Freemasonry in The 21st Century
By Don Bradley
Native Planet Books 1991
“Freemasonry in the 21rst Century” holds a unique place amongst masonic esoteric literature. Online research will reveal that this title is both highly lauded and deeply reviled by those that seek deeper meaning within their masonic experience. Do a google search and you fill find chat room discussions ablaze with harsh criticisms of the great liberties that Don Bradley takes in presenting Freemasonry as merely a shadow of its former self. Critics of the book liken the author’s vision as a brand of new age quackery and having very little to do with traditional blue lodge masonry. Others, on the other hand praise this book for restoring their faith in masonry, and giving vision to what masonry truly could provide to all brethren if only applied in its authentic form.
Aware of this, perhaps it would be little wonder that while reading “Freemasonry in the 21st Century”, I could not help feel incredulous of some of the bold claims stated within, yet inspired by the author’s vision of what masonry’s intended purpose is, and how its application could improve not only the individual mason’s experience in the craft, but freemasonry at large.
Much of the book focuses on the purpose of every aspect of blue lodge ritual. Bradley breaks down his perspective on the intended purpose of each officer, their floor work, and various spoken lines within the ritual (key words are coded in such a way that the profane shall not understand them) to the tiniest detail. In Bradley’s vision, all of the above are purposeful and intended to raise the consciousness level of all attendees of blue lodge meetings or degree work. Not one detail is left out in the description of how blue lodge ritual is intended to affect the mason’s psyche, and if you’re willing to accept the premise, you will appreciate the effort that went into illuminating it.
To be fair to the critics of the book, it does at times feel like wone is reading a new age, self improvement book. Certain passages seem to have lofty aspirations to what the craft’s connections are to ceremonial magick and what can be inferred from such. In other passages, Bradley’s criticisms of contemporary blue lodge masonry seem a tad overstated and perhaps excessively harsh. My main critique of the book however, is the lack of supporting evidence for some of the more far out claims Bradley makes about the craft and its origins.
When it comes down to brass tacks, this book is basically a retelling of the masonic experience as one ceremonially magical in nature and how to apply that experience to make you a better, more virtuous mason. Having read several other books that have drawn similar conclusions, I can say that the arguments to this point are not without merit, and are not nearly as outlandish as some may have you believe. Footnotes are generously provided with reference materials included at the end of each chapter so that you may research on your own, however as stated before, these references do not go near enough to supporting some of the arguments as I would like to see.
If you are willing to approach the material with an open mind and perhaps just a grain of salt, I have no reluctance in recommending this book highly for your masonic consumption. I hope you will draw as much inspiration from it as I have.
-Brother Aaron Chauncey
Want to check out the book? Get it at the link below.