Thursday, June 28, 2007

Masonic Reading

“Masonry, as now organized and employed, is not adequate to the demands of a realistic generation, and that to go on making men Masons, as we are doing, wholesale, without giving them an intelligent and authentic knowledge of what Masonry is, or what it means, with no definite objects beyond fellowship and philanthropy – objects to which other orders are equally devoted – is for Masonry to lose, by ignorance or neglect, what has been distinctive in its history and genius, and invite degeneration, if not disaster.” – M.'.W.'. Dwight L. Smith, Past Grand Master of Indiana, MSA Short Talk Bulletin, September 1928.

I came across that quote in a paper by Brother Stephen Dafoe, recently published in Volume 14 of Herodom, entitled “Reading, Writing and Apathy: The Rise and Fall of Masonic Education.” Herodom is, of course, the published Annual Transactions of the Scottish Rite Research Society. The Society is, in my opinion, the best Masonic Research Society in the United States and right up there with the British Quatuor Coronati. Its annual dues fee is the best $40 that you will ever spend. The paper was originally given at a communication of Lodge Vitruvian No. 767, F & AM, Indianapolis, Indiana on July 26, 2005. Brother Defoe outlines the topics covered by several Masonic publications over the past century and a half and shows that those covering Masonic Ritual, Philosophy & Symbolism have been on the decline while those covering famous Masons and fluff pieces have increased. A survey of three booksellers also seemed to indicate the same pattern. We have all seen it. So what can we do about it?

“I am a Librarian for a Law Firm here in Syracuse and I occasionally work for the County Library System as well so I am in the habit of recommending books and that’s where I will start today. I have no problems with “fluff” like “The DaVinci Code” or “National Treasure” but if you are looking for novels, why not check out Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum or even Katherine Kurtz’s fantasy “Two Crown’s for America”.

But if you really want to sink your teeth into some serious Masonic material, I highly recommend the following three books:

Just released by the Scottish Rite Research Society is the “Scottish Rite Ritual Monitor & Guide” as compiled by Arturo deHoyos, 33˚. This is one massive tome concerning the Ritual, Symbolism and Education of the Supreme Council of the AASR for the Southern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States. It contains a treasure trove of Albert Pike Scottish Rite material. Coming in at nearly 1000 pages, it is well worth more than the asking price. As a Scottish Rite Mason from the Northern Jurisdiction, I am very envious of the Southern Jurisdiction’s commitment to its Ritual and wish the my Jurisdiction would consider returning top their Ritual as opposed to constantly changing & watering down ours.

Also from Brother deHoyos is last year’s “Symbolism of the Blue Degrees of Freemasonry, Albert Pike’s Esoterika” which I have previously mentioned here. These two books alone will provide years of study for the esoterically bent Freemason.

I would also like to recommend Brother W. Kirk MacNulty’s “Freemasonry: Symbols, Secrets, Significance”. This book is beautifully put together with lots of Masonic information and many illustrations and photographs that I haven’t already seen a million times.

Buy these books, recommend them to your Masonic & Public Libraries, but more importantly, read these books and spread their Masonic Light onto your Brethren.