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Friday, December 23, 2005

What was true 40 years ago...

The new guard in Freemasonry is developing new ideas to better the fraternity, with many of the old guard tearing them down. Why is this, one may ask, often I am told because there is to much change involved, or because it is not the way they do (or did) things.

We are drowning in our own overconfidence, and will likely suffocate much of our potential membership with a blanket "We do not do it like that" answer. Working through Grand Lodges, in many instances, gets stifled because of one persons uneducated opinion, and it is happening in more places than we are aware of.

Because of this, it has been my impetus in creating the site Freemason Information.
It's over reaching purpose is not to advertise a particular lodge or Grand Lodge, not to ring a bell for our accomplishments, or even tout my own limited knowledge of the fraternity. Instead, it is my desire, to make it a beacon, of sorts, to simply tell new Masons about masonry, and point those interested in masonry in the right direction. There are to few sites about Freemasonry in General, and many more anti-sites competing for attention. If we continue to hide ourselves, soon the world will forget who we are, and like so many other fraternal organizations, we will cease to exist.

Rebellion and insurrection are not the answers, and we do need to mind our obligations. But we are still Freemasons, first and foremost, and to the fraternity we owe our duty. What was true 40 years ago is not true today.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Freemasonry and the Internet.

Freemasonry's presence on the internet is not what one would imagine. The ancient fraternity, famous for it's writings and illumination of light, is woefully dark in this digital realm where much of the world looking.

Just for statistical sake, The average Internet User Age
Age Percent of Users
35 - 44 25%
18 - 24 23%
25 - 29 17%
30 - 34 15%
45 - 54 15%
55 - 64 3%
65 or Older 1%

"Approximately 66% of all Internet users are male" statistic from: here
Is this not the audience that mainstream Freemasonry is looking to reach?

Further, that "63 percent of U.S. adults now are online and many of them - especially those with several years of online experience - have built Internet use into their lives in practical ways." It goes on to say that "87 percent of U.S. Internet users said they have access at home and 48 percent said they have access at work in our August 2003 survey. 31 percent of Internet users who go online from home have broadband as of August 2003." quoting

Is Freemasonry reaching these users? Do we have a presence on the internet? Brother Tim Bryce has written a brief look at Freemasonry and the Internet and what every Grand Lodge around the world needs to consider.

We need a strong presence on the web.

Quoting from the piece:
"Basically, what I have learned is this, if that there was ever a vehicle devised for supporting Freemasonry, it is the Internet. The Internet fits Freemasonry like a glove and begs the issue of the universality of the Brotherhood. Regrettably, as a relative newcomer, it is still not considered a vital and integral part of Masonic operations. This is due to simple ignorance of its capabilities. Understand this; the Internet is primarily a vehicle for our younger Brothers as well as those considering joining this great institution. It is our future."

Read all of Brother Tim Bryce's article here and let us know what you think.

For a full perspective to what the web offers, this site is comprehensive in it's analysis and trending. Pew Internet and American Life Project

Draw your own conclusions....FFTNG part 2


There has been much speculation and debate over the closing of Freemasonry for the Next Generation. Because it was a private demand, it has not been publicized for the world to see. With the permission of Brother Tim Bryce, attached below is the correspondence between the Grand Master and edior about the closure complete with veiled threats and implied authority. It is a stark example of over-reaction and a knee-jerk response to something trivial.

Read, and come to your own conclusions as to why FFTNG has been closed and shuttered.

November 22, 2005
(received by certified mail December 1, 2005)

Mr. Timothy L. Bryce
P.O. Box xxx
Palm Harbor, FL xxxxx-xxxx

Mr. Bryce:

It has come to my attention that you are again assuming authority you do not have. The Digest of Masonic Law of Florida clearly states the procedure of the legislative process of this Grand Jurisdiction. I do not find any reference to a review by Tim Bryce & Associates of proposed legislation from Zone 6 or anywhere else in this Grand Jurisdiction before being submitted to the Grand Secretary and the Jurisprudence Committee for review.

I, therefore, order you to "cease and desist" your tampering with the Legislative Process of the Grand Jurisdiction of Florida. Be further advised that any legislation submitted through Tim Bryce & Associates will not be accepted by the Grand Secretary for review by Jurisprudence.

In regard to Tim Bryce & Associates selecting a Craftsman (Mason) of the year, be advised that a Lodge may, by vote of its membership, elect a Mason of the Year for that Particular Lodge. A District, by vote of its membership, may elect a Mason of the Year for that District. Tim Bryce & Associates may not choose, appoint, or elect a Craftsman (Mason) of the Year without the authority of the Grand Master. I have not given you that authority.

I, therefore, order you to "cease and desist" with your program for Craftsman of the Year. Be further advised that a Craftsman of the Year made by Tim Bryce & Associates will not be recognized by the Grand Lodge of Florida. I suggest you review Chapter 4, Regulations 4.06, 4.08, 4.09 and 4.10.

I am sure you are proud of your "Masonic Manifesto," after review, I feel some of your comments about the Grand Lodge of Florida are abusive. I feel your comments are an affront to the Grand Lodge of Florida and its Officers. As the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Florida, I feel that you show a clear contempt for me as your Grand Master. As to your Website, I can find no record of your authority to publish information about the Grand Lodge of Florida, its Officers, Membership, Committees or Programs.

Therefore, I order you to "cease and desist" all publications concerning the Grand Lodge of Florida, its Officers and Members. I refer you to Chapter 4, Regulations 4.06, 4.08, 4.09, 4.10 and 44.2 of the Penal Code.

Any and all response to these orders will be made through the U.S. Postal Service, in writing, signed by you. No E-Mail.

With regards,

John F. Kazanaugh
Grand Master
12345 Some Street
Avon Park, FL 33825-4414
Res: (123)456-7890
Email: xxxxxx@strato.net

cc: M:.W:.Richard Lynn, Chairman of Jurisprudence
R:.W:.Denver Crabbs, Chairman, Penal Affairs
M:.W:.Roy Connor Sheppard, Grand Secretary
R:.W:.Robert D. Trump, Deputy Grand Master
R:.W:.Roberat P. Harry, Jr., Senior Grand Warden
R:.W:.Joe Fleites, Junior Grand Warden
M:.W:.John R. Givens, P.G.M., Advisor to Grand Master

======================================================================

M:.W:.John F. Kavanaugh
12345 some street
Avon Park, FL 33825-4414

December 2, 2005

Dear Bro. John,

Thank you for your letter of November 22, 2005. I have always considered myself a loyal and true Freemason. As such, I was somewhat bewildered to see my character and integrity questioned. Nonetheless, let me see if I can answer your letter.

First, as a point of clarification, my company is M. Bryce & Associates (MBA), a division of M&JB Investment Company (not Tim Bryce & Associates). My company has absolutely no interest in the legislative process of the Grand Lodge of Florida. As an individual Freemason though, I have been working with several other Brothers from Zone 6 to draft legislation for consideration by the Grand Lodge. Frankly, the discussions have been some of the most stimulating and productive that I have listened to as a
Freemason. The resolutions being formulated, therefore, are being presented to the Grand Lodge by Masons and not by any company. Nonetheless, I have terminated the free on-line discussion group we were using to discuss these issues.

As to my publication, "FREEMASONRY for The Next Generation" (FFTNG), I have never tried to pass the publication off as an official publication of any Grand jurisdiction, particularly the Grand Lodge of Florida. As is clearly displayed on my web site
and printed in each issue, "FREEMASONRY for The Next Generation is an independent publication not affiliated in any way with a Masonic Grand Lodge or other Masonic body." Nor have I tried to pass myself off as a representative of any Grand Lodge. Nevertheless, to comply with your order, I have terminated all Masonic publications I am responsible for:

FREEMASONRY for The Next Generation
Masonic Update
World Map of Freemasonry
Zone 6
SunCoast Masters & Wardens Association
SWAT Team
Widows Hotline
Grand Lodge of Florida Calendar
SunCoast Masters & Wardens Association Calendar
District 22/23 Calendar
Tropical Lodge No. 56 F.& A.M.
Tarpon Lodge No. 112 F.& A.M.
Clearwater Lodge No. 127 F.& A.M.
Pearl of the West Lodge No. 146 F.& A.M.
Sutherland Lodge No. 174 F.& A.M.
Dunedin Lodge No. 192 F.& A.M.
East Gate Lodge No. 355 F.& A.M.
FFTNG Discussion Group
SWAT Team Discussion Group
Zone 6 SunCoast Discussion Group

I am truly sorry you are offended by my "Masonic Manifesto" cover story in the September issue. I can assure you that it was not directed at any specific Grand Lodge, least of all the Grand Lodge of Florida. You must understand that I participate in dozens of Masonic discussion groups on the Internet including Australia, Canada, Japan, the Philippines, and of course the United States. As such, I am in daily contact with literally thousands of Masons from around the world. Between this and my experiences in other
nonprofit groups and my management consulting business, I formulated the "Masonic Manifesto" which is simply a list of suggestions for improving the fraternity. I humbly apologize to anyone offended by the article but it was not directed at any one person or Grand Lodge.

I most definitely do not hold you in contempt. Quite the contrary. If I did, why would I have personally initiated the effort to make you an Honorary member of the SunCoast Masters & Wardens Association? Or for that matter, an Honorary member of East Gate Lodge No. 355 (which I am a plural member of), and my
home lodge, Sutherland Lodge No. 174 (my signature appears on the
dues card and certificate presented you by our Worshipful Master). I am fully cognizant that you are the Grand Master; you are the boss. Because I do not want to cause you any embarrasment, I am hereby tendering my resignation as District 20 Chairman of Publicity & Public Relations and will notify our District Deputy, R:.W:.Anthony E. Rhodes accordingly. Further, I will not accept any Lodge office at Sutherland Lodge No. 174 in 2006; and since my tenure as President of the SunCoast Masters & Wardens has come to an end, my activity there will diminish. As to our Craftsman of the Year program, like FFTNG, it is an international award and not dedicated to any specific Grand jurisdiction. It is intended to
recognize a worthy Mason who is not a current sitting officer, yet goes above and beyond the call of duty to serve Freemasonry. Last year's winner, however, happened to be from a Florida lodge and M:.W:.Elmer Coffman, PGM was pleased to make the presentation. Nonetheless, because of your order, this program has also been terminated.

Bro. John, all of these efforts have been dedicated to serving the best interests of the Fraternity over all. If someone is interested in locating a Masonic lodge to visit, I help them find it, regardless of the jurisdiction (today, for example, I was asked about a Masonic Lodge in Guatemala). If someone is interested in joining the fraternity, I point them in the
direction of who they should talk to, regardless of the jurisdiction. If there is a Brother in need of some advice on a web page or newsletter, I freely give it. I also monitor the deaths of northern Brothers in our area and advise their home Grand Lodges accordingly.

I think Freemasonry is a beautiful concept and, as such, consider myself one of its best promoters. However, I am confident my visibility has resulted in detractors who do not speak well of me. This is unfortunate. Nobody likes to have their name besmirched behind their back for some unknown reason. As is obvious from your letter, my services are no longer desired by the Grand Lodge of Florida and, as such, I am looking forward to becoming a sideliner.

Sincerely,

Tim Bryce
123/456-7890 (Office)
timb001@attglobal.net
P.O. Box xxx
Palm Harbor, FL xxxxx-xxxx

======================================================================

December 6, 2005

Hon. Tim Bryce
xxxx Some Road Drive
Palm Harbor, Florida 12345

Dear Brother Tim:

Thank you so much for your letter of December 2, 2005 in response to my letter of November 22, 2005. We appreciate your cooperation with us and the excellent manner in which you are willing to work with us in the best interest of the Grand Lodge of Florida and to avoid any conflict or misunderstanding among our Brothers. Your cooperation is truly a sign of your interest in Freemasonry.

Again, thank you for your response and cooperation.

Sincerely and fraternally,

John F. Kavanaugh
Grand Master
12345 some street
Avon Park, FL 33825-4414
Res: (123)456-7890
Email: xxxxx@strato.net

JFK/gkm

cc: Roy Connor Sheppard, P.G.M., Grand Secretary
Buzz Crabbs, Chairman, Penal Affairs Panel
Richard E. Lynn, P.G.M., Chairman, Jurisprudence

editor note - addresses have been changed.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Masonic Censorship and the end of Freemasonry for the Next Generation


Censor / Censorship
pronounced - cen·sor n.
  1. A person authorized to examine books, films, or other material and to remove or suppress what is considered morally, politically, or otherwise objectionable.
  2. An official, as in the armed forces, who examines personal mail and official dispatches to remove information considered secret or a risk to security.
  3. One that condemns or censures.
  4. One of two officials in ancient Rome responsible for taking the public census and supervising public behavior and morals.
  5. Psychology. The agent in the unconscious that is responsible for censorship

Lost this week was a great Masonic web site, by the hand of censorship. The facts and details are unclear, but what remains of a great web site is a message stating:

"BY ORDER OF THE GRAND MASTER OF FLORIDA THIS SITE HAS BEEN SUSPENDED.
Effective 12/2/2005"



A great voice in the Masonic community has been silenced by censorship. Through channels of my own, I did find out that it was though an order to cease and desist, which if applied in the legal sense could mean that there was a legal penalty assessable for the sites operation. From a Masonic view, the only thing valued enough to threaten with is the individual’s membership. Both are very drastic in their own way, and both are demoralizing to the member when threatened with losing. There were more than a dozen sites that were managed, maintained and edited by Brother Tim Bryce, from message boards to lodge web-sites, all functioning as beacons of light in the vast darkness of the internet.

I thought about how to approach this subject and wondered if there were any rational judgment I could muster to address the Grand Lodge of Florida, but after careful reflection, and letting the compass circumscribe my passions, I decided to narrow it down to this:

If a particular site is of so offensive, request it to be edited, do not just shut it down.

Put simply, you do not chop off the nose to spite the face because in doing so, much more is lost. By closing so many sites, these little harbors of light are now dark turning away interested parties who may of stumbled in on them. What they offered to the world at large was a virtual face to Freemasonry, a presence to get someone an insight to our fraternity.

Looking at it from another perspective, many Grand Lodges do not offer sites with vast quantity or content. Many have a look and function like the web did 10 years ago in its infantacy. The problem is that if someone is interested in the fraternity, this is where they land. Is this the presence we want project to potential members, an out of style and out of date group who can scarcely maintain their presence, let alone a schedule on the web? This is not to cast stones at any one particular lodge or lodges, but the internet has evolved at such a rapid rate that Freemasonry has fallen dramatically behind in it's web presence, and any sites that offered light and insight to the fraternity are assets to be valued and kept.

I can only hope that future Grand Masters consider this and think carefully before squashing something of such great value to Freemasonry. Our assets are few in this realm, and often a simple edit can remedy the most annoying itch. I look forward to the day that Freemasonry for the next Generation returns.

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