Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Lost Symbol a novel by Dan Brown, Revisited

As mentioned, the new Dan Brown novel, The Lost Symbol is generating a fair amount of buzz, both within and without the Masonic world. I have read the book. It is an entertaining page turner just like Dan Brown's earlier books. Does it portray Freemasonry accurately? If you are a Mason, you will need to judge that for yourself, but in my opinion, the essence of the Masonic fraternity comes through loud and clear. Right through the final paragraph as well as the final word in the book, "Hope."
Want to know more about the fraternity and the book? The Masonic Service Association of North America, The George Washington Masonic Memorial and the Masonic Society have co-sponsored a website, The Lost Symbol & Freemasonry, with plenty of information on the book and its Masonic references.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Lost Symbol a novel by Dan Brown

We have received a few calls and comments about the new Dan Brown novel, The Lost Symbol. As no advance copies were to have been released, today on September 14th, I am like most of the rest of the world, I have not read the book yet. But having read all of Dan Brown's other novels, I plan on reading this one at my first opportunity. But even after I have a chance to read the latest work, I will not really be in a position to speak for the Minnesota Masonic Fraternity about the book or about Freemasonry in general because our chief spokesperson is always the Grand Master of Masons in Minnesota. Our current Grand Master is Most Worshipful Brother Thomas G. McCarthy and I am sure that he will have some comments on the book and Freemasonry in the coming days and weeks. Be sure to watch the Grand Lodge of Minnesota website for any official response to the book and in the meantime, if the new book is as entertaining as his past books, just enjoy the book.

Annual Election of Lodge Officers

Right Worshipful Doug
It’s coming to that time of the year again the Election of Officers. Could you point me to chapter and verse on the subject of Election of Officers? The question keeps coming up, do we nominate candidates or not?

The election of lodge officers is an annual event, specified in the lodge bylaws. The mechanics of the election are governed by a few sections of the Minnesota Masonic Code and quite a bit of lodge tradition. Tradition holds that the Master of the lodge appoint a committee of three (usually Past Masters) to serve as a Tellers Committee.

Below you will find the specific references from the Minnesota Masonic Code dealing with the election of lodge officers. The question about nominations being permitted is a perennial question and that change is one many members are uninformed about. About fifteen years ago the Minnesota Masonic Code was mended by the insertion of the words, “except that at the time of election of officers, formal nominations are permitted” into the UnMasonic Conduct section of the Code, so where it previously said it was unMasonic conduct: “To solicit votes for election of Lodge Officers, even outside the Lodge Hall, at any time or place.” And that effectively prohibited nominations. But with the change from several years ago it now expressly permitted nominations, but did not require them.

Section C9.06 ... In case a Lodge fails to hold its annual election at the regular time, the same may be held later upon a dispensation from the Grand Master and upon like notice to all its members.
SECTION C2.03 The following are enumerated from the Ancient Constitutions as having the force of Ancient Landmarks of the Fraternity, having been generally received and acknowledged by Masons as such:
(14) That no one can be elected Master of a chartered Lodge, except at its first election, but a Master Mason who shall have served as a Warden.
SECTION G13.16 The three (3) recognized methods of voting are:
(a) The secret ballot - upon all petitions for degrees, affiliation, reinstatement or restoration.
(b) The written ballot - for election of officers.
SECTION G6.03 Beside violation of Section C8.01, of the Constitution, the following specific acts shall be deemed unmasonic conduct and shall render the offender subject to discipline.
(o) To solicit votes for election of Lodge Officers, even outside the Lodge Hall, at any time or place, except that at the time of election of officers, formal nominations are permitted.
SECTION G13.28 Blank ballots and those cast for other than eligible members of the Lodge in good standing are void and must not be considered or counted in announcing the result either of an election or otherwise.

So the short answer is absolutely yes, nominations are permitted at the time of the annual election of officers.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ancients and Moderns Today?

My older son is thinking of joining a lodge and going through the degrees in California, which, I understand, is a "Free and Accepted Mason" state, not an AF and AM state. Can you explain the difference? Would his degrees be recognized in Minnesota, for instance? Would there be a problem, if I wanted to participate in his raising? Are F and AM masons "clandestine"?

Historically, I think this goes back to the formation of the first Grand Lodge in England when there was a schism for about fifty years and one group called itself the "Ancients" and the other group the "Moderns." This was about the time that Masonry came to the colonies and some came as Ancients and some as Moderns. They merged back together to form the United Grand Lodge of England and that was pretty much the end of the distinction. But by then some Grand Lodges over here had started using the A. F. & A. M. designation and some using the F. & A. M. designation. Michigan is F. &. A. M. as is Wisconsin, California, New York, Ohio and several other states. Minnesota is A. F. & A. M. as is Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and several other states. For us out here west of the colonies, I think it had to do with where the first masons came from and what they had back at home.
Today, there really is no distinction between the two other than the historical designation difference and the rituals of the two are largely interchangeable. So as long as your son is joining a lodge under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of California, F. & A. M., with their Grand Lodge office located in San Francisco, then you would be welcome at the degrees and any of their lodge meetings. They are a recognized sister jurisdiction and not considered to be clandestine to those of us under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. But there are many clandestine Grand Lodges operating in California so you would want to be sure that your son joins a lodge listed in the List of Lodges Masonic, a book published annually by Pantagraph Press. The Grand Lodge of Minnesota mails a copy to every Minnesota lodge once a year so your lodge secretary should have the book.
By the way, congratulations on your son starting his Masonic journey, a proud day for any Mason.