Oct 7, 2006

"Cult"-ural Differences

Just let me rant about a pet peeve of mine for a moment:

This world is full of rampant abuse of the word "cult" There's no set criteria that makes a religious movement a cult or not. There are all of the normal signs that makes a religion cult-like: the charismatic leader, the weird rituals, etc., but no combination of cult-like attributes makes something definitively a cult. The abuse tends to happen in relation to trying to prove a religion is not a cult, even though that's impossible.

The most basic definition of the word "cult" in regards to a religion is just any religious group. Various dictionaries and encyclopedias add their own take on the word taking the negative connotations of the word into account, but there is no standard definition. What those connotations mean vary from "outside the mainstream" to "excessive zeal" to "ritualistic", depending on who you ask.

Latest subject where you hear it all the time: Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda's Growing in Grace movement. You hear people on the news arguing if it's a cult or not or describing the religion as "bordering on cult-like". But it means nothing because the word "cult" is not a category...it's just a word.

When people call Mormonism a cult people get up at arms: "No it's not!" But who's to say it's not? There's nothing about Mormonism that makes it not a cult, as with any other religion. So if people want to call it a cult...okay. I don't like the negative connotations, but there's nothing that can make it not a cult definitively. And the same goes for any religion.

I personally don't like using the word in relation to any religion, it's too iffy and too touchy. However, I love using "cult" in relation to just excessive zeal about an idea or person. Like the cult of the Mac, or the cult of the offensive, or the cult of those people that for some reason can't drive in the right lane even if they're going 30 mph on the freeway or are going to make a right-hand turn in two seconds.

And I know that this post has the lamest title of all time, but I couldn't stop myself. I promise you that I'll try to avoid puns or anything like unto them in the future.


Anonymous said...

Good point, though sometimes it's hard to arrive to definite conclusions

Anonymous said...

Unprejudiced making my earliest post at alphabetgame.blogspot.com, which seems to be a wonderful forum!