I was born in Cleveland, TN in 1977, but grew up in Brandon, FL. Both of my parents were professors, and so I grew up with a deep appreciation of critical thinking, asking hard questions, and was taught that truth, goodness, and beauty were well worth the time it takes to seek them. Oh, and also that trout fishing is pretty much the best thing you can do with your time on earth.
I spent most of my time in high school working construction and playing drums. I eventually went to college at Lee University with the intention to study physics. A semester in Europe transformed my orientation and my goals. I discovered that my real love was for culture and the historical conversation of humankind about meaning, value, and purpose. So, I ended up majoring in history. While in college I also became a professional session drummer and traveled widely playing music.
Upon graduating from college, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in academics because my dad (who was an art professor) fished like 100 days a year and I couldn’t imagine a better job than one that let you read, write, and fish.
There was only one serious option for graduate school: Florida State University. I had been an FSU football fan since I was a kid and figured that the only way to really be a fan was to be an alumnus. I eventually received a M.A. in Humanities from FSU with an emphasis in intellectual history and Romanticism. More importantly, though, FSU won the 1999 football national championship while I was there!
During my studies in intellectual history, I gradually moved more and more into philosophy as I realized I was more invested in what we ought to think and do than I was in what others had thought and done. I transferred to Vanderbilt University and completed a M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy with a focus on 19th and 20th Century European philosophy.
In the midst of graduate school, I married Vanessa, who had been my best friend/college roommate’s girlfriend. Yeah, that’s right!
After finishing my Ph.D. in 2006 I spent a year in the philosophy faculty at Vanderbilt before moving to Hendrix College for four years and finally accepting a position at Furman University in 2011, where I am now a Professor of Philosophy.
I have widely published in philosophy of religion, political philosophy, and topics related to existentialism and phenomenology. I am the author or editor of numerous books and have over 200 total publications. I have been the President of the Søren Kierkegaard Society (USA), the President of the South Carolina Society for Philosophy, a member of the Executive Board of the Society for Continental Philosophy and Theology, and held other offices in the Society for Christian Philosophers, and the American Academy of Religion.
I am also an award-winning teacher, a widely sought after speaker, and active public intellectual. In all my work I try hard to show the relevance of philosophy to life. Accordingly, I host a YouTube channel called “Philosophy for Where We Find Ourselves” and I am interviewed frequently for various podcasts on topics ranging from the philosophy of death to the relevance of mountain biking to religious existence, and from old school hip hop to democratic political theory.
I recently finished my first popular-audience level book, Camping with Kierkegaard: Essays on Faithfulness as a Way of Life, and have two other edited academic books in process: Philosophies of Liturgy, and Kierkegaardian Phenomenologies.
Vanessa and I have now been married for 22 years and we have a 13-year-old son, Atticus.
And, for what it is worth, I still think that trout fishing is the best way to spend one’s time . . . at least when you are not mountain biking.