In my previous blog entry about the history of Silent Hill's cult, I had originally intended to include a small section about the cult's name, as it is accepted by series fans: "The Order". However, it wasn't really relevant to the specific topic of the in-game cult history, since it is a more meta point about the games in general. So instead, I decided to make it a brief independent article:
Joseph's article is the source of
the name "The Order".
I am one of a subset of Silent Hill fans who does not like using the term "The Order" to refer to the game's cult. For one thing, the name reminds me of the movie and Homecoming, which causes a resentful knee-jerk reaction. But there are also other in-game evidences to suggest that naming the cult might not have been intentional.
The primary source for the name "The Order" comes from an article written by the journalist Joseph Schreiber which details an orphanage that is run by a sect of Silent Hill's cult.
This article is present in Silent Hill 3 as well as Silent Hill 4: The Room, but there are slight differences in the text of the document in each game. Most noticeably, the name of the orphanage changes between the games. In Silent Hill 3 the article appears in a patient room in Brookhaven, and the orphanage name is given as "Hope House". In The Room, however, that same article gives the orphanage the name "Wish House". It was apparently changed sometime in the development of The Room, or it was mistranslated to begin with.
Silent Hill 4 also doesn't give us any indication as to whether the appearance of this article is intended to retcon the article in Silent Hill 3, or if it players are to assume that the actual text of the article changed at some point after the magazine's publication. Perhaps the article was reprinted in a different magazine and the editor or author changed the name. We don't know if it's the same magazine because in Silent Hill 3 the magazine is closed and we only see its cover and never the page of the article, but in Silent Hill 4 the magazine is sitting open on a desk and we see only the page of the article and not the cover.
"The Order" comes from an article that appears in both Silent Hill 3 (LEFT) and Silent Hill 4 (RIGHT).
But if the name of the orphanage changes between versions, can we trust the name of the cult to be correct?
As far as I can remember, "The Order" is never referred to anywhere else in The Room, and whenever the cult is referenced in dialogue or a memo, it is referred to simply as "the cult" or some other non-proper variant. In addition, the orphanage's name "Wish House" is verified in other documents and dialogue within The Room.
A cult member's journal in SH3 refers to
the cult as "The Organization".
One other document in Silent Hill 3 references the cult. This letter is written by a cult member and is found in a room in the cult's church. Twice it refers to the same cult as "the Organization", also in the form of a capitalized proper noun.
One of these documents is in error; possibly a mistranslation. Since Schreiber's article contains another false name (of the orphanage), I tend to go with the other document as being legitimate. It also has the benefit of coming from a more reliable source: someone within the cult who is writing a candid letter.
In fact, "the Organization" is probably not a true name either. It's probably a title used by members to refer to their cult, since they aren't going to call it "our cult". This is similar to Catholics that refer to their organized religion as "The Church" using a capitalized proper title. Similarly, even if it is a correct translation, "The Order" isn't a name for the cult. It's just a title the insiders call it.
Either the document was mistranslated by the Silent Hill 3's translator (and then corrected in Silent Hill 4), or the different names was an deliberate decision by Silent Hill 3's writers. The character of Schreiber may have been given an incorrect noun by whoever he interviewed about the cult. It could have been that the interviewee(s) deliberately mislead Schreiber in order to protect the cult in some way, and so they provided a false name.
However, fans latched onto the name, and it stuck. It has since been used in post-Team-Silent games and movies.
I do want to emphasize that I am not opposed to others using the term "The Order" to refer to the cult, and I am not necessarily saying that it is not the correct name. I just personally don't like using that name for the reasons listed, and prefer to just call them "the cult".