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.