Freemasons For Dummies – Book Review

Freemasons for DummiesThis is the first masonic book that I’ve read. Upon deciding to join the fraternity, a good friend of mine who also recently joined brought me over to his house and pulled out his newly acquired masonic library. We are a lot alike in that respect. When we get involved in something new, we want to know as much as possible about it and to understand it as completely as possible. Now, with Freemasonry, you have to think before diving in as I do NOT want to know about the details of the rituals or secrets of The Craft. Instead, I want to know about its history, where it came from, where it is, where it’s going.

Bob, immediately pulled out Freemasons For Dummies and said, “You MUST start with this one. It’s not too heavy and will give you a good idea of the basics without overwhelming you with insider jargon that you don’t understand yet”. Sweet!

I can’t thank Bob enough. Now, keep in mind that this book is not going to make you a masonic scholar or anything. It is however, a great primer to get your feet wet. When you finish reading the book, you’ll understand the basics of Freemasonry such as the stories of The Craft’s evolution from the operative masons – a stone mason’s guild in the middle ages to the transformation in England in the early 1700’s into speculative masonry which was the philosophical and esoteric arm rather than the physical cutting of stone.

You’ll also understand things that I can (thankfully) now take for granted. Like the most basic question “What is masonry??”. He’s actually got in his table of comments, the perfect question: Is it a charity? A church? A social club??. He answers all of those questions in enough detail to make you happy but stops short of being boring.

Chapter 2 gives a good history of The Craft from its roots (possibly back to King Solomon’s Temple) right up to today. He ventures into areas of speculation such as “Did the Freemasons secretly orchestrate the French Revolution?”, which I appreciate as it gives yet more insight into the fraternity and you start to understand where the conspiracy theorists go when they’re looking for material on the “Evils” of masonry.

Chapters 3 and 4 go over the philosophy of Freemasonry, politics, and the interaction of the world’s major religions. Suffice it to say that there is a reason that discussion of politics and religion is forbidden in the lodge. Oh, you’ll learn that too in these chapters. 🙂

Without tearing into a blow by blow, suffice it to say that Part 2 of the book goes into the workings of the lodge, the hierarchy of the lodges, symbols and symbolism, and spends a good amount of time blowing apart myths, misconceptions and outright lies about masonry.

Part 3 is allllll about the appendant bodies of Freemasonry (and there are MANY!). These include The Shriners, DeMolay, etc… I didn’t find this part of the book terribly interesting primarily because most of them require that you already be a third degree Master Mason in the blue lodge before you can join them. Well, I have a ways to go before I’m even eligible for those and may have vastly different opinions about joining them by the time I’ve been in long enough to choose to.

Part 4 is titled “Freemasonry Today and Tomorrow” and discusses the ebb and flow of membership in the masons and touches on whether masonry is still relevant in the modern world. The author covers different angles some lodges are taking to try to encourage membership and whether they are good for The Craft or not. He looks into the futures and reasons why Freemasonry will still be relevant in the future and why he feels men will still turn to it.

In summary, this is a great book for the total beginner like myself, who wants to get a solid foundation of knowledge about Freemasonry early on. I would even recommend this book to someone that is considering joining, but hasn’t yet made up their mind. This book will give you a quick peek into the world of Freemasonry and will help you decide if it’s what you are looking for.

 Freemasons For Dummies

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