Building Athens Book Review
By K. Kidd
Bro John Nagy, so quick on the heels of his "Building Boaz
" and "Building Hiram
", recently released a third volume of Masonic catechism, "Building Athens". In this one, well aligned with the Fellow Craft Degree, we get a greater sense of what Bro Nagy means by "Building".
This is far more than the usual Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences students of Masonry think about in the Second Degree. In Building Athens , Nagy provides 12 in depth and thought provoking catechisms that call to mind the purpose of education in this degree.
Like the first two volumes, "Building Athens" invites us to ask questions and answer them. As in both modern and not so modern Masonic catechisms, Nagy invites the inquisitor and respondent to think about what they utter or internally contemplate. Here is but one such exchange which, interestingly, has more statements than questions. Note his use of capitalization:
I: You have Claimed to be a Fellow Craft Mason.
R: Yes, I have.
I: Present your Argument and prove your Claim.
R: My Brothers are Fellow Craft Masons; I was Passed in a duly convened Fellow Craft Lodge and my Brother Masons recognize me as a Fellow Craft Mason; therefore, I am what I Claim to be, a Fellow Craft Mason.
I: What s more?
R: Through study, I have developed the ability to discern Truth from fallacy by cultivating and employing specific Shibboleths to do so.
I: What s further?
R: Understanding, cultivating and employing Logical Shibboleths are signs of Fellow Craft Mastery.
In this passage, I m much taken with the only two questions, What s more and What s further . The respondent is so invited to define more and further , something many never approach.
Bro Nagy also gives us a few more glimpses into his own building, thru his own formative experiences. My favorite in Building Athens is on page 33, where Bro Nagy reminds us it all begins with a Word.
Pablo Picasso created a painting called Guernica in 1937. Forty-one years later, a copy of it made its way into a Liberal Arts class with me as one of the students.
The teacher presented it as a focus of an exercise that day. The task was for us to evaluate it and share our thoughts. Not knowing anything about the painting, the time it was created or the culture that influenced it, I was utterly bored with it. It had no meaning to me whatsoever.
After we stared at it for a few minutes, the teacher asked the class members to share their thoughts. Without much variation, I learned that my fellow students had similar reactions to this picture.
The teacher smiled and proceeded to let the class know who painted it, the reason for its creation, the period and the background of the culture that influenced it. He then pointed to specific items within the picture and shared what each was communicating. As he continued his lesson, I learned how seemingly simple pictures could represent profound and deeply moving ideas, notions, concepts, points and realities.
In those moments, my world changed. I went from a disinterested blind man to an engaged, sighted soul.
Readers are likely to find more than a few such moments in Building Athens . I believe this book would be an excellent addition to the too often sparse Lodge Fellow Craft study material and would make an excellent gift for a newly Passed Mason. --K. Kidd
--This text refers to the
About the Author
Mary Byers is the author of Longuissa , the story of a heritage summer home on Georgian Bay, and co-author of six books: True Newfoundlanders: Early Homes and Families of Newfoundland and Labrador; Atlantic Hearth: Early Homes and Families in Nova Scotia; Tavern in the Town: Early Inns and Taverns of Ontario; The Governor 's Road: Early Buildings and Families from Mississauga to London; Homesteads: Early Buildings from Kingston to Toronto ; and Rural Roots: Pre-Confederation Buildings of the York Region of Ontario. She summers on Lake Simcoe.
John de Visser's photographs have been collected in more than forty books. His outstanding collections for the Boston Mills Press include Newfoundland Souvenir, Spirit of the Garden, Rideau, At the Water's Edge, Summer Cottages, Muskoka, Georgian Bay, Grand River Reflections, Credit River Valley, and 1000 Islands. In 1994 he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Canadian Association of Photographers and Illustrators in Communication.