Just finished "The Lost Symbol" tonight. No spoilers here, but I do not exaggerate when I say it is very respectful of Freemasonry. My early fears were unfounded, and I owe Dan Brown an apology for all those terrible things I was thinking.
The Scottish Rite SJ's House of the Temple is indeed a centerpiece, and the George Washington Masonic Memorial has a brief cameo. Brown does have fun with Masonic internet claims (map in the street of DC, Star of David on the dollar that spells "MASON"). He also ridicules the wildest claims commonly made by anti-Masons. In fact (and again, I do not want to spoil anything here), one of the principal fears in the story involves the negative perception the ignorant public might get by misinterpreting Masonic ritual.
Brown uses exposés of Masonic ceremonies from anti-Masonic sources from the 18th and 19th century that were originally published to embarrass the fraternity. So I can say the rituals in The Lost Symbol are not accurate, in case any non-Masons out there are considering trying to bluff their way past the Tyler—he's the gentleman who sits outside of our lodge doors armed with a sword. Armed. With a real sword. Now, as I said, Brown’s book is actually very respectful of Freemasonry, and he even has a heartfelt explanation as to why Masonic secrecy is a good thing. So whether his descriptions were written out of ignorance, or maybe deliberately incorrect out of respect for our ceremonies, who knows?
The shame is his "thriller" part of the story degenerates into a sort of Red Dragon meets Dr. Phibes. And then its climax happens 35 pages before the end of the book. However, the pleasantly surprising aspect is how intelligent the last chapters of the book are, with a conclusion that explains Masonic philosophy concerning faith better than many Masonic books you've read. And he gives a twist to the meaning of "The Lost Word."
As an added bonus, Brown really will make you want to visit Washington.
I'm prepping for 28 radio interviews beginning at 7:00AM, plus the Discovery Channel tomorrow afternoon. They are interviewing both Alice and me.
I'll be the one wearing the Masonic Society pin.