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Journal of American HistoryEqual Rites is an imaginative and ambitious book.
— Grant Underwood
— Grant Underwood
This is an important book on the history of American religion, culture, and society.
— D.E. Mills Jr.
A uniquely insightful answer to scholars' recent calls for greater understanding of Mormon theology, culture, and institutional character.
— D.E. Mills Jr.
Equal Rites is an imaginative and ambitious book.
[ Equal Rites] is well written and engaging.
|Preface: Mormon Masonry?|
|Introduction: The Wax and Wane of Masonry in American Culture||1|
|I||The Mormon-Masonic Nexus|
|1||Reading a Sealed Book||25|
|2||Was Joseph Smith a Mason?||43|
|3||Dreaming Masonry: Getting the Story Plumb||57|
|4||As the Words of a Book That Is Sealed: The Book of Mormon as Esoteric Male (Hi)Story||79|
|5||Fleeing Babel with Mother and Child in Tow||89|
|II||The Quest within the Quest|
|6||A Bible! A Bible! We Have Got a Bible||101|
|7||The Search for the Long Lost Book in the Book of Mormon||113|
|8||What Manner of (Masonic) Men?||127|
|III||The Anti-Evangelical Mind of Joseph Smith Jr.|
|9||Whether a Man Can Enter a Second Time into His Mother's Womb||139|
|10||Heaven and Hell: Divining the Ghost of Emmanuel Swedenborg||153|
|11||Father-Son and Holy Ghost-Mother? The Mormon-God Question||167|
|IV||The Millennial, Racial, Economic, and Political Confederacy|
|12||Thy Kingdom Come: On Earth As It Is in Heaven||185|
|13||Mormons and Jews||197|
|14||The Curse and Redemption of the Lamanites: Salvation Bi-race Alone||203|
|15||The Economic Kingdom of God: Masonic Utopianism Unveiled||225|
|Postscript: The "Americanness" of Mormonism||239|
Posted April 1, 2004
Posted March 19, 2004
Every now and then you hear about a book you just have to read. My traditional Latter-day Saint upbringing fostered an abiding interest in Mormon history. Thus, I gratefully accepted an offer from Wendy Lochner, the Columbia University Press editor who sponsored Clyde Forsberg's book, to review a prepublication copy. My excitement turned to disappointment. Dr. Forsberg's confused views of Mormonism (founded 1830) and Freemasonry do disservice to both. For example, he asserted that the Scottish Rite's philosophy was 'the inspiration for the Book of Mormon and the rationale of the Mormon faith.' He supported this view by referencing Morals and Dogma (which actually expresses the post-1857 philosophical meanderings of Albert Pike). Forsberg did not understand that post-1830 sources do not necessarily reflect earlier Masonic ideas. Dr. Forsberg's errors were rampant. He claimed that Mormon founder Joseph Smith Jr. was a 33° Mason (he was not), that there is no reference to Hiram Abif in the Hebrew Bible (there is, in 2 Chronicles 4:16, '_ganash huram abiv la-melech shlomoh_'), that there were three Degrees in Masonry in 1717 (there were two), that the Chevalier Ramsey invented a system which included the Royal Arch Degree and a 'fanciful tale of Enoch's Golden plates.' All this is wrong. He also claimed Benjamin Franklin abandoned Freemasonry and its 'macabre business of secret suicide pacts.' In fact, Franklin was an active Mason from about 1730/31 (when he joined Old Tun Tavern Lodge) to the end of his life, and there are no such 'suicide pacts.' Forsberg called the Scottish Rite 'a decidedly Christian application' (it isn't), and asserted there are 'religious tests' in Freemasonry, which include a belief in the 'resurrection...of Hiram Abiff' (both are untrue). Dr. Forsberg's occasional sarcasm is forgivable, and even amusing. However, it does his book no service when he suggested that Freemasons are awaiting the discovery of documents to testify to the truth of allegorical legends. In another place, while discussing the Knights Templar, he wrote, '...according to the Masons....' Sadly, the reference is to a book almost universally dismissed by serious Masonic scholars. In a prepublication conversation, Dr. Forsberg admitted to me that he didn't have any authentic pre-1830 Scottish Rite documents or rituals to support his opinions. I informed Ms. Lochner that I read the prepublication copy cover-to-cover. I expressed my dismay with the book, stating that I was not *at all* persuaded by its arguments, as they revealed a fundamental misunderstanding of Freemasonry's history, rituals, and purposes. Dr. Forsberg's superimposed (and seriously flawed) views subsequently do disservice to both Mormonism and Freemasonry. In brief, I have *no confidence* in Dr. Forsberg's 'thesis.' After receiving a copy of the published book, I was further disappointed to discover that he 'corrected' the errors I observed above by simply altering the book on a point-by-point basis. This was inadequate and the book remains fundamentally flawed; it cannot be fixed with a masking-tape approach. My advice is to save your money. Arturo de Hoyos, 33° Grand Archivist and Grand Historian The Supreme Council, 33°, S.J. Washington, DCWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.