Monday, January 9, 2012

Masonry in Fiction: A Death on the Wolf

From the time I became a Mason I knew my next novel would deal in some way with Freemasonry. I had two choices: write something along the lines of a Dan Brown novel, or have a more realistic story where one or more characters are Masons. I chose the latter. A Death on the Wolf is a coming of age story set in southern Mississippi during the summer of 1969. The main character, Nelson Gody, is a fifteen-year-old wrestling with all the typical teenage issues, but guided by a widower father who is a Mason, and who takes to heart the tenets of Freemasonry and lives his life accordingly. As we follow Nelson over the course of that summer we see how he is influenced by the way he's been raised as he faces moral and ethical dilemmas centered around falling in love for the first time, dealing with a secret his best friend has been hiding, and a dark stranger who one day rides into town on an exotic motorcycle. The summer ends with the devastating effects of Hurricane Camille, which laid waste to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in August of 1969.

A Death on the Wolf is available in trade paperback ($15.99) or e-book ($4.99) at Amazon or other online booksellers.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Laying the Capitol Cornerstone

On this date in 1793 George Washington presided over the Masonic ceremony laying the cornerstone for the Capitol building in Washington, DC. The following is the newspaper account of the event, from the Columbian Mirror & Alexandria Gazette.

On Wednesday last one of the grandest MASONIC Processions took place, which perhaps ever was exhibited on the like important occasion: It was in all probability much facilitated by an advertisement which appeared many days before in several news-papers of this state.

About 10 o'clock, Lodge, No. 9, were visited by that Congregation, so graceful to the Craft, Lodge, No. 22, of Virginia, with all their Officers and Regalia, an directly afterwards appeared on the southern banks of the Grand River Potomack: one of the finest companies of Volunteer Artillery that has been lately seen, parading to receive the President of the United States, who shortly came in sight with his suite -- to whom the Artillery paid their military honors, and his Excellency and suite crossed the Potomack, and was received in Maryland, by the Officers and Brethren of No. 22, Virginia and No. 9, Maryland whom the President headed, and preceded by a bank of music; the rear brought up by the Alexandria Volunteer Artillery; with grand solemnity of march, proceeded to the President's square in the City of Washington: where they were met and saluted, by No. 15, of the City of Washington, in all their elegant regalia, headed by Brother Joseph Clark, Rt. W.G.M. --- P.T. and conducted to a large Lodge, prepared for the purpose of their reception. After a short space of time, by the vigilance of Brother C. Worthy Stephenson, Grand Marshall, P.T. the Brotherhood and other Bodies were disposed in a second order of procession, which took place amid a brilliant crowd of spectators of both sexes, according to the following arrangement.

Viz. --- The Surveying department of the City of Washington.
Mayor and Corporation of George-Town.
Virginia Artillery.
Commissioners of the City of Washington, and their attendants.
Stone Cutters, Mechanics,
Two Sword Bearers.
Masons of the 1st. Degree.
Bibles &c. on the Grand Cushions.
Deacons with Staffs of Office.
Masons of the 2d degree.
Stewards with wands.
Masons of the 3d degree.
Wardens with truncheons
Secretaries with tools of office.
Past Master with their Regalia.
Treasurers with their Jewels.
Band of music.
Lodge No. 22, of Virginia, disposed in their own order.
Corn, Wine, and Oil.
Grand Master P.T. George Washington , W.M. No. 22, Virginia,
Grand Sword Bearer.

The procession marched two a-breast, in the greatest solemn dignity, with music playing, drums beating, colors flying, and spectators rejoicing; from the President's Square to the Capitol, in the City of Washington; where the Grand Marshall called a halt, and directed each file in the procession, to incline two steps, one to the right, and one to the left, and face each other, which formed a hollow oblong square; through which the Grand Sword Bearer led the van; followed by the Grand Master P.T. on the left --- the President of the United States in the Centre, and the Worshipful Master of Number 22, Virginia, on the right --- all the other orders, that composed the procession advanced, in the reverse of their order of march from the President's Square, to the south-east corner of the Capitol; and the Artillery filed off to a defined ground to display their maneuvers and discharge their cannon: The President of the United States, the Grand Master, P.T. and the Worshipful M. of No. 22, taking their stand to the East of a huge stone; and all the Craft, forming a circle westward, stood a short time in silent awful order;

The Artillery discharged a Volley.

The Grand Marshall delivered the Commissioners, a large Silver Plate with an inscription thereon which the missioners orders to be read, and was as follows:

This South East corner Stone, of the Capitol of the United States of America in the City of Washington, was laid on the 18th day of September 1793, in the thirteenth year of American Independence, in the first year of the second term of the Presidency of George Washington, whose virtues in the civil administration of his country have been as conspicuous and beneficial, as his Military valor and prudence have been useful in establishing her liberties, and in the year of Masonry 5793, by the Grand Lodge of Maryland, several Lodges under its jurisdiction, and Lodge No. 22, from Alexandria, Virginia. Thomas Johnson, David Steuart and Daniel Carroll, Commissioners, Joseph Clark, R.W.G.M. pro tem,., James Hobam and Stephen Hallate, Architects.” Collin Williamson, Master Mason.

The Artillery discharged a volley.

The Plate was then delivered to the President, who, attended by the Grand Master pro tem., and three Most worshipful Masters, descended to the cavazion trench and deposited the plate, and laid it on the corner-stone of the Capitol of the United States if America, on which were deposited corn, wine, and oil, when the whole congregation joined in reverential prayer, which was succeeded by Masonic chanting honors, and a volley from the Artillery.

The President of the United States, and his attendant brethren, ascended from the carazion to the East of the corner-stone, and there the Grand Master pro tem., elevated on a triple rostrum, delivered an oration fitting the occasion, which was received with brotherly love and commendation. At intervals during the delivery of the oration several volleys were discharged by the Artillery. The ceremony ended in prayer, Masonic chanting honors, and a 15-volley from the Artillery.

The whole company retired to an extensive booth, where an ox of five-hundred pounds weight was barbecued, of which the company generally partook with every abundance of other recreation. The festival concluded with fifteen successive volleys from the Artillery, whose military discipline and maneuvers merit every commendation. Before dark the whole company departed with joyful hopes of the production of their labor.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Frederick Dalcho, 33°

Today marks the 210th anniversary of Frederick Dalcho's receipt of the Thirty-Third Degree. His original patent, the oldest extant document of the Scottish Rite, resides in the archives of the Supreme Council in Washington, D.C.

Dalcho was instrumental in the formation of the Scottish Rite and served as its first Lt. Grand Commander. He was born in London in 1770 and came to America with his family in 1787. He studied medicine under his uncle and became a physician in 1790. He joined the Freemasons in Savannah, GA in 1792. While serving in the Army, he first moved to Charleston in 1796 where he would come in contact with High Degree masonry and meet the other men he would join with to form the Scottish Rite.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Early History of the High Degrees in the US

This is a terrific lecture given by Ill. Bro. Brent Morris, 33rd on the early history of High Degree Masonry in the U.S. His analysis and contrast of the nascent York Rite degrees and the degrees of the Royal Secret (what would become the Scottish Rite) is especially interesting.

The Royal Secret in the U.S. before 1801 from WEOFM on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Dialogue with a Non-Mason

Earlier this morning I got into a dialogue with someone about Masonry on the facebook page of a local radio station. At first I thought she was commenting on her husband who was a Mason, but I quickly realized that was not the case. Here is the exchange in full:

Her: My entire problem with the masons, the higher you go, the more secretive your activities are. I have no problem with my husband coming home and not telling me every single little detail about his day. I do have a problem with parts of his day being completely off limits because some guy he's in a club with said he couldn't tell. That's a bit scary. What is it that you can't tell your spouse?????? That's disrespectful of marriage. I don't want him hanging around with people like that.

If your husband is a Mason then he knows our order of loyalty is as follows: God, Family, Lodge. Sounds like the two of you need to have a serious talk if you feel his membership in the Masons is disrespectful of your marriage.

my husband isn't a mason, I know couples who are in that boat, though, and what happens at the lodge stays at the lodge. It does cause problems.

There are things that happen in the Lodge that stay in the Lodge. But nothing happens in a Lodge that should compromise a marriage unless the wife wants to insist that she has a right to know everything, down the last detail, of what her husband does 24-7. If a man is in that kind of marriage, then, because his ultimate loyalty must be to his family, he should not be a Mason. A wife who trusts her husband will trust that if her husband can't tell her certain things about the Masons, that's a reflection of his character and ability to abide by a pledge and that nothing in his loyalty to the Lodge is detrimental to his loyalty to his wife and family.

But wouldn't that trust dictate that if asked, an honest man should be able to answer? Encouraging secrecy between a man and his wife is a HUGE red flag to me. H U G E. I don't have to know everything, but if I ask, and you tell me that some dude that ISN'T joined to you inside the boundaries of marriage, the holiest of institutions, told you that you couldn't tell me, we got a problem.

Me: I
t would boil down to how much YOU trust your husband. Do you trust him enough to forgo your own curiosity, because that's all it is. You certainly don't have a need to know the details of what goes on in a Lodge. And keep this in mind: if your husband is a Mason and you ask him to reveal certain things he's sworn not to, you would be putting him the position of violating his oath. If he does that, how much faith could you really have in him after that?

If I am to trust you enough for you to not tell me what you've done with your evening, why do you not trust me enough to tell me? Trust goes both ways. Trust also says that we have accountability between us. People who end up struggling through hardships like hidden addictions and adultery usually start with "Go ahead, honey, I trust you."

Well, clearly your husband should not join the Masons.

I'd just not have faith in someone to start with who would endanger OUR vows as we became ONE by taking an oath to an outside organization or person to keep things from me. I don't expect you to come home and tell me what you had for lunch... everyday or how many times you rode the elevator. When you go outside our home and spend significant amounts of time with people I don't know doing things you are required to keep from me, that's an issue. I can't believe someone who has taken a marriage vow WOULDN'T consider that a problem.

It's a trust issue and it would clearly be a problem for you, thus if your husband sought membership I would counsel against it.

It's not WHAT you're doing. Heck, it could be, but you're all secretive about it so we don't know. It's the fact that when you take a marriage vow, the TWO become ONE and to violate that vow with an oath to keep things from your spouse is immoral. It creates trust issues. I don't care if you're off feeding orphans, if you are keeping secrets from your spouse, it's wrong.

What if your spouse is a lawyer? Should he violate attorney-client confidence just because you want to know? Or a doctor? Should he violate doctor-patient confidence just because you want to know? Or what if he's a civilian contractor for the DOD with top secret clearance? Should he violate his oath and reveal state secrets to you just because you want to know?

Gary, I don't go out and volunteer or socialize in such a way that I can't tell my husband. I know attornies, doctors, etc. The two are one. If the spouse wants to know, they will know. Because my friends and family know that the marriage covenant is more important than any other covenant made between two people. I don't think we can equate "where we've put our warships and why" to "I'm going out for the night, don't you dare ask where I am and what I'm doing". Really?

I really don't think this is something you need to worry about if your husband is not a Mason. You clearly are suspicious of Masonry and uneducated about it. No Mason would say to his wife "I'm going out for the night, don't you dare ask where I am and what I'm doing." What is more likely is "I'm going to Lodge, honey, and I'll be back around 10. My phone will be on buzz so call if you need me."

Trust goes both ways. Sorry. I think it's immoral, and I know about as much as anybody who isn't willing to take that nasty oath is able to know.

How do you know it's a "nasty" oath if you haven't taken it?

It requires me to keep info from my spouse. REQUIRES. NOTHING escapes the accountability and devotion of a solid marriage vow. NOTHING. That fact makes it nasty. Nothing else is required to qualify that assessment. Nothing can possibly redeem it. You could destroy poverty total and completely, feed, clothe and house every woman and child on the planet.............. but if you're keeping things from your wife, especially because someone on the outside of your sacred marriage vow told you to, it's a nasty oath. You've asked your wife to trust you when, not only have you not trusted HER, you've vowed NEVER to. EVER.

So when the Chief Justice of the SC Supreme Court swore me in to the SC bar, and I swore to keep "inviolate" the confidences of my clients, was I taking a "nasty" oath? Does your view of the marriage covenant require me to violate that oath if my wife decides she wants to know something about one of my clients?

Her: yep.

Me: least you're consistent, I'll give you that.

It's a matter or priority. Of who you esteem highest. If my husband were a lawyer, and I had a concern for his safety or the motives of a client to do something to undermine my husbands character, morals, or general wellbeing I would absolutely ask questions and there would be a problem if he didn't answer. I wonder how many men have left to go 'to the lodge' and wound up elsewhere and go away with debauchery because their wives were never allowed to ask? I know. I know. You're honest, moral and just. You'd never do that. You do, however, have a weakness somewhere. I'll not ask you where. There will be temptation at some point, however, in that area, and if your accountability partner is being left in the dark about your activities, she can't be your helpmate, as god's word says she is to be. Keep your accountability coach in the dark and you can fall into a hole and you won't even know it til the dirt starts being thrown in behind you.

So once again your bias and ignorance about Masonry comes out. Again (and this is my last word on the subject), since your husband is not a Mason, you don't need to worry about it.

I'll go ya one further, that debauchery may be happening inside the lodge. They may very well make it in the doors. Who am I to know, a husband couldn't share that info with his wife if he wanted to. Nothing sucks more than that moment during a debate when you realize you're wrong, eh?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Samuel Colt: Gunmaker and Mason

On February 25, 1836, Bro. Samuel Colt was granted a patent for his revolving cylinder handgun, what would become the "Patterson" Colt revolver. This gun was the progenitor of every successful revolver design from every U.S. gun maker, but more especially Colt's own Walker, Dragoon, Army and Navy percussion revolvers, as well as the legendary Single Action Army model of 1873.

Colt revolutionized gun making in the 19th century by introducing mass production and assembly lines to what had been the exclusive province of artisan gunsmiths. The company that bears his name is still going strong.