Review: The Masonic Myth by Jay Kinney

The Masonic Myth by Jay Kinney provides a helpful overview into the world of speculative Freemasonry. The book focuses mainly on the aspects of Masonry which can be reasonably well established in the historical record, combined with the author’s own experiences as a practicing American Mason.

Kinney appears to have both feet firmly planted on the ground at all times. He debunks many of the more outlandish claims around the Craft, dismissing some as fables while taking the “we’re just not sure” stance with the remainder. There are no outlandish conspiracy theories promoted, nor endorsement of Masonry’s more mystical, romantic histories. He does provide an overview of several modern rites (rituals), but stops short of a detailed expose on specific lodge activities (which he openly states have already been documented elsewhere). The conspiracy theorist may argue that this is deceptive omission, but I was left satisfied with the level of detail provided. The reality may very well be much as the author presents it: That Freemasonry is essentially just another fraternal order with some rather obscure rituals, whose meanings are left intentionally vague and open to interpretation. Like many things in life, the members tend to get out what they put in. In accepting this notion, the depth of coverage in The Masonic Myth feels perfectly adequate. If you still want to learn more, you should probably just consider joining up.

As a newcomer with little prior knowledge of Masonry, I found the book thoroughly enlightening, if not entirely comprehensive. Given the longevity of Freemasonry, the size of its membership, and the diversity of the various lodges, any more exhaustive approach would likely have strained readability for the uninitiated. The author does site copious references which should be sufficient for a budding Masonic researcher to follow forward. As it stands, The Masonic Myth is a commendable attempt to make Freemasonry accessible to a world of curious outsiders.

Rating: 5/5

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