Being a philosophy major at the University of Mobile gave me the tools necessary to fulfill a life-long calling in both ministry and in academia, for which I am forever grateful. And all of this started back in 2012.
In the summer of 2012, my brother was born with an unexpected diagnosis. The genetic disorder took my entire family by surprise, and as a sophomore in high school I began to ask big questions. I did not realize how the birth of my brother would affect my life until I was sitting in Dr. Telfair Mashburn’s Introduction to Philosophy course in the Fall of 2014. I had no idea that this required freshman course would change the course of my life.
Upon starting the class, I quickly changed my second major from English to Philosophy. I began a four-year journey filtering every class research assignment, reading, and paper through a philosophical lens. My undergraduate education exposed me to many important perspectives and thinkers that became crucial to my academic growth in the field of philosophy. I was confronted with questions about God, evil, suffering, faith, doubt, etc. that challenged me to engage on a spiritual and intellectual level in a way that I had not experienced before.
While writing a paper in my sophomore year, I discovered a disability studies perspective article. I became fascinated with finding a voice for those without a voice, particularly in the realm of philosophy of religion. I regularly began implementing a disability studies perspective into papers for many of my classes. The themed papers reached a climax when I set out to write my honors thesis highlighting the problem of evil from a disability studies perspective. My love of Philosophy was born and cultivated during my time at the University of Mobile.
Defining philosophy is a difficult task. One of my favorite definitions of philosophy is that it is the activity of working out the right way to think about things. Philosophy is what is left over when the empirical work is complete. What do the results of this work really mean? What can we know? This practice can and should be implemented not just in our time at a university, but in our everyday lives, because it encourages intellectual humility and integrity of thought.
In my job as a worship arts minister, I have the extraordinary privilege of leading and selecting sacred songs for my congregation as I seek to shepherd God’s people. In every aspect of my job in ministry, I must have integrity of thought in order to fulfill my role. I have to constantly challenge myself to think rightly about God, my role in ministry, the role of music in a liturgy, etc. These are just a few examples of how I daily practice philosophy even in music ministry.
Because of philosophy, I have resolved to spend my life bearing witness to the reality of a good God in a world with compelling reasons to question that goodness. I seek to do this through music ministry and also in furthering my education. As I am currently working toward a master’s degree in philosophy, science and religion through the University of Edinburgh online distance program, I am able to focus my studies toward giving my nonverbal brother a voice in future philosophical discussion and research at the University of Edinburgh.
And to think, all of this started back in Dr. Telfair Mashburn’s Introduction to Philosophy class.
I am forever thankful.