Fundamentalism and Jargon

This past Monday, The Former Conservative wrote a post critiquing a Rapture Ready conversation in which some people suggested that both mental illness and addiction were actually a matter of demonic oppression.  FC mentioned in passing that he had never heard the phrase “demonic oppression” before.

This surprised me for a moment.  As a former fundamentalist who had gotten involved in the spiritual warfare movement, I was all too familiar with phrase, but what it meant and why it was coined as a phrase to represent something distinct from demon possession.  The idea that other Christians were completely unfamiliar with the term surprised me, even thirteen years after I left that particular subculture.

Any group — whether you’re talking fundamentalists, more liberal Christians, or even video game players — tends to develop their own jargon, words and phrases that are not familiar to those outside of the group.  This can create communication issues with those outside the group when discussing certain topics, though it’s an issue that’s normally easy overcome.

I think this can be somewhat harder for fundamentalists and even more conservative evangelicals, however.  As I mentioned in a guest-blogging post over at CoaFC, fundamentalist identity tends to consume and isolate its adherents to a near-absolute degree.  It occurs to me that another consequence of this process is that fundamentalists can become quite oblivious to their jargon and how peculiar it is to their group.  Effectively, they’re so invested in and surrounded by their subculture, that the idea that anyone might not even be aware of their specialized terms doesn’t occur to them.

I’ve been a witch for thirteen years now, and I’ve met people who were not raised with my background.  Intellectually I know that there are people who never had a reason to hear terms like “demonic possession” and “blood bought.”  And yet, it’s easy to fall back into old thinking patterns just enough that an instance where I’m reminding of that fact catches me by surprise, however slight that surprise might be.  I think that says something.

One thought on “Fundamentalism and Jargon”

  1. I’m curious, when you first started hanging around Pagans, was there a lot of jargon that confused your young Christian self? I wouldn’t expect you to have been familiar with things like different deities, symbols, and procedures, but does the slang tend to be as far from mainstream American slang as the fundamentalists’?

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