Socrates Café asks local minds to ponder tough questions

Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: The Socrates Café group ponders a question brought by one of the attendees on Monday, Sept. 12.Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: The Socrates Café group ponders a question brought by one of the attendees on Monday, Sept. 12.Do we have free will?

What is true strength?

What is truth?

Big, philosophical questions like these are what drive the Socrates Café, a bimonthly meeting of individuals from different backgrounds who discuss various philosophical ideas.

“We were just looking for a way to get a discussion group together — getting people together to have a good conversation,” said Rosemary Hendrix, who co-hosts the meetings with Bonnie Ray. “We pick a question each week. It’s supposed to be a philosophical question. We discuss the question; we’re not trying to come up with an answer to the question, we’re trying to get other people’s ideas.”

The group meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the chapel at Bethany Beach Christian Church. Each attendee brings a question to be discussed, and the group votes on what question they wish to discuss.

“Questions like, ‘What is love?’ and ‘Do you have to know war to know peace?’ — usually questions that don’t have an easy answer,” said Hendrix. “We put the question out, and whoever’s question it was gets to talk first. No one ever gets to talk for more than three minutes at a time, but you can talk as many times as you want.”

Those who attend are encouraged to bring pencil and paper, so they may write down their thoughts throughout the discussion.

“It’s never gotten heated,” she said. “The goal is to not get heated. The goal is to listen to each other and respect each other. You don’t have to agree, but respect.”

Hendrix, who attends Bethany Beach Christian Church, said that anyone, regardless of background or religion, is invited to participate in the group. She added that they make a point to stay away from questions related to religion and politics.

“It’s not supposed to be any sort of religion — you can be an atheist; you can be any ethnic group; you can be any person, any age. It’s to get people of various backgrounds to have a discussion. It’s not trying to tell somebody they’re wrong or right. It’s each person giving their ideas on the topic.”

She said the group formed about three years ago and has at any given meeting six to 12 attendees.

“Basically, the Disciple’s [of Christ] church,” the denomination of Bethany Beach Christian Church, “was founded in the 1800s with the idea that all different Christian religions could be under one church — it didn’t matter what your creed was.

“Within our church we don’t have any creeds or absolute beliefs, other than Jesus. We have people who are very liberal in their beliefs and some people who are very sentimental in their beliefs. The idea is you’re supposed to discuss your different ideas about Christianity or religion. That’s where the Socrates Café fits in — you’re supposed to take an idea and look at it in all different directions.”

Hendrix said those who are interested in discussing life’s great philosophical questions should stop by a meeting and exercise their gray-matter.

“If you’re really looking to have an interesting conversation, this is the place to come.”

Those who are interested in more information about the group may contact Hendrix at (302) 537-9417 or