Joseph Dowd is a philosophy professor and an amateur scholar of religion. He has a fairly unique background, having been born in South Korea but adopted by
Irish-American parents. He currently works as a professor of philosophy at Cal State San Bernardino, teaching classes on philosophy, ethics, and Asian
philosophy and culture.
His parents’ economic-justice-oriented Catholicism and lefty political leanings had a strong influence on him, instilling a concern for the poor that continues to
animate his thought, if not always his actions. He also has strong anti-war and anti-imperialist sentiments and marched against the Iraq war during his high
school days. Joseph believes strongly in the need for civil dialog across philosophical and ideological lines, especially in today’s polarized political climate. He is
the current organizer of THINK, a Meetup group where members discuss religious, ethical, and social issues over dinner.
Throughout his life, Joseph has always been either agnostic or one step away from agnosticism; however, he thinks that the Christian tradition contains insights
that today’s left can benefit from. The British literary critic and Catholic socialist Terry Eagleton has noted that at the center of the Christian story is the idea that
God’s ultimate self-revelation took the form of a tortured and crucified political prisoner. As the Dominican priest Herbert McCabe once quipped, we might
summarize the gospels’ message as follows: “If you don’t love, you’re dead. And if you do, they’ll kill you.”