This course will examine the interplay of history, religion, politics, culture, and psychology to try to understand why the great philosopher Isaiah Berlin called the 20th century. "The most terrible century in Western history." Our focus will be on the Holocaust but we will explore related concepts such as racism, imperialism, violence, and the dehumanization of individuals in the modern world. Topics covered include Native American and Indigenous genocide; HIV/AIDS; sexual violence; and the question of just war.
We often think of the history of the New Testament as the history of Christianity, but it is really a history that lies at the crossroads of ancient Israel and the Roman Empire. In this class, we will explore the earliest scriptures of what eventually became Christianity in the context of their Jewish and Roman imperial roots.
An in-depth analysis of beliefs and values that have dominated American life in modern and postmodern eras, and of diverse belief and value systems that offer alternatives for the future. The analysis will be based on influential theories from the academic study of religion, and the course will give special attention to the influence of religious factors on secular American life.