Monday, January 30, 2017

Scottish Rite Tensions Come to a Head Over Social Inequality

Saint Louis, MO - In the recent wake of widespread dissatisfaction arising out of the increasing disparity in social status at Scottish Rite Valleys across both jurisdictions, two activist movements have taken shape to call for better treatment for the "hardest working men in Masonry."
The Black Caps Matter movement--BCM for short--originated in Missouri by Bro. Joe Snow, 32˚, of the Scottish Rite Valley of St. Louis, who spoke to The Past Bastard about his organization's push toward AASR equality: "For years, 32˚ Masons--black caps, as we call them--have been relegated to the worst duties in all of the Scottish Rite functions. We're back in the kitchen doing the dishes with the Eastern Star ladies while the white caps walk around shaking hands and mingling with the VIPs. We never get any of the best degree parts at reunions, and being a part of the 'Knights of St. Andrews' is a pretty poor consolation prize. Black Caps Matter was formed to raise awareness for the social inequality that has arisen out of this socially accepted practice of white cap privilege. Black caps are the hardest working men in Masonry, and we should be respected as such!"

A reactionary movement hot on the heels of BCM is seeking to call attention to Scottish Rite social inequality wherever it arises. Labeled All Caps Matter, the movement reportedly originated in Washington, DC to take a "measured approach" to combating social inequality. Illustrious Bro. Albert Lance of the Scottish Rite Valley of Washington, DC, who helped organize ACM, discussed his feelings on both organizations: "I have a tremendous amount of respect for the brethren of Black Caps Matter. Social inequality in the Scottish Rite is real, and 32nd degree Masons all over the country have suffered; but the BCM movement's aims are simply too narrowly focused. The fact of the matter is that KCCH's and 33rd degree Masons suffer as well. We're at events well before the 32nd degrees show up, and we're often the very last to leave. We're held to a much higher standard for behavior, and we always have to put on a show. One misstep and we're the brunt of all the jokes at the next Knights of St. Andrews meeting. It takes a serious mental toll. The fact of the matter is that we're all culpable. Social inequality is something we can more effectively combat on a united front by telling the world that all caps matter!"

While this writer for The Past Bastard is sympathetic to the need for social equality among Freemasons, one has to wonder about the effect that this fraternal discord will have on the blue lodges of Masonry. After all, the perception that the Scottish Rite is ripping Masons away from their Blue Lodge obligations has given rise in recent weeks to the Thin Blue Lodge movement, which has no doubt been set on an inevitable collision course with Black Caps Matter and All Caps Matter. Sure,  caps matter. But they should matter just as much as your Blue Lodge 3rd Degree Master Mason. As far as titles are concerned, the highest title one should ever receive in this fraternity should be that of "brother."

- SK Bro. Mason Burhmaster

Monday, January 23, 2017

MSA to take aim at Fake News websites

Washington, DC -- Spurred on by the increasing number of Freemasons using the Internet, the Masonic Services Association joined forces with the US Office of Masonic Affairs to draft a guideline for Freemasons who appear to be continually taken in by what the media is now calling "Fake News."

"One of the many issues that we see with Freemasons who have recently discovered social media like MySpace, Buzz, and Xanga, is that may of them fall for pretty much anything that's published. They seem to have this mindset that if it's on the internet, then it must be true," said Lee Wayne Tracey, Director of Online Research at the Office of Masonic Affairs. "They then copy and paste the information into their emails and send it all over the Information Superhighway, where it ends up in chain letters, bulletin boards, and sometimes lodge newsletters."

But why now?

"Our concern is that the fake news stories are being spread too quickly, so our plan is to put up a list of websites to be aware of. If a brother is copying a link from a website, they should check that website against our list of sites known for spreading fake news."

The Office of Masonic Affairs explained that the list would contain information site, as well as sites run by web loggers, or "bloggers," who are becoming a common source of fake news for many internet using Freemasons.

"First on the list will be the well known website of Chris Hodapp," Brother Tracey explained. "While Brother Hodapp claims to have had verification for his stories, the fact that he does not release names of these anonymous "brothers" from which he gets most of his inside news indicates that some of those news items are probably fabricated or at least exaggerated."

Tracey went on to describe how one can spot fake news by using the Freemasonry for Dummies website as an example.

"Sharp readers will notice that most of his news stories take place in just a few states, like, Georgia, Arkansas, or Tennessee; states where there are very few Masons to begin with. That means that he could easily fabricate stories about events there, and nobody would ever know."

Brother Tracey hopes that the new website will soon become a common resource for Freemasons.

-- Conte Calvino Gliostro

Monday, January 16, 2017

Grand Lodge of Alabama drops 'Progressive Line'

Gadsden, AL -- Emboldened by the current political climate, the Grand Lodge of Alabama voted to drop its practice of a "Progressive Line" and has urged all constituent lodges to do likewise.

"The Grand Master announced it the other day, and the rest of the officers immediately jumped onto it because it seemed so patriotic," said RW Gordon Levine, media spokesperson for the Grand Lodge. "With the recent national elections, we're seeing a return to good old conservative values, and we're taking the opportunity to clean up the progressive part of our own house."

"It's obvious to us that the 'progressives' have done nothing but raise taxes, enforce political correctness, and have resisted any objections to their philosophy," RW Levine explained. "That's why we have decided to raise our Grand Lodge per capita dues - to double them, in fact - and to use part of that money to send out little cards to all the members so they properly understand how to address our officers. We initially had some objections, but as it happened, most of those went away after we suspended the members responsible."

The Past Bastard tried to question RW Levine on their definition of "progressive," and wondered how it would affect future Grand Lodge elections.

"I don't see anything changing at all, except that after this year, we're going to call it a 'conservative line," he said.

-- Conte Calvino Gliostro

Monday, January 9, 2017

Scottish Rite Research Library under fire for hoarding books

Washington, DC -- How much control should a library be able to retain over its books, and when does that control become detrimental? That is the question being raised by a number of new members of the Scottish Rite, who have charge the Scottish Rite Research Library, and its curator Arturo De Hoyos, with hoarding books instead of allowing them to be promulgated throughout the Masonic community.

"Honestly, we're not trying to start any trouble," said Brother Don Wayne Stacy of Cheddar Lodge 522 in Cracker, Wisconsin. "It's just that I've been a Mason for two or three years now, and I've been a 32ยบ SR Mason since last summer, and there's just nothing left to read for guys like me to develop a more esoteric understanding of our Craft. All we're asking for is that the Scottish Rite start releasing copies of those thousands of books that they have, so we can do our own reading and research."

Some other members of this movement for a more transparent Scottish Rite have a different take on things, though.

"Yeah, some guys are convinced that the library curators are hoarding the old books, but there are some of us that are now questioning whether the Scottish Rite even has those kinds of books to begin with," said Brother Joseph Nieves of Deer Dressing Lodge 288 in Deliverance, Tennessee. "I mean, we're always hearing about all these rare and esoteric books and stuff, but nobody has actually, you know, seen them. Some of us are beginning to think that those claims are all just smoke in order to keep the rest of us in awe of the old guard power structure. I mean, you've got all these guys in my chapter who talk about Brent Spiner and Art De Hojos like they're some kind of religious figures. But what if there aren't any of those old books, you know?"

The Past Bastard reached out to WB De Hoyos, who responded "With all the guys complaining about their dues as it is, there's no way we could hire a full time staff to transcribe these old works, let alone translate the ones from German or French, and get them all out to the local lodges and chapters. As it is, we're way behind in our plan to have statues of Albert Pike in all 50 states, and once that's done, then it will be time to look at some major repairs on the Washington facilities."

He then added, "If those 2 or 3 year Masons want to volunteer some of their vacation time to come to Washington and transcribe a book or two, we could probably have all this done in a couple of years. I'd talk more on this, but I'm on my way to the gun range, where I'm sighting in a new Russian Dragunov."

Some of the new Scottish Rite members remain unconvinced, though. "What if all the Scottish Rite books are just, you know, nothing but old books and not really esoteric at all?" they have asked. "What if the Scottish Rite is just one more body to take your money and give you titles and bling and stuff, but offers nothing in return?"

-- Conte Calvino Gliostro

Monday, January 2, 2017

Massachusetts lodge sets new record

Agawam, MA -- The members of Moriah Lodge were excited to learn that they had set a new record at their last meeting for the length of time spent introducing Grand Lodge officers. The record was officially confirmed by the International Office of Masonic Affairs.

“It started out as a typical evening, and we hadn’t set out to break any records or anything,” said WB Arlo Brockton, Master of the lodge. “But all these Grand Line guys started showing up, along with Past District this, and Very Worshipful that, and by the time we got them properly lined up and started introducing them, we were passing the 30 minute mark.”
Grand Lodge officers waiting outside the lodge to be
properly introduced before a degree. 

The record for lodge introductions was set in 2007 by John Brown Lodge No. 322 in Virginia, running to 48 minutes of introductions for a regular stated communication.

“When we were around the 40 or 45 minute mark, we figured we were about done, but suddenly a whole gang of past and present Grand Lodge guys from Connecticut showed up, along with their entourage of District Deputy Grand Masters, and whatever else they have down there. That surprise pushed us well past an hour and twenty minutes. After that, our Secretary thought it would be a good idea to send in the statistics to be considered.”

Moriah Lodge had originally planned to perform an Entered Apprentice degree; however, they decided to reschedule when they realized that after the introductions there would be no time for the candidates, not to mention a lack of room for circumnambulation.

"We tried to explain to the candidates that it was a historic moment for them, but we aren't sure if they quite understood. Hopefully things will go a little more smoothly in a few months when we have the next set of degrees scheduled.

-- Conte Calvino Gliostro