"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."

Monday, October 15, 2007

700th Templar Anniversary Aftermath

Many, many thanks to all who came out last night. It was a great experience to be able to put on this presentation on the 700th anniversary of the Templar arrests, as well as having the opportunity to be part of the DeMolay degrees.

What made the day so gratifying were the literally dozens of young men who came up to us afterwards and expressed real enthusiasm for what they had seen. DeMolay boys, York Rite members and even relatives of Templars who were on the sidelines came up, and we heard the same thing over and over and over. "This is what we always think of when we hear about the Knights Templar!" And I've never seen so many photos taken at a York Rite event in my life.

I think it's important for everyone to understand that it is not our intention to detract from the existing Knights Templar concentration on military-style drill teams, nor to seriously suggest that the existing KT uniform be chucked in favor of chain mail and steel helmets. What we represent is simply another aspect of Templary that obviously generates great interest, that has long been ignored by the Masonic Templar Order. Throughout the 1800s when the Templar Order grew, there were literally hundreds of other fraternal groups that styled themselves as "knights." The Romantic Age was almost single-handedly invented by Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe and brave tales of chivalry and knighthood. Those groups largely don't exist anymore, yet new interest in knighthood is growing within the last two generations of men. And I firmly believe that it is stories of the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars' Jedi Knights that keep this flame alive in new generations. It is those men that a group like Levant Preceptory interests.

Events like the Renaissance faires, Civil War and WWII events, the feast of the Hunter's Moon, as well as the growth of the Society for Creative Anachronism show that there is an expanding interest in period recreation and reenactment. With the dropping of York and Scottish Rite requirements for Shrine membership, the Rites have lost their guaranteed membership conscripts from more than 100 years of the old requirements. They must now stand or fall on their own. We believe this may be one path to the future for the Templars of the York Rite. Most of us in Levent Preceptory have no interest in the 19th century drill team model, but we are very interested in history and legend, along with chivalry as a modern, real-world concept. Our group does not suck men away from the drill teams. It brings in new men who might have otherwise not given Templar membership a second glance.

Again, many thanks to Grand Commander Andrew Jackson and the many, many Sir Knights, ladies, brethren and DeMolays who came out last night. We hope what you saw made you think of Templary in a whole new light (or at least in a very, very, very old one). And we hope you enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed presenting it.

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