Old Religious Movements

A compendium of book reviews on common texts in Animism, Native American religion, African religion, and others. 

Man is and has always been incurably religious, much to the chagrin of the secularists, atheists, materialists, and naturalists who wish religion would go away. Many of these skeptics cannot understand why people in the 21st century still believe in these “fairy tales”, while religious believers cannot understand why people don’t believe in these “eternal truths”.

The MD Harris Institute has sections on Islam, the Religions of India, Buddhism, New Religious Movements, and other topics. However there are important religious movements not included. Animism, the ancient belief that everything has a spiritual essence that must be addressed, underlies all ancient tribal religions and is a large part of the practice of many major religions such as Christianity and Islam. Ancient mythologies such as Greek, Roman, Norse, Egyptian, and Sumerian, played an important role in history.

This section will include information on religious movements not included in other sections. Let us know if you have specific areas that you wish to know about.

Animism

Book Review – Aztec Thought and Culture

Book Review – The Portable North American Indian Reader

Book Review – The Religions of Oceania

book-review-understanding-folk-religions

Book Summary – African Religions and Philosophy

 

 

 

The Early Church – From Movement to Organization

God used the most ordinary means to make His Church the largest and most powerful organization on earth. 

There seems to be much for Christians in America to be discouraged about in 2016. Conventional wisdom holds that while the Church is growing quickly in China and the developing world, Europe and America are in the “post Christian” doldrums. The 2016 presidential campaign has taken twists and turns that have distressed some evangelical believers. In her book Confessions of a White House Speechwriter, Peggy Noonan writes that growing up on Long Island in the 1950s, a woman who attempted suicide was a celebrity because no one else did it. Divorce and even adultery were unheard of. Sixty years later, such cultural morality seems a distant dream. Christians have more children than their secular counterparts, but then lose many to an implacably hostile school system.

The paragraph above reflects the feelings of many, but contains some statements that are true and others that are false. Even if every word were true, believers in Jesus Christ should never be discouraged. Over the course of dozens of recent conversations in church and at home, I have tried to reassure my brethren with the promises of God in Scripture (John 16:33, Romans 8:28). While these verses can be encouraging, many people need more visible encouragement.

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The Power of Repetition

Over and over and over again is the only way to learn, to work, and to grow in God. Our attitude controls whether we get bored or get better. 

Multnomah Bible College professor John Mitchell was renowned for having vast swaths of the Bible memorized, including most of the New Testament and much of the Old. He denied having more than average ability and wasn’t even trying to memorize Scripture. Dr. Mitchell absorbed so much of God’s Word because while preparing a sermon he read each passage aloud fifty times before preaching it. The key to learning the Bible is repetition.

This morning I read the story of Demetrius the silversmith in Acts 19. I do my daily Bible study in German and Spanish, checking my interpretation in English. In so doing I improve language skills and get a different perspective from reading the English alone. It is good work but sometimes slow, especially when I run across a new word or phrase. By about the fifth time seeing a word or phrase, I know it. At work I converse with a Spanish speaking lady every day, and talk in German as often as possible. The key to learning languages is repetition.

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Public Health

A compendium of articles in outside sources written by Dr. Harris and looking at Public Health. 

In 2009 I wrote an article detailing the three most important factors in ensuring the health and security of a people: societal stability, public health, and primary care. The article studied the Black Death, the Great Influenza, and other key events in history to determine how these three factors, or lack thereof, impacted people’s lives.

In 2016 this has not changed. Large outbreaks like Ebola and Zika, and smaller ones like Influenza and Salmonella, impact the world every day. Non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, and injuries of all sorts, remain major threats to health. New hazards arise, whether from pollution or exposure to untested industrial chemicals. And as always, unhealthy lifestyle choices cause more early disease and death than anything else.

Meanwhile, as nations and individuals sink further into debt, public health funding declines. Greater need and fewer resources in public health mean that professionals in that field need to work smarter. Articles below are intended to help these public health and other medical professionals meet their mission.

American Family Physician

High Altitude Medicine

Bioterrorism

Military Medicine

Hearing threshold comparisons between 2001-02 NHANES and 2003-05 Fort Bliss U.S. Army Service components

Modeling hospital response to mild and severe influenza pandemic scenarios under normal and expanded capacities

Comparison of nondeployable hearing profiles by Army component (Active Duty, National Guard, and Reserve) and by gender

Preventive medicine in Task Force 1st Armored Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom

Medical reference databases used by Army primary care physicians in field environments

Other

Infectious Disease in Athletes 

Laser eye injuries in military occupations

Societal stability, public health and primary care as three pillars of defence in biosecurity

Vaccinating health care workers against smallpox in an isolated primary care facility

 

Attachments

Outbreak Investigation

Math Days

Mathematics is one of most important fields of study in the modern world, and understanding math must be a foundational goal for every person. Unfortunately, many children, adolescents and adults fear math. It is not easy to understand and so they believe that they cannot understand it.

Families and teachers can celebrate dates that correspond to important mathematical concepts. Using food, games, and prizes, they can teach children, and themselves, that math is fun. In honor of the upcoming Square Root Day (4-4-16), I have provided this list for my readers.

Annual

Golden Ratio Day (1/6) – January 6

For over 2,000 years, scientists and artists have been fascinated with the Golden Ratio. It is defined as two quantities having the same ratio to each other that the larger of the two has to their sum. For example, a line segment AC comprised of segments AB (larger) and BC (smaller) would be in the Golden Ratio if AB+BC is to AB as AB is to BC. The decimal equivalent of the Golden Ratio is 1.618 to 1. Many proportions of the Greek Parthenon are in the Golden Ratio, as is the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. The ratio is also found in music, art and nature. Do something “golden” for yourself, and for someone, else today.

E day (2/7) – February 7

E is an irrational number used in exponential and logarithmic functions. Celebrants can do things relating to e, such as eating foods (eggs, enchiladas, English muffins, etc) and doing activities (like going to the zoo to see elephants or the aquarium to see eels).

Pi Day (3/14) – March 14

Pi, the constant used to calculate the area (πr2) and circumference (2πr) of a circle, is 3.14159…. The Pi date of the century is 3/14/15. Some families serve pies of various types (pizza pie, apple pie) to observe it. Thomas Jefferson School of Science and Technology in Virginia band, cheerleaders and fans used to count down to pi in the fourth quarter of football games (3.24, 3.23…3.16, 3.15, Pi!!!) but the same countdown can be used for any sport.

Tau Day (6/28) – June 28

Some argue that Tau, not Pi, is the real circle constant (T=C/r=6.28318). If you are in this select group, express yourself by celebrating Tau day every June. The Tau date of the century is 6/28/31.

Pi Approximation Day (7/22 or 22/7 military and European notation) – July 22

Summer is a time when children often forget the lessons they learned the year before. The fractional equivalent of pi is 22/7 (3.14285…), and 22 July is almost half way between the end of one school year and the beginning of another. Families can celebrate Pi Approximation Day during the heat of summer with snow cones (V=πr3h/3), scoops of ice cream (V=4/3πr3), and of course, ice cream pies.

Gravity Day (9/8) – September 8

The acceleration due to gravity on earth is 9.8 m/s2, or 32 f/s2. Whether you are a pencil or a rock, neglecting wind resistance, you will fall to the ground at that rate. Do a gravity project, or at least gain some weight, on this happy day.

Light Speed Day (10/8) – October 8

October gets a lot of good math days because scientific notation uses 10x rather than adding a bunch of zeroes behind a number. The speed of light (3×108 m/s or 186,000 miles per second) is a fundamental constant of the universe and deserves celebration. Besides, we believe that the more celebrations, the better.

Powers of 10 Day (10/10) – October 10

The greatest power of 10 day is 10/10/10, but math nerds can celebrate powers of 10 day every year. Do ten things, spend ten dollars, or work ten puzzles. Enjoy your tens!

Mole Day (10/23) – October 23

Avagadro’s Number (6.02×1023) is a fundamental constant in chemistry, describing how many particles of any substance make a mole of that substance. Celebrate it from 0602 to 1802 (6:02 AM to 6:02 PM).

Fibonacci Day (11/23) – November 23

The sequence is 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144,… Each number is produced by adding the two numbers immediately preceding. The next number in the sequence above would be 89+144 = 233. The Fibonacci sequence describes many natural phenomena including the branching of trees and generations of honeybees.

Gross Day (12/12) – December 12

A gross is 144 (12×12), whether a gross of quarters or a gross of candy canes. Families can celebrate Gross Day by making a gross of something (Christmas cookies), collecting a gross of something (beautiful fall leaves after Thanksgiving), or enjoying a gross of time (144 minutes) together (playing, singing, eating or dancing).

Every Century

Special Math Days in a Century

Same Number Day Series Day Square Root Day Pythagorean Theorem Day Odd Day
1/1/01 1/2/03 1/1/01 3/4/05 1/3/05
2/2/02 2/3/04 2/2/04 4/3/05 3/5/07
3/3/03 3/4/05 3/3/09 6/8/10 5/7/09
4/4/04 4/5/06 4/4/16 8/6/10 7/9/11
5/5/05 5/6/07 5/5/25 5/12/13 9/11/13
6/6/06 6/7/08 6/6/36 12/5/13 11/13/15
7/7/07 7/8/09 7/7/49 9/12/15
8/8/08 8/9/10 8/8/64 12/9/15
9/9/09 9/10/11 9/9/81 8/15/17
10/10/10 10/11/12 12/16/20
11/11/11 11/12/13 7/24/25
12/12/12 12/13/14 10/24/26

These days are all occasions to party, but unfortunately most of them have passed for this century. Enjoy those that remain with family and friends, and pass this list on to your grandchildren. They will have a great time.

The Growing Church

The Church of Jesus Christ will always grow – the Almighty has so willed it. How wonderful that we get to help. 

Jesus told His disciples to go to the uttermost parts of the earth and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1). For 2000 years the Church of Jesus Christ has shared the good news of the gospel throughout the world. The body of believers has grown from 120 members in the Upper Room (Acts 1:15) to over 2.3 billion people, out of a total world population of 7.3 billion, today. While the Way of Christ is growing by leaps and bounds in places like China and sub-Saharan Africa, progress seems to have stalled in Europe and North America. In the heavily Muslim areas of North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Indonesia, Christians comprise a tiny fraction of the people. Growth feels impossible, and some become discouraged.

Sometimes Christians have effectively demonstrated the saving grace of Jesus to those around them, but other times have not. Many people reject Christ because they don’t have a clear idea who He is. Dedicated believers have often looked to one of the most exciting periods in the history of Christianity, the early Church, for guidance on how to grow. This is a great practice, for the earliest years of any new religious movement (NRM) are the most dynamic. Since few NRMs survive their founder, early Christianity was an example of how to grow and sustain growth over the decades, centuries, and millennia.  This article will examine Acts 2:41-47, which describes the earliest days of the Church, to look for clues about how to grow and sustain the Body of Christ today.

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Religions of India

A compendium of book reviews on common texts in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism.

Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world, emerging out of a mix of Aryan and Dravidian animism in about the second millennium before Christ. Its earliest forms, as described in the Rig Veda (Samhitas), were polytheistic. Such polytheism was consistent with the religious practices of Rome, Greece, Egypt, the Nordic peoples, and most other nations at that time. By the time of the Upanishads, Hinduism had morphed into a pantheistic monism. The caste system divided people in four classes: Brahmins (priests), Kshatriyas (warriors, kings), Vaisyas (merchants, landowners), Sudras (servants, later Dalits – untouchables). Accepting this system and performing the duties of one’s class was the primary evidence of being a Hindu. In the Christian era, Hinduism became more monotheistic, with Vishnu, Shiva and other gods being perceived as manifestations of the One God. Adherents were called to love Vishnu or Shiva as Christians are called to love God, as revealed in Jesus Christ. This monotheistic view, too, is evolving. Liberal pluralism in the past two hundred years has attacked the caste system, emphasized the spiritual aspects of Hindu belief, but denied that any part of Hinduism, or any religion, is objectively true.

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