The title of this book will be familiar to readers to the
newsletter of Davey Crocket Lodge #1225 in Texas. The book’s content comprises
a serialised account of the interactions of the wise but troublesome food obsessed
Bro John Deacon and his mechanic and Masonic Brother, Chris Williams. This odyssey
is published in that lodge newsletter, and also reproduced in Corky Daut’s
Small Town Texas Mason (STTM).
Each chapter is self contained, generally of two to ten pages in length. I found myself rationing them like a bag of lollies to enjoy and absorb the stories where the true hero is always Freemasonry and it’s improving affect on its members and those they meet.
Readers may also be familiar with the “Old Tyler’s Talks” by Carl H Claudy which first appeared in 1921 and in many ways Pontifications is a contemporary version of them.
Unlike the Tyler’s Talks, the Pontifications have a fresher and more contemporary feel; John one days shocks Chris by using sms; albeit basically beyond him and his huge fingers, he has discovered he can speak into his phone and send smses. The Pontifications held my interest and were so enjoyable I sort out the author and now correspond with him.
Brother Deacon might demand silence while consuming copious amounts of food at the author’s expense but once full, often launched into passionate and animated flight expounding his Profound Pontifications about Freemasonry. This folksy wisdom is often timeless and Brother Deacon is a mix of walking (and mechanical) disaster and wisdom born of passion and deep reflections on Freemasonry and the challenge of today’s Lodges. While all but one of the restaurants the two visit are real places, John has the advantage of being a fictitious brother. He is a pastiche of brothers we all know, and reminds me constantly of a mixture of our own President Mike and Almoner Drew, although John drives a F-350 and Drew an F-100. John is described as 6’4”, 275 pounds, wearing black alligator boots and Stetson Silverbelly, but is authentically written and his gruff but gentle cowboy charm and values, reinforced by his Masonic Membership, are appealing and memorable; as are his high jinx “kidding around” or just getting himself and poor Brother Chris in jams, like crashing a wedding of a “friend” he turns out not to actually know, but in a Dickensen coincidence; the bride’s father is a Freemason and the uninvited speech John delivers with the skill of a seasoned Past Master, pulls at the heart and melts the audience. All is forgiven in brotherhood and sincerity.
Part of the charm of the installments is the unlikely friendship between mechanic and salesperson, the latter being John and possibly making sales based on people wishing to silence him. They obviously have not made Chris’s discovery of simply presenting him food. Freemasonry unites the two goodhearted friends, just as it does for millions of other men over the globe.
Carl H Claudy published 414 The Old Tylers Talks, let’s hope Chris Williams keeps it up and we see additional volumes of The Profound Pontifications of Brother John Deacon.
You can buy the book in either hard or soft cover, with proceeds supporting Freemasonry, via
By W. Kirk MacNulty, Published Thames and Hudson 2006 ISBN 978-050051302-6
Recommended for; Master Masons
I recently obtained a copy of the above from the Kew Library but have also seen it in bookstores.
Don’t let the hundreds of wonderful pictures fool you; this book is for reading with interesting and well written text reflecting the sound Masonic knowledge of the author. One of the early chapters is an excellent crash course in Masonic history founded in fact rather than speculation. It gives a succinct account of the foundation of United Grand Lodge England and others. It describes the development of Anderson’s Constitutions and explains the split of the “Ancients” and “Moderns” in 1751. Later, it touches on the higher orders and contextualizes Freemasonry in the philosophical outlook of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century. It contains an interesting take on the symbolic meaning of lodge officers. Some reviewers criticise it for “text was limited to brief essays and extensive captions” – but for me, that was part of the attraction.
What another reviewer said;
Ceremonial regalia, paintings, manuscripts, tracing boards, ritual swords, furniture, prints, ephemera, and architecture: the book is copiously illustrated with many specially researched items from Freemasonry archives. This unrivalled compendium will appeal both to Freemasons wishing to learn the full story of their order and to a general audience that is intensely curious about this traditionally secretive and closed movement.
Topics include the historical and philosophical background of the order, including the Knights Templar, the medieval stonemasons' guilds, and esoteric traditions such as Kabbalah and Hermeticism its history from the earliest Masons to the present day, including famous members and scandals its geographical spread from Japan to California, Sweden to South Africa 300 illustrations, 200 in colour
Edited Peter Lazar, Published by Masonic Care Ltd Australia 2009 ISBN 978-0-646-52446-7
Reviewed by WBro Damien of Lodge
Recommended for; General Audience
It’s No Secret, Real Men Wear Aprons was published in NSW and specially addresses Freemasonry in Australia. It is being sold by many Grand Lodges, including our own UGLV.
Being moderately well read on Freemasonry and as a Past Master, much of the book contained material I had seen before. Nonetheless, because the booking is being sold by GL and because if addresses Australian Freemasonry, it is still of note. Unlike other overviews of Australian Freemasonry, it is generalist, not dry and an easy read.
Of particular interest were the snapshots of Famous Australian Freemasons. The chapter on Masonic Art in Tracing Boards was the highlight of the book for me. Certainly the sort of book you can hand to a prospective candidate or newer Freemason in full confidence they will get a better understanding of the craft if they read it.
The book is also available via the Kew Library.
See the books website at www.itsnosecret.com.au
The book rationally takes issue with the myriad "distractions" that the Fraternity has developed over the decades, namely the appendant orders (e.g. York, Scottish Rites, Knights Templar) and other Masonic related clubs (e.g. Shrine, OES, etc.). This is where the author is courageous. The ideas in this short treatise are not likely to sit well with literally thousands of good members of the Order who see Freemasonry's objectives and emphasis in a different light. Fortunately, the author is circumspect and smart enough to acknowledge the 'many paths' argument and as such, largely avoids pedantry in advancing his opinions.
The book also focuses concisely on issues regarding the pursuit of excellence in working at what Freemasons profess to hold central. It treats of such seemingly incidental issues as dress codes, decorum and the festive board. In fact, Observing the Craft makes clear that dress, decorum and the festive board are central to how brethren should view their attachment and dedication to the Fraternity. The repeated references to Craftsmanship are not surprise and are obviously appropriate.
There is little doubt that Observing the Craft is a clarion call, or a manifesto of sorts. Manifestos always the ruffle feathers of the comfortable and powerful. It is one of a small number of writings that have sprung up in the last 5-7 years in particular aimed at a reformation or renaissance within the Masonic Fraternity. While it will surely be viewed as a bit strident by many, such forceful opinions, respectfully communicated and solidly supported, are what so many of the younger cohort of Freemasons and postulants are in accord with and seeking to see expressed.
In the end, Observing the Craft may be controversial but it need not be in a fraternity where
respect for multiple opinions is to be valued. Ideally, book discussions (starting with this
one) should ensue in Lodges across the various lands where Masons may be found. As sitting Master of the eminent Alexandria-Washington Lodge # 22, the author is in a unique position to be heard on these matters and to presumably influence the future direction of that august Lodge and others by extension.
Observing the Craft deserves widespread coverage throughout the Fraternity worldwide and deserves serious discussion as to its thesis and supporting ideas.
Commentaries on the Scottish Rite Degrees by Darren Eastman
The books website is: http://my.bookbaby.com/book/scottishrite