Thursday, May 23, 2019

UGLE and GOdF confirm rumors of recognition

Milton Keynes, UK - Some of our readers that are active on social media have undoubtedly run across the barely disguised rumors of recognition between the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) and the Grand Orient of France (GOdF). This week, The Past Bastard overcame the eight hour time difference, and tracked down the Very Worshipful Nigel Thornbury, Assistant to the Provincial Undersecretary in charge of recognition and amity. VW Thornbury confirmed that, while there is some discussion, at this point the two different orders of Freemasons are still  working out the details.

"I say, it's pretty exciting that we're working on this in my lifetime," said Thornbury. "The UGLE dropped their recognition of the Grand Orient before my grandfather was born, back in Edward's time, if I recall correctly. They've had their differences, but I'm glad that the two oldest and most recognized orders of Freemasons are at least coming to some terms of understanding, if you take my meaning."


The Past Bastard asked Very Worshipful Thornbury for a little background.

"Well, as with a lot of Masonic history, the details are a bit sketchy, but from what I gather, the Grand Orient did something that the Grand Lodge considered to be not cricket, if you take my meaning. That began a series of claims and counterclaims of legitimacy, until the Grand Lodge decided that the Grand Orient was personna non grata, or I guess, loge grande non grata. Nobody ever thought to reconcile because, quite frankly, the lodge cultures are too different."

The Past Bastard asked Very Worshipful Thornbury if he could give us any details of the recognition.

"Well, this is all preliminary stuff, and may, of course, be subject to change, but here's what we've worked out so far. First of all, obviously this is just recognition talk, and there's not even a hint at a merger or anything like that. We're simply too different, and the Grand Orient now has a long history behind it that they won't want to give up. And naturally, there's to be no dual or plural membership. You join one body only. Everybody has agreed on that part."

Thornbury continued. "Second, there's to be no visitation between the lodges. As in, none at all. The only communication would be at the grand level, by email or messenger. None of the lodge members are allowed to talk to each other."

"In reference to the talking part," Thornbury continued, "no only are they not allowed to talk to each other, but they aren't even allowed to acknowledge each other. In fact, someone has asked for a caveat that if a Grand Lodge member is walking down the pavement, and spies a Grand Orient member, that he should cross the street so as not to chance any communication."

"Obviously, such arrangements preclude joint affairs, such as dinners, charities, beanos, and anything like that," he explained.

The Past Bastard observed that, except for a written agreement, it sounds like there wouldn't be any change at all in the status, and any recognition would be essentially invisible for ordinary Masons.

"Oh, quite right," said Thornbury. "Admittedly, it did seem a bit odd at first, but baby steps, and all that, you know. However, the Yanks that came up here from a couple of your southern states to help us draw up the details said that this is how it's frequently done across the pond, so I'm sure that they all know what they're doing."

The Past Bastard will continue to update this story as details become more available.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Freemasons open forgotten time capsule


Dateline: Philadelphia, PA. Year: 2206 - Work crews repairing earthquake damage on the Old Pennsylvania Grand Lodge building uncovered a metal box, which they turned over the the Grand Lodge. The East Pennsylvania Grand Lodge Historian realized that they were looking at a time capsule that had been buried in 2005, and presumed lost.

Officers held a semi-public ceremony to open the box and display the contents, which presented an interesting view on the daily lives of early 21st century Freemasons.

"I have to admit, there are quite a few items here that we aren't quite sure what they were used for," said Roberto Crabs, Very Worshipful Grand Historian for the Grand Lodge of East Pennsylvania. "For example, many of these items appear to be some kind of device that we assume would help them with their ritual. We found several things called 'Palm Pilots,' which look to be a primitive ebook reader used for storing ritual. Sadly, none of them are working - they appear to run on some kind of electrical storage cell."

VW Crabs pulled out another item. "Here's another thing that Freemasons must have used a lot of. We figure it had something to do with the Stewards and food preparation because they had the name 'Blackberry' on top. Possibly devices for letting the Stewards know when the dinner was ready."

Digging through the various pins, medals, and aprons, VW Crabs told us that the pins were fairly similar to those of modern times, with the exception that they were rather static. "These old lapel pins didn't change color, play music, or do anything," he told us. "They just kind of sat on your clothes."

He showed us a thin, flat box with the words "Dell Inspiron" on the top. It opened along one hinge and had a number of alphabetical keys that reminded us of those antique cell phones in the movies. "We think that the Secretaries read the minutes from these devices," Crabs told us. "Minutes back in those days were very lengthy, so they probably needed such large and heavy storage devices for them." Then he chuckled. "Apparently not much has changed in the last few centuries."


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Department of Fraternal Societies releases new study

Springfield, IL -- The Federal Department of Fraternal Societies recently released a report that, in accordance with most government funded studies, will surprise nobody. The Past Bastard obtained a copy of the research, and contacted head researcher, RWB Mike Pole.

"The essentials of the study are this: Masons in the craft for about five years spend most of their time complaining about other Masons, usually those in their own lodge. However, that seems to switch, so that by the time they hit the ten year mark, those Masons now complain most frequently about their Grand Lodge."

The Past Bastard questioned Bro. Pole on this.

"We think it's because when Masons are new to the craft, they aren't exposed enough to the quirks and contradictions of their Grand Lodge, nor do they have much exposure to how they may compare to the Grand Lodges in other states; they spend most of their time complaining about things nearest to them. However, by the time they have been in the Craft for a bit, perhaps even served in a few chairs, they've learned that issues with brothers are just minor annoyances, and that the real problem with getting anything done lies on the weird, nonsensical, and seemingly arbitrary rules that their Grand Lodge makes up, often just as politics or ego building."

Federal Department of Fraternal Societies Building
Bro. Pole then went on to point out other parts of the research.

"The trends, however, seem to flip for those Masons who, themselves, become Grand Lodge officers. New Grand Lodge officers will sometimes themselves complain about the seemingly arbitrary rules of their own Grand Lodge. However, after serving for several years, usually in more advanced capacities, those Grand Lodge officers tend to shift to complaining about other Masons -- usually about how those Masons at the blue lodge level just aren't doing the things that they should be, which screw up their vision for what Freemasonry should be."

The Past Bastard asked Bro. Pole if there were any way to get the groups to see eye to eye.

"Sadly, it doesn't look like there's any way for them to meet on any kind of level ground," he told us. "For our next phase in the research, we're planning to have some focus groups, team building, and some meet-and-greet events. We'll let you know how we make out."

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Young Mason collects pictures of Square & Compasses, instead of lapel pins

Barlow, KY --Some Masons collect bumper stickers, car decals, lapel pins, or other such paraphernalia. However, one Mason in this small Kentucky town is collecting something else.

"Oh, I'd say that I should hit the ten thousand mark pretty soon," said Mark Masters, of Paducah-Kroger Lodge. "I've got an online photo album where I've got them cataloged by area, type, and a few other factors."

Brother Mark collects pictures; more specifically, pictures of Masonic emblems that he has run across in his travels as a delivery driver.

"They're all labeled and numbered so I don't accidentally list the same one twice.," he told us. "That happened a few times when I first started this, and it made me so mad."

Brother Mark got the idea when he noticed how may times he would drive by a car with a square & compasses decal, or a similar design on a building, or on a statue.
It's easy to spot Masonic decals like this on
the backs of many cars.

"I started to just take pictures of them, you know? Like, I'd be driving down the street, and I'd spot a square & compass design on a building, so I'd pull over and take a picture. Or I'd be sitting at a light, and see a car with a "To be one ask one" bumper sticker, so I'd take a picture. One time I was at a funeral, and I saw a while bunch of gravestones with them. I got a lot that day," he told us.


So, why does he take pictures instead of buying a lapel pin?

"Oh, it's way cooler to see these things out in the wild," he told us. "Like, it's the surprise factor or something. You're driving along, just listening to some tunes, and out of the corner of your eye you spot one. It's like bird watching or something, only better."

"But I have to admit, though, that it does get more difficult to find new ones. It's like I'm exhausting the supply, or something. I'm hoping that I don't have to move to another part of the state," he said.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Flip This Temple: Chris Hodapp to host new show on A&E

Fudge Ripple, IN - - Chris Hodapp, the ninth most popular Masonic author, known primarily for his fifteen year old book "Freemasons for Dummies," is also one of the most prolific Masonic bloggers still active. Brother Hodapp's books, blog articles, and speaking engagements have reached dozens of Freemasons around the globe. 

As fellow Masons, we are happy for Brother Hodapp's continued success, which is why we reached out to him when we heard about his latest endeavor: Flip This Temple - A television series in which he will feature various lodge buildings around the US, as the lodge members decide to renovate the old buildings, and either keep them or sell them off.

TPB: Chris, first we want to thank you for all the work that you do as the unofficial Masonic News Network. We understand that "Flip This Temple" grew out of some of your reporting.

Chris: Yes, I believe that you mentioned that every other blog article seemed to be about some great, historic lodge building that was either being sold off, or was in a terrible state of disrepair. I got the idea while watching TV one night with my wife, and saw that those old "Flip This House" shows have morphed into things like "Flip This Condo", or Trailer or RV, or other things. I made a joke about how it would be nice if we could see such energy with some of the Masons I know remodeling their own lodges. From there, it just sort of... took off.

TPB: House flipping shows are really popular for couples to watch, because it gives them ideas for things to do in their own houses. What's the audience draw for remodeling a Masonic lodge?

Chris: We think that it's going to appeal to the younger Masons, the 30 to 50 year old crowd who are tired of the old, fake walnut 1970s paneling and the linoleum tiled floors, but who get a lot of pushback from the older past masters who can't imagine spending forty or fifty bucks on some new paint.

 TPB: So, we understand that the first show will be an old lodge building in Rhode Island or someplace in New England? 

Chris: That's right. I can't give you any more details, but it's an old building with parts dating back to the late 1700s, that was donated to the lodge in the mid 1800s, and probably hasn't been changed since, except maybe to add electricity and indoor plumbing. 

TPB: You could be describing half the lodges in New England, right there. 

Chris: True enough. Anyway, the producers managed to get some free supplies from various advertisers, and the younger lodge members had a couple of months to work on it. Walls were painted, windows were replaced, old carpeting torn out, and fake masonite paneling was burned. After it was finished, the guys then had to decide if the building was still worth keeping, or if they should sell it, take the money, and rent from a lodge with more modern facilities on the other side of town. 

TPB: Well, so what did they do?

Chris: Sorry, can't tell you that. You'll have to wait until it hits the cable channels next season. 

TPB: Fair enough. Can you tell us about any other upcoming shows?

Chris: For the first season, we're just hitting a few smaller lodge buildings in the northeast US, a couple in the mid-west, and we'll end up the season with something out in the northwest US. 

TPB: Any of those big, multi-lodge buildings in the cities?

Chris: While I'd love to tackle some of those old, art deco buildings that take up half a block, the producers have decided to wait a season or two to gauge the interest. Part of it, too, is getting more advertisers and sponsors behind it. Freemasons, as you know, are not noted for spending money on their buildings. Or much else, except their personal jewelry, I might add. 

TPB: Well, it certainly sounds like a hit, and we wish you the best of luck. 

Chris: Thanks, guys, I really appreciate that. 

"Flip This Temple" is in post-production, and we expect to see it on A&E in the next season. 








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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Massachusetts to get hundreds of new members in one shot. Unfortunately, none of them will pay dues.

Boston, MA -- Citing the opportunity to improve tourism, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts has announced that they intend to make every man who fought in the Revolutionary War a Mason-At-Sight.

"Oh, yes, it was a very controversial decision, yes indeed," said Worshipful Brother Ronald Maroon, spokesperson for Grand Lodge Posthumous Affairs. "We argued about this at the Grand Lodge officers level for weeks and weeks. Ultimately, of course, the money won. It always does."

By "money," RW Maroon was referring to the idea that publicly identifying hundreds of early American patriots would increase public curiosity, visits, and perhaps even some new petitions.

"Oh, yes, it's pretty obvious that we Yanks love our early Patriots. We already get mobs of tourists here, especially when school lets out, who love to prowl around those old graveyards, or buy those souvenir tri-corn hats, or wave their Air-soft muskets around," he explained in an interview with The Past Bastard. "Our intention is to increase the public awareness of how closely those patriots are tied to Freemasonry."

Making someone a "Mason-At-Sight" is still a controversial practice even on living people. Several Grand Masters have made famous (dead) figures Masons-At-Sight, claiming that they probably would have become Masons had they lived long enough. But the Massachusetts decision has rocked the Masonic world.

"Simply put," RW Maroon told us, "We figured that all of the patriots fighting for freedom were on our side. Since some of them were already Freemasons, it's obvious that those men had the same ideals and principles. Yes, they died in the war, but if they hadn't, the probably would have moved back to the Bay State, started a little farm, become good citizens, and joined one of the local lodges. It's a totally reasonable assumption."

"By making a public declaration, we hope to increase the curiosity among the public, so when they visit Massachusetts, they will come to associate 'patriot' with 'Freemason.' Oh, and that they'll buy some merchandise with our branded 'Square and Compasses', of course. There's no downside!"

"Well, except," he admitted, "that none of those new members will be paying dues."

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Rhetorical Voices: Trendy or traditional foods in lodge?

The Past Bastard interviews random members from random lodges on random topics of Masonic importance.

Question: What do you think about the former Grand Master of West Virginia resigning over his mother lodge serving trendy foods instead of baked chicken and green beans?



Bob Hoskins, Treasurer, Steinbeck Lodge No. 118
"Well, personally, I'm a health nut, and I only eat paleo, so I wouldn't be eating those potatoes, donuts, noodles, pizza, or anything else that actually tastes good. And if you can't go to lodge and enjoy a dinner, then what's the point? Might as well sit at home posting memes on Facebook."

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Larry Sotero, Past DDGM, Chantilly Lodge No 9

"Those damn liberals screw up everything, you know that? The poor bastard, excuse my French, just wanted to go to lodge and have a meal with his brothers, and they took away one of the few wholesome things about Freemasonry - the Festive Board - and they expected him to eat California food? It's a wonder the entire lodge hasn't lost its damn charter!"
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Barnard Saundars, Junior Steward, Plank Lodge No. 312: 
"It's really too bad that the poor guy felt the need to resign because he couldn't have his fix of animal flesh. I wish I had the opportunity to have him try some good vegetarian dishes, like zucchini steaks or lima bean burgers, which are so much better not only for your person, but for the entire planet."