Sunday, October 7, 2007

Forgotten Words of the Day: Lodge and Order

The word lodge is one of those words that has multiple meanings. The two meaning that we are looking at today are related, and are in danger of becoming obscure and obsolete. We will also have to peek at another word, Order, that is tied heavily to the first one. For me, today's words are not forgotten, but I can see that they are definitely endangered.

Lodge--1: The meeting place of a branch of certain fraternal organizations (such as Freemasonry and Golden Dawn). 2: the members composing said branch.

It is seriously doubtful that the Freemasons control the world considering the local lodge can not even decide what type of potato salad to bring to the picnic.

A hundred years ago, these uses of the word were nott as rare as they are today. In fact, a century ago, forty percent of the adult population belonged to at least one Order.

What is an Order?

An Order is a group of two or more lodges that share the same upper-level administration and resources.

And I am not just talking about old white men. I mean the entire adoult population. White, black; young, old; men, women--if they wanted to belong to a lodge, there was an Order that would have them as members.

Depending upon your wants and needs, there was an Order to address those needs. My grandmother was a member of the Modern Woodmen, and Order that provided insurance.

(The lodges were a way to pool resources and unite in pursuit of a common goal.)

The Orders were so much a facet of our Western culture that their presence was recorded in our modern media (aka television). Jackie Gleason on the Honeymooners made fun of the lodges. Fred Flintstone belonged to a lodge. On Frasier, Kelsey Grammer's character (Doctor Crane) and his brother were members of a wine club that for all extents and purposes was a lodge (they called it a Club).

So why are the terms Lodge and Order becoming forgotten? Simply because lodge membership is becoing a rarity.

The membership of the Orders has declined because of a combination of factors. The rise of insurance companies and the welfare system has removed much of the need behind belonging to a lodge. The political movement of the sixties caused an entire generation to become non-joiners. (The effect fo the internet could go either way--time will tell.) Today, many Orders have closed the last of their lodges and have became extinct.

Others like the Freemasons are divided into two camps, the young and the very old (I would be considered young), who disagree in what the purpose of Freemasonry is. This division of purpose is driving that esteemed Order ever closer to extinction (it may be as soon as a decade if you believe certain estimates).

Some Orders, such as the Golden Dawn based Orders, have been forced to create correspodence courses and online support groups to cope with the fact that interested individuals live so far apart that assembling a lodge is near impossible.

The concept of lodges and Orders are a distinctly Western idea, one that deserves saving, so get out there and spread knowledge of the term.

Refer to your local writer's group as a lodge; annoy your knitting circle by calling them such.

Remember it is only by keeping the idea of the concept alive that we can ensure that future generations will have knowledge of it.

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