Steel Center

Previous Afternoon Discussions

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

The Body of Empathy: Can Art Cultivate Empathy?

“Hendrix College cultivates empathy” is the first clause of our statement of purpose. The Ellis art exhibit The Body of Empathy, curated by Dr. Dow and Dr. Lopas, asked the question of whether engaging with art can enable us to cultivate empathy. Dr. Dow will lead a discussion about the aesthetics of portrait paintings, discuss the artworks in the exhibition, and will argue that empathizing with personas and scenes in portrait paintings cultivates empathy in ways that differ from interacting with people and nature.

Led by Dr. James Dow

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

Debates About Pornography 

What are the different objections to pornography? What things can be said in favor of it? One question we’ll want to keep in mind as we discuss pros and cons is whether we can speak of “pornography” in general, or we need to be more specific about the particular kind of pornography in question.

Led by Dr. Anne Eaton from the University of Illinois


Friday, April 12th, 2019

On the Sense in Which Islam Requires More Enlightenment

"As several writers have observed, what contemporary Islam lacks is not so much reformation but enlightenment. Some authors have argued that this advice, however well intentioned, bespeaks of Western arrogance. They point out that Islam has a long and venerable history of religious and legal scholarship. While it is undeniably true that the Muslim world has a long-standing internal practice of scholarly criticism and interpretation, I will argue that there is nevertheless at least one regard in which Islamic scholarship has failed to sufficiently exploit the contemporary possibilities for critical self-understanding. One of the most important of these modern techniques is “scientific” historiography, particularly as described by R.G. Collingwood in his philosophy of history. In the Muslim world, scientific historiography has yet to be fully and systematically applied to thought about human affairs, including religion, law, and politics. In my talk I will endeavor to show how Islamic scholarship involving the hadith (i.e, the body of tradition about the words and deeds of the Prophet and his companions) could benefit from fully adopting the scientific approach to history. I will provide a detailed illustration of this approach by analyzing the Chappaquiddick incident of 1969, the infamous single-vehicle accident involving U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, which resulted in the death of his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, and forever scuttled his chances of becoming President."

- Dr. Jeff Mitchell

Friday, April 5th, 2019

The Study of Religion: My Fifty Year Journey

Join us as Dr. Harris takes a trip down memory lane revisiting who and what shaped her career, time at Hendrix and her faith. Dr. Harris is retiring at the end of May and we would like to join her in celebrating her career. Alumni are welcome.

Dr. Jane Harris, Professor of Religious Studies leading the discussion

Friday, March 29th, 2019

Strangers and the Land: A Problem of Place and Identity 

Drawing from the Torah and Wendell Berry’s agrarianism, this discussion focuses on an apparent tension between two moral priorities: the land ethic and the stranger ethic. Does care for the land run into conflict with welcoming the stranger?

Led by Dr. Dave Daily from the University of the Ozarks

Friday, March 8th, 2019

Race and Bio-cultural Social Groupings

How should we understand, and refer to, reproducing human socio-cultural groupings, historically (in terms of evolution) and contemporarily, if not as “races”?

Led by Dr. Lucius Outlaw, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Vanderbilt. Dr. Outlaw specializes in Racial-Matter in Socio-Political life, Africana Philosophy, and Social and Political Philosophy. 

Friday, March 1st, 2019

Buying and Selling Your Body: Medicine and Culture in the 21st Century

A discussion of some issues in medical ethics that raise questions about what it mana to "have" a body. Is your body yours? Should it be? Let's talk about it.

Led by Dr. Campolo, Professor of Philosophy at Hendrix College 

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

Philosophizing Like A Girl: Or Why Philosophy Needs Intersectional Gender Theory More Than Ever

In 1980, Iris Marion Young published the groundbreaking essay “Throwing Like A Girl” to provide a phenomenology of gendered embodiment and to explain the negative ramifications of sexist gender conformity. In this talk, Duncan will explain how forty years on, the lessons of gender bias, sexist institutions, and restrictive norms of embodiment matter for a responsive critical philosophy in the 21stCentury. 

Dr. Taine Duncan of the University of Central Arkansas – leading the discussion

Friday, February 15th, 2019

“On the Border: Integrating Faith, Service, and Call”

Over winter break, Caitlin Camper explored how her faith and her call to service intersect through the framework of immigration. She traveled to Tucson, Arizona, to learn about the daily work done by The Florence Immigration and Refugee Rights Project, a non-profit organization that provides free legal and social service to detained men, women, and children who are under threat of deportation. Outside of working with FIRRP, Camper also visited Eloy Detention Center, witnessed Operational Streamline, and worked with other faith-based organizations that advocate for the rights of immigrants.

Friday, February 8th, 2019

A Second Shot at the Ouachita Trail

During the 2018-2019 winter break, seniors Grant Gartner and Luke Lefler reattempted backpacking the Ouachita National Recreational Trail after failing two years prior in an unsuccessful through-hike. As a Special Projects Odyssey credit, Gartner and Lefler successfully hiked through the one hundred and thirty miles of the Ouachita National Recreational Trail left unfinished from their first hike, completing the trip in 9 days. For the hike, Gartner and Lefler used the works Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzalez, Trying edited by Joshua Shepherd, and Achievement written by Gwen Bradford in application to trials experienced during the hike and in reflection with past failures and successes through hiking the Ouachita Trail. The project culminated in a greater understanding of effort and achievement and a successful completion of the Ouachita Trail.

Friday, February 1st, 2019

Political Theology and White Christian Nationalism

“Political theology treats the way religion and politics cannot be separated in our modern world. This talk discusses the formation of white Christian nationalism in the US.” – Dr. Clayton Crockett

Featuring Dr. Clayton Crockett, Professor and Director of Religious Studies at the University of Central Arkansas

Friday, January 25th, 2019

Why Legal Argumentation Is Not a Good Model for Philosophical Argumentation

Philosophy and jurisprudence are often considered to be of a piece with each other, but there are, I contend, several important dis-analogies between philosophical and legal discourse, such that the ‘jurisprudence’ approach is detrimental to philosophical progress.

Friday, November 30th, 2018

The Becoming of Hendrix: Hopes for the Future

This discussion features five Hendrix Professors that are retiring this year – Jay McDaniel, Jane Harris, Stella Capek, Danny Grace and Joyce Hardin. Join us for an opportunity to listen to their experiences at Hendrix College and their desires for the college’s future.  Everyone is welcome and we encourage you to join us for this fun occasion.

Friday, November 9th, 2018

Art as Educator: Why and How

It is often thought that art, and other aesthetic phenomena, can teach us about the world and ourselves, and that artistic and aesthetic activity can help us to learn truths and acquire and develop such knowledge (often in ways that suggest that we could not have accomplished these things via other means). But just how does this happen, exactly, and why? What are some of our reasons for engaging art and other aesthetic phenomena for this sort of purpose? In what ways can art, and other aesthetic phenomena, be morally and epistemically good, and in what ways can they be bad—and how can these different types of value interact (if they can)? Finally, how do different philosophical traditions—such as South or East Asian or European-influenced—address these kinds of questions? This interactive discussion will address these, and other related topics, all depending on audience interest.


Friday, November 1st, 2018

The Forgotten Books of the Bible

While the biblical books of Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther serve as festival scrolls in the Jewish tradition, the Christian church has all but forgotten about them. In his book The Forgotten Books of the Bible: Recovering the Five Scrolls for Today, Robert Williamson insists that these books have urgent significance for contemporary life. In this talk, he will present some of the ideas in his book, covering topics ranging from human sexuality to immigration reform to resistance against ethnic nationalism.

Friday, October 26th, 2018

Ecoglogical Self-Understanding: A Cross-Cultural Epistemic Virtue

Dr. Jesse Butler

Cross-cultural analyses often emphasize differences between worldviews. While there are significant differences across the diverse ways that humanity has understood itself, however, the tendency to emphasize differences can obscure important and revealing commonalities between worldviews as well. The goal of this talk is to identify one such commonality among indigenous worldviews and their capacity to address our collective ecological well-being together on planet Earth. Specifically, I will argue that contemporary philosophers Viola Cordova and Tu Weiming exhibit ecological self-understanding as an epistemic virtue in their conceptions of human existence. Ecological self-understanding (ESU) is veridical acknowledgement of human beings as embodied agents in the world, fundamentally situated within interdependent relations between self and environment. As contemporary exemplars of Native American and Confucian philosophy, respectively, Cordova and Tu illustrate how both worldviews exhibit ESU and thereby serve as models toward the cultivation of ecological well-being through their understanding of the human condition.

Friday, October 19th, 2018

How Should Moral Disagreement Inform Health Care Policy? 

Dr. Michael Brodrick 

“My argument has four parts. First, there is such a thing as - what I call- moral disagreement or moral diversity; second, Western intellectuals have long believed that rational deliberation can eventually eliminate moral disagreement and discover the one true morality that applies to all humans; third, this cherished belief of Western intellectuals is false; fourth, this has important implications for the ethics of health care policy. In particular, health care policy should rely as much as possible on rules that treat different people the same and avoid rules that treat different people differently. In other words, health care policy should be constrained by the Rule of Law and should, whenever possible, avoid legislation and regulation. This amounts to a moral argument for significant reform of the current health care policy landscape in the United States.” – Dr. Michael Brodrick

Friday, October 5th, 2018

In the Midst of the City: The Gospel and God’s Policies

Faith communities are often politically involved, but what shape should such involvement take? The Very Rev. Barkley Thompson's new book God in the Midst of the City: The Gospel and God's Politics argues that the Gospel is never partisan, and that Christian people must immerse themselves in the Gospel as a prelude to determining their social and political commitments. Thompson, who serves as dean of historic Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, will read from his new book and answer questions from attendees. Longtime NPR host Diane Rehm says of Thompson’s book, “…Those who read this book will feel [Thompson’s] extraordinary ability to help us interpret both the divisions and connections we experience as we move through this complex religious, secular and political world.”

Friday, September 28th, 2018

Human(un)kind and the Rape of the World 

This paper sketches the history of unethical behavior of Homo sapiens to other forms of life on planet Earth.  I ask, and sketch responses to, the question: How and why is it that we, the so-called “ethical animal,” have been the worst of all animals in relation to other life-forms on our planet?  In response to the answers to this question, I claim that we know, and have known for a very long time, what it means to be morally good. But in light of the natural bases of our behavior, I wonder if it will ever be possible for us, as a species, to become so. Led by Dr. Charles W. Harvey, University of Central Arkansas.

Friday, September 21st, 2018

Religion in a Warmer World: Cosmotheism and the Anthropocene 

The term "Anthropocene" is much discussed lately as a way of thinking about large-scale shifts in earth systems—including but not limited to global warming—caused by human activity operating at the level of a geophysical force. Though not without confusion and controversy, the term is gaining currency as it emphasizes the increasing untenability of distinctions between the human and the natural. If such distinctions are untenable, what consequences are there for our understanding of religion? This talk will offer an approach to religion in the context of the Anthropocene, first by critically examining the heritage of monotheistic thought with regard to the relation between humans and the nonhuman world, and then by suggesting an immanent and materialist understanding of both divinity and religious practice. Led by Dr. Michael Norton, University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Friday, September 14th, 2018

Antonio Damasio and the Implications of Neuroscience for Developing a Philosophy of Life Today

Antonio Damasio explains recent discoveries in Neuroscience, especially the integration of mind and brain. Dr. Beck explains Damasio’s view of the goal of life as “homeostasis,” or human flourishing. She then explains Aristotle’s notion of eudaimonia and the way Greek culture cultivated it. Led by Dr. Martha Beck of Lyon College.

Friday, September 7th, 2018

Nosewise Dogs and Perceptual ‘Smell-how’ in Human-Canine Dyads

 It is no secret that dogs have a much richer olfactory picture of the world than humans, but little is known about the mechanisms subtending this skill. There is also not much by way of philosophical discussions of olfaction generally, whether in humans or in other species. In this paper, I show why this lacuna is an unexplored treasure trove for philosophy of cognitive science, particularly when it comes to debates concerning mental and perceptual content. I argue that current enactivist conceptions of cognition – those that are radically anti-representational in nature – are the best fit for explaining how dogs ‘see’ the world through their noses. This perceptual capacity is a sort of know-how whereby dogs are not representing the world internally, but instead, when they interact with the environment, they are constituting information-for action. Smells, in other words, are natural signs for how best to engage with the world. While humans have largely ignored olfactory input as a source of ‘smell-how,’ they are not entirely ‘smell-deaf’, and the enactivist account of cognition is further strengthened by examining how smelling, like other skills, can be improved with practice. Even more compelling is when humans and dogs are paired together for smelling-specific tasks, such as bomb or human remains detection. In the final parts of this paper, I examine how these human-canine dyads suggest ways in which interspecific relationships can afford even more perceptual know-how for each member of the dyad, all without appealing to an overtly representational or cognitivist framework. - Dr. Michele Merritt, of Arkansas State University. Dr. Merritt will be leading the discussion.

Friday, August 31st, 2018

Virtuous Conversations

What makes a good conversation possible? What are some virtues of good conversations? Open-mindedness? Empathy? Charity? What are some vices? Closed-mindedness? Lack of listening? We will discuss the values that structure virtuous conversations. Led by Dr. James Dow

Friday, April 20th, 2018

The Steel Center & the Raney Building: How They Shaped My Life

Help kick off Alumni Weekend & join Hendrix Alumni – Amanda Baugh ’04, Emily Austin ’00 and Dr. Jay McDaniel for a heart-felt and rousing discussion.

Friday, April 13th, 2018

The Balancing Act of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing's Benefits & Detriments in Arkansas 

Join two Hendrix students, Krishna Patel, and Maggie Young in a discussion of the current scientific research and ethics surrounding the positives and negatives of the HVHF energy industry. All are welcome.

Friday, April 6th, 2018

Interfaith Explorations: Texts on Encountering God

A student led discussion, facilitated by Dr. Jay McDaniel. Everyone is welcome to participate as we explore various texts. No expertise required, just a willingness to read, respond and discuss.

Friday, March 30th, 2018

Religion, Gender & Sexuality: A Conversation

Engage in a conversation regarding religion, gender and sexuality. Led and facilitated by Dr. Harris. This is Dr. Harris first Friday Afternoon Discussion of the semester. Join us for a refreshing discussion!

Friday, March 9th, 2018

Interfaith Explorations: Texts on Abraham's Journey

Abraham’s Journey is a key idea in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.  Join us for an interfaith scripture expiration, led by Rachel Shepherd, Brittany Chue, Mac Nadurak, and Dr. Jane Harris, in which participants freely respond to texts on the Journey from these traditions, with agreements and disagreements – plus confusions – heartily encouraged.

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

Japanese Tea Ceremony & Zen Meditation

Friday 3:30-4:30 in the RaPC. Relax from stress with a Japanese Tea Ceremony capped with a brief introduction to Zen Buddhist Meditation. Aya Murata, Japan Outreach Initiative Coordinator, will lead the activities with Dr. Jay McDaniel facilitating.

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

Featuring: Dr. Miraslov Volf of Yale Divinity School

Miroslav Volf is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School and the Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture.  He was educated in his native Croatia, the United States, and Germany, earning doctoral and post-doctoral degrees (with highest honors) from the University of Tübingen, Germany. He has written or edited more than 20 books and over 90 scholarly articles. His most significant books include Exclusion and Embrace (1996), winner of the Grawemeyer Award in Religion, and one of Christianity Today’s 100 most important religious books of the 20th century; After Our Likeness (1998), in which he explores the Trinitarian nature of ecclesial community; Allah: A Christian Response (2011), on whether Muslims and Christians have a common God; and A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good (2011).  His most recent books are Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World and Public Faith in Action: How to Think Carefully, Engage Wisely, and Vote with Integrity (co-authored with Ryan McAnnally-Linz).


Friday, February 16th, 2018

Hermeneutic Conversations Across Divides

Following Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics, what constitutes the situation of a conversation with someone who may hold very different views? To what extent can the other be understood? What are the various possible outcomes of such  conversation? Join us as Dr. Lawrence Schmidt leads the discussion.

Friday, February 9th, 2018

The Role of Buddhism in My Art

Join us as Professor Melissa Gill presents her artistic research in printmaking and discusses how her Buddhist practice and the act of ritual informs her choice of image and her working process.

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

Interfaith Explorations: Texts on Hospitality to the Stranger

People from different faiths and no faith read texts from the Qur'an, Torah, and New Testament. No expertise required, just a willingness to read and respond and discuss. Come and enjoy the conversation that is student led and facilitated by Dr. Jay McDaniel. 

Friday, December 1st, 2017

Reading Like Your Life Depends On It

On the day after the 2016 election, Dr. Marjorie Swann joined Literacy Action of Central Arkansas as a volunteer tutor. Since then, she has worked with adults in Conway who seek to improve their ability to read, write, and speak English. In the process, Dr. Swann has found her world-view challenged along with her teaching skills. Dr.Swann's account of her experience as a literacy tutor should provide a starting point for a wide-ranging discussion about education, community, service, and inclusiveness. 

Friday, November 10th, 2017

“Joy”: An Exploration of Happiness at Hendrix College and Beyond

Leading the discussion: Tristan Norman ’20 and Jacie Andrew ‘20. ‘Joy’ is a documentary committed to exploring joy and happiness in a multi-disciplinary dialogue. Based on our TEC – Art & Spirit curriculum, we seek to understand the importance of stories, spirituality and narratives in living a life of depth.

Friday, November 3rd, 2017 

Multi-Cultural Musicking

Come enjoy Hendrix students singing East Asian Pop Songs in Chinese, Korean and Japanese. It’s engaged citizenship as participatory music-making. You can sing along too. Sponsored by: Krebs-McDaniel TEC Class, Steel Center, Greater Arkansas Interfaith Network, Asian Studies.

Friday, October 27th, 2017 

Muslims in America: Their Civil Rights and Local Contexts

A discussion on the rights and contexts of Muslims in America with Veronica Laizure, Hendrix Graduate and Civil Rights Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relation (CAIR), Oklahoma Chapter.

Friday, October 6th, 2017 

My Life in Popular Music: The Spiritual Side

Ann Powers, music critic for NPR and author of A History of Popular Music in America, will lead a discussion of the spiritual side of popular music. Her book, Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black & White, Body and Soul in American Music will be available for purchase and a book signing will follow the discussion. Families are welcome!

Friday,September 29th, 2017

A Better Discourse (Epistemological Improvements in Politics & Beyond)

What does it mean to argue “in good – faith”? How should we understand people we disagree with politically? Having a better political discourse requires better understanding the arguments made and using our understanding to make better arguments. Discussion will be led by Ryan McGregor ‘18.


Friday, September 22nd, 2017

The Beloved Community: A Dialogue on Just Peace Making and Becoming Change

A dialogue on Just peace making, non-violent activism, and the qualities of a change agent. These dialogues offer a mulita-dimensional perspective on what it means to be peaceful and what we can do to be agents of change in our communities. This discussion is in conjunction with Arkansas Peace Week and the Hendrix Peace Vigil and Dedication. Discussion and activities led by Tristan Norman ’20, Facilitated by Dr. Jay McDaniel and Dr. Deborah Skok.

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

No Crystal Stair: Becoming a Black Woman Biblical Scholar

Guest speaker – Dr. Nyasha Junior, author and Biblical Scholar Dr. Junior will discuss her intellectual journey and the challenges along the way. Open to the public. Tea and coffee will be provided.


Friday,September 15th, 2017

Japanese Tea Ceremony & Zen Meditation

Relax from stress with a Japanese Tea Ceremony capped with a brief introduction to Zen Buddhist Meditation. Aya Murata, Japan Outreach Initiative Coordinator, will lead the activities with Dr. Jay McDaniel facilitating.

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Spain at War: History & the Arts

The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) is one of the most significant world events of the twentieth century, even in the United States. Studying it and the art that came of it also becomes a means to reflect on engaged citizenship. “Spain at War: History & the Arts” aims to familiarize students with the war and to foster such reflections. We can discuss the resonance this event has even now a-days, as well as the artistic production that was generated during and after the war in the form of posters, paintings, music, literature, etc. Professor Gabby Vidal-Torreira & Professor Alex Vernon leading the discussion.

Friday, September 1st, 2017                       

Disaster Relief & How Our Society Responds                                                                 

We will engage in a community conversation about the way our society responds when faced with a disaster and disaster relief efforts. This discussion will be informal and a bit outside the norm from our typical discussion format as we intend to all participate, even if that means just listening, without the regular presentation of a formal topic. J.J. Whitney, Chaplain, and Jim Wiltgen, Dean of Students, will facilitate the conversation. Everyone is welcome! Snacks and drinks will be provided.

April 21, 2017                                                                                                                                                    My Life at Hendrix College Led by Dr. Alice Hines                                                                                                When we think of renaissance women, we think of Dr. Alice Hines. Come hear her share aspects of her life and vision, learning with her and from her. She is known in and beyond Hendrix College as a devoted teacher of literature and writing, who has enriched many, many lives; an unflinching servant of the common good, inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s idea of beloved (inclusive) community; a tireless advocate of the role of the Humanities in public and private life; a loyal citizen of Menifee,Arkansas, and its locale in Faulkner County, Arkansas; and a woman of strong and sincere faith,inspired by the power of the One in whose presence she lives and moves and has her being, to whom she is accountable, and by whom she is loved. This faith expresses itself in public service: the very kind of engaged citizenship Hendrix College so honors. Dr. Hines has served as president of the board of directors of the Arkansas Humanities Council, secretary of the Menifee Planning Commission and as a member of the board of directors of the Women's Shelter of Central Arkansas,of the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, of the board of the Conway Housing Authority Family Self-Sufficiency Program, of the governing board of the Conway County Hospital,and the board of the Faulkner County Day School. Yes, she is a renaissance woman.

April 14, 2017                                                                                                                                                Dionysian Sensations: Tragic Art in Nietzsche and Francis Bacon                                                                     What was the impetus for the flourish of creativity that the Greek people  experienced in the Attic Period? This talk discusses the aesthetic powers that the philosopher, Frederick Nietzsche, discovered in his book The Book of Tragedy and locates its repetition in the figurative art of Francis Bacon.

March 31, 2017                                                                                                                                               Southern Living: In the Life of a Jewish Student Led by the Hillel Group                                                  Growing up Jewish in the Bible Belt is a unique experience. Hendrix Hillel will discuss their own personal experiences and how they continue to find their faith in a predominately Christian culture

March 10, 2017

Meditation in S.Korea Led by Pearl Jangiiruat & Lena Pham

Explore aspects of Buddhism, meditation, and Korean culture with Pearl Jangjiravat ’17 and Lena Pham ’18 as they talk about their recent Odyssey project in South Korea. They traveled to four cities, and experienced two different forms of meditation and temple lifestyles. Join them for a presentation and discussion about their experience. Afterwards they will lead a short meditation session based on the techniques they learned.

March 3, 2017

Moral Politics Led by John Sanders

Brief description (to be used in creating posters, other announcements and the submission to Hendrix Today): Some analysts scratch their heads when they see people voting against their economic interests. What is often ignored is that such people vote for their moral interests. This presentation examines how our political language resonates with particular moral visions. For instance, thinking of health care as a commodity entails a very different value than thinking of it as a freedom.

Sophia Said

February 24, 2017

Women in Islam Led by Sophia Said 

Women play a prominent role in the ongoing history of Islam, sometimes unnoticed and sometimes stereotyped. At times in this history they have been victimized and at times valorized, sometimes at the same time. Today the situation is changing as Muslim women claim their agency, interpreting Islam itself in ways that are both traditional and prophetic, all the while drawing upon the depths of Islamic spirituality. Sophia Said, a multi-faith leader in Little Rock with degrees in economics and social policy, and with a deep interest in Islamic spirituality as a recourse for Muslims and the world, will speak to these issues. An informal and open discussion will follow Mrs. Said’s presentation and light snacks will be served.

February 3, 2017

Museums as Social Justice Led by Olivia Ensley

How do museums approach, understand, and communicate history and culture? How does the architecture and layout of D.C. communicate a national narrative? What do we include in this "national narrative" and why did it take 100 years to create the National Museum of African American History and Culture? Come listen to Olivia Ensley '17 talk about her experience visiting the museum, the symbolism embedded in the museum, and how she relates it to a broader narrative of social justice.

January 27, 2017

K-Pop: The Good... The Bad... And the Debatable Led by Tarek Esaw and Lexus Taylor

We will be delving into the global music phenomenon that is Korean Pop music. From the history to the controversy, we invite you to join us as we discuss these and its overall impact on its fans and the world.


December 2, 2016

How is Environmental Disobedience Morally Justified? Led by Dr. James M. Dow

On the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, water protectors have engaged in environmental disobedient actions to attempt to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline from crossing beneath the Missouri river. How are such actions morally justified? The moral justifications of such actions could be in terms of the consequences, could be in terms of the intentions, or could be in terms of virtues. However, cultivating empathy for the point of view of the person thinking through the ends of environmental justice— concern for the air, the water, the land, etc.— is often difficult. Dr. James M. Dow, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and the Philosophy Department Seniors will discuss the environmental ethical arguments justifying environmental disobedience. 

November 11, 2016 

Shaping the Group Mind Led by Dr. Deborah Tollefsen, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, University of Memphis and facilitated by Dr. James M. Dow.

In the social sciences and in everyday speech we often talk about groups as if   they were agents, thinking and acting as a singular being. We say, for example, that "Google intends to develop an automated car," that "the US government believes that Syria has used chemical weapons on its own people," or that "the NRA wants to protect the rights of gun owners."  We also often ascribe legal and moral responsibility to groups. What are we to make of this practice?  Are groups literally intentional agents capable of acting in the world and being held responsible for those actions?  In this talk I argue that our practice of treating groups as agents is simply an extension of our practice of treating individual human beings as agents. just as folk psychology allows us to shape human minds and makes them more predictable, so too, our practice of attributing beliefs, intentions, and responsibility to groups helps to shape groups and makes group action more predictable. – Dr. Deborah Tollefsen 

November 4, 2016 

The Definite, Non-negotiable, Best Ten Albums of All Time Led by Dr. Ablondi

I will talk about 10 rock albums that come as close to perfect as I think possible. In the discussion that follows, I hope those in attendance will point out my glaring omissions, but also that we can talk about the aesthetic criteria for judging the greatness of a recording, as opposed to it being a personal favorite. – Dr. Fred Ablondi. It promises to be a fun hour of musical debate. 

October 28, 2016 

"How I've Been Thinking About the Election" Led by Jane Harris and Kim Maslin

What’s happening this election season? How important is religion? How important is politics?  How, if at all, can they be separated? How we answer these questions will be influenced by the academic disciplines we bring to the discussion. Jane Harris (Religious Studies) and Kim Maslin (Politics) will help guide us in our thinking by sharing their own perspectives on “what’s happening.”  

October 27, 2016 

Convo with P-Safe Led by Direcotr LeBlanc and Facilitated by Miranda Donakey ‘18

Take this opportunity to get to know the new director of Public Safety, Mike LeBlanc! Director LeBlanc has a passion for the community and safety of Hendrix College and wants to share that passion during an informal, interdisciplinary discussion! It’s a good time to hear      what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to keeping our campus safe and enjoy an open discussion. 

October 21, 2016 

Let's Compare Origin Stories Led by Dr. Robert Williamson

While it is common to talk about “the biblical creation story,” in fact there are multiple creation stories in the Bible. This talk will compare three of them (Genesis 1, Genesis 2, and Psalm 104), discussing what each may contribute to our understanding of the nature of humankind and our place in the world. 
Williamson FAD

September 30, 2016 

Theology in the Flesh Led by John Sanders

John Sanders’ Theology in the Flesh (August 2016, Fortress Press) breaks new ground for a contemporary generation. It shows how concepts important in Christian theology – God, truth, sin, salvation, and community, for example – do not drop from heaven but instead emerge from our bodily interactions with the world, as rendered into metaphors which guide thought, feeling, and action. Our minds are “embodied,” John explains, drawing insights from neurobiology, cognitive psychology, and cognitive linguistics. For those affixed to overly literal approaches to life, the book comes as a challenge; for those seeking a more flexible humble approach to Christian life, open to diversity and dialogue, the book comes as breath of very fresh air. Please join us for a reception in appreciation of John’s book and his work in the world. 
theology in the flesh

September 23, 2016

The Hermeneutics of a Scientific Fact Led by Dr. Lawrence Schmidt

How objective are scientific facts? There seems to be a good amount of interpretation and coming to agreement (i.e. hermeneutic aspects) involved in establishing scientific facts. How does this impact scientific knowledge? 
Lawrence Schmidt- Hermeneutics


September 16, 2016 

Civil Engagement in Communities of Discord: Obama’s Vision Led by Dr. Falls Corbitt 

In his 2016 State of the Union Address, President Obama sets forth a vision of how we should engage one another across political, ideological, and social divides. 
After showing a short clip from that speech, Dr. Falls-Corbitt will lead a discussion examining the model for civil but passionate civic engagement with which Obama challenges us.

September 9, 2016

Welcome! (to RaPC – Religion and Philosophy Commons)

Meet the Religion and Philosophy Commons (RaPC). It’s a home away from home where conversations erupt at the drop of a liberal arts idea, students study, imaginations are stirred, and the coffee is always free. We’re having an Introduction to the new location on September 9, featuring live music (by international students), a brief discussion of this year’s theme for Friday Afternoon Discussions – “Conversations in the Liberal Arts: Dialogue Across Differences” and food…don’t forget the food. Everyone is welcome! Come enjoy from 3:30 to 4:30. It’s a fandango! 

April 22, 2016

(Religious?) Themes in the Poetry of Franz Wright Led by Dr. Fred Ablondi

Following a brief biography of the poet Franz Wright, the rest of the hour will be dedicated to a discussion of possible interpretations that those in attendance have of several of his poems (to be provided—no advance familiarity required!) from his Pulitzer-Prize winning collection Walking to Martha’s Vineyard. In particular, we will talk about the degree to which the poems we consider could be read as religious or spiritual in nature.

April 8, 2016

Moral accounting in Matthew: How metaphor guides reasoning in religion Led by guest speaker Dr. Eve Sweetser Professor of Linguistics University of California – Berkeley; Hosted by Dr. John Sanders

One way that many languages think of morality is in terms of accounting… If you do something good for me then I owe you in return. The Gospel of Matthew makes extensive use of this metaphor yet contains some intriguing twists on it that are counter cultural.


April 1, 2016

Empathy and Morality Presented by Dr. James Dow and the Teaching Empathy Group

Is empathy sufficient for morality? Think of empathy as feeling emotions that someone else feels, taking another person’s point of view, and yet maintaining a differentiation between another person and oneself. While empathy might seem to be enough to have compassion towards others, having empathy doesn’t seem to be enough for moral motivation. An empathetic torturer might have empathy and nevertheless use it to increase the pain and suffering of another person. Is empathy necessary for morality? We make moral judgments about things that do not seem to have emotions, for instance natural environments, nations, and our future selves. And we rely on other moral sentiments, for instance, anger, disgust, shame, and which are not based on empathy to make moral judgments. While psychopaths’ lack of empathy seems to account for a lack of moral development, they also seem to lack the moral sentiments generally. While some argue that there is strong positive correlation between empathy and pro-social motivations, either empathy is defined as empathic concern and so the finding is trivial or if it is defined as feeling anothers’ feelings, then the correlation is not as robust. So, should moral systems that promote empathy be encouraged? If empathy on occasion leads to preferential treatment, is prone to in-group biases, can be easily manipulated, and is highly selective, then maybe we should regard the cultivating of empathy with caution.

March 11, 2016

For Freedom and for Dignity - Women Biblical Interpreters Presented by Carol Newsom, Hosted by Dr. Robert Williamson

Few people today know the names of Isotta Nogarola, Moderata Fonte, Archangela Tarabotti, and Amelia Lanyer, but in the 15th and 16th centuries they were among the first women to write books in defense of the equal dignity of women and to argue for their freedom to determine their own lives. Given the importance of the Bible in European culture, they often made their arguments through fascinating reinterpretations of the figures of Eve and Adam. Rediscovering their lives and their ways of interpreting the biblical narratives opens up a forgotten chapter both in biblical interpretation and in the history of women's struggles for freedom and respect. - Dr. Carol Newsom of Emory

March 4, 2016

A Modern Pilgrimage on Meditative Practices: A Reflection on our Odyssey Trip to the United Kingdom & Taizé, France Presented by Melissa Rooney and Liz Forester

During the summer of 2015, Melissa and Liz traveled to Lindisfarne, United Kingdom and Taize, France to explore different Christian meditative practices associated with the Celtic tradition and Taize community. We participated in weeklong retreats at both places, meeting and learning from people from all over the world.
FAD March 4 2016

February 26, 2016

Why We Need Monsters Presented by Dr. Bill Tsutsui

“If there is one thing that Godzilla teaches us…it is how much we all need monsters. We need them for the joy of being frightened, for that thrilling rush of adrenaline that only a creature can bring…… Monsters in other words let us truly live and let us understand what it is to be human. We should not become too cynical, too wise, too mature, too sophisticated for monsters. They are companions we all can use in navigating the complexities and uncertainties of life and a world in constant flux.” Dr. Bill Tsutsui

February 19, 2016

Lamentations & Black Lives Matter Presented by Dr. Robert Williamson

In Ferguson, Baltimore, and elsewhere, Black Lives Matter protestors met with criticism for expressing anger over the devaluation of Black life in America. In particular, some Christians appealed to the biblical principles of love and forgiveness in order to silence the anger of the protestors. This talk will explore the book of Lamentations as an alternative biblical model for communities facing violence and dehumanization—one which centers anger and protest as a faithful and necessary response.

February 12, 2016

Music as Resistance; Facilitated by Dr. Jay McDaniel and Led by Tonya Hale – LGBTQ Indie and Ty Glanville – Hip Hop

Ethnomusicologists understand some forms of popular music as forms of resistance to conventional norms and repressive conditions. With help from Ty Glanville, Tonya Hale, and James Dow we will be reflecting on ways in which hip-hop, punk, and indie oriented LGBTQ musics do this with regard to race, class, and gender. Come join the discussion and share your impressions. Open to all.

February 5, 2016

Moving Toward Effective Allyship in Social Justice Work Presented by Dr. Leslie Zorwick

Many communities want to become more open and inclusive, while privileged individuals sometimes struggle with the roles they can and should play in the work of inclusion. So, what does it mean to be an ally? How can we become better listeners to perspectives other than our own? And, what role should we all play in addressing intolerance?

January 29, 2016

What is Ecotheology? Presented by Dr. Jay McDaniel

How can religious people serve the common good of the world? How can they help build communities that are creative, compassionate, ecologically wise, and spiritually satisfying, with no one left behind? How can their spirituality nourished, not simply by great ideas enunciated in books, but by the palpable presence of rocks and trees, hills and rivers, animals and stars? These are the concerns of eco-theologians around the world of different religious persuasions: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist. This Friday Afternoon Discussion provides an opportunity to learn about eco-theology and discuss it among peers.

December 4, 2015

Contextual Bible Study...Little Rock Presented by Dr. Robert Williamson and Contextual Bible Study Student Group

This summer, a group of students travelled to South Africa to learn about contextual Bible study: a Bible-reading methodology that facilitates discussion and ownership of the texts. The students then took this method of study to Mercy Church, a church for those experiencing homelessness in Little Rock. Join them Friday as they reflect on their time at Mercy Church and the influence contextual Bible study has had on community consciousness.

November 13, 2015

Interfaith Dialogue and Fostering of Religious Community at Hendrix Presented by Latanya Lane, Hosted by Desh Depak and J.J. Whitney

LaTanya Lane is a graduate of Chicago Theological Seminary, she works as the Mission Delivery Associate for IFYC - Interfaith Youth Core. Ms. Lane has years of community organizing experience on Chicago’s South Side, supporting communities from different religious and non-religious backgrounds as they came together to improve their neighborhoods. She uses her experience as a community organizer, along with her involvement with non-profits, in her work at IFYC. Ms. Lane builds collaborative relationships between IFYC campus partners and engages these partners in meaningful conversations about the ways they are working to make interfaith cooperation a social norm on their campuses. During the discussion LaTanya Lane will talk about fostering climate religious acceptance and expression of religious identity.

November 6, 2015

The Galactic Citizen Presented by Dr. Lars Seme and Dr. Gabby Vidal-Torreira

Using science fiction novels, short stories and television episodes to explore issues affecting humanity - and even what it means to be human. How does the advancement of technology affect who we are? How can we determine what is and is not plausible scientific advancement? How does a writer whose characters are pointed-eared aliens use space battles and lasers to tell a story about racism? What literary and cinematographic techniques do authors use to write Sci-Fi? Join us Friday with Professor Lars Seme and Professor Gabby Vidal-Torreira who teach this Engaged Citizen course.

October 30, 2015

A God Beyond Being? Presented by Dr. John Sanders and Dr. Fred Ablondi

If God is the greatest possible thing, does it mean that God is greater than, or beyond, Being? If so, is there anything we can say about God? If not, does that mean Being is superior to God? If God is not beyond Being does this imply that God is limited (like creatures)? Drs. Sanders and Ablondi will discuss why some philosophers and theologians have placed God ‘beyond being,’ as well as some of the objections to making this move. 

October 23, 2015

Community and Anarchy: A Discussion on Utopia Presented by Laela Zaidi and David Tate

A discussion of our visit to Twin Oaks, an intentional egalitarian community in rural Virginia. -Egalitarian communities are planned residential cooperatives that embrace radical feminism,common ownership of property, and environmental stewardship. Join Laela Zaidi and David Tate for a discussion over their summer living as members of Twin Oaks community in Louisa, Virginia. Laela and David will briefly share some information about the ways in which members of Twin Oaks approach gender, government, education, cultural identity and sustainability, but most of the hour will be devoted to Q+A. Come with questions!

October 9, 2015

Religion, Nation, & Violence - Asia; Presented by Dr. Bill Gorvine and Dr. Michael Sprunger

Suicidal monks? Christian assassins? Patriots? Traitors? Using examples from recent Tibetan and Korean history, this course examines the relationship between identity (how we identify ourselves and are identified by others) and various forms of political and social action. It encourages students to consider what it means to be part of religious, national, ethnic, and other types of communities, how such communities form and change over time, and what actions are appropriate and justifiable in their names.

October 2, 2015

Is Faith an Intellectual Virtue? Presented by Dr. James Dow

Is the holding of beliefs based on religious faith consistent with being an intellectually virtuous thinker? Does being an intellectually virtuous thinker require aiming at justified true beliefs grounded in public evidence? Is faith based on private evidence or public evidence? Suppose intellectual virtue is a personal-level excellence of intellect. Is believing on faith a reliable belief-forming route, for instance like logical deduction, perception, or the scientific method? Is believing on faith responsible believing, namely is it conscientious believing or careful believing? If faith is a practical commitment that is independent of belief or evidence, then is it unrelated to the cultivation of intellectual virtues? Is there a distinction between intellectual virtue and practical virtue such that one may hope or act on a hope based on faith?

September 25, 2015

Art & Spirit Presented by Dr. Jay McDaniel and Dr. Danny Grace

“How might listening to jazz help a person’s soul grow bigger and enrich her capacities to heal a broken world? Ask the participants in Art and Spirit, an Engaged Citizen course. The class focuses on how the creative and performing arts can enhance a person’s capacities for open-mindedness and open-heartedness, thereby becoming a fatter soul; and motivate him or her to build communities that are socially just and ecologically sustainable, with no one left behind. Come to the Friday Afternoon Discussion, meet the two people who teach the course, Danny Grace and Jay McDaniel. Listen to a little John Coltrane and take “the spirituality quiz.” Don’t worry; you’ll do fine.” - Dr. Jay McDaniel

September 18, 2015

Collective Self-Awareness: Can we be aware of us? Presented by Dr. James Dow

Dr. James Dow has just returned from the Collective Self Awareness conference in Vienna, Austria. He will pose the question: Is there such a thing as collective self-awareness? The discussion will include questions from the conference, as well. Such as - Do insights and theories about 1st person singular self-awareness straightforwardly translate to the 1st person plural, or does the 1st person plural need to be treated in an essentially different way? Are there 1st person plural non-conceptual, pre-reflective forms of self-awareness as has been suggested for the singular case? Do we need different accounts of self-awareness for different groups, or can a uniform account be given? What is the nature of the collective selves that we are aware of?

September 4, 2015

Contextual Bible Study: South Africa...the Beginning Presented by Dr. Robert Williamson and Contextual Bible Study Student Group