Using Sports to Understand Social Perspectives

Ally Manel is a sophomore from Holbrook, New York. She is a dual degree
candidate in Biology and Religious Studies, as well as a member of
the University of Alabama Equestrian Team.

With the Final Four just around the corner, millions of people will tune in to watch their favorite college teams compete for the title of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. Thousands will pack into the stadium to watch the games, and there are bound to be many angry fans each time the referee makes a close call. Now, being a sports fan, I am no stranger to the frustration felt when a referee seems to be favoring the opponent. After all, I am certain where my loyalties lie, and when the ref makes a call that seems unfair, it certainly feels like they lose the objectivity expected of them, as if they have allegiances with the adversary. Now, no one is perfect, and when the tables are turned and the referee seems to favor my team, I suddenly see the calls as fair. The contradictions in my critique of the referee can be translated into responses to traditions such as Hinduism. Sometimes, outsiders see certain viewpoints of Hindu myths as contradictory to Hindu ideals, just as close calls by referees can be seen as both fair and unfair to outsiders.

In Hinduism, Hanuman is a significant deity and is given the honorable title of “destroyer of evil.” In one particular Hindu comic, “Hanuman to the Rescue: Hanuman brings the Sanjeevani,” by Anant Pai, Hanuman is given the task of delivering a plant to Lakshmana, another influential deity, in order to save his life. While bringing the plant, Hanuman has to kill hundreds of his enemies to get back to his home and Lakshmana. To Hindus, the story is thought to represent the truest form of loyalty and sincerity, and the violence against the enemies is seen as necessary. To some outsiders of the religion, the violence used to kill the enemies in order to save Lakshmana is seen as contradictory to the ideals of the religion. For instance, take the Hindu idea of ahimsa, meaning nonviolence. Many Hindus attempt to live by this principle, and for the comic to portray violence so openly, some see it as contradictory to ahimsa. Whether the comic is contradictory to the religion, though, is not what I am here to decide. Instead, it’s important to note how an individual’s own biases, experiences, and background shape the opinion they form. Maybe Hindus are more willing to overlook Hanuman’s violence because his intentions are to destroy evil, and without taking a violent approach, evil will persist. If one looks from a different perspective, though, the violence might be viewed as wrong and unnecessary.

Taking this back to March Madness referees, a referee may make a certain call because of something they learned in training, or a similar play that went down, just in the same way that a Hindu might overlook Hanuman’s violence because of an experience they’ve had, while another person might see the act as a bit problematic. These differing opinions are simply inevitable, and it is important for us to take into account the different sides of every story. These different experiences can change an entire ideology, as seen with the story of Hanuman retrieving the plant. The biases of authors and readers lead to different versions of stories, and in order to fully understand a story, often the reader must consider their own biases as well as the writer’s experiences.

 

Image credit: via MaxPixel (CC0 1.0)

Sesame Street, Bears, The Mahabharata, and Ideology

Image from Pexels and authorized for use under the Pexels license

Kyle Ashley is a junior from Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Majoring in Religious Studies, his main interests include music, games, sports, and their respective subcultures.

Ever wonder why there are so many different versions of the same story? For example, in the version of Goldilocks and The Three Bears that was told to me by my grandmother, Goldilocks is, for all intents and purposes, a home invader, a home invader that steals Baby Bear’s porridge, breaks Baby Bear’s chair, and sleeps in Baby Bear’s bed. But in the Sesame Street version that I watched as a child, Goldilocks and Baby Bear are friends in the middle of a fight, apparently. And instead of chasing her out of their house, the Bear family bring in Goldilocks for a big ol’ bear hug (her replacement, the Big Bad Wolf, proves to be less than ideal). What’s going on here? Continue reading

REL 360 presents: Lage Raho Munna Bhai (another movie night!)

If you’ve been keeping up with the latest developments in the REL department, you probably know that we have a brand new one-credit course this year: REL 360. REL 360 screens a select group of movies throughout the semester, and the next one is coming up on Tuesday, Oct. 21. Everyone’s invited, not just those enrolled in the course!

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We’ll be watching Lage Raho Munna Bhai. We’re hoping for a good turnout from students involved in Asian Studies, too. Dr. Ramey will be on hand to lead the discussion after the film; he’d probably be happy to chat if you have any questions you about the Asian Studies Minor. Here are all the details about this event:

  • WHAT: REL 360 is a new one-credit course in which students screen a small selection of films and discuss them together with Religious Studies faculty. The best part is: anyone can attend the film screenings, not just those enrolled in the course.
  • WHEN: Tues., Oct. 21 at 6:00 PM
  • WHERE: Manly 207
  • WHY: You want to broaden your horizons! You want to see a movie you’ve never seen before! You want to learn what REL students and faculty are up to! You are curious about a course devoted to Popular Culture/Public Humanities!
  • WHAT ELSE: Anyone can attend! If you attend and like what you see, speak to Prof. Rollens (serollens@ua.edu) about enrolling in REL 360 for next semester!

Hope to see you there!popcorn

 

 

 

The Humanities, the UK, and Southern Food

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Prof. Richard King, professor of Buddhist and Asian Studies at the University of Kent, sits down to discuss his work, as well as the Humanities, higher education in the United Kingdom, and even veggie corndogs.

Dr. King delivered the 12th annual Aronov Lecture, titled “From Mysticism to Spirituality: Colonial Legacies and the Reformulation of ‘the Mystic East,'” so be on the lookout for the posting of the lecture video. Also, check out this lecture getting some press in the UK.

A Few Moments with Richard King from UA Religious Studies.

There and Back Again, Part 3

gradtales3On February 5, 2014, we sponsored the third “There and Back Again: A Grad’s Tale,” this time hosted by Prof. Ramey. Our guest was Ben Simmons, who graduated from UA in 2009, with a B.A. in Religious Studies and History, and who came to town for the night with his wife (also a grad of UA) and their young son. Continue reading