Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Book Review: Founding Brothers

When I first laid my eyes on this book, Founding Brothers, I instantly concluded that the premise of this book was to display the Masonic history of many of our founding fathers. I was sorely mistaken. Although the title of this book may excite the book-loving Masons out there, this book had absolutely nothing to do with Masonry. With that being said, I do highly recommend this book to all Masons, especially the e-masons who are currently entrenched in the online arguments occurring throughout the various Masonic blogs, email lists and bulletin boards. Furthermore, this book once again proves that sometimes non-Masonic books can have more to say about Masonry than Masonic books.

In actuality, Founding Brothers is a narrative description of several key events that occurred during and directly after the American Revolution. Six different vignettes are showcased and display the often adversarial roles the founding fathers had in relation to each other. The author pays particular attention to showing how the ideas of the American Revolution were not homogeneous and how many of the patriarchs of the United States fought bitterly with each other to strengthen their vision of the American future.

Nowhere in this book is Freemasonry mentioned. However, in this historical narrative, I can see many of the same battles that are being waged today by men who call themselves brothers. The hostilities between the federalists and republicans during our nation's birth are so similar to the arguments between the "pro-Grand Lodge" and "anti-Grand Lodge" camps that the parallels are too numerous to list in this short post. Direct comparisons can be made between the Masons who support their Grand Masters and the monarchists of the age. Furthermore, direct comparisons can be made between those brothers who have revolted against their Grand Lodges and the perpetual revolutionaries that attempted to ally the United States with the French Revolution during its infancy.

Please do not construe these comparisons as attacks on the various positions of our brethren, for this is not my intent. I only focus on this point because a certain perspective should be gained on the current arguments being fostered on the Masonic Internet. The balance between the authority of a governing body and the individual rights of man is not a new argument. This struggle is as old as time itself. Nor is it localized to the Masonic Institution. This conflict has raged on countless battlefields, numerous civil halls and various Masonic halls for centuries.

We as Masons should never allow our passions to overtake us, nor should we forget that the battle for freedom is universal and timeless. The balance between the needs of the many and the rights of the few will always teeter back and forth, but we as Masons must never forget that we stand for the Brotherhood of Man, under the Fatherhood of God. This brotherhood requires that we respect the opinions of our brothers, even when we disagree and that we do unto them as we would have them do unto us.

I highly suggest that you read this book and reflect. Masonry is not always found in things that are Masonic.

1 comment:

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