Religions of the World

Kabba in Mecca surrounded by Muslim pilgrims

The world is a pluralistic place, with thousands of religions and other belief systems (secular humanism, socialism, communism, “woke”) competing for the hearts and minds of each person. This class compares the fundamental tenets, history, and impact of the major religions and philosophies in the world today.

By Mark D. Harris


  1. To compare Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, smaller faiths (Sikh, Jain, Jewish), and major secular belief systems with each other and with Christianity.
  2. To interest participants in other cultures.
  3. To help participants share the story of Christ with people in other cultures.

Duration – 4 weeks

Instructor – Mark D. Harris, PhD in World Religions, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS)


  1. Required – Religion and Art, Shaping the World for Christ
  2. Optional – Echoes of War: Religious Militancy in Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity, OnlinePrint

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Quality, Politics, and Parties

Uncle Sam asking people to vote

We demand quality in every aspect of life, from the food we eat to the cars we drive. We demand quality in government as well. But quality in government is not the same as quality in politics. What do we want in politics, and in political parties, and how do we get it?

By Mark Harris


Quality is the ultimate reason for existence in any organization. It doesn’t matter how many patients a hospital sees, how many widgets a manufacturer makes, or how many planes an airline owns if the patients get sicker, the widgets break, and the planes can’t fly. Doing one task well will get a man a job. Doing 1,000 tasks poorly will not.

Politics is one area in which we probably don’t think enough about quality. What is a quality candidate? What are quality elections? What is the best process to choose between candidates? What should a high-quality campaign look like? Who decides? This article will delve into quality and politics, in the hopes of increasing the quality of our political system.

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The Balanced Scorecard and the Republican National Committee

19th century picture of young Abraham Lincoln

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has struggled to capitalize on some big advantages in the elections of 2018, 2020, and 2022. The Balanced Scorecard is a widely used tool to help businesses, non-profits, and governmental organizations achieve their goals. Perhaps by looking again at their operations, the RNC can prevail in 2024.

By Mark Harris


The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is a proven tool for organizational evaluation, strategy, and improvement. Typically, it includes factors such as “financial,” “customer,” “internal processes,” and “learning and growth.” According to Blocher et al., 2021, BSC financial goals include increasing profitability, growing revenue, and reducing costs. BSC customer satisfaction goals address improving the profitability of each customer, raising customer satisfaction, and reducing the time required to fulfill a customer’s desire. Internal process goals would be improving quality and productivity. Finally, learning and growth goals should focus on developing employees, using technology more effectively, and communicating strategy better to all stakeholders.

The BSC was developed in the 1990s, and since then has been adopted by thousands of organizations in a wide variety of fields. The BSC has found a home in the public sector, as I used it in the US Army Medical Department for over 20 years. Miller, 2017 wrote that the public sector, especially when reelection depends on organizational performance, has widely adopted performance measures such as the BSC. Private sector companies of all sizes have capitalized on the BSC, and it has proven itself valuable in non-profit organizations as well.  I worked in the past with the Republican National Committee (RNC), so this work will discuss how the BSC might look in the context of the RNC.

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Destinations and Apps to Experience the Natural World

Raptor flying in large cage

Americans spend a huge portion of our time indoors and miss the majesty and mystery of the natural world. Places throughout the country, and apps available anywhere, are trying to fix this problem.

By Mark Harris

Spring break, which used to be called Easter vacation, provides a few days away from school, and often work. Nancy, Sarah, and I went to visit old friends, the Creason family, this year. The biggest highlight of any such journey is building relationships, but two destinations stood out. Since Americans spend over 90% of their time indoors, and since I love the outdoors, we made sure to visit both on our trip.[1] Since then, we have travelled many other natural places, and technology helped improve our experience.

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