Thursday, June 14, 2018

Grand Lodge of Illinois to Require Registration of Masonic Bling

Peoria, IL -- The Grand Lodge of Illinois has hit on a novel, but controversial idea to raise revenue. All Masonic "bling," that is, jewelry, rings, pins, etc., will need to be registered with the Grand Lodge, and members will be required to pay a tax on them.

"The idea came up when we were talking about how out of control all the jewelry had gotten," said RWB Jonathon
B. Goode, who is on the newly formed committee that will be overseeing the licensing and taxing. "You should see these guys; they show up to lodge wearing four or five rings, sometimes even earrings. And the pins. Good Lord, some of the guys, you can't even see their lapels because they're covered in pins. Grand Master pins, Royal Arch pins, Consistory pins, Shrine pins, you name it. We decided that the only fair way to do this would be to license them on an annual basis. Five dollars per item should cover it, and we'll keep a register in case somebody sells a piece to another Mason in a different lodge."

The Past Bastard questioned RWB Goode on the idea of licensing and registering Masonic jewelry.

"Admittedly, it's a hard idea to wrap your mind around at first," he told us. "But we look at it this way: in order to be a member of the Grand Lodge of Illinois, then you have to abide by the rules and regulation, and that includes appropriately displaying the logo... err, I mean, the emblems. We, the Grand Lodge, own the rights to the membership, and we can pass regulations on how members can display our signs and symbols."

"I will say this, though, that the idea of compiling all of this bling and other jewelery and stuff in a register might be a little off-putting to some of our guys," Goode admitted to us. "But ultimately we think that it will help to keep the brethren honest, which is the important thing."

The Past Bastard wondered if the annual licensing fee might not be a little steep.

"Nonsense," said Goode. "We figure if these guys can come up with the money to buy all this stuff, then they can afford another five bucks to be allowed to wear them."
RWB Goode told The Past Bastard that the money would go directly to the Grand Lodge General fund, and there are no plans at the moment for its use.

"Right now, we're just trying to get all the guy registered so we can start issuing the licenses. We aren't going to plan on spending anything until we know what we're working with," he said.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Comcast network outages force Freemasons to pay attention in lodge

Worshipful Brother Jason Forbin probably captured it best when he said, "I've never experienced anything like this in my life. Completely changed my perspective, it did."

The Past Master of Quintaspunkin Lodge No. 468 was speaking about the widespread outages that have left many people in various parts of the US without phone, and in some cases, internet service this week.

"That is, most of the time I go to lodge, I say hi to everyone, then sit on the sidelines and check my emails, check what's happening on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Grindr. By the time I've updated my Google calendar, old Charlie, the secretary, has finished reading all the minutes, and we're well into the discussions," he said. "I mean, sure, if there's anything really important, I poke my head up and join in, but usually I don't need to say anything."

Other Freemasons have had similar reactions.

"At first I was thinking about just playing one of the games that doesn't need an internet connection," said Jacob Aaron, a new Master Mason from Greyskull Lodge No. 154. "But then I started paying attention to some of the old guys that were talking, and I even got to join in and be part of the conversation. It was pretty cool, and I'm going to try that more often," he said.

Not all Freemasons were so enlightened by the situation, however.

"It's funny, but we did a degree the other night, and I had to pay attention to the entire thing because there wasn't anything else to do," said Rick James, Past Master of Corinthian Leather Lodge No. 421 "I heard every little mistake, every skipped word, and every 'err' and 'uhh' those guys were making," he told us. "I'm thinking that I need to become a more active member by correcting their mistakes."

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Lodge efforts to have members meet on the level draws cheers and sneers

Beaver, OK -- Anxious to consolidate several cliques in his lodge, new Worshipful Master Casey Jones instituted a dress code into Curly McLain Lodge No. 642, something that had never been done before, and it's been met with both praise and criticism.

WM Jones decided that for his year, he asked that nobody show up in jackets and ties, nor even "business casual" khakis and polo shirts. Instead, he instructed all of the officers to head down to Tractor Supply in nearby Guynon, and pick up a pair of overalls and a white cotton shirt.

"A century or more ago, Freemasons wore white gloves to indicate that they were all on the level," explained WM Jones. "We're doing the same thing in our lodge -- by making everyone wear overalls, we won't see any distinction between the blue collar and the white collar guys in our lodge. Rich, poor, or in between won't matter. By making the outer apparel all the same, we'll have to focus on what's inside."][

Not everyone is crazy about the idea, though. The Past Bastard contacted several lodge members to ask for their views.

"If you ask me, the guy is a nutty as a fruitcake," said WB Ned Geinz, currently serving as Junior Warden. "Look, don't get me wrong, we love that he's a new guy who's excited, and wants to bring in some new ideas. But not all of the guys here can afford to buy these fancy dress overalls, and especially to not wear them for anything else but lodge."

RWB John Wayne Gacey, currently serving as Junior Deacon, had a different perspective.

"This all started when some of the guys were reading that Dummies blog, and they seen some guys dressed in ripped shirts and jeans. A few of us thought that maybe it couldn't hurt to class the place up once in a while, and act like proper gentlemen. Personally, I'm glad young Casey made that rule."
Several of the district officers have expressed concerns that the trend might extend to other lodges, and that the district officers, themselves, might be compelled to follow suit. However, the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma shows no signs of adopting the dress code.

"We're a very liberal grand lodge," said RWB Howard Johnson, Grand Lodge spokesperson. "At this time, we're fine if the members of McLain Lodge want to dress things up a bit."

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Controversy erupts over Demolay decision to accept girls into their ranks

Eureka, MO -- The Masonic youth community has been in a state of concern after the announcement earlier this week that the Order of Demolay International would begin accepting girls into their ranks. The Past Bastard reached out to members of the Masonic youth organizations for their feedback.

"It's obviously politically correct virtue signaling," said Master Councilor Larry Needles, Northeast Regional Director. "The head honchos at Demolay International have seen falling membership, and now they want to shore up those sagging dues by taking the girls in. It's going to end up just like the Elks, mark my words."

Other members of the youth community aren't so sure.

"I know what this is about," explained Suzie Hormel, Midwest Chapter head for International Order of Rainbow for Girls. "Everybody knows that the Jobies -- that is, Job's Daughters -- is on the verge of collapse. The decision by Demolay is an obvious ploy to pick up the membership from the Jobies that will be left with no place to go. Unfortunately, our own leadership did not have the foresight to start introducing Rainbow chapters in those states."

Not surprisingly, this was denied by Job's Daughters officials.

"We Jobies are doing just fine, and anything you're hearing about us is a bunch of lies from disgruntled former Bethels," claimed Supreme Guardian Rebekah Sleet. "Not only is the whole state of Nebraska in support of our girls, but we've never had any instances of disagreements in our organization. I have no idea where the Rainbow ladies get off on suggesting that we're on the verge of anything."

The Past Bastard contacted Demolay International for a statement.

"It's not what you think," said one official on the assurance of anonymity. "Yes, Demolay, like other groups, has seen a drop off in membership. However, we believe that the time is right in our society to accept young women into our chapters, because they certainly will be able to learn responsibility and leadership as well as the boys. Perhaps better."

The Past Bastard will follow this story as more develops.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Grand Lodge of Florida removes symbols of mortality to appease aging boomers

The Villages, FL -- Faced with membership rolls full of post-war "boomers," most of whom are not happy to be finding themselves nearing the end of their natural life spans, the Grand Lodge of Florida is rolling out a re-tooled ritual that avoids references to death and dying, in an effort to make their aging members less uncomfortable during degree work.

"We came up with the idea a couple of years ago when we noticed that a lot of the sixty five to seventy year olds stopped coming to lodge," said RW Dick Johnson, Chairman for the Grand Lodge Committee on Aging and Retention. "Oh, sure, guys stop coming to lodge all the time, but generally, in the past, the older Masons tended to show up more often.  We started talking to them, and discovered that the degree work, especially the Master Mason degrees, were starting to scare the old timers from showing up."
Many aging baby boomers are uncomfortable with
symbols of mortality, so one Grand Lodge is removing
those images from the work.

RW Johnson explained to The Past Bastard that his interviews led him to believe that the boomer generation never felt like they had any obstacles, and had generally been happy to do what they wanted without repercussions, generating debt that they figured would just get paid off later, and enjoy their retirement years in the warm Florida sun. However, as their health began to fail, and as some watched their friends die off, they had little idea of how to handle the changes.

"As Boomers have been hitting retirement, images of death have become triggering for them," he told us. "It's gotten so bad for many of these guys that we've spent some time re-writing the rituals to remove such imagery, so they don't have to think about it."

The Past Bastard interviewed several anonymous Master Masons around Florida for some perspective.

"I never really thought about it before, you know?" said a 68 year old past master, originally from Tacoma, Washington. "I mean, yeah, you got all these death symbols, but I never took them seriously. I mean, 'Father Time' with a scythe? An hourglass? That's, like, so cliche, you know?"

"Our lodge never did those etching board things," said a 73 year old brother from Hackensack, New Jersey. "So I never got the old guy imagery thing. But looking back on it, that thing where the guy gets killed, and he doesn't come back to life? That's just like what happens in real life. That's scary when you think about it." He added, "Which I try not to."

"The part that really gets to me, is that you can't leverage your way out of it," said a 67 year old Past District Deputy Grand master from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. "I've always been able to get enough funds together to shore up some stock, or to tide me over until the next mutual fund flip. But no matter how much you pay the damn doctors, all the seem to do is give you some pills to make you feel better. They aren't actually slowing down the aging process, are they?"

RW Dick Johnson told The Past Bastard that these responses were pretty typical. "It's sad, when you step back and look at it. Those guys had no obstacles in their way, and now they don't know how to deal with this gracefully. That's why we're going to replace the hourglass with a digital watch, and the scythe with a Ginsu knife, and we're going to reword things to make the idea of mortality less threatening."

The Past Bastard asked about the Master Mason degree.

"Oh, yeah, that one was surprisingly easy to work out," he said. "In our version, Hiram is knocked unconscious, and has visions about the ruffians while he's out. In the raising ceremony we just wrote it so that he wakes up and realizes that it was all a dream, and that he's still a king. It's much less frightening or depressing that way."

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Grand Lodge of Texas clarifies ban on guns in lodge

San Antonio, TX -- After several suspensions by Grand Lodge officers of members who carried handguns to lodges, rumors have run rampant that perhaps a state-wide ban on handguns or other firearms was in the works; an unusual circumstance in Texas where it is estimated that two-thirds of the members are armed. Such rumors were dispelled earlier this week when a spokesperson for the Grand Lodge explained the situation.

"Naw, we didn't suspend anyone for having a handgun," explained RW Blake Carrington, Grand Lodge Director of Communication. "The problem was that those guys were waving around some foreign junk. We don't stand for that kind of thing here in Texas, y'all know that."

The Past Bastard reached out to RW Carrington to explain what was happening.

"Well, it's like this. We ain't going to ban handguns in the lodge room, because that would be stupid. But we are going to require that members carry only American made firearms. That means all those guys carrying their fancy European made toys will have to leave them at home. Hell, my grandaddy fought in World War Two, and he'd spin in his grave if he saw how many guys were carrying Glocks and Berettas. Hell, we didn't fight them German and Eye-talian bastards only to have them hanging at our hips, did we?"

RW Carrington also had some guidelines as to what would be acceptable.

"First, only American made guns will be allowed. That means Smith and Wesson, and Samuel Colt. We aren't sure about Ruger just yet because they have a German sounding name. And we're  not sure about Kel-Tec, either, since didn't that guy come here from Sweden? Kimber is okay, even though it sounds like a girl's name. Oh, and Hi-Point is okay, if y'all don't mind everyone else laughing at you."

The Past Bastard learned that there were some other considerations.

"Yeah, that reminds me. Europeans are kind of sissy, if you know what I mean, so we don't want to see any of that 9 millimeter stuff. Real guns have calibers with lot of numbers. So, anyone carrying should have .357, .40, or a .45, and maybe a .38 for your Eastern Star ladies. You know, real American calibers," he told us.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Grand Lodge of Kentucky to initiate modern public relations campaign

Louisville, KY -- Grand Lodge officers and other Masonic leaders in Kentucky, are in the process of putting together a "modern public relations campaign" to attract new members.

Many of the new public relations spots were filmed at the
Grand Lodge building.
"We were kind of impressed with the work that the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts did," said Right Worshipful Earl Flynn, who heads up the Grand Lodge Public Relations Committee. "The problem we saw, though, is that they tried to capitalize  on the historic angle, and used all those famous founding fathers and such. We don't think that kind of thing appeals to the younger folks that we're trying to attract, so our campaign is going to feature a more modern, contemporary angle."

The Past Bastard asked to see some previews, but the PR Committee was not willing to release anything before final editing was finished.

"I can tell you, though, that the younger guys will be pretty impressed by the radio ads, billboards, and a few TV spots, said RW Flynn. "We're going to get across the idea that Freemasons are pretty hip by showing them to be television and movie actors, and even rock stars."

The Past Bastard asked which actors and musicians they were able to get.

"Well, we weren't able to actually sign the actors themselves," explained RW Flynn. "However, we got some brothers who are great likenesses of John Wayne, Kirk Douglass, Bill Bixby, and David Hasselhoff. And we've also got a few guys impersonating Buddy Holly, Glen Campbell, and Davey Jones. You'd swear you were watching the originals."

RW Flynn explained that the idea was to feature these modern entertainers in spots similar to the way the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts featured George Washington and Ben Franklin. "Our thinking is that these guys will be more recognizable to the new, younger generation that we hope to attract in order to sustain our membership. By featuring well-known, modern figures, we expect that these kids will see Freemasonry as being more relevant." He added, "You know, like, real hep cats."