Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Dictionary of the Divine (well, sort of)

Aug. 29 - Sept. 5, 2005 issue - Even dedicated theologians can struggle to make sense of America's religious vernacular. Here are definitions of some of the terms.

Charismatics
BEGAN: 1960s, CALIFORNIA
Pentecostals who belong to mainstream churches. Although members place less emphasis on speaking in tongues, they still esteem gifts of the Spirit.

Cursillo
1950s, MAJORCA, SPAIN
A three-day "short course" using conversation and prayer to help Roman Catholics grow closer to God; graduates meet to pray and evangelize. Similar Protestant retreats are also growing more popular.

Evangelicalism
1846, LONDON
A largely Protestant movement in which members are "born again" or saved. Followers stress the importance of Scripture, converting nonbelievers and growing closer to God.

Fundamentalism
1883, ONTARIO, CANADA
A conservative form of evangelicalism that affirms the inerrancy of the Bible as the literal word of God. Most members are socially and politically conservative, living by a strict personal moral code.

Hasidism
1740s, UKRAINE
A branch of the Orthodox Jewish movement that emphasizes devotion and the direct and emotional worship of God. Members conform to customs of dress and habit modeled on 18th-century Russian village life.

Kabbalah
12TH CENTURY, FRANCE
A form of Jewish mysticism focused on uncovering the hidden meaning of the Torah through meditation and study rooted in the Zohar, a 13th-century Aramaic text. Traditional practitioners do not usually wear the red-string bracelets favored by celebrity devotees.

Paganism
1800s, EUROPE
Most contemporary Pagans take pre-Christian practices and incorporate them into modern-day rituals. Nature is central to their spirituality; festivals mark the passing of the seasons.

Pentecostalism
1901, KANSAS
A form of Christianity that emphasizes baptism in the Holy Spirit, a direct experience of God verified by believers' speaking in tongues.

Sufism
SEVENTH CENTURY, MIDDLE EAST
An Islamic mystical tradition seeking intimacy with the divine through contemplation. Non-Islamic versions popular in the West are frowned on by traditionalists.

Wicca
1940s, ENGLAND
The largest branch of Paganism in the United States, its members are sometimes called witches; they follow a code of personal freedom and responsibility.

Zen
520s, CHINA
Rooted in Buddhism, Zen involves meditation in search of enlightenment. Practitioners often focus on apparently nonsensical questions called koan.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.
It would really be nice of the people who write for Newsweek had a clue

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