The Knights of the Masonic Roundtable

 

Like You’ve Never Seen Them Before:

 

An In-Depth Interview

 

Another great interview by

 

 

Elena Llamas.

 

They are known as The Knights of The Masonic Roundtable

or simply as The Masonic Roundtable.

They are five innovative, hard working, and extremely nice Masons who got together

in 2014 to spread Masonic light around the world via their weekly show.

Phoenixmasonry (and Freemason Information) is delighted to have had the opportunity

to meet the Knights and publish this interview so we can all get to know them better.

 

From left to right, The Masonic Roundtable Brothers: Nick Johnson, Juan Sepúlveda,

Jason M. Richards, Jon T. Ruark, and Robert Johnson.

Photograph taken at the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, PA.

Phoenixmasonry would like to thank The Masonic Roundtable for kindly

allowing us to display this photo for the first time in this interview.

 

The Masonic Roundtable show airs live every

Tuesday at 10pm ET on their website and YouTube channel.

You can find audio versions of all of their episodes on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

 

Elena: Hello, Knights, thank you for this interview. It is an honor and privilege to interview you. It has been two years since you got together and you are going strong, meeting every single week. Is it fair to assume that you will be around in the foreseeable future? I hope so!

 

Jason: Hi, Elena! Thanks so much for spending some time with us. The hosts of TMR always told each other that we’d keep going until the show stopped being fun. We’re still having a blast, so things are looking good!

 

Robert: Agreed. It’s become a highlight of the week for me.

 

Elena: That’s great! Why the name Knights of the Masonic Roundtable? And how did you get started? I understand Jon’s love for technology, gadgets, and Masonry was the starting point.

 

Jon Ruark

 

Scene from the

Droid Life Show

 

Jon: It was! Being a self-proclaimed Android nerd, I followed a site called Droid Life which introduced a live show talking all things Android that week (new phones, new announcements from manufacturers). What was neat was that they also added commentary very organically, and you could tell they knew their material. I figured someone should do a similar show but for Masonry. I didn’t anticipate that someone to be me!

I was such a huge fan of other Masonic podcasts, such as The Winding Stairs, and Whence Came You? and blogs like the Millennial Freemason, and although I had “friended” most of them in the past, I did not really know them well. On a whim, I asked all of them if they would be willing to try it out as an experiment. Ego stroking worked in my favor.

 

Robert: It sure did, Jon. Ha!

 

Juan: When I first heard Jon explain the concept and when I found out that Robert was also on board, I didn’t need to hear anything else. I saw it as an opportunity to continue learning about the Craft and sharing that knowledge with other Brothers.

 

Jason: We wanted the show to be a roundtable discussion, so we kept the “Roundtable” name and The Masonic Roundtable was born. We added in the Knights as a homage to the York Rite (Knights Templar, specifically), of which four out of the five hosts are members.

Robert: We’re working on Jason.

Jason: Yes, I’m the host with the vintage Knight Templar triangle apron hanging up in his studio who isn’t a member. Oh, the irony!

 

Jason’s Studio

 

Elena: I noticed it! Jon had a great idea and, in turn, you all have been part of the inspiration for Phoenixmasonry’s own show, airing soon, which will be different from yours, of course, and also online.

 

Jason: We can’t wait to see it! The fraternity desperately needs new sources of quality, well-researched Masonic education. We’re looking forward to seeing what Phoenixmasonry comes up with.

 

Elena: Thank you! You have certainly laid such a standard for others! Tell us about your logo. Is this your design? And please explain its meaning.

 

 

Jason: Yes! This is our trademarked design. The logo is absolutely critical to the show’s branding. Juan came up with some early designs for the artwork and I added the symbolism and other enhancements. I try to pack as much symbolism into my designs as possible while keeping them minimalist in style.

 

Elena: That certainly was accomplished with the logo.

 

Jason: The essential design elements of our logo include the following:

First, you’ll notice the circumpunct: represented by the outer rings and the dot in the middle of the square and compasses, which is an admonishment to ourselves (and our viewers) to manage time wisely. Our time on the Earth is finite. It is our duty to God to manage the time that we have as best we can. The circumpunct has historically represented Deity, and its inclusion in our design emphasizes the centrality of our duty to God.

Second, the triangle, which interlocks with the circumpunct, represents the three tenets of Freemasonry: brotherly love, relief, and truth.

The five five-pointed stars represent the five original Knights of The Masonic Roundtable. They also allude to the five orders of architecture.

 

An order of architecture is a style encompassing all parts, proportions,

and ornaments of columns in a building. The Five Orders of Architecture

depicted above have always been closely associated with operative masonry

and their influence and symbolism were carried into speculative masonry.

Source: MoF Masonic Library.

 

 

Jason: Each order of architecture is unique in its own way, adding a very specific kind of beauty to the building a given column adorns. Each of the five hosts is unique in his own personality and perspective, and each host adds a flavor to the show that would be sorely missed otherwise.

 

Elena: I agree.

 

Jason: As stars produce light, the representation of the hosts as stars alludes to the entire point of the show, which is to spread Masonic light and knowledge everywhere we can. As stars bring light, we attempt to do the same by sparking constructive Masonic discourse.

 

Elena: What beautiful symbolism!

 

Jason: Finally, the words “MORE LIGHT,” which appear in the bottom of the design, allude to our sign off, “Keep searching for more light!”, which is our admonishment to our viewers and listeners to keep the discourse going long after the episode ends. Every Mason has a duty to use his/her time on this earth to learn as much as he (or she) can.

As you can see, this design is the very heart and soul of our show, which is one of the reasons why we turned it into a set of lapel pins we sell on our website to cover our production and hosting costs. We packed even more symbolism into the pins by using specific colors as an homage to the Royal Arch (red), Cryptic Council (purple), Allied Masonic Degrees (green), Scottish Rite (white), and Blue Lodge (blue) bodies of Masonry.

 

 

Elena: The pins are lovely! You are on your 130th episode. I spent a lot of time on your YouTube channel and was so impressed by the range of topics you discuss. I recommend readers set aside a weekend or two for a Roundtable marathon. Your topics vary from what a Masonic political party would possibly be like to in depth discussion on Masonic studies, interviews with Masonic personalities, and discussion on different currents within Masonry and other religious observances. Do you have a system for coming up with each week’s topic?

 

Jason: We start with topics we ourselves want to discuss. We have a backlog of topic ideas (and potential guest hosts/experts to bring onto the show to complement the topics) that we pull from. Our best show topics, however, have come as suggestions from our listeners. We love taking listener recommendations for topics. Our episodes on Racism in Freemasonry, Essentials of Lodge Leadership, the Kabbalah, and Masonic Ciphers were all requested by listeners. We get new suggestions each week, and never tire of hearing topics about which listeners would like to learn more. Some of our topics span episodes (like our four-part series on the four cardinal virtues), but most of our episodes are standalone.

 

 

Elena: I have noticed that you are very responsive to questions and comments from your audience.

 

Jason: Social media is my favorite part of each episode!

 

Juan: I agree with Jason. Social Media, when used adequately, can be a very versatile tool. There have been many times when we have a particular opinion on a topic, only because we have ignored some alternative explanations. All it takes is a Brother to share his view on our Facebook page and now we have a new perspective to consider.

 

Robert: It’s always fun and nerve racking to be put on the spot with a position you’ve decided to take on the episode when a listener who is watching live decides to ask you right there on the show about what you just said. I love it. It’s an exercise in logical discussion and that’s what is truly different about this program and why I think it’s gotten the success it has.

 

Nick: Coming from the blogging world, I still get comments from posts I wrote years ago. I think that is useful and helpful. Since The Masonic Roundtable is a topical show by design, I definitely like the questions that keep coming in, even from episodes we did from a while back. It keeps my mind humming with new thoughts and new perspectives.

 

Elena: You start out each episode with a bit of trivia, Masonic news, conversation, and more. It is a great way to keep your viewers updated and interested while having fun.

 

From the “Masonic Time Travel” episode

(featuring Jon and Jason from The Masonic Roundtable)

 

 

Jason: It took us a lot of trial and error to find the right balance of special segments and discussion. If you go back to our early episodes (please don’t judge too harshly!), you’ll find much more inconsistency in the format. Over time, we’ve refined how we do the show (largely due to feedback we receive from our listeners). We’ve got the format down pretty solid nowadays, but we can always change it up as our audience’s needs evolve.

 

 

Elena: You film from your personal offices, living rooms, and sometimes even hotel rooms. You must have worked out a system for making sure your families give you time every week for the show. Jason’s cat isn’t having any of that (see image below). 
 

 

Juan: In my home, I have a dedicated Art Studio/Office space that is separate from the rest of the house. My family knows that Tuesday Nights I am recording TMR and they know to stay away from the Studio (It’s too messy in there anyway).

 

Elena: With a weekly show, plus your non-Masonic jobs and other Masonic endeavors, how do you manage to remain enthusiastic about the show, week after week?

 

 

Jason: It’s difficult. From the very beginning, we had to make a conscious effort to make the show a priority. I’ve had plenty of nights where I would have much rather gone to bed early then stayed up late doing the show. Every Wednesday is a big struggle for me at work because I’m dragging from staying up late the night before. But what I’ve personally found is that the discussions I have with the other hosts and the interaction we get from those watching live makes the sleep deprivation totally worth it. There’s a reason we keep coming back every week; that reason is that our listeners are amazing.

 

 

Robert: It is definitely a struggle sometimes. There will be times (frequently) I’m “live from mobile masonic command”, as the fellas have called it. As you’ve said, with work, kids, families it gets a bit nuts. I’ve blown off Masonic meetings to do the show at times but the District Deputy Grand Master meetings are the ones I can’t miss and why I am sometimes driving and doing the show. The listeners have not complained about the noise in the car…which I am deeply appreciative of.

 

 

 

Juan: I enjoy doing the show and I love my Fellow Knights, but there are times when I may have had a rough day and don’t feel particularly motivated. All it takes is for me to let the Brothers know how I feel and they cheer me up, just in time to sit in front of the camera and forget the difficulties of the day. It’s the cheapest therapy in town, if you ask me.

 

Elena: Are you invited to Lodges and Masonic events as a group to talk about your show? I think you are a great example of how technology and Masonry can combine to produce refreshing and new possibilities.

 

Jason: We have had the privilege of speaking individually and collectively across the country, both virtually and in-person! In June, I was invited to do a virtual presentation in a lodge in Wisconsin. It was a great instance where we were able to use technology to enhance and promote Masonic education! On a larger scale, we were invited to be the featured speakers at the Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge in March of this year. We streamed the entire event live–a first for the Academy–and had an amazing turnout!

 

Juan: The Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge event was an amazing experience, but we recognize that it is a little more difficult to bring all five of us to speak at an event (It’s possible though). However, we get invitations to speak at Lodges individually on a regular basis. I’m one of those strange creatures who really enjoys public speaking and I love doing it to spread Masonic Education. Getting to sit with Brothers from around the Country is a great privilege of our profession.

 

Robert: It has been wonderful to share fellowship with lodges all around the country. I think we really had an amazing opportunity and experience when we all were in PA for the Academy.

 

The Masonic Roundtable panel discussion at the end of the

PA Academy of Masonic Knowledge, 2016

 

 

Jason: Brethren tuned in from as far away as Texas! The event itself included individual presentations from each of the hosts and a combined presentation at the end. Best of all, you can still go back and watch the entire event on our youtube channel! It’s just another way that we were able to use technology to expand the reach of Masonic education.

 

 

Elena: If a lodge wanted one or more of you to come speak, what would they need to do?

 

Jason: The first step, like everything in Masonry, is to ask us! We’ve got a calendar of speaking engagements listed on our website. I’m personally happy to do presentations virtually any time I can fit them in, and if you’re near the Washington, D.C. metro area (or want to do something virtually) you might be able to get me and Jon as a 2-for-1. If I can help contribute to your lodge’s commitment to providing quality Masonic education to its members, then I’ll do so in any way that I can!

 

Robert: True story. Just ask. I maintain a page on the Whence Came You? website, and I try to get those dates to Jon, since he does most of the website work. He does a great job. We will travel far and wide to share fellowship and have discussion with the brothers.

 

Juan: If a Lodge wanted to invite us as a group, TheMasonicRoundtable.com is the place to go. If a Lodge wanted to invite me personally, they can do so through TheWindingStairs.com or through Facebook. My presentations are usually related to the practical side of Masonry. How to Apply Freemasonry to our everyday lives.

 

Elena: You provide an amazing and unique Masonic service.

 

Jason: Thanks so much!

 

Elena: The sound and video on your shows is always top quality, your settings are always well put together (as in, not a mess), you are always well groomed and wide-awake. Us viewers appreciate your effort and presentation. There is nothing worse than trying to plow through a poorly produced video with audio problems, with a distracting background, or unprepared hosts.

 

Robert: I totally agree. How many times have you started listening to an old .mp3 file and the quality was horrible? You know people make podcasts like that still? In 2016! When we decided to make the show an audio podcast as well, yes it wasn’t always so, we wanted to make sure we didn’t have this same problem. For the audiophiles out there, 320 kbps stereo is where I wanted to go. That’s what I did on Whence Came You? However, after playing around with cost / benefit we settled on 192 kbps stereo. I think it’s easy to listen to and it sounds like we’re there in your car, or your house or wherever you listen to us. It’s a crucial element. You could have a great show but if the audio is tinny etc. I know I’m not even going to give it one minute of my time. We didn’t want to ever have that as a problem for our listeners.

 

Jason: Post-production of our show is huge. We record it live, and started the show thinking we’d do video only; however, our audience begged for an audio-only version and after a couple of weeks we gave in. Good thing, too, as most of our audience listens to our audio-only podcast these days. We don’t do any post-production on the videos at present, but RJ is the man when it comes to making our discussions sound as good and clear as possible on the audio podcast.

 

Elena: After watching so many of your episodes, I walked away with a sense that all of you are very inquisitive, very respectful of your guests and topics, and well rounded and diverse as to points of view. The variety you provide as a group is unique and a real innovation in Freemasonry.

 

Robert: Whoa! Innovations!? We can’t have any of that. (Jokes) Being respectful is what we do as part of being Freemasons. While many of the topics and discussions we have on the show are highly charged and many more could not even be discussed in lodge, we’re not in lodge. We ask ourselves “How would a Mason discuss this topic?” Juan has been instrumental in keeping us grounded.

 

Juan: We are there for one another. We share a common interest, but don’t always share on the same opinions. The diversity of opinions helps us get out of our comfort zone and evaluate things from a more objective viewpoint. I like it when we present our Brothers as many facts as possible and allow them to formulate their own conclusions. We refuse to shy away from difficult subjects, so we have to be careful that our opinions are expressed as just that, our opinions.

 

Elena: Thus, your shows are more about exploring and discussing topics than about explaining each of your positions on the subjects. You don’t seem to want to teach or preach as much as you do propose, introduce your topics, and learn from your guests and issues.

 

Jason: We’re not experts, nor do we purport to be. We’re here to encourage Masons to arrive at their own conclusions vice imposing our personal worldviews on our listeners. We try to structure our discussions in such a way that there’s no right or wrong answer. We’re all here to learn, not only from each other, but from our listeners as well. That’s why we place such a heavy emphasis on audience interaction.

 

Robert: To be fair, there are times where I and others will openly disagree. I’ve gotten grumpy on a few episodes. But it’s usually on a topic in which there is heated debate. Again, something about the compasses keeps me out of trouble. As for teaching, well, I think we are all teachers already. And since our show is a discussion, it helps to think about it in terms of a bunch of teachers sitting around with other teachers, who would be the listeners, talking about these topics. We’re not out there getting preachy.

Juan: I’ve come to accept our level of responsibility grows proportionally as the size of our audience grows. Like that old sage, Ben Parker, once said “with great power comes great responsibility”. Although we have to be clear in our message, I don’t think we need to hit our listeners over the head with forced opinions. We are here to discuss, not to convince.

 

Jon: I try to apply the liberal art of rhetoric every show.

 

Elena: Do you have a large non-Masonic following?

 

Robert: The analytics and data show we have a huge following. I’d defer to Jon at this point. But I would point out that the non masons we do have usually are courting the fraternity and later join. We get letters all the time that say things like “ …I joined because your show finally gave me the push I needed. I receive my EA degree next week!” It’s humbling to say the least.

 

Jon: Facebook and Google analytics don’t have an “is mason” metric, so it’s a little hard to determine those who have taken the degrees and who haven’t. Get on it, Google!

 

Elena: Do you have other demographic data as to your followers? Age, region, that sort of thing?

 

Jason: Jon’s the Masonic data expert. He’ll give the best answer on this one!

 

Jon: Yup. Me again. Although all ages, genders, and areas listen to the show, our largest audience is men, 25-35, in the United States. That tells me that the connected generation wants to hear more about Freemasonry and younger Masons want to have more masonic education. I’d love for Grand Lodges to make our show irrelevant (Ok, maybe not quite, but close).

 

Elena: Ha, ha. Interesting data, thank you! Individually, you have some very interesting projects. Let’s start with Jason. You are a blogger. You have The 2-Foot Ruler: Masonry in Plain Language blog. Tell us about it.

 

Jason Richards

 

 

Jason: Ah yes, the 2-Foot Ruler. It began as a play on the Masonic working tool known as the 24-inch gauge. I began the blog with the intention of trying to explain the Craft in plain language so that non-Masons could understand us a bit better, but I’ve found that–at least for me–it’s difficult to write with consistency. That’s why the blog has languished as I’ve gotten more involved with TMR, the Midnight Freemasons, and other projects. I typically only write about things about which I’m very passionate. This is why you’ll see a number of my blog posts dedicated to topics of religious anti-masonry, marriage equality, homosexuality in Masonry, and transgender equality. For me, writing is cathartic. Even if my opinions or pieces don’t influence policy at the Grand Lodge level, I still feel as if I’m contributing to positive discussion through my writing.

 

Elena: That is great, Jason, thank you! Robert, you are the managing editor of the Midnight Freemasons.

 

Robert Johnson

 

Robert: Yes, years ago, when I started with “Whence Came You?” podcast, I read a piece called “Freemasons and Beer” and I ran across the piece on this website called “The Midnight Freemason”. It was run by Illustrious Bro. Todd E. Creason who is a famous Freemason in and of himself, having published half a dozen books. I asked for permission to read his piece on the show and Todd approved, but he had never heard of the a podcast before. We struck up a mentor mentee relationship of sorts. Eventually he got too busy and “The Midnight Freemason” was going to go dark, as we say. I stepped up to the plate. He gave me everything I needed to run the site and here we are. We changed the name from “The Midnight Freemason” to the “Midnight Freemasons”. We went from just one author, Todd, to having half a dozen to having thirteen or fourteen at one point. We have over a million views and climbing. I may be biassed but I think it’s the best Masonic blog out there. Three new articles every week. It’s really an online magazine. Consistency is the name of the game and I think we have achieved that.

 

 

Elena: That is amazing consistency, yes! Jason, you are also a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasons blog.

 

Jason: Yes! I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to share the blogosphere with RJ, Todd, and a bunch of other deeply insightful Masons who make up the writing cadre of The Midnight Freemasons. I was talking to RJ at one point about a long piece I was writing on Christian Anti-Masonry, based partially off of an experience I had with a narrow-minded individual in a coin shop. He suggested I write the piece as a guest contribution to The Midnight Freemasons, and things snowballed from there. As my 2-foot Ruler posts waned, I devoted more time to my work with the Midnight Freemasons.

 

Elena: Juan, you were a professional artist prior to producing Masonic art. Shortly after joining Freemasonry, you developed a collection of Masonic Art and Custom Masonic Aprons. How is that project going and where can people view and purchase your work?

Juan Sepúlveda

 

Juan: Shortly after becoming a Mason, I began working on a collection of Masonic Art for me. I set out to create the kind of work I would love to have hanging on my office walls. The collection has now grown to include paintings, fine prints and hand painted aprons, which can be purchased by visiting www.TheWindingStairs.com/Shop.

 

Elena: Your artwork is part of private and corporate collections in the United States, South America, The Caribbean, Europe and Australia now.

 

Unlocking Knowledge, by Juan Sepúlveda

 

Juan: I feel very fortunate that I was able to pursue my dream of being a professional artist. Before I created any Masonic artwork, I had been living off of my art for over 6 years. I have displayed my work in New York, Las Vegas, California, Florida, and Puerto Rico. From there, and through my online sales, I now have collectors in many countries around the world. I feel very honored to be able to say that.

 

Juan Sepúlveda in studio

 

Elena: Congratulations, Juan! You are also the host of The Winding Stairs Freemasonry Podcast. Tell us a bit about that project.

 

Juan: I describe The Winding Stairs as being dedicated to Masonic Education and the art of self improvement. I strongly believe that many Brothers miss opportunities to improve their lives, because they are not given the proper instruction of applying the lessons of Freemasonry to their personal lives. I try to bridge that gap through my podcast episodes, videos, and online courses.

 

 

Earlier this year I started a project within The Winding Stairs, called Applied Freemasonry. In this program, I give Brothers exclusive access to in depth lessons and tools to help them find the practical aspects of Freemasonry. It includes a weekly video conference where we help each Brother individually find real life solutions to the problems they may face in life, by using the teachings of Freemasonry. It is almost like a virtual mentorship session, every week. I am very proud of this program and what it is doing for the Brothers who have joined it. You can learn more about it by visiting www.TheWindingStairs.com/mentorship

 

Elena: What a fantastic service! Nick, you are the lead blogger on The Millennial Freemason blog. Can you share something about your blog?

 

Nick Johnson

 

Nick: I was raised in March of 2006. Being a Mason for a decade now, I have gotten to see and experience a lot of online Masonry, including this site. When I started in Masonry, we were in the bad old days of Masonry on the Internet. Most lodge sites were either 5 years behind on information or filled with construction worker gifs and bad patriotic MIDIs.

I never really intended to blog for as long as I have. When I started the blog, it’s main focus was my time at the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota as Junior Warden, just months after I had been raised. I think it was more therapy than anything else. People were still maintaining LiveJournals, knowing that most weren’t being read.

One day, after writing a few blog posts, Jeff Day, who ran the blog aggregator “King Solomon’s Lodge”, noticed my site. He asked if he could include it and not thinking of it, I said, “sure.” That was the watershed moment. Now, I was getting comments daily, posts were hitting the thousands of hits in a day, and my voice was being amplified.

 

 

I have been lucky. Many of the past bloggers, all great content creators, have disappeared. It was the golden age of Masonic blogging but only a few of us are still here, like Tom Accuosti of the Tao of Masonry. And, because I’ve been blogging for so long, I sometimes feel like the old guy on the Masonic Roundtable, which is good in a way; Masonry without a grumpy Past Master would just not be Masonry.

I hope I can keep at it because of the friendships I’ve made. It’s also still a way for me to keep sane in an otherwise topsy turvy Masonic world. It’s just a nice way to stay connected. Masonic blogging still has a place and I hope to be a strong part of it.

 

Elena: Looks like you will, after all this time! Robert, you produce and host the weekly Podcast/internet radio program Whence Came You?

 

 

Robert: It started in 2011. I’ve been writing, hosting and producing the show for more than 5 years now. We have over 250 episodes. It started out as an idea to just do one show. That’s it. Is Freemasonry secret or not? I read a paper on that subject, hosted it and put it out on iTunes. Once I saw how many people downloaded it, I started producing it every other week and now it’s every week. So here we are, over 250 episodes, over a million downloads and it’s been ridiculously successful and so rewarding to hear from the fans of that show. The show has grown organically from the start. Now we have a whole WCY team, largely behind the curtain, but they are there. Adam Thayer is my guest host and book reviewer, Matt Dobbrow is our digital media archivist and study group coordinator, Ill. Steve Harrison is our guy for The Masonic Minute, Bill Hosler is developing a ROKU channel for us and some other tech stuff, and Frater O is our anonymous esotericist. We have a lot of fun and it’s another endeavor to spread the light of Freemasonry all over the world.

 

Elena: That sounds like a great team! Wait, did you say anonymous esotericist? Your information on The Masonic Roundtable website says you are also a photographer and an avid home brewer, AND you are working on three Masonic books!?

 

Robert: I am! I think we are all working on Masonic books, that is every Freemason who writes. I’ll believe myself when I finish one of them. Photography has always been a love of mine. I did it professionally for some years when I lived in Orange County, CA. But, when you do something for a living, the hobby becomes the burden. I still enjoy photography but now I use my phone to document everything, my SLR is packed away. As for the beer? Who doesn’t love Zymurgy?

 

Elena: What aspects of Freemasonry are you writing about and why in three different books?

 

Robert: My main project is something which has been in the works for three years and has consumed tons of time. It’s largely a book on Occult Anatomy but like nothing that’s ever been done before. I’m co-authoring the book with a good friend and brother. The hope is that it will be a book for all, not just Freemasons. The other two books focus on the Craft specifically. One will be a collection of my unpublished essays and the other is a book on Anxiety and Depression, something I’ve struggled with for the last ten years. That book ties into the craft as well, albeit loosely. It is a book I would hate to market to just one group of people, namely Freemasons.

 

Elena: That is wonderful, Robert. It is evident that each of you is a lover of technology, online advancements, and social media. You make great use of the programs available!

 

Jason: We’re constantly looking for innovative ways to leverage technology to expand the reach of Masonic education. We’re blessed to live in a world that is, for the first time in its history, truly connected. As technology continues to evolve, we hope to evolve with it. Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll all be sitting in a virtual lodge meeting together from our respective bedrooms. UGLE, the Grand Lodge of Ireland, and the Grand Lodge of Manitoba in Canada have all set precedent for a virtual Masonic experience. I think we’re on the cusp of seeing virtual lodges become normative, and I’m excited to see that happen.

 

Nick: I have met so many friends, including my now co-host Jon Ruark, through the many Internet hotspots I frequented, including the Sanctum Sanctorum and the Masonic Society forum. Internet Masonry has been good for me and good for the Craft as a whole because it forces us to see outside of the four lodge walls. The world is wide but flat in this new era.

In my opinion, one of the biggest issues in Masonry today is what I term, “provincial Masonry.” Masons, particularly new Masons, leave because they aren’t exposed to new and different styles of Freemasonry. It’s somewhat by design. The lodge serves as locus for Masonic activity and many brothers like that. But this lack of travel breeds insularity which, for new Masons, tells them to conform to a local style or be left outside. I’ve chatted with so many brothers who have stayed because of Internet Masonry. It’s powerful and strengthens a bond that would have otherwise broken.

 

Elena: Lodges, Grand Lodges, and Masons should take notes. Writing is obviously another interest you all share, in addition to your great enthusiasm and dedication to Freemasonry through technology.

 

Robert: We do love to write. It’s therapy.

 

Jason: RJ nailed it here. Writing is cathartic. It’s a way for us to express ourselves and get heard, even if our opinions don’t translate into policy changes at the Grand Lodge level.

 

Elena: You are definitely being heard! Jon, I need to ask a silly question. You have two cats, Tesla and Edison. I am sure this isn’t the first time someone asks you this: do they fight a lot, given that scientists Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla had a rather famous disagreement?

 

Jon: Ha! Edison’s the younger one and they do tumble around quite a bit still, but I still root for Tesla as part of a redemption for history! AC/DC!

 

Elena: How funny.

 

Jason: This picture really captures the essence of who we are:

five brothers and best friends who get to spend quality time together

each week on YouTube.

 

 

Elena: Thank you again, Knights, for this interview! Phoenixmasonry hopes to catch up with you at a later time to see what is new with the show and hosts. It was a true pleasure to interview you and good luck with year number three of this wonderful show! Don’t forget to tune in to catch The Knights of The Masonic Roundtable live every Tuesday night at 10pm ET.

 

Jon, Jason, and RJ at Jason’s mother

lodge, Acacia 16.

 

Below are more interesting biographical facts on each of the Knights, more photos, and the links to all their sites:

Jon T. Ruark is a Past Master and charter member of The Patriot Lodge No. 1957 in Fairfax, VA. His Masonic interests lean toward the esoteric and philosophical aspect. He lives in Virginia with his wife, 4 children, and 2 cats; Tesla and Edison.

Jason M. Richards is the Senior Warden Acacia Lodge No. 16 in Clifton, VA, where he was raised in 2012. He is also active in the Allied Masonic Degrees and the Royal Arch. His favorite Masonic research topics include the history of American Freemasonry, the sociocultural impact of Freemasonry, and the history and evolution of Masonic mythos. He is passionate about the way Freemasonry presents itself to the outside world and, to help promote a healthy image of the fraternity, works regularly with the Grand Lodge of Virginia Committee on Public Relations. He lives in Virginia with his wife, child under construction, cats, and ever-expanding collection of bow ties.

Juan Sepúlveda is a member of Orange Blossom Lodge No. 80 F. & A.M. in Kissimmee Florida. A member of the Orlando Valley of the Ancient And Accepted Scottish Rite, S.J. He is a professional artist and public speaker focused on helping men in their pursuit of excellence. He is passionate about history, Masonic education and allegorical teachings.

Nick Johnson is a lover of codes, symbols, esoteric craziness, and “secret” stuff; he became interested in Freemasonry and its symbols as a young man. With the help of his grandfather, Bro. Nick joined Corinthian Lodge No. 67 in Farmington, MN in the spring of 2006 and served as Master in 2010. He is also a Past High Priest of Corinthian Chapter No. 33, RAM, Past Illustrious Master of Northfield Council No. 12, R&SM, the current Grand Chaplain of the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Minnesota, and Past Commander of Faribault Commandery No. 8. He’s also involved in AMD, Knight Masons, the York Rite Sovereign College, and is a member of the Royal Order of Scotland. He lives in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area with his wife and kids.

Robert Johnson is a Freemason out of the First North-East District of Illinois who serves as a District Education Officer and will be following up in October as a District Deputy Grand Master. He is a Past Master and current Secretary of Waukegan Lodge #78. He’s also a member of the York Rite bodies, AMD and the Scottish Rite. In addition, he produces video shorts focusing on driving interest in the Fraternity and will write original Masonic papers from time to time. He is a husband and father of 4. He works full time in the executive medical industry. Also, he does not have any cats.

 

Robert, Jason and Jon recording an episode from Jason’s dining room.

Robert was out of town for work, but oddly enough, in their town.

 

 

Links to the Knights’ projects:

The Masonic Roundtable website: http://www.themasonicroundtable.com

The Midnight Freemasons site: http://www.midnightfreemasons.org

The Millennial Freemason blog: http://www.millennialfreemason.com

Whence came you? podcast: http://www.wcypodcast.com

The Winding Stairs Podcast: http://www.thewindingstairs.com

The Winding Stairs Shop, Bro. Juan Sepúlveda’s art: http://www.thewindingstairs.com/shop

The The 2-Foot Ruler: Masonry in Plain Language blog: https://2footruler.wordpress.com

 

A special "Thank You" to Wor. Bro. Mason Pratt for the web design and formatting of this webpage!

                  

               

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