Volume LIIINovember 2006Number 4

Masonic Book Reviews

A Masonic Book Review to Peruse
by Cathy Giaimo, Assistant Librarian, The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania

Throughout its long history, Freemasonry has attracted many men: the famous, the infamous and the ordinary. Its philosophy has helped to shape these men and their outlook on life, their attitude toward their Masonic brothers, their neighbors and their country. One particular book added to the library looks at the influence Freemasonry has had on the formation of this country and on men, individually.

"Born in Brotherhood: Revelations about America's Revolution Leaders" by Bro. James E. McNabney is a dramatization of the years leading up to the American Revolution and the philosophical influence Freemasonry had on its members and on the formation of our government. Bro. McNabney, himself a Mason for 38 years, desires to remind Americans of some of the Masonic principles that this country was founded upon and have forgotten of late. Without revealing the "true secrets" of Freemasonry, Bro. McNabney creatively recounts the vows taken by Bros. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and others, explaining their significance and influence on these men and the actions they took as the historic events unfolded around them.

For books on history, Freemasonry and more, please visit the Circulating Library at www.pagrandlodge.org, or call the Librarian at (800) 462-0430, ext. 1933.

Interesting Reading & Reference...
By Bro. Charles S. Canning, Academy of Masonic Knowledge
A review of "Out of the Shadows, the Emergence of Prince Hall Freemasonry in America: Over 225 Years of Endurance," by Alton G. Roundtree and Paul M. Bessel, published by KLR Publishing, LLC, Camp Springs, MD, 2006, $29.95. Also available for loan through the Grand Lodge Circulating Library.

This book isn't the "DaVinci Code." It's not a "one-sitting" reading. The mystery to be solved is in understanding the complex issues of regularity and recognition that existed for more than two centuries. If you've ever wondered why it took that long to have Prince Hall Grand Lodges recognized as legitimate Masonic organizations, this book will touch on all the complications with well-documented resources.

The authors review the jurisdictions in the United States and foreign countries, as to the views and rules held and reasons for recognition and non-recognition. The text is 453 pages and includes 16 appendices, followed by a glossary and an extensive bibliography.

The book is well worth the read to get a real perspective and understanding of basic issues that label lodges or Grand Lodges as recognized or clandestine. The discussion revolves around the history of Prince Hall Grand Lodges and other black Masonic Lodges and Grand Lodges and is presented in an objective and thoughtful manner.

The authors are to be congratulated on providing a general appreciation of Prince Hall Masonry and the issues that overshadowed its existence. Overshadowed by mainstream American culture, African-American Freemasonry existed in a separate world of Freemasonry. The text is a history of legitimacy regarding Prince Hall Lodges and Grand Lodges, as viewed by the white mainstream Grand Lodges. While Masonry is color blind, we find over two centuries of exception that explained nonrecognition.

As one reads about the National Grand Lodge and Compact Lodges, he is drawn into the shadows, where Roundtree and Bessel have directed a beam of light that reveals the hidden events and perspectives that overshadowed Negro, colored, black, Afro-American Freemasonry. It is a revelation that may lead us to discover a true Masonic brotherhood.

In researching for this book, Roundtree and Bessel bring a solid background of scholarship and Masonic activity in their respective Grand Lodges, Prince Hall and mainstream, in Washington, D.C. They have put together a comprehensive text on the history of African-American Masonry as viewed through the interpretation of regularity, recognition and exclusive territorial jurisdiction. Intertwined are the social circumstances of the past two centuries regarding segregation, racism and legislation that are also reflected in the proceedings of Grand Lodges.

The text answered, for me, a question I held for over 40 years, since I was made a Mason, as to why the "brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God" was exemplified in a segregated system of Masonry. "Out of the Shadows" should give every Mason a renewed view of our fraternity.

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