My friend and compatriot in France who collaborated, translated, and greatly expanded that country’s version of Freemasons For Dummies (Franc-maçonnerie Pour Les Nuls), Bro. Phillipe Benhamou, is a friendly, funny, and brilliant man who I am in the conflicting position of not being able to sit in the same lodge with under our rules of recognition. He is a longtime member of the Grand Loge de France, which is regular, but unrecognized by the majority of the outside Masonic world. Such is the state of Freemasonry and its own brand of internal and international politics.
(They are the second largest grand lodge in France, after the irregular Grand Orient de France. GLNF, the one we all are in amity with, is third.)
Phillipe’s job when he wrote the French edition went far beyond a simple translation of what I originally wrote (which has been done in Germany). My version primarily concentrated on Freemasonry as it functions in the U.S., and to a lesser extent, in the British Isles. But the French Masonic landscape is hugely complex and very different from us, for a variety of cultural, historic, and political reasons. The result is now three major grand governing bodies of lodges in that country, along with another ten or more minor ones of enough popularity to at least mention. Plus the various appendant bodies attached to all of them. Additionally, at least 20% of the Masons in France are women, and the Order of the Eastern Star is unknown there (female and mixed lodges have been at work in France since about 1740, in case anybody thinks there’s anything particularly “new” about it).
Wiley Publishing’s French partner for the Dummies series wanted a book that would appeal to all of the Masons in that country, along with the skeptics and non-Masons. So, the book Phillipe crafted is obviously very different from mine, and he faced an even more daunting task than I did. Unfortunately, it is often passed up by Masons there who would enjoy and benefit from it because they just assume it was written by a non-Mason, or an anti-Mason with a grudge. Most French readers have been surprised to find out he is indeed a member, after all. Interestingly, the publisher there has created a couple of different versions, including an expanded illustrated edition with many color photographs.
He will be speaking on Saturday, February 25th, 2017 at 2:00PM in the beautiful temple of the Grande Loge de France in Paris at 8 rue de Puteaux 75017, mere steps from the Rome Metro station.
His topic will be “Freemasonry: What Good is It?” and I suspect he will be shamelessly hawking books and signing them for those who show up with their own copies. (Phillipe is also a novelist, along with his actual vocation as a scientist in the French space program.) His presentation is a part of the GLdF’s Condorcet-Brossolette lecture series for the general public that discusses the role of Masonry in modern society by inviting a variety of speakers from a broad spectrum of viewpoints. The organizers are asking for attendees to register online HERE.