Jim Tresner, 33, Grand Cross
Guthrie, Oklahoma
Book Reviews Editor for the Scottish Rite Journal

Editor’s Note:
Publication information has been carefully checked but is subject to change. Before ordering, we recommend you contact the publisher.

Masonry shines with the clear, steady light of truth, but the light by which this truth is obtained has traditionally flickered.

The three Lesser Lights in Mozart’s Lodge Room were real candles, of course, as were the dozens of candles in the chandeliers. Lodges have been illumined by torches, by candles, and by oil lamps whose gentle, flickering light cast a warm and living lambency over the room. Unknown thousands of Masons learned their work in those glowing pools

Today, of course, the flickering light in most homes and Lodges comes from the television. This powerful instrument of education serves Masonry well, and this column is dedicated to the work of Capstone Productions, Inc., the most important producer of Masonic videotapes in America. Capstone Productions is the brainchild of Jackson Polk. He has worked in cooperation with the Masonic Information Center, the Scottish Rite, National Sojourners, Inc., the George Washington Masonic Memorial Association, and the Order of the Eastern Star to produce materials. We’ll just have space to hit the highlights, but I recommend any of these as an addition to your personal library or as the beginning of a Lodge video collection.

To order any of the tapes listed, write to Capstone Productions, Inc., Masonic Television Forum, PO Box 221466, El Paso, TX 79913 Tel 915-833-8700 Fax 915-584-6903 E-mail masonictv@compuserve.com Shipping and handling is $5 per tape.

The History of the Blue Lodge Ritual (Cost, $20 + S/H) This is a program by Robert G. Davis, 33, a Fellow of the Philalethes Society, excerpted from his forthcoming book on the topic. The program was presented at the Minneapolis Masonic Expo in 1996. Thirty-nine minutes in length, the program shows how William Preston and Thomas Smith Webb influenced the Masonic Ritual as it is used in the United States. I’m biased, of course, because Brother Davis is not only a colleague but also one of my best friends, but I think it’s a fine piece of work. Anyone who wants to know why our Ritual says the things it does should see this videotape. It makes a good program to show in Lodge.

1993 United States Capitol Bicentennial Cornerstone Ceremony (Cost, $20 + S/H) This 30-minute videotape covers the entire Masonic cornerstone ceremony conducted by the Grand Lodge of D.C. for the Bicentennial Celebration. A five-camera shoot, the tape comes as close as possible to taking you to the actual bicentennial event. This is also a good videotape for Lodge programs or to show to non-Mason friends.

The Cornerstone of Democracy History (Cost, $20 + S/H) George Washington laid the cornerstone of our nation’s Capitol building with full Masonic ceremony. The big question is where is the original cornerstone now? The hour-long videotape is interesting and fun as it traces the efforts of U.S. officials and amateurs to find the cornerstone.

A Tour of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial (Cost, $20 + S/H) If you have never taken a personal tour of the building, this is the next best thing--better, in some ways, because you can see it again whenever you want. The videotape lasts 30 minutes, which makes it perfect for a program for non-Masons. I’ve used it for that myself several times. You can’t help coming away from this program without a favorable opinion of the Fraternity.

There are several other Capstone Productions videotapes which deserve full attention. For purposes of space (because I want to talk about the Masonic Television Forum) I’ll just list them, but they are all very much worth owning.

George Washington Visits His Masonic Lodge (Cost $20 + S/H, 30 minutes) Actor William Sommerfield recreates the character of Washington in a question-and-answer dialogue with a room full of modern Masons including 37 Grand Lodge officers, many of them Grand Masters.

White House Cornerstone Bicentennial (Cost $30 + S/H, 1 hour) This two-part program on one videotape begins with a 20-minute documentary about the White House cornerstone and its bicentennial. Part 2 is the full Masonic cornerstone ceremony as conducted by the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia on October 13, 1992, in Washington, D.C.

The Heritage of American Patriotism (Cost $20 + S/H, 30 minutes) Documentary about the National Sojourners’ Collingwood Library and Museum on Americanism and Freemasonry.

George Washington and the Temple of Democracy (Cost $20 + S/H, 24 minutes) Historical reenactment of Washington’s 1793 journey from Mount Vernon to lay the cornerstone of the United States Capitol. The program includes a Masonic cornerstone ceremony in colonial costume and the helicopter replacement of the statue of Freedom atop the U.S. Capitol dome.

Reenactment of the Laying of the Cornerstone of the United States Capitol, September 17, 1932 (Cost $20 + S/H, 46 minutes, black and white, silent) Many Masons do not know that in 1932 the Masonic Fraternity staged a major historic reenactment of the original U.S. Capitol Masonic cornerstone ceremony involving thousands of Freemasons and their ladies. This is a rare and fascinating film.

Friend to Friend: Freemasonry in Ontario (Cost $20 + S/H, 16 minutes) A modern Mason takes us on a Masonic tour of Ontario and answers the basic questions of who Masons are and what we do.

As a footnote to the above, Capstone Productions is planning a series of videotapes on Masonic education. Potential titles include: “The Christian Right and the Scottish Rite: Trajectories of American Religious Prejudice” by Dr. William L. Fox, 33; “Cleopatra’s Needle” by the Brethren of Springfield Lodge No. 217, Springfield, Va.; “That Without Which” by Forrest D. Haggard, 33, G.C.; and “The Eye in the Pyramid” by S. Brent Morris, 33.

The Masonic Television Forum is an ongoing series of programs about Masonry. Issued four times a year, the material is suitable for home viewing or Lodge programs, but it is also available in a format which can be shown on local community access cable television channels. There is an real opportunity here. Community access television is free, and in most communities the stations are desperate for things to air. Getting a program on the air is not hard, and Capstone provides printed instructions on how to get videos played on local cable.

Program #1 includes a Masonic profile of George Washington, a visit to the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, a feature on Freemasonry and religion, John J. Robinson, 33, and the Masonic Information Center, the symbolism of the Masonic gavel, and nine additional Masonic news events.

Program #2 includes a preview of the Theatre of the Fraternity exhibit from Minneapolis, a story about the Masonic Leadership Center, the symbolism of the letter G in Masonry, a Masonic profile of President Harry S. Truman, Masonic philanthropy, and a visit to the Grand Master’s Conference of North America, 1996.

Program #3 features a Masonic profile of poet Robert Burns, a visit to the Midwest and Northeast Conferences on Masonic Education, Cleopatra’s Needle, a Masonic cornerstone procession in Oklahoma, the George Washington Bible, and the Scottish Rite Children’s Centers.

Program #4 features the National Masonic EXPO held by the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, the International Philalethes Society, and the Scottish Rite Research Society. It also features a story on Masonic sponsorship of cancer research, a discussion of Masonry and religion, and a visit to the Grand Lodge of Missouri.

The cost for the Masonic Television Forum programs is $65 per set of two tapes, shipping and handling included. For that price, you get two tapes, one in VHS format to be shown on home video players and one in 3/4 inch format used by most community cable access stations.