On Holy Ground: A History of The Honorable Order of American Co-Masonry By Karen Kidd
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This book tells an intricate story little known outside Co-Masonic circles and not especially well-recalled even there.
Co-Masonry, the branch of Freemasonry that accepts men and women, in its second Century in North America, is one of many "silences" in history. The story of Co-Masonry in North American is, for the most part, the history of the Honorable Order of American Co-Masonry, the American Federation of Human Rights, today the largest Co-Masonic Body on the continent.
"On Holy Ground" is the seldom-til-now written history of that Order. "On Holy Ground" begins with a brief retelling Freemasonry's story; traces women's early entry into the Operative Masonic guilds and Speculative otherwise all-male Freemasonic Lodges; explains women's unfair exclusion from the Craft; and the rise in Europe of Co-Masonry, which finally swung the doors open to female initiates. "On Holy Ground" introduces the reader to the earliest Co-Masons and the founders of their Orders throughout the world. Included is the French Freemason Antoine Muzzarelli, who founded the first Co-Masonic Lodges in North American; his immediate successor, early US French Socialist Leader Louis Goaziou; and those who came after.
Other early pioneers whose lives are described in the initial chapters of "On Holy Ground" include nationally known educators; international and domestic labor movement organizers; and many others who formed the backbone of the first Co-Masonic National Council and the earliest Co-Masonic Lodges in North American. Building on that foundation, "On Holy Ground" explains the evolution of the movement over the course of more than a century. It is a story of growth and decline; prestige and obscurity; traditional and orthodox Freemasonry in the face the many great challenges and determined persecution.
"On Holy Ground" also is the story of the Order's response to external pressures, such as two World Wars; economic downturns including the Great Depression; philosophical self-definition and internal strive, division and perseverance. Above all else, "On Holy Ground" is a recollection of the Order's tenacious and very North American hold on its promised autonomy that lead, in the mid-1990s, to the establishment of the Order as it is known today: "a Masonic Obedience Independent of all others."
"On Holy Ground" is the rich history skillfully and suspensefully told by Karen Kidd, Co-Mason and award-winning author of "Haunted Chambers: the Lives of Early Women Freemasons". Kidd received unprecedented access to the Order's archives, which allowed her to dispense with many myths, errors and outright lies in prior writings and oral traditions about Co-Masonry in North American and elsewhere. "On Holy Ground" is the uncovering of forgotten history, a finding of that which has been lost, written for Masons and nonMasons, scholars and casual readers, the highly informed and merely curious.
Amply illustrated, with many color images - most never before published outside the Order - "On Holy Ground" boasts an appendix filled with writings and reflections of many leaders in the Order, including each of the Order's Grand Masters. Also in the appendix are items of great interest to scholars, including a letter written to early 20th Century civil and suffrage rights activist Susan B Anthony. Tucked near the end is a rare treat for Masonic Scholars: the text of a speech given before a Co-Masonic Lodge in New York City by author, mystic and, ultimately, Freemason Manly P Hall. The text of Hall's speech, as well as Lodge Brothers' questions he answered on that occasion, has not been published in more than 80 years.
Anyone expecting apologia or a polemic will be disappointed. "On Holy Ground" is neither subjective nor critical history of the Order in particular or of Co-Masonry in general. At almost 400 highly readable pages, more than 150 detailed footnotes and an available bibliography, "On Holy Ground" is intended to be as objective as possible; to provide readers with the truth so they may take it from there.
PublisherThe Masonic Publishing Company, Inc.http://www.masonicexchange.com/paypal/ohg.aspx