From the Commander of Kadosh (July 2017)

posted Jul 10, 2017, 4:09 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite

Happy Birthday America (and) modern Free Masonry - 300 years!!

     When I was a young boy in Boston, and frequently traveling with my family,  my dad would point to that older nice house in the neighboring town of Quincy and say “That is the house of John Quincy Adams, Sixth President of the United States.” It was only years later when I (we) came to California that I had the opportunity to read and learn about the early history of the Revolutionary War and the first several Presidents of our country.  After John Quincy’s single term as President he was then elected to serve in the U.S. Congress as a Representative from Massachusetts.

    Among his many speeches and thoughts for our country were the need for roads and canals;  improvement of agriculture, commerce, manufacturing, the arts and sciences, the establishment of public institutions and seminaries (universities) of learning.  And among the sciences, he cited astronomy as the most important and called for the federal construction of astronomical observatories, or “lighthouses of the sky” to study the heavens such as was being done in Europe. Many of his fellow legislators and newspapers ridiculed him as “this was not what our frontiersmen and farmers want”.

    In December 1835, President Andrew Jackson sent to Congress a curious message:  An Englishman, James Smithson, had left a bequest of about $500,000 to the United States “to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.”  Although both houses of Congress licked their collective chops at the possibilities for personal profits, the House acceded to then Congressman John Quincy Adams’ fierce interest in science and named him chairman of the committee on how to determine and disburse the money.

    He intended combining George Washington’s vision of creating “institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge” with his own vision for national observatories or “lighthouses of the sky”. He called them “the link between heaven and earth, the means of acquiring knowledge, the greatest benefit that can be conferred upon mankind”. Thus began the Smithsonian Institution in the District of Columbia, and with other federal agencies, to build his “lighthouses of the sky”. One such observatory is our own Lick Observatory atop Mt. Hamilton in San Jose.

    In this mountain-top complex resides one of the largest refractor lens telescopes ever built. The lens was so big it had to be lugged to the top using ropes. It contains a hand crafted and hand polished glass refractor lens made by John A. Brashear and his wife in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.  And that same telescope has an appropriate brass nameplate attached to it mentioning the name of “Brashear” which was both visited and noted by one of our members.  And in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania there is an edifice by the name of John A. Brashear Masonic Lodge. It is sometimes amazing to see how many Masons across the years have used the Liberal Arts and Sciences, as we are exhorted to do in the Second Degree, to the betterment of mankind!

   Dell Bleiler, Commander of Kadosh