MASONIC Digest Wednesday, 15 Jan 1992 Volume 4 : Issue 1
Publicizing the list: I finally did it.
FAQ volunteers needed.
Minnesota Masonic Exhibit (Don Stowell, Jr.)
Volume of Sacred Law (Paul Gillingwater)
Masonry in popular culture (Paul Gillingwater)
An introduction; masons, pagans and VSLs (Shava Nerad Averett)
Annual Grand Communication (PA) (Jim Thomas Park, Jr.)
Bro. Robert Heinlein (Gary L. Dryfoos)
Bro. Robert Heinlein?? (Steven Mesnick)
Send all submissions and requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. MASONIC
digest is moderated. Please remember: THIS IS A PUBLIC FORUM: YOU MUST
ASSUME THAT MANY READERS ARE NON-MASONS. Please include a relevant
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message (and give a nom-de-net). All contributions remain the property
(copyright 1992), and responsibility of the authors. My own comments
remain mine (Copyright 1992 Peter Trei), and represent only my views
at the time of posting - not neccesarily those of my employer, or of
any Grand Lodge. Back issues are available, as are a few standard
From: Peter Trei
Subject: Publicizing the list: I finally did it.
Date: 15 Jan 1992.
Well, I finally sent out the announcement of this list's
existance to usenet. On the afternoon of January 6, a message was
posted to following newsgroups:
alt.conspiracy, alt.magick, alt.pagan, news.announce.newgroups, news.groups,
soc.culture.arabic, soc.culture.british, soc.culture.jewish,
soc.religion-christian, soc.men, soc.misc, talk.rumors, talk.religion-misc,
These groups met the following criteria:
* Discussion (often uninformed) of Masonry frequently appears in them.
* They are places where new groups and mailing lists are often discussed.
* They seemed a likely place to find an interested audience.
To date (15 Jan) I have 125+ responses. I don't expect many more,
since the message has expired on most systems. It touched off an
interesting debate in soc.culture.british, which showed just how badly
some people are misinformed.
I would guess that about 20% of the responses are from Masons, or
people with Masonic connections. Many more are simple "add me"
messages, and there are a lot of straight-forward queries of the
nature "what is Masonry about, anyway". As expected there are some
very off-the-wall inquiries. One of the goals of this list is to
correct such peoples misconceptions.
I'm trying to reply to each specific query (to forstall a flood
of near-identical questions to the list). One thing this has brought
home to me is the crying need for a good FAQ file on Masonry (see the
I'd like to extend a warm welcome to all our new readers.
From: Peter Trei (email@example.com)
Subject: FAQ volunteers needed.
Date: 15 Jan 1992.
We badly need a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) file for
Freemasonry. I'm looking for volunteers (preferably Masons, OES,
Rainbow, etc) to work on it together. If anyone is interested, tell
me, and I'll do mail redistribution. I already have online the
"Should I ask?" published by the Scottish Rite Northern Jurisdiction. 151 lines
"Freemasonry as a way of Life." published by the Massachusetts GL. 159 lines.
"What is Freemasonry" published by the United GL of England. 105 lines.
"Freemasonry and Society" published by the United GL of England. 67 lines.
½BTW, I also have a postscript Square and Compass, and a crude X-windows
bitmap for a S&C cursor.|
Proposed FAQ Outline: (this may be much too verbose)
What is Masonry?
History of Masonry.
Regular vs. Irregular Masonry.
Who can be a Mason.
Why no women?
Why the secrecy?
How one becomes a Mason.
Common attacks on Masonry.
Masons always prefer their own.
Masonry is a religion
Masonry is too ecumenical
Masonry teaches salvation by works
Other church positions
The Temple and the Lodge
Holy Blood, Holy Grail
Jack the Ripper - The Final Solution
Born in Blood
Popular legends and misconceptions
Masonic US Presidents, etc.
Great Seal of the United States (eye & pyramid)
Prince Hall Masonry
From Peter Trei
Subject: Minnesota Masonic Exhibit
This is one of the letters I got. It seemed interesting enough to
quote in full.
Date: Tue, 07 Jan 92 11:29:09 CST
From: "Don Stowell, Jr."
Organization: North Dakota Higher Education Computer Network
Subject: Masonic Digest request
Thank you for your notice to the GRASS list about the Masonic
Digest. I am working with a colleague at the University of Minnesota
on a projected exhibit of masonic scenery, costumes, and regalia. We
have been "scrutinized & approved" by Northern Jurisdiction and
Southern Jurisdiction both as having a legit topic and "good
intentions." Lance Brockman, scene designer at UM, is scholar of
scene painting practices, particularly of 19th century, and has
obtained for the UM collection original designs from several companies
who did the scenery now in use ½still in use| in many lodges. Several
other scholar/ artists are involved, as are the Director of the UM Art
Gallery and a Curator at the MN Historical Society ½Barbara Franco,
who used to be curator at Mus. of Our National Heritage|. My
involvement is as costume historian. I have visited Masonic Regalia,
Inc., ½formerly C.E. Ward Co.| at New London, OH, and studied their
extensive files of renderings, drawings, and other materials.
I will pass information on Masonic Digest on to Lance. Do you
have a "Notes & Queries" section in which we might post a request for
information, for instance ?? We should be able to write considerable
material within the next few years, depending upon your interests and
needs. We have a NEH grant request in the works to call together a
symposium if invited guests next summer to confer on the "meaning" of
our findings and of fraternalism in general in today's world, as well
as historical perspectives. We have been in touch with the currently
publishing scholars and look forward to an interesting time.
In the meantime, would you be so kind as to include Lance and
myself on your mailing list ½and IF YOU HAVE THE TIME, provide any
back issues which might have a bearing on our work|.
Snailmail: Dr. Don Stowell, Jr., Director, Division of Fine Arts, North
Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 59105-5691 ½701-237-2732, FAX 701-241-2085
Prof. C. Lance Brockman, Department of Theatre Arts, 208
Middlebrook Hall, 412 -- 22nd Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55455
½612-625-3077 -- otherwise he's an electronic non-believer!!|
Thank you again for your considerate offer. I would be glad to
communicate with you about any of these matters. I was a DeMolay; my
father is a York Rite Mason, member of Commandry & Shrine. I have not
pursued brotherhood myself, but have deep respect for the values
inculcated. My profession ½before being an administrator| was costume
design for the stage and the history of stage design. Hence, my
interest in this project.
Subject: Re: VSL
Date: Thu, 19 Dec 91 10:22:01 NZT
> Date: Thu, 14 Nov 91 14:15:35 PST
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tim Maroney)
> Subject: Volume of the Sacred Law
> Another Masonic question from a non-Mason:
> What is the current practice regarding the identity of the Volume
> of the Sacred Law? Theoretically it is not limited to the Christian
> Bible, but apparently in practice this is almost always used. I
In our lodge we have three VSL open when lodge is operating. The
Bible (OT & NT) takes the centre, flanked by Sir Edwin Arnold's
``Light of Asia'', and the Bhagavad Gita. (Triple aspect, note!)
Re: Masonry in popular culture (Peter Trei)
> anyone have any additions?
How about the Immortal Bard -- check out Love's Labours Lost.
Note the title itself -- three "L"'s. An L is an angle of 90 degrees,
or the fourth part of a circle. The three words themselves, love,
labour and lost all have Masonic significance. The play itself is
about a secret society. BTW, note that I have not suggested that this
was written by W. Shakespeare. :-)
SW for Wellington Lodge No. 411
Date: Wed, 18 Dec 91 15:25:57 -0500
From: Shava Nerad Averett
Subject: An introduction; masons, pagans and VSLs
First, an introduction: I am Shava Nerad Averett, the wife and
daughter of masons, and someday perhaps the mother of masons. I
thought Rainbow Girls were stupid, and I'm not impressed with the
intellectual environment of some of the local Eastern Star
organizations I've been exposed to. My father is also a Unitarian
Universalist minister, and I am one of the co-founders of the Covenant
of UU Pagans (CUUPs), a UU affiliate organization. I write
extensively on magick and pagansim in other groups on the net.
I believe in men's societies, and have no difficulty with the
gender exclusive nature of the masons, except that I believe that they
have largely lost a mature attitude about what a men's society is for,
and use this as an excuse for reinforcing a bad attitude about women
in too many instances. Therefore, I make myself available to the
masons I meet as an example of a worthy soror, if they allowed sorors,
so that they can not fall into the error of believing that women are
truly up there with drunkards, children, and doddards (or whatever the
text might be).
I think masons do good stuff, on the balance.
Our worthy moderator says:
½This touches on another speculative topic: what is the appropriate VSL|
½for some of the more unusual religions? I've heard of Mormons using |
½the BoM, but what about (Neo)Pagans, etc? I suppose a Thelemite might |
½want to use a Crowleys' Book of the Law. An Erisian might propose |
½using the Principia Discordia, and could then enjoy the confusion his |
½suggestion engendered. :-) What could a Wiccan use? |
As an erisian, I would be happy to use any such book, or none (a
blank page?) but _P_D_ would be fun to propose. It does make me
wonder what is used for religions that have no "testament" or sutra or
whathaveyou. If your tradition is oral (for example, lots of
amerindian cultures) what do you do? Or if your tradition says that
the appropriate VSL may not be displayed outside of certain ritual
contexts (which would not include masonic ritual)?
I am neopagan, not wiccan (a subset of neopagan, probably...;-),
but I am not familiar with a specific VSL that would apply. Possibly
it would vary by tradition. For example, some might want to use some
of Gardner's (crowley's?) works.
Tim Maroney says:
I've recently had contacts with the group out here in the
Bay Area, and it seems both sexually and racially integrated; but of
course it has a very different feel from how I imagine regular Masonry
must be. The same is true for other descendants of heretical
gender-integrated Masonry, such as Neo-Paganism.
I will just state here that Tim's and my opinions as to the
affiliations of neopaganism with OTO/Thelema/Gardner et al differ.
This discussion doesn't belong in this group, however.
Shava Nerad Averett
½ Moderator comment: Shava, I have no doubt that you and many other |
½ women could be excellent Masons. That women are lumped with the other |
½ excluded groups does not automatically put them on the same level. |
½ Women are excluded (IMHO) not because they are in some way "unworthy",|
½ but because most Masons do not think Masonry would work in mixed |
½ groups. |
½ There are certain psychological responses which can be invoked |
½ fairly reproducibly in people. One of these is (to use the currently |
½ popular psychobabble) "male bonding". If a group of men undergo |
½ certain types of shared experience denied to those outside the group, |
½ they can emerge with an esprit de corps and group identification |
½ difficult to comprehend. (This response is also invoked in military |
½ training). It does not seem to work as well in mixed gender groups. |
½ Even outside of the initiatory process, there is a different |
½ social dynamic in a male-only group than in a mixed group. Perhaps |
½ this is a cultural thing, perhaps not. But I can say without question |
½ that the spirit of fraternity and equality I feel when among my fellow|
½ Masons would be damaged if women were admitted. (I hope this is not |
½ coming across as a fancy way of saying "no slimy gurls alowd"!) |
½ Personally, I think the best solution would be to have a parallel|
½ system of women-only lodges, under their own independent Grand Lodges,|
½ which would have fraternal (?sibling?) relations with the co-located |
½ male Grand Lodge (this is a rather heretical viewpoint :-). |
½ As for your problems with OES and Rainbow, I have not much |
½ experience with those organizations. I hope some of the OES and |
½ Rainbow members on the list will respond. |
½ To change topics, I don't know what Amerindian Masons do for a |
½ VSL, but I'll try to find out (I slightly know one Native American |
½ Mason). |
Date: Sat, 11 Jan 1992 20:08:40 -0500 (EST)
From: "Jim Thomas Park , Jr."
Subject: Annual Grand Communication (PA)
Well it is a new year. Sorry I haven't written until now, it
has been a busy holiday season especially in Lodge. On Tuesday December
3rd I was elected and installed Worshipful Master of my Lodge. My
fiancee graduated from college (Pitt), we attended a banquet for the
graduating seniors on Monday the 16th. Two days before we attended her
Christmas Party. Enough of the small talk.
The reason that I am writing you is to let you know that the
new Right Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Pennsylvania has been
installed. He is a member and Past Master of my lodge. So I was busy
on the Dec. 26th and 27th. For those who might be interested and did
not get a chance to come to our Annual Grand Communication I will give
you the schedule of events that took place. I will also make note of
what Jurisdictions and bodies were represented. This was my second
Annual Grand. This time I had a very nice but nerve racking part to
play in the day's events. Being the W.M. of Avalon Lodge No. 657 it
was my duty to welcome the newly installed R.W.G.M into his home
lodge. This is done in PA so that the record books show that the new
G.M.'s first act is that of visiting his lodge. I had been OFFICALLY
in office for only 3hrs and 20 min. when I rapped the gavel and
proceeded to open the lodge. The actual visitation went GREAT. My
officers did a terrific job. The meeting lasted about 45 minutes. We
were running late because Grand Lodge did not close until 2:20 pm. It
supposed to close at 1:30 pm. Anyway, Ed Fowler R.W.G.M. presented our
lodge with a medallion that he had struck. It is the number 2
medallion, he had it stamped on the edge. There were about 200 in
attendance at my meeting.
After my meeting we had pictures taken with the Grand Line
Officers and all of the living Past Grand Masters. We then went back
to the Hilton Hotel and got ready for the evenings festivities. The
banquet was great, dinner was tasty. My finacee and I were seated with
the G.M.'s immideate family. Also seated with us was Sir Knight,
William H. Thornley, Jr. Most Emminent Grand Master of the Grand
Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States and Bro. harold D.
Elliott, II, Most Worshipful Past Grand Master, New Jersey and Most
Preeminently Distinguished Governor General York Rite Sovereign
College of North America. It was an interesting seating arrangement.
Bro Thornley was very interesting and enlighting. If you ever have the
opportunity to meet him please take it. Bro. Elliot was quick with
his wit, he played off of Bro. Thornley throughout the evening. The
entertainment was Louise and Irleen Mandrell, their performance was
excellent. Also in attendance at the dinner was the Mayor of
Pittsburgh Sophie Masloff. We were able to meet the Mayor and had our
pictures taken with her. She was very personable. After the Mandrells
there was an orchestra for dancing. We (my financee and myself)
attended a party hosted by the new G.M. and his wife in the
Presidential Suite. There we talked with the men that run the Grand
Lodge of Pennsylvania. During this party I became aware of what this
great fraternity of ours means to a lot of the people. I felt that I
was among people that REALLY LOVED Freemasonry. It was one of the
nicest evenings I have spent in Freemasonry. I got a chance to meet
people that I have only heard mentioned in lodge or in Masonic
publications. My fiancee was impressed and said that she enjoyed
herself. I was very happy about that because it was her first real
exposure to Fremasonry. All in all it was a GREAT weekend.
Here is a list of the Jurisdictions and bodies that were in
attendance. I am not going to list the names of the representatives,
it would take too long.
New York, Georgia, New Jersey, Maryland, New Hampshire,
Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware, Ohio, Maine,
Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Ontario,
The Holy Royal Arch Pennsylvania
The Grand Council of Royal and Select Master Masons of Pennsylvania
The Grand Commandery Knights Templar of Pennsylavnia
The Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States
Supreme Council of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic
Valley of Harrisburg
Valley of Lancaster
Valley of Pittsburgh
George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association
Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine
International Order of DeMolay
If anybody would like to know who represented what
jurisdiction or body just let me know and I will sent you the name(s).
One more thing. My Father was present at my Election and
Installation. He got a special despensation and received the Word of
the Chair. This was done at a stated meeting of his lodge in October.
He then presented me for installation at my lodge. After I was
installed he presented me with my gavel. I have also had my first
stated meeting. It went very smooth. I honored my Father in the open
Lodge, presented him with a new Masonic ring and had him sit in the
East with me for the night. My program was a sports writer for The
Pittsburgh Press. Well thats it for now, Thanks for letting me
Bro. James T. Park, Jr.
Avalon Lodge No. 657 F. & A.M.
Subject: Masonry in popular culture.
Date: Wed, 18 Dec 91 15:40:03 EST
} MASONIC Digest Wednesday, 18 Dec 1991 Volume 3 : Issue 5
} From: Peter Trei
} Date:Dec 17 1991
} A long time ago, I put out an inquiry on the net, asking about
} mentions of the Freemasons and Masonic-like organizations in popular
} "Revolt in 2100 AD" (or was it "Beyond this Tomorrow"?) -
} Lazarus Long makes Masonic allusions (RAH was a brother).
There are a number of Masonic references in Heinlein. The most notable
is the novelette (novella?) "If This Goes On..." set in a
not-too-far future, when a theocratic dictatorship ruled the
USA. The plot follows a young man who stumbles into a "cabal"
working to overthrow the government. RAH is properly discreet,
but there is no doubt of the true nature of the "cabal". Masons
will enjoy this one.
And of course, the most famous TV lawyer in history was a Mason. :-)
ŬGary L. Dryfoos - Athena Training Admin. Ŭ
Ŭ Internet: email@example.com Ŭ "Ask me about my
Ŭ Usenet: ...mit-eddie!athena.mit.edu!dryfoo Ŭ Vow of Silence!"
Ŭ Phone: w: (617) 253-0184 / fax: 253-8665 Ŭ
Ŭ Office: Room 11-311, MIT, Cambridge, MA 02139 Ŭ -- Dr. Devlin Levity
Ŭ USPS: P.O. Box 505, Cambridge, MA 02142 Ŭ
Date: Thu, 19 Dec 91 11:05:42 EST
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Steven Mesnick)
Subject: Brother (?) Heinlein
A past issue of The Northern Light (newsletter of the Northern
Jurisdiction, Scottish Rite) had an article on Robert Heinlein stating that
although he had a great interest in Masonry, he was *not* ever initiated.
Anyone out there have a copy of this? I've lost mine.
½ PT: Gary, I've looked back over the last time we covered this topic |
½ (v01n005), and I'm afraid I have to agree with Steven - a close |
½ reading of Virginia Heinleins' letter shows that she does not say one |
½ way or the other if RAH was a Mason (sigh). |
End of MASONIC Digest