The Daryl D. Schmidt Lectureship speaks on religion in public life


The Daryl D. Schmidt Lectureship on Religion in Public Life on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023 in the Brown-Lupton University Union Ballroom. (Sydney Brunson/Staff Writer.)

By Sydney Brunson

TCU welcomed guest speakers, Dr. Cornel West and Dr. Robert P. George to speak about the truth-seeking mission of universities as well as the importance of seeking truth in oneself and the world.

This lectureship series was in honor of Daryl D. Schmidt who died in 2006 after serving as a faculty member and chair of the Texas Christian University Religion Department. Schmidt believed religious values were important in the public sphere and he believed that all scholars had the ability to make a difference in society.

The lectureship took place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16 in the Brown-Lupton University Union Ballroom.

The sign outside of the Brown-Lupton University Union Ballroom on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023. (Sydney Brunson/Staff Writer.)

Many liberal arts students were in attendance as this lectureship was highlighting the primary mission of the Religion Department in the AddRan College of Liberal Arts. The mission is to have listeners think deeper about important and complex issues as well as utilize different perspectives.

Dr. West holds the title of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Chair at Union Theological Seminary and teaches courses on a variety of subjects including philosophy and cultural theory. His goal is to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and he believes in speaking the truth as well as striving for social justice.

Dr. George is the Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University as well as the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence. He has 22 honorary doctorates and strives to have honest conversations about all issues in the pursuit of truth.

Dr. West and Dr. George may have different backgrounds and political beliefs, but they consider each other family, having the same mission for seeking truth above all things.

“It is better to be a person living in truth than to have status and wealth and power, living in falsehood, in error.” George said. “It’s the intrinsic enrichment of truth which begins with the process of seeking truth itself.”

Dr. West and Dr. George both believe that the quest for truth does not lie in climbing up the social structure because what fills one up spiritually is not always social status or power.

“I got a life task,” West said. “I got a mission. That’s not a brain. Brain is a market strategy. What kind of mask am I gonna wear? What kind of tactics will I use to negotiate such that I can move further up in the social structure? And you get up there with all those powers and money. And you’re still empty spiritually because so much of the culture is just a joyless quest for insatiable pleasures.”

Dr. George believes that the focus of young people needs to be adjusted away from things such as money, power and influence because those things are not good in themselves and are not what is ultimately good. Instead, he believes the focus should be on what is intrinsically good, “Like faith,” George said. “Like family. Like integrity. Like honor. Like truth.”

Dr. West believes that the quest for truth starts with oneself.

“For one is you got to believe in yourself,” West said. “You have to have confidence in yourself. You got to trust yourself enough that you can sustain your process in space and time. Fortitude.”

He adds that the search for truth is not limited to certain places or to certain people. He believes that the pursuit of truth can happen in the lowest of places or the highest. Anyone can search for truth, but one has to be willing to seek it and be self-critical of oneself.

Lectureship on religion in public life on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023 in the Brown-Lupton University Union Ballroom. (Sydney Brunson/Staff Writer.)

The fundamental purpose of universities is to seek for the truth and mold students into lifelong truth-seekers.

“We have to be all inclusive in our truth questing and the university is one crucial sight, but it’s a sight which itself needs to be willing to be truthful about itself,” West said. “Self-critical of itself. Just as we, before we speak the truth to power, we got to learn to speak the truth to ourselves. Because if all you’re doing is speaking truth to power, too often it’s just rhetorical gesture because we’re not willing to live or die and pay the consequences,” he said, adding that truth talk is significant talk.

Dr. George believes that it’s okay to aspire for good jobs and to make money, “But don’t let that obscure the education,” he said. “The truth-seeking mission to wrestle with the deep existential questions, to be unsettled by challenges to what you are thinking,” he said, adding that the challenging of oneself is the essence of principle.

Dr. George and Dr. West are engaging in these important conversations at universities because the pursuit of truth should be put above all.