Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Todd E. Creason On "The Masonic Microphone"

Here's a new podcast featuring one of my articles produced by the Chaplain of Rockford Lodge No. 102 (IL), WB Darren Marlar.  Well done!  He also used an article written by Midnight Freemason Adam Thayer in one of his earlier installments.

~Todd E. Creason

Saturday, August 20, 2016

It's Elementary, My Dear Watson!

Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson
"There's nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact."

~Sherlock Holmes
The Bascombe Valley Mystery

There's probably no better known fictional character in history than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character Sherlock Holmes.  First appearing in print in 1887, Doyle wrote 56 short stories and four novels featuring the world's favorite consulting detective.  To this day, Sherlock Holmes is instantly recognizable around the world, and continues to come back in again and again in movies, television shows, etc.  We continue to be fascinated by Sherlock Holmes.

I grew up reading the original canon--I still have my well-worn leather volume that featured the original Strand Magazine art by Sidney Paget.  And my personal favorite actor to have played Sherlock Holmes was Jeremy Brett during the series that was shot during the 80s and 90s.  I don't think anybody every played Holmes more true to form than Jeremy Brett.

Of course one of Sherlock Holmes' most famous expressions was, "It's elementary, my dear Watson!"  We all know that one.  It's just not been a Sherlock Holmes story until Dr. Watson is chided for his lack of observation with that famous line.  You'd be shocked to know people have actually gone back through the original stories and novels to find out exactly how many times Sherlock Holmes said that famous phrase.  I think you'll be astonished at the number.

It's zero!

Sherlock Holmes never said that!  Not once!

He said "elementary" a few times when explain how he'd solved some particular problem.  He often said the solution was "simplicity itself" or "absurdly commonplace."  But more often than not, he'd simply point out the solution was there for anyone to see.  "You see, but you do not observe."  But not one time did he ever say, "It's elementary, my dear Watson!"

Author and Freemason Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a Freemason.  He was a member of Phoenix Lodge No. 257, Southsea Hampshire, England.  His famous characters, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, were not Freemasons in the stories however . . . believe me, Freemason fans of the stories have looked really hard into that subject (including me).  However, the stories were not completely devoid of the Craft.  If you keep your eyes open, you may just run across a reference to Freemasonry a time or two in the original canon.

If you aren't familiar with the stories, you should read a few of them.  They're addictive, and they've most certainly withstood the test of time.  The game is afoot!

~Todd E. Creason

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Beginning My Next Chapter . . . With The Grand Royal Arch Chapter Of Illinois

I've got a new job in the Fraternity that I'm pretty pleased about.  I was recently appointed Excellent Grand Orator of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the State of Illinois.  I'm pretty excited about it, because it fits right in with what I've been working on for ten years . . . bringing Masonic education back to the forefront of our Fraternity.  As the Grand Orator I'll be doing some writing (of course), I'll be doing some talking, and I'll be helping put together a program to recruit and train a select team of Royal Arch Masons to become teachers, speakers, and educators that can travel our Chapters here in Illinois.

We've already started down this road with a brand new Chapter I'm involved in--Admiration Chapter.  In fact, some of the things we're doing in that new Chapter is how I got this gig as Grand Orator for the State.  I'm basically taking what we've started doing at the Chapter level to the State level.

Admiration Chapter is still under dispensation, but we're hoping to get our charter in the next few months--we have but one hurdle left.  Admiration started with a very different model in mind.  We do all the same things as a regular chapter of the Royal Arch--we do degree work, and have regular meetings, etc.  But we're an education chapter--that's what we want our primary focus to be.  We keep our business meetings short, and that's been easy to do because we always have something more interesting on our agenda that our members want to get to--a speaker, an education presentation, or a group discussion on a topic we've announced in advance (our first moderated discussion was on the topic of civility).  I've been to a lot of Masonic meetings in my decade as a Mason, but I can tell you, I truly look forward to our Admiration Chapter meetings.  And judging by how fast this Chapter is growing (even without a charter yet), I'm not the only one.  It's working.

And I've taken this enthusiasm back to the Blue Lodge.  I was recently installed as Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL).  I plan on making every meeting an event as well--inviting speakers, having a presentation, or having a group discussion about a topic of interest to Masons.

Admiration Chapter's plans down the road include becoming a resource to the local Blue Lodge--to help provide this kind of educational support.  Perhaps that would be canned presentations the Lodges could do themselves, or perhaps we could send them a speaker that could talk on a particular topic.

That's what our new members want.  They want to take something away.  These millennials are the first generation to come around in a long time that want from Freemasonry the things that Freemasonry originally offered in the beginning--the opportunity for enlightenment, for self-improvement, and for fellowship.  And of course, all those other virtues, characteristics, and tenets that Masons have valued for more than 300 years. 

If we want to grow again as a Fraternity, and there's every indication there's interest from this younger generation, these are the basics we have to get back to. And I'm pretty pleased to be able to play at least a small role in helping to do just that.

~Todd E. Creason

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Masonic Conspiracy? The Truth Behind Rolling Rock Beer And The Freemasons

There has always been speculation that there is some connection between Latrobe's Rolling Rock Beer and the Freemasons--I mean, it's obvious, there's a '33' right on the bottle!  And the 33rd degree is the highest degree that can be attained by Freemasons.  Is it possible the Latrobe's were Freemasons?

It's one of those great beer controversies--where did the '33' come from?  Everyone seems to have a theory, and nobody has the definitive answer. 

And there are many theories:

-One common theory is that it was to celebrate the repeal of prohibition in 1933.  That was an important year for brewers and beer drinkers alike!

-Another legend is that the Rolling Rock brewery was started with money won at the horse track. The winning bet was placed on #33, "Old Latrobe," and that is why there is a horse and the '33' on the bottle.

-Another has it that brewers in those early days belonged to the local union #33.

-Another claims the reservoir the brewery got its water from was fed by 33 streams.

And the theories go on and on and on . . .

Sadly, the most likely version is the least exciting.  It may have simply been a printers mistake in the beginning.  This version of the story comes from a very reliable source--the former CEO of the company.  He was also very interested in where that '33' had come from--his name was James Tito.  What he discovered is actually very simple.

The slogan on the back of the bottle read originally:
"Rolling Rock – From the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe, we tender this premium beer for your enjoyment as a tribute to your good taste. It comes from the mountain springs to you."
That's 33 words.  There were a number of different versions of the slogan in the beginning, but the Latrobe family finally settled on the shortest one--the one that ran only 33 words.  Somebody noted that in the margin, and when it went to the printers, the printers didn't realize that the 33 wasn't part of the text and included it. The mistake wasn't discovered until a large batch of bottles had been produced, and back in those days, the labels were painted right onto the bottles, and those bottles were reused, which explains why the mistake wasn't immediately corrected

And just maybe it wasn't corrected later because of the stir it had created when those bottles reached the public.  Everyone talking about and debating what that '33' meant and speculating about where it had come from.  Perhaps Latrobe saw that controversy as a good thing.  Here it is more than seventy years later, and people are still talking about it.  I guess you'd call that 'beer buzz'.

So that's the big Masonic conspiracy behind Rolling Rock Beer.  It doesn't have anything to do with the Freemasons at all.

Not to propagate a myth, but I can tell you, I do have it on good authority that at least one 33rd Degree Freemason enthusiastically approves of the product--he finds it crisp and refreshing with a easy-to-drink flavor. 

In fact, I think I'll go have one now . . . 

~Todd E. Creason
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