Well friends, the Dan Brown storm has arrived and guess what, no one died. The book that was going to ruin the Fraternity and send pitchfork carrying villagers to kill the Masonic monster hiding in the Lodge downtown never came to fruition. Now that I have read through the book, I can honestly and unequivocally say that...
Nick thought to himself, Should the public know what my opinion of this book is? Are they ready for the truth?
"Okay, I think I can tell my readers my opinion but I'm afraid of the ramifications."
"Ramifications?" The old man looked blindly at him, wondering what could possibly happen if the young man, the Millennial Freemason as he enjoyed calling himself, (as if he were the only one)decided to reveal his personal feelings about a piece of pop culture. Just say what you're thinking and get us out of this terribly written parody of a Dan Brown novel.
Damn, he knows I'm stalling. Nick looked at the old man and hoped he would just get out of this moment, this sad, stupid moment. Wait, where did this guy come from, anyway? Whatever.
"Alright, alright, I'll reveal my opinion of this book, but I don't want people to call me a sellout." He waited for the old man to speak, but he would be unable to in time; he never thought he would see something so magnificent.
Whoops, sorry about that, I don't know what happened. The focus of "the Lost Symbol" is aimed directly at Freemasonry, specifically Scottish Rite Masonry. Reading the book made me remember why I liked his books; they are written in the glorious American tradition of pulp. Pulp novels, pulp movies, and comic books are great escapes for the mind. Yeah, you English class snobs (and you know who you are) will be saying, "if a book is not stimulating, such as Joyce's Ulysses or Milton's Paradise Loooosss, ow ow ow owwww!" Yeah, that's what I thought; now where was I... Oh yeah, these novels are not meant to be high art, nor are they meant to present as truth all those crazy ideas that are put in them. They are adventure novels meant as escapism. Think Dr. Samson, or the more modern example, Indiana Jones.
This book provided the right levels of escapism, adventure, patriotism, and a devotion to a higher belief that I came away thinking, "wow, Freemasons really are cool, which means, by association, I'm cool." (The editors of the "Millennial Freemason" take no responsibility for the claims made in the previous statement.) I enjoyed arriving at the end of a two page chapter and having no problem going in for another bite. It's like salty popcorn, not dangerous to your body, but you'll never survive on popcorn alone.
The story is basically a treasure hunt and race against time in one whirlwind trip. The book runs through the city of Washington, D.C. connecting seemingly unconnected works, places, and ideas into a cohesive story. Now, in reality, nothing in the "real world" is connected in the way the book tries to make it but I don't care, I had fun. The city of Washington is built upon the models of Grecian, Roman, and Egyptian architecture, turning the city into something foreign and familiar, exoteric and esoteric.
Whether Robert Langdon is running through the Capitol Crypts or speeding to the House of the Temple, Brown makes Washington alive, secretive, and illuminating. Now, for those who haven't read the book, I will warn you now that there may be some spoilers but nothing that wasn't revealed in other reviews.
The Masonic Fraternity is represented very well by this book. 33rd Degree is the central point from which this entire book revolves around, kind of like a circumpunct. Robert Langdon dispels many of the myths that have been spread by the Anti-Masons, including the head of the devil in the D.C. street plan as well as not hiding from some of the criticism that we also receive including no female Masons in CGMINA-recognized Grand Lodges. But ultimately, Dan Brown treats Masonry extremely fairly, we are the heroes. The book reveals very little about our ritual which was in my mind surprising considering how mysterious our ways are. Ritual is our language and our code. Our path to illumination comes from the stones laid by the early authors of our ritual. Brown instead looks at our goals and teachings to give our Fraternity an air of intelligence, our goal of truth literally surrounding the National Mall. Our history is delved into in some parts but of course, it is simplified. (The Scottish Rite is viewed as a single body instead of the NMJ or SJ in the United States.) And yes, we finally learn why we keep eunuchs out of the Lodge room, ;).
In the end, the book is a bowl of popcorn, a book of fun and frolic on the same order as "National Treasure." I enjoyed myself and although I have read the works of Milton and Shakespeare, there comes a time when the mind should be given a chance to wander. “The Lost Symbol” may be pulp but it was good, clean, old-fashioned, all-American pulp.