'Encampments' in Int'l Order of Odd Fellows & Biblical traditions


Tim McCormick
 

[travel diary post]: 
Encamping with the [International Order of] Odd Fellows, & "The Wrong Place for the Right People."

In every town I look out for or often seem to stumble across an I.O.O.F. building—International Order of Odd Fellows, inclusive fraternal organization formed early 18thC in UK, US offshoot 1819. Their buildings (often called 'lodges') are amazingly pervasive, though sometimes little-marked or repurposed. 

In Half Moon Bay here, on coast of San Francisco peninsula, this excellent place Cafe Society I'd picked out from afar to stop in at turned out to be, of course, the current iteration of coffee shop that has long been on ground floor of the IOOF building at 526 Main Street, home of Half Moon Bay Odd Fellows.


"Odd Fellows ensures no one is odd man out," says headline of 2017 Half Moon Bay Review  story about the branch here, known as Ocean View Lodge. https://www.hmbreview.com/news/odd-fellows-ensures-no-one-is-odd-man-out/article_b6e4da60-eaa0-11e7-9421-3b5f60770def.html. IOOF was also the first fraternal organization to admit women, since 1851.

Particularly interesting to me is the IOOF's 'Encampment' concept & iconography. An Encampment is a higher-level order within a lodge, for more senior & honored members. My sense is that the tent / encampment theme comes mainly from the Hebrew Bible (which, especially the Pentateuch ie Torah, is full of descriptions of camps, settlements, tents or temporary pavilions). 

It challenges conventional modern understanding, that a more honored and responsible 'Order' would be represented by an 'encampment.' Yet it expresses and preserves an ancient view, perhaps best known (in 'Western' world) today via the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament and offshoots: of life as a spiritual journey and accordingly, temporary settlements as, potentially, sanctified points and waystations. 

Incidentally, the name "Cafe Society" apparently is alluding to the trailblazing Cafe Society opened on Sheridan Square, Greenwich Village, NYC in 1938, a leading jazz and political club, and also the first to be fully racially integrated. It was advertised as "The Wrong Place for the Right People" by founder Barney Josephson. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caf%C3%A9_Society.


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Tim McCormick
Moderator PDX Shelter Forum, Editor at HousingWiki,
Organizer at Village Collaborative
Portland, Oregon 

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