Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016

It has been a banner year for me. The New Year marked the last full semester for my Master's degree. This year was filled with many momentous occasions including my initiation into the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis, serving as Right Honorable Keeper of the Bath Mat of the Masonic Order of the Bath, being elected as the Right Excellent Grand Scribe of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Idaho, serving as Founding Secretary of Intermountain Chapel No.27 of the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon, being the second student ever to receive a Master of Arts in Political Science from Boise State University, the birth of my niece River, and reaching the 10-year mark in my Masonic journey.

It was also a tough year for my family. While many people will recount the number of celebrities that have died this year, my family endured the loss of my cousin Toni to cancer earlier in 2016 and, then in November, I lost my Great Aunt and Great Uncle (siblings) within days of each other.

The first half of the year was definitely pushed me to a very stressful time: trying to balance my collegiate obligations with my Masonic obligations. I was barely sleeping, trying to keep all the rituals straight, failing to keep up with my administrative duties, fitting in all of my travel, and trying to keep up with all of my homework. Had it not been for the understanding of my family, professors, and my Brethren I don't know if I could have kept it all together. Finishing my Thesis definitely relieved a great deal of stress and gave me some validation on a hard year's worth of research.

I spent most of the second half of the year looking for a job which has been a soul-crushing experience, but I think I finally found one, although that will have to wait for 2017. Now I'm off to a New Year's Party. Goodbye 2016.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Farewell to the Brethren of Saint James Lodge

By Robert Burns

Adieu! a heart-warm fond adieu;
Dear brothers of the mystic tie!
Ye favoured, enlighten’d few, 
Companions of my social joy;
Tho’ I to foreign lands must hie,
Pursuing Fortune’s slidd’ry ba’;
With melting heart, and brimful eye,
I’ll mind you still, tho’ far awa.

Oft have I met your social band, 
And spent the cheerful, festive night; 
Oft, honour’d with supreme command, 
Presided o’er the sons of light: 
And by that hieroglyphic bright, 
Which none but Craftsmen ever saw 
Strong Mem’ry on my heart shall write 
Those happy scenes, when far awa.

May Freedom, Harmony, and Love, 
Unite you in the grand Design, 
Beneath th’ Omniscient Eye above, 
The glorious Architect Divine, 
That you may keep th’ unerring line, 
Still rising by the plummet’s law, 
Till Order bright completely shine, 
Shall be my pray’r when far awa.

And you, farewell! whose merits claim 
Justly that highest badge to wear: 
Heav’n bless your honour’d noble name, 
To Masonry and Scotia dear! 
A last request permit me here, – 
When yearly ye assemble a’, 
One round, I ask it with a tear, 
To him, the Bard that’s far awa.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

2016 Winter Commencement

Today over 1,900 students participated in Boise State University’s 99th Commencement ceremony. I sat with 2 of my classmates from the first cohort of the accelerated program of the Masters of Arts in Political Science. A few of my friends also graduated with various degrees. It was a cold day, but well worth it; it was 4°F when I got to Boise State and it warmed up to 15°F by the time I left.

Bro. Brian (Past Master) and I after Graduation

Prep room before Graduation

Just finished walking at Graduation

Lunch with my parents. We're facing the sun and icy wind.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sacred Alignment: The Peculiar Arrangement of the Streets of Boise

By Christopher J Williams, WM, Idaho Lodge No.1, 
with assistance from Levi Billman, PM, Idaho Lodge No.1


The orientation of the downtown grid in Boise, as platted by Henry C. Riggs, has perplexed me since I first noticed it. It seemed to be askew at a very peculiar angle, and to me, the orientation seemed intentional. I asked around the historical community, and nobody seemed to think it strange or intentional at all until I started asking around in the surveying community. Jack Clark, PLS was the individual who stated that everything about the arrangement of the City of Boise was Masonic. His work with the Ada County Assessor’s office, his term on the Ada County Historic Preservation Council, and the fact that he is a Licensed Professional Land Surveyor lend considerable credibility to his assessment of the layout of the City of Boise. He explained that he thought the Capitol being centered on what would be 7th Street was significant. He also said the named streets (which run East-West within the askew grid) were aligned to the Solstices. This was an exciting revelation, and it seemed very plausible as there are numerous sacred sites that have alignments marking the solstices or equinoxes. I had visited the Temple of Kukulcan at the Mayan site of Chichen Itza in 2011 and listened intently to the explanation given for the various aspects of the pyramid, which make it an astronomical calendar. On the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, it is aligned so that the shadows created to give the appearance of a serpent crawling down the steps of the pyramid. This was quite an impressive feat, but probably elementary for a culture so focused on Astronomy and Geometry. Nevertheless, I forgot about this revelation until the calendar neared the middle of June this year (2016). I started looking for programs that might show sunrise and sunset locations throughout the year, so I could verify if there were in fact any odd alignments on the Solstice in Boise. Being an Electrical Engineer myself, and being focused very specifically on Solar Photovoltaic design, I frequently use such programs to estimate the production of a Solar Photovoltaic array that is at a fixed tilt and oriented in a specific direction. It suddenly occurred to me that I had never really paid much attention to the location of the sun at the beginning or the end of the day since there is no power production occurring at these times. So I found a program called SunCalc, which is available online for free, and checked the sunrise location on June 24, and was immediately disappointed. I had to adjust some of the settings to see the location of the sunset, and there it was – the sunset in near-perfect alignment to the adjusted West of the downtown grid. So on the evening of June 23, I packed my wife and 4 kids into the minivan and headed downtown with my camera. The sun didn’t set until around 9:30pm, and I arrived at 9pm. The sun was still looking like it was due West, and my hopes sank, thinking that it would never make it to the alignment of the grid. But the position changed drastically as 9:30 drew closer, and from the center of the street, I could see the sun moving into the street. The trees at the end of the street obscured its final position, but the fact that it made it all the way to the street prior to sunset was absolutely amazing to me. Below is a snapshot of the sunset taken just prior to sunset from 5th and Bannock. WB Levi Billman suggested a rigging system to capture the sunset from the center of the street that would allow a much clearer photograph not obscured by the trees at the end of the street(s). Next year, perhaps we will attempt a photograph from a better vantage point.

An Auspicious Day – 7 July 1863

In Idaho City (Bannock City at the time), with the recommendation of Wasco Lodge No.15 in The Dalles, Oregon, the Grand Master of Oregon granted dispensation to Idaho Lodge No.35. This lodge was located in what was then known as Bannock City, which later became Idaho City. The lodge would later become Idaho Lodge No.1, which was chartered by the newly formed Grand Lodge of Idaho, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, on 23 June 1868.

In Boise City, eight men assembled in Thomas Davis and William R. Ritchie’s cabin. One of them was Henry Chiles Riggs, Sr., who drew up the first plat of Boise City that evening. The history of the men involved in this venture is well written and does not need to be restated here. The history does, however, need to be properly adorned to paint a fuller picture of who these men really were, and what it was they set out to do on that day. Thomas Davis came from Ohio, near Cincinnati. He came to Idaho with his brother Frank in 1862. From the Grand Lodge of Ohio, we learn that he was Raised in Carroll Lodge No.124 on April 15, 1859, and took his Demit on March 14, 1862.

Henry Chiles Riggs, Sr. 

Henry Chiles Riggs, Sr., is well recorded in the history of Idaho, however, his Masonic affiliation does not show up anywhere. The Grand Lodge of Idaho assisted me in finding his affiliation with Shoshone Lodge No.7. In 1869, in the Grand Lodge Proceedings for Idaho, his name appears on the first roster among the list of Master Masons for Shoshone Lodge U.D. From that point, I was able to track him down to Yolo Lodge No.81 in Yolo County, California. He appears among the list of Master Masons in the 1858 Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of California for that lodge. He was also involved in Idaho Masonry as early as 1865, as he is listed as part of the Committee of Invitation in Boise City for the Masonic Ball for Idaho Lodge No.35. I have not yet tracked down where he was Initiated, Passed, and Raised, but for now, it was sufficient to learn that he was a Master Mason, and active in Masonry in Idaho.

From the Idaho State Historical Series for Henry Chiles Riggs, Sr., we also learn that he was elected as a Representative to the Idaho Territory Legislature, and introduced Bills to remove the Capitol from Lewiston to Boise City, and also to form a new County around Boise City. Both of these Bills were successful, and the Capitol moved to Boise, and the new County formed was named Ada County for his daughter, Ada. Much more has been written about his life and his many accomplishments, and it is abundantly clear that he was a great asset to the community of Boise City.

John E. Tourtellotte

John E Tourtellotte weighs in heavily on this story, as some of the most significant Architectural elements that permeate the landscape in Boise are attributed to his brilliant efforts. There is a great deal of information that has been written about this man, but nothing that would lead anyone to believe that he was a member of our ancient and honorable fraternity. He wasn’t easy to find, but I was finally able to locate his record (with some assistance from our Grand Secretary) in the archives of the Grand Lodge of Idaho. His record indicates that he was Raised in Boise Lodge No.2 on May 7, 1892.

His career was very impressive, and there are many buildings in the City of Boise that is attributed to him. He commenced work on the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in 1906, and construction was finally completed in 1921. His work on the Capitol Building commenced in 1905 and was completed in 1920. It seems interesting to note that Bro. John E. Tourtellotte and Bro. Hon. Henry C. Riggs, Sr. would have been active in Boise lodges at the same time. It would be fantastic to learn if there were ever any conversations relative to the arrangement of the grid, or the original intentions of the creator of that first plat map. Regardless, we find the front entrance of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, with its most prominent stained glass window and a statue of St. John the Evangelist perched atop that fa├žade, on the Feast Day of St. John the Evangelist, aligned perfectly to greet the sunrise. Was Bro. John E. Tourtellotte aware of this sacred alignment or was this all just a complete accident? The Capitol Building is even more interesting for our Fraternity. It has 33 steps leading to the entrance. From the front of the Capitol Building, the Capitol Dome is illuminated precisely halfway at sunset on June 24, and again on Sunrise on December 27. It contains 3 different types of columns – Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. And finally, the words of Bro. John E. Tourtellotte from his Capitol dedication speech: “The great white light of conscience must be allowed to shine and by its interior illumination make clear the path of duty.”

Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

Idaho Capitol Building

Union Pacific Depot Building

In the midst of all this construction, there is one more element that I believe further punctuates the efforts of these good brethren, and that is the Union Pacific Depot. Architects Thomas Hastings and Richard Shreve commenced plans in 1924, and construction was completed in 1925 to much fanfare. There is no mention of either of these Architects being Masons, but as we have already seen, this isn’t conclusive evidence that they weren’t. The siting of the Depot tower is precisely aligned to the center of the Capitol Building intentionally to create a spectacular boulevard in the style of the City Beautiful movement. There are many interesting elements to the Tower, including four obelisks at each corner near the top of the tower. The interior has interesting details that might lead a person to believe that there was some Masonic influence on this impressive structure, and hopefully time, perseverance, and patience will reveal the connection if one exists.

Boise Depot (formerly Union Pacific Depot) with 4 obelisks perched atop the tower

Interior of Boise Depot looking toward the “adjusted” East

In the image below taken from the SunCalc program for June 24, the red line marks the direction of the sunset on June 24 and shows a very close alignment to the adjusted “West” according to the downtown grid as platted by Henry C. Riggs on July 7, 1863. The Capitol Building designed by Architect John E. Tourtellotte makes good use of shadow on this evening when the dome is precisely split in the center from the front view with shade on the right and light on the left.

In the image below taken from the SunCalc program for December 27, the orange line marks the direction of the sunrise on December 27 and shows a very close alignment to the adjusted “East” according to the downtown grid as platted by Henry C. Riggs on July 7, 1863. The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist has its entrance oriented to this corrected East and was designed by Architect John E. Tourtellotte. The Capitol Building, also designed by Architect John E. Tourtellotte, makes good use of shadow on this morning when the dome is precisely split in the center from the front view with shade on the left and light on the right.

Sunset on June 24th


Bro. Christopher Williams was Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason in Idaho Lodge No.1, Ancient Free & Accepted Masons of Idaho, where he currently serves as Worshipful Master. He is also a member of Idaho City Historical Lodge No.1863 in Idaho City.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

My Station and Places: Herald

This evening I was appointed as Herald of St. Michael's Conclave of the Red Cross of Constantine. The Herald is the first appointed officer within the door of the Conclave and has duties similar to the Junior Deacon and Marshall within the Blue Lodge; attending to the door of the Conclave and making proclamations. As Herald, it is my duty to proclaim the installation of new Knights of the order. Unlike other Masonic bodies, there is no officer's jewel worn in the Red Cross of Constantine. All members and officers wear a tuxedo with the jewel of the Order.

The etymological roots of Herald originate from the old French word 'heraut' meaning "messenger or envoy" which is said to stem from an older Germanic word "hariwald" meaning "commander of an army." Some argue about the etymology as heralds were said to evolve from minstrels and were originally attached more with tournaments than actual warfare or the commanding of armies. To counter this though, it also thought that this title was originally with commanders, but came to be applied to a lower officer whose chief duty was to make proclamations. An alternate theory is that Herald is derived from the Old Germanic word "haren" which means "to call out."

A Herald was traditionally an officer who conveyed messages or proclamations, acted as diplomats or ambassadors for monarchs, served as Master of Ceremonies, presided over tournaments, and oversaw the adoption of arms. In regards to tournaments, the 12th-century herald took over the job from earlier used minstrels. Not only did they referee the tournament, but announce each of the fighters along with their lineage and heroic deeds. From this duty, they became experts on coat of arms they began to be used on the battlefield to help identify coat of arms of the opposing armies which could assist commanders in assessing troop strength and characteristics. Their success began to evolve them into messengers and ambassadors by the 13th century. Heralds wore a tabard (rather than a surcoat), a sleeveless jerkin consisting only of front and back pieces with a hole for the head, that acted as the proverbial white flag and bestowed the herald with what now would be considered diplomatic immunity. By the 14th century, heralds were permanent members of courts and noble houses. Ranks were being formed that would differentiate heralds from one another and with some monarchs, Heralds were referred to as "Kings of Arms" while with lesser noble houses Heralds were referred to as "Pursuivants." By the 15th century, the Herald reached the apex of its importance, but as the nature of warfare changed (more use of infantry over knights) and tournaments became too expensive, the use of the Herald began to decline though they did gain an extra duty. Monarchies by this time stopped directly granting coat of arms to knights and nobility, this duty is delegated to the herald.

The use of the Herald didn't completely die and today you see it used in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Canada, and South Africa. In England and Scotland, Heralds are still employed full-time by the monarchy and are referred to as "Heralds of Arms in Ordinary" while those Heralds hired on a temporary basis are called "Heralds of Arms Extraordinary." They are often used for public proclamations, coronations, and serving as historians. Scottish Heralds are officers of state. The Lord Lyon King of Arms, as an example, is the supreme officer in the matters of honor and counsels the monarch about matters of genealogy and ceremonies. The Controller of Her Majesty’s Messengers at Arms is a Herald that is in charge of the executive department of law in Scotland. Both English and Scottish Heralds still wear tabards as tie back to their historical roots.

It's interesting to note that the historical Herald duties are often split between multiple officers in various Masonic bodies. As an example, in the Grand Lodge of Idaho, the Senior Grand Deacon is the one who introduces and the Grand Marshal is the one who makes proclamations, but we also have a Grand Pursuivant who is an intermediate between the Junior Grand Deacon and the Grand Tyler. I am honored to serve as Herald and it's good to be back inside the Conclave.


1. de Alcazar, D. P. (2004). The Mediaeval Herald. Retrieved from SCA College of Arms: 

2. Herald. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: 

3. Herald. (n.d.). Retrieved from 

4. Herald. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: 

5. Herald. (n.d.). Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica: 

6. Herald. (n.d.). Retrieved from Medieval Occupations: 

7. What Is a Herald? (n.d.). Retrieved from University of North Carolina:

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Around the world, Americans today are celebrating Thanksgiving. I am thankful every day for being alive and being able to gather with my family. As a veteran, I think back to the Thanksgiving I celebrated with my Army family far away from my home. It reminds me of the history of this holiday and that it was formally adopted as a national holiday during the Civil War.

The fourth Thursday of November was selected for Thanksgiving by William Seward, Secretary of State under Lincoln. He wrote a speech that Lincoln gave, on October 3rd, 1863, to express his gratitude after the Union Army's victory at Gettysburg. President George Washington called for an official day of thanksgiving, but it did not come around until the administration of Abraham Lincoln. The fourth Thursday has served as the national day of Thanksgiving since then, except for 2-years during the FDR administration when it was the third Thursday of November.

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward, Secretary of State

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

JFK and Freemasonry

One of the conspiracies that involve Freemasonry is that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by us for exposing us in a speech he gave in 1961. Often conspiracy theorists cherry-pick a few quotes from this speech to demean and defame Freemasonry. They also state that his speech concerned Freemasonry and all fraternal orders within the United States. Then they say that because President Kennedy gave this speech the Freemasons retaliated by having him assassinated. When reading the entire speech one can easily see the absurdity of this argument. In this article, I will provide a transcript of the entire speech (from the JFK Library) before addressing and analyzing it.

Here is the transcript of the speech “President and the Press” given by President Kennedy on April 27, 1961, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City before the American Newspaper Publishers Association:
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen:
I appreciate very much your generous invitation to be here tonight.
You bear heavy responsibilities these days and an article I read some time ago reminded me of how particularly heavily the burdens of present day events bear upon your profession.
You may remember that in 1851 the New York Herald Tribune, under the sponsorship and publishing of Horace Greeley, employed as its London correspondent an obscure journalist by the name of Karl Marx.
We are told that foreign correspondent Marx, stone broke, and with a family ill and undernourished, constantly appealed to Greeley and Managing Editor Charles Dana for an increase in his munificent salary of $5 per installment, a salary which he and Engels ungratefully labeled as the "lousiest petty bourgeois cheating."
But when all his financial appeals were refused, Marx looked around for other means of livelihood and fame, eventually terminating his relationship with the Tribune and devoting his talents full time to the cause that would bequeath to the world the seeds of Leninism, Stalinism, revolution and the Cold War.
If only this capitalistic New York newspaper had treated him more kindly; if only Marx had remained a foreign correspondent, history might have been different. And I hope all publishers will bear this lesson in mind the next time they receive a poverty-stricken appeal for a small increase in the expense account from an obscure newspaper.
I have selected as the title of my remarks tonight "The President and the Press." Some may suggest that this would be more naturally worded "The President Versus the Press." But those are not my sentiments tonight.
It is true, however, that when a well-known diplomat from another country demanded recently that our State Department repudiate certain newspaper attacks on his colleague it was unnecessary for us to reply that this Administration was not responsible for the press, for the press had already made it clear that it was not responsible for this Administration.
Nevertheless, my purpose here tonight is not to deliver the usual assault on the so-called one-party press. On the contrary, in recent months I have rarely heard any complaints about political bias in the press except from a few Republicans. Nor is it my purpose tonight to discuss or defend the televising of Presidential press conferences. I think it is highly beneficial to have some 20,000,000 Americans regularly sit in on these conferences to observe, if I may say so, the incisive, the intelligent and the courteous qualities displayed by your Washington correspondents.
Nor, finally, are these remarks intended to examine the proper degree of privacy which the press should allow to any President and his family.
If in the last few months your White House reporters and photographers have been attending church services with regularity, that has surely done them no harm.
On the other hand, I realize that your staff and wire service photographers may be complaining that they do not enjoy the same green privileges at the local golf courses which they once did.
It is true that my predecessor did not object as I do to pictures of one's golfing skill in action. But neither on the other hand did he ever bean a Secret Service man. My topic tonight is a more sober one of concern to publishers as well as editors.
I want to talk about our common responsibilities in the face of a common danger. The events of recent weeks may have helped to illuminate that challenge for some; but the dimensions of its threat have loomed large on the horizon for many years. Whatever our hopes may be for the future—for reducing this threat or living with it—there is no escaping either the gravity or the totality of its challenge to our survival and to our security—a challenge that confronts us in unaccustomed ways in every sphere of human activity.
This deadly challenge imposes upon our society two requirements of direct concern both to the press and to the President—two requirements that may seem almost contradictory in tone, but which must be reconciled and fulfilled if we are to meet this national peril. I refer, first, to the need for far greater public information; and, second, to the need for far greater official secrecy.
The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.
But I do ask every publisher, every editor, and every newsman in the nation to reexamine his own standards, and to recognize the nature of our country's peril. In time of war, the government and the press have customarily joined in an effort, based largely on self-discipline, to prevent unauthorized disclosures to the enemy. In time of "clear and present danger," the courts have held that even the privileged rights of the First Amendment must yield to the public's need for national security.
Today no war has been declared—and however fierce the struggle may be—it may never be declared in the traditional fashion. Our way of life is under attack. Those who make themselves our enemy are advancing around the globe. The survival of our friends is in danger. And yet no war has been declared, no borders have been crossed by marching troops, no missiles have been fired.
If the press is awaiting a declaration of war before it imposes the self-discipline of combat conditions, then I can only say that no war ever posed a greater threat to our security. If you are awaiting a finding of "clear and present danger," then I can only say that the danger has never been more clear and its presence has never been more imminent.
It requires a change in outlook, a change in tactics, a change in missions—by the government, by the people, by every businessman or labor leader, and by every newspaper. For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence—on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations.
Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed. It conducts the Cold War, in short, with a war-time discipline no democracy would ever hope or wish to match.
Nevertheless, every democracy recognizes the necessary restraints of national security—and the question remains whether those restraints need to be more strictly observed if we are to oppose this kind of attack as well as outright invasion.
For the facts of the matter are that this nation's foes have openly boasted of acquiring through our newspapers information they would otherwise hire agents to acquire through theft, bribery or espionage; that details of this nation's covert preparations to counter the enemy's covert operations have been available to every newspaper reader, friend and foe alike; that the size, the strength, the location and the nature of our forces and weapons, and our plans and strategy for their use, have all been pinpointed in the press and other news media to a degree sufficient to satisfy any foreign power; and that, in at least one case, the publication of details concerning a secret mechanism whereby satellites were followed required its alteration at the expense of considerable time and money.
The newspapers which printed these stories were loyal, patriotic, responsible and well-meaning. Had we been engaged in open warfare, they undoubtedly would not have published such items. But in the absence of open warfare, they recognized only the tests of journalism and not the tests of national security. And my question tonight is whether additional tests should not now be adopted.
That question is for you alone to answer. No public official should answer it for you. No governmental plan should impose its restraints against your will. But I would be failing in my duty to the Nation, in considering all of the responsibilities that we now bear and all of the means at hand to meet those responsibilities, if I did not commend this problem to your attention, and urge its thoughtful consideration.
On many earlier occasions, I have said—and your newspapers have constantly said—that these are times that appeal to every citizen's sense of sacrifice and self-discipline. They call out to every citizen to weigh his rights and comforts against his obligations to the common good. I cannot now believe that those citizens who serve in the newspaper business consider themselves exempt from that appeal.
I have no intention of establishing a new Office of War Information to govern the flow of news. I am not suggesting any new forms of censorship or new types of security classifications. I have no easy answer to the dilemma that I have posed, and would not seek to impose it if I had one. But I am asking the members of the newspaper profession and the industry in this country to reexamine their own responsibilities, to consider the degree and the nature of the present danger, and to heed the duty of self-restraint which that danger imposes upon us all.
Every newspaper now asks itself, with respect to every story: "Is it news?" All I suggest is that you add the question: "Is it in the interest of the national security?" And I hope that every group in America—unions and businessmen and public officials at every level—will ask the same question of their endeavors, and subject their actions to this same exacting test.
And should the press of America consider and recommend the voluntary assumption of specific new steps or machinery, I can assure you that we will cooperate whole-heartedly with those recommendations.
Perhaps there will be no recommendations. Perhaps there is no answer to the dilemma faced by a free and open society in a cold and secret war. In times of peace, any discussion of this subject, and any action that results, are both painful and without precedent. But this is a time of peace and peril which knows no precedent in history.
It is the unprecedented nature of this challenge that also gives rise to your second obligation—an obligation which I share. And that is our obligation to inform and alert the American people—to make certain that they possess all the facts that they need, and understand them as well—the perils, the prospects, the purposes of our program and the choices that we face.
No President should fear public scrutiny of his program. For from that scrutiny comes understanding; and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary. I am not asking your newspapers to support the Administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people. For I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.
I not only could not stifle controversy among your readers—I welcome it. This Administration intends to be candid about its errors; for, as a wise man once said: "An error doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it." We intend to accept full responsibility for our errors; and we expect you to point them out when we miss them.
Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed—and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian law-maker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment—the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution—not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply "give the public what it wants"—but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.
This means greater coverage and analysis of international news—for it is no longer far away and foreign but close at hand and local. It means greater attention to improved understanding of the news as well as improved transmission. And it means, finally, that government at all levels, must meet its obligation to provide you with the fullest possible information outside the narrowest limits of national security—and we intend to do it.
It was early in the Seventeenth Century that Francis Bacon remarked on three recent inventions already transforming the world: the compass, gunpowder and the printing press. Now the links between the nations first forged by the compass have made us all citizens of the world, the hopes and threats of one becoming the hopes and threats of us all. In that one world's efforts to live together, the evolution of gunpowder to its ultimate limit has warned mankind of the terrible consequences of failure.
And so it is to the printing press—to the recorder of man's deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news—that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: free and independent.
When reading this entire speech and taking into account the audience to which he was speaking, the venue he was speaking at, and the events that occurred prior to the speech one can clearly see that JFK was trying to justify the recent Bay of Pigs invasion and also request that the American press exercise some self-restraint with information that is sensitive to the nation's defense and military operations. This is the opinion I take and which is taken by academic scholars. To anti-Masons and conspiracy theorists the speech has nothing to do with the press, but has become known as the "Secret Society Speech."

Anti-Masons cherry-pick certain phrases and sentences to say that JFK was denouncing such groups as the Freemasons. If you look on the Internet, anti-Masons will have uploaded a video, which ignores most of the first half of the speech, and starts off with the following:
The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings.
Anti-Masons attempt to use this sentence as a means to justify their attack on fraternal groups that meet in private. Disregarding the fact that just prior to this sentence, Kennedy called for the "need for far greater official secrecy", Kennedy also states throughout the entire speech that it is centered on the roles between the President and the press. It's clear that Kennedy is speaking on the public's perception of secrecy and the public administration of the federal government. He is talking about the government being secretive and refusing to release information to the public. He was also being critical of the CIA and their failed attempts to supplant the Castro regime in Cuba.

The Bay of Pigs incident occurred 10-days prior to this speech. This was a huge disaster and an embarrassment to the Kennedy administration, which had only been in power for 3-months. Five days prior to this speech, Kennedy appeared before the Society of Newspaper Editors where he spoke about the same topics, and the "President and the Press" speech was a continuation, the incident still fresh in everyone's minds.

To anti-Masons though, JFK mentioning "secret societies," "secret oaths," and "secret proceedings" is enough to convince them that the President was condemning groups like Freemasonry. As I mentioned in Secrecy: What's the Big Deal?one of the biggest criticisms I see held against Freemasonry is that we are a "secret society" and that devious and sinister plots are conspired in our meetings. I would argue that a true secret society is one that doesn't disclose membership, allow members to wear insignia, hold public ceremonies, or, particularly in America, display their meeting places so prominently. The misuse of Kennedy's speech is just a continuation of the agenda by anti-Masons and conspiracy theorists to make secrecy taboo, ignoring the fact that secrecy is a part of human nature and enjoyed by everyone. Everyone keeps secrets and practices secrecy at some level, and those who would deny their own personal secrecy couldn't withstand much questioning concerning intimate aspects of their lives without, as David Flaherty says, "capitulating to the intrusiveness of certain subject matters."

Anti-Masons claim that because Kennedy gave this speech that Freemasons, at least the "high level" Masons, had him killed. Many will make it sound like Kennedy's assassination happened shortly after giving the speech, but in reality, Kennedy was assassinated over two and a half years after giving the "President and the Press" speech. Ironically, if we use the same standards of what constitutes a "secret society" according to conspiracy theorists, JFK belonged to one. JFK was a member of the Knights of Columbus. Most anti-Masons that I've talked to ignore that fact about JFK or excuse it as being acceptable since it's attached to the Catholic Church.

The truth of the matter is that JFK didn't think Freemasonry was some sinister cabal scheming against the United States. Anti-Masons commonly take quotes out of context in the hopes that the unknowing and unwary will be swayed by the strange-sounding titles and the intermingling of casually related phrases. Contrary to what anti-Masons and conspiracy theorists will say, JFK was not discussing private fraternal groups (or "secret societies"), but was merely addressing a current issue.


1. Anti-Masonic Tactics. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Info: 

2. Kennedy, J. F. (1961, April 27). President and the Press. Retrieved from Miller Center:

Friday, November 11, 2016

Happy Veteran's Day

Happy Veterans Day to all who have served and to those still serving.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day!

Throughout the United States of America, citizens are gathering together and casting their ballots on candidates for public office at all levels of government! 

While many Americans are pessimistic about voting in Presidential elections, this election is more than just the Presidency! On this ballot Americans will be voting for all matter of measures and candidates, including local and municipal elections which have the biggest impact on a citizen's daily life and a single vote could be the deciding vote on an important measure or in electing a particular candidate.

Voting is not only a right guaranteed to the citizenry of the United States, but it is also our civic duty and vital to the continuation of our Republic. As Masons, we are charged to be "exemplary in the discharge of your civil duties" and this is one of those duties Brothers. Regardless of your political beliefs and/or your party affiliation, get out and vote today!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

My New-Cut Ashlar

By Rudyard Kipling

My New-Cut ashlar takes the light 
Where crimsonblank the windows flare. 
By my own work before the night, 
Great Overseer, I make my prayer. 

If there be good in that I wrought 
Thy Hand compelled it, Master, Thine 
Where I have failed to meet Thy Thought 
I know, through Thee, the blame was mine.

The depth and dream of my desire, 
The bitter paths wherein I stray 
Thou knowest Who hast made the Fire, 
Thou knowest Who hast made the Clay.

Who, lest all thought of Eden fade, 
Bring'st Eden to the craftsman's brain 
Godlike to muse o'er his own Trade 
And manlike stand with God again!

One stone the more swings into place 
In that dread Temple of Thy worth. 
It is enough that, through Thy Grace, 
I saw nought common on Thy Earth. 

Take not that vision from my ken 
Oh whatsoe'er may spoil or speed. 
Help me to need no aid from men 
That I may help such men as need

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween, All Hallow's Eve, and Samhain to all my Brethren wheresoever dispersed

Friday, October 28, 2016

A Decade in Kappa Sigma

It was on this day in 2006 that I was initiated into the Kappa Sigma fraternity. I had joined Freemasonry during the Summer of 2006 and some of the Brethren in my Lodge were alumni of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. They knew that I was going to be starting college in the Fall and encouraged me to join Kappa Sigma. My class started out large, but dwindled down to just 10: Steve, Rudy, Paul, Marcus, Michael, Abe, Ed, Bruno, John, and myself. The Fall Semester of 2006 was filled with some great adventures and these guys are closer than Brothers and will be for all our lives.

I've had quite the journey living in the Chapter House and serving the Chapter as House Manager, Grand Treasurer, and Grand Procurator. Now I am happy to support the newly reformed Kappa Rho Chapter as an Alumnus.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Daughters of the Nile

One of the women's auxiliary groups tied to the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (often referred to as Shriners International) is the Daughters of the Nile; the other is the Ladies Oriental Shrine of North America. The Daughters of the Nile is a fraternal organization found throughout the United States of America and Canada.

The Daughters of the Nile is open to women who are 18-years of age or older, and who are related by birth or marriage to a Shriner, Master Mason, or Daughter of the Nile, is a majority member of a Masonic youth group for girls such as the Rainbow Girls or Job's Daughters, or who was a patient at a Shriners Hospital for Children®. 

The Daughters of the Nile was founded in 1913 in Seattle, WA. In late 1905, the Afifi Shrine (Tacoma, WA) formed a women's auxiliary called the Daughters of Isis, but this group only lasted until 1908 when it was disbanded by decree of the Imperial Potentate. In the same year the Daughters of Isis was founded, Shriners in Seattle formed Nile Temple. Many Shriners of Nile Temple had belonged to Afifi Shrine and their wives formed the Isis Club, but had disbanded in December of 1912. Under the direction of Mabel R. Krows, 12 ladies (all wives of Shriners) came together on February 20, 1913, to discuss forming a club similar to Zuhrah's Ladies in Minnesota. They formed the "Ladies of the Nile" with Mabel R. Krows elected as their President. As no record of the ritual of the Daughters of Isis had been kept the Ladies of the Nile sought out Charles F. Whaley to write them a new ritual which was completed by August of 1913. This club continued to meet over the next several months approving the rituals written for them, the Constitution and By-Laws, paraphernalia, and all pertinent matters. Starting on September 18, 1913, Mabel R. Krows started giving the obligation to the members. 

On October 16, 1913, they changed their name officially to Daughters of the Nile as Noble Whaley referred to the ladies as "My Daughters" and "Nile" as this new order pertained to Egypt. The order started to spread and each Temple has a name and a number according to when they were constituted. The first Temple is Hatasu Temple #1 in Seattle, WA; Hatasu was the first known Egyptian Queen in ancient Egyptian history. It became apparent that a governing body was needed and it was decided that the members of the original Ladies of the Nile were to become Founders of Daughters of the Nile, forming the Supreme Temple of the Daughters of the Nile. They decided to allow all Queens, Past Queens, and Princess Royals as members of the Supreme Temple. On November 21, 1913, they elected Levelia K. West as the first Supreme Queen and the rest of the Supreme officers. Today the order has spread and there are roughly 30,000 members in 144 cities.

The philanthropy of this group is the same as Shriners International, the Shriners Hospitals for Children® through the use of two permanent endowment funds: The Daughters of the Nile Foundation and the Canadian Trust, to which the Daughters of the Nile contributes over $2-million a year. In addition, they also sew clothing and quilts as well as provide toys, books, games and other educational/recreational items for the children’s use.

The Daughters meet in Temples and fall under the governance of a Supreme Temple. The Temple is composed of the following officers:
Princess Royal
Princess Tirzah
Princess Badoura
Princess Recorder
Princess Banker 
Princess Marshall
Princess Chaplain
Lady of the Keys
Lady of the Gates
Princess Nydia
Princess Zulieka
Princess Zenobia
Princess Zora
Princess Zuliema
Princess Musician
The Supreme Temple is composed of the same officers with the honorary title of "Supreme" attached to the officer title. The Daughters of the Nile are known for wearing a distinctive tiara for special events and ceremonies. To find a Temple near you please visit the Supreme Temple website:


1. About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved from Nydia Temple No.14:

2. Daughters of the Nile. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Dictionary:

3. Daughters of the Nile. (n.d.). Retrieved from Amara Shriners:

4. Daughters of the Nile. (n.d.). Retrieved from Arlington Lodge No.438:

5. Daughters of the Nile. (n.d.). Retrieved from Freemason Information:

6. Daughters of the Nile. (n.d.). Retrieved from Sphinx Shriners:

7. Krows, M. R. (1951). My Memoirs of Daughters of the Nile.

8. Ladies Organization. (n.d.). Retrieved from Shriners International:

9. Lotus Temple No.7. (n.d.). Retrieved from Duluth Masonic Center:

10. Shriners. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: 

11. Who are the Daughters of the Nile. (n.d.). Retrieved from Supreme Temple of the Daughters of the Nile: