The Independent Magazine for Freemasons
By: Phil Harrison
The book has been privately published by the author Phil Harrison, a Freemason who is now an officer of Grand Lodge and has been a member of the Craft for some forty years. However, as he explains, is has meant more than just forty years enjoyment of Freemasonry, there has been the experience of pleasure from helping others, and joy in countless lifelong friends.
As with most books of this nature it commences with a brief history of Freemasonry in England.
The book then splits into two parts, that of ‘Freemasonry in Public’ and ‘Freemasonry in Private’. The former section covering areas such as family, religion, law, charity and society!
Where ‘family’ is concerned the author very correctly points out that Freemasonry should not diminish, undermine or replace family values; with our ritual stating that it should not harm a man’s family or other connections by taking too much time or money, or causing him to act in any way against their interests - words we would all do well to remember. The author states that he was brought up in a Masonic family and explains what his early childhood was like, and how he attended Masonic social functions and was also fascinated by some of his father’s expressions (which he later found out were Masonic); and that his father attended meetings on specific days. Of course, matters that became more apparent when he became a Freemason himself.
The Chapter on ‘Religion’ is a personal journey of the author through the corridors of the Church of England and his relationship as a Mason with individual parish vicars, and will possibly help some who may be experiencing any problems with Freemasonry and their faith! He concludes by stating that Freemasonry is a hobby (some will agree), and Religion is a belief (most will agree). But, all Freemasons will probably agree with him that the Craft encourages a better and more moral way of life and, as such, compliments any religion. The fact is that any religion will be respected by Freemasonry but not intruded upon!
‘Freemasonry and the Law’ is dealt with mainly through the eyes of the author as a Justice of the Peace, although much of the Chapter also relates to well documented government commissions, and equally well known cases. There is also, strangely enough, a paragraph relating to Ladies Freemasonry - I am certain the ladies would consider the subject worthy of a Chapter at least! More interesting for many will be the reference to masonic discipline, something that Freemasons appear to shy away from and know so little about, unless personally involved.
‘Freemasonry and Society’ speaks about business and how Freemasonry can become entangled in matters unintentionally, but so easily; and the advice given is well worth bearing in mind. The Chapter then moves on to the 1997 Home Affairs Select Committee (again) which has also been well covered in many other publications. The last paragraphs relating to the critics of Freemasonry are interesting and give an account of the author’s thoughts on the subject.
The second section of the book is ‘Freemasonry in Private’ which deals with ‘what we do’, what we wear’ and ‘where we meet’. These three chapters are really the author’s personal experiences during his forty years in Freemasonry, although there are some explanations about the Craft in general which readers, particularly those who are not Freemasons, may well find of interest.
The book ends with a short conclusion which I had to agree with, because above all Freemasonry is a wonderful organisation which we should all enjoy and be loud and proud about our membership! So, a chance to demystify Masonry with a publication that is generally very well written and is an easy and interesting read for any Freemason at whatever stage of their Masonic career, as well as anyone who is not a Mason and who would just like to understand more about the fraternity.
Privately published in June 2009