Karl Marx's view of Religion as Oppression - A DVD/Discussion meetup!

In this DVD presentation, Prof. Charles Jones will discuss philosopher Karl Marx's ( 1818-83) hostility toward religion. Marx's great breakthrough was to realize that material reality comes before any other kind, whether mental or spiritual. In human life, this means that human beings must eat, drink, have clothing, and find shelter before they engage in any of the higher pursuits such as art, politics, or religion. His view was that history is a struggle between workers and owners, a struggle that the worker must one day win, Marx analyzed religion as a tool in the hands of owners to keep workers docile and compliant, and he called for an assault, not on religion itself, but on a political economy that made religion necessary in the first place. Later Marxists, however, broke with him and claimed historical precedents that showed how religion could actually help workers free themselves from exploitation. The presenter is Charles B. Jones, Ph.D. field is in East Asian religions and has published several critical articles on Buddhism-Christian dialogues. His current research interest centers on the Pure Land School of Buddhism in the late imperial China. At one time he was a professor at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. After viewing the DVD, there will be a discussion period, led by Scott Lohman. There is usually a group that goes out afterward for lunch (lately we have been going to Merlin's Rest).

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  • Mary LeBlanc

    Religion is a double edged knife.... Sometimes one has to start somewhere. Like Ken Wilber's idea of 11 different levels of enlightenment. You start with a very basic child-like idea full of magic and fantasy, and then progress or not depending on one's education, mental health, and intelligence.

    December 28, 2008

  • sandra

    I thought the DvD was thought provoking and left with thoughts to pawnder.

    December 22, 2008

  • Brad Bolin

    Pretty good. I had a hard time taking my eyes away from the floating-in-the-clouds cross behind him.

    December 20, 2008

  • A former member
    A former member

    The DVD, though it simplified Marxist thought, was reasonably fair. The question we were asked to consider was based on a non-Marxist concept -- "secularization" -- and had almost no connection to the DVD, so the DVD was really wasted. The discussion was meandering and superficial, and the summary for my group was lousy. Science and technology can be -- and are!-- as readily used by an economic elite to oppress poor and working people as religion, so an increasingly scientific worldview won't necessarily lead to the "withering away" of religion or the liberation of the masses. In fact, science and technology have been much more useful to the economic elite in concentrating wealth and power than religion ever has been. All in all, another missed opportunity for an interesting discussion. I recommend reading something beforehand to better focus the discussion.

    December 20, 2008

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