Saturday, March 10, 2012

Book Review: Ritual America

Ritual America: Secret Brotherhoods and Their Influence on American Society, A Visual Guide by Adam Parfrey and Craig Heimbichner is a sleek and comprehensive 340 page book filled with hundreds of amazing photos, illustrations and quotations about numerous secret societies. Included are Freemasonry and concordant bodies such as The Shriners, Prince Hall Masonry, Job's Daughters, Rainbow Girls, The Jesters, The Scottish Rite, The York Rite, and The Knights Templar, but the book doesn't stop there. You also get rare glimpses into the worlds of The Redmen, The Woodsmen, The Odd Fellows, The OTO, The KKK, The Owls, The Elks, The Illuminati and The Fraternal Order of Police, among many others. Quotations range from Albert Pike and Robert Anton Wilson to Lady Gaga.

As a Mason, it's interesting and eye opening (no pun intended) to read about the not-so-flattering skeletons in the closet that haunt the Fraternity. No punches are spared as the racist and sexist history of various Lodges is revealed for all to see. Despite all this, as an insider I see how far we have come when I look at the ethnic diversity in the Masonic community I interact with on a regular basis.

The book tries to be as objective as possible when presenting the various accounts from both pro and anti Masons within its pages, but can get pretty harsh when presenting the latter. Nevertheless, it inspired me to explore and question those unfavorable elements and that's a good thing.

I read every word and learned many things. I really recommend picking it up.

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