This work is a little informational book subtitled Helpful Information for New Master Masons, by Jim Tresner, and is intended for those Masons just beginning their journey in the fraternity. It is published by the Masonic Service Association and contains a general summary of the basic fraternal knowledge.
One of the book’s triumphs is that it gives a small discussion for most of the symbols found in each degree. However, unlike most pamphlets created for similar purposes as this, it does actually mention some very esoteric Masonic concepts. These include a brief mention of some Jewish mystical concepts such as the Tree of Life. The book also includes a section pertaining to the Landmarks of Freemasonry which are so often ignored in these types of publications. While this discussion only lists Mackey’s list of Landmarks, it is still better than no mention of the Landmarks. It also contains a few points about lodge protocol such as not walking between the Master and the altar, how to address the lodge, and the attitude of prayer. These customs are rarely mentioned in text.
The book has some shortcomings as well. The information on the symbolism of the degrees found in this booklet is already printed in some sort of introductory Grand Lodge publication in most states. This leads to yet another iteration of the processed and formed definitions of Masonic symbolism to which young members have already been exposed. The brief Masonic history given is also a rather romantic account of the fraternity’s development. It includes the possibility that the Knights Templar somehow influenced Freemasonry and covers Masonic history at at period of time which offers only speculative history at best. Also, 19 and a half pages of the book’s 49 pages deal with nearly ever single Masonic affiliated body, including some of the most obscure of Masonic organizations. It would seem that a little more time on the symbolism of the Blue Lodge and a little less on the subject of other bodies would be more useful to the new initiate.
Overall, the book is a decent resource for those Masons who have not been provided with any information about the degrees. However, there are a number of better resources available through the Grand Lodges as well as the Internet for those looking for a cursory knowledge of the fraternity.
You can find the book at the Masonic Service Association’s website.