Your Lodge dues are not a movie ticket.

 4/30/2022 5:00 AMMasonry

​Going to the movies can be a fun and even magical experience. You buy a ticket, and for around two hours you are entertained, maybe even uplifted. Add in the overpriced food or drink from the concession stand, and that's the extent of your commitment. You paid a little bit of money, and were rewarded with a little bit of entertainment for your afternoon.

But I think too many Brothers treat Masonry like a movie theatre. They think the cost of admission is their annual dues. They paid some money up front for the degrees, some time invested in learning a catechism, if at all, and then write a check once a year for dues. They have met their obligation. Quite a bargain, they think. For the cost of a dinner out a month, they get regular entertainment and enlightenment, or just the privilege of wearing a ring and telling people they are a Freemason, without even the need to go back to Lodge. After all, wearing that suit is such a bother. Why can't we be more casual?

But they would be wrong. The dues are just enough to pay to keep the lights on, to give us a place to meet. That paltry sum in no way pays for the experience you just received, not even close. In order to provide for you a single night's experience, whether it's a degree, a stated meeting, or a dinner, took work and dedication from a dozen or more Brothers. And the only way to pay that back is to put in the work yourself.

Freemasonry is paid for by those who donate their time and talents to make a memorable experience. The Brothers who spend hours learning a ritual part, and even more hours rehearsing together to make that degree come alive. The Brothers who pay the bills, who run the meetings, who sweep and mop and vacuum and wax the floors, who change the lightbulbs, who prepare the meals, who serve the meals, who wash the dishes, who set up and tear down the Lodge after each meeting, who write the speeches, who repair the building when it needs a little TLC. Every evening you experience at your Lodge was only possible because a lot of men worked hard to provide that experience for you.

Ours is a working organization. It is incumbent on you, my Brother, to donate YOUR time and talents to the Lodge, whatever they may be, to ensure the experience for the next new member, and all of the current ones, is just as memorable as your experience was, and maybe even better.

If every single Mason would donate just a little bit of his time, who took his natural born abilities and donated them to his Lodge in sweat equity, if every single one of us would put in the work equally... just think how much we would accomplish!

YouTube Videos

 11/28/2018 12:00 PMIT; Masonry; SharePoint

​Check out my YouTube channel at https://tinyurl.com/CigarDougVideos.

Jurisdiction, Amity, and Visitation

 10/5/2018 1:00 AMMasonry

I just published my first YouTube video in the Your Jurisdiction May Vary series (YJMV). It's called "Jurisdiction, Amity, and Visitation" and explains the process of one Grand Lodge recognizing another.


If you like the video, please click the "Subscribe" button to subscribe to my channel.

Grand Lodges and Supreme Councils catalogued

 9/19/2018 7:00 AMIT; Masonry; SharePoint

​I have listed all Grand Lodges, Virginia Blue Lodges, and Scottish Rite Supreme Councils on one of my web sites: http://www.researchlodge.org/groups. I also used AngularJS to display the data. I am still working on listing the Amity (recognition) between all of them, but it's a good start.

The Biggest Secret in Freemasonry

 2/28/2016 3:05 PMMasonry

I am about to tell you the biggest secret in Freemasonry. I hope it doesn't get me into trouble.

​You know all those men you see in your Lodge and appendant bodies? The ones who have been Worshipful Master, High Priest, or whatever the Presiding Officer is, more than once in the past five or ten years? Who serve on every committee, every degree team? Who hold multiple important positions at the same time, in every body they are active in? They are not doing it for the recognition or because they crave power (well, most of them, I hope). They are doing the jobs that need to be doing, because no one else is stepping up and doing them. They care so much about the organization that they give so much of their time to keep the lights on.

Allow me to tell you something I have learned, in my three decades in Masonry: Every single Masonic body does not have enough active members to do the work that needs to be done. Every one of them: Blue Lodge, Royal Arch, Scottish Rite, Commandery, and the rest. There are always a handful of men who are stretched too thin, and they carry the load for the rest of us. So what does that mean to you? It means you aren't doing enough. That's right. Unless you are one of these men who are juggling multiple responsibilities, then you aren't carrying your weight. You know if you are, you don't need me to tell you if you are.

So, why did you join Masonry? To carry a dues card? To wear a ring? Or did you do it to be part of the oldest fraternity in existence, to improve yourself and help your fellow man and your community? Did you do it to learn? I have learned more about the philosophy of Masonry by memorizing degree work than I ever could just watching it. Do you want there to be a Blue Lodge, a Scottish Rite, a Royal Arch for your sons and grandsons to join? Well there won't be, unless YOU are more involved. There is a job for you, for every single one of you. It doesn't matter if there are a hundred members or a thousand, there are never enough ACTIVE members to keep the organization running, and avoid burning out those dedicated few that are carrying your share of the load. So get involved. Start attending, and start working. Volunteer your time and talents. Not for me, and not even for the organization, but for YOU. You will never be the Mason you thought you could be, by sitting on the sidelines or just staying home and paying your dues once a year. Pick up a chisel, and start building the temple with us. You won't regret it.

Code of Conduct for online Masonic groups

 11/20/2015 8:00 AMFacebook; Masonry

As I participate in many online Masonic groups, whether LinkedIn, Facebook, or elsewhere, it occurs to me that we should have a basic understanding of how to behave. Members need to be aware of what an online group is, and what it is not. These are only suggestions, the owner of the group has the right to set the rules. But it would be helpful to have these rules written down as a reference.

Code of Conduct for online Masonic groups​

  • This is not a Lodge, tiled or otherwise.
  • There is no way to make an Internet discussion group secure, so we are not in any way "tiled".
  • The owners of this group cannot verify that every member is a Mason in good standing.
  • Even if they tried, we all belong to different Grand Lodges. This means most people in this group are clandestine or irregular to you, even if they are also regular Masons.
  • Do not say anything you could only say in a tiled Lodge. Instead, assume you are in the dining hall downstairs and most of the people around you are not Masons.
  • Learn the abbreviation YJMV (Your Jurisdiction May Vary). That means since all Grand Lodges are sovereign, what may be custom or even law in YOUR Grand Lodge may not be custom or law in ANOTHER Grand Lodge.
  • You are allowed to talk to Masons from other jurisdictions even if they are not recognized. Just don't say anything you wouldn't say to a profane (non-Mason).
  • It is not violating your obligation to call a non-recognized Mason "Brother". It is just a courtesy, and makes everyone feel welcome.
  • Be courteous to everyone. If they are a member of an irregular Grand Lodge, you may point that out to them. But they probably don't know, and if the goal is to convince them to join us in regular Masonry, offending them probably won't help.
  • Be courteous to everyone. Even if their jurisdiction does something you think is crazy, remember YJMV. We are not here to judge other jurisdictions, they may have valid reasons. Ask questions, but respect their rules.
  • Be courteous to everyone.​ If a non-Mason is asking questions about how to join, the group may be set up to allow non-Masons to participate. The Internet can be a powerful tool to let people know about our fraternity and encourage them to join. If your group is restricted to Masons only, politely inform them and direct them to another group.
  • Be courteous to everyone. Political and Religious discussions are not allowed in a Lodge, but this is not a Lodge. Unless the owner of the group forbids it, you can discuss politics and religion. But subdue your passions and be courteous.
  • Be courteous to everyone.
If you have additions or suggestions, please email me or comment online. Feel free to share this page with your online group. These rules are specific to Masonic groups, but for the most part could apply to any online group.

Do You Have A Masonic Elevator Speech Ready?

 8/7/2015 4:00 PMMasonry
An elevator speech is one that you can deliver to one or more persons while taking a brief elevator ride.  It may be 30 seconds, or 1 minute long.  It must summarize and provide an important message in a minimum of words.

For example, you step onto the elevator with a business associate, who says, "What is that lapel pin you have on?"  By the time you reach his or her destination on the 3rd Floor, you should be able to say it is a Masonic pin, and state a few positive things about your membership or about the organization. 

How many times has an opportunity similar to that happened to you, but you quickly answered and hoped the other person would change the subject?

How often, when you thought about the opportunity later, did you wish you would have been ready to produce a short, intelligent response?

The time to prepare your "elevator speech" and explain Freemasonry and what it means to you – is now – before that chance arises.

The opportunity may come on the street corner; it may occur as you are departing from church; it could materialize in a fast-food line as you are waiting to order.  

Some Masons believe the lack of having such an "elevator speech," is why membership is not advancing as it should.  Too often, Masons are reluctant to speak up about their Masonic membership.  Too often, they are not prepared to say something positive, and so don't say anything.  Too often, they just feel unqualified to be that needed "public relations" representative for our Fraternity.

In the Indiana Freemason magazine in 2013, George Burkley, a Past Master of Tyrian Lodge #12 in Goshen, IN, presented his views on the need for an "elevator speech."  If someone would say to Brother Burkley, as they were entering an elevator, "I hear you are a Mason.  What's that all about?" here is what he might say:

Freemasonry is the world's oldest and largest fraternal organization for men over the age of 18.  We are dedicated to serving our members and their families through building relationships, social networking, and activities with our members and in the community.

Freemasonry is not a religion but it is an organization where every member must profess a belief in God.

Freemasonry is not a charity but it is an organization that sponsors numerous charities, for example (and here he names charity endeavors that his Lodge, Grand Lodge, or one of his appendant bodies in Freemasonry supports).

And finally, Freemasonry is not a volunteer organization but it is an organization where its members voluntarily bind themselves together to make themselves, and their community, a better place.  Personally, my closest friends outside my family are members of the Masonic Fraternity.

From the June 2014 Focus of the Masonic Service Association​.

Use AmazonSmile, help your favorite charity!

 2/25/2015 8:00 AMMasonry

If you register at https://smile.amazon.com with your Amazon account, Amazon will donate a portion of each purchase to your favorite charity. You then purchase from Amazon as you normally would. There is no additional cost to you. There are many charities available, including the Masonic Home of Virginia, Alzheimers, Scottish Rite House of the Temple and the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. This is not an endorsement of Amazon or any specific charity, but if you are shopping on Amazon anyway, please use this free service and support your favorite charity.

How much, we may ask, is a man really worth?

 1/22/2015 9:00 AMMasonry

He comes into the physical world, travels along the highway of life for a few years, and then lays aside the working tools of life and passes through the transition that--for want of a better term--men call death. And at his passing he takes nothing with him, all his material wealth and possessions are left behind. He takes only himself, and what he has done with his life in the development of character. So it is a fair question to ask, "What is a man really worth?" I think that the answer is that he is worth exactly what he has given away. What he has given away of his time, of his substance, of his effort, of himself. He is worth just that, and nothing more. What we give away we keep--and what we keep we lose. And so it is that the real wealth of any man consists of the countless little acts of kindness in which there is no thought of reward.

M.W. Raymond C. Ellis, PGM of New York

Ocean View - Receiving the DDGM

 1/10/2015 12:00 AMCigars; Masonry

​Had a great evening tonight at Rt. Wor. Ralph Clark's homecoming, enjoyed a very nice cigar: Perdomo Reserve Champagne Sun Grown​ from Emerson's. Gave it five stars.

Updates to Research Lodge No. 1777

 1/4/2015 8:00 AMMasonry; SharePoint

​I have been updating my links on http://www.researchlodge.org. This includes all Grand Lodges in the U.S., all Eastern Star Grand Chapters in the U.S., and all York Rite International and U.S. grand bodies: Grand Chapter of Royal Arch, Grand Council of Cryptic Masons (except Virginia and West Virginia, I don't know why we are different), and Grand Commanderies of Knights Templar.

I had started this project several web site versions ago, but my list of Blue Lodge web sites was so out of date, I didn't even publish it this time. I have just reviewed the Lodges, and chose to just focus on Virginia. I had the crazy idea to go and get EVERY Lodge from EVERY Grand Lodge, but it's too much work to just maintain it year after year. So instead, I am adding a link to the lodge locator page for each Grand Lodge, assuming they have a list of Blue Lodges. If they don't, then why have a Grand Lodge web site in the first place?

It is a lot of fun to see all the different web sites that individual Masons like me sat down and created. The sad thing is to see a well-designed web site that has a list of officers from 2006 or something. It means some hard-charging Senior Deacon put in the time years ago to build it, and never kept it going, or found someone else to maintain it. I think every fraternal organization has a duty to maintain a presence on the web. It not only attracts new members, but it keeps the current ones informed. I am planning to write a paper on Social Media and Lodges, there is a lot of lessons learned that I need to record and organize, to be of help to others. 

Check out the site, it even has a slide show of Grand Lodge web sites.

Charity Navigator

 7/14/2014 7:00 AMMasonry; Politics

Charity Navigator
It is a good idea to know how much of your charitable donations go to those in need. Check out ​http://www.charitynavigator.org/ for an impartial rating of your favorite charity.


Lodge Web Sites now in SP 2010!

 8/13/2011 6:51 PMIT; Masonry; SharePoint
Both of my other web sites, www.oceanview335.com and www.researchlodge.org​, are now in SharePoint 2010! This was a lot of work, as I had to rebuild them from SharePoint 2007 and ASP. This is really exciting for me to work with SP 2010, there is a lot of functionality I need to get familiar with.​​​

Farm Town - The link that may have brought you here

 8/19/2009 3:01 AMFacebook; Masonry
Since my blog is in date order, scroll down if you just arrived. I have been documenting my Farm Town from Facebook - www.facebook.com/christopher.w.douglas. This is a screen shot of the Crown of Thorns that spell out my web address, since there is no easy way from Farm Town to visit a user's home page. I got bored with the regular plow & harvest and tried to express my creative site using the tools at hand to make Masonic emblems in my farm. This will be an ongoing effort.


Farm Town - 3, 5 and 7 steps

 8/19/2009 2:58 AMFacebook; Masonry

Here are fences marking out three, five, and seven steps, of significance to any Mason. I put mostly livestock in the pens, I have not enough yet to sacrifice a hecatomb. I do need to point out the fields planted in the first three steps represent Corn, Wine (Grapes), and Oil (Sunflowers produce Sunflower Oil). Once all three are in bloom I will repost.​

Farm Town - The Plumb

 8/19/2009 2:54 AMFacebook; Masonry

Behold, a Plumb Line, made of Apple, Orange, and Pear Trees, with the scarecrow with a plumbline in his hand. Actually that are path pieces making the line.​

Farm Town - The Level

 8/19/2009 2:53 AMFacebook; Masonry

This is a level from Plum Trees. It needs more work.​

Farm Town - The Square

 8/19/2009 2:52 AMFacebook; Masonry

This view shows the square made of Mango Trees, above the square and compasses (currently plowed and Wheat, Wheat gives the best result, haven't found an ideal crop for the compasses). Daffodils make the G, I probably need to fill those in.​

Farming Masonic Symbols

 8/19/2009 2:41 AMFacebook; Masonry
I have gotten swept up in Facebook the last few months, my page is www.facebook.com/christopher.w.douglas and I am really enjoying the applications there. Carri is hooked as well, we both spend way too much time on Mafia Wars. In Farm Town, I got bored (she made level 34 and bought a mansion... big whoop!) playing the normal way, so I am expressing myself creatively with the tools available. If you play Farm Town, you can see it by visiting Farmer Doug. I will make some more screen caps to explain what I am doing. I did spell out douglasweb.com in Crown of Thorns, so welcome to anyone visiting by reading my flowers! As you can see, there is a square and compasses in the middle of the original farm space, I have a square, plumb, and level surrounding. More details to follow...

Nifty Little Web Sites

 1/23/2009 6:20 PMMasonry

​So, I finally bought a new desktop from Dell, I am on the bleeding edge for a little while once more. In transferring my old files from the laptop, I imported a lot of imbedded favorites for IE (Chris -> Old Bookmarks -> Chris -> Old Bookmarks -> etc.). I was able to delete most of them, found out that Vista does not make deleting bookmarks easy. Anyway, found this link of some VERY small web sites, they are worth a look:

Nifty little We​b sites (link expired)
By Adam Gaffin
Network World Fusion, 05/29/02
We're talking really little here:
WildMag's 256b.htm Compo is a competition to build Web pages or resources in 256 bytes or less.
guimp bills itself as the world's smallest Web site. Guaranteed eyestrain even on a 21-inch monitor, but fully functional games and even a Google searchbox all within a one-inch frame.  (link expired)
OK, TableArt isn't necessarily small, but it is different: An online art exhibit of the fun things you can do with HTML tables. (link expired)



Virginia Research Lodge No. 1777

 9/20/2007 11:08 AMMasonry

​I have been asked to create a web site for a research lodge I belong to, Virginia Research No. 1777. I have had the priviledge of delivering a paper in this lodge, so I stand with (and are dwarved by) a distinguished list of masonic scholars who have done the same (spoken, that is, not created web sites).

Seriously, Virginia Research Lodge has a proud tradition of masonic scholarship and research. One of our more famous brethren was Allen E. Roberts. My goal over the next several months (years) is to bring as many papers as possible to the Internet, so our work can be shared with other Masons around the world. All the masonic related items I have on my site I am migrating over there, so that more people will see them. The web site is:


New Ocean View Lodge web site

 8/23/2007 1:17 PMIT; Masonry
​After many delays, I am proud to announce that Ocean View Lodge #335 has a new web site:
Please visit when you get a chance. This web site will migrate to my new site provider, too; allowing me to use SQL server as a back end (that's a little geek speak for my fellow geeks out there - even those who are 'just' hardware geeks).

Virginia Research Lodge

 6/17/2006 6:39 PMMasonry
​I had a unique opportunity today. I was at Virginia Research Lodge in Richmond and had the priviledge of hearing the Past Grand Master of Prince Hall Masons in Virginia speak. Things have come a long way for Masonry in Virginia, I am glad I was there.

Ocean View Lodge website

 9/6/2005 6:11 AMIT; Masonry
​I have been tasked with the honor of building a web site for my Masonic Lodge, Ocean V​iew Lodge #335. For those who are already familiar with my site, the Freemasonry link (NO LONGER ACTIVE) in the menu bar brings up a slew of ​links about Freemasonry in Virginia. Please take a look at the new site, it does have some nifty effects I am only able to do with ASP.NET. I have built it so we can easily add new information as things change. Too many of the web sites I see for small organizations are rolled by hand, meaning when something changes, a web designer has to go in and rewrite an entire page. This site was designed to allow someone who is NOT a web designer to make changes over the Internet, which is really pretty cool when you think about it.
UPDATE: The site has changed several times since this was posted, you can now see all external sites under "Links" on the menu.​