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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA Profiles

    Fervent worshipper? Die-hard atheist? The Religious Studies Program offers a class for curious students of all theological beliefs and backgrounds. Alex Nava, associate professor of religious studies, discussed his popular class, The Question of God, and its relevance to students.

    Arizona Daily Wildcat: What is Religious Studies (RELI) 304, The Question of God?

    Nava: It is a class that looks at the idea of God historically. It’s more about the question than the answer; it’s about wrestling with the idea of God.

    Wildcat: What does the course focus on?

    Nava: The first part of the class looks at how the concept of God has emerged and developed in Western culture, and the second part is a comparative approach and looks at non-Western traditions. We also study how culture, race and gender affect the perception of God.

    Wildcat: Why is this course relevant to students?

    Nava: The question of God, regardless of someone’s background, is a fundamental human question. It raises issues about the meaning and purpose of human life. It is profoundly interdisciplinary, so no matter what a student is studying, it will have some relevance.

    Wildcat: What will students take away from this class?

    Nava: A greater appreciation and understanding of various beliefs and value systems in the world. We live in a time where it’s not just about being tolerant of others, but also about being knowledgeable and informed.

    Wildcat: What is unique about your class?

    Nava: I have added a service-learning component as extra credit. I ask that the students complete 10 hours of volunteer work in Tucson. Religion can be good and bad, but the best of it calls us to step out of our self-absorbed lives and concern ourselves with the well-being of others. Education, in general, is about learning to serve others and being responsible, humane citizens of the world.

    Wildcat: What would students be surprised to learn about your class?

    Nava: We use a lot of different forms and approaches to learning. We read philosophical and theological texts, but we also look at how the idea of God is conceived and interpreted through music, art, movies and poetry. We look at music by Tupac, art by Mark Rothko and movies like “”Malcolm X”” and the “”Da Vinci Code.””

    Wildcat: Who should take this class?

    Nava: Students who are unsure where they stand spiritually and religiously and who are interested in the pursuit.

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