Kevin Hoffman, PhD
Chair & Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religion
B.A., Valparaiso University; Ph.D., Fordham University
My introduction to philosophy explores fundamental ideas about justice and personal love—two topics we spend a great deal of time sorting through regardless of job or technical degree. In courses on religion, my approach is existential, treating questions of faith just as those who hold their beliefs actually do. In either case, what matters is that these things matter, since what we care about, and how we understand those concerns, determines how we live outside the classroom. No surprise, then, that my own scholarship devotes special attention to the Danish writer Søren Kierkegaard, who once said: “If we should believe nothing that we cannot see with our physical eyes, then we first and foremost ought to give up believing in love.” More surprising may be how students end up learning something about their own selves—for example, whether one truly, actually thinks playing a video game is more enjoyable than changing a diaper. At first blush, the answer seems obvious until you try to fit that answer into a coherent view of what is worthwhile in human life.
In addition to books and fountain pens, my other tools include a hammer, saw, drill, block plane, and sewing machine. These are handy for constructing a cool desk and chair, for example, to go with the books and pens.
Publications include The Divine Madness of Romantic Ideals, A Reader’s Guide for Kierkegaard’s Stages on Life’s Way, and Exceptionally Common Courage, Fear and Trembling and the Puzzle of Kierkegaard’s Authorship.
J. R. Hustwit, PhD
Dean, College of Arts, Humanities & Sciences; Professor of Religion & Philosophy
B.A., University of Texas; M.A., Ph.D., Claremont Graduate University
I am interested in the prospects and challenges of looking for truth in multiple religions. In 2014, I wrote Interreligious Hermeneutics and the Pursuit of Truth (Lexington Books), which explores the mind’s need to interpret everything it encounters, and how interpretation helps us understand and compare unfamiliar religions. I am also interested in process philosophy, which involves the claim that events and processes are more fundamentally real than substances. Currently, I am working on a book about the Buddhist concept of emptiness and its promise for cultivating ecological societies.
My goal in the classroom is to guide students past the instrumental goods of career and salaries to the final goods that give meaning and value to a life. As important as it is to get a stable job that pays well, it is the pursuit of truth, beauty, and justice that make working 9-to-5 worthwhile.
I teach courses in east and south Asian religions; monotheisms and violence; angels, demons, and jinn; mystical literature; and the feminine divine. I am honored to have been awarded Methodist University Exemplary Teacher Award in 2013 and to have been recognized as one of the Fayetteville Observer’s “Forty under 40” in 2015.
I am also an enthusiastic amateur when it comes to horology, cooking, gardening, wildlife observation, cephalopods, fiction reading, and parenting.
A more-or-less complete list of my publications can be found on Google Scholar.
Michael Potts, PhD
Professor of Philosophy
B.A., David Lipscomb College; M.Th., Harding University Graduate School of Religion; M.A., Vanderbilt University; Ph.D., University of Georgia
Michael Potts has taught philosophy at Methodist University since 1994. He is the author of Aerobics for the Mind: Practical Exercises in Philosophy that Anybody Can Do (Tullahoma, TN: WordCrafts Press, 2014) and has co-edited an anthology, Beyond Brain Death: The Case Against Brain Based Criteria for Human Death, (Dordrecht, Holland: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000). He has twenty-three articles in refereed scholarly journals, ten book chapters, seventeen encyclopedia articles, ten book reviews, and eleven letters, including one published in the New England Journal of Medicine. His most recent articles include the following:
Verheijde, Joseph L; Rady, Mohamad I.; Potts, Michael (2018). Reader response: An Interdisciplinary Response to Contemporary Concerns about Brain Death Determination. Neurology 91:11 (September 11):533-534.
Potts, Michael (2017). The Influence of Psi on Marcel’s Views on Intersubjectivity and on Religion. The Christian Parapsychologist New Series 1:17 (September):19-31.
Potts, Michael (2017). Olivier Messiaen on the Metaphoricity of Music. Sacred Music 14:1 (Spring):8-18.
He also has over sixty scholarly presentations, including an invited presentation at The Vatican in 2005. He has written three novels, End of Summer (2011), Unpardonable Sin (2014), and Obedience (2016), all published by WordCrafts Press. His poetry chapbook, From Field to Thicket, won the 2006 Mary Belle Campbell Poetry Book Award of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, and his creative nonfiction essay, “Haunted,” won the Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Contest the same year. He has also authored Hiding from the Reaper and Other Horror Poems. He enjoys reading, chess, creative writing, vegetable gardening, and canning. Potts, his wife, Karen, and their eight cats live in Coats, N.C.
Richard Walsh, PhD
Co-Director, Honors Program; Womack Professor of Religion & Philosophy
B.A., Baylor University; M.Div., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Ph.D., Baylor University
Richard Walsh is Professor of Religion and Co-director of the Honors Program. His primary scholarly areas include theories of interpretation, the Gospel of Mark, and reception criticism of the gospels. In addition to authoring various articles, his published books include Mapping the Myths of Biblical Interpretation, Reading the Gospels in the Dark, Finding St. Paul in Film, and Three Versions of Judas. He also co-wrote, with Jeffrey L. Staley, Jesus, the Gospels, and Cinematic Imagination: A Handbook. He is the editor of Screening Scripture (with George Aichele), Those Outside: Noncanonical Readings of Canonical Gospels (with George Aichele), Son of Man: An African Jesus Film (with Jeffrey L. Staley and Adele Reinhartz), and Borges and the Bible (with Jay Twomey). He is at work on a book on gospel horror and has been asked to edit a Bible and film handbook for Bloomsbury. Dr. Walsh was named Methodist University’s first Womack Endowed Professor of Religion and Philosophy in August 2017.
Undergraduate Teaching Areas
Biblical studies, Religion and Film, 20th Century Great Books
Criticism of the gospels, theory in biblical interpretation, Postmodernism in biblical interpretation, reception history of the Bible, myth, religion (and bible) and film
Grandchildren, tennis, reading, movies