Saturday, June 8, 2019

No terrorist cells in this one

“Tempel Riddare Orden 100 År i Norden” is a very obscure book, published in 1987. I was somewhat disappointed reading it, I mean, I had hoped that the “Knights Templar Order” described in the book would turn out to be a sinister and shadowy upper class cult of half-crazed terrorist wanna-bees, based in *Sweden* of all places, but naaah… 

The TRO is actually an extremely respectable Christian temperance lodge! Think Good Templars and you get at least part of the drift.

The TRO has its roots in the 19th century American temperance movement. Its US parent society was formed in 1845 and was first called the Temple of Honor. Its members came from a much larger temperance movement, the Sons of Temperance. In 1849, the Temple of Honor broke all relations with the larger body and became fully independent as the Temple of Honor and Temperance. The first Swedish lodge was established in 1887. Interestingly, the Temple of Honor later died out in the United States, and in 1938 the Supreme Council was officially transferred to Sweden. Today (or at least in 1987), Tempel Riddare Orden (Order of the Knights of the Temple) exists in all Nordic countries. This book contains material in both Swedish, Danish and Norwegian.

Membership is limited to Christian males, and absolute abstinence from alcohol and drugs is (of course) a requirement for all members. While the order is non-partisan, it certainly has political connections, since several of its past Swedish Grand Masters have been Members of Parliament for the centrist Liberal Party. The Liberals used to regroup both free-thinking atheists and people with a background in the free churches (Christian denominations outside the Church of Sweden). Another prominent member is Bengt Göransson, a Social Democrat and former minister of culture and education. King Gustav VI Adolf was briefly the “protector” of the order. Many leading members of the TRO are/were also active in the IOGT, a more well-known temperance organization.

So why is the TRO a separate body at all? The main reason seems to be that the “Knights Templar Order” is strongly inspired by Masonry and its esoteric (or perhaps pseudo-esoteric) rituals. During the heyday of fraternal societies and orders back in the 19th century, this probably didn´t look so strange as it does today. After all, even the super-respectable IOGT is named after the crusading medieval knights of the Temple! Are we to believe this book, the Temple of Honor and the TRO were more seriously into Masonic ritualism than many other temperance groups, which gradually abandoned the concept. So did the Temple of Honor eventually, but the ritual work continued unabated in the Nordic offshoots. The rituals of the TRO are secret, but its meeting halls (showed in this volume) certainly remind me of the Freemasons. It seems the order was “outed” by some misguided tabloid reporters in the early 1980´s, and I suppose I could find the details if diligently searching for them, but who cares? Let me guess: you lie down in a coffin, hold a skull, and then experience a resurrection to the tunes of a Mozart composition?

With that jocular comment, I leave you for tonight. ;-)

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