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Seminar The Force of God: Toward a New Relationship between Democracy and Religious Imaginaries

A Metamorphoses seminar with Carl Raschke and Kurt Appel

The background to and inspiration of this 12th Metamorphoses seminar is Carl Raschke’s recent book, The Force of God: Political Theology and the Crisis of Liberal Democracy (Columbia University Press 2015). Raschke ties democracy’s retreat to the West’s failure to confront its decadence and mobilize its vast spiritual resources. 

Drawing on the thought of Hegel and Nietzsche as well as recent work by Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Joseph Goux, Giorgio Agamben, and Alain Badiou, Raschke aims to recast a political theology for the 21st century, grounded in a powerful, hidden impetus that Raschke coins as the ‘force of God’. This enables him to frame a new value economy and a critical theory that acknowledges a vital, spiritually grounded relationship between politics and the religious imaginaries of determining our past and present. Starting from the themes and critique developed in the book as presented and discussed by the author in his opening lecture, Kurt Appel will engage in a broader analysis of the mutual metamorphoses between religion and present day democratic societies. After both lectures there will be ample room for exchange and discussion.

Summary of the seminar

On December 1st, the University for Humanistic Studies in Utrecht hosted the twelfth Metamorphoses seminar. The occasion for this meeting was the recently published book Force of God: Political Theology and the Crisis of Liberal Democracy by Carl Raschke. Main speakers of the event were Professor Raschke (Chair and Professor in Religious Studies, University of Denver) and Professor Kurt Appel (Professor in Fundamental Theology, University of Vienna). Prof. Raschke presented his latest book and gave an introductory lecture on its genesis. Formal responses by Prof. Appel and Prof. Theo de Wit (theologian and political philosopher at the University of Tilburgh) followed. Point of departure was the question which forces shaped the current crisis of liberal democracy. A discussion followed which soon was directed to the opposing ideologies of democracy and fundamental Islam. The result was a lively meeting calling for a sequel. The next Metamorphoses meeting is planned for February 26th, 2016.

The seminar was made possible by the generous support of CLUE+, Research Institute for Culture, History and Heritage (VU University, Amsterdam)


Contactpersoon prof.dr. Laurens ten Kate
Locatie Universiteit voor Humanistiek, Kromme Nieuwegracht 29, Utrecht zaal 1.15
Datum 1-12-2015
Openingstijden 10.00 - 17.00 uur