Possibly this makes me a hypocrite.
And saying this is going to disrupt the flow a bit: I am not a Christian. I don't know what I believe. I love theology though. It's like a bare bones psychiatric profile of humanity. Take the core beliefs and values of any religion, study them objectively, and you've got a head start on understanding a person or people. It's absolutely fascinating. And it's truly amazing how one person's truth can drive him to fanaticism.
Food For Thought: Cult, n. 1. a particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rights and ceremonies (there are nine more definitions, but bear with me). Origin: 1610-1620 - from Latin "cultus" - care, cultivation, worship. Earlier Latin - tended, cultivated.
You can gather from this, perhaps, the "worship" bit came about from tending to ones god(s).
Now: religion, n. 1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and prupose ofthe universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. (again, 8 more definitions follow.) The etymology here is a little more confused, most concisely it's old french from latin "religio" - fear of the supernatural, from "religare" - to tie up, from "ligare" - to bind.
never dismiss the etymology of a word. the evolution of langage can be a study, just like theology, of the human psyche. In the case of the word "cult," it's a study of the human pathology of fear, esp. of the unfamiliar.
realization: concision, lately, has become impossible for this girl.
SIDETRACK!: What confounds me most about this mosque controversy is the number of u.s. ccitizens who proudly stand and sing "the land of the free and the home of the brave" at the beginning of every all-american sporting event now standing tall proclaiming their fear, demanding restriction. If I didnt know better, about human vulnerablility and what people are like way down inside, I would be so confused. But I can dig fear. Earwigs terrify me and I squish them dead. I don't know anything about the creepy little buggers, where they fit into the natural chain of life, all I know is they look greasy and slippery and I've heard rumors they'll tunnel through your ear to eat your brain. I kill them dead on sight, esp. when they invade my home. I found one in my bed once and it scared the crap out of me. I'll never forget it.
Ok, so this is a drastic (gross) simplification (though sadly true).
I'm just so frustrated. I'm trying to explain this in the simplest possible terms without talking down, without losing hope for humanity itself, and it's getting convoluted, fuzzy. And I hate to think it all comes down to something as clinical as conditioning, or as mushy gushy as love, but it may be a combination of both. Acceptance is the key, and if you're not originally attuned to do so, well, practice makes for natural reactions, or as my latin teacher used to say, "repitition is the mother of study."
...Back to CULT: The first five defiitions are relatively benign, many of them interchangeable with the definitions for "religion." And then, somewhere along the line, it takes a nasty turn: "a relgion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremest, with members often livign outside of conventional society under the direction of a charasmatic leader." (One may also note this is the only definition out of ten that involves religion in what the average reader would view as a negative connotation.) Light internet research from various sources seems to agree this negative use of word in america is recent, developing in the mid 20th century alone (20s-80s). Now, that in mind, strip away all the whacked out cults you've heard of in your lifetime, apply it this way: charasmatic leader = jesus. members living outside conventional society = early christians. false, unorthodox,, estremest = the idea that a poor carpenter was messiah to devout jews who were taught to belive he'd arrive like king, somewhat like David.
I bring this up not to label all you good christians out there as cultists and estremests, but to hopefully show, with the evolution of a word, how somethign that began as relatively benign and good, like the word "cult," can evolve itno something scary and extreme, and how something initially scary and tabboo, like the early cult of christianity, the first followers of christ, can evolve into something largely accepted and considered benign: the christian religion as we know it today.