Greetings blog-reading people,

I have finally given in and entered the blogging world.  My main reason for starting this enterprise was to get myself used to writing on a daily basis so that when I start writing my three seminar papers for this semester I will not feel overwhelmed by the amount of writing I have to do.  I have no major theme for this blog.  Each day I will pick a different topic or just write about my day or what has been on my mind.  Topics will usually include, but are certainly not limited to, things like cooking, funny things Zoey did, life in Iowa, being a graduate student, current events, etc.  I do not plan on doing much editing or worrying about grammar.  I also don’t plan on discussing many controversial topics, discussing my religious and political views, or saying inappropriate things (if I can help it).  This is the internet after all, and things that go on the internet tend to come back and bite you in the rear end (I avoided writing ‘ass’ because that word may be deemed inappropriate for some viewers).  This is simply a forum for my thoughts and a useful tool to get me in the habit of writing on a regular basis.  I welcome and appreciate comments.

First topic: Cults

Every morning I watch CNN while I drink my cup of coffee (I got some private blend from the Amana Colonies.  It’s good).  The first news story that popped up was about some pastor in Texas that introduced Rick Perry at some political thing.  He called Mormonism a cult, claimed Mitt Romney was not a Christian, and stated that “historical Christianity has never embraced Mormonism as a part of its faith.”  As a religion scholar I couldn’t help but be intrigued.

First, I have no idea what he means by “historical Christianity” and I don’t care enough to investigate any further.

Second, Mormons are Christians.  If you want to know why I suggest inviting them into your house next time they knock on your door.  They are always polite and willing to discuss a number of issues concerning their faith (plus it provides an opportunity to get another free copy of the Book of Mormon).  They would be more than willing to explain to you why they are Christians.

Finally, I am getting sick and tired of people using the word “cult.”  It needs to be removed from the English language because the word has been imbued with a derogatory connotation.   In the past 40 or so years the word has been stripped of its original meaning.  It has basically come to mean any religious group or movement different from ones own that is seen as weird and wrong.  Members of “cults” are often described as sexual deviants, abusive, violent, brainwashed, and irrational.  Often this perception can have disastrous results (remember Waco?).  The word cult is derived from the Latin word “cultus,” basically meaning “worship” or something one is devoted to (Cult of the Virgin Mary for example).  It is where we get the word “cultivate” from.  It is a neutral term, or at least it is supposed to be.  It has been supplanted by the term “New Religious Movement” in religious studies because it was hijacked and had its meaning changed.  Peter Williams does a much better job explaining this than I do (See America’s Religions, 2nd edition, page 493-94).  A more correct use of the term can be found in books like The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, by Emile Durkheim.  A book I am currently wrestling with.  Since the word has been tainted by those with a political or religious (usually fundamentalist or Evangelical Christian) agenda, and therefore ruined, it needs to be abandoned completely.  It will most likely never be redeemed.  So next time you hear someone spouting off some wild rhetoric about “cults” please do me a favor and remind them that Christianity began as (and could very well still be considered) a cult.

(I’ve somehow already managed to discuss religion, politics, and something controversial.  Whoops)

Blogging is fun.