The Independent Magazine for Freemasons
By: Mike Lawrence
This is a no nonsense book written by an author with his feet firmly on the ground looking at what the Craft really teaches and not what it might infer in its rituals and symbols. It includes papers or lectures given in lodges and this in itself is justification of its importance for the Craft as a whole. A Masonic book enjoyed by its members is indicative to its relevance for the Craft today.
There are twelve chapters suitably illustrated on topics ranging from ritual practices, Masonic fire, cathedral builders’ influences on the Craft, the development of the apron, progression between degrees, origins using English and Scottish evidence, the Books of Constitutions, questions on King Solomon’s temple answered, the Knights Templar influence on the Craft and a final chapter which will leave brethren talking or debating. That of the English speculative Masonry against Scottish non-operative masonry both vying for precedence for the Craft’s origins has been discussed for a while.
The final chapter dealing with the English and Scottish influences could well be a starting point for many as this is a debate being hotly discussed at the moment. The author constructs the facts in well ordered manner and the reader can decide whether speculative – or non-operative – Masonry started in 1717, or before.
The author feels he has been a ‘lone voice defending the fact that Freemasonry is not a supernatural society, hiding the true secrets of life’. No one reading these articles could be under any illusion that this is not the case. The facts are presented in a clear and concise manner allowing the reader to check details or research particular ideas avoiding the folly of many authors dealing with the Craft of writing invented histories.
The topics are presented with a good balance of the historical background and current developments. This is done very clearly with the chapter on the development of the Masonic apron. Although the author reviews representations of aprons from Egyptian times, at no point does he suggest they were Masonic. The colours and styles of aprons are reviewed as to how we arrive at the standard type of apron today.
The chapter outlining what the Craft requires of its members is interesting in that it tells Freemasons exactly what they should try to live up to; from its historical beginnings to what is necessary today, including a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge. By reading excerpts of this book daily, each Mason would achieve this lesson taught in the second degree.
The book is a careful blend of the old and the new, and with the 300th anniversary of the Grand Lodge founded in London, it’s an ideal time for brethren to read articles related to our origins. They are thought-provoking, provide factual information and easy to read. Due to their nature, it is possible to read the chapters in any order and most brethren will have favourite topics in which to read straight away. By reading this book, every Freemason should be able to answer the question ‘What are the Freemasons about?’ with a confidence and clarity that will do the Craft justice.
This book would be an ideal gift or presentation to every Candidate after their initiation. Perhaps even a mentor explaining aspects of chosen chapters of the book after each degree to the Candidate would make a huge difference to his understanding and therefore increasing his chances of remaining a Freemason.
Reviewer: N. G. Macleod
ISBN: 978 0 85318 549 9