Freemasonry: An Introduction

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9781585428533: Freemasonry: An Introduction

An experienced Freemason and award-winning psychologist provides a precise and engaging exploration of the core meaning and practices of Freemasonry for the new generation of people interested in joining the order, and those who are simply curious in the wake of recent media coverage.

Entertaining books and movies often depict Freemasonry as a shadowy, mysterious, and possibly sinister organization, and the TV and magazine specials on Freemasonry that inevitably follow often leave us with more questions than answers.

Mark E. Koltko-Rivera, a practicing thirty-second-degree Mason, has created a simple, authoritative, and easy-to-understand introduction to the history, rites, and meaning of Freemasonry. It may be the single most reliable short guide to Masonry, written by a widely recognized psychologist and scholar of esoteric history.

Koltko-Rivera's trustworthy handbook explores all the basic issues around Masonry, like:

*What is Freemasonry, and what is its history?

*How does one become a Freemason?

*What are some of the most important Masonic symbols?

*What do Masons get from their involvement in Freemasonry? What changes does it make in their inner and outer lives?

*What is it like to participate in the initiatory rituals of Freemasonry?

*What are some of the great historical controversies and myths surrounding Freemasonry?

*How is Masonry relevant today?

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

From the Author:

Here is what makes this book different from many other introductions to Freemasonry.

Over the years, I've read many introductions to Masonry. I often come away feeling that I really haven't learned why someone would become a Freemason in the first place. So, I wrote a 15-page chapter, "Why Men Become Freemasons," where I go into the meaning of initiation, and ways that Masonry is a vehicle for self-development, a fellowship, a place of ritual, and a set of opportunities for service. I also describe the outer and inner experiences of being a Freemason in a 20-page chapter, "How Freemasonry Works."

Many introductions to the Fraternity either downplay or wildly overplay the matter of secrets and esoteric knowledge. The fact is, Freemasonry has both, and introductions to Masonry should give these matters careful consideration, especially since these interests are a major reason why many men these days are looking into the Fraternity. This is why I wrote about the meaning of Masonic secrecy in the modern world, and how men develop through Freemasonry.

Freemasonry conveys knowledge that is "esoteric" in that it is of unusual interest but is conveyed only to a specially initiated group. So, without giving any confidential knowledge away, I wrote about Freemasonry in connection with several esoteric topics: the initiatic tradition in ancient times; the ways in which the Temple built by Solomon is a symbol; the interest of 17th- and 18th-century Masons in topics like alchemy. I do not give credence to the unsupportable claims that some authors make, but I do not ignore the interests of early Masons in esoteric knowledge.

Another thing that has bothered me about many introductions to Freemasonry is that they superficially gloss over areas of controversy concerning the Fraternity. Yet, it is such controversies that often appear in the newspapers and on the Internet, leaving the public confused regarding what to think about Masonry. Therefore, I wrote a 29-page chapter, "Masonic Controversies," where I give a straightforward consideration of Masonry's stance toward women and African Americans; allegations about the famous 19th-century Masonic leader, Albert Pike, in which is his accused of being involved with the Knights of the Golden Circle, the Ku Klux Klan, and Satanism; and efforts in Great Britain aimed at requiring public registration of Freemasons in law enforcement, the judiciary, and the armed forces. I also wrote a 21-page chapter, "Anti-Masonry: Accusations Versus Truth."

In short, I packed a lot of material into a pocket-sized book, material that would be useful to the man interested in looking into Freemasonry, to family members who might continue our tradition, and to many a brother as well--all at a very affordable price. I deliberately wrote this book in such a format that it would be both useful and economical for Particular and Grand Lodges to make copies available to prospective candidates and new initiates alike. I wrote this book to put an affordable yet dignified book into the hands of potential candidates and new brothers.

My Masonic credentials: My mother lodge is Winter Park #239 F&AM in the Grand Lodge of Florida, F&AM. I am a member of the Orlando York Right Bodies and the Orlando Scottish Rite Bodies (SJ). Having now moved "back home," as it were, I am a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of New York City (NMJ), and am pursuing dual affiliation with a local Blue Lodge and the local York Rite Bodies. My articles have appeared in Heredom: The Transactions of the Scottish Rite Research Society, the Philalethes magazine, the Scottish Rite Journal, and Further Light (the Transactions of the Florida Lodge of Research), and are forthcoming in the Transactions of the American Lodge of Research, in New York City (the oldest functioning research lodge in the United States, and a lodge of which I am a member). In terms of scholarly credentials, I hold a doctorate in psychology from New York University; I am an elected Fellow of the American Psychological Association, and have won national awards for my scholarly work in the psychology of religion, and humanistic psychology.

--Mark E. Koltko-Rivera, Ph.D., M:.M:., 32°, K.T.

ANNOTATED TABLE OF CHAPTERS

INTRODUCTION
Who this book is for * Why I wrote it

1. FREEMASONRY: WHAT IT IS: Different perspectives on Masonry (social fellowship; place of ritual and symbolism; vehicle for spiritual growth) * What it is not (a religion; a path to power or status; a conspiracy) * "But what about the 'mysteries'?" * Masonic secrecy

2. WHY MEN BECOME FREEMASONS: Masonry as an initiatic tradition (what initiation is; initiation throughout history; initiation in Masonry; symbols and teachings) * A vehicle for self-development * Fellowship * Ritual * Service

3. HOW FREEMASONRY WORKS: An evening at Solomon's Lodge #987 * Affiliated groups (the Rites; groups for family members; "fun" groups) * Being a Mason: The inner experience (lifelong journey to light; walking uprightly before God and man; treating one other as brothers; behaving as a gentleman in society; service to community and society; upholding religious tolerance)

4. MASONIC SYMBOLISM: Square * Level * Plumb * Compasses * Square and Compasses * Altar, Volume of Sacred Law, and Temple built by Solomon * Letter G * More

5. HOW FREEMASONRY BEGAN: The initiatic tradition in ancient times * Medieval Knights Templar * Medieval stonemasons of Europe * Late Renaissance and early Enlightenment * Founding of first Grand Lodge * Masonry and the founding of the United States

6. MASONIC CONTROVERSIES: Women and Freemasonry (Masonry has a right to be a fraternity; Masonic-affiliated organizations involving women; alternative forms of Masonry) * African Americans and Masonry (reception of African Americans into the Lodge; recognition of Prince Hall lodges) * Albert Pike (rumors about him and the Knights of the Golden Circle, the Klan, and Satanism) * Violating Masonic civil rights in England

7. ANTI-MASONRY: ACCUSATIONS VERSUS TRUTHS: Masonry and religion in general * Accusations of devil worship * Masonry and Christianity in general * The occult * International conspiracy * Masonry and Roman Catholicism * Thoughts on anti-Masonry

8. FREEMASONRY IN FICTION: MYTH VERSUS REALITY: From Hell * The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen * The Da Vinci Code * National Treasure I & II * The Lost Symbol

9. HOW TO BECOME A FREEMASON: Establish eligibility * Find local lodge * Get to know some local lodge brothers * File petition * Meet with investigation committee * Undergo "trial of the ballot box" * Receive the degrees of Freemasonry * After receiving the 3 basic degrees of Freemasonry

10. LEARNING MORE ABOUT FREEMASONRY: Introductions to Freemasonry * Masonic symbolism * Masonic history * Responses to anti-Masonry

GLOSSARY: 24 entries on terms such as "Initiate" and "Regular Freemasonry"

REFERENCES: Full source information for 130 works

ILLUSTRATION CREDITS: Full source information for 13 public domain illustrations, many available on the Internet

INDEX: 12 pages

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Scholarly credentials and specific Masonic affiliations

From the Back Cover:

An experienced Freemason and award-winning psychologist provides a precise and engaging exploration of the core philosophy and practices of Freemasonry--and how the order's esoteric symbols and ideas can guide today's generation.

Popular books and movies often depict Freemasonry as a shadowy, mysterious, and possibly sinister organization, while TV and magazine specials on Masonry frequently leave us with more questions than answers, and without a clear understanding of how to sort myth from fact.

Mark E. Koltko-Rivera, a practicing thirty-second-degree (32*) Mason, has created a simple, authoritative, and accessible introduction to the history, rites, and meaning of Freemasonry. It may be the single most reliable short guide to Masonry, written by a widely recognized psychologist and scholar of esoteric history.

Whether you're interested in becoming a Freemason yourself, or simply want to learn more about this fascinating subculture, Koltko-Rivera's trustworthy guide explores all the basic issues around Masonry, such as:

  • What is Freemasonry, and what is its history?
  • How does one become a Freemason?
  • Why do men become involved in Freemasonry in the first place?
  • What are some of the most important Masonic symbols?
  • What do Masons get from their involvement in Freemasonry? What changes does it make in their inner and outer lives?
  • What is it like to participate in the initiatory rituals of Freemasonry? How does this differ across the different rites or orders of Masonry?
  • What are some of the great historical controversies and myths surrounding Freemasonry?
  • How is Masonry meaningful today?

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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