Thursday, December 18, 2014

Accuracy Does Matter . . .

Two famous world leaders shaking hands?  Obviously evidence they are Freemasons, right?

I may have inadvertently offended a few people earlier in the week with my blog post Finally The Evidence Abraham Lincoln Was A Freemason?  I got annoyed over the weekend with something I've been seeing more and more.  I shared my displeasure to the delight of many, and the consternation of a few.  Whether you like what I had to say or not, it doesn't change the truth in what I said.  Accuracy does matter!  I'm glad I was able to get a conversation started.  Basically, if you're going to claim to be an expert, or a Masonic scholar, or a researcher--be those things!  Be a good representative of Freemasonry and know what you're talking about before you speak! 

And lets not use the old "it was an opinion piece" cop-out--I've heard that a dozen times this week.  I doubt there are very many Freemasons out there that have written more opinion/perspective pieces on Freemasonry than I have over the years.  Even opinion pieces should be based on solid facts.  We're constantly answering for bad information put out maliciously by our detractors--it's worse when our own self-proclaimed "experts" do it. And to be perfectly honest, it's embarrassing. 

The goal of a Masonic researcher and writer should be to educate.  Freemasonry is complex and fascinating subject, and too many Masons know very little about the Fraternity they belong to.  That should be the goal of the researcher and writer--to bring those truths we've learned to others. 

I said yesterday I don't write book reviews anymore.  However, I do offer assistance--I always have.  I'm proud of the fact I've helped quite a few new researchers and writers, at least in some small degree, get started (for instance, visit The Midnight Freemasons).  I genuinely enjoy helping to develop interest in the subject of Freemasonry, and Research Lodges and Masonic research organizations are hungry for those passionate about researching and writing about the Craft.  It's a big tent, and there's more than enough room for everyone.  It's great to see the growing interest in Masonic education amongst Freemasons just in the last few years.  Lets make sure we do our due diligence and provide the best information. 

And for those of you who want advice, assistance, or input--all you have to do is ask.

~Todd E. Creason, 33°

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Finally The Evidence Abraham Lincoln Was 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. 


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Freemason Wisdom: Henry Ford On Goals

"You can't build a reputation on what you're going to do."

~Henry Ford
Palestine Lodge No. 357, Detroit, MI

It's not an easy thing to build a reputation.  It requires work.  You have to do things, and you have to do the right things and make the right decisions more often than not.  You can't sit around and wait for people to notice you, you have to get their attention through your actions.  And the things that you do have to mean something.  It won't happen right away.  Sometimes a reputation is build on a lifetime of work.  And sometimes the right action or the right decision isn't the popular decision.   

But there is one thing I've noticed as I've researched famous Freemasons over the years.  I've written about many virtuous men of good reputation, and in almost every case, being a famous man, or being a man of good report was never their primary goal--it was secondary.  They didn't set out to be admired and respected.  They set out on their life's path with a desire to accomplish something meaningful--often with nothing more than a lot of motivation and an impossible dream.  Their reputation was built as they lived their lives and accomplished the things in their life that were important to them.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Photos: A Few Of My Friends

Me and fellow Midnight Freemason Judy Gordon hamming it up at Grand Lodge of Illinois Convocation (2014)
"If they quit having fun, they'll stop coming."

~Denver Phelps
AAGM & Past Master (IL)
The holidays are a busy time of the year, and sadly, I didn't have anything prepared this morning, so I thought I'd post a few photos I had on my phone.  I talk a lot on here, and the Midnight Freemasons talk a lot on that blog, about the more serious aspects of the Fraternity.  However, there is a lighter side as well as these few photographs show.  I've been fortunate to have made many great friends in the fraternity, and it's not all serious and somber--there's a great deal of fellowship and fun as well.  Many of these feature my good friend William J. Hussey our Illinois Royal Arch Most Excellent Grand High Priest.  He takes most of the credit for my success as a Masonic writer and scholar, however, I would point out that when I met Bill, he was merely "Illustrious" and not "Most Excellent." 

MEGHP William J. Hussey (in red) adding my name to the expulsion list as I roast him at a dinner in his honor.

You can kind of tell he's plotting his revenge . . .
That's me and the Illustrious L. Scott Niccum (also a Midnight Freemason) clowning around at the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville Reunion (2012)
That's me and the MEGHP William J. Hussey again--he's trying to take my dues card. 
Me and my friend Daniel Hussey enjoying the hospitality suite in Bloomington, IL
Midnight Freemasons Greg Knott, Judy Gordon, and me in Bloomington, IL.
Whole bunch of Midnight Freemasons enjoying lunch at Steak and Shake in 2013 L to R: Scott Niccum, Michael Shirley, some random guy from England, Judy Gordon, Steve Harrison, Robert Johnson, and Todd Creason.
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