Rational Religion: The Mystery of Freemasonry and the Quest to Find the Jesus of History takes us on a journey through time, back even past the birth of Jesus to the time when man first began to gather together in communities and to question their place in the Universe. Author Tony Sunderland has approached the subject from the beginning precepts of Freemasonry and his knowledge and understanding of the craft. He takes us through the basic concept of pantheism that predicates Freemasonry and the idea that this is an organisation of secrecy and development designed for the individual to discover enlightenment personally through following levels of study and to awaken the spark of the divine that is believed, by the Freemasons, to be a part of us all. We then travel back to the dawn of civilisation to examine the ideas and philosophies that governed ancient groupings of humanity, including the two most influential of them all; the Egyptians and the Greeks. The author then examines the greatest religion of the past two millennium, that of Christianity. He looks to the bible and to other historical sources to try to understand who Jesus was and what his place was in contemporary Jewish society of the time. Unlike many works, the author focuses on the human, Jewish, Jesus as opposed to the divine, Messianic, Jesus.
I love books that challenge established precepts and that investigate what often seems to be the impossible and Rational Religion: The Mystery of Freemasonry and the Quest to Find the Jesus of History does exactly that. Firstly Author Tony Sunderland’s exposition on the origins and purposes of Freemasonry was fascinating. As a former member of a Druidic Order, I had often wondered about the mysterious nature of Freemasonry and of course had always heard of the “conspiracy theories” regarding the Knights Templar, the Illuminati, and the Catholic Church, so I did find his simple explanations fascinating, even if he was still unwilling to divulge too many of the secrets of the Order. Secondly the honest attempt to discover the real, human, Jewish, Jesus was enlightening on its own. I was enthralled with his attempts to draw a possible relationship between the Jewish Jesus and the isolationist Jewish sect of Qumran, from where we received the Dead Sea Scrolls. This was, for me, riveting reading. His comparison between the mind-set of the Jewish people in 70CE, before the destruction of the second Temple and that of people today was simply chilling, frighteningly realistic and perhaps even prophetic. The only thing missing from this exposition, I felt, was some nod to the concepts of “New-Age thought”, as expressed by the likes of Prentice Mulford and Joseph Campbell. The idea of divinity being inside of every human is central to this movement. Nevertheless, this is a fascinating and very readable book that I highly recommend anyone who has ever asked the question, “why”, reads.