Letter from the
Greetings from the shores of Lake Tahoe! It is my privilege to welcome you to this very special and iconic place in the American West and in God’s created order. We will be exploring with our minds, bodies and spirits what it means to be a 21st century Christian charged with caring for creation. The forests and peaks surrounding us offer an ideal setting in which to take up our task.
As a professor of philosophy and director of the Lake Tahoe Semester, I have been helping students integrate the exploration of wilderness and academic pursuits for the past 20 years. I started in much the same way that you are starting right now, by participating in an undergraduate program in the mountains that combined rigorous academics with wilderness exploration in a small, tightly-knit community. The experience of connecting wilderness with academic inquiry in a close community left an indelible mark on me and I arranged for my graduate work to be done in a place where I could ski, climb, and mountain bike as I pursued my doctorate. I ended up writing my dissertation on Aristotle as he is someone who knows a great deal about the integration of the natural world and the mind.
I have been leading students through the wilderness of the history of ideas and some of the great mountain ranges of the West since 1999 and seen, first-hand, how Christian community can be formed when we study and travel as the Body of Christ in wild places. The experiences in front of you this semester will produce more intrepid minds and hearts in the classroom and it is very likely that you will make life-long friends not just with the people you encounter here, but with the ideas and thinkers as well.
My prayer for you this semester is that you will become more whole and holy. Contemporary philosophers and historians of note agree that the dominant feature of postmodern life is fragmentation. Sadly, this fragmentation impacts even the Christian university where one’s spiritual, academic and social life can exist in almost entirely separate spheres of experience.
The goal this semester is to decrease our fragmentation by seeing how different academic disciplines interrelate and how one can bring the body, mind and spirit into a greater unity. Use this community that declares God’s truth to progress towards the wholeness offered us in the holy person of Christ.
David Williams, Ph.D.