He's SO Grand!

That and $3 might get you a coffee at Starbucks....

Grand Orient of the United States - Founded (internet registration logged) 20 November 2007.

    Grand Master Aaron Peavey - +/- December, 2007 to +/- April 2008 - Term: 5 Months

    Grand Master John Slifko - +/- April, 2008 to +/- December 2008 - Term: 7 Months

    Grand Master Jeff Peace - +/- December 2008 to May, 2011, serving 2.5 years of a 5 year term. If you believe that the founder of this group gave it up voluntarily, then perhaps you'd be interested in buying a very nice and only slightly used bridge in Brooklyn...??? (He was ALWAYS the REAL Grand Master but let the other two think they were for a time!) See below for more information.

    Grand Master Dale Brown - May, 2011 to sometime in 2012. Never an announcement of his coming and never and announcement of his going. The 'mystery man' of GOOFUS, long remembered in the annals of..... nothing! His rise to power wasn't just a planned one, for sure: their "Council" had been regularly held (if you can count three years in a row as 'regular') in the August/September time frame. Coming in May of 2011, this surely was not a planned change of command. (In the Fall of 2011, a meeting occurred in which the former 5 year term of the Grand Master was limited to two years. Obviously, that didn't work out for Mr. Brown so.... Having tossed out their only member who could speak multiple languages could make buddy-buddy with bogus groups outside of the US, why not toss out their reasonably decent - although formulaic - web designer and PR person rather than let him go on for two years and think he might be in charge?)

 Grand Master Jeff Peace AGAIN (?) - Sometime in 2012 to who knows when. An online comment from their sole (sorta) lodge (Halcyon) indicated that GOFUS was now a 'confederation' and didn't have any overriding authority. 2012 saw Jeff trying to wheedle some attention using LinkedIn to post some of his 'thoughts' on the ills of Freemasonry, never bothering to reveal that he was an expelled Mason who'd started several organizations to compete with regular/recognized Freemasonry. Such is the long and tortured story of those who play make-believe....

ACTUALLY, Mr. Peace's reign didn't last all that very long - or may not have even begun, much to our surprise. He'd emailed me on April 4, 2011 offering a payment of $10,000 if I would take this site down - and threatened a lawsuit by the Grand Orient of France and/or the "...3 lawyers who are members of our organization who will gladly donate their time to shut you up." Apparently this and other bizarre actions by Mr. Peace led to the removal of the so-called Treaty of Amity with the Grand Orient of France AND his removal from office. It would appear, based on the incredulous reaction I received when I casually mentioned this in an online conversation, that his offer was unbeknown to anyone. Moreover, it's absurdly surprising he would think that 30 pieces of silver would work...

Grand Master Richard Ehrlich

This was the only mention of a change in leadership - and indicates that 2013 was a SECOND term. Apparently they count Grand Masterships the same way they count lodges. Unlike real Masonic Lodges, the Wardens were too unimportant (or embarrassed) to be named. Of course, the breathless announcement below, while claiming "steady growth" is absurd as this table clearly shows.

 

But here is the 'tale of confusion'

Here's Grand Master the First (or Second, depending....)

Previously, we had a long section here about Aaron Peavey which included an email we had received during his very short term as the first 'Grand Master' of this group. The founder, Jeff Peace, caused him to leave the organization with some bitterness, perhaps because he was appealing and well spoken and thus absorbed a modicum of limelight. They then tried to paint Aaron as the devil incarnate who was using GOOFUS for manipulative purposes. More objectively, however, it's far more likely that he had bought into the message from Mr. Peace and was doing his level best to perpetuate the fantasy. It is also reported that he provided a considerable amount of funding for both the organization and individuals, never to be repaid.

In the early 1950s, Eric Hoffer produced a book titled "The True Believer" to which I was introduced during my time as a political science major in college nearly three decades later. Hoffer wrote about mass movements and the promises they make as they attempt to gain traction. He also delves into the psychology of it all and with this knowledge, it's easy to see how folks can get wrapped up in 'the big lie'.

Hoffer's argument is that mass movements need adherents willing to sacrifice themselves and others for the future goals. 'A better Freemasonry', for example, certainly falls within this sphere. Using Hoffer's theory, the GOOFUS founder/creator needed to devalue both past and present Freemasonry, something he has tried to do quite actively. (Devaluing the past through his - apparently sole - public presentation on his version of Masonic history and devaluing the present by calling his former Grand Master and others obscene names, denigrating the 300+ year old system of Freemasonry, claiming to quit and selling his library wanting nothing more to do with Freemasonry of any kind (except the false one of his creation apparently), creating the falsehood of 'traditional cosmopolitan Freemasonry while making out of thin air yet another group where he could rapidly become the leader after apparently using others to do the 'heavy lifting'. His revisionist history of his Masonic exploits has more twists and turns than the Gordian knot.) Hoffer posits that mass movements (although surely, less than a dozen people is HARDLY a 'mass movement') appeal to frustrated people who are dissatisfied with their current state, but are capable of a strong belief in the future. His book also explores the behavior of such movements once they become established suggesting that as they leave the "active {development} phase", the communal framework collapses and members can no longer defeat the feelings of insecurity and uncertainty by belonging to a compact whole. Like Hoffer, I don't take an exclusively negative view of "true believers" and believe that Aaron Peavy was - as the saying goes - 'ridden hard and put away wet'.

In that e-mail message from Aaron referred to above was this statement: "Although Jeff is a personal friend of mine, he does not tell me how to run the GOUSA"  Therein, the fatal flaw! To have believed that Mr. Peace would not ultimately have his way on each and every matter was, it appears to me, grossly naive and, again, reflects the Hoffer theory of such things.

We wish Aaron the best as he attempts to recoup monies spent and lent as well as the credibility he wasted. His time, energies, and abilities were, sadly, spent for naught!

Let's try for somebody larger than life....

GOOFUS Grand Master du JourLess than two months after Mr. Peavey had written to me - and less than THREE WEEKS after this page appeared (not entirely unexpected for someone who would so brazenly and openly claim independence from the control of GOOFUS' founder) - Mr. Peavey was no longer Grand Grand Master. The job was given to John Slifko of California which was really pretty comical to 99% of the online Masonic world - although the unrecognized Grand Orient of France never quite 'got the joke' it seems. Mr. Slifko had, from all we can tell, never even been to one of the GOOFUS 'lodges' meeting at Stabucks and there were none where he lives although one seems to have been conveniently formed post facto at his apartment. Grand Master by e-mail and phone call? WOW! A new system indeed. The new Grand Master. HURRAH! Whoever said these guys did things logically, eh?

John is quite the individual. He's indicated that he's a doctoral candidate, and has been for a decade or more it appears. He claims to have been a Mason for 30 years but in the mid 1990s, he was on the CompuServe bulletin board pontificating about how Masonry should be co-ed and that Masons were so old fashioned by not allowing women. After several months of his verbose rants (John is certainly never at a loss for verbosity nor is he 'reticent' in any way. In fact, 'reticent' is not a word that anyone meeting him online would ever consider for a description!), I personally challenged him suggesting that perhaps he might be better off leaving Masonry and joining a co-ed group. Apparently he did just that - although there remain to this day questions as to whether he ignored his obligation to Grand Lodge rules and held both memberships simultaneously. On CompuServe and in other venues, he strutted his membership in apparently one and then a second (can't quite remember the details as he was SO irrelevant to reality) irregular/unrecognized Grand Lodges.

Time moved on and, strangely enough, John appeared back as a member of the regular/recognized Grand Lodge of California. So his ethics apparently allowed him to ignore the vows made before God and man (or to not renounce them but lie and violate them in fact), perhaps make other vows, possibly renounce them (unless that was a lie initially and perhaps doing that yet again), and then come back for a 'do-over'. And so John USED the Grand Lodge of California membership for his own ends - whatever they were/are - until it once again wasn't convenient. He then bolted to be hailed as the Grand Master of a group with whom he doesn't engage publicly. You can read a very interesting and direct blog post about this matter by Masonic author Chris Hodapp right here. You'll also note that the 'usual suspects' of 'Fake Masonry' including a couple of sock puppets have posted comments in their typical immature and puerile behavior mode.

It's so comical - but we didn't have to wait long to see what came next in the nascent (a favorite word of his) development of John Slifko: Pawn!

In early 2011, John attempted to become my 'friend' on Facebook. Not bloody likely! I respect Freemasonry far too much to want to affiliate with those who would attempt to bring it to its knees.

The Ultimate Goal - and Grand Master forever....

That nascent period didn't take long and in December, 2008 we received an anonymous (SO typical) message stating that Mr. Peace had become the Grand Master of their canoe club. It does seem odd that just as Mr. Slifko was becoming somewhat vocal online (in yet another cycle of blathering versus silence), he disappeared. Having secured the worthless "treaty of amity" from another irregular and unrecognized Masonic organization (the Grand Orient of France), he appeared to feel empowered but that historically was a VERY fatal flaw when in an organization run by Mr. Peace.

We've read quite a bit about the various machinations that took place leading up to the ascension to his 'rightful place' as Grand Master by Mr. Peace. Messages from him with very unbecoming two-word epithets, much of the 'if you're not with me then you're against me' bravado, the always present threats of law suits, and so much more. It really is amazing how these things 'just turn up' in our e-mail sometimes. And, unlike others, we value and respect the concept of confidentiality as a part of our life. Suffice it to say, the story - even if we've only gotten 5% of it, which really isn't the case - is quite pitiful.

Accusations flew back and forth amongst the parties who hadn't abandoned this farce entirely with the Grand Orient of France officers being praised in public and condemned as conniving liars in private. (Folks, you should SEE some of the e-mails I've seen. Talk about POLITICS. Amazing!) Desperate, though, not to 'lose face', each side continued to glad-hand each other.

But WOW!

Who would have ever thought? As 2011 began, rumors began to circulate that the Grand Orient of France was losing patience with the silly machinations of GOOFUS, due in no small part to reading of their unbelievable claims documented in their absurdity here. And, sure enough, at their regularly scheduled conclave in May, 2011 , the house of cards came tumbling down, anticipation of which seemed to lead to the terse announcement and - TA DA - yet ANOTHER Grand Master (for "immediate" release a month after it happened!).

And the short-lived Grand Master, Mr. Dale Brown

In 2008, a blog site appeared claiming that "Masonic Light is Getting Brighter in Mobile" (Alabama) and noting that their "Triangle" was beginning to pick up steam. Apparently, it's taking a LOT longer than expected because three years on, there have been ZERO additional posts anywhere about this fledgling group. Like all of the GOOFUS fantasies, it was clearly nothing more than an internet creation, unsupported by reality of any kind. More ironic, however, is that person who was unable to create a lodge in his own large U.S. city is now in charge of the whole group!

And although most United States regular/recognized Masonic Grand Lodges change their leadership annually, it's done at very specifically stated times and with a well-established protocol (progressive promotion through a line of officers, election as a senior officer and subsequent automatic advancement, or whatever). Grand Orient leadership usually holds office for indefinite (and LONG!) periods of time so it was ridiculous to regular/recognized Masons for them to have a planned five year term as finally achieved by the founder after three false starts but probably just as silly from the French perspective to be such a short period.

But what really happened to push this failed politician to the forefront of the so-called Grand Orient of the United States, ousting the organization's creator? Lots of back-stories, certainly. Clearly there had been angst about Jeff's behavior as well as the lack of transparency with the Grand Orient of France upon whom so much of their fairy tale lineage rested. The arrival and nearly immediate departure of the group's apparently sole foreign language speaker coupled with the mess surrounding the Halcyon Lodge lawsuit and the disparaging of the George Washington Union with whom the GODF also had a Treaty of Amity were all certainly potential causes. Online, not a single member of their group (including/especially Mr. Brown who - several months on - still hadn't stepped up to publish anything under his own name) is willing to address why he's there and why Jeff is now out to pasture. Threats of lawsuits, perhaps? Wouldn't be the first time!

One thing for certain: it's a sad tale continued but even with Mr. Brown's enormous amounts of time invested at all hours of the day and night on their Facebook page (as well as remaking and remolding the website for Halcyon Lodge and 'cleaning up' the blogging of one of their most acrimonious and incendiary members' online behavior), was a battle sloped uphill at such an angle it was absolutely impossible to - well, to do ANYTHING really. Oh, yes: and despite one or two little advances (Wow, that fencing around a building in Cleveland is surely the sign of a successful national organization, everyone will certainly agree!), in the end, sadly, it'll all be for naught. After a year he was out and the sole breathing (gasping) part of their empire now states that they're INDEPENDENT.

Mr. Brown seems to now be Treasurer of this organization (see photo of website page above) replacing Mr. Peace's close personal friend who always kept to the shadows. Curious indeed.

In the words of regular/recognized Masonic ritual, "Thus wastes man...."

Updated July 13, 2008 with a few sentence structure corrections 24 August 2008.
Updated January 22, 2009; June 20, 2009; July 9, 2009, September 29, 2011, December 23, 2012 and September 15, 2013


 

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don't miss these:

Dissembling Lodges
GOOFUS History
He's SO Grand!
Halcyon Hogwash
Praxis Prattle
It's the Vulcans!
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