The White Elephant: A Holiday Thriller

The White Elephant: A Holiday Thriller by John Christian Abrahamson
Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform on March 17th 2015
Pages: 124
Goodreads

A holiday party takes an unexpected turn after an anonymous gift surfaces during the white elephant exchange. The contents from the mysterious package trigger events that catapult Thom Bailey into an exciting thrill packed adventure that unlocks incredible secrets linked to his past. 100% of Royalties benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Like a good mystery? One that involves Masonry? Here you go: The White Elephant: A Holiday Thriller (The Thom Bailey Chronicles Book 1) by John Abrahamson is short (125 pages with big type) and will leave you hanging at the end. It is, though, the introduction to a series that looks to be a pretty fun ride. It’s only $3 for Kindle so it’s hard to go wrong. I’m waiting impatiently for the next book!

The Initiatory Path in Fairy Tales

The Initiatory Path in Fairy Tales: The Alchemical Secrets of Mother Goose by Bernard Roger
Published by Inner Traditions on June 21st 2015
Pages: 320
Goodreads

Hidden within age-old classic stories lie the hermetic teachings of alchemy and Freemasonry
• Explains how the stages of the Great Work are encoded in both little known and popular stories such as Cinderella, Snow White, and Little Red Riding Hood
• Reveals the connection between Mother Goose and important esoteric symbols of the Western Mystery tradition
• Demonstrates the ancient lineage of these stories and how they originated as the trigger to push humanity toward higher levels of consciousness
In his Mystery of the Cathedrals, the great alchemist Fulcanelli revealed the teachings of the hermetic art encoded in the sculpture and stained glass of the great cathedrals of Europe. What he did for churches, his disciple Bernard Roger does here for fairy tales.
Through exhaustive analysis of the stories collected by the Brothers Grimm, Perrault, and others, Roger demonstrates how hermetic ideas, especially those embodied in alchemy and Freemasonry, can be found in fairy tales, including such popular stories as Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Little Red Riding Hood as well as the tales attributed to “Mother Goose.” The goose has long been an important esoteric symbol in the Western Mystery tradition. The stories told under the aegis of Mother Goose carry these symbols and secrets, concealed in what hermetic adepts have long called “the language of the birds.”
Drawing upon the original versions of fairy tales, not the sanitized accounts made into children’s movies, the author reveals how the tales illustrate each stage of the Great Work and the alchemical iterations required to achieve them. He shows how the common motif of a hero or heroine sent in search of a rare object by a sovereign before their wishes can be granted is analogous to the Masonic quest for the lost tomb of Hiram or the alchemist’s search for the fire needed to perform the Great Work. He also reveals how the hero is always aided by a green bird, which embodies the hermetic understanding of the seed and the fruit.
By unveiling the secret teachings within fairy tales, Roger demonstrates the truly ancient lineage of these initiatory stories and how they originated as the trigger to push humanity toward higher levels of consciousness.

Some of you enjoy being alerted to interesting books dealing with esoteric topics. Even for those far from wellversed in this area, reading opens up many unique avenues of thought as they apply to our ritual. With the beguiling title of The Initiatory Path in Fairy Tales: The Alchemical Secrets of Mother Goose, author Bernard Roger claims “Hidden within age-old classic stories lie the hermetic teachings of alchemy and Freemasonry.” Some of you will say this is all ‘hoohey’ while others may look deeply and see that there are many connections to the allegorical tales of our childhood and Masonic ritual today. It’s enlightening if read with an open mind!

Millennial Apprentices

Millennial Apprentices Published by Samuel Friedman on January 1st 2016
Goodreads

Millennial Apprentices: The Next Revolution in Freemasonry is a book which will (or should) command your attention. Most Masons in Maine today are not of the Millennial generation and, some would suggest, don’t have a clue as to how and why they’re different from themselves. Bro. Samuel Friedman explains and it’s worthwhile paying attention. If we care at all about Freemasonry, we need to know how this new generation is looking at us and how we’re looking to them. Going back a decade, the generational ‘gap’ for Masonry was being talked about. It’s now up to us to decide if we want Freemasonry to be alive and vibrant for another 300 years or to end soon. Read this book – and think about the consequences.

 

Angel of Bataan

Angel of Bataan by Walter Macdougall
Published by Down East Books on April 22nd 2015
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Military
Pages: 218
Goodreads

Those who’ve had the privilege of hearing our own Past Grand Master Walter M. Macdougall speak invariably come away impressed feeling that they’ve somehow learned a life lesson. Whether it’s the story of a Maine railroad or the how Masons laid out the map of Maine, Bro. Macdougall’s books have been truly enjoyable. He’s got yet another book and Angel of Bataan is certainly worth reading. Alice Zwicker grew up in Brownville and went on to become a World War II nurse. She was, in fact, the only service woman from Maine to be a prisoner of the enemy in either of the two World Wars and she survived the hor­rors of war in the Philippines. Having served there with the US Navy, I’d heard the stories of and visited all of the loca­tions in the book and knew much of the trials those prisoners endured. Walter has brought a remarkable woman’s story to life and, as with his talks, he leaves us with something to long remember: how, for Alice, the terrible legacy of war did not end with her liberation from internment camp, or even with her coming home. When her victory finally arrived it was achieved in her own soul. A very readable book and one I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy.

Short Talk Bulletins

Never find the time to just sit and read? Audiobooks can help: they’ve come a long way since the days of cassette tape recorders and now, with any smartphone, you can listen to some great material. Even Masonic-related works are starting to find their way into this arena thanks to Brethren such as our own Michael A. Smith of Arundel Lodge. Recently Bro. Smith recorded a true classic, Short Talks on Masonry by Joseph Fort Newton. It’s a great audiobook for your first (or 500th). Books such as this are inexpensive and it’s great to listen to something other than your usual Reggae music while you’re driving somewhere. Stop, start, replay – you need to try this! You can find this and more at Amazon.com or Audible.com. In addition, Bro. Smith is working with the Masonic Service Association of North America to record ALL of their Short Talk Bulletins and will be offering them at a minimal subscription price with part of the proceeds going to the MSANA. More an­nouncements on this to follow. You know, we’ve got some VERY talented Masons here in the Pine Tree State.

Learn to Subdue Your Passions

Learn to Subdue Your Passions: A Guide for Modern Living by Marcus Hammonds
Published by Lulu.com on January 4th 2014
Genres: General, Philosophy
Pages: 69
Goodreads

This book reveals what "the passions" are, how they manifest themselves in modern life, and how we can better manage them.

Several months ago I was contacted by Bro. Marcus Hammonds who asked if I would review his new book, Learn to Subdue Your Passions: A Guide for Modern Liv­ing. Looking at the chapter headings, I’ll admit to being ap­prehensive. Inappropriately pre-judg­ing, I suspected that this was going to be just another ‘holier than thou’ screed against those who didn’t meet a partic­ular standard. Quite the contrary: Bro. Hammonds has done a LOT of think­ing about the various ways we succumb to temptation daily. He doesn’t preach to you but rather offers practical and constructive suggestions as to how we can all be better. It’s deceptively simple to ignore our obligations or to concoct excuses for violating them. This book will make you think the next time you’re tempted to wander off the path.

Wilmshurst Revisited

Wilmshurst Revisited: The Meaning of Masonry by Michael Oliver
on January 1st 1970
Goodreads

Many of our newer members tell me they enjoy the thoughtful work of W. L. Wilmshurst. You may recall I men­tioned him in the last Bookshelf. Now there’s a ‘updated’ version of his seminal work published originally in 1922 but it’s only available as a Kindle book so for those who like WLW and have never read electronically, here’s your motivation to jump forward. The author writes that Wilmshurst Revisited has been in his mind since he first read it in 1966 (That’s a LOT of planning!!!) and I think it shows. Bro. Michael Oliver is to be commended for his thoughtfullness and for making Wilmshurst much more accessible to today’s readers.

 

Neighborhood Heroes

Neighborhood Heroes by Morgan Rielly
Published by Down East Books on May 1st 2014
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Military, History, World War II
Pages: 180
Goodreads

Inspired by the old African proverb: "When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground," high-school student Morgan Reilly sought to preserve as many Maine libraries as he could by interviewing men and women from Maine who served in World War II and preserving their stories. All of these veterans taught him something, too, not just about how to fight a war, but how to live a life. They were never preachy, never full of themselves. Each of them knew they had participated in something great and special, but none of them thought that they, themselves, were great or special. There was Fred Collins, the sixteen-year-old Marine who used his Boy Scout training to clip a wounded soldier's chest together using safety pins from machine gun bandoliers while under withering fire on Iwo Jima. Or Inex Louise Roney, who served as a gunnery instructor for the Marines, hoping she could end the war sooner and bring her brother home. Or Harold Lewis, who held onto hope despite being shot down out of the sky, nearly free-falling to his death, and spending four months behind enemy lines in Italy. Or jean Marc Desjardins, whose near-death experiences defusing German bombs with his buddy Puddinghead, taught Reilly the value of a good friend.

Talk about inspiration: Neighborhood Heroes – Life Lessons from Maine’s Greatest Generation by Morgan Rielly is a book you MUST buy! Normally I encourage library borrowing (for some obvious reasons) but in this case, you’d be helping to encourage the writing career of a young man who wrote this as a Westbrook High School Senior. Some great stories that even those of us closer to that gen­eration might not have known about. On the cover it says there’s an old Af­rican proverb: “When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.” In our membership we have SO many great li­braries: why aren’t we doing something to preserve them? And while not all of those mentioned in this book are Ma­sons, a quick check showed that the first two were…. Think about it Brethren: buy this book and then do something to help preserve those libraries. We’ve got lots of electronic space at Grand Lodge if you’re interested!

The Working Tools of Leadership

The Working Tools of Leadership: Applying the Teachings of Freemasonry by Michael J. Kurcab, Michael Clevenger
on January 1st 1970
Goodreads

While trying to keep up with every Masonic-relat­ed book, sometimes one is missed so I’m thankful when a Brother takes the time to alert me to something I (and your Grand Lodge Library) might want to consider. (Hat tip to our DGM!) In this case, it’s The Working Tools of Leadership – Apply­ing the Teachings of Freemasonry by Michael J. Kurcab. Using a technique apparently pushed by self-publishing outlets to ‘bulk-up’ a book’s size, 40% of its 115 pages are simply blank lines on which to take notes. (I take mine on my smart-devices: what about you?) At first too, I thought it was a just a book of soupy personal reminiscing but reading along, found that there were lots of lessons to be learned here – and they apply to both brand new and seasoned Masons as well. I wish Bro. Kurcab had used line justification and hyphenation (which would have made the book even smaller) but might have also prompted even more thoughtful writing, something from which we might all benefit. I look forward to other works from this author and hope to see them soon.

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
Goodreads

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!