Tag Archives: language

Cult of Trump? Cult of AntiTrump? The Word ‘Cult’!

Our culture has cultivated an uncultured passion to declare supporting Trump a cult. Those that declare Trump and likeminded people subculture, have themselves become cultic. So we have cultured a ‘Cult of Trump’ and a ‘Cult of AntiTrump.’ (Is your mind blown yet?)

It took me several minutes to type that. But don’t tune me out yet. If you’re tired of anything political, fear not. This is about a word, not politics.

The word cult is interesting. In grad school, we used the word in a basically neutral way. As we studied Ancient Near East religions, we would say the ‘cult of the Egyptians’ or the ‘cult of Israel.’ It was the people’s particular culture of religious norms and practices, not any evil or nefarious ongoings. But I was warned by my advisor the word itself was mutating in meaning.

The word itself has a very positive history. It comes from Latin meaning to care for, tend, till, grow. It implied devoted attention to. This we get the word cultivate – to grow.

The connection of the word ‘cult’ from the Membean website

The Membean website, a site designed to help grow one’s vocabulary through word association, has the above graphic that connects agriculture, horticulture and more. A Culture is what society has grown into. It grows and changes and develops.

However, as stated above, the word itself has grown in meaning. A few hundred years ago, it became connected to religion and a devotion to a set of beliefs. It was a group of people devoted to the teachings and ways of a particular leader. It soon developed to beyond religion and could mean a cult following teachings that were sociological and non religious (like the cult of Keanu or the cult of baby Yoda, or both.) The line between religious and sociological is very blurry here. So to be a cult of _____, you are devoted to, care about, share and cultivate the teachings and practices of a person or their world view. But the change of meaning didn’t stop there.

Today, it has taken on a almost prejudicial, if not curse word, meaning. It’s describing one, or one’s ideas, as unsavory, dangerous, and fringe. It demeans one and their beliefs. One might even say it is verbal bullying. This is not to say people’s ideas are not fringe, even counter cultural, but to label them ‘cult’ might be a lazy way to be pejorative. One psychologist says no one should ever use the word ‘cult.’

I leave that discussion for other venues. But I do challenge you to be aware of the words you use. Be cautious and clear. Words have power. And often your words may not be heard the way you mean them to be heard, so clarity is important. Take time to be cautious and caring.

It seems several of my blogs recently have been on using our words and conversations wisely. Can this be overemphasized?

One last thought. What do you want to be described as? What passions and teachings do you hold in reverence? Do people see it in the way you live? And do those ways cultivate love, truth, kindness, and care?

So, if they call me a devoted, sold-out follower of someone or someway, I hope they do not see a politician, a trendy philosophy, or an entertainer. I hope they Jesus?

Enough is Enough

Politics. Sports scandals. Yelling and obsessed news reporters. Redskins being winless. Pettiness. Weight gain. The list goes on … the straw that breaks the camels back.

We’ve all got our list of things that make us say, ‘enough is enough.’ We’ve all heard the phrase. Most of us have said it this week. But the meaning of this phrase hasn’t always meant what it means today.

It was used as early as the 1500s by author John Heywood when he was writing on the Tudor language.

Here is enough, I am satisfied (sayde he.)

Sens enough is enough (sayd I) here maie we,

With that one word take end good, as maie be geast.

Yeah, I wasn’t sure about some of that either. But basically it was positive in nature … as good as a feast, my cup overflows with blessings.

But somewhere, many point to the civil rights movement, the phrase changed in meaning. It became to mean a complaint, a charge that the one saying the phrase is fed up and will take no more of it, whatever ‘it’ is.

From an acknowledged blessing – enough is good … to a cry of discontent – enough, no more.

How often do we change our output from gratitude to grumbling? How often do we mentally move from focusing on blessings to fretting about burdens?

It’s way too easy today to get our minds away from where they should be.

Enough is enough … not a complaint but a compliment. God, You are and You always provide – enough. Thank you.

Where are your thoughts today?

Best Software to Learn a New Language? I need to learn FARM!

I want to learn a new language. While in Texas, I should’ve spent more time learning Spanish. Well, I should’ve started spending time learning it. Olivia, my dear friend from Hyatt, gave me some tips. Margaret yelled at me in Spanish a lot … a lot. But I get laughed at when I order tacos from the Taco Wagon here.

Now I have taken several languages while in college and grad school. Mostly dead languages (not used in conversation today) … theological German, Biblical Hebrew, New Testament Greek, Biblical Aramaic, Latin. I can muddy through reading those and maybe even fool a few people by throwing some of the words around pretending I know them better than I really do.

I’ve travelled some, but Canada uses English, think the Lord. Maybe I can count Cajun as a foreign language from when I was in Louisiana. I didn’t too good at that either. I mean, I need subtitles to understand Farmer Fran from The Waterboy.

So here I am in heartland Virginia. And I am at a loss. I need to learn new language – FARM. You heard me, FARM. They talk it here and I have already blown it … who knew you should not tell people they are rolling grass if they are bailing hay. Apparently, rolling grass should only be done in Colorado or California. See, those states have their language too, but totally different meaning.

There is the local footwear that will help me acclimate – Camo Crocs. Haven’t got them yet, but I do have my first Carhartt.

Back to the language … yes, we speak the same language. But it is a bit humorous that in different parts of the same country, we have different points of view and different idioms we develop. And once you’re part of another person’s world, take time to get to know them. Spend time with them. Immerse yourself in your new world. Too many people always expect the other person to adapt.

So, I will learn FARM. I may not ride a tractor, or raise bovine. You probably won’t catch me judging a 4H competition. But, I know what RailroadFest means.

What about you? Are there people around you that you need to get to know better? Is there a language you need to learn? It may not be available on Babel or Rosetta Stone … so get ready to spend time with them. And maybe, get out and buy those Camo Crocs. Me, I’ll stick with my Oboz and Chucks for now.