Profound Professors: Dr. John Meadors

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Every morning Dr. John Meadors greets his 8 am Philosophy 314 class with the sweetest words a college student can hear: "Does anyone want coffee?" After all have been properly caffeinated, Dr. Meadors and his pupils may discuss the  "Five Ways" of Thomas Aquinas, the principles of humanism, or the political theory of Thomas Hobbes.  For Dr. Meadors, engaging in "the great conversation" of philosophy is key to living a fulfilling life. "Students should study philosophy because the world is a many-splendored thing, a beautiful gift from God in its dizzying variety and scope.  A careful study of philosophy renders the world more richly hued and more sharply focused," he explains. 

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Despite his love of teaching philosophy to students, Dr. Meadors didn't always plan on being a professor. In his undergraduate, he studied English Literature, and after graduation, he spent two years teaching English as a second language under the auspices of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Meadors describes the experience as "wonderfully rich."

             "Antique Map of Africa," courtesy of The Kroll  Company 

             "Antique Map of Africa," courtesy of The Kroll  Company 

When searching for a way to explain the effects living in Africa had on his life, Dr. Meadors turns to words of Augustine. He muses, "Saint Augustine is quoted as having said, 'The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.'  Not only am I certain Augustine is right, I would supplement his insight by suggesting that travel feeds our appetite to learn."

Living abroad in Africa made me want to understand my Christian faith more fully at a foundational level. Philosophy of religion was the obvious discipline through which to pursue that end. Sometimes things that are obvious to other people are not so obvious to me: I’ve got questions. What an incredible luxury to pursue answers to difficult and perplexing questions through a course of study with devout people.
                Saint Augustine of Hippo, courtesy of DioSCG  

                Saint Augustine of Hippo, courtesy of DioSCG  

This lead Dr. Meadors to pursue a PhD at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  However even then, teaching philosophy at a small Christian college in Mississippi was not what Dr. Meadors saw himself doing. In 1990, Dr. Meadors was finishing his PhD and planning enter the mission field with his wife, Susan. However, after learning about an opening at MC and speaking with a trusted professor, Dr. Meadors realized that he "really wanted to do was to teach philosophy to undergraduate students at Mississippi College."

 Provine, the home of the Christian Studies and Philosophy Department

 Provine, the home of the Christian Studies and Philosophy Department

Flash forward twenty-six years, and Dr. Meadors is doing exactly that. Mississippi College has proved to be a home to him, and when asked why students should study at MC, he claims the answer is quite simple: "The people I know well at MC are among the kindest and most generous people I’ve ever known.  Most of my best friends, people I really admire, are members of the MC community.  There are good people here." Dr. Meadors is one of those "good people" at MC.  He genuinely cares for his students.  When asked what he wanted his legacy to be he mused: 

I would be thrilled if students left my classes thinking of their life as a poem, as opposed to a resume, a curriculum vita, or a paycheck. Do they know I see rhyme and meter in their person, something really significant and mysterious unfolding? I do hope so. So much majesty at hand all the time, but we hardly notice.

Dr. Meadors encourages his students to focus on studying  "the good, the beautiful, and the true."  After college, there will be plenty of time "to entertain the useful, the adequate, and the conventional." Despite the wisdom that permeates Dr. Meadors speech, he maintains that he and other "profound professors" are "just folks." Regardless, Dr. Meadors influences his students and Mississippi College profoundly one cup of coffee and philosophical discussion at a time.

To learn more about the Christian Studies and Philosophy department and the profound professors who work there, visit their website

 

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