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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Isolation Is A(nother) Good Reason For New Books

by Christopher Hodapp

UPDATE APRIL 6, 2020: 
I just received word as of today that the MSA is now officially sold out of ALL editions of these books - both the Master Mason cloth bindings and the grand Master leather ones! Richard asks that you please not try to order any more.

That said, Carl Davis' weekly devotional book also mentioned in this original post , Making Good Men Better, is NOT sold out and still very much available!


A major bargain on expensive Masonic books doesn't happen very often, but this is a real opportunity for lodges, libraries and individual Masons seeking a massive educational resource. 

As reported here several months ago, the Masonic Service Association is moving its headquarters from Maryland to Iowa. The complete six-volume set of hardbound editions of the Short Talk Bulletins starting in the 1920s is now on sale at what is almost a giveaway price. The full set of the Master Mason cloth-bound, hardback edition is just $120, and this combined set contains over 1,000 Short Talk Bulletins. 

If you are looking for the higher quality leather bound Grand Master editions, they are going for $40 apiece. All of these prices are less than a third of their original cover price.

This means you could have a complete set of these books for less than the price of two of them when they were first printed. Don't let this deal slip by. Every Masonic Lodge and Masonic research library really should have these sets.

There are hundreds of hidden gems, historical tales, ritual information, symbolism explanations and exploration, and scores of other sorts of topics to be found in these beautiful volumes. Every Single Short Talk Bulletin from 1923 through 2017 has been edited, re-typeset and blessedly indexed for these books by S. Brent Morris of the Scottish Rite Research Society. You could literally read one article every single day for almost the next three years. Never be at a loss for 'Masonic education' at you meetings ever again - you can walk into your lodge, literally open any of these books and start reading one aloud (once we can all meet again).

The sale was announced in the most recent mailing of the MSA Short Talk Bulletin and Emessay Notes. Note that the sale price is NOT reflected on the MSA's webpage, so you'll need to contact them directly. (Nothing on the MSA website seems to have been updated since Simon LaPlace left several months ago.)

Email: msaoffice@msana.com
Tel: (301) 476-7330
Toll-free: (855) 476-4010

A new book has just been released by WB Carl W. Davis, and it couldn't come at a more opportune time. Making Good Men Better: A 52 Week Personal Growth Plan Based on the Teachings of Freemasonry is designed as a weekly Masonic devotional designed to instruct and inspire the contemplative Brother with a year’s worth of lessons about our symbolism, our philosophy, and even the phrases we use. Since we are all trapped in our houses for the duration of the COVID pandemic, Carl's book gives you the chance to advance your own personal thinking about Masonic principles and concepts as the weeks go by.

The daily or weekly devotional reader was once one of those common items that almost everyone in the Western world was familiar with, at least until the last 50 years or so. Most commonly circulated in the Christian tradition, these little booklets provided short readings, Biblical quotations, homilies, stories, and other inspirational content to be used during a daily time of prayer or spiritual meditation. The brief passages were meant to inspire or prompt the reader’s own deeper thoughts and reflection throughout the course of a week, a month, or a year.

Making Good Men Better is divided into 52 chapters, intended to be read one per week, and each chapter is followed by space to record your own reflections or notes. Because Carl has traveled extensively and visited Masonic lodges in a wide variation of jurisdictions, he combines concepts from several rituals with which you may not be entirely familiar with in an effort to examine and broaden our understanding of them. Sometimes it's helpful to look at a very different expression of the same symbol or ritualistic aspect through the eyes from a different state or country. Our rituals weren't carved in stone in most cases until the late 19th century when printed ciphers began to unify the work in any given state. Up until then, jurisdictions or individual lodges often added or subtracted paragraphs or entire lectures seen or heard or invented elsewhere.

WB Davis' book covers all kinds of elements, from ritual and symbolism, to certain practices and traditions we observe in lodge every day without examining how or why we do them. And the book is designed to digest these interpretations in small chunks, with space to record your own thoughts. Put it on your bedside table, set a weekly reminder on your phone, and try to use it as it was intended. It's a worthwhile habit to take up.
Sadly, the widespread tradition of the devotional reader has fallen by the wayside among the wider population today (although ironically, in these days of self-publishing, there is no shortage of them to be found in print and online today).

Society could use more quiet contemplation these days. 
The current enforced isolation gives us all a new opportunity to pick up new habits. This is a good one.


  1. This is good news. I plan on purchasing one of the Grand Master editions.

    Also, I'd like to send a shout out to the British Masonic author and school teacher, Jonti Marks, for a job well done. His book entitled, 'Still Waters: Masonic Meditations on the Book of Psalms Volume 1' is a beautiful study and very suitable for these trying times. It is available on Amazon.

  2. The cheapest price I'm seeing per volume on their websie is $83.00 per volume. Perhaps I'm missing something.

    1. As stated in the post above, the sale price is NOT reflected on the MSA's webpage, so you'll need to contact Richard at MSA directly. Nothing on the MSA website seems to have been updated since Simon LaPlace left several months ago.

      Email: msaoffice@msana.com
      Tel: (301) 476-7330
      Toll-free: (855) 476-4010


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