“DEFENSE AGAINST THE DARK ARTS”
The Defense against the Dark Arts, a purely theoretical subject, nevertheless has a clear practical purpose: fostering informed, non-conflicted relations with people whose beliefs and worldviews are quite different from one’s own. We try to teach our students to differentiate between religious people and fanatics, between authentic religious communities and profit-oriented enterprises, we look for the borderline between the forces of Light and Dark, and we learn the different names and signification these powers are given in different systems of beliefs.
Structurally, the course consists of lectures and seminars on the history of religion, sociology of religion, and ethics of religion. As the students acquire a larger theoretical base they learn to comprehend and operate such controversial concepts as ‘religion,’ ‘religious organization,’ ‘a sect,’ ‘a new religious movement,’ and others.
The course is intended to teach tolerance, to give a basic understanding of the world leading religious traditions, while suspending judgment and keeping an open mind.