only for his merit.
I believe that there is nothing wrong with Freemasonry, as laid down for our instruction in our Ancient Charges.
I am a Born Again Fundamentalist Freemason
This file is copyright (c) The Philalethes Society and all rights including any redistribution rights are reserved by the copyright holder. Permission to quote from, redistribute or to otherwise use these materials must be obtained from the copyright holder directly by contacting The Philalethes, Nelson King, FPS, Editor 2 Knockbolt Crescent, Agincourt Ontario Canada, M1S 2P6, Tel: 416-293-8071 Fax: 416-293-8634 or CIS: 71202,22 or firstname.lastname@example.org
By: H. Edward Struble, MPS
My fundamentalism goes back fifty years. I have believed all those years in the true definition of fundamental. i.e.: of ground work; going to the root of the mater, serving as a base of fundamentalism. My fundamentalism has served as my base and has contributed to the solid foundation of my beliefs.
I am not alone in my life as a fundamentalist, I am but one member of a group that numbers in the millions. Our fundamentalist stand is not a recent development, its origin is hidden in the dust of history and since then its basic beliefs have been handed down and been made stronger by each generation that has been drawn to our teachings.
We are dedicated to upholding The Moral Law and allow none of our group to breach it without severe reprimand. Our belief in Christ does not permit us to disparage or ridicule the believers of a different definition of the Supreme Being. We have no need to establish differences in order to attract attention or to gain new members. We seek to convert no one to our fundamental beliefs. We welcome all believers with open arms and demand only that once they join our group they will strive to emulate the examples set by the ancient members. Our belief is that Gods love pours from an everlasting fountain of refreshment sometimes referred to as the Bible, the Torah, or the Koran. Our fundamental stand is sometimes criticized by the uninformed, the ill informed and practicing bigots. We are encouraged that such criticism has proven to strengthen our beliefs and brought our members closer together. Our fundamentalism is a no nonsense dedication to love God, love of family, and to love of Country. Our only intolerance is the natural intolerance with those who deliver the untruths about any of the vital beliefs of our group. We are well known as defenders of Truth. We neither need nor wish to set any one group against another as being the devils handyman, nor an example of witchcraft, or to scare the uninformed with unsubstantiated and imaginary charges.
We have no need to berate anyone or any group in order to produce wealth for someone's extravagant life style and behavior. We have not generated a program that is designed to give some individual power, political or otherwise, in order to feed that persons ego. We have no need to raise funds in order to finance the distribution of untruths, or messages of fear or hate.
Any funds we gather from our members are used to support numerous Charities on a continuing basis. A great deal of that charitable work is quiet charity done without fan-fare or publicity. Not seeking recognition, only the inner satisfaction of knowing we have worked in such a way as to be in keepings with the Lord's plan for all people.
Our fundamental group does not seek to convert nor to proselyte in order to increase membership. We have attract new believers by setting an example that others find very close to their personal beliefs. Above all we are pledged to the preservation of the truth in all things and in all teachings.
If in your travels you are ever questioned about our group keep in mind that each of us has pledged our love, or treasure, and our search for truth in service to all mankind.
We are committed to the belief in Brotherhood of man, to the Belief of a Supreme Being, and a life after death.
I AM A FREEMASON!!
This file is copyright (c) The Philalethes Society and all rights including any redistribution rights are reserved by the copyright holder. Permission to quote from, redistribute or to otherwise use these materials must be obtained from the copyright holder directly by contacting The Philalethes, Nelson King, FPS, Editor 2 Knockbolt Crescent, Agincourt Ontario Canada, M1S 2P6, Tel: 416-293-8071 Fax: 416-293-8634 or CIS: 71202,22 or email@example.com
By: J.C. Montgomery, Jr.
I'M GLAD MY SON belongs to DeMolay. No, I didn't covet his membership for the pin he could wear nor for the achievement awards he might receive from the Order; neither did I scheme for the social outlet it offers him although any of the foregoing advantages might be desirable. Rather I'm happy John's in DeMolay because it sets him on the path of manliness in which I hope he'll walk all the days of his life.
What are the benefits of DeMolay for him? For one thing, when he was initiated into the Order he entered a far-reaching fellowship. Some three million men and boys have passed through the ranks of this fraternity or now hold membership in Chapters all across the world. In that number are some who are leaders in industry, the professions, the entertainment world, and the armed forces. But beyond those well-known names are the many, many thousands of former members who chief contributions to life are solid citizenship and upright character. Yes, John need not be ashamed of the company he keeps in DeMolay.Then he learns some great lessons in DeMolay. In the two basic degrees he is confronted with some of life's most stirring truths. The importance of loyalty to God, to home and country is emphasized to him. No one, young or old, can ever see the Nine o'Clock Interpolation without his heart being stirred: and any one who hears the Flower Talk will resolve to be a better person. Through the moving drama of the DeMolay degree he learns of one of history's most noble figures; and he learns the lesson of fidelity to freedom even though it might mead death itself. All through his life the DeMolay will be brought face o face with these challenges to which he first dedicated himself at the alter of his Order.
My son has found wonderful opportunities in DeMolay. He is encouraged to participate in various Chapter activities for which Merit Bars are awarded as a sign of achievement. In this way the DeMolay may pursue his interests in the fields of his choice, whether it be civic service, athletics, music, religion, visitation or dramatics. No talent is despised, and each may find its use in the service of DeMolay. When a years membership is completed, the DeMolay is eligible for the Representative DeMolay Award. And then should he aspire after further recognition and earn it, there are the Distinguished Service Awards and the coveted Chevalier degree.
Further, I'm glad my son's a DeMolay not only for the opportunities but also for the responsibilities which it places upon him. He must learn the twin lessons of being a follower and being a leader. He is taught the duty of charity, and he learns the practice of compassion exercised in works of mercy to others less fortunate. He begins to comprehend that he is "brother's keeper" not only in the easy fellowship of the Order but also in larger citizenship.
Likewise DeMolay brings my son into contact with dedicated Freemasons. Although he is told at the outset that the fraternity is not a Junior Masonic organization, he also learns that a responsible Masonic group sponsors the local Chapter and that the adult Councilors are Master Masons who give a great deal of free time, talent and money for the good of DeMolay. Life-long friendship will ripen from some of the association he has with these Masons: and many a DeMolay is led by these experiences to petition a Masonic Lodge for membership because of the inspiration he has received from these fine Masonic leaders and the admiration he felt for them.
Perhaps it's selfish, but any man has personal satisfaction when his son's in DeMolay. To be sure, he was of an age to join (DeMolays must be between the age of 14 and 21 to petition). But there are more important requirements. He had to state his belief in God, and he had to gain the approval of an investigation committee as to his good character and reputation. When he was initiated, proficiency work was required for the degrees. All of this meant that he as an individual had to measure up to certain minimum standards of character and work; and in this he did not fail.
As an organization DeMolay is quite young, being founded in 1919 by the late Frank S. land of Kansas City, Missouri. But there is something timeless in its stately ritual and in its concern for youth believing that in them lies the foundation of future human welfare. Never let us despise or neglect them. Long years ago a disciple saw the possibilities in such youth and presented a youngster to the Master of Men, "There is a lad here." In DeMolay these bright hopes for these lads are nurtured and cherished and guided. What was said of Sir Launfal?
"Tall, and shining, and fair, and straight,
As he stood by the Beautiful Gate."
This honored Order will guide my son that way. That's why I'm glad he's a DeMolay.
M - When he can look out over the rivers, the hills, and the far horizon with a profound sense of his own littleness in the vast scheme of things, and yet have faith, hope and courage--which is the root of every virtue.
A - When he knows that down in his heart every man is as noble as himself, and seeks to know, to forgive, and to love his fellowmen.
S - When he knows how to sympathize with men in their sorrows, yea, even in their sins--knowing that each man fights a hard fight against many odds.
T - When he has learned how to make friends and to keep them, and above all how to keep friends with himself.
E - When he loves flowers, can hunt the birds without a gun, and feels the thrill of an old forgotten joy when he hears the laugh of a little child.
R - When he can be happy and high minded amid the meaner drudgeries of life.
: - When star-crowned trees, and the glint of sunlight on flowing waters, subdue him like the thought of one much loved and long dead.
M - When no voice of distress reaches his ears in vain, and no hand seeks his aid without response.
A - When he finds good in every faith that helps any man to lay hold of divine things and sees majestic meanings in life, whatever the name of the faith may be.
S - When he can look into a wayside puddle and see something beyond sin.
O - When he knows how to pray how to love how to hope.
N - When he has kept faith with himself, with his fellowman, with his God; in his hands a sword for evil, in his heart a bit of a song--glad to live, but not afraid to die! Such a man has found the only real secret of Masonry, and the one which it is trying to give all the world.
---Joseph Fort Newton---
When i tried to find out the answer several years ago..I kept getting the standard definition of the square of the Hypotenuse being equal to the sum of the square of the two sides..and not being a mathematician it didn't help much.
Then an old Past Grand Master explained it to me in a way that makes a little sense to those of us who don't do calculus in our heads.
The 47th problem was supposed to be one of the basic secrets of a Master Mason. The explanation and use is really simple. If you are in charge of constructing a cathedral in "the good ol' days" before modern surveying equipment, the first thing you want to be absolutely sure of is that you are truly laying our and building square. You don't want to go down in history as the boob who made the lop-sided cathedral.
If you lay out a square, let us say 100 feet by 100 feet, (substitute meters if you want) you need some way to be sure that you really have square corners. So you then run a line between the opposite corners (creating a huge X in the center of the square).
If your work is laid out right, the distance from one of the points of the square to the exact middle of the X will be 70.71 feet...(not quite 70 feet 9 inches).
This is the 47th problem of Euclid: the sum of the square of the Hypotenuse of a right triangle (the line from the corner of the square to the center) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. To get THIS right triangle, you draw one more line, from the center of one of the sides to the center of the X.
The line from the center of the X to the long side should be 50 feet and the distance from THAT point to the outside corner should be 50 feet (remember this is the middle of the 100 food outside edge). 50 feet squared equals 2500 plus the 2500 from other side squared is 5000 feet. The square root of 5000 is 70.71....Proof your work is square.
By Nelson King
The Philalethes, February 1998
I am a Master Mason. Try me and prove me.
No, I don't have a Due Guard. What's a Due Guard? I have a dues card!
I don't know what you mean by Blue Lodge. I belong to a Craft Lodge.
You say my signs in all the Degrees seem strange to you. Your signs are just as confusing to me.
Landmarks? No, my Grand Lodge does not have any Landmarks ancient or other wise. Working Tools? Yes we have Working Tools.
What are they? In the First Degree they are the 24 Inch Gauge, the Common Gavel and the Chisel. In the Second Degree they are the Square, the Level and the Plumb Rule. In the Third Degree they are the Skirret, the Pencil and the Compasses.
What is a Skirret? Well a Skirret is an implement which acts on a center pin from which a line is drawn out to mark the ground much like a chalk line
No there is not a Trowel to be seen anywhere in my Lodge.
Yes we have Volume of the Sacred Law.
What passage is it opened at? Well in the First Degree it is opened at Ruth IV verse 7. Why? Because it tells of Boaz and being slipshod. In the Second Degree the Volume of the Sacred Law is opened at Judges XII verse 6, because it tells us of the password in the Second Degree and of the forty and two thousand that were slain. In the Third Degree the Volume of the Sacred Law is opened at Ecclesiastes XII, you know the passage "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth." No, I have never heard of the Volume of the Sacred Law being opened at Psalms 133.
Jewels? Yes we have Jewels. We have Moveable and Immoveable Jewels.
What are they? My Moveable Jewels are the Square, the Level and the Plumb Rule, and my Immoveable Jewels are the Rough and Perfect Ashlars and the Tracing Board. Yes! I am sure. The Moveable Jewels are moveable because they are worn by the Master and his Wardens and are transferrable to their successors at Installation. The Immoveable Jewels are immoveable because they lie open in the Lodge in all Degrees for the Brethren to moralize on. I understand they used be to your Moveable and Immovable Jewels, that is until the Baltimore Convention of 1843. And we also have a Tracing Board which is for the Worshipful Master to lay lines on and draw designs on.
No, I have never heard of a Trestle Board.
Who wears the Hat in my Lodge? No one of course. The only head coverings allowed are those worn for religious proposes, such as a Yarmulka. Yes that is right my Master does not wear a hat. Why? Because our Lodges have been consecrated with Wine, Corn, Oil and prayers to the Almighty, consecrated to the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God, and you do not cover up your head or consecrated ground, unless it is a part of your religion, it is like being in Church.
Yes, in my Lodge I can walk in front of the Master, between him and the Altar which, by the way, is in the center of the room, always moving from left to right, turning at right angles at each corner. It is called Squaring the Lodge and dates back to the time when what we now know as floor cloths were drawn on the floor with chalk. You Squared the Lodge so that you would not erase the chalk marks.
Yes, we have pillars in my Lodge. No they do not have celestial and terrestrial globes. They are adorned with chapiters, and these chapiters or bowls are enriched with net-work, lily-work and pomegranates. Network from the connection of its meshes, denotes unity, lily-work from its whiteness denotes purity and pomegranates from the exuberance of their seeds denote plenty.
Yes we have the Letter G. No it is not suspended in the East. The letter G, denoting GOD, is suspended in the center of the Lodge Room. Why? Because it says so in a part of the closing ceremony in the Second Degree. You know, where the Worshipful Master says.
Worshipful Master:"Bro. Junior Warden, in this character what have you discovered?"
Junior Warden:"A sacred symbol, Worshipful Sir."
Worshipful Master:"Bro. Senior Warden, where is it situated?"
Senior Warden:"In the center of the building, Worshipful Sir."
Worshipful Master:"Bro. Junior Warden, to whom does it allude?"
Junior Warden:"To God, The Grand Geometrician of The Universe, Worshipful Sir."
No, we don't have Stated Meetings. Yes, we conduct Lodge business. It is done during our Regular Meeting. No as I said we don't have Stated Meetings, we only have Regular and Emergent Meetings. What's an Emergent Meeting? An Emergent Meeting is any meeting called by the Worshipful Master that is not a Regular Meeting. No, we don't do our Lodge Business in the Third Degree. We do all the Lodge Work in the Entered Apprentice Degree the only reason to go to the Fellowcraft or Master Mason Degree is to confer those degrees. Lodge is always Opened in the First Degree and is always closed in the First Degree. If you have just raised a Candidate to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason, you must close in the Third Degree, then the Second Degree and finally in the First Degree.
Our Entered Apprentices are expected to take part in all voting, serve on committees, learn and perform ritual work in the Degree that they have, and are considered full Masons even entitled to Masonic Funerals. And yes you also used to do all your Lodge work in the First Degree. Again this change was due to the Baltimore Convention in 1843.
No. I have never heard of a Middle Chamber, but we have one ceremony. It is not a Degree. It is only opened after the Third Degree and only on Installation Night. It is called the Board of Installed Masters, where only Installed Masters and Past Masters are permitted, with the exception of the Master Elect. Here, the Master Elect takes a further Obligation as regards the Secrets of the Master's chair. Here he receives the Grip and Word of an Installed Master and the sign and salutation of a Master of Arts and Sciences. He is then Installed in the Chair of King Solomon. The Board is then closed. All Master Masons are invited back to the Lodge Room. The new Master is then presented to the Master Masons, and the Master is given an explanation of the Working Tools of the Third Degree. The Lodge is then Closed in the Third Degree and all Fellowcraft are invited back to the Lodge Room, where they are presented to the new Master, and he is given an explanation of the Working tools of the Second Degree. The Lodge is then closed in the Second Degree and all Masons are invited back into the Lodge Room. Once again all are presented and the working tools explained. Then all other Officers are invested as Officers of the Lodge. The Worshipful Master is the only one who is installed.
Can I give you the Master Mason's word? Yes I can, but it is really two words and can be only given on The Five Points of Fellowship and in a whisper. Yes in a whisper not a in low breathe and yes it is two words.
Am I a Master Mason? Try me and prove me.
I am a part of a world wide group of Masons whose ritual is called Emulation Ritual. In The Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario our Ritual is called "The Work" and it is an Emulation Type Ritual.
Emulation is one of the oldest post Union workings. It may well be the oldest, but in view of rival claims and in the absence of complete proof, this question cannot be answered with certainty. There are two points about Emulation that seem to put it into a class of its own:
(a) As a Lodge of Instruction, it goes back to 1823, with continuous existence since then.
(b) It is today the best organized of all the "named" rituals, having had a governing body to 'protect' it throughout its history, and in that respect, I believe it far outstrips all other "named" forms.
Bro. C. F. W. Dyer, in his, Emulation-- A Ritual To Remember, which is the standard history of the Emulation Lodge of Improvement, published in connection with its sesquicentennial in 1973, shows that the founders experienced difficulties in its formation, because Lodges of Instruction at that time had to be sponsored by a Lodge. The Emulation founders had decided that their Lodge of Instruction was to be for Master Masons only (as it is today), and the Lodges which were invited to act as sponsors were not ready to accept that restriction. Eventually, the Emulation Lodge of Instruction was sponsored, on 27 November 1823, by the Lodge of Hope, then No. 7, whose Master Joseph Dennis, was one of Emulation's original members.
Is Emulation the original or oldest form now worked in England? It is certainly one of the oldest, but it would be impossible to say whether it is the "original." As Bro. Dyer explains:
No official record has ever been found of the Lodge of Reconciliation Ritual that was approved by the Grand Lodge.
Emulation is probably as near to the forms then prescribed as any of the workings surviving from that period. Its principal virtue is that it has enjoyed a proper continuity of control of its forms ever since its foundation.
In England in 1813 the two rival Grand Lodges, the Ancients and the Moderns amalgamated after sixty years of savage hostility, and formed the United Grand Lodge of England. After the Union, which is post-Union, the ritual was totally revised to make it acceptable to both parties. That is when many of the distinctive portions of the pre-Union ritual were jettisoned. That is when the two adopted substitute words came into use; one belonged to the Ancients and one to the Moderns, and they could not agree which was right, so they kept both. By the way the Ancients were the modern group and the moderns were the oldest group, but that is a different story. And that is why my ritual differs so much from yours. That and the Baltimore Convention of 1843 when you decided to do all your work in the Third Degree, and changed the Moveable Jewels to the Immovable Jewels, in order that you could keep out all Cowans and Eavesdroppers. This National Masonic Convention even changed the Due Guard in the First and Third Degrees. Due Guards, that I don't have.
The work of well over half the Lodges under the English Constitution and the standard work of several overseas Constitutions including the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario is based on the Emulation Ritual.
No, I don't have a Due Guard.
But I am a Master Mason. Try me and prove me.
By what instruments of architecture will I be tried? By the Square and Compasses the well known symbols of Masonry, which convey the abstract means and end of the Science in a most clear and comprehensive manner, Worshipful Sir.Top of page
By John M Boersma, FFS
In 1979, I was Senior Warden of my Lodge and an eager student of Free Masonry. Brought up as a Catholic I was not well versed in what Freemasonry terms the "Volume of the Sacred Law", since Catholics basically tend to accept 'Faith" without question.' My curiosity peaked when the ritual taught me that - Geometry and Freemasonry were, originally, synonymous terms. In my early Masonic years I thus paused at Ezekiel, Kings, Chronicles and then one day in 1978 I was brows- ing through the Revelations of St John. There was a familiar ring to Chapter IV 1-11 ,which starts: "After this I looked and BEHOLD a Throne was set in Heaven and One sat on the Throne." As I kept reading, it hit me; here was Euclid's 47th problem as proven and etched in stone, by a humble Hindu Mathematician. Underneath it he had chiseled; Behold! Thus was born a Tracing Board - made of almost fifty kinds of inlaid wood- to partially reflect the various creeds, colors and races which makeup our fraternity. It was my privilege, as W. Master, to present it to my Lodge on behalf of family and friends. This Tracing Board was duly marked: A.M.D.G in deference to my Jesuit Teachers who taught us that all we accomplished would be for naught, un- less it was wrought: Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam A.M.D.G. translated To the Greater Glory of God You and a multitude of Masons have already read two books by Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas entitled: The Hiram Key and The Second Messiah, together with a number of negative reviews - on the former - by distinguished Masonic scholars. On my recent visit to London I learned from one of the Regalia stores near the Temple at Great Queen Street, that word was out from "someone" at the "Temple" - NOT - to have "The Hiram Key" for sale, I did not enquire about "The Second Messiah". It is tempting to make comments pro and con, both as to the written product as well as to the comments of respect- able Masonic Scholars. In this context, I recall recently asking a Worthy Brother who is rather involved in research, for HIS opinion of these two books. In a few well chosen words he left no doubt that he was satisfied that we were dealing with a bunch of liars, just out to make money. I asked him if he-himself had read these books. His answer was a daunting: "Me, reading it? Hey I have no time. . . I rely on the Book Reviews by respectable Masons If THEY say its NO history, If THEY point out LIES, that's good enough for me The statement I make to You, is that -having read these two books - I now know that my interpretation of St John's Revelations Chapter IV 1 - 11 appears far from coincidence. The 47th problem of Euclid was obviously both veiled and venerated by St John, the Seer of Patmos. The text below is taken from the Apocalypse or Revelations of St John, Chapter 4, vs. 1-11. "After this I looked, and behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. 2. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 3. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow 'round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. 4. And 'round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. 5. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thundering and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne; and 'round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. 7. and the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. 8. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. 9. And when those beasts give glory and honor and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever. 10. The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11. Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created". So much for the tracing board. I have always been deeply intrigued with the "why' of the seeming importance of this 47th problem of Euclid. It is visible on the frontispiece of Anderson's Constitution of 5723 - 1723: between two Grand Master; the Duke of Wharton and the Duke of Montagu. It is just underneath a scroll on which is written "constitution" and below the 47th problem is written in Greek - Eureka - I have found it. We note that in many jurisdictions today it also figures in the Past Master's Jewel, moreover in many jurisdictions the three "initial" steps to the altar are marked by nine, twelve and fifteen steps - just divide it by three and figure!
Why, Freemasonry's emphasis on the 47th problem, why MARK it on the frontispiece of the 1723 Constitution with "Eureka". What is it that we have found or should we perhaps ask: What is it that we ought to find? The quest for the Holy Grail - or perhaps?) The Truth- is obviously still ongoing and what Man thinks he can find, Man will eventually find! Books such as mentioned in this article accentuate the urgent need for a deeper study of both the Chapter and the Scottish Rite, particularly the latter. I have little doubt that St John's "Revelations" happen to be a part of both the problem and the solution thereof By the way, is it yet another coincidence that this St John - The Divine - is an ancient Patron Saint of Free Masons? I have just returned from a visit to Rosslyn Chapel, where - by coincidence and courtesy of the Supreme Council, 33ø Washington D.C. - "The Friends of Rosslyn" did market colored photo- cards of John Melius's famous painting "the laying of the cornerstone of the Capitol" on September 18 1793. As noted on the back of these 7 x 4.75 postcards, the proceeds of L1.00 each, were to accrue to the Rosslyn Chapel Restoration Fund which has a target of L1.5 million. Alas, these cards were not on display, but at my request were dug up from a box behind a curtain and three were given to me, for free. It appears that some tension exists between the "Friends of Rosslyn" and the Owner of Rosslyn Chapel, the Earl of Rosslyn. This visit enabled me to attest to the veracity of the many discernible features alluded to in the Hiram Key. Another publication just. crossed my desk: "Holy Grail across the Atlantic" -The secret history of Canadian Discovery and Exploration. It is written by Michael Bradley and published by Hounslow Press, 2181 Queen Street East Suite 301, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E 1ES. On the back cover is the following statement by: Dr Edward W Hagerman, Associate Professor of History, Atkinson College, York University: "Michael Bradly brings to the study of Canadian History that most valued contribution: a new, and provocative interpreta- tion of facts that cannot easily be dismissed by the academic establishment". A similar statement - (substitute "Ma- sonic" for "Canadian" & "Academic") - could be directed towards the labors of our Brothers Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas and I take this opportunity to heartily congratulate both of them for bringing Masonic researchers the formidable challenge, not of rebut- ting some small pans, but of either accepting or rejecting the main canvas, which appears truly and well fash- ioned. Moreover, in true Masonic style they did not fail to bring "their discovery" to the attention of the World's Council. In the process they shed additional Light on our Order, by engaging in that most distinctive Masonic pre- occupation, "seeking for that which, is lost". You too my brother, we trust, will feel sad for a fellow pilgrim who would rather rely on learned reviews than on reading books for himself I still vividly recall how my old geometry teacher used to admonish me as I struggled with mathematical problems: "Read Boersma" - Read!" Happy research to you my brother - Read -!
By William E. Parker,
As the famed magician was shackled and then lowered upside down into the water filled Chinese Torture Cell, gazing through the glass front illusion at the immersed man, the audience sat transfixed knowing that unless escape was possible within precious minutes certain death by drowning would result. The container was then locked and tightly banded, curtains drawn around it, the orchestra played a plaintive melody and an assistant bearing a fire ax stood ready to smash the cell open and release the master illusionist if need be his very name conjures up visions of magical miracles, thrilling escapes, death defying stunts and a mysterious persona capable of the Impossible. Impossible might well be the perfect word to describe Houdini.
Whether it was chains, cuffs, sealed containers, bank vaults, jails, packing cases or countless other restraints, he stood at the pinnacle of escape artists, literally the "King of Escapes." While he died three quarters of a century ago, other than two or three world-class entertainers made famous by television, the average person still thinks of Houdini when asked to name a famous magician.
What aura of greatness, mystique, and depth of charisma encompassed this man, rising from humble beginnings to the rarified pinnacle of glory, to have left such an indelible imprint on the pages of history. Certainly his early years gave little indication he would emerge a legend, a status achieved by few. In truth, there were two Houdinis: the performer as the world saw him, and Eric Weis the man and Freemason, a personality obscured from view by the public persona.
Born Ehrich Weiss in Budapest on March 24, 1874, he claimed April 6th of that year in Appleton, Wisconsin, the date his Mother had claimed. Although she and several children did not arrive in the U.S. from Europe until July 1878, Eric already four years old, she possibly picked the U.S. location and date to guarantee Erich and Theo's American citizenship. If the date and location have been the subject of confusion, recent research clearly indicates the Budapest origin. His Father, Samuel Weiss, had wanted to be a lawyer but eventually turned to teaching religion. His Father's first wife having died giving birth to a son Herman in 1863, Samuel then married a Cecilia Steiner on May 27,1864. A son Nathan was born in 1868, William in 1870, Ehrich in 1874, Theodore in 1876, Leopold in 1879 and Gladys in 1891. Circum- stances surrounding the family's departure for America remain cloudy, although anti-Semitism undoubtedly played a major role. If a popular legend concerns an alleged duel between Samuel Weiss and a Hungarian nobleman with the subsequent need to flee, the duel is perhaps apocryphal since it seems highly unlikely a member of the Hungarian aristocracy would condescend to duel with an obscure Rabbi. The question has even been raised by some as to whether Weiss was actually ordained a Rabbi or simply assumed the title through years of study, but this is of minor import to our story.
Harry Houdini was a complex personality, a romantic ever willing to embellish his rather mundane and plain beginnings. Throughout his life, there are clear instances where he invented and/or "embroidered" events to enhance both his personal and professional image. The romantic duel tale, for example, points out his incessant need to "color" events, in this instance his family history, that there might be an aura of mystery and glamour involved.
With Hungarian friends in Appleton, Samuel had accepted a Rabbi's position there. Unfortunately, old-world conservative, somewhat quarrelsome, professing unorthodox interpretations of Talmudic law, unable to adapt to more liberal American ideas and with a poor command of English, he didn't adjust well to Appleton and the family relocated to Milwaukee hoping for better things. Better things rarely materialized, however, for whether it was Appleton, Milwaukee or later in New York, Samuel's quirks plagued the family fortunes until the day he passed away, October 5,1892.
With the large family always in need of money, Eric took a variety of jobs such as selling newspapers and shining shoes to help out. With virtually no formal education, he left home at age 12 for Texas "to make his fortune" but never made it to the Lone Star State. Holding odd jobs for a year or two as he traveled, both Eric and his family eventually relocated to New York, the city which would from 1888 on finally be called home, Eric continuing his cycle of odd jobs and particularly employment in a tie factory. It appears a co-worker in the tie shop and amateur magician, Jack Hayman, first introduced young Eric to many of magic's mysteries.
In Milwaukee, young Eric had been visibly impressed by Dr. Lynn, a touring magician, and later at age 17, he was literally captivated by the memoirs of the great French magician Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, memoirs Houdini later came to believe were laden with much fiction. Still, at this point, with such influences it's perhaps not surprising he was drawn to what he believed to be the glamorous world of entertainment and magic where he might find fame and fortune.
He was so impressed by Houdin's life in particular that when a stage name became necessary, at the suggestion of his friend Hayman, he simply added an "i" to Houdin becoming Houdini. Some say his American friends called him Harry, a phonetic adaption of "Ehrie", his Mother's pet name for him, while others say he took Harry from Harry Keller, then a well known magician. In any event, he thence forth became Harry Houdini and his earlier youthful magic persona, "Eric The Great", vanished forever.
Houdini and his brother Theo, who later became a famous magician in his own right under the name of Hardeen, had begun a magic act playing lodge banquets, grubby beer halls, dime museums, and any other bookings they could obtain but the early years were a struggle. In the famous Coney Island, N. Y. amusement park, for example, they worked for coins thrown into a hat and in Chicago during the 1892 world Columbia Exposition, Harry gave 20 shows daily at a sideshow for $12 a week doing sleight of hand and other small tricks, although by 1893 he had added a handcuff act. During these years, performing alongside sword swallowers, fire eaters, contortionists and other carnival acts, he gained a world of information and experience in show business.
Their parents had been less than enthusiastic in seeing their sons depart from "traditional" Jewish trades, but the boys were in good company. Citing but a few, Al Jolson, Irving Berlin, Louis B. Meyer, Adolph Zukor, the Warner Brothers, the Shuberts, George Gershwin and Fanny Brice were all active in show business in one form or another.
As a adult, Houdini was somewhat shorter than about 5'4", with blue eyes, dark curly hair and of a rather careless appearance, yet his face seemed to project a burning handsome intensity. Immensely strong both in mind and body through exercise and a balanced living, he developed his physical state to an amazing degree of fitness with literally muscles of steel and a determination of mind to match. He had early on become a member of an athletic club's track team as well as developing into an excellent swimmer, trying out at one point for the American Olympic Team. During this period, he developed an extended underwater breath control technique which, together with his superb physical condition, would prove so essential in later years as an escape artist.
Different versions surround Houdini's meeting of and marriage to Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner, or "Bess", and separating fact from fiction, like much of Houdini's life, is a difficult task. One version has Bess half of a "show biz" performing duo called the Floral Sisters, the act catching Harry's attention, while another story has Harry and a more demure Bess meeting at a magic performance she was attending with her Mother. And if the two versions cite different circumstances, what is certain is that the Houdinis always celebrated June 22nd, 1894, as their anniversary.
A match between rigidly Catholic and Jewish families might seem improbable, but it proved both successful and enduring for the Houdinis. To appease both sides, however, Jewish and Catholic ceremonies were also performed in addition to the original civil ceremony. If Houdini's Mother immediately accepted Bess, it wasn't until 1905, with Bess seriously ill, that her Mother finally accepted the match and a reconciliation was effected.
This is not to say that, as in most unions, there weren't occasional quarrels. There was also the famous Houdini habit of leaving their quarters after a quarrel, walking around the block, opening the door and throwing his hat into the room. This would be repeated until the hat wasn't thrown back out and Houdini then entered, Bess by then calmed down. While he was the most loving of husbands, given his fiery temperament and impulsive actions, it would appear that throughout the marriage Bess was constrained to exercise considerable restraint and forbearance.
After the marriage, Bess replaced Theo in the act becoming the principal assistant. Success was still a fleeting entity, however, and the Houdinis continued working traditional areas such as sideshows, beer halls, circuses, etc., often working ten to twenty shows daily. Always looking for new fields to conquer, sometimes unsuccessfully, one venture included a half interest in a traveling burlesque troupe, "The American Gaiety Girls," an exercise which ended in bankruptcy after several months.
At one point, in Nova Scotia in 1896, with no funds left for a room, they were forced to sleep in a hallway. Working their way back to Boston by performing on a ship, Houdini fell ill with sea-sickness, a malady which would plague him all his life, and Bess had a meal only because of the generosity of the ship's passengers.
On another occasion, in St. Louis, their prop trunk being held by the railroad for overdue payment, using jokes from old magazines they worked as a comic duo and were eventually able to redeem their trunk and continue magic engagements. Houdini would often visit gambling houses, buy used cards at bargain prices, and his wife would make up card tricks for sale to customers, a tedious but reasonably profitable sideline. In brief, their existence continued precariously for years and at age 24 Houdini considered leaving show business.
It was in 1895, looking for something different from other entertainers, that he thought of a challenge to local police stations on his ability to escape from their handcuffs and jail cells. By 1898/99, primarily as a result of these successful escapes, his reputation began to spread, better bookings followed and after years of struggle things finally began looking up, particularly after being booked by Martin Beck, an important Impresario who ran a large vaudeville circuit. Big-time vaudeville was then undoubtedly the most popular form of entertainment, the fledgling motion picture industry not yet the phenomenon it would eventually become. Acts played at least a week, usually appearing twice a day, and at salaries far beyond what Harry and his wife had previously commanded. It was Beck who counseled Harry to concentrate his act on escapes, a momentous career move as it turned out. For the Houdinis, it was their "breakthrough" and an end to dime museums, one-night stands, and burlesque days.
Houdini made much of his "secrets", as do most magicians. Magical secrets are, after all, their stock in trade, their means of livelihood. Like other performers, he emphasized the magical aspects for psychological reasons, a means of obtaining an "edge" over his public and a means to create awe and wonder. In truth, when illusions are "exposed", the enchantment often disappears and he went to great lengths to ensure secrecy of his methods. In the words of Sherlock Holmes: "If I told you how I did longer seem so remarkable."
Houdini spent years learning the mechanics of locks and handcuffs until he was undoubtedly one of the world's experts in the field. Unquestionably a master of opening secure devices of all types, he possessed a skill the likes which has not been seen since and likely never will again. With a brilliant mind for his chosen field, he also had the ability to almost instantly determine the type of lock being proffered during public challenges, where members of the audience brought cuffs and chains to test his escape skills, and thus the proper opening method. If such challenges were endless in number and infinite in variety, it is also of note that, unknown to the audience, in order to ensure adequate challenges he sometimes had paid assistants come up on stage carrying cuffs he was familiar with.
An early stage illusion, and a brilliant success, was the Substitution Trunk, or "Metamorphosis." Earlier versions had been presented since 1865, but Houdini made it into a veritable "show stopper." In brief, a person handcuffed inside a sealed bag, then put into a chained and locked chest mysteriously and virtually instantaneously changes places with someone outside the chest. The effect has proven so mesmerizing it remains a magic staple and one of the most popular items in the repertoire of modern stage magicians. Bess's small stature made her tremendously effective in this illusion and Houdini continued to feature the effect throughout his career, even after devising the diabolical milk can water cabinet illusions.
While not attempting to denigrate his unquestioned and unique skills, his "secrets" consisted not just in long arduous training but also in hidden keys, picks and "gaffed boxes" to coin an expression of the trade. A master of secreting needed picks, even when performing in private situations after being stripped naked and thoroughly searched, he had an uncanny ability to still hide his little "assistants."
In some cases, picks could be hidden in his shoes, in clothing, in chairs or other areas where he was bound and in others they could be surreptitiously passed to him. Often performing behind a screen, Bess or an offstage assistant always stood ready to secretly slip a needed pick or universal key in the unlikely event unexpected problems arose. Such assistance was needed only occasionally, but little was left to chance.
Nor am I divulging any secrets since virtually all of Houdini's methods and techniques have long since seen publication. Not all performers are equal, however. One can read books on magic, computers, or any other subject, yet not be able to properly implement their contents. Houdini, conversely, had an amazing ability and brought a charisma and personal persona of sheer magnetism to his presentations, mesmerizing audiences until they "believed" in his miracles, a rare talent indeed.
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less." "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean different things." "The question is", said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master that's all." In rather a like manner, Houdini indicated it was not what he actually did but what his audiences thought he did. The art of successful illusion, like Humpty's words, lies in the performer's ability to create a desired image in the audience's mind, an art of which Houdini was indeed a "master."
But why specialization in locks? Spending his teen-age years on the tough streets of NewYork, he became acquainted with petty thieves, safe crackers, con men, and criminals of all types. Listening to their exploits and methods, and then devoting endless hours to study and practice, he not only became well versed in card work but his interest particularly seemed centered on locks and their secrets. In that his reputation ultimately rests on escapes, rather than magic per se, his early "street education" was to prove fortuitous indeed. Later, as he became a professional entertainer, he realized he needed something different to compete with the plethora of magicians then working and doing escapes offered that difference, a chance to narrow the field of competition.
Escapes in and of themselves, however, were not enough for there were others who also did escapes. Houdini would be different and better through the elements of showmanship created to enthrall audiences. He had an undefinable aura and charisma which totally captivated an audience. He was not just doing an act, but seemed to be actually living a phase of his life - a phase which allowed no defect, no failure, and the audience felt it.
Further, there was also the publicity he created to enhance his image. He developed not only into a performer of unsurpassed ability, he could almost be said to be the creator of the modern "hard sell" so extravagant were his methods and claims. The great showman Barnum touted his circus acts - Houdini touted himself. It's possible no greater exponent of self-exploitation and advertising has ever lived. If"Chutzpah" were a marketable commodity, Houdini would have been worth billions! The French conjurer Robert-Houdin wrote: "A magician is not a juggler. He is an actor playing a role - the role of a sorcerer." Houdini played the role to magnificent perfection.
So baffling were his methods considered, some even attributed his legendary escapes to occult or supernatural powers. The "Metamorphosis" illusion, for example, drew such attention for it was argued how else could the dramatic and instantaneous exchange of two people occur, a less sophisticated public perhaps then in existence. No less a respected individual than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed Houdini had the power to dematerialize himself in one place and reappear in another.
While a modest success was being achieved and bookings increasingly followed, it was not yet total success in Houdini's mind. Thus, in 1900 he and Bess sailed for England where other American magicians had done well, a gesture of immense confidence since he had no firm English bookings. His recurrent sea-sickness meant much of the trip was spent sick in his bunk, but he recovered quickly afterwards.
London was not initially a "pearl" in his oyster, however, but through perseverance, a bit of luck, an escape from Scotland Yard's cuffs, and a trial appearance at London's famed Alhambra Theater, he was able to secure an English contract. In time and with helpful publicity, the London act caught fire, successful engagements followed in France, Holland, Germany and Russia and he and Bess would spend the next five years enjoying their European success.
As his fame grew, in these and subsequent appearances, he would break all existing attendance records in city after city becoming the most outstanding, sought after, and highest paid vaudeville entertainer on the Continent and British Isles. His ego was of monstrous proportions, however, suffering few imitators. He had "arrived" and believed he was the best. Perhaps his family's financial hardships had instilled a fierce determination to succeed, to be "somebody", to prove to the world there was only one Houdini and all others merely inferior copies.
Fiercely jealous of any contemporaries who also performed escapes, and indeed competitors of any kind, through the years he devoted much time and effort "fighting" against those who either "attacked" his act or who he felt debased the escape art through the use of trick or "gaffed" items, quietly failing to mention his own use of similar hidden methods. Needless to say, he garnered tremendous publicity in the process.
The single exception was his brother, Theo, who performed an escape act essentially duplicating that of his famous sibling. Performing as Hardeen, and ostensibly in competition with Houdini, it was possible for the two brothers to thereby often eliminate rivals and keep the better bookings for themselves. While Houdini loved his brother, there was nonetheless friction between the two, a situation seemingly tolerated by Houdini as long as he felt his brother recognized him as the one and only "Escape King." If Houdini's success spawned many imitators, none possessed his unique charisma or equaled his dynamic showmanship, unquestionably a major part of his success. Critics indicated that, while duplicating the Houdini act, even Hardeen could not capture the "Master's" special magic.
An early admirer of Houdin, Houdini later believed Houdin had not been truthful in his memoirs and while attacking what he called Houdin's "supreme egotism," Houdini himself undoubtedly equaled, indeed surpassed, that "supreme egotism." While performers in general are endowed with large egos, necessary to compete and succeed in the demanding and sometimes brutal world of show business, Houdini's was outsized even by such standards!
If antipathy towards his peers was clearly manifest, to those who represented no threat his actions were quite different. He was amazingly generous and thoughtful of retired or destitute magicians or their families, carrying his largess to such measures he often paid their rental fees or otherwise extended significant aid. He would also give benefit performances at charity hospitals and orphanages. While he and Bess never had children, he would constantly visit orphanages performing for children whenever possible or have them visit him backstage.
By William E. Parker, MPS
His generosity, while often kept largely in the shadows, was legion. Perhaps, due to the insecurity felt by many performers, he felt that he, too, might one day be in need as show business can be a fickle entity in the public eye one minute and forgotten soon after. It may be, too he was simply implementing the Masonic tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief and Charity. Perhaps, it was simply a combination of both. The Houdinis never had a home life or settled down in the conventional sense of the word, spending much of their whole career "on the road" performing at one venue or another, their residence a series of rooming houses and hotels. Their life was the theater, the circus, or wherever they happened to be performing. While Houdini bought a 26room New York townhouse and moved his Mother there, it would prove little more than a storehouse of magic and a place he occasionally visited.
He had a fascination for visiting cemeteries, to both see the graves Sf older performers, ensure they were well kept and it has been speculated he had other deeper psychological reasons. Ever alert to Houdini publicity, however, either Bess or a photographer was usually on hand to snap an appropriate photo. If Bess said cemeteries were serene and peaceful, for Houdini they represented something more. In the words of one of his biographers: "The clue is in his life: that paradoxical con- junction of compulsive vitality and an obsession with death."
He apparently feared death but faced such fears by constantly devising newer and more dangerous methods of ostensibly cheating the 'grim reaper'. of proving his superiority over death time and time again. In truth, his "death defying" stunts, such as the famous milk can and torture cell escapes, were safely routined and prepared in advance to ensure success. Unquestionably, there were strong elements of danger in his performances, with the real possibility of an unforeseen or serious incident, as happened as least twice, but every precaution was taken to minimize such dangers. He was a showman above all and the slightest threat of failure was anathema to his nature, a possibility his obsessive personality did not want to consider. One of the most enduring Houdini legends began on Nov. 27, 1906, when while heavily chained, he jumped from the Belle Isle Bridge into the cold waters of the Detroit Riven As the story now goes, he allegedly jumped through a hole cut in the ice of the frozen river, following which he narrowly missed death, being temporarily trapped under the ice, then after shedding his shackles, he miraculously found the exit hole and emerged from the River none the worse for the experience. While . he did indeed make the jump, there is a good bit of legend merged with the truth. Television and instant nationwide media coverage not then being existent, it seems a frozen river and under ice death escape were later added to details of the rather routine and mundane jump, it became a publicist's dream, and Houdini's two-week stint at the Temple Theater was a resounding success. What matter if an overactive public relations somewhat embellished the facts! The public can be a fickle entity, though, and to stay "on top", Houdini was constantly seeking newer and more difficult routines to capture his audiences. Rarely sleeping more than 5/6 hours a night, he spent much time in the quest. The Milk Can, Chinese Water Torture Cell, Bridge Jumps, Walking Through A Wall and other presentations all attest to the success of that quest and his marvelous flair for showmanship.
By 1912, he was playing eight weeks in Hammerstein's N.Y. Roof Garden at $1,000 a week, a princely sum in that era. If in fairy tales a legendary pot of gold is often found, Houdini's reaction to the Roof Garden engagement comes close by demanding his first week's salary in $20 gold coins which he then poured into his Mother's apron. Even this sum pales by comparison, however, with the larger sums later received not to mention his demand for 5001o of the profits in some instances which raised his salary to enormous heights becoming the highest paid entertainer in vaudeville.
The years were rolling by and Houdini realized he could not always dangle upside down high above the ground freeing himself from a strait jacket. He needed new worlds to conquer and so in 1919 he moved into movies, first in a "cliff hanger" serial and then "cliff hanger" feature films. His screen appearances featured fast action, fantastic escapes and spectacular stunts such as a breath-taking Niagara Falls sequence in "The Man From Beyond." He would invariably be chained, roped, or otherwise immobilized by villains in sequences which required his imminent release to escape death and then rescue the heroine from an equally perilous situation. Needless to say, he always prevailed. After making a serial and two films, he formed his own company and wrote, edited, directed and starred in two more feature films. Motion pictures are not vaudeville, though, and his efforts lacked the element of imminent suspense. After all, it was only a movie with possible trick photography, not a live act where an audience could be captivated by every agonizing moment of his escape attempt.
The films might have been a success at the hands of a Douglas Fairbanks whose on-screen charisma could carry the day, but Houdini had neither the writing nor acting skills required and the films inevitably suffered. They were not a total disaster, however, for the screen medium brought him more fame, enhanced his vaudeville career and carried him to the London Palladium at $3,750 a week, the largest sum ever offered to a single entertainer there to that point. On June 28, 1914, Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire throne, was assassinated at Sarajevo and Europe rolled into W.W.I. Then, on May 7th, 1915, the liner Lusitania was torpedoed with the loss of some 1,100 lives, over 100 of them American. Other events followed, the situation grew increasingly tense and on April 6th, 1917, the U.S. entered the War.
The War naturally put a stop to his European appearances. Fiercely patriotic, in 1917 he tried to enlist but at age 43 was rejected as being too old. Not to be derailed, however, for the next two years he performed at military benefits, canteens, and training camps, usually at his own expense, often working with stars such as Will Rogers, Sophie Tucker, Jim Corbett and Tom Mix. He was also active in selling "Liberty Bonds", chalking up sales of $1,000,000 virtually single handedly.
His wife and her family having beliefs in ghosts, witches and other forms of superstition, early in their marriage Houdini had attempted to dispel such concerns. If he eventually succeeded, initially it was a trying experience for Bess who thought she had married a"devil sorcerer." It may be that which first prompted his interest in spiritualism and then concern over fraudulent practices therein. Or, it may have been his attendance at a spiritual seance in his youth where he immediately grasped the immense financial possibilities. Those events, coupled with an 1891 expose book detailing escapes and spiritualistic methods, all undoubtedly influenced the young man. Interestingly, while he later began to expose spiritual charlatans, he had himself followed the s~me path and had given psychic presentations early in his career as a means of adding to his income, spiritualism then in vogue. Giving his initial psychic performance in January, 1898, in a Kansas engagement, his presentations were hugely successful if not personally satisfying. In time, he became embarrassed at the gullibility of his audiences and revised the act to emphasize magic and escapes rather than spiritualism, indicating that any psychic effects were simply the product of natural means.
Could mediums communicate with the Netherworld? While keeping an open mind should a truly honest spiritual manifestation ever present itself, he developed a total aversion to psychic fraud and its perpetrators spending years both studying and lecturing on the issue. While spiritualism as entertainment was permissible, he felt the art was used by charlatans to cheat unsuspecting victims. With an evangelistic zeal, he became a fervent crusader exposing fraudulent mediums, fortune tellers, palm readers and fakers one after another even attacking the evil influence of the Quija Board, carrying a highly successful stage presentation throughout the country.
It's also likely his motivation arose in part by an attempt to "reach" his Mother for whom he bad a deep emotional attachment, a relationship which often guided his actions. Her death, July 17th, 1913, while he was touring in Europe, proved a devastating experience. Returning immediately to New York, he was inconsolable for a~while spending much time at her grave site. In a touching moment, his Mother having asked him to bring back a pair of warm woolen house slippers, Houdini placed them with her as she was laid to rest. It was a measure of his inner strength that by September he was able to resume work, but he was nonetheless left with a lasting sense of loss from which he apparently never fully recovered.
The spiritual aspect gave rise to one of the most curious friendships of the era. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes and his coldly analytical mind, turned to spiritualism in his later years and became a firm "believer." (Philalethes Oct.1996) At one point, there appears to have been a somewhat controversial seance whereby, through Lady Doyle's intercession, Houdini's Mother apparently spoke to him although it appears the magician found several reasons to deny the validity of the seance.
Houdini, well versed in theatrical effects, used his knowledge to great advantage in stage presentations unmasking spiritual frauds and became the antithesis of Doyle insofar as spiritualism was concerned. With Doyle a sincere and firm "believer", never relinquishing his views, and Houdini equally determined to demystify the subject, it eventually became obvious a meeting of minds was impossible. While a warm relationship existed between the two for some time, the friendship eventually cooled due to opposite viewpoints and attitudes.
An avid collector not only of anything magical but also other items which caught his eye, he endlessly sought out old apparatus and books and other diverse miscellanea sending everything to his N. Y. home until the house resembled nothing less than a small and highly cluttered museum, with much of the collection still in boxes. His library collection of magic, witchcraft, and spiritualism was undoubtedly one of the world's largest, but other non-magical areas were also represented.
For example, there was a large Lincoln collection, countless paintings, some valuable and some not, two works by the 18th century London Freemason Hogarth, one of the great English painters and engravers, a portable writing desk alleged to have belonged to Edgar Allen Poe, original signatures of the Declaration of Independence signers, and numerous other works. With a pride of possession bordering on a neurosis, he was particularly fond of magic wands which had belonged to other well-known magicians and it has been speculated he felt their powers passed to him through possession of such wands.
Interestingly, his collection also included an Auburn Prison electric chair he had acquired at an auction for "sentimental reasons." An electric chair escape sequence had been featured in his first film appearance and he may have envisaged using it in an "escape" in his shows. In a continuing sequence of almost comedic movements, however, Houdini would place the chair in the main part of the house, Bess would then move it to the basement, and Harry would, in turn, move it back again.
A Member of the Craft, Houdini was not alone among Masonic magicians, a group which included such notables as Harry Keller, Howard Thurston, and Harry Blackstone. Initiated in St. Cecile Lodge, N. Y., July 17th, 1923, he was Passed and Raised July 31st and August 21st and in 1924 he entered the Consistory. Immensely proud of his Masonic affiliation, he gave a benefit performance for the Valley of New York, filling the 4,000 seat Scottish Rite Cathedral and raising thousands of dollars for needy Masons. In October 1926, just weeks prior to his untimely death, he became a Shriner in N.Y.'s Mecca Temple.
Show business can be a demanding and often lonely profession, particularly so in Houdini's era where performers spent long hours traveling by trains with theaters and rooming houses their eventual destination. Many performers have been Masons both because of the Masonic ideals exemplifie4 by the Craft, as well as the Craft being a solace in their continuing travels with Masons and Lodges to be found virtually everywhere. There have been a number of Lodges composed essentially of those in the entertainment world, primarily in New York and Hollywood.
On October 22nd, 1926, during an engagement at the Princess Theater in Montreal, Canada, Houdini was talking to McGill University students in his dressing room. Lying on a couch resting, a first-year student asked permission to test the entertainer's abdominal muscle control and strike the magician. Houdini, accepting the challenge, mumbled his assent whereupon the student struck before the necessary muscles could be tensed, obviously a critical requirement. Later, although there were nagging signs of stomach pains, Houdini ignored them in the tradition of "the show must go on." That evening, he suffered more pains but nonetheless continued his schedule through October 23rd
Arriving in Detroit the next day, he was diagnosed with acute appendicitis but insisted on performing. Finally, with a temperature of 104, he was taken to Grace Hospital where a ruptured. gangrenous appendix was removed but peritonitis had unfortunately set in. Despite medical predictions of imminent 4eath, his strong will to live was such he held on almost a week, finally succumbing at 1:26 P. M., October 31st, 1926,. at the age of 52, Halloween Day, perhaps a symbolically magical date for his final curtain.
His body was taken to New York, ironically in an expensive bronze casket he had ordered for use as publicity stunt, with the funeral services held at the W.43 St. Elks Lodge Ballroom with some 2,000 in attendance. In the impressive two hour service, two Rabbis eulogized Houdini, the Society of American Magicians performed a "Broken Wand" ceremony written especially for the occasion, there were tributes from the National Vaudeville Artists and Jewish Theatrical Guild, rites by the Mt. Zion Congregation, the Elks, and Masonic Rites by the St. Cecile Lodge.
Following the services, thousands lined the sidewalks to pay tribute to Houdini as the funeral procession wound its way to Machpelah Cemetery, Brooklyn, N.Y., a site Houdini had selected after a long search, where he was buried in the family plot. The family exception was Bess who would be buried in a Catholic cemetery elsewhere. Letters from his Mother were placed in a black bag and used as the coffin's pillow for Houdini's head.
Always looking for areas to both occupy his time and enhance his reputation, Houdini was particularly active in rejuvenating the Society of American Magicians which, while organized in 1902, had remained something of a relatively modest New York City group. Through intense campaigning, he was able to expand the group into a bona-fide national (now International) organization and was elected its President in 1917, although his relationship with the Society would blow hot and cold through the years. As mysterious in death as in life, there seems to be some confusion concerning the specifics of his death. It has been determined that he died from peritonitis resulting from a ruptured appendix, but circumstances then become cloudy. If Detroit has been well established as the locale, some reports indicate he was already suffering from appendicitis and the student's blows did not cause but merely aggravated an existing but perhaps undiagnosed condition.
Houdini was also recovering from a fractured ankle apparently had some form of internal injury suffered during a strait jacket rehearsal during the summer and had recurring kidney damage resulting from years of strenuous over exertion performing escapes. In brief, although his physical condition did not match the peak of his earlier years, this in no way diminished his obsessive need to perform. Seemingly indifferent to aches and pains throughout his career, his "superhuman" image of himself constantly drove him on whatever the cost the cost eventually being his life. Houdini spent almost as fast as he earned with only a modest portion remaining of his lifetime earnings. Fortunately, in addition to proceeds from estate sales, Bess also received substantial life insurance benefits thus assuring a comfortable lifetime income. She sold the W. 113th St. home and moved to another area of the city, Houdini's vast collection of magical and other miscellanea being dispersed to the Library of Congress and among friends and collectors. If the dispersal was a tragedy, his collection undoubtedly being one of the world's finest, fortunately much still remains available in various public and private collections. His brother, Theo, acquired much of his active performing apparatus continuing his own career until 1945, passing away in June of that year.
The Literary Digest called Houdini "the greatest necromancer of the age perhaps of all time." Be that as it may, before Houdini died he said he would send a message to his wife from beyond the grave if it were possible. Many seance attempts have been made to bring Houdini's spirit back but none have succeeded. Bess offered $10,000 to anyone who could produce spiritually the secret message she and Harry had prepared, but when no one could after a period of 10 years she withdrew the offer.
Through the ages, the art of conjuring has seen many transformations from an art to be feared to a position of honor. The ancient Greeks both worshiped and feared their Gods whom they credited with supernatural powers, the Priests of ancient Egypt and their secrets occupied a preeminent place in that society while the Roman emperors were, in general, opposed to sorcery and took measures against it. In the legends attributed to the Artliurian era, while the wizard Merlin occupied a respected, if nonetheless feared, position, the significance is not in whatever truth lies in the legends but rather the status accorded Merlin.
The lot of the magician, or sorcerer, has not always been an easy one. In the words of the German Freemason Goethe: ("Wir sind gewohnt, dass die Menschen verkahnen, Was sie nicht verstehen.") We are accustomed to seeing man despise what he does not understand. This truism has been expressed in many languages, but the fundamental truth remains constant. As the Christian Religion grew, centuries of superstition grew with it.
Using whatever pretext was politically expedient when faced with events it could neither understand nor accept, the Roman Church in its ignorance and intolerance decreed that sorcerers must be destroyed and tens of thousands of alleged witches and others were burned at the stake, often innocent but simply victims of groundless or malicious accusations. What matter if many also perished simply because of disagreement with Church doctrine. Since the first Papal Bull condemning the Craft in 1738, Freemasonry and Freemasons have come under similar persecutions by the Church, charges of magical practices often a convenient excuse to be added to those of heresy. (Philanthropies 1994).
Even Jacques DeMolay, Grand Master of the Templars and a long-standing servant of the Church, suffered a tragic fate in 1314 falsely accused not only of heresy but also of diabolical and Satanic practices. It has nonetheless been documented the charges were politically motivated when the Templars' services were no longer required, the Order simply a victim of its own success. (Philalethes Dec.1994) By the medieval period, if sleight-of-hand artists and traveling "mountebanks" performed for Kings, Princes, and at 'Faires", they had nonetheless learned it was both unwise and unhealthy to claim supernatural powers, entertainment only being their stated purpose. Instances of sorcery persecution would continue through the centuries, however, as witness Joan of Arc's trial and burning in 1431 and the infamous Salem (Mass.) Witch Hunts of 1692 where almost 20 persons, mostly women, were executed amid allegations of practicing the occult arts.
In the modern era, while some early magicians often made social gains, they were nonetheless usually seen essentially within the context of "show business" rather than "good society". History has a way of moving on, however, and the art and artists of magic continued to make progress. If; in the Middle Ages, Houdini would likely have been burned at the stake, by the beginning of the 20th century he and several other world-class performers were acclaimed for their achievements, and in todays world the magical arts enjoy unprecedented prestige.
There is little doubt Houdini presented his "death-defying" escapes in a dazzling manner, one peculiar to his own personality and to the era in which he lived. He was, after all, a showman first and foremost, a product of a particular era, an era ready to 'believe", and perhaps in some respects an era unworldly and naive by comparison with today's technological society. As such, his actions must be considered both in the context of show business and of his era.
As Sherlock Holmes has said "We reach. We grasp. And what is left in our hands at the end? A shadow." Sometimes, however, in lieu of fading. the shadow endures and becomes an all pervasive reminder of a unique figure whose larger than life persona lingers on, Houdini's shadow not only endures, but his name has entered into the hallowed realm of legend, synonymous with the mysteries of magic and will likely remain so forever.
It's not completely our fault.
By James W Hogg, MPS
This article details the thoughts and perceptions of the author, who grew up in the 1960's and 1970's, as a member of the baby boom generation. It is not meant to assert that there is only one way of viewing the events leading up to the present. Necessarily, some generalizations have been made in presenting this material. Any good lawyer will acknowledge that, for the most part, there is an exception to every rule. Where reference is made to a "liberal" view, this describes a philosophical theory or belief- not a political commentary. The author has attempted to write in a politically neutral style. "Liberalism" is known to transcend both of the political parties in our two party system of politics in the United States. Members of both of these parties hold liberal beliefs to various extent. There are many different ways to look at things. The purpose of this article is to provoke serious thinking, brought to your attention by a member of one group Masonry would like to target for future membership growth. This article merely advances some of these viewpoints as perceived by the author.
Agenda of social engineers of the 60's
Society has changed dramatically since the heyday of Freemasonry after World War II. These were the days of unprecedented growth in America's economy, bringing with it prosperity and a wide variety of well paying jobs. During these years, it was possible for the average wage earner to raise a family on one income. We were rebuilding our economy in the wake of the war with many new manufacturing jobs. Back in those years, America was the innovator and virtually all the well made products came from the industrialized countries, such as the United States, Germany, and Great Britain. "Made in the U. S. A." became a mark of quality. Then came the 1960's. What changed? We had a new liberal focus on the way things should be for a better future. Along with this came the civil rights protests in the South, resulting in new laws being passed by the legislature in Washington guaranteeing civil rights to everyone. This conjures up images of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I have a dream" speech. No longer would segregated schools and racial discrimination in this great land of ours be tolerated. Now, there were laws on the books to prevent this type of discrimination against others because of their race. Today, these laws are also being applied with respect to gender. Recent developments in the law provide that one cannot discriminate against an individual because she happens to be a woman. Examples of this are the U. S. armed forces and the B.P.0. Elks. Today, both must accept women among their ranks. This new outlook was to have a profound influence on not only Freemasonry, but other fraternal organizations and private clubs throughout the United States.
Results of this change - tax code, public accommodation laws, disdain for private groups
The social engineers of the 60's saw this as an opportunity to re-mold our society and change things to dismantle the old ways of doing business. This was the beginning of a new attitude toward private groups and fraternal organizations. These groups were seen as hotbeds of racial discrimination and no longer of use to a civilized society where everyone was supposed to be equal. It was thought that because these groups selected those with whom they wanted to be associated with by ballot of the membership, this was tantamount to discrimination. It was also a well known fact that membership in certain of these organizations benefitted the members in their business endeavors. Frequently, business meetings were held within the rooms of private clubs. Thus, the social engineers asked, "why should members of private clubs be permitted to use their memberships in these clubs to benefit themselves financially?" They saw this as the epitome of an "old boy's" network, to which those who were not white male Caucasians were excluded from participation.
With this general analysis as a base, new laws were promulgated. The result is the familiar rubric of Internal Revenue tax code regulations concerning what a tax exempt organization can and cannot do with respect to retaining its tax exempt status. Also, the public accommodation laws on the federal level came into being, severely restricting what a private group could do if it wished to remain private and keep its Constitutional First Amendment right of freedom of association. To quote from coverage of the General Governor's report contained in the August/September 1997 issue of Moose Magazine, which is the international publication of the Loyal Order of Moose: "The Private Policy, which essentially states that only members of the Loyal Order of Moose and the Women of the Moose may enjoy full Social Quarters privileges within our Lodges, was emphasized throughout the General Governor's report [to the 109th International Convention]. He noted that in the U. S., the Internal Revenue Service has recently stiffened enforcement and penalties against fraternal and veterans' organizations that sell merchandise to non-members. 'Sales to non-members threaten a Lodge's right to privacy and its not-for profit status,' said [David A.] Chainbers [the out-going General Governor]. 'The rule is simple; you are either a member or a guest, but you cannot be both. Non-members cannot make purchases in our Lodges. In other words, non-members cannot spend one penny. Moose Magazine, p. 14. [emphasis ill original]. From all of this, it is very clear that our Federal Government has a complete disdain for private organizations for many of the reasons outlined above.
Case in point.
Judge David B. Sentelle.
President Reagan nominated judge Sentelle on February 2, 1987, to be a U. S. circuit judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit. judge Sentelle happens to be a prominent Mason from North Carolina, having been unanimously confirmed by the U. S. Senate on October 16, 1985, to be a U. S. District Court judge for the Western District of North Carolina. It seems that this time, his membership in the Masonic fraternity became of issue during the nomination and confirmation process in the Senate. The issue raised there should be very familiar to everyone by now: invidious racial discrimination. After a lengthy discourse about what the fraternity represents, a tally of present and past U. S. Presidents and legislators as being Masons, and a reference to our own Sovereign Grand Commander advising that Freemasonry does not discriminate based on race, color or creed, judge Sentelle was confirmed. Freemasonry was under attack in the United States Senate of all places! I recommend as required reading the Senate proceeding, which contains the details of this account. It can be found in the 100th Congress, First Session, p. S-1 1868 to 11870, which was re-printed in Transactions, The American Lodge of Research, F &A M., Vol XV, No. 3 - 1983.
Government being the answer to everything
The liberal view of government also embraced the concept that government was the answer to everything. No matter what the problem was, it could be solved by establishing another government agency on the federal level. All we had to do was give this new agency money to address whatever happened to be the problem of the day. A perfect solution would be found and implemented by the agency and all would be well with the world. This attitude began with Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" era, later to be refined during Lyndon B. Johnson's "Great Society". Indeed, government also grew in latter years during George Bush's administration with tax increases and more government regulation imposed on the people. It was not until the late 60's where we finally achieved deficit spending on the federal level on a recurring basis. The belief was, and still is today, that we can spend and tax our way out of all the problems facing us. High taxes are necessary to maintain a large and strong central government. This Is one reason why it takes two incomes to accomplish today what one income could do in the 1950's. The general public is generally thought to have insufficient knowledge to know what is best for them. Thus, the need for a large and strong central government. After all, someone needs to protect the people from themselves.
Vietnam era protests,
The protest movement surrounding the Vietnam War added fire to
this new liberal view of government. The post World War II baby boomers growing
up in the 50's and 60's did not want to fight in this
unpopular war in Southeast Asia. Many asked: just what was the U. S. really
doing there in the first place? These young people saw those running our country
as the establishment and they wanted change. Many saw versions of socialism as
the answer to all of our, problems. Not coincidentally, the belief was that
private groups and clubs, such as Freemasonry, were part of the establishment.
In the eyes of these baby boomers, this was considered bad. We had a big central
government now to take care of all our needs. Private groups and clubs were no
longer considered relevant in this newly re-engineered society. Another thing
that did not set well with these baby boomers was the way in which our returning
Vietnam Veterans were generally treated by our society. They were openly
criticized and, for the most part, not welcomed back after serving in the armed
forces. This was quite a stark contrast from the welcome that awaited those
returning from military service after World War 11. It is interesting to note
that today, many of these baby boomers are now running our country. It is no
small wonder that they feel the way they do about private organizations such as
The Re-engineering of our Educational system.
Concerning perceptions gained by our youth regarding fraternal
organizations, there is one other dynamic that comes into play and that concerns
how our children have been educated in the recent past. The social engineers
also were able to influence our institutions of higher learning, convincing
educators that the new liberal view of government was good for the country and
would vastly improve the standard of living for everyone - particularly those
who were poor or disadvantaged. The siren call was irresistible. Who could
possibly be against helping the poor and enhancing educational and occupational
opportunities for the disadvantaged? Opposing these ideals would be un-American!
Thus, we instituted a socially responsible curriculum in America's schools and
colleges. Those of us who grew up under this new system were taught all about
the evils of race discrimination and how the government was there to help us,
doing many great things for the people. We were also taught that collective
bargaining was good for America and that, generally, big business was greedy and
had no interest in its workers' well being. We were also taught that the
Keynesian theory of economics was the universal and accepted way of studying
business and economic cycles in America. Let us not forget the concept of new
math - also a product of the 60's. None of our educational materials ever
mentioned Freemasonry, the Moose, Elks, the American Legion, V. F. W., or the
many other worthy organizations in existence at the time. Only one time do I
recall a passing reference to the Grange and its relationship to farming being
mentioned in connection with a social studies course I had in grade school. None
of the schools I attended ever had any programs where groups such as these ever
conducted a program or presentation for the students. I had never heard of
Freemasonry until I was a junior in high school and then I happened upon it only
because I was a stamp collector. To make matters worse, I could find nothing in
my high school or university libraries that would tell me what Freemasonry was!
(Note: I grew up in the Northeast.) This raises an interesting question: How can
fraternal organizations encourage people to join them if prospective members
have no clue as to what a fraternal organization does and has to offer? Put
another way, people will not enter a store unless they perceive that there is
something within that store which they can obtain to fulfill a need. Remember,
however, that one major reason for this lack of available information was that
private groups were seen as being part of what was wrong with America!
Change in corporate culture and
financial rewards to employees.
The gradual shift in the moral perception of society is
reflected in the new corporate culture in existence today. In the years that my
father pursued his career, loyalty and hard work were usually rewarded by
promotions and the ability to climb the corporate ladder to success. This made
career planning relatively easy. Also, many companies shared their profits with
the employees because, after all, they were the ones who made the wheels turn
generating corporate earnings. When the company did well, so did the workers.
Profit sharing today, generally, is now relegated to the top corporate
executives and the shareholders of a corporation. When the workers do get profit
sharing, it is not as generous as the way it was in the old days. A case in
point is this: A neighbor who lived across the street from me while I was
growing up received a profit sharing' bonus in the early 1950's amounting to $30,000
from her employer. (Note: that is $30,000 in early 1950's dollars.
Think about what that would be worth today.) At the time, she was an executive
secretary for a mining firm that mined Molybdenum, a mineral used in the steel
making process. The company she worked for was a predecessor to another company,
which is known today as Amerax. She informed me that everyone in the firm
received bonuses like this that particular year, according to position and years
of service. When she received her bonus, she was called into the President's
office, made to feel comfortable, and told that the firm was grateful for her
services as an employee. It was at that time she was handed the envelope
containing the $30,000 check. In the years following, the bonuses were
smaller, more typically amounting to anywhere from one half to 100% of her
salary for the previous year. The story nowadays is different. While profit
sharing does exist today, it rarely reaches heights such as in this example just
described. There are, of course, exceptions - such as securities firms on Wall
Street after an extraordinarily successful bull market year. As for wages in
general, it should be noted that the relationship between a top executive's pay
and the average worker's pay today continues to grow in disproportionate ways.
This is a matter of public record. just pick up a proxy statement for almost any
public corporation and this fact becomes very evident.
Loyalty generally goes unrewarded,
employment security suffers.
Today, we are in an era of mergers and acquisitions, resulting
in a constant re-engineering of a company's reason for existence. This generally
means that downsizing for competitiveness is in order. This includes layoffs to
make way for productivity advances through the use of technology and automation.
Loyalty is generally no longer a part of the equation. An employee's loyalty to
company A is meaningless when company B steps in and acquires company A. There
is no longer employment security, especially after a merger has taken place or
when an economic recession grips the economy. This is evidenced by the sheer
number of workers who job hop regularly. The economic fortunes of a company are
more tenuous today as well. For example, look at the Hudson Foods scare, where
E.Coli bacteria was found in meat processed by this firm. This resulted in an
expensive recall of processed meat, ultimately resulting in the company being
sold to another corporation. One can only wonder if the owners of Hudson Foods
received a fair price for their company! Consider also the number of jobs that
were lost after Wells Fargo Corporation acquired First Interstate Bank Corp. and
the former began downsizing the product of the two combined organizations. These
are just two of many examples one could cite.
Civility in business is lacking.
Civility in competition between business existed in the 60's
when I was growing up. Rarely did one see a business deprecating its competition
in advertisements during that era. Today, one hears it on a daily basis. A case
in point is the current burger war between McDonald's and Burger King. The
tatter introduced a burger that is very similar to one marketed by McDonald's
and has been advertising that "the Big King is better than the Big Mac
because it's bigger and more tasty." Back then, this was just not done. The
competitor was simply referred to as "brand X"
Freemasonry in prospective.
As Masons, we are all aware of what Freemasonry represents and
what it teaches. I need not reiterate them here. Our ceremonies are beautiful
and the lessons taught in them are great. There is no doubt about this. However,
look at modern life today. We have experienced a decline in civility, increase
in crime, and a general lack of concern for others. Would this condition exist
today if our fraternity were as powerful and influential as it was years ago?
That, unfortunately, is a question that none of us can really answer. We would
all hope that the answer is a resounding "no." We must all attempt to
find a way to make Freemasonry relevant and applicable to our fellow man in
today's society. Failure to do this will mean Freemasonry's eventual extinction
in future years.
Masonic Renewal Success is a
journey, not a destination
A lot has changed in the United States in the last 40 years. Unfortunately, we in the Masonic Fraternity were not paying attention to these changes over those many years. One of the great things we have established in the fraternity, which is long overdue, is a Masonic Renewal Plan. We are attempting to define Freemasonry as it applies to society today. No longer is it possible for us to continue doing things as they have been done in the past. Today, we must identify benefits that we can confer on our new members, find new ways to satisfy their needs for associating with their fellow men, and new ways to benefit new Masons' families and their communities. Do we know what these needs are and how to fulfill them? After all, isn't this what we are really "selling" in our Masonic "store"? The only way we will be able to restore Masonry to its former position of respect in society is through hard work, good public relations, and providing solutions to the needs of today's society. We have some very capable brothers behind this effort, along with some very talented professionals to help us implement the plans. My prayers are that these efforts will pay off. However, the results will be hard won and will certainly come slowly. We must remember that true success is a journey and not a destination. There is no such thing as instant success in any field. We all must do the best we can if we want to preserve the rich heritage of our fraternity for those who will follow us in the years to come.
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John Hunt Morgan
By Joseph F. Bennett,
FPS - Part II