The Aroostook War of 1839

The Aroostook War of 1839 by Gary Campbell
Published by Goose Lane Editions on March 19th 2013
Pages: 160

A little-known episode in North America's history, the 1839 Aroostook War was an undeclared war with no actual fighting. It had its roots in the 1793 Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolutionary War but left the border of Maine (then part of Massachusetts) and British North America unsettled, and in the War of 1812, when parts of northern Maine were occupied by Britain. Fearing a negotiated border would negatively affect their claim for the disputed territory, Maine occupied the Aroostook River valley in early 1839, British regulars, New Brunswick militia, and Maine militia were then deployed in the dead of winter, as the kindling was laid for a third major Anglo-American conflagration. Eventually, cooler heads prevailed, although they did not deter a number of skirmishes between the Maine Land Agent posses and a loosely organized group of New Brunswick lumbermen.
A complex story of friction, greed, land grabs, and rivalry, this border dispute which nearly resulted in war was eventually settled by the Ashburton-Webster Treaty of 1842 and told by Campbell in The Aroostook War of 1839.

In the Maine Mason Magazine, the Grand Librarian wrote: “Part of Maine’s past is the Aroostook War (sometimes, believe it or not, called the ‘Pork and Beans War’) which arose from border disputes with Canada. It was a bloodless confrontation that also had Masonic connotations as lodges on  both sides of the still undefined border sought to add to their membership,  much to the chagrin of their ‘brothers’  who saw it as poaching. Learn more with The Aroostook War of 1839 by Gary Campbell and others like it in YOUR Grand Lodge Library! Extra points to the Brother who can identify the GM who wrote about this conflict.”


The Book Thieves

The Book Thieves: The Nazi Looting of Europe's Libraries and the Race to Return a Literary Inheritance by Anders Rydell, Henning Koch
Published by Viking on February 7th 2017
Pages: 384

For readers of The Monuments Men and The Hare with Amber Eyes, the story of the Nazis' systematic pillaging of Europe's libraries, and the small team of heroic librarians now working to return the stolen books to their rightful owners. While the Nazi party was being condemned by much of the world for burning books, they were already hard at work perpetrating an even greater literary crime. Through extensive new research that included records saved by the MonumentsMen themselves Anders Rydell tells the untold story of Nazi book theft, as he himself joins the effort to return the stolen books. When the Nazi soldiers ransacked Europe's libraries and bookshops, large and small, the books they stole were not burned. Instead, the Nazis began to compile a library of their own that they could use to wage an intellectual war on literature and history. In this secret war, the libraries of Jews, Communists, Liberal politicians, LGBT activists, Catholics, Freemasons, and many other opposition groups were appropriated for Nazi research, and used as an intellectual weapon against their owners. But when the war was over, most of the books were never returned. Instead many found their way into the public library system, where they remain to this day. Now, Rydell finds himself entrusted with one of these stolen volumes, setting out to return it to its rightful owner. It was passed to him by the small team of heroic librarians who have begun the monumental task of combing through Berlin's public libraries to identify the looted books and reunite them with the families of their original owners. For those who lost relatives in the Holocaust, these books are often the only remaining possession of their relatives they have ever held. And as Rydell travels to return the volume he was given, he shows just how much a single book can mean to those who own it."

Most of us know of the book burnings that occurred during  the Nazi era side by side with the concentration camp  horrors. More than just burnings occurred, though: hundreds  of thousands of books owned by  those in the several persecuted groups  (Jews, Freemasons and others) were  spirited off to various venues for study  by Nazi henchmen. A new book, The  Book Thieves by Anders Rydell, tells the  story of how these books were systematically  stolen from libraries and homes  throughout Europe – including many  Grand and local lodge libraries. Today, a small group of dedicated  librarians are working dilligently to restore these to  their rightful owners, a Herculean task considering the passage  of time and the death of so many. This is a book which  will make you angry, sympathetic, and frustrated at how our  collections were mistreated.



A word from the Grand Librarian

So many lodges in Maine now  support ‘Bikes for Books’. About  1,500 bikes and helmets will be  given to youngsters this year but  that’s nothing to the thousands  more who’ll become life-long  readers and learners, bettering  our society! Your lodges and the Maine Masonic Charitable  Foundation can be rightfully proud of this wonderful work!

BUT despite the tremendous efforts  made for our youth, few Masons themselves  read. Am I wrong? How many  books have YOU, my Brother, read this  past year? And yet there’s SO much of  interest, even if you’re not a self-professed  reader. Consider what you’ve  missed: the gold swindle in Lubec, the  gangland shooting in Bangor, a bank  robbery in Mars Hill, what a Brother Maine Game Warden  encountered in his years of service, and  hundreds of other works about things  that happened (or could have) right in  your area in the past? (In some cases  even, the future!) There are hundreds  of books, both fiction and non, about  things that could surely tweak your curiosity.  From the creation of Moxie on to  the Nazis landing in Bar Harbor, there’s  fascination galore. And if you’ve got a phone or tablet which  allows programs (those things called  ‘apps’), you can have all of these stories  in your pocket: a perfect alternative to  when you get tired of waiting in the  parking lot with that little blue book in  your hand! (Every Mason understands  that reference for sure….) If you want to  learn more about how to enhance your  reading, let’s talk. There’s a world out  there just waiting for you, one that’s constantly expanding.

The Craft Unmasked

The Craft Unmasked - The Uncommon Origin of Freemasonry and its Practice by John S. Nagy
on January 1st 1970

It’s inappropriate for a reviewer to be blathering about  books he’s not read but I’ll make this one exception. Arriving  too late for me to finish it is ‘Coach’ John Nagy’s  The Craft Unmasked -The Uncommon Origin of Freemasonry  and its Practice. Some will remember  Bro. Nagy from a Maine Masonic College  program several years ago. How I  missed this book for the past two years, I  don’t know. There’s lots and lots of good  stuff here indeed.

Brought to Light

Brought to Light: Contemporary Freemasonry, Meaning, and Society by J Scott Kenney
Published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press on April 2nd 2016
Pages: 320

Secret societies are becoming increasingly controversial--thrust into public awareness by popular books, films, the Internet, and a host of recent documentaries. In academia, this exposure finds a parallel in the proliferation of research, institutes, and conferences. Yet the media depictions tend to be caricatures, a playing to pervasive stereotypes for public consumption, while the academic stress historical and philological matters. Indeed, to the extent a sociological focus exists, it largely emphasizes the roles these groups played in social history. And for the societies' members themselves, there has been a paucity of work on the contemporary meaning of these groups--a neglect made mystifying by the vast social changes that have taken place over the past century. In this study, and for the first time by any scholar, Kenney moves beyond history and applies the methods and theoretical tools of contemporary sociology to study the lived world of freemasons in today's society.
To provide a clear portrait of the patterned experiences of contemporary freemasons and the issues faced by "the Craft" today, Kenney draws on qualitative data from three primary sources: (1) extensive interviews with 121 contemporary freemasons in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia; (2) video footage shot for a feature film on contemporary freemasonry; and (3) his observations and experiences in nearly fifteen years as a freemason. Brought to Light provides a highly original contribution to sociology, Masonic scholarship, and the social sciences generally.

Brought to Light: Contemporary Freemasonry,  Meaning, and Society by J.  Scott Kenney addresses many of the  problems our organization and its members  face today. It’s academic yet very  approachable, with facts, figures, a great  bibliography for further study and importantly  some suggestions for addressing  those things we find concerning in  our lodges and the world around us. You may not fully agree  with the responses to Bro. Kinney’s surveys but after reading  this book, it’ll be awfully hard to keep holding every preconceived  notion of what’s right and wrong about it all.

Contemplative Masonry

Contemplative Masonry by C R Dunning Jr
Published by Stone Guild Publishing on November 1st 2016

Part of the work that has become Contemplative Masonry first appeared on the internet in 2000 as an anonymously authored guide to the exploration of Freemasonry through contemplative practices like prayer, meditation, breath work, chanting, and visualization. Sixteen years later, the original author of that material, C.R. "Chuck" Dunning, Jr., has come forward with a substantially expanded edition for those seeking to utilize Masonic symbolism and teachings in a way that is practical, accessible, inspiring, and profoundly transformative. Contemplative Masonry is a much-needed resource for Masons seeking to undertake the challenging and rewarding work of deep self-knowledge and self-improvement. Brother Dunning provides Freemasons with a unique system of practices derived directly from the Degrees of Craft Masonry, without reliance upon other religious, spiritual, or esoteric traditions. He also shares the valuable wisdom and insights that come from decades of personal experience with contemplative practices. "I would heartily recommend this book to any Mason who has wondered how he might engage more deeply with the Craft and enhance his quest for light. Brother Dunning has mapped out a practical approach to what he terms contemplative Masonry, which can be practiced by any brother, regardless of his religion or spiritual beliefs. I know of few Masons better qualified to serve as a guide to a specifically Masonic path of spiritual growth." - Jay Kinney, 33, author of The Masonic Myth and editor of The Inner West "Chuck Dunning takes us on a wonderful and enlightening journey of what has to occur in a man's body, mind, and spirit for him to actually improve himself in Masonry. He discusses the nature of inner work in Freemasonry, and he is eminently qualified to do so. He enlightens us with his wisdom and offers us a number of exercises which can lead us to the true treasure of manhood. This book is a must read for anyone wanting to know what is hidden in the language of Freemasonry." - Robert G. Davis, 33 G.C., author of The Mason's Words and Understanding Manhood in America

Contemplative Masonry: Basic Applications of Mindfulness, Meditation, and Imagery for the Craft (Revised & Expanded Edition) by C. R. Dunning,  Jr. Its subtitle will alert the prospective reader that this  isn’t just a book of ‘reading’ but rather, it  has suggested exercises for the mind and  body, grounded in the ritual and teachings  of Freemasonry. those looking for  a ‘workbook’ will likely find this intriguing  and it’s FAR better than a couple of  other works along these lines in the past.  If you’re the type of reader who likes activity-oriented learning with triggers to help stimulate your mind, this may well be the book for you. Others would likely and it a waste of time. Me? I’m warming up to it actually!


Casting Light: A Journey Through Craft Masonry and Beyond

Casting Light by Jason Eddy
Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform on July 9th 2016
Pages: 126

Symbolism, poetry, and prose. Three approaches to not only unlocking the profound meaning behind the degrees of Freemasonry, but to navigating the Craft itself as a seeker of something more. There are divisions among those holding the title of Freemason regarding what Freemasonry is really all about. This book is an attempt to not only clarify the purpose of our Noble Craft, but to provide perspective on how to best tackle the issues that prevent so many from fulfilling that purpose. Proceed with an open mind...proceed with humility...and allow the journey of a young Master Mason to cast light upon your own path as you seek to find what has been sought since time immemorial...Enlightenment.

For me, it’s both a blessing and a curse to find great new  books. Self-publishing brings more books to market faster  and although there’s a fair amount of chaff amongst the  wheat, there are often true gems. One such work is Casting  Light: A Journey Through Craft Masonry and Beyond by  Bro. Jason Eddy. Personal and reflective,  there’s much to learn and much to be  gained from this small book. Included  are some of his poems to help bring  futher light to the reader. The Library  also has his book Musings Along the  Road Less Taken Vol. I, described as  “…a poetic journey through the mind of  a dreamer, philosopher, and esotericist.  It contains inspirational and deeply contemplative poems….”  Both are well worth reading but the former really does ‘speak  to’ so many things in Masonry and those joining that it would  certainly benefit the new seeker as well as the old cynic.  Here’s something both old AND new: published in November,  a (small) portion of this work actually was posted  anonymously on the web some 16 years ago.

Macoy’s Modern Worshipful Master’s Assistant

Macoy’s Modern Worshipful  Master’s AssistantMacoy’s Modern Worshipful Master’s Assistant on 2016
Pages: 225

For over a century, helpful brothers  would give a newly installed lodge  Master a copy of Macoy’s Worshipful  Master’s Assistant, too often far after  the time when it should have been read.  Now, though, you should give the newly  elected Junior Warden his personal  copy of Macoy’s Modern Worshipful  Master’s Assistant, edited and brought  into the current age by Michael A. Halleran. It’s a very well written  revision by a (now) PGM who, as an attorney, is  acutely aware of the many inter-jurisdiction variations in the  practice of our Craft . He has carefully and throughfully provided  a wealth of guidance to those headed towards the East. This is *truly* a work that every lodge should have available.  Imagine: information on handling the lodge’s social media,  hints about welcoming visiting Masons, realities of planning  a budget and so much more. It’s timely and relevant –


When Books Went To War

When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on December 2nd 2014
Pages: 267

When America entered World War II in 1941, we faced an enemy that had banned and burned over 100 million books and caused fearful citizens to hide or destroy many more. Outraged librarians launched a campaign to send free books to American troops and gathered 20 million hardcover donations. In 1943, the War Department and the publishing industry stepped in with an extraordinary program: 120 million small, lightweight paperbacks, for troops to carry in their pockets and their rucksacks, in every theater of war.
Comprising 1,200 different titles of every imaginable type, these paperbacks were beloved by the troops and are still fondly remembered today. Soldiers read them while waiting to land at Normandy; in hellish trenches in the midst of battles in the Pacific; in field hospitals; and on long bombing flights. They wrote to the authors, many of whom responded to every letter. They helped rescue The Great Gatsby from obscurity. They made Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, into a national icon. When Books Went to War is an inspiring story for history buffs and book lovers alike.

At a meeting of Maine State Librarians, When Books Went To War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning was mentioned enthusiastically by several participants. I now concur! Whether you lived through that time or came along afterwards, you’ll be both surprised and inspired by this almost total ‘behind the scenes’ effort by librarians to keep up the morale. It was fascinating too seeing what a contrast it was to the way Hitler handled troops’ reading. Motivational and inspiring indeed! Brethren: the Maine State Library is collecting material on the Border Wars. Got something to share? Let me know!

Meditations on Masonic Symbolism

Meditations on Masonic Symbolism by John R. Heisner
Published by PublishAmerica on 2006-07
Genres: Religion, Meditations
Pages: 158

Freemasonry has often been described as a secret society, owing to the fact that it uses certain symbols to instruct upon a deeper knowledge about mankind's relationship with God. The variety of charities supported by this ancient fraternity comprised of millions of men and women are well known and easily recognizable. Children's hospitals are operated by Shriners throughout the world. Speech therapy centers, educational grants, eye care foundations and homes for the aged are funded and operated by Scottish Rite Masons, Knights Templar and Grand Lodges everywhere they are situated. There is nothing secret about Freemasonry's love for humanity. Among the very few secrets it does maintain-the ancient knowledge about mankind's relationship to God, concealed with such recognizable Masonic symbols as the Square and Compass-is fully explained in Meditations on Masonic Symbolism.

Is reading about Masonic symbolism something you enjoy? Want a book that’s both easy and difficult? (? – You’ll see!!!) You’d be hard pressed to find something better than Meditations on Masonic Symbolism by John R. Heisner. What’s also impressive is that Wor. Bro. Heisner wrote these essays as part of his ‘responsibility’ as Master. Ah, that we all should be so dedicated…. This is also a book which will leave you wanting more: he’s also published Advanced Meditations on Masonic Symbolism which will fill that desire. Certainly there’s no particular right or wrong as to how we interpret the many symbols of the Craft, this book will help you appreciate some of the more ‘hidden meanings’.