A Guide to Modern Freemason­ry

A Guide to Modern Freemasonry by Robert E. Burtt
Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform on November 20th 2014
Pages: 156

Ever since the Fraternity made its modern public appearance in 1717, printing presses have produced a torrent of writings dealing with every imaginable aspect of this group. The current state of affairs illustrates my excuse, if you will, for writing this short work. There is too much information about Freemasonry in print. All of this overload just makes a confusing and complex subject even more perplexing for the interested reader. What is needed is a short, easily understood overview of the fascinating world of the Freemasons. It is my belief that many casual laypersons who wish to learn a little about Freemasonry want just that: to learn a little about the Craft. They don't want to embark upon an extensive investigation involving hundreds of pages. They simply want a quick overview of the Fraternity and perhaps get the answers to a few basic questions. After satisfying their curiosity, they wish to move on. It is with this audience in mind that I have decided to pen this little work. The title is meant to be literal. This is a simple, short introduction to a very complex phenomenon. The book closes with a meditation on the ultimate purpose of Freemasonry and its value, both to the individual, and to society as a whole. Other books and areas of research are recommended for the casual reader who might want to explore "The Brotherhood" further.

There are few short, readable yet comprehensive books which can provide our newer members with infor­mation they crave. I’ve just found a great one – by accident while perus­ing Amazon’s new books. Bro. Robert Burtt’s A Guide to Modern Freemason­ry is a perfect gift for the new member, providing ‘just enough’ information on nearly all facets of the Craft from officer duties on through anti-Masonry. It cov­ers those things that we all encounter as Masons, usually sooner rather than later. It’s contempo­rary in thought and thus a great book for a spouse to pick up as well. Let me be clear: that I’m thanked in the book’s preface is not the reason for this review. Honestly! In fact, I didn’t even know the book was being written much less that I would have been mentioned. It is, simply, a great read and I’d encourage every lodge to consider this as a gift for their new members. I won’t tell you what Bro. Burtt has men­tioned to me as his next work but it’s exciting and will sure be worth it based on what we’ve seen so far. Stay tuned!

The Meaning of Masonry

The Meaning of MasonryThe Meaning of Masonry, Revised Edition by W. L. Wilmshurst
Published by PLUMBSTONE on November 1st 2007
Genres: General, Religion, Philosophy, Social Science, Freemasonry & Secret Societies
Pages: 192

W.L. Wilmshurst's powerful vision of the rites and rituals of Freemasonry as a spiritual philosophy begins with this book. Here, Masonry is presented as "a sacramental system," represented not only by the ceremonies as experienced in theinitiations, but also by an internal and mystical side, hidden behind the visible symbolism, "available only to the Mason who has learned to use his spiritual imagination and who can appreciate the reality that lies behind the veil." This new, revised edition features a more readable modern typeface, and is enriched with extensive notes to make many of its points more accessible for both British and American students of Freemasonry. Prominent Masonic author Robert G. Davis calls this book "An easy-to-read and gratifying work which affirms Wilmshurst's interpretation: that the progressive lessons ofCraft Masonry are nothing less than the spiritual journey ofthe psyche toward full realization."

I never imagined that I’d be writ­ing about a book first published in 1922 but it really is necessary due to the continued interest it elicits. The Meaning of Masonry by W. L. Wilmshurst is a true clas­sic which has stood the test of time and ‘speaks’ to today’s new Masons with much the same intensity as it did when originally published. A true ‘Masonic Mystic’, Wilmshurst provides an interpretation of Masonic philosophy which stimulates and mo­tivates. Although written for English Masons, any Brother could relate to the thoughts and interpretations and it’s a book you really should read. There’s an excellent revised and expanded new (2007) edition available but it’s also easily found in its original format in numerous places online including the great source for free out-of-copyright works, Google Books.


Education by Degrees

Education by Degrees: Masonic Notes by Raymond Apple
Published by Authorhouse on September 17th 2012
Pages: 86

The highly readable chapters of this book delve into the history, symbolism and teachings of Freemasonry, enlivened with persona reminiscences and humour.

Education by Degrees – Masonic Notes by Raymond Apple is a small, simple book which consists of short but profound essays. An Australian Rabbi, Brother Apple kicks more than a couple of sacred cows, but does so in a thoughtful and contemplative way. While I altogether disagreed with his thoughts on a couple of things, others easily could propel any Mason to positive action. Want some motivation? Try this book!

Little Lodges on the Prairie

Little Lodges on the Prairie by Teresa Lynn
Published by Tranquility Press on June 8th 2014
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Historical, Literary, Social Science, Freemasonry & Secret Societies
Pages: 318

The Little House on the Prairie books and TV show have inspired generations, but few people know the history of the Ingalls family in Freemasonry.
Discover new stories about Laura Ingalls Wilder in Little Lodges on the Prairie: Freemasonry & Laura Ingalls Wilder, the first book to comprehensively document the role Masonry and the Eastern Star played in the lives of this iconic American family.
A lively and informative look at this lesser-known aspect of Laura’s life, including documents which have rarely been seen and never before been published, Little Lodges on the Prairie gives readers an intriguing new and unique perspective on Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family.

Most readers of the Maine Mason Magazine will re­member the television series Little House on the Prarie derived from the book series of the same name by Laura Ingalls Wilder. In a new and excellent book, Teresa Lynn recounts the importance of Freema­sonry to Wilder and her family. Fur­ther, she shows the important contri­butions it made to the many pioneers in the midwest, done in a way which will make you proud of your own membership. Beginning with a history of Freemasonry it­self, Little Lodges on the Prairie: Freemasonry & Laura Ingalls Wilder covers the trials and tribulations of those in a new and barren land, often sustained by the principles of our Order. It’s a work of love by someone who deeply ap­preciates our fraternal ties, found similarly in her own fam­ily. This would be a great book to curl up with on a snowy winter evening and would also make a superb gift for your favorite Eastern Star member.


Third Degree: Lead­ership, Project Management & Old-School Masonry

Third Degree: Leadership, Project Management and Old School Masonry by John R. Hill Jr.
Published by Hill Communication Services on June 11th 2014
Pages: 132

A book for Masons and Non-Masons. Third Degree: Leadership, Project Management & Old School Masonry in part tells the story of a senior executive's leadership philosophy that he shares with a Brother as he joins masonry the old fashion way - by study and the third degree. The book covers 15 leadership attributes, 12 leadership topics and 15 project management tools. The exploration of leadership, project management and masonry will give the reader methods and ideas for enhancing their leader skills and will support everyone efforts toward continued self-improvement.

A couple of years ago I was asked to propose ideas for a major Masonic educational program. My suggestion was to do a SWOT Analysis of Freema­sonry. Using this well-established busi­ness process, attendees would examine Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, the results of which could help them better position their lodge for the future. Apparently no one could quite understand the concept and the idea was ignored. Now comes New York Mason John R. Hill, Jr. who, rather than simply slap­ping business processes onto Masonry, has actually thought about how we could benefit from them so we can move from where we are …to a better place. In Third Degree: Lead­ership, Project Management & Old-School Masonry he has explained a number of these methodologies which could absolutely help any Masonic body at whatever level understand and redefine their way of ‘doing business’, while concentrating on our most important asset: the MEMBERS. From servant-leadership to Pareto Charts, there’s LOTS here and I encourage everyone who cares about Masonry to consider this book.