Tag Archives: words

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?

Incite, Inspire … Words have Power

Yesterday, I wrote about being a battle hardened warrior. And in light of the events surrounding the Washington chaos (1/6/20), I wonder if I would reword any of the article.

Words have power. Some great words of wisdom once were written to show how serious words are … Death and Life are in the power of the tongue. Wow! Forget the old ‘stick and stones’ saying. Words do hurt.

Words can delight, take us to great heights in emotion, feelings, and motivation. Are words can take us to the lowest depths of despair, agony, defeat. Controlling the tongue is so important. It starts fires. Yesterday’s events gave way to a short statement by our President Elect …

words of a President matter, no matter how good or bad that president is. At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite.

Joe Biden, President Elect

And in these few words, he gave the gist of what he felt was the cause of the violence in the capital (and I would say many think across the nation.) As much as I understand where Biden is coming from, and I also agree President Trump isn’t known for words that pacify, I think Biden also was amiss in his words as well.

First … it’s not only presidential words that impact people. Every person is responsible for their words. Media has not helped. Social media has been a platform for vitriol. Name calling, words of dismissal and rejection, swiping entire swaths of society as racists, uneducated and so on. Both sides of this issue have mud on their hands. Words of everyone have power. Yes, presidential words have a bigger platform and audience – so President Biden, I pray you (and everyone) takes every word spoken serious.

Second … words change meaning and sometimes outright clarity needs to be emphasized. You may say a word that means one thing to you but quite another thing to the person who hears it. This is clearly seen in literature. In English, the word ‘conversation’ in an older translations does not refer to talk or communication. It refers to your way of life, your conduct and behavior.

To inspire means to breath into, to motivate … and this is normally seen as positive. But yet one can also be inspired to evil, to mischief.

To incite means to move to action, to urge forward … and this is normally seen as negative. But yet, the word can be used to indicate what urged you to action.

Where inspire is more motivational, incite is more action based. Both can be positive or negative. The point is, we need to make sure we are communicating clearly and understand that what we are saying is often interpreted differently then what we intended.

I can’t believe President Trump wanted violence, wanted madness. He may have wanted passion and energy, he may have wanted his message to be taken serious, but I also don’t think he considered how his words would be taken.

But yet, neither do we every time we open our mouth, or type our words.

Third … may we take our words serious. This is mainly for an audience of One …

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

be acceptable in your sight,

O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 19.14

Watch your words people. People are listening and your words have power.

A Wooden Scrabble Tile

Words hurt. Words can help heal. Words can divide or words can bring together. Words are powerful.

In the console of my truck, I keep a letter. Not a written letter, but a wooden Scrabble piece. Some of my Friendship peeps may remember a few years ago we did a revival series on the power of words. We used the Scrabble pieces as giveaways to those attending. The wood tiles are to be a reminder of the principles we looked at that week. To speak life, to let no unedifying word proceed from our mouth, and so on. I believe my brother Andy was the speaker that week. (I’ve heard wood Scrabble tiles are a gem for crafters – hard to find for the new editions are all plastic – so FBC gave out collector tiles. I think I will keep mine for a while.)

But words we use are more than just the words we speak. We use words on FaceBook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Sometimes I scroll Facebook and I get irritated with all the junk on there (and I am speaking of more than just cat videos). People seem uninhibited and will argue over the smallest, insignificant details. People have gotten fired over words used. Relationships have been severed. Lies have been spread. And it often seems FB has gone over to Darth Vader’s Dark Side.

But I have seen great stuff too. Here are some specific examples I have seen in recent days – Friends safe from Tornadoes in central VA, Prayers answered with Robert Morris coming home from the hospital, baptism videos, new Christian music, snippets from sermons by great preachers like Groeschel, MacDonald, and Batterson, a new life with the birth announcement on Twitter, and love being poured out for the family of Barbara Bush. All these were positive, and I am glad I was able to read them.

What is the take away? Thom Rainer wrote about seven positive ways to use social media. (click here to see the original article)  Here are the points adapted a bit …
–   Pray before and after you post. Ask for wisdom and for God to have the honor.
–   Be an encourager. What did you say today to build someone up? You may never know what positive impact a few good words can do. The week, Taylor F posted some pics of some hikes we did. That made my day – the memories and the thoughts of a friend. 1 Thes 5.11
–   Have a gentle spirit. Our desire should be to win hearts, not to win arguments.
–   Remember there are people watching. What an incredible opportunity to be seen as people of love and compassion. I know some of my hotel co-workers have read a few of my blogs. I so desire to be engaging, humorous, and let them all know the greatness of what I have found in Jesus.
–   Demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. Do your posts, remarks, and media show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self control?
–   Create a prayer ministry through social media. Pass along prayer requests. Even write a short prayer and post on their timeline (Not like ‘Pray for You’ by Jaron and the Long Road to Love – go ahead, laugh, but not the types of prayers you should post on other’s timeline.)
–   Seek to create unity.

What would FB, Twitter, SnapChat, IG, LinkedIn, etc. look like if we did these seven practices?
Words hurt. Words can help heal. Words can divide or words can bring together. Words are powerful.  What do your words do?

I kept my letter from Scrabble. Did you?

I Got Some Advice

adviceI Got Some Advice

This week, I got advice from several people.  Now, I truly believe the wise man listens to the counsel of others.  It doesn’t say we have to heed the advice, but we should listen to it.  Now I am not writing about what the content of the advice.  It was some good stuff, and some stuff I already knew, and some stuff that was, well, a bit harsh.  The key take away here is not the content given but the way the advice was given.

Now, we get advice all the time – over the radio, on social media, marketing tools, and so on.  But sometimes we get advice given directly.  One person spent some time getting to know me – heard my story, shared their story, and invested themselves.  The advice was to help me make better connections with others and to improve my personal presentation in job seeking.  The wisdom and the words were sprinkled with grace.  The next advice was given coldly; and though sound, it was more concerned about a procedure than the person.  The medium cut off any further connection and I was sent on my way.

So I ask you, which advice did I really pay attention to?  The question is rhetorical; I think you know the answer.  Let me flip this.  How do I give advice?  Do I sprinkle my words with grace?  Do I invest in others, I mean really invest?  Or do I come across coldly and unconcerned?  I know I have done both along my journey.  I cannot change the past, but I can change the way I help others from here on out.

May my words be sprinkled with grace.  May my life be invested in the life of others.  And may the wisdom shared be grounded in the Word of God.

Now, one more flip.  How do you give advice?  Are you investing in the life of others? I mean really investing?

May grace abound.