21 December 2007

Solid information, good images, dry writing

The Brotherhood: Inside the Secret World of the Freemasons
Tom Dedopolus
Thunder's Mouth Press, 2005

I am petitioning for initiation into the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Illinois, and so I wanted to read something reputable (and short) on the history and practices of Freemasonry. This new book (published in spring 2006), written by the grandson of a 33rd degree Master Mason, does an admirable job of providing solid information about the history of Freemasonry (which he traces back to the 14th century), its influence in the Enlightenment and role in the creation of modernity, and its structure. Dedopulos also describes the three degrees of the Blue Lodge in some detail and relates these details to the quest for personal transformation and spiritual illumination, while stressing repeatedly that Freemasonry is not a religious organization or belief system. Finally, he throws a few bones to those of us interested in the speculative, esoteric side of Freemasonry, by pointing out possible connections to the Knights Templar and Kabbalah. The prose is fairly leaden, unfortunately, but this is mitigated against by the fantastic nature of the material and by copious illustrations (they occupy about 50% of each page spread).

(This review was originally written on August 6, 2006.)

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