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Masonic Service Association of North America

Focus April 2014

MASONIC INFORMATION CENTER

2013 ACTIVITIES

 

The Masonic Information Center, an arm of Masonic Service Association, maintained its ongoing review of Masonic information needs and challenges in 2013.
The MIC continues to keep its Masonic audience aware of valuable existing materials, as it examines new educational opportunities and seeks better ways of distributing information and communicating important facts about Freemasonry.

During 2013, the Center acknowledged its 20th anniversary of service to the Craft.  It was created in 1993, and a number of the individuals on the initial Steering Committee two decades ago continue to assist in the MIC's information efforts. 

The Committee was particularly saddened a few months ago with the untimely death of Richard H. Curtis, an original and very dedicated member of the Steering Committee for all 20 years.  His leadership and professional skills were significant in many of the successes of the MIC. 

Focus On The Internet

The world today, and increasingly the Masonic Fraternity, is utilizing the Internet as a primary method of communicating and spreading information.  Our Fraternity, in general, and the MSA, in particular, has sometimes been slow in grasping this communication opportunity.  While the MSA has had a webpage for a number of years, its potential has never been realized.  In 2013, the Internet was used increasingly as a tool to accomplish MIC's goals.

More often than ever before, new information was added to the MSA webpage – www.msana.com – keeping the page fresh and using it to communicate to the Masonic world, as well as the general public, about our Fraternity.

An Online Store was opened early in the year, where popular MSA and MIC brochures and digests can be purchased with the use of a credit card – the method used by much of society in the retail world.  Internet purchases of MSA materials grew considerably during the year and continue to advance.
Periodically, "sales" and "bargains" are being offered as an incentive to use the Online Store.  We encourage everyone to visit the website regularly, see what "news" is shown, and take advantage of the Online Store.

Also new is the opportunity to make donations on the website to MSA-related charitable efforts.

We must thank the Masonic Eastern Star Home (MESH) Foundation of the District of Columbia Charities, for a grant to assist in the various webpage improvements made this past year.

MSA's outreach on Facebook also made positive strides in 2013.  This is one of the social media sites that is very popular across the nation. More than 1,400 individuals have "liked" the Masonic Service Association on Facebook, and they receive regular messages and alerts about activities and developments of MSA and Freemasonry.  We encourage all Masons on Facebook to "like" the MSA and they too will be part of our improved communication efforts.

Mark Twain Awards

The Mark Twain Masonic Awareness Award program, after seven years of operation, was concluded in 2013.

The decision to conclude the award program was made after discussions over a two-year period during the Conference of Grand Secretaries and a survey of Grand Lodges for their opinions on the program.  Several Grand Lodges have programs that are similar. The concept for Lodges to develop programs to create greater awareness of Freemasonry (1) among their own members, and (2) in their communities, is a valid idea.  Such programs should be continued by all Lodges for the betterment of the Lodges.

MIC Publications

The MIC continues its distribution of thousands of publications each year.  The most recent major brochure, What Has Freemasonry Done for The World, was initially published in mid 2012, but during 2013, a second printing was needed because of its popularity.  A total of 200,000 copies have now come off the press.
Since 1993, the MIC has been educating Masonic members and the public with accurate explanations of Freemasonry.  A recent tally shows that 7 major pamphlets over the years by MIC have been distributed to some 3 million individuals. 

Masonic Outreach

The Masonic Service Association has the great advantage of its name and accessibility and is often sought out by individuals from around the world for information about Freemasonry. The MSA office frequently receives emails and telephone calls from individuals – often from mid East and African nations – who want to join Freemasonry.  When possible, we explain how someone joins the Fraternity and that they must petition a Lodge in their home community.
The access to MSA via the webpage enhances such contact opportunities.  Sometimes the news media calls for information and opinions.  Sometimes, a family member wants information on a deceased grandfather, or a person seeking a petition calls, and in both cases we refer them to a Grand Lodge that can be of assistance.

Attacks on Freemasonry by anti-Masonic organizations or by those with religious issues with the Fraternity do not seem to be as frequent as they were in years past. That is good news but we continue to be vigilant.  The Masonic Information Center continues to offer several of our publications – A Response to Critics, There is No Sin in Symbols, and Facts About Freemasonry – as excellent explanations of why there should be no problems between Masonry and religion.  These brochures are available in quantity from MSA.

Summary

The Masonic Information Center, as it has for 20 years, stands ready to answer the call for new and continuing, factual and credible, easy-to-access information on Freemasonry.

We sincerely thank the Grand Lodges for their support of this effort.

Bible Publishiing Error Causing Problems

 

A Bible publishing error has created some issues among anti-Masons.  Gunnar Carlson, Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of New Mexico, in the Grand Lodge's magazine, has written this explanation:

A Masonic Bible differs from an ordinary Bible only in that it contains special sections. These sections have remained unchanged throughout the years, that I can find, until the 1995 edition published by Heirloom Publishers of Wichita, Kansas, and copyrighted in 1991 by DeVore & Sons.

The Biblical Index in this edition contains a new term not seen in earlier editions. This term is:

NORTH SIDE: In Masonic symbolism the North Side of the Lodge represents God's exalted throne.
Isaiah: 14 12-23 is given as a Biblical authority for this definition.

Lucifer is described in Isaiah as an angel, fallen from Heaven to hell, where he sits in "The sides of the North." Since Masons allegedly put God's exalted throne in the North (according to the 1995 Bible), and Lucifer sits in the North, it is clear to anti-Masons that Masons believe Lucifer is God!

This "error" has become worse since some Masonic Lodges have published the "Index to the Holy Bible concerning the work of Freemasonry," extracted verbatim from the 1995 Bible, on their web sites to include the new term "North Side."

To be correct, this definition should read:

NORTH SIDE: In Masonic symbolism the North Side of the Lodge represents a place of darkness.

This is because King Solomon's temple was so far north of the ecliptic that neither the sun nor moon ever illuminated its North side.  Masons therefore put no candle on the North side of the triangle of candles at our altars since we consider the North side of the Lodge a place of darkness, not the location of God's exalted throne!

Of further interest is the fact that in translations of the Bible newer than the King James version, the word, "Lucifer," is replaced by "The King of Babylon" and Lucifer appears nowhere else in the Bible.

I can find no Masonic ritual, lecture, practice, symbolism, or suggestions that Freemasons consider God's exalted throne to be the North Side of the Lodge.  This error, however, has become a cornerstone of the 30-page anti-Masonic package that has been fastened to Lodge doors in at least three states.
Our Most Worshipful Grand Master Bill Childers, has spoken to the Chief Financial Officer of Heirloom Publishers (a Mason), Brother Mark Brosz, who was unaware of this error and said the error would be corrected in the next printing in 2014.  He will include the above information in their next newsletter that goes out to Lodges across the country.

 

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