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(Cont.) At the time this podcast talks about, the Eastern religious practices, particularly the mystery religions, were coming to the fore against this kind of veneration, and each of these practices, whether ascetic meditation, transcendental hedonism or, as the Romans misunderstood it, ritual symbolic cannibalism, was recognised by Romans as another cult, like their own, but you know, oriental and weird. But cult doesn't have the modern pejorative meaning of a sinister, possibly brain washing, organisation led by charismatic hucksters with a messiah complex. You can probably mentally substitute any one of a number of words, such as practice, tradition or church, for the word cult, and have a pretty good picture of how the Romans would have used the word cult, and how it's used here. Also, it's interesting to note that the modern "politically correct" word for what most people call cults in the 21st Centruy is simply New Religious Movement. If the ancient word "cult" is a good match for how Romans saw Christianity, then "NRM" is a VERY good match for how they viewed the mystery religions coming in from the East. So when Mike calls Christianity a cult... well, that's what it was. Don't blame Mike for the word Cult not meaning what many people think it means. PS Someone once tried to convince me that you classify a faith movement by size as one of (decreasing in size) faith, religion, movement, church, practice, sect, cult and crazy guy on the street shouting at the dogs in his head. I think he was trying to sell something.
Toggle Commented Mar 9, 2011 on 87- Thinking and Feeling at The History of Rome
Coming to this very late, but consider what "Cult" meant then, and means now. Pre-Christian Roman religion essentially consisted of veneration of numerous, possibly innumerable, supernatural entities. While we user the term "gods" for them, sometimes these referred to "supernatural people writ large", as seen in both versions of Clash of the Titans, sometimes as personifications of abstract concepts (such as Janus and Terminus), sometimes as respected ancestors or former leaders (the "deified" Caesars). Sometimes this veneration was essentially as a mark of respect for what the entity stood for, sometimes as a request for intervention (or staying the heck away), sometimes as little more than just what we always do, sometimes as an excuse for a party. Each of these sub-systems of veneration was bundled up as a cult, as in the meaning of a mini-religion. Some cults had heirarchies of priests, some had individual temples, nearly all had shrines of some kind. (cont.)
Toggle Commented Mar 9, 2011 on 87- Thinking and Feeling at The History of Rome
Caught this during a run of cheap films for kids at the local fleapit. This came, in all out estimation, as much better than the other offerings, Cloudy with a chance of meatballs (despite the makers fighting REAL hard to bitch slap Disney/ Hollywood expectations) and Planet 51 (wow, what a dull movie). When I heard it was being made, I cringed. Another US version of a Roald Dahl book, featuring a virtually all US cast in voices... very, very pleasantly surprised by the results. And hey, FMF features the real actual Jarvis Cocker. Who couldn't love that.
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Mar 22, 2010