Lodge or temple?
The Masonic approach conceals a fundamental ambiguity present since the 18th century and which is still expressed today in the form of a divergence of appreciation on the true objective of the Masonic approach.
Is it the desire to see the creation of a social bond in its egalitarian and fraternal mode or the fascination for an esoteric approach essentially of biblical inspiration aiming at preparing the existential mutation in the eternal East?
This ambiguity, which is satisfied with a common language, is often watered down and left to the free interpretation of each and every one because it suits everyone by allowing an apparent unity.
In reality there are in fact two great Masonic schools:
the one, resulting from the companionship, that one could call the libertarian school: it wishes to assert itself in the real, the concrete and the present; it is it which invested itself in the Europe of the Enlightenment, of the human rights and the social conquests; it is it which emphasizes the work and the improvement in art and the gesture ;
and the one, which could be called the illuminist school, which invests itself in a more or less delirious ideation taking the form of a transfer towards the irrational; it is the freemasonry of the Ragon, Martinez de Pasqually, Willermoz and others.
Historically, it is the lodge that constitutes the originality of freemasonry. But gradually by small touches and for reasons rather political, it is the temple that is "magnified"; the temple through rituals promotes the control of institutions and especially obediences that impose a mode of operation where the debate in the lodge is proscribed, the work is summarized in a catechism!
History shows variations in the emphasis of one or the other approach; each also having variations according to countries, obediences, political circumstances and human beings! Rituals have been sophisticated under the influence of the Illuminist school that reigns over the "high" grades, but in many lodges rituals have lost their meaning and play only a secondary and formal role.
This ambiguity is also intrinsic to the commitment of each of us according to our desires and moods. Everyone knows that Freemasons are rather pragmatic individuals, more oriented towards realities than elucubrations; but for some, it gives a certain pleasure to attend a beautiful ceremony even if one does not understand much about it! And then the obediences love the big masses, not to mention the trade of grades and cords which is always rewarding!
This ambiguity is also found in a confusion between the lodge (the workshop) and the temple:
the lodge (or workshop) is the meeting place located near the construction site; we are there to meet, exchange, share, reflect and develop a common thought, in a word to work!
the temple is the place of prayer, meditation, adoration! In a temple we don't work, we don't think, we pray! There are even some temples where it is forbidden to use the first name: one is vouching for oneself my dear!
The Masonic approach does not strictly speaking need a temple; on the other hand, it cannot be conceived without a lodge!
It even happens that some obediences no longer have lodges for having transformed them into temples! Today we see "lodges" where exchanges no longer exist and the work is limited to the worship of a ritual!
This ambiguity is sterile and leads to false debates that never end and lead to nothing! The world today, as in the 18th century, needs intelligence, work and reflection in an open, tolerant and innovative spirit.
It is a pity to see all this energy lost in a practice that brings nothing but the pleasure of making it pretty! It is understandable that the ceremonial has a "mouth" but the exclusivity of formalism kills reflection!
Let us know how to put the temple back in its true place while giving meaning to the work in a lodge faithful to the initiators of this freemasonry of social ties that has also seduced philosophers and inventors of progress!
Ps: see also the post by Roger Dachez on Living Stones entitled "A fruitful equivocation: the Lodge and the Temple".