“Dungeon, Fire, and Sword” by John J. Robinson
Dungeon, Fire and Sword is a good book for all who enjoy a well-written, well-researched story of stupidity, greed, barbarity, unspeakable cruelty, deception, fraud, treachery and sanctimony… John J. Robinson has written a fascinating history of an incredible time.
“Masonic Trivia Amusements & Curiosities” by Peter Champion
A trivia treasure trove of the strange, curious, and whimsical oddities of Freemasonry is offered up for your amusement, with a ticklish dash of enlightenment. The stories include dwarfs, giants, pirates, a taxidermy-stuffed African man, a blood splattered Lodge Room, a fraternal mouse, a cod fish, a submarine that killed its crew, “Secret” American Presidents, bodies in a wooden pickle barrel, ghosts, chewing gum, a tattooed corpse, a Parisian hot air balloon, a woman dentist, duels, western outlaws, gunfights, racehorses, and the missing skull of a Presidential candidate. Each story is a thread in the tapestry of Masonic history and humor gleaned from newspaper accounts, court documents, Lodge archives, monthly trestleboards, and the traditions of Freemason Lodges from around the globe. Each page brings a head-scratching, “Wow, I didn’t know that!”
“Moses Cordovero’s Introduction to Kabbalah: An Annotated Translation of His or Ne’Erav” By Ira Robinson
First published in 1587, Moses Cordovero’s now classic introduction to Kabbalah, Or Ne’erav, was intended to serve several purposes; it was meant both to provide a justification for the study of Kabbalah and to encourage that study by providing detailed instructions for interested laymen on how to go about that study; indeed, it was intended as a precis of Cordovero’s much larger Pardes Rimmonim.
In many ways, Cordovero was ideally suited to compose such a work. His teacher of rabbinics was no other than R. Joseph Caro, author of the Shulhan Arukh, which rapidly became the halakhic code par excellence. His master in Kabbalah was Solomon ha-Levi Alkabetz, whose sister he subsequently married. The result of his studies with both was no less than a kabbalistic “code”, a systematic kabbalistic theology of the Zohar, the basic text of Jewish mysticism. But this work was too large, and too complex to be easily mastered. Moreover, it assumed too much previous knowledge to serve as an introduction to the subject; hence the need for Or Ne’erav.
Or Ne’erav succeeded in fulfilling all these purposes, and has remained a classic introduction to the study of Kabbalah – and is used as such to this day. Dr. Robinson’s accurate but readable translation is the first English rendition of this essential work.
“The Jew in the Lotus: A Poet’s Rediscovery of Jewish Identity in Buddhist India” by Rodger Kamenetz
While accompanying eight high–spirited Jewish delegates to Dharamsala, India, for a historic Buddhist–Jewish dialogue with the Dalai Lama, poet Rodger Kamenetz comes to understand the convergence of Buddhist and Jewish thought. Along the way he encounters Ram Dass and Richard Gere, and dialogues with leading rabbis and Jewish thinkers, including Zalman Schacter, Yitz and Blue Greenberg, and a host of religious and disaffected Jews and Jewish Buddhists.
This amazing journey through Tibetan Buddhism and Judaism leads Kamenetz to a renewed appreciation of his living Jewish roots.
“A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe: Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science” by Michael Schneider
The Universe May Be a Mystery,
But It’s No Secret
Michael Schneider leads us on a spectacular, lavishly illustrated journey along the numbers one through ten to explore the mathematical principles made visible in flowers, shells, crystals, plants, and the human body, expressed in the symbolic language of folk sayings and fairy tales, myth and religion, art and architecture. This is a new view of mathematics, not the one we learned at school but a comprehensive guide to the patterns that recur through the universe and underlie human affairs. A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing, the Universe shows you:
- Why cans, pizza, and manhole covers are round.
- Why one and two weren’t considered numbers by the ancient Greeks.
- Why squares show up so often in goddess art and board games.
- What property makes the spiral the most widespread shape in nature, from embryos and hair curls to hurricanes and galaxies.
- How the human body shares the design of a bean plant and the solar system.
- How a snowflake is like Stonehenge, and a beehive like a calendar.
- How our ten fingers hold the secrets of both a lobster and a cathedral.
- And much more.
“Compasses and the Cross” by Stephen Dafoe
“Stephen Dafoe’s “Compasses and the Cross” is a thoroughly researched and lavishly illustrated history of the development of the Knights Templar within Freemasonry, and the very different paths it took in continental Europe, England, Scotland, Canada and the United States. In a way, it is a companion to his earlier “Nobly Born: An Illustrated History of the Knights Templar,” which beautifully tells the story of rise and fall the medieval Templar order. “Compasses and the Cross” picks up 400 years later and tells the story of modern Templary. It is a unique resource for those studying the history of Freemasonry and its labyrinthine degrees and orders. There is no other volume I know of that investigates this important phase of Masonic history in such careful detail. Many have peddled legends that the Templars begat Freemasonry–Dafoe is not in that camp. He has not set out to burst bubbles, but to understand where Masonic Templars came from, and how they became what we see in commanderies and preceptories around the world today.
So much in Freemasonry is explained to its members as “the way we’ve always done it.” That clearly is not so, and that’s no way to answer inquisitive students of the fraternity. For those who want to know why and how and when the Knights Templar rode on their steeds into Masonic history, I strongly recommend this book.” – Chris Hodapp
“Crime and the Craft: Masonic Involvement in Murder, Treason and Scandal” by Mike Neville
Crime and the Craft reveals that the Freemasons have been involved in treason, murder, conspiracy, fraud, and scandal from the time of the English Civil War to the 1980s. Nearly every famous case investigated by Scotland Yard-including Jack the Ripper, Oscar Wilde, Dr. Crippen, the Great Train Robbery, and the Kray Twins-is shown to have Masonic involvement. For the first time, it is shown that some fifty lodges have a link to the Jack the Ripper case-with a known suspect identified as a Mason for the first time. The book uncovers Masonic involvement in police corruption, from the Trial of the Detectives in 1877 to Operation Countryman. The true involvement of notorious gangster, Kenneth Noye, in freemasonry is also revealed, as are the full details of the case of the Mason who made secret signs at the judge during a murder trial at the Old Bailey. This book also describes how members of the Craft have been pioneers in the development of forensic pathology, fingerprint evidence, and the use of images to catch criminals. Crime and the Craft answers the question: ‘Is there a relationship between Freemasonry and crime?’
“The Temple and the Lodge” by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh
Coauthors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh recount the events that led to the strange and sudden disappearance of the Knights Templar in the fourteenth century and their reappearance in the court of excommunicate Scottish king Robert the Bruce. Following the survival of certain unexpected Templar traditions, the authors document the evolution of a world-changing order through the birth of the Masonic lodge. They chart the history of Freemasonry through its medieval roots and into the modern era.
The book posits that the order’s contribution to the fostering of tolerance, progressive values, and cohesion in English society aided in preempting a French-style revolution in England; that Freemasonry was an essential keystone in the formation of the United States; and that America itself is an embodiment of the ideal “Masonic Republic.” This groundbreaking thread of analysis challenges the accepted traditions of Western history as it is currently taught. What is the true source of our most valued traditions? Twenty years since its original publication, The Temple and the Lodge remains a trenchant and essential edition to any collection of Western history.