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Thursday, September 02, 2021

So. California Research Lodge Poll: 'Top 10 Books of the New Millennium'

by Christopher Hodapp

Most Masons who read the literature of the fraternity are well acquainted with the classic, must-have works that were primarily published in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries by Preston, Mackey, Pike, Claudy, Newton, Wilmshurst, Hayward, Carr, Cerza and many, many others. 
But the brain boxes of Masonic knowledge aren't confined to the dusty past. Masonic scholarship didn't just come to a screeching halt the night that the Millennium Bug failed to destroy civilization when the world's computers flipped over to 1/1/01. Two decades into the 2000s, it's clear that we are blessed by many contemporary Masonic authors who continue to provide new discoveries, new insights, and new ways of looking at our lodges, rituals, symbols, philosophy, and even ourselves as Masons. 

With that in mind, the latest issue of Fraternal Review, the Southern California Research Lodge magazine, arrived today, and features the results of their latest reader’s poll, The Top 10 Masonic Books of the New Millennium (so far):
  1. Observing the Craft (2010) - Andrew Hammer
  2. Approaching the Middle Chamber (2020) - Jaime Paul Lamb
  3. Contemplative Masonry (2016) - C. R. Dunning
  4. The Mason's Words (2013) - Robert G. Davis
  5. Freemasons For Dummies (2005) - Christopher Hodapp
  6. Exploring Early Grand Lodge Freemasonry (2017) - Chris Murphy & Shawn Eyer
  7. Myth, Magic & Masonry (2018) - Jaime Paul Lamb
  8. Operative Freemasonry (2012) - Kirk C. White
  9. The Way of the Craftsman (2017) - W. Kirk MacNulty
  10. The Three Stages of Initiatic Spirituality (2020) - Angel Millar
I am proud and humbled (along with being continually astonished) that Freemasons For Dummies is on their latest list. I’m very appreciative to the editors of the magazine and especially to the Masons who responded to the poll and placed me in the midst of this august group. My thanks especially to managing editor WB Dago Rodriguez and to guest editor Jeriel Smith for their hard work and for conducting this poll.

Given the nature of the rest of the titles, it is even more surprising to me. The bulk of the books are mostly philosophical or esoteric in nature. Chris Murphy and Shawn Eyer's collection Exploring Early Grand Lodge Freemasonry is historic, but also explores the philosophy, thoughts and goals of Masons during the earliest years of the speculative fraternity. The number one book on the list, Observing the Craft by Andrew Hammer, is a practical guide to forming an observant style lodge. Mine is really the only general knowledge, general introductory book on the whole list. 

The editors of the magazine wrote:
"Judging by the voters' choices, it is apparent that today's Masonic readers are interested in the deeper connections Freemasonry enables a man to make with the self. A search for purpose, belonging and service are the themes most of these books touch upon and explore, that we believe has made them notable choices from the voting majority."
I will add that ALMOST making the list were (non-Mason) John Dickey's The Craft: How the Freemasons Made the Modern World (2020) and John Bizzack's Island Masonry (2017). Both of these excellent works just needed a handful of votes to make it on the list.

To celebrate the list, the Southern California Research Lodge is offering the complete collection of all 10 books in an EXTREMELY limited edition boxed set for $333 (shipping included). Most of the volumes in the New Millennium Book Collection are signed by their respective authors. 

Just 21 of these rare boxed sets are available and the sale doesn't kick off until Monday, September 6th. So, no early orders, please, and remember their office is on Pacific Time.

For more details, to join the research lodge, or to subscribe to Fraternal Review, go to: www.theresearchlodge.com

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