9 March 2021

The Soul of Soulless Conditions: Marxists on Christianity, Christians on Marxism

Although Marxists and Christians have found plenty of reasons to be mutually suspicious, prominent voices in both historical communities explored creative ways of relating to one another, politically and ideologically, throughout the 20th century and beyond. Through dialogical exchanges, party documents, and theological reflection, important questions were raised, if not always solved. Were the first Christians communists? What do Moscow and Havana have to do with Rome and Nazareth? Does materialism disqualify Christians from Marxist analysis? Can Marxist political parties accommodate Christian believers, and how far can Christians go in participating in Marxist revolutions?

Over the course of thirteen classes, we will read several Marxists on Christianity (e.g. Lenin, Luxemburg, Castro, Horkheimer) and several Christians on Marxism (e.g. McCabe, Soelle, Cone, Zuidervaart) to better understand where these communities found points of agreement and disagreement. Because neither Marxism nor Christianity are entirely unified traditions of thought, the selection of authors will aim to represent at least some of this diversity, although privileging voices that made an effort to bring these two discourses closer together in some way. Reading these traditions together, we will try to uncover how Christianity contributes to the soul of soulless conditions, and also what it might mean to embody that soul in the flesh of political organization.

Dean Dettloff
ICS 132902 S21
Remote (Online Synchronous)
Intensive, April 20 - May 27, 2021
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 7pm - 9pm EDT


*Attention TST students: if you are interested in taking this course for credit, you must petition your college of registration to count the course credit toward your degree program.