All of these essays involve the study of religion, but most were written for different disciplines other than religious study, such as history, anthropology, sociology, or philosophy. Please keep this in mind as you read through the essays. Also, some essays are not as well developed as others. The essays with many footnotes and sources are far more accurrate than the lesser developed ideas. The end of each essay contains a downloadable Adobe PDF of that essay.
AFRICAN RELIGION IN LATIN AMERICA: A CROSS-CULTURAL COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE EVOLUTION OF AFRICAN RELIGION IN LATIN AMERICA
This essay focuses on the changes that the African religions have undergone since their introduction to Latin America. The dominate Catholic religion changed the African religions so much that they became something uniquely different.
ALBERLE'S, MOTT'S, AND O'DEA'S PROBLEMS RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS OVERCOME
An essay outlining problems identified by Aberle, Mott, and O’Dea that a religious organization must overcome in order to survive. There are certain prerequisites the group must have as well as must eventually develop a bureaucracy.
ALIENS ARE ANGELS
An non-scholarly essay exploring Out-of-Body Experiences, Alien abductions, and UFO sightings as possible religious experiences by people who live in a mundane world with no real spiritual connection.
THE ARGUEMENT FOR GOD'S EXISTENCE
A work which includes both a Critique of Betty's "Pragmatic Argument for God's Existence" and an argument for the likelihood of God’s existence and non-existence. It establishes that it is just as likely that God exists as that God does not exists.
An essay focusing on the Hindu concept of the Atman personal soul and the soul of the universe called Brahman. The Brahman concept is similar to the Western concept of God, however Brahman has no distict personality like God.
THE AXIS MUNDI: A CROSS-CULTURAL EXPLORATION OF THE SYMBOLISM OF THE WORLD TREE
An essay highlighting the symbolism of the "world tree" as it is used in several cultures. Particularly, this essay focuses on the beliefs of the Mayans and the importance of the "world tree" in their society.
BECOMING A BABALAWO: THE HIERARCHY OF THE PRIESTHOOD OF SANTERIA
A study of the ranks of the priesthood of Santeria. It focuses on the requirements and the abilities involved with ascending to the next level of the hierarchy. Although brief, the essay is very concise in its explaination of the different levels.
CATHOLICISM CALLS FOR REVOLUTION: THE DIFFERENCES IN FOCUS AND PRACTICE BETWEEN LIBERATION THEOLOGY AND THE CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RELIGION
This short essay focuses on the politically motivated movement by Catholic priest and the modern spiritual movement in Latin America. The two interpretations of Catholic doctrine caused a liberation movement for equal rights and democratic governments.
A very short essay which discusses an apparent social trend in America: people of the upper classes and of the lower classes are more religious than those of the middle classes.
A COMPARISON OF PERSPECTIVES: MY VIEW AND ELIADE'S VIEW ON NARCOTICS AND SHAMANISM
An exploration of Mircea Eliade's perspective on the use of narcotics in religious practice. Eliade takes a very conservative point-of-view and I respond with my opinion on the subject.
CULTS, SECTS, AND THE JIM JONES PEOPLE'S TEMPLE
This essay explains the difference between cults, sects, and new religious organizations. It uses the People's Temple as an example of a cult and shows what characteristics to look out for when dealing with such organizations.
DURKHEIM'S DEFINITION OF RELIGION, SACRED, AND RITUALS
An essay focusing on the work of Emile Durkheim and his work on religion. He clearly defines what he believes religion to be and speaks of the need of sacred object and rituals within each society.
EVIL IS THE NATURE OF HUMANITY
An exploration of the nature of humanity, showing that the humans that exist today evolved as evil creatures. Humans have always been committed evil acts and they will continue to do so unless we evolve beyond our present state.
EXTRASENSORY PERCEPTION AND THE PARANORMAL IN SHAMANISM
A review of an article within a book on extrasensory perception and the paranormal within shamanism. The original article specifically points out how members of academia do not take paranormal occurances seriously in their research.
THE FIVE FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS OF RELIGION
An exploration of the five characteristics of religion: its group qualities, its beliefs, its practices, its morals, and its sacred objects. These characteristics are generally universal and can be found in nearly every religion.
FROM KINGS TO GODS: THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE AND THE IMPERIAL CULT
A comprehensive study at the role of the Roman Imperial Cult and the establishment of the Roman Empire. It takes special notice to the need of the Roman dictators to prove their legitimacy as kings through divine right.
FUNDIES, STOP THE HATE
An essay on Christian fundamentalism and the hate most preach. The essay points out that Jesus did not preach such hate, but rather he warned of those who do preach the very sample principles these people uphold.
GNOSTIC THOUGHT AND HOW IT PERTAINS TO EVIL
This is an explaination of how Gnostic thought became evil in the eyes of the "church." Perhaps the most threatening thing about Gnosticism was not the belief in Jesus as an Enlightened Man but rather the independence of the spiritual thought.
THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE "ONE TRUE CHURCH" WITH ITS "ONE TRUE GOD"
This essay explains the evil implications of the belief that a person's own spiritual beliefs is the only truth out there. This "one true way" is a path of intolerance and the embodiment of evil itself.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SHAMANISTIC SICKNESS IN RECRUITING
A study of the recuiting methods of various cultures that practice forms of shamanism, especially focusing on the prerequisite of illness. Essentially, the ability to overcome the illness is a sign of strength that the society needs.
JOAN OF ARC: THE SHAMAN OF CATHOLIC FRANCE
The mystical powers of Joan of Arc comes alive in an essay discussing her abilities as a Catholic Saint. The essay explores the depth of her shamanic characteristics from information revealed at her trial.
KEPLER FOUND GOD?
A very short, non-scholarly opinion essay on Johannes Kepler and his search for God. The essay questions Kepler's findings and points out that the evidence of the ordered universe if proof of a self-existant being.
KONG KA TIN: A SOCIOLOGICAL APPROACH TO THE A RITUAL OF RECIPROCITY
This is a modification of the anthropological essay "Kong Ka Tin: The Indulgence of the Theravada Buddhist." It focuses on the sociological aspects of the ritual, especially the apparent class organization of the people in the ritual.
KONG KA TIN: THE INDULGENCE OF THE THERAVADA BUDDHIST
This is an overview of the Buddhist ritual of reciprocity known as Kong Ka Tin. The essay describes the ritual exactly how it took place in very intimate detail, down to the color of the chairs.
KUAN YIN: THE WOMAN, THE LEGEND, THE GODDESS OF BUDDHISM
A short dicussion of the legend of Kuan Yin, the Buddhist Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion. It is explores both the historical and theological context of a woman who gave her life to secure her chasity and her spirit.
MARRIAGE CANNOT BE DEFINED BY RELIGION
This essay is a disection of the Bible to reveal that the "traditional" view of marriage does not actually exists. The essay concludes that religion does not define marriage, but rather society does.
THE MIDDLE WAY AND THE YING AND YANG
This is a comparison between the Buddhist's "Middle Way" and the Taoist's "Ying and Yang." It explains how both the Middle Way and the Yin and Yang are both balances that people must keep.
ORIGINS OF CHRISTMAS
A response to the media freezy over "Happy Holidays" in 2005 to explain the origins of the modern Christmas celebration as well as other holidays which take place on or around the day of December 25th.
OUR MOTHER, OUR LADY: GUADALUPE BECAME THE ADVOCATE OF CONVERSION FOR CHRISTIANITY
A comprehensive study of the historical events surrounding Our Lady of Guadalupe. The essay takes a critical look at the role of the Catholic Church in Mexico and the high rate of conversion after the appearance of the apparations.
THE PRIME MOTIVATIONS OF EVIL
This essay explores the root of all evil, whether it be individual, social, or politically motivated, all exists because of one thing: greed. Someone else has something we want and the only way to get it is to take it from them.
REBUTTAL TO "THE ARGUEMENT FROM DESIGN"
Flaws in the famous "Argument From Design" are discovered in this essay. It explains how God is not comparable to a watchmaker and the universe is not comparable to a watch.
REBUTTAL TO "GOD AND THE PROBLEM OF EVIL"
This essay explains that an omnibenevolent God cannot be disproved because evil exists. Instead, it reaffirms the fact that God allows freewill; thus, allowing evil acts to take place.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE AND ITS POTENTIAL EFFECTS ON SOCIETY
An essay expressing the need for a separation between church and state. It first explains that the state is affected by the religious beliefs of the culture; however, the government should remain independant of the political construct of any church.
REPLY TO PETER SINGER'S "FAMINE, AFFLUENCE, AND MORALITY"
A critical survey of Peter Singer's famous argument. This essay makes it clear that Singer has one specific flaw in his argument; that is, he turns charity into an obligation and that defeats the whole point he was attempting to make.
THE RICH LANGUAGE OF CONVERSION: THE DIFFERENT FORMS OF CONVERSION
A brief look at the different forms of conversion that occured in Latin America during the early years of European conquest. The terminology is very basic, but it is explained quite well in this short but concise essay.
THE RISE OF PROTESTANTISM IN LATIN AMERICAN: THE CATHOLIC CHURCH DECLINES IN POPULARITY
A brief overview of the protestant reformation in Latin America. The essay discusses the appeal of protestantism and why Latinos are turning away from the Catholic Church, which seems to favor the right and powerful today rather than the poor as it once did in Latin America.
SHAMANISM IN INDO-EUROPEAN CULTURES: ELIADE'S FOCUS ON GREEK AND BUDDHISM
This essay examins the shamanistic characteristics of the ancient Greek religion and Buddhism. The essay summarizes Eliade's work on shamanism in his book Shamanism.
SHAMANISM IN TIBET: TRANSVERSING THE AXIS MUNDI
An exploration of the journey into the underworld by a Tibetian shaman. It also reflects the Tibetian beliefs of ascension and the powers that the shamans once possessed.
THE SHAMANISTIC ASPECTS OF THE JEWISH TRADITION
A brief essay quoting and pointing out the most interesting facts presented in an article regarding the shamanistics characteristics in the Jewish religion and my opinions on the subject.
THE VIRGIN IN THE NEW WORLD: THE IMAGE OF THE VIRGIN MARY, IMPORTED, RE-INTERPRETED, AND PUT TO POLITICAL USE IN LATIN AMERICA
A summary of the history of the Virgin Mary and her reverence in Spain and how it was brought to the new world. However, this essay's main focus is on the development of the image of the Virgin Mary as a political icon.
WOMEN ARE NOT EVIL, SOCIETY MAKES THEM SO
A very critical study of the role of religion, both eastern and western, and the subjugation of women. The essay takes a very critical look at the prosecution of vocal women because women are preceived as evil and manipulative by nature.