Volume LIIIAugust 2006Number 3

A New Book You Will Want to Have...
By Bro. Charles S. Canning, Academy of Masonic Knowledge

A Review of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry
by S. Brent Morris, Ph.D., 33º
Published by Alpha, a member of the Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
2006, $18.95

Brother S. Brent Morris is no stranger to Pennsylvania Masons. He was one of the presenters at the Academy of Masonic Knowledge several years ago and a personal friend of a number of us. He is also one of the nation's leading Masonic scholars. It was my pleasure to receive a complimentary copy of this new book. It is more than a fundamental book on Freemasonry, as it goes well beyond that scope. It is, however, a book every Master Mason could well use as a reference and guide and will also be informative to the general public.

Dr. Morris approaches the reader with a very intelligent presentation that builds on an understanding of logical elements in order to grasp the more complex issues. As the foreword by historian Steven Bullock confirms, the author has a knack for simplifying the complex and clearly distinguishing fact from fiction: "he explains it with clarity, patience and gentle good humor."

Using easily understood building blocks, Bro. Morris gives the reader a clear view of the development of Freemasonry in America. As a Pennsylvania Mason, it was exciting to read of our own jurisdiction's role in the initial formation of organized Freemasonry. The reader may be assured that what is stated as fact is, in fact, fact and can be documented. Any speculation is clearly stated as such. It is indeed refreshing to be assured that so complex a subject is reported in the most honest fashion.

There are, however, some chapters that can be confusing to Pennsylvania Masons. One needs to understand that our Pennsylvania ritual is quite different from that of other jurisdictions. The layout of the lodge room and the stations of the officers will not correspond. Likewise, the Masonic symbols, covered in Chapter 17, will not be entirely familiar to us.

At the end of each chapter, Dr. Morris provides a quick summary of points, titled "The Least You Need to Know." There are few texts on Freemasonry that can be classified as classics: "The Builders" by Newton, "House Undivided" by Roberts, and "Born in Blood" by Robinson. This text may well be listed among them.

The book is available through the Supreme Council, 33º, S.J., 1733 16th St., N.W., Washington, DC 20009, http://www.srmason-sj.org/acatalog/ and major bookstores. You may also borrow it from The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania.

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