Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gaelic Speaking Lodge

A while back I found this article in the Celtic Magazine, vol III, dated 1878. I was, as is often the case, in search of something else at the time. Recently, Robert L D Cooper of the Grand Lodge of Scotland confirmed in an email to me that this lodge still meets. Alas, they still perform the rite in Gaelic only once a year. Visiting for that is on my bucket list, for sure. Agus tá súil agam go bhfuil an lá sin i bhfad ar shiúl uaim go seadh.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

An Amazing Piece of Architecture

This is one we all have to see to believe. If you were like me when you were a sapling, then you won't mind this diversion from the topic of Freemasonry. Although it isn't made with masonry, it's still one fascinating piece of architecture. And as Tom Anderson said, "It's in Crossville, Tennessee, which means I'm gonna go to Crossville some day!" I now have a real reason to visit Tennessee! Thank you very much for sharing this fascinating story with us, Tom.

All that being equal, the child within you wants to go check out this link. Come on, it's the holidays still. Let's indulge our childhood fantasies for a moment and remember that if you dream big enough, anything is possible!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ahiman: A Review of Masonry

Ahiman is a periodical anthology of Masonic writing, offering a serious exploration of the rich initiatic traditions of Freemasonry. Edited by Masonic scholar Shawn Eyer, Ahiman is dedicated to stimulating scholarship, penetrating interpretation and inspiring creative expressions focused upon the history, rituals, symbolism, iconography and philosophy of Freemasonry.
“Ahiman fulfils an aching need within the Craft. For many years, there has been a tendency to suggest that Masonic scholarship ought to be exercised in historical argument alone. What has long been lacking is an open discourse that includes scholarship that addresses Freemasonry’s spiritual and esoteric elements. To facilitate that wider conversation, Ahiman has now appeared.”—Tobias Churton, author of The Golden Builders and Freemasonry: The Reality, and Course Lecturer in Freemasonry at the University of Exeter’s Centre for the Study of Esotericism

Scrooged! Why the 21st century now looks like the 19th.

I find it funny that some Freemasons and even some obediences have a tendency to mention that old saw about not speaking of politics, most often when the politics being spoken of is not the type with which they agree. However, as Freemasons, we are also supposed to be concerned about improving society as well as ourselves. As any brief glance at the history of our institution will remind us, Freemasons sometimes in large numbers, individually if not as an institution, have been actively engaged in political and social change. Unlike the claims of the conspiracy theorists, as an institution, that engagement has almost always been for the better.

With that in mind, it seems completely in keeping with Masonic principles to encourage my brothers and sisters to read the article linked below. Now, as individuals you can be more or less conservative than I am, and I am not particularly concerned about the nominal references to Christianity in this article, as they are also literary, but the commentary is truly worth consideration. Tiny Tim is with us still.

Click here to read the article: Scrooged!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Colectanea Masonica: A blog by Javier Otaola associated with the GLSE

Javier Otaola is a member of Logia Teorema under La Gran Logia Simbólica Española. He is the author of "La Metáfora Masónica." He is an energetic and talented brother and should be better known among Liberal Masons in the United States. Take some time to view his blog. It includes current news on Freemasonry, some informative videos by Bro. Javier and others, as well as theoretical and educational materials. Again, for those who are linguistically challenged, the Chrome browser will help you by providing instant, if somewhat basic translations of an entire page. It's worth the effort.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Report from the 2011 Conference on Latin American Freemasonry at UCLA

A stimulating conference on Freemasonry in Latin America was held last weekend at the UCLA Faculty Center. The Welcome and Introductions were presented by -Senior Grand Warden John Cooper, Masons of California; Grand Master Frank Loui, Masons of California; Margaret C. Jacob, PhD, UCLA, and María Eugenia Vázquez Semadeni, PhD, UCLA. Margaret Jacob noted that the partnership forged between the Grand Lodge of California and UCLA of which this conference was born, has been a good one. She noted that much more work needs be done. There is a role for both the research lodges and papers by non academics and individual masons. The academic can learn much from masonic viewpoints and contextualize them while helping to introduce the masonic writer to a more strenuous written style. There was a strong plea that Masons begin to gain control and centralize documents they were loosing everyday, stored in garages, attics, thrown out the back door of the lodge. This should be complemented with digitization.

Among the significant and informative papers read at this conference were those by Ricardo Eugenio Martínez Esquivel, University of Costa Rica, entitled “Mystical Sociability: Freemasons and Theosophists in the organization of Co-Freemasonry and the Liberal Catholic Church in Costa Rica during the 1920s,” Guillermo de los Rayes Heredia, University of Houston entitled “The Relation Between Mexican and American Freemasonry, Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries,” and two stimulating papers on Freemasonry in Cuba delivered by Eduardo Torres Cuevas, PhD, University of Havana, and Jorge Luis Romeu, PhD, Syracuse University. These were accompanied by nearly a half dozen more excellent papers including one delivered by Dr. Margaret C. Jacob, entitled “Where We Now Are in Masonic Studies.”

The conference was just the beginning and perhaps it is time to begin to consider what next steps might be. Dr. Jacob did not allow the conference to end before proposing a global conference on Freemasonry and civil society coming into modernity.

UCLA Freemasonry and Civil Society Program
The Freemasonry and Civil Society Program is a collaborative
partnership between UCLA’s History Department, the Grand Lodge of
California, and the Institute for Masonic Studies. The Program offers
courses investigating the history of Freemasonry within the context of
civil society. Each year, the Program sponsors a post-doctoral fellow
and a research assistant. The International Conference on American
& Latin American Freemasonry is offered in conjunction with the research of this year’s post-doctoral fellow, María Eugenia Vázquez-Semadini, whose specialties include Mexican political culture in the nineteenth century and the history of Freemasonry.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Repeating Islands

News and Commentary on Caribbean culture, literature, and the arts

Ivette Romero-Cesareo and Lisa Paravisini-Gebert have produced a wonderful blog that deals with a wide ranging subject matter tied to the broader discourse of Pan-Caribbean Culture. Their own words describe the matter best:

"Our use of the title of Antonio Benítez Rojo’s influential text, The Repeating Island, for the name of our blog represents both our tribute to a lost friend and a simple way of defining our audience–those scholars and readers whose interests focus on pan-Caribbean literatures and cultures. We welcome your comments and contributions.

Please note that this is a project intended to bring the broader Caribbean community closer through the sharing of news and information that transcends the linguistic divide in the region. It is a labor of love supported partially by our institutions in the form of student assistants. Therefore, we do not accept advertisements nor will we in the future. We thank you for understanding.

Our banner is taken from Gesner Abelard’s Agwe-Ta-Royau (1955), from Jonathan Demme’s collection of Haitian paintings."

Repeating Islands: News and Commentary on Caribbean culture, literature, and the arts

Arte Maçónica .'. Masonic Art

Carmen-Lara is a Portuguese visual artist with a rich palate and an equally diverse subject matter. One of her stated interests is in devoting canvases to Masonic themes.

VITRIOL or V.I.T.R.I.O.L. is the abbreviation of the Latin expression "Visita Interiorem Terrae, Rectificandoque, Invenies Occultum Lapidem," which means: Visit the Center of the Earth, grind it up, find the hidden stone (or Philosophy). Philosophically it means: Visit the Interior, purify, find the Hidden Self, or "the essence of your human soul." It is the universal symbol of man's quest to constantly improve himself and society in general.

Of her art, Carmen-Lara remarks, "Art adds beauty, excellence, nobility, dignity, and balance to a space. Let the feeling of well-being, of harmony, of emotions, invade your being!


Arte Maçónica .'. Masonic Art

Friday, December 9, 2011

Logia José Martí

From time to time we will offer some small photographic pieces of masonic architecture, because we have and believe all Freemasons should have an interest in the forms of lodges in various corners of the world. We will start, perhaps somewhat arbitrarily, with the Logia José Martí in Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, in eastern Cuba. José Julián Martí Pérez, 1853-1895, was a Cuban national hero and an important figure in Latin American literature. He was a poet, an essayist, journalist, revolutionary philosopher, translator, professor, publisher, and a political theorist. He was also a Freemason. Through writing and political activity, he became a symbol for Cuba's bid for independence against Spain in the 19th century. He also fought against the threat of United States expansionism into Cuba. He is unique among political symbols in the world for being a revered figure for both Cubans who support the current government and those who oppose it. After his death, one of his poems from his collection, "Versos Sencillos" (Simple Verses) was adapted to become the song, "Guantanamera", which is the definitive patriotic song of Cuba.

Yes Virginia, there is a...XXIst Century Freemasonry

Today, many are seeking new models to breathe more life into the dying edifice of North American Freemasonry. There have been a few cautious steps; models such as Traditional Observance or European Concept lodges attempt to respond to the apparent lack of engagement offered by mainstream Masonic institutions today. However much such examples may appeal to some, they have not reversed the general trend in American Freemasonry. They represent a limited attempt to provide relevance to a larger antiquated system.

In part this may be due to the way in which the larger organization relates to them. Their compromise is to work within the larger system attempting to carve out a small space in the desert where they can embrace their own vision of the craft, but always within that larger shadow of the GL system. Such efforts should be encouraged, as far as they can go.

But there is a different way. What happens when sheer energy, enthusiasm, and creativity are given the chance to be the norm? If you want to have a view into that world look to the blog Masonería Siglo XXI and take a tour through the various blogs listed on that blog as well.

NB: Skill in Spanish will help, but if you can't read the language, if you use the Chrome browser, you can translate them on the go. THe translations are not fabulous, but they will help.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Race: Coming to a city near you!

Race is a small but powerful word. Race shapes how one sees and is seen by others. Yet, many people poorly understand what race is and isn't.

To help promote a broad understanding of race and human variation, the American Anthropological Association has undertaken the RACE Project. The RACE Project has produced to date an award-winning public education program entitled RACE Are We So Different? The program includes a traveling museum exhibit, an interactive website, and educational materials. The program is geared for middle school-aged children through adults.

RACE Are We So Different? looks at race in the United States through the eyes of history, science and lived experience. The program explains how human variation differs from race, when and why the idea of race was invented, and how race and racism affects everyday life. The program conveys three overall messages:

Race is a recent human invention
Race is about culture, not biology
Race and racism are embedded in institutions and everyday life.
The Ford Foundation and National Science Foundation have provided generous funding to develop and produce RACE: Are We So Different?

Race is coming to a City near you! to see where the film and exhibit will be in the coming year, click here: Tour Dates and Venues

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Piece of Architecture: Haiti's Gingerbread Houses

Why a link on the Victorian Architecture of Port au Prince, Haiti? Well, It a piece on Architecture, and I love puns. Looking at these old 'Grandes Dames' of the Caribbean in their steamy setting warms the bones of this old mason on the chilly first day of December. Besides, there is perhaps no other country in the New World which has played as significant a role in the development of Freemasonry in the Americas as had Haiti, and Port au Prince is its capital. The love of architecture and Masonry should go hand in hand. I was in love with the former before I was old enough to be aware of the latter. As both masons and humans, we should all remember the Haitians and redouble our concern and support for them as the world and its humanitarian donors seem ready to allow this fierce and beautiful country to be forgotten again.,29307,2004148_2166285,00.html

Roosevelt Center for the Study of Civil Society

The goal of the Roosevelt Center is to serve as a focal point for conversation, inquiry and action by students, faculty, Masons and others interested in the emerging scholarly fields of civil society and Freemasonry, in California and across the world. The Center approaches Freemasonry as an association historically representative of civil society as it developed from the eighteenth-century onwards. It supports inquiry into the role Freemasonry assumed in private and public life. It also explores Masonic thought in a variety of historical and contemporary settings. The approach of the Center is multi-disciplinary, comparative and intended to support work at multiple institutions as well as with independent scholars.

The objectives of the Roosevelt Center are to

•Improve understanding of civil society and Freemasonry.
•Inform universities in California, the Masonic community and the learning public about the emerging field of the academic study of Freemasonry, and the advantages and need for comparative and global studies.
•Facilitate funding for research and travel grants, scholarship programs, post-doctoral fellowships, communications, and exchange programs.
•Convene conferences and exhibitions at appropriate facilities.
•Publish studies, papers, supplemental materials and news from academic conferences held on the topics of civil society and or Freemasonry.