For a slim volume, this book packs a big punch, and is part 1 of a lecture series that celebrated Masonic author Dr Robert Lomas has been giving to lodges, mainly in the north of England, for a few years now. It is the first of five volumes that will reveal Robert’s lectures on the Apprentice, Fellowcraft, Master Mason’s degree, the Royal Arch and the Mark, and aims to fit all these aspects of Freemasonry together, presenting them in an easy-to-understand format to provide a learning program to new members.
Indeed, Lomas puts forward constantly how Freemasonry is all about education:
‘Daily use of your chisel cannot be over emphasised. Stones are not shaped by emotion or good intentions. Without the sharp cutting edge of a highly honed education you cannot hope to cut the stone cleanly and beautifully. If you think the cost of instruction and education is expensive, then think for a moment of the immense cost and consequence of ignorance.’
It is indeed the central philosophy to Freemasonry that we can continue to educate ourselves in a way that we can symbolically transform into better men and women, and to help our society become better at the same time. To turn the rough ashlar into a smooth, finished and perfect stone to build a better world. Freemasonry is of course a personal experience, and Lomas emphasises how we need to study Truth, a skill that is needed more than ever in our world of fake news and spin.
Lomas also reminds us that ‘Freemasonry is dying‘, something that may hard for some Freemasons to swallow, but he presents a reason for this in the lack of understanding that new members have of Freemasonry. Some of us may have experienced retention problems in our lodges, with new members leaving after a few years, and Lomas tackles this issue head on, suggesting that the problem lies with a lack of education in lodges that may be stuck in the past somewhat.
Overall, this first volume is a much needed book, and when lodges start to meet again after the lockdown, perhaps a serious look at the future will be part of a new plan to adapt Freemasonry in the wake of the pandemic, and this book – and the following volumes – will be part of a fresh look at the educational practices in the lodge.
The book is available through Lewis Masonic.