John Woolman | Christian Scholar Lecture Series | Thomas Hibbs

The 2019 John Woolman Lectures will feature Thomas Hibbs, Dean of the Honors College and Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Culture at Baylor University.  He will present on the two topics, friendship and suffering in contemporary culture. 


Tuesday, February 26

7:30 p.m. | Lecture One

On Friendship

Friendship, Aristotle wrote many centuries ago, is both useful and noble. But why? What is the role of friendship in our lives? Defending Aristotle’s basic understanding of friendship, this lecture considers objections from two modern critics: Kant and Kierkegaard. The lecture concludes with reflections on the role of friendship in contemporary American culture, where civic friendship is neglected when it is not vilified as a form of ideological disloyalty.

Johnson Center for Worship and the Fine Arts 
Room 106

WEdnesday, February 27

7:30 p.m. | Lecture Two 

Sickness unto Death: Suffering, Evil, and Contemporary Culture

In the opening of his Confessions, Augustine writes that human beings carry within themselves the “mark of their mortality.” Yet we expend tremendous effort avoiding the fact of our mortality. In contemporary culture, our aversion to thinking about death coincides both with a decline in public rituals for dealing with death and with an eroding vocabulary that enables us to speak not only about death but also evil and suffering. At the same time, we are immersed in the graphic images of violence and death. Drawing from films as well as from philosophical and literary texts, this lecture discerns a hunger for a richer treatment of these matters and points to stories that embody hopefulness in the face of loss.

Johnson Center for Worship & Fine Arts Room 106


Professor Hibbs has written books on film (Shows About Nothing and Arts of Darkness) and a book co-authored with the contemporary painter, Makoto Fujimura (Soliloquies: Rouault/Fujimura). He has also written three books on Thomas Aquinas: Dialectic and Narrative in Aquinas: An Interpretation of the Summa Contra Gentiles; Virtue's Splendor: Wisdom, Prudence, and the Human Good; and Aquinas, Ethics, and Philosophy of Religion: Metaphysics and Practice. His most recent book, Wagering on an Ironic God, is a reflection and interpretation of the French philosopher Blaise Pascal. Professor Hibbs has published more than 30 scholarly articles and is currently writing a book on nihilism, beauty, and God.

About the John Woolman Lecture Series

The Lecture Series is named for John Woolman (1720-1772), a Quaker from New Jersey who provided much of the theological, intellectual, and ethical foundation for the earliest anti-slavery activities in America. 

Drawing from traditional Christian, Quaker, evangelical, quietist, and rationalist sources, Woolman published works that encouraged others to rethink the Friends’ role in addressing a range of topics including slavery, working conditions, spiritual discipline, pacifism, the use of wealth, the use of time, and relationships with Native Americans. 

His antislavery writings and speaking campaigns throughout the colonies helped prompt the Friends to become the first body of Americans to actively denounce slavery and require all its members to free any person that they held in slavery. Providing some of the earliest inspiration for the major ethical shift in thinking about slavery, Woolman’s writings and actions influenced leaders in the early antislavery and abolitionist movements in America and Great Britain. Woolman Hall, a residence hall on Malone’s campus, is named in his honor. 

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