Retrieved recently from a dead PC is my review of Bro. Andrew Hammer’s terrific book Observing the Craft written for The Journal of the Masonic Society. I didn’t know Hodapp already had written a review for the publication, so this review might as well have been lost in a hopelessly infected and disabled computer. But it was resurrected, with some other files, by a wizard earlier this spring, just in time to submit to Cory Sigler for his first issue of the new The New Jersey Freemason magazine, which arrived in the brethren’s mailboxes a week ago. I only had to dust it off, trim a few words, and click send.
Now, if I can get my thousands of JPGs off that computer, I’ll be a happy man.
Observing the Craft: The Pursuit of Excellence in Masonic Labour and Observance
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- Confer the degree on one man only so he makes an individual journey, and is the center of the lodge’s attention.
- Employ music to “elevate the assembly of minds gathered together” and to accentuate different aspects of ritual work at specific times. Conversely, use silence to remove all distractions from the sense of hearing. Obviously, this means no chatting on the sidelines, but also much more for the benefit of everyone’s state of mind.
- To further assist the focusing of the mind, light and darkness must be properly managed. “Darkness, like silence, concentrates the mind by removing all other distractions” and the light revealed to the candidate when the hoodwink is removed should be only “a simple flame,” so no other “competing visual images” enter his mind. That’s the moving flame of the candle, mind you, and not the kitschy “Masonic light bulb.”
- Appealing to our sense of smell, Hammer praises incense. The sense of touch can be addressed through what is called the Chain of Union, the interlocking of arms and clasping of hands to achieve “psychological and physical union” around the entire lodge room.