A Facebook conversation about a post by the Dedicated Members for Change.
There is so much more that could be discussed on this topic, but hopefully this will get a discussion from both sides going.
Mark Haines Spence, Union Lodge #213, New Jersey
“I read an article from a member of Davis lodge in California say we need to change ritual and what I gathered we should just have one degree. I reject that suggestion and the brother/sister is sadly mistaken if that is what is meant by,
“The ritual of our Order needs to be re-written, revised, streamlined and modernized. This project should be completed within two years. In addition, at the end of the revision period, the Order shall have only one password, only one sign, and only one grip. The password, sign and grip may be changed annually.”
Revision to a minimum scale maybe one thing but our three degree system was in place for a reason and should never become one degree, one pass, or grip. The problem a lot of us do not know how to find the treasure in these degrees this system is meant to imprint on your mind. I also disagree with the mere thoughts of being social for if we are just social there would not be a need for a degree system. The degrees are meant to teach morals, or for some to reiterate common morals amongst man. That is one of our down falls we do not focus enough on this aspect. What needs to change in the Order to progress is bring back more our original traditions and make lodge more formal and less lacked nation wide. Bring more quality members in but set a strict example from the start to show dignity and purpose to being an Odd Fellow and lodge should not become a tedious repetitive routine.
Teike Van Baden, Alcmaria Lodge #95, Netherlands
The 3 degrees have a symbolic meaning that is derived from ancient systems.
It is derived from the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Most initiatory systems follow this. Also the Masonic ones and the Rosicrucian ones.
For example, the 33 degrees in Scottish rite of the Masons follows the 11 sepiroth (10 buth DAATH is included) and 22 paths between them.
The 12 Yorkish rite degrees follow the symbolic meaning of 12 of the initiatory degree in Masonic ritual.
The 3 comes from Alchemy: salt, sulfur and mercury. And would, in ancient times be translated into mind, body, soul. The format of 3 degrees is built on this alchemic formula.
So have OddFellows rituals got a historic meaning and symbolic meaning. Leaving this behind and going to one degree would just be madness and can only be suggested by a member that has no sense of historic and symbolic context.
Because the IOOF rituals are very exoteric oriented on the products of the ritual and brotherhood and not the technical and esoteric meaning the symbolism is easily misunderstood. The goal of the ritual is to raise a member to a nobler plane. But there need to be members with sufficient technical understanding of the history and mystery.
Of course, the ambience within a Lodge is built by its members and ritual is only a guideline. We together create what is worthy but destroying the ritual would be a very unwise move.
Will Brown, Mystic Lodge #270, Pennsylvania
Wow, you Brothers said a mouthful. I believe that the system is fine the way it is as you both say and that we should focus on exactly improving the teaching and esoteric understanding. There are many things to create the proper atmosphere, but it all starts with the intention. Taking what we’d seriously and solemnly, is a start. Also, I think there is a need for appendant bodies. This would help with the expounding of the teachings and be a good hangout for the esoterically inclined.
Ainslie Heilich, Tuscola Lodge #316, Illinois
I think this is a great conversation. I have read much of the Dedicated Members for Change stuff and like you, I believe trimming out the rituals is bad and will make us no different from Moose, Rotary, Kiwanis. We will lose our uniqueness. Also, I believe, like everyone in this thread that we need to emphasis the deeper lessons of the Degrees. That is part of what attracted us younger members, the mystery of it all, contrary to what the Dedicated Members for Change think. If we get enough active young voices writing about our love and regard for the deeper lessons that are being lost to our Order then it will show those above us that they are worth keeping and teaching…and not just going through the motions for.