100 Days To Learn Masonic Ritual: A Workbook To Learn Masonic Ritual In 100 Days And Prepare For The Worshipful Master’s Chair, by Robert Bone
This book is not quite what one would expect to an outsider in Masonry, and indeed the important part of the book’s title is the last part of the subtitle. This book is quite bluntly for one small group of people, and that is those who have been nominated to the WM chair for a lodge that follows something akin to the British approach to masonic ritual. This is made clear, of course, when one starts to read the book, although it may not be clear to someone who finds a short description of the book online. Personally speaking, the book is not at all relevant to me as a reader in terms of its content. Yet at the same time it is a worthwhile book in terms of its approach because it gives an approach to learning that can be useful in learning other things than what the book itself discusses and that is something that is deeply intriguing to this reader at least even if this is a book without a great deal of mainstream appeal.
This book consists broadly of two parts. The first part of the short book of a bit more than 150 pages consists of various sections that discuss how the book is to be used. It begins with an introduction that explains the author’s own background and experience, then moves to a look at the best time of day or place to learn Masonic ritual, how long it takes to learn it, some useful hints and tips, learning and memory techniques on how to learn better, a discussion of how to use the Lodge of Instruction as a way of focusing on the performative aspects of the ritual rather than the memorization of it, and calculating the start date of the 100 days based on the day before the ceremony. The rest of the book then consists of a 100 day plan to learn the ritual before one’s date of installation. Each of the days is numbered and named as to what tasks are recommended on them, and then there are a few paragraphs about the material covered. This is longer at the beginning when things are first explained and then shorter when one is reviewing the material later on. At the bottom there are notes for the reader to remark about how things went. The book then ends with some useful links.
How to learn is an interesting question. The author is dealing with formal ritual that is repeated once or twice in a year with a high desire to get things right. The conscientious nature of the writer in terms of fulfilling obligations and giving others the benefit of his own experience in learning particular phrases that need to be said at specific points at specific times has led him to write a book that emphasizes rote memorization and practice and then focuses on using this mastery as a basis for then being able to convey the words through performance. There is a lot to appreciate and celebrate here and this is likely to be a book that is viewed highly by its very small intended audience of ambitious master masons who have made the progression through the various offices in a lodge and now approach the time where they are to serve as a WM in their lodge, with some encouragement into how they can do it correctly. Again, while not relevant for me as a reader, it is easy to see how this book would be very appreciated by those who do find it relevant to their experience.