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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Power, History and Meaning: World Religions and Political Affairs

Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life


Christian Polke
University of Hamburg

Date: Thursday, March 1, 2012
Time: 12:00-1:15PM
Location: Boisi Center, 24 Quincy Rd


Abstract: Throughout the ages, humans have employed political power in the quest for religious meaning in life. In this talk, Professor Polke draws upon the revolutionary religious developments of the axial age--an era spanning the lives and religious movements inspired by Socrates, Sidhartha Gautama (the Buddha) and Confucius, among many others--to understand key models of social and political thought that continue to shape our understanding of political and religious diversity today.


Christian Polke is a post-doctoral research assistant in theology department at the University of Hamburg whose research focuses on political and legal ethics and the impact of theology on public life. A recipient of the John F. Templeton Award for Theological Promise in 2010, he is completing a manuscript entitled "Expressive Theism: Reconsidering the Question of a Personal God." His dissertation, Religious Neutrality of the Modern State: A Study in Political Ethics, was published in 2009. Polke has studied Protestant theology, philosophy and law in Berlin, Heidelberg, and Tübingen. He received his Ph.D. from Heidelberg University.


In the News

Rick Santorum recently declared his disagreement with another Catholic presidential candidate, John F. Kennedy. In contrast to Kennedy, Santorum doesn't "believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.” On Thursday, March 1, German scholar Christian Polke spoke about how ancient and contemporary societies have tied together political power and religious belief. Listen to an audio recording of Polke's talk.