Religion 198. Experimental Courses
Introduction to Chinese Religions: Language, Knowledge, Reality
This course provides an introduction to Chinese Religions through the lens of various approaches to problems of language. Early Chinese thinkers identified the gap between the language humans use to describe the world and the world itself as one of the central causes of conflict and confusion. Their responses to this problem were foundational to the development of Confucianism, Daoism and Chinese Buddhism. Through primary and secondary readings, this course will giving an overview of some of the central questions and debates in Chinese thought, the influence of those debates on the development of Chinese religions, and encourage students to think about what ancient ideas can provide to the modern world.
#BlackLivesMatter, Religion and Politics
Description: Religion’s ability to mobilize politics has been wielded by groups as varied as the American Civil Rights Movement, the Moral Majority, and Al Qaeda. This course will explore a variety of responses to the question of the relationships between “church and state” and the “secular and sacred.” Close attention will be given to ground roots activism such as ACT UP and Occupy Wall Street as frames for understanding the more recent phenomenon of Black Lives Matter and the interrelationship of political theory, social justice, economics, racism, violence, human rights, and the history of racism in America. While Black Lives Matter is not explicitly religious, the concerns of religion and the methodologies of religious studies nevertheless shed important light on the movement. The course’s modes of investigation will be philosophical & theological as well as political & practical. Students will consider music, video, and oral histories as source material and have opportunities to speak directly with activists and organizers through guest lectures and interviews.
Love in theory and practice
What does it mean to love? Is love an individual feeling, or part of a community practice? Can love be reasonable, or is it opposed to human rationality? This course explores prominent religious and non-religious perspectives that shape how we think about and practice the different things we call “love”. Topics include the conflict between earthly and transcendent love, the nature of friendship and romance, the relation between self-love and politically efficacious love, love of nature, and the ethics of self-sacrifice.