60-Second Adventures in Religion: Watch New Animations by The Open University

Amer­i­can friends who went study­ing abroad in the Great Britain of the 70s all have a sto­ry about dis­cov­er­ing the Open Uni­ver­si­ty. They usu­al­ly did so late at night, more than a lit­tle ine­bri­at­ed, and well into a bout of semi-exot­ic chan­nel-flip­ping. Sud­den­ly they’d stum­ble upon a plaid-jack­et­ed lec­tur­er intro­duc­ing psy­chol­o­gy, say, or biol­o­gy, or some branch of lit­er­a­ture, and find them­selves sur­prised and trans­fixed. Back then, the OU had to lean on tele­vi­sion and radio as con­tent dis­tri­b­u­tion sys­tems, but now that they can make use of the inter­net, they’ve put out all sorts of edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als of great inter­est to Open Cul­ture read­ers. We’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured their 60-Sec­ond Adven­tures in Thought and 60-Sec­ond Adven­tures in Eco­nom­ics. Now you can watch and learn about anoth­er sub­ject from the lat­est in their series of ani­mat­ed, joke-filled intel­lec­tu­al primers, 60-Sec­ond Adven­tures in Reli­gion.

“Karl Marx was a Ger­man philoso­pher-econ­o­mist, and the least fun­ny of the Marx­es,” says the nar­ra­tor of the first adven­ture, “Reli­gion as Social Con­trol.” “He famous­ly called reli­gion ‘the opi­um of the peo­ple,’ in that reli­gion was not only used by those in pow­er to oppress the work­ers, but it also made them feel bet­ter about being oppressed when they could­n’t afford real opi­um.” The oth­er three adven­tures approach reli­gion as rit­u­al, reli­gion as moth­er, and reli­gion as virus. Each video (watch them below) ref­er­ences a dif­fer­ent the­o­rist and takes their views as seri­ous­ly as such a humor­ous project can, though they all avoid ascrib­ing absolute author­i­ty to any­one in par­tic­u­lar. The fourth install­ment, for instance, opens by quot­ing Richard Dawkins, whom the nar­ra­tor intro­duces as “an athe­ist, evo­lu­tion­ary biol­o­gist, and prob­a­bly not some­one you should ask to be a god­fa­ther.” But hear­ing about his thoughts on the virus of reli­gion will cer­tain­ly get you curi­ous about what else OU has to offer on the sub­ject.

(You can also down­load 60-Sec­ond Adven­tures in Reli­gion on iTunes.)

Reli­gion as Rit­u­al

Reli­gion as Moth­er

Reli­gion as Virus

Relat­ed Con­tent:

60-Sec­ond Adven­tures in Eco­nom­ics: An Ani­mat­ed Intro to The Invis­i­ble Hand and Oth­er Eco­nom­ic Ideas

60-Sec­ond Adven­tures in Thought

Sci­ence Behind the Bike: Four Videos from the Open Uni­ver­si­ty on the Eve of the Tour de France

540 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.