Why is nothing in this life ever enough?
James Bond tells us that the world is not enough. Billionaire John D. Rockefeller is reputed to have said “Just a little bit more” when asked how much money was enough. While King of England, Henry VIII created a new church, the Anglicans, and made himself the supreme religious leader. Gibbons’ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire chronicles an endless line of men and women from Europe, Africa, and Asia who stopped at nothing to grab the Imperial purple.
The past is no different from the present. Bashar al Assad in Syria has butchered thousands of his own people to retain the reins of power. Chief executives from Beijing to Ankara deceive and destroy in the name of virtue but ultimately to exalt themselves. The world of work can resemble gladiators in the Forum, with managers and employees at every level whispering, gossiping, flattering, threatening, shaming, and accusing subordinates, peers, and superiors to try to look good and get ahead.
Continue reading “Never Enough”
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.
Book Review – Aztec Thought and Culture
Book Review – The Portable North American Indian Reader
Book Review – The Religions of Oceania
Book Summary – African Religions and Philosophy
People follow calendars, but they also create and use them to advance their personal and political agendas.
In the absolute sense, time is dictated by the rhythms of nature as determined by the Creator. In the past it was viewed as the distance in history (as opposed to geography) between events. In that mindset, the idea of saving time was ludicrous. Time progressed at its own rate and rhythm and man could do nothing to change those realities. Ancients often wanted tasks to be quick and efficient just like moderns do, and for many of the same reasons, to maximize the duration of pleasant experiences and minimize that of unpleasant ones. However, in the ancient mind time was not like money, which could be stored. It had to be used.
Continue reading “Calendars, Cultures, and Politics”
John Calvin, the Frenchman who became one of the most famous Christian theologians and controversial figures in history, initially wanted nothing more from life than to study and write in ivory tower academia in the 16th century. Intrigued by the nascent Reformation, he first fled Paris to avoid punishment for heresy, and then was shamed by reformed French evangelist William Farel into serving in the church in Geneva, Switzerland, a city of corruption in a land of libertines.
Most religions are sacral, meaning that they are tied to a certain ethnic group and geographic location. To be a Sumerian was to live in Mesopotamia, follow Sumerian culture and worship Sumerian deities such as Anu, Enki and Inanna. To be an Egyptian was to live along the Nile, speak Egyptian and worship Orisis, Isis and Anubis. To be a Hebrew was to live in Palestine, follow the Law of Moses and serve Jehovah. The early Christian church broke this mold, with believers in every people group, and every location in much of the world. The civic religion was emperor worship, intended to unify to the Empire against threats within and without, and the main cause of Christian persecution was that believers did not join the civic religion. Thus they were guilty of treason.
Continue reading “Sacralism and Calvin’s Geneva”
Christians had been persecuted in the Roman Empire since the Apostles, but the persecution under Emperors Decius and Valerian was more widespread and severe than before. Simply for bearing the name of Jesus, Christians faced loss of position, confiscation of property, rejection by pagan family members, and even death. Many Christians stood strong in the faith, but many lost their courage under the pressure, denied Christ, and even sacrificed to idols. The Plague of Cyprian, most likely caused by smallpox, created further suffering and confusion. After the death of Decius in 251 the persecution slackened and people who denied Christ expected to be restored to fellowship.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is truly the Pearl of Great Price. Nothing in the universe is as valuable as what the Lord has given those who love Him. People who denied Christ under threat of persecution, and Cyprian suggested that many rushed to deny Him, even without being personally confronted, showed painful contempt for the treasure bought at the highest price, His blood. Their sin was great, and they should not have been easily restored to the church.
Continue reading “Restoring Apostate Christians during the Roman Persecutions”