Internet Lodge No 9659

W.Bro James W Hogg

16th March 2013

Brother Wardens and Brethren All

jwh1It is a privilege for me to be standing here before you as the new Worshipful Master of this very different and unique lodge. I am honored and delighted to be the third American to be elected and installed in this chair. For that, I must give a very big thank you to the Brethren for granting me this honor, as well as to all the Brethren who have taken part in this nicely done Installation ceremony.

Internet Lodge 9659 is probably one of the most unusual and forward thinking lodges that I have encountered in the Masonic world. It is also a uniquely international lodge in character. We have over 300 members, which makes us an unusually large lodge in England. But, I hastily add that we have members from every continent on the globe – except Antarctica. However, many of the permanent residents down there, who are not eligible for membership, could be construed as being properly dressed for the occasion!

One question I am always asked is; “Do you hold your lodge meetings over the internet?” For all of you present in this lodge room, you all know that the obvious answer is; “no, we don’t.” I tell those inquiring that we are a duly constituted regular lodge warranted by the United Grand Lodge of England and we hold three regular meetings a year in a Masonic lodge room just like any other regular lodge in the Masonic world. We call ourselves Internet Lodge because we use the internet and other computer technology extensively to enhance communications with our membership. We also maintain a wealth of information on our private members only website, which includes a library of Masonic research and other papers. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the hard work that our lodge internet technology team expends to make all of this possible for us.

This brings me to some reflections on the heart of Freemasonry. In England, as well as in many other Constitutions, we are very much concerned with Masonic protocol. Tradition is very much an important aspect of Freemasonry. We deal precisely with opening and closing a lodge, exacting standards in the delivery of ritual, introductions of distinguished Masons, a precise order of business, and a specific manner of attire. Also, many have become consumed with advancing through the chairs and/or desiring promotion to various Masonic ranks. However, I hasten to add that this is common internationally in Freemasonry and not restricted to only certain Constitutions. Unfortunately, this all has become the overarching “raison d’etre” of many within our Craft. I humbly submit to you all that this is not what Freemasonry truly represents in its entirety.

Having said all of that, what IS Freemasonry? To partially answer that question, I draw from what Worshipful Brother James Tresner, II, of Guthrie, Oklahoma, has said on this subject in the past. In essence, the journey in the craft lodge is the cycle of life. That’s why the circumambulations – once for the EA, two for the FC, three for the MM; and it follows the path of the sun. The journey of life is a circular movement. The battle of humanity can be seen as a battle between line and circle. And that line, or linear thinking, sees a steady progress. Nature is cycle – it is not a straight line. Seasons come and go. Death is followed by rebirth, which is followed by death. And this understanding is one that you are supposed to pick up on this journey - that you are not a separate thing from the universe. It is not a matter of: you are here and the universe is there. You’re part of it. You are a part of the expression of energy of the universe.   And as far as Masonry is concerned, all is connected, all is one. Everything you deal with in all branches of Masonry, almost without exception, centers on the concept of transformation or transfiguration or the change from one state of being to another. Almost without exception the symbols will take in some aspect of that meaning. Jim Tresner also tells us that as we improve ourselves in Masonry, we are travelling down that path of self-discovery where we ultimately discover our own spirituality and become at one with our God.

Freemasonry actually takes place in YOUR mind and spirit – all of it. The temple and the lodge room always represent you. The Worshipful Master represents you in control of yourself. The other officers of the lodge are various aspects of your personality as they interact with each other to make things happen. You are the whole center of everything that happens in the fraternity. It IS quite literally all about YOU. How you react to the world, how you see yourself in life, and how you treat others around you in your personal relationships are all important. Freemasonry teaches you to be considerate of others, treat others how you would like for them to treat you, and to become a better person in all respects – especially in a spiritual sense toward yourself and your God. Look to the perfect ashlar and the Star of David, as these are probably two of the most important symbols you will find within the Craft. If you research and study them carefully, you will see what I mean.

But, let us return to the new lodge year. We have tried to put together an interesting year for your enjoyment. In May, we have organized for you a trip to Romania. The schedule of activities for this trip is truly extraordinary and I thank our most esteemed Romanian Brothers for all their hard work in setting this up for the lodge. My hat is off to you all for a job well done. For the two meetings of the lodge that we hold outside of Manchester, I tried to take the lodge to places we have not yet visited. In August, we will journey to Bangor, North Wales, where our most capable host, WBro Dave Siviter, has set up a wonderful experience using his home lodge’s brand new lodge building. We will have a ladies festival at Bangor and Dave will be presenting a short talk on Masonic figurines. In October, we will be visiting Essex. WBro Mike Neller has set up an interesting venue for you all with our meeting at the Manningtree Masonic Centre. And, to make things more interesting, WBro Richard Gan will be our speaker at Manningtree. His topic will be the 'Union of 1813 between the Antients and the Moderns,' which celebrates its bicentenary in December of this year. Many of you will recognize Richard as the immediate Past Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, located in London. However, we will start off tonight, by popular demand, with a repeat of last year’s theatre trip. For that, I thank WBro David Starbuck for organizing this for us again this year.

In conclusion, I hope that you enjoy what we have in store for you this year. We tried to set this all up for the enjoyment of our members. In Freemasonry, it is all about you. Internet Lodge is also all about you. Without you we would not have this wonderful lodge to share and enjoy with one another. It is my hope that my meager contributions to this great lodge this year will be enjoyed by all and enhance this lodge’s value to our membership.

James W Hogg
Worshipful Master
Internet Lodge No. 9659