Never in our history has there been a better time to get sick. From heart disease, cancer to AIDS, we are blessed today with an unprecedented number of drugs and techniques to fight disease. Discovery will continue because the tools at hand are more sophisticated than ever before. Just twenty years ago, people laughed at the idea of cataloging the 3 billion DNA base pairs in the human body. Today the human genome project is way ahead of schedule thanks to computers and new technology.
We are also on the threshold of new scientific wonders. the ability to introduce normal genes into the body to replace defective ones has almost limitless applications. The ability to grow tissue to repair damaged hearts, and other organs is mind boggling.
Scientists can now grow heart valves from human cells. The approach, called tissue engineering, is intended to create a fresh source of heart valves to replace those that wear out or are faulty from birth. Using the recipient’s own cells it is hoped that the valve will grow as the patient grows. No longer will we use animal valves or mechanical valves that require blood thinning drugs to prevent clots. Hopefully, tissue engineering will be available for human use within five years.
Recent work at many research centers, the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory (MMRL) included, offer unprecedented opportunities for the development of major advances in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease. Our contributions to medical research over the past 42 years have been very significant ones, providing benefits to peoples of all nations. However, they merely foreshadow what is to come.
The Masonic Medical Research Laboratory’s history dates back to 1947 when the Masonic Grand Lodge of New York created the Masonic Foundation for Medical Research and Human Welfare, a not for profit corporation. Over the next seven years, the Fraternity raised and the Foundation allocated nearly $1.5 million to research programs at various institutions dedicated to the elimination of rheumatic fever. Encouraged by their success in raising funds and in making a significant contribution to the eradication of this dreaded disease, the Fraternity sought a new challenge. In 1954, a decision was made by the Grand Lodge of New York to build and equip a medical laboratory that would carry the mantel of Freemasonry and be supported by the Masonic Fraternity. It was dedicated on the grounds of the Masonic Home in Utica, NY in 1958.
From those humble beginnings, the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory has developed into a world renowned research center, especially in the area of experimental cardiology. The chief sources of extramural support include the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Heart Association (AHA). Findings generated by the research programs at the Laboratory are published in the finest medical peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals worldwide.
The Masonic Fraternity’s commitment in support of medical research has never waivered. In 1994, the Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Florida designated the MMRL as his Grand Master’s Charity. The Laboratory continued to be named the Grand Master’s Charity of choice by every succeeding Grand Master. In 1997, the Grand Lodge of Florida passed historic legislation designating the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory as their permanent ”Flagship Charity.”
The Laboratory has played and continues to play a prominent role in providing valuable insight into many of the medical problems that afflict humankind. The Laboratory’s achievements include research findings that have helped to form the foundation for the modern day practice of cardiology worldwide. Its scientific work in the field of experimental cardiology has received 7 international awards within the last three years, an achievement that is unprecedented for and institute its size.
Our Experimental Cardiologists have the capability of measuring voltage signals and ion currents in single heart cells. The knowledge gained from that single cardiac cell is translated into an understanding of the function of the heart as a whole. The information acquired is then applied to help physicians make better use of diagnostic tools such as the ECG.
Studies are underway to define the cellular basis for the different waves found in the electrocardiogram (ECG). Our Cardiology team recently published a paper dealing with the cellular basis for the J wave that appeared in the journal Circulation. This work has led to the development of a model that may explain why some apparently normal people experience sudden cardiac death.
Two papers dealing with the characteristics of the M cells, discovered at the Laboratory, and cellular basis for the T wave of the ECG in health and disease appeared in the November, 1998 issue of the prestigious scientific journal, Circulation. These articles are perhaps the most important ever published by the MMRL. Both papers were selected as finalists in two separate international research award competitions. Accompanying those papers was an article by Dr. J. Willis Hurst, one of the fathers of modern day electrocardiography. In that article Dr. Hurst said, “The spectacular work of Dr. Charles Antzelevitch, MMRL Executive Director, and his coworkers should be reviewed by every clinician who uses the ECG as a diagnostic tool.” Very high praise indeed from a world authority.
Defining the basic, clinical and genetic aspects of a recently highlighted forms of sudden death known as idiopathic ventricular fibrillation and the Brugada Syndrome are a high priority of the MMRL. Working together with scientists at Baylor College School of Medicine, our scientists recently discovered the first gene defect responsible for the Brugada syndrome. The finding was published in March, 1998 in one of the most widely circulated scientific journals, Nature.
MMRL scientists have recently demonstrated the cellular basis for the effects of the sympathetic nervous system in a hereditary disease of the heart known as the long QT syndrome. The mechanism for this has escaped the grasp of scientists for over 30 years, until now. Our scientists have developed experimental models of several forms of the long QT syndrome and have used these models to assess the protective effect of various drugs. Based on these findings, we have provided alternatives to the current treatment strategies and have shown that use of beta blockers (standard treatment) may be problematic in one genetic form of the disease. Clinical trials are already underway to examine whether these findings apply to humans.
Another major area of concentration are studies designed to probe the basis for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The specific causes of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) have eluded scientists and physicians for many years. Respiratory problems, infectious diseases and cardiovascular defects have long been suspected. Although a congenital defect of the heart known as the long QT syndrome has long been implicated, definitive evidence has been lacking. The first direct evidence linking SIDS to a congenital heart defect associated with a life-threatening abnormal heart rhythm appeared in the July, 2000 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The report is the result of a collaboration between investigators at the University of Pavia in Pavia, Italy and the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory.
Our molecular biologists are also working at the Laboratory to probe the basis of electrical heterogeneity or differences within the heart (work pioneered at the MMRL) at the genetic level. We have recently demonstrated heterogeneity exists in the genetic material of cells in different parts of the heart, indicating that the electrical differences that our Laboratory has described over the past decade are controlled at the level of the genetic code. This information will hopefully permit the design of better and more rational treatments and cures to a variety of cardiac diseases.
These are indeed exciting times for science and medicine. The Masonic Medical Research Laboratory has come far thanks to the support of Masons everywhere, especially in New York and Florida. Our achievements and accomplishments are a direct result of the wonderful support that we have been privileged to receive, especially in the form of wills and bequests from friends throughout the world.
Millions of Americans and citizens of other countries have benefited from the research conducted at the MMRL and at similar research facilities worldwide. The need to intensify support of medical research is undeniable if we acknowledge a responsibility to leave, as a legacy to our children and grandchildren the prospect for a healthier life, one free of pain and suffering that many of us have endured. It is our hope that dissemination of the Laboratory’s achievements will help foster pride in our great Fraternity and makes the light of Masonry shine brighter than ever before.
Author: Ronald P. Kamp
It happens several times each year. Someone calls the Masonic Service association with what they consider an insurmountable challenge. It usually goes something like this:
"Help! I don't know why, but the Master has appointed me to chair the Lodge History Committee. How the heck do I go about writing a lodge history?"
Then it is "twenty-question" time. How old is the lodge? When was the last time a history of the lodge was published? What do you know about the charter members? Why was the lodge formed? What were the principal occupations of the founding members? What were the economic conditions in the Community when the lodge was organized? What impact was made on the community by the formation of the lodge? Who were the "prime movers?" Where did they first meet? When, where and why did they move? What were the high points and low points of lodge finances? What were the charitable projects the lodge was engaged in?
The questions could go on and on, but usually the call is on "his nickel", so we feel as though we've given him a basis to start his research. Next, he will have to organize the material into logical segments.
Selecting those segments, of course, will depend upon the age of the lodge. Older lodges can usually be divided into fifty or twenty-five year segments. Younger lodges will probably wish to use ten year segments or possibly yearly. This naturally will be dictated by the interests of the author(s). One notable exception that comes to mind is a history of an old lodge in Pennsylvania. The author used varying lengths of time for each segment, but identified the major inventions which were patented in those years. It was fascinating and an interesting point of reference. A lodge in South Carolina prepared a history which was tied to the growth of the county, emphasizing the contributions made by the lodge members in the development of the county government and economic growth. Other lodge histories have been tied to the expansions of the railroads, the oil fields, industry and other social factors affecting the lodge.
A number of years ago, Brothers B. F. Mandelbaum and L. E. Vanatta presented a paper at the Oklahoma Lodge of Research en titled, "Preparation of a Lodge History." Following is a summary of that paper:
Masonic Research divides itself into numerous lines: history, philosophy, symbolism and other aspects of the Craft, as well as the practical application of the teachings of our Fraternity.
Of these, history is one of the most important aspects; to give knowledge of what has gone on before, to account for the spread of the Craft, and to know the contributions we have made to our cities, states and country. We are concerned with the aspect of history and primarily the history of Masonry, mainly Craft Lodge History.
We propose to outline what should be looked for in preparing a Lodge history. Perhaps with this outline, more Lodges could find a member who would be interested in compiling a history or information for a history.
The most fundamental, and first start on compilation of a history is to go through the minutes of the Lodge, write a brief or long page for each year and in this manner cover the month to month business and activities of the Lodge. But even in this sort of compilation, we need to know and plan what to look for.
Let us, therefore, itemize, with some discussion the several aspects that make up the Lodge history.
1. PICTURES: Strangely enough, it is possible to find old ones if time is taken to look. They may be in old newspaper files in photographers' studios. If possible, pictures of the first temple building (even if rented) and subsequent temples would be of interest; as will a few of the more prominent members especially Grand Lodge Officers. Although not a picture, if an imprint of the Lodge Seal is available it should be included especially when the Lodge was chartered under another jurisdiction.
2. DATES: When the Lodge was issued a dispensation, how was it obtained and when was it chartered? The dates of its first meeting Under Dispensation and after Charter and other firsts. When the Lodge moved to other temples, or built their own should be of importance, as well as when the first degrees were conferred.
3. PEOPLE: At the start, Masons who were the charter members: Who were they? Where did they come from? Who among them were most active? Some of the more prominent members should be noted for their civic or business activity as well as Masonic offices. While we are writing a history of a Lodge it is made up of people and therefore we will find names all through the history. Probably a list of Worshipful Masters and Secretaries should be included, and any long time officers such as a Tyler, who served many years.
4. FINANCIAL: What were the first dues? What changes were made over the years? How was the temple financed and if on borrowed money, when and how was it paid off? Were there any gifts or bequests to the Lodge and for what were they used?
5. CHARITY: We are a fraternal organization and any assistance to our members should not be openly published, except as perhaps an amount used for such purpose each year. Many Lodges, however, contribute much to our Grand Lodge Homes, to civic uses, hospitals, and other charities.
6. SPECIAL MEETINGS: Some Lodges have annual picnics, social functions, special events, SO year presentations and other activities.
7. OTHER MASONIC BODIES: We are seeking further Masonic education and affiliate with other bodies, the York and Scottish Rite and others. We also sponsor and assist DeMolay, Rainbow and Job's Daughters. Such activity, where it affects the Lodge or Lodge members is a part of our history.
8. OLD-TIMERS: The best source of events and happenings in the Lodge is the older members who might remember items of interest, or may be able to elaborate on the items in the Lodge minutes that are briefed by the Secretary. Because these are memory items, they should be checked in some manner with other members or other sources for exactness. The use of a tape recorder to interview old-timers is useful, just get ting them to reminisce about events in the Lodge while the recorder is on, and some questions are asked.
These are merely eight items, and there are others not listed, which might help a member in preparing a history of his Lodge. While some would not consider writing a history, perhaps they could, using an outline, prepare sufficient information from the Lodge records for another Brother to compile the information into a history.
Such are the challenges which we face in pre paring a lodge history. Just as the "proof of the pudding is in the eating", when writing we must never lose sight of the reader. "The proof of the writing is in the reading." Lodge histories, to be effective must bring the events into focus so that those who read it will be interested, inspired and informed.
A lodge history should give a logical, factual and interesting story of the formation, events and individuals which resulted in the lodge being what it is. There is usually a good story as to how and why the name of the lodge was selected, and every member deserves to know. It costs money to publish a lodge history. The funds available will usually determine how extensive a volume will be published, and how many copies will be available. We think a quality lodge deserves a quality history. Just as in every other worthwhile endeavor, we need to "place our designs on the trestleboard." We need to plan. It is a good idea to set aside a set amount each year for several years in an interest-bearing "History Fund." In this way you can insure sufficient funds for a quality history. Many lodges supplement that fund by having annual fund raising dinners, picnics and family outings.
A lodge history is a challenge. More important, to meet that challenge, a great many members will become involved in its research, planning, preparation, proofreading, printing and publication. The more involvement in the project the more interest and support will be given to it.
The same is true when it comes time to update a lodge history. It's a constant challenge to record the good years and the bad and to evaluate the accomplishments of the lodge.
Does your lodge have a printed history?
Short Talk Bulletin
The office of Chaplain was instituted in the early years of English Speculative Masonry. The English term "Chaplain" refers to a priest, minister or other clergy officiating in a private chapel. It is this office which is charged with the offering of holy prayer. It was adopted when men of great intellectual curiosity--authors, musical composers, architects, philosophers, churchmen, men of the aristocracy, from both royalty and the nobility--were streaming into the vast pool of enlightened men who had been attracted to this peculiar and unique organization which they learned had been founded on the purest principles of piety and virtue. In Masonry were men, congregated together, who were devoted to the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God, and engaged in the search for truth, the relief of the indigent, and the protection of virtue.
Masonry is not a religion. Masonry is not a religious order or religious organization of any kind. Masonry is not meant to replace religion in a man's life. Be that as it may, however, prayer is an essential part of the form, substance and content of Masonic assemblies and meetings. Men in the Masonic Order denied the right of dictation by any church and were conscious of the tendency to persecution by governments under whose protection they resided. In this vein, they initiated the prohibition of religion and politics as discussion topics within the Lodge. This prohibition is jealously guarded to this day. Masonry, nevertheless, is so far interwoven with religion as to lay men under obligation to pay that rational homage to the deity which at once constitutes their duty and their happiness. It leads the contemplative to view with reverence and admiration the glorious works of creation and impresses them with the most exalted ideas of the perfection of the Creator.
Charles Darwin opened a new window on scientific and theological study with the publication in 1859 of his contribution to modem science entitled On the Origin of Species, followed in 1871 by his bookDescent of Man. This window looked out on a harvest of concepts and principles un-imagined in the intellectual life of man. Where God's laws were interpreted to mean that all living organisms were created to adapt with each other and fit perfectly into their own environment, Darwin removed God and his natural laws and in their stead he placed the principles of common ancestry of humans and apes and his explanatory theory of natural selection. This almost unbelievable concept burst upon the quiet lives of the Western world's scientific community like an exploding asteroid of gargantuan proportions and set off a firestorm of frenzied activity in every study and laboratory in Europe and America, resulting in an unprecedented revolution in philosophy. But God, having been rejected by science for almost 150 years, has now been reintroduced in a new dimension by one of the greatest living scientists of our time, Stephen Hocking.
We recall that Freemasonry formally organized in 1717 in England, less than 300 years ago. It is still being defined and publicized as the most widely distributed secret society in the world, having an active membership of over three million men attached to thousands of lodges spread over every habitable portion of the globe--until quite recently when other diversions laid claim to men's leisure hours.
There are various theories of the origins of Freemasonry and where this great fraternal organization may have had its roots. But we cannot sell short the fact that the English associations of operative builders of the Middle Ages, with their traditions and peculiar customs, the possession of a grip and a password and other characteristics, marked the evolution from the operative science into the speculative Craft that we know today. The fables which carry the fraternity back to the building of King Solomon's temple, to the era of Isis and Osiris in Egypt, and to other momentous incidents in history, all impart lessons that support and form the core of the ritual, charges, lectures and being of the Order.
German, French, Scandinavian and other continental intellectual movements migrated around Europe and contributed their influence to Masonry. The Roman colleges of artificers and the great architects and engineers of the Roman armies of occupation left an impress that can still be detected in the Work.
The influx of new membership----anti-quarians, historians, mystics and intellectuals of every stripe who were attracted to the fraternity at the time of the Enlightenment-----brought with them and contributed to the lodges their own special gifts in interpreting holy writ, the classics and the emerging sciences. We have a classic example in the Book of Joshua 10:12 where Joshua prayed that the Lord would stop the sun. One result of this story was the rounding out of the Masonic symbolic degree ceremonials to substantially the forms in use today, particularly in the signs practiced in the Fellowcraft Degree. Traces of symbolism from Operative Masonry are preserved by the Craft and superimposed on the work of the Masonic ritualists. Also discernible are the great contributions made by the Rosicrucians, Kabbalists, Gnostics and Pythagoreans, as well as the great debt owed by Masonry to ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Oriental philosophies.
It was the wide extension of British commerce throughout the world that brought the Craft into vogue through the activity of the army and the navy, who were the prime medium of carrying the fraternity into the furthermost British colonies, into various recesses of Europe and across the oceans to North America. In Canada, particularly in Quebec, working lodges in Wolfe's army were of Scottish, English, and Irish Constitutions. The Lodge of Antiquity, Number 1 on the registry of the Grand Lodge of Quebec, owes its original charter to the latter of the above Grand Lodges.
From these early beginnings we now define the Chaplain's role in Masonry, which is to interpret the spirituality of the ritual to the Master of the Lodge and through him to all Lodge members. He is to assist in elevating the moral, ethical, and intellectual level of the members of this community, and in going beyond his constituency, to all ranks in society. In this office it is essential that he be conversant with the history, aims, purposes and fundamentals of the Order in general and with his Lodge in particular, paying special attention to the membership as individuals with their own particular needs and problems. His prayers unite the Brethren in a mystical bond of fellowship whose faculties are, at this time, directed toward God, the Supreme Being, to whom all must submit, and whom we ought most humbly to adore.
The only time a candidates' particular religion is of importance to the Order is when he takes his obligation on the sacred book of his own religion, the better to deem it solemn and binding. His religion is otherwise of no concern to anyone. But it is the concern of the Office of Chaplain to see that the Holy Bible is in its place on the altar when the lodge is opened--for the Bible, and the Square and Compasses, represent the Three Great Lights by which a Mason must walk and work.
The Chaplain is aware that a good man will find there is goodness in the world; an honest man will find there is honesty in the world; and a man of principle will find principle and integrity in the spirit and hearts of others. The role of the Chaplain is to promote thorough, faithful, and honest endeavor to improve. In so doing, he makes his greatest contribution to the Lodge. For we believe that there is a God; that he is our Father; that he has a paternal interest in our welfare and improvement; that he has given us powers by means of which we may escape from sin and all its temptations; and that he destined us to a life of endless progress toward perfection and a knowledge of himself.
If we believe this, as every Chaplain should, and if we impart and transmit this to the Brethren, we live calmly, endure patiently, and labour steadfastly as conquerors in the great struggle of life.
Author: Bro. Rev. Lee S. Donohue
Grand Chaplain Grand Lodge of Quebec
A blog dedicated