The good folks at Christ and Pop Culture have allowed me to host a theological version of the NCAA tournament on their site. Here is a brief summary of the format:
What it would look like if I created a fantasy tournament bracket each year based solely on religiously oriented universities and colleges? The parameters would be simple:
- On Selection Sunday (the Sunday prior to the beginning of March Madness) we select the schools with some form of religious orientation.
- We pit those teams against one another in a single-elimination tournament.
- We use the tournament process as a lens into the state of religious higher education and its influence on American culture.
The 2012 CaPC Theology Hoops Tournament Challenge
The field this year provided the perfect opportunity to bring out the Theology Hoops Tournament Challenge. 11 of the teams have historically Catholic backgrounds: Marquette, Georgetown, Creighton, Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, Saint Louis, Xavier, Notre Dame, Iona, Loyola (MD), and St. Bonaventure. 9 of the other teams have historically Protestant or Sectarian backgrounds: Duke (Methodist) Baylor (Baptist), Temple (Baptist), Vanderbilt (Methodist-Episcopal), Harvard (Unitarian), Brigham Young (Mormon), Belmont (Baptist), Davidson (Presbyterian), and Lehigh (Episcopalian). I added two state schools (Murray State and San Diego State) both to round out the fields and as a subtle reminder that even secularism is a theological worldview, lest the state schools think that this tournament is about religion verses science. For good measure, I averaged the RPI rankings of the Catholic side (36) and ensured that my two state school selections helped keep the other side near 36.
Historically speaking, Catholic schools have done well to promote a life of the mind as a vital component of the overall Christian spiritual growth process. Thus, I organized them into the aptly labeled theChristian Education Division. As historian Mark Noll has reminded us, the scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind to speak of. Furthermore, the twentieth-century has witnessed Protestant division on the issue of modern theology and the value of scientific inquiry. Thus, I have labeled the the other side the Christian/ Education Division, which affords numerous humorous plays on words. Some of the schools (Belmont and Baylor) have historically emphasized the Christian, rather than the education aspect (although both are catching up). The other schools (see Harvard) have emphasized education rather than the Christian part. Other schools (BYU) are educators but not yet Christian.
How Can You Participate in The Challenge?
- You may download and fill out the 2012 CaPC Theology Tournament Bracket. Because there are 22 teams, we had a 4 team play in series in each division whose winner will enter into the 8-team regional match-ups. The winners of each division will play for the Theology National Championship, and will reveal whose religious higher education is most influential in America in 2012.
- Submit your bracket selections via the comments section. For example, with the Gonzaga v. St. Mary’s match-up you may write, “Gonzaga over St. Mary’s.”
- Our tournament progresses alongside March Madness. I will update the bracket results every week at Christ and Pop Culture.
- Results will be tallied in the following order of importance: (A) Actual wins in March Madness, (B) tally of reader comments, (C) CaPC writer picks. Thus, if Baylor and Harvard (The 3/7 match-up in week 3) both win their opening round games, I will use reader comments to determine the winner. If reader comments are even, CaPC writers will determine the winner of a match-up.
- Remember: The goal of the Theology Hoops Tournament is to provide an opportunity for reflection on the nature of religious higher education in America. That teams made the tournament reflects the diversity of religious education in American culture. That teams win provides further opportunities for examination into their unique educational mission statements.