When one looks at this, it's hard to believe that some men claiming to be Masons, would act the way they do. This is the tale of an honest-to-gosh group related to Freemasonry as well as the story of its detractors, including Masons and jealous pretenders.
First, some background:
There are several Masonic magazines being published currently with periodic (and sometimes breathless) announcements of more. Some are stillborn while others manage a couple of issues and then fade away. It is, perhaps, a symptom of our restless times that these 'great ideas' don't keep a person's attention for more than the length of a Tweet!
A couple of magazines have been around for decades but they're all facing the same problems: fewer people submitting less 'professional-level' research, editors with qualifications far inferior to their predecessors, and a much greater propensity to 'make a statement', often involving Masonic politics. Many of the recent entries into this sphere have been strictly online efforts using simple desktop publishing programs with no attention to things like graphics resolution or - far more disturbing - copyright laws. The latter are almost universally created by individuals working without any type of oversight or editorial review while the former seem in the hands of a single individual with scant oversight. One group of long-standing in 2007 experienced a coup of sorts, the details of which have been closely held. However that action coupled with their editorializing in an increasingly shrill manner on matters of Masonic affairs perhaps best left undisturbed created great concerns over transparency issues and the feeling that some of these magazines (and the bodies that produce them) are more like fiefdoms than impartial purveyors of Masonic information.
In addition, there are usually online discussion groups tied to these publishing endeavors and there are also discussion groups without any type of magazine, existing simply to give Masons (and often that term is used VERY broadly to include irregular and unrecognized groups who are pretending to be Masons) a place to engage each other online. These discussion groups come in all 'flavors' but nearly all have a sole decision-maker who manages the group with the ultimate right to 'rule and govern'. While this type of authority is something most regular/recognized Masons fully accept and accede to in their lodges, it seems to be for some particularly odious in the sphere of the Internet. Still further, some of these - both public and 'private' - are known for their free-wheeling discussions on all manner of divisive subjects including politics and religion with the excuse that 'we're not in lodge'. They frequently involve attacks on individuals although those who moan and groan about being the subject of attacks are most frequently themselves the attackers. (This site's author is often the brunt of such personal attacks made by the a couple of fanatics from the 'fake Masonry' crowd on a very regular basis.)
An idea takes root.
In early 2008, seeing that there was essentially NO Masonic publication in North America providing unbiased material with editorial review, a group of Masonic authors and educators banded together to form "The Masonic Society". Recognizing the havoc that had been occurring across the Internet as a result of agenda-driven intemperate expelled Masons, disaffected Masons who cared little for their membership and delighted in finding fault, irregular Masons with a desire to prove their regularity was more regular than others, and more, the newly-formed Masonic Society determined that their membership would be limited to members from "regular/recognized" Grand Lodges and that they would have an internal bulletin board system similarly limited.
They sought out those persons who were well-recognized in the Masonic community and had distinguished themselves in some way in Masonic research. From this small cadre, the group was formed with a repertoire of "Founding Fellows". (Masonicinfo Note: In the interests of full disclosure, I was among those asked to join and did so. However, I was unaware of the formation of the group until less than a week before it went public and I was not involved in its formation in any way, nor did I seek any recognition through joining.)
Suffice it to say that no good deed goes unpunished - at least when it involves Freemasonry on the internet. A couple of the 'fake Masonry' groups, primarily the identities, sock puppets and close allies of the so-called "Grand Orient of the United States", immediately took umbrage and railed loudly that The Masonic Society was elitist, even to the point of arguing that those in the group were 'afraid' of them. They railed against the designation of 'Founding Fellows' and seemed quite miffed that they could not come to the discussion group to continue their puerile game of online dissention. Sadly, a couple of regular/recognized Masons, perhaps piqued that they weren't in the list of Founding Fellows, immediately leaped forward to add blog posts and create a discussion group for an 'organization' which they called "The True Masonic Society". Jealousy can be such a terrible vice....
While The Masonic Society planned for dues cards (already received), an impressive membership certificate, lapel pins (awaiting manufacture), annual meetings at "Masonic Week" held in Washington, DC each year, and a quarterly magazine (the first issue was then nearly finished), one or two disaffected individuals gave birth to "The True Masonic Society", created from the jealousy and self-created misunderstandings. They had nothing more to offer than free access to a Yahoo newsgroup. (When this page was first written, one of their founders suggested that they, with all of their talent, and because The Masonic Society has not produced their first issue in under 60 days, should do some publishing of their own. It's a good thing no one held their breath as you'll soon see.)
The censure of The Masonic Society came in blog posts, on other discussion lists which host the disaffected, and on their own semi-closed site. They railed about the horrors of a closed organization and more. "The True Masonic Society" quickly showed, however, the problems of unregulated discussion and the interjection of personal agendas by pseudo-Masons. Within a few hours, their 'better' venue disintegrated into the morass that might have been easily predicted.
Like a moth to a flame, those who find objections to Freemasonry and think they've got a FAR better way will gravitate to places where they can sow further seeds of dissent. The end of July, 2008 even found Tim Bryce, the Mason who never lets his lack of understanding how Freemasonry works outside of Florida interrupt his extravagant volumes of free advice, asked on the Yahoo group of "The True Masonic Society" about The Masonic Society "Is the group defunct?". His question was based, apparently, on the fact that there had not been a change to the Society's website home page for some 40 days. Since he's not a member of The Masonic Society, he wasn't seeing the thousands of posts and thoughtful discussions which had been occurring there each day. It did seem odd that he'd raise that question since he's never made similar inquiries about his 'affinity friends' in the Modern Rite of Memphis, the Rite of the Red Cross of Gold, the United Grand Lodge of the United States or the current Grand Orient of the United States of America (or even their founder's Tracingboard site) which had gone for months upon months without updating and had, in the latter case, even been 'closed' for weeks on end. And, in fact, as of the August 25, 2008 revision to this page, the so-called Grand Orient of the United States still had an announcement about the upcoming 4th of July (2008) on it. Nothing like dissent to garner attention to one's self, is there? (Masonicinfo Note: within a week of this commentary, the so-called Grand Orient of the United States had a new website, complete with a picture of Thomas Jefferson, non-Mason!)
And, not to be outdone, disaffected and rejected-Mason Brad Cofield then replied within SEVEN MINUTES "From what I have heard (with zero proof to back it up) the gentleman who built and hosts the site for them has run out of money." Based on Mr. Cofield's already demonstrated online integrity along with our personal knowledge that the site has been going along just fine since it's inception, it was clear this was quite simply a lie - another in a long stream of them from Mr. Cofield. Perhaps he'd like to prove we were wrong and provide the name of his source along with disclosure of the means by which he supposedly 'heard' that information? No? Ah.....
The yammering continues
The internet has a huge attraction for those who want to be in the limelight - and that has shown brightly in the case of The Masonic Society and its mockers.
UPDATE 1 AUGUST 2008. Within 24 hours of this page appearing on the web, the group mentioned directly above changed their Yahoo Group name and group description. It's unfortunate that such a bright light needed to be focused on this issue in order to 'make things right' since prior reasoned requests had met with stubborn refusals. They now appear to be adding 'sock puppet' names to their membership roster daily and are averaging about 2 posts per day, mostly by the two Forum Moderators and/or the mouthpieces for the 'fake Masonry' of the so-called "Grand Orient of the United States".
UPDATE 25 AUGUST 2008. One of the two
individuals so greatly distraught about the founding of The Masonic Society has
continued to flog away at them periodically during this month
including blog posts such as
this with swarmy comments like "Let's see
the competition top this one!" Here's a clue, 'Squire':
nobody except YOU is in competition with much of anyone. Why not grow up a bit?
(You can read more about the absurdity of another of the 'Squire's' claims
condemning The Masonic Society, there were also some bones thrown to Stephan
Nickolic, a Masonic author who had recently also announced his publication of a
UPDATE 23 SEPTEMBER 2008. The first issue of The Masonic Society Journal is now in the hands of members. Without fanfare and without rancor.... Membership certificates are also in the hands of members as well and many members are having these professionally framed. The "True" Masonic Society's boasting and braggadocio seems to have fallen flat.
Oh, and in response to the Squire's absurd comment about "unsigned essays", should anyone be confused as to who wrote this page or any except those specifically noted as having different authors, they need only look at the bottom of each and EVERY page. Alternatively, you can ask any Mason who's been on the internet for more than a few hours. DUH! It's not hard....
A YEAR LATER. August 27, 2009 we revisited their Yahoo group to find the "Masonic Brothers" bulletin board just another backwater pseudo-Masonic discussion group with an average of barely 80 posts per month with most coming from the same 2-3 people. They show a grand total of 195 members while The Masonic Society that they tried to exorcize has nearly ten times that number, has produced a handsome membership certificate along with some seven issues of a high quality glossy print magazine and has held their first annual meeting during Masonic Week in Washington, DC with plans for another meeting this fall.
ANOTHER YEAR PASSES. December 18, 2010 we again visited the Yahoo group to find the average number of posts over the past year to have more than doubled to 125 while the number of members has shrunk to 181. Many "members" post 'potted messages' here as well as in three or four other discussion lists - and never read anything or reply to comments about what they've posted. Oh, and the lodge founded by Nickolic is now completely gone from the web as is his publishing effort which left subscribers without fulfillment of their paid-for subscriptions (can we spell t-h-e-f-t ???).
Once again, those building houses on sand see the results of their pettiness.
Adding to the ways in which both Masons and non can be distracted is the fact that in June, 2007 a Mason in Colorado had purchased the domain name of masonicsociety.com and set it up as a discussion group. However, it was never advertised as such (that we're aware of) and languished with ZERO members. When The Masonic Society was in the planning stages, that Mason was contacted and agreed to relinquish ownership when things came to fruition. When contacted again, he submitted a invoice for the name, reportedly in the thousands of dollars. <SIGH> While everyone is entitled to a reasonable profit for their endeavors, it hardly seems appropriate to attempt to 'fleece' another Brother Mason. The site is now being regularly populated by bots and in over a year, not a single post has been made on the site. It's just another of the many twists and turns in online Freemasonry....
Remember: if you want to join THE Masonic Society, type THEMASONICSOCIETY.COM into your browser. They welcome your membership amongst those interested in Freemasonry!
Page created: 30 July 2008 & updated 1 August 2008, 25 August 2008, 6 September 2008, 27 September 2009 and 18 December 2010.
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