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Spring 2021 meetings of the Gonzaga Socratic Club will be held as possible in an online format due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions.

Mon Jan 25, 5:00-6:30 pm PST
David Wang, Emeritus Professor of Architecture, Washington State University
Philip Bess, Professor of Architecture, Notre Dame University

"Sacrament in Everyday Places"

When moral orders within us rhyme with the orderliness of the cosmos, the potential arises for sacramental experience. Until modern times, architecture has always served as the material nexus between the subjective "personal" realm and the enormous cosmos. This presentation argues for the incarnational bases for this kind of experience of architecture -- not so much in iconic places like Chartres Cathedral or the Great Wall of China, but in everyday places like cafeterias, or even traffic jams. Without cultivation of incarnational presence, architecture reduces to stage sets. And contemporary urban environments are a cacophony of stage sets. The presentation suggests five ways to retrieve sacramental presence in the architecture of everyday experience:

  1. submit to practices which have a history
  2. cultivate glow
  3. recover procession and arrival
  4. retain the old, which is often better
  5. replicate the journey to the New Jerusalem

For over 20 years Professor David Wang taught graduate courses in history and theory, interdisciplinary ethics and practice, research methods, and foundation courses in design and construction at Washington State University. Wang is the co-author of Architectural Research Methods (2002, second edition 2013, John Wiley & Sons, with Linda Groat) and has lectured on architectural research nationally as well as in China and Europe. He is also author of A Philosophy of Chinese Architecture Past, Present, Future (Routledge 2017), and the newly published book Architecture and Sacrament: A Critical Theory (Routledge 2020). Professor Wang has published on architectural theory and research methods in numerous journals.

Mon Mar 15, 4:30-6:00 pm PDT ONLINE Klyne Snodgrass, Emeritus Professor of New Testament, North Park Theological Seminary
Scott Starbuck, Lecturer,  Religious Studies, Gonzaga University / Teaching Elder, Manito Presbyterian Church (Spokane WA)

"Biblical Hermeneutics: More Important than God?"

One biblical scholar has suggested that hermeneutics is more important than God, because the hermeneutics by which we interpret the Bible determines what we believe about God. Hermeneutics—the process by which we understand and appropriate communication—determines life, is the presupposition of all interpretation and theology, is the cause of many of our disagreements, and is as complex as life itself. There is no more important or fascinating topic for Christians. While debates about biblical hermeneutics address a number of themes, I advocate a four-fold hermeneutic that provides insight for interpretation of Scripture and fruitful results for living: a hermeneutics of critical realism, a hermeneutics of action, a hermeneutics of hearing, and a hermeneutics of identity. A hermeneutics of critical realism concerns the reality of the text itself and the reality of the process of communication. A hermeneutics of action is a development from speech-act theory and recognizes that texts are the result of action and are intended to produce action. A hermeneutics of hearing emphasizes both the demand of Scripture to hear and gives attention to oneself as a hearer. A hermeneutics of identity focuses on the purpose of the text to tell us who we are and should become. Taken together, these four approaches allow us to clear away the cobwebs and read the text honestly and appropriate its message.

Mon Apr 26, 5:00-6:30 pm PDT ONLINE Duane Armitage, Philosophy, University of Scranton
Dan Bradley, Philosophy, Gonzaga University

"Violence and Victimization in Continental and Postmodern Philosophy and Politics"


A new book by Duane Armitage (Philosophy, Scranton), Philosophy's Violent Sacred: Heidegger and Nietzsche through Mimetic Theory (Michigan State University Press, 2021), criticizes the failure of Postmodernism to uncover the root cause of violence and victimization. For Postmodernism violence is caused by absolutism, essentialism, and rationality; in short, according to Postmodernism, absolute truth marginalizes. Further, the Postmodern critique of rationality is an offshoot and development of a critique of rationality central to Continental Philosophy. Armitage argues that the Continental / Postmodern diagnosis of violence and victimization is a failure, and thus that its prescription to address the problem fails as well. In contrast, Armitage offers a counter-explanation of violence and victimization drawn from the Mimetic Theory of Rene Girard. Girard argues that it is not truth, but group formation itself that is inherently violent and that such violence is essentially social and religious in nature.  Armitage will conclude with a brief discussion of modern political violence in the US as fitting the schema of mimetic theory.

Virtual Meeting conducted via Zoom
Meeting ID: 950 3537 7472; https://gonzaga.zoom.us/j/95035377472

Please note: No registration or password required for attendance. Participation in this meeting requires an authenticated Zoom account (one associated with a functioning email). You must log on to Zoom via an existing authenticated Zoom account or create a new account (go to https://zoom.us/signup and sign up for a free account if you do not have one)



For information about the Gonzaga Socratic Club or to propose topics or speakers for future meetings, contact the Club Director:

David Calhoun



©2004-2021 David H. Calhoun. Papers and presentation materials available on this site are used by permission of the authors. Site last updated April 23, 2021.