Masonic buildings crumbling and slipping away seems to be a growing trend these days that is promptly followed by passionate feelings on both sides of the matter. I am not going to directly address that issue here, but rather some of the thought process that goes behind those feelings; and the terminologies that commonly coincide. So why start this article off with that line? Well, within the arguments that insure after these buildings go, a phrase commonly uttered is “the lodge is the Brethren, not the building”. Yet, we use the term “lodge” in a manner that would directly conflict with that statement. “Are you going to be at the lodge tonight?” Now, one could, and more than likely will, argue the point that they could be referring to the group of men and not the building directly. That’s true, but if you examine that phrase, they are not. How about “Hey, I think the lights got left on at lodge”. We can hopefully agree at that point that we do commonly refer to the building itself as “the Lodge”. This is where I throw you all for a loop as I am not going to defend the use of the word lodge. In fact, I am going to purpose that we stop using the word lodge in that manner all together and call it what is intended to be, a Temple. Many of our beautiful old buildings even have this term written in stone along the top, “Masonic Temple”.
So why does it matter what we call it? My belief is that if we understood the principle of the spaces in which we meet, we would treat these spaces in higher regard. Temples are sacred spaces intended to be kept separate from the profane community. Their intended purposes are specific and serious in nature. These said intentions are what truly separate our workings from the various groups and clubs that attempt to steal away the Masonic luster. On a deeper level, these intended purposes are what truly ignite our spiritual journey.
Many today, express a sincere disappointment in the overall image portrayed by the Craft. The image that was is rarely the image that is anymore. Freemasonry has regressed from elegant halls, lavish events, and dapper men to that of run-down or abandoned buildings, and men in shorts and polos that want to sell them various raffle tickets or crummy meal admissions. What happened to us? Simply put, we got lazy, cheap, and started putting our efforts into excuses, rather than into actual Masonry. There is not just one reason for this change, it has been many things over time in regards to appeasing the individual over holding the individual accountable to the precepts of the Masonic traditions. With that being said maybe, just maybe, changing the viewpoint of where we meet will change how people treat it; causing a ripple effect of improvement. It is much more than a diet Coke fix, as they say. However, a step in the right direction sets the course for a new path.
Every meeting I attend, “Masonic Temple” catches my eye from the arched roofline and it sticks with me. It reminds me of where I am going and what my purpose is there. It is far from just a Thursday evening with the boys. I am there to work. The term lodge has been associated with so many different orders throughout the years and is just not taken seriously at the end of the day anymore. A Temple is respected and treated differently by those who enter it. A Temple is taken care of and not left in shambles. But, maybe you don’t have your own building. Maybe you rent space from a church or school for your meetings. That’s fine. The space you are utilizing for your ceremonies becomes your Temple during that time and should be treated accordingly. Allow your mind to process that. Seriously. Instill that into the hearts of your Brothers before engaging your work and instill this into candidates before they ever enter the gate. We are not here for the bills, Gents. We are here to work, and the work of a spiritual nature deserves a spiritual space. Think it over my Brother and hopefully one day we can sit in the Temple together.
Alex G. Powers