Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Rosslyn Hoax

Robert L. D. Cooper's book The Rosslyn Hoax has just been made available in paperback, and is being sold directly through the George Washington Masonic National Memorial's gift shop. This is great news on a couple of fronts. It's so much cheaper than having the hardback version shipped from the UK. It has a spiffy color cover showing the chapel before it had its corrugated tin roof put up to dry the place out. Lewis Masonic spared no expense in stamping a raised pentagram on the cover, to excite the Wiccans and Anti-Masonic foes alike, along with Da Vinci Code enthusiasts. And, of course, buying it from the Memorial helps to support its ongoing operation.

One other benefit - Amazon is shipping in 4 to 6 weeks.

The Memorial will ship in 4 to 6 hours.

Seriously, I continue to tell everyone I can that Robert's book is perhaps the most important book yet published about Rosslyn Chapel. What makes it so important is that he actually has investigated the many claims made about the enigmatic little church over the centuries, especially the last few decades. I say it's an important book. I didn't say it will make everyone happy. And the reason why is because he slaughters an entire herd of sacred cattle with his investigations of the many claims of Templar involvement in Freemasonry's formation and the building of Rosslyn. Or to put it another way, if you believe Born In Blood, The Temple and the Lodge and Rosslyn: Guardians Of The Grail to be the truth, Robert Cooper is your blasphemer.

Cooper is the curator of the Grand Lodge of Scotland's library and museum, which posses much original material that other authors have written about, but never actually gone to look at and study in person. Moreover, Cooper takes claims of Templar sites, burial markers and supposed influence and subjects them to the historical record or compares them to authentic Templar sites. Most important of all, he places the origins of the original claims made (often by 17th and 18th century Scottish Masons) into their proper historical and social context, exploring just why Scottish Freemasons might have desired an older, more glorious heritage for their fraternity than those uppity English Masons down in London who were claiming it as their own. Cooper makes an outstanding case for forgeries, Victorian alterations and a lot of wishful thinking.

Certainly there is a place for mythology in this world, and it would be a pretty barren life indeed if we didn't have our share of story tellers who, with a gleam in their eye and a wink to the knowing, began by speaking the words, "Once upon a time..." Freemasonry is no different. Just as long as we understand what is myth and what is history, and the difference between them.

As I said, if you believe the Knights Templars saved the day at Bannockburn, built Rosslyn Chapel, and then morphed into the Freemasons, you should undoubtedly already be collecting logs and kindling for Robert Cooper's hotfoot. But if you are a seeker of the truth behind this curious and beautiful place, start with The Rosslyn Hoax.

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