The Templar Code for Dummies

Christopher Hodapp & Alice VonKannon

Sometimes my Brother Masons can really cause problems for me. Take Chris Hodapp as an example. This guy is starting to seriously cut into my ice cream money! Here he is with yet ANOTHER must-have book! And this isn’t one of those ‘I’ll get it someday’-type of ‘must have’ books: this is a ‘get the darn thing NOW’-type. Good grief. Doesn’t he realize that I could wither away to a mere normal size if he keeps publishing at this rate?

I shouldn’t complain: Chris’ first two books – “Freemasons for Dummies” and “Solomon’s Builders” were both excellent nutrition for my mind. In the first, he did something that many Masons (including myself, I’ll admit) had dreamed of for years: creating a detailed but easy to understand book that would be a broad overview of Freemasonry and all the pieces relating thereto. Despite whinging about the (series) title heard from time to time (”We don’t need no Dummies!” Whiners!), Chris managed to place into a readable – and, more importantly, understandable – context the huge number of things that folks want to know about the organization.

In his second book, he provided cogent and rational explanations for many of the alleged conspiracies we Masons are supposed to be nefariously plotting in and around the Washington, DC area. Another ‘must have’ book, it was simple and elegant. In offering the reader facts and information in a very readable format, he debunked the many myths that even Masons perpetuate.

The dynamic duo

Now in “The Templar Code for Dummies” he teams up with his wife, Alice Von Kannon to tackle the ‘daddy’ of all confusion: the Knights Templar. Amazingly, they’ve managed to untie the Gordian knot of tales, fables, misunderstandings, myths, lies, and leaving an amazingly readable reference work that will not disappoint – unless, of course, you’re someone who makes a living peddling some Templar tale or someone who doesn’t want to be confused by the facts.

My personal interest in ‘things Templar’ goes back to my pre-teen years. My family had friends who lived on a lake in Westford, Massachusetts where we’d go to visit on weekends every summer so I could go swimming in something other than the ooze of the local pool. I’ve seen that ‘Templar stone’ long before the internet gave it notoriety. I joined DeMolay at the age of 16 and because I was too old to have gone through my chapter’s progressive officer line to the top, I was given an even better ‘consolation prize’: being selected to become Jacques DeMolay in that organization’s DeMolay Degree play. (I revisited the Westford stone with my heightened knowledge of ‘things Templar’ – or so I thought - at that time too!) Heck, I’ve even been to Stirlingshire in Scotland and stood on the field where the Battle of Bannockburn took place. I waited for some sort of mystical connection to wash over me but, disappointingly, none came. Nevertheless, over the years, the Templars and I became reasonably good friends. With my history, it was with some trepidation I opened the box in which this new “Dummies” book arrived. I couldn’t possibly imagine what tack Chris would take. Everyone seems to have approached the Templars from a particular angle. One author talks about their exploits as warriors, another from the perspective of Catholic Church history and another from the fantasies of the Templar Fleet and their supposed exploits in Scotland and beyond. Besides that, I’d just read (finally) Paul Naudon’s book about ‘The Secret History of Freemasonry: Its Origins and Connection to the Knights Templar‘. What more was there to learn about those robed guys?

A LOT more

Much, I was surprised to discover. Just as with his other two works, Chris gave precious few clues prior to publication. The book just seemed to ‘appear’ out of the mist – somewhat akin to the Templars at the Battle of Bannockburn (?), but this time with provable form. It’s my belief that if you hadn’t been paying close attention and happened to see the bread crumbs falling, you could have easily missed the fact that a third book was even in the offing. Consequently, I bought this figuring I could use it to hold up a broken table if nothing else. Any baseball fan will tell you that you just can’t hit the ball out of the park on every swing.

Well, guess what? Chris and Alice have tackled the Templars from not one or two angles but nearly EVERY one - and in the process, gotten yet a third home run in a row. If you’ve ever read works about the Templars before and felt like you’d just asked a question of one of the blind men describing an elephant, then this is certainly the book for you.

In the introduction, the authors start by explaining how they’ve broken down the material into interesting and manageable chunks: there’s a section for those who know essentially nothing about the Templars, another for those wanting solid information about the Freemason-Templar connection, and yet another for those who’ve only really taken an interest as a result of Dan Brown’s blockbuster novel and less commercially successful movie which was hyped to the hilt – so to speak. At the outset, the reader is told that they’re free to jump around in the book so I immediately went to the section about Freemasonry’s connection. I kept going, learning about temperance societies who’ve taken the Templar’s name and about various groups that have chivalric trappings even today. Coherent, stimulating, and – most of all – simple to read and understand. I went back and started at the beginning. It was great!

Finding fault

So what’s wrong with the book? Well, for those who’ve studied history and aren’t prone to childish postulations, nothing at all. Chris and Alice ‘tell it like it is’. Facts, presented in easy-to-read language, are arranged in a cohesive and readily approachable manner. But “reality bites” and therein lies the rub. In a single sentence, for example, the authors will point out: “There is no….” or “There never was….”and thus destroy a supposition some other author has used to create a plethora of books from which they’re deriving income and ostensible fame. Because there are so many grail/templar theories, a book like this which kicks sacred cows – all of them - is not going to sit well with the fanatical followers of Knight, Lomas, Wallace-Murphy, Twyman, Lincoln, Gardiner, Sora, Mann, Pickett, Prince, Baigent, Leigh, ‘Prince Michael of Albany’ and the rest. They’ll say that Chris and Alice have not disproven the claim that DeMolay was buried in the Shroud of Turin or that the Apprentice Pillar really does have a connection to Freemasonry. Applying assumptions and ignoring inconvenient truths, they’ll continue to assert that they’re right in their assumptions and that Chris and Alice have not disproven their claims. It’s odd, though, because using the normal rules of logic and argument, those presenting the theories are responsible for providing the facts, not those doing the debunking. And debunking is a good (in size and fact) part of this work, believe me!

It is difficult, though, to accept facts sometimes. I’m completely convinced, for example, that the moon is actually delicious vanilla custard. Since those moon landings were obviously faked by the Masons anyway, you can’t prove differently! On things such as this will hang the commercial success of the book but for Masons, you’re cheating yourself if you don’t buy and READ it. It’s well worth the small price even if you do have to give up a little chocolate ice cream as I did!

Next up: CONSPIRACIES! Who woulda thunk it? Keep 'em coming, Chris. You won't get rich on my sole purchase but by golly, I'll spread the word. That said, I really do encourage readers of this site to buy and read the other books by Chris as well. You'll definitely advance your Masonic knowledge by so doing!

The Westford Knight

If you're interested in that Westford Knight stone, you might enjoy a fictional book by David S. Brody who lives there: Cabal of The Westford Knight: Templars at the Newport Tower. It's a pretty darn good read! You can follow his blog here.



Full Disclosure: All of the books above were purchased by me from Amazon using my own funds. I received no requests or inducements to provide this review or mention. Ed King

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