“Someday, you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” -CS Lewis
It was late in the afternoon on Saturday the ninth of October when I met him, and he quickly and astoundingly proved himself more proficient about classic literature than anyone I know. He has read Lord of the Rings at least 53 times, once annually since 1968. He has been (wrongly or otherwise) accredited with authorship of the play “Revenge of the DWEMs”. And he was the oldest speaker at Semester this year and has been here annually since the beginning. I’m talking, of course, about Dr. Donald T. Williams, PhD., part-time Professor of English at Toccoa Falls College in Georgia.
I was one of the first students to meet him when he came to Snow Wolf Lodge this year, and we talked for a good ten minutes about his books (of which he has written at least eleven). Right away I knew that if nothing else, we shared a love for the magic of literature. Though he would shamelessly self-promote between every session of class, he never came off as blatantly arrogant. Dr. Williams opened his time with us by discussing the importance of literature: why Christians should read it, how God reveals himself in literature, the value of pagan literature in Christian culture, etc. He took us through the history of extrabiblical Christian literature, going as far back as Saint Ambrose. He discussed the differences between knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. He told us about the importance of context. All this before he even got into the literature itself.
Once he finally started talking about literature, it was the next best thing to journeying through Narnia or seeing a host of elven warriors. He examined the life of Lewis from his great but reluctant conversion to his time with the Inklings discussing the true myth. He gave insight into the mind of Tolkien during the creation of Middle Earth. But he didn’t just talk about Lewis and Tolkien; he also discussed Francis Schaeffer’s life and influence on the world today, the rise of Humanism from the Renaissance into secularism, and literature through the eyes of worldview (Christianity, Platonism, Pantheism, Secularism, and Postmodernism). All this and more were discussed before Thursday night. Then came Thursday night!
That night, Dr. Williams and six students put on the play, “Revenge of the DWEMs”. The play revolved around philosophers Socrates and Erasmus and their more modern colleagues, Nova Critica (from the mid-nineteen hundreds), and Post Modernica (from the postmodern age). Dr. Williams said that the conversation in the play was one that History sadly couldn’t have given us but should have. Using real-life conversations, the playwright weaves a story about the permeation of Postmodernism in today’s literature.
As a person, Dr. Williams is a very friendly guy who is known to have written hundreds of poems, many of which have been compiled in the book “Stars through the Clouds”. He has written books on authors CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, and GK Chesterton, on Christian Apologetics, and on strategies for young theologians. He even has a book on what the Devil thinks of Christians and culture, aptly titled “The Devil’s Dictionary”. He also has a history of acting in Shakespearean plays, most notably “Much Ado About Nothing” and “The Tempest” (although he claims that his most difficult role was that of a normal human being in the first Farvest Hall festival, in 2006). He’s the best speaker to come to Semester this year, and if you, dear reader, aren’t excited for him yet, you should be.
By Dan Strange, Daniel (or Dan, as he prefers) was born and raised in the postage-stamp-sized township of Union Mills (small), in Rutherford County, North Carolina. (He is finding writing in the third person about himself rather weird.) He came to Christ at the ripe old age of seven, two years after his older brother, and one before his younger. He comes from a [rather] large Christian home, where new babies have been the norm for almost twenty-five years, and where the public school has never played a part. He lives with five of his six brothers and three sisters, which can be stressful at times, but Dan loves each one of them deeply (oh, and a cat, for whom he has little affection). He has five years’ experience in Martial Arts (he was taught a unique blend of Karate, Ju-Jitsu, Kung Fu, Ty Quan Do, street fighting, etc., as well as Bo staff). He also has several years of music theory training, which is not to say he can play professionally (shame), but he’d like to think he can sing. In his spare time (rare), Dan likes to think, listen to music, read, play video games and has been known to make lyric videos of his favorite songs, some of which are on YouTube.