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New Books: 'The Craft' by John Dickie; 'History of Esoteric and Anagogic Doctrines' by...

by Christopher Hodapp A new book about Freemasonry is getting a lot of positive coverage in the press. The Craft: How the Freemasons Made the Modern World by John Dickie was published several weeks...

For the latest news and information from around the Masonic world, be sure to check the www.freemasonsfordummies.com website.
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Bloke

Premium Member
I became aware of this book by John Dickie via a History Podcast

If you listen to podcasts and like history, the History Extra Podcast is great, search it in your podcast provider and the title of the specific podcast is "The story of the Freemasons"

The text is here
https://www.historyextra.com/period/georgian/history-freemasonry-freemasons-who-what-when-began/

I am keen to read his book. As a non-Freemason, he might have got a few things wrong, but maybe he has them right and we explain them away with our particular point of world view (or as some people read it, bias).
 

SeekerDownunder

Registered User
I just finished the hard copy (hardback too boot) and was impressed with what I thought was how well researched it appears to be. Of course being an outsider who isn't even a mason yet I can't comment on the accuracy of what's in it. It was a page turner for me though and that could likely be because I'm keen to learn as much about Freemasonry, it's history and it's impact in the world, from the only sources available to me currently and ones that I sense may have some credibility due to the way things are presented.

I avoided the second chapter as it describes the three degree rituals in some detail and I didn't want to spoil the intitiation experiences for myself if and when I get to them. There are also a few more chapters devoted to Italian masonry than to others which could be because the author is a historian and commentator who has specialised in Italy.

I was very interested to learn that masonry may have had its genesis in the Schaw lodges of the late 16th century in Stuart Scotland and that Dickie implies that the Templar connection may have been part wishful thinking on the part of French masons led by one Andrew Ramsay, part grandeur and the need to create a colourful "origin narrative"; and partly the desire to bring a Catholic flavour to Freemasonry. I had read about the schism between the Antients and the Moderns elsewhere but Dickie claims that this may have been due to the creation of the Royal Arch degree.

The key takeaways and validations for an aspiring mason like me are three: first, that Freemasonry has not changed in essence and is "a fellowship of men...bound by oaths to a method of self betterment...". Second, that secrecy together with the vast array of historical personalities that have been masons has been a strong contributor to what makes it "attractive and compelling"; and finally that Freemasonry has definitely influenced and impacted the world we live in very often positively.

I hope I haven't broken any rules in writing this. Please excuse me if I have.

https://johndickie.net/books/the-craft/how-i-came-to-write-the-craft/
 

Glen Cook

G A Cook
Site Benefactor
I just finished the hard copy (hardback too boot) and was impressed with what I thought was how well researched it appears to be. Of course being an outsider who isn't even a mason yet I can't comment on the accuracy of what's in it. It was a page turner for me though and that could likely be because I'm keen to learn as much about Freemasonry, it's history and it's impact in the world, from the only sources available to me currently and ones that I sense may have some credibility due to the way things are presented.

I avoided the second chapter as it describes the three degree rituals in some detail and I didn't want to spoil the intitiation experiences for myself if and when I get to them. There are also a few more chapters devoted to Italian masonry than to others which could be because the author is a historian and commentator who has specialised in Italy.

I was very interested to learn that masonry may have had its genesis in the Schaw lodges of the late 16th century in Stuart Scotland and that Dickie implies that the Templar connection may have been part wishful thinking on the part of French masons led by one Andrew Ramsay, part grandeur and the need to create a colourful "origin narrative"; and partly the desire to bring a Catholic flavour to Freemasonry. I had read about the schism between the Antients and the Moderns elsewhere but Dickie claims that this may have been due to the creation of the Royal Arch degree.

The key takeaways and validations for an aspiring mason like me are three: first, that Freemasonry has not changed in essence and is "a fellowship of men...bound by oaths to a method of self betterment...". Second, that secrecy together with the vast array of historical personalities that have been masons has been a strong contributor to what makes it "attractive and compelling"; and finally that Freemasonry has definitely influenced and impacted the world we live in very often positively.

I hope I haven't broken any rules in writing this. Please excuse me if I have.

https://johndickie.net/books/the-craft/how-i-came-to-write-the-craft/
No rules broken.
I’m unaware of any credible author that does not treat the Templar fantasy as wishful thinking.
 

Brother JC

Moderating Staff
Staff Member
I had read about the schism between the Antients and the Moderns elsewhere...

There wasn’t a “schism,” the lodges that formed the Antients were never members of the Premier (Moderns). They were other lodges who did not agree with the ritual. There was a schism after the union, but most people in the US have never heard of the Wigan Grand Lodge, more or less read about it.
 

SeekerDownunder

Registered User
Yes @JamestheJust this is also Dickie's position. According to him the Grand Lodge formation was a Whig initiated political move led by one Desaguliers to use Freemasonry as a means of patronage and influence.

Whatever the case may be, the history of Freemasonry seems to be quite fascinating.
 

Bloke

Premium Member
Yes @JamestheJust this is also Dickie's position. According to him the Grand Lodge formation was a Whig initiated political move led by one Desaguliers to use Freemasonry as a means of patronage and influence.

Whatever the case may be, the history of Freemasonry seems to be quite fascinating.
Class and politics are interesting prisms through in the context of the Antients and the Moderns. Many make observations on it, but I have not seen a breakdown by known individuals - that would be interesting, but also very tricky to do. At the end of the day, we need to be cautious because everyone likes to put things in categories so they can understand them, and the category become more important than truth.. often because people using categories want to put themselves in position of scholarly authority and/or are bias by presenting a certain narrative rather than seeking true understanding..

At the end of the day, I wonder if it is not best explained by a form of genteel (and sometimes not so genteel) tribalism..
 

SeekerDownunder

Registered User
My response was more about the GL formation in 1717 as a Tory/Whig play, and not about Antient/Modern which was an issue around 1751 and likely unrelated.

I could be wrong as I'm not a mason yet and haven't read much on Freemasonry's history.

I have Dr David Harrison's 'The Genesis of Freemasonry' on the shelf but will read that well after I am initiated/entered.
 

Bloke

Premium Member
My response was more about the GL formation in 1717 as a Tory/Whig play, and not about Antient/Modern which was an issue around 1751 and likely unrelated.

I could be wrong as I'm not a mason yet and haven't read much on Freemasonry's history.

I have Dr David Harrison's 'The Genesis of Freemasonry' on the shelf but will read that well after I am initiated/entered.
Keep reading :)
 

Winter

Premium Member
At the danger of being struck by a lightening from the skies above, it's available as an ebook : )


This tag line alone makes me want to read it, 'This book shows that, despite rumours of demon dwarfs, piano-playing crocodiles and world domination, the real story of the Freemasons is one of male eccentricity.'

Just picked it up on Amazon. Looking forward to the read.
 

Winter

Premium Member
I too have fully embraced the ebook and Audible revolution. Its amazing being able to carry around such a wide selection of books in my messenger bag as I go about my daily busines. And audible is worth its weight in gold. Worth every penny. But I also still love the feel of a physical book in my hand and particularly for Masonic books, I splurge for the physical as well as ereader version.
 
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