X-Oriente (podcasts)
The New Voice of Brotherhood

Jason was watching The Vow...the documentary about the NXIVM cult, and started wondering if Freemasonry could be considered a cult. So we pulled out our instruments and did the math. What constitutes a cult anyway? 

Direct download: 142.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:33pm CDT

Back in July, we began (or re-began) some very uncomfortable conversations about race in America. Freemasonry's own story in the United States is woven from the threads of race relations among our people. In this episode, we talk with the Reverend Professor Quadricos Driskell, who among his many talents is a health care policy expert, a Baptist minister, a professor who teaches courses on race relations at George Washington University, and is Worshipful Master of his Lodge. It's the beginning of a series of uncomfortable conversations about race and Freemasonry, and Q helps us navigate through it with candor, compassion and courage. It's a conversation that no matter what the pigmentation of your skin happens to be, we all need to be a part of.

Originally, we lost Q's audio track, but thanks to some time-consuming forensic reconstruction we were able to restore the damaged file. It's the least we could do.


Direct download: 140.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:20pm CDT

Back in February, before all this pandemic nonsense, Eric and Jason sat down with Bro. Josef Wages to break some bread and talk about all things Illuminati, and the ritual that Joe helped locate, translate and edit, The Secret School of Wisdom: The Authentic Rituals and Doctrines of the Illuminati. It was appropriate that we met at the historic Gadsby's Tavern in Alexandria, a place that, given the topic of conversation, was the perfect atmosphere. Join us, for a conspiracy in the making.

Direct download: 137.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:47pm CDT

The Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction has been creating advertising media for free use by Grand Lodges, Lodges and individual Masons to help spread awareness of Freemasonry to a generation of men who barely know what it is. Is this a good thing? Eric and Jason explore and debate the merits of advertising Masonry in the 21st Century.

Direct download: 136.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:02pm CDT

Associations with the infernal have always plagued Freemasonry, even from its earliest days. But what is exactly "The Devil" anyway? Is Lucifer, Beelzulbub, Satan, Mephistopheles and Baphomet all the same thing? Does it matter what religion you are? What is Hell anyway? And why does Freemasonry always seem to demonized by Popes and Fundamentalists throughout history? In part 1 of a multipart series, Eric and Jason open the X-Oriente Department of Infernal Affairs and tease apart the personification of Evil. It's a diabolically good time.

Direct download: 134a.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:26pm CDT

Every once in a while we find something in our past that electrifies the present. Lessing's Ernst & Falk, Dialogues for Freemasons is just such an essay. Written by Gotthold Lessing, a German Freemason in 1776-1777, the Dialogues get at the heart of the true purpose of Freemasonry—well, one interpretation of it.

What makes Lessing's essay so compelling is that it addresses many of the questions we ask of the Craft today: what is the value of Freemasonry in civil society? What is holding us back as an institution? Who gets to be called a Freemason and on what basis? It is interesting to see that they were struggling with these very questions back in 1776.

In this episode, Eric and Jason read the Dialogues aloud and comment on the salient parts and how a voice that is as old as the United States can shed insight and light on today. In part 2, they read the final two dialogues.

Direct download: 133.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:52pm CDT

Every once in a while we find something in our past that electrifies the present. Lessing's Ernst & Falk, Dialogues for Freemasons is just such an essay. Written by Gotthold Lessing, a German Freemason in 1776-1777, the Dialogues get at the heart of the true purpose of Freemasonry—well, one interpretation of it.

What makes Lessing's essay so compelling is that it addresses many of the questions we ask of the Craft today: what is the value of Freemasonry in civil society? What is holding us back as an institution? Who gets to be called a Freemason and on what basis? It is interesting to see that they were struggling with these very questions back in 1776.

In this episode, Eric and Jason read the Dialogues aloud and comment on the salient parts and how a voice that is as old as the United States can shed insight and light on today. In part 1, they read the first three dialogues.

Direct download: 132.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:58pm CDT

Freemasonry has a rich and storied past. But is living in the glories of the past holding us back from the future? Eric and Jason discuss.

Direct download: 131.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00am CDT

Eric and Jason are joined by our good friend, Nicky Sampogna, who is arguably one of the best-dressed Masons around, and punchy from jet-lag. It’s a spirted discussion on Masonic dress codes you won’t want to miss. Wear a tie. Or at least some pants.

Direct download: 130.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00am CDT

Public mass shootings are all too common in our society. Conspiracy theories have become the gasoline on the fire of mass violence toward Jews, racial and ethnic minorities and yes, even Freemasons. Eric and Jason are joined by preparedness expert Bro. Adam Tager to talk about how to keep lodges safe during these difficult times.

Adam’s Links:

Ready.gov: Federal preparedness website filled with tips, tricks, and templates for a number of different threat types.

Active Shooter Preparedness: Two-page FEMA guide on prepping for an active shooter.

Active Shooter Response Guide: DHS guide for planning the response to an active shooter.

Active Shooter Training: Free FEMA online active shooter training

Other tips:

  • Locate all points of entry and/or exit in your Lodge building

  • Assign someone to lock the door of the building before going into the meeting

  • Create a plan for dealing with a hostile intruder and practice the plan

  • Contact your local police department to see if they do physical security walkthroughs

  • Contact your local/county Emergency Management Agency to see what stakeholder resources they have


Direct download: 129.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00am CDT

Eric and Jason review their book recommendations for Freemasons:

Direct download: 128.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00am CDT

"Esprit d'Escalier" literally means "The Spirit of the Stairwell" and refers to that feeling when you realize what you should have said after the fact. Eric and Jason discuss an article that appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, called "What It's Like to Join the Freemasons," and discuss what was good and what we wish had been said.

Direct download: 127.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:36pm CDT

Appendant Bodies are the groups one can join once a man is raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. And there are a lot to choose from, each with distinctive rituals, hats, activities and bling. But is so many groups that compete for Masonic attention good for the Craft? Eric and Jason discuss appendant bodies, their purpose and explore whether we have too much of a good thing, or not enough.

Direct download: 124.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00am CDT

Do people have a right to an opinion, or do they just have them? Eric And Jason discuss the semantics of rights opinions and critical thinking as they relate to Masonry and reasoned debate. This is a good toolbox for keeping discussions relevant and civil, especially online.

Direct download: 122.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00am CDT

We talk about Masonic Light, but what does it actually mean? Jason and Eric explore the notion of Masonic Light from a practical as well as an esoteric standpoint.

Direct download: 121.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:07pm CDT

Special Guest, W.'. Bro. Robert H. Johnson. Religion and Politics are the two things we don't talk about in lodge as Freemasons. But we do discuss philosophy and morality. And often the ideas in both are informed by religion and bleed into politics. In his excellent article, "The Problem With Banning Politics and Religion" Robert Johnson (Of TMR Fame) laid out a pretty compelling case that in our desperate attempt at appearing unified, we are avoiding the sorts of difficult conversations we should be having to remain relevant in the world, and what's worse, as Freemasons we are not developing the skills necessary to have difficult discussions, even though our rituals and lectures provide a toolbox for doing just that! In this episode, Eric and Jason talk with W.'. Bro. Johnson about the article and its implications for the Craft.  

Direct download: 120.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:02pm CDT

Masonry creates real and lasting friendships--if it doesn't you're doing it wrong. We enjoy fellowship and the social aspects of Masonry. On the other hand if that were all we were, we'd be merely a social club--and we go to lodge to work. All work and no play, however, makes Jack—and his lodge—a very dull place to be. In this episode, Jason and Eric discuss the fine art of balancing Masonic work and play to make sure that our lives as Masons are enjoyable AND productive.

Apologies for Eric's "hot" mic— the audio distortion is not you.

Direct download: 119.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:32pm CDT

Too much of a good thing isn't good. That includes the Craft too. In this episode, Eric and Jason discuss Masonic burnout: how to recognize it, how to avoid it, and what to do about it if you find yourself experiencing burnout.

Direct download: 117.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:12pm CDT

Are academic and affinity lodges a good way to reach out to specific communities, or are they a way to highlight inequality in the craft? Eric and Jason discuss the pros and cons of specialty lodges.

Direct download: 113.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:44pm CDT

Eric and Special Guest Host Mike "The Intern" Hambrecht of The Masonic Roundtable discuss the idea of the gentleman and how it informs ideas in the Craft.

Direct download: 112.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:41pm CDT

We are back from our technical difficulties (knock wood!) In this episode, Eric and Jason discuss the new show Lodge 49, the decision by UGLE to allow Transgender women to remain masons and the concept and meaning of the term "unmasonic."

Direct download: 109.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:15pm CDT

Eric and Jason imagine what they would do if they could be Grandmaster of American Freemasonry. Who is more hard-core? Jason or Eric? Who will be the first to withdraw recognition from the other? The Grand Lodge of Diamond, or the Grand Lodge of Van Dyke? Listen and see! It is an action-packed episode full of Millennial insights, crazy edicts, and hopelessly naive conclusions. We may not be the Grandmasters you need, but we are the Grand masters you deserve. Or something like that.

Direct download: 108.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:33pm CDT

Jason and Eric are joined by special guest, M.: W.: Joe Crociata, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Washington, D.C. and Masonic scholar to talk about Table Proceedings, aka The Festive Board. They talk about the background of these proceedings, The Seven Toasts, why they are important and some tips to insure that your Festive board is a memorable Masonic event.

Direct download: 107.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:04pm CDT

Jason and Eric discuss the idea that there are winners and losers in Freemasonry and how that might help and hurt the Craft as a whole.

Direct download: 106.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:15pm CDT

One way to lessen the effect of ego and improve well-being is through meditation and the practice of Mindfulness. Visit the show notes at www.xoriente.com to access a bunch of useful tools and resources to help you get started or get better.

Direct download: 105.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:08pm CDT

Jason said, "Masonry's biggest problem is Ego." Eric wanted to know more. In this episode we talk about how ego can get in the way of the Craft.

Direct download: 104.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:03pm CDT

We talk about the need to change all the time, but HOW should we innovate in Freemasonry? What is permissible to innovate? Eric and Jason discuss ways to framing the problems and an approach to iterative innovation that preserves what is essential about the Craft.

This episode was damaged when our systems crashed during the live broadcast. We've spliced together nearly all of the content. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Direct download: 103.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:55pm CDT

"The map is not the terrain, we are told." In this episode, Jason and Eric (and our Live audience) explore the importance of symbols, how symbols work, and finally banish the word "symbology" from the lexicon.

Direct download: 102.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:46pm CDT

In this episode Jason and Eric are joined by Chris Hodapp to discuss his recent blog entry The Decline of Men, and what Freemasons Need to Do About It.

We had some technical issues with Chris' audio, we apologize for the difficulty. We think it is worth the listen.

Direct download: 101.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:14pm CDT

While Jason is still completing his invasion of the European continent, Eric is joined by special guest host Juan Sepulveda. In addition to being one of the hosts of The Masonic Roundtable and host of The Winding Stairs podcasts, Bro. Sepulveda is an accomplished artist, and creator of a unique Masonic education program called Applied Freemasonry. In this episode we explore how we can make the tools of Masonry more applicable to everyday life.

Direct download: 100.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:52pm CDT

Join special guest host Jason Richards from the Masonic Roundtable and Eric Diamond as they discuss that we as Freemasons should expect but don't get, and what we shouldn't feel entitled to. 
Direct download: 099.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:34pm CDT

Eric and Jason discuss the elements of Enlightenment thinking and what we need to do to get better at it.

Direct download: 098.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:53pm CDT

Jason and Eric discuss two paths in Freemasonry: The path of Enlightenment philosophy and the path of Esoteric philosophy and why both are critical to Freemasonry's survival.

We reference Antoine Faivre's excellent paper "The Two Lights: Thoughts On Two Constituative Lights of Masonic History" published in A Path to Freemasonry: the International Review of Villard DeHonnecourt, the Research Journal of the GLNF.

Direct download: 097.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:15pm CDT

Why is it so important that a Freemason believe in a Supreme Being? In this episode, Jason and Eric take the First of the Old Charges apart using PARDES to see why this requirement is so important and so misunderstood.

Direct download: 096.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:19pm CDT

This was supposed to be episode 93, but we had a bit of a snafu with the show numbering. So while it says 93 on the title, it is really No. 95. You'll get over it. In this episode, recorded back in January, Eric and Jason reflect on their Masonic New Years resolutions.

Direct download: 095A.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:17pm CDT

During Masonic Week, Eric and Jason met up on Friday for a cookout lunch at the Grand Lodge of DC, where we were joined by Pete Normand. We thought it would be fun to do an episode about "Masonic Pet Peeves," and while we started with those intentions, the conversation went much deeper.

If you don't know who Pete Normand is, you should. He's one of those super-Masons, up there with guys like Rex Hutchens, Art DeHoyos, and S. Brent Morris. Bro. Normand hails from College Station, Texas, and we won't make you read his Masonic CV with all the accolades and honors he's received, but Eric at least is convinced that he has received all of them. But Pete is more than a bunch of lapel pins and titles. He's a maker--for years he published American Masonic Review, a Masonic newsmagazine in the days before blogs. He is a founder of St. Albans Lodge, one of the finer brotherly establishments in the Lone Star State. He is the Editor of The Plumbline, the newsletter of The Scottish Rite Research Society. He is an expert on the history of Freemasonry in Texas. He is truly committed to the betterment of the Craft and he has spent many years not just serving the Craft, but making stuff that makes Masonry better.

But to us, Pete is a friend and a mentor. Pete is one of the reasons that Eric travels to Masonic Week each year. Eric remembers his Masonic week discussions with Bro. Normand as a primary inspiration to start X-Oriente. He is generous with his insight and a dry wit, and completely down to earth. We're glad he agreed to share his time with us. We thought it made for good radio.

Direct download: 094.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:48pm CDT

In this episode, Eric has breakfast at Masonic Week with several podcasters including Mike "The Intern" Hambrecht, Jon "Big Data" Ruark, and Jason "The Mason" Richards of The Masonic Roundtable, and Frater O of Whence Came You? We talk about Masonic media in general, learn about how we approach things differently in Masonry, eat some eggs and bacon, and drink a lot of coffee. Pour yourself a cup and join us.

Jason Van Dyke could not join us due to a massive hangover. (Kidding! He was having a well-deserved break from the brethren.)

Direct download: 093.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:12pm CDT

Jason & Eric discuss an interesting post by Bro. Greg Starr, courtesy of Chris Hodapp's excellent Freemasons for Dummies blog. They also wish their listeners a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, and a Rockin' Kwanzaa!

Direct download: 092.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:52pm CDT

Jason & Eric discuss science fiction and Masonry as we review "If This Goes On" by Robert Heinlein.

Direct download: 091A.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:43pm CDT

Eric and Jason are joined by special guest Jon Ruark of the Masonic Roundtable to critique John Wm. McNaughton's (Recently retired SGC of the Scottish Rite, NMJ) recent book, Reclaiming the Soul of Freemasonry.

Direct download: 090A.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:49pm CDT

In this episode Jason and Eric discuss the dark side of social media and Facebook, and why it seems so hard to have a civil discussion on Facebook, and why social media is no substitute for lodge.

Direct download: 089A.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:19am CDT

Jason and Eric talk about Masonic identity and what Masonry feels like.

Direct download: 087A.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:14pm CDT

Jason and Eric discuss their experiences with Masonic conferences. It's not about the program, it is about the people you meet there. They also propose a new type of conference for Masonic Week.

Please visit our Patreon Page and consider becoming an Xecutive Producer. It helps keep the show going and it helps us bring new and better Masonic experiences to you.

Direct download: 086A.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:49pm CDT

In this episode, Jason and Eric discuss a foundational aspect of Freemasonry: trust. What it is, why it is important and how it relates to honor.

Eric referenced items from Honor: a History, by James Bowman

Direct download: 085b.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:00pm CDT

The events in Charlottesville were disturbing. I thins episode, Jason and Eric talk about an op-ed in the New York times on the perils of identity politics, an editorial warning about the unintentional dangers of Google and Facebook, and a speech on Masonry that is as fresh today as the day it was originally given. Full show notes at xoriente.com

Here are the links to the editorials:

Google Doesn’t Want What’s Best for Us

I’m a White Man. Hear Me Out.


Direct download: 084-Masonry_and_Citizenship.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:19am CDT

In this episode we talk about some craziness in fake news (the real fake news, not the fake fake news) and an article on Elitism penned by Bro. Nick Johnson of the Millennial Freemason. Complete details and show notes at xoriente.com

Direct download: 083A.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:45pm CDT

The show so good we did it twice! Well in truth we had tech issues last week that prevented us from completing the show, but we fixed them!

In this episode, Jason and Eric count down our top 10 Masonic movies. Now unlike other Masonic movie lists, we wanted to find films that didn't necessarily contain direct Masonic references (like National Treasure), but we wanted to find films that reflected Masonic ideas, themes and values. Special thanks to the guys at Oriental for their recommendations. Special thanks to the guys at Oriental for their recommendations. Also, special thanks to my wife, Fran Diamond, for helping me find the clips.

Our choices:

10. The Matrix

9. The Grand Budapest Hotel

8. A Face In the Crowd

7. The Fountain

6. Spartacus

5. The Seven Samurai

4. Star Wars (Episode 4)

3. Master & Commander

2. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

1. Henry V

Links to all the clips can be found in the show notes at www.xoriente.com.

NOTE: The clips contained in this episode are included and intended for commentary and critique, and represent fair use under generally accepted copyright law. But we're not lawyers.

Direct download: 082.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:34am CDT

In this episode, Eric and Jason talk with Heather D. Fulton, a member of Le Droit Humain. Le Droit Humain is a coed form of Freemasonry that is recognized by the Grand Orient de France, and while much smaller than our mainstream English style Freemasonry, they are just as active as our system.

Heather was a lot of fun to talk to, and we think this was a conversation you won't want to miss.

Direct download: 081A.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:57am CDT

In this episode, Jason and Eric discuss anti-intellectualism, what it is and how it is affecting Masonry. This was recorded before our break, so ignore all the talk at the end about how we're taking off time. We took it, and we're back, baby!

Direct download: 080A.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:22pm CDT

Our first Live broadcast! In this episode, we discuss Traditional Observance and the Masonic Restoration Foundation: It's a force for good, but like any powerful idea, there are perils and pitfalls to watch out for.

For additional show notes and links, go to the blog page

Direct download: 079A.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:10pm CDT

Our very first video X-Oriente! Well not actually our first, but our first in our regular shows. This is more an experiment. Going forward we will try to record LIVE and we invite you to join. We will record at 8pm Central, 0100 (Next Day) UTC on Sundays. Join us at Facebook Live. See our Facebook Page For more details. For now you can get the video on our Youtube Channel, on Facebook, or get the Audio on your Favorite podcast software or on iTunes. Links below.

In this episode, Eric and Jason have a frank discussion about Grand Lodge Amity and Recognition, the "nuclear option," and why it seems to be used more and more these days. Is this unusual? If so, what might be the cause? Who really suffers? We take a thoughtful, yet respectful look at what is going on and why.

Also, we are switching audio format to AAC (.m4a). We are doing this because the license agreement for MP3 is expiring and software will slowly start to phase it out. (Betcha didn't know, but someone actually owns the MP3 format!) Most of you should be able to play AAC files with no problem, but if you do have an issue, please drop us a line and let us know.


Article on Freemasons for Dummies

X-Oriente YouTube Channel

Facebook Video Channel

X-Oriente Facebook Page

Direct download: 078.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:47pm CDT

Jason has a lot on his mind in this episode. He's thinking about advertising and Masonry. Is it necessary? Is it a good idea? What role does marketing and advertising play in attracting men to Freemasonry? We have a discussion. Visit www.xoriente.com for links and references!

By the way, you will notice a break in the numbering. Don't worry, you haven't missed anything. We've got some episodes that we decided not to publish for various reasons. We'll try and bring them back.

Direct download: 077.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:13pm CDT


W. Bro Michael Swaney is an expert on Leadership and developing executive talent. He was the Worshipful Master of Oriental Lodge No. 33 in Chicago for the 2016 Masonic Year. In this episode, Jason and Eric discuss the qualities of Leadership in life and the Lodge and the challenges that leaders in an all-volunteer organization like Freemasonry are likely to face.

This episode was originally recorded last Fall 2016, and thanks to a technical problem wasn't usable, but thanks to some hard work, we were able to restore it for your listening enjoyment.

Direct download: 072.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:50pm CDT

071: Masonry Rocks!

In this episode, Jason and I sit down with Thomas Francis Lane II and Eve Bottano, of the 357s, a Masonic themed-alt-rock band from Northwest Indiana. Jason and I love the sound, which is a mixture of punk, rockabilly, goth, a little New Wave and, as Eve insists, the B-52s. The 357s challenge what a Masonic rock band could and should be: aside from Thomas, all the members of the band are female. But the sound is distinctive and haunting.

Thomas, Jason, Eve and I talked about the band's influences and how Masonry informs Thomas' musical experience. Funny story: Thomas thought we recorded the show in a proper studio, so they made the trip up from Indiana to Skokie. My home studio will barely fit 2 people, let alone 3, so we had a lot of last minute scrambling to relocate all the recording gear to the dining room! Apologies for any dogs barking. I'm glad Eve and Thomas were such good sports about it, and after several tech challenges we were able to get the recording going.

The 357s album drops on September 17th, and will be available through all the usual suspects (iTunes, Google, etc.) as well as on Spotify, Apple Music and the band's website. Both Jason and I urge you to BUY the album though as artists get paid between $0.006 and $0.008 per play, or if you are decimally challenged, it is about one-sixth of a penny. Both Jason and I are big believers in supporting Masonic artists.

The band is having a record release party on September 17th at Porter's Tap in Hammond, IN. if you are in the area, please come out and support the band, it should be a very good time. (Hanging out with Eve is worth the ticket price alone! I'm mean... sorry Thomas, but she rocks the gold spangly dress better than you ever could--but I digress) Tickets are available at Eventbrite.

You can hear the band at their website, the357s.com, on Soundcloud, and check out their new video on YouTube. 

Thomas tells me the goat references in the video are completely coincidental. <ILLUMINATI> Sure, they are, Thomas. Suuuure they are. </ILLUMINATI>

Direct download: 071B.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:52am CDT

Does your lodge have it's own unique traditions? Maybe you are like Williamsburg Lodge No. 6 in Virginia that March in Colonial garb every St. John's Day. Perhaps you are like St. John's No. 1 in New York that takes care of the Washington Bible, or Independent Royal Arch Lodge No. 2, which is largely credited for re-inventing the modern "Table Proceeding" ritual. Or maybe like my lodge that performs the Tyler's Toast at the end of each social gathering.

Lodge traditions help lodges find their own voice, but traditions must be managed to make sure they don't interfere with the core work and traditions. In this episode, we'll discuss lodge traditions: creating them, maintaining them, reinventing them and retiring them.

Direct download: 070.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:16pm CDT

069: Perspectives on Hindu Mysticism

In this show, the first of our summer season, we are joined by special guest Dr. Ramesh Rhagavan to give us an introduction to mysticism from the Hindu perspective. 

Ramesh is Professor and Associate Dean for Research at the School of Social Work at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick. He is also a member of the core faculty of the Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research. He is both an MD and a PhD, so I guess you could call him a high degree Mason (i crack myself up sometimes). He was initiated, passed and raised in Ionic Lodge No 520 (now Ionic Composite Lodge No 520) in 1999 in Los Angeles, CA. He is a current member of Tuscan Lodge No 360 in St Louis, MO, where he was most recently Senior Warden.

I really enjoyed our conversation with Ramesh, and learned a lot about the Hindu perspectives. It gave me new insights to my own practice and I hope you enjoy the conversation.


We recorded this almost a month ago, so the Masonic news is a little bit stale. For those who are wondering why the show was delayed, we had a technical bug that was inserting noise into the audio. We worked with the software developer and fixed the bug (we think it was due to a change Apple made to OS X). Should be all fixed now and blue skies going forward.


Direct download: 069B.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:00pm CDT

Apologies for the delay...we had a few technical glitches but we've got them figured out... I think. In this episode Jason and Eric are joined by W. Bro. Jon Ruark, one of the host of The Masonic Roundtable. Jon is taking on an ambitious and much needed project--he is doing a Masonic survey to try and learn what is the real cause of our decline. We then talk a little bit about retention and how me might think about not just attracting the right kind of men, but keeping the good ones we have.

Please go right now and take the Masonic survey at http://tinyurl.com/masonicsurvey. and enjoy the show!

Direct download: 067.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:34pm CDT

Sure, Freemasonry is not a business, but lodges do business. Managing our finances, raising funds, dues...in this episode Jason and Eric have a discussion of various aspects of the finances of a lodge, and some of the problems that lodges face when they neglect the financial side of things.

Direct download: 066B.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:17pm CDT

The third in our series of shows about the tenets of Freemasonry. What is Truth? Is Truth subjective? How can we know if something is true? And as Masons, how should we be thinking about Truth in our pursuit of it? This time Jason and Eric are joined by Professor Sandy Goldberg, Chair of Philosophy at Northwestern University to explore these questions. Understand what truth is and where and how to find it has never been more important. 

We also will bring you up to speed on the recognition situation. IMPORTANT NOTE: we do our best to get the latest information, but if you are in one of the jurisdictions affected [Currently, CA, DC, TN, GA, ME, RGLB (Belgium), GLNF (France)] please contact your Grand Lodge or Lodge Secretary regarding issues of visitation, plural membership, etc. Do not rely on podcasts or blogs for official information.

As always, the views expressed on this show are those of the participants and are not those of any Lodge, Grand Lodge, Appendant Body or any other Masonic body or organization.

Direct download: 065B.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:07pm CDT

The second part in our exploration of the tenets of Masonry. What is relief? Is it the same as charity? What forms of relief are there and what is our duty as Masons to perform Relief? In this episode, Jason and Eric explore the meaning of Masonic Relief.

Direct download: 064.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:33am CDT

Big News! I'm pleased to announce the addition of a co-host! Jason Van Dyke will be in the co-pilot's seat, starting with this episode!

Religion and politics are the two subjects that are forbidden to be discussed in Lodge, as we say they are the two topics that serve to divide men. Recent events in Tennessee have elevated both religion AND politics into the Masonic sphere, causing all kinds of problems. Outside of the Craft, we are in the midst of a political process that is breaking down because of a lack of mutual respect and civility. 

Can Masonry help us as a society walk this back? Are we destined to be torn apart by the same forces that are straining democracy all over the world? We open the discussion: How can Masonry help? Visit www.xoriente.com for more detailed show notes.

Direct download: 063b.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:42pm CDT

The first tenet of Freemasonry is brotherly love. What is brotherly love, how is it distinctive from other kinds of love, and how do we understand it both from historical precedent, and today? If indeed brotherly love is a tenet, how should inform our conduct today? It is said that the tenets of Freemasonry are brotherly love, relief, and truth. And were going to spend the next few shows exploring just exactly what that means. Visit xoriente.com for more detailed show notes and links to more content.

Direct download: 062B.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:50pm CDT

It is the most powerful object in freemasonry and can either enhance or ruin the harmony of the lodge. But do we really pay attention to the black cube and how it can help or harm the Craft?

Direct download: 061B.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:25pm CDT

We've been talking about social relevance. In this episode I propose that our cause and our banner should be EDUCATION, in all of its forms. When people ask "what do masons do, imagine a world where we can say, "we protect the world from ignorance and tyranny," Who wouldn't want to sign on for that?

Direct download: 060.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:41pm CDT

OK, I know we said we were not going to talk about this any more, but no sooner was last episode posted, than The Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia came out with a statement of Masonic principles designed to distance themselves from the Grand Lodges like Georgia and Tennessee that are actively discriminating against men based on sexual orientation. In this episode, a quick one, I share with you what I found and comment on some reader comments made to Chris Hodapp's Freemasons for Dummies blog.

The comments can be found here.

The original text from the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia can be found at www.xoriente.com.

Remember: my words are my own and do not reflect the opinions of the GL of DC (or any Grand Lodge, Lodge or Masonic body). What do you think about the GL of DC's statement?

Direct download: 059.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:15pm CDT

I originally placed this episode into the vault, never to be published, but recent events in Georgia have made it necessary to dust it off and publish it. 

I realize it is controversial, but it has to be said. What do you think? Share your thoughts for me after you listen to the episode.

Direct download: 058b.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:54pm CDT

057: Sexual Orientation, the Craft and a Lot of Disclaimers

This is a controversial topic, but it doesn't mean we should shy away from subjects that are difficult to talk about. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that homosexual couples can be legally married in all 50 states. In other news, the recent change in gender of Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner to female (now called Caitlyn) has pushed questions of sexual and gender orientation into the sphere of public debate.

In this episode, I explore some of the difficult questions and implications these issues have for the craft:

  • Is homosexuality a moral issue as far as Masonry is concerned?
  • In an age of same-sex marriage, how does gender now define what it is to be a Masonic Widow?
  • What would happen if a Mason changed his gender to that of a woman? Would that person be obligated to resign from the Craft?

I'll weigh in with my perspective on these issues. My opinions are always my own and I do not speak for Masonry as a whole, nor for any official Masonic Grand Lodge or Appendant body.

I welcome all opinions and responses, provided they are on-topic and repectful. It is a discussion worth having in good faith. 


Direct download: 057.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:17pm CDT

What would our esteemed Brother George Washington think of social media today? Back when Washington was a kid he copied a book which was to prove influential in how he conducted his affairs. Called The Rules of Civility, the book was a series of rules on how gentleman should behave in the presence of others. I was curious how many of those rules could be applied to social media. Quite a few as it turns out!

Direct download: 056.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:02pm CDT


This is Part 2 of our discussion with Prof. Sandy Goldberg, Chairman of the Philosophy Department at Northwestern University. In this episode we focus on the Age of Enlightenment and the legacy it has left us.

Direct download: 055.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:05pm CDT

When Freemasonry emerged from the mists of history in 1713, it emerged into a world that was still suspicious and mistrustful of science, had just finished a decades long war fought over religion and had a stagnant social mobility with a growing distance between the aristocracy and the rest of us.

It occurs to me that this is the world we find ourselves in today. Back then, our forebrothers helped to establish an Age of Enlightenment. Do we need another one? In Part 1 of a 2 part series, I discuss philosophy and Enlightenment Values with Dr. Sandy Goldberg, Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Northwestern University. In Part 1 we discuss the qualifications and values one must have to be called a "philosopher," and in Part II we'll talk specifically about the Age of Enlightenment and its values.

Direct download: 054.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:33pm CDT

Sure we've read our share of Masonic Manifestos. Down with drive-through Masonry! Up with Standards! Better degrees! Festive Boards! And there is nothing to disagree with in them. But what if we're missing something? What if a decline in standards is only a part of the picture? What if we've declined in social relevance and we can't articulate the value we bring to society enough to attract the kind of man that wants what we have and has what we need?

In this episode we'll begin to explore the problem and in future episode we'll look at solutions. The world needs Freemasonry more than it ever did. Are we up to the challenge to make ourselves the cutting edge of society once again?

Also special thanks and welcome to our newest Xecutive Producers!

Direct download: 053b2.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:19pm CDT

052: Housekeeping

Just a short episode to fill you in on some details about the show, and to announce a new program to help support the show: X-Oriente Xecutive Producers! Become an Xecutive Producer, get cool X-Oriente schwag, and exclusive content. To support the show, go to www.patreon.com/xoriente and sign up. For $5 a month you'll be helping create thought-provoking Masonic content for Freemasons everywhere.

We'll be back in a week or so with a new series on Freemasonry and Social relevancy. You won't want to miss it!

Direct download: 052.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:51pm CDT

Ritual is more than just a nice way to spend a meeting. It actually changes your brain, and how you perceive the world. In this episode, we'll explore what role ritual plays in creating bonds between brothers. We'll also look at how ritual works to effect change and why it is important not to mess with it, even if we don't understand its meaning right away. In fact, a candidate who doesn't immediately "get" the degree is essential to the transformation process from profane to brother. This is the real secret psychology of Freemasonry.

Direct download: 051.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:07pm CDT

The studio is back! We've gotten rid of the asbestos in the studio so it is safe to go inside and resume the show. And resume we will!

In this episode, we wrap up the discussion of generational fricition in Freemasonry with the discussion of the Millenial generation. This generation will do more to change the face of the craft more than any since the Veteran generation's grandfathers.

Direct download: 050.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:02pm CDT

Never before has Freemasonry had such a huge generational spread actively working in the Fraternity. And becasue of the accelerating pace of change, the generations are more diverse in terms of style, values and outlook. In this episode we begin to explore the characteristics of each generational style, and how they relate to each other, as well as where the friction points might be. As the French say, a warned man is worth two, so by understanding these differences in outlook and approach we can avoid problems and misunderstandings as we work toward common purposes in the Craft. In Part II, we explore Generation X, one of the most misunderstood generations of recent history.

Much of my data came from the excellent book, Generations at Work, by Ron Zemke, Bob Fitzpatrick and Claire Raines. 

Direct download: 049b.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:23am CDT

Never before has Freemasonry had such a huge generational spread actively working in the Fraternity. And becasue of the accelerating pace of change, the generations are more diverse in terms of style, values and outlook. In this episode we begin to explore the characteristics of each generational style, and how they relate to each other, as well as where the friction points might be. As the French say, a warned man is worth two, so by understanding these differences in outlook and approach we can avoid problems and misunderstandings as we work toward common purposes in the Craft. In Part I, we explore the Veterans (those born before 1943) and the Boomer (1943-1960).

Much of my data came from the excellent book, Generations at Work, by Ron Zemke, Bob Fitzpatrick and Claire Raines. 

Direct download: 048.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:22am CDT

047: X-Oriente is Back

The show has returned. In this episode, I revisit the rationale of the show, what is changed and what to expect in the new season. It's going to be an interesting season, full of thought provoking ideas, critical analysis and new ideas.

Please tell your brothers, and subscribe, if you are not alredy a subscriber. To those who've written, thanks, and keep the converesation going. 

Fiat Vox!

Direct download: 047.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:37pm CDT

What is going on with the GLNF in France? Last summer, the UGLE suspended relations with them. Now, following recommendations by a committee of COGMINA, other Grand Lodges around the USA are also suspending relations with the French Grand Lodge. Why? What is all the fuss about? I've been trying to follow the story, but it hasn't been easy. In this episode I try and unravel the story.

As always, I speak only for myself and my opinions do not reflect any official position of any body or group in Freemasonry.

Direct download: 046.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:38pm CDT

045: Masonic Education

How do you make Masonic Education more compelling? Today we talk a little about how to make education more compelling and useful for both your candidates and your lodge.

Direct download: 045.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:03pm CDT

St. Bernard Commandery No. 35 is selling some of their Masonic treasures and it's raised some interesing discussions. In this episode we talk to the Eminent Commander of St. Bernard No. 35 to find out what's up.

We're also experimenting with the format ofthe show, now that it's back. What do you think?


"Nothing At All," by 3 Minute Pop Songs

Direct download: 044.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:06pm CDT

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We have a new co-host! Jason van Dyke, the Director of Media Projects (I probably got that wrongly worded, but you get the idea) at the House of the Temple in Washington DC joins me on the show. The audio is a little rough, and the show is completely unscripted, but we are in the field during Masonic Week. This episode is a discussion that continues a national discussion on the idea of civility and what the hell happened to it. We'll talk about how to disagree as Freemasons and still preserve harmony. 

Let me know how you like the change. We'll be fine-tuning as we go, and the show may indeed morph some more, but this is an exciting episode for me and the show.

Also, if you are here in DC for Masonic Week, come find me on Facebook or drop me an email.


Direct download: 043.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:52am CDT

We conclude our tour or the Sephirot from a Masonic perspective. In this episode we cover Chesed, Gevurah, Da'at, Tifaret, Netzach Hod, Yesod and Malkhut

Direct download: 041.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:17pm CDT

We are back! In this episode, we'll begin a multi-episode look at the basics of Kabbalah and how it intersects with Freemasonry. This is the real deal...we'll be looking at it from a very traditional perspective, with lots of Hebrew and lots of context. WARNING: We're getting a little bit into discussion of religion and spirituality if only to set context. 

Direct download: 039.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:28pm CDT

the 5th Annual Christmas Music Special Dedicated to the Ancient Designers (Freemasons) and the Modern ones (ID)
Direct download: 037.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:02pm CDT

It's here it's here! I've finally been off my bike long enough to finish the episode! It's riding season and I've been spending a lot of time on my incredibly fuel efficient (51MPG city) fast (100MPH +) and cool scooter. It got me interested in the biker lifestyle, specifically biker Masons, so I thought I'd visit some and discuss the biker lifestyle, Masonry and the intersection of the two. I spoke with W. Bro. Ted Hogan, president of the 3-5-7 Brotherhood Chapter of the Widows Sons International, a Masonic Motorcycle Association. And I learned a lot about what biker Masons are, and what they aren't. And at the end of the day I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of Masonic content they offer their members. If you are interested in joining the Widows Sons, you can find a chapter near you at widowssons.com. Ride Safe! Special thanks to Ted Hogan and the Brothers of 3-5-7 Brotherhood Chapter. You guys rock.
Direct download: 035.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:58pm CDT

Christopher Hodapp speaking at the Valley of Chicago's Scottish Rite Degree Day Feb 21, 2009.
Direct download: 034.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:37pm CDT

In this episode we look at the dynamics of small teams (that is "Committees" in Masonic parlance) and how understanding the dynamics of the life-cycle of teams can help make your team or committee run much more smoothly. We've also got some music that simply blew me away with its ingenuity and talent. Kutiman is an Israeli Musician, Producer and DJ who has put together music from unrelated videos found on YouTube. You can find his work on his site www.thru-you.com. We're playing the first cut off his collection called "The Mother of All Funk Chords."
Direct download: 033.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:44pm CDT

Another quick episode of some of the highlights of Masonic Week which took place in Alexandria, Virginia (Washington DC area)
Direct download: 032.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:35am CDT

2 episodes in a week? Am I nuts? (Don't answer that!) Today's episode is a quick one...I was thinking about the legacy of our brother Dr. King, and my childhood, white guilt, putting a name to race, and Masonry and the inauguration tomorrow...and it was all swirling around in my head. So I decided to get it out onto an MP3 and share my thoughts with you and maybe spark some conversations between you and your brothers. Please share your thoughts and reflections too. And Happy MLKJ Day!
Direct download: 031.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:34am CDT

Problem personalities in the Lodge and how to work harmoniously with them.
Direct download: 030.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:33am CDT

2008 Christmas Music Special Happy Holidays everybody!
Direct download: 029.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:31am CDT

Belief in God is a foundation of the Craft. but what exactly is belief and why is it so important? In this episode we talk to some experts on the nature of belief.
Direct download: 028.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:30am CDT

An interview with "I.M. Hiram" on the mess in West Virginia. It has become so bad that even the New York Times is weighing in. So it is time we did.
Direct download: 027.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:25am CDT

I spent an evening with M.W. Bro. Jerry Butler. I went to learn more about Prince Hall Masonry, about the differences between Prince Hall Masonry and the "European Brethren". I left learning more about what makes us the same, and the truly Universal nature of the Craft. Thanks to Bro Butler, Bro. Priester for granting me the time, Thanks to Arc Music Group for permission to play Bro. Butler's music in the show.
Direct download: 026.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:24am CDT

It is that time of the year again, brethren! Time for the 3rd Annual X-Oriente Christmas Music Special! The pickings this year were slimmer than in the past, but I still found with some pretty decent selections. Please enjoy these and have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year! Music Selections "I'll be home for Christmas," by Twisted Sister "Merry Christmas Song" by Vanessa Van Spall "Looks Like Christmas." by Winzinreid, or the Hollywood Drunks "O Come All Ye Faithful," by Mary Ellen "Feels Like Christmas," by Rusty Bladen "Drinking Up Christmas," by The Dwarves "My Own Merry Christmas," by Geoff Smith
Direct download: 025.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:22am CDT

After an abortive Episode 023, here is a classic Rudyard Kipling story to help us get back to what's important. New theme music too.
Direct download: 024.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:21am CDT

There is a lot of controversy brewing in the Masonic world online. Here's some tips on how to navigate the blogosphere with dignity and respect.
Direct download: 022.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:20am CDT

Brent Morris speaks about what it was like to write a book "...for Complete Idiots" and talks about his experiences with the media. Presented Oct. 5, 2007 at the Illinois Lodge of Research in Springfield, Illinois.
Direct download: 021.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:18am CDT

Critical thinking tools and a challenge
Direct download: 020.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:17am CDT

Critical thinking is one of those things that Freemasons were famous for. Now it is time for us again be the stewards of independent thinking.
Direct download: 019.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:45am CDT