True Secrets of Freemasonry

Those who become Freemasons only for the sake of finding out the secret of the order, run a very great risk of growing old under the trowel without ever realizing their purpose. Yet there is a secret, but it is so inviolable that it has never been confided or whispered to anyone. Those who stop at the outward crust of things imagine that the secret consists in words, in signs, or that the main point of it is to be found only in reaching the highest degree. This is a mistaken view: the man who guesses the secret of Freemasonry, and to know it you must guess it, reaches that point only through long attendance in the lodges, through deep thinking, comparison, and deduction.

He would not trust that secret to his best friend in Freemasonry, because he is aware that if his friend has not found it out, he could not make any use of it after it had been whispered in his ear. No, he keeps his peace, and the secret remains a secret.

Giovanni Giacomo Casanova, Memoirs, Volume 2a, Paris, p. 33

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Convince The World...

In the California Masonic Ritual, the candidate is told, upon being raised:
Be kind, be just, and be true, and convince the world by your actions that upon becoming a master mason, you have become a better man. Retain, we entreat you, that goodness of heart, that purity of intention and that love of virtue, of which we now think you possessed, and of which, this spotless vestment, wherewith you are now girded, is at once the emblem, the badge, and the reward.
More often than, not, that is exactly what the candidate then does, and is the goal that most of us strive for in our daily lives. Unfortunately, the internet being what it is, and "anonymity" being what it is, some brothers have lost sight of that goal.

Recently, a new obedience has formed, the Grand Orient of the United States of America, based in part on the United Grand Lodge of America. Anger has flared and regrettable words have been spoken. There is no point in... pointing fingers... there is enough blame to go around for all of us to hang our heads a bit... even me... or some would say, especially me.

Lets look at what lead to this mess and see what we as masons can learn from it:

Halcyon #498 suffered a near mortal wound from men who were supposed to protect, cherish, and grow their lodge. They "surrendered" their charter and turned in their dues cards rather than obey the edict of the grand master. That is their right, to demit and leave if they cannot obey. The other... actions are what got the ball rolling.

Their is no point in rehashing the whys and wherefores. If you know, well and good, if you don't, you can find out easily enough. It would be unmasonic of me to further belabor the issues... they are what they are, move along. Fortunately, the lodge has survived, and the Grand Master of Ohio, Grand Architect guide and protect him, is moving to set things that were wrong back to right.

So we have the whole Halcyon issue stirring the brothers up, and we start taking sides, the regular masons, appalled and the... other masons, cheering the action. This display in itself was unseemly. I played a part in this, revealing the facts as they became available and opining on its ramifications as I saw them. In retrospect, this only inflamed the curious, the angry, and the uninvolved.

It is not the purpose of this blog to add to or to try to ameliorate this situation. This mason is willing to wait a time with patience while the Grand Master of Ohio, his lawyers and the court system fix this issue. I will have nothing further to say on this issue until the Grand Master of Ohio settles this, I imagine, in court. I can only pray that there is no further damage to the former members of Halcyon. I do not wound the pound of flesh closest to their hearts, I just want everything put to right.

Then, weeks after the Halcyon #498 issue came to light with the publication of Mr. Ken Miller's (former master of Halcyon Lodge) letter to the brethren of Halcyon who were not present to vote, which he made public, an announcement was made regarding the formation of the Grand Orient of the United States.

There are already hot and angry feelings across the face of masonry over the United Grand Lodge of America. There is no reason to go into them here, if you are curious, you can find opinions on both sides of the issue. So when the announcement came that the United Grand Lodge of America was being subsumed into a new organization, formed with the Grand Orient of France, the Grand Orient of the United States, tempers flared.

As if that were not enough, Masonic Forums and Blogs were getting heated over the whole issue and claims made by the new Grand Orient of the United States, A fellowcraft, there is no point in naming him, due to issues of his own, took virtual ownership of the whole Grand Orient issue and used it as a cudgel against the Regular Grand Lodge system and all regular masons... and darn near anyone else. Anyone else... including some of our female brothers from co-ed and female only obediences.

If anyone did not drink the Kool Ade he was serving hot and steaming, they got dished some very personal... observations. He posted his observations and uninformed opinions on several masonic forums, sent emails, made phone calls, and claimed to be a member of this new Grand Orient.

The three issues together served to create a, well, not perfect, but a storm across the internet, with brothers in Australian, New Zealand, the UK, France, and yes, in the United States as well participating. It got so bad that one brother blogger, famed for his... heretical approach to freemasonry and his freewheeling and, frankly, dangerously refreshing views on free speech, to shut the comments section of his blog down for 24 hours.

My brother blogger essentially sent everyone to their rooms to reflect and chill. Good for him! It must have been a tough call, and he has my full support, for whatever its worth... he and I have had our own moments, but we have moved through and past them because and due to the influence of the pure principles of freemasonry... that and we are both real swell guys. LOL

Its been a bad two weeks all around, and there is no glory in this for any of us. As masons, we should not allow the prattling of one person to set us on fire, nor should we allow the formation of another masonic obedience to get us excited, after all
Brotherly love teaches us to regard the whole human species as one family, the high and the low, the rich and the poor, who, as created by one almighty parent and inhabitants of the same planet are to aid, support and protect each other. On this principle masonry unites men of every country, creed and opinion, and causes true friendship to exist among men who would otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance. ~California Masonic Ritual, First Degree Lecture

Above I mentioned three major elements that brought us to this pass.There is yet one more element... we lost sight of the compasses, which we have all been told:
that you may never lose sight of that valuable instrument by which we are taught to circumscribe our desires and to keep our passions within due bounds toward all mankind... particularly our brothers in freemasonry.

Many of us were already angry at the UGLoA, for a variety of reasons, some good, some ok, some not so good. It is not the purpose of this blog to dissect the UGLoA, nor, frankly, the Grand Orient of the United States... and why should it be?

As has been noted elsewhere here, here, here, and here, there are other forms of masonry. They may not be regular masons, but they are masons of a sort, and if the UGLoA makes them happy where regular masonry does not, we should not stand in their way, but send them ON their way.

For a happy regular mason, the Grand Orient of the United States may not be your cup of tea... its certainly not mine, but for some, who are discontented, for whatever reason, valid, invalid, who cares, it may be what they want/need. They may learn from it what they could not learn in a regular lodge because of attitude, or aptitude or... whatever. Who cares? If it makes them happy, it is my considered opinion that they should draw up stakes and go... with what they came to the fraternity with, and not a stick, book, building or dollar more.

Freemasonry: Its not about me changing them, its about me changing me.

If a man in my lodge is unhappy and cannot get his way, he is a disturbance to MY lodge. If the lodge or grand lodge cannot make him happy for whatever reason, then we should wish him well and send him on his way. Maybe he can find happiness somewhere else, who knows, but that is part of HIS journey, not ours.

There are those that are happy in the Ordo Templii Orientis, and others in the Builder's of Adytum, and others in the Moose, Elk or Eagles lodges. Let us smile at our brothers, wish them well and send them on their way, on a smooth and level path to wherever life leads us. We cannot get wrapped around the axle of their life and choices. All we can do is be there for them until they leave, then shed a tear as they go.

It is the considered opinion of this blog that we take the season and the spirit that comes with it, evaluate the joys we find in freemasonry, whether part of the regular grand lodges system, the Grand Orient, or whatever obedience makes you happy. One caveat however: just because you are happy in your obedience, be mindful of the masonic principle of tolerance. Lets not try to convert each other... just like religion, this should be a subject that is set aside among brothers and fellows, because, as we have seen the past three weeks, all it does is cause contention.
May the blessing of heaven rest upon us and all regular masons, my brotherly love prevail, and moral and social virtue, cement us!


Unknown said...

Well said, my Brother. Although what has transpired over at the side of the world has no bearing on the fraternity over here, nevertheless what you have echoed ring true to the ear of every Brothers around the world.

Fraternally yours
Bro. E

Br. Arthur Peterson said...

Personally, I thought it was well said, even if I don't agree with all that was written.

I only wish I had half your eloquence when it comes to the written word.

Br. Arthur Peterson

Galen Dean said...

Wow! I am surprised by my quick internet search related to the Halcyon Lodge.

I had no idea something like this was going on.

Although I don't have enough data to form an opinion about this subject, I must compliment Bro. Dunn on the tone and content of this piece. Any man capable of critical thinking should respect the position put forth by Bro. Dunn, regardless of which side of the fence he is on.

Galen Dean, Master-Elect
Fellowship Lodge #668
Yucaipa, Ca

Virginia Mormon said...

Well said, my dear Brother.

I concur with your conclusions and believe that it is high time we began to enjoy the Holiday season that is upon us.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

Fraternally yours,

Bro. Eric Martin
Founder of
The Voice of Freemasonry Blog

masontruth said...

Dear Brother Dunn,
You have issued very kind and Brotherly words. I know they come from your heart.
You are truly a good, sincere man and and equally good Mason. These are important issues to Masonry in general. Please understand my Brother that from my point of view it is not "Main Stream Masonry vs other avenues of Masonry." The world needs all these avenues. There are aspects of Masonry that must exist for it to be Masonic at all, Mainstream or otherwise. In all things Masonic the good of our Craft will come to the top and shine. Grand Lodge of Ohio in time will be able to straighten things out. I respect your decision not to further discuss the issue. See you tonight Brother. G-d Bless,

Sincerely & Respectfully,
Manny Blanco, PM
Moreno Valley Masonic Lodge # 804
Grand Lodge of California

Anonymous said...

I have never seen such a mess. Let me enumerate them:

1) Changing the name from UGLA to "Grand Orient" will do nothing to help American masonic candidates "get" masonry better. I believe it is a poor "marketing" idea. One can object to the term "marketing", but it was a "marketing philosophy" that led them to choose the new name.

2) But item (1) is just an issue of public awareness. It may be silly, but it is not untoward. What I do find untoward are calumnies (defamations) heaped on brother freemasons for severing their connection with a Grand Lodge and its Grand Master.

Those who hurl zealous accusations of non-masonic behavior apparently do not know enough about Freemasonry's earliest public years. The first Grand Lodge of London was only for the founding lodges and those who wanted to join them from around the environs of London.

There were dozens and dozens of lodges that continued to operate for years without joining the Grand Lodge of London.

One of the lodges that helped found the Grand Lodge of Scotland RESIGNED the next year, and maintained its independent operation from the GL of Scotland for generations.

OH!!! By the way, they KEPT their lodge property despite what the Grand Lodge might have said.

3) Some brothers are essentially arguing that Grand Lodges are
**THE** lodge, and the various "blue lodges" in the state are
merely "departments", or "rooms", or "clubs" of the REAL lodge --
which would be the GL of the jurisdiction.

That "ain't" the way it is, boys.

The lodges are their own sovereign entities. And if a lodge leadership, by due process, has concluded that the lodge must go
independent, then it is the lodge's right to do so. Naturally, DUE PROCESS is key here. But due process is not the same thing as opening a vein so that everyone gets a cup of blood. Due Process is only what is "reasonable" ... not to be measured by "What would Jesus Do?"

4) We can expect the Ohio G.L. to react with all due prejudice. It really shouldn't. Masonry is not about the Grand Lodge. But naturally this kind of reasoning makes no sense to officers of
any Grand Lodge. So the G.L. is just going to make a hellatious
fuss over something that should be left alone. Plenty of poor press all around.

All of this is going to hurt American freemasonry. Just let the Grand Orient of the USA do its thing. And GL's should worry about serving their ASSOCIATION of brothers so that there is no motiviation for future cutting of ties by some other blue lodge.

But you know the old joke: "it's the middle east... it's my nature".
Masons devouring masons. Nothing but heartburn.



Frederic L. Milliken said...

As long as Grand Masters seek to control and or shut down private Masonic websites and Forums you will see this type of rebellion. A Grand Lodge and a Grand Master should not attempt to control thought but action. A Grand Master should not be immune to criticism in public print and be so thin skinned so as to take over or close down Masonic forums or blogs which do just that.

As long as Grand Masters, as in West Virginia, expel Masons without a Masonic trial, probably violating their own constitutions and by-laws, you will see this kind of rebellion. Grand Masters are not above the law.

As long as Grand Masters use their considerable Masonic influence to ramrod through their Grand Lodge system programs such as mandatory Institutionalized Charity, One Day Classes and Masonic publicity such as billboard advertising and movie theatre promos while all the time spending no time or money on making a better Masonic experience through Masonic education, research & study you will have this kind of rebellion.

The purpose of Grand Lodge is not to curb dissent or to run the Grand Lodge system like it is the US Army.

Those Brothers who break away into clandestine involvement are wrong and I do not support their move. But I can understand their frustration and their hurt when expelled from a Fraternity they were only trying to improve.

Not all who seek reform are pure in motive, some being separatists and revolutionaries. We need to all grow up and learn that dissent is not an ugly word, reform in many cases is justified, and bringing it all out into the open for discussion is healthy. But just as in the French Revolution, we must be careful in our zeal for reform not to follow the cult worship of the individual and try to destroy a system which is honorable and noble but may not be responding in the best manner to the current Masonic crisis many of us see ourselves in.

Theron Dunn said...

Br. George;

you are comparing apples and oranges here. The Brethren of the Grand Lodge of Ohio instituted a rule, oh, a hundred and fifty or more years ago, regarding lodges that close. If you look at the history, apparently a group of men in a lodge tried to plain steal the assets of the lodge under color of closing.

After that, this rule was established. Now, the fact is, the rule IS established. No one that is a member of Halcyon currently can claim they did not know the rule existed. The current members do not own the building, the LODGE does, and they were supposed to be acting in the interests of the lodge, not the furtherance of their own interests.

So, talking about what happened 300 years ago in Scotland is really not relevant to what is happening today in Ohio.

Regardless, I will sit and wait a time with patience and trust the Grand Master to take the appropriate actions regarding this lodge. So far, he has refused to accept the illegal "surrender" of the charter, and has suspended/expelled the men who "surrendered" their dues cards and demitted.

No one has said or written that dissent is bad. In fact, I have stated a number of times that if a man cannot abide by the rules and regulations of the grand lodge, and cannot get a majority of his brothers to agree with him to make that change, then he should vote with his feet and leave. That is a personal choice, and if the men at Halcyon had done that, voted with their feet and just left, I would be lauding them here today.

The issue is NOT dissent, and it is NOT leaving and going to other obediences, the issue regarding Halcyon is that it APPEARS they tried to take the lodge and its assets with them when they left.

Anonymous said...

There exsists in law in every state in the union "equitable release." Let me illustrate with an anology.

If you are standing in front of your house and I come over with buckets of paint and begin to paint your house and you DO NOT STOP ME I can demand payment for painting your house. I would also be legally entitled to that payment. It does not matter if you wanted the paintjob or you didn't, you made no effort to keep me from painting.

The Brothers of Halcyon lodge spent with thier own money and they used thier own labor to the tune of over $400K in restoration of the building. The GL of OH cannot simply take the building back because of the rules of thier club. Now, they may get the building back, but they are going to have to pay for the restoration. It is law folks, Equitable Release.

Theron Dunn said...

Brother Anyonymous;

First of all, Equitable Release does not apply when you have a fiduciary responsibility to maintain a building, nor when you voluntarily donate money/time to a project. In your example, if I stand by while you paint my house, without asking me permission first, knowing you are doing it, you MAY have claim... but if you are a member of a non profit, and you offer time and money and labor to improve a structure, clearly without the expectation of remuneration, you can not then go back and claim you are owed recompense for that money, time and labor.

And in neither case can you simply move the total asset to another entity, as was done in the case at hand. If you or the brothers feel they have a claim of Equitable Release, then the RIGHT thing to do, the HONORABLE thing to do is to present a case in court for remuneration.

I do not think a court in the land will entertain such a cause of action, however, as the labor, time and money were clearly a donation. How can you possibly make a claim that you deserve remuneration for a donation?

Regardless, I am willing to wait a time with patience for the Grand Lodge of Ohio to seek legal action against the "charity" that was created to move the property back to the entity that rightfully owns it... the TEMPLE BOARD of the lodge, NOT the "charity".

It seems to me that the claim of equitable release is what is called a rationalization... I do not seriously think you mean that a couple of thousand dollars of labor and materials and time entitles ANYONE to a building worth close to a million dollars...

Anonymous said...

Equitable Release is a term of stated law. On the books of all 50 states including Ohio. The courts will not care what you consider "right" or "honorable." The fact is that the men behind the resoration WILL NOT lose there labor and costs, no matter what the rules of your little club says they are. I could start a club and issue rules that women are property and it is ok to beat them, the laws of the land would never abide it. Like I stated before. The Grand Lodge Of Ohio may be entitled to the building and that may the the ruling of the court but those who did the restoration will not be without thier due paymeant. It is absurd to think that they will.

This whole matter I would guess will be sttled out of court.

Theron Dunn said...

Well, anonymous, that is an interesting attempt at justification, however, my "little club" is a charitable organization, and the work done on the building was done as volunteer work, with no expectation of remuneration.

A claim can be made for Equitable release only if the work was not done as a charitable effort. I will, as I have noted a number of times, wait a time with patience as the Grand Lodge of Ohio takes appropriate legal action to recover the property that was, seemingly, fraudulently moved into a "charity".

I do not imagine a jury will fall for the "appearance" argument. Since the building was owned by a chartered 401c(10) (masonic Lodge... take a look at the code, by the way, 401c(10) uses MASONIC LODGE as a specific exemplar of that sub section of the code), and the assets were moved to an outside charity, in contravention to the very rules by which the group was chartered to operate (its a contract... it can't just br changed because a few people don't like the rule), both in bylaws and constitution of the group, and the law of Ohio because a few men feel that now, at this late date, that they can claim a buiding worth over a million dollars as recompense for labor given freely to a charitable group.

That written, it is not the intention of this author to argue the case. Not being a member of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, I can only judge by the actions, and wait patiently as the Grand Lodge moves to seek legal action to reverse what seems patently, to be an attempt at fraudulent conversion by a trustee.

It is a matter for the Grand Lodge of Ohio to resolve, and it is my understanding that they will shortly, if they have not already, be filing legal actions to have the courts force a reversal of the action transferring the property to an outside charity.

Just a question: How do you think Equitable Release for an individual applies to the transfer of a piece of real property to a charity? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

If you knew half of what you claim you would understand that Equitable Release allows applies to organizations. The bottum line is that no ourt of law will let the group at Halcyon go without a rembursement of that $400,000.00. It just is notg going to happen. Like I said the GL of Ohio may get the building, but no court will allow that type of expendature even in the case of a non profit go unpaid

I also know of a top law firm in Cleveland who will take on the case for Halycon Charities Pro Bono.

Sorry to burst your bubble.

Theron Dunn said...

Well, Brother anonymous, that is your opinion, and you are welcome to it. For myself, my only interest in this is that that appearance of impropriety coupled with the totally antimasonic way in which they tried to take the lodge down while quitting masonry is disgusting in my eyes.

As I have noted many many many times now, I am content to wait a time with patience as the Grand Lodge of Ohio takes legal action to recover the assets. You can hope and wish all you want on equitable release, and welcome to it.

I will wait and see, since NOTHING I can do, or not do, will affect the outcome... and nothing that happens in the courts will change my opinion on those men's untenable actions.

Just a thought though... if you are correct and Equitable Release DOES apply, can you explain how moving the building and assets into a charity eight months ago now, a charity they don't control in any way satisfies your claim of equitable release?

just curious.

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