Friday, September 22, 2023

Discovery of Galaxy Heralds Intergalactic Travel by 2030

Scientists Plan Probe to Newly Discovered Galaxy by 2030

In the vast expanse of the universe, where mysteries and wonders await discovery, scientists have stumbled upon an astonishing find that has captured the imagination of astronomers and space enthusiasts alike. Recent observations from advanced telescopes have unveiled the existence of a galaxy like no other – a celestial entity resembling a giant bow tie, and within its enigmatic confines lies the potential key to unlocking the mysteries of interstellar travel. This discovery has given birth to ambitious plans by scientists to use a newly discovered wormhole to reach this bow tie galaxy and embark on an unprecedented journey beyond the stars.

The Bow Tie Galaxy

The Bow Tie Galaxy, as it has been affectionately named by scientists, was first spotted by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2021. Located approximately 1.1 million light-years away from Earth - closer than the Andromeda galaxy - it defies conventional galaxy classifications with its unique bow tie shape. This peculiar structure is believed to be the result of complex gravitational interactions within the galaxy, which have shaped it into this distinctive form over billions of years.

Wormhole Revelation

While the discovery of the Bow Tie Galaxy alone is an astronomical achievement, what has truly ignited the imagination of scientists is the existence of a wormhole at its center. Wormholes, also known as Einstein-Rosen bridges, are theoretical passages through spacetime that could potentially allow for faster-than-light travel between distant regions of the universe. The presence of a wormhole within the Bow Tie Galaxy has opened up a tantalizing possibility: the prospect of intergalactic travel.

Scientific Endeavors and Ambitious Plans

Since the discovery of the Bow Tie Galaxy and its associated wormhole, scientists from around the world have been working tirelessly to understand this phenomenon and harness its potential for exploration. Ambitious plans have been laid out to send an unmanned probe through the wormhole before the year 2030, marking a historic leap forward in humanity's quest to explore the cosmos.

The challenges facing this endeavor are immense. Wormholes, if they exist, are notoriously unstable and difficult to predict. Theoretical physics and advanced mathematics are being used to calculate the best window of opportunity for a successful journey. The probe, equipped with cutting-edge sensors and communication equipment, will gather invaluable data about the Bow Tie Galaxy and transmit it back to Earth.

The Promise of Discovery

The Bow Tie Galaxy is expected to offer a wealth of scientific knowledge once explored. Its unique shape hints at previously unknown phenomena occurring within its boundaries. Astronomers anticipate groundbreaking discoveries in the fields of astrophysics, cosmology, and even potential clues about the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

Moreover, the prospect of interstellar travel via wormholes opens up incredible possibilities for the future. While human travel through these cosmic gateways remains a distant dream, the knowledge gained from the unmanned probe's mission could one day pave the way for crewed missions to explore distant galaxies and star systems, revolutionizing our understanding of the universe.

Conclusion

The discovery of the Bow Tie Galaxy and its accompanying wormhole represents a remarkable breakthrough in our ongoing quest to explore the cosmos. The ambitious plans to send an unmanned probe through this interstellar gateway before 2030 are a testament to human ingenuity and our relentless curiosity about the universe.

As we await the results of this daring mission, one cannot help but wonder what wonders and mysteries the Bow Tie Galaxy holds within its bow-tie-shaped embrace. This discovery serves as a reminder that the universe is a limitless source of marvels, waiting for us to unlock its secrets and expand our understanding of the cosmos. The future of space exploration has never looked more promising, and the Bow Tie Galaxy may be the key to unlocking the next chapter in our cosmic journey.

One final thought... Artificial Intelligence created this entire article along with the image of the galaxy and as such, everything you just read is complete bullshit.





Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Seeds of Dissent — The Origins of Anti-Masonry

Part 1 – Hanoverians, Jacobites, Protestants, and Catholics

The Morgan Affair proved to be the great catalyst for the anti-Masonic movement in the United States. It was a tipping point which sparked years of animosity that could have brought the fraternity down, but it was not, as some think, the first shot across Masonry's bow. Even before the inception of the first Grand Lodge, anti-Masonic seeds began to sprout in Europe. These had their origins mainly within organized religious bodies which saw Freemasonry as a negative influence, if not a threat. The church was intensely opposed to Freemasonry's support of secular ideals, raising concerns of potential subversion. It was also suspicious of the fraternity's secretive practices and oaths which it viewed as heresy. Finally, the church saw the growing presence of Freemasonry within influential circles as a challenge to its power.

The first known criticism was launched at Freemasonry as – for lack of a better term – a labor union. In 1383, John Wycliffe, known for translating the Bible into English, said of the Masons,

"that they conspire together that no man of their craft shall take less on a day than they fix, that none of them shall do steady work which might interfere with the earning of other men of the craft, that none of them shall do anything but cut stone, though he might profit his master twenty pounds by one day's work laying a wall without harm to himself."i

That is to say, Freemasons would not work for less than their stated wage rate, nor would they do work which infringed on the skills and ability of other craftsmen to earn their wages.

As the Freemasons transitioned from operative to speculative, things became more heated. The craft shook the foundations of religion which, at the time, is to say it shook the Catholic church. Freemasonry, through its Charges, espoused tenets that were foreign to the teachings of the church. Chief among these was its acceptance of all religions. The very first section of Reverend James Anderson's Constitutions of 1723 makes it clear:

"...if [a Mason] rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist nor an irreligious Libertine. But though in ancient Times Masons were charg'd in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet 'tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguish'd; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remain'd at a perpetual Distance."

It did not help that the Masons were known to discuss radical Enlightenment-based concepts in their meetings such as the blasphemous ideas of Copernicus and Galileo that the earth orbited the sun – a notion that was a complete anathema to all that was good and holy.

In 1685, prior to the formation of the Grand Lodge of England, King James IIii, a Catholic, assumed the throne. At the time, considerable friction was brewing between Catholics and protestants in the country. Adding to the tension, James was a cousin of Louis XIV, King of France, and many in England were becoming increasingly wary of that relationship.

On top of the animosities building up over religion and his ties to France, James picked a fight with Parliament, eventually dissolving it in an attempt to form a new body that would support him unconditionally.iii James' 26-year-old daughter Mary was a protestant, which was a mitigating factor until 1688 when he had a son, James Francis Edward Stuart (James III), whom he announced would be raised as a Catholic. The birth of this son changed the line of succession, with many now outraged over the prospect of a Catholic dynasty in England. Just as many were certain the queen's pregnancy had been a hoax (a mystery that was never settled).iv

Talk of revolution was in the air. In 1688, a group of James'

former supporters led by John Churchill (1650 –1722, 1st Duke of Marlborough) wrote to the Dutch Prince William of Orange, pledging their support if he would invade England. William, who also happened to be the husband of James II's daughter Mary, did just that. After a few skirmishes, James ran off to his cousin in France with baby James III in his arms.v

With that, William and Mary became rulers of England. A political movement, the Jacobitesvi, arose supporting the restoration of James to the throne.

A quarter century later, George I became King.vii He was a member of the House of Hanover which had ruled in Germany beginning in the early part of the 17th century. So Hanoverians were now in charge in England and strongly opposed to the Jacobites.

The Jacobites saw Freemasonry as an important means to achieving their singular goal… restoring James or his Catholic Stuart successors to the throne.viii Their lodges were primarily Catholic. Hanoverian Lodges in England were mainly protestant but also admitted Catholics and atheists, as long as they adhered to the Hanoverian point of view.

Thinking the Hanoverians were infringing on Jacobite Freemasonry, the now grown up James Francis Edward Stuart, a good Catholic still living in France, approached Pope Clement, asking him to ban Hanoverian Freemasonry. James III thought since the Jacobian lodges were mainly Catholic, the Pope would go along with his request without also condemning the Jacobian brand of Freemasonry. The Pope didn't see it that way.

The Chief Minister of Louis XV of France, Cardinal André-Hercule de Fleury, who had been investigating Freemasonry as a part of the Inquisition, wanted all of Freemasonry banned.ix Clement, suspecting the King felt the same way and not wanting to cross the monarch, listened to de Fleury and in 1738, issued the first Papal Bull condemning the fraternity, In eminenti apostolatus specula:

"Now it has come to Our ears, and common gossip has made clear, that certain Societies… called in the popular tongue Liberi Muratori or Francs Massons… are spreading far and wide and daily growing in strength; and men of any Religion or sect, satisfied with the appearance of natural probity, are joined together, according to their laws and the statutes laid down for them, by a strict and unbreakable bond which obliges them, both by an oath upon the Holy Bible and by a host of grievous punishment, to an inviolable silence about all that they do in secret together… Thus these aforesaid Societies or Conventicles have caused in the minds of the faithful the greatest suspicion, and all prudent and upright men have passed the same judgment on them as being depraved and perverted. For if they were not doing evil they would not have so great a hatred of the light… We therefore… do hereby determine and have decreed that these same Societies… of Liberi Muratori or Francs Massons… are to be condemned and prohibited, and by Our present Constitution, valid forever, We do condemn and prohibit them.

Moreover, We desire and command that both Bishops and prelates, and other local ordinaries, as well as inquisitors for heresy, shall investigate and proceed against transgressors… and they are to pursue and punish them with condign penalties as being most suspect of heresy."

The Pope also notes in his encyclical, the first of many having since been issued against Freemasons, that "several countries" had already outlawed and eliminated Freemasonry.

In a way, one could argue it was not the Catholic church that struck this seminal blow to Freemasonry, rather it was differences between two factions of the Craft that got them condemned. At any rate, officially formed as a Grand Lodge in 1717, just two decades later the Catholic church, along with several countries, had banned the fraternity, leaving anti-Masonry as a stowaway on board as the Craft sailed for the new world.

Part 2 – The Incident

By the time Masonic lodges began to appear in what would become the United States, the Catholic church was on the verge of banning the Craft. Protestant evangelical churches, strict and unbending in their belief systems, were following suit. In addition, some colonists began to fear the secretive nature of Masonic lodges and their perceived influence over political and economic affairs was threatening the emerging nation. It was not lost on the populace that the Masonic lodges themselves, whether Ancient or Modern, owed their existence and allegiance to being sanctioned by lodges in England, a country daily waning in popularity with the upstart colonists. This, even though many, if not most, Freemasons went on to support the colonies in the American Revolution.

With other priorities to deal with in the fledgling colonies, anti-Masonry was simmering on the back burner, but nowhere near a boil. In fact, membership in the Craft was still seen as desirable, an honor, and not something everyone could achieve. A notorious incident began to change things.

Daniel Reese was a young apprentice pharmacist working in 1737 at a prominent apothecary in downtown Philadelphia. He was one of those who thought membership in Freemasonry would enhance his career and status in the community. With that, he told his boss, the respected and well-known Dr. Evan Jones, of his desire to join the organization. Dr. Jones also knew about the Freemasons, a group about which he had some doubts. Seeing an opportunity for some mischief, he told Reese he would arrange his admission to the order.

Jones and a few of his friends, none of whom were Masons, planned an elaborate mock "initiation" for the unsuspecting Reese. A few nights later, in the back yard of Jones' home, the group performed the ceremony. John Remington, a Philadelphia attorney, administered an "irreligious and scandalous" oath on the naive Reese, after which he was subjected to "absurd and ridiculous indignities," given a series of "ludicrous" signs, and then congratulated on having received the first degree of Freemasonry.

On a subsequent night, June 13, 1737, Reese presented himself at Dr. Jones' store to receive a "higher degree." The men blindfolded him and escorted him to the cellar. There, the perpetrators forced him to repeat an invocation to Satan, and coerced him into drinking a strong drug, most likely a laxative, "for sport."

The group then lit a pan of brandy and camphor and removed Reese's blindfold. At that, one of the sinister bunch confronted him wearing a cowhide cloak and horns, so Reese would assume he was the devil. The stunt failed to frighten Reese, so Jones threw the flaming liquid onto Reese,x severely burning him. Three days later, Reese died.xi

Remarkably, a coroner's inquest acquitted the Masonic impostors, although it severely condemned their actions. However, a grand jury subsequently indicted Jones, Remington and John Tackerbury (an expelled Mason) for murder. Jones and Remington were found guilty of manslaughter with Tackerbury being acquitted. The court granted Remington a pardon due to extenuating circumstances, including the need to provide for his family. Jones' sentence, to have his hand branded,xii was carried out immediately.

The Masons came under fire, even though they had absolutely nothing to do with the episode. The Brothers from St. John's Lodge and the Grand Master published a statement condemning the matter.

The proceedings of the trial revealed Benjamin Franklin was aware of the shenanigans. The Court of Common-Pleas had appointed him to settle an affair in which Jones was involved. During one of their meetings Jones told him about the first "initiation" and Franklin admitted to laughing heartily "as my manner is." Having heard about Franklin's reaction Andrew Bradford, Franklin's longtime rival in the printing industry, used that information to attack Franklin, as well as the Freemasons, in his newspaper, the American Weekly Mercury.

Franklin responded in his Pennsylvania Gazette, noting he stopped laughing when Jones told him of the incident with the laxative, and the fact the group made Reese swear to Satan. Bradford shot back with a rebuttal that proved to be the opening volley of what has been characterized as the first anti-Masonic series of articles in a newspaper in colonial America.xiii

Part 3 – Revolution

Anti-Masonry did not see a lot of growth during the era of the American Revolution. Colonists were, after all, preoccupied with other things. It is also a well-known fact that many Freemasons – George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock and a nearly endless list of others – supported the cause. Not only that, the Revolution was fought for liberty and equality, ideals that were consistent with those of the fraternity. The perceived secrecy added to the mystique of the order and most saw membership as a desirable enhancement to one's status.

Still, the same objections to the Craft that had always been there – suspicion of its secrecy, objections by organized religion, the perception of elitism, and rumors of conspiracies – continued to plague the Masons.

A few years after the American Revolution, the French Revolution came along and with it a complex relationship with Freemasonry. A number of factors including social inequality, financial problems due to the monarchy's extravagance, taxes, and the King's weak leadership led to public dissatisfaction culminating with the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789.

The Enlightenment, with its ideas about reason and individual rights appealed to the populace and was also a factor leading to its discontent. These same ideals promulgated by the Enlightenment, were not at all inconsistent with progressive Masonic thinking, leading many prominent Freemasons to support the revolution. Among these were the Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834), Georges Danton (1759-1794), Jean Sylvain Bailly (1736-1793), Count Volney (1757-1820), and Comte de Mirabeau (1749-1791).

The end of the revolution became a tumultuous period now known as the French Reign of Terror, characterized by extreme repression. The Committee on Public Safety sprang up in order to deal with threats to the revolution and the newly-formed republic. Although formed to suppress counter-revolutionary forces and protect the revolution, the Reign of Terror soon devolved into a violent force using accusations of treason to settle personal conflicts.

Not all Freemasons supported the revolution, but many of them supported it initially until the violence of the Reign of Terror emerged. As such some of those same Masons who were supporters of the revolution were later declared its enemies. Danton and Bailly were both declared traitors and guillotined when they became disenchanted with the Committee's violent tactics. Mirabeau and Lafayette changed their views but escaped the wrath of the Reign of Terror. Pierre Samuel DuPont de Nemours (1739-1817), who also fell into this group, escaped the guillotine only because the head of the Reign of Terror, Maximilian Robespierre, was executed beforehand.xiv

Without the existence of definitive data, it is probably safe to assume Freemasons, more than not, supported both revolutions. In the case of the French Revolution, it is probable Masonic support did not extend to the Reign of Terror. In both cases anti-Masonry may have been aligned with those in opposition to the revolutions or, later, part of Robespierre's terrorism.

Part 4 – Post-Revolutionary Resurgence

Once the American and French Revolutions were in the rear-view mirror, anti-Masonry again began creeping out into the open. Strong voices, including future president John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), John Robinson (1739-1805), and Reverend Jedidiah Morse (1761-1826), came on the scene to voice their opposition to the Freemasons.

In 1798, Robinson published a scathing 240 page diatribe with the daunting title, Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and Governments of Europe, carried on in the secret meetings of Freemasons, Illuminati and Reading Societies. Morse picked up on the views expressed in Robinson's book, preaching sermons against the Freemasons and Illuminati, claiming they had incited the French Revolution. This prompted George Washington, clarifying the separation between Freemasonry, the Illuminati, and the still active Jacobites to respondxv:

It was not my intention to doubt that, the Doctrines of the Illuminati, and principles of Jacobinism had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more truly satisfied of this fact than I am. The idea that I meant to convey, was, that I did not believe that the Lodges of Free Masons in this Country had, as Societies, endeavored to propagate the diabolical tenets of the first, or pernicious principles of the latter (if they are susceptible of separation). That Individuals of them may have done it, or that the founder, or instrument employed to found, the Democratic Societies in the United States, may have had these objects; and actually had a separation of the People from their Government in view, is too evident to be questioned.

Still, a growing segment of the population continued to be wary of the Freemasons. The mystique of the Craft's secret nature gave way, for some, to suspicions and rumors of brewing conspiracies, its gentry-based membership drew accusations of elitism, and objections by organized religion continued.

Within the Catholic Church, anti-Masonry became more intense. In 1739, Cardinal Firrao issued an edict imposing the death penalty for anyone disobeying In eminenti.xvi In 1751, Pope Benedict XIV issued Providas Romanorum Pontificum which reaffirmed Clement's bull of 1738, condemning Freemasonry based on its demand for oaths, secrecy, religious ecumenism, and its perceived opposition to the Church and State. In 1821 Pope Pius VII issued Ecclesiam a Jesu Christo, reinforcing opposition to Freemasonry based on its oath-bound secrecy. Leo XII published Quo graviora mala in 1825 condemning Freemasonry as a secret oath-binding society.

The Catholic church has issued many condemnations of Freemasonry since that time. However, after Quo graviora mala in 1825 little additional condemnation was necessary to change public opinion about the Craft. The following year, a man named William Morgan came on the scene and superseded anything the church could have done to turn the tide against the Masons.

Morgan's threats to reveal Masonic secrets and the Freemasons' ill-advised response garnered an anti-Masonic wave that swept the country, led to the formation of the anti-Masonic political party, forced the closing of many lodges, prompted many men to leave and disavow Freemasonry, and changed American history.


iThe Canadian Forum, a Monthly Journal of Literature and Public Affairs, Volume IV, No. 37, October, 1923, p. 284

iiJames II (October 14, 1633 – September 16, 1701) ruled England and Ireland as James II and Scotland as James VII from February 6, 1685 to December 23, 1688, with historians sometimes referring to him as King James II & VII.

iiiThis never happened. Once James II dissolved Parliament, it never met again during his tenure as king.

ivChurchill, Winston, A History of the English Speaking Peoples, The New World, Dodd, Mead & Company, 1966, pp.404-405.

vIbid, pp. 396-410. The English have called this relatively bloodless coup the "Glorious Revolution." Its alternate names have been "The Bloodless Revolution," and "The Revolution of 1688."

viThe name derives from the Latinized version of James, or Jacobus.

viiWilliam and Mary jointly ruled until her untimely death from smallpox in 1694. At William's death in 1702, Anne, the younger daughter of James II, took over. Anne died in 1714, when George I assumed the throne.

viiiIrish Jacobitism and Freemasonry, Sean J Murphy, Eighteenth-Century Ireland, vol 9, 1994, pp 75-82, https://tinyurl.com/Jacobism

ixBernheim, Alain (2011). Ramsay et ses deux discours (in French). Paris: videographer, broadcaster, television producer. pp. 17–19. ISBN 9782906031746.

xSome reports claimed Jones tripped, spilling the liquid.

xiPennsylvania Gazette, No. 444, June 9 to 16, 1737

xiiHand branding was a common punishment in the US through the early years of the 19th century. Most likely the letter "M," for "Murderer," was branded on Jones hand, an extremely painful and excruciating ordeal which Jones would carry for the rest of his life informing everyone he came into contact with of his crime.

xiiihttps://www.alrny.org/articles/power-of-the-press-the-bradford-amp-freemason-rivalry-in-provincial-america

xivDenslow, William, 10.000 Famous Freemasons, Volume IV Q-Z and supplement, Transactions of the Missouri Lodge of Research, Volume No. 17, 1960, © 1961, William R. Denslow, pp. 388-389

xvGeorge Washington to Washington, D.C., Commissioners, October 27, 1798 https://www.loc.gov/resource/mgw2.021/?sp=201

xviMany arrests were made in Florence, but no death sentences were known to be carried out.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Freemasonry For Non-Freemasons

To those who are not members of the fraternity, Freemasonry is somewhat of an enigma. In the extreme there are those who see it as a cult — a secret society of elitists who want to — or do — control the world. The entertainment world exacerbates the mysterious nature of the organization when it gives members supernatural powers, meeting in lodges with secret passageways and furnishings that open to reveal mysterious things. Freemasons, they would have us believe, know all the secrets… not just of Freemasonry but of life and the universe. Without much more to go on, outsiders’ views of Masons range from seeing them as the all-knowing Adept to the emissaries of Satan himself. The truth does not, in fact, lie somewhere in between. It lies elsewhere.

Freemasonry is a fraternal organization with roots going back to the medieval European stonemason guilds consisting of men — “operative Masons” — who built the great stone cathedrals of the era. (See Footnote 1) Gradually those guilds evolved into a social and charitable organization of men who did not necessarily work with stone — “speculative Masons.” That transformation took place over many years until the first Grand Lodge was founded in the year 1717 in England.

The tenets of Freemasonry are Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. It is a fraternal and social organization, committed to doing charitable work, and seeking — not defining — truth, through education, study, and discourse. Members are committed to personal growth and self-improvement, as well as the betterment of society.

Freemasonry uses symbols to convey moral and ethical lessons. Many of these allude to the fraternity’s origin as a group of men working in stone. For example a trowel, used to spread mortar which holds stone in place is seen as a symbol of that which spreads the cement of brotherly love and unites Freemasons into a society of friends and Brothers. Other Masonic symbols do not allude to stone Masonry, such as the beehive, which signifies industriousness and hard work.

It has been said many times and bears repeating: Freemasonry is not a secret organization; it is an organization with secrets. If Freemasonry were a secret society, it would not have signs advertising its presence hanging outside its buildings. Its lodges would not be making their phone numbers publicly available and its members would not be wearing jewelry announcing their membership. Members do, however, have certain aspects of their ritual and ceremonies they do not reveal, such as handshakes and passwords.

In their regular lodge meetings, Masons have an opening based on a ritual. While that ritual is not public, a pretty good representation of it can be found in your local libraries or on the all-knowing Internet. After opening the lodge, members conduct business and sometimes have an educational program or discussion. Afterward, there is a ritual-based closing. On certain occasions Masons initiate new members into the Masonic degrees. They also hold officer installations and other ceremonies which are open to the public.

Freemasonry is not a religion, but it requires its members to have a belief in God. Men of all faiths are welcome, and the fraternity is committed to religious tolerance and diversity.

The individual lodge is the bedrock unit of Freemasonry. It is in his local lodge that a Freemason receives the first three Masonic degrees in separate ceremonial initiations. (See Footnote 2) It has been said the Third Degree is the highest Masonic degree, even though those with higher numbers follow. In Masonry, no advancement to those degrees is mandatory.

Freemasonry includes other groups which are a part of its overall structure. The Scottish Rite is a Masonic organization that is focused on the continuation of the philosophical and educational aspects of the fraternity. It is composed of 29 additional degrees from the Fourth through the Thirty Second. The Scottish Rite awards the well-known Thirty-Third degree as an honorary degree to a select few members who have given exemplary service to the fraternity and community.

The York Rite is another Masonic organization that is also focused on continuing the philosophical and educational aspects of Masonry. It is composed of three bodies: the Royal Arch Chapter, the Cryptic Masons Council, and the Commandery of Knights Templar. The Chapter and Council, like all preceding degrees, are open to Masons of all faiths. The Commandery of Knights Templar, however, is reserved for Christian Freemasons, and is patterned after the order of the same name which was active during the Middle Ages.

The Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, known simply as The Shriners, is an American organization composed exclusively of Freemasons. It was established in 1870 “based on fun, fellowship, and Masonic principles.” Now known as Shriners International, it is headquartered in Tampa, Florida. Members, wearing their trademark maroon fez headpieces, participate in parades and other fun activities all the while raising funds for charity. In 1920, the group founded the Shriners Hospitals for Children, opening the first hospital in 1922. Today the organization consists of a network of hospitals and clinics throughout the country offering a variety of services to children aged 18 and under.

In fact, one of the most important aspects of Freemasonry is its commitment to charity. Freemasons are involved in a wide range of charitable activities, from supporting local community organizations to providing disaster relief around the world. In addition to the Shriners Hospitals, other charities include the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, The Scottish Rite Clinics and others.

There is no worldwide head or governing body of Freemasonry. Each jurisdiction stands on its own and is connected to others simply by the mutual recognition of each. A jurisdiction usually consists of a country or, in the case of places like the Untied States, a state, province, or locality. The leader of each jurisdiction has the title of Grand Master. Grand Lodge members elect the Grand Master and, in most cases, he serves for only a year or two, with the final, almost dictatorial, word in all matters. In the United States there are 51 Grand Masters, separately governing each state plus the District of Columbia. The Grand Lodge is responsible for overseeing the operation of the lodges within its jurisdiction, setting standards for those lodges to adhere to, and promoting Masonic education.

In 1784, the Grand Lodge of England granted a charter to a group of free black men who were Freemasons but, due to prevailing racial segregation were not a part of existing lodges. Led by Prince Hall, the group founded African Lodge 1, becoming the first Masonic lodge for men of African descent. From there, Prince Hall Freemasonry spread quickly throughout the United States in the face of discrimination and segregation. Today, Grand Lodges throughout the United States as well as several other countries recognize the Prince Hall Grand Lodge as a legitimate part of Freemasonry. Apart from Prince Hall Freemasonry, regular Freemasonry also admits African Americans as well as men with all other ethnic and racial backgrounds.

Perhaps surprisingly, there are also women Freemasons. The Eastern Star is an appendant body of Freemasonry which includes women. The organization uses symbolism and rituals, is devoted to charitable work and community service, but its members are not Freemasons. There have been a few women who were what might be called “mainstream” Freemasons. In these cases Masons discovered the women had overheard the Masonic degrees. They decided the best way to deal with the situation was to initiate the women into the order and put them under obligation to keep secret what they had learned. Other women, most notably a group called Le Droit Humain, have formed their own Masonic organizations paralleling the rituals and practices of regular Freemasonry. To date, no women’s group of Freemasons has been recognized by any regular Masonic group.

Freemasonry, a fraternal organization with a commitment to charity and self-improvement, currently has a membership of about four million men around the world with about one million members in the US. Fifteen US Presidents have been members along with countless others who have been a part of Freemasonry’s unique role in American and world history. In spite of Freemasonry’s high standards, record of community service, and role in American History, it still remains a mystery to many outside the fraternity. (See Footnote 3)

(1) Roughly from the late 5th to late 15th centuries.

(2) The first degree is known as the Entered Apprentice degree, the second is the Fellowcraft Degree, and the third is the Master Mason degree.

(3) This brief overview cannot tell the full story of Freemasonry. For further information, there are a number of in-depth books available, not the least of which are Freemasonry For Dummies by Christopher Hodapp, or The Complete Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry by S. Brent Morris. Both are well-crafted and by no means are they for dummies or idiots. Each is available online and at most bookstores.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Musterion


"Just what," he asked, "do you do inside those lodge rooms?"

The question came out of nowhere, unexpected. A friend sitting across from me at lunch just suddenly exploded with curiosity, wondering what mysterious things we Masons do in… secret.

I recalled asking a similar question myself as I stood outside a lodge room as a non-Mason, waiting for admission to present my father his 50 year pin, "What in the world must be going on in there?"


Many in the profane world, on the rare occasions their thoughts turn to Freemasonry, ask the same question, or similar questions about the fraternity. In the ensuing silence, absent annoying facts, the deadly combination of imagination and speculation mixed with the enticing elixir of mystery and secrecy sets in. We have seen all too many examples of the resulting urban legends about our activities.

Our word "mystery" derives from the Greek word "musterion," Implying secrecy, it was used to describe the activities and tenets of the many ancient Greek guilds, brotherhoods and schools of philosophy. Only the initiates of those organizations knew their secrets, which were beyond the understanding of outsiders. Sound familiar? The word is likewise used in the Bible. In Matthew 13:11 Jesus says, "To you (his disciples) it has been granted to know the mysteries (musterion) of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted," emphasizing the concept that his disciples have knowledge beyond the capacity of outsiders to understand.

Individuals or groups… everyone has secrets. Your company's board of directors doesn't always make its minutes public. Your church trustees discuss confidential topics. Individuals have things they want to keep to themselves. I have even personally known two couples who were secretly married. We revere our secrets, and most times we have them for what we think are legitimate reasons; but just let someone else have a secret and it will draw people like a magnet. Busybodies of the world, unite!

When Brother Meriwether Lewis scouted ahead of the Corps of Discovery and climbed that first mountain in the Rockies, he did not know what he would find at the summit. It was a mystery. He later wrote that he conjured up a picture of the mountain sloping into a green valley, with the Columbia river flowing through it and maybe, far-far away a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean and their final destination. When he got to the top he saw nothing of the sort as he looked at miles and miles and miles of more mountain tops. His imagination did not match reality. Rather, a "rough and rugged road" was revealed to him. Rarely is our speculation about what will be revealed an accurate outcome.

Most mysteries don't lead to speculation about green fields and flowing rivers, do they? Given human nature, the imagination seems to lead us down a more sinister path or into something just plain weird. Swamp gas becomes a flying saucer. Or was it the other way around?

So Freemasonry, a System of morality, veiled in allegory, illustrated by symbols, and all that stuff, becomes an easy target. Outsiders see the symbols, some looking weird and exotic. They don't understand or don't know about the allegory and, voila… a musterion.  Now, throw in a dab of secrecy and you've got people worked into a frenzy.  

It is common for law enforcement agencies to withhold information about a suspect during an investigation. They do this in order to avoid tipping off the suspect about what they know. This, of course drives people crazy. They want to know everything and they want to know now – even though releasing that information might be detrimental to their ultimate goal: catching the suspect. Transparency is good, but so is discretion. We love our own secrets and hate other people's. So my company can can keep its plans confidential, but not those sinister Freemasons. And by the way, secret does not mean sinister.

Here's a protip: don't write a book called "The History of Freemasonry." Call it "The Secret History of Freemasonry." It's good for sales.

Mystery, secrecy, imagination and speculation… mix them all together and you give people license to run free and wild, and come up with opinions like these:

I don't have any real proof but I know for sure…

Freemasonry is a cult
Freemasons worship Satan
Freemasons control the world
Freemasonry is a secret society
Freemasons are elitists


When it really gets fun is when the entertainment world takes over.  There, our lodge rooms have passageways to strange places. We take on supernatural powers. Our altars and other lodge furnishings open to reveal mysterious things. We solve complicated and cryptic puzzles like they're second grade math. We know all the secrets… not just of Freemasonry, but of life and the universe. We are, in fact, the Adept.

So I answered my friend's question. "In our lodge rooms we have an opening based on a ritual. While it's not public, you can find a pretty good representation of it in your local library or on the all-knowing Internet. We conduct a business meeting. Sometimes we have an educational program or discussion. Then we have a ritual-based closing. On certain occasions we initiate new members into the Masonic degrees and we also hold officer installations and other ceremonies which are open to the public."

Then I asked, "Are you disappointed?" He politely said, "no." But I couldn't help wondering if what I had told him had his imagination running wild.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Tim Horton

 


If a Canadian Brother ever takes you out for a cup of coffee and a doughnut, odds are he won't take you to a Starbucks, a Dunkin', a Krispy Kreme, or anywhere other than a Tim Hortons.

Founded in 1964, the Tim Hortons chain, has become a popular and iconic Canadian establishment which has expanded worldwide with nearly 5,000 restaurants in Canada, the US, the UK, Mexico, and other countries. It even has over 20 restaurants in Communist China.

In our neighbor to the north, Tim Horton is a household name, but who was he? There are at least two things most people, especially youth who only know "Timmies," as a hip place to gather, do not know about Tim Horton. First, he was one of the greatest hockey players ever. Second, he was a Freemason, raised in Kroy Lodge 676 in Toronto.

Born in Cochrane, Ontario on January 12, 1930, Brother Miles Gilbert "Tim" Horton played in various levels of youth hockey as he steadily grew into a mountain of a man.  A young standout, he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1949, where he played for most of his 22 years. At the time there were only six teams in the National Hockey League. It was more popular in Canada than in most of the US, and there were no big million dollar salaries. His first contract paid $9,000 per season – not enough to make him rich, yet enough to provide for a comfortable living. Tim Married Delores "Lori" Michalek, an Ice-Capades performer, in 1952.

Scouting reports on Horton claimed with his size and strength, he had the potential to become hockey's greatest defenseman. The reports were not wrong, as he skated his way into becoming a member of four Stanley Cup teams, an NHL all-star, and eventually a member of its Hall of Fame. In 2016, the Toronto Maple Leafs retired his #7 jersey and the following year he was named as one of the 100 greatest NHL players ever.

Horton's ability and strength became legendary in the NHL. Hockey great Bobby Orr has said Tim Horton may have been the league's strongest player ever. Tim's trademark during a fight was to wrap his arms around an opposing player in a crushing hug. One commentator remarked, "You didn't get out of that vice grip until Horton let you out."

A player Horton once punched was asked in an interview what it was like to take such a hit from the hockey superman. "I'd rather he hit me," he said, "than get me in one of his bear hugs."

Horton's fairy-tale career and even his life nearly came to an end in 1955. In a game near the end of the season, Chicago  defenseman Bill Gadsby slammed into him with a blow so hard it sent Tim to the ice where he sustained a concussion, broken jaw, and broken leg. Gadsby later said it was the hardest hit he ever gave anyone. Back then, a disabled hockey player did not get paid. Horton missed the remainder of the '55 season and half of the next year as well. In the interim, Constantine "Conn" Smythe, Maple Leafs owner, gave him a job as a truck driver. The job helped, but did not meet his family's financial needs. This gave Tim incentive to work hard to get back into the game.

In 1964, in order to supplement his hockey income, Tim opened the first of his coffee and doughnut shops in Hamilton Ontario. In 1967, he brought in Ron Joyce, an acquaintance who owned a local Dairy Queen, as a partner.  The chain, known simply as "Tim Hortons," was an immediate success and, together, Tim and Ron continued to expand the business.

For the next few years the restaurant chain and Tim's hockey career went well. Lori, alone at home, weary of Tim's absences and bored, developed problems with alcohol. At the end of the 1973 season, she asked Tim to retire. Tim had fallen into the trap of drinking to celebrate his victories and also to drown the sorrows of his losses. He had been traded to the Buffalo Sabres by then, and he agreed to end his career. However, George "Punch" Imlach, the Buffalo coach offered him $150,000 and a new Ford Pantera if he would play just one more year.

Brother Horton agreed. Near the end of the season, he was injured and taking prescribed painkillers so he could continue to play. After a late season game in Toronto, Tim had a few drinks with his teammates, then called Lori and said he was driving home. She could tell the combination of painkillers and alcohol had affected him and begged him to wait until the next day to drive. Tim insisted he was okay, and in the early morning hours of February 21, 1974, headed out in his new Pantera. In that car, his pride and joy, he only had two speeds: zero and greased lightning. Lori called the Ontario Provencal Police, and they set up roadblocks to stop him. He made it as far as St. Catherines, near the US border when he lost control of his car. It flipped several times and Tim was thrown from the vehicle and killed. He was 44.

After Tim's death, Lori said, "I went into a daze for about 15 years." She sold her shares in the restaurant and all rights to use Tim's name to Ron Joyce for one million dollars. Years later, after she stopped drinking, she realized the sale was a mistake and, in 1993, sued Joyce. She lost the lawsuit, which cost her most of her remaining savings.

Tim's life was a cocktail of stellar success and tragedy. Today, his remaining children and grandchildren have no rights to the empire he built or his name; and to them it may be of little consolation that name is so well known in his country that it has become a part of the Canadian culture.


Thursday, August 4, 2022

Freemasonry's Journey West

 

 
Once the young United States became established as a country and the march of time moved us past the first third of the 19th century, wanderlust captured the hearts of adventurous pioneers who who began moving westward. In a time before instant communication and fast travel, the Santa Fe, California, and Oregon Trails became the superhighways of the day. In St. Joseph, Missouri, hundreds of covered wagons lined up waiting to take the Francis Street Ferry across the Missouri River and into Kansas Territory to begin the long and treacherous journey west.

Masonic Brothers Joseph Hull, William Daugherty and P.G. Stewart were three of those pioneers who finally settled in Oregon City. Once established in their new homes, the three placed in an ad in the newspaper asking for local Brothers interested in forming a chartered Lodge to meet and begin the process. Seven Brothers met on February 21, 1846 and drafted a letter requesting the Grand Lodge of Missouri grrant a charter for what would be called Multnomah Lodge.

They gave the letter to Brother Joel Palmer who carried it back to Platte City Lodge 56 during the summer of 1846. He gave it to Brother James Spratt, who delivered it to the Grand Lodge, which granted the charter for Multnomah Lodge 84 in October, and sent it back to Platte City. It took over a year to find an appropriate Brother, Pierre Barlow Cornwall, who began his journey back west in April of 1847.

Along the way, Cornwall met and became friends with Joseph and Orrin Kellogg, who were also traveling to Oregon. The entire party barely survived when their wagon train was captured by Indians but they somehow made it out alive and went on to Fort Hull, Idaho, where the California and Oregon trails diverged.

The California Gold Rush was just getting started but it was the talk of the town at Fort Hull. Hearing about the Gold, Brother Cornwall decided to seek his fortune. He gave the Multnomah charter to the Kelloggs and literally headed for the hills. The Kelloggs completed the journey to Oregon, delivering the charter on September 11, 1848, two years and seven months after the Brothers in Oregon had made the original request.

Joseph Hull was so excited to receive the charter that he called a meeting that very day.  The Brothers set up the Lodge and fashioned podiums with a barrel of flour in the east, whiskey in the west, and salt pork in the south, with the contents representing corn, wine, and oil. Then, in a marathon meeting that lasted sixteen hours, the members consecrated the Lodge, elected officers, and held three Entered Apprentice, three  Fellowcraft, and two Master Mason Degrees. Hull became the first Master with the Kelloggs and Joel Palmer also filling offices.

Unfortunately gold fever swept up the Brothers at Multnomah Lodge 84 and the majority left for California, which left the Lodge in disarray.

One of those Oregon Brothers, Lot Whitcomb, started a steamboat company there and hired Brother John Ainsworth to pilot his boat. Ainsworth became disenchanted with the gold rush and, having heard about Multnomah from Whitcomb, traveled to Oregon, where he not only brought the Lodge back to life but started the Oregon Scottish Rite. As a result of Ainsworth's efforts, Multnomah Lodge became the first chartered under the Grand Lodge of Oregon and remains in existence.

Today, the ability to communicate instantaneously has become second nature to us. Any one of us could take the same months-long journey Joel Palmer or the Kelloggs took in less than a day. We take it for granted so much that it's hard to imagine the time, not to mention the danger of communicating and traveling back then. Under those conditions, however, Freemasonry blossomed and thrived, extending the length and breadth of the United States. The Grand Lodge of Missouri was at the center of this expansion. All-in-all it granted 37 charters to lodges in ten new jurisdictions, far more than any other Grand Lodge, earning it the title, as coined by iconic Masonic author H.L. Haywood, "The Magna Mater of American Freemasonry."

Famous Last Words

 

Pete Maravich was one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He was so good he remains the only white player ever to be offered a contract by the famed Harlem Globe Trotters. On January 5, 1988, 40-year-old "Pistol Pete," as he was known, was playing in a pickup game in Pasadena. On a break, he walked over to a minister who was watching and told him, "I feel great;" and then dropped dead. Neither Maravich or the minister he was with were Freemasons; but this episode isn't about Pete Maravich. It's about famous last words.

There are dozens upon dozens of reports of people's famous last words. Take, for example, the Marx Brothers who gave us a couple of them. Groucho's dying quip was, "This is no way to live," while Chico told his wife, "Put in my coffin a deck of cards, a golf club, and a pretty blonde.”

Soothsayer Nostradamus' last prediction, which came true, was also the last thing he said, "Tomorrow, at sunrise, I shall no longer be here.”

As Joan Crawford lay dying her housekeeper stood in the room praying for her. Crawford became angry and yelled at her, “Damn it! Don’t you dare ask God to help me!”

Of course there are a number of Freemasons who have chimed in with some interesting last words. Nell Land, wife of Brother Frank Land, founder of DeMolay reported as he lay dying he looked at her and with his last breath said, "It is the beginning."

Brother Winston Churchill, just before slipping into a coma for the final time, whispered, "I'm bored with it all."

Sarah Franklin, daughter of Brother Benjamin Franklin, agonized as she saw him suffering and struggling to breathe on his death bed. Trying to help, she suggested he shift position so he could breathe more easily. Franklin replied, "A dying man can do nothing easy.”

As his life faded, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe asked for the window's shutters to be opened and said, "More light." A Freemason asking for more light… Imagine that.

But the one in particular I wanted to mention was a Brother you may not be familiar with, Georges Jacques Danton

Danton (1759-1794), was a member of the Lodge of the Nine Sisters at Paris. He held many public offices, most notably president of the National Convention which effectively made him the President of France in 1793. A revolutionary leader, Danton advocated the overthrow of the French monarchy in favor of a unified France and stable republican government.  In August, 1792, He led and uprising against the king. Caught up in the "Reign of Terror," Danton went to prison and the guillotine at the order of the dictator Robespierre.  As Brother Danton's cart carried him to his execution, it rolled past Robespierre's house with Danton shouting insults at the tyrant and predicting he would also be executed... which he was.  When the executioner took him up to the guillotine, Brother Danton turned to him and uttered some of history's most famous last words, "You will show my head to the crowd: It is worth seeing."