Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Evidence Abraham Lincoln Was Actually A Freemason? You've Got To Be Kidding Me . . .

"Are we sure Abraham  Lincoln wasn't a Freemason?  It should be pretty obvious from this old photo that he was." 

This was a post I read the other day from a self-proclaimed "Masonic researcher."  He didn't do any research on the question, but suggested that the way Lincoln was standing, and the way  the other men in the photo were holding their hands was somehow "Masonic."  He "believes" Honest Abe was actually a Freemason.

My friend, with all due respect, he wasn't.  If you want the facts you'll find them in the piece Abe Lincoln: Freemason Or Not.  I know the facts are accurate, because I not only wrote it, but I researched it first.  Wishing a thing into existence doesn't change the reality.  Masonic researchers use facts.  Some years ago, I actually visited the Masonic Lodge that Lincoln petitioned, and then withdrew his petition from.  The story is well documented, and there is no doubt remaining.  Abe Lincoln was many things, but he was not a Freemason.  Had he survived the Presidency, in all likelihood he would have joined our Fraternity--that was his intention.

This is the kind of garbage I read all the time that irritates me to no end.  If you're going to write, then know the subject, research the evidence, and write factually!  If you want to be a Masonic researcher, you've got to open a book. 

It's pretty much a weekly occurrence for somebody to contact me and ask me to look over a book, especially on Freemasonry, and write a review.  I just don't do that anymore, and I'll tell you why.  There is a great deal being published right now on the topic of Freemasonry that is absolute crap.  It's poorly researched, and badly written.  As I told somebody the other day, just because anybody can publish a book these days doesn't mean everyone should.

The last book I reviewed was nothing more than a two hundred page opinion paper on Freemasonry based solely on the authors impressions of Freemasonry.  There was no research done at all on anything the author wrote about in the book, in fact, the phrase "I heard" was used over and over again.  Hearing things is not research!

The author pestered me for two weeks about the review and I finally told him the truth.  I didn't like the book, and I wasn't willing to write a good review about it.  He was pretty angry with me, and said it was un-Masonic of me not to do that favor for a Brother.  Perhaps being dishonest is more Masonic?

I spent three years writing two books--not three weeks or three months-- three years!  I knew how to write, because I'd spent about twenty years at that point practicing the craft of writing.  I researched those books extensively.  After the chapters were written, my editor and I spent hours editing and re-editing the chapters, working on the order the chapters should be put in, and checking facts before they were published.  They were successful because I'd spent a lot of time thinking about the story I wanted to tell.  I spent lots of time researching the facts.  I spent the time necessary to edit and polish every sentence in those books.  Then I had a few experts review my manuscript before publication to see what they thought about it, and where it could be improved--based on those opinions I rewrote large sections of the books.  And in the beginning I invested all this time and effort on a book I expected to sell about a hundred copies of or less. 

If you want to call yourself a Masonic writer and researcher you have to do the work!  Join some Masonic research organizations--they are numerous.  Contact your Masonic Lodge of Research.  Read!  Remember that scholars spend most of their lives as students--in fact, good scholars are always students first.  They never stop learning.

But most importantly, be concise and be factual.  Why would you want to base your reputation as a writer on poorly written and researched material?  And when you write about Freemasonry, you're representing your Fraternity.  Have enough respect for this venerable institution to do your best work.

Writing and researching takes a little more time and effort than posting a selfie on Facebook. 

~Todd E. Creason

This was originally posted in December 2014.  I was reminded of it early this week when Arturo de Hoyas posted an amusing review of his work from a "Past Master" who claims Art's research isn't very good and he doesn't trust anything he writes.  Of course Arturo de Hoyas is the Scottish Rite's Grand Archivist and Historian and and as far as almost anybody is concerned the leading Masonic researcher in the world.  It's amazing the bad information you'll find on the internet.  Like Benjamin Franklin once said, "never trust anything that's sourced to Wikipedia."

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Freemason Wisdom: Benjamin Franklin On Civility

"A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over."

~Benjamin Franklin

Some people in today's world consider civility a sign of weakness.  They say what they are thinking without thinking, and then justify it by trying to stand on the high ground and point out that what they've said is the truth.  We've become a society of shouters--everyone having something to say and nobody listening.  Nobody learning.  Nobody viewing their "truths" through the lens of another's experience.  Instead of finding those ideals we all agree on and working together on solutions, we stand on opposite sides and call each other names.  Both sides portraying itself as the adult in the room while acting like children.  Both sides refusing to budge an inch.

Civility is not a sign of weakness--it is a emblem of respect.  It is treating someone as we'd like to be treated.  Holding our tongue and listening, learning, and trying to understand another viewpoint is not a sign of stupidity--it's a sign of wisdom.  Finding things we agree on and working on compromises that allow us all to live together in peace is not "caving in" it's called leadership.    

I worry about the world today.  We can't seem to agree on anything.  We fight over issues that weren't even issues until we started fighting about it.  And the problem is, we're all so busy yelling and name calling we don't even stop to think about the issue we're fighting over.  We believe in free speech so long as we're the ones speaking, but then want to silence the free speech of those that don't agree with us.  We're so busy yelling in fact, we don't even hear the fact we're not that far apart on a lot of issues.

We need to get back to civility.  We need to get back to showing each other respect even if we don't agree.  We need to get back to understanding that just because somebody doesn't agree with our position on something doesn't make them evil, or the devil, or an idiot, or a Nazi.  We need to exercise less free speech for the purpose of dividing, and start listening to each other for the purpose of uniting.  

We need to show wisdom by being respectful of everyone, and knowing when it is useful to say something, and when it is best to remain silent and listen. And we need to stop shouting.  Like is says in James 1:19 "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger:"

~Todd E. Creason

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Shriners: Love To The Rescue

Since about 2009, I've had this red fez in my closet collecting dust.  Every year, I get a dues statement, and I pay it.  That's been about my involvement in the Shrine at this point.  So a couple weeks ago, Greg Knott and I decided to dust off those fezzes and go over to the Eastern Illinois Shrine Club meeting.  They were meeting at the Gao Grotto in Danville, Illinois.  That's a great clubhouse high on a bluff over Lake Vermilion.  And we picked a good night to go.

We had a great meal, and afterwards, they'd invited a couple representatives from the Shriners Hospital in Chicago to speak.  They told us about the work they do there and at all the Shriners Hospitals across the country (each hospital has a focus on a specialty).  Gave us some history of the hospitals (their original work with polio).  They talked about the ad campaigns we're all so familiar with (and all those kids on the commercials are patients at the Chicago Hospital).

I knew the Shrine did some great work, but I had no idea the extent.  And I guess the part I didn't have a full appreciation of was the number of members of that small local Shrine club that actually worked so hands-on in that process--several providing transportation for the patients and their families to and from their appointments in Chicago.  That's no small job, and no small investment of time.  That's about a three hour drive from where we're at, so each trip by the time you get up there, have the appointments, and get home represents a very long day for those volunteers.  But they gladly volunteer over and over and over again.

I think I'm going to carve out a little more time to be a Shriner--they have a meeting next week, and I'm planning on joining the Eastern Illinois Shrine Club if they want me.  Not only is it a great group of guys, but it's a group that is dedicated to making the lives of those kids better.  Not just by talking about it, or writing a check--but by going out and making that happen.

Having an opportunity to play a small role in that is something that's really not hard to get behind.

~Todd E. Creason

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"From Labor To Refreshment" Blog Returns To Three Days A Week!

Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the internet . . .
“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like its heaven on earth.” 

~Mark Twain

Perhaps you've noticed the subtle changes to the blog over the last week or so.  It's back to being "From Labor To Refreshment" again.  Yup, that means I'm writing about Freemasonry again full time.  That's what a enjoy writing about.  I didn't realize how much until I took a hiatus over the last several months and allowed myself to write on any subject that interested me.  I quickly realized I'd just rather write on the same subject all the time--the Craft.  

My more serious work you'll find over at The Midnight Freemason (I'm in the middle of a series called Bringing Back the Light on the Midnight Freemasons you should check out).  The less refined material you'll find here--the fun facts, tidbits, research leftovers, and personal stories.  I'm also working with one of the Midnight Freemasons, Greg Knott, on a series of videos--my writing, and his photography and video.  As those are finished, I'll be posting links here to them, and I'm sure Robert Johnson will do the same over at the Midnight Freemasons.  And I've been offered a new role in the Fraternity--a position that was created just for me and one I'm really looking forward to.  I'll tell you more about that later.

And just like before, I'm back to posting on a three day a week schedule.  You can read The Midnight Freemasons on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and From Labor To Refreshment on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.   That's right--the Midnight Freemasons and From Labor To Refreshment have your entire week covered.

Of course, I've never posted on Sunday's.  If you've got to read something on Sundays, I could recommend a very Good Book.

~Todd E. Creason
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