Diversity of RE 101

As a religion major, I take many courses that focus on questions. Living with Death asks the question: What does our life look like despite the fact that we all, in the end, will die someday? New Testament Studies of Paul asks: Who is Paul and what does his identity mean in terms of Christianity and the Bible. While all classes start off with a question, religion classes have a knack for asking questions that make people uncomfortable.

RE 101 Literature of the Old and New Testament do this in a way that I think needs to be done in our society more often. I often explain that RE 101 is one of the most important classes for Wartburg students to take here. The Bible is everywhere. Throughout ones life they will encounter at least one person that has an intense relationship with the Bible or at least the God of the Bible (who is also the God of the Quran). Because of this I think it is so important that students learn about this ancient text and what it actually says.

Since everyone has to take this class here there are students from all backgrounds in the class. There are Christians of all sort, Jewish people, atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Hindus, etc, in this class. This makes for an interesting class period. Some come into it thinking they know everything about the Bible because they grew up heavily involved with their church back home. Others come into the class afraid to say a word because they know absolutely nothing about this book and the religion that created it.

This class makes one treat their belief system like a machine. RE 101 makes one take apart their machine, part by part, and examine the parts that comprise it. It makes them ask the question: Why do I believe this and what does that mean exactly? After the class is over the goal is that hopefully one has started from where they were and broken everything down to the bottom and then started to rebuild what it is they believe. Sometimes it is exactly the same machine, part for part. Sometimes it is a completely new machine, none of the same parts, Sometimes it is a machine that looks similar but has some new parts added and some old parts subtracted.

Everyone has to deal with religion in some way during their lifetime. I think it is important to try an understand where people are coming from since religion can be such a huge part of their lives a well as the whole society. Even though it is a Bible class, it allows for so much interfaith conversation to happen as well as shines light on a religion that many claim are ruining society while others claim will save the society.

Advertisements

Harry Potter vs. Doctor Who

392013174849

Have you ever watched something as a kid and then re-watched it when you were older? Did you ever notice things that you hadn’t noticed when you first watched it? One example of this for me would be the Harry Potter movies. When I first watched the Harry Potter movies, there were things that I never really thought that much about. However, re-watching them, I’ve noticed things like class (Weasleys vs. Malfoys), racial diversity (Cho Chang, Angelica Johnson, Patil twins, etc.), diversity in species (wizards, centaurs, muggles, elves, etc.) and many other things. I think that there are also several similarities between Harry Potter and Doctor Who.

In Harry Potter, there are several themes that occur within the movies. One theme that is often shown in the movies is differences in class. The Weasley family and the Malfoy family are great examples of class. The Weasleys are in what appears to be the lower class, while the Malfoys are in the upper class. Often times, the Weasleys struggle to pay for the school supplies for all of their children. They are also often seen hand-me-down clothing or clothing that appears sort of old and ragged. The Malfoys are seen with the best of the best clothing and having the newest things that come out. They also have house elves, which is a sign of wealth and power in the wizarding community. A second theme is the diversity in the cast. Although the movies and books are set in England, there are African-American students, Asian students, Indian students, and several others. Even though most of the cast is Caucasian, there is a diversity in languages, accents, location (Beaubaton and Durmstrang), attire, family status, and more. However, one thing that I have noticed is that even though the cast is racially diverse, they do not have very many lines. A majority of the lines are given by the Caucasian actors, such as Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Emma Watson (Hermione), Rupert Grint (Ron), and others. The other cast members such as Alfred Enoch (Dean Thomas), Katie Leung (Cho Chang), Afshan Azad (Padma Patil), and others have little to no lines at all. While the movies did a good job of including a racially diverse cast, they could have expanded their roles. In class, comments about class in Doctor Who, especially in regards to the kind of clothes people wear, were similar.

Diversity in the species within the wizarding world is another big theme. The creatures range from dragons, house elves, goblins, and centaurs, to pixies, spiders, boggarts, and Dementors. However, these are not the only creatures in the magical world. One thing that I have noticed about some of the creatures is that there is not much diversity within the species themselves. The house elves, goblins, Dementors, and pixies that are shown in the movies appear to look similar to all the others in the species, with little to no distinction. A similar comment about Doctor Who was mentioned in class that some of the aliens do not have much diversity within the species (Daleks, Cybermen, Sycorax, etc.).

fb03970c484204a6fa306885439bc753c1e86e482f4a9b790c5e6d2206ffd7a1

Some other fun facts/things about Doctor Who and Harry Potter are certain actors or concepts. For example, David Tennant, who plays the 10th Doctor, plays Barty Crouch Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Zoë Wanamaker, who plays Madam Hooch in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, plays Cassandra in Doctor Who. There are many other actors that have been in both franchises. In regards to concepts, there are things like an object is bigger on the inside than the outside, time travel, flying, or one race is superior to the other. In the end, there are many things within the Harry Potter franchise that are similar to Doctor Who.

Diversity and the Doctor Reflection

As IS 201 Diversity and the Doctor comes to a close, I have found myself reflecting on the experience… At the start of class, I didn’t exactly know what I was getting into but I had heard of Doctor Who from various members of my family but never actually watched it. Joining the class there was the uncertainty of what the exact requirements and what I will learn in this class, but it fit my schedule so here I am. I would not describe my interest level increased while watching Doctor Who but my understanding of the fan culture in many television shows expanded. For me, I am a big fan of the Marvel Universe but never looked for a fandom and other created fan works. I always just followed the movies in order and re-watch them until others are released. Starting with the class I was like where did she get all these books. I was amazed at the sheer amount of material that could be found on diversity within Doctor Who. After watching the television show I was more amazed at the sheer analysis of the diversity within Doctor Who due to the nature of the show. The class because of this expanded my look among diversity from just sex, race, and other typical terms that come to mind during a regular discussion of diversity. The show gave a different futuristic look at diversity among aliens and other creatures that can represent real day problems in a futuristic setting. Although Doctor Who is not my cup of tea, I can see the ideas and the infatuation with the series by others. The show is well represented and well made without an average die off period of other televisions show have. The way the doctor has been set up from the beginning into the reboot, it has been well planned and executed to keep the fresh cast and fresh ideas to maintain an interesting storyline. The discussion in class from the doc who lovers and the uninterested created an appreciation but not a love for the series. All in all, the class has been an interesting take on diversity and expanded m knowledge of the doctor. The series has been a cultural experience in both fandoms and British culture that I have not been submerged to in this capacity in my life and all have been a good experience to have to look at things in my life with an open mind.

To Love or Not to Love

This is the first time that I had ever watched any Doctor Who. At the beginning I really enjoyed the show. It was interesting and out there. Shows like this have always intrigued me so I thought I would thoroughly enjoy it. As time has gone on though I have liked the show less and less. There certain episodes that I enjoy, but the show itself gets so repetitious. I am holding a very unpopular opinion I know, but it is a hard show to get through honestly. I can’t seem to get a background story from it. I think it doesn’t help that the companions change so you just start to get their backstory when they go up and disappear.

I talked to a student that isn’t in this IS class. We talked about how I didn’t enjoy the show and he just couldn’t understand, but then we started talking about how I was watching it for a class. He said that it would probably be able to enjoy a show that you had never seen before when you were forced to watch certain episodes and take notes for a class. I feel that this is a good point, but I took the IS 101 class about Buffy and ended up loving the show! Even though I had to watch it for a class I enjoyed watching the episodes and continued to watch it after the class ended.

I feel that I just can’t get into Doctor Who yes I felt sad when nine had to regenerate, but I just cant connect with the characters and the story.

Don’t get me wrong. I wish I liked the show! My roommates love it and I wish I could watch it and enjoy it with them! But I just don’t think that I am meant to be a Whovian.

The Social Doctor

Today in class we had a group of Wartburg employees answer questions about their fandoms and more specifically Doctor Who. It was an interesting conversation and dialogue piece to witness of the back and forth of the differing views of the fans from an older generation than us as students. They experienced a whole different era of doctor who and joined way before anyone else in our class besides Dr. Lindgren. This also was a great conversation that occurred about the time they started watching the doctor. The different reasons that they stumbled upon the show. They fell upon the television show just like most people do. It was on TV and for one reason or another, they became attached to the series. This is something Doctor Who does well in the sense that if the science fiction is a gene you are in to. It captures a layer of disbelief and the wonder of possibility at the same time. This is an aspect I never thought about while watching. There was a sort of chemistry between this group of Wartburg employees because of the shared interest in Doctor Who. This was more than a television show to some. This is something that interests me because I had never been connected to a show or series in that way. It even affected their family dynamic that gave them and their kid’s something to talk about. In the idea that the show was more than a shoe but a social thing for the members of this talk was the fact that Dr. Figura and his wife talked about how this is a common interest of theirs and their friends. It gives them an interesting almost book club dynamic with their peers sharing ideas with one another. I could see how this could be a great social group to be a part of from the small discussions occurring during class. The social part of Doctor Who gives another aspect of why people identify as fans. This would be the same as if people identify as fans of a sports team. It makes a connection or common interest to build relationships off and to grow a social group of friends or colleagues (in their case) to have a conversation about something you like. The class today was a good exercise that made me look past the show as in just a show and looking strictly at the themes in the show but more what It means to the people watching it.