Monday, May 12, 2008

Whither the Odd Fellows?

I've been thinking a lot about the Odd Fellows since my post last week, saddened to see a once-vibrant fraternity disappearing and wondering how it was that the Masons have remained comparatively strong as the Odd Fellows seem to be fading away. Looking at the directory of Massachusetts Odd Fellows' lodges, most of them are in the greater Boston area and some of the ones further west are indicated on the map, but no longer listed below... presumably gone dark.

Is there some vital difference that has kept Freemasonry alive while Odd Fellowship has faltered? Or (and I suspect this may the case) did the Masons' state-by-state Grand Lodge system provide better regional autonomy and support for lodges during the leanest years than the IOOF's internationally sovereign structure?

There's a part of me that feels like I should petition Naukeag Lodge in Ashburnham, Massachusetts if only to try and help keep it alive --and, I admit, to satisfy my curiosity about how the Odd Fellows' degrees compare and contrast to the three Blue Lodge degrees. As a motive for joining, though, that feels rather empty compared to the visceral "That's what I've been looking for" feeling I had when I asked to become a Mason.

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