Level Steps, Hidden Depths, Still Waters
Meditations for Freemasons
In many ways, these are the most difficult books to explain. Of course, if you're a Freemason, you probably don't need an explanation.; you know that books about Freemasonry are just like any other books - except that they're about Freemasonry! If you're not a Freemason - and let's face it, most people aren't - you might wonder how these books relate to all the things that seem important to me, the caring, liberal, left-leaning, spiritually-inclined former teacher.
Well...it's a good question in a way but it's one that only needs to be asked because many (most?) people think that Freemasonry is some kind of reactionary club for rich old white men with a vested interest in holding on to the status quo in a clearly imperfect society. There are others, the more extreme conspiracy theorists, who will maintain that Freemasons hold the world in their heartless grip and are responsible for every evil the currently besets us.
Obviously, I don't believe that.
In fact, in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth... I became a Freemason in Nairobi and one of the things that I loved about it from the first moment was its ability to bring people together. I was conducted around the Lodge at my initiation ceremony by the two Deacons - one Hindu, one Sikh. The Master of the Lodge was a white Englishman and the Senior Warden - soon to be the next Master - was Muslim. The Immediate Past Master was a black Kenyan. The Holy Book on which I took my obligation was the Bible, as befitted my heritage, but also present on the pedestal, although closed on that occasion, were copies of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Bhagavad-Gita and the Koran. In the Lodge were men of every colour (and, this being Kenya, several different tribes) and of every religion. Freemasonry's greatest gift to the world is its teaching that all of us - without exception - are brothers and sisters under the Fatherhood (or Motherhood if you prefer) of God.
Of course, there were only men present that evening and Freemasonry's position with regard to the inclusion of women still needs attention, in my opinion. If you want to know my personal thoughts on that matter (and on other Masonic issues) you can find them here:
I certainly don't want to give the impression that I think Freemasonry is a perfect institution. In a way, I tend to believe that the two words are mutually exclusive: that no institution can be perfect. But, like many others, I do believe that the basic principles and teachings of Freemasonry are sound; as close to perfection as we're likely to get in this world...
For me - and I know it's not a view shared by every Mason - Freemasonry is a spiritual discipline and its teachings reveal fundamental truths about our individual humanity, our relationships with each other and our fellow creatures and our relationship with God - whatever we conceive Him (Her? It?) to be.
These four books - the first two of which address the two basic orders of Freemasonry - using quotations from Masonic ritual and writings, as well as non-Masonic material, explore the possibilities and implications of Masonic thought and ideas. The third and fourth books follow the same pattern but uses the Psalms as their inspiration and starting point. I believe that they have something important to offer to Masons, to the family and friends of Masons and to the world at large.
Weirdly, I've had non-Masons ask me, "Am I allowed to read them?"
The answer is, "Of course you are."