The Masonic Lite Podcast
Brother Brian McHale, Union Lodge No. 291, Scranton
It began simply enough, with a request to a few friends for suggestions on how to learn more about Masonry. As a teacher, I knew I would have off this summer, allowing me what I thought might amount to some time to read. Many of my esteemed Brothers responded with great ideas, including joining esoteric Masonic groups. One, however, led to an experience I never imagined, thanks to my Brother and friend, Reverend Hank.
The Rev asked if I’d ever listened to the Masonic Lite Podcast. I had not. He had been a fan for some time, and mentioned that they are coincidentally based in Pennsylvania. I have relocated to PA, you see, so they must be close, right? The Keystone State (keystone – any Royal Arch Masons out there?) is larger than I realized, and I was soon to find out in an interesting way.
I gave them a listen during my morning walk around the new neighborhood. The mountains, crisp air, and blue sky are usually my only company. Today was different. As I walked past Kilcoyne’s Tavern, the Keystone Diner (Texas Wieners 5 for $12), and Carmela’s, whose Italian pastries would make anyone from Brooklyn homesick, it was like listening to old friends. They joke. They kvetch. They offer simple solutions to complex problems. Their rapport is evident from the first minute. I found myself listening, laughing, and enjoying their discourse during what is otherwise just a walk. I knew other Masons needed to know and listen.
I could write an article for TROWEL magazine. That would get the word out to all Masons in Massachusetts. I hoped it would be okay with the hosts of the podcast, so I emailed them, explaining my thoughts. Much to my surprise, I was invited to be a guest on the podcast! I immediately set to work planning the trip and a list of talking points. It’s the old Boy Scout – Be Prepared.
The drive to Ephrata was peaceful and picturesque, with mountains and blue skies all the way. As we got into Amish country, we saw our first horse and carriage on the same roadway as cars, which was a new one for me, akin to something out of a movie. Lititz is a short hop from Ephrata, and that’s where we stayed. I had no idea that a classic car was planned that same evening, which made the drive more entertaining than expected.
The podcast studio is located in the basement of Ephrata Lodge 665 (over 400 members!), while the main floor is occupied by the lodge’s tenant, a home for spirits. The top floor has been recently remodeled, quite spectacularly, and the attention to detail is inspiring. The Brothers have created quite the space for ritual, as well as an adjoining area for cigars and billiards. If Ephrata was closer than two and a half hours away, I’d be there frequently.
The studio itself is impressive, professional, well-appointed, and instills in you a sense of confidence in your hosts. These Brothers know what they’re doing. Having said that, the voices belong to: Bro. Pete Ruggieri (co-creator), Bro. Timothy Dedman, Bro. Jack Harley (Past Master of Ephrata Lodge 665), and Bro. Larry Merris (co-creator). Bro. Josh Lyter is the producer. To list all of their titles and affiliations would take quite some time. As Bro. Pete so poetically put it, “We’ve traveled a bit, got the t-shirts, and put them away.”
Seeing the process in person would have been enough for me. Being a part of it was something I’ll never forget. I hold their production in the highest regard. When you listen, which I certainly hope you will, you will see (hear) what I mean. The Masonic Lite Podcast is available at https://bit.ly/3ULZFS1. You can listen from any device connected to the internet – computer, tablet, phone, etc. Their introduction for Episode 143 is: “Hello! On this episode, we welcome Bro. Brian McHale. Brian recently transitioned from Massachusetts, the second-oldest Grand Lodge in the U.S., to the oldest (wink-wink) here in Pennsylvania. He is Copy Editor for Trowel Magazine, where he uses his command of Grammar and the English language to make good Masons sound better. Following a great conversation, we hear a new segment from Bro. Austin Shifrin, the Masonic News, and wrap with Larry’s Chicken and Waffles Waltz Band.”