Book Review – Emulation: A Ritual to Remember

How does one begin to review a masonic classic which has faithfully served generations? Perhaps starting with the title Emulation: A Ritual to Remember

Emulation or not, most of us will remember well the task of remembering ritual! C.F.W. Dyer’s book, first published in 1973, gives a celebratory account of Emulation Lodge of Improvement’s 150 years of service – warts and all.  

Emulation: A Ritual to Remember 

The Lodge, the Men and the Times
Covering One Hundred & Fifty Years History of the Emulation Lodge Of Improvement.
by C.F.W. Dyer

Reviewed by Gerald Reilly

Humans evolved unique cognitive abilities which enabled their construction of a parallel universe of the imagination.

This is communicated in stories, tales, sagas, mythology, legend, drama and narratives: these are often combined into ritual and rules.

Those who believe stories trust their source, trust is formed between those who believe the same stories.

This is the basis of human systems of order including masonic rituals and constitutions.  

Dyer’s book makes clear that Emulation did not arrive by app from beyond the cloud; rather it was a painful, controversial, struggle to create an ‘authentic’ universal text and red-worded directions to be delivered with rigour: a bid for orthodoxy! 

But of course, ritual has a life of its own, ‘the letter killeth but the spirit giveth life’.

From the Chair and floor, feeling – passion even – must be communicated between the participants to the candidate and those observing.     

Twenty years ago, this reviewer acquired a copy of the 1995 Second Edition of Dyer’s book; it yet remains important, ritual provides the mystical binding of a lodge.

Within a lodge we are speculative freestone masons doing good work.

Outside the lodge, based on the lessons of the ritual, we are operative Freemasons doing good works.

For many lodges, identity and self-respect is based on excellent performance of ritual, as reinforced, hopefully, with the approbation of the long-serving members and the lodges around.

On one occasion, having invested considerable time learning ritual to confer a degree, I was told that, “I had got away with it”.

Such was furthest from my intentions; it should not be the intention of anyone; we cannot produce square work by cutting corners. 

Emulation: A Ritual to Remember is an epic of square work and a template for anyone seeking to deliver a major project of quality.   

 

Article by: Gerald Reilly

Gerald Reilly was initiated in 1995 into St Osyth's Priory Lodge 2063. Essex. England (UGLE). 

He was a founder member of Josh Heller's Allthingsmasonic, and with Josh co-wrote 'The Temple that Never Sleeps' (Cornerstone Books, 2006) he is committed to the development of e-Freemasonry.

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