Book review by Amicus Librarium (Supreme Council Library)

“The House of the Temple library presents a world-class collection of Masonic information for consideration by the public and interested brethren. As part of its mission, our library is driven by the ceaseless pursuit of knowledge – thus, it seeks to acquire as many volumes as possible, new and old, to add to its vast repository of information.

Often, this supply of new texts brings with it materials that are both extremely insightful and of high intrinsic value to the modern Mason. Contemplative Masonry can, without a doubt, be placed among this number, and I thank our library staff for referring it to me. The text – which first arose anonymously online almost two decades ago – has been now revised and expanded by Bro. C.R. Dunning, Jr., 32° KCCH, the original anonymous author. Bro. C.R. Dunning’s Contemplative Masonry aspires to a position of particular utility among Masonic books. His work is simultaneously an explorative text and an aptly-wrought framework for exercises encouraging directed reflection on philosophy, ritual, and symbols. It is rife with supplementary diagrams and visual references, philosophical musings, and rich personal anecdotes, all which serve to heighten the efficacy of the book as an explorative framework. Perhaps most importantly, Contemplative Masonry directs its reader towards the thoughtful development of “speculative thinking” – which, according to Bro. Dunning, espouses the virtues of personal reflection and mindful behavior.

It is, however, important to note that Contemplative Masonry ventures beyond the scope of rote Masonic symbolism and basic speculative thought. Bro. Dunning’s book is unique in that it shares a particularly practical perspective with the reader. In fact, the latter half of the book is dominated almost entirely by guided degree-specific exercises on Masonic reflection; thus, useful as much to the newly Entered Apprentice as it is to the seasoned Master Mason. While I leave the exercises themselves to be explored by the reader, in this aspect Contemplative Masonry is a sweeping success.

Masonry is driven by a tireless pursuit of knowledge. Its interpretations are fundamentally codified through ritual practice but guided by the many perspectives of its brethren. Thus, as a philosophy it provides no codex for what to think but, rather, a toolset for how to develop a meritorious mode of evaluative thought. Bro. Dunning’s work espouses this philosophy in its purest form. It sits firmly as a worthy edition to the library collection.” — Fraternally, Daniel Matsumoto


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