Annual Orr Forum Explores Notions of Prophecy

What secrets does the future hold? Perhaps the answer is already out there.

Each year the Orr Forum, Wilson’s annual lecture series, changes themes. The 2014-2015 Orr Forum is called Prophetic Fragments. Faculty and guest speakers lecture on a topic related to the main theme of prophecy.

This month, Dr. John Elia, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Professor Robert Dickson, Associate Professor of Fine Arts and Dance, spoke for the Orr Forum. The two professors approached this year’s theme in different manners.

Elia’s lecture, “Imagination and Hope at the End of a Way of Life,” used “dustbowl novels to highlight, not just historic, but current and future environmental and social needs,” as Elia remarks.

Dickson’s lecture, “Prophetic Visions: Looking at Prophecy,” used religious images in the medieval and renaissance periods to evaluate prophetic statements, which critically analyze the time period they were created, about the last judgment and the apocalypse. In modern examples, Dickson looks at the apocalyptic floods and disasters that replace the last judgment images seen in earlier works.

Dickson notes, “There will be no zombies. The world seems complicated enough without them.”

The Orr Forum is designed to facilitate discussion among the community. Organizer of the forum, Dr. David True, Associate Professor of Religion, says that prophecy fascinates him.

True wants to bring these presentations to the public in order to create a conversation. “Here’s a form of discourse often routed in religion that spurs on a critical imagination, critical thinking, a culture of critic.”

“I think my primary hope is that it helps us locate a common time in what so many of us are drawn to in a liberal arts environment, that we get to continue and engage in being lifelong learners,” says Elia.

For more information about the Orr Forum, contact David True at

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