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If you belong to one of the more traditional Masonic lodges, you probably wear a tuxedo to meetings, if not the more formal white tie and tails. Among the reasons that many American Freemasons wear evening dress to lodge is that it places everyone “on the level.” The uniformity of dress afforded by this custom encourages everyone to identify the internal characteristics of the other members, rather than merely the external. When everyone dresses the same, no one can show off their expensive cowboy boots, or sterling silver Ranger belt buckle.

 

However, there is often a tendency, on the part of some, to try and destroy the uniformity by customizing their tuxedo. One of the more tasteless embellishments is the practice of wearing shirt studs that consist of the insignia or one organization or another. A row of Square and Compass studs, or Scottish Rite studs, only advertise one’s cluelessness about gentlemen’s evening wear.

 

Nothing says “rented tux” more than shirt studs. However, if you have pearl buttons on your shirt, it implies that you own your own shirt. The one man who looks better in a tuxedo than anyone else is Sean Connery. Watch the old James Bond movies, and you will find that he typically has white pearl buttons, and not shirt studs, on his tuxedo shirts.

 

One of the more common variations seen is the ill-advised choice of a wing collar, instead of the standard collar that should normally accompany a tuxedo. For those that are unaware of the history of men’s eveningwear, the wing collar is properly worn with the formal white tie and tails.

 

The tuxedo, invented in the late 1880s, became more popular in the early twentieth century. In the 1920s, the Prince of Wales invented the soft, pleated-front shirt that we now know as the tuxedo shirt. It has the standard collar, just like the shirt you wear to the office every day. If you have a shirt with a wing collar, save it for wear with a white tie and tails.

 

(Also, see Miss Manners at missmanners.com. Her most recent column addressed this very same issue.)

 

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      This is an update on the Masonic situation in France. The following information was gleaned from the 2013 Annual Report of the Fraternal Relations Committee of the Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F. & A.M. The committee’s report, for the first time in well over twenty years, was not permitted to be delivered on the floor on the final day of the session, 7 December 2013. As a result, the approval of the report was voted without the members present knowing what was in it. Therefore, for the enlightenment of the Craft, the following report is provided here.

Since 2009, allegations of malfeasance and un-Masonic conduct have been leveled against Grand Master Francois Stifani of the Grande Loge Nationale Francaise (French National Grand Lodge, or G.L.N.F.). The ongoing allegations and conflict resulted in reports of suspensions and withdrawals of large numbers of members of G.L.N.F. lodges, and the removal of lodge charters without hearings and due process. The dispute carried into the civil courts, and was reported in French newspapers.

By early 2012, as many as twenty-eight grand lodges, including six in the U.S. and Canada, either withdrew recognition of, or suspended fraternal relations with, the G.L.N.F. In April 2012, disaffected members of the G.L.N.F. formed a new grand lodge under the name of the Grande Loge de l’Alliance Maconnique Francaise, (Grand Lodge of the French Masonic Alliance, or GL-AMF).

In June 2012, and then again in September 2012, two more new grand lodges were created in France, the Grande Loge Traditionelle de France (Traditional Grand Lodge of France, or GLTdF), and the Independent Grande Loge de France (Independent Grand Lodge of France, or IGLdF).

However, in September 2012, the G.L.N.F. elected a new grand master, Jean-Pierre Servel. And, in April 2013, Grand Master Servel removed Past Grand Master Stifani from Masonic membership.

In June 2013, four French grand lodges, not including the Grande Loge Nationale Francaise (GLNF), signed a treaty titled “The Masonic Confederation of France.” The four grand lodges that were signatories to this treaty include the three new grand lodges mentioned above (GL-AMF, GLTdF and IGLdF), as well as the old irregular and unrecognized Grande Loge de France (GLdF).

In the eyes of many, the inclusion of the GLdF in the treaty was a critical mistake on the part of the other three grand lodges. Several years ago, the GLdF solidified its status as an irregular grand lodge by creating lodges in England.

In September 2013, the Grande Loge Nationale Francaise published a letter, dated 17 September 2013, that included twenty-one pages of appendices detailing the causes of the recent crisis in the GLNF, the regularity of the GLNF, the state of Freemasonry in France today, and the organization of new grand lodges in France by its disaffected members, and a summary of the reform of the constitution and statutes of the GLNF. The new statutes will be submitted to the delegates of lodges at the next general assembly, planned for April 2014, for their approval.

Hopefully, this new constitution and the accompanying statutes will put safeguards, checks and balances in place that will prevent a repeat of the troubles experienced in the GLNF over the past few years.  –PN

Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae

The frontispiece to the second edition of

Athanasius Kircher’s Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae (1671)

seemed the appropriate illustration for a new beginning of

American Masonic Review.

The illustration depicts four sources of knowledge:

Sacred Authority, Reason, the Senses and Worldly Authority.