Monday, December 26, 2016

COGMNA declares Red Skelton Flag Pin to be 4th great light

Burbank, CA -- 

The members of the Conference of Grand Masters of North America voted to adopt a new symbol of Freemasonry for the entire North American continent, based on a recent lapel pin seen on Facebook.

The pin, designed on Etsy earlier this year, shows Brother Red Skelton in his Klem Kadiddlehopper tuxedo on a background of an American flag. The words "One Nation Under God" are displayed in a banner above his head.

"We can't think of a more fitting way to signify what Freemasonry stands for," said WB John Lee Hooker, media spokesperson for the 2016 COGNMA conference. "The pin is meant to evoke Brother Red's speech from his 1960s television show - you know, the one where he goes through the entire 'Pledge of Allegiance' word by word and explains how patriotic and religious it is to the audience. There probably isn't a lodge in existence that doesn't use a video of that for one of its Masonic Education programs."

Indeed, the writers at The Past Bastard are intimately familiar with the video, having seen it multiple times over the years. However it did raise some questions, which we presented to WB Hooker.

"Well, yes, we did  have some pushback on making this symbol for the entire continent," he admitted, "More specifically, a few of the Canadian provinces and Mexico had some objections to making this an official symbol, but they were heavily outvoted by most of the Grand Lodges of the US."

Most of the members?

WB Hooker explained "Well, California also objected, but you know how they are out there. I think that Oregon might have objected, and surprisingly New York, as well. I don't understand it, but the overwhelming number of states and provinces voted for the symbol, so we expect to be rolling it out for 2017."

Wait, provinces?

"Oh yes, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick voted for adopting the pin, and so, I think, did Prince Edward Island, which is essentially part of Maine, anyway."

The 2016 Conference of Grand Masters has been drafting up a number of regulations and position papers, which they expect to be presenting at the upcoming 2017 conference on how the symbol and pins should be displayed, and whether they should augment or simply replace the Square & Compasses.

-- Conte Calvino Gliostro

Monday, December 19, 2016

Grand Master has a MELTDOWN for this INSANE reason.

Waterloo, IA -- The Grand Master of Iowa recently issued a six page memorandum to all Freemasons in the state to clarify the proper way to Masonically address members of the fraternity, and requested that the membership sign and return the form on the last page, certifying that they understand the rules.

"We aren't sure what prompted this," said Bro. Leon Wayne Racy, Very Worshipful Past District Tiler. "I think that somebody said something to the Most Worshipful Grand Master during his installation, and that set him off, but I'm not sure what, since I was across the room at the bar."

Other sources at the event, however, painted a different picture, and reported to The Past Bastard with a request for anonymity.

"I was standing across from the His Excellency, The Most Worshipful Grand Master at the table with the cheese and crackers, when I saw some wet-behind-the-ears kid come up to him and shake his hand. All the kid said was "Congratulations, brother," and the next thing I knew, the Most Worshipful Grand Master was getting all red in the face. I couldn't really understand what he was saying, but it sounded like the poor kid said something wrong, and it set the Most Worshipful Grand Master off."

The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge is gearing up to make sure that the members understand how important it is to properly address their Masonic superiors by making it part of the proficiency examinations.

"While most Freemasons are aware of, and may even enjoy, the proliferation of titles and other formalities," explained Bro. Jose Nieves, Right Worshipful Grand Regional Overseer of the Work. "They can be confusing to the newer members; and especially to the younger guys who have not grown up with such finer points of etiquette. It's up to us, the guys who have been in for years, to show them the right way to do things."

EDIT: Our highly underpaid (okay, unpaid) interns were too distracted with the holiday eggnog from the office party, and submitted a picture from a lodge that had absolutely nothing to do with the Most Excellently Worshipful Grand Lode of Iowa. We have replaced that picture with a more appropriate illustration. Our interns sincerely regret the error.

-- Bro. Conte Calvino Gliostro

-- Bro. Mason Buhrmaster

Monday, December 12, 2016

MSANA to roll out Masonic insurance organization for Brethren fearing discrimination

Burtonsville, MD - The Masonic Service Association of North America (MSANA) is standing up a new organization to raise funds and assist brethren who fear they might be discriminated against by their respective Grand Lodges to the point of indefinite suspension and/or expulsion from the fraternity. The newly-christened "Masonic Insurance Association," or MIA for short, is reportedly rolling out a set of insurance policies geared toward reimbursing petition fees, degree fees, dues and, in some cases, even regalia costs.

Bro. Joe Snow, Executive Director of the MIA, sat down with The Past Bastard to discuss the organization's new campaign: "It's been an unsettling year for Freemasonry in North America. As reports of brethren being removed from the fraternity due to race, sexual preference, and even internet usage are rising precipitously across the country, we here at the MIA can't stand idly by. We can't reverse the Grand Lodge decisionmaking process--or lack thereof--but we can lessen the emotional burden on a brother facing potential discriminatory penalties by giving him an avenue to recoup the money previously spent on Freemasonry. With our help, the only thing you can't get back is your time."

Bro. Snow continued by explaining that the policies would run on a sliding scale of benefits. "Naturally, one size doesn't fit all here. Different brethren suffer from different amounts of mean concern. You'll edit out that slip of the tongue, right? Anyway, we've got plans to fit everyone's needs whether you just want your petition fees or annual dues covered up to full life memberships! Under certain circumstances, we can even do a regalia rider."

When asked how the insurance premiums would be calculated, Bro. Snow explained: "The MIA takes a wide variety of factors into account when assigning premiums. Each applicant will be required to fill out a questionnaire that polls demographic data such as race, religion, and sexual preference, as well as questions on how active a presence one maintains on social media or how much one enjoys esoteric research topics. The applicant's Grand Jurisdiction also weighs heavily. As one could guess, an applicant from volatile jurisdictions such as Arkansas or Tennessee will, on the aggregate, see higher premiums than one from California or Washington, D.C. We run those factors and more through a highly trained algorithm to compute the lowest rate possible. It's all very scientific."

When The Past Bastard asked Bro. Joe about any exceptions or limitations to these policies, he reported: "Obviously we can't insure anyone for preexisting charges or conditions, and we only insure for cases of discrimination. Finally, those seeking compensation for lost life memberships need to be aware that the value of a given life membership depreciates on a quarterly basis."

- SK Bro. Mason Burhmaster

Monday, December 5, 2016

Grand Lodge of Minnesota institutes social media policy

Bloomington, MN - Following the example of the United Grand Lodge of England, which recently published a social media policy for Freemasons, the Grand Lodge of Minnesota has issued its own guidelines for members who are active online.
"We didn't really want to curtail the free speech of our members," a Grand Lodge representative told The Past Bastard. "It's just that over the last few years, as more of our brothers discovered MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, we've discovered that a lot of Masons are, to be frank, major asshats once they get behind a keyboard."
Speaking to us on a condition of anonymity ("I'm not allowed to discuss Grand Lodge proceedings," he told us), he explained the reasons behind the new guidelines. "We've got a huge problem today. Masons across the world are connected in ways like never before, but for some reason, when they get behind a keyboard, they immediately forget every single thing they've been taught about tolerance, temperance, and propriety."
Noting that the proliferation of Masonic groups on Facebook has made it easier than ever to have an argument with people around the country, and even around the globe, our source told us, "That's why this policy is necessary. The past several years have demonstrated that the internet causes most Masons to lose all semblance of self-control and critical thinking skills; it's the job of the Grand Lodge to remind them to keep inviolable their obligations as good men and Masons as they navigate the information superhighway."
He went on to outline some of the basics of the new policy. "Some of it is basic netiquette stuff, not to mention essential internet safety. You know, things like, don't give out your personal information such as phone or credit card numbers, and especially do not give any information out to Nigerian Princes, or to cute twenty year old girls who have a one week old Facebook account. And if you see something that looks interesting, check it out with Hoax Slayers or Snopes before passing it along to the rest of the guys on your lodge email list. Oh, and most importantly, please observe Wheaton's Law."
We asked our anonymous source about letting social, or rather, social media Darwinism handle those members who weren't able to handle themselves in virtual public. "Most of our older Masons are brand new to the internet. They simply don't understand the way it works. The Grand Lodge cannot, in good conscience, suspend or expel a brother for unmasonic conduct on the internet without first giving him a policy that explains he'll be suspended or expelled for unmasonic conduct on the internet," he told us. "Plus, it keeps us from getting sued if one of our members starts committing acts of libel or selling his brethren's Social Security numbers."
He also stressed that some members could benefit from installing the West Gate browser plugin to block offensive content in case one simply cannot handle alternative viewpoints.
The Past Bastard's anonymous source closed the conversation by explaining that, perhaps, not everyone should be on the internet in the first place -- an assertion with which The Past Bastard is in complete agreement.
"On the internet, everyone has a voice," he said, "but, like in real life, just because anyone can speak doesn't mean that they should."

-SK Bro. Mason Burhmaster
- Conte Calvino Gliostro