Politics as the New Religion

Understanding the Far Left and Far Right

About the Course

Politics as the New Religion: Understanding the Far Left and Far Right is a four-week course that illuminates our political moment by exploring how religion, politics, wild theories, and human self-awareness now intermesh.

Over the past few years, politics has become particularly extreme. Elements of the Left have shifted further leftward, especially on cultural and racial issues, in what has been dubbed The Great Awokening.

Elements of the Right have similarly stumbled their way into more divisive views, showing obsession with conspiracies and cultish devotion to figures like Trump.

These modern tribes act in quasi-religious ways despite prevailing secularism, which begs the questions:

  • In what ways are these movements expressions of religious impulse, or perhaps, something darker?
  • Is this occurring despite, or because of, a lack of traditional religion?
  • To what extent are activists (perhaps unknowingly) drawing on Christian theological assumptions?
  • Can humans transcend prevailing religious impulses, or are they too deeply ingrained in us?
  • What does this all mean for the human condition?

These are but some of the questions that the class instructor and renowned religious scholar Dr Christopher Hartney will explore in this course.

With help from selected readings of Émile Durkheim, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Peter Sloterdijk and others, Christopher will help you better understand the sometimes hidden influence of the tribal, the magical, the mythic and the religious on human nature and modern politics.

About the Course

Politics as the New Religion: Understanding the Far Left and Far Right is a four-week course that illuminates our political moment by exploring how religion, politics, wild theories, and human self-awareness now intermesh…

Over the past few years, politics has become particularly extreme. Elements of the Left have shifted further leftward, especially on cultural and racial issues, in what has been dubbed The Great Awokening.

Elements of the Right have similarly stumbled their way into more divisive views, showing obsession with conspiracies and cultish devotion to figures like Trump.

These modern tribes act in quasi-religious ways despite prevailing secularism, which begs the questions:

  • In what ways are these movements expressions of religious impulse, or perhaps, something darker?
  • Is this occurring despite, or because of, a lack of traditional religion?
  • To what extent are activists (perhaps unknowingly) drawing on Christian theological assumptions?
  • Can humans transcend prevailing religious impulses, or are they too deeply ingrained in us?
  • What does this all mean for the human condition?

These are but some of the questions that the class instructor and renowned religious scholar Dr Christopher Hartney will explore in this course.

With help from selected readings of Émile Durkheim, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Peter Sloterdijk and others, Christopher will help you better understand the sometimes hidden influence of the tribal, the magical, the mythic and the religious on human nature and modern politics.

About your instructor

Dr Christopher Hartney

Christopher Hartney is a senior lecturer in the Department of Studies in Religion at the University of Sydney where he studies and teaches the myths of modernity, religion and violence, civil religion, and new religious systems.

Course structure

The course consists of four 90-minute classes and takes place in our virtual classroom over Zoom.

It is a live and interactive course, which features:

  • Assigned readings,
  • Live lectures,
  • Live Q&A sessions with the instructor,
  • and Zoom breakout rooms with your intellectually curious classmates.

Can’t make the live classes? No dramas! All lessons are recorded and accessible forever.

To maintain an optimal learning environment, classes are kept small — so be quick in securing your spot!

Lecture Schedule

  • Week 1 | Overview of Religion:
    • Definitions of religion (Durkheim, Tillich, etc)
    • Description of traditional religions and their shared themes
  • Week 2 | Left-Wing Religion:
    • The Great Awokening
  • Week 3 | Right-Wing Religion:
    • Conspiracies theories as grand narratives
    • The worship of Trump
  • Week 4 | The Future of Religion
    • Will humans always have the religious impulse? If so, how is that best expressed/managed?

What You'll Learn

Religion

Descriptions of traditional religions and their shared themes.

Left-Wing Religion

Exploration of The Great Awokening.

Right-Wing Religion

Exploration of conspiracy theories, ideologies, and personality cults.

The Future of Religion

Will humans always have the religious impulse? If so, what does this mean for the human condition?

Course dates

March 2022

Class Dates

All classes run from 6.00 PM AEDT to 7.30 PM AEDT
• Week 1: Wed 2 March, 2022
• Week 2: Wed 9 March, 2022
• Week 3: Wed 16 March, 2022
• Week 4: Wed 23 March, 2022

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