Installation Inaugural Address to Internet Lodge 9659

18th March 2000 by WBro Chris White, Worshipful Master

Distinguished Guests, Brethren all.

I have the pleasure this afternoon of giving two speeches. Firstly, this inaugural speech, during the meeting and secondly, a speech at the festive board. My intention is to make neither of them more than 10 minutes as I know that the attention span of those of us born in the 20th Century is not that long. It is also my intention to restrict this speech to those matters that concern the lodge as opposed to the members in it. The members come later!

So, Internet Lodge is now into its third year. What an interesting time we have had. I wish to take a little time going through the original aims of the lodge as formulated by our first Past Master Gordon Charlton. I also will highlight my aims this year as the incoming Master of the lodge.

Gordon's first aim, "To foster and encourage a wider and appropriate use of all means of electronic communication within Freemasonry in general."

How have we done? Might I humbly offer, quite well.

Over this last year (March 1st 1999 - February 29th 2000) our Members Mailing list had approximately 2000 messages pass through it. Multiply this by an average membership of 135 during the year, you get 270,000 messages having been distributed around the world. Multiply this by the price of a second class stamp and you arrive at a figure of £67,500 in postage alone... So email has its advantages... or does it?

I am not going to lecture you all on the use of email, we all know of its limitations and pitfalls. I believe that there is a tendency amongst the brethren not to read what they have written and to be two quick to criticize others before they have fully understood all of the arguments. This year we have seen to many instances of people regretting what they have posted to the list. We are all learning, and loss of brotherly love amongst the brethren of the lodge is very difficult to rekindle. Let's ensure that everything we put down on email is as sincere and with the same meaning as if we were talking face to face.

Our web site continues going from strength to strength. Last September we recorded an average of 441 users per day visiting the site. This has been rising consistently month-by-month over the new millennium and in February this year we averaged 578 users per day, a 30% increase. We rank No. 1 voted for site on the web site. Our Guest Book has received comments from all over the world. I have given up counting the number of countries that we have had comments from. One thing that comes to mind is that we don't follow up on the information placed here. I spend some time looking through the hundreds of comments but don't get time to follow them up, any help would be gratefully received. I even had an enquiry this week from a company making documentaries for Channel 4 to interview me. 

As the Internet continues to develop we will be faced with new challenges. First and foremost in my mind, and a major project for this year is to enable Internet Lodge to provide its own Internet Services free of any particular ISP. I have recently retired from my old company, Netforce Group PLC. Who have been providing us with FOC bandwidth and facilities, and am currently embarking on enabling Internet Lodge to stand on its own two feet with regard to Internet Services. This is not a cheap process as many of you who are involved in the service sector of the Internet will be aware. I intend to prepare a project detailing what is required and will then present this to the membership as a whole in order to see how we deal with these costs. Might I add that this is something completely alien to the majority of lodges, we are likely to be the first who have considered this type of thing.

Second of Gordon's Aims. "The Lodge will meet three times a year to receive papers by keynote speakers. These meetings will be held in differing locations so as to allow the members of the Lodge to physically meet to build a spirit of Fraternity."

Brethren, as you are all aware we are met here today for what could be termed the first of these three meetings. Our Installation meeting has to be held in Manchester every year on the 3rd Saturday in March. We have no choice in this! We are, as has been pointed out in many messages on the mailing list, a UGLE lodge under the jurisdiction of East Lancashire Province. We have to abide by the UGLE book of constitutions and we have to pay dues to both of these bodies. Much has been discussed about this topic and I don't see that currently we are able to change this fact of life... 

Not withstanding these comments, Internet Lodge is an International Lodge and we have been investigating ways in which we "might" be able to meet outside of UGLE's jurisdiction. This is not easy and will take much patience and many hours of discussion with the powers that be. Next year I am going to install a WM who lives in Florida, USA. Although Peter Lanes has stated that he will attend all the meetings, we cannot expect him to fly to the UK at the drop of a hat, although I am sure that he finds it the same as some of us commuting to Manchester several times a year. In the year after our WM will be based in the Netherlands, again we have to appreciate and accommodate the International aspect of our unique lodge.

Back to this year. Our Second meeting is going to be in York, a Minster city, on August 12th. (The Glorious 12th as its colloquially known in the UK). At that meeting we will have W. Bro. David Mann lecturing us on CITO lodge and the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists involvement in the current UGLE Lifelites project. David is the past chairman of Logica and currently runs a London based consultancy company. An interesting meeting in store.

For our Third and final meeting of the year, I have chosen to again meet in London. John Belton, last year, held an emergency meeting at which we had a stirring lecture from John Hamill, the UGLE communication Director. This year we meet on Saturday October 14th in the Indian Temple at Great Queen Street, London and will be combining the meeting with a Festival weekend. This will mean that instead of a traditional festive board we will invite the ladies to our Festival Board after the meeting. (They will have been entertained around the sights of London for a couple of hours with my wife. Wallets at the ready Brethren, "Fortnum and Mason" has already been mentioned and open top buses around London along with other Millennium features). At the meeting, at which I hope to attract many members of Grand Lodge and other influential brethren, I intend to enlighten those present to what actually happens on the Internet with regard to Freemasonry. I believe that we are in danger of producing another well kept secret which the rest of our Fraternity doesn't understand. Brethren all, I must commend to you the Indian Temple at Great Queen Street. It is one of the most beautiful temples you will visit and well worth taking the time to make an entry in your diaries for the weekend of October 14th. More details will emerge over this year.

Gordon's third and final aim: "The Lodge while having some aspects of a Research type of Lodge will concern itself not only with historical research but also with matters of Masonic education and sociological trends in society as they affect Freemasonry both today and in the future. Relevant contributions will be sought not only from Masons within United Grand Lodge but from around the world."

This aim has had me thinking... What is it that we are trying to achieve? For my part I am not sure that I am able to offer much in this area apart from the technology that surrounds research on the web. I have done some myself this last couple of months.

As you all may be aware, I am the senior list administrator and owner of the UKMASON-list. A mailing list from which the idea for Internet Lodge had some of its foundation and from which nearly all of our founder members came. 

Since the millennium we have been able to search the messages on the list via a web page set up for this purpose. Currently there are in excess of 70,000 messages in the database and there are not many questions that a new, or long standing, mason cannot get answered by searching through the messages of the list.

This afternoon you have heard, many of you for the first time I suspect, the long version of the investiture of the IPM. (My apologies to those MM present who did not hear it. It is in the back of the emulation book of ritual if you would like to read it later.) Part of this investiture refers to Pythagoras and to his exclamation of the word "Eureka" and to having sacrificed a hecatomb... This set me thinking. I didn't firstly know that Pythagoras was a brother and secondly didn't know what a hecatomb was. Off I went searching the UKMason-list. No joy there, nobody had discussed either. Over to the web and after about 10 minutes I came up with a web page from the "Minnesota Counselors hand book" "Answers to commonly asked questions about Freemasonry" and in the web pages the following:

What is a hecatomb? A hecatomb is 100 head of cattle. Pythagoras is stated (Masonic ritual) to have "sacrificed a hecatomb" upon "discovering" the forty-seventh problem of Euclid. 

The ritual is here not factual. Pythagoras was poor and could hardly have possessed a hundred head of cattle. He was a vegetarian and reverenced animal life; he would not have killed one cow, let alone a hundred, to "celebrate" his discovery. He may have cried "Eureka," but could hardly have been "raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason" which did not take even an ancient and simple form until centuries after he died. 

["Eureka" is better known as the exclamation of Archimedes upon discovering the principle of displacement of liquids; it may simply be an error on the part of whoever wrote the ritual to associate this word with Pythagoras.] 

Brethren, I have overdone my 10 minutes... I hope you now feel the same as I do about Internet Freemasonry, I have a tingling Goosebumps reaction every time I talk about it to others. Internet Lodge has started to mature. We are getting our act together, listening to the members of the lodge by way of our wonderful communication media. May it long continue and go forward apace.

Chris White. WM. Internet Lodge 9659. March 2000
Copyright Internet Lodge 2000