Recently a collection of RSM contributors gathered online for an introductory chat and to discuss a myriad of issues we plan to explore here on the blog. RSM founder Wayne Franklin acted as moderator.
During the first part of that discussion we established that we all aspire to be respectful, mannerly gentlemen. And we resent being stereotyped as toothless idiots. Part two is about the three great Southern religions: NASCAR, college football and, well…religion:
- Wayne Franklin: Okay, who among you – and answer honestly – are NASCAR fans? (This is another of the stereotypes that really bugs me.)
Jerrod Brown: I am! And if you like a Busch brother, I’m leaving this chat.
David Reber: I’d be a bigger fan if it weren’t so time-consuming.
George Heubach: Not me. Sorry to disappoint.
Lee Meadows: Sorry, computer problems. Be right back.
WF: Lee had to check the race results from the weekend so he could fake it.
DR: It’s worse than golf. Takes all day to watch and takes time away from the family. Love the sport; just can’t hang with it.
LM: I’m back. (With results.)
WF: I guess I’m irritated by the notion that NASCAR is only a Southern thing. Have you seen the lineup of drivers lately? Most are from the Midwest or California.
DR: The rumble of the cars make for perfect naps though.
JB: I watch it in the background– you haven’t napped till you have experienced a sunday afternoon NASCAR nap…
WF: Jerrod, I will agree with that. The sound of Darrel Waltrip’s voice lulls me into slumber every time.
LM: Isn’t it the sport with the biggest fan base?
WF: Do you mean in numbers or volume?
DR: No new tracks in the South.
WF: Here’s a stereotype we can’t avoid… Football is more than a sport in the South; it’s like a religion. Are you a believer, and to which denomination (team) do you belong?
DR: There is nothing like SEC football anywhere.
GH: Is there any other?
DR: Only imitators.
JB: Southern Baptist – Bama.
Billy Ivey: I am a Vanderbilt fan, which is kind of like being a Jew living in Wilsonville, Alabama.
WF: Hey, I know that guy, Billy! Bubba Rabinowitz, right?
WF: Lee, I’ve never seen anything like tailgating on the Grove.
(RSM Lee Meadows is an Oxford, Mississippi native and an Ole Miss alum.)
LM: And you never will! We may lose the game, but we win the party EVERY time.
BI: Clearly you have never watched a Vandy /Miami of Ohio game in Wilsonville with the Rabinowitzes.
WF: Apparently, Lee, your fans haven’t either, because they don’t bother to leave the Grove and actually make it to the stadium.
LM: There’s a stadium? Never noticed.
GH: I usually attend no more than one game a year. It takes the rest of the season to recover.
DR: I was raised a Bama fan. Kinda like saying you are saved because your parents had you baptized.
BI: You guys should read a brilliant book called God and Football by my friend, Chad Gibbs.
JB: Good book, even though he is an AU fan…
BI: If you like SEC football and Jesus, you’ll love it.
WF: Poor Bubba Rabinowitz… Left out again.
WF: Speaking of religion, we all live in what is popularly known as the Bible Belt. Not knowing all the particulars of each of your religious beliefs, how does that label affect you?
LM: Bible Belt or religious?
WF: Yes and yes. Dave, is Kansas still in the Bible Belt…or part of the Secular Suspenders?
DR: It’s a braided belt
LM: That stereotype doesn’t bother me because it fits. Actually what bothers me is the PC-incorrectness about religion that I experience outside of the South. All diversity is celebrated, it seems, except WASPness.
I am WASP – White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant – the absolute worst thing to be when you work in a university.
WF: I was raised by a non-believing father and a mother who belonged to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – or as I like to call them, the “Lazy Mormons” – because they stopped in Missouri while the real Mormons kept going to Salt Lake. So I’ve experienced a view slightly askew from the typical Southern upbringing.
LM: Didn’t know that, Wayne.
WF: I “got saved” in the front seat of a Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme in the high school parking lot during a thunderstorm. (And no, it’s not the same kind of getting saved that happens in the back seat of a Cutlass Supreme.)
DR: I remember that day!
WF: Dave was in the back seat.
JB: In my world, I find the assumed religiosity of the south confusing. It has become so intertwined with culture that it is almost like taking on a sports allegiance, a NASCAR allegiance, or a hunting allegiance. I think there is culture and there are spiritual realities.
DR: In all of the regions I have lived, I would say religion is like NASCAR: some do, some don’t, some go overboard.
LM: I agree, Jerrod.
JB: By the way, this is the world I move in: I work around collegians in a ministerial capacity, so I am constantly dealing with helping them distinguish between what is culture and what is who they really are. I see the other side of the stereotypes. I see how the stereotyped are confused by the assumptions.
WF: Jerrod, I find it funny that so many assume that everyone in the South is religious at all. I haven’t found that to be the case. Perhaps it’s just our generation or my profession, but I have many friends who are far from believers and would be very offended by the suggestion…some of whom are involved with this blog.
LM: Church – real church, real supernatural faith – has such a pull on me because of the divine moments I’ve had, starting in North Oxford Baptist Church in Oxford, Mississippi.
DR: My story on religion is the same as that of football. I didn’t get it until I moved north
WF: And here I just told my kids the South was God’s country…
Check in again next week for part 3 of the April RSM Roundtable.