CMST: Religion

Elaborate on the merits of specific tournaments or have general theoretical discussion here.
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wcheng
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CMST: Religion

Post by wcheng »

I have created this thread to provide some insight into my approach towards writing and editing religion in this set, and to welcome feedback for the category. Though I would have certainly liked to play this year's spring open, I decided to accept an invitation to edit religion for CMST because I wanted to provide a possible model that others could follow when writing nationals-level religion questions in the face of continued cuts towards this category. The vast majority (26/30) of religion in this set was written by me, with the rest written by Aseem Keyal.

First, I will note that the subdistribution was as follows:

3/2 Christian Practice
T: Japan, Opus Dei, Church of the Holy Sepulchre
B: Mount Athos/Axion Estin/Ecumenical Patriarch, television/Brazil/Robert Schuller

1/2 Jewish Practice
T: Chabad
B: fish/borer/hamsa, Rashbi/Kabbalah/Isaac Luria

1/2 Christian Bible
T: Clement
B: Marcion/Luke/Ebionites, Isaiah/Phillip the Evangelist/the Temple

2/1 Hebrew Bible
T: Moab, Azazel
B: covenants/rainbow/Galatians

3/3 Islam
T: Alawites, Gabriel, Abraham
B: bid'ah/Mawlid/five, Arabs/jizya/Bilal, Abu Sufyan/Mahdi/black

2/2 Hinduism
T: garlands, Adi Shankara
B: Brahmo Samaj/sati/murti, threads/ashram/Gayatri mantra

2/2 Buddhism
T: Nichiren, Burma
B: catuskoti/Nagarjuna/Mahayana, Dorje Shugden/Gelug/China

1/1 Other
T: Roma
B: haoma/Ab-Zohr/fire temple

Overall, I wanted to have an emphasis on the Judaeo-Christian tradition, as a nod to the importance of those religions in Western culture and to the demographics of the quizbowl community, but I also wanted to ensure that Islam and Dharmic religions have significant representation. In aggregate, I sought to deflect focus away from less-widely practiced (if no less important) religions like the Bahá'í Faith and Zoroastrianism that have been heavily asked about in the past towards areas of major religions that have not been widely explored. My key points are the following:
  • 1. Religion content that is academic in nature can be incorporated without sacrificing content about scriptures and practice. For example, my tossup on Moab led in with clues about biblical archeology, which is an interesting academic area that hasn't really been explored much in quizbowl, but it ended with clues taken straight from scripture in Ruth and Genesis. Another example of this would be my Marcion bonus, where I incorporated scholarship on early Christianity and early Christian writings into a bonus with a very straighforward easy part taken from the Gospels (Luke). I would argue incorporating academic content into religion in ways like common links and bonus parts is important for accessibility and player empathy because it allows for a much broader range of players to answer the question, while still allowing for those with deeper academic knowledge to gain an advantage.

    2. Religion is contemporary as much as ancient and this fact should be reflected when possible. While every major religion obviously originated over a millennium ago, there are so many important religious movements that have only arisen in the last two centuries. It seemed odd to me, then, that many quizbowl tournaments would place such a major focus on older movements and personalities when there are many newer ones that have had just as much impact, if not more, on people living today. For examples of this, you could look at my tossup on Opus Dei or my bonus on Brahmo Samaj, or Aseem's bonus on televangelism. Obviously, this might not be as feasible at lower-difficulty tournaments due to difficulty concerns.

    3. I recognize that the difficulty of some of these questions may have been higher than I anticipated (Clement, Adi Shankara), and for that I apologize. However, I hope that the effect of the difficulty was not to cause people to think "Who even cares about this?" (a thought that I have had in the past about a non-zero number of questions), but to think "I don't know this but it seems important." For this reason, I sought to avoid overly focusing on minor details with these difficult answerlines but to connect them to the broader contexts in which they are important (the development of the Christian canon in the case of Clement, the various schools of Hindu philosophy in the case of Adi Shankara).
Weijia Cheng
Centennial '15
Maryland '18 (Fall)

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A Dim-Witted Saboteur
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Re: Religion

Post by A Dim-Witted Saboteur »

Could I see the Abu Sufyan and Bilal bonuses?
Jakob Myers
MSU '21, Naperville North (IL) '17
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wcheng
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Re: Religion

Post by wcheng »

Sit Room Guy wrote:Could I see the Abu Sufyan and Bilal bonuses?
In Islamic eschatology, a figure identified as a descendant of this man will begin an uprising in the Levant before going on to attack Medina and Kufa. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this man, who was a leader of the Quraysh tribe and early opponent of Muhammad in Mecca. He led the Meccan forces to victory over the Muslims at the Battle of Uhud.
ANSWER: Abu Sufyan ibn Harb
[10] The apocalyptic figure called the Sufyani will be opposed by this other figure who will justly rule the world prior to the Day of Resurrection. Twelver Shias believe that the last imam will reappear as this figure.
ANSWER: Mahdi
[10] The arrival of the Mahdi will be heralded by flags of this color flown at Khorasan. In another context, pilgrims gesture towards or kiss an object of this color during tawaf.
ANSWER: black [accept Black Standard or Black Stone]
<WC, Religion>
In his Farewell Sermon, Muhammad warned against considering these people superior to others, stating that only piety, or taqwa, was important. For 10 points each:
[10] Name these people, whose preeminence was opposed by the shu’ubiyya movement. During the Umayyad caliphate, the word mawla came to refer to Muslims who were not these people.
ANSWER: Arabs
[10] Until reforms by Umar II, the mawali were required to pay this tax usually levied on dhimmis, who are non-Muslim subjects of a Muslim ruler. The Surat At-Tawbah mandates the payment of this tax.
ANSWER: jizya
[10] An oft-cited example of racial equality in early Islam is this freed African slave, who was appointed by Muhammad as the first muezzin.
ANSWER: Bilal ibn Rabah
<AK, Religion>
Weijia Cheng
Centennial '15
Maryland '18 (Fall)

Kevin
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Re: Religion

Post by Kevin »

I thought the religion was very well done. I'm grateful for the prompt after I said Jerusalem for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre question; I knew it from the ladder clue but wasn't sure what kind of location was wanted. I also liked the Romani question. I thought the fire temple bonus part question was a little bit confusing; I guess I should've realized that was the easy part. I thought the Clement question was fine, although I didn't convert it until the very end. Early pope=Clement seems like a reasonable enough answer choice at this difficulty level.
Kevin Marshall
Coach, Mount Carmel Academy, New Orleans, LA (2014-present)
Coach, Chapelle HS, Metairie, LA (2011-2014)
player and/or secretary and/or captain, Tulane Quiz Bowl (2007-2009)

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